Thursday, February 24, 2011


         Shopping for my dairy substitutes when I am also allergic to soy continues to be an adventure.  While, I feel that there are a number of good replacements for gluten( my other major allergy), dairy has a ways to go.  But my advice is the same as the advice in my gluten shopping blog, start at the health for stores first, to receive knowledgeable assistance and to try a variety of brands.  After, you have determined your favorite brands you could also try the  supermarkets, discount stores, food co-ops, etc. to try and purchase at a lower price.  Keep visiting the health food store, as they may be the first ones to find new brands that you can check out.  Let’s take a look at some of our dairy categories that need addressing.
        MILK – Soy, Rice, Almond and Coconut are some of the different types available.  I cannot eat soy so I use rice milk in my cereal, to scramble my eggs, to make mashed potatoes, to bake with and to make quiche.  Is rice or almond milk going to whip up into a fluffy froth for your latte.  No, it’s not.  I now drink black decaf coffee, but fortunately, that was never a huge thing for me.  I have yet to use almond milk and hear that it is very good and would like to use it for baking.  Coconut milk is wonderful if you would like to create a creamy curry dish and is good for digestion.  Coconut milk has a thickness and viscousity that the other three don’t and can be used to create a creamy consistency in your cooking and can work nicely with soups.  Will you feel like chugging any of this down with a piece of chocolate cake; probably not right away, but it is worth trying.
        CHEESE –Let’s get this out on the table now.  There is no substitute for Brie.  There is not.  That is something that I have to face every day.  There is no replacing blue cheese.  Another hard to face fact.  So how do I handle this major void in my life.  Well, perhaps not medically sound, I do what I call save up.  I am good, I mean good, I eat a gluten, dairy and soy free diet 99% if the time, so when I am at a party or at my wine dinner event and a ripe brie comes my way or a stinky blue is beckoning I have a bite or two.  But – you cannot do it the next day: accumulation is what can bring on an attack.  This is what my holistic doctor has told me. 
                In the past, I have had a little cheat three days in a row and seem fine at first and then the asthma or gastro intestinal attack comes on.  A cheat should be isolated.  Of course, check with your doctor first.  Basically, I’m here to help you find subs not advise cheating.
                Back to cheese. Rice cheese has been my savior.  In and of itself, not too thrilling, but if you melt it, it can prove tasty.  I make many panini sandwiches with it as well as quesadillas, enchiladas and omelette’s.  I also add it to my gluten free pizza, and tear it up to add to any baked pasta.  I have yet to try it but there is a product called Rawmesan that contains no gluten, dairy or soy and has a parmesan flavor.  Four Seasons in Saratoga has it and I am looking forward to trying it.
            YOGURT – This has been a tough one.  There are many soy yogurts and goat & sheep yogurts for those who are so lucky but no rice milk yogurts.  Then last spring I found a coconut milk yogurt at my health food store and it was on sale.  It comes in vanilla, raspberry and blueberry.  I am in heaven and able to mix my cereal and fruit in it for breakfast.  The name of the yogurt is SO Delicious.  Remember, some of you may be able to eat yogurt made from goat or sheep cheese. Check with your doctors.
         ICE CREAM – In college I was called Dairy Child, due to my frequent visit to the dairy bar and conspicuous consumption of ice cream.  Even before my dairy allergy diagnosis, I had outgrown that phase of my life but believe me I miss it.  So – what’s a dairy child to do?  There are of course soy ice cream subs but that doesn’t work with my soy allergy.  I rely on sorbet and rice dream ice cream for my fix.  Whole Fruit makes a nice sorbet and of course sorbet is consumed by the “rest of the world” and is not just a substitute. As luck would have it, the rest of my family loves ice cream and I must endure a number of visits a year to our local ice cream shops that do not offer sorbet.   As the ambassador of those with food allergies, I pose the question each time to my local shops, if they are considering sorbet.  Am I perfectly disciplined around the dairy consumers I hang out with. Well, admittedly during the summer, if I have been very good, I may have two soft twists between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  If I cheat, I make sure it is worth it.
           WHAT I HAVEN’T FOUND YET - WHIP CREAM, SOUR CREAM, CREAM CHEESE – Although this is really not a large category unto itself, it is an important self-indulgent category.  I bring it up because last week I was at Peter Luger’s steak house in Brooklyn, NY and they served a large bowl of whip cream with the various desserts my table companions were having.  Well – I took one cheat tablespoon and it was amazing.  The best whip cream ever – thick, rich, buttery, slightly airy  and  perhaps the original whip cream.  So – because of this experience, I am on a mission to find a substitute for whip cream.  Cool whip contains dairy and sometimes gluten.  At this time, my well stocked health food store does not have a non soy sour cream or cream cheese.  Still looking.

I purchase my rice cheese, Rice Dream and coconut milk yogurt at Four Seasons Health Food Store on Phila St.  I am able to purchase my rice cheese by the case and sometimes they have sales on the coconut yogurt.
Price Chopper has rice milk, as well as lots of sorbet.
I am not familiar with Hannaford’s rice milk products, but will check it out.

Dancing Ewe Farm in North Granville has some great sheep cheese that agreed with me.

CREAMY POTATO SOUP WITHOUT DAIRY OR SOY Here is a recipe inspired by one I saw in Real Simple and I made some alterations
6 medium sized Yukon potatoes peeled & cubed     2 medium size leeks sliced  
1 large fennel bulb sliced                                      6 cups chicken stock
2 Tbls. of olive oil                                                2/3 cup of white wine 
2 cloves of garlic                                                                                                                                                                             
Heat the leeks(save 1/3 cup on the side) and fennel in the oil until they begin to soften (6 minutes),stirring in salt and pepper to taste as they cook.  Add white wine and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently.  Add potatoes, and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender( 12 minutes) Meanwhile in a small pan sauté remaining leeks and garlic in a little olive oil until soft and carmellized.  Save for garnish.  I also like to use crumbled bacon for garnish or fresh parsley. Take half of the now tender potato soup and puree half of it in your food processor or blender.  Pour back into the remaining soup, stir, serve and garnish with topping of your choice.  Now you can enjoy a creamy soup and my family relished it as well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


(If the picture isn't showing, please click on black. Video starts 6 seconds in)

     On Friday February 4th, Tango Fusion (my dance company with my husband Johnny Martinez) participated in an exciting Tango event at The Egg in Albany. The show Tango Fire was being presented that evening and my husband Johnny and I had been invited to do the pre-show talk at 7:15 to educate the audience about Tango to further enhance their evening.  When we started the talk, each of the the 100 chairs was occupied and as the remainder of the audience arrived for the show, the crowd gradually expanded to 250.
      I started the presentation by enumerating the history of Tango beginning with the different cultural influences that shaped its origins in the 1880's.  Giving the historical highlights, I recounted Tango's early days in Buenos Aires, its trip to Europe and back to the Americas all before 1915.  Some of the Tango's more provocative steps like the ganchos and its close proximity of the partners, led an early 19th century pope to declare the Tango as "The downfall of western civilization."  Those audience members who had danced Tango before nodded approvingly while newcomers to the dance form were impressed by its political and religious impact.
      I spoke of the Golden Age of the Tango,the 1920's through the early 1950's, when many bands were formed, composers were prolific and tango dancing was the national pastime. Then in the 1950's the political climate changed and public assembly was not allowed which greatly affected the dances.   Popular Tango performers and teachers at the time had to put their passion aside and take up different jobs such as mailmen and clerks.
      By 1985, the dance had started to make a comeback and a dynamic show came out of Argentina and made its way to New York via Paris: Tango Argentino.  I had  just started partner dancing in NYC and witnessed its arrival in New York.  I tried to impart to the crowd how momentous this occasion was and how Tango Argentino took New York by storm and eventually the world.  The influence of the show could be seen in the ballroom world, fashion world, commercials, theater and dance world at large.  The choreographer of Tango Argentino, Juan Carlos Copes, took an interest in my dancing and trained me gratis.(that's another story)
      After elaborating on the significance of that show and its impact on the dance world, I brought the crowd up to date on where Tango is now 25 years later.  It is in fact everywhere. Every city and most smaller cities in the US have a Tango community.  Albany has one, Hudson has one and we have one here in Saratoga Springs, NY.
      My husband Johnny Martinez then presented another side to Tango: the music and the different styles.  He explained the difference between Milonga, Tango Vals and Tango.  He played snippets of music and we demonstrated on the rug.  A historically relevant demo, as Cafe Tango was frequently danced on carpets in Paris.  I prefer an uncarpeted floor.  The demos were improvisational and gave the audience the flavor for the dance as well as illustrating the lead - follow aspect of the dance.  Tango is the consummate lead -follow dance as their is no specific rhythm.  It is great training for all dances.
     ONTO THE SHOW - At the conclusion of our talk, we entertained a few questions and then moved into the theater to enjoy Tango Fire. It was a packed audience and the company did not disappoint.  They worked their butts off.  There was more dancing than anything and let's face it, the music is sublime and the singing is inspired, but most of us come to see the spectacular dancing. 
     The first act had a historical sensibility with dancers wearing classic costumes and dancing to more traditional and older Tango composers.  Hair(both men and women) was slicked or in an updo. 
      The second act featured more contemporary music by composers such as Astor Piazzolla.  Costumes and hair had taken on a racier feeling with see through lace costumes for the women, tight shirts for the men and hair down and flying.  One audience member commented that they felt that " the dancers got through the first act just so they could do the second."  They did seem to love the more contemporary music but personally I felt most of them had a passion for the traditional tango music and dancing of the first act as well.
       The company's energy, technique and performance levels were all top notch. However, had I officially reviewed the show, I would have made the following comments.  Overall, I enjoyed the choreography but some of it was repetitive. For instance, there were far too many battements(high leg kicks) and they eventually lost their luster because we had seen it already.  Some of the second act solo numbers took on a Hustle feeling, where the lifts were so disco-like we lost any sense of Tango.  Finally, I longed for at least one slow sensuous number.  The pacing, although exciting, was almost always the same and they hit everything hard.  A little ebb and flow if you please.
       Although I feel these issues I mentioned are valid, they did in no way take away from the fact that Tango Fire's show was first rate. Happily, they had veered away from the all too frequent structure of many touring Tango shows where: someone sings, someone dances, someone plays an instrument, someone sings, someone dances, someone plays an instrument and so forth and so on.  Tango Fire did not hold back on the dancing one bit.  They showered us with plenty of dance and peppered the show with singing and instrumental solos.  The musicians Quatrotango were magnificent in both acts demonstrating an ease with both the traditional milongas of the first act and the jazz inspired Piazzolla tangos of the second.
     My husband and I left the theater satisfied with both our participation in the evening and the great show we had just watched.

If anyone is interested in learning this intriguing dance form, contact me in the comment area and I can guide you to classes all over the United States and in the Albany capital district area in New York.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez


Wednesday, February 9, 2011



Author and dance partner/husband
        I have yet to speak as my Tango Mom persona who lives in my head with Gluten Gal.  Tango Mom is not all about tango, but rather a symbol of any dancing, teaching or choreographing I do.  Tango Mom is constantly discovering ways to combine dancing and choreographing and theater with her two sons.
        For instance, nothing could be better than to be in my dining room, choreographing while my sons are playing in the snow.  I can see them, they can see me and I can also choreograph at the same time. Sometimes I am choreographing Tango and sometimes other dances.  Granted it is distracting, but if I am happy than I am flowing.  Conveniently, the number that I am working on for the show "RENT" at the Egg in April requires a table and my dining room just happens to have one.  So there I am standing on the chairs and tables trying things out as the boys play outside.
      Last night I asked my husband for assistance and we were trying out a number of dance moves on the table.  Our dining room has windows on three sides and sidewalk pedestrians were left to wonder.  But, that's the advantage of getting older.  Can't worry about that.
       Earlier, I was out helping the boys dig tunnels into the snow. We dug from either side towards each other until we touched shovels. Younger son tried the tunnel first and then mom did. Wasn't sure I was going to fit, but I made it through the tunnel onto our side walk. 
       Prior to the snow fort building, we shoveled and had a snow ball fight parents against the kids (their choice).  The snow was perfect for packing and many snow balls hit their mark.  At one point, eldest son was down and we told him that if he stayed still and let us pelt him twenty times, we would take a few days off his grounding.  He had driven us to grounding him on Friday and somehow, I thought this would make us feel better. My husband did not count the throws unless we made contact with our son.  With no comment, he took the snowballs very well and lessened his sentence.  Questionable parenting, but a win-win nonetheless and a good laugh for all.
     Ahh - the doorbell rings.  The troops are storming the castle and ready for lunch.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez

Tuesday, February 1, 2011



        In any marriage, there seems to be one person who is in the dog house more than the other.  In our marriage, I am the frequent occupant of the dog house.  It goes in waves.  Some weeks I make it through without a scratch and others, well is almost a daily occurrence.  Last week, my offense was so severe, that I headed out to the dog house twice.

        I had been invited to play tennis with a group of women last Wednesday morning January 19th,  from 8am to 9:30 at the Wilton YMCA. My husband also had to leave the house early to work ( directing a show) not for recreational purposes.  I had arranged for our younger son to go to the neighbors at 8:15 am to play before school.  Normally, my husband would take the car that was outside and I would take the garaged car that required no de-icing.  Feeling mature, I opted to take the outside car (named Rosa - 2003 Honda Odyssey) and left the inside car Bob ( 1992 Honda Odyssey) for my husband. 

       Feeling confident in my generosity, I drove off to my tennis match.  My tennis match was going along swimmingly, until my husband strode across the court with purpose at 8:55 am.  It doesn't look good and I go over to him with trepidation.  He asked quietly if ," I have the keys to Bob."  Apparently, he had no keys for our car Bob and was wondering if I did.  Immediately, it struck me that not only did I  have my set of keys for Bob, but his set as well. 
         I was not picking up my cell phone and the YMCA was not giving messages, so driving over was his only option to secure the keys to our car Bob.  How did he get there?  My neighbor (where my younger son was supposed to go) offered her car.  So my husband and son walked to the neighbor's home, de-iced their car and set off for the tennis courts at the gym.
         And so there he was striding away after taking both sets away from me.  No kiss, no good bye, nothing.  I felt like an officer being stripped of her rank.  It brought me back to a time last summer, when I apparently had both sets of keys for the car and I was at the baseball field at East Side Rec.  My phone again unreachable, my husband had no choice but to ride his bike to the baseball field to retrieve the keys.  It was the first but not the last time, that my husband strode across an athletic field with purpose to search my pockets and back pack.
         After leaving the tennis court, I called my neighbor several times to gage my husband's mood while he was at her house borrowing the car.  What did I have to look forward to when my husband came home?  There was no answer after two phone calls and I was left to wonder about his mood upon his return.
           After residing in the dog house for two days, I found myself on Friday on the very same court that my husband had strode across on Wednesday.  AND - I was there playing tennis with my husband, the helpful neighbor and another friend was the fourth partner.  At the end of our game, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring up Wednesday's antics with several of the key players present.  My husband winced as I started to tell the story and started to make his way off the court.  I couldn't help but notice that helpful neighbor seemed non-plussed by our story: and here's why.
          Helpful neighbor's family key stories way surpassed ours.  Apparently, her husband had on several occasions taken keys to Albany. Not Wilton - Albany. Well - my sin paled beside that one.  A second story outshone the first.  Friendly neighbor and husband had flown into Stewart airport (exit 17 south of us) on an evening flight.  Her husband had somehow misplaced the car keys forcing them to get a hotel room overnight and contact a locksmith in the morning. Wow!  My star was rising but unfortunately my husband was unable to witness it and hear these stories first hand.  Our fourth tennis partner and I were in awe of the strength of the helpful neighbor's marriage.  Could our marriages have survived such key mishaps?

          On the drive home from the tennis court, I relayed helpful neighbor's stories to my husband.  He seemed mildly impressed and rightly so.  The next day when he went to take our car Rosa to his director job, she wouldn't start.  My younger son had left the light on in the car the day before and worn done the battery.  Who was the parent in charge? You guessed it. Back in the dog house.

Feel free to comment with family/key stories of your own.

Diane Lachtrupp Martinez