Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Thank you for your interest in our services. Your business is very important to Continental, and we look forward to seeing you on a Continental flight in the very near future.
Please be assured, the safety of our passengers and crew is always our first priority. The challenge we face is that even if we discontinue allowing pets onboard we cannot guarantee that the aircraft will be 100 percent free of animals. Because we allow service animals onboard it is impossible for us to ensure the cabin will be animal free, or any safer for passengers with pet allergies. For these reasons, we do not offer pet free flights.
We truly appreciate your concerns and take this issue seriously. We limit the number of pets allowed per flight and pets are required to stay inside approved kennels that fit completely under the seat in front of the customer for the entire duration of the flight.
Our primary concern is the safety of our customers. We want you to know that we cannot provide an "animal-free" flight. We continue to encourage you and all customers with pet allergies to take whatever medical precautions deemed necessary to prepare for the possibility of exposure.
Thank you, again, for taking the time to communicate with us. We value your business and look forward to serving your travel needs in the near future.
Regards, Customer Care Manager
Most interesting. Most honest.
~Your Allergic Diner
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Except...the other day I was in Kohl's finishing up my Holiday shopping. I was waiting for NAH to pick me up, and I started browsing in their fashion jewelry department. I spied a pair of earrings, "Axcess - Liz Claiborne" (in case any of you have similar jewelry allergies). What interested me was the bottom piece of the card that said "surgical steel earwire." With the sale, they would cost $7. Eternal allergy hopeful that I am, I purchased them.
I waited a full week to try them, and did so the weekend after Thanksgiving. I wanted to make sure I was at home, near the Benadryl and rubbing alcohol and Neosporin. My rationale behind this purchase was simple, I had a med-alert bracelet that was surgical steel, and my online research confirmed that yes, in fact, surgical steel is the same material that knives, scalpels, etc are made out of. In other words, it's not silver, and there's no nickel involved (Even the nickel-free silver earrings gave me problems, by the way, and I've read plenty of stories on the Internet about other women who had the same problem). So last Saturday, I put a delightful pair of silver-toned teardrop earrings made of surgical steel earwire in my ears. I left them in for 2 hours, and took them out. Sunday I wore them all day, and Monday I was able to confidently wear them to work! I have discovered something new, and inexpensive, that I like a lot! One more stride towards 'normalcy,' no?
I went on Amazon.com yesterday to see what they sold in terms of surgical steel earrings. Gone were the fun colors and funky shapes I had seen in Kohl's, and what was available was silver, small, and very cold looking (not to mention pretty ugly).
The moral of the story? After the holidays, I'm going back to Kohl's to get some more dangly earrings (they have turquoise and other stones in some of them!). Hopefully they'll be even cheaper than $7.
One small step for your allergic diner, one giant danger for my credit card (because at $7 I can LOAD UP!)
Yours in allergies,
The Allergic Diner
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Mouth-watering smoked turkey, Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce & tomato.
Your Allergic Diner
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Recently, as you know, NAH and I went to Vegas. The experience with Continental started badly, and was then fixed by some very competent and congenial customer service representatives. We were originally flying out of Philadelphia, with a connecting flight through Cleveland. Before we left the house for our trip, we checked the flight status only to find out it was delayed close to four hours,and we were going to miss our connection. After about an hour of phone calls with various customer service people, we were in the car on our way out to Newark, to fly direct out of there to Las Vegas. Like I said, bad beginning, good end result.
When we arrived at the terminal, there was a woman travelling with a very small dog in a carrying case. Cute puppy, well behaved (i know this b/c he was walking around our gate at the terminal), but I was quite perplexed. What was I going to do if I ended up next to her? My reaction would be far worse if she kept the case on her lap, but as a plane is pretty much several hours of recycled air, what was I going to do? Take enough Benadryl to knock me unconscious and just pray I didn't get blowfish syndrome?
Luckily, I was not seated next to or in proximity to the woman, the puppy slept the whole flight, and we all made it to Las Vegas safe, sound and blowfish-free.
But I was intrigued. For a peanut allergy, they inform the passengers, so how do they handle pet allergies? Shouldn't I have been notified in advance of boarding the plane that there would be a dog on board? What if I hadn't seen him in the terminal?
So I sent the following letter to Continental this morning,
Flight out of EWR to Las Vegas on Thursday, November 6, 2008. Flight was fine - this is NOT a complaint.
To Whom It May Concern:
I was recently on a flight run by your airline. When I got to the airport, I noticed that there was a passenger traveling with a small dog. I have a severe pet allergy. While I was lucky enough not to be seated next to or in proximity to the passenger with the canine companion, had I been, it would have been problematic.
Does Continental have an allergy policy? I am aware that if there is a peanut-allergic person on board, then your staff will notify the rest of the passengers. Is there a policy in place for when people are allergic to the pets travelling on your airline?
I’m a freelance writer who reviews companies for their allergy policies, and I’d be happy to share Continental’s policy with other allergic consumers. I have read your FAQ on travelling with animals, but it does not address pet allergy concerns. Please contact me at your earliest convenience. I’m sure my readers would be interested to hear how an airline handles pet allergic-patrons.
So now I wait. I will keep you apprised. But quite frankly, it' s just one more reason to stop travelling! Staycation, here we come!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I waited to tell you, as I have been invited by some rather shady websites in the past, but this one seems to be quite above-board. I especially like their community features. What better place to get allergy information than from fellow allergy sufferers (and some hand-picked, really smart doctors?). This website exemplifies the benefits of what we can do for each other, simply by sharing information.
I'm proud to be a Wellsphere Health Maven, Featured Blogger, and Patient Expert. Find me here, or find me there, but definitely check them (ME!) out!
Your Allergic Diner
Thursday, November 20, 2008
All my life I've been allergic to cats and dogs. Never as severe as in the past several years, but allergic all the same. In the past three years my pet allergy has gone through the roof, and the moment my face gets near a dog or cat, presto! Instant blowfish. If it were only as simple as keeping my face away from an animal, I'd be more inclined to visit my friends with pets more often. Other factors that make or break an allergic reaction include, but are not limited to, cleanliness of the house, cleanliness of the pet, friendliness of the pet (a dog that doesn't want to sit in my lap causes a far smaller reaction than one that does), etc.
Now I want to tell you a story. The story of the big-hearted idiot. This is my story, my friends.
About two weeks ago, on Monday evening, NAH came home from work and left the garage open, b/c it was garbage night. As he was in the house collecting the garbage, I heard crying coming from inside my garage. It was growing louder and louder, and increasingly more frantic. If I'd had to place bets, I would've told you there was a small goat being strangled in my garage.
When I opened the garage door, there was a very frightened cat sitting there, asking to come in. Not really asking, so much as trying to dive-bomb herself into my house the moment I opened the door. I quickly shut the door and called NAH (who himself grew up with a cat). Together we got a small bowl of milk and a small plate of tuna and took it outside.
He/She/It (?) Ate hungrily for a while, and we sat on the driveway while it did, trying to figure out what to do. The cat, when finished, jumped right into NAH's lap, purred a thank-you and promptly fell asleep. We noticed immediately that the cat was declawed, and had a perfectly smooth coat, ergo, she was someone's pet. No collar. When she woke up a few minutes later, she ran into our garage and frantically tried to get back into our house. So, we let her in. And yes, allergic parents and non-allergic parents, it was stupid. And I'd do it again (so there!).
See, a coworker of mine told me once that you don't adopt a cat, they adopt you. We spent that first night at the windows, hoping somebody would be outside looking for her. Nope. We knocked on every door on our block, hoping somebody would know to whom she belonged. Nope. So we had a house guest. NAH ran out to Petsmart, picked up food & a litter box, I started on Allegra and my inhaler, and we said a silent prayer that we'd find her owner before we left for Vegas.
Day 2 - Called every animal shelter and vet in a 30-mile radius. She hadn't been reported missing. Not helpful. Posted fliers around the entire neighborhood, at the local polling stations, with vets, animal shelters, etc. Nobody called. Allergies getting worse, breathing getting worse. Your allergic diner was growing increasingly frightened. I couldn't very well take someone else's pet to a shelter, so we were just going to have to keep her(like I said. I'm an idiot. But my heart is in the right place). In the midst of this, allergic mom calls from her vacation to check in and see how things are going (knowing nothing of the cat). "You're wheezing," she says to me. "Must be the connection," I said to her. She didn't buy it. We walked the cat around the block that evening trying to see if she'd go up to one of the houses,or recognize anything. She simply kept running straight up our driveway and back to our house. While I was pleased that she was happy there, I was getting a little worried. Again, asked around the neighborhood, but nobody seemed to know where she belonged. In the meantime, the cat owned our house. It was really quite funny. She took to a chair in NAH's office and would spend HOURS curled up on it, purring and rolling around.
Day 3 - took her to the local vet to see if she was microchipped. She wasn't. But we learned she was a she, in good health, and relatively getting up there in age. Local vet had no record of having treated her. We both sent frantic emails to everyone we worked with explaining the vacation situation and requesting the possibility of "foster parents" until we could locate her owners? Night of Day 3, it finally happened. Despite my attempts at preventive medication, I woke up with an asthma attack, gasping for air. I think I woke NAH out of a dead sleep by grasping at his arm while choking. It was official, our friend had to go. (Mind you, we weren't letting the cat upstairs or in our bedroom, and I was still having so much difficulty).
Day 4: Just as I resigned myself to the possibility of having to hand her over to our local no-kill animal shelter, I got a phone call from NAH -- "Her name's Delilah." -- Owner found! Yes!
The kicker? They lived four doors down. We'd knocked on their door 5 times over the course of the four days. Never reached them. Put a flier in their door on day 2. Nothing. Trust me when I tell you, this is not a cat who knew what to do outdoors, so she either wandered too far and got lost, or they just didn't care. I love people. Really, I do.
Regardless, Delilah went home, we did a very good thing. I spent the evening before we left for Las Vegas de-catting the entire house (it was very nice to come back from vacation to a spotless home). I know it was stupid, and like I said...I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Interestingly, this seemed to solidify for NAH that we can never get a pet. I still refuse to say NEVER, though I will also never pay the thousands of dollars for the non-allergic cats they are breeding, but that's a story for another post. Have a nice weekend!
Your Allergic Diner,
The Big-Hearted Idiot
Friday, November 14, 2008
The trip to Las Vegas was a birthday present for NAH. We were able to go because we found inexpensive airfare (which in this economy is NOTHING to sneeze at, my friends). We hadn't been out to Vegas in several years, and were looking forward to it. When we were out there years ago, NAH loved the Luxor hotel. It's a gigantic black pyramid, complete with a sphinx, and a host of other Egyptian-themed decor. I found a decent rate there and booked us into it, specifically requesting a non-smoking room.
I'm asthmatic. Not a shock. I have no problem with people who smoke (their body, their right), I simply like to not inhale their smoke. I am intelligent enough to realize that in Las Vegas, I will inhale smoke perpetually, so my attempt is to simply not to inhale smoke in my sleep. I think this is quite fair.
When we arrived in Las Vegas, it was close to 1 a.m.. We were given our room key and told we were in a non-smoking room on the second floor. Here's where it gets interesting. The lower-floored Luxor rooms overlook either a part of the casino, or the busy, heavily-trafficked lobby.
We were given a room that was directly over a bank of slot machines, and across from the elevator. We proceeded to dump our things and go out with the friend for a quick bite to eat, and returned to the hotel at close to 3 a.m. I smelled smoke in the room, figured it was our clothes from the restaurant, took a shower and fell asleep. (Important non-asthma related side note, the Luxor has gotten rid of most of the Egyptian-themed interior in place of a more-modern, less-themed decor)
I woke up gasping at 7 a.m. and quickly got up, got ready, left the room (and a sleeping NAH) and took myself to breakfast. I told NAH NOTHING. It was his birthday, and I had an inhaler, and really, it's Vegas, what could they do? It's sort of a smoking kind of place.
When we met up with friends later that same day, NAH was joking about hearing the Wheel of Fortune machine (which loudly proclaims "Wheel OF Fortune!! when someone hits a bonus spin) as he was waking up. When he walked away, I told our friend about the smoke wafting up from the casino floor.
He looked at both of us incredulously and then marched us over to the concierge. "My friends here have a room on the second floor and need to be moved. Not only can they hear the slot machines, but his wife is asthmatic and there's smoke wafting into the 'smoke-free' room from the casino floor."
The concierge pointed us to a manager, and in LESS THAN 5 MINUTES we'd been moved to a smoke-free room on the 27th floor. No fussing, no treating us as awful whiners, just a smile, an accommodation, and an "is there anything else we can do to make you more comfortable?"
From then on it was a clean-air vacation, no asthma problems. We were so grateful that I sent the Luxor a thank-you note. It's always nice to know that superior customer service still exists! We even got to take the "inclinator," their elevator that ascends the pyramid-shaped floors as opposed to moving straight up and down.
All in all, it was a lovely hotel experience.
Thank you LUXOR!
Your Allergic (and asthmatic) Diner
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
On our first full day out and about in Vegas, we met up with a friend who wanted to go to MGM. He wanted us to eat lunch at Seablue, a restaurant in the MGM Grand of much acclaim. As is our luck on vacation, it was closed. Next door was this nice little sandwich place, and as he wanted to use his MGM dollars to treat us to lunch, we went there.
I'd like to pause at this point in the story and tell you that the following was entirely my fault. I screwed up, badly. However, the manner in which it was handled by those in the customer service industry? Abominable.
We ordered sandwiches, and I ordered a good old pb&j, figuring that was the safest thing on the menu (who knows what spices are on the outside of the roasted turkey? And really, meatloaf and bacon? why not just charter me a private shuttle to the hospital?). As they're ringing up, I very quietly say to NAH "I've got nothing to worry about, right? I mean, how can they screw up peanut butter so I can't eat it." He VERY intelligently replies, "Really? It's not worth just asking to make sure?"
So I asked. After the fact, and against all the advice I usually offer on this site. I was tired, I was jet lagged, and I was hungry. None of which is an excuse for letting my allergy alert down. Again, this was my fault.
The response to my question of our cashier blew my mind.
Me: "This is just regular peanut butter, right? Nothing fancy?"
Now, at this point our friend makes me feel like some sort of social leper and states emphatically, "BECAUSE IF IT ISN'T, SHE'LL DIE." (I understand the point he was trying to make, but that's not how I handle things.)
Cashier: "Oh, this peanut butter is heavenly, we roast our own peanuts and mix in a ton of whipped butter. It's fabulous."
Me: "Ok, I'm sorry, I can't eat the butter, and I know I should've asked that question ahead of time, I'm going to need to change my order. I'm REALLY sorry (and I was. I also wanted to crawl into a hole and die because at this point everyone in the place, though it was small, was staring at us)."
Here's where it gets handled badly.
Our friend's comp had already been put through. So now we had to get a manager on the phone to reverse the comp and input the order again. As I'm apologizing profusely, the woman next to the cashier very snidely says to her, making sure that I'm in earshot, "Why the f$@* would someone order a peanut butter sandwich that's allergic to peanuts? What kind of f-ing sense does that make?"
Now, our cashier looked at me apologetically, and seemed kind of embarrassed over her coworker's snit. She got the manager on the phone, reversed the comp, and I asked for a completely plain roasted turkey sandwich. Imagine my surprise when her coworker, a minute after my order, serves me a turkey sandwich with roasted peppers and a ton of seasoning. This time, I said, "I'm sorry, but I asked for this plain."
Her: "Plain? As in you want nothing on it?"
Me: "Plain. Just turkey and bread."
Her: "Really? Do you even care if it's heated? (and then yelling) HOT OR COLD?"
Me: "Cold is fine" (Because at this point, I wanted the earth to swallow me up).
So I ate a cold turkey sandwich, after cutting the ends of the turkey (which were heavily seasoned) off. It was not good. And as I said at the beginning, this is all my fault. But it was handled VERY badly.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
From time to time I mention my two favorite words on this blog that are NOT allergy related. Civic Duty. Election Day 2008. I don't care for whom you vote, just that you exercise your right to do so.
I'm the Allergic Diner, and I approved this message.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Here's a little known fact. Candy corn contains egg whites...find the ingredients, and other interesting candy corn facts here. Please remember to read the labels on your Halloween candy.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I was reading an article the other day about a gentleman who bought the license to the 50-yard line seats for the Jets for close to half a million dollars. In the interview, he says that the true measure of a fan is one who is willing to stand by their team until they win, as opposed to just when they win (I'm paraphrasing, of course, but the idea is there).
Congratulations to the 2008 Philadelphia Phillies!!!!!
Your Allergic Diner
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
I had never made a turkey. Every year I have spent Thanksgiving with loved ones, and I will bring dessert, or an appetizer or two, and help with the dishes, but I always stayed far, far away from the turkey. Damn things scared the hell out of me. I would even get the free turkey from the supermarket after I’d accumulated enough bonus points, and I’d donate it to charity. Turkey breasts? Sure, I can cook those. Turkey loaf? You betcha, but not a whole turkey. Can we say intimidated?
Which brings me to Rosh Hashanah. There are many traditional Jewish foods that are made for the New Year and other Jewish holidays. Here’s something most Jewish people won’t admit (and rest assured, I’ll be catching crap from my allergic parents after this post, but I’ll deal with it). Most traditional Jewish foods are…well…icky. Gefilte fish? It’s a last resort over Passover when you simply cannot stomach another piece of matzo. Carp? Herring? Brisket? UGH. I’m not a big fan of noodle kugel (but I’m in the minority on that) – it does not help that I can’t really eat it, which admittedly clouds my judgement. Stewed prunes (tzimmes)? Enough said. There ARE some traditional Jewish foods that are to-die-for good. Matzo ball soup and challah are fantastic. Knishes, when done properly, are yummy, and I love me some lox and bagels.
NAH and I have worked very hard to introduce both of our religions and cultures to each family. With that in mind, I host Rosh Hashanah now, as my allergic mom has gracefully passed on the crown (and still lovingly makes the best matzo ball soup on the planet). My non-allergic inlaws and brother-in-law attend Rosh Hashanah dinner with us. How could I possibly inflict brisket upon them? My mother makes fantastic brisket. It melts in your mouth. I just DO. NOT. LIKE. BRISKET. So Rosh Hashanah was somewhat of a challenge. 1 – I wanted to make something everyone would eat, and 2 – I wanted to make something that was allergy-free.
Enter the turkey. Everyone eats turkey. It’s a big, festive, celebratory bird, so I decreed it perfect for the Jewish New Year. We still had the apples and honey. We had matzo ball soup and challah. We even had apple cake on the table for dessert.
And boy, did we have turkey. I spent an entire day not only basting and seasoning, but frantically calling both moms (and as my mom-in-law was not in synagogue, she caught the brunt of the questions – non-allergic mom, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU!).
Here’s what I’ve learned: Turkeys have two cavities. You have to pull out bags of icky and disgusting things from both. A 22-lb turkey (because, really, why do anything small?) does not take into account the weight of the roasting pan, 5 lbs. of potatoes, 10 portions of stuffing, or the liquid in said pan. You need serious upper body strength to pull the damn thing in and out of the oven. A turkey should be covered for the better part of the cooking. It takes DAYS to properly defrost. I've also learned that it's better to attempt a meal like this with family, because if it had failed, they'd have had to love me anyway, and we'd have had a good laugh (and then ordered pizza).
The end result? While it was heavy, completely gross to touch, clean, and stuff, it was, however, damn good to eat. I was really proud of what I accomplished (and quite full). We had a lovely Rosh Hashanah dinner with quite a few traditional foods, and I believe I’ve started a new tradition of my own. Oh – and food nerd that I am, that’s a picture of my very first turkey.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
We joined Netflix (and with the rate things go to DVD, there really isn’t a time lag of more than two months anymore). If we see a movie in the theaters every couple of months, it’s a big deal. Netflix is approximately $18 for their 3-at-a-time movie subscription. We keep a running list of movies we want to see, and probably watch 5 a month. That’d be 5 x $5 at Blockbuster (with no late fees assumed), which would be $25. A Saturday night movie in the theater is a minimum of $17 and that’s before the popcorn. Insanity! Just say no.
I’ve recently returned to a money-saving technique I employed right after we were married. I use the sale circular for the supermarket to plan my meals ahead of time. I had stopped in the past year, simply purchasing proteins, grains and vegetables and figuring it all out when I got home. I’m now saving $20 a week on average just by sticking to my list.
Use coupons. It doesn’t make you old. It doesn’t make you cheap. It doesn’t mean you’re adhering to any stereotype. It means you’re smart. Case closed.
SEND in your rebates, and when that check comes in, no matter how much it is for, put it straight into your savings account. It was already spent, it was months ago, and it will serve you better earning a small amount of interest.
Make your own damn coffee. Every advice column in every magazine says the first way to save money is to bring your coffee from home. Saving $2 (conservative estimate, I know) a day, 5 days a week, is a monthly savings of $40, and a yearly savings of $480. If more than one member of your household purchases coffee every day, you can double or triple that savings. If you drink one of those Starbucks candy bar concoctions several times a week, you should be ashamed of yourselves for several reasons. 1 – it’s bad for you. 2 – it’s expensive. 3 – THAT’S NOT COFFEE (whip cream, caramel sauce, and flavored syrups are DESSERT) !!!!! Cut these out and save calories and money.
While we’re on the topic of make your own, make your own damn lunch. As a former teacher, I brown bag every day. I always have. NAH does now, too. I’m not saying we never ever go out to lunch, but $5 once or twice a month is FAR better than $5 a day, every day (yes, I know, conservative estimate again). $25 a week, at $100 a month, is $1200 per year! I showed the math on this to a coworker last year. She saved $700 last year by simply bringing her lunch.
Buy generic when you can. NAH has introduced me to this. We both have a list of things we won’t compromise on (admittedly, mine is a bit longer because of my allergies), but I’ve learned that supermarket cotton swabs work just as well as Q-Tips. I can’t taste the difference between supermarket apple juice or pretzels, etc. Suave shampoo works as well as, if not better than, Pantene. It is amazing what you can learn by trial and error.
Make a budget. Stick to it as best you can. Differentiate between needs and wants. Good luck!
Your Allergic Diner
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
This got me thinking, however, what happens to a person with food allergies, or a condition such as diabetes? How do they exist on food stamps with special food needs? Could I feed myself for a $1 a meal? The sad, but realistic answer is, probably not. Someone who had to purchase specialty foods, like sugar-free, would probably be even further out of luck. The thing nobody tells you about having allergies, or celiac, or diabetes, or any other condition that affects what you eat is that it's EXPENSIVE.
$1 a meal. I could probably subsist on beans, potatoes, and frozen veggies, but what about protein? How could I vary my already allergy-proof diet so that I might eat well and still adhere to the system? Lactaid milk at last check was $4 for a half-gallon. I spent days thinking about this challenge and it's possible consequences and ramifications for someone like me, and came up with this: I can't keep my allergy-free diet with that cost factor ($1 meal/day = $3 a day). I'd miss out on calcium, among other things a body needs. This makes me feel angry and very lucky all at the same time. You have my word you will never hear me complain here about the high cost of specialty foods again.
See, my family will forever joke around with me about my not being a “food person.” They’re not wrong, I’m not. I’m definitely an “eat to live” person, not one who lives to eat. I don’t have the luxury of being a foodie. I can’t eat without paying attention to every single ingredient every time. When NAH and I were in Florida earlier this year with my non-allergic inlaws, we were out to dinner at a lovely restaurant, the Lighthouse. I took out my Lactaid pills when my food arrived, explaining that there was cheese in the Caesar salad dressing, the possibility of buttermilk in the fresh-baked rolls, etc. My mother-in-law looked at me and said words that were truly magic to my ears. “Every time you eat, you have to stop and think about it, don’t you?” The thing that she understands, and that sometimes people spend their whole lives not understanding, is that food for any allergic person is a process, and a difficult one at that. Now, I couldn’t ask for better families, as both sets of parents keep their homes stocked with “allergic diner safe food.” But what happens to someone without the same resources and support? What happens to someone with my allergies who ends up on food stamps? How can they do this for $3 a day?
Half the recipes I read on those blogs were things I was unable to eat. By tweaking them so that I could eat them (i.e., removing the tomato paste, canned milk, etc) I would either lose a good portion of the nutritional content, or I would’ve been over my budget on that particular day (substitutions of chicken broth are EXPENSIVE).
Blog Action Day 2008 is about poverty. Every night, more children are going to bed hungry. Hardworking, decent people are living paycheck to paycheck, and praying that they will be able to put food on the table and keep their roof over their heads. Animal shelters are bursting at the seams because pets have become a luxury most families can no longer afford. Our economy is in the toilet, and what nobody seems to understand is that this isn’t a “poor” problem. It isn't a Republican problem, or a Democrat problem, or even just a government problem. It’s an everybody problem. The poverty line is blurring. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "there were 37.3 million people in poverty in 2007, up from 36.5 million in 2006. " That was before the current economic tailspin in which we find ourselves.
Lest I be one of those bloggers who opines, but offers no real solutions about anything, tomorrow I will share with you the ways in which NAH and I work diligently to cut costs wherever possible (tomorrow’s post). When you sit down to dinner with your family tonight, take a moment to think about someone who might not be so lucky. Then DO SOMETHING about it. Donate food, money, and/or time to a charity that works with the poverty-stricken. Nobody judges your donation, the point is to do something, because as trite as it sounds, EVERY LITTLE BIT HELPS. The newspapers state that more and more middle class families are reaching out to food banks for assistance. These centers, and others like them, need the most help when it isn't the holiday season, because that’s when most people open up their hearts, wallets, and homes.
You can make a difference without altering your lifestyle. Please know that I am not suggesting you feel guilt or shame about your ability to purchase food, or own a home. That's not who I am or what I'm about.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Gandhi
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Welcoming the Allergic Guest
Here's how to make sure guests with allergies are as comfortable as possible in your home.
Entertaining guests with indoor allergies? Try these tips for throwing a great party that's literally nothing to sneeze at!
Communicate: While some people are open about their allergies; others are more reserved, requiring that you, as the host, ask the right questions to get the information you need to make them comfortable.
Talk well in advance. If you're inviting guests to a party, ask well ahead of time if they have any indoor allergies. Communicate clearly—and allow for an open-ended discussion.
Chat about pets. Fluffy the cat may be an important member of your family, but try to inform potential guests about your pets before they show up. Some people are extremely allergic to animals—so much so that even a thorough cleaning may not stop an allergic reaction. So don't let them show up and be unpleasantly surprised when Fluffy comes over to give them a big welcome. Putting your pets in a separate room away from the festivities might work well, but if your guests' pet allergies are severe (bothering them even when a pet is in another room), it might be best to leave pets with a friend or a neighbor for the evening.
Prepare: Now that you're armed with details about any of your guests' allergies, here's how to prepare your home for the evening.
Find the full text of the article here.
Thank you, Right at Home! Always nice when attention is paid to an allergic issue. It makes those of us who suffer feel a little less alone...
Your Allergic Diner
Monday, October 13, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Well, I have to learn to take pictures before people start putting their hands all over things, but I wanted all my bloggy friends to see this. In a post this past January, I showed you a picture of a wedding cake. You can access it here, if you'd like a peek again. What I didn't tell you is that the cake was lovingly made for me as a wedding gift by a good friend who owns a bakery. Every layer was covered with cream-colored M&Ms.
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to throw a bridal shower for a very close friend. We shall call her "A." A is getting married to a wonderful man often referred to in this blog as the allergic fiancee (ergo, he was a shoe-in to be liked). I contacted the bakery, asking my friend to do something special. Boy, did she come through. We ordered a black and white mousse cake for A's mom's birthday (the lie by which we lured her back to NJ), 50 rose-topped cupcakes to fill a cupcake tree, and these little jewels, shown above (again, sorry, everybody was fascinated by them and kept poking at them). She did a tray of petit fors iced with the married couple-to-be's initials. The kick? Not only did everything look gorgeous, but it tasted even better! Don't tell on me, but I squirreled a few away to take home for a snack later.
The thing is, my baker friend has no idea that this blog exists. I want to share her creations with you. She is an immensely talented woman, with a skill and level of creativity which rival anything I've seen on the food network (and yes, I might be biased, but so what?).
Think I'm joking? Take a look at her menus and photos of her work via the link below, and judge for yourself. And if you're ever in New Jersey, she's worth the trip. You're just going to have to take my word for it until you get to try one of her creations (after which, you'll probably just move here)! Oh, a word of caution, this is not a menu to read if you're in the least bit hungry...
Congratulations A on your upcoming wedding, and thank you, Red Carpet Cakes,
Your Allergic Diner
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I traveled 11 hours (10 of flying with a 1-hour layover at O'Hare, Chicago) to Hawaii, so for my first post I think I will write to you about Mr. Sub. Mr. Sub (?), I hear you asking, while you cringe...but yes, Mr. Sub. Work with me here.
See, Hawaii food was difficult for this travelling food allergic diner. Everything was macadamia-nut encrusted, or barbecued, and while the restaurants and food were of the highest quality, I was halfway across the country and concerned about allergic reactions and cross contamination problems. So we improvised. I'm not much for fancy food (which I secretly think NAH loves about me) to begin with, so not eating at Maui's finest restaurants was not a problem. One of the days we were there I had the worst hankering for a tuna salad sandwich (sans celery, of course). We walked to nearby Whaler's Village, an outdoor, well, village, which had numerous restaurants and shops. It also had a teeny, tiny food court on the lowest level, and in that teeny tiny food court was a stand that harbored two restaurants at one counter: Mr. Taco/Mr. Sub.
Now, there was a McDonald's (that served Portuguese sausage with breakfast!), and a pizza place (guaranteed death), but I needed a tuna sandwich. I spoke to a woman whom I'm assuming was not Mrs. Sub (she was wearing a "Go Seniors" t-shirt, maybe she was daughter Sub or daughter Taco?), who assured me there was not only no celery in the tuna, but in anything they made. I tasted the tuna salad, which was made with relish! It was very unusual, and quite good. Not only did I like the tuna, they'd given me an idea as to how to put crunch back into my tuna salad. I had my delicious tuna sandwich, no tomatoes, on a freshly-baked onion roll, and then NAH and I walked off to enjoy another spectacular sunset. Maybe tomorrow I'll post one of those pictures. So many to choose from!
Thank you Mr. Sub,
Your Allergic Diner
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Well Allergic Diner fans, I must bid you adieu for a little while, as the Non Allergic Husband and I are heading to Maui, HI!!!
Even though I keep threatening my coworkers that I am leaving, never to return (the idea of no computer and no need for a cell phone is just unfathomable, and yet so exciting), I will be back. I will most likely start posting again at the end of this month. 7 days of multiple meals out will make for quite a few restaurant reviews! Until then, stay allergy-free and healthy!
Oh, and NAH, if you're reading this, Happy EARLY Anniversary! I love you!
~Your Allergic Diner
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
her:When are you going to come see it?
me: Honestly, I don't know. My allergies are really bad right now, and I may have to wait until the weather cools off....
her: You're still having problems with that?
Seriously? I've known this woman for almost 20 years, and I've always had these allergies (used to be just to cats, but my pet allergies are getting far worse as I grow up). People wonder why I get so gosh darn defensive.
The worst? She really didn't mean anything by it at all. She just doesn't understand. I can't put myself in that position and ignore the fact that I'm going to have a really severe reaction (ah, blowfish syndrome, how I love thee). I also can't have the reaction just to make a friend happy, but she truly does not understand why I haven't seen her new place yet.....Life gets complicated.
Your Allergic Diner
Friday, August 08, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Monday, July 07, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
As my company hits busy season I've had less and less free time in the evenings to post. Please accept my apologies. This weekend I'm having a college-reunion of sorts in Chicago. Upcoming reviews to expect in this column: Berry Chill, a lactose-free frozen yogurt shop! Taste of Chicago, the mammoth food festival that draws millions each year, Orange, a brunch restaurant in the city, and maybe even a review of my trip to the Chicago Green Market. It's a lot to squeeze in one weekend, but we're going to try to do it. I'm packing my comfy walking shoes and I'll check back in with you all on Monday!
Your Allergic Diner
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Big guy, however, loves all things barbecue, especially fried chicken. He is to fried chicken what I am to stuffing! So when we got allergic fiance's NYC birthday invite that included this restaurant, Rack and Soul, he was ready to go.
Barbecue restaurants always worry me. So much risk for cross contamination. So much tomato and oil and spice everywhere. I was relieved to see that there was salad on the menu. Ah, salad. Safe, non-contaminated, and on one plate. When our party was seated, everyone started ordering off the good part of the menu, and I'll confess to feeling a little bit left out. Collard greens, black eyed peas, crawfish, chicken livers, macaroni and cheese, and home-style mashed potatoes, and that was just to start!. Big Guy had an order of fried chicken, and opted for the macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes, figuring that if he was going to do it right, he was all in. I couldn't bring myself to order a salad to pick at amongst the plates of all this marvelous food, and thankfully, we weren't eating until 8 o' clock at night, so I had passed the hunger period (with a fairly large bag of skittles at the movie!).
Big Guy gave me his restaurant review in typical Big Guy fashion, "Very Good."
And that dear readers, sums up my olfactory experience at Rack and Soul.
~Your Allergic Diner
Monday, June 02, 2008
The good news? My non-allergic friend found a sushi place in the area and we went there instead. I highly recommend Mikado (find menus and southern NJ locations through this link). The sushi was excellent, the atmosphere nice and peaceful, and the service attentive. It was wonderful and well worth the long drive! Unfortunately, this allergic diner did not care as much for the movie we saw, Sex & The City. I realize that I may be slaughtered by womankind for this, but it was just "ehh." Ah well, you win some you lose some.
So that was Friday night, and Saturday morning Big Guy and I were dragged out of bed by the alarm to make the train into NYC for allergic fiance's birthday party. We met both our friend and her allergic fiance at the Arte Cafe at 73 & Columbus. We were a little waterlogged. Hah. As we exited Penn Station a grumpy woman to our right remarked that she might as well be waiting in line for an ark! Nevertheless, we arrived, somewhat soggy, to the Arte Cafe, a place where we've eaten before and had spotless service and spot-on food. Not to mention excellent attention paid to allergic detail, of course.
This time was a little different. I'm a big fan of their pizza, and the chef usually makes one for me, sans seasoning, oil, and of course, tomato sauce. It's a wonderful brick-oven thin crust that has cheese, mushrooms, and garlic, and smells better than any garlic bread I've ever had. I was so very crushed when the waiter informed me, up front, that the chef could not accommodate any major special requests today, as he was incredibly busy. He was kind enough to go double check with the chef after I showed my med-alert bracelet, but came back saying "the chef apologizes, but he has already mixed the oil into the pizzas(?)"
Just when I thought the meal was ruined, and by ruined, I thought that there would be no food, so how could I indulge in their endless-mimosa brunch (?), our waiter came to my rescue. "Tell me what you're allergic to," he said, and I did. He pointed to a meal on the menu that was grilled chicken with a salad that has tomatoes. "I can get this for you without tomatoes," he said. "Great! And please tell them no oil, and no spice as well." And with that, we ordered our unlimited drinks and set about enjoying a wonderful occasion with good friends.
When the orders came, and we were all on our second drink, I had Big Guy taste test the chicken for me, because it looked like there was oil on it. There wasn't, and my salad was blissfully dressing free. Interestingly enough, the piece of grilled chicken had been flattened out to look as if it were a piece of pita bread, and the salad was on top of it (where's a camera when I need one?). It was positively delightful. They have fantastic berry muffins that they serve you in place of bread during brunch, and they were snapped up by our table at once. Big guy had eggs and toast, friend had a wonderful brick-oven pizza, allergic fiance had a panini sandwich, and I had my chicken and salad. All because a waiter took the time to help me. It was a wonderful start to the weekend!
~Yours in the quest for safe food,
The Allergic Diner