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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Welcome 2012

As we begin the new year, the Prophet has given us this direction. The ABC's of living a happy life. It is something we can all benefit from. Please read, enjoy, and put this wonderful advice to use in your daily life.

Living the Abundant Life
President Thomas S. Monson

At the advent of a new year, I challenge Latter-day Saints everywhere to undertake a personal, diligent, significant quest for what I call the abundant life—a life filled with an abundance of success, goodness, and blessings. Just as we learned the ABCs in school, I offer my own ABCs to help us all gain the abundant life.

Have a Positive Attitude

A in my ABCs refers to attitude. William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, wrote, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment.
Charles Swindoll—author, educator, and Christian pastor—said: “Attitude, to me, is more important than … the past, … than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.”
We can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. For maximum happiness, peace, and contentment, may we choose a positive attitude.

Believe in Yourself

B is for believe—in yourself, in those around you, and in eternal principles.

Be honest with yourself, with others, and with your Heavenly Father. One who was not honest with God until it was too late was Cardinal Wolsey who, according to Shakespeare, spent a long life in service to three sovereigns and enjoyed wealth and power. Finally, he was shorn of his power and possessions by an impatient king. Cardinal Wolsey cried:

Had I but served my God with half the zeal

I served my king, He would not in mine age

Have left me naked to mine enemies.

Thomas Fuller, an English churchman and historian who lived in the 17th century, penned this truth: “He does not believe that does not live according to his belief.”
Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities.
You can achieve what you believe you can. Trust and believe and have faith.

Face Challenges with Courage

C is for courage. Courage becomes a worthwhile and meaningful virtue when it is regarded not so much as a willingness to die manfully but as a determination to live decently.
Said the American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide on, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.”

There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!
Courage is required to make an initial thrust toward one’s coveted goal, but even greater courage is called for when one stumbles and must make a second effort to achieve.
Have the determination to make the effort, the single-mindedness to work toward a worthy goal, and the courage not only to face the challenges that inevitably come but also to make a second effort, should such be required. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, “I’ll try again tomorrow.”
May we remember these ABCs as we begin our journey into the new year, cultivating a positive attitude, a belief that we can achieve our goals and resolutions, and the courage to face whatever challenges may come our way. Then the abundant life will be ours.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are You Ready for ... Winter Driving?

Winter is here and the snow has fallen. Are you and your car ready for the hazards that come with driving in the snow? There are a few items that you should have in your car during the winter that will make life much easier if an accident should happen to you or to the people around you this winter. Your needs may be different for around town trips vs. longer distances or for the type of vehicle you have or the number of people in your family. Below are some suggestions to get you thinking, but you should add or remove those things that will help you and your family. Make sure that you not only have these items in your car, but that you know how to use each of them.

  • Ice scraper
  • Gloves/hat
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cable
  • Flashlight (that works)
  • Blanket
  • Tow rope
  • Tire chains
  • Money
  • Snacks
  • First-aid kit
  • Hand/foot warmers
  • Flare
  • Sand/cat litter for traction
  • Water

Have you gotten your vehicle winter-ready?

  • Has your antifreeze and other fluids been checked?
  • Do you need snow tires? Are your tires at the right pressure for winter?
  • Do you keep your gas tank at least half full at all times in case you get stuck?
  • Is your phone fully charged before you leave home and do you have all of the emergency numbers that you need?

Have you reviewed the rules of driving specific to winter?

  • Four-wheel drive does not mean four-wheel stop. Your four-wheel drive vehicle will not stop quickly in icy conditions.
  • Know your route. Don't go exploring, especially when a storm is brewing.
  • Slow down in low visibility or whiteout conditions.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don't try to walk in a severe storm. It's easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn't clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Visiting Teaching Message

This month's Visiting Teaching Message is entitled "An Extensive Sphere of Action". It reminds us that "Participation in Relief Society enlarges our spheres of influence by giving each sister opportunities to build faith, to strengthen families and homes, and to provide service both at home and throughout the world".
One way our influence for good can be felt is through Visiting Teaching. As we visit, teach, and pray over our sisters we learn to love them and their families. We can be a source of help, comfort, and friendship to them. Their lives and our lives are blessed and enlarged because of the assignment to "be their visiting teacher".
This month especially, we need to check on each other. Do any of your sister's have special needs? Are there sidewalks to be shoveled? Sisters feeling lonely or overwhelmed? Special concerns that the Relief Society President would like to know about?
The visiting teaching message reminds us that "our efforts as individuals and as Relief Societies need not be large and overwhelming, but they should be deliberate and consistent".
Don't worry if you don't have that cute little something to share with your visiting teaching sisters. But do make the time to visit and share a message and your friendship.

A simple reminder to do the simple things

"Great Expectations," BYU devotional, May 11,1965, Thomas S. Monson

Make Room for the Lord
Before we can take Jesus as our companion, before we can follow Him as our guide, we must find Him. You ask, "How can we find Jesus?" I would like to suggest that, first of all, we need to make room for Him...
As I drive through the many parts of this land, as I see the homes of America, I note that most homes have a room for Mary, a room for John--bedrooms, eating rooms, play rooms, sewing rooms-- but I ask the fundamental question, "Is there room for the Son of Almighty God, our Savior, and our Redeemer?"
The invitation of the Lord is directed to each of us: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him" (Revelation 3:20).
...Make room for the Lord in your homes and in your hearts, and He will be a welcome companion. He will be by your side. He will teach you the way of truth".

So, how can we make room for Jesus in our lives? Prayer, scripture study, attending Church and partaking of the sacrament and serving others. A simple reminder to do the simple things.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Devotional

Are you ready to be inspired? Start the Christmas Season right!
Don't forget the Christmas Devotional on Sunday, December 4, at 6 pm. The devotional is an hour long and you can view it at the Stake Center, or at home on your BYU channel or at

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Story

One of my favorite pioneer stories is a story I heard in Martin's Cove several years ago. It is the story of the Mellor family, who crossed the Plains with the ill-fated Martin Handcart Company.
Sixteen-year-old Louisa Mellor Clark, oldest child of the family, recorded this incident in her journal: 

“The first snowstorm left about two feet of snow on the ground, and we began to feel very nervous. We had to wade through more streams, and sometimes up to our waists, and when we got through our clothes would freeze on us until a great many gave up and many died, mostly old people. At last the snow got to be four and five feet deep and often we had to shovel a road before we could move. Thus our traveling was very slow and our provisions nearly gave out.
“My mother, still being weak, finally gave up and said she could go no further. The company could not wait for her, so she bade my father goodbye and kissed each one of the children Godspeed. Then my mother sat down on a boulder and wept. I told my sister, Elizabeth, to take good care of the twins and the rest of the family, and that I would stay with mother. I went a few yards away and prayed with faith that God would help us, that He would protect us from wolves, and that He would let us reach camp. As I was going back to where my mother was sitting I found a pie in the road. I picked it up and gave it to mother to eat. After resting awhile we started on our journey, thanking God for the blessings. A few miles before we reached camp we met my father coming out to meet us. We arrived in camp at 10:00 p.m.

“Many times after that mother felt like giving up and quitting, but then she would remember how wonderful the Lord had been to spare her so many times, and offered a prayer of gratitude instead. So she went on her way rejoicing while walking the blood-stained path of snow.”

There are two things I love about this story: 1. The wonderful, kind way Heavenly Father answer the sincere prayer of a worried daughter and  2. The deep gratitude for blessings expressed by the family in the most difficult of times. 
May your heart be full of gladness for your blessings this Thanksgiving season!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Before You Sit Down to Thanksgiving Dinner....

...come to the church Thanksgiving morning and burn some calories! There is an exercise group meeting this Thursday at 8 am in the gym. This group is open to everyone of every age and fitness level. Chelsy Hooper leads the exercise group, and they would love to see you there. Leave the kids home if possible, and come get your day started right! This group regularly meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-10 and on those days, bring the kids.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brining Turkey

I've heard a lot about brining turkeys and decided to try it this year. Brining makes poultry moister and more flavorful. It takes a little more time, but it's worth it. If you want to know why brining improves quality, read Here.
Although turkey is a little more expense this year, it's still an economical meat, and great for leftovers.

Start with a completely thawed turkey. If your turkey is frozen, you need to let it defrost in your fridge for 3-5 days, depending on the size of your turkey. Leave it in the original package to defrost. When your turkey is completely thawed, remove giblets.

Prepare your brine. I'm cooking a large (22 lb) turkey, so I needed a total of 2 gallons of brine. Brine is salt water, usually with some sweetener and some seasonings added.
The basic recipe is one gallon of water or broth (I used broth) and one cup of coarse or Kosher salt.  You can look up many good brining recipes online. A good brining recipe usually includes 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar and a few tablespoons of whole spices. Bring the water, salt, and sugar to boil in a large pot on the stove, then add whole spices as desired. I used 1 tablespoon whole allspice and 1 tablespoon whole black pepper. Boil for a minute or two, or until salt and sugar are completely dissolved.. Add one gallon of ice water with lots of ice to cool water.

The hardest part of brining is finding a container big enough to immerse a turkey in. I own a extra large stockpot, but you could also use a bucket or watertight cooler. It needs to be something that fits into your fridge. If the weather is right you could also use your back porch or garage. Just be sure to monitor the temperature carefully to avoid freezing or over-warming the brining turkey.  Your turkey needs to be completely immersed--you may need to weigh down the turkey to keep it under water.  Put the whole thing into your fridge for 8-10 hours.  
Do not leave your turkey in brine longer than 10 hours, as quality begins to decline after too long in brine water.

 After 8 to 10 hours, remove turkey from brine, rinse very well, and brush with canola oil or melted butter. Fill turkey cavity with diced onions, carrots, celery, spices, oranges, apples, or leave empty.

Cook on the bottom rack of your oven for time and temperature appropriate to turkey size. I cooked my 22 lb turkey for 3 1/2 hours at 325 as my turkey packaging suggested.  I like to cook with a foil tent for the first 2 hours, then remove the last hour or more to brown.

Use a meat thermometer in the deepest part of the turkey to reach the perfect doneness--around 165 degrees.

The brined turkey was noticeably moister--a little more effort and a little more time was well worth the effort!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Relief Society Curriculum for 2012

 You may know that our Relief Society manual for 2012 is 
Teachings of the Presidents: George Albert Smith..

As usual, your ward or branch Relief Society presidency will be distributing the new manual in 2012. In the meantime, the manual can be view online at  here. You can even listen to the manual by clicking on the appropriate icon on the page.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Did You Know? Blenders and Mason Jars

  Do you know that the blades for your blender also fit a standard mason jar? As we enter the holiday cooking season, it's handy to use a mason jar when you don't have time to wash the blender jar. Oster blenders used to come with a mason jar to be used in this way--my original one did. You can use either the pint or quart size.

Just put your food to be blended into the mason jar and screw your base on.

Invert onto your blender,

and blend as usual.
Mason jars work especially well for chopping nuts or whole spices.
Several years ago when my blender stopped working, I kept the base part with the blades. Now I have 2 sets of bases and when I'm in a hurry, I don't have to wash anything until I'm all done if I need to use the blender a lot.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Acorn Squash Soup

This is the time of year to enjoy winter squashes.  This recipe calls for acorn squash, but any winter squash would work.  I got this recipe from my brother, and it's quick, easy, and delicious!

Acorn Squash Soup

3 cups mashed, cooked acorn squash (about one medium squash)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon curry powder (or more if you like spicier soup)
dash cayenne pepper (or more)
2 cups chicken broth
12 oz fat-free half and half
4 oz cream cheese, softened
salt and pepper to taste

Cook and mash acorn squash. One method: microwave the full, uncut squash on high for 5 minutes. Cut in half, remove seeds and strings with large spoon. Place halves face down on plate, microwave 6-8 minutes more (or until you see it wilt). Let cool, scoop out squash. Mash to smooth consistency with a hand mixer. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, saute celery and onion in butter. Stir in bouillon, dill, curry, and cayenne pepper until blended. Gradually add broth, half and half, and softened cream cheese. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the squash, salt and pepper; heat through, stirring constantly.

In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. Or use an immersion blender.  Pour into bowls and serve immediately, or return to pot to keep warm (stir frequently-it will bake onto the pot easily.).  Garnish each bowl with crumbled bacon--optional.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cultivating Gratitude

November is the time we naturally think and talk about our blessings. Vaughn E. Worthen said:

"Gratitude is a positive experience that comes from recognizing gifts or blessings and feeling thankful. It is also an attitude, a way of perceiving life, in which individuals are willing to acknowledge and receive the beneficial actions of others on their behalf. Gratitude is also a habit that can be cultivated, causing one to focus on the blessings of life."

Brother Worthen also points out that those who cultivate and practice gratitude feel less depressed or anxious, and more happiness, with a greater sense of well-being. They are also healthier, more forgiving, less envious, more generous, and more able to cope with adversity.
(Mar 2010 Ensign, "The Value of Experiencing and Expressing Gratitude")

See  here and here and here for ideas we have shared in the past for cultivating and experiencing gratitude. It doesn't take a lot of effort, your plan may include quiet reflection or some activity or daily reminder to pause and count your blessings. You and your family can do something as simple as:

 printing a page of leaves from the computer,

coloring them,

cutting them out,

and writing on the back of each leaf something you thankful for. After stringing a ribbon through each leaf,

 hang them on a "tree".
How do you cultivate gratitude in your life?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Party's Over... what to do with all this leftover Halloween candy?

1. Freeze it.
You can store candy in the freezer for at least a year. Be aware that freezing chocolate may change the color, but not the quality of chocolate.
2. Use it as a replacement for chocolate chips in your favorite recipe.
Just substitute equal amounts of M and M's for chocolate chips and mix and bake as usual.

OR coarsely chop any kind of chocolate candy bars and use in the same way--substituting chopped candy for chips. You can also freeze this chopped candy and use it for cookies or ice cream mix-ins later.

3. Melt it.
 Use a heat-proof bowl and a pot. Put an inch of water in the bottom of the pot and set the bowl inside. Make sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl.

 Add your candy bars and

 melt over low heat.

Add a little milk

and continue to stir until smooth.  Now you have a yummy, fast sauce for ice cream or cakes.  It is particularly good on pound cake, ginger cake, or pumpkin cake.

When melting, avoid using candy with cookies. Anything else (nuts, coconut, peanut butter) works fine.

4. Donate it.
The local family shelter, food bank, nursing homes, and other charitable organizations take candy donations. You may want to call before donating to make sure your favorite organization is interested in leftover candy.

5. Eat it.
If none of these solutions work for you, I'm willing to bet you can find someone to help you devour your leftovers.
  What do you like to do with your leftover candy?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Recipes From the Relief Society Broadcast Dinner

Jeannie's Strawberry Cake

Mix one package Pillsbury yellow cake mix according to package directions.  Bake using the guidelines for your pan size (Lasagna pan size is best, measuring 10-1/2 X 14-3/4 inches.

Cream Topping:
One pint whipping cream, very chilled
One 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
Just whip this all together and chill.  I promise, it will work!

Fruit Topping:
Mix one package Danish Dessert - strawberry flavored - according to directions on box for pudding.
Rinse, hull and slice 1 pint fresh strawberries.

Assembling it all:
Spread cream topping on cooled cake.  Arrange sliced strawberries over top of cream filling.  Carefully spoon, then spread cooled Danish Dessert over the top.  Chill until serving time.

Chicken Gravy

1 quart chicken broth (no salt added)
1/4 cup butter
5 Tblsp flour
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp salt
4 oz cream cheese

Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add flour, salt, garlic powder and thyme.  Whisk until flour is lightly browned.  Pour in the stock and whisk until thickened.  A general rule of thumb is that when the gravy comes to a boil it has thickened as much as it's going to.  Reduce heat to low.  Add the cream cheese and let it soften, still gently whisking the gravy.  When cream cheese is fully melted, whisk more vigorously to combine well.  Serve hot.

Sweet and Sour Sauce - mild

I used Emeril Lagasse's recipe for Sweet and Sour Sauce.  You can find the recipe here.  It's a little over halfway down the page.  The only modification is I left out the chili-garlic sauce so it would be mild.  If you like it hot, do add that.  :)

Thai Spicy Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 cup rice (or white) vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp chili-garlic sauce
1 Tbsp chopped garlic

Heat the vinegar and sugar in a saucepan on high heat for 3-4 minutes, until the sugar dissolves.  Add soy sauce and salt and stir.  Continue cooking at moderately high heat for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens somewhat.  Remove from the heat*.  Add chili-garlic sauce and the garlic.  Stir to blend and let cool.  Serve.

*I actually cooked my sauce for a minute or two after I added the chili-garlic sauce and the garlic.  This tempered that hot, raw garlic taste a bit. 

Thai Peanut Sauce

5 oz roasted unsalted peanuts
4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 Tblsp red curry paste
2 Tblsp sugar
3 Tblsp lemon juice
3 tsp fish sauce

Blend or process the peanuts until they are fine meal.  Reserve.

Heat half the coconut milk in a saucepan at high heat and add the red curry paste.  Stir to dissolve and continue cooking at high heat for 10-12 minutes, until the oil from the coconut has risen to the surface.

Lower the heat to medium-high and add processed peanuts.  Stir and add the rest of the coconut milk.  Bring to bubbling boil.  Lower heat to medium and add sugar, lemon juice, and fish sauce.  Cook stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened somewhat and the oil has returned to the surface.

Take off the heat and let rest for a half hour.  Stir to blend oil that has risen to the surface.  It should be the consistency of thick cream.  If thicker than that, add a cuople of tablespoons of water or coconut milk and blend.

The sauce can be served lukewarm or reheated to piping hot.  Leftover sauce can be refrigerated (where it will solidify) and then reheated on a low heat, thinned down with some water or coconut milk.  It can also be frozen and reheated another day the same way.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snow Dye

They say if you want to be happy in a northern climate you need to find something you love to do in the snow.  I've finally found it!  Snow Dyeing!  It's so much fun to unpack the dyed yarn or fabric and see what random beauty nature has provided. 

I first heard about snow dyeing last spring when it was almost too late but, knowing Montana, I knew I had a pretty good chance of a heavy, late spring snow storm.  I was right!  April 19, I looked out my window and what did I see?

6 inches of snow on my adirondacks!!  Sweet!  I had gathered all my supplies just in case, so I was ready!

What you need:
Wool yarn or fabric (or other animal fiber, such as silk, llama, alpaca, etc.)
Plastic wrap
Plastic tub
Acid Dye (don't worry, the acid part refers to the vinegar you need to fix the dye)

For instructions on how to snow dye plant fibers, such as cotton, linen, etc., click here.  You will need an alkaline fixative and a dye suited for plant fibers.

The Method:

Soak your yarn or fabric in a solution of vinegar and water - 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water - for about 30 minutes, pushing it down into the water to thoroughly saturate the fiber.  Allow most of the water to drain off the yarn and pack it in one layer in the bottom of a rubber or plastic tub.

Pack snow tightly on top of the yarn about 4 inches deep. 

Sprinkle your dye lightly over the snow.  

I used Jacquard Acid Dye:  Golden Yellow, Saphire Blue, and Crimson.

Bring your tub in the house - hopefully it is watertight and has no cracks! - and let the snow melt. When the snow is melted (hopefully overnight), lift your yarn out of the tub and let the excess water drain out.  Don't let it drip onto the yarn in the tub; hold it over a sink or another bucket.  Wrap the yarn in plastic wrap.  (You don't need to unskein it, as in the picture below, just wrap it up the same way you had it in the tub.)


Place wrapped yarn in one layer in a steamer and steam for 30 minutes.

Rinse the yarn and hang it up to dry.

When your yarn is dry (1-2 days), you can twist it back into a skein for storage or wind it into a ball for immediate use.  The skeins on the left were originally teal, and the ones on the right were a rather drab yellow. 

I love my snow dyed yarn!  I especially love the burnt looking spot on that rather plump teal skein.  That side was down in the tub and sat in a pool of dye.  It's so unpredictable and beautiful!  Here's what one of the yellow yarns looks like knit up in a little stockinette hat. 

It's really incredible how many colors you get just from red, yellow and blue. 

Now as the weather is turning to fall, go find yourself something to love about the cold months ahead!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

General Relief Society Broadcast

The General Relief Society Broadcast is September 24, 2011, at 6 p.m.  You can watch it on the BYU channel or come to the church and watch the satelite broadcast with your sisters.  If you come to the Billings East Stake Center (1640 Broadmoor Dr.), we will have a delicious dinner at 5 p.m. and the broadcast at 6.  Hope to see you there!

See complete information about the broadcast here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Have you ever run out of dishwasher detergent at a bad time?  Did you know that you can easily store all the ingredients you need to make more?  It's true!  I've been using homemade dishwasher degergent for a few weeks, and the only difference I see between the commercial detergent is that mine doesn't have those food eating enzymes so I have to rinse my dishes.  Big deal, right?  You probably rinse your dishes anyway. 


1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup citric acid*

Mix together and store in an air-tight container.  It may clump up due to the citric acid, but no worries!  Just scoop it out and use it anyway.

To Use
Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.

*Double the citric acid if you have really hard water (you'll notice a white film on your dishes if you need to do this).  You can find this in the canning section of your grocery store or hardware store.  You can substitute LemiShine or 10-15 packets of lemonade Koolaid (make sure it's regular and not presweetened).  DO use lemonade and not other flavors, as they will stain your dishes.

Interesting facts about the ingredients
Washing soda - also called soda ash and sodium carbonate.  You can find soda ash at swimming pool cleaning supply stores.  It is also used as a mordant in tie dye (the mordant is what sets the color in the fiber so it won't bleed out).  I found mine (washing soda) in the cleaning supplies section of a local hardware store.

Borax - also called sodium tetraborate.

Kosher salt - also called pickling salt. This is basically salt with no iodine. 

I find it interesting that three of the four ingredients here are sodium.  Anybody out there who studied chemistry and can tell me why?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Canning Chicken

Are you intimidated by pressure canning?  I know I am!  My little sister has recently been canning meat, though, and I'm starting to think maybe I can do it too.  One reason my sister likes to can meat is that they often have ice storms where she lives and they can be without power for a week or more at a time.  Canned meat won't go bad if your freezer defrosts!  Here's a link she posted to a YouTube video that makes it all look so easy!

My niece also recently posted a recipe on facebook that she uses to can pork.  She calls it Chili Verde.  She just opens a bottle and uses it as enchilada filling.  How cool is that?!?  Homemade taste, health benefits, and economy with store bought convenience! 

Chili Verde
3 lbs boneless pork – cubed
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion – chopped
6 cloves garlic –chopped
1 Tbsp fresh oregano
2 jalapeños – chopped
8 oz whole green chilies – chopped (I have used up to 4 whole chilies per batch)
3 c beef stock

Sautee onion, garlic, and jalapeños in the oil till onion melts. In a stock pot brown the pork with a splash of oil. Once it is browned on all sides add sautéed mixture. Add green chilies and beef stock. Bring to boil. Reduce to lowest setting and simmer, partially covered for 2 ½ hours. Add water if needed as it evaporates. Simmer till it reduces and pork easily breaks apart.

Process jars in small pints at 15 pounds of pressure for 1 hour and 15 min or 1 hour 30 min for quarts. When ready, open the jar and use as filling for tamales, enchiladas, tacos, salad, quesadillas or serve with beans and rice on the side. Amazing!

You should use a pressure canner whenever what you're preserving is low in acid.  Fruit and tomatoes are high in acid and so can be done in a water bath canner.  Always be sure to add all acid (lemon juice or vinegar) your recipe calls for.  You can do vegetables in a water bath canner if they are pickled

Things you can do in a pressuer canner:
Beans (legumes)
All vegetables

You should take your pressure canner lid (they only need the lid) down to the County Extension Office once a year to have the pressure guage tested.  You can also pick up charts of processing times for your elevation.  They're phone number is 256-2828.

Here's a link to the chart on their website: (scroll down to pages 3 & 4 for processing times and elevation by county seat for Montana)

Here's a good one on canning meat, fish, and poultry:

Here's their page that has tons of useful home canning links:

Happy canning!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Dinnertime is a natural meeting place for communicating with our families. We can use this time to eat good, wholesome food, share ideas, and report on our day. So turn off the TV, turn off the computers and cell phones and start talking and listening to each other. It can help your family bond together for a lifetime.
You might want to try these conversation starters taken from the game"Lets Chat".
* What is the nicest thing someone has done for you?
* What superhero would you be? What would your name be? Your super power?
* What was your most memorable toy?
* If you found $1000 on the street, what would you do with it?
* If you could have dinner with someone famous, who would it be?
* Are you a city or a country person?
* Do you remember your dreams? Any recently?
*What do you think was the best thing ever invented?
* What is your favorite holiday?
* What is your favorite school subject? Your least favorite?
* Do you have a lucky charm?
* What is the hardest thing you've ever had to do?
The list of dinner conversations can go on and on - and the conversations should go on and on.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2nd Annual Wild Woman Triathlon

 On Friday, August 19 we held our 2nd Annual Wild Woman Triathlon.
Brenda Snizek and Ranee Berg organized the event, made sure the word got out, figured out the course, and generally pulled things together.  They did a fabulous job, and we are so grateful for all of the work they did to put the triathlon together.

We had a wide variety of participants this year, from the young and tough.... the mature and strong (Sister Clark, you are my hero!).

 After everyone signed in

and paused for a group picture,

they were off!

The first part of the triathlon is a swim in Lake Elmo.

There were several boats in the water to ensue that everyone made it out of the water safely.

As well as several future triathloners

cheering on their moms.

The next leg of the event is biking.  Women bike clear out to the refinery ---but no one will tell on you if you turn around before you get there : ^) .

 The final leg is a run/jog/walk/crawl twice+ around Lake Elmo.

We had a number of moms and daughters participating together this year, which was wonderful.

It was a perfect day for a demanding triathlon--our high on Friday was 78 degrees. 

This year we had 35 participants. It was so much fun!

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped along the way, passing out water, cheering everyone on, and making sure that everyone was okay.

Make it your goal to join us next year. We don't care if you do the whole event, or just one or two of the three. We don't care if you're slow or fast, we just take joy in your accomplishment!
Thank you, Brenda and Ranee, for all of your work, and thanks to the wonderful participating women of the Billings East Stake!