Tag Archives: Mom

Because I can’t deliver a pie to heaven…

4 Dec

ImageLast night I taught my second class on gluten-free baking at the Ashland Food Coop and while I’m not an expert on the subject, over time I have learned some tricks that are helpful.  I’d told the students that we were going to bake four different goodies in two hours… and with the help of two very kind volunteers (Thank you Lynn and Alan!), I was able to accomplish that.

One of those items was a gluten-free Apple Crumb Crust pie.  The crust was made using the perfect pie crust recipe from the Simply Gluten-Free website by Carol Kicinski… and really, it is perfect!  It’s a simple recipe and although rolling out the pie dough requires a bit of patience, the finished product is flaky and delicious.  Many thanks to Ms. Kicinski for creating this recipe and sharing it with the rest of us!

The only challenge for me in preparing this dough for my class was that, once formed,  the dough needs to rest an hour in the fridge.  With only two hours of class time, I didn’t have the luxury of doing that.   Instead, I decided to make some pie dough at home, chill it, and bring it to class with me.  Once I demonstrated the method for making the pie dough, I put the fresh dough in the fridge and pulled out the dough that had been resting for a while.

With the chilled dough, I formed a simple fluted crust, filled it with apples, cinnamon and sugar and topped it with a crumb crust made from gluten-free flour, oats, butter, and cinnamon.  I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of the finished apple pie to show you.. or a recording of the delightful sounds coming from the folks eating it!  (It’s an easy recipe – I’d be happy to email it to anyone that’s interested.)

Because I’d made pie dough twice yesterday, and only made one pie, that meant that today I woke up thinking about making a pie for someone who was gluten-free… and since today would have been my Mom’s 78th birthday, I wanted it to be someone special.  It took a little while, but once I thought of the person, I knew I’d made the right choice.  The pie recipient is someone I’ve known for a long time.  She’s the mother of two young girls who are beautiful and precocious.  A number of years ago when she was a teenager, she watched my little redheaded girl for me.  Now she has a little redhead of her own.

Tonight I drove to her family’s home and was impressed by their beautiful display of Christmas lights and decorations.  My friend saw me approaching and met me at the door.  Her daughter stood beside her and immediately asked if I wanted me to meet their kitty.  I told them that I couldn’t stay, that I had only a moment to deliver the pie to them and mentioned that I hoped that they liked my choice of flavors because I know that not everyone likes pumpkin pie.

I needn’t have worried.  As luck would have it, Ariana said that pumpkin pie is a favorite at their home.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised…the serendipitous moments that I’ve come to experience by giving away pies has been truly amazing.   Sometimes it even feels like I have gotten nudges from angels. In any case, tonight as I get ready to call it a day, I believe that somewhere in the universe, my Mom knows that I was missing and thinking about her.Image

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.  Henry David Thoreau

Baking: An exact science or a way of life?

10 Jan

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

As many of you might imagine, I often have something baking in the oven at my house.  For me, baking has become as natural as breathing… and almost as life-sustaining.   As I child, I jumped at the chance to bake, and eventually became good at it.  Sure, I’ve had my share of baking mishaps – my first pie falling in the oven, my first loaf of bread that was so heavy it could have served as a doorstop,  but that is to be expected.  When we are learning a new skill, mistakes come with the territory. But when we make a mistake, we learn a lesson… and if we pay attention, we rarely do the same thing again.

When I was a young teen, my Mom told me that she would show me how to make Cinnamon Swirl Bread which was a big deal because my Mom really didn’t like to bake.  Together, we made a batch of bread dough and let it rise.  Once risen, my Mom took the dough and rolled it out into a rectangular shape and brushed it with melted butter.  Then she did something that seemed strange to me at the time.  She took the cinnamon-sugar mixture and placed it all one of the long sides of the rectangle, and then she rolled up the dough.  “But how does the cinnamon swirl happen?” I asked her, confused.  “That happens in the oven” my Mom explained as we put the loaves into their pans for the second rise.  It seemed magical to me and I couldn’t wait to see the finished loaves.

Well, now I know that’s not how it works.  When we took the loaves out of the oven, they looked beautiful, and smelled even better.  When we could wait no longer, we cut into the bread and discovered a “log” of cinnamon sugar in the center of each loaf.  There was no magic;  my Mom had just misunderstood  the directions.  Once we discovered the mistake, we laughed until we cried (and ate up every last crumb!)  I’m glad that my Mom made that mistake because in doing so she gave me the permission to do so as well.  What a gift!

Which reminds me of a conversation I had while visiting a friend recently.  Catherine was a nurse in the Navy, worked as an emergency room nurse, and is currently a nursing supervisor.  As I helped her clean up after dinner, she mentioned to me that she had been inspired by my year of pies and said that she could never do what I had done.  I was embarrassed because what she does everyday seems so much more inspiring.  Then I asked Catherine if she liked to bake.  She told me that because baking is such an exact science, she didn’t really do much baking.  Wow.  Perhaps because she deals with life and death issues all the time, she doesn’t want to add one more “science” to her load at the end of the day.  Who could take that kind of pressure?  In her job, if Catherine makes a mistake, someone could die, whereas in mine, we just end up with something that’s imperfect (at best) or headed to the trash (at worst).   Luckily for me, my job is much more forgiving.

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Apple Blueberry Pie

As is usual, I made a few pies this last week.  One was sent to a woman I’ve never met.  She read this blog and told me a bit about herself and the challenges she was facing and asked to be considered for a chocolate pie, and because I could, I sent her one.  It was the same Brownie Pie recipe that I’ve mailed to others (and the only “pie” that I feel comfortable mailing) but sending it off to this “new” friend felt like I was offering a glimmer of hope for better times.

The other pie that I made this week went to a friend who recently had a fire in her home.  When we spoke, she told me about all the things that have happened in her life in the last few years.  Just listening, I felt tired for her and so I asked her, can I bake you a pie?  “Oh you’re sweet” she said, “but you don’t have to do that.”  I know, but that’s part of the fun… I don’t have to do this “pie baking stuff”… I want to.  It makes me happy to do it, and I’ve noticed that the happiness doesn’t end with me; it tends to spread.  And that is a good thing.

Before I go, I wanted to mention that I also baked a few other treats this week because on January 24, I will be teaching a gluten-free baking class at the Ashland Food Coop and I wanted to test my recipes for clarity, timing, etc.  I’m very excited to have the opportunity to share my love of baking with others and I want to thank Mary Shaw at the coop for encouraging me to do this.

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Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

“We are each gifted in a unique and important way. It’s our privilege and adventure to discover our own special light.” Mary Dunbar

 

Day 275: January 6

6 Jan

The date of January 6 is known by several names.  According to a few sources, it is called Little Christmas and it is celebrated by people in various countries in Europe.   It is also known as the Feast of the Epiphany  – the day that the wise men came to visit the baby Jesus and thus revealed to the world that he was the messiah.  Still others refer to this day as Twelfth Night, a celebration which brings an end to the twelve days of Christmas.

For our family this day has greater significance – it is the day that we lost my Mom.  It’s been 23 years since she passed and yet the memory of that day is still so vivid.  Our world changed in an instant.  When I look back it is like looking at two pictures – before and after, or rather, with her and without her.

Anniversaries such as this one are hard to forget, and harder still to talk about.  It’s almost like a  gentle dance of words with my sister and my Dad…  because I think we feel the need to say we remember and yet we don’t really want to dwell in sadness.

It was very important for me to find a way to honor my Mom with today’s pie and when my friend Laurel suggested the Lithia Springs School I thought she had the perfect solution.  I called to ask for permission to bring a pie to the school and found out that at this time that there are currently 27 students attending classes. That would mean that I would need 4 pies!  Instead, I decided to prepare a large pan of Apple Blueberry Cobbler so that I would have enough to feed everyone.

Laurel came with me to deliver the “just out of the oven” cobbler and on the way we hurried in to Shop ‘n Kart for 3 half gallons of vanilla ice cream to make this dessert even more memorable.  We were greeted at the school by several of the students who offered to help us carry in the goodies.  One of the teachers had plates and utensils at the ready and she proceeded to serve the cobbler and ice cream to the students (and some of the staff too).  It was really heartwarming to see them all enjoying the treat.

One of the staff who had arrived a bit late asked who had brought the goodies and why.  I don’t think she really was expecting an explanation but I told her that this was my way of remembering my Mom. It only seems fair that since she always had a way of making things special for me, that I should bring something special to share with these young people who might not experience that very often.

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

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