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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chebe focaccia

chebe focaccia

I first tasted this lovely gluten-free focaccia on a bitter cold night in Breckenridge, Colorado. Lovely as the Chef's small hometown is, it didn't strike me, at first, as the hotbed of gluten-free eating. How wrong I was. Even the tiniest grocery store stocked items new to me on their spare shelves. We picked up a package of this and took it to the Chef's sister's house to make with dinner.

I've been buying packages ever since.

Chebe makes wonderfully decent mixes of gluten-free bread products. Their main flour is manioc, and the bread is meant to remind us of the Brazilian "pao de queijo" (the little cheese puffs I first encountered in New York, at Puff and Pao). With a slightly coarser texture than most gluten-free flours, manioc has a distinctive taste: slightly nutty, with a tiny tang. I love that Chebe has dedicated itself to only making mixes with this flour. They've cornered the manioc market.

I like the breadsticks. I haven't had the courage to try the cinnamon rolls yet, but other people have told me to stop being so silly. And the original bread mix, the one that makes the cheese puffs, works every time.

But I like the focaccia best. Yesterday, I spontaneously stirred up some batter from the package sitting in the cupboard, on the shelf above the coffee. When I pulled it warm out of the oven, the Chef remarked how good this chewy bread with a solid crunch on the edges would taste with a couple of eggs over easy. But we never made it that far. We just ate the entire little focaccia bread over the time it took us to read the newspaper, tearing off hunks of the fragrant herby snack and talking slowly. "This reminds me of good sausages," he said.

He's right.

I might just make some more tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

O.N.E. coconut water

coconut water

The internet cracks me up.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a little post on the original site about fruit salad. Tucked into the headnote of how to prepare the salad was a little description of coconut water:

The other day, I found a can of coconut water at one of my favorite grocery stores, and so I brought it home. It's light, barely sweet, so refreshing when cold. When I poured a bit over the fruit, everything seemed to come together more completely. It's not necessary, by any means, but you might like to try it too.

The next morning, when I woke up, I found an email from someone at O.N.E., saying she had read that little description and was delighted I liked coconut water. Would I like a case of theirs to try?

Now, I have to say, the alacrity with which this happened made me laugh. And I'm a little skeptical about free stuff. But the email was personal, and we were heading into the heat of summer. Sure, why not?

I had no idea how handy this coconut water would become.

Before the Chef and I went to the hospital to meet Little Bean, we packed a cooler full of food and drinks. I had been told we wouldn't be able to find gluten-free food from the hospital dining service. (This was erroneous information. They had a gluten-free menu.) So we planned ahead. On the hottest days of the summer, I had drunk a couple of the coconut waters. Everything felt refreshed in me. So we packed the last of the case in the cooler.

After my surgery, I heaved with nausea at times. The iv drip hurt my hand. I felt woozy and in pain. As soon as I remembered the electrolytes in the coconut water, I asked for one. Ten minutes later, I felt clear again.

And in the succeeding days, when everything felt woozy and in pain, while we stayed with our daughter in the ICU, I drank the remaining coconut waters, trying to be well.

I won't say these healed me. They just felt cold and good against my lips. There wasn't much pleasure to those days. Drinking these was one of the few sensory moments that remains untouched with fear.

They may have sent me a free case, but I'm buying more for myself.