Archive | January, 2012

Day 290: Carrie and Brian

21 Jan

Apple Crumb Pie

About fifteen years ago I met Brian and Carrie at church.  They were welcoming and funny and I felt a kinship with them almost immediately.  We both had two children and there were times when we would commiserate about the challenges of parenting, while at other times we would laugh about our kids antics.

One Sunday I brought my kids to church and found Brian was in charge of the younger kids during Sunday School.  Since Brian is a wonderful photographer, he used his camera to entertain the kids and hold their interest.  He said he’d asked the kids to each do one serious pose, and then he told them they could each do a silly pose.  Later he gave me a few photos that he’d taken of my son, Coco.  They are still among my favorites of him!

Coco age 3

Tonight when I delivered their pie to them they were as warm and welcoming as ever even though they were all a bit under the weather. They sat me down and asked all about my children (whom they haven’t seen in a while) and introduced me to their little dog, Zippy.  We talked about books and movies and, of course, pies.   After a while I realized I’d probably been talking way too much and gave a Brian and Carrie air hugs (at their request) and gave Gracie a real one and bid them all farewell.  If I stayed too long, I guess it was because I felt so at home with them.  And I hope they know how much I appreciate that feeling.

Coco at age 18

Day 289: John

20 Jan

Key Lime Pie

Today was cold and rainy for much of the day.  Even so, I decided to make a Key Lime Pie.  What’s funny  is that this is the first time that I have made this kind of pie this year.  The idea for it just came to me this morning and one of the things that I have learned over this past year is not to fight my intuition.

The recipe I have is similar to this one .  It makes a lovely pie in no time at all… which I imagine is an important consideration for many people.  And it was important for me today because I had several important things to do in addition to making a pie including a volunteer meeting, a memorial for a friend, a work meeting, and an appointment to donate blood.   Oh, and I needed to deliver a pie!

My daughter was the one who suggested today’s pie recipient.  His name is John and he is one of her professors at the School of Business at Southern Oregon University. He was not working on campus today so I called ahead to make sure it was okay to stop by his home for a moment. He said it was and in short order I was at his front door, pie in hand.

Once he saw the pie, John asked me to tell him what this project was all about. He’d heard about the pies as some of his colleagues have been recipients, but he hadn’t heard my story before. I shared that with him and then we talked about how we’d both had kids who’d been exchange students and how those “kids” have gone on to become world travelers. We agreed that it would be a great thing if more kids took that step.

Then it was time for me to go. As I left, John thanked me again for the pie. And (this is my favorite part!) then he told me that Key Lime Pie is his wife Amy’s favorite pie. Like I said, I’ve learned to trust my intuition.

Drawing of John’s dog “Pearl” staring into the Fridge

Day 288: Wanda

19 Jan

Before I got busy baking a pie today, I wanted to make home-made play-dough to send to my niece Olivia.  Olivia will be turning five in a few days and while I had already purchased clothing for her, I thought that she might have a lot more fun with the play-dough.

To begin, first I found a recipe for the cooked form of play-dough.  Then I gathered the necessary ingredients and in just a few minutes I had a batch of dough that looked like this:

Then I slipped on some kitchen gloves and mixed in food coloring and Voila! Play-dough!  This stuff is so easy to make and so pretty once it’s done, I don’t know why you wouldn’t make this. Surely you have a child somewhere in your life that would love some of this play-dough.

Once I got the play-dough in the mail, I was able to focus on today’s pie.  The recipient had been on my mind but she was also recommended to me by Peggy, pie recipient #270.  When I spoke to Peggy she thought that Wanda might like a quiche so that she could share it with her brother and his wife.  That’s the kind of lady that Wanda is – always thinking about someone else.

If you donate blood to the Red Cross in Ashland you have probably seen Wanda. She is one of the volunteers who offers you a cookie and juice after you have completed the donation process.  And this is just one of many volunteer activities that Wanda is involved in.

Tonight I brought Wanda a Bacon, Onion and Spinach Quiche along with a small plate of brownies.  I wanted to thank her for all that she does to help others.  Without Wanda and folks like her, our community would be a very different place.

Day 287: A Quiche for Debra

18 Jan

As has happened many times before, today’s pie recipient was suggested to me by a previous pie recipient.  I think it’s kind of nice that the pie recipients want to share the good feeling that they had with someone else and I’m delighted to help make this happen.  In a way it is like a game of dominoes where each person that has been touched in turn touches another until finally everyone has been included in the game.

This sounds so lovely and yet I am very aware that on my own I cannot reach everyone.  As it is, I have less than eighty days to go before my year of pies is completed.  However,  I have heard from some people that they have been moved by my story to do something for someone else that they might not otherwise have done.  Perhaps they baked a loaf of bread for a neighbor, or made a pot of soup for a friend, or brought farm-fresh corn to someone new in the neighborhood.   Making a difference in someone’s life is really as simple as that.

If you were to consider being a part of this “game” you would not need to bake a pie by any means.  You need only find a way to share something with just one person and if they seem interested in the game, you can ask them to “pie” it forward.  If more of us do that,  then it is more likely that everyone will be reached.   In any case, I believe with all my heart that it’s worth a try.

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.  Walt Disney

Day 286: Lorelie

17 Jan

My sister Nancy had her first child when she was only nineteen.  Maybe she knew that her time on this planet was limited and so she did what she could while she was here.  Or perhaps she wanted to leave a legacy because she saw so many of her peers leave too soon.  Whatever the reason, Nancy had two boys that she saw to young adulthood before she died.

After we lost Nancy, my sister Janice and I tried to fill up the space that she left for the boys.  Janice lived nearby and did quite a bit for them.  I lived 3,000 miles away and did what I could.  Eventually my nephew Jimmy moved out to the west coast.  After that I was able to see him more often and when his daughters were born I was only a few hours drive away.

Yesterday, Jimmy and his girlfriend Pearl came to visit me and they brought along his daughter Lorelie.  This child has the beauty of her mother and the impish energy her father had at her age.  But what’s most amazing to me is how much she looks like her grandmother, Nancy.

This morning Lorelie and I made a Chocolate Pecan Pie to take back home with them.  She helped stir and taste the batter and she licked the bowl when we were done.  She absolutely wore me out in just a few hours…but I wouldn’t miss a visit from her for the world.  And one of my life’s goals is to be the best Great Aunt I can be… for my nephews, for their children,  and especially for Nancy.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
Thomas Campbell

Day 285: A Friend

16 Jan

Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Yesterday I ran into a friend of mine at the grocery store and stopped to say hello.  We chatted for a few minutes and I noticed something was different; his usual happy-go-lucky persona was missing.  When I asked him what was wrong, he told me that he was going through a pretty difficult time.

I know that it was not easy for him to share his story with me and I felt good that he trusted me enough to do so. I also found myself wishing that I could take a magic wand and wave it over him and grant him three wishes.   And knowing him as I do, I know that he wouldn’t use any of his wishes for himself.  Instead he would use them to help and benefit those that he loves most.

This morning I found myself thinking of this friend and decided to make him a quiche to share with his family.  It is my gentle reminder that he has friends that care about him and that we are here should he need us.

It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.  Epicurus

Day 284: Rachel and Mike

15 Jan

A few months ago I wrote about a young man from our small town who was the victim of a violent homicide.   His name was David and he was only twenty-three years old. As a parent of two young adults I felt deeply moved by this tragedy and my heart ached for David’s parents.   As a small gesture I sent a quiche to his Mother and offered my condolences on the loss of her son.

At this point in time, the killer has not yet been found.  And somehow the residents of Ashland try to go about doing what they have always done while living with the knowledge that they aren’t as safe as they had once thought.  And, of course, for David’s parents, life will never be the same.

Recently I was told about a couple who are friends of David’s Mother.  For the past few months they have been helping her get through the most difficult time of her life.   I am very grateful that she was able to count on them for the help and support that she needed and hope they realize what a comfort they have been to her.   Today I brought them a Dutch Apple Pie to thank them for the gift of their friendship.    My hope is that we will all have friends like this when we most need them.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”  Henri Nouwen

Day 283: A Chocolate Chess Pie for JoAnn

15 Jan

About a week ago I mentioned that I was looking for new pies to make and had found a recipe for Chess Pie.  It’s a custard-like pie that has one unusual ingredient: cornmeal.  There are many stories about where this name might have come from that you can read here.

When I mentioned Chess Pie on my blog, I asked if anyone could vouch for it.  A man named David Lowe wrote back and endorsed the idea and then sent me a recipe for a Chocolate Chess Pie.  Here is that recipe:

Fancy Chocolate Chess Pie (from Ken Hadrich’s book “Pie”)

9″ partially pre-baked crust
1/2 cup butter
4oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 Tbsp fine cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup half & half
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter & chocolate gently.
Combine dry ingredients. Whisk in eggs, egg yolk, cream & vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate mixture. Pour into cooled pie crust. Bake 55-65 minutes at 325F, turning in the middle to bake evenly. It’s done when it’s formed a thin, crisp top crust and barely jiggles when shaken. Cool at least 90 minutes.

Today I made this recipe and it is incredibly easy to make and this is what it looked like when it came from the oven.

It sort of looks like a Brownie Pie doesn’t it?  It has the same kind of texture on top – which sounds like a slight crunch when you touch it… and it smelled divine.  But I couldn’t leave it alone… I wanted to spruce it up a bit more.

So, I made whipped cream and piped it around the edge because I still wanted to show off the top of the pie.

Then I decided it needed one more touch…. shaved chocolate….

… there!  Now it was ready for delivery!

Yesterday afternoon my daughter Alexandra suggested a name for a pie. The lady that she suggested is the mother of one of my daughter’s best friends and her name is JoAnn.  We’ve known each other for about ten years and while I haven’t seen her in a while, I always think of her fondly.   Each time I see her I am impressed by her gracefulness and her sense of humor.

Tonight Alex and I called upon JoAnn and presented her with this Chocolate Chess Pie.  She thanked me for the pie and invited us in for a visit.  We spent an hour or two catching up and before we knew it, it was time to leave.  Then we gave hugs all around and we were on our way. And it occurs to me now that I did not share these thoughts with JoAnn – and I should do that now.

I want to recognize JoAnn for being a remarkable mother to two fine sons and for being a friend and confidante to Alexandra.  I would also like to thank JoAnn (and Facebook) for helping our kids stay connected, even though they live 3,000 miles apart.   Our lives our fuller (and funnier) because of their friendship.

Day 282: Beverly and CASA

13 Jan

For those of you who might not know what the word CASA represents, it is this: Court Appointed Special Advocate.  The Jackson County CASA website states, “CASA volunteers are well-trained, everyday citizens appointed by judges to advocate for the safety and well-being of children who have come under the care of Child Welfare due to parental abuse and/or neglect. CASA volunteers speak up for these children and work hard to better their lives. Children helped through CASA and the court system are far less likely to experience re-abuse, spend less time in foster care, and receive needed services more often. CASA volunteers have helped more than two million children nationwide find safe, permanent homes.” (

I’d been thinking about CASA and how I wanted to recognize that agency for what they do to support and protect children but I didn’t know who to give a pie to. About a week ago I sent an email to a colleague who is a CASA volunteer to ask him to suggest someone as a pie recipient.  I thought that he might bring me the name of someone in administration or perhaps a child in the system.  Instead he wrote back and told me that his wife, Beverly, was the best CASA he knew.  Then he told me that she had been advocating for a very young child and spent many hours working on behalf of that child.  I thought, “Who better to receive a pie?”

This afternoon, I called Beverly at work to make sure that she would be in, and luckily she was.  A short time later I arrived at her business and walked in with a Marionberry Lattice Topped Pie.   The first thing she said was that her daughter would be so excited when she found out about the pie.   Isn’t that interesting?  I had brought her a pie and  immediately she was thinking about sharing it with her daughter.  I think that one sentence speaks volumes about why Beverly is a great CASA.

Before I left Beverly today, she shared this good news about the child that she watches over – the adoption process has been set in motion for that child to stay with his foster parents.   This is the happy ending that we want for every child… and I am grateful to all the CASA volunteers who work to make it happen.

Day 281: Mark and Betty

12 Jan

Marionberry Cream Cheese Tart

Many years ago my husband and I worked together at Geppetto’s restaurant to help pay our way through Southern Oregon University.   Emile was an experienced line cook and I worked a variety of positions including host, prep cook and baker.  One of the people that we worked with there was Mark.  He was a line cook but he also waited tables occasionally.

One of my fondest memories from that time occurred during the period when I was pregnant with my daughter.  During my second trimester I always seemed to be hungry.  But not for just anything – I craved protein.  At school each day I ate a tuna salad sandwich and drank a quart of milk for lunch.  After school I would walk to Geppetto’s (on the days that I worked) and by the time I got there I was ravenous. When Mark was cooking on the line, he would make me a breakfast sandwich almost as soon as he saw me come in. I really appreciated that. It was amazing how much food I consumed!

Yet even though Mark helped to keep me fed, he also teased me mercilessly about my expanding belly.  Finally one day I brought in a tape measure to compare our waist sizes.  Lo and behold, when we put the tape around our waists, they measured within an inch of each other… and Mark was not expecting.  He quit teasing me after that.

I knew that surprising Mark would be difficult and so I called him to tell him that I wanted to bring him a pie.  It was then that he told me that his Mom, Betty, might be a better pie recipient because she would enjoy sharing it with her friends.  And so today I brought a Cream Cheese Tart topped with Marionberries for Betty… but once Mark saw it, he said that he just might want to taste it before she took it home.    And that my dear is a compliment…  from my good friend Mark (aka Badger).

The best kind of friend is the one you could sit on a porch with, never saying a word, and walk away feeling like that was the best conversation you’ve had.  ~Author Unknown


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