19 September 2013

Mint Chocolate Pie

1 baked graham cracker crust, or a chocolate cookie one, or a regular crust.

1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup milk
3 T butter
1/2 T vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipped cream
9 chopped peppermint patties

Combine the first five ingredients and bring to a boil over medium, then cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.  Pour into the prepared crust, cover, cool, and chill for 6 hours.  Combine the cream and peppermint patties and spread on top.

18 September 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

These are our family's favorite cookies.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup-1 cup chocolate chips

Mix up and press into an 8x12 dish.  Bake at 175/350 for 20-25 minutes.

17 September 2013

Mormon Scones

I've tried to figure out why scones in Utah don't look like scones anywhere else, but whatever the reason, this is how I make scones. You probably call them something else.  This recipes makes a lot.

2 cups warm buttermilk, yogurt, or milk with a bit of vinegar added
1 Tablespoon yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 T oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 T baking powder
1/4 tsp soda
4 cups whole wheat flour, plus more for rolling
Oil for frying

Combine everything to make a soft dough, cover, and let rise.  Punch down, cover, and let it rise again in the fridge overnight (you can skip the first rise if necessary).  Roll out and cut into whatever shape you like and fry in hot oil.  I shallow fry them on a griddle.  You can roll them out thicker or thinner as you prefer. Drain on paper towels.

Move #20

There's another move coming up soon.  This will be our 20th since we were married almost 16 years ago.  I am so ready to stay put in Mexico for two entire years. We haven't stayed in one house for two years in a very long time.  Here's how long we've stayed in different places for about 10 years, with a few gaps.

Current house for 4 months
6 weeks
8 months
10 months
8 months

We should have been in our house in Seattle for 28 months, but we had to move out in the middle for repairs.  So that's 11 months, 1 month, and 15 months (give or take a week or two).

12 months
14 months
10 months
12 months

And that takes you all the way back to 2002 when we built a house and lived in it for 26 months.  That was a lot shorter than we'd planned but it turned out to be a long time for us.

So I am delighted about the idea of moving into a new house soon and being able to plan on staying there for 2 years.  I might not ever want to leave.


There's a GPS system in our car.  We've never had one before- just a small Garmin for geocaching. 

I love that there is a map sitting right there all the time.  I have zero sense of direction and I hate navigating by landmarks, and it's awfully hard to be reading a map when you're driving, so having a map sitting there is so cool.  I still have my map in my head, but I can't memorize every street in northern VA.

I still use google maps to get anywhere new.  The GPS in the car is definitely not reliable, but at least we discovered that on short, familiar trips.  So we don't tell it where we're going and everyone is happy.

I'm really not a huge fan of the whole thing though.  Sure, it'd be nice when you move as often as we do to have a device that takes you places, but I've also noticed that it's really easy to rely on them.  There have been a lot of times when I've asked someone where a new place is (not even how to get there, just where it is), and they can't tell me because the GPS told them how to get there.  I know it's just me, but one of the most important things to me when I move to a new place is to get oriented on a map so I know where I am.  Driving off just following a GPS would drive me nuts.

But I still love the map, so I like having the thing in the car.

16 September 2013

Apple Crisp

Chop up enough apples to fill a 8x12 baking dish.  Mix in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 T flour, and 1 tsp cinnamon.  You can add some lime juice too, if you like.

In a separate bowl combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups oats, 1/4 cup butter, and 6 T flour.  Sprinkle that on top of the apples and bake at 190/375 for 30-40 minutes.

15 September 2013


1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
2/3 cup flour

Mix it all up and bake in an 8x8 dish at 175/350 for about 25 minutes.  This is still a work in progress because I've never hit on perfect brownies.

14 September 2013

Mystery Flatbreads

I wrote this recipe down a really, really long time ago and I have no idea where I got it or what it's called.

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup warm water
1 tsp years
5 cups flour
1 T salt
1/4 cup melted butter

Combine everything except the butter, knead, and rise three hours.

Roll the dough out on a lightly flowered surface to 10x18 inches.  Brush with half the butter, then roll up the dough starting with the short side.  Roll out again to 8x18 inches.  Brush with half the remaining butter, roll up again from the short side, flatten it a bit, then cover and rest 10 minutes.

Roll it out again to 8x18, brush with the rest of the butter, then cut it into 8 strips about 2-3 inches wide and 8 inches long.  Roll those up, turn on their sides and flatten them with your palm, cover, and rest 10 minutes.

Preheat a baking stone to 450/232.  The stove takes longer to heat than the oven, so wait for at least 10 minutes (preferably 30) after the over comes to temperature. Roll the first two breads into 5x10 inch rectangles, place on a baking sheet, cover loosely, and let sit for 15 minutes.  Bake 12-14 minutes till golden.

13 September 2013

The People's Guide to Mexico

So one ought to read books about Mexico before moving there.  So I got this one after poking around the bookstore a couple of times.  And it's perfect. Every country in the world needs a book like this about it.  Sure, it's sort of of guidebook, but it's more a why-you-should-love-Mexico-as-much-as-we-do book.  This is what I want to write about Kyrgyzstan.

It's not a typical guidebook because it doesn't tell you which hotels to stay in.  Instead, it tells you about hotels and various places to stay in Mexico so you can figure out your options yourself.  It doesn't tell you what to do in Puerto Vallarta, but it makes sure you're not going to sit in your resort while you're there.

It also has really great sections on camping, driving all over the country, plunking yourself down and renting for a while, culture, history, and a bazillion other things.  Really, it's huge.  And fun.  And exactly what I needed. I'm still working my way through it and expect to use it while we're there.

And then I need to go back to Kyrgyzstan lots more times so I can write a book like this about Kyrgyzstan.  Because most people going to Kyrgyzstan need to know why they should love the place.

06 September 2013

Homeschooling 2013 Version

Yes, we're still homeschooling after all these years.  There's not really another option when you move as often as we do.

This year is different though.  I've been homeschooling just the two older boys together since we went to Kyrgyzstan the first time 8 years ago.  They've used some different books in math and grammar, but mostly they've done everything together.  This year the oldest is starting high school and will be doing an online program.  That'll be much easier with our upcoming move plus multiple moves during the rest of his high school career.  All we need is decent internet access.  One can hope.

The youngest is starting kindergarten this year.  It has been so long since I taught someone to read, or write.  It's a lot more interesting to talk about Soviet history or do algebra and chemistry. We'll probably have him go to school in Mexico for a few hours a day so he can learn Spanish and have fun.

So with those two out of the way, I get to focus on my middle son.  He's been working a year ahead of his official school age, not because I really planned it, but it just sort of happened.  I am so looking forward to having a year where the schooling is about what he wants to do. 

There's not much reason for me to post what we're doing this year.  I don't choose for the oldest, kindergarten is as easy as can be, and my middle son will mostly do what the oldest did last year.  We're beta testing WWS 3 and I haven't quite decided what to do for history since we did modern history last year and there is a year before we need to start ancient history again. 

04 September 2013

Discarding Russian

One of the hardest things about learning a language for me is getting the old ones out of my head.  It took me forever to stop speaking Arabic when we went to Kyrgyzstan the first time, and when we were there the second time Russian kept coming out even though I was hearing Uzbek and Kyrgyz all the time and trying to speak in Kyrgyz myself.

Russian is still coming out now even though I'm supposed to be speaking Spanish.  I understand quite a bit of Spanish and can read it fairly well, and I can say it in my brain, but I cannot get Spanish to come out of my mouth.  It's always Russian.  But I managed to speak Arabic, and Russian, and even some Uzbek, so I think that Spanish will make an appearance someday.

I wish there were some way to switch language modes more easily.  I suppose I just ought to learn each language better.  And I sincerely hope that the next country we live in will use something I've already learned.