I’m the gluten free husband, Ryan, and I decided today to muster up the courage and try a gluten free recipe on my own! That’s right – Jenn was nowhere to be seen during the making of this dish. I have been waiting on my new job to start and have been playing stay-at-home husband for the last month or so. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed the time off and the chance to explore other hobbies. Oddly, I did not expect cooking to be one of those hobbies that would attract my attention. Normally I’m perfectly content with just eating the food Jenn makes. However, with Jenn at work most of the day during the week and the brunt of the food preparation falling on my shoulders, I decided to make the most of it and found out I enjoy cooking too. Also, there is something to be said about the feeling you get when your loved one gets home after a hard day’s work and smiles and hugs you for preparing a nice meal and cleaning up the apartment a bit. Love is about giving after all, and it is extremely rewarding to know that I can show my love in this way as well, even by giving something as simple as dinner.
I have been gluten free for about 7 years now. In fact, most of my immediate family has gluten issues (of differing intensity/denial). While I have not officially been diagnosed as celiac, through trial and error and a very competent and patient allergist it is pretty obvious that gluten is the bane of my existence, literally. In only half an hour from ingesting said evil the symptoms start, and then it takes a good few days to feel normal and human again. Before I met Jenn, I really didn’t have a good handle on how to live gluten free, and mainly lived off of Benadryl and constant reactions from cross-contamination and lack of established gluten free eating habits. When I was able to follow being gluten free, my diet was so repetitive and bland that I hated it. I had come to the point where I just wasn’t even excited about food anymore. But I also didn’t know how to cook very well back then.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I know it’s cliché, especially being near Valentine’s Day and all, but Jenn swept me off my feet with each meal she would make. I was able to taste flavors and dishes that I hadn’t eaten in years. And some things that were totally new to me as well. I’m not saying that’s the only thing I fell in love with because she is awesome in many ways, but it’s a great perk and food is something we have come to love sharing together. We have a lot of fun cooking together. You may not know it, but I am the BEST sous chef ever. I can chop onions like no one’s business. Ok not really. But Jenn tells me I am and so I’ll take it.
So to give back, and show her my love in return, I want to use my rare bit of free time to try out more cooking on my own. I chose this dish because the instant I saw the recipe I immediately thought it was a perfect comfort food, and something I could handle. Mashed potatoes blended with cheese is always a winner for me, though with this recipe it takes the idea a little farther. When you add bacon and butter into the mix it creates wonderful flavors, which remind me of my childhood with my grandmother cooking bacon and cornbread, as well as a slew of other dishes with bacon involved. Bacon is pretty much a constant with my family. So making this dish was not complex in the context of the recipe but complex in the meaning, because each bite brought me back to those happy memories. Even now at 90 years old, my grandma is still cooking. She simply amazes me, and even today if you walk into her place the first thing she will ask is “Are you hungry?”. This dish seemed like the perfect place for me to start. By being able to cook on my own, I can help out Jenn more, take more control over my own food restrictions, and connect old and new memories.
I was attempting to make this tartiflette brûlée posted on Food 52 by Mardi of Eat Live Travel Write. I doubled the recipe so that we could make leftovers for lunch, and baked it all in one large dish rather than individual ramekins so it became more of a casserole. I also used camembert cheese instead of the traditional Reblochon. It worked fantastically. Let me tell you, mashed potatoes with crème fraiche and chives are now the only way I am going to make mashed potatoes ever again. This recipe changed my entire perspective on mashed potatoes, it’s a life altering thing. Plus, adding onions and bacon makes everything better. I used a local wine here from Vaud that blended really nicely. This will definitely be something I make again, and I think I can try some different variations too.