29 November 2010

Another Nano come and gone...

Okay, it looks like I'll be a little bit short this year on my nanowrimo challenge. How much short? Well, you need 50,000 words to cross the finish line, and the finish line is November 30th. Today, one day before the finish line, I'm 40,158 words SHORT.

I only made it to a bit under 10k because I got the glutening of a lifetime 3 weeks ago. I'm just starting to feel normal today. To anyone out there who thinks that just a wee bit of gluten won't hurt someone with celiac: let me tell you YOU ARE CRAZY. Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, I feel better. It is freezing cold outside, but sunny. There's a blue sky, and a pot of hot orange pekoe in the kitchen.


13 November 2010

Nanowrimo Midpoint

I'm almost halfway through Nanowrimo and I only have a bit over 9,000 words. Eeeek! That's around 700 words per day. Not a good pace. To help myself get motivated, I did what lots of writers do when faced with the need for a writing jumpstart: I headed to the office supply store! There's nothing like browsing through aisles of pens and pencils, sharpeners, erasers, ring binders, markers, file folders, sticky tabs, white out, rulers and office chairs to make a writer's heart sing. I bought two gel-ink pens (one fine tip, one medium tip) and whistled all the way home. In the olden olden days before I knew I had celiac, I would have also grabbed a chocolate-almond croissant and a hot chocolate. But these days, I have to stick to treats without the gluten (or sugar). So gel-ink pens are it.

Now, back to writing, and maybe some doodling in the margins. These gel-pens are awesome for cartooning......

11 November 2010

Finally Farinata...

Finally, I am getting around to posting my recipe and pictures of the farinata I've been making all year. Farinata, which means 'floured' in Italian, is made with gluten-free chick-pea flour. I grind my own beans into my own flour....but you don't have to. Just buy some finely ground chick pea flour from your grocery store, and go from there. Note that it may also be called: besan flour, ceci flour, garbanzo bean flour, or chickpea flour. If you want it gluten-free, then make sure it says gluten-free on the package...not all of the types of chickpea flour out there are gluten-free.

Okay, here we go:

The first thing you need to know is that the batter needs to rest for 2-3 hours. This resting period is necessary to let the flour ferment a little bit so that it is easier to digest.

The second thing you'll need to know is that you'll need a scale to weigh the flour. I know this sounds like a pain, but different flours have different weights. A cup of wheat flour does not equal a cup of bean flour.

Third thing: do not skimp on the amount of olive oil.

What you'll need:

-a shallow baking pan...like a jelly roll pan (it needs to have a lip around the edge at least 2 cm high)
300 grams finely ground chickpea flour
1 litre water (not hot water, cold is okay, room temperature is okay too)
2 big pinches salt
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
plus about 5 more tablespoons olive oil (or enough to coat the bottom of your baking pan)


Put the flour and salt into a big mixing bowl, and make a well in the flour like this:

Then using a whisk, whisk in the water. Whisk for about 2 minutes making sure there are no lumps. The batter will be rather thin and have lots of bubbles forming on the surface. Like this:

Cover the bowl of batter with a towel and let it rest.

After the resting period is finished, and you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200C.

Take a spoon and skim the bubbles off the top of the batter. Then whisk the batter one more time for about 30 seconds, and then skim those bubbles off too.

Now add 4 tablespoons of oil to the batter and whisk again.

When the oven reaches 200C, pour the rest of the olive oil into your pan enough to cover the bottom. And then place the pan in the oven for about 2 minutes. Watch the pan carefully, as soon as you can smell the olive oil, take the pan out and be careful because it will be hot.

Whisk the batter one more time, then carefully pour the batter into the hot pan filling it to about 1 cm

Carefully put the pan in the middle of the oven, making sure not to spill any.

Bake for 40 minutes and it should then look like this:

It should be golden brown and crispy.

Use a spatula to remove the farinata. Cut into squares, and eat immediately drizzled with olive oil, salt, and your favourite herbs such as thyme or oregano, or with ground black pepper.


09 November 2010

Got glutened :-(

Just need to vent and be grouchy:

I got glutened 4 days ago. If you are not familiar with the term "glutened", then consider yourself a very very lucky person. For the uninitiated, 'glutened' is an unofficial verb created by us celiac sufferers to describe the act of being unwittingly exposed to gluten. So, it is okay to say: I got glutened, I think I got glutened, that sounds like a glutening to me, etc.

Getting glutened is a big deal for me because it takes 10 full days to feel better. And a full 3 weeks until I'm back to normal. Yup. 10 days. And three weeks. In the meantime I feel like crud-on-a-stick. Plus I've got bruise-coloured bags under my eyes that scare people off because I look like I've got the plague or something.

I'm in the middle of nanowrimo, and this glutening is slowing me down considerably. Bah-humbug is all I can say.

I'm the most careful of eaters. The most careful. I can't stress this enough. I'm one of those people who is super-sensitive to the tiniest traces of gluten. So trust me when I say I'm careful about what I choose to eat. And yet I still get glutened. It is rare. But it happens. And there's nothing I can do about it. Except to endure.

So that's what I'm doing right now. Enduring. And trying to nanowrimo at the same time.

Bah-humbug again........

01 November 2010

Nanowrimo Day 1

Being a writer is a lonely endeavor at the best of times, but being a writer in a country where I don't understand or speak the language makes it doubly difficult to be a writer. Why? Because it is near impossible to go out and get writerly support in person. Oh, there are writers in Croatia. Tons of writers. Lots and lots of writers. Good ones too. Deep thinkers. Smart writers. But, they write in Croatian. And they have writer groups in Croatian. And they support eachother in Croatian. So the problem is all mine. Until I can fluently communicate in this language, I'm on my own.

It is day one of Nanowrimo. And I've got no write-ins to attend. There's nobody to meet up with at a coffee shop to compare notes, have a word war, or complain about not having enough hours in a day to do all the writing. I know that none of this should matter, and that a real writer writes and gets through this. Normally I'm pretty okay at pulling up my own bootstraps. But during Nanowrimo, I get to feeling a little isolated. Like Tiny Tim, with his face pressed up against the window of a house where good food and good friends and family and laughter are being served up. Only he's on the outside looking in.

Luckily I have online support. Lots of it.

Okay, enough moping around, I've got about 900 words to go to make my daily goal. Onwards and upwards!