Celiac Disease /Gluten Intolerance

NaNoWriMo Ends – Crazy Quilting This Blog to Wrap Up

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The Eiffel Tower at midnight, 21 (22) November 2009

Today it ends – National Novel Writing Month. I have spent the past 30 days accruing words on this not-so-novel-but-writing-project-nonetheless.  As of last Friday, I now have 54,952 words posted on this blog, give or take. By adding WordPress word counts manually, that’s what it says I have. I have yet to upload to the NaNoWriMo site to verify my word count, but I will do that when I finish this post.

What is foremost in my mind today however is, “How do I wrap this month up on this blog? What is the “ending” to the stories I have been telling this past month?

Continue reading

Categories: Celiac Disease /Gluten Intolerance, Gluten-Free Recipes, Language Learning, Life in Paris, Paris Adventures, Paris Friends, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Am…

… exhausted.

But first, a photo from the weekend:

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Place des Ternes, 17th arrondissement, 14 November 2009

This is the post that I started yesterday, but am finishing today. If you recall from the previous post, I wrote that yesterday I had the BEST conversation with Karen, someone I have met in the city through this blog (!). We learned a lot more about one another’s Paris stories on the phone yesterday and tomorrow we have plans to go on an Adventure. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, here is what I began yesterday and finished today.

I am on day 16 (17 now, as I post this) of NaNoWriMo after taking two days off this weekend. I have a ton I can write about, I got the grocery shopping completed by 1 pm this afternoon (a record for me, I think!) just so I could sit down and write and not be interrupted by thoughts of , “Oh, I have to do X!” or “OMG, I must do Y!” It is now 3 pm, I do not know where the past couple of hours has gone, but know that I now have to spin out about a thousand words an hour over the next three hours to keep up with my postings for the challenge. (This, of course, was pleasantly interrupted by Karen, and if she reads this part, I do not want her to feel the interruption was not wanted. As I told her on the phone, the whole reason I created this blog was to LIVE LIFE better, to potentially meet new people through it, and to go and have experiences about which to write! Her interruption is furthering the goals of this blog’s original premise and to not talk with her would have been an serious and flagrant act of jumping the shark. So I am most pleased I did not meet my word goals yesterday. I am still ahead of the game, I am sure I will more than make up for it today). [A little later: BOY HOWDY. Did I ever. LOL.]

All this, and I am reacting to foods again today, just as I was over the weekend. Continue reading

Categories: Candida/Candidiasis, Celiac Disease /Gluten Intolerance, Food Intolerances, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

On Cabbage and Tea

Yesterday, 8 October 2009, I did something truly brilliant: I roasted cabbage!

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It was so brilliant, I decided to roast some more today — the second half of the head of cabbage I’d made yesterday and which I had gotten last week and needed to use up.

I have had great success with roasting brussels sprouts, garlic, and onions. Pretty much what you do is cut stuff up, slather it with olive oil, generously salt and pepper it (I have gotten snobby and use fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper), and bake the hell out of it, which means until some parts begin to turn dark brown and blacken. Oh, except for the garlic, in which case you slice off the top of a bulb (or whatever you call the thing where all the cloves of garlic are clumped together at the stem), drizzle OO on the open top, wrap in foil and then bake the heck out of it until the cloves are smooshy “like buttah” and then stuff your face silly with it.

I thought yesterday, “Why not roast cabbage, too?”

A quick internet search showed me others had tried this, with success. I decided not to follow any one recipe to the letter; instead, I just kind of wang it (is that the past tense of “wing it”?) and it was delicious. The photo up there is where I ate half the pan already, but thought at the last minute, “Hey, maybe I should blog this!”

Thankfully, today, I made some more, and this is what a finished pan-ful looks like:

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Yum.

Here’s the basic “recipe”:

Cut a half a head of cabbage into 1/2″ to 1″ wedge-y slices.

Lay (lie? I always screw that grammar point up) the slices flat on a foil or parchment-lined pan with edges. A  pan with edges is so the olive oil does not flow all over you and the bottom of the stove. The liner is so that you don’t have to take a blowtorch to your pan to get the carmelized gunk from the oil and cabbage off once it’s cooked. really. Do this. Seriously.

Drizzle the wedge-y slices generously with olive oil.

Salt with a coarse-grain salt & pepper, if desired. I recommend using salt. I’m learning that good quality salt, like the fleur de sel up there, really makes a huge difference! With this batch, I used a fleur de sel de l’Île de Noirmoutier with curry seasoning infused into it. For those on a low-sodium diet, you may have to skip it, but I think salt adds a wonderful counterpart to the sweetness that results in the roasted cabbage.

Roast at about 400°F (I set my oven to about 200°C, or a little higher) for about 30-40 minutes. To be honest, I have not timed this. LOL. I had read online that it took about a half an hour, but I know that with roasting veggies, it takes as long as it takes to get really brown, even kind of black, on the edges. I am pretty sure I had the above stuff in the oven for about 40 minutes.

Then EAT.

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And eat.

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And eat.

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And eat.

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Stuff your face, preferably with no makeup on, and still wearing your jammies at 12:20 pm (or as the locals put it, 12.20).

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Then, while you are at it, make some TEA!

I have a friend on another social networking site who wanted to know how to make some tea, Rooibos, or South African red bush tea, in particular. It’s easier to show in a post how to do this than to try to explain with words in a message or comment.

I used to own a tea shop along with the one whom I call DeuxEx (second ex-husband) about five years ago. During that whole experience, I learned a LOT about teas and how to brew them, so I am here to share a little of that expertise here. I want to give a shout-out to Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Company out of Ojai, California. Five years ago, this company was integral to my learning about tea and I used to carry the loose leaf versions of their teas in my store. Between Zhena’s company, books, the internet, and life experience with tea, my knowledge of teas has grown over the years, and I confess, I’ve turned into a bit of a tea snob after as a result. While I still use bagged teas, especially herbal tisanes and infusions I get at the health food stores here, I LOVE loose leaf tea. It really does make the freshest and most vibrant of cups, and is really not that hard to work with once you know how to. Maybe “snob” is too strong a word to use — I guess I discovered once I had a really fresh cup of loose leaf tea, it really is better-tasting. I have become spoiled in this. Bag tea just does not taste as pleasing to me anymore after having loose leaf.

The second thing about me & tea-making is that I really hate those little metal tea balls. They don’t work that well, truth be told. The thing about making a good cup of tea is that the hot water should hit as much of the surface area of the leaf as possible, and if you cram a bunch of tea leaves into one of those little balls, the tea cannot circulate and release its ambrosia into the water very effectively. Tea balls are okay in a pinch, and I confess I still use one when I am not feeling like going to the trouble of making a whole pot of loose leaf tea, but they pretty much suck and you are depriving yourself of a full taste experience if you use one.

Here’s an easy way to make loose leaf tea.

1. Get yourself a good-quality coffee press. It is best to have a “dedicated press”; that is, if you use the one you have been using for coffee, the coffee oils that are nearly impossible to wash away *will* leach into the tea and influence its flavor for the worse. If you are going to make loose leaf tea a lot, and you should, lol, then get a dedicated press. If you have a press you have used fewer than three or four times for coffee, and it is just sitting in a cupboard waiting to be re-purposed, by all means, use it. Run it through your dishwasher first to get as many of the oils off as possible, or if you are Euro-happenin’ like me and have no dishwasher, then try to wash it as best you can, disassembling the press and washing each piece in really hot, soapy water.

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This is a 32 oz/900 mL Bodum press. I’ve forgotten which model. It’s considered an 8-cup press, though, with 4 oz being a “cup” of coffee (can you believe it? LOL Thinking of the monster sizes one can get at Starbucks nowadays…). PJ bought this one for me in Paris in Monoprix; I used to have one of these from Target. I think they run about $20 at Target.

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Sorry — mine’s not looking too clean here, lol. When I make the same kind of tea over and over, I tend to just dump the leaves in the trash and “bachelor wash”  with water only. I’d already made and twice- steeped (loose leaves can be re-used a couple of times!) some Rooibos earlier in the day, so this is what I did just before taking photos.

2. Get your tea.

A note on Rooibos.

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Rooibos is not actually “tea.” It is, basically, leaves from a bean bush: Rooibos is “a broom-like member of the legume family of plants” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rooibos).

All true teas come from the plant Camellia sinensis, a leafy bush that grows on the hillsides of countries such as China and India. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea The Wikipedia article does a bang up job of explaining the differences between what is actually “tea” and what is not, and I recommend checking it out if you would like to be in-the-know!

There are different brewing methods for different kinds of tea. For example, if you have not really liked the astringent taste of green tea, it is possible that you are using water that is too hot and cooking the leaves, as well as steeping it overlong, which brings out more of the bitterness of green tea. There are *wonderful* brewing guidelines in the Wiki article: Tea Preparation.  Try the guidelines out when making your tea and follow the water temp and steep-time suggestions in the chart. Use a timer. It really does make a difference, especially with loose leaf tea.

I should also mention that I am drinking bucketloads of Rooibos this week as I am off the java — going caffeine-free right now, and probably will be doing so for a few months. It’s because of health stuff related to gluten-intolerance, etc. that I might write about later. Rooibos has no caffeine.

3. Measure out your tea.

Guidelines say that about 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of loose tea should be used for every six ounces of water. I have a scoop from back in the days when I ordered Zhena’s tea in bulk, and it holds about 2 1/2 teaspoons (it’s around a scant tablespoon). Yes, it got near something hot and warped a little, lol. I use one of these scoops per 12 oz of water. If you are using metric, for about every 350 mL use an amount of tea that can fit in your cupped palm. It really does not have to be exact. More tea makes a stronger brew, less tea, a weaker brew. The strength of a brew should *not* be tied into the amount of time you steep, but on the amount of tea you use! I used about three scoops of tea in my press, so that’s about 8 teaspoons.

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4. Put the loose tea in the bottom of the coffee press.


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5. Boil the water. (Duh. LOL. This is my electric hot water kettle. These are ubiquitous here in France.)

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A note on boiling water. Some people say to be *sure* to use purified water. This is probably best, of course, for people’s bodies as well as for the tea’s flavor. I don’t have a Brita or other brand of filter on the faucet nor a purifying pitcher. I cannot be bothered to haul a bunch of water bottles home in my little shopping cart. I use tap water. I may decide to be proactive about the quality of water I am consuming in the future, but for now, I keep it simple. You do as you please. For superior teas, I would use filtered water.

You’ll also note if you read the brewing guidelines in the Wiki article that specific water temps are used for different teas. Black is the most forgiving in terms of water temperature — the hottest water is best for brewing black teas. White and green teas need to have cooler water. Boiling water and then setting it to the side to cool for 5-10 minutes with white and green teas is very important. Rooibos is forgiving about water temperature! You can use piping hot water, or water that has cooled slightly, to brew it. You can steep it as long as you like with no harm done. Rooibos will get stronger in flavor as it sits, though.

6. Steep.


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7. When the time is up (I lost track of how long I steeped this Rooibos, but it was about 5-6 minutes I think. I was distracted taking photos, lol), plunge your tea.


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8. Pour…


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…and drink.
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9. You can add sweeteners as desired. For the past week or two I have used raw honey regularly. I have tried to avoid sugar in its various forms for the past few weeks, but I have eaten/used some honey I got about a month ago at the Marché in Aix-en-Provence to put in my tea and on rice cakes.

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This beekeeping/honey producing family is trying to get their honey distributed in Paris… I wish I spoke French so I could help them get their honey into a shop, like Les Abeilles in the 13th. It is DIVINE stuff.

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I thought the jars were cute, too.

I got Lavender and Rosemary honeys.

I may have to stop eating it for a while, though. I think I am starting to react to it. Either that or it is too much cabbage…

LOL.

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(Sections of the pan were disappearing as I was taking the tea brewing photos. I’ve been writing this post for a couple of hours now, eating as I write, and the pan of cabbage is almost all gone, no kidding, lol. I have a feeling my tummy will hurt later, but REALLY, this cabbage is THAT yummy!)

HOW TO MAKE GREAT ICED TEA

While I am here, I want to explain how to use the same method as outlined above to make iced tea. My online buddy really wanted this post to explain how to do just that, so I feel like I must!

Follow Steps 1 to 7, with the following difference. Double or even triple the amount of tea in Step 3. So, for a 32 oz press, use about 24 teaspoons. Probably as much tea as one teaspoon per ounce of water would work well. What you are working towards is a tea *concentrate*. Brew the tea according to the instructions above.

After the tea has steeped and been pressed, allow it to sit and cool for about 30 minutes. Then pour the 32 oz concentrate into a gallon plastic container which you filled with a couple of trays of ice cubes (or, even better, a large, glass “sun tea” style jar that has been thoroughly cleaned. Iced tea *will* grow bacteria in it fairly quickly, especially if it is a fruit-infused tea. Putting the iced tea into a very clean container is necessary). Then, fill up the rest of the container with water. Refrigerate.

If you really don’t want to use loose leaf tea to make iced tea this way, you can used bagged tea. The loose stuff really is more delicious, but there is some maintenance with the whole loose tea leaf way of doing it. What you should do for bagged tea is use about 6-8 teabags per 32 ounces. Steep only for the number of minutes in the chart on the Wikipedia page. Remember that a longer steeping time only means bitter tea, not stronger, better-tasting tea. Increase the amount of tea to achieve a stronger flavor.

Also, it is easier to sweeten the tea for iced tea while the concentrate is hot. Sweeteners dissolve better in the hot tea concentrate and lead to more even sweetening once the concentrate is diluted.

Good luck!

My next project?

I hope to figure out how to cook these:

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Our local “Poor People Store” (as PJ and I like to call it), Leader Price, has lots of Bio (organic) products lining their shelves these days. These are French Green Lentils. I saw a recipe here at David Lebovitz’s site, but he’s pretty particular about using Puy lentils in it. I don’t think these lentilles are the “real deal.” I’m also still avoiding eating carrots. Onions? Can eat. Parsnips? I need to check their oxalate levels, but they may be okay. I’m not really sure what to do with these lentils, though — I don’t think they are going to make good lentil pancakes.  I could be wrong, but green pancakes? Hmmmmmm. Not sure about that. If you have a good idea or recipe, let me know!

Until next time, then, Over & Out.

Categories: Celiac Disease /Gluten Intolerance, Gluten-Free Recipes, Personal Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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