Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Time

It is so nice for us when family comes to visit, and we were so glad that my Brother Ron and his family could make the long drive and spend Thanksgiving with us. It brings back all those memories of growing up together. We spent some time trying to cast my Eagle sculpture, unfortunately it ended up being more of a lesson in what not to do, but at least next time I should be able to get it right.

We pushed the sofa back and resurrected the Ping Pong table from the garage, and had some pretty intense Ping Pong matches, especially between me and Ron and the boys. We also hit the Lanes and decided that whoever lost the last bowling match would have to do dishes. Fortunately I was doing really well and Ron was right behind me....It come down to Stephen and Justin in the last Frame, and Stephen won by 1 point on the last ball.

We also went and saw the new movie "Twilight" which turned out to be pretty good...If you read the book, it stayed pretty much on course, and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Sonya took over the cooking for one night and I will have to bug her to send me the recipe for her Alfredo sauce, it turned out really well. Happily there was leftovers which I will be enjoying tonight. She and Randie also got to spend a little time together doing some "Outlet" shopping.

We all braved the dangers of "Black Friday" and were able to somehow get up at 3:30 am so we could save a few dollars on Miscellaneous items that will go unnamed for right now. We had gone through the Ad's the day before and decided that we wanted to hit Circuit City...not realizing that they were going out of business. We pulled into the parking lot at 4:00 in the morning, and there wasn't another person in sight..(crickets chirping in the background) after reading the sign on the door we realized why, and headed over to Radio Shack where we had slightly better luck. Stephen, Justin, Alyssa, Jonathan and Mathew braved the crowds at Walmart and managed to come up with the wanted items. There was a small casualty when Stephen hit a patch of Ice and couldn't stop before hitting the curb, we have a few minor repairs (hopefully minor) that we will be looking into this next week. I'm sure the Lord got a chuckle when just before they hit Justin came up with the quote "Jesus take the wheel" they weren't in any mortal danger I think the Lord found it more prudent that they learn a lesson to GO SLOWER on ice, than intervening.

I just want to say thanks again to Ron and his family for braving the Elements (there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground when they left this morning, and it was still falling) and for taking the time to come out and spend time with us here in the Springs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Best Darn Turkey Ever

My wife tells me that I turned 44 this year, and I have no reason to doubt her, I tend to loose track myself. A few years ago I thought for sure that I was 42 and then learned that I was actually 43... (Somehow I lost a whole year in there), anyway I guess I've been around long enough to have eaten my fair share of turkeys.

I have always pictured myself as an "amazing" chef, the truth is probably closer to periodic flashes of culinary genius, and the rest of the time everyone is happy because it's edible.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are great excuses to deviate from the norm in search of inspired gastronomic delights, and cooking Mr. Turkey has become a personal challenge for me to see if I can improve on the previous year.

When we first got married it wasn't really that hard to "one up" the previous year...I mean when your turkey comes out half raw, it's not that hard to make sure it's at least cooked all the way through the next year. (almost lost my turkey cooking rights over that one, but in my defense I didn't know that an 18-20 pound piece of bird muscle frozen rock solid takes 3 days to thaw)

So over the years I've tried different spices,fruits,vegetables, Basting, not Basting, cooking bags, stuffed, unstuffed, you name it I've probably tried it. A few years ago the "Injector" opened up several new doors, and I was turning out some pretty tasty birds. But this year was definitely the best yet. I mean when you can't wait to go to bed at night so you can wake up and have a turkey sandwich for breakfast the next morning that's got to mean something (I'm choosing to ignore comments made to the effect that it means I'm just crazy)

So in an effort to improve Thanksgiving feasts everywhere, and spread delicious turkey throughout the world, I'm sharing the recipe.

This recipe was posted on Recipe Zaar by Mirj Ra'anana, I made a few minor alterations but for the most part it is intact. (Thank you Mirj, and also thanks to my Brother Ron who was visiting with his family this year for serving as sous chef.)

Honey Brined Herb Roasted Turkey

1 fresh frozen whole turkey, thawed or fresh frozen whole turkey
8-10 quarts water
2 cups kosher salt
1 cup honey
3-4 teaspoons fresh coarse ground black pepper
10-12 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bunches fresh thyme
1 bunch fresh sage
4-5 cups chicken stock
2-3 lemons
2-4 teaspoons olive oil

  1. Remove giblets and neck from turkey, reserve for gravy. Rinse turkey with cold running water and drain well. Blot dry with paper towels. (I personally don't save the giblets, some people like my mother like them, If the economy continues to deteriorate maybe I will learn to like them)
  2. Prepare brine by mixing water, honey and salt in a large bowl. Stir until honey dissolves. Add half the thyme and sage along with the garlic and black pepper. Set aside. Add chicken stock. (My stock pot apparently only holds just over 8 quarts of water, I had a 14lb turkey and 8 quarts was plenty...If your cooking a 22lb turkey you are going to need a HUGE pot...just giving fair warning here). I would definitely recommend getting the fresh herbs if you can find them. Walmart had fresh thyme, and it was Really nice, I had to settle for dried sage, but will be on the lookout next year for some fresh sage. also when peeling the garlic I used a spatula to squash the cloves first, which made peeling them much easier, and helped release some of the garlic flavor.
  3. Line an extra-large stock pot with a food-safe plastic bag. Place the rinsed turkey in the bag and pour brine over the turkey. Gather the bag tightly around the turkey, causing the turkey to be surrounded by the brine. Seal the bag and refrigerate the pot, bag and brined turkey for at least 12 hours. (Yes I'm going to have to get a bigger pot...I had about 3 inches of brine and turkey sticking out above my pot, either that or that 22lb turkey in my freezer is just going to have to stay there)
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350°F Remove turkey from brine and pat dry inside and out. Discard brine. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large shallow (about 2 1/2" deep) roasting pan. (I just used the good old American aluminum foil turkey pan)
  5. Squeeze lemon juice into the main turkey cavity. Put the squeezed lemon halves into the cavity along with the rest of the thyme and sage. Coat turkey lightly with oil and sprinkle inside and out with salt, pepper. (Since my turkey was only 14lbs I only used 2 lemons, after brushing it with oil I also melted a cube of butter and injected it into the breast. I did not add any additional salt since it had been soaking in brine, and based on the final result think it was a good idea...tasted perfect.)
  6. Insert an oven safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful the pointed end of the thermometer does not touch the bone. Roast turkey, basting with poultry stock every half hour or so. (I used the same roasting bag that I used to brine the turkey to cook it in, and since I had injected it with butter opted not to baste this year)
  7. Loosely cover with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, remove foil during last hour and a half of cooking time. Continue to roast until thermometer registers 180°F in the thigh, or 170°F in the breast. (I did cover the top with foil, especially since I wasn't basting.)
  8. Remove turkey from the oven and allow it to cool for 15-20 minutes before carving.

Good luck all my fellow Turkey cookers, and I hope this turns out as well for you as it did for me...I know I will be using this recipe from now on...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Horse Mural

Just before I decided I wanted to try sculpting, I had decided that it would be fun to paint a mural...I talked with Randie to see if there was a chance she was secretly dieing to have a mural in our house and just hadn't ever mentioned it to me before...come to find out she wasn't, but she wasn't entirely opposed to the idea, and we discussed possible walls that might serve as my canvas. Randie mentioned that Sarah was really into horses right now, and maybe I could paint a horse mural in her room

That was all the encouragement that I needed and I immediately started looking at horse pictures to get some inspiration. (I have to stop for a minute and say how wonderful my wife is, she is always willing to humor me in my hair brained ideas, and visions of someday being a great artist.) After viewing several horse pictures and deciding how big to make it etc...I got to work.

I wanted to try and keep it fairly simple and decided to only use 3 colors, White, Black and Brown....It ended up that the brown just didn't seem to work, and I did the whole thing in Black and White.

Shortly after starting it, I decided I also wanted to try my hand at Sculpting, and was torn each night whether to spend the hour I had dedicated to the Mural or to Sculpting (usually the Sculpting won out)

I have to say that Randie was VERY patient with me about getting the Mural done, and I will be the first to admit that I get sidetracked with my hobbies very easily. It's like the farmer that gets up in the morning to feed the chickens, and on his way out notices that the gate squeaks, so he goes to the barn and gets some oil to fix the gate, and after fixing the gate notices that the kids left their toys in the driveway....and about 3 hours later the chickens get fed.

Anyway...I finished the mural this morning (I took the week off for Thanksgiving). Here are a couple of pictures of the finished product.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I bounce between hobbies like a super ball on steroids....about a month ago I decided I wanted to be a sculptor (I use the term loosely). The closest I've ever gotten to sculpting I think was about 6-7 years ago when Sarah got a Play-Doh Fun Factory set for Christmas, it has the plastic thing that looks kind of like a garlic press, and lets you press the clay through different templates. (I think I spent more time unplugging the press than actually playing with it)

Anyway, for my birthday I got a video on how to was pretty good and talked about the different clays, and tools that you would need plus some good pointers on shaping the clay etc. So I went out and got some basic tools and some clay and I was ready to start...I decided that I wanted to do a Golden Eagle Head (Heaven knows there aren't enough eagle statues around) I went out on the Internet and found some pictures to use as a reference and I was ready to go.

I think all in all it took me about 2 weeks to finish, working on it an hour or two a night. Turns out that I'm a pretty good sculptor (at least with birds). Here are a few pictures I took when I almost had it done.

Since it turned out so well, I wanted to keep it, so I started researching how to create a mold so I could cast it... There was quite a bit to learn and It was actually pretty make a long story short, I was able to create the mold, and am at the point where I'm almost ready to make my first casting (fingers are crossed) I'll let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Proposition 8

I have watched with great interest the backwash of Proposition 8 as I'm sure many of you have also... and I have been greatly saddened by the actions of those who chose to oppose this measure. I honestly thought that our country was past this type of behavior.

I think that people take for granted the freedoms that we have in this country, and in so doing they start to think that just because they want something bad enough they should be able to have it, and if for some reason they can't, then all of a sudden their rights are being violated, No one ever said that you have the right to do whatever you want...that is not Freedom.

Freedom was never a blanket statement or ideal that allows you to do or say whatever you want whenever you want. There have always been checks and balances that "Limit" our freedom, which is why laws were established, to help us govern the use of the freedoms we enjoy...the laws "protect" the freedoms we have, and without them things would quickly turn into a chaotic nightmare. God has always had laws, and man has followed that pattern.

Think for a minute what would happen if all the traffic laws were suddenly removed, with no laws to limit your driving, you would literally be taking your life in your own hands anytime you got in your car. It would be total chaos, in reality the laws that seem to limit your freedom, are what actually give you more freedom.

Proposition 8 wasn't about "taking away" any ones freedoms, it was about defining what the institution of marriage is. God gave us the agency to allow us to govern ourselves, and he also instituted marriage as a union between a man and a woman... "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Why would we want to tamper with something that has been instituted as a proven pattern since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden.

I have some gay friends at work, they are good people, but to my knowledge they haven't "lost" any freedoms, they can still legally live together, they still have all their health and retirement benefits, and all the freedoms that I enjoy, so exactly what "freedoms" are they losing... the ONLY thing they can't do is say they are married, and that is because marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman.

I have seen some of my friends that are single parents, and the struggles that they have to overcome to raise their kids. How can gay or lesbian couples, (no matter how well intentioned they are) provide the male or female perspective that is missing in their relationship to children they choose to raise.

Our nation is made up of definitions, and whatever I want to be in life, I have to modify my self to fit that particular definition...there are reasons for those definitions... Proposition 8 is not just about preserving the sanctity of marriage, it goes much deeper than that, it's about preserving the family, creating strong family's creates strong communities, which creates a strong nation.

Will Gay marriage eventually be legalized...It's quite possible...will I be rioting in the streets, and vandalizing Gay people's property...absolutley not.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is Portugeuse the same as Spanish

Stephen received his mission call in the mail today...He will be going to MACIEO BRAZIL, He is pretty excited. Brazil has it's own Mission Training Center in Sao Paulo and he will be flying directly there from here. He leaves February 18 and will be serving for 24 months.

Here are some pictures and a map of his mission that came with his call, we will keep you updated as we receive more information