As excited as I’ve been about gluten free cooking and recreating favorite recipes, I am discovering that the kitchen is not my favorite place to be. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy cooking and I’m not half bad at it. The problem is that I enjoy a lot of things that are all vying for my attention. Summer has finally arrived in the NW, the days are deliciously long, and cooking just hasn’t been my highest priority. I think about menu planning but most days we winging it. (That isn’t to say we are not eating well. Last night we had a rich dinner of Southern goodness, tonight tacos with homemade corn tortillas, and Monday involved pasta, stuffed chicken and a marvelous red sauce).

All this to say, these days being outside as much as possible with my kids is winning…as well as those four papers I have left to write for my classes on Professional Ethics and Issues of Abuse. So I dream of creating amazing recipes that I photograph and post every week…but I have to admit that it isn’t happening. I like having flour on my fingers but I’d much, much rather have them covered in acrylic paint. This past week I just completed a large painting for a friend and found such, well, life in the free time (read: children’s nap time) that I spent creating, brush in hand. I must find more time for that. And so my creativity in the kitchen will be more of trying out the recipes of others. I’m really glad I named this site conviviality because I think it still encompasses the ideas of the things I am passionate about, mostly coming together with other people over good food or good conversation or good art or, best of all, all of the above.

I’ve not been blogging because I thought of this as a food blog and I have been writing and painting and playing and, sadly in many moments of these days, just getting by because of still being anemic. However, I find myself longing for a place to write the ice berg tip of the things I love, or to share the quotes that are swimming in my mind that day and need a little more air, or to speak out on something that struck me as beautiful and as deserving of a larger audience.

And I still want to post some recipes from time to time.

So here’s to this being a blog about food, and about painting, and about the things and people that move me and reveal beauty to me.


David Boyd Ramsdale 1947-2008

Last year around this time I took a wonderful trip with my in-laws to a beach just up from Myrtle Beach. The eight of us (my mom and dad-in-law, me and spouse, kids, and sis-in-law and spouse) stayed in a large airy cottage within easy walking distance from the waves and the sand. It was a comfortable, relaxing time and being with everyone felt like home. On one of our last evenings there, while we were sitting out on the back porch enjoying port and pipes and one another’s company my father-in-law expressed his gratitude for his grown children and for the life partners they had chosen. The genuine gratitude he felt for his family was so obvious, and I felt honored to be included.

This April my dad-in-law passed away suddenly from a bacterial infection. When he died, my husband and 2 year old were already at his side in North Carolina. Jeff had expected to help his mom through his dad’s recovery and his transition home from the hospital. Instead, I was suddenly flying across the country with our one year old to join Jeff and his family as they prepared for dad’s memorial.

The photo above is of Dad R. holding my daughter last summer. He was a great Pop-pop and loved his grandchildren well–my children. He loved me well. We didn’t see each other frequently since we lived on opposite sides of the country, and way too often my in-laws came to visit right after I’d come through something particularly stressful (new baby, just finishing up a load of papers, etc) yet he loved me and was grateful for me with all my flaws. And he wasn’t perfect either–he could rub me the wrong way–yet he was passionate. He loved the Frog and Toad stories and passed that love onto my son. He owned a couple of kayaks and it was great sharing that experience with him through waterways in South Carolina. He was in his element in the home he and my mom-in-law had created for themselves, a place with a pond and a wood you could wander in for hours gathering back the scattered thoughts that get lost in the race of daily life. Spending time together at their home in the days after his death was as refreshing as it was grief filled. There is such peace there.

And yet I know that home is such an empty place for Mom R. right now. Next week is their 40th wedding anniversary. Thankfully, Mom will be in Indiana on that day with my sister-in-law celebrating the birth of her lovely daughter. Life continues and is passed on. I know my sister-in-law will remember her father well to her daughter. My husband and I will remember him well to our children every time we read Frog and Toad to them, every time we sit down in the evening to have a cup of tea with candles and NPR’s Hearts of Space for ambiance, and every time we return to wander his North Carolina woods.

And in his honor and memory, thought it but one small gesture among many, this week I decided it was time to attempt the best darn lasagna I’ve ever made. If you wanted to make him happy, you couldn’t miss with a hot pan full of fat noodles and sauce. Dad, this is for you.

GF Lasagna

Prepare preferred spaghetti sauce. This is what I made:

1 lb ground beef

2 cloves crushed garlic

1 medium onion diced

One 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

One 14 oz can of tomato sauce

2 small cans of tomato paste

2 tsp dried basil

About 3 tsp dried parsley (tho I bet it would be better with a couple handfuls of fresh)

2 tsp oregano

1 tsp fennel

Dash of red pepper flakes

Salt and ground pepper to taste

2 zucchini cut into circles then quartered (optional)

Brown hamburger and saute with onion and garlic in a pot large enough to simmer a fair amount of sauce. Stir in other ingredients and simmer for at least half an hour. An hour or more is optimal. Close to the end of its simmering time, preheat the oven to 375. Mix together:

2/3 c grated parmesean

8 oz shredded mozzerella

15 oz ricotta

1 tsp dried oregeno

salt and pepper

Pull out a 9×13 pan. Pour some warm sauce in the bottom to keep the noodles from sticking, up to a cup. Put down a layer of GF lasagna noodles on the sauce then cover the noodles with half of the cheese mixture. Pour another layer of sauce (1 to 1 1/2 cups) on the cheese layer, top with more noodles, then spread on the rest of the cheese mixture. Top the cheese with sauce, add another layer of noodles. Top the noodles with just enough sauce to keep it moist and then use a mix of grated parmesean and shredded mozzerella to cover the sauce and create a top cheese layer.

This is a pretty saucy lasagna and the pan will be full. Cover with foil, spraying the foil with cooking spray before hand to prevent it from sticking to the cheese. Bake in preheated over for 25 to 35 minutes, removing the foil in the last few minutes to let the cheese brown on top.

Eat as much as you like and freeze the rest to enjoy on another day.

My two year old (very soon to be 3!) frequently gets the phrases “Thai food” and “tofu” mixed up. In fact tonight–just for the fun of it–I think he was saying “Thai-fu” at the dinner table. Thankfully, he loves both. Me too, and I’d love to have more success at Thai home cooking. So far it has been “good enough” but not the great stuff I can get at some Thai places around here. However I found a recipe tonight that I was pretty happy with and I wanted to put the link here so that I would know how to find it in the future. It was a recipe for Thai stir fry with peanut sauce and tofu. Mostly it was marvelous. It needed a little salt or extra soy sauce and probably a lot more heat. I also think it would have been better with chicken. And, I also tossed some Thai basil in just long enough to wilt it.

I keep hoping to put up a weekly menu and return from my hiatus. Soon.

Tomorrow I am leaving on a trip I did not expect to take to North Carolina. Thanks to a dear friend’s help I was able to bake a loaf of bread in the flurry of packing up myself and my baby daughter. It will be my first time traveling gluten-free. I admit I’m a bit nervous about it. I have a bag full of nutritious snacks for my day of air travel, but nothing I have is going to feel quite like a meal. I know I will have to keep it simple during the week I’m not at home.

Does anyone have a good tip or story that might help me stay well and well fed? I typically love to travel and I’d love to feel confident about traveling as the new GF me.

I’m still in the thick of applying and interviewing for a fall internship. Hopefully I’ll nail tomorrow’s interview and the search will be over. To be honest, I have only completely thrown myself into one application so far–my top choice–and hopefully i will get the position because just getting my resume, application, AIDS/HIV training required of all WA state health service peeps has taken up a lot of my free time. My reading for classes just hasn’t been happening the past couple of weeks. And my menu plan hasn’t really happened. I’m kinda tired of having to be gluten free these weeks. It is time consuming. My blood sugar keeps doing crazy things. I miss my old snacks. I got cross-contamination at a restaurant meeting friends from out of town. I’ve gained weight since going off gluten. (I needed some back but now I’m getting worried it’ll keep on coming on). And I’m busy. It is tough to keep up with all the things I need to keep up with and eat well. Tonight I opted for baking over studying so that as I hit another full week I’ll have some happy snacks. But then I worry that I’ll be eating too much starch, so I also made a big bowl of salad to have handy in the fridge. And apples. And peanut butter. Someday I’ll figure all of this out a little more.

Hopefully next week I’ll be back on track with menus and a new recipe. And if not, hopefully I’ll be okay with that.


When Jeff and I were planning our honeymoon, we knew we wanted to go somewhere out of the country. Jeff had grown up in Peru but beyond that had only been to the States and Mexico. I myself am addicted to international travel and need very little excuse to experience another country. We only had a week to travel and we didn’t want to spend the whole time on planes. Initially we thought about British Columbia, but in the end we decided to go to Ireland. Sadly, I was wiped out from the wedding that continued to be exhausted most of the trip. But Ireland was beautiful. Seeing the countryside and eating the food at the beginning of our marriage has certainly added a certain flavor to our relationship. We added braised beef in guinness and Irish stew to our regular meal rotation. Jeff is makes a mean Irish soda bread. However, Guinness and true soda bread is off the menu now. We have some lamb in the freezer, though, so I should make some Irish stew here soon. And, Karina–bless her–posted a scrumptious sounding Irish potato and cabbage soup along with a GF soda bread recipe. Therefore, in honor of our marriage, memories and travel, good Irish food, and St. Patrick’s day I’m going to try my hand at making her recipe this week. However, I don’t have any Van Morrison to play, as she recommends. I think I’ll have to put on Once in the background. And after dinner we might just have to pull our slides of the Irish countryside.

Hopefully I can get the family fed despite my having 3 different night that events will keep me away during the dinner to bedtime hours. And we have a new goal of trying to think ahead on our weekend meals. Book of Yum is hosting this week and Sea’s chosen ingredient is coconut. I’ve been really enjoying using coconut flour in my baked goods. It brings in a little sweetness on its own and is actually quite good for you. I also use it when making homemade granola. (Side note–where do you get your certified GF oats? I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill’s but they are having stabilization issues (something about how they aren’t staying fresh long enough). They hope to have the problem resolved soon but in the meantime I still want my granola).


Drum roll, please. Once again here is…

The Menu

MondayKarina’s Irish cabbage and potato soup with soda bread.

Tuesday–Crockpot chili and cornbread (and, yes, I do make a lot of soup. Why do you ask?)

Wednesdayroasted chicken, spinach, and rosemary biscuits

Thursday–breakfast for dinner for dad and kids, leftovers of some kind for me

Friday–stuffed baked potatoes

Saturday–(lunch or dinner) tacos with the leftover shredded chicken; a simple dahl and rice for the other.

Sunday– brunch with friends; hopefully a good roast lamb and potatoes and asparagus with other friends later.

And breakfast this week will end up involving Cocoa Pebbles, a guilty pleasure my husband had the nerve to pick up at the grocery. I know, I know, they are terrible for me. But man they’re good. I just can’t resist. I hope y’all don’t all think I’m a low brow eater now.

Alright all you brilliant gluten-free bakers out there. My little friend Judah is having his first birthday on Saturday. He’s going on an elimination diet to hopefully find out what is bothering his skin, which is going to be very good for him but complicated birthday cakey goodness. Can any of you come up with a cake recipe that doesn’t have gluten or dairy or eggs and probably not coconut or pineapples or anything we aren’t certain about?


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