27 February, 2008

Go. Eat. Enjoy.

Poking around on the interwebs this morning, I came across this contest. I don't really need the excuse of a contest to share this recipe with you, but who doesn't love a good contest? And this is some truly fantastic pie. The recipe for Butterscotch Meringue Pie is my Grama's recipe. She grew up as the only daughter in a house full of boys (eight of them, actually) and my Grama could COOK. I don't know that this recipe is any family secret so I won't toy with you by not including all the ingredients or some evil cooking-show-type trick like that. Grama loved to bake and cook and have people in for meals (she once fed two runaway rapscallions...but that's a story for another day), so I'm sure she would be pleased to share this recipe with you if she could.*

Butterscotch Meringue Pie (Most of the time, I just make the filling and we serve it as pudding, but special occasions call for Real Pie; suit yourself):


1/3 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar (use dark if you have it)
1 c. boiling water
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 2/3 c. cold milk (we use fat free which works just fine, but use whatever you like)
3 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 9-inch baked pie shell (regular or graham crust - whatever)
6 Tbsp. sugar


For the filling:

1) Separate the eggs into two bowls and set aside.

2) Combine the cornstarch and salt and 1/3 c. of the milk. Once that's combined, add the rest of the milk and stir, making sure the cornstarch is dissolved.

3) Then, in a large saucepan, brown the butter. Really,
brown it.

4) Add the brown sugar and, stirring constantly, 'boil' it until it's almost burnt (this will give you the best flavour).

5) Add the boiling water to the sugar/butter mix and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

6) Stir in the milk/cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat for 2 minutes.

7) Temper the egg yolks by adding a couple scoops of the hot milk mixture and stirring, then add them to the filling. Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until the filling starts to thicken.

8) Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool slightly and pour into pie shell.

For the meringue:
1) Beat the egg whites in a mixer until
soft peaks form.

2) Add the sugar and beat until
stiff peaks form.

3) Spread the meringue over the pie filling and bake at 350 degrees until the meringue is golden brown.

This is homemade pie at its homemade-iest and it is fabulous. Go. Eat. Enjoy.

*Also, it is snowing LIKE. CRAZY. today and this pie is the perfect thing to top off a soup and breadsticks dinner on a cold, snowy night.

20 February, 2008

4...Nope....5 Things

I got this meme from Jenn at Loving Every Minute, except instead of four things, I'm arbitrarily changing it to five.

I'm not tagging anybody for this meme because so many of you seem awfully busy these days, but if you feel like playing along, let me know and I'll link up to you!

5 Jobs I Have Had:
Farmer's Market Clerk
Security Guard
Camp Director
Church Secretary
Domestic Engineer (I'm copying you here, Jenn....sadly, The Husband wouldn't let me list this as my occupation on our tax return this year....)

5 Jobs I'd Like to Have:
Pharmacy Technician (seriously, I ponder this one about once every two months)
Law Clerk
Church Secretary (but only if my boss(es) are as cool as last time)
Wedding Planner
Coffee or Tea House Owner

5 Movies Watched Over and Over:

Pride & Prejudice (BBC) - I think I've now watched it about 15 times.
Bend it Like Beckham
U2 Vertigo Tour
Ever After
Does my Pilates DVD count??

5 Shows I Watch:
Mercer Report
Little Mosque on the Prairie
Coronation Street (sorry, Uncle Robert)
Martha Stewart
The National

5 Places I Have Been:
Northern Ireland
Northern California (and if I can help it, I'm never going back!)

5 People Who E-mail Me:
Erin K.
My Mom

5 Favorite Things To Eat:
Almost anything chocolate - I draw the line at choc. covered bugs
Guinness Brownies
Soup, something good and mushroomy

5 Places I Would Rather Be:

5 Things I Look Forward To This Year:
Getting the painting finished in our house
Maybe moving
Meeting some new babies
Mom & Dad coming to visit
Spending my birthday in Quebec City with Erin K. and family. Woohoo! 66 more sleeps!

19 February, 2008

History Lessons

Last week, I got a special Valentine's phone call from my Aunt. Well, she's actually my Great-Aunt but whatever. It was great! After all the requisite updates about jobs, home, and baby development our conversation turned to the sentimental. My Grama passed away in 1997, my Grampa (my Aunt's brother) passed away in 2006. I did have a chance to ask my Grampa lots of questions about how he and my Grama met, but reminiscing from somebody else's perspective is an adventure in itself.

So my Aunt reminded me about how my Grandparents met and told me a funny story about a deer and I'll have to skip out some details because I'm condensing and hour's worth of conversation here....

My Grama's family escaped to Canada from Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution. They owned land and were quite wealthy until they were forced to vacate their home so it could be used as some sort of army headquarters. My Grampa's family had also immigrated to Canada from Russia, only they came much earlier. Grama and Grampa met at church when they were teenagers. I don't know if it was love at first sight or not, but at some point, things got serious. Grama's family did not approve of Grama dating Grampa. Since they were wealthy when they lived in Russia and still had money when they came to Canada, they considered Grampa's family socially inferior.

One of the standards of wealth then was if you could afford to buy animals and/or the latest farming equipment. Great-Grampa - my Grampa's Dad - once bartered for a horse only to have it drop dead at the watering hole as soon as he got it home. Grampa saved up and bought his own equipment after he and Grama were married. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Apparently, my Grama was quite the gutsy lady. One day she packed up her suitcase and walked downstairs to the door. She told her parents that either she was going to marry Grampa on her own terms or she was leaving and would never come back. So Grama's parents had no choice but to give her their blessing. The scandal of an only-daughter (there were 9 children, eight were boys) walking out would have been more than their social graces could bear. Shortly after that event, Grama and Grampa were married.

My Aunt and I speculated that one of the reasons Grama was so determined to marry Grampa was because she knew he would be her Knight in Shining Armour (and he certainly was handsome - even at 80-something he could still turn heads....he always had just the perfect twinkle in his eyes). When she was 14, Grama was raped by a cousin. The only person she ever told was Grampa and she made him promise to keep it a secret, which he did, until after she died. I know that Grama and Grampa had arguments sometimes but I would never doubt for a second how much they loved each other; I know Grampa would've fought for her again and again if he had to.


Another story my Aunt told me was about Bambi. Great-Grampa was driving the family home from something one afternoon. At some point along the road, he saw a doe run off into a field. At the same time, he heard a thump. He stopped the car, got out and realized he had hit a fawn. He thought, 'Well, it's meat for the dogs,' so he threw it in the trunk and brought it home. They had a breezeway attached to their home (a Summer Kitchen for those of you familiar with the term). When they got home, he realized that the fawn wasn't dead, just unconscious, so he decided to leave the fawn in the breezeway overnight and deal with it the next day.

The next morning, Great-Grama came out to fire up the stove and there
stood the fawn, looking straight at her. It was alive and just fine! Great-Grampa decided they would keep the deer and it became their pet - Bambi. Bambi went everywhere with them. He went in the house and would hide under the kitchen table - that is until the day Great-Grampa found him on their bed trying to eat the Christmas cactus that had been put, supposedly, out of Bambi's reach. Bambi would even go with the family when they went berry-picking. He would pile into the back seat of the car with the kids and ride along to the berry patch. When it was time to go, all the berries would be safely 'hidden' in the trunk before the kids called Bambi and he would come running over ready to go home.

At some point, word got around that the family had a tame deer at their place so parents would bring their children over on weekends to see the deer. Apparently there were several times when Bambi would jump in the cars of strangers ready to go for a ride!


My Aunt and I talked about a lot of other stories - good times, hard times, painful times, and times full of much joy. Mostly, we talked about God's faithfulness, at which point both of us got a little emotional. I am so blessed to have a Husband who loves me and is my Knight in Shining Armour. Even though we may be struggling with some things right now, God is in control of our future. He's already in Minnesota or Michigan or Wisconsin - or wherever it is we'll be moving next. He's always working in our marriage and in our little family, conforming us to His image; and He couldn't have reminded me of that in a sweeter way - thank you, Aunt G.!

I Look Like WHO?!

Kellan over at On the Upside had rather unfortunate luck when she used this face recognition thing the other day, but the resulting post was fuuuun-ny! (And maybe the software was broken that day Kellan, because you are beautiful.)

And I'm not meaning to toot my own horn, but this is the most complimentary outcome I've ever had with one of these things; I was more than a little shocked. We did one for The Husband and among his matches were Halle Berry, Dolf Lundgren and *shudder* Tom Cruise (really, whatever. He SO does NOT look like icky Tom Cruise). We also did one for the Little Goat, but when one of her best matches turned up as Jay Leno...well THAT I just refuse to post. But here's mine so you all can be amazed.*

Oh, we also did one where you upload a picture of a child and one of each parent and it tells you who the child looks more like. Well, just to let you all know the debate is settled and the outcome was: "Child looks equally like both parents." So there you go, an exact 50-50 split and we'll never have to discuss it again. Okay? Okay.

* The face you can't see is a young Sally Field.

Three Weddings and a......Baby??

Actually.....there are four babies.

Oh don't get your ovaries in a knot, none of them will be coming out of me - thank the Lord! (I had you going there though...didn't I?? Hah!)

It turns out this summer is going to be just as busy as any with weddings and new babies. We have three weddings to attend between May and August and four friends with babies due between now and August (and no, I will not be divulging the names of our pregnant friends since not all of their pregnancies are public knowledge yet).

So I'm writing to warn you all: if you get married, don't choose the 16th of August. It's already double-booked and we won't be able to make it (unless you know of some sort of teletransportation device we can use that's already perfected....I don't want to end up with all but, say, my feet, at my cousin's wedding). Also, if you have a baby this year and you aren't already on our List of Recognized Impending Births 2008, you won't be getting a baby gift until 2009 when we can replenish the Baby-Gift Slush Fund. It's not that we don't love you, it's just that, well, you missed the deadline.

Today started off sunny (of all things!) and by the time The Husband was heading home from work, we'd already had more melting, more rain, and a little snow squall. Hear ye, weather! Make up your mind!

Also, I've been slacking in posting the last couple weeks; I've been enmeshed in several games of Scrabulous on Facebook, most of which I have now lost so I consider that my penance for neglecting my friends in Bloggityville. I have a fun post I'm working on for tomorrow to placate you all, so come back, okay? See you then!

14 February, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I will be spending the afternoon shoveling and the evening alone with the Little Goat (but I know you're jealous because just look at that face!!) since The Husband volunteers on Thursday nights. Don't worry - we have an Actual Date planned for Saturday. What are your Valentine's plans?

11 February, 2008

Captain's Log : Day Three

It's day three and the snow continues to fall. Have shoveled four times since Saturday; shoulders...sore, fingers...cold, head....achy. Ice dams rapidly forming on roof, snow rake not available. Total snow fall (SO FAR)....at least 10 inches......................................

Truly, I am beginning to feel a little like Noah on his ark, except I'm Bren J. in my house, and our cats, who make enough trouble for ten cats, are the only pair of animals on board. Also, it's snowing, not raining and sending a dove out in this weather would probably result in a visit from some animal rights group. Alas, I don't really feel like writing about my *love* of snow today because I'm just that sick of it.

Instead, I will tell you that on Saturday afternoon, we attended a Pampered Chef party. We really only went for the food and the socializing because PC stuff is generally more expensive than oh, say, the Walmarts. The party started at one so the poor Little Goat only got about a 40-minute nap. The consequences of this turned out to be all win-win though. She was nice and quiet and cuddly at the party which is handy when she gets passed around a lot; she didn't need to eat while we were there either which is always nice. But the best part? She was in bed, fast asleep after her second feeding at 8pm, and DID NOT WAKE UP UNTIL FIVE AM. Yes, quick, count that up - you'll need TWO HANDS this time!


Who cares if it's cliched - can't YOU hear the Hallelujah Chorus? If it weren't for The Husband being on call and having to go in twice, it would've been The Perfect Night.

I have more to say, but I can hear the Siren Song of the Shovel lulling me out to a cold snowy sea, so I better go to it. See ya later!

06 February, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Thursday, February 9th, marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Rat*. If you are born in this year, you are, among other things industrious, hard-working, and ambitious. Lest you think that 'Rat people' have all the luck, they also "may become difficult to work with" and "may sometimes be viewed as opportunists." Not so great.

In honour of Chinese new year, I thought I would profile our family's character traits as defined by the Chinese Zodiac. I wish you all actually knew us personally because that would make the blatant fallacies in said Zodiac all the more funny. Alas, you'll just have to take my (very biased) word for it. You'll find my commentary in red. Oh, and Happy New Year!

Bren J.: Born, The Year of the Sheep
Sheep personality traits

The most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac, those born in the Year of the Sheep (also known as the Year of the Ram or Goat) are often artistic, sensitive, sweet and charming. (And they forgot to mention stubborn...and not really very artistic at all....or sensitive or sweet. Charming, maybe.)

Shy by nature (hah!), Sheep are not the most practical of people (are you kidding? I'm one of the most practical people I know!) and, although well-mannered (true, true), they occasionally may suffer from "foot-in-mouth disease" by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (I'm shocked!). Still, with their considerable charm and innocence Sheep never lack for protective friends and admirers. (Admirers, hey? How 'bout that?)

Outwardly dreamy and starry-eyed, Sheep are inwardly anxious, insecure, and usually find day-to-day living difficult and puzzling. As such, they often take refuge in religion, astrology or the occult. (There's just not much hope for me, is there?)

Sheep are not overly ambitious, but once they find work that makes use of their considerable talents, they are passionate about what they do (true, to a point). Typically surrounded by beautiful things (define 'beautiful'), Sheep have an ardent love of creature comforts (mmm....chocolate chip cookies....) and are almost always elegantly dressed (HAH! If by 'elegant' you mean pajamas, then yes.), but can become overly reliant on appearances.

Conversely, Sheep people have an innate love of nature and are never happier than when messing about in the garden. (Erm.....gardening....I really only like the harvesting part.)

In business Sheep tend to be highly disorganized (this is the part where I decide I can't possibly be a sheep!), but they usually enjoy great success as artists, actors, designers, and in many other creative endeavors. (Hah! Double Hah! and ugh, respectively.)

The Husband: Born, The Year of the Monkey (This is already bad because The Husband HATES monkeys. Really, he loathes them.)
Monkey personality traits

Charming (true), charismatic (not so true) and extremely inventive (often frighteningly true), Monkey people are most noted for their intelligence and clever genius in working out difficult problems for themselves and others (good thing there's no time frame for said problem-solving).

Cheerful and energetic by nature (oh boy...), they attract many friends with their magnetic personality and innate tact and diplomacy which may dissolve into condescension at times. They are impatient when it comes to getting their way, but their anger cools quickly.

Extremely curious and thirsty for knowledge, Monkeys are never happier than when absorbing facts and information (good grief! do they KNOW him?? ), and possessed of a near photographic memory usually retain all they have learned (he claims there's no photographic memory). For this reason, their inventiveness in tackling thorny problems with the greatest of ease (maybe not exactly the 'greatest' of 'ease')usually earns them well-deserved admiration and appreciation from business associates, friends and loved ones.

Loyal and devoted to friends, Monkeys are ardent and passionate in romance, but they may quickly lose interest in the object of their affection and seek out another (hey!). This general fickleness is also seen in their abandonment of projects if not allowed to immerse themselves in them immediately, and in their eating habits they usually prefer a quick snack during the day rather than sitting down to a full meal. (The accuracy of this last sentence is truly scary.)

With their considerable talent and extraordinary originality, Monkeys may enjoy luck and in whatever career they choose, but usually excel as troubleshooters, scientists, researchers or inventors. (If The Husband could spend all day out in the shed inventing, I think he'd be in seventh heaven. Me? Not so much.)

The Little Goat: Born, Year of the Pig
Pig personality traits

Intellectually curious, honest and tolerant, those born in the Year of the Pig can be relied upon for their loyalty and often make true friends for life. (At eight months, can we really evaluate this?)

Like the knights of old, Pigs are often highly regarded for their chivalry and pureness of heart (read that again, I love that part of the sentence except I keep reading it as 'Like the pigs of old....'), and will often sacrifice their own well-being for the greater good.

The Pig can be very naive, however, and may easily fall victim to the unscrupulous who take advantage of their idealistic nature - as Pigs see everyone as loyal and caring as they are. Although forced to play the fool many times, they will just as likely hold fast to the notion that everyone is at heart decent and admirable. (Oh, I hope not!)

Stubbornly optimistic, the Pig will not tolerate those with well-meaning advice on how to be a Pig (Don't worry, we won't tell her how to be a pig. Oink!), but since they dislike quarreling and discord their anger usually cools quickly. Sometimes looked upon as a snob (hmph!), the Pig just finds it right and natural to exhibit good manners whenever possible (that's my girl!). Their main goal in life is in serving others, and no matter how difficult circumstances become the Pig will never waiver or retreat, forging ahead in the sure knowledge that all will be well.

Pig people love to read, are generally thirsty for knowledge, and not readily talkative (like Father, like Daughter), but if presented with an opportunity to discuss topics of interest with like-minded individuals Pigs may find themselves talking non-stop for hours (Ack! When will I do my daily sudoku?)!

People born in the Year of the Pig are trusted associates in whatever career they happen to choose and often shine as entertainers, social activists or politicians. (Heh, a smooth-talker, our Little Goat. At least there's hope for one of us!)

* All Zodiac descriptions come from this website.