Monday, June 26, 2006

Cast Iron Chef

Tonight marked the historic fourth year of BCSR Iron Chef desert competition. As the cook the first year, I was inspired by one of the few t.v. shows I watch to give the boys a chance to try their hand at some culinary magic. As I have previously pointed out (you know you're a teen age boy if. . .) just a spoonful of competition makes almost anything go down amongst your average teen boy. So, to try to teach them some of the finer culinary arts. . . we devised a fool proof activity in which the campers divide into teams and are all given the same ingredients, an hour and a half, access to the kitchen and a challenge to create.
"Sunshine" sports a powdered sugar soul patch

While the first year started out a bit bumpy (ingredients included cherry frosting, green apple jell-o, gummy worms, and pineapple sherbet) each year has been increasingly better. As one might imagine turning a gaggle of boys loose with that much sugar and often little cooking sense, generally results in sweet, sweeter, and I'm going to puke sweetest (the first year there was the everything mixed together boiled and then blended into thick brown sludge sugar shake- I nearly vomited).
Nothing like a little indian techno and some freestyle rapping to get everybody in a party mood

Each year there is the crazy elaborate gingerbread/science fair diorama inspired creation (this year was a mountain of cake and whipped cream with caramel filled carved apples replete with mullets, mohawks and the Utah claw). But once in a while they really pull through and surprise you.
A rather delicious apple compote

Such as a flan cooked in a make shift dutch oven double boiler, apple turnovers drizzled in homemade caramel, and this year a pop tart-esque concoction comprised of a hard chocolate layer, mint pudding all wrapped in a pastry shell and topped with grated chocolate. Pretty darn gourmet for the teen squad cooking in the rec shed kitchen in the middle of a juniper forest.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Tales of Two Kitties

This June marks major feline milestones in my life. I'm not a crazy cat woman. I'm an animal person. We grew up with: cats, dogs, horses, ponies, chickens, pigs, goats, sheep, rats, gerbils, bunnies, and a few random newts/horned toads/lizards and robins. I love them all. However, there are always those signature animals that have stood out from the rest and gained special precedence in my heart, like Britta Ann our brood sow, or Nemo the horse born on our property that I rode through my teenage years, or Sandy the spastic dog who defended us from bully dogs and let me brush his teeth and put clip on earrings on him. Yuki stands supreme in the realm of our kitties, a statuesque part of our family unit from 1987 till last week. My uncle found him as a kitten in a dumpster in LA, and somehow my dad wound up bringing him home on his way back from Japan- hence the uber inappropriate Japanese name (Yuki means snow in Japanese, Yuki was jet black). As a kitten he was called Spaz and spent his hours wildly chasing milk rings on the linoleum, or one of our braids as we held him and teased him. At night he slept with my sister and I, and we would often wake up with the lacey fronts of our matching nighties wet from Yuki sucking and kneading.
As the years went by, Yuki became a god among the Bennion cats. He was gorgeous, a mini panther with eyes the gold of an Egyptian sun and an ego as wide as the Gobi desert. He was a hunter- mice, birds, squirrels even gophers were fair and frequent game. He owned the house and he owned us. It was always a matter of when he wanted to be loved, not when we wanted to give him loves. Usually his whims where right as I sat trying to do homework and he was set himself demandingly in the middle of my work. At one point he suffered a midlife crises during which he started obsessively licking himself till his belly and inner legs were bald. After a few months of kitty prozac and some substantial weight gain (we started calling him the King. . . very Elvis reminiscent) he regained his stately composure and character. He aged gracefully, even when he began to lose his hearing and his coat began to match his name. Sadly, Yuki perished last week at the jaws of Red Bear, a foster dog we were taking care of. Needless to say there was some serious grieving, it's hard to lose an old friend, especially in such an unnecessarily harsh and violent way. I can't help but feel we somehow betrayed our old boy. But in a way it fits. . .he died claws slashing and tale swishing, forever the mighty hunter.

June also marks the one year birthday of my current feline flame, Reuben. Reuben is a hairless sphinx cat and came to me last year by way of a friend in vet school who was looking for homes for kittens. While having a cat in some ways cramps my wanderlust ways (though his grandparents are always happy to kitty sit), I love having this little shadow companion always waiting for my return from school, and happy to curl up next to me each night. So happy birthday Reubs. Maybe I'll get him a live mouse for his birthday.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Teen Boy Squad

Well, we've successfully finished the first week and then some of the first boys session of Birch Creek Service Ranch and so far its going pretty awesome. I wish I had the time and energy to give you a bio on each camper, and tell you all the hilarious things they've said and the awesome things we've done, but I'm tired. So this blog will accomplish the following: 1. a brief history of the yurts and subsequent yak fascination, 2. my nose job, 3. you know you're a teen boy if. . . , 4. Costco shopping for 30+ teen eaters, and 5. some incentive to visit.
1. This is a yurt

We bought 5 of them from Mongolia for the ranch, for the boys to sleep in. They are jaunty, they are charming, they smell like a yak (being that they are insulated with a yak fur/ Fiberglas felt). They came all in a large shipping crate from Mongolia and took some serious work setting up. The boys sleep in these, whilst we female staff sleep in this American yurt, not so jaunty, nor charming, but sans yak smell and with lovely large windows.

Eventually we'll have bunk houses, but the boys are totally digging the yurts and they lend to the rustic experience. On the first night evening co-ordinator extrodinaire, Ash, organized a yak effigy making extravaganza (out of newspaper) which were then burned in a fire to please the yak gods. A lore of the yak ancestors was composed and read by counselor Jeff, and they boys ate it up like candy from a stranger.
2. Well, during the setting up of the yurts (which came with zero instructions) we were frequently endangered by falling poles out of the main spoke wheel whilst getting the frame set up. On one such occasion I happened to catch a falling pole with the bridge of my nose. It hurt. A lot. It bled. A lot. It was bruised internally for quite some time (still is a little) and I got a nasty deep cut. . . I'm hoping for a sweet scar , and there is a permanent indent in my nose now. All this for free, yesiree folks, a free nose job just for setting up a yurt (now I know next time I have a yurt setting up party you will ALL be there!).
Spending the bulk of my waking hours with teen boys (12-15 years old) has given me new insights into these strange creatures, and I feel I may be slowly morphing into one. So I made this handy dandy checklist to see how far along I am to teen boydom, you can assess yourself too! So, you know you are a teen boy if:
  • Chuck Norris is a constant standard to which all things are compared and measured, e.g. "Chuck Norris could buck 200 bales at once" or "Chuck Norris could set up 5 yurts in 5 minutes";
  • a mixture of dirt/sweat/hay/manure/etc. encrusted on your skin is no reason for a shower, it's just the way you are;
  • you wonder, after eating 11 plates of pasta salad, if you are still hungry;
  • EVERYTHING, even what things you did in your sleep, is fodder for competition with other boys;
  • and finally, you KNOW you are a teen boy if you ask questions like "are those sandwiches you're making for lunch today?" or "is beef a horse?".
4. Now, part of my ultra glamorous job as teen camp counselor is being over all the food buying and planning. As a former cooks for the ranch, Kelly and I got the illustrious job of shopping for food for 30 ravenous people for three weeks. After countless hours of planning, several hours in Costco, and many shopping carts later, we had the bare necessities stocked. If you ever want to be totally grossed out, just shop for 30 and you will feel yourself melting in to a puddle of excessive material consumption and waste on the spot. Here's the proof.

5. So, in parting I leave you with picture taken from the road leading to the ranch. . .it's gorgeous here. Come visit. Come let your inner teen boy free. I'll even let you sleep in a yurt, or buck some bales. Pinky promise.
p.s. I'm still trying to figure out this blogging thing, I'm afraid I'm dreadful at configuring the page with photos and text, please forgive the appalling layout of this post. . .

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

i heart the grand canyon

So pretty much my favorite part of any blog is pics, so in order to try and convince you that this is a cool kid blog I'll slap up some pics from a recent Grand Canyon river trip. I went for three weeks with my dad as a swamper on a commercial trip. It was pretty sweet. It was a super nerd bomb trip with a geologist, botonist, archeologist, and historian on board. . .I was in heaven.

like anything it's small

Um so, I've never really had a desire to blog. The thought of having a blog always seemed so pretentious to me unless you had a good excuse like living in a fabulous foreign country (amy), or an art project (adam), or part of your business (my dad). . . I have none of those. However, I have in recent months been inspired by the pithy and entertaining blogs of several friends all like myself- sans a legitimate excuse to blog. Slowly I began creating a rational. . . it's a way for friends far and near to know what I'm up to and to comment on the various musings of my life. . . it's less tacky than sending out a mass email every now and again. . . I don't watch TV so why not blog (thanks kelly for that one). . . it's one more very viable way to procrastinate from doing my thesis. . . it's a way to share those bizarre things I happen upon from time to time with the world. The straw that finally broke the camels back? When I had to officially create a blog id so that I could post comments on a friends blog (thanks dainon). So here I am, sitting in my pajamas, listening to a tardy rooster crow and wondering who on earth will actually read this, and what on earth I will actually post. Perhaps I'm simply one step further along on the path of technological enshroudment and narcissism. Woot.