Sunday, November 23, 2014

What's for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Jim and I are going to celebrate Thanksgiving in an unusual turkey, cranberries or stuffing!
The first Thanksgiving lasted probably a week and fed more than 100 people, both Wampanoag Indians and settlers.

For most people, enjoying turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin for Thanksgiving is as traditional and American as, well, apple pie. But how did the Pilgrims really celebrate on what we now regard as the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621? Is our celebration—and traditional menu—truly akin to that enjoyed by the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag Indian guests?
In a word, no. The only written record of the famous meal tells us that the harvest celebration lasted three days and included deer and wildfowl. Beyond that, culinary historians such as Kathleen Curtin at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts rely on period cookbooks and journals, Wampanoag oral histories, paintings from the time, and archaeological evidence.
"Most of today's classic Thanksgiving dishes weren't served in 1621," says Curtin. "These traditional holiday dishes became part of the menu after 1700. When you're trying to figure out just what was served, you need to do some educated guesswork. Ironically, it's far easier to discern what wasn't on the menu during those three days of feasting than what was!"

     On and Off the Menu
So, popular myths aside, what can be ruled out of the equation from the English transplants' table? Potatoes—white or sweet—would not have been featured on the 1621 table, and neither would sweet corn. Bread-based stuffing was also not made, though the Pilgrims may have used herbs or nuts to stuff birds.
(In addition to duck and venison, the diners likely enjoyed seafood, cabbage, onions, the form of a corn pudding or perhaps a fire roasted cake, and squash)
Instead, the table was loaded with native fruits like plums, melons, grapes, and cranberries (NOT SWEET, tho), plus local vegetables such as leeks, wild onions, beans, Jerusalem artichokes, and squash. (English crops such as turnips, cabbage, parsnips, onions, carrots, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme might have also been on hand.) And for the starring dishes, there were undoubtedly native birds and game as well as the Wampanoag gift of five deer. Fish and shellfish were also likely on the groaning board.
There is no concrete way to know if they had any roast turkey that day, but we do know there were plenty of wild turkeys in the region then, "and both the native Wampanoag Indians and English colonists ate them," writes Curtin in Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History from the Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie. That doesn't explain why the big, ungainly bird has become the de facto traditional centerpiece around which the entire meal is built, but at least it gives us a feeling of authenticity to imagine that America's forefathers might have been gnawing on a crispy turkey leg, just like we do nearly four centuries later.
(There is only one written account of the first Thanksgiving, and turkey isn't mentioned...we are doing lobster!)
As for beverages to wash down the feast, Curtin says the Pilgrims likely drank just water. "In their first year, the English colonists had grown a few acres of barley, so it is possible that some beer or ale may have been brewed by the end of harvest time—but given how long it takes to brew and ferment beer, this seems unlikely.
"Wine, considered a finer beverage than beer, may have been brought across by some travelers on the Mayflower. It was frequently mentioned in later accounts of supplies to the colonies. By the mid-1600s, cider would become the main beverage of New Englanders, but in 1621 Plymouth, there were not any apples yet."
(Don't know about you but I intend on drinking wine! Hell with tradition!)

Cooking Techniques of the 17th Century

While modern Thanksgiving meals involve a lot of planning and work, at least we have efficient ovens and kitchen utensils to make our lives easier. Curtin says the Pilgrims probably roasted and boiled their food. "Pieces of venison and whole wildfowl were placed on spits and roasted before glowing coals, while other cooking took place in the household hearth," she notes, and speculates that large brass pots for cooking corn, meat pottages (stews), or simple boiled vegetables were in constant use.
"The meaty carcasses from one meal no doubt were simmered to yield broth for use in the next. In the English tradition, the meats may have had sauces accompanying them—perhaps something as simple as mustard (a very popular English 'sauce'). And contrary to conventional wisdom, 17th-century English cuisine revealed through cookbooks of the time was anything but bland, making skillful use of a variety of ingredients including spices, herbs, dried fruits, and wine or beer."
Appetite whetted?
I know of at least one other couple who is forgoing turkey for duck!  Now THAT'S tradition!
Whatever your menu, give Thanks!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blood Testing Info from Ken H.

I could say this is a gory subject, but given the age of the folks in this park it may well be very relevant. But first a little history.
In 2009 I suffered a Deep Vein Thrombosis in my left leg.  This has the propensity to be totally lethal but I was lucky to have caught it before it migrated to my heart.  Not so my father and his brother who died very quickly as a result of a DVT.  I was immediately put on Warfarin therapy by Dr. Billie Marek of the Cancer Center in McAllen and I am still on it and will be until I die.  For some 8 months I went to see Dr. Linda Villarreal for monthly testing of my INR, or coagulation factor.  In November I discovered that Medicare are advocating a weekly testing at home procedure, usually via a Cardiac or Blood testing service at a cost of about $29.95 per month. Via Villarreal and Remote Cardiac Services, RCS, I obtained my own test meter, a HEMO-SENSE in December 2009 and used it until January 2014.  Beginning 2014 several thing s happened.  The blood testing company RCS was bought out by XYZ(?) and Physicians Health Choice, our HMO was bought by Universal Health Care.  These 2 companies did not work together and I was unable to get supplies because of their incompetence during the merger processes.  Worse, I suspected that the test strips used for this test were defective and on the 4th week I went to Villarreal for a venal blood test.  Indeed the results were wrong and my INR had entered a lethal range!  
 UHC were unable to give me the name of another company that did this INR testing...yes several names were given but nobody even knew about INR testing.  So I determined to acquire my own machine confident that I would get a 80% reimbursement from Medicare via UHC.  This I did in March 2014, buying a COAGUSENSE meter at a cost of $792 plus a years supply of test strips for $198.  In April I submitted a claim for the above.  As of today I have not received a reimbursement from the United Health Care AARP Medicare Advantage Plan, notwithstanding 5 phone calls, resubmitting my claim four times and a complaint to Medicare. 
After much research today I have learned something very serious that I wish to pass on. 
The HEMOSENSE test meter that I was using has been withdrawn by Medicare.  The problem that I encountered with this device this year was quite common, a result of which three people died.  That is the machine gave an in-range INR reading, that is 1.5 to 3.5; in one of the cases the INR was actually 12.5 and the over medication caused the death of the patient. 
Medicare will only reimburse for a monthly program via a blood testing service. 
I was advised today that I will get a $124.99 refund from UHC. 
There are currently 2 models of meter on the market.  The COAGUCHECK and the COAGUSENSE.  I have the latter.  I learned that the Coagucheck is available via UHC now but according to one adviser this meter is not much better than the type withdrawn from service in that it does not measure coagulation directly but only derives it by resistivity measurement. 
I am told that the Coagusense meter measures true INR and is the most accurate and reliable on the market.  Hooray for some good news! 
The best vendor that I have found for the Coagusense meter and supplies is QUICK-MEDICAL, who can be found on the Internet.
Finally I was told today that one should not use the new anti-coagulant drugs as they too can cause over medication and very high INR readings...but they have NO antidote...but warfarin does!
Ken Howton

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cirque Dreams Holidaze Correction....

I made a little mistake... my phone number... it's 412-848-3305.
And for Cirque Dreams Holidaze the reservations need to be made by 11/25/14.
Thank you, sorry about the confusion.
Karen H.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brrr...Bike Ride Cancelled!

With a forecast low of 40 Monday night and a chance of rain on Tuesday with a high only in the 50's we are cancelling the bike ride for Tuesday, November 18. 
We have put the scheduled ride for this week on
the calendar for December which should be posted on the Sandpipers calendar now.

Tom Butler

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bike Rides for December 2014

This is the schedule for the December Bike Rides. 
  The tentative schedule for the rest of the year follows the December listing.  Only the destination and the restaurant for lunch are given for the remainder of the year.  I have one date listed as to be scheduled with a canceled ride from earlier in the winter. 
I'll provide details on rides as each month comes up and may shuffle the schedule slightly depending on which rides are canceled.


Tom Butler
Louise Butler
Lot 44
Bike Rides for December 2014
When:  December 2, 2014, Tuesday, 9:00 am
Where:  The Old Hidalgo Pump House
Description:  The Old Hidalgo Pump House pumped water from the Rio Grande to the irrigation system in the early days of agriculture in the Rio Grande Valley. Originally run by steam powered pumps, it was later converted to diesel pumps.  Much of the old equipment remains and we will take a short tour the facility.  The ride is along the Border Wall for a short distance, past the retention ponds, along the canal system and through the town of Hidalgo. There is an admission charge or $3 per person. The ride will be about 3 miles on paved and gravel trails and city streets in Hidalgo. There is a short climb to the top of the levee at the Pump House. Lunch will be at Republic of the Rio Grande in McAllen. Bring water, sunscreen, insect repellant, bicycle helmet, binoculars and/or camera as you desire.
When:  December 9, 2014, Tuesday 9:00 a.m.
Where:  South Padre Island
Description:  South Padre Island and Isla Blanca Park are featured on this ride.  The ride is on level, paved city streets.  We ride about 12 miles from the Convention Center to the southern tip of SPI in Isla Blanca County Park and return.  On the return we will stop for lunch at Blackbeards Restaurant, bring a bicycle lock to secure your bicycle during lunch.  There are no admission charges on this ride.  Bring water, sunscreen, insect repellant, bicycle helmet, binoculars and/or camera as you desire.
When:  December 16, 2014, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m.
Where:  Bentsen State Park & World Birding Center
Description:  Bentsen State Park near Mission has water features, scrub forest and grasslands.  The Hawk Tower is handicap accessible and gives us a nice overview of the area near the Rio Grande and Mexico.   There are bird feeders with blinds for observers which make bird watching extraordinary.  We will ride about 8 miles on level paved park roads with a short walk to the Hawk Tower.  There is a $5 per person entrance fee for those who do not have a Texas State Park Pass.  We will eat lunch at BJ’s Brewhaus near the McAllen Convention Center.  Bring water, sunscreen, insect repellant, bicycle helmet, binoculars and/or camera as you desire. 
When:  December 23, 2014, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m.
Where:  La Lomita Mission and Anzulduas Park and Dam
Description:  These two locations combine to make an interesting ride right along the Rio Grande River.  La Lomita Mission is one of the missions begun by the Oblate Brothers.  The original chapel has been restored recently.  Anzulduas Park is a Hidalgo County Park adjacent to the Anzulduas Dam.  We will also see the floodway which directs floodwater from the dam to Laguna Madre on the coast.  We will ride about 5 miles on a little used public road and park roads.  There is one hill as we leave Anzulduas Park and we will also climb the levee going to and from La Lomita Mission.  There are no admission charges on this ride.  We will eat lunch at Danny’s Mexican Restaurant in Mission following the ride.  Bring water, sunscreen, insect repellant, bicycle helmet, binoculars and/or camera as you desire.
When:  December 30, 2014, Tuesday, 9:00 a.m.
Where:  Sandpipers to Edinburg and return to Sandpipers
Description:  Happy New Year – Join us for the first annual Sandpipers Tour de Donut.  Decorate your bicycle or wear a costume.  This will be a zany ride around the city of Edinburg in search of donuts.  Be ready to show us where you find the best donuts in Edinburg!  We will ride from Sandpipers into Edinburg.  Once there, we will ride the bicycle lanes where possible and will be on city streets at other times.  We should return to Sandpipers by 1:00 p.m.  Don’t eat breakfast before this ride.  There will not be a lunch stop scheduled for this ride.  Bring money for donuts!  Also, bring water, sunscreen, insect repellant, bicycle helmet, binoculars and/or camera as you desire.
Coming up: 
January 6, 2015 – Mission Bike Trail/McAlister’s Deli
January 13, 2015 – Port Isabel/Dirty Al’s Seafood
January 20, 2015 – Bicentennial Boulevard Bike Trail/Johnny Carino’s
January 27, 2015 – Delta Lake/Boot Company Restaurant
February 3, 2015 – Estero Llano Grande State Park/Fat Daddy’s
February 10, 2015 – Hidalgo Pump House/ BJ’s Brewhaus
February 17, 2015 – McAllen Bike Trail/Gatti’s Pizza
February 24, 2015 – Bentsen State Park/Republic of the Rio Grande
March 3, 2015 – Open – Will use to reschedule a canceled ride.
March 10, 2015 – Edinburg Wetlands WBC/Willie B’s
March 17, 2015 – La Lomita & Anzulduas/Danny’s
March 24, 2015 – Mission Bike Trail/ McAlisters Deli
March 31, 2015 – Laguna Atascosa/Bag Lunch
April 7, 2015 – South Padre Island/Dirty Al’s
April 14, 2015 – Resaca de la Palma State Park/ ?? Harlingen
End of Spring Season for Bike Rides, Sandpipers Resort

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Soup Night Changes

I checked the calendar on the Sandpipers Resort website
and found this...
Thursday, Nov 20, 5:00-6:30pm
Please join us for soup and salad plate served with a bread. 
 $6 pp (no sharing) as a portion of the price $3 will be a donation to a selected cause.
 Each person is served all of the items listed below as a small sampler portion. 
 We will not be serving any water/drinks.
Caldo Tlapeno Soup – Chicken, garlic, onion, celery, mixed vegetables, chipotle pepper, garbanzo beans, rice
Split Pea Soup – Peas, Bacon, Rosemary
Mini Turkey Pot Pie – Biscuit dough, turkey, peas, carrots, potato, celery, onion, milk
Pasta Salad – Tri color spiral veggie noodles, tomato, cucumber, onion, sweet pepper
Spring Mix Salad – with shredded mozzarella, black & green olives, light balsamic vinaigrette
Chicken Salad – chicken, craisins, almonds, onion, celery, mayo, cream cheese
Green Bean Salad – red onions, olive oil
Five Cup Salad – Pineapple, mandarin oranges, small marshmallows, grapes, raisins, sour cream, cool whip
Bread, crackers, margarine

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Adopt a Family – 2014

Adopt a Family – 2014 
Well it’s that time again, snow up north, chilly weather at Sandpipers. Well, yes, but it is also Adopt a Family time at SPR.
We have taken five families on this year with 13 children ranging in age from 1 year to 14 year olds. The theme this year is Grandparents, Grandparents. A majority of our families have Grandparents taking care of these children. Some even have legal custody, others are the main support to make sure the children in their care are properly cared for. 
Thankfully our Sandpiper Elves have stepped up again this year to shop for these children. Without these gracious elves Adopt a Family would not work. Thank you elves, you know who you are.
The head elf, Mary, will be shopping in the next few weeks for the dry and fresh provisions that will help the care givers make sure that the munchkins in their care are fed. Also the elves shopping will make sure that each child will have the proper clothes to wear. Of course it would not be Christmas if something is not also included in the way of a toy, or book, or ball, or whatever that will make a child feel that Christmas has not forgotten them. 
We will need some help to deliver all these gaily wrapped gifts. We have scheduled delivery for Saturday, December 20, 2014. We plan to leave SPR no later than 8:30am. All of the homes where we will make deliveries are within 5 miles of SPR. We anticipate to complete our mission by 10:00/10:30 am. 
If you can spend a couple hours to help and have a vehicle that can carry bags of gifts please see Mary or John at Lot 5. Also anyone who would like to accompany the gift parade is welcome to come along. 
Not all gifts will be delivered this day. In a particularly desperate situation one family is using a three burner stove as their only means to prepare meals. However this stove, which is rented, will be returned to the lessor shortly. So Adopt a Family has stepped in and purchase a new three burner stove and we were gifted a 30 pound propane tank. This will be delivered shortly so this family will continue to enjoy home cooked meals. 
None of this would be possible without the generous support of the residents of Sandpipers Resort. This year’s funds were a result of our 2nd ANNUAL “FROM THE HEART AUCTION”.   
We will be holding our 3rd Annual “From the Heart” auction on Saturday January 31, 2015. Funds earned from this auction will go to support next year’s program. Please mark this date on your calendar.  
Also with the change in the SOUP NIGHT program, when you sign the check for your dinner please indicate that you wish a portion of your tab will go to the ADOPT A FAMILY program. 
Any questions or suggestions should be directed to Mary at Lot 5.
A big THANK YOU for your support. 
Mary (Lot 5)