Sharing Shape

Community-building pie contest goes beyond sweet tastes

October 26, 2005

Saturday on the Heights was a delicious day on a variety of levels.

How do you eat 108 pies?

You start with one bite at a time, if you are one of the lucky judges in the “Eat Dessert First” pie contest, an event that one day each fall dominates 12th Street.

All those pies then disappear as the public snatches up tantalizing triangles for dessert at home or the office.

The pie contest, which this year expanded to mixed fruit desserts, was an unqualified success (see Pies Galore for details).

More than pears, apples, cherries, sugar and flour go into Eat Dessert First. Each baker plans and carries out her or his creation with loving care. Flowers, fine silver, table cloths, photographs, hand-made signs, even books adorn tables as contestants and supporters make statements about their pies.

Throughout, bakers are trading kitchen talk. The cooperation of the city this year meant that a lane of traffic was closed on 12th Street, enabling organizers to arrange the tables in horseshoe configuration, rather than one long line of tables with contestants standing with backs to the building as had been done in the past.

This year, people were able to walk around both sides of the tables and watch the judging and talk with the contestants. This added greatly to the community spirit of the event.

That interaction – people talking about how pies are made with locally-grown fruit – has always been an essential ingredient in the four-year-old event.

Eat Dessert First is now an unqualified tradition. It is not the biggest baking contest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Helping Hands Against Violence receives a big boost not just financially but also in terms of the exposure the contest gives to this deserving organization.

Thanks go to the businesses and other supporters — they know who they are — who make the event happen and fund the three $1,000 prizes.

It’s worth noting that most pies are formed in a circle, a shape that suggests inclusion and continuation. The community is fortunate to have organizations such as Helping Hands, and events such as Eat Dessert First, to remind us, bakers and non-bakers alike, that the needs of community service organizations touch us all. We are all included in ways, such as annual pie contests, of helping find solutions. And 108 pies is a lovely way to remind us of that.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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