Tag Archives: traditions

Barbecue Beef Sandwiches.

Happy Memorial Day! How do you celebrate? It seems to me that most Americans celebrate with MEAT — usually between two buns, & most often eaten outside.

The Munchkin participating in the family tradition 1 year ago

My husband’s family goes out to his Grandma’s house in Grantsville, Utah, & puts mums on the graves of their ancestors, then has a big delicious meal afterwards. I first took part in this tradition when we’d been dating for four months. I started recognizing last names on several of the graves, so I asked if they were descended from the same Clark I was (Clark, after all, isn’t an uncommon name, so I wouldn’t have been surprised if we weren’t). Turns out we’re fifth cousins. Awkward! Especially finding this out when you haven’t been dating for very long! But we laughed about it & later got married anyway… & got a big scare when we had to sign our marriage license, certifying that we were “not related within and not including the fifth degree of consanguinity” (neither of us had heard that last word before). Turns out it just means you’re not second cousins. Phew! In the clear! We’ve had a lot of laughs about that one as well.

She's probably going to kill me for posting this picture, but it's the most recent one I have of her!

Sorry, I digress. Back to Memorial Day. My family celebrates with a big cookout with friends. My mom is an amazing cook & lives all the way across the country in California, so this Memorial Day — which is also her birthday — I’m remembering her. Happy Birthday, Mom! I don’t want this to become a Mother’s Day post, rather than a Memorial Day one, so I’ll just say that how she’s able to do it all stumps me completely. She’s an amazing cook, gardens so well she practically has an orchard in the middle of LA County (& we always enjoyed the fruits of it — literally — at meals growing up), went to all of our concerts & band competitions & was a “band mom” for many years… & works full-time as an attorney downtown. I hope I can do half that without a demanding job! In short, she’s incredible, & so are her barbecue beef sandwiches. Since we don’t have a grill, this has become my big summer “cookout” dish. If you’re an apartment dweller like me, they can be yours too!

Syd’s Barbecue Beef Sandwiches

  • 3 1/2 lb. pot roast
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • a few Tbsp. oil
  • 1+ cup water
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbsp. vinegar (I use cider vinegar)
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce — not salsa (the best is “Homade” — actually spelled that way — sweet chili sauce in a squat glass jar, but I’ve only been able to find it out west, so I use the Heinz version plus a pinch of chili powder. Not perfect, but still good.)
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 dash (or 2) cinnamon
  • 1 dash (or 2) cloves
  • 1 dash garlic salt
  1. Brown both sides of the pot roast in a large pot (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven) in hot oil with the garlic & 1/4 of the onion. Add salt & pepper to taste & enough water to cover, then cover & braise on low 2-3 hours or until tender. (Slow cooker: After browning, transfer everything to slow cooker, add 1 cup water, & cook on  high 2-3 hours or low for 5.)
  2. Remove roast & shred, then return to pot or slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients, cover & simmer about 3 hours (slow cooker: high for about 2, low for about 4).
  3. Serve over rolls of choice at your next big get-together this summer!

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Filed under Holidays, Recipes

Painted Easter Cookies.

How’s this for a fun new take on cookie decorating?

Truth be told, it’s only sorta new. You see, the original idea came from my Grandmother, LaRee. She was the kind of homemaker I aspire to be: fabulous cook, incredible seamstress, great pianist (& even wrote music!), & celebrated holidays like no one else.

Every Christmas, my aunt Becky gives the whole family a great gift: a piece of our family history. This past Christmas she wrote about some of Grandmother’s holiday traditions, & even included some of her old recipes! (You can bet I’ll be trying & blogging her Milkless Pumpkin Pie this fall!) One of those traditions was painting gingerbread cookies at Thanksgiving time. The “paint” was egg yolk & food coloring — they didn’t worry about salmonella back then. I thought it was such a fun idea! But obviously, the salmonella bit had to go.

I baked my favorite sugar cookie recipe; this is the recipe that I come back to every time, like a good hairdresser — when you stray, you always end up feeling sorry you did. I got it from a coworker whose wife made them for a potluck of some kind years ago. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m stealing it & reposting it (at the end of the post) for the world to see, but it really is the perfect cookie — thick, soft, & always delicious. Then I frosted them with I Am Baker’s famous glaze for a nice, hard white surface to paint on.

The next day, The Munchkin’s friend & her mommy came over to paint with us! The paint was a grand experiment that thankfully went right: a healthy glob of gel food coloring (we wanted vivid colors for the girls; if you want a lighter, more watercolor-esque effect, start with very little), plus a drop of corn syrup to stabilize, plus a couple tablespoons of water. I put a different color in each well of a muffin tin & had different brushes for each color to avoid mixing. The brushes were brand new & very well rinsed before using.

The girls had a blast! The Munchkin’s friend, who’s almost exactly a year older than her, was very careful & intent in her painting: she covered each cookie entirely in one color, switching colors only with new cookies.

You could tell the girls’ cookies apart in 2 ways: 1) The Munchkin enjoyed mixing her colors, & 2) the bite marks.

Once the girls got tired of the painting, the mommies got to have a turn. My friend Wendy is a cookie-egg-decorating master, I’ll tell you what.

(Special Easter Bunny tip: if you have small children, skip the fake grass — go with tissue paper instead. Your carpets, vacuum cleaners, domesticated animals, & sanity will thank you.)

Now, before you rush off & go paint some Easter masterpieces yourselves, here are a few things we learned:

One – If the colors touch, they will run. Leave a generous white border between colors, or you’ll get this:

Two – Food coloring isn’t as washable as Crayola. Expect your hands to look like this for a day or two if you have a particularly young &/or messy child:

Three – The corn syrup makes the paint a little sticky, even after drying, so for storage, shipping, packaging, etc., use parchment paper.

Four – No matter what holiday it is or what we’re decorating cookies for, as long as My Husband The Cougar Fanatic is around, there will always be a BYU athlete. Always.

Five – This was totally AWESOME!!!

Here’s the Perfect Sugar Cookie recipe, courtesy of my coworker’s wife, Grace:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I usually let a little “spill over” to add just a teeny bit more)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. Cream butter & sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs & vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients gradually & mix until well combined.
  4. Chill one hour to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 400.
  6. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface, 1/2 inch thick, & cut with cookie cutters.
  7. Bake 6-8 minutes.

Enjoy, & have a happy, sweet, & colorful Easter!

Tidy Mom

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Filed under Activities, Holidays, Recipes

Conference Weekend.

General Conference is this weekend! Twice a year, the prophet & apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speak to all of the members of the church, all over the world, about the Savior, issues we’re facing in the world, & generally just how to be better people.

President Thomas S. Monson, the prophet

It’s something I look forward to every April & October — & not just because it means getting to sit on the sofa for church! I enjoy feeling the Spirit brought by the talks & hyms, & using it as a semiannual opportunity to gauge my progress & what I need to be working on.

It’s a very special time, full of fun family traditions. One new tradition I’m starting this year is having a taste of Utah for dinner, namely Cafe Rio! I found some great recipes for their pork barbacoa, cilantro-lime rice, black beans, & the best ranch dressing ever at Favorite Family Recipes. (You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to find tomatillos out here!) We also like to have cinnamon rolls for breakfast, but I totally forgot to buy the Pillsbury ones today & I don’t have any yeast, so I guess we’ll have to wait until October for that & just have pancakes instead.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen to the talks with The Munchkin running around, though, so I found these great Conference activity packets at Sugardoodle to keep her quiet & focused, but still having fun. They have packets for every age group from Nursery up to adults! You should totally check it out.

What are you most looking forward to this Conference weekend? Does your family have any fun traditions or tips for helping everyone pay attention?

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