Someone told me it’s all happening at the Zoo…

At the Zoo, lyrics by Paul Simon:
Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo
I do believe it, I do believe its true
Mmm-mmm-mm-mm, Mmm-mmm-mm,
Ohh ohh ohh, Mmm-Mmm-mmm
Its a light and tumbled journey from the east side to the park
Just to find a fancy ramble to the zoo
But you can take a crosstown bus if it’s raining or it’s cold
And the animals will love it if you do – If you do nowSomething tells me it’s all happening at the Zoo
I do believe it, I do believe it’s true

Our last full day in Portland was spent at the Oregon Zoo. Susan had been up and at work by 5:30 am. D’Arcy had woken in the night, thinking he’d slept until 7:30, but it turned out his watch had somehow been reset back to Atlantic Standard Time, and it was actually only 3:30am Portland time. He did go back to bed, but was up for the day shortly after 6:00. The rest of us “slept in” until close to 7am! A record! Phil was in charge of breakfast and looked after us well. We poked around home until Susan arrived from work around 10:30.
We went out into the neighbourhood and caught the bus to transfer to the the train to get to the Oregon Zoo. It was the coldest day we experienced in Oregon, around 3-4*C. We spent six hours exploring exhibits and looking at animals, who were very active. For the girls, the zoo was the highlight of their time in Portland! I noticed a geocache on the ground beside one exhibit and made the “mistake” of pointing it out to D’Arcy. By the end of our time there, he had found and logged in to three of them!
Waiting for the bus to the zoo. Disclaimer: this photo was staged by their father. They do not have access to that many electronics!

Waiting for the bus to the zoo.

Black Bear

Black Bear

Sea Lions

Sea Lions

Polar Bears

Polar Bears

"Petting" the leopard

“Petting” the leopard

Hippo

Hippo

Rhino

Rhino

Lion

Lion

We stopped close to suppertime to have a little coffee/hot cocoa warm-up break in the cafe. By this time, despite the extra warm clothes Susan had provided us with, we were very cold – especially our feet. We were staying in the park to see the “Zoo Lights” a display of over one million LED lights set up around the park. By the time we got back outside, some cloud cover had settled in and it actually felt warmer. The lights were amazing and our photos don’t do them justice.

Susan, Phil, D'Arcy and myself with the girls at the cafe.

Susan, Phil, D’Arcy and myself with the girls at the cafe. Olivia is at that stage where every pose for a photo is a little crazy.

Playing on the sculptures outside the lion exhibit.

Playing on the sculptures outside the lion exhibit.

Some of the lights as dusk fell. Susan has asked Phil for one of the lit-up crocodiles for their front lawn next year...

Some of the lights as dusk fell. Susan has asked Phil for one of the lit-up crocodiles for their front lawn next year…

Christmas lights everywhere!

Christmas lights everywhere!

Our children in front of an LED display that reminded us of home.

Our children in front of an LED display that reminded us of home.

A dragon for Emily W.

A dragon for Emily W.

A Christmas wreath arch

A Christmas wreath arch

By the time we left the zoo everyone was tired and hungry. We took the train back into downtown Portland and the girls decided they were still awake enough to go out to dinner one last time. We tried to get back in to Pastini’s, but the wait was 45 minutes and we didn’t think the girls would make it that long. Instead, we went to a pub/sports bar called Buffalo Wild Wings. There, we had my favourite beer of the trip so far – a Butte porter that I’ll have to ask Phil the exact name of. They had an allergy menu and we were able to order “safe” boneless wings & sauce for Olivia with veggies on the side. She tried a couple bites of her chicken and decided she didn’t want it – which I should have taken as a sign. She did, however, eat her veggies. She also asked for a glass of water.

We took the bus home and immediately got into our pyjamas. We were just about to settle in to chat before bed, when Olivia came to me and told me her back was itchy. I looked and her upper back was covered with hives. We sprang into high alert and I gave her a Reactine (which she has been taking preventatively on this trip and it was time for anyway). About twenty minutes later, Susan gave me some Benadryl to top her up and we had the epi-pens on standby. We marked the hives on her back with pen to track if they were spreading, and I monitored to see if she developed any other symptoms of anaphylaxis. She fell asleep in my lap and I took her to bed, putting her to sleep between us so that I would know if anything changed.

One of my favourite photos - Phil & Sarah, deep in conversation at the restaurant.

One of my favourite photos – Phil & Sarah, deep in conversation at the restaurant.

Hives all over Olivia's upper back after supper.

Hard to tell, but a photo of the hives all over Olivia’s upper back after supper.

Luckily she had a good night; we think the hives were from cross-contamination. We suspect that due to the sheer volume of food going out, that her chicken was fried in the fryer rather than baked; her egg allergy recognizes the protein in any form. We consider ourselves very lucky that her reaction did not go any further than it did, and also that we were with two nurses who helped to keep us calm!

Two new gluten-free breakfast recipes (Egg & dairy-free too!)

This morning around the breakfast table, we were dealing with gluten-free and egg-free diets, as well as no cheese for another guest. We tried two new recipes, both which were successful. Since I posted the photo on our Facebook page, I’ve had requests for the recipes, and also from the guests, so thought we’d post them here for easy access.

Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free banana muffins

Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free banana muffins

Gluten, egg, and dairy-free banana muffins

Mix the following together with beaters until smooth:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (we use canola)
  • 2 tsp. egg replacer mixed with 1/4 cup water OR 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine the following dry ingredients, then add to the wet mixture and stir until moist. Do not over-mix.

  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (We used Bob’s Redmill)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Line muffin tins with papers, divide batter between 12 muffin cups, and bake in 350*F oven for 20 – 22 minutes.

Egg, dairy, and gluten-free crepes

Egg, dairy, and gluten-free crepes

CREPES:

  • 3 Eggs worth of prepared egg replacer
  • 3/4cup rice milk
  • 3/4cup Water
  • 3 TBSP oil (we use canola)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (We used Bob’s Redmill)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 TBSP potato starch
  • 1/2t Salt

Combine together all ingredients in bowl and whisk until combined. Batter will appear deceivingly thin. Cook crepe in hot, oiled frying pan and top with desired filling. This morning we served our egg-free guests crepes filled with asparagus, tomato, basil, chives and boursin cheese; and our cheese-free guest, the same herbs & veggies in scrambled eggs. (Pictured above.)

As you can see from above, these recipes are also soy-free. However, the flour we used (Bob’s Redmill) is processed in a factory that uses soy and tree-nuts, so we consider these recipes both “unsafe” for our daughter.  If we used a different flour, they would be safe.

Please let us know how they turn out for you! We will definitely serve both of these recipes again!

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Traveling with Food Allergies

Did you know that Belgravia Bed & Breakfast is the only accommodation in Nova Scotia that advertises as “Peanut & Tree nut Free”?

This came about after our youngest daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies when she was just ten months old. Initially her list of allergies was long: peanuts,  tree nuts, eggs, soy, dairy, cinnamon, banana, avocado, kiwi, strawberries, celery, citrus, pineapple, blueberries, grapes, melon… The only fruits she could have were canned peaches, pears and applesauce. It was overwhelming at first and we had to learn a whole new way of cooking and baking. Luckily, our baking was mostly homemade due to the quality of breakfast we provide at our bed & breakfast anyway, so we just had to modify some recipes, not learn how to bake from scratch…

Traveling still makes us nervous, but we know she can’t live in a bubble either. We are fortunate that she has outgrown most of her allergies and is left with *only* peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and soy – all of which result in anaphylaxis and, as per her most recent blood work, appear to be life-long. At home, accommodating these allergies has become second nature. She can be around eggs as long as they don’t touch her and she doesn’t ingest them, so we use a separate spatula for cooking eggs for our guests than we do when flipping egg-free pancakes for her. She has her own separate washcloths so that we don’t accidentally wipe her hands or face with a cloth that has wiped up egg. (Learned that one the hard way!) We also ask our guests to refrain from bringing peanut or nut products into our home. (Learned that one the hard way too!)

Showing off her 16 pokes after her allergy tests – 14 skin pricks, blood work and her MMR immunization (grown on egg, so her allergist administers that one and watches her afterwards for reaction)..

When we travel, we tend to take a lot of our own food with us, so that we know there will be something safe for her to eat. We tend to dine at restaurants where we know they take allergies seriously. Did you know that Boston Pizza and The Keg keep allergy binders with all ingredients for the recipes included? Each will wipe down all surfaces and change all cutting boards & utensils when they know they are preparing a meal for a guest with allergies? For our daughter’s particular mix of allergens, McDonald’s french fries and a burger without the bun are “safe”! Regardless, she does not leave our house without carrying her two epipens – just in case! All six of us are trained to use it in an emergency.

Here at the Belgravia, we “get” food allergies and do our best to accommodate any type we can, with notice. We’ll make room in our fridge and freezer for your own special food/ice packs. We will also tailor the  breakfast we serve to accommodate your needs.  One dietary restriction that affects more and more people is the need to be gluten-free and we can accommodate that too!

One of our favourite gluten-free recipes is for Buttermilk Apple Cake, passed along to us by former guests, the owners of Valley Flax Flour.

  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 cups Buttermilk (we’ve also soured rice milk successfully)
  • 1 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 cup Flax Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 medium Apples, cored & chopped
  1. Lightly grease and flour (gluten-free, of course!) a 2L baking or Bundt pan
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and buttermilk.
  3. Combine rice flour, flax flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add apples to wet ingredients; mix until combined.
  4. Spread batter evenly in the pan.
  5. Bake in an oven preheated to 350*F for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in the pan before removing and cutting into 12 servings.

Traveling is stressful enough, without worrying that you are going to end up sick or having to spend time hospital – or heaven forbid – worse, because of something you ate. Here, we will do our best to keep you safe!

If only it would be this easy when she becomes a teenager…

Peanut Free

We had a call from the Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage yesterday after we submitted our Doers & Dreamers listing for 2010.  The woman who edits the listings wanted to congratulate us for being the very first property in Nova Scotia to put “Peanut Free” in our ad!

We are happy to be able to accommodate a wide variety of dietary restrictions here and understand the importance of avoiding cross-contamination with allergens. We’re also pleased to be able to provide a certain level of peace-of-mind to those traveling with severe allergies!