Friday, October 31, 2008

Culinary Cremation

How would you like to carve this pumpkin? It was on display at a wonderful Burlington, VT farm. I don't know if it's the biggest pumpkin in the world, but I do know it's the biggest pumpkin I've ever seen.

We have theater tickets tonight and have invited the friends we go with to come for dinner before we go. We're serving our traditional Halloween dinner. While it's not the best (most gourmet) recipe from my kitchen, you just have to serve this "Culinary Cremation" on October 31st.

Halloween Salisbury Steak

1 round steak, cut into bite-sized narrow strips
2 onions, coarsely cut
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups diced tomatoes (with juice)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
2 cups cooked rice

Dredge meat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic salt, and Lowry's seasoned salt.
Saute onions, celery, and carrots in butter. Remove from fry pan and brown steak in olive oil. Combine all ingredients. Stuff into hollow pumpkin and cover with pumpkin lid. Place in a baking dish wish about an inch of water. Bake 2 hours or until pumpkin is soft and meat mixture is hot.
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Uninvited Education

I don’t suppose there’s even a remote chance that “Stop the Hate” (see comment 3 on yesterday’s blog) will ever look at this blog again, but I wish he would. I’d like to share a few thoughts with him.

I was raised in a family of five girls. My mother’s mantra was “Pretty is as Pretty does.” I grew up believing that what you say and what you do says far more about your character than how you look. I also believe that the opposite is true – “Ugly is as Ugly does.” I don’t know how “Stop the Hate” found my blog, but I suspect that he googles the words Prop 8 and leaves his little message wherever he finds a positive word for the Proposition.

I invite you to examine the words in both our messages. Do you find the word “hate” in my post? Was there anything about what I said that made you feel I was forcing my personal feelings or the Bible or my religion (cult) down anyone’s throat? I was sharing my personal thoughts with my circle of close family and friends in what I felt was a pretty innocuous way. On the other hand, “Stop the Hate” forced his way (uninvited) into my personal space to make sure that I (and those who read my blog) finally understand what hate is. And I think I get it. I thought about removing his comment, but decided to leave it so that those who see it can decide for themselves.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes on Prop 8

I'm sorry to ask you to watch another video again today. As you probably know, many of our loved ones in California have been asked to "step out" in favor of Proposition 8 in an effort to protect traditional marriage. We have children and grandchildren who are involved in this effort, and we know something about the sacrifices they are being asked to make. Our daughter recently overheard our three-year-old granddaughter ask her friend, "Are you Yes or No on Prop 8?" I'm sure she doesn't even know what Prop 8 is, but it is evident that it is very much a part of their everyday lives. The opposition is becoming angry and sometimes ugly. Last Saturday, those in favor of Prop 8 lined the Pacific Coast Highway for many miles to show their support. While it seems very far away, what happens in California will affect all of us. The least we could do is to pray for their success.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Date Night

Our weeks are often filled with church commitments. The only evening that we can consistently count on spending together is Monday. We've worked hard to preserve our commitment to Family Home Evening. We read articles together. One of us shares something we've been studying in our personal scripture time. We talk about my upcoming gospel doctrine lesson. But occasionally, we make it a date night.

Last night we went to see a movie -- probably the best movie we've seen in a long time. I recommend that every married couple go to see Fireproof. It's not likely to draw a big box office and may not be in the theaters very long. But it will bring hope to a struggling marriage and make a good marriage better. Don't miss it!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dick and Jane

The information about the 2009 Quilt Retreat is already on the internet, and I've picked the quilt I want to make. One of our family rules is that you can't come to the retreat unless you have finished all of your projects from the year before. I started my Dick and Jane last summer and ran into a problem. I had too many other things going to deal with the frustration at that time, so I put it away. The quilt top is done now and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. I've just learned about someone in our stake who has a quilting machine. I'm going to look into having it machine quilted. More to come!
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Biking Buddies

We biked this morning at Herrick Lake. We seemed to have the entire forest preserve to ourselves. I wonder how much longer we will have beautiful days for biking.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Gift of Love

Our neighbor brought this tomato to us from her garden. It's one of the last of the season, and I thought it was a truly unusual gift of the heart. Thank you, Daisie!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There goes another tree!

In Vermont you can't even ask for a paper sack without some guy in line behind you muttering, "There goes another tree." Nevertheless, while Randy and I were in St. George this summer we went into Judd's Store -- the very same store where 60 years ago Randy tried to spend the two $20 bills he had taken off his dad's dresser on penny candy. He was having a hay day (Jessica, could you please research that phrase for me and let me know its origin, and the spelling of hay? hey? Perhaps I should have simply said he was having a "wonderful time") treating his little four-year-old friends to whatever their hearts desired until Mr. Judd became suspicious and called his dad to inquire if he had really authorized the purchase of 4,000 pieces of penny candy. Anyway, Randy and I had a "wonderful time" standing in front of the candy counter buying old-fashioned lik-m-aid, wax lips, kits, etc. I couldn't resist these cinnamon toothpicks. In elementary school we would go to the pharmacist and buy a small vial of cinnamon oil. We always carried toothpicks which we dipped in the oil and sucked until our lips and tongues were burning. Our teachers finally outlawed them. I'm kind of a toothpick person, having inherited my dad's teeth which have spaces between them. I carry this little package in my purse and have been grateful for it on more than one occasion!
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Monday, October 20, 2008

It's all over but the last piece of pie

Yesterday was our stake conference. It is the first time since Randy was called as a stake president that we have had a visiting authority. It was our privilege to have Elder Maury Schooff (Ensign, October 2008, p. 29) as a guest in our home. Preparing to receive one of the "Lord's Annointed" is a little intimidating, and while I realize that he was here to assess the state of our Stake and not the state of our home, it's easy to worry about the ring around the ketchup bottle, whether the bathroom tissue is soft enough, moving a bench into his room so he would have a place to sit while putting on his shoes, whether Randy had stepped on the freshly shaken throw rugs in his bathroom, and whether every morsel of food I prepared would be something he liked. He is gone, with nothing to show for our week of preparation but the last piece of pie and the box of Nebraska Meltaways he left for us. We found him to be so kind, so appreciative and as "comfortable" as an old shoe. Oh, and in case you are one of the very few people who still make homemade pies, here is the recipe for the Lemon Cream Pie:

1 baked 9" pie shell
1 c. sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/4 c. butter
1 T grated lemon rind
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
3 egg yolks
1 c. milk
1 c. sour cream
1 c. heavy cream, whipped

Combine sugar, cornstarch, butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and egg yolks in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, adding milk while stirring constantly. Cook until thickened. Cool and fold in sour cream. Pour into baked pie shell. Chill thoroughly. Cover with whipped cream (sweetened with sugar and vanilla) before serving.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Nature's Palette

A week ago I flew to Burlington, Vermont to join my sisters for a little reunion. We try to get together somewhere each year, and since our Cooley relatives settled near Pittsford in the early 1700's, we decided to combine a bit of "leaf-peeping" with family history. I have never seen more beautiful leaves. As our plane lifted off yesterday I pressed my face to the window. As far as the eye could see it was a patchwork of reds, yellows, and oranges interspersed here and there with green pastures and beautiful clear lakes. I simply could not get enough of it! I could retire there in a heartbeat if I could just figure out a way to somehow get Vermont and Utah closer together!
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Monday, October 6, 2008

Chilli for 50

Twice a year we have the opportunity to feed the missionaries between the Sunday General Conference sessions. We changed our menu this time and decided to try a potato bar. Just in case you ever need to make chilli for 50, here's the recipe. It's also great to make this recipe and freeze it in quart-sized freezer bags. It makes a great winter supper with some yummy french bread and a really good homemade cookie.

Freezer Chilli

5 cups dried pinto beans
5 cups dried kidney beans
9 pounds ground beef
1 pound pork sausage
8 cups chopped onion
10 cloves garlic, chopped
12 cans (8 ounces) tomato sauce
10 cans (16 ounce) diced tomatoes (or 5 quarts canned tomatoes)
1 large can V-8 juice
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup chilli powder
1/4 cup cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon pepper
10 jallapeno peppers, chopped fine
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Soak beans overnight and cook until tender. Drain. Brown hamburger and sausage with chopped onions and garlic. Combine with all remaining ingredients. Simmer for about an hour. Ladle into plastic containers or ziplock bags and freeze.

By the way, when cooking in these quantities, it really helps to have a great wooden paddle like this one our dear friend, Mark, made for me. If you don't have one, good luck finding something long enough to stir a pot this size!

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Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm a Grandma Again!

On Monday, our eighth grandson and 15th grandchild was born in Columbus, Ohio. I've been waiting patiently for a picture so I could share the news with the world. Finally! Welcome, Burke William, fourth in a line of really cute boys! For more photos, click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

All Good Things Must End

Seasons come, and seasons go. There are very few flowers still blooming in my garden. This may be one of our last bouquets until Spring.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Apple Pie Anyone?

My grandchildren participated in this service project last night. They made 290 pies in one evening. You can watch the whole process in four minutes. It's worth every minute of it. These pies were sold and delivered and the proceeds will be used to provide Christmas for needy families. I'm so grateful for youth leaders who understand how important it is for young people to experience the joy of service. Hey, any way I could get a couple of those pies delivered here?!