Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I swear I am not making this up

Last night at dinner:

Katherine: "Mama, when I'm grown up and I live in my own house, will you give me this recipe so I can cook this casserole?"

Me [dumbstruck]: "Of course! And you don't even have to wait that long. In a couple years, you may cook it for dinner here."

Katherine: "Really? OK!"

Me: !!!!

What is this fabulous casserole, you might ask? Lobster Risotto? Tuscan Vegetable Stew? Moroccan Chickpeas and Couscous? No! It's Homemade Fake Rice-A-Roni!

The recipe I made is adapted from The Complete Tightwad Gazette, although there are other versions out there.


1 package ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup long grain rice
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into one-inch pieces
4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine
4 cups dairy-free beef bouillon broth
salt and pepper to taste

Brown turkey and onion in a large skillet. Drain and place in a bowl. Melt margarine in the skillet and brown the rice and spaghetti in the margarine. Add the turkey, onion, and bouillon.
Cover and simmer for twenty minutes, or until rice and spaghetti are fully cooked. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with vegetables, and possibly some sort of hot sauce or chutney to liven things up for the adults.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Parents of the Birthday Child

I know you think it's weird that I stayed at your daughter's party. None of the other parents did. Not even the mother of that other allergic girl. And why was I picking up the food and reading the labels? How rude. What could be wrong with hot dogs or buns or chips or nacho cheese sauce or cake or ice cream? Your daughter really can't eat this cake? She'd really rather have a squashed cupcake from your bag? Well, OK.

Please let me help since I'm here anyway. I feel weird enough as it is making chitchat with the grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins who want to know which child is mine. She isn't shy, is she, ma'am? She seems fine. She doesn't even check in with you, and frankly, ma'am, you seem a bit uncomfortable, so why are you staying again?

Because. It's not about me or you. It's about the safety of a child.



Friday, April 24, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

I love breakfast for dinner. It's easy and everyone likes it, especially when we've been under the weather. Again. We can't quit you, sinus/ear infections.

I mixed things up a bit the other night with a new waffle recipe. Krazy!

Glorious Morning Waffles from Bisquick Breakfast and Brunch

2 c. Bisquick
1/2 c. peeled, shredded apple
1/4 c. shredded carrot
1/4 c. walnuts (optional)
1 1/3 c. milk alternative
2 T. canola oil
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 egg

Heat waffle iron; grease if necessary.
Stir all ingredients until blended. Pour batter by slightly less than one cupfuls onto center of hot waffle iron.
Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops and waffle is golden brown. Carefully remove waffle.
Serve with maple syrup. And bacon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thank you!

A huge thank you to everyone who chimed in to support Cathy yesterday. Last night she wrote:

Thank you so much for your blog. I have gotten some valuable information out of it. Thank you so very much!!!


If you didn't get a chance to share yesterday or if you thought of something else, I'm sure Cathy and other people who are new to allergies would appreciate any additional thoughts.

I just love our online community, don't you?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Help Us, Internets!

Cathy wrote to me the other day about her six-year old son's newly-diagnosed food allergies. She is, understandably, overwhelmed and could use whatever advice you have to share:

I have always had an idea my son had a dairy allergy that manifested itself through chronic constipation. I nursed him for 10 months (I do not drink milk myself). He was a colicky baby though. Once I weaned him and put him on regular milk-based formula the constipation began. He started on whole milk at 12 months and holy cow! He has been on Miralax off and on since then. He ended up needing surgery for a hernia caused by the chronic constipation last August. My pediatrician assured me over and over again that its a boy thing (the constipation). She said with a true milk allergy the symptoms are usually diarrhea.

Fast forward to now: his seasonal allergies were out of control. We had him on so many medications I was very uncomfortable. My pediatrician FINALLY recommended allergy testing. We did the skin test on April 8, and sure enough his list of allergies was quite long. All outdoors basically (trees, grasses, weeds), dogs & cats, dust, mold, and a host of food allergies which include:
MILK, SOY, CITRUS, TOMATOES and CORN (all his foods scored a 3 on a level of 1-4 with 4 being the worst). He was also found to have a pretty bad sinus infection. The treatment plan so far is to fix the sinus problems with an antibiotic and a decongestant and nasal spray. He is on a 100% milk free diet. The allergist wants to see if his constipation improves once the milk is out of his diet. If not, then we will start eliminating the rest of the foods. The hardest is going to be soy and corn. We have already cut out tomatoes and citrus.

My son is almost 6 so obviously he knows he is missing out on stuff. I have been able to find yummy treats for him that are dairy free. What do you do about birthday cakes? Do you feed all your kids the same stuff or do your non-allergic children eat "regular" food? Where do you grocery shop? What about eating out? I just feel very lost and confused. I am reaching out to anyone who can guide me. When I got home from the doctor I was so overwhelmed. There was so much information I heard from the doctor that my head was literally spinning. I felt like for four years I had failed my son. I called his office the next day and asked where to begin shopping and the receptionist pulled his chart and laughed and said "Oh he can have jello I wait that has high fructose corn syrup"-- the nurse I spoke to later was kind and told me nothing he has will cause him life threatening injuries/illnesses and that I need to take a deep breath (I definitely did!).

Anyways, if you read all this ...thanks! I am just looking for some guidance.

I have already given Cathy a few suggestions. I have also told her NOT to listen to the nurse who said "nothing he has will cause him life threatening injuries/illnesses" because sadly we all know that isn't true. Her son's next appointment is in May, and she is compiling a list of questions for the doctor.

Now it's your turn! Please help this new allergy mama with whatever information and support you can share in the comments below. Thank you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Last Chance...

Photo courtesy of Pillsbury and Men's Heath. Scott is the bearded man next to the Doughboy. enter for Pillsbury's 44th Bake-Off contest is today.

Or, you could enter to win some free Turtle Mountain So Delicious Coconut Milk instead.

Look at these cute first aid kits made from recycled mint tins. Wouldn't they make perfect allergy medicine kits? They're too small for EpiPens, though....

Friday, April 17, 2009

One Book, Every Young Child

Oh, hello. How are you? Me? I'm hopped up on cold meds and trying not to think about the beautiful weather our sick family is missing while we schlump around inside.

The babies and I have been reading lots of books, including PA's One Book: Every Young Child 2009: If You Were a Penguin. It's a really cute story for little ones, with additional information about penguins in the back for older kids.

I like all of the books that have been chosen for this program, some of which I've mentioned before. The how-things-grow book from last year, Up, Down, and Around, is one we read a lot, although apparently I was too busy dealing with a newborn to write about it.

So, there are your reading recommendations for the day. I'm off to make some tea with honey and collapse on the couch.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wanting to be Home Free

Thursday was Katherine's school Easter Party. (And yes, around here it's still known as an Easter Party, not a Spring Party.) The mother in charge of the party called me weeks in advance to figure out what a safe snack would be for both K. and N., her peanut-allergic friend. N's mother and I gave the same suggestion of a common cookie dough found in both of our local stores. I hope K. and N. are in class together for many years to come!

At 9:30 pm the night before the party, the mother in charge called me. She had just heard from the mother who was supposed to bring the sweet treat. Apparently, this mother couldn't find the brand of cookie dough we recommended and was going to make homemade cookies instead. M., the mom in charge, called to apologize and to let me know in case I wanted to send something for K. other than her usual freezer cookie/cupcake. Very, very nice of the mother in charge, but a perfect illustration of how things can change at the last minute, no matter how far ahead you plan.

This was the same week I received three boxes of HomeFree cookies for our family to try: Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Soft Oatmeal, and Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are peanut free, egg free, tree nut free, and dairy free, and are labeled as such in very clear, very plain English right at the top of the box. (There is no wheat in the cookies, either, although the oatmeal package notes that oats can sometimes contain traces of wheat. There is soy lecithin in the chocolate chip cookies.) Most importantly, they are GOOD. The Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip cookies taste like Chips Ahoy, only better. (This is my review, of course. K. has never had a Chips Ahoy.) She just thinks they're great, especially the Chocolate Chocolate Chip. And the mini cookies are so much fun! That is something that's hard to reproduce in my own kitchen. There is just something about a wee little cookie that is perfect for tea parties and lunch boxes... or for a special treat at an Easter Party.

I wish HomeFree treats were in our local stores and in our schools. They're good, they're clearly labeled, and they're kid friendly. They are organic and are made in a dedicated bakery. The company was founded by Jill Robbins, who is a mother and a clinical psychologist. The company's slogan is "delicious treats that kids with food allergies can enjoy along with everyone else." That about sums it up.

The cookies are $5.49/box and can be ordered through HomeFree Treats' store. Food service-sized boxes of individually-wrapped cookies are also available. Images are courtesy of

Katherine chose to have one of her freezer treats at the party, and N.'s mom provided fruit kabobs for the healthy snack. During the party, one of the mothers offered K. one of the unsafe cookies, but she refused. But what if the mother hadn't called? I would have sent K. off to school telling her that the cookie was safe.

I realize that mothers want to provide beautiful homemade treats for their children, but in doing so at school, other children are being left out and are being put in a potentially dangerous situation. I wish more people would think about that and would consider providing a safe, store-bought treat like these great cookies.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Monday

I kind of forgot that there is no school today. So while I try to find fun things to do with my children, here are a few giveaway-type links.

The Crafty Crow is giving away a set of the Mama Merit Badges I've wanted for so long.

One Frugal Foodie is giving away TWO $25 gift certificates to Navan Foods.

Mommy Daisy has a new review website where she gives away DVDs and other family-friendly products. Eli loves the Bob the Builder DVD that was in his Easter Basket. The Easter Bunny loves that she got it for free.

I am TOTALLY hooked on Want Not. Thanks, Swistle!

Friday, April 10, 2009

He a Rose

When I was very young, I presented my mother with a drawing (she still has it) of what appeared to be a red flower standing up in a mud puddle. Not wanting to assume, Mom asked me to tell her about the picture.

Me: It's a rose. Like in the song.

Mom: The song?

Me: You know. Up from the Gravy, A Rose.

And this is why you don't want to sit near my family in church on Easter morning, unless you want to hear a lot of snickering.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Seasons of Meh

The snow on the ground is sucking my will to live. And yes, I KNOW. It snows here every dang April. The Easter Bunny had to hide the eggs in the house the past two Easters because of the snow. Every year at this time I find myself quoting Anne of Green Gables ("'Snow in April is abominable," said Anne. 'Like a slap in the face when you expected a kiss.'"). The other day my neighbor said, "Once the forsythia start blooming and it snows one more time, then it will really be Spring." And she's right; that's what always happens. It doesn't mean I have to LIKE IT.

Our kitchen table is temporarily covered with seedlings desperately stretching toward our teeny kitchen window. I have bags of asparagus and rhubarb roots waiting to be planted. The daffodils are dusted with snow. The robins wake us up in the morning tweeting, "What the...?" The coat closet is a jumble of snow gear, rain boots, umbrellas, and sweatshirts. Getting dressed in the morning is like some kind of lame Weather Roulette. What type of precipitation can we expect today? Will the temperature vary by 20 or 40 degrees? It's anybody's guess! Step right up and choose your outerwear!

Now that my sister lives in a southern state, she says that when Spring comes she doesn't feel as if she earns it, that it arrives too easily. This week we are still struggling to earn our Spring. And if it doesn't come in time, we'll make our own temporary one. We will dye rainbow-colored eggs and make dairy-free Easter chocolates and construction-paper bunnies. We will wear pastel sweaters on Easter Sunday and decorate the dining table with forced forsythia branches. We will celebrate Easter and know that Spring will come.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Spring Break

I'm taking a blogging break for a bit. Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

No Foolin'

What are you making for April Fool's dinner? I'm making these and these. (Dairy free, of course.) For extra fun, I sent Katherine to school with a sweet dairy-free cream cheese dip and graham crackers for her lunch. Dessert for lunch! Krazy.

Happy April Fool's Day!