“I’m Shauna,” I say, as I extend my hand to shake someone else’s. And every time, I remember what I had forgotten, and I laugh. “Oh, I suppose you already know that.”
Weird and wonderful, this world of mine right now. My days are imbued with the joy of meeting people, people who read this little site and feel they know me. And you do know me, to an extent. (I don’t feel right blithely sending out imprecations here nearly as much as I do in real life.) After all, I have shared my celiac diagnosis, my discoveries of interesting grains, my sprained ankle, my love of Jamie Oliver, my courtship with the Chef (including the first post, the day I asked him to move in, the engagement announcement, our wedding photos, and some of the stories from our honeymoon), and my heartfelt and tender moments, for over two years. And now, some of you who have been reading here have also read my book, the book I wanted to create all my life.
You have my heart.
But until you meet me, you don’t know how I smell (the Chef says Shauna smell is a little like hash browns, actually). You haven’t heard my laugh, and that’s a side-splitter with a little splutter at the end. And almost everyone who meets me is surprised by the sound of my voice — much deeper than you might imagine from reading my sweet mysteries here.
I have loved meeting people, so far. So has the Chef. (It cracks him up when people look at him with wide eyes and say, “Oh, you are real!” People, I didn’t cut his picture out of a Kmart catalogue and paste him into every empty photograph with me. I promise you, he’s real. And once you meet him, you can call him by his real name.) Who could have ever predicted that these would be our lives?
Last night, we met so many lovely people at the LaSpiga event. Anne and Todd could have stood with us for hours, and we would have been happy talking about traveling and how to adapt as a couple if one person has a food restriction. Monica cracked me up when she leaned across the table and said, “Oh my god, I have to tell you, I’m a little obsessed with you two.” (Don’t worry. She’s cool.) Laura, the first one there, seemed especially happy to meet me: “”I’ve never met another person with celiac.”
And that, I feel in waves, is the happiest part of these events — the sense of community. At one point, as I was signing books, I looked over to see two big tables filled with people, talking. Nowhere else can we gather and talk about the state of our intestines and how to eat in restaurants without getting gluten. There’s a sense of commonality here that breaks down the walls of politeness that prevent us from really talking. Tea later told me that she wanted to get up for more food, but the table chat enveloped her entirely. She didn’t move.
And oh, the food. I only had one bite of the poached veal with tuna sauce (clearly, me having a full meal at one of these events is not going to happen). And it haunts me. A few days before the event, the Chef and I went into the La Spiga kitchen and walked through with the beautiful Sabrina, the head chef and co-owner. She listened intently as I showed her a few ways that they could prevent cross—contamination from the choices that they made. Everyone who ate there last night left feeling gloriously well.
And now, you have another place where you can eat gluten-free in Seattle. (I hear they might be working on a gluten-free chestnut pasta, handmade, as well.)
Thank you, everyone who came out last night, to meet us. And really, just to meet each other. We adore these moments, strange and surreal as they are.
I adore these moments of meeting people because I have not really understood that anyone is reading before these past few weeks. Oh, I read all your comments, and I cherish them. (You have no idea how your words inform my days.) I can spend more time on my site meter than is humanly decent some days, but those are still just words and numbers. For me, this website is the laptop propped up on my knees, the light fading outside, the cool air rushing through my window, and the sound of my fingers clicking on the keyboard. I can never experience what you are experiencing right now — reading my words new, and imagining. You could be sitting in a classroom in Michigan, on a break between teaching classes. You could be in your office in New York, trying to avoid rush hour. You could be in a cabin on West Vancouver Island, late at night, poring over my words.
I will never get over the astonishment.
I remember the feeling, distinctly, of taking down a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn from a library shelf. At eight years old, I barely knew myself. But when I read the thoughts of Francie Nolan, my heart shuddered, a little. She understood. That feeling of connection still reverberates through me when I pick up a book and read someone else’s story.
I never had the chance to meet Francie Nolan or Jane Eyre or Antonia. But I love having the chance to meet you.
Blogs are beautiful, irrational objects. I still don’t even understand how the internet works. But because of this shimmering set of numbers and dashes, I can post this, and you will know it.
And because of the internet, I have dear friends who once were words on a screen. Now, they bring me chanterelles. Brandon picked them in the mountains, Molly gave them to Tea when they ate dinner, and then the Chef put them in the gluten-free pasta that we ate at nearly midnight. Dark and golden, a firm chew with kernels of sweet corn, softly sautéed chanterelles, and the last of the pasta we brought back from Italy. We all sat on the couch, late at night, silent except for the chewing. Tea couldn’t believe that we eat this way every day.
And when she left this afternoon, I stood on our little front porch, now covered in leaves that crunch and rustle, and took this photo for her. Autumn in Seattle, with chanterelles.
Astonished, I tell you. I’m constantly astonished.
Upcoming events in Seattle
So, if you’d like to hear my laugh in person, or give me the honor of letting me look you in the eye and shake your hand, here are some upcoming chances.
Wednesday, October 24th – 6 pm to 7:30 pm
At 6 pm, I’ll be at the Whole Foods on Westlake, giving a small talk, signing books, and maybe even making you laugh. I’m not the only attraction. There will be plenty of gluten-free foods on hand, as well as a gluten-free beer tasting!
And this one’s absolutely free.
Friday, October 26th – 6 to 9 pm
Friday night, and the work week is done. (Well, not for me, but for most normal folks.) Come celebrate at ChefShop.
Tim and Eliza have pulled out all the stops. Just look at this menu of memorable bites in a multi-course buffet dinner. (And they’re all based on the recipes the Chef and I worked up. I’m still shaking my head at this one, as well.)
* Pizzettes with Prosciutto, Fresh Mozzarella, and Artichoke Hearts
* Shaved Fennel with Lemon Juice and Sea Salt
* Cherry Tomatoes Stuffed with Black Rice Salad
* Tomato Corona Bean Salad
* Mixed Green Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette
* Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika and Cocoa Powder
* Macaroni and Cheese with Manchego
* Chicken Thighs braised in Pomegranate Molasses
* Lemon Olive Oil Cookies
* Chocolate Financiers
Those of you who longed to go to Italy after seeing our pictures? Wait until you see them projected onto a wall. (Really, the Italian tourist board should give me a cut!)
And this weekend, I’ll be driving down to Portland, singing as I go. (Sadly, the Chef cannot come with me, as his sous chef is on vacation. Next time.) I can’t wait to visit that little jewel of a town on the Columbia River. And I hope to be meeting many of you.
Sunday, October 28th
“Gluten-free is on the menu.
The food at Portland, Oregon’s Andina has a benefit for people who are avoiding wheat. Since Peruvian cuisine centers on maize and tubers, gluten-free options abound. (No matter what your diet, don’t miss the mango, passion-fruit, and prawn ceviche.)”
I’m so honored that this incredible restaurant would host me and support the book. And I’m especially happy with this choice because – as you might read soon – I write in the book that one of the joys of going gluten-free is that we can start to eat more of the world’s food. How many of you have eaten Peruvian cuisine before?
Who could resist food like this?
* Corderito De Los Andes, a generous portion of local farm-fresh rack of lamb in an intense reduction leaned against a hearty Peruvian yellow potato and cheese roll, served with salsa criolla
* Quinotto De Hongos de Montana, Grilled market fresh vegetables on a bed of creamy vegetarian quinoa and wild mushroom risotto laced with black truffle oil.
* Halibut al Rocoto Y Kion, Roasted halibut over a shiitake mushroom, smoked bacon, and bok choy broth, topped with slivers of ginger, rocoto, and scallion basted with smoking sesame oil, served with asparagus and quinoa fried rice.
The party is from 6 to 8 pm, with gluten-free appetizers, cocktails, and a signed copy of the book. Price is $55.
Please call Andina at 503.228.9535 to make reservations.
And hurry! You don’t want to miss this.
Monday, October 29th
I owe much of my eating life to Bob’s Red Mill.
Without the dozens of little bags of flour lining the shelves of our kitchen, I could never have created the dishes that I have. With those bags of Bob’s Red Mill, I have made teff polenta from whole grain teff, sorghum bread with sweet white sorghum flour, and blueberry muffins with amaranth flour. Here on the west coast, those little clear plastic bags are becoming ubiquitous on grocery store shelves.
Now, I have the distinct honor of doing a reading/talk/book signing at the Bob’s Red Mill store in Milwaukie, Oregon (just a little drive down from Portland). I will be at the Whole Grain Store from 11 to 3 pm. So come on down for a little lunch — they have a small cafe there as well — and some time to laugh with me. I can’t wait to see you there.
Tuesday, October 30th
On Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be signing books and partaking of gluten-free treats with the folks who show up at Piece of Cake Bakery.
Want some lemon pineapple ginger cake, gluten-free? This is the place!
Chicago — I’m coming to you soon.
I can’t wait to walk down the wind-whipped streets, smiling and holding out my hand to greet you.
There are plans afoot, for that first week in November. But if you live in Chicago, and you have ideas, let me know!
I have to tell you this, quite honestly. When I was a kid, reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and feeling like Francie Nolan might be the only person who would understand me, I had no idea how many people would come to fill my life.
Astonished, I tell you. Astonished.
Around here, Monday mornings are Sunday mornings.
Let me explain. Since the Chef works on Saturdays, prepping and cooking at the restaurant, I work on that day as well. The first day of our weekend is Sunday. But on most Sundays, we are out of the house fairly quickly. Other friends have that day off, and we meet them for bike rides and brunches, slow conversations and sipping cups of coffee. On Sunday, we are in synch with the rest of the weekend world.
Mondays? Those are ours. These days, we try not to leave the house on Mondays until late in the afternoon, not if we can help it. With our life at such a pace, we are breathing into the hours without obligations and finding each other’s hands at the end of the exhale. We lounge in bed, allow the music to waft over us, and read the paper with our toes touching under the covers. Sometimes, we don’t emerge from the warm cave for hours. And late in the morning — nudging toward noon — we start to make breakfast.
Yesterday was the perfect day for pancakes.
I’ve been working on a gluten-free pancake recipe for months, varying flours and nuzzling nutmeg with cinnamon, pouring buttermilk or no milk, and eating most of the results happily. Really, you can’t go too wrong with pancakes.
Yesterday, however, I made the plushest pancakes so far, soft and airy, guaranteed to entice anyone from bed. These make a Monday morning off from work even sweeter.
¼ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup teff flour
¼ cup sweet rice flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup rice milk
3 tablespoons sour cream (or goat’s milk yogurt)
Combining the dry ingredients. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir them with a wire whisk. (I have found this is like sifting the flours, without having a sifter.)
Combining the wet ingredients. Pour the rice milk (or whatever kind of milk you are using) into a different large bowl. Add the eggs and sour cream. Whisk it all together.
Making them one. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, ¼ cup at a time. Stir well between each dry addition.
Patience. Let the mixture sit for at least thirty minutes, at room temperature, to settle into itself.
Cooking the pancakes. Turn a burner on medium heat. When it has come to temperature, add your favorite greaser here — canola oil, butter, or non-dairy spread — just enough to coat the pan. Using the ¼ cup measurement you pulled out of the drawer to measure the ingredients, dollop the pancake batter into the pan, from the height of a few inches. Allow the pancake to cook. Don’t be overeager to turn it. When bubbles have formed and mostly popped on the surface of the pancake, turn it. The second side always takes half the time to cook as the first, so watch this carefully.
Remove the pancake from the pan and serve.
Makes six small pancakes.