Tag Archives: gluten-free kitchen

How many crumbs would a wood table suck if a wood table could suck up crumbs?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably already have a sense of this, but let me remind you: I’m kind of an anxious person.

That said, I’m also a forgetful person. This combination means that sometimes I forget to be anxious until after something has already happened. It’s like my brain decides, “Hang on a second, I didn’t hear your heart racing. Let’s try that again.”

Throughout my school years, this tendency manifested itself in anxiety dreams about tests and report cards after I’d already received my grades. And, not to brag, but they were generally good ones—so what was I so worried about? Today, I keep up the tradition at work by hitting “send” on emails only to immediately scroll through them to check for typos or misaddressed salutations or other pernicious little errors—too late to take it back, but not too late to stress about it.

And, of course, if I run out of fodder for my after-the-fact fretting, there’s always gluten.

Take this recent example: my sister and I bought a table.

“What’s so stressful about that?,” you might ask (if you didn’t read the post’s title, that is; otherwise, you’ve probably already guessed, you smartypants, you). Here’s what’s stressful about that:

It’s a used table.

A used wooden table.

Now, a used wooden table is not in and of itself stressful. In fact, when my sister and I were at the store picking it out, I was quite relaxed. We spotted the table almost right away, so I didn’t have to worry we wouldn’t find one that day. We’d thought to take measurements of our kitchen before heading out, so I didn’t have to worry that it wouldn’t fit. We haggled down the price a bit and got some chairs thrown into the bargain, so I didn’t have to worry about price. And Salvation Army delivers—every few weeks, at least—so we didn’t have to worry about transport.

I didn’t even think to worry about gluten.

But yesterday, the table arrived (no returns allowed), and all of a sudden I thought to worry. People (including me) throw out wooden spoons and cutting boards after diagnosis, after all. How many times have you read that “wood is a porous material that can trap small amounts of gluten” (on sites like About.com). Wood is pretty much the first thing to go, after, you know, the sack of semolina you’ve been hoarding to make your own pasta with one day. And here I’d gone and introduced a big hunk of used wood right into my gluten-free kitchen sanctuary.

I thought it over. Just how much gluten could be in that table? Had its previous owners used it as a cutting board for bread, or rolled out cookies directly on its surface? Was there a baby in its former home who mashed her cereal—or Play-Doh—into its wooden grains? Did the family eat dumplings or empanadas or pierogies at this table? Pasta or pizza or pie dough? And how much of it, if so, would have gotten into the table itself? Was the table, even now, dropping crumbs onto the floor beneath it? (It didn’t seem to be…but gluten is small.) Would I gluten myself just by touching the table or eating at it? Should we leave it wrapped in the plastic in which it came? Or should I simply avoid eating at my own table? If I didn’t, would I steadily lose the gains I’ve made, and gain the antibodies I’ve lost?

In short: What. Had. We. Done?

I chewed my lip, wrung my hands, and ambushed my sister the moment she got home from work.

“We have a table!” she said, happily.

“Yeah!” I said, feigning cheeriness just for a moment. Then I dropped the ruse. “What if it has gluten on it?” I said.

My sister—clever, even-keeled sister—thought that one over for about half a second, and replied, “Well, we could just eat off of plates. And maybe use a tablecloth.”

Oh.

Right.

People use plates and tablecloths, don’t they? Somewhat regularly, even. Nice, comforting things, plates and tablecloths: things through which gluten—real or imaginary—cannot penetrate.

Feeling foolish, I nodded. “Yes, or placemats.”

“Placemats,” Althea agreed decisively. “I like that.”

With that, all my buyer’s remorse and postmortem nerves—suddenly as silly seeming as any of those report card nightmares in the light of day—evaporated.

Well, almost.

When buying secondhand, there’s always one thing left to worry about: that is, of course, bedbugs.

Indulge me with your thoughts on whether, say, an Udi’s cookie dropped onto a washed wooden table should be considered cross-contaminated, or tell me about the last time you made a mountain out of a molehill. Otherwise, have a worry-free weekend.

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My new gluten-free NYC apartment: a paean

My new apartment’s wonderful,
though not without its quirks.
We’ve everything we’ll ever need—
assuming that it works.

A fourth-floor walkup—healthy, right?—
ignore the crumbling stairs.
My bedroom is (still) windowless,
but meh—fresh air—who cares?

We’re not in Brooklyn, near our friends,
or even close to work—
and if we don’t get AC soon,
I think I’ll go beserk.

The stovetop and the water tap
don’t get—precisely—hot;
the dishwasher does not get things
as shining as it ought.

The toilet leaks, the ceiling squeaks,
the countertops are few—
but GF ears are thrilled to hear
“appliances are new.”

The neighbors keep the volume pumped
throughout the day and night—
but dinner’s safe, my roomie’s great,
and so I feel all right.

The walls may quake, the tiles break,
the fruit flies come to breed—
but everything is gluten-free,
and that’s all that I need.

*

Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here are a few. Yes, I was exaggerating for poetic effect (it wouldn’t be a New York apartment without a quirk or several). But I wasn’t kidding about the walkup. Every step of that is real, and my aching GF glutes are proof.

A messy workspace, just for us—with wooden spoons that it's okay to have because all the meals are gluten-free! And yes, that's a dishwasher, beloved of the neurotic and the gluten-phoboic, and a washer-dryer, which has nothing to do with gluten but is awesome.

A messy workspace, just for us—with wooden spoons that it’s okay to have because all the food in the house is gluten-free! And yes, that’s a dishwasher, beloved of the neurotic and the gluten-phoboic, and a washer-dryer, which has nothing to do with gluten but is awesome.

This is the pantry of someone who buys Chex by the carton. Not to mention bulk coffee (yes, I'm hooked again).

This is the pantry of someone who buys Chex by the carton. Not to mention bulk coffee (yes, I’m hooked again).

This is the beautiful, comfortable, more-expensive-than-anything-I'll-ever-be-able-to-afford-on-a-book-publishing-salary designer couch that I inherited when my office reorganized—and that my poor dad and coworker wrestled all the way up four flights of stairs only to find it was too large to fit through the hallway. It went home to Brooklyn in exchange for my old roommate's Ikea couch. Luckily tears are gluten-free, though I'm not sure crow is safe to eat.

This is the beautiful, comfortable, more-expensive-than-anything-I’ll-ever-be-able-to-afford-on-a-book-publishing-salary designer couch that I inherited when my office got reorganized—and that my poor dad and a helpful acquaintance wrestled all the way up four flights of stairs only to find it was in fact too large to fit through the hallway and into the door. It went home to Brooklyn in exchange for my former roommate’s Ikea couch. Luckily tears are gluten-free, though I’m not sure about all the crow I ate.

*

To those who sympathized when I bemoaned my loss of mess or worried that I’d be homeless right about now, thanks for the support. Maybe there’s a gluten-free dinner party in our future.

To those in New York:

a) You feel me on the quirks, right?
b) I’ve still got a whole bunch of tickets to give away to the Celebrate Celiac event this Saturday, so leave me a comment on my last post if you’d like to go, and I’ll get your name on the list. Until then, hope you’re holed up somewhere with an AC unit on high.

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