Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Camel Rides and Crazy Crust Pizza

It is the end of the year and I am waxing nostalgic. I have had a list of things I want to do for many years and one by one, I have done many of those things and marked them off of my list. So tonight I was wondering what all my friends have done in their lives. I have marked in RED the things I have done and the things I still have to do. The truth is there are more than are on this list, but the undone things are in BLUE.
  1. Started your own blog

  2. Slept under the stars

  3. Played in a band

  4. Visited Hawaii

  5. Watched a meteor shower

  6. Given more than you can afford to charity

  7. Been to Disneyland

  8. Climbed a mountain or hiked up a mountain

  9. Ridden a camel

  10. Sang a solo

  11. Bungee jumped

  12. Visited Paris

  13. Watched a lightning storm at sea

  14. Taught yourself an art from scratch

  15. Ridden an elephant

  16. Had food poisoning

  17. Been to the Statue of Liberty

  18. Grown your own vegetables

  19. Seen pyramids of an ancient civilization

  20. Slept on an overnight train

  21. Had a pillow fight

  22. Hitchhiked

  23. Built a snow fort

  24. Held a lamb

  25. Visited the Caribbean

  26. Had malaria

  27. Run a marathon

  28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice

  29. Seen a total eclipse

  30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

  31. Hit a home run

  32. Been on a cruise

  33. Seen Niagara Falls in person

  34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors

  35. Seen an Amish community

  36. Taught yourself a new language

  37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

  38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person

  39. Seen an emerald mine

  40. Been in a cave

  41. Been to a World Series game

  42. Sung karaoke

  43. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt

  44. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant

  45. Visited Africa

  46. Seen an erupting volcano

  47. Walked on a beach by moonlight

  48. Had your portrait painted

  49. Gone deep sea fishing

  50. Seen the Prado Museum in person

  51. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris

  52. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling

  53. Kissed in the rain

  54. Played in the mud

  55. Gone to a drive-in theater

  56. Been in a movie

  57. Visited the Great Wall of China

  58. Started a business

  59. Taken a martial arts class

  60. Visited Russia

  61. Served at a soup kitchen

  62. Sold Girl Scout cookies

  63. Gone whale watching

  64. Received flowers for no reason

  65. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

  66. Gone sky diving

  67. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp

  68. Bounced a check

  69. Flown in a helicopter

  70. Saved a favorite childhood toy

  71. Visited the Lincoln Memorial

  72. Eaten sushi

  73. Pieced a quilt

  74. Stood in Times Square

  75. Toured the Everglades

  76. Learned how to do cross stitch

  77. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London

  78. Broken a bone

  79. Been on a speeding motorcycle

  80. Seen the Grand Canyon in person

  81. Published a book

  82. Visited the Vatican

  83. Bought a brand new car

  84. Walked in Jerusalem

  85. Had your picture in the newspaper

  86. Read the entire Bible

  87. Visited the White House

  88. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

  89. Had chickenpox

  90. Saved someone’s life

  91. Sat on a jury

  92. Met someone famous

  93. Joined a book club

  94. Lost a loved one

  95. Had a baby

  96. Seen the Alamo in person

  97. Been involved in a law suit

  98. Owned a cell phone

  99. Been stung by a bee

  100. Read an entire book in one day

  101. Made a pizza

  102. Gone to a cooking or baking course

  103. Gone to a motivational seminar

  104. Gone on a missions trip

  105. Ridden the rapids in a river

  106. Visited the Taj Mahal

  107. Ridden a ostrich

  108. Ridden an ox

  109. Slept in a stilted house over the ocean

  110. Visited Argentina

  111. Relaxed in Fiji

  112. Designed a piece of jewelry

  113. Learned to photo edit on a computer

  114. Balanced your checkbook on the first try

  115. Fallen in love

  116. Taken your dog to a dog show and won

  117. Owned a restaurant

  118. Bought a place on the beach

Today was a lazy day, I lounged around in my nightgown all day and did tons of paperwork. That may not sound too exciting, but to me it is a blessing to get it done and out of the way. Now I just have to file it.

Evening arrived, the turkey leftovers are all gone and it was time to fix something for dinner. I made a "Crazy Crust Pizza". For those who have never made this kind of pizza, it is quick and easy!


1 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk

Mix together and pour into a greased and floured 15 x 10 inch pan. If you like a crispy crust try using cornmeal instead of flour. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes in the oven, take the crust out and fill it with your favorite ingredients.

Top with:
1 can pizza sauce
1 can artichokes
1 1/2 c. grated Mozzarella cheese
1 lbs. browned hamburger
1/4 c. chopped onions
1/4 cup tomatoes
16 black or green olives
1 tsp. Italian seasoning

Bake at 375 degrees for another 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Shopping, Liquor Store, Peppermint Truffles, Cataracts, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

I have been baking and making chocolates all week. It seems so strange to actually be in the house for a full week. I have been working like crazy to catch up on paperwork, emails and study. After a year of being in town only for 2 or 3 days per week, I am really tired and I didn't realize how tired I was until I have had this break!

All in all, it has been a wonderful year. Thousands of lives have been touched! Hundreds of surgeries have been performed. And many people can see to read for the first time in many years. Recently visiting the home of one of the cataract surgery recipients, the grandchildren were complaining because "grandma sees everything now." It is such a blessing to be able to help these old people which would be blind in a few short years.

This week, I wanted to make some peppermint truffles, but alas there was no peppermint flavoring available anywhere in Tegucigalpa. I scratched my head and tried to figure out what to do. So off to the liquor store I went, hiding my car behind the store, because the Honduran grapevine is SO VERY real and a missionary entering a liquor store is VERY taboo! I bought a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps and then on to the specialty store that carries imported candies. I bought a bag of peppermint candy and then off to the grocery store to buy what else I needed. The dark chocolate had been ordered two days before and was on it's way from San Pedro Sula, half way across the country and was to arrive late in the afternoon. My plan was that I would have everything ready so when the chocolate came, I could start dipping!

Nothing is easy when baking in Honduras. I must normally go to a minimum of 3 to 5 stores to buy what I need for a week of baking. Oh how I miss, Willams Sonoma, Dean and Deluca, Bakers Corner, HyVee and Internet shopping with a postal service that doesn't open every package and steal at least half and sometimes all of your order.

Finally I had the ingredients I needed to make or at least try to make Peppermint Truffles. Understand, there was no recipe, this was all "in my head". I have never made ganache, so I decided that today would NOT be the day to make ganache. I would use chocolate cake, buttercream icing, Peppermint Schnapps, a little sour cream and peppermint candy crushed and mixed into the truffles to give it more peppermint flavor. Then I would cover it with a layer of dark chocolate.

I started. I had made cake from scratch several days earlier, so it was just a matter of mixing and dipping, or so I thought. I rolled all the balls, had everything ready to go, but I was still waitng for the chocolate to arrive. Waiting, waiting, waiting and still no chocolate. I called the chocolate guy and the truck bringing the chocolate had wrecked between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa so now I had no chocolate for dipping and no prospects of getting any until at least tomorrow.

I have a saying! "The only thing that you can count on in Honduras is that everthing is subject to change at a moments notice."

I now had a decision to make, leave these "truffles" in the freezer for God only knows how long, or punt. I decided to punt. I pulled them out of the freezer, rolled them in red and white sprinkles and called it a day.

Peppermint Truffles

1 box of chocolate cake mix (homemade is better)

1 package of red and white stripped peppermint candies

1 bottle of Peppermint Schnapps (and no you do not use it all)

2 Teaspoons of Peppermint Flavoring

2 Tablespoons of sour cream

1/2 cup of homemade buttercream icing

50 small cupcake papers

Chocolate for dipping

  1. Before you start, crush the peppermint candies into small peices but not "crushed to dust". Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Mix together the chocolate cake, sour cream, buttercream icing and start adding Peppermint Schnapps until you can form a ball that holds together but is not gooey. If you have peppermint flavoring, now is the time to use it.
  3. Roll the balls in the peppermint candy until the candy is not sticking out on the sides of the ball, where you can get a clean post dipped finish.
  4. Place the balls in the freezer to harden up for later dipping.
  5. When the balls are hard set, dip in chocolate.
  6. Allow to dry.
  7. Decorate with a few swirls and some red and white sprinkles.
  8. Move to small cupcake paper cups.
  9. Make a pact with yourself NOT to eat more than 2.

Meanwhile I have the scalloped potatoes in the oven and they will be very tasty with the roast left over from a few days ago.


Prep Time: 30 min Total Time: 1 hr
Makes: 15 servings, 3/4 cup each


1 pkg. (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup chicken broth
3 lb. red potatoes, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Smoked Turkey, chopped
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup frozen peas


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and chicken broth in large bowl until well blended. Add potatoes, ham, 1-3/4 cups of the cheese and peas; stir gently to coat all ingredients. SPOON into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. BAKE 1 hour or until heated through and potatoes are tender.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Decorating The Christmas Tree And Apple Cake With Brown Sugar Frosting

It is really hard for me to get into the mood to put up the Christmas tree with 75 degree weather outside. But it is now December 18th and I had to get it up or................ there would not have been a tree for this year. I dug out last years sale ornaments and went to work with a couple of friends. We spent the day constantly turning the air conditioning off and on as it would get too hot or too cold.

Every year after Christmas, for years, I have gone to the 50% off or 75% off after Christmas sales and purchased ornaments. Last year was no exception. When I arrived at the stores, they had ALL for some crazy reason purchased brown ornaments and NO ONE in Latin America buys brown ornaments. Latinos buy bright stuff! Red, orange, purple, green, yellow, but brown??? NO WAY! So here I am looking at stacks and stacks of brown ornaments AND CHEAP!

My mind got busy and I started thinking, what could I do with these ornaments? Brown? and Orange? and Copper? and Lime Green. I had it! The perfect weird combination and all of the ornaments were on sale. The hard part, I thought would be the ribbon. I love ribbon draped on trees! So I filled my cart full, spent my $35, had 3 hours of fun choosing all that I needed and then I went home. I dutifully packed my ornaments in a box and waited until "next year", which is "this year".

In the photos, the orange looks really orange, but in real life, with the lighting I have, it looks more copper color and is really pretty.

Since I had never used these ornaments before and had never seen the tree completed, I was not sure how it would look, but I started in on it. I didn't have orange or green lights, so I decided to do the tree without lights. This year I will try to buy the green lights on sale after Christmas!

To get into the mood, you must have the smell of fresh baked something wafting through the house, so this seemed like the perfect cake to bake. The fragrance of cloves, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg baking did the trick! My friend Erlinda even made some cinnamon tea.

Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting

This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Carrie Floyd, from the Culinate Kitchen collection Serves 1 Total Time 1½ hours
Chock-full of apples, this is a favorite fall cake. Though I’m sure it would be good without it, the frosting — reminiscent of maple-bar icing — is awesome.



2⅓ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp. almond flavoring
1 tsp. Maple Syrup
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
4 cups apples (about 3 large apples),peeled & chopped
¾ cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped


⅓ cup unsalted butter
~ Pinch of salt
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
4 Tbsp. milk
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla or maple syrup


1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan.
2.Make the cake: In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.

3.In a mixer bowl, or with an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix for another minute, until the eggs are blended into the butter and sugar.

4.Reduce the speed to low and add flour mixture, a third at a time, just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be very thick and stiff.

5.Fold in the apples and nuts and stir just enough to evenly distribute the apples and nuts through the batter.

6.Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with a spatula, pushing the batter into the corners of the pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. When the top of the cake is firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool on a wire rack.

7.Make the frosting: In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the salt and brown sugar and stir over medium heat until the sugar melts. Add the milk and bring the mixture to a boil.

8.Remove pan from heat and pour contents into a medium bowl. Cool for 10 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla or maple syrup and stir until well blended.

9.Spread frosting on cooled apple cake. Cut into squares to serve.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chocolate Almond Coffee Truffles

Today was one of those days when I actually felt like doing paperwork. I woke up early and I worked on my book for a while. Actually if the truth was known, I hardly slept praying for Kevin, a friend’s nephew who is fighting a battle with aggressive cancer. I have had Kevin on my heart a lot lately and am praying that the Lord will touch him and give him a full recovery.

I am writing a book on False Accusations, so when I got out of bed, I worked for a few hours checking final drafts before sending it to the publisher.

Then I started in on my accounting and trip expenses. I HATE PAPERWORK! It is so much more fun to have the medical teams and help people then it is to sit and do paperwork! I love people and love to help them, so sitting at a desk and doing paperwork is not my idea of fun.

Several weeks ago I had baked several cakes and thrown them in the freezer, just in case I needed one of them at the last minute. This is a habit which I have, since, the missionaries house always seems to have drop by surprise guests. Sometimes I think I have created a MONSTER! Everyone knows that they can drop by anytime day or night (if I am in town) for a slice of cake and some homemade lemonade.

In the midst of the paperwork I thought, I would like to make some truffles. So I took the cake out of the freezer and as I did my paperwork I thought about what flavor of truffles to make. Hondurans are freezing right now as it is winter. At night the temp can drop to 55 degrees so everyone is in the mood for coffee. That’s it; I will make Chocolate Almond Coffee Truffles.

Chocolate Almond Coffee Truffles


1 chocolate cake mix baked
2 teaspoons almond flavoring
¼ cup chocolate frosting
1/8 cup Coffee Liquor
Small cupcake papers

Truffle Coating

1 cup sliced almonds minced
3 tablespoons cocoa powder

1. Bake the cake as directed.
2. Freeze immediately in an airtight bag.
3. The next day take it out and let it stand inside the bag until it is soggy and room temp, it sweats as it thaws.
4. Place baked frozen and then thawed cake in mixing bowl.
5. Mix Truffle Coating Mixture and set aside in small rounded bowl.
6. Add all other ingredients to the cake, except for coffee liquor.
7. Mix and try to roll into a ball. It is trial and error. You need the mix to be moist enough to stick together, but dry enough to not be gooey. Add coffee liquor 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the correct consistency.
8. Roll into balls and
9. Roll balls in Coating Mix
10. Place in small paper candy cups (they look like cupcake papers, but they are smaller)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Macadamia Nut Cheesecake and .......

Several weeks or was it months ago, September 24th to be exact, I promised to post my Macadamia Cheesecake Recipe. Well here it is. Thanks to Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee a General Surgeon Volunteer from Hawaii, I had the incredible blessing of owning Macadamia Nuts for the first time in four or five years!

Photo is not mine it was borrowed from:

When Dr. Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee arrived for the Medical Missions trip in September she brought with her a HUGE bag of Macadamia nuts. I was so excited, I wanted to cancel the medical team and go home to bake, but alas it was not to be.

The team was full of adventure and was well worth the effort, but after I dropped her off at the airport, I went home to make Macadamia Cheesecake.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheese Cake

White chocolate adds to the creamy texture and rich flavor of this cheesecake. I have no idea where I found the recipe, it was cut out of a magazine years ago and I just cut around the recipe and didn't save the magazine name.

1 ½ cups of chocolate wafer crumbs (since I can’t get those in Honduras I use graham cracker crumbs)
1 ½ cups chopped Macadamia Nuts, divided use
¾ cup real butter, divided use
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 packages of cream cheese (8 ounces each)
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
¾ pound white chocolate melted
1 tablespoon liqueur (I use Grand Marnier)
2 teaspoons almond extract (the recipe calls for vanilla, but I like almond better)
2 tablespoons semi sweet chocolate chips melted (I skip this as I like the white chocolate flavor alone)

Combine chocolate wafer crumbs, ½ cup of Macadamia Nuts, ¼ cup of melted butter, and cinnamon and mix well. Press into the bottom of a 9” springform pan. Bake 10 minutes and then cool.

Beat softened cream cheese until it is fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix after each addition. Stir in ½ cup of softened but not melted butter. Add melted white chocolate, liqueur and almond flavoring. Mix well. Fold in remaining Macadamia Nuts. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 1 ½ hours at 300 degrees or until the center is set. Turn the oven off, open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool while in the oven. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. This is the hardest part! Serve with melted chocolate poured over the top.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Macadamia and Apricot Crumble Cake & Is Someone In Your Life Hurting You? Retaliate!

Macadamia & Apricot Crumble Cake

Serves 10-12

1 cup raw macadamia nuts, chopped
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
100g unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
8-10 fresh or canned apricot halves

Crumble topping:
1/2 cup raw macadamias
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon plain flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, cut in small pieces

Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease a 23cm round springform cake tin or line with baking paper. Place the chopped macadamia nuts, flour, baking powder and ginger in a food processor and blend until macadamias are ground. In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg gradually, beating well with each addition. Lightly fold through half the macadamia flour mixture followed by the buttermilk. Fold through the remaining flour, then spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Place apricots, skin side down, on the cake gently pressing into mixture. Using fingertips, combine the crumble ingredients and scatter over the apricots. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before lifting out onto a wire rack.

Adapted from Source: Australian Macadamia Society

Is Someone In Your Life Hurting You?

The other day I was sharing with a woman who is in the middle of a terrible divorce. Her husband of many years is not happy to just divorce her, but he is trying to ruin her image with her friends, by lying to them and thereby causing them to isolate her. He is trying to ruin her image with their children, by lying to them and saying that she is not a good mother. He has filed for divorce, but that is not enough he is in the process is trying to cut her into a million pieces verbally. Although she won't admit to it, I think he may even be physically abusive with her.

The verbal abusiveness he dishes out is more than enough to make a grown man cry so you can imagine how a gentle, courteous, kind and loving woman feels. When she spoke with me, she was hurting very badly, because he had just told her, "She is too religious for her own good, she is too fat (at 135 pounds), she is ugly (she is a beautiful woman), she is crazy (he says he told her things that he never told her and then because she doesn't remember he says she is crazy), she is a terrible decorator (like he could have done better and if she had the money he spent on other women to decorate with, she could have done better still), she is a poor dresser (but he hardly gives her money with which to buy clothes yet she always looks nice and clean), that she is having an affair (he has had affair, after affair, and everyone except she and the children know it), she needs to get a "real job" (she is a volunteer and does wonderful work) and last but not least he says that she is worthless.

Needless to say when she dropped by to talk with me, she was feeling "lower than the belly of a snake." In counseling with her, I shared with her that many people have been falsely accused and hurt and that false accusations date bake to early Old Testament Bible times. Early on in the Bible, we see in Genesis 3:4 that the devil falsely accused God by saying that God didn't want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because He (God) knew that they would become like God and He (God) didn't want that to happen.

We see in Genesis 39:1 Potiphar's wife's false accusation against Joseph which landed him in jail. King David was falsely accused in 2 Samuel 10:1-5. In Jeremiah 20:10 the prophet Jeremiah says, "For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side." In 1 Kings 21:1-16 Jezebel made false accusations against Naboth. In Numbers 16:1-3 many people made false accusations against Moses. In Acts 6:1-15 we see that Stephen was falsely accused and we all of course know that Jesus was falsely accused.

To put it in simple terms, when someone is falsely accusing you, they are the one that is wrong! Not you!

What is happing to you has happened to others before you!

My advice to my friend was this!

"Do something which makes you feel good! Help other people. Don't get angry or depressed, get even! Do something GREAT for someone else!"

This is exactly the opposite of what the abuser expects and this is just the opposite of what they want! The abuser wants you to crawl into a hole and feel bad about yourself. Don't do it!

Sweet Revenge!

Giving Always Makes You Feel Better!

Since my early childhood, I saw my parents and grandparents give of their time, food crops, clothing, wisdom and resources. Their giving left an indelible impression on me. I learned to give at a very early age. I raised money for the church youth group selling eggs. We would all gather at the church on Friday night and SELL EGGS. We would "borrow" an egg from one neighbor and sell it to the next neighbor and all of the proceeds would go to the church youth group fund.

When I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, I was on the streets raising money for the new Giraffe enclosure at the Little Rock Zoo. I sold cookies for Girl Scouts. I gave to missionaries at the church and finally when I was old enough, I became a volunteer at the Hospital. I continued and volunteered as a youth member of Lay Witness Missions and eventually went on to be a short term missionary and now am a full time missionary.

Giving came naturally to me. My parents did not have to tell me to give, I learned from watching them and from watching my grandparents. My mom has given away clothing and household items, which she buys at garage sales, since I was little. My grandmothers both feed all of the neighbors and poor anywhere close to them. As a teen, my parents had a young Indian College Exchange Student living in our home.

All this goes to prove the point that you teach your children to give not by "telling" but by "living" the message. I learned well. My daughter Sarah volunteers at the food pantry. My daughter Jessica and her husband volunteer in the children's church ministry at their church and as Bible Study leaders.

The woman I am counseling also comes from a very giving and caring family! While this woman is in the midst of this abusive situation, she has a choice to make! She can do what the abuser wants her to do OR she can do exactly the opposite. She can help others and continue to feel good about herself OR she can have a pity party. Helping others is sweet revenge!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Icebox Cookies and Towing the Mazda!

I slept much of the afternoon with cold feet, a neck ache and a headache. But I am better now and ready to go to work and bake some more cookies.

I think the long Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with the eye team in southern Honduras got to me, or maybe it was the change in climate from 80 degrees and humid to 60 degrees, wind and no heater. Most houses in Honduras do not have heaters and we have had really cold weather yesterday and today. When I get really cold I turn the oven on and blow warm air through the house with a fan. I am smiling for those of you in Kansas who are enjoying really cold weather. I also lifted several heavy packets of eye glasses.

But just may be that the neckache and headache are caused from the fact that I pulled the Mazda with the Ford, on a chain for 2 hours up and down hills and through creeks on a dirt road, because it wouldn't start and the jerking may have knocked my neck out of whack!

I drove, pulling the Mazda and praying, every time Jose put his foot on the brake and it jerked me, I was really upset. I would stop and tell him to NOT brake when I was pulling him and he would tell me that I was "driving like a maniac." I was not driving like a maniac. I was only going 15 to 20 miles per hour top speed and usually less than that.

I was upset, because the truck wouldn't start. I was upset because he doesn't know how to "be towed" and I was upset because I have taken good care of that truck and I was complaining, "Why, God is this truck not starting?"

He and his friend had tried to start the car when we arrived in San Francisco de Coray where we had left the Mazda at 11:00 pm one night several weeks ago when it had "died" after Jose tried to drive it through a creek so high that water came into the floorboard. He backed out of the creek, walked through the creek, went to his meeting, but then when he finished his meeting, the car wouldn't start and he couldn't understand why. His boots still STINK!

So I drove that night in the middle of the night to collect Jose and his car from La Vega, Coray. That night I towed it for almost an hour and then dropped it off at the police station to wait until daylight when I had time and wasn't so tired. I guess I need to place pontoons on it! Anyway, Jose and his friend tried it and told me that it had water in the oil, which I didn't believe, so I pulled out the oil stick and looked and it looked "oily" to me but not "watery". So then they fiddled with the battery, the car turned over, but wouldn't crank up.

Anyway, I towed it, and prayed and towed it and complained and Jose "guided" it behind me. I stopped and asked Jose to try to start it again after I had towed it a while, but it was DEAD according to Jose. By the time we arrived to pavement, I was not in the mood to tow it another 4 hours to Tegucigalpa. I took it to a Honduran car repair shop. I got out of the Ford and he lifted the hood, adjusted the battery cable NOTHING ELSE and said, "give it a try". Jose got into the car and it started right up! The guy looked at me and said, "That will be 2,000 lempira." (translation $105.50) I laughed, he laughed and I didn't pay him anything. Several months ago, his nephew needed hernia surgery and my teams had taken care of him.

Seems that the battery had run down, just enough to not be able to start the car. Then when Jose and his friend had fiddled with the battery, they loosened the cable enough that it came off on the dirt road, so when he tried to start it 20 minutes into the "tow job", it was "completely dead, (no battery cable connected) but the cable didn't come off until after the battery had been charged up enough to start the truck, once the cable was reattached. I wonder if I should switch him to a mule and a cart or if I should just get him some pontoons to attach to the Mazda?

Oh, I almost forgot the best part of it all! The Mazda doesn't have air conditioning and if it had it wouldn't have worked because the car wouldn't start. It has not rained in southern Honduras in several weeks, so the road was really dusty and I do mean really dusty. When Jose got out of the truck, he looked like he had been in a dust storm. His hair was dusty, his shirt was covered with dust and his face looked like he was painted up to play a gingerbread man in a play.

Speaking of gingerbread, I am going to turn on the oven to warm the house up and bake some cookies! I will make the dough for these tonight and then I will bake something else!



Martha Stewart's Icebox cookies are really just extra-pretty sugar cookies. Before baking, the dough is flattened, rolled into logs, chilled, and sliced-steps kids can have fun doing themselves with your supervision.


• 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
• 1 3/4 cups sugar
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, plus an extra egg white for "glue"
• 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 5 cups flour, plus more for work surface
• 2/3 cup milk
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
Food coloring, in various colors


1. Using the electric mixer, mix the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add the eggs and the salt, and mix well. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add flour a little at a time, mixing it in until all of it has been incorporated.
2. Divide the dough into balls, one for each color. For chocolate dough, add cocoa (1/4 cup is enough to flavor half a batch). Mix well with electric mixer. For colored dough, start with 1/4 teaspoon food coloring, and mix well. Add more in tiny amounts for darker colors. Gel-paste coloring can be intense, so add it gradually.
3. Wrap each ball of dough in its own sheet of plastic wrap; pat flat into a rectangle. Refrigerate at least one hour or until ready to use.
4. Parchment or waxed paper makes a good work surface. Sprinkle generously with flour, then roll out each piece of dough 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick to make the swirls; you can use thicker layers for the bull's-eyes.
5. The bench scraper is a good tool for trimming dough's edges to make them even. The egg white, brushed on with a pastry brush, will act as a glue, making the layers stick together.
6. For center, with your hands, roll chocolate dough into a 1/2- to 1 1/2- inch-thick rod; chill 20 minutes. Place rod on edge of rolled-out dough that's been brushed with egg white.
7. Roll rod inside sheet of dough. Cut the dough where it meets up. Seal by pinching and pressing gently. Chill 20 minutes, then repeat to add other layers. To decorate, go to step 7, or jump to step 8 for plain.
8. For spirals, measure and trim two or more colors of dough to same size. Brush on egg white, then stack layers. Brush top with egg white. Starting at one end, roll up the dough.
9. Smooth and straighten the layers as you roll them so there are no gaps, then gently pinch and press the edge of the roll to seal it. Now the dough is ready to decorate. If you want plain cookies, skip to step 18.
10. Add your favorite toppings (try coconut, colored sanding sugar, chopped nuts, or chocolate sprinkles): Spread topping in baking sheet, brush dough with egg white, and roll the log in topping.
11. Roll each log in parchment or waxed paper; twist the ends of the paper closed. To help the logs keep their round shape, set each in a cardboard paper-towel roll that you have sliced open lengthwise.
12. To remember what colors you have already used, with crayons, draw the designs onto key tags; tie the tags onto the paper covering the logs. Chill logs until they are solid, about 1 1/2 hours.
13. Cut 15 inches of dental floss (or double thickness of thread). Let log soften for about 10 minutes. Remove parchment. Wrap floss around log and pull through. Make the slices thin: 1/4 inch or less.
14. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place slices on an ungreased baking sheet (lined with parchment paper). A grown-up should bake the cookies 12 to 15 minutes, until firm but not browned. Let cool on baking sheet for several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Chocolate Crackle Cookies and Opps I am out of Hershey's Chocolate Powder

I was just getting ready to make these cookies and when I got all of the ingredients out, found that I do not have enough Hershey's Chocolate Powder.

Now the question is, "Do they sell it in Honduras?"
The next question is, "How much is it?"

After sending off an email to dad, asking him to buy me some chocolate powder and put it in my pile of things to bring to Honduras, I am going to the store to see If I can find some. I hope it is at the first store and I hope it is not tooooooo expensive!

I have a really busy day today and really don't have time to run all over Tegucigalpa looking for Chocolate Powder!

PS Just returned and the Hersheys Cocoa was 245 lempira that is just about $12.50. These better be great!

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
by Abigail Johnson Dodge


11-1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 oz. (2/3 cup) natural, unsweetened cocoa, sifted if lumpy
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled until barely warm
3/4 cup (4 oz.) chopped chocolate (white, bittersweet, or semisweet)
1/3 cup granulated sugar; more as needed


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF.
Line three large cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter, brown sugar, cocoa, orange zest, and vanilla on medium speed until well combined, about 4 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly between additions.
Add the cooled chocolate and mix until blended, about 1 minute.
Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until almost completely blended, about 1 minute. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until blended, about 15 seconds.
Shape the dough into 1-1/4-inch balls with a small ice-cream scoop or two tablespoons.
Pour the granulated sugar into a shallow dish.
Dip the top of each ball in the sugar and set the balls sugar side up about 1-1/2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are puffed and cracked on top, 11 to 12 minutes.
Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Peppermint Bark

A Martha Stewart Recipe


Makes 2 1/4 pounds or one 11-by-17-inch sheet

2 pounds white chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
12 large candy canes
1/2 teaspoon peppermint oil


Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet with parchment, and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, melt white chocolate, stirring constantly.

With a chef’s knife or meat tenderizer, cut or pound candy canes into 1/4-inch pieces.

Stir pieces of candy canes and peppermint oil into the melted chocolate. Remove from heat, and pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet; spread evenly.

Chill until firm, 25 to 30 minutes. Break into pieces, and serve.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chocolate Bark With Walnuts and Dried Cherries

Lindt Chocolate Bark with Walnuts and Dried Cherries

I didn't have dried cherries, they are hard to come by in Honduras so I used dried cranberries. The recipe turned out great! The Lindt Chocolate Bars are like gold here, hard to find and very pricey, so I used regular chocolate instead.

This is just one of the many fruit and nut combinations that make bark one of the most popular chocolate treats ever created.

Recipe by Master Chocolatier Ann Czaja


4 bars (3.5oz/100grams each) Lindt Swiss Classic Milk or Lindt Bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (40 grams) walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup (60g) dried cherries


- Temper the milk chocolate.
- Add the chopped walnuts and dried cherries to the tempered chocolate and stir to combine.
- Spread the mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes, remove, and let set in a cool place.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool place.

Yield: Approximately 1 lb of bark

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eye Team Food Prep

With so much sugar stuff being baked and made the last few days, I really needed something cheesy and healthy. So I started of this morning making my shopping list for the medical team for tomorrow, Thursday and Friday. I have 4 people on the eye team Wednesday and 5 people for Thursday and Friday and I have to make food for all of them today, to take with us to the south. It is too much work to cook over a wood fire and it is too hot to do it there. The restaurants are all grease and too expensive, so my menu is planned at home and most of it is cooked and prepared here for each eye team and then taken with us. This saves lots of money and is also more healthy.

Cheese and Spinach Squares

3 eggs
6 tbsp. flour
1 pkg. spinach
2 cups cottage cheese

2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. curry powder


Beat in large bowl, 3 eggs and 6 tbsp. flour.Add torn up spinach, cottage cheese, grated cheese and salt. Mix well. Spread in greased 8 x 10 pan.Bake at 350 degrees for 45 min.Let stand 5 minutes, cut into squares.

Potato, Cheese, and Onion Pie
Woman's Day


3 cups onions 2 tbsp. butter 1 can (10 1/2 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water salt and pepper to taste
pinch of sage
6 medium potatoes, cooked and sliced
1/4 pound cheddar cheese sliced (I use shredded cheese)


Brown lightly onions in butter; and cook slowly until tender. Add soup and water; season with salt, pepper and sage. Arrange potatoes and half of cheese in 2-quart casserole. Pour onion mixture over ingredients in casserole and top with remaining cheese. Bake in preheated hot oven (400 degree) for 15 minutes (I leave it in for 30 minutes to get it heated through) or mixture is heated and cheese is lightly browned. Top with pastry wedges. Roll pastry 1/2 inch thick to form a round that fits top of casserole. Cut into 4 wedges and brush with beaten egg yolk or cream. Bake on cookie sheet in oven with potatoes for 15 minutes. (I prefer it without the pie pastry).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Since Christmas is fast approaching, I am busy working in the kitchen, making all the cookies and sweet treats that everyone loves and few take the time to make.

Jose "Cobra" and his university friends along with my friends, the dentists, Mercedes and Lizzeth are my daily taste testers.

Each time I make something, I have to make enough extra for about 10 people to try it out and see if it is good and then the rest is saved until the Christmas Party. Oh how I miss my huge kitchen in Kansas.

This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints

Prep: 30 min.
Chill: 2 hours
Bake: 10 minutes per batch

• 1 egg
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 16 vanilla caramels, unwrapped
• 3 tablespoons whipping cream
• 1-1/4 cups finely chopped pecans
• 1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate pieces
• 1 teaspoon shortening


1. Separate egg; place yolk and white in separate bowls. Cover and chill egg white until needed. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer for 30 seconds. Add sugar and beat well. Beat in egg yolk, milk, and vanilla.
2. In another bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and beat until well combined. Wrap the cookie dough in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a small saucepan heat and stir caramels and whipping cream over low heat until mixture is smooth. Set aside.
4. Slightly beat reserved egg white. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in egg white, then in pecans to coat. Place balls 1 inch apart on prepared cookie sheet. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.
5. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are firm. If cookie centers puff during baking, repress with your thumb. Spoon melted caramel mixture into indentations of cookies. Transfer cookies to wire racks; cool. (If necessary, reheat caramel mixture to keep it spoonable.)
6. In another saucepan heat and stir chocolate pieces and shortening over low heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly. Drizzle chocolate mixture over tops of cookies.* Let stand until chocolate is set.
7. Makes about 36 cookies
8. *Tip: If desired, transfer the warm chocolate mixture to a resealable plastic bag. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag. Drizzle cookies with chocolate mixture.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas in Honduras and Truffles!


There have been Christmas lights and Christmas decorations up all over Tegucigalpa since October, but I have been so busy I have not even had time to think about Christmas. I have been working on several teachings and besides all of that, I have had to keep all of the medical teams on track.

Yesterday during the 2 hour flight delay I went to the Cascades Mall with the SMART Medical Team members. I have not been inside the mall since March or April, so when I saw all the Christmas displays, I waxed nostalgic. I need to call my friends and get my Christmas trees up and in place before it is too late.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, I started making my annual mix of Christmas candies and cookies. All year long, team members bring me Chocolate Chips, Butterscotch Chips, Bakers Joy, Flavorings and stuff to bake with. When December comes around, I start baking. Usually about a week before Christmas I have a Christmas party and invite many of my friends. I place 4 ten foot long tables outside on the front porch (usually it is about 70 degrees) and place about 50 chairs around them and around a hundred people come and go for about six hours.

I serve lots of homemade candy, homemade cookies, homemade cakes and one main entree dish like meatballs and one vegetable. I cover the entire dining room table with sweets!

I have always loved Christmas trees and I have 3 Christmas trees that I decorate every year here in Honduras. A couple of artsy girlfriends come over and we decorate for about 8 hours straight, munching on goodies as we decorate. I always decorate the tables and the house as well as the front door.

I wish I had my postcard collection from when I was in high school here in Honduras with me. In the early 70s my mom and I would go to the flea market every weekend. In fact at one point in time we had a flea market booth. I collected several different things, Van Briggle pottery, Spoke Pattern Depression glass, Snow Babies, small things for a printer's tray and Antique Postcards.

I have all different kinds of Holiday Postcards. In fact, I only collected Holiday and Birthday Postcards. When I was packing to move, I came across many of them and have them packed away to ship to Honduras when I move my furniture. If I had them here now, I think I would decorate with some of them.

I am thinking of all the fun my mom and I have had when we went "Junking" at the flea markets in Arkansas and in Texas. One of my favorites is the Canton Flea Market. There is nothing like the Canton Flea Market! You can buy anything there!

There are NO flea markets in Honduras, maybe that is an idea someone can grab and run with!

Back to last weeks activities... I made Chocolate Orange Truffles, Black Forest Truffles and Gran Marnier Truffles. I had some left over yellow and chocolate cake, so I crumbled it, frosting and all and added the three different liquors to the three batches.

Black Forest Truffles: Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, with Cherry Kirsch and cherries which have been soaking in Cherry Kirsch getting "drunk" for several months in the refrigerator. The cake crumb balls are then frozen and when they are hard, dipped in melted Milk Chocolate.

Orange Truffles: Yellow cake with white frosting and orange food coloring with orange flavoring and Triple Sec Orange Liquor. The cake crumb balls are then frozen and when they are hard they are dipped in melted milk chocolate. When the chocolate covering is hard, they are then topped with white chocolate colored with orange food coloring and orange candy flavoring. You cannot put regular flavoring in chocolate or it ruins the consistency and the chocolate will not set up and harden.

Gran Marnier Truffles: Yellow cake with white frosting mixed with Gran Marnier Liquor and almond flavoring. Instructions same as above.

I use a "melon baller" where I would have perfectly sized truffle balls and then I freeze them. After freezing them, I dip them in melted chocolate. The trick is to get the chocolate thick enough to cover all of the center filling completely otherwise the filling ooooooooooozes out as the chocolate sets up. I make sure the kitchen is about 70 degrees where the chocolate will set up in a hurry. Last week I had to run the air conditioner to keep it that cool. I had to throw that note in for you Northerners who are shoveling snow!

Whew! I am tired! Medical Teams, Medical Teams and More Medical Teams!

Eye Teams Next Week!

This whole year has been a whirlwind! It has been medical team after medical team after medical team, but the year is winding down and just 5 more days of medical teams to go this month. Monday morning and Tuesday morning, we will have several cataract patients come to Tegucigalpa from the Department of Valle, Honduras. If all goes as planned we will perform 9 surgeries on Tuesday and 9 more on Wednesday. The Tuesday patients will return home on Wednesday and the Wednesday patients will return home on Thursday. On Wednesday, I will head to southern Honduras again with the eye team and we will have 3 days of eye exams in three medium sized villages. Friday afternoon late we will return, hopefully having identified 30 or more cataract patients which will receive surgery in January. My goal is to completely eradicate cataracts in Valle, Honduras before 2012.

Ear, Nose and Throat Team Last Week

Last Thursday a SMART Medical team arrived in Tegucigalpa from Seattle, Washington and Eugene, Oregon. We had a wonderful time in Choluteca Hospital. It is always great when a team flows and when the people are homogeneous. This team was just that! Everything flowed perfectly until we arrived at the airport 2 hours early and found that the return flight would be two hours late. Seems that bad weather in Newark delayed the flight to Houston which delayed the flight to Tegucigalpa which in turn bumped my people from their original flights to later flights. I hate the NEW KIOSK check-in things at Continental. I miss the contact with the kind Continental Airlines people.

After the team arrived on Thursday, we drove to Choluteca where we had an entire GANG of ear reconstruction patients waiting for us. In all we completed 10 ear reconstruction surgeries. These surgeries are usually three phase surgeries, most of the patients were ready for phase two. They (the patients and mothers) have all become friends and in typical Latin style, they all sit around and have a reunion while waiting for surgery. The previous patients tell the phase one patients what to expect and are generally very friendly with each other. This time was no exception.

Above one of our returning patients.

To the left, one of our return patients having her 2nd phase surgery along with the team. Genevieve Burgoyne, Dr. John Burgoyne, our beautiful curly headed patient and to the right Ken Riebeling, CRNA.


Dr. John Burgoyne also performed surgery on one patient with a deviated septum and another with a goiter. Ken Riebeling, CRNA did all the anesthesia for each case. In all 12 patients were helped and we all left feeling happy about what was accomplished. American missionary to Honduras, Mike Rudd, donated several Bibles which were passed out to each of our patients. I left the 2 extra Bibles sitting in a box outside the operating room in the Pre-Op area and would you believe someone stole the two Bibles. It never ceases to amaze me the things which happen in Honduras.

Horn Heaven!

The horn on the FORD truck died and went to "horn heaven" during the week. Ford horns are made to be used a few times a week in the USA and I use the horn a hundred times a day in Honduras. It is impossible and I do mean IMPOSSIBLE to drive in Honduras without a horn. The truck horn had a long and productive life, may it rest in peace! While the medical team was busy at the hospital doing surgeries, Jose "Cobra" went and replaced the horn.

The absolute necessity for a horn is just another example of the difference in living in Kansas and living in Honduras. I doubt I blew my horn more than 5 times a month in Kansas and I use it 50 times a day here.