Friday, June 6, 2014

Social Studies 101


Thank you, Chairman and members of the committee.  It is such an overwhelming honor to be able to sit here, as a private citizen, in front of you to present this bill.  Senate Bill 730 is an education bill that would simply educate restaurant staff about food allergies and how to accommodate a very loyal customer base.  In my experience with eating out, the servers and chefs want to know what to do and how to serve us correctly and safely, but without the training, they just don’t know how.  The education this bill would bring would help tremendously.  A little educaion really does go a long way. 

There is a website called allergyeats that I consult every time we have to eat out.  It is a national list of restaurants that are reviewed by families and individuals with food allergies.   My family has been traveling up north quite a bit over these last several months and because of this list, we only eat at restaurants with high reviews.  But, we have eaten at the same two restaurants every time we go up.  Individuals and families with food allergies are extraordinarily loyal.  We have to be.  For us, eating out is a matter of life and death.  There is a real need for us to eat in a restaurant where there is training so that we can feel safe.  And if we feel safe, we will frequent that restaurant over and over.   And there are a lot of us out there.

It sounds kind of strange to say “every time we HAVE to eat out.”   I would love to be able to say, “every time we WANT to eat out.”  This bill would make that possible.


This was the little mini speech I gave yesterday afternoon in front of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee in the state capitol.   In March I had given a longer speech, MUCH longer actually, about how helpful this bill would be for everyone living with food allergies.  The bill requires training for restaurant staff, a poster in the kitchen, and a notice asking customers to notify their server if they have food allergies.  

The first step in this process of making the bill into a law is getting it out of committee, where so many other bills are lost.  Once it passes through the committee, it moves onto the Senate floor.  If it passes off the floor, then it goes to the House of Representatives.  I know that there is still a journey ahead of us, but this first hurdle, I think, may be the most difficult.

And it passed.  Unanimously.

I did not expect that.  At all.  I knew there were at least two members of the committee who objected to the bill.  

Unanimous.  Unbelievable.

I cried.  

And then I snorted.

Really loud.

But it passed!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

chicken n biscuits


Wow have I been a bad blogger.  I have just been completely blog lazy.

I've been blazy.

It's a real word.  Look it up.

Well it should be a real word....

I have had several people ask if I had a good recipe for leftover chicken.  This is my absolute favorite recipe for leftover chicken.  And now I will share it with you.  How lucky you are.


I usually will make a chicken soup and reserve half of the cooked chicken, tear it to bits with my hands which is really very therapeutic, and make this.  I love it because you can use whatever veg you have on hand.  If you have leftover chicken, the whole thing comes together so quickly it always surprises me.  But even if you don't have leftover chicken, it doesn't change the timing. You can sauté the chicken while the gravy thickens.  Sauté the chicken while the gravy thickens.  Say that ten times fast and you've got yourself a song!  Or does that only happen in my head?




















Chicken and biscuits

4 tbs butter
1/4 c. flour
4 c. chicken stock, plus more if it looks too thick
3 c. chopped, cubed, or torn to bits chicken 
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
peas, corn, and parsnip also are wonderful in here
1 leek (white part only) or onion or 2 shallots or a few green onions...  chopped


biscuits:

2 c. flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs herbs- flat leaf parsley, chives, dill chopped
6 tbs chilled, cubed earth balance butter
3/4 c. soy milk, almond milk....  whatever milk you like


The first thing I do when I make this is cube the butter for the biscuits and pop them into the freezer.  You want them to be cold cold cold.

Preheat oven to 450ºF.

If you do not have leftover chicken, just use about a pound of chicken, boneless and skinless, cut into chunks, and sauté with some olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes.

In a dutch oven or other large saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the flour, and whisk until smooth.  Pour in the stock, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil.  Cook, whisking every couple of minutes, until the mixture smooths out and thickens a bit, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and vegetables.  Reduce heat to medium, and keep at an active simmer.

In a medium bowl, add the first biscuit ingredients: the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well, and then add the herbs if using and then the butter.  Using a pastry blender or your hands, mix to combine, leaving it crumbly.  If you use your hands, don't handle it too much- you don't want the butter to soften.   Pour the milk in all at once and stir it together with a fork.  

Knead the dough against the bowl several times until the bowl is clean.  On a floured surface, dump the dough out, pat it down to about 1/2" thick, and using a biscuit cutter (if you're well stocked or organized or fancy or all of the above) or a plain ol' drinking glass (if you're not well stocked or organized or fancy or all of the above, i.e. me), cut out circles and gently place them on top of the stew.  Pop the whole thing into the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the biscuits are all puffed up and nicely browned on top.  I will sometimes put it on broil to get the tops really toasty.  

Voila!  C'est tout!  Bon appétit!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

there are liars out there....

This makes me sick.  Grow some balls and stand up for your child.  What is that child going to think when he finds out that his parents lied about his having allergies?  That lying is ok?  She doesn't think that a 6 year old knows the difference?  My child, AT THREE, knew how to ask about what was in the food he was going to eat.  ANY parent of a child with food allergies would give ANYTHING to have a choice of what their child eats.  This person right here is the reason why food allergies AREN'T taken seriously.  I know plenty of people who choose not to give their kids processed foods.  Sure it's difficult.  But they are good parents with a healthy moral compass, who *gasp* actually voice their opinions to achieve their goal.  What a concept.

The reason why the web page is not linked in here is because the enormity of the negative comments caused the blogger to pull the post.  At least that's why I assume it was pulled.  What was so troubling, though, was how many aggressively supportive comments there were.  The absolute douchebaggery of that mom is just mind boggling.  I understand that I probably could have voiced my opinion in a more..... dignified manner.  I can't help it.  This just pisses me off.




Anonymous
*ETA* *ETA again* I lie about my kid's "food allergy"
by Anonymous
Today at 8:11 AM
My confession today: my son doesn't have any food allergies but I don't like him eating processed foods when he's at school or a friend's house, etc. so I tell people he has a food allergy to eggs and gluten. That eliminates a lot of the processed junk that people will allow their kids to eat and keeps him eating fresh foods. Plus, I don't have to worry that he is getting food from people's homes that might be unsanitary. You can't know what someone's house is like.
That's my confession. I don't feel bad at all and my son doesn't know the difference. He is 6.
ETA: At the school he attends you do not need a doctor's note to document allergies or to be dosed with OTC medication. If we were asking for him to have a larger than recommended dose if he had an allergic reaction, that is when the school needs a doctor's note. There are so many kids at the school with allergies and intolerances that they take them at face value unless they are considered so severe that they would require an epipen. He has never been picked on for having an allergy.
When I refer to people being unsanitary, I don't mean the homes that he may visit. I know the parents of the children he spends time with outside of school and have been in their homes. I am mostly referring to parents sending snacks in to school for birthdays, etc. Our school allows homemade treats and I have no idea how clean of a home they may have come from.
I do *NOT* expect other parents to provide food for him. I am happy to send in alternate snacks to school, to soccer practice, friends' houses, and anywhere else he might be getting food. I just don't want people to give him food. I have never expected anyone to accomodate him other than *NOT FEEDING* him.
I know that what I am doing is not the best moral decision, but I am doing what I think is best for my child. There are plenty of women on here that make decisions about child-rearing that I find horrifying, but those aren't my kids so I don't honestly care.
 ETA again: So, many people have been saying "he should get treats". He does get treats....treats I make and that are not processed. So he isn't totally deprived.
Also, for those that are saying "One little treat isn't going to hurt him". I am well aware of that. However, you are literally making my point for me. That is the exact attitude that forced me into lying about it in the first place.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

an emerging epidemic...

If anyone has been wondering what this legislation is that I've been working for the last year, PLEASE watch this. The Discovery Channel and FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) made a documentary called An Emerging Epidemic: Food Allergies in America.  It is on the Discovery Channel on Saturday, September 21 at 8am ET/PT. You can also watch it on the link I have provided.

When Ian was 2, he had a reaction in a restaurant and we stopped eating out. Three months later at a family wedding, however, we found that sometimes we couldn't avoid eating out. After a series of dealings with a caterer who had no idea how to handle allergies, I realized that something had to be done. I learned about the Massachusetts legislation, and I had heard that the Rhode Island legislation had been introduced, but it hadn't yet passed. I drafted a letter and my quest for legislation had begun.

One year later, I have a bill and a sponsor. We plan to introduce our bill in the next couple of weeks. To me, this bill is common sense and simply a means of education. Hopefully Michigan will feel that way too, and it will pass.

Again, please watch this. I guarantee that you have or will have someone important in your life with food allergies. A little education really does go a long way.


http://www.discoverychannelcme.com/patient-education/food-allergies



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Some things...

Here are a few of the things that we did yesterday.

I gave the kids some egg containers and sent them on a scavenger hunt.  Well, sort of.  I tried to engage the kids to help me make a list of things to find, but my daughter does not like following rules.  She prefers to do things her own way.........

So they picked out whatever they wanted.  Which was just fine with me.


Then we sat in the tall grass as I explained to them what a veteran is.






Suddenly, footsteps in the woods.


Udo checked it out..... 





...but not really.



We ate lunch, but that wasn't very picture worthy.


The kids drew some masterpieces.  




At the exact moment when this picture was taken, the striped one said, "I love you so much."  To which the one in white replied, "I love you so much too."  

Awww, it just warms the heart.




Just in case you don't quite know what's going on here, the kids offered their interpretations:

(Top)  The mommy and baby went to the fair but they accidentally passed all the fun.  And there was a horse.
(Bottom)  I was there and I found a wave and I jumped in the water and I was sleeping.


I find that the interpretations sometimes help.  


Let's just move on to the cookies, shall we...

A day wouldn't be complete without cookies.  But not just ANY cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.  But not just ANY chocolate chip cookies.  

Chocolate chip cookies with coconut sugar.  All of the cookie you love, but with a whole lot less processed sugar.....


And I'm just going to put the recipe right here, before the pictures, so you can get started right away without having to navigate through all of that nonsense....

Chocolate chip cookies with coconut sugar

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (wonderful for an added warmth, but the cookies are just as good without it)
1 stick Earth Balance butter, softened
1/2 c. coconut sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c. dairy free chocolate chips or chocolate cut into chunks (I use Enjoy Life)

Preheat oven to 350
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon (if using) in bowl.  Mix well.
On medium speed, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well mixed.
On low speed, stir in the flour mixture until blended.  Add the chocolate chips and stir to integrate them into the batter.
Grease one or two cookie sheets and drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls, spaced about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.


But here are the pictures anyway, just for fun.  And you can pretty much figure out what I did here.  Other than reacquainting myself with my camera....  I know, I know.  It's been too long, baby.

Ahhh, sugars....





And along with the butter picture, I think this next one is my favorite of the set...

Just delicious, isn't it.


OOH!  And the mini scooper!  I received that as a gift, and it is the single most useful item in my kitchen.


See??  Perfect little scoops....


....make perfect little cookies!


I normally only bake one cookie sheet at a time, and then freeze the other half for later use.  I am partial to the "log and slice" method....

Mmmm mmmmm

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Detroit Artist's Market

Well, I have some very exciting not parenting not cooking not allergy related news.....  I was asked to be the featured artist at the Detroit Artist's Market.  Which sounds like it's a solo show, but it's not.  By the back door, there is a lovely display area.  So the DAM has decided to pair up a "featured artist" alongside their main show; the featured artist changing with each show.  I am so honored to have been chosen as the first featured artist!!  Here is a peek at my wall:




















If you can't see any of these paintings, here are a few:


(Ok ok, here are most of them.  

I'm excited for the show.  

It's been a long time....)


























Thursday, March 28, 2013

heart cupcakes



























This is a wonderful way to make cupcakes.  I first saw it here, on Alison Astair's facebook page.  If you are not familiar with this facebook page, I strongly suggest checking it out.  Especially if you are a parent or caregiver.  Alison has so many incredible ideas for so many different things.  I have consulted her page many times....

The thing with this post though, is that it is more for the idea and not so much for the recipe.  I have yet to come up with a fabulous yellow cake, and I am just now realizing that in my advancing age I am really becoming too picky.  Or too lazy.  I can't quite tell yet.

So to keep things simple, use whichever cupcake recipe you want here.  And if you have a really great yellow cake recipe that you are just dying to share, I would love to try it out!!

All you need to make these great cupcakes is aluminum foil.  Make small balls to put in the top (I used small foil cylinders for the flower shape), and take small folded squares to stick in the sides at the bottom.  I tried it with balls at the bottom, but it was too much and made the shape all wonky.  The end!  That's it.  So super easy.  And the kids loved them.  


















You could probably decorate the cupcakes prettier than my boring sample here, but you know, when I'm hankering for cupcakes, I just can't be bothered with decorating.  Slathering is much more my style.