The Children Are Revolting

A week’s worth of pinto beans were bubbling on the stove as I chatted to my sister about what might be causing Max’s <redacted out of respect for your gag reflex> diaper situation. By the end of the call, we agreed that a.) I should remove legumes from my diet to see if that helps, b.) Tobias’ pinto bean consumption was about to skyrocket, and c.) it’s super awesome to have a sister who wants to know the details of your kid’s poop.

I must have been feeling both virtuous and hungry when I made the grocery order earlier this week: the produce boxes arrived this morning bursting with sun-sweet cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, mountain peaches, and figs. Items in the box that are still part of my diet as of today’s 4 pm doctor’s appointment: figs. Max’s new temporary pediatrician says that it’s not a good idea to eat stone fruits if you want your little not-thriver to thrive. It was poor timing, just as we’re building to the peak of stone fruit season, but it’s not a disaster. Let me tell you what a disaster is. A disaster is me making lunch for Frida’s pre-pre-pre-K today and deciding to add a pound of turnips to an otherwise unobjectionable lentil stew.  Spoons hit stew and stew hit mouths and then… chaos. As several kids literally went running for the door, my daughter among them, one mother explained that turnips are too different for children and that most adults also do not enjoy them. I put on my game face and quickly made some date-sweetened oatmeal, which was a HUGE hit (relatively speaking.) Other lunches I have made for these kids: carrot-raisin-cheese empanadas, vegetable pie on a polenta crust, and a Spanish tortilla using sweet potatoes and some excellent smoked paprika. Number of said kid meals enjoyed by anyone besides a little girl named Martha (who is in a growth spurt and will eat anything): 0.

Next time, I’ll be making fucking macaroni and fucking cheese and it will be fucking awesome. And even if I have a leftover smidge of blue cheese, or some anchovies that might lend a nice umami note, or some chia seeds for bulk and digestive regularity, I will not add them. I will ask Bruno for his most kid-friendly cheese, probably something in a young Gouda, and I will limit the seasonings to a single bay leaf. I may allow myself the addition of a few florets of lightly steamed broccoli, but that’s it. Well, maybe a few peas. And a scattering of diced red pepper, for color. And maybe some tuna, for protein? Mmm, and some rye breadcrumbs on top, they go well with bland cheese and tuna… No! No, Betsy, constrain yourself. A simple, straightforward dish of béchamel-based cheese sauce atop overcooked macaroni, presented in an elegant yet functional deep blue enamel baking tray, with an abundance of slightly overripe stone fruit for dessert. Yes. Victory will be mine.

p.s. why, yes, I have started reading Game of Thrones! Phrases like ‘whisper of silk’ and ‘rippling leather’ and ‘queen’s stunted brother’ keep running into each other in my head. I’m referring to doing laundry as ‘leading my banners into war’. It helps.

p.p.s a soy-dairy-and egg-white-free recipe for the weekend: Banh Mi. Sandwiches made of spicy little pork meatballs on a bed of cilantro and spicy mayo, topped with a pickled carrot slaw. Delicious, and picnic-ready! I used kohlrabi in the slaw with the carrots; it was crunchy and very tasty. If you’re making this for a group of  ten 2-year-olds, double the recipe, leave the sriracha out of the mayo, and give yourself a good slap in the face before making fish sticks instead.

We’re Alive!

If you’re here for soy-free, egg-free, dairy-free treat ideas, you’ve come to the right place! Remember how I wasn’t eating dairy so that we could see if Max’s problem was due to a milk protein intolerance? And how he felt a little better when I wasn’t eating dairy, but not great, so I thought that wasn’t the problem and started eating dairy again? And how then he lost weight? Remember that? Well, it turns out that having a milk protein intolerance doesn’t mean that you’re NOT allergic to soy or dairy or gluten or strawberries or fabric softener or the incessant accordion music drifting in through the windows from the street below. Let’s play…

Pick Two

As with your better construction companies, an allergen-restricted diet can be a combination of two of the following three things: cheap, quick, and good. In the recipes below, figure out which two (cheap, quick, good) are featured, and which one isn’t.

Freshly Squeezed Juice – made from the full contents of the crisper drawer, this juice featured beet, parsley, carrots, apples, and a somewhat forlorn-looking cucumber. It took me ten minutes just to get the various juicer components out of the cabinet, never mind assembly, usage and cleaning, but the juice was delicious and the ingredients are almost free this time of year. (cheap, good, not quick)

Garbanzo Beans Straight From the Can – yup. There are some times when a conference call is looming and I need something to eat that I don’t have to think about. Luckily, these have about nine thousand milligrams of sodium so although they are pretty disgusting, they’re not totally disgusting. Bonus: Frida loves them! As she loves anything with a million mgs of NaCl. (quick, cheap, not good)

Really Excellent Teas: If tea is a treat food for you because you can’t even eat soy-based ice cream, go for the good stuff: hand-rolled, lightly jasmine-scented, full-leaf teas that are sold by the gram because if you calculated the price per pound you would fall over dead. (quick, good, not cheap)

Now that you’ve got the hang of it, imagine me during a recent trip to the weekly market asking the great French delicatessen for my usual slice of pate when I remembered to check to make sure that it didn’t contain milk or eggs or soy. After the Frenchman stopped sneering at the possibility of soy coming anywhere near his pate/brioche/excellent brie, he explained that the pate contained butter. We both cast our heads to the side, taking a moment to ponder the prospect of a pate-less week. But wait, he said, I have something for you: liver of goose! He cut off a slice, rang up the bill, and I walked home with a packet of straight fois gras, the real deal, which I proceeded to eat, a mouthful at a time, straight from the fridge. (Easy, great, not exactly cheap.)

So, yeah, I’m not eating a lot of soyburgers these days but I can’t complain.

In Max news, he’s gaining some grams per week which means that we’re monitoring and not intervening. Genetic test results come back late next week, and we’re enjoying his smiles and giggles in the meantime. He and Frida are starting to be ridiculously cute together – she holds his hands and sings him the time-to-eat song she learned at playgroup*, and he lunges at her face in an attempt to eat her? smooch her? slime her? Some combination, probably.

Other dairy/egg/soy-free foods:

  • Pho – it’s asian, sure, but not soy-sauce-asian. It’s fish-sauce-asian, which means that it’s soy free! I had to read the ingredients list about nine times before believing that something with so many ingredients didn’t have any of the soy/egg/dairy triad
  • Barbecued pork ribs – surprisingly, given its various additives, ketchup doesn’t contain any of the offenders
  • Gazpacho – happy July!
  • Liverwurst – which is a good thing, because I accidentally ordered a half-kilo of it AGAIN this week. That’s a lot of liverwurst.
  • Red beans and rice – from the Cuban recipe on Do you think I can substitute liverwurst for the bacon?
Sure, there are lots of foods that are still on my list of things to eat, but ordering at a restaurant is a bit of a challenge. Food allergies, intolerances, and avoidences are not so common in Germany. Tobias, the kids and I were out for lunch at a nice but local place where we eat a couple of times a month, and I was talking to the waiter about making sure that there weren’t any eggs, dairy, or soy in the burger I was hoping to eat. The four-top next to us, upon hearing this conversation, absolutely busted up: Did you hear that lady talking about soy?! She doesn’t eat eggs! And no milk, either! No butter, no cream, no yoghurt, no ice cream. Ha ha ha, she will eat a napkin and call it lunch! Ha ha ha.
Good news: my German’s getting better, and, at 12:30 on Saturday in the year 2013, someone in Germany made a joke.


*otherwise known as day care except that a) I hate the idea that she’s in daycare  – it’s just not what I imagined we would be doing right now, and b) full-morning parental presence is required 1 day of every 5 and the me-less sessions are only a few hours each morning so it’s less ‘I have discharged full responsibility for my firstborn daughter and heir’ and more ‘hey do me a favor and play with my kid while I dash to the store for some bread’.