Tag Archives: catering

Gluten-Free and Me

28 Jan


For a person like me, who has been baking most of her life, learning to bake gluten-free has been an interesting adventure.  As far as I know, I am not affected by gluten, but it seems every week I am finding that more and more of my friends/clients are either gluten-intolerant or have been diagnosed with celiac disease.  Initially, that presented a dilemma for me, because I still wanted to create lovely food for my friends and clients.  And I can… but I just needed to learn how to do that without using my old “mainstay”, namely wheat.

The hardest part of this process was discovering that wheat is hidden in so many different foods.  This meant that I had to read ingredient labels very carefully.  Some of the ingredients that likely contain wheat are obvious – bread crumbs, pasta, couscous, tabouli, hydrolyzed wheat protein.  Then there are the foods that you might not suspect contain wheat – malt vinegar, soy sauce, beer, brewer’s yeast, and even Red Vines licorice!    Who knew?   Well, most gluten-free consumers do… because they have learned to read labels and to look up the ingredients that might not be easily identifiable such as Dinkle, Chilton, edible starch, kamut, and Farro.  

My neighbor, Deb, has been gluten-free for a while now and she has been a great source of information for me.  She has also been happy to taste the gluten-free dishes that I come up with and will offer suggestions of other dishes that I might want to try.   Sometimes she is at an event that I have catered, and she is the one “selling” my goods because she knows which ones are “safe” to eat.  It seems that many times the guests who have issues with gluten are surprised that someone made an effort to provide food for them.   I just know that if some of my guests can’t eat any of my offerings, then I haven’t really “catered” to them.

Yesterday I helped a friend with an event and made about 10 dozen gluten-free peanut butter cookies for the dessert table.  As we were arranging the platters of sweets two guests thanked me for making something that was gluten-free.   It was such a simple thing to do… and I was glad to be able to provide something that everyone could eat.

Recently my friend’s son was diagnosed with celiac disease and in an effort to show him support, my friend has decided to eliminate gluten from his diet as well.  How sweet is that?  It reminds me of the story from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  Shauna, the gluten-free girl, has celiac.  Shauna met and then married Danny, a chef.  Soon after, Danny decided to make his restaurant gluten-free so that he could create a place where his wife could eat anything on the menu.  Isn’t that amazing?

Tomorrow is my friend’s birthday, and so tonight I made him a chocolate cream pie that is safe for his son to eat.  The crust is made with those same peanut butter cookies – crushed in the Cuisinart, mixed with a tiny bit of butter, pressed into a pie tin and baked for 10 minutes.  This recipe for chocolate pie filling usually calls for flour, but I simply substituted cornstarch and that’s all that I had to do to make his pie gluten-free.  It was the least I could do for a friend.

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.”

~ Cesar Chavez

For a list of foods containing gluten, go to this website,  www.celiac.com , and search for the forbidden food list.  It was created by a man named Scott Adams who was diagnosed with celiac nearly twenty years ago.  He created this list so that others wouldn’t suffer needlessly.

Day 278: Dietary Dave

9 Jan

Chocolate Cream Pie

Several years ago my husband and I were asked by Ashland Community Hospital (ACH)   to help them change the way that they delivered  food to their patients.  It was part of the administration’s goal to move to more patient-centered care, one aspect of which is giving patients choices in what and when they eat.   We worked with the staff to create a menu that offered healthy meal choices and was also  practical.

During that time, we had the opportunity to work closely with Dave – who is known as Dietary Dave around the halls of ACH.  Dave has worked in the kitchen at the hospital for a long time, holding various titles.  Currently, he manages the catering for all of the meetings at the hospital in addition to filling in wherever he is needed in the kitchen.

Dave brings more  to the hospital than his cooking skills, and that is his ability to work well with people.  Dave always has a ready smile and is quick to make a joke.  In an environment as charged as a hospital can be at times, Dave provides comic relief.  That is a very valuable gift.

Since I have spent time working with Dave I knew he would love a Chocolate Cream Pie… and the chocolate covered coffee beans on top were just a bonus.  It is my way of thanking Dave for his support when we worked together, and for the positive attitude that he brings to work each and every day.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  ~Winston Churchill

Day 134: Kathryn

18 Aug

Kathryn enjoying her pie
For the last few years I have been catering a variety of affairs including luncheons, memorial services, birthdays, and of course, weddings. I love to make yummy food (which you might have figured out by now) and also like to help people with their events. But to do this job right, I need the help of special people – and Kathryn is one of them.

She has been such a great person to work with. She is calm in the face of chaos (which can happen despite the best laid plans), helpful to and considerate of the guests, and fun to have around. And she raves about my cooking – and that is definitely appreciated!

I got to know Kathryn because she and and my son have been friends for years. In fact, they just completed their senior year of high school and they were co-presidents of the student body. They said that they planned on doing this since they were freshman and, by golly, they succeeded. They both put a lot of time and effort into their roles and took their positions seriously while also adding a bit of levity. We couldn’t have been prouder of their achievements.

Kathryn and Coco, aka, Mrs. Claus and Santa

Tomorrow Kathryn heads off to college. We knew this day was coming – and we are very excited that she will be pursuing her goals – but that doesn’t mean that we won’t miss her! Today I asked Kathryn’s Mom if it would be okay if I made a pie for their last dinner together for a while – and she said yes. Late in the afternoon, Kathryn stopped by where I was working to say goodbye and I was able to surprise her with a double crusted apple pie. We all wish her the very best and look forward to hearing about her adventures!

Kathryn’s friend Ian sure seems to like his pie!

Day 108: Being a friend

23 Jul

It was a hectic, crazy day for me.  There was still a lot of prep work to do for the wedding that I was catering and yet I definitely wanted to be sure to make a pie.  This is such an important part of the day for me – sort of like a meditation.  It begins with taking the pie dough from the fridge and then considering the possibilities in my pantry and the myriad of pie recipients in the world.

Today, my mind was centered on a friend who was feeling sad because it was the anniversary of her father’s passing.  Her family has had a lot to deal with in this past year and that has not made it any easier.  Losing someone dear to us is difficult enough without the complications of family issues.  Today I made her a quiche with chicken sausages, swiss cheese,  and red bell peppers.  I wanted to let her know that I am here for her and that she does not have to be alone with her sadness.

This morning I called my friend and asked her if she could stop by for a moment.  I had too much yet to do to make a special delivery and so I told her I needed her help.  When she asked why, I explained my predicament – and told her about the quiche that I had made for her.  Her response, “You didn’t have to do that!” Yes, I know, but that’s what makes this project so great – I don’t have to do it at all.  I want to – and that makes all the difference.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
Albert Einstein