Category Archives: Green Island Grrrl

Sunday wrap-up starring Mass. Farm to School … Sunny Funnies … and more

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pics: R.T.

Come celebrate Massachusetts Farm to School Month!

Join us at our First Farm to School Awareness Day at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, October 26, at 11 a.m!

Join fellow farm to school advocates and partners from around the Commonwealth to celebrate all things farm to school.

This day will be a great opportunity to meet with your legislators (make an appointment!) and share the exciting farm to school activities happening in your community, as well as visit with other farm to school organizations, and congratulate this year’s Kale Blazer Award recipient.

Speaking Program:

At 11 a.m. we will hear from a few of the key farm to school supporters on how farm to school is currently impacting their area of work.

Speakers include:

Senator Anne Gobi, Chair, Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture (and 2016 Kale Blazer award winner)

Representative Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the House

Commissioner John Lebeaux, MA Dept of Agricultural Resources

Rob Leshin, Director, Office of Food and Nutrition Services, MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education

Erin Healy, Farm to School Director, USDA

2017 Kale Blazer Award Winner (to be announced)

Planning to Attend?

The event is open to everyone.

Meeting with Your Legislator:

Let you local Representative and Senator know about the great farm to school activity taking place in their district. Show them how these programs are promoting student and community healthy and local economic development.

Share Your Community’s Story!

We will also provide you with materials to capture your thoughts about farm to school, as well as the thoughts of your students for you to share with your legislators.

…You can order our “Farm to School is important to me because …” postcards. Please email dena@massfarmtoschool.org (20 max. per order please).

You can deliver these to your legislators either by mail, or in person during Farm to School Awareness Day!

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Pear
Produce of the Month: PEARS!!!

Recipe from the Lowell Public Schools!

Pear Ginger Parfait

Ingredients:

2 lbs of Pears
1 cup of Orange Juice
1 TB of Ground Cinnamon
1 TB of Ground Ginger
Steps

Pear Compote:

Add pears, orange juice, ginger, and cinnamon to a pot
Simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes

Set aside, let cool
Once cool, puree

Building the Parfait:

Place 4oz vanilla yogurt in a 9oz cup
Add 2 TB of pear compote
Add 1/4 cup blueberries
Add 1 oz granola

To visit the MASS. FARM TO SCHOOL website and learn more CLICK HERE!

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Imalay parked in Rose’s space: Back to School – the Hustle and Bustle!

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Imalay, left, and her mom and little girl.

By Imalay Guzman

The best season has finally arrived, with crispy cool air and warm afternoons! Fall season is everyone’s favorite; from adding layers to your wardrobe and preparing for back to school, it can be both exciting and oh so dreadful!

Parents who enroll their kids in school can relate to the hustle and bustle. It’s dreadful because of all the work that needs to be put in, but once the mayhem is over, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment.

As a mother, I like to shop early for back-to-school supplies and clothing because that way I find things I need without any hectic wardrobe issues. However, many people wait for the back-to-school sales to hit so they can get more for their money. From school supplies, clothing and shoes, shopping in one store is impossible. The more kids you have, the more running around you have to do. It’s all about the prices and the convenience of the store.

The hardest part of the shopping is trying to meet everyone’s sense of style. My children each like different things and dress differently. My oldest daughter likes for me to dress her the way I would dress myself; on the other hand, my son wants anything and everything that has to do with super heroes!

All of the back and forth from store to store gets aggravating and tiring, but in the long run it’s worth seeing how happy your kids are. Knowing they will be neatly put together for their first day of school gives them a boost in their self-esteem. As a parent, making sure my child has the proper school material is essential. I want to make sure they are prepared for school. If they are prepared, then the school year should ultimately be successful.

The back-to-school routine can be more than running around shopping. It has a lot to do with sitting down and having very important conversations with our children, which can help them during the school year. For this generation, before you send your kid to school there has to be several talks, talks that vary between ages. If your children are going into elementary school, the bully talk needs to happen. They might be young and you may think they don’t understand – they completely do. Making sure they don’t become victims to bullies and knowing how to identify when someone is bullying them is so important.

If your child is attending middle school, the sex talk is practically mandatory. Teens as young as 13 are already having sex nowadays. Another good thing to talk about is peer pressure and safe sex — a must. It can be difficult to imagine having this talk with your child who you view so innocently, but with the way upcoming generations are growing up, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The truth is it’s best to try and have an open line of communication with your kids. That way they feel comfortable coming to you for help whenever anything happens to them. There are a lot of kids who don’t feel comfortable speaking to their parents and close themselves up, which is something no good parent likes seeing their child go through. Try to be understanding because we were all young and dumb at some point. The way we learn in life is through our mistakes.

Let your child develop the way you would’ve liked to have been given the chance to grow, while being the adult they need, as well.

Edith parked in Rose’s space! Back in school – and what’s new now?

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It’s back to school time! photos by Imalay Guzman

Back in School – and What’s New Now?

By Edith Morgan

Now that parents are breathing a sigh of relief, and children are firmly ensconced in their respective schools, we can all breathe out and get onto other things. How about a little reminiscing? We all know the jokes about grandparents telling their grandchildren that they walked miles uphill through wind and snow, and if you’re old enough, maybe there are tales about having to sweep out the one-room schoolhouse, bringing in the wood for the pot-bellied stove, and sharing slates, books and notebooks with younger children. The whole idea is to share how MUCH schooling has changed in the last few decades, and still is changing constantly.

Not all the changes are for the best – the incessant drilling to learn useless stuff to answer inane questions on standardized tests so that schools, children and teachers can be rated and berated, for rather murky reasons, for the benefit of people who have ulterior motives – all that time and expense could be better spent on meaningful testing to improve or correct learnings. But that is a topic for another time …

At this point, we need to look at how far we have come from the one-size fits all model of yore and how much closer we are to tailoring the school so that EVERY student can learn and achieve his/her highest potential.

We breathed a sigh of relief this year, as the WPS teachers’ contract was ratified, and our busses also started out on time. Now we can concentrate on our students and meet their needs.

It is no longer true (generally, anyway) that the child has to be ready for school. We have gradually, little by little, moved over to a philosophy that the school needs to be ready for the student, at whatever level he/she comes to us. Worcester has made giant steps in that direction.
We have just opened a new, state-of-the-art elementary school at Nelson Place; we have gradually replaced or refurbished many older buildings, and are planning constantly for newer, better buildings.

And while great new buildings with many facilities are a big help, there are many things that our schools are now offering to students that were strictly the responsibility of parents or neighborhoods. Research has shown us that children need certain minimal supports to be able to take advantage of all that is offered to them so they can succeed. We can no longer assume that there is a level playing field out there and that every child has access to a good breakfast, clean clothes and a quiet, stress-free place to study. Children who have all these things can profit from all that the school curriculum and the teachers offer.

But over the years, teachers and principals have noticed children who come to school tired, bedraggled, worried and hungry.

Of course, there have been the critics who say that it is not the job of the school to remedy these deficiencies. But the cost of ignoring these problems was/is too great, and the waste of potential too costly for us to wait for others to take up the slack.

So, in a number of instances, schools have stepped in to properly equip our children to be really ready to learn. We have, in addition to lunch programs (some at reduced price, some free), we also have some breakfast programs where needed; several of our Worcester high schools have food pantries, where students can take home extra (donated) food – and some take bags to get through the weekend for their families. “Andy’s Attic” at South High School is just one example of how schools see that our students have appropriate clothing (we all can probably remember how painful it was to be improperly dressed and suffering the taunts of fellow students). Not all our students come from homes that have washers and dryers, and sometimes they have to wear the same soiled outfits for days. So our schools are trying to help by installing washers and dryers in selected schools – like those at Worcester East Middle School.

I applaud these additions, as they enable students to be comfortable, clean, and accepted by their peers.

Of course, a sick child also is really handicapped as far as learning: if you hurt, feel awful, or are otherwise not running on all cylinders, much of your time in class is wasted. So our schools have a health clinic where most needed.

Finally, now that we are doing many things to be sure that all our children are in school ready to learn what we believe they should know, we can fully concentrate on the main purpose of education. And there is much to be done yet in the area of curriculum, if we really mean to turn out mature, thinking individuals who can succeed in a rapidly changing society.

There has been much lamenting about the fact that we do not read books like we once did. And while our many gadgets require some ability to read and spell, they do not require the ability to really delve deeply or sustain attention page after page. But even there, with the competition from the electronic media, great efforts are being made to put books into the hands of our children. We are, after all, “The City that Reads” – and Worcester School Committee member and former Belmont Community School principal John Monfredo and his wife Anne Marie, a former Nelson Place Elementary School teacher, have for years collected children’s books and put them into the hands of our students. Every year they collect tens of thousands of children’s books and distribute them to Worcester kids, especially those from poor families.

And, finally, we are very fortunate that we have a school superintendent who has been involved in these ventures, supports those who create new opportunities for our children, and always looks for ways to be sure that every child has the opportunity to realize his/her full potential.

With a local election on the horizon, we can show up to vote for school committee members who best exemplify the goals I have described above!

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Go, WPS students, go!!

Taking a knee …

By Rosalie Tirella

When NFL players began “taking the knee” during the National Anthem before their football games – broadcast on TV and sundry media before millions of folks – to protest police killings of unarmed Black men – What gets me, said a pal, is when they just keep pumping bullets into the guy! – I immediately thought of my late Mom. …

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photos: R.T.

Unlike her sports-oblivious (yawn) daughter, my pretty little Ma was a lifelong, rabid classic New England sports fan: the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics – she adored them all. In her “golden years,” she watched all the games on TV, her teams’ schedules (home and away) printed on the back of little Dunkin Donut wallet cards, parked right next to her rosary on her TV table.

Ma was obsessed with her sports teams! She prayed for them! She cheered them on, as she watched their games on her old Zenith, hollering in her teeny studio apartment in the seniors housing complex: GO!!!!! GO!!! And she would shout YESS!! in delight when her boys hit that ball over the Green Monster or made that Hail Mary Pass. She’d walk right up to her TV set, in one of her flower-covered Building 19 dusters I had bought for her, whistling her approval and  “blessing” herself in thanks to God – making the sign of the cross, just like she did in church or when, in my childhood, in our kitchen, kneeling on one of our old ugly green wooden kitchen chairs – the ones that gave me “slivers” –  before her big Infant of Prague statue in its big glass case (now in my kitchen!) …

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… In thanks. To honor God for that home run or that amazing Tom Brady! Acknowledging God for the wind that caught that ball just right and set it sailing into the sun or the magical swivel of a sinewy or chunky! hitter’s hips.

Sometimes, when visiting Ma mid-game!, I’d see many of the Black football and baseball players, blessing themselves, too, just like Ma. Or even kneeling. Right after they did something grand on the field. Thanking God for their little miracle, just like Ma had thanked Him! Feeling the same happy feelings as Ma had felt! So  grateful – and humble. For the smooth glove or solid trusty bat God had given them or maybe just the day itself: warm, crisp, cool, sunny or drizzling… Nature was God, too.

Tiny old Ma, old school religious to her core (but cool and liberal like Jesus would be today) and the big mountain players were simpatico. She’d say to me, smiling: See, my Rosalie?! See him bless himself! If the hit or touch down won the game, Ma would walk up to her TV set in her big white walking shoes that all the old people wear and kiss her index and middle fingers and touch the player on the TV screen and make a blessing over him and then walk back to her easy chair.

Voodoo. Momma love!!

Lots of the NFL players came/come from backgrounds similar to Ma’s: Poor,  up against it all, strong church backgrounds, resilient church lady mothers or grandmas raising/teaching them, single parent homes, a belief in a real, human-like God who sits with the angels on puffy cumulous clouds in a real Heaven dispensing his favors, rewarding those who acknowledge His omnipotence: people like Ma and  the Black football players.

So when the NFL players took the knee during the National Anthem, I knew Ma would understand – and approve. Maybe even going up to her TV and taking the knee with them. The guys were not committing blasphemy, hating America, as stupid demagogue Donald Trump bellowed before a WHITE ALABAMA crowd, during a campaign rally where he threw good men, Ma, prayer, grace and America under the bus.  For votes. Nope, the NFL players were honoring God, their country and asking America and God, in the best way they knew how: WHY?????????

Chef Joey parked in Rose’s space …

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Chef Joey to the culinary rescue!

Economical eating!

Text, recipes and photos by Chef Joey

Quiches are an easy and economical dinner or lunch, with a healthy salad. It all comes together in under an hour!

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Chef Joey makes sure his Gigi, right, eats super healthy! Tasty, healthful meals and desserts can be a reality for all families, including the working poor.

I like to use a sheet of puff pastry for the crust. You can use a regular pie crust and skip the pre-cook part. However, it helps keep the crust drier and less soggy.

Basically, take the puff pastry (thaw it first, if frozen), dust your pie plate and roll out the dough.

Place in a pie pan that has been dusted with flour and trim.

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Chef Joey’s latest little rescue!

Use a fork and prick several holes in the dough.

Cover the crust center with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with a bag of baking beans (dried beans that you use over and over – about 80 cents a bag). Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Remove it from the oven, remove the beans and seal them in an air-tight jar.

Remove the parchment.

You now have a quiche-ready crust!

Another way to make smaller quiches is the same step, except you take a cupcake container with 6 or 8 crusts depending on the size, perfect for a family or luncheon or a weeks’ worth of quiches. And you can make each one different!

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Chef Joey’s Abby gets homemade dog treats!

Asparagus Quiche

½ pound of asparagus, trimmed (basically snap off the bottom white section)

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

3 eggs

½ cup cream

2/3 cup milk

Salt and pepper

All-purpose flour for dusting

Cook the asparagus in salted boiling water for about 20 minutes until tender.

Drain the water, then cut into bite sized pieces, leaving the tip whole.

Turn your oven up to 400 degrees, place the asparagus evenly inside the pie crust, top with the cheese.

In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk and cream.

Season with salt and pepper and pour carefully into the pie crust.

Some people like to add a pinch of nutmeg for additional flavor.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm.

You can basically make any kind of quiche by placing whatever you want onto the precooked crust: smoked salmon, mushrooms, broccoli –
whatever!

Yummy Veggie Casserole!!

One last recipe for you. It is so easy, especially with summer veggies, and you can modify it each time by adding additional herbs.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup uncooked long grain white rice (or brown or wild rice works too)

2/3 cup water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/2 pounds zucchini or summer squash or both, cubed

1 cup sliced scallions

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt

5 or 6 basil leaves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon oregano – fresh is best

1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes – plum are best or minis cut in half

2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese – divided

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 1 ½ quart casserole dish and set aside. Cook the rice in the water, bring to a boil and simmer covered. If using brown or whole grain follow the package directions.

In the meantime, in a sautee pan, add everything from the oil to the paprika. Sautee 5 minutes.

Add the rest and 1 cup of the cheese.

Place into the casserole dish and cover with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until hot.

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Autumn road trip?

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No thanks, we’re homebodies…

Thursday wrap-up, starring Dorrie!

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Dorrie’s kitty luxuriating…
pic: D.M.

Fall Musings

By Dorrie Maynard

Autumn will be officially here tomorrow, even though, as most of we New Englanders know, it could still be hot and steamy in October – or it might just be snowing! Either way, New England weather is always something that people like to talk about and have a common interest in, especially when it comes to excessive heat or lots of snow!

I always look forward to the fall: I love the cool breeze, my wind chimes chiming away on my back porch, and putting on sweats when coming in from being outdoors. I keep my windows open as long as possible and always keep the one behind my bed open year round, if only a crack. We can never get too much fresh air!

The smell of fires burning in fireplaces/fire pits and picking out a pumpkin are all things I look forward to in autumn. Oh, and I can’t forget the changing of the leaves, mother nature’s way of displaying beautiful colors on your basic green leaves.

On one of my journey’s to Vermont in the fall, I saw a bus load of Asian people stop at a bridge and take photos of the water and the leaves, and when I had some Asian college students stay with me, they were so excited to see the colors in the leaves. It never occurred to me that some people have never had the NE experience! I guess growing up in Rochester, New York, and living on Lake Ontario has made me a lover of the seasonal changes and all its glory – the good and the bad!

There are many folks I know who look forward to heading South before the cold and snow start flying around here. I just could never live some place where the seasons didn’t change and you have to live in air conditioning year round. People who know me well, know that I am so not a lover of the heat and humidity. Give me a cool, breezy day and I am happy as clam! Throw me a hot and humid day and I feel like the wicked witch of OZ, “melting away!”

I guess if you decide to stick out the seasonal changes of NE, whether you love it or hate it, you own it! NE has so much to offer when it comes to the weather! And like I always hear: if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute – it will change! Rain, hail, snow, sleet, hot, humid, thunder showers and lighting – it is all just nature’s way of keeping us all connected!

Stay happy, friends;

Comments or questions can be directed to djmbytheelm@aol.com

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FYI:

Smile:

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Rose in Piedmont, yesterday: She had a doctor’s appointment at Family Health Center, on Queen Street…
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pics: Rose T.

… and saw this Father and Son walking home after their visit to Family Health. Their love for each other overwhelmed Rose! The little boy curious and cute! The man protective and proud of his son.

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And the day before she spotted one of the infamous yellow bikes in the ‘hood.

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Utilitarian and decorative! She wishes they came with bike helmets – Woo drivers are the worst!

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Rose lovin’ her music:
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So beautiful:

Rose delivering CECELIA and enjoying diverse Worcester!

…Coolio!!!

City leaders MUST WORK TO INCLUDE AND PROMOTE ALL FOLKS of ALL COLORS, ALL BACKGROUNDS in the new Worcester. In our city schools, libraries, housing, big and small biz …

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Rose, yesterday, before heading out to deliver CECELIA. pics: Rose T.

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Jett wanted to be our cover boy!

DIVERSITY!!!!

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Afro-sporting kids are the latest – they can be spotted all over Worcester! Here, in Vernon Hill, Viviane looks so beautiful!

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Here’s a kid riding by Worcester City Hall. Dig his Afro!
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Joey’s Gigi trying on a potential Halloween costume! Go, Princess Gigi! Go, Papa Joey!!
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Go, Boa and SEAC, go!
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Then there’s the old Polish guy who lives next door to Rose. No matter how crazy the ‘hood gets, he is always sweeping his little corner of lower Vernon Hill and planting pretty things. He doesn’t speak much English but knows beauty:
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Rose is heartbroken: downtown’s gorgeous Notre Dame church slated to be demolished …
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But she is still excited for her city, being reborn every day…
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CECELIA columnist, Imalay Guzman, left, and her Mom and babe…photo: I.G.

Saturday wrap-up, starring Imalay!

Like Mother, Like Daughter

By Imalay Guzman

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Imalay, right, and her mom and children

Growing up in a big family and being the only girl was difficult. I am the fourth child out of six – and the only girl! Considering that my mother was accustomed to all her boys, raising a girl was confusing. I have always been emotional and awkward. When it came to talking to my mom I always wrote her letters of explanations of how I felt and slid them under her bedroom door!

My mother and I have a unique relationship. It hasn’t always been that way, but over the course of time it gradually changed. Hard to accept that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! I’m glad that our relationship has matured to the point of having open conversations: we have our disagreements but respect our differences. Although my life choices haven’t always been the best, my mother always supported me and advised me of the consequences.

One thing that my mother and I always connected over was cooking. My best memories are in the kitchen with her and my brothers. It’s a tradition! All my brothers and I can cook a good-tasting meal. All in the grace of my momma and the talks that we had when we sat down to eat dinner. All I remember is the laughter and different stories of how everyone’s day had gone. On occasion we have potlucks challenging my mother’s original recipes, which is fun, but no one can do it like my Momma!

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Imalay, her mom and daughter

Now that I have children of my own, I can totally understand why she was the way she was during my childhood. I admire and respect her so much. So I do as much as I can to help. I am simply grateful for her. I know it wasn’t easy to raise six children on her own. It takes hard work to be a mother of that many children! She is prepared for anything, one of the many great qualities I inherited from her — besides the cooking skills.

Here’s a recipe for you:

A traditional dessert after a home cooked Puerto Rican meal is “flan.’’ It is a sweetened egg custard with a caramel topping, an open, tart-like pastry, which my mother makes.

She also makes it calibrated – mixing it with cake and calling it “Flancocho.” A recipe I will gladly share with you:

“Flancocho”

To make a small sized flancocho, gather:

Eggs (6)

Evaporated milk (1)

Condensed milk (1)

Vanilla cake (½ box)

Vanilla (3 tsp.)

Sugar (1 cup)

First step is preparing the cake mix. (Use only half a box.) For a larger Flancocho, double the ingredients listed.

Next, you’re going to mix the eggs with the evaporated and condensed milk and 3 tsp. of vanilla flavoring.

The next step is a little more complicated because we’re going to melt sugar to preciseness: heat and stir 1 cup of sugar on a stove top until it turns to what looks like dark, liquified caramel.

Using a baking pan of your choosing, you are going to put the ingredients into this exact layered order:

The caramel goes first, then the flan mix and lastly the cake mix.

Then, you’re going to put the baking pan inside of a bigger and deeper baking pan full of water while trying not to mix the three mixtures of layers – which are very sensitive.

The baking pan full of water allows the mixture to bake without sticking.

Lastly, bake at 350 for an hour.

This is an amazing dish! And it’s even more special when it’s passed down from generation to generation – for example, my mom to me. Sharing similar interests in cooking made it possible for our relationship to grow and progress, making it easy to keep an open line of communication.

This recipe can be used for any occasion. You can make it for yourself or for your family. …

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Imalay’s family = love!

Either way I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. This recipe can be difficult to perfect, but if you manage to successfully prepare it, be ready to add it to your favorites! Always remember that food is love – especially when you share it!

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FYI:

Clark University to host award-winning author for lecture on tyranny, Sept. 25

Leading American historian and author Timothy Snyder will give a lecture on the topic of his latest book, “On Tyranny: Lessons from the Twentieth Century” at 5 p.m. Monday, September 25, in Room 320 of Jefferson Academic Center at Clark University, 950 Main St.

This lecture is part of the Harrington Public Affairs Lecture Series.

It is free and open to the public.

Snyder is an expert on tyranny and has written at length about fascism, communism, and the Holocaust. His six award-winning books include “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin” and “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.” The Guardian states that his latest book is “The perfect clear-eyed antidote to Trump’s deliberate philistinism” and that it provides “a brief primer in every important thing we might have learned from the history of the last century, and all that we appear to have forgotten.”

Snyder is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University and holds a permanent fellowship at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship.

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Rose immersing herself in the boss…She forgot how great he is!

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pic: R.T.

The WPD and dogs on the roof … and … Kate in Rose’s space … The new Worcester Dog Park in Vernon Hill park: a review

From Rose:

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See? Two little black poodle dogs on the pitched roof. Thrown out last night on that pitched roof! It’s the white building on the corner of Ward and Richland streets! Before St. Mary’s school. Right outside Rose’s window!

Rose has freaked! She has called the police 10 times! And the city animal control dept.-dog officers. She has told authorities: The little dogs were put out the window! They are barking, begging to come into the apt! There is no fence. They run to the end of the pitched roof yelping. They will slip,tumble off and die!

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The WPD sent Police Officer Vegas to the scene last night.

He did nothing.

The dogs are still slip sliding on the pitched roof – crying.

What a loser police department we’re saddled with…Cops so unwilling to truly engage with the community…educate, illuminate …The WPD dispatchers so nonchalant, uncaring, unhelpful. …

Kudos to the State Police dispatchers – they were compassionate when Rose called – they tried to be helpful!

text+pics: Rosalie Tirella

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THE NEW WORCESTER DOG PARK IN VERNON HILL PARK: A REVIEW

By Kate Grady

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Yay!! photos by Kate Grady

On August 21 Worcester opened up its first ever off leash dog park at Vernon Hill Park. I visited the park, without a dog, Tuesday afternoon. It’s located on 400 Providence St. It was quiet while dog owners were taking advantage of the last summer days and a little late summer sun.

Walking up to the fenced in area, three dogs alternated running the perimeter of the space and digging large holes in the dirt patches.

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Planted on the side of the hill next to the playground, the playing canines were the only indicators of the dog park from a distance. Dog owners in the City of Worcester have high hopes for this new addition to Vernon Hill Park, providing a first-time opportunity for dogs to engage in off-leash play.

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I sat down at one of the two benches located by the entrance for the “Dogs under 30-lbs” side.

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While the bench provided comfortable supervision for humans, the lack of shade on an 80-degree day proved to be a bit too hot. Dog owner Jennifer, sitting next to me, agreed a canopy or some sort of tent to provide shade for such days is a necessary addition to the dog park.

Dirt dust clouds puffed at my feet around the body of her 5-month Pitbull mix, Alpha.

Following Alpha, another dog Bella, a 6-month old rat terrier mix, tumbled in front of her owner’s feet. “I’ve been here a couple of times, too,” said the pup owner. “I live right there. We walk here. I wish it was a little grassier. But I don’t have a backyard she can run around in.”

There was a small odor coming from the entrance of the gate.

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The dog lover added: “Maybe they could also change the trash. I don’t how often it’s changed.”

The trash barrel was full of garbage – up to its rim, beside of which there was an empty bag container for one of the three dog waste stations the City of Worcester provides for this site.

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Conveniently, Bella’s mom can walk her to the park. Pup owner Jennifer must take Alpha from Belmont Street, which is about a 10-minute drive.

Notably, the park is being used by residents from all parts of the Worcester. It appears that public knowledge of this new location is mainly circulated through Facebook and other social media platforms.

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The two fenced-in areas are separated by the weight of the dogs that come to the park. One side is meant for dogs under 30 lbs. and, the other side caters to larger dogs that weigh more than 30 lbs., in hopes of preventing any accidental injuries during play.

Even though large and small dogs are separated, incidents can still occur. “I had problems on the first day,” Jennifer said. “My dog got attacked, but I found the owner on Facebook. This is my third time here and it’s been great.”

Different ropes hung on the fence and water dishes sat in-front of them. “And people are nice,” Jennifer said. “They leave toys and water dishes behind for other dogs to use.”

It is surprising that there is no water source available to the dogs, while they are playing at the Park, even if there are available water dishes left behind to use.

While the site includes all the fundamental components of a dog park – fencing, double-gate system, benches, trash-cans and waste stations – dog owners feel as though a liite more is needed to make it a more suitable environment for their pets. However, in the meantime Worcester’s first dog park provides a safe space for people to socialize and excersise their dogs. The dogs love to play! Folks get to meet and make friends with fellow dog-lovers.

Cheers to our happy canine companions in Worcester!

Ron in Rose’s space … Politically speaking, Coreen Gaffney = bleh … and you ain’t gonna win if you don’t have the dough re mi

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Worcester politicians Coreen and Michael Gaffney are against a living wage for all workers and workers’ unions.    photo: Rose T.

By Ron O’Clair

My interests lie in the 700 Block of Main Street in Main South and the quality of life issues that affect the people who live and work in this area.

I have been a vocal advocate of citizen activism – and a neighborhood activist – for many years. I’ve worked with all of our District 4 city councilors since the late great D 4 Councilor Janice Nadeau. I worked especially closely with former District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller (and now Worcester Zoning Board of Appeals member). Barbara loved her job and  passionately  served the people.

I have come to work with our present D 4 city councilor – Sarai Rivera – on issues affecting MY District after a period of inititial dejection because she won the race against my favorite Worcester city councilor, Barbara Haller.

Now we have a challenger to the District 4 seat – Coreen Gaffney, wife of toxic Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney. Coreen comes with major political connections via marriage to Mike Gaffney, also head of the city Republican committee, and she has the silver spoon effect: plenty of money to spend to finance a decent battle for the District 4 seat. Her husband spent $40,000 of his own money in advertising to win his election two years ago.

Barbara Haller’s defeat came as a surprise to veteran councilor Haller and myself. I believe it was due in large part to Sarai garnering a substantial voter base of her own ethnic background, working with the get out the youth vote and registering many neighborhood voters who previously did not participate in city elections. It was a masterful piece of political saviness for a heretofore unknown politician.

Now many of you know that I ran for a Worcester city councilor at-large seat in the last election. What hampered me most, besides my relative obscurity as a political candidate, was the lack of a  nice little nest egg$$$ to buy airtime, campaign literature, mailings and the other gimicks that politicians use to get their message out to the voters in time for election.

I relied on my own record of service to the community and my obvious success in transforming the most blighted area of my District – the area around the former PIP wet homeless shelter – into a cleaner, safer and QUIETER place for my tenants and me here at 707 Main St. It’s a rooming house I have managed since June of 2003. I have actually resided here since July  1996 and have worked, as I say, with ALL of the DIstrict 4 Councilors, many city officials, the Worcester Police Department and WFD firemen and women. My issues, from years of living with and dealing with these challenges: grime, safety, the opioid crisis, the PIP, prostitution, noise…

I naively believed that my years of work in a very challenging part of the city, LIVING ACROSS from the PIP, the popular articles I wrote for over a decade for InCity Times would have been enough to show the voters my level of committment to District 4. I thought that perhaps the people who reside in my District would see that I was the RIGHT person.

Last election cycle when I ran for office I did manage to pull in 580 votes – so there were at least that many people who agreed with me. My years of work have paid a few dividends here in what was once the absolute most crime-infested spot in the City of Worcester.

The old WPD, under now retired Chief Gary J. Gemme, would have liked to contain all the nefariousness/crime in my immediate vicinity, which of course made it easier for them but very unfair for poor residents, biz folks, families, kids.

So now we have  Coreen Gaffney running against the indomitable spirit of Sarai Rivera because Mr. & Mrs. Gaffney have moved into MY district and think they are going to take credit for accomplishemnts that were the result of many years of hard fought battles beginning with William Breault and continuing with myself and many other people who worked tirelessly to put a clamp down on illegal behavior regarding illicit drug sales and prostitution in this Main South area that comprises District 4.

City Councilor at-Large Michael Gaffney and now Coreen Gaffney – who declined my request for an interview prior to my authoring this story – are the interlopers here.

They believe they have rights because they have begun a “beautification” project, cleaning local weeded sidewalks and picking up trash here and there. They think this is a new and novel approach! Ha!!!

Well, they aren’t doing anything new and special. We District 4 residents, business owners and volunteers have done all this many times in the past – to not too much in the way of success long-term, or appreciation in the near-term. I myself picked up litter on my Main Street 700 block for a number of years on end –  and got physically attacked while doing it. This happened more than once.

To me, Coreen Gaffney comes off as mini me carbon copy of her husband Michael Gaffney whose support of the offensive Turtle Boy blog belittles his very own constituency. This speaks volumes about his character as a city councilor.

That is why I urge my readers to consider carefully who they vote for in the mayoral race (Michael is running for mayor) and the District 4 race.

A vote for Coreen Gaffney would be a great disservice to District 4.

Re-electing D 4 incumbent Sarai Rivera would be a good thing.

That is as fair and impartial as I can be under the circumstances – Coreen refused to be interviewed by me.

Quite the snub from the little grub!