Catherine and I put the new oven through its paces today and the result is a house that smells like heaven.
With the church youth group potluck tomorrow, we offered to bring two batches of cookies and that meant hitting the kitchen.
We never buy bakery treats because Catherine is allergic to nuts and must also avoid eggs. Since she was 4 and we watched her face swell after Basil gave her a cashew, all our baked goods have been homemade.
(We like to joke that the only nuts in our house are the two who live here. … Why are you looking at ME?!)
For tomorrow, as with the past 12 years, there’s a method to my madness. If we bring the treats, then there will be desserts Catherine can eat.
For a long time, of course, this was my job alone. I became quite creative about decorating and packing cupcakes so they’d survive whatever party or event Catherine was invited to. (For the record, an inch-high coating of sprinkles works better than a collection of toothpicks for keeping the lid of a plastic container from marring the frosting. Especially if you first create a nest of wax paper for the cupcake to sit in.)
Parents of elementary school classmates were used to my little talk at the start of each school year explaining what she could and could not eat, and likely remember me as the mom who dropped off child and snack for parties and play dates.
Over the years, we have been fortunate (and grateful) to make friends who go out of their way to check ingredients with us ahead of time. (And, too, we met people who didn’t understand, or believed we were exaggerating the danger to be difficult. I have never known what to say to them.)
At times, it’s been challenging — and even isolating. You never realize just how big a role food plays in our daily social interactions until you are tuned in to every mouthful or are watching your child watch everyone else in the room eat an unexpected treat.
Our overriding goal has always been to ensure Catherine is well-equipped to handle the food allergy, not rely on an institution’s rules, the kindness of others, or even Basil and I checking ingredient lists or carrying the Epi-Pen.
And, of all the things we’ve taught her (or should have taught her), I have to say we knocked it out of the park with these lessons. She knows to check ingredients, keep snacks in her purse, avoid any foods she is not 100% sure of, never leave home with her Epi and — when in doubt — to make it herself.
Which brings us to this afternoon.
She whipped up an amazing batch of sugar cookies (I’ll bet you can smell the butter where you are!) and I did chocolate chips. It was a pleasure watching her mix and measure, stir and decorate. The kid knows her way around the kitchen and put both batches through vigorous taste testing.
It made me think of when she was little and would experiment with various foods and spices, playing intricate games of “restaurant” that involved taking our order, then “cooking” something and serving it. (Somehow, doing the dishes was always my job.)
These days, just about every recipe she tries turns out fabulously.
I love that she has empowered herself this way.