Tag Archives: Coco

Summer Daze

11 Aug

Summer is flying by… and it seems that everyone around me is so busy!  Maybe it’s just that we all try to cram a lot of fun into these two months knowing that it soon will be over?  I don’t really know…  but it sure makes sense to enjoy this time while we have it!

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A few weeks back I delivered a blackberry peach pie to a dear woman who has been battling cancer.  I suggested that instead of cooking that night (since the outdoor temps were in the three digits) that she and her daughter have some of the warm pie with ice cream for dinner instead… and that idea seemed just fine with them.

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For a couple of mornings each week I’ve been helping a friend at her B&B, and have discovered some delicious treats that are quick and easy to prepare.  One day I noticed that there was an abundance of plums at the inn so I decided to make plum kuchen, or plum cake.  This recipe is similar to the one I used.  I hope that you’ll try it soon… with plums, or peaches, or berries!  I am sure that you’ll be glad you did!

me and jamie at the wedding

Last month I attended the wedding reception of the mother of one of my “other sons.”  Coco and Taylor have been close buddies since fifth grade and I was delighted to see Taylor’s mom, Jamey, so happy!  I wish her and Ian the very best!

backyard buck

Ashland is a deer friendly town… and some folks would say that isn’t okay.  As for me, I am always awed and amazed when I look out on to my fairly small backyard and see a few bucks resting there.  This is definitely not a sight I ever saw growing up in the projects!

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With Pam Marsh at the “Pie Social”

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Demonstrating the method to my madness 

On July 26, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank hosted a “Pie Social” to thank their many volunteers and supporters.  For one of the activities, Pam Marsh, the director of the food bank, asked if I would be willing to give a demonstration on making pie crust and I was delighted to do so.  My goal was to show what method works for me and also to encourage those in the audience to have fun while baking. Remember folks… it’s just a pie!  If you make a mistake, you’ll learn from it… and get better next time.  When Julia Child dropped the turkey she did not toss it… but rather, brushed it off and laughed about it. We all should be able to do the same!

P1040168Crater Lake

P1040169 The research vesselDinner on the dock at Wizard IslandDinner on Wizard IslandBucket of Crayfish on Wizard IslandKristin and Scott with the crayfish

Kristin and me on Wizard Islandphantom ship at crater lake Phantom Ship

For a few days this last week, I was honored to prepare meals for a group of researchers studying the crayfish problem (they are an invasive species and are affecting the newt population) at Crater Lake National Park. Among the many offerings served were several apple cobblers (since I didn’t remember to bring along pie pans) and that seemed to work out just fine. It was a bit of a logistical challenge…  but I don’t think I have ever worked in a more beautiful place!  I’m ever so grateful to Mark Buktenica (the aquatic biologist at the park) for allowing me this amazing experience.

owl on Dead Indian

On the drive home from the lake, I saw an owl perched on the fence post as I drove by and couldn’t resist going back for a quick photo.  It was absolutely magnificent to see this guy spread his wings and lift off.  It was a rare (for me) and wonderful sight!

amaroticos at the beach

Finally, I came home after working this week to see our son, Coco.  He had driven from Missoula with a friend and will be here for only a few days.  His Dad and I took him over to Gold Beach for a quick overnight visit.  That night we went to Anna’s by the Sea for dinner. When we entered the restaurant, Peter, the owner, teasingly asked me, “Karen, where is my …..ing pie?”  Funny, I had wondered if he would remember us; apparently he did.  Though I hadn’t brought along a pie, I had brought along a box of Cary’s chocolates for him… and I could tell that Peter was pleased.

Though it’s been a very hectic time, and while I am a bit tired,  what I am feeling now is a bubbling up of emotion and joy at my good fortune.  I pray that I will always remember how very lucky I am.

“God gave you a gift of 84,600 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?” William Arthur Ward

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

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

A Gift of Love and Support

15 Dec

anny's pie 2Yesterday I traveled to Missoula, Montana to visit my son Coco.  He’s been living there for almost two years, and our family was able to spend Christmas with him last year.  This year, however, that won’t be possible due to a number of circumstances and so instead I will spend some time with him before the holidays.  As I’ve not seen him for a year, I have been looking forward to this visit very much .

During the week prior to the trip, I was busy working on a few catering events, getting Christmas packages into the mail, and attending to myriad household details.  The morning I was to leave, I still needed to pack my bags and pay a visit to my Dad.

Even though my schedule was fairly full, before I left I really wanted to (read: needed to) make a pie for a dear friend who has been going through a particularly difficult time.  What I find intriguing, is that while she is facing this “life crisis”, she is also awaiting and preparing for what will likely be one of the most memorable experiences of her life.

It can be hard to fathom the juxtaposition of happy and sad events that life presents to us.  For me, my most challenging moments came when my daughter was born and then a few months later, my mother lost her battle with cancer.   I was totally unprepared to handle the emotional pull in two very different directions – caring for my newborn while saying goodbye to my Mom.

What I want to say to my friend by giving her a pie, is to let her know that this difficult moment will pass, and more importantly, to remind her that she is surrounded by a caring community that loves and supports her.   We will be there to help her every step of the way… and are more than honored to do so.

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. – Charlotte Bronte

Day 364: A Perfect Pie Recipient

4 Apr

Apple Blueberry Pie

A few years ago, I took a class called “Emotional Intelligence” at Southern Oregon University.  One week our assignment was to notice things that were happening around us and this is what I noticed, albeit a bit too late.  I had taken my son, Coco, shopping with me and we had pushed our cart to the checkout line but there was a person ahead of us with a full cart and so I knew we had a bit of a wait.  As I stood there my mind was racing and I realized I’d forgotten a few things.  I told my son to stay in line and hurried off to get the last few items.  It was only when I was back and it was nearly my turn to checkout when I “noticed” the woman in front of me.

She was a young mother, her baby was crying, and there was some kind of trouble.  Finally she became upset, said “Forget it”, picked up the baby, and left the store, leaving her groceries behind.  I asked my son, “What just happened?” and he told me that the young mother had not had enough money to pay her bill.  She wasn’t short much money, and she’d been dealing with a screaming baby, and maybe she was just a bit frustrated.  And if I had been “present” I might have been able to help her.  Instead, I was scurrying around being efficient.  The memory of that moment still haunts me.

Tonight I wanted to bring a pie to someone who needed a lift… and I had someone in mind, but I was unable to connect with them.  So, as I have done before, I put the pie in the car with me and drove to the store (Shop n’ Kart) hoping to run into someone I could give a pie to.  As I walked through the store I tried to be aware of who might need help.   However, even though I searched, I did not find anyone and so I approached the register to pay for my groceries.  Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder.  There behind me was Adam, our new Associate Pastor.

About six months ago I gave Adam and his wife Sarah a pie when they came to First Presbyterian.  Since he knew about my project, I asked him if he knew of anyone who might appreciate a pie.  He considered a few possible recipients and then mentioned a neighbor of his, a single parent,  that was going through a challenging time.  Perfect!  I asked him if he would please deliver the pie to his neighbor with my good wishes and he agreed.  Tonight he sent me an email saying that the parent looked so tired when they answered the door but was thrilled to receive the pie… and the children thought it was delicious.  Adam finished his email this way, ” …glad I ran into you, I think it was the perfect family to be the recipient of one of your pies.”  I think so too.  Thank you Adam for your help in finding the perfect home for my pie.

 “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Day 363: Mark

3 Apr

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

This year of pies is winding down fast!  As I thought about that the other day, a person came to mind who I had not yet acknowledged for giving me some good advice about gifting a pie.  That person probably didn’t even think much about the advice he gave at the time, but it has proven to be valuable on several occasions.

One of those moments occurred last year when I baked a pie for a man named Dave who was recovering from a stroke and staying in an assisted living facility.  Before I brought Dave the pie, I had an appointment to see Mark.  During our preliminary chat I told Mark that I had made Dave a pie and then I told him that I was concerned about bringing Dave a pie as his diet might be regulated due to his condition.  That’s when Mark told me, “Go with your intuition – you made Dave the pie, now just bring it to him.  Don’t over analyze it!  If Dave can’t eat it, he will give it away.”  Simple words with a great message.

After my appointment, I did bring Dave the pie.  He was thrilled by the visit and the pie – which he did eat a little of before sharing it with the staff.   Over the course of the year when my mind was fixed on a pie recipient, and then somehow I began to second guess my decision, I would think back to Mark’s advice and “just bring them the pie.”  I was never disappointed with the outcome.

Tonight I would like to thank Mark for helping me see the simplicity in the process of giving away pies.  I would also like to recognize Mark for being such a good friend and mentor to my son, Coco.  We are all so very grateful for his friendship and support.

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Day 360: Bob and Juli

31 Mar

Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream Pie

This morning I woke up early because I had a nightmare of sorts.  In my “dream” I was at a place where I was to cater a brunch and deliver the food at 10:30 AM.  However, when I saw the clock (in my dream) it was 12:00 noon… and none of the breakfast breads had been baked yet.  Talk about a wake-up call!  The only other food nightmare I’ve had involved a  guest at a wedding that I was making the cake for… but I had forgotten all about it… and I had less than two hours to make a wedding cake for 100.  Yikes.

Let’s just say I was happy to get out of bed after that!  I was supposed to go for a walk with a friend at 8AM, but the rain was coming down too hard for me… and so that was cancelled.  This afternoon I was scheduled to help at the Rotary Garden, but that too was cancelled due to the weather.  So, instead I caught up on my chores and made my pie of the day.  Last year I made a lemon chiffon cake for this couple… and that is why today I decided to make them a lemon curd pie.

Years ago, Bob worked with my son Coco and his friend Dylan to help them record their first songs on a CD.  Coco  had told me that they were working together… but I was still surprised when he brought home the CD and put it on to play.  As we listened to the music I asked Coco, “Who is that singing?”  “Mom”, he said, “it’s me.”  “No, really Coco… who is it?”  And that is only because I had never heard Coco sing before!  Here was this lovely voice emanating from the speakers… and it had come from the boy who lived in my house… unbelievable!

Juli has been the Superintendent for the Ashland School District for nearly twelve years.  She has had the unenviable task of doing all that she can to make sure that the Ashland School District is one of the top schools in the state, and possibly in the country.  To achieve this, it means that Juli is always preparing for and attending meetings with people all over the state.  She is relentless when it comes to the quality of education that the students in Ashland receive.

To Bob and Juli, I offer my deepest thanks for their commitment and dedication to the students of Ashland.  I am so very thankful for their tireless efforts on behalf of our children.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran

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