Summer is in full swing here in the South, ready for thousands of visitors to hit the Gulf beaches… but wait! This year you may not want to step into the water. Unfortunately, the Gulf of Mexico is challenging us with some health scares.
The flesh-eating bacteria that have contaminated the waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the last few years have now been found in seafood. Swimmers with open wounds have been discouraged from entering the water for some time now. But now news reports advise people to avoid eating raw seafood as well—particularly raw oysters—as this has been linked to people contracting the bacteria. The number of deaths this year has reached into the hundreds.
Also, right in my own backyard, Panama City Beach, Florida, there’s been an outbreak of sea lice. I’d never heard about these monsters before—and all I could imagine was something like scabies…yuck! But they are not. Sea lice are tiny jellyfish larvae that sting your skin…the rash comes later. The larvae are so microscopic that they are impossible to see with the naked eye. They tend to migrate through the mesh of bathing suits, where they become trapped and begin to sting. However, most swimmers don’t realize they’ve been stung until the next day, when they experience fever, chills, nausea, and bumpy or blistered skin.
I sit here on my porch, just 25 feet from the water. The powdery beaches are crowded with tourists—down here we call them renters. I think to myself, as long as there is water and sun in the Gulf, nothing will keep people from Canada and the Southeastern United States from heading down here. As I look around, I already sense the swarm of people arriving for the upcoming Fourth of July weekend…and that’s a good thing.
It seems there’s always something going on with the oceans of the world—from shark sightings to contamination to the now-current sea lice and Vibrio outbreak. But people have always flocked to the ocean waters for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Put the recent scares out of your mind and remember all the wonderful things to see at the Gulf of Mexico. Come to enjoy the long stretches of white, powdery sand between your toes…the amazing orange and purple sunsets over the gulf waters…the unique Sundog Bookstore in Seaside, rated a full 5 stars on TripAdvisor—the famous Margaritaville in Pier Park in Panama City Beach. Take long, leisurely bike rides along the beach. Instead of raw seafood, take advantage of the various mouthwatering options for dinner in the coastal towns, and cool down in the refreshing pools that dot the coastline’s many hotels and communities. It’s a great opportunity to try something new during your getaway to the Gulf of Mexico.
Come to the long, white beaches of Florida, to celebrate the 4th of July.
If you see me sitting on my porch, stop by…
Hello, summer! Extra long days, plenty of vitamin D, and a carefree attitude make this my favorite time of the year. I’ll take a bright summer morning or a balmy summer night to relax in my hammock and read a great book. Wouldn’t you?
I have compiled a list of some great books that come highly recommended by five-star Amazon reviews, best-selling lists, and—myself. You won’t go wrong with any of these.
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
For the romantic in all of us—but those who like more complex, less predictable plots over the typical sappy, too sweet romance beach reads. In fact, the connection that develops between main characters Lou and Will doesn’t seem to be a romantic one at first. And that’s what makes it so charming. When Lou is first hired to care for Will after the accident that left him fully paralyzed, she is unsure of the bitter man. But when she learns that he has some drastic plans, she takes it upon herself to show him that life is still worth living. The best part about Me Before You is that it’s currently out in theaters. So read this one quick, then compare it with Hollywood’s take!
The Martian by Andy Weir
Okay, this one is a bit older: it came out in 2014. Honestly, I have not read it myself as I am not a sci-fi enthusiast. But it made my list because someone in my life finished it over a year ago and still talks about this book on a weekly basis—apparently it was that good! Here is what this person says: The Martian follows Mark Watney after an accident left him stranded on Mars, all alone. Although you have to admit it’s a terrifying concept, Watney does well with the tools available to him, and manages to put up a heck of a fight against the uninhabitable Martian atmosphere. You’ll be rooting for Mark all along, and not be disappointed by the explosive ending. Again, another novel to compare to the movie version starring Matt Damon.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Poingnant and powerful. Yousafzai shines light on a current issue that is making headlines: the right of Middle Eastern girls to education. In standing up for her rights, Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban. Although the violent act intended to silence her, it skyrocketed the sixteen-year-old to become a global symbol of protest and hope. I Am Malala is a necessary read to understand that only one voice is needed to change the world.
If you breeze through these, don’t forget to check out Stephen King’s End of Watch, new on the NYT bestsellers list (at #1!), Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train (74 weeks on the NYT bestsellers list), and James Patterson’s latest, Alex Cross powerhouse novel Cross Kill (new this week on the NYT bestsellers list).
Last but not least, if you have yet to read my novel, Pinnacle Lust, it’s a great time to catch up before the second book in the trilogy is released.
Have you read any of these best-selling books? Which was your favorite?
Stay cool and keep reading!
June 19th is coming up fast—Father’s Day—and the first thing that comes to mind is my next book, the second in the Pinnacle Trilogy, and the meaning of fatherhood.
What better opportunity to give my loyal readers a sneak peek into book two?
My second book in the Pinnacle series picks up where Leigh’s story leaves off in book one. However, it still can be read as a stand-alone novel.
Eighteen-year-old New Yorker, Leigh, arrives at a Tel Aviv hospital anxious to know if her father, Dr. Sloan, survived his cardiac arrest. She stands next to his bed and watches him.
“I wondered if that man in the CCU bed would ever open his eyes and see me again. Would he ever answer my questions and take responsibility for the sperm he deposited in my mother? Would I ever call him father or would he remain a stranger to me for the rest of my life? Would he ask me for forgiveness or would he justify his selfish actions from the past?”
While these two have a long list of issues to work through, and a relationship to build or deny, Leigh’s heartbreaking journey brings her mother’s past into focus once more—and all with the price of nasty judgments and insecurities.
As Leigh interacts with the medical staff, she develops an unusual relationship with one of her father’s treating physicians, who discloses information that could change her life. Once she learns about his past relationship with her mother, she starts to believe that Dr. Sloan might not be her father. Though she dismisses the idea, it nags her over time.
The next Father’s Day might have a different meaning to Leigh… Will she ever celebrate Father’s Day again... and with whom—her biological father or the man who raised her?
Father’s Day has different meanings for different people—don’t take anything for granted. What does it truly mean to be a father? And what does a child really see in a father?
Find out more about Leigh’s journey and dilemmas as she struggles to balance reality with the lies she’s been told and discover how an eighteen year old fights the unaccepted truth.
Follow Leigh as she navigates a crime scene and switches from complainant to suspect, as she finds the answers in the exciting second book in the Pinnacle Trilogy.
Happy Father’s Day.
Just like kosher secular Jew, Sharon Lapidot, in Pinnacle Lust, I celebrate all Jewish holidays. Like many others, I’m not always well versed in the reasons behind some traditions… like this one—why do we eat dairy dishes on Shavuot.
Shavuot is upon us, and I already find myself researching it. Here is what I know: Shavuot is a Jewish holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah to the Jews. In biblical times, this holiday also commemorated the beginning of a new agricultural season, and was also known as Hag HaKatzir--“The Harvest Holiday.” Shavuot is also known as Hag HaBikurim--“The Holiday of First Fruits,” as well as “The Feast of Weeks.” Shavuot was an event in which people brought fresh fruits to the Temple in celebration of the holiday.
When the Temple was destroyed in the year 70, rabbis connected the Jewish holiday to the Revelation at Mount Sinai, when God gave Moses and the Jewish people the Ten Commandments. Today, Shavuot celebrates God’s gift of the Ten Commandments and the Torah to the Jewish people.
You can be sure that the meaning of the holiday is drilled into every Jew from childhood. If you come across a Jew who does not know the meaning of Shavuot, please let me know by sending me an email. However, things are different when it comes to knowing the reason for eating dairy on Shavuot.
Every holiday comes with its tradition and symbolic food: Fried foods at Hanukkah for remembrance of the miracle of the small amount of oil for lighting the lamp that lasted eight days, unleavened bread at Passover for the remembrance of how the Jews left Egypt in haste with no time for the bread to rise.
Shavuot is no different; it has its own tradition. But why dairy dishes on Shavuot? That’s exactly the part that many people do not know the answer, including myself. This year I finally took the time to research the subject.
Surprisingly, I found several very different explanations for my question. Hence, I picked the one that appealed to me the most; A concept thought to be related to Shir HaShirim (The Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon) explains the reason for dairy products during Shavuot. One line of this poem reads, “Honey and milk are under your tongue,” a concept believed to compare the Torah to the sweetness and nourishment of milk and honey. The Torah is likened to milk, as the verse says, “Like honey and milk, [the Torah] lies under your tongue” (Song of Songs 4:11). Just as milk sustains the human body (a concept portrayed most clearly by nursing babies), so too the Torah provides spiritual nourishment for the human soul.
Sounds to me like a good excuse to go back to my kitchen, and get ready for Shavuot. I’m thinking cheesecake….my favorite one…. And to make it more special I’ll share it with you.
For the Crust
3oz Butter, let sit on counter for 30 minutes
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup all purpose flour
1 egg yolk, reserving the white
Pre-heat oven to 350F. In the meantime combine all ingredients in a bowl using your hands to form smooth dough. Spray the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan with cooking spray and spread the dough evenly on the bottom. I find it more delicate if the crust is very thin.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
For the Cake
16oz cream cheese, let sit on counter for 30 minutes
6 egg yolks, reserving the white
2 tbsp. of potato flour (Bob’s Red Mill works well)
¾ cup granulated sugar
2oz butter, let sit on counter for 30 minutes
8oz sour cream
7 egg whites (reserved from earlier)
½ cup granulated sugar
In a mixer combine first 5 ingredients and mix well until no lumps remain.
In a clean mixing bowl beat the 7 egg whites for 1 minute and gradually add ½ cup sugar. Continue beating for at least 5 minutes or until mixture is firm and can hold its shape. If you turn the bowl upside down and nothing spills out you have done a good job.
Fold the 2 mixtures together until mixed evenly. Pour mixture over crust and use a spatula to level the top. Bake in 350F for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave for another 15 minutes. Open the oven door, pull the oven rack out slightly and let the cake cool down for another 30 minutes.
For the Topping
16oz sour cream
½ cup granulated sugar
Whisk ingredients together until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth and shinny. Pour the mixture on top of cake. Refrigerate cake for 12 hours prior to cutting.
Strawberry Sauce - Optional
1 16oz bag of frozen strawberries
½ cup granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Drizzle on cake upon serving.