And then everything changed

About the same time I “temporarily” closed this blog 14 months ago, I also learned I was allergic to dairy.

Oh. God.

Goodbye cheese.
Goodbye milk.
Goodbye ranch dressing, ice cream, most chocolates and butter.
Goodbye yogurt (yes, even yogurt)
Goodbye store bought bullion and bases and broth.
Goodbye non- kosher meats (seriously.)
Goodbye goat cheese. And sheeps cheese and “moisturizing milk and honey” soap.
Goodbye margarine and sour cream and canned soups.
Goodbye baking and cooking as I knew it.

A lot has happened over the last year, but most importantly, Matt and I have completely relearned how to make food. And make it good. Really good.

So from now on, that’s what you’re gonna find here: dairy-free recipes that taste like you’d expect on this blog.

Dairy-free recipes everyone wants to eat.

I will leave the old ones up, too. Just because I can’t eat them anymore doesn’t mean you can’t. But all the new ones will be completely free of whey and casein.

 

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Yeah. Then that happened.

It’s been a busy couple days on the farm.

Logan had his braces put on Monday, only to discover an abscessed tooth… So exactly 2.5hours after getting braces on his lower teeth he was having emergency oral surgery to yank out a tooth that was rotted to the root.

So what did I do in those 2.5 hours? I fed him a milkshake and three cookies.

I was like, ” Here! Eat! All! The! Sugar!”

All! The! Sugar!

EAT IT! ALL! And drink it, too!

This is especially remarkable because I don’t give him sugar. Ever. The kid doesn’t even have boxed cereal or instant oatmeal. The kid hadn’t had a cavity. But now he has an abscessed tooth.

Logan asked if getting his tooth out would feel more like a Tarantula bite or a cobra bite. I told him neither. He said, No, on a scale of tarantula bite to cobra bite, how much will it hurt?

Umm. Here, eat another cookie. I had bought extra and stuffed them in my purse for just these sorts of questions.

Eat your feelings, kiddo.

So I call my awesome boss, explained I won’t be in bc of unforeseen circumstances, and take Logan on to have his procedure where upon looking in the kid’s mouth, our ( beloved) dentist says:

“Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s an emergency” and motions to his assistants to bring all. The. Numbing. Medications.

I’m gonna need more milkshakes and cookies now. Stat.

The tooth was in such gross shape the dentist insisted on putting it in his special Tooth Fairy Priority Same Day Delivery Drop- Box at his office ( aka the bio hazard box)

“oh yeah, we have a very special box for teeth like these”

He told Logan he would attach a note with his address and not to be surprised if the tooth fairy delivered early. Which is of course exactly what happened. Logan got home and almost immediately found $5 under his pillow BEFORE EVEN GOING TO SLEEP! Amazing.

Tooth fairy pays a premium on teeth yanked the same day a kid gets braces, you know.

Logan refused to eat dinner ( for obvious reasons) and woke up for school the next morning in pain but rushing because he really wanted to see his friends. He cried when I told him I was keeping him home until he ate a full meal. Which he thankfully did at lunch.

I took him to school for the last 90 minutes of the day so I could at least have time to clean the house.

I did that. He got home from school and I thought I could finally have a minute to sit down on my couch and thumb through the latest Oprah magazine.

That’s when our Alpaca, Asher, looked in at me on the couch.

…Through our living room window.

And spit on it.

Asher, it would seem, has an opinion of Oprah, and it’s not positive.

I knew at that moment, as only a woman getting side-eye through the living room window from a herd of loose alpacas can know, that my day’s work was actually just beginning. The alpacas had escaped and were about to eat the neighbor’s rose bushes, kick the other neighbor’s dog, and inflict a never-before-imagined plague of biblical proportions on the neighborhood, at a trot of 17 miles per hour.

Luckily, I still had cookies in my purse.

Adventures of Logan: Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

Out of the 19 kids in his class, Logan received just nine valentines at the class valentine exchange party last week. The kids were supposed to bring in a valentine for everyone. Logan had. He painstakingly wrote out each of his classmates’ names, picking out the valentines in his super- hero valentine variety pack for each kid. “Avery would like this one, I want to give that one to Seth…my teacher likes this color, I will give her this one…”

Logan is a thoughtful kid.

He’s super tender- hearted. Omitting a classmate would never cross his mind, in fact, since his super-hero valentine pack had 15 more valentines than he had classmates, Logan addressed the leftover valentines to the principal, his music and art and science and PE teachers. The librarian. The guidance counselor. Kids in other classes. He wanted everyone to know they were special to him.

If kindness was a superpower, Logan would wear a cape.

So it made me physically ill to watch Logan’s spirit crumble as he counted up his valentines and realized he’d been snubbed by half his class. My little superhero had been defeated by meanness.

Matt and I asked if there were lots of absent kids that day.

No.

Had he left the missing valentines someplace? Maybe in his desk? Backpack? Maybe they are just lost?

No.

Maybe the other kids’ parents just didn’t know that was the day they were supposed to bring the valentines in?

“Mom, they sent home, like, a million reminders, remember?”

We told Logan how there are lots of kids at his school who are less fortunate than we are, that can’t afford the three bucks to buy a box of valentines, and how they probably really appreciated his generosity; he should be glad we can afford a box of valentines, how fortunate and lucky that makes him, us. How making others happy makes us happy, and isn’t it sad that some kids couldn’t feel that joy that comes from giving valentines?

That seemed to help, but it was mostly a lie. I just don’t know how to explain bullying to a second grader who not only wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s repeatedly tried to save dying, twitching bugs by placing them in a special container and bringing them food and water. The almost- dead cricket he found over Christmas lasted a week beyond its expected expiration date because of Logan’s care.

…certainly poverty is an issue for one or two classmates, and perhaps another one or two’s parents forgot it was the day of the valentine exchange, and someone was sick… But that doesn’t add up to half the class. Logan was snubbed, purposefully excluded, and I am at a complete loss for how to explain that kind of meanness.

What kind of parents raise kids that do that?

Not my neighbors.

When the “super cool” fifth grader that rides Logan’s bus saw Logan was upset that day, and found out what happened, she decided she had to do something to cheer him up. She used her own money to pick out a special gift for Logan, a card and some candy, then surprised him with it on Saturday.

Honestly, Logan thinks this girl is so super-awesome-amazing-cool that if she’d just said “hi” to him it probably would have been enough, but she went the extra 30 miles round-trip from town to make a difference for him. She saved Valentines Day and the heart of a little boy.

Logan was over-the-moon. I was completely humbled and blown away. What an amazing young lady. The world needs more kids like her. I want to raise a child that does that.

So today, after bringing this young lady a Thank You card and gift Logan had worked very, very, very hard to pick out (8 stores and four hours), and once again being amazed by the young lady’s grace and poise, Logan and I drove in to town so I could get to work…

In the car on the radio was Taylor Swift singing ” Mean.”

I didn’t even know Logan knew any of the words. But he knew all of them. He sang each one with such conviction I started to cry.

I pretended I had allergies and wiped my eyes while Logan sang from my back seat.

And sang.

And sang.

And I was so thankful to know people that raise amazing kids, and so sad that not everyone does, and hurt that my son knew the difference at 7 years old.

I don’t have to explain that some people are mean. He already knows. And he knows that it doesn’t have to be like that. That the kindness of one trumps the meanness of ten. And that’s power. A superpower, even.

Recipe: Black-Eyed Peas and Greens

God Bless the Whole Foods.

On our last visit up to Louisville to go grocery shopping, a WF staffer was preparing a black bean and collard greens stew, handing out samples. As a rule, we’ve always been impressed with the recipes Whole Foods features, and this was no exception. Logan even liked it.

But, while Matt loves ‘greens, and Logan will eat them, I hate them. The recipe had to change if we were going to use it.

So we changed it. Several times. And now we all like it.

This recipe is extremely healthy, quick (if you’re using canned beans or already cooked some the day before) and affordable. It uses items already in my pantry (win!) And what I had to purchase (dried beans, collard greens or cabbage) are pretty cheap.  The recipe also makes enough for leftovers, and the next-day version of this dish is almost better than the fresh-off-the-stove one.

Collard greens have a tendency to be bitter, whereas cabbage cooks up sweet. Swapping one for the other completely changed the overall taste to something our whole family likes.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 red onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 head of cabbage, cut (or a bunch of collard greens…but the cabbage tastes better)

1/4 cup water

1/4 tsp salt

3 cups cooked black-eyed peas, rinsed and cooked* (see notes below)

1 cup no salt added tomato sauce

1/2 cup vegetable broth ** (see notes below)

1.5 TBSP hot sauce

2.5 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1.5 tsp smoked paprika

DIRECTIONS

Sauté the onion and garlic in a little broth until translucent. Add the greens or cabbage, water and salt. cover the pot and cook the cabbage/greens about 10 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas, tomato sauce, broth, vinegar and hot sauce and stir to blend. Cover the pot and let cook for about 5 minutes more. Salt and pepper to taste. 

* For good step-by-step directions for converting dry black-eyed peas in to cooked black-eyed peas, go here

**To make your own vegetable stock (And at $4/32oz for the organic stuff you really, really should) go here

Recipe: Logan’s Favorite Stew

I’ve made this beef stew a few times in the last two years, made some adjustments, and recently stumbled on a combination of ingredients that made Logan ask for three full bowls of it and then request that we also have it the next night. And every night after that.

It’s easy, it’s healthy, it’s cheap. And tasty.

…about the ingredients: We use Pomi tomatoes (comes in a box) because they are BPA-free. The taste is also superior to canned tomatoes. They are available at Whole Foods and on Amazon and might be available in some other grocery stores, though I’ve never seen them anywhere but Whole Foods.

…We use organic vegetables.

INGREDIENTS:

1lb round beef steak, cut in to 1″ cubes

1 box Pomi diced tomatoes (24 oz…)

2 cups water*

3 cubes Beef Bouillon*Use Kitchen Basics Beef Broth to make dairy-free (or your own, homemade stock)

*OR 3 cups beef broth

2 potatoes, diced

3/4 cup dried minced onion

4 carrots, chopped

1 15oz can green beans, with liquid

1 15oz can whole kernel sweet corn, with liquid

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/4-1/2 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in large crock pot, stir,  cover and cook on high 6 hours.

That’s it. Really.

Enjoy.

Recipe: Chicken Pot Pie

No pictures available because we all ate it wayyyyy too fast. Everyone had seconds, including my good friend who only eats rabbit food. That should tell you something.

My husband asked that I make this every week.

I used a new pie crust recipe–one that is flakey and really delicious. It’s a keeper. You will need to double that recipe if you want to use it for this.

This chicken pot pie recipe is modified slightly from one at allrecipes.com

To make dairy-free: Swap Soy-Free Earth Balance for Butter; So Delicios Original Coconut Milk for dairy milk; Homemade or Kitchen Basics chicken stock for other stocks that may contain traces of dairy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed (I just used leftover cooked chicken from a roast chicken the day before)
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 potato, chopped/diced small
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4tsp poultry seasoning
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/3 cup whole milk
  • ADDITIONAL CHICKEN STOCK for boiling vegetables, see below

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
  2. prepare pie crust, pre-cook bottom crust for 10 minutes.
  3. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add chicken stock to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  4. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions and diced potato in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.