Tag Archives: Ashland Rotary

A Cake, Some Cookies, and a Pie

7 Sep

Lemon Cake layer, lemon curd, blackberries, and whipped cream

As I’ve mentioned before, I am an Honorary Member of the Ashland Rotary Club.  One of the ways that I serve my club is by providing a cake for the Birthday table on the first Thursday of each month.  It’s an honor that I’ve had for at least the last dozen years.

When the first Thursday rolls around, you can be sure that I will be focused on making a cake.  Sometimes members of the club ask for a particular kind of cake – but most of the time, I’m on my own.

Yesterday, I decided to use the blackberries I picked as an ingredient in the cake – and that seemed to call for  a lemon cake, with lemon curd and whipped cream to complete the package.  As I was putting the cake together I thought it might be fun to share with you some of the process that I go through to take the cake from beginning to end.

My recipe is very similar to this one from Land o Lakes butter and I bake it in a 10 inch round pan that is greased and lined with parchment paper.  Once the cake is baked, I let it rest until cool.  Then I take the cake and slice it horizontally into three layers.   You can follow the steps in theses photos.

First layer

Second layer

Soaking the  top layer of the cake with simply syrup – to help ensure moistness

Using an offset spatula to smooth the whipped cream

Almost done!

The finished cake.

I’ll be making another cake for a fundraising event this Sunday for La Clinica.   I’ve participated in this fundraiser for several years now and love to help them in their mission to bring affordable health care to everyone.

And in a month or so, I will donate a cake to a fundraiser for a woman named Kathryn Veatch (aka Katie).  Katie plans to go to Vietnam to volunteer with a program called “Liddlekidz.”  Here is an excerpt from her flier about this trip: “Children in orphanages around the world may have food, clothing and shelter, but often they lack an essential ingredient for basic health and happiness – touch.  Without it, children often feel discarded, forgotten and even untouchable… ”  

Liddlekidz will bring a team of therapists (massage, occupational, physical) and various pediatric specialists to teach massage and nurturing touch techniques to caregivers in Vietnam. I met Katie at her yard sale fundraiser.  She told me she was accepting donations for the yard sale and the next day I brought her some clothing to sell – and some gluten-free chocolate espresso cookies – since I’d heard Katie mention to someone that she didn’t eat gluten.  I’m excited to support Katie in her quest to help children and if you’d like to contribute to her mission, you can do so here.

Lastly, (you knew this was coming) I made a pie yesterday for a couple who’ve recently moved into a new living space.  I’d been thinking about them all week and finally had a chance to put a pie together.  I mixed the rest of the blackberries I had picked with a little bit of cornstarch and some sugar, rolled out a crust, filled it with the berries and made some crumb topping to finish it.  I love crumb topping… and remember when I was about fourteen years old that I ate all the crumbs off of a crumb cake while I was babysitting for a friend.  Kind of gross to admit that now… and I don’t do that any longer.  Really.

In case you’re interested, below you’ll find my recipe for crumb topping.  Enjoy!

Crumb Topping Recipe

2 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Blend flour, sugar, and cinnamon  in a mixing bowl.  Add softened butter and use a fork (or your fingers) to combine the butter and dry ingredients until the mixture becomes uniformly “crumbly.”

“Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.”

 Dalai Lama

Life, gratitude, and pie

14 Jul

Life feels so strange right now.  Just last Sunday my husband and I drove our daughter, Alexandra, to the airport so that she could get on a plane that would take her to Denmark.  Alexandra has flown to Denmark many times before, but this time was different in one big way: she did not have a return ticket.  She has gone to Denmark to work for e-conomic, an online accounting company.  She was an intern with this company for one year and will be working with their clients in the United Kingdom.

I know this is a pretty awesome gig for a new graduate and I am very proud of what Alexandra has accomplished.  I guess I just wish that Europe was a bit closer.  It’s hard to find yourself with an empty nest and realize that your little birds are hundreds… or thousands of miles away.  That’s a long way for a mama bird to fly to give a hug… or cook a meal.  And a part of me is finding that a little bit of a challenge.

On a brighter note, a week or so ago I was honored to be interviewed by Nadine Natour from National Public Radio.  It seems that NPR had decided to do a week-long segment about pies… and I was lucky enough to share a part of my pie journey.  It was really surreal to be included in their story… and even more fun to have friends across the country tell me that they heard me on their radio.  What a thrill!

Another bright spot in the last few weeks was having a chance to meet with representatives from Guanajuato, Mexico during their visit to Ashland for the 4th of July celebration.  As you may recall from one of my previous posts, the Ashland Rotary Club has worked to raise money to help the poor people of Guanajuato and when we visited that city in May, I saw Francesca, a young girl that we met five years before. It was a very happy moment for me because it was clear that our work had made a difference in her life.

Enrique, one of the Guanajuato representatives, told me that he would see Francesca and if I wanted to send her a card or letter, he would deliver it for me. And so the night before he left Ashland, I brought Enrique a small gift for Francesca – and yesterday I received an email from him with a couple of photos.  Clearly Francesca was delighted to be remembered!

What has all this to do with pies?  Well, not much I guess.  But since I was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude I was definitely in a pie baking mood.  Yesterday, while I was baking a Strawberry Rhubarb pie, my friend Maylee sent me a message that she had play tickets and asked if I wanted them.  Of course I did!  And suddenly I knew that a warm Strawberry Rhubarb pie was going to go home with Maylee.  It was my way to thank her for her friendship and thoughtfulness.

And today… I made another pie.  This one was for Marian, a 93-year-old lady from church who was the only person who seemed upset that I had not brought her a pie during my “year of pies.”  I’ve thought about that for a while and felt that it  was about time to correct that situation.  Think about it… if it was within your power to make someone happy, with such a simple gesture,  wouldn’t you want to do so?

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.  ~John E. Southard

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. — Thornton Wilder

Day 349: Chet and Donna

20 Mar

Apple, Date, and Pecan Pie

Many years ago, I attended an afternoon party held at the home of a lady from the Ashland Rotary Club.  My husband was at work and he had suggested that I go to the party to meet some of the other members of the club.  However, once I got there I realized that I didn’t know anyone and felt a little bit uncomfortable. I think I was hanging out by the food table when Chet came over to me and said something like, “Are you famous?”  It was a silly question but it made me laugh and helped me relax and enjoy the party.

For the last few years,  I have spent time with Chet, Donna, and other Rotarians at the Rotary Garden.  It’s been such a great experience growing fresh vegetables for the Ashland Emergency Food Bank – and the camaraderie that develops as a result is pretty special too.

Last year at the garden, Donna told me that she had been inspired by my pie project (See Day 177).  I was honored that she was moved to do something nice for someone that she had never met… and she seemed delighted too!

Last month, on Donna’s birthday, she brought some of her special Lemon Posset to my house.  It was incredibly delicious and I loved that she included me in her birthday celebration.

Today I brought Chet and Donna a Dutch Apple Pie enhanced with dates and pecans.  I want to thank them for welcoming me way back then… and also for their continued friendship.  It means a lot to me.

Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.
Muhammad Ali

Day 292: Marshall brings Hakatai tiles to Helman School

23 Jan

Marshall Malden showing a mosaic to the class at Helman Elementary

As a member of the Ashland Rotary I have gotten to know quite a few of the local business owners in town.  We see each other at meetings of course but you can really get to know them better if you participate in one or more of the club’s activities.  In our club you might help with the Rotary Garden,  the Rotary Run, or the annual Holiday Dinner to name a few.  In addition, we have something called “The Circle of Friends” where a small number of Rotarians meet once a month at a member’s house or business and share a lunch.  At that time the host tells “the friends” about their business, their family, and their life.

A few years ago, Marshall and I were members of the same circle and one day he hosted the lunch at his place of business, Hakatai Enterprises.  There Marshall told us the story of his career and how he had traveled to many places around the world and how he was now importing glass tiles from China.  After he told us about his life, he took us on a tour of his warehouse and showed us some of the beautiful mosaics that had been made with the tiles.

Near the end of the tour, I saw several boxes of tiles and I asked him if there were ever any tiles leftover after a mosaic had been made.  He said that at times there were and asked why I was interested.  That’s when I told him about my friend Mia, a kindergarten teacher at Helman Elementary.  I told him that she is always on the lookout for things that her students can use for art projects and I knew she would have a field day with those tiles.   That day Marshall sent be off with a box of tiles for Mia.

A week or so ago I emailed Marshall and asked if he would please come to Mia’s class and talk about his tile business and to bring some tiles with him if it was possible.  Marshall wrote that he could come to the class when he returned from a trip and we agreed to meet at Helman School today.

When we arrived Mia was reading a book about the Chinese New Year to her students.  I thought, “We could not have timed this any better!”  After a few moments, Marshall was introduced and he showed the children some examples of the mosaics that had been created using his tiles.  Then he spoke a little about the tile making process and answered questions.  Finally he showed the students the box of glass tiles that he had brought for them.  It was really great to see the kids so engaged.

To thank Marshall for his graciousness and generosity, I had to do something nice for him… and I thought that he might like a Bacon, Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche.  It was the very least I could do to express my gratitude for his kindness.

Day 230: Steve

22 Nov

My husband joined the Ashland Rotary in the fall of 1995. When the holidays rolled around that year, he told me that there was a Rotary “choir” that was going to perform at their holiday dinner and since I liked to sing, I might want to join them. It’s true, I do like to sing, and I thought that I might enjoy being in a choir. On the first night of rehearsals, I showed up at Steve Groveman’s house and was met at the door by his wife Kathleen. Kathleen told me that the singers were rehearsing in the basement and showed me the way. I couldn’t help but thinking that the choir was pretty quiet and when I walked into the basement I saw four people there! “Oh no!” I thought, where was everyone? Well, it turns out, we were “everyone.” Uh oh.

Of all of the “choir” members, Steve was the only one I remembered seeing before. He had played the piano with gusto at the only Rotary meeting I had attended so I was sort of prepared for his exuberance but I was not really ready to be in a choir of five. That night, I went home and asked my daughter (who is fearless and a wonderful singer) to join us at the performance. She agreed, and as you might suspect, we all had a good time at the holiday dinner.

One of the things that I remember most about Steve is his warning that the most dangerous time for a young person is between three and five in the afternoon because that is the time of day when parents are still at work and teenagers are home alone. Steve wasn’t trying to scare us; he just wanted us to be aware.

Another memory I have of Steve involves baseball. One night when the Southern Oregon Timberjacks had a game, Steve told me that a man who was in the baseball Hall of Fame was going to be at the stadium. That evening, I brought my kids to the game to meet Harmon Killebrew and was able to have him autograph a baseball for my Uncle Bill (a huge fan!). It was amazing.

Just a few short years later, Steve Groveman was diagnosed with cancer and was gone from us way too soon. His passing was a huge loss for our community… especially for the young people he fought so hard to protect and serve.

Tonight, I brought an Apple Pie to Kathleen, in memory of her husband, Steve. I wanted her to know that though he may be gone from us, he is not forgotten. And that Ashland is a much better place for his having lived here.

Day 218: Lessons Learned

10 Nov

Today I shared a few lessons I have learned from being on this pie journey with the Ashland Rotary Club. I am about 60 percent of the way into my year of pies and have discovered some truths along the way.

The first lesson is that my words have little to do with the gift of pie that I bring. All that I need do is give my gift with sincerity and love and the rest will fall into place. People can see the spirit behind the gift and that is what matters.

A second lesson I have learned is that it is very important that I give my gift of a pie in person…. and 98% of my pies have been delivered this way. However, there were a few that were left at the doorstep because of a missed connection, etc. The lesson is that by being present with the gift, the recipient gets to see that you have made an effort on their behalf, and that is hard to overlook.

The third lesson is that it does not matter who gets a pie, but rather the important thing is that I give a gift each day. While I may think of honoring one person with a pie, if it is impossible to connect with them, then I should find another recipient. This project is about giving… not about a perfect plan.

The last lesson for this evening is that it is impossible to know the impact of our actions and that I should not judge a reaction at all. The most important thing is that I give my gift with love and the energy from this will continue on in some way or another.

Today’s pie recipient was determined quite randomly. At this afternoon’s Rotary luncheon, cards were passed out with the name of this website on the front, and only one of those cards had the number 218 written on the back. Gloria was the Rotarian that had that card and she received a Pear, Almond and Cream Cheese Tart… just because.

Day 164: Good News!

17 Sep

Saturday mornings I try to make it out to the Rotary Garden. There is a group of us who meet each week to work in the garden – and that may mean mowing, weeding or harvesting. Last year our club donated more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank.

Our volunteers vary from week to week because we all tend to be involved in many areas. There are a few folks that are always at the garden and then there are the rest of us. Last week I missed working at the garden on Saturday because I had worked late the night before. And even though I needed to take the time off, I really missed my time at the garden.

Today the number of gardeners was small, but three of us had brought treats to share. Since the food bank was closed for the weekend while it changes locations, our workload was a bit lighter than usual. Our new leader mowed the grass, while the rest of us harvested potatoes, onions, green beans, squash and tomatoes. And of course we found time to catch up with one another and taste the goodies that were provided.

It was during one of these breaks when one of our volunteers shared her good news with us. And while I can’t divulge her news, I want you to know how happy we all were to hear it. And that was as good a reason as any for a pie.

This afternoon I made my friend a sausage and mushroom quiche to celebrate her good news. And because she is such a busy person, she was not home when I tried to deliver her pie (nor did she answer my repeated phone calls). When she did finally return home and got my message, she returned my call and we arranged for her to get her quiche early tomorrow morning.

The weird thing about this? This woman had spent the evening at a friends house down the street from my house! Isn’t that strange? She was on my mind and down the street… but I had no way of knowing. Oh well. She knows that I was thinking of her and she will (eventually) get her quiche. And for today, that is the best that I can do.

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