Tag Archives: Life

Gluten Free Biscuits: A Journey Unexpected

My stomach pain prompted this gluten free life. I would not willingly choose to forgo biscuits, birthday cakes, wedding goodies, donuts, and just about every other processed food under the sun. The grocery store and convenience store now present a veritable mine field of unhealthy choices.

I miss biscuits more often than anything else. Bacon or sausage filled biscuits for breakfast. Biscuits bring back memories for me. On Saturdays, Daddy would retrieve biscuits from the local fastfood joint. Later when we moved to the greater metropolitan area of a small town, we would get biscuits from the gas station down the road which purveyed the most wonderful meat biscuits.* Then, when I began to drive, I would have a biscuit and coke each morning on the ride to school somehow managing biscuit and drink while driving a stickshift.

As I realized gluten might be the source of these debilitating stomach pains, my diet changed. For the first month, I did well forgoing a morning biscuit. Stress, however, intervened following a jury trial. Spent and exhausted, I just really wanted comfort food, a biscuit.

Biscuits were comfort, part of my routine. Somehow this bread and meat could make my world feel normal when my body just could not rebound in the manner sleep provides most days. Satisfying this craving for “normal” created stomach pain that inhibited my ability to function properly.

My gluten free baking started with sausage balls to sate the cravings. Last week, I made gluten free biscuits. Understand, I did not make biscuits before these dietary adventures started. No one could match moma’s biscuits and I did not wish to try. Gluten free however would never measure up so I created no unreasonable expectations for myself.

Baking gluten free biscuits, I have found, incorporates another of my endeavors, mindfulness. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit Flour** contains very good instructions for making their quite tasty biscuits. At one point, the instructions say to mix the butter with the biscuit mix until it looks like cornmeal. How does this include mindfulness? When you begin, the flour feels very soft and light. As the butter combines, the flour develops a heavier, grainier feel. Ignoring the instructions, I mixed the butter and flour by hand. The unbuttered soft flour is easier to find by touch. The whole process requires focus and attention.

After adding the milk, I create drop biscuits, deviating from the instructions of cutting biscuits from rolled out dough. Again, attention to the cohesiveness of the dough dictates whether the biscuits will crumble upon contact with a knife or cut with ease to provide the optimal biscuit experience. I roll the ball of dough in my hands until its smooth. Then, I press on the dough, forming the biscuit. Adding or subtracting dough to find the perfect size. Rerolling when necessary. Watching as the biscuits bake and perhaps rise and expand ever so slightly. Tasting the fruits of my labor.

Perhaps, I should have been making my own biscuits all along. Comfort cooking in addition to comfort food.

*Moma’s biscuits always beat these others.

** Others have suggested Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancake Mix or Bisquick Gluten Free. I have not tried these but the suggestions come from experienced gluten free bakers whose advice I trust.

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The Art of Guacamole

As a Southerner, aspects of cooking flow naturally for me. Knowing how long to boil potatoes without using a timer, making brown gravy and spinning a thread with boiling sugar: these tasks are learned from years of compulsory kitchen assistance.

One day, I craved guacamole, that exotic green concoction graciously offered at Mexican restaurants and completely foreign to my Southern palate. The recipe however does not appear in Moma’s list of culinary delights.

Later, I found a recipe in Southern Living and feeling adventurous I made a go for it. Who knew the complication of finding an appropriate avocado? At the grocery store I found the prettiest green avocados and the other ingredients. Following the recipe, I peeled the avocados but that tough skin wouldn’t cut. Once peeled, I cut up the fruit. The mashing was almost impossible. The gurus at Southern Living said that a fork would do the trick. Really? I tried a fork, then a pastry blender, then finally the bottom of a clean glass. Ultimately, the avocado was chunky rather than smooth combined with the other ingredients tasted pretty good.

My adventurousness in the kitchen reflects a change in perspective. I spent most of my life struggling to meet everyone’s expectations. Perfection is impossible to attain. Following rules garnered rewards and accolades. As with the kitchen, if I did not know how to prepare a dish or know the rules for conducting a project, I eschewed those things opting for the known and structured world.

At no point did I ask myself what I truly wanted. From a very young age I understood that college would be a requirement. By the time I entered college graduate school became a necessity to get ahead in life. But what to do? Law. A nice fixed profession which everyone recognizes as successful. That degree will suffice to meet expectations and I can get a paycheck.

In culinary pursuits, my palate expanded but my cooking skills did not. With paycheck in hand, I could feed myself on food prepared by others. And as with the expectations of others, I simply accepted the constraints of the menus without questioning what I truly wanted.

My body disagreed. Foods that I have loved since childhood, staples of Southern life, make me ill now. Unexplained pain follows the eating of most fried foods. Ultimately, doctor after doctor reached similar conclusions-stress. Each explained that working in a high stress job makes the body respond dramatically sometimes.

My brain follows the rules but apparently my body does not have to? Resolving the immediate causing of my pain, that was easy. Quit the job, stop eating food that causes pain. That step did not address the most difficult part: getting my brain to abandon the rules.

As it turns out, I’m not the only person, or woman in particular, to leave the high stress job world for more fulfilling pursuits. I read that successful women tend to feel as though they have not earned their achievements to the extent that some wonder when they will be outed as an imposter. These women earned their positions and are at times forced to move further up the ladder because on their own they feel like they haven’t earned a promotion or a raise. Seriously? I’m not the only one who thought that the State Bar would show up out of the blue and take my license with the excuse that they made a mistake? Wow!

The problem really is in my head and my gender. My new jobs provide me with opportunities to help people. Oh, yeah, that’s why I wanted to be a lawyer to use the skills that I had been blessed with to help people. In my new job, clients thank me for talking to them, listening to them and helping them. Initially, I did not know what to do with this gratitude. Gradually, I appreciate being appreciated.

My old job: no one wanted help. Victims and witnesses dodged phone calls. Defendants did not thank me either. People dodged us like the plague. No one said thank you.

The people I work with now, at least at one job, want help. The other job, the children need help and so do the parents, sometimes. Using my skills to help people see what I see in them or their situation makes me feel better and strangely enough, useful. The skill of seeing other people’s situations and guiding or at least helping them see their way out is a useful skill. Who knew?

Useful. For the longest time, I claimed an inability to cook because I felt my skills deficient or defective. Moma is a great cook, she has no fear in the kitchen. How could I ever live up to that? But, I tried the guacamole again. Got advice from friends who make guacamole regularly. Avocados, although a beautiful green, are ripe when they are much darker almost brown. You want them to be firm but not hard like a potato or squishy like an overripe banana.

I’ve opened myself up to a world with no firm rules, not the rigid construct generated in my mind. I have no written recipe for guacamole-just combine avocados and salsa. I risk cooking new dishes for events without trying them ahead of time to insure perfection. Somehow, I should have learned these things in Moma’s kitchen. Nevertheless, I’ve learned some more about the art of life and guacamole.

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Security System Search: Day 3

Yesterday, one company returned my phone call. He gave me an estimate over the phone without seeing my home and assessing it for vulnerabilities. Not inspiring. While on the phone with him, I was placed on hold or held on while he spoke on another phone at least two times. I can’t help wondering is that how their monitoring works?

Today, a third company was scheduled to meet me in my home at 2:00 p.m. It’s now 2:25 p.m. I’ve not seen or heard from them. Reliability is important in a security company isn’t it? 

Now, I’m beginning realize why I’ve not done this before now. The entire process is intolerable.

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Valuable Resource: Consumer Reports

Following my burglary and a home invasion a few blocks down the street, I’ve decided to purchase a home security system. My first stop-consumerreports.org and thank God for them. The advice of consumer reports was beware of “van ready to install your system today” and “be wary if the rep does not take time to assess your home’s vulnerabilities or does not discuss alarm system details, alarm notification procedures or the company’s call center.”

Boy, my first experience did not inspire faith. The very nice man got out of his van and removed two boxes. As it turns out the boxes are self-contained “security systems.” You don’t really need all that wiring this has two motion sensors and key fobs…and two door sensors…Yep. Although he was nice, he fit the cliche. I may be in vulnerable position, I’m not stupid. He didn’t even make a cursory look outside or inside the house. I watched as he missed my driveway and had to come back. It’s not as though he examined the house before coming to the door.

The price was right but was the security monitoring company. I don’t know. Probably won’t find out.

In an age where were need security systems to protect ourselves and our stuff, these companies can exploit the unprepared, uneducated and desperate. Consumer reports provided valuable information that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

I’ll be updating this search under security system search: by day number.

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A Blessing in Disguise

A woman was fired from her job for laughing. Yes, laughing. Apparently the owner of the New Port Richey eatery “prefers the restaurant to be quiet and cozy and Kollios’ laugh prevented that from happening.” So, if you’re in New Port Richey, Florida, and plan to laugh, you should AVOID the Trinity Grill in New Port Richey. Also, if you want happy servers, you should avoid the Trinity Grill. The lady should be honored that her happiness identified an eatery as an unpleasant environment for those who enjoy life. She can now find a job which permits her to enjoy her vocation.

And, yes, he could fire her for laughing. But WHY?

http://www.local6.com/news/16594550/detail.html”

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