Monday, April 15, 2013

Gluten-Free Key Lime Pie


Gluten trials and the pie it made

Several months ago we put kiddo back on gluten-full foods to be able to run blood panels and do a
behavioral check list. We needed a solid 6-8 weeks, after 2 weeks I was ready to commit MYSELF.

Kiddo on the other hand was pleased as punch to be able to eat any old thing. Unfortunately it really made a years worth of effort getting him mentally in the right gluten-free frame of mind worthless.

Just about every facet of life was effected by the return of gluten. Medically, kiddo's reflux returned and was much worse than it had been in years. He was now waking in the night, sleep walking even. His appetite was decreased and sensory integration off the charts. In school his behavior and grades were steadily declining. At his annual appointment I was concerned about his wieght and behavior and the pedaitrician and I agreed it was time to move back to the arena of the Develpomental Pediatrician but we did head over to have all the blood panels ordered.

The following week kiddo had been sick and we were back in the pediatric office, he was down another 2 pounds. I emailed with his teacher at school to see his feelings about the grades and behavior declination and the diet change timeframe. He agreed, things really did change considerably when kiddo's diet changed. That was it, gluten was done.

Two weeks back on gluten and a weight check in with the pediatrician and kiddo is back up over a pound in weight. Behavior will take longer to see, but I am pretty sure that we will see the changes there soon as well.

The complaints came back too of course "mom you can't make everything I love gluten-free!"
Me: "Try me."
Kiddo: "Hmm... I have to think what I want more than anything in the world. Oh I know!!! Key Lime Pie! You can't make gluten-free Key Lime pie!"

Psh, kid.. give me something hard.

I knew I wanted to go with a graham cracker crust for this Key Lime pie, and wouldn't you know last week when the kiddos had been out of school I had gone to the ends of the Earth (ok... it was the ends of our county.. but honestly it was at least FIVE grocery stores!!!) to find some gluten-free graham style crackers for S'mores on our new fire pit. I did find one box... but then I nearly choked on my tongue and peed my pants simutaneously when I saw the $7.50 price tag. No thanks. I finally found Kinnikinnick's S'moreables and grabbed two boxes that day so I was sure I had enough left to make a pie crust.

Next was the limes. I happen to be a purist when it comes to Key Lime Pie. I really think Key Lime Pie needs to be made with... Key Limes, makes sense, no? What is that you say... you live no where near Key West? Neither do I. My best friend has this citrus tree and grew Key Limes for a while...
though I think possibly she may have killed that wee little Key Lime tree. Either way, I never profited a Key Lime from my Floridian friend. I do however buy them when I see them in the produce aisle and freeze the suckers. BUT and here is the but... squeezing the juice from those little guys is arduous work, take my advice here and supplement if you can with a little help! Believe me, its worth it in the end and you will have all the wonderful Key Lime tartness you want, with a little less effort.

Despite whether you do or do not use the bottled Key Lime juice, I do however reccomend that you have at least a handfull of Key Limes to be able to get some rind which adds an amazing depth to your pie! I use my trusty microplane to grate the Key Lime skin (JUST the very surface of it) into tiny bits that will go into the actually pie filling. Any extra that you have makes a wonderful garnish at the end as well.

Now, if you have been following the blog, you may have seen the last post here about my, err, incident. So, I highly recommend using a food processor to do your crust work, I actually bought one shortly after the... umm, ER visit.

The one thing that I have noticed after making a few of these graham cracker crusts is that some of them rise a bit and decrease the depth of the actual pie cavity. I am not sure about you, but I like a nice deep pie. (Somehow that sounds dirtier than I intended) So, to correct this problem, I have created a slight method that I call "pie shell nesting." When you pull the pre-baked crust out of the
Terrible pic, and not parchment, but just
to give you the idea
oven, if the crust looks a little shallower and want to correct it, first grab a square of parchment and press it into the cavity.Then grab a second 9" pie plate and press it firmly and EVENLY into the pie plate/crust that you just pulled from the oven. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before removing the nested pie plate. When you removed it, twist it from side to side and it should slide free pretty easily. Then you have a nice deep pie shell to be able to pour your filling into!

Gluten-Free Key Lime Pie
The GF star of the Key Lime Pie!

20 Gluten-free Graham Crackers (Kinnikinnick S'moreables)
1/4 C Brown Sugar 
6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted


1 1/2 Tbs. Key Lime Lemon Rind, grated
3/4 C Key Lime juice
3 large egg yolks
1 3/4 C condensed milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In the bowl of a food processor, blend the crackers until they are finely ground. (Alternately you could use a ziploc bag to crush them, but please for the love of Pete stay away from sharp objects! :) )
3. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add sugar and butter and mix until everything is well blended and looks wet.
4. Evenly press the mixture into a 9" pie plate.
5. Bake the crust in the pre-heated oven for about 8 minutes. If your crust has risen a bit too much, use the "pie shell nesting" method to give yourself a deep crust cavity. (see picture above)

6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the lime rind, juice, yolks and milk.
7. Mix on medium-high speed for about a minute.
8. Pour the contents into the prepared pie plate.
9. Bake pie for 15-20 minutes, until the filling no longer moves.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

IEP Burnout

It sat there on the counter, ready, waiting. It's metal gleaming, the cord still tightly wound from the night before. I wanted so much to snatch it up and use it like any other morning. Yes... a smoothie. It's about 75 degrees this morning a smoothie would be wonderful. But it sits there, staring at me. It knows what it did and my finger throbs in confirmation of its crime. I divert my eyes, busy myself. It's an object after all, it has no control over me! I grab the bananas and some frozen fruits from the freezer, some chia seeds, honey, my protein powder and probiotics, yes an excellent start for the day. I look at the bounty that will be my smoothie on the counter and smile. But I can feel the glare of the machine behind me.

Somewhere in the wee traces of my mind I want to believe that it was a total manifestation of Stephen King's Maximum Over Drive and this Hand Mixer, my and MacLeod's previously adored Boom Stick (see here where eggs are no match for it) was possessed, but I know with the rest of my fully functional brain (mostly) that  that is not the case.

The truth is it's been a very rough few months in Special Needs world for us with therapy and school and with kiddo's IEP, which has seemed to take the latter part of eternity to work out this year, I think I am a little strung out. I spent last weekend pouring over 16 IEP's from Pre-school through 4th grade, numerous diagnostic studies, follow-up clinics, feeding clinics, report after report and study. I filed until my eyes burned. Then I cried till my eyes swelled shut. Looking at so many years of reports and studies you can see patterns and things that you don't see otherwise, things I wish I had seen. I have never been in denial about his need for help, never. But I have never seen the full picture either and looking at everything, I do. I think I have spent so much time in the daily grind pushing for services and pushing for services I haven't sat back and studied the results enough. The people who are providing the services have not paid enough attention to the results because otherwise the services would have been provided in a manner different than they have been. In many cases the recommendations in many of these reports have been clearly ignored. I feel  that I have failed to advocate strong enough for him.

So how does that get me back to that evil Hand Mixer? Well, yesterday kiddo was evaluating with a new occupational therapist. In addition to that it was his regularly scheduled OT and Speech Therapy day. SO getting home he had a good amount of homework. The rule of thumb, because we have BIG meltdown issues with homework, is that he is to complete a minimum of a solid 30 minutes of work. If I can get him to work 30 minutes and he does well, I try to reward him and ask him to go longer. If it is not going well I don't push. Last night it was bad. Meltdowns, throwing things, hitting himself, tears and talking about how he would rather be dead, etc. Grandma was here trying to help, but he was in a really bad place. I was desperately trying to throw something together for dinner as well, queue Hand Mixer. They were on the deck and I was in the kitchen. I was popping in and out trying to redirect him and puree meat with the Hand Mixer.  Now... before you say... "Mom, why were you pureeing meat with a Hand Mixer anyway"... I know, I know it was not a smart move already. Hindsight, folks, hindsight.

MacLeod walks in the door about 30 minutes from work early. Queue distraction number 3. (I love you hon' but my brain was a mile a minute) "What can I do... what can I do..." Me: "ummm...."
 (that is about the sound the mixer made as the blade caught my finger as I tried to move meat out from being stuck in the blade)

  *Shreik maybe heard by dogs and dolphins*....Oh my God, Oh my God....."

McLeod: "Come here, get it under water." (So calm! He was a Boy Scout, ya know.)

Grandma: "Holy *#$%, what did you do!? Towel, pressure, get it up!!!!" (not as calm.)

So I am not one of those wusses who flees to the ER often, but by the looks of the blood flow and such, I though perhaps it warranted a trip. We packed up the foods, thank goodness no blood got in my chicken and headed to the ER.

Evidently that nail will fall out, ew.
Three hours and that many stitches later and I was back home with my painful finger and remaining feelings of idiocy. Grandma stayed with the kiddos and they were tucked away when I got home. I was greeted in bed by a note from Lil Sis that said that she hoped my finger felt better. She has such a good heart.

I, of course do not blame anyone for my distraction and being dumb enough to get my finger caught in the blade of a moving mixer. Not kiddo or McLeod. I think the culmination of everything  has left me just not really that present or maybe trying to be everywhere all the time, and I can't. I feel like I need to slow down and speed up all at the same time to keep it all together.

The one thing I do know is that now, after seeing all I have seen in all kiddos IEP's and with his upcoming meeting, things will be better for him, that I will make certain.

So, in the end I did make my smoothie. I have to admit that when I first hit the button and the thing spun and whorled the first time after whipping around my finger last night, my stomach flipped a little. Damn you Stephen King.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Beginnings Part 2: We Party!

MacLeod, the kids and I had been living together for about six months in our home before he officially asked me to marry him. Because kiddo is on the spectrum it is something we have discussed in great length for a very long time, much like we discussed long before we all moved in together. For a long time after the divorce the kiddos had a really hard time accepting the fact that their father and I would not be getting back together again. So when we talked about the possibility that we may get married, we asked kiddo very gingerly what he thought. He was elated, his sister wanted to start planning the party. From then on it was a lot of fun getting their perspective on details for the wedding.

Lil sis went dress shopping with me and one of my bridesmaids and had the time of her life. Kiddo on the other hand hates shopping within an inch of his life. He had very specific input on what the cake should taste like and what shade of blue the photo booth actually should be. MacLeod's children, living in Tennessee with their mother, couldn't be a part of things, but did get to talk about some of our plans when they visited for the holidays.
 So to give a good understanding of the mechanics of the reception, sort of like how the script and all worked for the game in the ceremony, you have to know some of the background work that went into the reception. To begin with we had an amazing wedding coordinator, one of the only ways were able to juggle the mess really into place. But again, I am jumping ahead, let me start at the beginning.

So, about six months ago I contact a friend of mine from my old neighborhood up north who's husband is the lead singer of an awesome rock cover band called Say Something.  I asked if she thought they might play our wedding, but had a special request. I actually was trying to play two songs in the wedding myself. I knew it sounded like a total Bridezilla request, but was hoping they would entertain the thought. So we started chatting via email and eventually I got together with them for band practice. Thing was I was actually LEARNING to play the guitar at the same time. WHAAAA?! Yeah. Me? Crazy? Yes. So there it was, I was taking guitar lessons, voice lessons (to be on the safe side... who wants a singer's voice to crack at the wedding!?) and doing band practices all under the nose of my unsuspecting groom. Oh and then I was planning the rest of the wedding too.

If you remember from the previous post, when we first decided to get married we knew that the first thing that we wanted to have at our wedding was a photo booth and that that photo booth would be a TARDIS from Doctor Who. So MacLeod decided that he would construct the photo booth himself and had started to look at numerous tutorials online and created blue prints. He had plans on top of plans for this thing, it was impressive.

I was way over my head with the number of things that I was trying to do. No one would call me back for food for the wedding. I had a photographer but she repeatedly canceled our appointments so we really didn't have a photographer. The kids had what seemed to be five million things going on at school. My hair was standing on end.

To make matters worse MacLeod was slacking on actually starting the TARDIS.  I was freaking out. I mean I was about to get Matt Smith on the phone and see if he could pull some strings for me. When I mean things were getting to the wire, I mean that paint was going on that sucker on February 22...we were married on the 23rd people.
So the TARDIS wasn't exactly being built to MY timeline, I was doing a million and one things, I couldn't get a caterer to commit to food for the wedding to save my life. We did have a venue and alcohol, so we thought worst case scenario we all come together grab some chips and drink? That was it, I called in the big guns(Becca Bee Events of Fredericksburg, Va). I found a great wedding coordinator to work with who led me to some great people and the best possible thing she could have done was take the entire load of the day of planning off of my shoulders. I am not sure if she grasped the concept at the time of what that would entail given the complexity of our wedding, but she did an amazing job.

So with my coordinator in my corner I was breathing again and back to work. I had a caterer, a wonderful local BBQ company AND an ice cream sundae bar! We discussed at length the need to make the foods gluten-free and he did clear with me that he in fact used not one marinade that contained gluten. I would NOT spend the days after my wedding in bed.

One of my best friends had secured a wonderful bartender for us, so that was done and the band was set, live music with a DJ on the side! We had a projector to play slides of all our silly photos that we have taken over the last few years (we have some very, very silly photos) for the entertainment of our guests.

Because of the gluten issues, I didn't want to mess around with the cake, I ran a bakery for years and I know, I know... "make your own wedding cake?!" Yes, I did. Again, I didn't want to sit in bed for days after my wedding. So I decided to make my own wedding cake, plus, kiddo had some specifics about flavor, as did MacLeod. So there, I made the wedding cake. Judge if you will, it was delicious.
You may wonder..."what the heck is it?" Well friends, you have figured out by this point, we are nerds. So we decided that our friend G1(Generation 1) Devestator would be attacking our wedding cake. I made Devestator out for white chocolate over about a week and a half, a labor of... umm, love (you could call it that.) Notice the background for the cake is the original poster for Transformers animated movie (you know you just sang the title in your head... I know you did) released in 1986.

So there it was the day of the wedding. Much to my oober stressful dismay, the TARDIS was NOT complete and MacLeod was still working on it whence I arrived back home from running errands with my mom on Friday afternoon (when said TARDIS was supposed to be AT the reception location).  So, instead of simply delivering the wedding cake the morning of the wedding.... we were delivering the TARDIS, all its photo booth components AND the wedding cake. HOLY MOSES.

Then there was the issue of getting my guitar secretly to the reception site or with the wedding coordinator in time to give it to the band without MacLeod seeing.

I could have killed him.

Alas the TARDIS was indeed assembled and worked perfectly. Wow, did it ever work perfectly. There  was a sign inside the blue box to help guests know how to use the iPad's app which airprinted to the Welcome Table. We had put a bin inside with costume wears for all the guests to be able to use, including a Hannibal Lector mask... who knew people would use that one the most? Huh, lol. At the Welcome Table was the Guest Book, each guest was to leave one strip for the book (one per page) and sign the page as their entry. The finished product was absolutely perfect!

So while we were getting the photos done at the church after the reception, all the guests arrived at the reception and used the photo booth and got to snack on little boxes of popcorn (for the crazy movie theme) tour the A. Smith Bowman Distillery and enjoy the cocktail hour.

When we arrived everyone seemed to be having a pretty good time, which made us feel like we did really pull it off. The reception then went on and the "wedding stuff" went under way, speeches and dances. We went over the ceremony game and awarded the prizes to the guests, first second and third places. Then I was called up by the band to give my groom my "wedding gift." All the months of preparation and sneaking around and the time was up. I sang and played "Head Over Feet" by Alanis Morrisette first, a love song, something I thought maybe people might expect from me... though honestly I don't think anyone expected me to perform. Then we went into "Kiss Off" by the Violent Femmes, so much fun, I loved it. I think MacLeod was surprised, he certainly had no idea that I was going to be doing that for him. I told him that he trusts me entirely too much, well with all the "appointments" I had around town for the last few months.

The rest of the night I could finally breathed easy and we danced and enjoyed our family and friends. It was the happiest day that either of us have had in a long time.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring and New Beginnings Part 1: We Wed!

It's hard to believe it's been over a month already, I guess time flies in paradise? Eh... yeah, sure that's it. I think we just jumped right back into the day to day (not to mention an IEP month) hustle and bustle and then BAM... suddenly it's been a month!

Though our blog is about our lives living as parents in an Asperger's world and eating gluten-free, we would be remiss to not share something so momentous as our wedding, especially because it was something that we planned as a family. The kiddos were as much a part of all the silly plans as MacLeod and I were, so we want to share it with you. Believe me, it's something of a fun read... it certainly was something interesting to live through.  We are breaking it into two posts, because, well... the reception was TOO much fun to not tell about it too! Plus, I, Mom worked on a rocking wedding gift for MacLeod and he worked on well...something big too!


I apologize in advance if I offend you by making fun of things that you have in fact had in your wedding... these are simply things that we do not like because we are odd people and fancy an unusual type of humor, ya see?
I always thought it was somewhat silly when people had those darn cocktail napkins that said "Today I Marry My Best Friend" or jam jars that were labeled "Spread the Love".... eh, gag. Oh I think the worst was probably a box of mints labeled "Mint to Be." Wow.
MacLeod and I definitely were out of the box thinkers when we started talking about our wedding plans and honestly it really had little to do with wedding and more to do with a big party. Sure we knew we had to do the ceremony stuff and some of the traditional things like favors, but we had some big ideas that we wanted to have come to fruition. For the most part I think we really pulled it all together even though close to the end we both were pretty sure it was all going to fall apart.
Mom's 6th grade yearbook signature to MacLeod
MacLeod and I first met when we were in middle school and lived in the same neighborhood throughout our childhoods. We were in the same First Communion class at our Catholic Church (now both converted Baptists) and attended the same high school. He met his wife in high school, I met my husband during my service in the United States Marine Corps and that's where things went awry. Everything happens for a reason they say, right? We talk a lot about what things would have been like had we actually started our relationship in high school and not fifteen years later. Would we have been the same people? Of course not. Who knows what it would have been or not been. But at the end of the day we both know that we definitely are supposed to and were always meant to be together. It just took a little longer for us to find each other... the scenic route, if you will.
The things that made us realize that it was always one another were the things we talked about in our all night conversations and even things we still discover about each other. My first car a classic 1969 Ford Fairlane 500, he owned a 1953 Ford F100. We loved the same music and ridiculous humor and best of all got each other's terrible references to obscure movies and shows.
We were dating for about six months when we started to plan our wedding. It took us (MacLeod!) a year to get engaged (ahem) and then the actually wedding planning began. The first thing that we knew that we wanted to have was a photo booth and we knew that we wanted our photo booth to be none other than the TARDIS of the famed Doctor Who. We felt this was extremely befitting because 1. we love Doctor Who, not just MacLeod and I, but the kiddos too (see Power of Three Crepes) 2. It is the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who. How can that not be a good omen, am I right? Our marriage is bound to last the test of time (And Relative Dimensions in For a while we just reveled in how awesome that would be.
One day we went to a bbq festival and came across a distillery in our area, they directed us to tours they were just starting. A few days later we toured the facility and met the kindest master distiller known to man, Truman Cox. He said "someday" they were planning on having weddings in the distillery and quoted us a price. I don't think he planned on entertaining us so soon, but that is when everything came together.
Everything came together, yes...well, it was chaos, and insanity. But that was the start. We had out venue for sure. Two months later, we called the distillery back and talked to Truman and he agreed to rent the space to us, ever so skeptically given the crazy theme of our wedding. See my friends we decided that our wedding was indeed a theme wedding after all. Because MacLeod and I had been through hell and back with our previous marriages, custody issues and continued problems. Before we did the fancy party, the standard walk down the aisle, the cute little "mint for each other" crap. So our theme was "It's All Been Done Before", and we would walk down the aisle to THAT track by The Barenaked Ladies.
But that is jumping ahead a bit. Let me back up.
So the theme was "It's All Been Done Before." Our guests had lots of warning that this was not a "normal" wedding. We sent out the Save the Date which told them first what to expect a bit and directed them to our Facebook page for additional details if they were Facebook savy. Then the invitation came. The invitation included the actual invitation which on its own was the invite to the event and reception. Then there was a second explanation of our unusual wedding plan which went like this;

Dear friends and loved ones,

As you also probably know, both of us have been through this all before so we decided that we were not going to ever do it all the same again. In doing so, our invitation to be a guest at our wedding requires a little explanation.
Our ceremony will be something of a game, when you arrive you will receive a sheet and a pencil with spaces to fill in your answers. During the ceremony there will be some obvious, some not so obvious reference to movies that we love. You may see a guest or member of the wedding party dressed like a person from a movie or you may hear lines spoken
directly from some amazing flicks. You have to keep your eyes peeled and ears perked as you try to find all the answers to fill your sheet. To help you do this we are including a list of movies you should really consider familiarizing yourself with before the wedding- and don’t be a schmuck, join in!

When you arrive to the reception, your sheets will be collected from your tables and scored up and winners will be chosen! Yes, there will be a 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize basket for our insane wedding game.
Is this a strange way to have a wedding? Yes! Will all of you agree with it or participate? Of course not! But “it’s all been done before…” so we are making this exactly the way we want it to be and we hope that you can have as much fun as we will.

  Then it included the movie list that they were to "study" to be familiar with for the insane wedding game. It definitely was an unconventional way to have a wedding, but we wanted to have a good time, and we did the stuffy church bells already.

So the idea was that our wedding ceremony was to be completely scripted sort of like a movie, MacLeod, myself, our pastor and some members of the audience or wedding guests had parts to play in this script to make the wedding work. The guests however did not actually know their parts until they arrived because otherwise they would not have been able to participate in the game. We wanted everyone to be able to play the game if they could. So the only people that could not play the game were those who attended the rehearsal.

I created the script, and our pastor was amazing and great to work with. He was hilarious and we talked a lot before the wedding and a lot of it was pretty fluid and easy to sort of ad lib. There were some parts that we talked about before that we wanted to include after the shenanigans. Of course, we wanted to have our ceremony in our church because we wanted to honor our faith and our God, therefore we wanted our pastor to talk about our Holy union and the seriousness about it as well.

The ceremony begun with the guests seating. While the parents were seating a video to the theme music of Star Wars played with a tale of woe of Princess Mom and MacLeod Skywalker and their battles to escape their evil captors to find one another and ultimately eternal happiness. It played in a Star Wars crawl... this set the nerd theme of the entire wedding.

When the Star Wars crawl played out the Barenaked Ladies "It's All Been Done Before" started up, the bridal party started their way to the altar. The final pair in Monty Python style, one with coconuts, ala Patsy and the other galloping "on horseback." Finally the little ladies with the flowers headed down and then it was time for me and the kiddo, timing was everything so we had to wait for the music to do it and then ...."As you run down the aisle... wooo hooo hooo!!!" And we ran down the aisle, me and my little man, and he gave me away, my dad took my hand and then the ceremony proceeded into the script.

The first prize part, which was my dad's part that he proudly took was from The Godfather, MacLeod had to bend down and kiss his big ringed finger, it was hilarious. Then my father handed me over to MacLeod and took his seat.

This is already a marathon of a blog post so I won't write the entire ceremony out, but it was a great deal of fun, even the few parts we forgot from the original script, weren't missed. I think all said and done my favorite part, aside of the best ever last line of a wedding ever and yes, I have to actually write for you my dear friends:

Pastor:  "Well.... I'm not great at farewells, so, uh, that'll do, pig" (Zombieland)
 Mom:"That's the worst goodbye [we've] ever heard and you stole it from a movie." (Zombieland)

MacLeod Kisses Mom

Mom and MacLeod Exit to: Nine Inch Nails, We're In This Together