Salad Cravings

The first time I realized I had a problem with salads was when I found myself going to the same place for lunch every day for a month (okay, longer)…because I was addicted to their chopped salad. Co-workers stopped going to lunch with me. Apparently, they thought you could have too much of a good thing.

Sometimes, I just don’t understand people.

I’ve also been obsessed with Wedge Salads. It’s an incredibly simple salad, featuring the much-maligned Iceberg lettuce. Sometimes, however, Iceberg is the perfect lettuce…think of how satisfying it is on a hot summer day!

As a gluten-free diner, I know salads are often the safest food on the menu. I also know they’re often the most boring. Indifferent lettuce, tasteless dressings, chunks of vegetables. Oh, and do not forget the anemic, out-of-season tomatoes.

This is why, unless I’m at one of my favorite restaurants — for example, Tender Greens in Pasadena or Culver City — I tend to confine my salad cravings to my home. I can indulge in fresh avocado, crisp-tender blanched veggies, salty salami, freshly made dressings.

Of course, salads are more than lettuce. I turn my Roasted Sweet Potatoes into a great salad featuring a mustardy vinaigrette. I love creative potato salads. Since I’ve never been a huge mayo person, I gravitate toward vinaigrette dressings with my potatoes. Lentil salads. Broccoli salads. Fruit salads — good fruit salads, not the indifferent couple of chunks of melon and pineapple that so many restaurants serve.

Side salads, salads as meals. Salads. Three guesses what I’m craving as I write this?

Roasted Vegetables: A Few Tips

My mother hates to cook. This is not a secret. She doesn’t do it anymore, and she’s happy about it. My grandmother, however, was a great cook. My theory is sometimes the love of cooking skips a generation. Or, you know, desperate people do desperate things.

Despite her preference to have anyone but her do the cooking, my mother learned a few culinary tricks from her mother. Such as the ability to serve awful, overdone vegetables. Apparently, anything green (or orange or purple) was sentenced to death by boiling. For a very long time.
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Hamburgers Beyond The Bun

I have a friend who asks the same question whenever we go out to dinner: Is there anything I can eat? This friend has zero dietary restrictions. He can eat anything. Unfortunately, he refuses to try anything beyond a (very) limited list of foods.

(Yes, it amuses me that he is always focused on what he can eat, without considering the challenges faced by his GF friends…I’m not the only person he knows who must eat gluten-free.)

He’s a hamburger freak. So am I. The difference is he limits himself to a plain burger with just salt and pepper as seasoning. Nothing else. Not that there’s anything wrong with salt and pepper on a burger. But, really, nature gives us so much more to enjoy with our burgers!
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Quesadillas: Gluten-Free

I admit it: when I went gluten-free, I crossed quesadillas off my list of “love to eats”. I had never, ever seen a quesadilla that didn’t have a wheat flour tortilla involved. Somehow, the whole package — tortillas, cheese, seasonings — seemed like a match made in heaven.

Then I caught myself staring at a package of corn tortillas I had left over from another meal. And I wondered about using corn tortillas in quesadillas. I wondered some more. I plotted my course, and did a little research. Which confirmed what I suspected: corn quesadillas are easy and so tasty.

(Think about it: corn tortillas are generally more flavorful than wheat tortillas, so, of course, they’d make a more delicious quesadilla).

The only trick you need to remember for making these quesadillas is to lightly brush or spray oil onto the quesadilla to help it cook up crisp.

Bisquick, or, Then Things Got Weird

As a child, I indulged in Bisquick-based foods quite frequently. I like to think I was known for my fantastic drop biscuits. And, of course, my pancakes were legends in my own mind. I am sure I used my mother’s electric skillet far more than she ever did.

Over time, Bisquick and I grew apart. It wasn’t the Bisquick, it wasn’t me, it was just one of those things. We went in different directions. I started making stuff from scratch. I found solace in cooking. When my youngest sister and I start talking food on Facebook, my mother chimes in with “Where did I go wrong?”.

This didn’t change when I went gluten-free (except, you know, no more Sundays devoted to making sourdough bread, which is shaping up to be my Fall GF cooking project). I shunned prepared mixes and foods, this time with good reason. All those hidden gluten-y things. I was gluten-free, and I was going to do it my way.
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