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FROM CHEF JOHN RUDY’S CORNER: GELATO

GELATO 

By John Rudy

In Sicily and Rome, you never see the words “ice cream.”  I don’t know why gelato has not totally caught on in the United States as most Americans who visit Italy fall in love with it.  We did an important study while on our trip to Sicily and Roma, and we rated the gelatos at about 8 difference places.  The best got a 9.5 on the “Mir Scale.”  The worst got a 7 (except for one at a hotel).

Good ice cream, as we all know, has a very high fat content.  The best ice cream is about 2:1 heavy cream to milk, plus egg yolks, and sugar, which is heated until the sugar dissolves.  It is then cooled and beaten (while kept cold) which introduces air (sometimes a lot) into the mix.

Gelato starts out with a similar custard base but has a higher proportion of whole milk and a lower proportion of both cream and eggs (or it may have no eggs at all).  Over-ripe fruit should be used for the best flavor.  The mixture is churned at a much slower rate, incorporating less air and leaving the gelato denser and smoother than ice cream.  Vanilla gelato contains about 90 calories and 3 grams of fat, compared to the 125 calories and 7 grams of fat in the average vanilla ice cream.

Gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream, so its texture stays silkier and softer; it remains dense, though, due to the lack of air.  Because it has a lower percentage of fat than ice cream, the main flavor ingredients really shine through.  PBS traveler Rick Steves says that gelato should not be stored for a long time–preferably, in fact, for only a day or two.  So eating a lot is emphasized!

Here is a recipe for chocolate gelato, my favorite.

2¼ cups whole milk

⅓ cup heavy cream

¾ cup sugar, divided

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

4  extra-large egg yolks

2 tbsp coffee flavor liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

pinch kosher salt

8  chocolates, roughly chopped, optional but really good

  1. Heat the milk, cream, and ½ cup sugar in a 2-quart saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the milk starts to simmer.  Add the cocoa powder and chocolate; whisk until smooth.  Pour into a heat-proof measuring cup.
  2. Place the egg yolks and the remaining ¼ cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and very thick. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Pour the egg and chocolate mixture back into the 2-quart saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.  A candy thermometer will register about 180° F.  Don’t allow the mixture to boil!
  3. Pour the mixture through a sieve (to remove any inadvertent lumps) into a bowl and stir in the coffee liqueur, vanilla, and salt. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and chill completely.
  4. Pour the custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. Don’t over-beat.  Stir in the roughly chopped chocolate, if using, and freeze in covered containers.  Allow the gelato to thaw slightly before serving so it is not hard.

And enjoy!

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

Tech guru, inveterate traveler, and home chef 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.)

MEMOIR: DEAR TOM

BOLLI Writers Guild Prompt for December 5th, 2019 – Write a eulogy for a close friend or family member

DEAR TOM

by Marty Kafka

12.5.2019

Dear Tom,

You were probably not expecting to hear from me so soon.

After all, we only recently became rather intimately acquainted, and yet, I feel you are a part of my family now. I have even wondered if it could be some of your brethren running around my neighborhood, acquainting themselves with my hilly backyard.

Perhaps I met you personally in the recent past, chasing you away with a broom when you and your unruly gaggle tried to peck at my pant leg. Imagine that, right outside my back door. What Chutzpah! If that was you, I apologize; although if I think about it seriously, it is a bit too late for my indulging in sincerity. If you happen to be listening in right now or even reading this memoir from your perch in Turkey Heaven, please don’t choke on the seeds and grass you are nibbling on.

Well Tom, I am not the first to have tasted the delectable legs and crispy wings you provide.  And oh, that white breast! You probably can’t appreciate that you are so very delicious. Add home-made stuffing, mashed yams, green beans, and gravy made from your own body’s fat and giblets.  You are a Thanksgiving party in my mouth.

I could embellish your species’ reputation by claiming that you are a self-sacrificing breed, but we would both know that is a bold-faced exaggeration, like the kind our President recites frequently. Nor could I claim that I sacrificed you painlessly using a knife, gun, or other instant-kill weapon. Tom, you were frozen long before we brought you home and Karen packed your hollowed inner cavity with her family recipe for stuffing. Karen and I, as well as Julie and Stetson, feasted heartily at your expense this Thanksgiving. Thanks.

Your brethren have a long history here in Massachusetts, and as far as my family goes, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say we have always been wild about turkeys. We’ve been celebrating your kin for several generations, especially in Novembers.

We celebrate you, Tom, for your generosity of spirit, poor flying skills, and relatively low IQ (even for a bird0. You are easy prey for us human predators. The qualities you embody are endearing to us.

So, Tom, until we meet again, Good Cluck to you and your family.

Best in Health,

Marty

BOLLI Member Marty Kafka
Marty Kafka is a retired psychiatrist whose passions include his wife Karen and their family, international travel, and jazz piano. 
In addition, Marty has found a retirement career taking BOLLI classes, writing memoir, and being active in the Photography special interest group.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEMOIR FROM DENNIS: MY FRIEND ELOISE

MY FRIEND ELOISE

by Dennis Greene

             Near the end of her life, Eloise Pina was recognized and celebrated by the City of New Bedford for her lifelong leadership and dedication to the community.  Huge portraits of New Bedford’s historic personages hang in the grand meeting room of the New Bedford Public Library, and Eloise’s likeness is among them, the only woman.  At her induction ceremony, Eloise said, “I don’t know all the answers, but when I was nine years old, I met Elizabeth Carter Brooks, and she said to me, I hope you grow up to serve God and the community.”  Eloise fulfilled her idol’s hopes and then some.  She was recognized nationally as a leader of numerous church and community organization as well as a loud voice for compassionate change. But I was only 13 when I first met her, and I just knew Eloise as my mother’s friend.  Soon, she also became my friend.

When we first met, Eloise was a practical nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital. She was the de facto supervisor of her department, but because she lacked the requisite credentials, she was not officially recognized or compensated for her role. To earn extra money for her family of six, she helped my mother with housework a few days a week. I remember her as always energetic and optimistic, with a bright smile and a big laugh.

My fondest memory of Eloise is in our garage, near my weight bench. I was a freshman in high school and still only 5’ tall and 100 pounds. I loved sports and was trying to get big enough to be a high school athlete, but I wasn’t growing and was discouraged.  Eloise sometimes did bench presses with me, and, sensing my concern, she assured me that I was perfectly normal and that it was her professional opinion as a nurse that I was about to grow. I trusted her and stopped worrying. Sure enough, I grew eight inches that year and was able to become a mediocre high school basketball player who earned a varsity letter, my proudest accomplishment.

Eloise didn’t work for my mother very long because Mom convinced her to take the courses she needed to get her nursing credentials. A year later, Eloise got her promotion, and we lost a housekeeper. But she remained our dear friend.

Over the years, I heard much more of her amazing story.  As a young child, she lost her three sisters in a house fire.  The only child to survive,  she was in and out of hospitals for almost three years.

Eloise’s eldest child had a different last name and might have been born out of wedlock.  I never asked the details, but Tony and Eloise raised her with the same love and care as their other kids, and Millie grew up to become a minister.  One of Eloise’s sons was a superstar, but the other was a problem.  When his crack addict girlfriend gave birth to Eloise’s granddaughter, she drove her old car up to Dorchester, forcibly took the baby back to New Bedford, and raised her.  I don’t know about the legalities, but I do know that it was hard to stand up to Eloise when she thought her path was righteous.

Eloise was a prolific letter writer who frequently expressed her strong and well-reasoned opinions as “Letters to the Editor” in the New Bedford Standard Times.  Through her letters, she became recognized as a familiar and powerful voice in her community.  She believed that one person could make a difference, but she also knew that leading groups of voices could make change even more possible. She spent much of her life inspiring, organizing, and leading such groups.

In the late 60’s, packs of young rioters from New Bedford’s smoldering black neighborhoods were vandalizing the city’s downtown area.  Eloise and her group of churchwomen stood  in front of their beloved Grace Church, defiantly refusing to let the rioters approach.  Grace Church survived the riots unharmed.  When I asked Eloise how she had been so successful when so many other similar groups had failed, she told me it was God’s will.  But, she added with a wry smile, she had known many of the rioters since they were little boys–and they knew she still spoke to their mothers.

Eloise was one of the most devout people I have ever known, and I loved her.  I believe she loved me back–and forgave me for being a pagan.

 

“BOLLI Matters” feature writer Dennis Greene

Dennis spent five years as an engineer and then forty as a lawyer–and sixty as a pop culture geek and junkie.  He saw “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in 1951 when he was seven and has been hooked on speculative fiction ever since. 

 

 

 

TECH TALK WITH JOHN RUDY: SOCIAL MEDIA MODERATORS

SOCIAL MEDIA MODERATORS:  NOT AN EASY JOB

by John Rudy

Ever since the last presidential election, there has been considerable discussion about what limits should be placed on content made available through Facebook, YouTube, and other social media platforms.   Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and others have been castigated for not doing enough to delete inappropriate content.  Of course, the word “inappropriate” is not viewed identically by everyone.  And, of course, there is the fact that we do take pride in our right of free speech.  The murders in New Zealand a few months ago added another dimension to this discussion as the government insisted that all video of the murders be instantly deleted.

What has not been discussed is the role that thousands of lowly paid employees perform in order to help these social media platforms to monitor or self regulate the nature of their content.   This article helps us to better understand what these social media moderators must do on a daily basis.

https://www.theverge.com/2019/2/25/18229714/cognizant-facebook-content-moderator-interviews-trauma-working-conditions-arizona

As everyone knows, it is very easy to post material to any of the social media sites. https://www.internetlivestats.com/twitter-statistics/ says that there are over 500 million Twitter posts per day.  https://blog.microfocus.com/how-much-data-is-created-on-the-internet-each-day/ says that “more than 4 million hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every day, with users watching as many as 5.97 billion hours of those videos on a daily basis.”  In addition, 67,305,600 Instagram posts are uploaded each day.  And over 2 billion people, monthly, become active Facebook users.

It is impossible, at this point, for social media moderators to view all of that material for “inappropriate” content.

Just thought you’d want to know as you think about how this might be constrained.

BOLLI “Matters” feature writer John Rudy

A long-time technology expert and guide, John provides his helpful hints in this monthly BOLLI Matters feature.  In the comment box below, provide John with questions,  comments, or suggestions for future tech items to cover. 

 

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND? MEASLES

MEASLES

by Bobbe Vernon

Last week, my 22-month old great-grandson Carter erupted in an itchy rash, head to toe.  He was miserable!  And I immediately thought about measles.   He had had his first measles shot, but two are required, and he is not yet old enough for the second shot.  And how would such a young child contract the disease these days anyway?

Unfortunately, today, more American children are contracting mumps, measles, and rubella than they have for decades.  And one reason seems to be  the misguided, incorrect belief of some parents that vaccinations can cause autism.

This episode reminded me of my own experiences with measles. When I was in the seventh grade, my younger brother Stevie came down with measles.  I caught it from him, and so did our mother, even though she had had measles as a child.   And despite being sick, she got out of bed to scrub the entire bathroom before our beloved pediatrician Dr. Green made that house call.  Even he couldn’t understand how she could have contracted the disease after having had it as a child.

A year later, Stevie contracted measles again.   Dr. Green said he wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen my brother’s first case with his own eyes.  At the time, I was in the eighth grade, and, as a serious student, I did not want to be quarantined with my brother.  So that I wouldn’t miss school, I stayed at my Aunt Clara’s house while Stevie was ill, but Dr. Green warned, in no uncertain terms, that, if I felt that I was getting sick, I was to go straight home instead of to my aunt’s house after school.  Yup, that happened!  Mommy, Stevie,  and I were the only people he had ever heard of who had measles more than once.   I still feel guilty that his son Dicky, who sat next to me in school, caught the measles from me…

At any rate, it turned out that my great grandson Carter did not have the measles after all, and he is back at his Montessori school, where he probably contracted his itchy virus in the first place.  We can now stop worrying that baby Tucker, who is one month old, will catch the measles from his big brother!

BOLLI Member (and long-time Scene-iors player) Bobbe Vernon

“18 months after my husband passed away, I heard about BOLLI and decided to try something new .  That was in 2008, and I have been taking classes and enjoying new friends at BOLLI ever since. In the past, I have been a dressmaker, a math teacher, and, since 1976, I have been with Mary Kay Cosmetics (driving my Mary Kay pink Buick!), still not ready to stop making people feel great about themselves.”

 

IN MY OPINION: HEADLINES

HEADLINES

by Eleanor Jaffe

During the months of preparation  for my five-week BOLLI course, “Crisis on our Border,” newspapers headlined stories of increasing inhumanity perpetrated by our government.  From attempts to ban Muslims and immigrants from “s-hole” countries to separating parents from their small children, denying asylum, and more, newspapers like The New York Times covered the calamitous news. And the news revealed that the leadership of this nation was without moral compass.

No more rapists and gang members and drug lords would be allowed to come to the U.S. to prey upon American citizens.  “It’s a national emergency!” President Trump declared before closing down the government so that his wall could be built.  “Let’s draw money from the Pentagon budget so that the wall can be built!  Let’s send troops to the border and shoot migrants if they attempt to cross!  Let’s close asylum posts!”  But, most of all, let’s dehumanize these dark-skinned people who, for the most part, don’t speak English.

Let’s rule out domestic violence as a reason for women and children to flee.  Let’s forget about the murders in the streets of Honduras and Guatemala, the rampant drug gang violence in Mexico, the drafting of young boys into gangs that roam with impunity, the forcing of young girls into prostitution.

For months, as I prepared, I clipped hundreds of newspaper articles that chronicled the heinous situation on our border.

How can we explain why so many Americans fell “hook, line, and sinker” for this hateful rhetoric and supposed “national emergency?”  How were they able to convince themselves that these human beings did not deserve humane treatment by our government?  The answer can’t be that they didn’t want to have their tax dollars spent on them.  After all, millions have gone to incarcerating asylum seekers and children in “for profit” private jails. Even more millions have been spent sending these people “back to where they came from” or to the first countries they trudged through outside their own.  Too many Americans seem to have forgotten the immigration stories their own grandparents told them.  That was then.  This is now.  We are “full up.”  There is no more room in the United States.

My class ended a few weeks ago, but, suddenly, so did the headlines.  The media shifted attention to impeachment, to the betrayal of the Kurds, and to other outrages.  Articles about the crisis on our border have vanished.  Why so fickle?  Many thousands still suffer. No solution has been found–or even suggested.  Do people need new titillations to satisfy their appetite for disasters?  If so, we have a president who will happily feed their ravenous maws.

BOLLI member and SGL Eleanor Jaffe

Eleanor also serves as leader of BOLLI’s “Make a Difference” Special Interest Group.  Watch “BOLLI Matters” as well as the Bulletin for announcements of the group’s meetings and activities.  All interested members are welcome to attend.

BELATED VETERANS DAY REMEMBRANCE: EULOGY

EULOGY

By Karen E. Wagner

I’ve seen people

fight wars,

die too young,

die in pain,

and worse,

live too long

while memories sustain

failed bodies.

 

My battles have been

fiercely fought

with blows hand-to-hand,

more to come,

in these few years ahead.

 

I read of heroes,

mold my life in kind,

think none match too closely,

pick highlights

to mimic.

Tend to scars

as battle wounds,

regard retreat

as survival,

bury the young

and pieces

of my soul with them

until I’ve given

it all away.

 

I think back

to what damaged

my faith

in man,

like a soldier shot

in battle, pushed again

to the front line,

with only a leg wound.

I remember briefly

those who expired,

collect

their shattered souls

before time

turns

them to compost.

 

I heave my burden

over life’s hurdles

reach the many shrines

to the fallen,

return

the shards of souls

to their proper remains.

When I finish my task my days

will be over,

I’ll leave my scar-ridden,

soulless body

beside the headstones

of heroes.

 

MAKE A DIFFERENCE SIG: CONSIDER THIS…

CONSIDER THIS…

By Rita Aberbach, Make a Difference SIG

Elie Wiesel said that “Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”

Almost every day, we read about the suffering of migrants and would-be asylum seekers on our border, in “camps” just inside Mexico, or on the U.S. side of the border. We hear of children being taken from their grieving parents and placed haphazardly around the U.S.  We also read about the undocumented here in Massachusetts and their fears of deportation.

Many organizations exist to assist would-be asylum seekers to find justice in the courts; others relieve suffering through donations. Following is a list of some of these organizations. Please consider including one or more of them among your charitable donations this year.

Organizations working with asylum seekers at our southern border:

A.C.L.U. – American Civil Liberties Union

Annunciation House

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center

Florence Project—-Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project

RAICES – Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services

Bend the Arc

Our Revolution

Church sponsored groups like Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Kids in Need of Defense

Asylum Seekers Advocacy Project

Act Blue — supports 8 organizations

Jen Hoffman’s “Citizens of Conscience” — what you can do….weekly suggestions, on-line

Organizations servicing worldwide refugees:

USA for UNHCR – U.N. Refugee Organization

International Rescue Committee

Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)

Save the Children

Doctors Without Borders

Oxfam International

Organizations in Massachusetts:

American Civil Liberties Union, “Families Belong Together”

Beyond Bond and Legal Defense Fund (raises bond money and supports people in local ICE
 detention centers

New Sanctuary Movement — synagogues and churches (housing for undocumented immigrants in the area

La Communidad

MA Jobs with Justice

 

NOTE: Many thanks to Eleanor Jaffe who compiled this list for her class “Crisis on Our Borders.”

BOLLI JOURNAL UPDATE!

Our deadline for submissions passed at the end of September, at which point, we had a record number of pieces, both literary and artistic, from a host of BOLLI’s creative members.   Over 200 items from 78 members!

We are both thrilled…and dismayed.  Thrilled because of the array of material…but because we can only take, at most, 60 items, we are dismayed because it means that we are not going to be able to include something from everyone in this year’s volume.   Instead, we have been hard at work selecting pieces that we believe offer something for everyone!

So, at this point, we have made our initial literary selections but have not yet notified those writers as we need to set up a draft of the volume in order to determine exactly how many pages we can devote to their work.  While that drafting is in progress, the group is now working to narrow down the art and photography submissions.

If you submitted literary material to us and have not yet heard from us, that means your work is in that group of selected items.  If you submitted art and/or photography, we are making those selections at this time.

We so appreciate your patience as we dig through this veritable treasure trove–and you should hear from us before the end of this calendar year!

 

A SENIOR MOMENT FROM DONNA: GIVE US A BREAK

GIVE US A BREAK

by Donna Johns

Stuck in the house waiting for a repair, I sat down with a cup of coffee to watch Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress.  He was, as I expected, clear and to the point and very “lawyer-y.”  He kept flipping through that 400 page report to verify his answers.  And he looked a tiny bit annoyed. I’m sure he would have preferred to be fishing, or reading, or just about anything that did not involve being thanked for his service and attacked for his findings. They mercifully gave him (and me) a break after 90 minutes.

Returning to the television, the talking heads were analyzing his performance:

“He seems confused.”

“He keeps shuffling papers.”

“Is he ill?”

As I am wont to do when confronted with idiot talking heads, I began to yell at them. “Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out he’s hard of hearing! He’s not sick. He’s just 75. Give him a break!” I watched the second morning session, paying closer attention to the man. Sure enough, when asked a question, Mueller tilted his head to hear better. He probably has one good ear and one that is trashed. We see it at BOLLI all the time.

Shuffling papers?  He was very precise when he found the relevant portions of his report.  He just took his sweet time finding them. At his age, many of us can’t find our keys, eyeglasses, or the shopping list we wrote last night. I thought it was admirable that he actually found anything in those two massive binders.

That got me thinking of all the criticisms we face as we age. Our children are chronic offenders but it comes from just about everyone. Rather than shrugging off our little idiosyncrasies, there is a tendency to try to fix us, as if we were broken.  Nope, not broken…just different. Raise your hand if any of these ring a bell.

  • “I got stuck behind a Q-Tip driving 20 miles per hour. Why are they still on the road?”  Answer: How much damage can I do going 20 miles per hour? Also…need groceries.  Also, what’s your hurry?
  • ” Can’t you hear me? Why don’t you pay attention?” Answer: You mumble. And frankly, if you can’t speak up, why do I have to pay             attention?
  • ”Why are you taking so long to (fill in the blank)?” Answer:  After a lifetime of hurrying, I’m enjoying a more leisurely pace. Also, how            important is (fill in the blank) anyway?

Aging is a daily challenge, and most of us do it with dignity. Perhaps the young-uns need to appreciate our uniqueness and quit diagnosing our “shortcomings.” Move on…nothing to fix here!

BOLLI Matters feature writer Donna Johns

Donna is a teacher/librarian, writer of unpublished romance novels, sometime director of community theater and BOLLI member. She has two fantastic faux knees which set off the metal detectors at Fenway Park.