Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sourdough starter and pancakes


As we progress through this cooking odyssey together, one thing you will need is a sourdough starter.  Making a good sourdough starter is actually pretty easy.  I use sourdough for breads, doughnuts and pancakes all the time so this is an important step. 


First, get yourself something to store it in.  I like a sealable crock.  One of those with the wire clamp to hold the lid on.  Here's the thing, though.  I remove the rubber seal!  So, there is some air circulation but it's still well covered.  Just a canning jar will do, but it would have to be a pretty big one...quart sized or more.  I like the crock because I got one big enough to hold five or six cups of starter, it stays closed without strangling my starter and the mouth is big enough to get a measuring cup in to scoop out what I need. 

Now, put in 2 cups of all purpose flour and two cups of "no sugar added" fruit juice.  I make my own apple juice and always have some of that on hand so that's what I used the last time I had to make starter; about a year ago. 

Another way is to boil some peeled potatoes; maybe making mashed or something, and use the left over water instead of juice.  I’ve done both.  When your starter is a few years old you won’t be able to tell which liquid you used.  

Mix the flour and the juice well and leave it lightly covered for two or three days, stirring once in a while each day.  Once you have a good bubbling action going on...called a "sponge", and you can smell that sour, yeasty smell, then you have starter.  

Over time, the stored starter will develop a brownish colored liquid on top.  This is called “hootch” and is just part of the sourdough.  I mix it back into the starter once in a while.  Some people pour it off.  Whatever “floats yer stick” here. 

http://breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management/ is a great page about maintaining sourdough starters.  I keep mine in the crock in the refrigerator.  I try to remember to "feed" it once in a while but usually it is replenished, or "fed", often enough because I am using it. 

 Starter can last for a long time…years even…if you store it correctly, use it once in a while and, even if not using it, feed it occasionally.   The old chuckwagon cooks kept their starter for years, sometimes sleeping with it in their bedroll so it wouldn’t freeze. 

Now that you have your starter working; it’s bubbling a little and smells “yeasty” , it’s time to put it to use.


Sourdough Pancakes

The night before, mix well (to incorporate some air) 1 cup of your starter with 1 ½  cups of all purpose flour and ¾  cup of warm water.  Cover and leave at warm room temperature: 70-85 degrees, overnight.  

The next morning, return one cup of the starter mixture to your crock.

Then, mix the remaining 1 ½ cups of starter with:
 

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tablespoon of sugar…more if you want.  I like a little more.
¾ tablespoon of salt
½ teaspoon (generous) of baking soda
2 tablespoons of milk

Try to have your ingredients at room temperature.  This will help to make more tender pancakes.

Your pancakes will be a little heavier and not as fluffy as you are used to.  In my opinion, the sourdough flavor blends with a fruity syrup better than regular maple syrup.  I also like these with butter and my home made raspberry jam. 

Now that you have made sourdough pancakes from scratch, here’s a cheat.

Depending on how many you are making, put ½ to 1 cup of starter in your mixing bowl and then add your favorite boxed pancake mix and just make your regular mix, using your sourdough starter as part of the liquid.  This gives you the sourdough flavor, they’ll be a little fluffier  than scratch and it’s a little easier because you can do this spontaneously without having to plan from the night before.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Let's try some Cookies!


Before we start with cooking anything, I need to emphasize the key to this whole enterprise and that is…preparation.  If you are planning southwestern style diced potatoes for breakfast, dice the potatoes and ingredients and then mix it all together the night before.  Put your meat out to thaw, get your sourdough starter warmed up, make your salad.  Anything that can be prepared to a point and then finished later should be.  

When I was a kid, we didn’t live next door to a grocery store so if there were things we had to buy; we did so in bulk, often once a month (or even longer).  Neither my Grandmother nor my mother went to the store for meals every day as I see people do today.  They had pantries where weeks or months of supplies were stored.  Grandmother had a “root cellar” where many things were kept.  I remember being sent to the root cellar to get canned (canned at home, of course) goods, potatoes, onions or garlic.  By the time of my memories we had a refrigerator so I don’t have any firsthand experience of how she kept things before that. 

If you plan to bake things for yourself, then plan certain days when that will be done.  My Grandmother had to provide lunches for my Grandfather and a couple of my uncles back in the logging days so she had to have food ready.  She baked bread on Wednesday.  She made enough loaves to go through the week.  Cookies were on Thursday.  Pies and cakes were made the day she planned to serve them.  She had her menu for the week planned out in advance and had all the ingredients for those meals prepared sometimes a couple of days before the meal was cooked.  

I remember that she would boil a pot of potatoes and store them in the refrigerator for later use.  Sometimes they were diced for frying, sometimes made into mashed or potato pancakes or whatever.  The point being, she was prepared in advance.

Ok, now that we’ve got our tools and we’re prepared to productively use part of our day, it’s time to cook something. Let’s start with something easy.  How about Chocolate chip cookies? 

My Great-grandmother’s house always smelled of cookies.  She always had chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies in a cookie jar in the kitchen so when any of us kids would take the time to visit her, it was a rewarding experience.  Maybe she did that just so we would visit more often?  

I remember small grocery stores in our area that had their own bakery and the whole store smelled so great because of it.  That bakery smell would hit me as I walked in the door and those freshly baked cookies were fabulous.  It doesn’t seem as if I find those kinds of places any more.  If you want cookies in the store you buy the prepackaged ones. 

When you walk down the cookie aisle, you’ll see many different brands of chocolate chip cookies; crisp, soft, big, little, bags of miniatures, packages of two together…on and on.  Most of these I like ok.  I mean, is there such a thing as a “bad” chocolate chip cookie? 

But the ones my Mom made were always the best.  I like them about 2” in diameter and fairly crispy but not crunchy.  I don’t want to have to dunk a cookie in coffee to be able to chew it. 

The recipe I normally use is the one on the back of the Nestle’s chocolate chip bag.

 

Ingredients:

·                                 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

·                                 1 teaspoon baking soda

·                                 1 teaspoon salt

·                                 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

·                                 3/4 cup granulated sugar

·                                 3/4 cup packed brown sugar

·                                 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

·                                 2 large eggs

·                                 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pan Cookie Variation Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

For High Altitude (over 5200ft) Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 2 teaspoons water with flour and reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookie for 17 to 19 minutes.

Here’s where you can start making this your own.  Semi-sweet, milk chocolate, butterscotch, cinnamon or whatever chips. M&Ms maybe?  Reeses pieces?  Add chopped walnuts if you want.  How about adding some toffee chips?  How about all of the above?  Remember, though, if you are putting in a couple of different kinds of chips, split it up so you put in about 2 cups of chips total.  To that you can still add a cup of walnuts and not dry out your dough. 

Be aware of what they look like when they are done the way you want them so you can make them the same way next time.  I like mine a little golden brown and crispy.  Light tan is a little softer and more chewy.  You can deliberately make them a little thinner and more crispy by adding a half stick more butter to the recipe. For light and cakey cookies use 1 ¾ sticks of butter.  That’s another positive about doing this yourself.  It’s ok to experiment!   

If you are making cookies for a varied group, you might want to either skip putting in nuts or at least ask the group if anyone has nut allergies. 

At a Roundup camp in Nevada one time, the dough in my first batch of cookies turned out really thin.  Just a film of cookie with lumps of chocolate chips in it.  I called it cookie leather.  It still tasted good but the cookies were super thin and crunchy.  As I was watching the first batch in the oven and seeing this happening, I realized my problem and fixed the rest of the dough.   

The cookhouse was at a higher elevation than even my home in Montana so my 4000ft elevation recipe didn’t have enough flour in it for my almost 6000ft location.  I added a half cup of flour and some water so the rest of the cookies came out the way I wanted.  We ate all of them anyway!

This is where a thin metal spatula is nice as it will easily slide under the hot cookies so you can take them off the pan.  If you’re kind of folding the cookies up because the spatula is sticking, just spray the spatula with a little pan oil each time.   

I like to lay the cookies out on waxed paper or even a clean counter until they cool and get a little more solid, then I can stack them on a plate or in a container and they keep their shape. 

Try it.  Make your own cookies.  It’s really easy, takes very little time out of your day and you not only have better cookies, the way you and your family like them, but the people you are cooking for think you’re a hero.   

Maybe the grandkids will visit more often, too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"Make It Yourself" tools


First, let's look at some of the things you need.  Most of these things can be found in second hand stores if you look for them.  Always be alert for cooking utensils when you are browsing the second hand stores.  

Get a pastry cutter.  I don't like the ones with heavy wire, much like a wire whisk.  I want the pastry cutter with rigid metal blades.

Wire whisk.  Several of these of different sizes.  I don't like the flat ones or the spiral ones.  Just plain wire whisks will do the best job.

Wooden spoons. At least one long handled one you can use for continuous stirring over a hot pot. By this I mean, have a couple of 10” wooden spoons for normal mixing but find one with a longer handle for the times you are standing over the pot, stirring continuously while the steam billows up and cooks YOU. A long handled spoon is really nice at this point in your life.
 
Spatulas:  I, first, want a thin metal one that will easily slide under my eggs or pancakes.  But, I also want a rigid plastic one that I will be using for things like browning meats or scrambling eggs.

Scrapers: be picky.  Get scrapers with flexible soft rubber blades and blades that are well secured to the handle.  It's a pain when the head comes off of one of these things while you are scraping batter out of a bowl.
 

Mixing bowls: Several different sizes. Glass, plastic or stainless steel; whatever you like best. I kind of like glass or plastic as they can also be used in a microwave and I want a more curved bowl with as little flat bottom inside as I can get. One with a flat platform outside but completely rounded inside is great.   

Rolling pin:  I'm traditional here. Wood.  Use what you like but I can tell you, you'll be much happier with an actual rolling pin than trying to make pie crusts by rolling it out with a big bottle and a wooden rolling pin just seems to work better for me than plastic, porcelain or stone! 

Flour sifter.  I like the kind with the squeeze handle, not the hand crank. 

Knife:  Once again, a very personal choice.  I have a Dexter sandwich knife that is almost always in my hand.  The shape is just what I want, the blade stays sharp and I use it for almost anything a knife can be used for.  A really good chef with whom I worked had a set of knives that he kept incredibly sharp.  I've seen him use his big knife to slice through a piece of typing paper that was just hanging from the ticket rack...slicing UP through the paper!  Try it.  Also, a bread slicer so you can more easily make uniform slices of the fresh bread you just baked.  I use what they call a “fiddle bow” bread slicer which has a serrated blade, some space and a wooden back so if you cut with the blade into the bread and the wooden back holding the slice in place, each slice is about the same thickness.

 Mixers, electric, hand and stand up.  Kitchenaide standing mixers are the gold standard but I also like my Sunbeam.  Electric hand mixers seem more useful to me for smaller dishes or making stuff for one or two people.  An old fashioned hand cranking mixer is nice to have.  If the power goes out or some other problem exists, being able to crank on your hand mixer and make your whipped cream or cake mix with that can make you the hero! 

Baking pans: 9x13 and 9x9 cake pans .  I like glass the best but regular non-stick or metal cake pans are good. What they call "jelly roll pans" which are basically sheets with a small edge around them.  Multiple sizes.  I also use small pizza pans as cookie sheets or to catch boil-overs in the oven.  If you will be cooking for larger groups then getting larger sizes of these is important. 

Casserole dishes of various sizes are good to have.  Once again, think about how big your groups might be.  You might want pretty good sized dishes. 

Covered roasting pan, preferably with an internal rack.

Sauce pans of various sizes.  You'll be using these for gravies, breakfast cereals and so on. 

Stock pots in various sizes, I have one, two and three gallon ones.

Cooling racks; square, rectangular and round.

If you’ve got all this stuff in your kitchen, you can do almost anything, from baking your own bread to putting together your traditional turkey dinner. 

Like I’ve said, stocking your kitchen with a trip to the second hand store can save a bunch of money and often get you some really nice stuff.  A lot of what I use would be considered antiques but I often find the older stuff is the best.
 
Now we come to one of my real passions in the cooking world...Cast Iron.  I have skillets, pots, dutch ovens, fryers, griddles...I love 'em.  I have a skillet that is only about 4" in diameter that is just the right size for frying one or two eggs.  I have another skillet that is 15" in diameter that I use for groups.  I can scramble more than a dozen eggs and cook them all at once in this skillet.  I can brown 5lbs of hamburger in it.  Make several small pancakes all at once.  It's great but I pretty much just store it unless I'm doing something like a hunting camp or roundup crew where I'll need to cook large amounts all at once.
And, yes, those of us who are seriously into cast iron cooking are fanatic about caring for it.  NO SOAP!  If I have to scrub it, I put salt in it and use the salt as an abrasive.  Actually, this article at http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/the-truth-about-cast-iron.html argues with me a little about the soap issue but it's a really good article and explains a lot about why and how to use cast iron.
 
This article also touches on the fact that older cast iron looks a little different than newer.  Either is good but I am always alert at second hand stores, yard sales and antique stores for older cast iron pans and I've taken some time to research them a little so I have an idea of the value of a pan when I find one.
 
Here's a picture of the difference between pre-1950 and more recently made cast iron.  The pan on the right is older and was made back when they still polished them as part of the manufacture process.  If you find one with this satiny sheen, it's worth grabbing!
 
Ok.  If you have the tools I've talked about here you have the makings of a pretty efficient kitchen.  Are there other things?  Of course.  Meat thermometers and candy thermometers.  I once had a thermometer that would show me the surface temp of my pans.  Another cook where I was working broke it.  That's what I get for not taking it home each night.
 
Anyway, this stuff is a good start.  As we move along here, I'll likely think of other things you should have but, for now, get out to the second hand stores, antique shops and yard sales and get equipped!
 



Sunday, January 08, 2017

"Make It Yourself" Cooking Background.

This story really does have a point, if you bear with me.  I'm laying the groundwork for some articles on how to cook things for yourself.  I walk through the bakery aisles in grocery stores and see pies, cakes, doughnuts and cookies.  They all look good but I'm really not tempted to buy them.  Mass-produced pastries just aren't as good as the ones I make myself!  The same with dinner.  Why would I buy a pre-cooked and frozen lasagna when I can make one myself, at home, that will be better, in all ways, than the one from the store?  And, I don't even want to get into frozen waffles, pancakes and "breakfast sandwiches".  Yuck!

I started working in cafes, in West Yellowstone, when I was 10 years old.  I was hired as a dishwasher at the Silver Horseshoe Café.  I'd never done anything but deliver papers before that and had never washed dishes in a restaurant before and restaurants in West Yellowstone are incredibly busy in the summer time.  It's "slam! bang!" busy from the time the doors open until the place closes and there's no time for screwing around.

The cook tried to get me to understand how to get dishes done very quickly and I kind of caught on but...not.  I remember him bringing the stove top grates to me and telling me to get them "clean and shiny like new".  Well, they were iron grates with years of crust on them and I spent a huge amount of time trying to actually get all that off.  He came over and saw me still scrubbing the, at this point already clean, grates and took them back and put them back on the stove.

I didn't really learn the whole dishwasher job very well there as I didn't last long.  I mean, come on!  It was summer in West Yellowstone and I was ten years old!  There were fish to catch and camping and swimming to do so I kind of called in sick a lot.  In todays world, I don't think we can even hire kids that young.

As I got older, I learned to do not only the dishwasher job but everything there is to do in a restaurant, including waiting tables, cooking, being "host", bussing tables and washing dishes.  In most of the places I worked back then, the dishwasher was kind of the Prep Cook's assistant so I boiled, peeled, hashed, cut and mashed potatoes, made soups and chili, baked rolls and other things like that.  Dishwashers also were the cleaners of everything, bathrooms, floors, freezers and refrigerators...pretty much any greasy, dirty cleanup that needed done, the dishwasher was the go-to guy.

My Mom was one of the most sought after restaurant cooks in West Yellowstone back then and we wound up working places and shifts together so I learned how to work the grill from her as well as from other accomplished café cooks.  By the time I was 16 I was able to handle any job in the place and often did.  If someone didn't show up, I was the first one they'd call to fill in so I might be dishwasher one day, cook the next and waiting tables another time.

When I enlisted in the Air Force, as a policeman, I told myself I would NEVER work in a café again!  Never say never, folks.  It's too big a word.  I'm right back to being the "floater" again.  Now, I'm not doing it full time but it's not uncommon for my phone to ring and a waitress hollers "Help!" so I wander over to the Mint and fill in wherever they need me.  I've helped out at Parade Rest Ranch in West Yellowstone a few times over the years too.

My point here (Yes, I'm finally getting to it) is that I have a pretty extensive background in the restaurant business and in cooking.  So, a few years ago, I heard that one of our local outfitters needed a cook for his hunting camp.  I'd never done that kind of thing before but figured I could learn by doing.

I quickly learned that the style of cooking at a place like that is very different from cooking "on the line" in a café.  In a café, you are basically heating up and assembling meal components as quickly as possible.  Everything has been portioned out and you just cook it up and throw it together.  At hunting camp, I was making "family style" meals; one big meal for everybody.  How much do you make and how do you make that much all at once?  More like the Prep Cook in a restaurant than the grill cook.

I did figure it out, though, and found that it was a very rewarding and enjoyable style of cooking.  I got a lot more personal satisfaction out of making good, presentable and enjoyable meals for a group as opposed to a lot of meals, fast.  At hunting camp I made my own bread and rolls and provided breakfast, lunch and dinner with a variety of entrees, sides and deserts for as few as 3 people and as many as 14. Rifle season in Montana lasts until Thanksgiving so I actually prepared and served a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner, with all the fixins, for the first time in my life.  I kind of pretended I was an old-time chuckwagon cook and treated the job in that way.  It worked.

A year or so later, Parade Rest needed a dinner cook for the last month of the season and I filled in there; once again cooking family style, this time for as many as 60 people a couple of times (with lots of help).  I really enjoyed it and decided this was something I could do well and still have fun.

Last fall, I cooked for a roundup crew in Nevada for a month.  As few as three and as many as eight people for whom I provided breakfast and dinner every day for almost a month.  Once again, I made almost everything from scratch, including bread, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, cookies and pies as well as breakfast and dinner entree's and sides.  It was enjoyable and satisfying and I feel like I might have finally found my nitch, after only over 50 years!

So, my plan here is to provide a few insights I've gained in 40+ years of food service, with an emphasis on doing for yourself what the grocery stores are trying to do for you.  Make your own doughnuts, cookies and pies.  Cinnamon rolls seemed really hard to me the first time I made some.  Pie crusts can be frustrating but you can make your own that will be as good or even better than one from the store and you have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Remember, I cooked my first traditional Thanksgiving dinner in a tent in the mountains of Montana.  You can certainly manage to make dinner in your kitchen at home!

Check back here once in a while for a continuation of this theme.  I'll give you an idea of the tools I like and the work-arounds and shortcuts I've learned over the years.  Maybe we can have some fun here together.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Winter musings

Interesting winter this year. 

First, those who don't live here in the Great White North may not be aware that we consider winter as being from November to at least March.  Autumn is usually long gone by a snowy and cold Thanksgiving and spring is just a dream until mid-march; sometimes later. 

This also depends on where you live in Montana.  If you are in West Yellowstone or Wisdom you can pretty much add a month on each end.

Anyway, our winter started out kind of warm.  I was only lighting a fire in the evenings all through November as it was too warm during the day to bother.  Once December got here, though, the Gods looked around and said: Oh!  Winter!  Sorry, we forgot." and took away all the heat from the sun.  Here in Townsend on December 17 we were at 26 below zero.  That's not wind chill, folks. That's the temp before wind chill.  West Yellowstone was the official cold spot in the nation, a distinction they "win" many times each winter, at minus 43.  The unofficial (I don't know who the officials are) cold spot was near Butte, MT at a place called Elk Park...48 below...

Then, we got some decent temps with a little more snow and it was starting to look as if things were going to be ok for a while.  Sorry.  The Gods were watching again.  Single digit and sub-zero temps for almost a week.  The worst I saw here was -16 but, again, West Yellowstone got into the -30s and won at least one more cold spot designation.

This wouldn't be so bad but I live in a rusty old trailer house and my water lines run inside the furnace ducting so when it gets really cold I let the wood stove go out and allow my furnace to run.  So, I lie in bed listening to the nickels blowing around in my house!  The happiest people in Montana this time of year are those at Northwestern Energy!

Growing up in West Yellowstone made me kind of blasé about cold temperatures but now I think back on the ice and frost climbing up the INSIDE of our door and going a month or more with subzero temps.  I remember the bus drivers standing around in the motel parking lots with little fires under the oil pans of the busses so the oil would thaw enough to start the bus.  I think about these things and then wonder what our heating bills must have been back then.  When you're a kid, you don't think about that kind of thing but I sure notice the heat bills now!

Well, the temps are climbing a little today.  We're already up to 10 above and I'm going to get the woodstove fired up, at least for the day.  If we can stay above zero, I'll let the furnace rest for a while.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Heartland on Canadian TV



I've been enjoying a TV show for a year or so now called Heartland.  It's a Canadian show so it's not easy to get in real time here in the U.S. but Joann had seen an episode or two somewhere and it was on Netflix so I decided to watch it with her.

Heartland has become kind of a ritual now.  Whenever Joann and I are together and have time, we turn it on for an episode or two.  We only watch it when we are together and we've tried to not "binge watch" and wear it out.  There are only seven seasons on Netflix and I bought seasons 8 and 9 on DVD.  They just finished season 10 and I can only hope there will be additional seasons ahead.  I don't know when season 10 will be available to buy yet and we're almost done with the season 9 DVDs.

It interests me that U.S. TV programs are sex, gunfights and gays.  Some of the most popular shows in Canadian TV have been Due South, Red Green and Heartland.  An incredibly opposite mix of tastes.  Mine run more Canadian-like.

Heartland is funny, happy and friendly.  The sex is very low key and the violence is virtually non-existent.  On Heartland, a kiss is important, even earthshaking at times.  On U.S. TV shows a kiss is the precursor to showing some skin; often on same sex partners.

I heartily recommend the show to everyone.  Start with Season 1, episode 1 and work your way through ten years of the Bartlett/Fleming family activities; as we did and are doing.

http://www.cbc.ca/heartland/blog/heartland-holiday-greetings

https://www.facebook.com/cbcheartland/



Saturday, April 23, 2016

Nighttime Trip to Old Faithful

For those who don't know, I grew up in West Yellowstone, MT and so have enjoyed some wondrous times in Yellowstone National Park.  One of the best Park experiences I have ever enjoyed was this last Wednesday evening.  It's very early in the season for the Park but they have some roads open for vehicles and free admission for National Park Week

On a whim, Joann and I decided to go to West Yellowstone Wednesday, arriving there about 8PM.  I always stay at the Ho Hum Motel on Canyon Street so we checked in there with the evening ahead of us.  Joann suggested that we just go into the Park for a while and that is what we did.

Lots of buffalo to see as we head up the Madison and then the Firehole, going to Old Faithful as the sun sets behind us, shining it's golden light ahead.

That golden sunset light highlights the geyser steam as we approach the Lower and Midway basins, making those steam columns starkly stand out against the sky and the backgrounds.  A fabulous view of "my" world and one that I have only seldom enjoyed.  The air is fresh and clean except maybe for that ghostly scent of Geyser sulphur.

We arrive in the Old Faithful area just before 9PM and I park in an empty parking lot.  During the summer season it's sometimes hard to find a parking slot around Old Faithful Inn but tonight, we are the only ones here.  I've never seen this before as even when I come in this early in the season, I'm always here during the day when the tourists are active.  A new and very nice experience for me.

No way to tell when Old Faithful Geyser is supposed to make an appearance so we just hang around the Inn and the visitors center as it gets darker around us.  But, there is that big Rocky Mountain Full Moon to the East that will take over for the fading sun.  The temperature fades a little with the sun and I'm glad I wore a jacket.

The silence isn't quite complete.  To the north, the murmur and growl of the geysers here in the upper basin, including the splashing and growling noises from the closest, Old Faithful Geyser itself.  To our south, the faint hum of furnaces and other machinery in the buildings around the Old Faithful complex.  Still, the overall feeling is complete isolation and aloneness.  The solitude, peace and quiet is pronounced and I breath in the slightly chilly air with pleasure.

The noise from Old Faithful Geyser becomes a little more pronounced and there are slight thumps heard from underground.  Obviously, the time for action is growing nearer.  That big bright moon shows the area in detail and the steam from the geysers, not only Old Faithful but the others in the nearby area, shimmers in the bright moonlight, enhancing the view and really setting off the steam columns. 

A nighthawk flies overhead, keening as it goes and Joann says: "I wonder if he's trying to tell us
something."  The nighthawk flies over us once again and then flies away.  Moments later, hot water starts splashing out of Old Faithful and the "scheduled" eruption begins.  Boiling water shoots skyward with a roar and the whole event is lighted by the clear moonlight.  The water and steam shooting skyward are shimmering and dancing in the moonlight as this powerful display of nature unfolds before us!  How many times has this scene repeated over the past thousands of years?  I'm privileged to have been able to witness this one time and to be in the company of my best friend in my most revered area.

This marked some firsts for me.  I've never before:  Seen empty parking lots at the Old Faithful Inn area;  seen the boardwalk/viewing area at Old Faithful Geyser empty of people; watched Old Faithful Geyser erupt in the moonlight.

This was a trip I'll always remember.  Thanks for the great idea Joann!









Friday, March 25, 2016

Hillary's legacy

I know there are Hillary fans reading my posts. I would really like to have some reasonable discourse with any of you about why you would even consider this evil, corrupt and spiritually ugly liar in any position of power. What about this "person" attracts you?
 
At least Bernie is upfront about what he believes in and stands for. Although I disagree with almost everything he says and does and I have no real respect for him, at least he isn't an abhorrent, evil, lying scumball!
 
Kent Larsen with Kali Hickman Jordan.
January 20 ·
If you're under 50 you really need to read this. If you’re over 50, you lived through it, so share it with those under 50. Amazing to me how much I had forgotten!
 
When Bill Clinton was president, he allowed Hillary to assume authority over a health care reform. Even after threats and intimidation, she couldn’t even get a vote in a democratic controlled congress. This fiasco cost the American taxpayers about $13 million in cost for studies, promotion, and other efforts.
 
Then President Clinton gave Hillary authority over selecting a female attorney general. Her first two selections were Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood – both were forced to withdraw their names from consideration. Next she chose Janet Reno – husband Bill described her selection as “my worst mistake.” Some may not remember that Reno made the decision to gas David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas resulting in dozens of deaths of women and children.
 
Husband Bill allowed Hillary to make recommendations for the head of the Civil Rights Commission. Lani Guanier was her selection. When a little probing led to the discovery of Ms. Guanier’s radical views, her name had to be withdrawn from consideration.
 
Apparently a slow learner, husband Bill allowed Hillary to make some more recommendations. She chose former law partners Web Hubbel for the Justice Department, Vince Foster for the White House staff, and William Kennedy for the Treasury Department. Her selections went well: Hubbel went to prison, Foster (presumably) committed suicide, and Kennedy was forced to resign.
 
Many younger votes will have no knowledge of “Travelgate.” Hillary wanted to award unfettered travel contracts to Clinton friend Harry Thompson – and the White House Travel Office refused to comply. She managed to have them reported to the FBI and fired. This ruined their reputations, cost them their jobs, and caused a thirty-six month investigation. Only one employee, Billy Dale was charged with a crime, and that of the enormous crime of mixing personal and White House funds. A jury acquitted him of any crime in less than two hours.
 
Still not convinced of her ineptness, Hillary was allowed to recommend a close Clinton friend, Craig Livingstone, for the position of Director of White House security. When Livingstone was investigated for the improper access of about 900 FBI files of Clinton enemies (Filegate) and the widespread use of drugs by White House staff, suddenly Hillary and the president denied even knowing Livingstone, and of course, denied knowledge of drug use in the White House.
Following this debacle, the FBI closed its White House Liaison Office after more than thirty years of service to seven presidents.
 
Next, when women started coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment and rape by Bill Clinton, Hillary was put in charge of the #$%$ eruption” and scandal defense. Some of her more notable decisions in the debacle were:
 
She urged her husband not to settle the Paula Jones lawsuit. After the Starr investigation they settled with Ms. Jones.
 
She refused to release the Whitewater documents, which led to the appointment of Ken Starr as Special Prosecutor.
 
After $80 million dollars of taxpayer money was spent, Starr's investigation led to Monica Lewinsky, which led to Bill lying about and later admitting his affairs.
 
Hillary’s devious game plan resulted in Bill losing his license to practice law for 'lying under oath' to a grand jury and then his subsequent impeachment by the House of Representatives.
 
Hillary avoided indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice during the Starr investigation by repeating, “I do not recall,” “I have no recollection,” and “I don’t know” a total of 56 times while under oath.
 
After leaving the White House, Hillary was forced to return an estimated $200,000 in White House furniture, china, and artwork that she had stolen.
 
What a swell party – ready for another four or eight year of this type of low-life mess?
Now we are exposed to the destruction of possibly incriminating emails while Hillary was Secretary of State and the “pay to play” schemes of the Clinton Foundation – we have no idea what shoe will fall next.
 
But to her loyal fans (supporters) - I guess in her own words “what difference does it make?”

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Our Nation is Divinely Founded

 
In an effort to understand more of what I have been feeling and thinking about our country and our government in todays world, I ran across this article; Adapted from an address delivered by Elder L. Tom Perry on February 24, 1976, at BYU.  I strongly urge all to read and ponder what Elder Perry had to say to us 40 years ago as it seems obvious to me that his words are even more appropo in our current society.
 
 
 
For those of you who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), please don't disregard this wisdom about our country on that basis.  This message would be powerful from any source.
 
 
Here is a quote from this article which caught my eye.
 
 
"The source of America’s greatness is not a new doctrine to us. The Book of Mormon has declared over and over again that the blessings of heaven are contingent upon the righteousness of its people. In fact, this teaching has been proven in almost every age. Remember in 1831 when the famous French historian Alexis de Tocqueville said:
 

'I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world of commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.' (Jerreld L. Newquist, comp., Prophets, Principles and National Survival, Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1967, p. 60.)"
 
 
And these words about the Constitution of the United States
 
 
"No constitution on earth has endured longer than ours. We seek and usually find the answers to today’s hardest legal questions within this document of yesterday. The Constitution was and is a miracle. Both Washington and Madison referred to it as such. It was an inspired document, written under the divine guidance of the Lord. James Madison, commonly called the Father of the Constitution, recognized this inspiration and gave the credit to 'the guardianship and guidance of the Almighty Being whose power regulates the destiny of nations whose blessings have been so conspicuously displayed to the rising of this republic.' (Prologue, p. 95.)
 
 We believe that the Constitution was brought about by God to insure a nation where liberty could abound, where his gospel could flourish. Joseph Smith said, 'The Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner.' (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 147.)"
 
 
I know that the United States of America was founded through the Grace and Power of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Our founding fthers were guided by His Hand and the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are Divine documents, designed to provide for all mankind a place of freedom and bounty for all time.
Let us not lose these blessings through a falling away from the principles on which out nation was founded.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Media isn't telling us what's happening

 
 
On September 11, 2013, the American Muslim Political Action committee planned a big march on the mall in Washington, DC to, basically, protest Islamophobia.
 
As a response, the group: 2 Million Bikers to DC planned a nationwide ride.
 
 
An estimated 75,000 bikers showed up from all over the United States.  they presented a peaceful protest ride throughout Washington, DC but of course caused a bit of a traffic issue. 
 

In October, 2013 many of the nations truck drivers protested against government corruption and some of the actions being taken by the Obama Regime in response to the "Government Shutdown".  Although only a few dozen trucks showed up, the idea was impressive and the fact that so many of them took time from their business, used their own fuel and skipped loads, essentially giving up and/or spending thousands of dollars seems impressive to me.
 
Also, during the truckers protest, hundreds of Americans converged on Washington in protest of the Regime closing and barricading off many monuments and parks in the DC area as a way of making the Government Shutdown more visible.  These people tore down the barricades at some of these monuments and carried them to the Whitehouse lawn.  Most of these protesters were veterans.  Noteworthy participants were Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin.
My point here is that while these things were going on there was little or no Media coverage.  Very few people in America even knew these things were happening and most still don't know they happened.
 
In my opinion, because these events were counter to the wishes, desires and agenda of the current White House Regime, the compliant media ignored it all, thus keeping America uninformed and happy.
 
Many have talked of some sort of revolution against the continuing growth of unjustified and overreaching Government control in this country.  For all we know, it has already started and the Mainstream Media has just ignored it.  Hundreds of people could have been wiped out yesterday and we wouldn't know.
 
What has saved us a little is the alternative media such as Infowars, World News Daily, Newsmax, the Drudge Report and others.  Also, discussions of Facebook and Twitter keep small groups informed but, really, only those of us who already are feeling this way are watching these places.  Preaching to the Choir so to speak.
 
How do we get together and communicate without the sudden onslaught of Federal Agents at our doors?  We know Facebook is monitored as is Twitter.  What is our recourse for getting together and finding a way to fix this mess?