Saturday, October 30, 2010

Homemade Caramel Recipe

The following is mostly for my own records, but you should feel free to use it too. It comes from this website.

3 c. sugar, divided
3/4 c. milk
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. butter (cut up)

Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar in heavy saucepan; place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar melts and syrup is golden brown.

Combine remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar, milk, egg and salt in a bowl, stirring well; stir in butter. Stir butter mixture in caramelized sugar. (The mixture will lump, becoming smooth with further cooking.) Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer registers 230 degrees (15-20 minutes). Cool 5 minutes. Beat with a wooden spoon to almost spreading consistency and spread between layers and on top of cake.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Grandma Hoggard

This past Tuesday morning, at approximately 12:30 am, my Grandma Hoggard died. Mom and Anika were there with her, in her hospice care facility, and I had seen her earlier that evening, earlier that day, and for many hours on the previous two days. We had been praying she would die on Monday because she was so uncomfortable. It was such a blessing to have it happen when and how and as peacefully as it did. Grandma considered her death a graduation, and she requested we play "Pomp and Circumstance" at her funeral, which the bishop thought was "resoundingly appropriate." So on Friday, at her funeral, as the cousins pall bearered her casket out of the chapel, Cousin Stephen played a version of the graduation anthem. I'm sure she was 100% delighted about that.

At Uncle Rick's request, I wrote a tribute to Grandma, which was included in the program for her funeral. For posterity's sake--and to update this long-neglected blog--I post it here.

Grandma Hoggard, we love you very much. I miss you already.

* * * * *

As Grandma Hoggard Would Say, “We Just Had to Laugh”

I once won $1100 for an essay I wrote about Grandma and Grandpa, in which I essentially just wrote down experiences I’d had with them. I wrestled with not submitting the essay in the first place—should I make money on Grandma’s idiosyncrasies? Could it really be okay to share her foibles with the world? In the essay, I describe watching Grandma give herself insulin shots, poking a sharp needle into her belly, sitting alone late at night at the kitchen counter. And of course, of course, I expose her fridge for all that it is—a tattooed appliance, covered by a collection of quotes, handwritten by Grandma in black permanent marker. “Pornography is the literature of the devil,” the freezer says. “If jealousy were a fever, all the world would be ill.”

I shouldn’t have worried about sharing these things. When I showed Grandma the essay, she laughed at every page. “You painted me perfectly!” she said. “You got me just right!”

The perfect, shocking thing about Grandma’s willingness to laugh is that she was also so serious about so many things. The gospel of Jesus Christ, for one. Her family. Genealogy. Graduations, events, holiday decorations. New clothes for the grandkids, new shoes for the grandkids. Pretty much anything for the grandkids. Fudge.

With seriousness, she decried sin. (She once told me: “Rick bought his kids a poker table. Someday he’s going to call me and say, ‘Woe is me,’ and I’ll say, ‘Woe IS you!’”) She advocated for achievement. (She counseled a soon-to-be-lawyer grandson to take all 50 state bars at the same time, “just to get it over with.”) She loved buying things. (One day, after hearing her emit a string of gasps and “That’s darling!”s in the BYU Bookstore, I asked her if she saw anything she didn’t think was cute. She stopped walking, turned entirely around, and said brightly, “Nope!”)

And she gave, gave, gave. Gave. Gave more. (For instance, a former roommate of my sister’s recently credited Grandma Hoggard with helping her avoid urinary tract infections, so plentiful was Grandma’s supply of cranberry juice to Anika’s college apartment.) Grandma never stopped giving—she was giving the rings off her fingers for weeks before she died—and she hasn’t yet. (Turn an object over in Grandma’s house, and you’re likely to find a “Stephen” or a “Coco,” written in Grandma’s own schoolgirl cursive. She long ago began preparing to divide her possessions among her family.) My guess is she’s already finding ways to keep giving, both to us here and to our family on the other side.

Grandma Hoggard is one of the finest, funniest, most passionate, most loving people ever to live on God’s earth. We who are lucky enough to be descended from her by birth or marriage have been trying since our very first days to live with as much meaning, good humor, and generosity as she showed everyday.

She’d like that, I think, because she loves us. And because she has always, always enjoyed a good laugh.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Salad Crazy?

Me too.

Which is why Manfriend has made this:

He says he'll update it every time I eat a salad, which, it turns out, is typically at least once a day. But already we're two salads behind--a pork salad and a salad I ordered as part of lunch today at The Prime Rib, during DC's restaurant week. But he has an iPhone, plenty of access to me (hooray), and the desire to document our crazy salad eating.

Here's hoping even more attention to me and my salads doesn't go to my head.

(Manfriend, that pun was for you.)

Stay tuned.