About The Country Wife Blog

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mission: It has been a good week in Portland...

We had a good week.  So many sweet experiences.

On Monday I worked hard on gathering email addresses for both fathers and mothers of OPM missionaries so we could send them a letter with instructions about Christmas packages.  We need to get the packages early so we can make up the difference if some missionaries are not going to receive packages from their families.  On Christmas there needs to be a gift for every missionary.

On Monday also the Church Service Missionary area directors came to train Dear One and me, though he is the one who gets the brunt of it...new responsibilities added.  Dear One asked me if I would deal with chatting with these church service missionaries who are local part-time missionaries and who do various things such as inspecting the missionary apartments.  Other things, too.

On Monday ALSO two sister missionaries came in and asked if there were any senior missionaries going to Clackamas because one them had a former companion whose birthday was Tuesday.  She had arranged to meet that sister in Portland to do some shopping together on their preparation day which was that day.  The sister's companion did not like shopping so she refused to go, so guess who got to make the trip?!  It was okay but Dear One said we did not want to become the mail service... It took an hour and a half to drive down there but only about forty minutes to get home, thankfully.  It really was a beautiful day for a drive and we had not been that far out before so all is well that ends well.  The sister was sort of thankful for the gift delivery.

Tuesday brought an end to the email-gathering project thankfully.  Of course, it was enjoyable contacting a variety of people to get those email addresses.

Tuesday also brought a bad low-blood-sugar episode.  Scary, actually.  I ate all my rescue food and still was shaky and sick.  After about 30 minutes I stopped shaking but I felt pretty icky.  I took off and went to the grocery store to get some real food.

Tuesday ALSO we went to Brother G's for a wonderful temple preparation class.  He is such a sweet kind man, so ready and willing and anxious to come unto Christ.  So nice to share time with him.  We feel the whisperings and peace and comfort of the Holy Ghost as we meet with him.

Wednesday was good.  I sent off the email about the Christmas packages, appending my own email address to the end so I could be sure the recipients got it.  By the end of the day the message still was "out there" and not in my inbox.

On Wednesday I found that Freecyle is up and running in Beaverton!  (Not something that makes Dear One's heart sing, I can assure you!). I was able to acquire a Sunbeam Mixmaster stand mixer with the original glass bowls, both of them, that it came with back in the 60's.  My mother had a Mixmaster, though hers was metal, not plastic like this one.  The only glitch with this one is that there were no beaters with it.  I found some online and ordered them.  $17. A good price for a stand mixer if they work.  If not, it is not a lot of money to throw away.

Also acquired on Wednesday was a cooling rack that I have been longing for since I am now baking treats for Dear One and others.  I held off for almost two months but now it looks like it needs to be part of our weeks.  Drat.  Sweets are not something I want in our house.

On Thursday the elevator was back in service after a month of carrying ourselves and the mail up and down 24 steps every day.  Good, strengthening work.  I am expecting to have spectacular legs at the end of our mission from our own 17 stairs.  Those 24 stairs were really good.  I still will use them when I am only carrying myself.  Arms full of heavy packages was a little rugged.  SO on Thursday morning I got out the dolly from the supply room and loaded 10 packages on it and rolled it easily down to the elevator then down to the mail boxes.  That was so great!  One trip!  On Tuesday I had six boxes that took three trips up and down the stairs.

We talked with Son #3 Thursday evening.  He told us that the missionary name tags I had ordered for us had arrived in Vermont.  Duh!  That was really smart to send them there. (I had thought I had ordered them shipped to us here but I am sure it was confusing for those on the other end so...) I hate making extra work for others.  One of the sister missionaries called today to say she did not get all of her name tags, either, so I had to see where the error lies.  I still am not sure...

On Friday I awoke well before 6 and decided to throw on some clothes and walk around the complex for a bit.  3500 steps before breakfast made me feel virtuous.  The fresh air was so good tasting.
Brownie Trifle for the Senior Missionary FHE.  Beautiful dish from Salvation Army Thrift store

Also before breakfast I made a triple apple cake from Chef AJ.  I will write about it another day.

Some of my office work includes preparing orientation binders for incoming senior missionaries.  The previous computer files are confusing to me so I am organizing them in a way to makes sense to me.  I brought our binder in from the apartment to use as a sample and have now found everything we are supposed to include.  This makes me happy.

By the end of the day at the office I had been notified that I had received the email regarding the Christmas packages!  Three of the addresses were wrong, so I called the parents and got the correct ones.
The game we played, and no, I don't get credit if you buy this from Amazon.

That evening we were invited  to Elder and Sister J's apartment for pizza, salad, cookies, and Quirkle.  We had never played the game but had a good time doing it.

Saturday was spent doing errands while waiting for the sister of one of our missionaries to arrive with packages from home.  Eventually I met her at the office and took in the boxes.  We also purchased the  rest of the ingredients for the Family Home Evening treats.  We took Brownie Trifle,  chunks of pepper jack cheese, cranberry-cinnamon encrusted goat cheese, and Wheat Thins.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Food Friday: Broccoli Bisque, Maybe

Today I watched an episode of Chef AJ's Healthy Living on YouTube. Dr. Joel Kahn was her guest. She made some broccoli bisque. 

This is how I made it, but watch the video to see how to really make it.

Into the Instant Pot I put:

8 ounces broccoli
2 small potatoes-12 ounces
1 sweet onion chopped
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic.

Put on the lid and cooked on high pressure for 6 minutes then let it cool down naturally for about 8 minutes but wanted to hurry things along so I quick-released the rest of the pressure.

Added in:
1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast.

With a fork I then mushed everything up until it was more or less smooth.  You are supposed to use an immersion blender but we don't have one and I don't want to buy one.  (I may buy one more kitchen tool, but I will tell you when I decide...). If you have an immersion blender the soup will be lovely and smooth and look lovely.
Broccoli Bisque ready to store.

This made about four servings.  Not that large servings, either.  I thought is was nice.  Not great, but perfectly edible.  Dear One said it was bland and added a lot of salt.  Well, that was the point:  this was a no-oil, no-salt soup to try to clear out the arteries of bad stuff.  He did eat nearly all his bowl of soup, though.  I put much of the rest of it in the refrigerator to lunch some day, then ate the rest!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

More Mission Knitting

 In an effort get further on the hat project,  I decided I would try to knit two hats at once on two circular needles.

The hat I am making is a K2, P2 ribbing for about 8 1/2-9 inches from cast on edge (112 stitches)  then work the crown decreases.  This is a very stretchy pattern, yet it is snug on a smaller head.

Since I had size 7 circular needles...both 16-inch and 24-inch, I decided to use them to work two hats at once.  It turned out that the 16-inch "circ" was a bit too tight to do the job easily.  It certainly can be done that way but not as comfortably as with two 24-inch needles...so off I went to Black Sheep at Orenco to their new location.  It was a challenge for me to get there but I love our Garmin.  (In our welcome letter to the Oregon Portland Mission it was strongly recommended that we bring a GPS with us.  I can see why!  Fortunately we were already comfortable with the basics of GPS.  I am sure there is more we could learn, but it gets us where we need to go.)

I have started getting Chia Goo needles.  The ones I get are lace needle which have a longer sharper point making it very easy to pick up the yarn.  Their cable DOES NOT TANGLE!!!  A very good thing.

112 stitches Patons Classic Wool cast onto two circular needles

On the way home I dropped off a book at the main library then saw a Papa John's pizza and cranked the car to a quick stop and ordered a pizza.  Dear One is always happy when I bring a pizza home to him.  This was a Philly Steak pizza which was on sale for a good prize.  Because he is a vegetarian I asked if they could make half of it a regular cheese pizza, which they could.

One more stop was at Whole Foods Market which I had discovered by chance about half a mile from home.  I was astonished at the prices of things...quite high, except for some canned garbanzo beans which were $.79, the cheapest I have seen them.

When I got home we had the pizza for supper.  The crust was great.  The regular cheese side of the pizza was cheese, but not regular:  no red sauce, just more of the cream cheese sauce that was under the Philly Cheese Steak side.  Not popular.  Having said that,  the cheese size went pretty fast, too.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Munchie Monday: Brownie Bites

It seems like every time we went to a function over the last few years someone had brought brownie bites to share.  They were nice thick round store-bought treats.  The advantage was that if you could each just one, you had a treat and not so many calories as a full brownie.

Last week I was at Michaels, had a coupon, and saw a 24-well silicon baking pan.  Well, I took that as evidence that I should add something to our kitchen arsenal.  (It would have been good if I had seen a cooling rack at the same time...!). So, I did purchase it.  With plans to make some homemade brownie bites some day.

Well, that day may be sooner than I imagined.  One day this week we had a phone call at the office inviting us to the Senior Missionary Couples' Family Home Evening coming up next weekend. AND we were invited to bring the refreshments.  So far refreshments have  been things like carrot cake,  apple crisp, and once, some chopped fruit with only a little watermelon in it.  Dear One suggested that we bring vegetables.  Well, that appeals to me, but on Sunday evening I think most couples are more interested in a sweet. So, maybe I will make brownie bites.

 Because we have "kitchen basics" here, I am using the white bowl whose actual function I do not know. I used it to mix the brownie mix with the red spoonula I finally purchased earlier this week. The rubber scraper here left too much to be desired.  I had brought two portion scoops with me.  This is the two-tablespoon one.  You only need 1 tablespoon of batter per well.  I baked these bites for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F then let them cool for 15 minutes before pushing them out of the wells.  Since we do not currently have a cooling rack, a situation I plan to remedy really soon, I set the cookie sheet on which I had set the silicon pan to bake on top of a second rimmed baking sheet to get a little air underneath.
Here is the second pan of brownie bites out of the oven and nicely cooked.  You can see that I used cooking spray on the pan.  I do not know if that is necessary but I HATE having things stick to pans.

After letting the bites cool at least fifteen minutes I turned the pan over and pushed them out of each well.  No, if you were thinking they would just pop out unassisted, you would be wrong.  They did come out rather easily, though.

Here you can see them as they came out of the pan.  (Yes, you can also see ant buttons in the background.  I am just leaving them there to scare off the ants.  I will dispose of the buttons soon, probably. )

The 18.4 ounce box of brownie mix made 56 brownie bites, 1 tablespoon of batter per well.

Dear One and I are really enjoying the bites.  I had four. I won't say how many he had!  I believe I will take them to the office tomorrow.  Did I already say the?!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mission: A Week of Coughing!

For some reason I cannot shake the cough.  It rather colors everything because I am sleeping more poorly than usual.  Coughing while answering the phone is not good.  Several good suggestions of what to do about it have helped a little but not gotten rid of it.

Last night was so bad that I stayed home from Church today.  I tried to sleep sitting up on the couch and do think I slept a little this morning.  Eventually I got up and picked up the table then taped a map together and hung on the wall so we can see where we are and where we need to go.  AAA has some very good city maps.  By getting two of them I could cobble together a larger one.

Dear One came home from Church to tell me that we are on for a Temple Preparation class TONIGHT!  Well, that will be enjoyable.  Just need to take the water bottle and lots of cough drops in my pocket. Now to get prepared.  I think as part of the class we will show "Man's Search For Happiness", a video that had a huge effect on me when I was 17 years old.
Red roses in the Rose Garden October 14th!!

The office was jumping this week!  Two brethren came from Salt Lake City to do some training with Elder J, the vehicle coordinator.  They spent all morning and then left at 1 PM.

The same day Sister J and Elder J, Sister T, and I went to one of the church buildings about 35 minutes away to check it out for the next Arrivals/Transfers day.  We wanted to figure out the flow to make things run smoothly.  Things to be concerned about were building entry (there are two levels in this building), luggage storage, supper bag lunch location and eating space, orientation location, cars/cards/safety conversations, interviews with President, interviews with nurse,  bedding distribution, waiting space.  We met Elder and Sister B and the zone leaders there (the ZLs opened the building for us then left for a teaching appointment they had) and went through the building several times until we had a feel for what would work most efficiently.  We have fifteen new missionaries arriving so some things will be easier than last arrivals when there were 27 new missionaries.

Shortly after we left the apartment complex heading out for this adventure, my phone rang.  What?!  It was the bishop of our ward asking Dear One and me to come see him at our own church building that night.  Elder J, the sisters, and I returned shortly after 7.  I gobbled down something quickly then Dear One and I were off to church.  The bishop had asked me to text him to say when we arrived.  So I did.  All this electronics is such a new thing to me. I was up with computers but the phone and texting, that is new stuff.  Sometimes it works, sometimes I delete a call before I even get to answer it because I swipe the wrong way.  R-r-r-r!
Some kind of Japanese vegetation near the entrance kiosk at Japanese Garden

So the bishop asked us to take an assignment in the ward:  to teach the Temple Preparation class which I mentioned above.  We have two brothers who are preparing to enter the temple, though they are on different schedules so we will teach them one at a time.

Sister B called one day this week to ask if we sisters in the office would help with the departing missionary dinner in early November.  It should be fun.  We will have two soups that can be served over baked potatoes, green salad, and homemade finger desserts.  I am trying to decide what to make.  I just saw a recipe for Almond Joy Cookies that looks good.  I want to try it out.  I will have to take all but a couple to the office for missionaries to eat because I just know that I will not be able to leave them alone.  Elder J suggested cheesecake, but I don't see that as a finger dessert.  Suggestions?

The big adventure of the week was taking a train ride to Washington  Park in Portland.  Getting my "stroller" onto the train was rather tricky the first time because we did not realize there was a wheelchair entrance.  Duh!  Of course there would be.  The return trips was much easier!
Train station under Washington Park heading towards Hillsboro

We took the free shuttle from the Oregon Zoo (without stopping at the zoo since this was just an exploration trip today) up to the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden.  The Japanese Garden is going to be trickier because it is not very accessible.  We shall see what we can do next trip.  The shuttle driver was a bit cranky when we got on.  I asked if I could bring the stroller.  He said yes.  It was tricking getting it up the stairs and shoved in behind his seat.  On the way back I noticed there was a spot which said--handicapped people wait here.  When the shuttle arrived I noticed there was a wheelchair lift in the bus!!!  So I went to the door and asked if there was a better way to get into the bus.  He heaved a big sigh and said okay fine.   So he was as nice as pie though he did kick the lift a couple of times....  Listening to him on the walkie talkie thing it appears that he was just there to be a help during the lunch hour.  Maybe he had not had lunch yet...that would make me crabby.

Mount Hood in background about middle of picture.
At one point in our walk we could see Mount Hood so I took several pictures.  Not really visible but if you use your imagination you can see the white peaks just above the trees mid-picture.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Food Friday: Spicy Peanut Sauce, Again!

Spicy Peanut Salad Dressing (or dipping sauce)

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce 
2 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons fresh ginger paste (or just finely minced ginger)
1 heaping teaspoon sambal oelek 

Blend very well until a nice smooth sauce. If it is too thick to be a salad dressing, add water, one Tablespoon at a time until the texture is right.

Yields:  about one cup 

This is the recipe I started with but I more than tripled it and blended in the Vitamix since the peanut butter was extra crunchy.  I did not have any fresh garlic so I used granulated garlic at the rate of 1 teaspoon granulated garlic for every clove of garlic mentioned in the recipe.  I washed about 2 1/2 inches of fresh ginger which I DID have, chopped it into four pieces and put it into the blender skin and all.  This stuff is delicious.  There was a little left over.  I took it home and stirred it into some steamed cauliflower the next day. Yummy!  Really yummy.

Vietnamese Salad Roll Wrappers.

Along with the peanut sauce I made some "Vietnamese Salad Rolls" with rice paper I purchased at the Can Tho Market which is within easy walking distance.  I filled the spring rolls with julienned carrots, shredded lettuce, red bell pepper sticks, and, in some, roasted tofu sticks.  

Dipped in the peanut sauce the rolls were really good!

If you have never used these to make fresh spring rolls, don't be scared!  They are very easy to use.  Get out a round cake pan and put about half an inch or more of warm water in the pan.  One at a time, drop in the wrapper and submerge it in the water, making sure all of it submerges.  Remove to a clean cutting board and place a SMALL QUANTITY of your vegetable shreds on the lower third of the wrapper closest to you.  Fold the left and right sides into the middle over the vegetables then roll up like a burrito.  Place in a container that you can cover, and when filled, store in the refrigerator.  I have found that if these get really cold they are wonderful and easy to dip in the sauce.  

If you fill them too full, or try to eat them before refrigeration, my experience is that they fall apart.  You can still eat them but...not as tidily.

This is the second item we brought to the President's potluck Family Home Evening along with the second batch of black bean soup.

***The end of the story on the first iteration of black bean soup is that I have been eating it all week.  It is not inedible exactly, but not fun to eat.  The food is healthy and good for you so I have not thrown it out.  I will be glad when it is finished, though.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Mission: New Kitchen Gadget

In case I have not said so before, I love this kitchen gadget!

Daughter M had one of these on her Lodge cast iron skillet when we visited her in July.  I thought it was a great idea.  Finally I found one online.  It works great!

One thing to know,  if you leave the grip on the pan when you put it in the oven at 400 degrees F.  it will not have the effect you want.  You WILL burn your fingers when attempting to remove the pan from the oven.

Instead: take the grip off  the skillet before putting skillet in oven for whatever cooking project you are doing.  When the cooking is done,  pull the oven rack out, slip the grip back over the handle then, using a pot holder for the other handle on the pan, you are able to two-handedly remove the heavy skillet from the oven.  And you won't get burned.  Unless your potholder is wet, in which case all bets are off...!