Tuesday, November 27, 2007

MetroCeliacs October Pot Luck Meet & Greet

MetroCeliacs October Pot Luck Meet and Greet at Whole Foods

Our October event was a Pot Luck held at the Whole Foods on Ashland, our frequent meeting site as they are so supportive and accommodating. Sometimes all the stars align and an event goes as planned, with an outcome that is even better than expected. That certainly happened here. Often times, people see pot luck and, “eek! what am I going to make???” runs through their heads and they scramble to plan something, stress and then end up just buying a package of something dessert-y on the way there. Or, wait, is that just me? Well, this event had such a broad range of dishes – from appetizers, entrees and desserts to wonderful sides – that everyone left full, happy and impressed (and I know that was not just me!). The crowd was comprised of a lot of our regulars and a slew of newbies, which is always exciting for everyone. We had complicated GF recipes, easy GF recipes and modified-to-be-GF "regular" recipes, what more could we have asked for? Oh, I know, how about some donated GF products from Whole Foods and S’Better Farms? Yeah, who doesn’t love Whole Foods’ baked goods, the crackers they sell and, of course, products from our friend Scott Mandell at Enjoy Life Foods? In addition, we had the best corn dogs ever from Brian Gurin at S’Better Farms. I highly recommend them and the frozen dinners (chicken galore) he donated were also just wonderful. We are awaiting reviews on his pastas, which we had no way to make at this particular event. Thanks to everyone who donated to our meeting!!!!!

Let’s just get this out of the way. I wanted to participate in the pot luck and bring some dish that I labored over for hours, I really did. Anyone who knows me, though, would have been to scared to try it, so rather than risk that, I just brought Chavrie Goat Cheese, which I baked in a pan/dish/foil thing with Marinara Sauce and served with Scoops chips. That’s all I got. Tanya, MetroCeliacs’ other fearless leader, brought her famous, coerced by me at almost any opportunity, O’Henry (or, as I call them, O’MYGOSHTHESEAREAMAZING) bars. As usual, I was face down in the pan by the end of the evening. They are always so very well received. Fortunately, or unfortunately if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, everything that we had at the event was flavorful, had a wonderful texture and was just absolutely delicious. Not a dud in the bunch. We even had enough for everyone to take home some samples of things they liked or else did not get to try due to the aforementioned eye/stomach dilemma.

We started the evening by taking pictures of everyone with their respective dishes…so we know what to request should we ever need treats at a future meeting…hmmmm, I was kidding til I realized that is actually a good idea. Then we made sure everyone had our upcoming events calendar and some other handouts as well as all the recipes.

Now, in addition to being challenged in the kitchen, I am also a bit, well, slow when it comes to technology, so I am going to try post pictures of what everyone made with the event pictures. Then, in a separate blog entry, I will attempt (drum roll please) to post the recipes that were emailed to me (all without a net!). They are also available upon request if you email MetroCeliacs@yahoo.com and let me know which ones you would like.

After we got things settled with the paperwork, put things in the oven and set up the rest of the food mostly by genre, we went around the room and introduced ourselves, telling a little about the dish we brought. Then there was a short little speech by Tanya and myself where we just said who we were and what we do -- for those who were new -- and we talked about upcoming events. We also welcomed any ideas or suggestions for Supper Club places, speakers or topics for future meetings. THEN we got down to the serious business of eating and conversing. The group was lively and we all tried bits of everything, marveling at how the various recipes went well together, how we had all the major parts of a meal represented and how much work everyone did to make this event a success, and a success it was!!!

We are so grateful to Whole Foods, S’Better Farms, Enjoy Life Foods and to each and every member who contributed to our amazing evening. I remember it fondly and often when I am eating peanut butter M&Ms for lunch at work.

Here comes the best part...I hope you ate before you go any further...

Amy's special Corn Bread BBQ pizza
Equal parts tangy and sweet, this is a pizza that satisfies the most diehard BBQ fans as well. The cheese blends the flavors and right when you are finished with a slice, it kicks in and you want more. Amy always contributes something impossible to resist.

Speaking of equal parts tangy and sweet, oh, and cornbread...You would think Nancy is a Texan with this moist, light and smooth cornbread! It was the most surprising dish because cornbread can really be grainy and this was smooth as silk, if silk was made of cornflour. I actually ate it with Amy's pizza and it was the perfect complement to that as well.

Ann and Steve, oh Ann and Steve...Is there nothing Ann cannot do? She contributed her pizza and we had to ask more than once if she was sure it was gluten free? mmmmmmm.... A thin crust that stayed crisp and the toppings varied but were all equally delicious and equally devoured.

The pan says it all, we totally "heart" Jennifer's stuffing and delicious pie. Both treats were moist and rich and soft, displayed with flourish by her dad, a totally good sport. It was honestly stuffing like I remember it being BGF (before gluten free). The pie, well look at it, it speaks for itself. It spoke directly to me a number of times!

Leave it to Steve and Nicole to add some exotic fla-vah to our little group. They brought Cheese Puffs A La Manioc, a brazilian recipe. They were crisp on the outside and doughy and moist and stretchy on the inside. The perfect side dish dinner roll, just the right hint of cheese to make it interesting.

Speaking of spicing things up internationally, what could do that better than curry? Katie and her husband brought a very exciting Chicken Curry and Rice dish. I ate them individually because I was overwhelmed by everything on my plate and they each stand alone very well. Then I was told, you put them together and it is a complete taste explosion, a spice, texture and flavor extravaganza. I finally got it right and it lived up to the hype.

Around this time of year, the right blend spices and texture just says "Fall" and nothing exemplifies that more than some hearty homemade applesauce. Becky was nice enough to bring a big bowl of the most delicious applesauce with big chunks of apples. The apples were so varied, I had not heard of half of them, and it was really exciting to have that mix of sweet and tart and smooth and crunchy. A perfect Fall side dish and also a light and delicious dessert.

One of the best foods in the world is, in my opinion, mashed potatoes. Now, you might think, easy peasy, but Lindsay took an old standard and made it new and just delicious. These were Parmesan Mashed Potatoes and they were mashed and then baked. We had them right out of the oven and when you added the cheese to the potatoes, it was kind of crispy and chewy and stretchy and the potatoes were soft and brought out the cheese flavors. You can't really go wrong with a cheese and potato combo, and this one is sure to energize a normal side of potatoes at any event. Huge fan of this dish and it is easy enough that even I would try it. She did not post with it, so sorry about the dark shot of her, it does not do her or her tasty treat justice.
Speaking of tasty treats and justice, there is no justice in the world that these cookies are possible and all the ones I have ever made have to be classified as "cajun". We had these delicious chocolate chip cookies and 7-layer bars, but without the layers of gluten. The cookies were really good. It is easy to fear cookies because of some of the store brands' aftertaste and weird textures. These were cookies like grandma used to make (if you come from a family that cooks, that is...). The Layer Bars had coconut, so once that info was out there, nothing else really registered for me and I just started piling them on my plate. They were really moist and chewy as well and had that coconut consistency and other subtle flavors that really enhanced the coconut. Both treats were big hits.

There was a lot of socializing, even more eating and second- and third-round-ing, and then we wrapped up some leftovers for people, sent along some of the Whole Foods and S'Better products out to be tested and reviewed, so the rest of the leftovers, what there was of them, got claimed and taken home to be enjoyed again. It was a completely satisfying and delightful evening and we look forward to doing it again in the coming months of the New Year. Thank you to all of the participants. We so appreciate your hard work. I am going to attempt to post the recipes in another blog entry. Otherwise, I can email the word version at your request MetroCeliacs@yahoo.com
Thanks again!
Jenny and Tanya

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