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Joey’s Holiday Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting!

Friday, December 20th, 2013

Our friend Joey is a most excellent chef! Here’s a great holiday cake recipe from him. Go ahead!  Indulge! – R. Tirella

Holiday Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger …  1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 sticks (1/2 pound) of butter unsalted room temp
1 cup granulated sugar 1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup milk or cream or buttermilk for a denser cake

Frosting
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. molasses (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 and butter and flour 2- 9 inch pans (or whatever pan you decide – bunt is always fun too).

Sift the cake flour, salt and baking soda together with all the dry spices.

In a separate bowl add butter and whip until smooth add sugar and vanilla and mix well for a few minutes to aerate the mix, add eggs one at a time and mix, then add molasses last. Add some flour mixture, then some of the milk alternately, ending until well mixed and smooth (do not overbeat) pour into prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes until brown and cake springs back when you lightly press it.

Let cool for 1/2 hour then remove from pans to cool completely.

For the frosting mix the butter and cream cheese together add the sugar and then the vanilla and molasses. Frost according to the cake style your created – for a layer cake spread frosting on one layer and top with the other layer frost the top and then the sides.

Animal Times: Winter pet safety

Monday, December 9th, 2013

By Deb Young

The winter season brings many occasions to celebrate and enjoy the snowy
weather.

However, it is also a time for heightened pet safety with the introduction
of seasonal plants, foods and cold weather products.

Various forms including baking chocolate Chocolate contains caffeine-like
substances, and in some forms, a high amount of fat as well. Depending on
the amount ingested, chocolate can potentially cause vomiting, increased
thirst and urination, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate and
seizures – and can even be lethal in large enough doses.

Preservative for the tree may contain fertilizers, which, if ingested, can
upset the stomach. Stagnant tree water can be breeding grounds for bacteria,
which can also lead to vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

While decorations aren’t directly toxic, ribbon and tinsel can cause
gastrointestinal blockage that can be life-threatening to pets. Ornaments
can be broken or swallowed whole.

Holly, Mistletoe, Lilies and Poinsettia can be particularly harmful to your
pet. Eating Holly could produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. If
a dog or cat eats Mistletoe, gastrointestinal upset and possibly even
cardiovascular problems could result.

Pets should not be given holiday leftovers and garbage should be kept in an
area inaccessible to animals. Poultry bones can splinter and cause damage or
blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. Spicy or fatty foods can cause
stomach upset and could possibly lead to inflammation of the pancreas.
Additionally, moldy or spoiled foods could produce food poisoning, tremors
or seizures.

Ingestions of grapes and raisins have been associated with acute kidney
failure in dogs. Some dogs initially develop vomiting and begin drinking
large amounts of water, then subsequently develop diarrhea and
life-threatening kidney failure.

Antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol are highly toxic and can
produce life-threatening kidney damage, even in small amounts. For example,
just one tablespoon of 50-50 diluted antifreeze can be lethal to a 10-pound
cat, and as little as 4 ounces in a 20-pound dog could be fatal. Many
windshield washer products contain methanol, which if ingested can cause
drooling, vomiting, drunkenness and severe central nervous system
depression. Ice melt products may contain ingredients that can be very
irritating to the skin and gastrointestinal tract, and could also
potentially result in more severe effects including depression, weakness,
disorientation, low blood pressure, cardiac problems, seizures, coma and
even death depending on the type of ice melt and circumstances of exposure.

A few more things to remember:

Keep your pets warm and indoors. As always cats should stay inside. Since
cats left outdoors may stay warm in car wheel wells or under hoods, you
should awake any sleeping animals by rapping on your car hood before
starting the engine.

Trips outside should remain short during the winter months. While dogs need
outdoor exercise, lengthy walks can prove harmful especially when wind chill
is a factor.

Dogs should remain leashed and supervised when outdoors throughout the year.
However in the winter do not bring them near bodies of water even if they
appear frozen.

Shorthaired dogs and clipped breeds should be dressed in protective
clothing.

Wipe off your dog’s foot pads and stomach fur after returning from the
outdoors.

Outdoor shelters for pets should be dry, secure from wind and only large
enough for them to stand up, turn around and lie down. The shelter floor
should also be elevated from ground level and have dry bedding. A steady
water supply should be provided in plastic bowls and checked on so that it
does not freeze.

Pets that spend a greater amount of time outdoors also require more food.

Keeping the family pet safe during the holidays is simple if you plan ahead.

Holiday story #2

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

By Ron O’Clair

My earliest recollections of Christmas are happy ones. As a child, anticipating the coming of Santa Claus was a wonderful thing. Like most children, I truly believed there was a Santa Claus and wrote my letters to Santa asking for any number of the toys that were popular that particular year. Of course, I asked for a lot more than I received, believing in my heart that I was worthy due to my having been a good boy during the year.

It was an age of innocence that gradually changed over the years into a realization that my parents, relations and friends were the true source of the gifts that I had received that Christmas. Perhaps the best gift of all was getting to spend time together as a family celebrating the holiday season.

I say that because there were two Christmas’s that I did not get to spend at home while growing up during the time I actually still believed in Santa Claus. One Christmas was spent here in the city on Caro Street with foster parents while my mother was hospitalized and my father could not care for the younger children, myself, and my brother Donald who is two years older than me. I remember that I got a motorized Fire engine that year with working lights and siren, ladders, and all of the various firefighting equipment. That gift came from the social worker who was handling our case. It may have come from the T&G Santa through the social worker, but I seem to remember that the social worker was involved in the giving of the gift. It helped to take my mind off the heartache of missing my parents that year.

Another Christmas, the very next one I believe came when my brother Donald and I were again separated from our parents. My father had driven the two of us up to Maine to live with my father’s sister, my Aunt Edna and her children. Other than the usual clothes, the only gift that I can remember for sure that year was a bubble bath dispenser shaped like an animal that had a long neck on the plastic bottle, but it was not a giraffe, I think it was a cat. What I really wanted that Christmas was for my parents to be together and come for me to take me home to Massachusetts. Click to continue »

Holiday story #1

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

By Sue Moynagh

I really don’t have a particular Christmas story that stands out in my memory. Rather it is the anticipation of Christmas that I remember well; the sights, smells and sounds that surround the time before Christmas that made and makes even now, the holiday special to me.

Christmas season began right after Thanksgiving for those of us who grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. As we waited for the first snowfall (at least the children did), we began to prepare for the big day ahead. Children scouted the toy sections of stores and eagerly viewed television commercials for gift ideas. Lists were carefully drawn up and given to parents. Visions of sleds, ice skates, Barbie dolls and all the latest games and toys filled our heads and hopes. There were no computer games back then, but we had dolls that walked, talked, grew hair, cried and peed! There were little ovens that actually baked! Boys had airplane and ship models, cap guns, erector sets, electric trains and GI Joes. I loved the paint- by- number sets, clay and mosaic kits and imagined myself a budding artist. Imagination was a must to have fun.

Shopping for loved ones was an endeavor that required planning as well. Will mom like this perfume? Hope so, I bought the biggest bottle I could find! What do you get for the nun who taught at school? Usually handkerchiefs and hand lotion. Many schools had Christmas gift swaps where you picked a name and got something for that person. I never knew what to get. My tastes were radically different from my class mates. The fun was in the hunt for the best gift at the cheapest price.

School was bustling with activity in preparation for Christmas. I attended St. Casimir Catholic parochial school on Waverly Street. At least once a week, we had a period during which we made a variety of art projects with the holiday theme. Snowflakes were cut out to decorate the windows, Nativity scenes were made with cut- outs from old greeting cards, pie plates and whipped- up Ivory Snow, and trees were made from peppermint candy and Styrofoam cones. We sang Christmas songs, of course, and as a special treat, we went to the Church hall to watch movies and load up on sweets. Most important of all, we learned the spiritual meaning of Christmas. The Catholic sisters made sure we heard the story of Christ’s birth, and often a Nativity scene was put up in class to remind us what this day was truly about. Of course, we were counting the days until school vacation. Over a week off!

Most families found their way downtown for their shopping and fun. Downtown was a radically different world at Christmas season. Picture throngs of people walking from store to store. Stores had window displays that drew admirers and made shopping a part of the festivities. The city was ablaze with colored lights. Click to continue »

School Daze …

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Public Information:

Worcester Public Schools 2011 – 2012 School Year and Days Off/Holidays
STUDENTS REPORT FOR SCHOOL AS FOLLOWS:

PRE-SCHOOLS
PRE-SCHOOL STUDENTS will report on September 6, 2011, as stated in the individual notification letter sent to parents.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS will begin school on September 6, 2011. The Worcester Public Schools will be screening Kindergarten children by appointment on August 31st, September 1st and September 2nd. If your child does not have an appointment for screening, contact the school your child is registered at after August 22nd.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
STARTING DATE: August 31, 2011 – Grades 1-6
(all students)

MIDDLE SCHOOLS
STARTING DATE: August 31, 2011 – Grades 7 &8
(all students)

HIGH SCHOOLS
STARTING DATE: August 31, 2011 – Grades 9-12 (all students) Click to continue »