Cooking for Keith (Six Random Things About Myself: Part Six)

November 10, 2008 at 6:20 pm 1 comment

I’ve been cooking a lot lately; you might have noticed. But there’s something I haven’t really discussed yet when I talk about cooking — not because it’s secret or controversial or incriminating, but because it really deserves its own discussion. And I know there’s a lot of other people out there, somewhere, who can relate. *fist bump*

My husband, Keith, is severely allergic to dairy and eggs. I won’t lie — it can be downright aggravating when we’re hungry, and say, at the mall or on the road, and we can’t find a “safe” place for Keith to get a meal (here in the land of pre-processed foods, apparently there’s a need to put dairy or egg derivatives in almost everything — McDonald’s french fries, for instance). I get frustrated and grumpy when I can’t have the meal I crave because Keith can’t eat anything from the same menu — but then I think about how it’s got to feel for him. I, who have no food allergies, could technically grab a meal wherever I wanted; meanwhile, Keith has to choose between going hungry or going to the emergency room. It’s not a tough decision.

The choice was easy for me too. If Keith can’t eat, I don’t eat either. He didn’t ask me to. He doesn’t make me feel guilty on the occasion when I go ahead and eat what I want (sometimes the power of craving is just too much). In fact, he encourages me to eat the food I want, even when he can’t order from the same place. He knows he’ll find food eventually. He knows he can make do. But I do it because I like to share meals with my husband. I do it because it shouldn’t be so hard. And I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me because I don’t get to add parmeggiano reggiano to the pasta primavera, or go out for Chinese food, or order pizza from the place that makes my favorite crust. Sure, sometimes it bums me out. But then again, I’m really not the one suffering here.

So it really goes without saying that we can’t buy a lot of pre-made foods. I know it’s healthier that way, so while I’m grateful for the motivation to cook, some nights I would give anything to just fry up some meat and throw in a box of Hamburger Helper. Don’t judge. I know Keith would too. Anyway, we make almost everything from scratch. I always liked the satisfaction of cooking from scratch anyway, so this is good: it indulges my sense of accomplishment.

Therefore, it’s thanks to Keith and his severe food allergies that I learned to cook. It’s because of Keith that I know how to bake so well. It’s because of him that I’ve learned to be more creative in the kitchen.

You see, when I decided to eat only when Keith could eat, I also decided I was unwilling to give up things like cake and brownies and bread and pie. So I learned to make substitutions, and have succeeded in fattening up my husband on delicious baked goods, the likes of which he had never even dreamed of tasting. And me being the perfectionist that I am, I refuse to settle for mediocre-tasting foods. I experiment and hone until it’s right, so that Keith can share in many of the same gastronomic joys that us non-allergic people take for granted.


Take pumpkin pie for instance. It’s a custard. Which means eggs. Lots of eggs. Eggs, which define the texture of the custard. Eggs which will put Keith in the hospital. It’s a formidable baking challenge. I love a formidable baking challenge. This was the culinary challenge I tackled this weekend.

It came out quite good, in my opinion. After years of experimenting with this stuff, I think it’s the best (and simplest) Keith-friendly pumpkin pie I’ve made, although I’ll admit the texture is a little too much like a stiff pudding, or a runny flan. I don’t know exactly how to fix it, but rest assured — I’ve got an idea or two. One day, I’ll get it right. It’s what I do.


Entry filed under: Food, Head & Heart. Tags: , , , , , .

Goodies Thanksgiving: a vignette

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. onewandering  |  November 11, 2008 at 12:34 am

    I love you and you are a simply amazing
    a) wife
    b) chef
    c) baker
    d) friend
    e) all of the above

    … if you answered “e” then you are also SMRT! ;)

    I plan on having my slice of pie tomorrow (before or after the gym), and one day when you write a cookbook, I’m gonna buy the first copy (which I will oogle over all the pictures even if I continue to use eggs and milk in ALL of my baked goods)!!!

    It’s only fair, I think, that you should open up my eyes to what Keith-friendly food tastes like, and I should shower you in return with reminders of what the rest of the world gobbles up.

    Ying and yang. Teeter and totter. Half and half… oh, sorry Keith! ;) How about Soy Milk and Egg substitute?!

    *HUG* I love you guys…


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