Sunday, April 14, 2024

Remembering Bob Gillen

Yesterday Sweetie and I drove down between the tall redwoods to the Gillen home, remembering the many Christmas time mega-parties we attended there, the New Years Eve small dinners, and plenty of times on the patio and in the warmth of the living room by the fire. Bob Gillen was a pillar of the community, having served on both the Palm Drive Foundation board and on the Palm Drive Hospital board. He and his wife Heidi were active in lots of political campaigns and were very connected, so it was always fun to talk with them about politics, especially local politics. Bob was a Probation Officer with the county and began that work in Southern California where he and Heidi met and lived for a time.

               Heidi and Bob at Palm Drive Foundation fundraiser

We knew them because I met Heidi when she was on the local high school board and we discovered a mutual interest in education, plus walking our dogs. She was the high energy one in the duo and Bob was the quiet presence, just as potent, but in an understated way. They were excellent parents and raised three wonderful sons. They loved to entertain and to travel and to eat good food.

With the pandemic we saw very little of them and knew that they were both experiencing health issues that made it difficult to be together. Bob was never a computer kind of guy...there were even jokes about him always using 'hard copy', but Heidi was proficient on the computer and served as the Treasurer for many political campaigns. She was very active in the campaign that finally was won that allowed for a parcel tax for our local fire department, something that I was active in and interested in, too. She also helped get me a job with the health care Foundation when I finished graphic arts school. All in all our lives had touched many times over the years.

So we went to the Celebration of Life and comforted Heidi, touched bases with a few old friends and Heidi's sons and their families, and remembered a good man. I brought some lemon bars and brownies to supplement the catered items, but I started with boxed mixes. Maybe you'd like to know what I did to jazz them up a bit?

First I made the brownies. I used Ghirardelli's mix that contains some chocolate chips. It's a good one, but any brownie mix will benefit from these changes. The changes were that I added 2 tablespoons of very dark cocoa and 1 tablespoon of espresso powder to the dry ingredients. This made the brownies darker, which make them look more desirable to real chocolate lovers. The espresso powder also enhances the chocolate flavor without tasting of coffee. Then I underbaked them by a few minutes, so that they were soft and fudgy. Truly delicious for a boxed brownie.

For the lemon bars, I started with Krusteze lemon bar mix, which contains a crumb base bag and a lemon filling bag.  Another brand would likely have the same. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons melted butter for the base, but I melted 4 tablespoons, added the mix and stirred, then added about 2 tablespoons dry plain breadcrumbs. That helped to make the base a little less hard, and more delicious with the extra butter flavor. For the filling, I zested most of a lemon and added the zest to the 3 eggs called for. I took the 1/3 cup measure and added the juice of 1/2 a lemon, then filled the measure up for t he 1/3 cup called for, which was added to the egg mixture. That added lemon zest and juice really made those lemon bars sing!

Now you, too, know how to jazz up boxed brownie and lemon bar mixes. Bob would have like these!

No comments :

Post a Comment