Before the four of us became That Egg-Free Life, I was just Alison, and I was starting a new nannying job as a cooking nanny for Mark and Ben. I was an accomplished baker, but there were only a few dinners I really knew how to make. And Mark and Ben needed to eat dinner more than they needed dessert, so I figured I’d figure out how to make some more dinners that Mark could eat and that the three of us would really enjoy.
I was a lonely college student with few friends, constantly made to feel like the “other” because I was a hard-working, focused, and driven college student surrounded by a lot of others who didn’t really want to be there and didn’t do their homework. And so I filled my spare time with reading recipe after recipe, looking for inspiration all over the internet and in cookbooks, adapting them to fit Mark’s needs and then trying out recipes at home to make sure they worked before teaching them to Mark and Ben.
Slowly, the void in my life where the college friends would have gone became filled by joyful food adventures with Mark and Ben. Arlene trusted me to keep Mark alive, and I lived up to that as if my own life depended on it. On Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, the boys and I made dinner and often also dessert, then cleaned up as much as we could. We watched Worst Cooks in America and other shows on Food Network, closely studying the chefs’ knife skills and memorizing the tips of Real Cooking, like “Bring to Boil, Reduce to Simmer”.
After falling in love with Worst Cooks in America, I decided it was time for the three of us to master the use of the chef’s knife.
I trusted Mark and Ben to take the knife seriously, and at age eleven, they learned to comfortably and safely cut with a chef’s knife. They lived up to my trust.
I knew I was seeing the potential in Mark and Ben far, far before most others had seen it. Mark and Ben in the kitchen had a different aspect about themselves, a serious attitude that I hadn’t seen in them in any other situations. It was like they knew on some level, at age eleven, that learning to cook was going to unlock the rest of their lives. Although the kitchen was full of joking and laughter, there was also a degree of focus and determination that I had not seen in Mark and Ben in any other place. Which is why I knew, before some of the other people in their lives, that they should be dreaming big, preparing for college, and believing that they could accomplish anything they set their sights on.
I am writing this in May 2019, while they’re getting ready for milestones like Senior Prom and high school graduation. Because college is calling, and Mark and Ben will soon be on their way.
POTATO DISHES —
Latkes: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, medium-nickel, dairy-free, vegan
Baked Potato Bar: egg-free, nut-free, low-nickel, low-lactose, soy-free, can be vegetarian
Sweet Potato Pie: can be egg-free or not, low-lactose, nut-free, soy-free, low nickel, vegetarian
Pesto Pizza; or use this pesto recipe over pasta!: egg-free, nut-free, vegetarian, can be soy-free if you make your own pizza dough rather than using a pre-made crust 🙂
Chicken Crepes: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free
Chicken Stew: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-lactose
Chicken-Bacon-Melt Sliders: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free
Chicken Fried Rice: egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free
Chicken Pot Pie: egg-free, nut-free, low-lactose
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Chicken Pot Pie: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-nickel
Vietnamese-Style Chicken: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, low-nickel
BEEF and STEAK:
Beef Fried Rice: egg-free, nut-free, dairy-free
Chef Anne’s Mini Meatballs: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-lactose, low-nickel
Carrot Fried Rice: low-nickel, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, can be egg-free or served with scrambled eggs
ASSORTED SIDE DISHES —
Compound Butter for bread on the side: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, low-nickel
Soft pretzels or pretzel rolls for hamburger rolls or to serve with cheddar cheese: egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, low-nickel