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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Homemade Ravioli for BWAY-meal

The BWAY-girls made cheese raviolis for our weekly BWAY-meal. I have never made any sort of pasta from scratch so this was a totally new experience for me.

Making raviolis was really neat. We made real stiff dough with eggs, flour, water and salt. After a spin in the mixer we kneaded it, then ran it through a pasta press. When I say it was a stiff dough, I really mean it. It was like kneading really old play dough.

A pasta press attaches to the Kitchenaid stand mixer and has two rollers that turn, sort of like the wringers on an old-fashioned washing machine. The width between the two rollers adjusts.

We began by putting a small, flat-ish ball through the rollers set at the widest setting. Every time we put the dough through the press we adjusted the press one notch thinner until it was the proper thickness (thinness?). It was really cool! You can find this recipe along with many more of my favorites at The Recipe Box.

In addition to the BWAY-violis we had homemade meatballs, sauce, garlic bread and a beautiful antipasto platter. Yumm!

All this fabulous food combined with our favorite BWAY-group made it taste even better. What a great day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

TRH: Triage, Rite and Hand, Aboard USS Mahan

USS Mahan has developed a brilliant and compassionate program that addresses critical medical care need while respecting the religious practices of many faith groups. It is called TRH. Triage handles the medical portion of care. Rite, stands for “religious rite” and ministers to the individuals particular faith. Hand is humanitarian type care.

There is a great (and short) informative video HERE. If the link does not work you can go to and type "USS Mahan Triage Training" in the search bar which is found in the upper right corner.

Isn't this unique photo of the USS Mahan beautiful? You can find it at

Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class J. Scott Campbell. (RELEASED)

The beauty of TRH is that it can be used not only during the counter piracy operations, but also during humanitarian and disaster situations.

The TRH team consists of 14 volunteers who are trained to provide emergency medical and spiritual care. If an injured person is brought aboard Mahan they are assessed and treated appropriately. During the course of medical treatment the team allows a time and place for prayer.

The program encompasses all faith groups, but since the ship is currently deployed to the 5th Fleet Area of Operations, Macklin conducted extensive research to increase his understanding of Islamic rites and observances.

Check out what Macklin says about TRH:

"Especially in this AOR (area of responsibility), their faith is their life, and their faith is their family. It is what we call an enmeshed family," said Macklin, originally from Holyoke, Colo.

"In these circumstances, it is very important to know the person coming aboard a ship, before administering assistance. This way, the whole person is being facilitated and true healing can occur. The object must be to look past just physically keeping them alive and instead respecting the complete individual, providing those things that are dear to their life and heart – not just the outer shell.

"In this way we meet them physically, spiritually, mentally and socially," he said.

Wow! What a beautiful way to describe the essence of this program. Plus, I love it when medical people realize that a person is mind body and spirit and strive to treat the whole individual rather than behaving as though they are just a slab of meat to be fixed.

You may find more information at:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Stunning Maple Tree Buds On Our Favorite Climbing Tree

During our BWAY Day “Z” was so enamored with the beauty of this "flower" that he just had to bring it in to share with us.

We had no idea what sort of plant it came from so I pulled on my rain boots and headed outdoors to inspect the poor plant he had plucked it from.

I was amazed to discover that it came from their favorite climbing tree. It turns out that it is a maple tree bud.

I have been looking around the internet and am not able to get a definitive answer as to which type of maple we have in our yard. We just moved here in the fall and we were so busy unpacking and settling in that we did not pay much attention to which types of trees and plants we have around. It seems that it will be easier to identify by the leaves and fruit (you know, those "helicopter thingys"). This is going to be an exciting year!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Brownies, Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards and... An Accidental Baking Soda Experiment!

It’s Saturday night. We had big plans to watch Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards. We thought brownies would be a nice addition to the evening.

I have always thrown together the ingredients from the brownie recipe on the back of either the Hershey or Nestle cocoa box. For some reason today I decided to actually read the directions rather than just mixing and baking the listed ingredients like I usually do. I have to wonder how I have managed to successfully prepare these brownies since my early 20’s (I’m nearly 40!) and never notice that the Hershey version calls for BOILING water.

So, anyhow, the directions said to mix the cocoa and baking soda, add boiling water and stir until it thickened.

Wait! What? Stir until thickened?

OK, so I followed the directions wondering what exactly was going to happen.
I stirred and it became smooth and sort of thin and creamy. I faithfully kept stirring; wondering if something different should happen when suddenly…it happened! Tiny air bubbles appeared in the batter, the volume of the batter grew almost instantly and it was definitely thicker. I was amazed. (Well, amazed is a strong word, but I definitely did not expect it to thicken so much, nor so quickly.)

After the “thickening” happened I stirred the proper amounts of flour and salt into the mixture, poured the batter in a lightly greased pan and baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

The brownies turned out perfectly but I could not stop thinking and wondering what caused the combination of cocoa, baking soda and boiling water to have that sort of reaction. I have been baking and cooking my entire life and never experienced this sort of reaction with this particular combination of ingredients. Being the geeky mom that I am I just had to google it.

I already knew that baking soda is a leavening agent, which means when it is added to baked goods before cooking it will produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise' during the baking process. says:
“Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat! “

I did not fully understand how this caused my batter to “rise” or “thicken” suddenly in my bowl the way it did without the “baking” factor so I headed back to google where I learned that cocoa powder is acidic.

Aha! Now I understand.

Baking soda combined with moisture (water) and an acidic ingredient (cocoa powder) and oven temperature (which was not actually an oven but the heat in the “boiling” water) causes a chemical reaction which suddenly thickened the batter right in the bowl.

Very Neat!

We had a lot of fun eating brownies and watching Duane Johnson dress up like Miley Cyrus and the green slime flying all over.

If you would like to prepare this recipe with your children so they can be amazed at this "rising" or "thickening" process I have posted it with the title Hershey 5-Minute Brownie on my favorite recipe blog, “The Recipe Box”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

More Photos of USS Mahan going through the Suez Canal

Beautiful isn't it!

Photos of USS Mahan in Split, Croatia

The USS Mahan arrived in Split’s Lora naval harbor on Thursday afternoon from Somalia and will be anchored there until March 24th.

Activities during the visit:
* 03/19 – official visit to the Croatian Navy Fleet
* 03/19 – mutual tour of ships of the Croatian and US navies
* 03/20 – lecture for members of the Croatian Navy “Combat operations against pirates on the sea”
* 03/20 – a small football match between members of the Croatian Navy and USS Mahan crew
* 03/21 – a visit and assistance provided to the Maestral Children’s Home by crew members of the USS Mahan

These photos and a short article on this visit can be found at

Neat Photo of USS Mahan Transiting the Suez Canal Near Ismailia, Egypt March 16, 2009

Photo Caption: Egyptian school children stand on a pier in the port town of Ismailia, 120km northeast of Cairo, as US guided-missile destroyer USS Mahan transits the Suez from the Red Sea towards the Mediterranean on its way back home after a six-month counter-piracy operation around the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Gulf, Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. On February 12, the Mahan helped capture nine Somali pirates after responding to a distress call from a merchant ship. The warship is coming from the Indian Ocean where it spent seven months as part of the anti-piracy mission Combined Task Force 151.

I copied this photo and captions from an email I received from Ronald this morning.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Mackinac Bridge

The simple things in life are often the most fun. We took a drive to the U.P. just to experience crossing the bridge and to look around up there a bit.

Want to take this trip with your family? You can see exactly where we are on the map...and out the front window.

After we crossed the bridge and drove around the U.P. a bit we stopped at a pasty shop for lunch. We all ate them the traditional way, with ketchup.

The boyz took plenty of pictures.

The ice was beautiful. It appears that an ice breaker came through and created a path.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ronald and His Division Aboard the USS Mahan (DDG-72)

He's the happy one in the back.
He is also the tallest sailor in his division so he is usually pretty easy to spot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Box of Family Photos

My dad recently gave me a big box of old family photos with instructions to take all the pictures I want then pass it on the my next sibling within two weeks. The goal is to allow all six of us kids to pick out the photos we want. I am having a difficult time picking which photos I to keep. I don't want to be selfish and keep too many, but I also don't want to pass them on and have them end up being thrown out. My solution to this is to scan every one that I like and create a digital scrapbook. Right now I am calling it "Serendipity: A Pictorial Definition" because nearly everything that has happened in my life has been a series of happy accidents and the things that didn't seem too happy at the time have turned out to be necessary in forming me into the person I am today, and I like who I am.
This is my favorite photograph. My dad took it of my when I was young.