Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Chain Letter, The Dessert, and The Four-Legged Visitor

First up, we have what I think is possibly the most misguided thing any parent has ever come up with. Yesterday, after hitting Capital City to catch up with a visiting friend I haven't seen in over ten years, I hit the post office to pick up my mail. Amongst it all was a letter for Firstborn, which I immediately recognized as a party invitation we've been eagerly awaiting. So I gave him the mail unopened, and went about the business of sifting through my own. In case you're wondering, there were no party invitations for me. But that's okay.

When Firstborn squealed with delight, I turned to find him holding a new pack of stickers and two photocopied pages. In with the party invitation was a chain letter telling Firstborn he was part of a "sticker club" and to send packs of stickers to a child listed on the letter, the sender, and six new friends, with photocopies of the letter and the sender's mailing info on it so these six friends could send him his stickers. The idea was that each child would send out about eight packs of stickers, but receive 36. It included a guilt-inducing reminder for parents that if we don't participate, excited little children like mine won't be receiving their stickers.

Obviously, I could not at this point return the stickers and refuse to participate, so now we have to hit Booming Metropolis and buy eight packs of stickers. However, what I will actually be doing is only mailing the one pack to the first kid named on the list and giving the other seven to the party boy so he doesn't get short-changed, with the explanation that I didn't get around to sending the other six out. And I'm doing this because I have no interest in lumbering six of my friends or family members with this same ridiculous task.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a complete grouch. I like fun, and Firstborn likes receiving things in the mail. And I don't blame the mum who sent me the letter. I'm guessing she was just as irritated as I was to receive it. The one I'm actually a little irked with is the person who came up with the damned thing in the first place. Honestly, I don't even have a job and I don't have time for this, so I can't imagine what all those working mothers out there thought when they got it. Who in their right mind thought this was a good idea?!! Sigh...End of rant.
On a more delicious topic, I invented a new dessert! I had half a box of phyllo dough left over and sitting in the fridge, and several (hundred) jars of freezer jam waiting to be used before freezer-burn set in. So, I pulled out Regan Daley's fabulous In the Sweet Kitchen and used her very handy pairing chart to create this tasty baklava-inspired treat.

This dessert is structured just like a traditional baklava, with layered sheets of phyllo, a nutty filling, and a syrup poured over the top directly after baking. But instead of using all the traditional stuff, I used things I had on hand that Regan said would taste good together. And she was right!

For the filling, I chopped up some dried figs and mixed them with a handful of slivered almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon and a little melted butter (sorry my measurements aren't more precise here. When inspiration calls, I'm a slave to my whims). For the syrup, I mixed a one-pint (500ml) jar of peach jam with some orange juice to thin it out and heated it in the microwave. This, incidentally, was way too much jam. Half a pint would've been plenty. I layered the phyllo and filling and brushed it with melted butter before baking it at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, then sliced it into 12 pieces and promptly poured the hot syrup over the top.

Now, I won't pretend this was as good as real baklava. Using jam instead of a honey syrup definitely changed the end texture, and the taste itself wasn't as sweet. But Firstborn polished off a whole piece in less than five minutes, and in our house that constitutes success. And the picture looks more like a slab of lasagna, but don't let that fool you. For something whipped up out of stuff that was bound for the trash otherwise, it was pretty swell!


And finally, we had a visitor last night, and not a very shy one either. I opened the front door to go collect the blankets I'd used out there to protect the vegetables from the inch of frost we got the previous night (I'm sorry, were you under the mistaken impression it was JUNE?! Me too!), and this guy was standing on my driveway, looking me square in the eye.

Naturally, I slammed the door shut and ran for the camera. Sorry for the crummy shot, but I wasn't about to come face-to-face with him again, so took it through the window instead as he wandered towards the neighbour's field. He was limping around, holding up one of his hind legs, and I'm a bit worried about this. I wonder if I should've tried calling animal control. Not that they'd have come all the way out here on a Saturday evening for anything other than a python wrapped around my neck, but the mother in me hates the thought of him out there wandering the fields all by himself with an injury. And this is why so many stray cats show up on my doorstep...

Anyway, we're getting a fox sighting here every other day at the moment, and it's driving Rusty and Jerome crazy. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I did actually let them out the front door, they'd stand there looking at each other, wondering what the heck to do. But for safety's sake, I don't want to risk experiencing the trauma of animal violence, so I keep them inside when wildlife shows up and they put on a great show of bravado, jumping at the windows and pulling down the curtains. They are truly the ultimate show-offs.

1 comment:

Janine said...

Hey there Wendy!! Chain letters are the work of Satan!! Delicious desserts the work of God!! and foxes oh well... we get critters too.. Just this morning around 7:30 am a huge racoon lumbered across our deck... Just in from a party across the street I presume...heading up the big fir tree in our backyard for some well deserved rest!!