Thursday, October 30, 2014

The New Recipe for CRABapple Pie??

50 apples for $14.00?  That sounds like a deal.  Mix and match even?  I could choose as many as I wanted from the Virginia gold bin, the Winesap bin, the golden delicious bin, the Stayman bin, the Roma bin, the York apples bin and the granny smith bin.  There may have been a few more bins, but I had already filled my half bushel paper sack and was studying the shiny reds, peach blushes and yellows with anticipation as I carried them to the wooden counter just beside a small barn.

Since I grew up in a family where money was scarce, bargains on foods tend to catch my eye and the fall abundance of apples always calls to me.  We drive three hours West in a hybrid car and find a local orchard and then buy apples.  Some we eat before we get home and all the others I process and freeze for desserts.  We also were invited to walk the orchards up the steep hill, which after sitting for hours in a car, and with camera in hand, was the best offer I had been given all day.  Almost all of the apples had been picked from the trees, but there was still beauty to capture as the afternoon sun fell across the hillside.

Now, back to processing apples---but with a twist!  Stick with me here.  While the texture of a frozen apple is not as crisp once frozen, that fall apple flavor does remain.  We core them with an apple corer, peal them and then slice them into equal sizes keeping the species types apart just for our own preferences.  We immediately put them into a bowl of water and lemon juice to keep them from browning.  Our sweetest and crispest were the Winesaps and they seemed to brown the fastest as well, no matter how snappy we worked...chop chop.

When the particular  apple batch is are all done, I take out the slices from the huge bowl and let them drain in my hands before dumping a full pie serving amount into a freezer Ziplok bag labeled by apple type and date.  I add a pre -mixed mixture of cinnamon/nutmeg/allspice to taste, about half a cup of sugar or 1/4 brown and 1/4 white sugar together, and a little salt and a teaspoon or more of cornstarch depending on their juiciness.  I toss the slices a few times to coat them with the bag sealed.  Then, squeezing all the air out of the bags, I pop them into the freezer for winter desserts.

With 50 apples hubby and I got an assembly line going.  We were moving like a Japanese train on schedule, but my one glitch was that I had just cleaned out my pantry closet a few days before.  Shelves washed, items moved and reorganized, some items taken to the basement, others to give away.  A photo below showing a part of the closet and clearly illustrating how neat and organized it was!  All the bins were labeled!  The spices in pseudo-alphabetical order.  But a bit of a mistake because ... well, perhaps you can see in the second photo.

Yes, I used the jar on the right side.  I did not read the labels!!  Into the first 5 batches of pie filling went Old Bay crab spice! (Something those of us who steam crabs use tons of in the summer.)  Once I discovered my mistake by licking a finger I changed jars and into the last 6 batches went the cinnamon that I was supposed to add.  We labeled those freezer bags that had Old Bay spice because I am too cheap to throw this food out and figured I may find some way to use that mistake. (Maybe stuff apples into chicken or use with a pork roast?)

We decided to make a pie that very afternoon with the mistake spices (Old Bay) package...and much to our surprise, while it was not super good without the cinnamon, it was really quite delicious and just a tiny bit unusual.  But we each ate our entire piece of pie and we will certainly finish the rest of the pie!  In the future I will add the pie spices to those batches and perhaps another bit of fruit or nuts and top with butter bits.

Hubby just dumped the slices into a pre-made pie shell with some disdain after draining the juices which he felt might be too salty and then he watched it bake not anticipating an edible snack.  But we were both pleasantly surprised.

So I posted on FB that I am going to call this my "Crab Apple Pie."

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back to the City

Seems I am in a bit of rut, as I headed back to the city on Sunday.  Usually my husband does the driving and I help with the technological wizards that talk us through the street turns.  This time I made the decision to drive in on my own.  This was a really big decision for me as I am terrified to try to find a place on my own in the city...TERRIFIED.  Some folks get anxiety on meeting new people, others find it anxiety producing to throw a dinner party, and of course giving a speech usually ranks right up there in heart-pounding efforts, and even others are anxious to reach the top of a cliff and look back down.   All of these things are thrilling to me, but not terrifying.

None terrify me as much as trying to find an address in an unfamiliar part of town and then finding parking in the crowded areas of a city and all with a time deadline!  I had been invited to a class by a 30-something new friend I have made and I just knew at my age hanging out with 30-somethings is essential to good health!  This gal admires me for some unknown reason.  She is smart as a whip, independent as an albatross, and doing interesting things in her own life right now.

So, throwing caution to the wind (or whatever trite expression you want to insert here), I dropped hubby off at the son's house, plugged in my destination, and headed deep into the bowels of the city.  The mapquest folks wanted to take me straight through the heart of the city to the other side, but with a major marathon taking place as well a numerous streets under construction, I was smart enough to program a bypass way.

I allowed myself about 20 minutes extra time, and I still arrived 5 minutes late!  Every parallel parking space left on the side streets was 4 inches too short for my compact car.  I finally found a space just in front of the bus stop and three blocks away, but not blocking any city buses.  I backed in and locked the car rushing off all the while praying I had not misread the signs and would not be towed!

When I had gone online I saw that the meeting was in one of those tall brick apartment buildings on a tree shaded street.  I had written my gal friend about an apartment number, but she said she did not have one, so I assumed we would meet out front, in the side yard or the lobby.   I got to the building exactly 3 minutes late, opened the door and found I could not move beyond the little entry room and was faced by the dial-in directory.  It has been years since I have used directories in apartment buildings but I figured out how to scroll through the two dozen names and nothing seemed familiar.  I paused.  I did not have my gal friend's phone number...just her email.  I dialed into the email on my phone and just 15 minutes earlier I saw she had emailed the name of the person giving the class and the apartment number.  With a little old-age dyslexia I finally got buzzed in and headed up two flights of stairs.  Reading small print on apartment directories and going up two flights of stairs...challenges that rarely give the 30-ish crowd pause...already had me a little out of breath.

As I entered the cute little apartment, I saw the other young ladies had already started on their  mimosas and brief introductions were made.  I found it easy to fit in and soon the class was started.  It was nothing super-special...something I could easily have picked up in a book on my own or watching a YouTube video...but my learning experience this day was far more important than this class, and perhaps, not something these single gals would not understand at this time in their lives?

Oh, this is what I took home at the end of class...yes it got knocked around a little in the car...but so did I!

So what thing gives you more than pause...what gives you a terrifying bit of time?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking a Pulse

I was in the "city" a few days ago.  I was actually in an outside town of the city, but the power and the pressure of the city are so great that it leaks over into the air and smells and sounds and activities.  You have heard about the pulse of a city?  It is exactly that.  Like a heart rhythmically racing in a march to the end of the day.  I had forgotten this undercurrent.  There was a meeting...a series of meetings... and thus the day began early in the first muggy light with the heaviness of gray endless rain, the irregular pumping of brake lights, the tick, tick, tick of a turn signal at the intersection, the spray as cars fled by.  I had forgotten it all, but it was just like riding a bicycle.  It comes back with a somber vengeance.  Mothers rushing children under umbrellas, men avoiding puddles in shiny shoes, well dressed women never looking down, young men with an aimless morning to fill as they hung out at the local coffee shop.

I must admit that it was not all dismay.  There was the excitement of an energy I had forgotten.  The throbbing of a pulse that told you there was life, the stimulus of people with places to be and things to do, things that might even affect your life.

I had returned to an area I lived in about a decade ago and the changes were amazing in places and the lack of change was both dismaying and reassuring in other places.  There is lots of creativity in cities.  Creativity in products and in ideas.  People with hope meet in cities.  People planning big jobs live in cities.  I had been living in the edies of the world and thus had to make sure my paddle was well into the water as the currents shoved me here and there.

But at the end of the day I was glad to return to my woods, to my place of restorative pauses, slow thought and more realistic hope. I guess mankind needs both, and a balance of both places is best.

Monday, October 20, 2014


A little perspective.  I do not normally walk 7 or more miles.  Hubby and I do walk about 3 to 4 miles when we take a hike in our local parks and woods during the warmer weather.  I do run between 3 and 4 miles on the elliptical in my basement about 5 or 6 times each month.  So, the 7 miles, while strenuous, was not a super challenge.  We started about 11:30 in the morning and got back to our cars about 4:30 P.M. stopping frequently for photography and once for lunch.  You can do this.  Perhaps not on a tree root covered path, but on a sidewalk around your town.  I think you would be surprised.  Even if you have serious health issues, just walking a little ways is good for you.  Just add a quarter or half mile each time and breathe sweetly the good air.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Those First Steps

The best advice I got from my readers to improve my health was to walk.  It requires no special equipment and can be done almost anytime and anywhere.  I just read a recent study that revealed that the best way to lengthen our telomeres which lie at the ends of our chromosomes and keep us from aging was walking and standing...even better than actual exercise!

So two days ago I took a 7 and a half mile walk in the woods around a nearby artificial lake.  Yesterday I spent several hours wearing a weight vest as I cleaned house, vacuuming and mopping all the floors.

If you want to enjoy with me the beautiful walk I took,  go here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Bite of Reality.

Since the Ebola epidemic is on almost everyone's mind these days, I think it is time for me to do a health post.  I just wanted to update a few of you who know that I have been struggling with some small health concerns prior to my trip to Ireland and after my return.  I will not do this again as I hate writing about my health!  What a bore!

Anyway, there was a time just last year when I could brag/blog that I was under no prescription medications.  I was shooting toward 70 and still in reasonably good health.  Then this year I changed doctors and after a whole battery of new tests and a couple of lingering illnesses and resulting doctor's visits I have been informed that I have osteoporosis and must take a prescription for that along with calcium and vitamin D supplements in goodly number.

Also, since my lungs decided to turn themselves inside out this summer and I had a chronic cough for no discernible reason,  I was given an an x-ray just before my trip.  I was also given heavy duty cough medicine.  The X-ray showed several things: that I "probably have underlying mild COPD," I certainly have a mild scoliosis and definitely have some bone degeneration in the scapula.  This diagnosis and a collection of prescriptions to loosen phlegm in my lungs and reduce coughing at night made me pull up for a time. 

Then 4 days upon my return I got a sore throat which went into an upper respiratory virus and I was back to coughing once again.  Upon my return I was given something even stronger and the result was that I lacked energy for a while and the contrast from my high energy activities while in Ireland gave me pause about all this drugging.  Last week I still was weak from my flu that I probably caught in the Dublin airport or on the plane and added to  all of the above I added a mild depression to my disposition.  The depression seemed to me to be both psychological and chemical!  Researching COPD was not helpful.

As I weaned myself off the medicines for the lung infection I got my energy back and my creative urges have now returned along with a better disposition.  I am almost back to normal.  I am lifting hand weights again trying to strengthen back muscles for my lungs.  I am sleeping much, much better as well. I have far less health issues than many of my loved ones, so no complaining here.

But, reality bites, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


I was thinking about the comments that I got from my last post about the young man in the grocery store.  I guess I did give the impression that I looked down my nose at grocery clerks.  I do not, although it is not a job I would want to have.  I respect anyone who can stand on their feet all day and deliver a presence in their work and still have the energy to be pleasant and make small talk.  I also realize that it was my shortsightedness that indicated he would have no future in this career path.

My own view on savings, though, comes from my history.   I had to save money all of my life, even when I was a kid.  Money was set aside for holiday gifts long before stuff for myself.  As I got older, a certain percentage was set aside for college expenses.  Maybe I felt free of money pressures when I was under ten, but never after that.  I grew up in a family where saving money was as important as praying is in other families.  Save for life improvement, save for a rainy day and if there was some left over save for something fun.

I never went on vacations (except for camping or visiting relatives) until much, much, later in my life.   As a young woman clothes were purchased when necessary and repaired as needed.  Fashion was considered a way to lose money easily.   We grew much of our own food.  I sewed most of my clothes and those of my children...all as a means of saving money.  I am now in a very different economic group ( I think, due in part, to being frugal in my youth), and feeling thankful if sometimes a little embarrassed for that.

I have a republican nephew who feels strongly that poor people are poor because they are lazy and stupid and that liberals are short-sighted in wanting to raise the minimum wage to reward these low-class people who have demonstrated a lack of effort in furthering themselves.  He thinks that hamburger flippers are stupid for taking such a low paying job in the first place.  He feels you make your own breaks.  To a small extent he is right.  But to a large extent chaos reigns in peoples lives and many people get broken through no fault of their own.

But for a liberal such as I, when in front of such a cavalier young earner as my grocery clerk in this day and age, I almost think a little more like a republican.