Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Blame Sherlock Homes for Fostering Anti-Mormon Information!

I have never read “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” before.  I have read different stories here and there, and have read “The Hound of the Baskervilles” twice.  I have even done a review on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in a book club when we read “…Baskerville…”  Since I really enjoyed as much “Holmes” as I had read so far, I decided to start at the beginning and read all of the stories. However, since I was leaving to go on a road trip, I decided to download an audio book instead. 

The first story in the audio book was entitled “A Study in Scarlet.  I was happily going along and enjoying the story when all of the sudden there was a drastic change in the story itself.  I thought at first that I had accidently hit a button and changed to a new story because the narrator was talking about completely different characters and they were in the United States heading West with a wagon train.  It was so bizarre.  I kept going back and trying to find the end of the Holmes’ story I thought I had been listening to and couldn’t figure out what this new story was.  Not only was the story in a completely different country but they were talking about 2 characters whose wagon train had been lost and everyone had died except these two, a gentleman and a young girl. 

The gentleman and young girl were eventually saved by a passing wagon train of Mormon pioneers, who were headed west also.  The Mormons nursed these two survivors back to health and asked if they wanted to continue on with them to Utah.  The man agreed to their offer and he adopted the little girl as his own. 

Well, since I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (the Mormons), I began to be intrigued and I thought, oh well, something crazy happened when I down loaded the audio for Sherlock but I will finish this story and then figure it out later when I got home and I could contact the book audio book company.  However, as the story got further along, and the little girl grew up to marriageable age, the story started taking on a disturbing twist.  It started describing the Mormons as an evil group or church who would not let people who didn’t agree with their precepts live peacefully among them.  It started to assert that church members who didn’t follow everything their leaders said could be killed. 

The story also distorted and INCORRECTLY described the practice of Polygamy that the early LDS church practiced.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stopped the practice of polygamous marriage in 1890.  Any church member found practicing polygamy today is removed from the church records and is no longer a member. (Click here to read the Official Declaration from the church 122 years ago: ).  

I realize that I am not an expert on all church history but I do know enough church history and have learned about the history of polygamy in the church, and most certainly it was not at all as Doyle described it in this story!  I could not believe it!  I was shocked and sickened when I thought of all the people who had read this story over the decades, believing the falsehoods.  I had never read anything so insane in my life.  It was so offensive to me that I turned off the audio and listened to something else. 

Almost immediately after returning from this road trip, I pulled my copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes off the shelf and went searching for the ending to A Study in Scarlet, thinking I had been listening to something else.  I thought there had to be some mistake!  What I found surprised me more than anything I have ever read in a book.  The story, A Study in Scarlet is divided into two parts.  The first part was the story that I had been listening to, and then later it switched to the second part which apparently a background story on a couple of the characters who were in part one of the story.  It just takes a long time before the two story lines are tied together, and the murders are solved.

Well, I was surprised and somewhat upset at this… When I thought of all the people around the world who had been reading this story since 1892 and thinking that the lies describing the Mormons were true, it almost made me sick!  I personally don’t have any ancestors who were asked to live the law of polygamy back in the 1800’s.  A small percentage of the early pioneer church members were asked to do this.  However, I know and have read stories about some of my husband’s early ancestors who were in polygamous marriages back then. 

It is my understanding that those men who were asked to take more than one wife at the time were men who could financially handle the responsibility.  Many men had been killed or murdered in the early days of the church, and there were more female converts than males.  This meant that there were many single women and women who were widows having families in the harsh frontier areas who needed someone to help support them.  If one was asked to take another mate, his first wife would need to give her consent to the arrangement or it would not take place. 

No man was supposed to take another wife without the prior consent of the first wife.  My husband’s family history records a great story about church leader Brigham Young coming to visit one of the family heads to ask him if he would be willing to take another wife.  Brigham Young found the man working out in the field, and asked him the question.  This man responded to Brigham Young that he should be the one to go and ask his wife about the possible arrangement.  So, Brigham went to the house and asked her.  The wife’s immediate response was to throw her hot coffee on him.  At this, Brigham Young left the home and went back into the field to find the husband.  He told the man that he should not worry about taking another mate, for he already had “enough wife” to handle and certainly didn’t need another…! 

My point of all this is the fact that so many people have misconceptions about my church and it is often because of lies like the ones told in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story that have persisted and have been spread for well over one hundred years.  Such stories are believed to be true even though they are in a work of fiction and the premise was based on falsehoods at the time they were written. 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

When I told my friend Kim about this incident, she found this quote in Wikipedia about this particular Sherlock Holmes story: 

According to a 1994 Salt Lake City newspaper article, when Conan Doyle was asked about his depiction of the Latter-day Saints' organization as being steeped in kidnapping, murder and enslavement, he said: "all I said about the Danite Band and the murders is historical so I cannot withdraw that, though it is likely that in a work of fiction it is stated more luridly than in a work of history. It's best to let the matter rest". However, Conan Doyle's daughter has stated: "You know, father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons." Years after Conan Doyle's death, Levi Edgar Young, a descendant of Brigham Young and a Mormon general authority, claimed that Conan Doyle had privately apologised, saying that "He [Conan Doyle] said he had been misled by writings of the time about the Church.  However, in a preface to Volume II of The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Loren D. Estleman noted the implied criticism of the Mormon Church. He states that the story was not controversial at the time of the story's release, probably due to the recent memory of the Mountain Meadows massacre and the small membership of the church.

In August 2011, the Albemarle County, Virginia School Board removed A Study in Scarlet from the district's sixth-grade reading lists following complaints from students and parents that the book was derogatory toward Mormons. It was therefore moved to the reading lists for the tenth-graders, and remains in use in the school media centres for all grades.  (Wikipedia)  

My message to those who think they know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (or sometimes called “the Mormons”), PLEASE look for an accurate source to learn the truth about the Church.  If you know someone who is LDS, for example, you could go to them and ask them the questions you have, or check out the Church’s web site .  You can write in questions and someone will answer them.  Or, you could also talk to missionaries of the church; not to be preached to, but to get answers to questions so that completely false narratives will not be perpetuated. 

P.S., I still love the Sherlock Holmes stories!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Yes, I Can Cook a Turkish Meal!

This past June, my friend Kim and I visited Istanbul.  We were going to England to take a class and we always try to tack an extra week on to that trip and go somewhere we have never been.  While in Istanbul we saw amazing historical sites, got a taste of the interesting culture, and did a LOT of shopping!  One of the most interesting things Kim’s arranged for us to do was to take a cooking class. 
At the class we were going to be taught how to make an authentic Turkish meal.  I am game for pretty much anything Kim suggests and I was really looking forward to this.  Kim has blogged about the actual class and you can read about it and see the pictures on her blog here.

As Paul Harvey used to say; “and now the rest of the story…”

I have been looking forward to share what I learned in this class with my family.  We get together every Sunday night for a family dinner.  I usually plan VERY easy meals because Sunday’s are so busy and there are around 18-20 of us each week for the dinner.  But I really wanted to prepare this Turkish meal for them.  First, to practice what I had learned and second, for them to get a small taste of what we had experienced in Istanbul. 

In preparing for the meal, I learned that it was easier to prepare it when there were 10 of us acting as a prep team compared to just me.  I also learned that ground lamb is VERY expensive! 

Anyway, I did most of the prep work on Saturday as three of the recipes stated that the food tasted better the next day.  So on Saturday I began by making the Imam Bayildi (eggplant braised in olive oil with onion and tomatoes), Sekerpare (semolina sponge cakes with hazelnuts) and the soup, Ezogelin Corbasi which is a red lentil and bulgur soup with dried mint and chili pepper.  I also prepared the Etli yaprak dolmasi, which is a beef and lamb meat mixture with rice and spices rolled up in grape leaves. 
I refrigerated it and waited to cook it on Sunday afternoon.  So the only thing I really prepared on Sunday was the second course which was the kabak mucveri; zucchini patties with herbs and cheese.  This I had to do at the last minute as it was fried and serve hot from the pan.  I did grate up the zucchini early in the day so the mixture took less than 5 minutes to prepare. 
The family came at the usual time of 5:30, I first had all the parents give the younger kids who I knew would not be adventurous, a plate of chicken nuggets and grapes that I had baked for them.

The unadventurous group
Then I had them start with the first course, the Ezogelin Corbasi soup with flat bread.  I should have warned them not to fill up too much on the soup as there would be four more courses but I forgot.  Some liked it so much they went back for a second helping. 
The soup was a hit all around including with some of the older grandkids.  The second course was then served, which was the Kabak mucveri served with garlic yogurt. 
Again, it was a hit with everyone, but I forgot to remind them that there were still three courses left.  Then, I served the Imam Bayildi.  This, they were a bit wary of.  I promised them that I myself had been skeptical. 

I have never liked eggplant and I have tried it several different ways, but this way I had loved it!  The recipe explains that the name literally means “Imam fainted with joy” because that is what happened when he tasted it for the first time.  So they tried it.  Most of them liked it…somewhat, but probably would never want to have it again.  I couldn’t get any of the grandkids to even try this one.  Oh well, you can’t win them all, and this was the one I was expecting them to not to like, but I thought it was good! 
We quickly moved on to the main course and this was where they realized they shouldn’t have filled up on courses one and two.  The Etli yaprak dolmasi (dolma’s for short) were perfect. 
Not the best picture, but I had assigned the potography to someone else, but you get the idea. 
They had been cooking while all the rest was going on.  Some of the adults (ummm…David) didn’t want to eat them in the grape leaves like they were suppose to, but everyone really liked them.  They had them with the tomatoes and with the garlic yogurt left over from the kabak mucveri.  Because they were so full, I really had a lot of dolma’s left over but I felt good that so far they liked 3 of the 4 dishes I had prepared. 

For dessert we had the Sekerpare, which everyone loved, even the grandkids who didn’t try any other Turkish course. I also had purchased some pistachio baklava from the international store in Tempe AZ, called Haji Baba’s.  It was a great store and had many foods and food products from all over the Mediterranean and Middle East.  Baklava was sold everywhere so I felt authentic having it also.  As a bonus, I opened a box of apple tea that I had purchased in Istanbul and brought home and everyone that tried it loved it!

So I completed my task.  I was able to prepare all the dishes we learned to make in the class, and the family liked almost all of it!  I felt it was a success.  I was able to freeze the extra dolma’s for future meals.  If you would like a copy of these great recipes, leave your email and I will send them to you.  AND if you are ever in Istanbul, try taking a class at Cooking Alaturka.  It was a fun experience.  Thank you to the owner, Eveline, and her chef Feyzi.  They were great instructors!  The entire evening brought back happy memories of Istanbul for me. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Words with friends 

OK I have a huge complaint!  I love playing Scrabble.  It is my all time favorite game.  I don’t always win, but I love words!  Hearing words, learning new words and reading words!  As Hamlet said…”words, words, words…” (a2s2).  So when I got a Kindle, I was thrilled to find a Scrabble game on it that I could play with the computer.  I hate to brag but my winning percentage is 90% against the computer.  But what I want to talk about is an app I have on my phone called “words with friends”. 
“Words with Friends” is much like Scrabble.  The board is configured differently, and some of the acceptable words are different from Scrabble but that is about the only 2 differences.  Right now I have 6 games with different friends and family going on.  I love it!!!  However…
I recently found out that a certain person I was playing with was using a dictionary!  How unfair is that????  He…I mean “they” didn’t feel this was cheating!  How I caught h…them was, the words that h…they were playing were words I had never seen or heard of!   Words like:  gooral (can’t even find this one on, but it means the same as goral: which is a type of goat antelope in the Himalayas), and yclept (verb, a past participle of clepe). 

When that second word came up I asked h…them what it meant and he said he didn’t know that he had just found it in the dictionary!  I was shocked!  This is a highly educated person who has played Scrabble with me many times and h…they insisted it wasn’t against the “words with friends” rules.  He even found their rules on line and emailed the link to me to prove it.  Well he was right, it wasn’t in the rules BUT, anyone would know that if you are using a dictionary, it is unfair…right?  I refused to finish the game until they promised to stop.  Otherwise, I would just go back to playing with the computer on my Kindle! 

Now did I overreact?  I don’t think so but they felt I had.  I want to see what you all think.  Even if you haven’t played it before, what do you think? If you say “yes” ,  I will know you are one of those who are cheating and using dictionaries against their opponents!  So either way you lose! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London-Madame Tussaud's!

I know it is corny, but…

I recently returned home from a 3 week trip to Istanbul and England.  My friend Kim and I had planned this trip for over a year.  Kim planned all the Istanbul part and I took the easy part and planned some of the England part.  One of the weeks in England was spent at Oxford taking a class.  I will talk about that in another post.  But I am going to start at the end of the trip with our stay in London.  I have to go back a couple of years though to preface why our visit to Madame Tussaud’s was so exciting for me. 

In the summer of 2010, Kim and I had been in London and the one place I told her that I had to visit this trip was Madame Tussaud’s.  I had been there before but I had recently found out that one of my favorite Bollywood actors, Shah Rukh Khan, had had his statue added to the small group of Indian movie stars and I had to go see it!  She was a good sport and went but when we got there we couldn’t find his statue anywhere and when we asked, I was informed that it was on loan to the Los Angeles CA Madame Tussaud’s.  It had been sent in conjunction with the opening of his movie “My Name Is Khan” earlier that year.  I was VERY disappointed...
Disapointed in 2010
...but I also remembered that my husband and I would be visiting LA a couple of months later so, my photo shoot with SRK would have to wait.
Fast forward to September and Bruce and I were in LA and went to the museum on Hollywood Blvd. and this time I checked before buying tickets to see if SRK was still there.  The attendant had to check with the manager but I was sadly informed that his statue had just been sent to the NYC 2 weeks earlier.  My hopes were dashed.  As much as I love his movies, I was not going to make a special trip to NYC chasing down his statue! 

Now 2 years later, we are on a visit again and I scheduled in advance tickets to go to Madame Tussaud’s.  I am even more excited this time because 2 other of my favorite Indian actors had been added since 2010 so I had really high hopes for this time! 

We arrived just as they opening and the line was already quite long but we didn’t have to wait more than fifteen minutes.  We didn’t stay long in the “movie star” room because most of them were the same as last time but the two I did stop at were Colin Firth (YUM!) and Daniel Radcliff (for the grandkids…of course). 

My Favorite...Shah Rukh Khan
Then we hurried on to find my Bollywood favs and find them we did! Their collection is growing. They have six in total now. I was in heaven to say the least! 

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Hrithik Roshan

Madhuri Dixit

And one more of Shah Rukh Khan

Amitabh Bachchan(from 2010 trip)
Salman Khan(also 2010)

Now they need to get just a few more and here are my requests:   Aamir Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Madhaven, Shahid Kapoor, and Juhi Chawla for starters...then...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An Easy, Cool, and Delicious Summer Treat

I’m home!!!!

I recently got home from a trip to Europe.  Well I guess I could include Asia in that because we went to Istanbul and it is technically on two continents so…  I digress.  When my friend Kim (one of the best travel partners next to besides husband), and I visited Chatsworth.  I had wanted to visit here for years and we finally got it on the trip itinerary.  We traveled up from Stoke on Trent to get there and arrived right at lunch time. 
Me, outside Chatsworth.  The home that was Jane Austen's inspiration for Pemberely
We decided to have lunch before heading into tour the house and grounds.  Our lunch was delicious but I can’t remember what it was.  What I DO remember is the dessert.  Kim had always wanted to try Eton Mess so she got some to try.  I had heard of it but didn’t know what it was.  Well she thought it was wonderful and asked me to try it and I did and it was heavenly!  It was a cool, sweet, and refreshing treat! 
This picture dose not do this yummy treat justice.  You are just going to have to trust me on this one. 

Since we have got home, we have both tested it out on our families at dinners and it has been a hit.  Especially when it is hot in Arizona, a cool dessert is wonderful!  Here is the recipe I used.  I don’t know the one Kim used but I will compare it sometime and let you know. 

Eton Mess (Serves 6)
6 oz (175 g) golden granulated sugar
3 large egg whites

 (*note- the above ingredients are to make the meringue.  I just used store bought meringues already made.  They came in 7 ounce containers holding approximately 28 cookies.  For this recipe you would need about 4 oz. or about 20 cookies.)

1 lb (450 g) fresh strawberries, hulled

1 rounded T powdered sugar
1 pint (570 ml) heavy whipping cream

To make meringue:
First, have the caster sugar measured out ready, then place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Add the caster sugar, about a tablespoon at a time and continue to whisk (beat) until each T of sugar has been thoroughly whisked in. Now take rounded dessertspoonfuls of the mixture and place them in rows on a lined baking tray (sheet) (I use either parchment or brown paper). Place the tray in the 250-275 degree oven on the centre shelf, and leave the meringues there for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven to dry out overnight, or until the oven is completely cold.
Begin here if using store bought meringues: 

When you’re ready to make the pudding, chop half the strawberries and place them in a blender together with the powdered sugar. Whiz the whole lot to a puree, then pass it through a nylon sieve to remove the seeds (I don’t do this). Now chop the rest of the strawberries and whip up the double cream to the floppy stage.
All the above can be done in advance, but when you are ready to serve, break up the meringues into roughly 1 inch pieces (I actually do this ahead of time, also). Place them in a large mixing bowl, add the chopped strawberries, then fold the cream in and around them. After that, gently fold in all but about 2 T of the puree to give a marbled effect. Finally, pile the whole lot into a serving dish, spoon the rest of the puree over the surface and serve as soon as possible.

P.S. Everyone I’ve served this to has loved it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Hectic Summer

I just wanted my faithful readers to know that I probably will not be posting for the next couple of months as I am going to be quite busy with family "stuff".  It is all good but it will be consuming all my time.  I hope to start up again in mid July.  Have a great summer! 
ps-  If I do find a few extra minutes, and I have something major on my mind, don't be surprised if you hear from me after all! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy 448th Birthday William Shakespeare!!!

Well, it is finally here.  Today is William Shakespeare’s 448th Birthday.  Each year I have a fun Elizabethan dinner party for my family to commemorate Shakespeare’s work and I wanted to share the menu, recipe’s, and a few pictures of this years  with you! 
We always have it outside so the party will have a more pastoral feel to it.  However, here in Arizona, Mother Nature decided to have our first 100°+ days this weekend and on Saturday, when we had the dinner, the temps reached 104°!  Did this deter us?  NO!  By the time we began at 6 pm it was actually quite a pleasant 94°.  I had everything pretty much set up in the morning and had been cooking most of Friday and finished up on Saturday morning so I was ready to party. 

Various activity stations

Anyway, the set up is always fun.  I have one display table with books and posters so the family can learn about Shakespeare and his career as a playwright.  Then I have several activities prepared for the kids to keep them occupied between the seven courses of the dinner. 

This year I added a large castle and a life size cutout of the birthday boy that they could have their picture taken with him if they chose to.  Some of these activities are; ink and quill pen to write their own poems, making a family or personal coat of arms, creating a sentence using Elizabethan words, putting on a puppet show, but the favorite activity is always the sword fighting. 

Grace performing a puppet show for our jester Charlie

James working on his award winning sentence "Methinks that vile wench doth envy thy bawdy codpiece"
Emma and Bella composing a sonnet
Preston, Harrison, and Charlie having a sword fight and Evelyn coming out of the castle.

For the meal, I love to dress up in my “wench” costume and serve it to my guests.  Here is the menu we had this year: 

Cheese curds, sliced apples and grapes

Shepherd’s Loaf

Mushy Pea soup

Boiled Artichokes in butter

Jello Aurantia

Onion Stuffed Cornish Games Hens


Smoked Turkey legs

Broiled Herbed Potatoes

Sticky Toffee Pudding with fresh cream

Ale (carbonated apple juice) or Whyte Grape Juice

The great thing about this menu is that, as I mentioned above, all of it can be prepped in advance. 
My "Sisters"  Kim, Ellen and Tammy

Cooper and Jackson crossing swords
Kim drinking a toast to the birthday boy!

My great assistant serving wench Bella

Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal but I really got raves about the Smoked Turkey legs which was a new recipe I found online by one of my favorite chefs, Bobby Flay.  Here is the recipe: 

Smoked Turkey Legs

Recipe courtesy Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Prep Time: 30 min

Inactive Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 4 hr 0 min

Serves:  6 servings  (I had 24 drum sticks so I 4 x’s the recipe)


  • 6 turkey legs
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Dry Rub, recipe follows
  • Mop, recipe follows
  • Your favorite BBQ Sauce, as needed, (recommended: North of the Border Chipotle BBQ Sauce)


Several hours before planning on barbecuing, loosen the skin on the turkey legs by running your fingers under it as far as possible without tearing the skin.

Combine the Worcestershire sauce and the oil. Coat your fingers with the mixture and rub really well into the turkey legs, getting as much as you can under the skin. Sprinkle the dry rub over the skin, liberally rubbing into the turkey legs and under the skin. Place the legs in plastic bags and refrigerate.

Prepare the smoker for barbecuing, bringing the temperature to 200 to 220 degrees F. Remove the turkey legs from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Re-warm the mop mixture over low heat.

Transfer the turkey legs to the smoker. Cook until the legs are very tender and the juices run clear, about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Mop the legs at 45-minute intervals in a wood-burning pit, or as appropriate for your style of smoker. Serve the legs hot, to be eaten with your fingers, with a side of barbecue sauce.

Dry Rub:
1/4 cup chipotle seasoning, ( I used  ground chipotle pepper)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons mild dried ground red chili or paprika
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ Sauce, (recommended: North of the Border Chipotle Barbecue Sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Combine the mop ingredients in a small saucepan and warm the mixture over low heat.
*(to simplify, I just used a plain chipotle BQ sauce from the store, and it was wonderful!)

Sticky Toffee Pudding with butterscotch syrup and cream...YUM!!!!!
We had a great time together and my family, even though they are not huge Shakespeare fans like I am love to have this celebration each year and maybe it will convert some of them eventually!