Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Tallest in the Family

I guess it was a tender mercy that I didn't do a height check prior to Ryan's birthday.  He was able to celebrate his last birthday with the calm assurance that he was the King of the Castle and had the height to remind us all.  Whilst we are discussing height, I had always planned on marrying a lad who was between the height of 5'9" - 5'11".  That seemed tall enough that our future children wouldn't hate us, but still short enough that I could steal a kiss now and then.  Ryan is 5'10". Well... The castle crumbled tonight, and the Tall Paul of the family is now my 13 1/2 year old-man cub, Preston Edward Albert Smith.  He has Ryan by at least 1/2 inch, and I doubt he has finished his growing.  I remember when he was just a wee noodle... When we moved into our ward, they thought he was 16.

This sweater has to be good looking on some continent, somewhere, somehow.  Preston bought it with his own allowance, full price, with his parents and even the checker giving it a thumbs down. His High School friends apparently all give this sweater a thumbs up.  May he use that same courage and conviction to choose the right when the storms of adversity cloud up his skies.  At least he'll have a sweater. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

37 Today! Happy Birthday Ryan Edward Smith!

To think that my sweet husband is already one third through his expected life span is just amazing to me.  To think that we are celebrating his birthday whilst living here in Edinburgh is also thrilling.  The real highlight of the day, though, would have to go to the party kilt we purchased tonight on George IV Bridge at the Scotland Heritage Store, a real tourist trap.  I like getting trapped in Scotland.

Ryan rocking the kilt.  When we got into the shop and he discovered my plan he said "When am I ever going to wear it?" And I'm like "Dude, when are you not going to wear it? Your'e Halloween costume is now covered for the next 74 years."  Look at that Handsome Man! Notice the sign behind him, reminding him in his old age that it's a special day..."You're 37 Today!"

The front is flat, the back is pleated.  He didn't wear it like the traditional Scotsman, meaning he still has his pants on.

Look at the joy and wonder on their sweet faces.  They love their Dad, almost as much as he loves them.  We are all so lucky to have such a wonderful dad, husband, provider, supporter, friend, story teller, dancer, tenor, basketball fan, Korean speaker, architecture professor, pre-fab advocate, donut lover in our lives.  The world is a better place for having Ryan Edward Smith in it, and I thank Heaven everyday for him.  

After kilt shopping, we had some appetizers at The Elephant Cafe, which is where J.K. Rowling started writing Harry Potter (not pictured) and then we headed over to a highly recommended Korean restaurant, Kim's Mini Meals.  It was absolutely delicious. The kids liked it, and Ryan loved it.  

In honor of Ryan's birthday, we made tapas at school today.  It was delicious and fun, very low key and relaxed, basically how I thought every day at cookery school would be.  I made the spanish tortilla, the caramel oranges and the crouquettas jamon (deep fried ham/onion/cheese balls that have been breaded.) Even tapas love their fry daddy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We Got In!

Ryan here.  I received a phone call today at work from a member of the LDS British Pageant Presidency.  He told me that our family's application to participate in the first ever pageant outside of the US this summer in Preston, England at the temple grounds has been accepted.  We are in!  We made the cut! We will be in Preston for 9 days during the pageant and participate in rehearsals for the first bit, then perform toward the end of the stay.  Throughout we will participate in day activities, scripture study, prayer, and play time.  At night we perform on the stage and enjoy the excitement and anticipation of live theatre!  Even though it was an application process, we have been extended a call as cast members and will be set apart by our Bishop here in Edinburgh. So official!  The pageant will depict the history of the LDS church in the British Isles.

Mesa Pageant cast at the end of the show.

Some of you at this point might be thinking - what a lame waste of time, or why would you want to subject yourself to this treatment when you can just go and watch the pageant.  The reason for this desire I have for my family is three fold:  1 - while I was growing up I participated with my parents and siblings (minus my oldest sister Tiff who was on a mission) in the Hill Cumorah Pageant held near Palmyra, New York.  Later, in my late teens, I  participated again with my Uncle Brian's family in the cast of the Hill Cumorah Pageant - both times I played the role of a Laminate (dressed up as a Native American, apropos given my complexion)  Some of my favorite, most memorable and life changing experiences happend during those summers.  When visiting the pageant as a spectator with my wife many years later, the same feelings came back.  I tried to explain what it meant to me, but she could not grasp it quite.  I hope to be able to share with my children and my wife what I experienced in my teens.  And 2 - Lindsey and I attended the Easter Pageant in Mesa several times while in our youth with our church groups.  It is a simple and beautiful depiction of the life of Jesus Christ.  We both have fond memories of sharing nights with friends and family on those cold chairs in the great grass bowl of the Mesa Temple Grounds.  It is in the Mesa Temple where we were married nearly 15 years ago.  Finally and 3 - we visited the Manti, Utah pageant this past summer, camping out, eating the dinner the local ward provided and eating snow cones and ice cream.  The pageant was outdated, even doctrinally, but the cast seemed entirely enthused and families participating were all smiles.

A chance to spend a week and a half with my kids undivided attention on subjects that mean so much to Lindsey and I is something we just could not miss.  We are beside ourselves with joy!

Monday, January 28, 2013


I ripped the bandaid (or plaster) today and gave one of my instructors my book FEAST.  The pros are obvious: it's totally funny, filled with food stories, and really lets her in on the "real me."  The downsides are also obvious; my stories are silly, my recipes are probably (technically) rubbish, and it might not be in my benefit to have her know the "real me." Anywhoo, I did it, and threw in a Book of Mormon to boot, simply because my book quotes it all over the place. If I could only give away one book in the world to anyone, the Book of Mormon would be at the top of the list.  She vowed to read it tonight, my book Feast that is, but I'm not holding her to it. I can not express my gratitude properly for my instructors. I am a short, silly American who struggles with the accent, the kitchen terms, the metric system, the British terms for food, and my large family is constantly on my mind.  Basically, I am sure that I am taking more of my fair share of classroom attention than I deserve, and I hope and pray that my gifts of literature will be a blessing to her.  One instructor down, three more to go.

Found this on google image when I typed my name in the search box.  It was taken at Dicks market during a recipe contest where I won the bronze with my Beehive Bundt. 
The front cover of my book, still available on Amazon!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This means that I get to learn about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost, not only from the Holy Bible, but also from The Book of Mormon, and from Modern Day (as in alive right now!) Prophets and Apostles.  Two times a year the Prophet and apostles speak to the world, and their talks are made available on  Recently Ryan and I were reading these inspired words and came across an especially fantastic talk, given by the apostle Elder Jeffery R. Holland.  His talk is titled "The First Great Commandment" and below is my favorite part. Enjoy! 

 "My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: “Did you love me?” I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” Jesus said. So we have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift up, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it."
May we show our loyalty to God by serving and loving each other.  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Busy Saturday Adventure

Lindsey was interning at the Cookery School today, so I had the kids.  In true "Disneyland Dad" fashion, I was the coolest Pop ever and took them out to eat, to a park, to a castle, and to a sweet shop.  It does not get any better than that.  I suppose it does get better than that when Lindsey Joy is with us.  I had moments of joy, pain, fear trying to track 5 wee ones whilst taking photos and watching them scale stone walls and play at parks.  With Lindsey being a full-time student, it has made me so much more appreciative of what she does everyday to manage schedules, food, house, etc.  I was somewhere between strangling them and hugging them all day.  I did get to end the day however with my love on a date with a few other couples here from the states.  Among the banter on BYU, Utah sports, and talk of what we miss about the US - I could see my wife fading.  She is putting all her heart and soul into this education and ending each day exhausted.  I respect her for going after her dream, and am sorry it took me so long to make the space for her to do it.  Thankfully, tomorrow is the sabbath, a day of worship at church with fellow members of the church, family time, and sharing the gospel with the missionaries and those interested in the church at our house.

I dropped Lindsey off to intern today at the Cookery School as an assistant instructor for a short class at the school for beginners.  She usually takes the bus, but since it is Saturday and I wanted to see the inside of the school, she invited me to drive her.

The kids in front of the castle gate.

Kids on ruins in the cellar of the castle.

Simon in front of one of the towers.

Kids scaling the bank of the castle wall.  So dangerously endearing.

This dish swing was a hit!  I have never seen such a thing in the states.

Preston, Cal and Simon in the sweet shop.  My favorite are the toffee bonbons.  They melt in your mouth and I eat them until I am sick!

Outside "HolliPOP" the sweet shop close to our house.  It is next door to Preston's school and he goes here after lunch for a treat.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Traditional Burns Supper

Scotland happily celebrates the birthday of one it's most treasured poets, Robert Burns.  He wrote a lovely ode to haggis and every year at the Burns Supper, the poem is read announcing the superiority of the Haggis.   How lucky we are that our church congregation decided to celebrate Burns night.  It's all about the food, the poetry, and they held a caleigh afterward (Scottish dancing party.) The meal consists of nips (turnips mashed) and tatties (mashed potatoes).  We also had lentil soup and tiger bread, which I love.  It was a lovely kick-off to our weekend, and a great way to spend today.

Calvin's first stab at haggis.  Not a fan.

Owen's plate had enough on it to feed him for a week.

Will Annie take a bite?

Yes, she will!

They do a toast to the lads and a toast to the lassies.  I will toast to all the lads in me life.

Its also tradition to select an honorary Scotsman for the night.  How do they decide who gets the title?  Why, with a sword dance competition.

I don't even know why the other two dancers tried.  After seeing Helen Hunter do the dance, he set out to prove that white men can dance.

What did the winner receive?  This nifty hat....

and bragging rights... Lucky!!!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Dad

Happy Birthday to my Father, John Albert Holman!  I used to love to listen to him tell stories of his youth, his duck, his nutsy cousin (also named John), his practical joke during prom (taking his dates to a drive through, ordering an obscene ammount, and then just driving off, without picking up the order or paying, all pr-arranged with the fast food restaurant) That's just good stuff.  I thought my dad was exotic for having lived in Scotland and loved the stories about his mission.  It was strange to think of my Dad ever being anyone or anything than a dad, like trying to picture a teacher leaving school on the weekends.  I still play the abbreviation game, B.I.I.F. (Because it is fun.) My favorite Dad quote "A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush." I love living here in Edinburgh because even though I am still very far away from extended family, I think often of my father and it makes me feel closer. Yeah Dad!

Aren't we good looking?!
Dad, Mom, Hillary, John, Lesley and Me.
Taken at our Captain America 4th of July Reunion in 2012.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Battenburgh Cake

Two different cakes, one pale yellow and the other a dark shade of pink.  Apricot jam.  Warm marzipan. Icing Sugar.  Skill, Dexterity, prayer.  It turned out beautifully!  Today was simply insane in the kitchen.  Full throttle the entire day.  Pommes Mousilline, Leeks Au Gratin, Vela and Ham pie, and even Beef Bourguignon, made famous by Julia Child, and even more famous by the movie Julie and Julia.  As if that wasn't enough, today was also "short order omelet day" where the instructor stops you mid tracks and has you make an omelets in 4 minutes or less. Not a terribly difficult task... but I was asked to whip my omelette up just 8 minutes before everything (all of the above dishes, that I had been working on for 7 hours) was supposed to be ready to serve!  Wowsers!   It. Was. Awesome.  I threw together an omelet, didn't burn my cheese sauce, warmed my plates and still made my 4 minute (omelet) and 8 minute (everything else) deadlines.  What a day.

Battenburgh Cake.  A terrible picture of my lovely cake. If you accidentally cut one of the blocks too skinny, then you have to cut all of the others to match in size, with the idea that all four corners will match up perfectly.  I think because I have lived in two of the four corner states, and visited the other two, that my cake blocks lined up so well.  It was the American advantage.

The sauce alone for the Beef Bourguignon took about 1 1/2 hours to make.  All the other steps in this lovely dish also took forever.  It tastes great, but as you can see, isn't' much to look at.

The omelet.  Yum. Well seasoned, runny in the middle (don't argue with me!) and served on a warm plate. Chopped parsley on top, because I felt like it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Souffle Success!

Finally!  With a lot of effort and a pinch of luck and a good dose of prayer, with a tsp of miracle... I made the perfect souffle.  It was a rhubarb souffle, to be exact, which was surprisingly delicious.  I have never cooked with rhubarb in my life, so the challenge of working with a new ingredient, and attempting a dish that is known to be tricky (souffles) I was just tickled pink to have it turn out beautifully.  Souffles, when properly cooked, are actually supposed to be a tad runny in the middle.  They are also supposed to raise a few inches above the ramekin, and they shouldn't fall,even though slightly undercooked.  Rhubarb is naturally quite tart, so I used some caster sugar and some stem ginger syrup to sweeten it up.  Other dishes were made today, but none gave me such satisfaction and relief as my souffle.  It was a real answer to prayers.

Now this is just silly.  I took a picture of the rhubarb simmering on the hob because I thought the color was just so lovely.  But I totally forgot to take a picture of the actual souffle.  I guess you'll just have to take my word for.  It really was very beautiful.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Harissa Chicken

It was not another manic Monday today.  I was relaxed and calm in the kitchen, which is something that I hope becomes the norm.  Every Monday we are assigned a new spot in the kitchen where we will spend the week cooking.  We also rotate duties and this week I am assigned to be the one of two kitchen cleaners.  This means that whilst we are preparing dishes, I am also supposed to pause and make sure that community areas are tidy (like the area where most of the ingredients are kept, or ensuring that the counter is clean where the flour gets scooped.)  It might not sound important... but I am going to rock it. Clean and tidy are my middle names.  Just ask Ryan:~)  FHE tonight we were lucky enough to be invited over to a friends house for dinner, tamales, yum!

Harissa Chicken.  Tastes as weird as it sounds, and looks.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cooking Up a Storm

Today, though the Sabbath, was not a day of rest.  We kicked off the morning by having a visiting teaching breakfast brunch with 20: pancakes, potato casserole quiche, bananas and juice, and a lovely message on sharing the gospel.  Off to church where Calvin spoke in Primary and Preston spoke in sacrament meeting, and I visited each organization to discuss the new cleaning schedule rotation (who doesn't want to hear about specifics on cleaning toilets!?) We capped up the night by having the missionaries over for dinner, and Ryan rushing off to home teach.  No rest, but a wonderful day, none the less.

Preston and Calvin playing chess in Preston's room.  Preston has hardwood floors and his bed has wheels so basically his furniture is always in a new position.  Who doesn't love a sink in their room. 

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed.  Annie and Owen are BFF's.

Simon and Waldo with Spiderman slippers. Cool kid.

Pate sucree for dessert with the missionaries.  Yum yum.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let it Snow!

We finally have snow in Edinburgh!  The locals have been anticipating this for several weeks.  The kids were excited to report that the soft fluffy snow was falling from the sky.  I feel so very lucky that it has taken this long to locate me.  I am an Arizona girl at heart, and I prefer to wear sweaters (called jumpers here) because they are cute, rather than to avoid being cold.  It is (for now) only a few inches deep, and driving conditions were no problem.  Pictures to follow.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pate Sucre

Today was my very first written exam at The Edinburgh New Town Cookery School.  It feels good to finally get it out of the way.  It could have gone much worse, but there was definite room for improvement.  I have moments of really loving and also not enjoying school.  This was the first test I have taken in 12 years.  A long day.  A long weekend ahead with homework, and time with the littles, hopefully not in that order.

This is the beginning of a pate sucre pastry made with almond flour and was used to make my apricot fruit tart. Tasty.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bouillabaisse - I love that word.

Fish Day Again.  

Bouillabaisse with Rouille, declared the best in the class.  Good times.

Butterflied Sardines with Pine nut and Feta Stuffing and Parsley and Caper Salad. It is not easy to stuff sardines because they are small and have very soft flesh, which tears easily.  

Pan Fried Salmon Noisette with Lemon and Dill Hollandaise.  My right arm is now totally buff from whisking batch after batch of hollandaise since I started the course.

Pollock with Romesco Crust (dried peppers, bread crumbs and toasted almonds, etc... so yummy.) and sautéed potatoes.

At first I thought I would walk to and from school.  But it takes just shy of an hour each way, so I now ride the Lothian Bus to and from school.  It takes about 25 minutes each way, which gives me time to read the Book of Mormon.  I have had gospel conversations (some quite lengthy) with both the instructors and other students every single day since school began.  Reading the scriptures helps me keep things in perspective, reminds me of what really matters, and clears my mind before entering the battle ground of the kitchen.  One of my favorite parts of the day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fish Feast

The remainder of this week is apparently going to be a fish party.  Today i got the privilege of boning both a flat (sole) and round (mullet) fish.  Three cheers for the bendy filleting knife that helped me finish the job, though not without having to wear the badge of shame, known as the bright blue kitchen plaster (bandaid.) I just nicked my thumb about 1 mm, which was virtually painless, and as close to a tiny scratch as they come.  I pressed on, and finished my dishes on time, and with a smile.  

Red mullet with turned potatoes and a fish sauce.  Not the easiest fish to bone.  

Lemon sole with fried cucumber. The sole was delightful.  I don't believe in my heart that cucumber is intended to be fried.  95% of the recipes that we make are given to us, and we prepare as written.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Beef Wellington Day!

Occasionally, when you least expect it, things go exactly as you had hoped they would go.  January 15th might forever be remembered as Beef Wellington Day.  Beef Wellington is made of perfectly cooked steak, spread with chicken pate, layered with deliciously seasoned mushrooms and shallots, all wrapped in puff pastry that has undergone at least 5 rolls and folds, cooked to perfection in an oven. The potential for disaster was great, thus making my delicious victory all the more triumphant.  I am in my second week of school.  If I can gage the rest of my education on last week, then I will be working 50+ hours a week, and will be praying about 5 times more than I ever have.  What a blessing, a dream come true, sometimes a nightmare, and a high calorie feast all rolled into one.  Trying to ride the wave and savor every moment.

This is some random picture that I found of Beef Wellington.  I totally forgot to take a shot before I presented it to be judged, but mine looked way better than this.  True.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hot Cocoa FHE

Tonight we were lucky enough to have a guest over for Family Home Evening (on Monday nights our family makes special efforts to spend time to together, learn about the gospel, and have some yummy dessert.) Preston's youth group leader (Young Men's President) joined us for home-made lasagna, some jerusalem artichoke soup that I made in class today, and a lesson on loyalty (I got your back!)  

Hot Chocolate and ginger nuts (very hard ginger snaps) for dessert. As a side note, Bono (the Y.M. President) was the very first member of our church that we met in Scotland.  We went into the store that he works at to purchase cell phones, and we left with information on Sunday services.  He just guessed that a large family from Bountiful, utah was pretty likely to be Mormon.  He was right.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Day of Rest

Today was wonderful.  Our church starts at 10:30 am, which is plenty of time to sleep in a wee bit, have some breakfast and get ready for church.  I didn't sleep in because I was working on a talk I was giving in sacrament meeting, but I still declare that 10:30am is the best start time for our 3 hour services.   With my weekday schedule now taking on the appearance of a 50 hour work week (for real), my weekend time with my family was especially lovely.  It snowed for the first time this winter, but it was light and airy and didn't stick at all, which is just the way I like it.

Fact.  After several visits to various pizza shops, we have decided our favorite pie can be found in the Costco dining area.  Fine dining indeed.  This was taken after our Blackness Castle adventure on Saturday.

This is a shot of our trunk space after a Costco run.  It is literally about a 12 inches deep, with the reclining back seats eating up more inches as the food stacks up.  Picture 5 unhappy kids holding Costco boxes on the ride home.  Good times, and it is only a 20 minute drive.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blackness Castle

Yeah Saturday!  With Ryan being in D.C. Sunday-Weds, and me starting cookery school, we haven't had as much family fun this week as usual.  So off to a castle we went to get in some quality family togetherness.  Some castles like Edinburgh and Sterling have really fancy museum-ish displays, and others like the Blackness Castle we visited today lack the whistles and bells, but I really love their simplicity.  Today's gem was on the Firth of Forth, just to the West of Edinburgh.  

Owen posing like a seal on a castle barricade.

The dining room.  I want a table like this one that seats 20.

Happy Simon at the top of the castle.

Annie photo bombing Simon's picture.

Annie and I cuddling.  It was very cold and breezy at the top of the castle.

Preston and I, attempting an epic shot.

Calvin and Owen.