The night before Thanksgiving I sat at my table planning my meal and felt sentimental. I’d made a mental note of all the things I needed to do over the next 12 hours. I’d estimated the time I’d go to bed and what time I’d need to get up. I’m set for our feast.
Now today Thanksgiving, I’m feeling a bit sentimental this year. More so than others. Thanksgiving growing up was always a big, correction a HUGE deal. I have so many wonderful memories. You see, I grew-up in family very different from the Walton’s. I don’t have many fond memories of growing-up. Except on Thanksgiving. I loved Thanksgiving. It was a time when everyone, almost everyone was on good behavior. There were very few arguments, language was appropriate, and smiles were on everyone’s face.
I lived next door to my grandma for many years. I loved being so close to her. Thanksgiving was her time to shine! We rented out the basement of our local church. She’d spend all day baking and cooking along with the other woman in the family. They made two to three turkeys, two different stuffings and all the fixings for well over 50 people. Everyone who’d ever been part of our family came to this gathering. Heck, even those who weren’t really IN our family came. I’d spend most of the day at the church playing with my cousins or “cousins” (you see if you spent much time around us, we made you family. So I had A LOT of cousins). My grandmother shined in the role of head cook. Even when she couldn’t cook the whole meal, there was never any question who was in charge of the kitchen. I looked forward to being one of those woman, taking on the responsibility of cooking and cleaning.
Then one holiday season, my grandmother passed away. She was the anchor of the family. People drove long distances to see her and eat her food. During that unfortunate holiday season, my Thanksgiving was lost. The large family gatherings were gone. My grandmother, the queen of the kitchen, no longer ruled. I had to find a new Thanksgiving.
And I did. We started a tradition of the Day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Dinner. We had all of our friends come over on black Friday and I cooked a turkey and ham. And don’t forget all the fixin’s. I loved it! Not only was I cooking and entertaining for 50 or so people but I had the opportunity to see friends I’d not seen for most of the year. It was great!
Then kids came. With my daughter I kept up the tradition for a couple of years until the year my mom was sick. I stopped. Really just intended to not do it that one year since there was so much on my plate. But then my Little Guy was born during the summer. Although we didn’t know his Thanksgiving about his food allergies, we weren’t sleeping much. I honestly didn’t have the energy to try the meal. That year my husband and I decided we were not in the season of life to be hosting a large dinner. Secretly, I was devastated. My Thanksgiving was once again lost.
I felt more frustration and devastation once we found out about Max’s food allergies. I felt like my Thanksgiving dream was completely gone. And that first year, it was. I was so focused on making traditional food. I worked twice as hard as I’d ever worked cooking and baking for 50. I clung to my dream. I knew I could do it. Looking back now, I see my Thanksgiving ideal was lost.
Now, three years into food allergies, I’ve found a new Thanksgiving. Yes, it’s not the one I’d originally wanted. Yes, some of the usual food had to be forgotten or re-designed. But that’s OK. My new Thanksgiving Day is me cooking a bird and safe food for my little, wonderfully imperfect immediate family. No there’s no large, loud family or friend gatherings. I am content. I am blessed. I am grateful. I’ve found my new Thanksgiving.
Isn’t it funny how we start off one way and God takes us another. Through some tears and feeling lost, he puts us back on the path. He’d helped me to adapt and create a new tradition. It’s not the same as a few years ago, but it is good. In a few years, our tradition may change and we may be comfortable with the Little Guy’s allergies to start planning large gatherings again. However, until then, I’m enjoying this holiday just the way it is.
Just like Thanksgiving, our lives have changed because of the food allergies. Sometimes it’s frustrating and tiring. Sometimes I feel like I can’t manage. But then I’m reminded that I can. I can handle this. Life is different, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I am grateful for the challenge of food allergies. I am giving thanks for my learning opportunity.
I’m going to enjoy a piece of pie and a cup of coffee. I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Remember, our plans may change but we can always find a new Thanksgiving!
What is this world coming to?!
Kristen Bartkiw, a mother of two in Manitoba, Canada was fined $10 for not including Ritz Crackers in her children's lunches! She was sent a note from her children's daycare center telling her that the lunch she had provided for them was unbalanced and lacking in nutrition according to Canada Food Guide rules. Because of the horrendous nutritional value they deemed the lunches had, they kindly provided each child with a supplement of Ritz Crackers to make up for the deficiency.
Both of my kiddos are in dance. Every other year our studio puts on the Nutcracker and this is the year for it. So we are in the middle of Nutcracker season. This years production seems like it’s scheduled early being the weekend following Thanksgiving. The extra and last-minute rehearsals have started and we now have very hectic schedules. I will apologize now if I seem a bit absent over the next several weeks.
With the last-minute rehearsal changes, finding food to eat is a bit more of a challenge. Last week alone I had one kid at the studio 5 days. Boy do I miss the days when I could just swing through fast food and grab everyone a burger…wait did I just say? Despite not following a food allergy diet, we hardly hit fast food. But, it sure would be nice to have the option.
Last Friday, was one of my two days off from dance. I should’ve taken this time to make a more complicated meal. But I didn’t. I just wanted to eat something quick and spend some time with my family, all at the same time! So, I searched my cupboards and found two packets of Lemon Jello and decided on this recipe. I’ve made it before, but surprisingly hadn’t posted it yet.
Here it is:
Tangy Lemon Jello Chicken
6-8 Chicken Breasts
6 oz Lemon Jello
3 TBS melted DF Butter
1 TBS Dijon Mustard
1 Small Onion chopped finely or 1 TBSP Onion Flakes
Mix together Butter, Lemon Jello, Dijon Mustard, and Onion. It will become a thickish paste (mine has been thicker with the dried flakes then with the fresh onion). Place chicken into the crock pot. Paint the chicken breast with the Jello mix. If frozen chicken cook on low for 6-8 hours, if chicken is thawed take about 90 mins off that time.
My kids love this one. The chicken turns a nice yellow color and has a bit of a sweet and tangy flavor to it. My picture doesn’t look all that great, but the meal is fantastic.
What have you been cooking? I’d love to hear all about it!
So, I’m pretty late entering this and I do apologize. A week ago Wednesday (the 16th), my little guy went in for his allergy testing. We met with the allergist who continued to feel very positive that we’d get some more food back. Overall, the last six months have been good for him. No real bad reactions just a couple of contact ones causing a rash. Despite now starting to have some itchiness, he’s skin looks amazing. After our appointment we went down and had the blood drawn.
Now, this little guy could put a lot of grown-ups to shame with his calmness to lab draws. He sat patiently on my lap and stick his arm out for the guy. When he was poked his only complaint was “ouch”. He watched the blood leave his arm and go into the tubes. When it was all done, he frowned at the man and simply said, “You hurt me”. And that was it! I’m so proud at his ability to do things with very little complaining. It makes the tests so much easier!
(I know this picture seems a bit odd here, but this shirt reminds me of how amazing he is with these tests. He is a champion.)
On last Monday, the office called with his results. I know….I’m really late. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, they usually mail me the results and I wanted to have those so I could make one post vs two. Two, I’m still waiting to wake-up from a dream. What they told me feels a bit surreal. I think the office forgot to mail my results since I’ve not gotten them yet. Instead of waiting longer to announce the full results, I’m gonna give ‘ya a run down what I know.
A drum roll please……..
His results were amazing! Yes, let me repeat that….they were amazing! I’m still a bit in shock because starting the beginning of next year, we will be doing food challenges on not 1 or 2 foods, but 3 foods. Yes, you read that right! Food challenges on 3 of the big ones! The first one will be a baked egg challenge, followed by a baked milk challenge, and ending with a baked wheat challenge. Each of these will require me to make something and bring it to the office. We’re doing them at the office to help ensure safety. I’m guessing he must still be a 3 on the scale but since I don’t have the written results, I can’t confirm that. The nurse also feels very confident that in the spring we will challenge the peanut allergy.
Now, we did get some bad news as well. We tested for tree nuts since his mango came back negative last time. This was to confirm we could safely give him mango since it’s closely related to a tree nut. Well, he came back allergic to several tree nuts. So, we can now officially say he’s allergic to tree nuts. This doesn’t change anything we’ve been doing since we were avoiding all nuts.
Although it hasn’t completely sunk in yet, in this house, we’re feeling pretty optimistic. I’m very hopeful that by Easter next year, he may be enjoying some regular dinner rolls with his ham! Only time will tell. I do want to take time to thank everyone who prayed for us and/or sent some positive thoughts our way. I do believe in the power of prayer and thank God for these wonderful results.
Last month I heard the craziest thing…..you can eat pumpkins! Yes, apparently they’re not just for carving and roasting pumpkin seeds. Let me say that one more time in case you’re responding like I did when I heard the news….You can eat pumpkins! And, not just the can form in a pie.
Well, let me clarify that. You can eat some pumpkins. Although one could argue you could probably eat all pumpkins some just taste better. But I’ve not and don’t plan to try eating one of the large pumpkins. I’ll stick to one of the little pumpkins known as sweet pumpkins, pie pumpkins or baking pumpkins. Yup, those little 2 lb pumpkins in the produce aisle are the ones you can eat.
You do want to be careful when picking a pumpkin. Look for one without blemishes or warts on the outside. Pick them up and search for one that feels heavier than it looks. The first one I picked had a tiny little hole in it which made the pumpkin rotten. So, really look them over!
I wasn’t really sure what to do with the two I had. So I decided to experiment a bit.
I cut and removed the seeds and stringy stuff from my pumpkins. I then diced the pumpkins removing the skin. I placed the diced pumpkin pieces onto a bar pan.
The first time I seasoned it simply with some seasoning salt and baked at 400 until the pumpkin was soft- about 35-40 mins. The second time I sprinkled the pumpkin with cinnamon and sugar and baked as the first one. The third time I used a little brown sugar and cinnamon; baking the same as the others.
I really liked all three ways. My family, mostly the kids, preferred the sweeter versions of the pumpkin. The brown sugar had a great little carmelized texture to it. It was really good that way. I honestly liked it all 3 ways. I’m curious, have you made pumpkin before? If so, please share how you cooked it.
This has very quickly become a family favorite. I’d never had thought I could make anything similar to this until I found a vegan mayonnaise that’s not only safe for the little guy but it’s also really good. I would swear by it compared to the traditional. I do recommend you check out Vegenaise. There are several different options, we’ve found we like the light green lid one. I’m hoping to try out the flavored ones sometime.
Without further ado, I present to you Mayonnaise Chicken
1 1/2 pounds Chicken breast
1/2 cup Vegenaise
1/2 tsp Dill Weed
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Seasoning Salt
Pre-Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a gallon size Ziplock bag, crush about 1 cup of Cornflakes. In a medium bowl, mix together Vegenaise, dill weed, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper, Seasoning Salt. Dry chicken completely. Cover in the Vegenaise mixture. Place in the cornflake ziplock and cover in cornflakes. Place on shallow baking pan. Bake for 35-45 minutes.
It’s a nice simple recipe. The chicken is moist with a nice flavorful sauce. Everyone loves the “crunchies” or cornflakes. If you like a little more zing, you can squeeze
Have you tried anything new? I’d love to hear what you’ve been cooking.
I had my first ham ball as a kid at church camp. I loved them and probably ate like 4 of them every time they were served. No one at home-made them. So, this made those little balls, a sweet treat! Unfortunately, I outgrown camp. It was several years before a friend told me she could make them. Oh, how excited I was to go have dinner at their house.
Well, now fast forward about 10 years. I’d not made them since that wonderful dinner at my friend’s house. Recently, I decided I really wanted ham balls. Most importantly, I wanted to make them safe for my little guy. Guess what i found out….they’re crazy easy to make. And the recipe makes a lot. We could freeze some but by the time I and the kids eat several, we have just enough for left overs.
So, when I’ve got a gem like this, I must share.
Here’s my super easy Ham Ball recipe. I do hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
2 Lbs Ground Ham
1 Lb Ground Sausage
1 1/2 Cups Allergy-free Crackers (we use these)
1 TBSP Oil, vegetable
2 Cups Brown Sugar, Packed
6 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
2 TSP Ground Mustard
Pre-heat oven to 350. In a large bowl mixed together ham, sausage, crackers and vegetable oil. Once well mixed, form into balls and place on a bar pan. In a smaller bowl,mix brown sugar, vinegar, and ground mustard. Drizzle brown sugar mixture over formed balls until desired coverage. Bake in oven for approximately 40 minutes.
I served mine with baked potatoes and pumpkin. This would also go really well with baked corn. I had intended on posting a picture of my finished product, but we at them all before i had the chance! Oops! Trust me, these are worth trying.
Have you tried anything new recently? I’d love to hear from you!