Monday, September 28, 2009

Settling into a new kitchen - Kielbasa, Tatsoi & Kasha

Everything I own is in boxes or bags, or bags inside boxes and I am feeling rather flustered. Moving sucks.

Moving into a 100 year old space, that clearly wasn't originally intended to be what it now is (an apartment) throws a real wrench into the system. Don't get me wrong, I am loving the fact that there is laundry in the place, but the only spot for the washing machine to be is in the pantry... and where you ask is the dryer? Well across the room next to the refrigerator, of course.

The kitchen is particularly perplexing because I don't really know how or where things should go. (Does warming oneself by the dryer, at breakfast, really seem like the most appealing place to put a kitchen table? The other option is next to the bedroom - breakfast could quite literally be in bed, daily.)

And since I don't know where to put things, I have ignored the boxes filled with pots, pans and spices. I ignored them until this evening when I decided I needed to make dinner. Not a snack or a makeshift picnic on the floor with some cheese from the fridge (the fridge contains 4 eggs, some Armenian string cheese and 3 slices of sopressata), no I needed to make a proper supper.

I grabbed a few items from the farmers market and was intent on creating a meal. Then I got home and remembered that I still hadn't unpacked anything. I set out to find my cast iron skillet - its missing; I fear its buried under books. During the hunt I unearthed a few spices and set them atop the shelf over the stove. (AH ha! things are starting to make sense!) I found a pot and a wooden spoon and a knife and got to cutting up the smoked kielbasa, onions and tatsoi (Japanese spinach).

I seared the kielbasa (Austin Brothers Farm) then added a little water to help it braise. In went the onions and some ground celery seed and aleppo pepper. (Salt and black pepper are still unaccounted for) While they were steaming, I got to thinking about a starch and remembered I had some kasha (toasted buckwheat) and once the meat was hot through and the onions had softened, I threw two handfuls in. Once the kasha burst open, I added in the roughly chopped tatsoi, just to wilt.

Without silverware to be had, my wooden spoon doubled as a fork and knife. The dish was a little sweet from the onions and kasha, smoky and a little bit salty from the kielbasa, a hint of heat from the aleppo, and the greens helped balance the dish out from being too heavy. Sure, a pinch of salt and pepper and maybe a dash of vinegar would have made this even better, but its hopefully the first of many new adventures in my new home.

Review of "Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease"

A bit of a follow up to my post last week about the Mayo Clinic study about Celiac Disease. So I got my hands on a copy of the full journal article (many thanks to Alex for this!) and part of my question of "what is going on?" regarding the dramatic increase in CD cases was solved. In the discussion portion of the article, the authors outlined a few possible reasons for the 4-fold increase in Celiac Disease in the US in the past 50 years:

First off, the authors acknowledge that the reasons for this increase is unknown, but could be caused by:
-changes in wheat genetics
-wheat/bread/cereal processing
-changes in patterns of early childhood infections
-change in human immune system interactions
-dietary changes (more highly processed nutrients) modifying gene expression in humans

Setting aside the other half of the results (the increased mortality rate of undiagnosed CD), the dramatic increase in the rates of Celiac Diease, now thought to be 1 in 100 people, is still mind boggling. If you were born in the 1980s, you are 4x as likely to have Celiac Disease than if you were born in the 1950s.

I don't think its an exaggeration when the study concludes that "Celiac Disease is emerging as a substantial public health concern in the United States."

In other news, I moved and am in the process of setting up my gluten-free kitchen! After the moth infestation over the summer, I am seriously considering keeping all gf flours in glass Ball jars. Any other tips or suggestions?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fluff Festival 2009

Once a year, Union Square in Somerville, MA celebrates a hometown first - the invention of marshmallow Fluff. Until this year, I had never been able to attend the What the Fluff? celebration, but as I was one of thousands that poured into Union, Saturday afternoon, I began to realize what I was missing. From high school students making and doling out fluffernutters, to kiddie games involving Fluff containers, even a Fluff baking contest, 2 different stages hosting bands and Fluff + ____ tastings... it was truly an event to behold. Did I mention that there is crowning of a Fluff queen?

Sadly, I didn't get to see the tug-of-war (losers landing in a kiddie pool of fluff). Here are some of my favorite pictures:

Fluff + _____ tastings (rumor had it one of the combos was ketchup, ewww)

Fluff Bowling

Fluff cover fishing - this was right after one tike toppled into the pool!

Pin the "F" on Fluffboy

Fantastic Fluffettes

Fluff baking competition. Yes, you spy correctly, that is Darra Goldstein on the right!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celiac Diase 4x more common than in 1950s

Science Daily's piece "Celiac Disease Four Times More Common than in 1950s" looks at the Mayo Clinic study which appeared in the July issue of the journal Gastroenterology.

The cool part of this study is that they were able to use over 9,000 blood samples from 1948-1954 and do follow-ups with people 45 years later.

The less awesome part is the increased mortality rates in undiagnosed persons with Celiac Disease. Not seeing the full text, its a little hard to say what is going on, but the fact that so many more people are being diagnosed and it appears that the rate of Celiac Disease, in the US, is growing almost exponentially. While I agree that it would be helpful to provide more wide-spread screening for Celiac Disease - the article makes comparison with testing for high blood pressure or cholesterol - its a bit alarming at the rate of increase. What is going on?

Journal article: "Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease"

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Danielle Crispy Rolls

These are my new favorite snack. Light, crispy and not-too-sweet, Danielle's Crispy Rolls remind me of Pepperidge Farm Pirouettes, but even better. They are made with tapioca and coconut milk, though they don't taste coconutty.

I could eat them on a plane, on a train. I would not eat them with a fox, but I sure could eat a whole box!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken of the Woods

The first time I tried chicken of the woods mushrooms I swore they tasted like grilled cheese. When I saw them at the farmers market I couldn't resist picking up some more. (At $1.25 an ounce, I didn't grab a ton.)

In addition to having interesting flavors - chicken most notably recoginzed over grilled cheese - these fungi retain their bright orange hues even when cooked.

I sauteed mine in brown butter with onions, garlic and salt. I served them over a bed of lettuce with a lemon vinaigrette.

*Not pictured: left over slice of Zings gluten free pizza, which was a great side dish

Monday, September 14, 2009

Farmers Market Dinner

Farmers Markets are one of my most favorite things. Farmers markets in New England in September are the best! Apples are coming into season, the best tomatoes are coming off the vine and corn, oh sweet corn - especially this year - is so good.

After enjoying a few nights of rather rich food, I was thrilled to make some veggies - LOTS OF VEGGIES. I started with a fresh sweet corn (raw, just cut off the cob), heirloom tomato and chive salad topped with just a little olive oil, apple cider vinegar and crunchy Maldon sat.

I also roasted some of the Japanese eggplant, summer squash, wax beans and red onions with a little oil and topped them with more salt.

Dinner was so good and there were oodles of left overs.

For you, a list of Boston area farmers markets and here.

I also grabbed some info on Austin Brothers Family Farm's new meat CSA (also posted on Boston Locavors)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Movie Theater Popcorn

I love movie theater popcorn. I love Dr. Who. The Brattle Theater has combined my loves into a 2-day event: Hooked On Who.

Not every movie theater knows what is on their popcorn, so it is important to ask to make sure its gluten-free. (Sometimes the anti-caking agents in the popcorn salt can contain gluten.)

The Brattle Theater
in Cambridge, MA & The Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA both make their popcorn in-house with real butter, and are at the top of my movie theater popcorn list!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


The first time I had an egg from a farmer's market, I was floored. I had never tasted anything that tasted, well, so intensely eggy. It totally changed what I thought eggs were all about. They are so much more intense in both flavor and color - sometimes the yolks are even orange! I always thought I hated scrambled eggs and omelets, but I think the culprit was just boring eggs.

For those who cannot, or choose not to, eat eggs, Cory Ramey blogged on Bitten last week about subbing in flax seed meal instead.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a word that refers to the proteins gliadin and glutenin, found in certain grains.

What grains contains gluten?*
-wheat (Triticum spp.)
-rye (Secale cereale)
-barley (Hordeum vulgare)
-kamut (Triticum turanicum - also known as T. turgidum subsp. turanicum)
-spelt aka dinkle (Triticum spelta)
-bread wheat (Triticum aestivum)
bulgur (made from wheat, usually durum wheat - Triticum durum or Triticum turgidum durum)
-semolina (made from durum wheat Triticum durum)
triticale ( is a hybrid of wheat and rye -Triticosecale)
-emmer wheat aka farro (Triticum dicoccon)

I added the Latin terms because the "tricicum" genus is helpful. Wheat, rye and barley all belong to the taxonomy tribe triticeae; the red flag that indicates GLUTEN IS HERE.

The Oat Exception
Oats, (Avena sativa), do not contain gliadin or glutenin, but many people who are alergic or intollerant of gluten, react to oats. This is because:
1. Oats grown, harvested, stored and processed on/with shared equipment with gluten-containing grains are contaminated.
2. Oats contain different protein structures, avenin, which some persons with Celiac Disease have avenin-reactive mucosal T-cells, which might cause intestinal villi damage. (Some people have a gluten-like reaction to avenin, thus also need also avoid oats in addition to gluten-contianing grains.)

Certified gluten-free oats are available in some specialty food stores and online. Some people tolerate them, others do not.

*For a full list and more common names and products containing gluten, visit

New England Celiac Conference

Healthy Villi is co-hosting the first New England Celiac Conference on October 3, 2009, in Marlboro, MA.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

PSA - Milkyway, not gluten free

I thought they were, and they used to be, but now they contain malted barley.

Always, ALWAYS, ALWAYS read labels, even when you think you are sure.

(I am going back to cursing the lack of appropriate labeling laws and my own foolishness.)