Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eclairs Extraordinaire!!

Tony Tahhan and Meeta K. were in charge of this month's Daring Bakers Challenge. My third challenge, thank you very much.

From the acclaimed pastry chef Pierre Hermé I proudly present my interpretation of Chocolate Éclairs!!
We were allowed to change the fillings as we pleased as long as we incorporated Chocolate! No problems there right?

I decided to make a strawberry filling. I pureed fresh strawberries to create a coulis, or thick sauce. Then I added the strained mixture into some whipped cream until it was the color and flavor I liked.This version also had a really nice almond flavored glaze that I made. The secret is to mix in about 1 tablespoon of very soft butter into the powdered sugar, then add milk to desired consistency, and almond extract. This really imparts a nice flavor.
You can see I also made a lovely chocolate version too. Here below.
Éclairs Elements I learned:
  • French pâte à choux
  • Pastry Cream--a mixture of milk, egg yolks, bittersweet chocolate. This recipe I will make again.
  • Chocolate glaze. I will use this on ice cream. But I think I have a better recipe in my own collection that would have worked better here.
This recipe took me only a couple hours to put together. It was positively a joy to make. I asked myself why I had not attempted to make these before? Compared to last months challenge , the Filbert Gateau; which was extremely difficult, expensive and time consuming, this was a walk in the park, a walk I will take any day of the week!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mo Betta in Moab

Malaina and I made a last minute dash to Moab this week. Here we are on the trail with our Mountain Bikes in tow. I have to say, I am certainly glad I have been moderately active with my elliptical machine or I would have died on that trail! What a fabulous day I had. I live in the BEST state for mountain biking and I could kick myself for not getting on the trail more often. My husband gave me a great bike hitch for my birthday this year and I absolutely think it is the best gift he could have ever given me. Take note of this everyone....
....I am going to do Slick Rock (at least the practice run) next year. I start my training now.

Who needs the Grand Canyon when you can have Canyonlands, Utah!
This is the view from Dead Horse Point State Park

What mother couldn't love this photo? My middle child starts her Junior Year at Brigham Young University on Tuesday. I loved spending these last few days with just her in God's country. This is Delicate Arch, located in Arches National Park. Probably Utah's most famous landmark other than the Great Salt Lake. We were the only Americans up at the arch that day. With our weak dollar, the Europeans were having the run of the place. You can see the clouds from a forest fire in the nearby La Sal Mountains that started just that morning by a lightning strike.

We also made a detour to
Nine Mile Canyon
a 70 mile stinking dirt road detour! *@#$%& But as you can see it made my child happy.
I really think she should change her major to Archaeology. She won't do it because of all the Chemistry she has already taken for her Micro-Biology Major. This is a very famous Petroglyph Site called The Great Hunt.

This is just a cute lizard I caught on digital. Too bad I cut off his tail, so to speak.
I have a great family. My husband didn't blink an eye, when I said my girl and I were going to get away. Thanks Dave for loving us so much, and keeping watch over Tiny. And thanks to Jordan for doing the dishes for Daddy and Tiny, you are the Alpha when I am away.

Thanks for spending some time with me, while I ooh and ahhh over my fantistic trip to one of Planet Earths most wonderful locations. I think I am a good judge of making that statement too having seen a lot of the earth.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Do you ever have one of those days where you don't want to leave the house? You would be perfectly happy to sit on the couch and eat, read or doze the day away? I am sure most of have days like this. But tell me if I need to seek help; sometimes I dread having to leave the house. Like today, I know I have to go get Tiny from tennis and then head up to the mall to look for some outfits. I am not looking forward to it. Seriously though the highlighted phrase I just marked reminds me of one of my favorite movies.

This is one of those movies that is a "Mockumentary". It is about The American Teen Princess beauty pageant being held at the local small town level and the crazy women who are involved. This movie takes place in a small town in Minnesota, so all the actors have learned the local twang. All the contestants and pageant leaders are being filmed documentary style while someone is killing off the contestants one by one.

Kirstie Alley steals the show with her over the top performance as the director/mother to the one of the contestants. She does everything in her power to place the crown on her daughters head, even if it means trampling over anyone to do it.

This is one dvd that I have watch over and over and still giggle with glee at some of the humor that I didn't catch the first time. There are some funny cameo's in the movie too. One is by Adam West, television's first Batman, and he appears as himself as the loser he is in real life. He comes off as this really creepy dirty old man, but in a totally funny way. Will Sasso, from MadTV has a great part as the local town "retard", their word not mine. He is hilarious in this role.
Anyone who has spent time in a small Midwestern town will appreciate this movie, and anyone who wants a good time will like it too. The movie does have its share of foul language, No F words that I recall. No sex.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Edward and Bella

Spoilers in this post!

Okay, several weeks have passed since the release of the book, and I would like to get your responses. Please vote at my new poll, up at the top right of the blog.

I really liked the first 2/3 of the book. This was full of the wonderful romance and sweet fluff of the like, that girls love to read. I loved that Edward and Bella had such a wonderful honeymoon. He couldn't get enough of her, and she was more than happy to oblige. Obviously the sex was great enough to break the furniture! What girl doesn't dream of that happening right? I even loved the part where Bella suspects something is going on in her body that is totally foreign. But a vampire hybrid? Wow! Talk about the pregnancy from hell. I always worried that Bella wanted to jump into her vampire life too soon. I asked myself, what about babies? Every women at one point thinks about motherhood. How could Bella deny this part of herself? Even Christina, who swears she is adopting Japanese babies, has confessed that she wonders what it would be like to carry a baby to term.
So Bella, disregards all reason to save her mortality and chooses to incubate a half vampire baby. She goes through the most miserable pregnancy imaginable. Pain, broken, ribs, stretch marks from hell, bruises a linebacker couldn't imagine, and the unthinkable.....drinking blood to nourish herself and the fetus. During all of this mess, Edward is inconsolable with guilt and grief that his beloved is going to die because of his manly lusts.
I loved the creepy "Alien" like birth scene of Bella and Edward's baby too. I had no idea Stephanie Meyer had such a creepy imagination as to write such a sick, sick scenario. But it kinda makes sense. This baby has to get out to save itself. Her mother cannot carry her any longer and now it is survival of the fittest. Baby wins out, and baby chews it's way out. Okay, baby gets help chewing its way out of Bella by Edward, her father(But I can't think about that too much or I'll throw up a little in my mouth). Bella's spine is broken, she is losing massive amounts of blood, the pain sends her into shock and she is dying. Edward has no choice but to turn her into a vampire. He injects his own venom into her heart and and proceeds to bite her and lick her all over. Yes, all over. He is desperate to save her, and he knows the only way is to make her like him. Bella endures an excruciating 3 days of transformation while her body slowly kills itself off and accepts its new vampire self. Wait is this a Young Adult Book?!?!

I loved that Bella who eventually is a vampire turns into this sexy enchantress, whom Edward can't keep his hands off of. Now they can really proceed to "trip the light fantastic". They are madly, passionately, head over heels obsessed with each other, and then Voila! The baby can communicate with them, she sleeps through the night, she never cry's, she can even probably change her own diapers, if she needs to,(she is half human after all). So now the newlywed vampires can spend the entire night( remember they don't need sleep) sexing each other up in ways I have problems comprehending. I have one question..."Where do I sign up for this gig?"

The last third of the book was excruciating for me to get through. I don't care about all of these characters she introduces in some sort of editorial, get possible sequels, type of frenzy. I could care less about the Volturi, and their power issues, and I was not convinced that they were really going to do vanquish the Cullins or their friends. I don't think Stephanie Meyer is done with this money making vampire train yet, not by a long shot. So gentle readers you can expect to see much more of this series. I am certain! Bella and Edward will show up with child and Jacob in tow as background characters in many of her future books. I suspect there will be prequels as well. I would like to learn more about Alice and Jasper, Rosalee and Emmit, and Carlisle and Esme. Stephanie Meyer left the book wide, wide open for a whole series of the Jacob and Renesmee story line as well.

So, as I close this post of how the Vampire Kingdom Turns, I hope you are intrigued to vote at my post. Let me know if my review of the book has been fair, and really, what did you think of the book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Think I Am Fatter This Year

This one is from last August.

Jordan's childhood friend Trent and Dave, the son he never had.

We were at Jordan's best friend, Ashley's wedding reception. I have to say this was the nicest outdoor reception I have ever been to.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food Storage 101

The LDS Public Affairs has asked members to blog or email etc... about how they utilize their food storage
I quote:

"Church Public Affairs is asking Church members to share their experiences with maintaining and utilizing food storage by posting video, text or other content on personal blogs, video-sharing sites like YouTube, social media sites like Facebook, or other Internet sites. Members can then e-mail a link to their story to"

I had to give a lot of my food storage away when we moved to Malaysia. It was not safe to keep jarred items I had preserved myself, or canned goods for so long in a storage unit (our movers would not take them anyway). I did keep the dry pack large cans though. I have been rotating through as many of those items as I can. I have noticed that some of the dry pack flour is getting a bit stale though. So I have basically started from the beginning getting my food storage back up.

Here are some tips I have used for years, and what has worked for me when storing food (in no particular order).
  • grow a garden
  • you can never preserve enough tomato products
  • watch the food ads and buy in bulk what your family eats, most of my cereals were bought for only 1.oo a box never more than 2.00 a box.
  • rotate though the food you store
  • keep some sort of record of what you have in storage ( I draw diagrams)
  • learn how to do your own canning
  • teach your children to grab the older products for use first
  • you need more than food in your storage, think soap, tampons, antibiotics, water, pet food etc..
  • use your storage like a real grocery store. Don't buy 1.00 tuna when you have some in storage that you only paid .50 cents for last spring when you bought it in bulk
  • get rain checks at the customer service center if your store is out of something you want
  • you may need to shop early in the week, some stores won't do rain checks
  • keep a file of successful recipes for your canning. I have found that not all salsa recipes are worth my time for instance, we do have a favorite. But. I will try a new hot dog relish this year that will utilize all the green tomatoes I know I am going to be stuck with because of our slow Spring thaw.
Our intention when we came home was that our adult children would not be living with us, and we would turn that extra room into a huge pantry for food storage, Now I have to stuff it under the stairs, what a nightmare...but having said that...
Can I just say how fulfilling it is to open up a jar of food that I have grown, and preserved myself?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Here's to Michael Phelps

8 GOLD Medals
in 2008

These are the best Olympics I have ever watched.
(vote on my new poll up at right)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'll Ask The Blogging World

We recently uploaded all of our photographs (thousands) to our external hard drive. But we didn't think before we deleted them from the hard drive of the computer. Now my Photoshop Elements 6 doesn't know what to do. It wants to reconnect every single picture one by one to the external hard drive and it wants to search through every single file on the computer to do it. Aghh! I am distraught. Please someone tell me how to correct this seemingly simple fix!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Beautiful Flowers

I got these Gi-normous orange sunflowers at Smith's yesterday.
Simply stunning.

Black eyed Susan Cookies and Flowers (link to recipe)
Probably my most favorite flower.

One of my all time most loved people in the world was Julia Jacob.
This is her most precious grand-daughter. This 9 month old is the daughter of another of one of my most favorite people.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

My Brain Might Burst

If you can answer these questions, you're smarter than me! (These came to me via email)

Only in America ... do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America ... do people order
Double cheeseburgers, large fries, and
a diet coke.

Only in America ... do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

Only in America ...... do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America ... do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America ... do we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: 'Poli' in Latin meaning 'many' and 'tics' meaning 'bloodsucking creatures'.

Only in America ... do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

EVER WONDER ...........
Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?
Why women can't put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why don't you ever see the headline 'Psychic Wins Lottery'?
Why is 'abbreviated' such a long word?

Why is it that doctors call what they do 'practice'? Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?

Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
Why didn't Noah swat those two

Why do they sterilize the needle for lethal injections?
You know that indestructible black box that is used on airplanes? Why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?

Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?

Why are they called apartments when
they are all stuck together?
If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress?

If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport the terminal?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Activity Day Footsteps to Repentance

Sin is like a cloud over our heads.

To get out from under the cloud of sin we need to repent.
Here are the (foot) steps to Repentance.
  1. Recognize the sin.
  2. Confess our sin to God, and the person we offended.
  3. Make up for my wrong.
  4. Forsake my sin.
  5. Obey and live like Christ.

The clouds of sin are lifted, and our lives are alive with hope.

To help us remember the foot steps to repentance, we made these flip flop sandals.
  1. Cut slits every 1/2 inch in the fabric provided. Tear don't cut the fabric. Tear as many pieces as you think you need.
  2. Tie the fabric on the flip flop using a double knot. 3 or 4 strips of the same color look the best.
  3. Trim the fabric to about 2/3's of an inch and the fabric will stand up and look frilly.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I Feel Like a Pioneer

Okay kids, by now you know all things for me are food related. Will you just look at all I got accomplished today!
Look at what came from my garden today.I bought some incredible peaches at the Farmer's Market at Pioneer Park. I made this dynamite Lavender Peach Jam. (I grew the Lavender, thank you)
I even had the energy to make Tiny and her crew some homemade chips, and guacamole.
Tomorrow I sleep in.

Reminder to vote in the poll. Upper right hand corner of this page.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Asian Way--Shoes Off In The HOUSE

Our friend Tian Ming came to visit for dinner today. He has just started his courses at BYU here in Provo. We know Tian Ming from our days in Penang, Malaysia.
His mother is such a wonderful friend. Here is a picture of all of us in Hong Kong back in 2004One of the greatest things about Asia is the WONDERFUL custom of removing the shoes at the front door of any home!!! Even our Western Friends in Malaysia didn't need to be reminded to remove their shoes. If you need to run out to the car, step onto the back deck, whatever, when you come in the shoes come off. This is something we have done as a family for years, but it is difficult to ask visitors to follow custom.QUESTIONS: ( see the new poll up at the top of the page)
How would you really feel if I asked you to remove your shoes when coming into my house?

Does anybody have a cute idea for a plaque for the front door asking people to take their shoes off?

Brown Legs?

Will you look at the tan this guy has going on?He goes fishing every weekend and sits for hours in a boat, and this is where his shorts stop and his socks end.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Dog Days of August (Go Lady Dogs)

The Lady Dog's Never stop playing softball.
I like this shot of Tiny because you can see where she held back the swing on a high ball. Look at those arms!

This is a good one too. You can see the damage where she was hit by a ball. Way to take one for the team, TINY!
Finally some freakin' tomatoes already. This was my first crop of the year, and I only got a handfull! What the heck? Our spring was too cold.
Will you just look at this amazing Cobb salad??!!??!! This came from Gourmet Magazine;August 2008 page 103. Again, my picture of the salad was better than the magazine. In my head anyway.

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Give Your Bird What She Deserves!

Not many things are tastier than a perfectly BBQ'd bird.

I think mine looks better than the magazine article I took this from.
"Fine Cooking"; September 2008, page38.

Butterfly your chicken easily by cutting out the back bone on both sides of the ribs. My strong husband put pressure on this bird to make her go flat, or you can cut down on the middle cartilage with a sharp chef's knife.

Honey Barbecued Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
1 clove garlic minced
4 pound chicken butterflied. (cut out the backbone, break through the sternum bone)
1 recipe Honey Glaze (next)

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, salt, chili powder, paprika, brown sugar, thyme, black pepper, chipotle powder, and garlic. Rub all over the chicken and between the breast meat and the skin. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours or let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Prepare the Honey Glaze :
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. ketchup
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. Sriracha (Asian chile paste)

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Set aside 1/4 cup of the glaze for drizzling over the cooked chicken. (can make the glaze 3 days ahead)

Prepare a hot grill with heat on one side of the grill only.
I greased the flame side and seared the chicken for about 5-7 minutes. Then I removed the bird to the cooler side of the BBQ, bone side down. Brush the bird with the glaze, and continue to do so every 5 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes or until a quick-read thermometer reads 170°. Place it on a lovely cutting board, decorate the board and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Carve and drizzle with the reserved glaze.