Cascade AIDS Project, Taste of the Nation, and Heidi Swanson

Hello All!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the chance to sit and write. I’ve been a busy bee trying to give back to the good city of Portland.

I’ve had a long love affair with food, and with making food for people. It’s one way I know how to make people feel good.

I started volunteering for Our House of Portland when I was just out of high school. They stuck me in the kitchen prepping lunches, and I was quickly moved into the dinner rotation. It was a fantastic place to learn to prep meals for large groups. It taught me to cook things I would never eat myself – like Swedish meatballs, for example. It also taught me to cook food that people love, and to cook food that brings people together.

Our House is well known in Portland, and in my heart. It was there that I met my best friend Jerry Branca, who passed away of complications with advanced stage AIDS almost 7 years ago. I learned so much from that man, and his memory makes me smile every day. I had the chance honor him on Saturday night, and it felt nice to know other people loved him as much as I did. I have since moved on from Our House, to pursue a different aspect in the fight for a cure for HIV and AIDS. I felt honored to volunteer for the Cascade AIDS project’s Annual Art Auction on Saturday night, and will be on the planning committee for next year’s event.

It was truly magical on Saturday night. I met so many wonderful people. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, and have the biggest smiles you have ever seen. It’s nice to be a part of something that is truly about giving to people who are in need of a meal, a smile, and some hope. I feel truly blessed to be a part of such a wonderful cause.

Tonight is another opportunity to put my service to good use, working the “Wall of Wine” at Taste of the Nation. This is a true “foodie” event, with a mission to feed hungry children in Oregon. Restaurants from around the city are donating “tastes” of their menu to hundreds of ticket buyers in Portland. There will be silent auctions, and cocktails, and wine. I just can’t wait. I will try to take pictures, because this is one crazy event!

In other news, I had the chance to meet Ms. Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks on Friday evening at her book signing for her new cookbook, Super Natural Everyday. That woman is timeless, and I felt like I was meeting a movie star for the first time. 101 Cookbooks has changed my life in so many ways. I really examine my ingredients, believe in the heirloom bean because of Heidi’s writing, and share many of her food philosophies.

This weekend gave me so much to think about, smile about, and for which to be thankful. I hope you all have the chance to put your energy into something you believe in! It’s such a great day knowing that there is hope out there!



2 Comments to “Cascade AIDS Project, Taste of the Nation, and Heidi Swanson”

  1. What an eventful weekend! It’s so wonderful to find volunteer work that you enjoy and feel good about.
    I felt a bit like I was meeting a movie star meeting Heidi, too! Have you been trying out any of her recipes? I made the honey-millet muffins today and added poppy seeds and both lemon and orange zest and they were delicious!

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