Tag Archives: holidays

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

April and the Christmas mouse

The only mouse my April will ever catch!  This mouse sings a Christmas tune in a squeaky cutesy voice when you press his paw. He belonged to my late mom. He was her fave Christmas decoration.  When little kids would visit her during the holidays, she’d give them an apple, an orange, a little doll or plastic toy, a one dollar bill from her little brown leather change purse … and then she’d place soldier mouse on her lap and tell the little kid to squeeze his paw. Soldier mouse would sing. The little kid’s face would light up. My mom’s face would light up. Since Ma died, I never press his paw. … I don’t even remember the Christmas song he used to sing.   –  R. Tirella CAM01155

Worried about holiday weight gain? Go vegan!

By Heather Moore

‘Tis the season when people really pack on the pounds. So it’s a good thing that researchers at the University of South Carolina (USC) have just announced the most effective way to lose weight.

After comparing five common diets, the researchers concluded that people who stick to vegan foods tend to lose more weight than people who eat animal-based foods. This isn’t a holiday surprise to me — I’ve lost about 30 excess pounds since I started eating healthy (and tasty) vegan foods — but it certainly makes me merry. It’s always helpful when scientific research reaffirms the benefits of a plant-based diet.

The researchers placed overweight volunteer dieters into five groups —omnivores, semi-vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, vegetarians and vegans. Those in the omnivorous group were permitted to eat whatever they wanted. Those in the semi-vegetarian group were instructed to eat some meat, and those in the pesco-vegetarian group were allowed to eat fish but no other meat. The vegetarian group was instructed to refrain from eating meat but could eat eggs and dairy products, and the vegan group was told to eat only plant-based foods. None of the groups was asked to count calories, and everyone was given access to support groups, educational information and recipes.

By the end of the six-month study, the people in the vegan group had lost an average of 16.5 pounds each, more than those in any other group.

This is probably because vegan foods tend to be low in calories and saturated fat. In fact, the folks in the vegan group reportedly did reduce their fat and saturated-fat intake more than the people in the pesco-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian and omnivore groups did. Research shows that vegans generally have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than both vegetarians and meat-eaters and that the average vegan is 18 percent leaner than his or her meat-eating counterpart.

Many vegan foods are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, which help boost your metabolism so you can burn more calories. The lead author of the USC study revealed that the study’s vegan diet was high in carbohydrates and that the results of the study should help convince “carb-phobic” people that they can enjoy pasta, rice and other grains and still lose weight.

However, if they’re also chowing down on cheeseburgers or even turkey slices, fish filets, Greek yogurt or grilled chicken, their weight will reflect this. Chicken flesh, for example, is 23 percent fat, even when the skin and dark meat are removed and a fat-free cooking method is used. More than half of the calories in a 3.5-ounce serving of chicken come from fat—almost as many as in a same-sized portion of broiled lean flank steak. Even so-called “low-fat” dairy products are relatively full of fat and cholesterol compared to most plant foods.

We should all try to make healthier choices. Obesity is a growing problem, and scientists suspect that the obesity rates in many U.S. states are even higher than we thought. A new report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that obesity’s global economic impact is $2 trillion a year. We need to get our girth under control.

So this year, when you’re standing in front of the food table at the office holiday party, or when you’re making your New Year’s resolutions, remember that while Santa’s belly is supposed to shake like a bowl full of jelly, our bellies are not. We can stay slim during the holidays and beyond by being smart about what we eat and choosing vegan.

In 1967, around Christmas time …

… I saw Disney’s JUNGLE BOOK. Fell in love with the music. As did my kid sisters. In no time at all we got our mother to buy us the album, which we promptly proceeded to play to death on our portable record player. Here’s my fave song from the movie, which I watched last night (have the video. knew all the words!).
– R.T.


For the holidays, Part 2! 8 Ways to Have a Vegan Hanukkah Celebration!


Hanukkah is the festival of lights, and it’s also a festival of oil. For this holiday, Jews celebrate the miracle of a tiny bit of oil lasting eight long nights with family gatherings, food, and games. Observers whip up dishes such as potato pancakes and jelly donuts and play dreidel, spinning for a handful of gelt.

Get into the Hanukkah sprit with the following delicious vegan dishes and cruelty-free holiday gift ideas:

Devour Jelly Donuts

Actor and mother Mayim Bialik has the perfect egg-free recipe for you.

Jelly Donuts

Prepare Egg-Free Potato Pancakes

You can go with a classic savory latke, or make sweet potato latkes for a fun twist—egg-free, of course! Serve your latkes with applesauce and store-bought dairy-free sour cream, or make your own.


Give Guilt-Free Gelt

Let the kiddos spin the dreidel and enjoy these dairy-free chocolate treats as prizes or gifts.

Vegan Chocolate Gelt for Hanukkuh

Read more: http://www.peta.org/living/other/vegan-hanukkah/#ixzz3Lay0ugnC

My holiday wishes for Mother Earth

By Parlee Jones

Our planet, our Mother Earth has sustained us for many, many moons. All she asks in return is the same thing we all ask for and need, knowledge, wisdom and understanding, freedom, justice and equality, food, clothing and shelter, love, peace and happiness for all of her children. Those that walk on two legs, those that walk on four. Those who live in the water and those that walk on land. Respect for her body. Her land, her water, her valleys and mountains. Her rich resources.

My wish for Mother Earth this holiday season is for her to have a senses cleansing. For what she sees, smells, feels, hears and tastes at times is sweet and good, but much too often, it has been bitter, harsh, hard to swallow. Some folks have been sensing this bitterness for many years.

Mother Earth has seen her babies suffer all over. The United Nations Children’s Fund calls 2014 a devastating year for children, reporting that as many as 15 million young people are caught in conflicts in the Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Ukraine.

There are more than 1.7 million  child refugees  from the conflict in Syria. In the Central African Republic, as many as 10,000 children are believed to have been recruited by armed groups in the past year.

“Children have been killed while studying in the classroom and while sleeping in their beds,” says UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “They have been orphaned, kidnapped, tortured, recruited, raped and even sold as slaves.” (Statistics from UNICEF report).

Mother Earth has been smelling the fires burning in her forests. The continued stench of polluted waters. The never ending reek of animals killed for sport and to be worn by people who do not respect their furs and skins. Typhoons, earthquakes, floods, snowstorms. Global warming is real and it is serious. The continuous takeover of land that belongs to animals that are disappearing at such a rate that they will be extinct before our grandchildren are old enough to truly see them. This makes our Mother Earth cry.

She is feeling the pain of the continuous loss of life at the hands of those that are supposed to protect and serve. Understanding that all lives matters (yes, we acknowledge that white folks and other people of color are being murdered also), but right now, we’re focused on the Black ones, because it is very apparent that our judicial system doesn’t know that Black Lives Matter

When the entire world watches a murder take place on a Staten Island street corner and the system says no indictment, it’s a problem.

I am gratified that Worcester has started these hard conversations. The protests and rallies against the unjust and unprosecuted murders of men of color at the hands of police officers, namely Michael Brown, Eric Garner and now 12 year old Tamir Rice (and there are many others before and since) have been eye openers for the Worcester Community. Our youth are leading the way. I was humbled and honored to be a witness to the Walk-Out on Monday, 12/1 when we met with students from Clark University, Worcester State University, Holy Cross, UMass Medical and Burncoat at The Mosaic Cultural Complex. Holy Cross came down off the hill! Yes!!!

The conversation called for by the young women of color was honey for my soul.

The hard realization that white privilege is not to be taken personally and we are all needed to point out and change the injustices in all of our Systems (judicial, academic, government, etc.). The enthusiasm and willingness to fight for change among all the attendees, young and old, black and white, reminded me that, we as a people, all of us, have the power to bring about change. It has happened before. It may happen slowly, but it is happening.

She hears families crying out because they are hungry. They are in need of affordable, safe housing. They are homeless. They are unemployed and need help. She hears mother’s weeping because her sons are dying in useless wars. She hears young girls saying no, and not being heard. She hears our prayers, she hears our prayers, she hears our prayers … Our prayers, hopes and wishes for Mother Earth…

Deb Powers ~ Compassionate justice and loving fellowship for all. Everything else grows from these.

Mike Yvanauskas ~ Peace n goodwill

Diamond Wallace ~ Awareness…

Deb Galanos ~ Healing of hearts

Tammie Smith ~ I’m praying for equality. Let everyone be themselves and love them for who they are. Peace. Let’s get together and be alright. Laughter. Cause if you cannot laugh you have to be miserable.

Doreen Samuels ~ Peace, Love and Unity to all mankind. Jamaica Motto. Out of Many One People.

Susan Callahan ~ Peace love and a miracle for all those in need of one.

Audrey White ~ Peace on earth and goodwill toward all humankind.

Jason ‘Iwitness’ Rondeau ~ True democracy and justice. Seek Jah first and everything will come after.

Amy Grassette ~ Kindness.

Keesha LaTulippe ~ Understanding.

Etel Capacchione ~ Fellowship

Jesse Leidel ~ diamonds… all the diamonds in the world. So I can hold them before everyone and shout redemption for their blood soaked dullness and then give control of sale back to the people who harvested them from the earth.

Lisa Johnson ~ No fighting stay positive.

Gizel Hampton ~ Wisdom

Benetta Pearson Kuffour ~ Peace and understanding.

Denischa Lee Briddell ~ Sigh I’ve got many. The heartache of losing my beloved Daddy, to continue to be healed. I want to see the heroin addictions being healed.

Benetta Pearson Kuffour ~ Also, a roof over people’s head and food in their belly. So much in this world is happening that is negative, we are missing the good.

James Martin ~ Truth, because they say the truth shall set you free!

Stephanie Grady ~ Self-awareness and personal growth for everyone. When we are self-aware we can be more aware of what we do to ourselves and others. Peace on Earth would be a reality, not just a slogan or song lyric. Blessed Be.
Mother Earth can taste the change that will come. The change that will come when we realize that we belong to each other. The change that will come when we “eventually come to understand that love heals everything and love is all there is.”

Starting with myself, I have realized that we have to love one another. And I strive every day to do just that. Understanding that at times, I may have to love you from a distance. But when I love you as myself, I know and understand that you need the same things I need. Basic human needs.

So, while you are sharing this holiday season with your families and friends, I ask you please to keep Mother Earth in your prayers and meditations.

I am sending you thoughts of love and light as my gift to you all.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very merry holiday season!

Peace and Blessings to you and yours!

Keeping animals safe during the holidays



  • Keep tinsel, ribbons, and ornament hooks away from prying paws. If you see ribbon or tinsel hanging from your animal’s mouth, call the veterinarian, pronto. Never pull it out—it can cut their intestines.
  • Make sure that guests and kids don’t share unapproved holiday treats with animals. Chocolate and some nuts are toxic to dogs, and even seemingly harmless foods such as onions, raisins, and grapes can cause severe reactions in dogs and cats.
  • Plants such as holly, mistletoe, and lilies are pretty to look at, but they can make animals sick or even kill them if eaten. Keep plants well out of animals’ reach—or better yet, choose other types of plants.
  • The comings and goings of guests provide opportunities for animals to slip out of the house. Have your animals microchipped (at your veterinarian’s office or an animal shelter), and make sure that they wear collars and I.D. tags while guests are in the house, just in case.
  • Save the phone numbers of your veterinarian and the nearest emergency vet in your cell phone so that you’re always prepared for unexpected mishaps.
  • Holidays can be hectic, but be sure not to overlook your animal companions’ needs for regular walks and playtime.
  • Share the holiday spirit of giving with your animals by getting them a dog or cat gift set — they also make great stocking stuffers for the other animals in your life.

Happy holidays to you and your furry friends!

Read more: http://www.peta.org/blog/keeping-animals-safe-holidays/#ixzz3LMijwbJ7