Tag Archives: useful

Great Travel Apps

whatsppI am a traveler.

It’s part of my identity.

It’s my passion

Outside of my family, I can’t think of anything I love more.

I am most alive when I am traveling.

To date, I’ve visited 57 countries, 47 states and every continent on earth. I’ve been a travel writer for years, although I do that on a smaller scale today. But I am constantly planning and researching travel and discovering new travel apps.

There are so many resources and apps that can make the journey more enjoyable and save you money. Here are some stellar travel related apps to consider that fit a variety of personalities and itineraries and offer a few travel tips, too. If you have other travel apps you love, please post them in the comments. I’d love to check it out.

General

If you’re flying anywhere, it’s a good idea to download the app for the airline you are traveling on and set up text alerts for delays.

If you’re a planner, then Tripit will be your friend. This app creates a master itinerary for your travel plans and suggests attractions and activities for your trip. You can check local maps, weather updates, and more. There’s an upgraded, paid version that includes features like flight status alerts. Basic service is free and available for most smart phones. www.tripit.com

No one knows a city like a local and that’s what makes Localeur such a cool app. It’s a community of local reviews for everything from restaurants to dance venues to attractions. Find the best whiskey bars in Austin or a great coffee shop in Denver. Free. Available for iPhone users. http://www.localeur.com

If you enjoy dining out, then BiteHunter is a great app to have. This real time location app will tell you where you can find a restaurant coupon or fixed price dinner. Be sure to read the fine print though because it gets deals from sites like Living Social, which can take 24 hours to become active, so if you’re only in the city for a night, you may miss the deal. Your first purchase may be time consuming, but the app will remember your information after that making it easier. Free and available for iPhones.  www.bitehunter.com

International

If you’re traveling overseas and want to avoid costly text messaging charges, download WhatsApp Messenger for free international texting. WhatsApp is a mobile messaging service owned by Facebook. Here’s they key, the app can only text other phones that have downloaded the app, so if you want to text friends or family members, they have to download it, too. It’s easy to use.  It just released a calling feature, but data charges may apply for the WhatsApp Calling feature. It’s available for most smart phones for free the first year (99 cents subsequent years). www.whatsapp.com

If you’re traveling overseas, the XE Currency App makes currency conversion a snap.  The app converts money from all over the world so you can easily understand the local currency. And the good news is it’s  Free. For iPhone, Android and Blackberry users. http://www.xe.com/apps/

Cruising

Cruise Ship Mate is a popular app because it covers all the major cruise ships and allows you to see a layout of the ship, deck maps, check the weather at your port, read different viewers, and more. It’s free and available for iPhone and Android. www.cruiseshipmate.com

Have you ever gotten to the end of a cruise and nearly had a heart attack when you got the final bill on disembarking day? There’s an app for that. To budget, and track the size of your bill as you go (including how fast those cocktails add up each day), download Cruise Card Control. It’s available for $2.99 for iPhones. www.cruisecardcontrol.com

For the Foodies

How often have you tasted a great wine on a trip and sworn that you will remember it, only to forget it by the time you get home? You need the Vivino app, which has so many cool features. It uses a photo label recognition system that can quickly bring up bring up information for a given wine, complete with reviews, ratings, and tasting notes. So the next time you travel, snap a photo of that great wine label and find it when you get home. This app is useful to any wine drinker, not just while traveling. Free. Available for Android and iPhone. www.vivino.com

There’s a saying that you eat with your eyes first. Well, that what makes the Foodspotting app so great. This app is a visual guide to food. There aren’t specific restaurant recommendations, but instead specific dishes are recommended.  Want to know who has great deep dish pizza in Chicago or another dish specific to a city? You will find it here. There are a variety of search mechanisms from neighborhood to category. It’s available for most smart phones. http://www.foodspotting.com

For the Road Tripper

The Gas Buddy app helps you save a dollar or two on your road trip because it allows you to locate gas stations near you and compare their prices. It’s free and available for most smart phones. www.gasbuddy.com

If you hate traffic and are traveling this summer, then the Waze app is a must. It’s advertised as largest community-based traffic and navigation app and it helps you avoid traffic, accidents, construction, speed traps, etc. Download the app, type in your destination and drive with the app open on your phone. You can contribute to it, too. Free. Available for most smart phones. https://www.waze.com/

One more note, open apps and GPS can quickly sap your battery, so invest in a car charger if you don’t have one.

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Celery Leaves have many uses. And what do you do when you over salt soup? Hump Day Hacks and Tips

It’s Wednesday, which I am calling  “Hump Day Hacks and Tips!” I am excited about this new feature on my blog that will appear every Wednesday.

Sometimes I share content I find, sometimes I share my own. Today, I share my own and I have two tips for you.

My parents used to live in the Dominican Republic and when I visited them (back in college), I discovered the beauty of celery leaves.

Most American cooks cut the leaves off and toss them– I used to do that–  but it’s a mistake. First, I am advocate of using as much of every food as possible. And second, the leaves are intensely flavorful and nutritious.

Celery leaves are high in iron, magnesium, and vitamins A and C.

In the Dominican, they used the leaves in marinades and that is a wonderful use, especially with chicken.

But I have lots of other ideas, too.

Celery leaves are great in stocks and broth. Because I have a ton of rotisserie chicken carcasses each week, I make my own stock. But on that rare occasion that I don’t, I still drop celery leaves, onions and bay leaves in commercial stock and boil for 10 minutes before I use the stock. I adds a lot of flavor. The more celery leaves, the better.

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Slice the leaves and use as substitute for parsley.

Toss chopped leaves into a salad to impart a celery flavor. It’s excellent. You can also add some to tuna salad or chicken salad. It adds extra flavor and nutrition. Mayo helps mellow out the celery leaf flavor.

salad

The leaves are excellent in homemade beans, both in the cooking process and sliced on top as a garnish.

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You can use them to garnish risotto or in rice pilaf or quinoa salad.

Use the leaves and a few stalks to infuse vodka for a fantastic Bloody Mary. Let’s see, it’s Wednesday, so go home tonight and add the leaves and stalks to vodka and Sunday morning, strain the vodka and enjoy a flavorful Bloody Mary. You can also add jalapenos if you like it hot.

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And save back a stem with some leaves on the top to garnish that Bloody Mary with olives. A thincelery stalk with leaves on top makes a great olive skewer.

Ok, I hope you never throw away celery leaves. There are too many reasons not to.

My second tip is a lot quicker.

I was at a friend’s house about a month ago and she over-salted her soup. I told her next time she does that, to place a few small potatoes or slice up a large potato, and put it in the broth as it cooks and the potato will extract some of the salt. You should peel the potato before you add them.

salt

You don’t want to cook the potato through and you may have to repeat the process, but it will help reduce the salt. Just think about how much salt potatoes need. It’s a great solution for over-salted stock.

That’s it for today. Join me all week for rotisserie chicken recipes and Hump Day Hacks and Tips on Wednesday.

I will start adding a weekly travel feature, too. I am thinking about Travel Tuesday or Travel Thursday. I have visited 57 countries, every continent and 45 states, so I have LOTS of travel tips and advice.

Thank you for reading today.

Don’t waste valuable orange zest

I am not talking about rotisserie chicken today. Instead, I am talking about orange zest.

How many times a week do you eat an orange or send one to school with your child? Well, if you’re not zesting that orange first, you’re wasting valuable nutrients and flavor.

Orange zest contains antioxidants and is versatile in so many recipes. Here are a few ideas on how to use it:

I add it to extra virgin olive oil to make salad dressing; add it to salad (it’s particularly good on spinach and arugula); use it on salmon (lemon zest, too); put it on my oatmeal with some cinnamon and dried blueberries or cranberries and walnuts; sprinkle it on toast with strawberry or raspberry jam; use it to infuse water; add it to cookies or breads; stir it into couscous or quinoa; or even add it to a smothered pork chop with cranberry sauce (see recipe below).

You will get a little less than 1 tablespoon of zest per orange, depending on the size, and that contains 14 percent of your recommended vitamin C intake. So you are literally tossing nutrients if you don’t use that peel.

For best results, zest an orange before you slice it. If you’re not going to eat the orange for a few hours, then wrap the orange in plastic wrap to protect it or it will start drying out. On that note, the peel does protect it, so don’t go crazy and zest citrus that you don’t plan to consume today.

I have a three pound bag of oranges on my table right now and that’s a lot of potential zest, flavor, and Vitamin C.

You can also freeze zest, too. I put it in a plastic baggie and pop it in the freezer, but only if I have several oranges worth in the bag.

Ok, have I convinced you to start using that orange peel? I hope so.

Here’s a super easy recipe: Salt and pepper your pork chops. Then toss in flour, seared in hot oil on each side and then add 1 can whole cranberry sauce, 1 teaspoon orange zest, ½ cup orange juice, 1 chopped garlic clove and cover with a lid and simmer on the stove for 10-25 minutes, depending on how thick your pork chops are.