Archive from June, 2014
Jun 30, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Yummy!


Since my brother-in-law and his family got into town from California yesterday, we went up to Sunday dinner at my in-laws; since my phone has issues with receiving certain kinds of texts, I called to ask for a food assignment kind of last minute and ended up with dessert.  (We love dessert. I may eat differently than my in-laws in a lot of ways, but we all love dessert.  There were four different kinds of bars available.)  I was going to make the Reese’s Pieces bars that I posted here, but the Reese’s Pieces were mysteriously and seriously depleted, so I went with these Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookie Bars–and let me tell you, no one regretted that choice.  They were TASTY.  I only made one change–I don’t particularly care for milk chocolate chips, so I used semi-sweet–and I was happy with it; semi-sweet might have been overpowering if there had been a ton in there, but as it was, I thought they were perfect.  I am a little on the fence about the cooking time; I had to bake them longer because they were SO gooey in the middle still, and I think upping the temperature slightly might fix that.  (I suspect an altitude problem.)

Altitude aside, however, I loved them.  They were the perfect mix of buttery goodness and chocolate/Oreo bliss, and I would have had more than I did if my sisters-in-law hadn’t also brought carmelitas, smores bars, and strawberry cheesecake bars.  (It was a good dessert day.)  I was quite sad not to have leftovers…

Jun 25, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on I LOVED This Book (But It Made Me Cry)

I LOVED This Book (But It Made Me Cry)

If Number the Stars had a little sister, this would be it.  This poignant picture book also takes place in Denmark, and it also portrays Jews being smuggled by boat to Sweden and safety; both books are even based on true events.  In The Whispering Town, Anett’s family is caring for a small Jewish family in their cellar until a boat can take them to Sweden.  We see Anett whisper of their new “friends” to the baker, and the librarian, and the farmer, and carry home extra bread, and library books, and eggs as a result.  Each time she leaves her home she sees Nazi soldiers knocking on someone else’s door, looking for Jews–until they finally knock on hers.  How they manage to get their “friends” to safety anyhow makes for a lovely story of a community coming together to help those in need.  I cried, of course; motherhood has made me weepy in that way.  Then again, how could you not cry?  Stories like Number the Stars and The Whispering Town explain why over 99% of Danish Jews survived the Holocaust.  At a time in history when America turned away Jews by the boatload and some small-town Christians were only too happy to pick up their pitchforks and join in with Hitler’s mission, one country managed to evacuate 7,220 of its 7,800 Jews safely; Denmark also interceded on behalf of the 464 Danish Jews who were deported to Theresienstadt.  Such a story deserves to be told–and retold.

I read this to both my girlies.  My oldest, who is 7 1/2, was fascinated and ready to help those in trouble herself.  My shy and sensitive (and timid) middle was scared by the idea and very snuggly by the end of the book.  She’s almost 5, and I actually think it was as much a personality reaction as it was age; all the same, the inside cover suggests ages 7-11.  You’ll have to make the decision for your children, of course, but please, give this one a try when you think they are old enough.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Whispering Town (Holocaust)

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Jun 23, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Easy and Delicious

Easy and Delicious

That’s exactly what Mel’s Honey Mustard Chicken is.  And if all of your family happens to like mashed potatoes, it should be a crowd-pleaser.  (I believe we’ve discussed how this is not so much the case at my house; at least my oldest was happy.)  The chicken is moist and tender–even if you are, ahem, too lazy to actually baste–and the sauce is buttery and honey-y and has that lovely bit of tang from the mustard.  Just a bit, though–my kids aren’t mustard fans, and none of them have problems with the chicken.  (They also scarfed the broccoli on the side.)  You can serve this with rice as well, but I like the potatoes, even if the younger ones don’t.  The sauce isn’t the healthiest in the world, what with the third of a cup of butter and all, but it’s SO tasty.  Go give this one a try–you’ll be glad you did!

Jun 22, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Short and (Slightly Bitter-) Sweet

Short and (Slightly Bitter-) Sweet

That pretty much sums up The Night the Bells Rang, by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock.  It’s a lovely little story about a Vermont family during America’s involvement in World War I, and while its simplicity doesn’t allow for boundless detail, it nevertheless managed to draw tears from me at the end.  I struggled slightly with Mason’s treatment of his brother for much of the book, but it was probably realistic, and I was ok with the way it was ultimately handled.  The entire book, of course, made me homesick for New England, but what can I say?  When I read about old time New England farm life, I have an incredible yearning to experience the beauty and simplicity of it…until I remember how much I like being clean, how much I hate the smell of manure, and how much I prefer to have time for myself after the necessary chores are done.  (All the same, I never tire of reading about it.)

Again, this one’s really short–76 pages, including many full-page illustrations–but I found it worth my while.  Give it a try!

The Night the Bells Rang (Puffin Chapters)

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Jun 19, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on A Natural Historian First; An Author Second

A Natural Historian First; An Author Second

That pretty much sums up Allan W. Eckert, author of Incident at Hawk’s Hill (a 1972 Newbery Honor book).  It was an interesting book, to say the least; a six-year-old with an affinity for animals spends two months lost on the Canadian prairie, cared for by a badger who has recently lost her young.  According to Eckert, it’s a slightly fictionalized account of an actual incident, which is incredible but not impossible (truth being absolutely stranger than fiction).  He does a good job portraying the boy’s parents and their conflicting worries for their son, although the third person omniscient gives the whole book a certain detached feel.  (You can tell that, in writing the book, he’s simply taking his observations of nature one step further.)  He also, however, exhibits a certain tendency to give a little more information about the habits of wildlife than a true novelist would.  I was interested in the statistics on prairie dog towns, actually, and I looked up ‘spermophiles’ because I was curious–it’s a genus of ground squirrels, by the way–but I’m not so sure that the average young reader will be (interested and curious, I mean).  To be fair, the plot might still draw them, and there’s certainly action.  It also moves fairly quickly, extra details not withstanding.  (I loved Atlas Shrugged, but Ayn Rand could have taken a lesson or two from this guy.  That 50-page radio speech just rehashed everything the previous 900 pages had covered already.)  Overall, then, I’d recommend it to anyone with a decent interest in wildlife–or North American western history.

Incident at Hawk’s Hill

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Jun 18, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Taquitos


I know I’ve already posted one taquito recipe on here–although not a typical one–but I’ve got a few more I enjoy.  Tonight my friend and I fed 9 kids (mine and hers and two extras), and we opted to make these Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos for the crowd.  We doubled the recipe and used the breast meat from a Costco rotisserie chicken, which made it decently easy.  We also used regular Monterey Jack instead of Pepperjack, because a)I don’t like Pepperjack and b)I don’t do spicy.  The only other real change we made was using fresh cilantro instead of dried, because we had it, so why not?  (To substitute fresh herbs for dried, you use triple the amount of dried that it calls for.)  And of course, whole wheat tortillas, because slightly more filling is always better, right?  Anyway…

I do really enjoy this recipe.  I love rolling fillings into flour tortillas because they don’t crack if you, you know, BREATHE.  You don’t have to baby them in the microwave with damp paper towels, or fry them in oil and add unholy amounts of pure fat to the recipe; you just roll and set them on the pan and you’re done.  (It’s not that I don’t love homemade enchiladas, but there’s a reason why I don’t make them very often.  Corn tortillas are beastly to roll.)  I also love baking instead of frying.  It’s not that I object to eating my fair share of lovely fried goodness, mind you; it’s just that deep frying things myself focuses my mind a little too clearly on the oil involved.  It’s easier for me to deal with when I don’t have to actually look at it.  (Incidentally, I’m also still traumatized by how long my kitchen stank after the homemade onion ring experiment.)  And, yes, the healthy matters when it’s just an everyday dinner.  I try to space out the ‘you’ll die happy’ kind of recipes.

If you’re worried about rolling them, don’t be.  It gets routine after a time or two.  And don’t stress about using the exact amounts per tortilla that it calls for.  I usually end up using half as many tortillas as the recipe tells me I’ll need, and no one complains about how they taste.  I mixed salsa and ranch to dip them in, while most of the kids used plain ranch, but they were more or less enjoyed by all.

Go ahead.  Take the taquito plunge.  You’ll be glad you did!


Jun 17, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Apparently, June is a Crockpot Kind of Month

Apparently, June is a Crockpot Kind of Month

Seriously.  I don’t even use my crockpots as often as you’d think.  (And yes, that was plural.  I have three, of varying sizes; all three have been gifts.  I’m not complaining.  It’s nice to have the right size for a recipe.)  My oldest used to have texture issues with crockpot chicken, and, well, whatever.  The point is that while I can go months without using any of my crockpots, I’ve been really enjoying them lately.  Last night I made one of my staples, Mel’s Pineapple Salsa Chicken, which never fails to please…well, except for the middle, who doesn’t care for anything that might be construed as Mexican food.  Ah, well.  The rest of us are fans, and it’s beautifully easy.  You can make it as is, which is perfectly fine, or you can make it the way I do, which is not radically different, but here goes.

1)I don’t drain the pineapple.  The first time I made it I missed that step, decided I liked it just fine, and never bothered.  I also don’t bother draining off the liquid, but then, I like to err on the side of moist.  I have dry mouth issues.

2)I add 2 T of brown sugar to bring out the sweetness a bit.  This is optional, of course.  I’m not even sure how noticeable it is.

3)I add an extra can of black beans and only use 5 chicken breasts, unless they’re on the small side.

There you go!  I always serve it with chips, salsa, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, cheese, and olives.  The kids and I eat taco salads with crushed chips as a base.  My hubby adds his toppings to the crockpot mixture and scoops it with the chips.  Either  way, it’s a winner, and it makes enough for two dinners plus.  It also freezes beautifully.

Need I say more?


Jun 13, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on Timing is a Lot

Timing is a Lot

Not quite everything, you understand.  All the same, I was completely looking forward to reading Patricia Reilly Giff’s latest, Winter Sky, because I LOVE her.  I was psyched.  And then I had a string of evenings with other responsibilities, which meant I was reading it in tiny little fits and starts, and that just about ruins a book.  I was so sad!  It was a good story, with an intriguing mystery, and it ended in an absolutely satisfying way; I was just never able to immerse myself in it.  I never had the time.

It is possible, of course, that it wasn’t quite as good as her best have been, but that’s a pretty high standard to meet.  I so desperately loved Pictures of Hollis Woods, All the Way Home, Willow Run, Storyteller, Nory Ryan’s Song, Maggie’s Door, A House of Tailors…you get the idea. She is able to tell stories simply without oversimplifying the context, and with an impressive level of poignancy to boot.  Winter Sky is extremely contemporary, which will probably make it more popular than some of her historical fiction among readers of today.  Siria is endearing, and her found family (which includes one actual family member) rings true.  (As a parent, I find her nighttime wanderings appalling–she follows the firetrucks to local fires so that she can watch over her fireman father–but they do make sense as part of the story.)  Read it and enjoy–and then, if you’ve never read any of the ones I listed above, go read those.

Right now.

Winter Sky

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Jun 12, 2014 - Uncategorized    Comments Off on What This Mormon Girl Has to Say

What This Mormon Girl Has to Say

I understand that the founder of the ‘Ordain Women’ group is now facing a (church) disciplinary hearing for her actions; I also understand that she “hopes to remain in the church,” according to (our local news station).  I have two questions for her.

1)Why are you surprised?

2)Why do you hope to remain in the church?

I honestly don’t understand the thought process involved here.  Her “activist” behavior demonstrates very clearly that she no longer believes in what our faith teaches about revelation. (We believe that only the prophet can receive revelation for the entire church.  Parents can receive revelation for their immediate families, and bishops can receive revelations for their congregations, because in each case they are responsible for all of the people involved.  The prophet can receive revelation for our entire church, because he is the only one on earth responsible for our entire church.  That, we believe, is the Lord’s way of doing things, and it makes perfect sense to me.  I believe the Lord communicates to my husband and me about our family, and to Thomas S. Monson about our church.)  It also demonstrates that she does not believe our church’s doctrine about how the priesthood works.  (It is erroneous to believe that men have it and women have no part in it, by the way.  Our responsibilities and roles just happen to be different.)

Now, I have no problem with people not believing what I believe.  I have no problem with people disagreeing with points of doctrine.  One of the articles of our faith is that “We claim the privilege of worshiping the Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how, where, or what they may.”  I grew up with some devout Catholic friends, and I have the greatest respect for their convictions.  I do disagree with certain doctrines of the Catholic church, however, and that is why I CHOOSE NOT TO BE CATHOLIC.  If I had been born Catholic but came to the same conclusions about religion that I have reached in my own faith, I would have chosen to leave the Catholic church and seek a faith that matched my beliefs.  I would NOT have tried to force the Pope to change the Catholic faith for me.  Why should I?  It would be my choice not to believe.  Why would I try to force a church to change to fit my own beliefs? Why would I try to remain a part of a group with which I no longer agree?

I don’t understand why Kate Kelly is surprised that she is facing disciplinary action; she is actively teaching opposing doctrine.  How can a church not take action?  Would a principal allow a teacher in his or her school to actively preach against his or her authority?  ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’  Ultimately, the leader of a household must ask those who are acting in opposition to the rules of the household to live elsewhere.

I am further baffled by her ‘hope to remain in the church.’  Why not start her own?  Or join another?  Why fight to stay part of an organization that you no longer support?  Our country is kinder to dissidents than many.  Why choose to be one but seek not to be identified as one?

I have a real testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is my faith, and I believe in it and choose to live it.  I am, frankly, appalled that someone completely outside the Lord’s chain of command seeks to directly change my faith and my responsibilities in it.

Why would anyone do that?  For the life of me, I can’t see that it makes any sense at all.

Jun 11, 2014 - Uncategorized    1 Comment

Another Crockpot Standby

This will be quick, because it somehow got WAY later than I intended it to be, but I just realized I haven’t shared this recipe for Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken.  And I should.  Because it’s easy the way it is, and it divides by 3 beautifully, meaning, of course, that you can make 1/3 or 2/3 of the recipe if you so desire, with NO ugly math.  (I’m not saying all math is ugly.  I’m just saying that no one wants to divide, say, one egg into thirds.)  It also uses thighs, which I rather like for the crockpot.  They stay moist and tender nicely, even if they’re in for quite a while; breasts don’t always.  And the individually frozen boneless skinless thighs at Costco are fabulous, although I do always trim what visible fat I can.  You can put them on low or high, adjusting the cooking time accordingly, and they will turn out well.  (I should point out, to be fair, that my hubby has issues with baked thighs, but never minds them in the crockpot.)

So go ahead.  Stick this in your crockpot with some rice in your rice cooker, steam up some peas or broccoli on the side, and you’ve got a peach of an easy dinner.