Friday, July 30, 2010

Publix Gluten Free Shopping Guide

More Love for Gluten Haters all the way from Tampa, Florida!

Ernie's Aunt "Birdie" mailed us this great phamphlet from their local grocery store, Publix.  It's an awesome guide on eating gluten free and offers lists of "Allowed Foods" and "Not Allowed" Foods.  While not only helpful and informative, it's also helping raise awareness to others about gluten!  This also gives me hope that grocery retailers are thinking about what their shoppers need and let's cross our fingers that this will lead to more options for those who don't want gluten in their foods!

I actually started typing up half of the phamphlet before I decided to use trusty ole Google and found these for you: Shopping Guide and website.  It's not exactly the same as what Aunt Birdie mailed to us, but it's pretty similar.

Gluten Free Beer: Redbridge

There's LOTS of love for gluten-free living this week from friends & family.

Thanks goes to Sandra for forwarding along a tip on Gluten-Free Beer: Redbridge!  Her sister is gluten free so I'm pretty excited to have another source of info on good tips & ticks.

"I play on a Beer league co-ed softball team on Thursdays and I was at the liquor store Paternos, by my house / Ernie's house, and I picked up Gluten Free Beer for my sister. Redbridge made by Anheuser-Busch. I'd have to say it was pretty tasty. It is an ale beer. So if you are missing the taste of beer give it a try.

Anheuser-Busch – Brewed at the Merrimack, New Hampshire facility, Redbridge is now available throughout the USA

Redbridge - Redbridge pours a deep honey gold, with a creamy, eggshell head that settles like a gauzy veil over the surface. Effervescent bubbles rise through the glass in a constant stream. Initial aromas are of light malt and a tempered, gentle nuttiness. Some florals rise in the nose. The tongue interprets flavors that echo as a softened pale ale, without the characteristic grassy, earthy flavors of more intense cultivars of sorghum. Cascade hops are not initially prominent in the foreground, but provide a lingering, bitter presence at the back end,"

Honestly, I don't know what beer tastes like (haven't had it in over 10 years) and that was the first time I realized I had some allergy.  Anyway, I don't miss the taste of beer, but some of you may!

I also hear they serve this at one beer stand at the Coors stadium out in Denver.  Seems weird that a Coors stadium serves an AB beer but has a JV with SABMiller...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning

This is from a loyal reader of my blog! A gluten-free Taco seasoning recipe.

Thanks Rebecca!!!

Make your own! Much much less salt which makes it a lot more versatile - add to popcorn, chicken salad, etc. You can change any of the the amounts based on your tastes.

Taco Seasoning
1T of your favorite chili powder
2t paprika
1t ground cumin
1t sea salt (to your taste)
1/2t garlic powder
1/2t black pepper
1/4t dried oregano
1/4t cayenne (also adjust accordingly)
1 tiny amount of cinnamon

Use approximately 2-3T of seasoning per pound of beef. Can also add a little water and a little (gluten free!) flour to round it out just like the kind from the packet.

Hiro Sushi

On Tuesday night, we met my good friend Mike and his new lady for sushi at a new All You Can Eat Sushi restaurant.  Over the past view visits to our formerly favorite AYCE sushi place, we've noticed an increase in the the slightly rude attitude and the "I don't care if you eat here" mentality and decided to locate a new spot.

We've tried Ringo and a few places on Broadway. Everything has been just OK and nothing too amazing.  Hiro on Broadway was the most recent new contender recommended by Mike.  Why not give it a try?

I'll say that overall, the place was just OK. I'd give it a 3 out of 5 stars.  Try it for yourself if you like, pass on it and you won't be missing much.  Here's the basic run-down:

Location: Walkable from our condo so that's definitely a plus! Limited to no street parking for drivers out there.

Decor: The restaurant is clean with a simple Japanese theme (what would you expect?) with lots of black and red colors.  There's a sushi bar along the south wall where you can watch the chefs at work.

Quality:  The fish was pretty fresh by Chicago standards. Still not as awesome as what we got on our Pacific NW vacation, but good for Chicago.  However, the amount of fish used per roll and piece of nigiri was much thinner than other options around the city.  The signature rolls had unique and racey names that illicits a feeling of being in a strip club...

Drinks: It's BYOB without a corkage fee.  Soft drinks are served in cans.

Service:  There were two Asian women that waited on us. One was super sweet, probably a first generation and actually looked more Cambodian than Japanese.  She also had a surprisingly loud voice when she called everyone's attention to sing happy birthday to a gentleman named "Michael" who embarrasingly sat at the bar while he was serenaded.  The other lady was clearly FOB Japanese and also very service oriented.  Usually sushi takes awhile to serve, but there wasn't a noticeably long wait for our rolls and nigiri after we ordered.

AYCE Rules: The major downside to this place is that there's a limit to what you can order, and the limit is quite low. Most AYCE places do charge for left over uneaten sushi.  I'm down with that rule otherwise everyone would be gluttonous and create a lot of waste. However, when your limit is either (a) 2 rolls per person, (b) 1 roll + 2 pieces of nigiri or (c) 4 pieces of nigiri, there's just a lot of waiting between orders. I imagine it also slows down the consumption so maybe it's better for the restaurant's margins.  However, I found this annoying since I'm relatively small (~120 lbs) and can defnitely take down more than 2 rolls. In fact, I'm probably closer to 4 rolls AND nigiri!  This will be a major deterrance for me returning to Hiro's.

It must be a week of Celeb-Sightings for us. Well, I don't know if you can call him a "celebrity," but we saw Shane from the Road Rules and MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I actually see him quite often as I think he lives in the neighborhood.

Hiro's Cafe
2936 N Broadway St

Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 477-8510

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Manny's Deli

Ernie’s usual corned beef joint, Elliott’s, closed down before we had a chance to go there together. Fortunately for us, I ran into a fellow bearcat during a Young Alumni meeting and he recommended Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli on the south side of town. After a successful trip to the Randolph Street Antique Market (where we scored a solid reclaimed wood bench and 1800’s treasure chest), Ernie and I hit up the deli. The outside is honestly a little sketch. There was a whole group of people out front staring at us as we drove by, and again as we parked around back and walked into the front door. It was awkward.

The set up is a little different – it’s cafeteria style. When you walk in, pick up a tray and silverware and line up along the cafeteria counter to be served by a number of servers. Though there was a variety of a food, we went straight for the corned beef. I’d been craving it since Thursday night’s meeting. I ordered mine without bread, which sparked a conversation with the nice man serving who asked if I had Celiac. To avoid having to explain that I’m gluten-intolerant rather than a full fledged Celiac, I just nodded yes. Then he mentioned that he has two friends with Celiac and started giving recommendations on where to buy brown rice in bulk. While I appreciated the friendly conversation, I was really eyeing that corned beef!

The helpings are enormous. Maybe half a pound of beef? It came right out of a steamer with thinly sliced meat. He kept adding more and more to the plate and topped it off with two dill pickle spears and a half boiled potato. You can get the regular corned beef sandwich with a potato pancake, but Manny’s does in fact at a bit of flour to their potato pancakes so it’s best to avoid these. There are other side options like potato salad, apple sauce and jello as well.

Lunch for two cost us almost $40. That was more than I expected! We each had a sports drink, corned beef (Ernie’s with rye bread and the potato pancake), half boiled potato and two servings of apple sauce. You tally up the bill after you get your food then go sit down at the very clean eating area. Old vinyl chairs and 70's style tables makes you feel like you're on the set of "Happy Days."  The restaurant is quiet large with two main rooms for eating. The walls are covered in news articles, many containing pictures of Obama enjoying the food there. There’s also a little sports ticket counter which you would think is out of place, but it didn’t seem so.

The clientele was very diverse with lots of Caucasians (several Jewish families included), Asians, Black people and Hispanic people. I guess when it comes to excellent corned beef, it doesn’t matter who sits down to dine in!

Just like a good little-Chinese girl who grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, I LOVE corned beef (and yes, salmon lox too!). The corned beef was delicious. It’s very similar to, and possibly better than,  the Jewish styles of my home town’s Jack’s deli and Corky ‘n Lenny’s. It’s definitely worth the drive down to sample the foods. I even brought home about a quarter pound to enjoy later.

Manny’s Coffee Shop & Deli
1141 S. Jefferson
Chicago, IL 60607

Hopleaf Bar and Ron Howard!

Last Tuesday, we went to dinner with the So’s at Hopleaf. We met at 7pm and there was a nice crowd for a Tuesday evening already forming. The front bar area had the look (and smell) of your average neighborhood bar. There were several beers on tap and a short by-the-glass wine list. The next room back looked more like a restaurant with 2 and 4 top wooden tables. There was exposed brick on all of the walls and a lofted upstairs seating area. Out back was a lovely quiet patio for dining.

We were seated in the main eating area by the stairwell up to the loft and down to the rest rooms. The menu wasn’t very extensive, but we were mostly there for their mussels anyway! Onto the food…We ordered four dishes for all to share.

Mussels for Two: We had one of each variety – the Belgian Style (steamed in Wittekerke white ale with sliced shallots, celery, thyme & bayleaf) and the other (steamed in White Wine with Sweet & Spicy chorizo, carmelized onions & pepadew peppers). This was served with two orders of frites. The mussels were the highlight of the meal. They are served in wrought-iron buckets still soaking in the brothy marinade. I preferred the option with the chorizo though it tasted more like spicy sausage than the Mexican style chorizo that I’ve also come to love. They certainly don’t skimp on the portions and an order of “mussels for two” can actually feed two people, though probably who eat on the lighter side (like all those ladies out there). I love fries, and these were no exception. They’re thin cut, not quite as thin as shoestring, but thinner than McDonald’s fries lightly salted and served warm in those cone-shaped fries baskets.

Fish Stew: tomato-white wine fish browth, sweet corn, bell peppers, red onion, new potatoes, Lake Superior whitefish, Loch Duart salmon, Laughing Bird shrimp, Prince Edward Island mussels, smoked salmon rouille, grilled toast point. I didn’t get the chance to eat too much stew since I primarily went after the mussels. The broth was thin and not creamy based so it didn’t look too unhealthy. There was quite a mix of all kinds of seafood and plenty for a full meal. You’ll have to pass on the toast as usual if you’re a gluten-avoider, but otherwise, this is a great choice for dinner.

Organic Montreal Style Brisket Platter - just the meat, with dill pickle, cole slaw and Stilton mac & cheese. I’ll be honest and say that the brisket was too dry for my taste. The helping comes in four 1/3” to ¼” slices along with all those sides. The mac and cheese is obviously made with wheat so I didn’t have any of that though it looked pretty tasty when it was first warm. I’d go with the mussels.

The real excitement of the evening was when we were waiting for food Amy went off to the restroom. On her way back she exclaimed that she just saw Ron Howard who was being seated upstairs! We come to find out that he’s scoping the restaurant out as a location for his next movie. This was his third visit to Hopleaf but the Restaurant owner is hesitant. It can be challenging to shut down your business for a few days or even a month – especially for out of town guests that are only in for a short time and want their taste of mussels! Ron was dressed very casually, with a baseball hat and a button down shirt. If I saw him on the street, I wouldn’t have recognized him. Dining alongside was a thin blonde lady about the same age, maybe a few years younger. We outlasted them during dinner as they were only seated for an hour, so we were able to catch a glimpse as he came down the stairs.

Be sure to bring your ID, however, because a small man checks them at the door and won't let anyone under 21 years old in.

Hopleaf Bar
5148 N. Clark Street
Chicago IL 60640

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Longman and Eagle

We met the Connelly’s for dinner on Friday in Logan Square at a cute “new” restaurant called Longman and Eagle. Arriving at 8pm meant that the evening crowd was just out-n-about and the small restaurant was getting very full. The four of us sat at the bar waiting for the first available table. Kelly and I sipped on a light, mildly sweet white wine. I wish I could remember the name! We were finally seated at a wooden booth outside on the patio and the sun had already set. I think it took about an hour to get seated though the hosts told us on three occasions that it would be ‘just another 5 minutes.’ The time flew since Dan and Kelly are always so amusing with great conversations.

The patio space was enclosed by white wooden waist-high wall. The best part was that along the top of the wall were various herbs planted in long bins that you would hang over your balcony. I wonder if they use those herbs to cook with!

More wine, beer for the boys, and appetizers. First, the seared main scallops (with corn and fava bean succotash, Sea urchin, lobster nage) were served up in a pair and deliciously fresh and light. I didn’t know what ‘succotash’ or ‘nage’ until I looked it up on google. Succotash is a traditional dish made of corn and lima beans and popular during the great depression. Nage means that the food is poached, usually seafood.

The shaved pear salad was a great starter and plenty for four to share. The light sherry-walnut vinaigrette drizzled over the fluffy bed of greens whet the appetite for the main course.

For dinner, I selected the Sturgeon (a white fish) formally known on the menu as “Grilled Columbia River Sturgeon, Linguica Sausage, Kale, Littleneck Clams, New Potato, Piquillo Pepper Broth.” Quite a long name, but completely and accurately describes the contents of the dish. I don’t think I’ve ever had Sturgeon before but it was a nice whitefish fillet whose texture is firm but not tough, flaky and still moist. The edges were slightly crispy and held in the mild flavor. The kale was lightly wilted; the clams added a nice texture compliment; and tasty sausage and roasted potatoes added a savory aroma. The entrĂ©e was served with a thin red tomato based sauce that added a little comfort to the summer evening. The result was an amazing mix of flavors and a dish I devoured in minutes.

This was Ernie's pork dish. Maybe he'll guest author a review of his meal!

It appears that there’s also a back patio that will soon open for those late-evening drinks. The artistic website also says they will be opening up six uniquely decorated rooms for rent which is an interesting concept for a new eatery. “Eat, Drink, Sleep” at Longman and Eagle.

Longman and Eagle

Monday, July 19, 2010

Taco Seasoning HAS WHEAT!

There are some things that are obviously made with wheat or flour. Then there are others, like last week's example of Boca Burgers.  Here's a tip for this week:

Taco Seasoning has wheat. It's actually about 30% of the packet contents.  I had no idea until we had a taco tasting, my knees started feeling stiff, and I checked the Nutrition and Ingredient panel on the pouch.  Sigh.  Everyday I try to live gluten-free, I learn about more products that use wheat flour.

Be careful when you eat Tacos out at restaurants with seasoned ground beef.  Most or all of these products contain wheat.  Stick to Fajitas or Fish Tacos with Corn Tortillas and make sure to ask that they are not made with flour.

The good thing is, Taco Bel Home Original's Fajita seasoning does not contain wheat!  Eat away glutoids!

Chilean Sea Bass Tacos

We're trying to cook more... which hopefully means adding more recipes onto the blog!

This was totally an experiment last night that turned out quite well. Usually fish tacos are served with red snapper or halibut but I like the rich buttery taste of Chilean Sea Bass.  I hope you enjoy it too! You can try any white-fish for this recipe.

Ingredients (for 2 servings)
2 - 6oz cuts of Chilean Sea Bass - we got a great deal at Jewel yesterday!
1/4 cup fresh cilantro - cut right off our home garden
1/4 cup white onion
Salsa Verde (or you can try your favorite salsa, pico de gallo or guacamole)
Corn Tortillas

Preparing the Chilean Sea Bass
Marinate for 30 min to 1 hr: Juice of 1 limes, 2 tbsp olive oil, a dash of salt
Broil on high for 8 minutes
A dash of salt and a bit of pepper to taste

Making the Tacos
Lightly toast four corn tortillas for 30 seconds each side in an ungreased pan on medium heat.
Add approx 3 oz fish to each of four tacos
Garnish with cilantro and onion
Top with salsa to taste

Amazing Scrambled Eggs

Ernie and I went to the farmer's market on Brodway today. While the market has certainly changed and has fewer fresh produce vendors, we still picked up some fresh mozzarella cheese and sundried tomatoes. This led us to a fantastic egg creation!

4 Eggs + 2 Egg Whites Beaten (or you can do full eggs or egg whites as you prefer)
1 TBSP fresh basil rolled and chopped - we started a new herb garden on the balcony so the basil was REALLY fresh!
1 1" diameter mozzarella cheese curd sliced into cubes
1/8 cup sundried tomatoes

Heat 2TBSP olive oil in skillet over medium heat
Add beaten eggs and basil, stirring continuously to scramble
Add cheese and tomatoes once eggs begin to firm up
Salt and Pepper to taste


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Insanity Workout Fit Test #2

Here are the results:
1. Switch Kicks: 50 up from 48
2. Power Jacks: 55 up from 38
3. Power Knees: 81 up from 50
4. Power Jumps: 32 up from 24
5. Globe Jumps:  10 up from 6
6. Suicide Jumps: 20 up from 15
7. Push-Up Jacks: 25 up from 12
8. Low Plank Oblique: 29 up from 20
We still have a long way to go! and have been taking too many rest days.  Time to kick it up a notch!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Pacific Northwest: Seattle, Vancouver and Whistler

Here's a quick recap of our whirlwind trip to the Pacific Northwest:

Thurs evening: Arrive Seattle at 10:30pm. Check into Hyatt at Olive 8. Amazingly new rooms, beautiful bathroom, busy part of town and close to everything downtown.

Friday: Wake up too early, Walk to Pike Place market

Enjoy the many many flower shops and stands

Watch fishermen throw around crabs

Eat gluten-free cookies at 9am

Go to boring sculpture park, but at least you can see the Space Needle

Pay too much to ride the elevator 46 seconds to the top

Ride the monorail back to hotel area

Depart for drive to Vancouver. Arrive Hyatt Regency Vancouver at 2pm

Shop on Burrand Street

Eat at Guu

Head to Commercial Drive aka "the drive" for Mojitos

Saturday: Wake up early again

Walk to the waterfront and see the cauldron. Proof that we were there.

Bike ride through Stanley Park

Grab Dim Sum at Kirin

Drive to Whistler, stop at Lynn Canyon for a free suspension bridge.

Check into Four Seasons Whistler. Ridic rooms - completely beautiful and fantastic bathrooms.

Creep on Amy and Eugene taking Wedding Photos from our super-cool balcony.

Prep for wedding... Watch 15 min ceremony... proceed to cocktail hour... party all night to celebrate the newly married couple.

Accidentally match the bridesmaids...

Sunday: Wake up to try to make Ziplining at 9:30am. Reschedule to noon. Eat overpriced breakfast in hotel restaurant. Go back to bed.

Finally make it to Ziplining

Watch extreme bikers tackle the course, then eat "Western Poutin" since regular Poutin has gravy (wheat)

Happen upon the Olympic Rings

Shower, change clothes, head up Whistler moutain for Moutain Top BBQ. Look for bears on the gondola ride, but none to be found.

Saw Olympic Man at the top of Whistler mountain

Enjoy all you can eat seafood grill - gotta love the oysters and mussels.

Look for more bears. Spotted a Brown and a Black bear!!!

Head to local movie theater to see Twilight Saga: Eclipse.  Why not, it was filmed here!

Monday: Drive back to Seattle to catch our flight home.

Thanks to Albert and Louisa for awesome recommendations!

Guu Japanese Restaurant in Vancouver

We took a long vacation in the Pacific Northwest for Amy and Eugene's wedding over July 4th weekend.  Along the way, we spent a day in Vancouver and I must say that Vancouver lives up to all of it's unbelievable Asian Food Hype. 

Guu Japanese Restaurant

Unfortunately we only had one day in Vancouver and the weather was miserable for July.  However, I did get recommendations from 2 friends native to the VC area and when their restaurant lists match up, you know you should try their recommendations! 

We didn't get reso's in advance so the restaurant recommended us to show when Guu opens at 5:30pm. After a couple of hours shopping on Burrand street, we headed over to the restaurant.  At 5:20pm there was alerady several people waiting...  By 5:36pm when they finally let us in, there was a group of 18 people anxiously waiting and hovering for seats.  The place is pretty small and within minutes, every table and bar stool was full.  Unbelievable!!

The servers are all dressed in Japanese Kawaii and were very fashion forward. They all cheer when you walk in and are seated to create a very up beat and fast paced environment.  Ernie and I sat along the bar and ordered a nice variety of small plates from their wooden flip-card menu.  The seating is all old distressed wood and mismatched stools on a black and white tiled floor.

Steamed Fresh Mussles with garlic butter & saki: holy cow. these were soooo fresh and served in the tastiest garlic soup.  Ernie even used an empty mussle shell to drink the soup. Here is a picture of one enormous mussle!

Sashimi Salad with plum dressing and wasabi mayo: This was more traditional as slices of sashimi on a bed of greens with a light drizzle of dressing. The fish was literally melt in your mouth fresh. It must be nice to live on a coast with access to all this seafood! 

Maguro Steak: Ahi yellow tuna with garlic, soysauce and sake.  While not our favorite small plate of the evening, this was still quite good. A quick seared steak of ahi tuna.

Karubi: grilled short rib with sweet garlic sauce.  Everything is better with garlic!  This wasn't fall-off-the-bone tender but I still ate off every last piece of meat on the bones. It was so flavorful that the taste lingered on your palate wella fter the rib was consumed.

Cha-han: Kim Chi fried rice.  Kim Chi is korean styled pickled cabbage.  This dish was kim chi and white rice pan fried so it's a little sticky, a little crispy and a whole lotta ricey goodness.  It's a good base to compliment all of the small plates of meat and other flavors.

Korokke: Mashed potato, onion, grownd pork "croquette" with tonkatsu sauce. These fried little balls are crispy on the outside and soft mashed potato on the inside. Full with flavor, these could make a fantastic late night snack!  I doubt this was the healthiest food item on the menu, but it was definitely delicious.

Our overall dining experience was quite enjoyable. Though we sat at a bartop and could see the other patrons directly across from us through the fresh cut flowers, we still had a nice private dinner. The upbeat atmosphere and energy made the evening fly by - which could have also been attributed to the extraordinarly fast service and delicious food.  I would highly recommend any passerby to get some reservations and plop your tired tourist butt down on those wooden chairs for a delicious meal!

Can't wait to GUU again...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Boca Burgers - NOT gluten free!

Earlier this week I was having some unexplained GI issues. Luckily, there were no joint/muscle pains to speak of.  I figured out what was causing the issue - Boca Burgers. This may explain why I felt like I wanted to throw up after the Insanity Workout session on Monday!

My new company's cafe serves Boca burgers at the grill station so I ordered one up (no bun) thinking I'd be free of gluten for my lunch. Yesterday while getting groceries I saw Boca in the refrigerated section anad decided to look at the ingredients.  I was sadly disappionted to see that they do infact have wheat:


I love Boca burgers but they will have to go on my "can't eat" list.  So long Boca!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cinnamon Works - Seattle Pike Place Market

Ernie and I took a little trip through the Pacific Northwest over Fourth of July weekend.  We spent less than one day in Seattle as our entry point. 

The Seattle Pike Place Market was one of the major sites on our list of things to do. I was first introduced to the famous Fish Market during undergrad when we learned the "Fish Philosophy" during a Greek Leadership Training week. They throw fish around!  That part was somewhat anti-climatic because now it's become a tourist attraction, but it's a bit challenging for tourist to buy fresh fish and have somewhere to take it.  They don't throw the fish til someone orders it so everyone is just waiting for a local to stroll by.  The Catch-22 is that the locals don't go to this fish place anymore because the prices are increased.  What to do?

I digress.  The real reason for this post is to discuss Cinnamon Works. It was a small, nondescript bakery on the corner of the market. At first, I cruised right by it assuming I couldn't eat anything. But then, I stopped after seeing a huge cookie marketing itself as "wheat free" but not gluten-free.  After further inspection, there was an entire gluten-free case! I tried to take a picture but the glare is pretty bad here.

I swiftly picked up a small loaf of banana bread and a pumpkin cookie.  The cookies are HUGE and probably chock full of calories; at 7 or 8" in diameter, I think they're bigger than Potbelly cookies!  I'll review the cookie first.  The pumpkin flavor wasn't too strong and maybe a bit on the mild end and it wasn't super sugary but had just the right amount of sweetness.  There was a bit of a gritty rice-flour aftertaste that is common among gluten-free baked goods. The texture was soft and fluffy, more like a biscuit than a cookie but didn't have the stiff/stale texture of many gluten-free cookies (especially those frozen ones).  Overall, I'd definitely try another flavor, but I won't jones after it to go as far as mail-ordering dozens to share with gluten-eating family and friends.
Pumpkin Cookie Rating: 7

The banana bread was so-so.  I love original banana bread, often craving it and try to make some of my own gluten-free recipies but have yet to have any huge breakthrough.  They all taste just OK, not fantastic but not terrible. I'd say this bread is also so-so.  Like the cookie, the bread wasn't too flavorful but not too bland. You could definitely taste banana but I wish there were some chocolate chips!  The texture was soft and moist and slightly fluffy but misses that deliciousness of original banana breads and is a bit more crumbly without the gluten to hold the bread together.  There was still that rice flour aftertaste that leaves your tongue a bit gritty. I don't really know if it's due to the rice flour and that's totally my own non-culinary-artist assumption.  Overall, I might buy this again but I'm still looking for that perfect loaf!
Banana Bread Rating: 6

Cinnamon Works
Specialty Bakery
Pike Place Market
1536 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101
No website that I could find

Mexican Fiesta! A new job!

As you probably deduced from my previuos post about the tramautic drug screen, I got a new job.  Horray!  Per my 2010 goals, I've now successfully completed goal #1.  Sorry I couldn't give you more information earlier, who knows what people from my old job are reading this blog! I had intended to get a new position by July 2010, and here we are in July with a new job!  This unfortunately means that Goal #5: Act and Model More will now go by the wayside and will need to be scrapped.  I've decided to give up my focus on Acting and Modeling since after all, it's leading to nowhere and fast.

My NEW job is working on Mexican Food! You all know I LOVE Mexican food so I am really happy about this and my manager has been awesome so far. New product tastings are now of tacos rather than sugar free gum that made my stomach churn.  My only concern is that I'll have to hit the gym more or do more Insanity Workouts to get down to my goal weight.

If you have any great ideas for new types of Mexican foods for the grocery stores, please send them my way!  I'm especially excited because it means I can really impact the availablity of more gluten-free foods.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Traumatic Drug Screen

I started a new job yesterday. Like most companies, my new company requires a drug screen. For the past three companies I have worked for, the screening consisted of the traditional “pee in a cup” test. My new company, however, elects the hair drug screen. I’m going to take a moment to rant about how I was traumatized by this hair drug screen.

As some of you know, lately I’ve been obsessing about my hair loss. I noticed a significant change to the thickness of my hair after realizing that clumps of strands would fall out in the shower or whenever I ran my fingers through my hair. It was likely due to the extreme stress caused by going through the job transition.

I have been going to great lengths to preserve the hair that I do still have. I cut off about 7” to prevent the weight pulling at the roots (and donated the hair to the oil spill even though I suppose 7” won’t do much of anything on those oil filled beaches). I got some hair thickening serum from my hair dresser. I made up some brandy and ginger concoction that my mom gave me the recipe for since it’s an ancient Chinese remedy (did they actually have brandy in ancient China?) You can understand that no 29 year old woman wants to be bald.

And so, I have to take this hair drug screen. I wrongly assumed that they would snip a few strands and I would be on my way. Instead, I arrive to this ghetto 70’s looking building at the corner of Montrose and Milwaukee that claims to be a doctor’s office. I filled out my forms in the waiting room and was called into an examination room shortly after. The room seems clean but not sanitary and probably one of the sketchiest doctor’s office I’ve ever seen aside from the dilapidated dentist’s office in Panama.

I sit down in a chair facing the wall and the doctor with his 70’s mustache that matches his powder blue slacks tells me, “I’m going to snip a patch of hair larger than the size of a postage stamp.” And I’m like “WHAT? Are you kidding? I didn’t know you were going to take so much hair! Why do you need to take so much? Of course I start crying. I’m such a wimp. But I’ve been so stressed about my hair loss, that losing a 1” x 1” square shaven to the head was extremely traumatic. As he is snipping away, I hear him telling the poor medical intern that hair is the best way to screen for drugs because they can go farther back in time.
The doctor tells me, “Don’t worry, it will grow back in three months.” Yeah, maybe if you’re a guy with 1 inch long hair. Yes, then it will grow back. For me and my past-shoulder length hair, it will take several years to match the original length.

So let’s think about this for a moment. What about a guy who shaves his head bald? You know, those ones who are in denial that they’re going bald so they just shave it all off? How would they do a hair drug screen? Or what about a guy or even a girl who wears a frohawk or pixie cut? Even if there’s enough to cut off, they won’t get the same amount of history in the hair. So even if my 12” long hair (yes, I just measured it with a ruler) contained any trace of drugs (which I can assure you, there’s zero possibility of showing anything other than herbal supplements), how is that fair compared to a guy with 1” of hair? If your hair grows at a rate of ¼” per month, then the guy gives 4 months of history and I give 4 years of history. So while a hair drug screen might be more accurate, it’s certainly invasive and inconsistent when it comes to time history.

For now, I’ll just keep dousing my hair in the hair thickening serum, massaging my scalp with ginger-brandy, take prenatal vitamins and fish oil, and eat seaweed and black sesame seeds. Hopefully it will all grow back thick and healthy soon, otherwise, I might have to add Maine 'n Tail shampoo to the routine.