Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Finally Fall

FALL IS CREEPING into the Valley of the Sun, and I have to admit it's one of my favorite times here in Arizona. The first inclings of fall signal the light at the end of the tunnel, the coming sweet reward for enduring the refiner's fire of summer. Respite is on its way. The sweet summer treats of strawberries, cherries, and melons disappear from grocery store and are replaced by pumpkins, apples, pomegranates and squashes of all different shapes and colors.

Fall in Arizona means double digit temperatures, lower electric bills, open windows and fresh air. Fall in Arizona means coming out of summer hibernation and enjoying the outdoors again with bike rides, hikes, and nights relaxing on the back patio. Fall in Arizona means ASU football and letting the kids go trick-or-treating without wearing a big jacket to keep warm.

There's only one thing I miss about fall that we don't get much of in the valley, changing leaves. To find evidence of autumn leaves you have to head North, and even then it doesn't quite compare to the autumn leaves elsewhere. This is one thing I'm earnestly looking forward to in our upcoming trip to Philadelphia. So listen up Philly trees, you have 2 weeks before I get there and I expect to see a full fall spectacular. Rich reds, bright oranges and golden yellows, the WORKS! I don't know when I'll ever make it back out your way thus making this possibly a once in a lifetime trip. Don't be shy or modest, show me what you're working with.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mom's Secret Recipes

MY MEMORIES of growing up are filled with recollections involving my mom's home cooking. Dishes that evoke memories of home, comfort, and family celebrations. Recipes that come from the tattered pages of Relief Society collaborations of wards past, or old recipe cards stained from years of use. It is only natural that after leaving the nest and building one's own family, you would want to learn how to make these cherished morsels so that you could continue to enjoy them and share the experience with your new family. However, it seems that they never come out "quite how mama made them." Some may say that's because Mom's put that extra bit of love into everything they make. Nay, NAY! It is because they leave out key ingredients, steps, or give you the wrong recipe entirely. I give you,

EXHIBIT A: Potato Soup
I loved my mom's potato soup. We ate it on cold days, warm days, sick days, or just because days. One day last year I had a sudden craving for THE potato soup and emailed my mom for the recipe. I made it and was sorely disappointed in the result.

Me: Are you sure those proportions were right on the recipe you gave me? It came out much more watery than I remember.
Mom: Let me look...that is a lot of water but this isn't the recipe I use.
Me: But I asked for YOUR recipe.

EXHIBIT B: Several other soup recipes

Mom: Oh I don't have a recipe for that, I just add the ingredients till it tastes right, but I can tell you what's in it.

EXHIBIT C: Peach Cobbler
This recipe has 5 ingredients, and my mom said it's a very easy recipe, which on the surface it is.

(After looking at the recipe) Me: Mom doesn't this have nutmeg in it? There are no spices listed here.
Mom: Oh yeah! The recipe doesn't call for it but I usually add some cause I like the taste. I should probably right that down, huh.

The first time I made this peach cobbler I got half way done when I realized there was no cooking time listed, merely "bake until brown." I put it in the oven, I watched, and removed when it had a Golden brown color on the top. The cobbler looked beautiful but scooping into it revealed uncooked mushiness.

This week I made a second attempt at the "very easy" cobbler and let it cook until it was good and brown, the edges bordering on burning. As it cooled, it collapsed, apparently still not quite done. "Chef Ramsay would kick me out for my cobbler," I sighed. At least it still tasted good.
Maybe mom has a magic oven, either that or mine is plotting against me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Say hello to my little friend!

His name is...

I spent numerous days and hours researching and looking for this little guy but he's finally here. Our relationship is fairly new and he is kind of complicated to figure out but we're working on it. Buttons, menus, and options, Oh MY!

I think Rebel and I will have a lot of fun though. He's sleek and sly, and probably sees things better than I do with his 12 megapixels. For sure he sees better than his predecessor, tiny 5 megapixel Coolpix.

We've known each other about 2 weeks and I'm already becoming attached and protective. I'll share him with others but give the motherly look of "drop him and you're dead."

We wish you could all come with us on our numerous adventures, but you may just have to let Rebel tell you about it when we return.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Row, a float float, 3 girls in a boat

Summer is starting to come to an end, but before we pack away the wake-boards, board shorts, and tow rope we took our nieces out for their very FIRST trip on a "motorboat."

CASSIE was fearless. With her fiery red hair whipping around her, or covering her face, she tackled boating head on. It wasn't long before she asked when we were going water skiing and if she could ride the tube alone.

DESIREE was equally adventurous and brought us a touch of beach glam with her wispy white cover up and blond locks.

AUDREY was cautious. She periodically warned us about towing her sisters too fast on the tube, and emphatically stood her ground about not getting in the water past dangling her feet in off the back of the boat. Word on the street is though that she's considering going on the tube next time with her dad.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Everything you need to head out into the world...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Do the Can Can!

Today my mom and I got together to do a bunch of canning, including...

This was only my second time doing any kind of canning, and my first with these items. But all the work was fun to prep, and pack...

and wait, to get these beauties!

Slowly but surely we're building up our food storage with some tasty vitals. Now how soon can I crack open a jar/bag/can eat it?

And, wow, does anyone see what I see?