Download a PDF copy.
The city of Naperville will be holding elections on April 7, 2015 to elect a new mayor and members to the city council. A group called Make Naperville Puppy Mill Outlet Free has been contacting candidates to find out whether they would support an ordnance that would ban the sale of puppy mill dogs similar to the one recently passed in the city of Chicago.
Here is a list of their findings (note: this will be updated as new information becomes available).
City Council Candidates
Those in favor of a humane ordinance:
Those not responding:
The following responses are from the Mayoral Forum on March 16 at 7 pm at the Naperville Municipal Center.
See below for a link to the video.
Marty Walker “I actually love animals. And when I study this thing about animals being raised in puppy mills for the sale in stores, in some cases these animals are abused. They’re being violated. They’re not being well taken care of. We’re finding that cats and dogs are not being properly vaccinated. I’m 100% opposed to puppy mill sales. However, there are communities such as Cook county right now that are going through law suits. These law suits are costing a lot of money and being the fact that we’re in a deficit at this point, I don’t think it would be in our best interests to adopt our own particular ordnance against puppy mills. And I would be in favor of the state legislature to put together language we could adopt.”
James Hasselhorst “Well this is a very complicated issue to answer in 45 seconds. I got several emails about this and did post my more concise response to this question on my web page. The reality is that there are, one of the hardest things to do is to find concisely and legally what a puppy mill is. None of us like puppy mills. I’ve seen these efforts to get rid of puppy mills ever since I was a teenager in high school and we can see how long it’s been and they still exist. In some ways they’ve actually, the numbers have actually grown. It’s because there’s a demand here. And you can attack a supply side all you want but as anybody knows from economics, so long as there’s a demand, you are never going to get rid of the supply. The reality is pet shops only sell 15% of puppy mill puppies. That is not a significant dent in the puppy mill market to put these companies out of business.” [Editor's note: This statistic is untrue. Approximately 90-99% of dogs sold at pet stores are from puppy mills. Reputable breeders don't sell their dogs to pet stores.]
Note Jim Hasselhorst has also previously stated "For the Naperville City Council to enact such a law in the present legal environment would simply be negligent."
Doug Krause “Well, there’s over 40 cities who have passed this ordnance on this and most of them right now are in court spending tax payer’s money. With our budget situation, it is a better to take a wait and see what comes out of these court cases. But if it is going to be handled correctly, it should either be handled by the state like they did with smoke free instead of having a patch work done to make sure it’s consistently applied across all municipalities or department of agriculture with the federal government. But there has to be some uniformity so that the rules are all the same for everyone.”
Steve Chirico “I generally agree with Doug on this. In addition to that I have trouble by painting with a broad brush the idea that all puppy mills are evil or treating their animals inhumanely. I can’t accept that. And a puppy mill is really defined as a commercial breeder who has five females or more. From my perspective, any breeder who treats an animal inhumanely should be held accountable. That’s wrong. We all know it’s wrong. And it shouldn’t be allowed. But I don’t think that by applying a hard and fixed rule that says, ‘If you have five female dogs or less it means that you are treating your animals humanely. I don’t think that, I just can’t buy into that. So we need to have a better solution. But in the meantime I think this is going to have to be a court battle at the state level and probably at the federal level.”
Download a PDF of this list.
For more information on the problem of puppy mills and what you can do see the following:
For more information on the candidates see the following:
The problem is that 70-80% of people with celiac disease and NCGS don't have digestive issues. The vast majority of complaints and symptoms happen outside the intestine. The study did nothing to address those issues. All those folks out there saying, "See! Gluten sensitivity is a myth!" never read articles like: "The Dietary Intake of Wheat and other Cereal Grains and Their Role in Inflammation".
Gluten is a known factor in stimulating zonulin which is the hormone that regulates intestinal permeability.
The reason this is important is that the intestine is one of the first lines of defense in your immune system comprising about 80% of the protection you receive from foreign invaders. Increased permeability means undigested proteins and microbes are allowed to pass from the intestine into the blood stream. This leads to increased risk of developing an autoimmune diseases such as such as rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, lupus, asthma, dermatitis herpetiformis, anemia, osteoporosis, and infertility as well as diseases associated with chronic inflammation such as cardiovascular disease, migraines, metabolic syndrome, cancer, schizophrenia and depression.
Jennifer Esposito recently posted to her blog about this growing phenomenon of attacking the idea that gluten sensitivity outside of celiac disease is a myth. Like her, I lament at how those of us with NCGS are being trivialized. Her hypothesis is that this is a reaction to the fact that the gluten free industry has become a 25 billion dollar industry. That's 25 billion dollars not being spent on wheat products. As such, those whose income is derived from the wheat industry have an economic interest in ensuring that the "gluten free fad" is as short lived as possible.
While I agree that a lot of what's happening in the name of gluten free food is fad-ish and based on a false understanding of the actual benefits (or lack there of) of going gluten free, let's get this straight:
Gluten free is NOT a weight loss diet!
If you're giving up gluten to get a smaller waist, then you're doing it for the wrong reason. Can you lose weight giving up gluten? Yes, maybe. It depends on how you're giving up gluten and what you're substituting it with. If you're just buying gluten free breads, cookies and crackers to substitute for the gluten full ones, then you're wasting your time. You're just substituting one starch for another and probably adding in a bunch of extra sugar and not improving the nutritional density of your diet.
If you're adding more organic vegetables, fruits, quality meats and fats, then yes, you have a much better chance at not only losing weight but of getting healthier in general. Do you know what they do to fatten up cattle for slaughter? Feed them grains. Yep. Grains are fattening. So if you want to lose weight, then give up grains.
Another point to make:
Eating gluten free is NOT unhealthy!
There are those that would argue that going gluten free is unhealthy unless you have celiac disease because you're going to miss out on some important vitamins as well as all that fiber in whole grains.
Well, first off, if going gluten free was unhealthy for non celiacs, then why in the world would it be any less unhealthy for celiacs? Yet celiacs get much healthier abstaining from gluten. They aren't suffering from malnutrition from a lack of nutrients or from insufficient fiber in their diets. What's so magical about being celiac that they can be healthy on a gluten free diet but a non-celiac can't?
Second, the only reason this appears true on the surface is because people's initial idea of going gluten free is to substitute gluten free baked goods for the gluten filled ones (and I already mentioned above that this is a bad idea). Yes, a gluten filled baked good will have some additional vitamins not found in gluten free baked goods. Why? Because the gluten filled baked goods have had their wheat flour artificially fortified with extra vitamins that were removed in the processing of the flour and gluten free flours aren't similarly fortified.
However, if you substitute the vegetables, fruits, meats and fats I also mentioned above, you'll more than make up for any loss of vitamins in the gluten filled foods and you will get plenty of healthy fiber, too. In fact these foods are much more nutrient dense than grains. Plus, since grains are easily broken down into sugars which cause your blood sugar to spike, you reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and Type II Diabetes when you give them up. At one time, it was the norm for diabetics to be told to reduce or eliminate grains from their diet. That changed with the publication of the Food Pyramid by the USDA in the 1970s that recommended adding more whole grains (in direct conflict to what was recommended by Dr. Louise Light, former USDA Director of Dietary Guidance and Nutrition Education Research who thought grains should be limited to 2 servings a day and only as whole grains. See Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger).
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is REAL!
I can point to the tests that were run on me that prove that NCGS is a real thing. In 2010, I had an IgA (immunoglobulin gamma A) test for gluten antibodies. The more antibodies you have, the more your body is reacting to gluten. A weak positive result (meaning you have gluten sensitivity) is 15 units. A strong positive is 30 units. My test results came back at 50 units. I also had a genetic test through Enterolab to see if I carried either of the genes for celiac disease and I had neither of them, though I did have two copies of genes associated with gluten sensitivity. While the test is not 100% telling (they only test the beta portion of the gene so there's still a chance I carry one or more genes for celiac disease on the alpha portion). I had no endoscopy to biopsy the villi of my small intestine or other blood tests as I went straight to a gluten free diet when I got the positive IgA result (you have to have been eating gluten on a daily basis for some time in order to properly test for other celiac disease factors). See Who Needs a Gluten Test for more information on diagnosing gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Frankly, I didn't know about them back then. I also had no digestive issues so I'm not sure if knowing what I do now I would have bothered having the tests. False positives are rare, but false negatives aren't, so the tests may not have proved anything one way or another.
More importantly, I went from having 2-3 debilitating migraines every week to none within 2 months of giving up gluten. Chronic sinusitis? Gone. Systemic inflammation that my doctor was seeing in my annual exam also disappeared. Chronic anemia, also gone. So to folks like Charlize Theron and Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon who trivialize those of us who have to be gluten free I say, keep your uninformed opinions to yourself. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is real. It has a simple solution. So what if you're inconvenienced a little. It's nothing compared to the years, the decades of ill health that people like me have suffered due to a lack of diagnosis or the frustration we feel when we go out someplace and find there's nothing safe for us to eat. Suck it up. Pull on your big boy pants and learn to treat people with some compassion.
Oh, and if you had a gluten free baked good and found it tasted like cardboard, then you were doing it wrong. I've frequently made gluten and grain free baked goods that were indistinguishable from gluten filled ones. It's not that hard. Just check blog posts on Gluten Free Bread or Gluten Free Pot Stickers or my Pinterest boards.
Additional reading: Is Gluten Sensitivity Real by Chris Kresser
My father, Paul Raymond Potts, passed away a week ago. Today we are having his memorial service and I was asked if I would like to say something about him. Of course, I said, yes. I'm a writer after all. I have lots to say about this wonderful man.
It was well known that I was Daddy's Little Girl. My father made no secret about how much he loved me. Of course he loved all his children but I held a special place in his heart and he in mine. One day he even told me that I was his favorite daughter. To which I replied, "Uh, dad. I'm your only daughter." He said, "Well, yeah, that too."
My family loves to tell the story of how I came into this world. My parents had planned on only having two children, a boy and a girl. Unfortunately for them (but fortunate for my middle brothers), I took my sweet time arriving. My parents ended up having four boys before I was born. My birth was the only occasion my father ever gave my mom red roses. At that time, fathers weren't allowed in the delivery room (something I'm sure my dad would have wanted to do), so he stayed home with my older siblings. When he called the hospital to inquire about his wife and new child, the nurse turned to my mom and asked, "Can I tell him the sex of the baby?" My mother replied "Yes! Otherwise he won't come pick us up!"
My father was one of the kindest and most generous souls I have ever known. You had but to ask and he was johnny-on-the-spot. So much so that sometimes his independent daughter found it necessary to tell him, "Daddy, I do it my rown self!"
Growing up, I cherished the times he and I were able to have our own father-daughter time together. I know he did too. Like when I was in Blue Birds and we had our father-daughter dinners. Each troup got up and put on a presentation. When it was our turn my father sat there beaming. And while I was doing my solo bit, I think I saw him floating about 3 feet off the ground.
I also adored the times when he and I got to spend time, just the two of us, doing ordinary things. My father loved camping and hiking. To him, that was quality time spent with his family. He and his step-father would go hiking through the southern California hills and liked to recreate that experience with his children. One of my favorite things to do was going fishing with him. He and I would get up at the crack of dawn and go out in the canoe. Dad would paddle while I held two poles, one off each side of the canoe. There was a serenity about that time of the morning and sharing it with my dad made it even more special.
His love for me never waned. When I joined the Navy, I think he had a harder time with the separation than I did. I describe the first week of training as akin to a college hazing. We aren't allowed to do anything without asking for permission not even to go to the bathroom. So, there was no opportunity to call my parents after arriving. I had planned to call them on Saturday once we had completed our indoctrination and I was allowed more freedom to come and go. My father, however, was too impatient and Friday night, calls the barracks looking for me. He was worried he hadn't heard from me. For the next four months if he didn't get a phone call or letter every week, he would write to me asking if he had done something to upset me. I had to reply, "No dad, I'm just busy."
When I would send photos of me in uniform, mom said he would practically stop strangers in the street to show them. When I came home after graduating from Officer Candidate School, dad stood there saluting me as I came off the airplane. Yeah, he was proud of me.
Over the years dad and I tried out a number of things together like learning how to water ski and down hill skiing (we both sucked at the latter). I had come home to visit one Christmas after joining the service and he suggested we make a trip to Mount Ashland. We rented some skis and took some remedial skiing lessons then went on to tackle the bunny slopes. We had different techniques. Mine was the creeping snow-plow. Frankly, I could have walked down the mountain faster but at least I didn't fall! Dad's was whoosh and crash. Which was much like how he approached life, with gusto and vigor and not afraid to take a risk.
As I said, my dad was always quick to be of assistance. A trait that never failed him. On another trip home to visit, I had gotten up in the morning and my dad, always the early riser, was already in the kitchen getting the tea ready. He asked me what I'd like for breakfast and I replied, "I don't know. What do you have?" He then rattled off a list of various breakfast food items and finally said, "But if you'd like something else, just let me know and I'll go get it!" I had to tell him, "Dad, you're being too helpful!"
When I started getting into genealogy and wanted to create scrapbooks with the information of my family's history, he was an inordinate help, scanning photos and sending them to me with a little caption so I'd know who/when/where the photos were taken (at least as much as he knew of them). He even dutifully followed my instructions on how to scan high resolution photos so they would be print quality. I was suitably impressed at how well he caught on. I gotta give the guy credit. Despite his late introduction into the digital age, he really tried to learn and use the computer. It enabled him to reconnect with his old photography friends and to share photos.
Dad always had an optimistic outlook on life. If you asked him how he was doing, he'd say, "Faaaantastic!" That certainly describes him as husband, father and friend to everyone he met.
Love and hugs, dad. You will be greatly missed.
Finally, here is a rendition of "our" song. My dad use to sing this to me when I was a little girl. I can't help but think of him every time I hear it.
While there was more room for the vendor fair at the Westin, they don't have the dedicated classroom with stadium seating and desks of the Wyndham , just a small room with chairs lined up in rows which made the classes more difficult to watch and to take notes. It was also pretty tight in there so it was harder for the folks bringing in the samples to maneuver.
Saturday morning found me leaving the house later than I intended and having to rush to get to the hotel on time (the event was 12 miles from my house so, cheapskate that I am, I opted to not get a room). Turned out the pair of pants I was originally intending to wear were too big and I had to rifle through the closet to find something smaller to wear (nice problem to have to deal with). I managed to get there about 10 minutes before the start of the first session.
By the time I got to the class, it was already packed and I ended up in the very back of the room. It made taking photos difficult but not impossible.
The class was called Italian and Asian Adventures. I was really looking forward to this as the first presenter was Laura Russell, author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen (which I reviewed in October). The session did not disappoint. She made three dishes, Barbecued Pork Fried Rice, Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Spinach and Beef, and the Gingery Pork Pot Stickers an Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce I made in my review. After each dish, a sample was passed to everyone in the room. It was very informative. For instance, I learned that Mirin cannot be substituted for Sake in the Stir-Fried Glass Noodle dish because it's too sweet and the dish is best with a dry Sake. She also talked about the options in gluten free Asian noodles.
Next up were the folks from DaLuciano Restaurant in River Grove. Originally it was the store's owner, Rosalia Libreri who was suppose to present but she had to make an emergency trip overseas so her son, Ignazio, and son-in-law, did the presentation. Ignazio is a co-owner and chef and he and his brother-in-law made a great team. They made a Bruschetta and a meat sauce for spaghetti. Their restaurant features a full gluten free menu which they developed when several family members were diagnosed with Celiac disease. The pasta they served with the meat sauce was a corn based product.
The final presenter for the morning session was Jen Cafferty, the founder of the Expo who made Tiramisu. Some of the lady fingers she use in her recipe came from DaLuciano Restaurant. The process for making it was pretty simple. I have never made it myself as I was never all that big on it even when I ate gluten (it uses espresso and Kahlua to soak the lady fingers in and I'm not a fan of the flavor of coffee and drinking alcohol gives me migraines).
Brandy Wendler, Mrs. Alaska 2012 International, helped out in the morning sessions, fielding questions from the audience and repeating them so it would be heard by all the members of the audience and on the video tape of the session. She has a masters in nursing and has started a non-profit, A Spoonful of Wellness. She was diagnosed with celiac disease 4 years ago and has been trying to educate others about the disease and healthy cooking but no one wanted to listen to her as a health professional so she entered the Mrs. Alaska contest in order to use that as a platform to spread the word about gluten intolerance.
Also there helping out was Sueson Vess. She is a contributing writer for Living Without magazine and was a presenter at last year's Expo. She also does presentations at my local Whole Foods and has a blog called Special Eats as well as a cookbook called “Special Eats: Simple Delicious Solutions for Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Cooking”.
During the break between the morning and afternoon sessions, I started making the rounds of the vendor fair. I took samples of everything and grabbed every flyer and business card I could find. After all, I had promised to report back to my Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance support group. I managed to get about halfway through the vendor fair before having to head back for the afternoon classes. While at the vendor fair, I stopped by Laura Russell's table where she was selling her book. Since she wasn't going to be there the second day (and I didn't think to bring her book with me), she kindly offered to sign a label that I could put in my book.
The afternoon class was on Healthy Living. I was able to get a seat in the front row this time (there weren't as many people in the afternoon class as the morning). The first part featured Robert Landolphi who's a Certified Culinary Arts Instructor and Culinary Development Manager with the University of Connecticut. He is also author of the books Gluten Free Everyday Cookbook and Quick Fix Gluten Free Cookbook. He made a "Very Berry Flax" Smoothie, "Top of the Morning" Muffins and Chewy Oat and Fruit Bars.
One of his tips was that if substituting Earth Balance for butter in baking that you should cut back on the Earth Balance or you'll end up with a "waxy" flavor. He suggested 6 Tbsp Earth Balance per 8 Tbsp of butter (personally, I prefer to use butter or coconut oil rather than butter substitutes).
He discussed the variety of options available to students at the University of Connecticut. Certainly, if I had been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance when I was in college, I would have been sorely tempted to go there for my higher education.
Next up was Ryan Hutmacher, co-founder of Centered Chef which serves to educate, entertain and inspire a well balanced lifestyle. He made an entire meal consisting of Grilled Asparagus with Citrus, Chicken Rosamarino and Quinoa Pilaf with Roasted Butternut Squash and Toasted Pine Nuts. One of his tips was that, when frying up chicken breasts, you know when to turn them when there is a "crown" of cooked chicken on the uncooked side.
After the second class, I had some time to kill waiting for the gluten free dinner that was an additional event you could purchase a ticket for. The vendor fair was closed for the evening so I went out to my car with my "stash" and read through my two autographed books by Robert Landolphi (hey, they had been on my Amazon.com "wish list" so why not get them at the Expo and get them signed while I was at it?).
The dinner was at Mon Ami Gabi. I ended up at a table occupied by a woman from Conte's Pasta (her brother started the company). I had met her the year before, again at the Saturday night dinner. Eventually we were joined by another couple who were friends of the Expo's founder Jen Cafferty and her husband (who also joined us, though I never saw where Jen, herself ended up sitting). The restaurant had lousy acoustics and my hearing aid's "Speech in Noise" setting wasn't sufficient to counter the background din. Hearing and being heard were difficult. You didn't so much talk at people as yell at them. As a result, when we were giving our orders, the waiter misunderstood me and didn't supply me with the advertised dessert. Oh well.
The food was, mostly good, though the gluten free French Onion Soup left a bit to be desired. There was very little soup and mostly lots and lots of cheese and a rather hard, tasteless bread. The other unfortunate thing about the dinner turned out to be my dinner companions. While the woman from Conte's Pasta was nice, the husband of the couple opposite me (the friends of the Expo founder) not so much. I learned early on that the couple's political leanings were diametrically opposed to my own so I avoided any discussions of a political nature. After all, this weekend was suppose to be about gluten free living. I was more interested in sharing stories of how others were managing their gluten free lifestyle.
I don't know about the wife, but the husband was not someone who followed a gluten free diet. As a result, his topics of conversation were not what I would have chosen to discuss, particularly anything of a political nature. However, the more the husband drank, the more obnoxious he became and the more he seemed determined to convince me of the error of my political ways. It didn't help that this odious man couldn't carry on an actual discussion but continually cut me off, talked over me, and was dismissive my arguments. The man was a salesman of medical equipment and had that typical pushy, arrogant salesman personality. At one point I just stopped talking as I contemplated the chance of having a constructive conversation with him and realized that I was essentially talking to a brick wall. This man did not wish to consider the viability of my arguments but only wanted to beat me into philosophical submission.
To make matters worse, I had made the mistake of taking the bench seat so was blocked in on both sides with no easy way of exiting. Note to self. When sitting with people you don't know and may not like, make sure you have a ready escape route. Eventually, the couple on the other side of me left and I took advantage of the opening to vacate the premises. It was late and I still needed to drive home. By the time I left, I was angry and upset and the meal sat like a lead weight in my stomach. I tried using the drive home to calm down but I was still pretty wound up so I didn't get off to sleep until well after midnight, an all together unpleasant end to an otherwise pleasant day. Frankly, if I'd had an inkling of how the dinner would end up, I would have saved myself the cost of the meal and simply gone home to eat.
Thanks to the previous night's unpleasantness, I woke up the next day with a headache. Trying to get my act together was difficult and once again I found myself running late. To make matters worse, there was a marathon of some sort that morning and the route I would normally take was partially closed, forcing me to take several detours which made me even later. As a result, I opted to take the tollway to make up for lost time. Again, I got there with a few minutes to spare and once again ended up at the back of a packed room.
First up was Blissful Baking, beginning with Karen Morgan of Blackbird Bakery and author of Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free cookbook. She made an Orange-Infused Angel Food cake, Pistachio Mango Gelato and Gluten Free Pizzelles. Some tips she offered for the Angel Food Cake were that the egg whites are sufficiently whipped when they stick inside the whisk. She also uses a whisk to fold in the dry ingredients and keep the eggs from deflating. Lastly, she recommends running a spatula around the edge of the tube pan to create a lip before baking. It was all absolutely delish (and yes, I bought her book, too, and had her sign it). One of the cool things is that they had a device that fit on a smart phone which swipes a credit card for those wanting to pay by plastic.
Next up was Kyra Bussanich from Crave Bake Shop, best known as the gluten-free baker who won Cupcake Wars. She made mini Coconut Cream Pies and Truffle Fudge Brownies. Brandy Wendler was once again helping out during the morning session and before the start of Kyra's presentation she changed into a T-Shirt from Crave Bake Shop. She and Kyra had partied the night before and were quite the characters together during the presentation.
One of Kyra's suggestions was that if you overcook brownies, to grind them up and use them as a crust for cheese cake. Also, if you put a can of fully fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, when you open the can the next morning, you can skim the fat off the top and turn it into coconut whipped cream. Finally, if you're out of confectioner's sugar, take regular sugar and either corn or tapioca starch and grind them together until it forms a fine powder.
Both Karen and Kyra not only provided a lot of good information but they were highly entertaining as well. There was an awful lot of laughter involved in both their presentations.
During the break between classes, I finished my rounds at the vendor fair and picked up a stack of magazines for my CD/GI support group. Since we were sampling all the foods at the classes and most of the vendors had free samples, it wasn't necessary to sit down for an actual lunch.
The last class was Bread and Beyond. It began with Beth Hilson, author of Gluten-Free Makeovers, Food Editor at Living Without magazine, Founder of Gluten-Free Pantry, and President of American Celiac Disease Alliance, making Sunflower Flax Bread in a bread machine and a master dough that could be made into either Bacon Rosemary Breadsticks or Soft Pretzels. There was a small problem with the samples and it turned out they didn't have enough of the soft pretzels to go around. As there were several full sized pretzels (vs. the bite size pieces being passed around) that she used to show what the final product looked like, those of us who didn't get the samples, helped ourselves to the full sized versions. Frankly, I was unimpressed with her breads. They were okay, but nothing to write home about.
When making bread in a bread machine, she recommends that you don't put the salt on top of the yeast or it will "burn". My bread machine (the same brand as she was using, a Zojirushi) says to mix all the dry ingredients together except for the yeast, put the wet ingredients in, top with the dry ingredients and then make a small well to put the yeast in. When it comes to flour, she recommended Amaranth as one flour to use in a blend because it has high protein, fiber and adds elasticity. In her recipes, she was using Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour. She said it was not necessary to proof your yeast for baking bread (unless the yeast is older and you aren't sure it's any good) and did not see a particular advantage to weighing your ingredients vs. using volume measurements.
Those last two pieces of advice were the exact opposite of the recommendations of the next presenters, Peter and Kelli Bronski, authors of Artisanal Gluten Gluten-Free Cupcakes, Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking and the No Gluten No Problem blog. They proofed their yeast for every recipe which included Rosemary Focaccia, Baguettes, and Bagels. They also were firm believers that weighing gives better results. While I have had great results in baking my favorite gluten-free bread without proofing the yeast first, I do agree that, for baking bread, weighing is better.
I will also say, their breads were much better tasting. The focaccia was especially good. They also recommend that to go egg free with the bread recipes to use 1 Tbsp flax mixed with 4 Tbsp of water.
So, that was it. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and everything I learned. The only downsides being the belligerent dinner companion on Saturday night and the fact that sometime on Saturday I lost a bracelet. It wasn't an expensive item, but I had bought it only a month before for my birthday and it featured little cats and dogs on it. I contacted both the hotel and the restaurant about it, but no one had turned it in. I left them my contact information though I don't expect I'll ever see it again. :-(
Once again, I had a great time in the classes and really learned a lot. Which is why this is probably my last year attending the Expo. Apparently, it's become too difficult to manage the classes and since the vendor fair has really taken off, they are going to concentrate on that instead. There will still be cooking demos but there won't be samples to pass around of the food made. Which, for me, is an important aspect of the cooking classes. I can buy all the cookbooks in the world but unless I can imagine what a recipe will taste like, I am not likely to make it (I hate wasting time and money making something I can't stand to eat). The cooking classes give me the opportunity to not only see how something is made but how it tastes. I can explore taste combinations that I never would have thought to try and discover new flavors that I love.
Years ago I use to attend a number of Science Fiction conventions. I went to them to hear the invited guests speak, not to go through the dealer room. For me, the dealer room was a way to pass the time of day while waiting for the next presentation. I might actually buy something, but it was not what drew me to the convention. I feel the same way about the Expo. It was the classes that drew me to it, not the vendor fair. As I've moved farther and farther away from eating processed foods, the offerings of the vendor fair hold less and less appeal for me.
Even though they intend to hold cooking demos, the lack of samples for them makes them less desirable. Plus, I find the craziness of the vendor fair with all the people talking at once nerve wracking. It's hard for me, as a hearing impaired person, to follow what is being said. I was grateful to only spend an hour or two at the vendor fair and happy to leave. Even when the vendors were giving away the leftovers of their samples at the end of day two, I chose to skip the freebies in favor of the quiet of the classroom.
I am glad I attended the last two years and hopefully there will be other opportunities to take part in some kind of gluten free cooking classes at other venues but I can skip the Expo's vendor fair in the future.
_In case you don't know, Patricia Tallman is an actress/stunt woman who, among other things, starred in one of my all time favorite TV shows, Babylon 5. She played Lyta Alexander, a telepath who becomes a central figure in the plot that involves several alien races and struggles for power and control.
It was an awesome show and she played a real kick-ass character. I had the opportunity to meet Pat at the Visions Science Fiction Convention in Chicago in 1997. She was a guest along with fellow Babylon 5 cast members, Julie Caitlin Brown (aka Na'Toth) and Jeff Conaway (aka Zack Allen). It was a very fun weekend and Pat even stopped by the Babylon 5 party my friends and I hosted. She loved the teddy bear cake I made with the words "Babearlon 5" written on it. When I told her Joe Straczynski (Babylon 5's creator and producer) didn't appear to be very fond of it when he came to the B5 party we threw in San Antonio, she said, "Fuck Joe."
Pat had some fantastic stories to tell of being Gina Davis' stunt double in The Long Kiss Goodnight. If you ever have a chance to see her at a convention, do it. You'll be glad you did. She's very engaging and funny. The only complaint I had was that it was very hard to get a good picture of her onstage, not because she's not beautiful (she obviously is) but because she is so animated when she speaks that all my pictures came out blurry! But then, that's what makes for an entertaining experience.
So, if you are all a fan of Pat or of Babylon 5, I highly recommend her memoir, Pleasure Thresholds. Besides a behind the scenes look at the show, her journey as the character and tons of pictures, there's also a bonus CD-ROM with some video clips of her talking about the book and working on Babylon 5. In addition, the CD includes an audio commentary of the Babylon 5 episode that she does along with Joe Straczynski "Secrets of the Soul." You'll need to have something that can play the audio track while you watch the episode. In my case, I put the audio track on an MP3 player so I could sit in comfort in my living room watching my DVD of the episode. It took a couple of attempts on my part to get the two synced up but I blame that on the clumsiness of the operator. And in case it wasn't obvious from before, Pat doesn't censor her words and she has a bawdy sense of humor so this might be a treat you keep away from the wee kids.
There's a lot of information she reveals regarding how the television industry works (especially how smarmy suits can ruin a good thing). She also talks candidly about her co-workers and the deaths of actors Andreas Katsulas, Rick Biggs and Jeff Conaway. You learn just how hard it is for the average actor to make a living and what it's like working as both an actress and a stunt woman. I know I couldn't have done what she does.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Pleasure Thresholds and watching/listening to the bonus material on the CD. The book and CD are for sale through Cafe Press at: http://www.cafepress.com/b5pat. Oh, and it's also autographed by both her and Joe. I think it is well worth the price and you'd be helping a hard working and dedicated actress/stunt woman who's also actively involved in Penny Lane, a home for abused children. She and her fans have helped raise more than $250,000 for them over the last several years.
So, what is FVAWL? It's the Fox Valley Animal Welfare League. They are an animal welfare group in the far western suburbs of Chicago. They aren't a shelter but they partner with them to help get animals out of animal control and kill shelters and into foster homes and no-kill shelters. They've been around since 1946 and this year are opening a low cost Spay/Neuter Clinic. When I was working with A.D.O.P.T. a lot of the cats whose photos I took were ones that came to them through FVAWL. Some of my foster cats also passed through their program, including (via her mom), my own little Arwen.
The clinic director, Rich Glessner, is the former director of A.D.O.P.T. He asked me if I'd be willing to help them out with their website as well as their Facebook and Twitter accounts. I was glad to help.
I'm very excited about this new direction FVAWL is taking. It's a much needed service and their goal is to try and prevent animals from ever getting into the shelter system. Only through an aggressive spay/neuter program can you effectively prevent the tens of thousands of births of unwanted dogs and cats that happens every day. While having no-kill shelters is great, the tragic fact is, far more animals are born every day than there are people who can take care of them.
FVAWL also wants to provide humane education to the community, teaching people the value of spay/neuter, prevention of animal cruelty as well as how to have a rewarding and loving relationship with their pets.
Rich put together this wonderful video to promote the opening of the new clinic:
The clinic will be offering spay/neuter surgeries at three different price points:
They are also going to be opening up a food pantry for pets later this year to help those struggling to afford food for their animals. Soon they plan on restarting their foster program and eventually, they want to open up a shelter.
It's a very ambitious set of goals and I'm very happy to be able to assist in achieving them. I encourage you to check out their website and to start following them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
One dish that I haven't had since before I went gluten free (about a year and a half ago) has been pot stickers. I love pot stickers. There was a Chinese restaurant I use to pass on the way home from work and many's the time I would call ahead and pick up an order of pot stickers to go. So, when I saw a new cookbook that was due to be published in August of 2011, I put it on my wish list of books to get. I was so excited when it finally came out. On the cover of the book was....pot stickers!
So, natch, the first thing I had to make was...pot stickers. Granted, it would mean making the dough for these delectable dumplings from scratch but, I figured it would be worth it. I finally managed to set aside enough time to devote to the preparation of this long awaited and much desired meal.
And they were fantastic!
The book is The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen and includes recipes for most of the common sauces used in Asian cooking. A god-send for someone who is not just gluten but also soy intolerant. I was able to substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce in the dipping sauce.
I also substituted chopped green onions for the jalapeño/red pepper flakes since I'm a complete wuss when it comes to spicy foods.
While my pot stickers weren't as neatly formed as the ones in the book, they were close enough for my needs and more importantly they tasted like the wheat based ones I use to buy from that Chinese restaurant.
I will say that the original instructions had you go through several (in my opinion) unnecessary steps when forming the wrappers. They must also have made theirs a lot smaller than mine since the recipe claims to make 28 pot stickers and I ended up with 11. However, based on the amount of filling they said to put into each wrapper, I don't see how they could have managed to make the wrappers any smaller than I did. When I tried using smaller portions, it made the dough thinner and would tear too easily. You can also chuck part of it up the fact that I'm kinda lazy when it comes to baking. I'm not a fussy person and perfection goes against my grain.
Instead of dividing the dough into two sections, rolling each into a rope and cutting into 14 pieces each before rolling out into a disk, I just pinched off a small piece, rolled it into a ball, flattened and rolled out to the appropriate size to fit around the filling. Since the dough is prone to drying out, I figured the less handling, the better. I was also concerned about rolling the dough too thin and having it tear.
So far, though, I have to say I love this book. If you have to be gluten free (and even if you don't) and want to learn how to make your own Asian dishes from scratch, then I highly recommend you get this book.
Recipes reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More. Copyright © 2011 by Laura B. Russell, Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press and the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo Credit: Leo Gong.
Soy Vinegar Dipping Sauce
Stir together all the ingredients in a small serving bowl. The
dipping sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about
1 week with fresh jalapeno or 2 weeks with red pepper flakes.
*Note: Not all soy sauce is created equal. Most commercial brands in the U.S., unless they specifically say they are wheat/gluten free are not safe for anyone who is gluten intolerant. So check the label. There are a number of brands (San-J, La Choy, Chung King, and Eden Brand) that offer a gluten free version of their soy sauces. Tamari sauce is naturally gluten free (but be careful and double check the label as some types of shoyu that have gluten have been marketed as Tamari).
I prefer the less spicy taste of the green onions. It provides just the right amount of zing without making it too hot. I could have eaten the entire amount in one sitting but I decided to reserve half for a second meal.
So this is Hazel, my "foster failure" that I adopted recently. (A foster failure is a foster animal that the person fostering ends up adopting themselves.) I had named her after one of the characters from the play "Mourning Becomes Electra" because her mother's name is....Electra. Yeah, it's a theme. I don't mind using themes in the naming of cats. I just don't like to be obvious about it (like naming all the kittens in a litter after types of food or cars). However, when I named her, I didn't realize at the the time that she would eventually become a permanent member of the "fur family". Whenever I think of that name, I flash back to the old television sitcom called Hazel. The image of the frumpy housekeeper from the TV show just doesn't mesh with the image of the cute little fur ball that is now a Resident Cat.
The other Resident Cats have a theme to their names, too. They are all of a Celtic origin (Duncan, Galen and Caitlyn). My family roots are Irish, Welsh, Scottish and English so it seemed appropriate. I also prefer giving cats (and dogs) "human" names as they are every bit as much a member of the family as the humans in the household. So, I have compiled a list of names that I've been toying with. They are:
When you have to go gluten free as I do, the one food item that seems most elusive to recreate in a gluten free form is bread. Cakes and cookies are a breeze to make gluten free and not miss the gluten. Bread is a much more delicate creature. The gluten in wheat flour has a magical quality when used in bread. It's what gives bread the elasticity and rise we've come to love in a good loaf. After being diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, I had begun to experiment with both commercially made breads as well as home made varieties. While I managed to get things that looked like bread, taste and consistency were another matter. Most breads were dry and crumbled into tiny pieces if used untoasted. And while I like toast, there are some times when I want a regular, soft, flavorful piece of bread to make a sandwich with.
Finally, last spring, I ran across Silvana Nardone's recipe, Isaiah's Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread. At long last! A bread that was moist, delicious and didn't crumble into a thousand pieces. I can make up a loaf on Sunday and still have slices that are edible on Friday that don't need to be toasted. That's the thing about most gluten free breads, after the first day, they are only palatable when toasted. Now, I could finally have sandwiches every day for lunch.
There are a couple of tricks to making good gluten free bread. The first is the recipe, of course. But in addition to that, here are some rules that will help ensure success.
Always weigh your ingredients
Don't use a measuring cup to measure out gluten free flours. Because foods settle, you can end up getting up to 50% more of an ingredient than the recipe calls for if you measure it rather than if you weigh it. Flours are no different. A cup of sifted flour will weigh a lot less than a cup of flour that has been allowed to settle, particularly so if you're one of the scoop and level folks, that adds to the compaction. With bread, the ratios of wet to dry ingredients are key to getting a good result. Weighing the ingredients will ensure consistent results.
Silvana's recipe gives the amounts in both volume and weight. I say, skip the volume and always use weight. The United States is one of the few countries that relies on volume measurements in their recipes. Europeans have already discovered the increased accuracy in weighing foods vs. measuring them.
So, what if you don't have a kitchen scale? The simplest answer is buy one! They are not expensive and after using it awhile, you'll wonder how you did without it. If you absolutely must use measuring cups then whatever you do, don't scoop with the measuring cup and level the ingredients. Use a large spoon or a kitchen scoop and pour the flour into your measuring cup and level.
Don't let your bread rise in a pre-heated oven
I know a lot of cooks will tell you to preheat your oven to its lowest temperature (about 200°), turn off the oven and put your bread in there to rise. Frankly, that's too hot an environment. The bread will rise too quickly and is almost guaranteed to fall during the cooling phase. Gluten free bread needs to rise more slowly and not too high before baking. Without gluten to support the structure, the bread can't sustain the height. If you need a warm, draft free location, stick the bread in your microwave (but don't turn it on while the bread is in there). If your house is particularly cold, you can take a glass of water and nuke it for no more than a minute before putting the bread inside. When I make Isaiah's Bread, I only let it rise slightly above the level of the pan. It will continue to rise as it bakes. In so doing, the crust is able to properly form and support the final height of the bread.
Let your ingredients come to room temperature before starting
Yeast is a very sensitive thing. If your ingredients are too cold at the start it will inhibit the growth of the yeast and therefore the rise of your bread. As gluten free flours are best stored in either the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from going rancid, you will need to plan ahead to ensure they are at room temperature when you are about to begin. To speed up the process you can microwave them for a few seconds after you have measured them out (no need to heat up the rest of the flour that isn't being used). Make sure you don't overheat the flour because that can also adversely affect the yeast. For eggs, set them in a glass of warm water, but not too hot otherwise they may start to cook in the shell.
I made a few alterations to the recipe that I thought improved the texture, longevity and/or nutritional profile.
(Note: for the original recipe and pictures of each step, see Silvana's article)
Note: the bran/rice flour mixture sprinkled on the top and three diagonally slices in the loaf are merely to add to the artisan appearance of the loaf and are optional.
I will often make up several batches of the dry ingredients and store them in a ziplock back in the refrigerator. It saves a little time in the preparation.
Pictured above is the first loaf I made using 85g of organic non-fat powdered milk. To the right is the loaf I made using 85g of Montina™ Baking Supplement. If you like your bread with more fiber, just use the Montina™. If you'd like it with less fiber, use all powdered milk or as I usually do now, about 45g of Montina™ and 40g of powdered milk.
Expandex™ is a gluten free non-GMO modified tapioca starch that helps improve the texture and longevity of baked foods, especially breads. The process for modification is proprietary but according to one source I read, it involves fermentation rather than chemical treatment. Silvana's recipe did not specifically call for using Expandex™ and will work fine with regular tapioca starch. Also, some people have reportedly experienced "digestive issues" (i.e. diarrhea or vomiting) using it. However, I've never had any problems using it and I know there are lots of others that swear by it. It does improve the texture and longevity of bread, in my opinion.
About Montina™ Pure Baking Supplement
Silvana's recipe called for whey powder. I looked all around the stores in my area and the only whey powder was the kind in protein drinks that typically had other flavors/ingredients in them. The online sources that I could find required you to buy it by the case. Silvana's other suggestion was to use soy protein powder but I'm allergic to soy, too. The common feature of both whey and soy protein powders is, well, the high levels of protein.
While surfing the web for an alternative ingredient that would provide the protein content of the whey powder, I found Montina™ Pure Baking Supplement. Montina™ is made from Indian ricegrass. It's a Native American grass that grows in the plains of the United States. It's naturally gluten free and is high in protein and fiber. Montina™ was developed by the University of Montana to boost the financial security of farmers who were having difficulty making ends meet cultivating more conventional grains like wheat, rye and barley. They needed a grain that was drought tolerant and could grow well in poor quality soil. For more information about Montina™ and their products go the their website: Montina™ Amazing Grains. (Note: as of 2013, this product appears to be no longer available)
About the Author
I'm a tech writer who loves animals and fostering homeless cats and kittens. After being diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), I adopted a Paleo/Keto lifestyle to improve my diet and repair my gut. I have a passion for learning and sharing that knowledge with others (probably why I became a tech writer in the first place). My interests range from cooking, scrapbooking, and animal welfare to home improvement, genealogy, and photography. This blog will likely cover a wide variety of topics as the mood hits me.
The Paleo Mom
Nom Nom Paleo
Ditch the Wheat
Mark's Daily Apple
Low Carb Yum
All Day I Dream About Food
Keto Cooking Christian
My Life Cookbook
The Castaway Kitchen
My Montana Kitchen
Ditch the Carbs