Friday, February 25, 2011

What am I doing wrong?

I can't cook dry beans.

I have tried using dry beans to make Chili many, many times, but the beans are always a little crunchy still by the time the chili is ready. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong but I can't figure out what it is. For all those seasoned bean cookers out there, I'll describe what I do and maybe you can tell me what my flaw is.

I've tried soaking the beans overnight. I've also soaked them starting the morning of cooking, which translates to about 6-8 hours of soaking. I've even soaked them for days at a time in the fridge. After soaking I'll dump the beans in with the rest of the chili fixings (meat, tomatoes, spices, etc.) and let simmer for an hour to 2 hours. After 2 hours I taste the crunchy beans and simmer for another hour. With beans still crunchy but stomachs growling, we give in and eat the chili.

I've tried making the Chili in a Crockpot and cooking it for 4 or 5 hours. Doesn't work.

We enjoy eating Chili and I would like to be able to use the dry beans I have, but I can't figure out how to cook them!

This may seem like an obvious step to others, but apparently not to me, so please humor me. After soaking the beans, do you have to simmer the beans on their own in water and cook them before adding them to the chili? This would make sense and would most likely fix my crunchy bean problem. But I feel like it should be easier than that. I think I should be able to add the beans right after soaking and having them cook with the chili. Otherwise, I spend all day soaking beans and hours cooking them and making chili and it seem like too much time spent for a simple bowl meal. I guess this is why people just use canned beans. They come out of the can perfectly tender already!

So help me out here! Do I need to cook the beans first? Am I not soaking the beans correctly? Tell me what I am doing wrong.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

R.I.P. Patrick

Patrick Easton, 20 years old, died at 4:30pm on January the eleventh at exit 140 on I-65 North due to acute engine failure brought on by a damaged cam shaft.

Patrick was born in 1991 and adopted by Mckay and Sheri Easton on April 12th, 2008. Together they have traveled in 8 states, visiting friends and family. He is survived by his parents and step-brother, Dallin.

Patrick has repeatedly traversed the scenic Colorado Mountains, including a Honeymoon trip in Glenwood Springs, and a return trip from camping through Aspen. He got us to Eagle Lake, California for the Crapo family 4th of July camping trip.

We hoped we could have seen him make it to 200,000 miles, but he has lived long.

Although he has had a long life, he has also experienced many injuries. On one such occasion, we were driving to St. Louis for Christmas in 2008. Sheri was 6 months pregnant and Mckay was recovering from his bike accident so we were a pretty pathetic pair. At 10pm, his alternator failed at the Kansas Turnpike tollbooth. We kept warm in an empty tollbooth while waiting to be towed to nearby Lawrence, Kansas. We had help from Dad Crapo and brother-in-law Ryan, who came from St. Louis in the middle of the night to rescue us. What a Christmas we had!

He has had to endure all types of ridicule because of his old age, but he endured it with grace.

He helped us move from Utah to Indiana during the summer of 2010. He was a small car, so he was packed to the roof with boxes and clothes and Dallin's toys. Like the little engine that could, he made it over Vail pass going 30 mph.

(Patrick at last year's Trunk or Treat)

On the journey he would never complete, Sheri was driving back from Dallin's doctor appointment in Indianapolis. He braved the elements of wind and snow, but 30 miles from home, he could not endure to go on. The tow company said it could take 40 minutes in the blizzard to reach Patrick. Together Sheri, Dallin and Patrick sat on the shoulder of the busy highway while large trucks zoomed past. A policeman came to our aid shortly thereafter. He even called the tow truck to demand that he get there as soon as possible. But it was too late; Patrick had passed away.

His body has been buried in the local junkyard, but his memory has been buried in our hearts.

Patrick, you will be missed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day of Love

For Valentines Day this year, we decided that we'd rather stay in and have a nice dinner instead of going out to eat. And you all know how excited I was to make a fancy dinner! It was also really fun for me to plan the fancy table setting. It brought me back to my days of working for Catering at BYU; tablecloths, setting the silverware and goblets, folding napkins.
Lest you think I am really cool enough to have a fancy table cloth, I just used a clean bed sheet. And the napkins: matching pillowcases. It'a nice effect though.
(Side Note: Did you know that other grocery stores outside of Utah don't have cases and cases of sparkling Apple Cider right by the checkout around Valentines Day?!?!? The store I went to had wine displays! It took we a while to even find 1 of their 5 bottles of sparkling cider, tucked away in the juice aisle. Apparently I'm still getting used to life out of Utah.)

To add to the Valentines decor, I made a Valentine line, kind of like my Christmas card line.
I hung pictures from when Mckay and I were dating, and things like movie ticket stubs, notes to each other and other dating memorabilia. It was fun to look back over our years together as we ate.
For the appetizer, we had Twice-Baked Potatoes.
And for the main course, we had Chicken Cordon Bleu with Lemon Garlic Green Beans served with a Mornay Sauce.
The chicken was easier than I thought it would be to make and it was all soooo delicious! It was much better than the Chicken Cordon Bleu from the Morris Center.

We were so stuffed from dinner that we didn't even have room for dessert: Heart Shaped Cream Puffs.
We just had to eat them the next night.
For the filling, I just did a box of french vanilla pudding, much easier than last time when I made my own pudding. I thought I'd be cute and add food coloring to make the pudding pink to go with the Valentines theme. I didn't think about how "french" vanilla pudding is more of a yellow color than regular vanilla, and how adding red coloring to yellow would make an orange-ish pudding. It still tasted great.
And the cream puffs actually came out looking heart shaped.
We had a great day of Love.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Sweetheart Baby

I didn't think it was possible, but Dallin is becoming so much funnier, sweeter and cuter by the day. He's learns a lot from watching us and I love when he copies what we do. He laughs so much more now and when he sees us laughing he has to join in, even though he usually has no idea what is so funny.
A few weeks ago in Nursery at church, the kids learned about prayer. Since then, Dallin will fold his arms with us when we pray. He does it all on his own, usually prompted by seeing us fold our arms. Sometimes he'll do it by himself suddenly while he's playing.
I love how it looks more like he's folding his "hands" because his arms are so short and fat.

We've been trying to teach Dallin some sign language so that he can communicate with us better. It's easy to see how frustrated he gets when he can't communicate his needs, so I'm hoping that he'll figure out that signing will make him happier.

He signs "milk" every time when I give him his bottle. I'm still trying to get him to sign milk before I make it, so I know when he is hungry. (Right now, he'll cry and I know he's hungry, so I'll make the bottle and then he signs milk after he sees it.) This is usually what he looks like when he signs milk (which is signed by squeezing your hand into a fist, like milking a cow):
He didn't think it was very funny that I had his bottle inches away and I stopped to take a picture of him. No bueno, mom.

He's learning the sign for "more," but it's a difficult concept for him to understand. We have an awesome pop-up book that he loves! It's called "Mommy" by Maurice Sendak.
He wants this book read to him over and over again. I taught him to sign "more" at the end of the book if he wanted me to read more. This is what it looks like when he signs "more:"
How could you not read that book over and over and over when he asks so cutely? I usually read the book to him about 8 or 9 times a day. However, I worry that he thinks it's the sign for "book" rather than "more." He'll sign it if we haven't been reading at all but he wants the book. It's a tricky concept!!
(Side note: The book is about a baby trying to find his Mommy. The book is mostly pictures; it only has 7 words. 6 of the words are "Mommy." You would think that after hearing the word "Mommy" 40 times in a row, Dallin would say it more often. Nope, his only consistent word is Dada.)

His mobility is increasing and I'm amazed at some of the things he can do. He was standing on a chair by the kitchen table and managed to climb up onto the table. While I was folding laundry the other day, he climbing into the laundry basket and began picking out all the socks so he could hug them.
You gotta love this kid!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Smart Shopping

I'm pretty happy right now because I got an amazing deal on baby wipes. has great deals on diapers and wipes, as well as other baby products. I've been buying Dallin's diapers from Amazon for a few months now and I love it. This deal on the wipes was particularly awesome.

These Pampers wipes 720 ct. (pictured above) are listed at $25.00. When I bought them, they were marked down to $19.19. (Amazon's "marked down" price changes a lot, so you have to watch and search around for the best price.) You save an additional 30% when you sign up for Amazon Mom and Subscribe and Save (15% savings for each one individually). It's free, easy to sign up, and the discount applies to most diapers and wipes. This promotion also includes free shipping. The wipes are now down to $13.43.

I discovered a code to use at checkout from The Screaming Penny that saves an additional $1.92. Enter MOMWIPES when you checkout. I don't know if this code works on all wipes or just these ones. Now my wipes, originally $25 are costing me only $11.51. The wipes only cost 1.5 cents per wipe! And they're shipped to my house for free in 2 days! That's a really great deal!

But it doesn't stop there! A few weeks ago, I got a $20 Amazon gift card for $10 through a groupon thing. Basically, $10 free dollars to use at Amazon. I used that gift card on the wipes, so I really only paid $1.51 for 720 baby wipes. And That's why I'm feeling pretty happy with myself.

I love getting a great deal on something, even if it's just wipes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow and Fudge

Lafayette was hit with a huge snow/ice storm (and most of the mid-west for that matter). Purdue classes were cancelled for two days! You know things are bad when they actually cancel university classes.
We stayed inside for 2 entire days. There was no need to go out for school and we had plenty of groceries, so we stayed warm inside watching movies while Mckay did homework, I sewed food and Dallin crawled around trying to eat things like coins, dry beans and poly-fil batting.

It's not a good idea to leave your car sitting in the parking lot for 2 days in an ice storm if you ever want to drive it again. It took 30 minutes this morning to dig the car out from underneath all the ice and snow. The ice scraper took quite a beating. After that, we had to get the car over the mound of ice and snow behind it to get out of our parking spot. With the tires slipping on the ice beneath them, it took the help of two kind neighbors pushing the car to get it out.

After dropping Mckay off for school, I came home and got stuck in the snow again trying to park in a parking spot. A nice lady saw me trying to dig the car out of its predicament, and she helped me push the car far enough into the spot so that the back end wasn't blocking up the road. (Don't we have such nice neighbors?)

It looks like I'm not leaving this apartment until the sun melts the car out or Mckay comes home to push me out. There's only one things to do in a situation like this: stay inside and make fudge.

Just mix and little of this and that...
...and you get fudge!
I used this fudge recipe. It's very easy and quick.
Even Dallin had a little lick.
And then he just kind of held it...