Tag Archives: Quiche Lorraine

Finding… and Sharing Joy

26 Sep

A little more than a month ago I took a  trip with my sister to begin the process of emptying our Dad’s condo in Florida. We thought the process would go faster, yet each time we picked up an item it would bring back a flood of memories. At first we were chiding ourselves for taking so long to complete the task.  Soon, however, we came to the realization that we needed to take our time to honor the memories and feel the emotions that bubbled up.  We needed to find joy in our sadness.


My Mom and Dad with me at 1 week old.

The day after I returned from that trip, I gave a pie making demo at the Ashland Emergency Food Bank. In the front row sat a very accomplished doctor.  While I was preparing the pie dough and rolling out the crust, he asked lots of questions and was even taking notes. When I lifted the crust to place it in the pie dish, he was clearly amazed at how easy I’d made it look.

At that moment I stopped and asked him, “Dr. John, please tell me how many x-rays do you think you’ve read in your career?”  He seemed perplexed but answered, “About 40,000.”  I then replied, ” I am going to guess that you can read an x-ray a lot better than I can.  And because I’ve made hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pie crusts, I can probably do it a little better than you.  It just takes practice.”

The kind doctor laughed knowingly and then I encouraged the rest of the folks there to enjoy the process of learning to make pies.  The cost of ingredients is nominal and if you screw up terribly, you’ve only lost a few dollars and maybe even learned a valuable lesson. More than likely though, you’ll end up with something tasty.  I’ve given away more than 500 pies, and not one person has ever called to complain that their pie wasn’t perfect!


A Rustic Blueberry Peach Tart for our friends Russ and Sarah

In an article entitled “Seven Strange Questions to Help you Find your Life Purpose“, author, Mark Manson, asked this question: “WHAT IS TRUE ABOUT YOU TODAY THAT WOULD MAKE YOUR 8-YEAR-OLD SELF CRY?”

Manson goes on to explain that as kids we did things for the sheer joy of doing them and somewhere along the way to growing up we stopped doing them. I’ve been mulling about that question a lot and on our last camping I took along water colors and paper and painted a few pictures. I did not do this because I am hoping to become a famous artist but rather because it made me feel happy.


A Quiche Lorraine for Ed 

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately, it is pretty clear that the world could use more happy people.  While I don’t have the answers on how to fix all that is wrong, I do hope to encourage a few of you to remember your 8-year-old self and ask her what she misses doing now.  Maybe she wishes you were painting, or dancing, or singing.  Or maybe she wants you to spend some time in the kitchen baking someone a pie and spreading a little joy.

“Find where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy, is to miss all.”  ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

P.S. A few weeks ago I met a woman named Sylvia at Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport (what are the odds?). Soon we were talking about pies and she told me she knew a woman who gave away a pie a day for a year.  I said… “But it was me who did that.” Afterwards, Sylvia sent me this link. In her Ted Talk, Vicki Hardin Woods says that I inspired her to give away a year of pies!  How sweet is that?

Life is for the Giving

11 Mar

Hand-painted sign at Gold Beach

A sign on one of the “cat” houses in Gold Beach

It’s hard for me to believe that I used to write a post on this blog EVERYDAY and now I find myself struggling to write once a month! It’s certainly not that I don’t have a lot to share… I just get caught up in the “busy”ness of living and at the end of the day am too tired to write about the moments that I have been blessed to share.


And there are so many pie stories to tell!  For example, last month, Emile and I took a trip to Gold Beach to have a special dinner at Anna’s by the Sea for Valentine’s Day.  We wanted to thank chef/owner Peter for getting us a reservation on short notice, so we brought along a frangipan tart.  Our drive was truly enhanced/tormented by the aroma of that tart but it was worth it because I think that Peter was pleasantly taken aback by our gift.  I mean, really, who brings dessert to a chef?

Peter's Pie

Then about a month or so ago, a  friend’s wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. This was an “out of nowhere” diagnosis and because the family is so upbeat and courageous, they simply asked for us to pray for them.  Well, I did that, but felt compelled to also bring a Quiche Lorraine. This has been a very difficult journey for this family… and my heart aches for all of them, so in addition to offering prayers I will continue to bring them an array of yummy food (including soup, cake, etc.) until they beg me to stop!

cake for debbiesoup for debbie

Lemon Pound Cake and White Bean and Sausage Soup

A few weeks ago, my friend, Jackie, took photos of me making a quiche. Afterwards, we discussed who I might give it to. We decided to drive downtown and found a man and woman sitting with their dog.  A few minutes later, as I gave them the quiche, Jackie snapped a picture, and we left. Jackie noticed that the couple had just set the quiche aside… but later, as she drove by on her way home, she saw the two of them eating the quiche. Then the next night, as I was opening the doors to our church’s shelter, I noticed the very same couple and asked, “How was the quiche?”  That’s when the woman really looked me and said to her friend, “Hey, It’s the pie lady!”  I have to admit, that was music to my ears!

Giving pie to those in need

Sharing a Quiche on the Plaza

A few Sundays ago, I finally made it to Mt. Ashland for my first ski of the season.  I’ve been having knee trouble so that has been keeping me away… and the ski area is having its own troubles: lack of snow!  Knowing how hard the staff is working to keep the mountain open, I decided to make an apple pie to thank General Manager. Hiram Towle, and his team.  When we got to the mountain, Hiram was not in the office so I left the pie with a note.  It wasn’t until later that I found out where Hiram had been… up a pole trying to fix the Windsor chair lift.  Talk about dedication!

Hiram's PieHiram fixing lift

Apple Pie… and Mt. Ashland General Manager, Hiram Towle, way up on a pole fixing a lift

Most days, you will find me making something or other to give away…. because when I hear that someone is suffering or in need, I feel compelled to help.  Truly, I am very lucky – and very grateful – to be in a position to do this. And at my very core, I know that it is the right thing for me to do.

During my “year of pies” I would sometimes be asked, “You had to make a pie everyday?”  And my answer was always the same… I never “had” to make a pie, rather, I “got” to make one.  And really, we never have to show our friends and neighbors that we appreciate them but we can always choose to do so.  And, for me, that makes all the difference.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” Martin Luther King Jr.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Where is the “good” in Goodbye?

12 Feb


Quiche Lorraine

Recently I learned that an old friend will be moving away to live closer to family.   Of course I understand that this makes sense; this friend had lost his wife a few years back and has since been living alone.   His family loves him and wants to be there for him, if and when he needs assistance.  That said, it’s still hard to say goodbye.

Sometimes I wonder if learning to say goodbye is one of my life’s lessons and to be honest, I don’t think I have learned what I need to know yet.  Each time someone I care about departs, it feels as if my heart breaks a little.   With all the goodbyes I’ve said over my lifetime, you’d think that by now I’d have this figured out.   However, saying goodbye is still a struggle for me.

The good news in this situation is that I have been lucky to have been given a chance to say goodbye.  We are not always afforded this luxury in life and I am grateful for the opportunity to visit one last time.   It’s a chance to say thank you for being a part of my life, and in my case, it is a wonderful reason to bring a gift of food.

Today I made Quiche Lorraine for our friend Bob but this was not the first pie I’d made him.  During my year of pies, I surprised Bob one evening by knocking on his door and delivering an Apple Blackberry Pie (you can read that story on Day 184).  A week or so later I received a thank you note from Bob and I’d like to share a part of that with you here:

Dear Karen

Pie recipient 184 writes in a continuous state of disbelief to thank you for your thoughtfulness.  What a way to make a person feel on top of the world!  Karen, surely there is a place in heaven reserved for you.  I only hope Emile makes the cut.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


As I read that note, I was almost in tears until I read the part about my husband, Emile, not making it into heaven, and then I laughed out loud.  Bob had used his dry humor to lighten the tone of the letter while still conveying his sincere appreciation.  That note was such a treat to receive; I treasure it still.  Thank you, Bob, for sharing yourself with us.  We’ve been honored to know you and look forward to hearing of your adventures down south.

Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before we can meet again and meeting again, after moments or a lifetime, is certain for those who are friends.  Richard Bach

Here lies my past, Goodbye I have kissed it; Thank you kids, I wouldn’t have missed it.  Ogden Nash

Day 350: Helping a Friend

21 Mar

As sometimes happens, I was thinking about my pie of the day this morning and was thinking about a certain location.  I had not yet begun to make the pie when my telephone rang.  It was a friend and she asked if she could recommend someone for a pie… or perhaps a quiche.  The person she wanted to recommend was someone I knew whose family has had some challenges lately.

Once I heard about the situation, I jumped at the chance to help.  I asked what kind of quiche might me appreciated, and she told me that a Quiche Lorraine would be most welcome.  And so, of course, that is what I made.  I sauteed the onions, cooked the bacon, and grated the Jarlsberg cheese.  When all of that was done, I rolled out the crust, placed the cheese, bacon, and onions inside and poured the custard over it all.  Into the oven it went, and in about an hour, it was done.

Tonight, before I delivered the quiche,  I thought about how I might feel in my friend’s situation, and so I put together a small salad, some homemade dressing, a tiny bit of cookie dough, the quiche, and a bottle of wine.  I want this friend to feel totally supported and know that if help is needed, it will be there.  Isn’t that what friends are for?

Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it.  Cicero

Day 241: A Helping Hand

3 Dec

Yesterday my friend Jeanne told me that her neighbor was going through a very challenging time in his life. She briefly told me what was going on and mentioned that this neighbor might really appreciate a pie.

This morning I began preparing bacon to make a Quiche Lorraine and decided to call her to see if her neighbor ate bacon. She told me that she would find out and get back to me. A few minutes later the phone rang and Jeanne shared how she had called her neighbor and said, “I need to ask if you like bacon – you’ll understand why later.” She related that his response was a resounding “Yes!”

A few hours later I showed up at the neighbor’s house and delivered a still warm Quiche to him and his wife. He invited me in, introduced me to his wife, and then he showed her the quiche that I’d brought. He smiled and said “I know what we are having for dinner tonight!”.

It was such a short visit but I got the feeling that this man really appreciated the gift of a pie and I believe he also knows that he has the support of friends and neighbors at this difficult time.

Day 80: Jay

25 Jun

Quiche Lorraine

When I first visited Ashland in the early eighties, one of the first people that I was introduced to was Jay. Jay worked at a local restaurant and was kind of a celebrity. He was living in a small “house” affectionately referred to as the “love shack.” Jay knew all that was going on around town and knew where the people in the know were. I guess you could say that he was plugged into this community.

Jay seemed to know everyone and has friends in many places. I heard a story that when Meryl Streep was in the Rogue Valley filming “The River Wild” a friend of Jay’s spoke about him to Ms. Streep. Not long after, Ms. Streep stopped by the restaurant where Jay was working just to say hello. The guy has a certain je ne sais quoi about him!

For a while, I worked alongside Jay. He was a waiter and I worked in the kitchen making special desserts. One special memory that we share was when we delivered food to the Britt Festival for a special show that benefitted a local not for profit organization. I was asked to make a birthday cake for Jackson Browne which was in itself an honor. Then Jay and I were given backstage passes and were privileged to serve dinner to Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Brown and John Trudell. It was truly an amazing night.

It’s been a busy week and somehow I did not find out it was Jay’s birthday until a few days after the fact. Today, I made Jay a Quiche Lorraine and brought it to him. He’s been my friend for 25 years and we have shared a lot in that time. I want to thank him for his friendship, wish him a very Happy Birthday, and hope that he has many happy years to come.