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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

PRETZEL TOFFEE

 I love Cracker Toffee but when we were in the Canaries I started making Pretzel Toffee for the missionaries and young adults.  They loved it.  It has been loved anywhere I have taken it or served it. It is very quick to make when you need a fast treat.  This makes a large batch (it could be easily halved to a smaller cookie sheet or you can use 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar and 5 cups of pretzels).  If any are left I usually keep them in the freezer.

1.  Line a large sided cookie sheet with foil lapping the ends and spray well with Pam.
2.  Measure 6 cups of pretzels and arrange in the bottom of the pan.
3.  In a medium sauce pan melt 1 1/4 Cup real butter
4.  Add 1 1/4 Cup of brown sugar and bring to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
5.  Remove from the heat and add 1 tsp. vanilla.  Stir well.
6.  Pour the cooked syrup carefully over the pretzels covering as even as possible.
7.  Put into a 350 degree oven and bake for 7-8 minutes.  It should be very bubbly on top and not starting to brown.
8 Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a large package of milk chocolate chips or semisweet if you prefer.  If I want them extra good I will put another 1/2 package of chips but 1 will do. 
9.  Let sit until the chips melt and spread around to cover the top.
10.  I like to use some sliced or chopped toasted almonds on half since I have the nuts and no nuts in my family.

11.  When cool cut down the sides with foil and lift out of the pan and remove the foil.  I like to use a knife to cut it up to get more even pieces. 


Pretzels with the cooked syrup
After 7-8 minutes in the oven
With the chocolate and nuts
Cut up

Saturday, December 13, 2014

OUR CHRISTMAS IN THE CANARIES




The palm trees did sway but we weren’t dreaming of a white Christmas, not in our lovely desert island of Tenerife.  We were living in the North part of the island and the winters are jacket cool. There were masses of red poinsettias planted on the edge of the Ramblas, a walkway running through the middle of the main part of Santa Cruz.  Some parts of the island had wild blooming poinsettias growing taller than a man.  No we weren’t missing winter and snow.

Mike bought a potted Poinsettia at the African market that we used as a centerpiece for our Thanksgiving dinner with the missionaries.  It was my only Christmas decoration.  I enjoyed the simplicity of not decorating.  It was interesting to see the way the Christmas spirit manifest itself in our missionary group.  The elders seemed to be more sentimental than the sisters.  They took their precious stipend and bought decorations at the nearby “Chino” store for their apartments.  Some of them actually bought a tree with lights and decorations for it.  The sisters didn’t seem to care.  When two Elders moved to open a new area the President sent 2 new sisters to live in their apartment.  When we helped them move in a month or so after Christmas there was still a little tree on a table with some decorations taped to the wall, but they didn’t last long.

We made paper snowflakes with our young adult group and hung them in the JAS room.   One  activity night the JAS made a nativity with popsicle sticks, a little paint and glitter.  We made these again at our Sunday night Family Home Evening with the Santa Cruz ward.  There is nothing quite as enjoyable as constructing a third grade craft.   Another night we all took the tranvia to downtown Santa Cruz and sang Christmas Carols on the street.   Large glowing musical notes were suspended across the streets with other festive sparkles and lights in the shop windows.  It was a nice evening with some people on the walkway joining us for a song or two. 

I wanted to make a little gift for all the missionaries and decided upon an idea to paint each of them a zentangle rock with baby Jesus on it.  The inscription:  “Jesus, the best gift,” a gift these wonderful missionaries gave every day in their service.   We were looking forward to Christmas morning when all the missionaries from Los Cristianos and Santa Cruz would come to our piso for breakfast.  I would share our gift then.   

Mike and I drove to Orotava one Saturday evening to see the life size representation of life in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth.  I made a you-tube video with the pictures (you can find it there along with other videos of Tenerife and missionaries by searching my name).  It was fun to see this ambitious display, as it filled up the entire city plaza with the culture of the time.   We had dinner on the beach with the British tourists escaping the cold and fog in England.    We also enjoyed walking the streets of La laguna during the season enjoying the lights, shoppers and shop windows.  

On Christmas Eve the sisters and elders from Los Cristianos came to Santa Cruz for a Christmas Eve devotional together.  I made something for dinner but can't remember what.  Perhaps taco soup.  The missionaries asked Mike to give the key note address.  He worked very hard to be able to present it in Spanish without reading it and did a great job.  We sang and had a few testimonies.  That night the 4 sisters had a sleepover at our apartment and the Los Cristianos elders bunked somewhere with the Elders in our area.  It was always a delight for us to have all the sisters sleeping over in our piso, which happened a few times.  They chatted and laughed later than they should have and were a little crazy, especially if Sister Christian was there, but it was all uplifting for a group of homesick young women.    

On Christmas morning the missionaries arrived with Santa and elf hats for some fun photo ops.  I made my crusty bread into a cinnamon version, which I cut into strips to be dipped in thick European hot chocolate.  We also had orange segments and scrambled eggs.   I passed out my little gift, we took pictures (which was always important to them), some stayed to play cards for a while and some left for appointments.  I actually don’t remember what we did the rest of the day but this is for sure: Nothing is more exciting than being with a group of awesome, full of life missionaries.  We loved them dearly and were delighted and honored to spend this time with them and make their Christmas a little homier.   Christmas can be hard for these young people and it means a lot to them to have a sense of family and tradition. 

Because I had forgotten my camera on the night we sang carols in downtown Santa Cruz, Mike and I decided that we would have dinner in the city on New Year’s Eve and take photos of the lights.  We were shocked to find very few people on the streets and all of the restaurants closed.   It turns out that in the Spanish culture this evening is a night to stay home with friends and family, what a difference from America.  We managed to find our neighborhood Chinese restaurant open (the best capitalists in Spain) and had a quiet dinner.

Christmas memories often run together in one continuous whole, but not this one.  It will always stand out as a unique experience, in a wonderful place, with people that we will never forget and always cherish.











Sunday, November 30, 2014

PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE PIE




We love the peanut butter chocolate combination, and this pie is rich and delicious.  You can't eat a large piece but it is satisfying if you are a PB fan.  This is the crust I use for my Chocolate Mousse Pie  (Mike's favorite)  It is more of a thick cookie than a brownie but is easy to make and I like it better than an Oreo crust.  This is the basis of my recipe but I simplified it some, especially the amounts. It makes a nice 10 inch pie.


For the crust:  Melt ½ C. butter add to 1 devils food cake mix and two lightly beaten eggs.  Stir until blended well.  Make a roll and cut in half.  Spray a 10 inch pie pan and press the half into the bottom and squish up the sides.  Even the edges some.  Bake 350 for 10 minutes…no more.  The dough will slump down from the top some but it won’t affect the pie.  Freeze the other half of the dough for another pie or add some chocolate chips and nuts and bake as cookies (great cookies)

Peanut Butter Layer –
Beat Together until smooth
 4 oz. of cream cheese
¾ C. powdered sugar
½ C. peanut butter
1/8 tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla

Beat 1 ½ C. heavy cream until stiff.  Fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture.  Pour into the bottom of the cooled crust.

Chocolate Layer –
Heat 4 T.  half and half and stir in 3 T. sugar until dissolved (reheat if cooled).  Add 1 Cup of semisweet chocolate chips and stir until smooth. Cool to lukewarm.  Fold in ¼ C. of the whipped cream until blended then fold in the remaining cream with ½ tsp. vanilla.  Pour over the peanut butter layer.  Chill until firm.

For the Glaze:  Bring 1/3 cup heavy cream to boil add ½ C.  chocolate chips.  (semisweet or milk) add ¼ tsp. vanilla and stir until smooth.  Cool in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and pour over the pie and chill until solid. 


Thursday, November 6, 2014

NORTH AND SOUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell - Book Review



I have to admit that I am somewhat of an addictive reader when it comes to an author that I am enjoying.  I want to move on to something else they have written.  In taking a break from Anthony Trollope, I have moved on to Elizabeth Gaskell.  She was not as prolific as Trollope so I only have one more of her major works to read, Wives and Daughters, except I haven’t read the Cranford series.  I feel totally satisfied with the PBS movie, that I own, and am not sure I will read it, at least not now.

Years ago I watched the PBS miniseries North and South but when I started to read the book I didn’t remember much about it.  The book was very satisfying and I couldn’t wait to watch the movie again.  With the richness of the story in my mind I relished the miniseries, with characters I recognized from other PBS productions.  But their characters held their own in North and South in a beautiful way.  The production was every bit as enjoyable as the book after reading it, even though it takes some diversions from the book, but not in a detracting way.   Mr. Thornton and Margret’s relationship gave me thoughts of Darcy and Elizabeth in the AMC production.  But this is my book review.

Gaskell’s characters are set in the cotton weaving town of Milton, in Northern England.  The city is smoke filled with industry.  The weavers are poor and struggling union members, resorting to strikes as their only power for bettering their position.  Mr. Thornton is the master of one of the prominent mills.  

Margaret, her father and mother have moved to Milton after her father left the church and consequently his position as a parish rector in a lovely village in the south of England.  Milton is a strong contrast to the sweetness of their village life and setting.  Mr. Hale becomes a teacher and private tutor in Milton.  Mr. Thornton is his beloved student and so the families are brought together.


Margaret’s character is strong and filled with the problems of “first impressions” which besot Darcy and Elizabeth.  Sparks of disagreement, between she and Thornton, fly from the beginning.  We love Margaret’s character because she doesn’t stay at home and mourn her new life in a difficult place, but makes friends among the poor and reaches out to help them.
North and South is a favorite among Gaskell’s readers and I have to agree.  If there is anything that mars the story it is that it ended too abruptly.  But that is a common complaint.  The movie does a little better job of winding things up.  I watched the end several times to fill my longing for more.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

FRESH PEACH BREAD PUDDING

I love bread pudding and this is a special one.  I found it on Pinterest and it came from Sunset Magazine.  I have made it 3 times.  About the only thing that survived the Sunset recipe was cooking the peaches to make the sauce...a great idea. 



Fresh Peach Bread Pudding
4 Cups peaches cut into bite size pieces
¼ Cup butter
½ Cup white sugar
Melt the butter in a frying pan (don’t brown) and add the sugar and peaches and simmer stirring for 2 minutes.  Pour into a large strainer or colander over a bowl and let drain while you prepare the remaining ingredients.   This takes some of the juice out of the peaches and makes a wonderful sauce for later.

In a 4 cup measuring cup put in cubed French bread and press down when filling. Put into a 9 inch style greased casserole.   When the peaches have drained well toss them with the bread in the baking dish.

Beat together and pour over the bread and peaches.  Press down a little:
2 eggs (I used extra large)
1 Cup Milk (I used about ¼ Cup cream as part)
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
½ Cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

Melt 2 Tablespoons butter and mix with ½ cup of brown sugar and ½ cup of chopped nuts (Walnuts or Pecans are best but optional)   Sprinkle over the pudding and press down a little.

Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Heat up the drained peach sauce and pour over the servings with ice cream.  WOW!




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.