Rhubarb Crunch

19 06 2012

Inasmuch as I feel rhubarb is a very underutilized fruit (vegetable?), I am posting this delicious rhubarb crunch recipe for the enjoyment of all. (Thanks, Grandma!)

Rhubarb Crunch

1 c. flour

3/4 c. oatmeal

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 c. diced rhubarb

1 c. water

2 Tbsp. corn starch

1 c. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Mix flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon. Reserve 2/3 cup of mixture for topping. Pat remaining mixture into a greased 9×9 inch pan. Cover with diced rhubarb.

Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan; cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour sauce over rhubarb and cover with remaining crumbs. Bake at 350° for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

(To make this recipe gluten-free, switch out the flour with your favorite gluten-free blend, and add 1/2 tsp. of xantham gum. Also, make sure you use gluten-free oats.)

 

Bonus points for anyone who knows (without having to look it up) if rhubarb is a fruit or a vegetable.





Leap Day Debate

29 02 2012

These things are better than M&Ms.

If I eat the entire jar, will I only gain 38 ounces?

Do I love Becky or hate Becky for introducing me to cocoa roast goodness? (That’s not really part of the debate, though, since I will always love Becky.)

Have you tried these? And, if so, do you love them as much as I do?





It’s been A Week

29 10 2011

[Post-edit note: this blog post is long and boring. I am apparently too tired to be entertaining. If you want to hear about infusions, by all means read away. If not, you aren’t missing much.]

So let me tell you what’s been going on around here.

A week ago Friday, I had the opportunity to design someone’s wedding flowers. It was fabulous and fun (and I unfortunately neglected to take pictures) and kind of stressful. I mean, it’s only one of the most important days of a person’s life. Get over it, right?

Anyway, I blocked out all of Friday to work on them and ended up spending some time on them Saturday morning as well. I heard the bride was pleased, which is always a good thing.

Later on Saturday, I had rehearsal for a choir I was singing in on Sunday for a special musical fireside for Relief Society. Lots of fun, but lots of kid juggling at the same time.

Sunday was the fireside itself—except I forgot to say I was also playing a bassoon solo. Correct: you don’t hear that every day. I was a little [lot] stressed, seeing as how my performance chops (not to mention my reed) were not exactly up to par. However, it went fine. According to the compliments I received, there are a lot of closet bassoon lovers in my stake. Who knew?

Monday bright and early we dropped off Eden and Colby at my friend’s house (Tami, you are a saint) and took Zack and Rainbow to Seattle Children’s for their tri-yearly pamidronate infusions.

I should probably mention at this point that Zack came home from the neighbors’ house Sunday evening, minutes before I had to leave for the fireside. He said, “I think I broke my hand.” Not exactly the words I like to hear any time, but in particular when I’m already freaking about playing in front of a chapel full of people.

Let me digress here. We get a lot of “I think I broke my fill-in-the-blank” around my house. That general anxiety about breaking bones whenever anything painful happens is part of living with OI. (Maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel like a better mom. You be the judge after you hear this next part.)

I had him wiggle his fingers. I had him bend his hand. It hurt. I asked how it happened.  (He over-rocked on the rocking chair and went forward, catching himself along the the top of his left hand knuckles.) I said, “Well, let’s tape it together and put an ice pack on it and see how it feels in the morning.”

(Okay, yes. I am ashamed.)

When we got to the hospital (way late–thank you 520 Alaskan Viaduct closure or whatever it was), they were able to call up an orthopedist to look at it before we started. He said, “We’ll splint it now so you can do your infusion, then come down for an x-ray.”

We got Rainbow hooked up and going with hardly a squeak. (It was more of a yell: “OWW!”)

Zack, who has extreme anxiety about needles, did famously. During our last infusion, a child life specialist came and helped us come up with a coping plan for him. Unfortunately (especially for how well Zack was doing), they were unable to get a line in. They tried five (5!) times; they got it into a vein each time, but each time Zack’s body went into super-panic mode (fight or flight!) and his veins clenched up and blew the line. FIVE times. Since the infusion takes four hours each day for three days, we decided at that point to call it quits and add another day on the end.

But it wasn’t really quits, because Zack still had to go down and get an x-ray and (because it was indeed broken) a cast. Despite breaking a rather large number of bones in his 11 years, this is first cast.

The next day they put an anti-anxiety med in with his pre-infusion Tylenol. It definitely didn’t seem to help, as he screamed much more and was visually more upset and anxious than the day before, but they were able to get a good line in.

As per usual, I didn’t handle infusion week all that well. Tired, unfocused, and on the cusp of getting an awful cold, I don’t know that I’m ready for Monday and Halloween. I still feel like I’m suffering from a bit of stress-related ADD—I can’t seem to get anything accomplished other than reading books (and that, my friends, isn’t entirely productive).

Mrs. Olsen sent me a lovely package (I should have taken a photo of the goodness) with lots of delectable food stuffs that I have been living off of for two days. Can I just say Pie in a Jar = Heaven ?

This evening I was able to go to the temple, which I must say was a great way to round out the crazy week with some peace.

And the little camera comes through for me again.

Happy Sunday, everyone.





Happiness Requires Effort

27 08 2011

A couple of months ago, my bishop called and asked me to take about ten minutes during our combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting to share my thoughts. The topic? Happiness Requires Effort.

I laughed. Happiness requires effort. Really? All through my preparation, whenever I thought of the topic I would laugh again. I couldn’t decide if he had asked me because I am happy, or because it obviously takes me a lot of effort.

The world may never know.

Anyway, I have been hanging onto these notes, waiting for the perfect time to form these bullet points of happiness efforts into a blog post.

And the time is now.

[Insert “The Eye of the Tiger” here.]

[Wait, is that happy enough? It just seemed to go so well with the line, “And the time is now.” Hmm. Perhaps I’ll re-think the song and get back to it later.]

What I decided, thinking about happiness, is that it’s less like a light switch and more like a continuum. There are days of less happiness and there are days of more happiness, but rarely do I wake up and think, “Man–today I feel happy!” What I tried to do was figure out what I can do to keep my days on the greater happiness side of the continuum.

Here’s what I came up with.

  • Listen to happy music. Whether it be show tunes, a favorite band from high school, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, I attest there is power in music. It has the ability to reach our hearts and change our emotions more than just words alone (which is also why, if you’re feeling a bit gloomy, you should steer clear of the angst-y stuff).
  • Notice things. In the slap-dash, rapid-fire pace of today’s world, it’s easy to forget how amazing the earth is. When we take the time to notice the little things–the way a leaf uncurls in the spring, the way plants make food and oxygen, the way rain sounds as it falls–we’re better able to recognize how some things that seem urgent and important really aren’t.
  • Keep perspective. Whenever I fly out of Seattle, the clouds are a solid gray ceiling. The plane gains altitude and WHAM! We come above the clouds and the sun–the sun is still there. Naturally, I know it’s still there, but it’s easy to forget when you haven’t seen it for weeks (or months) at a stretch. God is in control, even when bad things happen. Maybe especially when bad things happen? Keeping a journal and specifically recording the ways God touches our life, like in this talk, can help remind us of this.
  • Spend time with children. Preferably not your own. (Just kidding! Sort of.) For a little while, focus less on parenting and more on enjoying the unique views that come from those under six years of age. Borrow someone else’s children if you have to, and be sure to ask them lots of questions.
  • Laugh. Together or alone. Watch a movie or read a book (P.G. Wodehouse is a personal favorite of mine–I think every single book he ever wrote has made me laugh out loud [LOL, PG!] more than once). I know it’s totally cliche (or possibly just Readers’ Digest), but laughter really is the best medicine.
  • Work. The feeling of accomplishment you get when finishing a project, whether it be sanitizing your entire kitchen or organizing the junk drawer, will lift your spirits. This I know (even if I don’t speak from first-hand experience about the sanitized kitchen).
  • Exercise and eat right. It’s amazing that what thousands of doctors have been saying for years is true! The first thing I do when I’m feeling crummy is look at my eating habits and my sleeping habits.  When our bodies are physically, mentally, and spiritually well, we’re better able to cope when emotional challenges arise.
  • Do less. We really can’t do it all. Prioritize what time you have and decide what is essential, what is necessary, and what is nice, then act accordingly. Read this talk for more ideas.
  • Serve others. A friend in my ward is fond of saying, “When you’re feeling sad, bake a cake and give it to someone else.” It’s completely true that taking the time and effort to give to someone else lightens our own load. I’m not sure why it works that way–possibly it’s one of those mysteries we’ll find out more about when we get to heaven.
  • Do something you enjoy. And don’t think about all the things you need to be doing and feel guilty about doing something you enjoy instead of those other things. That completely defeats the purpose.
  • Keep the commandments. One of my favorite scriptures is in Mosiah 2:41. “And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”

So there you are–a few bullet points to help you on your way to greater joy on the happiness continuum. As Joseph B. Wirthlin once said, “Yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser, and happier as a result.”

It’s possible. Not easy, but possible.





Saturday is a Special Day

21 08 2011

–and although it’s commonly the day we get ready for Sunday, not a lot of that happened around here this weekend.

I got up early and hit Fred Meyer (Doorbusters coupon!) for back-to-school clothes and school supplies. Then I went to my garden spot, cleaned it up some, and watered. I was very sweaty. I dropped everything right inside the front door when I got home, although I’m not sure why.

I’m sure it was important, though.

Oh, now I remember. I wanted to get the wall painted before Rainbow’s dance recital. Except that became a moot point because I got about 1/3 into it when my friend called and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride.

The day was completely perfect; I could not refuse. Now the question is, can I call myself a biker chick because I’ve finally ridden a motorcycle?

Then there was the getting ready and coordinating and all that jazz for Rainbow’s dance recital that afternoon.

I’m pretty sure she was the cutest little bird ever.

When I got home, I ignored the pile of school supplies by the door and started baking.

My friend talked her sister into letting me cater the cupcakes for her wedding.

It was a bit stressful–I’d hate to have someone think back to their wedding day, “It was so beautiful! (Sigh.) But remember the cupcakes? Ugh.”

Luckily, I think they all turned out okay. And they tasted good, too–that’s what really counts, right?

With the profit from the cupcake factory, I’m going to be able to get a new light fixture for my room re-do. It’ll be dedicated to Jean and Joe-Pete, who made it all possible.

I also managed to get the wall painted, although there are still some touch ups that I need to take care of, plus the stencil over top. I’m a bit nervous about that–it won’t be cool unless it doesn’t look like a stencil, you know? So . . . next week, next week, we’ll finish it all next week.

Seriously. Right after I put away the school supplies.





The Valentine’s Treats that Weren’t

15 02 2011

I had the tags all made.

 But after this (cough-twice-cough):

 

I have decided to save the tags for next year.





Family Food Culture, Part 1

28 12 2010

I’m not sure who coined the phrase ‘Family Food Culture,’ but I’m all for giving props to Mrs. Olsen because that’s where I first heard it. I grew up next door to Mrs. Olsen on Apache Avenue, and if you search her archives you will find some mention of the various forms of torture she performed on her sweet younger sister and her darling friend (that’s me).

Anyway, in one of her posts she talked about the family food culture she had growing up, and the family food culture she has now. It got me thinking. What specific things are a part of my family food culture? What was my family food culture growing up? What is my family food culture now? What affects family food culture? As you can clearly see, I find the whole subject fascinating.

Perhaps it’s because I read Mrs. Olsen’s post knowing–better than pretty much anyone outside of her own family–what her growing up family food culture was like. We were next-door neighbors, her sister was my best friend–we knew each other’s houses as we knew our own. There were certain Anderson things–food things–that I really liked, but we didn’t do them at our house. One of my favorites was crackers, cheese, and sweet pickle relish. I still eat that, but I didn’t learn it at home. I never knew the glory of dipping buttered toast in hot cocoa before Niki taught it to me. And Mrs. Anderson made this carrot-hamburger soup that would simmer all day long. It was delicious. My brain can still smell it.

Of course, I also remember the time Mr. Anderson (who, even now, dwarfs me, but was basically a giant when I was 2 1/2 feet tall) had just eaten beets. He laughed a sort of evil laugh, opened his eyes really wide, and grinned. His teeth were red from the beets, and it really freaked me out. (I still have never eaten beets.)

It’s interesting to remember how definite things were in childhood. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and rolls for Sunday dinner were as solid and immovable as truth, justice, and the American way. It simply was. I didn’t know there was an option for eating something else on Sundays; who would want it, anyway?

As I’ve aged, moved away, and had to myself cook on Sundays, I can tell you my children don’t have that immovable truth, justice, and all that jazz on Sunday afternoons. Their mother is generally so wiped out from surviving church and choir practice they get stuck with leftovers. Or even–gasp!–cold cereal. (In my defense, the one who chooses to eat cold cereal is the one who really likes cold cereal.)

I digress. This isn’t a self-incrimination session, simply a look at food: what I grew up with, what I do now, and why.

Since reading Mrs. Olsen’s post on the subject so long ago (I’m pretty sure it’s been at least a year), I’ve started wondering about it. What did I grow up with as an “Archibald thing?” I’ve thought of a few oddities that I didn’t know were odd at the time.

  • Sugar on pancakes. Instead of syrup, we’d drown our pancakes in melted butter and then shake on the sugar. They’d blend together to form a heavenly butter/sugar crust. WAY better than syrup if you ask me. This is still part of my food culture.
  • Frizzly Dicks. I think this came from my dad’s family, or the name did. When you have leftover buns that start to get stale, butter them and stick them under the broiler until nice and frizzled. I still make these, although my kids don’t love them as much as I do. And I stopped using the cool name after one of my sisters-in-law pointed out that, well, “frizzly dicks” is easily (and unfortunately) misconstrued.
  • Honey toast. Here’s what you do: make toast. Slather on butter and honey (preferably the really thick, creamy kind from Cox’s), sprinkle with straight cinnamon, and broil until bubbly. This was a ‘special treat’ when we were kids, and my mom would cut each piece into four squares. Even as adults, we refuse to eat it unless it is cut in four. This is still a special treat at Grandma’s; I don’t think I’ve ever made it.
  • Orange rolls. My mom makes the best orange rolls ever. I make them once a year, for Thanksgiving, and can never get them quite as good as hers. (Perhaps if I practiced more often?) However, I’m always comforted by the fact that the people I eat Thanksgiving dinner with haven’t tasted hers. I’m safe for now.
  • Lamb. My mom’s family have always had sheep, and so we absolutely followed the “eat lamb, wear wool” adage at our house. I haven’t kept this up in my own family food culture because, shoot–lamb is expensive. And delicious. I ordered lamb at a restaurant once and was sorely disappointed; they just didn’t make it right. And the crazy mint sauce they had with it made completely no sense to my down-home taste buds. Good gravy, my mom makes good gravy!
  • That can be its own bullet point: GRAVY! There is an art in making gravy, and my mom definitely has it.
  • Homemade white bread. One of the sounds of my childhood is the distinct thwap the dough would make as my mom slapped it to make sure all the bubbles were out.
  • Cookies. I could write an entire chapter on cookies. Chocolate chip. Cream wafers. Sugar cookies. Snickerdoodles. Gingersnaps. Oatmeal. I took for granted that all moms knew how to make cookies. It was just something moms did, like hanging clothes on the line and baking bread and putting patches in the knees of your pants when they got holey. (Mom, have I thanked you lately?)
  • Waffles. I know lots of people eat waffles, but on special days we would eat them with melted butter (filling up every square), homemade raspberry jam, and whipped cream. Heaven on a plate.

I could probably go on. Hamburger rolls. Meatloaf. Cubed steak (or is it cube steak?). No-peeky chicken. Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Enough about me, though. What was unique to your food culture growing up?