Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gent Fest (Gentse Feesten) - My Personal Thoughts

Now I have started this about 3x's over. Each time it just ends up being too much so I'm just going to break it down. Gent Fest is a music related fest with the customary food, drink and misc vendors at your whim so to speak.

From a gluten-free stand point, this is *NOT* something to go to simply because 90% of the 'drinks' are beer related (Belgium after all) and all the food located/sold within this event can not be considered safe for people who need to live gluten free. If you do attend, make sure you pack drinks and food because you will not find much otherwise. You will be able to find places that sell soda in bottles/cans but nothing 'special' that can be trusted.

Now, I had to work in the the middle of this. In the beginning I was really looking forward to it because it was a sure way to have lots of hours, over time pay, night pay and all of that but in the end the weather ended up being SO hot (90+ almost all week) that it made the whole experience just pure hell.

My reasons to *NOT* attend this again, working or not. Mind you this is the first time in the 12yrs that I've been living here that I've even seen it much less attended in any shape or form.

1. Gluten Free options - NONE with exception that you can find bottled/canned soda or water
2. The music, although stage by stage was not bad, was nothing special and if anything sometimes was awful because you can hear about 3 stages at once at any given time. So if you are standing any where except right smack in front of the 1 stage you want to be hearing, you get a jumble of different musics and sounds going on... most annoying. Not to mention it's REALLY friggin' loud! Lots of noise level, lots and lots of bass sounds ect.
3. The sad part of it - 16 is the legal drinking age here. This sadden me EACH and EVERY day I worked this fest. Every night I would walk home and find myself watching 'kid' after 'kid' walking (if they could) down the street so drunk by all the booze open to them to buy at this event and just feeling sad that they are even allowed to get that way much less that they are still KIDS! They are just harming themselves. They aren't old enough to know the difference between enjoying a drink and drinking because they think it's cool or great to get drunk... THAT drunk! *shs* I mean never mind the idiot adults that know better, I feel no sorrow for them at all, they know better... but who the hell is teaching the kids right from wrong?! Well that is the only place I feel sorry for the adults, they are suppose to show them that part.
4. GARBAGE! OMG, I have not seen so much trash in all of my life. It's almost as though the whole day this thing goes on and on, although there are TONS of places to throw trash actually out, no one seems to take note and there certainly are no attendants going around helping to keep the place clean. This all happens in the few hours in the early to late morning before the whole thing is to start again.
5. Transportation.... holy man! Buses and any kind of public transportation is totally re-routed. For me, getting to work was a very very bad problem. Firstly, hello... 2nd/rd shift the entire time so that alone made it a problem because I started well after the whole day of the fest has started (earliest was 5pm) and then on top of it we had REALLY hot weather here (90+f) most of the week. Now the bad thing is with the re-route with where I live I have to take the same amount of time to either wait/take and transfer buses/trams to get about a block from right where the fest starts and then walk for 15minis to get to my work or I can just screw it and take the same amount of time including the bus/tram ride to walk from my house. I couldn't even rent a bike for this thing because that too has been cut off from being allowed to be used! Yes that is right, it's SO packed and so hard to get through all the people that they made it so you can't even ride a bike. It was just a really bad problem to get to work. Not to mention at the time that *I* had to come home, there was again 2 choices... walk (not gonna happen after a full night shift, in hot weather and at 2-4 in the morning!) or walk back to where the buses/trams drop me off and pick up a taxi... which of course costs 11euro a ride (for me at least considering I don't live far from it). You do the math, a bus pass (30euro) plus 10nights of taxis (lets round it to 110euro).... that is a LOT of money to have to put out just to get to and from work for 10days.

Ok before I get too much off of the topic... music ok if you are RIGHT at the stage you want to be at, rest of it, don't bother.

I'm off my rant now... I'll return next week with some yummy recipes I hope but if not this coming week, I will be back after mid August when I've done the holiday weeks for my bosses.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Let's Talk Fruit - Grapes

Taking a few minutes to myself now tonight. My kitchen is *almost* clean from all the dirty dishes and what is left, I can do in the morning just as well so now for a small post.

I still can't believe how many gluten free people can't get over the 'look at all the stuff I can't eat' factor instead of looking inside themselves to go past that and change their outlook to 'look at all the great stuff I CAN have!' attitude!

Again, FRUIT! There is so much of it, so many different kinds from what we consider every day fruits to really exotic ones. Today, lets talk a bit about grapes. There are so many different kinds with all sorts of varied flavors from really sweet to really bitter to everything in between. They all have massive health benefits too! The darker the grape, the better too but they all are great for you. Have you ever ended up eating a 'bunch' of grapes and felt FULL from it?? I know I have!

Did you know there is only *1* continent that does not cultivate grapes in some form? That means 99% of the world produces grapes of some sort! Damn that is a LOT of grapes! From eating versions to ones produced just for wine to ones made just for making raisins... think of the endless possibilities when it comes to this great fruit not only when it comes to eating it straight up but when drinking the wonderful juice or it's wine version or even when dried into raisins for cooking or baking!

These little pieces of fruit heaven have so many benefits to health that they are considered another 'super food'. Red wine is even considered to be part of a good diet! Within reason of course!

Benefits include...
 ~ help prevent certain oxygen-related enzymes from becoming overactive.
 ~ increase our blood levels of glutathione.
 ~ help protect cell membranes from free radical damage.
 ~ lowers levels of oxygen reactive molecules in our blood.
 ~ reduce oxidation of fat.
 ~ lower biomarkers of oxidative stress.

These are just a few scientific benefits, look up 'health benefits grapes' and read up for yourself! They are even considered to be in the berry family and we all know that ANY type of berry comes with amazing health benefits. Now on that note, remember, they are NATURALLY gluten free! Go on, wash up a bunch and nibble away, they are GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH!

General Talk - Time Just Flies :(

I have not forgotten about my long lost love of cooking, spending time in my kitchen or coming here to write in my blog but *heavy sigh* the passion and pure want might be there, the time is not.

Winter was short, too short. I made a few soups and stews but having only bit of time 'down' from work was not enough to get me back into the kitchen for any extended period of time. Then April came and I started back into work again full on, starting with some part time hours and then ending up with 3/4th week hrs without expecting it really. Some really long days such as open to close shifts and now, it's even worse for the next month as I start with an 11day stretch through a festival that happens every year that our store happens to be located smack in the middle of and then just after that covering open to close shifts for a bit under 2weeks to allow the bosses to take a much needed holiday for themselves too. Yes, I am back working for the place I was 6months ago. I need them and they need me... it's a mix-matched relationship but some how in the end it works out. They understand me more, I understand them more and I am no longer feeling like a yo-yo... this is a good outcome. I hope for the best and that it stays this way.

On top of this all, there has a been a very unexpected but so very VERY welcomed surprise that came into my life this year... my son who I placed for adoption 19years ago (almost 20 now!) had come searching for me and found me. We have written emails, we even had a video chat with him and the family. And the best news is that I will get to meet him for the first time since he was born THIS August! I am counting the days! He has grown into such a wonderful man and I can't wait to meet him in person to see this with my own eyes and not through the visions of a computer screen! Dear sister, if you read this, THANK YOU! If you had not still been in the USA, I don't know if he would have ever found me.... thank you!

I still dab in the kitchen from time to time when there is time to spare... I made a Tuna Pasta Salad (this happens every summer at some point or another) the other day but that isn't much of a recipe, it's just throwing some pasta, mayo, canned tuna, frozen peas and shredded cheddar cheese together in a big bowl and letting it mellow out in the fridge. Yes it's food, yes I had to prepare it but meh... perhaps another day I will have the energy and time to get a photo or two before the cold pasta salad days are gone.

I feel as though there is just no time for anything lately. I get to cook perhaps 2 or 3 times a month now a days. I even had to hire a cleaning lady to help me in the apartment because I just couldn't keep up with it all. I get roughly 2 days a week off if that, 1 spent cleaning and 1 spent doing the other 100 things that need to happen. With all this happening and the news of my son, I have also taken on making this apartment go from the 'temp' look to the 'we live here & it's home' look. This is taking a LOT of time, energy and a lot of my patience. Soon though it will fall into place. Perhaps I will even get to order a dish washer after working all of these extra hours. This might help me a lot to get into my kitchen more if I don't always have to worry about a stack of dishes a mile high at the end of making something wonderful to eat.

I miss you my dear blog. I still have LOTS of photos and recipes to share but without making them and getting them up here, I don't remember a lot of them like I use to. I shall have to make new memories. I still surf through Stumble's 'food/cooking' channel a lot, bookmarking recipes I like or would like to try, getting annoyed when I come across things that are not even close to being related to food/cooking but marked that way anyhow and then becoming sad when I realize 'man that sounds good and I sure do want to make it and damn I bet that would be good made gluten free style but when do I get a chance to?'.

I will get back to you my dear friend and to those who are following my blog or have followed it, thank you for your patience. Life goes by so quickly when you have too much to do. Today was my first 'real' day off in quite some time and it's again been spent running to the stores, doing dishesand tidying the house from things that I let go over a long working weekend. It is now past 4pm and I still have half my kitchen worth of dishes to finish, I have prepared to make a chicken pesto pasta salad... perhaps tomorrow I will bring my camera out as I make it, at least then I have some photos of it.

Have a good rest of the summer all my wonderful gluten-free bloggers and to the rest that follow my recipes and life entries. Remember, all my recipes and entries might be gluten free but if you are not living a gluten free diet but still like to make some, you can always substitute what you use normally. Such as the pasta salad I'm about to make, you don't need to use rice pasta as I do, you can simply replace it with your normal every day mac.