The Old Man & A Bucket of Shrimp

It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, when the sun resembled a giant orange and was starting to dip into the blue ocean. Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier.. Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp. Ed walks out to the end of the pier, where it seems he almost has the world to himself. The glow of the sun is a golden bronze now. Everybody’s gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. Standing out on the end of the pier, Ed is alone with his thoughts…and his bucket of shrimp. Before long, however, he is no longer alone. Up in the sky a thousand white dots come screeching and squawking, winging their way toward that lanky frame standing there on the end of the pier. Before long, dozens of seagulls have enveloped him, their wings fluttering and flapping wildly. Ed stands there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds. As he does, if you listen closely, you can hear him say with a smile, ‘Thank you. Thank you.’ In a few short minutes the bucket is empty. But Ed doesn’t leave. He stands there lost in thought, as though transported to another time and place. When he finally turns around and begins to walk back toward the beach, a few of the birds hop along the pier with him until he gets to the stairs, and then they, too, fly away. And old Ed quietly makes his way down to the end of the beach and on home. If you were sitting there on the pier with your fishing line in the water, Ed might seem like ‘a funny old duck,’ as my dad used to say. Or, ‘a guy who’s a sandwich shy of a picnic,’ as my kids might say. To onlookers, he’s just another old codger, lost in his own weird world, feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp. To the onlooker, rituals can look either very strange or very empty. They can seem altogether unimportant …. maybe even a lot of nonsense. Old folks often do strange things, at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters. Most of them would probably write Old Ed off, down there in Florida . That’s too bad. They’d do well to know him better. His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker. He was a famous hero back in World War II. On one of his flying missions across the Pacific, he and his seven-member crew went down. Miraculously, all of the men survived, crawled out of their plane, and climbed into a life raft. Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated for days on the rough waters of the Pacific. They fought the sun. They fought sharks. Most of all, they fought hunger. By the eighth day their rations ran out. No food. No water. They were hundreds of miles from land and no one knew where they were. They needed a miracle. That afternoon they had a simple devotional service and prayed for a miracle. They tried to nap. Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose. Time dragged. All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft.. Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap. It was a seagull! Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, planning his next move. With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull, he managed to grab it and wring its neck.. He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made a meal – a very slight meal for eight men – of it. Then they used the intestines for bait.. With it, they caught fish, which gave them food and more bait…….and the cycle continued. With that simple survival technique, they were able to endure the rigors of the sea until they were found and rescued (after 24 days at sea…). Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, but he never forgot the sacrifice of that first life-saving seagull… And he never stopped saying, ‘Thank you.’ That’s why almost every Friday night he would walk to the end of the pier with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Oatmeal Peach Crumble Bars

INGREDIENTS

Oat Crumble – Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ⅓ cups rolled oats
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup unsalted buttermelted and cooled completely

Peach Filling

  • 2 ¼ cups peaches peeled and cut into small pieces (4-6 peaches, depending on size)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt optional (brings out the flavor more)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice can also use orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 inch baking pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on each side for easy removal after it’s baked.

Peach Filling

  • Chop the peaches into small chunks about a ½ inch to 1 inch thick. Larger chunks result in peaches not being cooked through.
  • Mix the peaches with lemon juice and vanilla extract. Next, add in the cornstarch, sugar and salt (optional) and toss together. Set aside.

Oat Crumble – Crust

  • Mix the flour, rolled oats, sugar, cinnamon, and salt well in a medium bowl. Then add the cooled melted butter and stir with a spoon or spatula to mix together. Will resemble crumbles, but will stick together.
  • Place ⅔ of the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Spread and press the mixture evenly using your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup.
  • Next, cover the crust with the peach mixture, spooning out the peaches by leaving most of the juice in the bowl as much as possible. Over excess juice is not needed, so it’s better to drain the juice off.
  • Sprinkle the remaining dough over the peaches. Use your fingertips to press to the crumbles down a little so they can stick to peaches.
  • Bake for 35-37 minutes until the top becomes golden brown and the crumbles are crunchy.
  • Let cool at room temperature for almost 1 hour.
  • Keep bars in the fridge for extra 1,5 hours until it is completely cool so you can have nicely cut bars.

Spinach artichoke quesadillas

Ingredients

  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • 8 oz artichoke hearts chopped and drained (1 cup)
  • 2 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 2 large tortillas

Instructions

  • In a large 12 inch frying pan over medium heat combine olive oil and cream cheese until cream cheese has melted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Stir in minced garlic, artichokes, and spinach. Cook until spinach starts to shrink, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add in mozzarella and parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat.
  • In a clean and dry frying pan over medium heat, place one tortilla in the pan. Scoop out ¼ of the spinach mixture and spread it out across one half of the tortilla. Fold the other half of the tortilla over the filling side. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until lightly browned.
  • Cut into 3 triangles. Repeat steps with remaining mixture and tortillas.
  • Serve hot or warm.

Notes

Use a dry frying pan because the tortillas would soak up any grease. A dry pan ensures a crispy quesadilla.Be careful not to overfill the tortilla to ensure the filling heats evenly and doesn’t ooze out the sides.Tortillas burn easily; fry on medium heat. The result will be golden, crispy outsides, and melty insides.

Lemon Pie Love


If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers.~Linda Henley

Many years after my grandmother passed away, I received a gift in the mail from her. I was about to turn thirty and my mother sent me an envelope. “I know this isn’t her famous lemon pie,” my mother wrote, “but it is the next best thing.”Everyone eats cake for their birthday, right? Well, not our family. All we asked for was Grandmother’s famous lemon pie. This was the one thing she wouldn’t teach anyone, not even me. She was tight-lipped with this recipe. When asked what was in it she would say, “A little of this and a little of that.”Inside the envelope was a small index card. My throat tightened as I viewed the handwriting. “Famous Lemon Pie” was the title. Measurements were scratched out and rewritten. Clutching the card, I went to the kitchen to call my mom.“Where did you get this?” I asked when she got on the line.“I was cleaning out the attic and found a small box of her things. From the looks of it, she wasn’t even sure what she put in that pie,” my mother said.My grandmother was famous in her circle of friends. She was known for her handmade crafts, her acre garden that all the neighbors helped with, but most of all she was famous for her baked goods that she shared with everyone. The best thing about my grandmother is that she taught me everything she knew, almost everything.When I work on a craft, I feel her words of approval tickle my ears. Tending to my small but rewarding garden, the sun kisses the top of my head and I can feel her happiness wash over me. However, I never feel her presence more than when I am in the kitchen whipping up one of her favorite desserts.Now I was determined to have her lemon pie for my birthday. I lined up all the ingredients on the counter and began to work. The first pie was soupy and sloshed in the crust when I pulled it out. The second pie began to burn even before it was cooked through.I made lemon pie over and over, observing every little thing she scratched out and recalculated. By the time my husband got home from work, the kitchen was a minefield of defective pies. It looked as if each and every ingredient had abused me. I lost control when I saw the look on his face.“What happened here?” he asked.“I just want lemon pie for my birthday!”“I will buy you a lemon pie.”He didn’t understand. I left the kitchen and ran upstairs with a dusting of flour trailing behind me.I went to bed that night with the feeling of defeat. Why did my mother have to send me that recipe? I drifted off to sleep with pieces of crust still in my hair and lemon scent on my hands.My dreams were filled with memories of my grandmother and that pie. I kept trying to see what she was putting in it but she hid it behind her back. “Please tell me what is in that pie,” I begged. She smiled as the dream dissipated.I trudged to the kitchen the next morning and all the pies had been carted out to the garbage. The counters were spotless. It was as if the pie incident had never happened.The next day would be my birthday and all I wanted was lemon pie. I pulled the ingredients back out of the cupboard. “I can do this,” I whispered to myself. There are two things I pride myself on. First, I am the best baker in my circle of friends. Second, I don’t give up.I started mixing the ingredients and when I got to the cornstarch I couldn’t scrape enough out of the box for the pie. Doubt was creeping into my thoughts. “I can do this. I can do this,” I repeated to myself as I grabbed my car keys.I stood in the aisle looking at the multiple brands of cornstarch. What was I doing? I felt like I was having a mini meltdown over a pie. I pulled a box off the shelf and rolled it around in my hands as I walked to the register. My eyes settled on the recipes on the back. Lemon pie. Maybe I should use this recipe. I looked closer. It couldn’t be.I rushed home to view the precious index card sitting on my counter. I scanned the ingredients as I looked from card to box and back to the card again. Impossible! Was it this easy? I could see my grandmother smiling as I figured out her secret recipe. It seems it wasn’t a secret to anyone who had bought this brand of cornstarch.For my birthday, I made not one but two lemon pies. I was so pleased with myself as everyone inhaled the pie and dished out the compliments. Now I have a famous lemon pie recipe, but I’m not sharing!~

Helen R. Zanone

It’s A Monk’s Life

In an ancient monastery, a new monk arrived to dedicate his life to God and to join the others copying ancient records. The first thing he noticed was that they were copying by hand books that had already been copied by hand. He had to speak up. “Forgive me, Father Justinian, but copying other copies by hand allows many chances for error. How do we know we aren’t copying someone else’s mistakes? Are they ever checked against the originals?” Father Justinian was startled. No one had ever suggested that before. “Well, that is a good point, my son. I will take one of these latest books down to the vault and study it against its original document.” He went deep into the vault where no one else was allowed to enter and started to study. The day passed, and it was getting late in the evening. The monks were getting worried about Father Justinian. Finally one monk started making his way through the old vault, and as he began to think he might get lost, he heard sobbing. “Father Justinian,” he called. The sobbing grew louder as he came closer. He finally found the old priest sitting at a table with the new copy and the original ancient book in front of him. It was obvious that Father Justinian had been crying for a long time. “Oh, my Lord,” sobbed Father Justinian, “the word is ‘celebrate’!”

Stairway to Heaven-By Sylvia Gardner

When I was growing up back in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, Mother prided herself on preparing us kids for anything life might send our way. Her own mother had suffered a massive stroke when she was only five years old. As the oldest of four children, my mother professed that it was hard work and a strong faith in God that got her through those rough years. She was a shining example of Yankee faith and fortitude, and she passed along those values to each of us.

Still, nothing could have prepared me for the void that Mother’s death on October 14 would cause. She’d lived 96 healthy years and passed quietly in her sleep after enjoying a wonderful visit with the four of us. I was grateful for that. But now the person who’d helped me get through everything was gone.

Never again would I dial her telephone number after a difficult day on the job as a nurse practitioner at the VA Medical Center. Never again would I hear the dearly familiar pearls of wisdom that had shaped my life.

Sometimes when a patient was going through a trying time, one of Mother’s little sayings would come to mind and I’d share it with them. I remember the first time I met Mr. Sampson, a World War II veteran with emphysema and arthritis.

I’d just moved to Appalachia from upstate New York, and my accent quickly branded me as a northerner and the new kid on the block. Mr. Sampson wasn’t at all happy I’d been assigned to his care. “I’m short-winded and can’t get around good anymore,” he practically barked at me. “It takes me twice as long to cut the grass as it used to. And then they give me some foreigner like you.

After an introduction like that, I said a quick prayer, and all of a sudden a memory of Mother and me on our dairy farm back home came surging back. The minister had stopped by for a visit; our big black and white Berkshire pig that thought he was a watchdog had gotten loose from his pen and wouldn’t let the minister out of his car. Mother and I leaped over the barbed-wire fence to catch it. I didn’t quite make it.

I had a six-inch gash in my left knee after my attempt. Mother rubbed some of the same Bag Balm we used on our cows on my cut, taped it up just so, and pronounced me as good as new.

“Can’t someone else milk the cows, just for today?” I pleaded.

“You can do it, Sylvia,” Mother replied in her no-nonsense voice. “It may take you a little longer, but you can still do it. The angels will help you.”

The message was simple, and it had gotten me through more than a few hard times in nursing school.

That memory of Mother and the Berkshires was all I needed. I shared the story with Mr. Sampson and even showed him the scar I still have on my knee.

Turned out, he, too, had been raised on a farm and had a mother whose practical faith was a lot like my mother’s. When he left my office, he was still laughing about that pig and was reciting Mother’s words and promising to put in a garden.

Next time I saw him, he was loaded down with tomatoes and green peppers for our entire department. The only thing he requested in return was another installment of Mother’s faith-filled counsel.

But with Mother gone, her words of wisdom seemed empty. The evening of her funeral, my husband and I drove through a misty rain just as the sun was setting below the trees somewhere between Chambersburg and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I felt completely overwhelmed. “God, where are You?” I prayed.

“Please let me know that Mother is with You.”

All at once, the rain stopped and the most spectacular neon light show arced across the sky. Vibrant red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple—the colors were every bit as brilliant as the highlighter pens I used to mark points I needed to remember in my nurse practitioner journals.

The display reminded me of a time when I was nine years old. Mother was driving us kids to the Eastern States Exposition to show our Holsteins when this huge, beautiful rainbow lit up the sky. She pulled our 1936 Buick off the road, and exclaimed: “Kids, whenever you see a rainbow, that’s God’s angels dropping down His stairway to heaven for someone who has died.”

As I recalled that unforgettable day, tears fell down my cheeks, blurring my vision. I did a double take, stunned by the sight, for there was not one, but two, rainbows spread across the sky. It was so spectacular that cars began parking along the side of the road to take pictures. My husband and I kept on driving, seemingly forever, toward Mother’s double neon staircase and God’s unmistakable sign for her doubting daughter.

When I returned to work after Mother’s funeral, one of the nurses tapped on my office door. “There’s a man out in the waiting room,” she said. “He keeps telling everyone he’s got to talk to Sylvia.” She pointed to a gray-haired man in khaki slacks. I recognized him right away, Mr. Sampson. I hadn’t seen him since he moved several years earlier and he looked terrible. He must have gotten some really bad news, I thought.

When I called his name, he looked at me and began to sob. I wrapped my arm around him and led him to a chair in my office. “My mama died October fourteenth,” he told me. “I came back home for her funeral and to get the farm ready to sell. She was my best friend in all the world, Sylvia. I know how you loved your mother, so I knew you’d understand.” Tears glistened in his eyes as he fixed his glance on an educational poster hanging on my wall. “I’ve got to have one of your stories, Sylvia . . . one of your mother’s sayings about God’s angels.”

My words came out barely above a whisper. “My mother died the very same day as yours did, Mr. Sampson. But there’s something she used to say that I believe might help you.”

When I told him what had happened and Mother’s angelic philosophy on rainbows, Mr. Sampson’s face lit up. “You’re not going to believe this, but I was driving to my mama’s funeral that same day. And there were two rainbows in the sky for me too. I didn’t know rainbows meant anything. I just thought they were pretty. I guess God must have thought He’d better send us a pair of them, as hardheaded as we can be. Huh, Sylvia?” He paused, his eyes filled with peace.

“Can you imagine what a great time our mamas are having in heaven right now?

While we’re down here worrying how God’s going to take care of us. We’ve got to start living what our mamas taught us. We’ve lived off their faith long enough.”

And that’s what I’ve done ever since. For I know firsthand that no matter how far away we are from our loved ones, God and His angels are always near. And whether by a spectacular show in the sky or a whisper to my heart, He will find the perfect way to send me a mother’s comfort and guidance when I need it most.

Until my time on earth ends, and His angels drop down His stairway for me.

Bisquick apple cobbler

Ingredients

  • FILLING:
  • 1 c . sugar
  • 2 tsp . cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp . cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp . allspice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp . butter
  • 5 c . apples sliced
  • 1/2 tsp . grated lemon peel
  • TOPPING:
  • 1 c . homemade bisquick mix
  • 1/4 c . milk
  • 1/4 c . sugar
  • 2 tbsp . butter melted
  1. FILLING: In a sauce pan, blend sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and water. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add butter, apples and lemon peel. Pour into a buttered baking dish.
  2. TOPPING: Mix bisquick with milk, sugar and butter until well combined. Drop by spoonfuls on top of apple mixture.
  3. Bake Bisquick Apple Cobbler at 350 F (175 C) for 35-40 minutes (fan oven 25-28 minutes) or until golden brown.

Bisquick peach cobbler

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sliced fresh peaches
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup homemade Bisquick mix
  • 1 cup milk, any kind
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 K).
  2. Combine peaches, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon zest.
  3. Mix together bisquick, milk, butter and brown sugar. Add mixture to 7″ (18 cm diameter; 4 cups volume) baking pan. Pour fruit on top of the bisquick mixture, do not stir.
  4. Bake Bisquick Peach Cobbler for 45-60 minutes. Serve warm or cold, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.