Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The economy ate my wholesale accounts

I've been seeing a slow but steady change over the last couple of years in my business. It started with just a few of my retailers ordering less. Then, a few stores actually closed shop. Over the summer I had a fairly large customer stop sending birthday gifts to his clients. That was a nice chunk of change that we relied on each month that vanished overnight. Two more stores closed. One large retailer stopped ordering all together...and now the first store to ever carry our products, the Anchor Room, has closed their doors too.

Honestly, except for the emotional attachment to Anchor Room, and the relationships built with employees, I haven't really minded the loss of the wholesale accounts. I am a busy mom, with lots on my plate. My day doesn't begin and end with DipSticks, so losing wholesale seemed manageable. After all, I work just as hard on those orders as I do for direct, retail orders, but I make half the money.

Then, the busiest season of the year rolled around and I held my breath. You just literally NEVER know what's around that crazy corner called Christmas Shopping season. As expected, I had very minimal wholesale orders, but I did increase my corporate and retail orders. I think all in all it evened out. I wasn't nearly as stressed this year, which came in handy, given the whole stress eating issue going around here. But, I'm certainly not knocking anyone off the Forbes list anytime soon either.

But, I'm okay with that. For now. I have many things to deal with that are more important than sales and profit loss reports. Kids for one thing. Health is up there pretty high too. Once both kids are in full day school (which will be this August!! Woot!) I will have lots of time, and if all goes as planned, my health will be back on track by then too. So, look out!

I know the economy had a lot to do with my sales decrease locally, but I've witnessed two other food businesses in LA and New York quite literally explode with sales this year. That tells me there's a lot out there in the big ol' interwebs that I have yet to tap. Very exciting and motivating....so now I'm making my list and checking it twice, to make sure I am ready for next years Christmas Shopping season. Many changes to come, but change can be good.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Emotional Eating can suck it!

The last few months have been such a roller coaster around here. Not just professionally with the business, but personally too. Do you feel it? It seems like the whole world is churning around and making changes and freaking everyone out. Something just seems to be going on. I've bought more motivational/self-help books in the last two months than Oprah has had on her show ever. I'm still looking for the one that actually helps.

I've considered new religious points of view, I've looked into Yoga, I've sought professional opinions, and I've baked. Boy have I baked. Baking is therapy for me though. As soon as I start chopping and sifting and stirring, it's like there are no troubles in the world. One caveat....if you eat said baked items, you will gain weight. Based on the amount of weight I've gained this year, I'd say I've had one whopper of a stressful year.

But, I can't keep gaining, so I'm slowing down on baking these days and thinking about other ways of dealing with my stress. First and foremost, I had my thyroid medication changed which seems to really have made the most difference. Second, I have found some websites where I can check in and share my thoughts with others. Having that support system does make a big difference. And I'm going to try to blog more. I tried writing in a journal, but I can type so much faster than I write, that it just makes sense to do it this way.

So, bare with me as I write my way to wellness...physically, spiritually, and mentally. And please share your thoughts on getting through tough times. I'd love to hear them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Announcements! Announcements!

So, we've been a little busy around here in pretzel land. I've been working on some more aggressive marketing this holiday. And by aggressive, I mean I'm actually trying for once. You see, I have these things called children that, in the past, have required lots of attention from me. Not that they still don't, but they are much more manageable and understanding than during previous holidays. I think it goes without saying, that I prefer my sanity over pretzel sales any day. I don't think all business owners share my beliefs on that one, but for our family, this is what works.

Having said all that, I feel a little safer in attempting to secure more orders for DipSticks. So, while my days aren't entirely kid free, or stress free, I am quite a bit more flexible with what my options can be.

The best part is most people approach us anyway, so we've done pretty good so far without spending money or going crazy on getting new business. Case in point, the Hilton in Indianapolis contacted us a few weeks ago to try some samples of our pretzels. They loved them and are now carrying them as turndown ammenities for their special guests. Very cool.

Also, Crazy Sisters Coffee, in Lutheran Hospital, has shown interest and will hopefully be selling our little pretzels for the holiday season soon. Webbs Hallmark in southern Indiana has also called several times to find out how to carry the pretzels. We're playing phone tag now, but I'm confident once the kinks are worked out, we'll be there in no time.

Another exciting addition to the DipSticks family, although I'm not quite sure how it's going to play out in the long run, are my lovely and tasty cheesecakes. If you read this blog, you've seen them. They are fun to make and so delicious. And now, they can be purchased (well not now, but very soon!) at the Eagle Creek Farms Market in Winona Lake. Our pretzels will be there too in addition to ready to take home cheesecakes, and also by the slice served at lunch. I never imagined selling cheesecakes, but I'm not turning it down. My dream is to have a DipSticks Gourmet Coffee and Sweets shop someday and sell all my baked goods, pretzels, and great coffee. I can smell it already!

Overall, sales have been pretty good this year, despite the economy. But, the weird thing, is that while some stores like Hallmark and other smaller stores have really declined in sales, others have picked up, or we've added new ones. It all seems to balance out. I'm super thankful that I don't pay any overhead really at all, and no employees to worry about, and it's not our sole income, so that's a plus. It would be hard to run a brick and mortar business these days, and it's so sad to see some close up or lose hope. Maybe this holiday will turn things around. Things are looking up already!

Happy holiday shopping, and don't forget about our lovely gift boxes! (And the 4" pretzels are perfect for stockings and package tie-ons, too.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Trick and a Treat

Here is a cheesecake I did for Halloween. Not because I had a party to go to or anything, just because the idea came to me....and I HAD to make it. Not sure what that says about me, but either way, this cheesecake turned out amazingly!

I wanted to do a pumpkin cheesecake for the orange color, but also because of the fall flavors that are in season now. By pairing it with an oreo cookie crust, I achieved a great black and orange look too.

Once I made the pumpkin batter, I quickly realized I didn't know how to approach the web idea that I had envisioned in my head. If I drizzled chocolate on after it was baked, would it work, or just smear? I wasn't sure. But, I wasn't sure what would happen if I did it prior either. I ended up just creating the spider web with melted chocolate that I poured onto the pumpkin batter before baking and hoped for the best. It actually worked way better than I thought! The chocolate sort of dried out and cracked as it baked, and gave it an even more eerie feel than expected. I was very happy with the results.

Next step, after the cheesecake cooled, was to make the spiced vanilla mousse. All my cheesecakes (except the turtle one, because frankly, with all that caramel and chocolate and nuts on top, it has enough going on!) have a flavored mousse of some kind piped around the edges. Usually they are done with a fancy tip, but it just didn't feel right using a star tip for a scary spider cheesecake. So, I just used a round tip and winged it. The result is some kind of spooky castley/tombstoney looking things. Some people thought they were ghosts, which is fine too.

The funniest part of this, was that I thought I'd be able to just melt some chocolate and start piping some realistic looking spiders. However, the first few spiders I piped ended up looking more like retarded ants. After a quick trip to my favorite place, googleville, I found some photos to work from, and finally started getting better results.

A quick dusting of nutmeg all over the whole cake, and my masterpiece was complete. Not only did this one look amazing, but the taste was ridiculous. I can't believe how good it was. It was very much like pumpkin pie, but had a light and fluffy texture and wasn't too sweet.

I plan to make this for Thanksgiving using a ginger snap crust, or maybe a cinnamon almond cookie crust instead of oreos, and just using the star tip for the mousse...sans spiders of course too! Cheesecakes are fun, yo!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Is there a doctor in the big house?

For Jacob's 4th birthday, we got him a doctor's kit toy. He loves it and plays doctor all the time. Well, all the time except for when he's playing PlayStation Lego games (like batman, indiana jones, and star wars) with his big brother. He has learned the difference between good guys and bad guys, or so it became apparent this morning.

We were loading up the car to get Joshua to school, and Jacob was toting along one of the pieces from his doctor kit. He said, "Mommy! I got my doctor toy!" "Oh great!" I said excitedly. "Are you going to be a doctor when you grow up?" "NO. I'm going to be a bad guy."

That figures....

Monday, August 31, 2009

The playboy perfume pretzel, and other short stories

Well this is an odd one, even for me. When I was in college, a friend of mine worked in a department store in the mall. She gave me a small sample of a trendy perfume named "Child." I held onto it forever. Like, a whole 10 years! I finally started wearing it and was all "Woah. This stuff is awesome!" So, after that tiny vial was almost empty, about a month later, I looked it up online. And surprise surprise, it's not sold anywhere except online now. I ordered some from beautyhabit.com, and waited anxiously for it to arrive. How does this have anything do to with pretzels? Wait for it...

So, when my order came, I immediately dabbed a bit on, and it didn't smell like I had remembered it. I waited a few weeks, and just never felt like it smelled the same. Like the genius that I am, I waited a good year before I thought, Oh hey, maybe I should email the company to see what is wrong with it.

I googled Child Perfume, found the link to the main company's website, and found the only email address on the contact page. After a short, but sweet email to a person named susan, explaining what had happened, I hit the send button expecting an auto reply saying thanks and hang on we'll get to you in a minute, right after we've taken care of the other 256 nut jobs ahead of you. So, when my iPhone beeped alerting me of a new email, I checked it and found quite a lovely surprise. Not only did Susan reply to my email, but Susan just so happens to be the ass kicking FOUNDER of the cult perfume. The founder! Replying to little old me! Personally! Within hours. I'm easily impressed apparently, but I know how hard it can be to keep up with emails, even just with a business my size. So, yeah, that was impressive.

As we chatted back and forth about the perfume, she noticed my signature that goes on every email that I send. The DipSticks company name and url are on there, and she had checked it out and said it looked incredible. After all the help she was to me with the perfume (oh, you still want to know what happened with the perfume? who cares! this is the exciting part!) I offered to send her a box of pretzels as a thank you. Then, she challenged me with a very unique request: To make a pretzel look like the Child bottle.

That seemed easy enough. At least the bottle wasn't shaped like a giant hat or something. It is a very simple, elegant roll on, with a black matte cap, and a frosty clear body, revealing the yellowish tinted perfumey goodness inside.

The biggest hurdle this task would have is what to roll the pretzel in. I roll all of my pretzels in something...even if it's just more pretzels. I do this for a few reasons. One being that they don't stick to the waxed paper that way, and another because it gives my pretzels the larger size I want.

But, since this bottle is so sleek, that wasn't really an option. I tried rolling it in multi-colored non-pareils and jimmies, to go with that childish vibe, but it looked lumpy and weird. So, I just went with straight caramel.

The yellow chocolate was easy enough to match, and the black wasn't as hard as I initially thought it would be either. I used dark chocolate and added black food coloring. Overall, it was a fun distraction, and Susan loved it. The next hurdle is to figure out if we can get a Child logo directly on the pretzel itself, just like the bottle has. Stay tuned.

As for the perfume dilemma and the playboy connection? Well, I've determined that somehow my body chemistry has changed. Because, I found my vial of the sample that I so dearly loved, and mysteriously it smells the same as the new bottle does. That means the common denominator is me. It use to smell good, now it doesn't, so my theory is that I am eating something, or something has changed, that is altering my biochemistry, hence altering the smell of this perfume. (But, that's for another, more scientific post.) With the whole sugar cleanse thing, I have a feeling I'll notice a difference. Oh don't you worry, I'll be posting about THAT in detail too.

Now for the part you've been waiting for. Susan was a former playboy playmate and partied it up with my rock gods, Motley Crüe and Poison. How amazeballs is that?! Yeah I hate that word too, but you come up with a better one! She's since moved on and is the nicest person I've ever not met. Even if this experience results in no sales, it was worth it to be able to say I know someone who partied with guys I have on a shirt somewhere in my closet...next to a jean jacket with pins of those other guys she partied with. And Ratt.

Vicarious living......sometimes it's good enough.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Have some wine with that cheese.

I found this very interesting. My site stats show me how people find my blog. I did a keyword analysis and here are the top five searches people use that result in landing on one of my blog pages:

13.33% dairy withdrawal

5.49% dairy withdrawal symptoms

4.71% moscato wine brands

3.92% moscato brands

3.14% brands of moscato wine

So basically I'm only good for dairy and wine. Good to know.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dear Sugar aka A letter to Satan

I typically post a mini column called "dear dairy". It's my adorable play on words in which I complain about my dairy free woes. Or, more often than not, my attempting to give up dairy woes.

Two years ago when I did a candida diet, which isn't really a diet per se, it's more of a way of eating to cleanse your body of unwanted yeastie monsters, I noticed several things. My energy level was kkkrrrraaazy after about 2 weeks of being on it. My skin, while normally very clear, was even glowing with health. My weight dropped off like buttah on a hot cob of corn. And my attitude & depressive tendencies were G-O-N-E gone!

However, it is very very very hard to stay on that "diet". I've mentioned this before but it warrants mentioning again....you are supposed to, for the first 4 months, give up dairy, sugar, wheat, vinegar, yeast, mushrooms, alcohol, pork and all cured meats like bacon, caffeine..... and fruit. Dude.

I always start my diet that way, and give up a day or two later. Sometimes an hour or two later. While knowing that this eating will totally make me feel awesome, I appear to not care. I just want my cheetos. And starbucks, and taco bell. But who can blame me, look at all the things you have to "give up"! It feels like a prison sentence.

So, this time I only gave up sugar. I thought instead of overwhelming my body with such a huge change, I'd start small, but really? Sugar was probably the hardest to give up, so it felt huge.

To prepare for this, I got rid of ALL evil sugars from the house, and I brought in healthy sugars, like agave nectar and fruit juice sweetened cookies, as well as loads of fresh veggies and sweet fruits. I use to think that the raging headache I got a few hours into this diet was due to the caffeine withdrawal, but this time the ONLY thing I gave up was sugar, and - you saw this coming - I got a huge headache. SO, obviously the sugar was the evil culprit all along.

But, let me tell you. I feel awesome. I gave up sugar 7 days ago. Given the fact that I made a raspberry cheesecake for someone and received that package of goodies from sugarmohawk, I have eaten a little bit of sugar. But compared to my daily consumption, it has really been nothing. My energy level is getting back to normal, and my mood was improved within a day or two.

I exercised for an hour on the treadmill a few nights ago, and still had enough energy to go for a fast paced walk around the neighborhood with my hubby. You don't know how good it feels to get your life back.

It seems ridiculously obvious that sugar is the devil, but do we ever stop to really pay attention to what is going on in our body that might be caused by sugar? Are you tired? Are you at all mopey or hopeless or down? Is your memory slipping? Well, if you said yes to any of those, then it is so worth it to at least try giving up sugar for a week. Once you feel the difference and see the results, you won't want to go back. And, thankfully, with the great natural sugar alternatives available today, you don't need to.

I may start writing just about sugar for awhile, but I do plan to eventually eliminate dairy and wheat again. I will document each step though, so I have a clear understanding of what exactly my body reacts to.

I'd love to hear your sugar experiences, and tips if you have any! No artificial sweetener info though....I don't do fake.

lady on a plane

I can't remember if I read an article about this, or saw her on a television show, but I remember vividly the story of a woman in the airline industry. It was just after 9/11 and she knew instinctively that her time as a flight stewardess was going to be coming to an end, given the trickle down effect this horrific incident would inevitably have on airline companies.

She had been a stewardess for most of her life, and wasn't sure what she should even do next. So, she just started doing everything. She began planting seeds everywhere she could think, and eventually many of those seeds sprouted at once! She found herself having money coming from all directions, just in time for her to lose her job, as expected. I believe she ended up writing a novel, and traveling the country as a motivational speaker, as well as penning several news columns.

I took inspiration from this at the time, and still hold onto it every day. As a stay at home mom, with a fairly successful business that brings me slim to zero cash, I often wonder what I really should be doing with my life. I am a multi talented, creative, intelligent person with interests in a wide variety of subjects. There has to be SOMETHING I can do to be "successful". (although, really what is success? but, that's for another, more philosophical post.)

First of all, I love DipSticks and won't ever give that up, but as much wholesale business that I do, I don't make a lot of money. Sure, we've made a profit technically, but I don't pull any salary. And I won't until I get more corporate orders and retail orders. Neither of which I can really focus on with two little kids running around. And let me be clear. I COULD do it, I just choose to put my family first at this time. Oh, and sleep. Yeah, I prioritize that too.

But, one thing is abundantly clear. I love food, and am super content talking about it, writing about it, watching tv shows about it...and obviously making it. So, as I focus on those "seeds" I have found that as I mention to people my love of food, as well as nutrition, that something interesting is happening.

Just last week I had a lovely email from a long time friend of mine with ridiculously spectacular news that I am not at this time at liberty to discuss. But, rest assured. It's huge. And totally food related.

And, a medical professional I've been working with has suggested a collaboration of sorts involving my helping clients with diet restriction options (such as gluten free, dairy free etc.) This could lead to even larger possibilities that even I had not thought of.

I am looking into going back to get my masters in Dietetics/nutrition. On one hand I'm very excited about this because I do love to learn. But, on the other hand, there's studying. And that whole part about going back to college.

I've been writing a column about food for Talk of the Town for a few months now and love it.

And, hey, just for kicks I have an invention I'm trying to get patented, and some adorable little bookmarks that I plan to launch on etsy soon. Those are my seeds. Grow little seeds, grow!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sugar Mohawk

It's ironic that the box of goodies I ordered from the etsy shop "Sugar Mohawk" came the week I decided to give up sugar.

Actually, I ordered it well before my sugar elimination strategy was laid out, on August 6th. But, she took awhile to ship it, and then when a box arrived on the 19th, it was the wrong order. I had ordered some bizarre items like chocolate covered cotton candy/peanut butter cups, and cinnamon coconut s'mores, but what was inside this box was lemon pound cake and lemon bars. Booorrrring. I could make those at home.

So, I promptly started a "convo" with ms. sugarmohawk on etsy and she quickly solved that issue. Promising overnight shipping and a $20 credit for future orders. However, the new order didn't arrive until today, August 26th. I gave up sugar on Friday. Either the gods don't really want me to give up sugar, or I've really pissed someone off. It was obviously not shipped overnight, and alas, no $20 credit in my package.

I opened the box, and everything was nicely packaged in clear cellophane bags with yellow stars on them. The bag of chocolate covered cotton candy cups had broken open, causing sugar to be all over the box. Ya see, cuz chocolate + cotton candy + peanut butter wasn't enough. She had to sprinkle sugar all over it too. Makes total sense to me.
I sliced one of those babies in half, and noticed the cute pink, not even remotely fluffy, cotton candy that was in the top layer, and a thin layer of PB in the bottom. One bite of this and two things came to mind 1.) this isn't natural, and 2.) this isn't real chocolate. Okay, and probably one more thing popped in there a little too late...you probably shouldn't have ordered these. They were not my thing, to be super nice about it. Which surprises me, because I am all about trying new things. The joke in my house is that if it says "new" on the label, I buy it. I'm just a wild and crazy gal, I guess.

After eating those, I was a little bit afraid of tasting the rest, but the crazy runs deep. I took a bite of the one I was most excited about: two almond cinnamon thins, with red velvet cake sandwiched in between, all dipped in "chocolate". I loved it. Really, I did. The cookies had gotten soft, which was to be expected, but it didn't really affect the overall taste.

I ate one of those, and then tasted the s'mores. These were described on sugarmohawk's etsy shop as: "imagine a fresh crispy cinnamon&sugar sprinkled graham...chops&chops of sweeeet IMPORTED Belgian Vanilla Cocoa Brick plopped with Fresh Coconut Marshmallows....placed in the DEEP WOOD BURN ROASTER and thennnnn.out dons a GORGEOUS SWEEET CAMPFIRE MUNCHER!(use sweet Local cut maple wood)"
They didn't taste bad, but really they tasted like any s'more I could make at home. I couldn't really taste the coconut, and a real campfire makes the best roasted marshmallows, hands down.

The one thing that I don't understand. Maybe it's just her shtick, but this person is fond of extra letters in her words. As you can see from the above s'more description. It was kind of annoying, and almost deterred me from ordering from her. But, seriously her creations are definitely uuuuunnnnique. So, more power to her!
Now, back to my regularly scheduled, boring, sugarless life...
UPDATE: Those little boogers are addictive, yo! Dammmmnnnn. Even the cotton candy pb cups were tastier when I went back for a second bite. My kids like them too. I suggest you check out her shop on etsy and at least give it a shot. There are seriously insane items for sale there. Heck, I may just go back in a few months to try these.....

*all photos, sugarmohawk

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

spacey and that's not a good thing.

so, apparently blogger likes to just randomly add space wherever it feels like. so, in the following post about the krabby patty cake, you'll see ginourmous amounts of space. Don't blame me, it didn't look like that when I previewed it. I swear.

A Krusty Krab Birthday party!

Dude. Why does time have to go so quickly!? Not only did my BABY just turn a whopping 4 (!) but that happened 4 weeks ago and I'm just now getting the blog up about his awesome party.

First I need to explain the history of my kids and their birthday cake choices. The first birthdays were always picked by me for obvious reasons, but as soon as they developed a personality and interests, it was clear what each one wanted. Unfortunately they often wanted the same thing, and sorry, as much as I love them, I just couldn't do that. Where's the creativity in making the same old cake over and over. Luckily it hasn't been too much trouble, until this last birthday. Jacob wanted a spongebob cake. But, I had already done a square yellow cake for Joshua, so I had to think outside the box, er, bun.

So, a giant hamburger patty, aka Krabby Patty, cake was invented.

After a quick trip to googleville, I discovered that I was clearly not original in this whole Huge hamburger as cake idea. Multiple sites were dedicated to their attempts at this feat. Many of them impressed me. Some of them just frightened me, but all of them were helpful in guiding my final choices.

I made a trip to Country Kitchen, our local candy supply store, and purchased my first ever fondant. I opted for the pre-colored stuff to make my life easier, but I'd be willing to try it from scratch next time. I bought primary colors since I'd be needing red for tomatoes, green for lettuce and orange (red and yellow) for cheese. the blue just got thrown out. My apologies to the fondant police.

One of the sites used a brownie for the burger portion of the cake. I thought this was genius, and a very clever way to get as much sugar as possible into this fast food fakery. So, I baked two white cakes and one brownie. I filled one cake pan up higher, to achieve more of a bun look.

I started mixing the yellow fondant with a tiny bit of red fondant. I'm glad I started with a tiny bit of red, because it didn't take much to turn all the yellow I had a nice shade of fake cheese orange. It works a lot like playdoh and was fun to use.

I layed it out on waxed paper and sprayed it with cooking spray, based on recommendations I found online to keep the fondant from drying out.

After I rolled the ball of fondant out flat, I simply cut it into the shape of a piece of american cheese.

I repeated this step until I had 3 slices,

One perfect slice.

The tomatoes were fun to do. Obviously rolling
them into a round circle was key, but one tip I found online was to square off the edges to make them look more like real tomatoes. I just used the blade of a knife and ran it around the edge of the circle. Then, used a toothpick to make the little indents on top for effect.

The lettuce was my favorite part. I used straight green for this, but if I were to do it again, I'd mix some white into, or maybe a little yellow. It was almost too dark green. To get it to look wrinkled like actual lettuce, I took more advice from the trusty ol' internets, and balled up my saran wrap first before pressing the ball out thin with my hand, then wrapped the saran wrap all the way around, making sure to keep it wrinkled. When I pulled the wrap off, it left all the lines, making it look very authentic.

Layering the cakes with a buttercream "mayo", and the cheese. I picked the edges off the brownie to make it look more hamburgery too. And it really did look like actual meat. Kind of creepy.

Added the lettuce and tomatoes....

I placed pine nuts on top to look like sesame seeds. Some sites used sliced almonds, but I thought these would look best.

Also, most of, if not all, the sites I looked at left their buns unfrosted. I opted to frost mine. Too much sugar is not an option on birthdays.

The final product.
I'm not sure you can see them, but the candles on top are spongebob themed, with cute little pineapples, and underwater flowers, and spongebob himself. Not too over the top. I then piped his name with a bright red buttercream to look like ketchup on top. The fries were made of sugar cookies, and drizzled with more "ketchup."
I printed the red and white paper from my computer to cover the cake board.

And, most importantly, the birthday boy LOVED it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Gluten free is for (bread) lovers

I'm always up for a challenge, and when a fellow columnist on Talk of the Town suggested I offer up tips on how to eat gluten free when you're a bread lover, I gladly accepted.

Now, believe me, you can google this topic 'til your eyes bleed, and I have. So, I think I'll approach this with my own personal account of the week I began my gluten free eating versus getting all technical about gluten and its potential adverse effects on certain people.

I began eating gluten free because I was following a candida diet, not because I was having any typical celiac or gluten intolerance symptoms. But, this diet required me to cut out wheat (gluten), sugar, dairy, vinegar, fruit and mushrooms among other things. "What's left?" you ask. I wondered the same thing! You'd be surprised!

After following this diet for one week, I added wheat back in, for no other logical reason than because I'm not that bright, and knew immediately that the reaction I was having was a great indication that gluten was an issue for me to address. So, I kept up with the gluten free eating.

As a huge bread/cracker/baked goods fanatic, I didn't quite know what to do with myself at first. I started out eating gluten free grains instead of bread products. Quinoa...brown rice...etc. But, eventually I needed bread. Real. Bread. Buns, sliced loaves, croutons for salads, anyway I could get it. I stopped at the local health food store and found that gluten free products have taken over the world. Anything that was formerly laden with gluten, can now be found gluten free.

My personal favorite is the Sami's Bakery Millet and Flax line of breads. I found hamburger buns, hot dog buns, wraps, and of course sliced bread. It is quite pricey, at over $5 per loaf, so I try to ration it.

One of my favorite ways to use the bread is to cut it into cubes, and toss it into a pan with melted butter (or ghee if you're dairy free) and some seasonings. Garlic powder, Italian seasonings, cracked pepper and salt seem to be best for my taste, but you could do whatever you want. Once the butter and seasonings are well mixed with the bread cubes, place them on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, more or less, depending on how done you want your croutons. Add to any salad and let the crunchy goodness begin.

I do not have a bread machine, and the experience I have had with making breads in my oven has not resulted in anything worth trying again, so if you're looking for that piping hot, fresh from the oven gluten free bread....let me know when you find it! But, seriously, there is a plethora of gluten free resources available, and recipes are getting better and better each day.

Now that gluten is proving to be the culprit in weight gain, gas, achy joints, depression, cramps, headaches, eczema, and other deficiencies, it's no wonder people are starting to think outside the bun...literally.

Good luck on your gluten free adventure. You may just find you like it better!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Half Baked

There's lots going on these days, and I have at least 4 blog posts in the wings ready to be posted, but in the meantime, check out this site. www.talkofthetownwc.com.

I have a guest column where I write about, what else, food! Much of what I talk about there revolves around baking, and eating, and gluten free living. Until I can get around to posting my new blogs about Krabby Patty hamburger cakes, williams sonoma cooking classes, and gluten free bread alternatives, feel free to mosey around my column.



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Communication overload

Seriously. What is going on with technology? I started a blog a year or so ago, and at first was doing great at posting something every single day. Then, a few months back I joined Facebook, and my posts here dropped significantly. On top of that, I now have a Twitter account! I didn't know I had that many words, let alone the notion that anyone would even care to read them!

I'm going to attempt to figure out how to balance all of those so that I'm more consistently communicating about the business. If anyone has tips on that....send em my way. You can find me on twitter....facebook....here....email....phone. you get the idea.