Back from Chicago

15

Dear Readers:

I’m back from Chicago, where I had such a great time!  Below is the video from ABC 7 Chicago of me making my Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free Brownies.  Chicago is such a fantastic city, a foodie hub, and also a real hotbed for those making  a difference in the Food Allergy and Gluten-Free community.

First I did a demo of “Allergy Friendly” Brownies and Blondies on ABC 7 (where I shared the stage with a band called “Honor Society”, who I guess are a huge band… but I live  in Mommyville, so I’d never heard of them, even though they live like 2 miles away from me!)

Then, I rushed back to my hotel to  have lunch with Kelly Rudnicki, The Food Allergy Mama who was the nicest person in the world.  First of all, she and I have so much in common, it’s eerie… between our son’s food allergies, to our writing backgrounds, to our love of long distance running.  It was great to meet her, but it also brought about the first of what I guess I’d call my  ”vulnerability incidents”.  What do I mean by that? Well, usually, I’m very stoic about all that we’ve been through in my family with food allergies. I’m a cheerleader for “living well”, not “living without”.   But the reality is, my son Lennon has been through some very hard times, and still continues to have hard times periodically. So meeting such a nice, kind, food allergy mom took my guard down.  I realized, as I welled up with tears talking to Kelly about the fact that my son is showing signs of a new food allergy, there is a lot of emotion that goes along with this job.  So thanks to Kelly for being supportive and for doing such great work to help kids like ours!   Also, look for Kelly’s new revised Vegan “Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book” in stores near you soon.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of going on Mr. Fix-It, with Lou Manfredini, who squeezed in an interview with me between discussing toilets and roofiing. Love this man, he’s my new “Car Talk”.  Then went on to spend the weekend at the Gluten-Free Cooking Expo, where I met more great Food Allergy people.  (I’m telling you, Chicago is Food Allergy Central).  Jen Cafferty  of Gluten Free Life with Jen organized a hugely successful event with lots of great cooking demos, and amazing GF vendors at the Vendor Fair.  Jen is an inspirational ball of energy, and a name I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about around the country, as she spreads awareness about gluten-free life. She did a cooking demo from Elana’s Pantry,  and I did my Double Choco Chunk Cookies (featuring Enjoy Life).  I sold out of my books the first day (thank God, I was dreading lugging them back to Los Angeles!) so had a chance to walk around and see the other vendors.  Can I just wax poetic about Udi’s for one second? Without fail, the best gf bread on the market.   Hands down.

While selling The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook at the book table, I got a chance to hang with the Welcoming Kitchen ladies, two more great moms and cookbook authors. Megan Hart and Kim Lutz are the duo behind the Welcoming Kitchen blog and are about to publish their third cookbook, next spring — all GF, and Allergen-Free, so look for that one in 2011, it will be great!  We had a good time hawking our wares as the public poured in, and I had a great time talking to them about our shared experience in this field, and also as parents.  Again, talking to Kim, mother to a child with multiple food allergies, I welled up discussing my sons’ allergies, and started to feel both a bit embarrassed, but also a little surprised.  What, after all, was happening to me?  Is a food allergy something to shed tears over? Usually, I’d smile and say, “absolutely not!”, and “just think of all the wonderful alternatives you can still eat”… which is absolutely true. The food we eat is not what makes me feel sad. I love what we eat, and feel lucky.  But that doesn’t take away the fact that when you or your child has food allergies, it makes you feel vulnerable, and sometimes, very sick.  So I think what I got most out of my trip to Chicago, was a great sense of community and the realization that I need to fess up to my own sadness about this once in awhile.  I need to shed that tear, and then go back to laughing heartily over some really good allergy friendly cookies.  Speaking of which… has anyone tried the mini chocolate chip cookies from Pamela’s Products? (note:contain eggs and soy) To-die-for addictive.  Uber Uber Yum.

15 Responses

  1. Susan Jacobs Corria says:

    Cybele
    Thanks for the updates of your trip to Chicago. I always enjoy reading your take on things, always with such kindness,concern,and always a touch of humor!!!
    After reading the section about meeting, Kim Lutz and sharing your stories of what u both have been threw with your children , and the food allergies. My heart really broke for u, talking about Lennon,and all that he has gone threw ,and still is. The hardest part of being a mom,is trying to protect our children from pain,whether it be emotional or physical, and i bow to u for all you have done to make life better for Lennon,and the rest of your family!!
    Having 2 of my own boys i only wish I have done 1/2 of what u have done to make their lives better!!!
    Tale Care
    Susan

  2. Susan Jacobs Corria says:

    4.20.2010 18:25
    1 Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Cybele
    Thanks for the updates of your trip to Chicago. I always enjoy reading your take on things, always with such kindness,concern,and always a touch of humor!!!
    After reading the section about meeting, Kim Lutz and sharing your stories of what u both have been threw with your children , and the food allergies. My heart really broke for u, talking about Lennon,and all that he has gone threw ,and still is. The hardest part of being a mom,is trying to protect our children from pain,whether it be emotional or physical, and i bow to u for all you have done to make life better for Lennon,and the rest of your family!!
    Having 2 of my own boys i only wish I have done 1/2 of what u have done to make their lives better!!!
    Tale Care
    Susan

  3. Kim Lutz says:

    Cybele,
    Meeting you was definitely one of the highlights of a great weekend. I know exactly what you mean about letting your guard down when you’re talking to someone who “knows” what it’s like to have a child with food allergies. I take strength from the exmples set by all the moms (and dads) who don’t let this sometimes-super-scary situation get in their way of seeing all the good around. You are a great example of that!

    We wish you all the best (and can’t wait to start baking from your book),
    Kim Lutz

    • admin says:

      Hi Kim:

      Thanks for being so great to share the table with, and swap advice with, and putting up with my opinionated self!

      Kindest regards, and hope to see you again soon!

      cybele

  4. Juliet Harkness says:

    Greetings Cybele, I wanted to express my thanks-I recently took your first book out of the library, and was surprised to actually find another parent dealing with the extensive foods issues that we do. My three year old son has a severe peanut allergy, but because of senisitivites that I discovered through an elimination diet, also doesn’t consume dairy, wheat, soy, eggs,corn, strawberries, pineapple, and meat (we are vegetarian.) Although this initially felt daunting (and still can) I try each day to approach this very limiting diet as a challenge to rise above. It is emotional-these are our babies!! I am sitting next to your new book and cannot wait to make these recipes, one by one, because we have finally found safe, delicious, yummy treats he can eat. Many Thanks-Juliet

    • admin says:

      Dear Juliet:

      Yes, your list of foods to avoid sound like our household, particularly when my sons were toddlers. I believe your son will outgrow some of his sensitivities by the time he’s five or six. Fingers crossed for you! You have a great attitude. You sound like you have the same perspective as i, which is that it’s important to focus on what he CAN eat, not what he CAN’T. Please let me know if you have questions as you go through the books.

      All the best,

      Cybele

  5. Kristy G says:

    Dear Cybele,

    I had to pass on that we were so glad to meet you (and now to have your cookbook.) Our 3 year old Emma has been carrying it around the house periodically and professing love to your recipes. I have to keep claiming it back! While I try to remain in the “what they can eat” mindset with my kids, it’s hard to not think about the impact it has on their lives and have a moment. We were truly hitting a slump at the time of the GF Expo and needed a little light and change. I’m pretty hard on myself for what I’m not providing her, or for what she’s missing out on, but Emma wanted to share a message: You have recipes that can make stuff and I can make stuff. Your recipes are good to cook. You got recipes for us dear Cybele. Cake! Cake!

    Thank you for representing us well, for sharing good food not just “allergen free” and good enough food, and helping me empower my children!

    With gratitude,
    Kristy in Chicago

  6. Deanna Davidson says:

    A few months ago, with the baby in bed and my husband tucking in our food-allergic toddler, I sat on the couch to look at your Whole Foods cookbook for the first time. I was caught completely off-guard when I found myself sobbing half way through your introduction. Though I cry pretty readily at books and movies, this was the first time in the two years since diagnosis that I had cried about our food allergies. Never has a cookbook touched me so personally– but then, never before has food had such a dominant place in my thoughts and the way I spend the day. So thanks to you for writing that book and also the Baker’s Handbook– your cakes have been our family’s birthday cakes all this year and both are my new favorites on a shelf full of cookbooks from my past life. I’m sure you agree that sharing quality and tasty food is central to family life– through your recipes you’ve really touched this family. Thanks.

  7. Hi Cybele,
    First, I just wanted to say thank you for writing your cookbook. I have baked so many great things, and I love that my “baking shelf” is stocked with so many wholesome ingredients! We have many food allergies in my family, so everyone is thankful that I love to bake and that my mom hooked me up with your book! I wanted to mention that yesterday I baked the sunbutter cupcakes, and they turned green (like the cookies!), but I had not used maple syrup. The only new substitution I made was almond milk for rice milk. (I also add chocolate chips to the recipe-yum!-but they had not turned green before.) Just wanted to know if you had heard of any others who had the same experience? Thanks! Michelle

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