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Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I am switching over to my own website.

Please consider visiting me at:    http://skepticalthayne.com

Thank you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring Rhubarb/Strawberry/Blueberry Pie

I have three LARGE rhubarb plants in my garden.  At least once a year, I HAVE to have rhubarb pie made with the stalks from these plants.  This year, I decided to make it with a few blueberries and strawberries.  I quickly used the pies on my neighbors -- who acted as guinea pigs for the test.  It went very well, thank you.  Here is the recipe......
  • 3 cups rhubarb
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 xl eggs  (one for glazing the pastry)
  • pie pastry for two covered pies

Cut new shoots of rhubarb, then wash and slice them into small pieces.  (remember that the leaves are poisonous, so do NOT eat them in any form)

Slice your strawberries as well.

Add your blueberries.

Mix everything together in a large bowl.

Lightly beat three eggs, add two of the eggs, 1 cup of flour, 2 cups of sugar, and 1 tsp salt to the berries in the bowl.

Put 1/2 the mixture in each of the two pie crusts and cover with top pastry.  Slit the top in several places and baste the tops with the third beaten egg.

Place the pies in a 425 degree pre-heated oven for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, quickly remove the pies and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  place aluminum foil around the edges of the pies to prevent them from burning and place the pies back in the oven for about 35 minutes longer.

Remove the finished pies and allow them to cool for about 30 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream to your best neighbors -- like I did.  They will be happily surprised.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gay People and Defending Traditional Christian Marriage: Vol II

       When there was a lot of turmoil in Alaska in 1998 about what the Alaska and Hawaii Constitutions guaranteed about equality of all citizens, it quickly became clear that the LDS Church leaders perceived equality as a threat to traditional marriage relationships.  I pointed out in my previous post on this topic that a letter from the "General Authorities" was read in our ward in Fairbanks, Alaska on this topic.  It pointed out that those members who had gone through the temple had promised everything they had to the building up of the Church.  [The secret oath is actually, to "consecrate your time, talents and everything which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...."]   Now, the church leaders are asking us to help a new amendment to the Alaska Constitution pass the voters of Alaska to uphold traditional marriage.   It said that marriage is under attack by "Gay Rights" people who want to destroy our marriages by getting the legal right to marry.  The letter asked all members to vote for the amendment to Alaska's Constitution AND to give sizable amounts of money to help affect the outcome of this ballot initiative.


The timetable for Gay rights to marry in Alaska is listed HERE.

No explanation was given on HOW allowing some Gay couple to marry would destroy traditional marriage.  Neither was an explanation ever given exactly how the state has a compelling interest in who its citizens should or should not be allowed to marry.


So, I wrote a letter to my bishop saying that until I had a good argument to vote to limit the Constitutional freedoms guaranteed in the Alaska Constitution, I could not vote for this amendment -- AND WOULD DONATE MY FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO DEFEATING THE NEW AMENDMENT.
    The Bishop told the Stake President [Pres Wappitt, a military medical officer serving in Fairbanks, AK] and I was soon called into his office for a "visit".  It was about two weeks before the election.  He kindly asked me to give up my temple recommend, as I was not supporting the LDS leadership in the ward, stake or Church.  He explained that the "issue" was NOT gay marriage, but obedience to the church's leaders.  He pointed out the question of the temple recommend that had to do with sustaining local leaders -- "4 Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?"  He said that he will need me to surrender my temple recommend "until I can answer 'YES' to that key question on the recommend interview."  I gave him my recommend.

      I thought about this constantly for the next two weeks.  When I voted at the voting booth, I voted AGAINST my conscience and FOR the amendment.  I hated myself for it.  It was only one vote, but it was a vote FOR ignorance, bigotry and FOR the improper authority of church leaders over their members.   But, I knew that without a temple recommend, I not only could not answer that question the way that I had to, but neither would I be allowed to be in attendance at my daughter's wedding -- that I knew would probably soon happen in the next few years in an LDS temple.

     So, the sly Stake President had brought the issue to a head.  He re-framed the issue as obedience AND had called in the original temple covenant so that they could do as they liked [or were inspired] without giving members a path of escape path to wiggle through.

     Yes, I got my temple recommend back -- but at a price for BOTH me AND the church.  I got the feeling that I could still go to the temple whenever I needed to -- but I promised myself secretly that I would NEVER again allow someone that kind of authority over my life -- if there is anything else that I can do about it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"A" Pancake

While my kids were young, (about 35 years ago), they would often ask me to fix the kind of foods that they liked best for breakfast. It was often a food that they called, “A Pancake” (when they pronounced this, they would have a hard “A”, like “A” pancake).
These were actually baked pancakes, instead of fried-on-a-griddle kind. They are often referred to as “Dutch Babies”. They are not light and fluffy, but fairly dense and heavy.  They are typically served with fruit and a bit of powdered sugar or syrup.
These pancakes puff dramatically while in the oven and are fun to watch as they puff and bake and rise in the baking pan.  Immediately upon taking them out of the oven, they deflate and flatten -- so if the kids are around, they will want to watch the pancake as it bakes - and particularly when it is brought out of the oven.
Here are the ingredients I use:
  • four extra large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • three Tbs melted butter
  • 2 Tbs room temperature butter (for the baking pan)
First beat the eggs lightly in a large mixing dish.
(a larger one than I show here).
Add flour, salt, milk and melted butter.

Normally, since the eggs and milk are cold from the refrigerator, I then put the mixture in my microwave for 20-30 seconds to bring the entire mixture up to room temperature.  This makes the baking quicker and assures even baking.
Use an oven-safe pan with sloping sides.  This can be a cast-iron pan or something that will NOT hurt the handles when placed in a hot oven.
Pre-heat the oven to 380 F.  Place the empty baking pan in the hot oven for 3-5 minutes.  Then put the room-temperature butter in the hot pan inside the oven.  Always be careful around hot ovens and hot pans.

When the butter has melted (and before the butter starts to burn), pour the pancake batter into the hot pan and close the oven door.

Watch as the transformation takes place in the pan.
The pancake will begin to rise into unusual shapes as it bakes.  It will be done in 10-13 minutes (depending on the heating characteristics of the pan itself).
The pancake is done when the center of the pancake is clearly cooked.   Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a large plate of platter and sprinkle with powdered sugar or syrup.  Cut into pieces for serving.
Enjoy your "A" pancake.

Orange Rolls from Grandma Andersen

Grandmother Marie’s Orange Rolls

Just in case you have wanted to make orange rolls that are delicious, sweet and loaded with calories, here is your chance.  Marie (my Mom) used to make these for every special occasions that happened along.  (By the way, don’t make these very often, as they totally wreck any known diet on the earth.)  Mom died of diabetes and she loved sweet baked things.
Start with 3 or 4 oranges.   Wash them and grate the outer skin.
You ONLY want the very orange skin, not the white pulp underneath.  Be careful not to scrape your finger or knuckle, as it is painful and the blood does nothing for the taste of the final product.  Depending on how large your oranges are, you need about 3/4 cup of grated skin (NOT YOUR skin).

You should NOT grate so much off the orange that it cuts into the juice of the orange.
After you have 3/4 cup of grated skin, put the grated skin into a bowl.  (I was making a larger batch here, so I am showing a full cup of zest.)  The strength of the taste of orange is quite strong with 3/4 cup, so you might want to cut the amount back to 1/2 cup of zest if you taste buds don’t like that strong of an orange taste) Now add one bar of melted butter (1/2 cup) and 2 cups of sugar to the zest and mix thoroughly.  This much sugar makes for a very sweet final taste, so if you want to cut back by adding only 1 or 1  and 1/2 cup of sugar this is fine.  Mom felt that you could never make these rolls too sweet.
Set this mixture aside and allow it to cool down to room temperature, so it won’t be too runny when you put it on the orange roll batter.
Now, lightly beat three XL eggs in a large glass or ceramic bowl (you probably will need to warm it up in the microwave and metal bowls do not agree at all with microwaves).
Combine this with 2 cups of milk (Mom always used whole milk or at least milk with the most fat in it). Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/3 cup oil.  (I use olive oil, but Mom always used melted vegetable oil)  Stir and mix together.  Since we need to raise the temperature to allow the yeast to do its wonders, put the mixture in a microwave to slightly warm up the milk and egg mixture to about body temperature or about 100 degrees.  I use a thermometer and carefully raise the temperature.  Normally this takes about 1 and 1/2 minutes in the microwave.
Now, you need to prepare the dry ingredients in a large bowl that you will use to mix and knead the dough.  Take two cups of while bleached flour (Mom never used other flour except for special occasions) and add one tablespoon of yeast and one teaspoon of salt. Mix everything well with a wire whisk, then add the liquid mixture of milk and eggs.  Mix everything well and allow the yeast to activate for 10 minutes.  The mixture will start forming little bubbles to show that the yeast is working.
Now comes the messy part — mixing and kneading the dough.  Make sure that your hands are washed and clean.  Add three more cups of flour a little at a time while mixing, and end up kneading the dough with your hands.  The dough will be moist and sticky.  Knead the dough vigorously for five minutes. Spray the bowl and dough with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap and place in warm spot to rise.  I use an over that has been warmed up — BUT NOT HOT.  I think anything over about 120 degrees is too hot to properly rise the dough. When the dough has doubled in size, put it out on a floured surface and roll flat.

Spread the zest/sugar/butter mixture on the dough.
Gently roll up the dough into itself.
Using a thin two-foot piece of dental floss, scoot the floss under the end of the dough and cross it over itself to cut each piece of roll about 1 and 1/2 inch thick.  This is much better than trying to cut the dough with a knife — which will simply crush the dough roll.
Place each piece on a baking pan with edges that will not let juices easily boil out into the oven.
Cover and allow to rise till doubled in volume.

Place the rolls into an oven that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes till lightly browned on top.  (alternatively, you may bake them at 390 degrees for only 25 minutes)
As quickly as possible, turn the rolls out of the pan onto aluminum foil.  Be careful turning the rolls out of their pan, as hot liquids can easily burn fingers and hands nearby.
…..And there you have it — Grandmother Marie’s Orange Rolls!
Basic list of ingredients:
  • 3 oranges whose skin (zest) has been scraped off
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 Tbs yeast
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 (extra large) eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla