Friday, July 29, 2005

My GRAND Vacation

I picked up some of my photos the other day and finally scanned them in tonight. Can I wax poetic, yet again, about how much I love Grand Lake? It's a large lake, about 32km long and 11km wide at the widest point. You can be paddling about in calm waters and see a storm start on the other shore and know that you have about 4 minutes to get off the water and into the cottage for shelter. The water can be as smooth as glass or it can pitch you about in waves that hide you from the view of your fellow swimmers. It's also remarkably warm for a large body of water. Especially if someone, er, voids their bladder in the water near you. Yeah, you knew it was too good to last.

Enough prose, let's get to the photos.

This is the gang having breakfast. That's my MIL on the left, my nephew, B, hiding behind the milk, his mom, Suzanne (who is not red-faced, she just looks funny in this photo), my other nephew, E, with his arms raised and his mouth full, my FIL on the end and my beautiful niece, R, on the "this side" of the table. The table and benches were in the "old" cottage (a new, larger cottage was built on the site of the original) and are perhaps 40 years old or more.

We were eating what we call "Wildflower Bouquet". It's granola, yogurt, and the berries we picked ourselves. Those blueberries were fresh off the field that morning. Yummy. No wonder E has his triumphant hands in the air!

Of course, we did find other things to do with the Strawberries. My niece and I made strawberry freezer jam. I love strawberry freezer jam. A few years ago I started substituting lime juice for the lemon and found that it was like having a tiny strawberry daquiri on my toast every morning. Oh yeah, baby. We also ate lots of strawberry shortcake and lots and lots of strawberries and cream... but we also made Strawberry Cream Pie. Since I know you're going to ask, here's the recipe:

PREP TIME: about 2 hours.
CHILLING TIME: recipe says 2 hours, but I think it needs about 3 or 4; it's worth the wait. Make it before lunch and have it as dessert with your supper.

You'll need: 1 quart of strawberries, a baked pie crust, cream cheese, whipping cream, sugar, unsweetened pineapple juice, cornstarch, a medium saucepan, a masher, a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker.

Stem 1 quart of strawberries (that's the little wooden box). DO NOT SLICE THEM.
Reserve half of the berries.

MASH the other half of the berries with 1 Cup of Sugar and let stand 1 hour. (as if you can wait that long)

Combine in a saucepan:
1/2 C unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 C cornstarch.
The mashed berries. Stir well.
Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. ALLOW TO COOL (sweet mother of GOD it takes so long to cool... put it in a bowl or something and stuff it in your freezer!).

Beat together:
6oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 C whipping cream. (yeah, actual whipping cream... none of that artificial crap. You want the liquid stuff that you find in the DAIRY aisle, not the "can't believe it's not fueling my car" aisle)

Spread over 9", BAKED and cooled, deep dish pastry shell (if you're making the pie shell on your own, please use either a deep dish pie pan, OR use a bigger pie pan; for those of you who make pastry the way I do, it's the BLUE Tenderflake box, not the yellow one). There is almost always TOO much of the cream cheese stuff. This is why I kind of double the recipe and make two pies.

Spread 3/4 of the mashed berry stuff over the cream cheese.
Top with the reserved WHOLE berries. Hum to yourself. Channel Martha through your fingertips. Admire your artistry.

Spread remaining mashed berry stuff over the berries. This is where you'll see the benefit of that deep dish pie crust. There is almost always spillage. Curse me for this disasterous recipe. Scoop up the stuff on the countertop. Lick your fingers. Understand why the kids are always looking for dessert when I walk through the door. (Someone, take me down a few pegs, I'm getting a little too full of myself).

Put the whole thing in the refrigerator. Wait about 2 hours. Check to see if the glaze stuff has set. Go ahead, stick your finger in it. It's not ready, is it? Wait about another 1/2 hour. Get impatient.

Once it has chilled, serve it with sweetened whipped cream. Oh yeah, baby.

Now, in my experience, there are quite a few people out there who have never used REAL whipped cream. I know, it's horrifying. I don't know what you all think you're doing out there, putting that Reddi-Dream-Edible Oil-whipped crap into your mouths. Look, you're already eating pie. Stop worrying about the fat content and the calories. Get the real stuff. It's worth it. Plus, someone gets to lick the beaters. (Be sure to remove the beaters from the electric part before you hand them to the kids.) So, for those of you who have been eating that crap all these years, may I present:

Stephanie's Cream Whipping Technique:
Pour some whipping cream into a nice deep bowl (some people chill the bowl, but I don't. I live in Canada - it's frigid here most days of the year) about 3/4 of a cup... put the beaters into the bowl and fire them up... toss in a capful of vanilla (yes, just use the cap off the bottle), whip it some more... grab the sugar bowl, sprinkle some in, quite a bit, but not too much - grab a spoon and sample it. DON'T you dare be so gross as to double dip. You may or may not need to add more sugar. Keep in mind that the pie is already fairly sweet.

When the cream forms soft peaks (this happens when you turn off the beaters and lift them out of the cream), you're done. Well, you're done if you like kind of runny whipping cream. If you want, give it another quick whirl with the beaters. Be CAREFUL! You're dangerously close to making butter.

How good is the pie?
Well, I took some photos of it before the hordes descended on it...

uh, apparently the hordes were closer than we thought...

Back away from the pie, kids. Geez. You would think they hadn't eaten everything that wasn't nailed down that day.

Anyhoo, I'll leave you with a couple more photos from the cottage:

These grow wild on the beach.

Beautiful, n'est-ce pas? These are Irises, right? Anyone?

And this little guy,

is staying with me until Monday. Yay! Pippin is in da house! Actually, he's on the couch, sleeping right now. His visit to the yarn store this afternoon kind of wore him out!

Goodnight, gang!


  1. You are correct - Blue Flag Iris they grow wild around most water ways in Nova Scotia too.

    Looks like you had a great vacation.

  2. Looks like you had fun! Granola, berries, and yogurt- MY FAVORITE breakfast- I'm going to pick berries as soon as I can see out! And can't wait ti try the pie- thanks for the recipe!

  3. Anonymous5:55 p.m.

    Good grief you're funny. I think you should write a cookbook, with the additional comments and asides. In fact, I think all recipes should be written in that fashion.

    ps. I bought koigu sock yarn today to make socks for my mom. Holy pretty. Holy expensive though. (12.99/skein = 25.98/pair of socks. Gah.)

  4. What kind of dog is Pippin? My fur boy (named Mr. Boufu Butterscotch) is a schnoodle (schnauzer-poodle), but we think his mother may have been a bit of a tramp(oh my)-he looks more like Pippin than he does like any other schnoodles I have seen!

  5. Hey Deb. Pippin is a Wheaton Terrier. Um, I think my BIL said something about him being an American Soft-coated Wheaton. He's sporting a nice short hair-cut for he summer.

    Schnoodle, hee hee... The first love, er, dog I ever owned was a miniature schnauzer. Bentley was, of course, incredibly smart and very handsome.

  6. Well, Steph- the soft coated Wheaton makes sense- when the vet first met the mister-he wondered if he was a Wheaton pup. The fur boy is now 10, and still acts like a pup. Thanks for the update on Pippin!!! (You know that there are kids' books out about a dog named Pippin)

  7. Thanks for the Strawberry Cream Pie recipe. I promise I will only use real whipped cream! It sounds like you had a wonderful trip.