Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Very Scaly Baby - Eczema. Jeff had golf-ball eyes crusted with ooze, profound itching and scaly skin with strips of baby feet peeled away with dermis.

Jordan, Brandy, Jeff

I had a stroke in 1999 and I believe it's mercury fillings.

By now, Frank and I were married, and Jeffrey is in the womb. It was 1969, and I was exceedingly pregnant, with Neil Armstrong orbiting on the moon in July 20 and a gallon of gas was $.35 cents.

I was ten days late, cranky and the feet is a distant  memory protruding over my immense belly.  Jeffrey was 8 lb. 1 oz., he howled all the time, and the nurses said he never closed his eyes. He was an alert baby, born August 12. 

I had a strange taste in my mouth, probably the anesthetic.  No big deal.  That's not good for baby, I reasoned. Bad breath is not good.  I gargled and rinsed and brushed my teeth. But the odor was there; kind of a metallic funky taste.

Mercury was there, lurking. I didn't know it at the time. I was 21 years old and I never heard of mercury. The mercury passes to the fetus and the placenta; hence eczema.  It's toxic, every organ, for example, the brain, kidneys, heart and skin, it stays there. My mouth is a vessel, teeming with mercury and approximately, 60% amalgam fillings.  That's a lot of mercury.

At two weeks, Jeff was a skinny baby. He was a bottle baby and regurgitated half as much milk.  The mouth, eyes and ears were crusted and he cried all the time. I called Dr. Pascal Spino, Greensburg, Pa.  Waiting is a chore, sometimes hours on end in the waiting room. The children were colicky, croupy, cranky and mom's were exhausted.  Dr. Spino is the best pediatrician in southwestern Pennsylvania. He worked tirelessly.
"The baby has eczema," Dr. Spino said, "see the elbow's and knees?," indicating.
Sure enough, the eczema is everywhere.

"But I don't understand. My husband and I never had eczema," I said.

Frank was illegitimate, so he never had a dad. The family history was sketchy, but the oozing, scaling  and weeping of eczema was nil.
Jeffrey had a milk allergy, Dr. Spino said.  Jeff's eyes, ears and mouth were crusted, and the knees and elbows are inflamed.  I mixed some Prosobee, is a soy-base product, and waited.  Nothing.  I called Dr. Spino yet again.
"It's been two weeks. The eczema is worse," I explained to the nurse.

Dr. Spino called Dr. Martin Murcek, an allergist in Greensburg, Pa., and he explained the situation; namely, a very scaly baby.
Jeff had golf-ball eyes crusted with ooze, profound itching and scaly skin with strips of baby feet peeled away with dermis. Not pretty.  He was two.  The itching was so bad, he wore mittens I gave him to ease the pain.  Kenalog cream helped, but it was a corticosteroid. He had a gamete of allergies, from trees, grasses, dust mites and milk.
Jeff is 46 now.  He graduated from Penn State University at State College and he is in Operations Management.  He works for McDonald's Corporation for 20 years and every spring and fall the dreaded eczema appears.  Every so often the obsessive-compulsive disorder rears it's grave head. The actions repetitive, ritualistic and compulsive.

Jordan and Jeff

My granddaughter Jordan is a reed thin sweetie, with angular features and long lines.  She's 14. She eats like a truck driver, craves sugar and she loves fruit.  She inherited eczema;  wisps of eczema from elbows and knees, ever so faint, in the springtime.

Jeff's married to Brandy, August 4, 2011.  Brandy's daughter, Tia, is 9 years old, and she's is a nurse for the Veteran's Clinic in Uniontown, Pa.

Frank (recently deceased) and I never had eczema. The family history indicates no eczema. Genetic? I don't know.

A Side Note: On October 3, 2014, Jeff went to the doctors in Morgantown, W.Va. for an allergy shot. It's routine. Jeffrey blew up like balloon. Anaphylactic shock. The nurses were amazing; three EpiPens, Jeff's blood pressure was nonexistent and, finally, was stable. The doctor said "No shots."

It's all connected.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Moosehead Gingerbread

I had a stroke in 1999 and I worked at Chrysler Motors in Michigan in 1985. I built cars for a living and I was a supervisor in the body shop. Sparks flew, no less. The little silver cars I assembled were the Sundance and Shadow.

At 5 AM, full of coffee and manic from the caffeine, I deposited $.50 cents for The Daily News for Detroit. I fired up the car and flung the newspaper. Romeo, MI to Sterling Heights Assembly Plant is a 1/2 hour trek, and the supervisors walk the plant for innocuous reasons for a half-an-hour, major breakdowns, the almighty gloves and no-shows from assembly workers. It's an unspoken rule from general supervisors. I'm ready to work at 6 AM.

At 5:55 AM, I hurried the newspaper; the horoscope is paramount (I'm a Leo) and the I love food section, specifically, Robin Mather. Two-minutes till six. Female supervisors wore neckties, an insane practice, and knotted the tie. One-minute. I loved the plant. I was exhilarated and exhausted at the same time. I spied Moosehead Gingerbread from the food section. It's 6 o'clock.

Baking is fun on the week-end, and the rigid time schedule for the plant leaves me tuckered. Just breathe. Moosehead gingerbread (as known as Robin Mather, from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book by Marion Cunningham, Knopf, 1984) with molasses, cinnamon and dark brown sugar; the warm feeling of fall, or anytime.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 tablespoons Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
1/2 dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of Egg Beaters (2 eggs) 
1 cup molasses 
1 cup boiling water

I substituted butter for Smart Balance and Egg Beaters (1/2 cup).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Land 'o Lakes 50% butter, every nook and cranny, and flour an 8-inch square pan.

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mustard and ground black pepper, and sift on waxed paper. Set aside.

Put the Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread and dark brown sugar in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add Egg Beaters and beat well, then beat in the molasses.

Add the boiling water and the combined dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes (use your microwave timer), or until a toothpick (or a knife) inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then onto a rack (or, a clean tea towel).

Serve toasty-warm with applesauce, soy vanilla ice cream and decadent whipped cream.


Yummy Paczki-Lite


Fifty years ago, I was a tot, poking around Mom's kitchen. With yeast, sugar and lukewarm milk, the rising dough covered the bowl. It's warm, tasty and delicious and I couldn't wait. Scrawled on the back of the invoice pad (Dad was a plumber), Mom had a paczki recipe.

It was Fat Tuesday, just before Lent and no sweets of any kind, not even Juicy Fruit gum. The sweet dough packed full of fruit filling, powdered sugar glaze and fried lard lipids; I was a happy little kid. Fast-forward fifty years? I learned.

The old-time paczki is a heart-stopping, artery-clogging and begging-for-an-angioplasty. Who knew? Before you count your lipids, consider this.  Paczki-light.

3 packets (x1/4 oz. ) active dry yeast granules
1 cup fat-free milk, lukewarm
1 cup flour
Let it rest for 1/2 hour

1 1/4 cup Egg Beaters
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick margarine, melted
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of flour
Let it rest for 1 hour

Jelly, (strawberry, apple, apricot)

Peanut or vegetable oil

Step 1:  I use three packets x 1/4 oz. active dry yeast granules,1 cup fat-free milk (Calories: 80), lukewarm.  Mix well and the yeast is frothy.  Use 1 cup of flour.  Mix well. Let it rest for 1/2 an hour.

Step 2:  Punch out the yeast mixture.

Step 3:  Add 1 1/4 cup Egg Beaters. (Note:  Shell eggs, 210 mg. of cholesterol, 75 calories per egg.)  Egg Beaters:  0 mg. cholesterol, 35 calories.

Step 4:  Use a 1/2 cup of sugar.  (Sugar: 385 calories.)

Step 5:  2 teaspoon of vanilla.  1 teaspoon of salt.

Step 6:  1 stick of Blue Bonnet (Calories 720, cholesterol 0%) margarine (any oleomargarine), melted. (Note:  1 stick butter, salted, calories 810, cholesterol 243 mg.). 

Step 7:  2 1/2 cups flour.  Mix well.

Step 8:  Let it rise again, double the size, 45 minutes. 

Step 9:  Punch it down, yet again.

Step 10:  Transfer the mixture to a floured board, use a rolling pin 1/2 inch thick.  Use a biscuit cutter or water glass.  Sprinkle flour.

Step 11:  Place a dollop of jelly: strawberry, black raspberry or apple. Whatever. One spoonful is plenty.  Pinch edges over the filling and be sure it's sealed. Use tennis-ball paczki, please.

Step 12:  Let it rest for 20 minutes.

Step 13:  Use peanut oil or veggie oil, medium-high, (48 fl. oz., about 10 minutes), screaming hot.  It's a rolling boil when a piece of dough rises up and floats.  Use a big slotted spoon and be careful. Two or three minutes, (use your judgement), turn over. Use an absorbent paper towels.

Step 14:  Sprinkle a sugar or confection's sugar.

Step 15:  Yields 15-20 paczki.

Useless fact:  "Plant bud" or "pak";  it comes from a derivative of the Polish language, hence, paczki.