2015 - Week 47 Cooking Results

Buttermilk Pancakes

Delayed until today.

Andouille Mac & Cheese

Clearly I modified this a bit, (especially the cooking method), but I really like how this came together.  A little bit more flavor, a little bit more then just mac and cheese (it includes vegetables!).  Nice spice.  good things

Saffron Risotto with Chicken and Peas

Adjusted here and there.  This was made to accentuate the saffron, rather then just having it in something else. where the flavor might be buried.  It turned out pretty well.  I was pretty happy.

Baked Four Cheese Spaghetti

So something like this, when you use quality cheese, turns expensive, really quickly.  Yep...very very quickly.  Anyways, I added a layer of cooked sausage to the middle layer of this, but this was really quite good (excluding the cost).

Baked Potatoes

Fried up some bacon, topped with some cheese a bit of sour cream.  Not super healthy but super easy.  I believe I took a nap during most of the process.

Thanksgiving 2015 (On Sunday!)


  • Carrots, Celery, Cornichons - Friday
  • Classic Cheddar Cheese Ball - Friday
  • Underground Meats Summer Sausage - Do on day of, when preparing snack tray
  • Crackers (Bought variety, buying another batch still)



  • Roasted Turkey, with deliciousness added, start defrost on 11/21 (done), Start brine on Thursday 11/26 evening.  all 18.55# of turkey (18.55 * ~15 minutes / pound = ~278 minutes = 4.6 hours = Service at 1, turkey resting start at 12:30, Turkey in oven 7:54 AM.
  • Gravy
  • Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (Sunday, stove top (at times 2 burners)) - use combination of bought heritage potatoes and purchased (costco) yellow potatoes)
  • Port Cranberry Sauce - Sometime during the week before
  • Sweet Potato Casserole with Bacon Brown Sugar Topping - start Saturday, finish Sunday in stove while turkey is resting
  • Bacon Braised Green Beans - on stove top (start Saturday, Finish Sunday)
  • Cornbread and Sausage Stuffing - Cornbread made during week, Start Saturday, finish in stove Sunday while turkey is resting
  • Spinach and Feta Salad - while turkey is resting


11/22/2015 - Fixed links, updated with notes

2015 - Week 46 Cooking Results

Chicken Noodle Soup with Bok Choy (later in the week when it gets cold again)

This came together fairly quickly, however the problem with using ramen noodles is that, they are long, so if you are expecting to eat this with a spoon, as one does, it becomes difficult to eat long noddles.  This would be be fine if you had chopsticks and a spoon, but this way not so much.  Anyways, it still tasted pretty good, even if it was a bit frustrating to eat.

Pastrami Tacos with Mustard Seed Salsa (sort of)

yeah, I really just wanted a pastrami sandwich...  Made that instead.

Chickpea Masala & Saffron Rice

This wasn't as good as the effort it took.  I want to find another use for saffron to bring that forward more, for the sake of Shannon.  I think I can doctor this up a bit after the fact to make it more delicious to eat as a leftover.

Simple Lasagna with Hearty Tomato-Meat Sauce

This was a simple lasagna.  While I traded the meat mixture for all spicy Italian sausage, i kept the recipe pretty much the same.  It was pretty good, though probably not the best meal to make after work on a weeknight (I even started a bit later then I intended).  The Mozzarella was very fresh (as in less then an hour out of the brine by the time I used it).  Anyways, good stuffs.

Green Onion Sausage Pizza

delayed until today (got the dough started late, also didn't remember to take it out yesterday morning).

Why I terminated my membership, after ~20 years of being "inactive"

I was raised as a member of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly called Mormons, though they don't necessarily prefer that term).  All along the way I had doubts, even as I was selected for youth leadership roles, I had doubts.  People would describe the feeling that one would get when they supposedly communed with the divine.  I never felt this feeling.


Not for a lack of trying, either.  So for me, it became a problem with several answers:

  1. The divine didn't want to commune with me
  2. I was doing something wrong (that I was aware or unaware of)
  3. The divine wasn't communing with these people (or anyone), they have just deluded themselves in thinking they were
  4. There is no divine

The problem is, trying to think about religion in a logical fashion doesn't particularly work.  At some point there will be a drastic leap over things that would normally discount, to be in that believer category.  For reason 1 & 2, it didn't really follow that even with "sins" that were committed, it didn't follow that for the entire course of my youth that this would be the case.  I could see how some "sins" this would follow, but my entire childhood?

For 3, there are clear evidence that there are mass delusions related to many things.  These can exist in the realm of the religious or even in the secular world.  The desire to want to belong and have that "special feeling" could really lead people to force themselves to believe that it has happened.  Since there is no external confirmation that anything has happened, it is easy to convince oneself that it does, if they really want it to.

For 4, it is near impossible to prove the negative.  Though when one thinks about the supposed properties of the mainstream divine, they seem to logically contradict each other.  Though some could state that the divine doesn't have to be limited by logic, but if they don't, then every thing that exists is arbitrary and meaningless (there are many that have argued this).

As soon as I was no longer forced to go, I didn't.  I didn't attend when I was at college, but would attend when I went home, again, due to force.

Occasionally I would vaguely join in activities or etc for the purpose of filling a social void (even though I didn't believe, having people that you were raised in a similar fashion around did provide some sort of comfort).  When the need was met, the desire to do anything with that group of people was entirely removed.

The final straw for me, was when I was confirmed in my belief that either there is no divine or the divine cares little in the affairs of the smart monkeys that we are.  I as invited to be an activity leader for the singles ward.  At this point there were several parts of the word of wisdom that I may have been in clear violation, so to offer a role, was clearly an action not because I was worthy, but to provide me a place of responsibility to bring me back in.  There are many many roles in the LDS church.  These roles give people a purpose, and when people have a purpose they are less likely to feel left out and probably more likely to feel as if they have a responsibility to complete these tasks.

At that time I completely cut ties.  No longer would I go to movies with this group of people or go to eat or etc.

As my opinions on life and how the world should work, kept being formed, I will not deny that many of these could be drawn back to what I saw as the positives of the LDS faith, however, many mormons don't particularly practice or espouse these beliefs and fall more into the political expectations of the more conservative parts of their faith.

As time passed, the LDS leadership took positions that had become more and more offensive to me as time passed.  These things usually followed forcing their beliefs into public law (against secular same sex partnerships).  It wasn't just LDS leaders that fall into this area, but many people support these position to bring about their religions' version of a Theocracy in the United States.

For me, since we live in a country which should have a clear division of the secular and the divine, if your religion tells you to life should be like X, you then need to work back your logic to prove that X is needed without any reference to the divine.  So if you cannot state that X should exist without relying on RSS (Religion Says So), then guess what?  It shouldn't apply to other people.  You can place limitations on your own behavior, but to place the expectations on others, you need more then just your religion.

At this point LDS leadership just placed a straight up dick move on people that want to believe and be active, but feel as if the LDS church is behind in the understanding in what the divine desires.  One could look back on the interpretation of the divine by LDS leaders in relation to black people and how it really was a very slow response to the societal pressure.

Up until this point I've been more then happy to wait until I don't have to have the particular discussion with my father (like after he passed away), but it's been my intention to officially leave for more then a decade.

For me, what really drove this final, official cut off, was my sister.  She has her own set of reasons and ideas, but frankly, if someone is going to have to take familial flack over this, I'd rather it be me, then her.  Frankly at this point, I'm used to it.  I already have a fairly distant relationship with large segments of my family, so adding another factor, is not something I have concern over.

Below is the text of my letter (edited to remove some personal details), that was signed, notarized and sent via certified mail:

November 12, 2015
Member Records Division
LDS Church
50 E North Temple Rm 1372
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150-5310
Member Records Division:
This letter is to inform you that as of November 12, 2015, I have terminated my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Please remove the name Samuel /removed/ Kurth (born /removed/ in /removed/) from the records of the LDS Church immediately as dictated in the General Handbook of instructions.
Throughout the years I’ve had strong doubts (even at a very young age) and severe objections to the doctrine, teachings and actions of the LDS church. I fully understand that my request:
1. Cancels the effects of baptism
2. Withdraws the priesthood
3. Suspends temple sealings and blessings
My resignation should be processed immediately, without any “waiting periods”. I am not going to be dissuaded and I am not going to change my mind.
I expect this matter to be handled promptly. Due to my termination of membership, any requests to participate in any courts of disciplinary councils will be ignored.
After today the only contact that I want from the church is up to two correspondences of this type:
1. A letter of confirmation that this document was received
2. A letter of confirmation that I am no longer a member of the church
If necessary I will seek legal counsel.
Samuel /removed/ Kurth

2015 - Week 45 Cooking Results

We went to a chicken harvest party on this past Sunday.  There was a nice line setup to take the chicken, kill it, drain it of a bit of blood, clean off the feathers, eviscerate it and final clean it.  Many of the chef people and people around them and around the Grade A Gardens.  I killed one chicken and eviscerated two (cleaned the guts out).  Brett lead the brigade of helpers, where they made:  Chicken Tacos, Chicken Heart Tacos, Soup, and blood sausage.  This was a wonderful experience.  The day couldn't have been more beautiful.  Weather was awesome, when the sun went down, we had a great view of the lights of downtown Des Moines.  I love living here.

Bangers & Roasted Tomatoes (I think these have tomatoes in them)

I may have exploded one or two, but this turned out pretty well.  Good stuffs.  I used some of my last Grade A Gardens potatoes and some Wabi Sabi Farm, both quite good.

Rabbit Bratwurst

so these were nice, but they seem to be missing the kind of core spice of what a bratwurst should be.  Maybe the coriander?  Anyways they were still pretty good.

Pork Burgers

little bit of salt, little bit of pepper.  Good stuffs.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Bok Choy (later in the week when it gets cold again)


Tuna Melts

Turned into tuna salad with cheese (was in a rush).  Good things.

2015 - Week 44 Cooking Results

Pasta, Red sauce (Splendid Table based), Meatballs (Alton Brown based)

Sunday had gotten away from me, and so at that point I decided that to go for a simpler recipe.  Then, since Shannon tends to work later on Mondays, I figured I could get it done in that time frame.  So I went to work.  i got the sauce going first, then formed the meatballs and started those baking in the oven.  Over all either recipe isn't particularly hard, though both can be time consuming.  After the meatballs were done (ish) I put them in the sauce to exude some of their goodness into the sauce.  Good stuffs.

Pumpkin Lasagna (farewell to the market dinner party)

Chopped up pumpkin, for this and other pumpkin goodies.  I was able to spend time off and on the day to get this done, making it not such a rush to do.  I also spent a bit of effort to time some parts that are clearly not timed right.  I have the data to update the recipe.   I didn't not however, remember to reduce some of the content in there, to make it not overflow the pan, however I did put a half sheet pan below the lasagna dish to catch any spillage, which I will make a note of.  I did not put on the top layer of noodles, since I didn't think there would be enough sauce left to let them soften up, and they'd clearly push the dish a bit further up.  We had this a lightly dressed salad and some of Joseph's Whole Wheat Quinoa sourdough...and a couple of bottles of wine...and some whiskey...

Good times, good food.

Thai Style Soup with Pork

Quick and very good.  Though I had to have Joseph bring me another can of coconut milk because I didn't buy enough (I'd like to claim that i thought I had one, but I'm pretty sure I just didn't add the 2nd one to the list).  Very simple to make.

Stir-Fried Pork with Green Beans and Cashews

I clearly messed this one up.  It just became too salty.  Now this could be from any number of reasons, perhaps over salting the rice, or the fact that I'm using full salt other ingredients, but whatever the problem was, it ended up being not good.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos

Friday I was feeling tired and didn't want to cook, but then I red the recipe and thought hey, that's super easy...and it was.  Good too.