Most of my plants are dead, too

I’m smack-dab in the middle of a Busy Time with work, which is a good thing, and also it’s PTA newsletter time again, so my life is completely fascinating right now, full of highly bloggable material like “today I sat at my computer and wrote stuff for eight hours, stopping only to tell the poor telemarketer from that company that rhymes with Horizon that if they called me one more time I was going to cancel my cellular service.”

But that’s why you read me. Because my life is so much more thrilling than yours.

Anyway, after a long day, the kids came home and I stopped working long enough to tend to them and make a lovely dinner. And they totally appreciated it and thanked me. In my imagination.

In reality, the children came home from school and demanded food and then set about some complicated game that didn’t require my involvement, so I became invisible once I’d inquired about their days and handed over the snacks. I took this opportunity to put together a meal I knew they’d like, but using some ingenuity because I’m still learning how to adapt everything to be gluten-free.

Mind you—we still don’t actually KNOW if Monkey has celiac. And every time I think I’m seeing a difference in him, it’s followed by some block of behavior which convinces me that I may as well stuff him full of wheat again, because CLEARLY the modified diet has left him just as miserable and rotten as before. (Depending on the behavior, sometimes I dream of stuffing him with things other than wheat. Like, say, styrofoam packing peanuts. Or rubber cement.)

Anyway, I make this pot-pie-esque sort of thing (wow, doesn’t it sound delicious, when I put it that way?) (second only to goulash-ish-y facsimile!) that’s basically the innards of a pot-pie, but topped with cornbread instead of inside a pie crust. My kids love them some cornbread.

And I had non-wheat flour. And cornmeal. So I was ready to rock.

When I made chicken for dinner the other night, I set aside a few pieces for this. So I chopped up the chicken, I steamed the vegetables, I mixed everything up, I got the whole shebang into a casserole dish and put it in the oven with a great feeling of satisfaction.

That satisfaction began to dissipate, slightly, when Chickadee decided to make a fuss over saying grace once we all sat down for dinner. We don’t always say grace, but we often do, at dinner, and Chickadee was in one of her moods an decided that it would be EVER SO MUCH MORE MEANINGFUL to join in our prayer with much eyerolling and mouthing of the words instead of just saying it.

So there was that. She ended up leaving the table until she was ready to be thankful, dammit, and stomped upstairs wailing about how her food would be cold. When she returned her thankfulness was borderline. I figure tonight’s episode was good for a giant zit the night of her first prom, for sure.

Then Monkey nibbled delicately at the cornbread topping but avoided the chicken, veggies and sauce below, despite my exhortations to please just EAT.

“Monkey, I made this SPECIAL FOR YOU, with no gluten, because I know you love cornbread and I—” something niggled in the back of my head. I set my fork down.

Roasted chicken. Corn. Peas. Carrots. Gluten-free cornbread made from organic cornmeal and rice flour. And it’s all mixed up and held together with…

… ooooooops …

… canned soup.

I pushed back from the table and went and fished the can out of the recycling. Campbell’s cream of celery soup. And it’s right there on the label: wheat flour.

Monkey wasn’t too disappointed when I whisked his bowl away and offered to make him something else. (He asked for a bowl of cereal, which he probably would’ve been happier with from the beginning.) As I sat there trying not to cry into my “special” dinner, Chickadee comforted me:

“It’s okay, Mama. You weren’t TRYING to poison Monkey. You just forgot how to read.”


  1. Zee

    Ohh, Mir – I feel for you. I’m allergic to dairy and eggs, my little brother is allergic to wheat and my dad thought he had celiac for a while, so I’ve been through everything you’re dealing with in trying to cook for dad and/or myself. It is NO FUN and reading labels SUCKS and you know what? You’re doing AWESOME. :) If the kids are eating what you’re making, you’re doing really well! There were a few times when I made stuff there that even the dog wouldn’t eat. Seriously.

    Hang in there – it’ll get easier. I’ve done that so many times (misread a label or completely missed a listing for something…) and it is FRUSTRATING.

    Btw, for gluten-free cooking, Xanthan Gum is your friend. It adds back the stickiness you’ve been missing. :) You can buy it in bulk at places like Whole Foods, which I’d recommend because it’s expensive, and a little goes a long way – so you don’t need a whole lot.

    Also, not sure if you’ve found this site yet, but Miss Roben’s is a good source:

    (And now I’m going to end The Longest Comment EVER. :))

  2. Lady M

    My gluten-intolerant co-worker says he can eat Sun Chips, in case you need another snack idea.

  3. Muirnait

    Mmm sun chips. Hey, at least Chickie was there to help you pick up the pieces! :-)

  4. carrien

    I think I would eat your pie thingymabob. ANd say thank-you, but I love me some chicken pie, and corn bread so I’m easy. I have cried into many unappreciated “special” things I tried to do, so I feel you. I really do.

  5. hollygee

    Again with my gluten-free suggestions:
    get the Living Without magazine. This month has a recipe for gf black bottom cupcakes! And a great list of what prepared foods to avoid at the back.
    Also fun to listen to Sarah Vowell’s take on Celiac and the Living Without magazine in the archives at This American Life radio,

  6. Brigitte

    How long does Monkey (and the rest of the family!) have to be on this diet before Celiac Disease is confirmed or ruled out? Does the pediatrician have other theories lined up to test out on you guinea pigs, oops, I mean you guys, if it ISN’T Celiac?

  7. Karen Rani

    You shoulda bought the cream of celery soup made with packing peanuts. Just sayin’.


  8. David

    Oh, that Chickadee’s just brimming with sensitive understanding. *snickering into my hand* After all, gluten=poison and if you’d MEANT to poison Monkey, you’d have just fed him the soup all by itself.
    But just so you know, I would’ve totally eaten that stuff up. I loves me both some pot-pies AND some cornbread. Yum!

  9. Mary P

    Isn’t she a sweet child? But really, she mean well. She didn’t MEAN for it to be a toxic compliment…

  10. Otto

    Monkee seems to be developing a sixth sense – gluten sniffing.

    Which is markedly better than, say, glue sniffing … now, where’s my Elmer’s …


    Paste! What about paste? Can he eat paste? Anyone know?

  11. Carmen

    “It’s okay, Mama. You weren’t TRYING to poison Monkey. You just forgot how to read.”

    Leave it to Chickadee to call it like it is.

  12. Susan

    Paste is fine, Otto. I checked. And it has that nice minty smell.

  13. MMM

    Love Chickadee’s response. Haha.
    Poor Mir! Mama said there’ll be days like this. She just didn’t tell us what to do about it, huh?!

  14. Bob

    I pity the boys when she gets interested in them. at least it will cull the weak ones out…….

  15. Aimee

    Well, *we* know you didn’t mean to poison him. And we know that you can read! So there. My husband is allergic to onions, garlic and anything in that family, so I feel the pain about the labels. Just try finding processed ANYTHING that doesn’t have some form of onion in it. I dare you.

  16. wookie

    A lot of soups have gluten. So does most soy sauce. But I know how fustrating it is to “waste” a meal when you’ve worked hard on it. I fed my dairy allergic child cream-cheese on a bagel once (I was VERY VERY sleep deprived, we were on the road and it was all they had at the doughnut drive through that wasn’t pure sugar) because “It wasn’t milk”. She was sick an hour later and I realized what I had done I think I cried too.

    Good luck! If no one has suggested this yet, you can add a teaspoon or half teaspoon of Xanthan gum to your rice-flour concoctions to make them hold together a little better. It’s highly experimental (meaning I haven’t figured out yet how much you need to make it work without adding a gluey texture).

  17. Cele

    How sad and it sounded totally yummy. Chin up Mir you’re doing great.

    You know by the time Prom hits, you’re going to forget that zit is your responsiblity. Darn.

  18. InterstellarLass

    Poison him. HA HA HA. That Chickadee is a funny kid.

    I made cornbread too this weekend. I think it was just a basic recipe though. I think I need to put things, say, oh, with flavor in the mix next time. Some sweet corn and maybe some spicy jalapeno.

  19. rachel

    I love Chickadee! We do compare gluten to poison here on occasion. Everyone makes mistakes. And me more frequently than most.

    Mmmm… cornbread topping. We do biscuit topping on our chicken pot pie. I do cornbread topping for tamale pie (kinda like chili under cornbread).

  20. Carrie

    Oh no! I mean.. funny, what Chickadee said.. but so, oh no! Mine would be much happier with Spelt PB&J than veggies any day. :)

  21. mojo

    As someone who went from a ‘normal’ diet to a gluten-free one I completely feel for you. That damn wheat flour sneaks in everywhere! (check out the label on licorice). You’re doing the best you can and that’s all anyone can ask.

  22. Randi

    Alright, I’m confused. Are you going on the gluten-free diet because of Monkey’s attitude issues? From reading the last few weeks of posts, what it sounds like is you’re trying everything and anything under the sun to “cure” your child of his attitude problems. If that’s what you’re trying to accomplish. You’re saying “my son is acting up for no good reason…I’m a good parent, so there must be some other problem..let’s go blame the doctors!” Stop blaming people and stop subjecting him to all these un-founded trials. There is no reason to make the poor kid have a “gluten free” diet when the test was inconclusive, because no where could *I* find that the gluten free diet stops temper tantrums. I know my assvice wasn’t asked for, but what’s the point of having a blog if you’re not going to get both sides of the opinions?

  23. Jenn

    I would have never, ever guessed in a million years that canned soup had gluten in it.

  24. Chookooloonks

    Randi — that’s really funny, because nowhere could *I* find your credentials as a doctor.


  25. Kim

    Chickadee is such a kind a caring daughter:o) I did have to laugh at her response.

    It is hard to eat a *free* any type of diet. You are doing good and I would have loved the pot pie with cornbread.

  26. mar

    And Randi – if you really were reading the last few weeks of posts, you would know exactly why Mir was doing this, so – you’re right, no one asked for your assvice.

    Mir, hopefully Chickadee doesn’t mention to your neighbors or DYFS about your trying to poison Monkey … it just doesn’t look good! ;-)

  27. Daisy

    Mir, I’ve been reading you long enough to know that you’re doing what’s right for Monkey. It may be a while before you figure out what’s up, but you and the docs are eliminating one thing at a time. I liked the sound of your cornbread potpie, and I looked at Rachel’s tamale pie — try it! I think my family, gluten lovers and all, would eat either one.

  28. Contrary

    That girl knows just what to say to make you feel better, doesn’t she? Or, you know, not.

  29. Juliness

    Oh boy…sorry to hear about dinner. The casserole sounded good to me!

    And for Pete’s sake, anybody reading this blog on a regular basis should do nothing but applaud your efforts in ANYTHING involving your children. Clearly they are your first priority and that speaks volumes…not matter what dietary route you travel and for what reason.

  30. wookie

    Randi – Actually, when that test comes back inconclusive your next step is either the food trial or the biopsy.

    And the food trial is a lot less invasive.

    I’m not a doctor either, but I have two celiac-disease nurses in the family.

  31. Chrissie

    My sister, age 26, was recently diagnosed with Celiac. It’s a bitch.

    I was visiting over the summer and my mom was making supper. We were having meatballs and rice. We looked high and low for a sweet and sour recipe that didn’t have soy sauce (gluten containing!).

    Finally, mom decided she’d make the recipe with the soy sauce, but take out a few meatballs put some sauce WITHOUT soy sauce in it for my sister to eat.

    (wait. did that make sense? basically, two dishes of meatballs, one with out soy sauce in the sauce)

    My sister ate them up and at her second last meatball said to my mom, “Wait – there weren’t bread crumbs in the meatballs, were there?”

    There were.


  32. Genevieve

    I loves me some tamale pie!

    Mir, some days are just like that.

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