Sandy’s Blog

Well, after following my blog for years, my dear wife has finally given into the addiction called blogging.  She followed my ill-advised advice, and used WordPress.  After a brief training session, she finally has a new post.  It is the talk she offered at her grand father’s funeral.

So, please take a minute to check it out.

Oh, and don’t expect much politics over there.  She doesn’t find it as interesting as I do.  But you will probably learn more about us through her blog, then you will through mine.

SODO: Cheesy Chicken and Rice

Well, as thouse who follow my twitter account already know, I have put the dutcho ovens away for the year.  However, shortly after I put them away, I pulled them out again.  Last Wednesday my daughter’s school held Parent Teacher Conference.  And to show our teacher appreciation for the extra long hours, our School Parent’s Organization provide dinner for the teachers on that day.

Last year my wife made a delicious Chicken Corn Chowder.  And this year, I thought that it would be a good excuse to use the Dutch Ovens one last time.  So, I pulled them out of storage.

For this recipe, I decided that we would try one of our families favorite oven recipes in the oven.  It’s pretty simple.

4 chicken breast halves
4 Tbsp of butter
1 Tbsp of basil
1 Package of Chicken Flavor Rice and Past Mix
2 Cups water
1 Medium Tomato (sliced)
1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the chicken with in the butter.  Coat the chicken with Basil.

Saute the rice pasta mix in the the remaining fat until the pasta is brown.  Then add chicken and water.

Cook in 350 degree dutch oven until rice is tender (approx. 1 hour).  I recommend that more heat is on the bottom for this recipe.  Then add sliced tomatoes and shredded cheese to the top of mix until cheese is melted (approx. 5 minutes).

For this time cooking it we used Zatarans Chick Flavored rice for this recipe, and it tasted different than usual.  I think it was because the rice is different than the brand that we usually use (store brand).

Also, the chicken started out partly frozen, so it ended up being very dry.  However, it was delicious, and I can’t wait to try it in a dutch oven again, when I have a little more time.

The Camp of Hikes

Last week our family took our new-to-us tent trailer camping at Spruces Campground. While it wasn’t my first choice for campsites, it really was a good trip.

We ended up leaving on Monday afternoon about 3:30pm. That was a lot later than I had originally planned, but I could get myself moving on Saturday to get the trailer packed and ready. So, we did most of the packing on Monday.

After we got to camp, we decided to do tinfoil dinners first, because the dutch oven meals were still frozen. It was nice. We then settle in earlier than usual for camping, because we had worked hard that morning.

In the morning, I woke up before everyone else (which is typical). So, I decided that I would start the day in searching for a geocache. The is called New Name New Cache and it is located up the Days Fork Trail. It is accessible only through the Spruces campground, but you can park just outside the campground if you don’t want to pay the fee.

It was a rough hike at first, but it levels off near the end and is very pleasant. I was tempted to place another cache to attract people up there, but I really didn’t have a good container. So, I will put one up next year. Spruces seems to be an annual tradition in our family.

When I got home we had a big breakfast of biscuits, sausages, and eggs. The biscuits were done in the dutch oven, and as you would expect from the dutch oven, there were better than from a regular oven.

After breakfast, I got the geocaching but again. So, I offered to take my kids on a hike to find a geocache. We headed out in search of Health Come to Dog Lake. When I got to the trail head and saw that the trail was 2.6 miles, I should have known it was too much for my 4- and 2-year-old to handle, but when I am caching such common sense departs.

After getting about 1.5 miles into the hike, I contemplated turning around. It was a beautiful enough of a spot to call our final destination. There were hundreds of butterflies, a few bees, and thousands of beautiful flowers by the stream. It made a great resting place.

However, after eating the snacks that we had brought, I was renewed. So, we pushed on. I told my children that we would decide about turning back once we got the the fork in the trail. At the fork, it was only a half a mile left to Dog Lake, so we decided to do it. It was a lot rougher, but no more difficult than the first half of the trail. It was at this point I started to carry Capt. Z.

We finally made it to Dog Lake. It wasn’t much to see, but it was a good hike. We thought about pushing on the the cache. But realized that it was 2:30pm and that Mom would be expecting us home soon. So, we gave up on that cache, and decided to find the two that I had already found before. We found the first, but not the last.

We ended up not getting home until 5:30pm. So late, that my wife had called my dad, and was ready to send out the search teams. But my dad assured her, that I was just following in his foot steps and turning a short hike into a forever hike.

Sandy had dinner all ready to go by the time we got home, so I helped her get dessert ready. We had the Great Chicken Dinner that I have told you about again. But we finished it off with some very delicious Orange Knot Rolls. I will share the recipe with you tomorrow. After a long hike, it was very delicious and satisfying. I don’t remember ever eating that well while camping.

We started a game of cards that evening, but the younger kids were acting up, and we decided that we should call it a night.

Wednesday morning, I decided to stick around for two reasons. The first was because we were having German Pancakes in the dutch oven. The second was that I was tired from the 8 miles of hiking that I did the day before.

After breakfast, the kids relaxed and played in the nearby stream, and I didn’t do much. I did take a short nap, and played a little catch with the kids, but for the most part, I watched the trees grow.

After lunch, which was hot dogs and mac’n’cheese, we play a game of ‘May I’ (that’s pronounced like the request “may eye?”). One of these days I hope to explain it to you, because I believe that it is a Gazelem Family phenomenon.

Then for dinner we had barbecue country style pork ribs (if you need the recipe then you have never dutch oven cooked) and baked potatoes. The potatoes were done by wrapping them in tinfoil and then cooking them in the dutch oven. They were amazingly good.

I couldn’t let the day go by without some geocaching, so we decided to do some drive-by caches in the canyon. We started out with a no find, then we had a couple of easy finds by a restaurant and a trail head.

The cache by the trail head gave me an idea of where I wanted to go in the morning. So after an okay night’s rest, I started by going after perhaps the lamest virtual cache in Utah, and perhaps the reason GC.com doesn’t list virtual caches. Then, I headed back to the trail head, and head up the canyon to grab several different caches.

But the main goal to to get a possible First To Find. I knew from the description, and looking at my TOPO maps on my GPS that this wasn’t going to be a pretty hike. But I had to go for it. Because my database was a month old and it looked like a possible First Find experience. The hike up was rough. There was a couple of times that I thought about giving up. But I perservered, and I was the second to find the cache.

My only regret is that my camera batteries were dead and so there were no pictures taken of this beautiful site. I might just have to do this again for the great pictures. But I think that I saw an easier approach while I was up there, so I might try a different route next time.

Coming down was an adventure itself. I decided to follow in the steps of the person before me (not that I saw his tracks, just had the same mind set). And I headed straight down the hill. There were several times that I felt like I was going to fall and break something, but after slowing down just a hair, and keeping my eyes wide open, I managed to get to Willow Heights safely.

When I got home, we started packing up the trailer and started heading home. It was a fun week, and I am glad that despite my misgivings, that we went camping at Spruces. Next year, I will definitely place a couple of caches in the area. Because I know that I will be going often enough.

See More Pictures

SODO: The Late Independence Day Dinner

Like the dinner this post is a little late.

I had to work on Independence Day. Yep, I get July 5 off every year. However, the 4th is always a work day at my company.

But having to work wasn’t going to take away from my celebration. We were planning to do a Dutch Oven dinner on the 4th. But I ended up working late and not getting out of work in time to start a dutch oven meal.

So we went with something simple instead, and made plans to dutch oven on Saturday.

Those plans were pushed off too, because we realized almost too late, that we had a baptism for my niece that I needed to go to. So, again we find out selves without a nice dutch oven meal.

Finally, Sunday night we were able to fit in the preparation time and cooking time to do a dutch oven dinner. So, we started off with some Chicken Durango:

1 Medium Onion Chopped
1/4 cup of Butter
1 10oz can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 10oz can of Cream of Chicken Soup
1 15oz can of Mexican Style Stewed Tomatoes
8 pieces of Chicken

Sauté the the onions in the butter until tender.  Then add both soups and the tomatoes.  Add the chicken.  Let cook for 1 hour.

While you could serve this with tortillas, we went with rice.  It was very good.  The rice mixed with the sauce was good enough to be a meal on its own.

We finished out meal off with a cherry cobbler.  We used some of the cherries that we had just canned from our tree, and added a cake mix and and butter.  I think we used too many cherries, because it was just a little over the top.  But this was definitely a great meal.

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.

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.