Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Adventures in Food Allergies, and Becoming a Home Cook

I've never been much of a cook. My elementary, Jr High and High school lunches were composed of peanutbutter sandwich crackers and an apple. Its a miracle I didn't starve in college.

In 2009 I posted a picture of my first attempt at handling raw chicken. This was my version of fajitas, I was 25 years old. I'm not lying, I had never handled raw chicken before this. Sad but true.

These fajitas weren't bad, but they were far from complex, or even really that good. It was literally pre-slicked chicken, peppers, onions and pre-made taco seasoning.

In July of 2011 (thank you FaceBook for giving me a timeline of my cooking adventures) I made a dinner with more than 3 ingredients for only one person...this was a huge step! I totally cheated used stew meat so I didn't have to man-handle raw beef and slice it into edible portions.
Again, this was edible, healthy even. But my seasoning was soy sauce, hoisin and garlic chili paste. A far cry from a complex flavor profile and probably had enough sodium to crystallize if left out overnight. 

However, my shopping trips now look like this:
Fresh organic veg from my local co-op
And I make things like this for work snacks:
kale chips

This weekend alone I made 2 loaves of bread, a homemade pizza (literally an amazing pizza that would have made local stores jealous), oven fries as a midnight snack, and I assisted on beef dumpling soup & breakfast potatoes. 

So where did these changes come from?

dun, dun da dun!


You might have food allergies if:

  • You have cried because you miss eating grilled cheese, and you can't find a bread you can eat.
  • You eat before going out to eat with friends...just in case there is nothing on the menu that is safe.
  • Half your suitcase is composed of backup safe food when you go on vacation.
  • You have cried in the grocery store because "your flavor" is sold out or not stocked, and despite freezing your ta-tas off in the frozen case for 10 minutes you can't find an alternative that doesn't contain allergens.
  • You have to have a designated partner in fitness classes, someone who agrees on "nut-free Wednesdays" so they don't kill you with their contaminated hands. (thank you Addie!)
  • Your significant other jumps to block the table when the brings out an allergen, even if you aren't there, just out of habit.
  • There are "rules" to your potlucks "Please come to our BBQ! Bring something! (as long as it isn't A, B, C-Z)" It doesn't have the same ring to it, trust me!
  • Your international travels limited by your ability to pronounce your allergies in the native language, and their prevalence in local cuisine.
  • Your friends could be professional "contaminant taste testers" because they try everything before you do in questionable situations....ESPECIALLY in bars where tired/flirty/creative bartenders don't know what "tequila and oj ONLY" means. 
  • Have your friends ever had an argument in a bar about who was most qualified/sober to use your epi-pen given above situation?
  • Your office have a "nut-free" floor (and no edible Christmas presents) because you stopped breathing when someone walked upstairs eating almonds?
Do you have any other hi-jinks from food allergies? I love relating to others, it makes me feel a little less crazy. 

Food allergies used to be the plague of my existence. Now? They still are, but I make some damn good food as a result! It first started when my (now) boyfriend insisting on making me dishes that I'd never had because of allergens. (Fried rice minus the egg, sesame, ginger and chestnuts). Then soups when I was sick, because everything in the store had celery. Recently, when yeast went out the window we started making our own pasta, biscuits, breads and pizza dough. 

Pasta rolling expedition.
It took 5 grown men to play with the pasta roller and make a noodle
that stretched several times the length of our kitchen!
This has allowed us to make delicious food, at low cost and high quality and share it with our friends and family. We even buy most of our produce and ingredients locally and can throw entirely local dinner parties.

I don't love my food allergies, but I do love the way that they have pushed me into a forum that I never thought I'd participate in. I now mix seasonings & ground beef into patties without gagging & washing my hands 8 times during the process. I can make a dough without getting nervous. I make dinner when I am home alone. I rarely eat out, even for lunches at work. I no longer rely on soy sauce or spice to make my asian dishes edible. OHH I even have a garden. And it loves me back....I know because it sends me tomatoes shaped like a heart!

Next up:
  • Coconut free curry
  • Sesame free teriyaki
  • and more yeast free pizza - because that was AWESOME!

With Love and Light,


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