Sunday, June 24, 2007

blurring vision and happy tummies

I'm so tired that the screen is shaking in front of my eyes - vertigo, a neurologist friend of my father's called it once, long ago. Which, I suppose means that I'm both tired and a little overwhelmed.

It's been a wonderful, wonderful day, thanks to many people who stepped in and loved my kids while the Man was checking in on the MIL, many hours drive away. I'm glad he went. And I'm grateful to the parents of Wise Sam, who came and swept the Eldest away for a playdate, and then let the Toddles (and me!) join them later on. And to Mary Jr, who brought her entire family and loved one to dinner, helped plan the menu, loved and entertained my children and helped with the cooking. We ate well, we groaned, we admired each other and it was good.

But: the Toddles seems to be allergic to soy.

I first realized that something was off on Friday, when I picked up the enormous, stuffed-to-the-gills diaper bag that I've been hauling around. My back hurts, I grumbled to myself. Maybe I'll pull out one of the pods. (Explanation: I pack my diaper bags according to a pod system: I have a diapering pod - diapers, wipes, etc in a ziploc bag - a food pod, an entertainment pod, etc. I select my pods according to the length and type of trip, and I have two diaper bags, one big and one tiny so that adjustments within the pods rarely need to be made. It's complex but functional, like too many of my arrangements.)
NO! I roared at myself. I must have all of it.

I paused here. Why?
I paused some more, and scratched my head, symbolically. Finally, I need it all, in case something happens.
I thought this over. What did I think was going to happen? Politely, I elaborated for my benefit: The Toddles is going to have an allergic reaction.
Ah. Now I understood. Part of my brain was persuaded that an anaphylactic reaction was in the offing. That means an ambulance ride, 4-6 hours minimum in the ER, and tired cranky and hungry children needing food (thus the food pod) and entertainment (ah. Thus the entertainment pod). Fine. But why do I think that he's going to have a reaction?


By candlelighting (the start of the shabbat), I had put it together. The Toddles has had a wet, runny nose since we got to Australia. He's been increasingly picky about his food, happily eating lamb but refusing tofu and milk. No, refusing tofu and soymilk. And refusing his favorite crackers, and nursing more (to make up calories?) and he's had this persistent rash and it seems worse after his breakfast....which is puffed rice and soy milk. Ah some more. I whapped my head and called myself some names before calling the allergist. He prescribed Benadryl and a course of carefully moderated skepticism: if the symptoms are better, sans Benadryl, the next day, then it's a virus. If not, let's talk...

The Man struggled briefly, then agreed to replace the next morning's soy milk with cow's milk. The Toddles ate his breakfast happily, and his face was free of the nasty little rash. I congratulated myself. By dinner, however, I was second-guessing myself already, and by breakfast the next day, I was offering a nice, steady internal ridicule. So the kiddo got soy milk in his cereal. And hives on his face.

Oh, I'm tired. I'm so tired. There go the crackers that I relied on for a quick snack. There goes the soy milk, which offered an alternative that didn't threaten the Eldest (dairy allergy) while offering excellent nutritional value. Up goes my stress level, but worse - up goes the Eldest's stress levels, as he hates to eat something that others are allergic to, hates to have his own allergens around him and is fearful when his safe zone at home is threatened. There are choices we can make to get this all to work, but tonight I'm too tired to figure them out.

The one thing I can tell you is this: monk's curry works great with frozen orange roughy (from Trader Joe's) instead of tofu. And you can use balsamic vinegar in this instead of the soy sauce. It's not a substitution that I'd normally recommend, but it works here. I have a wee tupperware of leftovers from my giant pot to prove it. Or maybe it proves that Mary Jr's loved ones like food as much as she does. You decide.

Here's some more of what we ate this past weekend, as per Spring's request:

Saffron Grain and Roasted Beet Salad
adapted from Vegetarian Times, June 1999; finder's fees to Mary Jr.
6-8 servings

6 Tb extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Put all into a food processor and blend until frothy. Set aside.

5 small beets, greens attached
1 cup uncooked quinoa or basmati rice
water/broth (for cooking the grain/rice - check the instructions for whatever you purchase)
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2-3 bay leaves
2 Tb olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic
1-2 Tb lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Wash the beets. Cut greens off the beets, leaving a bit of stem sticking out from the top of the beets. Wrap the beets in tinfoil, and bake at 400F for about an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once they are cool, you can almost slide the peel off. Slice thinly, and toss with 3 Tb of the dressing. The beets will store nicely in the fridge for a day or so, warm before serving.
Note: to peel beets without turning your hands red, put plastic bags over your hands.

While beets are baking, prepare quinoa/rice by rinsing, if necessary. (Most quinoa is bitter unless rinsed.) Heat 1 Tb oil in a pan, gently sauteeing garlic. Add liquid, and cook quinoa/rice in that same pot. Add saffron, bay leaves to the grain as it cooks. Once grain is cooked, add remaining dressing to it.

Finally, saute onion in the last Tb of oil, until the edges are quite brown. Roughly chop beet greens while the onion browns, and toss them in at the last moment. Stir briefly, until greens wilt, then take off the flame. Toss with lemon juice and salt.

Serve in a layered style, with the rice on the bottom, beets in the middle and greens/onion on top. If making the day before, make sure everything is at least room temperature (don't heat up the greens, just make sure they're not cold) and the beets are warm before serving. Reheats nicely (although your rice will turn pink once everything's combined!) and is good with chicken.

Mama's review: a little on the fussy side, but extremely good. I'm slightly on the fence about beets, but this was delicious - and it was also yummy two days later.

Crisp! Crisp! Crishp!
note the full mouth on this one - this will silence 6-7 people. Temporarily.
adapted from Vegetarian Times, June 1999. Finder's fee to Mary Jr!
5 and 1/2 cups mixed berries, or apples, pears and berries (I like to mix my apples and pears with a tart berry, but you decide).
1 Tb lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tb rice flour

If using apples/pears, slice somewhat thinly. Combine in a bowl. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F.

3/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup teff flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder (corn-free, if necessary)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 flaxgel egg substitute (1 Tb flaxmeal + 2 Tb water, mix and let stand on the counter until thickened slightly) or 1 egg, lightly beaten
4 Tb butter/margarine, melted
2Tb water, or more as needed to moisten dry ingredients

Combine dry ingredients, then mix in wet ones. The liquids will only barely moisten the mixture, and consider using a whisk to mix them in well. Pour the fruit into a pie pan or 8x8 square baking tin, and carefully pour the topping over the fruit.

Bake for about 45 minutes, and serve warm.
note: the following intrigues, but they got my idea of 'gross' pretty much completely wrong. Still, the rest is fun.


magid said...

Damn. Not soy, too.

*yells of unfairness to the universe*

Is there any rice milk that is other-allergen free?

dykewife said...

it doesn't rain in your life, but it pours! i hope that toddles grows out of his allergies.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the allergies. Man, that must be rough!

purple_kangaroo said...

Hugs. If you need tips on avoiding soy along with dairy, drop me a note. That's one of the many things Baby E can't tolerate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe! It came out well and I have already been asked to share it as well. I think it is a keeper.