Thursday, May 31, 2007

O' Henry Bars

O' Henry Bars

1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup dairy-free margarine
4 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup Karo syrup
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
2/3 cup chunky peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the margarine and sugar together. Add the oatmeal, syrup, and vanilla and mix. Pat into a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Cool completely. Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter together. Spread this mixture on top of the oatmeal layer and let cool. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Flu and Cemeteries

I do not recommend celebrating Memorial Day weekend with a bout of stomach flu sweeping through your family. Try to avoid doing that, if at all possible. Also, the stomach flu and blogging do not mix. Tell your friends.

I do recommend learning more about graveyard gardening as a possible summertime activity for all of you gardeners. There was an article in our local paper yesterday called, "Reconsidering Cemeteries as Public Gardens." The article says that "a movement is afoot to go beyond one day a year [Memorial Day] of decoration. As cities become more crowded, urban graveyards across America are reevaluated. Their potential as public gardens...cannot be denied.... Those who long to cultivate floral beauty but lack their own space or funds may find these public places an ideal opportunity to gather, plant and socialize in the process." The article also pointed out that cemeteries are full of rare, old rose and bulb varieties.

The New Hampshire Old Graveyard Association has information on improving conditions at your local historic cemetery. Another site to check out is Saving Graves. I've always been fascinated by old cemeteries, and this seems like a neat way to take care of them and do some fun gardening at the same time.

P.S. I'm in for June 4th's Monday Mission.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Bridal Shower Games?

I would like to jump on Swistle's bridal-themed bandwagon and ask, do you know any good bridal shower games? And by "good" I mean:
  • They do not draw an uncomfortable amount of attention to the bride
  • They are easy and low key
  • They are good for a wide age range of people
  • They do not involve toilet paper
Thank you in advance!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On Friendship

In honor of Food Allergy Week, I'd like to thank a few people.

Thank you to Katherine's classmates, who are careful with their milk and who like to bring in snacks that everyone in class can eat. As one of Katherine's friends told her mother, "I'm not having any treats for my birthday that Katherine can't have. That's not fair."

Thank you to the kids who attend children's church with Katherine, and who tell every new teacher, "Katherine can't have dairy. You can't give her those cheese crackers." (A special thank you to our minister's children. Their parents can't eat dairy, either, and those kids are some of the best label readers we know.)

Thank you to the parents who invite Katherine to parties and run out and buy soy ice cream and dairy-free cake mixes, even after I tell them that I'm happy to bring those items myself. One of my friends said to me, "I just don't think the mother should have to do extra work every time her daughter is invited to a party." (Of course I wouldn't mind, but I do so appreciate the thought.)

Thank you to our neighbors, who are so careful with Katherine, and to their children, who oh-so-patiently smile and nod at me as I ask them to wash their hands after eating dairy. "We know, Miss Sarah, because it makes Katherine sick."

Thanks to you all.

Friday, May 11, 2007

No-Stir Risotto

Surprise Mom with a fancy, and very easy, Mother's Day risotto.

Italian Sausage Risotto (adapted from a John Pisto recipe)

1-1.25 lbs. sweet Italian turkey sausage
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup carrot shreds
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef broth (sometimes I use dairy-free beef bouillon)
salt and pepper

Take the sausage out of the casings and brown it in a Dutch oven or large pot. Remove the sausage and set it aside. Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots in olive oil in the pot until tender. Add the sausage, arborio rice, wine, and beef broth to the pot. Stir together and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the rice is tender. No peeking! Salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Radio Station KFKD

I spent the better part of the week listening to Radio Station KFKD* because I was being considered for one of those "Power of Food" segments on the Food Network. I was passed up, which feels a bit like being one of the twelve Homecoming Court nominees and being escorted by a soccer player in front of the entire student body while, Mrs. Gilson, the health teacher and tennis coach, announces your name, who you are the daughter of, and what activities you're involved in. Then you sit onstage in a rickety folding chair while Mrs. G. belts out "Cow Patti" or some other obnoxious novelty song and you try to figure out how much to smile. Sure, it's uncomfortable, but you might end up being one of the half dozen Court members and get to wear a fugly sateen dress. Why you want this honor isn't exactly clear, you just do. Then you don't get chosen and, although you have a much better time at the dance then the Court members do, you still feel a little sad.

Yeah, it feels like that.

How about a drink?

Mint Sauce

1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
14 mint sprigs, crushed

Bring the sugar and water to a boil and cook for several minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice and mint and steep for five minutes. Strain out the mint leaves. Refrigerate and use a teaspoon or two in iced tea. Or in a mint julep. Or maybe a mojito? Let me know.

*"If you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo. Out of the right speaker in your inner ear will come the endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one's specialness, of how much more open and gifted and brilliant and knowing and misunderstood and humble one is. Out of the left speaker will be the rap songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn't do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything one touches turns to shit, that one doesn't do relationships well, that one is in every way a fraud, incapable of selfless love, that one has no talent or insight, and on and on and on." --Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Friday, May 04, 2007

Colic Solved?

There is an interview with Bryan Vartabedian, M.D., in the newest issue of Wondertime magazine where he talks about colic and his new book, Colic Solved.

He believes that colic is a "wastebasket term that's used when we can't explain what's going on inside a baby."

He says, "Initially, I started out to write a book that tells parents about gastroesophageal reflux and milk protein allergies. But it became evident that parents of kids who have GERD or milk protein allergy are very often perceived as having colic.

The 'solved' part of it discusses the changes that have occurred over the past 50 years since colic was first described. What was once a mysterious condition can, in many cases, be explained."

Vartabedian goes on to say, " my practice, between acid reflux disease and milk protein allergy, probably 60 percent of the kids I evaluate for inexplicable irritability are ultimately found to have one of those two problems."

Vartabedian makes sure to point out that not all babies diagnosed with colic have an allergy or GERD: "There are adults who are cranky at the end of the day, or are bothered by lights and sounds. But we don't give babies the same latitude. We expect them all to be, you know, placid, cherubic little creatures what just do exactly what we want them to do. Expectations are very important in this regard."

As someone whose child was diagnosed with colic and was later found to have a milk protein allergy, I found this article to be a very interesting read. It is a long interview, but I'd recommend reading it when you have a few minutes. I'd love to hear what other parents whose babies were diagnosed with colic think about his findings.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Thank you to The Goldfish and Lady Bracknell for allowing me to participate in Blogging Against Disablism Day. Thank you to Katherine's School District and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for classifying her as disabled so that I could participate.

Conversation I:
[Whispered]"Is she know?"
"I'm sorry?"
[Eye roll, head jerk directed at my daughter, whisper] "Is she still...allergic to dairy?"
[Normal tone] "Yep, Katherine is still allergic to dairy."
[Looking horrified at me for speaking so loudly with K. in the room] "Do they think she'll grow out of it?"
[Louder] "No one really knows."
[Head shake, whisper] "That must be so hard for you."

Conversation II:
"No, Katherine can't eat that baked good/cracker/ice cream/pizza. We brought some of these snacks for her instead."
[Sympathetic head tilt] "This must be so hard for you, Sarah. [Adult-speaking-to-child squat] Katherine, I'm so sorry you can't have these delicious foods. You are so good to eat what you brought."

I don't want Katherine to think that her food allergy is something that needs to be spoken about in whispers or is something for just Mama to worry about. Her allergy is a fact of life, and she needs to know how to manage it for those times when I cannot be there. Also, while I am proud of her five-year-old self and how well she handles being in situations where there is no safe food for her, I don't think she needs to be treated as if she's making some big sacrifice. She is learning not to eat foods that could kill her. That does not deserve pity; it deserves admiration, respect, and support. As for me, keeping my daughter safe and healthy is not a chore; it is a privilege. I'm so glad this smart, strong girl is ours to care for.

I don't quite know where the next year will take us, what we will do if Katherine's school refuses to let us keep her EpiPen and Benadryl in the classroom. I don't quite know how I feel about allergen-free lunchroom tables (Safety or segregation? Or both?). I want her to be safe, and I want her to experience everything at school. I hope those wishes aren't mutually exclusive.