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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peanut Butter Chocolate Poke Cake

When I finish this mission I may be able to write a cake recipe book.   This cake makes 16 generous peaces, but today I had to squeeze 17 out of it to feed all the Tenerife missionaries + one from Gran Canaria.  They loved it and so did we.  Mike doesn't always like peanut butter things but he did like this.  This was a recipe idea I found on Pinterest but I altered it a lot. 

First  I made The Best Chocolate Cake I baked it in my 12 inch square pan.  Something bigger than 9x13 would be better.  While the cake is baking I made the Peanut Butter Pudding.

Peanut Butter Pudding
1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 C. white sugar
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter

3 T. cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix milk,sugars, peanut butter and cornstarch together in a saucepan and cook stirring until it begins to boil.  Add a little of the hot pudding to the egg yolks and stir, then add to the mixture and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Add the butter and vanilla. 

When the cake is baked poke holes in the top with a wooden spoon about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Pour the pudding over the warm cake and spread over the top.  Bump the pan, a little, so the pudding settles in the holes.  Chill the cake for a few hours or overnight.

Whip 1 pint of cream until stiff with 6 T. powdered sugar.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 Tablespoons of instant vanilla pudding mix.  This will stabilize the cream.  I always keep some vanilla instant pudding on hand for my whipped cream.  It will stay stable for days when added to whipped cream.   Add some grated chocolate to the top or some finely chopped chocolate chips.

Saturday, December 7, 2013



 The Story of a Mormon Girl from East Prussia

Heidi Parker sent me a link to this book recently because we are fellow writers of family stories and this is a beautiful personal memoir about life and family.  I am serving a mission in the Canary Islands right now but, through the glory of the internet, I downloaded the Kindle version.  I can sneak a little time here and there for worthwhile reading. 
One of my favorite books is one reviewed years ago by Heidi,  German Boy  and this was another glimpse into the personal lives of the German people during World War II.   The tragedies of war both physical and emotional play out in both of these stories.  This was especially poignant because Helga told her story as a Mormon girl and I felt her faith, and the way the Lord guided the LDS community in Germany at this time, to help each other.  I had a strong sense of how important that group of saints were to each other and how difficult for those that did not have such a faith based community.  I enjoyed the pieces of Helga’s diary, at the end of the book, where she told of the fasting, praying and singing they did together.  How do you get through these things without the Lord and human support? 

I had so many thoughts about Helga’s life, her mistakes, her divorce, even though she was trying to do the right things, she still made mistakes and her trials continued, even when the “war” ended.  But she never lost her faith and God never stopped helping her, and that is the beautiful thing.  And then she got married again at 91 and felt so joyful still!  For me, who is fast becoming an old lady, I love her aging spunk and ability to tell her story.  We never want to lose that.  The writing is simple and straight forward but I felt her voice, at times I even heard her German accent.   It was a good, uplifting read.  

Helga’s Life before the war: 
"We went to my grandparents’ apartment in between Sunday School and sacrament meeting….It seems like the days or the hours didn’t go by fast.  Somebody was at the piano, and we sang the whole hymnbook, one song after the other.  Do you think we were happy?  We were!  How do I explain that it was heaven on earth."

After losing her grandparents and aunt in a fire bombing:  "It was quite a heartache to lose three at once.  Anyway, we took it.  We had to take it.  There was no other way.  What can you do?  You have to live.  You have to go on.

"We fought for life.  We were heartbroken.  We cried and we were sad, but we didn’t need everybody to come to support us.  Nobody was there.  Nobody had time.  We have gone through certain things, and we have the feeling of it.  We know how it is when the bombs are falling and something is burning and somebody dies."

Saturday, November 30, 2013


My favorite Thanksgiving desert is Carrot Pudding.  I am sure I have made it every Thanksgiving of my married life.  This year, in the Canaries, it seemed more difficult so I decided to make this cake with some carrots and a few changes.  I served it with the Vinegar Dip that I make with the steamed pudding (the sauce is the star of this show).  It was delicious and so moist and fruity. It is much easier than the steamed carrot pudding.  I will definitely make it again

    6 T. melted butter
    2 T. vegetable oil
    1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    3 packed cups peeled, cored and grated apple 
    I used fuji.  It is OK to get some grated apple peel into it.
    1 C. fine grated carrots.
    Beat together the first 4 ingredients and stir in the rest.  Bake 350 for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of pan.
    Vinegar Dip
    2 cups of water
    ½ cup cider vinegar
    1 cup sugar
    3 T. Cornstarch
    1 tsp. Cinnamon
    ¼ tsp. Salt
    2 T. butter

    Bring all ingredients to a boil stirring constantly and you are ready to serve.  I have 2- 12 inch square pans I bake all my cakes in here. (I plan to bring them home.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


 I have never been much of a crock pot aficionado but I have 2 here.  One I bought and one I inherited from the previous missionaries. (Crock pots are a miracle find here.)*  Cooking so many meals every week has made me try some easier ways of fixing meat.  At home I just go to Costo and get a roasted chicken if I want some quick cooked meat but I don’t have that option here. (Although I did find some hot roasted chickens at the African Market, that we discovered this week, and I plan to order some for Thanksgiving.  I have no way to cook a turkey, even if I could find one.  The chickens are 7 euros each, which is about $9.00 US) 

I can get flour tortillas here but corn is a hunt.  I made this Pulled Chicken for tacos for the Elders and it was very easy and delicious. They loved it.   I will do it again.  I also made it with Bar-b-q sauce, (which I found at the British Market) and served it on buns.  It was very good. 

1.  Cut up 4 large chicken breasts in 3-4 pieces, (could use some thighs as part) – put in the crock pot.
2.  Blend one 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes to desired smoothness.  ( Mi Esposo no le gusta ver chunks)
3.  Grate in 2-3 large cloves of garlic. 
4.  Add 2 tsp. ground cumin, 1 T. oregano leaves, 2 T. oil and some salt.
5.  Cook on low for 3-5 hours.  It might vary with your crock pot.  When it started to break up I quit.

6.  Broil 3 large green chiles on both sides until charred. (can use the bar-b-que grill but watch carefully)  Drop into a plastic bag and let sweat for 10 minutes.  Remove from the bag, slit open down the middle and remove the membrane and seeds.  This will control the heat.  Some chilies are quite hot.  The ones here are not hot at all.  Remove the charred peel and chop small.  Add to the chicken.  You could use a small can but they are not as good. 

Shred up the chicken, leaving some larger pieces.  Use for tacos or burritos with all the fixings or with a taco salad. 
*  I have also discovered that I can cook pumpkin easily in the crock pot.  There is no canned pumpkin here but something that looks like pumpkin fresh.  I leave the skin on and cut it up into large chunks that fit in and put the lid on high for 3-4 hours and then scrape off the skin after it is cooked and put in a colander to drain off some water and blend with an immersion blender.  I couldn't live without pumpkin in the fall. Some Pumpkin Recipes

Monday, September 9, 2013


I constantly need a quick treat for something here.  I have pretty much given up baking individual cookies.  I have made these cookie bars several times and tweaked them a little here and there until I think they are just about least for the Canary Islands.
The recipe makes about 3 dozen bars.  They are always a hit.

Remove 2 T. of butter from a cube of butter (6 T.) and melt a little in a glass mixing bowl.

Add and beat with a hand beater:
2 T. Vegetable oil (it makes a moister cookie with the butter).
2 eggs
1/2 C. Brown sugar
1 C. White sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

Stir In and mix well:
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 C. Flour
2 T. Cornstarch

Add and stir:
1 C. Chocolate Chips or chopped chocolate if you are in Europe
1 C. chopped walnuts, if desired

Spread into a sprayed 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 min. A glass pan will bake hotter so turn the oven to 325.  Don't overbake.

Friday, August 30, 2013


My Spanish is indeed in very dangerous territory with me and Anthony Trollope's 57 novels  and my i-pad with free downloads.  We have been in limbo the last 2 weeks with our JAS activities finished in the South and moving to the North so I took a break and read my second Trollop novel.  We are installed in our new Piso and Sunday we will begin our mission on a different scene.  It would have been nice to stay with the familiar but we look forward to the new experiences here. 


This is my second Anthony Trollop (The Warden).  He has written 57 novels, so they could keep me busy for a very long time.  I like his language and writing style and I dearly love old English drama.  I do have one objection to his writing, which I will talk about later.  This one was published in 1858.  After reading several Novels by George Elliot and Vilette by Charlotte Bronte, who were both writing at the same time as Anthony Trollop, I see a common element that must have been popular at the time.  They all narrated parts of their stories as an onlooker that seemed to know all characters and events.  Trollop actually apologizes for his writing at times:

“II quite feel that an apology is due for beginning a novel with two long dull chapters full of description.  I am perfectly aware of the danger of such a course.”

I didn’t mind it in any of their stories.  In some ways it made the story feel more authentic.  Trollop also likes to tell you who the hero and or heroine of the story is at the beginning.  It caused me to watch them closely.

“Doctor Thorne” is about what happens when English aristocracy land owners mismanage their money and get in debt jeopardizing the inheritance of the heir.   The heir is then forced to marry for money, not for love.  This is the thesis of the story.  Then of course the superiority of the “blood” of the aristocracy also comes into play in marriage decisions.  But there is an interesting element to the story as money trumps blood.

What is the inner reality, the spiritualized quintessence of that privilege in the world which men call rank, which forces the thousands and hundreds of thousands to bow down before the few elect?  What gives, or can give it, or should give it?  (No page numbers in the quotes because they were skewed in the i-pad.)

“She said to herself, proudly, that God’s handiwork was the inner man, the inner woman, the naked creature animated by a living soul; that all other adjuncts were but man’s clothing for the creature; all others, whether stitched by tailors or contrived by Kings.  Was it not within her capacity to do so nobly, to love as truly, to worship her God in heaven with as perfect a faith, and her god on earth with as leal  a troth, as though blood had descended to her purely through scores of purely born progenitors?”

“Sell yourself for money!  Why, if I were a man I would not sell one jot of liberty for mountains of gold,  What!  Tie myself in the heyday of my youth to a person I could never love, for a price!  Perjure myself, destroy myself—and not only myself, but her also, in order that I might live idly!  Mr. Gresham!  Can it be that the words of such a woman as your aunt have sunk so deeply in your heart; have blackened you so foully as to make you think of such vile folly as this?  Have your forgotten your soul, your spirit, your man’s energy, the treasure of your heart?  And you, so young! For shame, Mr Gresham! For shame—for shame.”

This is a love story.  The characters are endearing but their stories are told perhaps a little too well.  Trollop is known for his long novels.  I read it on my i-pad and the smallest writing is over 650 pages.  I always pump up the letter size to the largest so I don’t think about how long the book is. Trollop set up the ending of the story too soon for me.  I think it could have been a surprise, closer to the end, and left a little suspense, especially since he took so long to wrap it up.  I liked it.  I would read it again.  It is not for everyone.  I love the detail of his character development. I just don’t think he needs to detail every player quite so thoroughly. His writing is lovely to me.  4 stars.  I am going to read "Castle Richmond" now, which is a story of the potato famine in Ireland.