Today is my glutenfreenniversary! I have been living gluten-free for two years now. And this is my hundredthandelevent post on the blog. IMHO, these are both amazing reasons to celebrate.

A lot has changed in the past two years. Here’s a retrospective:

I used to be worried about my health. It wasn’t really bad, but it also wasn’t really good. I kept telling my husband that something was wrong with me. My husband would comment, that something did not add up in his opinion either. I don’t think anyone else shared our convictions and none of the doctors I told about my low iron levels were able to help me. “You are a vegetarian”, they would say. “Your iron levels are meant to be low. Eat some meat”.

Meanwhile, life went on. I graduated university, we changed jobs, we moved to a new city and I found Yoshi, our greenfinch.

Still, I would miss the times when I had energy, and when life didn’t feel like such a chore. Then, a few days into January 2013, I started having random symptoms. They wouldn’t go away. I eventually connected the dots, and thought maybe they were related to each other. I asked Google. They could be. I turned off my computer, told my co-worker I was leaving early that day and went to the doctor. My regular doctor wasn’t in, so they sent me to a new doctor, who had just started working at their practice. This was probably one of the luckiest moments of my life (nothing against my other doctor, she was amazing, too). This doctor was about my age, and she listened, took my concerns seriously, said that having such low iron levels could not be caused by a meat-free diet alone, especially when taking into consideration that I actually ate lots of pulses. She, a vegan, knew. She suggested we run a couple of exams. For the iron deficiency, and also for the other problems I had been having. I didn’t really feel like any of these exams, but I consented to having all of them run.

Between that afternoon and April, I cried a lot. I was scared. I wanted to know what was wrong, and I also kind of didn’t. I was worried it could some awful ailment, something that would drag me down the path of ill health until I was too weak to participate in daily life and that I would eventually just disappear. It felt awful to not be in control, to watch all these doctors run tests and come back empty-handed or with diagnoses that did not feel right. These weeks taught me a lot about being grateful about my body and how important it is to be kind to it every single day.

My husband, on the other hand, was glad for every diagnosis I didn’t obtain. In his opinion it was good that the doctors weren’t finding anything. He was worried, of course, and for a while he was the only person to whom I confided about my health issues. In early 2013, he took days off work to join me in the hospital, patiently put up with me waking up in the middle of the night just to tell him how desperate I was and basically did everything you would envision from a good husband. When I was told that I had celiac disease, my husband immediately suggested that we keep the house gluten-free, and, when I couldn’t find anything to eat at restaurants or other places, he would stay hungry with me, so that I would feel less alone in my new situation. His help and solidarity continue to support me immensely until this day and if I have such a positive attitude to my new-ish gluten-free life, it is, in great part, because of him. Then, there are also colleagues, friends and family, to whom I am indebted, because they made themselves familiar with what it means to cook or eat out with someone who has celiac disease, for taking my needs seriously, surprising me many times along the way and accommodating me and my endless yapping about the matter beyond of what the standard protocol expects. Thank you!

Since April 2013, I have also become more mindful about eating, and I am much more conscious of the food that I give my body. At first, it felt a little overwhelming, so I did what I always do in these situations: I became obsessed. I wanted to become an expert. It was hard, but I kept at it. I started this blog, while I was still learning.

Once I surpassed the stage during which everything felt new, and I started thinking that I could hold a conversation about the subject and come up with gluten-free meals without having to think a lot about it, I felt like an expert and like I could have a little fun.

So here I am, 730 days later, with a fully functioning, intact small instestine, someone with lush villi which are able to absorb all the nutrients they are given, a woman in great health and full round, red lips and a little zest in her hips. Life is on the up and up. I don’t want to say that the world feels less heavy, because when I think of all the political and societal problems it doesn’t, but it feels a little less overwhelming than it did two years ago. Winter is about to head out and the birds greet the mornings chirping. 18 Schmandkuchen klSpring is in the air. 17 Schmandkuchen klLet’s celebrate!

Can you think of a better occasion than this one to bake a delicious cake? I certainly can’t. I made “Schmandkuan” (Schmandkuchen), a popular cake in the area of Kassel, where my husband is from. 14 Schmandkuchen klHe had been wishing for this cake, which uses smetana (a type of sour cream), for a very long time. I’m not that big a fan of cakes heavy on the cream, I had been putting it off. But after he came home from work recently smiling from ear to ear because one of his colleagues had baked a similar cake, I felt I owed him the favor, especially since going to regular cafés has kind of become a thing of the past for him, too. So this weekend, when we were in Kassel for Easter, I made this cake. I wanted to top it off with strawberries, but I was told this would go against tradition. 08 Schmandkuchen klSo I had my strawberries plain, while my husband and his family devoured the cake in two sittings. After I placed their treat on the dining room table my father in law, who is a man of few words, ate two large pieces. It took him about sixteen bites. During this time, he uttered the word “fantastic” about five times. If his statement isn’t great advertising for this recipe, then I don’t know what is.

Schmandkuchen/Smetana Cake

4 eggs (large)
180g sugar
125g butter (at room temperature)
125g quark
1 tsp vanilla essence
190g gluten-free flour (I used Schaer Food Mix)
60g corn starch
1 package baking powder
750g whipping cream (cold)
750g Smetana (cold)
4 packages whipped cream stabilizer
3 tbsp sugar

cinnamon (for decoration)

Heat your oven to 170°C.

Break open the eggs and place their contents in the bottom of a bowl. 01 Schmandkuchen klAdd the sugar and whisk until frothy.02 Schmandkuchen kl Add the butter and continue whisking. Add the quark, the vanilla essence and the gluten-free flour as well as the corn starch and the baking powder. 03 Schmandkuchen klFinish stirring until the batter is lump-free and evenly distribute in a large rectangular cake tin (mine was 42x24x4cm). 04 Schmandkuchen klPlace cake tin into the oven and bake for about twenty to twenty five minutes or until done. 05 Schmandkuchen klYou can test whether this is the case, by pricking the cake with a small fork and seeing if it comes up dry. I tested various areas of the cake, just to be sure, and eventually even took out a tiny piece to sneak a little taste.

Allow cake to cool down immediately. When it is cold, like it is now, you can speed up this process by placing the cake tin outside, e.g. into your garden.

Whilst the cake is cooling, whip up the whipped cream together with the whipped cream stabilizer. 06 Schmandkuchen klAdd the sugar. Then, add the Smetana and stir carefully until you have obtained a homogenous liquid.07 Schmandkuchen kl

Get your cake tin, and evenly distribute the whipped cream and smetana mix on it. 10  Schmandkuchen klDrizzle cinnamon on it and serve immediately. 11  Schmandkuchen klThis cake is most delicious when eaten on the first day (the cake part being quite fluffy then and being less so later on). 15 Schmandkuchen klIt will still be worth the calories on day two, rest assured.16 Schmandkuchen klEnjoy!

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