I live in a place that suffers from an embarrassment of riches at harvest time. This year we had a bumper crop of pears. The pears were both abundant in number and generous in size, and I know for a fact no pesticides were used. Not wanting to waste any I harvested them and stored them in a spare fridge, a modern root cellar. I eat them often as a snack, roast them with pork and chicken, and make “pear sauce.” Recently I set out to experiment with using pears instead of apples in a few favorite dishes.   I urge you to give it a try too.

One day I looked at my pears and decided to alter one of my favorite classic French recipes, and see how they would fare. If you enjoy French cuisine you are undoubtedly familiar with  Tarte Tatin, but just in case you have not been told of the story surrounding this delicious and happy accident I’ll enlighten you. A pair of sisters worked at the Hotel Tatin just before the turn of the last century, and as legend has it, one day while making an apple pie, one of the sisters (reportedly Stephanie) left the apples on the stove too long, created a strongly caramelized syrup rather than a merely cooked apple as had been the intent.  In an attempt to rescue her dessert quickly she placed the pastry over the top of the apples and baked it in the oven that way. Stephanie sought to disguise her subterfuge by flipping the pan over after the crust had cooked so that it would look like a regular pie.  She  served it and, though the  mistake was obvious to her guests,  they enjoyed her happy accident and it became a culinary sensation.

I saw no reason why pears wouldn’t be just as delicious and might be appealingly different.  I urge you to give it a try, even if you aren’t lucky enough to have your own pear tree, but especially if you do.

Ingredients:

your own favorite crust recipe (keep dough chilled before rolling out)

one stick of unsalted butter
half cup of sugar
juice of half a lemon
half dozen pears or so
fresh nutmeg (you’re welcome to use cinnamon or other spices but I prefer to nutmeg only with pears)
A shot of brandy or rum (optional)
one cast iron skillet 10″

creme fraiche, whipped creme, or vanilla ice cream  (optional)

Directions:

Core and halve pears. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. When foam subsides (you may have to shake the pan) sprinkle the sugar all over. Place pear halves in pan, cut side up, long side against rim of pan. Use smaller halves for center. You want to fit them in pretty tightly, but only in a single layer. Grate liberal amounts of fresh nutmeg all over. Let them cook away, not stirring, over medium low heat about 30 minutes. Take remaining pear halves and slice medium thin, fan all over top of the pear halves, sprinkle a little more sugar on them and more nutmeg, cook for another 10 minutes or until the caramel is a rich golden color.

This is what the halves look like before a final
layer of pear slices is fanned on top.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely. After cooling is complete preheat oven to 425. Roll out your dough so that it is slightly larger than the skillet, place over top and tuck the dough in along the sides. Bake in oven till crust is a deep golden color, 30 to 35 minutes.

 

When it comes out of the oven it should look like this:

 

 

 

Now for the tricky part. As soon after it comes out of the oven as you can, while it’s still hot, take a plate and cover the top of your tarte. Some like to use a plate bigger than the skillet but I prefer a plate that fits just inside the rim. It’s up to you, but be careful, the caramel sauce and the skillet are extremely hot. Using your oven mits, carefully hold opposite sides of the skillet and invert the whole thing and rest the plate down on a level surface. Carefully lift the skillet off, taking care to loosen any pieces on the side that might have gotten stuck. If there is excess liquid you may drain it off, reserve and use to drizzle on pieces of the tarte when serving if you wish. Or use it to make some hot buttered rum.

 

It should look something like this when you flip it over:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream or your favorite topping. Enjoy!

You’re probably reading this trying to figure out how anyone could possibly involve that most innocent and good-hearted of dogs, the Golden Retriever, in a con, but I did.

Dogs have always been a part of my life and never was I more attached to a dog than to my Golden Retriever Jasmine. Over the years many others have walked beside me, but Jasmine still remains in a class of her own, both in beauty and behavior, she was more than a dog. She had come into my life during my high school years and accompanied me nearly everywhere.

When it was time to go to college I chose a school where Jasmine was welcome too, and I doubt there were many on campus who did not know her. Though the ups and downs of college life she remained, as always, happy go lucky and by my side. She loved the college lifestyle, right down to the weekend keg parties.

Somewhere in my 2nd or third year I began a long distance relationship with a guy who lived in NYC. He often took the train to Massachusetts on the weekends, but when it came time to visit him I was in a quandary, what should I do about Jasmine? There were friends she could have stayed with, but the truth was, I liked having her with me. I wanted to bring her to NY. I had a car, but was not keen on driving (and parking) in the city. After a few memorable (terrifying) experiences in the Bronx getting cars back that had been towed from the streets of Manhattan, I was understandably skittish about giving it a go. I wanted to take the train. I wanted to take the dog.

Only guide dogs for the blind were permitted on Amtrak trains, at least that was the way it was thirty years ago. Fortunately Jasmine was not only the right breed, but she had a stellar temperament and a touch of the actress in her as well. I got myself an authentic looking harness for her, and I wore my Ray-Bans. I would have a friend take me to the station, buy my ticket and “escort” me to the train so that I wouldn’t have to deal with too many details and risk a slip-up. Jasmine enjoyed the train, and I managed to pull off my con without incident. The most difficult part was remembering not to read anything during the trip, and to try and not look out the window! The first time went so well we began making the trip about once a month, sometimes more often.

Except for a few white lies I had to tell when people struck up a conversation with me during the ride, my ruse was never detected. Jasmine was a dog who was hard to think of suspiciously, if the conductors suspected they never said a word.

My objective had been merely to get from Massachusetts to New York City on the train with my dog but I ended up with more than I expected. These trips afforded me an unanticipated benefit: they gave me a small taste of what it must be like to be blind, just because I had to pretend that I was. To not be able to read, except for braille of course, to navigate the outside world via only a trusted canine (or a cane), how brave the blind are, and what a gift a “real” guide dog must be to someone who cannot see. When we would emerge from Penn Station into the crazy madness of Manhattan it would strike me how daunting it must be, to be blind.

More than twenty years later the use of dogs and other animals (even mini horses) for various forms of therapy and assistance is more widespread and growing as we learn more and more how valuable they can be to those in need. What began as a “con” for me turned into a unique learning experience and a lasting empathy. We had lots of great times in New York City with Jasmine, and even though I was fully sighted, she was my guide.wordpress hit counter

I knew I was on thin ice with my boss.  I’d lost several accounts in the months after the death of my child to SIDS, and though I had begun to emerge from the cloying fog of my grief I was well aware that I had fences to mend.  So it was that I found myself at my desk early today, catching up in the calm that precedes the hectic cacophony of our office before the phones begin to sound like the thundering hooves of race horses when the 9:30 bell rings.

Deep in my work I nonetheless could not resist allowing my eyes to occasionally wander to the breathtaking view of the Hudson River that  spilled before me from my  window on the 83rd floor of the World Trade Center.  I never tired of it, in gray skies or fair, winter or summer the scenes played out before me were an eternal source of fascination and sometimes yes, I cursed them for their distraction, but not often.

Then everything changed.  A few short minutes ago I was violently propelled from my chair and tossed across my small office and came to rest against the window after an impact that I immediately associated, crazily enough with a gas explosion, as in natural gas.  I was disoriented in that way that one sometimes feels in the moments of first awakening from a sound sleep, but it was a short lived reprieve, within minutes  my office filled with a thick black smoke and  I began to hear screaming and crying from all directions.  I felt as I were not present, that this was happening to someone else and for a moment I was literally paralyzed but this didn’t last long.  I snapped out of it and  picked myself up, realized I was bleeding from somewhere and wiped off my face. Alarms were sounding but I could see very little.  I cried out and got answers back.  I groped through the darkness for my tote bag and found the Reeboks I usually wore for my trek from the train to the office and put them on.  I was thinking.  I was thinking that this is something I COULD do. I also grabbed my water bottle, took a big gulp and held it under my arm and crept out the doorway, calling out to co-workers and miraculously getting answers.

Down, we had to get down.  In my panic I realized I’d left my cell phone back in my office and went back to get it, the smoke thicker now, Rick , one of my fellow analysts grabbed me by the arm and said not to try and get it, we had to get out.  I knew he was right and let him lead me towards the stairway we had been trained to evacuate via.  But it was blocked.  The smoke was getting thicker, and we were on our knees now, more co-workers plus the boss I had been trying to impress by not only not being late but being early into work was there, he looked at me and put an arm around my shoulder and said, “I wish today you had been late.”  “So do I,” I coughed.  It was a plane we soon found out, and not as soon but nearly so it became apparent that we were trapped, no way out up or down.  Surely, I thought, they can hoist us up with helicopters, surely this would be possible, but apparently not.  Oddly our little group found ourselves by my office, I had completed something of a circle, and on my knees, now grasping the futility of walking out of this Hades crawled back in, and rummaging through my bag this time, I was able to find my cell.

Miraculously I had managed to hold onto my water bottle and used it to dampen a towel I had once used to sop up my baby girl’s drool, her sweet little baby spittle.  Now it covered my mouth in a vain attempt to filter out the thickening smoke.  It wasn’t just the smoke, the heat was getting extreme, so I doused my head with more water and hovered close to the floor as I hit the speed dial on my phone, desperately trying to reach my husband, my estranged husband.  I dialed the number over and over, all I got were busy signals, of course they’re busy, everyone is on the phone.  This is a big deal.  The air was noxious and hot and I couldn’t stand it any more.  I grabbed  a chair and began hitting the window as hard as I could.  It took everything I had but finally the glass gave way and for a few brief moments as I filled my lungs with clean fresh air, I was filled with renewed hope, maybe I would get out of this, maybe.

My fear of heights was pushed aside by my greater desire for oxygen as I sought to get myself as far as I could safely out the window.  I found that by straddling over the sill and sitting on the double folded Burberry I kept in the office for surprise rainy days I was able to calm myself, breathe deeply and for the first time look around above, below and to my sides.  I was surrounded by others experiencing the same thing as I, faced with smoke and flames we had all been forced to do the only thing possible to us, we were all hanging half in and half out of our windows.  Some were waving pieces of their shirts,  desperately trying to attract the attention of the helicopters.  Hot and desperate I took off my blouse and began waving it too.  And then, and then I realized there were people, people falling from above me, some headfirst, others as if they were trying to fly in a final fantasy.  Then I knew, I knew before long it would be a choice for me too.

Peter, Peter, now the tears were running hot down my face and as I gulped the air and looked above toward the surreal cobalt blue sky, the beautiful blue sky I wished only to hear his voice one more time and to tell him that he had done nothing wrong, that my grief for our child had simply overwhelmed me and that we would have found our way back together, if only I could tell him that, and then, and then a miracle happened.  A hand, a human hand, reached over from the left and gripped my own.

The heat from my office was quickly becoming more than anyone could bear and  I leaned outward, further than I had dared before, both  to escape the heat and smoke and  to see whose hand this was, this man’s hand that transmitted all the love and desperation of that moment and through it’s slippery iron grip, I too sent my own love back.  And we held on to each other, like a drowning man grips a life ring, and our eyes met and it was my boss and in his eyes I saw that he knew, he understood and I knew and I understood.  In a brief instant we were forged together, no longer co-workers, we were man and woman, faced with the ultimate truth, and without any words we both knew that we would not face the inexorable climax of our destiny here alone, no, we would not.  Long moments passed, and our hands fused as if welded together.  The heat was burning my back and  when the wind shifted the smoke quickly enveloped us in a thick and noxious cloud so that even hanging out the window we were choking, suffocating. Still, he held my hand and when the wind shifted once more, a respite from the smoke and one last clear view of that beautiful sky and we knew.  Our choice had come.  It was our choice.

A long wordless look between us and a nod from me, our fingers entwined I swung my other leg over the sill and as the flames and smoke licked at us, we stepped into the void.

Abby on Wild Eyes
Photo Richard Hartog/AP

June 10, 2010 —  Abby Sunderland, a 16 year old from California, has activated two emergency beacons from her 40′ sailing yacht Wild Eyes.  Abby is attempting to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the world alone and had just reached the halfway mark a few days previously.  Her last known position put her approximately halfway between Africa and Australia with the nearest ship some 40 hours away.

Abby’s original goal was to sail non-stop  unassisted around the world and  be the youngest to do it.   She departed Marina Del Ray January 23rd but was beset by equipment problems from the outset and pulled into Cabo San Lucas for repairs, after which she restarted her circumnavigation from there.  Plagued by continuing problems with her autopilot system she abandoned her goal of sailing non-stop and pulled into Cape Town for repairs.  She still had hopes of being the youngest the solo circumnavigator when she continued on her voyage just a few short weeks ago.

Jessica Watson a young Australian, recently completed her solo non-stop circumnavigation on her 34′ sailboat Pink Lady.  She arrived triumphantly in Sydney harbor to the delight of thousands of fans who had come to greet her.  Her trip had an inauspicious start that nearly ended her quest before it had truly begun when she t-boned a freighter on a shakedown cruise after imprudently napping whilst in a shipping channel.  Her family came under scrutiny for permitting their young daughter to embark on her journey but Jessica proved to be both an able sailor and a lucky one.

Many naysayers have called into question the wisdom of parents that would permit their child to undertake such a perilous trip, I among them.  The quest for fame is a powerful drug and one has to wonder, how much younger will the next kid be?  Next a ten year old on Everest?  Or a nine year old sailing around the world?  How much of this is the result of the parents projecting their own dreams and aspirations onto their children?

Even when such a goal is clearly the child’s own, that doesn’t mean we should permit them to do it.  Wait.  Guinness no longer honors these “youngest” types of records and neither do the governing sailing bodies.  The brains of teenagers may be developed enough to have the sailing skills required but are they truly mature enough to understand the full risks involved?  I don’t think so.

In Abby’s case I think too she was engaged in a bit of one-upmanship with her brother Zach who completed his own solo circumnavigation last year in August.  He did stop along the way and held the record for the youngest sailor to achieve this feat for a mere few weeks before he was bested by yet a younger sailor.  Zach achieved a degree of notoriety that no doubt attracted Abby.

On Abby’s side is the fact that the two EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) that have gone off were self-activated.  She has another EPIRB that goes off automatically when it is submerged in water, this has not gone off at this writing.  She has lost radio/satellite communication though so it is impossible to say for sure that Wild Eyes has not been dismasted or rolled.   Abby has a level head and lots of safety gear, hopefully she will be found a little older and wiser, with nothing more than a few bumps and bruises.  I sincerely hope so.

Abby’s parents are updating her blog, which can be found here.


I will continue to update this blog as more news becomes available.

UPDATE:  Below is a map created by the LA times at 3:30 PDST, June 10 which indicates Abby’s position.

6/10/10 11:27 PM PDST  UPDATE:  According a post made by Abby’s parents at 11:27 PDST Abby’s vessel Wild Eyes has been located.  She is upright but has lost her mast.  “Radio communication was made and Abby reports that she is fine!”

Let’s hope that the rescue continues without incident and Abby is able to resume her life as a teenager doing teenage things, perhaps attending high school will be on the agenda!

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Lemons and Asparagus- A Match Made in Heaven

There are so many wonderful ways to cook and eat asparagus, surely an entire book could easily be devoted to this tasty harbinger of spring.  I’d been eating it all my life, but had never seen it in it’s natural state till I went away to school.  The college I attended had been built relatively recently on active farmland, evidenced by the apples each fall and the appearance of asparagus each spring in the fields that were part of our campus.  As college students who cooked our own meals we were always looking to save money (more for beer!) and so we foraged the now fallow (but not really) fields for free vegetables!  A patch of straw or dead grasses might even reveal white asparagus, an especially desirable treasure if only because of it’s relative scarcity.
If you want to try growing asparagus you will need some patience, it takes about three years for a patch to begin producing well.  You can grow it from seeds (cheap and slow) or purchase mature “crowns”(expensive and fast).  Your patience will be well rewarded as this perennial (and self seeding) lily will produce for fifteen years or more.

Asparagus spears can grow more than a foot a day!

Select asparagus with firm, intact and closed tips.  Many people believe that “thick” asparagus will lack the tenderness of the pencil thin ones but I don’t.  The thicker asparagus can be just as delicate,  more of a function of freshness and  the variety grown than the diameter of the stalk.

If your asparagus has traveled far, chances are the base of the stems are woody and may even retain some of the sand or soil they were grown in.  Bend a stalk slowly till it breaks, the point at which it snaps is where the good part of the asparagus begins.   If your bunch is of various thicknesses it may be desirable to peel the thicker ones with a vegetable peeler to make them uniform.  Peeling the bottom half of the asparagus can often help to remove the more fibrous bits if your asparagus is long out of the soil.  Personally I find it unnecessary if it is very fresh.  If you are not going to be cooking all of the asparagus you bought immediately, trim off the ends and place in a glass with a few inches of water and keep in the fridge.  This will maintain freshness for many days if you keep changing the water, and re-trim the bottoms  if they appear shriveled.
Really fresh asparagus is perfectly delicious raw, but if I were serving a crudite platter and using thicker asparagus, I advise you to briefly blanch them.
There are many ways of cooking asparagus and they all have their advantages.  I prefer to blanch my asparagus first, no matter how I choose to finish its cooking.  I plunge them into boiling water for a few minutes, preferably using a tall sided saute pan, then into ice water (even better, add a few drops of lemon juice).  The skinnier they are, the less you need to cook them.  Keep them in the fridge till everything else you’re serving is nearly ready.  Not only does this fix their brilliant green color but it makes the final cooking very fast and controllable.  Later I may choose to eat them cold, saute in melted butter (or olive oil) to heat up and then serve with some traditional Hollandaise, or a simple pat of butter and squeeze of lemon and some cracked pepper.
Grilling asparagus has become a favorite method, the added nuance of carmelization gives them an extra zing and is particularly suited to the rustic Italian style of food that I prefer.  Blanch first, marinate in some olive oil and whatever else you care to toss in, and onto the grill they go.  TIP:  To prevent the asparagus from falling between the grates of your grill T-bone three or four spears at a time with a bamboo skewer – it really helps and makes them easy to turn too.
After the final grilling (or sauteing) they can be served hot, room temperature, or even cold.  They can be dressed with a wide variety of sauces, or nothing at all.  My favorite dressing?  Surprise, it’s Italian!  Please try it even if you “think” you don’t care for anchovies.  You will be shocked how delicious this will taste and be converted.
And Away We Go

A few cloves of chopped garlic

Half a tin of anchovies (or more)

Juice of one average lemon

A few glugs of fine quality extra virgin olive oil

A few tablespoons of butter

Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan cheese, the good stuff), shave it with a vegetable peeler or use the large size on a box grater

Parmigiano Reggiano - Accept no substitutes

Saute the garlic slowly in butter, as it begins to turn golden add a few glugs of olive oil then add the anchovies, stir and mash them up with a wooden spoon.  The anchovies will begin to “melt.” Watch the heat and be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add lemon juice and let it simmer a minute or two, adding a bit more olive oil.  Pour over asparagus and sprinkle with Parmigiano.

I like to garnish with thin slices of lemon like in the picture above. Remember, this is delicious hot, room temperature or cold.  If you’re serving it cold have the dressing at room temperature or warmed.

Just in case you were wondering, the smelly pee that many experience after ingesting asparagus turns out to be a genetic thing. Apparently about half of the general population makes stinky urine after eating asparagus, and another percentage possess a gene that allows them to smell it.  So you may produce smelly pee and not be able to smell it yourself, not be able to produce stinky smell and not smell stinky pee, be able to smell stinky pee in others but not produce it yourself OR be able to smell it and produce it. Scientists don’t have a definitive answer, but stinky pee pee is probably linked to something called methyl mercaptan (same thing that makes skunk spray stink), and the presence (or not) of certain enzymes in our gut that break down the asparagus.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, if he were alive he would have been 115 years old. If you are unfamiliar with his work google him. He of course won the Nobel Peace Prize, and was a great philosopher, and a medical doctor, but when I think of him, I think of a compassionate humanist.

I was thinking of him these past few days because of the disaster in Haiti, and the human suffering that is going on there right now, and has been going on there for centuries. Schweitzer dedicated his life to alleviating human suffering and to, in some small way, right wrongs perpetrated by colonialists and white imperialism. Haiti is undoubtedly as vivid an example of the awful results of this shameful past as any poverty stricken country in Africa.

“Who can describe the injustice and cruelties that in the course of centuries they [the coloured peoples] have suffered at the hands of Europeans? … If a record could be compiled of all that has happened between the white and the coloured races, it would make a book containing numbers of pages which the reader would have to turn over unread because their contents would be too horrible.”

It came as no surprise to learn that there is an Albert Schweitzer hospital in Haiti, and as luck would have it, it is located outside the damaged zone. It has been operating for over fifty years and is a fully functioning facility with all the attendant infrastructure. As would be expected they are swamped with patients and at this point the doctors are near breaking point, working round the clock doing the best they can with what they have. Right now they are in need of more supplies and more doctors. Their hospital is unharmed. Ironically while other hospitals lie in rubble there are doctors (now with nowhere to practice) who may not know their services are desperately needed at the fully functioning and intact Schweitzer facility.

Communications are largely limited to the internet and the director of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital Haiti, Ian Rawson, has started a blog. It is a unique, on the ground perspective of what is going on there, and I for one am overwhelmed with emotion reading this. It is wrenching. It is happening now. We can help here.

UPDATED: January 19th, 2010
Haiti Hospital: 500 Patients in an 80 Bed Facility
January 19, 2010 4:03 PM
ABC News Senior Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser reports from Port au Prince, Haiti:
8:30AM
On the road to Hospital Albert Schweitzer, 50 miles and 3 hours north of Port au Prince. I want to see what is
happening at one of the closest full-service hospitals to the city. Racing thru traffic. More than a dozen water
tanker trucks so far. That is a new and promising sign. Traffic is incredibly bad. Fruit for sale by the side of the
road. People, people walking everywhere.
Bridge is blocked. Not safe. Need to try another route.
Found bridge and now barreling down ruddy roads. Good news is the speedometer is broken, otherwise I’d be
even more nervous.
Major deforestation on the both sides. Little development. Nearing site of old Club Med. Closed for more than
a decade.
3PM
On the way back to Port au Prince. Hospital Albert Schweitzer incredible.
500 patients in an 80 bed facility. Patients have traveled here to get care
they couldn’t find in Port au Prince. Head trauma, multiple fractures,
infected wounds. 20-30 orthopedic surgeries since sunday. Staff
exhausted. Running out of pain medicine and antibiotics.
I ask the head pediatrician about the regular patients: children with
malnutrition, pneumonia, typhoid fever. She doesn’t know where they are.
Travel is difficult and there is little room for anything but trauma.

Ian Rawson, a gentle soul who runs the hospital, feels the suffering of the Haitian people deeply. He was
raised here and has worked for 50 years on HAS going back and forth to the US. His eyes tear up as I ask
him about the past week. Due to decreased philanthropy he had laid off staff the day before the earthquake.
When the quake hit, many came back. He doesn’t know how he’ll pay them but he’ll find a way.
One week after the quake there is a major mismatch between the needs of patients and the availability of
supplies, facilities, and trained staff. So much of the success going forward will depend on logistics: getting
medical supplies flowing, getting hospitals up and running, clearing the logjam of patients needing care, and
figuring out where homeless people can go to recuperate.

The Albert Schweitzer Hospital Haiti Blog

Direct to Main Hospital Site (more info and donations)

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” I am not a hero, People sometimes call me a hero, I don’t like it.  Because people should never think that you have to be a very special person to help those who need you.  I myself am just a fairly common person.  I simply had no choice.  I could foresee many, many sleepless nights, and a life filled with regret if I would refuse to help the Franks, and this was not the kind of life I was looking forward to.” From a speech in California in 1996

The Frank Family

Miep Gies died today, she was one hundred years old.  A remarkable woman, she was sent from her native Austria to Holland as a  young girl, and grew to be an attractive and capable woman.  Gainfully employed by a successful businessman named Otto Frank as a secretary in his spice company, her early twenties gave no hint at the drama that was to enfold in the context of the war ahead.  Events and circumstances that would prove to be the defining events of her life.

Miep Gies  became  far more than a secretary to Otto Frank. When the Germans occupied Holland Miep was faced with a decision, would she enable the Franks (and four others) to hide in the annex behind the office, keep their secret and look after them while they hid from the Nazis?  It never ocurred to her not to do it.

When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands there were some 140,00 Jews living there, of those 107,000 were “deported,” and approximately 5,200 of them survived.  Remaining behind were about 24,000 who went into hiding, and of those some 8,000 were hunted down or turned in.

Miep Then

More Recently

During the occupation she took risks on a daily basis that would have resulted in her death.  She was not alone, her husband Jan and three others all worked together to hide Ottoa and Edith Frank, their daughters Anne and Margot, Herman Van Daan and his wife Petronella, son Peter and an elderly dentist Albert Dussel.  All of them risked death on a daily basis providing them with the necessities of life.

After nearly two long years they were betrayed.  The mystery of who tipped off the Germans has never been solved.  Desperate to save them, Miep made a last ditch effort to bribe them out of custody, but she was unsuccessful, they had already been shipped off to concentration camps. Returning to the empty annex she found Anne’s papers strewn all over the floor.  She gathered them up and hid them, hoping that someday she would be able to return them to Anne.  She never read them, feeling that would be an invasion of privacy.  Later she was  grateful that she had not looked at them, because if she had she would have been forced to burn them. If the diary had fallen into the wrong hands, she and others would have been revealed as members of the resistance and likely executed.

After the war when Otto Frank, the lone survivor, returned to Holland Miep turned Anne’s papers over to him, still unable to bring herself to read them.  Otto Frank lived with her and her husband Jan for some seven years, during which time Miep helped him prepare the diary for publication.  When finally she came to read the diary she was overwhelmed with gratitude for its existence, her friends lived on, they were alive once more through the writings of the enchanting Anne.  She realized that the words of Anne would serve to be a voice of hope and testimony to the world.

Miep received many honors from the Jewish community after the war, notably the “Righteous Gentile” title by Israeli Holocause Museum Yad Vashem.   She spoke to groups all over the world, dedicating herself to fighting intolerance and bigotry, and ceaselessly continued to answer the large amount of correspondence she received, particularly from children, until just before her death.  In 1987 she published a book of her own, Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family.

For more than fifty years after the war Miep would shut her curtains on the fourth of August and spoke to no one.  It was that day in 1944 that she last saw Anne Frank.

“It was the day that my Jewish friends were taken away to the death camps,” Gies said. “I have never overcome that shock. Why did these wonderful people meet such a cruel fate?”  

Prinsengracht 263, the Hiding Place

Susan Stamberg of National Public Radio conducted an interview with Miep in 1998.  It aired in August,  on the anniversary of the date that the Franks were taken by the Nazis.

The interview is in two parts.

Part One

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1025131&ps=rs

Part Two

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1025146&ps=rs

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