Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friendship, Foundation, and a Funky Fruit Dessert

Over the last few years I have come to know the Vera Bradley store in Bellevue, Washington very well; a fact my husband can attest to by the number of debit entries I have surmounted.  And, I've come to know the manager, Dana Dickenson-Lofton, first as someone who assisted me with picking out a special gift for a friend or family member, but recently, as a friend who would asked about Kelly and sincerely wanted to know how she was doing with her treatments.  When I went to the store in June to choose a gift for a dear friend and Dana asked about Kelly, I could tell she was as upset as I was to tell her that she had passed away on May 14th. 

I don't know if many of you know about The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.  Since Kelly's diagnosis, I have contributed to this foundation in honor of Kelly, but now I will contribute in her memory.  My hope is that no other family should ever have to go through losing a daughter, a sister, a mother, an aunt, or even a friend to this disease, but sadly, nearly 200,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone, according to The American Cancer Society.  My optimism stays strong that one day we will beat this.  I promised Kelly that I would continue to support research in what ever way I can...yes, another promise.

A few weeks ago, I noticed on Facebook.com that Dana commented on doing chores in her beautiful Vera Bradley apron.  When I asked if they were in the store, her comment back to me was, "one is on it's way to you."  And, as promised, I received a beautiful apron in the mail almost the next day!  I think it's only appropriate to show off this beautiful gift.  After all, my blog is so named for the apron string my mother cut and gave to me when I was married...almost 42 years ago.
In doing research about aprons, I found some references to Biblical times; "Adam and Eve sewed together fig leaves to make aprons to cover themselves," although, we think of aprons associated with cooking or tasks that tend to be messy.  In the early 19th century, women wore aprons to keep their clothing clean or for transporting items like eggs or kindling wood.  However, it was not until the 1940s and 50s that society started thinking of wearing aprons as being stereotypical of "the perfect mother."  I loved watching my mother don her apron in the morning, ready for a day of cooking and chores.  It's a memory that I smile about today.  Over the last few years, aprons have made a stylish comeback and this one from Vera Bradley proves that.

So, today I donned my Vera Bradley apron and made a "Stone Fruit Slab Pie."  If you look back to a post in April for my father's birthday, I made Apple Slab Pie.  It's my portable pie idea for dessert when my husband attends ball games.  I had some peaches left over, but since I needed 8 cups of fruit, I ended up adding some dried apricots and even cherries to complete the measure.  Therefore, the idea of a Funky Fruit Dessert.

Stone Fruit Slab Pie

Pie dough 
8 cups of fruit (I used 4 cups peaches, 2 cups dried apricots, 2 cups cherries)
1 cup sugar
2 T Instant Clear Jel or all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. almond flavoring
Make the pie dough, as directed, cover with plastic and refrigerate as you prepare the fruit.  Peel and slice peaches and rough chop the dried apricots.
 I added cherries and combined the fruit to come up with 8 cups.  Add the sugar, instant clearjel or flour, nutmeg and almond extract.  Stir to combine.
Meanwhile, divide the dough into 2 (two) pieces.  Using a non-stick oil spray, spray a 10" x 15" sheet pan.  Roll out the bottom dough to fit the pan.  Arrange fruit on the dough evenly. 
 Roll out the top crust and place on top of the fruit.  Crimp the edges and make slits in the top to release steam and place in a preheated 375F-degree/convection oven. 
 Bake 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown and the juices are flowing.  During the last 7 minutes, place a small baking sheet with 1 cup of sliced almonds, in the oven to toast.  Let pie and almonds cool 15-20.  While the pie is cooling, mix up glaze: 2 cups confectioners' sugar and 2T unsalted butter, softened.  Add 2-3 T milk until you have a pourable consistency.  Pour on top of the pie, then sprinkle with toasted almonds.  Enjoy!
  Before closing, I want to add a quote that Dana shared on Facebook: "People will not always remember what you said.  They will not always remember what you did.  But they will always remember how you made them feel."  Dana, you gave me such memories of my mom and Kelly today while I baked.  Thank you dear friend for that feeling and the beautiful apron. xoxo


  1. This post was very moving Susan. I have quite a collection of aprons and appreciate a poem that I will share with you through email about the many uses of a mother's or grandmother's apron. As you wrote and I agree, I think today we come back to the apron in the sense that they are beautiful as well as bring back memories. I have many vintage aprons hanging as curtains in my kitchen and hanging from a peg board and have used my aprons for gathering eggs, veggies from the garden and clothespins on the clothesline. (And yours I use while baking!) My children often use the bottom of their shirts to carry flowers etc. I had not realized that your mother gave you her apron strings at your wedding. I think this is beautiful and tells so much of your relationship. It is so nice to hear about your friend Dana sharing this apron with you these are the gifts that stay in our hearts. I appreciate the quote that she shared, so very true. You have so many cherished memories of Kelly, she has a very precious place in my heart Susan. With love, Nicole xoxo (And of course your recipe looks absolutely mouthwatering!)

  2. Dear Susan, I was touched by your post.
    I collect vintage aprons since I was young and I sometimes make new ones out of it.never thought there was anyone else in the world who did something like that or had any thoughts about aprons.
    My mother never had an apron but i like to wear them sometimes even when I am doing nothing but as a kind of skirt. My children like it too when i wear them and i have made many (little) aprons for the children I am looking after. When i wear them it is a sign for them that " we are going to cook and bake"which is one of their favourite things.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Love, Gusta (or guusje but that is a difficult one in english i guess)

  3. Something else I forgot to mention about the symbol of aprons~My mom would wipe my tears with her apron when I was little. It was so much more comforting that just a kleenex! I wish she was here now to wipe them. xoxo

  4. I work for the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer, I am a breast cancer patient, and I, too, and a friend of Dana's. I just love this heartwarming post, and am so glad it was shared with me. Thank you, Susan, for your donations. They are saving lives right now...mine included.
    Warmly, Heidi Floyd

  5. Apron's really are so special. I don't have many, but the ones I have are a treasure. I have one that belonged to my Great Aunt, one that I used when I use to throw pottery, and my newest one the beautiful one you made me. I aspire to have many, many more! The Vera Bradley one your friend sent is gorgeous.
    And what can be said about that pie!? It looks divine!

    I love you!

  6. The apron stories made me so nostalgic! My grandmother always wore an apron when making family meals and I always loved them. One Christmas when I was around 5 or 6 she surprised me and made me one. It was festive not functional. Sheer and pretty with a red, green and gold ribbon trim... I pranced around that day in my pretty apron feeling so grown up and special!! I still have it of course! Tucked away with other special mementos I have of her. She was a seamstress and a piece maker in Queens... many years later my mother told me that she made my apron out of old sheer curtains she had lying around. For some reason that made it even more special to me! I hope someday to have a daughter to tie it on and watch her prance around.... :)

    It was great talking to you last night Susan. It's been too long!! :)

  7. Dear Susan

    What a lovely post, a gorgeous apron, a scrummie pie (perfect for the kids with all that fruit) and Susan your promises are treasures all in themselves. Breast Cancer here is alarming too. Something has to be done. I hope it happens soon. My apron is my second skin. I think its a layer that comforts me and therefore comforts my children and a doggie or two.

    Sending love and comfort to you today dear fiend
    Lots of love to you

  8. I love the memories and what aprons mean to each of you, it is truly heartwarming. xoxo

  9. Looks like the tradition of aprons is growing on little Maddie. I saw her yesterday and Erin made this wonderful pie..delicious! Of course, the apron looks like a long dress on Maddie, but I am sure that she will grow into it and love to help her Mama and Mimi in the kitchen! Take care, Susan!