Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Intriguing, Inspiring Apples

The apple tree is blooming! Fresh apple pie and tarts are on their way. Applesauce will be prepared and canned to use during the winter and early spring.

There’s a middle ground in preparing apples that requires additional work. It’s a fantastic way to prepare a treat for friends and family who have lost their ability to crunch and munch because their teeth can’t take it anymore.

I remember watching my father-in-law trying to pretend he was satisfied with jars of baby food once he lost his teeth from cancer treatments. Even though apricots with tapioca tasted good to me, a perpetual diet of liquefied foods would never be my choice.

The solution? Softened bits of peeled, diced apples cooked with tapioca and spices. I’m a firm believer of aromatherapy, and spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice are among my favorites. A bit of lemon juice perks up the dish if the person’s taste buds aren’t what they used to be.

Just one apple will do the trick!

Here’s a recipe for one. Just add an extra apple for each person. I grit my teeth when I use the measured amount “dash” because it means a different amount to every person. My unofficial description of “dash” is a quick, visible sprinkle.

Three excellent apples for this saucy, slightly munchy treat are Winesap, Jonagold, and Pippin.

Apples My Way (an original recipe from me)


1 large apple
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
1 Tablespoon instant tapioca
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Sweetener to taste, if desired


Rinse off the apple. Cut and core. I use a corer/slicer because it’s handy. You can also slice the apple in half from top to bottom and cut out the core as you cut additional slices.
Trim the peel off the apple (yes, there’s a tool for that, although I don’t have one).
Put the slices on a cutting board and finely dice them.
Put all the ingredients EXCEPT the tapioca into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the tapioca. Stir the mixture and cover the pan. Remove the cover to stir every few minutes. It takes about 15 minutes to soften 1 diced apple and slightly longer if you’re cooking more than one.

Refrigerate any leftovers and heat them in the microwave for 10- 15 seconds before serving again.

The delicious fragrance floating through the house brightens up everyone’s appetite. Make up a separate pan with apple slices or chunks. Apples My Way are just that – perfect for each person in the family as a snack, dessert or main course.

Which is your favorite type of apple?

Friday, April 22, 2016

Thought Matters More than Cost

My kids love to tease me about my reaction to the plastic pink flamingos that decorated the lawns of certain home and business owners to raise money for projects. 

I loved the idea! There's been no time taken to look for adorable faux flamingos, however. 

Mother's Day started a bit early this year as my first present, hurriedly wrapped, appeared on my desk with eager faces waiting for me to open it. "We know it didn't cost much," they apologized, "but we saw it and knew you would love it!"

Inside a container I found a pink flamingo dressed for the Florida beaches. I took it outside to take a picture in the sunshine. Then I  opened the package for a picture of him out of the package. Afterwards, I carried him inside and put the happy bird on the shelf along the window. One touch of the sunshine and his wings started flapping happily. 

I've always felt that it is the thought put into searching for and finding something that is special to the recipient, rather than a high price tag, that makes a gift perfect. Yes, I'm the family member that gets excited over a pretty rock and holds onto it for years!

My mom enjoyed seeing report cards with A's in citizenship. She felt all of us could learn anything we wanted to on our own, if need be, but good citizenship was a personal choice. A good grade there proved our good character.

What's the best and most meaningful inexpensive gift you've received?  


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fun Things to Know about Tahoe and its Surroundings

The great outdoors calls my name on a regular basis. There’s so much natural beauty and awesome landscape within 3 hours of home! Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite areas for a casual day trip. It has a width of 12 miles and length of 22 miles, with a total shoreline of 72 miles.

It’s the sixteenth deepest lake in the world thanks to its maximum depth exceeding 1,600 feet. The 191 square mile surface area makes it the world’s second largest alpine lake. It’s a thrill to start the descent on the highway from any direction and catch a glimpse of this massive body of water.

South Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley are two of the most common areas that come to mind when thinking about towns and cities around the lake, which resides in Nevada and California. Truckee, Kings Beach, Stateline, Northstar, Carnelian Bay, and Incline Village are other places to stop for a bite to eat and perhaps a place to camp or stay overnight.

The lake’s surface elevation is 6,229 feet and is surrounded by towering mountains. Snow sports are popular, along with hiking, biking, golfing, and fishing. Several years ago we splurged and chartered a fishing boat to take my husband’s sister, brother-in-law, and the two of us out on the lake in search of fish. It was fun because each of us got to fish instead of taking turns guiding the boat, and because the guides clean the fish and know the best spots to find them. Your guide will also tell you whether you need to purchase a California or Nevada fishing license so you can take care of that ahead of time.
Spearing Fish by Torchlight, painted by Albert Bierstadt 1875 (public domain)

Brown and rainbow trout, salmon, and mackinaw are just a few of the favorites to be found in mighty Lake Tahoe. Fishing is year-round, though some parts of the lake are closed during certain times of the year. Much like ocean fishing, you’ll enjoy the experience more by hiring one of the fishing charter experts in the area.

Enjoy any of the public beaches around the lake. Take in an indoor or outdoor show by your favorite band. There’s so much happening during the summer and early fall when warm weather produces pleasant days. 

What is your favorite daycation activity or spot?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Traveling Tuesdays – Camp Humphreys, Korea

A picture of reconstruction near Camp Humphreys, Korea caught my attention today and started some reminiscing. It’s been awhile since I made the trip to this army base located in Pyeongtaek. It is included in the most populous province in Korea, the Gyeonggi Province.  The U.S. Army garrison will become the largest overseas base by the end of this year if construction continues as planned.

The agricultural community continues outside of the facility. One of the pictures showed the dirt roads I walked on when exploring the area. Roads leading to and from Seoul are paved and well-maintained. Nearby hills and mountains add beautiful scenery. 

New building and more businesses are good things for everyone. Helicopters are exciting, too.

Black Hawk helicopter during training at Camp Humphreys

C-130 Hercules landing at Camp Humphreys years ago.

Okay, I really like the C-130s, too. Notice the tower? When I was a teenager, my brother-in-law tried to convince me the red and white checkered towers common on many military posts and bases held Ralston-Purina food for all the pets.

AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter flying low over the base.

Newer housing looks out over the rice fields.

Rice is a common crop because of the water provided by the Ansong River, which empties 12 miles west into the Asian Bay. Paths meander throughout the rice fields. It was common to see any citizen stop to fix any problems with the crops during the day. 

The Splish and  Splash Water Park is fun for all.

Scanning older pictures into my online files is going to take priority to other tasks. I may not make it back to visit Korea again, but I can enjoy comparing the changes when new photos are published online. 

Are there any places you’ve visited that have changed significantly since you were last there?