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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Relief Society!

This post comes to us from Alkali Creek Ward who held their

Relief Society Birthday Celebration on March 10.

Our theme was "We Are Many But We Are One" The goal of the evening was to help the sisters realize that they belong to the largest organization of women in the world. Because it is a world wide organization, we as sisters come from all different kinds of backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common are faith. We started off the evening with dinner. We had Malyasian Chicken, Greek Salad with pita bread, and a Swedish rice pudding (oatmeal), and dessert was apple pie (American).

Each table was decorated with items from different countries.

We had a matching game at each table. It was a list of temples. The pictures of the temples were hanging in the room and the sisters were to match the names to the picture. Harder than you think.
Then we had a slide show presentaion of sisters around the world. We spotlighted 4 sisters in particular who live in other parts of the world. We had sisters contact these ladies and get their testimonies to share with us. It was very enlightening and wonderful to hear their stories of faith and dedication to the church.

We then closed singing a medley of Sisters in Zion together.

Thank you, Alkali Creek, for sharing your party with us!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Making Conference More Meaningful For Families

The ideas in this post came from my sister, Judy Cannon, of Redlands, California.
-Chris Jones


1. At FHE a week or two before conference, have each child make the cover for their own “My Conference Book.” This can be an 8½ x 11 sheet of paper, folded in half. They can draw whatever picture they want on the front that they associate with General Conference.

2. Make pages for the book by folding or cutting white sheets of computer paper in half. Staple book together.

3. On the day of Conference, have child “take notes” on each speaker by drawing something from the speaker’s talk on one of the pages. Write the speaker’s name at the top of the page. Older children can write a few key words or sentences to explain the picture.

4. After Conference, possibly at FHE the next Monday (or two), have kids compare “notes” for each speaker, telling why they chose the picture they did to represent the talk.

(Idea courtesy of Kristin Richey)

Gather as many pictures of the General Authorities as you can. There is usually a centerspread in the Conference editions of the Ensign, or you can buy individual and group pictures of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve very inexpensively through LDS Distribution or at CTR Books. Try to learn the names of as many of them as you can before Conference weekend, starting with the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. You can use the individual pictures as flash cards. For older children, learn one story or fact about the person along with the name. Try to identify their picture when they are announced as a speaker but before they come to the podium, post their picture when they speak, or try to remember the story/fact about them when they speak.

Sometime before Conference weekend, make a list of topics you think will be discussed in General Conference (e.g., Joseph Smith, repentance, testimony, etc.). Write them on chalkboard or whiteboard, or write them on a piece of paper and make a copy for each child. Each time that topic is mentioned, make a mark by it on the board or sheet. See how accurate your predictions were. During your next FHE, discuss the topics that were mentioned over and over. This will help you discover some of the major themes of the Conference.

Color a picture of the person speaking, or of their topic. Many line drawings of the prophet and apostles and church topics can be found at:

After listening to the first few minutes of a talk, choose a key word you think will be repeated often in that talk (like “Thankful”). Count how many times that word is used in the talk.

Make BINGO cards in several variations where each square has a common talk theme (tithing, obedience, and so on). When you hear a theme mentioned, you get to cover it with an edible marker (raisins, Cheerios, M&Ms, etc.). At the end of the session, you get to eat the goodies on your card. If you got a “bingo,” you get extra goodies. See examples of cards at:

It is hard to make Conference a positive experience for very young children. Keep special somewhat quiet toys—special building blocks, a special coloring book, a craft kit—that are only available during Conference. After Conference was over, the toys are put away and don’t come out again until next Conference. This makes it so that the kids look forward to Conference—maybe not for the right reason initially, but as they outgrow the toys, the feeling of “looking forward to Conference” remains.

After each talk, if someone can tell Mom or Dad (whoever is the candy box holder) what the talk was about, they get a Halloween-sized piece of candy from a special Conference Treasure Box, brought out only on General Conference weekend. For older kids, wait until the end of a session to go over the talk themes. Pictures of the speakers from the Ensign can help children remember individual speakers. It’s amazing how attention will increase with the promise of a small reward.

Older children can invite some of their friends come over to watch with your family. One family always has a big "Conference Soup Party" between Saturday sessions of Conference. All the teens watch the morning session together, enjoy a fun lunch between sessions, then settle back down to watch the afternoon session. Teens can also watch the morning session at home, then gather to eat lunch and watch the afternoon session together. Additionally, a special food tradition can be started within a family or group of friends, with a favorite dish always cooked for lunch between sessions. An atmosphere of festivity helps reinforce to everyone that Conference is a special time.

(GOOD FOR OLDER CHILDREN AND ADULTS)After each talk, record the name of the speaker and his or her topic, then try to guess what the talk will be titled when it is printed in the Ensign or on-line. Keep the list to check against the actual titles later. The goal is to think about the message and summarize it in your mind, seeking for the “essence” or theme of the talk.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gardening Link

If you made it to the square foot garden class this morning, you learned a lot about growing food in small spaces. If you didn't make it (or even if you did!), here is Wayne Burleson's link that has lots of gardening tips and ideas.

Check it out!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Five More Things You Might Learn From
Relying on Your Food Storage

This is a continuation of Jodi's post. What would your family learn do if you had to live on your storage for awhile? Challenge your family to try it for a period of time. You will quickly learn your weak spots and what you can work to improve.

6. “Using my food storage really helps stretch my budget dollars.”
It does! Using food items bought in bulk usually makes sense (and cents) economically, plus you’re eating at yesterday’s food prices. Also, by planning out your meals and using food storage, you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck because you’ll avoid expensive impulse buys and stick with the necessities.

7. “Making things from scratch uses up a lot more of some ingredients than I realized” or “I’m lacking some of the ingredients that I need for doing a lot of baking, etc.”
Make sure that you have all of the ingredients needed, or know what you can use as a substitute (like 1 Tbsp ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp water = 1 egg), for the recipes you use. Also, make sure you have sufficient quantities stored. For instance, you’ll go through flour/wheat, yeast, and oil faster when baking a lot of bread.

8. “Our diet is a lot healthier and is more inline with the teachings of The Word of Wisdom when we use our food storage.”
You’ll be eating more of what you know is good for you, and a lot less of the fats, chemicals, and preservatives found in processed foods.

9. “It’s fun cooking and baking together as a family.”
Kids especially like to help punch down bread dough, or roll out and cut noodles or cinnamon rolls. Let them help and learn, and do some family bonding (plus they’re more likely to eat something that they helped make).

10. And last, but not least, you might learn --
“I’m very grateful for my food storage and to be able to feed my family, no matter what.” If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Making Yogurt From Powdered Milk
Thanks to Norma Olson from Lake Hills ward for this post

For this recipe you will need a food thermometer, acidephilus capsules (available in the vitamin section of your store), powdered milk, vanilla, plain yogurt, heating pad, two large towels,
and two quart jars. Scroll to the end of this post for a complete list of ingredients.
Mix up 6 cups of milk, using the proportions your milk requires. You can mix it up the night before and put it in the fridge to give it time to completely blend. Heat this milk to 180 degrees (make sure it is this hot so that your yogurt sets up properly), or to the point it starts to boil. If you heat it in the microwave, you don't have to worry about burning it.
Cool to less than 100 degrees (make sure it is this cool). You can speed the process by putting your container of milk in a sink of cold water.

When cool, break open two capsules of acidophiles and add to milk

Add 1/2 cup plain yogurt.

And 1 tablespoon vanilla and mix well.

Pour mixture into two 1 quart jars. If you have more yogurt mixture than fits into the jars, use it for bread or anything else you normally use milk for. Screw lid on.

Lay a large towel on your counter, put your heating pad on top of the towel.

Fold the towel over top of

heating pad and set the bottles on top. Wrap the towel over the top and secure.
Wrap the second towel around the whole thing and turn your heating pad to medium.
Let sit for 6 hours.

The yogurt will now be set and ready to eat. Place in refrigerator.
To add flavor, take two envelopes of gelatin and add to 1/4 cup or so of fruit juice and let it sit for 10 minutes to soften the gelatin. Heat 3/4 more cups of juice and add the softened gelatin, stirring well. Using a mixing bowl, add (while still hot) to the yogurt, mixing in well. Since the yogurt will be set, use a whisk to mix thoroughly. Add 8 Tablespoons sugar, or to taste. You can use Splenda. You can also add chopped fruit at this point. Return to fridge and let reset. Pour into individual bowls and let set. (Editor's note: If you could taste how good this is, you would be making it right now!)


6 cups reconstituted powdered milk

2 acidophilus capsules

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon vanilla

to add flavor:

2 envelops gelatin

1 cup juice with or without chopped fruit

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Five Things You Might Learn From
Relying On Your Food Storage
Jodi Gorham from Shepherd provided this post. Thank you Jodi!
(This list was created after a couple of months of grocery budget cuts in our home. We truly used our food storage and it was an eye-opening experience.)

1. “I don’t know what to do with my food storage.”
Now is a good time to learn. Figure out how to make things that you would normally buy, like bread, noodles for soup, and flour tortillas. If you don’t have a food storage cookbook, the Stake Cannery has one that is only $2. If you don’t have the equipment you need to be able to use your food storage (like a wheat grinder), get it (even a less expensive hand grinder is better than nothing).

2. My family doesn’t like to eat food storage.”
If that’s the case, you have two options. Work food storage into your regular menu more often so that your family is used to eating it and develops a taste for it (part of that may be figuring out how to camouflage flavors that they don’t care for - for example, store chocolate and/or strawberry syrup to use with your powdered milk). Or, don’t store what they won’t eat, but depending on how picky your family is, that could really limit your options.

3. “I wish I had more variety in my food storage.”
If you have a year’s supply of wheat and not much else, that’s a problem. Rather than buying one item at a time, work on getting a well-rounded 3 months supply, then 6, then 9, then a year. If you have built up a good supply of the basics, work on adding items (canned or dried fruits, vegetables, and meats, spices, etc.) that will make using your food storage a lot more enjoyable.

4. “I have to plan ahead and allow more time when cooking with food storage.”
You can’t wait until the last minute to make a batch of bread or prepare a pot of bean soup for dinner. Cooking from scratch is time-consuming, but well worth it. There will be days when you’ll need to prepare something quick though. Including some canned and ready-to-eat items (like cans of chili or boxes of macaroni and cheese) in your storage will come in handy for
those days.

5. “Figuring out what to give the kids for snacks is a challenge.”
When you can’t just run to the store for Goldfish crackers, or granola bars, or string cheese, you may have to get creative. Popcorn is a good whole-grain snack and stores well. Homemade granola bars are an option, as well as homemade bread with peanut butter and jam. Figure out what your family likes.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Egg Bonanza
Eggs often go on sale around Easter. Have you ever wished you could stock up on those sale eggs? Did you know that you can freeze eggs for later use? Here's how to freeze eggs individually: Gather eggs, small dixie cups, and something to stir with.

Break one egg into the cup.
Stir gently without incorporating air into egg. The egg doesn't need to be completely mixed.

Place the stirred eggs in their cups into a pan

Cover and place in freezer.

Next peel the paper cup off of the frozen egg and place in a labeled, dated bag.

They kind of look like votive candles, don't they?

You can also leave the egg in the cup if you cover it well, but these are hard to keep sealed, tend to get lost in my freezer, and take up more space.

When you are ready to use the egg, place in a bowl in the fridge overnight (recommended method) or put your egg in a plastic bag and run under cold water until thawed (in a pinch). The egg is now ready to add to your favorite recipe.

Use the freshest possible eggs when freezing. Eggs will keep in the freezer for up to a year, and should be used as soon as possible when thawed. Of course, you can freeze all of your eggs together by gently mixing several eggs into a bowl and freezing in ziploc or freezer container. Just remember that once thawed, eggs should not be refrozen. One whole egg=3 Tablespoons. Never freeze eggs in the shell. They will have strangely textured yolks, expand, break the shell, and make big messes in your freezer that no one wants to clean up. Freeze only raw eggs as frozen cooked egg whites become rubbery and don't taste very good.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Upcoming Events
Gardening by the Foot

On March 28, the stake is sponsoring a presentation by Wayne Burleson on square foot gardening, a technique of gardening in a very limited space. The presentation is from 9-11 am. at the Stake Center. He will teach us about growing large amounts of food in a very small space. Bring your neighbors and friends!

General Conference is April 4 and 5

Plant pansies at the temple, April 7-11, 10am to noon and 12:30 to 3 pm.

Contact your Relief Society president for more information or

call the temple directly.

Easter is April 12

Stake Conference is April 18 (Adult session) and April 19

Hearts and Hands is April 24 and 25

We look forward to seeing each of you at these upcoming events!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Making Better Bread
Thanks to Jodi Gorham from Shepherd Ward for this
interesting information

Inexpensive Dough Enhancer
Not long ago my mom passed along the tip to add 1/8 tsp of either Vitamin C crystals or crushed Vitamin C tablets when making a batch of bread. She said that it breaks down the gluten and keeps the bread moist. Not that I don’t trust my mom, but I decided to test this and tried making the same bread recipe with and without the Vitamin C. I could tell a difference. The loaves made without the Vitamin C dried out faster than the loaves with; it was especially noticeable in the loaves that weren’t eaten until a day or two after they were baked.
Then I found a website that backed up this tip. It says that Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) “creates an acidic environment for the yeast which helps it work better. It also acts as a preservative and deters mold and bacterial growth. With just a touch of ascorbic acid the yeast will work longer and faster. French bakers add it to their French bread, baguette or boule recipe. If you can't find pure ascorbic acid crystals you can use Fruit Fresh (canning isle) or a crushed/powdered vitamin C tablet, but measure accordingly.” The suggested amount -- 1/8 tsp per recipe.
The great thing about this is that Vitamin C is an inexpensive dough enhancer (maybe a couple of pennies per 1/8 tsp), you don’t need much of it, and it’s something that many of us already have. I guess mom really does know best.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More Crock Pot Recipes
We've had requests for more crock pot recipes. Here's one that your family will love! Like many good crock pot recipes, it takes just a few ingredients, it's cheap, and it's very easy to make.

Kalua Pig in a Slow Cooker
1 (6 lb) pork butt roast (the cheap kind, with plenty of fat)
1 1/2 Tablespoons Hawaiian black sea salt
1 Tablespoon or more liquid smoke

Pierce pork all over with a carving fork.

Rub salt, then liquid smoke over meat.

Place roast in a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low for 10-12 hours, turning once during cooking time.
Remove meat from slow cooker and shred, adding drippings as needed to moisten.
If you don't have Hawaiian black sea salt you can substitute other sea salts, rock salt, or other coarse salt. I got my salt through the Internet.
Cost: about 2.49 a lb, or $.62-$1.25 a serving, depending on your appetite!
What is your favorite Crock Pot recipe? Send it to and we will post it on the blog!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This is a recent YouTube video produced by the church. It's about 3 minutes long. It's well worth the time it takes to watch! Click on the following link:
Instead of Eating Out....
Make freezer meals!
Julie B. Beck, Relief Society General President,
recently said:
"Meals prepared and eaten at home generally cost less, are healthier, and contribute to stronger family relationships."
That's an appealing promise!
One way for busy families to eat at home is to have homemade, pre-prepared meals in the freezer. You can make several meals at once, or double every recipe you make and freeze half for later. Making several meals at once means you can do one big grocery store run, chop all of the ingredients at once, enlist help from family members, and make a total mess of your kitchen just once. Let's talk about a few ways to make freezer meals:

Ziploc bag method
This method works for most meals, and is especially good for meals that don't need to be layered in a pan. The advantage of this method is that it's faster, takes less space in your freezer, and can be quickly warmed in the microwave. Pick a recipe, prepare it to the point of the final "bake", and put it in a bag labeled with the date, recipe name, and cooking temp and time. It will look something like this:
To cook, place in refrigerate overnight, transfer to baking dish and cook according to directions. Or defrost or cook in microwave.
Aluminum Foil Pan Method
This method works well for recipes that are "layered".

Begin by place a double layer of aluminum foil in a baking pan

Baked Spaghetti


1 (16 oz) package spaghetti

2 eggs

1 pound ground beef

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium onion, chopped

5 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (26 oz) jar meatless spaghetti sauce
2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook beef and onion
over med heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce and seasoned salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Drain spaghetti; add to egg mixture and toss to coat.
Place half of the spaghetti mixture in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Top with half of the cottage cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. repeat layers.
Wrap well and place in freezer overnight or until completely frozen. Remove the foil-wrapped food from the pan. Label with date, description, and cooking directions, return foil part to freezer.

When you are ready to use this meal, place back in pan and thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 20-24 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.


Spaghetti: $.92 seasoned salt $.02

meat: $ 2.88 Parmesan cheese $. 34

onion $.43 butter $ .35

spaghetti sauce $1.12 cottage cheese $1.46

2 eggs $.23 mozzarella $2.09

Total cost: $9.84 for 8 servings or $1.23 a serving
Now you have a nice, inexpensive meal and your pan is free until you need it for thawing and baking. In the meantime, you can use the pan for more important things like this:

Rocky Road Brownies


1 1/4 cup flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 large eggs (lightly beaten)

3/4 cup butter

2 cups miniature marshmallow

6 oz unsweetened chocolate

1 1/2 cups assorted nuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 13 x 9 metal baking pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a 3 quart saucepan, heat butter and chocolate over med-low heat until melted, stirring frequently. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; stir until well mixed. Stir flour mixture just until blended. Spread batter in pan.

Bake brownie 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from edge comes out clean. Sprinkle top of brownie evenly with marshmallow; top with nuts. Bake 5 minutes longer or until marshmallows melt slightly. Cool in pan on wire rack.

Cost: priceless!

Some things to remember when freezing meals: Potatoes don't freeze well. Spices can get stronger over time. Slightly under cook pasta to prevent sogginess. Bread-based toppings like crackers or chips get soggy when frozen with the meal. Freeze these in a separate bag and add just before baking. Some recipes freeze better than others--experiment with your family favorites.