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The Chief Tormentor

The Deliciously Devilish Blog of Puzzling News From Staveland

Broadening Her Horizons

 

Samara’s Our Girl

Just over five years ago we were lucky enough to have Samara join us at Stave Puzzles. A talented artist who turned out to be a natural cutter, she fit right in. After a few years of crafting puzzles, Samara began drawing silhouettes and edge designs which quickly led to designing Teaser puzzles, like Your High-ness, and Giant Dilemma. We tried our best to keep her busy and mentally stimulated but after four years, Samara got itchy feet and decided she needed something new. She’s been doing some exciting stuff and we thought you might enjoy hearing her tell about her recent adventure.

From Samara

Leaving Stave was very hard. It is one of those rare 9-5 jobs that allow you to express your creativity on a daily basis. My co-workers became my Stave family and I made important lifelong friendships. The decision to leave came down to this: a 9-5 job just isn’t for me. Routine makes me feel bored and lethargic, which affects my creativity in a negative way. To my surprise, everyone was very supportive of my desire to pursue my art career, which made it easier for me to leave.

Many wish to travel the world, and some never get to fulfill that wish. I decided I needed to act on my dreams so that I never had to say “I regret not traveling when I was younger.” I was 27, had no relationship or children, and I had left Stave 6 months before to pursue a career as a freelance artist. Basically, I was as free as my financial situation would allow. I made the decision to go to Thailand to teach english for a year. I signed up with a program called Language Corps, and obtained a certificate that allowed me to teach English abroad.

For most people, including myself, the thought of moving all alone to a different country is scary.

I knew I would be out of my element in a place where no one speaks English, or so I thought, so I chose Thailand because I had a good friend living in Bangkok. Already knowing someone took away the anxiety I may have had about finding a place to live because I stayed with her and her husband until I found a job, then an apartment.

I truly lucked out on my chances here. Within a month of arriving, I found a job teaching conversational English at Chang Sin College, an art school in Bangkok, for kids ages 15-18. “My kids” are incredibly talented artists who are just awful at speaking English, but that doesn’t stop them from being sly little devils who make me laugh as much as frustrate me. I’m really just teaching them the basics of English: “How are you?”, “Where are you going?”, “Why are you late for class?”, etc.

The Thai teachers really embraced me into their community, especially my boss, Achara, who I call my Thai mother. She translates everything for me, gives me advice and rides, helped me move to a new apartment, and generally looks out for my well-being. In return, I tell her the glasses she can’t find are on top of her head, and I work on learning Thai culture and how to properly pay respect to people when I meet them. In the Thai culture, when greeting another person, you wai them (pronounced like why) by putting your hands in a praying position in front of your face. Knowing how to properly wai can make the difference between an unhelpful store clerk and a store clerk who will make you sit down and do your shopping for you.

I’ve made many new friends from around the world. Friendships really can span the globe, with the bonus of having free places to stay in multiple countries! I also met a guy from Alaska whose best friend in college went to my high school and was a year behind me, proving that you really can go anywhere in the world and still be reminded of how small it can be.

I love how affordable everything is here. Nothing in my wardrobe cost more than $10, and I’ve had to cut myself off from buying shoes because I would have to buy another suitcase to get them home. I also love the traditional culture of Thailand. The fabric, houses, temples, and paintings are incredibly beautiful.

It will be hard to have to say goodbye to all the friends I’ve made here, especially my Thai mother. When I left on this journey, I shed tears because I would miss my friends and family. When I leave Thailand to go home, I know I may never come back, and some of my Thai friends are either too old or cannot afford to travel to the U.S. It will break my heart to leave them and I will cherish the friendship they gave me for the rest of my life.

When I talk about Stave, I still use the term “we”, and I have no plans to stop being a part of the “family” any time soon. In fact, I’m working on an alphabet series of puzzles that I hope to have finished up by this fall! Keep your eye out for them!

Samara

 

He’s At It, Again!

 

Every good employee hopes to have that little extra something that makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd. Whether it’s their organizational skills, their knack for numbers or some other ability, we all want to shine.

I’m here to confess I don’t have any of that! I work in an ‘organized’ clutter, was only an average math student and can’t say I’m totally awesome at anything in particular. But sometimes being in the right place at the right time is all you need!

Around five years ago one of my favorite puzzlers in Birmingham shared his love for Stave with a friend who he knew enjoyed puzzling. When this friend called Stave to talk puzzles, I helped him with his order. For those of you who have spoken with me, you know I like to chat. Maybe not like Tammy but I love to visit! At some point or another I learned this puzzler was as much of a golf fanatic as Steve. To make a long story short, he hooked me up with an invitation for Steve to golf Augusta National. Steve was delighted! To top that, this year Steve was invited to play Pine Valley in southern New Jersey. I’m guessing much of Steve’s ‘bucket list’ has probably been covered by these two events. He was honored and thrilled and loved every minute of it. Due to the kindness of our puzzling friend, I’m in awesome standing with the boss. I’m practically walking on water over here in puzzleland and you can bet I’m milking every bit of it I can!

Steve claims he does some of his best work on the golf course and while we aren’t too sure about that, we know we do some of our best work when he’s out on the golf course!!

 

 

 

Yours in puzzlement,
Jennifer

 

Let’s Catch Up

 

“When friends are at your hearthside met,
Sweet courtesy has done its most
If you have made each guest forget
That he himself is not the “host.”
-Thomas Bailey Aldrich

All the Doings ’round Here

We’ve had a busy summer here at Stave and it looks like we’re going to maintain that trend right through the end of fall and into winter. Winter! Where did that come from? We had a fun little snow shower last week and another on Saturday and that was just a taste of what’s to come. The Farmer’s Almanac is forecasting a lot of snow for us this year. I guess if it’s winter in VT we might as well have snow.

More Summer Fun

Steve and Martha were honored to spend an August afternoon with President and Mrs. Bush on Walker’s Point in Maine. They enjoyed a delicious lobster souffle luncheon and lively conversation. Mrs. Bush is as lovely as ever and sharp as a tack! As you can see from the photo above, President Bush’s hair is growing back after shaving his head to show support for the two-year-old son of a member of his Secret Service detail who is battling leukemia. Now that’s cool!

Look Who’s Here!

We ’re very proud to introduce our latest Stave team member. Easton Meyer arrived on August 16th coming in at 6 lbs. 10oz. He’s been coming to work with his mom, Jesse, for a few weeks now and boy, do we love it! Easton’s got a full head of wild hair and a smile that will melt your heart. We’re going to keep him around as long as Jesse will let us.

 

Jennifer-
Is she really ‘all there’?!

National Raspberry Cream Pie Day Recipe

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 2 hrs 30 mins | Makes: 1 (9-inch pie), or 8 to 10 servings

This impressive-looking pie starts with a simple press-in graham cracker crust that is coated with a layer of chocolate ganache. Fresh raspberries are cooked down, then strained, chilled, and folded into whipped cream to make a smooth, fluffy filling. To make things extra festive, decorate the top of the pie with whole raspberries and finish it off with a chocolate drizzle for a stunning yet easy-to-make summer dessert.

 

INGREDIENTS

For the raspberry syrup:

1 pound plus 2 ounces raspberries (about 4 1/2 cups)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

3/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (from about 1 medium lime)

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

For the crust and chocolate layer:

12 whole graham crackers (about 6 ounces)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted

1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 ounces)

1/4 cup heavy cream

For the raspberry cream filling and to assemble:

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces raspberries (about 3 cups)

1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 ounces)

INSTRUCTIONS

For the raspberry syrup:

1. Place the raspberries, sugar, and salt in a medium, nonreactive saucepan and stir until the raspberries are coated in sugar. Mash with a potato masher until about half of the berries are completely smashed but some medium-sized chunks remain.

2. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbles form along the edge, about 3 minutes. Add the lime zest and juice, stir to combine, and bring to a full boil, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and the raspberries are falling apart, about 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.

3. Pour the raspberry mixture into the strainer. Using a rubber spatula, push on the solids and scrape the underside of the strainer until all of the liquid has been extracted (you should have about 1 cup); discard the contents of the strainer. Set the syrup aside to cool for at least 30 minutes.

4. Refrigerate the syrup uncovered until cold, at least 1 hour. (If not using right away, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.) Meanwhile, make the crust and chocolate layer.

For the crust and chocolate layer:

1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

2. Break the crackers into rough 2-inch pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process into fine crumbs (you should have about 2 cups), about 30 seconds. Stop the motor, add the melted butter, and pulse to combine, about 5 (1-second) pulses. (Alternatively, place the crackers in a resealable plastic bag, press out the air, and seal. Using a rolling pin, smash into uniform fine crumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the melted butter, and mix until evenly combined.)

3. Pour the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and, using the bottom of a cup or your fingers, press firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides.

4. Bake until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, about 8 minutes. Remove the pie plate to a wire rack and let cool at least 15 minutes.

5. Place the chocolate chips and cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually until the chocolate is just melted and the mixture is smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour into the cooled crust and spread into an even layer. Freeze until the chocolate layer is set, about 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer while you make the raspberry cream filling.

To make the raspberry cream filling and assemble:

1. Chill the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk on high speed until medium peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, you can use a hand whisk and a large chilled bowl. Whisk until medium peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.)

3. Stop the mixer and add the chilled raspberry syrup. Return the mixer to high speed and whisk until firm peaks form, about 30 seconds to 1 minute (or 2 to 3 minutes if whisking by hand). Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, scrape along the bottom and stir gently to incorporate any white streaks. Transfer the raspberry cream filling to the prepared crust and spread it into an even layer.

4. Arrange the whole raspberries stem-side down in a decorative pattern on top of the filling. Set the pie aside.

5. Place the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until they’re melted and smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals to avoid burning.) Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the pie in a zigzag pattern. Place the pie in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving.

Enjoy!

 

Stave’s Amazing Flying Machine

Here’s a sneak peek at Steve’s latest 2-way Trick puzzle.
Artwork by Molly Delaney

Up, Up, and Away!

After 26 years at Stave you would think I’d have Steve figured out. It’s taken me a while but I’m finally catching on. Do you remember a few years ago when we debuted Steve’s sensational 2-way Trick puzzle, Atlantis? He spent forever developing the trick, cutting and working through the various prototypes and directing the artwork. Just when we reached the final stage and began crafting all the orders for this monster of a puzzle, he left town! I thought I was going to go around the bend trying to master that beast! Thankfully, just when I was about to throw up my hands in despair, it all came together. Well, he’s gone and done it again!

Steve ’s been deviously designing another new 2-way Trick puzzle and it’s great! The puzzle is based on an ingenious group of kids who kludge together their own soap box derby-type cars. They’ve nabbed parts from their dads’ garages, their neighbors’ basements and maybe even a few things from the dump! But as we know, when someone pours their heart and soul into creating something the result can be magical. And it is!

After constructing the four individual car s, they joi n together to create an amazing flying machine. It will be a really fun puzzle. But back to the boss. Here we are with a deadline to get this puzzle crafted and photographed so we can spread the news and he and Martha are headed to Maine! Guess who that leaves to pull a rabbit out of the hat? ME! I’ve had the opportunity to cut a few of the prototypes this time so it won’t be so bad. It’s a fun and entertaining puzzle and I know our Trick puzzlers are going to love it! Stay tuned…its debut is coming soon!

Jennifer-
Always up for a new challenge!

 

New (and not so new) Faces

 

 

Sarah, Meg S, and EvieThe year 2013 has brought some changes to our group of talented puzzle crafters. Our friend, Olga, left Stave in January to spend more time with her young son and to pursue her love of language. Our talented Samara decided this was the perfect time in her life to explore the world and try some new things. She’s been painting a mural for the local library, refurbishing vintage signs and now she’s in the midst of creating a floor painting. Thankfully, she’s still designing puzzles. You’ll be seeing her latest challenge, You’re in Luck, very soon, and she’s currently working on a puzzle based on a favorite fairy tale. Most recently, Wanita has taken on the fun job of managing our local pottery studio. She’s teaching classes and loving it!

Though Olga, Samara and Wanita were difficult to replace, we were lucky enough to find Sarah and Evie to join us in the shop. Sarah grew up in the area but headed west to pursue her education at the University of Colorado. After graduating and spending a few years there, she decided to move back east. Sarah is an avid crafter who particularly enjoys bookbinding. She lives in Hanover, NH., with her kitties Santo and Marco Polo, who is blind. Sarah tries to hear as much live music as possible, loves animals, travel, and sipping cocktails by the lakeside. As you may have guessed by the name of her cat, she has a great sense of humor.

Evie grew up in a neighboring town and after graduating from Keene State in nearby New Hampshire, decided to come back our way to begin her new life. When we first met Evie she shared several beautiful woodworking pieces as well as some amazing drawings and paintings. It was obvious to us early on that she was very talented and just what we were searching for. Evie enjoys the outdoors, spending time at her camp in Northern VT., swimming, gardening, and staying active.

I’m sure many of you remember Meg S. You may even have puzzles with her initials on the back of the clown. Meg started with Stave back in 2004 and over the years became known in the shop for her love of cutting custom photo collages. All those faces can present quite a challenge to the crafter! After the birth of her second son, Meg decided to spend more time at home with her boys. Fortunately she’s been able to help us out during our busy times but we’ve always hoped there would come a day when she would be ready to come back to Stave full-time. That time has come! Meg is now working 3 days a week with plans to join us full-time when school starts in the fall. In her spare time, Meg enjoys gardening, fishing, knitting, and family time. We are thrilled with our new additions and know you will be, too!

Special Delivery Jesse

Special Delivery

We have another Stave baby on the way! Jesse and her husband, Will, are looking forward to the birth of their first child in August. We can’t wait to have another little boy to snuggle and spoil. Will is an avid hockey fan so we know the baby will probably be holding a hockey stick before he can even walk!

Until the next time,
Jennifer

 

We are in M&M Heaven

Following is my email today to John P., an actor, who sends us goodies each year in exchange for a Stave tree ornament. “HEY! I pick up the Stave mail each day and today I felt like Santa Claus lugging my big heavy sack of your goodies to the shop. Egads, that huge box of M&M’s weighs a lot. Mind you, my gang is not complaining. If fact, when they heard that the big box was from you they pushed me aside and dove into it, Princess Paula getting the top bag.”


Thankful Hearts

Giving Thanks

As sad as I am to see summer fading away, I am also feeling the excitement of the coming seasons, especially Thanksgiving. This holiday brings a warmth to my heart that is sometimes forgotten in the day to day minutiae. It’s the time of year when families get together and we’re reminded of what’s good and right in our worlds.

We have much to be thankful for here at Stave Puzzles. We’ve been driving our puzzlers crazy for over 35 years and we’re still loving every minute of it! Our loyal and crazy followers have called upon us to puzzle them and their families in times of trouble and in times of celebration. We’ve been asked to send puzzles to folks who are feeling under the weather, those who are celebrating great things, and many puzzlers who truly enjoy making order out of chaos and want to be mentally challenged. We appreciate you all so much that we vow to continue to challenge you to your hearts’ content and we promise to keep coming up with loads of new ways to do it!

Normal. Really?!

We’re also thankful for the great people we’re surrounded by each and every workday. It’s an amazing thing to enjoy the work you do but to really like the people you do it with is an even bigger bonus! What is really amazing is how normal we all seem. I mean really, how can we all seem so normal on the outside when on the inside we’re dreaming up new ways to puzzle you?!

 

The Next Generation

 

 

I received a nice note the other day from one of our puzzling friends in Atlanta, GA. Katrina and her husband, Larry, have been puzzling with us since 1991 and over the years we’ve really gotten to know them. They discovered us when they spent some time enjoying our puzzles at Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont. Since then we’ve had the pleasure of their company at several of our puzzle gatherings here in VT, in NY, and in TN.

A few years after their first order, Katrina and Larry ordered a puzzle for their daughter, Whitney. As time passed, the trend continued and it became clear that this is a true puzzling family. Stave enjoyed being a part of many holidays and special occasions in their family, like Whitney’s birthdays and eventually her graduation. Inevitably, Whitney caught the eye of a special gentleman and the next thing we knew, Whitney’s friend, Luke, was joining us at a puzzle party. Would he pass the test? Is he a puzzler? Yes! He passed with flying colors. Luke wasn’t intimidated at all by our zany group and handled us, and the puzzles, like a pro.

True to the story book trend, there was a wedding and soon another new face in the crowd. Whitney and Luke now have a son, Ethan, and as you can see from the photo below, he’s got the puzzling gene! This family and their story is a prime example of what everyone here at Stave is thankful for. The relationships we build through our puzzles are just as important and satisfying as the puzzles themselves. Each piece brings us closer together and makes for a stronger whole.

Thank you for sharing of yourselves and your lives with us. We enjoy every minute of getting to know you and value our friendships with you more than you can imagine.

Life is good. So very good.

~ Jennifer


Broadening Her Horizons

 

Samara’s Our Girl

Just over five years ago we were lucky enough to have Samara join us at Stave Puzzles. A talented artist who turned out to be a natural cutter, she fit right in. After a few years of crafting puzzles, Samara began drawing silhouettes and edge designs which quickly led to designing Teaser puzzles, like Your High-ness, and Giant Dilemma. We tried our best to keep her busy and mentally stimulated but after four years, Samara got itchy feet and decided she needed something new. She’s been doing some exciting stuff and we thought you might enjoy hearing her tell about her recent adventure.

From Samara

Leaving Stave was very hard. It is one of those rare 9-5 jobs that allow you to express your creativity on a daily basis. My co-workers became my Stave family and I made important lifelong friendships. The decision to leave came down to this: a 9-5 job just isn’t for me. Routine makes me feel bored and lethargic, which affects my creativity in a negative way. To my surprise, everyone was very supportive of my desire to pursue my art career, which made it easier for me to leave.

Many wish to travel the world, and some never get to fulfill that wish. I decided I needed to act on my dreams so that I never had to say “I regret not traveling when I was younger.” I was 27, had no relationship or children, and I had left Stave 6 months before to pursue a career as a freelance artist. Basically, I was as free as my financial situation would allow. I made the decision to go to Thailand to teach english for a year. I signed up with a program called Language Corps, and obtained a certificate that allowed me to teach English abroad.

For most people, including myself, the thought of moving all alone to a different country is scary.

I knew I would be out of my element in a place where no one speaks English, or so I thought, so I chose Thailand because I had a good friend living in Bangkok. Already knowing someone took away the anxiety I may have had about finding a place to live because I stayed with her and her husband until I found a job, then an apartment.

I truly lucked out on my chances here. Within a month of arriving, I found a job teaching conversational English at Chang Sin College, an art school in Bangkok, for kids ages 15-18. “My kids” are incredibly talented artists who are just awful at speaking English, but that doesn’t stop them from being sly little devils who make me laugh as much as frustrate me. I’m really just teaching them the basics of English: “How are you?”, “Where are you going?”, “Why are you late for class?”, etc.

The Thai teachers really embraced me into their community, especially my boss, Achara, who I call my Thai mother. She translates everything for me, gives me advice and rides, helped me move to a new apartment, and generally looks out for my well-being. In return, I tell her the glasses she can’t find are on top of her head, and I work on learning Thai culture and how to properly pay respect to people when I meet them. In the Thai culture, when greeting another person, you wai them (pronounced like why) by putting your hands in a praying position in front of your face. Knowing how to properly wai can make the difference between an unhelpful store clerk and a store clerk who will make you sit down and do your shopping for you.

I’ve made many new friends from around the world. Friendships really can span the globe, with the bonus of having free places to stay in multiple countries! I also met a guy from Alaska whose best friend in college went to my high school and was a year behind me, proving that you really can go anywhere in the world and still be reminded of how small it can be.

I love how affordable everything is here. Nothing in my wardrobe cost more than $10, and I’ve had to cut myself off from buying shoes because I would have to buy another suitcase to get them home. I also love the traditional culture of Thailand. The fabric, houses, temples, and paintings are incredibly beautiful.

It will be hard to have to say goodbye to all the friends I’ve made here, especially my Thai mother. When I left on this journey, I shed tears because I would miss my friends and family. When I leave Thailand to go home, I know I may never come back, and some of my Thai friends are either too old or cannot afford to travel to the U.S. It will break my heart to leave them and I will cherish the friendship they gave me for the rest of my life.

When I talk about Stave, I still use the term “we”, and I have no plans to stop being a part of the “family” any time soon. In fact, I’m working on an alphabet series of puzzles that I hope to have finished up by this fall! Keep your eye out for them!

Samara

 

He’s At It, Again!

 

Every good employee hopes to have that little extra something that makes them stand out from the rest of the crowd. Whether it’s their organizational skills, their knack for numbers or some other ability, we all want to shine.

I’m here to confess I don’t have any of that! I work in an ‘organized’ clutter, was only an average math student and can’t say I’m totally awesome at anything in particular. But sometimes being in the right place at the right time is all you need!

Around five years ago one of my favorite puzzlers in Birmingham shared his love for Stave with a friend who he knew enjoyed puzzling. When this friend called Stave to talk puzzles, I helped him with his order. For those of you who have spoken with me, you know I like to chat. Maybe not like Tammy but I love to visit! At some point or another I learned this puzzler was as much of a golf fanatic as Steve. To make a long story short, he hooked me up with an invitation for Steve to golf Augusta National. Steve was delighted! To top that, this year Steve was invited to play Pine Valley in southern New Jersey. I’m guessing much of Steve’s ‘bucket list’ has probably been covered by these two events. He was honored and thrilled and loved every minute of it. Due to the kindness of our puzzling friend, I’m in awesome standing with the boss. I’m practically walking on water over here in puzzleland and you can bet I’m milking every bit of it I can!

Steve claims he does some of his best work on the golf course and while we aren’t too sure about that, we know we do some of our best work when he’s out on the golf course!!

 

 

 

Yours in puzzlement,
Jennifer

 

Let’s Catch Up

 

“When friends are at your hearthside met,
Sweet courtesy has done its most
If you have made each guest forget
That he himself is not the “host.”
-Thomas Bailey Aldrich

All the Doings ’round Here

We’ve had a busy summer here at Stave and it looks like we’re going to maintain that trend right through the end of fall and into winter. Winter! Where did that come from? We had a fun little snow shower last week and another on Saturday and that was just a taste of what’s to come. The Farmer’s Almanac is forecasting a lot of snow for us this year. I guess if it’s winter in VT we might as well have snow.

More Summer Fun

Steve and Martha were honored to spend an August afternoon with President and Mrs. Bush on Walker’s Point in Maine. They enjoyed a delicious lobster souffle luncheon and lively conversation. Mrs. Bush is as lovely as ever and sharp as a tack! As you can see from the photo above, President Bush’s hair is growing back after shaving his head to show support for the two-year-old son of a member of his Secret Service detail who is battling leukemia. Now that’s cool!

Look Who’s Here!

We ’re very proud to introduce our latest Stave team member. Easton Meyer arrived on August 16th coming in at 6 lbs. 10oz. He’s been coming to work with his mom, Jesse, for a few weeks now and boy, do we love it! Easton’s got a full head of wild hair and a smile that will melt your heart. We’re going to keep him around as long as Jesse will let us.

 

Jennifer-
Is she really ‘all there’?!

National Raspberry Cream Pie Day Recipe

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 2 hrs 30 mins | Makes: 1 (9-inch pie), or 8 to 10 servings

This impressive-looking pie starts with a simple press-in graham cracker crust that is coated with a layer of chocolate ganache. Fresh raspberries are cooked down, then strained, chilled, and folded into whipped cream to make a smooth, fluffy filling. To make things extra festive, decorate the top of the pie with whole raspberries and finish it off with a chocolate drizzle for a stunning yet easy-to-make summer dessert.

 

INGREDIENTS

For the raspberry syrup:

1 pound plus 2 ounces raspberries (about 4 1/2 cups)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

3/4 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (from about 1 medium lime)

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

For the crust and chocolate layer:

12 whole graham crackers (about 6 ounces)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted

1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 ounces)

1/4 cup heavy cream

For the raspberry cream filling and to assemble:

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 ounces raspberries (about 3 cups)

1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 ounces)

INSTRUCTIONS

For the raspberry syrup:

1. Place the raspberries, sugar, and salt in a medium, nonreactive saucepan and stir until the raspberries are coated in sugar. Mash with a potato masher until about half of the berries are completely smashed but some medium-sized chunks remain.

2. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until bubbles form along the edge, about 3 minutes. Add the lime zest and juice, stir to combine, and bring to a full boil, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and the raspberries are falling apart, about 8 minutes more. Meanwhile, place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.

3. Pour the raspberry mixture into the strainer. Using a rubber spatula, push on the solids and scrape the underside of the strainer until all of the liquid has been extracted (you should have about 1 cup); discard the contents of the strainer. Set the syrup aside to cool for at least 30 minutes.

4. Refrigerate the syrup uncovered until cold, at least 1 hour. (If not using right away, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.) Meanwhile, make the crust and chocolate layer.

For the crust and chocolate layer:

1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

2. Break the crackers into rough 2-inch pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process into fine crumbs (you should have about 2 cups), about 30 seconds. Stop the motor, add the melted butter, and pulse to combine, about 5 (1-second) pulses. (Alternatively, place the crackers in a resealable plastic bag, press out the air, and seal. Using a rolling pin, smash into uniform fine crumbs. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the melted butter, and mix until evenly combined.)

3. Pour the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and, using the bottom of a cup or your fingers, press firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides.

4. Bake until fragrant and slightly darkened in color, about 8 minutes. Remove the pie plate to a wire rack and let cool at least 15 minutes.

5. Place the chocolate chips and cream in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually until the chocolate is just melted and the mixture is smooth, about 4 to 5 minutes. Pour into the cooled crust and spread into an even layer. Freeze until the chocolate layer is set, about 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer while you make the raspberry cream filling.

To make the raspberry cream filling and assemble:

1. Chill the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes.

2. Add the cream, sugar, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk on high speed until medium peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. (Alternatively, you can use a hand whisk and a large chilled bowl. Whisk until medium peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes.)

3. Stop the mixer and add the chilled raspberry syrup. Return the mixer to high speed and whisk until firm peaks form, about 30 seconds to 1 minute (or 2 to 3 minutes if whisking by hand). Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, scrape along the bottom and stir gently to incorporate any white streaks. Transfer the raspberry cream filling to the prepared crust and spread it into an even layer.

4. Arrange the whole raspberries stem-side down in a decorative pattern on top of the filling. Set the pie aside.

5. Place the chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally until they’re melted and smooth. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring at 30-second intervals to avoid burning.) Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the pie in a zigzag pattern. Place the pie in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours before serving.

Enjoy!

 

Stave’s Amazing Flying Machine

Here’s a sneak peek at Steve’s latest 2-way Trick puzzle.
Artwork by Molly Delaney

Up, Up, and Away!

After 26 years at Stave you would think I’d have Steve figured out. It’s taken me a while but I’m finally catching on. Do you remember a few years ago when we debuted Steve’s sensational 2-way Trick puzzle, Atlantis? He spent forever developing the trick, cutting and working through the various prototypes and directing the artwork. Just when we reached the final stage and began crafting all the orders for this monster of a puzzle, he left town! I thought I was going to go around the bend trying to master that beast! Thankfully, just when I was about to throw up my hands in despair, it all came together. Well, he’s gone and done it again!

Steve ’s been deviously designing another new 2-way Trick puzzle and it’s great! The puzzle is based on an ingenious group of kids who kludge together their own soap box derby-type cars. They’ve nabbed parts from their dads’ garages, their neighbors’ basements and maybe even a few things from the dump! But as we know, when someone pours their heart and soul into creating something the result can be magical. And it is!

After constructing the four individual car s, they joi n together to create an amazing flying machine. It will be a really fun puzzle. But back to the boss. Here we are with a deadline to get this puzzle crafted and photographed so we can spread the news and he and Martha are headed to Maine! Guess who that leaves to pull a rabbit out of the hat? ME! I’ve had the opportunity to cut a few of the prototypes this time so it won’t be so bad. It’s a fun and entertaining puzzle and I know our Trick puzzlers are going to love it! Stay tuned…its debut is coming soon!

Jennifer-
Always up for a new challenge!

 

New (and not so new) Faces

 

 

Sarah, Meg S, and EvieThe year 2013 has brought some changes to our group of talented puzzle crafters. Our friend, Olga, left Stave in January to spend more time with her young son and to pursue her love of language. Our talented Samara decided this was the perfect time in her life to explore the world and try some new things. She’s been painting a mural for the local library, refurbishing vintage signs and now she’s in the midst of creating a floor painting. Thankfully, she’s still designing puzzles. You’ll be seeing her latest challenge, You’re in Luck, very soon, and she’s currently working on a puzzle based on a favorite fairy tale. Most recently, Wanita has taken on the fun job of managing our local pottery studio. She’s teaching classes and loving it!

Though Olga, Samara and Wanita were difficult to replace, we were lucky enough to find Sarah and Evie to join us in the shop. Sarah grew up in the area but headed west to pursue her education at the University of Colorado. After graduating and spending a few years there, she decided to move back east. Sarah is an avid crafter who particularly enjoys bookbinding. She lives in Hanover, NH., with her kitties Santo and Marco Polo, who is blind. Sarah tries to hear as much live music as possible, loves animals, travel, and sipping cocktails by the lakeside. As you may have guessed by the name of her cat, she has a great sense of humor.

Evie grew up in a neighboring town and after graduating from Keene State in nearby New Hampshire, decided to come back our way to begin her new life. When we first met Evie she shared several beautiful woodworking pieces as well as some amazing drawings and paintings. It was obvious to us early on that she was very talented and just what we were searching for. Evie enjoys the outdoors, spending time at her camp in Northern VT., swimming, gardening, and staying active.

I’m sure many of you remember Meg S. You may even have puzzles with her initials on the back of the clown. Meg started with Stave back in 2004 and over the years became known in the shop for her love of cutting custom photo collages. All those faces can present quite a challenge to the crafter! After the birth of her second son, Meg decided to spend more time at home with her boys. Fortunately she’s been able to help us out during our busy times but we’ve always hoped there would come a day when she would be ready to come back to Stave full-time. That time has come! Meg is now working 3 days a week with plans to join us full-time when school starts in the fall. In her spare time, Meg enjoys gardening, fishing, knitting, and family time. We are thrilled with our new additions and know you will be, too!

Special Delivery Jesse

Special Delivery

We have another Stave baby on the way! Jesse and her husband, Will, are looking forward to the birth of their first child in August. We can’t wait to have another little boy to snuggle and spoil. Will is an avid hockey fan so we know the baby will probably be holding a hockey stick before he can even walk!

Until the next time,
Jennifer

 

We are in M&M Heaven

Following is my email today to John P., an actor, who sends us goodies each year in exchange for a Stave tree ornament. “HEY! I pick up the Stave mail each day and today I felt like Santa Claus lugging my big heavy sack of your goodies to the shop. Egads, that huge box of M&M’s weighs a lot. Mind you, my gang is not complaining. If fact, when they heard that the big box was from you they pushed me aside and dove into it, Princess Paula getting the top bag.”


Thankful Hearts

Giving Thanks

As sad as I am to see summer fading away, I am also feeling the excitement of the coming seasons, especially Thanksgiving. This holiday brings a warmth to my heart that is sometimes forgotten in the day to day minutiae. It’s the time of year when families get together and we’re reminded of what’s good and right in our worlds.

We have much to be thankful for here at Stave Puzzles. We’ve been driving our puzzlers crazy for over 35 years and we’re still loving every minute of it! Our loyal and crazy followers have called upon us to puzzle them and their families in times of trouble and in times of celebration. We’ve been asked to send puzzles to folks who are feeling under the weather, those who are celebrating great things, and many puzzlers who truly enjoy making order out of chaos and want to be mentally challenged. We appreciate you all so much that we vow to continue to challenge you to your hearts’ content and we promise to keep coming up with loads of new ways to do it!

Normal. Really?!

We’re also thankful for the great people we’re surrounded by each and every workday. It’s an amazing thing to enjoy the work you do but to really like the people you do it with is an even bigger bonus! What is really amazing is how normal we all seem. I mean really, how can we all seem so normal on the outside when on the inside we’re dreaming up new ways to puzzle you?!

 

The Next Generation

 

 

I received a nice note the other day from one of our puzzling friends in Atlanta, GA. Katrina and her husband, Larry, have been puzzling with us since 1991 and over the years we’ve really gotten to know them. They discovered us when they spent some time enjoying our puzzles at Rabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vermont. Since then we’ve had the pleasure of their company at several of our puzzle gatherings here in VT, in NY, and in TN.

A few years after their first order, Katrina and Larry ordered a puzzle for their daughter, Whitney. As time passed, the trend continued and it became clear that this is a true puzzling family. Stave enjoyed being a part of many holidays and special occasions in their family, like Whitney’s birthdays and eventually her graduation. Inevitably, Whitney caught the eye of a special gentleman and the next thing we knew, Whitney’s friend, Luke, was joining us at a puzzle party. Would he pass the test? Is he a puzzler? Yes! He passed with flying colors. Luke wasn’t intimidated at all by our zany group and handled us, and the puzzles, like a pro.

True to the story book trend, there was a wedding and soon another new face in the crowd. Whitney and Luke now have a son, Ethan, and as you can see from the photo below, he’s got the puzzling gene! This family and their story is a prime example of what everyone here at Stave is thankful for. The relationships we build through our puzzles are just as important and satisfying as the puzzles themselves. Each piece brings us closer together and makes for a stronger whole.

Thank you for sharing of yourselves and your lives with us. We enjoy every minute of getting to know you and value our friendships with you more than you can imagine.

Life is good. So very good.

~ Jennifer