Pecans and Pralines

 

My apartment is humming this morning. Saturday is chore day. The laundry room is warm from the tumbling clothes dyer and smelling of Purex and dryer sheets. I have always enjoyed doing laundry: It was an act of service that I did for my family. One chore this moring, however, I had to force myself to do. Unloading the dishwasher. Loading the dishwasher I don’t mind, but unloading it, I’d almost rather take a beating. Am I alone in that sentiment?

One chore I hate.
One chore I hate.

Tomorrow night, weather permitting, will be our church Fall Fest. Our church invites the surrounding neighborhood for free hot dogs, cotton candy, games and just plain fun. The small group that I am a part of uses this time to have a party within a party. We all bring something to share for supper. Cajun Pralines will be my contribution for our fellowship, as we take turns manning our Fall Fest booth.

Cajun Pralines 2 cups light brown sugar 1 cup white sugar 1/2 stick of butter 2 generous tablespoons sorghum syrup 5 ounce can of evaporated milk 2 cups pecans
Cajun Pralines
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 stick of butter
2 generous tablespoons sorghum syrup
5 ounce can of evaporated milk
2 cups pecans

Now, before I even get started on how to make these, we need to revisit correct pronunciation of a few words. It’s pecan not peecan. A peecan is what? That’s right- something an environmentalist takes with him to the woods. We put pecans in pralines. It is pronounced ‘prawleen’. Please do not put a y after the a. I don’t know what a prayline is, unless there’s no room in the sanctuary and you have to lean against the wall to do your praying.

Place all the ingedients in a two quart pot, over medium high heat. I like to cook with stainless steel pots that have aluminum clad bottoms. They cook like aluminum pots, but aren't as heavy. Stir all of the ingredients together and keep slowly stirring till the mixture starts to boil.
Place everything except the pecans in a two quart pot, over medium high heat. I like to cook with stainless steel pots that have aluminum clad bottoms. They cook like aluminum pots, but aren’t as heavy.
Stir the ingredients together and keep slowly stirring till the mixture starts to boil.
I don't use a candy thermometer. A Pyrex dish filled with ice water is how I test to see if candy has reached the correct stage.
I don’t use a candy thermometer. A Pyrex dish filled with ice water is how I test to see if candy has reached the correct stage.

Stir candy in circles or figure eights till it reaches the soft ball stage. Take a little bit of the sugar mixture and drop it in the ice water. If you can mold it into a soft ball, it’s time to add the -the what? That’s right! The pecans. Stir them in well and remove from the heat.

Now you will get an arm workout in. I hear Michael Jackson singing Beat It. At this stage you’ve got to whip enough air into the candy to cool it down so it can be dropped into patties and also so the pralines will be creamy. Clear a good sized space either on your kitchen counter or table. Spread out parchment paper and give it a light spray of Pam. With a tablespoon also sprayed with Pam, drop the candy mixture evenly onto the paper. Test a few at first. Don’t drop the whole pot of candy. Make sure they are setting up. If they are, work quickly. If they’re not setting up, beat the mixture a few more minutes. Be careful at this stage of the game. The candy will start to crystallize around the sides of the pot. A little is okay  a lot means you’ve about waited too late to drop your pralines. If that has happened don’t you dare throw away that lump of sugar, milk and pecans. Scrape it out of that pot, break it into pieces and sprinkle it over ice cream or over the top of a sweet potato pie during its last few minutes of baking. Do not just throw it out.

That one, there second from the bottom-perfect!
That one, there, second from the bottom-perfect!

It took me several tries, as a newlywed, to finally learn when to quit stirring the candy pot and drop pralines at just the right time. I hope these make it to the Fall Fest tomorrow night. Cajun Pralines and a cup of coffee sounds great right about now.

Enjoy your Saturday.

Transom Windows

The ceiling heights were at least twelve feet high. Fine crafted millwork graced the windows and framed doorways. Above each door were transom windows, permenately  caulked and painted shut. Sitting at a long, antique pine table, I waited for the divorce mediator to come back in to ‘our side’. I looked up to the transom windows, one faced the front reception area (which was probably the old grand foyer to the Victorian house turned law office) and the other gave light from the front porch. Not much could be seen through the wavy glass – just the beaded board ceilings. I began to think…

At around age twelve, I started collecting things for my hope chest. Now, I didn’t literally  have a wooden chest, just started gathering  and setting aside some lovely pieces of depression glass and crocheted doilies. They were things which would be used to one day set a pretty table, my table, in my home.

If that twelve year old girl had been able to turn her proverbial hope chest up on its side and stood tippy-toed on it, to peer through the transom window of the closed door of her  future life, would she have liked what she saw? Would she have been content with the choice her heart would make just a short eight years later? Eleven years after that first Louisa patterned piece of glass was bought she would become a mother. Many joyous experiences would come her way, but great sorrow and a wanting to give up would splash forcefully in amongst those happy times. Happiness is fleeting, it never stays for long. Not the things offered up in this world. Would the good have been greater or at least enough to endure the bad, if she could have seen her future? Would that  twelve year old girl have shaken her head and jumped down from her perch and said, “No, thank you!”

That twelve year old girl’s ideals still stand. I still believe in Biblical marriage. I believe in enduring love. I believe in family and friends and that both can be both. There’s a progression to life’s events. Had I not married the one I did, I wouldn’t have had my  three sons. Had I not had them, I would not have my sweet six year old grandaughter, nor would I be anticipating the birth of my first grandson in February. I cannot imagine my life without these gifts.

The music group Switchfoot has a song called Souvenirs. It sounds a little bitter, till the very last line. Those ending words turn the negativity into something beautifully positive. They say, “I wouldn’t trade them for anything -my souvenirs”.

I’m so glad that I didn’t know my future.  The good does outweigh the bad.

20150523_115213_000_01

Forgive Me, Father For I Have Sinned

Caramel! Caramel for crying out loud. I have no shame.
Caramel! Caramel for crying out loud. I have no shame. Yep, popped the top, got a spoon out of the kitchen drawer, plopped down on the couch in  front of an episode of Property Brothers and devoured the whole can. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
And these add the other three corners of that decadent box of indulgence that I sometimes climb down into.
And these add the other three corners of that decadent box of indulgence that I sometimes climb down into.

Don’t judge me. He/She who is without sin cast the first stone. :○)