Meals with Marge cover

Stop regretting the past and fearing the future. Today is all you have. Make the most of it. Make it worth remembering.

A few times each year I write about a book that I’ve read. I don’t do a review on every book I read, just the memorable ones.

Now I have to say, if you don’t read often or hardly at all, take the time to read this book. It is relatively short, 185 pages, and it is easy reading. Ask for it at your local library or buy it at a bookstore or on Amazon.

I rarely read a book more than once. After borrowing this book from the library, I ordered a copy of my own online, and just finished reading it for the second time. The book now has small pieces of paper sticking out of it to remind me of phrases and information I want to remember.

“Ikigai—The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,” written by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, is the name of this book that is a “must read.”

Ikigai is the art of staying young while growing old.

We ask ourselves things like: What is the meaning of life? Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life, while others are always looking but never find their passion and reason for living?

The Japanese translate this concept as the happiness of always being busy.

The authors go to the island of Okinawa, which is home to 24.55 people over the age of 100 for every 100,000 inhabitants—many more than the world average.

Ogimi, a rural town on the north end of the island, has a population of 3,000 and has the highest life expectancy in the world. It has earned the nickname as the Village of Longevity. People who study the inhabitants of this island believe that one of the keys to this longevity is a healthy diet, a simple life outdoors, green tea and the sub-tropical climate and the ikigai that shapes their lives.

The inhabitants of this area are very friendly, laugh and are happy. They have an uncommon joy. The Okinawans live by a principle that means “treat everyone like a brother even if you’ve never met them before.”

These people practice teamwork and are used to helping one another. They nurture friendship, eat light, get enough rest and partake in regular, moderate exercise. The heart of and main thing that inspires the people is their ikigai, their purpose in life. You may have ikigai and don’t realize it yet—reading this book might help you to find or recognize your ikigai.

I have a busy life that includes taking care of myself and my husband, and children when they were growing up. I couldn’t imagine leaving them with babysitters or daycare to raise them. I often say, I wonder how they would have grown up to be the adults they are if I weren’t there. I may have given up many material things in life by not working outside the home, but I have no regrets. When the children were older, I got my real estate license and began selling real estate. This was something I loved because I grew up with a father who built houses for his family, was a carpenter, and eventually sold real estate. Our life revolved around houses. Writing, and in particular writing this column for the last 15 years has become my ikigai.

You will discover that the purpose of this book is to bring you the secrets of Japan’s centenarians and give you the tools to find your own ikigai and everything you need to live a long and joyful journey through your life.

After spending 2-1/2 years in Okinawa, my husband, Stan, is waiting to read this book now that I have read it for the second time. I am excited to hear him tell me more about this island while reading about places he has been to and lived in.

Only staying active will make you want to live a hundred years.—Japanese proverb

You can prepare fresh applesauce by following this recipe.

Quick ‘n Easy Applesauce

Makes six servings, about ½ cup each

  • 2 lbs. apples, pared, cored and sliced
  • 1/3 cup water (or use apple cider instead, 105 calories per serving)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • optional—stir with cinnamon sticks

Bring water to boil; add apples. Cover and return to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Add sugar and mix thoroughly; chill. If you want a smoother sauce, mash the apples after adding sugar.

Breakfast Egg Muffins

Makes 8 servings

  • 16 slices Canadian bacon (or use regular bacon)
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (you could use regular table syrup)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 6 frozen fully cooked breakfast sausage links, thawed and finely chopped
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line each of 16 greased muffin cups with 1 slice of bacon, cutting to fit as needed; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. In another bowl, whisk the milk, eggs and syrup until blended. Add to flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Fold in the cheese, sausage, apple and cranberries. Let mixture rest 10 minutes. Divide batter among muffin cups, about ¼ cup batter per cup.

Bake muffins until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks; serve warm.

To freeze or microwave: Cool the baked egg muffins and place them on waxed paper-lined baking sheets; cover and freeze until firm. Transfer to a freezer container; return to freezer. To use, place in greased muffin pan. Cover loosely with foil and reheat in a 350 F oven until heated through.

Microwave each muffin, uncovered, on high until heated through, 30 to 60 seconds.

Pumpkin Bread

Makes 1 loaf


  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup mashed pumpkin

Sift together:

  • 1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar

Make well in flour mixture, add pumpkin mixture—stir until mixed.

If desired, stir in ¼ cup raisins or chocolate chips, ¼ cup chopped nuts.

Pour into greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 F for about 1 hour.

Enjoy the simple pleasures of life and, of course, eat well.

Call or email me with questions or comments. I can be reached at 920-980-3885 or email

Send your favorite recipes to be included in this column to me at The Sheboygan Sun, 606 Fremont St., Kiel, WI 53042. Please include your name and phone number in the event I have questions.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for taking part in our commenting section. We want this platform to be a safe and inclusive community where you can freely share ideas and opinions. Comments that are racist, hateful, sexist or attack others won’t be allowed. Just keep it clean. Do these things or you could be banned:

• Don’t name-call and attack other commenters. If you’d be in hot water for saying it in public, then don’t say it here.

• Don’t spam us.

• Don’t attack our journalists.

Let’s make this a platform that is educational, enjoyable and insightful.

Email questions to

Share your opinion


Join the conversation

Recommended for you