Saturday, June 21, 2008

Garden's up and Growing

Yes, it's my favorite time of the year...just turning the corner from spring to summer, and my Garden is flourishing. If you didn't know already, I love to garden. We always had a garden growing up, in fact I can never remember a time that we didn't have a garden. I was always amazed at the whole process of planting a little seed and watching it turn miraculously into something wonderful.
When I was younger I loved to plant a row of radishes, because from seed to mature radish was like 3 or 4 that I have a little more patience I think tomato's are my favorite. (and of course pumpkins) We don't have ton's of space in our back yard so we made 3 grow boxes on the south side of our house, and we are putting in some raised flowerbeds along the back fence where I think I can sneak a pumpkin in hopefully next year.
I have to blame my mom for my green thumb, she was the driving force in our house to get the garden in, although it seemed that she tried several times to squash (no pun intended) my gardening enthusiasm by making us pull endless weeds (always in the blazing sun when it was 120 deg), and harvest rocks in the spring like they were potatoes. But amazingly somehow it stuck with me. I love to go out every morning and just see how things are one else in the family seems to have much of an interest, with the exception of Sarah, she loves to help me plant and harvest.
The cold weather seemed to last a couple weeks longer than I had hoped so I don't think I'll have tomatoes by July 4th, but we will definitely have zucchini by then.
I'll post updates occasionally so you can see how it goes. Happy Green thumbs!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Car Accident

Whenever the phone rings on Sunday morning It always makes me a little bit nervous, Usually it's someone from church who needs a last minute substitute for their primary or Sunday school class...or the Bishop want's you to talk in Sacrement meeting.

That was the first thing that went through my mind when the phone rang this morning, then I saw that it was Stephen calling, and I thought "whew, It's just Stephen"... however, the first thing he said is "Brady and I were just in an accident"...then all sorts of things went flashing through my mind...horrible things...the one good thing I thought was that at least it wasn't someone else calling to say that Stephen was in an accident...that would have been worse.
After making sure that they were both OK, I had him fill me in on what happened.

Stephen and Brady both work at one of the local golf courses, it's about 20Min's from our house and they take turns driving to save gas...Today it was Brady's turn to drive (they have to work every other Sunday from 5:00 am to 10:00 am, and then work full time during the week) they were on their way home and Stephen had fallen asleep (he was the passenger), unfortunatley Brady fell asleep also...Stephen woke up just after they went off the rode, when he realized what was happening he yelled at Brady, and then noticed they were headed straight for a light pole...Brady woke up and swerved, but it was to late to avoid hitting the pole...they did turn enough that they didn't hit it straight on but they still hit hard on the passenger side.

They both had their seat belts on (all of that yelling at them in the car for the past 18 years to put their seat belts on paid off) If they didn't they probably wouldn't have made it, they were going about 45 mph when they hit the light pole, and it totaled the car.

We feel very blessed that no one was hurt, they were both pretty shaken up, but it will end up being a good experience...allot of life's lessons aren't this painless...we are counting our blessings today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Coconut Cake Mistake

Sometimes you just have to know where to draw the line. I must have a few defective genes somewhere in my makeup because when it comes to baking I sometimes get this overwhelming urge to "Make it from Scratch"... (and when I say make it from scratch I mean I'd have hen's outback laying the eggs if could sneak them past the city ordinances.)

It all started because I saw this show on the food network about how cakes today are just Styrofoam imitations of the "Real" cakes of yesteryear. So I decided last night around 5:00 pm that I was going to make a "Real" Coconut Layer Cake from Scratch.
I sat down and did some research, and made a list of ingredients...and was off to the store for some coconuts, and some coconut extract..(now this is how bad my affliction is...I read that instead of using the "Imitation" coconut extract, that you can make your own "real" extract by soaking freshly grated coconut in some vodka for a couple of was close, but I finally talked myself out of that, and forced myself to settle for the "Imitation" extract)

After getting back from the store, I got my variable speed drill and proceeded to drill out the eye's of the 2 coconuts I'd purchased, and Drained the water out of them for use later. I had read somewhere that you can crack coconuts with relative ease by popping them in the over for 15 in they went...and amazingly it worked really well...the meat pretty much popped right out. I peeled the outer layer off the meat, and ran it through the food processor to shred it...and now I was ready to start, I had my big bowl of freshly shredded coconut...and it was only 6:30 pm.

But, I still couldn't start on the cake batter because the recipe called for coconut milk, and coconut cream, both of which are derived by taking different amounts of freshly shredded coconut and combining it with boiling milk, then letting it sit for 1 hour (7:30) then running the mixture through the blender and then straining out the milk, or cream (8:00)

NOW... I'm ready to start...I have my Coconut water, my home made Coconut Milk, my home made Coconut Cream, my "imitation" Coconut Extract, plus a large bowl of freshly shredded Coconut.

I get the butter and sugar mixing, add the flour, baking powder, salt and the coconut milk and cream...then fold in some menage to make it a nice sponge cake...put it in the pans and pop them in the oven (8:30)....take pans out of the oven (9:10) looking good, let cake cool in pans (9:20) cakes fell from altitude sickness (sigh) worries, we've come this far so I have to finish, let cakes cool (10:00)...Start 7min frosting (that's what its called) and it was pretty close to 7 minutes...This is where I made my next mistake....I should have just used the 2 layers, but I had originally planned on splitting them for a 4 layer cake, but since they fell...I ended up with 2 half layers and some pieces. (10:15) sense in quitting now...frosted the first layer, put pieces together for the 2nd layer frosted that and added the last and final 3rd layer, frosted the whole thing...and finished at 10:30 pm...
So...$16.00 and 5 1/2 hours later I had a nice Coconut "mush" cake...I have to say that if the cake hadn't fallen it would have looked amazing, and I do have to say that it did taste REALLY GOOD, don't know if it was because after all that work I wanted it to taste good or if it really was that good.
Was it worth it...if it had turned out...probably...this go around I'm still debating...

Yes I'll probably make it again, BUT I'm going to buy Pre-Shredded coconut, and see if Walmart carries Coconut milk or cream (I'm thinking one or the other will do) and I'm pretty sure I can get it down to a respectable 2hrs instead of almost 6, I'll have to figure out how to deal with the altitude sickness, a little more flour should cure it.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Aaron's Camp

Every two years the boys have the opportunity to attend a church sponsored, week long "High Adventure Camp". The neat thing about it is that the whole camping experience is designed around gospel principles to help the boys feel the spirit, while at the same time doing all the fun things that boys like to do.

So for the past week it's been pretty quite around our house with just me, Randie, and Sarah...(although Sarah isn't short in making her own fair share of noise sometimes).

The other big difference we noticed is that our food bill dropped WAY DOWN, I have no idea where they put it all. All I know is I buy it, and it just disappears into thin air. I have learned that besides the handful of items that they won't eat...Like Swiss Cheese, etc, that if there is something I want to make sure I can snack on in a few days, I have to hide them in strategic places around the house...then if I don't forget that I've hidden something there, I'm not looking at the bottom of an empty snack box when I get the munchies.

The boys got back this afternoon, and said they had a wonderful time, they did a 12 mile Mountain bike ride, an obstacle course, a High ropes course, (they didn't get to do repelling this year as they got rained out that day), and several other activities.

Every morning they had a devotional, at the end of the camp one of the highlights is the "Solo Experience" (before they leave, the adult leaders have all the parents write a letter to their son(s), and the boys are given the letters at this time) they go out into the woods and find a quite place were they can be alone and read the letters, and think about life for a while....obviously some get more out of it than others, but it is a great time for me as a Father to tell my son's how much I love them, and let them know how proud I am of them.

Because this was Stephen's last year, he was one of the youth leaders, and got to conduct most of the devotionals and give several talks.

It's an amazing thing to watch my son's mature and turn into men... I'm so grateful that they get to have experiences like this....Next year Justin gets to go on the "Pioneer Trek" and I know he's looking forward to that also.