Friday, December 28, 2007

An imperfect Christmas

We had a lovely holiday, and the gluten-free girl inspired me to post about my imperfect Christmas.

We were not prepared for the holiday, really. December is a very busy month for Pendant Audio most years, and this year was no exception. There is usually a fair amount of rearranging so that none of our productions are released during the week of Christmas as well.

We were also preparing for our trip to Idaho, and my parents were flying in for Christmas as well. So by the 23rd, I was really at peace with the whole situation.

We managed to shop for Clark's Christmas gifts by having a friendly neighborhood babysitter for one evening. That went well. But after

On December 24, we started early, planning on meeting with my family later. My husband had a brilliant idea and thought it would be cute to take Clark to the mall and explain to him that he should choose a gift for each of us.

We got to the mall at around 10 a.m. Clark had a picture with the mall Santa and was very hyper as a result. So I decided to take him around the mall first. Daddy waited in the food court. Clark insisted we go up the escalator.

While we were going up, I asked him, "What kind of present do you want to get for Daddy?" Clark replied, "A yellow one!" I said, "No, well..." and he said, "A blue one?" And then he immediately said, "Ornaments!" but I wasn't sure if he meant for Daddy or if he was just exclaiming about the mall decorations. Undeterred (I mean, he's got autism, which kind of instills a remarkable patience in you about certain things), I went into Hallmark.

He looked at some of the ornaments, I told him not to grab, and I pointed out some of the boxes. I found a Superman ornament and said, "Clark, look! Who's that?"

"Superman!" he said, immediately.

"Do you want to get that for dad--"


OK then. :) I then found a sparkly star (Clark liked that for Daddy too) and a yellow gift bag (also approved).

I then went to American Eagle and picked out a nice shirt for my hubby, because we had a price limit on gifts and because I knew he was sick of all of his shirts.

We returned to the food court, and Daddy took Clark to pick out a gift for me. We then returned home.

My parents ended up not coming over on Christmas Eve, but that was fine. I made mayo and chicken. My sister was sick, and her car was in the shop, and my parents were at her place, so they decided to meet up with us on Christmas day.

That night, I went out on the balcony with my husband and we talked and I drank wine and felt generally celebratory. I poured some wine on the ground for the gods and told the world that this would be our successful year, and I meant it. :)

Christmas Day came, and Clark was VERY EXCITED about it, for the first time ever! This was the first year he really got it. And he got Tinker Toys and Frosty and Rudolph DVDs and train pieces for his train sets and some books.

Then it was time for me and Jeffrey to open our gifts from Clark and to each other. Clark had chosen a bright red glass drinking glass for me from Pottery Barn. Apparently he at first suggestion "a yellow present" was the same for me, too. :)

Then my husband gave me a beautiful Teavana tetsubin teapot. I was absolutely stunned...and mad that he disregarded our budget. -_- But he said he just had to get it for me. I love it of course!

My parents came over later, and we opened gifts from them. My sister and mother got $5 gifts and handmade jewelry, my dad got a book set about bars and wines, and my brother got a set of game pens (etch a sketch, operation). They were a big hit. Hooray for creative budgeting. Costco is a wonderful place.

I got some nice things as well -- a nice top, a sweater, $20 for Starbucks, earrings, and money (which will go into the Wii fund).

My stove was scrubbed, but I didn't dust or vacuum. My bathroom was clean, my bedroom wasn't. But we had a very Merry Christmas anyway! :)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Candy canes are evil

I wish I could say that everything leveled out after Clark got an illegal, but it got worse before it got better.

While Clark's behavior started to improve and he started to pull out of the candy cane-induced regression, his health got worse.

He was almost over a cold at the time he ate that candy cane. On Christmas Eve, his nose started running a lot more. On Christmas Day he had a terrible hacking cough.

He was coughing less yesterday, and I think he's past the worst of it, but SHEESH. Everything that could go wrong did. My mom nagged me about giving him cough syrup, but when I looked at the Delsym left over from our pre-SCD days, it had high fructose corn syrup in it. Um, NO. I gave him a spoonful of honey instead.

I was pretty busy through the holiday. I was cooking beef patties or chicken breasts most days. I made mayo. I made meringues, which Clark was very happy to eat, even though I haven't figured out how to make them right yet. And then they don't stay crispy. I don't even know how to store them.

Regardless, we had a fun Christmas Day. We went to the Los Angeles Zoo the day after Christmas, and Clark had a good time there too. He was very happy to see grandma and grandpa and Uncle Bobby and Auntie Cathy.

They are heading home now. I do miss my parents sometimes. Sigh.

I stayed busy. I wrote an audio script on Christmas Day, because as a writer, there is something wrong with your brain where you write when you have to, not when you want to. I'm supposed to get an IUD tomorrow and I'm kind of nervous about it. And next week we're flying to Idaho and I'm REALLY nervous about that.

I also e-mailed a compounding pharmacy near me to ask if they could make my sulfasalazine into a pill that's not loaded with corn starch.

I came across the most interesting little snippet in the Wikipedia entry for sulfasalazine:

Because sulfasalazine and its metabolite 5-ASA are poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, it is surprising that the drug is effective against symptoms outside of the intestine. One possible explanation is that, given that ulcerative colitis produces arthritic symptoms, it is possible that, in some cases, the arthritic symptoms are actually a product of unrecognized ulcerative colitis, which is effectively treated with sulfazalazine.

Fascinating. Especially considering that I have NO SYMPTOMS of gut dysfunction. None! And yet, the SCD clearly has an effect on me. The drugs that work for people with UC are working for my rheumatoid arthritis as well.

So for all those people out there thinking, "But I don't have any problems with food!" I posted this for you.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Illegal happenings

So, yesterday my son came home from school and told us he'd eaten a candy cane. He said his principal had given it to him, and it was a small candy cane.

I wasn't sure if he was telling the truth or not. Earlier he said he got a candy cane and put it in his backpack, but my husband had checked and there was nothing in there. He then told us he ate it. I assume she gave it to him right before he left school.

We still weren't sure...and then he had explosive diarrhea before bed time. The next morning, there was clear regression. He was humming, and rocking, and getting upset about every little thing. Our friend Alicia came over, and had brought presents for Clark. She told him to get the white one from under the tree, and he had trouble finding it. That's old Clark. The day before his infraction, Clark had been helping me in the kitchen. He said he would get the oil for me, and I told him to bring the darker one. There are two bottles, and the oil color in one of them is slightly darker than the other. He brought it, no problem.

At least he had normal stools Saturday evening.

Now it's Sunday and he's the apartment police. "The coffee pot is done. The dryer is going. You didn't put soap in the washing machine, daddy." He is pointing to things and saying, "What's that?" when he knows the answer. He's chasing the cats and laughing maniacally. And when we send him to bed to sit for the thousandth time, he's already forgotten why he's there. Now he's crawling around the floor in his room, humming.

Sigh. And my husband and I are looking at each other and saying, "How did we put up with him when he was like this ALL THE TIME?"

I managed to do a fair amount of cooking on Saturday. I made a pot of questionable chicken soup (don't try to thaw chicken parts in the pot -- that's my advice to you), a big jar of ketchup, a pan of almond butter brownies, six chicken breasts that I cut up and froze after cooking, a pan of hamburger patties, and a pan of egg bread, which I ate. I ended up with another bad headache but I figured out it was from tension in my neck, from bending forward and cooking.

The headache mostly went away while I was sleeping. I had a dream about vampires and Jack Nicholson.

My parents might be here today, but definitely tomorrow. The apartment is a MESS. Oh well! I've still gotta make more travel food today for whatever we'll be doing tomorrow and the next day with my parents. It'll be a good dry run for our trip to Idaho in January. I'll have no computer access for four days. Now that's scary!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Italian chicken that wasn't really all that great

So, I was cooking again tonight and I thought I would try to be fancy.

I put together a pan of chicken breasts, added onion and garlic, and then poured half a large can of tomato juice on them. I then added some oregano and basil.

I took the other half of the can and put it in a small saucepan. I added onion and garlic to that pan as well, along with oregano and basil. I then set the heat to medium and put a lid on it, slightly ajar.

So the chicken was done about an hour later. I turned off the saucepan after about 45 minutes.

Well, the chicken was just swimming in the tomato sauce, which didn't cook down at all. Boo.

The tomato juice in the pan, though, had cooked down nicely, but there was really only enough for two chicken breasts, three if you were stretching.

Hm. OK, so next time, less tomato juice in the oven, more tomato juice in the saucepan.

My parents, brother, and sister are visiting for Christmas. So am also racking my brain to come up with recipes for my family, since I figure they're going to at least be eating some breakfasts with us. I am going to try a spinach egg breakfast casserole type thing. Since we're only about halfway through stage 2, our options are limited. I feel like I'm in a neverending episode of Iron Chef, where I have to make dozens of dishes out of the same ingredients. Ha!

Oh, I also made some spaghetti squash. I think I'll dress it up with olive oil and salt and some other spices as yet to be determined.

I'm tired, people. Tired. I write scripts and voice act for podcasts at Pendant Audio if you're interested in that sort of thing. Anyway, I recorded a bunch of lines last night and I've been turning in about a script a week, which is really good, and I still have two more to complete before the new year. Ack.

Oh, and during the first week of January we're flying to Boise, Idaho and then driving two hours to Twin Falls to visit my husband's family.

Yeah, that should be interesting, trying to get SCD food from point A (civilization) to point B (middle of nowhere). Don't worry, I know about what the airlines allow and what they won't. And they won't allow A LOT. *sigh*

I hope your holidays are shaping up to be happy! I'm at peace with the whole dealie-o. I'm not about to beat myself up about any of it at this point. So a very happy holiday to you readers out there. Thanks for being there!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poor planning

I was determined to have a few marathon cooking sessions over this weekend so that I could concentrate on the rest of the week with a minimum of distraction.

So! Into the kitchen went I on Saturday at about 11 a.m. The morning was spent grabbing a few essentials, including a few new canning jars, hamburgers, chicken breasts, and such.

Two batches went into one of my newly purchased Kerr jars. Hooray for mayo!

All did not go according to plan, however. I had some trouble separating the yolks from the whites and ended up wasting an egg or two that way. Since mayo requires yolks only, I ended up with a bunch of whites.

Self, thought I, I will try to make meringues.

So I whipped up the egg whites, added less honey due to the immense amount in the recipe from the Pecanbread site, a little vanilla, and I had a shiny fluffy mass of meringue. Yay.

I spooned it into a large Ziploc bag and cut the corner off to pipe them into little piles of what looked like white angel poop, for I am fancy.

And then I set the oven at around 200 degrees, and stuck them in there.

I fed Clark my last hamburger for lunch and there was no more leftover food, which meant there was nothing for me to eat. I made a batch of ketchup and got that packaged up in my second Kerr jar. Two hours later, at 1 p.m., I checked the meringues. They were not dried out.

I took a little nap. At 2 p.m., they were still not done. Finally I jacked up the heat on the oven to 300 and 20 minutes later, they were closer to done, but not really, so my first batch of meringues was not a success at all.

I was also in a low blood sugar rage and nobody wanted to be around me. I scraped up some of the meringue substance and ate it off the sheet, and perked up. I fed a few to Clark who thought they were the bees knees. Guess I'll have to try those again sometime.

I tossed a pan of hamburgers and a pan of chicken into the oven. Those were done at around 3:15, and I finally got to have lunch along with my migraine. Boo.

And that was my Saturday disaster. *sigh* At least Clark got to have chicken salad for dinner, which he loves.

On to Sunday!

I made Clark and I carrot pancakes for breakfast.

Clark was very happy to polish off, oh, nine of them or so. And then I told him he couldn't have any more so I could eat something. Sheesh.

No mother, he's not starving. I swear.

We then went to Ikea, which was buckets of fun as usual. I got a $2 frying pan, a $5 package of food storage containers, and Swedish coffee. Oh, you Swedes. I love your sense of style, your commitment to environmental responsibility, and your sassy food choices. Jeffrey picked up some Christmas gifts for Clark on the sly. Clark loves their little wood train sets.

Then, home again. I was all about soup today. I had put some bags of chicken parts in the fridge to thaw. Jeffrey informed me in the morning that one of them had sprung a leak. Why not, I love salmonella in the morning.

Anyway, I put on a big ol' pot of chicken soup to boil. Then I decided to play with butternut squash. Jeffrey had oh so helpfully peeled a big one for me.

So I put four pounds of butternut squash, about 1 1/2 sweet onions, and 1 pound of peeled and cored apples chopped up in a soup pan. I added 10 cups of water.

Then I sat down and cried as every muscle in my right arm was hurting from chopping up all of that. Whee. Hey, at least my wrist wasn't too bad, which was a miracle.

I simmered the squash soup for about an hour and a half. Then I pulled out every bit of the onion and processed the soup through my blender in batches.

The first batch had about half the squash and all of the apples. I added 1/2 tsp of ginger and 1/2 tsp of salt to that batch and ate that with Clark.

Too much ginger! Clark didn't like it. Oh well.

The second batch, which was the rest of the squash, I processed with 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp salt. This tasted better, but still a bit bland. Also the onions were a bit too strong I think.

So I will work on that more before I post a recipe. It was great fun and delicious anyway. Hooray.

Next I made two pans of egg bread, and they really weren't dried out enough, but oh well. Into the baggies they went for Clark's lunch tomorrow.

I then made a pan of almond butter brownies. I seem to be tolerating them now, yay! I ate three of them and nothing bad happened. I had stopped at Whole Foods to get another jar of almond butter, and they were totally out of the cheap brand. That made me mad, until I opened the pantry and saw a jar that I had apparently forgotten existed. Um. Yay!

And then my chicken soup was done at about 5 p.m. I let it sit on the stove until 7, and separated out the chicken and I still burned my fingers. Blah.

But I had a great haul of food. I have a biggish container of squash soup, two big containers of chicken soup, a small amount of chicken salad that I'll be eating at lunch today, some almond butter brownies, egg bread, and I still have a decent amount of mayo and ketchup to last me the week.

I did a bunch of other stuff over the weekend and still somehow feel relaxed. It's interesting. For the butternut squash soup, I peeled two apples. It took me like five seconds and I didn't even think about it being odd or too much work. Huh. Old me would have definitely thought it was a pain. I probably would have whined about it too. Hmm.

So that is a rundown of another SCD weekend for you. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Out of the kitchen

This week has been going really well. All my cooking on the weekend paid off, and I have hardly done any cooking at all.

Clark really likes hard boiled eggs. He has two for breakfast in the mornings. If I could make some carrot pancakes in advance, he could have some variety, too.

The weird thing is...I think I miss it. I miss being constantly in the kitchen.

I keep thinking more about recipes. I never considered myself a real foodie, but maybe I am. Or all the time in the kitchen is converting me.

I was raised in the midst of cooking and food. My grandmother was half Italian, and her mother before her came over from Italy. She and her husband departed Calabria on a boat and crossed the oceans, 100 years ago.

I wonder what that was like, being young, making that journey. It must have seemed like a fantastic adventure. My great grandmother taught herself English from watching television. They didn't speak Italian around their children because they wanted to be sure they would fit in.

But my great grandmother brought her heritage along with her, recipes that have now been passed down through the generations. Her Easter bread is made by my family every year. I have been told that all Italian families have their own recipes. I haven't participated in that tradition since my gluten intolerance popped up a few years ago, and that does make me sad sometimes. It used to be a grand competition, where we would all taste each other's and decide whose was the best that year. My grandmother's salad dressing is legend in its simplicity. Only a few of us know how to make it right.

Until I was 10 years old, we lived downstairs from my grandmother. Since I was apparently an escape artist, I would leave our apartment in the middle of the night, climb up the stairs, and sleep on the doorstep of my grandmother's apartment. She would hear me and let me in. Over the years, I spent many hours in her kitchen. When we got older, she would invite each of us for dinner, like a small party, to eat with her and my auntie Karen. And of course, I would inevitably say, "Grandma, I'm full," and she would have none of it. "No you're not!" she'd say.

I remember her hands most of all. Her fingers were short and almost stubby, but she always had her nails done nicely, as was her makeup. Her wedding ring had been reworked into a fantastic cocktail style, and she always wore it. She bustled around the kitchen, and always had cookies in the cookie jar, glass with a metal lid that clanged suspiciously if you tried to sneak one. She kept her keys in the kitchen in a milk glass chicken. Every Wednesday was pasta night.

I'm told that I would sit near her while she made salad when I was very small, and she would feed me little pieces of the vegetables she chopped up. One time she gave me a piece of onion, and I ate it, no complaints, making no strange faces.

She was always there with a smooch and a tissue tucked up her sleeve for whatever emergency would arise. She wiggled our baby teeth loose when we were about to lose them because my mom thought it was too icky. :) And she was always adamant that our hands be clean before dinner. She would smell them to make sure we used soap.

We would have sleepovers on the couch, or on the spare bed in my grandmother's room, or we'd cuddle up with auntie Karen in her big bed. I would have tea for breakfast and feel very grown-up.

Christmas was always a big event. There were lists and lists of items to bake. My mother and my grandmother would both be in the kitchen, making tons of cookies, brownies, spice cake, nut cups, pfefferneuse, and more. We'd frost cookies and sneak bites of everything while packaging it all into tins with waxed paper in between the layers. We carried them down into the basement until Christmas, pounding our way down the creaky staircase, and my mother would yell that we sounded like a herd of elephants.

Christmas Eve was the big event. We'd all exchange gifts in the wood-paneled basement, which had a bar and plenty of space for treats. The large freezer served as another table as well. I always remember my mother buying herring in a jar for our uncle Kenny, who would sit at the bar eating it with crackers. I wrinkled my nose at it. The space heaters would be humming and we'd all sit around, opening gifts, and eating and talking and laughing until it was late.

It's strange, as you get older and people start to fade from your life, how those memories are still so clear and sharp. In my mind, my grandmother is eternally black-haired and smiling, as is my aunt Karen, my cousins are young and childless, my siblings are round faced and teasing. It's only with a shock that I realize that many of my relatives have passed on, that my remaining relatives are much grayer and more wrinkled, that my brother and sister are adults, and I am now 30 years old and have left much of my confused childhood behind.

I never questioned the love of my family; it was absolute and unchanging, unlike what most people experience. And now I am 2000 miles away from all of them, and sometimes family feels very far away.

Now that I am on SCD, my mother has talked with me frequently about Christmas. My parents are flying in with my brother to visit me and my sister. The question foremost on her mind? "What can you eat?" she says, her voice filled with concern.

And I smile, and explain that these early stages of limits are only temporary. I can tell she's not convinced. How can she be? She was raised to believe that cooking is an act of love, an act of God, that nourishing the body is nourishing the soul. But that's all right.

So was I.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More behavior gains!

Today my son's bus driver had told my husband that he wanted to find a bigger car seat-like thing for our son to sit in on the school bus. My son is very large for his age, and Clark has trouble fitting in the current one.

We had figured the reason he was in a seat like that was because he had gotten up and run around when he wasn't supposed to.

Today, though, the bus driver told my husband that if he couldn't find a bigger seat, he was OK with Clark just sitting in a regular seat. "He seems a lot better now," said the bus driver.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Weekend cooking -- chicken soup and more

You will save yourself a lot of sanity if you cook a lot on the weekends. And boy, did I cook.

On Saturday I made a huge pot of chicken soup. The recipe is mentioned in the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle.


Chicken legs and thighs, about 4 pounds or so
Ten peeled carrots or 1-2 pounds of baby carrots
1-2 onions
garlic cloves
4-5 stalks of celery

Get a big pot and fill it halfway with the chicken parts. Add peeled or baby carrots, chopped onion, garlic cloves, and celery. Fill pot with water until it almost covers the contents of the pot, but not quite as more water will cook out at the start.

Put a lid on it and simmer for 4 hours. You'll need to check it and add more water as it cooks.

After making the soup in this way, I added a teaspoon of sea salt and a teaspoon of sage. Next time I'll try adding the sage ahead of time, but spices sort of vanish when you cook something for four hours, so I'm not sure if it will make a difference. I ended up with a lot more chicken than necessary, so I separated out some of it to use for chicken salad later in the week.

On Sunday, I did some more marathon cooking. First, I cooked three chicken breasts in the oven with olive oil, salt, sage, onion and garlic. I let it cool, shredded it, and put it in the freezer. It was yummy, and I know, because I ate some out of the pan. :) I would have cooked more but that was all the chicken breasts I had left.

I also cooked a pan of hamburgers with the chicken. I get the frozen ground sirloin patties at Costco. They are a very good deal and don't have additives. I put them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and put garlic and onion on top of them. I discarded the onion pieces after cooking because you can't eat them until later on in the diet.

Then I reduced the heat in the oven and made another pan of almond butter brownies for Clark's lunches. I ate one, to see if it would bother me. It didn't seem to, but I didn't feel that wonderful after eating it, either.

Next was two pans of egg bread. I cut that up and stowed it in baggies for Clark's lunches next week.

I also made mayo! Hey, remember how I promised you a photo? Well here it is! Don't say I never gave you nothin'.

Hopefully it won't taste sucky. I used light olive oil, but I fear this light oil isn't as light as the other light olive oil I got before. We'll see.

And then after that, I boiled up two pounds of baby carrots for lunches, too. Then I packaged up some chicken soup and baby carrots for my lunch on Monday.

I want to make ketchup again but I don't have any jars. Oh, if you want to buy individual Ball jars or something like it, go to a craft store like Michael's. I can't use a whole case, so I think I will go there and grab a couple for stuff like this.

Friday, December 7, 2007


So Clark has, once again, caught a cold.

As he was eating yesterday he said, "I'm sick a lot."

Well, he's clearly *aware* of it, where before we didn't really know. It's so cool to have thoughts and feelings popping out of him on a regular basis now.

He is bringing home interesting drawings from school. He brought a wonderful police officer, with a hat. He made a holiday card, with a snowman drawn on the front. The snowman had large, orange ears and was adorable.

I guess I'll have to post a picture, huh? OK, I will. Later. I will!

I'm at the point in stage 2 that I suspect a lot of people get to. I think at this point, you are tired of the foods you've been eating, but you are also overwhelmed by the thought of adding more. I mean, let's face it, there's a LOT of food to test. Meh.

So today I made some pancakes with canned wild salmon and eggs. It was passable, but not good enough to put up here proudly or anything. I wanna mess with seasonings. OK, fine, I'll share it. They're not bad, just not great. You know?


2 cans wild salmon, drained
5 eggs
1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar

Mix, fry, eat. My son liked them and so did I, you just don't really want to eat a lot of them. I'm not saying that because there's some crazy side effect, I'm just stating the fact of the matter. I didn't want to eat a lot of them. :)

Tomorrow, mad shopping. I am on a quest for SCD legal vanilla, and we will be buying lots of food. Also a heating pad, and I need to find a thermometer for I will be making goat yogurt! Whee! Oh crap, I have to order the legal probiotic for the yogurt! Better do that.

Natural, no sugar added applesauce has saved my life and my sanity. You have to make choices on SCD to buy products from time to time rather than make them from scratch. This was absolutely the right decision on the applesauce. And I have about 12 jars of it sitting on the floor in my kitchen. You think I'm kidding. Well, I'm not! A photo here would be proof, but alas, I am tired and also lazy.

Also, I think the melatonin my son is taking is SCD legal. Woo!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Recycling is bad (kind of)

OK, so that almond butter jar I salvaged for ketchup?

Well, I painted the floor with that ketchup, because I am a klutz. SMASH.

Honestly, it was the worst glass breakage I've ever seen. It just shattered into paper-thin microscopic fragments everywhere. I spent 20 minutes carefully cleaning up glass. Booooooo.

I think I'll try an actual Ball jar or something.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


So I finally took the plunge and made SCD ketchup. And dayum, it's pretty good!

I decided I would recycle a jar! So I took an empty almond butter jar and scrubbed and scrubbed to get that really sticky label off it it. Finally it was all shiny and clean. Hooray.

I then took a small saucepan and added the ingredients of doom. Ketchup is red, like lava, and dangerous as all tomato products are when heated.

Here's the recipe I used:


3 cups tomato juice
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp white distilled vinegar
1 tsp honey

Mix the tomato juice, salt, and vinegar. Simmer until thickened. Add the honey and complete the cooking. Pour into a jar and refrigerate.

Now here's the part where I give you tips, because ketchup is evil. It's evil because you can't really simmer it unless you enjoy getting burned. You can't really leave the lid on, either, because you need it to reduce, and it will do that faster with the lid off.

So I started it off with medium heat. I then stirred continuously. It should be bubbling while you're stirring it.

If it's at a good temperature, you can stir it and it can bubble and it will only spit at you if you do something like slow down, get distracted, or try to take a bathroom break. So go to the bathroom before you start!

Switch hands every so often if you get tired. If you slow down too much, your sauce will spatter onto your hands, which is about like being snapped with a rubber band. This is a sign that you should hop to and pay attention.

It will seem like it is never getting thicker, and then in 20 minutes, it will start to look vaguely ketchup-like. At this point, it will be thicker, and so you will probably have to turn the heat down a little more. You'll be able to tell because your rhythm with the stirring won't be working anymore, and you'll get splattered with hot tomato justice.

Turn it down and keep stirring for another 15 minutes or so. You're done when you say so, because you're the cook, and YOU make the rules. Seize your power. Feel your anger. It is your destiny...wait, that's the Emperor.

This is the result. It's a bit thinner than regular ketchup, but it is surprisingly tasty on scrambled eggs. And hamburgers. And chicken. It is made of yum. And tomatoes.

Green bean conversation

Yesterday, I saw that Clark had come home with a spork in his lunch box. I was surprised, since we have never sent him with utensils, figuring he'd just rather eat with his hands. Of course, this was not always so. Like many autistic kids, Clark had a serious aversion to touching anything slimy, wet, or greasy.

But not anymore!

Going gluten free really helped him with that at first, and he continued to progress through casein free, and now on SCD. He has almost no aversion to touching any kind of food, although cleaning out the pumpkins at Halloween did give him pause. But then he dove in. :)

So I held up the spork and asked him, "Clark, why do you have this?"

And he thought and thought. And he said, "It's for the beans. So I don't make a mess. At school." Yay! Some great conversation progress, there.

We usually send him with a baggie of cooked green beans, assuming he'd eat them with his hands, but I suppose a teacher gave him a spork to eat them. Aww. :)

Our toxic world

Don't you think it's kind of strange that so many people seem to have chronic illnesses, that autism is on the rise in a big way, that conditions such as multiple sclerosis have no known cause or cure?

Did you know that there are many diseases just like MS, that have known causes, and that MS is just a catch-all term for demyelination without a known cause?

And what about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Nobody knows what causes that, either.

How can "we don't know why this happens" be a valid diagnosis of any condition?

So, what could be causing all of this? Well, for one, our environment is full of nasty toxic chemicals that are absorbed by everyone and everything. We're just now hearing the news about how nearly 25 percent of toys now being tested contain lead (try for safer options).

As time goes on, I think exposure to all of these toxins can cause a chain reaction of events that ends up with you being miserable.

But chemicals aren't the only thing that can start your body down the road of being constantly out of whack. Dust, pets, seasonal allergies, those chemicals we use for cleaning, pesticides in food -- all of this stuff will also contribute to your allergic load.

See, there's only so much that our bodies can take. That's why, for example, I noticed that when my seasonal allergies went into overdrive, so did my rheumatoid arthritis. I found that if I cut back to more non-allergenic foods when my allergies were going nuts, my arthritis would calm down, as well.

So what's affecting you? Heavy metal poisoning, chemicals in your bedding and sheets, particulate pollution from semis on freeways...some people are more sensitive than others, of course, but we're bathing, sleeping, dressing, and driving in a toxic sludge of chemicals each and every day. Because I live in California, there's even a sticker on my car saying it contains cancer-causing chemicals.

What does that have to do with gut dysfunction, you might be asking?

When your body is constantly overwhelmed with all of this crap, your body is undergoing a lot of stress. Your immune system is trying to fight off a bunch of stuff, and it gets confused (autoimmune disease) and overwhelmed (immune dysfunction).

So you end up with an exhausted system that can't fight off the most basic infections. Eventually you get sick with something you just can't fight off by yourself.

Then your doctor prescribes antibiotics. Antibiotics can be great, when necessary and not overused, but they kill good and bad bacteria alike. And when the good bacteria isn't replenished immediately, bad bacteria step in to fill the void.

As your condition progresses, more good bacteria die as more bad bacteria fill in the void. And most of the good and bad bacteria that reside within you are in ... the digestive system, the heart of your immune system.

When the bad bacteria thrive, they damage your digestive system further. The system becomes so damaged, that larger particles of food start to leak through the barrier that's supposed to not let them through until they're good and digested.

That's leaky gut syndrome. It can also be caused by or aggravated by gluten intolerance. In sensitive individuals, gluten tears and rips its way through your intestines. It's called the "protein with teeth" for that reason.

When these bits and pieces of food leak through your intestines, your body has to do something with them. It tries to use them, and so it starts sticking them into your tissues wherever it can.

In certain individuals, your immune system gets suspicious of these little not-digested food particles, and eventually, something triggers your immune system to attack them. Unfortunately, while attacking these "invaders" your body starts destroying your own tissues in the process. That is how, it is postulated, leaky gut syndrome can start an autoimmune disease.

A large percentage of autistic kids have gut dysfunction. I know my son has gut dysfunction and immune system dysfunction. For example, as a reward for my son's good behavior, we would take him to the play area in a local McDonald's. If he received seven good behavior stickers, he got to go play.

And EVERY SINGLE TIME (I kid you not), he would get sick within 24 hours. Every time. Why? Because his body is out of balance and working in overdrive.

My son was born toxic, as are most of us today. He was exposed to toxins through me. He was born with a ventricular septal defect, a small hole in his heart. These defects have been linked to maternal exposure to air pollution. Did it contribute to his condition today? I don't know, but it's interesting, you know?

So why don't they do more studies on it? Because it's not profitable. Medicine is a big big big big business. Studies are done on drugs, because drugs make money.

Go to the Arthritis Foundation web site. In the past, the warnings were that "fad" diets were dangerous. Now, on the "alternative" section of the web site, it begrudgingly devotes a few lines to possible food intolerances.

I'm taking the much-hailed Enbrel. The package insert lists risks such as heart failure and lymphoma.

Oh, but click on over to the sponsors page:

Abbott, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Wyeth. The page is a who's who of the biggest drug companies in the world.

Of course the Arthritis Foundation will say diets are dangerous. Don't want to make the sponsors mad, now do we?

I saw a fascinating video about how toxic our environment is, and how consumerism is at the heart of why our planet is being trashed at a fantastic rate. We are all contributing to this mess, every day. It's about 20 minutes long; you can view it here:

Not a single doctor I've ever seen has thought that food, allergies, or our toxic environment just might be contributing to a chain reaction that seems to be at the heart of "modern" diseases we are seeing today.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Are you happy?

I got to thinking about how, when you have a chronic disease, you put up with far more from your own body than you would put up with from anyone else.

I mean, think about it honestly. If you went through the list of your symptoms, with whatever chronic disease you might have, and you described them to someone who was NOT constantly ill, do you think that person would consider your condition to be acceptable?

I'm going to bet not.

I think about how I spent a year -- a year! in agony. I think about how I would sit on my bed, about to call the doctor's office, because I was in too much pain to wait until the next appointment. I think about how I would call, feeling defeated, and I would try not to cry as I described the pain I was in, how the medication wasn't working.

I think about how when it was time to go in and get my son out of his crib in the morning, that I would think that there was no way I'd be able to lift him. I think about how I would lie in bed after waking up and I would feel how stiff I was, joints throbbing, arms and legs feeling like they were just too heavy for me to get out of bed.

I think about how if I grasped something too hard, or turned a knob too quickly, I'd see stars and everything would swim in my field of vision.

I think about how I was always so tired. So, so tired. I think about how foggy my thought processes were, and how I just couldn't concentrate, or remember anything.

Brain fog was the first sign I recognized in the medical papers I started reading. It is a symptom of gluten intolerance.

But whenever people asked how I was doing, I'd just whisper that I was fine. I lied to other people, and I lied to myself.

I guess the worst part of all of it is that the doctor who was treating me genuinely was doing the best she could do.

My new doctor summed it up best. She gave me my recommendation for a new rheumatologist. I asked her about him.

"He doesn't believe in diet," she said. My face fell a bit, and she added, "None of them do."

I already knew that, I guess. It's just hard to hear.

So every time I see a new rheumatologist, I feel like I'm walking on eggshells when I tell them that dietary changes really helped me. I guess I figure they're going to yell "WROOOOOOOOOOOOONG!" like Lex Luthor in Superman Returns or something.

They never do, though. They put on a poker face, and say nothing.

But I tell them anyway. Because if even one doctor takes what I say to heart, maybe...maybe something will happen.


The medical community is fully 20 years behind any research currently being done. Gut dysfunction is considered to be the last great frontier, and it is probably the part of the body that is the least understood by modern medicine. A thyroid specialist told me that. He told me that his son had recently developed rheumatoid arthritis. I told him he should seriously consider looking into dietary changes to help him, and I think he took it to heart.

So here I am, trying to let people know that it's not all hopeless. Someone told me that, you know. I told a few people that dietary changes helped me on a rheumatoid message board. One person laughed at me. He told me, "You just haven't accepted that this disease is going to ruin your life."

I didn't believe that.

Studies show that about 50 percent of people who are diagnosed with RA are completely disabled within 10 years of diagnosis.

I was going to be one of those people. In fact, I was going to apply for disability. But I thought, "I'll probably be denied. I'll try this diet thing in the meantime."

It was only a week before Thanksgiving and I tried it. I didn't care about the holidays, I didn't care about any of that. I wasn't going to throw a fit about not being able to have cookies and pie. I was in too much pain.

On the fourth day, I woke up with a clear head. The swelling in my hands had dramatically decreased. I smiled, for the first time in as long as I could remember. I looked at my husband and said, "HI!" I felt like I hadn't seen him, really SEEN him, in ages.

I was getting better, for the first time since I'd been diagnosed. And I had something new and precious and shiny that Christmas.


Allergy testing

People wonder at times why I tell them to run elimination diets. Some people have told me, "But I've been tested. I'm not allergic."

Well, here's the thing. Allergy tests are not perfect. There are also several types of allergy tests.

The most common type of allergy test is the IgE test. The IgE test tells your doctor if you are allergic to something. By allergic, I mean that it looks for foods that, when eaten, will cause an anaphylactic reaction that will kill you.

That is what the IgE test will show.

There are a couple of ways of doing the IgE. One is by skin prick testing and another way is by a blood test. Either one will show if you will swell up and die if you eat peanuts, for example. Because these types of reactions are severe, your insurance will cover IgE testing, but not food intolerance tests (IgG testing, which I'll talk about a little bit later).

So my doctor tested me, and I came up undetectable on absolutely everything, except for cats, on which I scored moderately allergic.

My son was also tested for allergies a year ago and scored a big fat zero on everything as well.

My doctor said I should make sure my cat doesn't sleep with me. Well, see, my cat is getting older and thinks I'm his mom, so at night he's permanently attached to my hip. And if I try to keep him out of the bedroom, he will scratch and claw and yowl in order to get to me.

Zack puts the "Duh" in Devoted

Now, you know from reading my journal that I was reacting strongly to gluten. In fact, pretty much all of my out of control inflammation was tied to food. So why doesn't it show up on an IgE test? intolerance is not an allergy.

I can't stress this enough, people. You can be very intolerant to a food, and not allergic to it in the slightest. If I eat gluten, I will not die. But I will probably have an arthritis flare.

So, that's the cool thing about SCD. Not only does it promote healing of your digestive system, but if you use the approach at the Pecanbread web site and introduce foods slowly, you get the best of both worlds. It's an elimination diet, at heart.

The only criticism I have of the initial foods in the Pecanbread protocol (meats and eggs) is that certain people will be intolerant to those initial foods as well. So you may want to try something a little different for the initial diet. Instead of doing chicken, eggs, and beef, I'd suggest wild salmon (only wild!) and/or cod fish, along with the cooked carrots for a less allergenic intro diet.

I'd do the wild salmon/cod fish and cooked carrots for at least three to four days. The next thing I'd add would be the cooked green beans and cooked squash. After a week, I'd start introducing some of the other foods and gauge how I feel. Stick to four days between each food. I introduced eggs later and seemed fine, but I wasn't sure, so I was glad I waited.

The other type of testing you can do is IgG testing. This type of testing will show delayed reactions to food -- intolerances that show up within 2-4 days. It's not totally accurate, but it's pretty good. Keep in mind that IgG testing only works if you are eating the foods in question, so if you are doing an elimination diet, you should wait until you've introduced all the foods you think you might be having problems eating.

My doctor said I would have to pay for IgG testing, because insurance doesn't cover it, or, if I'm not so worried about real numbers, then I could elimination diet. And I'm already doing that with SCD.

No two people are the same, so when you try a true elimination diet, you will be able to pinpoint foods that you personally have a problem with. And at the same time, you will be able to promote healing. Many times, intolerances can be corrected after healing has taken place and good probiotics have been introduced.

Now in the future, if I'm still not sure about some foods after introducing absolutely everything, I can choose to do the IgG test, and I might. But for now, this is more than adequate.

It's no good to just remove a food group and see what happens, because you may have multiple intolerances. So if you have a problem with beef, eggs, and peanuts, and you cut out just eggs, you will still be having a problem with beef and peanuts, but you'll never know unless you cut them ALL out.

The other thing my doctor wanted me to do was to start probiotics. I showed her some of the pages from the Breaking the Vicious Cycle web site, that explains all of the awesome probiotics that are in the yogurt that Elaine recommends you make at home, which has about 700 billion probiotic thingies per cup. My doctor was suitably impressed and said, "If these amounts of probiotics are accurate, then yeah, it looks good."

So, I will be continuing according to plan. Once I get paid this Friday, I'm going to order some Progurt starter, and get going on some goat milk yogurt for both of us. Yay!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Happy birthday, Clark

My little monster turned five years old on Tuesday.

This was, as you might imagine, VERY EXCITING for a number of reasons.

One of the reasons was, of course, cake!

On the morning of his birthday, he asked if there was cake. I told him he would have cake after I came home from work.

Apparently, after I left for work, he asked daddy if there was a cake. Daddy said yes. Clark asked, "Where?" with eyes as big as saucers. Daddy told him it was in the fridge. :)

Well, finally the long wait was over, and Clark got to have his almond butter brownies.

These were VERY GOOD, according to Clark. And then he turned into Mr. Grabby Hands, and I told him NO MORE after he'd eaten two. The end. He then proceeded to take one in his lunch to school for the rest of the week, much to his delight.

I'd talk about how much I love the little monster, and how amazing it is that SCD has transformed our little communicatively challenged kid into a mile-a-minute question asker, but since I was just photoshopping the jello off the wall behind him -_- , I think I'll save that for another post.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Proving my own theory

Now, I started SCD with my son, based on my belief that I had severe gut dysfunction. My new doctor agrees with me.

But but! I have never had any of the classic symptoms that go along with gut dysfunction. I have never been underweight, and most of the time I have been overweight. While I am at a good weight now, my doctors generally feel I should lose more because of my arthritis. I have rheumatoid arthritis and my doctors have given me the most practiced poker face EVER when I tell them that diet is a major contributor to my condition.

But I ain't starving, people. I'm not underweight. I don't look malnourished.

But but! I've never had any real digestive problems. I've never noticed stomach pains, I've never noticed bad gas or cramping or diarrhea or any of that! Someone on one of my listservs said she has "perfect poops!"

Ha ha. People on SCD talk about poop pretty often, so get used to it. :)

But I digress. My son has always, always had loose stools.

Until SCD!

Suddenly he was having "perfect poops" as well. Whee!

And then I gave him raw lettuce! I was new to the diet and wasn't thinking. In an HOUR ... he ran to the bathroom and exploded. You know. Out that end.

Not pretty. But I was in wonderment. This had never happened to him before, and here it SCD illegal and he REACTED, big time.

I'd been going through the intro with him too, same way. I did not react to anything, really. Clark did, though. He cannot handle bananas right now. Instant explosion. Why? Don't know. They were definitely SCD legal, but for now, his body says NO.

OK. Fine. I'm still testing with him, going along, and finally it's Clark's birthday. I made him nut butter brownies, as our stage 2 graduation present to ourselves.

Clark had two. I had two. They were goooooood. :)

The next day I ate one brownie at work. And an hour later, I was in the bathroom.

"Hmm," thought I. "Perhaps that brownie did not agree with me." It wasn't exactly a serious bathroom problem, but it was enough to give me pause.

A few days later, I had a brilliant idea. I put about a teaspoon of almond butter on a piece of egg bread, added honey, a sprinkle of salt, and another piece of egg bread. Ta da! Egg bread sandwich.

Clark LOVED them. He ate two.

They were pretty good. I ate one.

I took two of them to work. I ate one of them.

In less than an HOUR, I was RUNNING FULL TILT FOR THE BATHROOM. I was on a conference call, ripped the headset from my ear and RAN. I almost did not make it.

I do not tolerate the nut butter.

And now, my stomach aches and hurts and I am in PAIN.

*blink blink*

It works. The diet works. It's REAL. It's working for ME.

Paradoxically, I am excited. Woo!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trying to help

A former acquaintance of mine has chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

I told her about diet changes. Well, I tried. Have you ever tried to boil down four years of reading research into a few sentences? It doesn't work well.

Well, finally, she snapped. In an e-mail she screamed at me. She told me I had no idea how she was feeling. And that it was so great that I found out that gluten affected me, but she had allergy tests and it didn't affect her. The end.

I tried to gently explain the different types of allergy tests, how an elimination diet was really the best way to be sure. I tried to explain that some people react to foods that never show up on any standard tests. I told her about new research that showed food reactions happening in the gut, far beyond the reach of blood or skin tests. I told her that it may not be gluten at all, but something else.

She had had enough. She was not going to listen to me anymore. And with that, our relationship was over.

That hurt. It hurt even more when I thought about how another relationship of mine went sour -- an acquaintance who kept suggesting that my son was autistic and needed to be tested.

Now, to be fair, I didn't have the first clue about how to go about getting tested. I asked his pediatricians and they all said my son was fine, there was nothing to be worried about.

But, I did resent her for that.

Maybe part of the reasons was because we weren't really close friends or anything, and her behavior and expressed opinions on other topics really weren't things I agreed with. Perhaps my recently lost acquaintance felt the same way about me.

But it does feel a bit like the shoe is on the other foot now.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Carrot pancakes and more

Clark had a great time at his birthday celebration, and was a BIG FAN of the almond butter brownies. I am going to add vanilla next time. They just seem wrong without it. I will post pictures once they are off the camera.

A few days ago I boiled up a bunch of organic baby carrots. I think I boiled about two pounds of them. Naturally, this made it difficult for me to drain them, since I do have arthritis in my hands. And then after I drained them and let them sit to cool, there were so many I couldn't really tip the strainer and dump them into a giant baggie.

It was late, and I was tired and I was complaining and giggling with my darling husband.

"Help meeeeeee," I whined.

Jeffrey looked at me, amused. "You're not going to be able to dump them in a bag."

"I know," I pouted. I started picking up handfuls of carrots and placing them into the baggie. I said, "This is ridiculous. It's like...the 19th century."

Jeffrey laughed. "Yes, the 19th century where they had ziplock bags and baby carrots."

I whispered to him conspiratorially. "You know what baby carrots are, don't you?"


And in the kitchen, we laughed and laughed until my sides ached, and finished putting the carrots away.

Tonight, we will have carrot pancakes from my recipe -- Clark's favorite.


1 1/2 cups well cooked baby carrots (water squeezed out, seriously)
4 eggs
1 tsp SCD legal vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp honey (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt

Mash up the carrots with the other ingredients until it's as smooth as you'd like, or you can puree it. Fry in a skillet with a small amount of oil.

Makes about 9 pancakes.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

When there are no other options

I do not read the news often.

It's hard for me to watch television news, or even read articles online because it's so negative. It's self protective, really. I dance on the edge of depression when life threatens to overwhelm me, and that threat looms fairly often.

Occasionally though I try to search for information to help my son, and I stumbled across a horrifying article. The article in question was from Mother Jones magazine, describing an institute called the Rotenberg Center.

I'm not going to post a link. You will be able to find it if you seek it out.

The saddest part of the whole thing is that this center takes in severely autistic and behaviorally disturbed people. Some are children. I understand that some of these children are self-injurious in ways that I can't even imagine.

Their treatment at this center is torturous.

The parents who send their children to this place are loud, organized, and have stood in the way of any law stepping in to stop what is happening there. They feel there is no other option.

But there are options. There are.

There is a large, biomedical community that is trying to help children (and adults) with problems like these. There are many anecdotal reports of several supplements that can help with behavior issues -- like DMG, which is a food, and B6 and magnesium.

A good place to get an overview about some of these treatments is here:

Autism Research Institute
This is a good place to start. Remember that biomedical interventions can help ANYONE with behavior issues, not just autistic children, because many children have food allergies which present as behavioral problems.

The information here can be confusing and overwhelming. But there is more help out there, a lot more help. There are Yahoo! groups dedicated to these parents with thousands and thousands of members.

This group is for those just starting on the biomedical journey, who have cut out gluten and casein. It's the first step for many people who want to find out if gluten and casein addiction has a hand in their children's problems. Parents on this list have autistic kids, ADD kids, ADHD kids, and others.

Dana's view
Dana is a frequent contributor on the GFCFKids list. She knows a lot about supplementation and healing the digestive system with enzymes. She recovered her autistic son this way.

This group is for parents who are implementing the specific carbohydrate diet. The SCD has been shown to heal ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, but it has also shown remarkable benefits to autistic children and other children with behavioral problems. This is a good diet to consider when you've eliminated gluten and casein, but you haven't seen good results. This diet is also recommended for people with celiac disease who did not get better after gluten was removed. It aims to heal the digestive system.

The Institute for Functional Medicine
My new doctor is listed on this web site. Doctors who believe in functional medicine treat you as a whole person, instead of like a walking disease. They look for imbalances throughout your entire body and they try to improve your overall health and state of mind.

If you cannot find a doctor to help you who is familiar with functional medicine, you will have better luck with someone who is a D.O., an osteopath. Doctors with D.O. after their name are trained to look at the body as a whole system as well.

I had been to many doctors before I found my new doctor. My previous doctors said things like, "You're're just have rheumatoid arthritis." I have researched for years to find answers. My new doctor was the first doctor to say, "You're not fine." She talked about leaky gut syndrome, about how toxic our bodies can be in our current environment. She talked about inflammation and stress. She wants to help me get better because I am not well.

I knew that. But I needed someone to believe in me, and she did. She does.

I think a lot of parents don't know where to turn, and when they are exhausted, they consider options that they never would have considered before.

You know your child best. You know yourself best. Never give up. Never stop fighting.

Monday, November 26, 2007


As I write this, fatigue has settled behind my eyes, making it difficult to concentrate. The last few weeks on SCD have been a whirlwind.

Something shifted over the past few days, though.

I got home, and Clark was hungry, so I checked out the chicken soup that had been simmering in the crock pot all day. It didn't look right to me, so I let it go. I went into the fridge and brought out leftover chicken salad. I had cooked four pounds of chicken breasts a few days previously and set them in the fridge to chill.

This chicken salad, I have to say, is the food that seems the most normal to me from all the SCD foods we've been eating. Simple and unassuming, made with homemade mayo, I had shredded half the chicken by hand the day before, slowly. I then mixed it with a liberal amount of mayo, finishing it with a sprinkle of sea salt and a few turns of a pepper grinder.

It wasn't easy to get there, though, because I learned that making a delicate emulsification of mayo was, in fact, more delicate than I'd figured.

I added light tasting olive oil to my blender -- too fast. I was in a rush, and that was my fault. The mayo never took, and I ended up throwing an entire cup of precious, costly olive oil into the trash.

I yelled. I was angry. But my anger was not going to magically turn the mayo into anything other than a soupy mess. So I started over, again, and this time, I relaxed. No reason to get tense about it. It had to be done.

Things suddenly felt a bit more manageable, when before everything felt like an obligation. Clark ate it up after it was done, and asked for more. And when I tasted it...ahh. It was worth the trouble.

So Clark had his leftover chicken salad. When I finally got to really check the crock pot, everything was overcooked and burnt. I hadn't added enough chicken to the crock pot in the morning, in my haste to get out the door. This resulted in not enough liquid, and everything burned.

I threw it out with a sigh. But I wasn't upset this time. It was time to make Clark's birthday cake.


1 16 oz jar unsalted Trader Joe's almond butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites (so you can lick the bowl! otherwise, two eggs will do)
1 tsp scd legal vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup honey (if you are not using vanilla, use 1/3 cup of honey


1 c almond butter
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp SCD legal vanilla
1/3 cup honey

Mix by hand (it will get thick). Using a spatula, scrape it out of the bowl into an 8" square pyrex dish that has been liberally oiled. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Who I am, really (part two)

Despite the devastation of losing both of our jobs, another dream was forming. My husband had discovered the joy of writing screenplays, and he wanted to become a professional screenwriter. We decided together that I would go back to work, and he could stay home with our son, Clark, and write. He completed several screenplays this way.

As for me, I continued to improve. I added foods back slowly, but had a hard time pinpointing any real reactions to anything besides gluten. I also limited dairy.

My healthy improved, and I lost weight quickly, eventually 40 pounds. I was able to discontinue the steroids and pain medications. My energy returned, and despite the attitude of the manager at my place of training, I was promoted and given my own store to manage.

I was an aggressive manager, and I attacked my new project immediately. Within the first few weeks, I caught one employee stealing and fired her. My district manager uncovered other errors that pointed to another employee stealing from the deposits, who quit before I ever met her.

I turned the store around, and at the end of my first nine months there, the store was turning double digit profits. I was number one in the district.

I was very proud, but the pay was far too low, and after all we had been through, we finally had to declare bankruptcy. I had to find another job, so I ended up in apparel as an assistant manager again, this time with better pay.

It was a decent job, and our plan was starting to really come together. Back after being laid off, back when Jeffrey had told me he wanted to be a screenwriter, we decided that it would be best for us to eventually move to Los Angeles. Part of the benefit of retail was that it was a very mobile job that could be done anywhere. So we started saving money with our newly clean slate.

During that time, we located my husband's grandparents, who he hadn't seen since he was a small child. It was a wonderful family reunion and making the connection with them was amazing. Shortly thereafter, they wrote my husband a check -- for all the missed birthdays and Christmases.

Added to the money we'd already saved, it was enough money for us to move to L.A. It was a difficult decision, especially since we had just made contact again, was his dream. By that time, it was our dream. Somewhere along the way, Jeffrey got me writing too. I wrote a screenplay, and then I started writing podcasts for Pendant Audio too. He believed in me, and made me believe in myself.

We drove across the country with our 3-year-old son, crammed into a moving van that only had two seats. I sat in between on two cat carriers, with our cats inside. Our trip took three days, and it was brutal. I transferred within the retail company, and started my new job almost immediately.

The new store in L.A. was terrible. I did not get along with any of the people there. My boss hated me, and the district manager didn't like me either. The difference was night and day.

Still, we were in L.A., and everything was new and exciting for a while. The job dragged on, and I befriended many of the associates at the store, despite my differences with management. I was clearly the popular favorite, which irked my supervisor even more.

Happily, one of the employees I befriended had a daughter who was a headhunter of sorts. One day, she cornered me and said, "I know things are awful with you. Tell me what's wrong." I told her everything, including how my boss was trying to find any excuse to get me fired.

Her daughter got me an awesome job, and I was able to drop my keys on the desk and walk out the door ... only a week before Christmas. It was easily the most satisfying experience of my life.

Christmas came and went, and it was a happy time. Clark turned four years old, but I felt there was no way he could handle preschool. He had always been difficult to deal with, and exhausting, and we never knew why. Finally we decided to enroll him in preschool, due to urging from his doctor.

The experience at the preschool was awful. This horrible woman told us, "There's something wrong with your son. He needs to go away. There was another boy like him, and he went away." They told us he needed to be evaluated. They had us come in and observe him. Clark didn't seem to understand a lot of the routines the kids were doing, but he didn't seem that bad to me. But many days, we would come in, and he was sitting by himself by a garbage can while the other children participated. I didn't think that was good for him at all, so we pulled him out.

The evaluation came, and they told us he had autism. I didn't know what to think, really. They were optimistic, and said that he was only mildly autistic, that he had a great shot at being integrated in the future.

I didn't know. I knew something had been wrong, I did. We always asked his doctors, and they said he was doing everything when he was supposed to do it. He seemed more intelligent in many regards. At the age of 2 he knew all uppercase and lowercase letters. But he couldn't communicate effectively at times. He could label everything, but not tell you what he wanted.

He went to a mixed special ed/general ed preschool. We met Mrs. Riley, the special ed teacher, and Mrs. Close, the general ed teacher. Mrs. Riley saw the apprehension all over my face and really put me at ease.

Clark thrived, absolutely. He had a great time and he did very well. We took him off gluten during that time, and his teachers noticed the difference in him. I felt good about it, and I went back through my old journaling of Clark. I saw that he had made no significant language gains, from the age of 2 to when he went gluten free. I was astonished.

I was worried again when Clark was about to enter kindergarten. Clark's birthday is in November, and the cutoff birthday in California is Dec. 2, making Clark the youngest kindergartener in the class. Clark was assigned an aide and went to a general ed classroom at a local kindergarten-only facility.

And it started all over again. The principal was downright hostile toward us. For the first day, there was no aide present for our son. They ended up taking him to an office and calling my husband so he could take him home, which was against the law. She told us it might take weeks to get an aide, which prompted us to contact the special ed support groups in the area. This resulted in legal action against the school for not complying with the law, which didn't exactly win us popularity points.

We went back to the school with Clark to tour the grounds with the principal. Clark was upset the whole time, humming and rocking. He knew what had happened that first day, and that people were upset with him. I felt so bad for him.

I tried meeting with the staff and giving them suggestions on how to deal with Clark. The principal moaned constantly about the fact that they weren't equipped to handle children like Clark. Despite him having an aide, the general ed teacher treated Clark too gently, and since Clark was so intelligent, he practically got away with murder. As a result, his behavior at home went downhill, too.

We called an emergency IEP meeting. At the meeting, the principal's behavior was absolutely inappropriate. She told us that we were difficult, that we weren't working with her. We asked about more challenging schoolwork for Clark, because he was so bored with the work he was getting, that homework was becoming a fight. She insisted he had to do the same work as the other kids, despite already passing the final exams for kindergarten (they used them as a test).

Finally, one of the people in the meeting suggested that Clark change schools, because it was clear he could not receive an appropriate education there. We decided to put Clark into another mixed classroom of general ed and special ed students.

Everything happened very fast. We had started Clark on a school track that started in the summer. When it was decided that he should change schools, he switched to a new track that was starting the very next week.

We met his teachers. I was still uneasy, and I was very glad when parent teacher conferences came around two months later. I then learned he had been headbutting and biting people. I think they were surprised when I told him that Clark never did that at home. We worked together to eliminate the behavior, but he was stubborn, as he always is.

It was around this time I discovered SCD. For a while I continued to toy with diets for myself. After moving to L.A., I had a hard time keeping my arthritis in check, so I started the Paleo diet. That actually went well, for a while, but I was still addicted to sugar and I would constantly sneak candy.

Finally I did an anti-yeast protocol and I went off all sugar, including all fruit, for two weeks. It was absolutely miserable, but I broke the addiction. After that is when I discovered the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.

I intended to try it for myself first and then bring Clark aboard, but my husband wanted me to try it with him right away. We had been frustrated by Clark's behavior issues for months and we were desperate to find something that worked.

After the first week on SCD, Clark stopped headbutting and biting, entirely. He was happy and cheerful and the words...they just keep tumbling out of him. I am so excited to see what he says next. My first posts to this blog detail some of the early progress.

I think this is the key for him, I really do.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Who I am, really (part one)

So I guess I should talk a little bit about myself, since I visit a lot of blogs, and I feel like I know those people pretty well, and there's really nothing on my blog yet to let people know who I am.

Several years ago, my husband and I were both working for a fairly well known suburban Chicago newspaper. I am not allowed to tell you which newspaper. I worked on the web site and my husband worked on customer service for the web site. We sat in adjacent cubicles and would pass love notes and toss paper airplanes back and forth.

The newspaper was eventually sold, as often happened back then. For a time we thought our jobs were safe, but we were wrong. We came back from lunch on a Friday and we were told to clean out our desks.

I was seven months pregnant at the time.

We were devastated. I tried to get another job at the newspaper. They told me there were no positions available. I tried going on job interviews at eight, nine months pregnant. That didn't go well.

I had my son, and when I had been out of work for about six months, I knew I had to get a job, and trying to get one in my field was not working. I finally secured a part time job in retail at a clothing store, which led to a full time job at a shoe store.

I worked my way up as fast as I could, and I became a keyholder at a $3 million store in five months, which is extremely fast in retail. After almost a year, the severence pay was running out, as was the unemployment money. I told them I needed a management job.

They agreed to transfer me. I went from a great district into a terrible district. I worked six days a week, 10 hours per day, for the next year.

Since I was finally full time, I thought I'd see a doctor about the curious swelling of the joints in my hand. They weren't painful, but they were enlarged, on the middle finger of each hand. I thought that maybe it was just from the physical nature of my retail job; I was unloading shipment trucks weekly, after all.

The doctor I saw diagnosed me with rheumatoid arthritis and sent me to a specialist. The appointment was three months away, and by the time I made it to that appointment, I was in agony.

I went downhill rapidly. My doctor kept upping my dosages at every appointment. Nothing really seemed to help. I was on steroids and pain medication daily. There were times when I was in so much pain, picking up a can of soda would cause me to cry out in pain. I would call the doctor's office in tears when I just couldn't make it to my next appointment.

I was finally able to get a new retail job. I entered a training program for store management. I was at my worst when I was starting this job, and the store manager I was training under thought I was slow and maybe kind of stupid. I could barely think, let alone remember things. Everything was just a haze.

Frustrated by everything, I started doing my own research. My first job out of college was a year as a medical copy editor, and I learned to read study abstracts on Pub Med. I found a few, small scale studies that tied food intolerances to rheumatoid arthritis. I also came across a web site that described a very strict elimination diet to test for food intolerances.

I had no medical support, but I thought I had nothing to lose. At the time I was considering disability, but I knew how hard it was to get disability, so I thought I would try this. It was only a week or so before Thanksgiving, but I was desperate.

The protocol said to eat nothing but sweet potatoes, carrots, celery, peaches, pears, and cod fish for a week. Then you could start adding foods back in and see if there was a reaction.

On the fourth day, the swelling went down in my hands, dramatically. I felt like I was coming out of a coma, like I was seeing my husband and son for the first time in a year.

It was then that I finally understood what a flare was. My doctors talked about times when my arthritis would be more active, and painful, and that would be a flare. I couldn't imagine anything worse than the pain I had been in, and now I understood.

I had been in a constant flare since my first appointment with my rheumatologist. Over all of that time, all of the medications I had been taking had barely made a dent in my condition.

You know that saying, that when you're standing on a tack it takes a lot of aspirin to make it stop hurting? Yeah. I found the tack and took it out.

I told my rheumatologist. She said, "There have been some good studies on that," and that was the end of it. I felt like screaming. How could they not tell me that this might help me?

A month later, I had a weak moment and ate a piece of pizza. The next morning, I was swelled up, foggy, and miserable. It took me nearly two weeks to recover.

That was the end of gluten for me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Almond butter? Well, kind of.

Really expensive (or $$$$ in Disney's guide to eateries)

So I thought it was about time I try to make some almond butter, since I'm going to make Clark some sort of cake-like substance with it. I say that because I have two recipes from the Pecanbread web site, one for almond butter brownies and one for almond butter cake, and they are identical except one has a teaspoon of vanilla and one doesn't. That made me laugh.

I thought I would try my little Kitchenaid grinder.

I filled it about halfway with almonds and processed them into meal. I was doing that before I started SCD and it worked pretty well. Once it started to clump I added extra virgin olive oil a teaspoon at a time until it looked, well, buttery.

I wanted red, but did any of the stores have red? mine's white.

Heartened by my success, I scooped out the almond butter and decided to process a second batch. But could I follow my own directions? Of course not! I was raised by Italians, and the only way to make a good thing better is to mess with it.

So this time I figured it would be better if I added the oil along with the nuts at the start.

This was a Big Mistake. Not only did the grinder not want to grind anymore, it got really hot and started to smell like the motor might burn out. Sigh.

I popped the not-butter into the blender and I fared no better. I'd blend for 10 seconds, stop, scrape down, blend for 10 more seconds, etc. Finally I gave up and dumped the mess in the trash. Stupid blender.

Since I already have a coffee grinder, crock pot, bread maker, and blender, I thought this was enough for me. Oh no. Now I think I'm really going to need a small food processor. And an immersion blender. And a yogurt maker, because SCD is big on that. Perhaps a dehydrator. And finally I will drown in a sea of appliances, amidst a tangle of extension cords.

I am chained to my kitchen

Well, while I'm still up, I should talk about the rest of today.

Jeffrey really wanted us to go out and experience the day after Thanksgiving madness. The last three years, I've been in retail management, and so I've worked every day after Thanksgiving since even before then.

We wanted to have a nice day, but I wasn't sure how we were going to do that when I would have to bring food for me and Clark for lunch.

So I spent the morning getting food together.

I made the carrot muffins the night before, the ones I've mentioned previously. They turned out pretty good, except for the fact that the paper linings disintegrated in the refrigerator. I'm going to stick with pancakes from now on. It's just not worth it.

Clark had the leftover baked apples from Thanksgiving that he didn't seem to like then. The only difference was that they were now cold. I don't think he liked them warm.

I had a plate of chicken parts that I'd cooked last night, so I took the meat off the bones and mixed them with the last of the mayo I had. I put that in a little tupperware container.

Don't they look good? The ones I made look nothing like these.

I then boiled another batch of carrots and made a batch of carrot pancakes. I put all of those in Clark's little insulated lunch box along with an ice pack, and we were on our way.

It worked out well; Jeffrey was able to get a hamburger and fries, even though he felt guilty eating them in front of us. Clark was mostly fine with it, after daddy explained that they were "regular." I don't feel bad that my husband was eating that food; Clark is going to have to deal with that for a looooong time and the more practice he gets in refusing food from others, the better.

Clark ate all of the muffins (five of them) and a good portion of the chicken salad. He then had two of the pancakes.

We had a good time and Clark and I rode the carousel in the mall. Clark loved it! He told me solemnly afterwards, "That was a lot of fun." It is so great to see his awakening into himself. Ooh, one other thing.

While I was in the kitchen cooking the other day, I was frustrated because I couldn't find the salt. I said out loud, "Where's the salt?" Clark came over and said, "It's here, mommy," pointing to the regular salt shaker.

Did you know regular salt has dextrose in it? Which is a sugar? Yeah, me neither, at least not before SCD.

I said, "No, the other salt." I've been using a little sea salt grinder from Costco. And Clark said, "It's right there!" It was practically in front of my face; I don't know how I missed it.

The thing about that is that not three weeks ago, I had asked Clark to bring me the salt. I had the Morton salt out; you know, the one with the girl with the umbrella on it? I told him, it's blue. There's a girl on it.

It was literally right in front of him and he just did not see it. It was sooooo frustrating trying to get him to see it and pay attention.

And here he was, finding it, no problem at all.

Oh, this diet. Every time I get down about how hard it is, something like that happens, and it's like the clouds part and a ray of sunshine comes through.

My afternoon was spent cooking, baking apples and making chicken for tomorrow. And then I ate the rest of the apples, meaning I'll have to make more tomorrow, but damn, were they good.

Look, somebody else made apples and served them with yogurt. How smart of them.


2 pounds granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and cut into 1" chunks or smaller
1/2 cup water

Combine ingredients in large glass 9 x 13 pan lined with foil. Bake at 425 for 45 minutes. Let cool for a while, then scoop into a Tupperware container and toss them in the fridge.

Tension headache of doom

It's surprising when you go on SCD the little things you don't think about. Take for example over-the-counter painkillers, like Tylenol or Advil.

I've been avoiding ibuprofen ever since I suspected I had leaky gut syndrome. I'm sure most of you are aware that the medical establishment by and large looks at any sort of dietary manipulation with almost total skepticism.

Your standard doctor, who is generally full of himself and won't believe a word you say.

Honestly it's hard for me to believe that anyone with a severe digestive problem would NOT think food has something to do with it. I have an autoimmune disease, and there's a similar theory about the cause of autoimmune disease (as well as other diseases) called leaky gut syndrome. To my knowledge, I never had any overt signs of digestive imbalance, but the fact that I do have an autoimmune disease kind of points to leaky gut syndrome. I'll explain.

The theory is that people with leaky gut syndrome have increased intestinal permeability. What ends up happening is that because of the damage, food particles that aren't entirely digested end up leaking from your gut into the rest of your body. When the particles get out, your body tries to use them anyway, and starts sticking them into your tissues. Eventually your immune system gets suspicious and attacks these random molecules -- and your tissues in the process. Voila, autoimmune disease.

Your regular run of the mill doctor will not tell you this. In fact, if you ask them what causes autoimmune disease, they will tell you NO ONE KNOWS, likely accompanied by voodoo sounds and shaking of hands, ghostly wailing, etc. They will then prescribe you a buttload of medication, which is supposed to help you, along with an anti-inflammatory painkiller. They'll either tell you to take ibuprofen or Aleve, or they'll prescribe something like Celebrex.

However, drugs like ibuprofen (NSAIDs) or COX-2 inhibitors like Celebrex, actually can make your intestines MORE permeable. And since drugs like Celebrex are regularly prescribed in addition to whatever disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are given for rheumatoid arthritis, they actually end up making your condition worse.

Of course, no standard rheumatologist will ever admit to this, because they are right and you are wrong, no matter how clear it is you aren't improving on their regimen.

But I digress. On SCD it's even more limiting than that, since there is starch in every over the counter medication. So you have to choose if you want to take that medication loaded with corn starch, or suffer.

I don't know why I was so keen to avoid even acetaminophen; after all, I'm still taking sulfasalazine for my rheumatoid arthritis daily, and that has corn starch in it. But I really wanted to try.

So, I first tried wine. Not the best idea, but it is starch free. Worked for a little while. I tried massage, I tried sex (my husband was ever so helpful), I tried some coffee, I tried more massage. The headache was still there.

I went to sleep, and woke up shortly thereafter. I was in agony, and I knew I hadn't slept long. The clock said 12:50 a.m.

I whispered to my husband that I was going to take a shower. I took the hottest shower imaginable for about 20 minutes. I came out, still in some pain, but slightly better, and went into the living room.

For a while, I was sure I was going to throw up. I started shaking, which was weird. Since I didn't know what else to do, and because I remembered from my pregnancy days that reading seemed to help me with nausea, I picked up my friend's copy of Ultrametabolism, which was recommended to me by my new doctor.

Reading for a while, I was fairly pleased with the book. The author, Mark Hyman, quotes Loren Cordain, of Paleo Diet fame, and I found the section on stress to be particularly interesting, as I am often stressed. My life is one big ball of stress, actually. I do need to find more time to meditate and relax. I noticed the book mention saunas as a great stress reliever, and I was pretty sure my previous shower qualified, so I was happy.

Anyway, the nausea passed and I poured myself another glass of wine. I know, I know, but it's starch free! I sipped that while I read and later I had another wave of nausea. This one I didn't think I'd be able to fight off, but I eventually did, and I felt better than ever after that. Now my headache is pretty much gone, but it's 2 a.m. Oh well. I feel pretty triumphant.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


We're going over to visit with some very good friends this Thanksgiving. I told them not to worry about us, so this morning I have spent a lot of time cooking.

I promise some kind of photos. I promise.

We started off with some banana pancakes (one SCD ripe banana, one egg, mash it together with a fork, fry). Clark was really pleased with those and so far no diarrhea emergencies. Yay!

After that, I made a new batch of cooked mayo. I intended to get safflower oil, but that didn't work out, because it had added vitamin E and I wasn't sure if that was SCD legal. I'll have to look into that. I ended up getting some extremely light tasting olive oil, and that did the trick. It was very good!

Mixed that up, took a photo (I will post it later and then update this), and started in on some hamburger patties. I figured that if chicken salad was good, hamburger salad would be good too.


1 pound beef patties or ground beef
1 whole red onion, cut into large pieces
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup SCD mayo
1 tsp olive oil

In my skillet, I tossed in a whole red onion, cut into quarters. At this stage onion is only for flavoring, so you don't eat it. If you're further along, chop it up finer. I also added some fresh peeled garlic. I sauted that in about a teaspoon of olive oil and then put three 1/3 pound ground sirloin patties into the microwave to thaw.

After they thawed, I put them in a sauce pan and started browning them. But wait, that's pan frying, which is a no-no, right? Well, not exactly. I do it kind of half and half.

I pan fry them until they're almost done (or at least halfway to done), but then I add about half a cup of water to the pan and put a lid on it. Now you're doing more of a steaming, boiling kind of thing. Turn the patties about every five minutes. Every time you turn them, check the water level and add enough so there's about 1/4 inch of water on the bottom at all times.

You'll end up cooking them in the water for probably 20-30 minutes that way. The liquid will reduce and will taste really yummy.

So that's that. Chop up the hamburgers and mix with the mayo (add more or less to taste). Yum.

Once that was prepared, I moved on to making some little veggie puree muffins.

This one I got off the Pecanbread Yahoo! group. Diane on the group posted the recipe, but she doesn't remember who came up with it. You can also use the batter like a pancake batter. I first tried the recipe as posted, but then I made a bunch of modifications, which are reflected below.

VEGGIE MUFFINS (STAGE ONE without vanilla; stage two with it. I think.)

2 cups pureed fruit or veggies (water squeezed out, seriously)
4 eggs
4 tsp oil (coconut was recommended; I used olive)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp honey (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt

Mix together. Put in muffin tins with liners.

Bake at 400 for about 30 minutes. Makes 12.

I made the first batch with a mix of leftover green beans pureed in the blender and some leftover cooked carrots, and they were really too wet, so I edited the above to reflect that you really need to squeeze the water out of the cooked veggies really really well. I also decreased the eggs. The original had four eggs and one cup of veggie puree. I made them that way at first, but I thought four eggs was just too much. Besides, we need to eat more veggies anyway, not more eggs.

My second batch is with carrots, and I made a half batch of the above recipe to test that. Hopefully they'll be better (I'll edit this again if they are). Clark loved the too-wet ones, though, so another winner. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Damned bananas

So I started Clark on bananas ... I don't know, a few days ago or so. We've been very careful introducing new foods, only introducing a new one every four days.

When we did that, we had to wait until the bananas were SCD compliant -- very ripe, with lots of black spots. OK.

No, these bananas aren't ready either.

We gave him some very ripe bananas and he was fine. Then he had three in one day, which was kind of an accident. Jeffrey didn't realize I made Clark a banana pancake in the morning, and he had packed Clark a banana in his lunch, and then given him another banana as an afternoon snack. Clark had explody diarrhea after that.

Which is weird, because according to common knowledge, bananas are supposed to STOP diarrhea. Yeah, guess he missed the memo.

So we tried bananas again. We got a three pound bunch from Costco, which is where we usually got bananas before we were on this diet.

Well, waiting for those bananas to go ripe was like waiting for Christmas when you're eight years old. And yes, they were actually yellow when we bought them. They were like giant mutant never-become-ripe bananas. I glared at them daily. It didn't help. I even put one of them in a paper bag with an apple overnight, and it had ripened LESS than the rest of the bunch.

Finally we decided they were ready, and he ate one and had a bathroom emergency not two hours later. Huh. OK, so maybe they weren't so ready. They had the black spots but then I noticed they were still a little green on the stems.

Two days go by. Now we're at today. I'm thinking they HAVE to be ready now. They just have to be.

I was in the kitchen, making some baked apples that are soft enough to be applesauce so that Clark has something fun to eat at Thanksgiving. We are starting apple testing tomorrow.

And Clark was impatient and wanted some dinner. I didn't have a whole lot on hand, since I was peeling a bunch of apples, so I told him I would get him some chicken soup.

And Clark cried. He really cried because he was so sick of chicken soup. I hugged him and told him I was sick of it too, and I gave him a banana.

He ate it and then begged for another one. I suggested every other food I could think of and he turned it all down. I felt bad and gave him another banana. He then had the legal grape juice jello and he was done with dinner.

About an hour later, back to diarrhea. Sigh.

Well, I was supposed to test a new food, so I ate a banana. And then another one in a banana pancake because I was so sick of chicken soup. Nothing has happened to make me think anything is affecting me one way or the other, really, but my hands did swell up a little bit later. Hard to say if it was the banana, but still...curious.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An SCD birthday

I decided to try to make Clark chicken salad for dinner, since we are both so sick of chicken soup. When I got home, I tossed two thawed chicken breasts that I'd forgotten about into my trusty nonstick skillet along with about a cup of water.

I then grabbed the recipe for mayo from the Pecan Bread web site. Yes, you have to make that too.

It was a "cooked" recipe which made me feel slightly better, since you heat the yolks up just until they start to cook and then blend it with oil until it does its magical turn-into-mayo thing. Unfortunately I cooked it a little too long, due to the pan not being quite on the burner, which resulted in a scorched corner of the pan. In a panic to cool the pan quickly, I tried to run the edge under water and succeeded in adding a bit more water to the egg mixture. Whoops. I then stirred and stirred and the egg kind of un-cooked somehow, so it was OK and I dumped the mixture into the blender when I was satisfied.

I started blending, and tried not to get hit with little pieces of egg yolk as I added the oil in a thin stream. Clark stimmed a bit as his coping mechanism to deal with the loud noise, so he was rocking and humming for a little while. I really couldn't see what was going on in the blender, so I just kept blending and hoped for the best.

And in the end, I had mayo! Well, kind of. I'd take a photo, but I ran out of time. I'm going to make more though and I'll add a photo then.

It ended up creamy, but a bit less firm than I'd imagine mayo should be, and it unfortunately tasted too much like olive oil for my taste. I will definitely have to get some safflower oil.

I stuck my new mayo in the freezer to chill a bit and then cut up one of the chicken breasts for Clark. I popped that in the freezer on a paper plate as well for a few minutes, but Clark was pretty impatient and all that cooking had taken way longer than I'd figured. *sigh*

So I dumped a bunch of chicken on his plate and mixed about half of it with the mayo, and added salt and pepper. He said, "I like this!" but he says that with pretty much everything until he's at least three bites in.

I was trying to clean up when Clark said, "You can eat with me." I think. I get fuzzy on the phraseology sometimes, but I think he said that.

I said, "Well, I don't know what to eat. I don't want the crock pot soup, and I want to save the chicken for you. So I'll just sit here with you if that's OK." I took my cup of water and sat down across from him at our kitchen table.

He said, "We can share!"

My mouth fell open. He's never said that before. And then he said, "You need to get a fork."

I blinked, and went into the kitchen. I got one of our metal forks. He said, "No, a colored one."

I reached into the drawer with his reusable Ikea plastic forks and he said, "The yellow one. OK."

And I sat down with him and ate chicken salad. I got some more of the mayo and mixed it with the other half of the chicken on his plate and we ate and chatted about...oh, I don't know. Lately he's been such a motor mouth, said my husband, Jeffrey. Autistic kid, motor mouth? Does not compute. But yeah. Halfway through he didn't want it any more and asked me to put honey on it (I did). He then proclaimed he was done without a single bite of the chicken with the honey. Haha.

While he was finishing, Jeffrey said, "Your birthday is coming!" and Clark said a few of his standard responses, like Thanksgiving is coming, since he's gotten a little confused about Thanksgiving and his birthday, and that his birthday is November 27. But then Jeffrey said, "What do you get on your birthday?" and Clark covered his eyes with his hands and said, "You say it."

Jeffrey didn't know what Clark wanted him to say, so we both looked at him, and he whispered, "Say cake! Say cake for my birthday!"

We were so surprised. Then Jeffrey looked at me all crestfallen, thinking he couldn't have cake, but I just kind of blurted out, "I can do it."

Jeffrey said, "How?"

I said, "I have a recipe. For like these peanut butter brownies, I can use almond butter, we can test it." We're almost to stage 2, so I think we could do that.

At first Jeffrey didn't want to since we are still working on a variety of food for Clark to bring to school but then I said, "He could still bring them to school too," so he was sold. Yay!

Then Jeffrey said, "What else do you get for your birthday?" Clark looked confused. We told him, "Presents!" and Clark looked awed. Then he said he needed a new police car and a new garbage truck and a new dumpster for his birthday. A green dumpster.

We just looked at each other again. It's the first time he's ever told us anything that he actually wanted for his birthday.

Almond butter brownies. That's what I'm gonna make for him. Next week. And the other stuff? Well, we're just gonna have to see what we can do about that.