Food & Cooking

Recipes, Food Experiments and Commentary, Etc.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jay: Woohoo! 248 Going Once…

Won’t really feel the love until I’ve seen it on the scale at least twice, but this morning I was 248, down 2 from my prior low, for an even 60 pounds lost from my high, and 50 lost this year.  Still, I did a double-take, having not expected it, stomach sick or not, metabolism racing from way too much coffee yesterday or not.

09:22 AM | Food & CookingMedicalTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jay: Artificial Colors!

I managed to get a solid experiment in today to get an idea whether Henry reacts to artificial colors, which was the most logical reason he’d react to Kool-Aid and, ultimately, Country Time.  This would apparently be far from unheard of.

There is a Kool-Aid flavor, which happens to be an especially good one, that has no color at all.  They use that as a marketing coolness factor.  Maybe there are other clear flavors, but the one we’ve had is kiwi watermelon, and we had another packet.  I decided to make that the next one I made and to give the baby some, after reading the ingredients.


No.  Reaction.  Period.

If anything, he’s having an unusually calm day, except the runny nose in the morning from the diesel trains and/or honeysuckle or other growing things and/or wood smoke last night and/or dust.  He barely even got itchy as he tends to when he was ready to sleep again.  The itch sensation can cross and be confused with pain or unhappiness/discomfort, so he’ll itch, for instance, in response to tooth pain, gas pain, or emotional distress.

All he has had today has been a couple Club crackers, a piece of toast, and the clear Kool-Aid.  He’s napping at the time I’d have offered him more to eat.

He drank a large quantity, too.  When he steals Kool-Aid from the sisters, it can be little more than a sip to set him off, usually pretty quickly.  It’s gotten to where we infer he’s gotten it by his reaction.  I managed to keep theirs completely away from him, as they had the tail end of berry flavored blue Kool-Aid.

In a way, it’s onerous knowing that he reacts to at least two or three colors, but it’s also a relief to know and to be able to screen accordingly.

01:46 PM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (0) CommentsPermalink

Monday, July 07, 2008

Jay: Not the Post I’d Planned

Have to go meet a recruiter today.  The kids are crazy.

Sadie woke crying in wee hours with apparently a sinus headache.  Which happened to Valerie 24 hours before, though she’s prone to headaches and it may not have been sinus.

Henry a little while ago drank a substantial amount of Valerie’s coffee and has gone all puffy and squinty-eyed and a little rashy, but he’s also been miserable, as has Deb. and for that matter me.  People burning?  No!  Something blooming around the corner, smells like maybe honeysuckle, so strong it can be hard to sleep.

So we’re not sure how much is the coffee and how much is that.  The coffee is about 1 part coffee, some sugar and dry creamer, and 5 parts cold water.  He’s had black coffee with sugar before and not blown up, but the non-dairy creamer has dairy in it, along with whatever else, so who knows.  At least it’s not almost pure milk as it would have been before we realized Val had a problem with the milk.

Anyway, I have to go get ready to go to the Stoughton town hall for Sadie’s birth certificate to sign up for RomneyCommunistCare and decriminalize ourselves in the eyes of the state, then the recruiter in Burlington.  And other errands.

09:53 AM | BloggingFood & CookingJob HuntingKidsMassachusettsMedicalMoneyNewsHealth CarePoliticsStupidity • (0) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jay: So Last Night…

Henry got mild hives and redness on his torso from eating or dripping on himself at supper...???

Which is to say he had nothing that didn’t appear on the list I posted as a food he’s been fine with, perhaps with minimal reservations.

And he wasn’t itchy to speak of, though he’d had a recent dose of Tylenol, which helps with itching.

I’ve decided to blame that on the peas.  Specifically, juice (residual water they cooked in) from the peas, as an external action, which I have suspected before, from peas and from other things, like corn and sweet potatoes.

I’m also inclined to eliminate the lemonade completely for a while, which means we need to get some pure lime juice, or limes to produce same, and make him limeade with nothing but water, lime and sugar in it, as his only alternative to water.  Well, unless we have him drink rice milk.

I might feed him a snack of just the handful of remaining peas sometime today and watch carefully.  After the benadryl I apparently have to give him because he woke up miserable and maybe was worsened by lemonade has time to wear off.  I’ve been typing most of this while he stands holding onto my leg, crying piteously and wanting to continue being held All Day Long.

This is so frustrating.

He’s in the living room with Sadie, post-benadryl, and I realized I had more.

Supper for him last night was plain spaghetti, ingredients: wheat; leftover frozen peas; bread, ingredients: wheat, water, salt, sugar, yeast, Crisco; baked chicken, ingredients: chicken and a few seasonings on the outside, including salt, garlic powder, rosemary, savory, sage, celery, nutmeg, mostly in absurdly tiny amounts.  That was it, except I think he was drinking water at the time.

He had a big red welt on his chest where he’d have leaned on the tray, bumps lower on his belly, heaviest near the diaper line where stuff might collect, and milder bumps on his back where it contacted the chair.

I rubbed pure Ivory dish soap on his upper arm to test, no reaction, which means it’s not likely a reaction to having cleaned the chair and tray and maybe left residue.

At least part of it seemed as much about contact as about ingestion.  It was virtually gone after splashing in the tub immediately after supper.

Very strange.

08:27 AM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (1) CommentsPermalink

Friday, July 04, 2008

Jay: Henry the Lab Rat

It’s official: Henry is allergic to dairy. 

Not “sensitive,” as with the very clear salicylates thing, but break out in hives and stuff allergic at small exposure, depending which thing it is exactly.  He ate a lot of butter without it being obvious, but cheese that shouldn’t have histamines to speak of, and baby yogurt with whole milk and no flavoring, both in nothing quantities, made him rapidly and unambiguously react.  Especially the yogurt, after a day re-isolated from any dairy. 

We’d given Sadie the yogurt, after she begged for it, and since we were already 99% sure of the allergy, so we would have not fed even a little of it to him as planned.  Then Valerie had to have some too.  He got into the residue of Valerie’s a while later, and voila.  I’m glad I didn’t let him taste even a smidge of baked sweet potato, so there could be no second guessing.  Plus the reaction to too much of that would be different.

The good thing is that it’s sufficiently mild that a trace in some random food is not a major concern, and it’s something that tends to fade.

The bad thing is how hard it will be to keep him from getting his hands on bits of it, as happened tonight, when he’s not supposed to have it.  If the girls were still drinking milk, we’d have to stop.

Poor kid.  He just adored butter on his rice and toast.

Guess we can move on to the next test, after he’s had a couple days to recover.  Not even sure what the next test will be.  I don’t remember if we’d planned past the dairy, or were itching to try something else.  Probably a good idea to rule in more of the obviously no problem stuff, like barley, just to expand the yes list.  The guidance out there on what’s high in salicylates has been reliable so far, but individuals vary.  I don’t want to try eggs or peanut butter/peanuts until a year old or more.  Ditto any other nuts.

I’m relieved all the grains except corn-as-grain have been fine so far.  Corn-as-vegetable seems okay in limited quantities (which is the story with a lot of things).  He can have crackers, bread, cookies, etc. that don’t have other offending ingredients.  He can have any of the primary, non-smoked or spiced meats (won’t even try ham, sausage or hot dogs for a long time) so far.  He can have iceberg lettuce, as implied by the salicylates guides and it not being a common allergen.

Actually, I tried to do a list last week that I then forgot to take to my grandmother’s with me.  Foods Henry has eaten successfully and can have, or can/should be able to have if limited in this first list:

Canned pears in heavy syrup
Peeled ripe pears
Golden delicious apple (peeled)
Lemon in Country Time lemonade
Pinto beans
Black beans
Iceberg lettuce
White potatoes (peeled)
Green beans
Sweet corn
White sugar
Soy oil
Cottonseed oil
Rice milk
Brown sugar
Corn syrup (seems OK as ingredient in foods)
Potato chips, unflavored
Oat O cereal
Standard pasta that doesn’t contain corn as “whole wheat” pasta does
Keebler Club crackers and presumably anything similarly limited to OK ingredients
Wal-Mart store brand vanilla wafer cookies
Rice cakes (unflavored)
Bread that doesn’t contain dairy, usually served as toast
Flour tortillas

Can’t have, or must be really limited, based on experience:

Bananas (apparent allergy, not salicylates)
Pear juice
Apple juice
Grape juice
Any flavor Kool-Aid brand drink mix
Most apples
Sweet potato (probably OK if limited)
Dairy, notably cheese, milk, yogurt even plain (allergy, not salicylates, apparently caused the infamous ambulance ride)
Corn meal or flour, including corn tortilla chips specifically
Popcorn (seemed OK to have a small bit but not in quantity) (unbuttered)

Herbs, spices and other remarks

There are a mess of herbs and spices considered high in salicylates, many of which he has had in limited quantity derived from flavoring foods, to no ill effect that was clear.  I got the impression sometime early in this that black pepper especially bothered him, and perhaps red, so I avoid black and limit or avoid red in anything he might eat.  He can eat garlic and onion and salt freely.  Sometimes I cook him something plain alongside our spiced, or remove some plain or lightly seasoned and then finish.  For instance, we might have chili, while he has a burger or some steak.  I might spice beans for chili or burritos, but pull some plain after they are cooked, which he can eat for a couple days, then spice the rest.  When I made garlic and rosemary (and salt) fries recently, he ate them with us and was fine.  Thought they were awesome.  If a piece of meat is heavily spiced on the outside, I might give him only inner parts.  I’ve been worrying some about spices, but not a lot due to quantities involved, just holding back some.

He seems to have issues with some flavors or preservatives or colors, as evident especially with the Kool-Aid.  He has had a couple tastes of Jell-O and seemed fine, but it was little, and I hesitate to declare him safe for that, or safe if it’s X flavor.  Lemonade is a good one because lemons and even more so limes should be safe for him.  Well, lemon is moderate, same as a red delicious apple, peeled, or mango (which I didn’t test on him when we had one, as he had other issues at the time), but most fruits are high or very high.

It’s probable he’s having some environmental sensitivities unrelated to food.  Nothing so unambiguous that you can put him near a feather pillow and he sickens, take it away and he clears, or touch him to screen printing on a shirt and he breaks out and itches, or whatever.  Since an allergy to banana, which is possible enough we’ll test with caution, but something else may have been happening when he seemed to react to banana, can be related to a latex allergy, and since he obviously has hay fever, not much would be surprising.

While we haven’t officially given him peanut butter, initially because he’s young for it and ultimately because he has too much trouble to risk it yet, he’s clearly gotten good tastes of it a couple times from his sister and had no overt reaction.  We’re hopeful.  We might have to disown him if he were fully allergic to that.

That’s a much bigger update than I’d intended.  There are some veggies he can try sooner rather than later, but most fruits will be off-limits, especially dried or in jams or as juices.  If there is a banana allergy, that sucks because it’s one of the safest fruits he could eat otherwise.  And he loves it enough after all this time to ask for it by name.  I want to have him try summer squash.  Cauliflower should be very safe.  Asparagus should be safe.  Beets should be safe.  Fresh, not pickled.  Nothing pickled.  Caution with things canned.  We never eat it, but cabbage should be one of his safest foods.  He should be able to have pure maple syrup, which we are out of long since.  I’d tend not to give him the stuff that’s flavored corn syrup.  Corn syrup is the only thing listed as “high” under baking supplies, and one of only a couple things that isn’t listed as “negligible.”

07:44 PM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (0) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Jay: Butter

Henry tried butter yesterday, twice, with no ill effects we could detect.  He thought rice with butter on it was just amazing.

This following Deb having started eating butter and general foods that contain milk proteins, without apparent problems for him in the nursing department.

Next up, relaxing about things that contain dairy, maybe a taste of cheese that isn’t cheddar or heavily aged/veined/fermented and more subject either to salicylates or histamines, and maybe a little milk sometime, a taste to see what really happens without flavors and colors.

To be able to have mashed potatoes again would be cool.  Ditto when he has the chance to eat squash that’s already been mashed and buttered.

08:42 AM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (1) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Jay: Hell’s Dreams

I woke up from a crazy dream in which I’d been tapped to be on Hell’s Kitchen, but as far as I could tell from the orientation, it wasn’t much like Hell’s Kitchen as we know it.  Deb was picked to be on it as well, just so they could use the husband and wife thing promotionally.

I was obviously the most steady, competent person there, no imposter, which of course surprised me.  I was mainly worried, as I’d be in reality, about overcooking stuff and needing too long partly as a result of that.  It shocks me sometimes how quickly they prepare a dish or cook a given item.

We were all given a pack of spices and ingredients, ad I had trouble with mine staying closed, because it was flimsy.  That was part of a pitch for a product of Ramsay’s own design, which used right wouldn’t have that problem.

Then he dramatically told us that, as we might have guessed, don’t be surprised if we’re told a list of who will leave in what order, and just deal if we didn’t like it.  Subject to change, of course, if someone seriously exceeded expectations in their week to go.

Most of this took place in an alley behind the building where the show set was, or just inside, in a delivery and storage area.

Later he came up to one girl, a tall blond with long hair, to tell her she would be the first.  Before we even competed!  She had been picked as first to go, to which she just fell apart, which happened at the same time someone drove a delivery truck into a pallet of butter, sent it flying and smooshed a lot of it.  I tried to organize people to go pick it up and put away it and other things.  That’s when I found out that unless it was punishment, never worry about that kind of thing, as they had crew to handle it.

Then I woke up.

06:22 AM | BusinessFood & CookingTotally RandomTV • (0) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jay: So 250…

Has been my low twice now, which leaves 2 lbs to go to be down 60, and 20 to go to be where I’d be thrilled to call a stable target.

Since this is happening essentially without trying, except that some changes seem to have kicked even the effects of drug cessation metabolism change along harder, I have no idea where it will stop, or that it won’t plunge right on past any goal I might have decided upon partway through.

If 205 was actually a stable wait that maintains itself on the right diet, but which took work to maintain back when my diet was crappier, perhaps that’s where I’ll land.  I’d expect the process to slow down by then, at least.

Obviously it’d be bad if this is medically induced in a bad if not yet obvious way, but I think it’s otherwise.

What’s weird, besides shirts hanging so loosely and such, is things like no longer being able to sleep on my belly as comfortably, and the baby clearly not being as comfortably laying on me to nap as I lean back in my chair.  Which needs to be replaced, as it’s hopelessly broken, and that’s buried under tons of other priorities, like eating and keeping the utilities on and such.  A shame Valerie destroyed my spare desk chairs.

07:51 AM | Food & CookingMedicalMoneyTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink

Monday, June 23, 2008

Jay: New Benchmark

This morning I appear to be down to 251, after a previous low of 253 and a week or so steady at 255.  That puts me down 57 total, 47 this year, and puts me back, as far as I know, at least ten years in weight.

Go me!

It must have been the supper of kielbasa, eggs and hash browns last night that did it.  Or perhaps the lunch of leftover black bean, corn and beef chili (which came out so good I must make it that way more often).

My favorite T-shirts were a design called Alchemy for Dummies, essentially a wizard working at a computer.  The ones I had were getting old and ratty.  When we still lived in Stoughton, we sought to buy more by mail from OffWorld Designs, only to find they were being discontinued.  We bought some, forget how many, in a size that was available and I might hope to shrink into.  I was in the habit of wearing XXXL, so I guess we got some XXL shirts.  We tucked them away.

Deb recently said if I shrunk into them she’d even hang them dry, as I used to do with T-shirts to make them last absurdly long.

I must fit them, or will soon, even if they run small.  There are shirts I’m wearing now that have never been so loose.  Guess we’ll find out, but I want to wait until I’m good and ready.  Not like I have a shortage of shirts, and some of them are even still good.  Ooh, this means some of the dress shirts will fit better too.  Cool!

Speaking of clothes fitting, that’s the other thing.  I can get into size 38 pants.  I’ve gone from fitting a 42, if loose, through 40 to the point it’s hard to keep them up, and into 38 fitting, if a bit tight depending on the pair.  Good thing IO still have some, even if I ruined a bunch of the best fitting ones painting my apartment in Quincy.

09:44 AM | Food & CookingMedicalTotally Random • (1) CommentsPermalink

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jay: Speaking of Cheese…

Valerie has decided she loves blue cheese dressing the way some people love ketchup, and must have some every night with supper.  Apparently giving her some with salad recently created a monster.

09:24 PM | Food & CookingKids • (0) CommentsPermalink

Jay: Say, Cheese?

I’d meant to note that Henry ate cheese that Valerie helpfully gave him the other day, colby jack, with no apparent problem.  That followed a couple instances when he’d sucked on but apparently not injected anything from dried slivers of the same.  It’s the all-around cheese we buy for the sake of having some cheese in the house, sometimes.

That would fit the histamine theory regarding the cheddar.

It’s also of interest in relation to the milk he apparently had issues with being flavored, and there always being a chance it was that, as well as the possibility cheese would be processed enough to be fine, apart from the histamine thing.

He’s fine so far with everything wheat, and he seems fine with beans.  He seemed to react to something in orange Kool-Aid.  Not clear about the lemon Kool-Aid.  He’s been fine with both Country Time and generic lemonades that already contain sugar, but not with the same basic stuff in punch flavor.  I’m still not completely convinced he isn’t bothered mildly by something in Club crackers.  His skin’s been variable but overall better than ever since eliminating sweet potatoes.  The variability could be spices or stuff that’s moderate keeping it active to varying degrees.

Anyway, just meant to mention the cheese thing, which is intriguing.  It’s a good thing he doesn’t have a peanut allergy, as the girls are very helpful at keeping him from avoiding foods completely.

12:54 PM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (1) CommentsPermalink

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jay: Feeding Henry

After a few days for his skin to clear and heal, Henry is looking and acting as good as he ever has, following the clear reaction to sweet potato.  He has shown no signs of trouble with wheat, period, and is thrilled.  Tonight he had pasta.  Plain, but pasta, which he thought was cool.  He has also had:
Club crackers
A couple tastes of French bread (after seeing it was made with no milk products)
Flour tortilla, as noted
Generic oat O cereal, plain and with rice milk

He went crazy for the cereal today, in a bowl with rice milk, just like the girls had.

He has been found sucking on dry shreds of cheese twice in the past few days, where one of the girls had dropped it, with no ill effects.

In recent days he had lentils for the first time.  I cooked some of them in chicken broth, spooned some out for him, and threw the rest into soup.  Having never tasted lentils other than in soup, I didn’t realize they were so strongly flavored.  I was reminded more of some of the stronger green vegetables than of beans.

He tasted those, made a face, then apparently decided he loved them.  They were one of the things he ate for a couple days.  He tends to get a good mix.  For instance, tonight he had a bunch of ziti, chicken I’d cooked for him last night, pinto beans partially seasoned (oregano, onion powder, garlic salt, but I added stuff like pepper after I scooped out some for him), and corn.  He could have had rice, had there not been pasta.

Both of those are great additions (as are the beans, of which we are almost out), because wheat adds variety and is low cost, and lentils are low cost and nutritious and keep.

This means we ought to be able in the next day to try him with peeled golden delicious apple.  That’s negligible for salicylates and should be fine, where most apples aren’t as good.  Though I think the biggest problem might be apple juice.

He doesn’t seem to react to anything spiced since the possible reaction to black pepper one time.  I sort of half try to keep him away or modify what I use, and half just go with it.  Like the chicken, it had a ton of spice, but his was a big piece that didn’t get as doused or crisped.  He’s clearly fine with onion and garlic, which are both safe, but not without precedent as a sensitivity among relatives.  He’s also had stuff spiced with at least a dozen herbs and spices, most of which are high or really high, but as spices they aren’t consumed in quantity.  Low level?  That we can live with.

We’re low on provisions, and I need to get carrots and maybe butternut for him, and restock some meat, on which he gets priority.  I’d like to try him with summer squash, and he’ll probably like fresh green beans if I can get some.

It’s nice that it seems to be kind of in check.

07:34 PM | Food & CookingKidsMedicalMoney • (0) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jay: Wheat

Henry can eat things with wheat!  The house is pretty empty of food, but damn, that opens up so many options.  He is eating a cracker as I type this!  If it has no milk products, he can eat bread.  It totally makes up for what is going to have to be a near prohibition on sweet potato.  And again, it fits with salicylates being the problem, in which wheat is safe unless there are multiple food issues (as apparently with dairy).

Speaking of wheat, I have the urge to bake bread today.  It’s 56 out currently.  Not sure I have enough sugar.  Kids want more flour tortillas.  My first batch ever came out excellent.  That was Henry’s intro to wheat.  Reintroduction, actually.  And see, we aren’t as worried as we might be because of all the stuff he ate without having overt allergies, just eczema like crazy, which was of course the lower level sensitivities.

Anyway, kids call…

09:27 AM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (0) CommentsPermalink

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jay: Sweet Potatoes

Based on what it seems is wrong with Henry, besides a couple of more traditional allergies and some hay fever types of reactions, salicylate sensitivity, he should have sweet potato in moderation or eve not at all.

It’s been somewhat mysterious that it seemed to be one of his problem-free foods based on trial and error.

Levels can vary depending on the individual vegetable or fruit, growing conditions, how it’s prepared, phases of the moon, whatever.  Plus quantity matters, which is why some of the seasonings that are high are less an issue than they might be.

He finally reacted clearly, unambiguously, and intensely to sweet potato yesterday when I gave him a large pile of it to finish off leftovers.  I think the specific one was part of the problem, but ultimately it was about quantity.  We’ll lay off sweet potato for a while, then keep the amounts low.  Looks like it’s time to buy butternut as a substitute.

The good thing is that would seem to confirm my diagnosis.

06:42 AM | Food & CookingKidsMedical • (0) CommentsPermalink

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jay: No Birthdays

No birthdays I know of today, a rarity in June, so this’ll be my obligatory post for the day.

The car remains stranded in Sharon.  I called my brother and left a message last night, as it was rumored he could help me with it today, which is possible because Deb is on all early shifts now.  Meanwhile, I suppose I really ought to work on getting stuff for the yard sale ready, even if I have to drop it off and have it sold by others, or get a ride, or whatever.  That all hinged on having the car, but I also needed to spend pretty serious time working toward preparing.  If we can’t do much with this one, we may ask the landlord if he’d object to our having one here.  Probably not, as he seems to object to little besides having a pool for kids.  But then we’d feel like we had to ask the neighbors, too, see if they wanted to participate.  Damn politeness!

I’m trying to organize the whole “do what I can to make money from home” thing better, with some explicit unfettered time allotted me evenings and Deb’s days off.  Some things can be done in those minute or two or five interludes I get between kid demands, but I need to have them listed and planned out enough so the whole effort isn’t wasted on “so what did I need to do next?” There’s a lot more ad revenue available, and while we won’t live on that, not without serious content and traffic buildup at least, managing that is one of those little things, and boom, there’s the money for, say, utilities each month.

Posting more actively, even if it’s quick links to interesting stuff, makes the blogs more viable for ads, so you’ll see more of that.  At least on the WordPress ones, since I can post so quickly via w.bloggar, which doesn’t work with Expression Engine.  That’s about the only thing it doesn’t work with, and there’s even a version now that doesn’t use Internet Explorer in the background.  It was always annoying, that links in preview in the editor would open in IE, and of course IE was used programatically for the HTML rendering in the editor.  There’s now a version that uses Firefox instead.

One of the reasons Carnival of the Capitalists went on hiatus was the time it took me that was annoyingly uncompensated.  I miss the structure it gave each week, with a publishing schedule, but TANSTAAFL needs to rule.  I’m planning to revive it, starting with a fundraising edition, the success of which will help determine to what degree it continues, and the amount of advertising I deploy at that site.  Another project, which isn’t impossible to do in small chunks so much as it’s annoying.

Anyway, off to it.  Need more coffee, and a glass of water.  Have to keep drinking to combat the gout, which seems to go hand in hand with some swelling and water retention, duh, from getting underhydrated.

06:51 AM | BirthdaysBloggingBusinessCarsFood & CookingGeekeryJob HuntingKidsMedicalMoneyTotally Random • (0) CommentsPermalink
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