Saturday, October 31, 2009


Fort Hays State University Homecoming!!! WoooHoooo!!

A month or so ago I traveled across Kansas to Hays, America for Homecoming. Actually, I was headed back to Hays to attend a wedding reception for my good friend Stacie. She married this summer in the Pacific Northwest and then held a reception in her hometown over homecoming weekend. Here's the happy couple--now living in Washington state--(I'm so jealous.)

I left after school on a Friday and drove the 4 hours from Olathe to Hays. I drove through a rain storm about 30 miles outside of Salina and took this picture from my car. Thought it was kind of cool.

On Saturday I met up with friends, attended Chris and Stace's reception and then went to the FHSU vs. Emporia game. . . BIG WIN for the TIGERS!!!! Interestingly, one of my former students from ONW is the mascot (Victor E. Tiger) at Fort Hays. Dawna is a great kid and she's doing a wonderful job at my alma mater. If you ever get the chance, you need to check out the Tiger in person! Her mom Debbie was in attendance as well and here's a pic of the two of them as well as the scoreboard as I was leaving the game. (It always feels so great to beat the Hornets. . .YES!!!)

The rest of these pics are shots of friends and my "family" in Hays: basketball buddies, the Nehers, and the Timkens. Hopefully I can get back again soon.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Aussie Party

So, a number of weeks ago, my friend Shannon threw a little "Aussie Party" at her house to celebrate our trip to Australia this summer. In order to show folks what we experienced down under we put together a photo slide show and made some Australian delicacies for all to enjoy.

We decided to present our friends with scones (Rachel), meat pies (Shannon) and pavlova (Me). What follows are just a few of the pics from the party, including my 1st ever real pavlova success. (I even had a little pavola-making lesson this summer.) Oh, and I included the recipe in case any of you want to give it a try. :)

My mom talked me through the process--I called her 3 times in about 2 hours. Turned out better than I could have hoped.

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup of Castor sugar, also known as "Berry sugar"
1 tsp of white vinegar
1/2 Tbsp of cornstarch
1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cups of whipping cream
Fresh fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, passionfruit, bananas, blueberries
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice


*Preheat the oven to 275F (140C) and place the rack in middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with foil and draw a 7 inch circle on the foil with the blunt edge of a knife (don't tear the foil). Set aside.
*In a clean, medium-sized metal bowl, beat the egg whites with a clean electric mixer on medium speed. Beat until the whites form soft peaks.
*Gently sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, one teaspoon at a time. Don't just lump the sugar in the bowl and never stop beating the eggs until you finish the sugar. Your egg whites should now be glossy stiff peaks.
*Sprinkle the cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula. Add the vanilla and gently fold the mixture again.
*Now gently spread the meringue in the circle on the foil to make a circular base. Make sure the edges of the meringue are slightly higher then the center so you have a very slight well in the middle.
*Bake the meringue for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a very pale, pinkish egg shell color.
*Turn the oven off and leave the door slightly ajar to let the meringue cool completely. As the meringue cools, it will crack slightly.
*Just before serving, take the meringue out of the oven and remove it gently from the foil and place on a plate.
*Whip the cream with the vanilla extract until it forms peaks. Prepare the fruit by washing and slicing.
*Gently spread the cream to the top of the meringue with a spatula and arrange the fruit on top.

Here are Shannon's meat pies with a little Vegemite as a table decoration (because no American I know will eat the stuff):

And, here's me enjoying my pavlova with ice cream, kiwi fruit and strawberries. Yum.