Category Archives: Food

Living with Celiac Disease

Gluten Free Banana Cupcakes with Vanilla Butter Cream. *see end of post
Four years ago I had figured out I was gluten intolerant and had tried to avoid gluten. A recent routine endoscopy showed damaged celia and the biopsies confirmed I am a Celiac.  The doctors were perplexed, the tissue samples confirmed Celiac, but my blood work was perfect. Four years of Gluten Free eating resulted in perfect blood work.
I had an appointment with a dietician. It was there I learned the dangers of being Celiac. She gave me a full folder of facts, details and information.
Celiac Disease is life-long. The celia never grow back but they do heal to the point they begin to processes nutrients. My tolerance is zero, so even cross contamination such as double dipping a knife in the peanut butter or jam to spread onto regular bread does cause me to react if I use a clean knife in the same peanut butter or jam jar to spread on a slice of GF bread. Each exposure takes a several days or weeks for the injures to the celia to heal enough to begin processing nutrients. During those days, I am freezing cold and exhausted.
Fresh Berries from the garden with real freshly whipped cream.*
One of the things in the folder of stuff is a list of all the names of foods that contain gluten. Many are simply different styles and types of wheat and different processes that end up  gluten of a different name.
NOT ALLOWED IN ANY FORMWheat (einkorn, durum or duram, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt, freekeh, bulgur), Barley, Rye, Triticale, Malt, malt flavoring, malt vinegar (are made from barley). Barley contains the highest percentage of gluten of all the grains.
Beer is out, wine and distilled spirits even wheat based whiskeys are fine. The gluten molecules are too big to make it through the distillation process.
Wheat Free is not safe, Certified Gluten Free is. If in doubt do NOT eat it.
Butter Cream Frosted GF Banana Cake*
It goes on to say labels must be read every time foods are purchased. Manufacturers can change ingredients at any time. There is a huge list of additives that may or may not be GF. That list includes: modified food starch, starch, dextrin. If it does not say certified Gluten Free do not eat without calling the manufacturer to inquire about the root source of the starch. ie: Tapioca Starch and Corn Starch are safe, of course.
Eating Gluten Free as a way of losing weight, may be trendy. It won’t hurt you but it is not a disease and you can eat it anytime it is inconvenient to go hungry.
These two websites have tons of information. which is a Gluten Intolerance organization in Auburn WA. Also Be wary of simple internet searches without verifying the source. The mayo clinic has info. Canada has a really good web site with lots of really good information.
Chocolate Studded Merengue Stacked with Whipped Cream*
Celiacs are supposed to carry a card in their wallet and even a health bracelet identifying Celiac. An emergency hospital stay, from a car accident for instance, complete with typical hospital fare of crackers and pudding could be the last nail in the coffin… fun, huh?
Gluten Free is healthy because it focuses on fresh fruit, vegetables, beans, lentils, fish and some lean meat. It is no more healthy than any other diet that includes sweets, cakes, pastas, sodas and other rich foods. I focus on healthy with great taste, but sometimes a special occasion calls for a special treat. Four of those are shown above.
* Learning to cook GF has been an adventure. Instead of trying to mimic the taste of  “normal” food, we have learned to appreciate a new world of food we had not known. The bottom line is it has to taste great. It needs to be something guests will enjoy as well. Slowly I am developing special occasion recipes. Sometimes a great desert can be as simple as fresh berries topped with freshly whipped cream and a sprig of mint. Sometimes the occasion calls for something spectacular, even a multi layer cake. The deserts in the photos are my GF recipes and were served for special occasions. The merengue is naturally GF and without the chocolate and the whipped cream it is not too unhealthy.
Cheers to healthy eating,

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Filed under Celiac Disease, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Photography, Random, Words to Ponder

The Baker

On Wednesday my grandson wanted to come over and hang out in the evening. I told him he could, but he had to help me cook for Thanksgiving Dinner which was the following day. He thought about it and said he would help. This came as a shock to everyone, he never wants to help. But Wednesday evening when he got there, he was ready to work.

His job? Make bread sticks from scratch.

His experience? None.

So we began by a discussion of measuring, he got it. He scooped, he measure and the ingredients began to fill the mixing bowl. We heated milk and butter, he added it to the bowl. He cracked his first egg into an empty cup, we fished out some shell, he added it to the bowl. I showed him how to turn on the mixer. From there on he would stick his arms out to guard the bowl because, “I can do it.”

When it was ready to turn onto the board to knead is when I remembered to grab my camera to document this event.

Dusting the bread board.

Dusting the bread board, concentration on getting it just right is evident by his tongue.

Kneading the dough.

Kneading the dough, gently squash it down, turn and fold.

The dough was put in an oiled bowl, covered with a towel and placed in a slightly warm oven to rise. While we waited we moved on to peeling potatoes.

Peeling potatoes

A pan for scraps, a large bowl filled with ice water for the potatoes.

His enthusiasm for peeling waned fairly quickly but he hung in there working until the bread had risen to the top of the bowl and was ready for the next step.

Punching the dough down.

Turned out on the floured board, Hayden punches down the dough.

He was so surprised at how soft and tender the dough was. Again a lot of concentration as he flattened the dough.

Folding and turning the dough

Folding and turning.

Marking the sections into even amounts

Marking the sections into equal sizes for cutting and shaping.

The first half of the dough is cut, shaped and ready for the baking pan.

The first half of the dough is cut, shaped and ready for the baking pan.

A Ta Da moment for Hayden. He wanted a commemorative photo of the event.

Laying them on the pan.

Laying the bread stick dough onto the pan.

The second half of the dough has been measured, cut and shaped and is on the pan.

The second half of the dough has been measured, cut and shaped and is on the baking pan. Hayden is brushing melted butter on the top of each bread stick.

Adding a sprinkle of salt.

Adding a sprinkle of salt.

Into the oven they go.

Into the hot oven they go.

Our young baker had no confidence in pot holders keeping him safe.

Our young baker had no confidence in pot holders keeping him safe. At this point he set it on the door of the oven and told me to put them in.



Next time we will not do gluten-free. He will be experienced and not intimidated by getting them smooth. I was so proud of his enthusiasm and his “I CAN DO IT” attitude, I simply let him roll.

They are awesome!

Thanks, Hayden for your help.


Grams (Shez to the rest of you)

PS When he arrived the next day the first thing he wanted to know was had I posted the photoz to prove to everyone he had actually “made the bread sticks all by myself.” So here you go Hayden, proof you actually made them all by himself. You Rock, Buddy.

(No I do not call him Buddy, I call him Sweetheart, but at 12 and in middle school, it’s not cool to call him that in public.)













Filed under Children, Do It Yourself, Family, Food, Holiday, Random

The Wake

It seems like there are days that life just throws a lot of curve balls and I can deal with that, it’s when they are grouped together and become weeks, overlapping weeks that it becomes a challenge. That’s when even finding time to write down the fun blog I want to post never arrives. A few other things pop up and by the time there is time, nothing fun or funny comes to mind. A family event is taking a bit more of my time than I seem to have but is something I want to share. First a little history is needed.

My mother and her sisters were very close. They chatted on the phone often and visited each other at least monthly.  After they all retired, they got together often for Mexican Train Dominoes. They mistakenly believed that none of their children (we cousins) ever got together and with our growing families; we admit we didn’t often have the chance, but we thought about it a lot. So to thwart their lazy children,  they (the sisters) decided that an annual family picnic was the way to force all of the cousins and all their children, baby and kid paraphernalia, diapers, food, bottles into our cars and drive to a designated spot to have lunch.

Of course the Annual Picnic was hatched well before they retired, and the rules were laid down when our little ones were babes in arms. As they got older the Annual Picnic took on new meaning and became a driving force for them.

The oldest member of the family at 89 is so happy to meet the youngest.

Mom always adored babies. What fun for her to meet the latest addition to our family.

They thought of nothing else, taking a whole year to plan. We had to eat precisely at Noon. Not a second later.  (That makes for a stressful Saturday morning for families because not only were we to be packed and there but we also had to bring food, dishes and silverware, drinks, etc.) Interestingly the sisters decided “pot luck” might produce a once yearly unbalanced meal so they assigned all the descendants of each sister to a food category. Main dishes, salads, deserts. These rotated by sister each year. Somewhere along the line the sisters decided it could not be a real picnic without Un-named to Protect the Guilty Large Grocery Deli’s fried chicken. Not to pick on said Un-named to Protect the Guilty Large Grocery Deli’s chicken, but even fresh at the deli, it is not that good. Several hours after pick up it is horrible.

Family Reunion Picnic 2011

Two Nieces, a Sister-in-Law and Great-great-Nephew Greet Granny

As the sisters got even older and there were only two left they decided to turn it over to the cousins to plan. Oh we were thrilled. Actually none of us objected to that what we did object to was the phone calls.  They were always the same: “Have you girls set the date and place for the reunion yet?”  They began the nagging in March. As they got older the phones calls got earlier. At some point we cousins actually started betting to see which of us would get the first phone call reminding us of the Annual Picnic and had we set the date and place? Trust me with a houseful of kids, animals, sports, school and holidays, were we even thinking of a picnic in February? Not on your life. We were trying to find snow boots for their feet.

I won that bet one year not because mom was the only one left, but because she knew my cousins and I were taking a weekend trip in October and she decided we must set the date while we were all together.  She called every day for six weeks to remind me. I found out she also called all the cousins at least once a week to remind them as well. Over dinner one night we cousins did set the date. First Saturday in August, just like it had been the previous dozen or so years, at the standard beach location. We decided on Pot Luck because what if everyone brought the same thing? As one very wise cousin put it, “So what is the down side of 20 different chocolate cakes?”

Family Reunion 2011

Pictures from last family reunion show the way our family is: All Smiles.

My mom was exceptional, she started calling about the picnic in late September.  Unfortunately, it did little to stem the trickle flood of phone calls. By that time in her life, mom was having trouble remembering dates. So once or twice a week she would call, “Did you set the date for the picnic yet?” And each time I would sweetly (Honest, I was always sweet with her or at the least very patient. Really!) remind her it was same place, same time and the same date. As always it was the first Saturday in August and she would be riding with us.

Three of cousin Sue's Granddaughters

This little princess was not too happy to look at the camera but her sister and cousin were more than happy to strike a pose and pop smiles.

With the exception of a few of her cousins Mom was the last of her generation. She died  last October of pancreatic cancer, just a few weeks after her last Annual Picnic. Her service was a small family affair at the grave site where we spread some of her ashes. It was the first Saturday of November. The rest of her ashes have been interned in their double plot beside dad. The date marker of 2011 has been installed.

Next weekend is first Saturday in August, in honor of our mothers, we are having the family reunion at our house. It is a pot luck at about 1, stay as late as anyone can. If they can’t arrive at one, we will be here fixing dinner later. So not a problem.

The event is a Wake, rather than a Celebration of Life, or a Memorial. The reason is simple, mom’s favorite movie was Waking Ed Devine. We may actually  watch that this week, just to make sure we cover all bases.

Two pretty girls help clean up and get to keep the giant and very colorful paper flowers

These two were so happy to be awarded the beautiful paper flowers when the party was over and things were being picked up. Left of the brunette you can see Mom, still holding her great-great nephew.

I’m sorry, but if you are not a friend or relative of my mother you aren’t invited. If you are a friend or relative please join us. Can you bring a chocolate cake? Oh, wait, dang I can’t eat gluten. Guess I better get busy whipping up a GF Chocolate cake, or at I can whip up a batch of awesome GF Chocolate Brownies for desert. Either works for me. Maybe I should experiment with both GF and vegan. Just for fun.

Here is where mom and dad will always be: In my heart. Their remains and the marker that tells others they walked this earth is on the hillside just below the marble relief of the last supper.

A marble carving of the Last Supper

Marble relief of The Last Supper is at the top of the hill in the portion of the cemetery where Mom is buried.

Next weekend I hope she’ll be looking down from above with her sisters and they’ll all be smiling and saying, “Can you imagine, they actually got it together without a single phone call???” Then perhaps they’ll laugh and realize they did a good pretty job, we all turned out to be great group of people, with fantastic children and extraordinary grandchildren and we are a happy bunch.



PS The fist five photos were taken last year at the Annual Picnic. Mom’s last big picnic. Because of a surprise significant birthday incorporated into the day, the picnic was held in late July. It was a very good thing it was early. Mom was able to be there and love every minute of the day. She never realized the date had been changed. The last picture taken last Friday.


Filed under Children, Family, Food, Humor, Random, The Great Outdoors

Happy! Hoppy! and Humbled!

Many of you know I also am committed to the Post a Photo a Day Challenge that is initiated by Word Press. One of the blogs I follow is a Photo Contest where both amateur and professional photographers from around the world submit incredible photos from gorgeous and exotic places…

I will get back to that in a minute. But my Totally Random Happy thoughts want to share the Hoppy photo first.

I want you to know that I know where Easter Eggs really, truly come from. They are laid by an adorable pink girl bunny. In this photo she appears to be counting the eggs as she lays them. Here is the proof.

This is where Easter Eggs come from.

Now back to the rest of the story. In the many years of my passionate obsession with taking photos I have never submitted any of my work in any competition except once and it took second place.  I have not been anywhere exotic or out the country in a couple of years but had and idea for an interesting photo taken close to home. I sent it off, and pretty much forgot it.

Today when I opened my email I saw the title of the winning photo that was chosen for today.

You can check it out here:

And this is why I am HappyHoppy and very HUMBLED today.

Egg dying is at our house is tomorrow and two extremely excited grand-kids are coming. Sometime between work today and “eggs” tomorrow I have to clean the house and get the family dinner ready. I can’t wait for everyone to be here. I love any excuse to cook for everyone and for all of us to be together.

Wishing you all a blessed Easter.



Filed under Decorating, Family, Food, Holiday, Photography

Run. It’s Another Grandmother Brag

It’s no secret I’m nutty over my grandkids. It is written into the rules and code book for grandmothers and I’m just doing my job.

Some of you know Sweet Hubs and I and our daughter flew to Denver to spend the weekend with our granddaughter and her mother. It was her final home game and the last day of games for Colorado College’s Gym. A new athletic center is under construction and the gym was scheduled to be gutted on Monday.

Three Seniors Honored

I thrust my camera into the hand of one of the Team Dad’s. With a 2 minute lesson in using the camera he bravely took on the task of filming the ceremony and snapping a few pictures. The team members are wearing pink tee shirts for breast cancer awareness. The senior women took their’s off for the ceremony. In the front row flanked by team mates is Jordy Stephensen #25 with her mother and father, Jenny Knapp #11 with her mom and dad. Next is Sweet Hubs, me, Becky Luetjen #2 with her mom (our daughter Lee). It was sweet of Becky to bend way down so she wouldn’t tower over her elders. 😉

Colorado College Women won their game. Becky came to sit with us afterward and didn’t really want me to take a photo, after all she was hot, sweaty, and devoid of any makeup. It was a coincidence that she and her mom were both wearing the same color.

Becky and Lee

After this a group of future basketball players came over to the CC team and asked to have their shirts signed. The ladies sweetly obliged.

Here's a pen, Becky.

Many signatures

Two very happy future players

These two sweeties just couldn’t stop smiling after their shirts were signed. They were very happy to pose for a photo.

We had a fabulous weekend to celebrate Becky’s 13 year commitment to basketball. We came back with some great photos and memories. Becky is the hardest working person I know and deserves any and honors that come her way.

Now to validate my claim that she is awesome, I submit proof right here:

Honest, there were no bribes, I do not even know any of the people who made this decision.




Filed under Family, Food, Photography, Random

The Luncheon

I promised this post on an odd day, but here it is a day late. It happens. Sometimes business comes before pleasure and I do own a company that I need to promote. I decided letting people know about it would be a step in the right directions. How better to do that than with a WordPress blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. So that is what I have done the past couple of days, or mostly evenings after work.  My hope is all my followers and friends will at least check them out and “like” or “follow” or most of all “share” my company with everyone they know. I will share lunch details and get back to business at the end of lunch. ;D

Aside from overcooking the turkey, the result of which was the very well-known bad thing about turkey, it turned mean and got dry. I’m so sorry, all who were here. But on to the good stuff.

This was 3 gallons of fruit, whittled down to a couple of cups.

Team and friends

The team and some guests squeeze in around the table.

Her Uncle Paul, bad timing with his blink.

l-r: Mom, Chris, Becky, Greta, & Sherrey

iPad with brother Chris, cousin Greta and Aunt Sherrey.

Uncle Doug & Aunt Sherrey

In no time at all our wonderful day drew to a close. The team wanted a chance to see something of Portland before they had to be at the airport. Last I heard they were headed to VooDoo Doughnuts.

That is an event not be missed if you ever venture to PDX. You know the town proudly displays tee shirts and bumper stickers that say “Keep Portland Weird.” That pretty much sums that up.

Uncle Doug and Aunt Sherrey headed home to Seattle a place where people are not that weird and pride themselves on some rather cultural events and things like the Space Needle and Pike Street Market.

There you have it all.




Filed under Family, Food, Random

Colorado College Women’s Basketball Team

Our Girl is behind the the girl in white.

Game 1 vs George Fox

I may (may?? maybe only a few hundred times) have mentioned that my wonderful granddaughter is a senior at Colorado College this year. She has started every game for all four years. This year CC scheduled a two game trip to Oregon. They have not played here in years. What an exciting gift to be able to drive to two games.

The first game was Friday night at George Fox University in Newberg Oregon.

The Action Was Fierce and Brutal our girl was double teamed throughout.

What a game. I was amazed the girls stayed for the end. I have never seen so many fresh bruises on a group of young women. CC lost the game, in fact it was one of those games everyone wants to forget quickly. Here are a few pictures from that game, our women are in black.


(RATS. Here I spent a long time making three separate slide shows, only to have three identical slide shows simultaneously mixing

Elbows Fly, white gets away with it. (Home cooking)

the photos randomly. So I will simply show the individual photos until I figure out what, exactly made it not work. Probably something simple that my overly tired brain just didn’t comprehend last night. I knew better than to preview, I wanted to go to bed “thinking” it was a great post. HUMILITY is good for a person. Update Monday Dec 12, 2011)

The Fans were there in support.

Colorado Fans include granddad, uncle, cousins and the pretty lady in the background is her mom.

It was not a happy game to watch. Colorado College Women were simply overpowered by a team that averaged an eight inch height advantage across the board. It started with the tip off, the CC forward is a great leaper at 5’11” by not quite able to out reach their 6’5″ post. Our forward at a stretched 5’4″ had her hands full with a 5’10” guard.

Her Aunt and Uncle came from Seattle, one grandmother's pink coat is in the background, her brothers girlfriend is the dark haired beauty and her father is at the extreme right.

We remained a loyal fan base of about 10 people out of the reported 500 who showed up to watch this game. Colorado never gave up, and they proved they are scrappy, but against a much larger in numbers team with such a huge height advantage, this didn’t have much of a chance from the opening tip off to the final buzzer. The one thing the girls did receive is the largest number and most impressive bruises ever.

(Whew, even though this has not been without technical details, at least it is an improvement.)

Game Two Saturday Night vs Linfield 

The Opposition Has Demon Eyes

So moving right on to Saturday night’s game at Linfield College in McMinnville, we had a good game. It was close throughout. Intentional fouls at the end only increased the lead, but the girls enjoyed a good game. They were not badly disappointed by the loss.

Our granddaughter had a total of 20 fans in the stands which included  grandparents, aunts, uncles, hometown friends, even friends from pre-school.

More Action

The Action was fast, the other team of normal size.

Action, the girls play hard




















Girls Play Hard ,Fast and Tough

Women Basketball is a Hard, Fast, and Tough Game

Triple Teaming Luetjen

Luetjen Scores

Luetjen scores from down town!!

Time Out for Bloody Nose-Elbow to Luetjen's Nose

Time Out is Called for a Blood, Elbow to Luetjen's Nose

Luetjen Shoots and Scores

At the foul line Luetjen shoots, it's good.

Nothing But Net

Nothing but net!!




















































The girls  women had a solid game, they were down three with under a minute, the intentional fouls didn’t work out. Linfield women were on their game and didn’t choke. They made their foul shots and won. They get knocked to the hardwood while running full speed. I wouldn’t survive the bounce on the hardwood, they simply get up, try to get even, and continue to play.

Saving the Best for Last

Then the very best part was today, Sunday. We were privileged to host the Colorado College Women’s Team at our house for lunch. They are a group of young women that the college  and their parents must be very proud of. In all we had 26 team members, family and friends of Ms Luetjen here. It was an amazing day.

After being up until 2AM and then back up at 7:30 to get the turkey in the oven, I was in a near panic as I looked at my list. Nothing there was difficult, just an impossible time frame to accomplish it. A few minutes later in walked my daughter (among her management job skills is a catering manager at a large hotel). She picked up my list and pitched in. In the next two hours everything was finished and ready, the van pulled in as we put the rolls in the oven to warm. I had even had time to get change from my pajamas and was ready. We were calm, cool and collected and ready to great our guests.

What did we serve? More on the next odd day on our dinner, if you are interested in what I cooked to feed that many. It’s past bedtime for two exhausted hosts. I don’t think I mentioned hubs washed all the windows inside and out, vacuumed and a million other things on Saturday afternoon between shopping for food for the luncheon and leaving for the game. He was amazing, while I worked on food prep and a million other jobs that needed to be done for the house to look like Christmas and “company ready.”



PS.   OH Dear! We are exhausted and hubs went into the bedroom…the sheets are in the dryer (I did laundry after I got all the dishes done and the food put away) AND THEY ARE NOT DRY. We may both cry, too tired to deal with this. At least this catastrophe only affects we two. The two who worked their butts off accomplished nothing short of a miracle to get it done. We need a warm bed NOW!

PSS This is Monday morning. We  survived, the sheets were warm and dry and the bed toasty when we climbed in just after midnight. The sun is shining today!!



Filed under Family, Food, Holiday, Photography, Random