I should plan this out carefully and consider everything I want to say, of course if I do that I’ll promptly forget it all and then have to start over. It’s around the fourth anniversary (Neglected to mention the five years part, sorry about that. Edit: Then forgot it’s actually been four years. I’m on a roll) of my first discovering that I was a celiac. Those are dark days and I don’t want to dredge up the past and bemoan all my struggles, nah, what I’d like to do is share some of my experience with you. Yes, you. Not just the newbie scared out of their wits, but the more experienced, maybe even battle scarred veteran of the free-from scene, because let me tell you this: It’s scary, if you don’t feel like you’re barrelling head-first into the unknown, at least on occasion, well then you’re a smarter, or dumber, person them me. I tell you this is difficult, confusing, often terrifying and it never stops being that way, you just learn to step around the obstacles and build yourself a few ladders to get over them faster. I’ve talked before about how I feel going gluten free is merely the start of your journey so I won’t retread that tired spiel again. I just wanted to share some things that I wish fat me had known way back when. I’m still here, that’s at least proof that it’s possible to get better. I’m still learning, that’s proof I’m willing to admit that I don’t know enough yet and will never know everything. Take this advice a guy who is still struggling and fighting, but always succeeding. Usually in ways he never expected. This is just me, your buddy, your pal, your random blogger, no great and sagacious thinker, just me. Let’s do this. (I almost feel I should address my past self…Dear, Fat Me?…Nah)
I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing – Socrates
I’m going to keep this fairly informal. Not crass, don’t get me wrong, it’s just you can get tired of all the quacks, snake-oil salesmen and, well, general fatheads. You see when I started this I had no idea what to do, where to start. I had no help from doctors or dietitians. Now in saying that: Go to a Doctor first! I had my reasons for abstaining, but if I jumped off a bridge in the name of health you wouldn’t follow me, right? (I’m hurt you didn’t stop me though). So, yes, getting the proper help at the start is vital, but know there’s a limit on what you’ll learn from one person or group, so open up that mind of yours and read, read, READ! Look up everything you eat, it’s nutritional value, what diets also use it, what it can do for you and what it probably won’t. You’ll have to carve out your own path, but there’s no reason you can’t, safely mind, wander down a few of the more travelled roads first. There’s a reason I can cover so many allergies and why many of my recipes have started out as other allergy recipes first. I’ve been a wanderer from the start and will always be. You’re a student of free-from school, you never get to graduate, you just may one day get to teach as well as learn.
In your head, onto paper, in your dreams and eventually, in a pot.
One thing I’ve found is whenever I rush into a recipe, whether one of my own or a pre-prepared one I find myself regretting it for one reason or another. Free-from cooking and especially baking can be tricky at times, more often than not really, so you’re best to do what the angels do and fools don’t (Treading carefully and all that). You’ve got to look at a recipe and ask yourself will it really work, you only have an assumption and one persons word, usually, that can lead to a lot of waste and even more discouragement. So, what I do (Me, remember just me, advising no one, just sharing) is to write down recipe ideas, whether they be new ideas or tweaks and let them stew (Oi, Puns) for a while. You may eventually spot a flaw in them and decide against them or you may even find a way to improve them. I also write out recipes that I’m making from someone else’s recipe. That way I can get an image of how it all comes together in my mind. Each stage is worked out and I can decide to change it as needed. It’s a simple idea, but I’ve used it constantly and it really helps, maybe you’ll find a better way, but maybe try it out and see how it works for you. I like to jokingly refer to this a theoretical cooking, sitting here scribbling down recipes really can’t help your creativity too.
Find your Niche.
I think what’ll strike most people at first is the sheer volume of options and opinions on such common things as, say, flours. You ask one person and they’ll expound on the values and wonders of Flour A, then you’ll see another that can’t live without Flour B and so on, ad nauseam. Like I say you’ve got to find what works for you and when you have, really dig into it. When I found buckwheat I found a flour that suited me perfectly and I ran away with it (Not literally, I can’t run and that’d be theft) so I started to try everything I could with it. I still try other flours, to varying degrees of success, but buckwheat is my main flour. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not suggesting you abandon all other flours to settle on one, but you should have a comfortable understanding of one kind of baking and cooking in particular, it helps keep you grounded and allows you to try out so many other options and no matter the result you have a safe place to fall back on. You’ll have to float and flit at first, but when you do settle you’ll finally feel that you’ve reached a new plateau. It’s things like this that help you continue with this journey, for me knowing that I can use so many flours, but also knowing that buckwheat will always be a safe and easy option keeps me from feeling like I’m struggling and lost. This goes for more than just flours, dietary disciplines, lifestyle choices etc are all things you’ll need to figure out for yourself. Like labelling what’s in your spice-rack, labelling these parts of your life will help keep you on the right track.
Gestalt or You just said!.
This is the part where I tell you not to develop a niche. I know, right? What a pain. All joking aside, what I’m referring to here is the problem with having to be the perfect X. You know what it’s like, you’re a celiac so people assume all kinds of things about you, if you’re like me, nightshade intolerant, then just being labelled as celiac isn’t correct or helpful. This is more about how other people’s preconceptions and assumptions affect you. The labels you give yourself aren’t a bad thing, but the labels others can try to force on you can be damning. We can often feel like failures when we don’t live up to certain, usually arbitrary, standards. Start calling yourself, say, a fitness enthusiast and you’ll hear how you should be living from every conceivable source. Tell them something they don’t know and chances are they’ll clam up or start arguing. You’re a complex, special snowflake, just like everyone else. Don’t get swept up in the idea that you can be labelled and stuck in a little box. Find out who you are, what you need and where you’re going. Just remember it’ll all be up to you to make it work, if you do figure out how to get it all perfect, then tell me will ya? If you’ve ever read Kipling’s poem If, then think of it like that. (Exceedingly good cakes and poetry!)
The Little Bird That Kept So Many Warm
(I’m purposefully quoting another part of that poem, rather than the over used part) In all of this it’s important to have hope. Hope for a better you, a better life or just hope for something to change. As I’ve said before I’ve been through, and seen, a lot. I’m still here and still winning out. When I think that I never wanted to start this blog, out of fear of being wrong, I don’t know about what, maybe that I was doing something wrong because I was different from what I’d seen, it seems so silly. There has been a wealth of positive experiences from here alone. Though I’m not discounting my everyday life, my accomplishments, my triumphs and so on. It’s just that I’m grateful for all the support I’ve been give here, really, thank you all. Where once I felt hopeless and took a chance, a great leap into the unknown, almost five years ago and I’m still here. Typing out into the great unknown hoping that maybe some part of this will be the lifeline, or the stepping stone, someone needs. As clichéd as this is: You can do it, I did and still am. You’ve just got to hold onto hope and never let it go.
That’s it for me. I guess I just needed to let some of the thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind get out. I’m still waiting for my surgery, one day I hope to see the end of this leg of the journey, I know, patience, and hope of course. I’m also still planning more recipes than anyone will ever need. Looking to a garden that can’t possibly hold all I have in mind for it. Reading way too much and probably filling my head with thoughts that’ll lead to another of these off-beat posts. Recipes will be back soon, sadly the one I promised didn’t work out well. It baked, but tasted terrible. I won’t name and shame, it was a matter of personal preference, but I couldn’t share it if I didn’t like it. If I can say one thing to finish, just let it be this: Live your life, not anyone else’s, but let them live theirs too. Life is a confusing mess and we’re all just trying to figure it out. Anyone who thinks they know it all, well, ask Socrates up there. Until next time.