Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Cooking Out of Necessity!

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Not much has happened in the past week, so I thought I would write a different kind of post.  If you know me at all, you know I love to cook especially bake.  Now that I am home with Mikayla full time I find that I have much more time to experiment and try new recipes in the kitchen.  We can get almost any ingredient that we need at the grocery store, but we end up having to make a lot of familiar items and pre-prepared items from scratch.  And those ingredients we can’t find, we have substituted – Ben found a fabulous ingredient substitution list online that we use often.  Here is a short run down of some of the items that we are used to buying already prepared from the store, that we have to make from scratch here in Swaziland.

Ranch dip – I love me some Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix.  Tasty and simple.  The other day we found some sour cream at the grocery so I gave my own ranch dip a try.  I combined a couple of recipes I found and came up with a pretty fantastic dip.  Comparable, if not better than Hidden Valley!  I used salt, black pepper, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, and onion powder and mixed them in with the sour cream.  I didn’t take exact measurements so the next time might not be as good, but Mikayla ate it up with some carrot sticks.

Dressing – While you can buy dressing here, we have opted to make our own.  Mostly we make a vinaigrette from olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed with some herbs and spices.  I would like to try making ranch dressing if I ever find a good recipe.

Whipped cream – Last weekend I made crepes to go along with my mango pepper marmalade.  We had some heavy cream in the fridge so we thought we would try to make some whipped cream.  The first time was a complete failure.  We whipped it for too long and ended up with sweet butter.  Our second go round was much more successful and better than anything you can buy that is already made.

Ice cream – In Swaziland you  can’t find traditional ice cream, only "frozen dairy product".  It is a frozen treat, but far from ice cream we are used to.  Plus with the closest grocery almost an hour away, it would melt (unless we took a cooler with us) before we got home.  Ben’s parents got us a battery operated ice cream maker for Christmas and we are loving it!  The first time we made it, we didn’t have the correct ingredients, but figured we could substitute some stuff.  Boy were we wrong.  It tasted more like snow cream than ice cream –not bad, but not what we were expecting!  The second attempt we found the correct ingredients and we made a vanilla and a mango ice cream.  It turned out perfect, creamy and delicious!  So glad we have the ice cream maker.

Pancake mix – In the states I always relied on Bisquick for my pancake making.  Just add an egg and some milk and you are good to go.  However, Bisquick is non-existent here in Swaziland, so we had to start from scratch.  After a couple of tweaks, we have found a recipe we love and it is easily adaptable.  We can make a plain pancake or switch it up and make some flavored ones.  We have made some pumpkin pancakes using our butternut squash puree and some spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg), and apple pancakes (just add in a little homemade applesauce and chopped apples) just to name a couple.

Bagels – This has been one of my favorite discoveries.  So easy and absolutely delicious.  Also very easy to adapt and change the flavor based on what you are craving.  So far we have made five different batches and plan on making more! 

Angel food cake – Sister Barbara approached me a couple of weeks ago and asked if I had ever made an angel food cake before.  My answer was no, but that I would be willing to try.  I am so glad I did, because it was tasty (and I don’t even like angel food cake) and probably a lot healthier than the store bought version.  I also made two tasty glazes to go along with it – chocolate and vanilla.

Cakes – Pretty much any cake you would find in a box, you have to make from scratch here.  We did find Funfetti cake mix in South Africa but it was super expensive.  I have made several cakes from scratch since arriving and all have been better than any store bought version.  In addition to angel food cake, I have made chocolate cake, carrot cake, apple cake and yellow cake.

Bread products – So far we have only been able to find loaf bread, which means all other bread products have to be prepared from scratch.  We have enjoyed making the following "breads" since our arrival six months ago: breadsticks, focaccia, pizza crust and dinner rolls.

Tortillas – One week we discovered black beans and tortilla chips at the grocery so we decided to have a Mexican meal.  We needed some tortilla shells to go with it so we made some from scratch.  Seriously, they were so easy!  We have made both corn and flour tortillas on several occasions.

Hummus – I posted about our hummus experience a few weeks back, but worth mentioning again.  Super easy to make and modify to your flavor profile.  It will be even easier if we ever get a food processor!  A great accessory to our flour tortillas too!

Guacamole – In the states we typically made our own guacamole, but on a couple of occasions we would buy the version that was already made.  Here on the other hand, you don’t have a choice…you have to make it on your own if you want it at all!

Fudge pops – An easy and tasty frozen treat.  Mikayla in particular is a fan of these!

Apple sauce – Made Grandma Clark style by simmering apples and a little cinnamon!  We almost always have some on hand in the fridge.

Black beans – I love black beans, but am ashamed to say that until I arrived in Africa I had only ever made the "canned" version.  Homemade are SO much better! And it makes a ton so you can have other things besides just black beans and rice.  Some things that we have tried are black beans and scrambled eggs, a black bean and sausage mixture, Azteca Black beans (black beans mixed with couscous, corn, jalapeno, cilantro, onions and some spices), and black bean burgers.

Brownies – I love a good brownie and have tried a couple recipes.  So far I haven’t found a go to brownie recipe.  Any suggestions?

Mac and cheese – Of course we don’t have access to the famous Velveeta cheese that I love, so we have to make our own Mac and cheese from scratch.  The other day I made a tasty mac and cheese casserole using cheddar and parmesan cheeses. 

Pumpkin pie – At Thanksgiving we wanted pumpkin pie so we made one from scratch.  We used pureed butternut squash for the pumpkin and made the crust ourselves.  It was delicious and tasted just like the real thing!

Cinnamon rolls – I almost didn’t mention these because we made them from scratch in the states, but thought they were worth mentioning.  Well worth the time commitment to make.

Spaghetti sauce – In KY we would often make our own sauce in the summer months, but in the winter it was Prego or some other variety of jarred sauce that found its way to our tables.  Now, if we want spaghetti we find ourselves making it from scratch.  Ben is an expert at making spaghetti sauce.

Alfredo sauce – Tried this out for the first time the other day.  With a few more tries and a little tweaking I think we will have a delicious sauce.  A little heavy cream, parmesan cheese, butter and spices you have a delicious and quick alfredo sauce.

BBQ sauce – We have made several variations on a BBQ sauce in the last few months.  They have all been a little on the liquid side, but still yummy when cooked with some chicken. 

Marinades – Pretty much any marinade you would use for grilled meats we have made.  It has been fun to experiment with different flavors and see how they turn out.  Ben is the expert marinade maker in our house.

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Posted in Cooking |

This Week’s Happenings 1/30-2/5

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Is it really already February?  Time seems to be flying by.  We have been in Swaziland now for over six months and seem to be in a pretty good routine and feel 100% confident about our decision to move here.

And six months in, Ben is already prepping for his first trip back to the United States.  It will be mostly business, but he will get to see some family in Chicago so he is excited about that.  He will be gone March 5-24.  If you want more details on his trip just let us know.  We will miss him for sure, but will keep ourselves busy while he is away!

The puppies are growing each day and every once in awhile we will find them sneaking into our house to take a break from the heat.  Here is a shot from them the other day.

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Mikayla got a couple of Signing Time DVD’s from her grandparents for Christmas and has really been loving them lately.  She is getting really good at signing along and really focuses on getting her hands in the right positioning to make the signs.  The other day I was watching her while she was watching a Signing Time and she was signing right along to the video and songs and was even signing words that hadn’t been taught, just shown.  So precious!

On Saturday night Joe (the new volunteer) came over and cooked a fabulous dinner for us.  He made braised rabbit, mashed potatoes and gravy.  We paired it with focaccia bread I had made Friday and some butternut squash chocolate chip cookies.  The rabbit actually tasted a lot like chicken and Mikayla ate it up.  Delicious!

On Sunday we had folks over for lunch to complete our mango chili pepper challenge.  I made crepes with a mango pepper marmalade and homemade whipped cream (super easy by the way).  Ben made grilled chicken breast strips marinated with a ginger infused mango heat glaze.  And Joe made a mango/pepper cocktail with Rum.  The sisters contributed a chili dish.  It was a tasty meal and we had a lot of fun experimenting with different flavors.  I love that I have more time to do stuff like that now!

Tonight, as most of you in the states know, is the Super Bowl.  Our satellite is actually broadcasting it live, so we decided to watch it.  The only downside is that live means 1:00am.  I guess we will just be tired tomorrow.  I told the guys I would be willing to watch it if we had appetizers, so appetizers it is at 1:00am!  I will contributing a homemade ranch dip with veggies and potato skins.  Can’t wait!

On a downside, my driver’s license is set to expire at the end of the month.  We tried to get this taken care of before we left but the courthouse wouldn’t let us renew it because it was too far out and hadn’t expired yet.  There is no way to renew overseas, so I have to get a Swazi driver’s license.  Unless we can figure something else out I will have to go through the whole shebang…written test and driving test.  Should be fun!  To say the least I am not looking forward to it at all.

That’s about it in news from the Kickert’s for this week.  Hope everyone had a good week.

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Mikayla enjoying some toasted pumpkin seeds!


Christmas Can Officially Begin

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

In case you missed my Facebook update this morning, Christmas Season can officially begin in our household.  Today was Cinnamon Roll Day!  Mikayla and I spent the morning making my Grandma Clark’s famous cinnamon rolls.  Which in my mind symbolize Christmas.  I love them so much!  Ben asked today why we don’t make them more often and I said they would lose their mystique if we made them more than just at Christmas time.  Last year I posted about the tradition, you can read about it here if you want.

Since cinnamon rolls are so big for my family, I have spent the past couple of years making triple or quadruple batches to fulfill our desires for their gooey goodness.  However, this year I just made one batch since I didn’t figure they would ship very well (sorry guys).  It was strange only making one batch and we were finished before lunch (this has never happened on cinnamon roll day)!  We had to make a few slight alterations (like swapping honey for the corn syrup), but they still taste a little like home.  To all the Clark family out there – we will be enjoying some cinnamon rolls this week while thinking of you!

We didn’t manage to take but a couple of pictures today (Ben left with the camera), but here are some pictures from several years ago when my sister and I made cinnamon rolls with my Grandma.


Making cinnamon rolls with the best sous chef around!

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Sister and Grandma preparing the surface.  Please note the cinnamon sugar shaker on the left.  This was given to me a couple of years ago and I really missed it this year when making.  It makes the cinnamon sugar part a lot easier!

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Watching the master at work!

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Christa and me! (This was pre-Mikayla, Tanner and Taylor)!


First Thanksgiving in Swaziland

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

We have had many firsts since being in Swaziland, but as Ben mentioned in his Thanksgiving post this was probably one of the most memorable.  Although we didn’t get to celebrate with our family and friends from back home, we did get to celebrate with some very special Swazi friends.  And even though I didn’t get to make deviled eggs with my grandma or eat my sister’s green bean casserole, we still had some delicious eats.  Ben was in town all week, so we ended up having Thanksgiving a few days late on Saturday.  Here is a run down of our menu / evening in pictures.


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Mikayla’s turkey napkin rings

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Mikayla’s textured THANKS banner


Let me preface the food run down – we can get most foods we want in Swaziland, but some are very difficult and near impossible to find.  We searched around for a turkey and ham in all our usual spots and then got a great lead on a turkey from Sharon (the childcare director) and the sisters stumbled upon a hunk of ham at a more "Western" grocery store.  Some of the foods we had to alter a bit, but I will explain that more as we go.

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Turkey before.  This was our first attempt at making a turkey and I think it turned out pretty well.  We made a rub of olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic, Italian seasoning, black pepper, salt and then a dusting of cajun seasoing over the whole bird.  The we stuffed him with celery, onion and carrots and roasted slowly until the cute red button popped!

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Turkey after – isn’t he beautiful?  And I don’t even like turkey!  Thanks to Ben who did most of the work on this guy.

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Steve Kickert’s sweet potatoes, which I think were a recipe from his grandma (but I could be wrong on that one).  I know you are thinking, those just look like regular potatoes, but they are sweet potatoes.  In Swaziland the sweet potatoes are red on the outside like we are used to, but on the inside they are white. 

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Ham pieces cooked in brown sugar, cloves and a little water.  I miss ham!

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Turkey all cut up and then green beans, mashed potatoes and the world’s best gravy courtesy of the sisters.  Seriously wish I could make gravy as good as this!

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Sausage and apple stuffing.  I found this recipe last year and it has become my go to recipe for stuffing (which ironically I only make at Thanksgiving – I think I will change that though).

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In this picture we have my Grandma Clark’s famous cooked apples and my Grandma Adkins deviled eggs.  Just a note on the deviled eggs.  We were unable to locate sweet pickles so Ben took some sweet and sour pickles we found and altered the juice.  It wasn’t quite the same, but it worked well enough.  We also had some butternut squash and a wild green (weed that resembles Spinach) cooked up by Sharon.

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Homemade dinner rolls

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For dessert we had an apple braid (not pictured, but posted about previously).  We also had this pie.  It looks like pumpkin pie and tasted like pumpkin pie, but was actually butternut squash pie.  I couldn’t find pumpkin, but butternut squash has the same texture and similar flavor so we rolled with it.  In the end we were very pleased with the outcome!  You should try it sometime.  Just take your butternut squash, cook it and puree.  Then use like you would canned pumpkin.   I used this recipe my friend Catherine found for me.  For the crust I made a recipe found in Betty Crocker cookbook.  I originally made the crust found in the recipe above, but it ended up crumbly for some reason.  If I were to do over again I would have covered the edges of the crust with foil so they wouldn’t burn.

**To cook the butternut squash cut into large chunks and put in a shallow microwave dish – skins up.  Add a little water to the pan and cook until tender.  Take peel off and then mash with a spoon or fork.

The company:

We ended up having 10 guests including us.  The three of us, Sharon (childcare director), Esau (Maintenance manager), Johannes (Agriculture manager), Ncobile (Office cleaner), Ndumane (used to live at the hostel and now works in maintenance), Mrs. Mamba (works with pyscho social department and is also a teacher at the primary school), and Mzamo (works in the office with Ben doing HR).  The sisters helped with some of the cooking but didn’t make it to the meal.

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In this picture (starting with Mikayla and going clockwise) you have Mikayla, me, Ncobile (the "C" is a clicking sound to start the name), Johannes, Esau, Sharon and Ndumane.  Those not pictured arrived later.

The Entertainment:

After dinner we had the usual conversation time (be sure to read Ben’s post mentioned above for details on this) and then introduced them to the Wii!  It was great fun and of course Mikayla bopped around and was Miss Social Butterfly!  We also enjoyed a great Thanksgiving song courtesy of Mikayla. 

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All in all we had a great time, enjoyed some fantastic food (if I do say so myself) and wonderful company.  We hope everyone had as good of a Thanksgiving as we did.

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Posted in Cooking, Life |

Apple Braid

Friday, November 11th, 2011

While we might not be experiencing fall like all our friends back in the states, we can still eat the occasional fall food.  I have yet to find pumpkin of any variety, but we do have apples.  So this week I set out to make a yummy apple treat.  We had dinner guests coming over for two occasions so I immediately thought of trying out an apple pie for one of them.  Then I stumbled upon this recipe for an Apple Braid.  It not only looks impressive, but was relatively simple to make and even had a nice flavor.  Plus I didn’t need to try and find a substitute for a shortening based crust.  This is something that Mikayla could even help me out with (although she was sleeping when I made it this go round).  Here is a snapshot of the finished version.  We didn’t manage to get a picture of it cut open, but imagine a delicious apple filling on the inside.

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If you want to see detailed description, pictures, and recipe for the Apple Braid click on the link above.

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Posted in Cooking |

This Week’s Happenings 10/17-10/23

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

As we mentioned last week, we were approved for our TRP’s (temporary resident permits) but did not have all the paperwork taken care of.  Well as of Monday we can now reside in Swaziland (officially) for two years!  We headed into Mbabane on Monday and got all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed for our TRP’s and paid an exorbitant amount of money and were good to go.  We finished in record time (only 2-3 hours were spent at the government offices.  We had heard horror stories of all day lines and no success.)  Afterwards, since we had planned on being at the government offices much longer, we found some time to do a little shopping.  I found a health food store at one of the malls that carried black beans!  I was so excited.  That meant that Mexican food was well on its way.  Then at a grocery store we found some tortilla chips!  Another fantastic and rare find.  The whole way home I had visions of Mexican food dancing through my mind (can you tell I miss it?).  We also hit up a fabric shop, to purchase fabric for seat cushions for the kitchen table and apron for me, and grabbed a pizza (or two) on the way out of town.  It was a long day, but extremely successful!

On Tuesday I set out to make a tasty Mexican meal for dinner.  I started by whipping up some guacamole, only to realize I didn’t have any lime juice.  I improvised with a little lemon juice and it was still tasty.  Then I made some homemade tortillas!  That’s right folks, homemade tortillas.  They were actually surprisingly easy.  The only difficult part was getting them thin enough to resemble tortillas.  They were excellent on the first day, but did not warm up as well.  Next on the list was black beans.  Despite losing electricity halfway through cooking (I was using a crock pot), they still turned out amazing.  I cooked up a little meat, threw in some taco seasoning (found at another volunteer house – although we through out afterwards because the flavor was a little off) and had a well rounded Mexican feast!  It wasn’t quite Puerto’s or El Mazatlan, but we still thoroughly enjoyed it.  I have been eating black beans and rice all week.  At breakfast (and sometimes lunch) I have been making scrambled eggs with cilantro and serving with black beans and rice topped with guacamole (or avocado when we ran out).  Mmm…delicious!  I am sad to report that we only have one or two more servings of black beans left.

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On Thursday morning Mikayla and I went out with some child care staff to go on a few home visits.  Mikayla was extremely well behaved and interacted nicely with the children at the homesteads.  She even fell asleep in my arms on the way home.  Sweet (and rare) moment! 

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This is Mikayla at one of the homesteads.  She got out of the car and marched right up to sit down with all the kids.  Picture quality isn’t great because it was taken on my phone!

The most exciting part of our week was on Saturday when we decided to hit up a game reserve about 45 minutes down the road (Nisela).  When we got there they said that they were not doing any game drives because they were working on the rides (ironically enough nobody was actually out in the park working on roads).  Ben ended up talking one of the guys into letting us do a self guided driving tour for only E50 (about 6 bucks)!  We spent the first hour or so driving around and not seeing much of anything.  We saw some kudu and other deer like animals, a couple of ostrich but nothing we hadn’t seen before.  We were getting ready to park and have a little snack when I spotted the first giraffe!!  We saw so many, it was amazing.  They would stop and stare at us.  At the closest point we were probably 20 meters away.  Fantastically beautiful creatures.  I told Ben that I would probably never stop getting excited about seeing giraffes, no matter how many times we were to see them while living here.  After viewing the giraffes (and snapping a ton of pictures) we headed back to the lodge to eat lunch.  And much to our surprise we got to watch the giraffes grazing while we ate our lunch.  Highlight of my week!  I am going to try and post a just animals post soon so I won’t show you all the giraffe pictures just yet!

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It was like they were posing for the camera!

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Our lunch view!  Amazing!

Posted in Cooking, Life |

This Week’s Happenings 8/14-8/21

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The twins went to the hospital on Wednesday for a check up so they were gone most of the day.  Mikayla and I took full advantage of it just being the two of us.  We cleaned, watched a movie and had some fun Mommy/daughter time.  She only complained about the twins not being here first thing in the morning!  We ended up having company over for dinner on Wednesday night (Ben was actually in town trying to take care of some things) and the kids all went to bed late.  That meant they all woke up early on Thursday and for some reason didn’t take good naps.  Needless to say with all the crankiness everyone had early bedtimes!

I made some really delicious banana bread courtesy of a recipe from my good friend Jennifer.  It was delicious and enjoyed by many in the office and hostel. The recipe is below.  That was really the only thing I baked this week because we ran out of butter and it isn’t like there is a grocery store on every corner here!!

The twins are making a lot of progress this week.  Nosipho is crawling efficiently and moving all over the place. She has gone from crawling while dragging one foot behind to crawling the right way.  She is also pulling up on stuff and cruising along the furniture like a mad woman!  She is smiling, laughing and jabbering constantly.  Simo is also becoming very good at mimicking you.  We even caught her the other day soothing her brother when he was upset by patting him on the back like we do.  She has also picked up a few signs along the way.  She now knows eat, more and milk.  Simo is making progress in his own little way.  He is now pushing up (with a little help) while holding on to your hands into a standing position.  This is something that a week ago (and even a few days ago) he refused to do and would hold his legs up so you couldn’t make him stand.  He is laughing and smiling and jabbering along as well.  He will occasionally sign for eat and more.  He is clapping and is still perfectly content to just sit still!  And of course they are both eating like champs.  They eat twice as much food as Mikayla (and poop three or four times as much)!  It is amazing the progress they have made in a week, I can’t wait to see where they are at the end of the month. 

We are getting into a pretty good groove of being a family of five.  Bath time is still a little tricky because everyone wants to be in the bathroom at the same time and if you saw Ben’s video, it really isn’t that big of a space.  We have started letting the twins "cry it out" at night and that is going well.  It takes a little bit longer for them to settle down than it does for Mikayla, but they are getting much better at putting themselves to sleep. 

I also found out that Ben will be in Manzini (the town about 1.5 hours away) for three days next week for a meeting.  I will get a real taste of what it is like to be a mommy of three toddlers then!

I almost forgot, one of the volunteers here talked me into going for a run with her last weekend

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Cookie time!  Or as the Swazi’s would say Biscuit time!

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Beautiful Nosipho

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My baby girl and I

Banana Bread Recipe

Prep time: 5 minutes

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

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Posted in Cooking, Parenting |

This Week’s Happenings 7/31-8/7

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

I have decided to try and give a week’s update at some point during the week.  No promises for how it will go or what day it will be posted on, but I thought I would give it a shot!  Because Internet is really slow here, the posts will probably only include a few pictures.  My last two posts had quite a few pictures and took some time to upload.  We had free Internet at the time so it wasn’t a big deal, but most of the time that won’t be the case!

If you know me at all you know I have a slight fear of ants.  I know they won’t hurt me, but something about the thought of thousands of ants crawling all over me and my house freaks me out.  In BG we would at the start of each summer have an ant infestation at our house.  They would invade our kitchen and really freak me out.  I had Ant killer on hand to immediately douse them and kill them.  Of course that is not what you are supposed to do, but I didn’t care.  I think the ants followed us to Swaziland, but are way worse.  If you leave just one crumb on the the counter they find it within seconds.  This means dishes have to be washed and counters wiped down quickly after a meal.  Something I am not a fan of or used to doing so quickly.  We are getting into a groove though and I am not finding it so hard to do here.  Maybe because we don’t have so many distractions.  We did find a bug killer called Doom here to help take care of the problem if it arises.  Speaking of ants, Mikayla has taken to liking bugs.  She will be walking along and discover them easily on the ground.  She then wants to get down and examine them closely.  Such a curious girl.  I guess I will have to get over my lack of enjoyment for bugs so I can explore them with her!

Mikayla’s imagination is really starting to soar.  She can come up with something to do on a whim and is able to create the most clever activity from things such as a stick.  For example, on a walk the other day Mikayla found a stick.  She proceeded to tell me the stick was a dog and its name was Shiloh.  “Shiloh” came with us on the rest of our walk and even went home with us.  She would periodically stop to pet the stick dog and tell hit good job.  It was hilarious.  “Shiloh” now resides on our front porch next to our digging sticks.

I made yeast rolls this week.  They were similar to Sister Shubert, but not quite at the same level.  Tasty though and not that hard.  The only time consuming thing was letting them rise, twice!  They would have been even easier to make had I had an electric mixer.  All I have is a mixer you stir by hand…the old fashion kind!!  I have a feeling that my baking is going to really improve here and me and Betty Crocker are going to become best friends!!

It is winter here, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it gets cold.  Today for example I am sitting on the porch at 1:30pm and wearing a sleeveless sundress and am perfectly comfortable.   It starts out chilly in the morning and gets chilly at night, but the middle of the day is warm.  This is going to be hard to get used to!  How am I supposed to teach Mikayla about seasons??

Random Mikayla moment this week.  She has gotten to where she wants to “talk about something”.  So one day I said lets talk about itchy eyes, and asked her what we could do to help itchy eyes.  She immediately looked at me and said, “ICHIBAN”.  For those of you in the BG area, you know what that means.  I think our girl has sushi on the brain!!

As most of you may know, Mikayla is a bit of a talker.  Today her talking got the best of her.  She got kicked out of Sunday School and church both in the same day.  Not really, but kind of.  In Sunday school the other kids were so enthralled with Mikayla that they were having a hard time focusing on the teacher.  After about twenty minutes of no focus she asked us if we would please go on to church.  I knew this was a bad idea because she can’t keep quiet!!  So we stalled for a bit outside until it was time for all the kids to go into church and give offering.  She did great with this and walked up to the front to put her two coins in the bowl.  We then sat down and she lasted for a total of one minute before jabbering again and we had to get up and leave.  Because of the acoustics of the church you can hear every little sound so everyone could hear what she was saying and distracting the whole congregation.  We are going to keep trying, but until she figures out when to talk and when to not we may not be making it very long in church.  And until the kids get used to Mikayla, we may not last long in Sunday School either!!  Oh my!!

That is all for now folks.  Be sure to read my other post for some very exciting news!!


Another Family Tradition

Saturday, December 4th, 2010

Last year I wrote about how making cinnamon rolls was a family tradition with my mom’s side of the family.  Another tradition I have always taken part in on Thanksgiving and Christmas is making deviled eggs.  According to my grandma, I have been making these eggs with her and my Aunt Beverly since I was around five.  It is something I look forward to every year and take very seriously!  Just ask Ben!  Here is the process. 

First boil some eggs, let them cool and then peel them.November 004

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Next, very carefully slice the eggs in half and remove yolks into a separate bowl.

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Mash the yolks up really good!  Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper, and sweet pickle juice until you reach desired consistency.  You just have to use your judgment here, years of experience make a difference!

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Finally, scoop mixture in boiled egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.  These are really best if made the day you will be serving them!

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Last, eat and enjoy time with family!

November 018      Mikayla chilling with her great grandma!

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Guess Who??

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

I bet you can’t guess who is lurking in the cabinet? 

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Any guesses yet?  Here is a clue:  She is the cutest blue eye, blond headed 18.5 month old…

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Peek A Boo!  I see you!

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As Mikayla would say, "Mor" or in English "more"!

November 019This child is starting to get a bit of a pot belly! 

This has become one of Mikayla’s new favorite games.  Along with snack, candy, chips and of course reading her books.  Can you tell daddy stays at home with her?  Just kidding, I am pretty sure I indulge in her requests as much as (if not more than) Ben!  Here are some more cute snapshots of Mikayla.

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This girl loves her bubbles!

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She is turning into quite the "shaggy" girl!

On a non-Mikayla related note, I made these fantastic Fiesta Beef and Black Bean Enchiladas the other night.  They were easy and surprisingly tasty.  The only thing I altered was to add some bell peppers (red, yellow and green…all leftovers from a previous meal) and onions.  As well as a dash or two of cumin, oregano, and black pepper.  If I were to make them over again I think I would use the Queso Blanco from Nice and Cheesy (off brand of Velveeta found at Kroger) instead of traditional Velveeta.  The cilantro on top is a must, as it adds a little extra kick to the dish.  We served with chips and Mexican rice.  It also warmed up pretty good too!  This is a definite keeper in our recipe box!