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Priceless: My Little Brother

December 2, 2015

My younger brother, Calvin, was born with severe food allergies. Seven to be exact. Dairy, eggs, all nuts, all seafood, soy, mango, and peanuts. He was especially allergic to dairy, nuts and seafood. In other words, he was anaphylactic to them, which basically means, if he eats them, he could stop breathing, and die.

When he was just a few months old, Calvin was being breastfeed, when he broke out in hives. His little body started heaving and coughing and struggling to breathe. I don't remember this day that well, but I know he was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with food allergies. I, being three years old at the time, didn't know what food allergies was. I just knew that my baby brother, who was the cutest thing I had ever layed eyes on, with his chubby little arms and legs, and his little mouth that blew spit bubbles and cooed when I tickled him, was very sick.

This change was hard on all of us. Gone was the yummy fig newtons that I worshiped for desert. My delicious Häagen Dazs chocolate ice cream vanished from the freezer. No more was my favorite breakfast: fried eggs. But as humans, we adapted. We got used to this lack of delicious foods. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches weren't really gone. When I went over to my friend Teagan's house, we would have it all the time. But at heart, these  delicacies were. My little brother could not grow up with me, going on spy missions at the dead of night, to sneak downstairs just to grab that last box of chocolate chip cookies, to claim for ourselves. He would not be able to stuff an extra Oreo into his mouth, when our mom and dad wasn't looking. And that, more than anything, made me heartbroken, even though I was just a kid.

Calvin grew older. He watched, miserable when my mom would bring donuts for me and my older sister, and nothing for him. (Like any five and a half year old kid, he craved sweets.) My mom watched, even more miserable, at my suffering brother. She wanted to do something really bad. And then the most miraculous thing happened. My mom went downstairs and looked through her pile of cookbooks. She scanned the shelves, then found the cookbook she wanted. Leafing through the pages, she stopped on one particular page, then went back upstairs, cookbook in hand.

The next thing I knew, the sweet, delicious smell of a hot treat wafted through the house, and eventually reached my bedroom, where I was playing with Calvin, and my sister Azalea. "Calvin! I have a surprise for you! Come down stairs!" My mom called. The three of us raced downstairs, the fast of us the three year old, because not many sweet smelling surprises had come his way. My mom, smiling, stepped aside. Behind the spot where she had last stood, sat 24 golden honey muffins that looked so amazing, that they almost seemed to be shining.

I think that day was the best day of my life. I know this sounds cheesy, and it probably is, but seeing my brother sink his teeth into those muffins, the first baked goods that he gad ever had, still makes me cry today. That day is forever ingrained in my memory, to be called upon when my brother was feeling bad about his limited food choices. But it was the transition into a new stage of life. A place where milk free blueberry muffins existed. A place where no butter was needed for chocolate chip cookies. A place, where my brother could eat cake, cupcakes, muffins, cookies, and many other treats. A world that my brother calls heaven. And that, to me, is priceless.

Today, Calvin has seen at least 6 hospital trips, from eating the wrong food, but he now has outgrown eggs, peanuts, soy, mango, and shellfish, but we are yet to see fish, dairy and nuts go away. My family and I all know that day will come, and it's all thanks to a batch of honey muffins.

Here is my beloved recipe from the baking book Muffins A to Z by Marie Simmons, tweaked by my mom:

Honey Muffins

Ingredients:  2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour, 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, seized tall 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup milk (here we used soy milk, because at the time when this muffin recipe was first made, Calvin had outgrown soy, and was able to eat it),  1/3 cup unsalted butter (here we substituted butter for a type of butter that has the protein that Calvin was allergic to that is called ghee), melted, 1 large egg (here we used a fake egg replacement).


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter 12 muffin cups are cope with nonstick spray. 
2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl; stir until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, melted butter and egg until smooth. Add to the dry ingredients all at once and fold just until evenly moistened. Do not overmix. 
3.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Take until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before removing from the pan.

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