Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Who wants dessert?

I was looking over my past posts, and noticed that those about food tended to have the most comments??? Hmm, I guess it's a common denominator that everyone can relate to :-)

So, in that vein, and because it was requested last night at our end-of-the-year 121 party, held at John Groth's amazing glass studio, here's "The Cheesecake".

I do have to give some credit to
Epicurious, because that's where we originally found the recipe back in 2002, but since I've made a few changes over the years (like most people tend to do), I feel okay posting it here. By the way, this is the only cheesecake I'm allowed to make in our home now, even though I have 4 or 5 others that are also very good. I think the fact that this one has sour cream in it, makes it just that much better. Just a note, the parts in italics are my comments, and are not part of the original recipe--they are the tips that we've found make things a little easier, you know, the trial-and-error parts :-)

Uncle Anthony's Cheesecake


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (1/2 sleeve)**
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pint sour cream


**I find the best way to crush graham cracker crumbs is the old-fashioned way: put them in a quart-size Ziploc bag, make sure it's sealed, then take the rolling pin to them until there are no large chunks left. You could also put them in the food processor, but make sure you don't run it too long--otherwise you'll have graham cracker dust, instead of crumbs.**

Position 1 rack in center of oven and second rack in lowest third of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in medium saucepan on low, and remove from heat. Add 1/4 cup sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and mix well~~Watch that you only add 1/4 cup sugar here. One time I wasn't paying attention and added the full 1 1/2 cups of sugar to the crust. The outcome was a caramel-like crust, that my husband actually prefers, however it was a little much for me~~

Though not required, we also suggest adding some wax paper to the bottom of your 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides, before placing the graham cracker mixture in it. This way you can more easily transfer the cheesecake when done, from the pan to a serving dish, which will then protect your springform pan from slice marks when cutting and serving.
Press graham cracker mixture onto bottom of pan, and set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar (we still add 1 cup, even if you made the caramel crust) in large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just to blend after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Fold in sour cream thoroughly. Pour batter into prepared pan containing the crust. Set cheesecake pan on center rack. Fill small saucepan with water and place on bottom rack.

Bake cheesecake 45 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand in warm oven 1 hour; do not open oven door. Remove from oven, transfer to rack and cool, leaving in pan. Once cool, cover and chill until cold. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead).

When ready to serve, release from pan and place on serving dish. If you can, remove wax paper from underneath. If not able to, just remember to cut a little shallowly, so as to not serve your guests a wax-paper crust as well :-)

As sometimes happens with the best of cheesecakes, yours might have developed some cracks in the top as it cooled. This is pretty normal. In fact, I don't think I've made one yet, that hasn't cracked at least a little. That's why we have berries! Or better yet, a little warmed fruit jam drizzled over the top, and tada! No one will even notice the cracks, nor will they care once they take their first bite.

So as promised, my cheesecake recipe. And if you ever need someone to quality test your creation, I'd be happy to volunteer.

Enjoy, friends! K~

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Don't Turn Around

We went for a walk this evening with some friends, after it stopped raining pigs and chickens, and it hit me: Kyra is definitely not a baby anymore! Except for a short time where she was carried because of the narrow, busy street, she walked the whole way--a little over a mile! And that made me think of one of my favorite songs, called "Turn Around".

Written and sung by Harry
Belafonte and the Kingston Trio in the early 60s, it's also one my mom used to sing to me when I was small.

I can't think of another song that says it any better when it comes to the fleeting moments in your child's life. That's not to say that the first couple months before she was sleeping through the night, that I didn't think, "Wow! Are we ever going to get past this phase? It's lasting forever!"

And now as I look at
Kyra, who is growing and changing so much every day, I also can't help but think about a quote I read recently that sums it up pretty well:

"Time is a mother's (parent's) enemy."

They are only small for such a short time, and then, not too long, and it's, "Mom, don't walk near me, and don't you dare hug me or grab my hand in public! MOMM, you're embarrassing me!", with the famous pre-teen and/or teenager eye-roll.

So for now, I'm going to treasure every single time she reaches up to hold my hand, or asks to be picked up, or hugs & kisses me--this is her new thing, by the way, when she's been naughty. When I tell her, "No," she'll immediately pucker up to deliver an "I'm sorry" kiss, and then throw her little arms around my neck and pat my back. I know they have to grow up someday, but dang it, not today!

I've included the lyrics to "Turn around" below, and I challenge you to read through them without misting up--I know I can't, and I've read and sung them a thousand times. I've also included some "look how I've grown" pictures to show how fast a year and half can go.

Turn Around

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby my own
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Turn around (turn around)
Turn around (turn around)
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of the door

Where are you going my little one, little one
*Dirndls* and petticoats, where have you gone
Turn around and you’re tiny,
Turn around and you’re grown
Turn around and you’re a young wife
With babes of your own

Turn around, Turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young wife
With babes of your own

Where are you going my little one, little one
Where are you going my baby my own
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four
Turn around and you’re a young girl
Going out of my door

Only 5 days old
First trip to the beach at 4 weeks old
Sunset Pres Baby Shower--almost 3 months old
With Mommy's Raggedy Annie--5 months old
"Swimming" in the backyard--9 months old
Christmas Eve--almost a year old!
What a doll! 14 months old
So serious! On the Beach in Hawaii--15 months old
First Haircut--16 months old
Enjoying the Children's Museum--16 months old
Sprinkler time--17 months old
Boating on the Snake River--18 months old

Blessings friends, K~

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Psalms & Shepherds

A dear family friend passed away recently, and I had the privilege of attending her Memorial Service today.

Like most services, many people spoke about her wonderful qualities, her long, rich life, how much she loved her family and how much she'll be missed.

The part that stood out the most, however, was when one of the pastors of the church she and her husband had attended for several decades, got up and gave a short sermon.

As he was in his golden years, his voice quivered at times, but the message he brought was strong and true. His 3 point sermon was simple, and included the following story that I just had to share. In fact, I remember sitting there thinking to myself, "I need to remember all of this so I can blog about it later."---How sad is that?!?

Anyway, the story goes like this:

The banquet hall was filled. To speak for the occasion, a renowned orator had been brought in. After a wonderful meal, he mesmerized the crowd with his voice as he recited poetry and famous selections of speeches.

Near the end of the program, he asked if anyone had a favorite selection that they would like for him to recite. From the back of the room, an old man stood up and kindly asked if he would mind reciting the 23rd Psalm. The speaker said that he would be glad to do it if, when he was finished, the old man would recite it as well. The old gentleman nodded his head and sat back down.

In a beautifully trained voice that resonated throughout the great room, the speaker began, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures…” When he was finished, there was thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

He then looked at the old man and said, “Alright sir, it is your turn now.”

In a trembling voice that was cracked by time, the old man began to recite, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” It is said that when he was finished, there was no applause, but neither was there a dry eye in the building.

After the event, someone asked the famous speaker what he thought produced the different responses in the crowd. The speaker paused, thought for a moment and said, “I know the 23rd Psalm, but that man knows the shepherd. That makes all the difference.”

I know that I will see my Auntie Boopie again, because we both know the Shepherd. So although she will be greatly missed, as someone said today, we can take joy, in the midst of our sorrow, knowing that we will see her again when we have the same eternal address.

Do you know the Shepherd?

Blessings, friends~

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Strawberries, Safeway & Starbucks

It's June in the Northwest, and that means it's Strawberry Season! And one of my favorite ways to eat said strawberries is to make Homemade Ben & Jerry's Fresh Strawberry ice cream.

So today, when we received our Harvest Box from the Farmers' Market, and there were 3 pint-sized containers of strawberries, my first thought after eating several handfuls, was "We need ice cream!"

Unfortunately, there was no heavy whipping cream in the fridge, so off I went to the Safeway down the street.

I went back to the dairy section, and what?!?!? There's no heavy whipping cream to be found. They have 3 full long rows dedicated to it, and every single one was empty. There was plenty of half-and-half, but when you're making homemade ice cream, it's just not the same! Yes, it's better for the waistline, but come on.

I resolutely picked up my carton of half-and-half, and went up to the cash register to pay for it. While there, I casually mentioned they were completely out of heavy whipping cream. She said, "Let me have someone check in the back for you. You know, it's been a busy day/weekend with parties, Father's Day, etc." The guy she located said, "You see that Starbucks over there? That's the busiest one in a grocery store, in the whole state of Oregon. And they use our whipping cream for all of their drinks."

If you know anything about Starbucks, you know, that in general, they go through a whole lot of whipping cream! And combine that with a heavy celebratory weekend, and there you have it. They also said they may get more on the next delivery. At 3AM tomorrow morning!!

Obviously that did not fit into my plan, so I bought my lighter fat cream, and plan to thoroughly enjoy my ice cream anyway! Starbucks, I curse thee! Just kidding! I'm still a fan! :-)

Blessings, friends and Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there! K~

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Can Grateful be "not so great"?

Every once in awhile, I get a "Things that make you go Hmmm" moment that can throw me for a loop, so I thought I'd share my latest, with hopes that maybe you'll have some words of wisdom to share:

Is it possible to be Grateful & also at the same time, have a less than positive attribute, like Tiredness? Or does the sheer definition, or essence of, gratefulness insist that to be 'truly grateful' leaves no room for anything negative?

When in doubt, I've always been told to "look it up", so I went to which defines Grateful like this:



1.warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful: I am grateful to you for your help.
2.expressing or actuated by gratitude: a grateful letter.
3.pleasing to the mind or senses; agreeable or welcome; refreshing: a grateful breeze.

Okay, so the definition basically says a feeling of well-being. That's pretty straight-forward.

So, how then can we, as parents, be grateful for our children, and at the same time be exhausted, or frustrated, or even sad or heart-broken, because of something they've done or are doing? Does that mean we're not truly grateful for them?

Talk about a puzzler! Can we ever achieve true gratefulness this side of heaven?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Blessings, friends! K~

Friday, June 8, 2007

High Shelves and Locked Cabinets are our Friends

The other night, we had, luckily, a safe wake-up call that reminded me how important it is to put potentially dangerous items on high shelves or locked cabinets where little people can't get to them. I had grabbed the Costco-sized container of Anti-bacterial soap from the closet to refill our small one in the bathroom. It looks like the big bottle in the picture below:

I was making my way down the hallway, and walked past David holding Kyra. He said, "What is she doing? What does that sign mean?" We've taught her a few signs, like "More", "All Done" and "Milk", just to name a few, so as to help her communicate and not get so frustrated if she can't say the word. Anyway, she was making the sign for "juice", which I recognized, and then I got scared. For she was right. The bottle of soap looked exactly like the Costco-sized bottle of Apple Juice: same size, same color (see below): Then I remembered Parents magazine recently ran an article in their April 2007 issue, entitled, "Is it Candy or Medicine?". There they included the following pictures that should make you just a little nervous:

which is the candy & which is the medicine?

Could you tell, if you didn't look at the cap, which one is the sports drink, and which one is glass cleaner?

Scary, huh?!

I know we can't hover over our children 24/7, as that would drive all of us crazy. However, by taking that extra few seconds and poison-proofing your house by installing Tot-Locks on your cabinets, or making sure your child can't reach those potentially dangerous products that look so appealing, you may be just saving their lives.

And Parents magazine goes on to say, Post Poison Control's number, 1-800-222-1222, near every phone in your house, and store it in your cell phone, because in those precious seconds, you certainly don't want to be searching all over for it.
Stay safe, friends! K~

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lakes, Tents & Boats, oh my!

This last weekend we packed up our bags, loaded up the car, and joined David's parents at Brownlee Reservoir in the Hells Canyon Recreational area for some good old-fashioned camping fun!

Mind you, this would not have been my first choice of recreation, because I don't much care for extreme heat, and they would not have named it Hells Canyon if the temperature topped out at 65 degrees! Also to get there, unless you fly to Boise, and then drive 2 hours, it's a 6 1/2 hour car ride from here. Finally, it's Tent Camping. Enough said.

However, every year right after Memorial Day, David's folks meet up at Brownlee with some friends of theirs from Boise, who have a boat. Typically, David's Dad will drive over Memorial Day, with their RV, and the guys fish & hang out all week, and then the girls arrive the following weekend, David's mom having flown to Boise, and then driving over with her friend.

This year was no different. We also arrived on that following Friday, after what seemed like an eternity in the car. Kyra couldn't understand why she was stuck in the car for that long, and only slept for maybe 45 minutes, so we knew we were in for a real treat :-)

We had a new tent that we inherited from David's folks, since they are now RV-ers. It's fairly nice, as far as tents go: I can stand up in it, and there was room for our queen-size air mattress, Kyra's Pack & Play (her bed for the weekend), and all our stuff. Unfortunately, as tents don't typically come with an attached outhouse, let's just say drinking a ton of water in order not to dehydrate was not fun! I have to say though, this RV park had very nice facilities, including free showers, so it could have been worse--think camping on the Deschutes with the only running water being the river, and no electricity. The other nice advantage with traveling with someone who owns an RV---AIR CONDITIONING!!! Needless to say, Kyra and I spent many an hour in the nice cool RV, when Saturday's temp reached 95 degrees.

We also got to take Kyra on her first ever boat ride. She wasn't thrilled about wearing the life preserver, but not wearing it, wasn't an option. Below are pictures of how she did:

On the dock

I'm not so sure about this...

All this, and you make me wear a hat, too?

All in all, she did very well, both on the boat, and the rest of the weekend, with only one real meltdown at dinner time.

And I think the following picture sums it up the best:

Camping is a lot of work when you're little :-)

Blessings friends, K~

P.S. If you think about it, we'd appreciate your prayers. Both David & I have come down with some icky stomach thing (fever, nausea, etc.), and we're just hoping to get over it quickly. More importantly, that Kyra doesn't get it as well.