An Early Gluten Free Thanksgiving

Last night my friends hosted an early Thanksgiving.  They normally go to Austria for Thanksgiving holiday and celebrate  it the week before.   My friend’s husband was diagnosed with a gluten allergy last year and is still being tested for Celiac disease.  They have transitioned to gluten free living pretty easily, but he has been missing bread.  We also wanted to make sure we could have all the traditional dishes for Thanksgiving, that were safe for him.   My friend is a wonderful cook, but does not think of herself as a baker, so I wanted to test out the recipes before we did it together. 

So a couple of weeks ago I started practicing for Gluten Free Thanksgiving.  I made a loaf of bread using the local Turkish gluten free flour mix.  Thankfully the flour mix also includes xanthan gum.  The bread turned out really well, it was a little eggier than regular bread, but tasted great.  It was also fairly easy to make, I found this recipe to be one of the simplest and was very pleased with it.


My friend and I got together on Wednesday to bake bread for stuffing.  As it had the time before, the bread came out nicely.  While we were baking she asked me to bake the pies for Thanksgiving as well.  I took on the challenge of the GF pies.  However, I have to say, it turned out to be much more difficult than the bread. 

I have been making pie crust from scratch for years, but really had trouble with this.  Perhaps it was the flour.  Many of the gluten free websites specify a mix of certain types of flours, but I only had one option available in the store.  Whatever it was, it was not working.  I could not roll it out.  Different recipes said rather than to roll out the dough, to extrude it, by rolling it between wax paper.  that worked well enough but then I couldn’t get the dough off the wax paper.  It was SOO sticky.   I finally pressed the flour into the pie pan itself, for the pumpkin pie.  I had been planning on making an apple pie as well, but since I could not roll out the dough, I decided on making an apple tart.  I “extruded” the dough using baking paper and managed to scrape it off one of the papers using a sharp knife.  Woot Woot!  Step 1 completed!

Then, using the gluten free base, I followed the recipe from Smitten Kitchen for Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel.  It came out really well.  I loved the salted caramel with the apples.  I think I will try it with the puff pastry base suggested in the recipe next time. 

We brought both with us last night, and had a delicious and traditional gluten free Thanksgiving.  As always, my friends cooked a beautiful meal, and the company was great!  We had such a lovely time.  This year I am not hosting Thanksgiving, much to Bülent’s relief, but I am very lucky to have such wonderful friends.  I was invited to 3 Thanksgivings this year, unfortunately 2 of them are are at the same time.  We so enjoyed Gluten Free Thanksgiving  last night, and are looking forward to celebrating with a different group of friends next week.

Allergic Catastrophe

Oh Thanksgiving!  We celebrated it on Saturday because in Turkey we don’t get the day off. (It is an American holiday after all.) We had a fantastic holiday except for the fact I thought I was going to pass out from pain starting at 4 am Saturday morning.  It was extremely fortuitous that I had prepared the majority of the food before Saturday because otherwise I would have had to cancel.  Cooking a large dinner for 16 people while you are fighting the urge to throw up from the pain is less than ideal.

In case I have not mentioned it before, I am allergic to walnuts and hazelnuts.  My reactions have become stronger and more severe since I moved to Turkey and have had more accidental ingestions.  Allergies are not understood the same way here as they are in the US because people here rarely have allergies.

For example, last year someone in my husband’s family, at whose home we had eaten very regularly, cooked with hazelnut oil in the food for six months.  They knew I was allergic and would even make me special desserts when the recipes called for hazelnut or walnuts.  I was incredibly ill for those six months and had to be hospitalized.  I thought my IBS had transformed into colitis.  I only found out my nut allergy triggers colitis when I saw them use the oil from a labeled can and they admitted they had been cooking with the oil since I moved to the country.  It turned out I do not have a chronic illness, and as soon as the oil was out of my system, I was absolutely fine.

Friday night, I was at a banquet dinner for work and apparently they used nut oil in one of the sauces.  Cue incredible gastro-intestinal pain.  It started Saturday and continued into Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and subsided Wednesday evening.  Whew!   Yesterday I was able to discontinue the exclusive kefir and low-fat yogurt diet and eat some rice.

While I feel lucky that my allergic reaction is not life threatening, it does affect my quality of life, as I was ill and miserable for at least five days.  After the original illness it does take another few days for my system to go back to normal.  It has been a full week as of today and I am fine as long as I eat lightly, and only low fat, easy to digest food.

I am pretty vigilant about food when I eat out and cannot control the ingredients myself.  I have not actually had an accidental exposure to nuts since the original incident one a year ago.  As a saftey precaution I do not think I will be attending large banquet dinners where I cannot control my food choices or talk to the chef about ingredients.

I do always try to look at the positive side of things.  While the whole situation was horrific it has provided me with a perfect excuse to avoid work dinners!

I Saw Jesus In Greece

I really did.   Several times.  In the hospital.  I have never been in the hospital for myself before, never broke a bone or needed stitches or even urgent care.  I chose to break this streak on my parents vacation visiting Turkey and Greece.  Did I do this in Turkey where I had been living for five months and where it would be inexpensive?  NO!

After my parents met Bülent’s parents and stayed in Marmaris for a few days, it was off to the Greek Island of Santorini with a daytrip in Rodos on the way.  I had gotten a stomachache on Wednesday.  It was unpleasant but I thought nothing of it.  (TMI Warning)  I have a gastro-intestinal issue commonly known as IBS.  (Or–You did something horrible in a past life and now have to pay!) Stomachaches are part of the package of eating anything but yogurt, bread and water.  So I got this stomachache on Wednesday and every night honestly believed it would be gone by the next day.  So on Saturday, when we are touring yet another beautiful historical sight, I begged my parents to go on without me.  Because by this time I could not walk without to cry.  I thought I might need an exorcism to kill the demons that had taken up residence in my intestines.

While we waited for the night ferry to Santorini, instead of touring the Old City of Rodos, we had a lovely excursion to a Greek hospital, which is where I saw Jesus.  In every room.  There was a painting high up on the wall which varied between different themes.  I was glad to see him becuase I thought I might need some prayer after looking at the prices in Euros.  Do you know what the dollar is against the Euro.  If you don’t, please don’t look it up.  It is too depressing.  Unless you are not American and your currency is worth more than toilet paper.  Anyway.  I got a diagnosis (IBS—Shocking!) and some stomach meds and we went on our way.  That is, Bülent and the family went out to dinner, while I rocked in fetal position in the car.  Thankfully the medications helped and I now am absolved of any sins I might have committed in a past life.

I did get to see Old City of Rodos later, because Bülent and I had to go home to Marmaris by way of Rodos on the ferry and it was lovely.

TR Family Vacay 400