Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Finally, It's Spring in Central Pennsylvania!

It's springtime! Everything around us in Central Pennsylvania whispers of the beginning of spring ever since the calendar has been turned to April. The onion snow has melted, and warmer temperatures have antsy homeowners mowing lawns and inspecting the flora and fauna in their yards.

The rhubarb has valiantly pushed itself out of the ground, fearless of freezing nights. Fiddleheads have recently appeared, along with the first dandelions the bees have patiently been waiting for.
 Lilac bushes are decked out in green buds and tiny purple blossom tips which will transform into delicate, lavender flowers to make the evening air smell sweet and pleasurable. Daffodils and the tiny Muscari Latifolium, from the grape hyacinth clan, have popped up and spread out low to the still-chilly ground.

The chickadees and cardinals, two of the first birds to appear each spring, have found the seed feeders and persistently call to their respective mates. Sparrows sing a merry tune while a nearby wren just chatters her displeasure like a cranky child.

Canada geese, winging north, honk out a lonesome sound  and skim the trees looking for the safety of water where they’ll rest for the night before taking flight the next day. And in the swamps, marshes and pond perimeters, the peepers send up a nightly chorus of a song reminding everyone that finally—yes, it’s springtime in Pennsylvania. Finally!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Happy Easter with Polish Haluski - Fried Cabbage, Ham & Noodles

Two Recipes

            Haluski (Recipe 1)
2 1/2 Cups fully cooked ham, cubed small
     (Note: bacon or sausage can be substituted)
1 3/4 cups white onion, diced
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds cabbage, cut into bite-sized 
1 teaspoons salt  (if using bacon delete 
       this ingredient)    
1 teaspoon olive oil
8 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon freshly black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
8 ounces dry egg noodles


In a large skillet, over medium high-heat, cook the ham cubes in 3 tablespoons of the butter until they start to slightly brown, about 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons butter more to the pan, then add in the minced garlic, onions and sauté for roughly 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, oil, salt and both peppers, mix then cover reduce to medium heat and cook for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to package, then drain. Once cabbage mixture is tender, add in the drained noodles. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and cook for about 2 minutes. 

Haluski  (Recipe 2)
Happy Easter!


4 cups egg noodles
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sliced sweet onions, about 1/8 inch thick
2 teaspoons brown sugar
6 cups cabbage, sliced thin
1 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)
1 cup diced ham, sausage or bacon (optional)

  1. Cook egg noodles according to package directions, then drizzle with a bit of oil to prevent the noodles from sticking together and set aside.
  2. While noodles are cooking, melt butter in large deep skillet over medium-low heat.
  3. Add onion, sprinkle with brown sugar and saute, stirring occasionally for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened and just beginning to turn golden. Add optional desired meet at this point.
  4. Add cabbage to skillet, stirring well to incorporate with onion, and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in caraway seeds if using, then cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Turn heat back to medium, add cooked noodles, salt and pepper, and stir well until noodles are heated though. Serve hot.  Makes 4 servings.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Welcome Spring! ~*~ Daffodils - by William Wordsworth ~*~

In 1802 William and Dorothy Wordsworth's visited Glencoyne Park, in the Lake District of England.  On 15th April 1802, they passed the strip of land at Glencoyne Bay, called Ullswater. It is this visit that gave Wordsworth the inspiration to write his famous poem.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
  That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
  A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.                  

Continuous as the stars that shine
  And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
  Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
  Outdid the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
  In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
  In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
  Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

St. Patrick's Day - When Everyone Is Irish!

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States is the only day when everyone is Irish. It’s a time for wearing green, reveling with friends, drinking beer—often also green—eating Irish food, watching parades, and generally celebrating Irish culture, heritage and traditions. 

St. Patrick’s Day was officially declared a Christian feast day in the early seventeenth century in honor of St. Patrick. It was observed by many (Christian) religions because it commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

Patrick was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century to wealthy Roman Christian aristocrats. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland where he spent six years there working as a shepherd.
After making his way back home by escaping to Gaul, now France, Patrick became a priest and studied for fifteen years before returning to Ireland in 432. According to legend, St. Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans.
The first organized observance of St. Patrick’s Day in the British colonies was in 1737 when the Charitable Irish Society of Boston gathered to honor their motherland. During the American Revolution, George Washington, realizing his troops had a morale problem and in acknowledgment of the valiant Irish volunteers who served in his army, issued an order declaring the 17th of March to be a holiday for the troops in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
Throughout the years and throughout the United States, cities with Irish populations continued to celebrate the special occasion with parades and festivities. Even the White House celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, starting with President Harry Truman.
So to everyone, whether you are Irish or wannabe Irish, I lift my glass of ale and wish you this Irish blessing:
These things, I warmly wish for you
Someone to love, some work to do,
A bit of o' sun, a bit o' cheer.
And a guardian angel always near.
To your good health—“Slainte.”

Thursday, March 2, 2017

CRITICAL BOOK REVIEWS - Love them or hate them?

"Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration. 
Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought.” 
~ Mary Chase Smith

As much as we writers hate to admit it, we often read positive reviews of our work with smiles and enthusiastic enjoyment. On the other hand, when we receive a critical objective review, we too often get annoyed or depressed, instead of looking for value and constructive advice from it. That’s when it’s time for us to pause, consider the advice, sort out the positive, and hopefully apply the knowledge we’ve gained to our next creative works.

Let’s face it, we all want to hear how wonderful we are. But how does hearing only the good things help us to improve? Sure it builds our ego and makes us feel good. But what does it do to help us grow? How does it help us to face new challenges? To correct unknown mistakes? To set higher goals?

Sometimes we need to step back and ask some tough questions from our critics, friends, and associates. So how do you really feel about my work? What worked for you? What didn’t you like? Please be honest.

Only when we use criticism to learn something about ourselves, do we learn to make changes, grow, and better develop our work. 

Margaret Chase Smith served 32 years in Congress and was the first woman elected to both the House and Senate.  Although a champion for women’s issues, she was always clear about being seen as a U.S. Senator and not a woman Senator.  In 1964, she became the first credible female candidate for president.