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Election Cake

2020 November 3
by Rachel Turiel

I am self-soothing by making sauerkraut; by planting more kale than we have cold-frame space for; by looking at all meals as vehicles for pickled jalapeños and melted cheese; by baking cake for breakfast.

Election Cake! It’s healthy! It’s delicious! It’s a snack, a meal, a balm! Recipe follows.

My friend Rebecca’s kraut hands; also, turns out processing food with friends restores something human in me.

Today is Election Day in America and for the first time possibly ever, people that I know, respect and genuinely like are voting for the person I’m not. At times this feels like a great opportunity to understand people who are different than me. Other times it feels like a stumbling through a house of mirrors with tacks in my mouth, disorienting and painful.

Col came home from school yesterday reporting that it was not a good day. He sparred with a friend over politics. “We got into an argument,” he said. “So no one won.” This seems to sum up our country right now, or at least my Facebook feed. When everyone is talking, no one is there to listen.

I’ve noticed we have a lot of ways to explain why people think differently than us. We’ve become so polarized that our most generous guesses tend to be, “they’ve been brainwashed by their lie-spewing media.” Our less generous guesses are the verbal daggers cleaving apart friendships. 

A few weeks ago, my mom and I pondered what might lead someone to vote for Donald Trump in their words, with the most dignity and generosity we could muster. Honestly, it was a challenging exercise, the point of which is to remind myself that people whose decisions are bewildering to me have their own stories that are full of dignity and good will and hope and love. If my votes come from a vision for a better world, so must theirs. 

Charles Eisenstein says, “Part of the tactics of war is to characterize and dehumanize the other side. It’s almost an act of betrayal to really seek to understand them.” Wouldn’t it be revolutionary if the folks who condemn the Black Lives Matter movement were curious about what matters to the human hearts behind the protests? Maybe this is why something in me flares up when white, middle class people say “Can’t they ask for equality in a different way?” Wait, I want to say, have you listened to what matters to them?

And yet, when I see a clever meme excoriating certain politicians, a small, hard part of myself cheers. This is the place that wants to believe people can be slotted into evil or virtuous columns and if I just align myself with the right side, I will be safe and seen and belong. This narrative keeps me separate and polarized.

(Recently, I wrote off some behavior of Col’s I found annoying as “surly teenage boyhood.” A day later I got curious with him and he helped me see how what he did was out of care for someone else. It all made perfect sense when I opened myself to his experience. Righteousness fuels me like empty calories, whereas understanding nourishes connection).

I have a good friend who leans conservative. We have long, sometimes tense ideological conversations punctuated with light, personal sharing about kids and work. He and I are really fond of each other. Sometimes we check in with each other in heated moments. “Hey – are you triggered? Did that just make you mad?” I have come to realize we want the same things, namely, an equitable society and healthy planet, a world where we can share our gifts and receive the gifts of others. We just have wildly different strategies to get there. But we’ve influenced each other, listened to each other, and every time I talk to him my heart grows a little.

This weekend Rose and some girlfriends had a little verbal skirmish about politics, finding themselves on different sides of ideologies. Everyone said their piece and then they ate Halloween candy and went ice-skating. “It was a little annoying,” Rose reported, “but I love my friends.” 

In the spirit of expanding our hearts and minds, I am offering 4, free 30-minute sessions in which together we look at what may be motivating someone whose behavior seems bewildering with the most generosity we can muster. This could include anti-vaxxers, pro-maskers, your ex who feeds the kids donuts for dinner, the gun-toting “patriot” at the BLM march, your father-in-law who has cancelled your vote forever. First 4 people to email me at sanjuandrive(at)frontier(dot)net are signed up.

See y’all on the other side.

Love and cake,


In other orbits,

:: Col’s been cooking his own meals. In the microwave. Slay me.

:: Col and I got to help Dan pack out a buck deer past bedtime! Col carried a shoulder and both rib racks. Rose was invited too, but declined, “You know that’s not really my thing.”

:: The teenagers carved pumpkins!

“I just love that you two are still willing to carve pumpkins!”

“Mom, you’ve already said that twice.”

Col working on his Black Lives Matter pumpkin

:: Not squirrels, but elk ankle hocks. “For projects,” Dan says.

:: Family photo #1: Is this thing on?  Kids are not amused.

#2:One kid is still not amused.

:: Arlo turned one years old on Sunday. One of his presents from Rose was letting him lick her as much as he wanted for one day.

Every night we all pile on top of Arlo, the kids snuggling him like he’s both the family medicine man and the goofiest baby brother. It’s so funny because Col and Rose are about one centimeter away from each other, gushing love at the dog, and I just have to think some of it is spilling out onto each other.

ELECTION CAKE RECIPE -sweet, nutty, dense, fruity, spicy.


1 cup grated apple

1 cup grated carrot

1/2 cup applesauce or 1/4 cup yogurt

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup raisins

1/3 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter or oil

2 TBSP molasses

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour (if gluten free, almond flour is fab)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

to taste: salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix everything except flour together thoroughly, then fold in flour lightly. Bake at 350F for 35 – 45 mins depending on how unreliable your oven is, like ours!

15 Responses leave one →
  1. November 3, 2020

    I want to plagiarize you AND I love Col’s face. Always have.

    I’m thinking I’ll bake bread and make vats of soup today.

    That’s all. :)

  2. Ike permalink
    November 3, 2020

    Thanks Rachel for asking us to open our hearts and expand our consciousness. This is so needed right now.

  3. LucyQ permalink
    November 3, 2020

    Rachel, you’ve given me a lot to think about, as always. Thank you. I despair over the state of our nation that no matter who wins the presidency today, this week, this month or whenever the contest is decided, our country will remain deeply divided. I’m planning on baking brownies today because baked chocolate goods can make almost anyone feel better. My spouse, on the other hand, went out and bought a couple six packs of hard cider yesterday. We all have our methods of coping… :) Much love and virtual hugs.

    Ps I couldn’t parse that pic of you and Col packing the buck- I kept thinking that errant hoof was a deer who had snuck up behind you to give you “bunny ears” in the pic. Teehee.

  4. November 3, 2020

    Loved and shared this. Though it isn’t election day in Canada (though many of us are passionate about what’s going on south of the border) what you write here is poignant and applicable to almost any arena. Thank you!

  5. November 3, 2020

    Grateful for you and your ability to articulate this. xoxo

  6. Joanie permalink
    November 3, 2020

    I continue to be inspired by your levelheaded wisdom. You’re a true light in the murky waters we find our selves in these days. May we learn to be willing to listen to one another.
    Thank you.
    XO from the front range

  7. Anonymous permalink
    November 4, 2020

    Thank you as always for your thoughts and advice, as well as the photos of your gorgeous kids. I try, always, to see the “other side” as human, with their own hopes and dreams and, most especially, fears. I find most of my friends insist on demonization and while I find that tempting and in many ways satisfied, I don’t see how it gets us to the other side of all this acrimony and ugliness.

    We just drove to Oregon and back (we’re in Chicago) and of course the scenery was fabulous but there were so many Trump signs, flags, etc. Each one felt like a blow to me (and the very occasional Biden sign like a victory); I kept having to remind myself, these are people, they love their families, they’re worried about their future.

    I plan to make post-election cake today; thanks for the recipe. If I use almond flour can I use less oil?

  8. Jan permalink
    November 4, 2020

    Forgot to put my name on above comment!

    • November 4, 2020

      Jan – the butter/oil is calibrated for almond flour.

      • Jan permalink
        November 4, 2020

        Oh well. Always looking to trim the fat, as it were! GF + low carb always ends up with high fat, and although I understand there’s “good fat,” my waistline doesn’t seem to get that.
        Here’s to seeing you on the other side of this …whatever it is we’re going through.

        • November 4, 2020

          Maybe cut some fat and add some applesauce?

          • Jan permalink
            November 4, 2020

            Naah, I’m just going to make it as described and eat it and to hell with the rest. (Really the thing to do would be to eat less chocolate, but I’m not going to do that either. Maybe some year.)

  9. November 4, 2020

    I love how eloquently you articulate the essence of each moment.
    I am so blessed to know and live with you and your sweet family!

  10. Ljuba Lemke permalink
    November 4, 2020

    Oh, Rachel, I NEEDED to read your words – thank you! They are helping me in my struggle to understand …

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