Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Wiley!

Saturday, Sarah and Nate got hitched. The ceremony was lovely and the reception flew by, which means, I'm thinking, it was a lot of fun. The things we were stressed about came together seamlessly and the one thing we weren't stressed about, but maybe should have been, also came together in the end. Although I had my camera with me, I didn't take a single picture the entire day (with the exception of one blurry Blackberry picture where Nate bares an uncanny resemblance to Flavor Flav -- opps). Fortunately, the photographer took thousands (that's her work here), leaving no doubt that Sarah and Nate's day was well documented and the bride is thoroughly tired of having here picture taken. The shrug I was making for Sarah to wear with her dress as a shower gift was completed Friday night after the rehearsal dinner. Joe and Mads can attest, working on this shrug increased the amount of profanity in my conversation by 1000%. I started it with plenty of time, but the pattern was terrible and full of mistakes. Eventually, I made it work and, while I'm pleased with the results, I won't be making another. It seems fitting that Sarah should have a one-of-a-kind wedding shrug.

Aside from driving myself crazy knitting a shrug, my Maid of Honors duties included writing a toast. I was a little nervous about the quality of my toast when I searched theknot.com for toast ideas and learned I should have started my toast three weeks before the wedding. Maybe it was last minute by the Knot's standard, but I think it was still a quality toast. Above you can see everyone at the head table thoroughly enjoying my toast. Not one to be sentimental, I opted for humor. Here's what I wrote for the toast (people were surprised, but I write out scripts for phone calls and this seemed much more important) there was, of course, as little improvisation:

Good evening everyone, I'm Sarah's sister Rachel, the Maid of Honor. I want to begin by thanking Sarah and Nate for including all of us in their special day. There were a few times along the way that Sarah threatened to elope, but we're all glad you didn't. I'm Sarah's older sister and, occasionally, people ask me if I'm upset she's getting married before me. The truth is I always expected it. Her Barbies always beat mine to the alter and when we would play Life, Sarah was always married first and usually had to purchase a second car to fit all here kids. That was her strategy, in fact, to land on every single "have a baby!" So, be careful for that Nate.

In all seriousness, Sarah and Nate fit together pretty well. I found this quote, from Judith Viorst (whom I googled, turns out she's a psychologist, so she knows what she's talking about). I took the liberty of updating it just a little:

"Infatuation is when you think he's as sexy as Robert Pattinson, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Tom Brady. Love is when you realize he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Tom Brady, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger, and nothing like Robert Pattinson -- but you'll take him anyway.

So, congratulations to Sarah and Nate. I wish you both all the best.

* In case you were unaware how thoroughly my sister and I are opposites: my Barbies had careers, I avoided the "have a baby!" spaces in Life like the plague and I've always known Joe is nothing like Robert Pattinson and I'm very, very grateful for that!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekly Links: June 25th, 26th & 27th

We're headed to the Midcoast for Sarah and Nate's wedding this weekend. Things have been extra crazy hectic with my job wrapping up, big work projects, the looming deadline to finish Sarah's wedding shrug, wedding details and Joe leaving for a month the day after the wedding. I'm looking forward to getting through all the hair appointments, nail appointments, decorating, baking, frantic knitting and details, details, details to enjoy an afternoon and evening with family, friends and celebrating Nate and Sarah.

Which reminds me, as Maid of Honor, I better add coming up with a toast to that list!

Trader Joe's is coming to Portland! For years I've been so jealous of people who live close to Trader Joe's. The gluten-free products, the great prices, the delicious sounding gluten-free products . . . and soon there will be a new store in Portland right near Whole Foods - perfect for stocking up on gluten-free yumminess not available in the Bangor area. Now, if only one of them would open a store in our neck of the woods.
A GF Marathon: I'm not sure I'm willing to so all the way to South Dakota for my first marathon (or if I'm even committed to the marathon idea), but I'm loving the idea of an all gluten-free marathon. I ran cross-country and track in high school and it was torture. I was constantly tired and suffered from cramps, chronic injuries and asthma. Looking back, I'm amazed I used to finish those races. This time around, I'm continually amazed by how resilient my body is, how rarely my asthma symptoms prevent me from completing a workout, that I have the energy to actually use my long legs to increase my stride and, most incredibly of all, that I can keep going for over an hour! I've read many comments in online forums that running seems to exacerbate symptoms for some people, but I feel better than ever.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu: Joe's Picks

It occurred to me recently, every week I make a menu before we go grocery shopping and why not share that with blog readers? I read a huge number of GF and non-GF cooking blogs, a lot of our menu items come from those blogs or sites like Martha Stewart or Food Network. Here, I'll pull together menus from all over the web and my collection of cookbooks and favorite family recipes to share with you. Over the course of the week, I'll do my best to post pictures and let you know how I made them gluten-free.

This is Joe's last week at home before leaving for a month a LDAC. He'll be at Fort Lewis in Washington State helping with ROTC summer training. I offered to make his favorites before he left and here's what he came up with:

Saturday: Fresh Pea Risotto with Spicy Grilled Shrimp from Closet Cooking (actually, a recent CC post I couldn't resist, but we both enjoyed it!)
Sunday: Grilled Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus
Monday: Chicken Stuffed with Gouda and Spinach with Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Tuesday: Penne with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella from Martha Stewart (This is a regular rotation item for us. We love it and it makes great leftovers!)
Wednesday: Spring Rolls
Thursday: Bachelorette Party! Dinner at Flatbread Co. in Portland. Looking forward to their GF crust.
Friday: Rehearsal Dinner BBQ
Saturday: Sarah and Nate's Wedding

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Weekly Links: June 19th & 20th

Follow-up on Contamination of Gluten-Free Grains: Answers all the "now what?" questions and clarifies the study.
Living a Gluten-Free Life: From the Huffington Post. Good, basic gluten-free and celiac's information. Great article if you're looking for explanatory materials.

In other news . . .

Joe completed his first triathlon last weekend! Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. Fortunately, the race organizers arranged for some great photography. See pictures from the tri here, bib number: 336.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Man and His Grill

A few weeks ago we became the proud owners of a grill and now we don't know how we ever lived without one. Since we have a very small back porch, I don't care for the taste of charcoal and we also wanted something portable for hiking, we decided to order the O-Grill 1000 from Amazon.com. Since all the normal grill colors were out of stock and we wanted the grill in time for am upcoming camping trip, we ordered the purple (it was either that or orange), which is actually a very pretty purply pink. I'm a fan, but Joe probably would have preferred something manlier. Otherwise, we couldn't be more pleased with our purchase. It's lightweight and easily portable, great for camping. And Joe tells me it's very easy to use. I don't know for myself because the grill has become Joe's exclusive domain. He grills and I plan things for him to grill.

The first week we had the grill, when I was putting together the weekly menu, Joe insisted on grill recipes the entire week. No matter the forecast predicted rain, rain, rain. We were going to grill. Which is how I came across this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for grilled lamb kebabs and tzatziki. I made the very smallest adaptation to the Smitten Kitchen recipe (it was naturally GF) by adding a clove of chopped garlic to the marinade because I'm of the opinion the addition of garlic improves most things (with obvious exceptions).

I paired it with the Mediterranean Pepper Salad recommend by Deb and was very pleased with the results. Since I'm the only person in our household that eats things like peppers, kalmata olives, onions and feta cheese, I halved the recipe and only used two peppers. It was delicious that night paired with the kebabs and even better the rest of the week in my lunch with quinoa and leftover tzatziki.

Unfortunately, the tzatziki didn't make it into any of the pictures. But, I assure you it was delicious and paired wonderfully with the lamb. You'll also notice a second side dish: grilled corn. Since we got the grill, Joe has perfected his grilled corn recipe. I'm not sure I'm permitted to share it here, I'll have to try and talk him into a guest post.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For Joe

Technical difficulties finally averted! A day late, but to celebrate one year since our first date with the year in pictures (Sorry about the super-crabby image quality!):

Our first date,in case anyone was wondering, was at Pat's Pizza over gluten-free mushroom and onion (Rachel) and gluten-full pepperoni (Joe). We decided to class things up this time with dinner at the Lucerne Inn and a very special surprise to be announced soon!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Weekly Links June 5th & 6th

Where did May go? How can it possibly be June? Joe and I have ambitious painting, hiking, grilling and strawberry picking- is it too early for strawberry picking? I hope not - plans for the weekend. So, while we're keeping busy, here are some weekly links:

Gluten-Free Dining at Wild Willy's: There's a Wild Willy's in South Portland and I've always been skeptical of it. I mean, I appreciate the alliteration, but I'm not certain I want someone named Wild Willy flipping my burger - who knows what he might do! But, the Portland, ME Celiac/DH Support Group is reporting five Wild Willy's locations, including York and South Portland, ME will be carrying gluten-free buns from Little Bay Baking Company and I might need to check it out!
Contamination: Have your gluten-free grains been hanging out with gluten-full grains? A new study suggests yes and enough to cause symptoms in individuals with celiac disease. FDA standards often aren't stringent enough, make sure the manufacture of your grains uses a test and has strict standards.
New UK Resource: A shout-out to my good friend, Emily across the pond! Emily doesn't have celiac's, but her gf chums are lucky to have a new resource full of products and where to find them, recipes, news and gf giveaways - like a Cath Kidston Tea Set!
Celiac Going Mainstream: Last month, in honor of Celiac Awareness Month, USA Today featured a huge insert about celiac's disease. If you missed it, a pdf can be found here courtesy of Gluten-Free Maine.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More Label Headaches

This time, it's taxes.

Over the past few days, several gf-friendly blogs and news sources have commented on or run stories about the new snack tax law in Washington state. The new law went into effect June 1st and defines candy (and, therefore, a taxable product) as:

Candy subject to the tax can be made with “sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners combined with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings and formed into bars, drops, or pieces,” according to information from the Department of Revenue.

Any product that lists flour as an ingredient on the nutritional facts label is not taxable as candy, the agency points out. Flour is “made from grain such as wheat, rice, corn, rye, oats, and barley.”

This new law has generated a great deal of concern in the gluten-free community that manufacturers will add flour to their products to avoid the new tax. We can hope they'll choose to add rice flour or corn, but the strength of the barley lobby (yes, there is a barley lobby) and the resulting appearance if barley is very surprising places, makes me skeptical. More information about the Washington State law is available in this article.

Closer to home, my reading of H.P 1051 - L.D. 1495 suggests that celiacs in Maine might face a similar situation. The new tax law states (the whole law is available here):

. Candy.
"Candy" means a preparation of sugar, honey or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops or pieces and that does not contain flour or require refrigeration.

As most Mainers are aware (how could you miss all those signs?) there is a referendum on next week's ballot to repeal the new tax law: Question 1. I've been hemming and hawing about how I'll vote on Question 1, there are some aspects of the new law I find illogical or disagree with, but I do agree that Maine needs tax reform. Celiac or not, I urge you to inform yourself about the issues and the candidates (MBPN has some good, accessible information) and be sure to vote on June 8th.
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