The Most Awesome Allergen Free Pizza!!

Decided to do some playing around in the kitchen this weekend and try to make a better allergen free pizza. Nathan is allergic to gluten, dairy, nuts, eggs, soy, rice, tomatoes and MORE so making pizza is tricky to say the least. I had the pizza crust down. This one is one I’ve used before and I LOVE it. It’s thin and crispy, but also very sturdy so it holds up to toppings very well. Best of all, NO EGGS or NUTS! When I make it, I substitute Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free flour blend for the coconut flour because, OH YES, Nathan can’t have coconut either (but he’s fine with coconut oil). I’m sure you can use whatever flour you like and tolerate best. The flour is really just to keep the yucca dough from being so sticky.

For the cheese, I decided to play around with my friend’s recipe for Cauliflower Alfredo sauce. Turns out, all I had to do was add some tapioca starch and a little more oil than her recipe called for and cook it down a little! Grating the cheese was also tricky, but freezing it worked wonderfully. More on that later.

For the sauce, I decided to see what I could create from some leftover canned pumpkin we had in the fridge and I can’t believe how well it turned out! We’ve tried a “no-mato” sauce with a beet/carrot base before and I couldn’t eat it no matter how much I doctored the sauce up. Pumpkin worked great! I really can’t even tell that it’s not tomato sauce as weird as that sounds.

So without further ado, here is the final creation!


Picture isn’t the best because I’m not a food blogger! Sure tasted good though! I put minced ham and olives on the pizza and then covered with the cauliflower cheese.


Look how I can totally hold it up like this and the cheese keeps all the toppings in place!

Would you like the recipes now?

Cauliflower Mozarella


  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head of cauliflower, florets cut off
  • 1 cup homemade chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon fine Himalayan salt, or more to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. tapioca starch


Saute the minced garlic in the coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to cook for a few minutes, until the garlic is tender and fragrant, but not browned. Add the 1 cup of broth to the saucepan, along with the cauliflower, and bring the water to a boil. (The water will not cover the cauliflower, and that’s okay.) Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot for 8-10 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork-tender and very soft.

Transfer the entire contents of the saucepan into a blender or food processor with remaining ingredients. Process until very smooth and creamy. Transfer back into the saucepan over medium heat and stir until mixture gets thick and gooey (like warm queso dip).

In order to be able to grate this, you’ll need to freeze it. I did this in a small shallow pyrex dish lined with parchment paper. Once completely frozen (I froze overnight), you will be able to grate it. This was my least favorite part of the project. I tried to do it with my food processor, but it turned it to cheese DUST. This really worked best by hand with a good ol’ fashioned cheese grater and some elbow grease. Once you have your cheese grated, transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet (cheese should be as close to single layer as possible) and put it BACK in the freezer. Once your grated cheese has frozen completely (this takes much less time than freezing the original block), you can transfer the crumbles to a ziplock baggie and store in the freezer for future use. When not frozen, the cheese is very sticky and gooey to handle, so you’ll want to put the frozen cheese crumbles right from the freezer onto your pizza in order to maintain the structural integrity of the crumbles. Otherwise, use just like regular cheese on your pizza. It will melt, brown slightly, and even hold all your pizza toppings together!


Pumpkin No-Mato Pizza Sauce


  • 1 can pumpkin
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. each dried basil, oregano, parsley, and ground fennel seed
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • ⅓ cup homemade chicken broth


Put 1 Tbsp olive oil in small saucepan with garlic spices. Sautee until garlic is tender and fragrant, but not browned. Add all remaining ingredients and whisk together.

To assemble the pizza, cover a prepared crust with Pumpkin No-Mato sauce, toppings and Cauliflower Mozarella. Bake at 425 for about 4 minutes and then broil for 2 minutes. Toppings should be warmed through and cheese will melt SLIGHTLY (though stay sort of FORMED) and maybe brown a little. Crust should brown a little but watch that it doesn’t burn. I loved this pizza and Nathan (picky three year old) ate EVERY BITE.

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And now, for something medical!

I always think that this blog just isn’t being used anymore and then every once in a great while, when I want to make a post out of the blue, I see that Jesse DOES actually post here. Which makes my posts even more out of place. So here is a random medical post/update on the kids in a sea of “nerd posts”.

I believe I’ve mentioned it before, but when Nathan was born, both Jesse and I felt VERY strongly that he was sent to us to be a help for his brother. You can imagine my confusion and anger, then, when Nathan regressed into autism, losing all words, eye contact, etc. It’s been a difficult road and I sometimes handle things better than others, but I’ve always wondered what that bit of inspiration was about since I couldn’t fathom how another special needs child (even more severely affected than Liam) could possibly help his brother.

For the past several years (even before Nathan regressed) I have been looking into “biomedical” treatments for autism. The basic premise is that there are underlying medical issues that cause or exacerbate the symptoms of autism. When these underlying medical issues are treated, symptoms can be reduced or even eliminated. This interests me, not because I think autism is some kind of plague that needs to be eradicated from the earth, but because I don’t want my children to suffer needlessly from a medical condition that goes overlooked because they have been labeled with the term “autism”.

Around the time that Nathan regressed, I read about a neurologist at Arkansas Children’s Hospital who specialized in children with autism, mitochondrial disorders, and a condition called Cerebral Folate Deficiency. I didn’t really know much about these at the time, but his wait list was over a year long and someone said that I should get my kids on the wait list even if I didn’t know that I would use the appointment. I could always cancel down the line if it wasn’t something I wanted to look into. That seemed reasonable to me and something told me there was something to this doctor’s research that could benefit my boys. It just didn’t seem right to me that a perfectly healthy child could shut down and get locked inside himself for no reason. So I put both boys on the wait list.

We waited over 20 months for our appointment, but last month (August) our appointment finally arrived. Jesse and I loaded up the kids and drove to Arkansas to see Dr. Frye. We had a battery of tests scheduled. I hoped and prayed that I was not putting our kids through unnecessary tests and that their recovery would be fast and as painless as possible. Last week we finally got the majority of our test results back. There were a lot of very interesting results and perhaps I’ll go into some of the others in detail another time, but the headliner here is that both of my boys have been diagnosed with Cerebral Folate Deficiency. Liam, in particular, was severely deficient. His doctor said that children are usually no longer able to speak or walk with levels as low as Liam’s. I am certain that Liam would have been headed for a major decline in health, regression, and possibly development of a serious seizure disorder had we not caught this now.

The good news is that treatment is relatively easy. Liam and Nathan will get a prescription covered by insurance and will have some dietary modifications (Nathan is already dairy free, but Liam will also have to go dairy free). It is possible that we will see some huge improvement in speech, attention, motor skills, socialization, and maybe even relief from some of Liam’s OCD symptoms. To be clear, I have no expectation that this treatment will “cure” them of autism. But there is actually a chance that they may gain many or all of the skills stolen by autism once their levels come up. And even if we don’t see major improvement, I am certain we are preventing a major decline for both boys later.

Looking back, I realize that Nathan HAS been a huge help to his brother. Without his regression into autism, I never would have searched for these answers and Liam may well have been headed for a very rough adolescence (and life) without treatment. We are feeling tremendously blessed to have been led to the right doctors and to have found these answers before facing severe medical declines in the children.

Here are some sciencey articles if you want to know more about CFD:

Posted in Autism, Health, Liam, Nathan | 2 Comments

Seer stones as a token

seer-stone-joseph-smith-ensign-liahona-october-2015_1512979_inlA lot has been written lately about the LDS Church revealing pictures of the seer stones used by Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. I thought I should add my two cents.

To anyone who has paid attention within (and without) the Church, that this happened is fairly old news. I knew about the seer stones going into my baptism. Its existence and use are not exactly secrets, even to the point that I’ve heard plenty of good-natured jokes referencing them. I can only conclude that a Church member unfamiliar with their existence and use probably hasn’t been paying very close attention to Church history.

Yes, I know. It probably sounds silly that a grown man put some rocks in a hat to translate a book he found etched on golden plates and buried in a hill in New York. It’s not the first story of someone using a token to discover that they truly do have the power within themselves. Dumbo and the magic feather. Emmet of The Lego Movie and the prophecy. There’s probably dozens of examples (beyond my citations of obvious pop culture) of someone being given an otherwise useless trinket that caused them to have the confidence they needed to do something they already had the power to.

So it is with Joseph Smith. He had the power from God to translate a long-lost book from a destroyed civilization, but he likely did not at that point have the sufficient faith to exercise that power. God made a way for him to do it in the meantime. I’m sure that if any of us were told by God to translate a book written in a language that nobody today knows, we’d probably have a few mental blocks too.

We like to think of prophets as mythical figures of perfection rather than somewhat ordinary people with some unremarkable failings who manage to do some pretty amazing things. (You may recall that Moses called himself “slow of speech“, though historians seem to not be able to agree on the meaning of that.) When they turn out to be regular people trying to do their best with failings not uncommon to the times and circumstances into which they are born, it can be disappointing for someone who has those unrealistic lofty expectations. It can be more difficult to expect that these people with failings can somehow do the work of God.

None of that makes it any less true.

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Our Adventures in Solar Power

The solar panels on our house mid-installation.

The solar panels on our house mid-installation.

Shortly after moving to Cedar City, it became fairly obvious that we’d need to do something about the power bill. The tiny rental townhouse we lived in for three months was constantly smacking us with $350+ bills and even our winter bills in the new house were over $200 each month. With no basement, swamp cooler, or large shade trees, it was painfully obvious that something had to be done to slash our power costs. Switching to LED light bulbs, upgrading the thermostat, and setting higher temperatures than we were used to seemed to barely make a dent.

As luck would have it, Southwest Applied Technical College (SWATC) was having a night about solar power back in February. They do training for solar installers and were able to explain who would or wouldn’t benefit from solar power, what kinds of systems exist, and what kind of costs you should anticipate. It was very informative and there were a few solar installers there to handle specific questions on what they do. When you run through it, solar makes a lot of sense. It’s also a very straightforward system to deal with.

(By the way, call Ron Snow at Progressive Power Solutions, 801-787-2626, and tell him I sent you. I get referral credits and they’ve been awesome to work with.)

The Dollars and Cents

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Eero makes big promises, but where’s the skepticism?

OrlyI’ve been through my share of really crappy routers and WiFi before finally settling into equipment that works properly. I can’t even imagine the frustration an average consumer must feel at having routers that don’t perform well, need constant rebooting, and have complicated update processes. It makes sense that a company like Eero would seek to solve some of the headaches associated with crappy routers, but I’m having a hard time seeing what advantages they offer. In fact, it’s looking like a classic case of overselling a product before it’s even ready.

The biggest red flags popping up to me are the “easy” bits. You can configure the routers with your phones, they handle mesh networking without any consumer knowledge, and automatically download updates. Right off the bat, using Bluetooth for configuration seems pretty sketchy. For any half-decent authentication to work, you have to be able to exert some level of access control. This is at odds with the “plug and play” sales pitch from the product.

Automatic updates are also problematic. Forced firmware means you don’t get to choose to not apply a buggy patch, and it also creates an attack vector for someone who can compromise the update process. It also implies that, unlike other products, third party firmware will be a non-starter, a great option for people with technical know-how once a router is no longer getting updates from the manufacturer. I’ve even used it with my in-laws to kick an old Linksys router into high gear (and triple the range).

Even the range claims don’t jive with me. Each device is supposed to cover about 1000 square feet. Funny, but my D-Link R7000 is currently covering a 2200 sf home, a 0.30 acre lot, and several empty lots away for the same price. A repeater may make for a stronger localized signal in specific applications, but it also crowds the airwaves with even more signals from more devices, something that actively reduces performance. Mesh network also tend to introduce additional latency, something that has plagued Sprint’s cell network for years.

The pricing also gives me pause. The first device is $200 and a three-pack is $500. That D-Link I mentioned runs around $200 while offering much more coverage and is pretty darn easy to use. And that three-pack? You could buy a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite and UniFi AC for $140 less and cover almost 17 times the area, 50K square feet. (In case your math is rusty, that’s something like 1.2 acres.) If the price were in line with the $100 crap they usually sell at Wal-mart, the story would be different, but this is almost Apple-like.

This is the problem I’m seeing: there’s a lot of brand being sold, but not a lot of value. For the cost of one of their devices, you can get a top-shelf consumer router that’s likely to be more secure, just as easy to use, and from a brand with history, not a no-name startup. For their three-pack, you could get the high-end Ubiquiti equipment, pay someone to professionally install and configure it, and still have money leftover to take the family out to dinner at Chili’s.

What’s really chapped my hide is that nobody in tech journalism is bothering to run through these scenarios and give it the healthy dose of skepticism it deserves. This is becoming an unfortunately common scenario these days, to print claims verbatim without running them through the fact checking wringer. It’s even worse when only those claims that butt up against a journalist’s existing biases. If you don’t have an immediate “BS” reaction to PR flacks, maybe journalism isn’t the job for you.

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Why blame your phone manufacturer when Google will do?

There’s been a bunch of buzz lately about a vulnerability in versions of Android prior to 4.4 (KitKat). Google has advised that it doesn’t plan to issue any fixes for these older versions. Unsurprisingly, this has invited a lot of clickbait-hungry tech “journalists” to start screaming that Google is to blame for leaving 60% of Android devices with a critical unpatched flaw. That kind of blame-shifting, however, is stupid, wrong, and grossly irresponsible.

First off, there’s a fix available for the issue. Any phone upgraded to 4.4 (KitKat) or 5.0 (Lollipop) is safe. Given that there are now two successive releases with the flaw patched, what sense would it make to retroactively go back and patch a much older version? Google has already pointed out that because Android is open source, anyone could submit a patch to the code to address it.

But they also point out something far more important. If a patch were accepted, the best Google can do is notify the phone manufacturers that it exists. Google can’t forcibly update the phone with the patch. They can’t make a manufacturer who decided to write off a specific model go back and release the update. Ultimately, Google has little power over this. Even if a patch for older versions of Android was released, why would you want that instead of an update to a newer version like KitKat or Lollipop?

While the Blame Google Express is barrelling down the tracks, it continues to let HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola, and many other manufacturers off the hook for releasing devices that they know won’t be updated for more than a year or two, tops. Google isn’t putting you at risk; manufacturers who figure that they’ve already got theirs are. If a journalist’s job is to inform and explain, they’re apparently taking the day off on this one.

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Are you an unwitting stalking accomplice?

Stalker CatAt least once a week, someone on Twitter or Facebook will share a picture describing a missing person (usually a child) with one or more phone numbers to call. Our immediate reaction is to share it far and wide to help locate someone else’s missing loved ones. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad guy out there who are all too happy to capitalize on that impulse to help them stalk non-custodial children, ex-spouses, and others who have chosen to break contact. Here’s what you need to look for before clicking Share.

More often than not, the pictures will not be shared by law enforcement agencies. That’s a hint that the report may not be legitimate. If the image was not retweeted or originally shared by a local police agency or media group (TV, newspaper, radio), odds are good that it’s not the real deal. You can also check active AMBER Alerts and official state missing persons reports to see if this individual is listed there.

Most of these images include phone numbers. Some quick Google searches will often tell you if the phone number belongs to law enforcement or a private party. Almost all of the time, they are numbers registered to wireless providers, usually pre-paid ones with a blanket of anonymity. This is a giant red flag that something’s up. You should only ever call law enforcement to report a missing person sighting and never a private party.

The stalkers know they can prey upon our impulses to help out. In fact, they depend on it. Let’s make sure we’re all being smart about what we share and not trusting whatever we see on the Internet.

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Is Tor Permanently Broken?

Tor-logo-2011-flat.svgFederal law enforcement seems to have decided that anonymizing networks are public enemy number one. They’ve racked up some impressive wins in taking down drug-trading market Silk Road, notorious child pornography site Lolita City, and now have managed to bring down Doxbin, a site famous for disclosing sensitive personal information. The world is a better place without those sites, but the ways in which the feds have gone about taking them down makes me think we’re paying too great a price for those wins. Is it possible that they have almost single-handedly destroyed the last great anonymizing tool of the Internet?

Tor was designed as a system of proxies to mask the true source of any request for data. It also encrypts all data in transit in order to prevent any eavesdropping along the way. The design depends on lots of different nodes owned by different parties in order to maintain that anonymity. If anyone gained control of a majority of the nodes, they would be in a position to de-anonymize every user. Even with a large number of nodes, it would still be possible to unmask targeted users with enough persistence.

Now ask yourself one question: who has the resources and determination to attempt to wrest control of enough network nodes to destroy its anonymizing potential?

As we can see above, that can accomplish some good things. Unfortunately, it also means that anyone who gets on the bad side of the US government without breaking any laws now can’t depend on the most important anonymizing tool available today. Evidence exists that this may already be the case, but the feds have kept very quiet about that capability. It’s also not inconceivable that another state actor may attempt to gain access to that de-anonymizing capability without having to build the infrastructure themselves. That puts reporters, whistleblowers, and human rights activists in sometimes mortal danger.

You have to ask yourself if catching the occasional drug runner, child porn collector, or hitman is worth putting millions of lives at risk in totalitarian countries. I hope you’ll agree with me that it is not, especially since those bad guys have been caught without putting the good guys at risk.

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Barefoot Children

Dirty SneakersToday was my morning to get Liam ready for school. He came in and woke us up before the alarm went off (which almost never happens) and was well before there was any hint of daylight. This left us with a lot of time this morning for him to actually eat his breakfast before we had to leave (which almost never happens), so I was scrambling to make a quick sandwich before we had to bolt to the bus stop. The new bus stop is a lot further than walking distance for a kindergartener (about a mile), so we drive him there.

So imagine my shock and surprise when we arrived at the bus stop and I open the car door to realize that I had entirely forgotten to put on his shoes. And, naturally, he hadn’t thought to say a word about it as I put on his coat and loaded him in the car. After briefly contemplating sending him to school with no shoes (parent of the year material, I know), I drove back home resigned to driving Liam to school.

Except when I got home, I couldn’t for the life of me find his shoes. I checked every room in the house, even in our bedroom. I woke up Shauna so she could help me search for them. Then I had the thought to check the backyard.

And yes, they were in the backyard. In the dirt. And filled with dirt. Apparently Liam had taken his shoes off in the one part of the yard that isn’t grass and used them as improvised shovels.

And yes, I took him to school in dirty shoes. Want to make something of it?

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Let’s have a chat about gaming

broken controllerSome of you gamers are really ruining it for the rest of us. You’ve threatened a game developer into fleeing her home for no discernable reason, you’ve overreacted to a clear breach of journalistic ethics with rape threats, and now you’ve caused a YouTube personality to cancel a talk at a university by threatening to shoot a whole bunch of unrelated people. Unfortunately, most of you don’t even realize that you’ve gone entirely off the rails with crazy, and you’re only enabling the worst elements of “the other side”.

Background on Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn

For those who are unaware of what’s going on, allow me to provide some background. Anita Sarkeesian is a feminist who runs a YouTube series on how women are portrayed in video games. She often makes good points, though she does have a tendency to occasionally overreach and elicit an eyeroll or two. This series has drawn out a bunch of self-described “social justice warriors” (or SJWs) who have made it their mission to prove beyond any shadow of a doubt that every single “gamer” (which is as ill-defined as you imagine it is) is exposed as a racist, misogynist, bigot, and all-around nogoodnik. Unsurprisingly, this hasn’t sat well with the vast majority of gamers (like me) who are none of these things, but you know as well as I do that political movements love their broad brushes over dealing in nuance.

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