Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Practice Run

Kraut Burgers/Cabbage Pockets/Kraut Bieroks/Runza

Dough:  6 cups warm water;
1/3 cup sugar; 
3 tablespoons yeast (stir and wait until bubbly);
1/2 cup oil; 
2 teaspoons salt (add and mix); 
5 lb. flour (add and knead until spongy, let rise in warm space until double in bulk.)

Filling: 7 lbs. ground beef (brown); 
2 cups chopped onions; 
6 teaspoons salt; 
8 teaspoons pepper (add and continue to brown); 
10 pounds shredded cabbage, (add and cook until done.)

Roll dough and cut into 6" squares. 
Fill with 3/4 cup meat mixture. 
Pinch dough until closed. 
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until browned. 
 Remove from oven and immediately coat with butter. Cool.
Store in refrigerator or freeze. 
Reheat in microwave or by putting in oven for a few minutes.

Sometime next year, in 2015, the Young At Heart dinner will consist of cabbage pockets. The two experienced makers of Kraut Burgers/Cabbage Pockets/Kraut Bieroks/ or Runza were on hand to show how the German-Russian rolls are made. It was decided to have a trial run on how to make them and yesterday five people met to practice making the stuffed rolls
First the yeast dough was prepared and when I arrived I was told the dough was in the stage of rising. I had been invited to come observe the work that is necessary to make the Cabbage Pockets. I was told that the dough had to double in size.

While waiting for the dough to rise, ground beef was browned with the onions. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Ten pounds of shredded cabbage were added to the meat mixture and cooked.

 After the dough doubled it was punched down and separated into two large balls. On a lightly floured table the dough was rolled out into a thin layer about 36x24 rectangle. Six inch squares were cut into the dough with a pizza cutter and on each square about 3/4 cup of filling was placed. Corners of the dough were brought up to a point and seams were pinched. The pillows, for they do look like small pillows, were placed on a large pan and baked at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until becoming a nice tan color. Once out of the oven, butter was smeared on the top of each roll making each roll glow a golden brown.

It took about three hours to make the 46 stuffed "pillows" by five persons and even though math is not my favorite subject I figure it will take five persons making 50 rolls or twenty persons to make the four hundred rolls for the dinner next year. I envision the making of the rolls will be quite an assembly line!

The finished product looked perfect, the cooks looked proud, and when I was given one to eat, I found it to be warm, tasty, good and yummy! Maintenance people, office workers, the priest. visitors and the cooks all enjoyed eating the delicious stuffed cabbage pillows!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Morning Today

I wondered if the place would be open at ten in the morning. Would it be dark and spooky as such places are portrayed in movies? I looked around before entering. I certainly did not want anyone that knew me to see me entering the Balloon Inn in Arvada. I have no idea how long the bar has been in the strip mall but I became aware of it in the late 70's. Businesses around it come and go but it has been a faithful resident for many years.

Today was my first time to enter the bar. It was not dark and gloomy. I saw some pool tables and noticed that the bar was a dark wood. Many bottles were lined up on the south side of the bar. Three men, as if synchronized, turned to the door when I walked in and then turned back to their drinks. The bartender was sitting at one end of the bar and she got up and walked toward me. The white haired lady could have been any body's grandmother. I guess I had expected to see a young girl with tattoos on an exposed body.

"What can I help you with," she asked.
"I have a strange question to ask you," I said, "what do you do with your empty tequila bottles?"
She gave me a strange look and remarked, "We throw them in the trash."
"Could I look through your trash for an empty tequila bottle?"
"The bottles are all broken."
"The reason I need an empty bottle is because I am preparing an altar for the dead, and my father, who has been gone for a few years, loved his tequila."
She smiled, glanced back at the bottles of liquor, and said, "Tell you what. I have a bottle that is almost empty and it should be finished sometime today  Why don't you come by tomorrow morning, and I will save it for you."
"That would be great. Thank you so much and I will see you tomorrow." I wanted to say "hasta la vista" al la Clint Eastwood style, but controlled my impulse as I walked out of the saloon!

Once back on the sidewalk, I prayed that no one I knew saw me come out of the bar. Would anyone seeing me come out of a bar in the morning believe my story?

I then drove to the McDonald's on the corner of the mall and walked into a loud, high-school student  infested restaurant.  It must have been lunch hour because some of the kids were eating while others were waiting for their order. I asked the clerk how they boxed their Big Macs. She didn't seem to understand or even hear me over the din of the students and she called her manager. The manager had me repeat my request and gave me a box where normally a Big Mac would fit. I said, "Are you curious as to why I need an empty box?" I was ready to tell her all about the altar I am preparing, but she said, "We get all sorts of requests for things and I don't have to hear the story." I felt a bit let down that I couldn't tell my story but in my hand I held an empty McDonald's Big Mac box!

On Saturday every item I am collecting, finding or buying will go on a Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) altar to honor my Mother, Father, brother and friend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Looking For Mementos

After seeing all the altars set up for the Day of the Dead in Longmont, a friend and I decided to set up an altar of remembrance for a friend that recently passed away. Spirit of Christ Catholic Community will celebrate Day of the Dead, in the Mexican tradition, on November 1 and 2. Anyone wishing to set up an altar will be assigned a table and then our imaginations can run loose!

We came up with a few ideas for our friend, like using a pink backdrop, because that was her favorite color. Soon we had a list of some of her favorite things; Starbucks cup, books, teas, dog, angel, car, and so on. My hope is that we are able to set up a beautiful display for when she visits, as the tradition goes, so that she will be pleased.

 I thought that since I am going to be helping set up her altar, maybe I should do one for my parents and brother. As I made a list of items reminding me of my family I realized that many of the things I could have used I had gotten rid of at my garage sale. I decided to visit a thrift store and maybe I could find similar things that would remind me of my parents. The price tags on some of the jewelry was outrageous. I had sold similar things for $1.00 at my garage sale and here they were asking $5.99 for something similar. I thought thrift stores were supposed to be cheap! After all, we give our stuff to them. I left the thrift store and decided to go to a dollar store. At least at the dollar store it would be a new item and not a used one. My Mother loved flowers and I purchased a vase and some plastic flowers for the altar for three dollars.

Today I went to Hobby Lobby and Michaels to see if I could come up with fresh ideas. I am looking for a bar of Pamolive soap because the tradition is that the spirit visitor will need to clean up after the long journey and Pamolive is the soap we used while I was growing up. I did find a bull fighter my Mother bought in Juarez, Mexico. She loved paintings on velvet! She loved President Kennedy also! At Barnes and Noble I bought two magazines (most expensive of my mementos), Popular Mechanics and People. How I would like to see their faces as they are brought up to date with the latest news!

My collection of things gathered for the altars are a tea pot, flowers, Our Lady of Guadalupe statue, a painting of Kennedy, a square dancing bolo, jewelry, a man's watch, a pink soap, a rosary, a tiny skeleton, a bottle of Tequila, an apron, a phone book, vegetables, magazines, a dog in a globe, and some tools.

Receipts of things purchased came to $39.21. The altar is getting to be quite expensive. I still have a few more things to buy and then I can set up an altar. One thing for sure, is that setting up an altar is not as easy as it looks.

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal."
From a headstone in Ireland

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bicycle, Books and Bibliophily

Are you a reader? A book lover? Can you enter a book store and leave without buying a book(s)? Can you be at a library and come out empty handed?If you answered "no," then I believe you will love the book cycle. Imagine books coming to you instead of you going to the library to check out a book. In Longmont, Colorado I saw my first yellow bicycle that will travel to where people gather and bring along books for people to check out.

On the Internet I saw where the Denver Public Library also has a pedal-powered, mobile, blue bicycle and it will set up near coffee shops, concerts, farmer's markets, etc. It is possible other cities in Colorado also have these book bicycles but the Longmont one is the first one I have seen.

All of my life I have been a reader and love/hate books I can't put down. I love a book because the story grabs my interest and I must find out how it ends. Yet, I hate that I will sometimes stay up all night reading, that every chance I get I am reading and that I let everything else I am supposed to do stay undone until I finish the book.

Seeing the book cycle made me realize that getting a book to read is becoming easier and easier!

"The only important thing
in a book is the meaning
that it has for you."
W. Somerset Maugham

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hanging on for Dear Life

It is almost the end of October and leaves are desperately hanging on to tree limbs before falling to the ground. I also noticed that rose bushes and other types of flowers are still blooming yet I know they will soon be gone.

Even though I tend to forget many things, this poem by Robert Herrick has been  imprinted on my brain ever since I read it  years ago. As I looked at the flowers I thought of the poem.

"Gather ye rosebuds while you may,
old time is still a flying,
and that same flower that smiles today,
tomorrow will be dying."

Herrick was an English poet born in 1591 and died in 1674.

Little Free Libraries

Never had I heard of Little Free Libraries until I saw one in Longmont, Colorado. The box was metal, had toy blocks coming out of a faucet instead of water and two shelves for books.

I looked up information on this great idea and found that The Little Free Libraries can be smaller than the Longmont one, be water proof, be of different sizes and shapes and have a glass front. Some look like large bird houses. Books are placed in the boxes and people can take books out and replace them with books read. The purpose is to get more people reading.

On the Internet I saw pictures of the Little Free Libraries with a sign: Take a book. Leave a book. Some have a bench next to the Little Library for people to sit and browse. Cicero said: "If you have a garden and a library, you have every thing you need." Some of the Little Libraries look like old fashioned cabinets, newspaper boxes, or decorated wagons.

I find the idea to be very creative and children love to find a book to read in the boxes. Children or adult books can be shared in the Little Free Libraries.

These four Little Free Library
boxes were taken from the Internet
to show the clever ideas of some
people who put up the book boxes for all to enjoy!

In talking with a friend, she said, "We have a couple of those little libraries in my neighborhood." She showed me the Little Free Libraries situated in Arvada and my guess is that there are probably many more in the area. Who knew? At one Little Free Library, I found a book I wanted to read. How neat is that?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Slew of Memory Altars

We began our trek at Longmont's Museum and continued to the many other businesses celebrating the month long Dia de los Muertos. First stop was the Dr. Seuss Altar set up at the Longmont Public Library.

Used Book Emporium had a small altar with a picture of a woman and a few books. We were told by the daughter that their Mom had opened the bookstore in 1996. My friend, who loves books, had a difficult time leaving the store to continue our walk of altars!

The Muse Gallery had a huge display with many mementos, yet when we asked about the altar the person working did not know anything about what all the items on the altar represented. A photo of a man, antique statues, a skeleton, and large photographs of what may have been his travels in Mexico. Looking at the altar, we could only guess the what and why!


Our walk took us to Crystal Joys

and to Kay Carol Gallery & Priscilla Working Art Studio.  A large studio with many bright paintings of skulls, mosaics on musical instruments, tiny masks, and transgender, bisexual, lesbian and homosexual works.


Discoveries Egyptian Imports had an altar with two mummies.

Other altars in the windows were unable to be photographed because of the reflection on the glass. Miller Music did have a neat altar using musical instruments.

My guess is that my friend liked the altar at Crackpots the best because the altar was for a cat and she likes cats!

Happy Cakes Bakeshop had interesting cakes and cookies in shapes of skulls and the Art Experience had an altar for the owner's grandmother.

We did stop by the Carroll Lewellen Funeral Home and I am not sure what we expected to see but the altar was outside of the funeral home. It was of  an Hispanic man who must have liked horses, cowboy hats, grandchildren, tequila and chili!

Even though there were more altars to see, my friend and I decided to call it quits because we had seen enough altars of the dead!