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.