Thursday, November 24, 2011

Red Mush!

This was one of my grandmother's recipes.  It's a super-yummy Danish dessert that my cousins and I all grew up on and all still love and make for our own families.  It's a MUST on my Thanksgiving table.  Enjoy!!!

Red Mush (ie Grape Tapioca Pudding):

2 qts. (8 cups) grape juice
3/4 cup tapioca beads
Half & Half (or milk for a healthier version)

Pour juice into a pot.  (You can add sugar to the juice if you want it sweeter.)  Sprinkle tapioca beads over juice.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Cool 20 minutes.  Stir.  To serve, dish into a bowl and top with a little bit of Half & Half. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ex Recipes

One of the best things I got out of over a decade of failed marriage was a small collection of recipes that my ex-husband's mother and grandmother gave me. I decided to share the best of them on here for everyone to enjoy. :)

 1/2 pound round steak
1 small cabbage, shredded
1 small green pepper cut in thin, small wedges
1 onion, cut in small wedges
1 large carrot, cut in thin strips
1 pkg. Yakisoba or Chukasoba stir fry noodles
1 bottle Ikari Tonkatsu cutlet sauce

 In small amount of oil in bottom of a wok, cook the round steak until the steak loses its color. Add all of the vegetables and cook to desired doneness. Stir often. While vegetables are cooking, place noodles in strainer and rinse with hot water. Let drain. Add noodles to cooked vegetables and meat. Stir well. Add cutlet sauce to taste. (Stir often, will burn on bottom.) Serve with rice.

1 pound round steak, cut in thin pieces about 1" (type and amount of meat can be varied, according to taste)
1 medium onion, sliced thin
Schilling minced garlic (equal to 1 clove)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 large can mushroom bits-do not drain
2 T ketchup
2 t Worcestershire sauce

 Brown steak in small amount of cooking oil. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. In bowl, mix soup, sour cream, mushrooms including juice, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. Add to meat and onions. Heat well. Serve over noodles.

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter

 Melt the butter in a glass pan in a 350* oven. Mix the eggs and milk, then add the flour and salt, mixing in well. Pour the egg mixture over the hot melted butter and bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot out of the oven.

 6-7 large potatoes
1 can evaporated milk
1 carrot
2 cups salted water
4 tsp chicken bouillon
3-4 cups cheese
1 cup water

 Peel and grate potatoes and carrot, then put into pot. Grate cheese and set aside. Prepare chicken broth in water and set aside. Add salted water to potatoes and carrot, and cook on high heat until potatoes are thick (about 15 minutes), stirring constantly. Add bouillon, canned milk, and cheese. Continue cooking until cheese is melted, then turn down heat and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.

 2 cans cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 cup grated Mozzarella or Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup sour cream
3 cups chicken or turkey, cooked and chopped
Garlic salt to taste
Onion powder to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup sliced black olives
12 flour tortillas
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese

 Make a sauce by mixing soup, cheese, and sour cream. Pour 1/3 of sauce into bottom of 9x13 baking dish. Mix turkey, seasonings, olives, and 1/3 of the sauce together. Put a small amount of turkey mixture in each tortilla. Roll and place on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake 350* for 20-30 minutes or until slightly browned.

 1/2 pound ground beef or leftover roast
Chopped green onions with tops
Finely grated carrot
Chopped water chestnuts
1 egg, beaten
Chopped bean sprouts
1 tsp soy sauce
chopped mushrooms
won ton skins

 Mix ingredients all together and put in won ton skins. Deep fry in oil until brown. Serve with seafood sauce.

 1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons horseradish

 Stir together.

 1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 bag frozen sliced strawberries
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
1 pkg. Danish Dessert
6 cups rice crispies

 Mix together coconut, nuts, and rice crispies. Heat brown sugar and margarine until melted and well blended. Mix with rice crispies. Press half of mixture into a 9x13 baking pan. Top with sliced ice cream. Cover with the other half of rice crispie mixture. Freeze. Cut into serving-size pieces and serve individually with a topping of frozen sliced strawberries in Danish Dessert sauce.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Fun, Unsavory Heritage

I was discussing with someone today our fun, unsavory ancestries. His are quieter, and probably a bit more unsavory than mine, but mine are fun and interesting nonetheless, so I figured I'd share some of them. It might shed a little light on the less fun aspects (read stubborn) parts of my own personality. ;) I am the descendant of members of the James gang for one (yes, the gang who rode and wrought havoc with the notorious Jesse James). My ancestors were fond of guns...and disobedience. They didn't often do as told. Another less-famous ancestor was hanged for being a horse thief. Apparently he was good at the disobedience, but a little less handy with the gun. And he got greedy...that's always a bad thing. I had one who was thrown in jail because he wanted to play cards on Sunday. Scratch that, not wanted...did. He was told to stop, and I imagine he just laughed...all the way to his cell. Not sure why he didn't just use the dang gun. Maybe he lost it in a hand? I am a descendant of the Booth family. Who comes to mind there? My infamous cousin, ole John Wilkes Booth, who was a little bit pissed off, used the gun, and shot Abraham Lincoln. Oops. I should also mention that my family has always been a little quick to temper, too. ;) I come from good stock, too, mind you. I had some very well-to-do ancestors who were plantation owners in Virginia...oh, yeah, they were slave owners, too...but I'm sure they treated their guys well! And me? Well, I learned a long time ago that I like guns, too, and that if needed, I will pull the trigger. There's a reason I don't keep one on me all the time, although I would love a job where I could just shoot someone if they piss me off. It must be in my blood. I have done stupid things, too, just out of stubbornness and disobedience. I was arrested for trespassing and breaking & entering, until it was discovered that I just had the wrong address. Oops. I double-check now before I forcefully enter a house. ;) I was only armed with a flashlight that time, though! It should have been a good tip-off, except the police out there also seem to enjoy the thought of shooting someone at random. Hey, we must be related!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Matters of the Heart

"I love you." Seems a simple enough phrase, no? I've been giving some thought to those three little words, and their meanings that they hold for different individuals in my life. I decided to collect my thoughts here.

From the moment my children were born, I knew that I loved them, although to be honest, sometimes it took a few days to really feel the connection with the little stranger sleeping on me. I never doubted my full devotion to them, and knew that the overwhelming feeling I had to be near them and to care for and protect them was love. I understood then just why someone would give up their own life for someone else. It is a very pure form of love. Now, with my children at ages 8, 5, and 2, I tell them often that I love them, and never forget that those words mean that I will always be there for them, and that I will forever be willing to sacrifice anything and everything for their well-being.

For my parents and siblings, "I love you" coming from me is a reminder that I am grateful that despite our differences, we remain family, and that our bond is that of blood. We have survived fights, divorce, death, estrangements...and through it all, when one of us reaches out for help, the others immediately throw out any and all available resources to pull through together. I would have been homeless during my divorce if my mother, whom I had not spoken to in nearly 4 1/2 years prior to my reaching out for help, hadn't realized this deep bond and opened her door to me and my children. I share that same drive to assist when my siblings come to me in need of food to help them get to their next paycheck. It's just what family does. No questions asked; no request refused.

I tell my closest friends that I love them, too, and that is my seal of my devotion to our friendship. There is nothing I would not do for those friends. Some friends in my life have come and gone, others have been fair-weather friends, but some are true friends, and those are the ones to whom I profess a love. Those are they who know my strengths and my weaknesses, and still accept me unconditionally. They are the ones I know I can turn to in my times of need and they will do everything in their power to help me, and they know that they can reach out to me, as well, and I will do anything to help them. They are they with whom hours fly and feel like only minutes when we are together. They are they who can pick up a conversation after a long period of time right where we left off and we are totally comfortable talking about everything, as well as with a silence that sometimes speaks more than words. My love for them is a platonic, unbreakable love.

Of course, these words generally bring straight to mind a romantic love. I have spoken them to a few different men in my life, but not every boyfriend I ever had was worthy of hearing those words from me, so some did not. As a teenager, I felt compelled to speak them as a way to make sure that my boyfriend knew I was wanting to be there with him. I learned quickly that such a thing does not work (the one time I tried it, I was dumped the same day). Next, I felt that I should use the phrase to solidify a sexual relationship (also does not work, especially when the heart simply isn't in it). After that, I became far more discretionary, and used it only with the man I married, and that didn't work out so well, either. Although I meant it at the time, circumstances changed my life path and also altered my emotions to where, although I "like" him as a friend and the father of my children, I do not love him in the romantic sense. I have since discussed this with someone with whom I entered a romantic relationship, and realized that I now am in tune with my emotions enough to realize when that emotion is present (and when it's not), and then am quick to voice it, while he disclosed to me that with him, love is something that must develop gradually and make him realize that he would do anything for the person that he professes it to before he could utter the words. Difference between male and female? Perhaps, but I think it is more a difference of background. I want always to have my romantic partners know where I stand in a relationship, so when I recognize that I am at that point, I voice it. He had been in situations where it was voiced, but not shown, so he must make sure he really feels it prior to voicing it.

In short, those are the four versions of love that my heart beats for: parental love, love for my family of origin, friendly (platonic) love, and romantic love. The same three words profess one of these four versions of the love that I feel toward certain individuals. I really enjoy the movie "Made of Honor" where the leading male character tells the leading female character, "You're an 'I love you' say it to everyone!" That about sums me up, too. I say it to many, but now when I say it, it is because it is true, and there is real meaning and emotion behind the words, even if the meanings and emotions vary slightly depending on the person to whom I profess the love. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Storms

Last night I had the privilege of being out in one of nature's most perfect creations--the summer storm. Summer storms are a complete sensory experience, and combine the 4 elements perfectly. To understand the value of something we tend to take for granted, we need to explore our senses and the elements and how they all come into play in this grand display of the power of nature.

The four elements are air, fire, water, and earth. Air comes into play first, using a breeze or wind to usher in the storm and to keep it moving along. As the cooler air of the storm meets the warm stagnant air, fire makes its entrance, sending dazzling whips of lightning across the sky and to the ground, where it combines with earth to make the sound of thunder. Water pours from the sky as rain, and combines with earth to sustain it. All four elements are completely in harmony for the short duration of the storm.

But how do we fully experience the storm and all its wonders? It requires the use of every one of our senses. Smell--Close your eyes and breathe deeply the smell of the warm, damp earth. This is one of life's greatest simple pleasures. Sight--Open your eyes up again and watch as sheets of rain come to the ground and lightning dances across the sky. Simply take in the wondrous sights. Hearing--Listen to the rhythmic pattering of the rain on the earth, interrupted here and there by the boom of the power of nature made manifest in thunder. Taste--Turn your face up to the rain. Allow it to pour over your face. Either catch raindrops on your tongue, or lick them off your lips. Savor the flavor of the storm. Touch--Feel the cool wetness of the rain on your warm skin, and then notice the feel of the breeze as it glides over the water, cooling your body.

Allow yourself to experience all of your senses on alert and in harmony with the elements in the storm. Be a part of nature while you simply experience the storm. Done correctly, it is akin to a state of nirvana, or enlightenment. A total calm, a total peace, a reconnect with nature.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Little Paganism is a Good Thing!

I have given much consideration to religion over the past 6 months (in the time since I left my ex-husband). I have decided that I am a neo-Pagan more than anything. I feel the same quiet peace just sitting out in the middle of the mountains that I did sitting in the Celestial Room of the LDS temple. So what, you may ask, is a neo-Pagan? Well, that encompasses many things. There is a basic belief in karma, that what goes around comes around, and threefold, nonetheless. There is also the belief in magick. Now, I used to place my belief in the priesthood, and have found it to not be a far leap to go to magick. The spells are very much like prayers, only you call upon the elements in addition to any gods/goddesses you'd like to appeal to. The one time I have done a spell, it was a protection spell for a friend who was thrown in jail under false allegations. For the duration of the spell, the power was knocked out in the house. Once I was done, it came back on. And my friend? Released the following day.

If you are still here and reading this, you must have an open mind. Thanks! That brings me to what I actually wanted to blog about. I have been learning about the powers of stones when they are used in healing. I'm experimenting on myself. I have been feeling the draw of the moonstone for a couple of months now. As I researched what the power of the moonstone is, it made sense to me. The moonstone is a woman's stone. When worn on a waxing moon, it is said to help bring love to the wearer, and when worn on a waning moon, it is said to assist in divination. It helps to even out emotions, and aids in regulation of the female menstrual cycle. Having gone through several job changes, a move, an eviction, another move, a separation, and a divorce in the past year, can imagine how my emotions and my cycle were behaving! I was a mess! I am currently wearing the moonstone, and really, I feel a difference in my calm state of mind now, and those around me have noticed a difference. I plan to take my moonstone out under the Honey Moon (the full moon on June 15th this year) and cleanse it in mineral water under the full moon to restore it. It is really helping so far! I'm thrilled!

I have also researched amethyst, and have learned that it is a great stone for healing. A dear friend of mine is suffering severe and frequent migraines, and I am making her an amethyst necklace to help heal her. I am looking forward to seeing how it works for her!

As I learn more about the powers of nature around us (such as in the gemstones mentioned) I will add them to this blog so that others may see how they have worked for me, and will hopefully be able to use them to benefit themselves as well. :) Until then, may all of my readers enjoy good health and peace in their souls!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day

Here's a good, authentic Irish recipe for St. Patrick's Day!  It is great served with a hearty beef stew.  I got this particular one off

Irish Soda Bread
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet or round pan.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda; add the buttermilk and stir briskly with a fork until the dough holds together in a rough mass.

Knead on a lightly floured board for about 30 seconds, then form into an 8-inch round, about 1 1/2 inches thick.

Slash a large about 1/4 inch deep X across the top, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until browned and the X has spread open.

Cool on a rack, and then wrap in a slightly damp towel and let rest on the rack for at least 8 hours.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Story of Irish Endurance

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, I thought I'd share a story of endurance from my own Irish ancestry.  My ancestress Mary Rennie was born and raised in Ireland.  She married James Laird of Scotland, and they were early members of the LDS church.  They decided to come to America to join the other members of the church in Utah.  They packed up what little they could bring.  Mary's treasures were a new suit for James, a beautiful green gown for herself, and a precious baby's layette.  Their son, my ancestor Joseph Smith Laird, was only 7 years old at the time of this voyage.  They came to America by boat, then began the trek overland.  They had joined the ill-fated Willie Handcart Company, which started out too late in the year.  One of the jobs James was given during the trek was to help bury the dead.  Unfortunately, the going was so slow that rations were very scarce, and one morning James felt unable to carry out this duty.  Captain Willie gave James a handful of corn and requested that he eat, then come help bury those who had died during the night.  James looked at his family--his wife Mary, oldest son Joseph, and the other children (the youngest of whom was still an infant who was breastfeeding).  He knew they were hungry, too, so he gave them the corn and went to help.  He recorded in his journal that he was not unbearably hungry for the rest of the journey.  At one of the stops along the way, Mary knew she needed to buy a sugar teat for the baby, since her own milk supply had dried up from lack of nutrition.  To do this, she traded her precious baby's layette for a sugar teat from a captain's wife at the fort.  Treasure #1 of 3 gone.  After the ill-fated group arrived in Utah (and surprisingly, all of the family arrived alive), they settled in the valley.  Not too long afterward, one of the neighboring farmers decided to go on a mission, but didn't have clothes worthy of such a thing, so the Lairds gave him James' suit that brought from Ireland.  They were never repaid.  Treasure #2 of 3 gone.  As the saints built the Salt Lake Endowment House, the request went out among the members for help getting temple clothes.  Mary cut up her beautiful green gown to make temple aprons.  Her final treasure brought with her from Ireland was gone.  She had sacrificed all of her Earthly treasures, but did so without complaint.  More babies were born to the family, but sickness was very unkind in the valley, robbing the Lairds of nearly all of their children.  Mary eventually could no longer handle all of the deaths of her children, and her broken heart succumbed to the desire to join them in death.  Because of the family's endurance of unthinkable trials, however, a part of Tooele and a part of Box Elder County were settled by their descendants.  The LDS population in Utah would not be what it is now without these courageous souls who found their faith in Ireland and followed it to an unknown land, risking, and eventually losing, everything.  Their strong Irish blood runs hotly in my veins, and I am grateful for my Irish heritage, not just on March 17th, but every day.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Prayer

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep 
I Pray The Lord My Shape To Keep. 
Please No Wrinkles, Please No Bags 
And Lift My Butt Before It Sags. 
Please No Age Spots, Please No Grays 
And as For My Belly, Please Take It Away. 
Please Keep Me Healthy, 
Please Keep Me Young, 
And Thank You Lord 
For All That You Have Done..
~Author Unknown