Sunday, August 26, 2012

Old Steaks & Chops - Must Stop on Old Hwy 60

 The Taste Buds Say....

Well, the eyes say, "OH MY HEAVENS!  This is HUGE!"  When our server brought out the Flat Tire Sundae, I thought, "Yup, that is going to take a while to down... but every bite is going to be worth it."  I was not disappointed.  I loved every bite.... and by every bite, I mean there were several... this thing is huge.  Definitely something to share.  

So what do the taste buds say?  Yummy all the way to the end!  The brownie was warm and gooey and fudgey.  It was very rich and it tasted like there were bits of chocolate in the brownie, which made it even more yummy.  The yummy brownie was topped with lots of light whipped cream, some chocolate syrup and some ice cream that had melted just enough from the warm brownie.... a perfect blend of goodness!  

This is seriously worth a drive out to Sheldon, IA for a taste of goodness.  

I give it 5 scoops of ice cream AND I add it to my list of top 5 brownies!  Now the hard choice of who is going to get moved down... or do I have a tie?  

The Story Behind the Brownie a la mode....

Iowa has a special place in my heart.  

This particular dinner experience is only a part of my visit.  Let me start with dinner and then I will share my love for Iowa, the people of Iowa and how it has made me who I am today.  

Dinner.  This time I was out in Iowa for work.  The night of this goodness brownie I was at dinner with Sara and Christi.  Christi had helped me out tremendously in preparations for my trip and had put in several hours to make it a success for me and the participants in the class.  Sara is just a joy to work with and has helped me out so much on several other projects.  I feel very blessed to work so closely with this part of our business and to get to work with such good people.  I love my job and the people I work with.  That was a delightful dinner... thank you ladies for joining me and sharing this brownie with me!  

Love for Iowa.  I don't share too much about myself in this blog in regard to things in my past.  I try to keep to just the stories, but Iowa is a big part of me, so I will get personal.... sorry, it's my blog.  :)  In May of 1999 I was called to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and to serve in the Iowa, Des Monies Mission, which covered all of Iowa.  I served in Iowa from September 1999 - February 2001.  Those 18 months were the best years for my life.  For 18 months, all I had to worry about was teaching people about Jesus Christ, His Plan for each of us, His love for each of us as His children, and serve them.  What a blessing and honor I had to serve my Savior Jesus Christ.  I got to see so much joy come into people's lives as they shared their testimonies of Christ.... both those that are members of the LDS church and those that are not.  It was so wonderful to have discussions with all faiths regarding their love of the Savior and how He has blessed their lives.  

I served in Ames for 7.5 months, went to Cedar Rapids for 9 months and then completed my mission in Waterloo/Cedar Falls area.  

This trip I was able to visit Ames and as I drove through the town, there was a special feeling.  So many memories rushed back to my remembrance.  I was humbled to have served there and grateful to feel that Spirit again.  

Love for the people.  As I travel through Iowa for work, that same feeling follows me.  I love the people in Iowa.  They are good-hard working people.  

I can not write about all the people I love in Iowa... it would be an extremely long blog entry, but I will say this, the people I met in Iowa have made a lasting impression on my life and have helped me be the person I am today.  I can not name them all, because I would be here forever... but because of the example they set of love, service, and happiness, I have tried to emulate those same things in my life.  Because of them, hopefully other people all the way in Texas and where ever I contact people are benefiting from their example.  

I remember how Susan and Janell would always be available for us if we needed anything. I remember when Susan wasn't feeling well, she still took me to the hospital when I was sick.  I remember Janell driving us back and forth from Nevada and Ames when we didn't have a car and it was out of her way.  I remember Allison and Jessica and Liz decorating my door for my birthday to make me feel special.  I remember the countless appointments the sisters in the area would come on with us, even though they had busy lives.  I remember Shannon always being excited to see us and have us in their home.  I remember Mona bringing us food and saying, "It's the end of the month and you are probably almost of of money."  I remember the Johnson family always looking for opportunities to share the gospel with their friends and every time we would go over they would all stop what they were doing and talk to the missionaries.  Cary would always invite us to dinner and support us in the sisters we were visiting.  I could go on and on and on.... I am so grateful for the examples of love I was shown while in Iowa.  

I haven't even started on my companions.  These amazing sisters I had the opportunity to serve with are some of my dearest friends.  I truly love them.  They are special daughters of God and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to boldly stand and testify of Jesus Christ and serve side by side with them.  With these sisters I cried, I laughed, I saw miracles, I fell asleep during morning scriptures study and made up words to try and cover up that I wasn't asleep, I served, I walked through snow up to my knees, I made snow angles, had snow ball fights, invited people to come unto Christ, sang hymns, read Christmas cards to a blind man, painted houses, knocked on doors, prayed for others, prayed for them, read the scriptures, witnessed answers to prayers, testified of Christ, and witnessed several people enter into the waters of baptism and come unto Christ.  I could go into details about each, but that could be a completely separate blog in and of itself.  I love these sisters.

I don't know if all of these people will truly ever know how much they have influenced my life and how much I love them.  But, I do.  

So that is why Iowa is important to me... it's more than just corn fields, it's a place of growth  and I am so grateful I was called to serve there and meet the people I met.  

Thank you for letting me share something so personal to me.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Granma Uminski's Casa - A Tasty Memorial

And the Taste Buds Say....
DELICIOUS!  This brownie was made especially for Memorial Day by my mom, niece and nephew.  It was made with love using only the best... the Ghirardelli chocolate brownie mix!  Topped with homemade whipped cream and of course, only the best ice cream ever... Bluebell.  Drizzled with a chocolate swirl of goodness and sprinkled with blue sprinkles to show pride in the red, white and blue.  The brownie was delicious.  I loved it.  It was nice and gooey, and yet had a nice crusty top.  It was served warm, which allowed the ice cream to melt just a tad!  

I love the presentation of the brownie.... I love the red, white and blue.  They took great care in picking out the perfect design... and I think it is lovely!  

I give it 5 ice cream scoops!!! 

The Story Behind the Brownie a la mode....
This brownie also took place over a year ago.  It was memorial day and I went to my parents house to visit since my sister and her family were visiting as well.  When I walked into the kitchen there were some whisperings happening in the corner amongst my mom and the two kiddos.  Finally after much discussion, they turned around and presented me with my brownie a la mode!  I felt so honored!  And I LOVED IT!  It was really yummy!  It was a fun way to celebrate Memorial Day.  

I have two ways to go on this brownie memory... one is to highlight my mom... which can be a whole blog in and of itself... along with my two adorable niece and nephew that helped... That's one way I will go, but first I want to highlight on the fact that this was a day to celebrate those men and women who have and do serve in the US Military.

I grew up a military angle (not a brat).  We moved almost every two years until I was in the 7th grade.  As a kid I hated moving.  I would cry every time, but then when I got to the new place, I would cry when I had to leave that place.  Every place we lived taught me something and made me who I am today.  I am grateful for the experience of growing up in the military.  It taught me to love my country.  It taught me be proud to be an American and yet to honor and respect other countries and their culture.  I got to see parts of the world people pay big bucks to travel to and visit.  I am grateful for the men and women that serve this county and allow us to have the freedoms we have.  That protect those that have their freedoms challenged or desire for freedom.  On this day, may we remember and give thanks to those that serve this great country.

Now to my mom.  There seriously is not enough room to write all about my mom.  My mom is an amazing lady.  She moved seven kids and a husband several times through out our military life.  I moved just myself a few years ago and vowed to never move again!  She did it with all of us.  My mom raised 7 very distinct, very individual kids and did a stellar job at it... I must say.  She taught us to love to read.  When we were kids in the summer time, we had little stations around the room that we had to go to before we could go play.  Each one had different activities that focused on reading or writing.  She always made sure we were actively engaged in good things.... dance, swimming, gymnastics, soccer, t-ball.  Whatever we wanted to do.  She always supported us in our desires.  I remember my Sophomore year, I didn't make the dance team for my Junior year.  I was devastated.  Just crushed.  So she took me shopping... and copping method I continue to use to this day.... and in that she also suggested I try something else, like class office.  So the next day, I went to the school and got the form to run for Class President.  With in a lunch period I had enough signatures to run.  My mom jumped right in as the best Campaign President!  She has never stepped down from that role... always cheering me on.  I love my mom!  ...and I loved her brownie!  

Samantha and Nathan... two of my nieces and nephews.  My favorite Samantha story is one night I had three of my nieces and nephews spend the night... Slumber Party at Aunt Kati's house.  Tradition for the sleep overs is to go get rootbeer floats.  So we did.  We get to my house and we are locked out.  I had a rental and left my house key with my car.  So I tell the kids to stay at the front door and wait while I go check the other windows.  Within minutes I look over and there are three little kids coming around the corner dragging their overnight bags and carrying their rootbeer floats.  They were so scared.  So I say, "Let's go to the backyard and look for fireflies and eat our rootbeer floats."  So we do.  When we get there, I say, "Let's say a prayer that we will be able to get in."  So we do.  Then we get camping chairs out and get all settled and then Samantha sits back in her chair and says, "Now we just have to wait for Heavenly Father to come and open the door."  as she took a huge bite of her ice cream.  It was cute.  The faith of a little girl.  Sure enough a moment later, I thought, "I forgot to check that one window."  And sure enough, my roommate had left it unlocked.  We were able to get in.  

Nathan... now Nathan is so kind.  That kid amazes me with his pure and gentle heart... he bugs is siblings, don't get me wrong.  But this kid, when he turned 8 and was going to be baptized he decided that the theme for his birthday party would be temples.  I was just so impressed by that.  He also made a goal to say up $92 by the end of the year for his mission.  What 8 year old does that?  He has since learned the value of money and saving. These two kiddos are so precious to me.  I am thankful for their example of purity and dedication.  

Outrageous Indeed!

And the Taste Buds Say....
Outrageous Indeed!  So, I know what you are thinking, "Ummmm, there's no ice cream... there's no whipped cream, no chocolate goodness drizzled all over...That's no brownie a la mode!"  It's true, it's not.  But it's a dang good brownie and who am I to discriminate any brownie?  Especially when it was made by my dear friend Kerstin!  Let me tell you about the brownie... it's call Outrageous Brownie by Ina Garten on the Food Network.  It seriously was so good.  Kerstin even took extra care to order the chocolate from a place in Pennsylvania!  When she brought it to the restaurant she actually had it in a cooler and served it cold!  It was so delicious.  There were chocolate chunks it in with a nice 'crusty' top with a chewy inside.  I have to agree, I think this is one of the best "regular" brownie I have had in a long time!  I give it 5... well, "non" scoops of ice cream!  

The Story Behind the Brownie
This brownie is actually from over a year ago.  It's quite sad how long it has taken me to post this story.  My dear friend Kerstin is AMAZING!  I mean, this girl can bake, cook, raise children, do crafts, serve in the church, be a good daughter, sister, wife, everything.... with a smile.  But she loves to bake and cook.  When she saw my blog she said, "I want to make you the best brownie I have ever had!"  So she did!  And it was the best brownie I have ever had.  As was mentioned above, she ordered the chocolate from a store in Pennsylvania, just for this brownie.  She is pretty amazing.

Kerstin and I go way back!  In fact, I have known her so long, I don't remember actually meeting her.  I knew her sister before I knew her.  I believe it was when I returned home from a year and half mission for my church that I met Kerstin.  We had some fun times hanging out together in our 20's!  Living it up!  One of my favorite memories of Kerstin (I have several, but I'll share just one...) is every year for Chinese New Year.  Kerstin does it right... she puts the Chinese to shame on her cooking!  She always prepares tons of yummy food and has everyone over to celebrate.  I loved those times because it always brought our group together.  As we all started to grow up, some got married, had kids, and life started changing from our single 20 years, we always knew that at least we had the Chinese New Year to bring us together.  Even though the food was amazing, it wasn't the food that brought us together, it was our friendship.  When I think about Kerstin, I can't help but think of kindness...and individual kindness.  She is the type of person that is very individual in what she does.  If she knows you like something specific, you can guarantee there will be that at her party or she will bring it to you if she sees it.  That's why I think there is so much food at the parties... she is catering to everyone's likes.  I love this girl!  

Thank you Kerstin for my brownie... I loved it!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yes, it's ALL for ME

And the Taste Buds Say....
Oh my!  This brownie was De-lis-ious!  The brownie was warm and gooey!  As you can see it is topped with a mile high of ice cream and whipped cream.... almost too much.  It took awhile to get to the goodness of the brownie.  I did like the presentation and the carmel with the chocolate drizzle.  It was worth every bite... well, everyone I could take before I was stuffed!  

The Story Behind the Brownie...
This is a pretty funny story.  I was out at St. Charles for work (parish outside of New Orleans).  One of the guys at work came up to me after class and said with a straight face, "Ok, the real question here is, where have you eaten and are you being taken care of?"  At the time I'd only been to Wendy's and other known places out of pure convenience... he was so disappointed.  He gave me a LONG list of places I needed to eat at while I was there... and future trips.  Two of which are my two favorite places to eat at when I go there now.  One was Drago's.  He said I had to go to Drago's and try their grilled oysters.  So, I did.  That night I when I got there, I just took a seat at the bar since it was just me and I didn't want to wait for a table.  So, I know I'm going to get the brownie a la mode, so I keep dinner small.  I order a half order of the grilled oysters.... which were AMAZING!... and a cup of tomato bisque soup... which was DELECTABLE!  Oh my goodness!  I wanted to lick the cup! I had this small little meal and then I order the brownie a la mode... now keep in mind, the people around me have all come and gone, so I have a whole new crowd around this single lonely young girl.... and out comes this monstrous mountain of goodness and is placed right in front of me!  Everyone around me has these huge eyes looking at me trying not to stare.... the guy next to me starts laughing and says, "Are you going to eat all of that?"  "That's the plan!"  And in I went.... and I almost made it... but as you can see, didn't quite make it.  As I'm leaving, the guy looks at me and says, "I must say, I'm impressed."  Yup, I got skills!