Friday, September 24, 2010

Ooey Gooey Gelato Goodness! YUM.

I will always remember the day it happened. The first time I experienced that kind of love.

It was April 2003, on the romantic streets of Paris, when I sank my teeth into my first real gelato treat at Amorino. Mmmmmm. It was love at first taste. It was one of those times when I just kept saying "Yum!" the whole time I was eating. (Think - What About Bob.) I helped myself to the largest size possible and had the gelato-ier serve me up a good portion of chocolate and berry, and some hazelnut and pistachio crammed on the sides. As my mom and I walked down the little alleyway, we just couldn't believe our taste buds. We went back at least twice more that trip. (And I have returned a few more times on my own since.)

I have always loved ice cream (who doesn't?), but after that tasteful day, gelato became a favorite. But it has to be really good gelato, which can sometimes be hard to find. One of my favorite gelato spots in Utah is Capo Gelateria. I don't want to make myself sound like a gelato connoisseur, but I know when something tastes really good.

For our wedding we got an ice cream maker, which has been one of our favorite gifts! We use it a lot - my most popular flavor has been Cookies and Cream. But since I have improved my eating habits, I have tried to take processed dairy (regular store-bought milk) out of my diet and hence less and less homemade ice cream. That is until I thought of making it with RAW milk - which is a lot better for you! (Well, that's debatable, but for me it is WAY better - see the facts here.) So I got some raw milk at Real Foods (one of the few places you can get it) and tried my hand at some homemade gelato - au naturel!

And to my great pleasure it was and is and always will be...DELICIOUS!!!

The raw milk and whole unpasteurized cream give it such a soft creamy texture. (The great thing about raw milk is you don't need to add cream - the cream is already in it!) The Valrhona cocoa is so rich and deep. And the best part is, the usual upset tummy that I get after eating "pasteurized" ice cream doesn't come anymore! (One of the health benefits.) That means I can eat as much as I want - right?! I think so! I am so happy with this recipe. I dare say it is as good (or better) than my first gelato love in the streets of Paris.

As I sank my teeth into the chocolate creamy goodness (straight from the ice cream maker - I couldn't wait) I exclaimed, "Oh my gosh, this is so good!" and continued to "Mmmmm!" and "Yummm!" while treasuring every bite!
The recipe is below.

Mmmm! I love to stick my spoon in and scrape some off the side!

Some fell on the counter! Oh no!
I may or may not have tried to lick it off...
I made Vanilla too!
Same recipe - just omit chocolate and add 1 Vanilla Bean
Some fun containers from the gelato I bought at Whole Foods.
But I didn't  buy this batch... so ... 
That's more like it!
Here's the recipe! Enjoy!

It's that good!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

these are a few of my favorite things...

Just a few things that always make me smile!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jenny, the STAR for Today!

Jenny, with her boys, after the race!

I want to give a BIG shout-out to my sister Jenny, who ran her first-ever marathon today in Dayton, Ohio!

For you non-runners, a marathon is 26.2 miles!

She has been training strong since March and had a great race.

I talked to her after she finished. She was so excited and happy! She said she never "hit the wall." I was so excited for her!

I ran my first (and only) full marathon in 2004. I started running in March of that year in order to have a good way of exercising without needing a gym, since I was moving to Hawaii for the summer and wanted to stay in shape. 

I wasn't planning on running a marathon when I started running, but then my friends and I decided to do a half-marathon together and when I finished I thought, "What's another 13.1 miles?! I could do this."

So, I made my plan and started training. By that point I could run 13.1 miles, but when I started in March I couldn't run 1-mile straight. Little by little I got stronger and little by little I came to love running. (It was up and down with the love thing.) I remember one time running a 9-mile course and I started crying out loud, "Why am I doing this?!" It was a hard run.

Eventually I came to fully love it and had a great time doing it. I had a great race, but I did "hit the wall" at mile 20 and had to convince myself I was just going for nice little 1-mile run every new mile until the finish line.

I don't run anymore. I don't want to run anymore. I got into triathlons (only 3 mile runs in those) after the marathon, which are so much fun and less intense (especially when you don't train).

But enough about me...back to...

JENNY!!! You are a champion!! I am so proud of you! You are AMAZING!!!! more exclamation points!!!!!! I know how much dedication it takes and I am so impressed with your efforts and determination!!!

Mother of two boys, wife of medical resident and now a super-star MARATHON RUNNER!!!

I love you, Jenny! WAY TO GO!!!! You are great!!!!

Thou Shalt Not Steal

Okay, I didn't. But it felt like I was yesterday when I came home with over $550 worth of designer label jeans for only $10.

That's what I said - $10!!!!

How?! You ask. Well, should I share my secrets? Or keep the goodies to myself? I guess I should share since I wasn't the one who discovered it in the first place. My sister-in-law, McKinley, let me in on the secret.

It's called the DownEast Warehouse. They have a room full of clothes that didn't make it. They are either ripped, multiples or just plain clearance.

It was my first time there, I didn't know what I would find, but I got lucky and hit the jackpot. Most the shirts have small rips or stains, but I will just cover those up with pretty ruffles. The jeans had a few imperfections - but hey, for that price, I will spend a little time and fix them up!
Proof I bought them and only paid $2.50 an item

Here's what I stole - I mean bought :
  • 7 tee-shirts to refashion
(My inspiration right now: I will keep you updated on those projects.
  • 4 pair of designer jeans
1.  Paige Jeans- Laurel Canyon -Retail price - $189.00, My price - $2.50

2.  Joe's Jeans -The Provacateur -Retail price - $167.00, My price - $2.50

3. Adriano Goldschmted -The Legging - Retail price -$148.00, My price - $2.50

4. Big Star Jeans -Peppermint -Retail price - $49.99 (on eBay, retail for more)My price - $2.50

If you want to go on your own treasure hunt, head to the DownEast Warehouse located at:
375 West Hope Ave (1410 South)
Salt Lake City, UT 84115

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

High on a Mountain Top

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other -
Only the mountain and I. 
Li Po - Alone Looking at The Mountain

And it is true. 
I never do and never will grow tired of the breath-taking, awe-inspiring view just outside my window.

Look at those clouds rolling in.

Living Room - Brown Style

When I was younger I could never keep them straight - Family Room or Living Room? My mom helped me differentiate the two.

Family Room = more casual, where the TV is. 
Living Room = nicer, no TV, don't spend a lot of time there. (so why is it the living room?)

If you had to define the two rooms according to how it is in our house:

Family Room = TV, comfy couches, Tanner's office, nicest room in the house
Living Room = grandma's old piano and Tanner's sport court

My kids might have a harder time differentiating the two...

Our house is pretty big for the two of us (we don't use the up or downstairs). So when we moved in I wasn't interested in spending the money and time to furnish all the rooms. We were so blessed to have most of our furniture gifted to us or lent to us. So I left our living room untouched, until we got some furniture for it...

My grandma moved and we got her old piano, which I love to play from time to time. 

But the main attraction is the Arcade Hoops! And besides the couch and bed it is probably the most used piece of {furniture} in the house. Tanner's all time high is 106 in 1-minute. Mine is 44.

And plus, I think it keeps us young. :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Българска Храна


In an effort to relive some of my favorite food memories, I tried my hand at making Bulgarian food in America.

I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints from 2006-2008 to Bulgaria! It was the best experience of my life!  (Well, 2nd to marriage.)

Many people ask when I tell them I lived in Bulgaria, "What do they speak there?" I tell them, "Bulgarian." And then they feel stupid. But, don't worry, I didn't know either. Another question that is not asked, but I will answer today is, "What do they eat in Bulgaria?" I answer, "Bulgarian food." :)

Some of the most popular foods in Bulgaria are:

Мусака - Mousska (potato & meat cassarole)
Баница - Banitsa (cheese & egg pastry)
Кисло Мляко - Kislo Milyko (plain yogurt - don't give the Greeks the credit for this new yogurt and Kefir rage - it is from BULGARIA!!)
Шопска Салата - Shopska salad (tomato, cucumber, onion, & feta chopped salad)

I used to eat these foods daily. I grew to love them for their tastes as well as for the experience and memories created while eating them. 

While Bulgarian food is yummy, it's not the best food in the world. I reserve that title for French food! I have lived in France also and ate some of the best food I've ever had while there. Bulgarian food is fresh, simple and "comforting" - potatoes and meat kinda thing. Not a lot of strong flavor - they use simple spices like oregano. But it is very unique to Bulgaria!

In Bulgaria eating a great Bulgarian dish with Sister Mihaleva and Sister Larkin.
(Please ignore the fact that I am a little chubby in the face...I guess the food was really good.)

Today I tried my hand at making some homemade Bulgarian dishes. I made the Moussaka casserole and banitsa pastry. I wish I could say they were as delicious as the real deal, but I'll just be honest. They weren't. 

Even using the same ingredients, it just doesn't taste the same. Maybe it is the air - Bulgarian air must add more flavor to Bulgarian meals. The American air is messing everything up. Maybe it's the oven, or the milk or the fact that I have to use Feta cheese instead of real Bulgarian сирене (sirenae) cheese. Or perhaps it is the fact that I am just not in Bulgaria as a missionary anymore and life experience makes the food taste differently.

Whatever the case, it was still fun to make it and eat it, even if it didn't taste the same.

I am excited for the day I go back to Bulgaria and savor these homeland dishes once again.

my banista
my moussaka and banitsa
Real Bulgarian banista made by Sister Petrova - a real bulgarian! Sister Wakefield on the right - she could whip up a mean moussaka.
Through the months of July & August there are thousands of acres of full bloom sunflowers.

Out of the GARDEN and into the KITCHEN

One of the best feelings is when I make a delicious meal using garden fresh ingredients! This summer I have been so fortunate to do that a lot.

Yum. Homemade pizza - fresh tomato sauce, garden squash, fresh basil, and mozzarella

Tanner and I planted a little garden box to the side of our house and used the flower bed in front of our house as a little garden patch as well. As you know, we live in the mountains - about 6,000 plus feet high - so our crop season is about 3 weeks shorter than the average in Utah and also we deal with a lot of wind and not a lot of pollinating bees. These circumstances make it a little more difficult to farm.

Making our garden box
In our garden box we planted beets, carrots, collard greens, swiss chard, peppers, tomatoes and squash. The peppers and squash were a flop. Like I mentioned above, we are lacking on pollinating bees up here, so the squash and zucchinis never make it. Tanner tried to hand pollinate, but to no avail. Our squash must have been taking birth control, because it never did produce - even after artificial insemination. The peppers were lame too. I have decided never to plant peppers again. I have no idea how a little plant can produce such large veggies . Maybe I have never seen a good pepper plant - all the ones I've ever seen only get to be about 1 foot tall, but all the peppers I buy are the size of a baseball. I don't get it.

Just the beginnings - it got a lot bigger!

The carrots, beets and collard greens did quite well, well meaning I got to eat them. They were small. But it's our fault. The soil we put in our garden box is rocky, sandy and hard. Next year I am getting soft, lush, dark soil and will plant veggies for my green smoothies and scratch the peppers and squash. I pulled my last carrots and beets last week. They were so yummy in my smoothie, but I was sad to see the last crop go.

We have had tremendous luck in our front garden bed with Green Beans. Oh, how I love a good green bean!!! Yum. Last year I planted green beans for the first time. Tanner said they would not grow, but I cared and tended for my little seeds and we had a great harvest. The Green Bean Gods blessed us again this year.  The tomatoes did pretty good too, they are Tanner's favorite.
Just the little starts
Reaping the "veggies" of our labors
My herb garden

We also are participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a share from a local farm. Every week we get a little bundle of amazingly fresh produce hand-picked from a local farm. The CSA we joined is called Jacob's Cove. I love it. It is all organic and amazing. I used to hate tomatoes - now that I have tried a REAL tomato I really like them. (The ones at the grocery store are picked green and gassed to turn red...yuck! that is why they taste really bland and sour.)

Fresh greens from our CSA
And then there is our fruit orchard! Before we were married Tanner bought a house in Springville, Utah. Actually, he, his brother, his sister and his mom all bought houses right next to each other - we call it Brown Town. The houses all connect to 2.5 acres of land. So being the self-reliant people the Browns are they planted trees - literally I think there are over 100 trees there now. Tanner has 13 fruit trees (peach, plum, nectarine, apple, pear, cherry). He cares for his trees like I imagine he will for his children. He prunes and thins and waters like crazy. They are lucky trees to have Farmer Brown as their master. They are about 3-4 years old and this year we have been reaping our labors. We have too many peaches to eat! Next year we will be canning them.

Look at all that land! See the chicken coop in the back?
Eating an apple fresh off the tree!

Farmer Brown

Brown Town also has chickens and bees. I love farm fresh eggs and honey. I have never had better honey - honestly. Next year, Tanner and I are going to get 6 hives of our own in our backyard.

Farm fresh eggs!

My the shirt and in the jar! :)

I love being out in the garden! It makes being in the kitchen so much more pleasant. I love it when I can make a dish and then point to it all and say everything used to make it is fresh and a result of my efforts!

Eating fresh is the best!!!

Homemade ice cream pie using raw milk and almonds for crust.!
Now that fall and winter are approaching I would love a green house or a method of successful indoor gardening. Any ideas?