Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! May peace, joy, and love fill your home this holiday season.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pearl's Spudnuts

These little jewels are pillowy soft on the inside with a light crisp outside. The first time I ever tried these was when we were stationed out on Adak, 1400 miles waaaay out on the Aleutian chain of Alaska. A sweet round grandma named Pearl, who was an amazing baker, shared this with us in Relief Society. When I was Young Women President in our branch we went Christmas caroling and I brought the girls over to my home for hot cider and cocoa with doughnuts. A couple of weeks ago one of the young ladies came up to me and told me she would really love it if I would make doughnuts and hot cider for the girls so I did, between getting ready to decorate for a church dinner tonight and taking care of Family History stuff. These life "events" never come one at a time do they? This recipe is so yummy you will want to make it often.  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

Pearl's Spudnuts
1 1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. oil
1 cup mashed potatoes
2 T. yeast
1 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 t. nutmeg
5 1/2 to 6 c. flour
Powdered sugar for glaze or cinnamon sugar

Combine warm water, yeast, and a little bit of the sugar in a mixing bowl. Let yeast start to bubble. Add the rest of the ingredients except for 3 cups of the flour and mix well. Start adding the rest of the flour while keeping the mixer set at stir. The dough will be very soft. Let sit and rise, then stir down, rise again and stir down. Flour a surface and take half the dough out. Flour your hands and pat down the dough to about 1/2 an inch. Cut with favorite doughnut cutter or glass. In a heavy cast iron skillet or deep fryer heat the oil to 350-375 degrees. Drop cut dough shapes into oil and let puff up until golden brown. Turn and do the same with the other side. Drain on paper towels and dredge in cinnamon sugar or glaze. For my glaze I put about 1 cup powdered sugar in a bowl and then added a touch of orange juice, just enough to have a thin but not watery glaze. This will make about 4-6 dozen depending on the size of your cutter. Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sheryl's Butterscotch Bars

Butterscotch deliciousness in a thick yummy bar. Created for my family as an alternative to chocolate, these bars are a variation on Almond Fudge Bars, a recipe that has been revamped from an old Bisquick recipe. Full of oats, brown sugar, and flavor, these are sure to be a family favorite at your home as well.


1 c. butter
2 c. brown sugar
1 t. each vanilla and almond flavoring
2 eggs
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 1/2 c. flour
3 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans, chopped
1- 10 oz.  bag Nestle's butterscotch chips. Fair warning, if you go cheap they won't come out the same..I'm just sayin'....
2 T. butter
1 c. sweetened condensed milk  (do not use the whole can unless you want to catch your oven on fire, okay, if you're single and the firemen are cute go ahead but I warned you....) 
1 pinch of salt
Cream together butter, brown sugar and eggs in mixing bowl. Add flavorings. Toss in baking soda, and salt and then while mixing add the flour slowly. Add the oats, one cup at a time until mixed well and add nuts. Take out 1/3 of the dough and set aside. Spread the rest in a 11 x 17 cookie sheet. You can use your fingers if you butter them first to help spread the dough. It will be rather thin.

In the top of a double boiler combine your filling ingredients and melt over slowly simmering water in the bottom pot. Once smooth spread over the top of the cookie dough. Now take the rest of the dough that was set aside and drop by small pieces onto the filling. If you like you can sprinkle more chopped nuts over this. My family doesn't like nuts but it makes these extra tasty in my opinion. Bake in a 350 degree oven on a rack set at one level above the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden on top. Let cool about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. Yield 48

So you want to know about the fireman reference? One Christmas season when we lived in Sitka, AK as I was getting some baking done and of course hadn't showered yet, I put a batch of these in the oven. Yes, I used the whole can of sweetened condensed milk as I didn't want to see the rest go to waste. So about 15 minutes into the baking time I hear the smoke detector go off and run to the kitchen to see smoke billowing out of the oven. I opened the oven door and there were flames shooting up from the bottom of the oven and no amount of salt or baking soda would put them out. I had opened the doors and windows to let the smoke out and someone seeing this called the fire department. A whole crew of guys show up  and they got the fire out, but here I was, no make-up, hair a mess, and shabby sweats on. Needless to say, every time I passed one of them in the grocery store, or where ever, I was asked if I'd been baking lately....

As for the rest of the condensed milk here's a couple of ideas that might work for you, with your own variations added. 

Make a delicious sweet mustard spread by combining 3/4 cup of mayonnaise with 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard. Mix in 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp. of water. Combine ingredients completely and refrigerate. This is a tasty spread to use on sandwiches, in salads as a dressing, or as a sauce for ham and pork.
At wikipedia you can find these ideas : In parts of Asia and Europe, sweetened condensed milk is the preferred milk to be added to coffee or sweetened tea. Many countries in South East Asia use condensed milk to flavor their coffee. A popular treat in Asia and Brazil is to put condensed milk on toast and eat it in a similar way as jam and toast. In West Yorkshire, in the years after World War Two, condensed milk was an alternative to jam. NestlĂ© has even produced a squeeze bottle similar to Smucker's jam squeeze bottles for this very purpose. For those who drink coffee or tea and like to add milk, I would even consider adding flavorings to your leftover SCM and use it like a flavored creamer. 
I hope you like all of these ideas. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Cookies - Maple Melt-away Crisps

Tender, crisp and oh so buttery maple, these cookies are an adaptation of a recipe I found years ago. It was too crumbly and dry so I revamped it to come up with these. They are a family favorite. I hope you enjoy!

1 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. maple flavoring
1/2 t. salt
2 c. flour
1/2 c. ground walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add flavoring and the dry ingredients, mixing well. Chill for about 1 hour. Form into 1" balls and roll in white sugar. Flatten on un-greased cookie sheet with the back of a glass. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Yield about 5 dozen.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cran-Apple Dream Pie

 The other night we were having friends over for dinner. Hubby was fixing his delicious Chicken Curry with a lot of spice so I decided to create a creamy yet refreshing pie with a holiday flare. although there are several steps, this really is an easy peasy and so yummy pie, well worth the little bit of time put into making it. The cranberries can be rough chopped in the blender or food processor. Save yourself the headache of trying to chop each little cranberry or chasing them around the counter or floor. It's amazing the places you will find them later. ;-)
I used crumbs created from stale doughnuts that I cubed and lightly toasted before turning to crumbs as part of my crust ingredients but there are more possibilities such as crumbed short bread cookies, or the regular graham cracker crust. So I'm stating graham cracker crumbs in the recipe, but be creative! I never let anything go to waste, so if cookies are getting a bit dry or the same with cake, I just cube or crumble them up and dry them in the oven so I can use them for sweet crumb crusts later.
This pie has two main layers, one a creamy dreamy whipped cream cheese and whipped cream layer with a touch of grated orange peel. The other a fresh chopped cranberries and apples in jello. I used cherry jello as I didn't have raspberry, but try either and see which you like better. Cherry was very good, but I really want to try raspberry next time. Okay enough of this nonsense, on to the recipe!

Serves 8
1 1/2 c. sweet crumbs from graham crackers or shortbread cookies
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
In a 9" pie plate combine ingredients and press onto bottom and up the sides of the dish. In a pre-heated 350 degree oven bake for 5 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

1- 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped, buy a pint container of whipping cream so you have some for topping as well.
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1-2 t. greated orange rind
1/2 - 3/4 c. powdered sugar, to taste
In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy, add powdered sugar, vanilla, and orange rind, mix well. Gently fold in whipped cream until fully incorporated. Don't beat heavily as whipped cream will lose it's stiffness and the creamy filling will be too soft. Spread into the cooled crust and let set in the refrigerator while preparing jello layer. 
1- 3 oz. box Cherry or Raspberry Jello
1 c. boiling water
3/4 c. cold water
1 c. each chopped apple and cranberries
1/2 c. sugar
In a medium size bowl combine jello, sugar and boiling water, stirring to dissolve. Add cold water and let soft set in refrigerator. Add fruit and stir gently. Carefully spoon over cream cheese layer in pie plate. Let set until firm, about 1-2 hours.

1 1/2 c. whipping cream
3-4 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl combine ingredients and whip until soft stiff peaks form. Add a dollup to each piece of pie when served.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harvest Pumpkin Pie

Comfort food is always a winner when the weather turns cold and a blanket of snow is covering everything. Last night we had the missionaries over for dinner. I always like to ask if there's anything they can't or won't eat as well as something they would like to have. The request was for meatloaf, shrimp and pumpkin pie. Who would have thought that a missionary from Mexico City would ask for pumpkin pie, but he had tasted some last year and really wanted to try it again. Far be it from me to deny this industrious young man his wish.
I decided to try a "flaky" crust recipe and a twist on the old favorite. For the crust I started with 2 1/2 c. unsifted all purpose flour and whisked  in 2 T. sugar and 3/4 t. salt. With my pastry blender I cut in 10 T. cold butter and 3 T. lard, but you can use shortening if you prefer. I just happened to have the lard around for tortillas and never have shortening, so there you go. No, this isn't your health conscious recipe. What?! Hey, you don't have to eat the whole pie in one sitting just because it's totally delicious and creamy and wonderfully yummy.... ;-)

After the flour and fats were blended to a crumbly mixture I added 1 large egg, and then sprinkled on 1 T. white vinegar, and about 4 T. ice cold water. I took my trusty fork, and gently folded the wet into the dry. Be careful not to work it too much or your crust will be tough. When the dough sticks together nicely create to balls of dough and then flatten them into disks to wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Roll out your dough on a lightly floured board and use your pie pan, a 9" one will do for this pie. The other dough disk can be frozen or used for another pie. Invert your pie pan onto the dough and cut about 1 to 1 1/2" away from the edge, all the way around. Gently pick up the dough by one edge and fold it over to the other, lift this into your pie pan and lay open. DO NOT stretch the dough to get it to fit into the pan otherwise it will shrink away from the sides of the pie plate and you will have a much smaller crust than expected. Fold over and crimp the edges. See how pretty?
Next you lightly prick the bottom of the crust but try not to pierce through to the dish. Heat your oven to 425 degrees as you will be partially baking this crust empty. This helps insure that your crust is nicely cooked from top to bottom.  Now you need a square piece of foil, place that onto the crust, then add  some dry rice or beans to fill the foil about 3/4 of an inch. This keeps your crust from puffing up during the baking process. Bake for 12 minutes, then remove the foil and rice and bake for 3-5 more minutes until the crust is no longer translucent and is just beginning to look golden. Take out the crust and put a flat baking pan in the center oven rack.
Make a glaze with one egg white (save the yolk to use later)  and 1 T. water whisked together. Brush this over the bottom and sides of the crust to help seal it. Cool on a wire rack.
In a mixer bowl combine 2 cups of pureed pumpkin, with 2 eggs plus the saved yolk. Beat well.

I thought this was a cool shot so I added it for fun...
Add 1/2 c. sugar
1 cup cream or canned milk
Now, the yummy part! Add 1/2 cup real maple syrup, or if you must, maple flavored syrup. I used the real deal. To that add 2 t. pumpkin pie spice or a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, as well as 1/2 t. salt. For those of you who like to skip the salt, DON'T!!! Oh sorry, a flash back to my Mommy days.... Now then if you leave out the salt, your pie will not have the fullness of flavor a good pie should have. Just saying...... Okay cooperate blogger! Sheesh, I'm almost done and you have to get fussy! Alrighty then, I guess I will finish up here, above the photo, so into the oven your pie is carefully placed, onto the baking pan. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and continue to bake the pie for another 45 minutes. To keep the edge of the crust from browning you will want to make a foil cover for the edges, or you can buy a nice metal crust protector at any fine cookware store. Take your pie out and let it cool on a rack before covering and chilling for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve with your favorite topping. Oh yeah, those cute little leaf cutouts I made and took a picture of that you see at the top of these photos never made it on top of the pie. It would have looked wonderful but, well I reached into the cupboard without looking and managed to dust them with seasoning salt instead of cinnamon sugar. They make great crackers, but somehow I don't think the blend of garlic and onions in the seasoning salt goes with pumpkin pie. Maybe I'm wrong....yeah, you're right, I'm not. :-) I hope you give this recipe a try. In the immortal words of the late and great Miss Julia....Bon Appetite!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Catch a Mouse

Last night as I was sitting at my computer I heard a scratching sound. At first I thought it was the wind blowing something outside the apartment, but then I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. EEEEkkkk! A little furry nose stuck out from between my canned goods stacked against the wall. So I call my hubby who says there should be traps in the tool box. Nope, they weren't there but I did remember seeing them in the move. So I hunted around but couldn't find them. Rats! no pun intended...;-) 
I went back to my work, thinking I would run up to the store after work today. So then I hear something ripping! "Alright, that's it!" I said to myself as I peeked into the closet where the rest of our food storage is. I saw the new bag of chips we'd just picked up at Costco last weekend, sitting on some jars on the floor of the closet, I picked it up and yes, the little bugger had started to chew a hole at the base of the bag.
Here I'd been thinking how nice it was to be in a clean and easy to keep clean apartment, with no bugs or critters to worry about. No more roly poly bugs racing across my bathroom floor, or Satan spiders running at us while we were sitting there taking care of business. I thought I had done all I could to keep what ever vermin might be lurking, and yes apartment living is a joy? NOT!!!! Well I put in containers and buckets the rest of the food that a critter might be able to get to, and got ready for bed as it was late. I then remembered that the traps were with some of Kent's things up in our closet. So I got one out, set it and put a little cheese on the paddle. I guess you have to mash the cheese onto the paddle as it was gone this morning, but there was no mouse to be seen. So I re-set the trap, with cheese mashed in. We shall see what happened when I get home later. This may be an interesting venture, mouse against woman. Who will be the winner? I will of course as mice carry disease. There are those who believe we should just catch them and set them free in an animal friendly environment, but I don't know the virtue in that. For those who do believe this way, or just want to keep them from invading your space, here's a video link I found that might be what you want. For me, it's going to be traps since we can't have pets here. 
How to Get Rid of Mice???

Monday, November 15, 2010

Families can be forever.....

 As I watched my son and grandson playing on our recent visit to Arizona, I kept thinking about how quickly time goes by and how fast this time was going to pass. My heart ached for the shortness of our visit and the way we were cheated out of half of our time with Emmett, but we did have some time with him and I will always cherish the moments. To be able to watch them running, exploring, reading and laughing together was the best gift I could ever hope for. For me, I've already had my Christmas wish granted in part. This was a birthday present for my son, and I'm so glad for the time we all had together. I love my grandson so much that I was willing to work to help pay for us to go see him. Emmett needs his daddy. He needs to know his daddy loves him and unfortunately they have been kept apart. Not having ever known my real father, I want to make sure Emmett knows his daddy and how much his daddy loves him.
It occurred to me while watching them that we won't have to worry about time the same way in the hereafter. We won't have to hurry to get through a task in order to have the time with those we care about, we won't have to worry about distances separating us, or money to get to where they are. For me, flying won't be an issue anymore. ;-) How nice will that be?! How wonderful to be able to talk to, walk with, play with, work with and be with those whom are near and dear to us when ever we want. What a precious gift!
Do you believe there's life after death? I hope so. I hope you know how much you are loved, and that there is hope in Christ. I hope you know that he has something so wonderful, so precious, so great that he was willing to die for us to have it. Families ARE forever you know......

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Attitude of Prayer

 It came to my attention again this past week that some people view us Mormons as strange in the way we approach prayer. A family member who is not Mormon works in corrections. He was taught that the body language of arms being folded is an act of aggression where as we in preparing to pray most often fold our arms and bow our heads, which is really an attitude of submission. Perhaps the difference is in the bowing of the head and closing the eyes, but this got me to thinking.
 I remember when we lived in North Pole we had a neighbor's son over for lunch. As we got ready to pray this little boy was surprised to see my children fold their arms instead of clasping their hands or putting them together. I shared with him that it was our way of getting ready to pray, but he could do what he wanted. He went home and told his mom what we did and that started an interesting and rather sad situation of her not letting her son over to eat with us because we were a "cult" and did weird things.
 Today I decided to ask our District President what he knew about why we usually fold our arms instead of the hand clasping or so on and he said pretty much what I already knew. It has more to do with helping to keep children reverent during prayer than anything else. Having taught the little ones at church for years I can attest to the fact that it really does help. You are less likely to have Johnny reaching up to poke the back of Suzie's head when all other eyes are closed, or pretending he's an airplane, or Janey won't be shoving her hands into her neighbor's face.  President Boatman shared with me a painting he saw this last week of a family around the table praying. They all had their hands clasped, but the little girl had a finger pointing out as if she was shooting her brother sitting across from her, and he was making faces at her while their parents had one eye open watching the whole scene. Sounds like something Norman Rockwell would have painted doesn't it?
 My question is this, does it really matter how we fold our arms or hold our hands when we pray, as long as we are showing a reverence and an attitude of respect and willingness to listen?
 The saying that a family that prays together, stays together is so true! When we are all working in harmony, following the Saviors example, he who taught us to pray by precept and example, doesn't it help us draw closer as a family? I say yes!
 So as we look at those around us who do things a bit differently, remember that it's by their fruits that ye shall know who the true followers of Christ are. Those who are kind, generous, thoughtful, honest, chaste, virtuous, hard working, willing to sacrifice for those who are in need, they are the people who are trying to be like the Savior, no matter what church they belong to.
So yes, we as members more often than not fold our arms, bow our heads and close our eyes to pray. It's not a prerequisite to being a member though as all of the above family photos are of LDS families praying.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Applesauce Time!

There's a light rain drizzling down as the pot of applesauce simmers on the stove. The sweet smell of cinnamon and apples drifts through the house, evoking feelings of home and hearth and comfort. What is it about home made applesauce that wraps you in a feeling of security, like a downy blanket? As the twins and I sample some of the slightly spicy mixture of apples, sugar, lemon juice and spices, they cheer me on when I load up another spoonful for one of them. I remember when I was young that Mom would make a delicious pork roast with gravy, potato pancakes, and we would have applesauce and green beans as our sides. Yum!
Applesauce is probably one of the simplest foods to make. Peeled and cored apples, a little liquid if needed to keep the apple slices from sticking until they release their juices and turn soft, and a bit of sugar if you desire. I added a bit of Cinnamon Plus from Pampered Chef as I wanted something almost dessert like for a cool Autumn evening. 
Wondering what variety of apple to use for making applesauce? Golden Delicious and McIntosh are recommended although I had Galas and they made a delicious applesauce. For an extra special treat, if you have pears, try a half and half version of pears and apples, so yummy! There are a myriad of places to look up recipes for applesauce, especially if you want to can it. Here's a link for some more information. CANNING APPLESAUCE I hope you give it a try!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Autumn Morning Breakfast - Apple Craisin Maple Rolls Plus

 With the cooler mornings my thoughts tend to turn to warm comfort foods for breakfast. I have a couple of bags of apples in the fridge waiting to be sauced so I decided to create a breakfast roll that would satisfy my craving for apples and maple, with a touch of cranberries.
 The beauty of this recipe is that I got 8 large rolls, and one loaf of bread out of the batch. I was also able to use some sour milk I had on hand. With just the two of us a gallon of milk doesn't always get used like it should so instead of water I used that.
These are sweet without being overly sugary and have just the right amount of fruit without being too much. Not your typical sweet roll recipe, I used my standard bread recipe with some modifications so here it is. I hope you give it a try!

Apple Craisin Maple Rolls Plus
 bread dough
2 1/2 cups warmed sour or regular milk
2 T. yeast
1/3 c. honey
2 T. molasses
1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
3 heaping tablespoons flax seed powder
3 T. apple sauce
3 T. oil
2 t. salt
6 or more cups white flour, or you can add a bit of whole wheat if you like
4 small apples cored, sliced and chopped
1 c. chopped Craisins
1/4 cup each brown and white sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1/4 t. each ground cloves, allspice and cardamom
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 c. flour
softened butter

Combine warmed milk, yeast, honey, molasses, oats, applesauce and flax seed powder in mixing bowl. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add oil and salt along with 3 cups of flour. Turn mixer on low and combine. Add more flour, 1-2 cups and mix on stir. Dough should be forming a ball by this time, knead either by hand on a floured board, or using the mixer, adding 1/4 cup of flour at a time if still sticky. Knead by hand for 10 minutes, until nice smooth ball forms, or by mixer 5 minutes dusting with flour until dough no longer sticks to sides of bowl. Place dough in bowl and let rise for about 30 minutes. Turn oven on to 375 degrees.
While dough is rising combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl and oil a 9 x 13 pan as well as 1 large loaf pan. After dough has risen for 30 minutes divide in half. Form one half into a loaf and place in loaf pan. The other half roll out on floured board to make a 10 x 14 inch rectangle. With a pastry brush lightly brush dough with butter. Spread apple mixture over the dough out to the edges. Roll up the long side and slice into 8 rolls. Place in oiled cake pan and let both bread and rolls rise for 30 minutes or until the bread loaf  is 1 1/2 inches above the pan. Bake one level above the bottom rack level, rolls for 25 minutes and bread for 35. Immediately take bread out of pan and place on rack to cool. Combine 2 cups powdered sugar with 2 t. maple flavoring. Add just enough water to make a smooth and thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle glaze over rolls and serve. Enjoy!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fighting the Weight Battle and Winning....

I've found that the best tool to help me lose weight is the bathroom scale. No fancy diets, no "plans" or medications, expensive products, or exercise equipment can take the place of knowing where you are on the scale.
Of course you need to watch what you eat, exercise, and get plenty of rest in the process of fighting the weight battle, but it doesn't matter if you don't have a way to monitor how you are doing. That's why the weekly meetings some plans have, have weigh ins.
I check my weight daily. Obsessive perhaps, but it tells me if I'm eating too much, and tells me if I'm still losing or staying the same. My goal is to lose a pound a week to every two weeks. As long as I don't gain during that time I'm fine. If I start to gain then I can assess what I need to do, whether it's exercise more, or just eat less of those things that aren't good for me.
No, I'm not starving, I have plenty of fruit and veggies on hand as well as nuts, whole grain chips and crackers. We eat normal meals such as tonight, when we will have Chicken A La King over rice, with some sort of veggie as a side. I'm making peach pie for dessert because it's FHE night, but I will have a smaller slice and only half a scoop of ice cream on the side. I don't believe that losing weight means giving up everything good tasting, or enjoyable, though we really love fresh foods and dishes made from scratch so we never feel deprived.
So, if I can say anything to anyone trying to lose weight, start with getting a good scale. Have a plan for exercise. I walk with friends 3 days a week, and Kent and I will take a nightly stroll when we can. I also ride my stationary recumbent bike2-3 times a week, which takes up little space in our back room. Sunday is a day of rest and recuperation, which is vital to a good weight loss plan. Our bike cost $150 and the scale about $30 dollars. Such a deal when you consider the health benefits and money saved in going to the doctor, or buying into all the other expensive plans, equipment or "helps". How much weight have I lost this summer? 16 lbs so far, with 25 to go. It works for me!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chili Green Beans

You read right, Chili Green Beans is a wonderful concoction Mom came up with when we had an over abundance of green beans one year. I don't often have fresh green beans so I haven't made this much over the years, but we had a few in our Oregon garden and bought some from our favorite produce stand on the way back to Utah last week. Kent was a bit leery of the whole idea, we were too when Mom first served them to us, but he ate 4 bowls of it and wanted more. I loved it when Mom made it, but have had to come up with my own version as we don't have her recipes. So here's my version. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Chili Green Beans

1 lb. burger
2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped celery
1 bell pepper, chopped
4 c. fresh green beans, cut into bite size pieces
2 t. each seasoning salt and cumin powder
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. each italian seasoning and dried basil
3 T. mild chili powder
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 pint canned tomatoes
1 pint tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 c. water
1 chopped jalepeno, if desired

Brown burger and then add chopped onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic, saute until soft. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and bring to bubbling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn down to a simmer and let cook until green beans are done. Serve with corn bread.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Do You Believe.....

Sometimes, unbeknown to us, God is preparing us for blessings we aren't sure we want. For  awhile now we've been talking about "what if" the school district decided to put Kent in as principal of the high school once the then principal retired. Kent knew it would be a lot of work as there have been things that needed to happen over at our high school for a long time. He wasn't sure at first that he would want that challenge, but his thoughts have gradually changed over the months to be more along the line of, "Well if I were the principal there, this is what I would do."
So we passed through the summer dealing with health issues for several family members and trying to figure out what to do with Kent's parents to help them as they are no longer able to live alone. We got that problem solved thanks to a sweet sister-in-law and her husband, so we thought things would quiet down. Then Kent gets a call from the school district letting him know that the HS principal had quit. So he throws his hat into the ring for candidate, even though they had already asked him several times before if he would be interested. He was appointed the new principal of the high school 3 weeks ago, and it has been such a wonderful blessing already! He is actively engaged in planning ways to make a difference, he is working harder, but sleeping better. He's getting better benefits I won't go into here, but needless to say, some of his other worries are being taken care of in ways we never expected.

I believe, that sometimes God will prepare us way in advance, for major changes in our lives. As a side note to all of this, I have had a sense for months that we were going to move and that I needed to de-junk. Well, knowing is not always doing, so while we are having to move, I will be de-junking whether I like it or not. Yes, I do believe that God will prepare us for many things.....if we are paying attention. Do you believe?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday's Tasty Tip for Breakfast

Can we say yummmm!!!!! My peaches are finally starting to ripen, but with bittersweet thoughts I pick and relish them one last time. We are moving, and so the tree with be in the hands of those who may not give it the care and attention I have. Perhaps I can sneak over and take care of the tree each year until we move to Oregon.... For now, I will enjoy the fruits of my labor, and God's blessing.
My tasty breakfast tip is something I gleaned from Dio, a friend whom I first met while living in North Pole, Alaska. She is so energetic, though much like me, a bit short and in need of always finding ways to stay healthy and keep her weight in check. Although McDonalds offers a similar food for breakfast, I like that I can control what I put in my version and the use of cantaloupe was a new one for me that turned out to be delightfully refreshing on a warm summer day.

Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Parfait

1 c. fresh chopped peaches, cantaloupe or berries (yes cantaloupe is wonderful this way!)
1/2 c. vanilla yogurt, or plain yogurt sweetened with maple syrup or honey to taste
1/2 c. your favorite granola or cereal

Layer in a parfait glass, or in a bowl, enjoy!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Abandoning home phones creates 'Single Cell Syndrome' | Mormon Times

An interesting article that addresses a new phenomenon in the family phone situation. I can relate in trying to get a hold of people to fill in as a sub to lead music in church, or help in the family history center. As usual the LDS church is ever trying to keep up with the times. How does your family/church/civic group or work place deal with this?

Abandoning home phones creates 'Single Cell Syndrome' | Mormon Times

Monday, July 26, 2010

You Can't Have It Both Ways

We've all had those "woulda, coulda, shoulda" moments where if we were thinking we "woulda" said something that "coulda" made someone think, and we "shoulda" just done it. Take for instance the other afternoon, when a couple of friends and I had stopped to grab some killer barbeque before heading to the rodeo. As we were enjoying some hefty tri tip sandwiches with fresh cole slaw and dutch oven ranch beans, a group of young men sat down at the table behind us. Their conversation centered around a new woman one of the men was dating. We overheard comments about her not liking to eat burgers and "heavy" foods, and the young man commented on her eating rabbit food all the time. They also asked him about things such as camping and outdoor activities to which he answered that she was sending mixed messages.
If I had been really thinking I "woulda" turned around and asked him whether he cared about a woman's weight or not in regards to deciding whether to ask her out. Many of us women have been through the ringer with men who have very specific preferences on the women they date. I had a friend once who loved blue eyed blondes, especially with long legs. Another one loved red heads, and then there was the blind date who told me all about his tiny room mate who was built more like a 12 year old than a woman. I got the last laugh on him though as I ordered the lobster dinner and he had to pay...:-) So back to the overheard conversation. The thought that occurred to me later as I reflected on their chat was that men often like their women thin, but they also want them to eat like a guy. You know what I mean, steaks, hot dogs, burgers, fish and chips, potatoes, and barbeque are all things most fellas love, and they want to see their women eating them as well. Perhaps I "coulda" learned something, or even better, had this young man thinking about the old saying, "You can't have it both ways."
I "shoulda" said something, as we would have either had a very interesting conversation, or been told to MYOB. So tell me all you men out there, would you rather have a thin woman, or one who will eat with gusto and enjoy their meal along with you?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Chief Joseph Days again...the wild horse stampede

Such a gorgeous day! Sandy and I went to lunch at La Laguna's, which in my opinion is the best Mexican food restaurant in the valley. The salsa is fresh, and has just enough bite to it to make it worth asking for more. After lunch we came up to the corner of First and Main here in Joseph so we could have a good view of the horses as they stampeded down the main drag. Love the scenery, don't you???

More of the gorgeous mountains we get to see every day. The girl in the blue dress, holding her hat is actually a bronze sculpture. There are bronzes on just about every corner of the 3 main blocks here in Joseph. We have 3 foundries here where beautiful pieces are created for buyers around the world.

Here's a view of the main street that the horses will come down. way up at the other end, is what we used to call Brennan's Hill because the actor Walter Brennan had a home at the top of it. It was our favorite hill to sled down at night as it was well lit and just steep enough to get to the bottom of the hill without ending up on the main street.

Here they come! All the way down from Mount Joseph ranch, the horses for the rodeo are herded down to the rodeo grounds.

Ummmm, we couldn't decide if the horses were thinking the pavement was too hot, or they were looking for something, but all of a sudden they just stopped. The stampede ended up being more like a stroll down Main Street...:-)

They decided it was okay to proceed, so off they go, at a saunter, heading down through town.

This is it! The end of the stampede, which we waited almost an hour for because someone had posted the time wrong...Oh well, the stores were teeming with customers afterward so for local shop owners, this is a great way to kick off Chief Joseph Days. Always the last full weekend in July, Chief Joseph Days is worth the wait!

Monday, July 19, 2010

For Those Who Think God Doesn't Have a Hand on Things.....

Every time I wend my way into Wallowa Valley I'm struck by the beauty and majesty of the mountains here. They are so impressive, with a presence that shows the Master's touch.
How anyone can believe that this world and all in it happened randomly is beyond me. This valley has everything a farmer or rancher needs to grow a myriad of things to provide food and shelter for mankind. From the crystal clear mountain streams, to the fertile soil, all are ready made for us to provide for our families if we are willing to work for it.
We had company last night and discussed this very topic. For the non-believers answer these questions.
If there is no God who created this world, then why did we evolve into upright creatures who can think critically and communicate in such a complex way and not other life forms? How is it that we are the only creatures on earth that evolved to this point? How is it that the world on it's own just happened to set up a way for us to provide for our needs with food, shelter and fuel? We have sunshine, water, good soil, a way to improve what is already here by our own efforts, and fuel, we have more than enough to spare if we use it wisely. We can use the resources available to create all we need to live comfortably. This was random? This was just evolution? It would be like putting all the components of a computer on a table and then waiting to see if it will come together by itself.
As was mentioned in our conversation, to look at a human body and see the amazing complexity of how we function and not see God's hand is ludicrous. To see a honey bee at work, a robin foraging for food in the yard, a fish as it jumps from a lake to catch it's dinner, all are so amazing in beauty and diversity, and they are there for us to admire, or use as a food source, or to help us. I for one don't think that this happened just by chance, and am grateful for the blessing of being able to see the hand of God in all things.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Winning the fight?

I live for summer days in Oregon when I can buy blueberries by the bucket fulls and snack on them! So sweet and tart at the same time, they burst with flavor as you bite into them. I'm trying to fight the sugar cravings I get when I'm tired, and I'm tired because I had to take a Benadryl. I had to take a Benadryl because something is making me sneeze and I have an itchy mouth, even though it's been wet and rainy here. So I am fighting back by trying to eat things that will satisfy my sweet tooth without adding to my waistline. I find it easier when it's warm out, I seem to naturally gravitate towards fresh fruit and veggies, but it's downright cold here right now! Staring at a computer screen for too long doesn't help so I need to go for a walk and get my head cleared. I think though, that in order to win the weight loss war I do need to start a food diary so here goes.
June 18
Breakfast - 1 cup Left over beef stir fry noodles with extra peppers and onions. A bowl of fresh blueberries.
Lunch - 1/2 serving of low fat turkey slices on one slice of dill rye bread with lettuce, onion, yhonnaise and a sprinkling of Craisins. 9 tortilla chips with cheesy salsa.
Dinner - leftover lentil pilaf with a few chicken chunks, and more peppers and onions. 1/2 cup rocky road ice cream, more blueberries
I know, a lot of leftovers here, but we have been going out a lot and I can usually only eat a half a plate of food at a time. Tomorrow I will try and stay away from the ice cream and the cheesy salsa. The lentil pilaf is a wonderful recipe I will have to get my friend to share. It's full of nutritious ingredients, tasty and low fat as well. The stir fry wasn't too bad except I couldn't tell what the veggies were it was cooked for so long. That's another story though and we won't be eating at that restaurant again. For breakfast I think oatmeal with walnuts and Craisins will do the trick. I am not one to cut out carbs just for the sake of cutting them. If I eat carbs I try to go for whole grains, not processed junk. Honestly, we eat way too much meat and need to look to other sources for protein that aren't a heart attack waiting to happen. Marvelous Marvel has a wheat berry recipe she has been promising to share so I will snag that and share with you if it passes the Parsons taste test kitchen. :-) Regardless of how my menu looks right now, I am losing a bit of weight, probably due to walking up the hill to the lake, and lots of yard work.  Oh, and chasing the deer away from my flowers and lilacs, the little buggers! I also zigzag my way up through town on my bike alternate days. Why not go straight up the road? I've got too much to haul around right now...;-) I'm off to walk to the store for throat lozenges so taataa for now! I hope that if you are waging the weight loss war, you are winning!

Home Decorating

Wouldn't it be nice of stores such as Walmart would carry a certain line of curtains or other such items for more than one year or so? All is not lost though, I took some sheers I had in the bedroom and created a window treatment that is not only unique but versatile. The sheers were 84" long but I wanted them to just come to the bottom window sill so I folded them over the rod and made measurements so that I could create a rod pocket in each with a top ruffle. After sewing the pocket and ruffle I hung them up on the rods, and brought each fold over corner up to the center of the rod and attached them with a what is called a "yo yo" that has a button in each center. I made tie with the yo yos on them as well. I can slip the ties off when we just want the sheers to hang for more privacy, or put them on to let the sun shine in.
The walls are bare right now and we need to get the floors done, but there are two projects before the floors. We are so pleased with the color and the way the windows look! We get so many compliments on this little place and the colors we've chosen so far, and believe me, if my friends didn't like it, they would let me The next project is a deck outside to cover the hole in front of the house created for drainage as well as to meet codes. This fall we hope to get started on the bathroom. Yay! It's so fun to have a little place to fix up!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Flag Day - A Time To Remember

Flag Day was started back in 1916 by President Woodrow Wilson as a way to commemorate the adoption of the Stars and Stripes as a flag representing the United States of America by the Second Continental Congress back in 1777. Though not a federal holiday, it is a day to remember as we are so blessed to live in the United States of America. For more details stop by here: Flag Day .
Rules for displaying the flag can be found here. Displaying the US Flag.
Please take the time to post your flag, and also reflect the history and goodness of this great country. Are we perfect? No, of course not, and mistakes have been made, but it doesn't take away from the gift and blessing this United States of America is to us, and the rest of the world.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Genealogy and Fishing For Chickens

As the Family History Center Director for our district in Wendover, I am in charge of helping our consultants maintain a center for the public as well as church members. I am also responsible for helping our consultants encourage and support those who are interested in doing their genealogy. It was a calling given as an answer to prayer. Funny thing, the day I actually got down on my knees and asked Heavenly Father for help with my confusing and complex family history I was given the calling to be the Family History Center Director. So, here I am finding all sorts of interesting stories, photos and information on my own family as well as my "steps" of which I have several. Don't ask. :-)
I had to share this story as it brings to life "Grandpa George", who I met as a little girl. He's the gentleman on the left and here's a story that was shared by a brother of his, not the one seen in this photo though.
"Uncle Charlie said that when he was a young man, he and his brother George used to work whenever and where ever they could. They often traveled together while George was driving a Grey Line. They hauled packaged goods to Canada and helped people move and the like.

He said they would get hungry and "accidentally" crush a box of cookies, so that they could eat them. One day George got some line and put a worm on the end of it. He tossed it several times over a fence and into a farmer's yard where there were chickens. Charlie asked him, "What are you doing?" and George replied, "Well, I am fishing for chicken!" Charlie said that they did manage to coax one out that day."