Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Of Nuts and NUTS

O.K., I am a little confused. Am I missing something with the whole Costco craze? I don't get it. I just purchased my first Costco card (so I could get nuts--not that we don't already have enough in our family!) and went on Saturday to check the store out. To my surprise, every single parking spot was taken, so I ended up circling the lot a couple of times then went home, thinking I would try again on a weekday, since Saturday was obviously not the day to go. So, I tried again today. When I got there shortly before 10:00, the parking lot was only half full. However, there was a huge crowd of people milling around outside the store, shopping carts already in hand. I discovered I had gotten there 10 minutes before the store opened. I figured that since the place is obviously so popular, the prices on stuff must be amazing. I wandered the isles looking for these incredible deals and....nothing... Everything I looked at seemed more expensive then Wal-mart, and the produce there, which I've heard was wonderful, looked about the same as what I would get at the health food stores I shop at, only again, more expensive. I guess a couple things were slightly cheaper...milk, by a few cents, butter, the same...but not enough to be worth the membership, in my opinion. Again, the nuts I think are a decent price there, but I couldn't see what the big draw is for other items. I am very curious, so if any of my readers are big Costco fans, please enlighten me! Are there amazing deals on some items I am not aware of? Let me know, please!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Of Boring Ol' S'mores and the World's Best Hot Chocolate

O.K., I wanted to share a couple of great "accidental" treats we have fallen in love with recently.

The first is S'mores. "S'mores?" you may be wondering, "but s'mores are nothing special." Yes, but these are no ordinary s'mores, no sir! I have always thought the original s'mores were alright, but really, I could take them or leave them. I'd almost prefer just to eat the chocolate plain and not bother with the crackers or marshmallows. That has all changed as of a short time ago. Let me explain. We have a gas fireplace in our apartment, which we use frequently, and a couple of weeks ago for Family Home Evening treat the kids wanted to roast marshmallows on it and make s'mores. We were out of graham crackers, so I substituted Ritz. OH SO GOOD! WAY better, in my humble opinion, then the old fashioned graham cracker deal! There is just something about that delicious buttery crunchiness with the chocolate...mmmm. It reminds me of soda cracker candy almost, which is another of my holiday favorites.

The second treat is my self-proclaimed World's Best Hot Chocolate recipe, which no one knows about besides our little family! That must be remedied! The world must know what they are missing out on. Just as an aside, I don't understand people who won't share recipes because they are "family secrets." I mean, I can understand that with restaurants, but seriously, why, if you have an amazing family recipe, would you want to hog it all to yourself? Do you want people to invite themselves over to your house any time they get a craving for it? You might get a lot of unwelcome company that way! But sorry, I digress. It's just that I was thinking about someone who I want some recipes from who says the recipes are secrets. I wonder if I could wow him with this chocolate recipe and tell him it's a secret, and I'll only divulge it in exchange for one of his recipes! Hmmmm...I'll have to try that!

Anyway, so my hot chocolate recipe is actually based on a chocolate sauce recipe that has been a favorite on my Mom's side of the family for several generations. Seriously, most of us could drink the stuff by the gallon, it is that good. In fact, it is rumored that one of the aunts once actually made several gallons of this chocolate sauce at one time, supposedly due to a slight miscalculation involving one of the key ingredients, but that is a story for another time. I will say however, that I have my doubts as to whether this was truly accidental. Anyway the story behind this Hot Chocolate is that the kids wanted some chocolate milk one day, but we had no chocolate syrup with which to make it. (I find the Hershey's stuff quite disgusting, to be honest, so I don't buy it often.) I did however, have a small amount of this homemade chocolate sauce in a jar in the back of my fridge, so I decided to just try that and see how it tasted. It was AMAZING! Thus was born, the World's Best Hot Chocolate. Try it and you will see why it is capitalized! (-;

The recipe is as follows:

2 cubes butter (no wonder it is so good!)
2 cups sugar
3 T. cocoa powder

Melt these ingredients in a saucepan until the lumps are out of the cocoa, then add one can of evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add a teaspoon of vanilla.

I like this recipe because it is simple and uses ingredients I usually have on hand. I don't have to go out and buy cream or something.

Anyway, to make the chocolate milk or hot chocolate, just add this sauce in to taste, and there you go! Leave a comment if you try it, and let me know what you think!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Of Shrimpy Shrimp

I don't much care for shrimp. They are weird looking, for starters, and they're pink. I don't like eating pink critters. Plus, they taste....shrimpy.

Maile, on the other hand, LOVES them. Curtis took her to some party where she had a taste, and now every time we go grocery shopping and we pass the seafood isle, she asks for some. Finally, I gave in and bought her a box of breaded shrimp (the pinkness is more hidden) to share with Curtis and whoever else wanted to try some. After I fried them up, she became the resident expert on shrimp, and it was so cute listening to her instructing Arden in the finer points of shrimp cuisine. ("Make sure you don't eat the tail--it's a bone!")


I had a darling roommate my second semester in college who would always speak in acronyms. I don't remember many of them, but one oft repeated acronym she would use (and by oft I mean every single night for the entire semester) I remember particularly well: DFTSYSP. Don't Forget To Say Your Secret Prayers.

I am proud to say I have made up my very own acronym, which has quite a nice ring to it if I do say so myself. It is "FLINDY." I intend to repeat it to myself over and over as occasion warrants. I am hoping it will have a calming effect on me. It stands for "Frontal Lobe Is Not Developed Yet." Can you guess which kid of mine will provide ample opportunities to use my new acronym?!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Of Hills of Beans

So, something interesting about living in Utah or Idaho where there are large Mormon populations is that we are big believers in having a food storage. In fact, for decades our prophet(s) have encouraged us to obtain a years supply of food. That means, whenever a good sale on any sort of food item occurs, LDS people typically buy large amounts to stock up. The grocers in Utah and Idaho know this, so they have boxes and cases of the item conveniently stacked up so people can just grab an entire box/case of whatever. Also, they usually have the canning supplies in a very visable location as well. Of course, Mormons often get teased for this propensity to "hoard" food. I hold no hard feelings for the teasing though. I suppose this practice would seem a little odd to those not of our faith. I wish more people would do it though. Why is it that we have so many different types of insurance--health, car, renters, homeowners, etc.--but people don't have food insurance?! What if you lose your job and have no money? All the time I hear stories of LDS folks (Mormons) to whom that has happened and who have had to live off their food storage, and boy were they grateful they had it! What if a drought occurs and food prices skyrocket? We already know that the price of commodities is on the rise. Wouldn't we be grateful if we had a bunch of the basics stored, so our food bill doesn't become astronomical?! What if there is some sort of oil crisis (which very well could happen!) and the trucking industry is affected? I don't think it would take that much for something like that to actually happen. We saw food prices go way up a couple years ago when diesel prices were getting out of control. Another thing, and this has haunted me. A couple years ago I read an article online quoting this Dad, who was so angry at the government because after a natural disaster that occurred in his hometown, the only thing he had in the fridge for his hungry kid was a coke. Can you believe it? This guy expected and felt entitled to help from the government in providing food for his kid because he had neglected to even have a few extra groceries on hand to prepare for something like that. Wouldn't we feel like loser parents if we had nothing to give our kids to eat in this kind of situation because of our own negligence in this area? What if there comes a point where the government can't provide for people's needs in a situation like this? Frankly, I have little trust in our current government as it is! I am certainly not going to depend on them to take care of my every need in a disaster situation!

This leads me to some amusing conversations I had the other day at the grocery store here in California. People are kind of shocked when I ask for large amounts of a sale item. Here is just one example of a conversation I had the other day. They had a great sale on pinto beans at the health food market so I thought I would go get a bag.

Me to a grocery clerk in the bulk isle: Do you happen sell these beans by the bag?
Him (slightly doubtful): Um, yes, we do, I think. You want an entire bag?
Me: Yeah. What are they, 25 lbs., 50?
Him (slightly incredulous): Yeah, they are 50 lbs. You want an entire bag?
Me: Sure, that would be great.

after checking out...
Teenage bag clerk: "Wow! That is a lot of beans! How much did that cost you?
Me: About 16 bucks.
Him: Wow! That is a lot of beans! What are you going to do with all them?
Me: Ummm...probably eat them.
Him: Wow! That is a lot of beans!

Yup! And it will feed my family a lot of meals for just pennies per serving!

Of Philosophy and Fried Froth

O.K., time for some quotables. I have all these little quotes and sayings that I hear or read jotted down on little scraps of paper floating throughout my house, which inevitably get lost or thrown away. I would like to write down a few of them here before they get lost forever, and so I can start decluttering!

O.K., first a few from John Taylor:
"I prefer a faded coat to a faded reputation."

Isn't that the truth! My good name is of utmost importance to me, and I hope I have never done anything that would cause people to question my honor or integrity.

"If a thing is done well, no one will ask how long it took to do it; only who did it."

And this next one I just love, and repeat often to myself;
"Never arise in the morning or retire at night without dedicating yourself to the Lord...do not let any circumstance stand in the way of it."

What a wonderful way to show our Creator how grateful we are for the many, many blessings we have been given. I think when we dedicate ourselves to the Lord, we open our souls to the wonder and beauty of life around us, and we look for opportunities to serve others less fortunate then ourselves. I would love to buy the book by Dr. Seuss, "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" because it gives a good perspective on situations that many of us could complain about. The book's message is basically, be grateful, because there is always someone less fortunate then yourself, or in a worse situation then you! It reminds me of a quote my Dad had up on the wall growing up (and I think it is still up on the wall!)--"I'm too blessed to complain!" AMEN!

Last one from John Taylor; "Philosphy is fried froth." We have all met people who purport to be philosophers, who talk themselves in circles, not to mention everyone around them, and at the end of the day, they have no idea in what or whom they believe! I had a conversation some months ago with a friend I used to know back in my highschool days. He used to be a member of the church, but has since left it, and is pursuing various middle eastern/Asian philosophy and religious ideas. I was interested, as I love learning about other's beliefs, so I asked him what some of the things were that he now believed. What he said made very little sense, and I am certain he didn't actually believe what he was saying. It sounded very convoluted and weird, and I just wanted to shake him and say, "WAKE UP! You are looking for the truth in the wrong place! The gospel of Jesus Christ is so beautiful and simple! Just believe in that!" But of course, I didn't say anything because there would have been no point. I simply smiled and nodded. The thing is, I believe that one of the laws of God is that you have to be actually following a correct principle in order to gain a testimony of it's truthfulness, and this young man was certainly not doing that. ("Faith is a principle of action.") I felt bad for him, because he is missing out on a lot of peace and happiness in his life...But I digress. I am not necessarily against people philosophizing. I think it is often fascinating to listen and participate in conversations where we try to make sense of this world, and why people do the things they do. However, at the end of the day, I think it is so important that we are well grounded in truth, however much we may like to philosophize, because, well, often philosophies are just fried froth!

O.K., Um, I am not sure if this next one is John Taylor or not--it is written at the bottom of my John Taylor quote scrap of paper, so I will assume it is. "Two men can do anything as long as one of them is the Lord." How often we forget that, yet how important it is to remember it.

Well, I will end with just one more, as at the moment I can't find my other scraps. This one I know by heart though, because, again, my Dad had it on the wall growing up and I have probably read it a thousand times. It goes something like this; "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and disguised as hard work." I think nowadays most parents do a grave disservice to their children in not giving them enough opportunities to work and contribute to the well being of the family. I know I am guilty of that myself, and it is an area I really need to figure out better. (Along with a million other things!)

Anyway, that is that for now, folks.