Friday, July 22, 2016

Taiwan Taichung Mission Home Recipes: Departing Missionaries' Last Supper!

As promised, here is a collection of recipes that I've used during our mission!

Departing Missionaries' Last Supper Menu
Carver's Salad
Out of This World Crescent Rolls
Teriyaki Salmon
Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Baked Potatoes
Fresh Vegetable


One of the favorites that all the missionaries looked forward to every time we had a zone conference lunch or a meal at the mission home was a green salad:) I got this recipe at a ward Christmas potluck. The Carver Salad was so good that one brother walked around the cultural hall with the empty bowl asking who had brought it. I'm glad he did, because we all got the recipe and I've made it hundreds of times! I call it my "food storage" salad dressing because all the ingredients come out of my year's supply!

Mix together:
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (Taiwan has the best apple vinegar!)
3 Tbsp. honey

Heat until honey melts; cool. Then whisk in:
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp. (3/8 cup) salad dressing (I use Miracle Whip)
1 Tbsp. finely minced onion
1-1/2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced (I use 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes)
pinch of salt

Gradually whisk in:
3/4 cup oil (I use Canola)

1 head Romaine, cleaned and chopped
1 head red leaf lettuce, cleaned and chopped
1 pkg. baby spinach, 
1 cup blanched almond slivers, toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
3-4 golden delicious apples, chopped


When I had time, I would bake fresh crescent rolls. I also used this recipe to make cinnamon rolls when I had a missionary who was lactose intolerant:) President's cousin's wife used to make these wonderful rolls and after she gave me the recipe, I realized that I had cut it out of the LA times a decade earlier but never tried baking them!

In a bread machine, add (in the order below):

1-1/4 cup water, warmed in a microwave oven for one minute
2 tsp. salt
3 eggs
4-1/2 cups flour (I prefer unbleached)
1/2 cup shortening (this I had many family members over the three years bring over to Taiwan)
1/2 cup sugar
5 tsp. instant yeast

In order to get a moist dough that otherwise would be too sticky to knead by hand, I use a bread machine to mix all my bread dough. I start the dough cycle, then carefully watch the dough for the first 15-20 minutes. I scrape the sides often and make sure the dough is sufficiently moist. If it appears dry, I add more water. If it appears too wet, I add more flour. The dough should be barely moist to the touch (stick to your finger) while during the mixing stage. After the machine is done kneading, it will produce a very elastic dough that you can handle without being too moist.

Prepare a covered plastic container by spraying the inside with non-stick cooking spray. After the dough is done with the first knead, I remove the dough and place it inside the prepared container, and then either turn over or spray the top of the dough so that it is lightly coated with oil. Cover and let rise in refrigerator overnight or for about 4-8 hours.

Divide dough into 3 parts. Roll each part into a circle. Spread with softened butter. Using a pizza cutter, cut each circle into half and each half into fifths for 10 pie shaped pieces. This seems odd but I have found that doing created triangles not to narrow as well as not too long. Roll from wide end into crescents. Place point side down on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat silicone baking sheet. Silpats do not need to be greased and your rolls will never burn! Let rise until double.

Bake 12-15 minutes in a oven preheated to 400F. Watch carefully! When golden brown, remove and baste with softened butter.


You know how frustrating it is when you find the perfect brand of whatever at Costco, and then the next time you go there they have discontinued stocking it? That is what happened to this fabulous teriyaki marinade I found at the Taichung Costco:( It was full of ginger and sesame seeds, and was also gluten free. The new brand they carried was thicker but smooth glaze. What to do? I looked at the Ginger-Garlic Paste left over from the Indian Aloo Gobi recipe that I did not enjoy. A lightbulb went on!

One Atlantic salmon fillet
Teriyaki marinade/sauce/glaze (any kind, any brand)
Ginger-Garlic Paste (the secret ingredient)
Toasted sesame seeds
Fresh cilantro, ends trimmed off, chopped

Ginger-Garlic Paste:
1/2 cup peeled garlic
1/2 cup fresh ginger, all rough outer peel and layer pared off
1/4 cup salad oil
Blend above 3 ingredients in blender until smooth. Stores in sealed glass jar for months!

Rinse salmon fillet and pat dry with paper towels. Place in baking dish (metal or glass). Spread top with Ginger-Garlic Paste. Pour Teriyaki marinade/sauce/glaze over top of salmon, and enough to cover the bottom of the baking dish. Lift salmon to allow sauce to soak into the bottom of the fillet. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator 1-2 hours. Tips: be generous with the marinade, as it is great over rice!

Preheat oven to 325F. Remove plastic wrap. Spoon marinade over salmon to moisten. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Cover with foil and bake for 40-60 minutes (depending on how thick your salmon is, until pink). Now here is the trick. I like a thicker sauce with the baked salmon. So if you used a thin marinade, you'll want to bake the salmon uncovered (remove foil) longer (maybe last 20 minutes) to thicken the marinade. If you used a thick glaze, you'll want to bake the salmon covered longer so that the glaze doesn't burn. Whatever the case, about 10 minutes before the salmon is done, remove the foil, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and return to oven. Do not leave the cilantro on the salmon in the oven for more than 20 minutes (or it will turn an ugly brown).

Serve with Basmati or Jasmine rice:)


In the U.S., generally speaking, beef is least expensive, followed by chicken, and then pork. However, in Taiwan, pork is least expensive, followed by chicken and then beef! So I decided to go with grilled pork, and used my beef tri-tip marinade on the tenderloins. President is the one who grills the tenderloins to perfection! But the real secret is the Grill Mats. I ordered these amazing mats online after my mother told me she ordered them for my brother as a gift. These mats cut down the grilling time by about half, keeps the meat juicy as it’s almost self-basting, lets flavor and charring come through, avoids burning even with sweet sauces, and best of all, cleanup is a cinch and your grill stays spotless!

So here’s the marinade...

In a pan just large enough for your meat (not to small or large), mix:

1 part robust Italian salad dressing (any brand, bottled or from a mix)
3-4 parts soy sauce (I use Kikkoman All-purpose, not low-sodium)

Trim pork tenderloin or tri-tip. Turn meat in marinade until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle top generously with granulated garlic. Turn meat over. Sprinkle again. Cover with plastic wrap. Marinate for 2 hours or more before grilling. Turn at least once. Note that the granulated garlic will soak up much of the marinade to coat the meat, so be sure there is plenty of liquid.

7-2016 - We Love Returned Missionary Visits!

July 21-24
Nate Erickson came down with his buddies for a surfing trip:)
 There's the tri-tip now that we're back in the U.S.!
July 19-20
Young Limpanasripheng and his sweet friend Gracie! 
We were blessed they were able to squeeze in a visit in between their trips to Texas and Thailand!
Cantaloupe Bisque for dessert:)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

7-12-16 The Best Birthday in Eighteen Years!

Tuesday, on my birthday, I received the most wonderful birthday greeting from my three-year-old daughter Courtney, through a beautiful sister named Sarah.

On Monday, I went to the store to buy some groceries, and stopped next door at my favorite nail salon to make an appointment for a pedicure. My manicurist told me I could come by Tuesday at 3:45pm. Perfect, a birthday gift to myself:)

That afternoon, as my manicurist started working on my toes, I noticed a client with pretty long blonde hair, maybe 20 years my younger, take a seat in the waiting area by my chair while her nails dried. I talked to my manicurist about Taiwan and being gone for three years. After she finished, she set up a place for me to sit as well, a couple of chairs down from this pretty blonde. I started to read Jesus the Christ, I was on the last chapter.

A few minutes later, with a friendly smile, the pretty blonde handed me her iPhone, open to her Notes. I took it and read:

Hi, my name is Sarah. 
I have something a bit unusual to tell you.
Hope it's okay. I'll just tap it out here.
I met your daughter Courtney in the park around March. 
She just popped in. 
She asked me to tell the missionaries to go tell her parents about HER (I meet the missionaries in the park). She told me her parents would be VERY happy to see the missionaries. That they love missionaries. 
Which made me think that they may have been Mormons....
She wanted you to know she was absolutely fine. 
Wanting to do as she asked, I looked at the memorial plaque and tree...figured it had been a long time and her family would no longer be around. 
And well I actually felt too awkward to tell the missionaries.
She hung around with me for probably over a month or more. 
She is very happy. I can tell you she has the type of personality where she gets very excited. Like when she had something to show me. She would want me to hurry up. Like "look now."
Later...about a month after meeting her...out of the blue someone [at church] told me about her and your family.
After that she wanted "tall flowers" and a shell. 
I'm not sure of the significance of the shell. 
That's about everything.
Hope it's okay that I'm telling you.

I’m sure you can imagine the range of emotions and the tears that welled up as I looked into the eyes of this sensitive woman, whom I had never seen before, whose name was Sarah. It was apparent to me that Sarah had a very special gift. I asked Sarah if she was a member of our church, and she said she started attending our ward about a year ago. As Sarah said in her note, one day around April, she met a friend of mine who randomly started to talk about losing loved ones. She mentioned our family. Then Sarah  came to know about Courtney's family.

I sat in awe that the Lord, in His tender mercy, would send this smiling blonde angel to me on my birthday. But how did Sarah know I was Courtney's mother? As she waited for her nails to dry, she heard me mention Taiwan. She saw I was reading Jesus the Christ. She started to tap out her note to me. She must have felt a strong prompting to share her experience. I marveled that she had the courage to give it to a perfect stranger. I know Courtney must have been very happy.

Here is a picture that Sarah took on May 23 of the flowers she planted:
Later that evening on my birthday, I went by the memorial...
 and found the shells Sarah had added, as Courtney had requested:
Sarah didn't know the significance of the shell, but I did.
I had just unpacked this very special shell a few days ago:
 In 2010, a dear sweet friend of mine had placed some flowers on the memorial, adorned with this special shell. Of all the infinite different kinds of seashells in the ocean, does it surprise you that Sarah chose the very same white ridged shells?
 My new friend Sarah:

Throughout our mission these past three years, I have had the privilege to bear my testimony of the Savior’s eternal Plan of Salvation. There is no doubt in my mind that Courtney’s spirit is alive in paradise, well, and watching over me and my loved ones. And I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who pours His tender mercies upon His earthly children to strengthen us in this life and give us hope and peace for the next life.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

7-10-16 Homecoming Sacrament Meeting at Las Posas Chapel

When the bishopric counselor saw that we had about two dozen missionaries in attendance, 
he invited them up to sing the mission song for the congregation:)
Does this scene look familiar, like a hundred times prior to lunch during zone conference?!

 Afterwards, a round of Happy Birthday for Sister Chao and yours truly:
Back to the home for some BBQ Chopped Salad:

 So great to see even more missionaries today!

 Celebrating two birthdays today with my favorite Bread Basket Bakery cake!
 On the flight back to the U.S., I enjoyed the last of the amazing baklava made by this missionary's amazing mother! She sent me two pans. One I shared with the office and the other I kept in the freezer. I delighted in it until the last day of my mission:)
 This darling sister had a mission call to Houston. Wonder why she'll not be reporting?!
 One of our happiest missionaries every day of his mission!
 Recently married!!!
 More recently married!
 Coming home to our newest grandchild is the best! Four generations in one photo op:)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

7-9-16 Missionary Evening at the Blickenstaffs

That evening, after some time at the beach, more missionaries gather at the home:
 Missionaries are used to pizza at large gatherings!

 These boys couldn't wait to get out the hammocks!

 Pretty comfy, if I do say so myself!
 FaceTiming from Utah:)
 Time to say Goodbye:(
 Q&A time with President:

The evening closed with a few zone conference videos, what could be better?!

7-9-16 Open House at the Blickenstaff Backyard in Camarillo, California!

Our son-in-laws and elders helped a ton to set up tables and chairs in the backyard!
 K.O. Tacos put on a feast of street tacos featuring pollo, asada, and al pastor!

 Salsa bar, sour cream, guacamole, rice & beans:
 Finding shade under the apricot tree:
 We love meeting fiancees! 
 Our senior couple drove down from northern California!
 Our children gather under the patio cover:
 Tons of friends from our stake!

 Members bringing investigators:
 Neighbors in our ward:
 Long time friends:
 New bishop called while we were in Taiwan:

 This couple on the right just got back after two years in Beijing:

 Next door neighbors:
 My cousin from O.C.:
 Ruben did a fabulous job with the tacos!
 My grandson found my seminary props for a little sword fighting!