Monday, August 31, 2015

Missionary Monday

Today I am feeling especially grateful for my friends. Now that the summer is over, my friend pool is pretty much dried up. Its sad to see the girls group message down to only four people. It's easy to say I have more pen pals than everyday friends now! But every Monday my email inbox is filled with miracle stories of how these amazing people are teaching the gospel around the world. Just in this picture, there are 10 different languages being learned and spoken in many foreign countries. I don't think anyone could have friends that are such good examples. 
A few weeks ago, I was driving down the road in my car, and on came a radio talk show discussing friendships. I'm usually not the one to listen to these, but this one caught my attention. They were having people call in and talk about their friend group and how long they had been together. One lady called in and told the radio host that her friend group had been together since kindergarten. I was surprised to realize that mine was the same! Ever since Mrs. Graham's kindergarten class, I have been friends with these kids. They have always been there to support me and teach me through their good examples. I would not be the same person without my friends. 
Every boy in this picture is on a mission, and four out of the seven girls have left too. Although some of us girls have not gone, we strive each day to be examples of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We truly are as the army of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth. And we ARE the Lord's missionaries who bring the world him truth. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Home Canned Pickles

Family reunions at Grandma's house wouldn't be the same without home canned pickles. I'm 97.8% positive I fill up on pickles before I sit down at the table to eat dinner every time.  The pickle plate is never left empty on the counter. These pickles are AMAZING. Someday all of my siblings and cousins will be praising my name because I documented how to make our beloved family pickles. 

Pickling cucumbers (we love a range of sizes)
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
1 pinch alum
1 head of dill (steam and seeds)
1 Tablespoon sugar (heaping)
1 Tablespoon salt (sparing)
Apple Cider Vinegar

1) Scrub pickling cucumbers until smooth. 
2) In clean, wide mouth quart jars, add garlic, bay leaves, alum, dill, sugar, and salt.  
3) Squeeze as many pickles as you can into each jar. Fill each jar half full of water and half full of apple cider vinegar.  
4) Place jars in pot with grate on bottom.  Fill pot with water up to necks of jars.  Bring water to a boil and process (small rolling boil) for 20 minutes. 
5) Remove from pot and let cool.  After 24 hours, check to see if cans are sealed (lids should not flex up and down when lids pressed). Write date on lids. Store in a cool, dry place.  
6) Enjoy after 6 months of pickling. They last 2-3 years.    

Step Two

Step Three

Step Four

Step Five

Mom's Famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Right now I am sitting at our mud room desk, watching my mother mow the lawn with our push mower, because why use gas when you can push it yourself, right?  Even after breaking her ankle a couple weeks ago, my mom won't give up her motherly duties.  She wrapped her cast in a plastic bag to keep her boot clean as she does the "dirty work" out in the yard.  How does one women learn to accomplish so much in one day?  Hopefully she will spill all of her secrets to me when I become a mom. I have a feeling when that day comes, she will tell me that these cookies make each member of our family a whole lot happier.

Our dog Loey can smell these things from a mile away! It's hilarious! She comes running and always gets a taste because, how can you stand that cute face?

Every visitor that comes into our house either asks for a cookie or receives a handful of them, or both. I have friends who walk directly to the refrigerator when they visit.  Everyone knows that they will find a bag of some of the yummiest cookies on that refrigerator shelf.  We make these cookies every week at least once twice. Here's how to make our family favorite!

Mom's Famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups (3 cubes) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons of vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 teaspoon powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup wheat germ (optional, makes them less greasy and adds a yummy flavor)
3 cups quick oats
Semisweet and milk chocolate chips
Chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar.  Stir in vanilla, eggs and wheat germ. Sift together flour, soda, powder, and salt.  Add flour mixture and oatmeal. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet for about 9 minutes until golden. Do not over bake. We usually take them out while still soft and let them finish cooking on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A Letter To My Little Sister

High school has begun and with that came a lot of unhappiness from my little sister Savanna and all of the kids around the block. No one wanted summer to end, especially the blonde haired junior living in our house.  With homework to do and little time to spare, my mother and I decided it would be nice to give Savanna something to remind her how much we love and appreciate her.  So up to the Sundance General Store we went (this is where I work), to get her a little something special.

To be honest, my high school years were the greatest school years of my life (well, so far). I was blessed with a close friend group, and good examples.  As my senior year rolled along, I tried my best to be a good example to all of the younger students around me.  I wanted to show them just how awesome they could make high school too.  After talking to my mother about Savanna's school starting, she asked me to write advice for the younger high school kids in her Sunday School class.  I've decided to share this list on my blog for two reasons, 1) so that my sister can share this with her peers, and 2) so that I can share this advice with everyone I know, whether they are young or old. A lot of these things will help people at whatever stage they are in.  

-Say hi to everyone.
-Learn people’s names and use them.
-Write thank-you notes; carry sticky notes wherever you go and put them on peoples lockers and cars.
-Be kind, especially to yourself.
-Never say no to a date, no matter what. I don’t care how awkward or weird it’s going to be.  I went with my boyfriend’s younger brother to prom, beat that, I dare you!
-Always thank the bus driver.
-Compliment a new student every day.
-Turn up the music in your car and jam out, it’s good for your soul and for the soul who is watching you at the light.
-Learn to be a good listener.
-Don’t liter.
-Buy lemonade from those cute little kids on the sidewalk.
-Make a list of the things you love; the smell of rain, walking through crunchy leaves, fry sauce, anything!
-Make a goal to know everyone in your graduating class by the end of your senior year.
-Keep your word, and keep the secrets that have been trusted with you.
-JUST DO IT, you only go through high school once, you need to be able to look back and make fun of the stupid things you did.
-Sit near the front of the class.
-Get to know your grandma and grandpa.
-Always thank the host and the host’s parents (it’s likely that they supplied the food).
-Always go out like you are going to see your worst enemy or your old boyfriend/girlfriend.
-DANCE, I don’t care if you look like an idiot, it’s better than sitting on the bench.
-Remember everyone’s birthday, ask before it comes up and put it on your calendar.
-You are never too old to need your mom, give her a call.
-Can’t decide if you should shower? Just do it. The opposite sex likes it when you shower, just trust me.
-Learn how to drive stick shift.
-Never look at your phone during dinner.
-Remember that some people are having a really bad day, try and see if you can change it for them.
-Make other people smile.
-When someone tries to gossip, just change the subject, you don’t need to be rude, that won’t help.
-Learn how to do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. Play that instrument, bike down that super steep hill, learn how to make stir fry.
-Say “I love you” to your parents and grandparents, I promise you won’t regret it.
-Be cool to the young kids, they will look up to you.
-Look into people’s eyes; they are the windows to their soul.
-Always offer to help.
-Have your mom teach you how to cook your favorite meal that she makes.
-Make time for your parents on your birthday, it’s a special day for them too.
- Make a goal to eat lunch with your friends after high school, become those old people at kneaders.
-Be a proud American, this nation is truly amazing.
-If you have to fight, you’re allowed to hit back on the third punch (don’t tell your mom I told you that).
-Keep the dress code, everyone appreciates it.
-Don’t like someone’s music? Don’t say anything.
-You can’t expect a good score if you don’t study.
-Let the person with one item go in front of you at the grocery store.
-An old person once said that if we threw all of our problems into a pile with everyone else’s, we’d quickly grab ours back.  Don’t feel bad for yourself, you are strong, I promise.
-Go outside for at least an hour every day.
-Don’t act like everyone else; the cool people are the different people, you will realize this when you get out of high school, just believe me.
-Smile at yourself in the mirror every morning.
-Obey your parents, they see the big picture and they only want what is best for you (I swear they aren’t trying to ruin your life).
-Save your money.
-Be sore, it’s a good thing.
-Learn when to shut your mouth and when to speak up.
-Take a lot of pictures, not of yourself.
-If something is broke learn how to fix it.
-Go to school with a cupcake and surprise someone random (but seriously do this).
-Don’t listen to your earphones while in the halls. Talk to people, give high fives to friends, and smile at someone you’ve never seen before.
-Make a bucket list.
-Know the faces on your money.
-Hug everyone.
-By the time you are a senior you should know every face in the halls, if you don’t, introduce yourself, they might be a new frightened sophomore who needs some help, and trust me, they will feel super cool talking to you.
-Remember you are never too old to listen to Disney songs.
-Always be kind. ALWAYS.
My mom and I finally decided to get my little sister a necklace with a letter charm and a piece of turquoise. So she will always remember to be her kindhearted self.

You are the greatest little sister ever. You never cease to amaze me with your loving, thoughtful heart.  I know school is not the most enjoyable thing, but you will be such a good example to all the kids around you. I promise if you do these things you will be a light. I can see you now, sitting in your cap and gown at graduation, realizing that you learned more in high school than you ever imagined you would.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Canning String Beans

Much like my tomato soup fetish, I have a hard time swallowing any string beans that aren't home canned. And the best part about this recipe is that these are a very simple canned food. Only salt, water, and string beans go into these jars. You can feel good about serving and eating these healthy and delicious vegetables. So pull out your quart jars and pressure cooker, and before you know it you'll have string beans for the whole family.   

Canning String Beans in 10 Easy Steps

picking our homegrown string beans
 Step One: Snap off ends of beans.

Grandma snapping string beans
Step Two: Fill up sink with cold water. Cut beans into 1/2 to 1 inch lengths and wash in sink.

Step Three: Using a funnel, fill quart jars with cut and washed beans (squeeze as many as possible up to bottom of the neck).
Step Four: Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt to each jar and fill jar with water (up to the bottom of the neck).  

Step Five: Top jars with lid and rim (no need to boil lids).
Step Six: Fill pressure cooker with 2 quarts of water. Place filled jars filled on grate in pressure cooker, and close lid tightly, (be sure to read your pressure cooker instructions).

Step Seven: When you can hear water boiling, cover the seam nozzle with cap (that's the black thing) and watch until pressure reaches 10 psi in cooker. 
Step Eight: Maintain 10 psi for 25 minutes by altering heat on the stove (add more heat if psi is dropping, and lower heat if climbing too high). 

Step Nine: After 25 minutes, turn off stove and take off steam cap.  Wait until the cooker reads 0 psi (this will take a while, do not open until at 0 psi). 

Step Ten: Unlock lid and take out jars.  After 24 hours, check to see if cans are sealed (lids should not flex up and down when lids pressed).

Hooray! Now you have some lovely, healthy green beans to pour in a pot and heat up on the stove for an easy side dish, or to add to soups and salads.  Be sure to store in a cold, dry place. 
Let me know if you have any questions!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup

Flash back to freshman year, winter semester. I had just gone grocery shopping and tomato soup sounded really good. I popped my Campbell's tomato soup into the microwave and made a gooey grilled cheese sandwich. 

Now confession time, I had never had tomato soup that wasn't homemade (eek I know, what a freako). But, let's just say my Campbell's soup went cold and ran down the drain (why do little kids love that stuff so much?). 

This is what real tomato soup is supposed to taste like people. This recipe is amazing! I'm not sure how my mother learned this sorcery but let me tell you, everyone should know about it! This is the best tomato soup EVER. I promise it'll rock your world and leave you wanting more.

Roasted Tomato Soup
10 medium tomatoes
3-5 garlic cloves
6 fresh leaves of basil
Olive oil
3 medium carrots
1 medium white onion
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1) Wash and cut off tops of around 10 tomatoes and place in broiler pan or Pyrex pan, skin up. Peel 3-5 cloves of garlic and place in pan. Add fresh basil into pan with tomatoes and garlic. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and garlic.
2) Put pan in oven at 425° F for 30 minutes (until tomatoes are roasted and skin splits).
3) Take out of the oven and let cool.  Peel off tomato skins.
4) Chop 1 medium yellow onion and 3 medium carrots into a medium dice.  In your soup pot, saute onion and carrot in oil olive until carrots are tender. 
5) Add all of your tomatoes (and juice from pan) and use a hand blender (or pour in a food processor) to puree together tomatoes, onion, and carrots.  
6) Add about 2 cups of chicken broth (depending on desired consistency), then add around 1/3 cup heavy cream.  Salt and pepper to taste and top with fresh basil. 


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Three Layer Golden Chocolate Cake


This has been a family favorite ever since I can remember. You can count on my big brother, Wyatt to always ask for this cake on his birthday, and everyone else too! This recipe comes from our old, beloved Hersey's 1934 Cookbook (I have dibs on this family heirloom).

This cake is seriously so good! I wish I could explain it, but it's too hard... You just have to try it to believe me!

Some tips on this scrumptious dessert:
-Don't over bake.  Check the sides when cooking (they should be golden), use a toothpick (it should come out clean).
-We use 9 inch rounds for a two layer cake.  If you want three layers, use 8 inch round pans and make sure you use parchment paper (they will be very fragile when taking out of the pans). We always put parchment paper in the bottom of our cakes, it makes them so much easier to get out of the pans.
-Be sure to fold in the egg whites and don't over mix (it will make the cake stiff).

Hershey's Three Layer Golden Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2  cup shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
5 eggs (separated)
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift the granulated sugar and powdered sugar together in a large bowl. Cream well with shortening and butter. Add the egg yolks and beat well. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with the milk and vanilla to the creamed mixture. Beat the egg whites until sift and fold into the batter. Pour into 3 greased and floured (or greased and lined with parchment paper) 9-inch round cake pans, and bake at 350° F for 20 to 30 minutes.  Frost with Three Layer Chocolate Buttercream Icing.

Three Layer Chocolate Buttercream Icing
5 squares baking chocolate (unsweetened)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
3 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt the baking chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water. Cream the butter, egg yolks and vanilla and slowly add baking chocolate. Add sugar until proper consistency for spreading.
Yield: 2 1/2 cups of icing, enough for three-layer 8 or 9 inch cake.