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Ways to Help-#WineCountryStrong


cropped-798.jpg Photo taken from the hills behind Gundlach Bundschu

To write about wine while the wine country burns feels wrong to me.

And yet finding the words to do the tragedy justice seems impossible.

When I look at the devastation, see what has been taken, how can I respond? When I start to realize the enormity of the situation, all words seem trite.

Each photo elicits the same few words: devastating, heartbreaking, unbelievable.

Each new days brings more reports of loss and not enough containment and evacuations.

Each feed brings different reports of heartache and heroism, of loss and resilience.

It is a place that I’ve never called home, but every time I visit, it sure feels like one. It is home for many friends and for my father-in-law. It is the heart of our country’s wine industry, a place where people dream of living. A place where people have spent…

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Just a quick note to correct some erroneous impressions that may have occurred from my last post.

  1. I thought the whole “tipsy” angle might be funny.  Obviously, it fell short.  I love people who can make me laugh and aspire to be one.  Sadly, I have a more earnest nature, and never seem to be able to pull off “funny.”
  2. It would be hard to actually be tipsy on the 1 to 1 ½ oz. of wine consumed during the barrel tasting I did that day to determine the adjustments the wine needed. With my severe low blood sugar and not eating for hours, it was a wonder I was not passed out in a coma though.
  3. What I intended to convey—the vineyard tasks are and were so involved and time-consuming that every time I planned an hour of work, it easily turned into two or three.  This was the first year I had professional guidance in how to manage the vines properly.  I was constantly shocked by the tedious, time-consuming nature of the required chores.

The bottom line is I need to be true to my more serious nature in my writing , no matter how funny I wish I was.

Third Time’s a Charm?

Wine Country Living

Name Change

Well, here I am again, wanting to write, wanting to change the focus of this blog, wanting to change the name to reflect that change.  As gluten-free awareness has exploded the last three years, there is less and less need for a gluten-free sleuth.   Expanded, detailed information and research have obsoleted my hard-earned and, many times, painful original research to discover the landmines of hidden gluten.

With the new government regulations of 20 ppm of allowable gluten in foods labeled GF, those of us that are super sensitive or have an extreme case of Celiac disease already know we still have to read ingredient lists even when the food is labeled GF.  For example, teff flour has some gluten in it, but falls under the 20 ppm of gluten allowed by the FDA.  One day of eating something with teff flour does not affect  me; whereas, consecutive days rip my stomach apart.

While I am not thrilled that the FDA arbitrarily decided on our behalf that any ppm of gluten is ok for Celiac disease and gluten intolerance, the new labeling guidelines at least point me in the right label-reading direction, saving me time in the grocery store.  For that, I am thankful.

So…my daily focus has swerved to GF Wine Making and GF Wine Country Living.  The blog name needs to reflect this new direction.  After this entry, I will be changing my name to GF Wine Country Living. Again, I hope I do not lose any of you, but in case I do, the new name will be the following:

GF Wine Country Living.

Last time I changed names, you did not have to do a thing.  WordPress automatically carried you along.  Hopefully, this third name change will be “the one.”  Thanks for your loyalty, and stay tuned for a new, fun focus.


Refreshing Watermelon Cocktail

Because this summer has been hotter than normal, I have become a bit obsessed with making versions of Peri’s Spice Ladle’s summer watermelon drink, which can be used as a refreshing fruit drink or a rather guilt-free cocktail: watermelon has so much potassium and fiber; the lemon juice, high in Vitamin C; the mint, so good for the digestion, not to mention refreshing.  How’s that for rationalization.

Nearly incapable of following a recipe to the letter, I have come up with a lower calorie version of Peri’s original recipe posted in her summer drinks entry.


My Low Calorie Version of Peri’s Spice Ladle’s Watermelon Drink

1 to 1 ½ cups cubed watermelon

Juice of one fresh lemon

Juice of one fresh lime

1 packet of stevia or 1 tsp. of stevia powder

¼ to 1/3 cup tonic water

2 pinches of salt

2 pinches of black pepper

1-2 oz. of Tito’s or other GF Vodka

(I took out the calorie laden lemon lime soda–added real lemon and lime juice and tonic water– and the sweetener–added stevia powder, which is not only lower in calories, but does not cause a blood sugar issue.)

Whiz all the above ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Taste.  Correct the sweetness with more sweetener or correct the tanginess with more lime or lemon.  Rewhiz.  Taste.  Throw in some ice cubes if you want it slushy like a margarita. Rewhiz.  Pour into a fun martini glass.  If you are giving it to company, I would float a couple of mint leaves on top for a polished look.  This also works as a great refreshing and healthy drink–sans the Vodka–for kids.


This goes nicely with my husband’s favorite hors d’oeuvre of prosciutto wrapped shrimp.  Add a summer evening cooled to an enjoyable temperature, a back deck, and later, a star-studded sky. Voila! A great stay-cation!

Why the search for hidden glutens?

Glutenfree Sleuth
With truly tasty GF treats flooding the market place, life as a gluten intolerant becomes easier every day.  Or does it?  I am amazed, after fourteen years on a supposedly GF diet how often I get whammied by some hidden gluten resulting in violent cramping in the middle of the night,  mad sprints to the bathroom with unpredictable diarrhea, and a matching-limbed rash up and down the insides of my legs.

As a health food, organic fruits- of-the-land foodie kind of gal with a nutrition background, how do these surprises continue to happen?

Two words–hidden glutens.

I am talking about things we normally think of as safe: red wine, hairspray, foods labeled GF, and on and on.

With a full blown case of Celiac disease, not a mere sensitivity, I seem to be vulnerable to even one molecule of gluten.  After fourteen years of religiously adhering to the diet, my body has become more pure and more sensitive to even one hidden gluten molecule.  I am on a mission to ferret out those hidden glutens that take me down, accidentally, even when I am doing my own cooking and trying desperately hard NOT to ingest one molecule of gluten or let one molecule of gluten be absorbed through my skin.

Ironic, how someone that loves the sensuality of food, someone who blasts Il Divo while chopping onions, someone who  savors every smell, texture, and taste of each bite can have a disease where that very food can be her demise.

So…yes, I am on a hunt to find the hidden glutens wherever they reside, so that I can enthusiastically continue to enjoy one of the true delights of living in a human body…food!