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Friday, July 16, 2010


Ever need a new perspective? Friday I had the opportunity to obtain a perspective with a view. This was a bonus to a long needed vacation. Don't believe I need a vacation, just check with the woman in the audit department! Yes, I apologized. Anyway, back to point...when taking off there was a major, ugly looking storm just east of the airport. I knew we'd have to go around the storm to stay safe but was a little surprised to discover we went 100 miles west 50 miles north and back 100 miles east to begin going north!

At first I was a tad miffed that we were going west...I know those roads down there!... but then I began watching the countryside and how beautiful it was. The rain that caused so much heartache in many cities also was responsible for acres of beautiful green in a multitude of shades. The tree lines looked like veins of hope meandering throughout miles of nothingness - I wonder if the pioneers had the same sense of awe when traveling across the plains. The perspective; even though I might have a bad time (flooding) there is beauty just waiting for me to turn my head and look (the greens). Why is it that we tend put on the blinders when we go into the struggles of life and it takes a small tornado to get us to look the other way?

Anyway, as the plane turned north and the setting sun was blinding me as it came through the window, I closed the shade. After about 12 pages in my book I decided to take a look again. WOW! I'd never witnessed the effect of clouds, moisture, and a lowering sun like I did Friday night. As the shade went up I noticed a type of white rays with what appeared to be diamonds sprinkled on the ground. I think the diamonds were lights from cars and stores, but it was just amazing how it all came together to look like a fairy land.

Now the humor of the evening. That little jog from the normal routing into Chicago caused the flight to arrive at 9:22pm instead of 8:54pm and there were people actually running down the isles to try and catch a connection with a 5 minute window. My travel neighbor just looked at me and I said "She's very optimistic" he replied with "SHE is very unrealistic". I laughed!

Well there is the first venture of vacation 2010. Today we have to do last minute power shopping and pack both food and van. New York here we come! Holy Mole! I just received the bulletin of the departure time....4am!!!!!!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

small life lesson on a few exotic fruits ~*~

We had this wonderful church breakfast this morning and I had the honor of bringing fruit. Well, this brings up the question of just how much I know about some of the ‘exotic’ fruits like Mangoes, Kiwis, and various melons? I’m happy to report, quite a bit!

The biggest issue when selecting do I know if the fruit at the store is ripe. Well, like all internet people, I looked it up!

Let’s begin with a mango – this information is from

A mango is ripe and ready to be eaten when:

1. The colour turns from green to orange, red or rosy, depending on the variety.

2. The skin gives a little when pressed softly. If it is too mushy, the mango is over-ripe.

3. The mango gives off a delicious sweet fragrance.

Thank you! Cutting a mango used to be a mystery to me, but I finally found out the seed is the length of the fruit and shaped like an eye, narrow on the edges and fuller in the middle. Once I learned that shape I was able to get one cut up fairly well. There are cutters or splitters you can purchase, but once you understand the shape of the seed it is just as easy to use a knife. One note to remember – you peal the skin off and they are super slick!

I love to eat this fruit in a chutney type mixture. Simply dice Mango, onions, tomatoes, and add some red pepper flakes for punch. Serve this on noodles or chicken or a salad as dressing. Yummmmmy!

Now, Three Easy Ways to Cut a Mango (borrowed from Their website has great photos to help you along.

A mango has one long, flat seed in the center of the fruit. Once you learn how to work around the seed, the rest is easy.

Always use a clean knife and cutting board to cut a mango. If you've handled or cut any type of meat or seafood, you must ALWAYS sanitize your hands, work area, utensils and cutting board before handling or cutting any fruits or vegetables, including mangos.

Always wash the mango before cutting.

"Slice & Scoop" Mango Cutting Method

  1. Stand the mango on your cutting board stem end down and hold. Place your knife about 1/4" from the widest center line and cut down through the mango. Flip the mango around and repeat this cut on the other side. The resulting ovals of mango flesh are known as the "cheeks". What's left in the middle is mostly the mango seed.
  2. Cut parallel slices into the mango flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin.
  3. Scoop the mango slices out of the mango skin using a large spoon.

"Inside Out" Mango Cutting Method

  1. Stand the mango on your cutting board stem end down and hold. Place your knife about 1/4" from the widest center line and cut down through the mango. Flip the mango around and repeat this cut on the other side. The resulting ovals of mango flesh are known as the "cheeks". What's left in the middle is mostly the mango seed.
  2. Cut parallel slices into the mango flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin. Turn the mango cheek 1/4 rotation and cut another set of parallel slices to make a checkerboard pattern.
  3. Turn the scored mango cheek inside out by pushing the skin up from underneath.
  4. Scrape the mango chunks off of the skin, using a knife or a spoon.

Hint: If you are making a recipe that calls for diced mango, make both directions of parallel slices in step 2 closer together. In step 4, slice the mango flesh away from the skin in several shallow layers, rather than scraping down to the skin in one step. The result is small pieces of diced mango and no need to further cut up the mango pieces on your cutting board.

Using a Mango Splitter

  1. Stand the mango on your cutting board stem end down and hold. Center the Mango Splitter above the mango, with the opening in the splitter aligned with the widest part of the mango.
  2. Firmly push down to separate the mango flesh from the seed.
  3. Use the "Slice and Scoop" or the "Inside Out" methods shown above to separate the mango flesh from the skin in cubes, dices or slices.

Now for Pineapples ~ information from the!

Pineapples are a great source of valuable enzymes, vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy this tasty tropical fruit, but trying to pick the perfect pineapple doesn’t have to be a hit-and-miss effort.

Pineapple season is March through July in Hawaii where they peak in April/May. They will not ripen nor will they become sweeter after they’re harvested. Pineapples do not have extra starch reserves, like bananas or pears, which can easily be converted into sugar after they’re picked. To select one of these popular Hawaiian jewels:

  • Look for a pineapple that has a nice golden color with fresh, deep-green leaves.
  • Avoid a pineapple with any bruises, brown dry leaves, mold, or soft spots.
  • Tug on a leaf from the middle. If the pineapple is ripe, it should slide out easily.
  • Smell it — ripe pineapples should smell fresh and fragrant at the stem end. (Pineapples ripen from the bottom up.)

When you twist the crown of leaves, they should twist off easily indicating the fruit was picked ripe. Enjoy pineapples as a healthy snack, in marinades, salads, salsas, desserts, and as a complement to meat, chicken, or fish.

One of my favorite uses for fresh pineapple is to add a sweet punch to grilled veggies. Here’s my recipe…

Grilled Veggies by Tonya Huffman

1 medium zucchini squash

1 large yellow squash

1 large red bell pepper

1 large Yellow bell pepper

1 small green bell pepper

1 LARGE onion – it can be any color

Mushrooms to taste

3-4 small red potatoes

1 small sweet potato

1 fresh pineapple – small

A bottle of dried red tomato salad dressing

Chop everything except the potatoes & mushrooms and put in a LARGE zip-lock type plastic bag – then pour the salad dressing into the bag and occasionally turn the bag over so the dressing can ooze through everything. You can do this one to two days ahead.

A few hours before you grill, clean and cut your potatoes up and boil them until they just begin to turn soft. Then drain them (gently running cool water over them) and add them to the bag of veggies about an hour before you grill.

Add the mushrooms about 10 minutes before you grill – they REALLY absorb all the flavors which can be overwhelming, even to mushroom lovers.

The pineapple gives this grilling experience a cool sweetness with a little acidity. You can add jalapenos or another pepper type if you like things a tad more hot and spicy.

You can make foil pans from heavy duty foil to grill your veggies in OR purchase a grill wok – make sure the sides are deep. Cook your veggies first as they will probably take longer than the meat. Stir/turn frequently

You may like different veggies – that’s fine. Change it up every time so no one gets bored with your grilled veggies.

How to Choose a Ripe Melon

Get produce shopping tips for cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon

By Jackie Plant Posted June 18, 2009 from Woman's Day; July 7, 2009

Not sure which melon in the bunch is ripe? Here’s how to find out.

Look for an indented stem end; this means the melon came off the vine at the proper time (not too early).

You want a smooth rind that is white, yellow or pale green. A ripe honeydew should have a slightly fruity aroma and be soft at the stem end.

If it sounds hollow when you give it a good thump, it’s ripe. Look for a firm, nicely shaped melon that has a creamy yellow underside where the melon had lain on the ground long enough to ripen.

Selecting Kiwi

You will know if your kiwi is ripe if it is not to firm and not too soft. Look to make sure there is no discoloration and no dents. To speed up the ripening process, place kiwis in a paper bag with a ripe apple, and keep that bag out on the counter.

With the heat of summer coming on strong, I hope this small Life Lesson on fruit will help you to have a most refreshing mid-summer's night treat!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

BIG lesson at the fruit stand!

This is day one of blogging at Life's Lessons...BIG & small...and we get a BIG lesson today!
  • Don't leave your keys in the car when shopping at a road-side fruit stand.
The day was progressing along well; run to Whole Foods and pick up blueberries, strawberries, and apples. Swing by the watermelons and see what I think...ugh...not getting those. Whipped into another store and hit the fruit lover's jack-pot! Pineapples, mangoes, grapes, cantaloupes, and bananas. Swing by the watermelons and see what I think...ugh...not getting those either! Well, I'll just have to think through the arrangement of fruit for breakfast in the morning at church..wait, there was the fruit stand on the way to town, I'll stop and check there for my coveted watermelon centerpiece! Yeah!!!

Oh good ~ the stand is still open... the temperature and humidity are really climbing today, but I can grab a watermelon, jump back in the car and be on my way in just a few minutes so my fruit won't be damaged. This will work perfectly!

Watermelon is quickly selected and I slipped it on the front floorboard and shut the door when I registered a faint... click .... CLICK! Oh no...please no... not that crazy glitch that recently start with my 1995 faithful auto. You see, she has recently decided to lock both doors when the passenger door is shut a certain way, which I seem to have perfected, and leave the human securely locked outside her doors.

Today the car won!

I had tossed my keys in the floorboard while selecting a melon a mere 10 feet away. Big mistake...BIG mistake! The spare keys were in my purse, proudly sitting in the passenger's seat. You're thinking...cell phone, use your cell phone and call someone. Yep, that thought crossed my mind and plummeted into the depths of "Oh brother". My cell phone was also tucked away in my purse, still proudly sitting in the passenger's seat.

Well, I realized today that I only know maybe five phone numbers by memory and two of those don't answer a call from a number they don't recognize. Not helpful at all! I could stand and see my phone which has a lock smith's number programmed into it for just such occasions - planned ahead, just not enough. Asked to borrow a phone at the fruit stand (thank God I purchased a melon from them) and called my sister's mobile - remember those that don't answer an unknown number - person one is my sister. Mom & Dad! They should be home - ring...ring...ring...ring...Hello/screech! Mom answered at the same time her fax machine switched on - THAT was an interesting phone conversation between screeches. [I can smile about it now] After what seemed to be 30 minutes of discussion dad was coming to the rescue!

It took a while, but one and a half hours and one banjo song later, I'm jumping in my car and taking off for home and the A/C. Ever said a prayer for fruit? I did today! God tells us nothing is too small to bring before him and even my littlest blueberries were spared.

My life lesson today -either have keys or cell phone in your hand when visiting a road-side fruit stand!

Your life question today - how many phone numbers do you know from memory?