I knew when I started planning my trip to Shirley’s for a weekend of gluten-free food blogger fun that I had to see some of my other friends in the vicinity with whom I spent a little time last year. When I contacted my other friends about dates I told them up front not to worry about food and that I would happily cook for them while staying in their respective homes, especially since my list of food allergies multiplied by six since the last time I saw them.
You would think that all those food allergies and intolerances would deter me from traveling and road tripping. But as we say back home, “No worries, Beef Curry!” The minute you think of something as impossible, you cripple yourself with fear.
My first stop after leaving Shirley’s was a few days with my friend, Jerm, and his family. We went to Costco after he arrived home from work to pick out some proteins and produce while his wife, DD, stayed home with Little Buddy and started making the quinoa & black bean salad.
Jerm picked up a bag of mixed greens and a bag of spinach while we were in the refrigerated produce and suggested making a salad. Now, if you haven’t clicked on the link in the first paragraph about my visit last year, you should know Jerm and I go all the way back to sixth grade. He was my next door neighbor for years and we were in the same sixth grade class (you know, when sixth grade was still elementary school). I witnessed him eating a lot of pizza, burgers, and the typical teenage fare. I never recall him eating a salad. Ever. We got home with the goods and he was talking to DD about making a salad with the mixed greens and spinach. She looked at him like he just grew another head. Then she looked to me because she didn’t believe it was his idea until I confirmed it was totally his idea. Dinner was teamwork in action. DD made the quinoa & black bean salad. Jerm fired up the grill for the steaks and asparagus. I made the salad with mixed greens, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado, and homemade dressing.
There was consensus between Jerm and DD that they needed to eat like this more often and that I need to visit more. Even Little Buddy was enjoy his tiny bites of steak, avocado, and greens. Of course, I had to take a picture of Jerm with his salad to prove to his mom he really did eat salad.
The next day was Jerm’s telecommute day and he kept Little Buddy home with us. I wanted to go to the National Mall to walk around and see the war memorials, but the skies looked angry and I was fine with staying in and reading while Jerm “worked.” Guess what Jerm ate for lunch? If you guessed salad, you win! Totally his idea again. He sliced up his leftover steak (we each ate only half our steak) and laid it over some of the leftover salad. If oranges were on hand, I would have made him a spin on my Steak Salad with Orange Fennel Dressing for him because we had half a fennel in the fridge.
I wanted to use up some of the food Shirley sent me off with because they needed to be used quickly. I did a spin on my Sweet Beet Salad to use up the beets. I also had plums to use up and used those instead of apples. I did not use the dressing in the recipe so it was purely beets and plums. I made another salad with a different homemade dressing. Jerm grilled some pork chops and sweet peppers. I made a mustard balsamic sauce for the pork chops which was met with rave reviews and a message from DD last week asking how I made it.
I discovered when DD came home that she does not like beets. Uh oh. I asked her if she ever had fresh raw beets and she said she hadn’t. I assured her they taste much different than roasted beets and even more different than canned beets. And that I once didn’t like them myself. She was a good sport and tried the beet salad. Then she went back for seconds.
My last full day I was totally on my own. I ventured into downtown to go to the Folger Shakespeare Library. Silly me decided to go to the National Mall to walk around when I done despite the fact that I knew it would be crowded for the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. I’ll get more into that in another post.
I got rained on while I walked around the Mall, but it didn’t pour like I thought it would and I made it back to my car with time to spare on the meter. I sat there in my car for a few minutes to check messages and send texts because my phone reception was spotty in the house. It was fine by me. Being disconnected isn’t always a bad thing and it can help with grounding.
Jerm texted me while I was out asking if I like mahi mahi because he found it on sale at Trader Joe’s. I think he was worried I don’t like it. The only fish I don’t like is shark. I may have had it poorly prepared, but I just didn’t care for it. There is fish I like more than others. If you give me a choice between salmon or tuna, it will be salmon every time.
I still had lots of time to myself before Jerm and DD returned home from work. I spent a little time writing and reading before I started in on dinner prep.
I roasted the last bunch of beets mid-afternoon so they would have time to cool by the time I needed to remove the skin and slice them up. I used them to top a spinach and mushroom salad with another homemade dressing. I wanted to use up the garbanzo beans I brought and really just made it up as I went along. Beans, red bell pepper, green onion, and what was left of the dressing from Dinner #1. I tossed it all together and let it sit in the fridge until dinner was ready.
I was holding Little Buddy my last morning with my friends and the following conversation took place.
Jerm: He’s worried about who is going to cook his dinner tonight.
Me: He’s worried or you’re worried?
Jerm: *busted face*
Yes, I love my friend. It was great not only spending time with him, but also witnessing his sense of humor in action with his sly grin again. I didn’t get much of that in the short time we had last year. It’s always heartwarming to know that while your friend from long ago really grew up, he didn’t change what really makes him him.
I loved watching him and DD interact because it was what I imagined people see with me and Chaz. I chuckled to myself many times watching them. Especially the looks DD would throw at him that I use, too.
I know food allergies can feel overwhelming sometimes and we refrain from doing the fun things in life like traveling. It doesn’t have to be difficult or hard. When you have friends who get it and want to make sure you stay safe it gets even easier. Last year my bestie went the extra mile and bought an extra set of stainless steel pots and pans for our visit. Check out some simple tips from Welcome Kitchen about traveling safe with food allergies. I follow two of the tips, one of which is this post in action. The other is staying in places with a kitchen like I did last year when I went home for my grandmother’s funeral.
If I can navigate traveling with eleven different food allergies/intolerances, you can!