Monday, May 19, 2008

It's almost that time of year....

Any day now, NASCAR fans will start rolling in to Dover, Delaware in anticipation of the upcoming race. This year, in a addition to the bazillion "Welcome Race Fans" signs, NASCAR fans will also be greeted by Miles the Monster. Miles is the newest--and coolest--addition to the Dover International Speedway. Miles has been built right at the end of our we've gotten to watch the whole process. It's been pretty interesting. We feel a special connection to Miles because Uncle Bobby helped to build the wall which supports him. He's a very large monster! Just look at his specifics (click on the photo to enlarge!)
Here are some photos that I took the other day. We were pretty far away--I'm guessing at least 100 feet...My camera is amazing!

For more information or to see lots of photos of Miles's construction, click here. There is still more cool stuff here.

P.S. My camera is amazing, but apparently animoto is not. The video above failed to include some of the best pics! So, here the are. Remember, I was far away when I took them! They were all taken from the same place!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Allergy Amen

I know that Food Allergy Awareness Week ended yesterday...but I thought this one was too funny not to share. And, hey, it is Sunday!

There actually are Gluten-Free Communion Wafers on the market. However, the Catholic Church does not allow them. They are allowed by Lutheran, Methodist, and Episcopal Churches. You can read more about that by clicking here.
It's a pretty interesting article! Have a great day!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

I finally had my camera with me at one of Jecilyn's games. I was able to get a few shots! Here they are! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I digress....

I know I was aiming to do a post everyday about food allergies...but today I'm just too worn out. So, instead, I'll just share one of my cute Jecilyn stories. The other day Jecilyn and Treavor were playing with superballs. You know, the balls that bouncy really high. She had a ball and she bounced it. Treavor chased it and grabbed it. She snatched it away from him and shouted, "NO! This is berry expensive!" I snickered and said, "Do you even know what expensive means?" "Yes!" came the reply. "What? What does it mean?"...."It means Treavor can't play with it." Hard to argue with that....

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wheat Free Wednesday

Wow! How'd it get to be Wednesday already? And why am I not prepared with a recipe? Oh, yeah, because I am never prepared for anything...I could share the pretty yummy recipe that my cousin Josie sent me...but, since I've not tried it yet...I'll hold off on that one. This one will be a simple one...something I whipped up yesterday. I made some Pasta Salad in about 8 minutes while I was trying to get dressed and out the door for work. I just stood and looked in my pantry and made it up as I went along...I hear it was well received by Treavor. However, Treavor is the antithesis of Mikey. He'll eat anything.

Anyway, I used Mrs. Leeper's Organic Just for Kids Rice Pasta. The pasta is in adorable animal shapes! I cooked the pasta a few minutes less than the package directed and immediately rinsed in cool water. Then, I added black olives, garbanza beans, peas and broccoli and tossed in some italian dressing (Mewman's Own Lite Italian Dressing). That's it! Simple, fast, fresh and Allergy Free!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Top Eight Food Allergens

Peanuts, Eggs, Treenuts, Wheat, Milk, Soy, Fish and Shellfish account for 90% of food allergies. People who do not live with food allergies often do not realize just how much those eight ingredients are present in everyday food. Nearly all processed foods contain soy. Many contain wheat, milk and eggs. Many foods "may contain peanuts." It's just crazy!

When Treavor was first diagnosed with four of the top eight (peanuts, wheat, eggs and milk) plus bananas, I had no idea just how many foods--and even non-food items-- contained these allergens. I was already a food label reader...but I usually just skimmed the label to look for things like artificial colors, artificial flavors, partially hydrogenated oils, and high frutcose corn syrup. But, now I needed to pay attention to every little word. And, I had to make sure that others paid attention as well.

I was surprised to find wheat in my daughter's play doh. I was even more surprised to find it in my shampoo and conditioner. One would think that Cheerios--which is referred to on the box as a Toasted Oat Cereal--would actually be oats. Nope. Wheat in there too. Soy sauce contains wheat. Tomato soup contains wheat. Twizzlers contain wheat. Most rice mixes (Rice-a-roni, etc) contain wheat. Some seasonings contain wheat...Once, my friend brought over rolls for a cookout. He said, "Look, I got Potato Rolls!" Nope, first ingredient still wheat...It's been a challenge...but one I feel good about. I'm pleased that I am learning and am able to help others learn even if it's just in a small way.

To that light, I'd like to share this little story. Jecilyn is pretty aware of Treavor's allergies. She looks out for her little brother and will tell others about his allergies. She once told my friend Diana that she wasn't supposed to have peanut butter in her kitchen because Treavor was allergic. (Seriously, is this kid four?) The other day Treavor, Jecilyn and I were all cuddled up on the couch watching TV. There was a commercial for Beneful Dog Food.
You can watch the commercial by clicking here. As we were watching, Treavor got all excited--probably because of the dog--and pointed at the TV. Jecilyn turned to him and said, "No, buddy, you can't have that. It has eggs and wheat." Now, how totally sweet is that!?!? She didn't get that it was a dog food...but she knew it had wheat and eggs!

While you grocery shop, or even while cooking this week, take a moment to read a few food labels. Notice just how prevalent those top eight are in our everyday foods! Have a great day!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Food Allergy Awareness Week

May 11-17th is Food Allergy Awareness Week. I am going to try to post some information everyday this week. This is a subject about which I knew very little just one short year ago. I've come a long way in just eleven months! And, I feel it's important that others are made aware of the dangers of food allergies. So, I'm trying to do my part!

This is just a quick Public Service Announcement!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

This is a bittersweet day for me. So glad I have my babies...But not having my mom really sucks. This is a picture of my mom, Jecilyn and me. Unfortunately, I don't have one of her with Treavor. It was one of those things I'd get "next time." Who knew there wouldn't be a next time....

Here's a great poem I found. It's as if it was written for me. I don't know how my mom did it..and I wish she was here to tell me how! She made mothering look so easy!

Everything Mom

How did you find the energy, Mom
To do all the things you did,
To be teacher, nurse and counselor
To me, when I was a kid.

How did you do it all, Mom,
Be a chauffeur, cook and friend,
Yet find time to be a playmate,
I just can’t comprehend.

I see now it was love, Mom
That made you come whenever I'd call,
Your inexhaustible love, Mom
And I thank you for it all.

By Joanna Fuchs

Here's a picture of Chris, my dad, my mom, me and Jecilyn:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dovington Horse Training Farm

A few weeks ago we went on a field trip to Dovington Training Center and Miss Ruth's house. It was a pretty cool place! Here are the photos I took! Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wheat Free Wednesday

Jecilyn had a Grandparent Tea at her school this week. Parents were asked to bring in a dozen cookies for the tea. I remembered that last year there were a lot of grandparents who couldn't eat the cookies because of diabetis. There are also some children at the school with allergies to eggs and milk...and one little boy who can't eat gluten or sugar. Also, Pop Pop Al and Aunt Teffie need to watch their sugan intake. So, I was on a mission. I thought that I would attempt to make a cookie that was safe for everyone...No wheat, gluten, eggs, milk, cholesterol, or sugar. This was going to be a challenge...but I was up for it. (Of course, I also bought some premade cookie dough just in case.)

I decided that Oatmeal Raisin Cookies would probably be the best way to go. I started by scouring the internet for recipes which substitute Agave Nectar in place of sugar. The first recipe I found was Elise at Simply Recipes . At the bottom of this recipe was a link to this one at Altered Plates. This recipe includes instructions for using Agave Nectar in lieu of the sugars. Great! Now, all I had to do was get rid of the wheat, gluten, milk and eggs....No problem! Ha!

So, I used 1/2 cup of Earth Balance Buttery Spread to replace half the butter. I also used Spectrum Naturals Organic All Vegetable shortening to replace the remaining half of butter. .

All right...I'm on a roll. This is easy! The original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour. Gluten free flour is SO expensive. So, I made some oat flour (Stuck some oatmeal in a food processor!). I used about 1/2 cup of that. Then, I used a cup of Whole Food's 365 Organic Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.

Ok, now, all I need is an egg replacement. This is an easy one. I've done this before. No problem....Or so I thought. I tried to use Knox Unflavored Gelatin and warm water. I'm disgusted by gelatin since my dear friend Beth educated me on just what that is... GROSS! If you want to know, click here....I'm not going to tell you! But, I've used it, I'll try it again. NOPE! I'm not sure exactly what happened...but I ended up with a great big ole nasty gelatinous blob of disgustingness. OK, no big deal. Plan B. Scoop out the aforementioned nasty blob and move on.

It's funny. At this point, I thought What Would Emily Do? Emily Hendrix is the author of Sophie Safe Cooking. As you may remember, she is my inspiration for trying to cook and invent my own recipes! Anyway, I thought about it. Emily probably would have used Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Powder. As I stood and stared into my pantry...I decided that I'd just use white vinegar. I didn't want the flavor to change too much., I've got all the ingredients mixed and in the bowl. They smelled really yummy...but they looked disgusting. They were VERY sticky and difficult to shape. I felt like there was more dough left on my hands than on the cookie sheet. Hmm. I'll just stick them in the oven and wait it out...

Patience is a virtue. It's just not one I have. I started messing with the batter while the first batch was cooking. I added some more gluten free flour. I just shook it in. And, then some more. Then, I played with the dough and it seemed to be a good consistency. Ok! This is good! So, I took the first batch out of the oven. I tasted one. They were actually REALLY GOOD. The subsequent batches were good too...but not as good as the first. Oh well...

Everyone that tried them said they liked them. Treavor absolutely loved them! I let him eat them for breakfast two days in a row. I figured, they contain only natural and healthy ingredients. Way better than petroleum laced Lucky Charms or Pop Tarts some kids get! Here's the recipe the way I made them:

1 cup gluten free flour (Whole Foods 365 Organic Brand)
1/2 cup oatflour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger,
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/2 cup Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening
1 1/2 cups Agave Nectar (I used Trader Joe's Brand)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 cups rolled oats (I used Quaker Quick or Old Fashioned. Do NOT use instant.)
1 1/2 cups raisins

1 Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or waxed paper. (I didn't do this--I used Pampered Chef Baking Stones!)

2 Either by hand or with electric mixer, beat buttery spread and shortening until creamy. Add agave nectar; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat vinegar and 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

3 Mix flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, cinnamon and allspice together in medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into the "Butter" and "Sugar" mixture. Stir in oats, raisins and optional walnuts.

4 Working with generous 2 tablespoons of dough each time, roll dough into 2-inch balls. Place balls on parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each ball.

5 Bake until cookie edges turn golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool on cooling at least 30 minutes before peeling cookie from parchment.

If you try them...let me know. Thanks to Deb at Altered Plates and Elise's Simply Recipes for the recipe!!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Old Dover Days

THe First Weekend in May is Old Dover Days in Dover, Delaware. This year the festival celebrated its 75th year. It's a festival which celebrates Colonial Times. Maypoles are erected on "The Green" (Center of Town), and several school children do maypole dances. When I was about three, I danced with my preschool! Lots of people dress in period costumes...and it's just a fun fun day. Last year Jecilyn's school (St. John's Early Learning Center)was in the parade. They participated again this year. I helped with the float and the costumes for the boys. It was fun. Jecilyn and I needed dresses. Of course, I don't sew. So, I called my mother's best friend and asked her to help. Aunt Cathy did a super job on our dresses. I took a lot of pictures and am working on a slideshow...but I wanted to get these up ASAP so Aunt Cath could see them! THANKS! (And thanks to Mom Mom Ginny for putting the finishing touches on them!)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fun Food Friday

I know it's been a long time since I've done one of these. My creative juices have no been flowing. Or, perhaps they've been flowing in the wrong direction.... Last night we had Octopus and Seaweed for dinner. Sounds Yummy, huh? Well, it must've been because both kids scarfed it up!

The octopussies (octopi?!?!? What is the plural of anyway?)are hot dogs. I used Trader Joe's all beef hotdogs which contain no preservatives or nasty nitrates. Before dropping them in the pot, I sliced them halfway up to make legs. When you boil them, they curl.

I started by dumping a bunch of parsley in a pot of water. I also added broccoli, carrots, califlower, and a few string beans. I would have liked to use spinach, but I didn't have any--so I made do with what I had. I stuck the veggies in, boiled the water, added the pasta (I used Quinoa which is gluten free!), and the hot dogs and let it boil for a few minutes. Place the veggies and pasta on the plate--top with the hot dog...and VOILA! You've got Octopus and Seaweed! Cute, huh?

(PS: Octopuses is the correct plural!)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day!

It's May First! That's May Day! Now, unless you have gone to Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, that probably doesn't mean much to you. I am a proud graduate of Washington (Often pronounced WAR-SHIN-TIN)College. And, maybe not so proudly, a four year participant in their May Day Festivities. My level of participation increased each year, and by my senior year, I was..well, totally free.
So, what, you ask is May Day at Washington College? Let's see...WIKIPEDIA describes it as such:
It is a Washington College tradition to celebrate May Day (May 1) by liberating oneself from one's restrictive and oppressive clothing and partying desnudo with fellow students mostly by the flagpole

Yeah...Naked. I was naked. Geez.

As a freshman at Washington College...I wasn't quite sure if this was something that was true...or if it was akin to the lies that you hear upper classmen tell freshmen all the time. You know, telling some poor schmuck, "Oh, yes. I'll help you...Go right down that hall. Make a left at the pool and then head up the stair. First room on your left." When the one story school has no pool.... I thought maybe it was like that....

I had an English Paper due on May 2nd. I was assiduously (Pun intended!) working on my paper...and I was irritated because I'd waited too long to do it...and even more irritated that it was for Professor Bennett Lamond--who, legend had it, had started all this May Day nonsense to begin with. I heard some noise in the hallway. Then it came...a knock on my door. "Um...come in?" The door opened. And, there were Five Naked Theta Chis. Steve "Hutty" Huetner and William "Ice" Halagarda were two of them. I cannot seem to remember who else was there though...Gimme a was 19 years ago!

Anyway...I decided to go and explore the activities! And, oh what fun!

I did end up finishing that paper. Well, kind of. I didn't exactly do the assignment. We were supposed to write a paper on this stupid book called Palefire (I think). Professor Lamond was good at giving us completely vague paper topics. And, when you asked him, "How long does the paper have to be?" his response was always the same..."Write until you have exhausted all possibilities and then begin to write." What kind of crazy answer was this?!?!?

Anyway, we had two choices of topics for this paper. We could either write about the homosexuality in the book or the heterosexuality of the book. I decided NOT to write the paper at all. In my defiance, I wrote--maybe eight pages--about how I wasn't writing this stupid paper about this stupid book. That this professor that assigned it was nuts to expect a class of freshmen to turn in a paper the day after this crazy tradition which he had started. And, that the book, really, was all about that stupid tradition anyway. And, I proved it...

Good ole Bennett loved it. I got an A+. In fact, I think I got As on all the papers I wrote for him. Oh, no, once, I got a B+. It was a paper on The Postman Always Rings Twice. The paper began, "I refuse to write a paper about The Postman Always Rings Twice because...."I think it was maybe three pages double spaced in 14 point font with inch and a half margins. Benny wrote, "You could have refused to write even more."

I probably still have those old college papers around here somewhere. If I can find some of them, I'll post them here. They were fun!

Here's a link to an article about May Day.

And here's a picture of Professor Bennett Lamond.
He's the one on the left. Have a great day! Go get naked.