A Visit to Vietnam

For most Americans the word Vietnam evokes painful memories, a cherished person gone too soon, and a hateful war we’d rather forget.

Our welcome committee in Nha Trang, Vietnam

I probably would have never visited Vietnam if our cruise ship hadn’t put it on its Far-East itinerary that included five days in China, Beijing and Shanghai, a stop in Okinawa (Japan), a visit to Taiwan, two days in Hong Kong, and two days in Vietnam, before we reached Singapore to fly home.

NHA TRANG is one of Vietnam’s most popular seaside destinations. It offers white-sand beaches, azure and turquoise waters, coconuts palms swaying in the breeze, and gaily painted fishing boats in the harbors of small villages. We took a guided tour to visit the Long Son pagoda, the Reclining Buddha, the Cham Tower complex and a couple of factories.

Long Son pagoda, or White Buddhist Pagoda as called by the locals, is a beautiful Buddhist temple built in the 19th century, on top of Trai Thuy hill. A pair of dragon mosaics stands firmly at the entrance, while lush topiary lines the main grounds.
On the way to the top of Trai Thuy hill, we admired the reclining Buddha statue made of marble. People say that The Reclining Buddha represents the potential that all beings have to release themselves from suffering. The serene and smiling expression of the reclining Buddha statue portrays the compassion and calmness that come with the enlightenment. 
Po Nagar Cham temple complex was built between 8th and 11th centuries by the Cham people who once ruled the central plain of Vietnam. They are renowned for their skills in sculpture and architecture, and left behind a legacy of artifacts and temple settlements not only in Vietnam, but also Cambodia and Thailand.

 

The towers of Po Nagar Cham are square red brick structure with protruding support frames and tapering roofs. Their towers are shrines to different deities. The tallest building, the Po Nagar Kalan, is the most impressive. 
Cri Cambhu, goddess of fertility.
Vietnamese women practicing the art of picture embroidery, at a local workshop for embroidery..

 

A lacquer factory where I bought a gorgeous jewelry box

Our second day in Vietnam was spent in the capital, Ho Chi Minh–or Saigon– a bustling metropolis where bicycles, motorbikes and cars fly down at dizzying speed. We took a walking tour around the downtown.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall
Independence Palace
Notre Dame Cathedral of Saigon
Pedicab is a special type of transportation for Vietnam. 

Unfortunately I haven’t cruised for two years. Now I spend my time writing. My latest book is released today. I hope you will celebrate with me and enjoy RESCUE PLANS, book 3 of Love Plans Series.

RESCUE PLANS

To forget the drama that shook his life years ago, Captain Rafael Lopez dedicates himself to his career as a helicopter pilot, transporting patients in need of urgent care. His new flight nurse holds his attention with her gorgeous face, sassy mind, and indomitable spirit.

With determination and a lot of guts, Arianna Garcia survives life in the slums, learns to conquer her fears, and fights for herself. Rafael gives her the courage to break from her past. And Arianna is delighted to be Rafael’s flight nurse by day and passionate companion by night. After meeting a few jerks, she doesn’t believe in crazy promises and sex-driven hypocrisy.

Will Rafael discover the skeletons in her closet, gain her trust, and restore her faith in love?

Rescue Plans is book 3 of the Love Plans Series

#Thanksgiving Memories and a failsafe #Recipe @jacqbiggar

Thanksgiving is October 11th in Canada!

Thanksgiving dinner is serious business. Most other nights you can get away with anything from Hamburger Helper to Spaghetti and your family won’t complain. They don’t dare.

However, tonight is all about family. It’s special, and the meal you serve needs to portray this.

A lot of houses will be serving ham, turkey, scalloped potatoes, Brussel sprouts :), and while this sounds great, at our house we do things a little differently.

When my daughter was young there wasn’t a lot of money, so I began cooking lunches at our local Farmer’s Market to help with bills. This way she could go to ‘work’ with me.

Needless to say, she was a hit with both the other venders and the buying public. Who can say no to a cute little two-year-old?

 

Brandy and her big cousins

One of my most popular dishes was something we called Lazy Man Cabbage Rolls, served up with potato and cheddar pirogues covered in fried onions, sour cream, and bacon bits.

We usually sold out long before market ended. 🙂

My daughter developed a taste for these and throughout the years, regularly pestered me to make them up for her.

That’s how it became our Thanksgiving Tradition.

I thought I’d share my recipe here, and maybe it will become a tradition in your home also.

2 pounds of med ground hamburger
2 med heads of green cabbage
Approx. 4 cups of uncooked long grain rice (no minute rice)
3 cans of a good brand of Tomato soup (I use Heinz)
Salt and Pepper

Start by mixing in a large bowl your hamburger, rice, and a small handful each of salt and then pepper. Mix until the rice has mostly been integrated into the beef.
Wash hands thoroughly.
Cut the cabbage up into slivers similar to what you’d use for coleslaw.
Using a good-sized Dutch oven, start with a thin layer of cabbage, about an inch thick, in the bottom of pot.
Spread a layer of rice-beef mixture loosely on top of this.
Repeat procedure until you reach the top of pot. You want to end with cabbage on top.
Open two cans of soup into the bowl you used for beef mix, (it’ll pick up residual spices) then take each can and half fill with water and swish before dumping into bowl. Stir until mixed.
Slowly pour this mixture over the pot of cabbage rolls, spreading it across the top.
Put a lid on and cook in pre-heated 350 oven for 2.5 hours.
Remove lid and spread last can of soup undiluted over the top of your casserole.
Leaving lid off, replace in oven for half an hour longer.

Remove and enjoy. 🙂

Hope you give this a try one day. Let me know how it turned out for you.
Any special traditions you do in your homes that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them.

Apple Crisp #Recipe by @PatriceWilton

Apple CrispHello everyone! Hope you all survived this summer of extreme heat and so many terrible disasters. The summer heat was brutal, I know. I’m hoping that now, with the arrival of fall, we can all enjoy cooler temperatures and happier times. To lift your spirits here is a recipe for Apple Crisp I’m sure you will all enjoy!

A little about apples: Bon Appetit magazine says these are the best baking apples.

  • Jonagold has a honey-like sweetness.
  • Honeycrisp keep a nice, firm texture.
  • Braeburn has a concentrated flavor and bakes up juicy.
  • Winesap offers a deep, cider-y flavor.
  • Pink Lady has a good sweet / tart balance.

APPLE CRISP

Ingredients:
  • 10 Cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • l tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
Directions:

Step 1—Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2—Place the sliced applies in a 9×13-inch pan. Then mix the white sugar, 1 tbsp flour and ground cinnamon together. And then sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.

Step 3—Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and melted butter together. And then crumble evenly over the apple mixture.

Step 4—Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for a bit, and then serve.

This mouth-watering dish is best served with scoops vanilla ice cream and will bring sighs of pleasure to 8-10 lucky people. Recipe comes from AllRecipes.

Enjoy!

Celebrate Lemon Meringue Pie Day

Lemon Meringue Pie DayWhat tastes like bright sunshine and puts a smile on everyone’s face? Yes! Lemon Meringue Pie. August 15th is Lemon Meringue Pie Day, so let’s celebrate with a delicious recipe!

Crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

Filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Meringue:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  1. In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. And then cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until flour mixture is moistened and can be pressed into a ball.
  2. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is cold.
  3. Heat oven to 450°F. With floured rolling pin, roll pastry on lightly floured surface into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate, or roll pastry loosely around rolling pin and transfer to pie plate. Unfold or unroll pastry and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork to prevent puffing. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until light brown; cool on cooling rack.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. In small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork. In 2-quart saucepan, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar and the cornstarch; gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
  5. Immediately whisk at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks; stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Return to boiling; boil and stir constantly 2 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in butter, lemon zest and lemon juice with whisk. Cover and keep warm.
  6. In medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. And then beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; scrape side of bowl occasionally. Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form and sugar is completely dissolved. And then beat in vanilla. Pour hot lemon filling into baked pie shell. Drop spoonfuls of meringue onto hot lemon filling, and carefully spread meringue to cover top completely, spreading to edge of crust to prevent shrinkage or weeping.
  7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until meringue is browned and temperature reaches 160°F. And then cool on cooling rack 1 hour. Refrigerate about 4 hours or until filling is set. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.

This recipe came from the Betty Crocker website.

Here are some other Lemony desserts to try:

Gluten-Free Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Lush

Lemon Squares