Gluten Hoppers


In my imagination, this cleverly drawn little rock hopper looked more impressive as a headliner.

Your best friend loves White Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake. For her birthday you make one. From scratch. No Betty Crocker, no canned frosting. Only the best and freshest $15 worth of ingredients for your BFF.
“Surprise!” you say. “I baked you a cake!”
You sense something is wrong by her sheepish grimace and pained eyes.
“Oh, thanks awfully,” she says. “I guess you hadn’t heard I’ve gone gluten-free.”

The next year you scavenge the internet for gluten-free recipes. You find one and buy $25 worth of ingredients to make wheat-free cake. You box it up and wrap with bright ribbons and shiver in anticipation of her happy face and happier intestinal tract.

At her birthday dinner she eats every roll in the bread basket and orders fried chicken. Which is chicken dipped in flour. Wheat flour.

“Can you eat that?” you ask, as she requests a refill on the rolls. “Aren’t you gluten-free?”

She scrunches up her eyes as if trying to recapture some faraway memory. “Sort of. Sometimes. Look! They have White Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake! Want to split one?”

You actually want to split the $25 gluten-free cake over her head. The following year you get her a gift card from Bath and Body Works.

Some people really can’t eat gluten. Really. They may have Celiac’s Disease and gluten does nasty things to them. Some are severely sensitive to wheat and its cohorts. They read food labels with more fervor than a bookie analyzing the point spread.

Then there’s the rest of us—not so much gluten-intolerant as gluten-irritable. We don’t resist gluten on a consistent basis; it’s more like an open marriage. Some days we are true to our vows. Wheat will not pass our lips. We trust our guts and our guts feel pretty decent. But when a bagel rolls by, winking and crooking its finger at us, we slather on cream cheese and we eat. We are happy. Deliriously so.

Until the regrets—the bitter fruit of Yielding to Temptation. It starts with a feeling in the pit of the stomach. Gurglings and rumblings, headaches and fatigue, or just garden-variety guilt. It reminds us for hours and sometimes days that gluten is not our friend. And we swear to once again avoid even the appearance of any dalliance with that yeasty, aromatic, mouth-watering…sorry.

Gluten-hoppers are annoying. We admit it. We are inconsistent. Truthfully, some of us aren’t even absolutely positive that the stuff giving dough its delightful elasticity is the stuff that makes us feel lousy. So we hop from rock to dietary rock trying to escape Mt. Vesuvius as it threatens to erupt in our innards.

We just want to feel good. Be patient with us in our quest to find the Mt. Everest for digestive systems. When we find it, we hope it will have White Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake.

The Disgraced Dutchwoman wakes up


Dutchwomen are known for being tall.
Maybe blonde.
Clean. Really clean.
And thrifty.

I am a Dutchwoman.
I can do tall. I used to be 5’7”. And a bit.
But the shrinking economy is doing something odd to yardsticks. They’ve gone all stingy and now they say I’m 5’6’. And nothing.

Did you know not all the Dutch are blonde? Oodles and oodles have dark hair, or hair that was dark a decade or so ago.

That clean part, now—
My mother-in-law is a Dutchwoman. She cleans her bathtub on hands and knees and then dismantles the drain to clean down it.
Not because it is plugged. Not because anybody will ever look down her drain.
But because dirt might have assembled there, all smug, thinking she could never reach it.
She cannot shower in peace knowing something grubby lurks just beyond her toes.

Please, dear mother-in-law, don’t peer down my drains. Don’t pull the vegetable drawer from my fridge to see if rogue spills escaped detection. They did. Crumbs cluster on my butter dish and dust lives in peace for weeks—sometimes months—under the spare bed.
Do I scrub my front stoop? Do you need to ask?

The Dutch can be fabulously thrifty. (Some might even say tight.) And while I can brag up garage sale finds and 90% off end-of-season deals, I’ll invite ten people for dinner and buy enough food for the US Olympic team. And store the leftovers till they get freezer burn and I don’t feel as guilty dumping them.

In spite of my hundred-proof Dutch blood, I make a poor showing. But when my credit card bill showed a $99 yearly charge for ‘The Tuesday Prude’ where I post, at best, once each season, something in that sluggish Netherlands blood began to trickle, then swirl, then positively surge through my veins.
Almost a hundred dollars for something I never use?
This shall not be.

The plan is to blog more. Maybe, like the dirt in my mother-in-law’s drain, no one will ever see. But I’ll rest easier knowing ninety-nine dollars didn’t just chug down the pipes and into the blog sewer.