Saturday, November 21, 2009

Forest Fire

On July 25? we had a huge lightening storm which started numerous fires in S. Utah.  Unbeknownst to us one of the fires was just over the mountain from our small town.  I have bad asthma and so am always on the look out for forest fires because that means I need to leave the area so that it doesn’t do damage to my lungs. 

I wasn’t feeling very good for a few weeks but didn’t know exactly why when I happened to look out one of our windows and saw a fire at the top of one of our local mountains.  I got online and discovered that it had been burning for weeks. 

On Aug. 20th my nephew, Stefan, and I set out for my sisters house.  I knew that since this fire had been set by lightening and it had been let to burn that they were just going to let it burn itself out unless it got close to buildings.  Unfortunately as Stefan and I were driving we saw another fire off in the distance.  This fire was visible for hours and it was a lot bigger than the one we had just fled from.  We had planned on stopping for the night but the town where we wanted to stop was engulfed in smoke.  There aren’t many towns in the Nevada desert.  So we just drove straight through. 

I was away from home for about five weeks.  The fire near our town came down the side of the mountain.  The Fire Fighters cleared a fire break but our town eventually had to evacuate and several buildings were burned. 

Some families had the fire stop just yards away from their homes.  It was frustrating knowing that my community was going through that while I was sitting safe miles away.  I was worried about my family but they were just outside the evacuation boundary but were on a 15-min. evacuation standby.  My mom and husband had to have a pass to be able to get into our community. 

Eventually the fire was put out and the air cleared.  By that time I had been to the Doctor a few times because of lung damage. 

They put me on antibiotics and steroids.  My voice was gone and when I coughed it was croupy or a whistle.  Eventually I was able to come home but the damage to my lungs had been done.  I’m still not feeling good but after four months of antibiotics and steroids my bronchial tubes are starting to loosen up.  Last weekend my husband and I took a ride to the fire area to see up close what had been burned.

It is amazing to me how brave and how hard the Fire Fighters work.  This year there have been 412 fires started by humans which burned 2289 acres.  721 fires started by lightening, burning 107784 acres.  107 prescribed  (fires started by the Fire Dept. to burn off old brush) fires, burning 19687 acres.  We are so grateful to the Fire Fighters who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. 

My son, Sean, has trained to become a Fire Fighter and can’t wait for the day when he can make a living protecting others.  As a mother it is scary to think of him working in such a dangerous career but he is doing it because he loves people and want to protect them.  Thank you to all of those who serve in their communities to help, serve and protect.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday Food Challenge

I’m switching my Wednesday Food Storage Challenge to Friday and since I’ve posted it this week I’ll pick up this next week.  The websites that I suggested (Blinkies on the side) have soooo much information that it is a bit overwhelming.  One good piece of advice that they all give is to just choose one little thing and do that.  Currently I am focusing on learning how to cook with what I have.  I’m now trying to decide what to cook this week…hmmmm.


Today I am grateful for a wonderful cousin who just succumbed to cancer.  My cousin Tony was the kind of guy that everyone would love to have as a best friend.  He was the best friend of his lovely wife Debbie.  They were partners in life, parenthood and business.  Tony was generous and loving to those around him. 

One fun memory I have of him and his wife was when I moved away from the town where they live.  Me and my best friend were in our favorite restaurant having one last dinner together.  I heard my name and looked up and there was Tony and Debbie at a nearby table with big grins on their faces.  We all said our hellos and it turned out that my friend knew them from years before and had a very high opinion of them.

Eventually they got up and left the restaurant and said their goodbyes.  I was sad that I wouldn’t see them as often.  When we finished our meal we asked for the check and the waitress said that our bill had been taken care of and that we were supposed to order desert.  Tony and Debbie had paid our bill!  The situation made me laugh because it didn’t surprise me at all.  This isn’t a great memory because they paid for our dinner.  It’s a great memory because he was the kind of person who helped people by using his time, attention and love.  Tony has left a great legacy for his children and those who loved him.

Tony was older than I am so we didn’t get to know each other until we were older.  He was the kind of man that made me want to be a better person.  We have lost several loved ones this year, My Uncle Cliff and my Grandson Ethan. 

Some of us get the opportunity to live long lives and some are so special that they are called home to do more important work.  No matter how much time we have on this earth we need to take advantage of the time we have and spend time with those we love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hamburger Vegetable Barley Soup

My Wednesday Food Storage Challenge contribution is my Hamburger Vegetable Barley Soup.  This is the soup I make when I have leftover vegetables or on a cold day.  The house smells so good for hours. 

To go with this soup I will usually make corn bread or put some wheat ingredients in the Bread Machine for bread.  This week I made whole wheat bread and the smells were both so good and strong that they almost fought for attention.  Can you have too much of a good thing?  Now that I think about it I’m not sure if this is a stew or soup.  Here’s my recipe. 

Hamburger Vegetable Barley Soup


1 lb. Hamburger cooked and drained

1 Onion, chopped or 2 Tbl. dried Onion caramelized

32 oz. Chicken Broth

2 cloves minced Garlic or 2 tsp. dried minced Garlic

2 cans diced  or stewed Tomatoes

1 cup Barley or Millet

1 can Corn (or leftover vegetables in fridge)

1 can Green Beans (or leftover vegetables in fridge)

Season with Italian Seasoning or dried Basil, dried Parsley Flakes and Oregano to taste.  Experiment to make it your own.


Cook hamburger (break up) and chopped onion until the hamburger is evenly browned and the onion is caramelized (caramelizing add some sweetness).  Drain the grease being careful to not dump out the onion.  Add chicken broth and garlic to the hamburger and onion mixture and bring to a mild boil.  Add tomatoes, barley and vegetables and simmer until the barley is cooked.  This is a good recipe for a slow cooker also.  If cooking on the stove top be sure to check the fluid level.  If the barley soaks up too much liquid add some water.  You decide how much broth your family likes.

When I made this soup this week I had some fresh celery, fresh carrots and fresh leeks that needed to be used so that’s what I added to this soup.  I also added a can of corn.  I’ve heard that you should try to add as many colored vegetables as you can because each color represents different vitamins.  Plus it looks prettier.  This pictures was taken the next day, when it was cold, because I forgot to take pictures when I was cooking it.  I need to get used to taking pictures.

This soup is different every time I make it because I add something a bit different.  No matter what I put in it though it is good every time.  This week I forgot to season it and it still taste wonderful.  I added a little kosher salt to my bowl, my mother didn’t add anything and my husband added some pepper so we were all happy.  I make this soup when we have company in the winter because it make a large pot full.  We always have leftovers to enjoy!

If you use dried onion and garlic and canned vegetables, everything in this recipe is from your food storage except the hamburger.  I’ve been researching how to can hamburger because it isn’t available in the stores.

Merrium-Webster definitions

Soup: a liquid food especially with a meat, fish, or vegetable stock as a base and often containing pieces of solid food.

Stewfish or meat usually with vegetables prepared by stewing

Rachel Ray has coined the word, Stoup.  I think that must be what this is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Food Goal and Challenge

Bob and I have decided to make some changes in our household.  We’ve decided to start cooking more from our food storage.  For those of you who  don’t know what food storage is or why anyone would have it, go Food Storage Made Easy or Provident Living

I’ve been stressing a bit about whether our food storage is complete and Bob thinks it’s fine as is.  So…to really find out we (meaning I) are going to start organizing cooking from what we have and to fill in the gaps with what we need.  As I was doing some research I found several excellent resources that I am really excited about. 

With all of the crazy natural disasters and job losses we never know when we may need to rely on what is in our pantry.  My sister’s well pump dies a few months ago, on a weekend, and we had no water for several days!  In August of this year our town had to evacuate because of forest fire.  We were right on the border of the evacuation boundary and therefore didn’t have to but we had to be ready for a 15-min. warning to go.

Now not all of us think of these things until they happen to us.  My family experienced a hurricane in Connecticut back in the mid 80’s.  Hurricane Gloria made a last minute change in course and came straight through our area.  We were without power for three days but most of the area was without for nine days!  It was quite something, especially since we had just moved there from the west and had no idea what to do in case of hurricane (I was so grateful for our camp stove and New England clothes line).  Going to the grocery store and seeing shelves empty was quite a scary experience.  Our son’s were four, six and Ryan turned seven the day before we were hit.  We quickly taped windows and cupboards and fled to the cellar with our hamster, batter-operated radio, emergency food, water and Fruit Roll Ups.  Our biggest worry was flooding and keeping the kids calm and happy and what we would do if we ran out of Fruit Roll Ups!  We’ve also been through several earthquakes and other disasters. 

I’ve included buttons to the aforementioned resources on the side of this blog.  There are many more out there but so far I love these the best because they are so easy to follow.  They include lists to help you figure out what and how much you should store and how to store it.  They teach you to cook by recipes and videos!  These sites also help you cook what you have in your pantry and how to shop smart.  I love all of the tips and tricks.  The information has come a long way from the 70’s when my grandparents stored buckets of wheat, sugar and TVP in our closets (my dresses always hung sideways because of the double stacked white buckets).  My sister and I ate all of the Bacon TVP as sandwiches so we learned at an early age to use our food storage.  I’m just not sure that my grandparents knew about the dwindling supply.

Starting this week I am going to make a food storage meal each week and report here each Wednesday with pictures and reviews.  Since I love creativity and a challenge this seemed like a great format to keep me accountable and motivated.  This is going to be fun.  If you have any great recipes or sources please comment with a link and I’ll try them also.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Values?

I’ve started a class by Jessica Sprague called Holidays In Hand and I would like to make a book for my boys about their childhood holidays.

What are our holiday values?  For me at Thanksgiving it was to teach our children to be thankful for their many blessings and the forbearers who came to this country so that they and their descendants could have freedoms that they didn’t have elsewhere.  I wanted them to understand how blessed they were to live in a country where they could worship openly without the threat of persecution or tyranny.

At Christmas I wanted our family to celebrate the birth of our Savior and the love that He and our Heavenly Father have for each and every one of us.  To cherish the Gospel that was restored to this earth.  To treasure the family that they were born into and to be thankful for the way that the Gospel of Jesus Christ had molded their lives.  For many of us in the United States we have become a huge melting pot of culture and environment.  We don’t keep many of the cultural traditions of our forbearers.  Those of us whose families left other countries generations ago can look on a pedigree chart and see that we came from a certain country but we don’t know a lot about the people or their culture.  Some of us can even look in the mirror and see physical traits that we still have such as skin color, hair color, face shape or stature.  In our family our culture has been our religion, where we live, our families and even our careers. 

As we celebrated Christmas we also got caught up in the worlds view of Christmas.  Santa, Reindeer, presents, candy, etc.  Sometimes it was hard to remember the true meaning of Christmas with the lights glowing on the tree and presents underneath.  Sadly at the holiday time there are so many who don’t have enough to eat or a safe warm place to sleep.  As we contribute to help them we also experience the spirit of giving without thinking of what we will receive.  What we do receive though is that warm glow inside knowing that we have helped to lift another's burden and to be thankful for our own circumstances. 

As I watch my grandchildren, I get to experience the magic and peace of Christmas through their eyes.  OK, so Christmas morning isn’t so peaceful but the season also has times were we read the Christmas story out of Luke, sing carols out in the cold, listen to wonderful stories and music of faith and praise.  Help someone in need.  Those are the times we experience a little of the true meaning of the season.