How can it be so long since I have written? It’s hard to believe how much time has gone by! But to be honest, these past few months have been among the hardest of my life.
What that means is that my grand plan to figure out a way to “take care of my Dad” as he was on the road to recovering from his stroke has not been what I envisioned. On the plus side, I have been able to get him some great medical help. I’d heard from many folks that we have good resources here in the Rogue Valley and have found some WONDERFUL health care professionals to assist with his many needs. To begin, I would like to offer my thanks to Dr. John Sager for he has been a tremendous help to us both.
Dad has also been fortunate to be able to work with therapists like Brandon and Marilka from Providence Hospital and they have helped him to gain some strength back (and though I did bring them a pie for their kind efforts but have no photo to show!).
Lastly, my friend Barb Street has patiently worked to select hearing aids that would help my Dad hear. Like many folks that grew up in the Depression era, my Dad is very careful with his money. For years he has tried to “make-do” with “hand-me-down” hearing aids but they never worked. Last week Dad was fitted with a brand new pair that fit his ears perfectly and he could hear me when I spoke normally (not shouting). It was amazing!
That said, I don’t know what to do next. Dad has moved into a senior living environment for a short stay so that I can work on some catering projects but I can tell that he his not happy. And why would he be? His life has changed in so many ways and his daughter seems to be “bossing” him around. Stay tuned as the journey continues….
Gluten-Free Wedding Cake
Through all of this, I want to tell you that one of the activities that has kept me grounded has been baking… such as the pie for Brandon and Marilka… and a gluten-free wedding cake for my friend Judith Anne’s son. I’ve also experimented with a gluten-free/vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe from Babycakes and it is DELICIOUS!!! (Please try them as soon as you get the chance… you won’t be sorry!)
Finally, yesterday I decided to bring a pie to the Sargent family of Buckhorn Springs. This weekend, their daughter Lauren is getting married and I am spending this week helping to cater her wedding. I wanted to thank them for putting their trust in me and allowing me to be a part of this very special time in their lives.
“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook — try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, BE FEARLESS, and above all have fun.” Julia Child
Tuesday evening I left my home in Oregon to take a red-eye flight across the county to “release” my Dad from the rehab facility where he’s been for the last couple of months. The folks there say that he has reached the goals that they had set for him and that he is ready to find another place to live. Trouble is, my Dad can’t really live alone right now and the “assisted living” place that we visited left much to be desired. So, in a few days Dad will come and stay with me for a while. I’ll share more about that at another time… suffice it to say that this will be a tremendous challenge for both of us.
In the time before I left, I really needed to spend some time making a pie. It’s my way of finding my “center.” One of my favorite types of pies is Chocolate Cream Pie and, in fact, the last two pies I have made were of this type. One pie was given to honor a new baby named “Chloe” (Congratulations to Carla and Brandon and big sister Sophia!) and the other was given to a family that I had learned was leaving the area after having been here for too short a time. They were moving back to the mid-west to be nearer to family and as I listened to their story, I heard a touch of sadness at the prospect of leaving and knew that a pie would help ease the transition. I mean, really, how could it not?
When I make chocolate cream pie, I follow a recipe much like this one (but mine uses a bit of half and half in addition to the milk). Once the filling is placed in the cookie crust (I use crushed Oreo’s or these by Newman’s Own), you must let it cool completely. To finish the pie, I begin by making sweetened whipped cream. Occasionally I will add a splash of Kahlua to the whipped cream instead of vanilla for a more scrumptious taste… but a spoonful of vanilla works just fine too.
Once the cream is whipped, I spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and then I pipe it onto the cooled pie. Now, here is where some folks differ in what should happen next. I think the pie looks fine as it is… but somehow I can never leave well enough alone. Instead, I prefer to top it with a pile of chocolate shavings or a drizzle of melted chocolate or even by topping it with chocolate covered espresso beans. Someone close to me refers to this habit of mine as “gilding the lily“. I’d love to know what you think!
The superfluous, a very necessary thing.
Having been in the food service industry (catering, working in restaurants, etc) for most of my life, it is only natural that I would get to know the crew at United Grocers. They are a great group of people that are willing to help you with whatever your project may be.
Back when I worked in restaurants, at times I would pile my cart high with products and whoever rang up my purchases would help me load the goods into my car. They are all so helpful and full of information!
A few years ago I needed to make pulled pork for a friend and I had never made it before. When I got to Cash and Carry, I walked into the meat cooler and was overwhelmed. A moment later, Garret asked me what I needed. I told him what I was looking for and he had me outfitted with exactly what I needed in a flash. I was thrilled to have his help.
I am tremendously grateful for all of the help that these folks have given to me (and here is a partial list of the staff: Garret, Brandon, Don, and the “retired” Clint). Tonight I brought an Apple Crumb Crust Pie to the crew at Cash and Carry to acknowledge their terrific customer service… and to thank them for the all of the assistance that they have given me over the years.