Tag Archives: ashland

Amadeus and An Apple Pie for Senora Chela

4 Mar

MozartA week or so ago, my husband and I attended a performance of the play Amadeus at Camelot Theatre.  What a show!  It had been a long time since I’d thought of the life of Mozart and his amazing talent and tragically short life but it all came flooding back that night.  The cast and crew did an excellent job of bringing this story to life – and filling my head with questions… about Salieri and about the music that might have been.   That night I  also learned the meaning of the name Amadeus; it translates to “love of God.”

Senora Chela Ribbon cutting

Ashland Mayor John Stromberg and Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks

The friend who shared this insight with me is Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks.  The very same Senora who is singlehandedly responsible for creating the sister city relationship between Ashland, Oregon and Guanajuato, Mexico.  That relationship began with a University exchange in 1969 and has continued on to this day.  This relationship has “been forged and nurtured over four decades by officials of both city governments, university and high school administrators and teachers, actors, artists, police officers, firemen, service clubs and — most of all — families” ( GlobalPost.com).

photo senora chela

Senora Chela Tapp-Kocks

Some of the “consequences” of this sister city relationship are as follows:

  • Several thousand students have taken part in the University Exchange
  • 80 marriages have taken place between Ashlanders and Guanajuatenses
  • Over 200 homes have been constructed in Guanajuato with funds provided by the Ashland Rotary Club

All this occurred because Senora Chela wanted to bring a little bit of Mexico to Ashland.   This is what she has to say about the program, ““The most important thing is the family relationships that we’ve maintained for 40 years,” said Tapp. “It’s people to people connecting with their city, their lives, their love, their passion. It has a life of its own.”  Last week to honor all that she has done – and continues to do – to make the world a friendlier, more connected place, I brought Senora Chela an Apple Crumb Crust pie.   She is an incredible inspiration and I am honored to know her.

“Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. ”
Margaret Mead

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 341: My Cousin Darren

12 Mar

Darren and me back on Staten Island

A few months ago, I returned to Staten Island to help celebrate my cousin Guy, and his wife, Diane’s, 25th wedding anniversary. My cousin and I were both married in the same year, 1986.  My wedding was in August, and his wedding was in October.  If you follow baseball, you may remember that the N.Y. Mets made it to the World Series that year. And won!  But that is beside the point.

In 1986, a week or two after our wedding, I moved to Ashland, Oregon, with my new husband.  Since that time, I have been back to Staten Island many times, but there are some people that I never get to see.  One of those people is my cousin Darren.  He is like me in one big way: he moved away from New York and only returns for a visit now and then.  The anniversary celebration was one of those times… and for the first time in more than 25 years, I spent time with my cousin Darren.

Darren was born the year that I turned 13.  The funniest (or strangest) memory I have from the time he was little was when I was walking with him (at about age 2) and my sister, Janice, who was about 5.  My boyfriend, Michael, was watching them with me and we were walking through the neighborhood when a lady came up to us and said, “The children are so cute… are they yours?”  I was fifteen years old!  and far  too stunned to say anything at all!

Darren and I caught up a bit at the anniversary party… and he honored me with a dance to repay me for babysitting all those years ago.  A few days ago I mailed Darren a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pie for him and his son, Tommy, who he named after his Dad. I want to thank him for the memories from those long ago days… and send him love and good wishes for the future.

Cousins are different beautiful flowers in the same garden – Author Unknown.

Day 340: Baby Elise

11 Mar


Ashland is a pretty small town and when you meet someone new and start a conversation, you are likely to find out that this new person and you have friends in common.  That was the case with Dustin and Tanya.  We met at the home of a mutual friend and shortly thereafter I found out that I knew Dustin’s Mom and her family pretty well. A short time later, when my husband needed to spend some time in Fort Klamath, Oregon, he stayed at a small place run by Tanya’s folks called, Jo’s Motel.

When Dustin and Tanya decided to get married last year, they asked if I would cater the event.  It was an honor to do so… and as you can see, they made a very handsome couple.

A few days ago, my friends Dustin and Tanya became the proud parents of beautiful little baby girl.  Baby Elise and Mom spent a few days in the hospital, and today Dustin brought them both home.  I’d arranged to bring them a pie as a welcome home Tanya/welcome to the world Elise gift.  I made an apple pie with dried cherries added in and topped it with a lattice crust…and because it was such a special occasion, I stopped to buy some French Vanilla ice cream to serve with it. We send our very heartiest congratulations and our very best wishes to the family.  We are so happy for you.

A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.
— Eda J. Le Shan

Day 303: El Caballo

3 Feb

Pelicans along the shores

Today we awoke to a beautiful sunny morning and before we went anywhere I wanted to prepare my pie.  Today’s pie was for our friend Dale, who is known by a nickname here in Barra de Navidad.  Somewhere along the line someone mentioned that he looked a bit like the famous Mexican actor named Alberto Rojas who is affectionately referred to as “el caballo.”  Ever since then Dale became “el caballo” to his friends in Barra.

The pie that I was making for “our” el caballo was a version of a pie made in Ashland, Oregon.  It is called Dick Hay Pie in honor of Richard Hay who is the principal theater and scenic designer for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Dick Hay Pie is made with three main ingredients: peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate.  Since I had brought peanut butter and chocolate with me,  I went out to purchase some ice cream at one of the local shops.  Once I got back to the apartment I made a chocolate cookie crust and let it cool while the ice cream softened up a bit.  Then it was simply a matter of sandwiching one thin layer of peanut butter between two layers of vanilla ice cream in the crust.  It was topped with a heavy drizzle of chocolate and then the pie went back into the freezer for about 8 hours.

With the pie taken care of, we decided to take a walk along the shoreline.   We saw more of the damage from the recent hurricane.  We also saw hundreds of pelicans in the area.  Watching them fly, dive, and land on the water made me think that’s what birds must have looked like in the age of the dinosaurs.

After our walk we met up with our friends and took a boat across the water to Colamilla for lunch at one of the restaurants along the shore.  I love that these restaurants are built on the beach, the floors are the sand,  and that the ocean laps on the shore just a few feet from the tables.  It is so relaxing!  This restaurant even had a few hammocks installed should someone need to take a short nap before the boat ride back to town.

Alberto Rojas, El Caballo

This evening we all met up and had an impromptu celebration at the hotel for el caballo’s birthday.   We sang Feliz Cumpleanos and toasted his health.  As we cut up the pie we found that it was so rich that one nine-inch pie was more than enough for 14 people!   I encourage you to make one of these pies for your next special occasion… it is easy to make and so delicious… and definitely worth it!

Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons. Ruth Ann Schabacker

Day 291: Garth

22 Jan luv shack

Garth lives just a few blocks from us and he is one of the most creative people in town!  We have watched in amazement as he has turned a small, nondescript house with a big yard into an incredible structure surrounded by beautiful gardens and artwork.  This happened over a number of years but bit by bit the corner where he lives has been transformed.   There seems to be no end to his imagination and I find that very inspiring.

The above pictured “luv shack” is also one of his creations and in addition to being a most remarkable piece of art, is also quite functional (maybe you’ve seen it on the highway?)   It has been in the Ashland Fourth of July Parade and made the journey to Burning Man in the Nevada desert.  Here is an excerpt from an article  in the Locals Guide about the creation of the “luv shack” written by Aaron Bloch:  This maverick formed his vehicle first and kept all the functions to a minimum. Gas, brakes, a turn signal or two, were all secondary to what his vision was for the Moonshine Luv Shack.  Pretty amazing, eh?

Tonight I brought a “Kick-Ass Apple Pie (topped with toasted Almonds) to Garth to recognize him for what he has done for our neighborhood – and for being an inspiration to dreamers and tinkerers everywhere.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.  Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!  ~Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!

Day 284: Rachel and Mike

15 Jan

A few months ago I wrote about a young man from our small town who was the victim of a violent homicide.   His name was David and he was only twenty-three years old. As a parent of two young adults I felt deeply moved by this tragedy and my heart ached for David’s parents.   As a small gesture I sent a quiche to his Mother and offered my condolences on the loss of her son.

At this point in time, the killer has not yet been found.  And somehow the residents of Ashland try to go about doing what they have always done while living with the knowledge that they aren’t as safe as they had once thought.  And, of course, for David’s parents, life will never be the same.

Recently I was told about a couple who are friends of David’s Mother.  For the past few months they have been helping her get through the most difficult time of her life.   I am very grateful that she was able to count on them for the help and support that she needed and hope they realize what a comfort they have been to her.   Today I brought them a Dutch Apple Pie to thank them for the gift of their friendship.    My hope is that we will all have friends like this when we most need them.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.”  Henri Nouwen

Day 223: Curtis Restaurant Equipment

15 Nov

A long time ago I worked at a restaurant in Ashland. One day the owner told me that we needed to replace a piece of equipment. He asked me to call a friend of his who sold equipment and to order it. Before I did that I found the model number and all of the details that I could locate and when that was done, I called his friend.

When I described the piece of equipment, the friend said he knew what we needed and that the machine in question was going to cost $800. That sounded like a lot of money to me and I told him that I would tell the owner and get back to him. And then I opened the phone book to the yellow pages and found the restaurant equipment section. Under that heading I saw this name “Curtis Restaurant Equipment”. I thought, “What the heck?” and called the number.

When the salesperson, Cheryl, answered the phone I told her what I was looking for and gave her all of the pertinent information. In a few moments she came back on the line and gave me a quote of $425. I thought I’d made a mistake and repeated the information once again and she confirmed that the quote was correct. “Can you fax a photo of the machine to me please?” I asked so that I could make sure that we were talking about the same item. When the fax came through I was amazed. My boss’ friend wanted to charge me nearly $400 more for the very same machine than this woman whom I did not know at all.

Of course, I ordered the machine from Curtis. I was extremely impressed with their prices and with their service… and was very pleased to receive a note card from them “thanking me” for my purchase. What a classy company!

This all happened many years ago… but memories like this are hard to forget. I have been a fan of Curtis ever since and will always recommend them. And to thank them for being good, honest, caring people I brought an Almond Pear Cheesecake Pie to the staff – Rod (and Donna), Cheryl, Krystal, and Alex. My sincere thanks to all of you for your emphasis on customer service. It is very much appreciated.

Day 215: U.S. Bank Tellers Rock!

7 Nov

This morning in my email I received an offer to buy a bamboo rolling pin recommended by Cake Boss Buddy Valastros on a site called Open Sky.

This bamboo rolling pin was $20 and that’s not a lot of money really. But I would like to suggest is that before you go out and spend money on a brand new rolling pin, try checking out your local good will, thrift shops, yard or estate sales. Over the years I have found rolling pins at all of these places… and they can usually be purchased for a few dollars or less.

For me there is something kind of cool about using a kitchen tool that has been used (and loved) before. It’s as if the tool has been passed on to you from someone on purpose… and you get to use it for a fraction of the cost of buying new. Now, if you are sure that you will be using that rolling pin for years, and money is not an issue, by all means by a new one. But if you are only going to make one or two pies a year, why bother?

Now I will get down off my soap box and tell you about a technique for making pie dough that I learned in a class I attended this past weekend. It was lead by Cory Shreiber. He and pastry chef Julie Richardson recently co-authored a rustic dessert cookbook. One of the suggestions for making flakier pie dough was to use a grater for the butter (as opposed to cutting it into small chunks) before mixing it with the flour.

I hope that you are able to see the marbling of the butter in this piece of pie dough. That marbling is what gives the dough it’s flakiness. For more tips on pie crusts, check out this page.

This afternoon I delivered my pie to the tellers at US Bank in Ashland. We have been customers of this branch for quite some time and have always enjoyed a very good relationship with the staff there. They have made the extra effort to make us feel valued and and always show an interest in our lives by asking about our family, work, etc. I want them all to know that we really appreciate the personal touch that they offer.

Day 211: Beau Club Bob

3 Nov

Today when I was preparing my pie, I thought of Bob from the Beau Club. We’ve known Bob and his wife Annie for more than 20 years having met them when we worked at Geppetto’s restaurant. Bob was (and still is) the owner of the tavern that was right next door to the restaurant. After work we would often go to the tavern to have a drink and play cribbage and listen to the juke box. Sometimes we might even play a game of pool. It was a comfortable place to unwind from our kitchen or wait shifts.

One memory I have from those days is from when I organized a 5 mile walk to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis that asked people to get pledges per mile walked. When I asked Bob if he would sponsor me, he took the form and wrote $20 in the per mile box. When I explained that maybe he meant to make that the total donation, he confirmed that he knew it was per mile. I could have hugged him because it was such a generous thing to do.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the tavern, but I still see Bob around town, and he always makes me smile for a couple of reasons. The first is because Bob always seems happy to see me and asks about my family. The other is because Bob is one of those quick-witted folks that can make jokes out of an ordinary conversation and he helps to keep me on my toes.

Today I brought Bob a warm Apple Pie to say thanks – for the fond memories from those long ago days and for being the generous gentleman that he is.

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