Book Review: My Deer Friends

My Deer FriendsSpoiler alert: I wrote the forward to My Deer Friends

My Deer Friends resonates with me in profound and personal ways. Although Piper, the spunky protagonist is diminutive in size, her stature is vast. Her sharing nature and positive vibe resonates throughout the book as the reader shares in her journey of self-realization and discovery. Nineteen years ago I also embarked upon a journey of self-realization, and like Piper I found that my greatest discoveries were the simple things that fill life with purpose and resonate with joy.


Much like the playful puppy Piper, I have found that an inquisitive mind is the key to personal growth and both of us want others to understand and benefit from our expanded horizons.  In the years that immediately followed the death of my only daughter Polly, my own survival depended upon learning as much as possible about the new world in which I had been thrust and then sharing that knowledge in hopes of protecting other young children.


Instead of documenting my expanded horizons within the pages of literature, I chose to advocate through the non-profit KlaasKids Foundation. Successfully conveying new found knowledge is dependent upon an ability to communicate, and viable communication requires the ability to express a fresh perspective. I like to think that KlaasKids fresh perspective on child safety found meaning out of Polly’s death and helped to strengthen our families, secure better laws, and create a safer society.


While Polly’s years were few, her stature diminutive and her experience was limited, her legacy is as vast as her courage. She inspired us to be bigger, better and more than we otherwise would have been. Through the work of the KlaasKids Foundation her final act has reverberated from the family kitchen table to the president’s cabinet table.


Like Piper, Polly was a happy, inquisitive, and determined little girl who was opening up to the possibilities that life had in store for her. Although she had big dreams she was relatively untested in life until she faced her worst fears with uncommon valor. As she was being stolen in the night she faced her devil and said, “Please don’t hurt my mother and sister.”


Polly was never seen alive again. Now she exists in memory, in legacy, occasionally in dreams and always in the realm of angels. If you don’t believe me just ask Piper, a kindred spirit who is graced by the spirit of angels in the wonder of her everyday life.

Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchen

Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchenis a cookbook written by my friend Judy Witts Francini. Judy and I worked together at San Francisco’s Stanford Court Hotel in the mid 1980’s. When I moved to San Francisco during a difficult time in my life, I spent an awful lot of time at Judy and Cathy’s apartment, listening to punk rock, sipping Stoli and tasting Judy’s budding culinary creations. Judy began her culinary career as a pastry chef in California, but in 1984 declared that she was going to move to Italy to pursue her culinary aspirations and “find a real man”.
Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchen is the culmination of more than two decades of total immersion into the cultural and gastronomical sensibility of Tuscany. This beautiful book contains nearly 100 of Judy’s favorite recipes which she also teaches at her culinary program Divina Cucina which is based in Florence. From Antipasti (appetizer) to Dolci (dessert), recipes are logically organized and each is paired with a note page so that you can apply and notate modifications to your own taste. Given that Violet and I are addicted to the Primo Piatto(first course) I return time again to Judy’s exquisite Naked Ravioli and outrageous Risotto.
Delight your friends and family with the fresh, creative, and beautiful dishes in Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchen. Autographed copies of this fabulous cookbook, which I highly recommend, are available through Judy’s Divina Cucina website. If you are looking for last minute Christmas gifts that will wow and impress the recipients you cannot go wrong with Secrets from my Tuscan Kitchen!!!

Oh, and Judy had no trouble finding that “real” man she was seeking in 1984. She has been happily married to Andrea Francini for many years now.