Monday, August 20, 2007

Make your pie and eat it too

Here are my kids proudly displaying their entries for the pie baking contest at church last night. The churchwide contest, sponsored by the high school department, brought in over 200 entries, which were judged and then served, along with homemade vanilla ice cream, to everyone after the evening service. Drew and Emma wanted to compete not just for the fun of it, but for the first place prize - an Ipod nano! Drew submitted Caramel Apple Pie and Emma submitted Vanilla Peach, two of my prized recipes. (For my peach pie recipe, click here) Drew even got creative with some leftover pie crust scraps, forming "G.C.C." (Grace Community Church) on top of his crust. The kids made their pie fillings, and I provided the homemade crust. Both pies turned out stunning, and the kids were certain they'd tie for first place. However, as we came to find out later, that with this many pies submitted for judging, they had to narrow it down by selecting 10 pies based on presentation in each category (fruit and non-fruit)and submit those to the judges for tasting. Unfortunately, ours just looked like plain homemade pies (except the G.C.C. on Drew's, but that didn't seem to get noticed), so they didn't make the cut to the tasting portion. Oh well, the judges missed out on tasting some pretty good pies, if we don't say so ourselves.

While our kids were busy helping serve and deliver, Rich and I had gotten in line and received some pie and ice cream. Rich had peach (but not Emma's) and I had a lovely slice of lemon cream. After we finished, Emma came rushing up to us with a big slice of her peach pie. She had been helping in the kitchen cutting up pie, when her pie came through. She knew Rich badly wanted a piece of it, so she hand delivered it to him, which just made his entire evening. And then, at the end of the evening, we found out that they didn't even cut Drew's pie up. It was in a warmer with a slew of other apple pies and it wasn't needed. So, we got to take it home! Yippee! If you don't win, at least you get to eat your pie. Rich said eating the pie was better than winning anyways!

Eric Bancroft hosted the judging, which was very fun. The judging was in the middle of the patio for all to see, with big-wig judges including elders and John MacArthur himself. The judges sat at black clothed tables and were given scarfs and black berets to wear (to look french) and even Pelligrino water in glass goblets. It was fun to see the runner ups - even some school-aged children - but the first prize winner was a graduate of the Master's College Home Economics department with her Key Lime Pie. I guess her parents could be proud of her, seeing that she put her college skills to use! I heard she currently works for Lawry's creating recipes.

It was a really great summer evening. French music was played, coffee was poured (in real coffee cups!) fellowship flowed, and a good time was had by all.

And now if you'll excuse me, I must go get a slice of apple pie for breakfast.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rich's Mom

Last Sunday, August 12th, we had to say goodbye to someone very dear, Rich's Mom, Dottie, known to her grandchildren as "Grandy." Many of you read my post on Rich's Mom's 85th birthday last March. Grandy was doing very well then, but unfortunately in May began declining in health. From May to early August, she was either in the hospital or in a nursing home, until last week, when the decision was made to begin hospice care, and she returned to her longtime home on Capistrano Avenue. She spent her last few days there, in the comfort and peace of her own familiar home, surrounded by her children and a very caring hospice staff. When she passed away on Sunday afternoon, she was indeed blessed to have her three loving children by her side.

As the preparations are in process for her Memorial Service and Burial, I have been reflecting on my own thankfulness for the way God blessed me through Dottie. The most obvious thought is that if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have my sweet husband, or my precious children. How different my life would be! She and Rich's dad, Frank, took care of him until I could grow up and take over (Like the way I put that?) Dottie is the one who carried Rich in pregnancy for 9 months, birthed him, changed his diapers, carpooled him to various events, clothed and fed him, and made him much of what he is today. I will be forever grateful to both Frank and Dottie for all they have done in Rich's life.

On a lighter note, I am thankful for some of the other ways she blessed me. In her day, she was an unbelievable cook, and being a foodie, I was after her recipes. Rich said, "all I want are Mom's cast iron skillets" and I have warned him even if we do get those pans that it was SHE that worked the magic, not the pans, so not to be too disappointed! (by the way, all 3 children want those pans so it will be interesting.) I do remember one day, over 10 years ago, sitting at her kitchen table while she handwrote the recipe for Dottie's Spaghetti Sauce for me. I felt so privileged. That recipe is GOLD. Rich would eat it every day if I would make it. There is one secret ingredient in it that people would never guess in a million years. Like I'm going to tell you!

From her kitchen came many delicacies that my husband has never forgotten. Just say the words "Dottie's pot roast" around Rich and see his face light up. Her potato salad was legendary (yup, got that recipe too). And one more honorable mention is "Dottie's Cool Whip Dessert" (notice the trend in recipe titles, "Dottie's" everything). One of my favorites to be sure. So I thank her for passing on to me, something that I can bless my husband with, and remind us all of her-those cherished recipes.

I am sad to think of Christmas and Easter without her. On Christmas Eve, we always have her wonderful stuffed filet of sole with cheese sauce (sounds weird but believe me, it's amazing) and I hope we always will. She opened her home every Christmas morning to all of us, even when it became too much for her in recent years, and we brought the food, she still wanted it at her house. There was breakfast casserole with bacon, Honeybaked Ham, rolls, and of course, her potato salad. On Easter there was always "the egg game" where she doled out ridiculous amounts of money stuffed into little plastic eggs. Not exactly the proper focus for the holiday, but nonetheless, unforgettable, especially to her grandchildren. More honeybaked ham, more potato salad (Don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining!) Lots of traditions that I want to carry on, because of her.

And, last, but not least, my house is surrounded with many items that will remind me of her. Yes, if you look around you will see over 50 or so Longaberger Baskets weaved into my decor. Dottie was the very first person to sell Longaberger Baskets in California, and her friends exclaimed when she urged them to buy, "Twenty five dollars for ONE basket??!!" Yeah, if they had that $25 basket now they could sell it on Ebay for thousands. Anyways, we were blessed with many Longaberger baskets as presents on many occasions. They are both useful and pretty.

Well, I guess I could say more, but in summary I thank God for the many ways he has blessed me through Dottie. I especially love the one that sleeps next to me every night. Thank you Dottie for the gifts you have given me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Farmer's Market & Friendship

Here is one of my dear friends, Jocelyn Devaney, today at the Farmer's Market in Santa Monica. Jocelyn's kids, David and Hannah, are the same ages as mine, and all of the kids being at high school camp this week prompted us lonely moms to spend the day together. I told Jocelyn I had always wanted to visit the big Farmer's Market and she kindly obliged by accompanying me. It was a really fun day as we browsed at all the lovely fruits and vegetables, checked out the 3rd Street Promenade, shared some sushi for lunch, and sat on a park bench to view the ocean and pier. The weather was beautiful and the conversation was ever flowing. Jocelyn and I have been friends for many years and I really enjoyed the chance to spend the day with her.

What makes this Farmer's Market special is that it is one of the largest in the nation. Many of the local chefs shop here each Wednesday morning for their restaurants. I was hoping to see Giada de Laurentiis, but no luck. We strolled by many booths of juicy peaches and plums, giant artichokes, fresh greens, white raspberries, and much more, often stopping to get a taste of juicy ripe fruit. I purchased strawberries, white corn, golden and red beets, fennel, some wonderful Santa Rosa-type plums (which I ate on the spot), and a fragrant bouquet of white succulent flowers. I was surprised to find the prices very reasonable. I was thinking how much fun it would be to have a Farmer's Market like this to shop at all the time. You could stroll through, picking up the freshest vegetables available whenever you needed them. nice that would be!
I really loved the experience - it was so fun to enjoy all the many varieties of produce and chat all the way with a cherished friend. A truly lovely day indeed.

Drew turns 16!

The month of July was very eventful for Drew! Not only did he turn 16 on July 19, but he went on his birthday to get his driver's license. It was a very exciting event and we were very proud of our boy. Then we went on to more celebration (more on that later)!
Since that day, Drew has ventured out with the car solo, and even *GASP* taken Emma on a few excursions. I made sure that Drew realized that he and Emma were my only children and that I could become jobless if he wasn't careful. They have had a lot of fun with their newfound independence - going to Santa Clarita for shopping and handling their pet sitting job without me. The experience of watching them drive away together was quite heart wrenching, but also a joy to watch brother and sister heading out together like two good friends. OK, I said like good friends. Drew has proved himself worthy of this privilege by being a good driver. LOVE THE BLINKER!!

For Drew's birthday we had a family celebration at home with my dad, the DeShongs, the Mickelsons, and Jordan & Lindsey. It was fun to watch Uncle Davey ride the dirt bike on the front lawn! Sometimes, you just have to wear stretchy pants! The dinner fare was Seven-layer Dip, Pizza, Caesar Salad and of course, Dirt Cups for dessert.

Drew's fave birthday dessert for years...dirt cups
We also allowed Drew to invite three buddies to go along to San Clemente with us as part of the big celebration. He invited Reuben Woodfield, David Devaney, and Thomas Herrera. A good time was had by all as we joined the Tubbs, Brooks, Bates and Shoemakers for a four night stay at the beach. Feeding 5 teenagers was no small feat! You don't want to even know how much soda they drank!

By the way of gifts, Drew had already received his gift from us early... Papa's old Mercury Sable. My dad was getting rid of it and gave us a great deal on it so it became his first official set of wheels. Being black in color, and being a four door sedan, we teased Drew that he looked like he was driving a little limo. We ended up getting him a personalized plate which reads DRWZLMO. We thought this clearly read "Drew's Limo" until Quincy Lima asked, "Who is Dr. Wizzlemo?" We hadn't thought about the fact that "DR" comes across as "Doctor" and the rest would say "Wizzlemo." So, Drew had no choice but to become the one, the only, the world reknown..... "Dr. Wizzlemo!"

Drew's new set of wheels, the Wizzlemo

Drew, you are a great guy and a lot of fun to be with. You are really turning into a wonderful young man, and your dad and I are grateful to see God shaping your life. I'm not sure what happened to my flat-topped, cuddly little Drewey... all I see is a tall, dark and handsome young man. I love you bud - have fun being 16! I adore you!