Green Squeaker

I think Squeaker is a one-year old green freak – a pure product of the natural energy generation. How do I know? Because she’s working hard to build a compost pile next to our kitchen table. I was cleaning under her corner of the table yesterday with a back-hoe and realized that if I could find a way to sort and package what falls off her dinner plate, I could solve 1/3 of the world food shortage.

I think she may also have military aspirations, too, because against the backdrop of her compost hill, she’s mastered the art of camouflaging herself with the same foods.

We can usually tell when she’s finished eating, because we start hearing wails and squeals in the general direction of the compost. So we soak a rag and toss it at the pile. It stops just short of the pile in mid-air, and Squeaker commences sucking the life, water, and fibers out of the rag until all the camo is washed off. Then she tosses the dry rag to the floor and there sits our sweet Squeaker, sopping wet with a big 4-toothed grin, ready to get down.

I think come summer I’ll move the kitchen table into the backyard.

Baba’s Backseat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m no food blogger, but I enjoy cooking, and I rarely follow recipes. So when I got a sweet-tooth for chocolate chip cookies today, I decided to do a little experiment. First I Googled ideas for making your chocolate chip cookies better, and there were all kinds of things. I took notes. Then I looked at three or four different recipes to get an idea of proper quantities – then I went to work, with Lunch Bucket as co-cook. The result? Baba’s Backseat Chocolate Chip Cookies. (the backseat thing is a sort of inside joke, which I’ll have to explain some other time.)

They came out great! Anyway, here’s the recipe! Enjoy!

Baba’s Backseat Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/4 corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 TB Vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
Mint chocolate chips (or any kind of chips – white, butterscotch, peanut butter, milk chocolate, semi-sweet, whatever)

Cream corn syrup, sugars, and butter in small saucepan and simmer on lowest stove setting, stirring constantly until butter is melted and sugar dissolves (do not boil). Remove from heat, pour into cool (even cold if available) container and place in freezer.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, soda, and baking powder together.

In another separate bowl, separate the eggs and beat whites to soft peaks. Beat yolks in separate bowl (sorry, a lot of dishes, I know) and then fold into whites.
Take the first bowl out of the fridge (should be cool and syrupy) and mix the eggs into it. Mix well, but do not whip.

Mix in the powder ingredients, but don’t whip, so there’s a little bit of powder that’s not completely mixed in.
Add vanilla and lemon juice, and mix slowly but thoroughly (just enough so it’s mixed well, not whipped).

Fold in chocolate chips.

Chill in the fridge for as long as you can stand (up to a day). Preheat oven to 375. Spoon onto cookie sheet in 1 inch round balls. Cook for 8-10 minutes.

Makes about 5 dozen scrump-diddly-umptious cookies!

The Jughead American Dream Burger

I have Conquered the Jughead American Dream Burger. That’s one of my few claims to fame – eating a 1 KG (2.2 lb) hamburger with a side order of fries in 35 minutes. That weight didn’t include the weight of the bun or extra fillings of the burger, either. 2.2 lbs of pure lean beef. When they brought it out, I thought it took the term “my eyes are bigger than my stomach” to a new level. In this case, the burger itself was bigger than a good part of my abdomen, and looked like a small cake.

Pano’s Diner was a little restaurant owned by one of the local stake presidents, so we got free shakes whenever we came – which worked out nicely for washing down the Jughead American Dream Burger.

I’m almost ashamed to say I ate the thing. Two other missionaries had conquered it already, and I wanted to show them up. You might say I did, since it took only took me a half hour, while it took them 2-3 hours to finish their’s. But I’ve always recognized the fact that the faster you eat, the more you can eat. But even more than that, anyone who can finish the burger in one sitting got a free shirt, and got to sign the wall of the restaurant. Who could pass up such an opportunity?

I still have that shirt, and I wear it with pride. It’s fun to be able to explain how I got it.

What I generally fail to mention is the difficulty I had in keeping the stuff down. Numerous times I felt it almost coming up, and for many hours afterward, even most of the day, I was deathly thirsty. A couple of times I tried to drink, but even a sip nearly brought the load out. Also, it was probably the most money I spent on a meal in my whole mission.

In reflecting back on this, I thought about how much we gorge ourselves with the things of this life. We cram our stomachs with things that are not bad of themselves , but which crowd out time and energy for the essential things. We see the rewards that the world has to offer, and they look enticing to us. We work hard to obtain them, and get the reward – the chance to sign a wall and take home a free shirt that recognizes our accomplishment – or perhaps something more alluring, such as prominence, position, power, money, or popularity. While it is seldom that these rewards are inherently bad, our pursuit of them may cost us more than we are willing to admit. They may cost time, means, or energy, when those things could have been used to build the Lord’s kingdom and our families. If eating a certain thing makes it impossible to drink water, it is better not to eat it. Our families need water, our callings need water, our testimonies need water, but if our lives are too full of unnecessary secular “hamburger,” we may not have room for them.

Also, carrying that hamburger the rest of the day was difficult, which brings to mind the Savior’s promise that if we take His burden upon us, we will find it much lighter than the burden we place upon ourselves. It’s hard to keep sin down and hidden. It usually comes up, and when it does, we are humiliated and ashamed. But Christ can remove sin from our hearts. His burden costs so much less than the price we pay for our own burdens and sins. Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking the way is too hard or too straight, but if we look close, we find that it is our attempts to stay on our own paths while following Christ that makes it so difficult. Besides, we can see the immediate rewards of our hamburger paths, while the rewards of the Spirit seem very slow in coming, if we see them at all.

Yet the spiritual rewards for taking Christ’s burden on us are of far greater, even infinite value.