Biopsy time

I’ve been mulling this post over in my head for weeks. How to approach it. How I feel about it. What words to put to it.

Tomorrow, after a 10 plus year odyssey of gluten free and not, I’m finally having a biopsy done to see whether I have celiac disease.

I finally convinced my primary care physician a few months ago to send me for genetic testing. Why they’d be willing to pay for genetic testing but not a biopsy is beyond me. So off I went. I won’t say that the genetic counselor was incredibly helpful, but I had to get her approval to get tested for the genes associated with celiac.

Lo and behold, I carry the DQ8 gene (though they couldn’t tell me if I had one copy or two). This is the rarer of the two genes associated with celiac disease, but one that is also associated with type I diabetes. Fits into my family tree quite nicely (my dad is a diagnosed celiac and I have a first cousin on his side with type I diabetes).

With that information in hand, I was finally able to get approved for a biopsy. And I can’t tell you that it hasn’t come at a better time. Eating gluten for a year and a half now has been WONDERFUL. It just makes life easier. But symptoms have returned, and they aren’t pleasant. Today I don’t have the wonder of why I feel like I’m being choked from the inside. I know it’s severe acid reflux that medication won’t touch. And while my stomach hasn’t returned to what it used to be over 10 years ago, things are still not normal. And it’s annoying. I don’t want to live my life feeling this way. But I also don’t want to wonder what’s wrong with me.

So tomorrow at 9:40 am, I’ll get general anesthesia for the fifth time in my life. And hopefully soon I’ll know if I really do have celiac disease. What that diagnosis could mean for me is something I’m still thinking about.

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Peach Salsa

I went a salsa canning kick earlier this week. Unlike the 10 lbs of tomatoes I bought 2 weeks ago for $2.50, these 10 lbs (this time for $5) actually got almost all used BEFORE I had to cut off large chunks due to stupid fungus.

I’m going to make these recipes VERY bare bones. If you know how to can, these are all canning safe recipes. If you like fresh salsa, these all work fresh. If you’d like to learn to can, I suggest reading something like this pdf from the University of Wisconsin Extension office. Canning is doable, with patience and the right equipment, but you really need to be prepared. I don’t want anyone blaming me for a case of botulism because they tried canning these recipes and didn’t know what they were doing.

There are three recipes. I’ll post them in order of what I liked best. I also halved all the original recipes, as I wanted variety more than volume. If we weren’t leaving Tuesday, I’d contemplate getting more tomatoes to make of the first of these two salsas.

Peach Apple Salsa
This recipe is also from that pdf I linked above. It’s *almost* like Trader Joe’s peach salsa, which is by far my favorite store bought salsa.

1. You’ll want to make sure your apples and peaches don’t brown. You want to end up with
5 c peeled diced unripe peaches
1 c chopped granny smith apple
Into 8 cups of water, add 1500 mg of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). If you don’t have vitamin C tablets like I don’t, you might be able to find this in pure powder form at your local health foods store (Willy St Coop had it). In that case you’ll use about 1/2 tsp of the powder to the 8 cups of water. Wash and peel your apple(s) (1 large) and peaches (4 for me). Chop them in half and add to the vitamin C water. Soak for 10 minutes.

2. Combine in a large pan:
3 cups of peeled diced tomatoes (they suggest roma, that isn’t what I had)
1.25 c diced yellow onion
1 c chopped green bell pepper
2T pickling spice (tie into a reusable tea bag, mesh bag, cheese clothe, whatever works for you)
1.5t canning salt
2 t crushed red pepper flakes
1.875 c (so 1.5 c + 1/4 c + 1/8 c) packed light brown sugar
1 1/8 c cider vinegar (must be 5%)
5 c peeled diced unripe peaches (from step 1)
1 c chopped granny smith apple (from step 1)

3. Bring to a boil, stirring, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove spice bag.

5. At this point it is edible. But if you want to can it:
you’ll need to put the solids in first to 1.25 inch headspace, then stop with cooking liquid to 1/2 headspace. Do your canning clean up and process cans for 15 minutes at sea level.

If you really want to can this, and want all the more nitty gritty directions, read the pdf link. Seriously. But if you have experience canning, I don’t imagine this will be difficult at all for you. It’s quite tasty.

Chicken/pork rub

Oh look, two recipes in one day! (you might even see a third if I am up for it)

This recipe is by far the one I’ve used the most in the past two weeks. I got the base somewhere off allrecipes and then mangled it to be ours. And honestly, I haven’t made it the same way twice. Every time I use it, I change something. Every version has been stellar. All the spices here are dried.

Chicken/Pork rub
Combine in a small bowl:
1/8-1/4 c brown sugar (the original was 1/4, 1/8 works too, more is better if you have more meat)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil

Mash around with a fork and then rub onto your meat of choice. Cook as desired.

More specifically how I’ve used it:
-Two large pork steaks, slathered on both sides, cooked under the broiler for 7 min a side (a bit too long in our opinion)
-4 chicken quarters, baked at 350-400F for 45 or so minutes, until the chicken was done, or with 6 quarters.
-I’ve also put rosemary in. And sage. I forget the cayenne last time. You could do the garlic and salt separate. The original had 1.5 tsp of basil.
Etc.

My mom’s tomato sauce

I discovered the cookbook section of the university library that is across from my building on campus. This could be bad. Really bad. Or really tasty.

This recipe is truly my mom’s recipe, and her mom’s recipe. I did not grow up eating tomato sauce from a jar. While my mom always used canned whole tomatoes, the sauce was always made by her. You can certainly use canned tomatoes in this recipe, or fresh as I’ve attempted to detail below. If you find the sauce too thin, or not tomato-y enough after cooking down, I suggest adding tomato paste until you get it to how you like it.

My mom’s tomato sauce
1. In a medium soup/stock pot combine:
-About a half a pot worth of roughly chopped tomatoes (roughly 3 28oz cans), mine looks like about 6 cups, I’ve honestly never measured.
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp oregano
-1 Tbsp sugar

2. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmering. Simmer for 1-2 hours.
3. Put through a food mill to get out all of the skin and seeds.
4. If you still aren’t satisfied with the thickness of the sauce, continue to cook it down some more.
5. If the taste isn’t quite there for you, add some more of what you think it needs, and simmer just a bit more.
6. This sauce can certainly be used fresh. It also freezes well. Unless you REALLY know what you are doing, I don’t suggest canning this recipe, as I have no clue if the acidity level meets any of the guidelines for canning.

In hindsight, this recipe works much better as a conversation than a list of instructions. There are so many variables here. Have fewer tomatoes? More? It will still work, you just need to adjust. Really like other spices in your sauce? Have at it. Prefer it sweeter? Etc. This sauce is VERY easy to modify.

Cherry Ice Pops

This is the second time I’ve made these cherry ice pops. I’ve upped the sugar and the vanilla and I like them even more this go around than the first. If I’m not careful, I’ll eat the rest of these tonight. I’ve already had 2. And this last batch only made 4. Who knew I could down a cup of cherries in one day?

Cherry Ice Pops
In a blender or food processor combine:
2 cups pitted cherries
2-4 T sugar (I used 3 this last time and it was perfect for me)
2 t lemon juice
2-4 t vanilla extract (I wanted to use 4, but I got distracted, so I might have used 3)

Blend/process.
Pour/spoon into ice pop molds.
I bought these ice pop molds a few months ago and they are turning out to be my favorite.

Yellow gluten free cake in a cup

If something here doesn’t make sense, please ask. I’m tired. But for whatever reason, resisting going to bed. There weren’t too many versions of this online that actually looked good that I’m not going to link to any of them. But I did have an ‘ah ha’ moment when I remembered this post from Gluten Free Gobsmacked the other day. Ratios. I’m not crazy keen on the idea of baking my ratios. I’m sure it works better. I’ve got other things that are more important to me. And sifting and weighing my flours does not fall on that list. So I modded her recipe the best I could, basing it on what I’d see in some gluten-containing cake in cup recipes, and came up with the below. This was much better than my first attempt which is currently sitting in the melted garbage bag in the trash can (yes, I super cooked it so much {it didn’t look like it was cooking right?!?} that five min after taking it out of the microwave, it was still bubbling hot and melted the garbage bag when I put it in the trash, oh well). I may have overcooked this a bit, so be careful of the cooking times. But the taste was good and it’s all gone. I liked this much better than the chocolate cake in a cup that I made a while back. So much for low carb.

Gluten free yellow cake in a cup
1. Melt 4 T of butter in a large mug.
2. Add 4 T sugar and mix well.
3. Add one large egg and whisk as best you can with a fork.
4. Add 1/2 t vanilla.
5. Add the following flours, one or so at a time:
1 T potato starch
1 T brown rice flour
2 T sweet rice flour
2 T white rice flour
Mix well between each addition.
6. Add 1/8 t baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix well.
7. Microwave in bursts, assessing how done your cake is between each. Each microwave cooks different, and I’m sure the mug you use will also affect timing. Mine was something like 45 seconds, 45s, 25s. I do wish after the first microwaving that I’d added chocolate chips in (not at the start, because they’ll just all sink). But I forgot. So after I turned the cake out into a bowl I just sprinkled on chocolate chips. Either way, it’s all gone now and I’m feeling guilty for the amount of refined carbs I just ate.

recipes in the works, and green beans

I’ve made a few things recently that I want to post, but I don’t want to post them until I’ve actually eaten them. I made maraschino cherries the other night. But they need to soak for two weeks, ideally. I might hold out to next week and then see how they taste. I also made dill pickles out of cucumbers from my own garden. But those also need two weeks. And just now I made some orange cream ice pops. But those will need to freeze over night. So hopefully soon I’ll have some new exciting recipes for you. In the mean time, green beans are in season. Here’s what I made with a few handfuls tonight for dinner.

Easy green beans
1. Put a pot of water on to boil with enough room to fit your green beans in.
2. While the water is heating up, rinse and cut the ends off your green beans. If you’ve got a newer cultivar (and if you don’t know, you likely do have a newer cultivar), you shouldn’t have to destring them. If you’ve got an older cultivar, you might need to destring them.
3. When the water is boiling, drop the green beans into the water and blanch for 6ish minutes. More or less depending on how cooked or crunchy you like your green beans.
4. While the green beans are cooking, chop up one to two cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of fresh dill. Mince them together.
5. When the beans are done, remove them either with a slotted spoon or use a colander.
6. In a bowl combine the hot beans, one to two tablespoons of butter, your garlic/dill mince, and a few shakes of salt. Mix well and serve.