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


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

Monday, August 31, 2015


Middlemarch is focused on marriage; the fantasies, the expectations, the disappointments and the trials which come from all of these facets of the institution.  The story has a large cast of characters and their lives eventually meld together in the village of Middlemarch.  George Elliott weaves the story into the political wrangling on the Reform vote of the day (giving more men the right to vote).  For me, this was a distraction, but not so heavy that it spoiled the story. Eliot’s writing is elegant with a wise understanding of human nature.  At times her ideas were complex enough to give me pause in following her meaning, but I enjoy a little deep thinking in a story.  The banker Bulstrode committed an evil in his younger day which becomes exposed in his old age in the winding up chapters, but the details of the sin were not clear.

The BBC has a 7 hour miniseries of the story that I watched years ago but I didn’t remember much about it.  I watched it again after finishing the book and felt enjoyably satisfied with the portrayal of the story and characters.   I was hoping my Bulstrode confusion would be cleared up in the miniseries but it wasn’t laid out any better than the book.  I need to read that chapter again and try to get some understanding of what happened.  This is my 4th George Eliot: Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and Silas Marner.  I have enjoyed them all and look forward to Daniel Doranda. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015


While living in the Canary Islands for over a year (and cooking for 16 to 30 twice a week) I had a quest to find a good homemade brownie, made with cocoa, since they have awesome cocoa but no brownie mixes.  I never quite succeeded but have continued to try a recipe here and there.  I found this on pinterest but don't know where since I jotted it down instead of pinning it.  My dessert folder was getting overburdened with brownies.  These couldn't be easier.  They stir together in 5 minutes.  The oil ended up being the secret, which wasn't surprising since all of the great US box brownies are made with oil.  I used light olive oil to make them healthier.

Mix together in a med. bowl:
1 C. sugar
1/3 C. dark cocoa (I like the extra dark Hersheys cocoa but any will work.  I brought home 35 cans of Spanish Cocoa, which is quite dark)
½ tsp. salt

Beat in:
2 eggs
Scant ½ C. oil (7 T. I like to use light olive oil)
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. flour

½ C. or more chopped nuts
1/2 C. or more any type chocolate chip (milk, white or dark or a mixture)

This needs to bake in an 8 inch greased pan at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  Don’t over bake and let them cool to lukewarm before trying to cut them.

Frost them hot for a melted glaze or cool and frost with a buttercream but they are good as is.  The brownies in the photo are frosted with buttercream and topped generously with chopped toasted almonds.

If you want to double this recipe bake it in a 11x14 inch pan not a 9x13 and bake for about 30 minutes

Friday, July 24, 2015


This is painted from a photo I took while in the Canary Islands on the island of Tenerife. 16x20 Oil on Canvas

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


 This recipe came from here
I changed it to be very Thai inspired adding some Thai basil, lemon grass paste and coconut oil.  Costcos coconut oil has a lovely distinctive coconut flavor that I like. I made it once with tuna and once with canned chicken.  I can see it made as a shrimp salad or a salad without meat.  It is a good salad without the lettuce.  I added some crunchy rice noodles - WOW!  It is healthy crunchy and I know I will make it often for lunch.   This makes about 4 servings.


Chop small:
2 C. cabbage
1 C. broccoli
1 C. course grated carrot
(or use 4 cups of slaw mix)

3-4 T. minced cilantro
1 T. Thai basil or regular basil chopped (optional)
2 chopped green onions (I used some chives from my garden)

Put 2 T. coconut oil in a small frying pan and grate in 1 large clove of garlic and fry just until it starts to brown.  (I don't like raw garlic so I usually do this as it infuses your oil with a toasty garlic flavor)

2 T. rice vinegar
1 T. soy sauce
½ tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. grated ginger (peel and freeze your ginger for future use.  It grates easier)
½ tsp. honey
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp. of lemon grass paste (optional)  If you use reduce the lime to ½
½ tsp. Sriracha (optional) not enough to make it hot but adds a nice color.

When ready to serve add 1/2 C. dry roasted peanuts or you could use cashews and a can of drained tuna or chicken.  Toss with the dressing and enjoy!

 I didn't have slaw mix so made my own.

 If you put the sauce in the refrigerator it will harden with the oil and will need to be nuked for a few seconds before use.  

 As a salad with crunchy rice noodles.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Recently my daughter started a blog for her store tpt home.  One Sunday I cooked a meal and served it in dishes from the store.  The meal consisted of Ricotta Dumplings, which are easy and delicious.  We covered them with a spaghetti sauce from scratch with chicken.  I can see them as meatballs in a minestrone soup or a dozen other soups where they would be tasty.  Here is her blog with my photos on the dumpling process and the recipe for the Spaghetti Sauce with Chicken and lots of nice pictures

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Sometimes I just want a quick snack that is healthy.  This is satisfying.

Combine in a food processor and blend until smoothish:

1 Can of garbanzo beans drained just a little
1 C. of frozen petite peas
2 T. coconut oil
1 T. of lemon grass paste or lemon juice (The paste is found in a tube in the vegetable section and is very tasty.)
1 sprig of basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper and salt to taste
1 T. of grated ginger root
1/2 tsp. curry powder

I like to buy two good size ginger roots and peel off the skin like this.  Then I wrap them separately in foil and put them in the freezer.  They grate much better frozen than fresh and you always have fresh ginger on hand.

When blended chop 1/4 C. dry roasted peanuts and stir in.  Serve with veggies, crackers or pita bread. 

Monday, June 15, 2015


I have had 5 weeks of being out of commission after foot surgery but I could sit at my easel.  It felt good to paint something after 3 years of life distractions.  This is from a photo I took in late November in Zion National Park.  16X20 Oil on Linen board

Friday, May 22, 2015


I attended Woman’s Conference this year at BYU and attended a class where Fiona Givens gave a presentation titled:  “Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief.” From Mark 9:24.   When the class was over I told my friend that I could listen at her feet all day.  I couldn’t wait to get the books written with her husband Terryl Givens:  The Crucible of Doubt and The God Who Weeps.   I had surgery on my foot the first part of May and have been mostly off my feet for the last two weeks but I can say they have been perhaps the most 2 spiritual weeks of my life as I have spent the sweet hours reading these books.  When I finished I had the desire to go to the book store and get a pile of books to pass out to my favorite people.  The beginning pages of The God Who Weeps, has 8 recommendations from mostly non-Mormon scholars.  This is how Robert P. George, Law professor at Princeton describes the book:

Writing from the perspective of Mormon faith, Terryl and Fiona Givens have produced a work of theological reflection that has much to offer not only to Latter-day Saints, but to intellectually and morally serious men and women of every religious persuasion who ponder the mystery of a God who, though profoundly transcendent, reveals Himself to us, offers us His friendship, and even shares our joys and sorrows.  To be sure, readers who are not Latter-day Saints will learn from “The God Who Weeps” a great deal about what Mormons believe (including certain distinctively Mormon doctrines) and why they believe it.  But that is only part of the value of the book.  For even readers who do not share certain fundamental tenants of the LDS faith, but who believe in a personal, omnipotent and omniscient God, will benefit from the Givens’ thoughtful reflection on how such a God enters into the lives of imperfect creatures like ourselves, lighting our paths, lifting us up when we fall, and summoning us to share His divine life.”

Both of these beautifully written books are written with a perspective from prophets, scriptures, classical literature and inspired Christian thinkers.  The ideas melt into your heart with a warmth and tenderness that is hard to describe.  I will never see my deity quite the same after reading “The God Who Weeps.”  These books are not quick reads but take thoughtful attention, sometimes reading passages over several times to meld the meaning to your soul.

My patriarchal blessing tells me something that I have always known, that I have a gift of faith.  But in these words I felt an understanding of those who struggle to believe and a hope that there is a way to function comfortably in doubt.  Not that I don’t have questions, so the encouragements here have buoyed my simple faith also.

I am going to share the last page summation of the Crucible of Doubt.

So, here, in sum, are the principal reasons for “the hope that is in us.”  We agree with Nathaniel Hawthorne, who believed that “our Creator would never have made such lovely days and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal.”  And if we are immortal, no eternal existence makes sense separate and apart from an eternal community of loved ones, presided over by heavenly parents who set their hearts upon us.  We could never love a God “without body, parts, or passions.” Who does not Himself feel love, or grief, or joy, or gladness.  Christianity gave us a God who was willing to die on behalf of His creation; Joseph Smith added to that conception a God who intends our full participation in “the divine nature,” who will bestow upon every single one of His children all that they “are willing to receive.” And who made Himself vulnerable enough to weep at our pain and misery.  That is a God to whom we are powerfully drawn, and whom we gladly worship.

We have seen the power of the gospel to transform human life.  We can affirm, as Gerard Manley Hopkins did, that “Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes, not his, to the Father, through the features of men’s faces.”  In new converts and returned missionaries, who in their testimonies unexpectedly speak “with the tongues of angels,” a simple eloquence not of their own resources.  In the parting words of a beloved friend near death, before whom the veil grows suddenly thin to transparency.  In lives transformed and redirected, then imbued with sudden beauty, to rival anything narrated by and Elizabeth Gaskell or Victor Hugo.

Joseph Smith said, “You say honey is sweet, and so do I.  I can also taste the spirit of eternal life.  I know it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.”  We believe the doctrine of the Restoration to be true for the same reason:  It tastes good. 

I am not ready to lose the spirit of these books so I begin again.

Monday, May 11, 2015


 This will be a favorite forever.  The orange with the strawberries has a nice fresh zing.  This is a low sugar frozen jam but is thick and rich.  I have made strawberry short cake with it several times.  I am going to include the lovely semolina cake which I am using for the base.  I see it as a cake filling or a cheesecake topping, on waffles or with Dutch pancakes and it is all ready in the freezer. 

1.  Zest 1 orange to make 1 T. and squeeze the juice to make ½ C. in a glass bowl.   Add 1 teaspoon of unflavored gelatin and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir well to dissolve the gelatin.

2.  Add ½ to 2/3 Cup of sugar (to taste) to the juice and stir well.

2.  Wash and remove the stems of 1 quart of strawberries slice a bit   and chop coarsely in a food processor to make 2 cups.

3.  Mix the strawberries with the juice mixture and stir in 1 heaping tablespoon of ultra gel.  (Walmart and other markets sell it or Kitchen Kneads in Ogden)  It is the stuff they thicken instant pudding with.  Stir well for one minute to dissolve everything.  Chill and eat or freeze for later use.  A big package of strawberries from Costco makes 4 batches and you can make them all at one time in a large bowl.  It makes 6 pints.

Semolina Cake
Semolina is a wheat product they use to make pasta and is not easy to find.  I buy it at Kitchen Kneads in Ogden.  It has a course texture like cornmeal.  It makes a sturdy, moist  cake and so easy to put together.  This recipe makes one layer but could be easily doubled for 2 or for a 9x13 pan.  This is a perfect cake for shortcake but I see it in a trifle or other times when you need a sturdy cake. 

1. Heat 1 cup of very hot water but not boiling.   If your tap water is quite hot it may be enough.  You don’t want to cook it just soften.   Add ½ cup semolina, stir well and let sit for 10 minutes.

2.  Stir in and beat until smooth:
            1/4 c. melted butter
            1 T. vegetable oil
            ½ C. Greek yogurt (I never use non fat)
            ½ C. sugar
             Scant 1/2 tsp.  salt
            1 egg.
            ¾ C. flour
            1 tsp. baking powder
            Generous 1/4 tsp. baking soda
            1 tsp. vanilla or lemon zest or orange zest

3.  Pour into a well sprayed sprayed 8 in. cake pan or spring form.  Bake at 350 for 20- 25 minutes  

 I made this cake once and forgot the melted butter sitting in the microwave and the cake was still moist and delicious so if you are cutting fats and want to take a risk it won't disappoint. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

TOMATO SOUP - lightened

This is a tomato soup recipe from Pioneer Woman that I make often for my lunch.   I love cream and butter but sometimes a little is even better than a lot.  I halved the butter and cream but the soup was rich and creamy  and I didn't miss the added fat.  The cooking sherry is optional but it really adds sparkle to this soup.  It is sold on the market condiment shelves so I feel fine using it.

1 small onion chopped or 3 T. dry onion flakes
2 T. butter
2 -  14 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
4 cups of water and 1 can of tomato sauce or 1- 46 oz. bottle of tomato juice.
2 T. chicken base without MSG (I like Costcos 'better than bullion') or just add salt to taste. 
1 C. cooking sherry, optional but delicious
¼ C. chopped basil or 2 T. dried or more to taste
2 T. of sugar to taste.  (2 was plenty for me but PW used 6)

3/4-1 C. whipping cream with ½ C. water or milk and 3 T. Flour, mixed
Fresh ground pepper 

Cook the onion in the butter until it starts to barely brown (even the dry flakes).  Add the diced tomatoes and chop with an immersion blender a little.  Add everything else except the cream mixture and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1/3 cup orzo or broken spaghetti if desired and simmer 5 minutes.  Add the Cream and simmer 5 minutes more.  Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese and serve.  Makes 4 generous bowls.