Tag Archives: Apple Blueberry Pie

Family, Friends, and a word about Kindness

11 Jul

So many things to share… and this time, I hope to do it with pictures (well for the most part!)….

Here is a photo of me and my Dad.  We took a drive to Crater Lake one Sunday… and he really seemed to enjoy it.  I’d forgotten how cold it could be… even in the summer!

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Then, a few weeks ago, a group of friends, many of them Rotarians, met to bid farewell to Lucka, our exchange student from the Czech Republic.  It was a wonderful year for her… and for us… and now Lucka is back home with her “real” family.  But we know that she made lasting friendships while she was here… and I’m sure it won’t be long before we see her again!

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Lucka’s Going Away Party

Recently, I’ve been lucky to have been asked by a few friends to cook for them…  what fun!

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And of course I found time to make a few pies.  One pie, a sausage, roasted pepper, and broccolini quiche found its way to a friend who has MS.  The high heat of summer makes her symptoms worse and so I thought this might be a way for her to enjoy a few meals without having to turn on the oven.

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Another pie, an apple blueberry, was made for a friend who was first diagnosed with cancer 25 years ago.  He is battling the disease once again, and I wanted to offer him something delicious – fresh from the oven… to feed his belly and his soul.  We’ll be praying for you, Caballo!

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Lastly, I wanted to share a message from our friend, Len, who passed recently.  He asked that rather than sending flowers, that his friends do something kind for a few other people instead. He wanted us to find people in need and instead of just giving them some food or money, that we also spend a few minutes talking with that person, asking their name, etc.  The gift to them would then be greater because we would also acknowledge their identity and hopefully grant them some dignity… something we all need.

My first “gift” was given yesterday.  On a very hot day I sat for a few minutes with “Henry.”  I met his dog and offered him a sack lunch and a cold bottle of water… which he said he would share with the dog.  At first I wondered how it would go… but It was really so easy to do and, not surprisingly, it felt like one of the best things I’ve done all week.

John Prine

Here is a link to the song entitled, Hello in There, by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, John Prine, that shares a similar sentiment.   Enjoy!

Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.  Mother Teresa

A Pie for Pam

23 Jan

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During my “pie a day giveaway” year, I didn’t always know where each pie would wind up at the end of the day.  Of course, sometimes I did begin the day with a particular person in mind.  Most often, that was because a friend or relative was having a birthday.

However, what happened much of the time was that I began the process of making a pie without anyone in mind.  Then, somehow, a name or face would pop in my head, and I just “knew” where that pie would be going.

Now there were days that my intuition was off.  Occasionally I would find that the intended “pie” person was not home when I arrived at their door (or business) and then I would have to go to Plan B.   And surprisingly, the second person that I selected was in fact the person I needed to give the pie to after all… but I just hadn’t known it.

Well, yesterday I wanted to make a pie and immediately my friend Pam’s name came to mind.   Then the idea of an Apple Blueberry pie followed and I was off on a mission.  In about thirty minutes I had a crust prepared, sliced apples and blueberries tossed with sugar and flour and slipped into that crust, and a crumb crust pressed on top.  Before long a delicious aroma was wafting through the house.

After the pie was baked I placed it in a basket and drove to Pam’s workplace. One of Pam’s coworker’s was not sure that she was not in, but another knew just where to find her and brought her to me.  The smile on Pam’s face when she saw me with the pie was priceless, but what was even more amazing were the words that she said to me, “You have an uncanny ability to know when someone needs a random act of kindness.”

Pam, I wish I could say that that was true, but that would be a lie.   Instead, what I can say is how wonderful it feels (and how very grateful I am) for the times when I have picked up on a message from the universe and it turns out this well.

P1000222“We think too much and feel too little.  More than machinery, we need humanity.  More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”           Charlie Chaplin

Baking: An exact science or a way of life?

10 Jan

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

As many of you might imagine, I often have something baking in the oven at my house.  For me, baking has become as natural as breathing… and almost as life-sustaining.   As I child, I jumped at the chance to bake, and eventually became good at it.  Sure, I’ve had my share of baking mishaps – my first pie falling in the oven, my first loaf of bread that was so heavy it could have served as a doorstop,  but that is to be expected.  When we are learning a new skill, mistakes come with the territory. But when we make a mistake, we learn a lesson… and if we pay attention, we rarely do the same thing again.

When I was a young teen, my Mom told me that she would show me how to make Cinnamon Swirl Bread which was a big deal because my Mom really didn’t like to bake.  Together, we made a batch of bread dough and let it rise.  Once risen, my Mom took the dough and rolled it out into a rectangular shape and brushed it with melted butter.  Then she did something that seemed strange to me at the time.  She took the cinnamon-sugar mixture and placed it all one of the long sides of the rectangle, and then she rolled up the dough.  “But how does the cinnamon swirl happen?” I asked her, confused.  “That happens in the oven” my Mom explained as we put the loaves into their pans for the second rise.  It seemed magical to me and I couldn’t wait to see the finished loaves.

Well, now I know that’s not how it works.  When we took the loaves out of the oven, they looked beautiful, and smelled even better.  When we could wait no longer, we cut into the bread and discovered a “log” of cinnamon sugar in the center of each loaf.  There was no magic;  my Mom had just misunderstood  the directions.  Once we discovered the mistake, we laughed until we cried (and ate up every last crumb!)  I’m glad that my Mom made that mistake because in doing so she gave me the permission to do so as well.  What a gift!

Which reminds me of a conversation I had while visiting a friend recently.  Catherine was a nurse in the Navy, worked as an emergency room nurse, and is currently a nursing supervisor.  As I helped her clean up after dinner, she mentioned to me that she had been inspired by my year of pies and said that she could never do what I had done.  I was embarrassed because what she does everyday seems so much more inspiring.  Then I asked Catherine if she liked to bake.  She told me that because baking is such an exact science, she didn’t really do much baking.  Wow.  Perhaps because she deals with life and death issues all the time, she doesn’t want to add one more “science” to her load at the end of the day.  Who could take that kind of pressure?  In her job, if Catherine makes a mistake, someone could die, whereas in mine, we just end up with something that’s imperfect (at best) or headed to the trash (at worst).   Luckily for me, my job is much more forgiving.

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Apple Blueberry Pie

As is usual, I made a few pies this last week.  One was sent to a woman I’ve never met.  She read this blog and told me a bit about herself and the challenges she was facing and asked to be considered for a chocolate pie, and because I could, I sent her one.  It was the same Brownie Pie recipe that I’ve mailed to others (and the only “pie” that I feel comfortable mailing) but sending it off to this “new” friend felt like I was offering a glimmer of hope for better times.

The other pie that I made this week went to a friend who recently had a fire in her home.  When we spoke, she told me about all the things that have happened in her life in the last few years.  Just listening, I felt tired for her and so I asked her, can I bake you a pie?  “Oh you’re sweet” she said, “but you don’t have to do that.”  I know, but that’s part of the fun… I don’t have to do this “pie baking stuff”… I want to.  It makes me happy to do it, and I’ve noticed that the happiness doesn’t end with me; it tends to spread.  And that is a good thing.

Before I go, I wanted to mention that I also baked a few other treats this week because on January 24, I will be teaching a gluten-free baking class at the Ashland Food Coop and I wanted to test my recipes for clarity, timing, etc.  I’m very excited to have the opportunity to share my love of baking with others and I want to thank Mary Shaw at the coop for encouraging me to do this.

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Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It’s our privilege and adventure to discover our own special light.” Mary Dunbar

 

Day 364: A Perfect Pie Recipient

4 Apr

Apple Blueberry Pie

A few years ago, I took a class called “Emotional Intelligence” at Southern Oregon University.  One week our assignment was to notice things that were happening around us and this is what I noticed, albeit a bit too late.  I had taken my son, Coco, shopping with me and we had pushed our cart to the checkout line but there was a person ahead of us with a full cart and so I knew we had a bit of a wait.  As I stood there my mind was racing and I realized I’d forgotten a few things.  I told my son to stay in line and hurried off to get the last few items.  It was only when I was back and it was nearly my turn to checkout when I “noticed” the woman in front of me.

She was a young mother, her baby was crying, and there was some kind of trouble.  Finally she became upset, said “Forget it”, picked up the baby, and left the store, leaving her groceries behind.  I asked my son, “What just happened?” and he told me that the young mother had not had enough money to pay her bill.  She wasn’t short much money, and she’d been dealing with a screaming baby, and maybe she was just a bit frustrated.  And if I had been “present” I might have been able to help her.  Instead, I was scurrying around being efficient.  The memory of that moment still haunts me.

Tonight I wanted to bring a pie to someone who needed a lift… and I had someone in mind, but I was unable to connect with them.  So, as I have done before, I put the pie in the car with me and drove to the store (Shop n’ Kart) hoping to run into someone I could give a pie to.  As I walked through the store I tried to be aware of who might need help.   However, even though I searched, I did not find anyone and so I approached the register to pay for my groceries.  Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder.  There behind me was Adam, our new Associate Pastor.

About six months ago I gave Adam and his wife Sarah a pie when they came to First Presbyterian.  Since he knew about my project, I asked him if he knew of anyone who might appreciate a pie.  He considered a few possible recipients and then mentioned a neighbor of his, a single parent,  that was going through a challenging time.  Perfect!  I asked him if he would please deliver the pie to his neighbor with my good wishes and he agreed.  Tonight he sent me an email saying that the parent looked so tired when they answered the door but was thrilled to receive the pie… and the children thought it was delicious.  Adam finished his email this way, ” …glad I ran into you, I think it was the perfect family to be the recipient of one of your pies.”  I think so too.  Thank you Adam for your help in finding the perfect home for my pie.

 “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Day 359: Aaron

30 Mar

Apple Blueberry Pie

Today I chose to make a pie without knowing where it might end up.  I was present for the making of the pie.. and worked carefully to make a lovely pie… but still I was not sure where it would be delivered.  After it was baked I asked my daughter to go for a walk with me so that I might have a chance to think of a pie recipient… and as we exited our house I saw Leslie.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you will recall that Leslie is a woman who I met when she was having a garage sale…  and at that sale our sons became friends.  That was the beginning of our friendship and it has been almost 16 years since that first meeting!

Tonight it was Leslie that suggested I bring a pie to Aaron, for he was the person who had coached her son Dylan when he was training to become a black belt in karate.  She told me that Aaron worked with men who were incarcerated and he helped them with rites of passage ceremonies.   These men may never again be on the outside, but Aaron works to help them move forward somehow.

Tonight I want to recognize Aaron, and others like him, who work with the people in our prison systems.  They do this work without judgement… and most of the time without pay… and it is such a valuable service that they offer.  I extend my heartfelt thanks to them for the gifts that they give to the people that they serve.

“It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails. A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones.”
Nelson Mandela

Day 351: Linda (and Chuck)

22 Mar

Apple Blueberry Pie

When I think about my life, I realize that it is mostly a collection of memories that are held together by tiny threads.  This tapestry of memories is not something you can see, but if you could look at it, you would learn a lot about who I am and what is important to me.  

Here is an example for your to consider.  A few years ago, a long-time member of our Rotary club passed away.  The club members were told that there was going to be a service for him and if anyone wanted to help with food or anything, they should call Linda as she was coordinating the event.

As I had already committed to working in the Rotary garden that morning, I knew that I could not attend the service, but I called Linda and asked if she needed any help afterwards.  When I reached her, she said that she didn’t need any food so I was off the hook.  I told Linda that I wasn’t offering food, but I could come and work in the kitchen if she needed any help there.  She seemed a bit surprised, but told me to show up and introduce myself and she would put me to work.

The next day, after helping in the garden, I went home, changed into “presentable” attire and went to meet the crew in the kitchen at the Methodist Church.  When I arrived, I found a bunch of ladies  arranging food on platters, clearing trash from the dining room, and washing dishes.  I met Linda and then got busy wherever I was needed.  After a while, I asked to take a turn at the dish sink.  The little old woman who’d been washing, stepped aside, and asked  me what church I belonged to.  I told her “the Presbyterian Church on Walker.”  She watched me working for a few minutes and then asked, “Have you ever thought of becoming a Methodist?”  It still makes me smile to remember that moment.

Linda and her husband, Chuck, are wonderful members of our community, and they always are giving of their time or talents.  And because they would never expect it, I brought them an Apple Blueberry Pie today.  My guess is that they will share it with some of their employees… but I hope they enjoy a bit of it for themselves.  They most certainly deserve it.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us: what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.  Albert Pike

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 343: Ashland Police Department

14 Mar

Apple Blueberry Pie

As I was driving to a meeting this morning, I was reminded by a reporter on NPR that today is Pi Day… meaning that today’s date is 3/14.  Now for some, that may be news. However, at least for the last 342 days, every one of them has been a “Pie” day for me.

Why pies?  Because they are special… sort of a relic from a bygone era.  Not many of us make pies anymore and making a pie for someone seemed to say, “you are special… and I appreciate you.”  It is something that I felt I needed to do… to recognize the people that have made a difference in my life… or in the lives of my friends or neighbors.  To take a moment to say thank you to someone each day was my goal… and it has been such a wonderful journey.

Today I chose to recognize the Ashland Police Department.  When I was a kid, I lived in a “housing project” and we had two regular uniformed officers that patrolled our area.  As kids we knew that if there was trouble, all we had to do was find the officer on duty and he would help us out.  Since I have lived in Ashland, I have only had to call on the police one time.  A young girl, high on something, came to my door one night and knocked.  As luck would have it, that was the same night that my (then young) son had decided to spend the night at a friend’s house.  I thought the person at the door was the parent telling me that my son wanted to come home.  Instead, I opened the door to a young woman, trying to get into my house, thinking that she was home.

We called the APD and an officer arrived at our home within minutes.  We found the young woman in my garage, asleep on a pile of laundry on the floor.  She thought she’d made it home.  The officer woke her up and took her home… but before leaving asked if I wanted to press charges.  “No”, I replied.  But then a short time later, a woman who was the youth liaison for the police force, asked if I would allow the young woman to come to my home to apologize.  When I said, “She doesn’t need to do that” the woman said, “Yes, she does” and so we arranged for a meeting.

A few days later, the young woman and the liaison came to my home.  The young woman said that she’d been out with friends and someone had “slipped” something into her drink.  I told her, “If they let that happen, and then let you walk home alone, they are not your friends.”  And then I told her that I was glad that she had come to my door because I did not harm her… and then I asked her to get some new friends.

Today I want to thank the folks at the Ashland Police Department for doing what they need to do everyday to keep us safe.  There are not many of us that would take their place… and I want to show my appreciation for all of their hard work in our community.

Day 280: Happy Birthday Christian!

11 Jan

Apple Blueberry Crumb Crust Pie

It seems to me that much of my day revolves around food.  Of course for the last nine months I have been making a pie each day, but that is only one of the many ways that I find myself focused in the kitchen.  There are days when I am busy making a pot of soup or a casserole for a friend in need, while other times I find myself testing gluten-free recipes for my neighbor.  If it has to do with food, I seem to lose myself in it.  With all that focus on cooking and baking, that means that I also spend a lot of time shopping – and one of my favorite stores in Ashland is Shop ‘n Kart.

Here is one reason for my loyalty: A few years ago I was on the board of the Ashland Schools Foundation.  One of my tasks was to secure donations from restaurants and grocery stores and then prepare meals for the volunteers that helped on fundraising calling nights.  The very first person I approached was Eric, the manager at Shop ‘n Kart and he generously donated $100 in store credit to the cause.  That was such a help for us and I have never forgotten it.

Another reason for my loyalty has to do with the employees that work there.  Maybe it’s because they see me often, but I enjoy the nod of recognition and their willingness to help me when I need assistance.   I am grateful that they don’t seem put out or avoid eye contact when my “questioning” face appears.

Christian is one of the employees that I have really come to appreciate.  He has helped me with special requests a few times,  he has a calmness about him that is admirable even when the store is slammed,  but more than anything I like that he takes the time to speak with each customer and look them in the eye.  That’s so very important in a world that gets busier every day.

Today I brought Christian the Apple Blueberry Pie that you see above.  When I gave it to him he seemed genuinely pleased.  As I told him about the pie project he said he was happy to be a part of this year of pies.  Then he told me that yesterday was his birthday…  and so of course I wished him a Happy Birthday.  And now I would like to offer this quote from Jonathan Swift,  “May you live all the days of your life.”

And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.   Abraham Lincoln

Day 177: Jane’s Pie and Donna’s Inspiration

30 Sep

My neighbor’s sister Jane visits from Canada a few times each year. They are both gardeners and often spend a lot of time on some kind of garden project. In fact, recently they decided to spend a day creating a clear path between our two homes – and that meant digging up plants and moving heavy paving stones. By days end, they had created a lovely pathway – for which I am very grateful.

We did not have too much time to visit with Jane this time around and she is preparing to leave tomorrow to head home and so I decided that today’s pie would be for Jane – and her family in Canada. This makes it the second international pie! Jane promised me that she would place it in the back of her vehicle so that she would not be tempted to eat it before she gets home. This is a photo of the pie that will accompany her to British Colombia.

Tonight while shopping for apples for this pie I ran into my friend Donna. We chatted about what was going on in our lives and then she said, “You inspired me to do something.” Now of course I thought that she had decided to make a pie but that was not what she meant. Seems she was out buying local corn and decided to buy a few extra ears for her friend. However, when she got to her friend’s house, she noticed her car was not there and was turning to leave when she noticed the house where another friend used to live. That friend had long since moved away, but today there was a car in the driveway and so Donna pulled up to the house and went to the door and knocked. When the person answered she introduced herself and told the folks where she lived and then asked if they liked corn. Well, it turns out they did like corn and so Donna gave them the extra ears that she had bought.

Donna said that she had been inspired to reach out to a new neighbor and to welcome them because of my pie project. I am honored that she thinks that I did something… but all I really did was to suggest what we could do. We don’t have to move mountains to make a difference … we just need to be present with each other. And Donna took that idea and made a few new friends with a couple of ears of corn. It’s as simple, and as amazing, as that.

Day 135: Losing a friend

19 Aug

A few weeks ago I gave a pie to my neighbor Shirley. We sat and talked about a number of things, and I asked her about a young man that I’d seen visiting her. She told me that he was her grandson Chris – and that he’d just lost his dog and was taking it hard.

I don’t know much about Chris at all. But what I do know is that he and that dog seemed to be inseparable. Chris would drive around in his black car with the windows rolled down and the dog would be seated next to him feeling the air on his face.

More recently, Chris would just walk his dog slowly because the dog had become ill. It was sad to see his dog struggle, but still so nice to see them together. And I know just how much he misses his dog now.

He said some folks have said, “Get another dog!” But I don’t think they understand that it’s not “just a dog” that’s missing – it’s his best friend. And when you lose your best friend, you need time to grieve.

I brought Chris an Apple Blueberry Pie tonight in memory of his best friend. It is a small gesture but sent with love and understanding.

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