Friday, March 31, 2017

Who knew last year?

Almost a year ago, I flew to Virginia for a special occasion! Caleb was born on April 1, 2016.
I stayed at their apartment and enjoyed the boys as much as possible.
4 days old
Big changes happened in just days. It was awesome to watch Kelsi get acquainted and know her son.

Jayson was thrilled with his little brother and wanted to play with him. And then life took a wonderful turn and they moved out and came to California!

Then Rachel and the rest of us were able to get really acquainted with this adorable little boy! He really started changing and growing into his own personality and being.

He is deep in all of our hearts.

Who knew that this little blob of humanity would grow so quickly into a powerhouse who can walk and communicate and enjoy life. He has changed, his life has changed and so have we.

Happy Birthday Caleb, now I'm the one in an apartment and you are the one in a house!

Lesson my mother unknowingly taught

When I was a young girl my mother was given a bath set with a very pretty shelf to hold all the containers. I admired it and wanted to try it out. Mom let us know it was strictly hers and was for special occasions. I would notice it occasionally through the months - or maybe years. The contents all became separated and unusable. Why didn't she ever use it?
When I was married with children, I helped her move and came across some embroidered dish towels. When I asked when she had gotten them, she replied, "When I got married."  I had never seen them growing up and now they had little holes from moths. I don't know if she ever used them.
Use it up, wear it out, enjoy all the things that will be gone anyway while they are nice. I can't think of anything I got for my wedding that is still in any pristine state - they are pretty much all gone. Maybe I went too far and should have kept something for special occasions - but that is a lesson my children will take with them.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Zack's Mac

Tonight Jeffrey and I hosted the Stewarts and Burtenshaws for dinner.We had taco/salad/wrap makings and Mac-n-cheese. Elder Burtenshaw said it was the best Mac-n-cheese he'd ever had. He has previously only associated mac-n-cheese with the boxed kind.

I told him how I came to get this particular recipe. After making dinners for the Durst family for awhile, I started wondering if the meals were good or not. I asked some of the kids what they would like. Zack pipes up from across the room, "You can bring us Mac-n-cheese Sister Adams." After that I was on a quest to make the best mac-n-cheese possible. After trying/combining/testing different recipes I've come up with a keeper. The secret is a rich chicken broth and three kinds of cheese. The basic cheese needs to be sharp.
Sister Stewart said I should call it Zack's Mac.

When our company got up to go, I realized I had three or four times the amount of food we needed. I packed some in containers to go because Jeffrey and I would be eating the same things for more than a week if we didn't share. I'm going to have to scale down in my mind amounts I make.

Luckily taco ingredients can be used to make different things.

We have some more friends coming over next Thursday. What should I try next time?

Update: Just in case I'm looking for this recipe again:

Zack’s Mac

Noodles: curly twists, penne, etc. I like smaller rather than larger
Chicken Broth or Broth Cubes and water
Cheeses: 3 kinds - sharp cheese is most important
Spices: Salt, Black Pepper, garlic salt, dash of chili pwd, or chipotle, or cayenne
Optional ingredients: Onion, Ham, sour cream/plain Greek yogurt

Cook noodles according to package directions.
Melt butter or pour oil in deep skillet. Sometimes I like to sauté diced onions in the butter. Make a soft roux with flour and let bubble for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth/cubes and water then whisk until smooth, simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Add desired spices (I usually add black pepper at the very end).
Gradually add grated cheeses while swirling sauce until all is melted through. Add sour cream or Greek yogurt if desired. Simmer until hot. Do not boil! Taste test; make sure sauce is more like lite pancake batter than pudding consistency. Adjust spices and consistency accordingly. Add black pepper.
Put noodles and diced ham in casserole pan, and then pour over cheese sauce. If noodles soak up too much sauce, make a second batch of cheese sauce and pour it over the top.
Bake in med high oven until cheese bubbles.

I personally like to have twice as much sauce as noodles and throwing extra cheese into the mix is routine.
I have never written down amounts as I go along so I’m hoping you already know how to make a roux and can eyeball the sauce versus the noodles.
Cheeses: Sharp cheese – large amount, Swiss cheese - smaller amount, Smoked Gouda – just enough to flavor. I have used Sharp, Colby, and Parmesan; Sharp, Swiss, Mozzarella; and here in the Philippines I use Strong and Bitey with Mozzarella, or whatever sounds good (and is available). One sharp and one melty.
Broth: at home I simmer up several chickens in my big pot with added onions, carrots, celery, salt and a chicken cube. I use the chicken for several different things and save the broth in ziplocks laying flat in the freezer so they will defrost quickly. The Knorr cubes are just fine though I always add an extra one for more richness. I usually break up the cubes in the roux then add water for sauce.
Noodles: I like noodles that catch the sauce and prefer the smaller sizes. Some noodles will soak up the sauce more than others, so sometimes I make another batch of cheese sauce to go over the top. I like cooking up the pasta a night before or in the morning to speed up the process.

Toppings: Some of my kids like a topping on the mac. Bread crumbs, extra cheese, cornflakes, etc.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Jonah-ing - Sinigang Soup

With some kind of ham, salt, small red onions, and tomatoes that have been cut and crushed, boil gently for 20 to 45 minutes. Time is relative because I was learning to make lumpia again. The first time was with Laura Nausin and now it is with Aunt Divine.
Sinigang Soup is a dish all over the Philippines with slight differences in each regions recipes. I liked Aunt Divine's though I don't know which region she learned hers in.

45 minutes later

After letting it all simmer until the meat is tender, wash, cut up and prepare the vegetables and squeeze the limes.

These are called yardlong beans, after they are snapped off at 2 inch intervals they look just like string beans - nicer as you only have a few tops and bottoms to remove.
Add caption
Green finger pepper - no American likeness, Kangkong - or water spinach.These are the other vegetables that are washed and cut up.

Divine says that some people only add kangkong to their soup. It is a vegetable that grows on the water  (it is grown on the river I can see from my window).
Snapped yardlong beans

Jonah squeezes limes while filtering out seeds

I've never looked for these kind of limes in California - I hope they are there - lots of flavor!

Add all vegetables and lime juice to pot and cook for 8 minutes, then add the water spinach and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice and a small bowl of lime juice with patis for those who want extra sour flavor.

Oh so good!

Jonah-ing - Cooking Class

Jonah and her aunt Divine show and teach me how to make real Lumpia!

Mix all the ingredients and then put them together. Aunt Divine was very particular about the size of everything and would take little bits out as she mixed it up -  if it wasn't small enough.

Actually I did a lot of watching, but helped a little.

Aunt Divine makes a cooked starch paste that she glues the wrappers together.

Putting them together is key to the whole effort.

Snug with no air pockets and tightly wrapped.

Fold in the sides and roll up....

Glue with the starch paste,

Then repeat!

Aunt Divine can roll two almost three to my one.

It was lots of fun!

Fry in oil on med heat until golden - to make sure the meat is cooked through.

Jonah cooked some of them up while Divine and I kept rolling.

I love them hot or cold.

Now that is lunch!

Actually we had rice, sinigang soup, and lumpia - I did a test run for Sunday lunch when I have a family from the ward over tomorrow. I wanted to make sure I could make something they would like to eat.

I will update this post with the lumpia recipe after Aunt Divine writes it up for me. I know how it was made and I think I can do it again on my own.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Making do with whatever is available

How to organize the little stuff without cost:

drawer in order
Listerine bottles are perfect to hold needles - when cut down
Dentist can drill straight across for nice cut
marker and scissors for lighter plastic 

Cut down water bottles can hold everything - besides you can see what is in it.  Those plastic cups will soon be gone as we drink more water.

Carpal tunnel - ish

I've been channeling Lisa Lambert the last few days. I can't believe all the things you can do with your left hand.
So my symptoms don't exactly match what I googled about Carpal tunnel - no thumb weakness, just a swollen wrist and two middle fingers that don't want to do anything anymore. Arm/wrist pain the minute I bend it wrong or type anymore! I've moved the mouse over to the left and click away with my left hand - it's more even that way anyway.
Slow typing, but short sentences.

Intake morning -

God's hello -

All in readiness -

Entrance where missionaries will begin -

Good morning to another batch at the MTC!