So Why Am I Supposed To Avoid Gluten?

The Short Answer is that since I don’t have a sensitivity, and I don’t have Celiac Disease, I don’t have any reason to avoid the stuff.

The slightly longer answer is that it’s a marketing gimmick for the roughly 99% of people who don’t have anything medical going on.   It isn’t to say that the other 1% out there who do have trouble don’t have a right to want something better to solve their problems, but if you’re “normal” in respect to it you are succumbing to yet another food fad that will just make you fat.

Celiac Disease is a state where the body takes gluten, which is a naturally occurring protein, and attacks it as an invader.  This happens in the intestines, and over time it will cause some serious side effects.   But these people are quite rare in respect to the population of about 8 billion.

They do need to watch.  You probably don’t.

Will eating Gluten Free hurt you?  Probably only in your wallet or in your taste buds or your waste if you are “normal”.

Gluten is a protein that happens when you prepare plant proteins like wheat for use in baked goods like bread.  Kneading will tend to increase the amount of gluten you will find in the “product”.  The reason why you might want it is so that the dough will be more stretchy.

That is definitely a plus in bread, not so good in cakes.  There is a special low protein flour that is used in baking cakes and pastries that is used so that you get that nice soft spongy result.  A chocolate cake that stretches isn’t really a good thing.  A Kaiser Roll, on the other hand should stretch.

When they take out the offending thing, whether that is gluten, fat, or some other food related “thing” other items will be added back.  Low Fat foods tend to be high sugar as a result.   Gluten Free Products can use a combination of fat and sugar to get the correct-ish mouth feel back.

But I don’t have Celiac Disease, and bake breads the way I do because I can.  Actually, I do it because I prefer the taste of a homemade bread, cake, or what have you to just about anything “Mass Market”.  There are some amazing commercially available breads and baked goods, for those of us who don’t have the interest or time to learn how to bake.

On the other hand, I’ve gotten so that with about 10 minutes of prep I can make a double batch of rolls.

I just have heard so much about this latest food fad and came to the conclusion that for the vast majority of us, Gluten Free is just going to be the fad of the year.

If you would like a video that explains most of this, I found this one for you.  At least I’ve finally been able to put my own head to rest on this.

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You Choose – Buy a Miracle Whisk From A Hawker or Buy Online For A Third

One of those chores we all do.  Walk through a large market picking up things you can’t do without. 

We stepped in the BJ’s in Fort Lauderdale and immediately heard someone blathering about some promotion.  I responded with telling the PA Announcer to “Shut Up”.  Really!  You just don’t need someone loud on those things, and other than a public emergency I really don’t see why they are needed at all.

No worries.  I walked past the high profit items near the doors like TVs and Stereos with a chuckle.   Ok, sometimes those high profit items aren’t all that bad a price, but stores always put the impulse items near the doors.  Just how many TVs do you need in a two bedroom house anyway?

That announcement again.  Some nonsense about a Miracle Whisk and how it is supposed to be MY! BJ’S! WHOLESALE! CLUB!

Yeah, get back to me on that one, if it really is mine, I’ll take my profits and sell the thing.

More impulse items in store, although I did take a long look at wiper blades.   Having a Jeep means that you never can find blades.   I use a 13 inch blade for the front window, and most cars start at 16 inches and up.  I noted the price and kept on moving.  I probably would have grabbed one of those had they had it but there just aren’t that many 2002 Jeep Wranglers in the area to drive demand. 

Mental note, check online.  I won’t have to use gas to buy the thing in that case.

We keep going.   I grab a bottle of “My Port Wine” and some clothing items and round the corner to the outdoor stuff.   It’s South Florida, you just need pool salt any time of the year.  We’re a different market than where BJ’s is headquartered, and for that matter, all those big department stores.   There used to be Burdines where you could get stylish clothes that made sense when you are running Air Conditioning in December.  Now it’s Macy’s who is trying to convince me that I need to dress for New York City weather.

Nope.  Just nope.  Sorry, Macy’s, you just aren’t The Florida Store!

We’re laughing at the pool equipment when all the sudden we’re stopped by the source of all of those announcements.

“Hey we’re having a raffle and it’s starting in 5 minutes, here’s a ticket-come-on-down!-you-mightwinsomethinggreat!”

He was speeding up as he got to the end to get us in there before we lost interest.  Then he left in a gust to hand out more “raffle tickets Thankyouverymuch!”.

With a laugh I was being told that under no circumstances would we do this if we had to watch a presentation. 

I overruled that.  We were here, he was starting at the end of this aisle, and who knows it might be fun.

These hawkers all have a rap, a patter.   It’s a case of showing you a product that you may or may not have a need for.  In this particular case it is a “Miracle Whisk”.  Now being a baker, and a pretty good cook, I do have a whisk.  I hate using the thing.   I can whip cream to a stiff peak, and have made meringue with it, but it really is tiresome.  Much easier to use the stand mixer and a little of FPL’s finest electricity.

I watched this guy pour some ice cold non fat milk into a flat bottom glass measuring cup and with about 10 seconds of effort make a passable whipped cream.  It may have had a little help mixed in, I don’t know, but he did make the whipped cream.  If it really does work, that would be worth it.   Whipped cream is rather nice on some of the baked goods that I make.

*shake that thought out of my head*

I’m thinking anything more than $10 it’s not worth it.

$20.  But wait there’s more!

The end of the schpiel came.  Pay $40 and you get two regular sized plus a mini whisk. 

Yeah, I’ll pass.   So did I win?   Nope.  A pre-teen kid got the ticket.  He got mom to get the prize of a 25 dollar dinner invite.  A couple people sprung for the Big Bargain Bag.  Let’s go!

It was amusing, and well worth watching someone squirm about being in a demo for a product that we just didn’t need.

I went through the rest of the store getting things we did need and pretty much forgot about the Must Have Kitchen Gadget of the Year!!!

Laughing about the experience, I managed to get home and forget entirely about the Magic Miracle Whisk!  Now with extra whipped cream until lately.

I was going through some of my regular online routine when I saw my old friend.  The Miracle Whisk.  It was on sale for $7.  I have to admit, for $7 I considered it. 

Now $7  is a lot better than the $20 for one the hawker was selling them for so I decided to search.

How is a low of $.20 in bulk?  An upgraded Silicone version for $1.20 in bulk.  In RED! Oooh, Red!

$7 is the going price online.

What did I take away from this story?   I had a lot of chuckles out of the affair.  It also shows me why “stores” are doomed.  With “traditional” malls closing due to people not showing up for many reasons, and Brick and Mortar stores having entertainment like these hawkers selling things at triple the price on line, why bother?

I make it a point to be well informed, and I shop heavily online.  It’s more convenient, better priced, and I can do it sitting in my comfy chair.  If someone wants to sell me something new and improved that I have not ever had before, I have been trained to look online while thinking of it.  Impulse shopping for things like Miracle Whisk or Wiper Blades are just not done. 

After all, you have to pay for those bricks and all that mortar.

The best way that can be combated by traditional stores is to match online prices.  If you can’t compete, you’re a dinosaur.  Just ask any mall retailer.

I haven’t gotten that Miracle Whisk.  May not.  Probably not.  My house is chock full of kitchen gadgets.  But the entertainment value was well worth standing there and watching people debate whether to stick around or not.  I certainly got a chuckle out of it.

How to Add Emails in Constant Contact

I get this question about twice a month.

“Hey, Bill!  I know you use Constant Contact for Wilton Manors Main Street, but how do you add new Email addresses?”

Actually it’s dead simple and there are five ways to do it.

My best recommendation is that you should add them to a spreadsheet, and save that in Excel to an xls file.  It can also be saved as a text file or a csv but since Excel wants you to save as an xls file, that’s the one to look for.

Why use Excel?  Simple, because that way you can use that tutorial I wrote yesterday to clean the data.  You can look for duplicates, sort it into alphabetic order, and it’s easy to go through and eyeball it for any strange looking addresses.  Also, if you have it in an Excel Spreadsheet, it will be a fairly easy matter for you to compare it to the result you get when you add your email contact list.

If not, you can type them in directly, or paste them in from any program that supports copy and paste.  Right now when you go through the steps, Constant Contact will present you with a light box with a place for you to paste in or type a list, one after another, each one per line.   Since the method I used in that tutorial yesterday will result in a column of email addresses, I am going to assume you’re going to use that program and method to get your list.  Simply highlight the column you need and CTRL+C to copy or right click and select copy from the dialogue pop up.

If you really hate Excel, you can also import them from your Gmail account or Outlook.  Those methods will pull everything down from those address books, so you may want to be very careful when you’re through to get rid of any inappropriate addresses… which is a good rule to follow any time you do a large “import” like this.

Method 1:  Copy and Paste

Log into Constant Contact.  On the right there is a Contacts tab that will get you into the Contacts Management Page.  There is a helpful button labeled “Add & Update”.  Click on the button and you will get to the page that I have pictured here. Since you have already copied into your clipboard the addresses you want from Excel, the next step is to paste them into the box labeled “Contact Email Addresses”.

Place your mouse cursor inside the box, click on it, then you may right click and select “Paste” from the pop up, or simply “CTRL+V” to paste in your address list. 

Once your list is in the box, click on the handy “Next” button at the bottom of the window, or click cancel if you have something in there that does not belong so you may try again.

The next screen that is brought up is the New List dialogue.  You can add your email addresses to an existing list by selecting the box next to the list on the left, or enter in a new list name in the box that I have highlighted in red on this picture.

For this blog posting, I entered in “Test” and then clicked on the Save button.  After it added the list Test with no entries, then click the Submit button at the bottom of the screen.

You will then be returned to the Add and Update web page with the Success Message.  You can select that list to look at the email addresses that you just added to make sure you did everything correctly.

Method 2: Import from Excel

Since I have this email list posting from yesterday that says how to go about creating a sorted list, I’m going to use this list that I saved in an Excel xls file to directly import the email addresses.  There will be none of that Copy and Paste exercise, since Constant Contact will do all that heavy lifting for you.

  • In the Contacts Add and Update page, click on the blue Add and Update button.
  • Select the third tab on the panel for From A Spreadsheet.
  • Click on the “Browse” button. 
  • A “standard” Windows dialogue box will pop up (if you are on Windows) to allow you to select your Excel Spreadsheet.
  • When you find the spreadsheet, click next on the bottom of the page.

The next page allows you to tell Constant Contact which column in the spreadsheet has the important information.  Constant Contact will allow you to add names and addresses as well, so you have the opportunity to import more than just an email list. 

Since my Excel Spreadsheet only has an email address column, I selected “email address” on the column 1 select box, and then clicked the Next Button at the bottom of the page.

Constant Contact then gave me the “Where The Contacts will be Saved” page. 

You may add a new list by entering in the new list name in the area that I highlighted in red, or select an existing list.

If the list is good, you will get a Success message saying that your email addresses have been added to Constant Contact.

One thing to keep in mind:  If you are adding many email addresses using the Spreadsheet method, Constant Contact does the add on it’s own schedule.  They may not show up immediately on your email list.  When I did it for this blog posting, I had to wait a few seconds before the imported spreadsheet showed up on its list.