Life with food allergies

This morning I flipped on my computer to the discover the latest moment of internet outrage.  The Yahoo/Babble headline screamed “2-Year Old Suspended from Daycare over Cheese Sandwich.” Below the article a lengthy list of comments began with phrases like “When I was a kid, no-one had food allergies….” and “It’s just a sandwich.”

On the one hand, the school rules seem a bit extreme, allowing no outside food. I say this because I’m used to providing outside food for my child. The practice has been one of the easiest ways for me to keep her safe in a world where food can be lethal.

I wish some of the people calling out the absurdity of the policy and wondering why everyone has to suffer for the right of one person could spend a day in the place of a parent with a food allergy.  When my daughter was younger, we had to avoid three groups of allergens. Now, we are down to peanuts and tree nuts. My trips to the grocery store are longer. With produce, I have to consider where and how nuts are stored and if they are likely to contaminate produce one typically doesn’t peel.  I have to read the ingredient lists carefully and decide whether the brand is trustworthy in their description of “processed in a shared facility using good manufacturing practices.”   I wonder what their cart would look like if they did their normal shopping and then at the checkout line were asked to sort out products that cause an anaphylactic reaction.

Maybe, just maybe, if everyone did that, I wouldn’t be subjected to moans and groans when the flight attendant announces “This will be a peanut free flight” or the hateful looks from another parent when I ask if their child could please keep their peanut butter sandwich on the picnic table rather than smearing the contents all over the slide at the playground. Maybe more people would offer financial support to researching why food allergies are on the rise and what can be done to halt this epidemic. Maybe we could all enjoy a world where food doesn’t kill.

If you wish to make a change, consider a donation to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). Wouldn’t it be nice if no child were suspended for a sandwich? And nicer still if no one died from one?

End rant. Stepping off my soap box.

No Garden Fail this year

I wrote last fall about my epic garden fail and promised myself and the world I would not plant tomatoes in 2013.  We are nearly a month past the last frost date in Virginia and I can claim victory.  I have not planted a single tomato. Nor have I planted cucumbers, broccoli or peppers. We have one volunteer tomato plant and I did plant some parsley – it was a gift from the kids – but otherwise I’ve remained edible free in my planting efforts this year.

I commend myself on this achievement. I would not have been able to reach this milestone without the assistance of my husband.  He is being transferred to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  We may not be here long enough to enjoy a harvest and I need to keep most of my containers empty so they will be easier to move.  I have a good excuse to forgo the annual bursting of a dream I call backyard gardening.

Here’s the thing.  I’m already thinking how a shortened growing season will work.  Perhaps I will be able to grow cilantro once again.  Perhaps the squirrels will not dig up and destroy everything I plant. Perhaps my tomatoes and peppers will not take a hiatus because of the high heat. Perhaps I’ll try broccoli.  Maybe I’ll get a green house.  The possibilities are endless. There is always a chance the garden will work.  I’m already dreaming of next year.

Garden Fail

I hereby declare my summer gardening over.  The vegetable harvest is done.  The only thing on a plant is an inch and a half long red pepper that never grew big enough to harvest.

This year was more successful than last.  Our four cucumber plants produced over a dozen tasty treats.  The kids loved eating sliced cucumber still warm from the sun.  I wish the other plants had been half as productive.  From four green pepper plants, we harvested a single green pepper in addition to the non-grower.  Of the eight tomato plants, only the patio tomato provided produce in the form of nine two to three-inch round tomatoes.  The herbs grew and we had fresh basil most of the summer.  Still, as I assess this past season, it goes in the failure category.

Now is the time to repeat the same pledge I made this time last year.  “This is the last year I try a backyard garden.”

Eating in Iceland

When I told people I was going to Iceland the second most common response (after Iceland? Really?) was “Did you see that Anthony Bourdain Iceland episode?” Most people seemed certain I would starve during my visit and also reminded me that Anthony Bourdain called hakarl disgusting or something along those lines.  fortunately, fermented Greenland Shark was not in season. Sadly, I missed Puffin season by a few days but starving was not a possibility.  The food was actually good.

Breakfast consisted of bread, cheese, meats, tomatoes, cucumbers, skyr, muesli and lots of rich dark coffee.  Icelanders understand that if you can see through it, it ain’t coffee.  Such a yummy breakfast kept me happy.  Sometimes we stopped for lunch, sometimes we just grabbed a flaky crescent and a cup of coffee.  More happiness.

But nothing compares to the sheer joy of my dinner at Fjorubordid in Stokkseyri.  My husband and I both ordered the three course meal. Before the end of

 
 

the first course, it made my list of the top five meals I’ve ever eaten. The creamy lobster soup was nirvana. It was a beautiful shade of pink with giant chunks of lobster jutting above the brim of the bowl.  Icelanders reportedly drive hours just for the soup and I can understand why.  The quality ingredients and simple preparation let the key flavors– cream, butter, lobster, garlic and tomato–stand out.  Excuse me a moment.  I must wipe some drool from my mouth.

Okay. I’m back and on to the second course – a big pot of steamed Icelandic lobster (actually langoustinos), mini potatoes and lots and lots of garlic butter.  I’m glad they came shell on because the few seconds it took to separate the meat from the shell slowed me down enough to appreciate the firm texture of the lobster and it gave me a opportunty to get garlic butter all over my fingers.  There are simply not enough times we get the tactile experience of eating a messy meal with our fingers after we are above the age of three.  The sides, an assortment of salads and pickled things, accompanied the lobster nicely.

I finished with a big slab of chocolate cake and a cup of black coffee. It was almost too much. Almost, but not quite and that is why my dinner at Fjorubordid makes my top five meals list.  I added a handy link so you can drool a bit too.  My photos don’t do the food justice.

So all in all, we ate pretty good in Iceland.  I’d go back.