Tuesday, September 30, 2008

You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman

We have a new wool-blend area rug in our living room. The color is "Toast," although it looks more like "Whole Wheat Toast." It is lovely and thick and cozy, and it sheds abominably. I have been reassured that this will stop, eventually, and our living room will no longer look as if it is home to daily sheep-shearing contests. In the meantime, Helen spends most of her time crawling around the floor looking for balls of wool I miss with the vacuum that she can delicately pick up with two fingers and push into her mouth. At least two times a day, I hear a choking-on-a-hairball sound. Years from now, she'll be telling her therapist, "I keep having a recurring dream that I'm choking on wool. What does this mean?"

On the way to dance class yesterday, Katherine explained to me how much she likes exercise: gym, recess, swim lessons, dance. "Exercise makes me feel comfortable." I am so proud of her attitude, which she SO did not inherit from me. She is my exercise role model. Speaking of exercise, what's up with Lifetime taking Denise Austin off the air? I know she can be a bit hard to take, but I liked her routines, and the times her shows were on in the morning fit into my schedule perfectly. Dumb move, Lifetime.

When Scott made pie this weekend, he was going to use Butter-Flavored Crisco, which we have used in the past. Now the label says "natural and artificial flavor" instead of just "artificial flavor," so we weren't sure if the Crisco had dairy or not. Scott called the 1-800 number and was told that there was no dairy in the Crisco.

Yesterday I read an article in the September issue of Everyday Food about the label "natural flavor," which said that the FDA defines natural flavors as "any flavoring derived from 'a spice, fruit, or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.'" Broad definition much?

The article goes on to say, "People who avoid meat, dairy, and fish for any reason should pay mind to products labeled as containing 'natural flavors.' These additives can come from meat, eggs, dairy, seafood, and poultry; yet their source does not have to be disclosed,* except--ironically--when they're included in meat and poultry products, which are regulated by the USDA." When did our food production get so messed up? You know it's bad when we have shows that explain where our food comes from, and even "100% juice" can have "natural flavors" of a questionable origin. (Thanks to Go Dairy Free for the juice link.)

*I put the words in bold.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Birth Weekend

I had a wonderful birthday weekend. On Friday, our local grocery store owner stopped me to tell me that his store now carries: Tofutti ice cream, Tofutti Cuties, Tofutti American Soy-Cheese, and...Tofutti Sour Supreme, a product we have never tried. Also, he has Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese on order. Yay! I don't have to drive out of town to find these items! I don't have to buy them by the case from the natural foods store and then have to figure out where to store them! I can make recipes that call for sour cream! Both of the kids had tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch on Saturday. Such a small, normal thing. It made me so happy.

Scott made birthday apple pie on Saturday. I am one of those rare people who, if given the option, would choose pie over cake every time. Mmm.

The kids were mildly sick on Sunday, so I stayed home from church with various children draped over me. After lunch, I went shopping at the outlet mall by myself where I saw a car with a license plate from my place of birth. Marion, Indiana--Hollah!

We enjoyed spaghetti with homemade sauce and homemade bread for dinner. I'm sorry to let down all of my dairy-free peeps, but after the kids were in bed Scott got me a Peanut Buster Parfait from Dairy Queen. Our Dairy Queen is a rarity because it sells only frozen treats, no hot food, and it is open only half of the year. The opening of DQ is a sign of Spring. I was glad to sneak in one last frozen treat before they close for the winter. (We do go as a family, sometimes. Katherine can have the StarKiss Bars and the Arctic Rush.)

What did I get for my birthday? A food dehydrator! And an awesome dried foods cookbook. We can make our own dried fruits! And fruit rolls! And sun-dried tomatoes! And.... (Help me out, Sally.) Best of all, I received a beautiful homemade card made out of an index card. It will fit perfectly in my wallet.

Thanks for all of your birthday wishes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

You Say It's Your Birthday...

...It's my birthday too--yeah.
--The Beatles

In honor of my birthday, Scott has been treating me to quotes from this all day. Enjoy it with me, won't you?

Friday, September 26, 2008

An Open Letter to Ben and Jerry's

September 26, 2008

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Cofounders
Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc.

Dear Mr. Cohen and Mr. Greenfield,

On behalf of my readers and supporters, I'd like to congratulate you on your balanced response to PETA's suggestion that you replace the cow's milk in your ice cream with breast milk. I think spokesman Sean Greenwood's statement, "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child," was well said.

I'd like to offer a compromise, if I may. Have you considered making some non-dairy ice cream flavors? I'm not asking you to do away with your cow's milk ice cream. I just think that the company that makes the best dairy ice cream could do a great job with dairy-free ice cream. Soy milk? Rice milk? Coconut milk? The options are many, and none of them involve hooking women up to high-powered breast pumps.

The production of a dairy-free line of frozen desserts--beyond your three excellent sorbets--could broaden your customer base to include people with lactose intolerance, people with dairy allergies, and vegans. This would also be a way to show PETA you are listening. (I was going to say "a way to throw PETA a bone," but they wouldn't appreciate that.)

Thank you for your consideration,


Thursday, September 25, 2008


I am a big brother.
I am a little brother.
I am a big sister.
I am a little sister.
I am a talker.
I am mostly quiet.
I like to sing.
I am big for my age.
I am small for my age.
I like animals.
I like tractors.
I like ballerinas.
I can tell jokes.
I can't always explain what I want.
I like ketchup.
I make a mess, sometimes.
I am learning to share.
I wear diapers.
I am learning to go to the bathroom.
I take naps.
I am a good helper.
I can't always sit still.
I love my pets.
I love my sisters.
I love my brothers.
I love my daddy.
I love my mama.
I am loved.

I am NOT terrible.
I am two.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Here is my salsa recipe, created from a combination of recipes I found online and my own personal salsa preferences. It meets these important requirements:

1. It is easy.
2. It used up all of the tomatoes Scott's coworker gave us.
3. It isn't very spicy, so the kids will eat it.
4. It isn't very chunky, so I will eat it.
5. It freezes well.

Nowheymama's Salsa

5 lbs. tomatoes, blanched and peeled
3 cups sweet onion, chopped
3-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (Seeding them makes them less "picy," as Eli says.)
3 teaspoons canning salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/3 cup sugar

Place the tomatoes in a large pot, and either mash them with a potato masher or squeeze them with your hands until they are well... squished. Add the onion, peppers, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Begin with 1/4 cup sugar; you may need to add more depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes. Mix everything together, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for half an hour. Blend with an immersion blender (or blend batches in a regular blender) until it reaches the desired consistency. Cool, and then ladle into freezer containers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Not As I Do

Milk-Allergic Child: May I try a piece of your gum?

Her Parents: Sure. Here you go.

Milk-Allergic Child: [Makes face.] This gum makes my mouth feel funny.

Her Parents: Ha! Ha ha! That is because it is peppermint flavored.

Or, you know, it could be because of this:

Always, ALWAYS read the label. (Katherine spit out the gum and was fine. Thank goodness.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Abby the Alley Cat

As I've mentioned before, children's books about allergies--especially dairy allergies--are not very common. Children's books about allergies that my kids actually enjoy reading are even more rare. So I am pleased that they like Abby the Alley Cat: Staying Safe From Dairy! by Myronie and Sam McKee. First-grader Katherine finds the Seuss-esque rhyme scheme and repeating refrain ("Staying safe from dairy is my goal/So I will not touch it with a 10-foot pole!") easy to read, and two-year-old Eli likes the cute drawings by illustrator Adi Rom. I like the positive, upbeat message and the allergy-related information for parents included in the back of the book.

In addition to the book, there is also a video available for purchase. It is done in a Reading Rainbow style; the narrator reads the story while the camera pans in and out over the book's illustrations.

At $12.99 for the book ($11.66 currently on Amazon), the price is steep, but I would recommend Abby the Alley Cat for allergic children, especially those with dairy allergies. The video download is $2.99. And, according to the authors' website, 10% of the profits go towards helping children with food allergies.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Paved With Good Intentions

So, yeah, I went to a Christian Ed meeting at my church last night and basically announced that our lovely church is dying because we aren't making children and young families a priority. This is true. It needed to be said. I wasn't the only one who said it. I know it was the right thing to do. And yet I feel like crap. Being extroverted takes a lot out of an introvert, dudes.

Anyway, let's talk about something else. When is a recipe your recipe? When is it not? I read somewhere that changing one ingredient means you've made a new recipe. But what if all you did was substitute margarine for butter? Soy milk for milk? When can you stop saying you adapted a recipe from someone else's and really call it your own?

When does a recipe enter the public domain? When does it become so well known that it belongs to everyone? If two people have the same idea and write about it, is one automatically plagiarizing the other?

What do you think? How do you handle recipes on your blog?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vanity Cakes and Gluttony Chips

I made homemade salsa the other day, only to discover that we had no chips of any kind in the house. But we did have tortillas. And pita bread. So Scott and I made our own chips by cutting the breads into triangles, frying them, and salting them. We're just like pioneers, if pioneers had store-bought flatbreads and deep fryers and didn't care about their fried snack teaching a lesson:

"It seems strange that I never learned to make them. I know they were mostly egg and were fried in deep fat as doughnuts are. They were to be eaten hot. Were crunchy, not sweetened and were so light, really a bubble that they seemed almost nothing in one's mouth. They were a golden color when fried. I suppose the egg yolks helped in their coloring. They simply puffed up when fried until they were nothing but a bubble: Vanity cakes."--Laura Ingalls Wilder, as quoted in The Little House Cookbook.

That's great, Laura, but I think we'll stick with our easy, inexpensive, message-free chips. Because at $1.50 for a 12 oz. bag of pita bread off the day-old bread rack, as compared to $2.64 for a 6 oz. bag of ready-made pita chips, that's... (Help me out, math people.) that's a deal is what that is.

Friday, September 12, 2008

He'll Be Here All Week

Eli: Mommyo, somefing in my nose.

Me: There's something in your nose?

Eli: Yeah.

Me: What is it?

Eli: Is my fingah.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven Years

Seven years ago, I was a very, very nervous first-time mother who had barely taken her newborn out of the house. Early on the morning of my baby's two-week checkup, my husband and I got up, got ready, and slowly and carefully made the drive to the pediatrician's office for our appointment.

We reached the check-in counter about five minutes before our appointment time, and the receptionist berated me, "Do you see the sign? You are supposed to be here at LEAST fifteen minutes before your appointment. I have the right to cancel your appointment because you are late. Don't let this happen again." Standing in an office I had never visited before, whose policies I did not know, in my milk-stained shirt and holding a newborn in a car seat, I cried.

We sat in the waiting area for a moment, and then were called in to see the doctor. "Did you hear that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center in New York?" the nurse asked. "No," we said. "Was it a small plane?" "I don't know," she replied, as she deftly checked our little girl and went to get the doctor.

We drove back to our house to find my visiting flight attendant mother sitting on the couch crying as she watched the TV. "A second plane just flew into the towers," she said. Scott had to leave for work, but Mom and I sat glued to the TV all day. Because there were no planes flying and no rental cars to be had, my brother-in-law drove my mother to meet my father halfway between our homes. And I continued to watch the coverage through a haze of hormones and sleep deprivation, holding my baby girl.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Hey, kids! This is just like what they eat in the movie! Now EAT YOUR VEGETABLES.

Ratatouille (adapted from the well-known cookbook, How I Feed My Family on $16 a Week, published in 1975)

1 small eggplant
4 small zucchini
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, cut into eighths
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Peel (optional) and cube eggplant and zucchini and cook for 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain. In a large frying pan, heat the oil and cook the onion until it is golden brown.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about twenty minutes over low heat, until tender.

This recipe freezes well.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fall Foods

Thank you so much for your tomato ideas! I ended up making a vat of tomato sauce and freezing most of it. I'll have to try your recipes with the next batch of tomatoes. And I'm wishing more and more for a food dehydrator....

Here are some other great fall recipes:

Swistle posted a dairy-free apple bread recipe.

Beck posted a dairy-free, no-bake peanut butter ball recipe--no powdered milk in sight!

Hannah has a new dairy-free, vegan recipe booklet called Lunchbox Bites for sale at BitterSweet.

Happy eating!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Around the Internets

The new Living With Food Allergies Blog Carnival is up at Food Allergy Buzz.

Beck has an interesting food allergy/school lunch conversation going on at her Kitchen Party post, which was prompted in part by this post (and its comments) at Fairly Odd Mother.

Linda Coss posted an article about keeping food-allergic children safe at school.

Jennifer McCann has fruit cozy patterns up at Vegan Lunch Box. No more bruised fruit in bookbags and lunchboxes!

[Edited to add: My vintage apron arrived today! It's so pretty. Thank you, Becky and Lisa!]

Questions for you:
What do you like to pack in your children's lunches?
Got any good tomato recipes?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Dairy-Free Wizard of Oz Birthday

Glinda's bubbles (PB & J circle sandwiches)
Tinman's heart cookies
Scarecrow straw (potato sticks and pretzels)
Emerald city green grapes
Munchkin (baby) carrots
Rainbow popsicles
Chocolate cake
Water and apple juice

Coloring Pages
Eat Apples off the Tree: Remember the trees that throw apples at Dorothy? This game is just like it sounds. No hands! K got the idea from a Clifford Halloween book.

Witch's Broom Relay: I saw this idea on several websites. The kids stand at start with a broom in hand and use the broom to hit a ball up and around a "yellow brick." They come back to start and hand off the broom to the next person in line. We had the older kids play one-handed with their non-dominant hand to even the playing field.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road: I wrote clues on one side of yellow "brick" cards with the names of two or three of the children on the other side. I matched up children who can read with those who can't. The first clue led the first group of kids to the next clue, which was then read by the second group of children, etc. The final card had the birthday girl's name on it, and she found and distributed the goody bags.

Goody bags:
straw wands

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

First Day of School

Morning Snack:
Kettle corn

Lunch, packed in her Laptop Lunch system:
Daddy's Fried Chicken with honey mustard
Gramma's homemade applesauce
Carrot sticks
Fruit snacks

Monday, September 01, 2008

Dairy-Free Fair Foods

What dairy-free foods can you find at the county fair? Pack your own sandwich and water bottle for dinner, then choose from these items:

French fries (made from fresh potatoes at a stand that sells only french fries--no cross-contamination)
Cotton candy
Roasted peanuts
Kettle corn
Fresh-squeezed lemonade
Candy apples
Italian/Hawaiian/shaved ice

Happy Labor Day!