Rumballology – the Paul W. Grignon Rum balls

At one point in this recipe it looks too liquid-y to work but bear with it: the results will please you. This is a family Christmas favorite and was discovered by Paul W. Grignon, my father, who accidentally put too much rum in his time-honored rum ball recipe, very much to the delight of his children.

  • 454g (16 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
  • 1/2 cup rum (light or dark: a strong flavour doesn’t hurt; Mount Gay is my preferred brand)
  • For garnish any or none of the following: melted chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, coconut flakes or icing sugar mixed with cinnamon

1 – Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave on low power (or a double boiler if you like more dishes). Be very careful if you use a microwave. The chocolate chips tend not to look melted and the tendency is to overheat them. Two or three sets of 3-minutes on power level 3 with a stir between works for me.

2 – Mix the butter into the melted chocolate chips.

3 – Blend in egg and sugar while continually mixing. Sometimes I coddle the egg a bit before if the intended victims are a bit squeamish but it’s not necessary.

4 – The mixture should be cool enough now to carefully stir in the rum: here’s where the recipe get liquid-y. Pour into a container with an air-tight lid and as little head space as possible and put in fridge. Here be the magic part. After several hours (I usually do it overnight) you should have a mixture that’s solid enough to work with.

5 – Scoop out with a spoon and form into balls or whatever shape you like. Then garnish if you like.


My preferred garnish is to use melted unsweetened chocolate. The crisp and bitter outside and sweet rum-ganache inside is delightful and the rum balls don’t ‘melt’ so easily at room temperature. If no coating is chosen then it’s smart to sit the container of rum balls on ice or freezer packs to keep them from melting.

A small but rather embarrassing fire caused by overheating chocolate chips might have resulted in me hurriedly carrying my smoking microwave to my apartment balcony while I ‘entertained’ guests some years ago in Nova Scotia. If you believe the rumour.

Comment below if you find some alternative way to make these: I’d appreciate the ideas.

Christmas has come surly

Days getting shorter and the nights longer,
there’s snow deeper, air crisper, floors colder,
pressure to buy gifts, light the house to cheer…
yep, means Christmas has come surly this year.

Hearing that yuletide soundtrack blaring in
the car, the mall, grocers, clinics walk-in,
even the toilet’s not immune, oh God,
a Christmas so surly should be outlawed!

In days with our duty to businesses,
to keep Christmas a commercial success,
we must prime the economy early
so there’s no wonder it has come surly.

It seems that if I knew more history
I could trace back before the fake snow tree
revive the reason this season began
and control the anger, do all I can

to be a happy and true Christmas man.

Angels, late December, 2015

A resigned
face settled into
for the post-Christmas season
still pretty despite
looks into the distance.

I don’t know
her troubles
or anything else
about her
as she leaves with
her kids.

And here I sit
yearning about


Boxing Day

And in the red corner,
behind the tree,
a stack of packaging going to the ceiling
a sure sign from above
of our desperate attempts to
show our love.

But when my son’s
remote wookie thingy
whips back there
narrowly avoiding the tree
that tumbling tower
falls and buries me.

I lie there shocked
in immobility with my sole
company a furry, shattered toy.
My silly fault it wasn’t still whole.

You’d think cardboard, rigid plastic, twist ties and styrofoam
wouldn’t weigh in so heavily
but all my limbs they’re pinning.
My mouth threatened with packing peanuts.
I can do nothing.

After hours,
though likely twenty minutes,
I hear a shout and then I hear
the footfalls of loved ones on the carpets.

They huff and they puff
and they pull
my feet out and I manage,
to cheers as deserved as after any marathon session,
to drag myself into a chair
none the worse for reflection.

With them all there
smiling at me
I realize
that the rescue and communion
was happiness to my eyes.

Happier than what arises
from our excess. It was then that my heart
felt like it grew several Seuss sizes.

It’s the time.
I shook my smiling head.
Just the time.


Signs are Everywhere

Another defenseless spruce has been axed,
my poor credit cards, magnetically maxed,
very long nights, cold. Yet something’s amiss.
Signs unclear. Though sad, it must be Christmas.

And how shall I celebrate Yule tide? Um.
Rum balls, eggnog, check. Or maybe just rum?
Tempting. No. Must entrench, reconsider.
Schedule my three (s)elves in, this December.

First my intellect: neurons all cobwebbed,
short term thought-ideas all logically sparked.
My physic, past pride, weighs in heavily.
Aged but strong, perhaps appetitively.

Late to come, my immortal spirit, shy
and moody. Ignore those who overlie!
Let’s la la la it with angels above
so that selves can integrate in one love.

But. The spirit speaks.

Do I delve too deep? All these western tropes
giving voice to accumulated hopes
of centuries, considered, giving birth
killed by our modernity stillbirth.

Yet now ayahuasca merry-go-rounds,
crystal, hot yoga, and other abounds
over my comatose self. A pity.
Searching for already extant beauty.

But what possible help has that all been
December 25, 2015?
In simplicity, perhaps, we can rest
for how else can we attest it best? Blest?

A pocket full of posies;
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.


Best Christmas Albums

  1. Bruce Cockburn‘s Christmas.  This is the perfect album for Christmas time balancing traditional songs in Bruce’s own arrangements with very interesting songs including Iesus Ahatonnia which is The Huron Carol done in as close to the aboriginal lyrics as possible and the ancient Riu Riu Chiu from Spain.
  2. Little Girl Blue by Nina Simone just for the title track which is a heart rending lyric sung in a contrasting melody to the Good King Wenceslas piano part.
  3. A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio which is a wonderful blend of jazz and Christmas favourites.
  4. Fairytale of New York by the Pogues is an unusual tune that really gets under your skin.

Please comment with your own favourites so I can expand my collection!

Season’s Wishes

I’m not a fan of those year end messages people send cataloguing a grocery list of everything they’ve done over the year but I still feel a definite need to sermonize so I wrote up the following:

Our wish is that you join with us in having a truly relaxed and blessed Christmas and New Year holiday.  We all know that a Christmas that is too much about the gifts is not enjoyable.  Nor healthy, wealthy or wise.  So from our family to yours we hope that your joy is all about what you do together and in what you discover about yourselves as opposed to a ledger sheet balancing the Christmas debts.
While it is better to give than to receive, it’s even better to enjoy one another.  Share a meal, laughter, games!  Perhaps sledding or skiing.  Watch any Christmas special (Alastair Sim’s Christmas Carol would be my choice).
Enjoy the season and each other!

All the best,

Terry and Family

Merry Christmas

The day started off right for me sitting in the pews of the Church of Our Lady for midnight mass with my two boys. The girls were up in the choir loft singing their hearts out and competing joyously with the organ, a mini orchestra and other choir members!
Merry Christmas to all who hold this day dear and all the happiness of the season for those who don’t.

The Holiday Malaise

A nice long holiday is always a welcome thing, right?  Well that’s not always true.  Full freedom can lead to sloth, rocking of the ‘family emotion’ boat and scary dreams.

A case in point.  This morning I dreamt I was back at the first day of the fourth year of high school, or Grade 12.   I had no idea where I was supposed to go and the office wouldn’t help me.  So I was wandering the stairs and halls of the old Bishop MacDonell High.  Crazy.  In playing such a non-adult but almost adult role in my dream I retained my current adult knowledge.  I imagined myself arriving in a computer class and knowing far more than the teacher.  Or English.  Or almost anything.  All that experience in a 16 year old head was scary in itself.  I remember wondering what teachers and other students thought of my beard.  It was unsettling enough to wake me up in a sweat, get dressed and crawl down to the basement computer on this furiously frigid morning which is only now beginning to show some sign of light.

So what’s the cure for this malaise?  Doing something would be my answer.  I already feel better after having commented on an excellent CBC podcast by Jesse Brown I heard this past week, read my mail and written this blog entry.  Last night I absented myself from the family and went to my room to do some reading and writing (book two of Menc) and that helped too.  The cold weather and concerns over Christmas has us largely in each other’s faces and we all need a break.  Today I will accomplish a lot, including the washroom shelves Karen wants installed.  Maybe, some cross country skiing will happen with all the snow we’ve got!  All part of a general cure.