When I answered the phone, the doctor sounded grim.
"Well...hello," he said. Then, he let out a deep sigh. At that point, I knew.
A week before he called, I had taken my son in for another blood test to see if maybe - hopefully - my son's allergy to eggs was beginning to wane. This was his third blood test, and my son (then seven years old) bragged to the phlebotomist about how he had cried the first time but hardly at all the second time and this was his third time and it might pinch a little but he probably wouldn't cry at all. Then he watched her every move.
He was very brave.
And, it was all for naught.
His numbers were still high, the doctor told me -- those mysterious numbers that to me as a parent mean little but to our doctor meant his growing out of this allergy was not likely.
I told my son about the news, and he fell quiet for a moment. Then he went back to his business of riding his big wheel up and down the block. He moved on, as kids are known to do, but I didn't.
I wanted to keep talking, shed some tears together, curse the egg.
Now, at almost ten years old, he's still highly allergic, to eggs and nuts. While the nuts prove to be more life-threatening, the egg allergy is just as hazardous, because it's more difficult to circumvent and more frustrating to explain. Especially during a call to RSVP for a birthday party or a playdate.
"So...he can't have butter?" the party host asks.
"No, no. I mean, yes. Butter is fine. That's dairy. He can't have eggs," I say.
"So...no eggs. But cake is good, right?"
"No. I mean, sure, it's good. But not for him. There are eggs in the cake. Unless it's a cake baked without eggs."
"...Right. Is there such a thing? A cake without eggs?"
"Well, sure," I say, and I go off into a diatribe about egg substitutes and my own failed experiments and Depression Cake, which is - by design - absent of eggs but barely big enough to feed a horde of sugar-hungry boys, and I might mention Vegan cakes, which are again really small, but by this time the other end of the line has gone quiet and all I hear is my own manic voice, so I go back to, "Generally, cake is out."
I fall back to the old standard. "You know what. I'll pack some cupcakes for him. It's no problem. I'll pack two, in fact, so that he's sure to get his sugar fix even without the birthday cake." We laugh, both of us relieved. Then, I hang up the phone, and I curse the egg.
Most days, I'd like to forget about the eggs.
So, that is exactly what I propose right now.
Forget the eggs.
Instead of offering you a recipe with some fancy concoction of a substitute (and know what I typically use is a concoction, all white and chalky -- mmm, yes?), I give you a recipe absent of egg, completely "friendly" for all those who must do without.
It's also kid approved, which pleases this mama even more.
1 jar spaghetti sauce (if you make your own sauce, you're my hero)
1 box lasagna noodles
1 medium container of plain Greek yogurt
1 medium container ricotta cheese
Shredded mozzerella cheese
(other cheese depending on your taste - parmesan, provolone)
1 cup of water
Mix yogurt and ricotta. Add a teaspoon of oregano or other herbs.
Starting with uncooked noodles, layer each section - noodles, sauce, yogurt mix, cheese. You can do two or three layers, depending on the size of your baking pan. End with cheese.
Add water to corners of lasagna, about 1/4 cup in each corner. You'll think it's not enough liquid to bake the noodles, but it works.
Bake covered for 1 hour at 350 F. Remove cover and bake for another 15-20 minutes until cheese is browned. Take out of the oven and let stand for 20 minutes. Without going into the chemistry of baking (because, what do I know about chemistry anyway?), this dish holds together well. Even without the you-know-what.
(Thanks to my sister-in-law for passing on such a yummy recipe.)
Your turn. What ingredient would you like to forget?