Tag Archives: InCity Yum Yums

Chef Joey in Rose’s space … Supa Zupa!🎸

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Soup’s on!

Text, photos and recipes by Chef Joey

SOUP!

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Soup (and photo) by Chef Joey!

Ok, why is society so hooked on “ON SALE” items that are mostly GMO-filled atrocities? We have the simplest ingredients that are so natural and INEXPENSIVE and loaded with protein and vitamins, but they go neglected by the mainstream.

If kale were not pushed on television, no one would know it existed. Arugula became famous in the States in the 1990s. Odd. Thank you, Travel Chanel. Now Quinoa is a super food … oldest grain in the world. Thank you, cooking shows.

Here are two recipes using Old World ingredients. The stock can be made homemade – so I will give you three recipes actually. … Or you can use canned and up your food cost by a couple dollars.

The base of these dinners for six is less than $10 per person. These recipes are all VEGAN, back to the earth. Thank our ancestors because that’s why we are here. And stop taking shortcuts on nutrition!

Vegetable Broth

2 potatoes chopped

2 leeks cleaned and chopped

2 carrots peeled and chopped

2 onions peeled and chopped

2 turnips peeled and chopped (cut in half, then slice, then cut slices)

2 celery stalks, chopped

a handful of cherry tomatoes sliced in half

salt

Place all the veggies in a pan with 7 cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to simmer, for another 30 minutes.

Let it “rest” for another 15 minutes.

Take a potato masher and press down on the veggies. Strain the mixture into a bowl – and there is your stock for six people. Double or triple, as necessary.

Recipe 1 – Garbanzo (chic pea) and Spinach Soup

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 carrot chopped

1 cup garbanzo beans (cooked are cheaper 89 cents a pound = 3 pounds cooked) $1 a can/cup

3 cups spinach, chopped fine

1 cup soup pasta (ditalini is my favorite)

Salt and pepper

Here is the easy part: bring the stock to a boil. In a sauté pan add 3 tbsp oil and the carrots, onion and celery and sauté 5 minutes until soft.

Add the spinach and salt, pepper mix and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Add this and the beans to the stock and cook for a half hour.

Then add the pasta to cook for 6 or seven minutes to al dente because it will continue to swell. Drizzle with 1 tbsp oil and serve.

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Pal Joey’s pal eating veggies!

Recipe 2 – Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

Foot note: lentils are dry beans and need to be soaked for 3 hours before cooking OR boiled for 45 minutes in water prior to using. Also: cooked lentils substitute nicely for any meat in a recipe!

6 cups veggie stock

4 tbsp olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 large clove of garlic chopped

1 celery stalk chopped

1 carrot peeled and chopped fine

1 bag (12 oz or 16 oz) or head Swiss chard finely chopped

1 cup lentils soaked for 3 hours prior

2 tbsp (optional) or a handful of cherry tomatoes sliced

½ cup rice (I like jasmin)

salt, pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top

Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

In a large pan bring your stock to a boil.

In a sauté pan, add the celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook over low heat with 3 Tbsp oil.

Add ¼ cup broth to prevent burning, for about minutes.

Add the Swiss chard and cook an additional 5 minutes or less until it wilts. Then add this to the stock, with the lentils and tomatoes (your choice). Bring to a boil.

Add the rice, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook for 15 minutes or so until the rice is done.

Ladle into your soup bowl and sprinkle with cheese.

Enjoy!

Chef Joey in Rose’s space … InCity Yum Yums: February is a funny month

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Chef Joey keeps it cozy in February with tasty treats!

Text, photos and recipes by Chef Joey

February is that funny month: it is shorter than the others and has a “Leap Year” attached to it. Here in New England there can be a roller-coaster ride of seasonal activity – from mild almost spring- like weather to frost-bite severe. We seem to be mirroring storms that graced us in 2015, not as severe yet, but just as menacing.

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Chef Joey’s Vinny and Mikey lounge on the couch. Spoiled babies💙!

Some useless trivia: Because February is only 28 days long, it can actually have no full moons. The last full moon in February was in 1999, and the next gap is predicted on the 2018 astrological calendar.

It also is the host month of Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday,” literally translated), the kick off to Lent by Ash Wednesday followed, for some people, by 40 days of giving up something (albeit excused one day for St Patrick’s Day, March 17). Ironically, Fat Tuesday is the last day of February this year on the 28th, making March 1 Ash Wednesday.

Having grown up in France, this day was a build-up event. Basically eating everything that is fattening for 7 days before the fast!

We in the south of France made crêpes. In the middle country, they made Beignets or small doughnuts, and in Northern France, folks made waffles. All three meals are synonymous with the much celebrated day. Carnivals take place all over France. Carnival is a Latin word deriving from carnelevare, literally meaning “Lift out the meat”!! The following 40 days of fasting were virtually meat-free; butter and eggs were sparse in meals, as well.

In France, February 2 is always National Crêpe day, called “La Chandeleur.” It is a family event that involves Crepes, a gold coin and a flipping contest. My grandmother would make the crepe batter, and we all got a shot at flipping our delicate pancake. Tradition has it that if you flip the crêpe successfully, you won’t have any money problems. Oh, but there is a catch! You hold the coin with the hand you write with and flip your crepe with your other hand. It keeps things fun.

So, for French Crèpes, you make a simple batter:

1 cup flour, sifted

2 eggs

½ cup milk

½ cup water

¼ tsp salt

2 tbsp soft butter

Mix the eggs and flour together …

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… adding the milk and water slowly. Add the salt and butter and whisk until smooth. In a hot skillet, add a tsp of butter, or cooking oil for savory crêpes coat well. Add ¼ cup batter for each crepe and tilt the pan so the batter swirls out – the back of a ladle also helps to spread it out.

Cook for about 1 minute or until the sides are brown. Lift with a spatula to loosen it and cook the other side. Stack them on top of each other and cover with a cake pan (for height) or a piece of foil.

Crepes can be savory (salty) filled with ham and melted cheese, or sweet, say filled with Nutella or something as simple as strawberry jam.

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COOKIES!!!!!🍪🍪😍😍

This is the easiest cookie recipe you will ever need for your entire life! The base is magic! And the fillings are what you want. When you make them from scratch, it takes 20 minutes and costs less than 20 cents a cookie. So bake a batch for your loved ones – they are nutritious and healthy.

You can add cinnamon, raisins, chocolate chips, dried fruit, glazes, frostings. Or you can roll this cookie dough out and get creative with cookie cutters. Or just roll into small balls for the perfect cookie.

You will need:

1 pound of soft BUTTER

1½ cups sugar

3 eggs

2 ¾ cup flour

2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Mix the sugar and butter until light and fluffy …

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… add the eggs and mix well.

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar. Add flour mix in small batches – mix well.

Use a small ice-cream scoop to form round balls and place dough balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 mins in a 350-degree oven.

I make these cookies all the time for my foster daughter, and when she says, “Papa, I want a cookie!” I know she is getting good stuff. Tomorrow, when we’re snowed in …

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Chef Joey’s backyard, winter 2015 …

… I may make a few dozen 😉!

Adopting your next dog or cat – always in style! …Meet Chef Joey’s crew … and take a look at his cinnaroll pics💚💛☕

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Below: Chef Joey’s crew, all homeless and hurtin’ before Joey adopted them. Abby was thrown out of a car window! Vinny was abused and became a bellicose teddy bear❤!… Mikey needed a home so so badly! ALWAYS ADOPT!
– R.T.

Photos by Chef Joey

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Mikey

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Vinny

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Abby

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Vinny and Mikey

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Kitty Kong and CK

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Got these cinnaroll pics from Chef Joey today. Here’s his recipe (one more time💙) to go with his photos! – R.T.

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SUPER BOWL YUM YUMS🏈🏈🍻

Text, recipes and photos by Chef Joey

Super Bowl is amongst us again, and we are Massachusetts – the “Football Nation.” People are chatty, bets are being placed, and team spirit is at an all-time high.

So snacks are appropriate to have during the game, and what’s better than finger foods, right?

The pictures you see are of roll ups. I made these two for a sweet side, one with sugar and cinnamon, the other I added rum-soaked raisins. The joy of this snack is the fillings are endless!

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For a different kind of snack, you can smear the middle with pesto and fresh mozzarella, provolone and pepperoni, Italian sausage and cheddar – the list is endless, and they can be all your favorite foods!

The whole recipe takes an hour and a half – start to finish – including the dough rising. If you are in a hurry, buy pre-made dough, but a 10-pound bag of flour is cheaper, and yeast lasts a while.

For the dough:

1 pound of dough (4 cups of flour) makes 2 rolls that yield about 14 slices each.

Dough:

4 cups flour

1 packets active dry yeast or 4 tablespoons if you buy the money-saving jar

1 TBSP sugar

3 TBSP oil

1 TSP salt

WARM WATER (This varies from flour brand – for real! I like King Arthur.)

Add all the ingredients to a bowl EXCEPT THE WATER in a large bowl. Plan on 2 cups of super warm water but not hot, as you do not want to kill the yeast.

Keep adding the water until dough is malleable and basically dough-like.

Add additional flour if necessary.

Kneed for a few minutes until smooth – cover and place in a warm spot and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Punch the dough down, roll it out and cover and fill with your favorite filling.

Roll the dough up like in the pictures and cover it again and let it rise for another ½ hour.

Place in a pre-heated oven 375 degrees and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Let cook and slice and serve! So easy! A recipe for life!

💖 Go ahead and make a pizza crust or form it into a loaf of Italian bread!

For the bread brush with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan, or add pitted Kalamata olives for a rustic bread – your possibilities are endless. A 10 pound bag of flour for $8 makes a good 20 loaves or 30 pizzas or 20 roll ups – cheap – easy and DELICIOUS!

Breakfast Rolls:

2 sticks of butter melted – ½ cup sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon – mix and spread it our between the 2 rolls roll and when they are baked – brush with a glaze of ¼ cup melted sugar and 1/16 cup water – brush on cooked buns and serve.

For chilly winter afternoons …

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Chef Joey shared this recipe with you last year…This Italian soup may be just the ticket to glide through these cold winter days!

Pasta e Fagiole

Recipe and photos by Chef Joey

This is a simple pasta and bean soup – Pasta e Fagiole – quick, easy and delicious!

Enjoy – and stay warm!

Ingredients:

2 large onions diced

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4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine

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½ stick butter or ¼ cup oil for vegan

4 cans of Cannellini beans or white navy beans or 1 bag presoaked (save the liquid!)

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3 tablespoons veggie bouillon

1 large can crushed tomatoes

Package of small pasta cooked, such as Ditalini, which means baby-fingers pasta, “little digits.”

2 quarts water

In a large large pot, melt the butter and add the onions and garlic and coat.

Then add 1 cup of water so the butter/oil does not burn.

Reduce heat and add your veggie bouillon.

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Simmer.

Add the water and all the juice from the beans but not the beans, if canned. If fresh beans, then add so they can cook.

Add crushed tomato and let simmer 20 minutes.

Add the canned beans, if using those, and simmer another 20 minutes.

Spoon cooked pasta into individual soup bowls, pour the hot soup over pasta and serve!

Who does not like a bun?

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Chef Joey☕🍷🍺🍸🍼!

Text, photos and recipe by Chef Joey

No one!

Here is a great recipe for cinnamon and/or raisin buns. You can make veggie roll ups, sausage bread or whatever you want for fillings. This is a simple, easy way to make a snack – a recipe that will stay with you for life!

There is a quick way to do this and that is to purchase bread dough – or the economical, fresh-and-tasty way: Making your own dough…

4 cups of flour

5 tablespoons of yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ cup oil and warm water until above ingredients feel like dough – usually around one cup.

Mix everything together and let it rise – same with pre-made dough.

After your dough has risen, in a warm, draft-free place – covered, of course! – roll it out, following my pictures:

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If you are making cinnamon buns, melt 1 stick of butter ½ cup sugar and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon.

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Spread the mixture over the two sets of roll outs you get from this recipe.

It is at this point too that you can add raisins that have been presoaked or boiled for maximum plumpness.

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If making something for a football party, you can layer out salami, pepperoni, crumbled cooked sausage and shredded cheese – pasta sauce – or whatever you are craving. And roll it up!

Once rolled, set it on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. If you are making a savory (salt-based) app, you can sprinkle corn meal as a nonstick surface for your treats.

Let it rise – once again in a draft-free area, lightly covered – and preferably warm (a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees works great).

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes to 20 minutes – tops.

If making cinnamon rolls, brush with melted sugar and butter for a shiny effect.

When cooled, slice and serve, and you have the perfect snack.

Freeze them and pull out as many as you feel that you will need as a snack or for a party!

So here is the trivia part of buns … They basically are mini-loaves of bread that were carted around by royalty when they travelled to avoid bread crumbs in their carriages from slicing loaves of bread or breaking baguettes. The “upper crust😉” thought it was great, and the servants liked the easier clean up!🍞

More InCity Yum Yums! … FOOTBALL🏈🏈 FOOD!

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Football time = snack time, America!!!!

Text and recipes by Chef Joey

Football season is upon us, and it has traditionally been, and will continue to be, a good excuse to get together to “snack/eat” (and drink) …

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pic: R.T.

… while watching the game.

Did you know that during the winter of 1960 a contest was put out to locals to submit ideas for the Boston football team’s official name?

The most popular choice — and the one that Billy Sullivan – who was the franchise developer selected — was “Boston Patriots.” Immediately thereafter, The Boston Globe artist Phil Bissell developed the “Pat Patriot” logo.

Football munching has transformed over the years – from bags of chips and orange-coated curls to a whole new level of snacks. Albeit we still have the traditional nachos and salsa …

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Veggie 7 layer dip with nachos … photo: PETA.ORG

… or the foot long grinders, but now we have the birth of gastro-apps. These fancier apps look festive, allow a new dimension to the food category and are not limited to sports. They can carry over to small gatherings or cocktail parties.🍸🍸

A few finger foods with a twist:

MASHED POTATO PUFFS!

This recipe makes 12 to 24 puffs, depending on the size of the pan used.

2 cups mashed potatoes

3 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated cheese such as Parmesan or Swiss or, for a strong flavor Gruyere, divided

1/4 cup minced chives

1/4 cup diced cooked bacon or ham – optional

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Sour cream, to serve – also optional

Heat the oven to 400°F and lightly grease the cups of a mini-muffin tin.

Whisk together the mashed potatoes, the eggs, 3/4 cup of cheese, the chives and ham.

Season, if necessary, with salt and pepper. (The seasoning will depend on how seasoned your mashed potatoes were to begin with.)

Mound a spoonful of the mixture into each muffin cup.

Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the potato cups are set, browned on top and hot through.

Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then use a spoon or knife to gently release them from the pan.

Serve immediately with dollops of sour cream, if desired.

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Zucchini and Onion Pizza Puffs!!!

nonstick vegetable oil spray

1 10-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough (or ½ of the dough I taught you how to make in my previous post!)

3/4 cup garlic-and-herb cheese spread (such as Boursin or Alouette), divided

3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided

1 small red onion

1 zucchini (7/8 inches long – yellow or green). Cut it crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick rounds – divide it

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper…spray with nonstick spray.

Unroll dough onto parchment.

Spread half of herb cheese over 1 long half of dough, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.

Sprinkle with half of Parmesan and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Using parchment as aid, fold plain half of dough over filled half (do not seal edges!!).

Spread remaining herb cheese over top

Then sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.

Remove enough outer layers of onion to yield 2-inch-diameter core… cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Arrange one row of zucchini down one long side of dough.

Arrange onion rounds in row alongside zucchini. Arrange 1 more row of zucchini alongside onion.

Brush vegetables with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake bread until puffed and deep brown at edges – about 24 minutes.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

Go, Pats!

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Not exactly a food video, but it DOES have “Saltines” in the title! – R.T.

Joey parked here … The Holiday Season: a Giving Season!

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Chef Joey

By Chef Joey

For many folks the holidays mean a time of happiness, Santa pictures, gatherings and delicious meals. …

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Chef Joey donates his time and talent every Christmas – he donates and cooks all the turkeys and makes vast amounts of turkey soup and stuffing for his friend Boa’s nonprofit, the Southeast Asian Coalition. photos: Boa Newgate

… I know people who start their gift shopping as early as July! (Maybe a personal attempt to throw the spending numbers off that retailers thrive by!) Many organizations have fundraisers and the Salvation Army hand bells can be heard at just about every market and store and, of course, who says no to Toys for Tots?

I have a foster daughter this season and was invited to “Family Appreciation” day hosted by the Department of Children and Families. It was held at the DCU center (I almost typed Centrum!), and much to my surprise there were hundreds of families there! All of us had a common link: We were all foster parents. Some with one child and I met a family of four! What was amazing is the fact that everyone was there to enjoy themselves. It was a veritable “League of Nations”! There were children and parents of all ethnicities, mixed families, and when I say families, they all were together and smiling.

Santa and Mrs. Claus were there too, and there were so many families they called them up by tables of 10. And there were more than 50 tables! – just to give you an idea.

We were table 38 so we got to watch what was planned. Hats with antlers made by tracing your child’s hand and then cut out and taped to a band that fits across the forehead. Then there were the gingerbread men decorating stations. Face painting is always a hit with kids and the ice cream buffet was a guarantee that everyone would stay awake – never mind the 20 foot table of various candies!

As we got called up to meet Santa, we talked about where the children came from, how long we had them, etc. and that’s when I looked at the stage and saw a young man, say no more than 9 or 10, attempting to climb the two steps to see Santa himself, refusing help, as he had arm crutches in both arms and two very twisted legs. He was so determined to get there without assistance, you could see the effort in his face. When he reached the top he smiled. Made his way to Santa and sat on his knee, face beaming as he recited his list of whishes. Then he smiled for the camera, got up and walked across to the finish line per se where he was handed a wrapped toy, which he handed to his foster mom, who was not the same ethnicity, but had a parental smile that melted me. She gave he foster son a hug and helped him down back to the floor level and he was telling her all about it, as if she had not seen. This was a classic case of “To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all!”

After a few snacks and comradery, we left and were greeted with a table of books, crayons, coloring pencils and other complementary items that were gleefully distributed to the attendees, all passed out by volunteers. Today everyone was making a difference.

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The Southeast Asian Coalition celebrates!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Mr. Boa D Newgate, now a Culture Broker for the Southeast Asian Coalition recently wrapped up his Thanksgiving party and was busy getting ready for Worcester First Night, where his team of Lion Dancers once again performed.

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Boa’s story is simple: He was a refugee with his parents and sibling. They made it to the United States and fortunately to Worcester. Boa saw inner-city kids who were not amounting to much, so he decided to show them boxing and other activities to exercise. He made arrangements with the YMCA and had regular sessions, starting with just a few kids that grew and grew. As the expansion started so did the activities and the need for transportation.

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He found a way to procure a school bus, and though tenacious work and donations, registered and insured it. He then involved at the Southeast Asian Coalition.

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Go, Boa, go!!

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Everyone loves and is so proud of Boa!

From their website their story is the following: The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, Inc. (SEAC) was founded in 1999 and established as a non-profit agency in 2001 to address the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate support services for Southeast Asian Immigrants in Central Massachusetts, which includes Laotians, Cambodians, and Vietnamese.

SEAC’s mission is to assist Southeast Asians in Central Massachusetts successfully integrate into mainstream society while maintaining their unique cultural identity. SEAC has developed a strong reputation both among members of our cultural community and with our partners in the community at large for being a trusted organization of first resort. Their mission is focused on education and job training.

The first Thanksgiving holiday party I attended was sparse, perhaps 25 to 30 kids. I made a turkey and all the fixings – this is back in 2009. In 2010 there were more kids and I was there as well, but now there was karate, judo, and other things being taught and the space was growing.

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Last year there were very young kids that were learning the Lion Dance; they had a demonstration and explained how every move tells a story.

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Those heads are heavy! Each eye can go left, right, up or down and blink!

So put the movements to a beating drum, and the magic of the dancing dragon comes alive!

Like Hula dancers with their hands and hips, all these Polynesian and Asian rituals are secretly threaded. Of course, Richard and I supplied the turkeys and again this year knowing there was to be a crowd, we made several turkeys, stuffing and a vast amount of turkey soup.

Boa was promoted to his new position, and having volunteered for years donating his own time and money. His new title is Cultural Broker, and he is working with people with mental and other physical disorders by linking and bridging communities. His focus is to transition folks to better life styles and connect to them to resources in the community so that each person feels completely normal and free of any labels due to their condition. He is a mighty man and a kindred spirit! Everyone he has helped has a smile on their face when you mention his name. The best part about Boa: he tries to make sure everyone is appeased and juggles to make it happen. And it does!

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RECIPE: CHEF JOEY’S HOLIDAY TURKEY STUFFING!

Here is a quick easy recipe for stuffing – you are going to love it!

All you need is:

2 large onions

1 bunch of celery

raisins

cranberries

oatmeal

Bell’s seasoning tops it off.

It is a delicious and healthy and gluten free!

First, chop the onions and sautee in olive oil

Add the celery and stir until soft.

Add ½ cup raisins and 1 cup fresh cranberries and stir in 2 tablespoons of Bells seasoning.

In the meantime, cook 3 cups of oatmeal.

Add to the onion mix and stir.

Salt and pepper to taste and there you have it!😄

Joey parked in Rose’s space … Waiting on a piece from Chef Joey. For now, Bolognese Sauce🍅!

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Chef Joey makes primo Italian sauces! Go, Chef Joey, go!!!      pic: R.T.

Text, recipe and photos by Chef Joey

Here is a quick dinner recipe sure to please anyone in your family! I chose the vegetarian, gluten-free version, which is also vegan. However, with a switch from lentils to hamburger, it can be the traditional Bolognese pasta sauce you all know and love.

Here is how fast and easy it is!

Ingredients:

1 box pasta (penne works great)

1 small can tomato paste

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

1 cup red wine

olive oil

salt & pepper

3 large carrots peeled and rough-chopped

1 ½ cups cooked lentils or ½ pound lean ground beef

fresh basil

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Take 3 good sized carrots, chop …

… and add 1 cup of water to a food processor

… and 4 whole cloves of garlic.

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Garlic – use 4 WHOLE CLOVES for this recipe!

Pulse until you have a thick puree.

Add some olive oil to a thick seep pan and sauté on a medium fire until the water starts to evaporate and the carrots become soft.

In the meantime, take a large onion and chop it fine and add to the carrot mixture.

Stir constantly and add 1 cup of water.

As the water reduces – keep an eye on it – add 3 tablespoons of sugar to caramelize the carrots and onions.

As the onions get soft, add 1 cup of red wine (anything works) slowly and stir.

As the sauce starts to smell delicious, add 1 can of tomato paste …

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… and another cup of water and stir.

Let this cook for about 20 minutes and add a few basil leaves for flavor.

In the meantime cook your pasta …
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This is where you go vegan or carnivore. For meat lovers, add ½ pound of LEAN ground beef; for vegans, add 1 ½ cups cooked lentils.

When the meat/lentils are warm (5-10 mins), pour the sauce over the pasta. Stir and serve.

Srinkle with cheese, garnish + add a parsley or basil leaf = ENJOY!💝

Chef Joey – always in style! … Home for the Holidays … to make Gingerbread

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Text and photos by Chef Joey

Home for the Holidays – that seems to sum up what everyone wants, or thinks is the best, or so the song says.

But what exactly is “home”?

According to Webster’s Dictionary it is a “domicile” “House” “workplace” and even a “Habitat,” say where fish return home to spawn. Even they have a favorite spot!

Where ever it may be, home is a place of grounding, whether it be an apartment, a house, rented space or even a nursing home. One needs to have a place of one’s own. Nothing is more important than that, especially during the holidays.

This is one of those holidays that reaches into the depths of our memories, the Santa Claus watching us all year, the Elf on the Shelf scampering around to new hiding places. All this cerebral fun, combined with transferring the “Home” into an ornament filled room, awash with lights and color. And there has to be some heirloom decoration that comes out just for this time period.

Holiday trees are plentiful on many corners, having grown for the last 10 or so years to be cut, transported, marketed and sold for $15 to those who dare take the chance it will last the Holiday. Others prefer the safe “fake” tree …

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… that stands just as majestically as a real one, but does come back year to year and eventually becomes an heirloom itself. …

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On a brief note, because of space constraints, Europeans generally decorate a fir branch in their homes to celebrate the solstice, when fermented beverages from the summer were ready to consume and animals were slaughtered and stored for winter meals. Three tops were used to save the rest of the tree. Early decorations were edible items as well – dried apples, cookies etc.

My European grandmother would place a branch on the mantle in the dining room and decorate it with a few ribbons, and a candle ended up there. Simple and yet elegant.

The common thread for all these definitions is, of course food. Even the fishes have to eat! We, however, have cheese dips, even cheese Christmas trees! …

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… cookies …

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… cakes and favorite meals …

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Gift swapping, too. People in homes run by caretakers have the advantage of enjoying continual celebrations. Work places always have some kind of holiday party and private residences are always cozy. Christmas recipes tend to indulge more the sugary side. Confections seem to go very well with this holiday.

Cookies go back to the Middle Ages when spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg made their appearances. Cinnamon cakes, nutmeg beverages and various ginger cookies and cakes started appearing.

Ginger and Gingerbread Men and Gingerbread Houses

Surprisingly, most gingerbread items have changed very little since then, right down to the molasses that was cheaper than sugar. The birth of the “Gingerbread Man” was for Queen Elizabeth the 1st, who had the cookies made for her favorite advisors. Giving a cookie became the thing to do because in medieval times it was hard for working people to procure dried fruits and nuts, and when they did it was for an important event like Christmas. So the making of cakes and puddings would be the priority and hard to share. So using your butter and lard to make a batch of cookies or cakes was less expensive, therefore people would share a “cookie” or a cake with friends and neighbors during the holiday season.

Now we have gift cards.

One time I painstakingly made a Gingerbread House for the holidays, as my parents were coming to the states from France to visit me. They came into my house directly from the airport. I showed them my Gingerbread House, all proud – it was complete with frosted shingles and gumdrops!

My mom said, “Oh how pretty” and ripped a corner off the roof and ate it.

When I protested, she said, “It’s ginger bread – use cardboard if you don’t want people to eat it. You make cakes and cut them. What’s the difference?”

Good point. I got over it.

Germany had a lot to do with confections, but mainly breads. The French had cakes. This being New “England,” we have Christmas puddings and English-like holiday treats. Of course, immigration has brought holiday traditions for families to America, and no shocker, they all involve food!

Whatever your tradition, I hope you enjoy it in a happy, healthy way and celebrate with others if you can – it makes for a nice time. Our common thread? We are all still kids at heart!

Gingerbread

Here is a gingerbread recipe that is quick, easy and tasty. It takes less than one hour to make and can be served warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

2 cups flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp nutmeg *you can use allspice

2 tsp for cinnamon cloves and nutmeg blend

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup molasses

¼ cup water

1 egg

1 cup whole milk or buttermilk for thicker bread

Heat oven to 350 – grease a 9 x 9 pan or cup cake liners (6).

Mix all the dry ingredients together, add the butter and molasses to a bowl and sift in the dry ingredients (everything up to the butter from the top).

Stir, adding water.

Mix the egg and milk together, add to your batter, mix well and pour into the pan or tins.

Bake 30 minutes or so for cake and 15 to 18 minutes for cupcakes.

Test with a toothpick for doneness.

Remove from the oven – let stand – turn the cake out on a cooking rack, cut into pieces and serve!

Enjoy!

InCity Yum Yums gets political😉: (Winter) soup’s on!

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Chef Joey makes TERRIFIC soups!  pics:R.T.

By Chef Joey

Dare I say the weather is changing and it looks like we are going colder folks! But that can be a good thing. With the colder weather the yearning for hearty food goes up, and believe it or not you can cook up some delicious fare for cheap!

Using beans as your protein source not only reduces thecost of your meal, itactually is better for you. We so often look to short cuts –  a quick “dollar” meal, frozen microwave meals, or all out dining. Investing in a $15 crock pot makes cooking a breeze: you come home to a prepared meal!

On the flip side 45 minutes to an hour will also yield a delicious soup or stew made on your stove top.

TOMATO SOUP

You can make more than 1 gallon of homemade tomato or cream of tomato soup for less than $5. It’s easy fast and delicious!

All you need:

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onions

carrots

celery

tomatoes

garlic

water and a soup base – I prefer “Knorr’s” or “Better than Bullion” veggie base for the flavor. The wet bullion base will cost you upfront – but the yield is amazing.

So Joey, how do I make that soup?

Well, it is easy!

Get a big pot, slice up 2 large onions and add to the pot with 1 -2 inches of water and let those puppies heat up – the water softens the onions and does not allow them to burn.

Now peel and rough chop 4 carrots and 4 or 5 stalks of celery and 3 or 4 cloves of garlic

Put them in a blender with 1 cup or 2 of water, depending on the volume

Blend until smooth.

Add this to your onion mix then open a large
6 pound can of crushed tomatoes (called #10 cans – your food club stores sell them for under $4) and stir

It will be kind of thick so add ½ can or less of water and stir well.

Bring it to a near boil and let it simmer
a good 40 minutes.

Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of your bouillon at this point and taste for flavor

Now would be the time you salt and pepper.

Add heavy cream for cream of tomato soup, or enjoy it vegan fast and easy.

The carrots add a sweet tinge and give another veggie element to the soup!

*****

Notice how I had you finely chop the onions
and cook in water. You can add a little olive oil if you like, too …

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This helps act as a baby sitter so your
onions don’t burn.

Blending celery and garlic is a great way to introduce it to your broth without having to cut it up small small.
This is the basis for just about everything. The carrots and celery need to be pureed for the tomato soup. Cubed or chopped is fine for other soups. Garlic, however, I feel works best in this application.

LENTIL SOUP

To make lentil soup start with your onions

then puree garlic

when the onions are soft add about
2 quarts of water , 8 cups , and one bag of lentils that have been rinsed off.

To this add 3 peeled (or unpeeled) potato

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… finely diced and 4 peeled and
diced carrots and 4 or 5 stalks of celery.

A tablespoon or 2 of cumin or turmeric, it does wonders!

For this soup the lentils need a solid 45 minutes to cook.

At the end taste for flavor – if you feel ths need for bouillon, go ahead.

If not salt and pepper – you can add fresh lemon juiceand a whole bunch of fresh chopped spinach, too (blender trick works
great).

Substitute the bag of lentils with barley for
another great soup and instead of cumin – try
turmeric or curry powder!

One cup of barley goes a long way, and it keeps “growing”! So don’t use more than a
cup per 2 quarts.

Ok.  We get it but I don’t like lentils. Well, that’s great but I say try them as an adult. But you still don’t like them…Ok then start your base of onions. This time triple your garlic (I LOVE bags of whole peeled garlic and NEVER use the chopped up stuff – you will ruin your recipe). Blend it together and add Cannelli beans or white navy beans juice and everything into your onion base.

Ideally if you buy a bag of dried beans and soak overnight or quick boil prepare is the cheapest route – 1 pound bags range
from $.89 to $1.50 versus the same price depending on the brand for cans. Add your water and base at this point for this soup.

Add fresh washed and chopped escarole to this, and there you have it! Escarole and bean soup.

Just add diced carrots – and boom white bean soup or get a package of grape tomatoes, rough blend in the blender with water – add to ths beans and you have a variation.

BLACK BEAN SOUP

Black bean soup is just as fun! A secret I taught myself when I didn’t have any cilantro was to add a jar of salsa to my black beans.

So basically start your base:

onions and garlic

then add 2 cans of black beans

8 cups water

Let that heat up – throw in a bag of frozen corn and a cup or 2 of diced carrots

a tablespoon of cumin – these old world spices really work!

After about a half hour, add the salsa – at least a cup.

Stir until hot.

There you have it!

All of these nutritious meals costs less than $5.

You can add meat to the barley soup if you have leftovers –  it is ideal chop it up into little cubes. One half of a whole chicken breast goes a long way and can feed many.

CHICKEN POT PIE

Chicken pot pie is chicken stew with a crust. It is easy – once again the base of the
onions

Add garlic

a little oil on this one

toss in 4 or 5 chopped celery stalks

then add your diced chicken and sauté for a few minutes.

Add:

2 cups carrots

2 cups peas

2 cups diced potatoes

Then cover with mixture just enough – about an inch over the mixture.

When veggies are done add some chicken base or veggie base. I am gluten free so I thicken with corn starch – 4 or 5 tablespoons mixed with COLD water (1/4 cup works fine)

Add to the broth

And there you have it!  20 minute chicken stew.

For pot pie: Pour it in a pan – make a quick crust (1 stick cold butter 2
cups flour – salt and a teaspoon of baking powder. Throw it in your food processor – or if you don’t have one mix the dry together.

Soften the butter – both ways require a little bit of cold water until it becomes pastry-like. Roll it out on a floured surface. No roller? Use a bottle or a can (clean it first) and bake
until flakey and golden.

When you go shopping and you see carrots potatoes, turnips etc. on sale buy them – they can last a while in dry storage. A 10 pound bag of carrots will sell for $3.99 vs 1 pound for $1.99. Always shop for the lowest price per pound. Speaking of carrots… peel 3 pounds of carrots, run them through the food
processor or blender with water to purée them. (if you don’t have one use the side of your box grater – or dice very fine.

Start your soup with the onion base

add garlic

then add your carrots

Cover with water

Add a tablespoon of fresh chopped ginger

Let it cook for a good 30 minutes on medium – a tablespoon of curry powder will add another dimension.

Salt pepper and add base, if needed.

You can find many different spices in the ethnic sections of your supermarket – fennel, curry, turmeric etc. are way cheaper in the Indian section versus the spice section of the market. Look for the big Goya displays most yearly supplies are under $5.

Use chick peas with your onion and garlic blend, add water…when it boils add a cup of pasta! Pasta Cici – and if you soak your own beans – you’re talking $3 soup for 10 or more – that’s $.30 cents a serving! And no additives. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Remember the book stonesoup? I don’t like to admit it much either becauseit shows our age, but it is true – you can make
soups and stews with anything – adding mashed potato will thicken the case nicely.

Save your leftover veggies no matter how small the portion and after a couple days well stored – “add them to the pot”!

If onions bother you – I feel bad for you! – use leeks instead and make sure you wash them well as they can collect dirt between the layers. They enhance soups wonderfully. Toss some cubed butternut squash in with
your lentils or barley soups or even chicken stew – at $.79 a pound it’s inexpensive and just one will add 3 or more servings!

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Happy Thanksgiving! photo: Chef Joey