Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Sportsman's Hotel

                                I wrote this piece many years back about a place of my childhood.  I just came across this old menu from the 70's at my parent's house.  It brought it all back.  Thought I'd post the pictures, and the piece.

            My parents and grandparents owned a well worn hotel in Northern California.  The five story,

brick building was the hot spot of a small potato farming community.  This was not a place to eat ice

cream and chicken salad on sparkling china.  This was a place to eat a steak sandwich and have a cold

beer.  Duck hunting season brought in droves of scruffy bearded men wearing mud-crusted boots.

           The hunters usually came in the evening and headed straight for the bar.  Enticed by the laughter and loud, twangy music, I tiptoed into the dark and mysterious room.
 The endless oak counter and towering stools held faceless strangers with booming voices.  The

bartender, Walt, smelling of liquor and old spice, crouched down to my level to say hello.   He handed

me a quarter and hoisted me up to the colorful, pulsating juke box.  I put the quarter in and asked him

to punch in “If You Happen to See the Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and “Song, Song Blue.”

            Early in the morning, the hunters staggered in to the coffee shop area, and seated themselves at one of the dozen short swivel seats lined up at the counter.  The waitress, dressed in a brown polyester uniform, poured hot steaming liquid into mugs.  Her nylons made a rustling noise each time she took a step.  The soft murmuring of the customers and the bark of the waitress calling out orders to the cook filled the air.  Bacon sizzled and popped like background music.

            While I waited for my breakfast special of double mashed potatoes and brown gravy, I watched the clock on the wall.  When the bright red dial hit number twelve, the picture on the base of the clock would fold down just like a mini blind and magically change.  Sometimes it would be a Coke advertisement, other times Sprite or a brand of cigarettes.  Next to the clock,  neon yellow and orange juices flowed down the sides of the glass-walled machines.  Once in a while they would bubble and churn as if alive.

            At lunch time, Mom and Dad sat with me in one of the booths in the coffee shop. 
The orange vinyl seats stuck to my legs, making a loud squeak when I slid in.  Each  booth

had an individual juke box.  Dad pumped change into the small chrome machine and  I

punched in selections.  The walls above the booths were lined with photographs of hunters

and their ducks.  My grandpa and dad were in most of them, wearing bright orange jackets.  They smiled, holding out the wings of the limp birds. 

            After eating lunch, I ran to the cashier’s counter at the front of the coffee shop.  The front of the counter was glass with lots of candy-covered shelves.  Juicy Fruit gum and Three Musketeers bars beckoned to me.  I watched Dotie, the cashier punch the silver buttons, making a “chunk, chunk” sound.  I waited for her to hit the red button, knowing it  would ring a bell and the drawer would open.  Dotie handed me round mint patties with silver wrappings.  She told me to save them for later, but I popped them right in my mouth, one after the other.  The soft mint coated my tongue and tickled my throat on the way down.

            The little farming town still exists today, though the old hotel burnt to the ground in the 1980s.  I wish I could go back to roam the familiar “play areas” of the past.  Wait a minute.  I just did!

Gluten Free Summer Guests?

I've been thinking about what a struggle it is for both the host and GF guest.  The host wants to please the guest...while all the GF guest wants to do is get through the night without getting sick.  Sometimes it's just easier to have the GF person bring their own food.  However, in the summer it's actually pretty easy.  Here is a food list and some tips to keep BBQ's and picnics GF.

Summer foods are among the easiest to make GF.  Here are some ideas:
1) Grill hamburgers or chicken without sauces or fillings.  I know the new thing is to add stuff to the hamburger meat.  That makes it unsafe!  Go for the plain.
2) Have Ice Berg Lettuce Leaves on hand to wrap the meat in, for a protein style burger.
3) Safeway Potato Salad is GF
4) Costco cooked chickens are GF and great for picnics and salads
5) Lays plain potato chips...can't go wrong
6) Fruit! Summer fruit is delicious and gluten free!  Watermelon, strawberries,'s all good.
7) Ice Cream.  If you avoid the "cookie" and "brownie" flavors, most ice cream is GF.
8) Most condiments are fine.
9) Hempler's hot dogs are a safe option
10) If you feel like you must get buns (no one would expect you too...I bring mine) go for Udi's which is found in most frozen natural sections of stores.

Now for the harder stuff.  Tips for keeping the GF food, GF.

1) If you are grilling other meats with added sauce or stuffing, grill the GF meat away from to the side
2) Look for high quality brands.  Really cheap ice cream or condiments can have fillers.
3) Clean fruit away from flour residue and don't sprinkle berries with sugar.  The likelihood that you contaminated your sugar with a measuring cup that had flour on it is high.  It's best to keep fruit sugar-free.
4) Squeezable condiments are best.  If you stick a knife into a jar of mayo and spread it on your bun and then stick the knife back in, you have just contaminated it.
5) Avoid most Hot dogs and sausages.  Some are GF and some aren't.  If you are not in the know, it's to complicated.
6) Don't make a big deal.  Most GF folks just want to discreetly eat what they can.  Pull them aside to ask about food.

Enjoy your Gluten Free Summer!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gluten Free Favorites: New and Revisited

These cookies are light, crunchy and sweetened with molasses and honey.  Great with tea!

Good for that potato chip urge without all the frying and fat

Naturally gluten free and the only thing I like better than chocolate, the apricot!  Got these at the COOP.  The organic ones are sooo good.

I get these at Costco by the truck load (like you get everything at Costco).  They are a great snack.

This is so rich and chocolate ice cream only no dairy and agave sweetened.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Little Bit Vintage, A Little Bit Gluten Free

Yes, much of my life is made just a little bit better with gluten free food and vintage thrifting and decorating.  Here's a little bit of what I've been doing in pictures.

Banana Bread for a book signing

A Little Vintage Pyrex ( I blog at
if you are interested!)

Mango Pear Salsa in a Vintage Pyrex bowl  Food is happier and more fun in vintage Pyrex.

Add caption

Vintage table cloth cheap and easy to's a vintage sheet!

Book signing at "Just for The Health of It!"

I love old thermos'!  The plaid is from a church rummage sale, and the stripe was $1.29 on Monday sale day at Goodwill.
Mother's Day with my three favorite Mom, Grandma and daughter.

Found this terrific suitcase at a church rummage sale for $2.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Gluten Free Shopping Tips

Looking for good deals and/or convenience in shopping for GF?  Here are some quick friendly tips!

1) Look for small shops in your area.  Support your local dealers who are usually friendly and willing to order in what you need. It's a good place for those hard to find items too. If you live in my area, check out "Just For the Health of It!" in Marysville or "Arlington Health Foods" in downtown Arlington.

2) Look for sales and deals at local chains.  I frequent Fred Meyer and check for weekly sale items.  They also have a club card that rewards you!

3) Join your local food coop.  I am a member of Skagit Food Coop.  They have sales and deals and if you are a vested member, you get money back at the end of the year!

4) Check online. is a place I order from at least twice a month.  Orders over $49 ship for free and there is no tax in most states.  Their prices are low and they have new things all the time.  They also ship fast!

5) Visit Mambo Sprouts on the web for coupons.  They change often and are full of GF deals.

6) Save $ buy making desserts yourself.  I use mixes once in awhile, but they are so expensive.  Find some great GF cookbooks and try out the recipes. 

7) Plan your meals ahead so you don't over buy.  It helps to plan ahead.

Hope this takes so of the stress out of your GF shopping!