Tag Archives: holidays

The changing meaning of Thanksgiving

By Gordon Davis

Like everything else, Thanksgiving changes; nothing on Earth stays the same forever.

The traditional history of Thanksgiving is that of the English Pilgrims migrating to America and landing at Plymouth on December 11, 1621. During that winter the Pilgrims or Puritans lost 46 of their party of 102. The others would have perished, too, if the Native Indians did not have pity on them. They provided the Puritans with corn and other food stuffs.  With the help of the Native Indians, the Puritans learned to farm and had a bountiful harvest in 1622. There was a celebration of bounty that Fall.

In 1676 Thanksgiving changed. Charlestown, Massachusetts proclaimed a Thanksgiving for the victory over the “heathen” Indians. This was the end of the King Phillip War in which the town of Quinsigamond, now know as Worcester, was burned to the ground. The Colonialists from Massachusetts and Connecticut killed most of the Native Indian children at Turner Falls in Massachusetts.

The Revolutionary War found Thanksgiving changing once again. This time in October 1777 there was celebration of the Colonialists’ victory over the Imperialist British at the Battle of Saratoga. All 13 Colonies participated.

George Washington proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789. Abraham Lincoln set the last Thursday of November as the date of celebration for the good fortune of the American Civil War. It was proclaimed to be a legal holiday in 1941 by Congress as the United States was entering World War II.

Besides the traditional and sometimes religious celebrations there is a new meaning: the Day of Mourning for the Native Indians who died due to imperialism and colonialism. This view of Thanksgiving is gaining acceptance, especially among the young.

When I think of Thanksgiving this year I think of my two friends Claire  and Scott Schaefer Duffy who have taken a vow of poverty. They live on less than $6,000 a year. Although they have their wants, as we all do, they live a good life. They make do by not living extravagantly and by socialization of needs. Essentially, they do without or they share resources with others.

Today might be the time for all of us to do the same. Conspicuous consumption has led to the development of a world economy that creates poverty, war, disruptions and the destructive forces of global warming and climate changes. There is a need to reduce our standard of living. Some of us will have to share a car or get on a bus. We will have to eat more locally grown food. We will have to share our work.

The point of no return might have already been passed in terms of climate change. When the ice of the polar caps melts, the temperature of the oceans will increase more rapidly than most of us can image.

This Thanksgiving I will be thankful to all of the people who have rejected the temptations of the profit-driven economy and conspicuous spending to live a life where human resources are more valuable than that which glitters. I am thankful for having a family and friends.

I will be thankful for being able to still write these words.

Did you know Billy, owner of the Broadway restaurant and catering, …

By Rosalie Tirella

… has been cooking the Thanksgiving dinners for Catholic Charities holiday meals for the elderly/disabled FOR ALMOST 15 YEARS?

That’s right! THOUSANDS OF MEALS! HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF FOOD PREP – HARD WORK AND HUSTLE IN THE HOT BROADWAY KITCHEN … FOR MORE THAN 15 YEARS. FOR FREE. VOLUNTEERING for Worcester. And Billy shuns the spotlight! Doesn’t want the recognition – just wants plenty of elbow room in the Broadway kitchen to prepare the hundreds of turkey meals for Worcester seniors, while his waitresses and cooks do the other work – serving the Broadway customers who come to this Worcester culinary landmark on 100 Water St. for the sweet ambiance as much as the amazing breakfasts, bottomless cups of coffee and homemade baked mac and cheese.

Billy is for family, church, friendship, silly jokes, smiles, bantering with customers, rescuing dogs …

Jett loves visiting the Broadway where the waitresses sneak him strips of bacon when Rosalie isn’t looking!

… talking city politics with city pols!, giving the poor kids sitting at his counter big $2.50 homemade Broadway ice cream cones for a buck cuz that’s what the kids put down on his counter, while twirling around on those red vinyl Broadway seats and chatting Billy up. Everyone is smiling and laughing … Billy especially!

BILLY IS THE BEST! He is the best of what Worcester once stood for and still stands for in many quarters. Not the fake gentrifiers who use social media to catapult themselves into a kind of fake prominence with their mostly fake friends … and cheat along the way, ever so skillfully. They’re an affront to the Green Island that so many of us remember and love – the Green Island that was all about authenticity, modesty, being so good, so true outside the limelight for your neighborhood, for your city, for your husband or wife, for your kids. You just did a good thing. Period.

Thanksgiving time the Broadway is for remembering Worcester’s poor, Worcester’s forgotten – frail old folks who won’t be able to cook their own Thanksgiving feast and may not be going out to celebrate with family – or even have family with whom to break holiday bread.

Every year Billy and his family fill the gap! They get the call from the Bishop, and Billy and the wonderful Broadway folks step up and volunteer.

The Broadway is located at 100 Water St., Worcester!

Every year about this time, if you walk into the Broadway, you’ll see Billy and his wife Betsy and their staff (most of them with the Broadway for years) running all around the big yet cozy kitchen pulling scores of basted and baked turkeys out of huge shiny silver ovens, with long doors, carving the turkeys up, spooning mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and veggies into the aluminum trays that scores of Elder Services of Worcester County volunteers will deliver to Worcester seniors. And the seniors get gravy … and dessert! Billy is focused, running up the tile floor to fetch a huge pot, a helper is stirring the gravy, big ladles and spoons are dipped into big pots and pans, the prep table in the center of the kitchen is overflowing with all things good and tasty … the place smells like heaven. After all, it’s the Bishop who provides the birds! But Billy provides everything else: the sides, the cooking, the work (all those pots, pans and utensils to wash!) Most of all, BEST OF ALL … THE LOVE.

Thanks, Billy!

Looking good, downtown Worcester!

As we tooled around the city Sunday, we caught these great holiday lamppost lights going up all along our grey Main Street. Yipee! Downtown Worcester needs a little Christmas – NOW!

Go, downtown Woo, go!

text+pics: R. Tirella



This holiday season keep in mind: There’s no such thing as humanely raised meat

By Dan Paden

Just how humane is “humanely raised” meat?
If you’ve been to a natural foods store or upscale restaurant lately, you’ve likely seen signs proclaiming that at least some of the meat came from “humanely raised” animals.

But what exactly does that mean? As a new PETA investigation has found, “humane meat” labels are often worth less than the recycled paper they’re printed on.
This summer, a PETA eyewitness worked at a Pennsylvania farm that claims to produce “humanely raised pork” and is a supplier to Whole Foods.

The farm is certified as a “Step 2” pig farm by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP), a group spearheaded by Whole Foods with the goal of “improving animal welfare,” and is ranked higher and considered more animal-friendly than the majority of GAP-certified pig farms.
If you’re envisioning bucolic scenes with lush pastures, in which animals roam freely and breathe fresh air, think again.
Far from being free-roaming, the pigs on this farm spent almost all their time crammed into crowded sheds on concrete flooring. They never even touched the farm’s lush green grass, and the only time they were ever outside was when they were trucked from one shed to another, put on a scale to be weighed or sent to slaughter. Some pigs were kept in virtual darkness deep inside a barn.
Pigs had straw in the sheds, as required by GAP standards, but little other “enrichment.” Even though GAP requires that pigs’ “thermal comfort” be maintained at all times, on hot days, hundreds of pigs had access to a single water sprinkler.
On one day when the heat index exceeded 90°F, more than 20 pigs were tightly packed into a metal trailer more than 24 hours before they were hauled to slaughter—just because the manager didn’t want to wait another day to pull straw out of a pen. They had no choice but to stand or sit on top of each other for much of that time. On another day, several pigs were left on a trailer with no protection from heavy rain and approximately 60 mph winds.
Whole Foods’ standards require that sick or injured pigs be promptly euthanized if necessary, but PETA’s eyewitness saw obviously sick and injured pigs’ condition worsen for days or even weeks.

If a veterinarian did provide these animals with care, the observer never saw it, despite more than two months of working full-time at the farm. One pig ran an intermittent fever for about a month before finally being shot in the head and killed.

Another pig whose apparent neurological ailments caused her to go lame was left for eight days until she, too, was shot. Other pigs with grotesque rectal prolapses—as large as an orange and dripping with blood—were allowed to suffer in that condition without adequate care for up to 24 days.
The eyewitness documented the actions of a manager on the farm who grabbed and lifted pigs weighing over 70 pounds by their sensitive ears in order to vaccinate them. The manager also hit pigs being loaded for slaughter with a hard plastic board. Agitated, frustrated pigs bit each other’s tails, sometimes causing bloody wounds.
It’s understandable that consumers want to avoid supporting cruelty to animals when they shop, but it’s time for us to admit that “humane meat” is an oxymoron. Sparing animals some marginal cruelty in factory-farm practices is not the same thing as being “humane,” and it never will be. Even on farms that follow “humane”-certification standards to the letter, animals may still be castrated, branded and dehorned without painkillers; starve and become dehydrated because of lameness; be held in intensive confinement in unnatural conditions; and end up being scalded to death.
The only “humane meat” is vegan meat, which you can find in any well-stocked supermarket — including Whole Foods.

GO, JOE! Chef Joey is in France … then cooking at a hotel in Italia, but first visiting family …

… for whom he’s made some rose hips jelly! – R.T.

ICT_Yum Yums-edited
Chef Joey gardens in Worcester, too!

Roll with the jelly!

Text, photos and recipe by Chef Joey

Well, I am away in Europe this week visiting my parents in France. I was helping my father do fall clean up … we gardened some …

Grapes ready for the picking

… and what do I do but stumble upon rose hips in the garden…


I quickly rinse them and trim the ends to boil them for an hour to make a jelly. 



Their benefits include vitamin C, and they are great for joint ailments and gout! The fall grape harvesting is going on and wine is being made as you read this … Who says Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year?! Enough “Wining”! I will be travelling to Italy Monday to a local farmers market, so expect to see many many pictures of beautiful fruits and vegetables.

Since I have been here, I’ve made:

an Arabic dish with Harisa potato hash and lamb sausages…

Tonight I will be making a garlic, parsley and tomato dish called Ailo Olio (garlic and oil) that dates back to the Roman times for my Dad. 

The best part about Europe is artificial ingredients are forbidden! The French government in particular has a ban on any foods made with growth hormones and, recently, Nestle products were banned, as they had too much fat content! They have since corrected the problem and candy is back in style, as it is the #1 gift in France to give at the holidays as a hostess gift.



Check out this tower of chocolates!


Stay tuned for a Yum Yums column, with some easy Italian vegetarian dishes for you to make!

But for now:

Rose Hips Jelly

Take rose hips, preferably a cup

Clean the ends off and boil for an hour in about 3 cups water until soft

¼ cup lemon juice
½ package pectin
tablespoon butter
2 cups sugar

Clean the ends off the rose hips and boil for an hour, until soft.


Mash. When cool, strain the mixture with a fine sieve of cheese cloth – make sure you get all the liquid – at least a cup or one cup and ½. 

Transfer to a pot and add the lemon juice and pectin. Bring to a boil. Add the sugar and boil until dissolved. 


Add the butter and stir until thick and bubbly. Pour into a sterilized glass container and let it cool.


Refrigerate and enjoy! (To keep it loneger follow the directions on your canning jars.)

The big turkey-“gobbling” (up) holidays are here! Save a bird! Save your waistline and heart! Go veggie this holiday season!

Paul McCartney became a vegan after he met the lovely Linda Eastman. They married, gave birth to WINGS, children and not a few veggie cookbooks! Their daughter Stella is an internationally feted fashion designer. Every piece of clothing, every shoe, sandal, purse she designs is 100% vegan – no animals killed to make her fashion.

Paul has been collaborating with PETA for years.  Learn from the cutest Beatle!

Want to speak out for turkeys, like Paul? PETA says: “Wear this “Eat No Turkey” T-shirt while you go vegan this holiday season.” (to order your T-shirt, click on blue text!)

– R.  Tirella

FROM PETA.ORG (click on blue text for more info!):

Thanksgiving is a time for family, gratitude, and, of course, food! This Thanksgiving, Paul McCartney is urging you to say “no, thanks” to turkey and “yes” to a delicious, cruelty-free holiday meal.

Paul is no stranger to the world of meat-free meals—his powerful narration of PETA’s “Glass Walls” video illustrates his notion that “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”

Like chickens, the 300 million turkeys raised and killed for their flesh every year in the United States have no federal legal protection.

More than 45 million turkeys are killed each year at Thanksgiving alone, and more than 22 million die at Christmas.

Speak out for turkeys this Thanksgiving and Christmas!

(And definitely don’t eat them! – R.T.)

InCity Yum Yums by Chef Joey


Chef Joey: Gorgeous! And talented, too!  He loves to hear you’re trying his recipes! Any recipe/story ideas? Comments? Please email them to Chef Joey, care of incitytimes@hotmailcom

Holiday column: SUGAR PLUMS!

By Chef Joey

‘Twas the issue before Christmas and all through the city, people were waiting to read my latest ditty.  The juries were hung in the courthouse; who cares?! While many others took elevators and didn’t use the stairs! … I could go on rhyming, but I don’t have “A Christmas Carol” to write for my children, just an interesting article about the holidays. So, let’s start with the music then move on to the food:

Google tells me that the Christmas hymns that we know have origins dating back to the fourth century Rome. Latin hymns such as Veniredemptor gentium, written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, were theological statements. Corde natus ex Parentis (Of the Father’s love begotten) by the Spanish poet Prudentius (d. 413) is still sung in some churches today! Thousands of years and no royalties!
In the ninth and tenth centuries, the Christmas “Sequence” or “Prose” was introduced in North European monasteries.  They developed a sequence of rhymed stanzas with the guidance of Bernard of Clairvaux. Leave it to the French!  The French took it up a notch in the twelfth century with Adam of St. Victor, a Parisian monk, deriving music from popular songs, creating what is now closer to traditional Christmas carols.
In the thirteenth century, in France, Germany, and mostly Italy, a strong tradition of popular Christmas songs in the native language developed under the influence of Francis of Assisi (yes the Patron Saint of Animals!). Christmas carols in English first appear in a 1426 work of John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain, who lists twenty five “caroles of Cristemas,” probably sung by groups of ‘wassailers’, who went from house to house.

Ok, let’s stop at WASSAILERS!  The word actually has two categories!  One means people that go door to door singing Christmas songs and the other stands for: the ones who went to the English Apple Orchards and sang to the trees so they would produce a good cider!  Ironically, Hard Cider is in vogue in the USA while still popular in Europe.

So in sum, the songs we know specifically as carols were originally communal songs sung during celebrations like harvest tide as well as Christmas. It was only later that carols were sung in church and were specifically associated with Christmas.

So that moves me up to Christmas! Songs like “Jingle Bells”: Written in America – right here in Medford, Massachusetts!  James Lord Pierpont came up with the song and published it under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh” in the autumn of 1857. Even though it is now associated with Christmas and holiday season, it was actually written for Thanksgiving.  Apparently, Thanksgiving snow is popular.  And the term “Jingle Bells” came to be because there were many sleighs, and putting bells on horses was the only way they could avoid collisions, since there were no other external noises like Pandora or sirens!

The song “Jingle Bells” was often used as a drinking song at parties: people would jingle the ice in their glasses as they sung. The double-meaning of “upsot” was thought humorous, and a sleigh ride gave an unescorted couple a rare chance to be together, unchaperoned, in distant woods or fields, with all the opportunities that afforded. Sleigh rides were the nineteenth-century equivalent of taking a girl to a drive-in movie theatre in the 1950s and early 1960s, so there was a somewhat suggestive and scintillating aspect to the song that is often now unrecognized.  Thought you might like to know that and now you too can bear my curse of the song.

I could continue about Christmas songs, but this is a food column. So let’s move on to traditional food and the fun “Puddings” and “Cakes” talked about by authors over the years.

Christmas pudding has its origins in medieval England and is sometimes known as plum pudding or Christmas Pudding or just “pud,” though this can also refer to other kinds of “boiled pudding” involving dried fruit. Despite the name “plum pudding,” the pudding contains no actual plums due to the pre-Victorian use of the word “plums” as a term for raisins. The pudding is composed of many dried fruits held together by egg and suet, sometimes moistened by corn syrup or molasses and flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and other spices. The pudding is aged for a month or even a year; the high alcohol content of the pudding prevents it from spoiling during this time.  No wonder it was so popular – flammable dinners!

What we know about the current story telling Puddings is they took their present day form in Victorian England. The pudding’s origins can be traced back to the 1420s, to two sources. It was as a way of preserving meat at the end of the season. Because of shortages of hays or grains, all excess livestock were slaughtered in the fall. The meat was then kept in a storage container along with dried fruits acting as a preservative. The resultant large “mince pies” could then be used to feed hosts of people, particularly during the festive season.

The chief ancestor of the modern pudding, however, was the pottage, a meat and vegetable concoction originating in Roman times. This was prepared in a large cauldron, the ingredients being slow cooked, with dried fruits, sugar and spices added. In the 15th century, Plum pottage was a sloppy mix of meat, vegetables and fruit served at the beginning of a meal.  So there you have it “Christmas Pudding” unmasked.

So instead of sugar plums dancing in your head…make some! They are an easy and a great alternative to making cookies as there is no baking and it’s fast and easy – and can be served immediately! They last for about a month when stored in a Zip-lock plastic bag or other container.

Here is a simple and fast way to make a new Christmas tradition for your family.



• 6 ounces slivered almonds, toasted
• 4 ounces dried plums
• 4 ounces dried apricots
• 4 ounces dried figs
• 1/4 cup powdered sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, toasted
• 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted
• 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
• Pinch kosher salt
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1 cup coarse sugar

Place the figs, almonds, apricots, and plums into a food processorand pulse up to 25 times or until the fruit and nuts are chopped into small pieces, but before the mixture becomes a solid mass.

Combine the powdered sugar, cardamom, and all the seeds and salt in a medium mixing bowl.

Add the nut and fruit mixture and the honey and mix – preferably wearing gloves until well combined.

Use a small scoop and form the mixture into 1/4-ounce portions and roll into balls.

If serving immediately, roll in the coarse sugar and serve. If not serving immediately, put the balls on a cookie cooling rack and leave uncovered until ready to serve.

Roll in the coarse sugar prior to serving.

I hope all your dreams come true this holiday season! Remember: the little things can make the biggest impact!

Best wishes to all of you!

InCity Yum Yums: Get creative with those leftovers!

CAM00454 Chef Joey can make mundane leftovers  … yummy!

By Chef Joey

Here’s that awkward period between holidays – kids home, shorter work week, lingering merriment, tighter waistbands … . But the show must go on! We are conditioned to have a good time regardless. Many people have “left overs” from holiday feasts … why not try something new with all that extra food?

I call this recipe: “Empty the Fridge Burritos”!

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 red or white onion

4 spring onions, chopped

1 pound mixed vegetables of your choice (we used carrots, red pepper and sweetcorn)

½ pound leftover chicken, ham, beef or pork, chopped into small chunks

1 pound cooked rice

1 can red kidney beans in chili sauce

1 avocado, chopped

6 large wraps

½ cup grated cheddar cheese

1 egg, beaten

Sour cream, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan.

Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft, then add your chosen veggies and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes or until tender.

Add the leftover meat, the rice and beans, along with the sauce from the can.

Stir everything together and cook for 5 minutes until piping hot.

Heat another frying pan or a griddle pan, until hot, and heat oven to 350

2. Now assemble the burritos.

Warm a wrap for 10 seconds on the hot pan (keep the pan hot, you’ll need to use it again).

Pile roughly a sixth of the rice mixture onto the center of the wrap.

Top with a little avocado and some cheese, then brush beaten egg around the edge.

Fold the ends over the filling, then fold in the sides, like an envelope.

Flatten a little to a parcel, then place, seam-side down, in the hot pan.

Cook for 2 minutes until the underside has sealed shut and is toasted a golden brown. Flip over and cook for a few minutes more.

Keep the burrito warm in the oven while you continue assembling and cooking the remaining burritos.

Serve with sour cream.

Here is another quickie!  It takes 10 minutes to prep and an hour to cook – “Turkey Cacciatore!”

2 small or 1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning

3 x cans chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

1 tbsp sugar

little splash of vinegar

about 500 g leftover turkey, shredded into chunks

1 x 125 g balls mozzarella cheese

2 good handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil until softened.

Add the tomatoes and sugar, a little splash of vinegar and oregano, then simmer for 20 minutes until really thick.

Stir in the turkey and transfer to a baking dish.

Heat oven to 375.

Tear over the mozzarella in chunks, then scatter over the breadcrumbs with a bit more ground pepper.

Bake for 20 minutes until turkey is piping hot through and the top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with pasta, mashed or baked potato, or even rice.

Moral of this holiday story: Anything can be turned into a delicious dinner with a little creativity!

And whatever you decide to do with your leftovers, be thankful that you have them! And, finally – every experiment this holiday season can turn into next year’s family tradition!

Head over to the Worcester Historical Museum to see these Worcester holiday postcards …

… and more! Exhibits, photos, books, memorabilia, craft classes for kids, a cool Worcester-themed gift shop. … It’s all about Worcester!

Worcester Historical Museum

Open Tuesday – Sunday

Elm Street, Worcester

For more info, call them at (508) 753-8278

Here are some of their Worcester Whitney Postcards … You can see them at the museum.

But first a brief history of this Worcester company …

The publishing company was founded by Civil War veteran George Whitney in his hometown of Worcester.

Beginning at the turn of the century and continuing up to about 1920, the Whitney Company manufactured greeting cards, children’s books, souvenir postcards, paper toys and novelties of every description .

Originally a stationary store founded by George C. Whitney, they became an important publisher and printer of holiday cards including postcards. Whitney installed embossing and paper lace making machinery in his factory so he could manufacture all of his card’s components in the United States. They also manufactured many mechanical cards.

During the heyday of the picture postcard fad in America, from about 1904 to 1917, the Whitney Company was a major presence, printing and selling several hundred designs for all holidays.

girls in bed for christmas-1

greetings 2-1

a little girl going down steps and seeing presents-1

kids in snowsuits throwing snow balls

children looking for santa-1

Whitney Postcard 2