NOVEMBER’S SENIOR MOMENT WITH LIZ DAVID: WHAT DO WE BECOME?

WHAT DO WE BECOME?

by Liz David

I have been “downsizing” my closets and dresser drawers–giving away coats, scarves, gloves, hats, sweaters.  I’ve been trying things on and then attempting to decide whether or not I will continue wearing that skirt, top, pant, sock, jacket, or shoe.  I have a medium-sized box stationed against the wall for objects that were on the bathroom window sill and around the Jacuzzi.  I’m eying things in our bedroom but haven’t made decisions yet.

Believe me, that doesn’t even touch the downsizing challenge.  The house is full of stuff that we’ve collected over the 45+ years we’ve lived here.  I’ve been told one has to be brutal about this process, and I’m trying.

Gradually, I’ve started cleaning kitchen cabinets, starting with the one under the sink and the rotating one next to it.  Eventually, I’ll get to the drawers.  The silverware drawer and the one that holds the “wraps” and “plastic bags” are okay, but don’t ask about the 3 junk drawers!   And now, I’m procrastinating about cleaning the oven.  Even with a self-cleaning model, the door has to be done manually.  Why bother? It just gets dirty again.  The carpets need cleaning, except for the one in the family room which should just be replaced.  The inside walls need painting.  Door knobs need scrubbing.  The dishwasher works but only runs the regular and heavy cycles.  Who needs light and china cycles anyway?  The clothes washer and dryer are fine, but don’t forget to turn the water faucet off when not in use.  I could go on and on, but you get the point. Oops!  I forgot to mention my precious books, Native American artifacts, and jewelry.

The exterior of the house is well maintained, thanks to the love of my life. It’s a “stately” looking house, gray with black shutters and a warm barn-red door which welcomes family, friends, pets, trick or treaters, and the occasional door-to-door salesperson. The lawn is a challenge. Some of the abundant trees have been cut down so they won’t fall onto the house in a hurricane or high wind storm.  Sad. I mourn when a tree is fallen.  Our back yard is bordered by acres of conservation land. I call it my emerald forest in Summer; glorious multi-colors in Autumn; newly fallen snow, fresh and clean, in Winter; Spring, well you know Spring buds–the world is born anew.

So, what does all this mean?  What do our possessions, our well-tended homes, and lawns become?  When we downsize, pare things down to a minimum, our abundance becomes the stuff of memory. When we move to a townhouse, condo, or lifelong living community, are we diminished?  What do we become?   What else is there to give away before we take up our final residence in a coffin or urn?

Ourselves!

We give generously of our wisdom, thoughts, feelings; we mentor the younger generation and our contemporaries. We argue, offer opinions, and listen attentively.  We volunteer.  We march for just causes. We meditate and pray.  We cry for and with our friends. We accompany them until they are no more. We love, and love, and love some more.

We give of ourselves to others and allow others to give of themselves  to us as we age, decline, and eventually melt back into the Universe from where we came.

Safe travels.

“Senior Moment” feature writers Eleanor Jaffe and Liz David

My passion is to help others to gain deeper understanding of themselves and the changes, losses, gains, and glories of aging. So, “grow old along with me–the best is yet to be.”

WHAT’S YOUR STORY? GOLF, OF COURSE

A recent Writers Guild prompt brought this bit of memoir from Steve Goldfinger–for the inveterate duffers in out midst.

Breaking the Ice:  Aye, There’s the Rib!

by Steve Goldfinger

After my early days of hacking around scrubby Dyker Beach, Brooklyn’s only public golf course, I found myself playing The Country Club in Brookline from time to time. Yes THE Country Club, sanctuary of Boston Brahmans plus a handful of their chosen. Its name said it all.

My friend Tom, a fellow academic and ardent golfer, was one of their chosen. A few times a year, he would ask me to join him for 18 holes at this preserve available to but three hundred or so, a far cry from Dyker Beach’s availability to three million.

This time, it was for only nine holes. It was mid-January and the temperature had warmed up to 35 degrees, toasty enough for golf freaks who hadn’t teed up a ball for two months. The Country Club contained an extra nine holes that were kept open year round for such freaks.

Tom brought along his son Jeff, now 15, who was getting interested in the game. I had played with Jeff before, liked him, and was glad he was with us.

The air was brisk and the round uneventful, until we reached the seventh hole. Jeff’s drive put him about 150 yards from the green. I saw him pull a 4 iron out of his bag for his second shot.

“Use 6 iron,” I said. “You’ve grown a lot, and a 4 iron is much too much club.”

But 15 year-olds often have minds of their own.  He stuck with the 4 iron, hit it cleanly, and watched it soar well over the green.

“Now, drop another ball,” I said, “and try a 6 iron.”

He did and hit the ball the perfect distance….but it veered off to the left and rolled onto a frozen pond. When we arrived at the pond’s edge, we saw the ball sitting there, ten feet away. Just sitting atop the glistening ice, waiting to be fetched.  And feeling guilty that it was I who had consigned this $1.25 ball to such a fate, it was I who decided that I should be the fetcher.

I had gone two steps onto the ice when the inevitable crack came, and I crashed, sideways.   I managed to stand up, the water above my waist.  So cold I couldn’t utter a word.  Tom and Jeff ran over to fish me out by extending an 8 iron for me to pull on.  I noticed bleeding from my wrist where it had been scraped by ice as I fell through. Even then, I could barely say a word.

I was the shivering wretch of the three, though, insisting we go to the next tee to complete the round. I had just read The Right Stuff, and this was going to be my John Glenn moment. Tom and Jeff were still laughing as I teed up my ball.  Then, when I tried to swing my driver, I was nearly felled by a horrifically painful crunch in my left rib cage. The technical name is crepitus, and it denoted a rib fracture. I tried to swing again but could use only my wrists to wave at the ball.

They escorted me back to the club house, bleeding wrist, broken rib, freezing torso, numb legs, sunken spirit.

I later asked Tom to petition the club’s Governing Council to post a sign alongside the pond on the seventh hole, to read:  “Here Goldfinger couldn’t walk on water.”

BOLLI Matters contributing writer Steve Goldfinger

Since joining BOLLI about two years ago, Steve has been writing.  He’s taken  memoir courses with Marjorie Roemer and worked on fiction with Betsy Campbell.  In addition, he’s stretched his creative muscles into the world of acting as an intrepid CAST player.

NOVEMBER CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOHN RUDY: THE TURKEY!

ROAST TURKEY

by John Rudy

This recipe, with some adjustments, came from Sally and Jimmy Weiner ~1985.  I believe it came to them from  WBZ daytime personality Dave Maynard.  The teaching lesson here is that, if any meat is cooked at too high a temperature, all the juices evaporate and the meat dries out.  (The same is true, by the way, for Prime Rib which I cook at 250° until the last 20 minutes.)

Use an 18-20# Turkey for ~ 12 hungry people which, depending on the amount of appetizers, may end up about half eaten.  I have very successfully used frozen turkey, and the closer to the holiday, the lower the price.  It takes about 5 days to thaw and might be more of the refrigerator is particularly cold.  They can be kept a few days in the refrigerator in the vacuum wrapping, so leaving more days for thawing is best.  I prefer to cook the stuffing outside the turkey though others like the turkey juice to infiltrate the stuffing.  The decision affects the cooking time.

  1. Season the turkey, inside and out, 24 hours in advance, and keep it in the refrigerator. I use salt, pepper and Lawry’s Season Salt.  Put 8-10 stalks of celery into the turkey cavity to provide extra moisture.  These will be discarded at the end of the cooking.
  2. Take out the neck, gizzard, liver and heart (and anything else they stuff in) and add another 2# package of gizzards. Boil them with salt and a chicken cube or two for at least 2 hours to make chicken stock. Remove the meat and boil it down by 50%.  This will be added to the pan stickings to make the gravy.  It is even better if you have left-over (frozen) gravy from a previous chicken or two. Put aside the liver for making paté. Pull the meat from the neck and cut the grizzle from the gizzard.  Chop everything finely and it can be added both to the stuffing and the gravy.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°. Turn to 325° when you put the bird into the oven.  If you have a new oven it will cool down too slowly so you might have to help by opening the oven door for a minute.
  4. Put cold butter slices inside the skin of the breast, if you can. Don’t cut the skin.  VERY IMPORTANT: cook breast side down for about 1.5 hours.  This is best done on a small cooking rack to keep the breast skin off of the bottom of the tray.
  5. Turn the turkey over. The easiest way to do this is by wearing rubber gloves.  Put aluminum foil over wings and drumsticks so that they don’t dry.
  6. Baste regularly (every ~20 mins) by ladling pan drippings onto the cheesecloth. It takes ~15 minutes /per pound to cook.  Remove the cheesecloth for the last 30 minutes to crisp the skin.
  7. Turkey is best if left to its final cooking with the oven turned off. Can be put back in for 20 minutes just before slicing, if it has been removed from the oven to bake other things.
  8. These times below are based on placing the whole turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and into a preheated 325 degree
 Weight of Bird  Roasting Time (Unstuffed)  Roasting Time (Stuffed)
10 to 18 pounds 3 to 3-1/2 hours 3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds 3-1/2 to 4 hours 4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds 4 to 4-1/2 hours 5 to 5-1/2 hours
24 to 29 pounds  4-1/2 to 5 hours 5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours

Stuffing

  • I prefer a combination of regular and cornbread stuffing. I use 1 bag (Pepperidge Farm) of each.  It requires about 30% more water than called for.  Make at very last minute so that it doesn’t have to be heated.  If absolutely necessary to heat, use the microwave so that the pan doesn’t burn!
  • Add pan-fried onions, pieces of celery (10-15 stalks chopped), and fresh mushrooms. The pieces of giblet (grizzle removed) and neck meat can be put through the grinder or can be chopped up and added to the stuffing.
  • I sometimes make oyster stuffing with about 1/3rd of the stuffing, by cutting up 4 to 8 oz of oysters and gently, VERY quickly pan-frying them in butter before adding them to the stuffing.

Gravy

  • Thicken the soup that was made with the giblets with roué. Roué: Take ¾ stick of butter and melt it and add ½ cup of flour while whisking.  Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts turning a light brown.  Then whisk the gravy into the roue.  Whisk continuously and bring to a boil.
  • Add the pan droppings after removing all of the fat. Add water to the pan, if necessary, to remove any pan stickings that are burned into the pan.
  • Bring mixture to a boil to thicken the gravy. Adjust the flour to the quantity of gravy.  I sometimes supplement the gravy with gravy from Boston Market or Neillios (Lexington), the only decent commercial gravies I have found.  I also save gravy from roast chickens (and freeze) for a month.

If all this is too much effort, and if you are the only one for Thanksgiving, an alternative is to make an origami turkey.  Here, thanks to MIT, is the method:

https://slice.mit.edu/2016/11/23/turkey/

Chef’s Corner feature writer John Rudy

 

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked vegetables in boil-able packages.)