Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Why My Family Does Not Eat Popcorn

I have been away from Reading Cuisine for awhile. First, I stopped posting because I became busy with the holidays. With Halloween and making my sons Halloween costume, then with Thanksgiving. Shortly after Thanksgiving, we had an emergency with our son, who is almost 2. He began to have seizures, which led doctors to find a cyst in his brain. He had brain surgery a week before Christmas. The surgery went great! He recovered quickly and is doing very well! I wanted to post a funny story that happened on surgery day and explain why popcorn is officially banned from our household.

Two days before surgery, my son and I took a quick trip to the doctor. When we returned home, there was a package on our doorstep from the Popcorn Factory. My first thought was, "How nice. Someone has sent us a tin of delicious flavored popcorn!" So I took it in the house and was getting ready to open the box when I noticed the package was addressed to the lady who lived in our condo before us. Nuts! So I called the Popcorn Factory and informed them of the mistake. The lady on the phone thanked me for calling them and for being so honest (Really? Why wouldnt I call and tell them? It wasnt sent to me) and said that they would contact the sender and send a new tin out to the updated address. In the meantime, the popcorn that we received was ours to keep. Sweet deal right? So for the next couple of days my husband and I enjoyed snacking on the butter, cheddar, and caramel popcorn we got for free.

Now skip ahead to Surgery Day at 4:00 in the morning. We had to be at Children's for surgery at 6 so we got up bright and early. At around 4am I took my son down stairs (the kid woke up at 3:30 and was ready to go!) so that he could play and I could work on packing our bags. Let me stop here for a moment to let you know that for his surgery we had to cut off food after 10pm the night before and we had to stop all clear fluid at 3:30 am that morning. So my son was crawling under the table while I stood at the table looking at some papers. All of a sudden I heard a crunch. I looked and saw that my son had found a small piece of popcorn and was trying to eat it. I got what was still in his hand, but he swallowed a small piece before I could get to him. I didnt think it was a big deal, it really was just a tiny piece. So we finished getting ready and arrived at the hospital on time despite the ice and yucky weather we had the night before.

So skip ahead to us hanging out back in the surgery prep area at Children's. The nurse comes in our room and starts asking us questions. "Has he been without a fever for 48 hours now?" Yes. "Was the last time he stopped foods at 10 pm last night?" Yes, but he did manage to get a small piece of popcorn this morning. Doh! I dont know if I am too honest or just too detail oriented, but as soon as I said it, I knew I should have just not said anything at all! So the nurse said, "Oh no, he had popcorn this morning? Ok, let me go call the Anesthesiologist. " She left the room and then we heard the nurses out in the hallway gossiping about us, saying that we let our kid have popcorn right before surgery. Really, I might be mistaken, but that is not quite what I said. Then the nurse comes back in our room and says, "Since the baby had some popcorn this morning, we may have to push the surgery back to noon so we can wait for the popcorn to go through his system. Or if the Doctor cant fit you in at noon, then we will reschedule the surgery." No! This surgery was already rescheduled once! We couldnt go through that again. We tried to again tell her that we said it was a tiny piece of popcorn, not some popcorn.

Enter, an Anesthesiologist. Not ours, just one that was somewhere in the hospital. The nurse is still in the room with us listening to our son's chest. The Anesthesiologist tells us that since we gave our son a handful of popcorn this morning, then we will have to wait until noon or cancel the surgery and reschedule. Ok, at this point I am getting angry. It went from a tiny piece of popcorn to some popcorn to a handful of popcorn! I said, "I didnt give him a handful of popcorn! He got a small piece of popcorn on the floor." The nursey nurse nurse looks up from what she is doing with my son and says, "No need to get mad, Mom." Then the Anesthesiologist tells me that really I have no idea how much he had, it could have been one piece or it could have been a handful. So at this point my blood is boiling!

Ok, so let's stop for a moment again. First of all, seriously, I was right there. I saw the piece he had. I am his mother after all, I am with him more than anyone. I know his habits and I know what he eats. Secondly, I dont usually have handfuls of popcorn all over the floor. Yes, sometimes my son throws stuff off of his tray and it may take me an hour or so to get it cleaned up if I was busy with him or trying to clean other parts of the kitchen, but I never leave a bunch of food laying around on the floor. Third of all, I had actually vacuumed the kitchen after dinner the night before, so I know there couldnt have been handfuls of popcorn on the floor. Fourth of all, we had been hovering over the kid for the last 2 weeks, so much so that he was getting sick of Mommy and Daddy. We knew what he was doing 95% of the time.

So we are told that we have to wait until they can talk to the Neurosurgeon to see if he can do the surgery at noon. At this point we are so frustrated and beside ourselves with what to do. So then the 2 Anesthesiologists who would actually be working on my son come up to talk to us. They want to hear my side of the story. I tell them what happened. They tell me, well there may be some increased risk if he has a tiny piece of something in his stomach but really there is the same risk if he has nothing in his stomach. They told us that if he had several pieces then they would want to wait, but since that didnt sound like the case, they were confident in proceeding if we were ok with that. They said to me, "You are his mom and we trust that you know how much he had. Hey, we have kids too and we know that you just cant always keep things away from a toddler. They are always able to find something. We totally understand and I really dont think that it is going to make a difference." They were so much nicer than everyone! I was so relieved since I felt like I was being blamed for everything! We went ahead with surgery and everything went fine. No problems what so ever!

While waiting in the waiting room to see Vince after surgery, my husband and I decided that we werent really in the mood for popcorn for awhile! We had a friend waiting with us after surgery and we started telling her the story. She is a Pediatrician and told us that the Number 1 cause of food choking in kids under 4 is popcorn. She told us that she didnt even have it in the house until all her kids were over 4. I thought it was 2, but I was wrong. So that settled it. We decided no popcorn in the house until all of our kids are over 4. We decided to just give away the popcorn that was left in the free tin at home. We were done with popcorn for a long time unless it was that fake fluffy popcorn that is not popcorn at all but corn puffs flavored like popcorn.

Two days later, we were able to take our son home! We were so excited to get to take him home so soon after surgery! While we were at the hospital we had friends feeding our cat and checking on our place. When we walked in the door there was a new package waiting in the living room for us. I thought to myself, "That's funny. I havent ordered anything." Then I looked closer. It was a package from the Popcorn Factory addressed to the lady that lived here before us!! GGRRRR! I refused calling them again, because I was sure we would get a third package!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Kitchen Tip #1

A couple of days ago I gave my son a banana for breakfast and threw the banana peel into the sink. I then forgot about and walked into my kitchen about an hour later with the banana peel in my sink covered with fruit gnats. I wanted to just share a quick tip on how to get rid of these annoying little insects as it also seems that they seem to appear in my kitchen this time of year.

To get rid of gnats, fill a glass with vinegar. A glass with a narrow opening is best, I usually use a wine glass. Any type of vinegar will work, though I have had the best results with apple cider vinegar. cover the opening of the glass with aluminum foil and secure with rubber band. Next, poke several small holes in the foil, a toothpick works best. Set the vinegar trap close to an area where the gnats like to gather like the sink, fruit basket, or garbage. The gnats are attracted to the vinegar smell and will crawl down the holes and then not be able to get back out. Eventually they will all fall into the vinegar and drown. I find that this trap doesnt take long to work, I usually only have to set it out for a day! Hope this trick works well for you too!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Food for Fit for a Picnic

To start out, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that Reading Cuisine has been light on posts lately. I really haven't been posting very regularly at all. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, my baby boy is not really a baby anymore, but a 16 month old toddler who is into anything and everything. I dont always have a lot of time to sit down and write a reflective or thoughtful post. I have another blog about our family for friends and relatives that I have trouble keeping up on! However, I am going to try harder at posting more frequently.

Secondly, however, I have just been uninspired in my cooking lately. I usually get in a cooking rut around this time. Our tomatoes are not ripe yet, so the recipes I have been saving for them can't be used just yet. I also am sick of hot weather by this time, although it has cooled down for a couple of days here in Columbus, Ohio, and am longing for fall. I can't wait until football season and the fun foods that go along with fall and football like Chili and the wide array of soup recipes and braising recipes I have been saving up. Chili and soup just dont go with summer.

Anyway, with all that said I decided to post one of my favorite recipes. I keep only the best recipes and transfer them to a program on my computer. The one I am posting is great for summer or fall! The recipe is for Chicken and Bacon wraps. They would be easy and great for a football game, but we have also made them for a picnic and they work great!! They can be serve hot or room temperature. I hope you enjoy them as well as we do. This recipe is from Cooking Light, but I have adapted a bit to our liking. The original recipe calls for fresh tarragon, but I use thyme since I grow it in our garden. I marinate and grill chicken tenders for the chicken, but you could use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, or left over chicken from the night before.

Chicken and Bacon Wraps

½ cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, minced (I use thyme instead of tarragon)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 whole wheat flatbreads, such as Flatout
2 cups romaine lettuce, shredded
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
4 center cut bacon slices, cooked and drained
2 cups shredded skinless chicken

Combine mayonnaise, tarragon, and fresh lemon juice in a small bowl. Spread 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture over each flatbread. Top each with lettuce, tomato, 1 bacon slice, crumbled, and chicken. Roll up like a burrito or fajita wrap. Makes approx 4 wraps.

Note: This recipe would also work well with turkey, I am thinking left over Thanksgiving turkey.