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.

*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.


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.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows

I am so happy to announce my first guest blogger post!  Without giving too much away, I have 3 words for you:

no corn syrup

Ok fine.  Six words.

But let's not forget thick, rich, creamy, chocolatey, dairy free hot chocolate.......

You can find the post here.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

better than duncan's crocker

What?  Did I say that?  Why, yes.  Yes I did.  These brownies are better than Duncan's and Crocker's put together.

I absolutely love Duncan Hines brownies.  And I love them even more than ever, because some varieties are dairy free.  I never thought I would appreciate a boxed, pre-fabricated food but then allergies entered the equation, and I found first hand how difficult it can be to take the easy route...

So we always have a box in the pantry, just in case we need brownies in a hurry.  But the last few times I have made them, there was just something not quite right.  They weren't like I remembered them.  They tasted a little too eggy and a bit chemically.

I, like many others before me, have toiled away trying to find the secret that makes these brownies so dense, chewy, and chocolatey, but with that impossibly flaky top.  So many of us, it seems, are on a quest for that perfect brownie.  And who has set that standard that so many of us strive to duplicate?  That's right.  Duncan Hines.


These brownies are about to give them a run for their money.  I have tried so many of the "best brownies ever" only to find that they were not, in fact, the best brownies ever.  So I am not about to claim that I have come up with the best brownies ever, because obviously that's all subjective anyway.  

Oh who am I kidding.  These are the best brownies ever!!  I have solved my very own Duncan Hines challenge!! 

I really love this recipe because it is just so easy.  And the amounts are not accidental.  I worked the proportions so that they are straight up.  A stick of this, a cup of that.  Straight.  Up.

Since I am not one who particularly likes to follow rules, recipes, or knitting patterns, I fight the "baking has to be exact" idea.  If you want these brownies to be more gooey, add less flour.  If you want them to be less gooey, add more flour or less butter.  If you don't want them to be too sweet, add less sugar.  No sweat.

And the best part is that they take less time to prepare than it takes for the oven to preheat. 

the best brownies ever

8 oz enjoy life chocolate chips or chunks (I use a slightly rounded to overflowing cup of chips)
8 tbs earth balance butter or unsalted (dairy free) margarine
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
very scant 1 c. all purpose flour
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Line an 8x8" baking dish with two strips of foil or parchment paper.  To do this, take one strip that is the width of the dish, and line the dish with it, letting the overhang.. well.. overhang.  These overhanging parts will be very useful handles later, when it's time to cut.  Repeat in the other direction.  Spray the foil or parchment with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat.  Once melted, add the chocolate, give it a good stir, and take it off the heat.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt and set aside.

In a bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until light and slightly fluffy.  Once the chocolate mixture has cooled a little, add to the egg mixture, very slowly at first, to avoid cooking the eggs.  Once you have thoroughly whisked in about a tablespoon, you can add the chocolate with a little more abandon.  Once all of the chocolate is incorporated, add the vanilla, and then mix in the flour.

Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for about 30 minutes.  Wait until the brownies have cooled (this is definitely the hardest, yet most important step), and pull out of the pan using the foil or parchment liner.  Once you have the whole thing out of the dish, it is much easier to cut.  I like to cut using a rolling pizza cutter.  

Now you may eat one.  Or four.  Go ahead, no one's watching...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

my lovely little valentines

Both of my kids have been sick, alternating turns, for about three weeks now.  My daughter was the originator of disease, passing it on to my son, and then in grand splendor, picking it up again as a re-manifestation from her chest to her ears, considerately keeping the fever at just below panic levels for way too long now.  Because she has had to miss so much school right before Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something really special.

And what's more special than a heart filled hallway?  The hallway of love.....

Very fun to make.  I painted large sheets of paper, and then cut out a lot of hearts!

First I painted....... 

......then I cut!!!

And then I took out some twine and taped it all together.  This was kind of a last minute project, and after I had it all taped up, I wished I had done something to the backside of the hearts, but no matter.  The kids didn't even notice.  They loved it!

And then there was the something special #2....  

My first thought was to make a heart shaped cake with a lovely fondant encasement, all pink and velvety smooth, with the rolling landscape of a baby's bottom, sprinkled with an array of fondant babies and hearts and anything else you can imagine, none of which I would ever have the time to make.

So instead I decided to make a giant cookie.  With the kids' help, of course.

I used my basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but since it was a larger cookie, I baked it at a lower temp for a longer period of time.  It turned out perfectly.  Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside....  And of course, anything slathered in frosting can't be too bad, right?

Chocolate Chip Cookies 
*I adapted this recipe to make a giant cookie

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. sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar, light or dark
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 325˚F
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 a cookie sheet and dump the whole load of dough in the middle.  Spread the mound into whatever shape you like, making sure that it is no more than 1/2" thick.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes. I started checking on mine at 20 minutes, and pulled it out after 30.  Let sit for a couple of minutes, and move to a cool surface or rack to cool completely before you add the frosting.

vanilla frosting

5 tbs softened earth balance butter or unsalted margarine
2 c. powdered sugar
2-3 tbs soy milk
few drops of vanilla

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium low speed.  I usually drape a dish towel over top to keep the sugar from blizzarding all over the counter and on my person..  Once a ball is formed (this should take a few minutes), turn the mixer to low, and add the soy milk/vanilla a little bit at a time.  Mix until thoroughly combined, turn the mixer to high, and whip it up for about 10 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl if needed.  Then add coloring, a drop at a time, until the desired color is reached.  Wait until desired food item is fully cooled and slather, slather, slather... mmmm...