Garden Veggies

Garden Veggies
Made into tile for my stove backsplash

Portland Rose Garden

Portland Rose Garden
Mike and my 2 youngest sons Ian and Leif

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons

Grandson Michael's Birthday 2014 throwing water balloons
With son Beau, Grandson Luke and his mom Jennifer

Maren

Maren
I cut this out of a wedding line. I must take more pictures of her.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

RUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell



Book Review
I am a student of 19th century English literature and frankly don’t understand the rigid unforgiving attitude that is displayed toward the sinner, especially a woman who has been presumed immoral. And if she happened to have a child, in the course of this sin, it will become a “bastard,” outcast to society.  It seems that repentance was not possible.  These people are church going Christians and clergy.  I sometimes wonder if the community attitude was really that severe.  I wonder, did they never read Christ’s story of the woman taken in adultery as they cast their stones?  Did they never preach the Prodigal Son from the pulpit?  Did they not understand Christ’s teachings of “judge not that ye be not judged?  These were my thoughts while Reading Ruth, a beautiful metaphor for how the atonement works in the life of the repentant sinner. 

This is my third Gaskell.  I liked "Mary Barton" a lot and it’s thesis was forgiveness.  “Cousin Phillips” was my least favorite but I enjoyed the first person narrative with it’s sweet descriptions of simple rural life and honorable loving people.  But “Ruth” wrenched my heart and sent me to my favorite religious book “The Infinite Atonement” by Tad Callister.  I remembered reading how in a sense repentance can make us better than we would have been had we never sinned. This was the thesis of "Ruth"

“The law of justice brings about order and stability in the universe.  That is good.  But the law of repentance does much more; it brings about godhood.  Repentance is more than a passive process to “get us even” it is the affirmative process to improve us, refine us, and ultimately perfect us.  It’s purpose goes far beyond the satisfaction of justice.  It opens the door to the cleansing and perfecting power of the Atonement.”  (Callister p. 225)  

”The Savior’s victory can compensate not only for our sins but also for our inadequacies; not only for our deliberate mistakes but also for our sins committed in ignorance, our errors of judgment, and our unavoidable imperfections.  Our ultimate aspiration is more than being forgiven of sin—we seek to become holy, endowed affirmatively with Christlike attributes, at one with him, like him.  Divine grace is the only source that can finally fulfill that aspiration, after all we can do.”  (Bruce Hafen, Broken Heart, p. 20)

For me, this was Ruth’s story of redemption.  She was an orphan of 16 working as a seamstress in a sweatshop environment.  An assignment to repair damaged dresses, at an elegant ball, introduced her to the handsome, 23 year old, Mr.  Bellingham.  He was smitten with her beauty and sought her out, in her realm, on numerous occasions.  He promised to take her back to her country home for a nostalgic visit on her Sunday off.  He didn’t want to be seen with her in a carriage so they walked.  The day was longer than anticipated.  Ruth’s employer happened to see her on the road and fired her on the spot for being in an inappropriate situation with this man.  She was distraught and desperate with no place to turn.  Ultimately the story unfolds to a seduction (which we see nothing of) and abandonment in the hills of a resort in Whales.  She is pregnant and despondently ill.    A deformed minister from a nearby town sends for his spinster sister and they decide to take her home with them, passing her off as a widow.  This is part of the conversation that takes place between Mr. Benson and his sister Faith:

“Faith, you know I rejoice in this child’s advent?
“May God forgive, Thurstan!—if you know what you are saying.  But, surely, it is a temptation, dear Thurstan.”
“I do not think it is a delusion.  The sin appears to me to be quite distinct from it consequences.”
“Sophistry—and a temptation,” said Miss Benson, decidedly.
“No, it is not.” said her brother, with equal decision.  “In the eye of God, she is exactly the same as if the life she has led had left no trace behind.  We knew her errors before, Faith.”
“Yes, but not this disgrace—this badge of her shame!”
“Faith, Faith! let me beg of you not to speak so of the little innocent babe, who may be God’s messenger to lead her back to Him.  Think again of her first words—the burst of nature from her heart!  Did she not turn to God, and enter into a covenant with Him—‘I will be so good?’  Why, it draws her out of herself!  If her life has hitherto been self-seeking, and wickedly thoughtless, here is the very instrument to make her forget herself, and be thoughtful for another.  Teach her (and God will teach her, if man does not come between) to reverence her child; and this reverence will shut out sin,--will be purification.”

And as the story unfolds we see Ruth’s purification as she turns her life to God through all the difficulties that come before her.  We see God give her strength and direction in heart wrenching situations.  We see what good people, like the Bensons, can do for such a lost one as Ruth, even as they are not sure they have done right.  Ruth and her child bring sweetness and love to their unfulfilled lives.

We see others in this story that throw stones at Ruth, but feel no remorse for their indiscretions until they are forced to face them on the home front.  Ruth was ever the willing repentant soul and it shined in her character.

As someone, who believes in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, this gave me a lot to think about in how the process works.  It is a beautiful story of faith.




Sunday, September 21, 2014

SAINT GEORGE HOUSE

Three weeks before leaving on our mission to the Canary Islands we went to St. George to get warm.  It was January and we had been waiting for a visa for 9 months.  We happened to look at this house in Sunbrook on the golf course that was just too good of a deal to pass up.  It was a bank repo with cement work that had sunk in the courtyard and in the garage.  The bank was anxious to sell and we couldn't believe we made an offer that they accepted.  It wouldn't have happened without our contractor brother-in-law who did the repairs while we were gone and Mike's brother who rented it after.

When we returned home the renters left and Mike and I worked crazily for 5 months collecting and painting old furniture.  We painted over 20 pieces including lamps and mirrors.   Our daughter gave us some pieces.  We got others at consignment shops, Deseret Industries, and KSL.com classifieds.  I wanted the place to be happy and colorful and the painted furniture did the trick along with a wonderful rug I got at Pier One Imports.

I planned in the beginning to do chalk paint and did hours of research on Pinterest.  I started out mixing my own DIY formula but found that it didn't stick any better than just plain flat paint and it had issues that I could do a post on.  If we were worried about it sticking we would spray can a light primer base on.  I was going to use wax as a sealer but after reading this I changed my mind.  I crackled the tops of most of the pieces and some of the doors and I did a little stenciling and some glazing on a couple of pieces.  Then we put several coats of water base poly finish.  I started with Minwax and later used Varathane floor finish because it is very durable.

All of the paintings in the house are mine that have been stacking up over the last 10 years.  I also made the curtains and about 20 pillows.  It was all great fun but don't tell my husband that because he did a great deal of the painting and repairing. 

Click on the screen for a full page slide show and read the notes under the pictures about the furniture if desired.







Tuesday, September 2, 2014

PEACH CRUMBLE





Peach season is here and this is really yummy!  I got this from Pinterest.  It needed another cup of peaches so I adjusted it.  The recipe meant it to be refrigerated bars, but that made the crumble a little soggy.  We ate it warm with ice cream and WOW, better than peach pie!

For the Crumble:
3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks cold butter
1 egg

Mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the cold butter until coarse cornmeal texture.  Add 1 beaten egg and mix thoroughly.

Peel and cube 7-8 peaches to make 6 cups.  Toss with ¼ teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, 1 C. sugar and 6 T. flour. 

You will need an 11x14 baking dish.  Spray the bottom and sides well with nonstick spray.  Lightly press in half the crumble.  Pour in the peach mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the crumble and press lightly.  Bake 375 for 35- 45 minutes or until lightly brown.  Cut into squares.  This is best warm with ice cream. 




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

PARMESAN ZUCCHINI BITES



Some of my vegetarian kids are visiting this next week so I am going to cook again.  These interested me on more than on a vegetarian level Zucchini Bites  But I made some changes.  I could see them with Parmesan  and added more crumbs to eliminate the squeezing out the water from the vegetables.  I love them and ate 8 straight out of the oven. Yikes!

Parmesan Zucchini Bites 


1 ½ C. packed grated zucchini (I used half yellow squash)
Generous ½ C. crushed garlic croutons (I used Costco’s Focaccia garlic)
1 beaten egg
½ C. Parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dry (the fresh was great)
¼ tsp. garlic powder (I used a little fried garlic but this will work)
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Mix everything together and let sit for 5 minutes for the croutons to absorb the zucchini liquid.  Drop generous spoons full onto a greased parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 425 for 15-18 minutes until they have crispy brown edges.  Makes 8-12  Depending how big you want them to be.


Friday, March 28, 2014

CARROT CABBAGE SLAW - My new favorite salad





I am back in Utah now but I still have a few recipes that I created in the Canaries.  This salad is our new favorite.  I actually make it for us several times a week.  It is easy to make in any size batch.  If you like crunchy chewing, packed with flavors and texture this will satisfy.  My young adult group and the missionaries both liked this.

To make the dressing drain a can of pineapple chunks (big can for big salad little for little salad)  Sometimes I make up a jar of dressing using some small cans of pineapple juice so it is ready when I need it.

For every 1/2 Cup of juice stir in 1 scant T. cornstarch, 1-2 tsps. sugar and bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk for 1 minute.  Cool.  If you are in a hurry pour into a shallow dish and put in the freezer to cool.  It will be very thick when cool.  If I am serving this to guests I will add equal parts of mayonnaise,  for us I will add less.  You will need to whip this together. 

Grate carrots and chop cabbage to make equal parts.  Add the pineapple chunks, dried cranberries and when ready to serve add some salted cashews and stir in the dressing until nicely moistened...crunch away.

 

Monday, March 10, 2014

AREPAS

The islands have many people from various countries in South America.  Arepas come from Venezuela and Columbia.  Many restaurants, some called Apreparias, sell them here and you can buy them on the street from those little food carts.  Unfortunately, we have never eaten any of the local fair, but I did some research on Pinterest and made a batch.  You can't buy cornmeal here but Arepas are made from a fine, white cornmeal called Pan, which you can get in America but maybe not everywhere.  I don't know yet.  We have a young adult from Venezuela in our group who agreed to make them for our activity and demonstrate the process.
 
Our friend Adriana making Arepas

This is the Pan corn flour and the patties waiting for baking.  I was glad I could watch Adriana make them.  She had a bowl of water that she dipped her fingers in to smooth the tops and edges to make them beautiful.  Mine looked rough but they tasted just as good.  She first made a smooth round ball and then patted it to flatten to a little bigger than 1/2 inch and then smoothed the edges with the water.

 
This is a photo from Pinterest showing them baking on the dry griddle.  Adriana likes to do them in a frying pan with a lid and someone in the class likes to fry them with oil.  The first ones I made I used a little butter and we may have liked them better. 
These are some of the Arepas we made on the day of our activity, about 40.

The sky's the limit for stuffing them (photo from Pinterest).  We used Pulled Chicken some  refried beans, tomatoes, and guacamole.  I have been eating the leftovers heated in the microwave with some cheese and then adding sliced avocado and tomatoes, yumm.  If I could get pepper jack I would use that. When cutting them, after baking, it works best just to slice a pocket for filling.  Pinterest has everything imaginable made with them, including pizza crust that looked kinda good.  This would be an great alternative for the gluten intolerant.

In a medium glass mixing bowl add and microwave until warm:
2 1/2 C. water
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3 T. vegetable oil
Add:
2 C. Pan corn meal
Let sit for 5 minutes or so to let the meal absorb the water, knead a little and then form the patties.  Some recipes call for baking them for 15 minutes after browning on the stove, but if you put the lid on the pan and bake slowly turning often, I don't think it is necessary, but they can be reheated in the oven before serving.  The ideal is a crusty outside with a soft center.  Adriana makes up some dough and keeps it in the refrigerator and bakes them fresh what she wants to eat then, which sounds good to me.  They are very hearty and filling.

*Note:  When I made these for a crowd a couple of times after returning home I discovered that they are easier to serve without splitting.  I keep them warm in the oven after frying and when ready to serve I have my guests put a patty or two on their plate with a pile of pulled chicken on top with a choice of guacamole, sour cream and cilantro on top as desired.  The pulled chicken is a little tomato spicy so no salsa is necessary.  


Monday, March 3, 2014

HOMEMADE FLOUR TORTILLAS

One of our Young Adults wanted to make flour tortillas so I went on a search for a new recipe.  I had posted one on this blog years ago but it had shortening and I don't use it anymore, plus you can't buy it in the Canaries.   I am very pleased with this recipe.  It doesn't take long to whip up a dozen.  It will be hard to buy commercial tortillas again.   We all made 5 batches on our activity night with the group.  Then we ate them with pulled chicken or nutella.  It was a great evening.  The recipe calls for 1 tsp. of baking powder, but I tried them without because usually no one has baking ingredients here.  They were fine without the baking powder but I think they are better with it. I also made them with half whole wheat flour and they were very good.

Add in a medium glass bowl and heat until warm in the microwave:
1 C. water
1 tsp. salt
1/3 C. vegetable oil

Add, stir and knead for 1 minute:
3 C. white flour or half whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Roll into a 12 inch roll.  Cut in half, in half again and then in thirds.

Roll until a good 8 inches or so and bake on both sides in a non stick pan until lightly spotted.  




Thursday, February 20, 2014

THE BARCHESTER CHRONICLES





I am definitely hooked on Anthony Trollop.  I said in other reviews of his books that the only reason he is not as popular as Dickens or Austen is that his novels are too long and most readers don’t want to tackle that much.  For someone who pumped out 47 novels I think he might have wanted to pare them down a little so he could write more.  But I can tell he fell in love with his characters and wanted every inch of them revealed and then he couldn’t bear to give them up.  This was never so evident as it was in The Last Chronicles of Barchester, the winding up of his Barchester series that included The Warden, Barchester Towers, Framley  Parsonage, The Small House at Allington and The Last Chronicle of Barset.  He finished this last book musing about his fictional area of Barset:  But to me Barset has been a real county, and its city a real city, and the spires and towers have been before my eyes, and the voices of the people are known to my ears, and the pavement of the city ways are familiar to my footsteps. That I have been induced to wander among them too long by my love of old friendships, and by the sweetness of old faces, is a fault for which I may perhaps be more readily forgiven….”

Having read each of these novels with joy I understand his feelings.   Each novel stands alone except the last chronicle.  In this book all the characters from the series are brought back, linking their lives more closely.  He introduced a few new people and a small sub plot that detracted, in my opinion…not sure why he did it. 

If you read reviews of Trollop’s books on Goodreads or Amazon you will find that they are adored by many, who admit to reading a good chunk of his 47 books.  I might end up being one of them.  If you love Victorian English literature, he satisfies.  He has a keen understanding of human nature, and I might say women in particular.  None of his villains are all evil.  He always points out their redeeming qualities.  And all of his heroes have some character flaws.  Most of his plots have happyish endings but not all end up as you might want or think they should.   Each book has many subplots going on at the same time with lives intertwining. (His books are perfect "Downtown Abby" miniseries) Trollop likes to tell you who the hero and heroine are so you can pay close attention to their story.  And sometime he can’t resist doing a little story spoiler, before necessary.  

There are some old BBC productions of some of his books, that I have watched, but none of them caught my fancy like the novels.   I would like to see some tried again.