SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE
Local association makes life a little sweeter for military veterans.
WRITTEN BY SUE EDMONDSON
PHOTO BY SHAUN HUNTER
From left, Jan Solberg, Brenda Horton, Susan Hamarlund, and Sue Higgins of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Fleet Reserve Association
serve muffins to veterans at Carson City’s Veterans Memorial Hall
Dozens of women and a handful of men gather in Carson City’s Veterans Memorial Hall with one goal in mind — knowing how best to assist active military, disabled or low-income veterans, and their families with social welfare issues. They belong to an organization whose name is a mouthful: Ladies Auxiliary of the Fleet Reserve Association. But for all they do, they’re worthy of a long title. Much of their activity involves facilitating care, education, and patriotism. However, some of their most appreciated efforts start in the kitchen.
Labors of love
Each month, members load a van with 800 or so home-baked goods — cookies, cakes, muffins, even caramel corn — for the marines at the Corps’ Mountain Warfare Training Center. The base is tucked away in Pickel Meadows, surrounded by the Toiyabe National Forest outside of Coleville, Calif. Although the general public may not be aware of its existence, thousands of marines train there.
“The marines really appreciate our efforts,” says auxiliary president Brenda Horton. “Imagine being out in the mountains in the middle of winter, learning to survive, then coming back to the base to find someone cares enough to make you homemade cookies.”
In fact, the trainees may be appreciating the auxiliary’s baking a little too much.
“One of the sergeants told us he’s going to have to work the men harder because they’re gaining so much weight!” Horton says.
Baking is only one of the important ways the auxiliary feeds the morale of those it serves. Once a month, members take coffee, juice, fruit, and nutritional (homemade, of course) snacks to the VA Carson Valley clinic in Gardnerville. Their scheduled visits don’t go unappreciated or unnoticed.
“We’ve been told that vets try to make their appointments for the days we come,” Horton says.
Their generosity doesn’t stop there. On Memorial Day, they co-hosted a barbecue with the Fleet Reserve Association for 400 marines and their families. They put on Easter egg hunts and a pancake breakfast. At Thanksgiving, members gather dinner fixings for veterans who would otherwise lack the means to celebrate the holiday. They’ve discovered that veterans pay the favor forward by cooking a turkey dinner for other veterans and their families.
It’s clear that this is not an organization that sits back and lets others do the work.
“It’s actually anything but,” Horton says. “We do whatever we can to help our military, veterans, and their families.”
Freelance writer Sue Edmondson has written for various Northern Nevada and Northern California publications. She admires the dedication and baking skills of auxiliary members.
(courtesy of Brenda Horton, president, Ladies Auxiliary of the Fleet Reserve Association in Carson City. Makes 8 cookies)
½ cup almonds, sliced
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 egg white
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Toast almonds on baking sheet until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Combine sugar, flour, egg white, butter, salt, and almond extract in stainless-steel bowl. Stir until smooth. Gently fold in almonds until coated. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Trace 2, 6-inch circles onto a piece of parchment paper and place on baking sheet. Evenly divide batter between circles and spread with rubber spatula to entirely cover each circle. Bake 20 to 24 minutes until uniformly golden brown, rotating baking sheet 180 degrees at 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven and allow to cool 3 to 4 minutes. With pizza cutter, slice each baked circle into 4 wedge-shaped cookies. Let cool 30 minutes before removing cookies from parchment paper.
Melt chocolate using double boiler, stirring with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted and smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove chocolate from heat and continue to stir until temperature lowers to 90 degrees F on candy thermometer.
Dip ½ inch of rounded edge of each cookie into melted chocolate. Place cookies onto parchment paper and allow chocolate to set at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes.
Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 4 days.