Friday, August 24, 2007

A birthday celebration....

Ah, the barbecue. Infinitely more of a success, and a lovely way to celebrate a birthday.
As you could tell from my earlier postings, I love a good barbecue and had a pretty miserable experience at NAH's coworkers a few weeks ago (food-wise, only).
Last night your allergic diner had hot-dogs (all beef) and non-allergic macaroni salad (no evil green stalk, no evil green spice derivative). The meal was complete with a cookie cake, which I love! It was a great evening with my non-allergic in laws. (and again, it's always comical to me that hot dogs, macaroni salad, and cookie cake are all foods I can eat but a banana will kill me. Have I mentioned that one yet? Bananas are as evil as the tomato. Thank goodness for multivitamins, no?)

Well readers, at this point I have some allergy-free news for you, both good and bad....good for me, bad for you!
The Allergic Diner and NAH are going on an honest-to-goodness vacation! No work, no phones, no work, no email, no work (getting the picture?), just peace and quiet and perhaps some hiking and biking. We leave tomorrow, TAD readers, and I won't be back to blog with you again until after labor day. I will be incommunicado until then.....I might even throw caution to the wind and not pack snacks (thereby guaranteeing infinite blog material upon my return)!
Wishing you the happiest end to your summer,
Your Allergic Diner

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A credo for my fellow allergy sufferers...

Well, allergic readers, there are all sorts of things to blog about today.
First a shout-out (my old students would be so proud of my terminology!) to Allergic Girl who is going on what will be a successful, allergy-free vacation.

Allergies are an interesting thing. People who don't have them feel badly for you, sometimes treat you differently (and at last check my allergies were NOT a personality problem), and even sometimes have the gall to act as if your allergies inconvenience THEM! I still hold that if I'm the one who's going to die from eating the tomato, YOU can easily not place one in my food. What people who don't suffer from severe allergies can't understand (unless you're the parent or spouse of someone with severe allergies) is the anxiety that comes EVERY DAY. My friends will often tease me, because non-allergic husband (NAH) and I don't eat out a whole lot. One of the big reasons is because if I can cook it, then I don't have to worry about eating it. And luck for NAH, I'm a damn good cook!

There is a near paralyzing fear with trying a new restaurant or travelling to a new place that can never go away, but can be worked on. The fear that an allergic person feels when describing an allergy to a waiter and having to TRUST that they will take it seriously (i often show my med-alert bracelet) is difficult to describe. Travelling is the hardest because every meal you eat will be in someone else's hands. You learn over time not to be consumed by fear 24/7, but every now and then you have a scare (a la the sushi posting of several weeks ago) that sets you back a little.

Thankfully, (or not thankfully, depending on how you look at it) people who suffer from severe allergies aren't a rarity anymore, and the Internet has become a godsend to those of us who are anaphalactically allergic to things and still would like a life. The NAH and I are taking a vacation this weekend to a place neither of us have ever been. Thanks to the Internet, I've been able to find out what kind of restaurants are in the area we're staying. I've even seen some of their menus. And on the off chance we want to eat a fancy meal, I called a local bistro or two to see if they're willing to substitute ingredients (most restaurants are more than willing if you say something ahead of time).

Allergy sufferers live on the edge in a way that is very different from extreme sports. We take risks that most people will never be aware of (think I'm being melodramatic? Possibly, but you try looking like a blowfish in front of your closest friends). But what we do, what we can do, and what we must do, is always push through. Don't let the fear of a tomato or a piece of celery run or even ruin your life. And be proud of yourself each and every time you step outside of your comfort zone.

All that being said, dear readers, tonight we head to the non-allergic in laws for a fantastic allergy-free birthday barbecue! What could be better than that?
As always, thanks for letting me rant,
Your Allergic Diner

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Atlantic City here I come....

I went to visit the allergic parents in Atlantic City to play for a fun weekend. Atlantic City is always an interesting place. Fantastic food, fantastic restaurants and a ton of people who'd push you out of the way to get to the slot machine they want.
I was amazed to see that "The Walk," the Atlantic City outlet shops at the entrance to the city were doing a brisk business at EVERY time of day. I haven't seen shopping and stores like this since I was out in Las Vegas over 2 years ago. Everything from NikeTown to Coach to BrooksBrothers and more. But I'm digressing, because we didn't shop.
We gambled a little, but to be honest, we ate. And ate. And get the picture.
Your allergic diner LOVES delis. I love everything about cold cuts and thick rye bread and spicy mustard. I love soup that has been brewing all day, and the fact that I can have breakfast food at 9 p.m. I most certainly love that a deli is as allergy friendly as a supermarket, and the menu (at a good deli) is usually just as diverse.
So we went to Trump Taj Mahal (which looks as if you are driving into a pinball machine...there's tacky and outlandish, and then there's this monstrosity), and had dinner at the Stage Deli. It's a famous deli that's in N.Y. and has branched out to a couple of other places. The food was fantastic, though I'm not sure the allergic parents have forgiven me for placing my order....for a hot dog! They have the best hot dogs there, and I felt deprived after not being able to eat them at that barbecue a few weeks back....though the restaurant itself was starting to show it's age, the food was phenomenal!
We also tried out the new 24 central cafe in another one of Trump's properties (this one not tacky and nauseating), the trump plaza. I had a delicious corned beef sandwich (amazing, isn't it, that with all the things I'm allergic to, corned beef and hot dogs I'm fine with?)
I must confess that in addition to visiting my wonderful parents, my other express purpose for this trip was to get to a candy store...I haven't been to one in close to a year, and I have a sweet tooth that would rival...well, let's just say it's a good sweet tooth. We went to the new IT'SUGAR at the pier at caesars, which is a candy lover's paradise. They have sculptures created out of jellybeans! You can make your own candy bars.....
I'd better quit soon because this will take up the whole blog page. In summary, fantastic time with the allergic parents, and a VERY allergy-friendly city (I think the restaurants are so used to all the dietary requirements from the elderly people who frequent the city that they don't bat an eye any more...). Thanks mom and dad!
Your allergic diner

Monday, August 13, 2007

Adventures in barbecuing...

So here's an interesting twist. Non-allergic husband's coworker had a big BBQ this past Saturday, which always poses all sorts of food issues and anxiety for me. Will the hot dogs have too many fillers? Will the evil green stalk show up in the potato salad or macaroni salad? Will someone accidentally grab for a piece of barbecued chicken with the tongs that are being used to serve the hot dogs, thus rendering both foods unfriendly to yours truly?
Now, to a point, I've solved this problem. When it's family or friends, either they have something I can eat (years of dealing with my allergies has rendered them all experts in allergy-friendly foods), or I'm told ahead of time that the host isn't sure what I can eat, so I bring a sandwich and hope for the best. Unfortunately, I couldn't do that, because I don't know these people and I figured they would feel it was rude.
So, I went with Plan B. I had a very late lunch at about 3:30, before we left for the barbecue, figuring that if I couldn't eat, at least I wouldn't be starving when we got home.
I'm a smart cookie, as my allergic mother always says. The hot dogs were your garden variety, loaded with spices. The sausage and peppers was off-limits for reasons that the title alone explains, and the potato salad, my usual favorite, not only had the offending green stalk but BACON and CHEDDAR CHEESE. Antipasto with cherry tomatoes and a salad with cherry tomatoes. Yikes. So much for eating. So I had a roll and some butter and a glass of soda and waited for dessert....and waited...and waited....dessert wasn't served until after 8:00! (we'd been there since 4:30).
On the plus side, dessert was very allergy-friendly, and I had a nice, healthy, salad when we got home to balance out the junk food. Adventures in barbecuing, indeed.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ack. Ick. A close call....

Well, last night was interesting.
The company was fantastic. It was nice to meet non-allergic husband's coworkers and get to talk to them for an actual length of time.
The buffet was an adventure of sorts. I stuck to the foods that I knew were safe, such as sushi, because I could see it prepared, and then I admit to tailing the waitress as she left the kitchen with refills for the buffet. This way, I was able to eat a tofu & mushrooms dish I like without fear that the spoon was dipped in the shrimp sauce, etc. I figured my plan for foolproof.....
The tofu & mushrooms in brown sauce was fantastic! The sushi however, proved to be a problem. I had chosen raw salmon, raw tuna, and then what appeared to be a crab roll.
As I bit into the crab roll, I thought my throat had caught on fire, and this was before I even swallowed (stupidly). I quickly spit the rest of the mouthful out and went digging for my always-handy benadryl, scared senseless. There was some sort of hot pepper or chili spice in the mayo in the crab roll!!! Mouth on fire, I swallowed two Benadryl and sat silently praying that I hadn't eaten enough for a full-blown reaction to the ingredient I couldn't completely recognize (if it's hot pepper, it would simply upset my system a little bit, if there was chili spice in there (a tomato derivative for those of you not in the know) I was about to treat his coworkers to quite a show.....thankfully, the benadryl kicked in, I downed another 3 glasses of water, and soon it was time to go home. Apparently, whatever it was, it was a small enough amount, and my reaction quick enough, that I was able to be ok.
A close call. We're eating in tonight.
As always,
your (frightened) allergic diner...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cross-contamination anxiety....

Well, your allergic diner needs some advice...the non-allergic husband and I are going out with some non-allergic coworkers of his to one of those international buffets this evening. What do I eat and how do I ensure that it didn't touch other stuff I shouldn't eat....?
I will post tomorrow on my progress (or lack thereof) at the buffet......

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My 60th post.....a dairy-free, wheat-free allergy-friendly recipe!

To mark this occassion, I thought I'd post a new, absurdly-easy and quick recipe I've found. I occassionally shop at Whole Foods, and I've become a big fan of the frozen fish section. One package of frozen (boneless, skinless) tuna steaks contains two perfect portions for myself and the non-allergic husband. I have a dairy-free, wheat-free recipe that takes a whole 10 minutes!

Here's how:
Please make sure you've defrosted the fish before doing this!
1 - Melt approx 2 large tablespoons of soy butter in a non-stick skillet
2 - Place the tuna steaks in the skillet on medium-high heat for 4 minutes
3 - Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper to the top of the cooking tuna steak
4 - Flip the tuna steak and cook an additional 4-5 minutes on the other side

It's that simple, and it sears in the flavor, cooks it completely while leaving a mildly pink center so your fish doesn't taste dried out. Enjoy! (you want your tuna steak to be white in color, flake easily with a fork, and be semi-opaque or mildly pink when cut into)