Sunday, January 31, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup


This soup is sort of like eating pumpkin pie...it's yummy (if you like squash...if you don't you probably won't be too excited)

Butternut Squash Soup

2 lb. cubed butternut squash (I bought some at Costco)
2 T butter
2 leeks (or you could just use more onions)
2 brown onions
2-3 cloves minced garlic
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 apple, peeled and cubed (I used a Honey Crisp)
32 oz chicken broth (I used Kitchen Basics from Safeway)
1 C apple juice (I used Barsotti's fresh pressed)
3 cinnamon sticks

I used my big red cast iron pot, but any soup pot will work. Saute the onions and garlic a bit in the butter about 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer about 40 minutes until everything's tender. Remove the cinnamon sticks and puree in blender (I used the Vitamix). Salt and pepper to taste...serve with sour cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.
This was very reminiscent of pumpkin pie...next time I think I'll use curry.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Food Rules


I happened to hear Oprah the other day..and the author was on...he also wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma... (Food Rules is on sale on Amazon for $5)

Some of the rules:
#1 Eat Food (not edible foodlike substances)
#2 Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouln't recognize as food
#13 Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
#24 Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods)is better than eating what stands on two feet (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four feet(cows, pigs and other mammels).
#36 Don't eat breakfast foods that change the color of the milk.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recently Read

January...this past month's reading (and listening)

The Heretic's Daughter (audio)by Kathleen Kent
The author is a descendent of one of the women hanged as a witch in Salem, MA in 1692. She combines the historical records with family stories that have been passed down for a very insightful telling of this strange and fascinating episode of colonial history...if you love historical fiction you'l love this...it is told from the point of view of Martha Carrier's (the supposed witch) 10 year old daughter who was also arrested and held in prison several months.




The Lovely Bones....Alice Sebold
I resisted reading this until recently when Aunt Val said it was good...and it was, despite the subject matter...I haven't seen the movie...usually the movie isn't as good as the book.




Laura Lippmann(audio)...No Good Deeds
Just a mystery...fairly good.


Steve Martini(audio)...Guardian of Lies





David Baldacci(audio)....First Family





Tanya Gibson...How to Buy a Love of Reading
I got this because the title was intriguing ...but I just couldn't get into it! It was really annoying...and I had checked it out of the library (since I'm trying to cut back on excessive book buying) and had to return it.




Lise Eliot...Pink Brain, Blue Brain
Another "brain book" on gender differences...but this one says the initial differences are quite small and may have been exaggerated by recent popular books...always fascinating reading about the brain!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ambrosia

Every winter after Christmas our orange trees ripen up and produce some amazing fruit...so this is a great way to use some oranges...it's great even if you have to buy them....it's also fun to use your handy pineapple corer, slicer(thank you Kristi!)...just "screw" the corer down into the pineapple...



And pull out perfectly cored and sliced pineapple...





Then cut into small chunks and mix with about 4 oranges, peeled and cut up...
(Of course, you can just cut up a pineapple any way you want...)




and about 1 C coconut....Voila! It keeps well refrigerated for several days...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

6 medium brown onions
2 T butter
2 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 C red wine (optional...I usually don't have any)
6-8 C beef broth (I use that beef paste you mix with water)
1/2 t thyme (again,optional)
Swiss cheese, grated
French Bread

Peel and slice the onions; cook with the butter, sugar and salt until slightly browned...either about 1/2 hour on the stove, or this time I left them in my crock pot for a couple of hours since I was going to be gone...add the wine, broth and thyme and simmer for another 1/2 hour (or keep cooking in the crock pot)
To serve, toast the french bread slices...you can leave them whole, but I usually cut them into chunks (like big croutons) to float on top of the bowls of soup. Cover with the grated cheese and broil until melted (or heat each bowl in the microwave about 40 seconds)


This picture is kind of skimpy on the cheese because I forget to take a picture until we had eaten almost all of it!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dave's Favorite Cookies


Pineapple Cookies
(This is a double recipe...it makes a bunch!)

2 C shortening(Crisco)
2 C white sugar
2 C brown sugar
4 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple(including juice)
8 C flour
4 t baking pwder
1 t salt
2 C chopped walnuts

Cream shortening, sugars, eggs, vanilla; add pineapple and dry ingredients, nuts. Drop with "cookie scoop" on pans sprayed with Pam; bake at 350 about 12-15 minutes (we don't like them very brown)...let cool on pans 5 minutes and remove to finish cooling on paper towels. Glaze when cool with 3 C powdered sugar thinned with milk and a little flavoring if desired...orange or pineapple juice or almond flavoring.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dustin!

And our final (I think) January birthday is DUSTIN! Happy birthday, Dustin...thanks for being a great son-in-law, and (along with Kendra) giving us beautiful grandsons, (even a red headed one!) We love your energy and your excitement for life!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beef Bourguinon (sort of )



So I got this great cast iron pot for Christmas and wanted to make Beef Bourguinon (a la Julia &Julia)...but wasn't quite up to the "Real" recipe from Julia Child's book...so this is a simplified version...it's basically Beef Stew...but cooked longer in beef broth and red wine with pearl onions and mushrooms added at the end so they don't get cooked to death.

2-3 lbs boneless chuck roast, cut into large chunks (about 2" cubes)and patted dry with paper towels (or rolled in some flour to coat)
4 T butter
4-6 slices thick bacon, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lg brown onions, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
2 C beef broth (canned or I used "beef base" and water)
2-3 C red wine (traditionally Burgandy; I used Pinot Noir(cheap..about $8) and had to go back to Safeway to buy a corkscrew to get the cork out!)
bouquet garni (parsley, bay leaves, thyme wrapped with thread or tied in cheesecloth bag)
6 oz mushrooms, sliced or whole if they are small
about 20 pearl onions, peeled (I actually used a bag of frozen ones, but fresh are better)
2 T additional butter
salt and pepper

Cook the chopped onions and carrots in the butter about 10 minutes until softened; add the bacon slices and cook a few more minutes; add the beef chunks and cook, turning until all sides are well browned.
Pour broth and wine over the meat and add the bouquet garnie; cover pan with lid and place in 250-300 degree oven (I was going to be gone for several hours so I did it at 250 so I wouldn't end up with the disaster in the J & J movie) I left mine cooking for about 4 hours! At 300 degrees it might be more like 3 hours.
(*I stopped here and finished cooking it the next day)
It should be quite juicy...if you want a thicker gravy, at this point mix 2 T soft butter and 2 T flour into a paste. Add to it 1/4 C liquid from the stew, then stir back into the pot and cook until thickened.
Then saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter and dump on top of the stew before serving. I made the little roasted potatoes separately and served them on the side.

Here's the bouquet garni...some of the bay leaves escaped during cooking and had to be fished out...they're not good to swallow!



This is not a very appealing picture of the result...I'll have to learn to take more artful food photos!
***note...some recipes call for marinating the beef in the broth, wine and herbs for several hours or even for a couple of days(but then you'd have to drain it well and dry off the meat). I didn't and the meat was VERY tender and flavorful...way better than you standard stew...next time though I will "flour" the meat before browning

Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Parker!

January is becoming a big birthday month for our family. Today Parker is 3!
Parker loves popsicles and his yellow swing, and car washes...it's a little hard to understand him but he started reading when he just turned two...he looks like a little angel...but he can hold his own with the Wirig brothers!



The sweetest Parker...with puppykitty.




I have to stock up on popsicles when Parker comes over.



The dinosaur with his suckie!




We love you, Parker!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kendra!

Happy birthday, Kendra...
Beautiful blue eyes...reminds me of Parker, don't you think?


We always thought Kendra and John had similar hairlines and eyebrows...fortunately Kendra got a lot more hair...John's went the other direction....


Sorry...we didn't have "For the Strength of the Youth " pamphlet!


Loved sports!



With cousin Matt...




What a cutie!


My favorite "Kendra Story" is when she had just turned 3, she was "writing" her name with some crayons on some paper...I went over and asked, "Oh, is this the K?" and she turned to me and with great patience said, "Superman does not begin with a K" Oh...she wore this shirt a lot, and a cape! And had her own Star Wars guys and GI Joe guys...



She was brave...one day the Ross's called because they found a dead rat (or maybe it was a pet...I don't remember) and no one would touch it (including the parents) to get rid of it...so Kendra went down with rubber gloves and disposed of it.


Cute freckles!


More sports!



A Christmas elf...in the play Sister Mull (mother of Fablehaven author, Brandon Mull) wrote for our ward Christmas party...she and Summer Mull were/are great friends!


A good softball pitcher...like her dad.


Student body president of Clayton Valley High...gave a great speech at graduation!



We're so grateful she survived this accident!



Kendra and Dustin...a great partnership!


Thanks for the great grandkids!




















Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recently Read


A House United - Teaching Self Government
The Peck's were featured on a BBC series, The World's Strictest Parents...the link above is to her web site where you can watch the youtube videos of the show...really amazing.

Nicholeen Peck is a mother of four. Nicholeen did foster care for very difficult teens. She taught children with ADHD, OCD, kleptomania, compulsive lying, anger control issues, etc. She said, “I taught behaviors, not medication. They would come to us on many medications and usually leave not on any medications. Many children are misdiagnosed. They just need to learn cause and effect better.”

...This book shows parents the communication skills they need to teach children to govern themselves. With the proper family envioronment and understanding of childhood behaviors homes can become happier. Even if families simply implement some of Nicholeen’s tested parenting principles their family life will improve. ...it's kind of a blend of Covey's Seven Habits and Joseph Smith's "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves." It's sort of overwhelming to read...but she makes some really good points.



Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
I resisted reading this for a long time...I tend to not want to read books that all the book clubs are reading...but this really was good, and our book club is reading it this month.





U Is For Undertow
If you've read Sue Grafton's series, starting with A is for Alibi, you'll like this...I've enjoyed the character development throughout the series...



One Thousand White Women
An interesting premise....our book club's selection for next month...




Martyr
A mystery taking place during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I...great period stuff...the "detective" is John Shakespeare...Will's older brother.




The Book of Air and Shadows
Another mystery involving Shakespeare....the search for a supposed missing play by the bard. Lots of ciphers and intrigue.




The Mormon Way of Doing Business
This came out in 2007...I just got it discounted at Seagull Books...it is fascinating!














Catholic Roots Mormon Harvest
Found this at the Sam's Club in Logan...really interesting conversion story of a strong Catholic couple...but most interesting is their comparison of 40 basic beliefs...from the Catholic point of view they were raised with to the Mormon beliefs they converted to.