Mar 062013

Raw milk from my erstwhile cow-share in Tucson

Two days ago, I received a mildly-unfortunate diagnosis for my daughter: she’s allergic to dairy proteins. Since my five-month-old baby is exclusively breast-fed, she’s certainly not getting any dairy directly, but that particular protein (casein) can pass into my milk when I consume dairy. And oh boy, do I consume some dairy.

Luckily, there is a way to treat it, but it involves an elimination diet on my part. It’s taken about 36 hours for the fullness of this prescription to sift into full cognizance and it’s not been an entirely pleasant process. It started with “ok, I can’t drink milk anymore. No big deal. I’ll miss occasionally having cream in my coffee, but I’ll deal with it,” but as I thought more and more about my diet (and read food labels in my pantry) I started to come to the realization: that dairy stuff? It’s in everything.

Ok, I’m being a bit melodramatic. I know how to cook sans milk-product and even have plenty of dairy-free or just-swap-or-omit-an-ingredient recipes on this site. It’s just that a lot of things that I like to eat have dairy in them. Like cheese. Or foods that are a wonderful tradition in my marriage, like crepes. Or things I’ve just really mastered and am super-excited about, like pie-crust. And let’s not get started on cookies. Lactating has made me crave them like crazy. Oh, and that trip that we’re taking to coffee-mecca Seattle next week? No cappuccinos or mochas for me.

Home-churned butter from raw cultured cream

In the big picture, I am very well aware that this falls under the auspices of “first-world problem.” My family — including myself and my baby — are still food-secure. We don’t have to worry about tainted drinking water. Nor am I wearing a hole in hospital-hallway-tile night after consecutive night with worried pacing while my baby fights for life. And this allergy? She’ll probably grow out of it — and even if she doesn’t, she’ll wean someday. So this elimination-diet, in comparison with, say, the rest of my life, has a short life-span. Really, things are good here. In the meantime, a few recipes with dairy included in the ingredient list will continue to appear here, but they will be foods that I have previously written-up or photographed and are sitting in my queue.

(And no, I am not willing to give up my breast-feeding relationship with my daughter just so I can have butter on my toast in the morning. Nor would it be advisable to wean, since, hello, formulas are made from cow’s milk or other high-allergen ingredients. Also? Still flu season and baby is still too young for the vaccine. So yes, I am happy to suck up this elimination diet so that she can still get the best of me. And for the record, the thing that is the most devastating to me is that she can’t use any of the milk I’ve pumped and stored for her since it’s all tainted with casein. I have to start over with our freezer stash. I’ll be donating the milk, so it won’t go to waste and another baby in need will benefit from a mother’s milk.)

So, to help me embrace the positive, I’m going to list some things that I’m really, really glad I can still eat:

Scharffen Berger 70% bittersweet chocolate
Nearly all home-made breads
Brussels sprouts
Most home-made soups
Duck (and duck-fat!!!)
Justin’s chocolate-hazelnut butter

But I would be remiss if I didn’t list some things I will miss:

Really good pizza
Goat gouda
Scharffen Berger 41% deep milk chocolate
Home-made cookies (though I can experiment with using lard instead)
Pot-pies (I had just recently started to learn about them and was really excited about to make a duck pot-pie)

I just need to remember that it’s all worth it so that we can continue to do this:

Leah latched-on and eating mama's milk

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