Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attempting Lasagna...

My domesticated life, without a job, has been spent at home testing out several different recipes. Ever since I made a visit to Europe, tasted fresh-made lasagna, I have been on the hunt for a recipe to duplicate that taste. The other day, I was bold enough to attempt fresh pasta and was quite pleased with the results.

Pasta recipes are all the same. There are variations but stick to a recipe that calls for flour and eggs. Of course I used organic, unbleached flour and free-range chicken eggs. I also added some salt and a splash of olive oil. I will experiment with different types of flour in the future after I've mastered the basics. The dough took a little while to come together since I kneaded it by hand (I don't have a mixer). What took most of my time though was rolling out the dough. I suggest getting a pasta machine to roll out the dough or you'll be slaving over it for a few hours. After an hour of rolling, I gave up and went with the thick noodles. It worked out fine.

Before I rolled out the dough, I set it to rest and put together the meat sauce. On special occasions I make "real" sauce, from scratch but this was not that special of an occasion so I went with Paul Newman's brand of marinara and coupled that with Italian turkey sausage. After the meat sauce, I whipped together a bechamel. Bechamel is a white sauce made of butter, flour, and milk or cream. The variation on this bechamel is that I added nutmeg. I have never heard of using a bechamel in lasagna but it proved to be the trick that put me one step closer to the lasagna I tasted in Europe.

So when layering your lasagna, go with meat sauce on the bottom. Lasagna then bechamel and meat sauce, and repeat. I did not use ANY shredded cheese with this. I think the shredded cheese is only used in America. There were medallions of either goat or feta cheese in Europe. Either way, I left out the shredded cheese and it came out wonderful! The taste was fantastic!

Ok, so google away for the pasta recipe and the bechamel. Yum, yum, and more yum!

We've Decided

Husband and I have been married for six years now and it's high time we had children. My body hasn't been able to conceive and I've made peace with that. So, we have been considering adoption. I'm actually quite excited about adoption. As a fellow blogger put it, "It is so beautiful and so Polynesian!". I totally agree.

I think of my Samoan grandmother (my mother's mother) who gave up four of her seventeen children to different families because she knew they would be able to give the best life to her children. That kind of love, the kind that my grandmother had that allowed her to give up her children for their sakes, is selfless. After the murder of my grandfather, my grandmother had few choices on being able to support her family and giving up her children was one of them. Here we are, nearly 50 years later. My mother and her siblings are all in touch and have been for several decades.

Adoption story #2: My parents were foster parents before. January 1994, a three-month old baby boy entered our lives as a foster child in our home. Several years later, the State of Hawaii granted my parents the ability to adopt him. My eyes tear up when I think him, my little brother. He's 16 now and I adore him now more than ever. He's such a handsome kid. A few years later, another boy entered our family as a foster child and was eventually adopted also. He's 12 now. Time flies so quickly!

Adoption IS a natural choice for my husband and I. I don't feel like I have to physically bare a child even though I welcome the opportunity. So, I'm looking forward to this process. My mother tells me that as soon as I adopt, I'd probably get pregnant in no time. That's funny how that works. (A dear friend of mine was down in Mexico earlier this month and bought me some Clomid. She is so funny!)

My husband has been ready to adopt for quite some time. I haven't felt pressure from him to bare children and I have overcome the feeling of inadequacy. My husband has two children from previous relationships so his DNA has already made it to the earth. No pressure there. I guess, the person holding back this process has been me. So the title of this post should be "I'VE DECIDED" instead of We've Decided.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Sermon: The Family, A Proclamation to the World

I missed church this morning (because I slept in). As a result, I find myself spiritually hungry. So often, I find myself longing to follow the path that leads to ultimate enlightenment. That path is probably different for everyone yet we all seek for the same God even if we give him different names and seek HIM in different ways. My absence from church led me to the internet where I found solace in reading The Family, A Proclamation to the World. A YouTube VIDEO with the words of the proclamation coupled with soft music had me in tears.

We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

New eyes reading this may find the vernacular, strange. The implications of its words, strange. Yet new eyes must admit the beauty of families being united eternally unless, of course, your family life is not worth preserving in this life (much less eternity). The proclamation was given by then President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Gordon B. Hinckley, at a General Relief Society (LDS Womens Organization) meeting in October 1995. In March of 1995, The Council of Families in America sponsored by the Institute for American Values released MARRIAGE IN AMERICA, A Report to the Nation. The executive summary briefly outlined some of the disadvantages of divorce and unwed parenthood. "It has created terrible hardships for children, incurred unsupportable social costs... We must reclaim the ideal of marital permanence and recognize that out-of-wedlock childbearing does harm."

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives — mothers and fathers — will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

My life and who I am is a direct result of my parents gentle (well, sometimes not so gentle) rearing of my siblings and I. My father was raised by a young widow. She was not single by choice and would have loved it if my grandfather was right next to her through the difficulty of raising seven children. My mother was the oldest girl of 16 siblings, who helped her mother (a young widow also) in rearing her brothers and sisters. I know that my mothers-mother would not have chosen to be a single parent either. In this day, I find that so many young women choose to raise children on their own. What are the benefits of doing so? What has been the result?

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

Even though we live in a world that may scoff at the idea of set roles for men and women, I wholly believe that the roles are necessary. Men and women are different, anatomically, emotionally, spiritually, we are different! Yet these roles help to build a strong family unit. Strong, moral families build strong, moral neighborhoods, thus building strong, moral communities, in effect strong, moral nations and a moral world. What I love about this portion of the Proclamation is that it clearly states, "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.

Does the preservation of marriage automatically mean that children will do better? Absolutely not! Abusive marriages are just as detrimental to the well-being of children as single-parent homes are.

What is essential to a productive, loving marriage is that both husband and wife believe in the moral obligation that the marriage contract implies and the roles that are associated with the title. Though past civilizations used marriage as a political and/ or economic alliance, we don't necessarily need to practice that today. If at the foundation of your personal belief system is the concept of eternal marriage, how willing are you to fully participate in maintaining a peaceful home?

I am humbled that I have been blessed with parents and siblings that have preserved the family unit, our family unit, even through these difficult times where the marriage bond is under attack. I really did have a wonderful childhood and I am grateful that my parents put in the hardwork to remain together through all these years. I cannot imagine NOT having had my father as an active participant in my childhood and my daily life. I see children in these parts of the United States who don't know their father's, never see their father's, and have no clear definition of the role of a father.... and the cycle continues.

I grew up with this stuff but for "new eyes" and people who didn't grow up with strong family values, this would seem foreign. What I say to you is to experiment upon the word. You've tried your way. Has it brought happiness or sorrow? Try something different and base your judgements on the results thereof.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Spanakopita Result

I mentioned last night that I would be making Spanakopita today and I did just that. I got the recipe off the Food Network website.

* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 2 pounds spinach, washed and drained
* 1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, chopped
* 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
* 1 to 2 eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
* 1 pound filo pastry sheets

Directions (my condensed version)
- Saute spinach. Drain.
- Saute scallions then add spinach and parsley
- Add salt and pepper
- Let the mixture cool
- When the spinach filling is cool, add feta and eggs and mix evenly.
- Brush the pan you will be using for the spanakopita then lay out the first layer of the pastry sheet
- Butter the layer then add more sheets. Continue this process a couple more times.
- Spread out the filling onto the pastry sheet
- Finish off the top with the rest of the pastry sheets
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown

This was the result of my endeavor. It smelt so good while it was baking. The next time I make this, I will do a few things differently. My spinach mixture (the filling) would be much thicker than what I had prepared. I wouldn't have baked it as long as I did. I wouldn't have used a smaller pan, maybe a 9x13 instead of the half-sheet pan that I used.

So have at it people. Making this dish is really simple especially if you make the filling ahead of time. I think this dish is an appetizer. I'm not sure. It was delicious though. I paired it with chicken meatballs in a tomato and zucchini ragout. Bon Appetit!

Food Ramblings

I "redboxed" the video, Julie & Julia yesterday and have suddenly become more adventurous in my cooking. The movie is based on a book about a woman who takes a year to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook on French cuisine. I enjoyed the movie. It was very refreshing!

I have never thought of cooking as being something to enjoy. When I was younger it was just one of my chores. As I age, I find that I am more interested in cooking as a stress reliever and as a way to guarantee the freshness of the food I put into my belly. Where I once feigned at the thought of using extra virgin olive oil, I now relish the goodness! I will also add coconut oil to my pantry as it is probably more nutritious than EVOO.

My step away from the typical Polynesian diet probably began when I was 19. I was out on a date and he took me to a house in the middle of a neighborhood (similar to Hukilau Cafe in La'ie, Hawai'i but much further off the beaten path) in Portales, New Mexico. The food was AMAZING! It was spicy, full of beans and rice and homemade tortillas. It was absolutely delicious. I can still remember the taste of the sopapilla and how soothing it was after ingesting the hot spicyness of the meal. Ever since then, I have been infatuated with foods from all parts of the world.

Remember the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding? When it came out, I tried a couple dishes from that movie. Moussaka was the result. It's a dish that is layered with eggplant, meat sauce, cheese, and topped off with a wonderful bechemel. Google all of that stuff if you're interested. It is just absolutely delicious. That very Greek dish is a regular on my dinner menu's. Tomorrow I will be attempting spanakopita. I saw it on a FoodNetwork show. It looked absolutely delicious. I will definitely take some pictures of the process and the result to share with you.

Am I getting domesticated? I haven't worked in months and I'm totally enjoying it! I'm pretty sure my husband is enjoying all the cooking also. He gets three square meals from me now instead of just dinner. Who would have thought it was in me? Well, good luck to me on my spanakopita!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

House, Sweet House

Well, husband and I have moved into our apartment. This apartment is extremely large. It is a two bedroom-two bath and it could quite possibly be as large, if not larger, than my childhood home. I am loving that I'm in my own space again. $581 is the rent. Can't beat that! Seriously!

What I KNOW for sure is that the Creator/ the Universe gives me everything and more. Just think, I came to Alabama with one suitcase, one carry-on, and 15 boxes to my name. Husband and I sold or gave away EVERYTHING back in August. Furniture, TV's, Tempurpedic Bed, Appliances. We got rid of it all and came with nothing but our favorite books and all my personal diaries and half of our clothing. Now, I'm in my own space again having replaced everything that I left and sold four months ago.

This is the Creator that I know; one that gives without judging or qualifying me. Though I fought tooth and nail to remain in the islands, I know that I'm supposed to be here in Alabama at this time. Once I let go and let God, HE will provide the rest and HE has! I'm not materialistic at all but acquiring this STUFF is one of the manifestations that the "world" measures.

I don't even have a job yet and I have been nearly restored to my original standing. Amazing! Though it is nowhere near the islands of my birth (it's not home), it will do for now. I will FOREVER long for the islands no matter where I am in the world. Thank You God for the beauty of my life.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Movie Review Epiphany

I recently watched the movie, Children of Men. The movie details a world where humans are no longer able to procreate. It sounds so morbid. What is also evident in the movie is a world that pits the common citizen against the government. If you are not WITH the government then you are labeled a terrorist.

I happen to think we are moving toward that kind of world. A world where infertility becomes the norm. With vaccinations being pushed on us at every turn and our total inability to verify what's in the vaccinations, infertility could very well be the result along with every other disease that is spreading like wildfire. I also believe that many diseases are engineered in a laboratory then tested on humans without consent. Think of the HIV/ AIDS epidemic that proliferated in the late 70's. Odd that it only affected a portion of the world that included the poor minority (third world), the homosexual, and the drug addict. This then turned into a moral judgment, by a good portion of the general population, on those that had become infected. Where did the virus originate and could it have really been isolated within the poor, gay, drug addicted community? The topic is something I think about in the face of my own inability to conceive.

The main characters of the movie stand in opposition of the government. They are labeled "terrorist" and are all in a concerted effort to get a pregnant woman to a safe haven. In the safe haven, scientists are attempting to figure out why, for 18 years, all pregnancies resulted in miscarriages and then eventually no pregnancies, then... no children.

I find the terrorist label to be something that already exists in this era, as it appeared in previous periods of history. Just after World War II Americans were afraid of "communists" and now it's the "terrorists". I think it's safe to say that ANYONE that doesn't support the government has the possibility of ending up on the governments naughty list. If you sit back and think of some of the most admirable characters in history, you'd find that most of them have been imprisoned at some point in their life.

There are two conclusions that I draw from this. The first is that man's law (the government) is faulty. If they imprisoned good men/ women that promoted higher ideals and higher moral codes of conduct, what does that say of the institution that locked them up? A few names that come to mind:

  • Jesus... and his disciples.

  • Nelson Mandela.

  • Gandhi.

  • Assata Shakur.

  • Biblical -- Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego (my favorite bible story).

  • The last ruling monarch of the Kingdom of Hawai'i, Queen Lili'uokalani.

  • The second conclusion I make is that I refuse to be on the "wrong" side just because it's easier. The easier path, for most people, is to comply with the powers that be. I imagine that it probably would have been easier for Jesus to succumb to the will of the Jewish majority and the Roman government. His disciples, as revealed by stories in the New Testament, had a tough time in affirming their connection to Jesus. And yet, Jesus persevered and did what he came to the earth to do.

    You can select any name from my list and attempt to prove me wrong. (You probably have more that you could add to this list.) They were revolutionaries and I admire them for their courage and I desire to align myself with them.

    The entire premise of this post was two-fold. First, to express my vaccination woes. Second, to point out the obvious relation between revolutionary leaders being pitted against the government. Please, never be on the wrong side.

    I don't think that I am more apt to believe all the bad things in the world. I wholly believe in the good in the universe and that we, human beings, have the capacity to rise above the lust for power and greed. We have the power to use our minds, our souls, and our hearts to make correct decisions that will direct the course of our eternal lives. It is our duty to steer others from a life that is void of free will. May your path always seek to preserve free agency for all!

    Monday, January 04, 2010

    Out With the Junk... LITERALLY!

    I'm tired of reading everyone else's epiphanies about 2009 and goals for 2010 so I will forego all of that. I was getting pretty tired of reading all the Happy New Year status updates on FaceBook and am quite happy that 2010 is finally here.

    Husband and I are getting ready to move into our apartment. We've been hangin' with husbands family for the past three months and "temperatures are rising", even in the midst of winter. Our super-healthy-eating got pushed to the back burner and I am so longing to be in my own kitchen again. I need to control what is stocked in our pantry, thus making it easier to control what goes in my belly. Seriously! I'm anxious and excited to have healthy fare again. My body can feel the difference.

    First on my agenda, after we move in, is to do a cleanse. There are several ways to achieve a cleanse. The most effective one for me has been Dr. Natura.

    Dr. Natura - This cleanse is assisted by psyllium husk drinks. It's like Metamucil on steroids. I have tried other brands of psyllium husk but it doesn't quite compare to Dr. Natura's concoction. Before you click on the link, I must warn you that it is VERY graphic. I purchased this product for the first time in November 2008. I was totally disbelieving the pictures on the website. Can I tell you that those pictures are absolutely REAL?! I experienced the SAME results! I even took pictures of it as proof but quickly deleted them because who cares about how excited I am about my own poo?

    Everything that is claimed on the website is FACT. At least, for me it is. I lost an easy ten pounds within the first couple of weeks. I had more energy. My skin got really clear. I lost all food cravings. I felt amazing! FYI: This is my independent opinion! They're not paying me for this. (I wish they were.)

    This is not a total detoxification program. The basic program I got was a colon cleanse. Dr. Natura does offer detox products as well. I will be purchasing them this time around. This past August, I removed all the amalgamams from my mouth. These are the standard, silver fillings. These are filled with mercury and that is VERRRRRY bad for your health. They never tell you that when they're putting them in and more than likely parents have no idea how bad it is to the body. Anybody that took basic biology in high school can understand the osmosis process and how mercury can enter your blood stream. Totally different subject but definitely one of the reasons why I'll be doing a cleanse and a detox from Dr. Natura.

    Another bad thing about the dentist, I just have to get this in here, is their promotion of FLUORIDE. This DRUG FACT you see pictured here are required by the FDA. This means that there is something in the item that is harmful to the human body. You can find these warnings on many common, household items like peroxide, Nyquil, even anti-perspirant deodorant.
    Aluminum is added to an anti-perspirant to stop a natural process, perspiration. This process is essential to the body. Perspiration helps get rid of toxins and helps keep the body cool. Why would anyone, in their right mind, want to stop a function that God made? Also, aluminum enters your body by osmosis when you use anti-perspirants. We live in such a twisted world! (I soooo digressed) I want you to pay close attention to these labels. In fact, go check your toothpaste label right now and contact the Poison Control Center if you've ingested any of it. FLUORIDE IS BAD, BAD, BAD! I switched to an herbal toothpaste back in 2003 and have not had a cavity even though I tossed the fluoridated toothpaste out with the garbage.

    Anyway, this post is about the colon cleanse. Dr. Natura is my favorite. I highly suggest it if you're interested in cleaning out your colon. Good stuff.