Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When the Emperor was Divine

Book Review

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka

I did not know this book existed. Not until I picked up Buddha in the Attic, the second novel from Otsuka.

It was on the back cover of that book that I learned about this book. And that blurb indicated that "Buddha" was a followup or follow-on or something book to "Emperor".

So, I looked it up on Wikipedia to try and figure out if I needed to read "Emperor" before reading "Buddha". I looked and searched and scoured.

I never did figure it out.

But I got "Emperor" anyways and read it first. Now, I will just have to request "Buddha" again and wait all over again.

Isn't there some bizzare saying about a virtue and patience?

When the Emperor was Divine

This is a novel about the Japanese internment after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and during World War II. It highlights a Japanese-American family and their life before, during, and after their internment.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blue Diamond Nut-Thins Crackers

Good Crackers are Hard to Come By

Not all gluten-free crackers are worth eating. I know. I've had to learn the hard way.

Several years ago, back when I was still quite gluten-free-naive, I invited some friends over for an afternoon and dinner.  I put out a couple of different gluten-free crackers and cheese, and some dipping vegetables.

One of those types gluten-free crackers were untested. I had never tried them.

Big mistake. Always, always, always, try your gluten-free products before offering them to guests. Always.

This time I hadn't.

One of my guests was eating one of these particular, untried gluten-free crackers.  She asked me something about them, and she wasn't smiling. Immediately, I suspected the worst.

I grabbed one off the plate and tested a nibble of it.

Those gluten-free crackers didn't taste like cardboard. They tasted like dried tree bark. Because cardboard is too thick. Either way, they were awful!

I immediately grabbed all of those horrible gluten-free crackers and threw them in the trash. They weren't even compost pile worthy! I wouldn't dream of adding something that awful to my compost.

Luckily, I had some of these Blue Diamond Nut-Thins on hand and they saved the day!

Blue Diamond Nut-Thins

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'll Walk Alone

Book Review

I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark

I had never heard of Mary Higgins Clark and I had no idea what her books might be like. But this one was sitting there, on the large print library shelf, staring back at me.

And I didn't have many other options right then in large print that were more interesting.

Basically, I took a chance. I judged it by the cover. I decided that it looked more likely to be okay than something more fluffy and sappy looking.

I risked it all and brought it home.

I'll Walk Alone

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gluten-Free Croutons and Chicken Caesar Salad

Gluten-Free Croutons

There's no need to fret over croutons if you are gluten-free. They are so easy to make. All you need is some gluten-free bread, any kind will do, and twenty or thirty minutes.

Just dice up the gluten-free bread and place in a bowl.

Here I used three slices Udi's Gluten-Free Multi-Grain Bread. This bread tastes good, but a single slice is pretty small. It is just barely larger than a quarter of a regular whole grain slice.

But the size of the slices doesn't matter when you are just going to dice them up anyways.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Scarlet Letter

Book Review

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I never had this on any of my reading lists for school. Ever. Not middle school. Not high school. Not college. Not ever.

So here I am, an adult who had absolutely no idea what this book was about or that it is often considered one of Hawthorne's best works.

What was I reading during all those English classes?

Shakespeare. I got a fair dose of Shakespeare in high school and loved it. But beyond that, I don't know. Those anthologies of literature left little impression on me. Except maybe The Pearl and The Gift of the Magi.

Ah. And To Kill a Mockingbird. That left an impression. But that wasn't in an anthology.

Then in college, there were Beloved and We have Always Lived in the Castle. I didn't like these as much, but they certainly left impressions.

But there is so much more than just these.

Hence, my desire to fill in the enormous gaps. Hence, The Scarlet Letter.

The Scarlet Letter

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gluten-Free Valentine Shortbread Cookies

Valentines for Everyone

I started making these cookies years and years ago for Valentine's Day. They were cute. They were yummy.

And they were full of gluten.

After I had to become gluten-free, I didn't make these cookies for a few years. I didn't know how to make them without gluten.

Then, a couple of years ago, I tried experimenting with different flours and recipes. Here's what I've come up with.

And now, there is no reason why us gluten-free eaters can't have our Valentine cookies too!

Gluten-Free Valentine Shortbread Cookies

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope

Book Review

Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly

I knew this book was coming out. I had followed the story of Gabrielle Giffords being shot and her recovery through the stories presented by the media. But with their own book now available, I was curious to learn what wasn't being shared with the media or what the media wasn't sharing with the public.

I was curious.

I'm also interested in just about all things "astronaut". Mark Kelly is an astronaut. Or he was until he retired last year.

I wanted to know more.

Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sushi and Gluten-Free Thai Peanut Sauce

San-J Gluten-Free Thai Peanut Sauce

We had plans to watch the Supper Bowl during supper, but we knew we didn't want the typical party fare.

Really, I know the name of the game and we don't usually call our third meal of the day "supper". But my grandmother did.

Anyways, I started thinking hard. What would we all want to eat that was healthier than the standard offerings? And that we would want to eat during a football game and its commercials?

Something different. Not standard. Something we don't usually make due to lack of time.

Ah ha! That one is easy.


Making sushi requires a lot of time and preparation. But as soon as I mentioned it to my family, there was no looking back. We all love sushi!

But in addition to sushi, I wanted to make some spring rolls, since I have a new love.

San-J Gluten-Free Thai Peanut Sauce.

This stuff is divine. I wanted those spring rolls so that I would have something to dip into my gluten-free peanut sauce!

Here are a few of the spring rolls that we made.

Inside of each rice paper roll is shrimp, green onion, cilantro, lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumber, and some radish. These were very tasty, especially dipped in the gluten-free peanut sauce.

This peanut sauce also makes a great salad dressing. A little leftover chicken, lettuce, shaved carrots, roasted cashews, gluten-free peanut sauce and you've got yourself a great little salad.

Sashimi and Sushi

Monday, February 6, 2012


Book Review

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I was browsing the online listing of new books sometime back in December and I came across mention of this book. I was immediately curious.

We had just watched the Hugo movie, which was based on Selznick's first book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. We all enjoyed both the book and the movie.

And it looked like he had created another "picture novel". A novel written in both words and pictures.

I wanted to read it.

But it wasn't available yet. I had to request it. And I had to wait.

And wait I did. I just hoped it wouldn't be waiting for me while we were traveling for the holidays. But wait for it, I must.

Ultimately, I got lucky. It came in after we returned from our travels. Perfect!


Friday, February 3, 2012

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse

Gluten-Free Menus

Things are looking up. It is getting easier for those of us who need to be gluten-free to eat out safely.

It used to be hard enough to find a restaurant with a gluten-free menu.

Then, once you found a restaurant with a gluten-free menu, the menu often only offered salads with one safe dressing and meat, but only when ordered with no seasonings. This was because restaurants often have their own "signature" seasonings, which are kept from clumping together by adding wheat flour.

But things are getting better.

More recently, some of the restaurants have started offering more gluten-free salad dressings, more meat and seasoning offerings, and even a dessert or two!

Now things are even better yet.

Now, a few restaurant chains are leading the way for us by offering gluten-free pizza, gluten-free pasta dishes, gluten-free salads, gluten-free soups, gluten-free meat and veggie combos, and even gluten-free desserts! And more than just a scoop of ice cream, too!

BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Illustrated Longitude

Book Review

The Illustrated Longitude by Dava Sobel and William J. H. Andrewes

I had already read Sobel's "Galileo's Daughter" and liked it. Sobel is a writer than can take some bits of history and turn it into a story worth reading.

I had wanted to read her book "Longitude", but then found that an illustrated version was available.

That sounded just like what I needed.

And it is a good thing I chose the illustrated version. Like the cliché says, "a picture is worth a thousand words."

The Illustrated Longitude