Friday, January 29, 2010

Civic Duty

I was called for Jury Duty for the first time a few weeks ago. For some reason, it still surprises me how much my son's food allergy affects me and will affect him as he gets older.
The first thing that struck me was when I was reading the instructions on my jury notice.
"In order to ensure the safety of those entering NJ courthouses, all persons,
including jurors, are screened when entering a NJ Superior Court courthouse.
Chemical agents, pepper sprays, or anything resembling a weapon, including scissors, will not be permitted into the Courthouse - for the safety of the public.

Hmmmmm. Does an Epi-Pen qualify as something resembling a weapon? To be on the safe side, I removed it from my purse and stuck it in my glove compartment. I'm sure a 1/2 inch needle would raise a few eyebrows on its way through the conveyor, not to mention what color the epinephrine liquid would show up. But of course there was the one day, upon returning to jury duty from over the weekend, that I had returned the Epi-Pen to my bag and forgot to remove it. Luckily I arrived in enough time to squeeze in an extra lap to the parking deck and back.
But I do have to tell you, I felt a little naked without it. Even though Scootch wasn't physically with me in court, and logically I would have to go back to my car where the Epi-Pen was if anything happened and I needed to get to him, it was just amazing how bereft and ill-equipped I felt as a mom to a child with allergies without it on my person. It was almost as if I forgot to put on underwear.

The second most striking element was the food, of course. The vending machines, the fellow jurors, the staff; the smell of nuts was literally in the air. There were 24 items out of 59 in the vending machine that were nuts or physically contained them, and I'm sure the remaining 35 were processed in a contaminated facility. Jurors snacked on nuts in the assembly area, or dropped them in the chairs in the deliberation room. I was literally imagining all the seemingly innocuous nut traces being left behind on every surface. Scootch hasn't shown sensitivity to airborne or trace nut particles, but I do fear its only a matter of time. And the free hand sanitizer the court provided is a nice touch in flu weather, but doesn't do much for exterminating allergens.
Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be de-sensitized from it all. But then again, my hyper-sensitivity also could be deemed an advantage for being allergy concious about my surroundings.

I spent 3 weeks on Jury Duty, and met some very lovely fellow jurors during the process. But as Scootch's mom I spent those 3 weeks politely refusing the mixed nuts and pistachio crackers, and thoroughly washing my hands before going to pick him up from daycare in the evenings. Hopefully Jury Duty for him in the future will be just as simple to safeguard.

(P.S. The attemped cookie recipe in the previous post was a hit! So much so that I didn't have time to photograph them before they were all eaten! So hopefully next batch!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On A Mission

Living by the rules of a food allergy are hard. Sometimes I wonder if its a little bit harder for me since it also impinges on a beloved hobby of mine, baking.
I love scratch baking. I have binders and books and all sorts of loose pages floating around with tempting recipes on them. I even Xeroxed all my mother's recipe index cards after she died, and I'm slowly adding every one to my own recipe book as I make them.
So to make a long posting short, I'm on a mission to make a decent chocolate chip cookie. Cakes I've duplicated without much fuss, icings are pretty easy, I have a slew of pie and cobbler recipes we can all enjoy, but the one sticking point is making chocolate chip cookies. The few tries I attempted at just converting the regular recipes to Scootch-friendly usually ended up in disaster. This last batch I attemped using my beloved recipe from Alton Brown yielded chocolate chip potato chips, because they were so thin and crunchy.

Not that Scootch minded ;-)

And the last recipe I used for Christmas was a tasty cookie, but not exactly what I would deem a good chocolate chip. The flavor and texture were more brown sugar blondie than nice flour batter based cookie. Although Monkey was incredibly helpful throughout the whole process.

So I recently acquired another vegan recipe from my cousin, and I'm ready to try again. Let's see if the fifth time is the charm!