Catfish and Peppers

Before we left Alabama last month, we bought a case of catfish filets to bring with us  to the North Rim.  I was going to have a fish fry for our friends, but that has not worked out, since we don’t have a place big enough to cook and serve to 15 people. So, I have been making catfish for us about once a week.

I didn’t want to eat fried fish that often (ok, I gained too much weight eating fried catfish 4 times a week over the winter!), so I came up with this recipe:

4 medium catfish filets (any firm white fish will work)

2 bell peppers, sliced up

2 onions,cut in fourths and sliced

2 closed garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add peppers, onion, and garlic, and sautee until they are done to your liking. Add salt and pepper. Move the sauteed veggies to the side.  Put the fish filets in the pan, cover with cooked veggies. Turn the heat down, cover the skillet. Cook on medium low heat about 12 mintues, until fish is done. Serve with rice or potatoes.

Gluten Free At The Grand Canyon!

Yesterday was our “Friday”–we have Wednesday and Thursday off.  So, when we got off work yesterday, we decided to go out to eat. Going out to eat up here gives you exactly three choices–The North Rim Lodge Dining Room, The Kaibab Lodge, and Jacob Lake Inn.  At the North Rim Lodge Dining Room you have to have a reservation for dinner. We called, and the earliest appointment we could get for a steak was 9:15 p.m.  So, that was out as we were both already starving.

Kaibab Lodge

To get to Jacob Lake Inn, it is a 45 mile drive, so we also decided not to go there. Which left the Kaibab Lodge.  It is about a 20 mile drive to Kaibab Lodge, not so bad, so we jumped in the truck and headed down there. When we got there, we discovered that they do not start serving dinner until 5:00 p.m and it was only 4:30. We decided to wait, and ordered a glass of wine and a beer. I was not impressed with the person behind the counter, either. She was just a little on the rude side, but we still decided to wait.

Right at 5:00, several people came in, went up to the counter, and were talking with the person there, the same one who seemed a little rude to me. I got the impression that these people were other employees there. They were waited on first. We waited until ten after five, and no one ever came to our table, or even looked in our direction, so we left.  In all, we waited about 40 minutes before we decided to leave.

We went home, and I made some bacon and eggs–sooooo not what I had in mind for my Friday night dinner. This morning, we had to get up and move our trailer from one spot to another, which is a major pain in the hiney. You have to do just as much work to move 50 feet as you do to move 500 miles. It took up about three hours start to finish. It was about noon when we got done, and both of us were hungry again. We decided to go to the North Rim Lodge Dining Room for lunch. You don’t need a reservation there for lunch.

The North Rim Lodge

This is my third season working here at the North Rim. Last year, I had talked to the manager of the restaurant about getting some gluten free choices on the menu, but he never gave me a good answer “yes” or “no” that they would do that. I also talked to the park service person who is in charge of concessionaires. He asked me to email him some info on gluten free eating and gluten intolerance, so I did, but I did not hear anything back from him. Now, I don’t know if “I” had anything to do with this, but listen to this:

When we went to the lodge for lunch today, I asked about something on the menu by saying “Does it have any wheat in it?” and the waiter responded “Do you mean gluten free?” I was soooo excited about that. Ed, the waiter, brought me a two page gluten free menu, and told me that they need a 24 hour notice but they can make anything on that gluten free menu for me if I want them to. And there are some really good choices on that menu–not just stripped versions of the “regular” menu. They even have gluten free pancakes on the breakfast menu!

While Forever Resorts, the concessionaire that operates Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim, does not have their gluten free menu or the information about calling ahead 24 hours in advance to request some of their gluten free options on their website, I have sent them an email suggesting that they add it. But isn’t it wonderful to know that you CAN get a good tasty meal with a such a great view?

Here are some of the options on the menu:

Gluten Free Pancakes with butter and maple syrup: $6.60

Ranch Hand Breakfast: 2 organic eggs served with bacon or sausage and fresh cottage potatoes $8.20

Tiyo Tomato Salad layers of ripened tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves $8.90

Southwest Shrimp Cocktail  chilled jumbo shrimp with a cilantro-horseradish cocktail sauce $10.90

Pasta Primavera gluten free penne pasta tossed with sauteed vegetables, garlic, white wine and olive oil $12.45

Salsa Chicken char-grilled all natural chicken breast served over black bean chili salsa with avocado and roasted pine nuts $12.45

Fresh Utah Trout please inquire of our server for today’s gluten free special preparation and accompaniments $19.90

Wafer Surprise (dessert) gluten free wafers with chocolate fondue

These are not the only things on the menu, there are more items, just wanted to pass along that they do have some very good options!

A Little Tour Of The Mixes From The Heartland Plant

Look at all that gluten free goodness~!

The first thing you see when you walk in the door at the Mixes From The Heartland plant are shelves and shelves displaying all the products they make here. And the next thing you notice is the aroma!  The smells of all those delicious mixes wafts from the packaging area in the back to the lobby and offices in the front. It was a wonderful experience to go there, and meet Teri, the owner, in person. I have been corresponding with her for about a year now, and it was high time we met face to face.

Teri, the owner of Mixes From The Heartland

Teri invited me and FabGrandpa into her office, where we talked for an hour or so. She has been in the gluten free food business for 5 years, and is getting ready to move the plant into a larger building. She has lots of plans for new products, and is introducing a new buying club on her website.  There are lots of benefits to becoming a member, including discounts and access to new recipes.

Packages of mix waiting to be sealed.

We took a little walk around the back, where staff members were busy filling bags with product, which today was a Tex-Mex Rice mix. The seasonings smelled soooo good! I noticed that everything was so clean and neat in there, too.

Ingredients in bins waiting to become part of a mix.

Teri explained that one of the secrets of her success for flavor is that she uses freeze dried ingredients. She gave us a sample of the freeze dried corn–it was so sweet!  It tasted like fresh corn, only dry and crunchy. No wonder that corn chowder she makes is so good!  And she makes sure every ingredient she buys to make her mixes is from a gluten free source.  Her products test at 5 parts per million, which is well below the US standard to be labeled gluten free.

Me and Teri of Mixes From The Heartland

Teri gave me an assortment of products to take home, including my favorite, the Country Dumpling Mix. I had not had my favorite southern chicken and dumplings in more than three years before I found this mix. I loved it so much that I made it three times in one week!  Now I can’t wait to get to my summer home so I can start cooking some of these things up!  I made some of the Sweet Potato Brownies tonight, though. Easy peasy!

El Toritos Restaurant

Before we left to come home, though, Teri and her Aunt Marilyn took us out to lunch at El Toritos Mexican Restaurant in Amarillo. I had the Tamal Dinner. Boy, was it ever good!  I haven’t had tamales that good since we worked down in south Texas in 2002.

Teri and Aunt Marilyn enjoying lunch at El Toritos

We finally had to say our goodbyes, but not without making plans to stop in again on our way east next fall. Can’t wait to see what new products she has by then!

Venison Stew

The forest service ranger brought us some venison the other day.  There are so many deer in this area that they are considered to be garden pests, so if they come into your yard and eat your plants, you are allowed to shoot them, even if deer season is closed.  While we don’t hunt, we don’t turn down the meat if it is offered to us.

FabGrandpa’s doctor at the VA put him on Prilosec for acid reflux, and told him he can no longer eat tomatoes, chocolate, spicey foods, or anything with caffeine. Because of that, I had to redo my stew recipe. I have always used tomatoes and tomato paste in my beef stew, so this was an experiment for me. It turned out pretty good.

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 stalks celery, chopped

1 1/2 lbs stew meat (I used the venison I was given, you can use beef instead)

meat tenderizer

season salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

4 carrots

4 medium potatoes

32 oz beef broth

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or stew pot. Add the onion, garlic, and celery and sautee until the onions are clear. Meanwhile, sprinkle the tenderizer and seasoned salt generously on the meat.  Add to the pot with the sauteed vegetables, and cook until browned on all side. Add the potatoes, carrots, beef broth and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours. Serve with corn bread or biscuits.

I made this and refrigerated overnight. The next day, I took the layer of fat off the top before reheating. This recipe is naturally gluten free, you just have to make sure the package of beef broth is gluten free. Always read your labels!

Boring Blogging? or Gluten Free And Loving It!

On one of the many forums I participate in, there is an ongoing thread discussing blogging.  One of the guys there recently wrote:

“… If I “blogged” about our travels constantly I would feel we would just look like a self absorbed couple bragging about our adventures and that very few would really care to know a day by day account of our travels. A few close friends and family do care to occasionally know where we are so we just e-mail them maybe once a month or so to let them know we’re OK but they really don’t care that today we hiked on the so and so trail or to see our latest picture of a canyon. A blog that would be informational about an issue might be different…”

And that made me wonder…Do I sound like that? Obviously, “I” don’t think so.  But that comment made me think about what my purpose is here. What message I want to send to the world.

After much thought, I think that what I have to say is, if you are gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease, you are not limited. Period. Yes, there are things you can’t eat, but you can go out into the world and not be afraid of getting glutened. Living my life in a travel trailer, moving about whenever I want to, working in remote locations, and eating well along the way, is just proof of that. I can. You can, too.

Yes, I have days when I don’t have many options. Times when I get some gluten and feel the effects of it for days. Occasions when I either don’t go to the party or take my own food. But I also have a wonderful time along the way. I venture out to do new things, eat at new places, meet new friends. And I want other gluten intolerant people to know that they can, too.

So, with that in mind, I am going to start a weekly feature here where I will be interviewing one gluten intolerant or celiac person each week, who has been eating a gluten free diet for at least a year, and introduce you to them here on my blog.  I want people who are new to eating gluten free to see that you can have a good life, go fun places, have great adventures, and still be healthy.  I’ll go first, because I can answer my own questions. If you want to be featured here, leave me a comment and I will send you an email with a questionnaire.

FabGrandma is Gluten Free and Loving It!

1.How did you discover that you were gluten intolerant?

When cousin was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, he sent an email to all of his relatives to let us know. His list of symptoms sounded like mine, so I decided to try eating gluten free.

2.What were your most prominent symptoms?

Look the other way if this is TMI, ok?  My most obvious symptom was chronic diarrhea, but I also had lots of gas and bloating. My legs and feet hurt all the time, and I had tingling and numbness in my feet and ankles.  I experienced lots of headaches, and sometimes felt like I was in a fog.

3. Do you have an official diagnosis of Celiac Disease?

No. I do not have health insurance and by the time I had the spare cash to get tested, I had been eating gluten free for over a year. I do not want to go back to eating something that is toxic to me just to get a diagnosis.

4. How long did it take for your major symptoms to disappear when you started on a gluten free diet?

The diarrhea went away after about a week, and most of the other ones were gone with a couple of months. Now I can tell I have been glutened because I get a headache and my joints feel swollen and inflamed.

5.Do you have allergies or intolerances to other foods?

None that I know of. Maybe milk. It could be that I just don’t like milk.

6.Are other members of your family gluten intolerant?

My cousin, and one of my daughters.  I suspect others are, but they say they aren’t so that is that.

7.What do you miss the most since starting to eat gluten free?

I miss the freedom of ordering just anything on the menu when we go out to eat. And my mother’s chicken and dumplings.

8.What is the hardest part for you about eating gluten free?

Trying to explain to other people that while it is not like an allergy that will kill me instantaneously, I will feel sick for days if I eat whatever it is they want me to “just take a bite of.’

9.What is your favorite restaurant?

Picazzo’s Pizza in Flagstaff, Arizona. They have the best menu, including gluten free beer and gluten free desserts.

10.Do you have a favorite gluten free recipe to share?

I have lots of recipes here on my blog, but my favorite of all time is Lemon Merengue Pie. If you live near a Whole Foods you can get a frozen gluten free crust there.

11.What are your hobbies?

Sewing, quilting, fishing, hiking, reading, cooking, making jewelry, travel, and sightseeing with my husband.

12.Where did you go on your last gluten free vacation?

Because I live on a vacation, we went home to our hometown in Georgia. We had the best time! Our daughter got us a room at a swanky hotel in downtown Atlanta and we went to the Zappa Plays Zappa concert. So fun! We ate dinner at a Thai food restaurant across the street from the venue.

Who wants to be next?

Let Me Tell You About My Week

Monday turned out to be the only slow day we had.  On Tuesday, we had to drive over to Marion, about twenty five miles away, to take those little sample cards the doctor always wants you to take home, and, um, fingerpaint. You know the ones. For the stool samples. They didn’t give me a mailer envelope to send them back and when I called and asked what to do with them, they told me I had to bring them over there.  It was a nice enough drive:

OK, so it wasn’t. It rained on us there and back. But the scenery was like this all the way. This is the Correta Scott King Memorial Highway. Marion is the county seat of Perry County, where she was born.

On Wednesday, the UPS guy showed up with a big box of goodies from Mixes From The Heartland. Since I write  reviews for my own FabGrandma Reviews and for MomGadget, I often get things in the mail to try and review. But this was a big box! I couldn’t believe that she sent me all this stuff!  I’ll be writing reviews of some of these next week.

Back in November I had entered a gluten free recipe contest. That contest was sponsored by Glutino, and the grand prize was a years supply of their gluten free pretzels. I happen to LOVE those pretzels. I eat them for a snack in the afternoons when I am working. I also use them crushed up as a topping for casseroles. I entered my famous squash casserole recipe, and I won that grand prize. When they say you win a years supply, that means they give you 52 bags of them. They are shipping them to me 12 bags at a time, one every twelve weeks for a year. So, on Thursday night, my new boyfriend, the UPS guy, showed up again, with the first box of pretzels:

FabGrandpa was not as happy as I was. He was asking me where the heck I was going to put all those pretzels. I told him not to worry about it, because I would find a place.  I could put them under the bed you know. I also plan to send a couple bags to my daughter, Becca and a couple to my friend’s granddaughter who was just diagnosed with celiac a couple of months ago. I am quite sure I can eat them all up by the time the next case arrives.

On Friday morning, we had to drive up to Tuscaloosa for FabGrandpa’s eye exam. He has a cataract and needs surgery for it. After they looked him over, they told him he has to go to a specialist in Birmingham, so we are waiting for them to call us with the appointment date. Look at those peepers!

Friday night my boyfriend showed up again. This time, he had three huge boxes for me. I had been talking to a company about doing some reviews of their products, and I thought they would send me a couple of things, you know, like maybe a box of cookies or a can of soup or something. Well, they sent me a whole CASE of every item they make that is gluten free. And now FabGrandpa is about to poop a brick, because there is nowhere to keep all that stuff in our little travel trailer.

See those three humongous boxes? they were all full. It is a very good thing that there is a maintenance shop behind our camp host spot here. Ha, ha, ha, I was laughing, and feeling very blessed that I received all that stuff, and he? Well, let’s just say he wasn’t.  I think he’s jealous of the boyfriend, he he he. So, I will be doing some reviews of those products too, next week at both FabGrandma Reviews and at MomGadget, and I’ll be having some give aways to kick off my new website. I guess I finished that just in time!