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Curses! Just when you think you have the gluten-free diet down pat, some jerk food scientist sneaks up behind you and bites you in the ass. This time it was masquerading as the Easter Bunny. Insidious bastard.

Trader Joe's Jelly Beans have wheat!

Don't be fooled! Trader Joe's Jelly Beans have been kissed by the wheat-beast!

You wouldn’t think it, but the second ingredient in these Trader Joe’s jelly beans is “wheat syrup,” whatever that is. And I only found out after I’d eaten a handful. To add insult to injury, as much as I’d like to say it was my ever-vigilant self who discovered The Wheat-beast in the ingredient list, it was not. My husband absent-mindedly picked up the box and saw it. I thought they were safe. Boo.

Wheat syrup! What the!?

Wheat syrup! What the!?

See what I mean? This kerfuffle renews my distaste for Trader Joe’s. Not only have they betrayed me with their excessive packaging and their commitment to greenwashed foods, but now they’ve forced me to ingest The Beast in jelly bean form, on a holiday, no less. Boo, boo, and more boooooo.

French fries are BAD NEWS, bears. Oh, I used to think I could eat them, but where there are french fries, there are chicken wings, fried calamari, fried zucchini or mozzarella sticks polluting the fry oil. I dare you to find one restaurant that doesn’t fry anything wheaty in their fry oil (Actually, I can save you the trouble. It’s called Cafe Mediterra on 600-something S. Dearborn Street in Chi-town-is-my-town. Can you belieeeefff?! I quizzed the cooks, read the entire menu, and the only thing they fry are fries and falafels. So naturally I got both and they’re GOOD! The fries remind me of McDonald’s fries circa 1980. I don’t know how I feel about that. Wasn’t that at the height of their beef-fat frying days?)

The good news is that homemade french fries are infinitely better than any ‘straunt ones. When I was a kid, we’d make them all the time. The Greeks seem to be experts at it – most of the restaurants in Greece still serve real “patates tiganites” on their menus (as opposed to pre-processed disgusto bake-n-serv fries) and my yiayia made the best dern fries with nothing more than an inch of oil in a small soup pot (and potatoes, duh). Somehow those fries came out all super crispy and fab. So I am on a mission to find out what the heck kind of potatoes she used because recently my attempts at fries have been, well, soggy. So stay tuned! I’ve eliminated one type: baking potatoes. Sag-sog-tastic. Wohn wohn. If anyone has any suggestions, just holler. French fries must be had.

Inspired by the uber-gluteny loaf I made my main squeeze the other day (using Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread Recipe made famous by Mark Bittman… it’s a stroke of genius, that recipe is, though I’ve never had the pleasure of actually sampling it…) I’ve opened up the quest for the ideal gluten-free rustic loaf once again. I’ve had decent results with Gluten-Free Girl’s artisan bread in the past, but I want sourdough.

So gluten-free sourdough starter is pretty straightforward. Start with a large glass jar and add 1/2 c. water and mix in a 1/2 c. gf flour (any combination of teff, sorghum, brown rice). Cover the jar with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band and leave in a humid, somewhat warmish place (our laundry closet fits the bill). Each day, add 1 part water to 1 part flour and watch as the natural yeasty-beasties in the environment find and colonize your floury gloop. After 3-5 days, your starter will rise between feedings and start to smell sour. Mine went through a funky spell where it smelled like feet, then olives, then sourdough. Don’t be deterred by the initial stink. It’ll mellow into sour goodness.

I won’t waste your time by sharing the first recipe I tried to make the bread. It was pretty pathetic. I still have the lead-loaf sitting half-eaten in my fridge. The flavor was worthy, but the density was abominable. Here you can see what it looked like next to the LeahyWonderLoaf. Back to the drawing board I go.

Lead-loaf left, Lahey WonderLoaf right

Lead-loaf left, Lahey WonderLoaf right

PS. For all you wheat-eaters out there, you MUST MUST MUST try the Lahey/Bitman No-Knead Bread recipe. It is nothing short of miraculous: