Monday, September 1, 2014

Winners from the 2014 Pie Throwdown

We had a tie this year! The Best Sweet Pie was tied between Barb O'Donnell's All-Berry Pie (featuring raspberries, blackberries, and cherries), and Julia Mickley's Blue Comet (with lime zest and whipped cream!).

The four judges had a very difficult time choosing among the 34 entries. Becky Anderson, who brought tiaras and boas for all the other judges, said that every single one was delicious—except the one that they didn't have the nerve to try, which was Kristen Sullivan's pie crust for canines and humans (human-grade ingredients, including barley and carrots) and featured a stylized pawprint in the center. The judges gave it an award for Best 4-Legged Entry, and it went in the auction for $60. According to Maggie Billington, the winner of the auction, it was VERY popular with the dogs. (Sullivan operates a business, Ruby Snacks, that specializes in doggy treats.)

The Best Savory Pie was Carla Helfferich's Tomato Pie for Grownups (Helfferich had previously submitted a gooey pie called Easy Tomato Pie, made with Bisquick and especially formulated to appeal to youngsters—this one is for the adults in the family).

Most Unusual Pie was made by Sarah Furman, and was a Raspberry Jalapeño Pie decorated with nasturtiums.

The pie auction raised $310, and the judgeship auction raised $150 (helped along because Nick Gassmann's left hand started bidding against his right hand). Along with the generous donations of pie bakers and eaters, musicians and people donating at the door, we earned $4,600! Thank you, everyone!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pie throwdown 2014

Nancy Burnham is once again the Berry Pie Throwdown organizer. She's gotten three fine local women to participate as judges this year:
  • Becky Anderson, an artist who works in fused glass, has extra crowns for herself and the other judges, and is making a prize for the event. And she has a new kitten.
  • Marlies Guest, who is new to Ester and wants to get involved in the community. Ester's all about the can-do, volunteer spirit, so she'll fit right in, we can tell already!
  • PJ Strawther, who loves pugs! She's a fan of the Dog Park, and, obviously, loves pie too.
There will be room for a fourth judge, but you've got to get to the LiBerry Music Festival no later than 2 pm, because we'll be auctioning that seat off to the highest bidder!

Bring your homemade pies to the Golden Eagle between 12:30 and 2, and stick around for the awards at 3:30 (and the subsequent auction of the top winners!).The rest of the pies will be available for people to eat at requested $5 per slice donation.

Now, suppose you were here last year, or three years ago, and you recall a delicious pie that you'd like to make at home, but you're not sure how it was made? With so many original and unusual recipes, the LiBerry pies might be hard to replicate—that is, unless you had the Throwdown Cookbook!

For only $25, you too can make pies like these:
  • Porknberry Pie (winner 2012, Best Savory Pie)
  • Lenin Meringue Pie (winner 2011, Best Sweet Pie)
  • Miniature Tomato Jam Pies (winner 2009, "Most Sophisticated" Award)
  • Blueberry Chocolate Pie (winner 2009, "Most Surprising Ingredients" Award)
  • Parsnip Custard Pie (winner 2010, "Most Unusual Pie" Award)
  • Zucchini-Lavender Pie (winner 2010, "Most Savory Pie" Award)
and many others, including: Blu-Barb Crisp, Blueberry Rhubarb Pie, Cheesecake Pie with Blueberry Reduction, Chocolate Lingonberry Pie, Dark Chocolate Cloud Pie with Blueberry Topping, Easy Tomato Pie, Fauxberry Pie, Flower Power Pie, Fruit Pizza Pie, The Green Monster, Mixed Berry Pie, Raspberry Poppers, Spicy Blueberry Pie, and more!

Every year, you can add to your collection with individual recipe pages, available for a nominal price. Buy them all in a handy binder, or pick and choose from previous years and buy only the ones you want to create a cookbook to match your tastebuds. Available at the music festival!

Contact Nancy at 479-2507 for more information on the pie contest or to volunteer.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 LiBerry Music Festival handbill

Here it is! Amy Cameron of Bad White Dog has created our poster this year. Pass on the word! August 30, Saturday, at the Golden Eagle Saloon.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Progress at the gazebo

The first work party to clean up and reinstall the windows went very well: it didn't rain! The turnout was good, and we got a lot done.

The old, broken windows were removed:

They looked very sad in the garbage can. Connie Huffman decided to see if she could salvage a couple of them.

Eric Glos and Hans Mölders did the carpentry and removal work.

With all the rain and sun we've had this season, the shrubs and weeds had grown profusely (as have the flowers), so we did quite a bit of weeding, pruning, and stump removing. Carla Helfferich donated a whole wheelbarrow full of flowers to the cause, both perennials and annuals.

Included in the mix are: lobelia (white, lavender, magenta, blue), geraniums (red and pink), a purple trailing petunia, two yellow nasturtiums, a Maltese Cross, a Scarlett, a six-pack of marigolds donated by Anne's Greenhouse, dianthus (red, magenta, white, pink-flecked), two columbines, and a brilliant white Asiatic lily. We also transplanted several columbines and delphiniums from Ansgar's cabin (escapees from the flower beds up there).

Mike Musick created a new access path to the gazebo around the southern end of the large flower bed, closer to the path to the park and more directly opposite the path from the post office. (He referred to it as the "Ester Post Office Loop Trail.") The large rocks from it will become a fire ring at some point in the future.

Ritchie Musick clearing the leaf litter between the gazebo and the outhouse. Weeds and leaf mulch were piled into the compost bins, almost filling one up. All that's needed now is horse manure!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July at the library

Fourth of July was HOT! We gave away loads of t-shirts and membership forms (not to mention pink lemonade) and talked with lots of people about the plans for the new library, the Clausen Cabin, and the gardens.

This month, our work party schedule includes repairing and re-installing the stained glass windows at the Ida Lane Clausen Gazebo on July 19 & 20th, 11 am to 5 pm. You recall these five lovely windows, created by Denise Akert-Mohr:

 The windows were destroyed, shot out by a .22, in winter or spring 2012-13. A sixth window, showing a robin, was left untouched. We promptly covered it with plexiglass to help protect it (at least from flying rocks or BB guns). Denise was crushed, and the community was, justifiably, outraged.

However, we rallied, and the library set aside monies through the Community Revenue Sharing fund program to recreate the broken windows. Denise provided original drawings to Expressions in Glass, where Debbie Matthews matched the glass and designs as closely as possible from the photos we took, doing a beautiful job.

At the annual meeting in 2013, the JTEL announced a fund drive to pay for Lexan to cover the new windows. The drive earned $1,020 by the middle of December.

So now it's time to put our plan in action, come together, and make beautiful construction music at the gazebo!

Come on down on Saturday & Sunday, July 19th & 20th, any time between 11 am and 5 pm. We'll feed the volunteers, fix up the gazebo, tidy up the gardens, and make our public art available to the public again.

And, as a bonus, Denise made another window! (We'll install it at the work party.)

See you there!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birch syrup at the library

In the last weeks, we've had leafout, but before the buds actually burst, the sap was running from the ground up through the roots and trunks of trees. Millions of gallons of sap rise in the trees around us, and the trees change color as their bark and limbs prepare for spring, the catkins come out and the pollen from willows and aspens and cottonwoods spreads. That's the sap-tappers' time of year, and when birch syrup is made.

The JTEL is working with the OneTree Alaska program to begin a regular tapping program on our property on Village Road. After a Memorandum of Agreement is drawn up, we can arrange to use OneTree's reverse osmosis machine and tapping equipment. (You may have seen Birch Pavelsky and Jan Dawe of OneTree as well as Deirdre Helfferich and Hans Mölders of the JTEL board recently, traipsing about on the property, checking buckets.)

Sixteen birch trees will be coming down this summer when we start work on the driveway (more about that coming soon), so these trees were chosen for the first season's work, but instead of using only one tap, three taps per tree were used since they will be cut down. The peculiar weather reduced the tapping time, but the total collected was 57 gallons of sap. OneTree will receive two-thirds of this in exchange for the use of their equipment, and the JTEL will receive one-third of reduced sap (some syrup, some sap at 14% sugars), which can be used as prizes for upcoming events.

More to come!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Charity Walk for JTEL

It's the 12th annual Charity Walk! On May 9, Friday, aproned walkers will be walking on behalf of 58 charities in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, including the John Trigg Ester Library!

 If you would like to sponsor the  JTEL, contact Deirdre Helfferich, president of the library's board of directors (she'll be strolling downtown for the event, with apron!).You can reach her at 479-3368 or, or by Facebook

Or, if you'd like to walk in the event yourself, you can still register in person, although there will be a late fee.

Thanks, and enjoy!