Boozy rum confections & Joni Mitchell

Turns out, twenty-two years is enough time to forget a recipe. Although, as I stood in the grocery store calling my younger sister to find out what almond paste was, it occurred to me that I might not have actually made this recipe before. I did participate in the ritual of drinking wine, watching a movie and rolling. I’m just not sure I ever assembled the ingredients and then mixed them up in such a huge bowl.

The penmanship on the recipe card is mine. Or at least the style I was using back in about 1996. There are wet spots, blurring some of the numbers, almost to the point of not being able to read them. I studied the brief instructions. This card marked a point in my life where I assumed that a person like me would always remember how to make these recipes. There is no yield indicated, which I recall being A LOT. There is no caution for how long the batter needs to sit in the fridge to become firm. I vaguely remember the set-up time to be LONG.

Somehow none of that was my concern. I was on the receiving end of the finished bowl, ready to roll. I don’t remember the movies we used to watch. I know my aunt or my sister kept a production line going. Finished balls, by the tray going into the deep freeze. The bowl of batter having to be put back in to the fridge to set up some more. Time had moved on. These were now going to be my duties.

My teenagers decided to help roll, watch a movie and they hoped to sample some rum. Turns out my daughter does not like rum and eggnog, which was the beverage I offered. After a sampling of the merchandise, she concluded it was the rum she doesn’t like. All of these discoveries did not put her off the enterprise. She is a star roller. Then she washed her hands and continued to watch the whole movie.

After many options were considered, we decided on ‘Love Actually’. After the many times I have watched this movie, I have a favourite part. The scene where the Emma Thompson character is given a CD from her husband, of her favourite singer, Joni Mitchell – the woman who taught her how to love, is still my favourite. Emma takes a moment by herself to listen and shed a tear for the necklace which she had found in her husband’s pocket, assuming was meant for her. Also knowing it was likely being enjoyed by the pretty secretary at her husband’s office.

For years I was extremely pissed at the husband for being such a dummy. Now I’m not so sure. He had listened to his wife talk about the importance of Joni Mitchell and the love she had found, largely benefitting him. Over past Christmases, he had always bought her a scarf, which they had joked was a somewhat impersonal gift for a husband to a wife. Then she found the necklace in his pocket and thought he had really stepped up his game. But, I wonder if the jewelry is a just a more expensive version of the scarf? It is hard to comprehend a husband who would buy such a gift for another woman and not assume there was more going on. Yet, maybe we have to give people the benefit of the doubt. In this case, perhaps the hapless husband was being manipulated by the secretary?

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say “I love you” right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I’ve looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say
I’ve changed.
Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.

I watched my daughter watch the scene I just described. I wonder what she thought, her first time through? Did she think the necklace was the start of something? Or did she see what the secretary was up to? A number of other morals spring to mind. Don’t snoop in other people’s pockets. Don’t assume anything. At Christmas time, keep your expectations in check. Nothing spoils the holidays faster than when the most magical time of the year does not live up to the weight of that expectation.

Which could be why I love being in the tropics for the holidays. There are many reasons for this preference. First, it is always far warmer than being here in Vancouver. In parts of the world where they have never seen snow, there is a funny sort of interpretation of what Christmas is, marked by images of Santa, Frosty and icicles. The music of the season is welcome, yet completely out-of-place, when sitting in a lounger by the pool. The tinsel decorations are a little garish. By the time it is all over, stress levels are still low, since the biggest obligation of the day is keeping a dinner reservation.

The one thing that being in a foreign country does not have is friends and family. Hosting parties, bestowing gifts and eating Grandma’s turkey dinner can be viewed as a privilege or an obligation. I guess it is only by missing a few celebrations that our perspective has changed. Life does not always have to be the same, year after year. We have choices to make, even if we cannot afford to travel. The glass can be half empty or full, this is always the option of perspective.

It turned out to be a wonderful experience to share the result of our family recipe for rum balls. I got one more afternoon to spend with my teens. My outlook was just a tiny bit brighter for all the effort it took to create those booze soaked confections. Who knows, maybe a new family creation is order. It might be time to innovate. After all, marijuana is legal in Canada now. Who knows what kind of sweet treat awaits us next year?

Thank you for reading my thoughts on creativity. Each day, I hope to get a little closer to understanding how to design a lifestyle I don’t need a vacation from. I believe that focusing on the importance of creativity in our daily lives is an important aspect of happiness and ultimately wellness.

There are a couple of interesting projects on the horizon in 2019. The travel book will be digitally published by the summer. A creativity retreat is on the docket for the Fall.

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Comments: 4

  • reply

    Lin W. Hermanson

    December 11, 2018

    I put the recipe in the Hermanson Cookbook, with detailed instructions, like when to open the wine! And in big letters I warn DO NOT double this recipe!

    I sure remember those times sitting on the floor in the basement in North Haven, rolling and rolling and rolling….! Good times! Can’t remember where I got the recipe in the first place…..

  • reply


    December 13, 2018

    Yes, basement of Lin’s house, white wine, running out of sprinkles, and I am quite sure ‘Like Water for Chocolate” was the movie least once!
    Paul has taken over the tradition in our house. He makes the batter, puts in so much rum that the rum balls never quite set, and it is either football or Die Hard. He buys wine so that I will show up and roll!

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