Tag Archives: apple pie

Am I just baking or ….?

12 Aug

The summer after I graduated high school, a boy that I really liked drowned. I was only seventeen, and somehow in my young heart I thought he was “the one.” For quite some time I did not know how I would continue to live. Truly, it was devastating.

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Prep for A Raspberry Peach Cobbler

I needed to find comfort from someone in authority, so I went to the Baptist church up the street (where my little sister was in Bible school) and asked to speak with the minister. When I told him what had happened, the first question he asked me was “Did he accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior?”  I just looked at him and stammered, “Well, he was Catholic” and then he said, “Unless he had accepted Jesus, he is in Hell.”  This was not helping… and so I left quickly and decided to call the minister from my own church.  When I reached him, I told him I needed to talk to someone and he told me to come right away.

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Gluten Free Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

When I arrived, he invited me into the house where I’d babysat for his kids many times. After I told him what had happened, he shared some thoughts on the Presbyterian view of the afterlife (Hell was not emphasized) and after a while I felt better and got up to leave. If only he had not added these parting words: “Karen, you had me worried.  I thought you were going to say you were pregnant.” This was not what I needed to hear from the man who’d been my pastor for ten years.

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A Cobbler to Celebrate a Legal Marriage!

Two different men of faith, and with both I was left feeling completely lost and alone. No one suggested counseling – or even prayer – at that time, which is too bad because  I know I could have used it.  What did help me way back then was something that still sustains me to this day. Baking.  I began to bake every day. I brought cakes and cookies and all kinds of goodies to all of our friends, relatives, and neighbors.  Death was something out of my control, but baking—I could handle that.

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A Chocolate Cream Pie in honor of my friend’s Dad’s passing

Perhaps this is why in the last few months, I have baked many, many pies. Baking grounds me, makes me feel better, and when I am baking, I am putting all of my heart into the process.  It doesn’t hurt that it brings smiles to the folks that receive the fruits of my labor.  I think  perhaps I have found a delicious way for God to work through me… and that feels like the best comfort of all.

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A Four Berry Pie

“Where love is, there God is also.”  Mahatma Gandi

 

Happy Pi Day!

14 Mar

Early this morning I received a shout out from my friend, Karen, wishing me a “Happy Pi Day” and that set the stage for the day.  I am sure I would have remembered it sooner or later, but it was nice to get the word “pie” on my “to-do” list right away.

pi day quiche prep

It took a trip to the store to gather some ingredients before I could bet started… apples, mushrooms, eggs… and then the pie making began. It was far from an orderly process, but before long, I had made the pie dough made (two kinds – one “regular” and one that was gluten-free). Then it was time to cook the vegetables for the quiches – one with broccoli and mushrooms and one with asparagus.  When those two pies were in the oven, I got the apple pie going. Finally, after a few hours, I had three pies sitting on my counter.

three pie are

Looking at those three pies on my counter made me think back to high school geometry class (it is pi day after all!)  From what I recall, at the beginning of the year, my head felt like it was swimming, but my teacher, a very patient woman named Mrs. Simmons, explained it all.  Before long, I was able to recite theorems, solve for x and y, and I learned that math could be fun.

Mrs. Simmons

Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever properly thanked Mrs. Simmons for guiding me through geometry that year and it is too late to do so now.  Claire Anita Simmons passed away nearly six years ago (I just looked it up).  I would have so loved to gift Claire Simmons a pie with my deepest thanks for sharing her love of math through teaching.

Instead, the three pies found homes with my friends. One, a teacher, was thrilled to have the Apple Pie to share with her children. The Asparagus quiche went to a friend and her husband as they face health challenges… and the Mushroom Broccoli quiche went to a friend simply because she loves my quiche.

As Pi Day 2016 comes to a close, my hope is that you all had a lovely pi(e) day. And, while you still have the chance, I hope you’ll take the time to thank a teacher who made a difference in your life.  Or for that matter, take a moment to thank anyone else you owe some thanks to. I promise, you’ll both feel good about it!

“A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

 

 

 

 

 

Home again, home again…

3 Feb

With yesterday’s snow on the ground outside, it was hard to believe that we just came home from two weeks by the ocean in Mexico. We’ve been going to the same town – Barre de Navidad – for a number of years and this year we brought a couple of friends with us and introduced them to “our” small Mexican town. At first, I wondered if they would love it as much as we do… after all, it is not a resort town in any sense of the word. Fortunately, they did. We all enjoyed sitting on the beach, playing games, eating tacos (thank you Ritchie Ruiz!), and sipping the local beer. It was really a wonderful time.

gandj

George and Joyce

Emile and me

Emile and me

Before going to Barre, I collected an assortment of gifts to bring along. Usually when you sit on the beach, vendors approach selling their wares.  Most of the time, we say, “No, gracias.” However, I would also ask, “Tienes ninos?” Most every vendor did have children, and then I would ask how many and their ages. Once this was determined, I would let them choose a gift for their kids. It didn’t cost me much, was fun for me to do, gave me a chance to practice my Spanish… and I made friends along the way!

gifts for Mexico

Beanie Babies, Crayola Crayons and Pencils, etc.

We had friends visit us in Barre as well. David and his wife, Rosalba, used to live in Ashland but now have returned to their home near Guadalajara. When they know we will be in town, they make the long drive to spend time at the seaside with us.  They are salt of the earth folks and we feel like a part of their family. Somehow we communicate quite easily because hearts will find a way to do that if you give them a chance!

Ramirez family

Leslie, Miriam, Rosalba, and David

Because I really need to make pies, I brought along ingredients to make a few. I hauled several pounds of cookie crumbs and a half dozen pie tins through TSA (I wonder if that even seemed strange to them?)  Of the five pies I made, three were coconut cream and two were chocolate cream and  I know at least two were delicious as we shared them with our friends.  One of the three pie “gifts” went to an old man recovering from a recent illness. He didn’t really know me but we had stayed at his inn about five years ago. I walked in and (all in Spanish) explained that we had once stayed there, that our friends stayed there the week before, and that we really loved Barra all while holding the pie.  I sensed his confusion and finally blurted out, “Esto es un regalo… gracias por todo. ” The smile that appeared on his face was absolutely glorious! Lesson: Next time, lead with the part about the gift and maybe those other details won’t even be necessary!

pie prep in barra

Parts of the pie-making process

coconut cream pie in Barra

Coconut Cream Pie

marketplace bowls

A trip to Mexico wouldn’t be complete without a day at a local crafters market. The bright colors of the pottery and the array of shining silver jewelry are stunning!  I’d love to take it all home with me… but alas, that is not possible. Instead, I limit myself to a few items as gifts and a few more as colorful reminders of our time there.

Market Vendor

Jose Ruis Montoya and Artesanias Huichol

Beach items

Gifts from the Sea

Each time as we walked the beach, I took a bag to pick up debris because I really feel that Barra is my beach and I want to do my part to take care of it. Occasionally we would find evidence of the recent hurricane but, all in all, the playa was pretty clean. I found this spigot and couldn’t leave it behind though I don’t know what I’ll do with it yet. The beach glass is something my Mom used to collect and I think of her each time I find a piece.

At the end of two weeks, it was very hard to leave Mexico behind because I feel so comfortable and at home there. It was shortly after returning from Barra five years ago when I began my pie project because I realized just how much I have to be grateful for. For many reasons, I think that a part of me will always remain in Mexico even when I am home again… And, really, that is as it should be.

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”  Confucious

 

 

Time for an Epiphany?

6 Jan

Noah's Pie

A Pie for Noah on his Birthday

It’s a bit late to say this but, but I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!  My hope is that the year to come brings you more joy than sorrow, more prosperity than hardship, and enough love and support to help you grow into your best self.

On a very sad note, this week my cousin Wayne lost his battle with cancer. Wayne was funny, smart, and big-hearted and he’s left us way too soon. My heartfelt sympathy goes to his family, friends, and loved ones.

wayne

Among the many other thoughts crowding my head these past few weeks has been the issue of homelessness. Each week, our church opens on Monday to offer shelter to those without homes.  We are fortunate that there are many wonderful volunteers who serve as hosts on these nights.  For my part, I try to make sure that there is a warm pot of soup available for those weary souls.

Sue J's pie 1

Over the time that I’ve helped with this mission, I have become familiar with some of our guests and will check in with them if I see them around town. Occasionally, I will buy them coffee or offer a peanut butter sandwich, but I know that even stopping to say hello is important. It demonstrates that these people exist… they are not invisible.

A few nights ago, I watched a film called, “Time out of Mind.” In this movie, Richard Gere plays a homeless man in New York City.  You don’t know much about what went wrong for his character, but you get a glimpse into how hard it is to be homeless.  In one interview, Gere shared that for a scene in the movie he stood on a street corner in Manhattan for 90 minutes begging for change. In that time he received about $1.50 but he said that not one person who gave him money looked him in the eye and no one recognized him at all.

sues pie prep 2

Recently, on a bitter cold day, I bought a coffee a local Dutch Bros kiosk. As I was waiting for it to be made, I noticed a homeless person across the parking lot and decided to give it to them. However, by the time I turned my car around, he was gone. Determined to find someone to share this treat with, I headed home scouting for someone in need.

When I passed through our downtown, I saw a man with a backpack walking his dog. I wanted to stop but all of a sudden was overcome with this thought “How presumptuous of me to think that he was homeless!”  This made me pass him by, but as I’d not seen anyone else around, I gathered my courage and drove back to him.

pie tilted

He was a man of about 50 and he walked with a slight limp.With my window rolled down, I asked, “Sir, would you like a latte?” The man stopped and looked at me for a moment before he spoke and then he said, “Yes, thank you, Maam.”  I handed it to him and said, “He’s a cute dog.” He said it was a “she” and that’s when he seemed to straighten up and grow taller. Then he stated his full name, and these last words, “US Navy Seal.” I thanked him for his service, and if you know me at all, you know I drove home crying.

According to many traditions, today is celebrated as the day the Three Kings visited the Christ Child”; it’s known as the epiphany.” This word is also used to describe “a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” My wish is, if  nothing else, that the next time you see someone on the street, that you not turn away, for there, but for the grace of God, go you or I.

upside down

A quiche for Sue and her new knee

Do not judge by appearances; a rich heart may be under a poor coat.       Scottish Proverb

I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized, I am somebody.  Unknown

The idea that anyone who has worn our country’s uniform spends their nights sleeping on the ground should horrify us.  Michelle Obama

 

A Crying Baby and a Few Pies

27 Oct

Late last month I boarded a flight to Portland for the first leg of my journey to see my daughter, Alex, in New York. I sat in my assigned seat, greeted my seatmate and waited for takeoff.  A few minutes later, a young couple with a crying infant headed for their seats – one row in front of and across the aisle from me. Moments later the baby’s cries became more frantic.  At that point, the mother handed the baby to the dad, and he sat there holding his screaming baby. The “mom” in me thought that by waving at the baby I could distract him for a moment, and maybe his cries would abate.  Instead, the baby’s Dad saw me waving and handed the baby over to me.

screaming baby

I was stunned!  The baby was screaming so immediately I tried bouncing him on my knees. Then I decided this situation called for serious measures and stood up and began rocking him from back and forth. The first flight attendant said that this was okay to do and that he’d let me know when we were ready for takeoff, so I continued to rock and talk quietly to the child.  In a matter of minutes, his cries became less frantic, and soon he stopped crying altogether. Then I noticed that the baby’s head was beginning to lean on my chest and before long he was sound asleep.  At that moment, the second flight attendant told me that I needed to sit down, so I handed the baby back to his parents. When I did that, the flight attendant looked at me in disbelief and said, “He’s not yours?”

No, he wasn’t mine, but I was happy to help because (let’s be honest) many of us have had that same experience. We’re stressed out for so many reasons (for example, packing and getting ready for a trip, rushing to the airport, etc) and of course, our baby picks up on that stress. Instead of being an annoyed passenger thinking “Oh no, a crying baby” I wanted to do something if I could and, fortunately, it worked out. The baby slept for the rest of the flight, Mom and Dad seemed more relaxed, and I got to soothe (and hold) a new baby.  Win-win-win!  What a way to start my trip!

high five

The reason for my visit to New York was so that I could help celebrate Alexandra’s, 27th birthday.  We did so by attending The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (cost: free!), The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (cost: free!), and the musical The Book of Mormon (SRO tix only $27!).  We also took long walks, dined around town, and simply spent time together. It was such a good visit and I know that I am a very lucky mama!

alexandra

Alexandra

While there I baked three apple pies… one for my brother-in-law, Mike, one for our friend Tom’s birthday, and one for my daughter’s amazing friend, Royce.

me and roycePie for Tom Minor

Royce with me and his Apple Pie and an Apple Pie for Tom.

Sullivan Street Bakeryimagine

Enjoying scrumptious bread at Sullivan Street Bakery and visiting Strawberry Fields, the John Lennon memorial site.

Once back home, I baked another Apple Pie for one of our favorite singer/songwriters, the amazing Martin Sexton, who opened Jefferson Public Radio’s One World Performance Series. Then, a few days later, I baked yet another Apple Pie for a woman who donated to a charity that I help with. It was such fun to surprise her with a pie to thank her for her gift. Finally, a Bacon and Roasted Pepper quiche found its way to a dear friend who is going through chemo. It’s something nourishing that she can eat when she feels like eating and will also hold for a few days when she is not able to do so.

quiche for JoAnn

It’s been a long time since I’ve written and part of the reason for my delay was that there were so many stories in the news that have felt especially devastating. Some days I’ve found it hard to read the paper or listen to the radio because the stories break my heart. At times like this, I wish I could do something magical and change the world for the better. Until then, I will continue to give away pies… and maybe, every so often, I’ll rock a crying baby.

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”  David Mamet

Creating ripples….

14 Sep

This last month, in addition to baking almost every day,  I’ve had a couple of interesting “pie” experiences that I would like to share with you.

a quiche for Liz

A Quiche for Liz

The first occurred at a party for my husband’s team of managers.  One of the women there asked me if I was still baking pies everyday.  No, I answered, it’s more like a few times a month.  She then turned to her partner and said, “Karen baked a pie a day for a year.”  That’s when he looked at me and said, “You’re the pie lady?  You brought me a pie!”

pumpkin pie for Debbie

Pumpkin Pie for Debbie

I wondered how that could be for I’d never seen this man before.  When he told me that he knew my friend Shirley it all came back to me.  During my “pie year”, Shirley had asked me to bring a pie to this man because he’d been so very kind and helpful to her… and of course I said I would.  Then she told me that he would not want to meet me (he’s pretty shy) and so we arranged to leave the pie in a safe place near his house.  He told me that he had arrived home that night wondering what he would have for dinner and saw a pie sitting there.  He said that pie solved the problem!  How about that… one day I deliver a pie and three years later, I finally meet the recipient!

Quiche

A quiche for my friend in need

Then last week my husband and his team went to dinner with a business consultant and her husband.  My friend, Amey, was there and casually mentioned to them that Emile’s wife (me) had created a project a few years back, giving away a pie a day. The couple both seemed stunned and told Amey that their friend back home in Sacramento had read about my pie story.  She’d been so inspired by it that she decided to set up a pie stand (much like a lemonade stand).

The next day that same couple popped into the kitchen at the B&B where I am working (they were guests there…  another coincidence?). They were happy to meet me and so excited that they could go home and share this news with their friend. I gave them my card and hope that their friend will soon share her pie experiences with me!

judy's pie prep

Prepping an Apple Pie

Finally, several months back I baked a pie and a friend came to mind and I decided to bring her the pie. When I reached her on her cell phone and asked if she was at home, she told me no… and was in fact on her way to her sister’s funeral. When I told her the reason for my call, she thanked me and said she felt better knowing that I’d been thinking of her. A few days ago, I baked an apple pie and called that same friend.  This time she was home… but shared that her brother was very ill and she’d just returned from visiting him.  She said that she would love a pie and thought it might help to cheer her up.  It seems strange that I thought of her when she going through two very difficult times… but I was so grateful to be able to help in my own way.

Judy's Pie

An Apple pie for Judy

Though these stories are not extraordinary at all, what most surprises me is the fact that years after my project ended, I am still discovering how people – some whom I don’t even know – were affected in some way by the gift of a pie.

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa

Butterfly_Beauty

So many pies… and so many amazing friends

30 Mar

Something has been bothering me lately… and the “problem” is that I can’t remember all of the pies that I’ve made and given away!  Part of it could be attributed to getting older… or maybe it’s because I don’t write about the pies right away… or maybe that’s just what happens when there are nearly 500 pies to keep track of!

For example, my friend Debbie texted me today and asked if I was available for a walk.  It’s been a while since we’ve texted and I noticed a photo above today’s text. It was a photo she sent a few weeks ago of the gluten-free tart that I’d made for her Dad for his birthday.  Crazy, it was only a month ago… but I’d forgotten all about it!

Debbie's Dad's Birthday Pie

A pie for Ralph’s 85th Birthday

Then last week I made a  pie for a couple that live in my neighborhood.  We used to walk our dogs together YEARS ago and since then we don’t really see each other very often.  The strange thing is that when I found the empty pie plate on my porch yesterday with a note stating “Deeelicous” Thank you, R&L” I was stumped!  It took a little while before I finally remembered who I’d made that pie for… and that’s scary!  After all, it was only last week!

Pie for Rob and Linda

Apple Pie with Heart for Rob and Linda

To be fair, I’ve had a lot going on.  Once a week, I coordinate our church’s homeless shelter. This experience has given me a glimpse into the lives of folks that we might otherwise overlook because we are so caught up in our own “stuff.”  This service is greatly needed and I’m honored to be a small part of it.

Then, for the last month or so, I’ve been helping to cater events at the Ashland Elk’s lodge.  Usually our lodge entertains about 30 events a year, yet this March alone we had seven!  This has been a lot of fun… and I’ve gotten to know some great people in the process, but it has also kept me pretty busy.

However, I wasn’t too busy that I couldn’t bring a pie to a dear friend. A few weeks ago Merry sent a group email to friends and family letting us know that she’d been recently diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.  As soon as I could, I brought her a quiche and as we visited, she shared the story of her friend who had died late last year.  This friend had cancer and when asked what she wanted, she told Merry that she wanted other women to know the symptoms to watch for so that they could be proactive and get help as soon as possible… because with early diagnosis, the chances for recovery are much improved. And leave it to Merry to get that message out there with a bang!

Pie for Merry

Apple pie for Merry and Mike

Yesterday Merry’s story and photo appeared in the Medford Mail Tribune.  I beg you all to read it and share it with the women in your life.  Tell them to be aware of the symptoms for reproductive cancer… and to keep track of them on this symptom calendar and then bring that information to their doctor.  Don’t wait!  As Merry says, these cancers are quiet… but not silent, and the quicker you act, they better your chances.  Our hope is that by sharing this message, women will recognize early that something is wrong and have the confidence to do something.  Please pass this important message along…. and thank you so much for doing so!

Merry and Mike, smiling as always!

“Everyone suffers some injustice in life, and what better motivation than to help others not suffer in the same way.”
Bella Thorne

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