{hello} I’m Jillian

Editor’s Note: You’ve met Erika T, Britin F, and now its time to meet Jillian E, blogger of Everday Life, For Four Seasons. Jillian introduced herself via email one day, after reading the blog.  She shared a connection we shared: severely food allergic kiddos. What I didn’t know at the time, is that I’d been getting my Kilpatrick Family Farm CSA share from her smiling face and super-friendly demeanor for months as she is a regular market worker for the farm. The following market Saturday I ran up to her to demand a hug as we shared an instant bond. Now Jillian & I, and our partner-in-crime, Km F, run a food allergic support group, Strict Avoidance, in the Saratoga Springs area. We also work together at the Saturday market and are general all-around-friends. She has a wealth of information all things food and DIY-Kitchen/Garden/Home; a true treasure and inspirational writer and mother. Welcome Jillian! -Christina

Hi there, my name is Jillian. I’m so pleased and honored to be a guest blogger on From Scratch Club. I have a blog of my own and I focus a lot on food – sharing recipes and writing about the emotional role of food in my life. Thank you for joining me here.

I’m a mom of two homeschooled girls, who are 4 and 6 years old, one of whom is severely allergic to dairy, eggs, corn, sesame, honeydew melon, green pea protein and peanuts; a local food lover; wife to a guy who fits me better than any other; mama to [only] one cat (my old lady cat just died, sniff sniff); farmer’s market “worker” (I use the quotes because all I do is talk, talk, talk to everyone who comes my way while I’m at the market, and I don’t consider that work); and steward of Mother Nature.

I’ve been blogging on my own for a few years now. I started my blog as part of a challenge to post a photo a day to learn how to take better photographs. Three and a half years later, I still don’t know how to use my camera (it’s a Canon Rebel XT), but I do think I’ve become a better photographer. I’m not great, and I aspire to do better.

From Scratch Club is all about food, and food is certainly something I love and embrace. It’s a big deal in my life, but it wasn’t always that way. Before I had children, I ate whatever was available. Eww, I can’t even bear to think about what I used to eat. “Whatever was on sale” sums it up well. I never considered reading the ingredient label, I didn’t know what vitamins were, and I certainly never gave any thought to where the food came from. Near or far away? Factory farm or small farm? Organic or conventional?

To be perfectly honest, I probably wouldn’t have changed my ways at all if my first child hadn’t been diagnosed with food allergies at birth. As soon as I heard the phrase, “dairy allergy,” I spun into action. I was nursing her and I couldn’t consume any dairy. I never cared much for meat, so I invested in several vegan cookbooks and started cooking. When I read through those cookbooks, I was introduced to all kinds of vocabulary words that were new to me. I learned about things like cold-pressed oil, genetically modified seeds, yoga, vitality, farmer’s markets, local eating, and simplicity. That led to a few Northwest Earth Institute discussion courses, a CSA sign-up for the summer, lots of experimentation in the kitchen, and eventually, a lifetime of change.

Today I eat locally year round, something that’s possible because I live close to farmers who care to grow vegetables, eggs and milk throughout the whole year. I make most of my food from scratch, and the processed food I do purchase is thoroughly scrutinized for things like corn syrup and food dyes. I live like this partly because it’s a wonderful way to live; but I also do it for my daughter. Raising a child who has life-threatening food allergies is stressful, to say the least. Every day could be The Day that she ingests an allergen accidentally and winds up at the hospital (it’s happened before, and it’s not pretty). I live on the edge of my seat not only in public, at restaurants and in social situations; but also at home. I used to keep a completely vegan, nut-free house, but in the past year I’ve allowed some dairy, eggs, nuts and seafood back in the house. I’m hyper-vigilant and I keep everything clean and separate. My kitchen is a highly controlled environment.

And yet, despite the stress, I still take tremendous pleasure in cooking. It’s my place to dig deep into my creative side; to explore new flavors and textures; and to practice being a scientist, observing the reactions of food molecules as they change shape. My kitchen is the center of my home, and food shares a place at the center of my life.

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to sharing this space with you again soon.

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