THE CHEF’S CORNER WITH JOAN THORMANN: PLUM CAKE

PLUM CAKE (Zwetschgen Kuchen)

 from Joan Thormann

This is a special kuchen since it can only be made in late summer and autumn when Italian or prune plums are available.  It is also a beautiful cake, which always brings “ooohs” and “ahhhs” when served to someone who hasn’t seen it before or even those who had it the previous year.

When I  visited the Boston area German refugees  in the plum season, I  would be greeted with coffee and some variety of plum kuchen. This is the variety  that my mother made, and I think her recipe  is the best.

Murbe Teig Pie Crust for 2 round pies (8 or 9″ round)  or one 9″ x 13″ rectangle

4 oz butter (one stick)

4 oz sugar (½ cup)   ½

8 oz flour (1 ½ cup)

1 egg

12 to 14 medium sized prune plums for each pie dish

1 to 1½ tsp tapioca

Mix the crust ingredients together to form a ball, and put it in the refrigerator while preparing the plums.  This makes two pie crusts or one large pyrex dish of cookie sheet crust.

Cut one side of each plum along the seam line and remove the pit, keeping the two halves together.  Make two slices in each half of the plum, from the top to about half way down.

When finished slicing the plums, take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut it in half.  Butter the pie plate or spring form very well.  Flatten the dough out and then place in the pie plate.  With the heel of your hand and fingers spread the dough into the pie plate.  Poke dough with fork a few times.  Bake the dough for about 10-12 minutes at 350°.

Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with minute tapioca (about 1- to 1½  tsp), to absorb the plum juices.  Place the plums skin side down in the crust starting at the outer edges and filling the crust in circles.  Bake for about 15 minutes at 400° and then another 30 to 45 minutes at 350°.  The pie is done when the plum juices flow. It sometimes takes over an hour.

When you take the cake out of the oven, you may want to sprinkle it with sugar if the plums are not very sweet.  My mother always did, regardless of sweetness.  I like the tartness of the plums, so I never sprinkle it with sugar.  Try it both ways.

BOLLI member Joan Thormann
During her last five years teaching at Lesley before retiring, Joan ended up teaching teachers to teach online–by teaching them online.  If you know people who need help in this area, she shamelessly asks you to let them know they can find her book on Amazon. 
When Joan isn’t occupied with life maintenance, she paints watercolors, makes quilt tops, and listens to audiobooks. Two years ago, she started taking classes at BOLLI and enjoys learning from the SGLs and classmates.

PANDEMIC PROSE: HOME ON THE STRANGE

HOME ON THE STRANGE

by Barbara L. Jordan © 2020

Home is the yellow and turquoise 13-foot paddleboard that takes you gliding some summer mornings  in coastal Maine. Over fish, maybe even sharks, around Sow and Pigs Island, past the neighbors waving lazily from their deck chairs.

Right palm on the paddle’s handle, pushing downward as it moves you forward in upright bent-kneed posture, you are a black nylon wetsuit-clad figure below a wide-brimmed white hat protecting you from the cancer ray sun.

You are not at the gym in a mask.

Socially distanced from all sentient beings, it is not possible in this hour to spread or absorb one deadly viral particle unless there’s something you don’t yet understand about this disease.

And then Summer turns to Fall.

Your house is sort of a home, until you let in the servicemen whose face masks slip below noses or you deposit mail on the foyer bench to disinfect.

What used to be a casual run to the market for dinner ingredients is now a carefully planned “trick or treat” with personal protective gear and a “who’s behind that face costume?” guessing game.  Maybe you’ll recognize the hair, the eyeglasses, or bag and then struggle to communicate without sounding desperate and as tired as you are of all this.

Out out, damned virus. Go back home. Just don’t take up residence in my home, the body I felt at home in once, in late February but not so much in March and beyond.

In this land of the free, you on the Other Side are free to bare your face and spit at me, and do so every day, fearlessly, while I plan my exit strategy should the end come in November. Home of the brave no more, home to ever more raging cowards.

God Bless the few remaining spaces on water and land that aren’t yet destroyed by fire, rain, wind, and the demon leader with homely hair and the wife flaunting that she “really doesn’t care.”

There are no monsters, this is not yet Halloween. But there are more than 200,000 dead here in God Bless America, our home sweet home.

But we can’t kid ourselves.  Home is not safe anymore.

BOLLI member and writer Barbara (“Babs”) Jordan

Barbara is the founder of “Heavy Hitters Music,” an Emmy Award-winning publishing company which provides independent songwriting talent to the film, television and advertising industries. She is the author of “Songwriters Playground: Innovative Exercises in Creative Songwriting” and has taught songwriting and lyric writing at the Berklee College of Music and in workshops across the country. Her songs have graced the soundtracks of hundreds of television shows and feature films, including such productions as “The Sopranos,” “N.C.I.S.,” “Analyze This,” and “Being John Malkovich.”

HELPFUL HINTS FROM JOHN RUDY: Prescriptions

Prescriptions at a Good Price and with Added Safety

from John Rudy

About 2 years ago, I learned of a company called GoodRx.  It had been recommended to me by a Raytheon HR Director, so I assumed it was legitimate–and it is! Through GoodRx (and a prescription from my doctor), I was able to order medication bypassing my insurance company.  For one of my meds, Crestor, the price was about half of what CVS charged even with my insurance plan.  So far, I’ve saved over $200.

Recently, I heard about another company that does a similar thing: you put in your medication, your location, quantity, and dosage into their web page, and it tells you the least expensive places to buy it.  I was able to better my GoodRx price by about 30% and improve two other medications (where GoodRx wasn’t helpful) by about 30% below the insurance cost.

See https://www.americaspharmacy.com/medication

Through this site, you can print out a DISCOUNT DRUG COUPON which you take to the pharmacy.  For my three medications, the lowest cost in my area, tied with a few other places, was at my local Stop and Shop.  Given the high cost of many medications, it seems smart to look around for multiple options.

I recently received an email from Bruce Nogueira.  Many of you will remember him as an MSD HR manager and also as an ARR Board member.  One of the things he mentioned was that, occasionally, a pharmacy gives you the incorrect dosage of the med.  This can be due to either a doctor or a pharmacy error.  In either case, the wrong dosage could, of course, cause major problems.  I maintain a spread sheet with the correct values, and I always check when I receive a refill.  The worst case, and the one Bruce pointed out, was where the shape/size of the pill in the bottle was unfamiliar to him; luckily,  he  checked it out.  It was 10 times the correct dosage though the bottle was marked with the correct value!  Bruce then told us of a site to identify pills.

It is called https://www.drugs.com/imprints.php   Here is what the home page looks like:

The site offers additional services as well.

Be healthy and safe!

BOLLI Matters columnist and contributor John Rudy

In addition to his regular “BOLLI Matters” recipe offerings, John provides tech help and shares his findings when it comes to medical equipment and prescriptions.  Thanks, John!