Wednesday, June 23, 2010

25th birthday: the planning and shopping

i decided that i wanted to have chicago style hot dogs (i ranted about their gloriousness in a previous post), baked beans, potato salad and chocolate cake for my birthday party.  i have not had a birthday party in 6 years.  i have not had my own birthday cake in 4 years.

my first step was to find the perfect recipes.
the cake
the beans
the potato salad

then, hunt for the ingredients.

on thursday, i met up with ash downtown after she got out of work and we stopped at trader joe's.  it was only my second time in a trader joe's and i was very disappointed by their gluten free selection.  i was confounded by their labeling.  a friend had brought me some chips from there a few weeks ago and i couldn't tell if they were safe to eat.  i found this same type of labeling on other products.  i asked an employee, who promptly took me to the customer service desk.  they treated me like i was complaining, not asking for clarification.  we determined that i am able to eat the products in question and that they had none of the items we were looking for for the party.  we bought some new gluten free things for me to try: frozen pancakes (soggy but yummy), taquitos (just had them for breakfast, they were pretty good), mac and cheese (also decent), and a couple of granola bars (i ate one right away and gave the other to a woman who was begging for money for food).

we left and went to whole foods a few blocks away.  i was also pretty disappointed by their selection, but, we at least found a few things that we needed.  we got grass fed beef hot dogs, for the refined tastes of my friends, as well as tofu pups, which were the only vegetarian hot dogs without gluten ingredients.   we did manage to find the flour that i wanted to use for the cake, the ghirardelli chocolate powder and chips, and some cereal to stock up on.  they did not have the much needed gluten free hot dog buns.

by the time we got home, devon market was closed.  the rest of the shopping would have to wait.  i still had to find the buns.  it wouldn't be right to have hot dogs without buns on my birthday!

on friday, i had occupational therapy for my wrist.  this put me in evanston, near two whole foods, which might or might not have the coveted hot dog buns.  then, i remembered rose's wheat free bakery and cafe!  i had attempted to go there once two years ago, all the way from pilsen.  after nearly two hours on public transportation, i found they were closed when i got there, even though the website had said they'd be open.  i think i had written them off as unreliable and out of the way.

i wrote down their information and called as soon as i was done with o.t.  a woman answered after a few rings and i asked "do you have gluten free hot dog buns?"  she said they usually have to be ordered in advance but she'd look.  she came back to the phone and said she had a bag.  i didn't ask the price.  i didn't ask how many.  i just said "it would make my day if they were still there when i got there within the hour!"  she took my name and i started on the trek over.

(since the bun split in half when ash tried to cut it, i felt the need to hollow it out before putting the toppings on.)

i got an iced coffee from the dunkin doughnuts in the davis station and took the train up to central.  i knew there was a bus that would take me to the bakery, but i felt like these buns had to be earned.  to me, they were a holy grail that could only be claimed after a trying quest.  that said, i walked the mile there.  it felt a lot longer with the 85 degrees, sunshine, and fast cars.  the coffee was done when i got there and i was thoroughly hungry.

i saw pizzas, sandwiches, brownies, cupcakes...  i settled on pesto chicken on a pita.  it was mouthwatering goodness.  the pita had the right texture, smell, taste, and consistency.  i know this because i touched it and smelled it before i tasted it and chewed it.  and of course i took a picture of it before i even touched it.  i ate slowly, enjoying every minute and wishing the serving was bigger.  when i was done, i went to the counter to thank them for the wonderful meal.  i ended up talking with the manager and exchanging restaurant tips.  i left full, with a sense of community, and a smile on my face.

i had planned to head to one of the whole foods next, in search of our favorite pizza crusts and pie crusts for a friend.  the weather had other plans.  a storm came in quickly and when i finally found the bus stop i decided that heading straight home would be best.  it was a journey in it's own right; i really earned those buns and that meal and probably one of the brownies that i didn't buy.

that night, we got the rest of the things we needed from devon market, which is not an integral part of the quest...


  1. Agreed on Trader Joes. They do have a gluten free list but all the items are naturally gluten free. I wanted something that I couldnt normally have - like pasta, pizza, etc. I am surprised you didnt have better luck with Whole Foods. I got a lot of good stuff there.
    My favorite was making gluten-free waffles. Pamela's mix is awesome. And because they are thin (unlike pancakes) they dont have the weird texture. I dont like Bob's Mill for mixes, although WF 365 mixes are good, as are most of the gluten free pantry's. While ridiculously expensive, gluten free pretzels made my year.

  2. i have been told that trader joe's has good brownie mix, and there are surely other quality items. unfortunately they have overly confusing labels and none of the items that we needed for the party. whole foods has lots of other things that we get, like tinkyada and quinoa noodles, but i didn't mention those. i also find that true nature, new leaf and some jewels have some of my favorites for cheaper, not to mention that i prefer to support localy owned businesses.
    i have not had homemade waffles because i don't have a waffle iron! i used to get van's but they removed egg and dairy from their gluten free line and i don't like them much anymore. now we get mesa sunrise by nature's path. they're good but not as good as the old van's!
    i don't think i've used pamela's for anything yet. i prefer gf pantry for my white bread mix and stear clear of most of bob's red mill, we do like their pancakes and their all purposed flour for frying. bob's has too much grabanzo bean in the biscuit and bread mixes. i've used WF365 a few times and thought their white bread mix was good. i really want to try better batter, which i haven't seen in a store but found somewhere online.
    glutino pretzels are the bomb!