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Bountiful Blessings

November 23, 2009

I stayed in the DC metro area to celebrate Thanksgiving with another friend and her family last year.  As a guest, I asked what I could bring to complete the celebration.  She asked if I could bring the pumpkin pie.  I said yes and realized I had never made pumpkin pie prior to this first attempt. 

Having lived in my apartment 12 days prior, I had not actually used the oven prior to Thanksgiving.  In retrospect, a true oddity, but I was still trying to get settled, so when I pre-heated the oven and was blending the pumpkin pie filling, I was shocked to find when I was ready to put everything in the oven, it was the same temperature pre-blend.  I turned multiple knobs, nothing.  Not even the burners on the stove were working.  What could it be?  I found the breaker switches and realized I had not switched the oven switch to the on position.  Success!!

I put the pie in the oven and set my timer.  I’m not sure how much time had really elapsed between the time I put the pie in the oven until I smelled something burning, but it was not long before I opened the oven to find the top of my pumpkin pie smoldering!  Smoke was coming out of the pie- not something I remembered when my mom would be baking a pie.  I took the pie out of the oven and realized that only the top of the filling was burnt.  After some retracing of steps, I had not switched the broil knob back to the bake position when I was turning the knobs to figure out why the oven was not working!

I am hoping for less of a chaotic pie baking experience this year, and in traveling for the upcoming holiday that reminds us to give thanks for the harvest and our blessings, I’m pretty much guaranteed that someone else will make the pumpkin pie (thank goodness!).  I’ll focus on what I know I can do well- the green bean casserole.  Pumpkins, green beans, cranberries, mashed potatoes…I get hungry just thinking about it.  Having criss-crossed much of the country within the past year as part of my official duties, I’ve been fortunate to meet with the farmers, ranchers, and AgrAbility staff that ensure farmer’s safety, success and sustainability.  For those individuals involved in the planting and harvesting, I have a greater respect for the hard work that goes into producing all of the bountiful crops I will see on my Thanksgiving dinner table this year.  I received a website link last week that showed me exactly where my Thanksgiving dinner would be coming from based on the 2007 Ag Census, complete with the pumpkin, green beans, mashed potatoes, dressing, and the beloved turkey in addition to many other Thanksgiving favorites.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Margaret Gilman permalink
    November 24, 2009 4:54 pm

    Thank you Emily, and Happy ThanksGiving from Vermont to D.C.
    While you have been touring the countryside I was in your fair city for the USDA/NIFA Grantsmanship Workshop November 16 & 17. Little time, however, was left for sightseeing as the agenda was packed with information about National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NĬFA) programs, the five focal areas of: Global Food Security and Hunger, Climate Change, Sustainable Energy, Childhood Obesity, and Food Safety and the process of integrating research, education, and extension to ensure that relevant knowledge reaches people and improves lives. The overview of the agency clarified how collaboration supports exemplary research, education, and extension to address many challenges facing the nation. National Program Leaders went on to give details about how the competitive grants program functions and the criteria for each program area. There was too much to write about here, suffice it to say, that now when I click on National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) there is a much greater chance that I will find what I am looking for and understand it, and recognize opportunities before the deadline!
    When a web site has an individual page dedicated to Logic Models, it is important to know how to access it, become proficient at it, and understand the level of importance the agency places on including it in proposals. That was one of the important educational takeaways. Breakout sessions facilitated by the National Program Leaders were very informative. The audience Q&A was extremely helpful as colleagues from various areas geographically and programmatically asked specific precise questions and the NPLs gave thorough thoughtful responses. The voices of experience are a bountiful resource. The day ended with some comic relief as the NPLs provided us with a mock review panel; if nothing else it demonstrated their willingness to appear ordinary and did create an atmosphere of accessibility and congeniality.
    Day two was also full to capacity with the excellent “Writing and Organizing Competitive Grant Proposals” by Tom Fretz and Mike Harrington. I have taken a few Grantsmanship workshops an the Reference Manual I brought home is a thorough guide and outline that if followed closely surely will result in winning proposals! I recommend this two day workshop to anyone working in the USDA/NIFA program areas.
    I did have a chance, early in my trip, to take the Metro from VA, to the Washington Mall and Smithsonian. On the street there were two groups of protesters protesting each other, I thought “Now this feels like my Nations Capitol!”

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