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Doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Like the stomach flu. That definitely stays,but with you…not in Vegas. Unless you stay in Vegas. And I didn’t. And it left when I left. And hung out. With me. For three more days. It’s hard to enjoy a winning streak at the blackjack table when the only reason you’re still sitting there is because you can’t physically straighten your body. Thankfully,in Vegas nobody notices. And if they do notice,well…they don’t much care. Now,trade that winning streak for an attempt to learn Pai Gow Poker,and chances are,you’ll lose whatever you’ve won. Especially if you’re really focusing on controlling the cramping,sweating,and pasty countenance. Thank goodness I have an amazing husband who has a knack for winning back anything I lose. Yay for breaking even! That’s a win,in my book. Or should I jump on the bandwagon and go with #WINNING! Enh. Nah.
On a GF note,since we were only there for 24 hours,we ate most of our meals at the Wynn,because seriously…why go further from our room (which was gorgeous,by the way –I can’t believe they’re redoing them again???) than downstairs where there’s everything (and it’s all pretty awesome)??? And the Wynn,thank you very,VERY much,is GF friendly (ish)! At the bottom of all their restaurants’menus they list the option of allergy and gluten free menus! Granted,the GF menu was very(!!!) abbreviated at the Terrace Pointe Cafe (two items,if I recall correctly),but they are very willing to accommodate. The “alternative”menu at La Cave was much more interesting as it was broken down into several possible options. There were sections for vegan,dairy free,seafood free,meat free,poultry free,and gluten free. They’d broken down the entire menu and placed each dish that either already fit or could be made to fit into one of those categories. Impressive attention to detail. And although we had a little miscommunication about whether or not there was mayo in the crab lettuce cups,after a little back and forth we determined that yes,there was mayo,but it was homemade. Which was a completely different story. It was made with mirin! Pretty darn tasty. Too bad my stomach was already acting up by that time and although I really enjoyed it all –especially the beets! –I was pretty distracted by my body’s cries for help.
And after feeling so crappy (sorry –had to) for only three and a half days,I marvel at the fact that I used to live my life feeling just that awful on a day-to-day basis. I can’t believe I went on for so long thinking that it was just the way things had to be! I have no idea how I continued to function and show up to work and have a social life and do everything I did for all that time with such a disaster of a stomach. Mind boggling.
Thankfully,I’m almost 100% again and back on solid foods. The GF mac (okay,fusilli) and cheese followed by chocolate Haagen-Dazs I had for lunch is proof.
I know it’s because she loves me. She loves me so much that when I was a kid,she did not want me to be happy and enjoy the delicious awesomeness that is Cinnamon Toast Crunch. In all its chemically fortified,glutenous,sugary glory. But honestly? Isn’t it kind of the best? I grew up on Cheerios and Rice Krispies (if I was really lucky). And if Mom was feeling especially furtive,she’d put the generic Toasted Oats O’s into the Cheerios box. Needless to say,that did not slip by my radar. My palate did not accept this sort of subterfuge. Don’t get the wrong idea –if there were a GF version of Cheerios that actually tasted like Cheerios,I’d be in cereal heaven. I don’t even really like sugar cereals. And nearly all the GF cereals are jam packed with sugar. One of my favorite non sugary ones is Mesa Sunrise Flakes. But you have to eat them really quickly because they get soggy in the blink of an eye.
Anyway. I had a craving today. For Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Thankfully,when I went to the sketchy Von’s near our place,they had Cinnamon Gluten Free Chex! And you know what? They taste almost the same (as I remember,anyway)! They certainly hit the spot today. Now why are the GF boxes so skinny??? And how is it possible that two bowls was half the box? Yurgh. Back to Von’s for more.
They are really pretty,aren’t they? Unfortunately,they don’t taste as pretty as they look. Maybe the failure is on me,because I followed the recipe to a tee and,admittedly,that is usually when things go wrong.
For my birthday a few months ago,I received Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free and I have been waiting for my sweet tooth to come back to crack it open. Last week I wanted cookies –and I mentioned I was trying to make some Hamentashen. I thought the Blackbird Bakery Icebox Cookie would be a cool recipe to try to adapt for this purpose. They were kind of tasty as Hamentashen,but not really. The dough fell apart too easily,and it had a sour milk flavor to it. Which is really weird. So after making just two of the jam centered triangle cookies I was obsessing over,I put the rest of the dough in the fridge to chill,per the directions,and sliced it up and baked it over the next three days.
They come out very very pretty. They do. Now,I don’t even really like plain old sugar cookies,and these don’t presume to be those,either. I do plan to try Blackbird’s Sugar Cookie Recipe,sans Royal Icing (not my thing). The icebox cookies require a lot of butter. And maybe it was all that butter that left an aftertaste. For days. Even Yolanda,who some of you know,told me she’d already tasted them and did not like them at all when I asked her to try one. Her quote:“They smell and taste like old cheese.”And they kind of do. It’s such a shame,because they are sooooo pretty.
At some future date when I feel like gambling and wasting some of my precious GF flours,I’ll totally try this again (maybe halve or quarter the recipe,just in case),but for now…sorry Blackbird. A for Effort and Presentation:gF for GF FAIL.
Is anyone really going to argue with me on this? It’s true. Size does matter. And,frankly,Udi’s loaves are lacking in that department. At least the loaf of GF MultiGrain I just purchased from the fridge section at our local WholeFoods is. This was one of two options (the other being Udi’s “white”sandwich bread),and they both felt a little stale,to boot. But my bigger complaint is that the loaf is small!!! For $5.99 a loaf,I want something a little less diminutive. And something a little fresher tasting/feeling,please.
As you can probably tell,I’m still on my quest for perfect sandwich bread. Considering I can’t get enough sandwiches lately (kinda scary),I will soldier on and finish this loaf –not that there are that many slices in it anyway –but I am not so secretly looking for something better. So far,I’m still thinking my best bet might be some tweaking of the King Arthur. My chef friend,Phil,says King Arthur is the best flour anyway. And Chef Phil knows.
Sorry,Udi’s…Although I’m willing to try a few more of your loaves,this one is leaving me a little disappointed…
Okay…I “might have”eaten it. Which is why there might not be photographic evidence of the. best. grilled. cheese. sandwich. ever.
Saturday Night Turkey Sandwich
Because I ate it. I couldn’t help it. I had a craving. I’ve been craving “kid food”lately,and yes…I’ve been indulging. It’s so good! What’s better than grilled cheese on homemade (sorta) bread –yeah,you’re reading that right! –and a big glass of chocolate milk (or two)? Um. Today? NOTHING.
A couple weeks ago I posted I was into bagels. That turned into bread. Which was really feeding the sandwich monster. It took me some time in a deep meditative state (sleep) but I finally got to the bottom of it. I’ve been craving sandwiches. Today it was grilled cheese. Saturday night,it was turkey. Every single day for the last two weeks it’s been PB&J. With strawberry jelly,in case you want to know. And these sandwiches have been heavenly. I’m not going to go out there and say the bread is perfect…it’s not. But it’s so totally on the right track!!! The texture is terrific. The flavor –leaves a little bit to be desired,but that might have something to do with the fact that I categorically hate white breads. Sorry to those of you who are feening for Wonder Bread. I didn’t grow up with it and it kind of grosses me out. I find bread that soft and spongy to be creepy. But for those of you who love it –rock on. So. I am on the quest to find a GF sandwich bread that has that texture of the whole grain bread that I grew up with (let’s overlook the fact that it was destroying my insides and focus on the good stuff). In the meantime,I’ve been experimenting.
King Arthur Flour has cannonballed onto the GF scene with their new GF mixes and so far,is the best option I’ve found for a [relatively] quick bread fix. It’s $7.99 at Whole Foods,so not cheap,by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve only tried the sandwich bread mix (okay,twice in past two weeks) but so far I’ve been quite pleased. The bread rises perfectly,it’s pretty easy to make and,considering it’s bread,doesn’t take as long as other recipes I’ve tried.
Keep in mind I have a starter going on day 5 for some Injera –what? It was a craving. It’s hard to indulge a craving when it takes 5 to 7 days for the starter. By the way,for any of you who are curious about Injera…the starter smells so unbearably horrible that I had to take it down to my neighbor (who’s much braver,and stronger than I am…and she has a less sensitive nose),who had to lock it in the oven because of the smell. We have a 50/50 shot of actually finishing this starter and making the bread. Fingers crossed. Here’s that recipe.
Back to the King Arthur. There isn’t much to say about it –the flavor needs a boost –I added a little salt to the second loaf I baked and that seemed to make a difference…it’s just a little bland. But it toasts up beautifully (and you only need to toast it once!) and doesn’t fall apart. Nor does it feel like I ate a bag of concrete. We even used it for French Toast the other morning (thank you to another neighbor who was awake at 8am and gave us an egg when we ran out!). The French Toast was awesome. I didn’t get a picture of that either because it got eaten. I’m not going to say by whom,and I’m not pointing any fingers. I ate it. It was me. It was I. Whatever.
I haven’t tried any of the other KA mixes,although they have cake,brownies,cookies,pancakes –I’m sure it’s all fine. What I’d really like to do is come up with the perfect sandwich bread recipe from scratch. Without the ingredients that do not exist on the shelves of the grocery stores I frequent (Whole Foods,Trader Joe’s,even Von’s). I am really in the mood for real food. I mean,seriously –where am I going to find a bottle,box,or bag of Polyglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids??? And what the heck is that anyway? Is it a that or a they???
I’ve read Michael Pollan’s books! I can barely pronounce it,therefore I probably don’t want to eat it. But I obviously will. At least until I can make my own. We all will. And we all do. Because despite the fact that GF is now what ADD was in 1997 (THE tres chic buzz word),our choices are still limited.
The breads we can get in the freezer section at Whole Foods just aren’t that great. Sorry guys. We know you’re trying,but it’s true. GF Baking is really hard. I get it. But the products available to us still kinda suck. They’re filled with starches and gums and preservatives. That stuff kinda creeps me out,too. That said,I’m totally going to throw in a batch of Betty Crocker’s GF Chocolate Chip Cookies later today because I have to feed the monster. But I will also make some cookies from scratch. Because I have about ten days until Purim starts and I want some Hamentaschen!!! If you’re too lazy to bake your own from scratch (I’m not judging!!!) and you live in LA you can get very good Hamentaschen from The Sensitive Baker. If I figure out the perfect recipe for them,I’ll post on here. No,really. I will.
My first loaf turned out great. I got a bunch of delicious peanut butter &jelly sandwiches out of that loaf (toasted pb&j really takes the cake!). It was before the turkey obsession. And everything looks better with the Hipstamatic iPhone App,right? From now on I’ll try to remember to only use that.
The second loaf was even fluffier (accept it) and had a better rise to it –I think that’s because I actually followed the directions better (egads) and really mixed it on medium-high for a full two minutes. Watching bread rise is significantly more satisfying than watching paint dry,that’s for sure.
Albertson’s in Jeremy Ranch and Fresh Market in Park City,UT are both gluten free friendly! A fairly broad GF section at the Albertson’s and a limited (but existent) one at Fresh Market,plus several GF pasta options for all of us who like to carb up before we hit the slopes. The thing that made me grin even more than coming across three other delighted celiacs in the aisles was the huge Gluten Free Chex Display strategically placed next to the check out lanes! IMHO that kinda rocks. Have you tried mixing every single flavor of GF Chex together? Uh. Maze. Ing. Just saying.
Probably because I ate my weight in Yam (Commonly misunderstood as Sweet Potato) Latkes! Oh my stars were they delicious. I love Chanukah. What’s not to love? Even the cat loves it. He chased the dreidel around for an hour. I have no idea why I’ve wasted money on cat toys all these years. Clearly,he just wanted to try his hand at Maccabean gambling/battle planning (depending on who you ask). So proud.
The house smells like fried awesomeness. I should be asleep right now. I haven’t had something fried –I mean really fried in so long! The Chicken Parm we made the other night doesn’t count. Especially since I haven’t published that post yet. Oops. Besides. The chicken was only lightly pan fried. These latkes…they were deep fried. By my standards,anyway.
Without further ado (or babble),recipes for the first night of Chanukah,2010: Rack of Lamb with a Chocolate Mint Sauce Rutabaga and Cauliflower Mash Yam,Leek,and Scallion Latkes
Yam,Leek,and Scallion Latkes 3 large Yams,shredded 2 Leeks,chopped and thoroughly washed 2 Scallions,chopped and thoroughly washed 5 Eggs (yes,five),beaten 1/3 cup Tapioca Starch –starch,not flour –although I plan on trying them with sorghum flour before the week is out just to see what happens. Salt (lots,but add it a little at a time and taste the first one before adding more) Pepper –to taste Canola Oil
Shred the Yams (Sweet Potatoes,if you insist –it does have a better ring to it) in a food processor (great for releasing tension!) or a box grater on the largest shred. Move shreddings to a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs. Add salt. Add tapioca starch. Mix. With your hands. The oil should be heating in a large pan,at least an inch and a half deep (of oil). I know. That’s greasy. Get over it. It’s Chanukah. It’s all about the oil! When the oil is hot,and a shred of the mixture in the pan sizzles satisfyingly,drop small spoonfuls in for crispier latkes,larger spoonfuls for softer in the middle latkes. Repeat. It’s that easy. Seriously. Remove them from the oil when they’re golden and crispy –they’ll keep cooking for a few minutes –and place them on a plate with paper towels on it. Then move them to a baking sheet (I line with aluminum because I hate scrubbing and I hate when my baking sheets turn brown),and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. I like them best with sour cream,since I’m off the apples,but they go great with both,I’m told. Rack of Lamb with a Chocolate Mint Sauce (adapted from the Mount Gay Rum Cookbook –not on our shelf,but a friend’s,I swear) 2 Tbsp Oil Lamb rack –cleaned 2 tbsp ground allspice Chocolate Mint Sauce: 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tbsp lime juice 2 tbsp grated bittersweet chocolate 3 tbsp Spiced Rum (recipe calls for Mount Gay but we used Captain Morgan’s) 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
Drizzle oil over lamb and season with salt,pepper and allspice. In a hot cast iron skillet,sear the entire rack until just browned on both sides. Roast in pan in a 350 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes,checking frequently –don’t overcook it! Remove from oven and let rest for 2 to 3 minutes before slicing.
For chocolate sauce,bring vegetable stock,sugar,and lime juice to a boil. Reduce significantly. Remove from heat stirring in chocolate,rum,and mint leaves just before serving.
**The sauce takes about 15 minutes to really reduce –possibly more. I recommend starting the sauce before searing the lamb. Sear and roast the lamb while the sauce is reducing. Stir in the chocolate,rum,and mint when the lamb is resting and then drizzle over.