This Month's Featured Resources...

Father's DayTravel - CookingLatin WW2

Wednesday, September 30

Breakfast in America (Supertramp)

After several hours of sleep, your body needs fuel to get going, and not providing it can have detrimental effects.  Eating breakfast helps with weight loss and increases your concentration and awareness throughout the morning. 

Ten reasons you should eat breakfast every day!  It will give you...
  1. Better Concentration
  2. Eat Healthier All Day
  3. Improved Metabolic Function
  4. Weight Control
  5. More Energy
  6. Lower Cholesterol
  7. Boost Your Immune System
  8. Maintaining Blood Sugar Levels
  9. Digestive Health
  10. Mood Enhancer

Take it to the Next Level

Many of us are on the go, and just don't take the time for a healthy breakfast.  Try one of these four freezer cooking ideas for a quick & healthy morning!

Egg and Black Bean Breakfast Burritos
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 18 eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil of choice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium chop
  • 1 large green bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, medium chop
  • 1 large red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, medium chop
  • 2 1/2 c cooked black beans
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin, divided use
  • 3 c grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 c loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 15 tortillas, burrito-sized (at least 7 inches in diameter)

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in the eggs and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula frequently until the eggs are softly cooked. Season generously with salt and pepper and pour onto a large plate or platter to cool to room temperature.
  2. Rinse or wash the skillet, coat the bottom with the oil, and return to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and 1/2 tbsp cumin. Saute until the onions are translucent, season with salt and pepper, and pour onto a large plate or platter to cool to room temperature.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the black beans, remaining 1/2 tbsp cumin, and two big pinches of salt.
  4. Fill each burrito a layer of beans, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and cilantro. Try to fill the burrito about 1/3 the way full and to evenly distribute between all the tortillas – It doesn’t have to be perfect; just eyeball it. Wrap the burrito (I tried to do mine as they do at Moe’s) and place on a large baking sheet.
  5. Move the burritos to the freezer for at least an hour, then transfer to a freezer bag until ready to eat. Microwave until heat through (ours took only a minute).

French Toast Sticks
  • 4 slices Texas Toast (or other hearty, thick-cut bread)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter, slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray very well and set aside. Cut bread slices into thirds then set aside.
  2. In a large shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dunk bread sticks into batter, let excess drip off, then place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 16-18 minutes, spraying the tops of the French Toast Sticks with non-stick spray before flipping halfway through.
  3. To freeze: Let French Toast Sticks cool then place onto a baking sheet and freeze in the freezer. Transfer to a freezer bag or container when hard. To reheat, microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Banana Oat Mini Muffins
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • dash of cinnamon

  1. Mix all ingredients up, scoop into mini muffin tin. 
  2. Bake for 10 minutes or until muffins are set.

Omelet Mini-Muffins

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, finely copped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 large eggs whisked
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 pound sausage, ground pork, beef or turkey (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Saute onions in olive oil for 2-3 minutes, then add peppers and saute for another 2-3 minutes. I had some ground pork so I added 1/2 pound of it at the same time as the peppers and cooked it until the meat was no longer pink.
  2. Whisk eggs in a large bowl while the peppers are cooking. When the veggies are done cooking, remove them from the heat and let them cool for a couple of minutes. Then mix them into the eggs and add your salt and pepper.
  3. Coat a muffin pan with olive oil spray and fill each cup with 1/4 cup of the egg mixture. Cook them in the oven for 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your muffin tin, and remove when the tops get fluffy and golden brown.

Friday, September 25

Beautiful Thing (Sister Hazel)

An art colony or artists' colony is a place where creative practitioners live and interact with one another...
Spruce Village in Grantsville, MD is a non profit organization aimed at preserving and promoting crafts and traditions that have been part of the local mountain heritage for generations.  Visitors are encouraged to stop in the artist studios inside the cabins, where the artists work and display and sell their art.  Classes and artist workshops are also available throughout the summer.

Did we know any of that when we rolled off the highway...desperately in search of lunch?  Nope.  But what a pleasant surprise!!!!!!!
This artisan was creating wooden salt and pepper shakers, bowls, and platters.  They were beautiful!!
Some of the artists use reclaimed materials to create new works, such as this metal worker.  We were asked not to take photos inside...but these recycled pieces were breathtaking!
We ate lunch at the Penn Alps restaurant first -- it was ok, albeit a bit overpriced.  This was a great place to stop, grab a bite to eat, and stroll around to stretch our legs.  The scenery was like stepping into another time and place!
Also at the colony is the House of Yoder.  The house is modeled after the homes built in the  mid-1700s by Yoder immigrants from Switzerland.  Inside the Yoder House, you can view an excellent presentation of Yoder history in Europe, and research Yoder genealogy in the Genealogy Lab.  We just enjoyed poking around the house, appreciating the architecture and construction and taking notes on the fantastic root cellar!!
Within the long-term colony (residents living there year-round) are a soap maker and a weaver.  If you're ever passing through Grantsville, take an hour to mosey around the village and watch the craftsmen at work.  AND if you can get there around Christmastime, check out their events calendar!!

  • Dec 4th & 5th - Christmas in the Village - FREE - noon-8pm - fireside storytelling, free refreshments, holiday gifts, cookie art, musical programs, and artisan gifts
Arts & Spruce Village Unit :

Thursday, September 24

Shoo Fly Pie & Apple Pan Dowdy (June Christie)

Crock Pot Apple Crisp 

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/ 2 cup light brown sugar 
  • 1 cup white sugar, divided 
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1/ 4 tsp. ground nutmeg 
  • a pinch of salt 
  • 1/ 2 cup butter, cubed  
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch 
  • 1/ 2 tsp. ground ginger 
  • 6 cups apple cored, chopped 
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice 
  1. Into a bowl, combine flour with brown sugar, halves of white sugar and cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well. 
  2. Press butter, mix until crumbly mixture is formed. Set aside. 
  3. Into another bowl, mix remaining sugar and cinnamon, corn starch and ginger. Set aside. 
  4. Place apples into a 6-quart slow cooker, mix in corn starch mixture, drizzle lemon juice and toss to coat. 
  5. Scatter crumbly flour mixture over the top, cover and cook on High for about 2 hours or until tender.
  6. Remove cover and set aside for an hour to harden the topping. 
  7. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Apple Butter 

  • 16 cups unpeeled apples, cored and chopped 
  • 2 cups apple cider 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 2 cups sugar 
  • 1/ 4 tsp. cloves 
  • 1/ 4 tsp. ginger, minced 
  1. Into a slow-cooker, combine apples and apple cider vinegar. 
  2. Put cover and cook on Low for about 12 hours. 
  3. Cool just enough to handle. 
  4. Using an immersion blender, process the apples until smoothly pureed. 
  5. Mix in sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. 
  6. Replace cover and cook for another hour on low.
Some of our favorite tools of the trade!

Wednesday, September 23

Country, When Country Wasn't Cool (Barbara Mandrell)

We rolled into Nashville in the afternoon, stopping to visit the Parthenon and Centennial Park before heading down to Music Row to soak up the culture.  What we hadn't counted on was not being able to take the kids into most of the places after a certain time...luckily, a few are "open bars," which allowed us to stand outside and listen to the music.

Traffic in this area of town is insane!  Find a parking lot, pay your fee, and walk as much as possible.  Most of the museums, like the Ryman Auditorium and Country Music Hall of Fame, are within walking distance.  The modern-day Grand Ol' Opry House is a few miles away, however, and you'll have to drive over there.
The small museums are just as much fun as the larger ones!  We visited the Johnny Cash Museum, the Sun Records Museum, and the Dukes of Hazzard Museum.  Many of these discourage photography inside.
The highlight of our stop, however, was the Ryman Auditorium.  The youngest is as much into music as his momma, and we had special arrangements to record our very own duet!!!  Life can be very cruel, however, and this is how that day began :
Oh well.  No worries...we'd just have fun!  After hanging around waiting for it to open, and appreciating the architectural grandeur of the building, we headed in for a behind-the-scenes tour of the former home to the Grand Ol' Opry!

After dancing around a bit, and getting the wiggles out, the kids met with Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff.  We got a little history of the Ryman and watched Minnie work her comic magic!
The auditorium itself hasn't changed much over the years.  Granted, it fell into ruin and was completely renovated, but standing there now is like being there sixty years ago.  It's easy to fall back in time and fall in love with classic country all over again.  The equipment, however, is state-of-the-art, and they produce several shows there each year.
Around the sides of the auditorium are several cases filled with country music memorabilia, such as Patsy Cline's gold record and classic outfit; the dress worn by Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter; one of Johnny Cash's black suits; and much much more!
Finally, it was time to step into the recording studio with my little bug-a-boo and record our duet.  There are only a handful of songs to choose from for the recording, and that was very difficult since he only knew one of them.  On the other hand, we didn't obsess over which song to record!!  Hank Williams Sr. is not an artist that my voice lends itself to on a regular day, and the combination of his speech impediments with my throaty hoarseness was...interesting.  We had a blast!!  And we recorded a song that will remain safely tucked away in our own home.  But you know, #YOLO.  You only live once!  Make it count! 

Grand Ol' Opry Unit :

Tuesday, September 22

Mad World (Tears for Fears)

I have to be honest and say that I had a hard time writing this piece.  While being an integral step on the road to good health, forgiveness is not something that comes naturally to me.  I am a very loyal person...loyal to a fault at times.  

If we're on good terms, I will back you 110%.  (Or if we're not on good terms, but you are a sibling.  After all, you can pick on your siblings, but heaven forbid if anyone else does!!)  However, if you cross that bridge, and burn it, I have a really hard time trusting it to be rebuilt.  

Maybe it's an innate nature.  Maybe it's the result of my past.  Who knows.  Either way....forgiveness is something that we all need to work on.  Myself, particularly.

Why forgive?

Forgiveness is not just about saying the words. “It is an active process in which you make a conscious decision to let go of negative feelings whether the person deserves it or not,” Swartz says. As you release the anger, resentment and hostility, you begin to feel empathy, compassion and sometimes even affection for the person who wronged you.  It does not mean having to forget or condone the wrongdoing committed against you.

Studies have found that some people are just naturally more forgiving. Consequently, they tend to be more satisfied with their lives and to have less depression, anxiety, stress, anger and hostility. People who hang on to grudges, however, are more likely to experience severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as other health conditions.

Here are all the physical and mental benefits you can reap by learning to forgive:
  • Forgiving unconditionally could mean a longer lifespan.
  • It gets you out of that angry mode.
  • It helps your health across the board (including your sleep!).
  • Making amends helps you forgive yourself.
  • Your heart will thank you, with lowered risk for cardiac disease.
  • It could have immune system benefits.
  • It can strengthen your relationship after infidelity. 
  • Being a forgiving person could protect against long term stress.

Take it to the Next Level

Think of someone that could use your forgiveness.  What will granting that do for them?  What will it do for YOU?  Call them up, or go visit (don't do it through a text or email), and reach across that canyon.  You don't have to rebuild the bridge, but it might be time to clear the ashes.

Thursday, September 17

Houses of the Holy (Led Zeppelin)

After toodling around Pennsylvania, touring the US Mint, Independence Hall, Iron Furnace, and Hershey Factory, we hopped in the car and headed south down I-81.  We've driven across most of the country in the past year, but this is one road that we'll be happy to never set wheels on again!  Six hours, and one hundred twenty miles, later (you do the math) we quit for the evening.
With all that sitting-in-traffic time, we got to play around with the new car's features and learn a few things.  The next stop was Nashville, so we set the radio for classic country, to get into the mood!  
Finally, better late than never, we rolled into Centennial Park, where there is an exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece.  You can pay to go in and see the replica Athena statue, but you can also get a great history lesson without going inside.
We had recently finished our study of Ancient Greece, so we took some time to study the friezes on the pediment of the temple.  Inside the building are the actual molds used to re-create the frieze.  You can follow the process of copying the original Parthenon in Greece, and 'meet' the team that made it happen!
Take some time to identify the gods and goddesses as you look at them.  Next identify what type of column was used to build the Parthenon.  
Contrary to popular impression, Greek statues and temples were not pure white. They were painted in what we would regard today as bright, garish colors.  Case in point, check out Athena and her accoutrements.
From the Parthenon, head over to the obelisk that's going to be to your left on the backside of the Parthenon.  This park was created to celebrate Nashville's Centennial, and they've got an amazing historical monument celebrating the achievements of Nashville.  Take some time to see what they considered to be important about their town.  While you're at it, stroll around Centennial Park.  It's a great leg-stretch stop!

For more on Greek Mythology, check out our post Z is for Zeus!

Greek Goddesses Unit