Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Super Mom....

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and all that comes with it.  I was excited for this holiday season as this would be our second since starting the food allergy diagnosis "newbie no longer".  And everything was going great for the beginning, and then she got a hold of the baked beans, that story was told in my last post.  Since the baked bean incident- we have dealt with two more food allergy reactions and numerous invites to parties (hers not ours).  With invitations come the B.Y.O. concept for her (food that is).  No worries, none at all.  Our local Wal-Mart and Kroger have come a long way in stocking food allergy options.  So, it was no big deal when I go to Wal-Mart the day before her party to pick up a few supplies for food options.  No big deal at all as I'm standing in the small section of her allergy-friendly options.  No big deal at all as I'm continuously staring at zero availability for her food allergy options.  Yep, that was me in the middle of the aisle with my hands on hips staring at the fact of zero cookies and zero baking supplies.  As fellow customers passed by and stared at my continuing pissed off stance, one woman took one look at me and asked what my kiddo was allergic to.  Yes, it was that obvious.  I mean, how dare they?  How dare they not have the ingredients I needed to make my last minute cookies.  Who do they think they are by not allowing me to procrastinate like everyone else?  Finally, I come to the conclusion that I would not be baking cookies for her party that afternoon.  Instead, I would go to the cereal aisle and luckily grab the last box (yes, last box) of gluten free rice chex and put a new plan in action.  Across the street is Kroger and they would surely have what I needed.  Yeah, right.  I left town and headed out to our farm in tears the entire drive.  I called my husband on speaker phone and told him of the betrayal of the grocery stores.  His suggestion?  Just bake something else.  Just bake something else?  Did he forget that we had a date night scheduled?  I want my date night, I want to not cook or worry about not cooking.  I wanted a Margarita, darn it!!  Well, forget him.  I instead call a dear friend whose daughter is gluten intolerant and gets how exhausting and frustrating it can be.  We laughed and made fun of our predicament.  We talked about how tired of cooking we were, telling our beloved children to just get an orange or whatever was leftover in the fridge.  There was not a mom of the week award awaiting me, for sure.  I can't help it.  I admit that there are days that I do not don my apron; cooking from scratch sun-up til sun-down.  In fact, there are some days that I want to say "Screw It", I wanna order a pizza.  Do I do it?  Nope.  Instead, this Holiday season I have made friends with Captain Morgan (maybe you've heard of him?)  He likes my apple cider.  I get over it, I move on and make another plan.  I laugh about it, because do you know what the funny part is?  Usually, the food I end up "throwing together" is better than what I was planning originally.  Instead of my cookies, I used my Gluten Free Rice Chex and followed their ingredients for Muddy Buddies.  I substituted Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (I have an emergency bag) and Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter.  My daughter took a huge container to her party/sleepover and the kiddos loved it!  You know what that means?  Total Mom Award Recovery!!!  So you see, sometimes it just sucks wearing that cape; but I would never, ever change a thing!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Sustainable Holiday Season...

I have to tell you...  If you are looking for a great Dressing recipe, you should definitely try mine.  It's a newbie to the recipe book, I tried it for Thanksgiving and it was a HIT!  It was sooo much better than the baked squares that I've had in the past.  Also, I came up with a yummy alternative to the typical turkey and dressing leftovers.  I made our favorite waffle recipe (Paula Deen's substituting our flour and adding xantham gum) and added some chopped leftover smoked turkey (my brother-in-law's recipe) and dressing.  The turkey and dressing baked into the waffles with that added texture from the waffle iron.  It was made even better with the addition of leftover cranberry sauce added to our maple syrup and heated through.  It was so good that I can easily see it becoming a family tradition for a Black Friday Brunch.  I hope you'll consider trying it.  As we started taking down the Thanksgiving Decorations to make room for the Christmas Decorations, I decided not to let a perfectly good pumpkin go to waste.  While the kiddos took the seeds out, my husband began cutting the pumpkin into easier to handle chunks.  We cleaned the seeds and roasted the seeds and flesh of the pumpkin in a 300 degree convection.  When pumpkin flesh was fork tender; I added to the food processor and pureed until smooth.  From this point- so many things can be done with pureed pumpkin.  You can add stock to make a soup, add to your favorite muffin, cookie, or bread batter, or you can add to your favorite pasta dough recipe.  If you're not sure, pour into your muffin tin and freeze; when frozen remove from muffin tin and place in freezer container for future use.  I do this with soup; when I want my favorite soup I can place in mug and heat up.  I refuse to let anything go to waste, and given our diet I always prepare food in bulk.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with our freezers, we have three.  Everytime I open our freezer, ziploc freezer bags and containers are everywhere and it can be difficult finding what I need at times.  One of my resolutions for the upcoming year is to find an easier way to store everything.  Any ideas would be appreciated...  Happy Christmas to Everyone!  I hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season.  If you are running short on christmas present ideas, I would suggest some homemade goodies.  I enjoy sharing my homemade extract recipes with friends and family as special gifts.  You can find my vanilla extract listed here. This year, as presents, I also made a Bourbon Vanilla Extract as well as Orange Extract.  They are super easy to make and make great gifts.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Thanksgiving Menu...It Doesn't Have To Get Complicated...

Busy never seems to quite cut it this time of year.  With all of the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, you can't help but overextend yourself for the fear of missing something great.  For a few weeks now I've had our itienerary's made for the coming weeks; so much to enjoy and participate in.  This year is already so much better than the last due to the fact that I am now a Food Allergy Holiday Veteran.  Last year was my first, and I knew going in to it that I was in for it; I didn't disappoint.  This year, however, I am still cooking but with a much happier attitude.  Our menu plan is for a group of 12 at my In-Law's.  I share the duties with my Mother-in-law.  My responsibilities this year:

My Thanksgiving Menu
Green Bean Casserole
Macaroni and Cheese
Thumbprint Cookies

She will have prepared a baked ham, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and corn.  My father-in-law's cousin makes the baked beans, and my brother-in-law smokes a turkey and a deer shoulder.  I know it will all be great.  This year I am attempting to make the old-school Green Bean casserole from the TV commercials, only my way.  I plan to make my own onion rings with thin slices of onion battered with cornmeal and deep fried until crispy; set aside.  Steamed green beans from the garden; set aside.  A basic cream sauce beschamel with thin sliced portabello mushrooms.  When cream sauce is correct consistencey- add green beans and pour into baking dish; top with onion rings.  I'll set aside and warm through before sharing with the family.  I was so excited to find gluten free cream of mushroom soup, but it unfortunately had soy listed.  A great dairy free option would be with almond milk, and sliced almonds included in the topping.  If we weren't tree nut free I would be all over that one.  The dressing is super simple for us.  I save all of our end pieces from our loaves of bread, I use for bread crumbs, croutons, and starting in August I save for Dressing.  I add it to crumbled Bob's Red Mill Cornbread that I pre-made.  Stir in chopped celery and onions that I sauteed until translucent, along with 2-3 eggs whisked.  I place all ingredients in crock-pot and add 4 cups of chicken stock to start.  Place crock-pot on low and leave for a few hours (5-6), adding chicken stock later if needed.  I know it's a bit "out of the box", but this is the way my uncle makes his and it's always super delicious.  I may even add chopped turkey cutlets for an even yummier addition.  My Macaroni and Cheese is my super yummy infamous Kentucky Hot Brown Mac n Cheese!  The recipe is listed here!  This year I am changing up my Vanilla Bean Cheesecake recipe just a bit.  Instead of using my vanilla wafer crust, I bought Bob's Red Mill Brownie Mix.  I plan to follow the directions for the brownie mix and then spread batter thinly on the bottom and up the sides of my spring form pan; and using my traditional vanilla bean cheesecake recipe  for the filling.  My husband is super excited about that one and even suggested I make it in the first place.  As for the thumbprint cookies- a shortbread cookie recipe I'm working on with a bit of jam in the "print".  I'm not sure where I'm going with the flavors of this one yet... I'm thinking possibly cranberry? maybe.  Anyway, there is a definite theme here....Easeness.  So what if I'm using the crock-pot and prepackaged mixes!  This year is about spending time with my family and the joy of the holidays, I missed that last year.  Last year I was so worried about everything with the food allergies that I forgot about the fun of everything and seeing everyone. I hope you have a great Thanksgiving as well!  If it's your first with facing these challenges I would like to remind you that It really will be okay.  Don't let the stress of it takeover, and if you feel that happening-take a step back.  Don't forget about those great moments of just enjoying homemade hot chocolate whether yours is with dairy, almond, soy, or even coconut... That's a great way to step back and remind yourself that this beautiful time of year only happens once... So make it count!!
Don't worry, I do plan on taking notes for all of these recipes so that I may tweak and/or share with all of you.  Lots of recipes are out there for food allergies, the key is to not get overwhelmed by the ingredients.  Sometimes they are intimidating on their own.  Remind yourself that cooking is supposed to be a little fun as well...
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  I Hope It's Wonderful!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Great Halloween and Looking Forward to November..

I hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween; I know we did.  We did things a little differently this year and ended up with a great result.  We opted to participate in our Church's Trunk or Treat this year.  My husband and son decorated our "trunk" while I visited every other "trunk" with a food allergy goodie bag for my daughter in a very Kristina from Parenthood kind of way.  Though I did run the risk of appearing as the "crazy lady", it went pretty well.  I took her and our neighbor's trunk or treating while the Husband and son passed out food-allergy friendly candy.  No, she didn't just get her goodie bags; but that was okay.  She did get mostly her goodie bags and passed the other candy onto her friends.  We also participated in the chili supper with my chili staying in the truck as to not risk contamination or none left when we got there.  We had a blast "tailgating it", there were no tears and lots of smiles; therefore I would say it was a huge success.  We did also participate in the traditional trick or treating, it was a request from my son.  We discussed it as a family (yes, we discussed trick or treating; we discuss everything) and decided it would be fun in the traditional sense of dressing up and running through the streets (not literally).  We went with neighbors and drove into town and had a great time and divvied up all the candy to friends.  It wasn't nearly as scary as she was thinking it would be and that was the point.  She needed the confidence to know that it really wasn't a big deal; that she could still participate and have fun with just choosing to not eat the candy.  That simple.  I guess that's the point of discussing everything as a family; we never want our kids to feel overwhelmed with decisions we make for them.  Don't get me wrong, it's still a dictatorship over a democracy; only we choose to lay everything out ahead of time for questions/discussion.  While Halloween was very successful, it was only two days later that we headed to the Allergist for our tree nut challenge.  Yep, it had been over a year since her initial diagnosis and her bloodwork showed levels appropriate for a challenge.  She was so excited, my husband was super excited, my son was happy for his sister, and I was an absolute nervous wreck.  What would happen?  So many questions and scenarios were in my mind.  We were told to bring 30-40 grams of each tree nut to challenge along with enough for her to do for the many hours we would be there.  She couldn't eat breakfast that morning because her stomach was supposed to be empty and her appointment was at 8:30 in the morning.  We gathered school work, her dvd player, and some toys and headed off.  We chose pistachios, walnuts, and almonds for her challenge.  The only reasoning for my choice was her initial diagnosis lab work showed specific allergy to walnuts and the pistachios and almonds because I couldn't find anything else.  No really, we only have a Wal-Mart and Kroger here and all of the other nuts were flavored and included wheat and soy.  Kinda sucks.  The MD office crushed all of the nuts together and gave them to her in 3 different doses starting small and ending with a larger dose.  I brought vanilla yogurt for her to mix nuts with to make it easier to eat texture-wise.  By the end of the third dose it was going on 11 o'clock and she started with the itching.  By 11:40am her back was breaking out and she was getting pretty uncomfortable, antihistamines were given along with a small dose of steroids.  The good thing?  It was not an anaphylactic reaction, but we are going to continue to stay away from tree nuts and opted to not do a peanut challenge for now.  Besides, this is going to be a fabulous, busy time of year.  I love, love, love Thanksgiving.  It's my favorite holiday.  It starts the most wonderful time of the year.  It's the first time everyone comes together and shares a wonderful allergy-friendly meal.  When I say everyone, I mean everyone on my Husband's side of the family as my family isn't with the whole food allergy thing.  Sad for them as they are missing out on a yummy meal and two fantastic kids' lives.  Is this your first food allergy Thanksgiving?  If so, it's not as hard as it seems.  Yes, it's a bit overwhelming when you thing of the grand scheme of things, but it's really not hard.  This is my second, and I am ready for it.  Next week's post will be a bit more inclusive on the easiness of it.  For now, I'll just include a fabulous fall recipe to help get you in the mood....

Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Chutney

Preheated oven to 350 degrees

Cranberry Chutney
1 can whole cranberry sauce
¼ cup maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon

Over low heat to reduce and thicken.

Pork Tenderloin

Baking dish
Place pork tenderloin in baking dish.  Cover top with ½ cranberry chutney.  Pour 1-1/2 cups apple cider around tenderloin.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes.  Take out and leave alone for at least 10 minutes to allow meat to rest.  Serve other ½ of cranberry chutney
alongside pork tenderloin.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How the Hill Family Does It.....

I know it has been a while since my last post; my apologies.  Unfortunately, things have been a bit busy around here.  I know I should be used to it, but I still feel overwhelmed at times.  A lot of people ask how we do things around here, so I thought I would share.  We are a busy, one income household family of four; therefore things are often scheduled (especially the food).  I make a lot of freezer meals for during the week.  I usually plan one day during the week to make the bases for our meals.  I start with the ever favorite chicken; If I don't use one from our farm I buy only the organic, free range whole chickens (they come in a two-pack).  I rough chop two medium onions, two celery stalks, two carrots, add chicken, and cover with water in a crock pot and let it go.  At the end of the day I pull out the chickens to cool and strain stock.  I freeze the stock in ice cube trays and the rest in freezer containers.  The ice cube trays make easy seasoning for potatoes, vegetables, or whatever.  The freezer containers are great for soups, casseroles; you get the idea.  I do it this way because many store-bought stocks contain allergens and everything just tastes better when it's homemade.  The chickens (2)- I pull the meat off and shred; this is enough for four casseroles.  If you're not going to go ahead and make the casseroles; go ahead and separate anyway and freeze for later use.  While my chickens are in the crock pot I'm usually going ahead and preparing the pasta, rice, and/or biscuit batter for my casseroles.  I buy the aluminum pans with the tops for the casseroles to be stored in and place them in any one of our freezers.  I usually go with a Poppyseed Chicken Casserole over rice, A Mexican Style over rice, an Easy Baked Pasta Version or two, and it's always a hit with Chicken Pot Pie.  Keep in mind that our family loves our Farm-style Sustainable Lifestyle.  Therefore, I'm usually setting out deer meat to be ground up for Chili, and I make a lot of meatballs to be used in Baked Pastas for the freezer or I freeze the meatballs to be used for sandwiches or spaghetti.  We also have the pigs processed in the winter and the pork sausage can be used in practically anything.  My son's favorite is when I cook crumbled sausage till done and combine with waffle batter along with shredded cheese; I always make a country gravy to spoon over waffles in lieu of syrup.  Make these waffles in two batches and you've got a great quick breakfast during the school week.  Needless to say; I cook as much as I can when I can and store in the freezers.  It makes the busy school days so much easier and allows us the time to spend as a family instead of rushing around.  Don't get me wrong; we eat healthy.  Everything we eat is as fresh as possible and I include a ton of veggies with everything I can and even when I shouldn't (love the food processor).  It's great making a homemade spaghetti sauce or chili and adding pureed steamed veggies for that boost of flavor and health benefits; I've even added pureed spinach to brownie batter (it doesn't change the taste).  Puree your extra veggies before they have a chance to go bad and freeze in ice cube trays and then place them in a freezer bag for later use.  Yep, I'm full of all kinds of tricks.  I actually find it hard to eat out at chain restaurants now; my food is just better and all of that processing tends to upset my tummy nowadays.  Anyway, now you have a small taste of our daily life in the kitchen!   I've included some pics of our backyard buddies!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Food Allergy Food Drive

Food Allergy Food Drive

by Hope O'Donnell-Hill on Friday, October 7, 2011 at 10:10am
It has been brought to my attention over the past year the amount of families and individuals facing daily food allergy challenges; and the number is continually growing.  A lot of these families are in need of financial assistance due to the specialized state of these foods.  For this reason I have acquired a list of allergy-friendly foods and am requesting your assistance to help the many people in our area faced with these challenges.  Just the other day was there a young mother with two small children newly overwhelmed with her 20 month old's diagnosis of multiple food allergies, and terrified of not having the means necessary to feed her child.  Until personally faced with the struggle; many do not understand the fear food allergies can hold over the individual and/or family.  It is extremely overwhelming and absolutely frightening to realize that you may not be able to safely feed your child.  I am requesting your help for these  families and individuals that preside in our area.  We will be hosting a food drive for October requesting these specialized ingredients for these very special people.  Please consider donating to our cause, just one allergy-friendly food item can make a difference.  We are excited that Peach Blossom Health Food Store here in Murray, KY has agreed to be our Drop-Off for these donations.  Thanks so much...

Bags of Dry Rice
Bags of Dry Beans
Corn Meal
Masa (Corn Flour)
Tree Nut Butters (Almond, Cashew, etc.)
Soy Butter
GF Bisquick
Rice Pastas
Corn Pastas
GF Baking Mixes (Betty Crocker, Bob's Red Mill, Pamela's, Hodgson Mill, etc.)
Brianna's brand salad dressings (they are GF)
Maple Grove Farms Syrups and Salad Dressings
Bread (Udi's, Rudi's, GF Bakehouse, Katz)
Gluten Free Oats
Canned Tomatoes
Cooking Oil (Canola, Corn, Olive, Sunflower, Coconut)
Milk Replacements (Soy, Coconut, Rice, Almond)
Egg Replacements
Kitchen Basics brand Stocks/Broths
Flour/Starches (Potato, Tapioca, Corn, Garbanzo Bean, Rice, Almond, Sorghum)
Gift Cards - when in doubt a simple donation can go a long way.

Please Drop-off at Peach Blossom Health Foods in Murray, KY during the month of October

Sunday, September 25, 2011

KY mom cooking allergy free: Soup's On....

KY mom cooking allergy free: Soup's On....: Recently, our family had a scare as our daughter had an emergency appendectomy. It definitely was not planned as she came home from schoo...

Soup's On....

  Recently, our family had a scare as our daughter had an emergency appendectomy.  It definitely was not planned as she came home from school with a tummy ache that only got worse through the night with us in the ER at dawn.  What made it worse was her liquid diet.  I was super nervous and made sure I checked and rechecked with all of her nurses in regards to her food allergies possibly being in medications and her food tray.  All of the nurses were awesome and very helpful; they made a neurotic mother feel at ease.  However, the dietary services dropped the ball BIG TIME!  Once she received her food tray the following morning after her surgery, she started getting itchy with more stomach pain.  I called dietary services to check on her food and low and behold wheat and soy were on her tray.  I am not gonna lie, I had a moment.  It was not pretty and I did not handle it well, however in my defense I was nearly 48 hours without sleep and the coffee was horrid.  I did apologize to the nursing staff repeatedly because it was not their fault and they truly felt sorry for our situation.  However, it is a scary situation when a person cannot even rely on their healthcare system, their local hospital, to provide the proper care.  The Doctor was called and they decided to hurry up and get us out of there before the hospital tried to feed her again.  My husband had to actually leave and go to the grocery store to get her something to eat.  I was so proud of the emergency care and the nursing care that she received, but that is the end of it.  I cannot imagine what would have happened to the uneducated individual or the single parent trying to do it all.  However, with all of that being said the important thing is that she is home, healthy, and appendix free.  When we got home she requested a bowl of soup for her dinner that evening, and I got started asap as her meds took her to dreamland.  Her request?  French Onion Soup!  Okay, kinda sweet and easy to eat, so I got started.  Luckily, our onion crop was fantastic this year and I have a ton of red and white onions to choose from with her favorite being the red.  I'm not just saying this, that girl loves her onions.  She loves to go through the gardens in the summer and pull up onions to wash off and eat like apples.  I thought I would share my French Onion Soup recipe with all of you.....

French Onion Soup

4 tbs butter
2 tbs canola oil
5 medium onions sliced thinly
1 box of Kitchen Basics Beef Broth
2 tsp tarragon
salt and pepper to taste.
Your favorite Allergy-friendly bread
Gruyere Cheese

To saucepan add butter and oil.  When melted add onions and tarragon.  Stir often until onions reach that beautiful carmelized appearance (about 40 minutes or so).  Add beef broth and cover until heated through.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Ladle soup in crocks or mugs.  I made garlic toast out of our Rudi's Multi-Grain bread and place on top, shred gruyere cheese to cover toast and place under broiler until melted and bubbly.  If that's not a post-surgical treat, I don't know what is.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Food Allergy Family

I was pleasantly surprised the other day when grocery shopping at the amount of allergy-friendly salad dressings I saw.  They even had pretty green "gluten free" tags as aisle markers, making it easier to recognize.  Of course, not all were soy-free, but plenty were.  As soccer season is in full-swing, I am relying plenty on my crock-pot for those go-to meals.  I found some Maple Grove Farm Aged Asiago and peppercorn salad dressing the other day and thought they would go fantastically poured over some country-style ribs in my crock-pot.  Boy was I right and happy to say so.  Us food allergy families can sometimes find a hard time coming up with ideas for a crock-pot meal that doesn't involve chili, soup, or barbecue.  I love the idea of trying something a little outside the box, this dressing allowed the ribs to be super-tender but not stringy with a tangy kick to them, partly due to the dressing and partly due to the 5 cloves of garlic I chopped and added.  You can't go wrong with garlic, that's for sure.  It's like cheese, bacon, or butter- adding it just makes your food better (or at least it does in the south). I do enjoy the idea of using salad dressings as marinades and/or sauces.  After it's prepared you have a meal for the night or you can be like me and freeze it for later.  I'm extremely blessed to be able to be home for my family as my full-time job, therefore I'm always cooking.  I used to work as a nurse part-time until my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies.  I remember being so depressed and not even getting out of bed except to cook meals or go to work, and that was it.  I would go to work crying and come home from work crying.  People started realizing something was definitely going on and I was not one for publicizing anything in my life; that's when I knew something had to change.  I'm a pretty strong chica and when I sat down with my husband to discuss everything we knew what had to be done.  I couldn't nor wouldn't change my family, but I could most definitely change our circumstances; I quit my job to stay home until normalcy could be obtained.  I made my mind up and so began mine and my family's journey of re-invention.  It's nice to change it up a bit sometimes.  Whether you paint a room, try an ethnic food, or decide to change your lifestyle to accomodate your present circumstances.  We chose to change as a family as we choose to do everything.  I didn't have the luxury to grow up in a stable family and continue to bear those scars, but I am truly blessed to have married a man who truly is my strength when I am weak.  "The Evolution of a Food Allergy Family" is the title of a book I'm currently working on for food allergy families.  It's getting closer and closer to being done.  I can't wait to share it with all of you...    

Friday, August 26, 2011

No Recipes.... But Plenty To Say!

I am without any new recipes this post as we continue to thrive on salads, sandwiches, and baked pasta freezer meals in this continuing HEAT!  With the new school year going full speed ahead we have the added thrill of sports, class parties, birthday parties, and family reunions.  I have to say that I am truly blessed with a phenomenal teacher for our food allergy child, she is fully aware and on-top of it!  We had the common issue of a "friend" being very hands-on my daughter at the lunch table, and of course left her mark in the form of a rash from her wheat-y hands.  I called the teacher to explain the situation and it was handled quickly.  She is ready in her classroom with the Enjoy Life cookies we provided as well as some "reward" candy that is allergy-friendly that she happily provided.  Our daughter continues to have her own microwave in the classroom to heat her lunch she brings daily.  I am currently in correspondence with the nutritional director of our public school system as to the possibility of providing an allergy-friendly meal option once a week, fingers crossed!  I feel confident that we are going to have a great school year, I truly feel that our school is much more open and tolerant of food allergies.  Don't get me wrong, no one's perfect.  I continually stay optimistic.  My super-competitive daughter also tried out and made the competitive soccer team to represent our area.  How excited are we?!  We will begin a bit of traveling to play some different games/tournaments.  I hosted a "class" for her coaches with directions of epi-pen use.  They were ready to learn, which makes for a happy mommy.  The other parents have been great about asking questions regarding snack options.  I did tell them not to worry about bringing her anything, but they still want to do for the team as a whole.  I cried on the way home from that practice.  How great is it that more and more people are empathizing with the food allergy community.  Maybe I'm just in my own little world and it's just me and our area that is becoming a little more open every day, but I doubt it.  I read great articles and posts from so many in our food allergy community full of great information some happy/some sad.  It's unfortunate and completely terrifying of the amount of food allergy deaths and the number is steadily rising.  I encourage all of you to step out of your comfort zone and get involved in some way to promote food allergy advocacy in your area.  A year ago this month I hosted my first food allergy support group with 3 people.  Our group isn't Huge, but it is hosted by myself on a monthly basis with anywhere from 4 to 9 people that are constantly changing.  One member stated that if everyone came to the same meeting, there wouldn't be enough chairs.  I also turned that support group into a Facebook group called "Gluten & Allergy Free KY", we are currently 61 members strong and hoping to continue to grow.  Talk to your friends and their friends....word of mouth is the best advertising and I have been introduced to so many people in the food allergy community through friends of friends.  I also decided to start my own facebook page based on my blog with the option of having some of my homemade goodies shipped to your home, 1 and 2 day shipping available.  Getting involved in these small ways of introducing food allergies make a huge difference.  My family and I are members of a large church in our area and I can't express to you the gratitude towards them for being open to considering the small changes to the youth organization.  I have met so many people who face the same challenges that I face.  Some are more willing than others to talk about it and that's okay.  I look forward to doing even more in the future.  I am currently building a cookbook with a great story-line and yummy recipes (67 so far).  I hope to share it with you soon!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Staying on Schedule.

We are definitely getting back into the groove of things.  One week into the new school year and we are back to being the average busy family.  Our oldest started middle school with lots of tears (mine), and with that we have gained an ever-increasing social calendar.  Our youngest is in 4th grade (the grade of homework), and is going full-force with her travel soccer team (Go Revolution!).  These in addition to Work, Homework, Our Farm, Extended Family (my new nephew), Church, and not to mention my husband and I; yep, it's busy.  I am now the proud owner of a Mom-Friendly Master Calendar that I have placed front and center on our refrigerator.  It is wonderful with stickers and enough space to put all of our schedules.  My husband no longer has any excuse of "not remembering".  What is even better about the calendar is that I can see in plenty of time, the days that I need to have dinner practically ready when we get home.  Often, we only have an hour or so before we have to leave again for activities.  For the average american family it calls for a night of fast food, for the food allergy family it calls for planning.  I am loving the make-ahead pasta dinners I blogged about before as well as my crock-pot.  My family only eats free-range, organic chicken either from our farm or the grocery.  It is a lot more expensive than the cheap stuff but it is so not worth the health risks.  A way of cutting the costs of chicken is by buying a whole chicken, it is cheaper because you gotta do the work.  An easy way for me is to cook the whole chicken, shred it, and use what I want when I want it.  I've included my recipe for an asian-style chicken.  I'll let it cook overnight, on a weekend, or whenever; the most tedious part is pulling all of the meat off (tip: let that baby cool down, don't burn those fingers).

Crock-Pot Asian Chicken

1 whole chicken; thawed and patted dry
8 cloves of garlic; crushed.
1 ½ - 2 inch fresh ginger crushed..
1 lemon
½ cup soy-free soy sauce
1 tbs crushed red pepper
1 ½ tbs sesame oil
½ cup water

Place chicken in crock-pot.  To bowl combine lemon juice, soy-free soy sauce, crushed red pepper, sesame oil, and water.  To crock pot add garlic, ginger, and lemon halves.  Pour bowl mixture over the top of chicken.  Turn on low and walk away.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Getting Ready for Back-to-School in the Kitchen

What a summer it has been!  I fell into a routine with my daughters' food allergies and started a catering business on the side.  I, unfortunately, have to now begin the routine of back to school within the next week.  But I am doing so with a well-prepared freezer.  I have been making a number of make-ahead meals, snacks, and goodies to help make our days easier.  We, like so many, have school, work, sports, homework, and family time on a daily basis.  To assist our days I prepared a few freezer meals in the form of baked pastas.  I prepare my pasta according to package instructions and set aside.  I then can open an allergy-friendly bottle of marinara bought or homemade, add sliced pepperoni, and toss with pasta. Place in aluminum pan, top with cheese, and place in freezer for a quick dinner.  Another version is that I combine leftover Sloppy Joe mixture from a different dinner and toss with pasta.  Place in another aluminum pan and top with monterey jack cheese and freeze for the future.  The sloppy joe pasta bake is my son's fave.  For those fast-upon us breakfasts; make a ton of waffles and freeze, toss in toaster and you're set.  I also buy and prepare a huge box of sausage links and place in freezer bag, microwave for 15 seconds and you've got a great, healthy side for your waffles.  Something new for me are my mini-omelets.  They are so cute and were super easy to make.  I save my egg whites from all the ice cream I've been making.  To my mini muffin tin; I butter the bottom of my tin and add whatever fillings I want such as cheese, veggies, ham, etc.  I whip the egg whites with a little bit of milk and seasoning, fill my muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees until done (usually 20-25 minutes).  I throw these into freezer bags as well; they go great as a side, on a sandwich, or as a snack. I never look forward to my kiddos starting back to school because I miss them so much, but I am blessed that they love school as much as they do.  It makes it a little easier knowing that they look forward to their new routine, and I know I'm doing myself a favor getting all their goodies ready ahead of time.  This way, I have more time to hang out with them.  If you're new to all of these ideas, don't get overwhelmed.  Pick something and just spend a morning preparing it for your freezer.  As you get more acclimated you will be able to handle more meals, desserts, whatever.  Good luck to you all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Those Great Summer Salads!

The best part of summer is the food!!  For those on an allergy-friendly diet, it's a lot easier and much more common to chow down on the fresh fruits and veggies.  It's a common farm-to-table menu for most households and restaurants, which makes it much easier for most of us to dine-out.  Salads for everyone!  You can do so much with salads; grilled, roasted over a campfire, raw, dressed or undressed, etc.  The list goes on and on..  What's even better is that a salad doesn't have to be over greens necessarily.  What about those favorite potato, bean, pasta, corn, fruit, and even veggie salads?  I love, love potato salads; pierce their skins with a fork and place in microwave on the baked potato command.  Set aside and let cool and then slice and finish on the grill to get that great char flavor.  The fun part is that you can add anything you want to it from there.  You can go greek with capers, red onions, a little feta, with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  You can go traditional with chopped cooked bacon, shredded cheese, green onions, some fresh dill, salt, pepper, and a little sour cream-mayo combo.  I, personally, love to fix a corn and tomato salad; it's a southern thing.  Chopped fresh tomatoes, corn, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Super simple with tons of flavor and especially good on those summer days.  Speaking of hot summer days; why not try a melon salad.  Your favorite melon such as watermelon (my fave) chopped into bite size pieces or scooped with a melon baller for those pretty presentations.  Add some fresh mint, lemon zest, and a very light amount of extra virgin olive oil; talk about a summertime treat.  Who wants to cook on these lazy days of summer?  I would much rather be outside with my kids playing, swimming, or reading a great book.  You know what makes these even better?  The fact that you can't get much healthier than these!  These salads, some great sandwiches, and homemade ice cream.  I am truly loving an allergy-friendly summer!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Allergy-Friendly Catering, Baking, and Sharing..

Sooo much going on in my ‘neck of the woods’, gardening, baking, cooking, cleaning, referee, etc. You know, regular ‘ol mom stuff. To be perfectly honest with you, all the good food have been going to my clients interested in my allergy-friendly goodness. AND I LOVE IT!! I love to cook and create new recipes; I always have. I’m very excited and extremely nervous to have my creations available to other people. It’s one thing to have your family eat your food; they don’t really have a choice. It’s completely different to have other families eat your food; kind of intimidating to say the least. What if they don’t like it? Luckily, I didn’t overdo things and kept my menu small and to what I felt most comfortable making. So far, so good; I haven’t had anyone be disappointed. I recently catered a birthday party for a 13 year old gluten-free young lady. How scary is that? Mini corn dogs, pizza rolls, cake pops, and creamsicle cupcakes. My house smelled wonderful! I couldn’t wait for the day of delivery so my family would quit complaining that I didn’t make any extras for them. Luckily, her mom sent me a message on Facebook stating that everyone LOVED the food. I sooo hope she wasn’t just trying to be nice. Anyway, I hope everyone stops by my Facebook page, Kentucky Mom Cooking Allergy Free, to say hi and “Like” me. I have found an easy recipe, however, for our family in a pinch for lunch. I look forward to sharing it with you. It’s an easy one to change up and make it with whatever you have handy. The only change I would make would be to grill the slices of polenta to get that ‘crust’ on the bottom. Enjoy!!

Barbecue Chicken Polenta Pizza Bites

1 prepared polenta roll cut into thin slices
2 pieces left over barbecue chicken cut into bite-size pieces
2 green onions sliced thinly
Ranch Dressing
1 cup shredded cheese ( I like Monterey Jack)

Place polenta on greased cookie sheet, I like for them to be touching each other because it makes it easier to spread ingredients. Drizzle ranch dressing all over polenta, spread green onions all over polenta. The cheese is next, and then the chicken. Place in pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes. Use a fork to enjoy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Family Updates and A Namaste Foods Cookbook

A lot of things going on in our family recently, the oldest graduated from Elementary School (tears).  The youngest has had a lot of tummy problems later, causing us to eliminate dairy for a while in our home.  I hope this helps her and yet does not get permanently added to our "NO" list.  Eliminating Soy, Wheat, Peanuts, and Tree Nuts feels like quite enough for now. Presently, we are trying coconut milk until her tummy problems can be solved.  I'm finally getting a handle on all of our food options with a business opportunity to boot.  The gardens are looking great right now, the rains have wrecked havoc on our home but been great for the farm.  A lot going on in our family, but that doesn't get in the way of what I have to share with everyone..
Recently, I received a shipment from Namaste Foods, LLC of products for an upcoming charity health carnival for our group "Gluten & Allergy Free KY" is attending.  How excited was I to see their first-ever cookbook?  It's title is "Simple Pleasures Gluten-free Cookbook" and I was thoroughly thrilled to dive in and check out the recipes.  I knew this cookbook was going to be great when the first recipe was apple fritters, the way to this KY mom's heart.  The cookbook is separated into Breads & Breakfasts, Savory Soups & Salads, Main Dishes, and Desserts; all of which involve a Namaste Foods mix.  You can definitely tell that a lot of creativity went into planning these recipes.  From the Perfect Piroshkis to the Luscious Lemon Cake, these recipes sound like a lot of fun to start playing with.  I highly recommend checking out this recipe book.  I love the mixes and are ready to share with my support group all the goodies I have received.
Namaste Foods, Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend, 48-Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

KY mom cooking allergy free: Beautiful Weather and Tasty Sandwiches...

KY mom cooking allergy free: Beautiful Weather and Tasty Sandwiches...: "'Tis the season for sandwiches. Everyone looks forward to the end of the school year; warm weather and lazy days. With those lazy days com..."

Beautiful Weather and Tasty Sandwiches...

'Tis the season for sandwiches.  Everyone looks forward to the end of the school year; warm weather and lazy days.  With those lazy days come lazy lunches and dinners.  Who wants to go inside and cook a large dinner when you would rather be outside playing?  For the food allergy families out there it is easier said than done.  The food allergy families try to set aside a day or two to prepare as much as they can so that they may also be able to enjoy those lazy days.  My family loves sandwiches on a hot summery day.  We have an outdoor kitchen and we use it often; stocking it with sandwiches, chips, and drinks.  With that thought in mind, I decided to include my recipe for pimiento cheese; tastes great on sandwiches or on celery.  In the picture below we enjoyed grilled pimiento cheese and sausage sandwiches recently on a Sunday afternoon after church.

Pimiento Cheese

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup mayo
1 cup plain greek yogurt
2 tbs pimientos
3 tbs chopped roasted red peppers
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground mustard
1 chopped green onion (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all ingredients into large bowl.  Set into refrigerator for at least an hour, will taste even better when left overnight.

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Easter Treat with an Allergy-Friendly Mock Oreo Cookie

I love that when I put my mind to something, I do it.  We missed oreo cookies, who doesn't love them?  Cookies and cream ice cream, oreo's and milk for a snack; they are great!  Since my daughter's diagnosis in July, we haven't had them.  Don't get me wrong, they are not the healthiest treat in the world; but they are a treat and a great one for this Easter weekend.  So, I'm sharing my recipe with all of you.  Happy Easter!
Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Sandwich Cookies:
Chocolate Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (melted)
2 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
To mixer with paddle attachment; combine butter and sugar until smooth.  Sift dry ingredients and slowly add to sugar mixture on low speed.  Add eggs one at a time making sure to fully combine each into batter.  Last, slowly add melted chocolate and mix until combined.  I use two spoons to make batter into rounded shape; place on greased cookie sheet to 325 degree pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes.  Cookies will puff up, then flatten out.  Place cookies on cooling racks pretty quick to prevent them from sticking to cookie sheet.  Makes about 60 cookies.
1 1/2 tbs unflavored gelatin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbs light corn syrup
1/2 tsp homemade vanilla extract or 1 tsp of store-bought
1 8oz package softened cream cheese.
To clean mixer bowl with whisk attachment; place 1/4 water and unflavored gelatin.  Do not mix!  Leave for 5 minutes to soften.  To saucepan add 1/2 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup, Do not stir!  Add salt and cream of tartar to gelatin mixture and whisk on med-high for 3 minutes until fluffy.  When sugar mixture reaches 250 degrees it will be a light tan color.  Slowly add sugar mixture to mixer on a high speed and continue to mix for 5 minutes until fluffy.  Add vanilla extract and continue to mix until mixture cools and will be white and fluffy.  Fold in softened cream cheese and allow filling to rest for at least 30 minutes to thicken.  Make Sandwiches!
Just a note: I usually do this on two separate nights; cookies first, then filling.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Watch Out Food Allergies, There's a New Food Revolution in Town!

There is a new food revolution among us.  The facts are; sustainability, organics, and food allergy friendly foods go hand-in-hand.  Studies have shown the more sustainably gathered the food is, the healthier it is.  Most say that the reason food allergies have gone so rampant among society is due to the means most foods have been processed.  Injected with hormones, sprayed with pesticides, and processed with preservatives; sounds good, huh?  People are starting to realize that their health starts with them, and it’s a wonderful thing.  As a mother, it is my number one job to take care of my children; a huge part of that is making sure they are making the right choices.  When I became a mother 10 years ago, I made the choice of a healthier lifestyle for our family.  I learned how to make baby food and only bought organic produce and juices.  After our second child, I realized I wanted to do more for our family in the way of being sustainable.  I started my first garden and learned how to can and freeze vegetables and fruit.  For the most part, my family and friends teased me by calling me Martha Stewart and our farm Little House on the Prairie.  I took these as compliments.  Now this food revolution is spreading throughout our families and neighborhoods and spilling over into school systems.  Farmer’s Markets are springing up all over America; along with channels devoted to cooking fresh with what’s in season.  Beautiful cookbooks and blogs abound with phenomenal recipes.  Food allergies beware!  With all of this great, fresh, sustainable food growing around us, you don’t stand a chance!
Here’s what’s in season now!
Kale Chips

2 large bunches of kale (cleaned)
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste
Remove kale from stems and tear into chip-size pieces. Toss with olive oil and spread onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in pre-heated 200 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sustainability: A Homegrown Lifestyle

Sustainability is a word used to describe a way of life for many people, including ourselves.  My husband and I live next door to his parents, and when I say next door I mean in the country with an area of woods between our houses.  Up the road are my father-in-law’s cousin and her family, and on the back side of the farm are my husband’s grandmother, two aunts, and their families.  Those are just who is in immediate proximity.  His cousins, aunts, and uncles live all around us within a few miles; and most of us chose a sustainable way of life.  It was the way the older generations survived; by their own means.  It is not how I grew up, and it was not my husband’s first or second choice as to how he thought we would be living.  It all started with me wanting a garden.  I didn’t grow up around gardens, but always wanted one.  After our second child was born, my father-in-law and husband tilled up a spot in our backyard and I started my first garden.  I bought books on gardening and eventually about canning and freezing.  I was a self-made woman who was providing healthy, home grown food for my family.  I loved it!  As the years have passed our gardens have grown to a large vegetable garden, a smaller herb garden, a flourishing fruit orchard, 40 chickens, 8 ducks, 60 guineas, 7 Nubian dairy goats, two horses, a miniature donkey, two dogs, and a cat named fluffy.  It keeps us busy with feed bills, maintenance, and little adventures along the way.  We now provide ourselves with seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit and herbs, farm fresh eggs, and raw dairy milk on a daily basis.  The men enjoy hunting for deer, rabbits, squirrel, and turkey.  They are not trophy hunters and only kill what we eat.  I have the joy of making fresh rosemary chicken sausage or sage duck sausages.  We have large freezers to store meat and some fruits and veggies.  We had an ice storm in 2009 and were without power for 9 days; it reminded me how much I loved canning those veggies and fruit jams.  There is a new food movement among us along with urban gardening and a growth in hobby farms.  More and more people are appreciating the freshness and hard work of taking care of themselves and their families the same way their ancestors did.  They say history repeats itself.  Perhaps this is our new path as history is coming full circle.  With surging gas prices, unemployment, and larger grocery bills; sustainability is fast becoming a way of survival for some.  I have the pleasure of being a leader for the state of Kentucky in the B Kind 2 Earth challenge.  Ask yourselves this, what are you doing in the means of sustainability?

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Farm-Life Update with a Cheesecake Bites Recipe

It has been a very busy couple of weeks on the farm.  I have really gotten into cooking again; making cheesecake bites, corn dogs, cracker stix.  All wheat, soy, peanut, and tree nut free!  My daughter’s teacher has been on top of things with information regarding classroom treats, allowing me to be on top of it as well.  It has been great!  There’s not any stress when you know what’s expected.  I have found a new pizza crust mix that I am in love with thanks to our local health food store, it’s called Chebe.  I also bought the cinnamon roll mix and am looking forward to trying my hand at maple bacon cinnamon rolls with a little sweet and savory.  Sounds yummy just thinking about it.  My cheesecake bites came out wonderfully, they currently have a home in a giant freezer bag to allow us to keep and enjoy them for as long as possible.  We have had a lot of fun with themed dinners around our house.  The other day we had a diner-themed dinner with homemade corn dogs, cheese fries, and milkshakes.  It definitely wasn’t the healthiest meal in the world, but so what!  We had a blast eating and playing a mean game of go fish!  I have been milking my Nubian, Heidi, for a week now.  There’s nothing better to me than making cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream from farm-fresh, sustainable ingredients.  With the additions of my herb garden, orchard, and vegetable garden the flavors are limitless.  Two roosters from our farm are currently being prepared to use as sausage for our family; they are super flavorful with some of our rosemary in my garden.  I know a farm lifestyle can be overwhelming to some.  For us, it’s a lifestyle choice to provide for our family as sustainably and organic as possible.  We have seen dramatic changes in our daughter and her health.  When we initially began as a treatment for her autism, we saw results.  Since expanding our changes to limit her food allergies as well, our family has never been healthier.  I may be “jinxing” this as I say it, but we haven’t dealt with ear infections, strep throat, or the flu like others have.  The only health challenges we have had is sinus and allergy problems as the weather changes from one extreme to the next.  Which, living in Kentucky, happens on a daily basis at times.  Below I have listed our cheesecake bites recipe.

Cheesecake Bites

1 recipe for vanilla bean cheesecake without the crust.
Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Prepare cheesecake batter and spoon into mini-muffin tin; filling ¾ way full.  Place muffin tin in water bath and cook at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.  Turn oven off, do not open door.  Allow cakes to reduce heat slowly.  Remove from oven and sit on counter to cool to room temperature.  When room temperature, use butter knife to remove cakes onto platter.  Once all the cheesecakes have been made; place platter in refrigerator to allow to cool.  They will be easier to dip in chocolate if firmer.  Melt Enjoy Life chocolate chips in double boiler on stove top, dip cakes in chocolate and place on wax paper until cooled. 

These make a great treat.  Time consuming to make but worth it.  I fix on a rainy day and place in freezer bag until ready.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Wonderful Support System and Easier Grocery Shopping

I have been such a blessed woman since becoming an allergy-aware parent.  My daughter was diagnosed in July and while I was in need of a support system; there was none.  In September, I started a support group in my area with a total of 3 members.  Now, our facebook family of Gluten & Allergy Free KY has a total of 56 members.  How grateful am I?  I have met individuals and parents of children facing the allergy aware challenges that I have just begun to encounter.  We have shared laughs, tears, our stories, recipes, ideas, and lots of encouragement.  I have, literally, been in tears two hours into grocery shopping and called one of our members to help calm me down.  It is only shopping after all, but to a mother of a child with food allergies it can be a horrific experience.  For this reason, I have included a beginner’s shopping list.

Below is a list of allergy-friendly grocery goodies listed as faves from our Gluten & Allergy Free KY support group as well as some of my twitter friends.  These are just a guideline for beginners to the allergy world.  All of these are gluten free, some are nut and soy free as well. 

Anne's sticky rice bowls,
 tortilla chips and cheese,
Udi's bread,
 dried plantains
Boost protien drinks
Udi’s muffins and bagels.
Applegate Farms GF chicken nuggets,
 GF Bisquick,
 Annie's GF mac -n- cheese (that one's for me since my son is also casein free),
 McCormick spices,
 Gorilla Munch cereal,
 Larabars (Apple Pie is our fave)
 Applegate Farms bacon and hot dogs
Pamela's baking mix is the best thing we have found. You really can convert your old recipes!
 General Mills is really stepping up and producing some great products as well.
 Rice Chex makes excellent rice krispie bars. Instead of 6 cups of cereal, use 7.
 They also now have fruity pebbles and cocoa pebbles cereal bars!!
we love quinoa,
 corn crackers,
my kids love dry fruit for snacks
basmati rice (better aroma and taste)
craisins,(regular, cherry, blueberry)
fresh fruit
cinnamon rice chex
Amy’s Organics microwave meals are a great way to start
Enjoy Life brand snack bars
EnerG bread crumbs
Bob’s Red Mill AP flour (it is soy free)
Glutino Cereal Bars (the strawberry is soy free)
Lucky Charms Cereal
Captain Crunch Cereal
Udi’s brand frozen pizza crust
Rudi’s multi-grain bread
Whole Foods Bakehouse GF breads (cheaper than Rudi’s and Udi’s)
Trader Joe’s brownie mix
Beans, beans, and more beans.  In the beginning I prepared a bag of beans once a week and froze in smaller meal-friendly bags.
EnviroKids brand

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Little Food Allergy Consideration, PLEASE!

We went to the Allergist last week to get our lab results.  Fun finds included a YES, we are still allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  And a NO, we are not allergic via lab results to wheat and soy.  But, YES, her body is still rejecting the wheat and soy.  We did a one time attempt to reintroduce; she was sick to her stomach with the half hour and she had urticaria within 24 hours.  Needless to say, we are still a household that is free of wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  All the better for me, because our family has never been healthier.  The little one was visually upset due to her need to feel included by her peers- which is another story in itself.
Our family started off the week with a bang!  Last week, our daughter came home with the news of a class party to be held this past Friday.  An ice cream party via Dairy Queen for good behavior.  No note sent home, mind you.  But I did my job and looked online and found that she could have the fudge bar without an issue.  It is prepackaged and I wouldn’t have to worry about contamination.  So, Friday morning my husband walks her to class and mentions the upcoming ice cream party after lunch.  The teacher explained that the party would not be taking place until Monday and they would not be having ice cream any longer.  The teacher mentioned nothing else; no other ideas, did not mention any food or her allergies.  Monday afternoon, something told me to stop by the school and check on things.  Thank goodness I did.  Her entire classroom was eating their lunches in the room, having a party, and eating ice cream.  Yes, ice cream.  I immediately left the school and bought her a treat to take back.  She was so excited.  She said, “Mom, you know EVERYTHING”.  Her teacher didn’t even bother apologizing.  No email sent, no warning, nothing.  By the time I left the school, I was in tears.  I was so mad!  I was upset that no one even cared enough to acknowledge her.  Her teacher had given every child in that classroom ice cream except for my daughter.  Why?  I would jump through fire for my children, so I sure as hell would buy a popsicle.  Just shoot me an email, call me, text me, I promise I won’t bite.  I can’t fix it if I don’t know about it.  Why can’t a little bit of commonsense come into play?Food Allergies For Dummies

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Update and Homemade Vanilla Extract

I have been gone from the blogosphere for a while now.  Not by choice, granted.  It has been nutso in my neck of the woods.  Snow storms, tornadoes, kids, chores, farm, etc.  You get the idea.  I’ve been having a hard time with recipes, lately.  I seem to be stuck in a rut and when I do try to think “outside the box”, it’s been pretty gross.  Does that happen to anyone else?  I guess I need to get back to basics.  My family and I recently took a trip to Nashville, TN for a weekend; it was great!  We found lots of restaurants that we could eat at.  There is a bakery called Fiddlecakes that made us a batch of brownies when I called ahead and alerted of particular allergies.  They make their own gluten free bread and fresh sandwiches that made for a yummy lunch.  We also encountered Mellow Mushroom for the first time.  It was such a treat for all of us to enjoy pizzas together as a family.  We ended our trip with a visit to The Whole Foods Market to store up favorites that are unattainable in our area.  Lots of pastas, panko bread crumbs, snack bars, you get the idea.  Needless to say that we had our Expedition loaded for our trip back home to Kentucky.  My daughter also had her Immunocaps drawn for an upcoming appointment with her allergist.  We’re not sure what, if anything will come of that.  Did I mention that my baking has been a bit “different” for the past couple of weeks?  I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different flour combinations trying to find a “fit”.  Up to this point I have been splurging on Bob’s Red Mill AP flour but I really want to make my own mixes.  What I have accomplished is the best vanilla extract.  We started it before Christmas and are currently enjoying homemade vanilla extract.  Super easy to make, I plan on gifting it for the holidays in the future.

Homemade Vanilla Extract

1 jam jar
2 vanilla beans split

Place the vanilla beans in the jar and cover with vodka until filled.  Place top on jar and let it rest in a cool, dark place for at least 6 weeks; shaking occasionally.  I currently have mine located on my counter top to use at my whim.  Nothing tastes as good as homemade vanilla extract when a vanilla bean cannot be used.  Keep it natural.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snow Days and a Brownie Recipe

Hello Everyone!! I have missed everyone and I hope you are all staying warm and healthy. We have had a lot of snow in our area and no school at all this week. Luckily, we have plenty of four-wheel drive vehicles that have not limited our capability of reaching the grocery store. I’ve been baking quite a bit. I love it, it’s calming to create yummy desserts from scratch or build upon a simple mix. I would love to start creating the bakery treats for the public. I’ve been doing a little bit for close friends and family who want to eat healthier this new year. Maybe soon, I can advertise in my town. Who knows? Our family has been super busy adding on and remodeling our home. I want our house to look like it’s been here for a hundred years, the devil is in the details. I’ve been choosing historically accurate paint and moldings and my husband has been doing everything himself. Who knew he would be so good at designing and building cabinets. I think he’s found a new hobby. We’ve had to make sure all of our animals are staying healthy and warm. I have a goat due to kid this month and I’m just praying all of this snow will be gone before Heidi goes into labor. I’m looking forward to milking her but not in this cold, snowy weather. The milk would probably freeze before I got it to the house. At the encouragement of my “tweeps”, I am including a simple brownie recipe that I built upon a package mix for a quick treat.

Quick Chocolate Sunbutter Cream Cheese Brownies

1 package Bob’s Red Mill Brownie Mix
1 cup sunbutter
1 package of cream cheese
1 tbs. honey
1 egg
1 ½ sticks melted butter

Combine in mixer the brownie mix, egg, and melted butter; set aside. To a small saucepan over low heat combine cream cheese, honey, and sunbutter; melt to combine well. To a greased 9x13 pan add half of brownie mixture to make complete layer. Dot sunbutter mixture over layer and finish with adding last half of brownie mixture. Using a butter knife, make sure to marble sunbutter mixture through out brownie batter. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Gift from Rudi's

I was so excited when the UPS delivery man made a surprise appearance in our driveway.  He came bearing gifts!  He came bearing allergy-friendly food gifts!  Imagine my delight at the opening of a Rudi's gluten-free bakery box with presents inside.  Our family stumbled across Rudi's orginial sandwich bread once upon a time and it became a fast favorite.  Though not easy to come by in our area, we visit the natural foods stores enough to regularly keep our freezer in stock.  Within our Rudi's present came the gift of their Multi-grain bread.  We had not tried this before.  Needless to say, my daughter has a new favorite.  She likes the texture of the multi-grain bread much better than any other bread she has tried.  It's music to my ears!  Not only did we receive a free loaf in the box, but we also received a coupon for an additional loaf at no charge.  They provided literature of their spread the bread campaign as well, have you heard?  For every $1 coupon downloaded from their site; Rudi's will make a donation to the Celiac Disease Foundation.  How awesome is that?  I host a support group for our local residents whom are already big fans of Rudi's and are also excited to be supporting such a great cause while getting a reward themselves.  You can't get much better than that!  I look forward to also being able to try the cinnamon raisin bread along with the bread pudding recipe they sent.  Bread pudding has always been a past family favorite and I look forward to retrying for my allergy aware family.  It's nice to know some family traditions can still stay the same with just a little bit of tweaking.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Last Night's Fights

Well, everyone, I get the worst mom in the world award!  Thank you.  Thank you.  When I picked my daughter up from school yesterday, her head was itchy.  Of course my first fear is the dreaded "L" word.  Upon checking, I just noticed some redness; no big deal just dry skin.  She takes after me and this harsh winter has not been friendly to our skin; or so I thought.  "Get your homework finished and eat this early dinner, you've got soccer practice tonight."  And off we go an hour later to a facility 30 minutes away for some good ol' indoor soccer.  When we leave I notice her face is really red.  "Wow, you really got a workout."  Uh-Oh, silly mommy, look closer!  By the time we made the trip back home she was broke out in welts and urticaria from head to toe.  Hello, I'm a nurse and I'm still an idiot.  My husband immediately jerked off her clothes and started a warm bath because she felt she was on fire.  I, on the other hand, was running frantically to my bathroom to grab the benadryl.  Needless to say that within an hour, she was fine.  I, however, suck!  Yes, I made a good recovery with the Benadryl-and-game-of-hokey-pokey-while-I-combed-her-hair-to-prevent-her-from-scratching-her-skin-off-until-the-meds-kicked-in.  After all was said and done I wanted to drink a bottle, yes bottle, of my husbands wine and cry myself to sleep.  Pity party, I know.  So silly, but at the time, so scary.  This morning we are back on track.  I politely, yes I promise I was polite, alerted the teacher to last nights armageddon and asked that she watch out for further instances.  Maybe we'll have a good rest of week and mommy can not become a lush.  As I leave you, I ponder this.."What would Lorelai Gilmore do?"
Benadryl Children's Allergy, Cherry Flavored, 8-Ounce Bottle (Pack of 2)

Friday, January 21, 2011

A New Food Allergy Outlook

Food Allergies For DummiesI have reached the point in this food allergy awareness lifestyle that no one else really cares.  And that’s okay.  I’m not going to worry about everyone else and making them aware of what is around them.  I was always the coach/mom who asked if any of the kiddos had food allergies before my own child actually had them.  Looking back, I realize the only reason I asked then was because of my own trials growing up.  I grew up in a town even more rural than where I currently live and I had a ton of food allergies.  I remember having the allergy shots everyday after school; I was always allergy aware.  Now that I have a child of my own with food allergies I am even more aware and a lot more educated and up-to-date on our options.  I am still currently looking to advocate within our school system for at least one allergy-friendly meal per week; perhaps vegetarian.  But I am not going to be the person to rise upon my soap box preaching to the mere, unrelenting, uneducated mortals.  Okay, maybe I won’t go quite that far.  There are a ton of options out there for our family.  We made the transition as a family, you see.  I only cook for the whole family, no separate meals here.  My son still has pizza rolls in the freezer and regular whole wheat bread, but my daughter has her Rudi’s sandwich bread in the freezer along with her Udi’s frozen pizza crust.  I naturally pack her lunch daily for school along with her snacks for after-school activities.  Her teacher notifies me of any parties or upcoming events in the classroom so that I bring her food comparable to her classmates.  This way, no one feels left out.  I don’t worry about how other people feel about it anymore.  My daughter is now comfortable enough with her allergies that she doesn’t eat anything I did not bring her and no longer feels as if she misses out on anything.  Unfortunately, she has not been invited to a birthday party all year because of the other parents’ fear.  How ridiculous for them.  I don’t think my daughter notices because she is luckily very busy with year-round soccer and her horses.  There is actually only one parent within the class who bothers to even recognize her dietary restrictions and we are thankful to her for it.  Luckily, we went to high school together and our girls are within a month apart.  For the Halloween and Christmas parties this year; she brought goodie bags for the class and had stickers, necklaces, toys, etc. in my daughters’.  She felt special for having a bag a little different.  Thank goodness for those parents.  Thank goodness for the ones who make a point to recognize their child’s friends and lifestyles.  I have also tried to always be that parent who remembers “Tommy” doesn’t eat meat or “Abby” doesn’t like cake, etc.  The problem at our school is that it is always the same group of us parents who do everything at the school from the book fair to field day.  One parent once made the comment that a lot of parents don’t get involved because they are too busy being a kid themselves; I’ve found it sadly true.