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Sunday, December 10, 2017

How Do Libraries Keep books organized

For a short time while I was in high-school I worked in the library. It was a learning experience to say the least but it was also lots of fun. With so many books it was quite a job to find books that were requested, reshelf books that had been returned and to simply keep it all together. 
Have you ever wondered how libraries keep all the books organized?? One main way is via the Dewey Decimal system. The system is a library classification of sorts that was invented by Melvil Dewey. Dewey was born on December 10, 1851 all these years later we still celebrate December 10th to honor Dewey and the Dewey Decimal system. 

Melvil Dewey was a simple man and he liked it that way. As an American librarian he used library science to create the Dewey Decimal Classification system at the mere age of 21. Dewey established library standards and advanced library education. He would later develop the American Library association as well as found and edit the Library journal. As his side job he would sell library supplies. Melvil Dewey would also establish the first library school in New York City.
The Dewey Decimal system has been in use since 1876. Dewey an American librarian developed the system and helped establish it to be used as a classification system in libraries. Over 100 years later the system is staying up to date with modern technologies included. A schedule of expansions and revisions help keep the system current and progressive. The Dewey Decimal System is used in 135 countries around the world and translated into 30 different languages. 

Gift In A Jar

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup toffee bits

In a quart-sized glass jar, lightly pack the brown sugar into the bottom. Sprinkle the chocolate chips into an even layer over the brown sugar. Spoon in the flour gradually and smooth into an even layer. Add the baking powder and salt. Add the pecans or walnuts on top. Finally add the toffee bits. Fasten a lid and ring to the jar. Attach the following instructions.
To make the blondies, in a medium bowl, whisk together 2 large eggs, 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add the contents of the jar and mix well.
Lightly grease an 8X8-inch baking pan and spread the batter evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until baked through (don’t overbake!).

Holiday Fruit Soup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup peach juice or nectar (like Kern’s brand)
3 1/2 tablespoons minute or quick-cooking tapioca (not large or small pearl)
1 1/2 cups orange juice
2 cans (11 ounces each) mandarin oranges, undrained
1 quart bottled or canned sliced peaches, drained (cut the peaches into smaller chunks, if needed)
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 cup blueberries

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, water, peach juice/nectar, and tapioca. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 12 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl or other container. Stir in the orange juice and cover the dish. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely chilled or up to several days.
Stir in the mandarin oranges, sliced peaches, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Chill until ready to serve (no longer than an hour or so once the fresh fruit has been added).

Use fresh fruit for the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries but you could definitely try subbing frozen fruit. You could also change up the fruit you’d like to use. My sister-in-law, Erin, loves to add bananas and I believe she uses frozen raspberries which gives the soup a pretty red color.

The base of the soup can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. Simply stir in the fresh fruit before serving. Also, the overall sweetness of the soup will be determined by the peach juice/nectar you use as well as the type of fruit (and how ripe or in-season it is). I’ve reduced the sugar from the original version but if you feel like it may not be sweet enough, up the sugar to 3/4 cup.

If you want a thinner consistency, cut the tapioca down to just 3 tablespoons and/or add additional peach nectar or orange juice at the end.

Be Aware of Each Other

December 10th 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950 all states and organizations were invited to observe Human Rights Day on December 10th. Since that time each year on December 10th Human Rights Day is observed.

The various freedoms that we have been guaranteed is what Human Rights Day is all about. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. Our daily existence is determined and demands our human rights. Today's world many do not have freedom to be their selves. With nearly 20 million individuals being modern day slaves, another million have no access to clean water. With so many advances in this would you would not think those numbers possible, but they are. Likewise there are 2 + billion lives including children that do not have adequate sanitation One of the saddest facts is that 22,000 + children under 5 die each year due to simply being under the poverty line. 

These number surprise me. Maybe years ago, but not today, not in the world that I am included in. The sad thing is that many may know the facts and choose to ignore them. They choose not to know facts about those different than them. With differences both physical and behavioral choosing to love one another is a big deal. There are those that feel they must bee in charge for one reason or another. Whether it be political, cultural, religious, gender, race or ability that makes one feel they stand out that gives no one the reason to not honor the human rights of others. 

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. We are all one family created in my humble opinion by our God. We are in this world and should learn to live as one. 

Tater Tot Casserole

6 eggs
1 lb ground sausage
1 cup milk
16 oz pkg frozen tater tots
2½ cups shredded cheese
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 13X9 baking dish.
Brown your sausage, drain grease and spread in bottom of baking dish.
In a large bowl, beat together milk, eggs, salt and pepper.
Cover the sausage in the casserole dish with the egg mixture.
Cover with one cup of cheese (If you will be serving this the next morning like I did, cover and refrigerate at this point, you will be performing the next steps in the morning).
Spread 16 oz of tater tots on top of the cheese.
Add the remainder of the cheese on top.
Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
Let cool for 2-3 minutes then serve and enjoy!

Friday, December 8, 2017

The old Westport Spice Company

The Olde Westport Spice company has been around for 36+ years. The company began in a family kitchen where Olde Bill was known as a cook extraordinaire. In his kitchen he would try different recipes adding spice blends to compliment the dish. This helped boost his love of cooking and others thought the spice blends boosted the taste of the food. Soon the spices were available in local Kansas City retail stores and later through mail order. It only took a bit later for the Olde Westport Spicee & Trading Company to begin. Now, 30 + years later the company has grown into a successful wholesale and online retail spice, seasoning, and dry soup retailer. The commitment to quality, customer service and reasonable rates have been with the company since the beginning.

For more information or to place an order, please visit or call 1-800-537-6470.

Some of the great products available include:

an Italian seasoning blend to dress up all those pasta dishes. Cook up this great recipe , just one available online at the Old Westport Spice company website.

2 (14½ ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
½ cup burgundy wine (regular or cooking wine)
4 tablespoons Antonio’s Italian Spice Blend®
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 small sirloin steaks (use any cut of meat)
16 ounces (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles

In a sauce pan, combine stewed tomatoes, wine, Antonio’s Italian Spice Blend® and cheese. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until thickened. Heat oil in a skillet and brown steaks on both sides. Place steaks in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Pour sauce over steaks, spread Mozzarella cheese evenly over top and place into a preheated 350 degree oven 45 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare egg noodles to package directions. Serve steaks with noodles on the side and spoon sauce over both.

Want even more great recipes?? Check out their cookbook collection. 

Be Safe Out There=== Tips for Older Drivers

We all know that we can not stay young forever. The age of those living in the United States is getting older. The physical,  mental and sensory abilities of older individuals can decrease the ability to do things for those that are getting older. Driving is one of those activities. 
The thoughts between older folks driving and Occupational therapist is vehicle safety. Older Driver Safety Awareness Week occurs this year December 4th - 8th. The goal is to help all understand th importanc of mobility and transportation to ensure older adults remain active in the community. To allow older adults to continue to shop, work and volunteer without barrier to get around. 

At the age of 16 for many of us driving became a right of passage. A gateway to freedom and part of the growing up process This for many mean that we have the right to drive as long as we have the ability to do so. As we get older though reaction time slows, night blindness is a new behavior and pain many older individuals also have pain that may hinder driving skills. Learning ideas and tips can help those in their golden years drive as long as they can. 
  • Arthritis in hands makes small things like seat belts hard to manage. One tip is to attach a cloth loop to the seat belt to make grabbing the belt easier. To depress the seat belt latch use a small tool to press in the click button. 
  • Older drivers may have a bit of anxiety with driving. Not being able to see the best to drive at night may be one of those fears. For many older drivers choosing to drive only during daylight hours offers a bit of relief. Errands should be planned to be done at times where the roads are not as busy. Whenever possible accept rides when you are not able to drive yourself. 
  • No driver should use a cell phone while driving. for older drivers with less reaction time this may be even more dangerous. They should look into using a caller I.D. and not texting or talking on phone while driving

Fight the Flu with the Flu Shot

As a health care employee I am offered and take the flu shot annually. There are many reasons as to why others (including you) should be vaccinated as well. Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and at times death. Flu season is not the same every year as there are different strands of the virus. The flu can also affect people differently. Even if you do not get sick yourself you can get others sick by spreading it to them. In the years between 1976 and 2007 an estimated 3,000 to 49,000 deaths have been associated with influenza. Over 2/3s of these deaths associated with those over the age of 65.

The flu virus can be slowed by the flu shot or nasal spray flu vaccine. Seasonal flu can be reduced as well as spreading it to others by using one of the vaccine methods. More individuals to be vaccinated means less chance the flu has to spread through out the community. Older individuals as well as individuals with chronic health conditions, young children, should be vaccinated as well as all those they come into daily contact with.

The flu vaccination may not always stop the illness but if one does get it the symptoms should be milder. Hospitalizations and deaths are often curbed by using the vaccination. So get your flu shot, wash your hands and stay healthy this winter season.

Happy Birthday Popeye and a Gift of a Spinach Recipe he would Love

Living in Southern Illinois with a husband who grew up in Chester Illinois, the home of popeye, I simply have to wish the sailor man a Happy Birthday. Elzie Crisler Segar creeated the fictional character of Popeye the Sailor. Popeye made his entrance January 17th, 1929 and since that time has appeared in theater, television and comic strips.

The one eyed sailor man is featured in his own comic strip. During the 1930s his popularity grew. Segar would pass away in 1938 but the comic strip would continue to grow with aide of other writers and artists. Popeye would be captured in a series of theatrical cartoon shorts for Paramount pictures in 1933. As time would go on Popeye would be featured in arcade games, advertisements and on products from spinach to candy. Robin Williams would star in a 1980 film as Popeye.

6 cup fresh spinach leaves trimmed, washed (230 g) see note for frozen/cooked spinach
3 cup boiling water
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated cheese (60g) - I used Cheddar, use grated parmesan or grated emmental for more cheese flavor
1/4 cup fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped I used cilantro
1 cup Gluten Free Panko Crumbs (75 g)
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat oven to  350 F (180 C).
Trim and wash the fresh spinach leaves.
Place the leaves in a large mixing bowl and over with boiling water. Cover and set aside for 3 minutes.
Rinse the spinach with cold tap water. Drain using your hands to squeeze all the remaining water. You should obtain about 2/3 cup (160 g) of packed cooked spinach leaves. If you are using frozen spinach, defrost and measure this quantity.
Place on a chop board and finely chop the cooked spinach. Transfer into a mixing bowl.
Add eggs, cheese, herbs and panko gluten free crumbs. You can also add salt and pepper if your cheese is not very salty. I did not add salt.
Combine with a spoon or your hands, until it forms a batter from which you are able to form balls with your hands or use a small cookie scoop maker to avoid the mess
If too moist add slightly more crumb until easy to roll as ball with your hands palms.
Place the balls on a non-stick cookie tray covered with baking paper.
Bake at 350F (180C) for 15-20 minutes or until golden on the top.
Serve immediately or cold in luchboxes.
Serve with dips of your choice like pesto, hummus or homemade ketchup.

Peppermint Brownies

Peppermint Brownies
adapted from Ghirardelli

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup crushed candy canes (about 3 candy canes)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposite sides (so you can easily lift the brownies out).  Spray the prepared pan with cooking spray.

Add the unsweetened chocolate and butter to a heatproof bowl, and set it over a pan of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter have melted completely.  Cool the mixture to room temperature.  In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, peppermint extract and salt until well combined.  Add the chocolate mixture, whisking to combine, and then use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour.

Pour the batter (it’ll be fairly thick) into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chopped semisweet chocolate evenly over the top of the brownies.  Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute, or until the chocolate softens.  Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate in an even layer over the brownies.  Sprinkle immediately with the chopped candy canes.

Cool the brownies completely in the pan then use the foil handles to lift the brownies from the pan and cut them into squares.

Immaculate Conception and a recipe to Celebrate the Day with

The Feast of Immaculate Conception observed each year on December 8th celebrates the solemn celebration of belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The feast is observed around the world and is one of the most important dates in the Roman Catholic church.

Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain, and the United States observe The Feast of Immaculate Conception as a pontifical designation and decree. The pope , the Bishop of Rome, will visit the Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna There he will offer prayers during a solemn event. Popes have been participating in this anually since 1708 when Pope Clement XII solemnized the event.

Parades, fireworks, processions, ethnic foods, and cultural festivities will be offered to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary. The day is often considered a family day An amazing feast is often hosted by many on this wondrous day. All will dine on a meal with family and then share a delicious dessert in most cases. This cake may be one choice to serve on this day

2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 t vanilla
3 egg whites, room temp
1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon half & half
2 tablespoon hot water
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl.
Add milk, shortening and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
Beat at medium speed until well blended.
Add egg whites, beat 2 minutes.
Pour batter into greased and floured 13″x9″ pan.
Bake at 350° F degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cake tests done with a toothpick.
Melt butter in heavy saucepan.
Cook over low heat until butter is golden brown.
Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, half & half, water and vanilla.
Beat with a whisk for 3 minutes, or until smooth.
Spread evenly over top of cake.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Braided Candy Cane Cookie Recipe

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon green food coloring

Using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, cream the butter. Continue beating and gradually add the sugar.
Beat in the egg until evenly mixed, then add the vanilla extract, the peppermint extract, and the salt and blend well.
Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour, one third at a time, until evenly mixed.
Divide the dough into thirds. Add the red food coloring to one third and the green food coloring to another, then knead the coloring into the dough. Flatten each third into a K-inch-thick rectangle, cover it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll a pair of tablespoon-size pieces of contrasting colored dough into 8-inch-long ropes. Twist them together, pinch the ends, then bend the cookies into a candy cane shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet until set but not brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. Cool the sheets on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to continue cooling.

Be Sure To Wash Your Hands

 National Hand washing Awareness Week happens the first full week of December every year. It is a great time to remind us all that hand washing is very important. The hope behind this week is to decrease the spread of the flu and other infection diseases by informing individuals to educate and help others in their communities. 
The CDC states that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands. By frequently washing your hands you wash away germs that you have picked up from other people, contaminated surfaces and pets.Wash your hands when:
  • you cough, sneeze or blow your nose
  • after eating or touching food
  • after using the bathroom
  • when you come in from work or playing outdoors
  • play with a pet or pick up animal waste

Using alcohol based hand sanitizer is a great way to wash your hands These require no water making them convenient. However, if hands are visibly dirty, wash your hands with soap and water.

Using soap and water is the best way to wash your hands. To do so wet hands with warm running water. Use a small amount of soap either bar or liquid soap. Rub hands together about 10 times. Wash up to your wrist and out to the finger tips. Rinse hands under warm running water. Don't forget to dry hands well with towel. 

Many uses of cookie cutters

The first weekend in December is always known as cookie cutter week. It is a great time to get out those cookie cutters that you have collected just waiting for a good time to use them. It is also a great time to go buy a new cookie cutter or two. The best thing of all to do this week is to bake up some cookies using the cutters and make a few memories.

The National Cookie Cutter Week was started in the mid 1990s by Paula Mullins from Kentucky. She wanted to bring attention to her cookie cutter collector's club. A cookie cutter is a tool used to cut out cookie dough in a particular shape. There are few variations to cookie cutters. The cutout cookie cutters are made of copper, tin, stainless steel, aluminum or plastic. These cutters are the simplest cooki cutter and are simply used to "cut out" the shape in dough.

Cookie cutters that are made out of copper, tin or plastic and are not only used to cut out the dough but to also imprint details. The imprint will last on the dough through baking.

Cookie molds are special cookie cutters made out of wood, ceramic or plastic. Cookie molds can be traced back to the 14th century.

Cookie press can be automated or hand operated. The press is used to make large batches of cookies quickly.

Cookie Cutters can be used for more than just cookies. Cookie cutters can be used to cut and shape tea sandwiches and more :

  • Any dessert firm enough to hold shape can be cut with cookie cutters. Fudge, rice krispies treats, and brownies are all great to cut into fun shapes. 
  • Cookie cutters can be great at breakfast time for omelets or pancakes. Metal cookie cutters will need to be used here. 
  • Mini cookie cutters are great to help decorate a pie. Put designs on the top crust of pie making it really fun
  • cookies and cakes often run together and when it comes to decorating it works well. Cookie cutters can be used to make impressions in a cake's frosting or make a stencil for sprinkling colored  sugar or sprinkles. Tiny cookie cutters are great for fondant 
  • summer time can be even more fun when you fill cookie cutters with softened ice cream and refreeze til hard. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes out of cookies or cakes and create ice cream sandwiches. 
  • Use cookie cutters to dress up appetizers, pasta, pizza, potato salad or any meal. Cheese, meats, veggies can all be cut out using cookie cutters and displayed on a tray. Another fun idea is to cut pepperoni into shapes to place on pizza. 
What is your favorite cookie cutter shape?? Other than cookies what do you like to do with your cookie cutters

Crockpot Beef Stew

2 pounds beef stew meat, (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
6oz can tomato paste
32oz beef broth
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups baby carrots carrots
4-5 small red potatoes,cut into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cups frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup water

 Combine beef, celery, carrots, red onion, potatoes, salt,  pepper, garlic, parsley, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, and tomato paste in the crock pot. I used a 6 qt crockpot for this stew.  Cook on LOW for 10 hours or on HIGH for 6-7 hours.

 About 30 minutes before serving, mix the flour and the water together in a small dish and pour into the crockpot. Mix until well combined. This will add a nice thickness to the stew. Next add in your frozen peas and corn. Continue cooking covered for 30 minutes.

Make A Candy Airplane in Honor of Civil Aviation Day

Each year on December 7th in the United States International Civil Aviation Day is observed. The Organization of Civil Aviation was established in 1944 by the U.N. General Assembly. The goal was to manage the administration and governance of the Convention of International Civil Aviation. During this one day celebration the importance of international civil aviation and how it impacts the social and economic development of the country is discussed.

Smarties candy
1 Red stick chewing gum (Big Red)
2 Peppermint Lifesavers (individually wrapped kind)
Rubberband (medium to small sized and thin)
Small heart stickers

Open up your Lifesavers from their wrappers and insert the rubber band through them.  Position the Smarties candy between the Lifesavers over top of the rubber band.  Place the stick of gum across the top and loop the ends of the rubber band over the gum to hold it all in place.  Add small heart stickers to the top of the gum to make it more festive!

Cotton Candy Helps Make Christmas Sweeter

It seems that many of us love cotton candy so why not decorate this delicious treat. A sweet treat of Christmas fudge can offer a delicious flavor of cotton candy as well

1 container (7 oz) Marshmallow Fluff
2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup Truvia Baking Blend
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Pinch of Salt
1 packet Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Cotton Candy flavor

Prepare 9 inch square pan with parchment paper or wax paper
In a large mixing bowl, add the marshmallow fluff and white chocolate chips
In a medium saucepan, combine butter, Truvia Baking Blend, heavy cream and salt
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and boil for 5 minutes, continuing to stir
Remove from heat, whisk in the Cotton Candy flavor packet until mixture is smooth
Carefully pour into large mixing bowl and beat until smooth
Pour mixture into pan and spread evenly
Place in fridge to set at least 2 hours or overnight
Cut into small squares to serve

Do You Remember

December 7th 1941 is a date in history that will live forever in infamy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt shared is thoughts with the United States on December 8th 1941. The day after Pearl Harbor was attacked. There were 2,403 lives lost and nearly 2000 other individuals were injured. Lives were not the only thing damage or lost as battleships, cruisers, destroyers and other air craft were lost or destroyed.

Every year since the attack December 7th has been "observed" as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Millions of individuals will travel to the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii. Those who survived the terrible day and those that have heard the story will all travel to pay tribute and remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.