Tuesday, April 08, 2008

HR 2063 is not nearly as interesting as...

Ever heard of HR 2063? Sounds glamorous, doesn't it - maybe it needs a new name: the Toothless but a Step in the Right Direction Bill.

I ran across HR 2063 while doing research on the Eldest's legal rights, as a child with food allergies who wants to go to a local, city-run summer program. Okay, I want him to go to it. Not the point.

HR 2063 has the Sec. of Health and Human Services develop a voluntary policy (voluntary = you can opt out, an interesting option to offer) for schools whose students have food allergies. Parents would be responsible for reporting known allergies, and the students would have individual health care plans tailored for them, if they have a risk of anaphylaxis (who decides what a 'risk' means? hmm).

The bit I like is the "strategies to reduce the risk of exposure in classrooms and common areas; (5) food allergy management training of school personnel; and (6) authorization and training of school personnel to administer epinephrine when the school nurse is not immediately available." Oh, and the funding for schools who participate. Because if you choose not to include a stick, then you are going to need a carrot.

Mothers like me already do the informing and educating of the schools. Many of us start from scratch, with wholly - and dangerously - ignorant educators. Too many of those educators are so ignorant that they don't know what their legal rights are, let alone my child's. We parents push for IHPs or 504s, as necessary. We often end up teaching staff how to use the epinephrine injectors - even though this has been part of basic first aid for a good long while now. With parents carrying the bulk of the burden, it would help a lot to see this process normalized a bit. Which makes me wonder why folks like this bright bulb here call HR 2063 frivolous legislation?

Bah. Ignore the idjit who thinks that slamming others is the way to get attention. I prefer this story, instead. Is there really no federal website with useful allergy information? Yeesh.

And in case you were wondering, yes, the Eldest has the right to go to camp. But the city can wiggle (easily) out of doing things that would make it safe for him to do so. So perhaps it's best to tread lightly here, and wheedle instead of cite chapter and verse - at least before the government has a chapter and verse for me to cite.
Ahhhh, phooey.

My heart's just not in it tonight. Yep, it sucks that parents have to struggle to get their kids needs recognized, let alone met, but somehow the idea that the federal government can pass a bill like this to fix it seems..unlikely. Worthy of the attempt, but unlikely.

Let's talk about different attempts instead, shall we? Like this:

That's the Eldest, gamely trying some fresh mango in his salad. He loved it, by the way, and I have to say that it went rather well with the marinated soy-ginger strips of steak. Less eager was this young fellow, here:
That's the Toddles, eating corn in the doctor's office. Magid and I sat nearby, oh-so casually munching along with him. I'm not going to eat corn! I'm not! I'm 'lergic, the Toddles informed me shortly beforehand. Oh, said I. Fine, then - would you like some nroc, instead? The Toddles stared at me suspiciously. Ah. Here, I said to magid. Would you like a snack? The Toddles, watching magid munch, brightened immediately. Yes! I want a snack! Ah.

So, what's a mother to do? I went home, discovered that all of the steak strips were gone, and reworked my pot pie sans pie into this:
This is the newly renamed Seizing the Moment Pot Pie, a.k.a. desperate leftovers with slightly soft potatoes and a corn-happy household. And no pie crusts.

Seizing the Moment Pot Pie

1-2 Tb olive oil
2 onions, chopped pretty small
4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a big chopping knife
1 ear of corn, peeled and cut off the kernels
1 small sweet potato, slightly soft (or an elderly carrot, or both - the point is added color and flavor)
2 stalks celery, which I always buy and never use up fast enough
1 dried chili
2 sprigs fresh thyme, which for some reason I had on hand (1/2 tsp dried would also do fine)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
black pepper to taste (I like a lot, you decide for yourself)
protein: I used a package of cold cuts, cut up into teensy pieces, and a package of turkey hot dogs, also sliced into non-choking hazard bits. Yep, I still do that. The leftover steak, had we had any, would have been fine, or leftover sliced chicken. Mix and match your proteins as you will. (See below for fish protein thoughts)
1 cup water

6 potatoes, boiled. Reserve some (.5 cup? or so) of the potato water for use in topping.
1 knob margarine, or roughly 1.5 Tb (or butter, if you aren't keeping kosher/feeding dairy allergic kids)
salt, black pepper
paprika for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Saute the onion and garlic in a wok or some other high-sided pan on the stovetop. (Note: if not using non-stick, you may need extra oil.) When the onions start to brown, toss in your protein of choice. Let sear a bit, and then add remaining ingredients. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until fragrant.

Meanwhile, use your method of choice to combine boiled potatoes, margarine, salt and pepper into a smooth, mashed potato topping. Use extra potato water as necessary (or warm soymilk) to make a spreadable mixture. Tip: if you have a Kitchenaid cake mixer, the Boston Globe informs me that all good cooks know how to mash potatoes with their mixer. I didn't know that, but by glory, it works!

Pour the fragrant, happy protein-veggie mixture into a 8x10 pan. It should fill the bottom of the pan. Spread the potatoes on top (I glopped them on and then smoothed carefully. It feels like a learned skill, but one I could fake with care), and accept their irregular surface as artistic. Sprinkle with paprika and pop into the oven.

Bake for 25 minutes, while assembling green salad of choice. Serve to furiously hungry small boys, whose father won't be home for hours. Wake up the next morning to discover that there's not enough left in the fridge to make dinner on the leftovers. Dang.

Comments: have fish in the fridge, instead of poultry or meat? This should work more or less the same way, but you might want to replace the water in the filling with white cooking wine, or some coconut milk mixed with water/soy milk (or cream I suppose - it never occurs to me to use the stuff anymore). And consider this: a huge range of veggies work here, in moderation. That sweet potato could be a carrot, it could be a bit of butternut squash. Experiment as you please, but remember to think about your liquid-solid ratios. Add lots of veggies and you'll need more liquid in the filling. But have fun, and tell me what works!


magid said...

Mango! Corn! And I finally tried Veggie Booty :-).

Auntie A said...

Yay corn! And that pot pie sounds yummy...I may even attempt it despite the lack of proper of proper potato smooshing appliances chez AA.

And speaking of smooshing, you are SO on. We'll talk (hopefully) before the big P.

mama o' the matrices said...

Bah, humbug, A.A. Got a fork?

And magid, always happy to open someone's foodly horizons..

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