Tag Archives: CECELIA

🌸⛄Another new column from Edith!❄🌸❄

Finances for Kids

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

With the students still out of school, learning at home, we have a great opportunity to fix our curriculum – the heart of the educational enterprise, which gets short shrift, coming in a poor second to the need to get good scores on commercial tests, with their very limited scope (after all, they have to conform to the machines so they have to be paper-and-pencil tests.)

What if we re-invented the purpose of public education and our primary task were to be to prepare every student to become a knowledgeable, critical and creative thinker, ready at high school graduation to assume the full responsibility of an American citizen? Would if we molded an intelligent voter and a self-supporting individual able to support him/herself while realizing the American Dream?

How then does our present curriculum fit those goals?

IMG_19401
Active, creative little beings! Gigi file photos: Chef Joey

Thankfully, US Secretary of Education Betsy Devos has resigned, and with her hopefully goes the noxious push to destroy public education and substitute charter, private, for-profit, “training.” I do not call it “education,” as it is generally geared to create obedient, cheap and unquestioning labor or acolytes, not really independent, responsible, life-long students. Full participants in a vibrant, actively involved citizenry!

IMG_0325
Keep kids learning during the pandemic!

If we are going to live to 90 years old or beyond, in the future, we need to graduate students who can handle so many years of life beyond the “working” years“ – the years when they will have put in their time at a job, a profession, a calling – and will have put aside enough to live comfortably, travel, enjoy grandchildren, develop talents for which there was not time before, etc. Also tonmaybe devote time and energy to volunteer activities, since they now have the skills and experience to help the next generation get a good start.

More and more, technology is supplying us with “labor-saving devices,” theoretically freeing us from some of the drudgery of daily life. But human services – the care of children, fellow-family members, our ill or handicapped persons – all will still require the human touch. The importance of that kind of work should be raised up in importance in our society, and paid well, because that kind of work requires special skills and dedication that are more important than working on the various machines that technology supplies to make our lives a bit easier.

IMG_1560
Edith and her family

Let us look closely at whose work is really vital: If the President spends a month at the golf course, what happens? Nothing much. But if trash and garbage were not collected in our towns and cities for even a week, the city of New York would come to a standstill and rats and vermin would overrun the streets …

Trust Your Eyes and Ears!

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith!

From the time we are born, we rely on the testimony of our senses: we can see, hear, smell, touch and taste the world around us. Then our brain receives the information from all those senses, processes it – interprets what came in, and goes into action. At least that is, in a very simplified way, what is supposed to happen.

But in the last four years, too many of our fellow citizens have been exhorted to disregard the evidence of their eyes and ears, and to listen to the words of their all knowing (by his definition only) leader and simply blindly follow Trump’s lead. That should have been enough warning that something was amiss: in a democracy, no functioning adult citizen should ever relinquish the responsibility to see things for him/herself and always to “question authority.”

All elected officials should always undergo constant scrutiny by their constituents and should hear from the folks back home, if they do not appear to remember that they are the “servants of the people” – and we pay them to work for us. Somehow, for too many of us, that idea has gotten lost. Getting re-elected and paying for the incessant campaigning take up much of the two-year terms of local candidates, and six years for Senators, four years for President.

Surely, two or three months should be enough to find out whether the candidate in question has the background, track record as a decent human being, and the skills to perform the job in question.
That would leave plenty of time to actually perform the job for which they are running – and would relieve us, the voters, of the incessant campaigning.
Meanwhile, the media, enhanced by our ubiquitous cell phones equipped with fairly good cameras, can supply us with sight and sound of happenings wherever we happen to be. We do not have to rely on anyone else’s perceptions to know what is true: our own eyes and ears are there.

I rely on my own senses for most decisions I make: I sniff or examine groceries (vegetables, juices, milk, fruits, etc.. to see if they are still edible. I can tell by their color, smell, feel, maybe even taste, whether I can still use them.) Why not apply similar tests to those who want our vote and who want to make decisions for us? Often we have a “gut feeling” that something is not right, someone is not trustworthy – that is a sixth sense that many of us have learned to heed, when it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, especially now when we have been lied to for so long, and so often, and about so much.

Trust your own senses, your own brain, even your own gut – you will never be 100% sure or right, but you will come a lot closer than if you rely on someone else or on some money-making machine that merely exists to pick your pocket.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” should be the motto of every one of us, if our democracy is to survive.

🇺🇸OUR DEMOCRACY🇺🇸 AND CONSTITUTION🇺🇸 DID NOT DIE! January 5 and 6: dates that will live in infamy!

BY EDITH MORGAN

IMG_1573
Edith🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸

On election nights, the news channels start showing the early voting results and keep on updating them as results dribble in. Like a political junkie, I stayed up until 3 a.m., watching the Georgia numbers come in. I could have curled up with a good novel and just got the numbers in the morning. Then the figures verified the good news: both Democrats in Georgia won, and the Senate would flip, evening up the numbers, with the tie breaker being our new VP. So far, so good …

But then things took a turn – definitely for the worst – and the nation, and most of our overseas friends and even our enemies, got to watch as an unruly, hostile mob attacked our Capitol in Washington, where all of our legislative branches of the Federal Government were assembled to go through what was supposed to be a mere formality – the counting of the 50 States’ electoral votes, duly verified, signed, and delivered for the final count in the Senate.

There had been a lot of talk and speculation as to whether Vice President Mike Pence, who had the job of reading off the electoral report from each state, would be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and some how do what boss Trump wanted him to do: find a way to throw Trump the election. Which Trump had been claiming for a long time was ”rigged” against him.

Pence decided to obey our sacred Constitution and read off the electoral scores just as they had been submitted.

Trump, who has always had his temper tantrums, let it be known that while he liked Pence, he would like him less if he did not deliver!

Trump had threatened there would be a terrible aftermath on January 6th, he and harangued his supporters to assemble, march down Pennsylvania Avenue, go the one and a half miles down to the Capitol building, where our entire Congress was assembled and doing its job.

Of course, there was also staff there … so there were many people in the building! The Capitol holds a warm place in the hearts of Americans: so many of us have toured it! And loved and admired it! Or even attended hearings there, or even State of the Union speeches – sitting in the gallery, or perhaps even starting a career in politics as an aide to some political figure.

So when we were suddenly confronted by TV film footage of a large pro-Trump extremist mob, bearing sticks, flags (including not just the Stars and Stripes but also confederate flags and banners bearing Trump’ name and face), most of us watched in horror. Horrified as these domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol building, broke windows to get in, pushed past the few guards who were massively outnumbered, and proceeded to vandalize offices, sit behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk, sit in the hallowed chamber taking selfies
… strewing papers all around. Looking for the mahogany ballot boxes TO BURN AND DESTROY voting results. The sat insolently in the big chair on the dais above the rows of seats in the great meeting hall – a very familiar room to the world.

Eventually they were forced to stand down and leave – hundreds of brave law enforcement officers did their job and protected our constitution, democracy itself!

Then – gloriously! – the Capitol Security guards led our Senators, US Representatives and their employees to safety – and Congress did its job.

For the history books …

Let us pray America gets to January 20th without any further manifestations of the vicious and sadistic leader Trump – a madman we must endure for two more weeks.

🇮🇹CHEF JOEY’S vegan chicken pot pie and winter soups!💙💛💚

By Chef Joey

IMG_5349
Chef Joey says: M ASK UP AND WASH YOUR HANDS OFTEN!

Dare I say winter is here, 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 …
20210105_082511
photos: Chef Joey and Rose T.

… as your protein source not only reduces the cost of your meal, it actually 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:

onions

carrots

celery

tomatoes
IMG_6988

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 …

IMG_72661
Just 4!

… 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. 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

IMG_4695[2734]
💚

… 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 juice and 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

20210105_082511
💚

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
20210105_082530
You can use frozen veggies – or canned – in a pinch

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 …

IMG_6162[3958]

(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 stone soup? I don’t like to admit it much either because it 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!
IMG_4855[2728]
Garlic: a cook’s best friend!

Edith in Rose’s space!🌲🌲🌲🌲

A New Normal?

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith🌲🌲🌲🌲

We have a new year, a new President and Vice-president, a new vaccine or two (or maybe three, if the single-shot Johnson and Johnson pans out), and so many new businesses turning out the new protection products we are all grabbing up as fast as they are produced. I have a collection of masks, hand sanitizers and disposable gloves, and even travel kits to use on airplanes or busses.

There are so many ways to part us from our money – if they cannot get it at restaurants, theaters, museums and other venues where we used to gather together, then the enterprising have found ways to supply us with substitutes at a nice high profit and to reshape our needs and tastes to meet their new supplies. Being incessant consumers has been normal for some time: all that is different is what we consume, when, and at what price.

So, in 2021, what will be the new “normal” – and when?

If “normal” means a return to some past time, which time period do we pick? If you’re my age (90), maybe you are looking back to the rather quiet times of the Eisenhower years. If you are an activist, the “sixties” with all their upheavals, protests, marches and projected changes that somehow always seem to get partially lost as something else, newer and hotter, comes along may be your pick.

The one thing that always seems certain is that there will be some kind of change, largely brought about by technology, that grabs us more and more rapidly, leaving us constantly scrambling to keep up to date.

Politics has changed, too: big money, which has always played a large role in America, now is almost in charge. I am constantly bombarded with requests for money – though I never quite know how it will be used, and by whom. And the requests for my opinions and the surveys now are always accompanied by requests for donations. And, above all, the constant “hair-on-fire” pleas for help, describing the opposition in colorful emotional terms fill my e-mail box daily – as well as my mailbox.

IMG_0325
Kids learn at different rates and in different ways. The pandemic has limited Worcester Public Schools students to ZOOM classes.

So, is “normal” to be a return to the lying, lawlessness of the past four Trump years? The lack of shared values, the lack of cooperation, the vengefulness of our justice system? Or will the new normal be a shared belief in the values we profess to hold, in moderating our language, taking responsibility for what comes out of our mouths, and in feeling responsible for sharing with those who have the least, not just in the glow of the Christmas season but all year long?

And will we finally realize that learning and education are not the same! And that our children learn all the time, from everything around them, not merely in a brick-and-mortar building …

And, finally, will we expect our leaders to be concerned about us, who elect and pay them – rather than accumulating wealth and power and holding on to it?

I hope, while in our bubbles during the global pandemic, we have at least learned that there is a dangerous form of insanity which can be quite charming but very destructive. So as we rebuild, let us be more forgiving of those who merely err, not be taken in by the con men and hacks …

We were not “normal” before the pandemic, but we could be a new kind of normal soon, when the vaccine is ubiquitous. Until then, wear your facial masks – wash your hands – disinfect, and keep your distance, Save your hugs for later!
4_19
Good riddance!!!!!!!

❄New!!: EDITH and ROSE’S NEW YEAR’S EVE COLUMNS🍷🍸🍸🍓

HOPE: A Four-letter Word

By Edith Morgan

IMG_1573
Edith!

We have lots of four-letter words at our disposal – and sometimes we misuse or overuse some of them. But my favorite is HOPE, and it can not be overdone! There should always be HOPE! As we enter a new year, we need hope more than ever: there is so much to do, to fix, to change, and to innovate …

Many of the greeting cards I get, and many of those I send out, express the HOPE that there will be peace and joy, presumably throughout the world, not just at home. And as we face probably several more months of mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing, our hopes are high now that there are two vaccines becoming available, and many more are being tested – giving us HOPE that there may soon be one that requires only one shot and no special refrigeration.

And can we hope that there will be, sometime in the not-so-distant future, some way to immunize us all against the evil relatives of the coronavirus and its mutations? We can surely hope, and meanwhile we can pin our hopes on the scientists who spend a lifetime studying these questions. And we can back up our hopes with support and funding so that their work can be continued uninterrupted and with the equipment they need.

During this global pandemic, we have found out that our healthcare system is inadequate, that we do not have a unified plan for meeting the challenge of the next one or two – or who knows how many are out there? So we need to back up our hopes with planning and organizing and funding.

Being hopeful is a life habit for me – but hoping is never enough: it lights the way to the needed action, and keeps me going. Hope is the carrot dangling before us, but we have to do the chasing and the running!

Meanwhile, I am heartened by all the wonderful and kind and thoughtful activities that are arising all around us, filling the gaps our systems have left. But these generous and well meaning acts, especially triggered by the season, are not enough, and will not be sustainable for the entire year. The efforts of all, from the single five-year old to the centenarian, from the small groups to the major organizations – they cannot keep up the effort all year in addition to their regular functions.

So I look to our elected representatives who, after all, are our paid servants – to put our money to work for all of us over the long haul. There will always be those who fall between the cracks (the neighbors, friends, relatives, who need us) … There will never be a time when kindness and caring will not be needed – and I continue to hope that we all create a “caring zone” around us, wherever we are, and share our hopes with those near and dear to us.

Remember: “Hope springs eternal in the human heart!”

🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜🍜

MY ALLEN FLETCHER DREAM

By Rosalie Tirella

20201227_125911
Rose, December 2020

I fell asleep last night while reading … and woke up this morning remembering the weirdest dream: It was about ALLEN FLETCHER, the big cahoona behind Worcester Publishing, the son of the old T and G’s papa, and, finally, the $$$$ – dare I say visionary? – behind the Canal District, my old neighborhood of Green Island/Kelley Square. My childhood dream/night scape❤.

In my dream, Allen and I were, of course, in the Canal District. We were eating at some cheapo Chinese restaurant on New Year’s Eve! The Chinese restaurant looked exactly like the Chinese restaurant in the Billy Wilder film THE APARTMENT, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley McClaine and Fred McMurray. Fred takes Shirley to the Chinese restaurant, on New Year’s Eve (I think), in the movie. Terrific looking scene: paper lanterns strung from the ceiling, dancers on the dance floor, silly hats with confetti splashed on them atop neatly coiffed heads … the works!

In my dream, Allen and I are laughing together, old pals: We are interviewing each other for each other’s podcasts! Simultaneously!! So it is all very confusing – and silly. We are talking about EVERYTHING! Our conversation is wide-ranging, eclectic … literary, but not in the boozy sense. I don’t know if we touch on urban renewal, Jane Jacobs or even the Canal District! But we’re sipping fancy drinks with paper umbrellas in them and buzzed. A mutual admiration society!!! After all these years of … acrimony, weird stares on Millbury Street, sour pusses and my photos of the homeless a block away from Allen’s digs on Ash Street.

Then, all of a sudden, Allen gets up out of our booth and absentmindedly – like he used to at WoMag where I worked for him 25 years ago – just walks off. I stare at him, wondering …hmmm. Bathroom break? A visit to friends he’s seen at another booth? Allen is a such a social butterfly, flitting and flirting about … I wait … and wait…and wait…but Allen never returns to our booth.

No matter! I am ok. I sit happily in my booth in the Chinese restaurant of the Billy Wilder film, in the Canal District, nursing my fancy cocktail with the paper umbrella in it.

Happy New Years Eve, Worcester!

It’s not “IMPOSSIBLE”! DELICIOUS VEGAN lasagna!

Text and photos by Chef Joey

ICYumYums-final-for website
Joey!🍇🍞🇮🇹🍜🍝🎂🍰🍪

FullSizeR1
Joey’s Gigi! … You can also make vegan marinara sauce!

Having invited friends over for the holiday and realizing they did not need me gave me a chance to try out the IMPOSSIBLE meat – a plant-based, vegan alternative to conventional hamburger. It’s made from a bunch of vegetables – the majority is beets and carrots. It has a benign taste, but it resembles meat when you’re chewing it. I assembled a lasagna the way I normally would and baked it. To be honest, you couldn’t tell the difference!

It had a wonderful lasagna flavors and it wasn’t as heavy. What I did was the following:

I mixed the “meat”…
IMG_20321

IMG_20341

… with 1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup ground Parmesan cheese

2 cloves of mashed garlic

a teaspoon of fennel seeds

chopped parsley

and 2 eggs

I mixed it and then I fried this mixture in a little bit of sunflower oil.

I made my standard sauce …

image_123927839

… of 5 cloves of garlic and a handful of parsley that I purée in a nutri bullet

Plus 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds.

Then heat that up in a little sunflower oil

And add 4 – 28 oounce cans of ground tomatoes – stir in 1 can of water. Then I swish each can with and cook for about 2 hours . I then make a béchamel with 1/2 gallon of milk:

melt 1/4 stick of butter in a pan and add 3 tablespoons of flour and mix with a whisk and slowly add the milk and keep stirring over a low heat to keep it thick – add a 1/2 tsp of nutmeg set aside.

To assemble the lasagna take your large pan and add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom and sprinkle with bread crumbs … this stops the lasagna from sticking … place your lasagna noodles across the bottom …

IMG_18141

… – I prefer the no bake style.

Cover with sauce – add the entire meat mixture.

Then cover with a little more sauce and place the next layer.

IMG_20361

Cover with a slight amount of sauce and layer shredded mozzarella and sprinkle Parmesan over that – you can even add Asiago, if you want!

Cover with a bit more sauce add a layer of noodles and pour the béchamel over the top – let it set.

For a bit to let the noodles expand if you used the no bake – cover with foil and bake 350 for 25 mins, then uncover and cook another 10 min.

Insert a dull knife blade in the middle and pull it out. If the knife is warm, you are good to go. Let it sit for 5 mins before cutting – and enjoy!

GREEN ISLAND = CHRISTMAS!🌲❄⛄🐧❄

By Rosalie Tirella

I just made some apple crumble and cooked up a yam/?sweet potato. (Are they the same root veggie?)

20201226_112443
❄❄❄

The sweet potato is so orange and yummy. So tasty I don’t even sprinkle sugar/cinnamon on it. Fresh from the good earth.

These simple pleasures remind me of a few of the small Green Island winter wonders of my childhood: Hoodsies!! – which we kids used to get at Lamartine Street School, the day before Christmas, as we watched a fun winter Disney movie in the yellow-walled auditorium of Lamartine Street School. Mr. Chickarian, Mr. Gilman and grade 5 teachers coordinated it all – the teachers leaning against the side wall, chatting and joking with each other. We kids – all poor from the Green Island neighborhood – thrilled to be at “the movies”! A Christmas treat just for us! The movie was the same as last year’s, an old Disney movie; the metal folding chairs uncomfortable, but the otters sliding down the snowy slopes in the Disney movie made us kids – grades 4, 5 and 6 – laugh like crazy. Best of all there was no penmanship or phonics class. And we could eat – with that classic small flat little wooden spoon – our HOODSIES: teeny cups of Hoods vanilla and chocolate icecream – split right down the middle. Half the Hoodsie was chocolate, the other half vanilla! Delicious but so small, Mr. Chickarian (a great teacher whose daughter was my classmate at Burncoat High years later) gave the older boys in his sixth grade class two Hoodsies! No matter! We younger kids savored our treats: some at the chocolate side of their Hoodsie first, some dipped into chocolate and then vanilla (like me). At the end, you had a soupy chocolate shake at brought your Hoodsie to your lips to drink off the last bit of your ice cream treat.

We were so grateful! We – or many of us – came from broken homes, with an abusive (usually) dad or boyfriend. Ben’s Cafe was down the street, but even the snow on its sign and roof couldn’t cover up all the alcoholics or pi*sy smalls that emanated from it … Across from Lamartine the WPD still gad its minny jail – every year we Lamartine kids were taken to the jailhouse only yards away from school to tour a cell. To show us that this is where we’d land if we screwed up, broke the laws … I wonder if the students at Flagg Street School got such tours … The small upright sink, the toilet, the thick metal bars, the darkness…so anti-Christmas to little kids who long for Christmas every day!

20200925_112106
circa 1965, Rose’s cousin and Jaju!

I know I did! I SAW ALL THE MAGICAL GREEN ISLAND things, like all kids, even in the depths of February. For instance, Jimmy, the boy I had a crush on at Lamartine, lived on Winter Street. Off Green Street – now part of the chi chi Canal District. Back then it was lined with rundown three deckers, but I did not know that. I lived a ways on Lafayette Street. Jimmy was sooo cute – looked like the cartoon race-car driver in SPEED RACER! He had that jet black hair over his blue eyes – the Irish can have that beautiful look – and was so smart in class. A great reader, a fave with the teachers: yet tough as diamonds – walked to school, across Kelley Square, every day in all weather, with his big brother Pat. Jimmy rolled up his sleeves high up around his biceps. He had biceps! I never saw his parents – I think his big brother Pat – godlike in Jimmy’s eyes – brought him up. So, Jimmy was Winter Street as in magical, cute, precious street – Christmas. When my mother and my two kid sisters and I walked up Green Street to get to Downtown Woo, we’d walk by Winter Street and I’d feel toasty and warm – Jimmy’s street – and it would be Christmas. I imagined big snowflakes with 100 points, no one like the other: like my Lamartine Street School kids. The girl in grade 5…the very poor girl with red hair and freckles who showed us her big knife in the school yard. She had a pet guinea pig she brought to school once – and a boyfriend! Wow! Coolio! Special like Christmas, we kids thought!!

20200925_114245_HDR
Baby Rose and her mother, Cecelia.

Or the big big Santa next door to the drycleaners where my mother worked: Kiddie Castle (for rich kids) had the best Christmas display window – a 7-foot tall Santa waving to all passersby. Beneath him, girls and boys hats, scarves and mittens and wrapped gifts. By his side an animated Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with a real red light bulb nose. The light bulb was small – Rudy’s nose!!! Visiting our mother at the cleaners, we’d stop before the great big plate glass window and watch Santa, wearing a red luxurious red velvet and white fur trimmed suit, wave to us kids. And Rudolph was so cute – the size of a large dog (my wish for many a Christmases until Ma caved in and got us a puppy years later when we no longer believed in Chris Kringle).

20200925_110814
Rose, center, when she loved her latke and pigs knuckles! Her two kid sisters, pictured, were neutral!

Or the canned latke Ma would buy at Buelher Brothers Market up Millbury Street. More for Hanukkah, but Water and Green streets were still ethnic Jewish, many Poles like my mother and even some of the younger moms and dads crossed over and experimented with different Eastern European foods. The latke were easy to make: Ma just opened the can and slid out the white pasty latke roo and cut it into 1/4 inch slices and fried them in butter in her frying pan. Ma loved her latke, so did I. My kid sisters were neutral, often passing on this Cecelia Christmas treat. Sometimes Ma bought a jar of pigs knuckles – and ate them out of the jar, a delicacy. I’d eat one, too, paying no mind that they looked like little pigs feet…Pre-WOKE/PETA days!

Sometimes I’d just be walking home from school in winter, books in my knapsack, and feel Christmas-y. I was 9 and just starting to write little essays for the Telegram and Gazette’s HAPPY TIMES page. On Sunday, next to the “funnies,” you could read Worcester city kids’ best essays – and win new books for points (I think). Writing made me happy! What gifts would be under this little writer’s tree? Ma read all my essays – first out of kindness, then because she liked the stories I was telling her. Stories about my pet mouse Gigi, about my Polish grandmother Bapy, about books and trees and wolves howling outside my secret Prince, Jimmy’s, house on Winter Street. About the stamp collection Ma kept when she was 12 1/2 years old and went to work in Springfield with her sisters during the Great Depression. For a Bishop! They had cats and kittens and two beautiful Doberman pinschers – Rocky and Bridgette. And when my auntie played Christmas carols at the piano, Bridgette would sit by the piano and howl. It was Christmas!
20200925_114221
Bridgette❤❤❤❤

❤From Chef Joey: a Christmas Treat!!!❤

Text and photos by Chef Joey

BUCHE DE NOEL

image-2-1-768x1215
❤❤❤❤❤❤

This is my favorite cake ever – been making them for years!!!

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup confectioners sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake part:

6 egg yolks

½ cup white sugar

⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

⅛ teaspoon salt

6 egg whites

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Whip the egg whites until fluffy.

IMG_2038

Mix the egg yolks with sugar and 1/3 cup cocoa until fluffy …

IMG_2043

IMG_2037 (1)

IMG_2039

… fold in the whites spread on to a 10 x 15 cookie sheet.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
IMG_2041

Dust a clean dish towel with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel.

IMG_2044

Remove and discard parchment paper.

Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.

IMG_2045

Unroll the cake, and spread the filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate until serving.
IMG_2046
❤❤❤❤

Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

63053437175__FB5E3B67-8466-4AAD-A337-1AD8074100F4
❤❤❤❤

Merry Christmas!!🌲🌲🌲🌲❤

My Mom’s Christmas notebook

By Rosalie Tirella

I have been leafing through my late mom’s “Christmas notepad.” …

20201224_120558
❤❤❤

I bought it for her at the Christmas Tree Shop in Shrewsbury, 15 or so years ago, when I learned she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 81 – and had just been diagnosed … She became ill after she had chosen to stay in her little studio apartment by the Holden line during that horrific ice/snow storm that turned all of Worcester County into a white, crystal castle – with no electricity for a third of our residents. Telephone wires dripped with iridescent, five feet long icicles, people snow shoed to their neighbors house down the street. It was all mystical and gorgeous to look at, but treacherous to survive in … brutal to drive through … scores of thick black lines down. And NATIONAL GRID WAS SO SLOW in fixing things. I am convinced they were the cause of many old timers’ deaths …

My mom was probably one of the hundreds of Worcester County folks who got very sick/died because of that ice storm. No power at her complex!! No heat! No hot water! No electricity to run her oven/stove or refrigerator! … All the seniors at my mom’s complex chose to go to shelter with relatives or live, for a few days, in the gym at Doherty High School, the City of Worcester makeshift shelter for West Siders. My mother was the outlier – my strong-willed mother and her two Greek pals. They decided to tough it out. They were the healthiest of the 62 old folks at their seniors housing complex, so they were confidant … Four days later, four days of living in what amounted to a dark, freezing meat locker … the electricity was back on. My boyfriend at the time and I visited her twice a day – we pressed her to go to his house. He had gas heat. She was adamant: NO! THIS IS MY HOME!

… Health complications for the Three Amigos after the storm: Jane got blood clots and died four months later. Maria had to move in with relatives. And I assume my mom had something happen with blood clots, too, because she stopped being the smartest person in the room. She began asking me the same questions over and over again. Annoying! But when I found a chicken carcass in her stove’s broiler and not in the waste can by the kitchen sink, I called her doctor and made an appointment for her for a physical. Ma had a full medical work up: lungs, heart, mammogram, blood, urine, calcium level tests. Her doc told me: Cecelia has the early stages of dementia. Keep her as healthy and strong as you can – and call Elder Services of Worcester for visiting nurses aides, home health aides and MORE SUPPORT SERVICES so she can continue to live in her apartment for as long as possible. I did just that. I’d visit my mother every night to make sure all the cogs in this new machine rolled on …

And they did – for four years! And then Ma went into a nursing home where they over medicated her, killing her. Years later, I consider those four years of caring for Ma my noblest years! Some of my finest hours! It was so HARD – but I did it all: hugs and kisses, new dusters from Building 19, cute nighties for bed, McDonald’s take out coffee, fish and chips, the Turner Classic Movies cable TV channel … and those excellent home health aides and homemakers. Angels. They showered Ma, made her her farmer’s breakfasts, vacuumed her wall to wall carpet and more … My mother grew very attached to one young homemaker – buying her kids birthday, First Holy Communion and Christmas gifts. A beautiful friendship – until Ma’s dementia became MODERATE and she got more and more forgetful and hid her big porcelain dolls – standing on her TV set – in the closets and peed her pants more often than walk to her cute little bathroom to urinate. Even wearing Depends and me doing extra, and the help growing weary I knew it was time. When Ma fell over her cat April and landed in rehab, the docs recommended a nursing home …

So here are some pages from that time, Ma’s notebook, the early years, written in her straight, un-pretty penmanship … list, after mini list … I see so clearly my mother’s hard life in those thin note pages. Ma’s life: a series of to do lists so she, a single mim with three girls, could keep us all on track. Lists so she could get the right groceries to keep her girls healthy and strong. My mother was obsessive about the weather when we were young because we had no car and walked to school, church, work in the rain, snow, sleet, hail. We had to dress appropriately for the weather! I got awards at Lamartine Street School for “perfect attendance”! All seen today, again, in the palm of my hand: My mother a small woman swimming against grinding poverty, saved by her Catholic faith – and a will of steel … ans her daily to do lists, like what I see today:

“Lungs clear, blood pressure perfect … BUY MILK, ORANGE JUICE … Need qts for laundry … Buy eggs, cheese … Pay rent on 3rd … ”

20201224_120435

20201224_120204

20201224_120239

And at the end of those years, as Ma struggled against dementia and tried to hide it from me and the world, in her little Christmas notebook, she wrote desperate questions to herself: “Do I have money in the bank? … My telephone # [blank]” … or “today is Tuesday.”

20201224_120133

Missing my sweet, strong and loving mother this Christmas Eve!

20201224_120107
❤❤❤❤❤

20201123_102618
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤