29 August 2009

Birthday gifts

Eric's birthday is coming up pretty soon, so I've begun to ask him what he wants. We'll be in Washington, D.C. for his birthday this year, which thrills him to no end. Because it means he'll get to pick and choose where we go and what we do for a whole day of our vacation. Anyway, in preparation for his birthday, I've begun asking him what it is exactly he's hoping to receive from me. I'm, unfortunately, rather hopeless when it comes to buying gifts for anybody. If you do not tell me specifically what you want, you will likely get something you do not like or find useful, or else nothing altogether. The last four years have had ups and downs as far as Eric's birthdays, but he still hasn't caught on that he needs to tell me exactly what he wants if he expects to get something really cool. I really do try to think of good gifts, but ultimately I find myself wandering around some store and finally settling on something that I think he might like.

As with all previous years, I'm asking now what he wants. So far, he has not been very helpful:

Me: What do you want for you birthday this year?
Eric: I don't know.
Me: Oh, I remember. You want that new Beatles album that is coming out.
Eric: Yeah. And to go to Arlington and the Air and Space Museum.
Me: Right, well, that is not so much something tangible that I can give you. What else do you want?
Eric: I don't know.
Me: Oh, I remember. You want a pastry knife.
Eric: I don't think so.
Me: And the Shel Silverstein books of poems.
Eric: No, not that.
Me: And, let's see. You already got a bundt pan, but you also want the America's Test Kitchen cookbook.
Eric: Hmmm... I don't think this list is going too well.
Me: What are you talking about? It's going great.

Well, at least Eric will know what to get me in a couple of months.

27 August 2009


I received a text message from my old roommate, Priscilla, on Sunday night. In effect the text said that we had an anniversary coming up this week. The anniversary of our meeting each other is today. Skilla and I met six years ago today. Heather and I met six years ago tomorrow. Janssen and I met six years ago... some time this week. I know I met her before Skilla and Heather because she and I were both at BYU early (for two different reasons).

Priscilla knew the date of our anniversary because she wrote it down in her journal. I however, did not write down when I met her. I must be a terrible roommate. Here are a few things I did write, though: (Please note that the days of the week correlate with the days of the journal entries, not necessarily with the days of the events).
30 August 2003, Saturday:
I'm really getting to enjoy my roommate, Priscilla. She's really energetic and fun. I also like my neighbors, at least the ones that are here. The girls to the left haven't arrived yet. The ones on the right are Janssen and Heather. Heather has been hanging out a lot with Priscilla and me.

14 September 2003, Sunday:
Dad sent me some coupons, so Priscilla (my roommate), Chad (our friend) and I went to Wal-Mart yesterday to stock up on snack foods since I don't have any time to eat on Sundays now.
[. . .]
After the recital, I went to this big party with Priscilla, our neighbor (Heather), and Chad. It was a huge party/dance for all the folks that live in Desert Towers and Heritage Halls. I had such a blast just dancing my heart out. I could feel the stress leaving my body.

20 September 2003, Sunday:
After the Elevator Club meeting, I called home and grandpa. Then I went to dinner with Priscilla and Heather. Then we spent a very productive three hours in the library. I'm still not caught up though. :(

28 September 2003, Sunday
[. . .] Then Priscilla, Heather and I had a chica-movie night. We watched The Goonies because neither of them had ever seen it.
And that is all that I wrote about those three girls the entire first month we knew each other. I wrote in my journal a lot that year. Just not much about them, apparently. The stupid thing is that I wrote a lot about at boy (whom I dated back then and is clearly no longer a part of my life), finances and classes. If I could go back in time, I would write more about the fun things we did together our freshman year. I fear that my posterity will not really get how much fun I had that year with those girls. Although, maybe I just need to read a little more and I will find that I wrote about them more as the months progressed. One can only hope.

24 August 2009

Not My Job

One of the all-time funniest bits from Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, which is my favorite radio show. (Um, yes, I am apparently 80 and have favorite radio shows).

The segment is from the part of the show called "Not My Job" in which they invite famous people to the show and ask them about things they know nothing about. It's generally pretty funny, but it becomes even better when the guest is funny on his own.

And if the embedding doesn't work, here's the direct link.

23 August 2009

Revew: Pull Aparts

This week we had the annual L. Family reunion in Park City. It was a blast. Part of the tradition is a baked food called Pull Aparts. I mentioned that I still hadn't made them, and Eric said I needed to learn how, since I got a bundt pan a few weeks ago. Since I want to be just like Grandma when I grow up (including taking on the Alpine Slide at age 80), the Pull Aparts were an obvious choice for my the last week of Whip it Up.

Yesterday I whipped out the L. Family cookbook and found Grandma's recipe:

24 frozen Rhodes rolls
1 3-oz. pkg. Butterscotch pudding (not instant)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
walnuts (optional)

  1. Place frozen rolls in a greased bundt pan, sprinkle with the dry pudding.
  2. Combine melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Pour over the rolls.
  3. Cover and let rise at room temperature overnight.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Leave in pan for five minutes and invert over a large plate. Serve immediately.
My results were... less than stellar. The main problem being that I prepared the rolls at 10 last night. But I didn't bake them until I woke up at 11:30 this morning. Clearly Grandma's "overnight" is shorter than mine. (In my defense, I was completely wiped out yesterday after three days of reunioning, commuting to Salt Lake while reunioning, spending an afternoon at the lake, and going shopping at the mall. Add to that the fact that Eric didn't get home from work until about 12:15, and we didn't go to bed until after 1, and you can understand a little bit better why I slept so late.)

Because they rose for so long, they were literally spilling out of the bundt pan and onto the counter. Then, I baked them for the prescribed amount of time, but because they had risen so tall, the ones at the top got fairly badly burned. However, the ones at the bottom were great!

So, the questions:
  • Was the recipe easy to follow? - Yes. It's about as simple as baking recipe can be considering you use already prepared rolls that are frozen. No complaints here, only next time I might try them with wheat rolls.
  • Did the dish taste good? - The ones that were not burnt were lovely. I can understand why this is a family favorite.
  • Would you make it again? - Definitely. But I will set an alarm to wake up so they don't rise for so long.

22 August 2009

A boating family

Today we had a church boating/skiing activity at Deer Creek Reservoir. I have not spent much time doing those sorts of activities. Like, at all. I have been on a motorized boat one other time, and that was at a church activity in Dallas. That one time I got to go tubing. I went twice, and then it was somebody else's turn. Primarily because of my lack of experience, I was not very thrilled about this activity. It's not that I didn't want to try skiing, it's just that I didn't want to take up other people's turns with my attempts while they could have been doing the real thing.

I had a series of dialogues during the activity:

Upon arrival:
Me: You know, I don't really see us as a boating family. It just seems like such a commitment to have a boat and have the gear and use it often enough to make it worthwhile.
Eric: Well, it is pretty fun once you do it, but you're right that it takes a lot of commitment.

Getting on the boat:
Boat driver: So, what do we here? Skiers? Wakeboarders?
Eric: I can ski, but I haven't done it since before my mission.
Sean: Same here.
Lanette: I'm not planning on doing anything, I just want to ride the boat.
Me: This is my second time to ever even be on a boat like this. I went tubing once.
Katie: Well, you can try kneeboarding; it's pretty easy.
Me: Okay, that will be cool.

After Sean and Eric had skied:
Boat driver: Well, before we hook up the wakeboard, anyone want to ski? You want to try it?
Me: I don't know. I've heard it's pretty hard.
Katie: You can try it, and if you don't like it you can switch to the kneeboard.
Me: Should I try it?
Sean: Yeah, you should. It's fun.

Then I got up on my first try. It was very thrilling. After I got back on the boat some of them commented about how huge my smile was. My facial expressions make me somewhat of an open book, so I heartily believed them.

While the others wakeboarded and we road the boat:
Me: You know, maybe we could be a boating family.
Eric: Maybe.

After we were done riding and were eating lunch:
Me: So, how much does a boat cost?
Jeff: I'd say about forty to fifty grand.
Me: I didn't expect it to be so high.
Eric: Yeah, they're not cheap.
Me: I changed my mind again about being a boating family.

Moral of the story: We need friends with boats.

15 August 2009

Review: Chinese Dumplings

Today we made Abe and Erin's recipe for dumplings. (Is it mostly Erin's recipe? This I do not know, but Erin is welcome to pipe in!)

We'd eaten this recipe a couple of times with Abe and Erin, and I'd always wanted to try it. I'm glad I finally did.
  • Was the recipe easy to follow? - Yes. We made the pork dumplings, although we originally planned to make the vegetarian ones. When I called Abe to ask what kind of bean paste he counseled me to forget the vegetarian ones and just do the pork. He said it would be worth the extra cost.
  • Did the dish taste good? - Yes, yes, yes.
  • Would you make it again? - I will make it. However, as you can tell from the recipe it is a fair amount of work, especially if you are doing all the dumpling folding yourself, which we did. Also, I would not even attempt this recipe without a food processor.
Maybe one day we will totally rip off Abe and Erin and have these dumplings be a reason to host a party. That would require some planning though. And lately our Saturdays involve zero planning.

12 August 2009

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

This weekend Old Navy had a sale on kids' jeans. All kids' jeans were $10. Only, I somehow got the impression that all jeans were $10, so we went to Old Navy to check it out. I was bummed to learn that the sale was only for kids jeans. But then I decided to try on the largest pair of little girl jeans that they had, just to see if they fit. And they did. It was a joyous occasion. Only, now I'm really ticked that I've been buying expensive grownup jeans all this time. What a waste.


Our Internet was cut off on Sunday night. In my excessive panic over the lack of Internet I unplugged my router from my modem, and when I plugged it back in, I accidentally plugged the cord into the wrong port in the router. When the Internet came back on on Monday, my router became what is called a "rogue" router and made the other folks in my apartment complex also lose Internet. So, the Internet company turned my Internet off for real this time. (As opposed to the general outage of Sunday night). There were complications. There was angry talking to the Internet company on my part. There was being treated like an idiot by the Internet people. There was much annoyance that I do not have control of who my Internet provider is. Then there was getting the Internet turned back on. Finally.

I have determined that I am a bit of a customer service terrorist. I want X, Y, and Z, and if I do not get them I will find another company. It is frustrating when I cannot be a customer service terrorist.


The results of the poll are in. Thirteen said yes. Only four said no. This just goes to show you that Matt and Michelle should have let me a host a poll about the name of their baby. They have named their baby, but I do not know what their privacy preferences are. If they care to share, either of them can leave a comment.


I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. It is blowing my mind. I hope that it becomes the modern version of The Jungle.

08 August 2009

Review: Mole

This week for Whip it Up, I did the same recipe as my friend, Trish. I hope she doesn't mind that I completely copied her. The thing is, fairly recently my carpool buddy and I were discussing mole (pronounced moh-lay), which is sort of like Mexican curry. Essentially, mole is a sauce/seasoning that usually involves cocoa powder or chocolate of some variety, but, like curry, there are a gazillion different varieties. Incidentally, Trish blogged about making mole for WIU this week, and I knew it was a recipe I would like to try.

The recipe can be found here. I subbed two cans of tomato sauce for the tomato soup because, really, I have very strong opinions against canned tomato soup.
  • Was the recipe easy to follow? - It was very simple.
  • Did the dish taste good? - We both liked the sauce quite a lot. We served it with chicken tacos, and I want to make it again some time with enchiladas.
  • Would you make it again? - Definitely.
And there you have it. Only a few more weeks to go.

05 August 2009

Baby naming poll

A little over 24 hours ago I got another nephew. (This was the fourth in a little less than eight months). This baby happens to belong to Eric's sister, Michelle, and her husband, Matt(hew). When I spoke to them a few hours ago they still hadn't named their little mancub. I offered to put up a non-binding poll on my blog for my faithful readers to help them choose a name (using the three names that they are thinking about using). One proud parent accepted the offer. The other declined. So instead, I'm doing a poll about whether or not they should have accepted the offer. The poll is on the left side-bar. Hop to it.

Should nutrition be the new recycling?

When I was in elementary school (in a suburb of Dallas in the early 90s) we had a lot of lessons on saving the environment. We talked about the three Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle. We had school assemblies where various paid groups came in and talked about hugging trees. (I'm not making that up). We talked about buying things with small packaging to avoid wastefulness. We talked about CFCs. We talked about clean water and clean air. Our teachers really pushed caring for the environment.

And my mom always pointed out that my older siblings (who attended schools in basically the same area but about ten years earlier) didn't have that same sort of emphasis in their educations.

Ultimately I don't know if I can tell you that my generation and I are more environmentally minded because of our educations or because of present circumstances. I don't even know if my peers had the same sort of environmental education that I did.

I have been wondering lately, though, about nutrition in school. In America we are observing miserable health conditions within our society, due primarily to lifestyle. The average American diet consists of far too much refined products (refined sugar, refined flour, refined fat) and far too little fruits and vegetables. As a society we spend too much time on our rears and not enough time on our feet. And we are seeing the devastating results. Heart disease (which is fairly preventable) is the number one killer in America. Type II diabetes (also fairly preventable) is rampant. Rates of obesity are climbing.

What if schools emphasized nutrition? I mean really emphasized nutrition. This would (at least in my mind) mean bringing kids back to five-day-a-week physical education classes. This would mean having real food in schools, taking out vending machines in middle and high schools (or replacing the products with healthy alternatives), and not offering unhealthy junk options to older kids as well. (In my high school you could go through the regular line or the snack bar line which had things like fries, chili cheese fries, nachos, pizza, etc.). I would even go so far as to say that the science portion of standardized tests should include materials about nutrition.

Some people might wonder about the usefulness of teaching these things to young kids who don't have a lot of control over the foods their parents buy and serve, but I think that kids can make a difference. I'm certain many parents have been harassed by their children to improve their behavior (think quitting smoking for some, recycling for others). Maybe it could be an impetus for families to have the kids more involved in family meals, or to have more family meals in the first place.

As a society we have a vested interest in the overall health of our fellow citizens. Not only because it is the charitable way to be, but because the healthier we are as a society, the better we function as a society. (More people healthy enough to work longer, fewer people using government funds for health care). As we head toward what looks like might be health care coverage for all Americans (hooray!) we need to focus more on preventative care. And what better way to avoid preventable diseases than teaching kids about all this jazz as early as possible?

(I don't have kids in school. Are they teaching this stuff there? I do have a sister-in-law who teaches fourth grade in the district where I attended school, but from what she says it doesn't seem like it's happening.)

01 August 2009

Review: Butter Pecan Apple Pie

My brother, John, sent me this recipe. He made it for Thanksgiving in 2003. I had some of the pie way back then, and when he suggested I make it, I don't think I really realized how much work it would take.

Here's the recipe:

6 cups thinly sliced apples
2 tablespoons lime juice
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pastry for 9” double crust pie
2 tablespoons butter

8 large marshmallows
¼ cup evaporated milk
1-1/2 cup chopped pecans
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
½ Cup brown sugar

  1. In a large bowl, toss apples with lime juice. Combine dry ingredients. Add to apples. Toss lightly.
  2. Place bottom pastry in pie pan. Fill with apple mixture. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Flute edges high.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven.
  1. Cook sugar, ½ stick of butter, marshmallows and ¼ cup evaporated milk over medium heat until butter is melted. Add 1 cup pecans. Cook until softball stage or 236 degrees. Remove from heat.
  2. Add vanilla and beat until mixture is thickened. Drop onto greased wax paper or non-stick cookie sheet spayed with vegetable spray. Let cool completely. Crumble and set aside.
  3. In medium saucepan, sauté remaining pecans in ¼ cup butter. Butter should be rich and golden color. Add pecan crumbles from above. Remove pieces from butter.
  4. Add ½ cup brown sugar and cream. Cook until boiling. Add sautéed pecans to boiling mixture. Pour over pie. Bake 3-4 minutes until bubbly. Cool 30 minutes.
My review/comments:

This recipe was intense. It was very time-consuming and quite laborious. I found myself really stressing out over the definition of "softball stage," and I don't think I ended up cooking the praline long enough. After it cooled it was very hard but also extremely chewy. To answer the questions:
  • Was the recipe easy to follow? Not really. I definitely could have used some pictures. Or else a candy thermometer would have been nice. I think the ingredients didn't list the right amount for certain things like butter.
  • Did the dish taste good? Oh yes, very good.
  • Will you make it again? Despite the laborious nature of this recipe, I will probably make it again, especially if I have a pastry knife, a candy thermometer and a load of time on my hands.
When it all boils down to it, this pie was so yummy it almost negates all the labor involved.