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Welcome Home PandaMae

Last year I went with my oldest daughter to Girl’s Camp.  Back then I thought it was for her.  I felt that it would make it easier for her to be away from the family for a whole week.

Let me explain, in the LDS Church many there is an organization for the teenage girls.  It is called the Young Women’s organization.  It’s primary focus is teaching the girls the gospel of Jesus Christ.  But the “young women” often learn life skills and have fun.

Each year as part of the learning about Christ, and having fun, and learning life skills, each local organization hosts a camp out.  It is simply called “Girl’s Camp.”  However, in our local church group, girls who are 13- and 14-years old have an extra opportunity to go to Oakcrest.

This camp is filled with crafts, hikes, games, and a night out under the stars.  there are lesson on life, religion, family, and more.  I have never been so I have only a small figurative peak at what they do, but from most girls I get nothing but rave reviews.

Well, if you follow my twitters, then you know that PandaMae left our home for week to go to Oakcrest.  She was very excited and couldn’t wait.

While I sensed some hesitation at the drop off, I knew that she was happy to go.

However, as I think it over, I suspect that the hesitation was mine.  I didn’t want her to go.  I miss my little girl.  Even though she is very quiet, and sometimes she can be in her room for hours and no one notice she is gone, something is different in our home.

Something is missing.

Today she comes back.  And I can’t wait to get home and see her.  I can’t wait to hear about her adventures.  See her pictures, and hopefully get a glimpse at a testimony that has grown.

It’s funny.  My wife is the one who can’t stand the thought of our children growing up and leaving the house.  I often comment on how much I can’t wait tell all the birds have flown the coop.  Yet, it is my wife who has been stellar.  She seldom comments on PandaMae’s absence.  While I don’t think a day has gone by without my mentioning her as gone.

I will probably be the won crying at her wedding too.

Reflecting back to last year, and to the hesitation at the drop off for Oakcrest.  I think that it is me who is more worried about these adventures.  My little girl that used to wake me up with her respiratory alarm at 3 months, the little girl who used to ride her big wheel in the balcony of our apartment, the little girl who used to think that I could fix anything including the credit card in the 3.25″ floppy drive is not my little girl any more.

She’s my big little girl now.

Welcome home PandaMae, I hope you had a fun time.

SODO: First Time Baking Bread

For Father’s Day my wife more than took care of me. Actually, if you ask me, she went a little over board. But, I finally have some items that I have been wanting for a very long time. So, I forgive her.

I received two things that I really wanted. The first was a Camp Chef Dutch Oven Table to make it easier to cook. Now I don’t have to bend over and risk hurting my back.

The other thing that I wanted was Charcoal Lighting Basket (I didn’t get the one pictured, but you get the idea). This will hopefully help me to get my coals to cook more evenly, and thus have a better cooking experience.

Finally my wife got me something else that was on my list, but not as high as those two. She got me a second 12″ Round Dutch Oven. This will be especially nice when I want to cook two things at the same time.

My New Toys in action

So, that’s what we did. Yesterday, we cooked up a roasted chicken. Nothing special there. Just clean a whole chicken, season it (we use seasoning salt), and then cook it in your oven.

But we complemented the chicken with some fresh homemade rolls. My wife for years has been using the “refrigerator” bread dough recipe. It will keep in the fridge for up to about a week. So, you can have fresh bread almost all the time. Just let it rise, then bake it.

FRIDGE DOUGH

1 Pkg. Yeast (abt 2-3 tsp)
1 cup cool water
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup Hot water
About 6-7 cups flour

  1. Mix Yeast in 1 cup cold water
  2. Mix eggs, sugar, salt and shortening
  3. Combine ingredients of 1 and 2 and Hot Water.
  4. Mix in flour until dough is no longer sticky. (Dough will not be firm, but not sticky)

Store covered in a large greased container. Dough will raise some in the fridge so be sure to allow room for growth (Use within 10 days or it will get to tasting a little ripe.)
Makes about 3 recipes worth.

Sandy mixed all of the ingredients, and placed them in a tinfoil lined Dutch Oven. Then we let them rise in the heat of the sun for about a half-hour to 45 minutes.

Then we cooked them in the Dutch Oven. It should have taken around 30 minutes, but my coals were damp, and they didn’t get very hot. I think I have finally learned my lesson to bring my unused charcoals into the garage to stay dry.

I was really nervous that the rolls would be burned on the bottom. But they were, They were just shy of being perfect on the bottom. The top, however, wasn’t done as well as I would have liked. Yes, they were very edible and the flavor and texture was just fine. The only problem was that they didn’t brown on the top. They were as pale as when they were put in the oven.

So, I am going to have to research and figure out the best way to brown bread on the top in a Dutch Oven. Otherwise, the meal was fine (accept we ate late again today).

A Look at Facebook

Well, since the beginning of the year, I have been on Facebook. You may have noticed the little picture and logo on the left side.

And honestly, I don’t know that I understand it.

Okay, it has been nice to connect with a few old friends. But that is about the extent of the fun of facebook for me. All of the games on facebook are dumb at best. And there doesn’t seem to be any really useful.

So far most of the “spam” that I have gotten through facebook is from people who want me to rate them and tell them how much of a friend they are to me. While some of these have been in creative ways, none of them have interested me.

Honestly, if your sense of self-worth comes from someone else’s evaluation of you on facebook, then you need to get a life.

I am sure that there are other applications on there, but none of them have found me. I haven’t spent much time looking into them. But what I have found just seems pointless.

Am I missing something here? Are there any facebook junkies that want to show me the rope? Because except for finding a few old mission friends and old neighbors and friends, facebook as proved to be fairly pointless for me.

Twitterpated

Again I find myself using a title that isn’t completely accurate.  Some one is going to take me down for violating truth in advertising laws.  The title just seemed witty and I couldn’t not use it.

I recently decided to give in a get a Twitter account.  I had heard about it before, but I really didn’t see much value in the application.  So, I just let it be.

However, recently some cohorts expressed a desire to communicate with me using twitter.  After a couple of days of thinking about it, I decided that it couldn’t hurt.

Here is where the deception in the title gets revealed.  Twitter is okay.  It is nice for doing an occasional update on what you are doing.  And maybe if more people who I cared about used it more often, then it might be worth my effort.

But for right now, it is a fun toy.  Something that I will play with for a while, but I am sure eventually it will go by the wayside like my old Geocities account from almost 10 years ago (before it was owned by yahoo).

Anyway, if you can’t wait to see what my latest adventures are, then check me out on twitter.  If you want to share more of your life with me, then let me know and I will follow you.

Parunuweap Canyon

On a little lighter note, but something that is just as much fun for me, I would like to tell you what I did this weekend. While many in my county were working at the convention, I decided to get away.

Yep, I traveled down to Zion’s National Park and enjoyed an 18.4 mile hike through some of Utah’s beautiful red rock country. We started out the trip by meeting up with the rest of our party at the East Gate of Zion’s National Park. It was a beautiful way to start our trip.

Then we heading to beginning of our trail which was located just south of Mt. Carmel on a dirt road about a 10th of a mile from US89. At first we worked our way down the road past the first gate, but from everything that my guides read, we needed to park at the first gate. So, we dropped our packs off as far as we dared take the truck, then we drove bak to the first gate and hiked to our packs.

There were many great pictures of buttes and mesas along this trail. I couldn’t help taking picture after picture. But it was also perhaps the least interesting part of the trail, because he hadn’t yet entered into the red rock that I love.

The first part of the trail is both an off road trail and a horse trail. So, while were were mostly by ourselves (accept for one small meeting with some ATVs) there was plenty of signs of people having been in the area.

The sun was starting to set as we got into the red rock part of the trail, and more and more we spent our time walking in the water. This was actually really nice because it would be a nice refresher to tired and sore feet. When we arrived at Mineral Gulch we knew that we only had a few hours left and my guides had read that there were several beautiful rock formations in the gulch. So, we donned our wet suits, and I put my camera away (I didn’t want to get it wet), and we trekked into the gulch.

They were correct. It really was full of some beautiful rock formations. I truly regretted not having taken my camera for two reasons. First, it was very dry. The wet suits were completely useless, but mostly I regret not getting some great pictures. My party was probably tired of me, because it seemed that every time I turned around a new corner, I saw a face in the formation. I really wish that I had some pictures of them to share with you.

That night we settled down along one of the Sandy banks just at the mouth of Mineral Gulch. By the time we got out of the gulch is was getting dark, so we barely had enough time to set up camp and get a fire started. Then we ate dinner, and as soon as my food was eaten, I went to bed. I was tired, and I say no reason to stay up and talk.

The next morning, we woke up had breakfast and headed out on the trail at 9:00 in the morning. Again we saw many great rock formations. But there wasn’t a lot of time for picture taking because we had 11 miles of trail ahead of us, and the last 4 was supposed to be the hardest.

I wish that I could describe the beauty of the place, and the best part of the hike was knowing that we were one of very few people who have ever traveled in this area. However, we know that these trails have been traveled for many years. One of the signs were these fun petroglyphs that were located about 500 feet from the trail, and well worth the brief break and trip of the trail.

One of my main goals for this trip was to hunt for a couple of geocaches. But this trip proved a disappointment for this trip. There was one cache that was on the must do list. It was called Fat Man’s Misery, and from what I understand it was reachable from where we were. Unfortunately, we lost satellite reception when we got within 350 ft. and we didn’t pick it back up again until we passed it by a tenth of a mile.

There were a couple of other caches that we passed, but one of the men with us wasn’t interested in geocaching, and really didn’t seem to want to indulge me. So, I came home without even one find on this trip. I was hoping to find one after he had left our group, but by that time I was very tired, and my GPS just up and lost all of my personal waypoints. So, I was left with nothing.

But, before I get to the end of the trip, I have to write about the last 4 miles. It was by far the toughest hike of my life. The first mile was straight up. Not so bad that we needed gear, but there was definitely one point where I felt that one slip would have cost me my life.

The next two miles were up hill, after up hill, after up hill. I was beginning to wonder if it would ever head down, which according to the elevataion chart it was supposed to.

The last mile was still pretty rough. Yes, it was finally heading down hill, but like the rest of the trail is was mostly sand. So, that double the amount of effort you needed just to walk in a straight line.

During the last 2 miles, I kept trying to listen for cars so that I knew I was close to the end. But we didn’t hear any cars until we could see their headlight just a head of us. Yes, I said head lights. We didn’t get off of the trail until around 9:00pm, and I was purely beat. I took everything in me to make this trip, and I had a terribly wonderful time.

Spring/Summer of Dutch Oven (SODO)

About a month and a half ago, our office had a Chili Cook Off with a $100 cash (well, Visa Gift Card) prize for first place. I decided that I would enter with a Dutch Oven Recipe that I found on the Internet thanks to the good people at Utah Association of Geocachers.

I won. $100 that I still haven’t decided how to spend.

But that isn’t the point of the post. Since then I have cooked one dutch oven meal every week for my family. This will be a little bit of a challenge, because as of yet, I own one and only one 12″ dutch oven. It is great for casseroles, deserts, and roasts. But if I want to do a meal of separates, we might just have to use the conventional oven.

The meals that I have cooked have ranged from the pre-cook off test run of chili for the family. To this weekend we had breakfast before Conference out of the dutch oven. I cook the typical but always delicious peach cobbler. It wasn’t as brown on the top as I would have liked, and some of the peaches were a little burnt. They weren’t too burnt, just too far beyond caramelized.

Then to end the Conference we had a delicious Beef Roast with potatoes and carrots. Again it was excellent. The beef was a little too crispy on the bottom, but honestly, it tasted great. It almost added a little jerky flavor to the meal, and everyone liked it.  Hmm… I see a new family tradition starting…

Both of the recipes for this came from the Better Home & Garden’s Checkerboard Cookbook that my wife and I received on our wedding day (or she got it at a wedding shower). I mention that because in future posts, I hope to share the recipe. But since I am at work, I don’t have the recipe, so I am offering up the source.

As I just indicated, this is my first in a series of post about my adventures in dutch oven cooking. I hope to keep you posted weekly on which recipes I am using, and how it turned out. So, keep your taste buds under control this Spring/Summer, because I am going to be sharing some culinary delights. Just keep your eyes open for the SODO preface to indicate that it is about tasty goodness.