Monthly Archives: November 2012

Closing down for the holiday…

Grandma’s Kyle’s pumpkin pie


With another holiday hot on our heels, (didn’t we just take DOWN our Christmas lights?!) I thought I would share another spectacularly delicious women of the Kyle family recipe.  These recipes, which I have posted before, are tried and true for over a century of baking. I assure you if followed exactly (no new age, low fat, it looks like butter, “coconut oil is the new canola” substitutions) this pie will wow your crowd and you will be crowned the new Betty Crocker of your family.  This recipe is for two pies. I recommend baking both since surely there will be cat calls, whistles and raised hands for seconds. But if it is just you and your husband or mama or sadly just you, the amounts can be cut by half and you will lose nothing in the premium quality of your pie.


Grandma Kyle’s Pumpkin Pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


2 unbaked pie shells in preferably glass pans

1 16 ounce can of pumpkin (2 1/2 cups)

4 eggs, room temperature, beaten until mixed with a fork

1 cup white sugar, real overly-processed Domino or like brand

3/4 cup brown sugar packed firmly

1 can Carnation evaporated milk (Come on, it’s the holidays–no free range organic!)

3/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp. clove

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. ginger

Mix wet ingredients and add in dry ingredients that have been combined in a separate bowl. Stir until pie filling is orangey, caramel-colored and smooth. Pour half of batter into each unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 450 degrees for ten minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until pie is not jiggly and knife inserted at center comes out clean. Cover lightly with foil if crust begins to darken beyond golden.

Cool on a trivet so crust on bottom of pie does not get soggy.  Can be baked the night before and should be served at room temperature, mounded with whipped cream.  Yeah, you guessed it,  the real stuff. And lots of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Broom Hockey

So in addition to being on the road for the past months, I have had my daughter, her husband and her two boys, now ages twoish and 5 months, living with me. They have moved back home after a stint in Los Angeles where their boys were born.  I think they found, as we all did who experienced it, that child number two is an exponential increase in activity/responsibility (i. e. work!)  and the man to man defense becomes a full court press leaving you screaming for more adults on your team.

Moving in with YaYa and Pops, as my husband and I are affectionately called, until they can find their own home has been a joy and a challenge for all of us.  Living in a multi-generational home is pretty standard in most cultures but in the United States, not so much. Here when you make the transition from “You’re so young, I can’t believe you are grandparents” to “move your walker, I can’t see the TV,” we elderly ones are ferried off to old folks homes with the polite, obligatory visit on Sundays. Seldom do you end up in a child’s spare room.

So my situation is a good one.  They are the squatters and I can decide when my hotel has no vacancy which I anticipated would occur at about a week to ten days of our cohabitation.

But I had not anticipated one aspect of my new living situation.  Falling madly, unabashedly, completely in love with my grandsons.  Like young love, all your boundaries, rules, previous relationships are overshadowed and pushed to the side when you open your front door and a small voice calls “YaYa!!!!” and you are immediately enveloped by knee high hugs and kisses and an adoring, unbearable sweet grin facing up in wild anticipation of your next move.

I was not an especially stellar infant/ toddler mom.  I am not an early morning person.  I don’t like sitting on the floor to do any thing much less count matchbox cars.  Sesame Street I found to be a life saver but sort of stupid.  I mean really. Why didn’t Big Bird have a name?  Everyone else did? They didn’t call Snuffy “Large Elephant.”

No, I basically had toddlers to enjoy teenagers.  I adore kids just when everyone else wants to give them away.

So this transition to really, really loving a day spent with a two year old has been a brave new world for me.  I broke all my original rules for child rearing in the first two days. I sneak my grandson cookies, we play silly games like “where is Mr. McGillicutty?” while driving in the car.  I don’t even know who Mr. McGillicutty is or where he came from in the recesses of my feeble brain but we look for him all the time. (Just googled it.  Should have known it was an I Love Lucy phrase.) I drive carpool for nursery school.  I buy pizzas by the carton to support it.

Anyway, the most recent crack in my usually impermeable veneer, was the introduction of the sport of hockey to my grandson, Charlie. We live in the cold midwest where hockey is religion but when my own son cried though his first skating lesson I shed tears of joy that I would never have a 5AM ice time practice or a 7AM game in Timbucktu.

Not so with precious Charlie.  The moment he showed interest in scooting a plastic lemon slice across the kitchen floor with a spatula, I was calling the ice rink to see how early he could start lessons.  Hearing sadly they began at age 3, I settled for asking about their next Pee Wee practice (the gifted 11/12 year-olds headed for the NHL).  The next day at 5:30 PM sharp we were there for the big event.  We arrived just in time for the Zamboni man, sweeping the rink to a crystalline shine to which my California born surfer child, who had never seen ice exclaimed, “Wow, YaYa!”

And it was all uphill from there.  The players arrived in their full padded glory–skates, helmets, mouthguards–wisking the magic black pucks back and forth into the nets.

Charlie stood transfixed with his tiny pink nose pressed against the glass, his fingers tapping gently against the barrier. His smile, ear to ear.

Now we have a new game we play in the hall each morning, broom hockey.  The puck is whatever he finds to use and the rules are whatever he chooses. My brooms are turning to hay and white paint chips are falling off all my baseboards. I’m sometimes still in my goalie PJ’s at noon.

Come on, he had me at “Wow, YaYa!”

Road Warrior



I drive.  I drive alot.  Often nine to ten hours in one stretch.

I love the open road, the feel of wind in my hair, the corn fields a sea of green and gold out my passenger window, the truck stops, the trucks.  Their fog horn honks that I pretend are because I am cute but I am sure are because I cut in too soon after passing.  The state cops lurking under every other overpass with their megaphone radar blasters pointed straight at me…

OK, I hate to fly so I drive.

But in defense of my claustrophobic, fear of heights, “if God had meant us to fly he would have given us wings” idiocy, I come from a long line of non-flyers so my air travel qualms are sort of genetic.  And to be honest, I like the privacy, the freedom, the on my own clockness of driving myself from A to B at my own pace.

I listen to books on tape that I purchase five at a time at my local Book Stall or pick up at Cracker Barrel and return free at any other Cracker Barrel in any state.  (A new discovery that works well if you like Danielle Steele and Nicholas Sparks. Or need a place to pull in for a pit stop and want to do a little shopping while you are there.)

My favorite new trend in books on tape are the classics read by A-list movie stars.  I just finished The Great Gatsby read by Tim Robbins, before that The Sun Also Rises read by William Hurt and have just started To Kill A Mockingbird narrated by Sissy Spacek.

I listen to satellite MSNBC, CNN, NPR, sports talk radio stations and catch up on all the important stuff  I have missed and need to start a good conversation at my next cocktail party.

No really, I listen to country non-stop for hours at the time, state to state, dawn to dusk and never get tired of it. Love Blake Shelton (and did before The Voice made him famous and adorable to those outside the country inner-circle). And given my road trips are usually through the states of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia there is always a country station to tune in at a moment’s notice, day or night.

What got me thinking about all this, there was a commercial for children’s Christmas gifts on TV yesterday. (I know. My Halloween pumpkins are still on the stoop. Really??!!) It was called the “back seat entertainment center” for kids.  I’m sure it’s an HD TV, microwave and a bowling alley for the back of mom and pop’s SUV.

It made me think of the days I rode in the back seat on the way to Aunt Ruth’s house for Thanksgiving or the beach each August.  My entertainment was laying across the length of the seat, or better still laying on my back wedged on the ledge between the top of the seat and the rear window, and listening to the sounds of the front seat.  The static of the radio, big band tunes coming in and out with the spotty reception in the mountains, mom and dad’s low voices speaking in lazy, hushed tones which I would try to understand but felt lulled to sleep by. The stars and trees whipping by in a blur out the window. No seat belt, no child restraints, no toys, no artificial stimulation.

Just the safety I felt in a closed space, on a dark night, with the anticipation of family and warmth and laughter and love waiting down the road.

Maybe that’s why I am a road warrior.  For a few hours, or a day and half, I am in my own little world of no house phone, a cell phone only when I choose to use it or answer (love that out-of-service area signal) and I am able to take a few deep breaths, hear my own scattered thoughts, and keep pace with just me and no one else, except of course the others drivers. But that is the subject a whole other post…

Perhaps driving is a mode of travel that brings back memories of home and family.  Not the “rush and push and strip naked and redress and listen to the loud speaker give us your bin now we are boarding hustle and bustle of an airport.”

Put your thumb out if you see me pass next time.  If Blake’s not on, maybe I’ll slow down.