A gift from the heart

Jenna Prem, 12, bakes up a storm each year to buy Christmas presents for the kids at Canuck Place Children's Hospice, and their parents.

Jenna Prem takes a brief pause while she bakes up trays of about 200 jam tarts during a recent session in the kitchen.

Jenna Prem takes a brief pause while she bakes up trays of about 200 jam tarts during a recent session in the kitchen.



When we last caught up with Hillcrest Elementary student Jenna Prem (“Jenna’s Gift,” Dec. 13, 2012), she was baking up a storm.

Jenna, now 12, and her mom Nicole Amato-Prem had laid siege to the family kitchen, where they were pumping out trays of Nanaimo bars, shortbread cookies, jam tarts and more, enough to fill 40 trays of mouth-watering, delectable Christmas treats.

For the third year in a row, the goodies were boxed up and sold to friends, family and supporters for $20 a pop. With the money raised, Jenna bought gifts for children at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

The project began when Jenna was 8 and is now an annual tradition, growing to 30, then finally 40 orders last year.

Forty, vowed mom Nicole, was the absolute limit.

What a difference a year makes. They’ve upped it to 50, and last Thursday, Jenna was elbow-deep in tart filling, prepping 200 jam tarts, as Nicole read out the various ingredient portions to Jenna, grease-stained recipe book in hand.

The tricky bit is doing the math – rapid-fire calculations are involved when you’re doubling, tripling, or quadrupling recipes.

“We need 50 eggs for everything and 16 pounds of butter,” said Nicole as husband Rich shouldered stacks of fresh eggs into the fridge.

Carving out baking time in Jenna’s busy soccer practice schedule is a growing challenge, and the family planned a weekend baking blitz to get everything done.

Why push it? A new convection oven, a better blender (discounts were had for both) and a broader island in the kitchen have helped streamline production.

“We can probably cut the baking time in half,” Nicole predicted. “This,” she smiled, surveying the trays waiting to go into the oven, “is the fun part.”

Jenna contacts local grocery stores for donations of gift certificates to purchase baking ingredients, stretching the budget as far as it will go. Thanks to their generous support (and from family members), Jenna will have nearly $1,000 to spend on presents.

Armed with a wish list, Jenna buys gifts for children she’ll never meet. They ask for crayons, paints and other craft supplies, or movie DVDs to pass the time.

“We’re actually buying gift cards for the parents, so they can take a break and go out for dinner,” Jenna said.

Jenna and her mom rely on tried-and-true recipes from a recipe book by Nicole’s aunt, Kim Thom, called Eat, Drink & Be Merry! Food, Drink and Gift Recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years Eve.

The jam tarts in the book are based on a family recipe.

Jam tarts

Food processor pie dough

1/4 cup raspberry or strawberry jam

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 Tbl lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup medium coconut

 

Preheat oven to 375. Roll out pie dough and cut into 3 1/2 or 4” diameter rounds; press into ungreased muffin tins. Chill while preparing filling.

Place 1 tsp jam in each of the tart shells. Beat eggs with sugar, salt and cornstarch. Blend in butter, lemon juice and vanilla. Fold in coconut (will seem runny but coconut absorbs the liquid).

Fill tart shells 3/4 full. Bake on bottom rack for 10 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 and bake until golden, about 10 minutes more.

– From: Eat, Drink & Be Merry! Food, Drink and Gift Recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year’s Gatherings.

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

White Rock Evergreen Baptist Society had 46 COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 13, according to a recent report released by the province. (Peace Arch News photo)
White Rock care home’s COVID-19 cases jump 50 per cent in a week: report

Three White Rock/South Surrey care facilities among B.C. sites with active outbreaks

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

RCMP were called to the 5600 block of 201A Street just after midnight on Monday were they found a 27-year-old man in an underground parking garage who had sustained multiple shot wounds. (Lisa Farquharson/Langley Advance Times)
27-year-old taken to hospital after overnight targeted shooting in Langley

RCMP have not confirmed the incident is link to the Lower Mainland gang conflict

U.S. military units march in front of the Capitol, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021 in Washington, as they rehearse for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, which will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden aims for unifying speech at daunting moment for U.S.

President Donald Trump won’t be there to hear it

Williams Lake physician Dr. Ivan Scrooby and medical graduate student Vionarica Gusti hold up the COSMIC Bubble Helmet. Both are part of the non-profit organization COSMIC Medical which has come together to develop devices for treating patients with COVID-19. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Group of B.C. doctors, engineers developing ‘bubble helmet’ for COVID-19 patients

The helmet could support several patients at once, says the group

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

Most Read