Archive | March, 2013

A Stroke is Clearly Out of my Control

28 Mar

Honey Almond Pie

 

Honey Almond Pie

There are times when we think that we are in control of our lives (for the most part anyway) and then something comes to remind us what an illusion that is.  I was reminded of the truth last Saturday.  My cell phone rang with a number that I didn’t recognize though I did determine it was from a Florida area code.  The call was from my Dad’s girlfriend, Eileen.  She called to say that my Dad had had a stroke and that he was in the hospital.  Eileen did her best to paint a positive scenario, but I knew that I would be heading to Florida very soon.

There was one issue that I had and that was how to get back in time for an event that I was to cater for my dear friend Ken in two weeks.  At first I thought, “I can still handle this” because I didn’t want to create any problems for Ken (clearly I have not dealt with anyone having a stroke before).  Just as I was considering what to do, Ken called me and asked casually, “How are you doing?”  When I told him what was going on, without hesitating a moment he said, “Go and take care of your Dad… we will figure this out.”   The permission Ken gave me to let go and focus was tremendous and greatly appreciated.  (I told you he was a dear friend).

Before I took a red-eye flight out of town, I had a few hours and “needed” to feel in control of something and so I baked a pie for Ken to thank him for his compassion and understanding.   Now if I may, I’d like to ask for healing prayers for my Dad.  And if you have any experience with strokes… please share that if you can.

Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Home-made Bagels… and a Quiche for Friends

21 Mar

Wishin’ you a pot o’ gold, and all the joy your heart can hold.

On Sunday March 17th it was my turn to provide snacks for the church coffee hour.   I love to bake and so this isn’t really a chore for me at all.  As it was a cold day, I knew that I would serve hot apple cider.   As for the baked goodies, I first chose to make gluten-free cheesecake brownies because I know several folks in our congregation who are gluten intolerant.  To do this, I merely replaced the all-purpose flour in my brownie recipe with some gluten-free all-purpose flour.  Then I mixed 8 oz of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of sugar and one egg until it was smooth and swirled it into the brownie mix in the pan.

Then, since it was St. Patrick’s Day, I made green Rice Krispie Treats like the ones pictured below because I wanted (felt the need to make) something celebratory.  And let’s add a bit of Irish humor here: “Why do you Irish always answer a question with a question?” asked President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Do we now?” came New York Mayor Al Smith’s reply.

green rice krispie treats

Photo from http://www.sugarrookie.com

Lastly, I decided to make some home-made bagels for the parishioners who do not (or cannot) eat sweets.

bagels

Home-made bagels?  Yes!   About a year or two ago I found a recipe by a man named John D. Lee.  For five years, John owned a bagel restaurant and he clearly knows a thing or two about bagels.  In this recipe, John demonstrates how to make DELICIOUS bagels in a little over an hour.   You have got to try this recipe and let me know how you like it.  If you love a good bagel, I think you’ll be amazed that they can be made this simply.

Now for the pie of the week.  I’d been itching to make a pie and so I scanned our fridge and noticed that there were mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and shredded cheddar – perfect ingredients for a quiche.  But who would receive this savory pie?  As I rolled out the dough, and sautéed the mushrooms I let my mind wander.  The name of the person would come in time.

Once assembled, I placed the quiche in the oven to bake.   In a short while I thought of neighbors who I knew would appreciate help with a meal.  Not because they can’t cook or because they need money, but because their lives are so complicated right now.  Here’s hoping my quiche will offer them a momentary respite and give them assurance that they are surrounded by caring friends.

The purpose of life is not to be happy – but to matter, to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference that you have lived at all.  ~Leo Rosten

 

You say it’s Pi Day? Seems like it’s always Pie Day around here!

15 Mar

A few weeks ago, my husband Emile read an article about the Ashland Emergency Food Bank in the local paper.  The focus of the article was that the food bank was going to hold an open house/pie social to launch a capital campaign to purchase the facility where they are currently housed.  If they succeed in doing this, the food bank will attain a permanent home and thereby ensure its presence in our community for years to come.

After he read the article, Emile turned to me and said, “Don’t you think you should help with that?”  There he goes again… always thinking up good things for me to do!  But his suggestion intrigued me enough to call Pam Marsh, the director of the food bank and ask her about her plan for making pies for the social.  Pam’s response – “I haven’t gotten that far yet!” was something I could easily identify with.  I’m not big on planning which sometimes can be problematic.  However, most of the time things work out just fine.   Pam and I talked a bit over the next week or so and we arranged a day to meet at the First Presbyterian Church with as many people as we could gather together to bake pies!

Pie Baking for the Food Bank

The morning of the bake-fest I showed up early and brewed some coffee and waited hopefully.  Soon Pam arrived with loads of ingredients (including a case of apples) and for a few minutes it was just me and Pam.  Then, one by one, the ladies showed up.  They came carrying rolling pins and aprons and were ready to work.   It was absolutely wonderful!  In no time at all, we assembled 24 beautiful pies.  Most of the pies were apple, but there were a few berry pies in the mix as well.   I’d like to offer my deepest thanks to each of those ladies for putting their caring hearts and valuable time into this event.  The “Pie” volunteers are (listed alphabetically): Carol Baker (perfect name for the project, no?), Patty Chase, Barbara Hanson, Linda Lanzhammer, Barbara Marsh, Kathy Sager, and Leslie Sargent.

The Pie Social was held on Sunday, March 10.  It was  a beautiful day and many people showed up to show their support for the food bank,  to visit with like-minded individuals, and (drum roll please!) to enjoy a piece of pie!  It was a terrific event and I am so glad that Emile suggested that I get involved.  Because of his idea I met Pam… and got to work on a fun project with a great bunch of women.

Another team that I am proud to be a part of is the volunteer group that works at the Rotary Garden.  This is the fourth year that the Ashland Rotary Club has been growing vegetables for the food bank.  One of our Rotarians came up with the idea and from that flash of inspiration we have raised thousands of pounds of fresh produce that has benefited the needy people of Ashland.

Ann Marie and me at the Rotary Garden

Ann Marie Hutson and I worked yesterday at the garden sifting soil.

As great as that is, I have discovered a personal “perk” from volunteering my time for the garden.  I’ve found that by working side by side with my fellow Rotarians we have become better acquainted, and true friendships have developed.

Yesterday, on International “Pi Day”, I baked an Apple Blueberry pie for Mark Jaffe, the current coordinator of our garden project.  I want to thank him for taking the helm of this very rewarding and worthwhile endeavor.

apple blueberry pie

Apple Blueberry Pie

“Candy might be sweet, but it’s a traveling carnival blowing through town. Pie is home. People always come home.” ~ Pushing Daisies

 

Amadeus and An Apple Pie for Senora Chela

4 Mar

MozartA week or so ago, my husband and I attended a performance of the play Amadeus at Camelot Theatre.  What a show!  It had been a long time since I’d thought of the life of Mozart and his amazing talent and tragically short life but it all came flooding back that night.  The cast and crew did an excellent job of bringing this story to life – and filling my head with questions… about Salieri and about the music that might have been.   That night I  also learned the meaning of the name Amadeus; it translates to “love of God.”

Senora Chela Ribbon cutting

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks

The friend who shared this insight with me is Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks.  The very same Senora who is singlehandedly responsible for creating the sister city relationship between Ashland, Oregon and Guanajuato, Mexico.  That relationship began with a University exchange in 1969 and has continued on to this day.  This relationship has “been forged and nurtured over four decades by officials of both city governments, university and high school administrators and teachers, actors, artists, police officers, firemen, service clubs and — most of all — families” ( GlobalPost.com).

photo senora chela

Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks

Some of the “consequences” of this sister city relationship are as follows:

  • Several thousand students have taken part in the University Exchange
  • 80 marriages have taken place between Ashlanders and Guanajuatenses
  • Over 200 homes have been constructed in Guanajuato with funds provided by the Ashland Rotary Club

All this occurred because Senora Chela wanted to bring a little bit of Mexico to Ashland.   This is what she has to say about the program, ““The most important thing is the family relationships that we’ve maintained for 40 years,” said Tapp. “It’s people to people connecting with their city, their lives, their love, their passion. It has a life of its own.”  Last week to honor all that she has done – and continues to do – to make the world a friendlier, more connected place, I brought Senora Chela an Apple Crumb Crust pie.   She is an incredible inspiration and I am honored to know her.

“Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. ”
Margaret Mead

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