When people ask me why I started Among Friends, I have a couple of ways I answer. My one-word answer: is “Shane.” He is my second son, the middle man, whose emotions can run in extremes. (Suzie has her own one-name story: her daughter Olivia.)

The longer version of the Among Friends story is that of all the parenting articles I read, only a few nuggets stayed with me. (After all, parenting is a learning on the job kind of thing, not something that can be gleaned from a book.) One such piece of gold: An article’s suggestion that one of the nicest things you could do for your children is to make them healthy treats. You control what goes in them. No unpronounceable chemical concoctions with a laundry list of ingredients you can measure in inches.

But back to Shane, my inspiration, my kitchen muse with his impish grin and tyrannical tastebuds. Shane was deeply suspicious of anything that didn’t come out of a box. The more processed the better. Once in desperation, I decided to call red pears “apple pears” because Shane ate apples and refused pears. The ruse worked and we all held up the mythology for years.

I have a recipe file on my computer called Shane- tested. And nothing gets out of the Among Friends oven without his approval. (OK, so he picks out the raisins in Evan’s Heavenly.) My picky eater has proven to be an invaluable aid in recipe development. If a cookie or snack passes his muster, it is good to go.

My once challenging toddler is now the most charming of teenagers. And as he likes to remind me: “an easy one. ” Today I am making Valentines, heart cookies made from the “Shane sweet and spicy mix.” And when I wrap his cookie, I will pause and remember what Shane used to say to me when I tucked him in for the night: ”Mom, wherever you go, my heart is attached.”

Supertaster Shane

Supertaster Shane

Making faces in honor of Shane's 6th birthday

Making faces in honor of Shane’s 6th birthday