Tag Archives: apple pie

Pies for so many reasons!

7 Mar

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Coco and Alex, meet their host sister Lucka

The last few weeks have been a bit of a blur and for good reason.  First my daughter , Alexandra, decided to come home for a brief visit before she began her new job (with Warby Parker!) and then my son, Coco, surprised me one night with a knock at our front door (he and his Dad were in cahoots about this).  So, for about a week I was back in Mom mode (my favorite place) and let a lot of other things go.  Well, except for pies.

While she was home, Alexandra mentioned that she wanted to stop at her (and our) alma mater, Southern Oregon University, to visit with her adviser, Rene.  A perfect occasion to bring along a pie!  The ingredients – apples, butter, flour, and sugar – came together quickly and as it baked we got ourselves ready.  Soon we were heading over to the university on a beautiful day.

Alex with pie at SOUAlexandra with Apple Pie

We were thrilled to find Rene (and office manager, Kathy) available to visit for a few minutes and they seemed happy to see us as well (or was it  the still warm pie?)  Alexandra is one of Rene’s first legacy students.  He was a professor to her parents (Emile and I) twenty plus years ago and then was her professor as well.  He still recalls seeing us carry her to school in the baby backpack.   Thanks for everything Rene!

Alexandra with Rene and Kathy

One day during the week I noticed that my friend, Margie Cicerrella, was featured in  the local paper.  Margie is retiring after many years of working as a children’s librarian.  Margie has been a driving force for literacy and among many other things spearheaded  the “Welcome Baby Book Bags” program – a program designed to promote language development in infants by giving new parents a cloth bag filled with board books.  For that alone, Margie deserves a million pies!  But alas, all I could do was bring her this one – a sweet potato and pecan pie.  Thank you Margie for all the wonderful work that you’ve done!

P1000559After a fun-filled week with Alexandra and Coco (cooking together, seeing plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and singing along to Coco’s guitar playing), sadly, they both had to return home. The first day after they left I must admit that I felt pretty blue.  Fortunately, I had agreed to teach a friends’ troop of girl scouts how to bake a pie (and share my story of giving away pies) that very afternoon.

At first, I was a little nervous but the girls were simply delightful.  They listened to my brief talk and then the kitchen was a flurry of flour, pie dough, and pumpkin pie filling!  Lots of questions were hurled at me, but I managed to answer most of them, and at the end of the afternoon, the counter was filled with pies.  There’s nothing like making pie – and helping kids learn to bake – to fix the blues!

P1000584The last pie I made this week was for the family of an old friend who succumbed to cancer a few days ago.  My heart aches for her husband and children and bringing them dinner and a pie felt like a way to ease their pain… and I’m sure my friend would love knowing that her family was cared for in this way.

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“Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate.” —Alan D. Wolfelt

The Pies that had to Wait

3 Feb

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Ingredients for quiche: Bacon, Onion and Peppers

Recently I learned that an old friend was diagnosed with cancer.  I’d not seen her in a long while and was taken aback at the news.  Immediately I offered to bring food for the family as I know that they are very busy taking her to and from doctors appointments.  However, because my friend has been following a very restricted diet, my offer of food was not able to be accepted.

It wasn’t easy to stand by knowing that the family was struggling.   It is my belief that sending food to those in need is in fact sending love disguised as nourishment.  While the food can satisfy the body’s need for sustenance, what I envision is that the recipients can also feel the love that they were held in during the time it took to prepare and deliver their food.

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Making use of my new apple peeler – Thank you Nordic Ski Team!

Two nights ago I was thrilled when my friend’s husband asked for food to be brought for him and his daughters.  More specifically, he asked me for a quiche and a pie.  I was honored to be allowed to help in this small way.  After checking ingredients at home, I made a dash to the store for bacon, apples, and cream.  Next morning I arose early and prepared both pies, all the while, holding thoughts of the family in my heart.P1000453

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Love when the juices bubble through like this!

It is my hope that some of that love seeped into the pies and will provide them with a little bit of comfort and the knowledge that they are not alone.

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“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” —Cesar Chavez

Leaving for the Peace Corps

20 Jan

P1000213 Not long ago I received an invitation to a going away party.  The invitation came from my friend Karen and stated that she was hosting a party for her daughter, Mariah, and son-in-law, Collin, who were leaving to take a position with the Peace Corps.   In fact, in a few weeks, Mariah and Collin will be leaving for Zambia! It’s been a few years since I have seen Mariah, but back when my kids were small, she used to babysit for me when I had a meeting to attend or an errand to run.  Mariah was more like a big sister to the kids and since she has beautiful red hair, just like my daughter,  she would often be asked if they were sisters. (And Mariah knows that when she is in Zambia that red hair will surely create a stir!) Curious as to what the next two years will be like for Mariah and Collin,  I did a little research and found a few articles that offered some insight.  This one listed five reasons NOT to join the Peace Corps, one of which is “to build my resume.” Clearly this is not a good reason (there are easier ways to do that) and using this as a mantra won’t get you through the tough times.  Then I found this YouTube video by Carrie Pavlik (who was in the Peace Corps 2007-2009) that shows the beauty of Zambia but also demonstrates just how much work is involved in doing the everyday things that we in America take for granted (getting water, cooking, taking a shower, etc). Mariah and Collin are excited that they are going to put their skills (both of them are fisheries experts) to work to help people in a country that is thousands of miles away. Yesterday was the bon voyage party for Mariah and Collin, and even though I knew I would be late in arriving if I baked a pie before going, I just had to do it.  I wanted to say with that pie that I am so proud to know them, that I admire what they are doing, and to wish them all the best on their grand adventure! P1000216 If you are interested in learning more about their journey, you can follow them on their blog: www.MariahandCollin.wordpress.com “The Peace Corps is guilty of enthusiasm and a crusading spirit.  But we’re not apologetic about it.”  Sargent Shriver “You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.”  Tom Brokaw  

Thank you, Nurse Kathleen!

9 Jan

Kathleen's pie

This past week my Dad fell twice.  Both falls occurred during the wee hours of the morning and thankfully my Dad did not suffer any injuries… but of course that does not mean that I wasn’t worried about him.  Immediately I began wondering what was causing him to fall and what could be done to prevent him from falling in the future.

When I asked Dad what he thought was going on, he really didn’t know.  That might also be a part of the problem.  When Dad awakes, he “thinks” he is fine and so he tries to get up (maybe before he is really awake or before his body is ready) and then tumbles to the floor.   To make matters worse, Dad chooses not to call the med-tech on duty because he “doesn’t want to bother” anyone and so he remains on the floor for an hour or more.

Fortunately I found that I was not alone in my concern.    A few days ago I received a call from the staff nurse at the facility where my Dad is staying and she asked if we could talk.  Since I was about to bring my Dad back to the facility, I agreed to meet with her.  When Dad and I sat with Kathleen I was impressed with the caring way that she spoke to my Dad and how she shared real concern for his safety.  She was able to do so in such a way that captured his attention in ways that I as his daughter cannot.

We agreed to ask Dad’s doctor to look into adjusting Dad’s medications and also encouraged Dad to consider calling for help before he gets up in the night… at least for a week or two.  When I finally left the facility to go back home, I felt a great sense of relief because I had found an ally on this journey.  This is not to say that the rest of the staff is lacking; that is not true at all.  But after talking with Kathleen I felt that someone understood my Dad, had a connection with him, and was looking out for him.  That means a lot to me and so yesterday afternoon I stopped by Kathleen’s office with an Apple Pie to thank her.   It’s so very nice to know that I have her on my team.

caring

 

“It is not how much you do but how much love you put in the doing.”  Mother Teresa

 

 

 

 

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

Ups and Downs

14 Aug

Closeup of Sargent pie

Apple Pie

How can it be so long since I have written?  It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by!  But to be honest, these past few months have been among the hardest of my life.

What that means is that my grand plan to figure out a way to “take care of my Dad” as he was on the road to recovering from his stroke has not been what I envisioned.  On the plus side, I have been able to get him some great medical help.   I’d heard from many folks that we have  good resources here in the Rogue Valley and have found some WONDERFUL health care professionals to assist with his many needs. To begin, I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. John Sager for he has been a tremendous help to us both.

Dad has also been fortunate to be able to work with therapists like Brandon and Marilka from Providence Hospital and they have helped him to gain some strength back (and though I did bring them a pie for their kind efforts but have no photo to show!).

Lastly, my friend Barb Street has patiently worked to select hearing aids that would help my Dad hear.   Like many folks that grew up in the Depression era, my Dad is very careful with his money.  For years he has tried to “make-do” with “hand-me-down” hearing aids but they never worked.   Last week Dad was fitted with a brand new pair that fit his ears perfectly and he could hear me when I spoke normally (not shouting).   It was amazing!

That said, I don’t know what to do next.  Dad has moved into a senior living environment for a short stay so that I can work on some catering projects but I can tell that he his not happy.   And why would he be?  His life has changed in so many ways and his daughter seems to be “bossing” him around.   Stay tuned as the journey continues….

Jonah's gluten free cake

Gluten-Free Wedding Cake

Through all of this, I want to tell you that one of the activities that has kept me grounded has been baking… such as the pie for Brandon and Marilka… and a gluten-free wedding cake for my friend Judith Anne’s son.  I’ve also experimented with a gluten-free/vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe from Babycakes and it is DELICIOUS!!!  (Please try them as soon as you get the chance… you won’t be sorry!)

Finally, yesterday I decided to bring a pie to the Sargent family of Buckhorn Springs.  This weekend, their daughter Lauren is getting married and I am spending this week helping to cater her wedding.  I wanted to thank them for putting their trust in me and allowing me to be a part of this very special time in their lives.

Sargent family pie

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook  – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.”  Julia Child

Goodbye, Love, and Apple Pie

18 Feb

apple pie prep

Apple Pie beginnings

In my last post, I asked what was so  good about goodbye.  The story behind that post was that an old friend is moving away from the area to live closer to his children and how much our community will miss him.  I mentioned that I was lucky to have been given the chance to say goodbye, because sometimes that is not possible.

Shortly after that post was published, a dear friend wrote to say that she’d lost a relative quite suddenly.  Saying goodbye was not really an option given the circumstances and that made his passing even more difficult.

My friend shared that her son was going to visit the family of the man who’d passed and when I offered to make a pie for the family, she accepted graciously.   It was all I could do to help and I was grateful for the chance to assuage the pain that she is feeling.

apple pie prep2

Almost ready for the oven!

This is not to say that a pie will make much of a difference; but it is the love that was sent with the pie that might.   After all, it is the very best thing that we have to offer one another on this journey called life.  And it is the only thing that makes it worth living.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  I Corinthians 13

“Life is short and we do not have too much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us; so be swift to love and make haste to be kind.” Henri-Frédéric Amiel

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” 
Mother Teresa

“Home” for the Holidays

24 Dec

Alexandra

A few days ago, my daughter, Alexandra, flew from New York to spend the Christmas holiday with us.  What seemed to be a pretty simple plan – fly from LaGuardia to Medford, Oregon – proved to be anything but.  After arriving at the airport (via taxi because of all the bags she was carrying) she was told by the agent at the US Airways counter that her flight had been cancelled.  The agent then told her that they would put her on a flight out the next day.  “No… I need to get home today” Alexandra told the agent.  In short order, the agent told her that she could get on a flight that day… but that flight was out of JFK.  “But I just spent $55 to get here for my flight” Alex told her.  “Save your receipts and tell that to customer service… but if you want to leave today, you need to get to JFK,” was the reply.

Alexandra did as she was advised and took a cab to JFK in plenty of time to board the plane for the west coast, but as sometimes happens, that flight was delayed for more than an hour. That  would not have been a problem if that one flight had led to her ultimate destination, but unfortunately, it did not.  When the plane finally arrived in San Francisco, Alexandra and another passenger ran for the Medford flight… thrilled to find that it was delayed and still at the gate.  They happily boarded thinking that they would only arrive twenty minutes later than their originally scheduled time.    But that didn’t happen either.  Instead, for numerous reasons too mundane to relate, the plane did not take off for almost two hours!  When Alexandra and I last spoke I told her that I would pay for her cab because I couldn’t stay awake waiting for her any longer.

The next morning Alex shared the details of the trip… and the delightful seat-mate that she had met who took her home when they finally arrived in Medford.  My grateful heart wanted to thank that woman for taking care of my daughter in the wee hours of the morning… and so, I made a pie.  I gathered apples, walnuts, and raisins and a crumb topping and in short order had a pie in the oven.  Later that day, Alex and I drove to the woman’s home… and discovered that she had moved into the home where Alexandra’s singing coach used to live.  What a small world… and what a wonderful coincidence!

Apple Pie assembly

A few days after Alexandra arrived home, she, her Dad, and I, packed up the car and drove to Missoula, Montana where her brother, Coco lives,  so that we could all spend the holiday together.  On our journey here, we spent the night with friends, Shawn and Catherine, in the Dalles laughing, playing “Last Word“, and sipping red wine.  Yesterday we drove the last 400 miles or so, listening to the book “Cutting for Stone” on the CD player.  We realized last night that it has been 4 years since we were all together for Christmas.  We are enjoying this snowy Christmas eve in a warm kitchen, listening to old vinyl records, while Daddy Emile prepares the turkey for our feast.  I feel pretty darned lucky right now.

Apple Pie

To close, I want to share these few words from a book entitled “Have a little faith” by Mitch Albom.  I love his stories (Tuesdays with Morrie,The Five People You Meet in Heaven) and this one is just as good, but is a true story.   In the epilogue, he shares this memory.  He is talking with the Rabbi and asks him what he would do if he had five minutes alone with God.  The Rabbi says that with the first minute he would ask God to help his family members.  With the next three minutes he would ask God to counsel those who were suffering.  And then Mitch asks, what about that last minute?  And the Rabbi says this is what he would say:

“Look, Lord, I’ve done X amount of good things on earth.  I have tried to follow your teachings and to pass them on.  I have loved my family.  I’ve been part of a community.  And I have been, I think, fairly good to people.

“So, Heavenly Father, for all this, what is my reward?”

And Mitch asks, “what do you think God will say?”

“He’ll say, “Reward?  What Reward?  That’s what you were supposed to do!”  And then Mitch and the Rabbi laugh together for a long while.

Tonight, I send you my best wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever it is that you celebrate with the people you love.

family-card

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.  ~ Confusious

The Wrong Number… or was it?

7 Nov

A few days ago I prepared some gluten-free Manicotti for an older friend who is moving to Portland.  I thought having a ready-made meal would make the week before moving a bit easier.  After the Manicotti was finished, I dialed her number to let her know what I’d done and ask when I could bring it over.  After a few rings, a very tired voice answered the phone.

“Oh my Sharon, did I wake you?” I asked, feeling terrible for disturbing her.  “No” she answered, “I’m not feeling well.” “I’m so sorry… do you need anything?”  “No… I’ve got people taking care of me,” she replied, “What can I do for you?”  Confused and still feeling bad about disturbing her, I said “Oh that’s okay. I can call back when you are feeling better.”  And then she said, “I don’t think I am going to get better… you’d better tell me now.”  “What”? I thought, Sharon is supposed to move in a few days!   I quickly explained that I had made her Manicotti… that she could share it with a friend or her daughter… and that is when she said, “I think you’ve got the wrong number.  My name is ______ _______. ”  Immediately I apologized profusely for disturbing her… and then the call was over.

Oh my.  I felt awful.  I’d accidentally called an acquaintance, which is not hard to do in a small town, and I had just found out that she was not well.  What do I do?  What would you do?

The easy thing to do would have been to let it go… say a prayer wishing her well and go on with my life.  And for a few days, I tried just that.  Finally yesterday I gave in to the desire to do something to show that I cared by preparing a pie.  I didn’t think that she would be able to eat it necessarily, but she’d said that she was being cared for by others, so I knew that there would be someone there that she could offer it to.

When the pie was done, I looked up the address and drove over to my friend’s neighborhood.  The house was dark, and I knocked softly.   There was no answer so I left the pie on her doorstep. After I got back home, I called and left a message on her machine explaining that I was the “wrong number” from the other day…offered my apology again… and any assistance that she might need.

A while later my phone rang and it was my friend calling to thank me for the “still warm” pie.  We talked for a few minutes and without asking she shared her very serious diagnosis and her fears.  My heart ached for her… because of what she faces… and because I had no answers.  All I could offer her was my concern… and food, whenever she wanted it.   She thanked me again, and after a few more minutes, we said goodbye.

Even though I cannot fix anything for my friend, I am glad that I followed my instinct to reach out.  Though it is painful to know that she is suffering, I have shown her in my own way that I care.  Henceforth, I will keep her in my prayers, hope for a miracle, and be thankful for the mistake that brought me such a rare and meaningful opportunity.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“SMART” begins again… and to celebrate: Apple Pie!

21 Oct


Last week began another year of SMART reading for those of us who volunteer with this organization.  As I’ve mentioned many times, I am a huge fan of the SMART program because its’ goal is to help young people become “confident and successful readers.”  Each week from mid-October to mid-May, volunteers spend one hour reading to two children… and once a month each child receives a book to keep.  It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and it’s so very important to their educational success.

The SMART website states that:  Learning to read is one of the most important steps in a child’s life, laying the vital foundation for future knowledge and education. Prevailing research proves that shared book reading and the availability of books in the home during a child’s first, formative years are the strongest predictors of early literacy skills. SMART provides both.

I’ve been a SMART reader for a long time – and I hope to continue to be one for many years to come.  Reading to my own children when they were younger was a favorite activity for me.  I still have most of their books and I plan to read them with my grandchildren one day… and until then I will be happy sharing those same books with children who have not yet heard the stories.

And now for the funny (as in a little bit strange) part of my week… Last Monday I met a young woman named Ally who seemed very familiar.  It took a little while for me to realize that I was her SMART reader more than a dozen years ago!   Ally then told me that she still has all of the books that she received through the program – which I think is a very good indication that she enjoyed her time in the program.

The next day I made an Apple Crumb Crust Pie for Ally’s mom, Cathy.   While I’ve not seen Cathy in a long time, at one time we were volunteers together… and I’d just been reminded that those moments spent volunteering are pretty special indeed.

It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.
S.I. Hayakawa

SMART readers are always needed – If you have an hour a week to give to SMART, and live in Jackson County, please call this number: 541-734-5628, or go to their website, www.getsmartoregon.org.  Thank you!

 

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