To entertain six adults and one child after dinner.
Near the end of a long and difficult evening Clara looked up at me with a face full of frustration, pulled herself up tall, swelled up her chest and said:
“Well, Dad makes better pancakes than you!”
Which is true.
Once we were done with our “pancake discussion” I laughed my way downstairs and made a batch of this (http://ourladyofsecondhelpings.com/2012/02/02/super-bowl-snacks-sugar-and-spice-popcorn/) Sugar and Spice popcorn.
I’m planning on saving her some.
Any girl who can make me laugh (though she certainly didn’t intend to) after such an evening is worthy of a popcorn treat tomorrow.
Besides, when Clara is “discussing” things with her Dad she might need to know that her Mom makes way better popcorn than he does!
So, perhaps without too much trouble you can imagine that my own mood is dipping south of Merry Poppins territory and headed more toward Evil Monster Mom land.
Unsurprisingly Evil Monster Mom lost her cool this afternoon shouted at Clara during lunch:
“Clara, get that pork chop off your head and sit back down at the table!”
Fortunately, though I didn’t let Clara know it, the humor in it struck me enough that instead of implementing my plan to run away from home to someplace childless and sunny I have instead decided to eat all the chocolate in the house.
… for now….
Let me just ask you something.
Have you ever looked at a young child while eating and thought, “Hmmm, you know what would be great? If that kid comes over here and smells my food by putting their nose directly on it. Yup, that’d make this meal just about perfect.”?
No, of course you haven’t.
Because nobody wants anybodies nose on their food.
But, we have this food smelling thing going on in our house.
You know, the thing where Clara can’t eat some kinds of food so she just sweetly asks to smell them and then it breaks everyone’s heart so everyone lets her smell her food anyway even though it’s rather odd.
Well, now she’s becoming more demanding: “I smell it with my nose on it?”
(The answer to that, in case you were wondering is- NO.)
But, there are times when Clara doesn’t ask, and my food gets nose smelled before I get a say in the matter, which makes me less than happy.
And if a certain sweet girl happens to throw a giant fit over the fact that I will not let her smell anything else with her nose on it and I catch her in the act of nose smelling another of my food items anyway – that’s when it happens:
“YOU CAN ONLY PUT YOUR NOSE ON ONE THING OF MINE A DAY!”
That’s me, raising children one ridiculous edict at a time.
Tonight we dined alfresco.
But it’s hard to really enjoy the moment when you know that the reason you are at the picnic table is because earlier in the day roughhousing kids broke your kitchen table. That’s right the kitchen table, and if you are like us the kitchen table is the table which leaves us with the picnic table and crossing our fingers for nice weather. Thankfully the weather was nice when I went to serve lunch, unfortunately I had used the picnic table to stand on when I painted the clothes line posts, never moved it back and it was still way in the back of the yard. As I walked all the way out there with two plates full of food I stepped in a hole that my rotten dog dug that I’ve never filled in and hit the ground with food flying. (Leaving me, as my mother pointed out, wishing I had filled in the hole long ago. My procrastination tendency and horrible lawn maintenance are long standing bad habits that I’ll tell you about some other time.) So that, and the fact that table breaker number two pooped outside next to the table, (Another long standing bad habit that I’m trying much harder to break.) convinced me to drag the picnic table back to the house. Then as I was dragging the picnic table I stepped in the same g-d-hole as before except this time instead of throwing lunch on the ground I threw myself on the ground with a picnic table on top of me.
So, I picked myself up, made sure all my parts still worked, thanked my lucky stars no children heard my thoughts on dog holes and picnic tables, made a mental note to fill the holes (which in case you are wondering I haven’t done yet) and got on with fixing dinner.
…making it far easier than one would guess to forget about a rotten day and enjoy dinner!
Now perhaps when I’m done icing and elevating my foot/ankle/leg/oh-my-goodness-don’t-ever-fall-in-a-hole-under-a-picnic-table I should be back to walking normal and I can go fill in those holes…
Tonight John and I spent close to two hours making dinner.
Hamburgers with cheese sauce and, get this, buns.
We used ingredients from three different grocery stores.
I raised a duck for it’s eggs.
John shot a deer for the burger.
It turned out great.
First hamburgers we’ve eaten in ages.
Clara friendly hamburgers.
I gotta tell you, I love the girl, but two is not a good age.
Eating on a diet without wheat, corn, rice, oats, lamb, green beans, chicken…. it gets boring.
Fortunately we are starting to successfully add foods back into Clara’s diet (Hooray for tomatoes and cane sugar!) but it’s a slow process.
As exciting as tomatoes are the food we are eating is still pretty boring. Venison roast with vegetables sounds great, unless you eat it at least once a week. Poor Ivy has been begging, for pizza, noodles and dessert and so I’ve been looking and sleuthing online trying to come up with something different. Trying to do a regular Google search for recipes was frustrating. Even using different cooking websites and their recipe sorters was hard, lists of recipe names that I then had to open and double check ingredients seemed like a great idea but was tedious to carry out. Then I found Pinterest. While I’m still a little sketchy on the point of the whole thing and have no plans of creating my own Pinterest account (because what would I do with it?) I discovered you can look at things just from the Food and Drink category. There you can see pages and pages of good looking pictures of food. The brilliant part? I can glance at a picture and make a much better quick guess if it will work than looking at a recipe name. So as long as I can avoid drooling over the oodles of lovely looking food we can’t have I have been able to sort through and find some new ideas.
We’ve tried Honey Chipotle Turkey Meatballs, which were excellent though next time we’ll be making the sauce separate on more of them, it was “too spicy” according to Ivy. Then I found Chocolate-Covered Katie and Clara friendly dessert made a more regular appearance and life was good.
Previously making dessert was more of an ordeal, we had found a good chocolate cake recipe and a few good cookie recipes, but very few quick desserts or easy snacks. Last week we made Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Cookie Dough Dip with just a few differences to make it Clara friendly. Clara and Ivy helped me dump the ingredients into the food processor and blend it up. I opened the top, told Clara that yes she could taste it and turned to get a bowl. When I turned back she had two handfuls of it.
Needless to say the Cookie Dough Dip was a hit!
I feel I should also mention that this dip has a base of chickpeas.
I have never willingly ate more than a single bite of a chickpea containing food before.
Of course I also never had them with chocolate chips.
Chocolate, it makes everything better!
For awhile now I’ve been meaning to write about Clara and her food issues but it’s not that fun of a story.
Lots of crying.
In summary I shall say this:
Clara has a pile of food sensitivities, she has had them her entire life and we are still working on figuring things out.
Perhaps we can get into the gory details of how we found all of that out later but I’m not up to that post tonight.
Since Clara has always had issues with food, she’s always had to avoid foods and eat differently from others. While it’s been difficult, Clara has known for a very long time that she can’t have anything with dairy in it and now accepts that some foods will hurt her belly. When faced with such a food she doesn’t cry or scream or pout. She just asks, “Me smell?” and so long as you let her smell the forbidden food, she’s happy.
It’s completely heartbreaking.
It’s also caused us to re-name many things to make it easier for her to tell what she can and can not have.
We have butter and we have “Clara butter.”
We have cheese and “Clara cheese.”
We have raisins and “Clara raisins”
We have sugar and “Clara sugar.”
We have oatmeal and “Clara oatmeal.”
Creative aren’t we?
Most of our diet has changed to comply with what Clara can and can not tolerate, and because of it we’ve been eating very healthy. Lean meat, veggies, whole grains – we’ve got them. Of course we are only human, so Ivy, John and I gleefully scarf down Clara unfriendly food whenever we get a chance.
And it bothers me.
It bothers me that I have to tell Clara that she can’t eat foods. It bothers me that the rest of us sneak food when she isn’t paying attention. It bothers me that we sometimes eat different food at dinner than she does. It bothers me that she misses out on the snack at story time. It bothers me that I should be grateful that she (and we) are eating so healthy but that I’m just resentful of the restrictions on my cooking. It bothers me that we have to skip doing things with people so we can be home for meals. It bothers me that I can’t magic her problem away. It bothers me when we mess up reading ingredients and she pays for it. And it bothers me every time she says “Me smell?” and insists that I eat the food instead.
The benefits have outweighed all of the problems in planning our meals and life around her current restrictions. Even my own emotions, that seem to have firmly attached themselves to the issue, are nothing compared to the improvement we’ve seen in Clara. She is a different girl than she used to be – a much happier one, and so we carry on with the crazy diet.
But it’s still not easy.
This week Ivy was leaving to play at a friends house. (You know, one of those things that could be called a “play date” but I refuse to call it such because the term irritates me all to pieces… but that’s a different story). Clara was very sad that Ivy was leaving and so I promised her that we could make a treat once Ivy was gone. Without hesitation I was informed that she wanted “Clara donuts.”
A little recipe sleuthing and I discovered that donuts have nothing in them Clara can have, but we went to the kitchen and started substituting.
Clara flour, Clara sugar, Clara butter, Clara eggs… I think the only thing I didn’t substitute out was the baking powder and the nutmeg.
I had dumped the dough out and was dubiously staring at the brownish mass I was supposedly making into donuts when Clara looked up from her beater licking and said:
She was right. We had successfully made a treat for Clara that I didn’t have to worry about her eating and that she was loving. It was better than good. It was great. And the donuts weren’t bad either!
Due to the nature of John’s job (synthetic organic chemist who makes pharmaceutical drugs) and our little farming venture, we often confuse people.
Those who know of John’s work first are shocked to find that we also pasture raise chickens.
Those who know we sell free-range eggs are sometimes slightly horrified to find out John is involved in the pharmaceutical industry.
Somehow this all has a tendency to spill over in the assumptions of the food we eat. Of course being assumptions, they are almost always wrong and mildly irritating.
Tonight I’d like to set the record straight:
… almost exclusively meat that has been raised by us or shot by us,
-except when we eat at McDonald’s.
….a large amount of seasonal food,
-except when I just really need a bunch of grapes.
-except when we eat 30 lbs of clementines from Spain.
…Diet Coke, lots of Diet Coke,
…no dairy products (especially if your name is Clara),
-except when we do (unless you’re Clara).
…Tostidos Salsa con queso (when Clara is asleep),
-and homemade salsa.
…no prepackaged food,
-except corn dogs.
…98% of our meals after making them from scratch,
-except when we get Chinese food.
-except when everyone but me eats a bag of pretzels.
-except when we don’t.
So – now you know.
It used to concern me, this crazy dichotomy of food, (Were we turning into crazy hippies? Were we poisoning and malnourishing our kids when we fed them a hot dog?) but now I’m good with it. We eat at McDonalds and when I’m at the big supermarkets I make my food choices the best I can for my family, our budget and our beliefs. Sometimes I get funny looks when people find out I choose my butter on the basis of where it was made and I don’t come close to having the approval of the hard core, local, organic folks, but it works for us.
I’m going to continue raising my pastured chickens and as I admire them running around living the good life in the sunshine, I’ll take a swig of my Diet Coke and all will be right in my world.
Then someone will ask me if I saw on T.V. how Diet Coke would kill you.
And I’ll tell them no I don’t have a T.V.
And the assumptions will start all over again….
For years my husband has been calling me a “crackpot.”
I hate to admit it but among his various reasons for this some might have an element of truth to them. There is one topic though which I refuse to admit to the “crackpottedness” of my ways, Macaroni and Cheese. I am a firm believer that regular Macaroni and Cheese is disgusting. It is slimy, watery and in general something that should only be fed to small children (I make them eat all the food I don’t like, but that’s a different story) Spiral Mac and Cheese is totally different. Spiral Macaroni and Cheese is something that pregnant woman’s cravings are made of, it’s more robust, with very little slime and tons of cheesy goodness crammed in all the ridges.
I love Spiral Macaroni and Cheese.
I hate all other shapes, I will not eat them.
John being a man and willing to put almost anything dead in his mouth thinks this makes me a “crackpot”. I feel I just have a more discerning palate. One night as I was unjustly accused of being a “crackpot” for this very reason we conducted a brief phone survey of our friends but than accused each other of only calling people who would agree with us… both were guilty as charged. But now I have a blog, and over in the sidebar there is an intriguing option called “polls” so tonight I thought I’d give it a try.
What do you think?
Are you a “crackpot” too?
Or is John right and I am a “crackpot”?