Sunday, April 27, 2008

One Year Anniversary

This is a tribute to my wife of one year. Deb and I were married on 28 April 2007, in the Boise, Idaho temple. Apparently we picked the right year to get married on April 28th: one of my aunts wrote saying that Boise hasn’t yet thawed out this year so we couldn’t have had a nice outdoor reception as we did.

The past year has been tremendous. Deb and I have grown closer each day. I’ve heard many times from other young couples that the first year of marriage is the most difficult to get through. I haven’t had a second year with Deb to compare to the first, but I don’t feel that it has been very difficult at all. We are, as Deb’s mom once said, two peas in a pod.

Soon after our wedding day, Deb and I were plunged back into classes at Brigham Young University. But that didn’t prevent us from spending time with each other. We hiked to the tops of mountains, spent time with family and friends, went to friends’ weddings, and worked overtime trying to get one of our best friends to marry Deb’s older sister, which actually happened!

The best part is I get to repeat this yearly ritual of celebrating anniversaries with Deb ad infinitum—forever. The promise of a temple wedding is that our marriage will endure for eternity if we keep God’s commandments. There is no ‘till death do us part’ in a temple wedding.

Jesus Christ said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:4-5) And Paul said, “…Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:11)

I love my wife with all my heart. I couldn’t imagine spending decades of happiness together only to experience divorcement upon dying. I had a rough enough time being separated from her for a few days when she went to hike Mount Ranier last August.

To Deb I dedicate this poem written by my great-grandfather Edwin:

When I go to bed at night,
I reach out my window
And pick a Twinkling Star
And crush it in my hand
And sprinkle it on my closed eyelids,
And what do you think?
I dream of you.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kopai Koko, Take One!

The other night I decided to try my hand at making kopai koko--flour dumplings in chocolate sauce. Sounds delicious? Well, it is. It was often served to us for breakfast in Samoa.

The only problem was I didn't have all the stuff I needed to make a true Samoan kopai koko. My primary ingredient deficiencies were Samoan koko--cocoa--and coconut milk.

Cocoa in the pod, on the tree.

A researcher wrote in the 1950s,

[Samoans] are very fond of...koko.... [Cocoa] beans are taken out of the pods and dried in the sun on mats. They are then roasted on an iron sheet suspended over hot coals; they are constantly turned and when they appear dark brown and crisp, the husk is removed by hand and the beans are ground to a paste with a stone pestle in a tanoa [tu'i] koko (wooden mortar). The drink is prepared by mixing the paste with boiling water and sugar.... Keesing (1952) says that koko drink was probably prepared for the first time in the 1920’s. The method of preparation appears to be a Samoan invention. (Holmes, S. A Qualitative Study on Family Meals in Western Samoa with Special Reference to Child Nutrition. British Journal of Nutrition, 1954;8(3):223-39)

Samoan koko, or koko Samoa as it's called, cannot in any way be likened to Swiss Miss or Stephen's hot chocolate. The two types of cocoa bear no resemblance to each other beyond the fact that they are drunk warm to hot.

Inside the cocoa pod.

Non-Samoans either love or hate koko Samoa. For those who are used to it, koko Samoa provides a nice respite, a convenient beverage during casual conversation. But for some, it's too strong, too filled with bean grounds, penukoko, and too hot in Samoa to ever think of drinking something which is traditionally served only 3°F cooler than boiling.

For kopai koko, the ingredients are simple enough: flour, water, sugar, koko (I used Hershey's Special Dark Dutch Processed baking cocoa), and coconut milk (alas, I didn't have any).

Cocoa beans, not roasted.

Mix the flour with just enough water to make a dough. Heat water in a large pot until it lightly boils. With a spoon, make small dough balls and put them into the hot water. When the dough is cooked, it will float; then mix in the koko, sugar, and coconut milk to taste. Let the mix cook on medium to medium high for a good while to evaporate some of the water, stirring occasionally. Tausami loa! eat!

The other night I just winged it, so I can't give exact measurements of all the ingredients, but as I perfect the process, I'll post the recipe specifics.

The finished product

Friday, April 18, 2008

Banana Napalm

After suffering from periodic, spasmodic cravings for a particular Samoan dish, suafa'i, or banana soup, which craving was only sporadically appeased, I went online and found a recipe. Through trial and error and a few modifications, my wife and I have gotten the technique down for suafa'i. Here is the recipe as we now like it:

6 very ripe bananas
1 qt. water
1/3 pkg. tapioca (8 oz. box)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar

Break the bananas into small pieces and place into a large kettle with the water. Cook the banana-water mixture at a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend the mixture with a hand-held blender until fairly smooth. Mix in the tapioca slowly and evenly so as to avoid lumps and clumps of rubbery goo. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Take off heat and stir in coconut milk and sugar. Tausami loa!--Eat!

Now let me relate to you the little bit that gives this post its name. This evening, Deb and I initially used the 12 bananas to 1 quart water as suggested by Cooks.com. But as I was stirring our suafa'i during the first 20 minute period, a large bubble popped from within the pot and hurled a lava-hot bit of banana goo onto my right index finger. It was HOT, but thanks to a modern sink with good and cold water, I will survive.

From this, Deb and I learned that the banana to water ratio needed to be reduced. Suafa'i that's too thick is not as palatable. But if you get the consistency right, you're in for quite a treat. Suafa'i--another Samoan favorite--easy to make, cheap, and delicious.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More Thesis

To give you a taste of the eclectic array of thesis topics that I've considered for the past year or so, let me list them for you.

The effects of an in-season training program on certain physiological variables in female collegiate volleyball players.

The effects of a vegan or lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet on skeletal muscle mass accumulation as compared to an omnivorous diet. (human study)

The same as above but as a rat study.

The effects of whey protein versus soy protein in combination with an acute bout of resistance exercise on the phosphorylation of
p70S6K, a cell-signaling molecule with a role in skeletal muscle protein synthesis. (human study)

The relationship between adolescents' perceptions of worth and their physical activity levels, percent body fat, aerobic fitness levels, etc.


In each instance something came up which prevented the feasibility of the study. My thesis chair says that is normal and that I have learned some valuable lessons in the process. I only wish I didn't have to learn those lessons in a manner that took so much precious time.

Currently, I'm working on the literature review for my latest (and hopefully final) topic: Developing a submaximal jogging treadmill test to predict aerobic fitness in adolescents. I can only hope that this one is a winner.