Wednesday, April 30, 2008

on the calendar

My brother-in-law, Mr. Beaver Mtn, is getting his Masters degree on Friday, and then he will take my sister and move Washington D.C. where he's got some fancy-shmancy job waiting for him.

I am not very happy about it.

But, to celebrate Mr. Beaver Mtn's accomplishment, I have been busy whipping up a little something for him -- with the help of my best friend, Photoshop, and a groovy new program my brother hooked me up with -- Inkscape. Here's a little preview of what I've been working on:

Several years ago, at a Beaver Mountain Ski Resort banquet (where my brother-in-law worked as a ski instructor), he was officially awarded the title "Mr. Beaver Mountain". I've always felt that a title like that should come with a calendar -- you know, like Miss Makita, etc. So, I'm finally getting around to making the unofficial one. Don't worry, the pictures are all from my sister and very G-rated -- there's not a bikini or six pack to be seen.

Anyway. It's just fun to have a reason to mess around with Photoshop for hours on end. I hope the end result is what I have in mind. I'm taking it to the printers tomorrow. Wish me luck . . .

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

norbest or butterball?

After a long weekend of scratching, burping, flatulating, spitting and shooting, PB&J and the Middle Carrotstick returned from their first turkey hunt. They got up at 3:30 a.m., in the freezing cold, to track and hunt turkeys. They finally found four turkeys hiding in the trees. Can you see them? They are well camouflaged in their native habitat.

Whoops! My mistake. There's only one turkey in that picture. The other three characters are the Middle Carrotstick and his buddies, D & B.

Here's the picture with the four turkeys.

They had such a great time, and the Middle Carrotstick is so proud. But really, I'd be okay if we kept hunting turkey the old fashioned way:

It seems so much more sanitary.

We are really going to need a lot of cranberry sauce.

Friday, April 25, 2008

green bean casserole

As I wrote the title for today's Good Food Friday recipe, I was struck by the inappropriateness of its name. This recipe isn't your regular green bean casserole made with canned beans and canned soup. This is really really really good. I believe Mr. Beaver Moutain, in reference to this green bean casserole, said in amazement "I didn't know green beans could taste like this!" Yes, Mr. Beaver Mountain, they can.

This, my friends, is what comfort food should be. This is pure joy spread in a 9x13 pan. I am forever indebted to Cooks Illustrated for introducing me to this recipe. They came out with it just in time for Thanksgiving last year. And in honor of PB&J and the Middle Carrotstick, who are out in the wilds of eastern Wyoming with their professional hunting guides -- C,B & D --shooting these:

noble, majestic birds --

I will share with you this Turkey-day classic reborn:

Green Bean Blissful Creamy Casserole Joy


4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups canned fried onions (about 6 ounces)

Beans and Sauce:

Table salt
2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, and halved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound white button mushrooms, stems trimmed, wiped clean, and broken into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
FOR THE TOPPING: Pulse bread, butter, and pepper in food processor until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to large bowl and toss with onions; set aside.
FOR THE BEANS AND SAUCE: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt and beans. Cook beans until bright green and crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Drain beans in colander and plunge immediately into ice water to stop cooking. Spread beans on paper-towels to drain.
Add butter to now-empty Dutch oven and melt over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add mushrooms, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms release moisture and liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and bring to simmer, stirring constantly. Add cream, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add green beans to sauce and stir until evenly coated. Arrange in even layer in 3-quart (or 13"x 9") baking dish. Sprinkle with topping and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling around edges, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

A word of warning: it takes a long time to trim and cut 2 pounds of fresh green beans. At times like this it's a good idea to enlist help -- your spouse, your children (if you can trust them with a paring knife) or even people you might meet on the street (will work for food?) ((if you can trust them with a knife.)) But the end result is so, so worth it. Just plan ahead.

P.S. The Oldest Carrotstick took the picture of the Turkey during the infamous Goat Milk experience. She is very proud of it. She now wants to be a professional wildlife photographer. And I'm not kidding!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

popcorn popping

An armful of blossoms gathering together in a wild arrangement and displayed in your home can bring that elusive Utah spring indoors, and add a delightful sweet fragrance to your living spaces.
However, choose your blooms carefully.

These, though charming,

Will leave your house smelling like this:
I just thought you ought to know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

high water warning

Because I have been feeling like total GARBAGE for the last 5 days, PB&J had to do his own laundry in order to be ready for his business trip yesterday. Of course, he was way too impatient to line-dry his jeans, and, instead, threw them ALL in the dryer. I have been having nightmares ever since -- worrying that PB&J is wandering around California in floods. Pray for him. Please.

Monday, April 21, 2008

boston 2008

Yay!!! My little sister just finished her second Boston Marathon!!!!!

We are so proud of her!

I'm sure it's all because of her tough pioneer stock --

I want to be like her someday.

a whale by any other name

According to Dory, speaking whale is easy. It's just a matter of learning the right dialect -- humpback, orca, beluga, whatever. Unfortunately (or perhaps I should say fortunately), the Middle Carrotstick has a little more than just the dialect to learn when speaking whale, or about whales.

One of his favorite computer games is a zoo simulator that lets you create your own zoo -- exhibits, kiosks, everything. You can make a zoo with normal zoo animals or you can add aquatic exhibits and even fantasy animals like the Loch Ness Monster and unicorns to your zoo.

During spring break he created a new zoo he was very proud of -- his two favorite exhibits were the Loch Ness Monster and the Sperm Whale exhibits. PB&J and I walked by as he was playing and he stopped us to tell us all about his newest zoo.

"Look," he said, "See right here? This is my sperm whale. Do you know how cool my sperm is? The sperm is such a fast swimmer. Did you know sperm can jump?" and on and on... in total innocence. (He hasn't asked, we haven't offered, and he hasn't been subjected to the torture of the Fifth Grade Maturation Program.)

PB&J and I were dying.

PB&J kept egging him on, asking him questions about his sperm whale as we tried to to trying contain our laughter.

Finally, PB&J clued him in on the importance of not abbreviating the sperm whale's very manly name. He listened to his dad, nodded, and went back to his zoo. No big deal.

Glad we got that cleared up. It's good to have your dad around at times like that.

Now, if you need a good laugh, read this post by The Pioneer Woman and make sure you listen to the audio clip of her little son asking for a juice box. It is great.

Friday, April 18, 2008

pms poem friday

Welcome to another installment of PMS Poem Friday. Unfortunately. And because this has been a particularly horrible month, PMS-wise, I am going to share a poem by my favorite doctor/poet, William Carlos Williams. I needed an epidural, or something really really strong. I needed someone who could put me out of my misery.

Instead, this is what the doctor ordered:

This Is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox
and which
you were probably
for breakfast
Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

And there you have it. Not a word of apology or sympathy from the doctor. Isn't that just like a man. And really, why does he need two first names? Isn't that just redundant? Isn't that just redundant?

Go ahead, mock my pain, and I'll mock yours, William Carlos Williams.

I'm sorry for the snarkiness, Doctor. You really are my favorite.

This is just the hormones talking.

oriental chicken salad

To celebrate the arrival of the newest member of our family -- our Asian-inspired hall chest--

(I was worried the black would be to much, but, you know, black is so slimming!

I just love it!)

I decided to share with you the recipe for Aunt Barbara's great Oriental Salad Dressing which is delicious served with a spinach salad with chicken and mandarin orange sections, along with other great add-ins. Read on!

Barbara’s Oriental Salad and Dressing
½ tsp dry mustard
2 Tblsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tblsp sesame seed oil
1/4 c salad oil
3 Tblsp rice wine vinegar
Blend all ingredients together in a blender.
Blend in mayonnaise for a creamy dressing.

Spinach (or lettuce)
Diced cooked chicken (seasoned with Bon Appetit seasoning salt)
Mandarin oranges
Pea pods (optional)
Cucumber (optional)
Toss together and serve with the oriental dressing

If you want to feel really authentic, cut up the raw chicken into bite-sized pieces, heat up your wok with a little oil, and add your chicken to it, stir-fry till done, and then sprinkle the seasoning salt on it.

It's really good. The Oldest Carrotstick claims to be allergic to salad, so I like to make this just to watch her squirm (and because I like it).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Today, in a futile attempt to alleviate the burden of the US deficit by taking money out of circulation, I allowed the boys to deface U.S. currency. We paid good money to smash two pennies flatter than a pancake and imprint them with an image from the museum we were visiting.

In the process of dropping the penny into the machine and watching as incredible force pressed it into oblivion, I had a horrible flashback --the memory of my last mammogram came flooding back.

What nobody tells you is that a mammogram is the medical equivalent of the penny flattener. The only thing missing in the decorative embossing.

Maybe they should think about it -- something like "I had a mammogram at the (Insert your Hospital Name Here)". At least then you'd have a souvenir.

Monday, April 14, 2008

shoulder angels

My bad shoulder angel got the better of me this weekend.

I went to my niece's kitchen-themed bridal shower. For one game we were asked to write down a recipe for
Lasting Romance.

I knew what that meant:

1 cup of laughter
2 handfuls of Friday Night Dates
5 cups of holding hands at church
17 TBLSP of never going to bed angry...

You get the idea.

And I just couldn't do it.
Something in me rebelled.

And my shoulder angel made me write down something scandalous.

Something that made the sweet young bride truly a blushing bride.

And her sister.

And her mom.

I swear, I would never do something like this.

But that devilish shoulder angel made me do it.

My good shoulder angel made me feel a little remorse after I had written it, but I couldn't take it back.

The bride's sister couldn't even read it aloud. She had to pass it on to her aunt, who read:

Recipe for a Lasting Romance:

Lots of Mad Hot Sex!

That should do it.
Any questions? Ask my shoulder angel.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

tortellini with crispy prosciutto

Forgive me, Sister, for I have sinned.

I have not posted a recipe for two weeks now on Good Food Friday. Please forgive me, and allow me to share with you, on Good Food Friday-stretched-into-Sunday:

Tortellini with Crispy Prosciutto

4 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
4 thin slices prosciutto di Parma
1 small onion, minced (about ½ c)
½ c sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tblsp minced fresh sage or rosemary sprigs
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 lb arugula leaves, rinsed and dried (about 2 cups)
1 (9 oz) package refrigerated mushroom tortellini
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 1 Tblsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add prosicutto, and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side or until crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
Heat 2 Tblsp oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and saute about 3 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes and next 3 ingredients, and saute 2 minutes. Add arugula, and saute until just wilted.
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain and add to vegetables in skillet; toss gently to combine. Add remaining 1 Tblsp oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Crumble prosciutto, and sprinkle over pasta. Garnish, if desired.

That is the original, uncompromised recipe. Of course, here in a world of grocery stores largely populated with Green Jell-o and Cool-Whip, there is a dearth of finer dining items like fresh arugula, and even tortellini of a mushroom persuasion. I know, I know, the horror. But this recipe can accept some substitutions (or simply omit some ingredients completely) and it still tastes great. And don't be afraid of Crispy Prosciutto. It's yummy!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

what would ringo do?

A popular talking point among pundits is the education (or lack thereof) of America's children. I just want to assure you that my kids are getting a complete and well-rounded education. The Middle and Youngest Carrotstick have not only mastered multiplication and division, and reading (respectively) this year, but they have also learned the names of the Beatles, and all the lyrics to Blue Suede Shoes.

If I can talk the Middle Carrotstick into it, I'll try to post a video of him singing Blue Suede Shoes. His teacher at school has even tried to teach them Elvis approved actions. At least it's not "If we hold on together. . . . ." a la Diana Ross. If I have to hear a bunch of little kids singing that again at the Littlest Carrotstick's kindergarten graduation, I might just throw up.

I know I sleep better at night knowing that the leaders of tomorrow are so well-prepared for the challenges of the future. Cause it's one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go, cat, go . . .

Sunday, April 6, 2008

go(a)t milk?

This week, the Carrotsticks and their friends tried a new, healthy alternative to that nasty cardboardy milk they get in their school lunchroom, fresh warm goat milk -- straight from the teat:

The kids thought it was weird.

I just felt bad for the poor goat.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


This week in Junior High, we are learning about making lists. Lists are a good way to keep track of important information:

But not that kind of information, come on, this is Junior High.

This kind:

(That particular list is belongs to some random person on Flickr. They are in no way representative of any list I, or anyone affiliated with me, might make. Frankly, that list frightens me.)

Back to Junior High. Junior High kids make lists -- their Top 5 or Top 10. Whatever. And it is really cool to find out if you are one someone else's list. Let me give you an example. Here is a conversation between the Oldest Carrotstick and one of her friends:

Friend: So, who's your Number One?

Carrotstick: I'm not telling. Who's yours?

Friend: Well, I'll tell you who's in my top 5.

C.S.: Okay, but guess what! I'm Tate Olsen's number 2!

Friend: That's so cool! He's so hot!

C.S.: I know! And Max Hallstrom told me I was in his top 5!

Friend: You are so lucky! You are on everybody's top 5!

C.S.: Really!?!? Who?!!?? Mom!!! Go away!!

(whisperwhisperwhisper Squeal!!! Giggle!!! whisperwhisperwhisper)

These lists aren't restricted to just Boy/Girl Infatuations. They can be for friends also. The Oldest Carrotstick got a note from a friend that said, and I quote, "Congratulations, you have made it into Andrea's Top Ten!"

I kid you not.

And so, I just wanted to let you know that I was making up my Top 5,

And, after PB&J and the Carrotsticks, YOU are next on my list!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

out of the mouth of babes (literally)

The Littlest Carrotstick just lost another tooth. This time, in order to clarify his expectations, he left the Tooth Fairy a little note ...

Here's to wishful thinking and dreaming big. . .