Monday, July 11, 2011

GBE Challenge: The Bakery

Our sons' bakery lies just inside the doorway to our home, in our mult-purpose kitchen that does so much more than turn out regular meals for our family. The boys have known it to be no other way. Candy molds, cooking thermometers, colorful wrappers and boxes, piping bags and tips are all commonplace. I, their mom, am the one and only baker.

In the days B.C., before children, I was an avid Martha Stewart follower and a closet wanna be. Still, I can't help but think that I am not worthy every time I am faced with a difficult task. However, in this bakery, while there are many mistakes, overall failure is not an option. If I didn't bake, I would feel as though my children would be missing a part of their childhood.

Colitis, gastritis, acid reflux and multiple food intolerances are traded between those boys. Eating from the shelf, or out of a commercial bakery was not an option for either of themthem when they were younger. One son still relies soley on my allergy friendly food.

When they were young toddlers, I was hit with the realization of how much their diet would impact their lives. Sure, I could cook meals that fit their dietary requirements, but what about the fun stuff?

That point at the birthday party when the cake is brought out, and all the children swarm around it in anticipation of their piece? My children would not be able to have that.

On Halloween nights when the other children are running from house to house to collect the standard sweet goodies? That, too, was not an option.

Christmas treats, Easter, summer fun food, snacks at school: what is a mom to do? I wanted my children to have the same joy in life that other children could experience. I wanted them to share in the celebrations our country has created around food--even if it was in their limited way.

Thus, a bakery was born.

Most of the goods that come out of our household bakery are free of gluten, casein, corn, soy, eggs and nuts. We've just ventured into artificial coloring this year. An avid fan of preservative-filled junk food in my childhood, I just never imagined I would be a natural baker for my children. However, there was the need. Therefore, that is how it is.

When they would attend birthday parties, I brought their own cupcakes and food. I tried as hard as I could to make it similar to what was being offered at the party. It would have KILLED me to see the disappointed look on their faces that said they wished they didn't have these health issues.

Luckily, my kids like their food. Their smiles and delight fuel my desire even more to provide them with the best I know how to make.

"Mama," our younger son said when he was four. "This year I want a dolphin birthday cake."

Say what? He wants what? ARGH! Listen, kid, this isn't like going to the store and ordering your cake! How to bake it? How to get it to rise properly? What natural food colors can mimic the skin of a dolphin??!!

But, I did it.

Our older son likes carousel cakes...every year. He wants to spin it and watch the horses. This year, he was so excited when he found the undecorated layers that he dug right in. Piecing together that cake was a challenge!!

And, I did it.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that, in our bakery, there is a second-in-command, a behind-the-scenes guy: my husband.

How can one be the Easter Bunny with the kids always underfoot? How is it that Halloween treats can be made and secretly planted at the neighboring homes when little eyes watch my every move? Valentine's treats, stocking goodies--the magic can't happen with an audience.

Countless times he has herded the boys out of the kitchen so that I could make their treats, sending me messages as he is about to approach the house upon their return so that I could clean the mess and hide the sweet surprises.

The second-in-command is also my wallet. Haha. And, he rarely complains. Allergy friendly food is EXPENSIVE! It has taken me years to refine my recipes. I cringe when I think of all the mistakes I made in the early years. All the bombed recipes. All the purchases that ended up having an ingredient that would offend one of the children's systems.

On one hand, it was such a waste of funds! On the other, it was an investment, the cost of my learning curve. Mistakes are fewer these days. The boys have not missed out in their childhood, and their kitchen is seemingly always open!

The bakery in our home has played an important role in our lives. Its sweet smells and delicious confections have allowed us some normalcy in an otherwise abnormal exsistance. With all its late-night production, covert operations and countless man hours, the bakery rarely disappoints.

For Mom The Baker, a smile is worth 1,000 cookies---okay, maybe three, but don't tell them that!


  1. You are such a good mom. I know how hard it is to even make a cookie, let alone a cake that is gluten free and casein free an soy free. Of course when my daughter was younger, we only had so many recipes available. We did eventually reintroduce her to glutens as the 18 month journaling of that didn't prove to help her behavior or her gastro-intestinal issues. We have kept her casein free and she's still allergic to soy and oatmeal :(

    BRAVO for you though!! I'm thoroughly impressed with the dolphin cake!! You rock for sure :) Cheers, Jenn

  2. Jenn, our older son turned out to be a celiac. No hope of reintroducing. That explains why the reactions to it were so violent. He will also react to casein and soy, which, as I'm sure you know, are similarly-structured proteins. I haven't tested our younger son for gluten in a loooong time. He's a nut...maybe I should. And, ohhhh, the journaling. I remember it like a horrible dream.

  3. Lovely pictures and lovely story!

  4. You are seriously a rock star mom. Those boys are luckier than they know, although one day, they'll look back and think, "Damn! We had the best parents ever!"

  5. A smile is worth a thousand cookies! Love that line, Amy. You amaze me more and more, as I get to know you and your boys through these posts. You really are exceptional, Amy. Give yourself a pat on the back! *hugs to you all*
    PS - Would love to see the dolphin and carousel cakes!

  6. You are talented. I especially like the Halloween ghosts. Sending home baked goods to school means either scooping the ready made out of the package and into the oven or wrapping Oreos on a paper plate with foil on top.


  7. What an inspiration. My SIL had to become a baker too when their daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease. She always brings along the gf cupcake to the birthday parties, etc. You women amaze me! And an appreciative nod to the second-in-command.

  8. I'm in awe as I am not much of a baker. I can cook but sweet confections have always eluded me. You really work so hard for your're a great mom and it shows :)

  9. As a mom, you rock!! You took your kid's limitations and made the impossible possible!! Amazing blog, and amazing example for the rest of us to live by.


  10. This topic was made for you :)

  11. It's your attitude of "They need it, I'll make it happen!" that is the treasure! If you are not the Proverbs 31 woman Amy, I don't know who is: Verse 28 and 29 say, Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."

  12. What lucky children you have to have such Great Mom like you! I can only imagine how good your kitchen always smells! (Love the doggie bones)!

  13. I was allergic to yeast and eggs when I was a child. I remember my mom trying to figure out HOW I would eat. Birthday parties were fun until the cake and ice cream came out, not because I couldn't eat them, but because the situation separated me from everyone else.

    The worst part was finding a bread I could tolerate. We went from one that tasted like eating a spoonful of salt with every bite to one that felt so heavy, one bite felt as if I were eating an entire piece of bread.

    I never looked at it from my mom's point of view until now, so thank you for this post.

  14. WOW i have its an glad you are blogging this..make it a book!!!!!!!!!!!!! MUAH!

  15. Wow, how wonderful to have such fantastic baking skills. I was never much good at baking anything!

  16. You are all so supportive. Thank you!

  17. I am so grateful for your boys! They won the lottery on the Mom draw, for certain. I know that we all, learn the needs and make it happen to some extent, but you, my dear have gone above and beyond! You have really taken this mom job over the top and made it a full time career and I applaud your effort. ((((hugs))))
    So glad to be getting to know you and your family through these blogs and so proud to call you my friend!
    I agree with the book idea, as well. So many women out there would learn from your experiences!

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