Monthly Archives: November 2016

Rest in Peace, Aunt Barb

aunt-barba
On Sunday night, November 27, as my Aunt Barb and Uncle Lou were walking across a street, my aunt was hit by a speeding car which fled the scene after the horrific accident. She passed away the following morning, November 28, on their 52nd wedding anniversary. No words can ever express how much I loved her, and how her love for me healed my whole being.  Rest in peace, Aunt Barb.

Dear Aunt Barb,
I never knew anyone kinder or gentler than you
Your goodness shone brightly from the inside out
Your selflessness was your gift to all of us
Your caring attention which you so lovingly bestowed was unsurpassed
Your compassion, your beauty, and your purity was undeniable
I was so blessed to have been loved by you
So privileged that I held a special place in your heart
I adored you and cherished your opinion and your perspective
I saw a different Teri through your eyes
And I was ever thankful for your dignity, your calm demeanor
Your saintly way of helping me to see my specialness
I was looking forward to years and years with you
But life is cruel
And my future years with you are gone
You are forever missing from me now
The only thing I can cling to
Is the ever presence of your angelic spirit
And your resplendent soul
Rest peacefully
Watch over me Aunt Barb
And when you see my grandmother
hold her in your loving arms
until I see you both

Thanksgiving on Black Friday

thanksgiving2016a

Thanksgiving has traditionally been the one holiday where, like it or not, families get together, chow down, throw shade at each other, and oh yeah, give thanks.

Mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and every other iteration of family and friends travel here there and everywhere to get together for some clan time.

Some of this “time” will inevitably be dysfunctional, but we all still participate.

Why?

Because good, bad, or ugly, at the end of the—in this case—Thanksgiving Day, we’re all kith and kin together. Hopefully.

And if you’re fed up or irked by a particular family member, remember this:

Just because they look like you, doesn’t mean they are you.

As challenging and painful as the day might turn out, most of us are celebrating Thanksgiving with our peeps.

We can all agree on two Thanksgiving Day things: Some familial dysfunction, and a hassle getting to your destination.

And while we can maneuver around family characters, there’s no getting around the holiday traffic.

Traveling on Thanksgiving Day is plain old horrendous.

And if you come from a divorced family, or are married and or involved with someone, everyone puts the guilt trip on you to show up for their Turkey event.

How many families do you know who strictly adhere to the every other Thanksgiving rule?

Now that we’ve established that Thanksgiving already poses a real dilemma for many, and is a downright miserable holiday obligation for others, I have two questions for you:

A) Why stress out on the day set aside for giving thanks?
B) Who says Thanksgiving has to be on Thursday?

Several years ago my husband and I asked and answered A & B and came up with our own way of celebrating Thanksgiving: On Black Friday.

No traffic, no scheduling dilemmas, no disappointed families, you can work pretty much all day on Friday, and best of all? No turkey.

But okay, we might still dish out some dysfunction.

Below are some of my Black Friday recipes should you want to change it up next year!

deconstructed-thai-salad
Deconstructed Thai Salad
Serves 8

Dressing:
1 can low-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1/2 small lime
Splash of sriracha
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

Place all ingredients above in a blender until very smooth. Taste it to make sure you like the combo. If not, add more peanut butter, curry powder or siriracha. Then put it in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced and thickened about 10 minutes. Cool down completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Salad:
6-8 small seedless cucumbers sliced
1 head of iceberg lettuce chopped
I pint of red cherry tomatoes whole
1 pint of yellow or orange cherry tomatoes whole
6 hard-boiled eggs halved
2 cups bean sprouts
16 ounces firm tofu

Place lettuce in the center of a large square platter, and then line up the other ingredients above in a row. Serve with dressing.

standing-rib-roast
Perfect Bone-In Rib Roast
NOTE:  When ordering a Bone-In Standing Rib Roast, figure you will need one rib per two people. This will also  ensure plenty of leftovers.

So for 8 adults I ordered 4 Ribs (1/2 rack), approximately 8
pounds. The price for 4 ribs was $148.00.

Nobody said this was a cheap meal.

Bone In Standing Rib Roast – 4 Ribs (approximately 8 pounds)
1 stick butter, softened
Ground pepper
Kosher salt
Garlic powder

Place Rib Roast on a plate and bring to room temperature, about four hours.
Then place the meat in a roasting pan that’s slightly bigger than the roast itself.
Slather the whole roast with softened butter. Then add salt, pepper and garlic powder to the entire roast.
Preheat the oven to 350°F for at least 20 minutes.
The roast should be cooked at 350 degrees for about 2 hours to 2 ¼ hours, depending on your oven.
You will need to check the roast with a meat thermometer close to the 2 hour mark.
When the meat thermometer reaches 110 to no more than 120 degrees, the roast needs to come out of the oven (for a perfect combination of medium, medium rare and rare), regardless of how long the roast has been cooking.
Remember that the roast’s temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after you remove it from the oven so remove it 10  degrees before the desired doneness. There is nothing worse than an overcooked rib roast.
Once you remove roast from oven, tent it with foil but put a hole in the foil to keep the crispiness of the outside of  the roast.
Rest the roast for about 10 minutes, and no more than 15 minutes, to let the juices redistribute throughout the  Roast and still be nice and warm. Also, if you decide to pour the pan drippings over it, the roast will cook a little  more as well.
If the roast still isn’t cooked enough for your taste, you can always slice it and then put part of it back in the oven  to cook it more. Better to under cook it than to overcook it. And you don’t even have to put on the heat, but you  do need to watch it carefully.
The slices taken from the ends of the roast will obviously be the most done, and the middle will be the least done,  so you should be able to suit the preferences of everyone at the table.
Also, remove the rib bones and put them back in the oven on high to crisp them up and then place them around  your roast.

If you want to serve your roast with au jus on the side, save the drippings and see the recipe below!

aujus
Killer Au Jus
¼ cup beef fat drippings from your prime rib
1 ½ Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Beef broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt fat in skillet over medium high heat. Whisk flour into the beef fat, whisking constantly
while cooking, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
Pour beef broth into fat mixture, increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Boil mixture
until it thickens slightly, season with salt and pepper to taste.

broccoli-timbale-b
Broccoli Timbale
Serves 8

Ingredients:
4 Cups Broccoli florets
1-1/2 to 2 cups whipping cream
5 large eggs
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons chopped scallion (optional)
Nutmeg to taste (optional)

Steam the broccoli (florets only), for 4 to 6 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking or souffle dish, 6 to 8 timbale molds, custard cups, or ramikans (each holding about 1/2 cup). I used an 8 cup Charlotte mold, which has slightly flared sides, making it super easy to unmold my masterpiece.

Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the mold(s); place in the bottom of the mold and then butter the paper.

Then prepare the Timbale mixture:
Place and beat 5 eggs in a bowl.
Set aside 1-1/2 to 2 cups of whipping cream.
Place the cooked broccoli in a food processor or blender and process with the eggs and cream until smooth.
The amount of cream you use will make the mixture more concentrated or more custard-like. I like to use 2 cups.
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Add a pinch of nutmeg if using
Add the scallions if using.
Pulse to mix.
Carefully spoon the Timbale mixture into the mold(s).
Cook the timbales in a water bath: Place them in a baking pan just large enough to hold them, pour in very hot water halfway up their sides and carefully place in the oven. For 1/2-cup molds, cook 15 to 25 minutes; for a 2-quart mold, or an 8-cup Charlotte mold cook 35 to 45 minutes, or until just set.
Carefully loosen around the edges and invert onto a plate.
Tip: You can make the timbale up to 2 days ahead, either in the dish or unmolded. Reheat for about 10 minutes in a 325-degree oven before unmolding.

whipped-and-baked-potatoesc
WHIPPED AND BAKED POTATOES
Half of a 5-pound bag of potatoes
Whole milk or whipping cream
Lots of Butter
paprika

Peel and cut up potatoes and cook until done.
Put potatoes in mixing bowl and mash or rice well.
Add butter and milk or cream to taste and mix with a beater until potatoes peak.
Put potatoes into a casserole dish and top with paprika.
The potatoes can be put directly onto a 35o preheated oven or put into the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.

jello-fruit-compotea
AMAZING JELLO AND CRANBERRY COMPOTE
1 6 ounce package strawberry Jello
1½ cups boiling water
1 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
1 small can of mandarin oranges
1 small can of diced pineapple
1 small can of peaches (cut up in bite size pieces)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Stir cranberry sauce in bowl until very smooth. Blend with Jello and chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Fold nuts and fruit into a decorative glass bowl and chill until solid. You can decorate the top after it has set with some walnuts and mandarin oranges. I like to make a kind of flower design in the middle.
Serves 6

baked-smores-a
Baked S’Mores
1 package golden sugar cookie mix (Betty Crocker)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 milk chocolate bars (5 oz. each)
1 7 oz can marshmallow Fluff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8”x8” square pan. Combine cookie mix, (with butter if it calls for it), egg and water in large bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended. Divide cookie dough in half. Press half the dough evenly into bottom of pan. Place each chocolate bar evenly into the pan. Take a clean tablespoon and wet it. Then take the back of the spoon and spread marshmallow crème to cover the chocolate. Drop the remaining cookie dough by tablespoonfuls on top of marshmallow crème. Spread lightly with back of clean spoon. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool at least three to four hours before serving. Cut into squares.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Times They Are A-Changin. But What About Us?

changes-us-elections

As I drove to my kickboxing class yesterday, Bob Dylan’s iconic song, The Times They Are A-Changin came on the radio.

Dylan’s call for change, written in 1963, couldn’t have been more prophetic. Less than a month after Dylan recorded the song, President Kennedy was assassinated.

I remember the first time I heard his haunting song about change, which was released in 1964. It came at a troubling time in American history. It seemed like our entire country had gone haywire.

Kennedy was dead.

His alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot to death on national television.

Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique catapulted the feminist movement.

The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer.  

Union leader Jimmy Hoffa was convicted of jury tampering.

Black teenager James Powell was shot and killed by a white off-duty police officer in Harlem, NY, prompting 8,000 people to take the streets, smashing windows, setting fires, and looting local businesses.

President Johnson launched a full-scale war against North Vietnam without securing a formal declaration of war from Congress.

In a collective act of defiance against the war, students burned their Vietnam draft cards and declared, “We won’t go!”

The FBI finally found the bodies of the three missing Freedom Summer volunteers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, buried in a Mississippi earthen dam. Local officials refused to prosecute the case, causing federal investigators to step in.

The People’s Republic of China successfully tested a nuclear bomb, making it the fifth nation in the World with nuclear capabilities.

And Senator Barry Goldwater was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, placing his conservative agenda in direct opposition to more moderate Republicans and declaring in his acceptance speech: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

We will never know how different our country would be today had Goldwater won the election.

As I write this blog and look back on the events following the assassination of President Kennedy, I am reminded that time indeed marches on and maybe it even heals all wounds. I said maybe.

But, our country more than survived the tumultuous and turbulent 1964. What seemed like a doomsday year was just a tiny blip on the American screen. So I still have faith in America and my fellow Americans.

And yet here I was driving to a workout, 52 years later, with Dylan’s resonating words and gravelly voice covering me in a blanket of anxiety—and goose bumps.

Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing

Yes, indeed, times they are are a-changing. In ways that I both fear and welcome.

Let’s get to the bloody changes already. Because I am sick and tired of all the political ugliness.

And yes, in some ways I wish the media would change their monotonous tune. Because I’m sick and tired of all the spin spin spin for the sole purpose of ratings ratings ratings. And yet ratings aside, the media serves as an all-important watchdog. We all need to be vigilant in the coming days and months—including the press. Our lives and country depend on our vigilance.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon

For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no telling who that it’s naming

As I listened to Dylan’s soul searching song, it felt like he was singing about me. About 2016. About us.

And he had me captive audience in my ten-year-old car, asking myself a lot of things like:

Will Trump be receptive to moderating influences or will he merely listen to the last person he speaks to?

Will Trump do all the frightful things he said he would, to satisfy and appease his constituents, or will he reconsider his promises and do what is best for all Americans?

And Trump has on so many occasions bloviated, “We’re going to have so many victories, you will be bored of winning.”

Will we win? What if we don’t? And who is we? Am I part of the we party?

Will I be a bored loser or a bored winner?

For the loser now will be later to win
Cause the times they are a-changing

On the bright side, there’s always the 2020 election, which will start gearing up in early 2018.

Hell, for half the country it began on November 9.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of it all. Maybe our elected officials are tired too.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s the battle outside raging
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changing

And what about us as friends, family, strangers? How about us as fellow Americans?

How will we treat those who we have hurt us and who we have disagreed with? Will we be receptive to change? How will we react to policies that may not be best for all Americans? And how long will all this changing take?

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
Cause the times they are a-changing

There is thankfully no deadline for mutual empathy, understanding, acceptance, or mending fences.

As I sadly hummed along with Dylan, all kinds of doom and gloom ran through my head. But then I thought back to 1964 and hummed it hopeful all the way to its end.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slowest now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changing

 

BINGO!!!!!

bingo

I fretfully fell asleep around 2 am yesterday morning, pretty much knowing Hillary Clinton had lost the presidential election, but praying for an electoral miracle.

I awoke at 3:30 am, and immediately morphed into a fretting-over-the-election-result-mode mess.

And to my chagrin and innermost fear—CNN confirmed the worst possible scenario: my girl Hillary was out.

Trump had obliterated my dream of witnessing the first woman president.

To be honest, I was devastated, paranoid, and unsettled. I sleepily turned to my rock solid husband and uneasily queried “Are we going to be okay?”

My husband, ever the pessimist answered, “We’re out of here already. It’s not our problem any longer. It’s for our kids and grandkids to worry about.”

His answer didn’t make me feel any less anxious, although it did allow me to fall back asleep.

Because my husband had so assuagingly, put it plain and straightforward.  We’re out of here already. It’s not our problem any longer.

To be clear, it takes a lot to rattle me. As far as I’m concerned, bad things happen to other people.

Simply stated, bad things don’t happen to my family, or me.

So why was I frantically asking my husband if “we” would be okay?

At 8:30 am, as I rolled out of bed, I painfully remembered the election loss, and cursed the day.

As I willed myself forward, I couldn’t help but obsess:

We’re doomed.  World War III is upon us. Trump is going to deport all of the Hispanics.  No one will have medical insurance.  Roe v. Wade is going to be eradicated.  My too-close-to-Jamaica-Bay house is going to float away.  The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School will never be vindicated.

I was in a funk. Yet I tried to put on a good face and make like I wasn’t crushed.

I listened to Hillary’s concession speech.

I cried.

I hung on every word as President Barack Obama congratulated President-elect Donald Trump, vowing to work with his team to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

I cried.

The only thing I had to look forward to was Bingo Night at 7 pm, organized by the New Horizon Counseling Center (NHCC), one of the largest non-profit providers of community-based mental health services in New York City, and extending their reach to residents of Nassau County.

Thank God for bingo.

As I attempted to shut out the noise of pundits, the media, the surrogates, I willed myself to think about Bingo Night and the incredible services that NHCC provides for mental health issues, developmental disabilities, alcoholism and substance abuse.

And since many of NHCC’s patients can’t afford treatment, I couldn’t help but stress over what would happen to NHCC when Trump is in charge. I quickly shoved that shuddering thought out of my Trump traumatized mind.

I was hell bent on enjoying a night of bingo.

Participate in a mindless game of chance, while imbibing in a glass or two of Chardonnay.

Chow down on some fund-raising food and hang out with a few friends.

No thoughts of glass ceilings, lost elections, Mexican walls, waterboarding, or locker room talk.

Plain old easy breezy bingo.

When I walked into the Lawrence Country Club, I spotted an old friend. We talked about the election, the disappointment, the fear, the unknown, the future.

And then we talked about her daughter.

She was hooked on opioids. She tried like hell to get help. But in the end, the addiction got the better of her. She died.

“I wish I could see her one more time,” she said to me through tears.“ She would have loved to be here and play bingo.”

No bingo or future for my friend’s daughter.

I grabbed her arm, and we walked to our table.

Bingo we would play.

Better than thinking about the rest…