Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day from The Nut-Free "Baking" Mom

If you have a child with a nut allergy, you will soon come to know the "Baking Mom" intimately--because it will be one of the roles you'll be asked to adopt. I view the title of class "Baking Mom" as an honorific I have come to cherish.

Bakeries quickly become (not to sound too Brady Bunch, here) "taboo" when you find out that your child has nut allergies. Too much risk of cross-contamination. Ditto for ice cream parlors, but that's a whole 'nother blog entry.

Whether you harbor an inner Martha Stewart or not, the minute you become the "Baking Mom" you discover that you better know how to wield a pastry bag with some skill and aplomb if you don't want to embarrass your child at their birthday party (or at someone else's party. You're sending their own treats, there, too.) Hey, if the supermarket bakery can do it, so can I.

It's not always easy to find the supplies you need to basically open a small-sized bakery right in your home kitchen. Wilton has some excellent cake pans (including one for a Barbie cake--crucial for girls, I've found) as well as lots of cake decorating supplies like pastry bags and tips, how-to books and videos. (Important note: Wilton's new ingredients labels on decorating sugars and some frostings give allergy warnings for peanuts and tree nuts, though, so skip those. I'm still looking for across-the-board safe sugars and decorating stuff, so stay tuned.

When you are the parent of a food-allergic child, so many things feel out of your control. You know there will be times that your child has to miss out on certain things. However, when you put on your figurative chef's hat and become the "Baking Mom" or "Dad" you know you are providing your child with a treat that they can safely eat, along with the rest of the class. For that one moment or maybe that whole day, they don't have to feel different. That fact alone is worth a whole lot of little pink pastry bag "shell border" decorations that dye your fingers pink for about three days.

Basically, giving your child the fruits of your baking labors is like offering them your love on a plate. Not a bad day's work.

My days as the official class "Baking Mom" might be numbered. My younger daughter's pre-school, for example, does not allow home-baked goods due to the wide variety of food allergies (eggs, milk, peanut) represented. It may be a matter of time until the elementary schools have the same policy.
Whatever happens, I know that I gave my sweet kid some sweets that had the best and definitely safest ingredient of all: a mom's love.


Anonymous said...

I can relate. I got some flack from the other moms because I provided the treats at Halloween and volunteered early to do the same for Valentine's day. I simply said that I did it so that Emily could have the same treats as every one else for a change, since she can't eat the birthday snacks. (oh, right...) They weren't happy, but they backed off. Hey, I had to "steal" most of her candy from these folks, so they can deal. :) I have cupcakes in the freezer now for birthday parties. Is that how you handle it too?

Jenny said...

Yes, Amy, I usually have cupcakes in the freezer so all I have to do is make frosting at the last minute. Although sometimes I find myself caught unawares and in a late-night baking session! :)

I'm surprised that others in your area are vying for the chance to bring the treats--most of the time in my experience, other people are glad not to have to bring food. It looks like you have some competitive Baking Moms in your area! :) Once they understand the situation better, they might be more gracious. I always brief the teacher at the start of the school year, when we also discuss handling food allergies in the classroom, that I will be the Baking Mom and that eliminates other people's need for involvement right off the bat. If you can make the teacher your partner in food allergy management that makes all the difference in the world, too.

Nut free Mama said...

I recently signed up to take cake decorating classes at Michael's to hopefully gain some decorating skills, since my oldest daughter is also allergic to peanuts and treenuts, like yours. A lot of the materials that the course requires all have the nut warning on them, so obviously, aren't safe for me to use. My problem is, I can't find any alternatives to them...and I am extremely frustrated! The whole point of the course was to learn how to make a cake look good since there will be no bakery-made in our home. Hoping you've been able to find some alternatives...? Please help!

Unknown said...

I have a cousin who recently became allergic to nuts. I would Never have thought to read the decorating sugar labels. I had sugars from a company called Sweet Celebrations, but it seems they are no longer in business.
She found the warnings on Wilton labels, too.
I'm almost out of the Sweet Celeb sugars, so I would also appreciate info.
Barbara P.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Baking" Moms: I am also the mother of a peanut/tree nut allergic child. Some help-It seems that CakeMate products manufactured in Ocala FL are peanut free. and Vermont Nut Free chocolates are helpful sites. Hope this helps!
Another Baking Mom!!