Saturday, August 14, 2010

On the Verge of Adventure

Through the blessings of my parents, we have been given the awesome opportunity to take an extended vacation to Montana, via RV from Alaska, through Canada. Our very first international travel as a family. Perhaps this will be the only time we get to go on a true vacation, as it is so very expensive, so we are going to try to make the absolute most of it!

We will be driving from our home in Soldotna to Anchorage. Our first rest stop, will be in Fairbanks after picking up the RV in Anchorage and doing a little shopping to stock up on necessary items. We decided to visit Chena Hot Springs for a low expense spa experience. Chad will be able to let his muscles recover and be ready for the long drive ahead. Then, on to...

We are praying for no hitches going through the border. There was a hiccup getting our passports (fyi: don't bother wasting your money on expidited service, it isn't guaranteed), but after talking to each border crossing on either end, I was assured that while there is conflicting information on our US government pages (surprise, surprise), the border agents only need a birth certificate, valid driver's license, and receipt from our attempt to get our passports. I verified and all was okay'd. Whew! I'm not sure what all we have available to us, but we have lots of books and I am researching our route. I am hoping to have service here and there so I can do updates at the very least, on Facebook (check the left side bar for a link to my profile).

Finally, we will arrive in....

I am so excited to show the kids places I played as a child, hung out as a teen and wandered as a young adult. I had shown them places on google map using the street view. I have started a list of places to visit, that may or may not be totally unrealistic. I just want to soak as much of Montana as I can and take a few jaunts down memory lane. I want to get a real frosty mug of A&W Root Beer at the car hop. I want to watch a movie at the drive-in. I hope we have time to go on a train ride to The West Glacier Park. So, for any readers I may have (anyone out there?), if you are planning a trip to Montana and are toting children, check out Montana Kids for great info. Stay tuned for pictures and updates!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A School In Need of Votes!

I thought this would be a great thing to support. Just a week ago, some heartless vandals trashed the Redoubt Elementary School. They smashed anything they could lift, broke out windows, emptied fire extinguishers and left beer cans all over the place. School is set to begin soon and a lot of computers and equipment were destroyed. The ones who suffer, are the kids, who have done nothing to deserve having their education tampered with. This would be an incredible blessing. Please consider voting at least once for our school if you choose to support another. Thank you!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Heavenly Lemon Surrender!

What is more summertime than ice cold lemonade? Nothing, I tell you! Our neighbors and I decided this weekend would be a good time for a garage sale, and to sweeten the deals, the kids were out selling blueberry iced tea, coffee, and lemon/limeade. Not from a powder mix mind you! Fresh squeezed, ten lemons and six limes, until 2 a.m.! So I still had some lemon juice reserved and the lemon peel, and decided that a zingy lemon cookie would have to be made. This was done the following night, until 3 a.m. Yes, I have a problem, but I can quit whenever I feel like it, and if I needed sleep, then I would eventually pass out... right?

So, this recipe was found on the web, but I had to fix it, because it had tons of scathing reviews that it was all wrong and didn't work. I figured out the problem (a butter, flour ratio issue and construction problem) and added extra lemon and zing and I am excited to make it again and try doing a batch with candied ginger. So, here it is kids, a wonderful cookie that is a little pucker, very sweet and so very summertime!

Lemon Zinger Cookies

  • 4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C lemon zest, about 6 to 8 lemons
  • 5 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 2 C (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes room temp
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 3/4 C lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixer with paddle, add sugar and lemon zest. Process until sugar and zest are well mixed, about 20 seconds. Scrape into a large mixing bowl. Reserve about 1/2 cup of lemon sugar in a separate bowl for later use.
Add flour, baking powder and salt into mixer and mix just until combined. Add cold butter into flour mixture and process with short pulses until mixture resembles cornmeal and no large lumps of butter remain. Add the sugar and lemon mixture and mix well. I found my mixer (kitchenaide) nearing capacity, so a cover with the shoot is recommended but if you are careful, its not necessary.

In a medium bowl, mix egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon juice together.

While the mixer is running, slowly add egg/lemon juice mixture and mix until well combined and dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 15 to 30 seconds. You may need to add more flour (1 Tblsp at a time if it is still too soft)

Scrape the dough into a large bowl and refrigerate overnight. Use a tsp to scoop the dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets.
make sure the ball isn't too big; btw: the quarter was clean!

Take the dough balls and roll the tops into the reserved lemon sugar. Do NOT press! Leave in dough balls! If you press them, they might flatten out so much that they risk burning.

Bake the cookies until slightly browned, about 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper with the cookies from the tray to a cooling rack and cool completely. Enjoy with a tall glass of cold milk or iced lemonade if you want the full citrus experienced (fresh squeezed!).

This recipe makes A LOT of dough! I made three dozen before I had to call it quits. I belive I could still have another two dozen. This dough freezes well though. I roll them into logs, in wax paper so I can just cut into discs, peel off the paper and bake!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

London Broil: Unknown to London and I'm Not Broiling It

According to Wikipedia, London Broil is not a cut of meat, but the method in which it is cooked. The cut is typically flank steak. Further, it is unknown to London, England. I chose this meat, because it was on sale and I wanted a large roasting type of meat to cook in the crock pot. For some reason, I am craving red meat, which may or may not be due to me being in the process of relactating (I'll discuss this in another post). I love the process of marinating over a period of time, because the flavor isn't just on top of the meat, but all through it. Here is a wonderful recipe for a marinade that is divine. I put this in my crock pot, because it's so much easier to start in the morning and go about my VERY busy day without worrying about if it's drying out or the house catching fire.

I was running around with "too many irons in the fire" as is typical for the average mommy and ended up finishing making the marinade one handed, with Lachlan in his wrap, while feeding him a bottle to prevent a break down. I felt pretty accomplished. Only thing that would have made it perfection, was if I could have been nursing. Soon though. Soon.

Marinated Slow Cooker London Broil

To begin, the night before the desired day for having the London Broil, make this marinade for the meat and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight:
  •  1/4 C. balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 C. lime juice
  • 4 lrg cloves of garlic minced or 4 Tblsp jarred minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C. olive oil
Place all ingredients into a large zip lock bag, squishing around to mix and then add your 2 to 2 1/2 lb London Broil to the bag. Put in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, in the crock, put potatoes and peppers. Pour 1/4 C. water over all the veggies. Carefully remove meat and place on top of veggies, then pour remaining marinade over meat and veggies.

In the crock, ready to cook!
Cook on low over 6 to 8 hours.

The marinade soaks into the potatoes along with the juices from the meat and the onions are almost caramelized. The whole cooking process makes the house smell divine and I am pretty sure I saw some poor hungry single men hovering around the windows of my house, attracted by the smell of my wonderful homemade meal. Poor things. So, single gals, this may be a great trick for luring a good man into your lair.

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