Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Thursday, March 30, 2017

living with food allergies

I have noticed over and over and over that it is impossible to truly understand the impact and challenges of living with food allergies unless you or a loved one are exposed to the struggle daily.

When Bennett had his reaction last fall to the new nut butter we tried my anxiety went into overdrive mode and it is just coming down now (mostly due to therapy). Even though his reactions in the fall ended with hives and did not affect his breathing at all, I have spent the past few months in a panic about Bennett and his allergies. 

When I am at the children's museum, or the park, or church, and a child has a peanut butter sandwich, or peanuts are served, I want to explain to people how hard and stressful it is to live with a food allergy. If you haven't been exposed to food allergies, or lived in close proximity to people with food allergies, it's hard to understand how frightening it is to see a parent pull a peanut butter sandwich out of a lunch bag.

And Bennett isn't even that allergic! His allergy is triggered by ingestion, thankfully, but it's still stressful to to take him to the park and other kid heavy places because he has a terrible habit of putting his hands in his mouth (we hand wash and remind, remind, remind, but this is a hard habit to break!).

Our friends and family have been accommodating, kind and thoughtful, but if I had to tell a new friend about what it's like to live with food allergies this is what I would say:

It is very challenging and sometimes heart breaking to have a child with food allergies. My son feels left out, he knows he is different, and it makes him sad there are so many foods he can't eat.

I spend a lot of time shopping for food and preparing meals my son can eat. Every time I shop I check labels, even if it's the three ingredient rice crackers I buy every week. Ingredients can change at any time and assuming a food is safe can have harmful consequences. Please don't feed my child anything from your cupboard or fridge or child's backpack without my consent.

There are restaurants we cannot go to because they serve foods cooked in peanut oil or made with peanut sauce. We have to bring a separate dinner for our son if we are eating out. We used to be able to go to two places and get him something from the menu, but he's been too reactive lately for us to try. If we want to "eat out" we either bring food for my son or my husband brings food home and I make a separate meal for the kids (this is what we usually do).

Holidays can be a nightmare. Finding food substitutes and safe options is hard and time consuming. (Last Thanksgiving Bennett had a smoothie while everyone else had a full turkey dinner.)

I have cried because I don't know what to make for dinner / I'm tired of eating the same five dinners that are safe for my son / I am exhausted from cooking.

I have also cried because I want to take my son out and enjoy a treat with him. Seeing pictures of parents taking their kids out for ice cream, a hot chocolate, or a cupcake because they wanted to do something special makes me sad and jealous.

Despite the challenges there are positives as well:

We are all eating healthier. I still eat the foods my son can't have, like wheat, but I eat way, way, way less than I did before. Nearly all of our dinners comply with Bennett's diet restrictions, which means at least one meal a day (and usually two because I often eat leftovers for lunch) is free of gluten, soy, corn, dairy (mostly, I do love cheese) and preservatives / food dyes. 

My son is learning compassion for himself and others. He knows what it is like to feel different and he carries heaps of kindness and empathy in his little heart.

I've learned a lot about cooking and preparing meals from scratch with a handful of ingredients.

And here's some ways you can help:

Be considerate and try to remember the food restrictions. I know this is really hard to do! Right now Bennett's list of restricted foods is so long it is easier to list what he can eat than what he cannot eat!! But the kids who remembered my son's food allergies on Valentine's Day and made sure he had a non-food treat in his bag made my day - not to mention his.

Think twice about bringing foods with peanut butter to kid focused places and events. For kids with airborne or contact allergies just breathing in or touching the allergen can cause anaphylaxis.

If you have a child with food allergies over for a play date:

- Please wash your child's hands and wipe the table down after they eat.
- Don't let them play with toys while eating unless you plan on washing them.
- Don't let them wander around the house with food (my son eating a small bit of peanut butter cracker off the floor when he was 9 months old led to an ER visit and his Epi-pen prescription)
- Musical instruments that touch the mouth are not to be shared (whistles, harmonicas etc.)

Parents of children with food allergies appreciate your kindness and consideration! It is so stressful to be in an environment where allergens are. When there is a safe place for us to drop our time consuming vigilance and let our kids play and make friends our whole family benefits.

Does your child have food allergies? Do you have a friend who has a child with food allergies? What is living with - or near - food allergies like for you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

from scratch (help needed!)

Every time I crack open a jar of spaghetti sauce I think, I should really make this from scratch."

I've conquered a lot of items on my "I'll never be able to make this" list, but spaghetti sauce is really daunting for some reason. I make pizza sauce from scratch! Well, kind-of. I buy canned tomato sauce and paste, so I guess that doesn't really count.

I have a lot of questions about making spaghetti sauce:

What tomatoes are best?

What else do you add?

How long do you cook it?

What's your process?

How do you store it?

Making spaghetti sauce is probably a task that requires a little trial and error. I need time to get in the kitchen and figure out what to do, but there isn't time for much of anything right now.

I recently finished reading Salt Sugar Fat by Michael Moss, which made me feel like we need to cut back even more on processed foods (absolutely eating a bowl of ice cream while I type this ...).

I remember our early married years when taco night involved a seasoning mix and pre-made shells from the store. Now I make tortillas and the seasoning, and while I'd like to drop kick the tortillas down the street they taste good and it's not too difficult. I have a feeling spaghetti sauce will be the same story once I figure out a good recipe.

And if I really get a handle on the process I'll plant tomatoes in the garden next year so I can harvest them then make sauce. I love the complete cycle - from garden to food - and I love when it takes place in our yard, but it is difficult to do and very time consuming. Thus the invention of processed pre-made foods!

If you make sauce from scratch please share your process!

Friday, June 6, 2014

toddler nutrition woes

The food battles are daily and extended. The battle from breakfast bleeds into the battle at lunch, by dinnertime I've given up so J has to encourage, plead and meet resistance at every turn.

After Bennett's illness last month his tastes have changed, or something else has been altered, and he will rarely eat meat, which is one of the few foods he can have.

For a while now I've been okay with the "he's small, but healthy" idea, and I still want to subscribe to it, but I have serious concerns about his lack of growth. B is growing taller, but his weight gain is sooo slow. He's just over 23 lbs, which is great, but I was hoping for 25 lbs by now. B has energy (so much of it) and he isn't lethargic, but he is skinny. Like, I can see his ribs skinny.

And I'm so frustrated!

B takes the limited diet concept to an entirely new level. Add in his aversions and dislikes and the foods he will/can eat are few.

He will eat bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles, sunflower butter, jam, goat cheese, bacon, brown rice noodles, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, many fruits, carrots (sometimes), pizza and that's pretty much it. He won't eat hamburger, pork, turkey, or chicken anymore unless we really push it. Turkey has been a mainstay for so long, even when he wouldn't eat the others. I have a feeling a lot of this has to do with will power and stubbornness, which makes it more frustrating.

We've started making B eat what we serve, but that has consequences. Some days he is really grumpy and irritated and I know it's because he's hungry. But he won't eat what we offer and we're trying really hard to stop catering to him. We catered for a long, long time because we were so concerned about his weight, but we are trying to enforce the "one dinner" or lunch, or breakfast policy now. Many nights I suspect he goes to bed with a hungry tummy and that doesn't settle well with me.

I'm concerned enough that we're going to try a naturopath again. I hope we can find a good pediatric naturopath with a deep understanding of nutrition who practices in town. I'm already dreading B's three year check up with the pediatrician, maybe if we can bulk him up a bit this summer by seeing a naturopath I can lose the sick feeling in my stomach.

Some questions for fellow parents:

Does weight gain usually slow to this degree in toddlers?

Is your toddler a picky eater?

Do you ever want to throw all the food off the table and storm out of the room during meals?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

food! (it's all I can think about)

You know how much I hate cooking. As I develop my skills it gets a little easier, but most of the time I don't enjoy it. Having a toddler with food allergies has forced me to cook a lot more often than I would like, which I hate, but on the positive side of things, it's also made us eat a little healthier.

J is doing really well with cutting back on sugars and eating well. Me on the other hand ... Well, I'm pregnant. I had a dream about Oreo cookies last night which resulted in a 9 am shopping trip. I'm hungry all the time right now and I want to eat bad, bad things. Bennett is absolutely fascinated by my Cheez-It obsession (shameful). He calls the Cheez-Its mama (really shameful).

Our kitchen is too small for us to attain true self sufficient food production. I'm not even sure I want to go that far, but J keeps nudging the Paleo diet my way and eventually I won't be able to say, "I'm pregnant, not right now." This especially applies to the topic of liver meat, which he keeps bringing up. I know it would be great for B, but I can barely handle chicken. Right now we're about halfway to where we want to end up eventually. We have a garden, we eat fairly well, we're slowly changing our ways. 

I struggle with how we eat and what we eat. I worry that I'm not providing the best food for my family. We cut way back on pasta, but now that I'm pregnant we're eating it a couple times a month and every time we do I feel a little guilty. Sugar is a big issue for me, especially when I'm pregnant. Especially now that I can have eggs again. I think about food, recipes and menus a lot, but a lot of my time is spent finding foods for B, making food for B and preparing meals for the family. 

We used to eat tacos quite often, but the prepackaged seasoning and corn shells or flour tortillas won't work for B. This evening I made tacos from scratch - with J helping on the tortilla front - and it went really, really well. B loved the gluten free tortillas (I was going to buy from the store, but they had eggs) and we did too. He liked it even with lettuce, goat cheese and seasoned hamburger inside. For the seasoning I made a mix I found online. I was apprehensive about the seasoning, but it was good. And it had barely any salt and no MSG.

B and I picked strawberries from the garden for dessert. I added grapes and raspberries to make a fruit plate and we ended dinner with handfuls of fruit and happy bellies. After putting together a fairly easy dinner with zero iffy ingredients I feel pretty good about where we're heading and how we're doing but I'm sure I'll be back to crying over pasta in a few days.

Do you struggle with what and how you feed your family?

Gluten free flour tortilla recipe found HERE (I used coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar and it tasted great!)

Taco seasoning recipe found HERE

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

a treat for b: gluten, egg, dairy, nut free bread

Sweet, sweet bread 

B has been doing so well with our new sleeping routine. I wanted to do something special for him since he's adjusted so well and been a little trooper. He's a little young to understand the concept of a reward, but I still wanted to do something. I'm not really into buying toys as a reward, so I chose a bread baking day instead.

I found a recipe with a handful of ingredients and went to our local health food store to buy what we needed. I felt a little like a kitchen witch, buying strange ingredients like arrowroot starch, coconut nectar and teff flour. It was expensive, but most of the things we buy for B are costly.

I used this recipe, but instead of hazelnut butter I used sunflower butter. We just figured out that B is allergic to safflower, but sunflower is okay. *happy dance* We made the bread, let it rise, then I put it in the oven while he napped. The original plan was to make it after nap, but he refused to sleep then passed out in my lap at 2:00. Tricky boy climbed up, held my hand and asked me to sing to him. Five minutes later he was out. For his after nap snack I prepared a plate with plain bread, bread with sunflower butter and bread with goat cheese (finally found one he likes!) B ate it all and asked for more.

I was really pleased with the end result. The bread was simple to make, easy to slice and tasted pretty good. Honestly, it's easier than trying to find something at the store he can eat. I'll probably add this to my baking/cooking routine for him because it's high in protein and calcium, two things he desperately needs in his diet.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

the plan

Bennett is up another pound, so I thought I would take a moment to share what our plan is for him. I'll include the supplements he's taking as well since someone asked what they are. Bennett is 18.5 lbs now. IF we can get him to 20, or 21 pounds, I think I will relax a little. I'm fine with him being small, but he's gaining quickly right now which makes me think he needs a little more weight on him.

Our main focus, of course, is nutrition. Bennett eats when he wants, and a lot of the time he selects his food. I am trying really hard to solve his weight issues without giving him a lifelong food complex. All of my food rule ideas have been put aside for now. I don't schedule his meals (last night he asked for something to eat at bedtime, so we sat him down at the table and let him eat until he was full) and if he doesn't want to eat what's in front of him I let him have something else.

Bennett gets one snack type food a day (either gluten free puffs or a rice cake) but other than that his food is all real, mostly from scratch, and heavy on the calories. Some snack examples: chicken apple sausage cooked in coconut oil, dates, dried fruit, fatten the baby muffins, nitrate free pepperoni, nitrate free bacon, oatmeal with coconut oil, or full fat coconut milk, and dried fruit mixed, sweet potato, waffles. I like to have food prepared in the fridge so it's easy to stick to this plan. That's been difficult since I'm so sick right now, but J does a lot of food prep so I can just heat and serve.

As for supplements, Bennett is taking Silver Fir, four Undas (powerful homeopathics) and Glutamine. Everything he is taking promotes growth and encourages healthy organ function. Bennett is under the care of a pediatric naturopath while taking these supplements. I wouldn't recommend giving a child supplements without consulting a doctor.

I don't know what exactly is helping Bennett grow. Maybe it's a combination of things. I'm just glad it's working. In February, after that nasty flu bout, Bennett was 16.2 pounds. In just over a month he's managed to make it to 18.5 pounds. I don't feel like I can completely relax, but some of the tension and worry is easing.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

feeding b

is challenging.

He cannot have wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts or seeds.

And his doctor wonders why he's on the smaller side.

Genetics + limited diet = a 1% baby.

I always want to know what other people eat. Leave me alone in your house and I will look through your kitchen cabinets. I'm just fascinated by other people's food choices. It's not a judgmental thing; it's more of a can we be food friends? thing. And if you have only healthy, organic food in your cupboard I'm sorry, we can't be food friends. This girl likes sweets and snack foods and (gasp) boxed mac n cheese.

There are days I wish I could whip up a box of mac n cheese from Trader Joe's for B (no preservatives!). Even though the moment itself would be wonderful he would break out in a rash and be miserable for days afterward. 

I cook a lot. Me, the queen of being lazy and lover of eating out (you can hear this every month in our house: "are you sure we used up all of our restaurant money, J?") has to cook nearly every meal.

I am so glad we haven't hit a picky stage yet. I am in trouble when that happens. Right now B will at least try anything I put in front of him. Some meals I end up giving him fruit because he won't eat anything else and he will always take fruit, but most of the time he eats what I give him.

If you need food ideas for your toddler, or if you have a very allergic toddler like me, or if you like knowing what's in people's cupboards - here's what B is eating:


Hardest meal of the day. I'm always so tired and barely awake enough to turn the stove on. I was getting in the habit of feeding B applesauce and a few gluten free puffs, but that's not enough food for him. His doctor wants him to be getting meat with every meal so I've recently changed our breakfast routine.

- Oatmeal with coconut oil (I mix coconut oil with a lot of things because he needs good fats)
- Hash (I am in LOVE with this new idea I stumbled across. I throw together a whole bunch of stuff and scramble it up. Example: Bacon, apple chicken sausage, apple, sweet potato. B and J love it.)
- Chicken sausage (good preservative free options from Trader Joe's and Costco)
- Fruit (blueberries, grapes, applesauce, plum, peach, pear, apples ... etc)

I usually make a big batch of oatmeal at the beginning of the week and then feed it to him throughout. I'm going to start doing the same thing with the hash. I add flax seed to his oatmeal too. Thanks to flax seed and lots of water B has never been constipated (fingers crossed, knock on wood).


If we have leftover chicken or other meat from dinner I give it to him for lunch. Most days he gets lunch meat and a vegetable or three. I know some moms who won't give lunch meat to their little ones, but I feel comfortable with what Trader Joe's has on offer. I love Trader Joe's; I buy most of our groceries there now because they do super smart things like offer already cut up fruit and vegetables at a decent price and they have good food without a whole lot of junk added in.

- Ham
- Turkey
- Chicken
- Chili (homemade or Trader Joe's)
- Black beans 
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
- Carrots
- Sweet potatoes 
- Sweet potatoes and apples with cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, roasted (B loves when I make him this)
- Potatoes (still working on russets from our garden!)
- Lentils
- Coconut yogurt 
- Gluten free bread with turkey and goat cheese on top - put under the broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese


B usually eats what we're having, but when I get a craving and make something he can't have (like lasagna) he gets something else. I do some creative substituting too. The other night we had sweet and spicy stir fry with noodles. The noodles had wheat so I gave B mung bean noodles. He LOVED them.


- Raisins 
- Rice cakes 
- Fruit (at least one snack time he gets a banana)
- Cut and steamed veggies 
- Gluten free, dairy free puffs
- Plum Baby dairy free snacks (coconut yogurt melts and other little treats. They are expensive, I'm trying to stay away from them)
- Fruit leather

I feel like I should make smoothies for B, but I've had little success on that front. I wish he liked avocados. I've tried hiding them in different foods but he can suss out even the smallest amount of avocado.

B only has water and breast milk to drink. He still nurses five times in a 24 hour cycle, which gives him a much needed nutritional boost. B eats every two hours. Some days he eats every hour. If I forget to feed him, or if he gets hungry, he goes to the first shelf in the pantry where we store his food, stretches up on his toes until he can snag something, hauls it off the shelf and brings it to me. B doesn't care if I feed him that particular food, he just wants me to give him something. I no longer let him breastfeed on demand because it was getting a little interesting in public. B has milk at 9 am, at 1 pm (or before nap), at 6:30 pm and twice during the night.

So tell me, what's your little one eating? Food ideas and suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

fall recipe: roast chicken, two ways

September is a warm time, if not the warmest time of year in the Willamette Valley. This morning I stared at the 10 day forecast with dismay, but I know the rain will fall soon. When I did a quick read through of blog posts this evening I saw no fewer than three 'fall is coming' posts so I know it is almost upon us.

I love fall to pieces. It's my favorite season, which I've told you 1,000 times, I know. I hate cooking during the summer because it's hot and we don't have air conditioning and when it's hot I don't feel like eating. But then fall comes along and eating soup by a fire becomes not only appropriate but necessary (ten months of the year I am chilled to the bone) and hot chocolate in the morning starts to sound good every morning.

This year, as in somewhere around February, I tackled making a whole chicken for the first time. I'm 29. Is that shameful? I think it is. I found a fabulous easy recipe for rotisserie chicken in the slow cooker and I make it once a month, if not twice. I think I've shared the recipe here before. I'm so tired (mastitis, seriously) I'm beginning to think I've already written this post, but I don't think that's the case ...

So that's recipe number one. It is so easy. Go try it. And when you have that one tackled take on this next one. I found this recipe in the Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Somewhere in the last year I became someone who flips through recipe books for fun. To think, it all started with a bit of innocent meal planning.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme chicken


1- 4-1/2 lb whole chicken
2 tsp dried rosemary
1-1/2 tsp ground or dried sage
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 small russet potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced into wedges
8 large shallots, peeled
1-3/4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp butter
minced parsley


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rub chicken inside and out with salt. Combine rosemary, sage, thyme and generous amount of freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture inside chicken. Place 1 bay leaf inside. Tie legs together with string to hold shape. Brush chicken with some olive oil. Sprinkle with half of remaining herb mixture.

Place chicken in heavy large roasting pan. Surround chicken with potatoes, shallots and any other vegetables you are roasting. Sprinkle vegetables with remaining herb mixture and salt. Add remaining bay leaf and mix well.

Roast chicken until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork (about 60 - 75 minutes depending on size of chicken). Every 20 minutes or so baste chicken and vegetables with pan juices throughout cooking. Remove chicken and vegetables from roasting pan and tent with foil to keep warm (aerating so skin stays crispy).

Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup and spoon off fat from top. Add enough chicken broth to measure 2 cups. Add vinegar to roasting pan; set over 2 burners and bring to boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Boil until reduced to glaze (4-6 minutes). Add broth mixture and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.


I admit, this one taxed my brain a bit, but it was so good I will make it again. And to be completely honest, the first time through a recipe always taxes my brain a bit. To make this post even more exciting I'm going to add a third recipe: homemade chicken noodle soup. This won't be very precise because I make it up as I go along, but it's a great way to use every bit of a whole chicken.

When you've finished supper remove as much meat as you can from the bone. Place the chicken carcass in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the carcass is just covered.


Carrots and celery, roughly chopped.

Salt (however much you like).

A dash of apple cider vinegar (pulls minerals from the bone).

Fresh rosemary and thyme (if you have it, if not dried will do).

Set it to simmer for a good long while (at least two-three hours).

Remove and discard the chicken carcass (you can pull more meat from the bone at this time).

Pour the broth into a large bowl (or two) through a sieve. Or use whatever you have on hand to make sure you don't wind up with vegetables and herbs in your broth.

Put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning skim most of the fat off the top, but not all of it! Fat is good for you.

Chop up carrots and celery. Add.

Add rosemary and thyme.

Set it to simmer.

I like to let it simmer all day, but a couple hours is plenty of time.

When you are a few minutes from supper time make noodles separately and then add them to the soup. They go all mushy otherwise.

Taste for flavor. Add salt or chicken broth if you like. I only recently have managed to make a soup that I don't feel needs a bit of chicken broth added to make the flavor stronger.


So there you have it.

Roast chicken, two ways, and a soup recipe.

If you're thinking you can't handle raw chicken I promise you will be fine. I gag through the entire process, but I make it through.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

so good

This is going to be one of those annoying I'm gardening!! posts.  Apologies in advance.

But first: Yes, @Hope's Mama, this is the Pacific Northwest summer.  We wear jackets and sweaters sometimes during the summer because the weather isn't always warm.  And we spent our weekend away on the Washington state coast, which is quite chilly (it didn't get above 70°F (21°C) during the day).  This week our warmest day is predicted at 83°F (28.3°C).  And it nearly always cools down enough at night that a sweater or jacket is required.


We have SO much food in our garden right now.  I love selecting our food for dinner from the backyard. When I did the weekly shop J asked, "is that really all we need?"  And I was able to say, "yep, everything else is outside."  Oh my stars, it's exciting!  I know I'm a little bit (a lot?) lame for finding gardening so exciting, but I've never watched food grow.  I'm learning a lot, some of which I probably should have known before I was 28 (almost 29 - yikes!).

For dinner I've been serving a main dish as well as lettuce, carrots and zucchini from the garden.  Last night we harvested and ate the first potatoes.  I season the carrots, zucchini and potatoes with whatever spices will go with our meal (suggestions: olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary or olive oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning or olive oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika) and then bake or grill them (oven at 425°, bake 20 minutes then broil until crispy if you like, for the grill 15 minutes or so does the trick).

I haven't had great luck with the zucchini but the carrots were amazing in the oven and on the grill and the potatoes were perfect after a fifteen minute stint on the grill.  It's simple and easy and good for us.  I love it.

A year ago I said I would never garden, that it just wasn't for me.  Now I'm gardening (with lots of help from J) and making a lot of what we eat from scratch.  Last night I made pulled pork sliders on homemade whole wheat buns.

It was easy and really good.  You should try it!  Here's the recipes:

Pulled Pork - the great thing about pulled pork is that I can make a big batch and freeze portions for later use.  The pork we ate tonight was originally made three months ago.

Homemade Hamburger Buns - also makes great rolls.  I used whole wheat flour instead of all purpose.  And I just used water instead of making an egg wash.

And if you don't have a garden, use veggies from the store.  And if you would rather not make the buns, buy them from the store.  It will still be delicious.

I am starting to believe cooking should be fun.  I am starting to say I hate cooking less.  And I love that B is growing up playing on the floor at my feet while I cook and bake.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

friday night, pizza night

I'm sticking with our monthly meal planning.  It hasn't been easy - and didn't go perfectly last month - but we knocked out our smallest school loan on the first which motivates me to keep going.

Now that I've been at the monthly meal planning for a while I've started being less focused on having varied meals with few repeats.  Now that I've mastered homemade pizza crust and sauce I think Friday will be pizza night.

image from here

I love pizza.  LOVE IT.  When I was pregnant with Charlotte we ate so much pizza J said he couldn't look at it for a while.  I could not get enough of pizza and pasta with her, whereas Bennett's pregnancy was all about meat.  I ate SO many bacon cheeseburgers during his pregnancy it's almost shameful.

I like that we can have pizza once a week without spending much money.  And we control the ingredients! I'm getting a little obsessed about ingredient control now that Bennett is eating with us.

Here are the recipes I've been using to make dough and sauce.  One quick note, you will want a pizza stone if you plan on making your own.  I use it to bake bread on as well.

I found the pizza dough recipe on Annie's Eats.  There is also a tips and tricks page which has helped me a lot.


Tips and tricks

The sauce is from someone at J's work.  I believe they got it from a restaurant they love.  I'm not quite at the - start by growing tomatoes stage, but maybe that's coming soon ...?


1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary or basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves

Simmer 2-4 hours. Enough for four pizzas.

The dough freezes really well, as does the sauce, and it makes enough for two pizzas.  We always bake one, freeze one since it's just the three of us (and B isn't allowed pizza, darn food allergies).

This month I am going to make a double batch of dough and sauce (recipe says it's enough for four pizzas, but two and a half is more accurate for us) in one go, which means I will have four meals DONE in a short amount of time.

I'm really excited about this.  My kitchen skills are improving, but I still don't enjoy cooking. And I like being able to eat a food I love without guilt about cost or ingredients.  It's fun to make pizza together too. We talk while J does most of the prep and Bennett plays around the floor by our feet. It's good family time, and when Bennett gets a little older I think he will enjoy making his own little pizza.

If you try making your own - and I encourage you to do so! - let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

adventures in baby-led weaning

When I decide to do something I do it full force, all out, with spirit and soul.  So when we switched over to baby led weaning a couple days ago I decided to do so with abandon.

This afternoon my mom and I went out to lunch after an appointment.  B came along, of course, and he was fussy because he didn't take a good morning.  We ate at a new cafe, it was a trendy modern concrete box of a place which someone set down across from the hospital where Charlotte died.  A really random place for it, but hey, it's wine country, it works.

We asked for a high chair, but they seated us in a booth and it just didn't work.  I was like, really, you want me to put my baby, who manages to twist and contort himself enough I worry every time I stick him in one of these things, three feet below my seat?  Only I'm polite so I just asked for a booster seat.  Yeah, like that was going to work.

As soon as the food came (turkey avocado sandwiches) Bennett decided to dig in.  He was grabbing at my food, reaching for my plate, squawking.  I decided to be super cool casual mom and let him munch a bit even though I didn't have a bib.  As I told my mom, I've had better ideas.

Bennett ate a little bit of bread, smeared avocado all over the place, did his best to launch himself off his booster seat and onto my plate where he would have full food access.  He really wanted my fries, but they had spices on them so I wasn't sure if I should let him try.

Then I gave him to my mom to wrangle so I could eat a few bites.  He immediately grabbed a slice of avocado off her plate and tried to get it to his mouth.  All we could do was laugh, the situation was completely out of our control.

After our lunch adventure I realized how much Bennett loves to choose and eat his own food.   Life is interesting, parenting is interesting; it's a study in patience and listening.  Bennett may only be eight months, but he's telling me he wants to feed himself so I have to back off my plan and let him do his thing.  Super hard for this control freak, but necessary.

So tell me, how does one do this?  I have a book, but I'm still confused.  I'm concerned about allergies.  Am I supposed to introduce one food every few days like with purees?  How does that work when Bennett is selecting what he wants from our plates?  Do I just not worry about what foods we're introducing when? Just today he's had bread, avocado, broccoli and banana.

I'm totally fine tossing a few bits on his tray and letting him do his thing, but I want someone to tell me it's okay first.  I'm a rule oriented person, baby-led weaning is a bit undefined for me to be comfortable with it.  And I don't know if I have the confidence required.  I think I'm a bit afraid I'll break him, or something along those illogical lines.

I'm struggling with the mess of it all too.  I'm such a clean freak I want to wrap Bennett in plastic when he eats.  I need to buy better bibs, as well as stain remover. Any recommendations?

Thanks, as always, for your advice and thoughts.  It's much easier to ask you what to do than spend hours trolling the internet or reading a book.

To end I thought I would share this picture of Bennett:

He's sucking on lavender from the garden.  Perhaps that's taking baby-led weaning too far? (:

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I made ravioli this afternoon.  Last night after B went to bed I made, rolled, cut the dough.

I need a ravioli cutter, using a post-it-note to measure worked, but it was time consuming.  I stacked the dough between bits of parchment paper, placed it in the fridge, went to bed.

After my mom cleaned my house and helped me with shopping (I've gone to the grocery store every day but one this week; can't get it together) I put B in the Ergo and prepared dinner.

I made the ravioli filler.

I made dough for rolls.

I took the ravioli from the refrigerator, peeled it from its parchment home, filled it with spinach and cheese, brushed the sides with olive oil, placed a second piece on top, pinched the sides, set it back on the shelf.

Worship music drifted softly into the kitchen from the dining room.

B fell asleep.  I shifted him around a million times, he preferred head thrown back utter outness to neck saving resting on mama's back.

I made pasta.

I made rolls.

I didn't cry.

I wanted to, but I pushed the tears down - from my eyes to my neck to my shoulders to my arms to my hands.  I worked the pain and sorrow into the dough until I couldn't feel it pressing against my eyelids.

I made dinner from scratch for people I love.

I wouldn't have tried this a year ago.  I wouldn't have believed myself capable.

Losing her has made me more comfortable with failure.  Sometimes you try your best, you put your whole heart into an endeavor, only to watch it crumble and fade.

Results don't always equal efforts even when you follow the directions, do as you're told, adhere to standards.

Sometimes we fail.

Sometimes we fall.

Sometimes a comfortable life becomes a life unexpected.

In my unexpected I've found a new side to my soul, one that finds comfort in warm kitchens and flour soaked hands on sad spring days.

Tomorrow I will wake up, nurse B, put him on my back, prepare and bake my first cake.

I'll whisk sorrow into sugar, blend pain with flour, fold memories into frosting. And when the tears threaten to spill over I'll reach back, grab the chubby foot gently kicking my side, and squeeze until the pressure abates.

Friday, April 13, 2012

kitchen adventures

I made three new recipes this week.  What was I thinking?!  I usually try to space them out better.  My pot roast was pretty good, though I had to put it back in the oven because the first cut was rather, um, bloody.  My pizza was terrible.  The sauce wasn't bad, but my dough was an utter disaster.  I stood next to the pantry fretting and stuffing chocolate chips in my mouth while J tried to save it.  It was not a pretty kitchen moment.

This morning I prepared my first whole chicken, which is not for the faint of heart.  I used this recipe because I like the idea of popping it in the crock pot for the day and being done.

I made the spice mix, whipped it into a paste as suggested and approached the chicken.  I do not like handling raw meat, it makes my spine shiver.  I gingerly cut open the bag and reached in for the chicken.  I stopped, there would be juice, I needed to be careful.  I slowly extracted the chicken from the bag, but when it was almost out a leg caught, the bag upended, the chicken flopped onto the cutting board, juice everywhere.

Oh yuck, oh gross, oh salmonella!  I wrung my hands, grabbed a dish towel, mopped up the bit that was threatening to run over the edge of the counter.  I was wearing a robe with large sleeves because I took my long sleeve shirt off and gave it to B when he had a hard time settling in for his morning nap (hey, it worked) and I was cold.

I looked down to see one of the robe sleeves IN the chicken juice.  I decided being cold was the better option, took the robe off and dropped it on the kitchen floor. Then I grabbed the spice paste and began rubbing it all over the chicken as suggested.  Satisfied with a job well done I set the paste down and read over the recipe one more time.

I forgot a step.  Shoot.  Rub spice mixture around and in chicken.  In?!  Seriously??  I poked at the chicken a bit, stared at it with apprehension, hoped someone would rescue me.  I reached inside slowly and discovered a wrapped packet of something ... oh dear, is that gizzards or bone or ... ? I shuddered and dropped it on the counter.  Hopefully it wasn't integral to the preparation.

Spice mix in hand I stood up straight, took a deep breath in, and began seasoning the inside of the chicken.  I gagged and shuddered, completely horrified by the situation.  Unable to complete the job I fetched a basting brush and finished the job as best I could.

Want to make a wager on whether or not it will turn out?

Also: I'm pretty sure B crawled a hair this morning. He was on his hands and knees, he moved forward, then fell on his face.  Eeeeek!  I can't believe how close he is.

Oh, wait, one more also: B reaches for me now.  He lifts his arms, reaches out, grabs me, holds on, pulls himself into my lap.  Every time I think we've reached the best stage, he does something new and melts my heart all over again.


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