Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Copycat

Thanks to Nicole for this meme.

Eggnog or Hot Chocolate? Hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? Santa leaves unwrapped gifts by the stockings in the living room. The rest of the gifts are wrapped and under the tree in the dining room.

Colored lights on a tree or white? How much time do you have? I like white lights. Scott likes colored blinking lights. So began the epic battle of our newlywed years. We alternated years. We tried white blinking and colored non-blinking. For several years I wound the tree with both white and colored lights. During this time, even my mother-in-law switched to white, non-blinking lights. Then the children were old enough to vote, and they chose colored. Scott would rather they blink, and I would rather they be red, white, and green only, which is my new favorite kind, but mostly we are too tired to care. At least they don't blink.

Do you hang mistletoe? No.

When do you put your decorations up? The first day of buck season, which is the Monday after Thanksgiving. We get the tree a couple weeks later.

What is your favorite holiday dish? All of the seafood dishes on Christmas Eve.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Chaotically. Almost ALL homemade ornaments with a few fragile, not-homemade ones at the top. And a lot of these sprinkled around.

Snow. Love it or hate it? I love snow. I would rather be cold than hot. I love walking in the snow. I even like to shovel. What I hatehatehate is bundling children in and out of snow gear all. winter. long. And of course I hate snow in April.

Can you ice skate? Nope.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Is 'cookies' too vague? What about 'all of the obscure, old-fashioned cookies the ladies in my neighborhood used to make'? You know, like these.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Everyone holding candles and singing "Silent Night" at the Christmas Eve service.

Candy Canes. Yum or yuck? I like them with chocolate. Dipped in chocolate, stirred in cocoa, on ice cream with chocolate sauce....

Favorite Christmas Show? It's a Wonderful Life.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Wellness Tree

Garden Mama (Nicole) started a Wellness Tree for Kelly, a blogger with stage-four breast cancer, a few weeks ago, and she asked her readers to consider sending an ornament to support Kelly. Nicole writes, "The Wellness Tree was planted as a seed of compassion and inspiration during this time of challenge in Kelly's life. We endeavor to share our love and support by nourishing this wellness tree by crafting ornaments and wishes of hope to sustain every moment that she experiences, moving with her in sisterhood forward into a future full of health and joy for her body and spirit as she continues on her life's path."

The ornaments quickly started pouring in, and they are beautiful: felted wool angels and crocheted gingerbread men and beeswax snowflakes and knitted garlands.

Then Garden Mama emailed me and asked me if I wanted to contribute something. And I did! I did! But I do not have mad crafting skillz. *sigh* So what did I do? Dudes, I sent in an ornament from an Oriental Trading ornament kit. Because I care enough to send the very best, and because I love the cheap gifts from China.

If you feel led to send an ornament for Kelly, too, please know that I have successfully lowered the bar for you so you shouldn't feel any crafty pressure. You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Some rambling and some Kenzoil

It's that time of year again. The time where one day it's December sixth and you're happily making Santa pancakes (with dairy-free coconut whipped cream) for your children and then life speeds up and becomes a blur of concerts, plays, dinners, lunches, neighborhood parties, church events, trips to the post office, and late night baking 'ideas': "How can I make Christmas cookies with what I have in the house? Maybe if I put crushed candy canes in these chocolate chip cookies...." (I did, too. I'm serving them to 20+ children and their mothers this morning. We'll see.) And suddenly you come to and it's December 24th and you're driving home in the dark from the Christmas Eve service to look at the luminaries your neighbor decorated the street with and to watch the children sprinkle reindeer food on the sparkling snow.

In the midst of all of this chaos, we're still trying out new dairy-free products. Because our commitment to taste-testing free samples stops for no holiday! One of the latest is Kenzoil, an oil blend of olive oil, fresh basil, fresh garlic, and spices. The company says, "Kenzoil is free of the following allergens: eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, shellfish, wheat, milk, corn, potato, rice and yeast. We only produce Kenzoil in our facility and on our equipment.... Kenzoil is a fresh product. It contains fresh herbs and no preservatives. Like most produce items, it will keep longer in the refrigerator. Kenzoil is good for 4 ½ months if kept in the fridge."

We tried it as a dipping sauce for bread. It tastes like really fresh liquid basil pesto. Everyone in our family enjoyed it, even the littlest ones, who often find pesto to be too strong tasting. Scott also tried it as a baked potato topping and liked that as well. I bet mixing it with mayo would make a fantastic sandwich spread, and I'm sure it would be good on pasta, salad, etc. I can see it being a versatile addition to the fridge door.

My only issue with Kenzoil is the name. I know, I know, it's Ken's oil. But it makes me think of Pennzoil, which? Not so appetizing. Ah well.

Kenzoil can be purchased online in 5 oz. and 10 oz. sizes. I think it would make a great stocking stuffer/hostess gift/gift basket addition.

I was not given an extra bottle for a giveaway, but Grace was! So head on over for a chance to win. Contest ends on Friday, December 18.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why I love living in a small town

When your child forgets her medication case at school, her teacher drops it off at your house on her way home.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Luna Bars: Same as they ever were. Except different.

Many, many moons ago, I eliminated dairy and wheat from my diet because of digestive problems. (T!M!I!) During that time, I became very dependent on Luna bars. Until I became pregnant and very dependent on Kit Kat bars. And Sonic chili cheese tater tots. The guy in the cubicle next to me at work's wife, who was pregnant, (got that?) believed pregnant women shouldn't eat chocolate because of the caffeine. He believed it, too. I kept the Kit Kats in my top drawer and ate a piece of one whenever he wasn't at his desk. Whereas today I proudly proclaim, "I eat chocolate when I'm pregnant and lots of it."

Anywho. Luna recently released bars with a new formula that includes Vitamin D. I tried them, and... they taste exactly as I remember them. (Flavorful, topped with chocolate or white chocolate, kind of like rice crisp bars but a little... grittier.) Which is a good thing. I don't think products need to be newing and improving all the time. Usually that just means they're adding dairy, which ticks me off. (I'm looking at you, Wyler's bouillon.) And Luna bars are the only nutritional bar I've ever liked, so I'm glad they didn't mess with their formula too much.

I tried:
Caramel Nut Brownie
Nutz Over Chocolate
White Chocolate Macadamia
Lemon Zest

Of course I liked the chocolate ones best. The white chocolate was fine; I am not always a white chocolate fan, but I liked it. The lemon zest was OK, but I've always much preferred their chocolate bars to their fruit bars.

Pack of 15 Luna bars available for @ $20 on Amazon.

This review written for Go Dairy Free.

Dairy-Free Christmas Baking Book

The other night I served cookies for dessert. My husband bit into one, paused, and said, "Is this for review?"

That should give you an idea of how many new foods and products we've been trying out lately. I want to hurry up and tell you about all of them so that you can give them as gifts or add them to your own wish lists! (The cookies weren't for review, but Scott did like them.)

Several weeks ago, I shamelessly requested a review copy of Kelly Rudnicki's cookbook, and she graciously provided a copy for me to review for Go Dairy Free. If you're looking for a cookbook gift, I can't recommend Kelly's The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book: Great Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Treats for the Whole Family highly enough. It is my favorite kind of cookbook: dairy-free (and egg- and nut-free), easy to follow with lots of great tips for food allergy parents, filled with beautiful photos of the food and her (four, soon to be five!) children, and calling for no obscure, hard to find ingredients. One photo in the book pictures the ingredients Kelly uses the most, and Scott said, "That looks like our fridge!"

The recipes are fantastic. Here's just a sampling:
Apple House Cinnamon Doughnuts
French Puff Muffins
Italian Fruited Jam Tart
Dairy-Free Classic Cheesecake
Key Lime Pie
Classic Yellow Birthday Cake
Chocolate-Soy Nut Butter Candies
Caramel Corn
Cranberry Bread
Whole-Wheat Waffles
Bakery-Style Bagels
Gingerbread Kids
No-Nut Russian Teacakes
Chewy Double Chocolate Cookies
Cutout Sugar Cookies

I'm currently obsessed with the Emerald Isle Coffee Cake, based on her mother's recipe. Mmm... cinnamon.... OK, forget it. You need to go buy a copy right nowfor all of your holiday baking. Trust me.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas around the world

When the kids were Mario and Luigi for Halloween, Scott ordered their hats on Ebay. That Ebay seller just sent him a festive email:

"Thank you for your support to us on ebay. We had a good deal experience with you in the past!

Now Christmas will come. If you have not prepared for Xmas presents, we hope you can come back and visit our ebay store again.

You know it is one good idea to get the cheap Xmas presents for Children from China.

But you know it is one long time to your country from China. So we suggest you can do one earlier plan to order Xmas items."

Oh yes, it is one good idea to get the cheap Christmas presents for children from China. I think I read that in the news.

A few weeks ago, we went to a German Christmas celebration in an old German settlement town. At the end of our evening we ran into Weihnachtsmann, (Christmas Man), the German Father Christmas. He was dressed in his traditional Father Christmas finery and spoke with a strong German accent. After greeting the little ones, he spoke to Katherine for several minutes. He taught her how to say Merry Christmas in German (Fröhliche Weihnachten!) and told her about the little girl who always helps him on Christmas Eve.
Then he said, "And how is your room?"
Katherine: *big eyes*
Father Christmas: "Have you cleaned it yet?"
Katherine: *shakes head 'no'*
Father Christmas: "Ah, yes. You know, I help Santa Claus, and he was asking about that. Shall I tell him you'll work on it?"
Katherine: *nods 'yes'*
Father Christmas: "Oh, good."

You rock, Weihnachtsmann. We'll think of you on Saint Nicholas Day.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Filled with holiday...something

I think I am almost recovered from our Thanksgiving. I can see the bottom of the laundry pile, anyway. The highlight of the day for me was getting a picture taken of our family with ALL of our children's grandparents, aunts, and uncles. *sniff*

I ran around with a very cute little girl in tow this morning while the two big kids were in school. And yes, that was me singing along to "Midnight Train to Georgia" in the store. I was just so happy not to be listening to "Same Old Lang Syne" (Shut it, Dan Fogelberg.) or "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer."

We made Christmas card photo prints (What score does our photo get, Swistle? It features all of us AND Mr. McFeely!), paid bills, went grocery shopping, and fixed the rear-view mirror on the van. Again. I made the mistake of buying Krazy Glue ("Bonds to glass! Plastic! Metal! Plywood! Drywall! Polyester! Skin! DO NOT USE FOR REAR-VIEW MIRRORS.") and then bought regular Super Glue, which didn't work, and ended up using the Super Glue gel we already owned. Maybe I should send someone a glue care package....

Boy, am I cheery. Here, go cry over Beck's much more appropriate Christmas post.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Coming up for air

Ohmygoshhowareyouguys? I've been catching up on your posts while decorating the house for Christmas with my three helpers since we have the first day of buck season off from school and also paying bills and ordering ornament kits and cooking leftovers although we are having black beans and rice for dinner tonight because, Beezus and Ramona, am I sick of turkey and all of its by-products especially because I took leftovers to my parents last night and came home with more food which is nice but NOT HELPFUL and I know you want to see pictures and hear how Thanksgiving went and all I can say is get in line behind my father-in-law who forgot his camera and is emailing me about photos as we speak and speaking of wanting to hear things I'm sure Kelly and several other people are wondering if I'm ever going to post reviews of their books and products, like, BEFORE Christmas, for the love of blog, and the answer to all of these questions is "Soon," which I imagine pleases you as an answer about as much as it pleases my children but it's the best I can do at the moment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dairy-Free Thanksgiving Menu 2009

Dairy-Free (and Semi-Wheat Free) Thanksgiving Menu
Made with lots of love and delegation

Two turkeys, deep-fried by Scott and Grandad
Gravy (substitute dairy-free margarine for the butter) made by Grandad
Gramma's stuffing, two batches, made with DF bread
Scott's mashed potatoes (made with soymilk and DF margarine)
Uncle Jarred's Sweet Potato Casserole (made with DF margarine)
Green beans
Gramma's Seven-Layer Salad (made with Sour Supreme and no cheese)
Scott's rolls and wheat-free bread
Cranberries: cranberry jelly and the awesome cranberry orange relish made by our grocery store
Applesauce (from the freezer)
Appetizers, made by Aunt Emily
Freezer pickles

Pumpkin Pie
DF/wheat-free Cherry Crisp made by Gramma

Wine (Lots.)
Decaf coffee
Sparkling Grape Juice

Monday, November 23, 2009

Winner, winner, vegan dinner

The winner of My Sweet Vegan is:

GardenMama! Comment number 11. Congratulations! Email me your info and we'll get a cookbook to you!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One Week

Till company arrives.

Kitchen progress:
trim painted
backsplash tiles done
curtains made (by my friend)
breakfast nook assembled (by my husband)
holes filled
walls washed

Today, I begin the primer.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sniffin' Fumes

Have I mentioned that we're hosting Thanksgiving again? With an all-time high attendance level of fifteen people and a dog? (Yes, and you, Kevin.) And that our house is...not big? And that some of my in-laws want to exchange Christmas gifts the day after Thanksgiving and some do not, but I figured I'd better have their gifts purchased and wrapped just in case?

Clearly this week is the appropriate time for me to start redoing our kitchen that I've hated for six years. Especially because it is parent/teacher conference week and we have half days of school Wednesday through Friday. I tiled the backsplash on Monday (with self-adhesive tile) and I could have stopped there. But yesterday I started painting the trim. As my OB/GYN said to my husband and sister after I ordered him to just BREAK MY WATER ALREADY, I'VE BEEN ON PITOCIN FOR TEN HOURS, "We are committed."

Now I am committed to getting this project done. Well, mostly. When my husband asked if I planned to sand and paint the cabinets before Thanksgiving, too, I said, "Oh no, that would be insane!" He just smiled. And maybe the entire enterprise is insane to someone who didn't grow up in a house where her parents wallpapered the bathroom on Thanksgiving morning. (Hi, Mom and Dad!) But come on, our kitchen is the size of your pantry or mudroom. I can do this, right?


Monday, November 09, 2009

And the Winners Are...

Numbers seven and forty-five, Beck and Yasharian! I have the screenshots of the numbers Random.org chose on my desktop, but I have NO IDEA how to post them. Please get me your info and Alisa will send you a bunch of vegan e-cookbooks!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Cereal and Elephants

My e-cookbook giveaway is here.

One Frugal Foodie's awesome cereal giveaway is here.

Enjoy Life Foods has a new blog.

The Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota emailed me about a Food Allergy Resource Fair going on this Saturday in Hopkins, Minnesota. I have been to their beautiful state exactly once to visit a friend one October. We went to the first U.S. performance of this musical that was written and introduced by these guys and I saw Garrison Keillor in the audience. It was fabulous. And freaking cold.

Tomorrow I am going to the circus with hundreds of second graders. I'll just have to think about Water for Elephants to amuse and distract myself on the long bus ride.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I bought a case of soymilk at Aldi today, as I often do. Ounce for ounce, Aldi soymilk is almost exactly half the price of Silk soymilk where I live. As I was leaving, an older gentleman stopped me to ask question after question after question about my case of soymilk. "What does it taste like? Why do you buy it? Is it good for you? I bet it's low in cholesterol and fat, right? You know, I had a neighbor in Texas who drank soymilk...." This exact same scenario happened the last time I bought a case of soymilk. Today I had an impatient toddler with me and was late for preschool pick up. And yet I COULD NOT not answer him, or just say, "Dude, it's wicked cheap. Go buy a quart and try it for yourself."

I had the same problem at second-grade orientation. I simultaneously resented being introduced as The Allergy Mom (my college friend D. suggests "Allergy B*tch on Wheels" as a more appropriate title) and being asked questions about ALL food allergies ("Are the pretzels I have at home processed in a plant with peanuts?") and yet could not SHUT MY TRAP when other parents were complaining about the new food allergy policies.

OBVIOUSLY, I don't mind talking about food allergy issues. I want our local stores to keep carrying dairy-free items, so the more people who buy them the better the chances of that happening. I want other parents to understand my daughter's situation. But I'd also like to go pick up a carton of soy yogurt and not have the lady in line behind me and the teenage checkout person play Twenty Questions with me about it.

I don't even know what my point is. Do you feel like the spokesperson for an issue? How do you handle it? Maybe I should start wearing a lapel pin:

I drink soymilk and you should, too! If you want! Or don't! Whatev! I gotta go.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Do you watch the Today Early Show?

I don't, and my neighbor told me that there was a dairy-free cooking segment on either yesterday morning or Monday morning. Did anyone see it? She couldn't remember the chef's name. I've been searching on NBC's site for about 10 minutes and have given up. That site is not organized at all, and if I have to sit through one more cooking segment clip with Kathy Lee Gifford bellowing things like: "VINO!", I'm going to be reaching for the vino.


EDIT: Marianne found it! On The EARLY Show! Thank you, Marianne! Oh, how I wish you were still blogging.... The recipes are for the lactose intolerant, but they all appear to be completely dairy free.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Odds and Ends

Christina has a birthday giveaway going on through Friday, October 30th. You could win two great cookbooks! (I own both these books and highly recommend them.) I won her last giveaway and am currently enjoying this cookbook and looking forward to this one arriving today! Thank you, Christina!

A friend of Alisa's designed this cool, circular, year-round poster calendar. Someone needs to get this for me my children for Christmas.

image courtesy of Earth Cycle Calendars

Scottish Twins and Marie each gave me a blog award. Thank you both!

Imagine my surprise when I found a Swistle gift package waiting on my porch the other day! Imagine my surprise when I found that my camera batteries were dead and I couldn't photograph it! But I'm sure you can imagine the richness: Shirts for Helen! Dishtowels! A Mother-in-Law Mug! Measuring spoons! Measuring cups! Lots and lots of paper goodies! A book! A pencil! Thank you, Swistle!
Edit: Swistle has a giveaway going on at her review blog right now.

Food Allergy Assistant found a recipe for homemade candy corn that she made dairy free.

And if you want some creepy Halloween reads, Beck is (fictionally) killing off beloved children's characters on her blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Corn Chowder

Katherine would take chicken noodle soup in her lunch every day if it were up to her. Here is our neighbor's attempt to add some variety. The notes are hers. I can't wait to try it.

Corn Chowder

4 cups water
2 packages of dry, dairy-free chicken noodle soup mix
1/2 C - quick cook rice (if you use regular rice, you have to cook it a lot longer)
1 Tbs - dried minced onion
4 cups of soymilk (you can use powdered soymilk)
1 can creamed corn
2 cups cut up, cooked chicken

Bring water to a boil. Add soup mix, rice & onion. Cook til noodles & rice are tender, about 20 min. Add milk, corn and chicken. Heat through stirring frequently but do not boil. This freezes well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Who receives a copy of Vegan Lunch Box Around the Worldto review and makes Beet Salad as her first recipe from the cookbook? That would be me. Because people want to know about the beet recipes! Or because you all have taught me to love beets, and this is the best pickled beet recipe I've tried. (The secret? Ground caraway seeds.)

Since then, I've used several of Jennifer McCann's fabulous international lunch ideas and have fallen utterly in love with her Boston Brown Bread Muffins. I am always especially interested in vegan baked goods, as adding meat to main dishes isn't an issue for us, but baking with dairy sure is. As Beck said when asked about lunch ideas, "...I generally just look at old Vegan Lunch Box posts for ideas, substituting 'pot roast' for 'tofu,' of course." Exactly.

My only complaint about Vegan Lunch Box Around the Worldis passages like this, "One of the biggest shocks I had when I first turned vegetarian was discovering where gelatin came from: the boiled bones, skins, and tendons of animals. Yuck!"

Yes, it's gross. Yes, authors are entitled to their own food choices and being able to write their books the way they want. But I think there are ways to put forth one's ideals without making some non-vegans *cough*my husband*cough* feel defensive and turning them off of a great book of recipes.

I've been a fan of Jennifer's blog for years. She inspired us to buy the Laptop Lunch system. Once I experienced her second cookbook in person, I used a little birthday cash to buy myself the first Vegan Lunch Box, too.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wicked Treats

Just in time for Halloween, the lovely Alisa sent me a copy of Hannah Kaminsky's newest e-cookbook, Wicked Treats. That young woman is a recipe-writing MACHINE, I tell ya. In it are recipes for:

Ghostly Vanilla Fudge
Jelly Bites
Peanut Butter Fingers
Rice Crackle Bars
Tootsie Chews

All of the recipes are vegan, and therefore dairy free. They are also gluten free, and Hannah includes directions to make them soy free.

I cannot wait to make homemade Tootsie Rolls Chews for a child who has never had one!

The e-book is available to download here for $3.

Edit: Peanut butter is in just one of the recipes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fat Talk Free Week

It's Tri Delta's Fat Talk Free Week again. Here's their video for this year. My post about last year's video can be found here.

I find this program to be so inspiring, both as an individual and a mother of girls.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Surf Sweets Gummy Treats

Fruit snacks have been my go-to food allergy emergency snack/dessert item for YEARS.

Gummy treats:
  • look like candy
  • come in cute, portable packages
  • have expiration dates that are months away
  • can ride around in the bottom of your purse or diaper bag for months and never become: stale, crumbled, squished
  • are dairy free
  • are recognized and accepted by your child's peers
  • do not carry the disappointment/stigma of Mom's Purse-Smashed Carob Flax Seed Bars
I know what you're going to say. "But, Blah blah blah cavities blah blah blah corn syrup blah blah blah fruits of the devil blah!"

Now we don't have to fight anymore because Surf Sweets just released a line of naturally sweetened, corn-syrup free gummy treats. And! They are gluten-free, dairy-free, allergy-friendly treats produced in a dedicated nut-free facility. I first heard of them from Kelsey, and when Alisa offered a chance to review them for Go Dairy Free, I shoved the other reviewers out of my way. Virtually speaking.

2.75 oz. package

We sampled:
Gummy Bears
Sour Berry Bears
Sour Worms
Jelly Beans

The Gummy Bears taste just like, well, gummy bears. The Sour Berry Bears and Sour Worms are not quite as sour as the usual Sour Patch Kid-type treat. Two of my children don't like sour candies and they liked these. The third child wished they were a bit more sour. Also, the sour candies have a firmer consistency, like those candy citrus slices your great-aunt always gave you when you visited her. The jelly beans are the consistency of regular jelly beans, with really fresh fruit flavors. They have several other new candies available, too. They are all vegetarian and some are vegan.

.9 oz. package

Gummy Bears: Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Gelatin, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate,Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (including Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Turmeric, Annatto),Natural Flavors, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax

Sour Berry Bears: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Malic Acid, Asorbic Acid, Colors Added (Black Carrot Juice Concentrate), Natural Flavors.

Sour Worms: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Citric Acid, Pectin, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Turmeric, Annatto), Natural Flavors.

Jelly Beans: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Grape Juice Concentrate, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Colors Added (including Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Turmeric, Annatto), Natural Flavors, Confectioner’s Glaze, Carnauba Wax, Organic Sunflower Oil.

The candies are all available in 2.75 oz. packages. Suggested retail is $1.99.
The Gummy and Sour Berry Bears are also available in .9 oz packages. Suggested retail is $.79.
Amazon has some good bulk deals here.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free. Images courtesy of Surf Sweets.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coffee Mug Cakies

Image courtesy of Gluten-Free Essentials

I am a sucker for gift baskets and gift sets, especially ones people put together themselves. This is one of the reasons I was happy to receive samples of Gluten-Free Essentials' Hug in a Mug cakes. Wee little gluten-free and dairy-free mug cakies!

The cakes come in two chocolate varieties and two spice cake varieties. Chocolate Craving and Spice of Life are sweetened with sugar, and Chocolate De Lite and Spice De Lite are sweetened with Fructevia. You add one egg and 2 T applesauce to the cake mix, mix well, and microwave it in the mug.

Our family preferred the sugar-sweetened varieties to the Fructevia ones, and Chocolate Craving was our favorite flavor. One cake is big enough for two to three people to share. The texture of the cakes is the texture of a low-fat cake. DO NOT think that you can fix this by replacing the applesauce with oil. Ahem.

I think these are cute for gift baskets, Halloween treats, stocking stuffers, or to mail to a GF/DF college student. They would also be handy to take to a family function if you're not sure what the desserts will be. "Aunt Carol, may I please borrow an egg and some applesauce?" But, they are $3.99 a piece! If I wanted to make a dairy-free mug cake at home, I would alter a recipe like this one, and if I wanted to make a gluten-free mug cake at home, I would try this recipe.

Chocolate Craving: Sorghum flour, rice flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, guar gum, corn starch, baking powder, salt.

Spice of Life: Sorghum flour, rice flour, sugar, baking soda, guar gum, corn starch, baking powder, salt, spices.

Chocolate De Lite: Sorghum flour, rice flour, Fructevia, cocoa, baking soda, guar gum, corn starch, baking powder, salt.

Spice De Lite: Sorghum flour, rice flour, Fructevia, baking soda, guar gum, corn starch, baking powder, salt, spices.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day

It's Columbus Day! I forgot about having all of the children home today! We're going to celebrate Katherine's day off by making Banana Brownies from her Nintendo DS cooking game. I am also going to make a half batch of Relish, Sauce, and Chutney--All in One Day from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. We used those sauces so much last winter.

Two of my oats-based recipes were featured in Go Dairy Free's Sweet Sundays column yesterday.

One Frugal Foodie is hosting a huge Dairy Free Market gift basket giveaway!

I received an email from Oliver's Labels concerning my review and your comments about their allergy labels. Debbie writes, "We read all the valuable feedback and comments and it prompted us to launch our newest design - a bright red 'food allergies' icon. It's perfect for kids with multiple allergies and it's an attention-grabbing stop sign shape.
As always, feel free to use the 10% off coupon when shopping on www.oliverslabels.com!" [SAFETYFIRST]

I am very glad that Oliver's Labels listened to the concerns of food allergy parents. However. I think that having the icon say "food allergies" and not list specific allergies is too general. And, I still think it's not as noticeable as an entirely red label. What do you think?

Just added: GardenMama has a giveaway going on right now, too!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


  • My college roommate had her first baby yesterday! She and her husband named their daughter Cecelia, which I LOVE. Everyone is fine.
  • Helen is sick and just licked my face, so you can see where that's going to go.
  • Scott and I played matchmaker for two of our friends last night and are now, you know, wondering when we'll be invited to the wedding and mentioned in the toast.
  • Courtney Cox-Arquette is now on my poo list. Life is so hard for celebrities. (Thanks to Janeen for the link.)
  • It's time to dig out the winter gear and figure out what fits which kid and what we need to buy. *sigh*
  • Have you signed your preschooler(s) up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library? I just did, and you should, too. FREE BOOKS for children through age 5! One free book a month! The program is available in the US, Canada, and the UK. [Edit: If it's not yet available in your area, suggest it to your local United Way or other organization.]

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Odds and Ends

Five more videos have been posted in the Children's Hospital series, "A Cure for Food Allergies?," including an interview with Ming Tsai. After Kelly Rudnicki posted this interview with Ming, I apologized on Facebook for saying I always thought he was a bit of a tool. Might as well do it in front of the whole world. Sorry, Ming. You're doing great work for food allergies.

Speaking of Kelly, her cookbook is out! I think she should let someone review it for Go Dairy Free, don't you? *cough*

I had a wonderful birthday, complete with a huge birthday cookie, sparkly earrings from the kids, and two new books! Perfect.

Oh! Also, I indexed all of my recipes. So you can, like, find them. See the sidebar.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I can't believe I have to review products on my BIRTHDAY

Actually, I don't have to. But it's a nasty, cold, rainy birthday, so let's see how productive I can be, hmm?

In light of all of the shiny new review blogs popping up everywhere, I feel the need to re-explain how things work here. The reviews I write are usually for Go Dairy Free, I just cross-post them here. Occasionally, a company contacts me on their own. I get a sample of the dairy-free/food allergy-related food/product/whatever. I try it. I write honestly about it. I do not get paid by the companies or by Go Dairy Free. But even if I did, I'd write honest reviews. It's just a good way for us all to find out about new (often expensive) dairy-free and/or food allergy products. Aaand, done.

Recently I received a package of ND Labs' Meatless Burger Bits, or, as my kids call it, "Fake Meat." We used them in Peg Bracken's Green Pepper Stew. The texture and taste were very similar to ground beef, and we agreed that the texture is even more beef-like than their other meatless ground beef product. The Meatless Burger Bits are the closest-to-ground-beef meatless product we've tried. If it were up to us, though, we'd probably go with ground turkey or ground chicken or ground venison if we didn't want beef.

Yeah. Go here for a clear image.

So here's my question: if you are allergic to beef or a vegetarian or vegan, do you LIKE eating foods that taste like meat, or would you rather avoid meat--real or fake--all together? I had a grad school professor who was so excited about her Thanksgiving Tofurky, and I remember thinking, "What's the point?" If I didn't eat meat, I think I'd avoid meat-like substances. But I DO eat meat, so what do I know? Thoughts?

Ingredients: Beef flavored vegetable crumbles (soy protein concentrate, wheat gluten, malt color, and wheat starch). Spice blend: hydrolyzed corn and yeast protein, hydrolyzed wheat gluten, maltodextrin, malt extract, hydrolyzed soy protein, dextrose, yeast extract, onion, chili and garlic powders, torula yeast, malic acid, disodium inosiante, disodium guanylate, natural flavors*.

*The natural flavors thing worried me a bit, but they have allergen information on their website that says these are free of dairy.

Meatless Burger Bits are available on ND Labs' website.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


It's fall! I'm home with two sick children! I'm Googling H1N1 signs and symptoms! And I'm cooking a lot to keep ahead of produce rottage. Money in the bank!

This week I've made applesauce and roasted green beans and mashed cauliflower and plum cake and pesto and a teeny tiny batch of salsa verde. Today I'm going to make Beck's Easy Cabbage Roll Casserole, but I'm going to make it with peppers instead of cabbage so I don't have to go to the store and venison instead of beef because we have a ton of it in the freezer. (Thanks, Scott's hunter friend!) And I want to make a sweet potato dessert but not sweet potato pie because I think pie crust is beyond me today. And really soon I'm going to make this because it is now a staple in our house.

What are you doing?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Milkless Milk Chocolate

Oh, yeah.

After some trial and error, we have found our dairy-free milk chocolate bar: Premium Chocolatier's Milkless Milk Chocolate. It has the mild flavor of milk chocolate, the creamy texture, and the meltability. And the chocolate is made in a dedicated dairy- AND nut-free facility. We are sold.

S'mores tested...

...kid approved. And adult approved.

I can't wait to try more of Premium Chocolatier's dairy-free chocolates. Like, NOW.


Roasted Cocoa Nibs, Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Soy Powder [Tofu, (Water, Soy Solids, Calcium Sulfate), Maltodextrin (From Corn), Modified Food Starch, Sunflower Oil, Calcium Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Tricalcium Phosphate), Natural Flavors (No MSG, No Dairy), Sea Salt, Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum, Anatase, Titanium Dioxide (A Mineral for color), Vegetable Mono and Diglycerides, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E], Vanillin, Soy Lecithin Granules

Milkless Milk Chocolate bars are $12/six pack from Premium Chocolatiers.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Scene from a September Morning

Children, waiting for friends to walk to school: Someone's here! Someone's here!
Mother, yelling from kitchen: All right, I'll be right out and we'll leave.
Children: Someone's here! Someone's at the door!
Irritated Mother: All RIGHT. I said I'm on my way.
Children: He's here! He's here!
Really Irritated Mother: WHO is WHERE?
Oldest Child: Mr. Young Ponytailed First Grade Teacher is here!
Mother: WHAT? [runs into trashed living room toward screen door]
Mr. Young Ponytailed First Grade Teacher: Your stroller was rolling toward the street. I thought there was a baby in it.
Flustered Mother: Oh, Good Lord, no. There's no baby in it.
Mr. Young Ponytailed First Grade Teacher: Well, it was on its way out to the road. I just wanted to stop and let you know.
Still Flustered Mother Who Can't Stop Talking: Well, that's what happens when you trash-pick your jogging stroller--you get one with no brakes!
Mr. Young Ponytailed First Grade Teacher: .... Yeah, well.... [backs away]
Flustered and Embarrassed Mother: Thank you!

Shoot me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kale Chips

This recipe was in our local paper a couple weeks ago. We've made it twice, and Katherine loves it. The other kids? Not so much. Scott and I think it tastes like dried seaweed. In the best possible way.

Kale Chips

1 T. apple cider vinegar
3 T. olive oil
2 bunches of kale, washed, with stems removed

Cut kale into 2 to 3-inch pieces. Mix vinegar, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Add the kale and mix by hand. Place in a single layer on baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for twenty minutes or until the kale is crispy. Cool and eat. (Scott and I crumble them up on top of rice.)

*The original recipe calls for 1-2 tablespoons of Celtic sea salt, which I do not own. I started with 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and they were WAY too salty--even for me. I would recommend starting with 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt and then seeing what you think. You can always add more salt when they're done cooking.

Monday, September 14, 2009


The new birthday lunchbox and thermos are a hit. Katherine has had soup for lunch every day so far. Her favorite kind is homemade chicken and stars, but we're going to need to branch out. What is your family's favorite soup recipe?

Homemade Chicken and Stars Soup from Comfort Foodsby Rachael Ray
(This cookbook is also the source of PicklesandDimes' favorite Chicken and Dumplings--back before Rachael started calling everything "stoup." *shudder*)

2 quarts chicken broth (sometimes I use dairy-free bouillon)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or leftover chicken)
1 bay leaf
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup pastina pasta
ground pepper to taste (I use white pepper so the kids can't see it.)

Heat 1 quart broth to boiling, add chicken and bay leaf to pot and simmer, covered, for 8 minutes. Add vegetables to pot when you finish chopping each of them. Remove chicken after 8 minutes and place on cutting board to cool. (If using cooked chicken, I add it at the end.)

Add the second quart of broth to your pot and bring liquid to a boil. Add pasta and cook 6 minutes. Remove soup pot from heat. Dice chicken and add to soup. Season soup with pepper to taste. If soup is too thick, add up to 2 cups of water to achieve desired consistency.

This soup has converted several children to celery and/or carrot and/or onion eating. I'm just saying.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hallowed Ground

Last year I wrote about my September 11th experience. This year I'd like to share Dave Barry's column about Flight 93, written in 2002. Yes, he usually writes a humor column, but his serious pieces are some of the best I've read.

On Hallowed Ground

We remember.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tears of Joy

So it's Thursday of the first week of school, and things are going well. Katherine is off to a great start, and she hasn't heard any other children complain about the new food allergy policies. Eli came bounding out of preschool on Tuesday announcing, "I have a good day at school!" And he didn't shed any tears on day two of preschool (today). Helen is adjusting to being alone with Mama.

Mama, on the other hand, has been weeping at the drop of a hat. Or the turn of a page, as it were. Oh hai. Has you met Gina Clowes' book, One Of The Gang: Nurturing the Souls of Children with Food Allergies? Well, buckle up, Buttercup, and grab your Kleenex. Remember when we were all talking about what a good children's book about allergies would look like? It's here, and its name is One of the Gang.

Do you know the Mister Rogers First Experiences series of books on divorce, when a pet dies, potty training, etc.? I love these books and have used them for many a parenting milestone. They have a calm, confidence-building tone, and they show photographs of real children going through the situation being discussed. (Yes, Amazon reviewers, some of the nice people in the photos are wearing dated clothing from the 80s. Listen to me: kids don't care. Never once has my child said, "Wow, I could really relate to these people if only they weren't wearing blouses with big bows at the neck and tinted eyeglasses with initial stickers on them.") One of the Gang has the same gentle, empowering tone as these books, if not the retro fashion sense. I think Family Communications should publish it.

One Of The Gang starts with a brief discussion of how children are different from one another, then moves into a specific discussion of food allergies and the struggles and emotions that go along with them. The book is addressed to children with allergies, but I think other children could learn from it, too. Then--genius. Gina writes that food allergies won't stop you from being what you want to be, and she includes photos of famous people who have food allergies, such as Jerome Bettis and Dr. Robert Wood. She ends by writing, "You are here for a very special purpose! I wonder what it is."

*Cue Parental Crying*

Here is what I think is most important about this book. More than any other allergy book we have read, this book prompted discussions about the emotions that go along with being a child with a food allergy. Katherine talked a lot about the page that says, "You might wish that you didn't have food allergies and that you could eat whatever you wanted." Her favorite photo is one of happy children eating ice pops, with the caption, "When other grown-ups bring treats that are safe for you, it's terrific!"

I am so grateful for this book. Thank you, Gina.

One Of The Gang: Nurturing the Souls of Children with Food Allergiesis available on Amazon for $15.29.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In which I am THAT mother

I am a little twitchy this morning. K's school enacted a new peanut-free policy, and decided to inform parents of it two work days before school. So people are not happy, and I am hoping that none of the anti-allergy sentiment affects my daughter. Parents have been so understanding and supportive till now, but a school-wide policy that affects their children directly is making them very upset.

The other part is that some parents have made comments about K's allergy not being life-threatening (which it is) since milk isn't banned. I hope people don't take her allergy less seriously because some foods are banned and some are not. (Children who bring snacks with dairy will sit at a separate table in her classroom, and she will have an assigned seat in the cafeteria.) It's so hard to explain.

Also, we dropped E. off at preschool today, which he was not thrilled about. At all. His teacher was so wonderful and understanding that I started crying. In his classroom. I had to go into the teeny tiny bathroom and collect myself.

Other Mother: "Oh, is he your last child?"
Uh, nope.
Another Mother: "This is a wonderful program."
I know that. Tell him that.
We left him forlornly laying his head on the toy tool bench.

All of this stress is coming out in my dreams. Last night I dreamed that I was a student teacher in K's classroom. Several children were teasing her, so when I graded their math papers, I wrote, "I HATE YOU," on them. When I came home that evening, I told Scott, "I don't think I'm cut out for teaching." To which he replied, "You think?"

Friday, September 04, 2009

Playing Catch Up

All right, I admit it! School orientation/open house week took me down. Of course it didn't help that my dad and I did a home improvement project this week, too. Swistle keeps inspiring me. We enclosed this weird screened-in (OK, semi screened-in) porch that is built onto the back of our garage. You can't get to it from the house, so we never used it. Also, we needed a place to store all of our summer furniture, outdoor toys, lawn equipment, etc. Behold! Now we have a shed and we will be able to comfortably park in the garage come winter, without having to squeeze by the lawnmower and leaf blower and wicker furniture and whathaveyou. I just need to paint the plywood so it doesn't look like we're preparing for a hurricane.

I need your help while I'm playing catch up on product reviews, etc. Meghan wrote to me recently, saying:

"hi sarah--

i just found your e-mail through your blog (no whey mama). my name is meghan mcdermott and i have 2 children: sarah age 3 and matthew age 1. we found out a few months ago that matthew is allergic to milk and i think i may have narrowed it down to products containing whey. now that we're trying to introduce him to table foods, i find it very hard to find kid friendly choices that do not contain whey. my daughter is a very very (did i mention very) picky eater. her favorites are chicken nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, along with grilled cheese and drinkable yogurts. matthew can not eat any of these (except for jelly sandwiches which he loves :). so...i find myself at a loss as to what to give him. he is still eating baby foods and cereals ..and at 26 lbs, he is a hearty eater! if you could please give me any suggestions for brands and types of foods your daughter had enjoyed starting at an early age, i would greatly appreciate the help."

Off the top of my head:
So Delicious coconut yogurt
Some chicken nuggets are dairy free (Schwan's, Tyson--check the label)
apple butter
Roman Meal bread
cooked chicken breasts
grilled peanut butter sandwiches
Fake Rice-a-Roni
homemade soups (like chicken and stars)

Cookbook recommendations:
Go Dairy Free

Vegan Lunch Box

First Meals

Vegan Lunch Box Around the World
(Which I will be reviewing here very soon.)

I know there's more, but I need to take the kids shoe shopping. (Kill me.) What do you suggest?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Super M@rio Party

The Super M@rio Br0s. Party was a success. Due to rainy, wet weather, it was much more subdued than past parties. The kids watched a movie while eating dairy-free popcorn and drinking water from their party favors: M@rio sports bottles. (I wanted to get favors they might actually use again.)

Then we ate dairy-free cake, opened gifts, and did some coloring pages and games I found online. I love you, Internets.

The long, painful, birthday pet search is finally at an end. It turns out that K. is mildly allergic to dogs, and so we didn't want to introduce yet another allergen into her environment. That being the case, I'd like you to meet:

Kevin the parakeet!

Kevin is named for the bird in UP, which is a movie you and your family should see if you haven't already. We don't know for sure if Kevin is a boy or a girl.


But we figure we're covered, since the Kevin in the movie turns out to be female.

Time to work on more back-to-school stuff. I'll be posting some new product reviews this week in time for the start of school next week!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Allergy PR

A lot of allergy information is being sent out to allergy bloggers right now. Must be back-to-school time.
  • Linda Coss's article, "Attack of the Peanut Butter Sandwiches," is still available at her site. It's a helpful resource for schools.
  • Children's Hospital Boston just posted the first in a series of videos about their first patient who is going through a milk desensitization study.
  • Simens Healthcare Diagnostics and Disney have written a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse book about environmental allergies. A free digital copy is available. The press release states that the book was introduced to clinical laboratory and physician communities at this year’s American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Meeting. The email I received also shared some of the results of a recent survey. "Allergy testing methods available for children include blood tests, skin patch tests, skin injection and the skin prick/scratch test. The survey indicated that while most U.S. moms (75 percent) know of the skin prick/scratch test, only a half or a third of mothers are familiar with the other options.
    Other important survey findings include:
    1) An average of 1 in 3 mothers reported that they do not know how accurate the various allergy test results are.
    2) The top three sources mothers said they would consult for information about childhood allergies and allergy testing are: A physician or other health professional (98 percent), health/medical web sites (73 percent), and allergy organizations (39 percent).
    3) Overall, the surveyed mothers gave online interactive Websites (42 percent) and books (35 percent) the highest marks as “very helpful” to teach their child about allergies." More information is available on their site, of course.
  • Gina Clowes and Enjoy Life foods share some food allergy back-to-school tips.
Whew! Speaking of back to school, I need to go fill out 3,210,698 school forms before all of our orientations and open houses this week.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Change diaper.
Turn on PBS.
Make coffee.
Make breakfast.
Explain concept of birthstones.
Feed children.
Say goodbye to husband.
Get dressed in preparation for 8-10 am cable guy timeslot.
Dress children.
Listen to fascinating Webkinz facts.
Take youngest child off of top of living room cabinet.
Change diaper of and redress youngest child.
Start laundry.
Explain why you cannot invite yourself to someone's house for a playdate.
Even someone with a cool Spiderman shooter.
Drink coffee.
Do dishes.
Make list for grocery store.
Stress about what activities you can create for eldest child's Mario Bros. birthday party.
Wonder where cable guy is.
Wonder if giant mulch pile counts as fun birthday party activity.
Look at clock: 8:40 am.
Change diaper.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And all I got was this stupid recipe

You didn't think I forgot your souvenir from my vacation, did you?

My aunt made this appetizer/side dish twice the week we were there because we all loved it so much. She got the recipe from a friend.

Texas Caviar

Prepare at least 12-18 hours before serving.

1 can each of:
shoe peg corn (or frozen or leftover fresh, cooked corn)
black beans
black eyed peas

1 cup chopped celery
1 small jar chopped pimentos
chopped jalapenos to taste*

Heat together until the sugar is melted:
1 scant cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinate overnight. Serve with tortilla chips. (The scoop-shaped ones work really well.)

*The original recipe says to use a small can of jalapenos, plus red pepper flakes if desired. Since there were children eating with us, my aunt used about 1/3 of a can of jalapenos plus some seeded, chopped chipotle peppers. She served the additional jalapenos and chipotles on the side for those who wanted more heat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And the Regular Pediatrician said...

At the end of H's checkup yesterday, I pulled out the inhaler that Substitute Pediatrician gave Katherine and showed it to Regular Pediatrician. He looked at it, looked at K's files, and then proceeded to pull up a list of every medication containing dairy. (It's a looong list.) He read them off to me, made note of them in K's file, then refilled her prescription for her original, dairy-free inhaler.
Then he looked at me and said, "This is going to be a good day."
Me: "?"
Regular Pediatrician: "I didn't know dairy was in this particular inhaler. I learned something new today, so I know it's going to be a good day."
Me: "!"
Regular Pediatrician: "I have several other patients with milk protein allergies, but they're babies and aren't old enough for these medications yet. I wasn't aware that all of these medications contain milk protein. [Holds out his hand for me to shake.] You helped people today."
Me: "OK...."

He did not:
  • Speak disparagingly of his colleague
  • Defend his colleague
  • Act as if he knew something he didn't
  • Act defensive
  • Tell me the medication would be fine for her
  • Dismiss my concerns
Yay, Regular Pediatrician!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Dear Substitute Pediatrician

Thank you for filling in for our regular pediatrician. I'm sure it was a busy day. Your nurse mentioned K's environmental and dairy allergies right away, so I know they are clearly marked in her file.

And yet.

It wasn't till we got home and I was looking for the instructions for the inhaler you gave* K. for her cough that I saw this on the box:

"The ASMANEX TWISTHALER 220 mcg product is a cap-activated inhalation-driven multi-dose dry powder inhaler containing mometasone furoate and anhydrous lactose (which contains milk proteins)."

Needless to say, I'll be talking to our regular pediatrician today.

I have no words, except to quote Governor Menelaus "Pass the biscuits, Pappy" O'Daniel, "Weeping Jesus on the cross!"

*Attention Health Care Providers: Patients really, really hate it when you question the decision of another doctor in your own practice, ie., "Huh. I wonder why he prescribed that inhaler. This one will work MUCH better." Etc. Perhaps he prescribed it because it WON'T KILL THE PATIENT, eh?

Friday, August 21, 2009


It's hard to get back into the routine after vacation, isn't it? But you all have been very inspiring with your
For the past two days, I've been digging a trench and planting forsythia bushes for privacy and to keep the kids away from our neighbor's new slice-your-fingers-open, old-school, chain-link fence.

Hopefully that row of tiny plants will look like this hedge in three years:

Now I suppose I should do something more sensible, like dishes or laundry.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Miso Hungry

We had some wonderful eating adventures on vacation ($3.99/lb lobstah, baby!) Besides hitting most of our usual stops, we tried a new Japanese restaurant in Concord. While they do use butter on the hibachis (Who knew?), they cleaned our hibachi before cooking on it and used only oil for our entire party. I don't know what they would do if you had to share a grill with another family or if you have a seafood allergy and someone else at your table wants shrimp, but they were very accommodating about K's allergy, so I imagine they would work something out.

I did notify the server. And the bus boy, and the chef....
Those are the children's menu hibachi prices, BTW.

The kids loved watching the chef and they loved the food, especially the miso soup. Of course now I want to order some miso online to make some at home, but I know nothing about it. White miso? Red miso? What?

On our way home, we stopped at a Burger King in the Bloomsburg, PA area. I asked for our usual dairy-free substitution at the drive-through window. There was a pause, then, "Sure! Anything else?" And they got the order right, too. So some BKs understand. It shouldn't be that hard to be that accommodating in every chain, right?

One final note: if you're new to eating lobster, let your mom take off the shell before you eat it. It tastes much better that way.

See the bite out of the claw? My little Daryl Hannah. (Except he's a boy.)