The Gluten Free Support Group of Toledo combined forces with the Gourmet Celiac Group when they sampled the gluten-free menu at Carrabba's Italian Grille in Maumee this month. Proprietor Rachel Airhart, who extended the invitation to 30 members, provided a menu that included soup, entrees and dessert, and even a gluten-free beer to sample.
Dining out has always been difficult for people who are celiac or who have gluten intolerance. They can't eat bread, pasta, or any foods with wheat. But a few local restaurants, including chain restaurants like Carrabba's, have gluten-free selections.
At Carrabba's Italian Grill, people who need gluten-free food can even bring "their own gluten-free pasta or gluten-free bread," said Ms. Airhart, noting the restaurant serves at least two gluten-free customers a day. "We'll add pasta sauces. They can dip the [gluten-free] bread in our herb and oil mixture."
"Their biggest thing is they are afraid to eat out. We use brand new bowls and change our gloves when serving customers."
The dinner began with a delicious Mama Mandola's Sicilian Chicken Soup. Gluten-free diners need to request that no pasta be added to the soup. Request salads without croutons and ask that the salad be mixed in a fresh bowl.
Next the group sampled Pollo Rosa Maria, which is grilled chicken breast stuffed with Fontina cheese and prosciutto, topped with mushrooms and a basil lemon butter sauce - all gluten-free ingredients. It was served with garlic mashed potatoes.
The grilled trout special had a gluten-free sauce (many of Carrabba's sauces are gluten-free, such as Roasted Tomato and Salsa Verde).
For dessert, there was Carrabba's special dessert of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and roasted cinnamon rum pecans. Most ice creams are gluten-free.
Where you run into trouble is when they add cookie dough or candy, mixtures that are outside of their control, says Jean Meagley of the Gluten Free Support Group of Toledo. The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at the Center for Creative Education at the University of Toledo Medical Center. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Oct. 9. Call 419-578-4947 for information.
The Gourmet Celiac Group meets every other month at the Holland Branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library. The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 14. "We exchange recipes. Our main mission is to see how we can make food more interesting for celiacs," says Rita Malkin. "I love cooking." Call 419-344-2508 for information.
For the latest information and recommendations on canning tomatoes, consult your county extension office, says Susan Zies of the Ohio State University Extension. She notes that cherry tomatoes are not recommended for canning.
Remember that the sealed jars and food need to be brought up to a boiling temperature of 212 degrees when the food is in the jar to guarantee food safety. Additionally, 1 tablespoon lemon juice or citric acid must be added per pint, and 2 tablespoons per quart. Also, salt is added for taste.
She recommends a great Web site for food preservation: www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html.
As a follow-up to the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off held at the Lucas County Fairgrounds in August, event organizer Ella Dudek announced these winners (in first, second, and third places):
Best Sauce: Butches, Sidelines, and Pigfoot. National Golden Rib: Butches, Armadillo's, and Hog Wild BBQ. Local Golden Rib: We R Ribs, Sidelines, and Tony's BBQ. People's Choice: Sidelines, Butches, and Tony's BBQ.
The Hamler Heritage Society will hold a Soup, Salad, Sandwich, and Sweets Brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Hamler City Hall at the corner of State Rt. 109 and Marion Street. The menu includes chicken-tortilla, broccoli-cheese, and tomato soups as well as chicken salad on croissants and hot dog sandwiches. A variety of salads will be available as well as cake, coffee, and punch.
Historical programs will be presented at 11:30 a.m., noon, and 12:30 p.m. A donation to the Hamler Heritage Society is suggested.
After a successful launch of the group Slow Food Maumee Valley this summer, leader Paula Ross reports the new blogspot includes information about upcoming events. Visit www.slowfoodmaumeevalley.blogspot.com/.