It is a solidly rainy January day. The sky is gray and the remaining snow has these awful black flecks in it…blea!
The worst part is that we were supposed to be getting snow. You know, those big, fluffy white flakes that pile up and make the world look like it has been pasted with icing…
In the mid-Atlantic the weather is like this, changeable. The predictors tell us to gird ourselves for terrifyingly dangerous conditions only to have the temperatures stay above freezing and the cold, harmless rain fall down.
In life, as with the weather, you really never know what you are going to get.
Which leads me to the story about the Gluten Free Grandma and how I became her.
During the summer I dutifully caught up on all of the appointments I had been putting off: the dentist (a new crown!), the eye doctor (new glasses!), and finally a meeting with my primary care physician. All was well until I received my blood test back. I flunked!
I received a worried call from my doctor who referred me to a gastroenterologist, who ordered more blood work and tests.
Long story short, what the family doctor thought was cancer (a terrifyingly dangerous condition) turned out to be Celiac’s disease (just plain rain!)
Though I was plenty relieved NOT to have cancer, I was distressed to discover I am a celiac. In laywomen’s terms this means I cannot ingest wheat, ever again, in any form (think bread, pizza, noodles and beer!)
I was in shock that whole October day. I had an almost full 50 pound flour sack sitting in my pantry. I am a bread and cookie baker, a cake maker and a fairly decent family cook. During the pandemic lockdowns I had perfected the sourdough loaf and really upped my baking game.
To say that this would be a “change in lifestyle” is a dramatic understatement. My whole world turned upside down. Everything I had learned to do in the kitchen I had to tweak and consider anew.
Now I have to be honest. One of my sons was diagnosed with Celiac disease over 5 years ago. I thought he had inherited it from some unknown ancestor.
Wrong! He got it from me!
I had already practiced making gluten free food when he came to our house to eat. It is a different experience to change the whole kitchen over.
I cleaned out my pantry and gave away (sob!) my bag of flour, my food mill and wheat berries, and waffle iron. I sent so much pasta back to college with Betsy (I was really stocked up!) I emptied my pantry shelves of most of the gluten containing ingredients and there were a lot of them! Many sauces, spices, nuts and beans are not gluten free. Often they have been, processed in a facility that uses wheat in other ingredients, which makes them off limits.
I have also given up going out to eat or getting takeout for the most part. There is a lot of cross-contamination in a restaurant kitchen.
This simple pronouncement from the doctor really threw me off my groove.
Since mid-October I have spent my time reinventing my cooking and baking to reflect my new wheat-less reality. I am happy to report that there is life after wheat.
And it is delicious actually!
I have started an instagram account (gluten_free_grandma) to share some pictures of what I have been making in case anyone else needs inspiration.
I am indebted to my entire family for their untiring support of me in this change. I hope to share what I have learned and whIch cookbooks and websites have been helpful to me.
I’m off to mix up a batch of sourdough bread…