that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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it happened

I figure it is time to stop looking at that lemon meringue pie — it’s not as if we savoured it as long as my blog would so onto bigger and better things.

Like graduating university. WOOT. See Auntie Carolene? It happened.

Convocation was a bit anticlimactic as we had been marinating in the fact that we already graduated but whatever, pomp and circumstance is important and I am glad that I participated. Triply glad that Mom, Dad, and Jayme came for the day.

Here are some highlights:

PLEASE don’t judge my flip flops! I have a broken toe and couldn’t fit any shoes on my feet.

Getting hit on the head – the traditional ‘welcome” to the Faculty of Education.

Not taking this serious thing seriously…Carly- well behaved, Kate- having too much fun, Aisa- bored…very indicative of our teaching degree experience.

Look at us go! 8 years later, graduating with my best friend AGAIN. Teachers? Really?

Sorry I didn’t get a trade, Dad 😦

Matching shoes! And smiles. She’s ok that I didn’t get a trade.

Duck face for Chrissy. Eyes closed for effect.

Bree, Linds, Carly and I with our favourite professor (taught philosophy). He was so glad we finished and are outta his face (and not watching his curling matches anymore).

Look who else graduated? My other best friend.

He’s a pretty big deal…and a pretty big dork.

… going to change the world!

Oh… it wasn’t all a delightful day of successes…

     

Oh, well. First year as a somewhat real fan…proudly not a bandwagon one…a little disappointing that this special day will be memorable for painful reasons.

Anyway…. thanks to all the fantastic people in my life who have supported me and shown me the love over the last 7 years…and those who came out to celebrate, especially under the circumstances:

I appreciate it, Trav, more than you know. 🙂

I am sooo glad this chapter is closed for the time being. Kate Stam = no longer university student. Feels awe-some.

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group effort – lemon meringue pie

 

I have a post formulating that is going to blow your minds (probably not) but I am taking a hiatus from hashing out that essay for a little baker’s pride moment, which don’t happen very often. It’ll even include a recipe.

Check this out:

Yay for birthdays.

I know, right? It was Luke’s birthday yesterday and I wanted to make him his favourite – lemon meringue pie. Last year the pie I made him was unmentionable, not even worth being the punchline in the lamest of lame stories I tell my classes. Even though he ate it last year, smiling and nodding that he liked it, my goal this year was to make sure that the crust didn’t cook down, the filling wasn’t sweating or watery, and the meringue actually resembled one that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to give him. The result? The perfect recipe for lemon meringue pie (and the largest grin on my best friend’s face). Anyway…the recipe came from three different sources and with some tweakings done by me, risky but effective,  I suggest you put this little delight in your recipe books.

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The Crust (courtesy of my cousin in law and favourite person to waste time with, Chrissy)

1/2 lb shortening
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 a beaten egg (use your gut)
2 tsp salt
1/2 T vinegar

Add beaten egg to vinegar and add enough cold water to make 1/2 a cup.

Mix dry ingredients and cut in the shortening with a pastry tool. Mix in liquid with a fork.

Separate into two balls and refrigerate for 20 minutes or so. Roll the pastry between two pieces of wax paper so that the dough is 1 inch bigger than the inverted pie plate. Drape dough loosely into pie plate and pinch down. Prick holes with a fork and weigh it down with pastry weights. Or in our case, interior decorative rocks. Amazing. Bake until golden brown, 18 minutes I think @ 425. I can’t remember that part, I was playing with Eli.

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The Filling (courtesy of my sister and favourite person I’d like to get more chances to waste time with, Jes)

In a microwave bowl combine:
1/2 cup corn starch
1 cup and 3 T sugar (the extra 3 just makes it a little more delicious)
1/4 tsp  salt
Gradually add 3 cups boiling water and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stirring once halfway.
Stir a small amount, I used two spoonfuls, of hot mixture into 3 beaten egg yolks (reserve whites) and blend into remaining hot mixture. Cook for another minute or two.
Blend in:
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp grated lemon rind (took me 2 lemons, average size)
1/2 cup lemon juice (2.5 lemons)
Cool to lukewarm, whisking every now and then, and pour into  cooled baked pie shell. I think Jes and Mom are onto something here – shouldn’t be hot!
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The Meringue (courtesy of my friend and owner of my favourite cookbook I’d like to own so I can waste time with it (and her), Jaime – and The Joy of Cooking)
All ingredients MUST be at room temperature. No wavering. NONE.
Thoroughly mix:
1 T cornstarch
1 T sugar
1/3 cup water
Bring to a boil over medium heat, constantly stirring. Let it boil for 15 seconds and cover the pot with lid, remove from heat and set aside.
In a glass or metal bowl (essential) beat until foamy:
FOUR egg whites (I know, three eggs for filling, four for meringue…just trying to be especially complicated! :))
Once the whites are delightfully foaming, add and beat:
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (Don’t have any? Buy it at Walmart…it’s ridiculously cheap for a lot of it)
After beating for a bit, gradually add 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on high speed until very stiff and glossy, not dry.
Reduce speed to very low and beat in the reserved cornstarch paste, 1 T at a time. When done, increase speed for another minute or so. Spread over pie filling and crust
Very IMPORTANT: Make sure the meringue is ‘anchored’ to the crust or pie plate – this keeps the meringue from ‘going anywhere’ or shrinking away from the pie when cooling.
Bake in a preheated, 350* oven for 20 mins. Watch carefully but 20 minutes was all my pie needed.
The result?
This:
and then this, which made it alllll worthwhile:
That win didn’t hurt, either! Go Canucks!
Enjoy your pie.


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perfect pairing [and instagram]

So yesterday was a big day, some pretty interesting things happened — more on that in a post to come. While I had my own things happening, it was a big day for my great friend Luke too. There probably won’t be more on that later, but yesterday was the day where individual circumstances regarding our careers officially made us adults. Anyway. Talk about being cryptic,  but a little elusiveness never hurt anyone so let me enjoy this for a few moments.

We decided to celebrate a little bit.  One of my favourite places in the city is Ferris’ Oyster Bar. I’ve never had fresh oysters before moving to the Island and it’s a treat that I will miss if and when I leave.  There is nothing like a freshly ‘shucked’ oyster with fresh horseradish, tobasco, and seafood sauce…and a glass of wine. I thought so, anyway.

When I [briefly] worked for Starbucks last summer, I learned about perfect pairings. The whole point was that there were specific coffees that complimented certain baked goods that they sold. Part of the training was to develop a sense of what item to recommend to a customer, depending on what drink they ordered. For example, ordering an Americano with a shot of caramel in it? Why don’t you try a chocolate covered pretzel? (I am not sure if that’s considered a complimentary relationship, I just thought of two things available there). The point is, I never really understood this. Every time they quizzed me on this, or I tried a coffee with it’s baked buddy, I didn’t really get why they were meant to be. Sure, they tasted good together but I definitely didn’t have the palate that got it. I definitely did not generate much revenue due to this type of “upselling” but I think I was more frustrated that I honestly could not tell what difference a macchiatto and a fudge bar relationship or a macchiatto and a vanilla scone pair made.

Until yesterday, there have been three perfect pairings (in cuisine) that I’ve come across. Well, four if you count sushi and chicken wings. They are:

1. Red wine and chocolate. It’s true, ‘they’ are right. Although I don’t know what it is that makes them meld, I do know that a glass of Wolf Blass 2007 Shiraz with a dark chocolate truffle is just delightful.

2. An Espresso shot poured over vanilla ice cream. Heaven surely has this ready made for us, it’s unreal.

3. Pear and parmesan. I was introduced to this a few months back, it’s a classic and brilliant dessert in Scott’s house, served with red wine after dinner. I don’t know if it’s the actual eating of pear and slices of parmesan cheese, which is delicious, but the process, to me,  that is perfect — where the cutting board with pears and cheese is passed around so that every time one pear is finished, another person gets to cut one to share. It’s relaxing, it’s social, begging great conversation… and it’s interesting to see how people cut the fruit differently (I don’t know if  the  others or Scott enjoy this aspect, but I do).

Aside from tasting good together, when I met perfect pairing number 4 (or 5, again – sushi and chicken wings) last night, for the very, very first time I have actually been able to taste when two things go together in a seeming love affair in your mouth: oysters and martinis (the real kind). I’ve had dirty martinis before but have never grown accustomed to the taste. They are straight alcohol and while I appreciate the absence of the sweetness from other variations of the cocktail, the strong taste of the alcohols is difficult for me to enjoy. Like my experience with cilantro, I figure I will develop a taste for martinis and the  hint of olive juice upon drinking them more often. I don’t drink much so this is inconsequential or probably never going to happen anyway, I just think it looks cool to go for a drink and order a martini. Except they’re gross.

Until last night. Back to our celebration. After we ate dinner, we went across the street to Ferris’ to have a martini – Luke wanting me to attempt to love it again. I had a few sips and like every other time, my throat burned and chilly shudders went through my body. However,  since we were at the oyster bar, we needed to order some. After eating my first oyster,  I took a drink of my martini and my palate- life changed. It was incredible how much I enjoyed that. It still tasted like the 100% alcohol it is but with the lingering taste of horseradish and seafood sauce, the drink went from shudder worthy to smooth and oh-so delicious. It was amazing, I’ve never experienced that before — a noticeable  sentiment between two flavours (yes, I know that they don’t have feelings, it was just so fascinating). In the other sense, the oysters tasted much better with the hint of vodka and olives. While I definitely do not plan to get in the habit of this delicacy,  last night I experienced, for real, a perfect pairing. It was really neat.

Stop laughing at me.

Another perfect pairing? My iPhone 4 and the Instagram App. Enjoy these photos:


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stumbling over change

I don’t know what to do.

 

Last Wednesday was my last day of university… ever…or for the time being. The freedom is suffocating. For 6.5 years my life has been, all things considering, planned and predictable. Now what. I have been hiding from the decision process and I’ve been escaping and avoiding the fact that I don’t have a clue what to do and I have no energy to decide. See? Hiding. A very dear friend of mine was encouraging me to set some goals and that in doing so, I may ease this inflated amount of opportunities and options. So I’ve set some and it hasn’t changed anything. I mean, it’s hard to dream when you have 6.5 years of university debt hanging over my head. But he was right, and in the last three days I am finding myself coming around to really, truly focusing on what I’ve always wanted to do outside of becoming a teacher and being a student. Like traveling. I really want to see the world, probably more so now than ever before. And I also really want a career and to teach. But there are no jobs right now…nobody is really hiring teachers in December? Weird, I know (sarc.). But I think that what is suffocating is that it’s my responsibility and my choice and I really am anxious to get on with it, I just don’t know how. It’s funny, for months I’ve been craving the end of university and now, as thrilled as I am, I am not sure I am ready. The real world? Really?

Here’s a good one — I read for 4 hours Thursday morning… straight. I can’t remember the last time I did that. And then, anxiety literally set in and I flew out of my chair feeling like I was being lazy and so I stopped. But the book was soo good and I didn’t want to stop reading. I missed that. But I was hiding again.

 

There’s honestly no point to this post — I guess I just wanted to share where I am at. I am struggling and I am overwhelmed and I don’t want to keep avoiding or looking at this change with anything but excitement…so maybe if you have any ideas for me (not to do but how to cope), I am waiting, anxiously.

 

Cheers.


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cheering on

Is it time for an update? It’s time at least to say hi. I am so indebted to my bed — I owe it at least 12 straight hours of quality time but school is owning those precious moments right now. I am exhausted. After getting home from practicum, I have been going to school for the month of June in a ‘summer institute’ designed to get me enough course credit to be eligible for my B.Ed. Since I couldn’t imagine coming this far and not getting the degree, I had a few days off when I was finished teaching before coming back to Victoria and back to university. It’s been a short month filled with a ton of stretching mentally and it’s been draining physically but it was worth it. It’s been fantastic, it’s over Thursday, and now I need a job. Any suggestions?

June has been fun — it’s my first on the island and I am grateful for it. The month started with my favourite friend’s birthday which seemed to begin his constant reminders to me of my own pending 1/4 century day in a few short weeks. Eep. Then a lot of our family arrived in Victoria for my cousin’s wedding. The weekend was packed with lifetime style memories, especially having Mom, Jay, and Nath in town and getting spend the pre-wedding day with Megan and Steve. I love weddings. And I loved being able to celebrate Josh, someone we see far too little of. It was a fun and special day and we were blessed to be a part of it!

The last few Saturdays have been spent up on the Sooke river where fish are finally biting and the sun is shining (rather than the rainy and crazy fishing trips I’ve been on)… there is nothing better than sitting by the river with one of the books I’ve been putting off reading. It’s such a joy and if I could live out on the Sooke river for almost-ever, I would.

In other news, Dad blessed me the other day with a special Father’s Day invitation for Luke and I to come and see the Empire Stadium…the temporary sports field he built for the BC Lions. Huge treat! We took the ferry over yesterday morning and spent the afternoon watching football and visiting with Dad and Nate. It was so incredibly cool to get to see Dad honoured for his work, not only over the loudspeaker in front of 22,000 people but to see the reception he got from all of the tradesmen and employees of his that were sitting in our section. He’s a BIG deal… but incredibly, genuinely humble and while the Lions lost to the Eskimos in the last 4 seconds and with L being really sick, it still was a perfectly fun and special day, especially because it was Father’s Day! Only thing to make it better? If they were playing the Riders! Oh well, we’re hoping to go back on July 10 for THAT game… 🙂 So so cool! 🙂

Finally, if you think of it or think of me, I’m going to start pursuing my writing dream. After my practicum I was overwhelmed by this sensation of a dream come true. It’s a bit intoxicating, having something that I’ve prayed for and thought of forever finally be realized and tangible, but it also has begged many questions about “what next”. So I’ve started thinking and writing and wondering how to pursue this other dream. I have some ideas on how to go about it but for the most part, it’s a crapshoot. I’m afraid of failing, obviously, but not enough to not want to try. So that’s where I am at — starting to dream another dream. Do you think that is asking a bit much?

Before this turns into an exhausting ramble, I just wanted to say hi. And spend some time with you. And think about how blessed I am. So that’s about it. Here’s some pictures, in no such order. Be blessed. And be rested enough for me? 🙂

(Click on images for larger, gallery-style viewing)


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come with me

Since you’ve come along this far (or maybe just beginning on my journey now), I wanted to invite you even further into my world for the next couple weeks… my first two weeks as a student teacher. I am getting ready to go into the classroom on Tuesday and I am beyond excited and slgihtly nervous. The first two weeks are designed as an opportunity to familiarize myself with my mentor teacher, the school layout and operations, the staff/admin, and policies. This way, when I come in April, the unknown will only be limited to the profession itself, not the geography. If you find yourself thinking of me from October 13 – 23, then that is probably why — I can use all of the prayers or support I can get. This is where my mind and heart are overwhelmed with the reality of how blessed I am.

 

I mean, it’s not every day we are aware that we’re living our dream come true … right?