Archive for December, 2006

Movie Review – Eragon

My husband, my daughter, and I have all read the first two books in the Eragon series. We love them and we were very excited to hear that a movie was being created from young Paolini’s Fantasy novels. Since this movie was rated PG my husband and I ventured out on our own to view it – we screen all movies, especially PG and up before the children are allowed to watch them.

First, I want to say that the books, although great, are not for everybody. Magic and war fill the first two volumes (the third is not out yet). There is no sex or swearing – this series is completely clean of those things (so far). There are however, many scenes where magic is used, blood is shed, and one fortune-telling scene involving a witch of some sort. All of this, in my mind, was played up very well as being fictional – not at all like the very popular Harry Potter saga, which I believe comes too close to the real world of witchcraft and such, but closer to Lord Of The Rings, although not as graphic. Eragon, the books, come close to crossing the line a few times (magic stuff) but for the most part they are clean and easy on the eyes of young adults. The story line talks about using your gifts for good even when you are scared, family relationships and devotion, the respecting of parents and elders, good v/s evil, accepting other cultures and races, and patience. I personally loved that Eragon’s cousin opted to work hard to earn a living and develop the ability to take care of a family before he married the girl he loved. What an unheard of concept in today’s world. There are talks of prayer, of a god, and of “gifts” as well, but nothing points to Christianity and there was one time that the elves talk of there being no “god” but a power that comes from the earth, or something like that (one negative aspect of the book). I saw this as being just one of many different races with many different beliefs in these books and not an adgenda being played out.
As for the movie – it was well done in the content area. No sex, no cursing, no completely gorey scenes; although there is war, violence, and blood. An elf’s top is a little too low in a scene or two and a small bit of her leg shows in one scene. The elf’s armor looks a little odd on her, showing off a bit of her shape but not well. I don’t think these scenes were meant to be “sexy” but they could prove to be a temptation of sorts to a young teen boy.
Although the special effects were pretty good the flow of the movie could have used some help. It was choppy and bounced all over the place. Some scenes that were meant to be serious turned out to be humerous making it hard for the audience to take it seriously. Some of the acting could have used a bit more direction and the witch lady was laughable (this was probably a good thing).
Overall I think the movie was good and mild and kept to the overall young adult feel of the books. My real beef was the previews shown BEFORE the movie. Most of them were rated R and were VERY inappropriate for the young audiance that filled the theater. I am not sure who’s idea that was but it warned me to be extra careful when I take my kids to the theater (something we don’t do often).
To sum it up:
Although I enjoyed Eragon and will have no problems letting my almost 12 year old view it I strongly encourage you to view it first to make sure it is appropriate for YOUR children. Don’t take my word or anybody else’s word for it. As I said in the beginning, this story isn’t approriate for all children – be on your guard!
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Smore’s Pops

These marshmellow pops were an idea I found in a magazine and we modified it a bit to make smores marshmellow pops.
Step by step I will go through this very simple process. You will be very pleased at how easy this treat is to make.

First you will need these supplies:

  • Melting chocolate
  • Large Marshmellows
  • Gram Crachers (I prefer cinnamon)
  • popcycle sticks, lollypop sticks, or short scewers
  • Sandwich baggies (the kind without the zip-lock)
  • Twist ties

We purchased some chocolate pieces made for melting and candy making. They were easy to find in our grocers baking section near the chocolate chips.

I don’t have a double broiler – I have never needed one. I just use a pot on top of a pot on my stove. I simmer water in the bottom pot and then set a slightly bigger pot on top of it with my chocolate pieces in it. You can melt them in the microwave but the chocolate hardens so fast that I find it works better to just keep it warm on my homemade double broiler.

Make sure to stir your chocolate a lot while it is melted. You don’t have to stir it constantly just make sure you stir it often.
While you wait for your chocolate to melt get your large marshmellows ready. Take popcycle sticks, short scewers, or lollypop sticks (if you can find them) and push a marshmellow onto each one.
When your chocolate is completely melted you will want to dip your marshmellow-on-a-stick into the chocolate. Use a spoon to help cover the marshmellow completely with chocolate.Have your crushed cinnamon or regular gram crackers ready. As soon as your marshmellow is covered with chocolate you will need to coat it in the gram cracker crumbs. The easiest way to do this is to have the crumbs in a bowl where you can grab some and sprinkle them over your chocolate covered marshmellow. Yes, some of the chocolate will drip into the crumbs but that is okay.

Stand your finished pop in a short and thin glass like this:

The chocolate will harden quick but if you want it super quick you can put the pops in the freezer for 2 or 3 minutes.
We use cheap sandwich baggies to cover them with when the chocolate hardens. Then we twist tie them with some twist ties that our grocers deli workers gave to us (we have a great grocery store!) The finished product looks like this.

Here is a photo of a basket full of them:

We made 17 of these in 30 miniutes. They are so easy and the kids loved helping. Even Matthew (3) was able to help make some.

Next we are making hot cocoa cones. These are really cool and so easy! Photo’s and recipe to come tomorrow.

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Yummy Christmas…

I am home from church today – Ben (almost 2) is sick and, although he is in a good mood, the bug he has caused my 4 year old nephew to get pnumonia so I am not taking any chances on getting any other children sick. Ben really needs his rest anyway and I am not sure it would be a good idea to drag him out into the cold weather.


Our family absolutely loves to cook and bake during the holidays. We enjoy cookie, candy and desert making and the house smells so yummy every year. This year we have decided to put that love of baking into our Christmas gifts. My idea was to get baskets from Michaels and fill them with the goodies we make. We started baking and yesterday it was – cookies! There
are typically three kinds of Christmas cookes that my daughter and I bake. The classic Chocolate Chip Cookie, Egg Nogg Cookies, and Vanderhoos. My daughter (almost 12) is a wiz in the kitchen. Although she doesn’t bake the Egg Nogg cookies, simple because she doesn’t like them at all, she makes the Chocolate Chip and Vanderhoo Cookies most of the time.
I will
be adding our recipes to this blog as we go, along with pictures of our masterpieces. Most of these recipes are not our own but may be exact or modified from recipes we have found on packages, in books, and on the internet.

Chocolate
Chip Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine (butter flavored
    Crisco can replace 1/2 cup of the butter for a very nice flavor and
    texture)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (if you want)

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. In a different bowl mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture a little at a time until combined. Add your chocolate chips and nuts (if desired). Drop rounded table spoon sized mounds onto a cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each cookie. You don’t want to place them too close together so take your time. Bake at 375 for 7 to 8 minutes
until edges start to brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack or a counter covered in wax paper. When completely cool you can place them in an air tight container.

Egg Nogg
Cookies
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups softened butter
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp ground nutmeg

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmega and mix well. Set aside the flour mixture while you cream sugar and butter in a separate bowl. Add eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks
and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed just until combined and be sure not over mix. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto un-greased baking sheets 1 ” apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes at 300 in a pre-heated oven until edges start to turn brown and IMMEDIATELY transfer them to cool on a wax paper covered counter to cool this is KEY to having an Egg Nogg Cookie that is not falling apart!

Also, there are a few flavored egg noggs that might taste good in these cookies. I think flavored coffee creamers might be tasty in these as an egg nogg substitue, as well.

 

Vanderhoos

Oooh, these are the absolute best, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet, crumbly, and gooey filled cookies you will every find and, NO, I will not be giving out the recipe – SORRY, my mother and grandmother would kill me!!! This recipe is family secret. You can find similar recipes
on the internet under divinity but I will assure you that it is not the same. I actually had a very sweet lady get angry and call me names once because I wouldn’t give her the recipe and she rarely talked to me after the fact. That is how unbelievably delicious these cookies are.


Today we will be making Summer Sausage from scratch. We have actually already started this one but it has to sit in the fridge overnight so all we will need to do is bake them to
complete them. Actually, my husband got busy mixing the ingredients yesterday morning. He absolutely loves to bake when he has time and even more than that he loves Summer Sausage. He was not patient enough to wait for me to start it today. We have never tried this
recipe before so I guess we will see this evening if our Summer Sausage is anything worth giving in our goodie baskets. I will post our Summer Sausage photo and recipe tomorrow.

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