More than Blood Drives

  Guest post by Penny Steed, American red Cross Preparedness Health and Safety Services Lead, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany

You may associate the American Red Cross logo with blood drives. Fortunately, we are more than blood drives. Red Cross volunteers can be seen at the medical and dental clinics, at your Spangdahlem library helping out with our PAWs (Pets and Warriors) Read to Dogs program, and at various base wide events supporting the community.

The Red Cross offers many opportunities to fit a volunteers’ different interests and schedules.

Penny Steed, our Preparedness Health and Safety Services Lead and photographer, shares her experience volunteering at the Red Cross in Spangdahlem, Germany.

There are many reasons to volunteer with the Red Cross. I can only speak to why I choose to volunteer. Like so many, I arrived in Germany and found that despite my qualifications, I could not find a job. So, I decided to give back to my community while sharpening my skills in the process through volunteering. I am not new to the Red Cross, one could say that it is in my blood. Both my mother and grandmother have volunteered with the Red Cross at one time or another. I have been teaching CPR for the Red Cross for decades and have a degree in Education, but breaking into DODEA is harder than it looks. Therefore, I am teaching for the Red Cross again and loving every minute of it. I work with great people, who like myself have or are pursuing professional degrees and are taking the opportunity to hone their skills and put them to use in a volunteer capacity with the Red Cross. I get to meet all kinds of people through all types of opportunities.

Some I only see once in a while, and others on a regular basis, but I know that I have made a difference when I receive their heartfelt thank-yous, and “atta boys.” Featured in this entry are some photographs from our annual Volunteer Recognition Ceremony. It is hosted by the Red Cross in appreciation of the volunteer contributions through the year. It’s a great opportunity to mix and mingle with other Red Cross volunteers that are out in the community volunteering in different capacities.

We have great people sharing their skills and qualifications to include assisting in the Medical Group clinics. We even have active duty men and women, volunteering their time to run programs within our community. We also now have our youth volunteer program back up and running, so our next generation can build on their skills. If you think we might have something for you, stop by the office and talk to us.

Spangdahlem Red Cross

Building 319, 2nd Floor

DSN: 452.9440

COMM: 06565.61.9440

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Been There, Done That: Prague Trip

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Hello faithful blog readers! This is my first blog post contribution since I recently arrived in June to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. I have a simple goal while living over here: to just travel as much as I can!

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My first four-day weekend fast approached, and I knew I didn’t want to spend more time stuck in my billeting room on base. I checked with Information, Tickets & Travel about their trip to Budapest, Hungary, but it was already booked up.

So where to go and what to do? After a bit of research on the internet about the top 10 places in Europe to visit, Prague in the Czech Republic was on almost every list.

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I have three options to be able “Czech out” Prague. I could get there by car, train or fly. I chose to fly out of Frankfurt International Airport just for the sake of convenience.

The public transportation in Prague is exceptional and so easy to use! With that being said, I recommend avoiding the taxi service – they are not regulated and could cost a good part of your budget before you really start your vacation._JS20811

When you’re at the airport in Prague, you can purchase a pass for the city’s public transportation. This pass is good for all public transportation such as buses, trams, metro and the Funicular railway. The price of the pass is dependent on how long you want the pass to be valid. You can purchase up to a three-day pass.

There is so much to see and do there; you really need at least three (but preferably) four days to enjoy this gem of a city. I focused my stay around Old Town, Lesser town and New town, the last of which is really the heart of Prague.

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While I was enjoying my stay there, I checked out the typical touristy sites, like the Astronomical Clock. It’s some impressive craftsmanship. There is actually a little show the clock performs every hour on the hour.

Make sure and walk across Charles Bridge. There are typically many local vendors selling cool handmade crafts, and street musicians on the bridge. The bridge connects Old Town and Lesser Town together— both places you must visit and explore!

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Prague Castle is another must-visit. I recommend being there just before noon. They have a changing-of-the-guard ceremony, and it was interesting to watch.

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Another quality I loved about Prague was that their beer is literally cheaper than water. This makes total sense as they hold the record for most beer consumed per capita than anywhere else in the world! So with that being said, hit up – have a plan or a designated driver!! – the Beer Museum restaurant. It has a huge selection of local Czech beers to drink.

The Strahov Monastery, located near the castle kind of tucked away in the corner, has their own brewery and restaurant. And it’s the only beer brewed by monks in Prague.

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During my short four days there, I still couldn’t see and enjoy everything the city has to offer, so I know I will be back to visit again!

 

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The Arp’s Tour of London — Looking for Hendrix stuff

Hello faithful blog readers!! Our last entry dealt with an upcoming post about the Baltics, Russia and Scandinavia.  The entry before that featured guitar playing while on a TDY to Iceland.  Since they were so popular… this entry by Tech. Sgt. Robbie Arp combines travelling (in London this time) AND a sweet guitar legend who… in case you did not know… used to be a U.S. Army paratrooper. (Your trivia fact for the day!)

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We live in a pretty amazing corner of the world with so many great opportunities to get out and “experience” history.  My wife and I recently had a blast in swinging London, not only taking in the typical sights and tastes, but also spreading our wings and venturing out to some not-so-known spots.  Mainly, we were searching for some of the places that my greatest inspiration, Jimi Hendrix, made his mark.

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Stop No. 1 was, of course, The Scotch of St. James Club, where Jimi played his first solo session in London on the evening of his arrival, Sep. 24, 1966. A month later, Jimi would return with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell for the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut performance. The club is tucked away in an almost hidden alley called Mason’s Yard, and we almost didn’t find it.

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This sign is easy to miss, tucked in an alleyway at one of only a few entrances to Mason’s Yard, the location of The Scotch of St. James Club.

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Our next Stop was The Bag O’ Nails Club, where Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr (of The Beatles– yes, THAT Paul and Ringo) first saw Jimi play on January 11, 1967, and he totally melted their faces!

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A plaque on the wall outside of the Bag O’ Nails Club highlighting the Experience’s first performance date at the club. It wouldn’t be their last.

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I was very surprised to learn that Hendrix’s London flat (“apartment,” as we Yanks call it) has been made into a museum. A dual exhibit, The Handel/Hendrix Museum, also offers customers a look into the life and work of Baroque composer George Frederic Handel, who lived and died here as well.

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The museum is set up in parts like it’s still being lived in, like this picture of Jimi’s bedroom.

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And here’s a sampling of Jimi’s record collection. I found his blues records to be awesome!  Mainly because I also own many of the same albums.  Interesting fact: they said his Bob Dylan records had the most wear and use of all of them.

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Lastly, here’s a little map of Hendrix’s favorite spots to hit around his flat.  My wife and I got to see most of them.  Bucket list…Check!

Taking the time to venture around London like this was amazing.  The city has so much to offer with so much possibility and fun just around every corner.  I highly suggest taking the time to familiarize yourself with “The Tube” (London’s underground subway system)  It’s extremely affordable and so easy to use.  Plus, there is a tube entrance only a short walk away anywhere you find yourself in the city.

It’s just a good idea, because London isn’t cheap.  They operate on The British Pound (abbreviated GBP) which currently stands at $1.47 to £1.  They say time flies when you’re having fun.  You know what flies faster?  Money!  So any cost-saving corners to cut will truly save you in the long run.

So, all in all, London is amazing and one of my all-time favorite travel destinations; historical, beautiful, and delicious!  Definitely something you and yours should “Experience.”  :D

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Been There, Done That: The Baltics/Scandinavia/Russia Trip

Hello faithful blog readers! As you may already be aware, it’s travel season– no matter where you are, there’s bound to be people either leaving there or leaving somewhere else to get there.

How appropriate then for one of our photojournalists to leave here (Spangdahlem) and go somewhere (in this case, several places) only to come back here (Spangdahlem again) to write about where he went. In this case, the travelling involved a great big boat on the Baltic Sea and the countries numbered seven — SEVEN — let’s count ’em: Sweden (including Gotland), Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Finland and even Russia!

They’ll be a three part posting on those countries to include 1.) The Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), 2.) Scandinavia (Sweden, Finland and Denmark), and 3.) Russia. He’ll also provide tips on the historical places he visited, the local cuisine and customs, as well as the souvenirs he purchased (it’s the hallmark of being a tourist.)

Until then, stay tuned for more updates and check out some of these panoramic pics (it’s so amazing what our phones can do nowadays!) from the seven countries on his travels:

PART ONE: The Baltics

LATVIA — Riga (Downtown)

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LITHUANIA– Klaipeda (The Great Dunes)

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ESTONIA — Tallinn (The Song Festival Grounds)

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PART TWO: Scandinavia

DENMARK — Copenhagen (The Little Mermaid)

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SWEDEN — Stockholm (The Sunken Ship VASA)

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FINLAND — Helsinki Church Square

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PART THREE: Russia

RUSSIA — St. Petersburg (Fruit Market)

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So there we were: me and my guitar in Iceland

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By Master Sgt. Kevin Nichols
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

I normally don’t take my guitar with me on work trips; if I have the itch to play (and I usually do), I just find one on the road while on temporary duty or deployments. Being that this was one of my last TDYs of my career, I thought, “why not.” I now see it as God’s providence that I did.

Here’s my story:

I was sent to Keflavik, Iceland to write stories, capture video and photos of the ongoing Icelandic Air Surveillance mission the U.S. and several other NATO countries fly into Iceland to maintain a forward presence in Europe.

USAFE, ANG leadership visit IAS mission

My personal mission (outside of doing my Air Force duties of course) was to learn more about, “da blues.” I wanted to stretch my abilities (I’m normally a hard rock and Christian Contemporary musician and listener), but I also wanted to breathe it in. I wanted to “know” the blues; I wanted to know the artists better and their music, mainly the guitarists that inspire me; Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix (plus a few others out there). So at night on my off-duty times, I listened to their music and took online blues lessons while discussing riffs and my excitement with a friend who’s head over heels into the blues and was constantly, “so stoked” for me (dude). It was indeed totally righteous, but not in a surfer blues way, but in an excitement that I took a step to improve my guitar playing; a step I really haven’t been dedicated to lately.

After a couple of weeks of personal jamming in my TDY room (while of course doing my job I add again), I was approached in the chow hall (oh, excuse me FSS specialists, “dining facility” or DFAC) by none other than Chaplain (Capt) Schrader of 52nd Fighter Wing Chaplaincy fame. He was in civilian clothes at the time as we were grabbing breakfast before heading out for the day. “Hey, Sergeant Nichols?” he said, catching me off guard. “Yeah.” I replied nonchalantly still not recognizing him right away (kind of like Mary Magdalene at the tomb when approached by the arisen Jesus). I’m not a morning person.

“Chaplain Schrader,” he announces himself and it clicked. “Oh, hey Sir!” I exclaimed, now surprised to see him in Iceland. After exchanging, “whattya doing here” info, he told me he was there checking on the Airmen and their morale and spiritual fitness, especially the Spangdahlem Saber team members who were in Iceland to set up infrastructure and provide ground support, protocol, services, fire fighting, etc. for about 200 Airmen. While deployed or TDY, Airmen may face difficulties or dangers that could bring about fear or doubt. This type of spiritual fitness gives Airmen the tools necessary to overcome fears or obstacles associated with situations while away from home. So it’s really great that Chaplain Schrader and the 52nd Fighter Wing Chapel team are charged with visiting Airmen in as many locations the Theater Security Package missions go or wherever Sabers are sent.

Chaplain Schrader told me that morning he was putting together a small church service Sunday if I was interested. Oh, I was totally interested.

Praise and Worship Salvation Army

Here’s where my guitar comes in (we’ll call her “Stella,” starting with “Tele,” because she’s a 2010 Squier Telecaster; pronounce it like in “tele”-marketer but add the ‘S’ from Squier so it sounds like a female name; ala B.B. King’s “Lucille”). Chaplain Schrader made mention of my guitar-playing praise and worship abilities which I do each week at my home church and occasionally at the chapel. “Too bad you didn’t bring your guitar,” he said. Oh, but I did. I knew there was a reason.

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Sunday came and after discussing it some more, the chaplain encouraged me to run to my room and get Stella. The room we were to use for the service had a soundboard and speaker system and it wasn’t hard to plug and play. We had a great time praising God while Chaplain Schrader brought his message to about 12 of us. Through this exchange and only as God would have it I feel, I met two other Christian guys who play guitar. They were setting up a little praise and worship get-together outside our installation at a Salvation Army post. Senior Airman Blake Wilson, assigned to the 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, had stopped in a week prior to us meeting, looking for a guitar to play (all guitarists are the same when we have that itch). What he found was a stage, a few guitars, two amps, a drum set (missing a couple of pieces though) and a Cajon (pronounced as, “ca-HONE,” the box-looking drum that you sit on and tap).

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“The only instruments there were the ones utilized for service, but they had no one available to play them,” Wilson said. “They asked if I could maybe play one Sunday and I told them I’d do what I could. Fortune would have it that I met two men who already did services on a regular basis and one of them was affiliated with the Salvation Army. These two and Martha of the Salvation Army were able to connect and the rest was history.”

Community involvement at its finest folks, and divinely orchestrated I believe, collaborating on spiritual and social fitness. The three of us set out to begin practicing together several times throughout the week for the next Sunday ahead of us. Stella and I had a bigger purpose now and bigger than that, three U.S. Airmen and several Icelanders were going to build some lasting relationships.

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We went to the Salvation Army to practice in the environment we were going to be in for Sunday, and the ladies running the Salvation Army were so happy to hear us play we ended up playing music for a few hours each time, and it began a friendship over coffee and sweets each night we were there.

“We were so blessed to have you here,” Marta said, a local national in Iceland charged with maintaining the Salvation Army in Keflavik (previously the old air base finance building). “It was so nice to hear music again in this place.”

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As Sunday got closer, we invited a few other Airmen to come along and fellowship. About 20 people were there in all. We had a great time playing and singing music from some of the more popular Contemporary Christian artists and many of the Icelanders sang along and danced. Afterward, we enjoyed some prepared food, coffee and swapped stories about God, family and home life.

“It was like being invited to a cookout only to have it turn into a family reunion,” Wilson said. “You discover relatives you never knew you had and think to yourself, “Ok, so this is how this works! It made my military service take on a whole new meaning. With my unit, I helped to support Iceland militarily and, with this newly-found small group of friends, spiritually.”

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“In Iceland I met friends, family, and a home church I never knew I had. Also, so did they,” Wilson added.

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Foodie Chick Diary- Unintentional Awesome Sauce

foodieweek3-1Is it just me, or is Germany drunk? The weather, not the people. This whole back and forth between blue and gray skies and what seems like gray sad endless rain is more indecisive than me trying to decide between brownies or sweet delicious artichoke-ie goodness.

Okay that is really no contest. I’ll take the artichokes. Unless they are black bean brownies… oh glorious black bean brownies.

But fear not, my foodie confidants; I’ve got a fantastical creation good for helping you feel the burn even if the sun can’t decide if it wants to shine.

Watch out Sabers, we’re bringing the heat!

Prep work-

This is another recipe with fairly easily-obtained supplies. The only thing I had a bit of trouble locating was the peppers in adobo sauce, but if you poke around the Mexican/Asian food isle for a while, chances are you’ll find it. If not, everything is pretty basic, so it should be found in your local grocery store of choice.

Okay, just throwing this out there. I actually completely and utterly goofed on this recipe. I have no idea what the actual stuff tastes like, because in my sad pre-soup-time rainy-day disenchantment I opted to forget one of my most basic skills that you are currently engaging in. Yeah. Reading. BUT, I did manage to stumble upon a “variation” of this “soup” that also makes a pretty fantastic dip for chips. So that is a plus. If you want to check out my variation, I’ll include it in the notes after the recipe.

Black Bean and Chipotle Soup – (the way you are supposed to make it)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 cups peeled and diced carrots

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

l cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped green bell peppers

3 cups cooked black beans (two 15- ounce cans, un-drained)

1/2 cup water

1/2 dried chipotle pepper or 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

2 cups chopped fresh or un-drained canned tomatoes (14-ounce can)

1/2 cup orange juice

Steps:

1. Warm oil, and sauté the onions and garlic in the oil for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent.

2. Add the carrots and cumin and cook on medium heat, stirring often, for a few minutes.

3. Add the celery and bell peppers, reduce heat, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes.

4. Add the beans, chipotle, tomatoes, orange juice, and water and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

5. If you’re not using canned beans, add ½ cup of bean-cooking liquid or additional water.

6. If desired, garnish each serving with sour cream, jalapeño and cilantro.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Nutrition facts per serving: 312 calories;

11g fat; 1.5g saturated fat;

56mg sodium; 45g carbohydrates;

13g fiber; 13g protein

“Just Like” sour cream

Ingredients:

1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt (or can use cottage cheese)

1 Tbsp white vinegar

Steps:

1. Combine ingredients in blender, food processor or with immersion blender. Blend on high until smooth, stopping and scraping down sides as needed.

2. Serve a dollop on baked potatoes, chili, enchiladas, or stir into recipes in place of sour cream. Great for sour cream based dips.

Nutrition facts per serving:

21 calories; 0.5g fat; 9mg sodium;

1g carbohydrates; 3g protein

 

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Additional notes

So on to my totally intentional and not at all oops moment of a variation. If you want a soup (or dip, as I chose to use it) with a bit more kick, toss that whole can of peppers on in there. It’s going to bump up the calories and sodium a bit, but it’s got a really satisfying burn that, paired with the handy dandy better-for-you sour cream recipe also courtesy of the Foodie Friday Cookbook, is pretty much just what I was looking for anyway.

Being honest, I just misread the directions to remove only 1 pepper from the can and, having never used them before, didn’t even realize there were whole peppers in there. I just dumped the can in. It’s about five times the amount of chipotle peppers the soup was supposed to have. It was hot. Luckily for me, my coworkers and I love spicy food, so this oops really turned out for the better if you intend to use it as a dip. If you wanted to sit down with a bowl of it (as was intended in the actual recipe) I’d probably recommend following those directions and taking only one pepper out of the can.

The only complaint I might have about it is the seeds from the chipotle peppers. The soup didn’t cook long enough by the recipe for the pepper seeds (they come in the canned ones) to soften. This resulted in random hard seeds in your soup (a lot of them, if you done goofed.) The seeds are half the spice, so I didn’t really want to take them out. To combat this, I put it through the blender until it was relatively smooth.

As far as the sour cream goes, we aren’t going to talk about it much. Why? Because I can’t tell the difference between it and real sour cream. It’s awesome. No one knew it wasn’t real. I have since used it a few more times for soup. If you are like me and get yogurt anyway for smoothies or anything, it’s a pretty easy alternative I highly recommend.

The Review-

While I can’t give an honest review of the basic recipe because I goofed, if its anything like a less spicy version of what I created, than it’s probably pretty good. The soup had good flavor with spice that crept up on you rather than just overpowering everything else from the start. My version had a little more spice then I probably would have been comfortable with just having a bowl of it, but there are others in my office who might disagree. Spicy is one of those flavors that are very subjective, so its certainly one you can heat up or cool down depending on who you’re catering to.

We had a visitor to the office this time around and we opted to not only put her to work, but to get her review of the food as well. I knew most of my coworkers liked spicy food anyway, so I wanted an unbiased perspective.

“I happened to be over at PA office for lunch. After I finished my lunch I watched them set everything up for the picture and since I still hung around I was asked to pose as a hand model and was honored with holding the chip,” said Nichole Flohr, PA’s resident chip holding expert (of the week) “After the picture was taken the soup was heated in the microwave and I got to taste it. The texture of it reminded me more of a dip but it was really good. A little spicy maybe but I like spicy so I wouldn’t complain. It merged really well with the cheese and sour cream.”

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So there you have it. Soup that is a dip and sour cream that’s really yogurt and a visitor that is really transient hand model extraordinaire! This dip makes things happen. Awesome things.

If nothing else, maybe it will make those rainy days just a little bit warmer.

If you liked this recipe (botched or otherwise) you can check out our previous Foodie Chick entries, or get the whole book right now by contacting the Health and Wellness Center

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Foodie Chick Diary- Call me brownie… BLACK BEAN Brownie.

 

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Am I the only one who remembers being a bratty child who hated anything mildly green tinted or bean shaped? I don’t think I’d ever tried half the things I dismissed as “gross” when I was young. The very question of whether or not I might like it meant it was gross, obviously. My mom wouldn’t have asked, otherwise. I knew your secret, Mom! I knew….

Clearly she was trying to poison me.

As I got older, I gradually started to accept green wasn’t a terrible thing and some veggies are actually good. My favorite food, even when I was a kid strangely enough, is artichokes.

Yeah, explain that one. Kids are weird.

I never really jumped onboard the avocado or beans ship though. Spinach I could do. Cucumbers are awesome. I’m still waiting for my broccoli.

Green mush and little spherical pods of more relatively tasteless mush? Ehhh… not so much.

Apparently I’m still doing this food thing wrong.

Now, I’m also a chick. I whole heartedly submit to the stereotype that women love chocolate. If you don’t, no hard feelings, you’re just not human. There is another secret I know now that may have helped my mom cover her thinly veiled villainous attempts to make me eat ‘gross’ stuff if she’d had in her arsenal back then. I’ll let you in on it

Veggies + chocolate= Not bad.

Black beans + chocolate = these brownies and I may needs some time alone together.

Allow me to preface this story with the importance of ensuring first that no one you plan to feed has any food allergies. As part of my quest to put the Foodie Friday cookbook to the test, I first asked around my office if anyone had food allergies or sensitivities. After weeding out a few recipes that might upset fragile diets, I settled on a pair that I thought might go hand in hand in delectable fashion.

Somewhere along the line, I decided it would be fun to not tell my coworkers. Who doesn’t enjoy a little undercover work in the name of good food?

Watch out, World, the avocado has gone incognito.

Prep work:

Both recipes I chose to tackle are made with ingredients easily found in the commissary or, I imagine, any local grocery store. I didn’t check on the economy, but there isn’t exactly anything exotic in them. The recipes are listed below, but I did try some (ungodly ill-conceived) variations, which I’ll discuss in the additional notes after the recipes.

Black Bean Brownies-

Ingredients:

1 box brownie mix

1-15oz can black beans (drained)

Instructions:

Drain and rinse beans. Place beans back in can, then fill can with water. Dump can in blender or food processer and puree. In a mixing bowl, mix together dry brownie mix with pureed beans. Pour in pan prepared per back of brownie mix. Be sure the mix is poured in as evenly as possible: because of the thickness of the batter, it will not level out during baking. Bake in oven according to directions on brownie mix. You may need to bake a little longer to cook, so use a toothpick to check whether or not its evenly cooked across the pan.

Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Ingredients:

1 perfectly ripe avocado

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup dark chocolate mini chips (Optional)

Instructions:

Peel avocado and remove seed. Chop into a few big pieces. Place avocado, cocoa powder and maple syrup into a food processor. Blend until all ingredients are combined and mixture is smooth (like icing). Remove from food processor and stir in chocolate chips. Yield: 4 servings

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Additional Notes:

Here is the part where I get to laugh at myself to avoid crying. One point I would emphatically make while creating the frosting is to make sure, for the love of everything holy, if you do not wish to violently choke to death on incredibly bitter chocolate goop that will instantly make you regret all your life decisions leading up to that moment, do not get sugar free maple syrup. The chocolate was a lie! I know, I know, you will probably laugh at me like this is obvious. The maple syrup is the sweetener, coco powder is really bitter. I know that. Well, I know that now.

Secondly, the “frosting” is really more of a chocolate dip for pretzels or fruits, as it is decidedly bitterer than your average milk chocolate dessert. Due to the oil in the avocado, it also doesn’t really seem to set the way frosting generally would, but then I didn’t leave it out incredibly long in order to try.

As far as the brownies go, one thing I’d suggest is making sure you thoroughly rinse the beans and the inside of the can, even if you get low sodium beans. I personally wanted to be as sneaky possible for the sake of my vital quest to bring about a healthier office, so I opted to make brownie bites in a mini muffin tin (no one can be suspicious of brownie bites! They are so cute!) They don’t rise, so don’t be afraid to fill the tins up to about the top. One of the recommendations I saw suggested baking for about 12 minutes, but if you fill them to the rim like I did, you’re probably looking a bit closer to 18 minutes. Either way, stick them with a tooth pick to make sure they are cooked all the way through. If you’ve got an oven with uneven heat distribution, you may want to turn the pan around at about the 12-minute mark to make sure they don’t burn on one side while the other tries to catch up.

One batch will probably be a little too much for a 24-count of mini brownie bites, so you are gonna have a bit left over. OH NO! Extra brownie batter! What the heck are you gonna do with that?

Please note, for health reasons and such, Public Affairs does not officially advise the consumption of raw brownie batter, with or without the presence of uncooked eggs as with black bean brownies.

I unofficially may or may not have utilized a spoon.

Also, they are hot, so let them cool a bit before you stick them in your face. Please note that temperatures may vary, but I timed it and about two minutes is usually enough to reach eatable perfection from my oven. You’re welcome.

The Review:

First, let’s talk about the frosting. Now, I’m not a usually a person who gets chocolate dip and, admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the dip when following the recipe exactly. However, by cutting back on the coco slightly I was able to produce something more suited to my incredibly unrefined pallet. It’s one of those things that you may want to play around a hair with the contents in order to produce something a bit more to your personal preferences.

The reviews I got in the office were mixed to favorable. The biggest complaints I got were actually the things I purchased for dipping, but in that regard it’s hard to make everyone happy. I stuck with fruit and pretzels personally, though some people did dip the brownies themselves and liked it.

Speaking of those brownies.

I’ve made them before and I can’t go back. I do like to pick a recipe that has some chocolate chips/chunks in it just in case you get a bit of bean here and there that isn’t fully blended, but even then I’ve yet to find one myself or hear anyone complain if they have.

While Tea Rechtz was unfortunately gone and unable to provide a review (he did sneak off with some brownies though first, I would note) one of my coworkers did step up and offer her thoughts.

“I thought they were awesome. I like the richness/density and moisture in the brownies” said Master Sgt. Kenya Shiloh, our temporary resident taste-tester extraordinaire (Public affairs would like to clarify that taste-tester extraordinaire is not a recognized public affairs profession and possibly falls somewhere closer to poison-test Guinee pig. Guess they didn’t trust my brownie bites after all.) “I love the idea of hiding a protein/vegetable in something so tasty. I would definitely make these for a get together or office function and secretly feed them to my kids!”

Pick 11

So there you have it, two brand new recipes of mass chocolaty distraction to add to your arsenal of healthy goodness.

Next time, in the quest to figure out, not only can I make it, but can I eat it, we’ll be covering the contents of the Foodie Friday cook book a recipe at a time. I’ll provide locations to get ingredients, difficulty rating, pretty, pretty pictures, and, of course, taste test reviews by my coworkers here at PA.

I’m thinking something cheesy.

If you liked this recipe and want more right now, you can check out our previous posts or contact the Health and Wellness Center for the full cookbook!

 

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Been There, Done That: A Weekend in Bruges

NOTE: Hello and greetings to both of our faithful blog readers! (Ha, ha, we’re kidding. We’re just pleased that one of you was able to give out the Best Blog in USAFE award. Which, by the way, we did win, so we thank YOU!) Anyway, you will probably recall we offer viewer submissions on their recent travels throughout this continent. It’s a big job to do, but, judging from this story from Tech. Sgt. Andrew Kehl of the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, it’s well worth the trip! Why not submit one yourself? Send it to 52fw.panews@us.af.mil and impress your friends with your worldliness on an award-winning blog! OH YEA-A-A-A-A-AH!!!!

If you are looking for a perfect weekend getaway, look no further than the setting of the 2008 film “In Bruges.” That’s right, that picturesque little town with a miniature Venice feel is only a short drive away from Saber Nation.

Simply take the A60 toward Liege and follow the signs to Brussels/Ghent, and you will eventually arrive in this canal-based northern city.

Bryges-Canal

With only a weekend at your disposal, I thought I would provide you a few tips to make sure you get the most out of Bruges in such a short time. Here are six things I think are noteworthy for a perfect way to see something great, without burning that hard-earned leave:

1. Stay near the Markt—This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the pin drop of this city. Aside from the historical highlights that include the 12th-century belfry and Provincial Court, the square is where all the action is. I recommend Hotel Algeria, as it provided a nice little B&B experience with an above average breakfast included with quiet rooms nestled off the street. Safe, affordable and near the action? I’ll take it!

2. Drink Beer [Responsibly!!!]—I thought I was cool going to St. Vith for my Belgium brew needs. Whoa, I was wrong. The little cobblestone streets in the city are lined with shops offering hundreds (yes, I said hundreds) of different Belgium beers for sale. Be sure to check out the Halve Maan Brewery, the only brewery in the city for a nice 8 euro tour which also happens to come with free, unfiltered Bruges Zot (means Bruges town idiot) beer! When you are ready to buy yourself some brew-gifts, head down to The Bottle Shop on Wollestraat where your wife will know what it feels like when you are stuck in Forever 21 or H&M.

FullSizeRender

3. Enjoy the nearby Cafes-Bruge has so many cafes, it may be hard to decide which one to relax at. Well, don’t worry, I got your back! Right around the corner from Hotel Algeria is Sorbetiere De Medici. Go upstairs for a cool view of everything happening below you. This is a nice, warm place for a cup of coffee and a delicious Belgium waffle. Afterwards, head down to the cathedral to see Michelangelo’s “Madonna with Child.”  In the evening, walk 25 steps down the road and have a world-class brew at Het Hof Van Rembrandt (no, not the toothpaste.) Whatever you do, just don’t forget to try a waffle because it hits the spot regardless of time of day.

4. Take a boat tour-For less than a meal at Golden Dragon, you can take a nice little 35-minute boat tour through the narrow canals that run through the entire little town. This is a great way to take in many of the sights as well as meet new, interesting people.

5. Eat at ‘t Zwart Huis-A very popular place, be sure to make reservations in advance. It is well worth it though. They have live music along with amazing local food upstairs. If you want a quieter atmosphere, head downstairs where the ambiance is candle-lit. Either way, you can’t lose by eating at that place Saturday night.

Bruge_Markt_Beer

6. Drink more beer [Even MORE Responsibly]-I know, I already said this. But, there are so many beers there! Go down to “2 be in Bruges” and you can even have a Westvleteren on the spot!

Being stationed overseas is all about travelling. To me, Bruges is a place many people save up for just to see.

We have the privilege of being just down the road so it would be a crime not to gas up the car and [responsibly] enjoy a little weekend in this fascinating city.

Have fun! [But always have a plan: NEVER drink and drive, always have a designated driver/thinker and have money for cabfare. If you’re nearby Spangdahlem, check with your recall roster if you’re in need of help or call Airmen Against Drunk Driving at 0656561-2233 for 24/7 support options to safely get you back home!]

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Presidents Day Trivia-O-Rama 2016

Howdy Sabers! I’m sure many of you have made some special plans for the upcoming weekend. And not just for any weekend– this one comes with a day that only happens once a year. (Truly, ALL days happen once a year, but stick with me on this.)

This extended weekend includes a particular holiday, and I can see everyone getting ready for it now: you’ve already got your best suit or gown for the inauguration gala. You’ve got your playlist of the best State of the Union addresses ready on your iPod.  And you’ve prepared your TV for a binge-a-thon of the eight-hour documentary detailing the decisions and biographies made from our nation’s 43 commanders-in-chief.

Wait… y’all were thinking about Valentine’s Day, right?

True, that is also this weekend, but the following day is a Federal Holiday: PRESIDENTS DAY!!! And it’s that time of year to bring back some presidential trivia! The following 10 questions are some of my favorite questions!

Congratulations to Nicole Flohr for being the first person to answer all 10 questions correctly and receiving an awesome Spangdahlem coin!

THE QUESTIONS

1.)    Which four presidents lost the popular vote yet still won the presidency?

-John Quincy Adams in 1824, Rutherford Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and George W. Bush in 2000.

2.)    Which president was near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other?

-James Buchanan

3.)    Who was our last president to sport facial hair?

-William Howard Taft

4.)    Who was the first president to be born in a hospital?

-Jimmy Carter

5.)    Which three presidents were elected while serving in the U.S. Senate?

-Warren Harding, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama

6.)    Who was our shortest president?

-James Madison

7.)    Which president said the following phrase and to what was he referring: “Well, there doesn’t seem anything else for an ex-President to do but to go into the country and __________________.”

-Chester Arthur “…raise big pumpkins.”

8.)    Who was the first president to live in the White House? -John Adams 9.) Which president won the New Hampshire presidential primary more than any other candidate?

-Richard Nixon in 1960, 1968 and 1972

10.)    Which president earned the Medal of Honor, for which military campaign did he earn it, and which President gave it to him?

-Theodore Roosevelt for the Battle of San Juan Hill, and it was awarded to him posthumously by Bill Clinton

For more information on presidential history, visit the Spangdahlem Library or visit the White House’s website at http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents.

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Foodie Chick Diary- New year, New you… New food

prep work

I’m not generally the sort to go out of my way to make New Year’s resolutions. I know myself well enough to know that I’m not likely to stick with any crazy exercise schedule I try to set in an end of year rush of fantastical whimsy. Instead of saying “Let’s lose 20 pounds this year,” I usually try and set a goal I’m a bit more likely to reach.

Let’s be a bit healthier this year.

Healthy for me, and I think most people will agree, isn’t just about how far you can run and how many pushups you can do. (Albeit, my dog would probably like it if I took him on runs more often. It’s not my fault he’s got stubby legs and can’t keep up! Gosh!) Being healthy is also about what you are eating.

Now, I’m a foodie kinda chick. I’ll blame it on my Italian ancestry and my dad’s insane kitchen talents (Gorden Ramsey’s got nothing on Pops.)

I love to cook. However, I had always thought eating healthy can be a bit of a chore; it’s simply too taxing to look for all the ingredients, when pizza has all four food groups already—(am I right, people?) It’s just cheaper, with respect to time and money, to eat like a fatty-fat kid. I don’t have recipes or the time, and, dagnabbit, I just don’t know where to start.

Well, I heard about this Foodie Friday class being put on by the Health and Wellness Center and thought I’d give it a shot. I got my game face on, went in hungry, ready to take a bite out of whatever healthy challenge they wanted to throw at me — bring on the broccoli!

What did I get?

Lentils.

You read that right.

You may have seen them at the commissary. They are cute, little beans sitting on the shelf that you may have glanced at and hastily scooted your little buggy on by without the thought of ever actually sticking them in your face. Why? Well, that’s often the case for me because I’m a self-proclaimed carnivore.

They don’t look like much and, in my experience, I had found these squishy little pods packed a heck of a lot of “healthy” but not a whole lot of flavor.

Apparently, I’d been doing it wrong.

What was brought to my plate was a heaping serving of witchcraft with a side of homemade pasta. They were great! I wanted more. But the part of me that was carnivore was in revolt.

“Blasphemy,” I thought. “Nothing good for you can have decent flavor; that is a law of nature.”

I opted to steal away the recipe to my dungeon (AKA my kitchen at home) with every intent of garnering their secrets.

And, lucky for you readers, here’s my first attempt…

Swabian-style German Lentils

Prep work:

The recipe itself is pretty easy to follow and all the necessary ingredients can be found in the commissary. If you prefer to shop on the economy, any local grocery store should have what you need. The basic recipe is listed below, but in the class they offered some variations, which I chose to follow instead. You can find them in the additional notes below the main recipe.

Ingredients:

-5 slices of thick cut bacon, diced

-1 large yellow onion, finely diced

-1 tablespoon butter

-1 carrot, finely diced

-1 leek, finely chopped, thoroughly rinsed and drained

-1 pound of dried lentils, rinsed and drained (no need to soak)

-7 cups of beef broth (I used low sodium)

-1 bay leaf

-1 teaspoon of salt

-¼ teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

-1 teaspoon of white sugar

-¼ cup of white vinegar

-2 tablespoons of parsley, extra for garnish if desired

-6 Wiener Wϋrstchen (optional)

making lentils

Instructions:

Cook the bacon over medium-high heat until done. Transfer to a plate. Cook the onion until soft and translucent 5-7 minutes. Add the butter, carrots and leek and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the lentils, bacon, broth, bay leaf, salt, pepper and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the vinegar and parsley, and simmer another 3-4 minutes. If too thick for your taste, add a little extra beef broth. Add more salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar for taste. Stick in face (or eat, whatever) while still warm or refrigerate for later consumption.

Additional Notes:

In the Foodie Friday class, the gentleman who made this strayed away from the vanilla version, and I opted to follow in the ways of his teaching. I added a can of petite, diced tomatoes (no need to drain them) and I excluded the bacon and German sausage.

Additionally, I substituted all but one cup of the beef broth for vegetable stock. You can exclude the beef broth entirely to make a vegetarian dish, but I tried it to see if it added anything. Really, it didn’t change the flavor all that much, so I’d probably recommend going one way or the other for the sake of simplicity and only having to buy one particular flavor of base.

I may recommend getting an electric veggie chopper to make sure all the pieces are small and evenly cooked. I personally went a little heavy-handed on the pepper and parsley, but that’s my personal preference. Don’t be afraid to play with the herbs, but wait until after you’ve simmered it so the flavors settles in and have some time to come together.

 The Review:

They turned out awesome! However, to make sure my judgement at the time was sound, I opted to refrigerate these bad boys overnight and bring them into the office for my coworkers. After some initial prodding to get them to try it and urging them to reheat the cold dish, I received positive remarks unanimously.

“The recipe screamed healthy to me,” said Tea Rechtz, our resident master food tester (PA would like to note that “Tea Rechtz,” as he chooses to be called, is in fact NOT a licensed master food tester nor have they reached any recognizable level of certification as a taste tester from any accredited organization.) “Part of me wanted to throw in Fritos and shredded cheese, but then I remembered that nothing tastes as good as feeling thin. It may not look like much– I mean, they’re lentil beans. Compared to black-eyed peas or garbanzo beans, they’re the little beans that just couldn’t — but a minute in the microwave brought out the most from this concoction. More please!”

finished prouct

So there you have it: somehow these little beans I had never given a thought about had me wondering what other misconceptions I bought into for years about eating healthy. Where do I or any of us begin on this new found quest for healthy food that is ALSO tasty?

Well, guess what?

The brand spanking new Foodie Friday cookbook has got you covered!

The Foodie Friday Cookbook, presented to you straight from the Spangdahlem HAWC at the astonishing price of absolutely free is a little virtual manual of calorie-conscious goodness ready and waiting to help you get healthy one swift kick in the taste buds at a time!

Sound right up your alley?

GOOD! Because it’s right up mine, too! This little gem contains a handful of popular recipes, each with a healthy twist, to help you get your yum on without gaining 20 pounds around your bum.

BUT WAIT!

Now you might be saying, Sarah, what the poop is Amaranth?

Where do I get green curry paste?

Are these recipes difficult?

These are all amazing questions I have absolutely no idea about the answers. But, I’m willing to find out in Spangdahlem Live’s brand new blog series “Foodie Chick Diaries.”

In the quest to figure out, not only can I make it, but can I eat it, we’ll be covering the contents of the Foodie Friday cook book a recipe at a time. I’ll provide locations to get ingredients, difficulty rating, pretty, pretty pictures, and, of course, taste test reviews by my coworkers here at PA.

It’s a new year maybe with a new you and with new food I can’t wait to sink my teeth into!

If you’ve got an appetite for more, contact the Health and Wellness Center for the full cook book!

 

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