Monday 5 January 2009

Let's Start the Year with Crepes

Happy fifth day of the New Year! To start off the year right, I want to thank everyone who sent warm wishes through here recently; each of those was a wonderful gift, and I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by you lovely people.

Now, to dive right in. There is a reason why the empty plate in the mundane scene above is important. I ate a stack of crepes. And then I called Mr. S. at work to tell him that I'd eaten a stack of crepes.

Mr. S. is now used to me randomly calling him at work with news like this. That's because this past fall I'd finally figured out why I've had almost daily stomachaches since my early teens. Stomachaches sometimes so severe that when Mr. S. and I were first together he would insist that I needed to go the hospital and I would insist that I was fine and that it happened all the time and it was no big deal.

I've got celiac disease. (We're still testing, but it's pretty sure.) I haven't said anything about it here yet because I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to talk about the crying in the kitchen, the confidence shattered (if I can make vegan Mennonite food, I can bake anything, right?), the frustration over all the work done to eat local, over the fact that there is no way that rice is local to Toronto, and the throwing of the stupid cookbooks with their serious recommendations that I shouldn't try baking until at least 6 months after stopping eating gluten so that I wouldn't remember what bread really tastes like.

After the success with crepes this morning, I was ready, and more importantly, I felt moved to say something, just in case there's someone else out there throwing cookbooks and eating only naked salads at restaurants (gluten is in f-in' everything). In case there's just one other vegan-gluten intolerant-locavore out there, just to say that it will be o.k. (Bear with me here while I sound like a bad 80's self-help book....)

It will be o.k. mostly because of amazing people like Karina at Gluten-Free-Goddess. (Thank the heavens for the internet.) It will be o.k. because buckwheat, chickpea flour, and corn are local, and because quinoa and amaranth someday could be. It will be o.k. because right now rice is my medicine, and I'm pretty sure no-one's advocating local medicine (thank goodness!) And, very importantly, it will be o.k. because Pizza Pizza has a gluten free crust.

I was always so tired, fuzzy-headed, and worse, always always fighting that ball of irritability in my core. I had cramps, stomachaches, and Mr. S.'s favourite, gas that would gas a skunk out of an outhouse :-) For the first, oh, 16 days after starting to not eat gluten, I would call Mr. S. at work: "Guess what?" What? "I don't have a stomachache today!" and I'd gleefully hang up.

So, to finally share the celebration, here's the crepe recipe, adapted from Veganomicon (which is kind of ironic, because it was the hours of agony back in July after the chickpea cutlets, made from vital wheat gluten, that tipped me off):

the amazing incredible gluten free vegan buckwheat crepes

1 1/2 cups soy or rice milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I keep a homemade blend of 1/2 brown rice flour, then arrowroot/sorghum/tapioca/quinoa flour to make up the other half - you generally need some starch and some protein when making a blend)
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 Tablespoon arrowroot flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine everything, whisk/beat until smooth. Pour into an airtight container (I use a large jar for easy pouring) and let sit in the fridge, preferably overnight. When ready to cook the crepes, stir briefly (or shake the jar) if ingredients have separated.

This batter will be more viscous than usual wheat based batter. They say that when making crepes, the first crepe or two must be sacrificed, but we have a trick that works well (on our well-seasoned cast iron pan, anyway). When the pan is nice and hot (medium to medium-high heat, depending on your stove - a sprinkle of water should dance), add a little oil (a teaspoon) and coat the pan using a pastry brush. The bristles get sacrificed a bit, but the crepes will never stick and seem to always cook evenly, even on the first go.

Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup in the pan, swirl around, then cook until there are bubbles showing and the top is mostly dry - the edges should be starting to lift. Flip, cook a little more, and voila! Perfect crepes!


And for a good laugh (mixed with a few tears) for all you proud food freaks out there (of any ilk), I just found this list. Enjoy, and happy eating!


Amy said...

I don't know much about celiac except to say that the few friends I have who are afflicted have told me that their diagnosis has changed their lives. They have said across the board, that the changes in their lives while hard to do, were nothing compared to how much better they felt. Try and go with that. You are going to feel GOOD. Good luck.

Marnie said...

Amy, you're so right. And thanks so much for the encouragement.

As I mentioned, it is almost unbelievable the change in the way I feel. And one of the weirdest, most unexpected changes? My carsickness went away. Just. like. that. (I think because it's an autoimmune disease?)
For which I'm happy, because it means I can read to Safiya on the bus now.

But my most favourite thing that happened is that the fatigue and irritability went away. That fight is over and won.


Jennifer said...

oh, bless you, and rooting for you! the chickpea flour crepes were delish, btw--


K Allrich said...

Yay for crepes. Those look super good. I've been dreaming about buckwheat crepes for a month. How did you know? (and thanks for the lovely shout-out!)...

It gets only better from here. Take care!

Marnie said...

thanks enthusia - and glad you liked the chickpea ones!

wow - thanks karina, for your words of encouragement! i can't wait to see your version of buckwheat crepes!