Posts Tagged Bread

Gluten-Free at The University of Idaho

Clara’s daughter, Jenna, graduated from high school this spring and is currently up to her ears in her first year at college. She has been texting pictures of campus life to Clara including her meals. Clara is so pleased about Jenna’s local gluten-free food options that I asked Jenna to write a guest post. And somehow she found the time!
On Campus at The University of Idaho
On Campus at The University of Idaho

    Finding gluten-free food at college is a bit of a challenge; but thankfully, the University of Idaho is doing its part to incorporate gluten-free options into their cafeteria and other meal locations. At first, I just assumed that there would be nothing for me outside of salads, so I became fast friends with those who work at the salad station (they mix the salad for you) since I was always eating there. One evening, however, I was tired of salads, and I got a cheeseburger instead. Luckily, they leave the burger open-faced, so it is easy to remove without prying off the cheese (arguably the best part).
    The only regular gluten-free food at the cafeteria to depend on is dessert. The baker at the cafeteria has been experimenting with gluten-free baking. On most weekdays, there is a dessert I can eat. They are usually decadent – like red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, or a brownie with chocolate sauce….yummy. They made some very good peanut butter cookies and peppermint patties with icing. My friends who are not gluten-free are also big fans of the gluten-free desserts and try to get them too. The dessert workers have begun to learn to hold back the gluten-free desserts so that those who are gluten-free actually get one because the gluten-free desserts are that good.
    One day, I was talking to the lady making my salad, and we got to talking about the gluten-free offerings. She informed me that if you ask nicely at the deli sandwich counter, those making the sandwiches will go in the back and get corn or rice bread according to your preference (of course, this isn’t the good stuff, but it is certainly a start). They also have gluten-free crackers that are tasteless in a Saltine kind of way, so I ask specifically for them if I get a salad.

Gluten-Free Crackers!

Gluten-Free Crackers!

    Yesterday, I went to Win Co Foods, a Northwest bulk foods store that has wonderful prices, and one of my friends I went with saw Udi’s gluten-free products on a lower shelf in the freezer section. I was so delighted to see brands I know well, and I bought the pizza crusts. I made one last night, and it was wonderful. I ate it all by myself, but it had been a couple weeks since I had pizza. This made my day.
    Today, I am making meatballs according to the recipe my wonderful mother made up all on her own. I feel much more confident knowing that there are gluten-free options nearby. I am also encouraged by how many people know about gluten-free in this area. Most people don’t even need it explained to them, which is refreshing.

Really Good Desserts!!

Really Good Desserts!!

    The one not-so-great thing is that I haven’t had a decent sandwich since I have come here. The deli at the cafeteria offers gluten-free bread occasionally, but it is hard, dense, and doesn’t even soften when heated. Plus, the nearest Jason’s Deli is in Utah, just 432 miles away.
    So, this is much better than I ever expected for college, and this part of the world is remarkably accommodating for those of us with food allergies and other diet choices, but I wish they had more choices more of the time.

Jenna Putnam
The University of Idaho


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Jason’s Deli in Austin, TX

   I cannot even remember the last time I ordered a sandwich at a restaurant. Sandwiches always made me feel ill-at-ease and wishing I had chosen something else. Number 1 Son (our private little joke) Jorge and I used to eat at a Jason’s Deli in Arlington, Texas when I was consulting at some company or other in that area. My go-to selection was always The Plain Jane baked potato with all of the condiments on the side and that was a good, solid meal.
   When the pressing need for more allergy medication and the news that Jason’s Deli at the Arboretum in Austin (mere blocks away from Whole Foods which carries said medication) has gluten-free bread it was fate. Of course we had lunch there yesterday!
   When I started to order a Turkey Reuben a very knowledgeable staff person explained to me the possibility of cross-contamination because of the conveyer belt in their special oven where those sandwiches are prepared. Don’t you just LOVE it when people know what they are talking about?
   So I ordered the Mediterranean Wrap on the gluten-free bread with a side of fresh fruit. I never could sing and I haven’t danced in years but about two bites into that sandwich I felt like doing both. Copied from the menu (I brought one home with me): 98% fat free oven roasted turkey breast, roasted red pepper hummus, cucumbers, purple onions, kalamata olives, roma tomatoes and organic field greens with the gluten-free bread instead of the organic wheat wrap.
   All that remained on my plate after lunch was two toothpicks and the caps from the three wonderful strawberries that accompanied the three large chunks of perfect cantaloupe. Oh, and Don wiped a bit of hummus off my face when we were walking back to the car . . .
   To the management of Jason’s Deli – thank you and keep it up!!!! I only get into Austin occasionally but you can bet I will return for lunch at Jason’s. Oh, and wouldn’t you like to build a deli in Georgetown? Or even Round Rock? Please?


Update 4/29/2010 – This email received from Clara and Jenna, another gluten-free Mother-Daughter duo:
    What a wonderful meal we had at Jason’s this evening!  Jenna had her old fave, the Club Royale, prepared w/the wonderful g-f bread.  She promptly gobbled down the entire sandwich & declared it fabulous.  I had my old fave, the Deli Club, on the g-f bread – outstanding. 
    I spoke w/the mgr., who had helped us w/our order.  He said the bread’s been receiving very positive reviews.  This location is one of only two Jason’s test locations for the g-f bread.  He didn’t know how long the test marketing would go on.

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The Bread Farm – a ridiculous true story

   Yesterday was one of those days when a long-ago, best-forgotten memory was triggered. And it was also a significant anniversary date of that memory.
   The trigger was a comment posted here by Sharon at Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking. The anniversary was the day I went into labor with my first child – that would be Rita. The memory was the kitchen disaster I perpetrated that my own Mom cleaned up the next day describing it as ‘The Bread Farm’.
   My paternal Grandmother, she of the chickens, home grown vegetables and homemade soap, also baked her own sourdough bread. I was allowed to ‘help’ and usually had a small portion of dough allotted to me for my own creations. Grandma was always patient and she narrated each and every step of the process for my benefit.
   At home I learned to bake from recipes. I used store bought yeast just as we also used store bought eggs and store bought soap never realizing the essential differences.
   So that fateful evening Rita’s Dad and I were at home in our tiny apartment. I was restless and decided there was time to make up a batch of bread before bedtime. I mixed it up, kneaded it, and set it for the first rising on top of the stove where the pilot light would keep it warm. The utensils went into the sink for cleanup when the bread went into the oven. By then my feet hurt and my back was really aching. I stretched out in the recliner in the living room to read but mostly dozed. And I completely forgot the bread and went to bed
   In the morning the stove was covered with dough and was running down the front and one side. Across the top it had turned into a tenacious brick-like substance. After Rita’s Dad left for work I started the clean up.
   Mourning the loss of that perfectly good batch of bread I had the bright idea of salvaging it by using the remainder to start another batch. Grandma always put some of dough in a jar with additional flour and water and put it in the refrigerator until her next batch. So I carefully made up my ‘starter’ in a mason jar, screwed on the lid, and set it in the middle of the breakfast table. In the meantime I was having terrible stomach pains but that had been the story of my life (thanks to no gluten awareness at the time). I just rested across the bed between bouts of pain and in between times chiseled away at the stove. I never finished – hubby came home from work and called the doctor. We headed for the hospital.
   The next day my parents arrived, Rita and I were bonding, the stove was still doughy, the sink was full of utensils buried in an ever expanding yeast glob, the lid on the mason jar had come undone, and dough was spreading across the breakfast table.
   That was what happened the last time I attempted ‘sourdough’. While sourdough sounds like a good idea . . . . . .

Happy Birthday today, Rita!

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