Archive | December, 2013

My Visit with Coco in Missoula

21 Dec

Missoula morningDowntown Missoula at 8AM this morning.

view from Coco's houseThe view from Coco’s living room window around 10AM.

This past week I’ve been lucky to have spent some time relaxing with my son, Coco.  During my visit, he was able to take a little time off from work and we went on long walks, played cards, and watched a few movies.  We also cooked together… and several times Coco cooked for me.   It’s pretty amazing to see the young man that he has become and I am very lucky to have had this opportunity to simply hang out with him in Missoula.

The other night, Coco invited several friends – Cody, Mason, Mike, Audrey, and Lynn – over to his apartment for a home-made pizza dinner.  To prepare, we first went shopping for groceries.  As we were walking back to the apartment, I realized that I’d forgotten to buy mozzarella for the pizza.  One of the key ingredients and I’d spaced it!

“That’s okay, Mom”, Coco told me.  “Audrey can make some.”   I’d recently met Audrey and she is very sweet… but wasn’t that asking a bit much?  And doesn’t it take a long time to make mozzarella cheese anyway?  Well, the answer was “No” to both questions.  Audrey was happy to bring over the necessary ingredients (a gallon of milk and some enzymes) and in just about an hour we had “fresh mozzarella.”   I was amazed!  All the years I have spent in the kitchen, and never once did I ever even think of making cheese!  Well, I can tell you with certainty, that that will definitely change!

Yesterday while Coco was at work I made an apple pie for his friends and co-workers.  I wanted to thank them for welcoming my son into their hearts and community.  It’s such a good feeling to know that Coco has found a place where he is happy and comfortable, is able to survive on his own, and is supported by a close circle of friends.  What more could a mother hope for?

Coco and Me

Coco and me.

“You can’t make me be nice.
You can’t make me be good.
You can’t make me believe.
But your example, your kindness, your patience and love will affect me perhaps enough that eventually I may choose to do those things.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich

A Gift of Love and Support

15 Dec

anny's pie 2Yesterday I traveled to Missoula, Montana to visit my son Coco.  He’s been living there for almost two years, and our family was able to spend Christmas with him last year.  This year, however, that won’t be possible due to a number of circumstances and so instead I will spend some time with him before the holidays.  As I’ve not seen him for a year, I have been looking forward to this visit very much .

During the week prior to the trip, I was busy working on a few catering events, getting Christmas packages into the mail, and attending to myriad household details.  The morning I was to leave, I still needed to pack my bags and pay a visit to my Dad.

Even though my schedule was fairly full, before I left I really wanted to (read: needed to) make a pie for a dear friend who has been going through a particularly difficult time.  What I find intriguing, is that while she is facing this “life crisis”, she is also awaiting and preparing for what will likely be one of the most memorable experiences of her life.

It can be hard to fathom the juxtaposition of happy and sad events that life presents to us.  For me, my most challenging moments came when my daughter was born and then a few months later, my mother lost her battle with cancer.   I was totally unprepared to handle the emotional pull in two very different directions – caring for my newborn while saying goodbye to my Mom.

What I want to say to my friend by giving her a pie, is to let her know that this difficult moment will pass, and more importantly, to remind her that she is surrounded by a caring community that loves and supports her.   We will be there to help her every step of the way… and are more than honored to do so.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. – Charlotte Bronte

Because I can’t deliver a pie to heaven…

4 Dec

ImageLast night I taught my second class on gluten-free baking at the Ashland Food Coop and while I’m not an expert on the subject, over time I have learned some tricks that are helpful.  I’d told the students that we were going to bake four different goodies in two hours… and with the help of two very kind volunteers (Thank you Lynn and Alan!), I was able to accomplish that.

One of those items was a gluten-free Apple Crumb Crust pie.  The crust was made using the perfect pie crust recipe from the Simply Gluten-Free website by Carol Kicinski… and really, it is perfect!  It’s a simple recipe and although rolling out the pie dough requires a bit of patience, the finished product is flaky and delicious.  Many thanks to Ms. Kicinski for creating this recipe and sharing it with the rest of us!

The only challenge for me in preparing this dough for my class was that, once formed,  the dough needs to rest an hour in the fridge.  With only two hours of class time, I didn’t have the luxury of doing that.   Instead, I decided to make some pie dough at home, chill it, and bring it to class with me.  Once I demonstrated the method for making the pie dough, I put the fresh dough in the fridge and pulled out the dough that had been resting for a while.

With the chilled dough, I formed a simple fluted crust, filled it with apples, cinnamon and sugar and topped it with a crumb crust made from gluten-free flour, oats, butter, and cinnamon.  I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the finished apple pie to show you.. or a recording of the delightful sounds coming from the folks eating it!  (It’s an easy recipe – I’d be happy to email it to anyone that’s interested.)

Because I’d made pie dough twice yesterday, and only made one pie, that meant that today I woke up thinking about making a pie for someone who was gluten-free… and since today would have been my Mom’s 78th birthday, I wanted it to be someone special.  It took a little while, but once I thought of the person, I knew I’d made the right choice.  The pie recipient is someone I’ve known for a long time.  She’s the mother of two young girls who are beautiful and precocious.  A number of years ago when she was a teenager, she watched my little redheaded girl for me.  Now she has a little redhead of her own.

Tonight I drove to her family’s home and was impressed by their beautiful display of Christmas lights and decorations.  My friend saw me approaching and met me at the door.  Her daughter stood beside her and immediately asked if I wanted me to meet their kitty.  I told them that I couldn’t stay, that I had only a moment to deliver the pie to them and mentioned that I hoped that they liked my choice of flavors because I know that not everyone likes pumpkin pie.

I needn’t have worried.  As luck would have it, Ariana said that pumpkin pie is a favorite at their home.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised…the serendipitous moments that I’ve come to experience by giving away pies has been truly amazing.   Sometimes it even feels like I have gotten nudges from angels. In any case, tonight as I get ready to call it a day, I believe that somewhere in the universe, my Mom knows that I was missing and thinking about her.Image

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.  Henry David Thoreau

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