Food & Cooking

OMG Yummy!

I’m turning into a Chobani addict. I have yet to meet a flavor I don’t like. And it’s even got actual nutrients in it.

Made. Of. Win.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Pictures


Valerie turned six recently.

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As you see a hint of above, she and the other kids recently got a lesson about roughhousing in the stairwell…

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Valerie is in kindergarten and doing pretty well, though a lot of it bores her, and while she’s extremely bright, she is differently so than her prodigal sister. The broken arm is her left, which wasn’t good, since she is overwhelmingly left-handed. She seemed to like all the attention, though.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

More Allergies?

As is well known, Henry has allergies to bananas, dairy, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts, and when he was very young was sensitive to salicylates, azo dyes, and some aspect of screen printed ink on many of my T-shirts. He is gradually easing on the egg and milk fronts, in that he can eat foods into which those have been baked or cooked thoroughly, and can eat foods which have been fried in butter, or that contain butter or sour cream cooked into them.

The girls never had evidence worth noting that they might have allergies. Until now.

Valerie had classic allergy symptoms after eating a peach, skin included, and getting the juice on her skin. She had also drank “peach punch,” a favorite juice we sometimes buy the kids when it’s on sale for a dollar per half gallon, but I discount that as a direct factor, with reason. Turns out that onset of peach allergy can be a symptom of the onset of birch pollen allergy, naturally manifesting in the spring, and common in our neck of the woods. Processed, peaches or peach juice might not trigger that the same way a raw peach, skin and all, could be expected to, or so I gather.

It has been several months since we needed Benadryl for Henry – approaching a year, perhaps. It took a solid dose of it – initially I gave her a lighter dose based on what I remembered giving Henry when he was younger – but that and washing thoroughly cleared it up. A bit slowly. She had hives all over her belly, was extremely itchy, was red around her mouth, and had one eye get red and puff up almost closed.

I called the doctor’s office and they lined up a prompt appointment with the allergist. Early next week will be busy! Sunday there’s a beach get-together the kids and I are going to, centered around a friend visiting from Oregon. Monday Valerie has two sessions of evaluations at the kindergarten, seeing just what help she may need with school and how she should be placed. Then we have a brief get-together with someone I haven’t seen since 1976, visiting from Minnesota.

On Tuesday afternoon it’s Valerie’s allergy testing. Should be interesting, since she’ll get a battery of them, and they are notorious for showing allergies that have never been seen to exist in actual practice. Like my grandniece with the peanut allergy that isn’t. Which I suspect may be true with Henry, since that’s the one thing he never showed signs of at all. In his case we won’t take chances, though.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

Allergy Visit

So yesterday was Henry’s annual allergy appointment, which turned out a bit unexpected, as the doctor decided not to retest him this year. He’d like to wait until next year, at which point he’ll be to the point of maybe growing out of the ones that are commonly grown out of before adulthood.

Things have been going well, so just keep doing what we’re doing. He’s had no signs of any new ones that needed testing. There was no answer to the question of why his tree nut allergies showed up positive without our having had evidence he was allergic to any of the ones in the suite. Macadamia is not part of the testing. He broke out after sucking the salt off a macadamia, and it could have been cross-contamination or something else. Also, he had eaten most tree nuts, and showed a reaction to what he’d had, in proportion to how much he’d had it, but none to what he’d never had. If I were going by observation, I’d say he was allergic to milk, eggs and bananas, not the peanuts or tree nuts, yet those are the most dangerous, traditionally, and also the easiest to avoid.

I was able to report to him that he was correct about Henry eating things with dairy or eggs cooked in. He can eat cake, brownies, donuts and bread with those, for instance, and we no longer look at whether red sauce has milk, as some unexpectedly do. If it is flavored with cheese, duh. If it’s “traditional” flavor, why would I expect milk? But there it is!

I still have to pick up the eppy pen prescription, waiting at Walmart, which I’ll swing by tomorrow. In effect, that was what the appointment was about. Which is fine, though I was already curious about what a retest might find – if there’d be a breakthrough.

At the risk of having to reschedule it or whatever, I made an appointment a year ahead. He goes back, and gets the retesting next time, April 12, 2012. Subject, of course, to any need to change it for scheduling or insurance conflicts.

Food & Cooking Kids Money

Not Sure I Will Ever Get Used To…

Buying almost a loaf of bread per day! It’s just crazy. The actual usage is probably about 3 large sandwich loaves per 4 days, 5 days if we’re on a slower streak or eating outside the house a lot or whatever derails the sandwich singularity.

Food & Cooking Medical Money

Frugal Guy Cook

Of possible interest to the person or two still reading and in case you missed this , I have started a new food blogging concept to replace the old Married Guy Cook. Now it’s the Frugal Guy Cook. Besides food and cooking, it will incorporate shopping, saving money, cooking for fickle kids and coping with allergies.

Check it out, and by all means, links are welcome.

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Teeth and Acid and Gas, Oh My

Due to genetics compounded by parenting errors and circumstance, all three kids require a mouth full of dentistry under general anesthesia to fix their teeth, relieve pain mainly in Valerie’s case, and set them up to get through to their adult teeth and do better with those. They’ve gotten better about brushing. We’ve all but eliminated drinking things with sugar, and thrown away the sippy cups. Oddly enough, the youngest was the one most comfortable using a regular cup, and most willingly ready for the change.

Valerie has massive cavities in rear molars, and has had a course of antibiotics on suspicion of infection.

She has a long history of flipping moods like a switch, dropping into full blown irrational tantrum mode for no apparent reason. That includes asking for random this or that, then vehemently not wanting the same thing she asked for. I’d wondered if she had sugar crashes and maybe had a food-related issue that way. A snack could help, after all, if she calmed enough to eat it. I’d wondered if it was a psychological thing. It was a matter of time – not much time – before I’d have asked the doctor.

Her back teeth are especially rotted.

She tends to get a strained sounding voice, almost hoarse. Noticed but didn’t give it much thought. Sore throat, maybe. Not a tendency to cough, though, or to spit up.

While she was on antibiotics, helped by her being able to distinguish and communicate more clearly what hurts, it became clear she had a major gas and heartburn problem, probably reflux. Turns out the sudden tantrum thing is a symptom. She’s missing some of the possible symptoms, but once suspected, I could see that it would come on like clockwork a while after meals, varying with what the meal was. She seems to get heartburn from some of the same things I do, so I can predict it more easily, or get it at the same time she does.

I need to find out what to do for her other than mere gas drops, which help but not always as much as I’d like. It can be almost like an off switch, though. She’ll be hysterical, let out a belch, then be fine. The whole thing got more pronounced and obvious on the antibiotics – that is, she had obvious gas, so there was no way to miss it.

She still confuses and conflates the two. I am sure she has tooth pain, plenty of it, but it appears that most of her “my mouth hurts” pain and tantrums are on account of gas and acid. I feel for her, because I know just how awful it can be when that hits. I give her a lot of latitude in choice of treatment. She’ll ask for gas drops if that is the problem from her perception. She’ll ask for ibuprofen if it’s the teeth, or if gas drops didn’t work yet and she’s frantic, which is the tough part.

Thus I’ll be glad when she gets the teeth fixed and the immediate aftermath pain of that is done. Then if she hurts the same way, it’s not teeth. Hers are scheduled first, on January 11. Sadie goes on the 14th, and Henry on the 18th. Three back to back trips into Boston in the car I am not sure will pass inspection it’s due to have before the end of December, for which I don’t have the money. Fun.

Worse than the confusion between things causing pain or discomfort, she uses “my mouth hurts” like an attention getting cudgel. That is challenging to distinguish from the real thing. Sometime, anyway. Other times it’s obvious, though not sure I could explain how.

Anyway, how weird is it to get a real post here? Time to get a shower, throw in still more laundry, maybe call the doctor about what to give her for the above, get the kids dressed, go pay my car insurance, get gas, and probably go to my mother’s to get the camera I left there and some pea soup they have for me. Maybe leave kids there and get my hair cut, but don’t think there’ll be time. It’s long overdue, though, and that would save a trip. We’ll see.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical


He may not be allergic to strawberries, but man is Henry allergic to something in a big way.

We spent much of the afternoon and evening with my mother and grandmother. Late in the day, my mother doled out M&M’s, being Pandora before I could remind her it’s milk chocolate. I consented to his having a few, but she reduced the number he got. It was probably half a dozen. Though perhaps there were a couple more thrown in. Of course, I also used to worry about something like M&M’s due to his clear reaction to the azo dyes in things. That seemed to be related to sensitivity to salycilates, which he also outgrew.

That was the last thing he ate before we came home, and pineapple has never bothered him before. I am sure nothing bad was in the other food, and the timing doesn’t fit.

When we got home, he looked fine but for one lumpy hive/welt I took to be a strong reaction to a mosquito bite.  I swatted one in the back seat as I strapped them in, so not unlikely to have had them feasting on him, and I have thought before that he’d reacted strongly to bites.

Then his face blew up with multiple hives and redness, one of the more severe attacks I’ve seen, if not up there with what happened when he ate a pile of eggs.

He’s had Benadryl and his face scrubbed in case there was a contact component.  He seemed to be a bit itchy.  Figured that’d help, whatever the cause.  I still lean toward the milk chocolate, though, and that’s impressive beyond anything I’ve seen him have to what amounts to a tiny trace of allergen.  I’m watching it go down even as I type, to where it’s mainly crimson cheeks and a couple peripheral spots.

Anyway, just when you figure you can relax…

Food & Cooking Kids Medical


For the record and any who might care to know, given his history, Henry not only seems unambiguously not allergic to strawberries, but also has decided he likes them a lot.

He’d mostly snubbed them previously. That seemed significant, given his dislike of eggs and peanuts, both of which are allergens. On the other hand, he loves dairy products, which give him a rash on contact, whatever they might do internally. That also tested positive. And he loves bananas most of all, but while those tested negative, he reacts worse to them than anything but significant ingestion of eggs. Apparently this is an “allergy” related to latex allergies, as opposed to the “oral allergy syndrome” food allergy they test for.

He wasn’t tested for strawberries, because we had no suspicion, and they limited it to the biggest (thus wheat and soy being included) and the supected (thus banana, which wouldn’t have been otherwise).

The remaining ones I can think of that are not yet known and potentially serious are a couple of the tree nuts and shellfish. There are allergies to Brazil nuts, walnuts and shellfish in the family, as there were with eggs and dairy.

I still see him get a little red from ??? when eating things that should not be a problem. The most recent instance, and it was minor to the point I’m not even sure it had anything to do with food, was basically just fries and iced tea at Wendy’s.

Anyway, glad that’s one more thing out of the way.

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American Idol Blogging (and way too much else)

Let’s see if I can sneak in a quick post around my daycare duties. They (and by “they” I mean Henry) tend to know the difference between my fingers hitting the keys for anything substantive and not, so I can type a tweet or something like a Google query or URL, but not a post or e-mail. Haven’t tried the in-between of writing or revising a resume or LinkedIn desriptions lately, but they fall more to the substantive if only in terms of concentration and here he comes, like clockwork. Well yay, he… nope, he started walking off until I started typing again. Okay, he left. And Val drew him back. Score! He couldn’t get to my lap so he gave up. Go me!

You will have noticed a distinct lack of American Idol blogging. Or other TV blogging. I mean, ignoring for a moment the limited blogging generally, which is a combination if things, partially overlapping, which see a subsequent post, if not a full explanation therein.

Sadly, for the moment we have settled into a reasonable combination of Deb working 2:00 to 11:00 PM, while I work out of the house 3:45 AM until somewhere between 6:30 and 8:00 AM, normally to just after 7:00 AM. Her 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM shift didn’t work well, though it could have if I’d set a strict bedtime for me and the kids of 7:30, and not worried as much about her getting supper of whatever we’d had not long after we’d eaten, or making her something when she arrived. In the last few months I struggled with being boxed into the role and slipped a bit, but generally I take the “feed everyone” job seriously. (On that note, Sadie says “more apple!!!” and I am called away…)

Where was I?

Right. I don’t know how I was doing the “FredCo” job well enough to be retained as permanent, because I almost never got enough sleep the whole time, and I sleepwalked through every day between shifts, which come to think of it may not have helped my enthusiasm for my domestic duties. Oddly, though, I had faith I would become perm, while Deb wasn’t so sure I’d even last the seasonal stretch. Doesn’t take so much: Don’t let anything stop me from going to work, focus, do the job well, be inexorable, try not to get so hurt I have to stop. The new policy is get to bed as early as possible and even if it were tempting to wait up for Deb, 11:30 PM would be out of the question. It means easier to have a routine that gets us there, with flexibility the 7:30 thing would not have afforded. So the target bedtime is 8:00 PM, but if it takes until 9:30 sometimes, oh well. If we are asleep at 8:30, that lets me sleep potentially as long as 6.5 hours, which is amazing. I was routinely getting 4 and under. If I got more, it was by Deb being the evening parent and the morning parent. She routinely got too little sleep, and had less time for herself than needed, let alone customary from before I had even a job tucked into a theoretically out of the way, brief time slot. Interstitial employment?

(Pause to peel another apple because Sadie wanted more. Apparently the Pink Ladies are a huge hit.)

(And he is on my lap.)

(And saved by Val needing to be wiped.)

(And finally closed door to try to finish this quick, since my solution of doing dishes to feel unencumbered went far worse than this did, with two of them mothing me.)

Now where was I?

I go to bed before Idol, and Deb works during Idol. Part of the charm was watching together. We also are too busy to tape and watch. Thus I have been catching highlights via Rickey, except for having caught bits of some of the audition rounds. I have some idea who is participating and how the competition stacks up, know some of the drama, know details of how they’ve changed things this year, and so forth, but the viewing experience? Not getting that this time.

Not to mention the TV problem

(Sadie pounded on door to roust me because Henry changed the channel and messed it up. He will not learn not to do that.)

Not to mention the TV problems we have had, which I troubleshot yesterday, resulting in a revelation as well as the expected.

The signal comes through rabbit ears, and through the miracle of cables and splitters we could record something on the VCR on one channel while watching another channel, or watch a tape. The DVD player hooked directly into the requisite red, white and yellow jacks, rather than the antenna jack.

It barfed a couple months or so back. Ended up having to feed antenna to VCR and VCR to TV using DVD cables, or leave the DVD cables on the DVD player. Switching between them had to be a physical act of moving cables, so it was a big deal to watch TV as it happened, or to tape it, which couldn’t be done while watching a DVD anymore. If the kids picked something we had on tape, like Mary Poppins, we’d make a proverbial day of it and watch multiple tapes, maximizing the benefit of the cable swap.

I’d meant to try the “old” TV, which is the newer TV, which is smaller, else there’d have been no reason to switch to the other.

(They just busted into my locked door. So Val could ask for help with one of her new belts she got for her birthday. Then succeeded herself. Then left him in with me, closing the door behind her, Go Valerie.)

It was fairly apparent that the antenna jack on the big TV was more or less fried, but that wasn’t beyond all doubt.

(Pause to let Henry out and stuff.)

Thus the desire to test, if not automatically, definitely switch.

I confirmed the diagnosis, leaving us a good working kind of small TV that can be used as we used to, and a bigger, older TV that isn’t good for much besides hooking to a DVD player. Which might be viable if and when it could go in a separate room for the kids, or if one of us had space and preference for it versus the fact we can watch DVD on our computers (or will be able to, in Deb’s case, once I put in the drive that I ordered), and versus the watching of Hulu that can and does happen on our computers.

Having started on the course of not being able to watch AI this season, I can’t see us suddenly starting to tape it, but at least now we could.

Except… we can’t. Not yet.

You know how Obama has an advisor on such matters who worked for a company that benefits from a delay in the switch to HD, so mysteriously a delay has in fact been invoked? That was not enough to stop Fox. Home of American Idol.

In my A/V geeking yesterday, I found that

(Pause to wipe Sadie and hand out snacks to the bottomless children and be amused at Sadie’s declaration she didn’t want to miss much of the show she was watching, ‘I’m watching PBS Kids!”)

I found that channel 64 was on an endless loop announcing you were not seeing their programming because they had switched, so get off your asses and get a converter if you don’t have cable or a new set, here’s how. That’s Fox in Providence. Channel 25 was gone entirely. That’s Fox in Boston. It’s a tossup which will come in better for us, so normally we’d watch whichever was clearer that day. Not that Fox was alone, since it appeared channels 10 and 12 were gone as well, essentially eliminating commercial network television as an option for us.

So much for the delay.

And TV watchers or not, HD transition delay or not, the coupons for $40 of a $48 converter box expire, so I will need to get one or two sooner rather than later. For an extra $8 I’m inclined to get a spare, just in case we use a second TV or one dies or whatever.

In long, that, folks, is why you have not been and probably will not be seeing breathless commentary here about American Idol this season. Maybe sometime in the season we will manage, or I will manage, to do some actual watching of it, live or taped. The “FredCo” job can’t be forever, if you ask me, just because it’s too little to be so much of what I rely on, and it’s too physically demanding. The trouble is that I have to transition to work that pays so well that daycare is not an issue, or that is “work” not a “job” and can actually fit in with the kids and dishes and stuff, either being relatively interruptable, or doable during time Deb can and will cover me as if I had left the house and was no more available than I am now Tuesday through Saturday mornings 3:30 to generally about 7:30. I’ve been interested in working from home at times in order to be available to help, but mostly that just doesn’t work. A couple of saving factors are that we live in a 24 hour, 7 day world, and that we won’t necessarily overlap hours entirely for the foreseeable future, even if I extricate myself from domestic box into corporate cubicle.

Now. I have another post in mind for here, and maybe I can put that forth today, but also I have a post I started last week, elsewhere, directly relevant to getting work, potentially to be seen by tens of thousands of people, potentially meme-setting in scope. But at least self-motivational and all that. I was white-hot inspired and then wasn’t able to work on it and lost the feel, but at least it can be done enough without the heat, so long as there’s time and permission to actually work on it.

Food & Cooking Pictures

Beef Stew

Food & Cooking Medical Pictures

Eating At The Table

As mentioned previously, Henry has joined us at the table, and after about a week it seems to have stuck. In fact, he thought it was high time. It’s as if he’s always sat there.

It’s a little crowded, and tricky when the girls are eating something he can’t have, but we’ve done pretty well.

It’s astonishing just how much he loves chili, which in the last incarnations doesn’t seem to have bothered him at all. Other than spices and maybe brown sugar, that’s not a surprise, and any problem should have been modest anyway. More concerning is that one of us touched him without washing peanut butter off our hands and he got temporary, fairly dramatic hives where the presumed skin contact with peanut butter happened.

He has tried dried papaya with no apparent problem. Forget what else there’s been new. He thinks pasta is the greatest, even plain. Oh, he’s been eating a lot of homemade applesauce and some slivers of peeled Macintosh apple. Gave him slivers of raw carrot the other day. If I buy hot dogs (decent all beef ones, checking ingredients), he eats an entire one as part of a meal now.

We had an excess chicken breast thawed the other day, so I boiled it to make chicken salad the next day. Since he can’t have mayonaise, I made him some with canola oil, plus celery salt, garlic powder and poultry seasoning, which I also used in the other batch. He demolished a thick half-sandwich and it was sad I’d not saved him extra. I’ll have to try the oil trick with tuna, if there’s a sale and I can restock it. Looks like it’s one of those foods that’s gone up lately. The amount of oil is enough to moisten and make it act like it would with mayo binding it, but not enough to make it seem oily. Like an invisible binder.

More pictures sometime today, probably. Need to do stuff. It’s a weird day because I had a not-interview at 4:30 AM. That is, it was a see the operation and if you’re not scared then come apply for this part time, wee hours distribution center job. I napped subsequently, but not well. When Deb gets home, I’ll run down and apply, then it’s a background check, interview some morning at 2 AM, and presumably starting after that. Time to feed the kids, start a pot roast for supper in the crockpot, and do some other things that’ll feel useful.

Food & Cooking Pictures


Sadie is fascinated with cooking, so I’ve started showing her things, and figured I’d try having her peel carrots for what ended up being an ill-fated beef stew. Valerie’s participation was the obligatory me too. They did better than I’d expected. Biggest problem was Sadie’s incomprehansion of “finished” when enough had been peeled.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Totally Random

Pictures, Henry, Etc.

I have about a gazillion pictures and even some videos of the kids being insanely cute, at the playground, in the car, at grandma’s, and even at home. I really need to pack up a bunch for the California grandparents and post some. Seriously, I could post a couple “ohmygodsocute” pictures a day and go weeks before I’m stretching or going back that far to get good ones.

I keep starting posts and not finishing them, to the point where I am tempted to write snippets on the fly, no longer than what you see to this point, and just do them when they come to mind and I have time.

Henry waves and says “bye bye” now and it’s the cutest thing. He also progressed almost instantly from walking to running and even climbing. With a bit of support from me, he climbed up a large slide yesterday. See pictures, if I get them posted.

We’re a bit mystified by the whole allergy thing, specifically with regard to dairy, as it seems to be more about contact than ingesting it. The slightest trace of dairy, and apparently certain other things, makes his skin break out. However, he has eaten tiny amounts of dairy in dry foods and not been affected. My grandmother gave him a lemon cookie and I decided to let it go, then read the ingredients and sure enough, milk. Which was also in the oatmeal raisin cookies the girls had. So next time he was there, two days later, he ate two of them. Most flavored potato chips have milk. Who knew? He recently tried one Utz salt & pepper chip and loved it. The test was reaction to the black pepper, which in that amount he didn’t, which was the expected result. Turns out they have buttermilk, yet don’t conform with standard allergen labeling so I’d missed that before.

He can apparently eat eggs.

And mayonaise, but one of the times he had mayo, it inflamed his skin where it got on his belly and chest, or it did in combo with something else, anyway. He was eating a particularly safe meal. He loved potato salad, and it didn’t affect him.

He can eat fresh tomatoes. Thinks they are wonderful. That should be nothing more than the concern one might have for a food moderate to low in salicylates (looking, it’s apparently in the same class as carrots, cauliflower (which he’s had but is meh about), parsnip (ditto), onion, sweet potato (which either bothers him if there is enough or is a red herring or mixed in with the contact problem substances), some squash, etc. Anyway, he is not allergic to them. Yay!

Any non-spiced meat should be fine, and he had a taste of Kahn’s beef hot dogs recently, no problem. No milk in those, which would be the other hot dog concern.

He has had two extremely small tastes incorporating cooked blueberry, no apparent problem.

He has had canned pineapple in heavy syrup, no apparent problem. Small amounts. Not a surprise, as he did OK with even smaller amounts of dried pineapple.

I forget what else he’s had that might be new. Well, besides his birthday cake! Wal-Mart’s brand white cake mix has no milk. Ditto for Wal-Mart’s brand of chocolate fudge frosting (as opposed to milk chocolate), which I ended up using only for accent. The rest got eaten on spoons over the course of a few days, including by Henry, who traditionally doesn’t get sweets because so many are off-limits or uncertain yet. I made homemade lime frosting using powdered sugar, shortening, water, lime juice (a tablespoon or so squeezed from half a lime), and so grated lime skin. The cake was unusually good. The fudge frosting was exceptionally good for canned, to the point of being good as frosting goes, and the lime I made was one of the best frostings I have ever had. It was awesome, and now we know that with the right mix or recipe, cake will be something he can indeed have.

Anything I’ve forgotten will have to wait. I’ve taken hours to write all this, off and on, and that about covers or more what I’d intended.

Food & Cooking Humor Quiz or Meme

No Wonder Deb Usually Likes Me…

You Are Oregano

You have are charming, funny, witty, and smart.
You love to party – and people love to party with you.
You are always friendly and warm. You are able to help people get along.
What Spice Are You?
Food & Cooking Money Totally Random

Out the Frying Pan

Sadly, my 12 inch frying pan had to be thrown away yesterday. The coating was so badly damaged that it was unusable. It was a cheap pan and last many years – almost nine, I believe it is – so it owed me nothing, but the timing. Even though it was obviously coming for a while, and that will be true of some of the other pans as well.

We’ll pretty much have to replace it almost immediately, at a time when $15 or $20 for a pan might almost as well be a bar of unobtanium or wonderflonium or something. For that matter, I already could almost have used a larger one in that style. I hate having to use my round flat pan that we use for making and heating tortillas for frying burgers or eggs. Not so bad to use it as a backup pan for pancakes or French toast, which are appropriate and easy on it.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Pictures

Dairy Rash on Back

Here are a couple pictures of the rash on Henry’s back that resulted from contact with two small dabs of organic plain baby yogurt, proving beyond any remaining doubt his dairy allergy. As usual, click for a larger version.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

It’s Annoying

Some of the finer points of the thing with Henry are, that is. Tonight Last night he ate summer squash for the first time. A lot of it. With relish. He thought it was one of the Best Things Ever.

It was crookneck, to be exact.

The main list I always consult for relative levels of salicylates mentions butternut and pumpkin. Pumpkin is, from what I understood from having read about it in the past couple years, very closely related to zucchini. And the summer squashes are kind of related, right? So if pumpkin was reasonable, probably summer squash was fine. I also know crookneck was rather distinct from straight yellow summer squash.

Anyway, he ate a pile of crookneck squash, loved it, and later this evening last night got a little itchier than we might expect or prefer, if not full blown bad. Could be the heat. Could be the levels in the squash. Could be something else. All complicated by Valerie being sweet and wanting to share a cashew. However, he’d started itching before that, cashews are super low in salicylates, and a full-fledged allergy would presumably show a more spectacular result. So he got to eat maybe half of a cashew and thought it was the best thing he’d ever had. In fact, the itching could have been heightened simply by his level of sadness over cashew being removed from his mouth and the bowl being empty when he looked in it after following Val around until she set it down.

Still, the itching and slight redness above the usual made me go poking around, and I found a better site for salicylate levels, except it’s laid out badly.

That says “summer squash” is in the very lowest levels. Except… by “summer squash” they mean something also known as chayote, which is completely unfamiliar. Scientifically it is Sechium edule.

That same site says zucchini is one of the worst handful of veggies. It’s grouped with things like peppers, radishes and concentrated tomato products. In fact, the only things that aren’t herbs, spices and miscellany that fall higher are raisins, prunes and raspberries. Seems odd, but I guess he will not be trying the zucchini that’s in the fridge.

But… what about other summer squashes, including crookneck?

Zucchini is apparently part of Cucurbita pepo, along with some types of pumpkin, yellow summer and crookneck squashes, acorn, pattypan and spaghetti squashes.

So why would it be so high? And the others not? They’re not, right?

The site places pumpkin (but which variant?) and marrow squash into the second lowest category.

In the third it places “squash.” Just squash.

So helpful. So descriptive.

A bit more looking things up and I learn that “marrow” is simply a word for squash, in some countries. So saying “marrow squash” is like saying “squash squash.”

I also learn that, in the strictest sense, “marrow squash” is a large, straight green squash that resembles a zucchini, but is often grown to huge sizes and stuffed. I think I’ve seen marrow squash. I think we’ve always called it zucchini and it’s just been that zucchini don’t all look exactly the same.

But wait! If it’s a straight squash, why do I find pictures online of it looking like a green crookneck? Along with southern recipes.

Bottom line, apparently if you seen a reference to marrow squashes, it’s more likely to mean the various summer squashes as to mean the big green or crookneck green ones. Which leads me to that original salicylates list, the one I usually use for handy reference.

Voila! There’s “marrow,” in the moderate column for vegetables, along with pumpkin, parsnips, fresh tomato, carrots, and some other stuff. That fits.

What’s missing from both is a specific reference to butternut squash. I believe we may have developed the impression of butternut as okay by direct experimentation, or by seeing it elsewhere, since we’ve looked at many of these lists or sets of recommendations. They do mostly agree, fortunately.

That leaves me thinking that the reference to “squash” without any further distinction covers butternut and the general winter squashes. Then again, butternut is Cucurbita moschata, which also includes some pumpkin varieties, including one used for commercial canned pumpkin. What I think of as the main winter squash is Cucurbita maxima, which includes hubbard and buttercup.

You have to become an expert just to feed the kid safely. Well, it’s not unsafe for him to get a bit itchy, just uncomfortable. I’d say he clearly reacted mildly to summer squash or to something else, but there was a lack of “something else.” Maybe the charring on the steak? Bottom line, besides that this is confusing, and beware of naming conventions, is moderate amounts rule.

The other day, I gave him peach. No peal, just the inner part, after it had sat on the counter to ripen a few days. I meant only to give him a sliver, but he ate several. Thought it was awesome. And didn’t react at all. Check off peaches as a food he “can have.” But… not in large amounts. Or maybe not so much? I see the lists disagree. The new one has peaches in the second lowest class, along with things like lemon. And apple juice, which he can’t have, at least very much. And light grape joice, which he can’t have. At least not much. The other list has peaches in the second highest class. Along with some of the other stuff the alternate list has in the second lowest class. Wild.

This is why he becomes a science experiment. It’s the only way we learn for sure what he can have without becoming an itch factory or breaking out.

Food & Cooking Medical

Low-fat diets not best for weight loss

But… but… whaddaya mean the lowest fat diet had the poorest results in a formal study? We all know that if you eat fat you’ll die! Die, I say. And if you are fat you will get diabetes and die. Die! If you lose weight, you will automatically recover and/or prevent yourselves from getting diabetes. Ever! Or blood pressure. Nobody thin ever had blood pressure, after all. And our kids, what are we thinking, not putting them all on statins before their nervous systems can even finish being constructed. Who needs an IQ! Surely not kids. Not in America. Statins in the water! Along with the ritalin. We should probably toss in beta blockers while we are at it, prevent kids from getting blood pressures in the first place. Because, you know, your blood pressure causes your arteries to harden and clog, and it makes you fat, and fat makes you have blood pressure, and fat in what you eat surely translates directly into fat stored in your ulterior regions without even being affected by digestion or metabolism or nutritional needs, going straight into the diabolestertensionheimers matrix and causing your brain, heart and nerves to explode and/or liquify and be expelled and be expelled in an almost ebola-driven manner,

So this study can’t be right, even if a high fat diet has been integral to my massive weight loss of late. That’s purely anecdotal. And studies? They can’t be right, unless they are funded with litigious intent and the more obscurely published the better. Then it’s data.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical Money

Shopping Wizard

Yesterday I managed to spend $67 and get 5 kinds of meat, 3 kinds of fruit, 4 kinds of produce, 2 quarts of rice milk (hey Stop & Shop, change your sign if it’s $1.50 and not $1.25 sale anymore), 2 cans of tomato soup, 18 eggs, a small cheese, 3 loaves of bread (which is about 3-4 days worth lately) (speaking of which, my mother brought a loaf of raisin bread for the girls and they couldn’t get enough of it), a giant bag of on sale chips (which have the benefit of baby can eat them), 3 packs of favorite Kool-Aid flavor (blue raspberry lemonade) that’s not sold at Wal-Mart, black beans, and 2 kinds of crackers ($1.29 for saltines and he seems to be able to eat them, as he can the Keebler Club crackers, which were fortuitously on sale), ziti, relish and chicken boullion cubes. I rock.