Gluten Free Girl and the Chef http://glutenfreegirl.com Playing With Our Food Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:54:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=266 we’d like to feed youhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gluten-free-cooking-class/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gluten-free-cooking-class/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 18:54:28 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10012 Folks, we would like to feed you. Feeding people is one of our favorite activities in the world. Add in laughter, talking, teaching, answering questions, the chance to form a new community, and chocolate? We’re…

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chocolate chip cookies

Folks, we would like to feed you.

Feeding people is one of our favorite activities in the world. Add in laughter, talking, teaching, answering questions, the chance to form a new community, and chocolate? We’re in.

Next weekend, we are teaching a cooking class at our kitchen studio on Vashon. And you’re invited.

(We’re going to be teaching a lot of gluten-free baking and cooking classes at our studio soon, just as soon as the flour company is up and running well. There are 10,000 pounds of flour arriving on Vashon tomorrow. So excuse me if this is brief. We’ll fill you in on the process of starting this company and how you can buy some flours from us soon.)

On Saturday, February 7th, from 5 to 7:30 pm, we’re teaching a cooking class that celebrates local, seasonal food. We’ll be teaching you how to make Dungeness crab cakes, pork chops with kale-prosciutto sauce, and chocolate chip cookies with grey salt.

See? I told you. Chocolate.

After we gather around the island in our kitchen to make some of these foods together, we’ll gather at the table and eat together.

We can’t wait to see you there.

For this class, registration is through Vashon Allied Arts, a wonderful organization here on the island that brings arts to the community. We’re happy to be doing this with them, as some of the proceeds from this class will be going to fund further art classes on Vashon.

Register for the class here. Space is limited!

p.s. If you can’t make the class next Saturday, we’re also teaching a gluten-free baking class through Vashon Allied Arts on March 7th. Register now!

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imperfect lighthttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/the-joy-of-imperfection/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/the-joy-of-imperfection/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 04:50:17 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=10003 The day after we returned from New York, I spent all day in bed, feverish, rising only to run to the bathroom. Thirty-six hours later, I patted Lucy’s back as she hunched over the toilet in the…

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the studio in January light

The day after we returned from New York, I spent all day in bed, feverish, rising only to run to the bathroom. Thirty-six hours later, I patted Lucy’s back as she hunched over the toilet in the middle of the night. There’s a pernicious stomach flu that turns into days of terrible aches and malaise racing around our island. Entire families are getting sick, then infecting the other members of their families. From the stories we’re hearing from our friends, we had a mild case, which feels impossible. Just when Lu and I were finally recovered, Danny spent an entire day in bed, mostly incoherent. The next day, he rose up feeling better, then fell to the bed again. The man who never rests, who sits still only for 20 minutes at a time, tweaked a muscle in his back by lying down all day. He’s been hobbling ever since then, in spite of massages and water aerobics classes and yoga-like exercises. Desmond has blessedly been mostly free of being sick. But he’s in a big-time sleep regression, being just on the edge of walking and making all kinds of cognitive connections that a 10-month-old suddenly makes. He’s awake and standing in his crib, reaching out his arms to me when I walk in at 3 am. And it’s me waking up every night, since Danny can’t pick up the kiddo with his back acting the way it is.

There isn’t enough coffee in the world right now.

However, these past couple of weeks, there has been plenty of time for reflection. Life has slowed us down, against our will. But slowing down gives me time to think more deeply than a day full of knocking things off a to-do list can ever give me.

Basically, I find the light in everything. It’s in my nature.

We’re just about to launch our gluten-free flour blends into the world. I’ll share more of this process with you on Wednesday. Before we get into the daily mechanics of shipping flours to you directly, Danny and I have been doing a lot of thinking about what we do here. With the help of our wonderful and wise friend Tricia, who has a deep background in marketing and cares about us both, we’ve been thinking about what we’ve been writing and creating here for nearly a decade. What are we really offering you?

I don’t want to write about it too much yet, because it’s new. And I’m pretty weary tired when I’m not writing. I’ll say this, before I share some of the pieces that have been dancing around my head these last couple of weeks. It’s about the power of story. It’s about accepting imperfections. And it’s about joy.

Sometimes, it’s even about food.

If you don’t follow Humans of New York on Facebook or Instagram, I’m pointing your way there now. Brandon Stanton is changing the world, one kind and wide-open photograph at a time. I check in every day, just to see the faces I have never met and hear the stories that are not my own. Recently, Brandon found a young boy who sang the praises of his school principal. His story struck so many people that Brandon found the principal, found the school in Brooklyn, and began a fundraiser to send these young kids on a trip out of their difficult neighborhood. So far, people have donated more than $700,000. Go back and see all those photos and read those stories. I imagine you’ll cry, the way I did, for these connections and the chance we all have to spread more joy in the world.

Speaking of education, this piece in the Atlantic mirrors the problem I see in the system now. There’s so little time for joy. “Building on a child’s ability to feel joy, rather than pushing it aside, wouldn’t be that hard. It would just require a shift in the education world’s mindset. Instead of trying to get children to buckle down, why not focus on getting them to take pleasure in meaningful, productive activity, like making things, working with others, exploring ideas, and solving problems? These focuses are not so different from the things to which they already gravitate and in which they delight.” Teaching kids to sit still for hours, stay quiet unless asked to talk, and fill in worksheets instead of follow their own creative delight leads them to believe that being perfect is more important than feeling alive.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the terrible effects of perfectionism, all the ways we steel ourselves against the moment of vulnerability, and how much it can damage us. I don’t drink much anymore, but this piece on alcohol as an escape from perfectionism for mothers really resonated for me. “Lean in, lean back: I’ve done both, sequentially. I’ve sat at home, in tears, believing I would never enter the workforce again. And I have sat at the office, exhausted, knowing I was missing a precious evening at home. Both positions have their downsides and their sweet rewards. One thing is for certain: Straddling both roles can turn you into human Silly Putty. I remember when my son was born, receiving a card from the writer Marni Jackson—author of The Mother Zone—who wrote, perceptively: ‘Welcome to permanent ambivalence.’”I know that fathers have a tough job too, but being a working mother in this culture amidst the expectations of perfection on every level can be devastating.

I really love this piece from Molly Watson, a food writer in San Francisco, about the arrogance of telling people they should embrace cooking and the family dinner. Like her and so many other food writers, I used to exhort everyone to cook. It took me years of working as a food writer and having two children to realize what a burden cooking can be on working moms and dads. Cooking seems like a joyful ease to me because I already love food and the process of cooking. For me, cooking is meditation and a chance to drop the rest of the day, as well as a creative act and a full sensory experience. However, I know cooking doesn’t feel that way to everyone. (And there are still plenty of days when I don’t know what’s for dinner an hour before we’re supposed to eat.) 

If you don’t love to cook — or if you feel intimidated or scared of the process — being told you should love it only creates anger or guilt. I love this line: “There would be a whole lot [fewer] labor abuses in the garment industry if we all sewed our own clothes, but can anyone imagine suggesting more home sewing as a first step towards changing that system, much less present it as a key component of a long-term workable solution? ” Cooking can be a joy but it’s not a joy for everyone. Those of us who love it shouldn’t think less of those who do not.

After reading this piece about how bad the modern world can be for our brains, I’ve been acting on something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I’ve put down my phone. Technology can create such a false sense of urgency in our lives. We used to write letters and wait days for them to arrive.

“There are also important differences between snail mail and email on the receiving end. In the old days, the only mail we got came once a day, which effectively created a cordoned-off section of your day to collect it from the mailbox and sort it. Most importantly, because it took a few days to arrive, there was no expectation that you would act on it immediately. If you were engaged in another activity, you’d simply let the mail sit in the box outside or on your desk until you were ready to deal with it. Now email arrives continuously, and most emails demand some sort of action: Click on this link to see a video of a baby panda, or answer this query from a co-worker, or make plans for lunch with a friend, or delete this email as spam. All this activity gives us a sense that we’re getting things done – and in some cases we are. But we are sacrificing efficiency and deep concentration when we interrupt our priority activities with email.” I don’t want to measure out my life in text messages and likes on Facebook. That’s not what I want to teach my kids.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Since I first got a smartphone — one that can access the internet and go on Twitter and Facebook, allow me to look up anything instantly — I have more and more been measuring the success of my days by how much I have accomplished. It used to be — and I want it to be again — that I measured the success of a day by how much of it I truly lived.

We’ve put limits on technology in our home now. And from now on, I’m keeping office hours, a clear and firm work schedule. If you send me an email or message or request, you should know that I will only be dealing with work on the computer on the weekdays, from 9:30 to 3:30 (Pacific Standard Time) from now on.

Without the computer and the phone and the made-up sense of panic that can come from the way that work bleeds into every part of our days, what are we trying to do instead? Pay attention.

“Attention without feeling, I began to learn, is only a report. An openness — an empathy — was necessary if the attention was to matter..” Do read this piece about Mary Oliver, who is like heartbeat to me, and like everyone I love, almost entirely unknowable.

Finally, even though I am sometimes queen of to-do lists, getting things done, putting new structures into place, and learning ALL THE TIME, I’m going to be going back to read this piece on radical self-acceptance from Zen Habits again and again.  “What if instead, you loved yourself, fat body and all? What if you loved yourself, laziness and all? What if you loved yourself, all that is ugly and incompetent and mean, along with the beauty and brilliance and kindness?”

I did promise you a little food, didn’t I? I highly recommend popping popcorn in coconut oil, then drizzling it with a bit of butter, lemon zest, and fresh thyme. You’re welcome.

Finally, an image that stays with me lately. On one of the first days Lucy was finally feeling better, I blasted music from the Aretha Franklin Pandora station. “Proud Mary” came on and I told her, “Lu, you hear how this song is slow? We can dance to it, but just wait. Wait for it. You’ll hear something different in a moment.” She looked at me, confused. When the pace changed, her eyes opened wide and she started to move, unable to stop. “Mama! Mama! This song makes me dance my butt off!” she shouted. And then we played it again.

I love introducing her to Tina Turner, one of the fiercest women alive. And then we started listening to Stevie Wonder and Otis Redding. Desmond isn’t getting any kid music. And I’m fine with that.

Every day since, Lucy has been asking for That Song That Makes Me Dance My Butt Off. When Desmond hears it, he starts clapping and moving his butt too. We’ve been doing this every night before dinner.

January has hit us hard but we’re dancing, together.

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a word from our sponsors: Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed mealhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/bobs-red-mill-flaxseed-meal/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/bobs-red-mill-flaxseed-meal/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 02:22:06 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9997 Lately, I’ve been playing with flaxseed again. Why? For one, I never stop playing with flours, measuring out 100 grams of a new flour in an old recipe, just to see how it works. Thank…

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flaxseed

Lately, I’ve been playing with flaxseed again.

Why? For one, I never stop playing with flours, measuring out 100 grams of a new flour in an old recipe, just to see how it works. Thank goodness, we have a flour company now. I have a place besides cookbooks and blog posts to put this strange habit into practical action. (Update on the All-Purpose flour this week. Hint: available for sale soon!)

For years, I measured out my flaxseed in teaspoons, thinking of it as a replacement for xanthan or guar gum. But a couple of months ago, I started thinking of it instead as a flour. Good things have come of this.

You might have heard of this Life-Changing Bread from the wonderful website My New Roots. A couple of years ago, this bread seemed to be on every Pinterest board ever made. It’s marvelous, based on a traditional Danish recipe, a dense bread made mostly of nuts and seeds, held together by psyllium husks. I’m a fan.

I’m crazy about Elisabeth Prueitt’s Flax Muffins. Elisabeth is one of the owners of Tartine Bakery, which is definitively not a gluten-free bakery. But these muffins are gluten-free, as Elisabeth has celiac. They’re hearty and moist, and with the grated apple and raisins, these taste a little like bran muffins. We use our grain-free blend and flaxseed meal to make these.

Here’s a list of recipes from Elana’s Pantry’s that use flaxseed meal, including her multi-“grain” crackers. Elana has been grain-free for decades now, to heal her MS and celiac. Her recipes are always inspiring in their simplicity.

Flaxseed has been used as a medicinal food for thousands of years. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, so important for brain and heart function. It contains lignans, which are high in antioxidants. And flaxseed meal contains both soluble and insoluble fiber. There are a lot of benefits to this little brown seed.

(Also, let’s be honest. I’m a woman in her late 40s. Flaxseed has some great qualities for hormonal discombobulation. I’ll leave it at that.)

As you might know, Bob’s Red Mill is one of our long-term sponsors. We have been working together for years now. So we’re happy to share that the Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed meal is great: robust and nutty, ground fine enough to use as a flour, and packaged in an opaque package to keep the nutritious qualities in the flaxseed. It’s also made in their gluten-free facility, so there’s no worries of cross-contamination. We’ve been using it around here lately, quite a lot. We’re fans.

Bob’s Red Mill would like to give away a bag of their flaxseed meal to three readers of this site. Leave a comment letting us know why you would like to win this. Winners will be chosen at random and selected on Friday, January 30th, then notified by email. 

 

 

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a good food dayhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/good-food-day/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/good-food-day/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 05:58:04 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9989 This passage from Marco Canora’s brilliant new cookbook, A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great sounded so familiar to Danny, after 2 decades of being a restaurant chef, that he…

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marco

This passage from Marco Canora’s brilliant new cookbook, A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great sounded so familiar to Danny, after 2 decades of being a restaurant chef, that he laughed out loud when he read it in bed the night we returned from New York City.

“Amped by another cigarette and a final large cup of coffee, I head into service. Six hours of bright lights, heat, speed, and constant stimulation whiz by. Though I tasted dozens of bites and ingested a full dinner’s worth of calories, it never feels like they add up to a meal. Service winds down, and I’m thinking about relaxing with a smoke and a drink. After a few of each, I start to get hungry. I ate lunch at 4:30 pm, so now that it’s 1 a.m., I’m ready for dinner. It’s how plenty of people feel when they finish their day of work, but for most it’s 6 p.m., and for me and the rest of the working chefs it’s 1 a.m.

At this hour I’m not going home and whipping up a salad. I head to Corner Bistro for a few beers topped by a cheeseburger, or go to Great New York Noodletown for a late-night Chinese feast of roast baby pig. On the nights I don’t go out, I stop by the 24-hour bodega, order ham and cheese on a hard roll with mustard and watery lettuce, smash some potato chips in it, and nail that for my 1:30 a.m. dinner just before bed. I also make up for skipping the morning cigarettes by smoking ten in the last three hours of my night.

Remarkably, this was my routine for nearly twenty years. I was overcaffeinated, dehydrated, overstimulated, and full of starch, sugar, fatty meat, alcohol, and nicotine. Until my body started to stage a revolt.”

This is, of course, not a funny passage. However, Danny laughed because it so eerily, exactly matched his life before we met. “I could have written this,” he told me as we talked before turning out the light. “Thank god you came along.”

My life has been transformed since I received a celiac diagnosis in 2005. Everything in my life has leaned toward the light of good health, an impassioned discovery of good food, accepting imperfections, and a sense of belonging to a community in a way I never did when I was sick. What I have written here for nearly a decade has been a record of that transformation. But I rarely write about how fully Danny’s life has been changed by meeting a woman who could no longer eat gluten.

Like Marco Canora, Danny worked on the line in various restaurants for over 20 years. And like nearly every chef in the business, he lived on small tastes, gulped bread and butter, cigarettes, and late-night rushed meals. When we met, Danny was eating at a chain sandwich shop nearly every night after midnight, racing to get some food into him after six hours of dinner service and an afternoon of prep before that. He was smoking a pack and a half a day. (He quit pretty quickly after we met. Afterwards, he was amazed to realize that smoking was the only way he could step outside for a breath in that frantic world.) And his eating was haphazard and rushed.

Now, he hasn’t smoked in nearly 9 years. He quit drinking after Lucy was born. He eats breakfast on a daily basis. Off the line now, he spends his days thinking of ways to make our Thursday family taco nights more interesting every week — a new salsa, a marinade of lime juice, chile powder, chipotle pepper, charred peppers, cilantro, and olive oil for black cod, cabbage shells instead of tortillas. And he eats more vegetables than he ever dreamed possible.

When I first met Danny, and he was working six days a week as the head chef at a restaurant, his best tastes came from veal stock reduction sauces, slow-braised beef, mashed potatoes with butter and cream, and decadent desserts. These days, the man is fascinated to find every single way he can think to pull flavor from a carrot.

That’s why Danny — and I — are so excited about A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great. It’s food that is meant to heal, created by someone deeply driven by a love of food. As Marco writes, “Food is the center of everything for me: my heritage, my family, social life, and entire career. In short, it’s a key player in my overall happiness. For just about anyone, the thought of overhauling your whole diet is a tough blow, but for me it fell just short of cruel. My diagnosis lit a fire under my ass to make some changes, but I knew I would be a miserable person and unable to stick to a healthy diet if I had to eat rabbit food for the rest of my life.”

Why does this culture stubbornly believe that “healthy” food is bland, nothing better than steamed vegetables and poached chicken breasts? Why is pleasure divorced from health? Where’s the joy in celery sticks and nonfat dressing? Why can’t we eat great food, consciously, food that’s full of flavor from taking the time to make it right?  Why don’t we define a good food day as one where we truly savored every bite we took, instead of feeling proud of how few calories we ate?

We met Marco Canora when we were in New York a couple of weeks ago. He’s a mensch: impassioned about life, open and voluble, kind and ready to talk about food for hours. We sat at the window seat at Hearth (one of our favorite restaurants in New York) before it opened and talked about grain mills, chia seeds, and buckwheat. Marco listens, hard. And he talks fast, happy to learn more and share what he knows.

That’s the thing about good chefs: they just love food. Once they open their minds and hearts to the idea that food can truly feed us, and not merely be an act of creation, a competition, a thing of beauty meant to blow people away with its precision? Those chefs can change the way the rest of us eat. Lentil soup with tomatoes and Tuscan kale may not be as sexy as an expensive restaurant dish on a long plate with a swirl of something, a block of pork belly, a touch of lardo, dolloped with sauce. But it’s a damned satisfying dish. (I lived off this soup of Marco’s the week after New York, when Lu and I were down with the flu.)

I could have sat talking with Marco Canora all day long, but we had a dinner party to cook that night. He gave us some of his Brodo broth: I recommend the Hearth broth with freshly shaved turmeric. (This piece about the benefits of bone broth was published in the New York Times when we were there, the morning we met Marco. I highly recommend it.) Next time, I want to try the chicken with Calabrian chili oil. It’s clear that Chef Canora is jazzed about all the new discoveries he’s making, the foods he’s trying, and the good health he feels from the choices he has made.

It’s all clear in his new book, A Good Food Day: Reboot Your Health with Food That Tastes Great. Danny and I have been reading bits of it every day. I can feel Danny’s mind changing again, shifting more toward quinoa and kale, ways to play with umami tastes, creating homemade lemon confit and shaved fennel salads instead of  the pork feasts we used to make. There’s no end to what Danny and I still have to learn about food.

We’re enjoying the hell out of it.

 

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like sisters, reallyhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/like-sisters-really/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/like-sisters-really/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 05:15:10 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9959 If you’re in New York City, take a trip to the East Village. In a tiny sliver of a storefront on the north side of East 10th Street is Jennifer’s Way Bakery. Go hungry. I’ve…

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If you’re in New York City, take a trip to the East Village. In a tiny sliver of a storefront on the north side of East 10th Street is Jennifer’s Way Bakery. Go hungry.

I’ve been hearing about Jennifer Esposito’s valiant work for the celiac community for years. First known as an actress in Hollywood, Jennifer threw herself into the world of gluten-free food and advocacy for those with celiac when she was diagnosed with the illness. It took decades of terrible pain and suffering for Jennifer before she finally emerged healthy. And once she realized what drove her life, and how many other people are in pain needlessly, Jennifer decided to dedicate herself to making great food that heals, without gluten.

Hm. Sounds familiar. Danny and I know this story well, after all.

I loved reading Jennifer’s Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease–What Doctors Don’t Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again when it came out last year. It’s a brave, boldly honest account of how Jennifer suffered and how hard she had to fight to find her health. As she and I talked about at the bakery, it’s amazing to us how doctors will say to patients, “Just stop eating gluten and you’ll be fine.” That’s not enough, in most cases. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder. To heal, we have to listen to our own bodies and find the foods that work. More than that, as I have been realizing more deeply as I go into this process — now nearly a decade after being diagnosed — that I need to have less stress and more joy, far fewer things on the to-do list and a good sleep schedule, regular exercise and a daily meditation practice to keep healing my body.

Just eating a crappy processed food product that happens to be without gluten is not a healing practice.

Jennifer’s bakery is a haven for those who want to heal and taste great food. And for both Jennifer and me, healing means consciously, happily splurging on a chocolate cupcake once in awhile. (That was Lucy’s favorite. When I was processing these photos, she walked by and pointed to the ding-dong-like cupcake. “That one!” she said. “I really like that one.”) Jennifer’s baked goods are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined-sugar-free, nut-free, and organic. The fact that they taste good with that long list is a testament to Jennifer’s drive and passion for baking.

And I mean good. Jennifer’s breads, including a yeast-free bread, are some of the best gluten-free breads I’ve yet tasted. She and I talked about hydration levels, chia seeds, the use of vinegar, sorghum flour, and the best way to bake gluten-free bagels. We talked so fast, our hands flying in the air, trading ideas and laughing that Danny said to me when we left the bakery: “It’s like you two are sisters.”

We are, of course. We’re celiac sisters.

If you’re in New York, go to Jennifer’s Way Bakery. It’s an astonishing little place, run by an equally astonishing strong woman.

Jennifer’s Way Bakery
263 E. 10th St.
New York, NY 10009
646.682.9501

Jennifer's Way III

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a gift, this cityhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gift-city/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/gift-city/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 05:24:34 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9950 After I wrote here last, sighing into the satisfaction of being home, we went flying off again. It wasn’t planned. We only found out a few days before we left that we were headed to New York…

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New York I

After I wrote here last, sighing into the satisfaction of being home, we went flying off again.

It wasn’t planned. We only found out a few days before we left that we were headed to New York City for the week.

This story amazes me. And goodness knows, I love stories. But in this case, I’m not going to tell it. It’s not that there’s anything to hide. There’s so much light and love and friendship to the story that brought us to New York, all four of us. But telling it here doesn’t feel right. It feels like crowing or bragging or look at me. Suffice it to say that a writer we admire deeply turns out to love our work too. This writer has been reading this site since 2005, before Danny arrived, before Lucy was born, before we had written any of our cookbooks. And for this writer, we feel like family. As a celebration of our connection, this writer flew our family to New York, put us up in a lovely hotel, arranged for cars everywhere, and sent us shopping with the assistant to make a five-course dinner party for this writer’s best friend.

We will never forget this week.

Most days, we don’t think about the legacy of this site or how we seem to other people. We put our heads down and work. (Or we think, some days, man, life has been too busy. I miss putting up new recipes. Let’s go back to it.) It’s the joy of finding the stillness of story in the dancing of our days that compels me to this keyboard again. It’s joy that keeps Danny moving in front of the stove. We love doing our work. What other people think of it is none of our business.

Sometimes, however, there are these ephemeral connections. I get a letter from someone who tells me a story and drops in a sentence like this: “My family and I were sitting around the dinner table talking about you and Danny, as we so often do.” And I stop and think, “Wait, what? There are people sitting around talking about us at the dinner table?” Or we meet someone in a farmers’ market in a different city and she stops, looks at Lucy, looks up at us, and gets tears in her eyes. Now that it is almost a decade since I started writing this site, I hear from young women who say, “I read you first in college. I made my first dish for my husband after we got married from your cookbook. And now I’m feeding my baby gluten-free food I make myself, thanks to you.” Seriously, folks. I don’t know what to say.

Thank you.

It’s all about the connections for me and Danny. Even when the connection lasts as long as a sentence in an email or 5 days in New York. Even when it’s a connection we have to a city far away from ours.

Man, we love being in New York.

(It was bitterly cold, so cold that Lucy cried walking three blocks, “The wind! It’s attacking my cheeks and making them sting and it just won’t stop. Make it stop!” Still, at home, she talked only about how much she loved being in New York. Memories form themselves, leaving out the unpleasant moments sometimes.)

When we returned home, I pulled out a book I hadn’t read in awhile, a collection of essays called Approaching Eye Level by Vivian Gornick. (I so loved reading her interview on the nature of memoir and feminism and language in Believer magazine.)

She writes about New York as a character, in its intimacy and loneliness in a way I’ve never read anyone else capture. She’s flinty and unflinching, tender and marvelously present, even to her own sadness. It was this description that reminded me most of our time on the streets of New York this visit.

“The street keeps moving, and you’ve got to love the movement. You’ve got to find the composition of the rhythm, lift the story from the motion, understand and not regret that all is dependent on the swiftness with which we come into view and pass out again. The pleasure and the reassurance lie precisely in the speed with which connection is established and then let go of. No need to clutch. The connection is generic not specific. There’s another piece of it coming right along behind this one.”

Life goes on.

New York, your skies were high and clear between the buildings this visit. There were cold streets, a morning of snow, twinkling lights, and an incredible selection of foods to buy. You gave us slow drives through the Village, a case full of cheeses from around the world, and candlelight in incredible restaurants. New York, you offered us so much.

I’m grateful for these connections.

New York II

New York III

New York IV

New York V

New York VI

New York VIII

New York IX

New York X

New York VII

 

Here are some of the places in New York where we ate safely and well this trip.

Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
212–925-3797
www.locandaverdenyc.com

Sarabeth’s Restaurant 
339 Greenwich Street
New York, NY
212–966-0421
www.sarabethsrestaurants.com

Restaurant Marc Forgione
134 Reade Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 941‑9401
www.marcforgione.com

Murray’s Cheese
254 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 243‑3289
www.murrayscheese.com

Friedman’s Lunch
Chelsea Market
75 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929‑7100
www.friedmanslunch.com

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home, on the beachhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/home-beach/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2015/01/home-beach/#comments Thu, 01 Jan 2015 23:54:02 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9924 This afternoon, we gathered at our favorite beach on Vashon for a New Year’s day picnic with friends. It was cold — every kid came dressed in a coat and wooly hat with ear flaps…

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KVI on New Year's

This afternoon, we gathered at our favorite beach on Vashon for a New Year’s day picnic with friends. It was cold — every kid came dressed in a coat and wooly hat with ear flaps — and our plan to have a bonfire fizzled when we read there is a burn ban on right now. But we all laughed.

One friend brought brown rice rolls in nori, a smoothie made with frozen blueberries and rice milk, napkins for us. We brought turkey slices slathered in good mayonnaise rolled up tight. Oranges ready to be peeled. There was hot herbal tea in a mason jar.

Last night, Danny braised white beans in olive oil with a Parmesan rind and rosemary. They simmered in the slow cooker all night long, growing plump but crisp at the edges toward the end of the cooking. It feels good to eat food like this — food that requires attention and slowing down — on the first day of the year. Years ago now, this was the first dish Danny ever made for me. I felt madly in love with him already, but I worried before I took that first bite. What if he wasn’t a very good cook? After the first bite, I sighed. Happy. I’ve been following that feeling with him ever since. We made them again to test the recipe for our first cookbook back in 2009 but we’d forgotten them since. I love that he made them now, for the first day of the year. Something is returning.

Everything begins again.

There’s something about water for me. It’s about change and embracing, letting go and acknowledging that time moves on, like breath, like children growing, like the start of a new year. Or maybe it’s not metaphorical at all — Shauna, stop the connecting, the teaching, the making every moment into meaning — but purely physical. I feel spacious under big sky with the water lapping at the broken-down driftwood falling apart at the seams.

We had an incredible year. 2014, you were something else.

Bring on the new.

This year’s word for Danny and me is calm. It felt good to be home, on the beach we know so well, with some of the friends we want to see again and again in 2015. We’re looking forward to seeing you more often here this year, friends.

Thanks for being here.

KVI on New Year's III

KVI on New Year's V

KVI on New Year's VIII

KVI on New Year's VII

KVI on New Year's VI

KVI on New Year's II

KVI on New Year's IV

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silence and happy babblehttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2014/12/jicama-salad-with-citrus-vinaigrette/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2014/12/jicama-salad-with-citrus-vinaigrette/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 06:01:04 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9906 Danny and I were driving in the car yesterday, heading down the interstate toward Seattle. We had just been in a courtroom, for all the best reasons. The hour before, we had stood in front of a…

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Med. Paleo I

Danny and I were driving in the car yesterday, heading down the interstate toward Seattle. We had just been in a courtroom, for all the best reasons. The hour before, we had stood in front of a judge, raised our right hands, and swore that we truly — yes, and we mean it — want to be Desmond’s parents for the rest of our lives. The judge called Lucy up to his bench and had her sit down in his seat. He leaned down to whisper something in her ear, then she banged the gavel three times. “It’s official!” she said. “He’s your son.” Five years after we decided we wanted to adopt, and 8 1/2 months after this amazing little guy came into our lives, Desmond is now legally our son. The relief and joy is enormous.

So there we were, driving on the freeway, grinning. Desmond had fallen asleep in his car seat. Lucy had too. She danced as a mouse in the Nutcracker all weekend, happier than we have ever seen her, and the poor kid was tuckered out. As far as she was concerned, the freeway was boring, only a conduit to the ice cream the judge ordered us to get to celebrate. (She liked that part especially well.) So Danny and I were, for the first time all day, alone to talk as adults, quietly.

We talked about our joy, about the release after waiting all these years. I realized there was some part of my body that had been holding breath since Lucy was 18 months old and finally, that morning, finally I exhaled. We felt good.

A few days before, I had read an idea that had been bopping around my brain ever since. When you’re thinking about the work you do in the world, what are your strengths? And by strengths, this piece was not talking about the traditional human resources kind of stock answer, like what you think your talents are, or what you’re best at during the day. But literally this — what makes you feel strong?

So much of the time, we’re all focused on what needs improving, the gaps and cracks, the broken places. What about the moments in the day when we feel so clear and calm that we don’t think about anything else? What if we organized our days around those moments? What if the bulk of our work came from that place of strength?

So I asked Danny, because we’re always talking. We’re always comparing notes and readjusting and making changes on what doesn’t feel right. Always. Even though I know him better than any person alive, I still ask him how he feels and what makes him tick. So I asked, “Wait, what part of our work makes you feel strong?”

He thought for a bit, a tiny beat, and then said, “The silence that happens when people are eating my food.”

And I laughed, because I had been thinking about the moment after. “I love that happy babble of 20 people around a table, eating and talking, and laughing together.”

That happened for both of us on Sunday.

Med. Paleo II

On Sunday, we hosted a book celebration at our studio. Diane Sanfilippo, Caitlin Weeks, and Nabill Boumrar, the authors of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: Over 150 Fresh Coastal Recipes for a Relaxed, Gluten-Free Lifestyle came to meet people, talk about the food they love, and eat with everyone. Danny and I made six dishes from their book, part of the price of admission for the event. (Brittany Angell, author of Every Last Crumb: Paleo Bread and Beyond made an appearance too.)

I love a crowd that gathers together to celebrate vegetables. That’s roasted garlic cauliflower hummus behind the carrots and cucumbers there.

Med. Paleo IV

This is a fig and ginger chicken tagine, inspired by the dishes Nabil grew up eating in Algeria. He’s quite the character: voluble, funny, a natural storyteller. He went around to so many people at the party, bending his head down to listen. (He’s a big guy.) I like the man and I like his food.

Med. Paleo V

These are cinnamon-apricot breakfast cookies, which were quite the hit at the party. You’ll have to buy the book to get the recipe. They contained chia seeds, coconut flakes, dried apricots, sunflower seed butter, and coconut flour. No gluten, grains, dairy, or even eggs.

I’m working on my own version now. I gave some leftover cookies to Lucy and she gobbled them up after a dance performance. I’m thinking about dried cherries, hazelnuts, maple syrup, and maybe a bit of dark chocolate. Maybe.

Med. Paleo VI

The food was good but the company was better. One lovely guy came all the way from Vancouver for this event, riding his bike the length of the island to find us. (Hi, Matt!) Michelle and I discovered we have wonderful friends in common in Seattle and we started the makings of a playdate. (Thanks for the honey, Michelle.) There were connections and conversations all around the room, the laughter bouncing off the high ceilings of our studio.

For the past year, Danny and I have been thinking about teaching classes and doing book events in our space. It’s our second home now, this studio. We adore it. It’s big and filled with light, even on grey days. Our landlords have a 12-acre farm, with sheep, rabbits, and chickens squawking near the garden. It’s a real, working farm. We have a professional kitchen, an island around which a clutch of people can gather, and a 24-foot-long table made for eating.

But for the past year, we’ve been thinking that we needed to make the place even prettier before we could begin. Work just kept getting in the way of having the right napkins or even buying enough chairs to seat everyone. There was, of course, a Kickstarter campaign, all the research and work to make that possible, a new cookbook to write, and a darling baby who entered our lives. If the place wasn’t perfect, I understand now. Still. Wouldn’t we have to bring a design consultant in to spiffy up the place — build spare white shelves filled with perfectly placed pastel dishes or make everything reclaimed teak and marble countertops — before we could start teaching people there?

Somehow, lately, we’ve come to our (imperfect) senses again. The best parties are always the ones where the hosts are relaxed and happy to be there.

This event on Sunday? Our landlord is fixing the water heater and he had left it in front of the closet. We didn’t have chairs that matched. We didn’t even have enough for everyone to sit on. (We were expecting a sort of cocktail party, everyone stand and chat kind of experience.) Someone who came to the party had four folding chairs in her car from Thanksgiving still. Everyone gathered around the table. As you can see from this photo, we left the calendar of Kickstarter rewards — the force that is driving our lives right now — up on the wall for the party.

No one seemed to mind.

And so, we’re paying attention to our strengths again.

Starting in January, we’d like to invite you into our working space to cook and eat and laugh with us. We’ll be posting a schedule of classes soon. We’d love to feed you, to gather together, to laugh.

We’d like to share with you that silence while everyone is eating. That happy babble.

Med. Paleo III

jicama salad with pomegranate seeds and a citrus vinaigrette

I love jicama during the winter. It’s not only deeply refreshing with a watery crunch most vegetables cannot provide, but it is also considered a prebiotic, which means it’s good for gut health. I’m always thinking about gut health, since I have celiac. But don’t present this dish at a holiday party and announce, “This is good for gut health!” Focus on the cool crunch of the jicama, the pop of pomegranate seeds, the way the citrus segments slide between your teeth, and the sweet acidic taste of this vinaigrette that brings it all together. Or, just put this jicama salad with citrus vinaigrette down on the table and let people eat.

(Also, putting together this recipe, we realized how many techniques we know by heart but you may not. It’s time to go back to videos again too. Soon.)

1 large jicama (or 2 medium-sized jicama)
1 navel orange, peeled
1 white grapefruit, peeled
1 ruby red grapefruit peeled
seeds from 1 pomegranate (watch this video from our friend John at Food Wishes!)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

prepare the jicama. Peel the jicama with a sharp knife. Slice the jicama into 1/2-inch pieces. Cut off all the rounded edges and slice the straight wedges into matchsticks.

supreme the citrus. Put an orange on a cutting board. (Make sure you place a damp towel underneath.) Cut the ends off. Start at the top and slice the peel off. After you cut the first part of the peel, you’ll be able to see where to cut — where the white part ends and the fruit begins. Slice off the entire peel. Hold the orange in your hand, over a large bowl. You’ll be able to see the membrane, the tiny sliver of connecting tissue between the segments of the orange. Carefully slice into the membrane and cut all the way to the center of the orange. Slice into the membrane on the other side. This will release the segment of orange. And the juice will fall into the bowl. Finish the orange. Repeat this with the two grapefruits. (If this doesn’t make sense, watch this video on how to supreme an orange.)

make the vinaigrette. You should have about 1/2 cup of juice in the bowl. If you don’t have that much, juice another orange to make 1/2 a cup. Mix the citrus juice and the white wine vinegar. Slowly, whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

compose the salad. Toss the jicama pieces with the citrus segments, pomegranate seeds, and cilantro. Drizzle a thin stream of the vinaigrette around the edges of the bowl, then toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Feeds 4.

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pragmatic and imaginedhttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2014/12/roasted-carrots-with-cumin-cinnamon-and-honey/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2014/12/roasted-carrots-with-cumin-cinnamon-and-honey/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 22:22:50 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9888 Did you deposit that check yet? We should make a list of all the tasks we have to undertake to get the flours shipped to people’s homes and assign dates to every one. Who’s picking…

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carrots with cumin

Did you deposit that check yet? We should make a list of all the tasks we have to undertake to get the flours shipped to people’s homes and assign dates to every one. Who’s picking up Lucy from the Nutcracker rehearsal today? Here’s an idea — what about doing a video series with Sam, teaching me how to make pastry? I really want to incorporate more greys into the photographs, now that it’s the low-ceilinged time of the year. What about a soup with sweet potatoes and coconut, tomatoes and chickpeas? Hey honey, can you make up a bottle for Desmond?

Standing at the island in our kitchen, I was preparing to make date-almond chocolate biscotti for the gift baskets we are sending out for Kickstarter pledges. (Thank you again and again and again.) The knife was duller than I wanted (add sharpen knives to the list!), and so I had to press down harder than I expected on the red cutting board beneath my hands. I had to pay attention. Within a few moments of the slow sashaying rhythm of the knife on the dates, I paused. Everything felt good, my body lined up. I looked down to see my battered clogs next to each other, planted. I looked up and realized I felt grounded for the first time all day. Too many practical matters on paper and in bank accounts and emails leave me feeling flighty. When I put my hands in the food, I can imagine again.

These days, my life feels likes a constant, slow — and sometimes sudden — shift between the pragmatic and the imagined.

Time slips away as the light moves from the window behind me in our kitchen studio — Desmond jumping gleefully in his jumper across from me with Michael Jackson playing — to weak glimmers in late afternoon through the window near the refrigerator. Claire and I talk, making plans, everything that needs a list and has to be put on the calendar. Danny moves through the kitchen, nimbly, cooking and cleaning. He’s always listening. Whenever we are stuck, he looks at us, says something pithy and true. Then he makes us laugh. And then he feeds us lunch. Some days, it’s carrots slow roasted with cumin, cinnamon, and honey.

Danny is the most grounded person I have ever met. I’m full of ideas and talking it out and hands weaving strands of fabric in the air. Danny stands in the kitchen and makes food. And when he cooks, he thinks. He imagines. He listens. He knows far more than I do. And he’s kind enough to let me flutter, ever the writer, imagining, poking at ideas, trying them out by talking, and then watching the silly ones disappear out the door. Danny is all practical actions. And then he imagines. And he knows.

These past few weeks, as we have been pondering the intricacies of starting a small business, I’ve been trying to be pragmatic all day long. I have constant to-do lists in my speckled composition book, in green sharpies and stubs of pencils I find on the dining room table after Lucy has been drawing. They rattle in my head, those to-do lists, startling me awake at 3 in the morning with their noise. I’ve been thinking that what I need to do is buckle down, set aside my writing, quiet all those ideas, and just be practical.

I can’t, though. There’s no point in going against my essential nature. It never works. If I flutter my ideas into my hands, and make bread once again, just a bit better this time after my late-night thoughts about hydration made it onto the page, then I’m happy. My emails get answered after I have baked. After I’m done with this piece, I’m tackling a proposal I have to write, something quite exciting that scares me at the same time.

And here I am, writing yet another non-traditional, far-too-rambly piece of writing for a food blog. I’ve broken all those rules again.

Fine. I’m not much good at rules that make no sense to me. We have too many of them in this culture anyway.

Now that we are in the midst of starting a small business, I have been working on the assumption that our success lies solely in the pragmatic. And I make lists of those practical things and tackle emails and cross off lists. And then an entire day goes by, the light moving from limpid bright to those faint glimmers, without me making up a recipe or imagining a connection I hadn’t seen before or writing a piece like this. And then I go home defeated. Exhausted.

Those ideas that flutter out of my hands into the air around me, to the ears willing to listen or scared by them? They are the most practical things I do.

This morning, I read this piece about the founding of Top Pot Doughnuts, here in Seattle. I used to love those thick, sugar-crusted treats before I had to give up gluten. And to my delight, this piece is the story of how haphazard and sometimes chaotic the building of the Top Pot empire actually was. It was always about the vision, the design sensibility, the way they tried to make people feel when they were in a Top Pot shop. This is my favorite passage from Michael Klebeck:

“’Along the way, there have been ups and downs. But mostly, it feels like growth. Organic, authentic, and solid rather than ephemeral,’ Michael says. ‘The idea is the most important thing. The idea is everything.’
He pauses for a moment. ‘It was never about the doughnuts.’”

The idea is everything.

So I’ll keep dancing that line between the pragmatic and imagined, trying to find my balance new each day. Give me the chance to learn and keep my brain awake with fire, to deal with chaos, to go home exhausted some days and wake up ready to go the next morning. I’ll take that over tidy and too pragmatic any day.

Our lives are not neat. But as long as I’m dancing, and Danny is cooking, we’re going to be fine.

 

roasted carrots with cumin, cinnamon, and honey 

5 large carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon (we like the fresh cinnamon from Cinnamon Hill)
1/4 cup raw honey

Prepare to cook. Heat the oven to 425°.

Cut the carrots. Lay a whole carrot down on the cutting board. Cut a 1-inch piece on the diagonal. Twirl the carrot and cut again. This will give you carrot wedges. Repeat with the remaining carrots.

Toast the cumin. Set a small skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin. Toast the cumin, stirring frequently, until the smell of the cumin fills the air, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Season the carrots. Toss the carrots with the olive oil, and then toss them with the toasted cumin and cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast the carrots. Roast the carrots until they are tender to the knife, 20 to 25 minutes.

Finish the carrots. Toss the carrots with the honey. Serve.

Feeds 3.

 

Feel like playing? You might want to try this with parsnips instead of carrots. Depending on their size, they might take less time to cook. Also, if you make these carrots without salt and pepper, and puree them, a baby you know might be very happy eating this dish. Just leave out the honey, as it is recommended that babies less than 1 avoid honey.

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Mediterranean Paleo Cookinghttp://glutenfreegirl.com/2014/12/mediterranean-paleo-cooking/ http://glutenfreegirl.com/2014/12/mediterranean-paleo-cooking/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 18:11:51 +0000 http://glutenfreegirl.com/?p=9882  Want to have brunch with us at our kitchen studio on Vashon this Sunday? To sign up for the event at Brown Paper Tickets, just click on this link.  Danny and I just sent in the copy…

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Unknown

 Want to have brunch with us at our kitchen studio on Vashon this Sunday? To sign up for the event at Brown Paper Tickets, just click on this link

Danny and I just sent in the copy edits for our new cookbook, American Classics Reinvented. It has been almost two years since we first began working on a recipe list. It will be another 10 months before the book can be in your kitchen. Writing a cookbook is an arduous process, but enduring that process makes for better recipes. Last night, I made one more batch of the hoagie rolls, using a technique for making bread I hadn’t known a year ago. Those rolls are crusty on the outside, soft and full of air holes on the inside, and perfect for a lobster roll or Philly cheese steak sandwich.

There’s a reason great books take so long to make.

It’s hard to explain this process to people. The only folks who understand are people who do this crazy job too. Danny and I adore fellow cookbook authors.

This weekend, at our kitchen studio, we’re celebrating some of our fellow authors. And you’re invited.

We would like to invite you to an exclusive event to honor the publication of Mediterranean Paleo Cooking: Over 150 Fresh Coastal Recipes for a Relaxed, Gluten-Free Lifestyle.

Danny pored over this book, inspired and intrigued. He was intrigued by the kefta lamb kebabs, the cumin-cauliflower soup, and the arugula and artichoke salad with citrus dressing. He loves that the recipes are infused with the flavors and spices of Algeria and Persia and Greece, and that these are clearly dishes conceived by a chef.

This cookbook is a collaboration between husband and wife team Chef Nabil Boumrar and Nutrition Consultant Caitlin Weeks, and Diane Sanfilippo. (Diane is one of my favorite people and the author of a book I turn to regularly, Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle.)  The more than 150 recipes in Mediterranean Paleo Cooking emphasize local seafood, pasture-raised lamb and chicken, fresh vegetables, bold spices, rich broths, and a deep love of food. The recipes are also adaptable for those following the autoimmune protocol, low-FODMAP, low-carb, SCD, GAPS, nut-free, and egg-free diets.

There is something here for everyone.

This Sunday, we are hosting a book event in honor of these authors at our kitchen studio on Vashon Island.

On Sunday, December 7th, from 11 am to 1 pm, come meet Nabil, Caitlin, and Diane, listen to their insights on food and healing, and talk with others interested in eating good food.

As part of the book event, Danny and I will be making food from the book. It’s part of the price of your ticket. Listen to this menu:

Shaved jicama salad with citrus vinaigrette
Roast garlic cauliflower hummus
Fig and ginger chicken tagine
Rosemary-garlic lamb breakfast sausage
Cinnamon and apricot breakfast cookies
Crepes with pomegranate sauce

The cost is $35.

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event. It’s a great holiday gift!

This event is limited to 35 people, so act fast.

 

To sign up for the event at Brown Paper Tickets, just click on this link

 

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