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Recording Treasured Family Recipes

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

I have become more diligent in recording old family recipes. Utilizing a computer, it is easier to store and preserve recipes, sending a printout when another family member is searching for one in par­ticular. When my husband’s family came from Eu­rope, they brought with them the wonderful traditions of their homeland. Most of these reci­pes were made “by heart” and not written down. Luckily, some of the younger generation started to record the recipes by watching their parent or grandparent as the food was being prepared.

My mother-in-law was pleased when we were first married and I asked her to teach me to make my husband’s favorite dishes. I watched her cook, wrote down exactly what she did and bought the same ingredients, yet it never tasted the same as when she made it. Mine was good, my husband would as­sure me, “but not as good as my mother’s.” This didn’t bother me because I agreed with him! Realizing I can come close to the original is now all I can be con­tent with, and the most important fact to remember is that we have the recipe ready to pass along.

One cousin was a great resource for any recipe we wanted to find. She had a special computer program that listed thousands of recipes and also included the family’s traditional ones. She found fascinating web­sites that fit any ethnic back­ground and used them to supply a host of new and interesting recipes from the region our in-laws were from. We both had enjoyed practicing these and reporting how everything turned out. Think about the food you remember eating at Grandma’s or a favorite aunt’s house.

My husband’s aunt had an easy recipe for making delicious potato dumplings. I wanted to learn how to make them and asked if I could make a mini-video the next time she made them. What fun we had in the kitchen as her husband sat and watched, making funny comments. It was an enjoyable afternoon where we learned an old family recipe and enjoyed the meal after it was cooked.

Don’t let your treasured family recipes be forgotten over the years. Watch how they are prepared, take down notes, and practice it yourself. You’ll be amazed how the mem­ories of childhood can be re­lived and enjoyed all over again the mo­ment the aroma of that certain food reaches you.

 

 

March 8, 2017 |

Be Prepared — Just in Case

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

My family teases, calling me a worrywart because I tend to think of situations that may arise that are often rare or infrequent.  It is just that I would rather be prepared then caught off guard.  For instance, one daughter practically lives in flip-flops during the summer and says they are comfortable for driving and even shopping. While this may be true, I simply do not trust that the small rubber section that goes between your toes won’t break at an inconvenient time. My suggestion, just in case, is keeping an extra pair of shoes in the car as backup. The same could apply when wearing delicate dress sandals.

A vital issue is being prepared for a car emergency. Many drivers don’t belong to an auto club to call upon. A co-worker shared this story. Cell phones were just becoming popular, but had no features with which to store information. The woman had just moved to town and didn’t know the phone numbers of any local service stations that could come to change a flat tire. Luckily her husband was able to leave work to come help. After that, the woman went to two service stations and picked up their business cards to keep in her wallet, just in case.

Of course there are more instances when the weather is cold and snowy when we may be caught unprepared. One time my cousin left a friend’s house after a dinner party only to discover it had snowed about five inches while she was visiting.  Luckily, about a year earlier she had purchased a folding, lightweight shovel, just in case she came out to the car and had to dig herself out. Now the shovel came in handy.  She also kept an old pair of boots in the car in case she was wearing heels or non-weatherproof shoes. Snow gloves and a knit hat completed the emergency wardrobe changes she kept in a small duffle bag. Quickly slipping into the more sturdy boots, warm hat and gloves, she was able to dig out just enough snow to get the traction needed to move the car out of its spot.

I am sure readers can think of hundreds of cases like this where a little forethought makes sense. Whether it is an extra twenty-dollar bill hidden in the fold of your wallet, or an extra gallon of water held in the trunk of your car, planning ahead makes sense.

 

 

March 1, 2017 |

Escape to a World of Orchids at New York Botanical Gardens

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

Are you tired of the snow, ice and howling winds of winter yet? There is a place to escape into a tropical environment that is breathtakingly gorgeous. The Orchid Show: Thailand opened on February 18th at New York Botanical Gardens (NYBG) and runs through April 9th, 2017. The show is an homage to the wealth of orchids, acclaimed tropical gardens, renowned orchid breeding, and rich cultural history of Thailand, home to more than 1,200 native orchid species. Visitors to the landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory will be transported on an epic journey that engages all of the senses and underscores the allure and intrigue of these exquisite beauties.  Visitors will walk through the climate controlled hot house, offering the feeling of being in the midst of summer warmth.

Orchids

The allure of orchids has been with me ever since I was a young girl reading a comic strip called Brenda Starr, Reporter that ran daily, with a full color page on Sundays, continuing the adventures of this vibrant, beautiful reporter. The Brenda Starr series was a mystery and romance, with a modern woman as its lead character. The strip ran from 1940 through 2011 with Brenda, known for her flaming red hair and being similar in appearance to the 1940s film star Rita Hayworth. Brenda had a mysterious boyfriend, Basil St. John, who reappeared in Brenda’s life throughout the storyline. Basil wore a patch over one eye, was ruggedly handsome, and was famous for growing exotic black orchids. Basil, in his orchid greenhouse, was repeatedly woven into the storyline as part of the unknown of why he held these exotic flowers in such high esteem.

Anniversary

 The NYBG celebrates its 15th year of spectacular orchid exhibitions with The Orchid Show: Thailand, a country that in the last century has become the leading exporter of cultivated tropical orchids in the world. Native and hybrid orchids alike have become synonymous with the nation. This year’s exhibition will feature an astonishing array of blooming orchids in a lush tropical garden, including a rainbow of vanda orchids, whose large patterned blooms are widely popular in Thai gardens and homes. The show culminates in a jaw-dropping scene of a large arched facade in the style of a traditional Thai pavilion, festooned with hundreds of exquisite orchids.

NYBG is located at 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458 and is accessible by car or train.

Peek at the breathtaking beauty of some of the orchids present in the show by visiting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YYPdmPZq0g&feature=youtu.be

February 22, 2017 |

Iconic Film Couples

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

What makes a memorable movie besides the story line?  Often it is the chemistry between the two lead characters that drives the film into classic status or being highly acclaimed for years after it was made. Just think of the 1939 Academy Award-winning film Gone with the Wind and the relationship between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. It’s impossible to picture any other couple in these roles, especially the last scene where Butler walks out the door and tersely says, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” For that time period these words were almost scandalous.  Think about another old time movie, the African Queen, made in 1951. Billed as a “drama/romance,” the two leads, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, were the only two that could have sailed through those treacherous waters, making the journey believable during this WWII classic film.  Once again Bogart was part of an unforgettable pair when he starred earlier in the 1942 Casablanca. His leading lady was played by Ingrid Bergman in this war-time romance and thriller, and the chemistry between the two made the film the long-time classic it remains.

TV Couples

One of the most popular comedy series that remains a favorite during reruns on channels devoted to old-time programs has to be I Love Lucy. This series was the perfect combination of “screwball” slapstick comedy where viewers were able to watch a real-life married couple work together every week in a successful show. A popular western series starred a married couple entwined in a different adventure each week; at our house we never missed a weekly episode of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, which also starred their horse Trigger.

How many iconic couples can you guess from the simple hints below?

1. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton began their romance making what film?

2. What cartoon couple shared an Italian dinner, where they kiss after nibbling on the opposite ends of a strand of spaghetti?

3. Pretty Woman paired which two actors in this romantic comedy/drama?

4. Rose and Jack, star-crossed lovers in a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, sailed together on what famous ship?

5.  Demi Moore contacts her late husband played by Patrick Swayze in what movie?

Answers:

 l. Cleopatra

2. Lady and the Tramp

3. Richard Gere and Julia Roberts

4. Titanic

5. Ghost

February 15, 2017 |

My Trip Down Memory Lane

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

The other day I took out my sewing box to mend some socks that had a small hole in the toe area. The first thing I reached for was the darning egg from my grandmother that was nestled under the cloth seamstress-type tape measure. I am guessing some readers might not know what a darning egg is, or is used for. Shaped like its name, it’s a smooth, wooden egg. After turning the sock inside out, the egg is placed inside the sock by the toe area. Now it is easier to sew without your fingers being pricked by the needle. I love this darning egg because it was my grandmother’s.  This is an item that is a touch of the past that is convenient in these modern times that have let go of many old fashioned ways. While doing my mending—even that seems to be an old fashioned word—instead of just sewing the tear, I began thinking about things of the past that are now gone.  From words and expressions to household items, these were things we grew up with and miss.

Let’s start with our phones, comparing them to the heavy, black rotary phones our grandparents had.  I recall dialing my grandmother’s telephone and putting my finger in the numerical holes on the dial and hearing the clicking sound as the dial returned to its starting point. We once bought an old phone at a tag sale that was similar to hers because I couldn’t resist the purchase and just hearing the clicking sound when I tested the rotary dial.

My grandmother loved to write and kept a daily diary that had a page for every day of the year. I remember watching her write in her diary using a fountain pen. There were two kinds of pens, one you literally dipped in ink, and the other that you filled directly from the jar.  That kind was still popular in my early days of elementary school, and the Waterman brand was what I wrote with. There was a small lever on the side that you drew down before placing the tip of the pen in the ink jar. Slowly the lever was released, and the ink would go into the pen. Amazing technology, but sometimes it was a little messy to maneuver.

This was a pleasant trip down memory lane thanks to some necessary sewing.

February 8, 2017 |

The Bikinis — 1960s Nostalgia at the Westchester Broadway Theatre

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Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

 

During the early 1960s, the comedy genre at the theatres were “beach movies” where California surfing and popular teen stars like Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon were the leads in numerous summer flicks. My favorite, Gidget, started a series of follow-up films based on its popularity. Flash forward to the current year, and the Westchester Broadway Theatre (WBT) spreads sunshine this dreary winter with The Bikinis, a “new musical beach party”! Opening February 2nd and running through March 19th, it is once again the summer of 1964. The story is about four inseparable friends who form a girl group called The Bikinis, win a talent contest, and make it to the top! Now, many years and a few pounds later The Bikinis reunite for a show filled with sun and fun and all the great songs they sang on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore.  Audiences at the WBT will join them as they relive their heyday and put on a show that promises to get everyone dancing in the aisles!

Ray Roderick and James Hindman conceived and wrote this musical, based on a true story about a one-hit-wonder 1960s girl group whose members come back together two decades later. These Jersey Girls perform in a non-stop celebration of song with over 30 hits like It’s In His Kiss, Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, Heat Wave, I’m Every Woman, I Will Survive, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, and many more! The Bikinis promises to be irresistible! The production is directed and choreographed by Ray Roderick. The musical director is Dan Pardo and the lighting designer is Jamie Roderick. Call up your friends and make a date for a fun evening of dining and great entertainment with some of the best music of that era!

For reservations call: (914) 592-2222 or visit: www.BroadwayTheatre.com

Ticket Prices: Dinner & Show range between $56.00 and $84.00 PLUS TAX depending on the performances chosen. Beverage service and gratuities are not included in the ticket price. Discounts are available for children, students, and senior citizens at select performances. Also check the website for on-going special offers! The Westchester Broadway Theatre is located in Elmsford, New York.

Upcoming shows:
Mamma Mia – March 23 – June 25, 2017
Annie – June 29 – September 10, 2017
Annie Get Your Gun– September 14 – December 3, 2017

 

February 1, 2017 |

Discard Outdated Medicine Cabinet Supplies

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Bits & Pieces Column

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By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

 

 

When was the last time you went through your medicine cabinet and checked the dates of your medicines?  Discard outdated cough syrups, aspirins and cold capsules that are hidden in the back of the medicine cabinet and seldom used. Now is the time to discard these expired medicines and restock so you have potent ones ready for when an illness hits.  This gives you plenty of time to watch for sales on the items you need.  Having these supplies on hand will ensure you are ready when they are needed and you do not have to head out to the store when you are sick. Speaking of discarding medicines, check with your town to see if they have a program that collects outdated medications.  Many towns have programs where medicines can be dropped off at the local police station in a dispensary box. They should NOT be flushed down the toilet to contaminate the water supply.

First Aid Kits

Is your home first aid kit well stocked?  Is the Poison Control Center telephone number clearly posted by your telephone?  Most families store a first aid kit high up on a shelf away from the children. Let your family members know where it is stored and think about locating it within reach of everyone.  Show your children where it is and what is in it.  You may be the one hurt and have to depend on a child to get the first aid kit for you.  Being prepared and going over the contents with the child before an emergency happens is a good idea. Also keep a fully stocked first aid kit in the car, complete with a flashlight and fresh batteries. You should keep an old blanket in the car or purchase a solar blanket for emergency situations.  A solar blanket looks like a large piece of crinkly aluminum foil, but is lightweight and durable.   It is made for warmth and particularly for keeping a patient warm who may be going into shock.  Keep extra bandages in the auto kit and heavy, sterile cloth for severe wounds.  A clean, new diaper could be used if a wound produced a flow of blood that was heavier than gauze or bandages could handle.  Being prepared with all the proper materials is of the utmost importance, but knowing what to do is even more critical.

January 25, 2017 |
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