Monday, March 30, 2009


Oh, Aldi. How I love your low prices, your cheap soymilk, and your unique dairy-free snack items. And how I hate it when I see one of our favorite foods in new packaging. "New and improved! Now with dairy!" Dang it. Farewell, Pork Schnitzel. We barely knew ye. Pass the peanut puffs.

Oh, March. How I love your winds and rains and buds. Many people think February is the longest month, but you win the prize. I hate how you are going out like a lion with SNOW.

Pass the peanut puffs.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What is WRONG with people?

Dude. Food allergies CANNOT be cured with an over-the-counter medication. Treatments should ONLY be done under a doctor's supervision, if at all.

Somebody needs to pull this crap from the shelves, like, yesterday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


  • We are enjoying our Erin Baker's treats--especially the breakfast cookies. Katherine takes a small breakfast cookie for her morning school snack every day and likes all of the varieties. I'm sure she also enjoys taking prepackaged snacks for a change, instead of the usual apple or baggie of pretzels.
  • Every time the older kids and/or I put on our shoes and coats, Helen runs over to the closet and grabs her coat. She then stands there, looking at us expectantly. It's heartbreaking, especially when I'm leaving without her.
  • Rational Jenn gave me a Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks, Jenn!
  • Have you noticed any companies suddenly charging you more? Our cable bill has gone up, but at least they sent a letter about it. Some companies are just suddenly charging more fees without announcing them. This is extra frustrating when we pay them by automatic withdrawl. (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, VONAGE! VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!)
  • So, anybody tried MagicJack? How's that working out for ya?
  • "Eli, I need to wipe your nose." "NOO! Don't wipe mine nose!!!" "Would you like to wipe it?" "*sigh* No, you wipe it and I'll cry." OK, then.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Indian Cookbook Reviews

We love Indian cooking, both traditional and more Americanized. Obviously. Anyway,
we were excited to try two new Indian cookbooks.

Flavors of India is a traditional Indian cookbook with somewhat involved recipes. Yet the author, Shanta Rimbark Sacharoff, also includes simpler variations. For example, after her samosa recipe, she includes directions for putting the samosa filling (potatoes, peas, onions, spices) into a pie crust instead of making the labor-intensive, individual, fried samosas. Of course we had to try her Samosa Pie, and it was delicious. All the flavors of this favorite Indian street food in a hearty pie. She suggests serving wedges of it as an appetizer, but we served it as a main course. And the five of us polished it off in one dinner. Ahem. Throughout the cookbook, Sacharoff provides traditional Indian recipes and simpler variations, which is what I really like about this book.

Indian Vegetarian Cooking, by Sunetra Humbad and Amy Schafer Boger, M.D., is a good "starter" Indian cookbook because most of the recipes fill just one page. As many Indian cookbooks have very long, involved directions, I think this book's layout is less intimidating and easier to follow than most. It also has a few recipes I've never seen in other Indian cookbooks, such as Corn Chapati. Chapati are Indian flatbreads traditionally made with wheat flour. It was fun to try a corn variation for a change. The breads reminded me of Southern corn cakes, with a slightly more bitter flavor.

Flavors of India and Indian Vegetarian Cooking at Your House are published by Book Publishing Company.

These reviews were written for Go Dairy Free.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Angel Food Review

We picked up our allergen-free Angel Food Ministries box on Saturday. Usually people bring their own boxes and file through a line to pick up their foods one by one. The allergen-free foods are prepackaged and, in our pickup center, are kept on a separate table away from the other foods.

Here is the 5 lb. box of allergen-free meats. The label says that the meats are produced by Allergy Free Foods.

Ta da!

The five one-pound bags of uncooked, prebrowned meat:
Country fried chicken wings
Country fried beef steak
Boneless country fried chicken breasts with rib meat
Country fried chicken breast nuggets with rib meat
Country fried chicken tenderloins

Uncooked chicken tenderloins

Chicken nuggets label

All of the meats are battered with:
water, white rice, brown rice, modified tapioca starch, flax seed, sugar, salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, spice extractives and oleoresin paprika
and breaded with:
white rice, brown rice, modified tapioca starch, flax seed, sugar, dextrose, salt, spices, dehydrated garlic, spice extractives and oleoresin paprika. The breading is prebrowned in canola oil.

Cooked chicken nuggets with Catherine Newman's Black Bean Dip on the side

So far, we have tried the chicken nuggets and the chicken breasts and enjoyed them both. The nuggets are white meat and not gristly at all. The chicken breasts are whole breasts, not processed patties.

Price breakdown

This 5 lb. box of food was $25. Each 1 lb. bag would feed our family of two adults and three small children for one meal. Or, I could get two to three lunches for three children out of each bag. Obviously, you get more for your money with the $30 regular box of food, which I would do if we didn't have an allergy to worry about. But from reviews I've read, it sounds as if the meat in the allergen-free box is of better quality than the regular meat. The breading ingredients are of good quality. And if you order these products directly from Allergy Free Foods' website, they cost $10/lb. before shipping.

We plan to order Angel Food's allergen-free box again. Those of you who live in larger cities may be able to find better deals by shopping around, but for those of us in rural areas without many allergen-free shopping options, I think this is a good deal.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring Has Sprung...

...and it was snowing this morning. But we're not going to think about that! We're going to think about chocolate!

Chocolate Mousse, adapted from Alton Brown's Moo-Less Chocolate Pie recipe
  • 2 cups dairy-free, semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup coffee
  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Heat water to simmering in the bottom of a double boiler. Melt the chocolate and coffee in the double boiler top. Stir in the vanilla.

Combine the tofu, chocolate mixture, and honey in a blender. Liquefy until smooth.

Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the mousse is set.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BabyCenter: Home of Cutting-Edge Journalism

I still get BabyCenter newsletters for Eli and Helen. Sometimes I open them, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I wish I hadn't opened one.

Did you know that having a child with food allergies can be hard on the budget? And that families with an allergic child are less likely to travel to remote places where little or no medical care is available? So that's what's holding up our trip to India! Good thing BabyCenter provides some helpful tips! Here's a "What you can do" link (last updated June 2006) that leads to...learning about food allergies by age.

I bet you didn't know that the labeling of food allergies is (gasp) not always accurate, and that the phrase "may contain" sometimes means "does contain." No way! Not with our crack FDA at the helm! Here's a "What you can do" link (last updated June 2006) that leads to...learning about food allergies by age. Again.

Well, at least learning about Gwyneth's "preschool panic" is news to me. Poor, poor Gwynnie. Thank you, BabyCenter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Irish Mouths Are Eating

Green outfits? Check.
Irish Soda Bread? Check.
New England Boiled Dinner? Check.
Gramma's Mustard Sauce? Now where is that recipe....

Mustard Sauce, adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook (an earlier edition than mine)

Mix together:
2 T. dry mustard
1 t. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 cup soymilk mixed from soymilk powder to the consistency of evaporated milk

Put the following in a heavy pan or a double boiler top:
3/4 cup soymilk mixed from soymilk powder to the consistency of evaporated milk
1/4 cup sugar
Heat. Stir in the mustard mixture. Add 1 egg yolk beaten until thick. Cook and stir until thick. Stir in 1/2 cup heated vinegar. Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trash Pickin', So Misunderstood

Spring is coming. I know this not only because of Daylight Savings Time (Thanks a LOT, William Willett! I hope you enjoyed your extra rounds of GOLF before you died and left us with this time-changing mess!) but also because it was unseasonably warm here this weekend. That means people began spring cleaning. And that means I have a couple trash-picked finds to share.

Oh, relax. I wasn't dumpster diving or trespassing or anything. The rule in our town is that if you set something out at the curb, it's free for the taking. Trash night just happens to be an extra-good time to look around. You probably won't be as lucky as Tammie, but you never know. Last night I picked up one of these:

Amazon price? $56.80. Both of the trays that hold paints and chalk are missing, but who cares? The paper clip and the side supports are fine. We can rig something up. I've wanted an easel like this for outdoor play (we have a wooden one inside) for a long time.

My other find was a vintage push lawn mower like this one:

image from

It's missing the rubber from one wheel, but surely I can find someone to fix it. We live in Amish country, for Pete's sake.

Next on my list? A plastic kids' picnic table for the backyard.

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's 8:16 AM will you wake up to me....

I forgot that today is Spring Break. I was not mentally prepared. So far this morning we have:

played video games
eaten breakfast
made popsicles (Curse you, Sid.)
gotten dressed
eaten a snack
played with flubber (Oobleck was last week.)
played with play dough
made plans to make Alisa's granola bars

It's not even 10 am. And we're having company over tonight. Help.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Now that we know what a good book is not, what would a good one be like? I'm talking about a picture book for early elementary-age children at this point. The chapter book series rivaling Harry Potter in popularity can come later.

For starters, it would not:
  1. feature an animal as the main character ("Kitty the Cat wasn't like other cats. Her fur made her sneeze. Kerchew!")
  2. be written in the style of a 1950s informational filmstrip. ("Susie wished she could eat peanuts at the baseball game like her friends. No, no, Susie. Mustn't touch the dirty, peanutty seats!")
  3. teach children that bullies can be reasoned with. ("Bob and I shook hands and agreed we would not use not nice words with each other anymore."
  4. be overly clinical and therefore embarrassing. ("If I eat dairy, I projectile vomit. Projectile vomiting is when your upchuck goes aaaallll the way across the room and lands on the floor!")
It would:
  1. be an appropriate read for both allergic/intolerant children and those who are not.
  2. What else? Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


This is supposed to be a book review for Go Dairy Free, but I think it turned into a bizarre trip through my psyche. Enjoy!

First, the review in as positive a way as I could write it, ie. the part Alisa might actually want to publish:

I received a copy of Hold the Cheese Please!: A Story for Children About Lactose Intolerance the other day. It was written by Dr. Frank J. Sileo, a psychologist who is lactose intolerant. The accompanying press release says that this book is "the first and only book written for children about lactose intolerance." Sileo's previous children's book, Toilet Paper Flowers, is "the first illustrated book for children with Crohn's disease."

Hold the Cheese Please! tells the story of a lactose intolerant child named Danny who is teased by a classmate and then eats dairy to prove he can. He becomes ill. Then he and the school nurse teach his class about being lactose intolerant.

The press release states that this book is for children ages 6-12, but I'm not sure about that. I think some of it might be a bit over the heads of six-year olds, and I think the way Danny handles the bully in his class might not work for older children. Also, I don't think the way Danny speaks is true to life. Still, I am glad to see that there is now a book available about lactose intolerance. I think this book will be most effective for children who are lactose intolerant, rather than for their classmates.

In the notes to parents, Sileo makes the distinction between lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. I wish he had done the same in the text of the book. When the nurse is explaining lactose intolerance to the class, she says, "You cannot catch it from someone and people do not die from it." That would be the perfect place to insert a sentence about dairy allergies, which people often confuse with lactose intolerance, because people can and do die from it.

Hold the Cheese Please! is published by Health Press.


OK, so I tried to be glass half full about this book as much as I could, especially because it is apparently the ONLY book for children about lactose intolerance. I am glad that there is now a book for LI children. I am sorry that it is poorly written. However, I know my dairy-allergic daughter enjoys reading books about dairy allergies, even when her father and I find them to be a little heavy on the medical side of things.

To me, the text of No Cheese seems very fake and forced. Observe the text of the first page:
"Hi. My name is Danny. I love to play sports, especially baseball. My team won the championship last season. My best buddy is Jimmy. We do a lot of fun things together. One thing that I would really like to tell you about is my condition called lactose intolerance. You may be thinking, 'What's that?' Maybe you have it too? Let me tell you about lactose intolerance and my story."

What child talks like that? 'Danny' and 'Jimmy'? Is this 1955? I liked reading books about girls with glasses who liked to write when I was little. I understand the theory of bibliotherapy. I guess I just wish there were more and better choices out there than what currently exists. Perhaps a series about a main character who just happens to have an allergy or intolerance, where it is just a part of his or her life. And yet, much like when my children help clean the house, I hesitate to criticize because at least someone tried, right?

The bully in the story steals Danny's soy milk and calls him "soy boy." Later on, Danny says to the bully, "'I accept your apology Alex. [sic] I just wish you weren't so mean to everyone. Just like I have to take care of my lactose intolerance, you have to stop being so mean to other people,' I said.
Alex nodded and walked away."

In real life, would that not earn Danny a punch in the face?

I know there are bullies in school. I know that children get made fun of for their differences. I just don't know if this is the best way to tell them how to handle it.

Also, while I understand that LI is a real medical concern, you CAN'T die from it, and kids can be easily confused. My daughter, Katherine, also has a lactose intolerant girl in her class who describes herself as "allergic" yet occasionally eats dairy. My biggest fear is that people won't take K.'s allergy seriously because this other girl has the 'same thing' yet can eat dairy, so why can't Katherine? I cannot tell you the number of times she has been offered lactose-free food because people think it is safe. Lactose intolerance and dairy allergy are NOT the same thing. I really think this book should have devoted at least a sentence or two to that very important distinction, especially since Sileo saw fit to put that information in the notes to parents.

We live in a small town where many of Katherine's classmates have known her since preschool. They all know about and understand her allergy and don't think twice about it. On the field trip last week, all of the class took extra special care of K. and her peanut-allergic friend, N. One of her friends said "Ew," about the celery sticks in K's lunch once, but no one has ever teased her or N. about their allergies or their allergen-free foods.

Do you have stories about your kids being teased for their allergies or lactose intolerance? Do you think reading a book like this one to their classes would help? If your children don't have allergies or intolerances, does reading about them help them understand those who do?

Do we praise these books for existing or criticize them for being poorly written? Or both? I really don't know. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Tale of Cloth Napkins (No, Not That Kind)

"Oh, woe is me! I have only blue denim-ish cloth napkins for my dining room! (Also, I don't have an eat-in kitchen, but that is another story.) They don't match anything except the toys on the floor!"

"Wait! Swistle is holding a cloth napkin contest! I will be your Cloth Napkin Buddy, Swistle!"*

Time passes.

"I WON!"

"The package is here! Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Pickles!"

"Look at all of this cloth napkiny goodness that matches our dining room! And two napkin rings! With the three we already have, that makes enough for our family!"

"Look at how all of the colors match the valances! (It's the little things, people.)"

Thank you, Swistle!

*For Swistle's discussion on the other kind of cloth napkin, go here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Kids Can Cook

I bought my first canister of nutritional yeast at the health food store the other day. Because I am Crunchy Granola. It should last a long time, though.

Why did I buy nutritional yeast? Because it is a widely-used cheese (flavor) substitute. And because I wanted to try a cheese sauce from Kids Can Cook: Vegetarian Recipes by Dorothy R. Bates. This is a vegetarian/vegan cookbook with lots of old favorites in it: Cocoa Pudding Cake, Magic Coconut Pie, Blueberry Muffins, Monkey Pull Apart Bread, Vegetable Soup, etc. There are also some easy vegan recipes like Tofu Pot Pie and Melty Cheeze Sauce. Almost all of the ingredients in the easy-to-follow recipes can be found at any grocery store, and the recipes are kid friendly. We're very happy with this cookbook and have been using it frequently since it arrived last week. My only complaint is that the recipes calling for tofu ("Toofuuu!") don't indicate what variety (soft, firm, extra firm) is best. Also, the black and white photos of kids cooking are quite dark and hard to see, if you care about that sort of thing.

Melty "Cheeze" Sauce from Kids Can Cook

"Mix in a 1-quart saucepan
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 c. cornstarch
2 T. flour
1 t. salt

Whisk in:
2 c. water
1/2 c. canola oil
1 t. wet mustard

Cook and stir until the sauce thickens and bubbles. It will get thicker as it cooks and can be thinned down with a little more water."

We served this sauce with a dinner of ham, broccoli, and baked potatoes. The kids liked it; Scott thought it needed more flavor. I might add a little cayenne or something next time.

This review was written for Go Dairy Free.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Mom on the Bus Goes HORK

This is the first time I've written a post from the f u t u r e. That's right, as you read this, I am probably:
  1. Rushing around getting ready
  2. Herding children I did not give birth to
  3. Riding a school bus while dry swallowing Dramamine
  4. Trying not to think about this or this
  5. Cleaning up something that spilled and/or was thrown up
  6. Watching mice ice skate (It's educational!)
  7. Helping first graders go to the restroom
  8. Wondering why I volunteered to chaperone a field trip
So please leave me a fun comment or link or recipe or something to look forward to when I get home.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Angel Food Update

When I first wrote about Angel Food Ministries, I said that I thought the program (which provides people of any income with ~$65 of food for $30/month) was worth a try, even though some of the items had dairy. Aaaand...then I never signed up and I never tried it. Way to be a leader!

But now, I will be signing up to to try their food in April because Angel Food Ministries now offers an allergen-free box, which is free of the top eight allergens. The box of food is available for $25 at any Angel Food location. (I checked with our local director. She said that anything you see on the site is available at every location--even out here in the sticks!) You have to sign up and pay ahead of time and then pick up the food on a specific date. Check with your local host site to find out the dates.

Here is what the March allergen-free box included, according to the website:

"Processed to eliminate the eight top serious allergens: Peanuts, Soybeans, Milk, Eggs, Fish, Crustacea, Tree Nuts and Gluten (wheat, rye and barley).

1 lb. Coated Chicken Tenders

1 lb. Coated Breast Filet

1 lb. Coated Chicken Nuggets

1 lb. Coated Chicken Wings

1 lb. Coated Cubed Steak (Chicken Fried Steak)"

I'm not thrilled that all of the items are "coated" (With what?), but I'm willing to give it a go, especially as the prices of all of the dairy-free chicken nuggets we buy keep going up and up.

Have any of you tried Angel Food yet? What did you think?

Monday, March 02, 2009

It Could Happen to You

I can't believe I won Swistle's napkin giveaway! I'm getting a Swistle package, complete with my very own Mr. Pickles! Whee!

Maybe you could win something, too. Of course, whatever you win won't be as exciting as baby food coupons....

Go Dairy Free posted a roundup of lots of fun food giveaways/contests going on right now. And best of all, Alisa has a HUGE Erin Baker's Wholesome Baked Goods giveaway on One Frugal Foodie.

Any other fun giveaways going on?

Edited to add: Yes! MamaBub has a giveaway going on at her place. One of the items has dairy, but the others don't.