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Monday, May 30, 2011

Flood Relief Update

Today members of both stakes met at 5 am to prepare breakfast and lunch for people in Crow Agency and Lodge Grass. We made 300+ sandwiches, using peanut butter and jam from the truck of supplies sent by Salt Lake, and also purchased supplies locally to make meat sandwiches, and provide milk, fresh fruit, chips, cookies, and rolls for dinner.  At 4:30 pm another group met to get stew ready to send.  After the food is prepared President Griffin and counterparts from the other stake deliver it. We are so thankful to those who came and helped.  Many others volunteered, but were not needed this time. This food is being used to feed anyone in those communities in need of a meal, not just members.  Many of you have asked where members from Lodge Grass and Crow Agency attended church---they are part of the Hardin Branch. 
At this time, it is possible we will be preparing meals for the next several Mondays.  We are only providing Monday's meals--other days are covered by other groups.  If you can help prepare food at the Auto Auction, either around 5-6 am or 4-5 pm on Mondays, please contact me, either through email ( ) or by phone (I am in Hilltop Ward), and I will add you to our list of future volunteers.

You have likely seen on the news how serious the flooding has been in Roundup.  Tomorrow supplies will be taken into Roundup area by some of our stake brethren. 

We encourage you to find ways to serve those who have been affected by the floods in your own ward, in our stake, and in our state.  We appreciate all of the donated time and bedding we have received. Please, pray for those who have been affected by flooding. We will likely feel the effects of all this rain for some time.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Relief Efforts

Recently our area received supplies from Salt Lake for flood relief.  These items, along with some of the bedding collected by the stake, have been taken to Crow Agency.  They also received cleaning supplies from Salt Lake. The people of Crow Agency are so grateful for the contributions.  Eight tons of food was delivered on Friday, and more will be distributed in the coming weeks, as needed.  Some of the hygiene kits and bedding we collected were also given to those affected locally by flooding who are now staying at the Red Cross facility on MSU B campus. On Monday, members from both stakes will be going to Lodge Grass to feed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you have the time and ability to participate in these service opportunities, please contact me at You will need to be available for either a morning shift from 5 am to noon or 1, and an afternoon shift from 11 am to 6 or 7 pm.  Leave you name and phone number and shift time available and I will add you to our list.  We will likely be doing various service project related to the flooding issues for several weeks.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Help for Hardin

We put together a very quick service project today for the Hardin area.  As  you know, there have had very serious issues with flooding around the state, and the Hardin area has been particularly hard hit.  President Griffin asked us put together at least 500 hygiene kits. We put the word out about noon today that we needed helping hands to assemble kits.  We when gathered at 7, more that 100 members showed up.  A big thank you to all who were able to come tonight and help out!  We completed nearly 600 hygiene kits.

There will no doubt be more opportunities to serve in the coming weeks. Tonight we are asking members of the stake to donate clean, gently used TWIN sheets--both fitted and flat.  We also need blankets of all sizes, particularly twin. We will be collecting them tomorrow evening at 7 in the stake Relief Society room.  If you have sheets and blankets you can donate, but can't make it to the church tomorrow evening, please contact me (Chris Jones) directly. We will be collecting sheets and blankets now through Friday.

Please remember the members of our stake in your prayers. Sisters, please check on the sisters you visit teach-make sure they are doing alright. We have members all over the stake who are dealing with weather-related issues.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Teaching Your Teens about Emergency Preparedness

Preparedness 101:  Zombie Apocalypse! 

I recently found this blog on the CDCs website (click here).  Yes, that is the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  It has a bunch of great tips on how to prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse, which happen to also be great tips on how to survive a real disaster.  It also includes pertinent information on the origin of Zombies, which is extremely useful for the uniformed parent of teenagers.  Here is an excerpt:

Better Safe than Sorry

So what do you need to do before zombies...or hurricanes or pandemics for example, actually happen?  First of all, you should have an emergency kit in your house.  This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation sheter or utility lines are restored). 

They then list the basic elements of, you guessed it, a 72-hour kit.  You will need your teen's input to be truly and thoroughly prepared, though.  For example, my son, who is an expert on zombie apocalypse theory, informed me that an essential item that is lacking in the emergency kit is a shotgun.  Apparently, "everyone" knows that you need a shotgun to ward of zombies.

There is also information about Harvard psychiatrist Steven Schoolman who wrote a medical paper on zombies.  He refers to their condition as "Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome."  Needless to say, the blog is very complete. 

If you have had trouble getting your teen (or let's face it, your husband) interested in emergency/disaster preparedness, this may be a great way for you to catch their interest. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Misunderstood Aubergine

Eggplant is such a beautiful vegetable!  It's got that beautiful, glossy, royal purple color!  Too bad it's so bitter, right?  Wrong!  If prepared and cooked properly, eggplant is quite delicious.  First, wash and slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch discs.

Lay these out on your cutting board and sprinkle with salt on both sides.

Stack them in a colander to drain.  You can see the water beginning to be drawn out of them. 

After about 20 minutes, gently squeeze with your palms to remove excess liquid.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. 

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350°.  You can keep the baked eggplant in the refrigerator for two weeks in a tightly sealed container.

The baked eggplant can be used in a stacked sandwich or you can make Ratatouille.  Little children might be tempted to eat their vegetables if they like the movie.  :)

Here's a stacked sandwich on whole wheat artisan bread.  Toast the bread and drizzle with olive oil.  Layer on baked eggplant, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and cheese.  (I used Gouda.)  Put under the broiler until cheese is melted.  Oh, my!  It was delicious!

Ratatouille Provencal
(Eggplant Casserole)
2-1/2 cups diced eggplant
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cups thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pitted black olives (whole)
4 small julienned green peppers (2 large)
   seeds and membrane removed
3 cups zucchini in 1/2 inch slices
2 cups canned tomatoes (or fresh, peeled)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil OR oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish:  Cultured sour cream or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Heat a deep skillet and add olive oil and onions.  Saute until onions are golden.

Meanwhile, prepare the rest of your vegetables.  To easily peel garlic, place garlic on cutting board.

Place wide chef's type knife flat on garlic with sharp edge pointing away from you.

Whack the knife with the heal of your hand to crush the garlic.

This will "pop" the skin on the garlic and it can be easily removed. 

The garlic itself is still in pretty good shape, but ready for a rough chop for our Ratatouille!

Slice the green pepper and zucchini.

Stir it all into the pot with the sauteed onions. 

Roughly chop your roasted eggplant.

Chop your basil or oregano (I've tried this recipe with each and both are yummy.)  Dried oregano can be used if you don't have fresh, but basil just has to be fresh. 

Stir in the eggplant and herbs.  Add about a half teaspoon of salt (remember there was salt on the eggplant, so go easy) and some freshly ground black pepper.  Drizzle on a little more olive oil.  Bring to a simmer.

At this point your Ratatouille will smell awful.  I don't know how else to put it.  You will wonder why you thought it would be good. You will wonder if you've done something terribly wrong.  Your family may start surreptitiously looking for pizza coupons.  I can tell you from experience that you just have to trust centuries of French chefs.  This stuff will be transformed by the cooking process!  Simmer for 45 minutes with a lid on.  Remove the lid and simmer for an additional 15 minutes to reduce the liquid.  At this point you can taste for seasoning and add a little more salt if needed.

Just like magic, everything will have melded together into a pot of creamy, fabulous yumminess.  Now your Ratatouille smells like it should!  Serve with a dollop of sour cream, or with a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.  I like to have the leftovers piled on top of toasted bruschetta, with parmesan grated over it all.  :)