Friday, November 15, 2013

Nightmare on South Street

Many of my recurring nightmares
involve flights of stairs ...
Since my diagnosis of celiac disease, my recurring nightmares have changed.

I used to have two frequent dreams that caused me to sit straight up in my bed in the middle of the night, which I’m sure are directly related to the stress I was feeling in my life. In one of my nightmares, I am in an upstairs bedroom at my grandparents’ house (Lockwood, MO). It is pouring rain, and the roof is leaking. In the dream I am scrambling around the room trying to catch the leaks in one of those white ceramic basins with a red rim.

In the second dream, I am climbing up a flight of stairs and several of the steps are missing.  I am desperately trying to figure out how to bridge the gap. This dream takes place in many different settings, from one of my childhood homes (Hartville, MO) to the Polk County Courthouse (Bolivar, MO), where there are some pretty scary stairs leading to the clock tower. (A county employee took me up there one time when I was working the “courthouse beat” for the Bolivar Herald-Free Press.)

While I still have those dreams on rare occasions, my new recurring nightmare is directly related to celiac disease. As innocent as it may seem, I always wake up in a sweat, hoping it is a dream. In that nightmare, I am enjoying a warm piece of homemade bread slathered in butter and apple butter, when I suddenly remember that I have celiac disease and that I am now doomed to days of illness.

For most people, dreaming of warm bread and apple butter would be anything but a nightmare. For those of us to whom gluten equals poison, that third dream takes on feelings of Hitchcockian horror. While bread-eating terror may seem trivial to wheat-eaters, many of us with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, especially those of us who have been lifelong bread-eaters, can understand the trauma.

With patience and persistence, though, people with celiac disease can find reasonable substitutes for Grandma’s homemade bread. Here are a few tips for obtaining your daily ration:

Not bad for gluten-free!
  • Use a Bread Machine. Shortly after I learned my plight, I bought a Cuisinart bread machine with a gluten-free setting and figured out how to use several of the available gluten-free bread mixes to concoct a pretty decent loaf of bread. A few of the mixes I’ve tried with success include those from Gluten Free Pantry, Namaste, Pamela’s, and Bob’s Red Mill. These mixes taste good enough for the wheat-eaters in my family to enjoy (but, in all honesty, they aren’t as good as Grandma’s). 
  • Find a Good Cookbook. If you’re into baking, you can find many, many cookbooks on the market that will instruct you on baking wonderful gluten-free bread. Two such cookbooks in my library are Carol Fenster’s Gluten-Free Quick & Easy and Richard J. Coppedge’s Gluten-Free Baking. Those books contain recipes for flour blends that work well in bread baking and pastry making. And there are a host of other books on the market that will walk you through the process. I admit that I haven’t made the effort to try much bread-baking from scratch myself. While that’s not a hill I’m going to die on, many people find the challenge fun and energizing. 
  • Visit Bakeries and Farmers Markets. Another way to find good gluten-free bread is by visiting your local bakeries and farmers markets and purchasing from the gluten-free bakers you find there. I blogged a while back about Scotty’s Biscotti, a booth at the farmers market in Springfield, MO, that I frequent. I buy loaves of Scotty’s gluten-free bread, bring it home and slice it up, package it into individual servings, and freeze it until I’m ready to toast it or make paninis. 
  • Check out blogs and websites. Yet another source for advice on gluten-free bread is the Internet. Many, many wonderful bakers have blogs and newsletters with such information. Click on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness link ( on this website to find an unlimited number of free gluten-free bread and other recipes. The Gluten-Free Global Community ( is also made up of many interesting blogs with recipes and advice about gluten-free living. 
  • Search the shelves of your favorite stores. Of course, you can always buy one of the many varieties of gluten-free bread found at your health food or even your local grocery store. Udi’s, Kinnikinnick, Whole Foods Market Gluten-Free Bakehouse, EnerG, Food for Life, Glutino, and Rudi’s are among the most popular brands. To be perfectly honest, your gluten-eating family members probably aren’t going to like these products very much, but they taste pretty good, (especially if you haven’t had the real thing for a while).

Until recently, finding any decent gluten-free bread was mostly a bad dream. As producers, grocers, and restaurateurs are becoming more and more aware of celiac disease and gluten intolerance in their customers, however, we can now find fairly easy solutions to curtail those nightmares.