WGN Radio, Chicago: ‘The Sunday Papers’ with Rick Kogan

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August 29, 2010: 720 WGN Radio, Chicago: Interview on The Sunday Papers with Rick Kogan.

MP3 file: 20100829-wgn-rick-kogan.mp3

Peanut Free Baseball at Wrigley Field gets lots of press today BUT…..

It also got a ridiculous amount of crazy, vicious, insulting and disgusting comments from Chicago Sun Times readers. John and I were interviewed yesterday for a nice little piece about the Chicago Cubs hosting a peanut free sky box for the first time Monday August 3oth. A fellow food allergy mama started a face book site solely for the purpose to raise awareness and help get the Cubs to allow a peanut free section for one game. It was a great story that had “legs” as we say in journalism school…it ran on all the local morning t.v. shows, news radio and I think even USA Today picked it up. Read the story and reader comments (beware) here: Allergic Fans Cheer

At first I was happy, because first and foremost it gets people talking about food allergies, and it praises the Cubs for listening to their fans and giving peanut allergic fans an opportunity to attend a game just like everyone else, but in a more safe environment. For one night. On a Monday night. Against the Pirates. In a Sky box no one was using anyway. But then came the backlash. Remember the comments posted after Joel Stein’s infamous column about food allergies? Yep, those same people must have been posting today too. So rather, than getting all pissed off about it, I figure I would highlight some of the more “interesting” comments people said about me and my son (my rebuttals are in italics):

  1. I am sorry and no disrespect toward this child and his family, but this story proves the once mighty America has fallen. What is next, no ice cream day for people who are lactose intolerant? Why yes, that would be the logical next step. Just kidding. And yes, you did mean disrespect.
  2. This seems like a great family and I do not mean to be an a-hole, (but you are an a-hole) but I am sick and tired of all this PC krap (SIC) we have in the world today. Really, how PC of you to post this intelligent comment.
  3. The wussification (SIC) of America continues..I know, posting anonymously is so not wussy.
  4. That’s right lady, smother the boy until you turn him into a girl. Perhaps I should ask YOUR mother for child-rearing advice?
  5. It’s our birthday present to him,” said Kelly Rudnicki, a blogger and author on food allergies who has written two books, including The Food Allergy Mama’s Baking Book. I that says it all.
    This kid will be dancing on one of the floats in that parade they have on Halsted in a couple of years. Wow, he actually took the time to requote me. An A for effort, and just to clarify, is there something “tricky” in that title that “says it all?”. For the record, I’ve danced on those floats for many, many years and would stand proud on Halsted any day.
  6. EXTRA CREDIT FOR BEING THE MOST, WELL, DISTURBING:I ‘d like a section where I only sit with MILFs. Now, THAT is a title that says it all. Nice one Larry Horse (yes, that was his pen name)

This is just a sampling folks, but I thought I’d save you the trouble of getting ill and just give you some of the better Springer Zingers of the bunch. Should we be sick to our stomachs and offended? Yes. Should we write letters defending our stance? Yes. Should we keep pressing on, educating and doing the best we can as parents who just want our kids to have little moments of normalcy here and there? Definitely. But should we care what any of these people say? NEVER.

And in the spirit of TV News, as Ron Burgundy would say, “Stay Classy”….that means you, Online Newspaper Readers.

That’s all, carry on.

A moment when a 7-year-old could feel like one….

I’m a die-hard music fan, and an even bigger fan of seeing bands live. So when the ultimate music fest Lollapalooza comes to Chicago every year, I’m the first in line to buy tickets. For the past two years, my husband and I bring our two older kids Chloe and John with us (kids under 10 are free). What many people don’t know is that Lollapalooza has an entire area and stage devoted to kids who rock…a style salon where kids can spike and color their hair, break-dancing lessons, drum jams, and the list goes on. What’s really cool are the musicians who come to play at Kidzpalooza; Perry Farrell, Slash, The Verve Pipe, Patti Smith, Chrissy Hynde. Chloe and John loved it all, and we loved sharing our passion for music with them.

But the coolest thing this year at Lollapalooza? Seeing my severely food allergic son walk up to a food vendor and order Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, served in a waffle cone. Seriously, it happened and we’re still talking about it. Temptation Ice Cream, made by local vegan company ChicagoSoyDairy served up these amazing treats at the newly revamped “food court” at Lollapalooza. Their treats are made in dedicated facilities. Believe me, I asked these guys about 15 questions about their product, how it was made, how it was possible. Most of us food allergy mama’s don’t believe a word these people say, but my instinct said it was OK and to trust.

John ate that yummy waffle cone, as did me, my husband and my other dessert-obsessed child Chloe. It was a life-changing moment for us all; finally a chance for John to eat an ice cream cone purchased outside his home with his family. Millions of kids do this very thing every day, but not ours. So when that moment came, and passed, I vowed to remember it forever. Every little kid should get to eat freely the treats of childhood. My son, like so many of your children, can’t. But moments like this remind me that anything is possible.

Finally, for the first time! A Peanut Free Section at a Chicago Cubs game!

For the first time ever, the Chicago Cubs are hosting a Peanut Free Section in the Batter’s Eye Skybox! This is huge, and a long time coming. Here are the details:

Date: Monday, August 30th 2010 vs. the Pirates

Time: 7:05 pm

Place: The Batter’s Eye Skybox (In center field, go to www.cubs.com for more information)

Price: $50.00 per ticket (There are a limited number of seats in the designated suite so call asap to reserve your tickets)

Contact: Samantha, Cubs Ambassador who is in charge of this event. Phone: 773-388-8273 or email: fanserviceassistant@cubs.com

I urge any Chicago-area families to PLEASE call Samantha and reserve your tickets this week. This is something that, if successful, they will try to implement on a more regular basis next season. But it’s up to us to make it a MUST ATTEND event for families who struggle with peanut allergies.

We have two tickets reserved and I am beyond excited to take John. His 8th birthday is the next day, and can’t imagine a more perfect birthday present for him.

Finally, a huge thank you to Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts, a fellow resident of my neighborhood and whose son played baseball with John last spring. He’s an incredibly nice and down-to-earth guy, and it was his idea to implement an Ambassador Program responsible for listening to fans’ needs, and wish lists. How cool is that? Thanks Tom, Samantha and to the Cubs organization for truly making a difference in our food allergic children’s lives.

Joel Stein and Karma…

OK, most of us who follow food allergy stuff in the news remember that vile, and I mean VILE, column in the LA Times a year ago in which writer Joel Stein blasted parents of kids with food allergies. He wrote “Your kid doesn’t have an allergy to nuts. Your kid has a parent who needs to feel special”. Like many other outraged and hurt parents of food allergic kids I felt compelled to respond to Mr. Stein’s outrageous comments. On January 13, 2009 I posted:

“When I was in journalism school I lived and breathed all things Edward R. Murrow. In case some of you don’t know who Murrow was, he was the pioneer in broadcast journalism who set the highest standard for other journalists. Two of my favorite Murrow quotes came to mind when reading Mr. Stein’s piece:

“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices – just recognize them.”

“To be persuasive we must be believable, to be believable we must be credible, to be credible we must be truthful”.

Truthful Mr. Stein was not. Instead, he was outrageous, uneducated and quite frankly an embarrassment to the code of ethics set forth by journalists. Check your facts, be truthful, put your own agenda aside and respect the power that has been granted to you. The freedom of the press is so important we protect it in the constitution, but when wannabe journalists like Mr. Stein abuse their platforms to write stupid articles it is an abuse to all journalists. Viewers and readers across the country are losing their trust in the media. We expect more. And as Newton Minnow once predicted that TV would become “a vast wasteland”, the print media is just as guilty.”

Fast forward to a column written by Mr. Stein in the August 9, 2010 edition of Time Magazine titled “Aw Nuts! I had an airtight, zero-tolerance stance on nut allergies. Then my son developed them”. Yes, you read that right, Joel Stein, the same person who ridiculed every food allergic parent in America just over a year ago recently discovered his 1-year-old son is allergic to nuts. He writes “Sitting up at 3 in the morning, I found myself totally believing in the nut-allergy epidemic.” Yes, Mr. Stein, many of us know precisely what that feels like, lying wide awake in the middle of the night thinking about all the ways our seemingly normal lives have changed in that moment our children got their diagnosis of a food allergy. It’s earth shattering and life changing.

I am not going to go down the road of “Karma’s a bitch” with this one. Having a child with a life threatening food allergy is something I would never wish on anyone, even my worst enemy. I honestly feel terrible for Mr. Stein and his wife. But the food allergic children are the innocent victims of this disease with no cure, and they are the ones who have to endure a lifetime of exclusion, anxiety and living with a special set of needs than other children. Of course, these food allergic children NEVER say “woe is me”. These kids are the real heroes, because they never complain about their food allergies.

Instead, I would love to see Mr. Stein use his journalistic platform to raise awareness about food allergies, about what it is like to send your child to preschool, birthday parties, field trips, camps, plane rides, the list goes on. It is in this moment that I think of Edward R. Murrow again, and how he took his platform as a journalist VERY seriously, and demanded everyone else around him do the same. And in the meantime, the rest of us will keep doing what we do, raise our children to be aware and raise money for a cure.

Dairy, Egg and Nut Free Farmer’s Market Cherry Cake

Mistakes happen, and in the case of my book (s), there was a typo for the Farmer’s Market Cherry Cake recipe. Honestly, I don’t know how it got by me AND my editor, but it did and wasn’t corrected for my Vegan Baking Classics Book. So, being a stickler for accuracy I want to re post the recipe with the correct instructions. I truly apologize for the error and hope it didn’t cause too much confusion!

The recipe’s directions in the third paragraph say to remove the cake from the oven after 10 minutes. Then it says bake for an additional 25 minutes. Say what? Here’s how it should read:

Bake cake for 30-35 minutes until light golden brown, and an inserted cake tester comes out clean.

I love this cake only in the summer, when the cherries are perfectly ripe. It’s a breeze to pull together,and your kids can help pit the cherries.  And please, do yourself a favor and invest in a cherry pitter if you don’t already have one. I love my OXO one, available at Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, etc.

Thanks for understanding, hope this helps and happy baking!!

DAIRY, EGG AND NUT FREE FARMER’S MARKET CHERRY CAKE

1 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/2 c. silken tofu

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. dairy free margarine, melted and cooled to room temperature

1/3 c. soy or rice milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 T. lemon juice

2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 pint fresh cherries, rinsed and pitted

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt with a wire whisk and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the tofu and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add the dairy free margarine, soy milk, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest, and mix well. Add the flour mixture, stirring with a spatula until just combined. Lightly fold in the cherries.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a 9-inch springform pan with dairy-free baking spray. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until light golden brown and an inserted cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar if desired or a dollop of your favorite soy ice cream.