Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vietnamese Cuisine

Many thanks to Huyen Doan for cooking up a delicious meal of Egg Drop Soup and Vietnamese Meatballs, as well as her helpers, Jill and Nicole. The meatballs were served in sandwich form on sliced french bread, and the soup and sandwiches hit the spot for our large group of hungry LIFE members! The recipes for these dishes are included below. Huyen advised us to be very careful when stirring the eggs into the egg drop soup--only stir in one direction in order to create strings of eggs, rather than scrambled eggs. This was an especially informative and delicious program!

Vietnamese Egg Drop Soup

  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 can water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 bag frozen snow peas
  • green onion or cilantro for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • black pepper

In a saucepan, bring the chicken broth and water to a boil. Add the snow peas and salt, sugar, and black pepper to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2-3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Stir the mixture into the stock and let it simmer for a minute or two until the broth no longer tastes starchy.

Beat 3 eggs in a small bowl and very slowly pour in the eggs and gently stir in a clockwise direction until they form and turn off the heat.

Garnish with chopped green onion or cilantro and serve.

Vietnamese Meatball Sandwiches

Meatball Ingredients:
Sauce Ingredients:
·         1 pound ground pork
·         1 can chicken broth
·         1 large egg
·         1 tablespoon cornstarch
·         3 cloves garlic, minced
·         ½ tablespoon sugar

·         1 medium white/yellow onion (chopped)
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         ½ tablespoon cornstarch
·         8 ounces diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
·         1 tablespoon sugar
·         1 tablespoon cooking oil
·         ½ teaspoon salt
·         1 garlic clove, minced
·         ½ teaspoon black pepper
·         1 tablespoon shallots, minced
·         ½ teaspoon garlic powder
·         1 scallion, chopped

·         ½ teaspoon black pepper


Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Scoop 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture and form into meat balls, put each on a plate or tray

In a saucepan or wok, heat 1 tablespoon cooking oil and fry the minced garlic and shallot until fragrant. Then add the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, sugar, chicken broth, black pepper and tomato sauce. Cook until broiled and add meatballs. Cover and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
(If you want thicker sauce you can add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.)

To make a sandwich, slice the baguette halfway to open, put the meatball inside and use the spoon to break it into chunks. Spoon the tomato sauce on top of the meatballs. Finish with cilantro and shredded carrots.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Facts about the Flight Deck

It was an honor to have Captain Paul Marshall, aviator and flight deck officer, show us a Discovery Channel video of an aircraft carrier in action and present in detail its operations. Who would have known that this is the most dangerous place to work in the world and also the most exciting. To see the aircraft catapulted off the deck at about 150 miles per hour was amazing. Nuclear powered, the aircraft carrier doesn't have to refuel for 22 years. Captain Marshall was on the Coral Sea carrier during the Vietnam war. He told a story about how he was initiated onto the flight deck. He failed to shelter himself when one of the planes was catapulted off the deck and he had to hang on for dear life or be tossed overboard. The intercom then said, "Welcome to the Coral Sea, Marshall!" Captain Marshall was asked lots of questions about his presentation. One person asked why he chose the Navy. It was because his older brother was in the Air Force and he didn't want to be a copy cat (they were very competitive). And longtime LIFEr Karen Gaide brought her nephew, Austin, who will join the Navy in July. Karen said she brings multi generations to LIFE as she usually brings her mom. We all thanked Captain Marshall for his service to our country.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stunning Succulents, Brilliant Bromeliads, Dazzling Daylilies

Master Gardener Freddye Kelly dazzled us with pictures of her lush garden and creative garden decor. We also learned factoids about bromeliads, succulents, and daylilies. What Freddye especially likes about all three of these plants is that they are easy to grow and maintain. All three types come in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and textures. Daylilies do not come in true blue, so if anyone wants to be rich, hybridize a true blue daylily! And to top off this great program, we had a drawing for over 15 samples from the Kelly garden including iris, clematis vine, and cashmere bouquet. Thank you for your knowledge and generosity, Freddye. And remember, you are never finished in the garden, so enjoy the process.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

All the World's a Stage

Professor Jeff Wax of the drama department here at Lone Star College – CyFair came to LIFE and turned upside down our concept of what acting is. All you need for acting is a doer, a watcher, and a place. Thus, all the world truly is a stage. And I guess William Shakespeare knew what he was talking about. Jeff even invited two of us to perform! We are excited to see the college performance of the Pulitzer prize-winning play Dinner with Friends by Donald Margulies which features two of Jeff’s students, a professional actress from U of H and our own speech professor Patrick Barton. Here is a picture taken by Jeff at dress rehearsal last night.

Here is what Jeff wrote to his colleagues describing the upcoming performances:

Dear Colleagues,
Our production of Dinner With Friends opens this coming Friday in the Black Box Theater.  There are four performances of the play:
  • Friday, April 11th at 7:30PM
  • Saturday, April 12th at 2:00PM
  • Saturday, April 12th at 7:30PM
  • Sunday, April 13th at 3:00PM

THE PLAY:  Donald Margulies’s Pulitzer prize winning play Dinner with Friends, is a deceptively straightforward, rueful suburban comedy about friendship, divorce and the minefield of middle age; a play that taps into the collective psyches of those of us who came of age in the ’70s.” Gabe and Karen, and Beth and Tom are two married couples whose lives have become inseparable - raising kids together, holidays together and enjoying countless dinner parties - until the day one marriage unexpectedly crumbles. Suddenly the four are forced to investigate their friendship as a group and as individuals, and examine the relationships within their own marriages. What initially seems a rather conventional glimpse at the perils of breaking up becomes an original examination of the terrors of staying together. In short, Dinner with Friends is a modern masterpiece about the path you choose, the millions you don’t and the detours that make it worth the ride.  *Recommended for mature audiences only.*
Please invite your students to attend this wonderful production, which I am confident will provide the opportunity for a stimulating conversation in your classes. Dinner With Friends is so unassuming and beautifully constructed.  It examines the dynamics of old friends, allegiances, love, endurance and the differences we all have faced with crisis.  Flee or fight?  Seek comfort from another or seek solace in solitude?  Blow things up and start over or rebuild what is broken.  It’s about expectations.  It’s about defining and sorting through which ties bind and which ties don’t.  It immerses us in the drama of everyday life. We appreciatively and effortlessly take the ride.  
Dinner With Friends features a strong cast of four actors including our own Patrick Barton.  If you have never seen a Lone Star CyFair theater production I invite you to come out and sample the quality of our work.

I look forward to seeing you at the theater.
All best,
Jeff Wax

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Mason Jar Mania

What a great crowd of crafty community members today at LIFE. Dorrie Scott and Tracy Williams waxed poetic on the wonders of jars and all the myriad things you can do with them. They even created a Pinterest site called Mason Jar Mania. Carol Ann Maurer was particularly thrilled when she won Tracy's peppermint body scrub. Whether you paint your jars or just put a pretty lid on it, you will never be unprepared to give the gift of homemade goodness. You can bake a cake in a jar. You can layer a cookie mix in a jar. You can store crayons in a jar. You can make taco mix in a jar. You can drink out of a jar. You can sprout beans in a jar.

Many thanks to Jason Moulenbelt and Torie Van Wie for their donations to decorate our door prizes.

Carol and her door prize


Peppermint Body Scrub

  • 1 to 1-1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or other oil of your choice - grape oil is good because it doesn't have much of a scent)
  • 4-6 drops peppermint oil (or more if you like it more peppermint-y)
If using coconut oil, place in microwave-safe dish and heat until it liquefies (15-30 seconds should do). Combine oil and sugar--adding more sugar if you would like a coarser texture scrub. Add peppermint oil, stir and pour into your storage container. Enjoy your yummy smelling, skin-smoothing body scrub the next time you bathe or shower!

Note: Because you are using a product with oils, it will leave a bit of oil on your tub or shower. Use caution as this might make the tub or shower a bit slippery.

Tracy's Taco Seasoning (adapted from

  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1/4 t. garlic powder
  • 1/4 t. onion powder
  • 1/4 t. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t. dried oregano
  • 2-3 grinds of sea salt
  • 1-2 grinds of black pepper
In a small bowl, mix together ingredients. Combine with 1 lb. cooked ground beef and 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water. Simmer 5-10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Serve with your favorite taco toppings!

Tracy's Overnight Refrigerator Oats

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt (I use vanilla flavored--if you don't use one that is sweetened, you might need to add some sort of sweetener to taste)
  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries
Add all ingredients to mason jar. Cover jar with lid and place in refrigerator overnight. Go to bed. Wake up in the morning, open the fridge and enjoy your oats (either cold or heated in the microwave).

Note: After adding ingredients and covering with a lid, you can shake your jar to combine OR you can just leave them layered in the jar and mix with a spoon before serving. Either way works great but the layers are much prettier in the jar!