Happy 14th Birthday Matthew!

Happy 14th Birthday Matthew!

Matthew's 14th birthday

Just love the ‘pizzaz’ of sparklers!

Matthew celebrated with his friends on Friday night…he had a pizza/sleepover party with 3 of his closest friends.

I ordered pizza from Pizza Nova…love their link to Allergy Information under Nutrition. Click here for a link.

Too full on pizza…they enjoyed a slice of my Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cake later in the evening.

Tonight’s ‘Birthday Dinner’ is Andy’s famous Chicken Wings …as requested from Matthew…and Fries. Followed by the official rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ for the birthday boy with any leftover Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cake!

P.S.  I am off to pick up my BFF, Anne, in Toronto…she flew in from Calgary over the weekend. I am looking forward to spending a few days catching up, doing a little window shopping and just hanging out.

Anne has arrived just in time to celebrate Matthew’s birthday with us all tonight and will have the opportunity to catch one of Michael’s hockey games on Tuesday night…lucky girl!

Update: While in Toronto, Anne and I stopped in at The Cupcake Shoppe. I have always wanted to visit…all their cupcakes are peanut/tree nut free. Click here to view their FAQ’s page.

Matthew is a chocoholic…the Double Chocolate Cupcake was chosen. When the guy serving us heard this was a special birthday cupcake…he added the sugary birthday cake topper.

Peanut/Tree Nut Free Chocolate Cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe

Matthew loved the surprise…he enjoyed the cupcake…despite, in his words, “the icing was store bought sweet.”

Matthew's special birthday cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe

Happy 14th  Birthday Matthew!

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Allergy Friendly Chinese Dumplings: Matthew’s Story

Today’s post is set up a little differently…today, the post will be co-written by none other than my son, Matthew.

Matthew writing his story on Chinese Dumplings

The story really is about his experience so I felt his ‘words’ would be best to express his thoughts and feelings.

Let me set it up the story:

Matthew’s Grade 8 class won a lunch at The Mandarin Restaurant from a Poetry Contest.

Matthew has a peanut/tree nut allergy. Eating out at restaurants is not something that we do as a family very often…his older brother, Michael also has multiple food allergies: dairy, egg, sesame, beef, fish, shellfish, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry.

If, as a family, we decide to eat at a restaurant, I first check the restaurant’s website for any food allergen policies…the Mandarin’s website states, “Our food has not been analyzed for allergens. Many of our items contain ingredients like nuts, corn, gluten, etc., or have come in contact with those ingredients. It is therefore recommended that those with severe food allergies avoid eating at restaurants.” Click here to view.

I then call and speak to the Manager to get a feel if eating at their establishment would be ‘safe’ for my boys.

I called ahead to the Mandarin…after speaking to the Manager it was decided that the Mandarin would not be a ‘safe’ place for Matthew to eat. Matthew would need to come home for lunch that day.

The Chinese Dumpling recipe has been adapted from Pitchfork Diaries. I used ground turkey as there wasn’t any pork, I omitted the egg and sesame oil and I used Sherry. For the Dipping Sauce, I used 3 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of rice vinegar and about 1/2 tsp of fresh ginger minced on a rasp. My husband loved it, however, Matthew thought it a bit strong and Michael ate his without. Next time, I would perhaps add a bit of canola or extra virgin olive oil to dilute the flavours.

I highly recommend watching the video, on the Pitchfork Diaries post, on how to fold the rounded dough into the ‘beautiful crescent shape’. (which, by the way, Matthew mastered beautifully!)

Here is Matthew’s story:

Well, on Monday my friends went to the Mandarin because they won a contest. I couldn’t actually go. So the week before, my mom asked me what I would want to have if I went to the Mandarin that I hadn’t eaten before. I replied “dumplings”.

Matthew's Chinese Dumplings

I was doing some tedious work making the dumplings, when my dad came home. I explained what I was doing and here is what I said.

Matthew making his Chinese Dumplings

“You have to rim the dough with water, then fill and fold, then pick up and fold and pinch, and fold and pinch, then switch sides and fold and pinch, and fold and pinch, then seal but!! make sure the folds on each side are apart so it looks pretty.” ( said with a sarcastic tone )

Matthew folding and pinching the Chinese Dumplings

Mom found that hilarious but it kind of was if you were there.

Earlier, I was getting a little tired so I said, “You need to sing when making the dumplings or else you go mad, because it’s very boring!”

So that’s what I did, I started to hum.

The cooking of the dumplings is super easy, you just boil them.

Matthew boiling the Chinese Dumplings

They tasted really good but the dipping sauce was much too strong. Other than that, the meal was awesome!

As soon as I saw this picture I was amazed! It is awesome! It really captures the essence of the dumpings.

Matthew sampling his Chinese Dumpling

You should definitely try them!!

One on one with Matthew:

How did you feel when you heard that it would not be ‘safe’ to eat at the Mandarin Restaurant with your classmates?

I didn’t care at all. I didn’t really want to go to the Mandarin because I don’t think I would like the food and I would not feel comfortable eating there.

Do you think you missed out on anything?

No.

How did your classmates react to the fact that you would not be joining them to the Mandarin Restaurant due to your peanut/tree nut allergy?

They didn’t…they just accepted it.

Did they tease you? Make you feel like you are different? Single you out?

No.

What would you say to the boys and girls out there living with food allergies?

If you can’t eat it out at restaurants then just make it at home.

Matthew’s final thoughts:  “I’d like to go to restaurants once in a while but if there is a chance it is not ‘safe’ then I’d rather stay at home.” “I think of myself as the same as everyone else…I just can’t eat a few things.”

On Wednesday Matthew was invited by his teacher, Mr. G. to lunch…they sampled the pizza from Pizza Nova that will be served at the Grade 8’s Graduation Lunch…apparently, it passed the ‘yummy’ test!

Pizza Nova has a great web site for allergen information…click here to view.

Pizza Nova will also be providing Chicken Wings for the Grade 8’s Graduation Lunch…minus the dipping sauces, as they may contain traces of peanut/tree nuts. Mr. G. will provide safe dipping sauces as an alternate. Thanks Mr. G.!

Upon learning that Matthew was enjoying Pizza Nova pizza, one student remarked in a sarcastic tone, that he was displeased…Matthew retorted, “Yah, but you got to go to the Mandarin!” The student replied, “I think I would rather have had the pizza than go to the Mandarin!”

Next week Matthew will be invited to another lunch to sample Pizza Nova’s Chicken Wings!

I am so thankful for the understanding and cooperation that I have encountered throughout the years for both my boys at their school.

Our journey has not always been ‘easy’ but one has to remember it is a ‘learning curve’ for all involved…working as a team for the common goal of keeping our food allergic children safe is the focus…communication is key…keeping that in mind…compromises can be made.

How has your journey progressed with your children with food allergies at their schools? Any tips?

Matthew’s Tip: The Chinese Dumplings were larger than normal Dumplings…they could me made smaller.

P.S. I made the turkey filling and dough ahead of time. I rolled out the circles of dough and Matthew filled, folded, pinched and sealed ALL of the Chinese Dumplings himself! He also boiled them.

Way to go Matthew!

P.P.S. Some of the Chinese Dumplings were frozen for another meal.