Friday, April 24, 2009

Earth day, geocaching, medication, and granola

On Wednesday, Code-man's Cub Scout pack planted 25 trees to complete the requirements for their Conservation award. It worked out well that Wednesday was also Earth Day. Since it was supposed to be a nice day, our family decided to picnic at the park first. Turned out to be the wrong park, but it was a nice place to have supper.

While we were eating, a man arrived, alone, and started lurking suspiciously about. At first, I thought he must be up to no good, but as I continued to watch him walk back and forth in a wooded area, the realization dawned that he must be looking for a geocache. Sure enough, as I watched, he surreptitiously glanced down at the hand he had just taken from his pocket, using his body to shield whatever it was he was looking at from our view. A GPS, I was sure. I watched until he left the area, and then said to the boys, wanna see if we can find that geocache?

So we wandered around in the same area, back and forth, checking out a few promising possibilities. We made it to the river side of the park, and I turned around to look back toward where we had come and saw...Mr. Geocacher (he was back)...standing by a tree...that had a branch coming out toward me...and a hole where the branch connected to the tree. I sent the boys to look in that hole, and...it wasn't there. Turns out Mr. Geocacher had found it and was waiting for us to go away so he could replace it. By the way, Mr. Geocacher told us that the one we had been looking for last April with Uncle Robb, that turned out to be under water, had been replaced and that he had just found it (if you see Robb, let him know, would you?).

As we pulled up to the park in which we were to plant the first 20 trees, we noticed a black car sitting at the curb and in it was...Mr. Geocacher. Which makes me wonder where the cache in that park is. I'm guessing in one of the sewer gratings, since there isn't much other cover there (hence the planting of the 20 new trees). It was so funny to see him there. I hope he didn't think we were following him.
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So, if you know me, you know that almost 3 years ago we discovered that I have a small benign tumor on my pituitary gland. It shrunk, then grew much larger while I was pregnant with Bubby, and shrunk again after he was weaned and I started taking medication again. That was a year ago, and my blood tests have been good since then, so I've decided to try to stop taking my medication. The doctor gave his OK, so here I go...we'll be checking my blood again in 3 months. When I was first diagnosed, the doctor told me that I may have to keep taking the medication for the rest of my life--I sure hope not!
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Here's a recipe for granola cereal that I got from my mother in law--so yummy:

In a large bowl, mix together
4 c. oatmeal
1 c. shredded coconut
1 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1 c. chopped peanuts
(hint: you can buy most of these things in the bulk ingredient aisle of your grocery store)

Bring to a boil:
1 c. honey
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 T cinnamon
(hint: measure out the veg oil first, then the honey, in the same measuring cup--the honey will come out more easily)

Pour honey mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir to coat. Spread on two cookie sheets. Bake at 325 for 5 min, then stir, then bake 5 min, stir, bake 3 min, stir, bake 3 min, and allow to cool undisturbed.

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it's so easy to make substitutions. I routinely leave the sesame seeds out and add more sunflower seeds. If you're peanut allergic, you can leave the peanuts out and add more of something else. This past time I added sliced almonds to the mix. I've noticed that if it's humid on the day you prepare the granola, it becomes soggy, but you can crisp it up by putting it back in the oven for 5 minutes. I think the key is to put it in an airtight container as soon as it's cool so it doesn't have time to absorb moisture from the air.

Here's a recipe for granola bars that I got from my sister in law (whose son is peanut allergic)--also very yummy:

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 c. crisp rice cereal (like rice krispies)
2 c. oatmeal
1 c. dried fruit bits
1/2 c. sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350. Coat a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Melt the butter or margarine in a large pot over low heat. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the sugar, honey, flour, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Transfer the mixture to the baking pan. Using a sheet of waxed paper and the palms of your hands, press the granola firmly into the pan, packing it to a flat and even thickness. (hint: if the waxed paper sticks to the mixture, spray it with cooking spray first)
Bake for 20 minutes, until golden grown. Allow the granola to cool 1 hour in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars. Makes 16-24 rectangular bars.

This one is easy to customize, too. I usually reverse the amounts for the fruit--I use dried cranberries--and almonds (1/2 c. fruit, 1 c. almonds). You could also use different nuts if you don't like almonds, sunflower nuts, for instance. We like to wrap these separately in aluminum foil or snack size ziplocks, for an easy on-the-go snack.

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