August 31, 2013

Getting Through the Heat Wave with Gluten-Free Tortillas

This week has been hot and muggy, reminding us that summer is not going anywhere anytime soon. It threatened to rain all week and we finally got some relief last night. We didn’t mind because our garden needed it. Hose water just isn’t the same.

We haven’t felt like doing much because of the hot humid temperatures for most of the summer. This week I’ve gone out early for my morning walk this week trying to beat the heat; not always successfully. We haven’t been cooking that much; not even barbequing. I grilled a few chicken breasts to last us the week, but this summer I don’t even want to stand in front of the BBQ or eat something hot.

Thankfully Rudi’s has brought their gluten-free tortillas to Canada and we’ve been eating wraps like they’re going out of style. I am quite thankful they are now available because when the Enjoy Life wraps first came out they were wonderful, but something changed and they became quite abysmal. Rudi’s tortilla wraps are softer and more pliable, bending every which way without breaking. They will eventually break given the right conditions, like squeezing them to death. I picked up the spinach ones thinking about the gluten ones in the grocery store that have spinach, tomato, or vegetables upping the nutrients.  They didn’t taste too much like spinach – comparing it to a salad – but they tasted good, especially wrapped with some roasted vegetables (those prepacked trays at Metro are wonderful and two-three on the BBQ at once will last us the week, and less time cooking).

Each package contains 8 tortillas and costs around $6-7 depending on where you buy them. I found mine at Natural Pantry, but I’ve also heard that Rainbow Foods carries them. Foodsmiths in Perth is where I first discovered them hoping that somewhere closer to home would have them (and they do). The price does seem a little high, especially compared to the gluten-counterpart, but don’t most gf items? Depending on how many meals you can get out of it can help swallow the cost. If you’re one person and stuff the wraps full, then they’ll seem much cheaper, but if you’re feeding a family of four or making small sandwiches the package is going to empty quickly.

They are perfect for my sandwiches and I’ll definitely be picking them up again.

August 26, 2013


It is hard to believe that summer is coming to a close. Although we technically have another few weeks, it is finished for many as they head back to school and a regular work routine. It feels a little weird for me as I haven’t really been looking for a job; instead working on a business plan. That was the deal The Honey and I made. He would be ok with me being unemployed as long as I got my business plan done. He probably had visions of me lounging in a recliner in the sun with a bottle/glass of something next to me, and I don’t blame him. If it hadn’t been for our deal I probably would have procrastinated quite a bit. I have been working hard and trying to get over some road blocks, which haven’t been that easy. I finally got over some confusion with numbers (Oh numbers and me don’t always get along) and am off to the finish line. Not quite, but I’m getting closer.

Weekends have been short getaways or day trips outside the city escaping from what awaits us at home, besides the cat. A sunny day in Perth led us to Sweet & Savoury Traditions, just off the main street downtown. It’s a tiny place with a few tables and chairs, but with many options for those who are gluten free. Upon walking in one is greeted by plates of baked goodies, a few being gluten-free. Tall shelves line the walls with goodies, either pre-packaged or made locally; again, many are gf. You can order something to be made for you to enjoy there or wander over to the reach-in freezer, which is full of goodies to take home. Here, you can browse to your content because the gf items are marked on the label (with a big red dot) and there are so many choices. Some is naturally gf, like Shepard’s Pie, while others are made with gf replacements, like the gf vegetable lasagna.

Upon arriving home, the cabbage rolls and veggie lasagna were popped into the freezer for when they were needed. A week or so had passed before they were reheated and enjoyed. Both were filling for one person as is, maybe two if salad or vegetables were added to the meal. Both the cabbage rolls and lasagna had nice flavour and I would buy them again, especially since the price and size are good. The list of ingredients is what they should be: real food and simple.


Lunch one day took us to Carleton Place where we ended up at The GoodFood Co. It was a busy spot. The menu had a variety and as we made our way through it I saw that many items were gf. I was surprised and happy, and even The Honey was impressed.

Some follow-up questions are still needed though just to make sure and so anything of concern can be left off. I was disappointed that the soy sauce for the sushi wasn’t gf because I got my hopes up. Instead I got a chicken Caesar salad (sans croutons) and I was still pleased. This is a ‘real Caesar’ and had enough garlic to ward off any vampires – awesome. The salad was substantial, not drowning in dressing, and the chicken was moist. I was very satisfied and quickly forgot about the sushi option.

Food at both businesses is made with love and it shows; it’s delicious.

August 16, 2013

Favourite Bread

It has been a weird week. I tweaked my back on the weekend, which actually meant that my hips were acting up again and not rotating properly. Then my body crashed – oh the joys of being a woman!! – worse than usual and I spent a day on the couch sleeping and drinking tea. A woman I know gave me a bag of Earl Grey tea that has little bits of lavender and vanilla and it helped me not want to jump in front of a bus. Tuesday I went for a short walk and got my back and hips worked on at a neighbourhood clinic. It was painful, but my body felt so good afterward. My posture was straight; I could twist and turn, and bend over without a problem. After seeing how rough I was for a few days The Honey now thinks I should go for a massage monthly as a preventative measure. I partly agree, but the cost does add up. I’m sure my RMT was able to take a little holiday last year because of me. Tuesday was great then I wake up Wednesday morning so sick to my stomach; another day on the couch and with some tea and honey. By evening I was feeling better but was stumped as to the cause. I had been in pretty decent shape the last few months so I guess it was bound to happen that I would have an off week. Unfortunately, nothing much has gotten done this week as a result – dishes piled up, laundry sat wet in the washing machine or hung on the drying rack a few extra days, my business plan sat on the floor collecting cat hair (oh, summer), and board meeting minutes didn’t get sent out. Thankfully I was back to normal yesterday and a whole pile of catching up happened.

This morning is another day and the weather is just perfect. I went for my usual morning walk (no problems with the bosy), got a coffee for the walk home, and am feeling pretty unmotivated to do any real work. My TESL books are slowly getting summarized and packed away. There are about two shelves left; the stuff I didn’t really use. Other projects have come up and they can wait until these books get put away. The Honey and I have been talking about what to do with the shelves now that they are half empty. One may find its way to the curb or on Kijiji.

This seems to be the summer of sandwiches for us. The Honey got so sick of salads in the spring that he actually begged not to have any more. It was getting a little too much. Our salad pot finally bid us adieu two weekends ago, scorched by the heat and then drowned by a massive rainstorm. The Parkdale Market has been keeping us going with our usual vegetables and lettuce. Udi’s bread has been one of my favourites because it doesn’t need to be toasted. I still like it, but I’ve had to cut back more on my ingestion of potatoes as those little guys are affecting me even more (I think the starch is more potent than the potatoes, actually).

On a trip to Perth, we stopped in at FoodSmith’s. It’s a tiny grocery store with a lot packed into it, and fabulous quality too. They even had some gluten-free items I hadn’t seen at our stores here in Ottawa. We didn’t need any groceries, but we ended up picking up some things because they were too hard to resist. Silver Hills makes a bunch of healthy breads that can be found at some of the health food stores. I’d heard there was a gf one, but never found it. Walking around to the freezer section I saw two; a flaxseed and a chia seed. I like flax so that one came home with us and it is good. It’s actually healthy, tastes healthy, but also tastes good. Whether it’s toasted or not it does the job. I was beginning to think I’d have to go without because I still hadn’t found it around town, but luck would have it that Farm Boy now carries it. Yea!!

New to the market is All But Gluten, a gluten-free line made by Westons. The plain bread doesn’t really do anything for me, but the focaccia is quite nice. I was lucky enough to get some freebies of it at the CCA conference, and with my little Metro carrying it I can pick it up whenever I like. Apparently, Walmart and other grocery stores carry it as well. It’s nice dipped in oil and a nice vinegar, toasted for a snack, and sliced in half for a sandwich. The Honey had no idea it was gf.
Udi’s is still on my favourite’s list, but now I have two more options to add. And on a gf diet, options are always nice to have.

August 6, 2013


It’s been an odd summer, but at least the temperatures have finally levelled out. I haven’t been outside too much this year with all the rain and killer heat, and as a result my bike still hasn’t left the shed. The Honey and I can’t complain about the rain because our garden looks fabulous this year. 

The last of our lillies finally finished and now our coneflowers are in full bloom. Our roses are steller and the envy of those walking by. Finally, our garden is doing well!!!

I’ve been going out for walks too because I am newly unemployed again (don’t feel sad, because I’m not). When I left the school behind I wasn’t without a job for long. A little cafĂ© was looking for a baker and I wanted to learn more about the business and they hired me. It was rocky at the beginning – recipes not written down properly, mistakes in the recipes (then mistakes with what I made). I felt out of my comfort zone so I was also a quieter person and as a result a colleague, who thought he was the gift to the world, wasn’t very nice to me. I let it slide most of the time because I didn’t care about him in the least and even though I wanted to put him in his place, I didn’t. The Honey says I can be a bitch to people sometimes and it was a new job so I wanted to make a good impression. The guy obviously thought I was there because I needed a job – HA!! My position, their full-time baker, was an experiment and it turns out they didn’t really need someone full-time. I was there to learn about the business and I wasn’t really learning that much. The Honey was surprised when I came home after my second shift and told him all the things they were doing wrong (The staff were all wearing flip flops! How is that not a health and safety issue?!) and how it needed to be corrected. It had been many years since I’ve worked in hospitality, but shouldn’t the owners know better than me?

So it’s not a loss. My walks have given a chance to reflect and decide what I’m going do and how. I do have some plans and they’ll keep me occupied. For the last two years I’ve missed most of summer so I plan to enjoy it while I can.

A friend from back home (and the only one I’ve kept as a friend) came to visit for the long weekend because she needed a break from her life and her kids. As much as she loved them, she needed a holiday. We spent the weekend wandering around the city, popping into shops, eating our way through neighbourhoods. We discovered that Oh So Good in the market and Lapointes in Westboro have gf cake available, and they both were really good.

Our dinner plans went a little awry due to the crazy rainclouds/sunshine on Sunday giving my friend a killer headache. I had my heart on trying a restaurant in the market and seeing how disappointed I was, The Honey took me there. Brothers Beer Bistro has 3 gluten-free beers available so I figured they would be able to accommodate a celiac. They can with some effort switching things up and with the patience of our waiter, they did and it was worth it. Next time I’ll make a reservation just to make it easier on everyone. Our waiter was so kind and helpful and he did everything possible to make sure the food was safe for me (even the butter had beer in it), but knowing in advance would have saved him endless trips to the kitchen. This place will be ‘a treat’ to go to because BSG is one of my favourites and at $9 each, our bill grew quickly.

One of the items we had was charcuterie – a plate with cheese, meat and a few pickled items. It seemed really cool and we enjoy the selection. I was on my own Monday evening so I made myself another. With some special elk kielbasa from Elk Ranch and elk, cranberry, & apple sausages from Bearbrook Farm I felt like I was in for a treat in my own living room. I had a bottle of St Peter’s G-Free left and some white cheddar (oddly from Ikea) and made myself a stunning little plate. Sadly though the dill pickles I picked up at Herbfest were mushy and disappointing.

As I was finishing up my board I realized something. Charcuterie is much like an average Polish meal. I grew up eating something very similar to this (sans Dijon mustard), but in my mom’s Polish family we called it ‘lunch’.