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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
In My Gluten-Free Kitchen: Erin of Gluten-Free Fun
Last year was a really rough year for me. After realizing my apartment was making me sick, I had to move out of my apartment of 6.5 years. This was my first apartment that I lived in on my own so it had special meaning, but I had to let it go. I moved out quickly because my health was literally at stake. I looked at over 50 apartments in the Astoria, NY area before finding a great apartment. And do you know what was a huge selling point for me??? My kitchen. Now a little over a year later, I am happier than ever in my apartment and I still love the kitchen. My previous apartment was a typical pre-war building with a strange layout. I had to walk through the bathroom to get to my kitchen. Not exactly a sanitary way to entertain, but I had no choice and this wasn't unusual for strange New York City apartment layouts. 

Now, my apartment is open to my living area/dining area and makes for a great place to congregate when having friends and family over. There is a countertop separating the kitchen from the room that I turned into the dining room. It is bright, airy, and really just a much cheerier place than my old kitchen. I love that I can cook and easily chat with friends while in the kitchen. 

Looking into my kitchen from my dining area

As someone living with Celiac Disease for more than 30 years, I am proud to say my kitchen is 100% gluten-free. There has never been gluten in my house since I moved in 13 months ago. Friends know better than to bring gluten here and the only food I buy is gluten-free. All of my utensils, cutting boards, and dishware are also gluten-free. 

I am a cereal fiend. I eat cereal for breakfast 4 or 5 days a week. I am always running late in the morning so while I am making a smoothie (see berries below) I am usually pouring a bowl of cereal. My favorites are Gluten-Free Rice Krispies and Rice Chex. A big part of NYC living is being creative with your space. I had this weird space between my fridge and the corner wall which used to be a dumb waiter in our building's hallway. With a simple piece of wood and a shelf left behind by the previous tenant, I made my toaster/cereal shelf. Check it out:

Ignore the microwave.
It's not dirty, it is a burn from an old roommate. :-)

A huge perk of living in a really diverse neighborhood like Astoria, Queens, NYC is the availability of fresh produce which are all naturally gluten-free. I have tons of wonderful fruit stands and veggie markets within a couple of blocks of my house. For those of you that don't know Astoria, it is the most diverse county in all of the United States! (Don't believe me?? Check out this National Geographic study!)  This makes for some really interesting food at these markets and I could spend a few hours each weekend just looking around and learning about new fruits and vegetables. Just last week I saw a market selling bok choy and nopales within feet of each other and turtles (yikes!), chicken feet, and tripe all at the butcher counter. Gotta love Queens!

Typical weekend shopping trip. All naturally gluten-free!
Tip: buy berries in bulk and freeze them for smoothies

While I really enjoy to cook, I am usually short on time during the week. Besides writing Gluten-Free Fun and Gluten-Free Globetrotter, running the NYC Celiac Meetup group and trying to maintain some sort of social life in NYC, I also have a full time job as a manager at an education software company. Whew! Tired??? Yeah, me too. I usually get home after 8pm every night and like to make quick dinners or defrost something I made over the weekend. Most Sundays you can find me rocking out to my iPod (my dock is that strange semi-circle thing on the corner of my counter) and cooking for hours. I usually make 2 or 3 different dishes and freeze things for the week. I will then eat those meals for lunch or dinner through my busy weeks. My freezer isn't organized and isn't pretty but it is usually jam packed with gluten-free food like Brown Rice Fiesta Salad, Lazy Girl Eggplant Parm, or one of my all time favorites, Impossibly Easy Bacon Pie

Don't judge the messy and frosty freezer! 

A great gluten-free staple to have on hand are San-J gluten-free sauces. I use these sauces with chicken, pork, beef,  veggies, quinoa, and so on. They are really versatile and really tasty. I can throw together a delicious dish in no time when I have these sauces nearby.

Can you tell I am a fan? 

While not necessarily in my kitchen, I have a HUGE collection of gluten-free cookbooks and books about Celiac in my next room over. One of the perks of being a blogger is reviewing cookbooks so my bookshelves are stocked with amazing recipes! 

See that green book on the bottom shelf? Good Food, Gluten Free? That book was printed in 1976 and was the cookbook that got my mom through the early years of having a celiac daughter in the 1980s. I'd like to think that is one of the first gluten-free cookbooks ever and probably worth something. I'm hanging on to that gluten-free relic!

A year ago, I was in a bad place both physically and emotionally. My home was making me sick and I needed to get out as soon as possible. This was really hard to deal with at the time, but looking back I had been sick in that old apartment for a very long time. Thirteen months later, I am happier than ever in my lovely apartment. My gluten-free kitchen is truly the heart of my apartment and I am excited to share it with you. Thanks for stopping by! 

Erin Smith, That's me!
Gluten-Free Fun
Gluten-Free Globetrotter

Originally posted on the Celiacs in the House blog in August 2012. 

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Blogger Unknown said...

Glad you were able to figure out what was making you so sick!
Nice gluten-free kitchen!! :)

Anonymous Cyn Rogalski said...

I was diagnosed with Celiac on August 25th this year. Are you near a Wegmans food store? They have developed their own brand of gluten-free foods, everything from pasta to yogurt to ice cream! I'm still having symptoms, even though I'm eating a gluten free diet--hoping my body settles down soon! Glad you're feeling better!

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