FREED dishes out some food for thought |

FREED dishes out some food for thought

John HartPam Matteson, service team coordinator for FREED (left), and Ann Guerra, the executive director, serve up hors d'oeuvres.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Passion for the work and focus are the ingredients for success for any organization. Ann Guerra, executive director of FREED Center for Independent Living, carries on the passion that was evident from the very beginning of the organization in 1985.

“There was only four staff and a very dedicated board of directors,” Guerra said recently, “but they had a passion for the disability rights movement and helping people live independently.”

FREED offers services to individuals to overcome both physical and attitudinal barriers to independence. Core services include assistance with access to services; benefits and programs that enhance independence; referrals for personal assistance, access to assistive technologies, and training in independent living skills. FREED also offers information on housing, access to consumer services via the Internet and peer support in a variety of aspects relative to independence.

Guerra started with FREED as a volunteer in 1987. She eventually became a paid clerk, an independent living specialist, a director of services, the assistant director; and, a little over a year ago, was named executive director. “It’s been a great career path,” she said.

“The most important thing,” said Guerra, “is to shift our society’s perception of people with disabilities, leading to an acceptance of individuals’ capabilities. This starts with language and attitudes, and recognizing that these barriers need to be removed. When people make judgements about disabilities, they might close the door of opportunity. I am particularly drawn to the civil rights aspect of this work.”

FREED is at 154 Hughes Road, Grass Valley. The organization is presenting a Spring Garden Party and Open House from 4 to 7 p.m. May 3. Highlights include a silent auction, live music, hors d’oeuvres and a chance to get acquainted with FREED. For information about the open house or services, call 272-1732.

The directors and staff at FREED share a passion for cooking and their work. Pam Matteson is the services team coordinator and keeps everything running smoothly.

Artichoke Dip

(Pam Matteson, FREED services team coordinator)

1 can (133/4 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

11/2 teaspoons garlic powder

Drain and mash artichoke hearts. Add mayonnaise, cheese and garlic powder; mix well. Spread evenly in an ungreased glass pie plate.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until edges are lightly brown. Serve with Triscuit crackers for dipping.

Garbanzo Spread

(Janet Bullock, director)

1/2 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 bunch fresh parsley, minced

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Dash each cumin and garlic powder

Juice of 1 lemon

3 cups cooked, mashed garbanzo beans

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Serve with crackers or as a sandwich spread.

Chili Relleno Squares

(Pam Matteson)

5 beaten eggs

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 ounces cottage cheese

8 ounces jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup butter

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

Combine dry ingredients then add the remaining ingredients. Pour into 9-by-13-inch ungreased pan. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and lightly browned. Cool and cut into squares. Good cold, warm or room temperature.

Green Eggs

(Peggy Cone, independent living skills specialist, especially for nursing homes)

6 hard-cooked eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine

2 tablespoons chives

1 medium dill pickle chopped

2 tablespoons capers

Slice eggs in half and remove yolks. Mash yokes then add remaining ingredients, adding mayonnaise last. Refill egg halves with yolk mixture. Chill before serving.

Chocolate Cherry Cake

(Irita Warner, director)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 can (21 ounces) cherry pie filling

1 18-ounce Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Combine eggs and almond extract in large mixing bowl and beat with mixer.

Add cake mix and cherry filling and mix by hand (so as not to break up the cherries). Batter will be thick and lumpy. Pour into prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until knife comes out clean. Let cool slightly. Pour milk chocolate glaze over cake.

Milk Chocolate Glaze

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoons margarine

1/3 cup milk

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Combine ingredients, except for chocolate chips, in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Let boil one minute. Remove from heat; add chocolate chips and blend until smooth. Pour over cake. Cool then cut into squares. Place in small paper cups.

Spinach Fritatta

(Laura Keranen, director)

3 boxes or 1 large plastic bag frozen chopped spinach

1 bunch scallions, chopped finely

8 eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded Swiss or cheddar cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter a rectangular Pyrex baking dish. Defrost spinach, drain, and press out water with paper towels.

Combine spinach with scallions and shredded cheese in large mixing bowl and toss to mix. Add sour cream, eggs and seasonings and blend. Pour into Pyrex dish and top with Parmesan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve within 15 minutes to retain fluffiness.

Serves eight as a side dish or makes 48 hors d’oeuvres “bites” that can be served hot or at room temperature.

Baked Brie Bok-Style

(Sharon Bailey-Bok, director, and Curtis Bok)

This is a pot luck and holiday favorite.

1 brie cheese round (8 to 12 ounces)

1 frozen pastry sheet

1 egg and 1 teaspoon water

1/2 cup or so mango chutney (or favorite jam)

1/3 cup or so dried cranberries

1/2 cup or so toasted sliced almonds (optional)

Crackers or baguettes

Thaw pastry sheet to room temperature. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix egg and water and set aside.

Lay out pastry; cut corners to form circle. Spread chutney to within 1 inch of pastry edges. Sprinkle cranberries and almonds on chutney. Place the brie round in the center of the pastry. Brush the egg mixture on the 1-inch pastry edge. Fold two opposite sides of the pastry over the cheese. Then fold the other two sides (trim, if needed) and press all edges together to seal.

Place seam-side down on baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture and top with a few cranberries.

Bake 20 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool 45 minutes to one hour before serving. Serve with crackers or pieces of baguette.

Pecan Tarts

(Ann Guerra)


3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup flour

Combine all ingredients with a fork to form dough. Shape into small cups to line sections in mini muffin pan.


1 egg

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients. Place a portion inside each dough-lined muffin cup. Bake 15-20 minutes. Makes about two dozen tarts.

Bette Worth writes a column for The Union on Wednesdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or she can be reached at

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