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Domestic Goddess Tip : Drying Boots

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Domestic Goddess Tip : Drying Boots

Sometimes, the best tips and tricks are the low tech solutions to a problem.

Todays tip addresses the conundrum of drying out the insides of boots effectively and efficiently.

This technique can be used to dry spring rain boots as well as winter boots as shown, or even wet dress/tennis shoes.

You can invest in an expensive boot dryer, or if you are frugal like me, find a chopstick, jam it gently in your heating vent, then stack the boot over the top. If your vent is a bit too wide for the chopstick, wrapped a rubber band over the bottom. The rubber will widen the base and is pliable enough to allow it to be securely wedged in the vent opening.

If the weather is too warm for your thermostat to kick the heat on, just run the fan. Not only will the air in your home get circulated, efficiently distributing your air around and evening out the temperature of your home, but it will gently dry your boots/shoes overnight.

April showers brings May flowers. While we wait for the May flowers to finally show up, at least you can keep your feet dry!

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Gluten Free in Paris – Day 2

Day 2 began with Cafe Au Lait, sent to the room along with a piece of fruit and fresh yogurt we picked up from a grocery a couple of blocks away the previous day. DELISH! The grocery was obviously used by the locals and did have a nice selection of various a items, yogurt being one, we chose an artisan, locally produced yogurt. I highly recommend using this resource if available to you. You can pick up some less expensive eats and europeans don’t do breakfast like Americans. Breakfast is a pastry or small sweet treat and coffee. If you want something substantial, you’ll have to find a grocery and preplan. We picked up water and some munchies for breakfast. I also picked up a bottle of wine. Wine is so cheap there and SO GOOD! The hotel lent me a bottle opener, and it was nice to relax at the end of the day with a little glass.

Our plan to tackle the sights of Paris began with a walk down the Avenue Foch to Rue des Belles, which took us straight down to the Trocadéro and a magnificent view of the Tour Eiffel.


We wanted to take full advantage of the weather, and so today was a walking day. We continued down and looking back at the Trocadéro:


We continued down the Champ De Mars. They sell fresh popped kettle corn from little kiosk stands. Stop and grab a small bag. If you can manage to restrain yourself, it is a nice snack later on. Then we continued on to the Ecole Militaire. Not sure if it is an open museum, it wasn’t when we passed through. Museums vary their open dates there. You can read more about this museum ‘HERE‘.

It was just past lunchtime and right there on Avenue Duquésne across from the Ecole was a lovely little cafe called “Cafe des Officiers“. I had the Croque Madame which is NOT gluten free, but I was in France and when in France, Croque Madame is a must if possible!


My gluten free daughter has the Risotto Parmesan. I tasted it, it was one of the best risottos I’ve tasted, and I make a killer risotto! If you are in this part of town, you will not be disappointed with a big bowl of this yumminess. The service was a bit slow, but that was fine by us. We were tired and just needed a place to sit a spell. (still jet lagged) We sat outside and found it lovely. Yes, there were smokers, but we sat towards the back by the restaurant doors and we really weren’t bothered by it.


Then past the Hôtel des Invalides.


Take a tour inside. Napolean is buried here, but the chapel was closed while we were there, so we missed out on that. We then crossed over the Seine, past the Grand Palais (which was also closed):


But was able to tour the Petit Palais:


enjoying the inner gardens as well as all the works of art:


Walked down to the Place de la Concorde, and caught the Champs Elysées to walk back to the Arc De Triomphe. On the way, we stopped in to Ladurée, very famously known for their macaroons. Macaroons are gluten free, and we were tired, so we stopped to get a coffee and a sweet treat. My personal favorites were the Rose, and Orange Blossom Water.


Back to the room to rest, refresh and find dinner. After putting 12 miles on my FitBit, we stayed close by.  L’Auberge Dab, right on the corner of Avenue de Malakoff, across from the Place de la Port Maillot with the Centre des Congrès de Paris in view was a spot hard to beat. This is a big higher priced restaurant, but the service was impeccable, the food fantastic and the decor reminded me a bit of a boat! Lots of highly polished and beautifully varnished wood. Outside the front door is the seafood preparer, and you were able to see the wonderful assortment as you went indoors. When I inquired what they had in that was ‘very good’, she recommended the ‘tiny shrimp, very sweet’. Well, tiny….they were. Creeped out…was one of my daughters!


My oldest had the duck, ordered MEDIUM!


My youngest played it safe with fresh cod over rice and greens:


I had a naturally Gluten Free Scallop dish with a saffron Risotto.


Following dinner, we made a quick stop at the grocery for the next mornings yogurt (stored in the hotel fridge) and back to our cute abode. This wraps up eating gluten free in Paris for Day 2.
Next:  Day 3.
(Don’t forget to check out Day 1)

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Gluten Free in Paris, France – Day 1

My youngest and I caught the red eye from the states to Paris, where we were to meet up with my oldest daughter, who is doing study abroad in Italy. You can read about our eating gluten free in Florence by clicking ‘HERE‘.

A couple of tips:

1. Find out if your airline will serve you the option of Gluten Free. We pre-ordered and Delta airlines was extremely good about serving us gluten free. (I discovered on our return trip home, that we had a MUCH nicer afternoon snack than the regular passengers do) Along with the GF meal we were served a pre-packaged of Udi’s dinner roll for the dinner flight (I am assuming here, the airlines have consistency among the red-eye meal choices, and are similar from flight to flight), which we stuffed into our bags which came in very handy later on. (see my post on Versailles)

2. Pack some protein bars, nuts or dried fruit. As I mentioned in ‘Gluten Free in Italy‘, there really is no street food for grab and go meals, and La Guardia really had nothing but a Starbucks fruit&nut bar. It was handy to have protein bars as an emergency back up, instead of walking around starving. Also, being stranded on a ‘transfer’ flight is stressful enough without having to try and find something to eat in a foreign country, with dietary issues in a limited amount of time between flights. You can put some in your luggage, but also keep a couple on hand for emergencies.

We arrived at our hotel, Residence Hotel Foch, which was cozy, comfy and quaint, having excellent service. Natalie, at the front desk brought us a cafe au lait while we waited for our room, which they kindly were letting us gain access to early! While we waited for my oldest to arrive, we cleaned up and then took a brief tour around the neighborhood. This is a lovely neighborhood, very close to the Arc De Triomphe, and Port Malliot with RER, Metro, and airport transportation buses. Its’ more residential, so it was blissfully quiet at night, perfect for a restful nights sleep after long days of walking the city.


(the view from our room overlooked a quiet courtyard)

When our third member arrived, we headed off to walk up the Arc De Triomphe, and then sat down for an early dinner. We stopped at a little bistro on the Champs Elysée called Le Touring (appropriately named, since it was surrounded by motorcycle & bicycle shops), and they were very accommodating of our need for Gluten Free. They served us potato chips instead of bread, which was just fine by us. Hang on to them and order the Paté de Fois Gras as an appetizer! They will bring bread for those who can eat it, but my daughters used their chips to eat the paté. (I apologize that these food photos here are dark, as I was just learning how to use my new camera, and out of respect for others dining experience, I don’t use a flash)


We then ordered Duck:


This duck was served with a green peppercorn sauce. Be aware, this sauce is NOT gluten free!! Above it is served on the side, but to be safe, I would just request no sauce, or sauce on the side. Typically anything from the hollandaise family are ok. Bernaise is fine as well as Meunière. You will find most french sauces off limits, since they use flour to thicken. Also, I found that in all over Paris, “medium-rare” is blood rare. I had to send my duck back to be fired off a bit more. If you like American medium-rare, order medium and it will be perfectly pink on the inside but not raw.

My most sensitive daughter ordered chicken. French roasted chicken is delicious!:


Another plus, in France, they don’t flour their Pommes Frites!! (french fries) So they are perfectly safe to eat. Just check with your establishment, but my daughter ate them everywhere we went and had no issues. (Those who are sensitive to frying oils shared with floured items might want to steer clear. But I doubt much that much, if anything, fried in the fryer had flour. The french just do not have American fried food as an option. Their starters are pates, steak tartare, smoked fishes and cheese plates. I don’t recall seeing any jalapeño poppers, chicken nuggets or chicken wings of any sort. And my daughter cannot eat food fried in a shared fryer and she was fine. Like I said in my previous posts, if you are celiac, please check in advance of leaving as to what your options are)

And then our third dish was pan seared Veal Chop, YUM!


The sauces were off limits for the girls, but my point here is to show you foods you can eat. Just be sure to request your dish with no sauce unless you are absolutely sure. Many establishments in the city understand ‘Sans Gluten’ and will work to be accommodating. Also, many dishes in Paris have fries as a side, sometimes salad, but are more often – a la carte. So, be sure to order greens.


It was a good start to Paris. A yummy, that is for sure.

Traveling in Florence? Try the Lampredotto!

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Traveling in Florence? Try the Lampredotto!

Traveling with my daughters, we pretty much stuck to sitting down to eat, due to the difficulty of finding any gluten free street food. It just doesn’t exist. However, while in Italy, my daughter was telling me, an adventurous eater, that I would enjoy trying the Lampredotto, which is sold on the streets in the piazzas around town. So, we made a point in our exploration of the city to stop at a street side kiosk. I bought mine in the Piazza della Signoria.

If you question whether boiled cow gut can be delish, yes it can! If you like beef short ribs, with the unctuous and savory gelatinous cartilage, you will love this. It isn’t quite gelatinous like cooked cartilage can be, and it definitely has a soft, but chewy texture. The vendor asked me how I wanted it, I just told him to do it like the locals eat, that means with the green salsa and chili sauce. I’m always astounded at how simple food can be so incredibly complex. The pairing of the savory, soft and chewy Lampredotto was balanced out by the sharp, green and fresh taste of the salsa and the very slight bite of the chili. The bread was crunchy crispy on the outside, but soft and sturdy on the inside, sturdy enough not to fall apart while walking and eating.

I marvel at the talent and resourcefulness of other cultures who do not let any part of the animal go to waste, taking what we Americans see as discards or only fit for dog food, and turning it into a cultural treat. Centuries of testing out culinary methods to make tripe terrific is a testament to the people of this town! (well, not exactly tripe, tripe is the first stomach, Lampredotto is made from the last stomach in the digestive tract)

So if you get to Florence, which is known for this simple street sandwich, I recommend giving it a try. If you click on the photo, it will take you to a youtube video of a chef explaining how to make one.


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Gluten Free in Florence, Italy – Day 2


After a full day of walking the Boboli Gardens at the Medici Palace (Villa Medici), and Accademia Gallery which houses the statue of Michelangelo’s David, exploring the boutiques in the side streets, we found ourselves back in a piazza near my daughter’s apartment looking for gluten free dinner options. We were initially headed for a little place she had been wanting to try when we passed this Ristorante, and I mentioned to the girls how good the mussels looked on someones plate, as we had passed through earlier that day. We stopped to check the menu, and a kind gentlemen came over to ask if we were hungry. We let him know his menu looked good but we had gluten intolerance (senza glutine) issues. Well, well, well…comes to pass they had new ownership and had incorporated ‘senza glutine’ as part of their menu, which is why my daughter had not noticed it prior.

It was still fairly temperate from the warm day (in march, it can be quite cool, but we lucked out on beautiful weather) so chose to sit outside, since the Piazza della Signoria is beautiful with statues everywhere and a giant fountain that is lit at night.


We had a wonderful meal and all our dishes were delicious. My daughters ordered a gluten free pizza that was absolutely killer to die for. The crust, unlike american GF, was soft, tender and flavorful. (American GF tends to be like a cracker or at the very least, chewy or crispy). Italian pizzas are not like american, where quantity seems to be preferred over quality. This pizza had high quality toppings which shined in its simplicity. I will take a pizza like this any day over the cheese laden gut bombs in good ole USA. I’m not knocking American pizza, its just that it is very different and if you travel expecting it to be the same, you will be disappointed. But then, if you travel expecting it to be like ‘home’, you are missing the point of traveling.

Pancetta & Mushroom (Fungi) GF Pizza:


I asked the waiter if he had a antipasti he recommended, and he brought me this beautiful platter with fresh greens, juicy sweet little tomatoes, prosciutto, salami and two little crostini, one with a savory mushroom topping, the other a traditional bruschetta. The quality was excellent, and the meats could be shared with the girls :


For our Secondi, the girls went for pasta, and I got the wild boar. I tasted theirs, they tasted mine. All were amazing, the pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauces were simple but complex in flavor. I know a good sauce, and these were made from scratch, well balanced and flavors fully developed. Bolognese sauce can be amazing or gross, depending upon the skill and time put in to making the sauce. This was amazing. (3 amazings…yes, it really was that delicious! Sorry for the half eaten plate, the girls were diving in to it before I could grab my camera!) Notice how it’s not sauce heavy? That is the way it should be served.

GF Pasta Bolognese:


My Wild Boar:


Doesn’t that look so yummy you want to eat the screen??? I know, and trust me, it was! Please be adventurous! Wild boar is a local favorite, and it’s hard to go wrong ordering what the locals eat.

I don’t have a dessert to recommend, other than panna cotta here. But with so many gelato stores nearby, it’s not a hardship. I would highly recommend a grappa to go with your espresso! They have a lovely selection here by the glass. I had the waiter recommend one for me, based on my after dinner drink tastes.

While I was searching the internet for appropriate links, I saw some negative reviews by american tourists of this place. I will reiterate that this Ristorante is under new ownership, and they are very proud of the new menu and quality of food they serve. I found the waiter and staff to be helpful, charming and well versed on their menu. An important point to make is that this place is unlike other eateries we visited throughout our trip. This one did NOT have the service included, so they DID run on tips. Some might be put off by the waiter informing them of this, but please, do not be offended. They are merely letting you know that the tip is not automatically included in the price, as it is in most establishments. Therefore, it is up to you to tip. In the rest of the places we ate they had “Service Compris” which means they automatically add in 15%. Many travel guides warn tourists to not tip because you end up double tipping. I am a fan of tipping over service charge added, because if service is excellent (or terrible), I can compensate accordingly. We had excellent service, so I tipped generously. Besides, my daughter lives around the corner, and she would be back for pizza!

If you are passing through Piazza della Signoria, I highly recommend stopping in.

Ristorante Cavallino

Piazza della Signoria
Florence 50122
Italy  Tel: 39 055 215818

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Gluten Free in Florence Italy – Day 1


My daughter is doing study abroad in Florence Italy, and recently I went to visit her for a couple of days. It would have been longer, but chaos and mayhem ruled the airline gods and I was delayed by nearly 18 hours, and so missed some of my precious time with her in this lovely and beautiful city.

We had been to Paris earlier in the week and managed to survive gluten free. Please understand that I am talking gluten free and not celiacs. If you are celiac, I would suggest checking the local celiac boards on where to eat safely. My youngest daughter (who was traveling with us) is NOT celiac, so it gives us a lot more flexibility in our eating choices especially in a foreign country with language barriers. My oldest (the one living in Italy) is sensitive to gluten but can tolerate it. However, she does pay the price with bloating and indigestion if she eats it, so she tries to avoid gluten if possible. Something to keep in mind when planning your trip abroad and having dietary issues like gluten or dairy intolerance: memorize the words required to instruct your waitstaff or inquire if they can provide gluten free (While in Italy, you would tell the proprietor: Senza Glutine) and allow yourself time to eat. By that I mean, you will rarely find street food, which is quick and easy to eat, available to you. Most street food uses bread in some form as a base, and while sidewalk groceries are available, in many countries you would definitely wish to wash the produce before consuming. So, you need to plan ahead and allow yourself time to find a bistro or restaurant where you can sit down and pick from the menu. Sitting is more expensive in Europe, so be sure to allow for that also.

We were in Florence for two nights, and so enjoyed two wonderful meals I am happy to rave about. This post is the first, I will post our second evening: “here“.

Ristorante il Paiolo
Via del Corso, 42r
Firenze Tel. 055 215019

This restaurant was an adorably quaint, friendly, and delicious little gem tucked along a little side street off the Via Proconsolo, that proclaimed ‘Senza Glutine’ pasta. We were welcomed by a cheery woman, seated by an elderly woman (who my daughters wanted to adopt as a grandmother, she was just that sweet) at a nice cozy little table midway back. I believe it was a mother-daughter team, with the friendly, accommodating daughter speaking excellent english, and the mother providing the warmth and cozy charm.

I’ve always wanted to have a chef prepare and serve a meal that they excel at and are passionate about, you know, just winging it, and this was where I tested that dream. I don’t know why, but this place just inspired confidence that everything would be lovingly and deliciously prepared. After explaining our dietary concerns, I asked her if she would be open to just bringing us three Primo and three Secondo dishes for us to try and share. Neither of my daughters nor I are picky, and other than the gluten issues we are adventurous eaters, enjoying exploration of local cuisine. Much of what she brought was naturally gluten free, but as requested by my youngest, we did have a pasta dish included. It was ALL delicious, delectable and completely reflective of regionally prepared, good home cooking.

(I will apologize for some of the photos being not super clear. I have a new camera and I’m still figuring it out!)

Primo Course
Risotto with duck Ragu:


Risotto Nero with Seafood:


Gluten Free (done perfectly al dente) with organic zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant ragu:


Secondo Course:

Braised Rabbit:


Pork Chop steamed in Foil:


Broiled Sea Bass:


Served for my gluten intolerant daughter, instead of bread, rice crackers (very thoughtful):


And for Dessert, or Dolce:

Gluten Free Chocolate Torte with candied orange marmalade. I am not an orange marmalade fan, but this was simply divine. The orange rind was sweet and slightly sugary-crunchy. The jam a soft accent. That is why the focus is on the marmalade, not the cake. The marmalade was the star of the dish, instead of the usual garnish!:


These dishes were served to us family style and we all were able to sample and taste. It was, in essence, a way to have 3 separate meals, tasting a wide variety of what italy has to offer, in one meal. If you are adventurous like we are, I highly recommend following our lead.
If you are visiting Florence (or Firenze), gluten free or not, this you will not regret stopping in here.

Healthy Coconut Chocolate Haystack Drops

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Healthy Coconut Chocolate Haystack Drops

Coming back jet lagged from an overseas trip, I was in need of a sweet treat that was at least decently healthy for me. So, putting together a number of recipe inspirations, I came up with these delightful morsels. They are easy and tasty and you can add in other items to bump up the health factor. Keep them in a cool place, as coconut oil melts at body temperature.

1/2 cup Coconut Oil
1/2-3/4 cup Honey (to taste)
4 heaping tsp Cocoa powder. (I used King Arthurs double dark dutch)

Melt the oil in a sauce pan, add honey and cocoa powder. bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and remove from heat.

Add in:

3 cups quick cooking Oats (I prefer organic, gluten free)
1 cup shredded Coconut (unsweetened would be ideal, natural as possible, but Bakers brand works in a pinch)
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix completely and drop in dollops on to waxed paper and let cool and harden. If your kitchen is warm, you will need to refrigerate to harden.

**additional suggested add-ins: flax seed, chia seed, healthy nuts like almond or walnut, dried cranberries or blueberries, peanut or almond butter.

**for a prettier presentation, let them firm up, and then roll in to balls. At this point, you can roll in additional cocoa powder for easier handling, like you would for a truffle. I would reduce oats to 2 1/2 cups if adding in a lot of additional add-ins.


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