About The Country Wife Blog

Friday, September 22, 2017

Food Friday: Vitamix Tahini and Hummus

When I was looking through the Vitamix Blender cookbook I saw a recipe for hummus. I LOVE hummus.  It tastes good and is good for you, unless you eat too much.

At the Winco Foods store last week we had purchased a couple of pounds of sesame seeds thinking of trying to make tahini in the Vitamix. At least I was thinking of making tahini.  Dear One questioned my wisdom.  Again.

 So, yesterday I gave it a try.

Dear One was watching something on his computer screen from Apple on the couch in the living room.  I was in the kitchen about 15 feet away making tahini, which is made by simply putting 4 1/2 cups of sesame seeds into the blender jar and letting it rip. I did need to keep pushing down the seeds with the tamper.  It made a very loud noise for just about 2 minutes when I stopped it.  Dear One came around the separator wall and asked whatever I was doing!  Can you believe it?!    Anyway, I had made the tahini.


As you can see, I should probably have blended a little longer to get it smoother, or put in some sesame oil, but I did not want to do that.

Since that worked, I got out the recipe for the hummus.

Just about a quart of hummus!! Homemade from start to finish and just plain delicious!

This is what I used:

3 1/2 cups of chick peas (that I had cooked in the Instant Pot last week and which were waiting to be used up)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher coarse salt
4 teaspoons granulated garlic
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Put these ingredients all in the blender jar and slowly move the speed button from 1 to 10 then let it blend at speed 10 for a minute.  It is so light and fresh and delicious.  Have you noticed that sometimes the hummus in the store is sort of thick and sludgy?  Well this is not.  I consider it a success. It is too bad Dear One is not much of a hummus person, except in a pinch when there is nothing else to eat in the snack line.  Funny guy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Mission Afghan

Yesterday I was sitting on the couch after a shower and shampoo.  The fans were on since I like to feel the fresh air from the open window.  (If I were a dog, I would be the one with my head out the window in the car with my tongue hanging out enjoying the wind on my face...). All of a sudden I was freezing cold.  I realized in a moment that the only sweater I brought with us was the big old Elizabeth Zimmermann Adult Surprise Jacket made with Hilda Yates' Bartlettyarns.  That is perfect for winter but I did not want to get into wearing in before fall even sets in.

So what should I do?  I had been in the work room taking care of a few more things. I began putting items in the bureau drawers in the bureau Fred from downstairs helped Dear One put in the work room last week. Anyway, I came upon an afghan pattern that I had brought in my luggage by a fluke!


It is a pattern I always wanted to knit but never got to.  Now was the time!  So off I went on a two-hour journey.  Well, if I am going to risk life and limb going out into all this city traffic, I certainly want to get as much done as possible before my nerves give out.

So, I took the Costco receipt with me to make things right there.  (On Friday we had purchased thirteen 2-pillow bags of pillows for the incoming missionaries who will be here on 25 September.  We provide a pillow, a fleece blanket, and a comforter for each missionary.  They bring their own sheets, but in case not, we have a few they can buy. You can imagine the spectacle of a flatbed cart with 13 very slippery bags of pillows driving out of the store trying hard not to bash into any of the other Costco customers.  We did make it to the car and Dear One stuffed them into the trunk and the back seat.  Anyway, when we got to the storage garage to unload the thirteen bags of pillows, we found we had fourteen of them.  Yikes!    Someone had to  go back to Costco and make it right.  That was my first stop.  The girl at the desk was flabbergasted that I would come pay for the extra pillows.

After the Costco stop I went to the beautiful Hillsboro Library to return two books.  After that I went to Joann Fabrics and Crafts to find needles for the sewing machine the nice Relief Society presidency has loaned me (which I discovered I REALLY REALLY NEED!  Today the long slinky skirt that I love but which hangs wrong due to my wretched midriff bulge had had enough of me stepping on it, and the hem started to tear. I have now pinned it and will stitch it sometime soon...).  While there I went through their yarn aisles.  They actually have a lot of them, unlike Michaels which is cutting way back on their yarn aisles.  I found some variegated yarn that I liked and bought it.

There were three more stops: the Asian market so I could get ingredients for Orchid's Cool Tangy Noodles, Pizza Hut for Dear One's pizza fix, then Grocery Outlet for some more bananas for the smoothie machine and scallions for Orchid's noodles, then back to Pizza Hut to pick up the pizza then home.  These long trips are a bad idea because I was so tired when I got home that my resistance was low and I ate two pieces of pizza and tall glasses of dairy milk....

So tired that I was in bed and asleep before 9 PM so I woke up at 11.  Since I knew I would not sleep, I did my Jesus Project reading then went out to start knitting the afghan.  Rats!!!!  I had left the yarn in the car and I was not about to get dressed to go down to get it at that time of night. I looked in my knitting bag and found some yarn I could use for a sample.

This is the sample square:


Of course, it is not blocked but you can get an idea of what it looks like.

Today after Church we picked up the yarn from the trunk and brought it in.  After lunch I sat on the couch and worked up the first "real" afghan square.  After this one you connect them together as you knit. I do not know how that will go but will show it off when it happens.

Here is the first mitered square ready to start square 2:




The yarn is Red Heart Super Saver Stripes collection. I picked up 8 different stripes patterns.  We shall see if they go together well. I think this is the brightest of them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mission Crafts!

There is very little time/energy left over after a day at the office and whatever running around we need to do before going home.  On the other hand,  it is often possible to make time for a quick craft. In this case, making earrings.

Granddaughter L and I had our ears pierced shortly before we left Vermont on our mission (mine had been pierced when I was in college, let to heal over, pierced years ago, let to heal over, etc I decided it was time to become serious about earrings because most women look fabulous in earrings. Especially dangling ones.)  When in Utah with Granddaughter A, we went to the Michaels store and purchased a small earring tool kit and made some earrings together.  (This sounds like something I might have mentioned before, but I will carry on...). Anyway, I brought the tool kit to Oregon with me thinking I might make  more earrings.

A few days ago I was ready for some new earrings.  This is what I made:


Friend Tammy sported some gorgeous teardrop earrings years ago. I have been wanting some myself ever since.  Finally I found a string of beads at Michaels which had  several of the teardrop-shaped beads so I made them.

The strange black/gray shiny beads came from a glasses holder that I tried out but which drove me nuts because I could see the beads hanging down at the corners of my vision.  They just did not work holding my glasses in place.  (I had been taking off my glasses to see the computer screen but then could not find them because some paper or other had covered them up.  When I wanted to see the sisters across the room I needed the glasses so I was always scrambling to find them, thus the glasses holder.  I tried two different ones.  Neither worked.  Now I just stick my glasses in the front of my shirt.  Of course now my hand is always touching the glasses so they are smeary all the time...Oh well.)

Anyway, that is the second pair of earrings, and those beads work much better as earrings.

The third pair is sort of a bird wings/wings to fly sort of thing.  Rather inept, but still, I do wear them.


Monday, September 18, 2017

Munchie Monday: Four Fruit Smoothie with a Vitamix Scale and Blend App!

We like smoothies at our house.  You know that.

On Friday we were at Costco walking down the main corridor and there, right in front of us, was the Vitamix demonstrator guy. I asked him what he was selling us this time.  He said, "A four fruit smoothie."  He put the blender jar on a little kitchen scale that looks like it is made of stainless steel, and said, "Watch!"  So we did.  It was a really interesting five or ten minutes.

 He connected his iPad to the scale via Bluetooth then started cutting up fruit and putting it into the jar as the iPad told him how much to add then beeped when he had enough in the jar.  After an orange, a slice of fresh pineapple, four strawberries, some agave syrup, some baby carrots, some VEGAN(!!) protein powder, and some ice cubes,  he placed the blender jar on the Vitamix base then pressed the Smoothie button.

In about 45 seconds he had a pretty and delicious-looking smoothie.  He put six little 3-ounce paper cups on a tray.  He told me not to touch them, which I thought was odd, but I did not touch them.  He poured the rest of the smoothie into a large red Solo cup, then handed that cup to me!!  Well, thank you very much, good sir!!!  Dear One drank one of the little cups then shared mine with me. I could not drink it all.

Well,  guess what!  We walked away with the scale AND the vegan protein powder.  And have used the scale multiple times since.  With smoothies at juice bars costing in the neighborhood of $5 a smack, we will pay for this thing in savings very quickly.  Plus, it makes me smile.


Immediately upon arriving home, I made the Four Fruit Smoothie.  Ours does not look like the one in the recipe because rather than using straight ice cubes, I used the ice cubes I had made with "leftover" smoothie earlier in the week...the blueberry and kale smoothie. (One problem I have always had with smoothies is that there was always too much for just two reasonable servings. ) Somewhere I got the idea to put the leftovers in the ice cube tray then use them in the next smoothie.  It works!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mission: Week Four

Week four has come and gone.  In a flash, really.  It is unbelievable how quickly time goes by.

Things I learned this week:  there are so many people and things for which to express gratitude.  I will share some of them.

Each morning when all the office missionaries have arrived we take a short time for a devotional. I have mentioned this before, I think.  Someone gives a thought and someone else prays for us.  (One of my responsibilities is to make up the calendar.)  It is a lovely way to start the day.  We use the same theme for three weeks.  We have one more week on the topic of gratitude.

This week the UPS guy came loaded with boxes.  Multiple days.  He used a hand truck to bring them up and kindly took them to a spot in the office where they were out of the way, more or less, instead of leaving them right front. I am very grateful for that.

One day the Post Office delivery man brought up two boxes that would not fit into our mailboxes downstairs in the lobby.  That was so nice of him.  The next day he, too, came with a hand truck filled with boxes.  Note to self:  if you love missionaries, it is nice to send them mail whether boxes or letters or cards.  Better get doing it.  It makes a difference for the young elders and sisters who are far from home and doing things that do not come naturally.

It seemed like every delivery person who came to the office this week - Fedex, UPS, USPS, Amazon (did you know Amazon has a delivery team?!! I didn't but we received deliveries twice this week from the nice Amazon girl.) each of them came into the office with their loads, and left with a smile. They always seem to perk up when we thank them.

Another thing I am thankful for is the people who make an effort to make our days more pleasant.  Who take time to help us feel important or needed.  One day President came to the office and stopped at my desk for a moment to ask how we were doing, how we were fitting in.  He did not need to do that.  It makes me happy and grateful for moments like that.  So many other times a quick word or a simple smile have the same effect.  I want to do that more often for other people.

This weekend I have been reading in Elder Clayton Christensen's The Power of Every Day Missionaries. I read two chapters.  The first was about teaching people to pray.  Many people learned some rote prayers when they were little children and did not learn to talk with Heavenly Father in their own words. I did, as a child, but that changed when I became a Latter-day Saint where we learned to pray and pray every day all the time.  In this chapter Elder Christensen talks about teaching people to pray for themselves.  It is really a lovely chapter.

The very next chapter is about teaching people how to study the scriptures.  I am so grateful for that chapter.  I have read the scriptures most of my life, but the pattern he suggests will make a huge difference in what I take away from my personal study.  The nuts and bolts of it is:  pray (out loud is best) about what you are going to read, read it,  write a short draft paragraph about what you read, pray again about what you got out of it,  read the passage again, then write a final paragraph about what you read, and finally pray again to talk with Heavenly Father and discuss what you are going to do with what you learned as you studied.  I am going to try this method and see what happens. I can only imagine it will take scripture study to  a vastly different plane.  If anyone else try this, please share it with me.

Probably I have mentioned my "Jesus Project" where I am reading all the verses in the Topical Guide to the Scriptures that are about Jesus Christ in all the scriptures. In March I had gone through the Topical Guide and copied and pasted all the references into a document then fiddled around with it to make it coherent/neat and tidy (to my way of thinking) as a PDF document then printed it out.  It is 63 pages long.  I have been moving along very slowly in this reading, but after a very rocky start, I have been reading at least a few of the references every day.  Today I am on page 12 and the topic:  Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd.  There are 25 separate references.  I hope to get them all read tonight though this will not be the same as the study project from Elder Christensen.  I think I will apply that to my reading of The Book of Mormon.  )If anyone wants a pdf copy of this Jesus Project, just email me and I will send it. ) It is helping me develop a greater relationship with our Savior.

There are other things that I want to share about this week but will put them in other posts as this is getting longer again.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Mission: Housing Coordinator...

Dear One's specific assignment is to be the housing coordinator.  With nearly 200 missionaries in the mission, there are a lot of apartments to see to.  There are a few part-time missionaries who help out as housing assistants  whose service is inspecting the apartments of the young missionaries.  The rest of the people have to be housed.  His job is to see to it that there are apartments available and habitable for them.

Some things he does:

Signs lease agreements

Makes sure the rent checks have arrived at the right addresses or get the correct addresses into the "system"

Makes sure the apartments have basic amenities

Deals with apartment managers and their concerns

Moves mattresses into apartments that are to have a second set of missionaries staying there

Closing apartments that are no longer needed because missionaries have gone home

Verify that smoke detectors are checked and working every month

Checks to see that new lease agreements have the proper signatures

Passes along apartment complex messages to missionaries  which come to his email and where the missionary presence might be a blessing to others, as in end of year barbecues, etc.

Makes sure utility bills are paid and up-to-date

Moves furniture from one apartment to another or to the storage garages when not needed

Manages the storage garages

Collects excess kitchen and other items from the apartments and puts in storage garages

Inventories storage garages

Manages about 100 units you might say

Cleans up/organizes the computer files which have been used by multiple housing coordinators with multiple work habits and ideas.

Sources housing for new missionaries

Help move missionaries on transfer days

Helps with  transport of missionaries and luggage for move-ins and move-outs

Help Transportation coordinator, and Finacial Secretary as needed

Remove trailer hitches from missionary cars

Install tires on mission trailer

Keep track of mission truck

Work with Housing Assistants (inspectors)

Attend zone conferences as needed.

Help Spanish missionaries with fleas in their apartment

Teach the High Priests and Elders on the third Sunday in our Ward

Deliver documents to the Mission President's home for his signing

AND generally do anything that is needed - especially as it relates to housing

Oh, and try to keep my wife happy while not allowing her to accumulate too much STUFF! 

You will notice that the last sentence was written by Dear One!!  In my own defense:  I have not accumulated THAT  MUCH stuff...Instant Pot, blender, waffle iron, three 2-gallon buckets with Gamma Seal lids, a stainless steel strainer, some cute jars to hold bulk spices, a cast iron frying pan and lid.  Is that so much? :)😊

Monday, September 11, 2017

Munchie Monday: Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats!

We have had overnight steel cut oats before and really liked them.  There may actually be a post sometime in the past year about them.

It seemed like a good idea to try making hot steel cut oats, so I looked for a recipe and found one for a starting place.

This is what I did:

Placed 3 cups unsweetened plain almond milk in the liner bowl of the Instant Pot.  Added 1 cup steel cut oats. Stirred will then put on the cover and pressed the "Porridge" button and let it go.  When it was done, I let it cool down naturally which took about 15 minutes.  Cool down is rather a misnomer because it is only the pressure that cools down, not the contents of the bowl!

When I took off the cover I stirred the contents well and let it sit a few minutes while I diced up a banana and got a cup of frozen blueberries out of the freezer.  After stirring the fruit into the oats, I measured out a cup of the fruit-y oats into each of two bowls.  There was another half cup or more left over but one cup was enough for us to eat.

With the banana in the bowl there was no need for sugar and the milk was already absorbed into the oats.  It was pretty good.  I would not walk across town for it, but still, it was good enough, and rather quick, for a cold morning.  Actually, it wasn't a cold morning, just an experiment, but Dear One did not complain, so it is something we will have again when it really is cold. I hear that it can get down to 30 degrees F. here in the Portland area...