Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Price of Religious Freedom, First Grade-Essay Format

"If I were a Pilgrim I would milk the cows. And I would play marbles. I would not like to be a Pilgrim. I would have to wear lots of clothes."

Friday, November 21, 2008

2008 Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu
Two turkeys, deep-fried
Gravy (substitute dairy-free margarine for the butter)
Mom's stuffing, two batches, made with DF bread
Scott's mashed potatoes (made with soymilk and DF margarine)
Sweet potato and apple casserole
Green bean casserole
Cranberries: cranberry jelly and the awesome cranberry orange relish made by our grocery store
Raspberry jello salad (my neighbor's recipe, made with frozen raspberries from the farmer's market)
Relish tray
Appetizers, if someone else wants to make them

Pumpkin Pie

Decaf coffee

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Impossible Wish

"I want to be big big."

"Someday you will be big big. You'll be bigger than Mama."


"Because that's what happens."

"I don't want to be big."

"You don't?"

"Noo, I want to stay 'mall."

"I want you to stay small, too."


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Sweet Vegan

I love cookbooks and cooking. So do my husband and dairy-allergic daughter. Since Katherine is just learning to read, she is especially drawn to cookbooks with color photos. At age seven, she knows that while they may look good, many of the foods in our cookbooks are not safe for her to eat. She cheerfully comes up with substitution suggestions, and Scott and I try to figure out how to make dairy-laden recipes safe for her.

Poppy Seed Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling

When I received a copy of My Sweet Vegan in the mail this past weekend, it was so much fun to hand it to Katherine and say, "All of these recipes are dairy free. Which one do you want to make first?" Katherine looked at the beautiful, full-color photos of rich and creamy and chocolate-y and caramel-y desserts and said, "ALL of them? I can eat them all?"

Silken Chocolate Mousse Cake

Yes, you can, Katherine. And so can the egg allergic and vegans. You can all enjoy Whoopie Pies and Bananas Foster Cake and Pumpkin Pecan Pie. Katherine and Scott chose a dessert to make--Chai "Cheese" Cake, and I was sent to the store for Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese and tofu. She can't wait to make something else, and we can't wait to help her.

Caramel Macchiato "Cheese" Cake

A few of the ingredients are a challenge for us to find in our small town right now, such as brown rice syrup and dairy-free soy yogurt. But we are working on it, and since we are not vegans or allergic to eggs, we can use ingredients like honey and eggs (and dairy-free sour cream) if we're stuck.

At just $15.61 on Amazon for a 184-page cookbook with a full-color photo of each and every recipe, I think this is a great gift idea for the dairy-allergic, or egg-allergic, or vegan person on your list.
My Sweet Vegan: passionate about dessert

Written for Go Dairy Free.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It Must Be Winter Because...

...fun treats arrived in the mail, and another is on the way.

...I'm planning holiday menus.

...Katherine and I are choosing ornament kits to make.

...I'm feeling thankful (for all of your wonderful comments).

...we've unpacked all of the hats, mittens, scarves, gloves, and boots.

...I'm figuring out the best way to arrange our house to entertain three children indoors. (Ideas?)

...it's snowing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beating a Dead Horse to Death

This was going to be a post about another near-miss food allergy experience Katherine had last night and she's fine but I'm angry and when are people going to understand and I realize that eternal vigilance is the price of food allergies but what can I do so that this doesn't keep happening at a church we've attended for five years and blah blah blah allergycakes.

Are you as tired of this as I am?

So. What I am going to say instead is "Thank You" to all of you. Thank you for reading and being supportive. Because of you, I did not just vent on my blog and leave it at that. I called the director this morning (a very hard thing for me to do) and told her how upset I was, and I will do the same thing at a meeting next week. Otherwise nothing will change.

Thanks for helping me find my voice.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How to Make Eating Peas More Exciting

1. Pretend all of the peas on your plate are Batmans and Jokers.

2. Have two peas "fight" each other.

3. Squeeze the Joker pea between two fingers.

4. Announce, "He is squeezed."

5. Eat him.

6. Announce, "Batman is safe."

7. Eat him.

8. Repeat.

9. "I want more peas!"

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Autumn Eats

I made pumpkin puree on Monday, per The Pioneer Woman's instructions. So now I can make pumpkin bread. Then maybe I'll continue my autumn baking with a recipe from BeanPlate, like Nora Bee's Shoo-fly Pie. Mmmm....

Pumpkin Bread from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I usually omit this.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts, if desired. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn the bread out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Edited to add: For muffins, bake the batter at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes in muffin tins.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Food-Allergic American Girl

Yesterday Katherine and I, along with Helen, Gramma, and twelve of our neighbors, went to an American Girl Fashion Show held as a fundraiser for the Ireland Cancer Center in Cleveland, OH. All of the girls wore dresses that matched their dolls' dresses--in color, at least. We don't have the cash to spring for "real" AG dresses for our girls. Lunch was served during the fashion show, and Katherine was provided with a dairy-free meal. The girls had a lovely time being together at such a fancy, grownupish event, and the moms and grandmas had fun, too.

Are you sensing a "But..." coming? Good for you!

When we received our reservation confirmation letter for our not inexpensive tickets (I know, I know--it's for charity!), the letter said, "Lunch of grilled breast of chicken and vegetables over pasta for adults and fingertip sandwiches and potato chips for children will be served. If there are any major allergies in your party that need accommodation, please contact us as soon as possible so that we may work with Executive Caterers in Landerhaven."

Wow! I thought, as I dialed the provided phone number. How great that they're thinking about this! I thought, as I left a message on voicemail. What the heck? I thought, as I waited a week for a phone call.

Then the call came from a volunteer. "We ask that you call the caterer directly so that there is no mix-up in the passing of information," she said.
"That's great! I really appreciate that! What is the caterer's number?"
"Oh, I don't have that. You'll have to look it up yourself."
"Ma'am, I live two hours away in another state. Could you please look it up and call me back?" "Well, I wouldn't know where to look."
"Fine. But you're going to need that information for other parents who might call."

Using my trusty friends, The Internets, I found the caterer's number and spoke to a woman there. We decided that it was easier to order Katherine a plain chicken breast, with sides of plain pasta and vegetables then to try to figure out safe breads and fillings for the finger sandwiches. I also requested juice in place of the milk the other girls would have. No dessert was mentioned in the menu, so I didn't think to ask about it. I told the caterer that the people holding the fundraiser didn't have the caterer's number to give out and that she might want to call them.

I packed a PB & J sandwich and dessert for K., just in case, and off we went. She was served a plate of chicken and pasta with a buttery-looking sauce identical to the adults, so I sent it back to the kitchen to make sure it was safe. It was made with olive oil, so yes. I also requested a bag of potato chips for her so she could be like her friends. No one had gotten the message about the juice, so I requested a glass, along with a fancy straw like the other girls had with their milk.
The dessert was chocolate mousse, so I just pulled out the cookies I brought for Katherine. I wish I had asked about sorbet or something on the phone, though. Or that the woman I spoke with had mentioned dessert.

In summary, Executive Caterers did provide safe food for my daughter, and the servers were very pleasant and helpful. The people planning the American Girl event need to get their act together, especially since they've been doing this event for a dozen years. Don't write about accommodating allergies in your letter if you don't even have the caterer's phone number! And while I am always thankful when people are accommodating, I also think that is is my daughter's right to have safe food, especially when we have paid a good bit of money and the event planners bring up the subject of food allergies first!

Sidebar complaints, RE: treatment of mothers with infants, centerpieces
One of my friends and I brought our babies along, a fact we stated very clearly on our registration forms. No additional information was sent to us, so we assumed it was fine. We brought small strollers for the babies, but upon arriving were told that there was no room in the ballroom for them. Yet many of the little girls had full-size umbrella strollers for their dolls that they were allowed to bring in. (Did I just go there? Oh yes I did.) So my friend and I held our babies while eating and feeding them. It was fine, but we were back in a corner where there was plenty of room, and why didn't someone contact us and explain what the situation would be beforehand?

The centerpieces were made of plastic wands with paper stars on top. The same kind of wands were used in the grand finale, which was made up of the models and some girls from the audience. Those girls all got to keep the wands, but we were told to leave the wands on our tables for the second show. Now, I could care less about this, but it bothered our girls, and you know the girls at the second show were going to be allowed to take those wands home. The sponsors couldn't shell out ten more dollars to get enough wands for both shows? Please.

Sigh. I know, I know--it's for charity!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Making a Canyon Out of a Gopher Hole

Eli and I raked and mowed the lawn this morning while Helen napped. E. was such a good listener and did such a good job. Then on the way to the house he caught his foot in a hole and fell down. He proceeded to crawl around, crying, not putting any weight on his foot for the next hour. I called the doctor's office and the nurse said I needed to bring him in... to their partner's office the next town over.

Scott always tells me not to overreact, to which I respond, "You're right, you're right. I know you're right," and then do it anyway--arranging for someone else to pick K. up at early dismissal, berating myself for not packing any food for lunch or enough diapers for the baby, wondering how long we might be at the doctor's office/hospital, envisioning life with a two-year old in a cast ("How will we bathe him?!?"), making panicked phone calls while Eli screams in the backseat of the van ("I DON'T WANT A BAND-AID!! IS FEEL BETTER NOW!!")

Well. It is just a mild sprain. Thank goodness. The doctor had never met us before, and he gently reminded me that kids this age are often more scared than hurt. I tried to explain how unusual this behavior is for E., and the doctor just smiled kindly. Whatever. Eli is fine, and that's what's important.

But now I feel all jangly and full of nervous energy I need to burn off. I feel the way I did when Scott and I were driven from our wedding ceremony to our reception. Friends had left a split of champagne in the backseat. We finished it on the 10-minute drive, and it didn't even make a dent in my nerves. It just made me stop shaking. Maybe I'll go out for some therapeutic Christmas shopping tonight and bring home a bottle of wine to split with Scott.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Table Torture

The challenge of getting kids to eat dinner is nothing new, what with the "how many more bites/why do I have to try it/I know I won't like its." Throw in a menu limited by food allergies, and it can be even more of a struggle. But have you ever heard this?

Middle child takes bite of sauce. *Full body shudder* Pause. "It scares me."

Let me know I'm not alone. What's your favorite dinnertime food fight story?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Small Town Politics

We went to our little voting location this morning bright and early, and the line was already out the door. The sweet ladies who work the polls were excited about the turnout, but not so excited about the already-malfunctioning voting machines and printer. I love that they know everyone and have the book open to where you need to sign your name before you even tell them.

Katherine gets to vote at school, too, so she thought it was kind of neat to come along with us first. Eli thought we were going to see a boat, so he was not so thrilled. "Where da big boat? We go on it? It so loud?"

After we voted, Eli, Helen, Grandad and I went to the Kiwanis' All-Day Pancake Breakfast, where E. ate his weight in pancakes and sausage. When Katherine used to come with us, we'd bring a bagel for her to eat with the syrup and sausage. Today I bought some frozen sausage to share later with K. and Scott. Mmmm...

Time to get something done. Hope you're having a good election day!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hiya, Pumpkin

After making pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies for our Halloween festivities, I was left with about a half of a cup of canned pumpkin--not pumpkin pie mix but 100% pumpkin. I didn't want to throw it away, but I couldn't think of a good use for it. Then it hit me: baby food! It's the perfect consistency for Helen right now. If she were younger, I would run it through the food processor with a little water. I'm feeling pretty proud of myself, so if you've already been doing this for years be kind in your comments.

Katherine's most recent issue of Scholastic News is about a pumpkin festival. One of the activities asks you to circle the festival foods you would try. Katherine circled pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin pancakes. She did not circle macaroni and cheese with pumpkin seeds. Good job! (We'll just assume the other items were made with soymilk.)

Even though we pack K's lunch every day, we still get a copy of the cafeteria menu. November's sidebar column is about the importance of milk: "Milk provides calcium, vitamins, and nutrients that kids need. Encourage your [child] to drink three cups a day. Keep the milk fat free, but it is okay to add chocolate and strawberry flavoring. If your child is allergic to milk, try calcium enriched soy or rice milk. If your child is lactose intolerant, get lactose free milk."

Thank you for these wise words, School Cafeteria Menu! Too bad the school doesn't provide soy or rice milk or lactose-free milk in the cafeteria! Or dairy-free meal choices, for that matter!

Sigh. I guess they're trying, sort of, right?