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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

HUGO - Movie Review

Hugo is a feast for the eyes, ears and imagination.  It has an old time feel with warm muted colors, but light with glowing magical images.  You instantly fall in love with the orphan boy Hugo, living in Paris, continuing to wind a city clock after his drunken uncle dies.  The movie takes place on one charming street filled with reoccurring characters you want to follow.  There is mystery in Hugo's life that draws you in, bringing along the other characters as the resolution unfolds.

My 10 year. old grandson thought it was a little boring, but I was glad he was there.  Children need more subtle magic, real people, nostalgia and dreamy longing moods in the movies they watch.  There are too many fireworks in their movie diets.

Don't wast your money on the 3-D.  Our 7 family members went together and we all wished we hadn't indulged in the 3D.  One of our group got dizzy with it and left for awhile.

This is a lovely movie.  3 1/2 *

In Depth Hugo Review

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I have always loved Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, so much that I have read it several times.  So why haven’t I read any of her other novels?  I am not a prolific reader and since I have seen all the stories numerous times in movie production I didn’t think I needed to.  But there are times when you just need a little fix of Austen writing and instead of rereading P&P I decided to delve into Mansfield Park.
Mansfield Park is the story of Fanny Price, the poor niece of the Baronet wife of Sir Thomas Bertram.   Mansfield Park is the home and setting of the family adventures and misadventures.   Fanny is brought to live with the Bertrams when she is 10 years old.  The Bertrams have two sons and two daughters.  The girls and their Aunt Norris never cease to remind Fanny that she is not of their class.  Fanny manages to endure the ongoing  mental abuse and it doesn’t canker her.    Lady Bertram is not well, whether in body or spirit we are not quite sure why.  Fanny forms an alliance with Edward Bertram, the younger son of the Family.  He treats her kindly and with compassion.  The hopeless unrequited love that Fanny has for Edmund dominates the story.  The family dynamics form the contrasts that are usually part of Austin’s stories; the rich and the poor, the nice and the mean, the powerful and the weak, the righteous and the depraved.  Fanny’s sweet nature keeps her balanced.  She is mostly content to be near Edmund and makes herself an asset to the weak and needy Mrs. Bertram.  She blossoms in the eyes of many as her good nature becomes a leveling force. 

There are lots of interesting characters and twists and turns in the story.  Fanny sees it all play out almost from the sidelines.  She forms negative opinions from her perceptions that keep her from accepting a happy situation.   She has strength of character, even as those around her judge her as weak and vulnerable.  I admired her ability to stand firm on her values.  I saw her as a Christian ideal; one who is a friend even to those who abuse her, one who is firm in her convictions even under pressure, one who finds contentment in solitude, one who has a sense of peace in the turmoil of those around her.  

I enjoyed this book as much as P&P.   I definitely plan to read other Austen Novels.

Masterpiece Theatre’s recent production of Mansfield Park (2007) with Billie Piper, was very disappointing.   The one from 1999 with Frances O'Connor may have been in movie theaters.  It is much better but has a very disturbing element that I can’t figure out why they would put in.  The older son spent time in Antigua with his father and in the movie came home with drawings he made of sexual encounters with black women, which Fanny sees (and we do too).  It was not in the book.  Was it all about getting a PG rating?  And there was another little overt sexual encounter that would have made Jane Austen very sad.  Austen could insinuate immorality without it being in your face.   Why can’t we stick with the story?  Mostly this stuff ruined a lovely movie. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I always make a batch of these at Christmas so we have something besides sugar to snack on.

3 cups each of Wheat, Corn, and Rice Chex
1 1/2 cups small pretzels
1 1/2 cups sesame sticks, (you will find these yummy things where they have bulk foods.  Smiths and Walmart carry them)
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese crackers
½ tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, no substitutes
1/4 cup fresh oregano, no substitutes (If you have fresh dry Oregano leaves they work fine use 2 generous T.)
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste ¼ tsp. minimum
1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup butter  (can use all of one if desired.
1 lb. mixed nuts, preferably roasted

In a small chopper or by hand, chop the herbs until fine.  Melt the butter and oil together in a saucepan and add the herbs, garlic and onion powder with 2 tsp. water to soften the dry stuff.  Stir and cook for 1 minute to infuse the fat with the herbs.  Let sit to blend the flavors while you mix together Chex and crackers. Pour the herb mixture over the Chex mixture and toss until well combined.  Split chex mix up between two large cookie sheets and bake at 250 degrees for 40 minutes. Stir chex mix every 10 minutes and rotate on the oven shelves.  Add nuts the last 10 minutes.

Use your leftover Chex for a batch of Muddy Buddies

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


For Years I have made my mother's large batch toffee recipe that would often seize up somewhere in the cooking process.  I think it would suddenly go to sugar.  I made this recipe that I found on Pinterest  and I am beginning to think the smaller batch might be more manageable and more to the size I really want and need, so here is my version. Toffee recipe I found.

Melt 1 Cup butter and add 1 Cup sugar and 3 T. water  in a 2 quart saucepan.   Boil with the lid on for one minute to dissolve the crystals on the side and then wipe down the sides with a wet paper towel.   Cook stirring constantly until it turns the color of a paper sack.  You will need to stir a little harder at the end as it will begin to brown quite quickly.  

Pour into a well buttered cookie sheet or onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Spread out to the desired thickness.  Let it set for about 1 minute and sprinkle on 6 oz.  good Milk Chocolate Chips.  When melted from the toffee heat spread around.  At this point I cut it in two because I have anti nut kids.  It might break up a little but cutting with a utility knife helps.  I like toasted chopped almonds but you can use chopped pecans or walnuts.   When cool turn over and add 6 more ounces of melted chocolate chips.  Use a double boiler with hot not boiling water or a bowl over a bigger bowl of hot water.  Melting in the microwave ruins real chocolate.  Sprinkle with nuts or not on the second side.  

When the chocolate is set up score with a sharp utility knife and break carefully.  The second side tends to lose some of its chocolate because it doesn't adhere as well.  Melt a little chocolate to glue these pieces back on.  


Thursday, December 15, 2011


The Quick Version:
Heat 2 T pumpkin puree and 1 T whipping cream in a mug (Microwave 20 sec.) or if you are making a bunch warm it on the stove in a pan.  Mix together 1/3 C. cocoa mix (I like Stevens Dark Chocolate for this but a milk chocolate would surely be good) and 1 rounded T. Ultra gel for thickening if using. (see below*)  Add: ¼ tsp. Cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg and Allspice for each cup.  Stir everything together in the cup or pan and top with whipped cream or marshmallows in the mug.

I froze 2 T clumps of pumpkin so I can get one or two out when I want to make this and not open a can of pumpkin every time.  (see photo)

If you want to make your own Cocoa Mix here is a recipe:

Mix together in a large bowl:
6 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 ½ C Non Dairy Creamer
1 ½ C Instant nonfat milk
1 1/4 C. Cocoa powder
Scant 3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp Allspice

For every one cup of boiling water add:
2 T. pumpkin puree
1/3 C of the dry cocoa mix
1 T. whipping cream  (optional but it makes it more creamy.  Or you can use 1 T. more of the nondairy creamer if desired.)

I traveled in Europe last year and died for the thick hot chocolate we had everywhere.  I have discovered that a product called * Ultra Gel works good for thickening hot chocolate. I add 1 slightly rounded T. per cup.     I also use Ultra Gel for making frozen jams thicker and to stabilize whipped cream.  It thickens like instant pudding thickeners.  I buy it locally at Kitchen Kneads in Ogden. (If you go there make sure you get the one that can be used in hot or cold liquids)  Here is a place you can order it.

Because I usually only make a cup or two of this hot chocolate and don’t want to open a can of pumpkin every time I froze a cookie sheet filled with 2 T. plops of pumpkin and then put them in a plastic bag to drop in the hot chocolate when I want it.  Heat the pumpkin a little longer in your cup before adding the other ingredients.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

MARY DANCES - A Christmas Memory

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of Mary on that eventful night but this is her playing Mary again, in our kitchen, with some friends (Ian is Joseph with the beard) a couple of years later. 

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)  And I have too.  I can play a sweet little movie in my heart about that Christmas in 1978 when we were a family of Mother, Father, two year old, four year old and seven year old.  But I was harried at the time and it didn’t seem so sweet.  We were going to the Ward Christmas party and I had spent the day making a Mary costume for my four year old daughter Maren.  She and her seven year old brother Beau were going to play the Holy family, acting out their part of the nativity.  It was an honor indeed.  My little Mary was perfect with her dark hair and bright eyes.  My handsome Joseph would stand beside her in the belted bathrobe and head scarf I had scrounged up that day.   Getting us all ready and in the car on time for the dinner didn’t happen and we were late when we arrived at the church.  The ham and funeral potato dinner was already underway, with not enough food left for the latecomers.  They were even setting up more tables for the bulging group.     We managed to scrape up some ham and rolls.  The kids were more interested in finding friends than eating anyway and this isn’t my favorite meal, so all is well at this point.   In the end there was plenty of frosted sugar cookies, what more could you want.

The call came for the Nativity and all the cute little shepherds straggled onto the stage for the performance.  Mary clutched her favorite doll, wrapped in a soft flannel blanket that I had stitched together to match the blue scarf draped across her head.  She and Joseph sat at the front of the stage as the story went on and on and on.  Who wrote this script?  Didn’t they realize that little children would be doing this?  Four year old Mary got tired.  I could see her eyes glaze over and before long she had let go of the baby Jesus and it rolled out of the little blanket and hung on her knees.  I sat in motherly horror, wondering what I would do if the baby fell off her lap and on to the floor.   I was finally able to breath when the story ended, in time to rescue the baby.   But Mary’s best performance was yet to come. 

The nativity children didn’t return to our table.  I wasn’t worried.  We were a new Ward with a huge group of children.  The cultural hall was in barely controlled noisy confusion, with children bouncing here there and everywhere.   I was tired and sat back to enjoy the next part of the program, a holiday variety show.   There were some enjoyable musical numbers but their effect was lost in the hall buzz.  Again I wondered if this wasn’t a little too much.  Then a teenage girl walked to the stage and proceeded to play a classical piece on the piano.  Ho Hum.  But then it got very exciting.  My lovely Mary with her blue head scarf clutched in her little fingers twirled on to the stage, swooping and pirouetting to the music.  We gasped.  What should we do?  She was upstaging the piano solo.  Perhaps we should have let her finish her adlib performance but embarrassment took over and Mike crouched through the crowd and onto the stage to remove the dancer.  She came willingly, thank goodness.  

We lived in that Ward for 29 years and never again did they have a family party (not that anyone remembered the craziness after all those years.)  In the name of Peace on Earth the adults began a tradition of a nice progressive dinner every year after that and the children had their own party sans the entire family. 

As Mary of old pondered her experiences I imagine her feelings changed in perspective as time moved on and so have mine.  I would gladly go back and relive that evening with a new appreciation of what it means to be a harried mother with sweet little, free spirited children.

Monday, December 12, 2011


If you want a fast treat and peanut butter is your thing this is for you.   Get one pound of vanilla  or Almond Bark or vanilla drops.  I don't know if white chocolate chips would work but I suspect they might.  Melt in the microwave in a glass bowl on medium heat stir until smooth.  Add 2/3 C. peanut butter.  I used creamy but crunchy is probably good.  Stir until well blended and pour into a square sided 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper or wax paper.  Tap a little on the counter to even out.  Melt 6 oz. chocolate with 1 tsp. oil (this is a bag of chocolate chips- 1 cup)  use milk or semisweet as desired.  Drizzle across the top in large drizzles and gently swirl with a knife.  Let set up. Cut with an exacto  knife to make squares or break into irregular pieces.  They cut better if they are barely set up.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS from the Anderson Gang

Merry Christmas from Mike, Charmaine, Beau, Michael and Luke

Saturday, December 3, 2011


This Recipe was on the Rollo bag.  I always like those salty pretzels dipped in caramel and chocolate but they always looked too hard to make.  These are very easy and I am looking forward to doing them with my grandson.  I didn't think he would like the pecans so I tried half with M&M peanut. They are good. 

Buy a bag of small waffle pretzels.  They come in square or round.  Lay the amount you want to make on a cookie sheet lined with foil, wax paper or parchment.  Top each with a Rolo.  Put into a 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes, until soft.  Remove from oven and carefully press a pecan or an M&M in the middle.  They are especially good warm.  The salty pretzel with the sweet is yummy.  Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Click on the picture for a full screen view.
(It might take a few clicks)

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Traveling in New England this fall we had so many lovely fish chowders it inspired me to create this when I had a piece of leftover grilled salmon.  It is a nice change from clams. 
2 T Olive oil in a Dutch oven with
½ chopped onion
2 Cloves grated garlic
Stir fry until they start to brown for good flavor

Add 4 Cups water and:
1 tsp Herbs de Provence
1 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp oregano leaves (no powder)
½ C chopped celery, leaves and all
1 large carrot chopped
1 bay leaf if desired
½ tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt

Simmer 10 minutes and add:
4 medium potatoes diced and simmer 20 more minutes
With a potato masher squish up the vegetable until they are small chunks.

Mix together until smooth:
2 C. Milk
1 C. Cream
2/3 C flour

Add to the soup and simmer until thick.  Add 1 ½ -2 C flaked grilled salmon
Correct salt.  Sprinkle with bacon bits if desired.   

Monday, November 21, 2011


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Sunlight creeps into a new day.  I open my eyes and my first thought on November 19 is, “Today is my birthday.  Does anyone know?  Does anyone care?  Well, I do.”   Birthdays are important because they celebrate our life for a day.  Feelings about the day morph as life goes on but at some point, as an adult, we need to make peace with the existence of birthdays and decide how we will live out the remainder of our life of birthdays.  And for me I decided long ago that I would define my own celebration.  I gave myself permission to feel special on that day and that I wanted those in my life to feel important on their birthday, if possible. 

My mother was there on that cold November day when I came.  She alone remembered every detail of my beginnings and they were vivid in her thoughts during each of my birthdays to follow, I know.  I am sure she recalled my rosebud mouth (she said I had one), my wee, pink 5 pounds curled in her arms, smelling of baby lotion sweetness.  There is no earthly joy quite like that day for a new mother.  I believe that is why mothers instigate birthday celebrations forever after.  
When October comes I know I will reminisce the births of my first 3 Children.  My first boy arrived right on time, October 3--a 9 ½ lb. breech, C-section after 22 hours of labor, when I thought I might die—then the wonder of the sweet little boy in my arms.  I never expected to feel this much elation, especially after the difficult delivery.  Three years later on October 6, a little girl was born at 5:52 AM.  I still see 5:52 AM on my clock some mornings and think of that day.  She was a healthy 10 ½ lbs. but there was no labor this time—a scheduled caesarian.  She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen with her big eyes and dark skull cap of hair.  Oh yes, I should celebrate this day.  And then 2 years later, on October 12, another little boy was born with clogged tear ducts and a little indentation in his chest, but it made me want to love him even more.  8 lbs. 12 oz. made him my smallest baby, but now he is the tallest at 6’6”.   And then there was a gift for my mother, a beautiful 10 lb. little boy born on June 19, her birthday.  How delightful of him to come on that day. 

We didn’t have friend birthday parties when I was a child except once for me when I was 10.  I am still amazed my mother did it.  Our house was an unfinished basement embarrassment.  We lived 3 miles out of town.  I didn’t have friends come to play very often.  But my sweet mother waxed the old linoleum, made the beds and tidied up the house.  She baked her famous golden layer birthday cake with mounds of fluffy 7 minute frosting and crowned it with 10 candles for me to blow out, while 7 little girls sang happy birthday to me.  It was a surprise party.  I left the bus and skipped down the lane to my home after school anticipating that there would at least be a family party and always the special cake and a present.  But my heart leapt with joy when I opened the door to the shouts of “Surprise!”  I can still feel every minute of that lovely day.  Thank you mother for that happy memory.  Maybe that is why I agreed to a birthday party every year for each  of my children.  The first week of October was always a mad house of parties and baking, but I did it anyway.  And it was always lots of fun.

When my first little boy, Beau, was a year old we were students at Stanford living in a 4-plex facing another one with a courtyard in the middle.  We invited everyone we knew.  I made papier-mâché puppets of Goldilocks and the 3 bears and put on a puppet show.  We cranked homemade ice cream to eat with the clown cake and had a fish pond for the kids.   When my grandson Michael was two I resurrected the puppets and rewrote the Goldilocks story for him.  For the next 4 birthdays I wrote a new puppet show and collected a rag-tag of assorted puppets for the stories.  And I made whatever cake he wanted—a horse, an elephant, a cheetah and others.  His mom lets me make the cakes.  Last year Luke came for Michael’s 9th birthday and I wrote another show about the two of them.  (All the stories and puppets are saved for retelling.) 

Lots of years I cook and invite friends to my house for my own birthday lunch.  No one is allowed to bring presents.  We just have a nice gab fest.  I love doing it.  I also give lots of birthday lunches for friends or would be friends. 
There have been years, after they left the nest, when some of my children have forgotten my birthday.  I don’t really care about presents but I do want to be remembered with at least a phone call.  I think they would be very hurt if I forgot them.  I usually call them late in the evening.  Sometimes I sing, “happy birthday to me.”  Now they never forget.   Again, I believe we should define how we want our birthday to be and never feel sad or rejected because someone didn’t make us feel happy on our day.  We can make our own happiness.  It helps to communicate what you want. 

Mike loves the birthday cake with the fluffy frosting.  That’s all he cares about.  But he wants fudge filling in the middle.  That is my addition to make it special for him, chocolate lover that he is.   One year Leif’s girlfriend called me from Seattle wanting to know how to make a Snicker Pie so she could make it for his birthday.  He always wanted a Snicker Pie instead of a cake and I am glad I had something that he remembered with longing.  Beau always wants a Fresh Peach Cream Pie.  I feel happy that I had traditions of something from my kitchen, to show my love, and not just a cake from Smiths.  Maren likes the old family birthday cake.  Once I tried to mail her one when she was living in South Carolina.  Something was wrong with the address and by the time it arrived it was not worth eating.  (I did have the frosting separate for her to frost but alas the plan failed, hopefully I got credit for trying.)
The morning after my birthday when the light strikes my eyes I think, “Whew, I am glad my birthday is over and I can go back to feeling normal.”  One day a year is more than enough of that special birthday feeling. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

BOOK REVIEW - ADAM BEDE by George Elliot

ADAM BEDE by George Elliot
I don’t mind reading a book with a slow start like Adam Bede if I am enchanted by the writing, which I was in this book.  The first few pages worried me as they had so much peasant dialect I thought it might take me forever to get through it all.  But it eased off as the story moved along and popped up only occasionally and then I got better at bumping through it.  Recently I received an e-mail with these lines.  It reminded me of some of the paragraphs with dialect that I struggled with at the beginning.
0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.
This book was a delicious read for me, but is not for the quick read, pulp fiction fan.  I enjoyed the plodding character development of the beginning chapters.  Elliot’s descriptions of pastoral life were like viewing a classic painting, so rich and detailed with light and colors.
“ The low westering sun shone right on the shoulders of the old Binton Hills, turning the unconscious sheep into bright spots of light; shone with a glory beyond that of amber or amethyst.  It was enough to make Adam feel that he was in a great temple…”  (P. 485)
Elliot’s Adam Bede is a well-liked man’s man with good looks, wisdom and honor.  He is a carpenter, self-educated and brilliant beyond his peers. He is fondly connected from childhood to Arthur Donithorne, grandson of the old squire, slated to be the next squire when the old man dies.  Arthur prides himself in his generosity and dreams of being a better master to his tenants than his grandfather has been when his time comes. 
Both men (unbeknownst to the other) are besot with Hetty, the beautiful niece of the best tenant farmer, Martin Poysner.  I knew someone like Hetty once, a woman so beautiful that you can’t look away.  I think beauty this stunning is rare.  But Hetty had her character flaws, driven by her vanity, perhaps a common temptation to a woman of her brilliance.
“Adam was looking at Hetty, and saw the frown, and pout, and the dark eyes seeming to grow larger with pettish half-gathered tears.  Quiet Mary Burge, who sat near enough to see her, thought that so sensible a man as Adam must be reflecting on the small value of beauty in a woman whose temper was bad.  Mary was a good girl, not given to indulge in evil feelings, but she said to herself, that, since Hetty had bad temper, it was better Adam should know it.  And it was quite true that if Hetty had been plain, she would have looked very ugly and unamiable at that moment, and no one’s moral judgment upon her would have been in the least beguiled.  But really there was something quite charming in her pettishness:  It looked so much more like innocent distress than ill humor; and the severe Adam felt no movement of disapprobation; he only felt a sort of amused pity, as if he had seen a kitten setting up its back, or a little bird with his feathers ruffled.  He could not gather what was vexing her, but it was impossible to him to feel otherwise than that she was the prettiest thing in the world, and that if he could have his way, nothing should ever vex her any more.” P. 255 
But Arthur is the one who wins Hetty’s favor with a hopeless liaison of different classes, sure to break her heart.  Arthur knows he is doing wrong and plans to break it off after a little indulgent toying.  He is not an evil cad, but a man caught in a weakness of temptation that he cannot break from until he finally decides to leave with his military regiment.  By this time Arthur knows that Adam loves Hetty too and hopes that his going will open a door for their relationship. 
This is the plot set up.  What is to happen to Hetty?  Don’t read too many reviews of this story as there are surprises that you don’t want to have spoiled. 
The story has many poignant spiritual elements, mostly centered about the character Dinah, also a niece of the Poysners.  She is beautiful in her own simple way but as different from Hetty as possible.  Dinah is a Methodist preacher who has dedicated her life to Christ.  As a woman she is an anomaly, but the crowds are drawn to her words and countenance.  Dinah has a spiritual gift for comforting.  As a motivated Christian I was inspired by her character:
“From her girlhood upwards she had had experience among the sick and the mourning, among minds hardened and shriveled through poverty and ignorance, and had gained the subtlest perception of the mode in which they could best be touched and softened in willingness to receive words of spiritual consolation or warning.  As Dinah expressed it, ‘she was never left to herself; but it was always given her when to keep silence and when to speak.”  And do we not all agree to call rapid thought and noble impulse by the name of inspiration? After our subtlest analysis of the mental process, we must still say, as Dinah did, that our highest thoughts and our best deeds are all given to us.”
George Eliot narrates parts of the book as a godlike onlooker helping us understand characters, often with of plea to hold judgment.  I thought her interludes were insightful and even fun.   Her wisdom and understanding of human nature is profound.   There are no evil characters, only interesting, flawed and selfish humans as exists in all of us. There is so much wit and wisdom in this book that I would like to give you a page or two of quotes, but the best would be to read it.   
This is my first George Eliot, but I have already purchased a book of her best novels.  I am looking forward to more of her words. 
Masterpiece Theater has  a production of this that I rented on Net Flix.  It was enjoyable after reading the book.  It might seem shallow before.  They did take some cinematic liberties with the story that I did not like, mostly exposing elements that should have waited for the last. And some that were never exposed in the book of a sexual encounter that didn't need to be played out. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This is my favorite dessert find this year.  I have a box of them in the freezer right now for any unexpected dinner needs or personal cravings.  They will thaw in 5 minutes and are totally satisfying for a little sugar, chocolate fix.  Plus they look like you bought them at an exclusive bakery.

Crush 15 Oreo Cookies and mix with 2 T. melted butter. 
Use a 9 inch square pan or a 7x11 pan. (this size is important)  Line with foil and wrap outside the pan. Spray with Pam
Press the Oreo mixture into the bottom

Beat 2- 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese with
½ C. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ C. sour cream

When nice and smooth gently fold in 10 more Oreo cookies, each broken into 4 or 5 pieces.  Pour onto the crust and spread to the corners.  Bake at 325 for about 30-35 minutes or until the center is set.  (It will start to brown just a little on the top)

When cold pull out of the pan in the foil and cut into squares about 1 inch wide.  Line them up squarely on a cookie sheet and drizzle with the chocolate as described below.

Melt 6-8 oz. each of white and milk or semisweet chocolate (separately) I like the milk for this.  You can use chocolate chips or chopped bulk chocolate. (Guittard for chips)  If you use white chocolate chips they are not really chocolate and don’t melt as well so add 1 tsp oil and stir well after melting. (Bakers sells a White Chocolate cube at the grocer about the right size)  The microwave has a way of ruining chocolate.  I wouldn’t use it for this.  You can melt the chocolate in a double boiler or put the chocolate in a bowl over some very hot water and stir until melted.  Chocolate is sensitive to high heat and will get grainy, so if you do it in the double boiler just get the water hot and remove from the heat.  My favorite way to melt chocolate is in the oven overnight with the oven light on.  It produces enough heat to melt the chocolate.  It doesn’t even need chopped if you have a block.  So I like to make the cheesecake one day, cool overnight, and that night put the chocolate in the oven to melt and drizzle the next morning.

Spoon the chocolate into a small ziplock bag and squeeze it all into a corner, twist the top a little.  Snip a very small corner off the end.  Drizzle stripes of the brown chocolate going one way and then stripes of the white chocolate going the other way.  They end up looking very professional. 

You can freeze these for a month or two if they last that long.  


Wednesday, November 2, 2011


For Cape Cod Slideshow click here


Flying to Boston
Arrive in tandem with the Whitmers
Unexpected good luck
Falmouth condo, roomy, smell of stale smoke
Should have complained
Dinner at Liam Maguires, so-so meal but
Good clam chowder

Sunday church at Cape Cod Branch
Small group with a great spirit
Impressive missionary homecoming
Drive to Wellfleet for Oyster Fest
Arrive for last hour
Steve begins his 6 day oyster gorge
Lovely oyster stew, crab cakes, clam chowder, jolly crowd

Race Point beach for glowing sunset
Charming Province Town
Pilgrims Monument rising in the evening light

On to Barnstable on Monday
Thrilled to see John Lathrops home and Bible
Sandwich gristmill, a taste of New England history
Toad Museum with antique red cars

Lunch outside on the wharf at Hyannis Port
Gallons of clam chowder consumed by us this week
Charming Chatham with lovely galleries and
Bags of stale candy, half price

Tuesday, the ferry to Martha’s Vinyard
I see why so loved by the rich and famous
A bus to Vineyard Haven
Lunch at the classy Atlantic overlooking the port
Lovely view, beautiful food!

Bus to Oak Bluffs to see
The Methodist revival camps with
The giant tabernacle and
A hundredish quaint, colorful little gingerbread houses

Wednesday, pouring rain all day
Drive to Plymouth for the Mayflower
A break in the storm for a walk around the Pilgrim villages
Thanksgiving sandwiches and clam chowder at the village café

A drive in the pouring rain to Jerimoth Rhode Island
So Steve can climb the high point, 812 ft. above sea level
A 500 yard stroll with umbrellas
Beautiful leaves, the best yet
Dinner at the Quaterdeck in Falmouth
More oysters, sword fish and scallops to die for
Perhaps the best food of all

Thursday, Hat shopping in Falmouth
A cute hat for Viki
Back to Sandwich for
Lunch at the Famous Daniel Webster restaurant
Ambiance better than the OK food
Perusing antique stores
Collecting seashells and rocks on the windy beach

Our last full day in Boston
Duck Boat sight seeing
Parts of the Freedom Path walk
The Boston Commons and fruit stands
The Birthplace of Liberty, Faneuil Hall
Lunch at the Hall markets with too many choices

Saturday drive to the Airport
The Whitmers fly off and
We head for the lovely tree of life Boston temple
In time for some sealings
Goodby Cape Cod, love you!

Best friend on this trip?  The GPS

Monday, October 31, 2011


On a beautiful October day we took the ferry from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard.  We hopped a bus to Vineyard Haven and strolled the streets of the quaint harbor village.  We ate lunch at the lovely Atlantic restaurant with a view of the bay.  Then we boarded another bus headed for Edgar Town to see the gingerbread houses.  Three older ladies got on the bus ahead of us.  The bus had seats on the two sides  and places to stand for overflow.  Mike and I sat down beside the three ladies toward the front of the bus.  We were tuned into all the sights as the bus moved along.  We stopped to pick up another passenger.   She was an older black lady walking haltingly with a cane.  As she hobbled onto the bus the woman sitting next to Mike stood up and moved further down to a seat across the aisle.  She said, “This lady needs to have a seat as close to the front as possible.”   The black woman sat down beside Mike and began to shuffle through her purse looking for her bus pass.  Her hands were bandaged with Velcro stays leaving her fingers free.  She was having a difficult time managing the purse with her ailing hands.  The bus driver was huffing with disdain.  I wanted to go slap him.  The woman finally produced the pass and one of the ladies carried it up to the driver to scan.  She brought it back and Mike helped her put it in a pocket and zip her purse back up.  We moved on down the road.  Because I was reading, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” this event stuck to me.  

“This is the way humans should treat each other,”  I said to myself.  It is wonderful that things have changed.   50 years ago, in the Jim Crow south, the woman would not have been allowed to sit by us,  let alone get any consideration for her needs.  I bought the book in the airport as we were flying off to Cape Cod and have enjoyed every page.  It is about the great migration of blacks from the South to the North from 1917 through 1970.  I lived part of this history but mostly in the Utah bubble where we rarely saw a black person.   I really didn’t have an understanding of all that was going on. 

Isabel Wilkerson takes 3 people living in the South during this migration period and writes alternating parts of their stories from their childhood on to old age and death.  Historical events are told as they relate to the lives of these people:  a woman married to a sharecropper in Mississippi, a fruit picker living in Florida and a black man educated to be a Doctor.  All of them eventually migrate north with millions of other black people during this time.  The Doctor went to California, the sharecropper family to Chicago and the fruit picker to New York.  The author wove a fascinating picture of what was going on in all of these areas of the migration through the eyes of people I began to like and understand.   

My favorite books are about real people, their joys and struggles.  This is a powerful book that touched and educated me about a people and a time that I have not thought much about.    4 stars

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I visited Barnstable Massachusetts this month and took pictures of John Lathrop's home and bible.  See them 2 posts below in the book review "Exiled."

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I have been experimenting with Galette's, which are free formed pies.  I love this dough.  It is crisp and buttery when baked.  I discovered Frangipane in a tart recipe.  It is a filling made with ground almonds...a very nice addition to this dessert.  This is a special recipe.  The apple, chocolate combination is very nice.

Galette Dough
1 ½ C flour
1 stick cold butter
¼ C. Sour Cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ C. ice water
Crumble the butter and flour together until blended.  Mix the sour cream lemon juice and ice water together.  Stir into the flour mixture and knead a little until a solid mass.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

Frangipane (A filling made with almonds)
1 C. Roasted Whole Almonds
1/3 C. White Sugar
Put these together in a food processor and chop until fine.
4 T. butter
2 egg yolks (Save at least one of the whites)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Put in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Apple Mixture
3 T. butter
3 crisp apples, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
¼ C. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Place the butter in a non-stick fry pan to melt.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir on high heat to evaporate most of the liquid and cook the apples for about 5 minutes.

Dust your counter with flour and roll out dough to a 12 inch circle.  Place it on a piece of parchment and onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan right away.  (The dough will soften quickly and you won’t be able to move it if you wait too long)  Pinch off pieces of the Frangipane and press onto the top of the dough to make a layer to cover up to 2 inches from the edge.  Top with the apple mixture and 10 Rolo’s cut in two.  Fold the two inches of dough around the edge pleating as needed. Beat the egg white a little with a fork and brush the pastry generously with a pastry brush dipped in the whites.  Sprinkle with raw, coarse grain sugar (the best, but plain white sugar will work)

Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Makes 6- 8 pieces, serve with ice cream…heavenly! 

 With the Frangipane

Folded over ready to bake

Friday, October 7, 2011

BOOK REVIEW - EXILED The Story of John Lathrop by Helene Holt

 John Lathrops Home in Barnstable, Which is now a Library with an addition on the back
A window inside the house where they met for church.

I told my friend Jolene Alphin about a planned trip to Cape Cod.  She said, “Oh, you need go to Barnstable and see John Lathrop’s home and bible.”  I said,  “I know about John Lathrop."  I had listened to Susan Easton Black give a lecture at Education Week and I have never forgotten it.   John Lathrop was the 6th great grandfather of Joseph Smith and a host of other religious and government leaders are related to him.  Lathrop was exiled to America after years of abuse and time in the infamously horrible Clink prison.  He was a beloved leader of a group if separatists who wanted to follow their own religious dictates.  

Because of the Laudian persecution (Laud, the bishop perpetuating the abuse), emigration to America increased.  It has been estimated that between 1629 and 1640, twenty-one thousand people came to New England.” (p. 236)  

“With the…deposing of Laud, and the cessation of persecutions, immigration to America virtually ceased.  English hopes were once more centered on the homeland.  For the next century and a half, immigration was minimal.  The growth of the colonies is attributed almost entirely to the early migrations of 1629-1640.  These were the formidable men and women of conscience, Puritans, who in the words of Samuel E. Morison, ‘hewed liberty, democracy, humanitarianism and universal education out of the black forest of feudal Europe and the American wilderness.”  (p. 237)

Helene Holt fictionalized the life of John Lathrop up until the time he came to America.  She won first prize from the Utah Arts Council with this story written in 1987. It is always true of historical fiction that you have a clearer picture of the events when they are humanized.  There were parts that bothered me.  I didn’t like the romance element between Lathrop’s daughter Jane and a cell mate of Lathrop.  It added some interest but it was done in a Harlequinish way.   There were some other cultural things that I thought could have been better researched.  Some of the personal stories had too much of a modern twist, including some of the family interactions.  I wished that events could have had an indication of whether they were based on fact or fictionalized by the author in the way of end notes.   But on the whole I enjoyed getting a picture in my mind of the terrible persecution and abuse that was going on at this time in the name of Christ.  Some of the dialogue between Lathrop and Bishop Laud when Lathrop was defending his beliefs was excellent.  I saw him as a man, like unto Stephen, who was ready to die rather than recant.  The end of the book has some excellent historical information including an extensive list of church leaders and dignitaries descended from Lathrop.

My good friend Jolene is a ninth great granddaughter and she let me read her book.  Thank you Jolene.

 The actual bible that John repaired.

There is a lovely story in the Appendix about how a hole was burned in John’s bible either in prison or on the ship coming to America.  Lathrop repaired the hole and filled in the missing words by heart. This bible is on display in his home in Barnstable.  I can’t wait to see it. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011


My oldest learned to like mushrooms somewhere after he left my home.  I made this for his birthday dinner hoping he would enjoy them and he did.  Even my picky husband took a helping. This is a very nice side dish and I will make it again.  I have always liked thyme with mushrooms so you could leave it out if you want to keep it plain.  This is simple and the mushrooms shined without too many distractions.  

1 lb. sliced mushrooms tossed with ¼ C white wine or chicken broth
3 cloves coarsely grated  garlic or 3 T. grated onion

5 T olive oil
1 C crushed croutons (I like Costco’s) I chopped them in a food processor.
¾ C coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C. chopped fresh parsley (or 2 T. Dry)
1 T fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
¼ tsp Salt   
1/2 tsp pepper 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 

In a small frying pan put 1 T olive oil and fry the grated garlic or onion until it begins to brown.  Add the 4 T. of remaining oil and toss with the bread crumbs, parsley, Thyme , Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.  Toss the wine or chicken broth with the mushrooms and half of the bread crumb mixture.  Put into a 7x11 or similar size greased casserole (not 9x13) Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes.   This makes 6-7 small helpings


Thursday, September 22, 2011


I stood before the mirror this morning and raised my sagging and wrinkled arms to comb my hair.  I thought my skin looked like a mini version of Rino hide.  I took a close up at the Zoo when we went this week with the little boys. Beau wanted a picture to use in a game he is working on.  When did this happen to me?  Maybe I will have to start wearing long sleeves every day or perhaps I just need to accept the inevitable and know that it will get worse.  Accepting my deteriorating body is tough.  

Change in my life hurts more as I age.  I feel vulnerable.  Fall was in the air when I walked the hills this morning. The cool air felt good but I am not ready to let go of this sweet summer with only one day of 100 degrees.  My secret garden was at its prime 2 weeks ago.  I sat in my swing with my eyes going in circles taking in the flourishing red inpatients and the bright yellow sunflowers whose blooms have cheered me for 2 months.

The music of the waterfall has lulled me in peace as my eyes feast on my little herb garden with the 3 metal chickens.  I collected them because I like hens but not roosters.  We raised chickens at home when I was a child.  I recall the dozens of fuzzy little peeps in the coop under lights in the spring and watching them grow during the summer.  The roosters would peck the hens on the neck and make them bleed.  That’s why I don’t like roosters.  But the main reason I like hens is the scripture; “How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens and ye would not.”  I understand that pain all too well.

Puttering in my secret garden has been like playing house this summer.  I would dabble and dream there every summer morning and take a book in the afternoon to lay on the hammock and read and doze.  Perhaps this is the ideal life that Camelot is made of and of course it can never last but I wanted just a little more.  The Yellow flowers are fading and falling with the leaves on the flagstones as the wind has been blowing the last few days.  The morning air is crisp and I know that this sweet time will end before I am ready.   I recall too often that my mother died when she was 64.  I have a sense of grasping every precious moment. 

My little herb garden grew better than I expected because there isn’t a lot of sun on this spot.  I planted lemon basil by mistake and it has excited me as I have looked for ways to use the bumper crop.  Loaded in a tuna sandwich, chopped in a pasta salad, lemon basil pesto rubbed on a grilled piece of salmon—oh lovely lemon basil how I will miss you. 
Yesterday my neighbors said they are going to put up a fence.  It depressed me all day.  I think they don’t like it because we play badminton when Michael is here.  We hook the net between our houses and one side is wrapped around their rain gutter.  We have only played 3 or 4 times but Michael loves it.  Now there will be nowhere to play.  And then Maren’s dog trots into their yard sometimes when he is here and I have to invade their space to retrieve him.  But I have only had Douggy 2 times this summer.  Do they really need to put up a fence?  I imagine I will get used to this change and it will stop depressing me.  I have learned that time heals all disappointment.  

Two weeks ago in Sunday School the teacher asked for examples of how we treat those who have different religious views from us.  I wanted to tell about Mike and Gary Boning but there wasn’t time.  Joan Boning has been Mike’s secretary for many years.  She is a lovely woman and Mike has become good friends with Joan and her husband Gary over the years.  They are all golfers so they play together often.  Mike needs someone to make the T times and Gary is good at doing this and calling Mike.   Mostly Mike has played with Gary and his Baptist friends.  They have invited him to Baptist golf functions and Mike goes gladly and has bonded with these good people over the years.   Mike knows golf so well that he sometimes gives them personal golf instruction.  We are aware of some rejection the Boning children felt from LDS kids when they were in school.  It is hard to be a nonmember in Utah at times.  But the Bonings love Mike and he has loved them and the fact that he is LDS and they are Baptist has never been an issue.  Recently Gary discovered that he has some LDS relatives that served as a mission president.  Knowing that we are planning a mission Gary had these people contact us to see if we wanted help or advice.  How considerate of him to do this.

Last Saturday morning Mike received a phone call from Joan.  Gary died unexpectedly from an aneurism the night before.  Of course Mike would be one of the first people Joan would call.  This death has been very upsetting to us.  How are you vibrant and alive one week and gone the next?  Life is so very fragile.  Because we are of a similar age our mortality is a little too real right now.  And knowing that losing a beloved mate has to be the most devastating change of all

At Gary’s funeral we learned that he loved the Savior and tried to be a disciple all of his life.  I know there will come a time in Paradise when Gary will be taught the fullness of the gospel and he will say, “I knew a  good, honest, loving Mormon guy, Mike Anderson.  He was an example of the believers.” 

I am blessed that my life is sweet and I cling to its joys but I need to learn that it is best not to cling to anything too much or to be too happy or content because if I do and it all changes I will suffer more than I should.  Can I learn this?  Growing older is making it harder.

The Relaxing Corner