Monday, November 2, 2009

Shopping for a Worthy Cause - Balsam Mtn. Style

If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, here’s a recommendation for stocking up on some great gifts AND supporting a worthwhile cause at the same time.

Stock up now at $17.95 a pint - all natural Balsam Mountain Preserves!

Yesterday afternoon, I checked out a bake sale at Balsam Mountain Preserve.

As you’ve read in the local newspapers, Balsam Mountain Preserve is facing foreclosure on a couple of loans from the private equity lender, Trilyn. (If you were following this blog back on June 8, 2007 you would have already known about the Trilyn deal with BMP. For newcomers, you can get up to speed by clicking on Anyhow…)

I salute the folks who bought lots at Balsam Mountain Preserve.

During this current crisis, they’re taking the bull by the horns, they’re stepping up to the plate, and they’re lifting themselves by the bootstraps to forestall foreclosure. In fact, that was the purpose of yesterday’s bake sale. The industrious Balsamians had concocted a whole roomful of tasty treats for the cause. It all looked so delicious, and smelled good, too. I wanted (at least) one of everything.

The prices weren’t cheap, though. At least not by my standards. I’ve never paid more than a dollar for a single cookie. Except on one recent occasion. I happened to be at the Asheville Mall on my birthday this year and to celebrate the double-nickel I bought one of those gigantic birthday cookies with my name scrawled in colorful icing. They even took my picture and imprinted it on the cookie somehow. When it was done, they started parading around in a circle and clapping their hands and singing some cheesy hip-hoppy birthday song to me:

"...and a hap-hap-hap-pee burr-urth day to yo-ho-ho."

Oh how I despise the Mallification of America Culture. My Asheville Mall cookie cost way more than a buck, but of course it was the size of a large pepperoni pizza. It tasted like crap, though, and most of it ended up in the trash.

Not so for the delicacies at the Balsam Mountain Preserve bake sale. These desserts were made with loving care from the finest ingredients. Expensive, yes, but I know these good people need to raise a lot of money in a short time.

I had an especially enjoyable encounter at the bake sale.

One of the cooks was an elegant middle-aged woman with a dazzling smile. For some reason, she looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t place where (or if) I’d seen her before.

Rose Qualley, at the Balsam Mountain Preserve Bake Sale this weekend

She said her name was Rose Qualley and she loved riding her horses around BMP. The more she talked in that sweet Southern drawl, the more I wanted to sample her wares.

“Are these your cookies?” I asked, and she launched into a long story about obtaining the recipe at an exorbitant price. After all that, I bought three dozen and she gave me a copy of the recipe, to boot. I don’t want to admit what I paid for those cookies, but it was worth every penny, just to see her smile.

If you missed the bake sale, you can still help Rose and the other people who are struggling to save Balsam Mountain Preserve.

As part of their fundraising strategy, they’ve cooked up a big batch of fruity goodness they’re calling Balsam Mountain Preserves. And while supplies last, you can buy it for $17.95 a pint. Rose referred me to one of her equally charming neighbors who pitched the product by announcing, “You can get us out of a JAM if you buy our PRESERVES.”

We all got a big laugh out of that one.

“Okay,” I said to the blond lady in her designer apron and pearls, “tell me about these preserves. They’re actually homemade?”

The "Preserves" lady at the Bake Sale

She continued. “Oh yes. We even gathered the fruit right here on the property. I had never picked wild berries before, so I had no idea what I was in for. I was scared to death I’d run into a bear or step on a rattlesnake. But I survived that part of it. I’ll tell you one thing, though, once we pay off the loan, I never want to see another wild berry again.”

We all got a big laugh out of that one.

“We put up 157,614 pints of preserves. And at $17.95 a jar… Well you can do the math… It won’t cover the full amount, but it sure will help. So tell all your friends. This makes a great Christmas gift.”

Beaming with pride, she lofted a jar…

…and I bought a dozen.

After savoring a dollop of Balsam Mountain Preserves on my toast this morning I can attest to the high quality.


Almost as memorable as Rose Qualley’s cookies!

So I would urge you to help out the cause. The easiest way is to drop by the main entrance of Balsam Mountain Preserve, where you can buy as many pints as you need.

To promote this fundraising effort, they’ve even erected a series of Burma Shave-style signs (anybody remember those?) on Highway 74 as you approach BMP:





As I mentioned before, Rose Qualley also provided a copy of this recipe and story along with her cookies:

My daughter and I had just finished a salad at Neiman-Marcus Cafe in Dallas & decided to have a small dessert. Because both of us are such cookie lovers, we decided to try the "Neiman-Marcus Cookie". It was so excellent that I asked if they would give me the recipe and the waitress said with a small frown "I'm afraid not." Well" I said, "would you let me buy the recipe?"

With a cute smile, she said “YES”. I asked how much and she responded, "Only two fifty, it's a great deal!" I said with approval, "just add it to my tab". Thirty days later, I received my VISA statement from Neiman-Marcus and it was $285.00. I looked again and remembered I had only spent $9.95 for two salads and about $20.00 for a scarf. As I glanced at the bottom of the statement, it said, "Cookie Recipe - $250.00". That's outrageous!!!

I called Neiman's Accounting Dept. and told them that the waitress said it was "two-fifty," which clearly does not mean "two hundred and fifty dollars" by any POSSIBLE interpretation of the phrase. Neiman-Marcus refused to budge. They would not refund my money, because according to them, "What the waitress told you is not our problem. You have already seen the recipe - we absolutely will not refund your money at this point."

I explained to her the criminal statutes which govern fraud in Texas. I threatened to refer them to the Better Business Bureau and the State's Attorney General for engaging in fraud. I was basically told, "Do what you want, we don’t give a damn, and we're not refunding your money." I waited a moment, thinking of how I could get even, or even try to get any of my money back. I just said, "Okay, you folks got my $250.00, and now I'm going to have $250.00 worth of fun."

I told her that I was going to see to it that every cookie lover in the United States has a $250.00 cookie recipe from Neiman-Marcus... for free. She replied, "I wish you wouldn't do this" I said, "Well you should have thought of that before you ripped me off", and slammed down the phone on her.. So, here it is!!!

Please, please, please pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of. I paid $250.00 dollars for this... I don't want Neiman-Marcus to ever get another penny off of this recipe....

(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies. Have Fun!!!



Anonymous said...

Great story on BMP!

The cookie story has been flying about for 15 yrs. It is a hoax, btw.

Regarding dear Rose. "A rose by..."

GULAHIYI said...

A hoax? I don't know. Rose seemed really sincere, and she didn't say when it happened. It might have been 15 years ago for all I know.

Also, I remembered why she looked kind of familiar. Rose Qualley looks a little like the model in the L'oreal ads, except Rose looks a whole lot older. I'm not saying that in a bad way...maybe it's her daughter that is the model in the ads. If I ever see her again, I'll be sure to ask.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to have come- I'm having a serious itch to walk a ridge anyway.

Congratulations on your birthday!

I nodded while I read what you wrote about bake sales. My maternal grandmother was a Norwood Church of God member and many of the best meals I ever had were at their fellowship hall. The Real Ostentatious French Bakery here on 36th Street does not rival the bake sales at that little church. I wish I had paid attention in her kitchen; most of what I know about cooking was handed down from her, but I still can't bake, cornbread excepted.

A friend with a plum tree decided to put up some plum jelly last year and gave me a jar. I was pleased he thought of me, but a little dubious when he said it was their first time ever putting up anything. A couple days later I put some on wheat toast, sat down with my coffee by the window, and got up and walked around laughing after I tasted it, it was so amazing. I'm glad you are having similar experiences.


Anonymous said...

so glad to read the article. At first glance I thought it was a money jar that we would be seeing in local places for donations. you know the kind to help out worthy causes.
thank you so much for keeping us up to date.
Happy 55 will speed you on to 60 miles an hour before you know it! we will enjoy the ride with your writings! thanks much!

Anonymous said...

Birthday? What day???

Anonymous said...

Check out what has to say about Rose's recipe. It is mighty good even though no one paid $250 or $125 for it:

Yum Yum. Happy Birthday, fellow Scorpio!:)

GULAHIYI said...

No, no, no. My Ill-Chosen-Birthday-Cookie Episode occured back in the summer. Let's just say I'm a Leo and let it go at that.

I sure do hope they were able to sell a few more cases of Balsam Mountain Preserves today - a great Christmas gift OR a great birthday gift. You can't go wrong with that choice.

Betty Cloer Wallace said...

I bought the Elizabeth Adams book you've written about several times (The Location, The Luxury, The Life: Why the Rich Can't Resist Intrawest). I found especially insightful the history of marketing resort real estate per status and dreams, the notion of exclusivity (exclusion) created by gated pseudo-communities, and the gullibility of otherwise intelligent people who fall victim to the fantasy (fantastic) marketing of such places.

On a far smaller and less grandiose scale than the massive Intrawest Corp offerings, though, our mountains are irredeemably populated with thousands of tiny developments with names such as Eagle's Nest and Heaven's Cove and Laurel Ridge that have catered to the same dreams, the same illusions. There seems to be no end to such elitist fantasies, in spite of the increasing number of rude awakenings when the bubbles burst.

GULAHIYI said...

Good to hear from you, Betty. I thought Elizabeth Adams' book was quite revealing with its history of luxury and motivational psychology behind the marketing of resort developments. I contacted Elizabeth and found her to be quite gracious and perceptive about the local situation.

The "fantasy-based reality" fits right in with the "Mallification of American Culture" and I don't see anything that leads me to believe this country will change course. Oh yes, the resort marketers are moving on from "fantasy-based reality" to "authenticity." It's all bread and circuses to me.

Betty Cloer Wallace said...

And, once again, more dreams and shenanigans are busted!

Check out today's FRANKLIN PRESS (10/4/09). Two-thirds of the front page (continued inside) is about the 2,200-acre Wildflower development on Cowee Mountain, including Macon Bank suing assorted entities (a mortgage company, brokers, a bank lawyer, a title guaranty company, and five property owners) for the bank being "duped into making questionable loans" and for "wrongdoing, defying bank instructions, and setting up an interest cash-back scheme for borrowers."

The two Wildflower stories by Quintin Ellison are in the hard-copy FRANKLIN PRESS today, but not on their website.

dwbrewin said...

I'm really impressed with those folks putting up over 157,000 pints of peresrves. That meant that they had to pick over 75,000 pounds of fruit. We're their gardners helping with this or did they do it all with own little manicured hands? Is the preserve somewhat of a wasteland after the fruit locusts descended? I guess they must have turned the clubhouse kitchen into the community canning shed.

GULAHIYI said...

Come to think of it, Rose Qualley did mention something about how she was able to get a discount on L'Oreal skin lotion to keep all those industrious, manicured hands looking smooth and wrinkle-free.

Anonymous said...



vicki said...

Rose Qualley is, in fact, Andie MacDowell, actress and model. I was in line behind her today at EarthFare and she looks even better without makeup!

GULAHIYI said...

What a funny coincidence. I talked to an Ashevillian yesterday who had just been waiting in line at the movies next to Andie.