Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The end leads to the beginning.

I have a small chalkboard in my kitchen. When I entertain, I will write messages or the menu on it. The message on it was over a year old, and I told need to change this message. Maybe that was not such a good idea, because it started a series of countdowns, and verbal updates of "lasts".Last school dance, Last softball season, Last homegame, last HS game. Only 6 more fridays, only 10 more B days. 3 weeks to seminary graduation, only a 2 weeks to graduation, no more fridays, Last final taken. AP exam finished, TOMORROW IS GRADUATION!

How can time change speed? I feel like I have been sucked into a time warp.

I think I am pretty good at a few things, but not so good at others. I have serious doubts about my parenting skills! I wonder what I have done to my kids that will land them on a therapists couch! I can think of quite a few :(

I always hope to "get it right" the next time! 2 out of 3 of my kids will be out of the house all too soon! It seems that about the time I feel like they like me....they leave.

I remember so well the day I found out I was expection Kayla. Totally shocked as we were on an adoption waiting list, because we thought we would never have another child. I remember the day she started kindergarten. I remember the first sport she first grade. I saw then the love of athletics. I remember when she played rec softball. I saw then, frustration at mediocrity. I began to see signs of what was to come....the search for more of a challenge. We were so blessed to find Coach Sterling Hilton, who was her soccer coach on an accelerated team for 7 years. We also met Coach Kayelene Hornberger, and Coach Nelson Septon, and Coach Frank Brammall, and Coach Gordon Cook....all softball coaches for the last 10 years. I CANNOT remember all the lessons taught by all of these wonderful people who sacrificed, unpaid for time spent away from their own families, and helped mold and shape my Kayla. What I do know, is that the lessons went far beyond the field. They carried into the classroom, and into our home, and into Kayla's heart and life. I recently heard that a study was done at a major California University about how athletes brains function differently, and process information quicker that non athletes. I totally believe the findings. I watch it on a daily basis. I remember Kayla's first time at Camp. I watched as the spirit began to work in her life, and as she began to find a testimony independent of mine. I have watched Kayla become a champion of the underdog! Not just in sports. She cannot stand to see someone without friends. She will befriend anyone who is being treated unfairly. This also carries over to the dogs!!!! If you say hello to one....Kayla will say Hi to the others too! She is the fairness police!
Not only is she driven on the field, but in school as well. There have been times that I have said to her....."you do not have to do this project right this minute! You have time!" I can honestly say that I have never had to ask her if her homework is done. I KNEW it was! She is driven is all areas of her life. I am so thankful that she loves to learn, and wants a college education above all else. She even uttered the words...."College is more important than softball!" Really???? So happy that she is wise beyond her years!
Kayla is a wonderful softball player, but she is also a gifted writer! She has a blog that either makes me laugh, or cry!
I told her if she dosen't go into Sports science, she needs to go into english or writing!
Kayla is a natural born leader. At a tournament in Colorado a couple of years ago, She was chosen to play in an all star game. There were girls from many teams, from all over the US. I watched as she was the cheerleader on and off the field. I watched as she pumped that team up as they played. It goes without saying that most of the girls were bigger than she was, but she plays the game with a heart as big as all outdoors. From the time she was in kindergarten, her main complaint about school was......everybody always asks me quetions. She wasn't talking about the teachers! The other students knew who to ask. She was assigned a boy in one of her elementry classes, to peer tutor. It was a big job for a little girl, but she did it and did it well! Kayla does not like to disappoint anyone! She does not like to tell anyone "no". Well....accept me sometimes. LOL:)
I remember the feelings I had as High School came to an end. Overwhlmed at having to make decisions about the future, and not knowing which path to follow. Kayla has faced this decisions with some fear and trembling, but with a vision of where she wants to go, and forging ahead into the unknown with the same tenacity that she shows on the softball field.

As of tomorrow, no longer a T-wolf. I may do a little howling at the moon over this, but She will look down the road 3 months, where she will become a SEASIDER, at BYU-Hawaii. I know that as the end of her High School career is at hand, she can look back with satisfaction at her efforts, and accomplishments, and walk "the walk" with head held high. Ready...anxious....anticipating....the BEGINNING.....of the rest of the story.
Onward and upward little one....ALOHA!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Wedded bliss, and other adventures

This is a very sentimental time for me. Big changes are afoot at home and abroad! Kayla is graduating from High School and will be attending BYU Hawaii in the fall. (well maybe......she just got the summer conditioning schedule, and it it would make a grown man cry!)
Evan and Angie will be moving to Florida soon.....(well with the ARMY, you can;t count on any date....EVER....till you are gone!)
And one of my adopted daughters just got married.

Let me start back about 4 years ago. Kayla has played sports....yes plural, since she was 5. She started playing soccer with Orem city rec. league. She is such a driven athlete. Even at that age she bored quickly with that level of play. We then found her an accelerated team to play with. She played with them up until High school. She played JV soccer at Timpanogos as well. She also played rec. softball. This was more painful for her than the soccer was, so again we went in search of higher level of play!
Here I will insert, that as a parent, I am deeply in debt to all of the coaches that have influenced our lives over the years! What amazing, talented, committed, and SELFLESS people! God bless every one of you!
Kayla played softball all of the years she was playing soccer. I kept telling her that a choice was going to have to be made once she got to High School level. I cannot express strongly enough the AGONY she went through trying to choose! She loved each game equally, and would still be playing both if given the opportunity to be a clone.
She ultimately choose softball because there are so many girls that play soccer, she wisely believed she had better opportunities with softball.She tried out for the Timpanogos softball team. She was on the JV team, but dressed and played varsity. She lettered all 4 years. As a freshman coming to the High School just for the conditioning class and on game days, she was a little intimidated, but love of the game kept her at it.
enter two angels, Kalee Gonzalez, and Megan Bishop. they were so kind to Kayla and went out of their way to make her feel at home with the team. They became part of the family! Kalee's little sister Jodee and Kayla are the same age and have been the best of friends, playing HS ball and travel ball during the summers. Try as he might, Mark cannot adopt sons, but he has MANY adopted daughters:)
Kalee had been seriously dating, and I knew marriage wasn't too far off. I was shocked and honored that she would as me to make her wedding cake! I told her I had no doubt that I could make it taste wonderful, but I had serious doubts about making it beautiful!
I LOVE learning new things, and will try anything once! If not a complete failure, I will often try it again! I am fascinated by all the cake shows on the Food network! It amazes me that you can make sculpture out of cake!
when Angie graduated nursing school and got her R.N., I made her a cake of scrubs. It was fun....and not a total failure, so I made a softball cake for the High school team last year....again fun...and not a total failure. I really enjoyed the challenge, but it was all for FUN! When Kalee asked me to make her cake, I said Yes because I love HER, and wanted to do it for Dave and her. I believe I made that cake a dozen times in my dreams. I practiced with flavors, and with fondant. I have learned one thing through this experience....Commercial fondants are nasty, and hard to work with! I found a recipe for marshmallow fondant that you can flavor ANY flavor you want, and it is not only edible, but it is GOOD!!! And the added bonus of being so much easier to work with, and about 1/4 the cost of commercial fondant!
Mark said I could never make another one! (I was a wee bit stressed, and may not have been on my best behavior.) I wanted to cake to be acceptable for a beautiful girl, and a beautiful occasion. It was not perfect, but it was made with love. Thank you again Kalee and Dave for letting me be part of your wonderful day. I wish you nothing but happy adventures in the coming years!

I am including the recipe for the MM fondant. Please try! It's easy peasy!!

8 cup mini marshmallows
3 TBSP water
1TBSP flavor
9 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 heaping TBSP shortening
1. grease bowl and dough hook of mixer
2. Sift 9 cups of powdered sugar in a separate mixing bowl.
3. put marshmallows, water, flavor, and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Heat at 30 second intervals. stir and continue heating till it looks soupy with a few lumps.
5. scoop 6 cups of sifted sugar into greased bowl of mixer and make a well.
6. pour melted mixture into the well. It's going to spread out and cover all the sugar, but puts it mostly in the center this way.
7. put one more cup sifted sugar on top of mm's.
8.start mixer on lowest setting to incorporate most of the sugar. after it stirs a little while you can move up speed a little. You will notice the PS on the sides of the bowl...leave it there. Don't scrape it down. It will be pulled into the fondant as needed. the mixture pulls in the sugar, it will start to climb the hook like bread dough. Do not let it get too stiff at this point. feel it with your fingers. If it is really sticky, add 1/4 cup of sugar at a time till it is just slightly sticky when pinched.
10.prepare a section of counter by spreading a coating of shortening, or using a silpat. dump out fondant and remaining sugar in bowl. grease your hands and start to knead fondant, working in PS 1/4 cup at a time as needed. It should hold it's shape for a few seconds when it is ready. shape into a ball and grease outside of ball. wrap in saran wrap or place in ziploc bag. it needs to sit overnight for best texture.
11. prior to using, just knead again to get to a silly putty like texture. Call add more sugar if still too soft, of knead in more shortening if too dry.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

There are no words

30! Just a number right? True, but what that number represents to me is hard to put into words, but I will try!
30 years ago I met Vanessa Austin. She was my assigned mission trainer in the Florida Tampa mission. I was the "greenie"! We spent 3 months as companions, and have spent the past 30 years being family! Mark and I along with Vanessa and her husband Michael Reid.......all served in the same mission. (there is a great and REALLY long story there!)

Mike and Vanessa brought their oldest daughter Selena to visit us when she was just a few months old in California. Over the years we have spent Christmas in Disneyland, Thanksgiving in both Utah and Arizona, 4th of July in Utah, many other visits back and forth for weddings, parties and many other things. My children don't have many cousins close in proximity, or age, so they too have many many happy memories of time spent with the Reid "cousins"! One of the most enjoyable things I have ever done was going on the "RED ROCK RIDE" with Vanessa! We share a love and passion for horses, and had the chance to spend almost a year sharing that love here in Utah. Then we decided to go on a week long adventure together. We spent a week riding the majestic canyons of Southern Utah on Mules. I will tell you that unless you have been into the canyons like we have only glanced at them! It is a treasured memory, the experiences we shared.
This past weekend The Reid family minus 2.....spent Easter weekend with us. They came for Russ's graduation from BYU, and to take Selena home:(
Nikki and her Husband and 2 kids Madison and Tanner, kept us entertained for the weekend! It was loud, crazy WONDERFUL chaos!! Nikki chose outfits, did hair and makeup for Kayla's senior pictures....which Selena took (Sorenson-Studios on facebook is a must see). We have been involved with some of the choicest and most wonderful moments life has to offer together. We have experienced the most painful moments of our collective lives as well. I heard a saying once..."You may well forget those with whom you have laughed, but never will you forget those with whom you have cried."
As the family was getting ready to leave for home Vanessa and I just hugged and cried! I know that my life was eternally altered for good, 30 years ago, when first we met as missionaries! We love them like family, and we consider them family, and will BE that, far beyond this life.
I love you Reid family! We all do!

Many memories are centered around food, and this Easter will be no different! I had to make some cupcakes for a family in the neighborhood and of course needed to try something new! May I say that this was a HOME RUN!!!! Strawberry Colada cupcakes with fresh strawberry butttercream!!! (I think I just gleeked!) FANTASTIC!!!
I had some left over, and so when the Reid's came the first evening....I offered some to them. I wish I had a picture of Nikki's face BEFORE a sound was even able to escape! (she is as thin as a rail, so I can tell on her! I think she ate 3 straight!)It was priceless!!! They were gone so fast that I make ANOTHER batch, THAT NIGHT, and those were devoured too! This recipe will always bring sweet and tender memories of this Easter spent with the Reid Family! There are no words that can truly express the love, the happiness and joy of ties that bind hearts!

Strawberry Colada cupcakes-Christy Denney
1 1/2 Cups fresh strawberries, hulled
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened,
1 1/3 Cups granulated sugar,
1 whole egg and 2 egg whites
1/4 cup well drained crushed pineapple

1 cup butter softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla

***1) Heat oven to 350* Place papers into cupcake tins.2) put strawberries into blender and process till smooth. should be about 1 cup puree. Pour 2/3 cup puree into small bowl, stir in coconut milk, and both extracts. reserve remaining puree for frosting. 3)In medium mixing bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. set aside. In large bowl beat softened butter and sugar with mixer till light and fluffy. add whole egg and egg whites one at a time and mixing till Incorporated after each addition. on low speed alternately add flour mixture about 1/3 at a time and whet ingredients 1/2 at a time beating just till blended. stir in pineapple. 4)Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 1/2 full. 5) Bake 18-22 minutes or until centers spring back when lightly touched. Don't overbake....but dense, so make sure its not gooey in the center too! 6) Meanwhile in a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter with mixer till light and fluffy. add powdered sugar about 1/2 at a time. stir in coconut extract, 1/2 tsp vanilla and 3 T. reserved puree, mix till just blended. 7) frost cooled cupcakes as desired. sprinkle with either regular or toasted coconut, and top with slice of fresh strawberry! TRY not to eat 2 or 3!!!!
Good luck with that!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A friend in need....Is a friend indeed:)

I have a friend whom I affectionately refer to as "Hester the bester". This will be the subject of another blog! But as for now....She gets herself involved in lots of things, and she in turn gets....ME involved in lots of things! We have a "scratch the back" kind of relationship! She helps me, and I help her. Somehow.....She has a book club group being hosted by another member, but somehow....she is doing an appetizer, and several soups, and french bread, and BEAUTIFULLY decorated sugar cookies. Really? There is a local restaurant who shall remain nameless....that has a portabella , artichoke soup. A few years ago when I first tried it, I flipped! DELICIOUS!! I happen to know someone related to one of the owners, and asked if she could possibly get me the recipe. JOKE! He told her that even the individual locations didn't have the recipe, but received a base. He told her what he could tell her, was that is has Lots, and Lots, and Lots of butter! That is like throwing down the gauntlet to me!!! I love a good challenge, and pride myself in the ability to pick out flavors and ingredients in foods. I also love to make them healthier in any way possible. I said to myself.....Self: you can make that soup with 4T. butter or less! Challenge issued, and conquered! I will interject here, that I DO share recipes, and am personally irritated by people who won't! Unless they have a restaurant and it is a source of their livelihood, VERY FEW people make up their own recipes! Most dishes are variations of another, with a different sauce, or different heat source ect. They have found something they like and have staked a claim. For many recipes do YOU have for chocolate chip cookies??? This is not the old west! Some people have just not learned to SHARE:)
I digress. Hester asked if I would help her make MY (hee hee) recipe for the event. I agreed, and eventually offered to make it for her, which I have done this morning! Even at 9;30 in the morning onions and garlic smell heavenly!!!! I have made the soup many times and refine it as it goes. I make another change this morning which is a winner!! I am sharing the recipe with you in hopes that you will enjoy it as much as I have, and those that I have SHARED it with.

Artichoke/Portabella mushroom soup,
1T. olive oil
2T. butter
1 shallot-diced
1 onion-diced
2 stalks celery -diced
1 c. carrots -diced
5 cloves of garlic-minced
2 portabella mushroom caps 1 small dice, and one with fins removed and 1/2 inch dice
1 can WATER PACKED artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
4 1/2 C. chicken stock
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
4 T. cornstarch
1 heaping tsp. beef base (added today, and GREAT addition for depth of flavor)
1/4 C. white wine**** may substitute vinegar instead, but use about half that amount
1 Cup half and half (I use fat free)
**Put oil and butter in heavy pan and melt butter. Add shallot, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and the one finely diced mushroom. Saute till soft, abt. 10 minutes. Add 1 Cup stock and simmer 10 minutes more. Make a slurry of 1 C. stock and 4 T. cornstarch and poultry seasoning. Add, and simmer 5 minutes. Add remaining stock, wine,chopped artichokes and second larger dice mushroom cap. Simmer till thickened. Add Salt and pepper to taste, and just prior to serving stir in half and half. DO NOT BOIL AFTER ADDING CREAM!! it will curdle. This soup gets better as it sits, and it freezes very well. If you are going to freeze, don't add cream till serving.

If you try it....let me know what you think of MY recipe:)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Definition of Site name

I have a passion for cooking. I think food service is in my blood. My father was a butcher, and a great cook. My mother was not only a great cook, but very inventive in the cooking she did, and loved trying new things. The interest was aroused, because I had great teachers. My FAVORITE job ,was waitressing at "LaFrance" restaurant in Provo. It is long gone, but the 20 years I spent working there have changed my life. 23 years ago Claude Massa....the owner, called and asked me if I wanted to buy the restaurant. We had just moved back to Orem from Torrance California. Angie was a year old, and Mark had just opened our business R and M Woods. We had no money to invest in such a venture, and being a new mom, no time! I could kick myself every time I think that I didn't get recipes from Claude, before he moved back to france. Lessons learned. I have a pet peeve!! BIG one!!! Mouth noises, smacking, slurping ect!!! My little brother and I used to get in fights at the dinner table over it! Have you ever heard a Frenchman eat???? At first I was so grossed out, and so annoyed, that every time Claude would eat, I would have to leave the room, or SCREAM! What I learned....SOMETIMES....those sounds of enjoyment ,are "Thehighestcompliment" that you can give a chef. (and sometimes it is still just plain gross and rude!) Those 20 years at LaFrance taught me so much! I learned to love FINE food. Not fast food. When French people would come in, they wanted to DINE....not EAT! 3 hours at a table cuts down on tips, but I learned about savoring the meal, not inhaling it! I loved serving people great food, and seeing their pleasure after dining. The love affair began for real! Now I love cooking for other people! Just this weekend we hosted some youth from our church who were visiting from out of state, for conference weekend. I made some killer cupcakes (my new passion...along with the rest of the world!) for dessert. Lemon poppyseed, filled with a really tart lemon curd, and topped with a vanilla/lemon buttercream! The last 4 are in the other room, HAUNTING me!! As they bit into them, all I heard was "uhmmmmmm". No words. Just the sound of satisfaction. I said to the kids, you know.... that is the highest compliment you can give! It means far MORE THAN WORDS> I truly mean that! The sighs, and moans, and lip smacking are what I live for! It makes me all warm and mushy inside:) So.....I NEVER though I would join the blogging craze, but I hope to share my joys, and hints, and things learned along the way. New recipes, new techniques, reworking old ones. I will try anything once! I love finding new things to try. Anything involving food interests me. My newest adventure.....CHEESE MAKING!!! Another.....Cake decorating! we go.....let's have some fun! I know I will:)