Sunday, October 31, 2010

gluten-free travels

Before our road trip to Maine I did some prep work... I bought a case of chocolate Bumble Bars, a pack of Udi's Bagels, a few boxes of Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks and did some research. We drove from Colorado to Maine along I-70 the snaked up through the East coast on 84, 290 and 95. I'd plan out PF Chang's and Whole Food stops based on distance from the interstate, our hotel or dinner time.

I had all the potenial stops written down with the phone number and address so we could punch it into Gertie, our trusty GPS. We left Colorado at night and took turns sleeping and driving throught the middle part of the country and made it to St. Louis for a much needed sleep and a double whammy- Whole Food's and PF Chang's within 5 minutes of each other and I-70. Love. Love. Love.

  It's kind of a strange obsession but I've never had a reaction to either place. I picked up some trip snacks, cut fruit for breakfast and sandwich meat at Whole Foods and dinner at PF Chang's.

The next day was also a bonus as we drove through Indianapolis for lunch and had enough left over for dinner as well. This was one road trip where I had no chance to feel hungry or deprived.

Dave was a good sport about it too. We stopped twice on our drive east (two days in a row) and  three times on the way home (we took our time) and usually ended up with leftovers for the next meal/snack as well.

We did mix it up and the only constant was the lettuce wraps as we both love them so much.

Out of all the Whole Foods we stopped at- Denver St. Louis, Indianapolis, Portland, Maine was our favorite.

They had a great soup bar that I hit twice and options for Dave too. Plus they had a good supply of Udi's products for our time in Maine as well.
I did make a point to stop at our old food store and was shocked that the last year and a half they went from having a small shelf space for gluten-free products to 6 times the space and a lot more products.
 They even had a line of cake mixes I hadn't heard of before. Sara had picked up their strawberry pound cake and it was the bomb, great strawberry flavor with a nice moist texture.
 Cheers to Hannaford  for getting on board and making sure glutards can eat safely. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

this is gluten-free?

I'm happy to report that the only gluten at our wedding was in the form of two kegs of PBR. Thankfully I also had a few cases of New Planet Beer to counteract all that gluten as well as wine. We arrived in Maine to chilly and wet weather. On Friday Mother Nature pounded rain and our girls hike was cancelled so we stayed in to cook instead. My friend Lynne makes the best chicken limon and can now even make it gluten free. YUM, for this I will eat dairy, the chicken melts in your mouth along with the silky sauce.
She had pre-pounded her chicken to the perfect thickness (very thin) and I watched her make a silky cream sauce with mushrooms. It was one of the best meals and memories of the trip.

"let it simmer until it becomes silky" ~lynne
As Lynne was creating her magic, I whipped up a monster whoopie pie for the wedding. I didn't have time to do all whoopies so I ordered a gluten free cake from Frank's Bake Shop in Bangor, Maine and did a monster whoopie for Dave and I to cut for show.  I had made a big batch of Artisanal GF Flour and brought on the trip as well as xanthum gum for all my baking needs.
Lynne also makes a wicked chocolate martini and between that and the distraction of seeing everyone again I didn't pay close attention to the task of baking the whoopie pie.

chocolate martini
I had a feeling that something was wrong but I thought that the altitude (1,000 feet above sea level instead of 9,000) was making things come out funny. I had started with less flour and everything seemed to be in order. It took a while to bake but that was due to the large size, right?

Later that night and a few New Plant's later it hit me... eggs! I had omitted eggs while scratching down the recipe from a blog post of mine. It was only going to be for the cake cutting so I let it go and admitted my error to Dave. It still looked great and tasted fine but the texture was off.

Frank's Bake Shop did a good job on the cake. I wasn't looking for a traditonal wedding cake so just got the wedding logo that Colleen had done for us put on a gluten free sheet cake. The salesperson on the phone had no idea how the cake tasted- which is a fail to me as the sales team should know all products even gluten free ones. We did chocolate as it would hide the gluten free factor a bit for folks. I enjoyed the cake- it was a dense and moist chocolate with a sugary frosting. I only wish I had ordered more cake as it went quickly. Who knew that people really do eat wedding cake?

photo by patrick smith
It really didn't matter much and it's a good memory of the whole day. We had perfect weather, great foliage and a safe gluten free good time (except for all those people who drank the two kegs of PBR- they just had a good time.) 

Chuck Snell was our caterer and used to serve coffee with Dave at Java Joe's, picking someone we liked and trusted was huge for me. Dave was also excited as he had tasted Chuck's cooking before and it was always wonderful. He's the type of guy who takes pride in his creations and knows food well. Chuck rocked it and roasted 22 chickens on Friday and made carrots with honey and thai basil along with roasted red potatos and a hearty, colorful salad. He also served Carrabassett Coffee which is the biggest roaster in Kingfield, Maine. Chuck was great about making it all gluten and dairy free- to be honest people didn't miss the gluten. How could they when Chuck's creations were so yummy and well- normal. Do you ever have people that think you must eat really funny foods if you're gluten free?

In the planning process people told me that guests never really pay attention to food but I found that a lot of people raved about the food to us and also to Chuck.  (Cheers Chuck!) Our whole day was really about the people who helped us.
Our mission was to create a fun and simple day in which we could enjoy time with family and friends. We worked hard to keep it simple (hence paper plates and plastic silverware instead of dealing with plate rentals and  all that jazz). We had a naturally beautiful venue so we just added a few white lights, mason jars with rocks and candles and Kim gathered maple leaves to add a bit more flair. Sugarloaf, Maine, where we met six years ago, is one of the most scenic spots I've ever been to and the Outdoor Center is a great backdrop for any special day. The resort even had scenic chairlift rides and we had some guests that made a point to do that after the wedding.
Carol was our master of ceremonies and wrote the best vows ever. She pulled in aspects from our lives and it was such a comfort to have our friend preceding over the event. Big Dave was the music master and played "Waste" from Phish on his guitar as we walked out and kept the rings safe. Sara opened her home and kept everyone well fed with shepard pie and watched the puppies while we made it around to see all the guests. There's more but that's a whole other story.... so thank you to all who helped, came and were a part of our day. 
Here's a quick food montage as well as some fun shots of the day. 
Photos by Patrick and Kendra. Thanks guys for getting food shots!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

a month away...

The last month has looked a bit like this (cue photo montage)

In the last month we moved everything into storage, drove to Maine and back, moved things out of storage and into new place, spent time with friends, played with the puppies and got married.


It's been a busy month and I am ready for some quiet time. Last night the kitchen aid mixer was unpacked plus my immersion blender. There's still foliage on the trees and I'm thinking it's time for carrot squash soup. Plus I could use a veggie load after eating PF Chang's, Bumble Bars and more during our travels. I did also hit up a lot of Whole Food Salad bars as well but not enough to balance out the PF Chang's (although I am a new fan of the Chang's cucumbers in soy sauce).  I also managed to not get glutened at all although I did eat much more dairy then I should have.

More to come including a giveaway.... but for now it's time to unpack some more boxes.