Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Heat Is On

Quite literally, and in many ways, the heat is on! Summer has come and gone and the days are cooling off. The beautiful forests of trees in Northern Virginia are teasing us with the first of their brilliant fall colors. We can hardly wait to see what this area will look like in a few weeks. The heat is on in our townhouse already, but some afternoons we still have to sneak in a few hours of air conditioning. What a great time of year.

The weather has been perfect for the past few days, not too hot and not too cold, with lots of sunny, blue skies. Perfect timing, because this weekend we had two of our daughters and three grandkids visit.

Kristen, Jacob, Noah and Mary arrived late last Wednesday night. It was our grandkids' first trip here and they pretty much took in everything in the District in three days time. Phew!

Josh and Emily arrived Friday afternoon with BYU Folk Dancers to perform at an annual ambassadors function at the Marriott Ranch on Saturday. We all met up on Saturday night: eleven of us in all, including our niece, Susi, who lives in D.C. What a great time we had walking the mall (again), seeing the sights, and enjoying being together. So much fun! The hardest part was having to say goodbye to them all as they flew home within a couple hours of each other on Sunday.

Tonight, we're back at work preparing and finalizing lessons for the coming week. The heat is on in our Institute calling, too. We are definitely earning our pay.... :) We do a lot of driving, a lot of teaching, and a lot of preparation. It keeps us busy all week. We have to work hard to have something worthwhile and challenging to present to these students. We are constantly impressed with the amount of gospel understanding that they already have.

Then there's the cookie baking project. That's the reason the heat is on in our kitchen. For some unexplained reason, I had the bright idea when we arrived that I'd like to bake cookies for our classes each week. I must admit I was a little out of practice. I haven't baked cookies for years, so don't ask me why I thought that would be a good idea, but I did. My cookie making expertise has grown by leaps and bounds -- almost as much as my teaching ability.

So, the cookie baking project went well when we had about 10 students in each of our classes. Now one of our classes is averaging 80 - 90 students each week. Yikes! It looks like cookie heaven in our kitchen every Monday. The up-side of all of this is that the students really appreciate them! Of course, it isn't hard to please a 20-something-year-old student who hasn't tasted anything home-baked since the last time they went home (if then).

I make about 10 dozen every week. This week I'll bake chocolate chip cookies again. Last week it was Orange Oatmeal cookies (a big hit), and before that brownies, and before that - s'more cookies. Yup, that's right. Kristen gave me the recipe for s'more cookies. They were also a big hit, but kinda labor intensive when you're making 10 dozen. I had a lot of requests for the recipe. Here it is:

S'More Cookies
1 pkg. graham crackers (9 full-sized)
6 Tbs. butter, melted
2 Tbs. sugar
Dash of salt
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbs. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips3 1/2 c. flour
Large marshmallows
Hershey chocolate bars or chocolate kisses

Break the graham crackers up into the food processor and grind into crumbs. Add melted butter, sugar, and salt. Crumble them together and set aside. Cream together softened butter, brown sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix in baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Toss in chocolate chips and crumb mixture and stir by hand. Roll in 2" balls. Bake at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes (not completely cooked). Cut marshmallows in half and press one piece into the center of each hot cookie. Return to the oven and bake a little more (4-5 minutes) until the mallows puff up and get all beautiful. Remove from the oven and press one chocolate square into the center of each.


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