Skip to main content

Gluten Free in the City of Angels

Santa Monica in February

Random Notes:: 

I've been back in New Mexico for a week - a week that has skidded by at an alarming rate (it's true what they tell you about time accelerating as you advance in years, I'm sorry to say). Monday morphed into Friday with nary a blink. I've been playing correspondence catch-up, shoveling snow, doing heaps of laundry, and sifting through e-mails. I slid through Valentine's Day with a yawn and a shiver and a rain check in spite of good intentions and an armful of  red roses. Steve and I are both nursing a cold- the first we've caught in three years. Memories of those balmy afternoons sipping vanilla lattes in Santa Monica are fading fast.

Albuquerque was dark and well below freezing when we boarded the plane to LAX. Two and a half hours later we were strolling the Santa Monica farmer's market in the morning sun, inhaling the ocean air, our winter jackets abandoned, tossed in the back seat of the rental car. It was lovely if not surreal.

After scoping out the nearby Wild Oats, Whole Foods, and Third Street Promenade, we headed up to The Grove to drop in on our son, Colin, who was teaching a class at The Studio/Creative Bar at the Apple Store.



The Food Issue::
We stayed at The Embassy Hotel and Apartments so that I could have a kitchen. I'm not adventurous when it comes to dining out. Truth is I waited five gluten-free years before I took the risk. Those of you who were undiagnosed for years understand. Flirting with celiac symptoms is not sexy. I'd rather eat rice cakes and peanut butter and be able to cruise the town without testing out every powder room between Hollister and the Miracle Mile. 

Luckily, in Los Angeles I had more choices than rice cakes.

I found plenty of things to stock the kitchen at Whole Foods and Wild Oats - gluten-free bread, Applegate Farms organic smoked turkey, beautiful cheeses, berries, Redbridge sorghum beer (my first gluten-free beer!) and even a decent frozen GF pizza shell we topped with spinach and jalapeno jack cheese. We broiled fresh salmon from Trader Joe's, and made roasted potatoes. We made blue corn nachos. Scrambled eggs with corn tortillas. Easy and good.

The best dinner out was at The Border Grill in Santa Monica- owned by the Too Hot Tamales. It was a quiet Sunday night (some kind of game was on?). After ordering some lip smacking top shelf margaritas and settling in with Colin for some getting caught up chit chat- nourished by blue tortilla chips and lime laced tomatillo salsa- hunky Chef Ishmael came to our table to discuss the meal preparation and offer his gluten-free recommendations from the menu. The chunky guacamole we shared was robust and authentic. I ordered the smoky-garlicky grilled shrimp and greens with rice. Babycakes, it was to die for. The best shrimp I have ever eaten. Seriously. And for dessert, there was flourless Aztec chocolate cake, aka melt-in-your-mouth chocolate orgasm. Yes. This was one happy and contented gluten free goddess. My heartfelt kudos and sigh-of-relief-thanks to Chef Ishmael for a not only safe, but fabulous meal-- You rock, dude!.



Our apartment view, the local surf report and Venice Beach.

Hangin'::
While Steve took meetings in Santa Monica and Culver City [Steve sold his first screenplay, this winter- did I mention that?] I got to hang with Colin, as he had the week off. We lunched safely vegan-style-- three times-- at Real Food Daily, once sitting next to one of my favorite actors, Alan Arkin - nominated for Little Miss Sunshine this year.

We shopped at
Wasteland on Melrose [both of us snagging several Diesel and LA designer bargains], sipped Jamba Juice, walked Venice Beach, talked about [Colin's] music, my impending artistic choices, movies we loved (and hated) this year. Not to mention, the various ironies and synchronicities of life.

To have one whole week to listen, to witness, to soak in the presence of your amazing twenty-four year old son is delicious beyond words.

 I came home well fed.



TRENDING

Sunbutter Cookies

Here's an easy gluten-free cookie recipe made with sunflower butter- a post-modern peanut-free take on those retro peanut butter cookies your Aunt Lizzie used to make. You know, with those jars of Skippy peanut butter (or was it Jif?). Instead of using traditional peanut butter in this recipe, I used sunflower butter, which has a golden nutty flavor not unlike peanut butter, but slightly different. Kinda like peanut butter's wacky, geeky brother. You know, slightly nutty. Fun. Like a bright new bike. And they taste so good you just might want some more. Now, please. I adapted this recipe from a peanut butter cookie recipe (submitted by Erin Smith) to Beyond Rice Cakes , an easy, fun cookbook (especially for teens and students) by Vanessa Maltin, director of outreach and programming at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness .

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Scones

Sconelicious. You heard me right. Because I know what you're craving.  I'm craving it, too. Something indulgent.  But not overly indulgent.  Sweet.  But not too sweet.  Something warm and tender, and laced with the autumnal spices you've been shaking and dashing and pinching with abandon.  Something using up that leftover half cup of pumpkin sitting in the fridge. Are you with me?  Are ya feelin' me?  Then let's get sconed. Karina xox

My Favorite Gluten-Free Pumpkin Recipes for Fall

My Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Recipes For Fall... The bittersweet, textured beauty of Autumn has always gripped my heartstrings, pulling me in deeper, connecting with some invisible part of me, so much more so than Spring. Much more so than summer's flirtatious pleasures. And Winter, well. She is a dark and icy mistress. That relationship has always been complicated. So unlike my truly, madly deeply love of Fall. Bake on, my friends. Tis the season for pumpkin. xox Karina

Gluten-Free Coconut Flour Apple Cake

As soon as I buy apples and start daydreaming about my favorite fall confections- imagining clear, cool evenings on Cape Cod and Miles Davis' haunting rendition of Autumn Leaves . September turns golden and sultry with a hint of rain, reeling me back into the closet to peel off my boyfriend jeans and fresh new flannel shirt. Faster than Gordon Ramsay can mock sashimi, Yours Truly is grabbing faded summer shorts and my favorite Patriots t-shirt to bake barefoot. See what I do for you? So go ahead, babycakes. Enjoy this new apple cake recipe. Share a slice or two amongst yourselves. Don't worry about me here in my hot little Hollywood apartment. Really. Go. Have some cake. You'll love it. Apple kisses, Karina xox

Pumpkin Polenta Recipe with Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

Vegetarian pumpkin polenta with salsa fresca. The first gifts of Fall have arrived. Time to dig out the Crock Pot and your favorite flannel shirt. If you can find it, that is. It's got to be around here somewhere, right? You used it wore it to death last year. Or was that the year before? The harvest moon is playing tricks with your memory again. The crows outside in the oak trees caw like the crows in tomorrow's dream. Days turn into weeks and lunch turns into next month's breakfast. Hours spill through worm holes of time like so many episodes of Lost . And the Buddha imagines the universe. And gets it close to right . We're talking atoms, people. Particles of teeny tiny specks of even tinier teenier fragments of a single point of something so small the naked eye perceives it as invisible. Yet the Buddha perceived this. In 528 BC. I ponder this as I walk in a stream of brittle bronze oak leaves. The succession of days that adds up to a life is only a

Best Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

We found canned organic pumpkin on the store shelves this week. So be prepared for pumpkin recipes. I, for one, Darling, can't get enough. Pumpkin is my favorite fall ingredient. Maybe because it cozies up to gluten-free flours so well. It adds moisture and depth to g-free baked goods. It flirts with cinnamon and ginger like the sexiest, inscrutable movie star. You know what I'm talking about. It's not overt. Or blatant. It's not over the top. It is subtle. Secure. Pumpkin doesn't demand to be admired. Because it doesn't have to prove itself. It's not a bully flavor that crushes gentler flavors in its wake. It doesn't bark and claw to be Top Dog 24/7. It doesn't have a deep seated need to own the room, to dominate, to control the ingredients it shares a bowl with. Pumpkin goes with the flow. It likes vanilla. And it likes chocolate. You could say, it's bi-flavorful. Which happens to be a quality I admire. Even embody and

Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions

Need wheat-free gluten-free baking tips? Help is Here. Here's what works- and what doesn't- in quirky Gluten-Free Baking and Substitution Land. From Karina, Gluten-Free Goddess®. Baking Substitutions for Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free and More Notes on GF Flours: Gluten-free non-wheat flours generally fall into three basic weights- light starch, all-purpose medium, or heavier whole grain. A blend of medium and heavy flours with some starch mixed in to lighten, tenderize, and help bind the batter or dough works best, and tastes best (too much starch can result in a gummy texture). Light, starchy GF flours include sweet rice flour, white rice flour, and the ubiquitous gluten-free starches- tapioca starch, cornstarch, potato starch (NOT potato flour, which is whole different animal) and arrowroot starch. Medium flours are akin to 'all purpose flour'- these include sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour, and superfine brown rice flour. If you cannot find sorg