Me, Sher, and Ad

Me, Sher, and Ad
Bro Adam and sis Sher, my rocks!

Monday, November 23, 2015

My Sister's Thanksgiving Message

November 2014, one of my fav pics of Sheryl and I
A pic of my big bro Adam (So he doesn't get jealous)
Many of you know my older sis Sheryl. She, along with my older bro Adam, have been the rocks in my world. I lean on them for inspiration, laughter, support, and advice. My sister had a difficult Fall emotionally with the loss of a close coworker. You will read the reason why below. Coupled with the recent terrorist attach in Paris, France, she felt compelled to write an early Thanksgiving message below addressing the uncertainty of life and how we need to not take life for granted. 

Sher's message comes from the heart. I hope you take it to heart as well and apply it to your life. In the blink of an eye, it can change forever.  -Marc

From Sheryl:

Hello Family & Friends,

So forgive this ramble but I’ve been mulling it over in my mind. Maybe with age I’ve become more sappy / nostalgic or the recent France bombings moved me, but I had a very sad experience at work last month that has compelled me to share this message. My immediate boss died last month at work. He was literally walking through the front door, passed out from a heart attack and in a couple hours he was pronounced dead at the hospital. My job that day ended up being picking up his Partner and driving him to the hospital to identify his husband and spend his last few hours with his husband. 

Needless to say I was in shock all day. Yes, my boss was gay and had just gotten married to his Partner about 6 months ago after being together for 30 years. It was heart wrenching to think they had JUST started the next chapter in their already long life together, only for my boss to drop dead 6 months later. If these last two sentences don’t convey the message then pacify me and read further. 

In any given moment, everything in your world or your loved one’s worlds can END in less than seconds. All the various problems we each slug through on a daily bases don’t mean jack, because it can END in seconds. All the time we spend on arguments, blaming each other, picking at each other, mocking one another is wasting an exorbitant amount of time that could be spent cherishing our time together. Was that argument or hurtful statement really worth the energy and time??? Do we really ever feel better after??? 

All the time spent NOT addressing issues or resolving problems wastes that much more time of being together; not valuing the time you have together because it can ALL END in seconds. And if we really don’t want to be where we are then truly move on so that everyone else can value and cherish the time they have together. But if we choose to be where we are, then make EVERY moment COUNT. 

Tell your loved ones how much you care about them. Don’t hesitate to hug and love them because it can ALL END IN SECONDS. Why am I repeating this statement? Because as smart as human beings are, it still takes 7 times of a repetitive statement for humans to REALLY absorb, remember and learn what we hear. Some of you won’t even absorb this now, but I truly hope something sinks in about make every moment together count. I appreciate all of you pacifying me by reading this and EVEN MORE for touching my life in some way. Make every moment of this Thanksgiving count. 

HUGS & LOVE! Sheryl

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pickled Sweet Banana Peppers!

I have never pickled though I have been VERY PICKLED many times before. This summer, I decided to try pickling some sweet banana peppers which I grew myself on my deck. I started with a young pepper plant and planted it in a large planter with plenty of direct sunlight. Luckily I did not kill it during the first week. It must have felt sorry for me and my pathetic attempts at "deck farming" and soon enough, four small white flowers started to bud.

I hadn't planted the banana peppers with the idea of pickling them. Initially, I wanted to grow them and possibly stuff them with Italian sausage as sort of an appetizer. I'm not a big fan of hot peppers so I figured these would be good to try, not to mention they are pretty colorful.

The four initial flowers quickly grew into peppers and within another week, I had about 6 more flowers appear. Then a week later, something came by and ate every damn fresh little white flower! ARGH! I was so mad! Luckily, the original four peppers were still intact so I counted my blessings and began nurturing them.

After they were ripe and the most vibrant red yellow color, I picked them and searched for recipes. If I had been able to grow ten or more of them, I would have gone the sausage stuffed pepper appetizer route. But alas, these four ripe lowly peppers sat there on the counter staring at me as if they were saying, "OK Farmer Brown, you grew us, now whatta ya gonna do?" After an Internet search, I found an easy recipe for pickling the peppers which wouldn't require me to attend a pickling class at my local college. Here is the link for the recipe from

The recipe was easy to follow and extremely user friendly for the novice pickler. I adjusted the recipe because unfortunately I had about 1/3 lb of the peppers and not the 1/2 lb called for. I am also happy to say that a certain trained monkey named Marc was able to follow the recipe to a "T". Why was I so scared of pickling?

After the jar was sealed, the tough part was not touching them for two weeks! (I have learned that I am not a patient pickler.) I wrote the "open" date with a Sharpie pen on the lid, placed the jar in the back of my fridge, set a reminder on my phone and hoped to forget about it. Luckily two weeks went by rather quickly. Apparently time flies when your peppers are pickling. I have to say that the peppers came out great: sweet, vinegary with a slight crispness. They would be awesome on a sandwich, hoagie, or in eggs. Um.... I ate them straight out of the jar. :)   Now that it called the "Pickler's Prerogative"!



Yields: 1 1/2 pint jars
  • 12 lb banana peppers, seeded and sliced cross-ways into rings
Pickling juice:
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 23 cup white sugar
  • 12 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 12 teaspoon celery seeds 


  1. Sterilize 2- 1/2 pint jars.
  2. Bring the vinegar, sugar, mustard seed and celery seed to a rolling boil.
  3. Place peppers in the 1/2 pint jars.
  4. Pour on the hot pickling juice and bring liquid to within 1/2" of the top.
  5. Be sure the edge of the jar has no juice on it.
  6. Place lids and screw on bands finger-tip tight.
  7. Seal jar and leave for 2 weeks. (I refrigerated the jarred pickled peppers for the two weeks.)

**This is an heirloom recipe that uses a method no longer recommended by the USDA/NCHFP (National Center for Home Food Preservation). Current guidelines recommend processing in a boiling water bath at least 10 minutes at sea level to 1000 feet in elevation (more time at higher elevations) and left to cool, upright and undisturbed, on a cloth-protected counter for 24 hours. Check for seal; if the jar hasn't sealed, either re-process the jars within the 24 hours or refrigerate and use first.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

10 Second Memory: Nana's Beef Tongue Sandwiches

John and I spent a Saturday morning at the famous Renniger's Kutztown Farmer's Market searching for antiques and good eats! We've been there before and I've blogged about it. ( Love this place! We got up extra early, UGH, and I made it there by 7 am... grumbling. I was jonesing for coffee but more so jonesing for antique bargains and immediately found the ultimate serving dish for relishes, pickles, and olives. It is a vintage mid-century heavy frosted glass based divided serving dish with a bird relief on the bottom. Totally incredible and totally affordable at .... $1.00!!!! Couldn't pass this baby up!

Vintage Relish Dish
After that, we meandered around the indoor flea market and came across a great antique Lincoln-influenced desk lamp for $125 and an oil for $70. Both affordable to our budget but we passed. I'm keeping these in mind for possible Christmas gifts. :)  

We instead headed to the farmer's market area indoors to fill up on fresh meats, spices, and veggies. We picked up cheap bananas ($1.00/large bunch), Romaine lettuce ($1.50/bag), Brussels sprouts ($1.00/basket), and spices like pine nuts, or as John, the Big Ragu calls them pignoli nuts!
Dietrich's Country Meats
While walking around the various vendors, we passed by one of our favorites, Dietrich's Country Meats. We tasted some samples ... ok ALOT of samples, as they ALWAYS put out and joked with the other customers how we were having our breakfast on the samples. They agreed! LOL. 

Cooked Beef Tongue
Then I spied some ... beef tongue. I hadn't had it in years! I remember my Nana serving me beef tongue sandwiches as a young child and I eating them without regard for what they were. They tasted good and I enjoyed them. I remember her specifically stating that the beef tongue has to be sliced thin ... VERY THIN. She said it with such a commanding voice, It completely scared my 6 year old soul! Now, as a 45 year old, I channel Nana when I need to speak with a commanding voice.

Anyway, the tongue was ordered and I told the butcher at Dietrich's that it needed to be sliced THIN ... but alas, was not sliced thin enough to this guy's or my Nana's liking. Still though, I accepted it with happiness. I went home and did not make a sandwich but devoured it right off the plate. 

I ate it with some gourmet AWESOME horseradish pickles from Peter Piper's Pickle Palace at Renninger's. ( They were a great accompaniment if I do say so myself. 

Sliced Beef Tongue YUM!
It was SOO good and took me back the the 1970's when my Russian Nana would feed me sandwiches of beef tongue, onion, muenster cheese, and whole grain mustard on white bread. Beef tongue has the taste and texture reminiscent of roast beef. It is softer in texture and flavor though. More mild and delicate. Any thoughts of it being gross are SOO over-rated as it is actually more palatable than an organ meat such as the heart or liver. Beef tongue is AFTER ALL a muscle akin to any other muscle in a cow or steer's body so ... GET OVER IT. 

Try something different, BUT ask for it to be sliced THIN. Think of Marc's Nana and that tough Russian Babushka may just come out of you at your at your local butcher!