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New Food Friday Flash – A Better Breakfast

17 Apr Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

I’m a big fan of PBS. They have a program; actually, it’s more like a documentary, they call “Breakfast Special.” Apparently, it was so popular that they now have a Breakfast Special II. The narrator and cameraman (and crew) go around the country at various restaurants that serve breakfast. These breakfasts are special! The interviewed customers rave about them. The program is light and funny. The breakfasts are typically huge, sometimes unusual, and very delicious-looking. When they stopped at a restaurant that served buckwheat pancakes (at only a certain time of the year), my mouth watered so much that the next day I ran out and bought buckwheat flour and made my own! Since sadly, I am not a breakfast lover, I decided it was time to make my own “Breakfast Special.” That’s why I chose it for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day. Sure, I love my recipe for Southern Rice Pancakes but it is time-consuming and the syrup and butter I put on them goes straight to my hips. A few times a year I’ll treat myself to bacon and eggs but I recently learned I’m allergic to sulfites. So, in an effort to eat a healthful breakfast and incorporate more beans in my diet, I created a recipe that I love and I want to share it with you. The following are the star players.

 

The Grits

Grits are similar to corn meal which is how you make polenta. Polenta is a southern Italian staple. I’m half southern Italian (and half northern Italian) so the chances of my liking grits, ironically popular in the south of the US, were good! Grits are white whereas corn meal is yellow. Grits are grittier and corn meal is creamier. I top the grits with a pat of butter.

 

The Beans

I’ve discovered refried beans. I don’t know why they’re called “refried” because they aren’t fried to begin with so how could they be “re” fried? In the supermarket, you can buy various types of refried beans, some with lard, some without, but I like the lardless Pinto refried beans. I doctor them up in a tablespoon of olive oil in which I fry half a chopped onion, one clove of garlic chopped, and about a teaspoon of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce (comes in a can) minced. I keep my Chipotle in Adobo Sauce in a container in the freezer and when I need it, I scrape it with a fork or whatever is handy and put it in the pan. This all gets sautéed until the onions are translucent. Then, in goes the can of beans. I mix it well, put it in a dish, and take as much as I want to go with my grits, saving the rest in the freezer.

 

The Egg

Any egg will do, but if you really want to spoil yourself, use Eggland’s Best eggs. The flavor and vitamin/mineral content is superior. I like mine well peppered with a little salt.

Beans, grits, & egg

A well-peppered egg on top of grits and refried beans

 

The Grapefruit

They say everything is bigger in Texas. Looking at the Red Texas Grapefruits I bought at Meijer, I can see it is no lie. They are wonderfully sweet! If you haven’t had a red Texas grapefruit, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Try some grapefruit

Texas Red Grapefruit

 

The Alternative

I made oatmeal instead of grits but put on too much cinnamon. Yet it turned out great and now I prefer it that way! Sprinkle on a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar and it’s a nice alternative to grits and better for you. Buy old-fashioned oats, also better for you.

 

I coat my 6-inch cast iron pan with a little coconut oil and spread the bean mixture on one side and the grits or oatmeal on the other. Top this with an egg, salt, and pepper and it’s ready for the toaster oven for 7 minutes at 400° for a still jiggly egg. Experiment with the time to get your egg the way you like it.

 

While this is baking in the oven, I am eating my grapefruit. I also make myself a large hot cup of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in and a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger. Sometimes I add honey, sometimes Truvia, a natural sweetener. It’s better than tea or coffee. Actually, it tastes a lot like regular tea to me but doesn’t stain your teeth and ginger is good for you.

 

This breakfast is divine! The beans are a little spicy, the grits or oats a little sweet, and the egg, well the egg is an egg and if you like eggs, it’s good! The grapefruit is sweet and juicy! Sometimes I’ll have a slice of Irish Soda Bread too with butter or jellies depending on how hungry I am and how much time I have.

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast for Breakfast

Beans, Grits, Egg, Irish Soda Bread Toast

 

Now I can join the people who love breakfast as long as I’m having THIS breakfast! Try my breakfast special, you’ll like it!

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An Episode of “Cops” Right Before My Eyes

10 Apr 662718

April 9, 2015 around 11:30 am, a Thursday. I decided to go to the library even though the weather predictions were for severe storms. My car needed a free rain wash so as far as I was concerned, it was a perfect day. That’s how it started out anyway.

 

As I was making the turn onto Rockville Road, I was barely able to make the turn because traffic was so backed up. I knew there must be an accident. Sure enough, after driving maybe 100 feet, there was a white van and a small black car that looked like it took the brunt of damage to the headlight area. Four young people were standing next to the vehicles, now in the center of four lanes of traffic, two lanes going east and two going west. Two of the accident victims were wearing red shirts. Meijer’s employees wear red shirts so I assumed since they were practically in front of Meijer, that that’s where they were headed until the collision.

 

Because of the accident, everybody was driving very slowly, including me. Little did I know what was to happen next.

 

Maybe 500 feet further on I saw a white car parked on a gravel area to my right in front of an abandoned building. There were two people in the car. I not sure why, but I kept looking at them. Something didn’t seem right to me. Then, I looked to my left and I saw a youngish guy, maybe 28 in a dirty, tattered undershirt, with dirt on his face, running in the turn lane area of the four lanes of traffic. It looked like he was running in slow motion. This wasn’t my imagination. The guy was stoned. He had a big grin on his face, laughing. Then I saw a cop car coming from the opposite direction of me with his siren going, and carefully cut across traffic right in front of me. I had plenty of time to stop, maybe I was already stopped, I don’t remember. He slowly pulled into the parking area behind the white car to my right, got out and yelled, “Get down f*cker!” Before I knew it, seconds, there were cop cars all over to my left. How they managed to get there so fast with all that traffic mess is beyond me! A big guy from somewhere behind me, ran to help the cops. At least that is what I presumed he was going to do and it turned out that he did. He may have been a plain clothes cop. Maybe he was an ex-Marine or a fireman. Who knows? I didn’t know what the heck was going on. He ran towards the stoned guy with energy that was palpable. A black guy in a pickup truck in front of me had also stopped and got out of his car and stood within feet of the action. I wasn’t sure if he was going to help the cops or cause trouble. I wondered at the time if he had a phone/camera. I was OK up until that point.

 

Then I thought I heard gun shots. This is when I got unnerved! A split second of panic! Should I get out and run for it? Should I duck under the dashboard? Fortunately I didn’t have to make any such decisions because apparently, the sound I heard was the stoned guy being tasered. He ended up getting tasered twice as far as I could tell, and believe me I had a front row seat. I heard him yell out, “Ow!” just once. At this point I grabbed my purse and dug out my mace. With all the crime that’s been going on in this city, as of a few weeks ago, I felt the need to carry mace with me. That’s a pretty sad statement of the crime situation Indianapolis has reached. I imagine a lot of the folks in the cars near me reached into their glove compartment for their gun. This isn’t Texas but they’re far from being gun-shy here. It’s not unusual to hear on the evening news that children have been shot. There are homicides almost nightly. Now that summer is coming, it will only get worse.

 

You know how so many people say when they are in a similar situation like mine, “I felt like I was watching a movie!” Well, I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie, but I wished I was watching a movie! It was more like I was IN this movie! And just yesterday, in a jocular mood, I was saying aloud to myself in my house, “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!” I’ll never say that again!

 

But I digress. When the lead cop of this scenario began talking with the black guy and the two of them seemed like they were joking, I decided all was in hand and put my mace back into my purse. Two cars behind me decided the show was over, pulled out of line not wanting to wait for the pickup to get going so we could all get going. I didn’t feel like I wanted to do anything rash but I would have thought that one of the cops would motion cars to now go on their merry way because in case you didn’t get the picture, traffic was at a standstill. After a few seconds, the black guy got back into his car, looked at me with a slight smile, and started up his truck. That’s when I began driving too and everyone followed.

 

What just happened exactly? I asked myself if I needed to pull over. Am I upset? Not to be funny, but am I going to have PTSD after this? I decided I wasn’t that upset. It was over quickly and efficiently. There were no hurt innocent bystanders. I don’t know what kind of shape the perpetrator was in because I didn’t see him put into a squad car. I think he was still on the ground under police bodies when I drove off. I wouldn’t think that such a skinny guy would need that much man-power to be over-taken. I’ve watched a few episodes of “Cops” and I do get the situation. I’ve seen how Tasers work on news footage so that wasn’t new to me although the sound of it was. And, I’ve even seen that lead cop before, where, I don’t remember; a gray-haired guy, probably with a lot of years of experience on the force. I appreciate him slowly driving in front of me and not veering wildly in front of me as I’ve had happen to me on another occasion by an impatient cop when there was no incident at hand whatsoever! In hindsight, this was all well-orchestrated. In hindsight, I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I actually do hear gunshots. That feeling of panic made me think of all the children in the Columbine massacre.

 

After these two incidents, the car collision and the dramatic arrest that played out in front of me, although I wasn’t speeding, I caught every green light on my way to the library. That had never happened before. Once in the library, I got on a computer, reached in my purse for my USB stick and it wasn’t there. I had left it at home. That meant that I didn’t have any of my passwords and therefore couldn’t do anything on the computer! That had never happened before either. What kind of a crazy day is this?!!!

 

So, you mean to tell me that I got up early, got dressed, touched up my roots with my new hair color stick, all to just witness a two-car accident and an arrest within feet of each other? What kind of an insane day is this? I could have stayed home and baked bread! As it was, there was hardly any rain, not enough to give my car a good wash, so that a bust too. (Just a little play on words for your amusement.)

 

Hours later as I was eating my dinner, thoughts of the arrest kept running through my mind. I pondered why the black guy in the pickup truck and the lead cop were so chummy with each other when everything was all over. I remembered thinking as he got into his truck that he looked as proud as though he were part of the collar. (The arrest.) And I was like, “huh?” about that at the time. I also wondered why they would let a motorist, and a black motorist at that, get out of his vehicle and stand near the action. Then it dawned on me. He was part of the “sting.” Maybe he was the lead detective on the case. I wouldn’t know half as much of this stuff if I wasn’t a fan of the Jack Reacher audiobooks!

 

Anyway, that was my day. How was yours?

 

 

New Food Friday Flash – Wildflower Honey and Honeybees

13 Mar Honeybee at work

All my life, I used clover honey in my tea and in any baking dishes or any recipes that called for honey. The truth is I never really liked the taste of it. One day, I decided to try Wildflower Honey. I will never go back!

Honey Made from Wildfloewrs

Wildflower Honey

 

As you might have guessed, wildflower honey is from wildflowers and clover honey is from clover, the annoying green that has invaded your lawn!

 

I have also tried buckwheat honey and another variety called golden honey. Buckwheat honey comes from buckwheat. I liked it even less than clover honey. Golden honey comes from Goldenrod. Golden honey has a lemony note and goes well in tea with lemon. The ebeehoney website (link below) claims that their customers who have allergy issues prefer this type of honey because “goldenrod honey is taken off very late in the season when goldenrod is primarily the only plant in bloom.” So, can honey be taken as a treatment to lessen allergy symptoms? Probably not according to the Mayo Clinic. Still the idea isn’t so far-fetched.  

 

Light-colored honeys like clover honey or orange blossom honey are higher-grade honeys. Dark colored honeys like buckwheat honey are lower grade honeys. This is according to Encarta Encyclopedia. Somewhat contrary to this is information from the website http://www.ebeehoney.com/HoneyVarieties.html which claims that darker honey has more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties compared to lighter honey. They also claim that honey variety tastes can vary due to rain amount, nectar sources, sunlight, etc. which all affect what flowers, plants, trees, are in bloom for the bees to collect nectar and pollen.

 

Why do bees make honey?

Bees make honey to feed their larvae (their young). They also make it to help them survive the winter months. It is similar to squirrels storing nuts for the winter. During the other seasons, their food source is pollen.

Honeycomb

Busy Bees Filling their Comb with Honey (sxc.hu NoShoes)

 

The honeybee is native to Asia and the Middle East and was introduced to North America by early European colonists. This bee is known as the European honeybee. By the mid-1800s, honeybees had become widespread. Today, they are on every continent except Antarctica. There are six other recognized species of honeybees: the Indian honeybee, Koschevnikov’s honeybee, the dwarf honeybee, the andreniform dwarf honey bee, the giant honey bee, and the mountain giant honey bee. (I wouldn’t want to run into him! Or, is it her?)

Bees

A mustachioed Bee and his Girlfriend(sxc.hu vjeran2001)

There are many races of the European honeybee. Races? That is what it says in my Encarta Encyclopedia. The most popular are the Italian, Carniolan, and Caucasian honeybee. How do you know when you’ve been stung by an Italian honeybee? When it stings you it says, “Batta Bing!” Just a small joke. Very small.

 

Africanized honeybees, also known as killer bees, are a hybrid of African and European races.

 

Honeybees exist in a very complex social community or colony. The queen bee is the only sexually productive female. She is the mother of all drones, worker bees, and future queens. She can lay as many eggs in a single day as her body weight, often exceeding 1500 eggs. She controls the sex of her offspring. Amazing, these creatures, aren’t they? No wonder they are among the most studied insects.

Beekeeping

Beekeeper (sxc.hu NoShoes)

 

The queen mates with the drone honeybees. The drones don’t do anything but mate with the queen. They are the equivalent to a stud horse or George Hamilton. Once they mate with her in mid-air no less, they die. They make the slackers of the office world look busy.

 

The extreme opposite are the worker bees. They are workaholics. They keep the nest clean. They construct the honeycomb. They defend the nest. They collect the nectar, water, pollen, and propolis, a gummy substance used to seal the exterior of the nest. They convert the nectar to honey. They feed the larvae, queen, and drones. They control the temperature of the nest. You would think this would tire them out, but no, they communicate the location of food to other worker bees by “dancing!” Uh-oh, I feel another joke coming on. This must be why the BeeGees wrote the song, Staying Alive! “You must be dancing, yeah!”  Anyway, in six weeks the dancing worker bees are dead. Would that be square dancing or the polka? Sorry, my dance card is full. Is Garth Brooks involved? You might want to think twice the next time you tell someone you are “as busy as a bee!” 

Tulips

Tulips Waiting for the Bees (sxc.hu gregav)

By now, it is common knowledge that honey is bees’ “spit.” Well, not exactly. It’s actually worse than that! A worker bee, called a “field” bee, goes out to collect the nectar from flowers and puts it in its honey sac, which is an enlargement of its esophagus. It regurgitates the contents into the mouth of a “house” bee that deposits the nectar into a cell in the comb and carries out the tasks necessary to convert the nectar into honey. Encarta doesn’t go into the tasks of converting the nectar into honey. Could it be any worse than what we already know? All I know is that it goes from one bee’s mouth to another bee’s mouth and then into my mouth. Yum.

 

Survival Issues

Wasps and hornets prey upon honeybees. Honeybees also fall prey to birds, cane toads, robber flies, bears, and the ferocious honey badger.

 

During the past 10 years, mites have killed thousands of honeybee colonies in North America. The mites live in the bee’s breathing tubes or on the outside of larvae and adults. Sometimes it seems like dust mites are in my breathing tubes so I can relate. Science is trying to develop tolerant strains of honeybees to replace the mite-susceptible ones. Menthol fumes can help reduce some mite infestations.

 

There are 20,000 species of bees worldwide. They are not on the endangered species list yet. If that ever becomes an issue, not only will we see a reduced sale of honey, but we will see a scarcity of such crops that rely on pollination to the tune of $10 billion annually in the United States.

 

Precautions

Honey contains a natural presence of botulinum endospores. Children under one year old should not be given honey because their systems are not developed enough to handle the bacteria.  Some adults shouldn’t eat honey if they are sensitive to pollen, celery, or other bee-related allergies.

 

Final words of advice: do the taste test to see which honey you prefer. When you see a bee, don’t swat at it, just get out of its way and don’t spray pesticides near them.

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Cooking Tips and Other Tricks

10 Mar Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea

With over 50 years of cooking and baking, I have come up with a few cooking tips that I have not seen mentioned anywhere else. I’d like to share them with you.

 

LEMONS

Here is a tip for fresh lemons that I learned accidentally! You know how lemons turn to mush after you had cut them in half and only used one-half? This happened to me too frequently and I was annoyed at how many times I would have to throw out the remaining half lemon. One day, since I needed a lemon wedge for my tea, I decided that instead of cutting the lemon in half, I would cut a wedge out of the lemon. Guess what? The remaining lemon stayed fresh until I used up every wedge cut from the lemon – well over a week. It helps to twist your plastic wrap tightly around the remaining lemon. Also, if the plastic wrap gets wet, discard it, tear off a fresh piece of plastic wrap, and wrap the remaining lemon. You won’t be throwing out any more lemons! This works with limes too.  I love this tip!

 

I had a cup of tea with honey, a lemon wedge, and a nice slice of homemade apple pie.

Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea

A Slice of Homemade Apple Pie with a Cup of Tea with Honey and Lemon

 

MORE LEMONS

What do you do with the remaining lemon when a recipe calls for nothing but the zest of one whole lemon? You don’t want to throw out the lemon. The chances of saving the lemon without the protective outer layer are not good unless you have plans to use it within a day or two.

 

One lemon without the zest!

What to do with a lemon once you’ve removed the zest

Here is what I do: I get a sharp knife and cut the lemon into wedges, put them in a container and then put the container in the freezer.

Zested lemon wedges in container

A zested lemon cut into wedges ready for the freezer

I use the wedges for hot tea or thaw out a wedge or two and squeeze them over fish. Actually, you can use these wedges of lemon the same way you would use fresh lemon. Another benefit of saving lemon this way is that you can remove all the seeds at the same time you are cutting the wedges. Works great and helps cool off a too-hot cup of tea!

Hot cup of tea with frozen lemon wedge

Squeeze frozen lemon wedge into a hot cup of tea

 

BACON AND EGG(s)

I buy bacon infrequently, but when I do buy it, I cook it all up either in my toaster oven or in a fry pan. I drain it all on paper towels that I line in a glass bowl. I let the bacon cool and store it in the refrigerator or in the freezer depending on how soon I think I’ll use it.

 

Then, when I want bacon and egg (only one egg for me) for breakfast, I get a heatproof plate, cover it with parchment paper, and sprinkle bacon bits on it from my bowl of cooked, cooled bacon slices. I crack an egg on top of the bits. I place the dish in my toaster oven, select Toast, add a slice of bread alongside the dish, and select the highest Toast cycle, which for me is number 3. When the bell dings, I leave the toast and dish in the toaster oven to absorb the residual heat while I’m getting other items ready like tea or coffee, etc. This makes perfect toast and a sunny side up egg with crispy bacon. Clean up is a breeze!

 

Any runny yolk stays on the parchment paper, not on the plate. I get just enough taste of the bacon to satisfy me without overdoing it, limiting my salt intake for the day. You would be surprised at how eating a couple of slices of bacon can make you go over your salt intake! I love this tip!

 

COLD FEET

Is there a woman out there who doesn’t suffer from cold feet? There have been times when my feet were so cold that it would take me an hour to fall asleep because my feet were so cold and no amount of blankets were enough. I complained about it to my doctor and he told me to wear two pairs of socks. That didn’t help.

 

I finally got the idea to wear two pairs of jogging pants or “sweats” around the house. This solved my problem indoors.

 

When I go outdoors, I wear a pair of long johns under my jeans. If you don’t know what long johns are (also known as thermal underwear), they are insulated pants, typically white, and relatively seamless, with matching separate tops that are made of a very stretchy fabric. Mine are 50% cotton and 50% polyester and made in the USA. You can buy them at Meijer and probably Walmart. I’ve had mine a long time and bought them when I first decided to go skiing. They are snug around the ankles and the wrists to keep in your body heat. They don’t show under your jeans. They are comfortable; you won’t know you are wearing them.

With this crazy, dangerous weather, you never know if your car is going to be stuck somewhere or you are going to be hit by a vehicle in a skid, so you want to be sure you are able to withstand the cold just in case you can’t stay in your car or your heater dies. These long johns also help to protect you from the high winds we’ve been having which make it seem even colder. I no longer have cold feet and in fact, I am as warm as toast!

 

Final words: double your pleasure by doubling your pants!

 

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How an Inheritance can Fracture Your Family

12 Nov DaVinciS

After seeing how inheritance issues have left my extended family with hurt feelings and relatives not talking to each other anymore, I concluded that adult children should be treated equally when it comes to an inheritance. I came across an article by Jean Chatzky  a best-selling author and an award-winning personal finance journalist and thought I’d share it with you. Below are excerpts from her article. It opened my eyes. She quotes several experts in the field. I’ve added my own rebuttals below each of her 5 steps. I added a 6th step.

  1. Can you communicate openly? According to Detroit area elder law attorney Mark Accettura. “Estate planning is not a democratic process. It’s really the parent’s wishes,” he says. Parents should give kids a basic sense of where they stand financially — always noting that the situation can change if more money needs to be spent on their own medical care — as well as clear instructions about whom to contact and where important papers are kept.

***

Me: As someone who majored in Communications, I firmly believe it’s a miracle that any of us can understand what anybody says. Seriously. Yes, some of us are better at communicating than others, but you better be prepared for that good old “perspective” not to mention someone’s life experiences to throw you for a loop!

Here’s a test. Picture an apple. In fact, draw an apple and jot down all the details of your apple. Did you do that yet? Good! There are over 400 followers on this blog. Guess how many of you will have the same exact apple details? NOBODY! One of you will have a red apple, one of you will have a green apple, one of you will have a small apple, or a big apple, or a sliced apple, or a baked apple, or applesauce, etc. That test was our communication only about a simple apple.

guitargoa

The Big Apple

Answer this question. How many families have open communication? Aren’t families notorious for having “family secrets”? Don’t get me wrong, open communication is a great idea. If you can accomplish it, you’re way ahead of the game. Also, I might add, do you feel comfortable about telling your children where you stand financially? Sorry, I don’t. I might as well post my assets on my blog. Haven’t we been brought up never to talk about “religion, politics, and money”? Now, nearing our deathbed (or not), we’re supposed to tell our kids about our assets? That’s like telling our kids what sex positions we like. Does my son know my basic financial worth? I think so. Who can remember? A better question is, “Does he give a flying leap?”

  1. Are you treating each child equally? One of the most frequently asked questions by anyone leaving an inheritance is whether they have to treat the kids equally. Experts say it certainly helps.

“If you want to minimize fighting, leave it as equal as you possibly can,” says Accettura. That applies not just to assets but also to responsibilities for settling your affairs. “When parents appoint responsibility they’re making a statement as to who is worthy, capable, who they trust. It’s a final statement and it’s irrevocable, so it’s important to be concerned about people’s feelings.” He suggests that anyone capable should at least have a small role.

***

Me: Ah, this is such a subtle thing, appointing responsibilities but Accettura really nails it on the head when he talks about “a parent’s statement as to who is worthy, capable, and who they trust.” How many parents take this into consideration? It seems minor, but it’s about as minor as a walk across a minefield.

  1. Did you leave the decision making up to one child? Leanna Hamill, a Boston-area estate planning attorney, has seen parents with, say, a $200,000 life insurance policy name their oldest child beneficiary and trust him (or her) to divvy it up among the siblings. Big mistake.

“If you want all siblings to inherit equally, put them all down as beneficiaries,” she says. If you have jewelry, art or other items to bequeath, leave a list of who gets what, along with a method for dividing up whatever is left so that people can take turns calmly.

***

Me: Suppose one of your children is a Financial Advisor. You should have that child be the beneficiary and trust him or her to divvy it up. Right? Big Mistake in my opinion! Put them all down as beneficiaries and follow the rest of the advice of Hamill.

  1. Are you distributing unequally based on what you think you know about your children’s assets? There are reasons parents do this — perhaps one child earns significantly more than another, and therefore needs less — but it can lead to resentment, which is why, Hamill says, many people avoid talking to their kids about inheritances in the first place. At the very least, write a note to go with the will, she says. “Leave something that says, ‘I love you all equally. Here is why I am doing the distributions the way I am.'”

***

Me: This goes back to #1. Communicating AND my two cents about perspective. Does the parent really know the income/savings of each child or are they guestimating? If you distribute unequally, maybe you better get copies of their income tax returns first! You might be surprised! And who’s to say that the child who has more doesn’t lose half of it in the stock market or housing crash, earthquake, flood, or whatever, 10 minutes before you die? All the more reason to distribute equally. The only exception I see to this rule would be if you gave money to one child while you were alive.

  1. A trust might eliminate some uncertainty. If you want to make sure your children use the money wisely, consider putting it in trust with a few strings attached. Many estate planning attorneys recommend distributing the assets in chunks (typically one-third at age 25, one-third at age 30 and one-third at age 35).

The thinking is that with maturity will come better financial decision-making. You can also include a provision that if your child is going through some sort of substance abuse problem at that time, the distribution can be held to a later date.

***

Me: Wow! They surprised me with the mention of a child having a substance abuse problem. What are the chances that the child will be substance-abuse free by age 35 or 40 or 50! Tough decisions, very tough decisions. Fodder for making the decision to have only one child or none! Or, spending it all on yourself or giving it away to charities! That’s not so far-fetched so I added a Step 6.

  1. Don’t leave your children anything. The singer Sting, formerly of The Police who is worth over $300 million, stated he would not be leaving an inheritance to his children. Other wealthy parents who share this point of view are Bill Gates, Warren Oats, and Nigella Lawson, just to mention a few.

Leaving and/or receiving an inheritance should be good for your mental and physical health, but it isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. Proceed cautiously.

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Happy Halloween!

31 Oct Pie pumpkins are cute!
Pie pumpkins are cute!

Would you like to be the pumpkin in my pumpkin pie?

This little pumpkin is called a pie pumpkin. It is the perfect size to make a pie and I’m going to do just that!

Make my day by not eating too much candy and making sure you eat your fruits and vegetables!

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Knee Pain – One Simple Exercise to Get Rid of It!

25 Oct X-ray of knee

I’ve had knee pain on and off in my life. Many years ago when I began limping because the pain wouldn’t go away, I went to see my doctor who was a Family Practice doctor specializing in Sports Medicine. He told me I was built like a basketball player (I guess he would know) and explained why I was having pain and what was going on in my knee. The patella (kneecap) was out of alignment because muscles on one side of my leg were stronger than on the other side and therefore were pulling the kneecap off its track causing a grinding motion. The exercise he gave me to do was so simple, I doubted it would work.

 

One key to make sure this is the correct exercise for your knee is this: if you have knee pain when you get up from a chair, this is the exercise for you. All other knee pain may not improve with this exercise. In fact, you could make the problem worse so be sure it’s that you have knee pain when you get up from a sitting position. Here is the exercise he gave me. It starts off very mildly with little weight:

 

Get a can of something, soup, kidney beans, corn, whatever you have in the house. Before you lie down or sit on the floor propped up on your elbows, fasten the can to the ankle of your leg with the problem knee. I wish I could remember how he told me to accomplish this but I can’t. Try a dish towel. Then, lift your leg up about 10 inches off the floor. Hold it there to the count of 10. Do three repetitions. You might as well do it on the other foot too since you’ve got the can and you’re already on the floor. Plus, you don’t want to end up with one leg being stronger than the other.

 

Do this exercise every day for one week. You should start to feel some improvement in your knee. You might even feel some improvement by the next day.

 

With me, I don’t think I felt any improvement so I called my doctor and asked him if I could use a heavier weight. He said yes. This is when I bought my first pair of ankle weights. They were 2 lb weights. I worked with them and that’s when my knee improved.

 

Eventually, I joined a health club and used their leg extension machines until I was using 65 lb weights. But I s-l-o-w-l-y built up to this over the years. It didn’t happen overnight!

 

In fact, I can’t stress enough how you need to do things slowly. Whenever I went to a new gym and got the free personal trainer for a day or week or whatever their deal was, if they told me to do such and such an exercise with 10 repetitions, I would only do 3 or 4. I did not want to be sore. If you are just starting a health club membership, you don’t want to be sore starting from your first day. It’s ridiculous that they always push you to do too much. It isn’t a race! You want to get in better shape with a minimum of soreness and/or pain if ANY! So, you go Monday and do 3 reps with the personal trainer. Then you go Wednesday and do 4 or 5 reps of the same exercise or machine and gradually build up on all the machines you like. Or, you may want to stay at 3 reps for a few more visits before you increase your weights. Listen to your body. Just because someone calls themselves a personal trainer doesn’t mean they know what is best for you! I’ve had some terrible, terrible personal trainers! And I can’t think of one who told me something worth remembering! That’s a pretty sad statement, so beware!

 

When I stopped using a health club, my knee pain slowly came back. So, I remembered the exercise that my doctor gave me to do and attached my ankle weight to my ankle. I did some exercises lying down and also the same exercise standing up and the pain left again.

 

My doctor told me not to be surprised if someday someone told me that I would need a new kneecap. It’s been 40 years since that doctor visit and as yet, nobody has told me that I need a new kneecap!

 

If you follow my blog, you know that I do a lot of different exercises: squats, kickboxing, knee-raises, weight lifting, Pilates, pliés (ballet movement), and let’s not forget mowing the lawn not to mention climbing the ladder. These all help to strengthen the legs overall but the weight on the ankle zeroes in on the problem area of your knee.

 

If you have increased pain when you do this exercise, stop. It may be the wrong exercise for you or perhaps you have too much swelling in the area and need to apply ice. The application of ice reduces the swelling and therefore the pain. My doctor told me to get a Dixie cup and fill it with water then put it in the freezer. When it was frozen, I was to gently rub the ice on my knee. This was a fun way to apply ice. You might want to make an extra ice cup just to lick while you are treating your knee!

 

Sometimes a simple exercise can work miracles. I hope this one works for you!

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Lists Help You Not to Forget

22 Oct List

Did you know that pilots learning to fly must always use a checklist to avoid catastrophes each and every time they prepare for a flight? Lists are not just for housewives! Lists have become so popular that now there is even a show called The List. If you thought the grocery list was the only list you needed before leaving home, think again! Doesn’t it seem like these days there are more things we need to remember? Passwords, cell phones, keys, water bottles, “the list” is endless. That is the reason I’ve written this post: to remind us to write lists. Lists help us remember what we need to do.

 

Specifically in this post, I’m writing about an exercise list but this post can help you to write other important lists too. For example, there was nothing more aggravating than when I forgot my lock for a gym locker after I stashed my clothes in a locker at my health club. I’ve forgotten other things too like my flip-flops which I like to wear in the shower. Forgetting these items meant that the change of clothes and the towels, etc. I lugged in my bag were for naught and I had to go home. Once home, I had no intention of going back to the gym that day so it was a waste of time. Don’t you hate when that happens?

 

After I had forgotten items a number of times, I resolved that the last time was going to be THE last time I forgot anything when I headed for the gym.

 

Write a List

For an exercise list it’s so simple. Just write down all the things you need for your workout on a list. Keep the list near your gym bag or at a place where you will see it. It took me several days to write my list because it’s surprising how many things I need to remember to bring with me!

 

My List

Hair dryer

2 bath towels

1 small towel (for when I work out on the strength machines)

Plastic hair cover (for when I don’t want to wash my hair)

Flip-flops

Water bottle

Plastic bag (for wet towels, sweaty clothes)

Clean change of clothes

Tissues

Barrette and bobby pins, comb, hairbrush, lipstick (I keep these in a small zippered purse inside my purse)

Shampoo & cream rinse

Exercise pants

ID tag (I wear it around my neck to check in)

Car keys

 

Where to Keep Your List

I keep my list on the kitchen table. You may want to tape it to the door you use when you leave the house.

 

Tip

The key for this list to work is that you must mentally or out loud check off each item before you go out the door. I find saying it out loud is best. The most likely time you will accidentally skip over an item on your list is when you are in a rush, so be advised!

 

You may want to add or subtract from my list when you write your own list, but trust me, this is a no-fail system to a happy workout at the gym. The goal is to be relaxed after working out at the gym which is beneficial to your health, not frustrated because you forgot something and had to go home!

 

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The Apple Cake That Thinks it’s a Pie

18 Oct Slice of marcellarousseau apple cake.pie

Sometimes even the health conscious crave a sugary treat. The recipe below is not very sugary and it has a lot of healthful ingredients in it. It’s great for breakfast or dessert with a cup of coffee or tea or even a glass of milk. I would not say it is an easy recipe for a novice baker but if you take your time and read the directions carefully, you may find yourself rewarded with a very delectable cake. Frankly, I have trouble calling this a cake because you slice it like a pie if you bake it in a pie pan. However, the crust is not really like a pie crust. It is like a cake! Whether you call it cake or pie, it’s delicious!

 

The interesting thing about this recipe is that you can put the dough in a cake pan OR a pie pan! I opted for the pie pan. The dough is a “basic” dough that you could also use to make doughnuts or crullers. I won’t be recommending those because you have to fry the dough and that would not be good for your health!

 

What IS good for your health is the milk, eggs, cinnamon, and apples that go into the cake. Butter also goes into this recipe and I’m not one to say butter is bad for your health. You need some fat in your diet! As for the amount of sugar, most cakes call for at least one cup of sugar. There is only ½ cup of sugar in this recipe. You can even feel good about serving your kids a slice.

 

I know your kids will love it but this is a cake fit for company. This is an invite your in-laws for dinner cake. It’s an invite your boss for dinner cake. It’s fancy. If you want to impress someone, this is the cake to do it. It would pass inspection by Julia Child herself. Just so you know!

 

NOTE: The recipe makes enough dough for two cakes. So, only use half of the recipe for the cake, OK?  I missed that point when I made the dough so I ended up freezing the half of the dough that I didn’t use. I’ll be making the cake again with that dough and although my recipe doesn’t say anything about freezing this dough, I think it will be all right.

 

Ingredients for Dough:

 

1/2 cup scalded milk

1/4 cup soft butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten briefly

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 package dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

 

Additional ingredients are listed in the directions below.

 

In a bowl, mix the scalded milk, butter, sugar, and salt. When dissolved, add the beaten egg and vanilla. When ingredients are lukewarm, add the dissolved yeast. Then add the flour a little at a time and form a soft dough. Turn out dough onto counter and knead for several minutes with a little extra flour until it does not stick to hands . Place in a well greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. Then, turn the dough out again and knead again one minute. Again, place in a greased bowl and brush top with melted butter and allow to rise until doubled.

Dough rising in my microwave

Basic dough rising

 

Decide if you want to use a 9-inch pie pan or square cake pan and then grease it well. Divide the dough in half, take one half and stretch it to fit the pan bringing it up the sides about 1 inch. Reserve the other half for another pie or save it for another day in the freezer.

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

Slice apples uniformly for best appearance

 

Pare and core about 3 medium-sized apples. Slice them very thin. Arrange as shown in the photo or in a circular pattern. Take special pains to do this because the better you do it, the prettier your finished cake will be. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. See photo.

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

Cinnamon-sugar mixture on apple pie

 

Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, and 1 slightly beaten egg yolk. Make sure the melted butter is not too hot. You don’t want to scramble the egg yolk! Pour over the apple slices. Let it cake stand about 15 minutes before placing in the oven.

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

Butter egg yolk mix on cake/pie

 

Bake at 350 degrees 45 – 60 minutes or until crust is brown and apples are soft.

 

You can use apples, peaches, apricots, or plums for this recipe. I think you could also use nectarines or pears. I used Jonamac apples. Jonathan or Winesap would also be good. I used Quick Rise yeast. I bake everything now in my convection toaster oven so I have to adjust the temperature and the time. My cake was browned at 40 minutes but the center was still a little loose. I turned down the oven to 325 degrees. Then at 50 minutes I turned the oven off and left the door ajar. If you know your apples are going to be very juicy, you can sprinkle 3 tablespoons of plain bread crumbs on the stretched out dough before you lay in the apple slices. I didn’t because I like a juicy pie.

My baked apple cake/pie

My baked apple cake/pie

 

This cake tastes best warm. I stored it in the refrigerator covered. When I wanted a slice, I put the slice in the microwave for 20 seconds. It was like it just came out of the oven. You could serve it with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream but I wouldn’t. It would detract from the delicate flavor of the cake.

 

The down side of making this cake is that you have to let it rise 2 times. I’ve made other apple pies that were a lot quicker to make but not as delectable as this cake and not as good for you. Good things come to those who wait!

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Quinoa Makes a Good Cookie: Biscotti – New Food Friday Flash

17 Oct https://marcellarousseau.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/biscotti-garden-tomatoes-nectarines.jpg

When everyone began talking about quinoa, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. So, I bought a package of Bob’s Red Mill quinoa flour. My mistake. Everyone was talking about the grain and I bought the flour. Undaunted, I found a recipe using the flour. It was terrible. I had to throw it out.

 

Month’s later, while riffling through cookbooks at my local library, I came across a recipe using quinoa flour that sounded good. It was for quinoa biscotti. I had never made biscotti before and it was on my bucket list to do. With those thoughts in mind, quinoa is the new food for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

The original recipe came from the book, Eating in Color. The one alert for this recipe is that it called for 1 3/4 cups quinoa flour. That was not enough flour. Either the author forgot to add another flour to the ingredient list or she got the measurements wrong. I knew right away because the directions said to shape the dough into a loaf and there was no way you could shape this blob of a batter into a loaf. I added some white flour and then some whole wheat flour to the tune of approximately 3/4 – 1 cup additional flour. I had to keep adding flour until I could shape the dough into a long loaf. The whole wheat made the recipe more nutritious. I wouldn’t add more quinoa flour because it has a strong flavor and needs another flour to mellow the flavor a bit in my opinion.

 

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups quinoa flour

3/4 – 1 cup white and whole wheat flours combined

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 large eggs

1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive oil)

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon orange juice

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup raw almonds toasted, chopped

1/2 cup dried currents (I used golden raisins)

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used frozen sweet cherries and dried them myself, it’s cheaper!)

1/4 cup dried cranberries – optional (I had them in the cupboard and thought, why not?)

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350. (I used my convection-toaster oven.) Place parchment paper on a baking sheet so the biscotti cookies don’t stick and for easier cleanup. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs, oil, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine. Stir in almonds, cherries, raisins, and cranberries. Flour your hands and separate the dough into two halves to form each into an 8″ long loaf on the baking sheet. This is a little messy. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool for 20 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a cutting board. Slice cookies 1/2″ wide on an angle. Using a spatula, carefully transfer biscotti back onto baking sheet, cut side down and bake again 14 minutes or until tops are dry to touch and hard nearly all the way through. They will further harden when cooling.

 

These cookies are hard and that’s the way biscotti are supposed to be. Biscotti cookies are for dunking in a beverage to soften them up. The usual dunking beverages are either coffee or wine. I tried dunking them in coffee but preferred them dunked in wine. I had a rather sweet wine that was a blend of red sweet wines by Barefoot. I like wines that are on the sweet side but this wine was even too sweet for me to drink with a meal. However, it was perfect for dunking the biscotti. So, I recommend a sweeter wine for dunking your biscotti. You could try dunking them in tea, milk, hot chocolate, etc. Experiment!

 

We’ve had a lot of rainy weather and the humidity has been high so after 2 days, my biscotti were not hard anymore and were edible without any dunking. This was when I enjoyed them even more.  I froze them after a few days and they keep well frozen. I have four left. They are a delicious cookie, nutritious and good for you! I hope you try them.

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