Skip to main content

Pralines and Dreams



I considered myself to be a decent cook and baker.  However, candy making had been unchartered territory until I recently cracked the code of a favorite—chewy Texas Pecan Pralines.  This culinary epiphany came only days before I left my home sweet home in Austin, Texas, to return to CU Boulder after an epic hiatus to wrap up my bachelor’s degree in journalism.

When I was a little girl, I remember tasting heavenly, creamy homemade pralines, bursting with pecans, handcrafted with love by my mom.  She only whipped them up a few times, but I just couldn’t get the memory of those buttery, sugary treats out of my head.  They were that good.  I asked her if she still had the recipe, but I knew it would be hopeless since my mom wasn’t one for keeping track of her down-home style cooking.

I married my college sweetheart, a guy with the same first name as me, and began teaching myself to cook.  Becoming “Kelly Times Two” was amazing, and I had a lot to learn as an aspiring home chef, plus a long way to go in college.   I struggled through some of my early classes, but managed to get good grades.  Yet somehow, I never finished.  I was so close, I could practically taste it with merely two classes left to graduate. 

My cooking talents emerged while my education was placed on the back burner and I began juggling various roles as mother, neighbor, chauffeur, homeroom mom, PTA volunteer, sales director and supportive spouse.  I turned obstacles into success, and usually event planning and delicious food were involved.

At first, I avoided any recipe dealing with yeast since everything I had heard about bread baking seemed out of reach—with all the dough rising, the kneading, punching and shaping.  But the time came when I just decided to go for it.  I quickly learned how to whip up the most fluffy, soft and delicious tasting dinner rolls ever, practically in my sleep.

Then there was all the hype over candy making being exceedingly difficult.  I had to learn to trust the thermometer to measure hard crack, soft crack and soft ball stages.  This food art form seemed overwhelmingly impossible.  So did going back to college to earn that elusive degree.

As I was sorting through old cookbooks, I glanced at “Joy of Cooking,” a gift from Kelly with a note he’d written saying how proud he was of me. Then from out of nowhere, a section about pralines, with an explanation comparing New Orleans PRAH-lines to French PRAY-lines appeared.  So I made some, and they were fantastic! The bubbling, golden, molten concoction looked so complex, but it was a piece of cake!

Why did it take me so long?  In December 2016, I applied for readmission to CU Boulder, and returned to finish what I started, and will graduate in May.  Like those pralines I had dreamed of forever, stepping onto campus was as perfect and satisfying as I’d remembered.

(This was my first writing assignment when I started back to college this semester.  We were supposed to choose from about a half dozen prompts, and I chose the one called "Food, Glorious Food!" We were to focus on a particular event and limit it to 500 words.  I'm happy to say that I got an A.)

Comments

Cynthia Guy said…
Congratulations on going back to college and getting your degree Kelly, and for getting an A for this assignement! I enjoyed your story about the pralines!

Popular posts from this blog

Fun with Ninnies and Nini

Our family got to attend the monthly stake temple day at the Taipei temple on Saturday.   Lindsey and Christopher did their temple work, then waited outside on the beautiful grounds and at the chapel next door until we were finished with our session. After that, we enjoyed hamburgers at a place we heard about called California Grill, then did some exploring.
Lindsey arrived last week from Rexburg, completing 32 credit hours and her first year of college at Brigham Young University-Idaho. We are so glad to have her home with us!  She will be with us until she starts school again in September and will be taking two classes online in the meantime.  In addition to Lindsey's arrival, we've been blessed to have the company of 7-year-old Nini (her real name is Yeh Min-Yu) with us this week.  She's so darling and we love having her around too.  It's kind of funny that when Lindsey was a little toddler and she could not say her name well, she called herself Ninnies.  So we h…

Isaac's creation

One year ago today, this little angel came into our world, sent directly from heaven, without a doubt.  Isaac is our fourth child, but the first that I gave birth to.  He was the result of a successful fertility treatment called In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), our first and only attempt.  The fact that I was 48 years old when I got pregnant, is a miracle in and of itself.  I had long since given up the idea of ever being able to experience pregnancy and childbirth after having been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, until a rare contact from a dear friend had renewed my desire.  This is the story of how Isaac came to be, and the loving environment that welcomed him.  Take note of the numerous small miracles along the way, leading up to our pursuing this dream.

There was a three-week window of opportunity when our family had come to our Austin home for the holidays, while we were living in Taiwan for one year.  My long, lost friend sent us a beautiful Christmas card, perhaps the fi…

Class of 2030 first day of school

First day of kindergarten was a huge hit!
The only thing that went wrong, other than arriving to school a few hours late due to our flight from Denver and no sleep the night before from seeing the 2017 American solar eclipse in Casper, Wyoming, was losing two small, black buttons from his brand new blue and gray plaid Hurley shirt.
My little boy started kindergarten and I'm so excited for the freedom it will give me while he's away at school, but especially I'm glad for the fun times he will have in learning and being with new friends.  He was so ready and excited!  I didn't know any of the kindergarten teachers at the school, but after meeting Mrs. C, I'm so glad we got her!  Her body language and introduction to Isaac were so sweet and made him feel safe, loved and welcome.
I ordered this fun and festive balloon from ATXBubbles and they delivered it to our front door.  Isaac loved his after school surprise.
He picked out this backpack because the inside says &quo…