Letting go. It is a concept which seems innately tied to this time of year. Parents are learning to let go of tiny hands at pre-K and kindergarten classroom doors; slightly more seasoned parents are learning to let go of teenagers who have swapped their place at the family dinner table for a dorm room they now call home. We teachers are letting go too; we’re learning to let go of the students, routines, and sometimes even the classrooms, which we held near and dear just a few months ago. Even Mother Nature joins in solidarity as the trees start letting go of their leaves. There’s a sadness in letting go, and often a degree of pain, but there’s profound beauty in it too; I mean, just look around at the trees in the coming weeks.
It’s back: I have a case of the Sundays. Teachers of the world, you know what I’m talking about. It’s the sickening feeling that sets in around 4:30 on Sunday afternoon when you realize that the pile of grading from Friday has remained in your bag untouched, the beautiful/informative/engaging presentation of the newest complex material is still floating around in your mind rather than displayed on a multimedia platform (which of course must then be uploaded to the class websites that are now required in most schools), the laundry is still piled away and the floor is unswept. Yes, as quickly as it came, summer is now over. I looked at a calendar today thinking it couldn’t possibly be true. Where did those 9 weeks of freedom disappear to?? Then I looked at my planner and it became pretty clear: 1.5 weeks were spent recuperating from shingles while the remainder of the 2nd were spent at follow-up doctor visits; 3 weeks were then spent working summer school in an effort to fund a failing car and a possible trip across the ocean to make my fiance’s 4-month absence a little less daunting; 1 week was spent at a conference discussing ways to lead teenagers closer to Christ in a world which seems constantly seems to be pushing him farther away; 1 was spent visiting 2 different families; add weekly tutoring sessions and wedding planning into the mix: well, it’s no surprise that I blinked and it’s over.
I will admit I’m in a much better state than I was on that day in June when the final bell rang (literally I was home on the couch with shingles) but I’m nowhere near the bright-eyed, well-rested, totally-organized version of myself that I envisioned I would be by now. And yet, ready or not, the children return to us this week. Now, non-teacher friends, please don’t read this and roll your eyes and think, “Here we go, another teacher whining about her job”. I promise that’s not what this is. I love my job. I can also guarantee that 90% of the teachers you’ve heard “whining” over the past 2 weeks love their jobs too. We are lucky: we have a job that matters and a job we love. We are excited to get back in there and meet our new kids and share laughter, love, and memories with them. It’s just there is a loss that comes with the beginning of a new school year; it’s one that you don’t understand until you become a teacher and it’s why, if given the choice, most of us would fast forward right to early October and leave September in the rearview mirror.
The loss is twofold: first, it’s the loss of self. Literally from the hours of 7:30-3:30, I am not Katie. I am Miss Burke and every minute of my day belongs to someone else: students, parents, colleagues, etc. Teachers are at school for a week before the students arrive and we sit in meetings where we are constantly told how one warning sign or one conversation could have saved a child, prevented a shooting, made all the difference in the world, and thus we are to act like each and every interaction in our day is that moment. On a typical school day, we are of course bombarded with questions about our content area, our grading scheme, our homework policy, etc. but we also keep record of allergies in our room at a given moment, the correct escape route for fire drill versus a weather emergency, and the proper shelter-in-place location for a lockdown. Our cell phone must remain on our person at all times and it is our responsibility to stop and question anyone on-campus without a visitor badge. We are required to post homework and grades each week and cannot let more than 24 hours lapse before responding to a parent email (when there are 100 different students on our roster). Even during the brief moments of solitude while walking to lunch or another classroom, we are counseling students, offering them a smile, laughing at their jokes, etc. Again, let me reiterate: I love these moments. I love everything about my job, except the emails and lockdown drills. It’s just a lot to jump back into overnight. Once we get into the routine, we’re fine. It’s just the initial jump is a lot like running a marathon when you’ve only been running 5Ks for a few weeks. Once October hits, we’re smiling ear to ear again: it’s just September that passes by in a blur.
Second, it’s the loss of last year. It’s hard enough to bounce back into the school routine in September, but what’s harder is that it’s not the same routine as it was in June. Those students we poured our time, heart, and soul into for almost 200 days last school year are gone. They’re down the hall in a new classroom, a little taller and a little tanner, falling in love with someone new. I may have been the one who taught her how to read, the one who comforted her when she caught the stomach flu halfway through the schoolday last January, the one who let her cry over a broken heart last April…but now she spends her days with someone else. And I have another classroom filled with new faces. These are the faces someone else loved and cared for last year, the faces someone else is mourning today, and now they are mine. I am lucky to have them, and grateful…I’ll pour my heart and soul into them this year too. It just takes a few days to make the shift. Again, by October we’re smooth sailing. My current students have become my world and my former students wave from across the hall, smile across the cafeteria, or stop in on a Tuesday afternoon to catch me up on their lives…and I am reminded that I was blessed to be simply a stop on their journey toward the wonderful people they are becoming.
So, fellow teachers: No, this week won’t be easy. And you know as well as I do that the 2 after this one will be even more challenging (the first week at least has that well-organized, well-rested energy going for it!). But we’re in this together, and the kids are dealing with the same exact feelings we are. We will all get it through it together with a little bit of love and a whole lot of faith. Non-teacher friends, be patient with us and with your kids for the next few weeks. Imagine starting a whole new job every single year. That’s practically what happens to teachers AND students every August. Give us (again, teachers AND students) extra hugs and smiles…and please don’t roll your eyes and tell us that at least we had a summer vacation. We know we did. And we’re grateful for it. But we also needed it to prepare ourselves for this month of starting over once again. Not to mention, most of us still don’t get paid enough to work only one job. We wouldn’t still be teachers if it weren’t something we loved with all our hearts.
In an effort to simplify your life (or at least your mornings for the next few weeks), plan ahead. Make some you-safe muffins, put them in the freezer, and you have a delicious/easy-to-prepare solution for breakfast for the next few weeks!
|You should also have fruit or a side of bacon…it’s a long time until lunch after all!|
I think one of the hardest aspects of a diagnosis like celiac or a food allergy is the finality of it all. At first you’re just so grateful to have an answer and relieved that it wasn’t one of the other seemingly-more-frightening options tossed around as a diagnosis. However, in time, that relief gives way to an overwhelming sense of “Wait, this is forever? Like forever forever??”Again, the feeling passes, you gain confidence in yourself and in your new lifestyle…and yet some time down the road, that “Wait, forever?” feeling comes out of nowhere and hits you like a ton of bricks. Now, at this point I’m sure there’s a good chance you’re thinking, Gee, Katie, thanks for the pick-me-up post today. I promise isn’t one of those rare downer posts…rather, it’s a reminder and an assurance that you’re not alone in having thoughts like these. And I don’t think it’s restricted to just food issues either.
|I’m very blessed when it comes to the friend department 🙂|
|Here’s my newest go-to comfort food.
So expensive…but SO Delicious!
If you’ve encountered me in real life, you know that smiling is one of my favorite things to do. I’ll admit I didn’t even realize how often I smile, or how much I enjoy it until this past spring when I had stitches in my mouth for a few days and couldn’t smile. Even my students commented on how sad it was when an entire class passed without a smile on my face. When that class turned into 3 days, they were nearly at their wits’ end. I’m pretty sure I smiled more than double the next 2 days, partially because of my own excitement, but also to reassure them that my smile hadn’t vanished forever.
Now, those of you who are dealing with food/health issues and haven’t been feeling the greatest, your smiles may be weaker and fewer in number these days…but, take it from me, when you reach that turning point on your road to health, the smile will return with a vengeance! However, inevitably such smiles bring us to our favorite place: the dentist’s office. Now this is a topic I’ve referenced and said I’d come back to multiple times…and somehow I never do. Well, today is the day. I’ve had quite a 10-week relationship with the dentist and there is just so much information that needs to be shared. If I can help just one person avoid a gluten-filled dentist visit, I’ll feel like my suffering has not been in vain 🙂
|Courtesy of bestsayingsquotes.com|
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up LOVING the dentist. Granted, I think it was in large part due to my perfectionist streak as a child. It was kind of like report card day…the nervous anticipation in the waiting room: will it be another cavity-free visit?? Will the perfect streak continue?? And you walk away with a brand new toothbrush. I mean, really, does it get much better than that when you’re a type-A 9-year-old? Aside from a few sealants, I had a perfect track record when it came to dental health. Now, orthodonture is a different story, but I figure maintaining that perfect track record of dental health while navigating around pounds of metal in your mouth? That takes skill. When my braces finally came off (yes, I went to college with braces on my teeth…I try to forget those days), I ramped up my dental care routine even more. I trekked back up to my dorm room on the 4th floor after breakfast every morning to brush and fluoride rinse. During my 2 years in ACE (when I had no dental insurance), I still scheduled a dental visit/cleaning when I was home on Christmas break and paid out of pocket.
As you can tell, dental hygiene is not something I take lightly. Of course, just a few weeks after my arrival in Baltimore, my health was rapidly in decline and any time I wasn’t at school was spent at doctor’s appointments or lying on couches, so the dentist slipped a little on the priority list. Still, that February I trudged through the snow to a new dentist. I wasn’t feeling well at all that day, but I still mustered some excitement for the dentist. There’s nothing quite like a good teeth-cleaning in my book! Well, imagine my suprise when I opened my mouth that day and learned that I had not 1, not 2, but 4 cavities. I was shocked. I was devastated. On top of my dizziness, exhaustion, and questionable bloodwork, now we had to add cavities to the mix?? I cried when I got to my car. As devastating as that afternoon was, it wasn’t indelibly sealed in my memory until 5 months later when I sat in my gastroenterologist’s office with my celiac diagnosis and he explained that often times, dental problems (like the ones I had that winter) are the first indicator of celiac in younger patients. He explained that he’s trying to raise awareness among dentists because I should have been sent to his office back in February and by July could have been well on my way to healing rather than the lifeless blob sitting in front of him.
So, point #1: if you, or someone you know, has a similar experience of great teeth which suddenly show significant decay in a short period of time, don’t just brush it off. (Like that pun??) Of course, this also assumes you’ve remained faithful to your dental hygiene regimen and the decay still happened. If you started going to sleep with cupcakes next to your bed for a midnight snack or swore off brushing for a year, then I’d suspect enamel and absorption issues are not to blame. Talk to your dentist. If it’s the same dentist you’ve had, it’s an easy comparison to old x-rays and your chart. If it’s a new dentist, do what I didn’t: call your old dentist and get all your records sent for comparison. My new dentist just assumed I was one of those 20-somethings who relegated tooth care to the bottom of the priority list…and I did nothing to convince her otherwise. I could have saved myself months of misdiagnoses, or at least 5 months of enamel erosion…which for the record, can’t regenerate. (For more information, click here.)
#2: Some toothpastes have gluten in them. Yes, that can make you sick. And of course that will result in more enamel erosion. Talk about a vicious cycle. There is a great summary here of the various brands, but my advice would be this: a) Be wary of Colgate. It’s mentioned in here, but I talked to them myself and the lovely rep told me that though the regular flavor is “apparently gluten-free”, she couldn’t safely verify that for any others. So I personally end to steer clear of Colgate all together; b) Whichever toothpaste you choose, do yourself a favor and double check. A quick email or phone call is well worth your time in the long run. And sometimes it can even be a fun conversation!
|I think this was my favorite product phone call to date:
“Is it possible to get the ingredient/allergen list for your Be Adventurous Chocolate mint toothpaste?
It was discontinued so I bought it today for 70% off!“
#3: Not all mouthwashes are created equal. Of course by now you know I have a soft spot in my heart for Scope, but Listerine is also a great option. However, the nice Crest representative offered information before I even moved past toothpaste, and told me that both the Pro-Health Rinse and Crest Whitening Rinse contain outside ingredients and may contain gluten!! Again, my advice would be, if you have a product you love (or one that is recommended by your dentist), pick up the phone and check. You have to be especially careful with generic brands: they often contain ingredients from outside suppliers and all kinds of co-mingling can happen. I know, my frugal heart is crying too…but trust me the dental bills later will be far more than the extra $2 for name-brand mouthwash. Deep breath 🙂
|Clearly, I love Scope. For many reasons 🙂|
#4: Your dental cleaning and fillings might not be safe. This is the doozy. Gluten is in most adhesives (i.e. Elmer’s glue…if you could only have seen me last week at summer school when we used entire bottles to make our own silly putty, the kids thought I was hilarious with my gloves/handwashing, but I was taking no chances) so it makes sense that tooth polish, bonding agents, etc. would also have it. From what my dentist told me, the entire industry has made a shift in the past 5 years away from gluen, and they now get an ingredient list sent with each product, but it’s still best to ask. And if your dentist responds with a laugh when you ask and says, “Honey, I asked if you had any allergies, I meant like latex? I’m not going to feed you bread so gluten isn’t a problem”. Yes, that was a real response from someone who is no longer my dentist. In hindsight, I should have kindly educated her rather than bolt, but those were my early celiac days. Live and learn.
#5: You can be so careful…and you’ll still get burned sometimes. Such is life with celiac. It’s either live in a bubble or always be slightly open to risk. I went to the dentist this week. I love my dental office. I love the dentists, the hygientists, and the x-ray technicians. The receptionist and I greet each other like old friends and swap stories of our respective upcoming wedding plans. They are great people and they know what they’re doing. But while they were applying that numbing gel this week before the Novacain (for yes, yet another cavity…remember what I said about enamel not regenerating? I now have what are called “soft teeth”. All I know is it’s not good.) and when they suctioned, it didn’t all come out and soon I could tell I’d swallowed some (because my entire throat was going numb). I told myself all would be well, even though I kind of knew that was a lie. And it was. I spent some quality time curled up on my bed as my stomach rejected the invader, and after a fitful night attempting to sleep, I woke up the next day with the familiar symptoms of slight contamination: my brain was all foggy, I was irritated by everything and everyone, my face was pale and my heart raced…but the one consolation of knowing what triggered the reaction is knowing that it was a trace enough amount that it shouldn’t escalate. Still it meant a phone call to the doctor and an addition to the file, but fortunately nothing more. Now I’m safe (from the dentist anyway) until February…though considering our wedding will be on the horizon, I may just play it safe and wait an extra month 🙂
In conclusion, please take it from me: before you go to the dentist, do your homework. Talk to your dentist ahead of time. Don’t show up and assume he or she should know everything about every product and about your autoimmune condition. Dentists have an awful lot to learn in just a few years of dental school. It would be like expecting a teacher to be an expert on every single condition a student might walk in with. Just like I would want advanced warning about my students so I can spend time researching and familiarizing myself with the needs of that particular student, the dentist needs the same time to become familiar with your unique needs. Don’t just show up at appointment time expecting quick answers to your questions.
I know it sounds terrifying, but don’t be too nervous. It’s a lot, yes, but it’s totally worth it…just to see you smile 🙂
|We love to smile…smiling is our favorite! 🙂|
|I should add that I was inspired while prepping the cheese sauce to turn this into
my own version of Hamburger Helper…hence the ground beef in that third pan.
|Ready for the oven!|
|The finished product!!
(It’s hard to see the difference in the pre-baked and this one…but I can assure you there is!)
Gosh, it feels good to say that! The crazy vortex which is the end of an academic year (especially when the grade/subject and school are all new to you) just sucked me in and swallowed me whole. Then, just when the light was appearing at the end of the tunnel (AKA summer vacation), shingles took hold. Yes, you read that correctly: just 3 days shy of that glorious last day of school, I ended up at Urgent Care and then my own doctor for confirmation. That patch of bumps rapidly appearing on my shoulder were in fact shingles. The couch became my closest friend. And to top it all off, the anti-virals prescribed to combat the virus which my poor weakened, end-of-school-year immune system just couldn’t muster the energy to fight ended up making me sicker. That’s right, despite my best efforts with the pharmacist and then nearly an hour on the phone with the manufacturer, the prescription still contained something that wasn’t Katie-safe. Such is the life for those of us with food issues. It was just quite an unpleasant reminder at an already unpleasant time.
However, that darkness is in the past and it’s onto better things. While shingles initially put a dent in any and all plans for the summer, providence ensued and actually brought about an opportunity to work in a summer school program I hadn’t even considered when someone backed out at the last minute. So it was off the couch and back to the classroom just this past Monday. I’ve been helping teach a class entitled “Toyology”. That’s correct. I spend my days exploring the physics behind Whoopee cushions, the polymers in Silly Putty, etc. Fun times. To top it all off, the Physicist boarded a plane this weekend for a science collaboration which will have him with an international address until Christmas; hence, the time for writing has returned. For the record, you have all been on my mind and I even have notes in my phone of blogpost topics and pictures. I’ll attempt to catch up on all of them in the coming weeks…but I also make no promises 🙂
Since summer is upon us, I thought I’d start with some delicious (and convenient!) summer food ideas.
1) Summer Salad Season is Here!: On these absurdly hot and humid summer days, the last thing you want to do some nights is turn on the stove. In addition, it seems wherever you go, everyone is enjoying a delicious summer salad. Part of you is excited: salad! Yes! Veggies, fruit, and maybe a protein: something I can safely consume! Until you stop and the following train of thought ensues: “Oh wait, there’s no way to know about those dressings. That’s OK, I can eat a dry salad. Oh but wait, I don’t know what they cooked that chicken in, or if that’s a safe brand of bacon for me to eat. Oooh, and I don’t know where those veggies were sliced, if some random croutons may have been in that bowl, or if some careless salad maker (or customer at a self-serve salad bar) inadvertently mixed the spoon or grabbed some cheese with the same tongs as the red onions.” If you’re like me, it’s around this point when you stop thinking and walk away, lest I journey deeper into the rabbit hole that is food anxiety. Just do yourself a favor: make a giant batch of salad on Sunday afternoon and you’re set for lunches until Wednesday.
And for those of you who may be fortunate enough to have a safe salad bar to indulge in at work, steer clear of that dry salad. Make this dressing. It’s delicious, easy, and far cheaper than those all-natural (read: non-soybean/corn-syrup-containing) dressings at the grocery store.
|Blend all the ingredients in a food processor (or Magic Bullet!!)|
|Voila! Katie-safe dressing to last the summer
…or until next week, at least 🙂
2) Crab Cakes!: Keep in mind, I live in Baltimore…AKA a city which lives and breathes crabs in the summertime. Crab feasts, crab cakes, crab-flavored potato chips: we’ve got it all. Of course, when you’re a person who can’t consume bread crumbs, mayonnaise, or eggs, such a delicacy is quickly relegated to the “Danger, Danger” list. That is, of course, until a few weeks ago. I was navigating the aisles at Trader Joe’s just days before my shingles struck. My heart was light and my mind was dancing with thoughts of summer vacation, lazy mornings with my hot cup of coffee and the Today Show, and endless amounts of time to cook and write. I turned a corner and what did I see?? A sale on giant cans of crab meat!! I decided right then and there that this had to happen. The summer of 2015 would be Katie’s triumphant return to the land of crab cakes. And so it was.
|Make sure you read the label: it’s not always just pure crab meat!|
|The finished product, served over brown rice pasta!|
3) Summer smoothie time!: Usually, people like you and I are left to our own devices when it comes to smoothies. We blend away in our kitchens using coconut milk yogurt, almond milk, etc. so we know our smoothies are safe from the co-mingling of evil casein particles. It’s a fine practice, and one we’ve grown accustomed to, but there’s also nothing quite like sipping a delicious smoothie which you didn’t have to create. This is especially true when you’ve just had oral surgery (which also happened to me this May); have no fear: Smoothie King is here! They now have a line of gluten-free, vegan smoothies!!! (erupt in applause here!) I’ve had both the Dark Chocolate Banana and Nutty Super Grain varieties, and I literally debate every time about which to choose because they’re both SO AMAZING!! I actually lived off the Nutty Super Grain for 3 days that week until I regained used of my mouth. One important caveat: you have to tell the smoothie maker about your allergies. You may notice when they’re busy, they quickly rinse the blenders between runs…not enough to eliminate milk traces, or even protein powder. If you tell them, they’ll use a dairy-free blender (if they have one at their location) or they’ll deep clean it for you. Now, find the nearest Smoothie King and start driving!
|Oral surgery recovery never tasted so good!|
|Courtesy of Pinterest!|
Baltimore. It is a place now known and discussed nationwide…and certainly not for good reason. It is also the place I’ve called home for almost 5 years now. It is hard for me to believe that 5 years have already gone by and, I suppose like any long relationship, sometimes it is also hard for me to remember life before it. Once upon a time, I ate french fries without covering them in Old Bay; I had rarely seen Utz potato chips on a store shelf; I had no idea what a Berger cookie was…let alone how to spell that correctly; a sno-ball was nothing more to me than a spherical object tossed at someone after a January blizzard. Yes, in the almost 5 years since I arrived in Charm City, I have fallen in love with it. Someone actually warned me during my first year here to be careful about that. He insisted that you come here with a plan to simply attend school, finish an internship, etc., and then somehow, when you’re not paying attention, you fall in love with Baltimore and you never leave. Well, I’m not sure about the “never leaving” part…but the rest is certainly true.
|Me with Baltimore’s unofficial mascot 🙂|
Baltimore has become home to me, so much so that I moved back within the city limits just 6 weeks ago, after a 2-year stay in the suburbs. Contrary to what you’ve seen on the news this week, Baltimore is a beautiful city. It is a place where people take great pride in their neighborhoods, their local businesses, and of course their beloved sports teams. The Inner Harbor is breathtaking; there are world-renowned hospitals and universities nestled within our little corner of the world; there is certainly no shortage of beautiful parks and there is nothing quite like a morning run along the waterfront downtown. However, Baltimore is also as dichotomous as it is beautiful. Just a few miles from that gorgeous Inner Harbor which shows up in every travel magazine are desolate neighborhoods. Empty storefronts and abandoned buildings are the norm. School buildings which long ago lost proper heating systems, ventilation, and even structural integrity still serve as home for students 6 hours a day…for the students who can get there, that is. Students ride multiple trains and buses just to get to magnet schools outside their district in an attempt to get a decent education…or simply to stay safe. This is the part of Baltimore no one wants to talk about, and the one that rarely gets attention. There is beauty in this piece of Baltimore too…you just might have to look a little harder to find it.
So what happened this week? I don’t quite know the answer to that question. I drove home from school on Monday feeling slightly concerned. Students in my class had told me hours earlier about things they had seen on social media regarding a gathering after dismissal. The typical Monday afternoon traffic was nonexistent, as I realized I was one of the few people driving south on 83 while there was a steady stream moving north. When I turned the corner to my apartment complex, I saw what made my heart sink: the basketball court at the end of the block, usually packed with 30-40 local students playing pick-up games after school, was completely deserted. I knew in that moment that something was wrong. Sure enough I noticed the helicopters flying overhead and went inside to sit in front of my television with tear-filled eyes as I watched teenagers, no older than my students, engaged in such destructive behavior.
The thing is my initial reaction was not the anger which many people seemed to feel right away. I mean, I’m not suggesting that what they did was in any way acceptable. It’s not. Such acts of violence are inexcusable. However, I couldn’t help but think of my former students back in DC as I watched what was unfolding on the screen. I thought about how they are now just a little younger than these students on the screen. I thought about the fact that no one is raised to hate or mistrust anyone; regardless of where or how you grow up, these are learned behaviors. I thought about how these teenagers must feel like they have literally nothing to lose. And I was heartbroken. I thought about the construction men from my math class this semester who told me about the feeling of hopelessness they had after serving their time in prison, about their failed attempts to build a new life for themselves when they were released; how they summed up the reality of life after incarceration in one succinct phrase: God forgives, but society? Not so much. This past week, “the other Baltimore” became the news story…but really, there is no such thing. We are all Baltimore. And just like a relationship in which two vastly different people attempt to coexist in a confined space for a long period of time, this week the relationship between vastly different worlds in Baltimore reached a breaking point. And, just like in any such relationship, it will likely remain that way until both sides are willing to communicate peacefully. Will that day ever come? I don’t know that either, but I won’t stop praying in earnest that it does.
I love Baltimore. I loved Baltimore last week, I love Baltimore today, and I will continue to love Baltimore tomorrow. That doesn’t mean I will ignore her faults, or pretend that she is something she’s not. Baltimore is not a perfect city, but she is a beautiful one. And just like every other person I love, I want her to become the best version of herself that she can be. I will continue to do my part to make sure that can happen. I don’t know exactly what that entails right now, but I’ll keep trying to figure it out. Peacefully.
In the meantime, to shed some positive light on Baltimore in the darkness of the week, I’d like to highlight some Katie-safe reasons why Baltimore is the perfect home, or even weekend destination, for a person with food allergies.
1) Sweet Sin: This bakery is ENTIRELY gluten-free. They make cakes, pies, cupcakes, bread, cookies, etc. If you’re simply gluten-free, this place is a dream come true. Even if you’re gluten-free/dairy-free, this place is still your dream (not everything is dairy-free, but there are LOTS of options). This is my go-to location for cupcakes en route to any event that might involve everyone else indulging in celebratory treats. It’s also just a really cute place with charming employees!
|Delicious Sweet Sin cupcakes!|
2) Meet 27: This is the bar/restaurant attached to Sweet Sin…so also ENTIRELY gluten-free. They also now have a carry-out option. The food is some of the best I’ve ever tasted…and I’m not exaggerating when I say that their sweet potato fries (battered in chickpea flour) are the most amazing dish I’ve tasted in my life, with or without allergies.
|Just look at that plate of food. Need I say more…|
3) Charmington’s: My favorite coffeeshop in the city by far. This is partially because coffee is delicious, partially because they make lattes with almond milk and homemade syrups in which they can tell you every ingredient, and partially because it’s around the corner from Sweet Sin so makes for a perfect Katie-safe coffee/cupcake afternoon. Granted, this is also the coffeeshop where the physicist and I reconnected on a rainy Friday night. So regardless of all those other reasons, it will always hold a very cherished place in my heart.
|Beautiful beverages at Charmington’s.
The top one belonged to the Physicist and the bottom one was mine.
We were celebrating our “Coffee-versary”…doesn’t it only seem fitting that I would have such a thing?? 🙂
4) Joe Squared: This is place is usually known for its pizza, but it offers so much more. Just click here to see the amazing variety of gluten-free/vegan options. All risotto is gluten-free…AND can be vegan (yay, coconut milk!!). So are the wings. Let’s just say the options are nearly endless. At least as far as food-allergen menus are concerned 🙂
There are so many other places I could highlight, but for today I’ll stick to my favorites. Please, don’t be convinced by what is shown on television that Baltimore is simply chaos and destruction. We are not. Right now our harbor is lined with National Guard troops, the Ravens parking lot has become a command station of armored trucks, and we are understandably a city on edge. We are no doubt flawed, and right now you might even say broken. However, we are also beautiful, we are resilient, and we are hopeful; hopeful that someday soon, both peace and justice will reign in our beautiful city. Until then, I’ll continue my prayer: May God protect ALL people of this city; and may Christ’s love pervade every street corner, every citizen, and every heart in Baltimore this night and always. Amen.
It’s hard for me to believe, but you’ve been enjoying a “Cup of Coffee with Katie” for over a year and a half now; however, for quite some time before that, there was someone else who enjoyed a monthly cup of coffee with me: in real time, face-to-face, not through the interface of a digital screen. If you flip through my planners from the past few years (which yes, of course I keep!) you’ll notice the same entry somewhere on almost every monthly calendar: Coffee with Linda.
Seriously though, if you don’t have DD perks, sign up now. April of 99 cent coffee, here we come 🙂
Now as any loyal readers know, I have a strict “I don’t talk about my personal life until I’m engaged” policy, both for my students and for my readers. Well, those days are over because… I’m engaged! Last weekend, on the most epic Pi Day of our lives (3.14.15) at the magical minute (9:26), the Physicist got down on one knee and proposed. To use the analogy from that first post, I found my co-pilot J
Now I could go on forever about him…but there will be plenty of time for that. A lifetime of it, in fact! Maybe he’ll even write a guest post from time to time! (1st person account of life on the other side of a food-sensitive relationship!) However, I’d like to close by referring back to that original post once again. You may remember I described what I imagined in the one who could one day fill the co-pilot chair. If this were a job application, I think you’ll agree: the Physicist is overqualified.
|Before you panic, that’s my godson. We went to pay him a visit this fall 🙂|
Oh, and for the record, I don’t call him The Physicist in real life (well, my co-workers and I did during the first few weeks we were dating). His name is John…or you can just call him my co-pilot 🙂
It’s hard to believe it has been a year since I wrote what remains the most shared/commented-on post about the silent hero in my life: my dad. I just re-read that post and I can honestly say there isn’t much more I could add to summarize who he was, how he has shaped the person I’ve become, and how he lives on in my heart 15 years after our final hug. I know he would be a big supporter of the year of fiscal responsibility, as his money-saving skills were far superior to anyone I’ve ever met. I know he would be shaking his head in amusement watching my mom attempt to master her new iPhone (I know, she has one before I do! It’s a crazy world we live in.) And I know he’d be overjoyed right now…because it’s Lent, and what does that mean?? It means seafood is everywhere (among other theological truths of course :-))
Now don’t get me wrong, my dad LOVED meat. And by that I mean beef in particular. He loved a juicy steak, he perfected some of the oddest meatloaf recipes I’ve ever tasted, and the man loved his hamburgers. If I remember the story correctly, he even stopped at Burger King on his wedding day. I mean, clearly the one thing better than marrying the amazing woman who is now my mom is marrying her with a Whopper in your stomach 🙂 However, his true love (in food terms) was seafood, namely lobster. Granted, his penny-pinching self only allowed for lobster about once a year, but there was the occasional homemade popcorn shrimp night for special dinners. So this week as I sat down with my weekly meals dry-erase board (really, does it surprise you that I have such a thing? Seriously, it’s amazing) I knew tomorrow would be the 27th and thus my traditional meal of a once cheeseburger, now sans cheese, and a Diet Pepsi would be on the menu. Of course, then I noticed: 27th = Friday. And it’s Lent. Now what…
Though I briefly considered talking to my pastor about some kind of sanctioned switch to meatless Thursday this week, I realized that would not at all be the best way to honor my dad. The man loved seafood…so what better way to celebrate his memory than with some variety of crustacean on a Lenten Friday? Granted, I have yet to determine exactly what that will be…but I live in Baltimore so I have a feeling crabmeat will have to be involved. Now since I don’t have tomorrow’s dinner exactly figure out yet, I don’t have that recipe to share. However, I do have another one which I’ve been meaning to share but haven’t had time (I’m currently taking not 1, but 2, online courses in addition to my regular teaching load/night class…I’m not sure what I was thinking). And fittingly, this recipe also relates to tomorrow’s celebration of my dad’s life too.
For someone who loved meat so much, it might surprise you to hear that my dad also loved veggie burgers. It’s true. There were times when his medications and treatments had his sleep patterns a bit off kilter, so he would often be up in the middle of the night. He would sit at the kitchen table, working on a crossword puzzle and eating his post-midnight snack: a frozen veggie burger. If you’ve ever heated one up in the microwave, you know they leave a pungent odor which still lingered in the kitchen when I’d stumble in at 6:00 AM. I hated them back then, but in the years since I’ve learned to love them myself. However, for those of us with food allergies, those frozen ones are not an option. Wheat, soy, and corn abound in every variety I’ve found. Fortunately, I’ve become a pro at making my own, with the help of my mini-food processor.