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A Humble Offering

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As we all know, another holiday season is upon us, which means an assortment of activities, invitations, and celebrations involving food.

I am not shy about admitting  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food all my life. Growing up with food allergies was no picnic (sorry, couldn’t resist). Finding out in midlife that I could no longer eat wheat, rye, or barley was both a relief and an inconvenience.  How was I going to eat out? What was I going to do if I was invited to someone’s home for dinner? And on and on.

Oh, I messed up a few times, wound up as a guest in someone’s home looking at a table full of dishes that were forbidden to me, but, gradually, I learned how to survive. Which leads to the following….

If you are on a restricted diet, and are invited to someone’s home for a large sit-down or buffet dinner (buffets are definitely easiest to navigate), please let your hosts know about your restrictions as soon as you receive the invitation and ask if they’ve planned the menu. If they have not, ask if you can contribute one of your favorite dishes to the meal. If they have, offer to bring one or more of the dishes your host wants to serve made to serve your needs (I always offer to bring gluten free baked goods, since they are my specialty). So far, I have not encountered a host or hostess who has balked at help, particularly with a big guest list. If they do balk, even after you’ve explained there are things you can’t eat, ask if they would be terribly insulted if you brought something for yourself. If that idea upsets them, and you still really want to go, then eat beforehand, stuff a protein bar or some other filling snack into your purse or pocket for discreet nibbling between courses, and eat whatever looks safest. (Tip: if your host is preparing a salad, and you’re concerned about the dressing, you can always ask if they would set aside a portion of it for you before they dress and serve it. Most cooks don’t dress their salads until right before they bring it to the table, to avoid wilting, so this is usually a safe request, and will avoid the embarrassment of having to explain why your plate is empty.)

I say all this as one who has done all of the above. I do not expect hosts to cook special dishes for me. I do hope they will allow me to bring complementary dishes I can eat and share, but if they don’t, I come prepared in other ways.

Everyone is stressed during the holidays, and the fact that everyone’s expectations for a greeting-card-perfect holiday season are high just magnifies that stress. If you’re like me, and have special dietary needs, please remember that your hosts are as stressed as you. Being honest and offering them help will go a long way toward alleviating that stress for all of you.

Just a little advice, for what it’s worth.

Have a joyous and blessed holiday season, dear friends.


©2018 All Rights Reserved

Posted in Uncategorized

Resistance Bread


I created this tea bread so that it would be food for strength and comfort—loaded with antioxidants, yet sufficiently sweet. Indeed, my husband says he can’t think of this as bread, as it seems more like dessert to him. I, on the other other hand, eat it for breakfast. The recipe is open to improvisation. If you try it, and experiment with your own additions/changes, please share!

Preheat oven to 350º

Liberally grease an 8″ x 4″ bread pan with cultured butter.


1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons grape seed oil or melted cultured butter
2 beaten eggs
1 grated apple
1/3-1/2 cup orange juice (pulp or no pulp, it doesn’t make a difference, just start with the smaller amount and add more if necessary)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries (I mix the two when I have both on hand)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts.

To this mixture add:

1 cup minus two tablespoons any 1-to-1 gluten free flour mix
2 tablespoons coconut flour
(optional) 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Blend well into liquid mixture. The batter should have substance, but not be stiff.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for @50 minutes. Test with toothpick to see if it’s done. Cool in pan on rack, then slice when still slightly warm and slather with chevre or your favorite nut butter.

Ready to #Resist?

(Many thanks to Michael Seidel and Nancy Smith for sharing this on their blogs!)

©2017 All Rights Reserved

Posted in Uncategorized

Artistic Vision

(From Beyond Willow Bend, November 20, 2012)

man in tunnel
Photo by Jan Kroon on

In Shadows and Ghosts, the main character, a filmmaker, is suspected of being mentally ill when she suffers a near fatal heart attack as the result of trying to survive on the same meager rations as the homeless subjects of a documentary she has been making. She doesn’t see her willingness to risk her life for her work as worrisome; she thinks only that she is artistically fearless, and points to her creative output as proof of her stability.  She is brilliant, but she is also teetering on a thin and fragile line….

This line, which exists for a number of artists, is well documented. But, how we recognize it, how we define and interpret it, and how we treat those who struggle to stay balanced, is less clear-cut.

In his short film, “Crazy Talk: What is Mental Illness?” the late filmmaker, Gabriel T. Mitchell approached the question with the visual clarity and artistic vocabulary of one who experienced both sides of that line.

Created in response to a call for short films by “Murdered: De-framing the Frame,” Crazy Talk presents a multifaceted and multi-layered view of mental illness through commentary from mental health professionals and sufferers,  juxtaposed with media images and sound clips.  While these clips illustrate how news sources and various forms of entertainment shape our perceptions of mental illness, they also serve as a pictorial history of how the medical profession has defined and treated mental illness, and the way anomalous behavior of any kind has been misunderstood.  What emerges from this history is an image of a profession that is still groping, discovering, experimenting, and still making mistakes.

There are many powerful and haunting moments in Crazy Talk, but, of these, the most unforgettable one comes at the end, when tiny, distorted human forms, reflected in a Chicago sculpture’s smooth silver surface, become a disorienting swirl culminating in sudden blackness. This is Mitchell’s unique vision—a view of what mental illness looks like, how it sounds, and, especially, tragically, how it feels.

Watch it here.

Gabriel Mitchell (1973 – 2012), was a graduate of Kenwood High School and attended NYU. In 1994 he returned to Chicago, took courses on screenwriting and worked in film production. For several years he regularly attended film classes taught by film critic Michael Wilmington at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. He began film studies at Columbia College in the fall of 2011, concentrating in documentary film. He has written a graphic novel, three screenplays and numerous songs and poems; he also made abstract drawings and geometric sculptures. Philosomentary, his feature length film, has been shown in several film classes; one of his short films, Crazy Talk, has been the subject of discussion in representations of mental illness. This and his other short films may be viewed on his website,

Additional Reading: “An Artist’s Struggle”