Friday, January 22, 2016

Recipes We Love

After going to my nephew Max's farewell last weekend (plenty of photos of that on Instagram here!), I've been thinking a lot more about the fact that we only have two and a half years left before Ashton can go on a mission - or until he leaves for college - not sure which will come first! I'm feeling a real urgency to get moving on all the trips we want to take together as a family and building my relationship with him. And on a practical level, I'm feeling like I need to teach this boy to cook and get going on typing up and posting tried-and-true recipes on this blog so that wherever my kids are in the world, they can always come here to find a recipe that will be healthy and inexpensive and easy to make - and that will hopefully bring a little taste of our home to them wherever they are.
I posted a bunch of recipes a while back (I was trying to post one a week).

Then I sort of fizzled out on posting recipes. But it's time to get going again. So whenever I make something that fits the bill (a family favorite that is generally healthy, inexpensive and simple), I'm going to get it posted here. 

New Recipe to Share: Dahl (Lentils) with Tomatoes and Onions

This recipe is one that I can make in about 30 minutes and it involves ingredients that I pretty much always have on hand in my pantry or fridge (don't need anything fresh except some yogurt/sour cream and cilantro for toppings - those are nice but not necessary). It's savory, filling, and very cheap to make. It's from an Indian cooking class I took ages ago when I lived in DC. I can still hear the teacher's beautiful Indian accent as she explained everything to us. While it's Indian, it's not spicy/hot and it's got flavors that most everyone likes.
I like to make the full batch (serves 12) and then use leftovers for lunches or another dinner. The flavor actually improves as it sits in the fridge for a couple days. And it freezes well if you want to make a lot and save some for later.
I read an article about lentils back when I was living with roommates and working in DC and trying to spend very little money on food while trying to eat really healthily. I learned that lentils are chock-full of vitamins and protein and that they have a great meaty sort of texture and flavor. You can even use them in place of hamburger in a recipe. So I got really into lentils back then. And we probably have a recipe with lentils a couple times a month these days.
Anyway, here goes with the recipe:

Dahl (Lentils) with Tomatoes and Onions

1 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion OR 2 small onions, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root (can use the bottled pre-grated stuff)
1 tbsp minced garlic (can used the bottled, pre-minced stuff)
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp curry powder
2 cups lentils (red, yellow, brown, whatever kind of lentils)
2 28-oz cans of petite diced
4 cups water
2 tsp salt (to taste)
1 fresh green chili, finely chopped (if desired, makes more spicy)
fresh chopped cilantro leaves to garnish
plain yogurt or sour cream as topping

Saute together onions, ginger, and garlic in the oil until limp and slightly browned. Add chili powder and curry powder. Add the lentils and mix together over the heat. Mix in the two cans of tomatoes (including juice - dump in the whole can). Then add the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for about 25 minutes or until lentils are soft (add a little more water if necessary to keep lentils moist while cooking). Stir in salt. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and a dollop of yogurt/sour cream. Garnish wtih chopped chilis for more heat. Good over basmati rice. 
Serves 12.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy New Year!

I started this post on December 12th. It was going to be our virtual Christmas card. But it took me until now to finally get it polished. So it's now a our virtual New Year's card! There were plenty of not-so-great and pretty darn mundane things that happened this year, but this post is just about the things we really want to remember...

Thank you so much to all who sent us beautiful physical Christmas cards! Eliza strung them all up so we could enjoy them:

I admire those who've been able to keep their address books current and who lovingly find the time to prepare and mail out clever family updates and beautiful photos of their family each year. But online holiday greetings will have to do for us!

Loosli Family Highlights of 2015

Family Trip to Bulgaria and Italy (where Saren and Jared served missions over 20 years ago now). We've wanted to do this for so many years and were so grateful to finally make it happen this year!
  • Visited and worked in orphanages in Bulgaria (Ashton gathered supplies and made this his Eagle project). Loved getting to know some great kids and came away counting our blessings big time. Parents are important.
  • Loved seeing friends from our missions and going to church in Bulgaria and in Italy plus loved taking the kids to places we lived and worked and sharing lots of stories. Jared and I loved speaking Bulgarian and Italian again (we were pretty rusty but it was amazing how it came back after a few days!)
  • Visited tons of Churches and cathedrals (highlights in Bulgaria were the ancient St George's church and the lovely Alexander Dnevski, highlights in Italy were Sienna Cathedral, St Peters in Rome, Genova Cathedral), one ancient ruined castle in Bulgaria, lots of gorgeous little hill towns in Tuscany, navigated our way through miles and miles of twisty cobblestone streets on foot, finding charming and interesting stuff along the way, climbed to the top of mountains and towers for breathtaking views, put tons of miles on rental cars, ate lots of gelato and good European bread and cheese and cucumbers, met wonderful people and learned a ton while enjoying great family time.
donating books and getting to know orphans in Bulgaria

Alexander Dnevski cathedral in Sofia Bulgaria
visiting the area where I spent most of my time as a missionary in Bulgaria

Sienna - and our first gelato of the trip

Exploring hill towns in Tuscany
Driving over the Apuan Alps in Tuscany
hiking the Cinque Terre
Leaning Tower of Pisa

Ponte Vecchio in Florence

View over Florence

Meeting up with the Jonah Eyres at the Collosseum in Rome

St Peters in Rome

Exploring Rome with our own Roman Soldier and Gladiator

Exploring Genoa where Jared spent a lot of his mission - and eating the BEST gelato

Climbed Mount Ogden. We hike a lot together and enjoyed some really gorgeous hikes this year. Our most notable would be hiking Mount Ogden. We had planned for years to hike the tallest peak in the Ogden area so we decided to make it happen in August. We somehow lost the trail, bush-whacked through areas maybe no human has visited before, called the forest service for advice, and ultimately reached that summit and then hiked down the other side of the mountain (since it seemed like a terrible idea to go back the painful way we came!), ending up (9 hours later) at Snow Basin Ski Resort where some nice friends came and rescued us. An adventure we'll never forget!

almost to the top

heading down the other side

hiking Teton National Park

Saren's trip with her mom and sisters to Switzerland, Austria and Germany. In late September, Saren enjoyed an epic week with amazing women visiting gorgeous places (nice balance of nature and man-made beauty) while laughing and talking non-stop.

Extended Family Gatherings. We had great times with the Eyre family at Bear Lake for our annual reunion there in July and great times with the Loosli family in Ashton, ID and at the FIVE wonderful Loosli weddings we attended this year.
Kicking off the Eyre Reunion at Bear Lake

Bear Lake beauty

Fun with lots of Looslis in Ashton, ID for the 4th of July

Great times at the Ashton Reservoir

Mark and Kelsey's wedding in Las Vegas
Portia and Michael's wedding in SLC
I need to hunt down photos of the rest of the wonderful, beautiful weddings! I'll add them in here when I find them.

Tons of Sports (involving lots of shuttling kids around, lots of learning, lots of exercise, afternoons, evenings and weekends packed with practices, games, meets and races!)
  • Ashton joined the Ogden High School football team. Completely on his own, he figured out when practices were, raised 100% of the funds he needed through selling "Tiger Cards" house to house, got himself to and from every practice on his bike, built some serious muscles and learned a ton.
  • Ashton, Isaac and Eliza joined the Ogden High Mountain Biking Team and learned lots of new skills as they biked all over the mountains. We spent lots of Saturdays in super dusty and hot places watching them race. They all did great!
  • Eliza and Isaac ran on the Ogden Prep cross country team again this year. Isaac struggled a bit with his asthma but did well. Eliza really did well this year, taking 3rd in Regionals. They both love to run and it's so fun to watch them.
  • Isaac is on the Ogden High swim team and is a total beginner but is improving his times and perfecting his strokes. He's loving it.
  • Eliza make the junior high school basketball team and is practicing every day after school and has games two days a week. She's getting quite a lot of playing time even though she's one of the youngest on the team and it's fun to see her totally go after that ball and throw her whole heart into it.
  • Saren is still loving her running and hiking - she listens to NPR podcasts while running and goes on a big hike every week with friends (no matter the weather) and thrives on the exercise, great conversation and gorgeous views.
  • Jared's gotten back into running, is doing quite a bit of trail running, and likes doing crazy hard weightlifting and crossfit classes at the gym (he's weird that way).
  • All the kids are getting to be really great skiers (or in Ashton's case, snowboarders). The kids love skiing with Jared while Saren enjoys reading and working at the lodge. Ashton broke his arm when snow boarding on his birthday. That was a great present.
Eliza ready to race

Isaac ready to race
Ashton Racing
Ashton's in the middle there - number 88

Isaac giving it his all - tricky asthma issues but still a great season
Eliza lining up to race at Regionals

Eliza racing at State

Isaac winning his first triathalon

Eliza playing basketball
The twin with their neighborhood friends, neverending Nerf wars and trampoline-jumping

Saren at the top of Ben Lomond Peak with her two hiking partners

skiing has been a big part of these kids' lives the past couple years
Saren is still working a lot of hours on Power of Moms (and still trying to cut back and get more balance...). She's loved seeing how much the website has grown in the 8 years she's been working on it and the kind emails she receives from moms who so appreciate all that the website has to offer keep her going. Power of Moms had almost 2 million visits last year and there are nearly 70,000 registered members of the website now. In October, she had the opportunity to co-host an international online conference for moms. It was a TON of work but was really wonderful to see almost almost 35,000 moms attend and express gratitude for all that they learned. Her other big project this year was to work with her sister-in-law Aja to completely revise the classic Joy School lesson plans and breathe new life into that great program.

Jared is still working for ARI, managing software development for tire companies. His 2-hour commute to SLC was really getting old after 3 years, so he was recently able to set up a telecommuting situation so that he can work from a nice office space here in Ogden. He's loving the extra time he has to exercise and enjoy time with family (and we're so grateful to see more of him!). Jared's still serving as Bishop of our very needy inner city congregation and is doing such a great job counseling people on personal issues and financial issues while managing all the great people who run the different organizations in the church. There's never a dull moment in his calling! He's got stories to last a lifetime.

Big Kids
We suddenly have such big and grown-up children! How is it that Ashton just turned 16 and is almost as tall as his dad? Isaac has been growing like crazy lately and has passed up Saren in height. Eliza's feet are now bigger than Saren's. Wasn't it just yesterday that they were babies? All the kids are so fun to talk to and we learn so much from them. They still drive us crazy sometimes when they can't seem to close cupboards or doors and leave a trail of random stuff in their wake. And they tend to bicker and bother each other more than we really love. But we sure do love these kids of ours and we're feeling the heat when it comes to needing to enjoy time with them before they head out on their own in all-too-few years! 

What a year! 

Here's to a wonderful 2016 for all of us.


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