Tag Archives: chocolate pecan pie

What Matters Most….

30 Sep

One silver quarter; two “train-flattened” quarters

One of my favorite hobbies is collecting coins.  I’ve done this for years and love the thrill of finding a new coin for my collection.  I don’t know why I have this fascination with coins… but I imagine it has something to do with the fact that my Dad was a coin collector.

While Emile and I were traveling back east last week, we had the chance to take an early morning walk along the Hudson River.   We followed a seldom used path that was near the train tracks and walked and talked our way through an hour or two.  Twice we saw trains from the city speed past us;  sleek and powerful they thundered by and were gone.

As we neared our destination, I noticed that this was the first time where a road met the train tracks.   That meant that people could get to the tracks easily in this location… and if that is true, then there was a good chance that we might find what I call “train coins.”  These are coins that have been left on the tracks and that have been smushed by the trains as go by.  I’ve heard it’s illegal to put a coin on the track (a train might derail) so I never put a coin on the track, but I have collected quite a few coins after they’ve been left there by others.

On this day, Emile found the first coin.  It turned out to be a smushed quarter.  You could still feel the ridge on the outer edges of the coin, but it was nearly doubled in size.  Where there is one “train” coin, there are likely to be others… and within minutes, I too found one.   Sounds silly, but finding these coins felt as if we’d won a scavenger hunt.  Then later that day, after I’d made a purchase I heard a distinctive sound as the clerk dropped the change into my hand.  It was the sound of a silver coin.   What a fun surprise!

Recently, a family that we know had a surprise of their own.  Early one morning a few weeks ago, a fire erupted in their home.  Fortunately, the husband, his wife, and their son, all escaped injury.   Unfortunately, they lost everything in the fire.  It was devastating.  But since that day, the family has been amazed by the friends and family and members of the community who have rallied to their aid.

The Chocolate Pecan Pie I brought for the Knudsen family

Yesterday we attended a fundraiser for the family at the lodge on Mt. Ashland.  Mt. Ashland is a special place for this family because Malone, the husband, has been working there for many years, and it is also the place where he met his wife, Sasha.  It was a beautiful day on the mountain and a large group of friends came to wish the family well and offer their support as they danced to music performed by members of the East Main Band.

Near the end of the event, Sasha sang with the band for a few numbers, but before leaving the stage she spoke to the crowd.  As I listened to her thank everyone for what they’d done, I watched Malone.  His glistening eyes were on his wife – and the love, admiration, and gratitude he felt was palpable.  In fact, by the time Sasha finished speaking, most of the eyes in the room were tear-filled.

It was an important reminder that while there are material things that we enjoy (in my case, coins), what really matters in life is being with the people that we love.  Anything beyond that is just a bonus.

In the end, what matters most is how well you lived, how well you loved, and how well you learned to let go.  Unknown

Donations for the Knudsen family can be made at the Umpqua Bank in Talent, Oregon (541) 535-3394.

Day 294: International Year of Cooperatives

25 Jan international y.of. coops

 International Year of Cooperatives is intended to raise public awareness of the invaluable contributions of cooperative enterprises to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The Year will also highlight the strengths of the cooperative business model as an alternative means of doing business and furthering socioeconomic development. From Argentina to Zambia, the 1.4 million co-operatives across the globe will be celebrating and showing how they build a better world. (from the UN website

On October 31 of last year, the United Nations General Assembly launched the International Year of Cooperatives.  Cooperatives are businesses that are owned and managed by their members.  In southern Oregon, there are several cooperatives that you might have noticed: Rogue Federal Credit Union (RFCU), the Grange Coop, Ashland Food Coop, and the Medford Food Coop.  Recently, Bill Meyer of KMED, interviewed managers of those coops on RFCU’s Living Local Blog (hosted by Gene Pelham).  You can link to that interview here.   Two things that I learned from that interview are that those four cooperatives provide jobs for more than 600 people in southern Oregon and they have combined gross sales of $113 million.

Tonight my husband, who manages the Medford Food Coop, was at a coop meeting. I thought I would surprise him and his team with dessert. Shortly after their meeting began, I walked in with a Chocolate Pecan Pie (still warm from the oven) to help them keep up their strength for the tasks at hand.

As I drove home, the aroma of that pie was still present and smelled so delicious, it’s a wonder I was able to give it away at all!

Day 286: Lorelie

17 Jan

My sister Nancy had her first child when she was only nineteen.  Maybe she knew that her time on this planet was limited and so she did what she could while she was here.  Or perhaps she wanted to leave a legacy because she saw so many of her peers leave too soon.  Whatever the reason, Nancy had two boys that she saw to young adulthood before she died.

After we lost Nancy, my sister Janice and I tried to fill up the space that she left for the boys.  Janice lived nearby and did quite a bit for them.  I lived 3,000 miles away and did what I could.  Eventually my nephew Jimmy moved out to the west coast.  After that I was able to see him more often and when his daughters were born I was only a few hours drive away.

Yesterday, Jimmy and his girlfriend Pearl came to visit me and they brought along his daughter Lorelie.  This child has the beauty of her mother and the impish energy her father had at her age.  But what’s most amazing to me is how much she looks like her grandmother, Nancy.

This morning Lorelie and I made a Chocolate Pecan Pie to take back home with them.  She helped stir and taste the batter and she licked the bowl when we were done.  She absolutely wore me out in just a few hours…but I wouldn’t miss a visit from her for the world.  And one of my life’s goals is to be the best Great Aunt I can be… for my nephews, for their children,  and especially for Nancy.

To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.
Thomas Campbell


Day 276: Rock Star Pie

7 Jan

This morning I started looking for recipes of pies that I have never made before. One caught my eye – it’s called Chess Pie. I thought that a pie with this name might be black and white (like a chess board) but one source said that it was a pie that was made when “pie ingredients” (read fruit) were in short supply. An enterprising person created this recipe and supposedly said it was “just pie” which eventually became known as Chess Pie.

It’s a traditional southern pie and is basically a sweet custard with the addition of cornmeal. It sounds interesting… and probably is good but I am not ready to make it for someone without tasting it first myself. If someone out there has made it, I would love it if you would share your story.

Instead of a new pie, I opted for one that I have made a few times before… Chocolate Pecan Pie. To me it is among the best of pies for it has nuts, chocolate, and it is delightfully rich. Best of all, it is fairly quick to put together which is a plus when your schedule gets a bit hectic.

My intended pie recipient is a friend who lives nearby but because he travels quite a bit I don’t see him very often. My goal was to surprise him and therefore I did not call ahead to make sure that he was home. When I got to his house and knocked (and knocked again) I should not have been surprised when he did not answer. I walked a short distance to his neighbor’s house and he assured me that my friend was home so I went back to his house.

Again I knocked and called out and then finally gave up. As it was getting dark I walked back to the neighbor’s house and told him that since I could not reach my friend I wanted to gift the pie to him. He thanked me and told me that he was meeting up with his band tonight and he would share it with them. I hope that it both nourishes and inspires them.

After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Aldous Huxley

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