Friday, November 27, 2009

to listen and to pray

1. I am grateful that we are finally going to the temple--it has been way too long since our last trip.

2. I am grateful for gingerbread muffins from Lehi Roller Mills. Yum.

3. I am grateful for online maps that direct me to the places I want to go.

"We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way." -Author Unknown

Thursday, November 26, 2009

this is the night we've waited for

Although my family was physically divided this holiday, it was one of the most enjoyable Thanksgiving days I can remember. We divided out the food prep and so it felt like I hardly had to do any baking and still there was plenty of food on the table. In fact, the food was better than I can ever remember it being. The company was delightful. Gulliver was charming and entertaining. It was a perfect moment in time. I hope that each of you also enjoyed a day that included a multitude of things to be grateful for.

1. I am thankful for Somebody. I can't imagine a better match for me than he is. He is calm, loving, helpful, loyal, patient, adventurous, honest, and strong. He is encouraging and realistic. He makes me laugh and is willing to hug it out. At the end of the day (and the beginning, and the middle) he is the person that I most want to be with, most want to talk to, most want to share with. He has a vision for his life and I am thrilled to be included in it. I love him.

2. I am thankful for Gulliver. I am fairly certain I got the best baby there is--he is so full of smiles and laughter and fun. He challenges my patience and my selflessness, but he rewards me with love and devotion. I never knew how delightful it would be to watch another person learn and grow and develop a personality. I spend more time with him than with anyone else and I still sometimes feel like there aren't enough minutes in the day to enjoy him. Some of my most cherished moments from the past year have been holding my beautiful baby, and I am thrilled that I was trusted with his care. I love him.

3. I am thankful that I have a testimony of Jesus Christ--that He suffered for my sins and sorrows, that He died on the cross, and that He rose again. I can't imagine my life without my relationship with my Savior. It gives purpose and direction to everything I do. I am thankful to know that there is a reason for the challenges of this life and that there is something more that we are working towards, but especially that He is there to help me through all the hard parts. I love Him.

"You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you."
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

slide down my rainbow

1. I am grateful that Gulliver slept just long enough for me to make both of the pies for Thanksgiving, plus a little hand pie with the dough fragments for lunch, plus do the dishes, plus clean the kitchen, plus eat lunch, plus check my email. Now THAT is a good nap. And those are going to be good pies.

2. I am grateful for my current life circumstances. My home is safe and clean and has plenty of space for our needs. Somebody has a stable job that provides enough income to pay our bills. We are all healthy. Somebody and I have both been blessed with opportunities for higher education. We are mentally stable (Somebody might say that my mental stability is at times unstable, but in general the lights are all on over here.) I have a remarkably supportive family who would catch us if we started to fall. We feel secure and loved. I have been blessed beyond measure.

3. I am grateful that Somebody has confidence that I can do whatever I want--decorate cookies, sew quilts, make pies, design onesies--and that people would be willing to pay me because my talent is so magnificent. I'm not usually as confident in my abilities, but I appreciate that he always encourages me toward whatever hobby has my interest.

"And though I ebb in worth, I'll flow in thanks." -John Taylor

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

blessings in my home

1. I am grateful that I am able to stay home and work full-time at keeping Gulliver alive. This is the greatest, hardest, most time-consuming, most rewarding job I could ever imagine. I am grateful that Somebody supports that decision and willingly goes to work to provide for our family.

2. I am grateful for music that can change my mood.

3. I am grateful for those who are willing to go out of their way to help others.

"We need to be more grateful. I think there's no true character without gratitude. It's one of the marks of a real strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It doesn't cost anything. It's so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation and gratitude."-Ezra Taft Benson, "Receive All Things with Thankfulness," New Era, Nov 1976

Monday, November 23, 2009

i may eat my words

1. Today is Somebody's birthday and he celebrated by taking the day off of work and spending it at home with us. Well, we weren't home all day because he wanted to do some shopping, but at least we got to spend the day together. The weather was beautiful and we were able to enjoy being outside for a little bit. This evening we met my mom for dinner and ate our fill (and more!) of crab and shrimp and calamari. And if that wasn't enough--because it kind of wasn't--we were able to finish the night with homemade cheesecake from my mom. It was a relaxing, fun, calm, perfect day. I am thankful for every minute of it.

2. I am grateful for the Google Latitude program that allowed us to track the progress of my dad, brother, niece, and nephew as they drove from Kansas to Utah last night. It was fun always knowing where they were along that long route. It was also reassuring to know that as long as their tracking dot kept moving that they were alive and well. I did consider that perhaps they had been ambushed and the phone with the tracking device had been stolen and I was watching the progress of the thieves as they made their get-away, but it turns out that was not the case at all and for that I am grateful.

3. I am grateful that as Somebody and I plan the finished touches of putting our home together that we have very similar taste and ideas and rarely disagree about what would be the best thing to do with the space. Thinking so similarly makes the process much more enjoyable.

"A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues." -Cicero

Sunday, November 22, 2009

valentine candy or boxing gloves

1. I am grateful that my cough seems to finally be going away AND that Gulliver finally seems healthy and happy again.

2. I am grateful for childhood movies that have great quotable lines that come to me at the most random times. For example, while typing that last gratitude I thought, "To have your alligators thaw out and your daughter forgive you all in the same bright morning--that's fortuosity." And it made me smile.

3. I am grateful that my parents are letting us borrow their second Christmas tree to set up in our living room this year.

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." -Johannes A. Gaertner

Saturday, November 21, 2009

through rose-colored glasses

1. I am grateful that I feel like I belong.
2. I am grateful for the ability to change.
3. I am grateful that I have millions of happy memories.
"We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way." -Author Unknown

Friday, November 20, 2009

pink is really my color

1. I am grateful for rubber gloves to wear when cleaning and washing dishes.
2. I am grateful for wash clothes and bars of soap. Sometimes it seems like I'm the only person in the world who still used them (I could just never get on the body wash/puff bandwagon) and I am always happy when I'm away from home and the place where I am staying provides them.
3. I am grateful that I decided to go to Dallas. I was able to visit with family that I haven't seen in a long time, shop at IKEA (three times in two days), and enjoy a new city.

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." -John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Thursday, November 19, 2009

she looks just like karla

1. I am grateful for my mother. Today is her birthday and I wasn't there to celebrate with her, but when I talked to her on the phone she said she had a good day. I love that my mom and I are friends and have so many common interests. Happy Birthday, Mom!

2. I am grateful for extended family and reasons to see them.

3. I am grateful that even thought I came to my cousin's wedding unannounced (I decided only two days ago to come) that everyone welcomed me with open arms and seems genuinely happy to see me.

“If you never learned the lesson of thankfulness, begin now. Sum up your mercies; see what provision God has made for your happiness, what opportunities for your usefulness, and what advantages for your success.”-Ida S. Taylor

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

good morning happiness

1. I am grateful that I decided to just say no to non-essential activities today. I needed to relieve some of my stress and give myself a few more hours, and staying home instead of going out to playgroup was just what I needed to stay sane today.

2. I am grateful that I receive inspiration to guide me in accomplishing the things I have stewardship over. I feel every day that the Lord is helping me be the best mom for Gulliver, the best (usually) wife for Somebody, and really steering the things I do to fulfil my church callings. I feel very blessed and watched over and know that I don't have to do any of the hard (or easy) things alone.

3. I am grateful that my cold has eased up enough that I am able to go down to Texas with my dad for my cousin's wedding. Also, I'm grateful that I braved Priceline today and scored a night at the Hyatt for $45.

“Think to thank. In these three words is the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, a formula for enduring friendship, and a pattern for personal happiness.” -Thomas S. Monson, Pathways to Perfection [1973], 254

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

and that stands for pool

1. I am grateful that there are women who have gone before me and learned all the tricks to being a mom. Well, you know, as much as you can learn "tricks" to being a good, competent parent. It is so comforting to have women I love who are there to give me advice when I encounter something new and confusing.

2. I am grateful that Gulliver is back to his seven-hour-each-night sleeping. The last two months of his frequent awakenings, and then last week when he reverted to getting up every two hours, just about put me over the edge. I'm sure he needs the sleep, too, but mostly I'm thankful that I am finally getting more sleep.

3. I am grateful that Heidi sent me home from her house with a baby-proofing starter kit. Heidi, how did you know? Oh, that's right, you have gone before me and know some tricks. On a related note, Gulliver can climb all the stairs now. It is trouble here in River City.

"The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. Pride destroys our gratitude and sets up selfishness in its place. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, a thankful attitude toward God and man!"-President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939]

Monday, November 16, 2009

trying to drown out the crying

1. I am grateful that we didn't have anywhere we needed to be when we had our first snowflakes of the season today. Not that it was any substantial amount of snow--if you didn't see it falling you would not have known it snowed--but we were able to go outside several times today and watch it fall. I love the quietness of snow falling.

2. I am grateful that Somebody wanted to put a wall of bookshelves in our office/guest bedroom. While I wasn't ever opposed to the idea, it was certainly something that he wanted a lot more than I did. Now that the bookshelves are up and filled with books and framed photographs, I love them and couldn't imagine this room without them.

3. I am grateful that I have someone else to share parenting responsibilities with. Man, I wouldn't want to be doing this alone.

"Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings."
-J. Robert Moskin

Sunday, November 15, 2009

for health and strength and daily food

1. I am grateful for the ability to control my climate. In the summer I am thankful every day that my house and my car (and, previously, my office) were air conditioned. Now that the weather is turning decidedly colder, I'm so thankful that I can turn the heat on and stay warm.

2. I am grateful for weekends when we can spend most of each day as a family. Between his job (and his 60 minute each way commute) and his evening classes, I feel like I hardly see Somebody during the week. I always look forward to Saturday and Sunday because all the projects and errands that we need to do we can do together. Also, I think that Gulliver enjoys those days the best--probably every Saturday morning I say, "Wow, Gulliver is SO happy to have both his parents home today." And he really is a much more smiley, happy baby on the weekends.

3. I am grateful for really soft Kleenex tissues. Both for myself and for the poor, tiny baby nose that I have to constantly keep wiping these days.

"We need to be more grateful. I think there's no true character without gratitude. It's one of the marks of a real strong character, to have a feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for blessings that are ours. We need more of that spirit in our homes, in our daily associations, in church, everywhere. It doesn't cost anything. It's so easy to cultivate the spirit of appreciation and gratitude."
-Ezra Taft Benson, "Receive All Things with Thankfulness," New Era, Nov 1976

Saturday, November 14, 2009

mike wazowski

1. I am grateful for cold medicine that can kind of make me feel better.

2. I am grateful for fresh oranges that are peeled for me.

3. I am grateful for Disney classic movies and cartoons that are fun to watch over and over again.

"Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality."
-Alfred Painter

Friday, November 13, 2009

home again

1. I am grateful for a well-maintained highway that makes traveling long distances safe and comfortable.

2. I am grateful for the comforts of home.

3. I am grateful for yummy smells coming from the oven.

"Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road."
-John Henry Jowett

Thursday, November 12, 2009

dust go to sleep

1. I am grateful for bonus naps.

2. I am grateful for eternal families. I would be sad if the only time I was going to know and interact with my family members was our time on this earth.

3. I am grateful that finally, after being here for three days, I was able to do something helpful for my sister. Good thing, too, because I was almost out of time and would have felt very guilty leaving here without being useful in some way.

"Gratitude is of the very essence of worship. … When you walk with
gratitude, you do not walk with arrogance and conceit and egotism, you walk with a spirit of thanksgiving that is becoming to you and will bless your lives"
--President Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

with a classic cherry almond scent

1. We took three of the children (in two strollers) and walked the mile over to the post office to mail a few letters. Sadly, the post office was closed (hello, veterans!) and so the letters didn't get mailed, but I am grateful that we got out of the house for awhile and enjoyed the cool morning air.

2. I am grateful for ponytail holders. I thought I used them a lot before, but then my baby grew into a professional hair puller and now they are practically a necessity.

3. I am grateful for lotion to ease my dry, irritated winter skin.

"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude."
--Denis Waitley

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

here's looking at you, kid

1. I am grateful for genetics. I love being able to see pieces of the parents when I look at the children. Right now I'm watching my sister help her oldest daughter with her homework, and, wow, that cute little girl is just the spitting image of her mother. And besides the physical resemblance, I enjoy seeing the personality traits that the children have picked up from their parents. It makes me excited to see what parts of me Gulliver will exhibit (since we already know he didn't get my fingernails. Poor kid).

2. I am grateful that my dad is always willing to take all the children outside to play so that the other adults can work on dinner. Gulliver just loves being outside with his grandpa.

3. I am grateful for warm, fresh-from-the-oven rolls.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow."
--Melody Beattie

Monday, November 09, 2009

they call it puppy love

1. I am grateful that twenty years ago today my family happened to be in Berlin and was able to witness the opening of the Berlin Wall in person.

Even though I was a young child, I can still remember the drastic difference between a people who were caged and then were free.

2. I am grateful that I get to spend the next few days with my sister and her family and learn from her mothering expertise.

3. I am, well, to say it nicely, not really a dog person. I'm not an animal person generally (Ginet, it's like we are the same person), but am especially not a dog person. My sister has a dog. I'm grateful for this reminder that I don't ever want to have a dog. You know, just in case I was reconsidering the option.

"Gratitude is a state of appreciation, an act of thanksgiving, which causes us to be humble because we recognize an act of kindness, service, or caring from someone else which lifts us and strengthens us." --Elder Robert D. Hales

Sunday, November 08, 2009

channeling my inner porcupine

1. I am grateful that Somebody forgives me and continues to love me even when I am stubborn, irrational, and mean.
2. I am grateful that books come in paper format and audio format so that Somebody and I can "read" the same book at the same time and then discuss it.
3. I am grateful that we were able to enjoy so many vegetables fresh from the garden this summer, and that the late summer items--the squash and sweet potatoes--were ripe just in time to be made into Oliver's first baby foods.

"Don't wait to start. Open your eyes, open your hearts, and open your arms. I promise that as you do so, you will feel greater joy and happiness. Your life will have a new level of meaning. You will forge relationships that will transcend this life and endure through the eternities."
-Joseph B. Wirthlin, "'Live in Thanksgiving Daily'," Ensign, Sep 2001

Saturday, November 07, 2009

the closet isn't going to organize itself

1. I am grateful for yummy, dried cranberries to mix in with my oatmeal each morning.

2. I am grateful for slow cookers so that I can put food in it in the morning, then go about my day with errands and chores, and know that when I return home and am ready to eat there will be something hot and (hopefully) yummy just waiting for me.

3. I am grateful for weekend mornings (okay, really just Saturday mornings) when Somebody is home and can take Gulliver downstairs to play and allow me to get just 15 more minutes of sleep. Somehow that makes a big difference.

"Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable. Gratitude turns a meal into a feast and drudgery into delight. It softens our grief and heightens our pleasure. It turns the simple and common into the memorable and transcendent. It forges bonds of love and fosters loyalty and admiration."
--Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Friday, November 06, 2009

more than sunflowers and sunsets

1. I am grateful that I live near my parents. I always thought that living an hour away from family was the perfect distance--you were close enough that visiting for the evening or weekend wasn't a hardship, but far enough away that there was no obligation to see each other every day. I was wrong. My parents live just 10 minutes down the highway (a significant distance compared to how close they have been the last couple of years) and I am grateful every day that it is no inconvenience at all to go over to visit them. I love them. Somebody loves them. Gulliver loves them. Being near them continues to bless our lives in countless ways.

2. I am grateful that Gulliver knows my parents and loves them almost as much as he loves me and Somebody. I love watching him with my parents, love watching them adore him, love watching his face light up when he sees them, love watching them play together.

3. I am grateful that we decided to move to Kansas. Leaving Utah was difficult for us because we were leaving behind amazing family and friends, and because we both had such wonderful experiences there. Utah was where our story began and we were afraid to move away from the warmth and security we knew there. Kansas, though, has been more than good to us. I feel like we, as a family, belong here in ways we never belonged before. I have been especially blessed with friends who enrich my life (I can't say enough good things about them, but I can't say anything more about them here because this gratitude is about Kansas life and not about friends). We are finally growing up and this is the perfect place to do it. I can't even think about how challenging it will be to leave.

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some."
--Charles Dickens

Thursday, November 05, 2009

slowly going darker

1. I am grateful for times when I get together with friends and we are chatting and laughing and the time just flies by. Not that I'm grateful for the time passing quickly, but, you know, when the conversation just keeps flowing and then you look at your watch and are surprised at how much time as passed. Those times = awesome.

2. I got my hair cut and colored today and had to take Gulliver with me and am so grateful that he did not wipe his now not-all-that-runny nose on any toys that did not belong to him. He was a trooper and I was glad that he was so well-behaved. I am also grateful for how great my hair looks after a professional has styled it.

3. I am grateful that right now, as I type this, Somebody is scratching my back (you know, because I needed to relax after my long, hard day of getting my hair cut and having dinner with friends). I helpfully suggested to him that maybe that was what he wanted to be doing, and while he didn't necessarily agree, he still obliged.

"As with all commandments, gratitude is a description of a successful mode of living. The thankful heart opens our eyes to a multitude of blessings that continually surround us. President J. Reuben Clark, formerly a First Counselor in the First Presidency, said: 'Hold fast to the blessings which God has provided for you. Yours is not the task to gain them, they are here; yours is the part of cherishing them.'"
James E. Faust, "Gratitude As a Saving Principle," Ensign, Dec 1996

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

i'm pretty sure i killed the yeast

1. I am grateful for clean floors. Somehow the whole house looks better when the carpets are recently vacuumed and the floors are swept and mopped. (I learned this from my mother who ALWAYS has the most clean floors.) My back is sad that it all that cleaning had to happen in one day, but, man, it was time.

2. I am grateful that the internet is like one bottomless pit of new recipes just waiting for me to try them. And that sometimes the ones I try turn out really well. Sometimes not so much, but at least I can learn from my cooking mistakes, and Somebody is a good sport to eat whatever it is that I serve him for dinner. (And just in case you were wondering, the new ones I tried tonight were mostly successful. It was the first time I've cooked with leeks--I used them in a potato/leek/bacon/corn chowder--and now I'm not afraid of them anymore. The bread bowls I attempted turned out more like enormous hamburger buns. Delicious hamburger buns, but hamburger buns.)

3. I am grateful that I feel comfortable enough in the kitchen to make my own changes and substitutions to recipes to tailor them to fit what we like to eat. I come from a family of competent cooks, and I have been taught well.

"If gratitude is due from children to their earthly parents, how much more is the gratitude of the great family of man due to our Father in heaven!"
--Hosea Ballou

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

in praise of facial tissues

1. Gulliver is sick today. More noticeably sick than he was yesterday. Today I am grateful that we didn't have any plans and were able to just stay warm at home. I'm grateful that we have already been to the doctor and that he is already taking antibiotics. I'm grateful that I could stay in pajamas because then I didn't mind when someone wiped his nose on me over and over and over.

2. I am grateful that I got to talk to so many friends and family members today. Getting to talk to the people I love is one of the best parts of having a birthday.

3. I am grateful that the cabinet guy finally came today to install the lazy susans in our kitchen corner cabinets. We've only been living here six months, and I only call him once or twice a week to remind him. He must have gotten tired of avoiding my phone calls. I am optimistic that this will help us feel like we have much more space in our kitchen.

"My plea is that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life, we 'accentuate the positive.' I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort."
--President Gordon B. Hinckley

Monday, November 02, 2009

these flip flops are from old navy

1. I am grateful for fun surprises. I was totally on to the game with the first location, but was completely thrown off by the venue change (obviously, because who shows up to her own surprise birthday party wearing her pajamas and house slippers?)

2. I am grateful that I decided to get up early and beat the rush to the walk-in clinic at the pediatrician's office this morning. I was the first in line (ten minutes before the office opened, and, no, they didn't open the doors early to let us in from the cold) and pretty much disliked standing there holding a cold baby, but SO happy to basically walk in and then go straight back to see the doctor. Also, somehow the visit and filling a prescription for antibiotics cost me a whopping $0.80. For that I am very, very grateful.

3. I am grateful clean bathrooms. Clean ANY room, really, but the bathroom is the only one that fits that description today.

"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude."--Cynthia Ozick

Sunday, November 01, 2009

name them one by one

It's that time of year again (can you believe that it is November already?). Time for pumpkins and gloves and long-sleeves and the November Attitude of Gratitude Challenge. For those of you who have not played before, the challenge is outlined below.

Here's how it works:
Each day during the month of November I will post three things I am grateful for. You should, too.
Definition of "things"- the term "things" is used here to encompass a myriad of stuff including, but not limited to:

  • a certain set of circumstances
  • an event
  • an inanimate object distinguished from a living being
  • possessions or effects
  • a deed or act
  • a product of work or activity
  • an idea or notion
  • a piece of news or information
  • a personal memory
  • anything that makes you smile
* The challenge is to come up with three ORIGINAL "things" each day. Try not to repeat entries.

Please note that challenge participation may result in any or all of the following:
- you will be surprised at all the Lord has done for you
- angels will attend
- you will feel help and comfort
- you will find yourself "singing as the days go by"
- your doubts will fly
(see LDS Hymn #241 for the above references)

In the past years I've included a gratitude quote each day. I think I've used them all up. This year (and in future years) you can expect to see some duplication of these quotes. Sorry, kids.

"Gracias, danke, merci—whatever language is spoken, "thank you" frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity—even a sincerity—when "thank you" is spoken."
-Thomas S. Monson, "The Profound Power of Gratitude," Ensign, Sep 2005

"Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief.
"Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil. Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride. How magnificently we are blessed! How thankful we ought to be!"
-Gordon B. Hinckley, "'With All Thy Getting Get Understanding'," Ensign, Aug 1988

November 1
1. I am thankful that we had beautiful weather this weekend--just enough to sun and warmth to plant a tree and grill some hamburgers.
2. I am thankful that we had an extra hour of sleep last night. Someone around here is either sick or teething or completely out of sorts because we spent many hours up during the night. Thank goodness we had an extra hour this morning to sort of make up for things.
3. I am thankful for key lime pie and friends who invite me over to eat it. Yum! It was the perfect way to welcome November.

"We are thankful for blessings we cannot measure, for gifts we cannot appraise, 'for books, music, art, and for the great inventions which make these blessings available[;] … for the laughter of little children[;] … for the … means for relieving human suffering … and increasing … the enjoyment of life[;] … for everything good and uplifting.'"
"Three Centuries of Thanksgiving," Etude Music Magazine, Nov. 1945

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

here is my stem and there is the ground

Gulliver and I joined our ward playgroup for a trip to the local pumpkin patch this morning. The weather bordered on chilly, but at least the rain didn't start falling until we were in the car and pulling out of the parking lot. Literally. Gulliver got his first experience crawling and playing in dirt and straw (is that some rite of passage or something?) and I got my first experience getting my hands all dirty ripping my perfect pumpkin off the vine and then being sad that I didn't have anything to clean my hands with and then realizing that I carry 89 wipes around with me at all times. Only I realized that part about the wipes about 15 minutes AFTER I wiped the dirt off on my tank top (you know, because my shirt was covering it up and the dirt wouldn't show. I know. I'm a genius.) Meh. It was still a great way to spend this morning.

That's my perfect pumpkin there on the left--the one Gulliver is pulling the vine from. Most of its perfectness was the fact that it had a stem and could be carried easily in one hand. My standards for pumpkins are fairly low.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

a few rays of light

My photo maybe isn't as cool as it was last year......but this year I got to take this handsome fellow with me.

And I think that more than makes up for it. If you are in the Kansas City area and want some sunflower pictures of your own (think family photos for Christmas cards), you can find directions to the sunflower field here.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

whipped. and fried.

It’s the final week. I had to go out with a bang. Or at least a deep fry. And why not make one more Chinese food recipe while I’m on a roll? Adrienne had been telling me for some time now that she had the perfect Sesame Chicken recipe, but each time she mentioned it I think I responded with, “That sounds GREAT! When are you making it so that I can come over for dinner?” I’m a good friend that way.

But, there I was, on the last week of the Whip It Up challenge, and in need of a good Homemade Take-Out recipe. Sesame Chicken? Why, yes, I think I shall.
Chinese Sesame Chicken

Approx. 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 T. soy sauce
2 T. flour
2 T. cornstarch
3 T. water
¼ t. baking powder
¼ t. baking soda
1 t. vegetable oil

Sauce for chicken:
½ C. water
1 C. chicken broth
1/8 C. vinegar
¼ C. cornstarch
1 C. sugar
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. vegetable oil
½ t. chili powder (or more, if you like it hot)
1 clove garlic minced or equiv. garlic powder

2 T. toasted sesame seeds
Oil for frying

1. Cut the chicken into cubes. Mix the marinade ingredients and marinade the chicken for 20 minutes.
2. To prepare the sauce, mix together all the sauce ingredients. Pour them into a small pot and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Turn the heat down to low and keep warm while you fry the chicken.
3. Heat oil in saucepan, generous enough to cover chicken completely for frying. Add marinated chicken a few pieces at a time and deep fry until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Repeat for all the chicken. 4. Just before you’re done frying, bring the sauce back up to a boil. Place chicken in a serving dish and pour sauce over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with rice.
I learned a couple of things while making this. First, if you are only serving two people you probably only need one pound of chicken. I used only one pound of chicken and still made the full marinade and sauce recipes. Yum. I like lots of sauce. Second, I hate deep frying. ‘Tis messy and can be painful when the oil spatters out and burns your hand. Multiple times during the painfully slow frying process (I was totally following the “add marinated chicken a few pieces at a time” direction and it took me almost half an hour to fry up my one pound of chicken.) I mumbled in frustration, “This is so lame. I hate this recipe. I would never make this again.” And third, I would totally make this again. Yum! It only took one bite before I was eating my words right along with this delicious chicken.

This recipe was very easy to follow and the finished product was scrumptious. I would definitely make this again. And by “I would make this”, I mean “I would ask Somebody to make this.” Obviously.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

less baking. more baby.

Because I promised Janssen (who I KNOW isn't hitting refresh every ten seconds) and because it has been on my list of things to do for, oh, four months now, I'm going to be putting up some photos and stories of Gulliver. The photos come first. You might have to check back later for stories. And I put them up on the dates when they SHOULD have been originally posted, so you might need to go back three months in the posts to find them. Unless, of course, you are like Janssen and read me in Reader. Lucky people like her live in Boston AND get all the pictures back to back without any work at all.

Also, as I was posting these (because I only picked one picture per week to start with--I'm trying to not overwhelm myself) Somebody told me I had picked ugly pictures. Perhaps we should consider that Gulliver was ugly that week. Or that I only took a couple of pictures of him that week and didn't have much to choose from. In any case you should notice that he is cute now, even if he was "ugly" for a few weeks there. You did notice that, right? That he is turning out to be just the cutest little thing EVER? I'm not biased at all.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

rocking the chinese wife thing

I don’t have a favorite chef. Is that strange? Do most people? So, for this challenge I used Somebody’s favorite Taiwanese chef (Pei Mei, as I mentioned before) and attempted another Chinese dinner. Behold, the Quick Stir-fried Beef with Green Onion.

Let me just begin my saying that you really need super-de-duper, paper-thin sliced beef for this. We did not have paper-thin beef. It was more like cardboard thin. It worked, but I think thinner would have been better. We attempted to get ours paper-thin. Honestly, we did.

Before you begin here, Somebody read through this post and determined that it was kind of boring. Feel free to skip right to the recipe at the end if you find yourself falling asleep.

Scene One: Saturday night at the meat counter in the grocery store.
Me (to the butcher): If we buy a piece of meat here, can you put it in your freezer until it is more solid and then slice it paper-thin for us?
Butcher #1 (played by a teenager): I have no idea. Let me go ask. (He goes into the back and reappears with an older and apparently much wise butcher.)
Butcher #2: What do you want?
Me: If we buy a piece of meat here, can you put it in your freezer until it is more solid and then slice it paper-thin for us?
Butcher #2: Sure. You just purchase it and then bring it back here with the receipt. We’ll put it in the freezer, then slice it for you, then have it ready for you on Monday.
Me: Wonderful. I love you. I will always shop here for, lo, your customer service, it is awesome.

Scene Two: Monday afternoon at the meat counter in the grocery store.
Me (to the butcher): Hi, do you remember me? I left the meat here on Saturday and you were going to slice it paper-thin for me.
Butcher #1 (played by a teenager): Uh…sure. Hold on. (He goes into the back and reappears with our meat, most certainly frozen to a solid block and NOT already sliced. He begins to unwrap the meat to get going on the slicing. Enter Butcher #3.)
Butcher #3: What are you doing?
Butcher #1: Just slicing this up for her.
Butcher #3. You can’t do that. Our meat slicer won’t slice meat that is frozen.
Me: Actually, it has to be mostly frozen in order to get it as thin as we want it.
Butcher #3: We can’t do that here.
Me: On Saturday, someone here told me you could.
Butcher #3: Well, not this frozen. You’ll have to take it home and thaw it out and then bring it back.
Me: Can you just do that here? Keep it in your refrigerator and then when it reaches the correct thaw/frozen ratio just slice it up paper-thin for me?
Butcher #3: No. There’s, uh, some liability or something, blah blah, and we can’t keep your meat in our freezer. What if we lost it?
Butcher #3: So, you just take it home and bring it back later when it is more thawed and we’ll slice it up for you.
Me: I hate you. You think I’m going to come back here with my meat? You, mister, have another think coming.

Scene Three: Tuesday evening at the meat counter in the grocery store.
Somebody (who had been given this chore because I refused to return to the meat counter as my loathing and frustration were still running deep. I had, however, taken the meat out of our freezer at precisely 3pm so that it could reach the perfect thaw/frozen ratio by the time Somebody got home and could go to the grocery store.): Hi, I brought this meat back for you to slice up paper-thin for us.
Butcher #3: What? Why? We can’t do that here. This here meat slicer is only for already cooked meat. We can’t put raw meat on there.
Somebody (eyeing the meat counter with NOT ONE piece of already cooked meat in the display case. All the cooked meat was over on the other side of the store in the deli section. The meat section had ONLY raw meat.): Uh, what? This is the third time we’ve been here.
Butcher #3: (Big sigh.) I GUESS I can use the saw in the back. Hold on. (Goes into the back. Returns a few minutes later with CARDBOARD-THICK slices of meat.) Here you go. Have a great day. Come back and see us again!
Somebody: My wife was right. You guys pretty much suck.

Curtain closes.

Pei Mei’s Chinese Cook Book Volume 2
My notes and observations are in parenthesis. We doubled this recipe because we were feeding more than two people.

Quick Stir-fried Beef with Green Onion
250 g. sliced beef (Do you love having your meat portioned by grams? We do NOT.)
2 cups shredded green onion (Shredded? We just cut it into 2-inch pieces, then sliced then in half length-wise.)
3 Tbsp sliced garlic (We used minced garlic because that was all we had.)
4 Tbsp oil
To marinate beef:
¼ tsp salt
½ Tbsp wine
1 Tbsp oil
1/6 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp cold water
½ Tbsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Prepare the beef marinade in a bowl. Then add the sliced beef (The beef slices should be paper-thin. Good luck with that.) Mix thoroughly with your fingers. Set aside and marinate for at least 10 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a pan. Turn the pan around so that the oil covers the base of the pan.
3. When the oil is smoking hot, put the sliced garlic in. Then add the sliced beef. Stir over high heat for about 10 seconds (10 seconds? Only super paper-thin beef would be cooked in 10 seconds. Just cook it until just barely done.) Splash soy sauce around the sides of the pan. Mix and remove to a bowl. Reserve juice in pan. (We poured out most of the juice because it was WAY too much.) 4. Reheat the juice, then add green onion. Stir fry only for 5 seconds. Turn off the heat. Pour the beef back into the pan. Combine with green onion and add sesame oil. Transfer to a serving plate.

We served this over white rice (of course). This recipe was easy to follow (I felt more confident stir-frying this time) and the meal was delicious. We will make this again. We also had some squid (left over from our calamari adventure last week) that Somebody prepared and served with shrimp in a yummy sauce.
Oh, and because you were all curious, we got our squid at the grocery store at the military post. You could probably find it already cut up, but we were going for squid we could also use in other Chinese recipes. Hence the whole squid. Again, SO not worth making the calamari at home. Make this Beef with Green Onion instead. You won’t be sorry.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Saturday, August 08, 2009

fried is the only way to eat them

Let me just begin by saying that we won’t make this appetizer again. The recipe was easy to follow, and it tasted fine, but it was SO not worth it to make calamari at home.
Somebody and I both enjoy calamari as an appetizer at restaurants and have ordered it many times. Our favorites are California Pizza Kitchen (Well, this is one of my favorite places to have it—mostly due to their dipping sauce. But when I went to look for recipes to make at home I tried to find calamari on their online menu and it wasn’t listed anymore. Anyone know anything about that?) and that one restaurant in Boston that we went to with Melissa and James. That was amazing. And yet it is always one of those things where we would say, “I can’t believe we are paying $7.95 for this. We could totally make this at home.” And so we did.

We started with the breading recipe that The Pioneer Woman uses for her Onion Strings (which, by the way, we have made more than once and are just divine). And then I found a for real calamari recipe that was basically the same but had oregano instead of cayenne pepper. We stuck with the cayenne pepper.

Reason number one why we won’t make this again: You start with this:
Reason number two why we won’t make this again: The breading needed more kick to it. Using just a half teaspoon of cayenne worked with the Onion Strings, but the calamari definitely needed more.
Reason number three why we won’t make this again: In the end, our stovetop looked like this:
That’s enough reasons, right? They were fine. We ate some. And then we threw the rest away. It is absolutely worth paying $7.95 to have someone else prep and clean up after this appetizer.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Saturday, August 01, 2009

back to my, er, his roots

Somebody was VERY excited when he heard that the challenge category for this week was “spicy.” He loves the spicy. I don’t love it the way he does, and, in fact, before we got married considered mild salsa to be spicy. I have come a long way in my spice tolerance in the past three years, but still am no where near his level. Of course we went with Chinese food, because for him there is no better place to have spice than in Chinese food. Lucky for me, we already own three great Chinese cookbooks. Somebody ordered these a little while ago because he knows that the author is a great chef. Apparently she is the Taiwanese equivalent of Julia Child, or Emeril Lagasse, or Bobby Flay. You know—a cooking superstar.

I’m sure you aren’t surprised that Somebody is in charge of all the Chinese cooking that goes on in our house. While I consider myself fairly skilled in the kitchen, the cooking methods used in Chinese cooking are still pretty foreign (ha ha) to me, and I’m not confident following his directions. Especially because so much of his cooking is based on the look of the food, or the smell, or feel, or whatever—it takes some practice and up until now I haven’t had any practice. I think that Somebody had probably given up hope that he would ever come home from work and find I had made a Chinese meal, but after tonight he has started saying things like, “Just a few more of these recipes and you’ll be able to prepare the full three dishes.” And, “You make a wonderful Chinese wife.” Both of those statements made me laugh. The full three dishes? What the? One is not enough? Apparently, no. And, yes, with practice and direction I’m turning out to be a lovely Chinese wife. Whatever. I’m pretty much the opposite of a lovely Chinese wife, but that’s why he loves me so much.

Anyway, on to the recipe. The beauty of Pei Mei’s books is that recipe has a photo so you know what the end result should look like, and, more importantly, each recipe is given in English and traditional Chinese characters. While you don’t need to be able to read any Chinese to follow the recipes, more than once Somebody read through the Chinese recipe to get a better understanding of what the English was trying to say. You should totally hire a translator when you make this. I know a good one. I am going to give it to you exactly as it is written, and then my notes and changes are at the end.

Chicken with Gongbao Sauce (you might know it as Kung Pow Sauce)
2 chicken legs or 300 g. chicken breast
10 pieces dried red chili
½ cup peanuts
1 tsp chopped ginger

Seasonings (1):
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water

Seasonings (2):
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp wine
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil

1. Remove all bones from chicken, cut into 2.5cm cubes, marinate in Seasonings (1) for 30 minutes.
2. Wipe dried chili, cut into 3 cm long pieces.
3. Fry chicken in heated oil for 40-50 seconds. Remove chicken. 4. Heat 1 Tbsp oil to fry dried chilies until it turns dark red, add ginger and chicken, stir fry quickly, add Seasonings (2), stir until evenly mixed, turn off the heat. Add the peanuts, mix well and serve. We served this over white rice, garnished with cilantro, and ate with chopsticks. Please don’t make this unless you have chopsticks. It’s, like, a crime to cook this authentically and then use a fork.
My notes and tips:

  • We used two chicken thighs with the skin and bones removed. This made just enough for the two of us for dinner. Somebody said that we could have doubled the amount of chicken and still used the same amount of sauce, but I kind of liked having a little extra sauce to flavor the rice.
  • I did not wipe off or cut the red chili peppers. I didn’t wipe them because Somebody said I didn’t have to. I have no idea why not. But he’s the expert here so I just went along with it. I didn’t chop them because I didn’t want this to be too spicy to eat. I just chose small peppers. Also, and this I didn’t know beforehand, but when the dish is finished you don’t eat the red chili peppers. You just pick them out, sort of like you would a bay leaf. They are just there to add some flavor to the oil and to give a little heat. All the spice/heat in this dish comes from the red chili peppers. Because I didn’t cut them, and so didn’t release any of the seeds, this ended up being not spicy AT ALL. Not at all. I was shocked. Somebody was completely disappointed with how non spicy it was. It was absolutely delicious, but not spicy. If you want heat, just cut open your chili peppers. Oh, and you can find dried red chili peppers in the fresh fruit/veggie section of most grocery stores—they will be in the little section that has ethnic foods.

  • All cooking (frying and stir frying) is done on high heat.
  • I used ¾ cup oil to fry the chicken because I was using a flat, non-stick pan. If I had been using a wok I would have only needed about 1/3 cup oil.
  • The directions say to fry the chicken for 40-50 seconds. I cooked it a little longer—not more than two minutes—just until the chicken was no longer pink and looked completely cooked.
  • If using a non-stick pan, which we did, you don’t need to add the extra 1 Tbsp of oil to cook the chilies. I just dumped out the oil that had cooked the chicken, didn’t wipe out the pan completely, and just used the light coating that remained in the pan to cook the chilies. If you are going to use a wok, you would need to add in the extra oil.
  • I fried the red chili peppers for about 30 seconds (they didn’t seem to change color, so I just went with when Somebody told me they were done) before adding the ginger and chicken. Also, and consider this your warning, although leaving the peppers whole made it so that EATING this was not spicy, I absolutely felt the heat of the peppers while I was frying them. Seriously. There was much coughing and gagging and not breathing for the 30 seconds the peppers were frying. The fumes killed me. I’m just a ghost writing these great tips for you. The ghost of a good Chinese wife.
  • Just in case you don’t have white wine, or cooking wine, or Chinese rice cooking wine like we have… …you can just use a tablespoon of water. Or just take it out of the recipe. Somebody says that the wine is just there to remove the chicken-y smell from the cooking. What huh? Whatever. So, don’t feel the need to put on sunglasses and a baseball cap and go to the grocery story across town just to purchase the wine for this recipe.
  • Once the Seasonings (2) was added, I cooked it for about one minute before removing it from the heat and serving it. Chinese food is always served hot, hot, hot, so be ready with your rice so that you can eat as soon as this is done.
  • When I make this again we will reduce the amount of soy sauce in Seasonings (2) to 1 ½ Tbsp, and would increase the ginger slightly.

Make this tonight. This recipe is so easy and comes together very quickly. From start to finish I think it only took about 45 minutes, and that included the time it took to de-bone the chicken and marinate it. I am not sure if I would have been as successful making this as it was printed without Somebody watching over my shoulder and giving me tips. Now that I’ve done it once I’m confident that I could do it again without assistance. If you need me to come and watch over your shoulder, just let me know.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

since when was pasta healthy?

For my healthy cooking I chose a recipe from my Cooking Light SuperFast Suppers cookbook that I had been wanting to make for awhile but it had never been at the very top of our list of meals to try. It had, in fact, been on the meal list the last two weeks, but was bumped both times for leftovers or eating out. This seemed like the perfect week to actually keep it on the meal plan.

The recipe comes from the “have it your way” section of the book. The idea is that you start with a “Basic Pasta" recipe and then customize your own sauce. The Basic Pasta makes enough for five servings and then each sauce recipe makes enough for one serving. You can try different sauces, or each person eating can choose their own sauce. I decided to try the Roasted Red Pepper Pasta (because, hello, roasted red peppers and balsamic vinegar in the same recipe? Sign me up) and the Asian-Style Pasta.
I had high hopes to love this meal, but my overall reaction to both sauces was, “Meh.” It was fine. I wanted to love it and it was just fine. (For some reason that sentence makes me think of “I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.” Go figure.) I enjoyed dipping my breadsticks in the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, if that counts for anything. The Asian-Style Pasta was slightly spicy for my taste, but that could be adjusted by cutting down on the crushed red pepper. Somebody’s response was, “You sure used a lot of dishes to make this.” Which is, I think, code for, “This was SO not worth my having to wash all those dishes.”

The recipe was easy to follow but I don’t think we would make either sauce again. There are too many other delicious pasta sauces out there to waste time and energy (and dirty dishes) on these.

But because I don’t want to leave you without something delicious to eat, here is the recipe for the best breadsticks in the world. I might be slightly biased because this is my mom’s recipe and these are the breadsticks I grew up eating, but I think they are great. My sister does something magic to them when she makes them and they get all toasted buttery on the bottom. I haven’t figured out how she does that…

Bread Sticks

1 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups flour (or more if necessary. *You want to add just enough flour that the dough can be handled without sticking to the counter. After your first 3 cups of flour add just a little at a time until you can poke your finger in the dough (about 1/2") and pull it out without any dough sticking to it.)

  • Place yeast, sugar, and water in your mixing bowl and let set for 5 minutes.
  • Add the flour and salt to your mixing bowl with the yeast mixture and knead for 3 minutes. (Don't use your regular kitchen beaters. Use a mixer that can handle bread dough or mix with a wooden spoon and then move the dough to the counter to knead by hand when it becomes too hard to stir.)
  • Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. (Covered with the lid of your mixer or a hand towel if already on the counter.)
  • Sprinkle out some flour on your counter. Plop the dough down and then flip it over so that both sides have a coating of flour.
  • Roll out the dough to about 1/2" thick and then cut into strips with a pizza cutter.
  • Melt 6 Tbsp. margarine or butter onto a cookie sheet (12" X 17") and place bread sticks in pan. Flip the bread sticks over to coat both sides with margarine.
  • Sprinkle bread sticks with Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and sesame seeds. Another spice I sometimes sprinkle on is Italian Seasoning.
  • Let rise 30 minutes to an hour (covered with a hand towel or plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick spray) until the bread sticks have almost doubled in size.
  • Bake at 375 for 13 to 18 minutes (middle rack in oven) until lightly browned on top.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

kansas city style

Seriously? A Regional Favorite? It’s kind of unfair to ask that of a poor Kansas girl. What do we have here? Wheat? So, I could make bread? Corn? Okay. Oh? The BBQ? That’s right. We’ve got the BBQ. Sadly, I have already perfected the at home BBQ ribs, so I couldn’t use that for this challenge. I opted for a slow-cooker word-of-mouth recipe for country-style pork ribs and then tried a new recipe for baked corn. Yes, I tried two new things. Please send my award as soon as possible.

Slow Cooker County-Style Pork Ribs
Some county-style pork ribs
BBQ sauce
Let me just save you a little trouble and tell you to get this sauce. ‘Tis awesome.

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook. Enjoy.

This was pretty much how I got the recipe, and considering it was a word-of-mouth pass along, I guess I should be happy I remembered that much. I shall fill in the details for you now. I used a 2-quart slow cooker, which was the perfect size for the 2 pounds of county-style ribs we used. I put them in the slow cooker thawed, then added about a cup of BBQ sauce and about ¼ cup of water. I brushed the sauce around to coat the ribs, but I don’t think that is absolutely necessary. The ribs should be cooked on high for four hours. If you haven’t really cooked this kind of meat in a slow cooker before, and are used to cooking things on low, and remember that the person who gave you the recipe said it was done in about four hours, and so you cook your ribs for four hours on low, they will not be done in time for dinner. Well, they’ll be cooked enough to be edible, but they won’t be really fall-off-the bone delicious until bedtime. I’m just saying.

The recipe turned out to be a challenge for me because it lacked information vital to my success (cooking temperature and time) but now that I’m armed with that information I will certainly make this again. It is super simple and delicious.
Baked Corn I wanted to do something with corn because we have lots of fresh corn coming out of the garden and Kansas is kind of a corn state. This time of year the corn fields line every highway and everything looks green and lovely. I love the corn fields. Recipes that use fresh corn? Not so easy to come by. I ended up going with this recipe for Baked Corn because the reviews said things like, “This is requested at every holiday meal.” And, “OMG my family LOVES this.” Rave. Rave. Sadly, we must disagree. It’s kind of like a cornbread with whole corn kernels. And, as the recipes states but I didn’t really notice until it was too late, it makes a 9x13 pan, which is way too much for the two of us. We did eat it for dinner, and then a little more at bedtime when the meat was finally yummy, and then for leftovers the next day, and it did not get any better. It probably would have been better if I had eaten it as if it WERE just cornbread—with butter and honey. We try hard not to waste food around here, but we ended up throwing out about half the pan when we both decided we just couldn’t eat anymore. I totally should have just served fresh corn on the cob. The recipe was easy to follow and the result was edible, but we won’t be making this again.

Just in case you want to try some AWESOME BBQ ribs, here you go:

BBQ Ribs (original recipe yields 4 servings)
2 1/2 pounds country style pork ribs
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup barbeque sauce (but seriously, you'll need more)


  • Place ribs in a large pot with enough water to cover. Season with garlic powder, black pepper and salt.
  • Bring water to a boil, and boil ribs until tender. 45 min-1 hr
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  • Remove ribs from pot, and place them in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  • Pour barbeque sauce over ribs.
  • Cover dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature of pork has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).
  • Add more sauce to the top about 20 minutes before finished cooking.
  • Devour

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

caught being guilty

After spending hours and hours trying to decide what on earth would qualify as a "guilty pleasure" food (to the point where Somebody reminded me that the baking challenge shouldn't take over my life) I finally decided that chocolate ice cream, GOOD chocolate ice cream, would fit the bill for me. It is something that I rarely buy, but love to eat. And when I DO buy it, generally I consume the entire package in one sitting. Was that too much information? My chocolate ice cream of choice is Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, so I went looking for a recipe that duplicated that as much as possible.

Surprisingly, even though Ben and Jerry have a cookbook published with their ice cream recipes, I could not find a copy in any of my local libraries. Libraries? Hello? Surely I'm not the only person who wants to duplicate the yummy ice cream. Dear my Librarian Friends: You should totally get on that.

Without the official recipe to follow, I turned to the Internet world of copy cat recipes. Low and behold, there IS no copy cat recipe for the Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. What the? Shame on you, Internet. I had to settle for the Chocolate Fudge copy cat recipe and then I just added in some of my own brownies. Well, technically they were Betty Crocker's brownies, but whatever.

Ben and Jerry's Fudge Ice Cream
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, or whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt

Directions: (my notes and observations are in italics)
1. Melt chocolate in double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. (I don't have a double boiler. I improvised with a glass bowl over a pot and it worked just fine.) 2. Gradually whisk in milk, stir until smooth. Remove from heat; let cool. (When I added the first little bit of milk the chocolate started seizing up and I completely freaked out and wondered if I had ruined the recipe on Step 2. Luckily, I kept stirring and adding more milk and eventually the whole mess smoothed out and came together. So just keep stirring.)3. Whisk eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. (For all these whisking directions I used a hand mixer. Because I have delicate wrists.)
4. Gradually whisk in sugar, then continue whisking 1 minute longer until completely blended.
5. Add cream, vanilla, and salt; whisk. (Again with the whisking. Aren't you glad you used the hand mixer? I thought so.)
6. Add the chocolate mixture; blend well. (Blend. Whisk. Same thing.)
7. Cover, chill, and freeze according to ice cream maker's directions. (I chilled mine overnight in the refrigerator and put it in the ice cream maker the next morning after I made brownies. Note: brownies for breakfast = yum. Also healthy.)Yield: makes 1 quart.
I reserved some of the ice cream before I added the brownies so that I could review the recipe as it was written. The rest of the ice cream I broke off little bits of the brownie (the gooey middle part, not the top crust or edge part) and dropped it into the ice cream maker. I noticed this made the brownie pieces break up even more, so I also added some larger pieces when I had removed the ice cream from the machine. I just stirred these larger pieces in by hand so there would be obvious brownie. When I make this again, and I WILL make this again, I would do more of the "stir in by hand" pieces because I thought they worked better.

Directly out of the ice cream machine the ice cream was very, very soft. After four hours in the refrigerator it was firmer, but still creamy and easy to scoop. After sitting all day and overnight in the freezer it was much firmer. I liked that it never got so solid that it was difficult to snitch some out with a dinner spoon. There was much snitching.
This recipe was super basic, but the steps are clear and easy to follow. I liked that it didn't require any fancy or expensive ingredients--almost all the ingredients are things I always have in the pantry. Somebody and I LOVED this ice cream. It is not very sweet and very chocolatey. If you eat a cinnamon roll and then eat this ice cream it will taste bitter. Trust me on that one. But in general, assuming you don't regularly eat a cinnamon roll and decadent chocolate ice cream in one night, it is just sweet enough. I think it tastes almost exactly like Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. I might have polished off most of it in one sitting. Maybe. You'll never know.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Saturday, July 04, 2009

whipping it up 2009

I decided to participate in the Whip It Up 2009 challenge, and here it is the first week and I already feel behind. I'm blaming most of this on the fact that I spent the first half of this week in Utah and so only had a few days to come up with a recipe, make it, and then post. Lucky for you I saved all of those tasks until this morning. As the theme for this week is holiday food, and as today is a holiday, I figured that anything I made today would qualify as holiday food. And because I was making dessert for a holiday BBQ this evening, I figured adding one more thing was going to be a breeze. I could not have been more incorrect.

First, the mini pies with star tops that I was planning for dessert tonight didn't turn out at all. It could have been because I ignored the advice to use store-bought pie crust and pie filling (hello! My recipe for both pie crust and cherry filling are awesome, so why would I compromise and use something from the store?) and then didn't have the correct size cookie cutter for the cute star pie top. Tragedy. After the first batch went woefully awry, I knew I had to come up with a back-up dessert. One batch of lemon blueberry cheesecake and one batch of cherry cupcakes later, I was all baked out. Actually, somewhere in the middle of these two things I became baked out. And I still didn't have a new-to-me recipe for the challenge!

It was right about lunch time when I decided that I would have to make something that would qualify for the challenge AND lunch, and the Internet didn't disappoint with Brown Sugar Bacon Waffles from Joy the Baker. Why, hello there, holiday brunch!

And here, friends, is where I become one of those annoying reviewers who are all, "I substituted orange juice for the milk, cinnamon for the nutmeg, and doubled the eggs, and this recipe was horrible!" My whole goal was to avoid using the oven as it was already busy cooking the cheesecake and cupcakes. So I improvised. I pulled out my Makin Bacon and attempted to get the caramelized brown sugar bacon (clearly the star of this recipe and clearly only attained by baking the bacon in the oven) in the microwave. Fail. Does not work. Evidence below.
I went ahead and put that bacon in the waffle batter anyway, because, well, I had to do SOMETHING. And they turned out okay. For some reason my waffles are much thinner than Joy's, and the bacon really has more of a charred flavor than a caramel flavor, but they were good.Seriously, though. Waffles? With brown sugar? And bacon inside? Served with strawberries? These couldn't go too far wrong. The recipe was very easy to follow (and this would have turned out much more scrumptious if I had followed it exactly), it was pretty quick to make this (which is ALWAYS a good thing, especially for a holiday brunch), and the resulting waffles were yummy to eat. I would make this again.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009