New Food Friday Flash – Crystallized Ginger

16 Jan Crystalized Ginger

I have come across a few recipes using crystallized ginger and I became curious about this product. I found a jar of diced crystallized ginger in the spice aisle at Meijer but it was too expensive. Around Thanksgiving, Meijer put out their biggest display of candied fruits that I’ve ever seen. Among them was a small container of crystallized ginger.Crystalized Ginger

The pieces were big and looked delicious! $2.99 for 4 oz. You know me, I couldn’t resist. Plus, one of my favorite cookies, when I have a cookie or two, is Ginger Snaps. Unfortunately, they just don’t make the ginger snaps that I like in these parts! So, lucky for you, I decided to make my own using crystallized ginger. Two recipes came inside the container: ginger snaps and ginger bars. I opted for the ginger snaps. That is how this post got selected for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

But how did cookies get to be on a blog that purports to be about getting and maintaining good health? Give me a minute; I’ll come up with something.

 

OK, this cookie recipe calls for molasses. I use blackstrap molasses and it’s extremely high in iron. I don’t think there is anything out there that contains more iron. The recipe also calls for an egg. Eggs get a bad rap. They are good for you, especially Eggland’s Best eggs which I always use because they contain more vitamins and minerals than in regular eggs with double the Omega 3. Also, ginger is good for you. According to WebMD, Ginger contains chemicals that may reduce nausea and inflammation. Researchers believe the chemicals work primarily in the stomach and intestines, but they may also work in the brain and nervous system to control nausea. Click the link to learn more. The recipe also calls for cinnamon which adds sweetness and is good for you. There are no preservatives or unpronounceable ingredients in this homemade cookie recipe as you will undoubtedly find in a store shelf cookie.

 

Satisfied? Good! Here is the recipe:

 

Ginger Snaps

¾ cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

4 oz. Paradise Crystallized Ginger, chopped coarsely (came with a 50¢ coupon)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine softened butter, sugar, molasses and egg, beat well.

Ginger Snap Batter

Ginger Snap Cookie Batter

Add chopped crystallized ginger pieces.

Diced Crystalized Ginger

Crystalized Ginger Diced

Mix dry ingredients together, add to wet mixture, mix well.

Crystalized Ginger added to Batter

Crystalized Ginger added to Batter

Chill for 1 hour. Form into 1” balls, roll in sugar, and place on greased cookie sheet, 2” apart.

Cookie Balls Rolled in Sugar

Cookie Balls Rolled in Sugar

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cookie Balls on Tray

Cookie Balls on Tray

Makes 36 cookies.

Ginger Snap Cookies

Ginger Snap Cookies Cooling

I think they taste great dunked in tea with honey and lemon.

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The Return – an Audio Book Review

10 Jan Library Books (sxc.hu - alko)

I’ve been listening to and writing reviews for audio books for 3 1/2 years now. Two of my favorite fiction audio books were The Swan Thieves, a storyline that visits France, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo immersing the listener in Sweden. The Return has become my third favorite audio book. It takes place in Mexico and Viet Nam. The common thread for me in these audio books is the different cultures. I am a culture aficionado.

I’m surprised author, Michael Gruber, isn’t as popular as John Grisham or Michael Connolly – authors whose names are household words. The Return is beautifully written and exceptionally performed by Jonathan Davis. It is a story with characters of depth. I demand better writing from myself when I listen to Gruber’s words.

The story begins in New York. The main character, Richard Marder, (sounds like martyr for a good reason and is addressed in the book) learns at the beginning of this tale that he has a brain aneurysm and could die at any time. It is inoperable. The only people who know this are Marder, his doctor, and you, the listener. His friends and family suspect that something is wrong, but they probably can’t be sure because he spent time in the Viet Nam war and they might attribute his behavior to those days even though any aftereffects never showed up before. Unbeknownst to them, he is now having flashbacks to those days, blaming their arrival on the thing in his brain he’s dubbed, “Mr. Thing.” Actually, there are two storylines; one going forward and one going back. The one going back are to his days in Viet Nam with his crazy buddy Patrick Skelly, and to his marital days with his now deceased Mexican wife, Chóle, the light of his life. Marder’s son blames him for her suicide; they are estranged. Marder also blames himself.

This sounds like a depressing story, but only at first glance. It’s inspirational, sometimes philosophical, with threads of religion, and at times, laugh out loud funny. Marder’s daughter, Carmel, provides some of the hilarity. She and Marder are close. She is also close to Skelly, who was a sort of substitute father while she was growing up, teaching her survival techniques that he learned in his career, taking her fishing, teaching her how to fight, how to shoot, skin, and cook deer, rabbit, and more. Marder, on the other hand, took care of the bedtime stories. Perhaps his busy schedule as a book editor of some note didn’t allow him the time to spend with her. Yes, Marder is cultured and well spoken, the opposite of Skelly who is loud mouthed, uncouth, frequently getting into drunken brawls and then rescued through a phone call to Marder, typically at 3:00 am.

Although seemingly different as day and night, they have some similarities. Neither man has money worries. Marder is rich thanks to the Apple stock he bought when it first came out. This is just another well-kept secret. He is a man full of secrets. So is Skelly, who claims to be a “security agent.” He is evasive about his work. They both have a fondness for guns.

Since much of the story takes place in Mexico, be prepared to hear many melodious names of cities there, lilting phrases, and names of the many characters, who take part in Marder’s extraordinary plan to defend his newly bought home, spread on a 277-acre island, from the drug lords who want to take it away from him. They want to develop the land with a casino. Marder has other ideas. He is impervious to the dangers. After all, what does he have to lose?

Jonathan Davis pronounces all the Spanish words and names impeccably. Is it any wonder since Davis was raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico? I did a little research to find that out because I was dying to know, as I am enthralled with his voice. He transitions from male to female voices smoothly and believably. Normally, I would not want to read or listen to a book about the Viet Nam war and I’m not that crazy about wars with drug lords. However, this story is so much more. For example, Peppa Espinoza, the news reporter, and Carmel are strong, female characters. Bravery, intelligence, and perseverance are not limited to the men.

I did not know what the story was about when I pulled the audio book off the shelf. I was interested in it because of the reader, Jonathan Davis. I came upon his name while listening to another audio book called Twisted Tree. It too, is a good audio book but is very dark and as you might guess, twisted, with perverted characters. I decided not to review it on my blog because the topic was too smarmy. The chapters in Twisted Tree are read by a variety of excellent performers; I did not know which one was Davis. All I knew was that his voice reminded me of Robert Redford. I knew it wasn’t Redford, but there is so much about Davis’ voice that has the same sound with a similar delivery: professional, cool, and speech that is somewhat clipped at times. On the other hand, that describes the Marder character. Anyway, who can resist Redford? Long story short, I tracked down Davis performing Gruber’s book, The Return. Why they picked such a bland title for such a meaty book is beyond me.

Therefore, ladies, for your listening pleasure, by all means, get The Return! There is romance, many forms of love, a hot, steamy bedroom scene, picturesque vistas, a multitude of well-described visual images, and some unforgettable dialog. In addition, men, there is action, arms, heroism, pretty girls, and adventure to knock your socks off. If you haven’t guessed by now, it is a thought-provoking story. It’s the kind of audio book that you won’t want to turn off so be prepared to let the bills slide, the housework go to hell, and the phone messages to go unanswered. Enjoy 17 ½ hours of this thriller on 14 CDs. You will never guess how it ends. Meanwhile, I will be searching for another audio book by the Gruber/Davis duo. Hasta luego!

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New Food Friday Flash – Lasagna with Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

19 Dec Tall Lasagna Slice

There are a lot of lasagna recipes out there and many of them have spinach as an ingredient. I didn’t have spinach on hand but I did have mustard greens growing in my vegetable garden as of November 1, 2014. The question was would their strong, peppery, mustard flavor overpower my lasagna? I was up for the challenge. My lasagna with mustard greens is the New Food Friday Flash recipe for this month. They may not be new foods, but they are a new combination! Its red and green colors make for a festive holiday dish!

 

Lasagna is a great dish loved by all and there are many versions of it such as lasagna with sausage, with zucchini, with precooked noodles, with spinach noodles, with cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese, with meatballs, and the list goes on. The problem with a basic lasagna recipe is that there is little fiber in it. Vegetable lasagnas help Americans who eat little fiber. I wanted to create lasagna with a good amount of fiber.

 

I had two jars of tomato meat sauce with garbanzos in it in my freezer. The reason I put garbanzos in the sauce was for when I got tired of putting the sauce on pasta. By just adding a few tablespoons of chili spice I could easily make a chili out of the garbanzo meat sauce! I did and it was wonderful! I had plans for the two remaining 8 oz jars of meat sauce with the garbanzos. They were going into my lasagna!

 

I went out into my vegetable garden after we had a mild frost and picked a bowl of all the baby-sized mustard greens. They looked good! I rinsed them carefully and put them in a pan with about ½ cup of water and cooked them until the water evaporated. Then I minced them. I gave them a taste expecting a strong flavor. To my surprise, there was hardly any flavor! Maybe the frost had something to do with the lack of flavor, maybe because the leaves I picked were all small, maybe my taste buds went on strike – who knows? I knew the mustard greens wouldn’t overpower my lasagna. The combination of garbanzos and mustard greens added a good amount of fiber to this dish. All the cheeses added a good amount of calcium.

Lasagna with bits of Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

Lasagna with bits of Mustard Greens and Garbanzos

 

Ingredients

8 oz of regular cooked lasagna noodles (1/2 box)

16 oz ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/3 cup minced mustard greens

1 ½ cups grated parmesan cheese

8 oz mozzarella cheese sliced

2 8 oz jars of tomato meat sauce

1 cup (8 oz) tomato sauce (for bottom and top of dish)

1 teaspoon sugar

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix ricotta, minced mustard greens, egg and spices until smooth.

 

Pour ½ cup of the 1 cup tomato sauce on bottom of an 8” x 8” baking pan. Cover sauce with a layer of cooked lasagna noodles; a layer of the ricotta mixture; a layer of the sliced mozzarella (about 9 thin slices); a layer of the meat-garbanzo sauce. Repeat until all the ingredients are used. The top layer should be your remaining ½ cup of the 1 cup of tomato sauce and the parmesan cheese. This makes a 5-layer lasagna. It weighs a ton! Bake 35 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes for easier serving. This dish stays hot for about an hour and stays warm for several hours. It slices better the next day. It serves 6.

Lasagna Topped with Grated Parmesan

Lasagna Topped with Grated Parmesan

 

Meat Sauce Recipe

My meat sauce recipe is never the same so I can only give you a basic recipe. I use two 32 oz cans of Dei Fratelli tomato puree. If there is a sale on Carmelina San Marzano canned tomatoes, I will substitute it with one of the Dei Fratelli cans. You can taste the difference. I don’t eat beef and instead use ground turkey and brown it the same way you would beef in a little olive oil. Sometimes I add diced carrots, celery, onions, sometime not. Usually I add one clove of minced garlic. Sometimes I add bay leaves, or dried basil leaves and/or dried oregano. Sometimes I add thyme from my garden. If I have red wine on hand, I will add ½ cup to deglaze the browned meat. Usually I add a teaspoon of sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, some black pepper, and a dash or two of cayenne. Sometimes I add a chopped Serrano pepper. The main difference this time was that I added a can of rinsed garbanzo beans. They don’t add any flavor but they are creamy in texture and high in fiber.

 

Note to novice cooks: I once went to a potluck where a man brought homemade lasagna. He didn’t know that there was such a thing as pre-cooked lasagna noodles and regular noodles. He bought the regular noodles and didn’t boil them first. He put them in the lasagna dish and needless to say, it ruined the dish. The noodles were hard and the dish was inedible although some did their best to eat it so as not to hurt his feelings. I wasn’t one of them! Make sure you look at the packaging. The pre-cooked  noodles are less work, but you have to make sure you have a lot of sauce (extra) on hand because they absorb more liquid than regular lasagna noodles. The regular noodles have to be boiled and are slippery to work with. Sometimes they stick together so be sure to stir the pot often when they are boiling. I drained them and then rinsed them with cold water and left about ¼ cup water in the pot. I had no problems with sticking. I didn’t add any oil. I’ve used both types of noodles for lasagnas and don’t have a preference.

 

I divided the lasagna in portions and put three of them in the freezer for future meals. It freezes well and makes all the effort and pots worth it!

Tall Lasagna Slice

Tall Lasagna Slice or, The Leaning Tower of Lasagna

 

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Tags: cooking, recipes,baking , vegetables, mustard greens, garbanzo beans, fiber, calcium, lasagna

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time for Some Levity

26 Nov Poking the Pillsbury dough boy

Please join me in remembering a great icon – the veteran Pillsbury spokesman. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71. Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. The gravesite was piled high with flours.

 

Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, the Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch.

 

His long time friend, Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy, describing Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded. Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very “smart” cookie, wasting much of his dough on half-baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he even still, as a crusty old man, was considered a roll model for millions. Toward the end it was thought he would rise again, but alas, he was no Tart.

 

Doughboy is survived by his wife, Play Dough; two children, Jane and John Dough; plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart. The funeral will be held at 3:50 for about 20 minutes.

 

                                                                        ***

I figured since many of us would be baking for Thanksgiving that you would enjoy this. I can’t remember who sent it to me or when, but I’m glad I found it in my files!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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New Food Friday Flash – Passatelli

21 Nov Passatelli pasta

This recipe has been a long time coming because I have wanted to make my own pasta for years and now I have finally done that! Hooray! You know how it is, you have to have the correct ingredients on hand, you have to have the time to do it, you also have to have the right equipment/tools to make the pasta. Everything but the stars and the moon have to be aligned! Having the right equipment/tools was actually the biggest holdup for me. Plus, I wanted a recipe that sounded good. Passatelli pasta was all that I dreamed of and that is why this post is my choice for this New Food Friday Flash.

 

To whom do I owe my thanks for this recipe? Mary Ann Esposito of the Ciao Italia! program on PBS. Thank you Mary Ann!

 

Here Are the Tools You Don’t Need

You don’t need a rack to hang these pastas up to dry.

You don’t need a pasta machine to make the dough paper thin.

You don’t need a rolling pin to roll out the dough

You don’t need to buy a special stamp to stamp special designs on the pasta.

And gloriosky, you don’t need to knead the dough!

 

Here Are the Tools You Need

A Cheese Grater

 

I’m assuming you have a bowl, a spoon, and a pot!

 

Ingredients

½ cup + 2 tablespoons flour

¾ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup toasted bread crumbs

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

1/8 – ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Grate the cheese. I ended up grating too much but can you ever have too much Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese? I think not.

 

Add the flour. I made this recipe on a very damp, rainy day and had to add 3 tablespoons more flour to make a “rough” dough.

 

Add the bread crumbs. I grated bread crumbs a few days prior to making this recipe from an Italian artisan boule that I bought at Meijer.

Defrosting Artisan breadcrumbs

Artisan bread crumbs that I froze

It was very good and chewy, just how I like it but I had to sacrifice half the loaf so that I could make breadcrumbs out of it. It wasn’t easy because I wanted to smear it with butter and devour the entire thing! After I grated it, I put it in the freezer knowing that I would use it for something!

 

Add the lemon juice and the zest. I didn’t have a whole lemon to zest so I added a teeny bit more lemon juice.

 

Add the nutmeg. As you can see from the photo, I have enough nutmeg to last the rest of my life.

Grating nutmeg

Nutmeg and nutmeg grater

I bought this nutmeg online a few years ago and this is what they sent me along with all the other ingredients I ordered from an Italian supermarket in Cleveland called Gallucci’s. OK, I lied. You also need a tool called a nutmeg grater. But really, you could get away with using a regular grater or, heaven forbid, buy nutmeg already grated.

 

Add salt and pepper to taste. You don’t need much salt because the cheese is salty (and so is the bread) and we’re watching our salt intake, aren’t we? I only added ½ teaspoon. I don’t remember what Maryanne said was needed for the salt or for the nutmeg for that matter. I used only 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg. (I’m saving them because I want to take some with me when I go. You know, like the Egyptians.) I’m kidding! Nutmeg is a strong flavor and I didn’t want it to overpower the Passatelli.

 

Gather all the ingredients into a ball. It will be “rough.” (Mary Ann’s words.) I took that to mean a shaggy dough. My dough was sticky so I slowly added up to 3 tablespoons more flour until it looked more “rough” to me. Cover it and put the dough in the refrigerator for 6 – 7 hours.

Ball of Dough to make Passatelli

My ball of Passatelli dough

 

After 5 hours I took the dough out of the refrigerator. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t wait.) I got my grater and using the BIG holes, grated some of the cold ball of dough. Now I ask you, how fun is that? I suppose it doesn’t have to be a ball shape. You could probably form it into a rectangle. Whatever is easier for you! When you have a pile of grated Passatelli, slide them into boiling homemade chicken broth and boil 3 minutes OR until the pasta floats to the surface.

 

I had 3 jars of homemade chicken broth on hand but you need 8 cups of broth and I only had 6 cups so I made more.

Frozen chicken broth defrosting

Frozen homemade chicken broth

I had some chicken bones I was saving in the freezer and I also had some meaty chicken backs and bellies, and made another pot of chicken soup. Now I had more than enough broth.

Broth for my Passatelli

Making more chicken broth

 

If you don’t want to cook the grated Passatelli right away, you can grate them and then put them in the freezer. If you do it that way remember NOT to defrost the Passatelli when you put them in the boiling broth. Just dump them frozen into the boiling soup broth and boil for 3 minutes OR until they float to the top.

Passatelli boiling in chicken broth

Boiling chicken broth with my Passatelli

 

Homemade pasta doesn’t need to cook as long as store bought pasta so don’t boil it too long or you will have mush.

 

Prior to putting my ball of dough into the refrigerator, I was thinking how to make other versions, such as:

 

Use other flours like semolina flour

Add other herbs like minced parsley or powdered dry sage

Add one more egg

Use one LESS egg

Add minced prosciutto (is that a possibility?)

Use a different cheese like Asiago

Add cooked, minced spinach or butternut squash

Boil/cook the Passatelli then scoop them out of the broth and sauté them in butter

 

It seemed my luck was holding out for this recipe because the weather was taking a temperature tumble. If I had made it one day sooner, I wouldn’t want to have eaten hot Passatelli in 79 degree weather! Last night cold winds blew all the heat away and today is damp and cold with temperatures expecting to go into the 20’s by the weekend, perfect for a hot bowl of Passatelli! Sometimes being a slave to the weather is a good thing!

 

The Surprises in this Recipe

When I grated the ball of dough, it looked as though it was too soft and that the Passatelli would all clump together in the pot of broth. Surprise! They separate and rise to the top when they are cooking! I was eager to taste the Passatelli and took a spoonful of the broth and pasta. Surprise! I had forgotten there was lemon in the Passatelli! It was a nice, light-flavored surprise taste. I also wasn’t prepared for the softness of the pasta. Surprise! This recipe would make a great soup for when you are sick in bed with a cold. A hot, nourishing chicken broth with soft homemade noodles that slide down your sore throat will make you better in no time! This medium size ball of dough makes A LOT of pasta so surprise! I thought with all the cheese I put in the recipe (remember, I put in too much?) it would taste cheesy. SURPRISE!

 

I think I remember Mary Ann saying that this was an “old” recipe and that she wanted to keep recipes like this alive. I’m all for that. Sometimes the old ways are better. Like heirloom seeds for the gardener, this recipe is a keeper for the cook! Let me know if you make this! Your kids will enjoy watching you grate the round ball of dough into pasta!

I grated all of it then cooked and ate half and I froze the rest.

Passatelli pasta

A delicious bowl of Passatelli pasta

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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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Pumpkin Pie From a Pie Pumpkin (with Bourbon)

6 Nov Pumpkin Pie

Pie pumpkins were running amuck at my local Meijer but I was too busy to make a pie. About a week later, I had time to make a pie but I couldn’t find any pie pumpkins! Luckily, I spied three in the squash area next to the Butternut squash. I picked one of the three but they each looked good. I began wondering how I cooked pumpkin the last time I bought a pie pumpkin. I couldn’t remember.

 

I was watching P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table program and he suggested roasting a pie pumpkin by first piercing it all over with a fork. I used a knife instead and roasted it for 45 minutes in my convection toaster oven. When it cooled, it was so easy to peel the skin off! I’ll have to remember the technique for when I bake Butternut squash which I do often. I had been peeling it with a paring knife. It’s a miracle I still have all my digits! By the way, this is an easy pie to prepare. I suggest you take out all your ingredients and place them on your counter so you don’t forget to add one. There are a lot of them!

 

But back to the pumpkin. I made a pumpkin pie from a recipe in my Good Housekeeping Cookbook called Pilgrim Pumpkin Pie that I followed loosely. The original recipe had no Bourbon. I used the crust recipe from my Cake that Thinks it’s a Pie recipe. I defrosted my dough completely before lining my pie pan.

 

Ingredients

1 9-inch unbaked piecrust

1 pie pumpkin (2 cups)

1 13-ounce can evaporated milk

2 eggs

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

½ teaspoon salt

1 ounce bourbon

 

Directions

Wash then cook the pumpkin in your preferred way. Then break apart or cube the pumpkin in a large bowl beating the pumpkin with a mixer at medium speed with next 11 ingredients. Pour into pie crust. I find that every time I make this recipe, I have extra pie mixture. This time I froze the leftover. There is enough for a small pie. It will give me a chance to add more spices that I mention below.

 

The photo shows pumpkin pie and a Butternut squash because you can also make this pie using Butternut squash in case you can’t find pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie

You Can Use Butternut Squash in Place of Pumpkin

Butternut squash is always available. Both are high in fiber. This recipe is helpful if you are trying to get your calcium requirements for the day; note the evaporated milk ingredient.

 

I was very generous with all the spices in this recipe. I didn’t level off anything because I wanted it to be a bit spicy. It was very flavorful, but I still wanted more spice! I caught an episode of America’s Test Kitchen while they were making gingersnap cookies. I love gingersnaps but, you know how it is, they just don’t make ‘em like they used to! ATK made the cookies with black pepper, cayenne pepper, two tablespoons ginger and two tablespoons grated, fresh ginger! Wow! That’ll wake you up! I wish I had seen ATK before I made my pie. I’ll  include more ginger and maybe some pepper too in my small pie! This pie keeps well in the refrigerator.

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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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