Thanksgiving: The (upside) run-down

Yes this looks almost the same as last year, but why mess with what works?


Whenever you cook a giant meal, somethings got to give, and depending on what that something is, you either have a giant success, or a giant mess. Before I tell you what this year’s “something” was, I will say, this year was a giant success.


Worth every OCD-inducing minute.


Here are some things I learned this Thanksgiving:


When you have an old oven, you must be prepared to sit there and watch as your oven thermometer goes up and down with no rhyme or reason, or concordance with the actual temperature-dial.  This oven assumes you have nothing better to do.


Even if you cook several things beforehand, there will be an hour when you are absolutely nuts, when you can’t stand people coming into the kitchen, and when you are a bit of a terror. It’s the price of a good cook.


Gravy – good, from scratch gravy – is a bitch. For those who like to have a complex savory-yet-sweet flavor, it is a long road. Also, gravy never comes out the same every year. You may find yourself putting odd things into it, but it really doesn’t matter – it’s your secret.


Getting baked.


No matter how many pies you make, they will be gone very quickly – if not that night, the next morning. (We are all animals when it comes to homemade pie. Especially pecan. Damn.


And finally, some things that are completely wrong come out completely right. Case in point: this year, I cooked the turkey upside-down. I shall explain: My turkey came in a bag that was hard to see through (spices and such) and when I shoved it in the oven at 9 am I must have missed the fact that it was in fact, face-down (breast-down? whatever). I didn’t notice it was thus until, whilst carving, I wondered why there was no breast meat on my turkey.




BUT – as it turns out, this works. Cooking the turkey upside down ensures that the dark meat is done and that the breast meat is very moist – perfectly so. All the juices go to the bottom of the bag and hang out in the white meat. My fellow diners suggested that I should make this mistake next year. Who knew?


This year, I am thankful that my mistakes turned out to be blessings, and I had people I love to share them with – even if those people drove me crazy, I am thankful that it’s always a good day.


Coming up: a pie you need to make.


Spotted: Gluten-Free Goodies at The Coffee Bean

314677_10100521913353283_3205146_57482142_1760422078_nLook, no fog!

Today was a very warm day in Sonoma county; so warm, in fact, that it was over 80 degrees in San Francisco. This, my friends, is rare.

But do you know what is also rare? Finding a gluten-free baked good at your regular coffee joint. How does this hot weather relate to this rarity, you ask? Business called me to the city today, and around 11am I was walking down Fillmore – which, if you didn’t know, has basically every coffee chain within a one-block perimeter. And as my boyfriend led us into Noah’s Bagels to pick up a toasty number for himself (lucky bastard), I fond myself sitting at a back-table, feeling rather glum; I was tired and a bit cranky, or in other words, feeling the need for some bagel love. Sadly, there is no gluten-free bagel love to be found at Noah’s.

imageBut there is hope: As we walked out of the cafe, I instinctively ducked into the adjacent coffee place, The Coffee Bean, to admire their case of pastries. And what did I find? In the upper left-hand corner, a gluten-free cinnamon bun. (!)

Now, wheat-eating folks cannot know the joy of this find. Too often are the gluten-free forced to look longingly at treats while we drink our coffee a la nothing. Even though we shouldn’t be eating those muffins and scones all the time (I favored the maple variety at Starbucks myself) sometimes you just need a freakin slice of coffee cake.

Anyway, a small victory, but it made my morning, so I’d just like to say thank you to The Coffee Bean, and thank you to whoever made the decision to stock those buns.

Of course, in a pinch, you can always tote one of these!


Gluten free toaster waffles: Nature’s Path Buckwheat vs. Van’s Totally Natural

Toaster waffles are a great, quick way to grab breakfast, and there is no reason why a gluten-free diet should keep you away from them! There are more than two brands of GF waffles out there of course, but Nature’s Path Buckwheat and Van’s are the two most common brands that I come across when shopping both at regular and natural supermarkets in California.

So how do they stack up?

Nature’s Path Nutrition Info (2 waffles):image

  • 180 Calories
  • 6g Fat
  • 1g Saturated Fat
  • 350mg Sodium
  • 29g Carbohydrates
  • 1g Fiber
  • 4g Sugar
  • 2g Protein


Vans Nutrition Info (2 waffles):

  • 230 Caloriesimage
  • 7g Fat
  • 1g Saturated Fat
  • 400mg Sodium
  • 42g Carbohydrates
  • 1g Fiber
  • 4g Sugar
  • 2g Protein



Nutritionally: If you are counting calories, Van’s is a killer. Both brands are basically the same on other counts, but Van’s is also higher in fat, sodium, and carbs. Both are the same on sugar, fiber, and protein, however.

Each brand is wheat, gluten, dairy, and egg free, containing soy. They have a similar mixture of different flours and fruit juices as well. Both are organic.

Taste: NP waffles are sweeter (being wildberry flavored) and you can definitely pick up on fruit juices, as well as the fruit pieces in the dough. Particularly nice if you only want to put butter on them. Van’s are less sweet and the fruit flavor is not very strong, with a saltier taste. Really, they taste like toast, which some people may prefer.

Price: Depending on how your store puts these on sale, either could be cheaper. However I usually find the NP waffles on sale for cheaper than Van’s. I often find them as 2 boxes for $4-5, and Van’s usually come in around $3-4 for a box. (Sometimes more if you shop at Whole Foods, but then, isn’t everything…)

Texture: This is where the two brands really split apart. NP waffles toast up nicely and hold their shape very well, without crumbling or breaking. You can apply any spread and they don’t give up crumbs. The Van’s waffles almost came apart when I picked them up out of the toaster, and while jam went on ok, a huge amount of crumbs came off when I spread on butter. While I was eating them one actually split across the surface, so the jam-part fell off. The Van’s also soak up syrup quicker than NP, so you might have to put more on, or just reassure yourself that the syrup is already inside the waffles.

The Winner? Click “More” to see!


Gluten-Free Dreaming Copyright 2011.