Tag Archive: Lilah


Dairy-Free Waffles

Having a child with a severe food allergy seems overwhelming to a lot of people. The reality of it is: You get used to it. You have no choice. And it’s not as hard as you might think.

Lilah has been allergic to dairy since she was a baby. Not lactose intolerant, but actually allergic to milk protein. Like, if she had a sip of milk, her throat would close up and she’d die without an Epi-Pen injection.  In fact, her allergy is so severe that if a dairy product touches her skin, she gets hives at the point of contact. So, living without dairy is what we do and, given the alternative, we do it quite willingly and happily.

Admittedly, cooking without dairy was hard for me to get used to at first, but I did, and we’re probably healthier for it. Actually, I think learning to live without dairy has made me a better, more resourceful cook because I can’t count on the extra oomph from a pat of butter, a dollop of sour cream, or a sprinkle of cheese to round out a dish. Searching for extra flavor in other ingredients – spices, vegetables, herbs, high quality oils and vinegars, condiments, nuts, and olives – has been a wonderful learning experience, one that I wouldn’t trade for all of the fromage in France.

That being said, it does complicate things sometimes. Eating at restaurants, for instance, can be hard. We can’t just go wherever we want, we have to be sure that whatever restaurant we decide on isn’t going to result in a trip to the ER.  Thai, Japanese, and Chinese food, are all usually safe, tasty bets and, as a result, Lilah has become a sushi connoisseur. Of course, glatt kosher places are also totally safe, like our favorite Middle Eastern place up the street. It’s a win-win: the food is excellent and we can be 100% confident that it’s dairy-free. On the other hand, French, Greek, Turkish, and Indian food are all, unfortunately, too risky for Lilah to eat. And Italian food, with its abundance of cheese in the food and on the table, is completely out of the question.

Another sticky wicket in the dairy allergy dining experience is breakfast. We cannot go out for breakfast at all with Lilah, which makes me kind of sad because I love going out for breakfast and brunch.  Yeah, sure, she could eat bacon and eggs, but that’s boring and rather unfair, especially considering that her companions (namely, her siblings) would be gorging themselves on pancakes, waffles, and cheesy omelettes.

So, to get over my brunch angst, I’ve been experimenting with different recipes for YEARS in an attempt to make delicious, dairy-free pancakes and waffles from scratch. The pancakes are still only just OK, in my opinion, but I’m a stickler for buttermilk, so it’s unlikely that anything will ever strike me as a suitable replacement for that true, sour dairy tang. (And yes, I’ve tried using soy yogurt thinned with soy milk as a replacement, but the results are not even close to being as good as the real thing.) However, I think I’ve finally nailed the waffle recipe. I made them this morning and they were gorgeous – crisp, light, not too sweet, not too eggy. They are a bit labor intensive, but using a mixer or electric beaters helps to speed-up the prep work. Unless you’re a masochist. If you are, then, by all means, knock yourself out and whisk those egg whites by hand.

Anyway, we all loved them. The kids begged for seconds, then thirds, and even declared that they didn’t need maple syrup. My husband and I enjoyed ours with some coffee and fruit, happily acknowledging that this one is finally a keeper.

Dairy-Free Waffles

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla soy milk (not unsweetened), at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1 large egg white, at  room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted vegan margarine or vegetable oil, plus more for brushing the iron
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat a waffle iron to medium-high.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/4 cup melted margarine or oil. Whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture until a batter is formed. Take care not to over mix the batter.

In medium bowl with a hand-held electric beaters or whisk, or in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the 3 egg whites until they just begin to hold a loose peak. Scatter the sugar over the whites and continue beating until they hold a soft peak. Using a rubber spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten the base. Fold in the remaining whites.

Brush the inside surface of the iron with margarine or oil. Pour in enough batter to lightly cover the surface of the iron, about 1/3 to 3/4 cup, depending upon the size of the iron. (Take into consideration that the batter will spread once the lid is closed.) Cover and cook until golden brown and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. (If the waffle iron is well seasoned or nonstick it is not necessary to brush the inner surface each time before cooking the waffles.)

Serve the waffles immediately with syrup, jam, or fresh fruit, then pat yourself on the back for putting a waffle iron on your wedding registry.

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Roasted Eggplant Dip

“Hey Mom, what smells so good?”, chirped Lilah as she jumped down the stairs. The smells of roasting eggplant, sauteed onion, garlic, and smoked paprika had made their way up to her room and she was jonesing for a taste. “Oooh, are those olives? Can I have one?”, the question was a formality, asked as she plucked a large, green olive out of the jar.

“I’m making eggplant dip and, yes, you can have an olive.”, I said. “Wanna help?”

Her answer was yes, of course, so I put her to work measuring pantry items and peeling the cooled eggplants. Then, once all of the ingredients were assembled, I let her push the button on the food processor and watch her hard work come together. After everything was mixed into the eggplant, her reward was the first taste on a freshly toasted pita chip. The verdict? “It tastes as good as it smells.”

I love this dip, too, and not just because it tastes great, but also because it’s the product of a very forgiving and endlessly adjustable recipe. You can truly make it suit your own taste.

Some ideas: Puree the eggplant with the tomato paste and simply fold in the other ingredients for a chunkier dip. Puree everything together for a smooth dip. Trade the paprika with a some sriracha or chile flakes for a spicier dip. Swap the green olives with pitted kalamata olives if you like more brininess. Replace the red wine vinegar with balsamic for more sweetness and depth. Add an anchovy, pine nuts, or some oregano if the mood strikes. You could even replace the eggplant with pureed white beans for a jacked-up Mediterranean hummus.

The possibilities are endless, but here’s the version I prefer:

Roasted Eggplant Dip

(adapted from Ina Garten)

  • 2 medium or 3 small eggplants
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 ounces fresh or jarred roasted red peppers (about 2 roasted peppers), diced
  • 1/2 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Place the whole eggplants on the pan, pierce with them a fork in several places, and rub with olive oil. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and lightly browned – about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and paprika, cook for 1 minute, then set the mixture aside.

Halve the eggplant, peel, and discard the skin. Place the eggplant, onion mixture, peppers, and olives in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until well-combined, but not completely pureed. Pour into a mixing bowl.

Add the parsley, lemon juice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop. Taste for seasonings and serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles and veggies.

This would also be a wonderful accompaniment to grilled chicken, shrimp, fish, or pasta.

Where I’ve Been.

Hi.

I know, I haven’t blogged in awhile. Life gets busy and, with three kids, even the laziest days are filled with distraction and demand. But that’s not really why I haven’t been writing here.

I started feeling really awful over the Summer. My energy level took a huge dive and there were some alarming changes in my breast tissue. As I’m normally a healthy, fit person, I couldn’t imagine what was wrong with me – the vapors, early menopause, disco fever, cancer?? After endless blood tests, ultrasounds, and doctor’s visits, I was told that my hormones were in a precarious state of imbalance (in my mind, this looked like St. Bernard on a high-wire) and that it was probably due to a combination of insulin resistance and ovarian cysts. Not knowing the root of the problem was the psychological equivalent of walking around all day, everyday, with a sharp pebble in my shoe, so finding out it wasn’t something super serious was a huge relief.  I’m managing everything pretty well with meds, diet, and exercise. Trying to adjust to a life without sweets has been hard, but totally worth the effort. I feel a lot better now.

(Actually, disco fever sounds pretty awesome and I wish it had been the cause of my troubles. Any excuse to wear this.)

Other than being preoccupied by my own imminent decrepitude, time moves fast. The days bleed into each other like, well, like bleeding bloody days.  The kids are getting bigger and most of my domestic energy is spent trying to stop them from becoming more grown-up. This is obviously an exercise in futility, but like a pit bull, I won’t loosen my jaws until the struggle itself becomes futile.

This will be all too soon, in Noah’s case. He started 5th grade this year and turns 11 in March. He’s doing well in school and is enjoying his steadily increasing independence. His life is all about friends, school, camp, music, and fun these days. When he’s not busy with those things, he’s eating, growing, and taking things apart just to rebuild them.

The girls are good, too. Lilah is 8 now and still a wise, creative soul with an incredible amount of common sense. She’s super bright and expects a lot from herself, which is both a blessing and a curse. She loves to read and draw for the most part, but her feistiness comes out when she’s horsing around with her friends or playing soccer.

Aviva is almost 5, which blows my mind. She’s in that stage between preschooler and big kid – still biologically drawn toward cuddles and comfort, but unwilling to hold my hand when we cross the street. She’s a sassy, clever girl who loves preschool and playing with her friends. We’ll register her for kindergarten next month, which is something I’m not at all ready to accept. In fact, my insistence on keeping her small runs so deep that I’m planning to spend most of August at home with her, enjoying lots of carefree fun during the last few weeks before she starts elementary school.

See? Pit bull.

Now that I’ve bored you with a quick update, here are the highlights of the past 7 months in short order:

– Yoga. I started doing it because I lacked the energy to do my normal, cardio-heavy workouts and now I’m hooked. And really, really strong. Because my schedule is pretty packed and I can’t make it to a live class with any regularity, I take my classes online through Yogaglo. I love it.

– Noah went to overnight camp in Maine for 3.5 weeks over the Summer. We missed him like crazy, but he had an amazing time – learned lots of new things, made lots of new friends, and was really sad to leave when we picked him up. To cheer him, we ended his month-long Jewish indoctrination by taking him out for some delicious Maine lobster on our way home. Sacrilege never tasted so sweet.

– Aviva is learning Chinese in preschool. She’s picking it up so quickly that I’m thinking about hiring a tutor to help her continue the language when she starts kindergarten. She loves trying out her new words on actual Chinese people, so this comes in very handy when there’s a long wait to be seated at Hei La Moon.

– Lilah blocked all shots in goal during the Spring and Fall soccer seasons. Hell yeah!

– August brought us an ancient scourge: head lice. There is truly nothing like the moment when you realize that your child – your child with super thick, curly hair – has a head full of bugs. Thankfully, for me and for my children, this moment occurred in public, so I couldn’t fly right into screaming banshee mode. The delayed reaction proved to be advantageous because when I got home, I was able to just skip the hysteria phase and go right into the heavy drinking phase of head lice coping techniques. I only reverted back to the banshee phase once, when close inspection revealed that all three kids had it…and that I had it, too. The next 6 days were spent spinning through an endless cycle of combing, nit-picking, laundry, and stupid movies. Was it the end of the world? No, definitely not. Do I ever want to go through it again? Fuck no. In fact, if given the choice between Louse House: The Sequel and a non-serious injury, I’d take the injury…unless it was a bug-related injury, of course.

– We barely celebrated the high holidays this year. Our house was still somewhat disorganized from the lost week of lice, I was exhausted, and the kids had just started a new school year. We weren’t up for hosting Rosh Hashanah dinner for our extended family like we usually do, so we didn’t.  In hindsight, I missed it and plan to make up for it with a huge, fun Passover seder.

– Michael and I went to The Rally to Restore Sanity back in October. My parents had already planned to have the kids at their house that weekend anyway, so we went for it! It was the first time in five years that we’d been away without the kids.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend, but we had an amazing time – saw some sights, went to some museums, ate some fabulous food, and rallied sanely. It also made us realize that we should spend a weekend away without the kids at least once a year. Grown-up travel is much more relaxing than family travel.

– Lilah turned 8 last month. We celebrated by getting her a fancy new bike and letting her host her very first slumber party. Seven extra girls invaded our house and, even though we braced for chaos, everyone behaved really well. The giggles tapered off around midnight and we didn’t hear another peep until 7am. This has led me to conclude that these children could stand to spend some time with 8-year-old me and my 2nd/3rd grade friends. We’d teach them to raise some sleepover hell. None of this “asleep at midnight” malarkey.

-The December holidays were good. Chanukah was fun, as always, and the surrounding weeks were punctuated by visits with dear friends. We welcomed the new year at home with the kids, playing games and dancing.

Happy 2011 to the handful of you who read this blog. I hope to be here more often this year.

Happy Mothers’ Day! I hope you all enjoyed your burnt pancakes this morning.

Awhile back, I mentioned that I was fooling around with coconut milk in the hopes of making some really good dairy-free chocolate pudding for Lilah, who is severely allergic to all dairy products.  I came across several decent recipes during the course of this little experiment, some with eggs, others with additional ingredients like tofu and lecithin. All of them were just OK – a little too eggy, a little too chemical, a little too sweet. They all lacked that smooth, creamy, deeply chocolate richness that I was so hoping for.

Then I saw this recipe. It originally called for whole cow’s milk, which I easily replaced with coconut milk and hoped for the best.

And, well, let me tell you:  It is THE BEST. I love it so much that Pee-Wee Herman would probably suggest that I marry it.

Not only is it the most delicious pudding I’ve ever eaten, but it is also the easiest pudding recipe I’ve ever made. No eggs, no weird stuff – just pure chocolate-coconut bliss.

You can thank me when you’re done licking the bowl.

Chocolate-Coconut Pudding

(adapted from John Scharffenberger via Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups light, unsweetened coconut milk
6 ounces 72% bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler*. Slowly whisk in the coconut milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 20 minutes or so, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 4 to 6 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer** into a serving bowl or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.

3. Cover dish(es) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days (if you can restrain yourself for that long).

*You can fashion your own double boiler by placing a heatproof bowl over a pot of water. Just make sure the bowl fits just inside the top of the pot without falling in!  And please save yourself a trip to the ER by using good oven mitts when removing the bowl from the pot.

** I didn’t strain the pudding. The world did not end.

Routine Bedtime

“I am weddy for the soap!”, Aviva announced from the shower.

“Ok, Sweetie. Here you go.”, I said, squeezing soap into my hands and gently scrubbing her little four-year-old body.

“Oh! Oh!”, she cried as she rinsed off, “My skin! My skin is just SHOUTING OUT!”

“It’s shouting out?”, I stifled a laugh. “What is it shouting?”

She grinned at me, then answered,

“It’s shouting out: AAAAAAARGH! I’M ITCHY AND I NEED SOME LOTION!”

——

A few moments later, she was out of the shower and standing on the bathmat, hurriedly demanding, “I’mcold! I’mcold! I’mcold! Pleasepleaseplease get me a towel and WARM ME UP! Huwwy up! Pleasepleaseplease!”

I quickly wrapped her up and gave her a squeeze.

She sighed happily, kissed my forehead, and theatrically gushed, “Oh THANK you, my love-ah-ly mother!”

——

After putting lotion on her shouting skin, we went upstairs to get pajamas and read some bedtime stories. Aviva quickly lost interest in the chapter book I was reading to Lilah, so she decided to climb into bed with one of her many Curious George books and “read” aloud to herself…

“This is Curious George. He is a cwazy monkey. He has an owner with a lellow hat and lellow pants. He likes to go sledding down big mountains, which is very fun and a little scawy! He cwashed into a pole and got a little scrape, but he is OK. He loves to climb and swing and jump through trees because he is a monkey. He stoled a pizza plate and sat on it and turned it into a weally fast sled! Wheee! He go’ed down the hill. He knocked over the skiers and winned a prize and the skier was not even mad and they didn’t get a bwuise. Everyday is a good day for George the monkey.  The End.”

By the time I finished reading with Lilah, Aviva was more than ready to be tucked-in. “Hello, Miss Aviva, “, I said quietly as I crossed her room, “That was some good reading I just heard!”

With a drowsy smile, she nodded, and said, “We need a pet monkey. And a pizza sled! Whoosh!”

(beat)

(yawning) “I know, Mama. I am soooo silly!”

Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep before I had the chance to agree.

A Short Story by Lilah

Lilah has an amazing teacher who fosters creativity in every classroom activity, no matter what the topic.  So, when Lilah told me that her class was writing short stories, I knew the results would be pretty great.

I was definitely not disappointed. For your reading pleasure…

The Spooky Day

By Lilah

Once, when I was at camp playing hockey, an alien popped out of nowhere.  It said, “Can I play hockey with you?”

Nobody knew what to say.

The alien said, “Thanks, I love hockey” and played a game with us.

When the game was over, it tried to attack us.

I found the alien ship and pulled a lever. Something like a hammer came out and started to bang the alien on its head.  My knee pushed a different lever. It pushed the alien up in the air.

The alien fell down and got out. It put me into its ship.

It took me into space.

I escaped the alien ship and landed on a weird planet called Zombie Planet. The zombies looked scary, but just wanted to play.

One zombie pushed me.  I slipped and fell off Zombie Planet, came back to Earth, and landed on top of my school.

I climbed down and started to play.  It was getting dark.  I walked home, but nobody was home.

So, I put on the movie Labyrinth.

When it was over, I went to bed.

It had been a spooky day.

About the author: Lilah lives in Massachusetts with her brother, sister, mom and dad. She wrote this story because she likes hockey and aliens.