Tag Archives: Apple Crumb Crust pie

Lessons in Italian

24 Oct

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In the spring of next year, we are planning to go to Italy.  My husband has a classmate who has lived in Italy for many years, and she is organizing a class reunion…  in a villa… in Tuscany.   Can you come up with any reason why we wouldn’t we want to go?   Neither can I!

italy map

Likely because he is pretty darned pragmatic, that same husband signed us both up for beginner’s Italian lessons via Ashland’s Parks and Recreation programs. However, since his work schedule is pretty full, he has had trouble making it to class.  In fact, I also missed the first class because I misread the schedule. Instead of arriving at 5 PM for class, I arrived a few minutes before 7 PM… which meant I was showing up for the first class of Advanced Italian!

Imagine my surprise when I walked in, thinking I was early, to hear the instructor loudly exclaim, “Ciao Bella!”  She then followed that with a rapid-fire series of questions.  My deer-in-the-headlights look must have given her some indication that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and soon she had me all straightened out.  What was wonderful is that I left feeling sorry that I had missed my first class rather than embarrassed by my error.

Since then, I have been to three more classes (with five to go!) and have learned a little bit more each week.   Italian is such a beautiful language to listen to and I look forward to becoming more fluent as time goes by.   Who knows?  Maybe by the time we get to Italy, I will actually know how to speak in Italian.

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If that happens, then it will be in large part due to our delightful teacher la professoressa, Ms. Rountree.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and she is making the class fun.   And because yesterday she told us that today is her birthday, I baked her an Apple Crumb Crust Pie.  When I gave it to her, I spoke these words: Buon Compleanno e Tanti Auguri per Prossimo Anno.

Mille Grazie Signora!

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”  Mark Twain

Day 321: Wink

21 Feb

Apple Crumb Crust Pie

This pie journey has introduced me to many people that I might not otherwise have met.  About four months ago I gave a pie to Adam Walker Cleaveland and his wife Sarah.  It was the day that our congregation was to vote to confirm Adam as our new Associate Pastor and I thought that in the stress of that moment, this couple deserved a pie whichever way the vote went.  Fortunately for us, he was voted in.

Afterwards Adam shared with his readers (he writes a blog called Pomomusings) that a lady at his new church had given him a pie.  And what a wonderful response came back from his last church… they were so pleased to see how much we appreciated Adam and Sarah.  It was a lovely beginning for us all.

Just a week or so ago I received an email from a man named Don.  He knows Adam from the last church he was in and he told me that he’d been following my blog since he’d heard about it from him.  Don asked if I would please consider bringing a pie to his cousin, Wink who lives in Ashland.  Don told me that when he was a teenager, his father got a job in San Francisco.  That year, Don moved to California from New Jersey and lived with his aunt and uncle while his brothers and Mom stayed back in New Jersey to sell and pack up the house. During that time, Don shared a room with his cousin, Wink.

Don said that that year in California was his best year in high school.  I can imagine how it could easily have been the most difficult – with a new living situation and being separated from his family, but it seems that his aunt and uncle and cousins welcomed him with open arms, and that made all the difference.

Tonight I delivered an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to Don’s cousin, Wink.  I hope that she knows how much it meant to Don to have been treated so well by her family.  It is a gift he will never forget.

What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.  ~George Eliot

Day 315: Kirby Shaw

15 Feb


Apple Crumb Crust Pie

A little more than a year ago, I tried out for Kirby Shaw‘s choir at Southern Oregon University.  My friend Leslie encouraged me to try out because she knew how much I liked  to sing.  In fact there is a joke at her house about a night I seemed to sing every song in their music book.  Her family referred to that night “Karenoke.

To be in Kirby’s choir you must “try out” and you can do that over the phone or you can do it in person.  Since I felt much to shy to try out in person, I chose to audition over the phone.  I’d heard that many students audition with the song, “Amazing Grace” and I tried it but I wasn’t comfortable with it. Then I remembered an old song that I used to sing to my children, “Mama’s Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread” and that was what I auditioned with.  I sang into my phone for less than a minute and before I knew it I was in the choir!

All of the songs that we sang that term were sung without accompaniment.  Some of the songs didn’t even have actual words but instead had sort of scat sounds. What a challenge that was!  And then there were songs that were so beautiful sung by talented people with amazing voices.   What a class!

Of course, what really made it a great class was the instructor himself, Kirby Shaw.  He is encouraging, enthusiastic, and his love of music is so infectious that soon everyone in the room is loving it too.

Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to Kirby to thank him for the gift of music that he so willingly shares with us.  We are very lucky to have him here at SOU.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
Billy Joel

Day 267: Richard

29 Dec

For the past year and a half my husband, Emile, has been working for the Medford Food Coop. This coop opened in August after a long process and it seems to be gaining ground each day. There is an amazing group of people working to make sure that this venture succeeds and we are so very happy that they we have them on our team.

In addition to the great management team, Emile and I are both thankful for the encouragement and support from the Ashland Food Coop, and especially from the manager of the Ashland Coop, Richard Katz. Richard has been a friend and mentor for years but in this last year he has been an incredible source of support. He has shared his expertise and willingly offered his time whenever needed. That support has been invaluable to Emile and his team in Medford.

Today a young lady, Laurel, began interviewing me about this “pie project.” She filmed me as I made my pie and asked questions about various aspects of the whole process. I told Laurel that I wanted to give today’s pie to Richard and she agreed to meet me at the Ashland coop to film the delivery of the pie. And with all that going on I forgot to take a picture of today’s pie! It was a lovely Apple Crumb Crust pie… and I am embarrassed that I forgot to capture a photo of it.

But on the up side, it was fun to have someone film the “delivery” of a pie, for that has not been done before. And to see Richard’s smile when he saw the pie was great… the icing on the cake as it were. The gift of a pie is a small gesture but I hope he knows how much his support has meant and how grateful we are for his continued friendship.

Day 261: A soldier named Luke

23 Dec

Yesterday I stopped by the Oregon National Guard Armory and was met at the door by Major Lee. He asked how he could help me and I told him about how I’d been giving away pies and how I hoped to give a pie to a National Guard soldier for the holidays. He looked at me and told me he’d heard about my pie journey and then he said I looked familiar to him. That’s when I read the name on his uniform and realized that we had been students together in the Master in Management Program at Southern Oregon University a few years ago.

That is how Major Lee and I reconnected. And after hearing my story, Major Lee suggested that I give my pie of the day to a young guardsman who had just moved to Ashland. Major Lee actually introduced me to the soldier yesterday and told him that I would be stopping by today. That new soldier nodded and accepted a meeting that he might not have fully grasped.

Today I made an Apple Crumb Crust Pie for Luke, an Oregon National Guardsman. He does not know me at all but when I presented him with his pie he was genuinely pleased. At one point he said, “It’s nice to know that people still do things like this.” And then he said, “You’ve made my day.” And that is all that I could wish for… and in my heart of hearts I hope that there will always be people who are willing and able to do things like this – because I think we should always recognize and honor the soldiers that serve us for the effort it takes to do this seems so small compared to the service that a soldier gives.

Day 220: The Crew at Cash and Carry

12 Nov

Having been in the food service industry (catering, working in restaurants, etc) for most of my life, it is only natural that I would get to know the crew at United Grocers. They are a great group of people that are willing to help you with whatever your project may be.

Back when I worked in restaurants, at times I would pile my cart high with products and whoever rang up my purchases would help me load the goods into my car. They are all so helpful and full of information!

A few years ago I needed to make pulled pork for a friend and I had never made it before. When I got to Cash and Carry, I walked into the meat cooler and was overwhelmed. A moment later, Garret asked me what I needed. I told him what I was looking for and he had me outfitted with exactly what I needed in a flash. I was thrilled to have his help.

I am tremendously grateful for all of the help that these folks have given to me (and here is a partial list of the staff: Garret, Brandon, Don, and the “retired” Clint). Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to the crew at Cash and Carry to acknowledge their terrific customer service… and to thank them for the all of the assistance that they have given me over the years.

Day 196: Chuck and Mardy

19 Oct


Karen and Mardy

About 25 years ago, when we came to Ashland to attend Southern Oregon State College, my husband convinced me to take up a sport.  For some reason, I thought that racquetball would be a good sport to learn and so I signed up.  At the time, I knew little about the sport except that it was played indoors and looked fun.  Then the reality of the sport set in: you play in a closed room with people that are hitting a ball hard – which means someone can get hurt.

What I remember about my first couple of classes is that I never hit the ball at all.  It seemed to always be zooming by me or at me and I never got around to hitting it.  And then one day I was on the court with a few classmates and finally the ball came my way at a speed that I could manage and I hit it!  It was the first time I had ever hit the ball!  My euphoria was short-lived however because one of my teammates turned around to see where the ball had gone… and WHACK! It hit him in the face and knocked off AND BROKE his glasses.  Can you believe it? Instead of being thrilled that I hit the ball I was instead apologizing profusely to Chuck… who was not too taken with me at that time.

Somehow, even after that auspicious beginning, my husband became good friends with Chuck. Maybe Chuck took pity on him for living with a such dangerous woman; I don’t know for sure.  What I do know is that because of their friendship, I became friends with Chuck’s wife Mardy and we’ve been friends ever since.

Mardy and Chuck were there to help us when we moved up to Portland as they had moved up several years earlier.  We stayed with them for a few days while we searched for an apartment and they helped whenever they could with whatever we needed.  Having friends in town made our move quite a bit less stressful.

Mardy helped me out in other ways as well.  She was the one who made my first business card for me.  I’d been catering for friends for a while and Mardy often worked with me, and she kept telling me I needed a business card but I never got around to making  one.  One day she showed up and handed my a few cards that she’d printed for me with the name “Kaleidoscope Katering”.   It was perfect – and finally customers had a way to get in touch with me…. thanks to Mardy.

One of the things that I admire about Chuck and Mardy is that they seem to make the best of a situation.  They both work hard, are willing to take on challenging tasks, and are incredibly flexible.  Where someone else might be deterred, they seem to find a way to make things work out.  It’s really inspiring.

We moved back to Ashland in 1995 but have maintained our relationship with Chuck and Mardy.  Sometimes they travel down to see us; more often, we travel north and stay with them.  Last evening we arrived in Portland after leaving the coast and spent the evening at their lovely condo.  We decided to go out to eat and found ourselves at The Oregon Culinary Institute where we enjoyed a wonderful four course meal.  After dinner, Mardy and I went to the store to buy a few ingredients for a pie and early this morning I got up to make that pie.


Pie ingredients with Chuck in the background

While the pie baked, Chuck and Emile played a game of chess… while I snapped a few shots of the view from their living room.


Emile and Chuck


The view north

Once the pie was finally done, I left it to cool on their marble countertop.   I hope they know how grateful we are for all they have done for us.  We are very happy to have met them and become friends, and except for that tiny incident with the racquetball, I think Chuck would agree.


Apple Crumb Crust Pie

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