Art to FEED; “Community Hearts” and the Children’s Center at Modesto Gospel Mission

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Myself, Lilly and the lovely Angela, a volunteer at the center. 

Sometimes reality can  hit you hard. Going to the Modesto Gospel Mission to volunteer at their children’s center one evening with a group from church, I remember thinking, will there really be a need? Do we have too many volunteers to really help, will we be standing around, wanting to be helpful but doing so in vain. Many different thoughts come up whenever we try to do something of value. We start to believe all the negative voices, the ones that keep us from getting up and out to help. The sad reality is our world is a fallen one and the need is overwhelming. In entering the children’s center I had to take a seat. I was hit with this reality that exists in my own back yard. Children, infants, families without hope. I also write this having lost a childhood friend last month, after drug addiction and living on the streets ended in tragedy.  I don’t believe you need a worldly perspective to look around your own community and know things aren’t right.

Modesto is increasing in it’s population of homelessness,(Modesto Bee, August 2015). An increase in alcoholism, drug addiction, low literacy rates and mental illness seems to be only fueling this problem. It is easy for many to ignore this issue, how would one even begin to help?  One only has to drive down the La Loma neighborhood of Modesto, an area I used to ride bikes as a child, and one can see this growing problem first hand. The Modesto Gospel Mission exists here to help, and the children’s center offers a safe place for children who otherwise would have nowhere to go but out on the streets. This is a home to many, a community to many. It is at times a chaotic and volatile place, but there are much needed rules, structure, warmth and encouragement. The Mission has aims to improve community with a larger medical facility, women’s center and a newly purchased warehouse in order to teach skills for employment to its participants in their program. We donated our “Community Hearts” painting, done at the Homestead Market Fair in Ripon, CA. The painting was done by the community, who all painted their “hearts” as a symbol of support for the children’s center at the Modesto Gospel Mission.

Many homeless desire to work and be productive. Art to Feed has a vision in line with our philosophy that connecting people with food and agriculture improves community. This year we plan to create a small maintainable garden providing fresh produce for a salad bar daily for the children, women and men that come to the mission for meals. The garden will also teach skills and allow for a positive environment for the residents and the community that surround the garden. We also hope to incorporate some children’s programs with the help of a local garden club. We envision the garden growing every year and possibly leading to the selling of produce at local farmers markets, providing employment and skills for our homeless community. There have been successful models with a similar concept by Sol Food Street Farms, and we can only aspire towards this. For now a garden. I am not naive to think that this will solve all of our problems. But its a small step, and as one resident said in hearing of our plans, a much needed bit of “life.” Giving something living to take care of and watch thrive in an environment that is so accustomed to  failure is enough of a step for me and one I cant wait to get started.

If you are interested in donating towards the garden I will be having an art show thru February at the Carolyn Huff Gallery in Modesto, also a part of the down town art walk. All proceeds will be used to fund this garden. If you are interested in volunteering for the Modesto Gospel Mission, or just to learn more you can attend their monthly tours, and visit them online to learn more or donate at http://modestogospelmission.org/

 

Flaky Maple Yogurt Pie Crust

img_6784-1This is a classic pie crust recipe that uses 1/3 less butter because we add our raw yogurt. The yogurt gives a tangy flavor and lightness to the crust. We also use Maple syrup instead of sugar to give more depth in flavor as well as for health conscious reasons. Our bodies absorb the sugar from maple syrup much slower than from other simple sugars, (i.e. honey or refined sugar). I just love this crust; besides tasting amazing and standing out, it is simple to make! I’m not one to fuss in the kitchen. I use one bowl for this recipe and only have to handle it during the rolling out part. Anyone can make this! Use this recipe for all your favorite in season fruit, pumpkin, nut or savory pies. I especially love it with my Maple Blueberry Pie filling!

Ingredients:

  1. 3 c Flourimg_6792-1
  2. 1 tsp Salt
  3. 1/4 c Raw Yogurt (or store-bought Greek Yogurt)
  4. 1/4 c Maple Syrup
  5. 1 c Cold Butter
  6. 6-8 tbs Ice Water

 

Directions:

Pre heat oven to 425 F. Cut butter into small cubes and place in freezer for 15- 20 min. It is important for butter to remain as cold as possible during process which will allow for flaky crust.  img_6793-1

Using food processor (if you do not have one place ingredients in large bowl and use pastry cutter to combine), sift flour into bowl of processor. Add salt , maple syrup, yogurt and chilled butter cubes. Pulse while adding ice water a Tbs at a time until mixture is roughly starting to pull together. Do not over process.img_6790-1 img_6791-1

Empty bowl onto plastic wrap, cover into ball and place in fridge for 30 min. Then place on floured surface, cut in half and roll out into rough circle. Using roller, roll end of flattened disk around rolling-pin and unroll into pie dish. Press to pie dish form. img_6787-1

Place desired filling in pie shell, and if desired roll out remaining half disk and pace on top cutting slits in center and cutting off excess pie dough from edges with sharp knife. Crimp edges as desired to close. Bake at 425 for approx 40 min using foil of cover over pie edges to keep from burning.