Friday, June 01, 2012

My Boy, The Graduate

On Saturday, May 12th, my boy graduated. At our small school the graduation ceremonies are very personal. It was such a beautiful ceremony.
Bruce spoke first. He is an eloquent speaker. This is his last graduation ceremony with us as he is moving to Texas. Bruce has been with the school for 15 years and his speech offered a sort of historical retrospective mixed in with remarks about the two graduates, Brett and Ethan.We were all expecting to cry, but I managed to only get a bit misty. Bruce will be missed.

Missa was Ethan's thesis committee chairman. She is also the school president and an alumni. Her speech was touching and funny. She dug up stories about Ethan as a young boy. She is a shining example of what the finest of their generation has to offer. Ethan will stand in her wedding party next summer.
Larr also spoke. He also gave out the traditional gifts from the school. Each graduate receives a special book and a coin. This year it was special silver coins. Ethan received Stones of Destiny.

After the ceremony we hosted a reception and the boys played a great game of football. I think that might have been more anticipated than the graduation ceremony itself.

We followed the school reception with a family party at home.

Brandon and Ethan enjoy hanging out together. They've forged a tight relationship over the years.

We have handsome men in our family.

Larr and I were so busy putting on the various parties and the celebration that the day slipped by without our getting a picture of Ethan, Larr and myself. That makes me a bit disappointed, but the day was wonderful. I am so proud of my boy. Everyone had such wonderful things to say about my boy. His future is indeed very bright.

Here are the desserts that I made for the reception and party:
Pecan Pie Bars
via: Home is Where the Holmans Are
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 jellyroll pan with aluminum foil. Combine flour, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into cubes and add to flour mixture. Toss and use a pastry blender to cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles crumbs the size of peas. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press into a smooth crust. Poke several holes in the crust with tines of a fork. Bake about 18-20 minutes until light golden brown.

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, beat eggs and add sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla. Whisk together until smooth. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pre-baked crust. Return to oven to bake for about 20 minutes until filling is set. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Use foil to lift bars out of pan and cut into squares.


Grasshopper Pie
via: Koko Cooks Blog
Adapted from Martha Stewart

6 Tbs butter, melted, plus extra for the pie plate
¾ c sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ c crushed chocolate wafer sandwich cookies (reduced fat Oreos work great)
½ c sugar
2 c heavy cream
3 Tbs green crème de menthe (or clear, with 4 drops of food coloring)
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) unflavored gelatin
5 large egg yolks
½ tsp peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. Whisk together the coconut, cookie crumbs, and ¼ c of the sugar. Add melted butter and stir well until combined. Press mixture into the pie plate. Bake until just set, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.

Prepare an ice water bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice cubes. Pour enough cold water in to fill to the top of the ice. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat ½ c whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Place crème de menthe (and food coloring) in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over it. Set aside. Beat egg yolks and remaining ¼ c sugar in a medium heat-proof bowl. Set aside.

Heat the other 1 ½ c cream and peppermint extract over medium heat until warm. Add gelatin mixture and whisk until gelatin is melted. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling about ½ c of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour egg mixture back into the pan of remaining cream. Heat until cream mixture reaches 150ºF, stirring constantly.

Transfer the pan to the ice water bath. Whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the bath. Gently fold in the chilled whipped cream with a rubber spatula until well combined.

Spoon mixture into the pie crust. Chill until set.


Velvet Hot Fudge Sauce
via: The Yummy Life Blog
By Monica Servings: Makes 4 cup

1/2 cup butter
1 12-oz. bag (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups light corn syrup*
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee granules
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

In 2-1/2 to 3 qt. saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips on low, stirring frequently. Stir in corn syrup and espresso/coffee granules. Then stir in condensed milk. Cook on low, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

STORE in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

SERVE hot over ice cream, cake, brownies, or as a fondue dessert dipping sauce. This sauce is too thick for serving when it is cold.

TO REHEAT, microwave on high, stopping and stirring at 20 second intervals, until hot. Boiling or overheating will result in sauce getting overly hard.

*1 cup of honey may be substituted for the corn syrup; however, the sauce will have a distinct honey flavor. (Honey is sweeter than corn syrup, so you don't need as much.)


Strawberry Cream Pie
via: Willow Bird Baking
Recipe by: Pat Howard
Yields: about 10 servings

Crust Ingredients:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoons salt
3/8 cup cold shortening or lard
3/8 cup cold butter, chopped
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Cream Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Other Ingredients:
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
red food coloring (optional; I skipped this)
mint leaves or whole strawberries for garnish (optional)

Note on timing: There are several components of this pie, but their preparation fits together nicely. You can make the crust dough and while it’s chilling, toast your almonds and set them out to cool. While the crust is baking and cooling, make and refrigerate the cream and slice your strawberries. Assemble these things once the crust is cool, and chill your almost-completed pie while you whip up the glaze. Chill the whole concoction for a few hours before slicing for best results.

Make the crust dough: Pulse flour and salt together to combine. Add scoops of lard and pulse into the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Add in chunks of butter and pulse until butter pieces are no larger than small peas, about 10 pulses. Add minimum amount of water and pulse on low. If dough remains crumbly and doesn’t come together, add another 2 tablespoons of water. Add as little as is required to enable the dough to be rolled into a ball. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

Toast your almonds: While the crust dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and spread your sliced almonds out on a baking sheet. Toast for about 4-6 minutes, using a spatula to gently flip and stir the almonds ever 2 minutes. They burn quickly, so keep a close watch on the nuts and remove them when they just start to get some color and are fragrant. Mine took about 5 minutes.

Finish making your crust: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roll disk of dough out to around 2 inches larger than your (9-inch) pie plate and transfer it, situating it in the plate. Fold the excess dough around the edges and crimp, trimming where necessary. Cover the dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans, pressing to the edges. Bake for around 20 minutes. Remove weights and paper, egg wash crust, and bake 5-10 minutes more, until golden brown (you won’t be baking it again, so make sure it has good color — shielding edges with foil if they begin getting too dark). Let crust cool completely.

Make cream filling: While the crust bakes, prepare your cream filling. Prepare an ice water bath in a bowl big enough to accommodate your saucepan. Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook until thickened, still stirring constantly. Spoon out about 1/4 cup of your hot mixture and gradually drizzle it into your beaten egg, whisking constantly. This will temper the egg so that when you add it back into the hot mixture, it won’t cook. Add the egg into the hot mixture, continuing to stir constantly. Bring this just to boiling.

Set the saucepan in the ice water bath and stir it periodically as it cools. Once cool enough, chill the mixture in the refrigerator. During this time, whip the cream and vanilla together to stiff peaks. Take the chilled mixture from the fridge and beat it to break it up. Stir in about 1/3 of the cream to lighten it, and then gently fold in the rest of the cream until well combined. Chill until ready to use.

Assemble the pie: Cover bottom of crust with toasted almonds, and then dollop in chilled cream mixture, spreading it smooth with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Slice about a cup of fresh strawberries and layer them in overlapping concentric circles on the top of your pie. Chill this while you make your glaze.

Make the glaze: Crush remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries and cook with water in a saucepan over medium-high heat for two minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard the pulp. Add the juice back to the saucepan over medium-high heat and gradually stir in sugar and cornstarch. Cook until thickened. If you want, you can tint this glaze with food coloring to desired hue, but mine was plenty bright enough! Cool the glaze slightly (I transferred mine to a heat-proof measuring cup with a pour spout to cool for a bit) and then pour over top of strawberry slices on your pie. Garnish with big mint leaves, if you’d like, or whole strawberries. Chill entire pie for at least a few hours for best results; cut with a knife held under hot water and then dried.


Pumpkin Pie

1 egg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Add the sugar gradually to the pumpkin puree. Beat well an stir in the flour, salt and spices. Stir in the corn syrup and beat well. Stir in the slightly beaten egg, then slowly add the evaporated milk, mixing until well blended. Pour the batter into the unbaked pie shell.
Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees F) and continue baking pie for an additional 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the mixture comes out clean.

No comments: