Cook of the week Jeanne Enright and her daughter Grace with their peanut free cookies at there Glen Ellyn home.
Paul Michna | Staff Photographer
Jeanne Enright makes peanut-free cookies
Jeanne Enright became a cookie-baking machine about six years ago when she discovered that her daughter, Grace, now 8, has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts.
As many as three times a week Jeanne cranks out peanut-free treats for her daughter to share at school parties, field trips, birthdays and other special events.
Cross-contamination from peanuts is common in desserts, says Jeanne, so Grace is not allowed to eat home-baked goods, except her mom's, or packaged treats without a ingredient label to check.
"When we go to a party, she knows she can always have something off my platter," says Jeanne.
The lifelong Glen Ellyn resident and longtime member of the local historical society will be ramping up production again this summer when she bakes peanut-free chocolate chip cookies for the society's annual bake sales.
The sales piggyback on the Glen Ellyn Farmers Market in the Main Street parking lot (between Duane Street and Hillside Avenue). Look for an assortment of pies, cakes and cookies Friday, July 10, and on Aug. 7 and Aug. 21.
Jeanne's signature cookies are made with whole wheat, a dab of mayonnaise and cream cheese for moistness, and organic chocolate chips or Hershey's brand, which are guaranteed peanut-free.
Bagged in bundles of three, Jeanne labels the packages "peanut-free" and includes a list of ingredients with a reassuring note: "baked by the mom of an allergic child."
"When you first get diagnosed, it is the end of the world," says Jeanne. "You walk in and your child can eat anything, and you walk out and anything can kill your child.
"But once you get the knack of it, it is totally manageable."
Rules are important, so Jeanne and her husband, Bill, established these: If it doesn't have a label, don't eat it. At a restaurant, ask the manager, not a server, whether peanut products are used in the kitchen. Never eat samples; never trade food, even if your friends beg for mom's all-butter, made-from scratch cookies.
For her family, Jeanne also bakes dozens of Butterscotch Cookies, a family favorite from her grandmother in Ohio, and spicy Molasses Cookies, a holiday standard at her house.
Sometimes she gets help from 5-year-old Joe, "a 100 percent rough-and-tumble boy, but he loves to bake cookies."
These are homey and old-fashioned, the same qualities Jeanne appreciates about life in Glen Ellyn, where her family lives in a 103-year-old former farmhouse.
Says Jeanne, vice president of the historical society for six years, "Our (town's) history sets us apart; if not for our history we would be like any town."