Month: November 2013

Essential Thanksgiving: The NYT’s Best Recipes, Tricks and Techniques to the Perfect Meal

By Julia Moskin and Melissa Clark, The New York Times

We’ve broken Thanksgiving dinner down to its essential elements. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and potatoes, of course. But no less necessary, if slightly less obvious, is something orange (yams, squash or even mac and cheese). A green and snappy vegetable. And pie — at least two.

In each category, we give you our preferred recipe, a standout of its kind. But we offer alternatives, too. If your family demands creamed onions or parsnip soup as a first course, have at it. Mix and match. Those dishes make the table yours; these are the essentials that make it Thanksgiving.

For all the attention we lavish on Thanksgiving turkeys, the truth is more work does not necessarily yield a better bird. That’s why I swear by no brining, no stuffing, no trussing and no basting. Instead of a messy wet brine, I use a dry rub (well, technically a dry brine) — a salt and pepper massage that locks in moisture and seasons the flesh. No stuffing or trussing allows the bird to cook more quickly, with the white and dark meat finishing closer to the same time. And if you oil but don’t baste your turkey, you’ll get crisp skin without constantly opening the oven.

Simple Roast Turkey


  1. Remove any giblets from the cavity and reserve for stock or gravy. Pat turkey and turkey neck dry with paper towel; rub turkey all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt per pound of turkey, the pepper and the lemon zest, including the neck. Transfer to a 2-gallon (or larger) resealable plastic bag. Tuck herbs and 6 garlic cloves inside bag. Seal and refrigerate on a small rimmed baking sheet (or wrapped in another bag) for at least 1 day and up to 3 days, turning the bird over every day (or after 12 hours if brining for only 1 day).
  2. Remove turkey from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey, uncovered, back on the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours to dry out the skin (this helps crisp it).
  3. When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for one hour.
  4. Heat oven to 450 degrees. In the bottom of a large roasting pan, add the cider and enough wine to fill the pan to a 1/4-inch depth. Add half the onions, the remaining 6 garlic cloves and the bay leaves. Stuff remaining onions and the lemon quarters into the turkey cavity. Brush turkey skin generously with oil or melted butter.
  5. Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack set inside the roasting pan. Transfer pan to oven and roast 30 minutes. Cover breast with aluminum foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a thigh reaches 165 degrees, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours more. Transfer turkey to a cutting board to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Or Try:

Braised Turkey

Mark Bittman

This popular recipe from our archives gives you an especially tender and juicy bird — if you can forgo the Norman Rockwell carving moment.

How to Scale Up Our Roast Turkey Recipe

Using Dry Brine on a Frozen Bird

Don’t Roast an Enormous Turkey

What About Wine?

Video: How to Spatchcock a Turkey

Video: How to Carve a Turkey

For more tips, tricks, techniques and recipes, click here. VFP

Dear Hope: I’m Losing My Best Friend

By Gwendolyn Young

Dear Hope:

Lately my best friend and I haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye. It seems like we’re drifting apart. She has been my best friend ever since we were little. What do I do? – Losing My Best friend

Dear losing My Best Friend:

Friendships are ever-changing.  Have you tried reaching out to your friend and sharing with her what you’re feeling? It might be helpful to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with her. She may be going through some things and may not be telling you. Or it may be time for you two to go your separate ways. I know that’s definitely not what you want to hear, but it may be true. You two are not the same people you were when you were little. You have different dreams and different things that you want to do.  Remember, it is not a bad thing to go separate ways. It does not mean that you two still won’t talk or maybe even hang out. It just means that you two have your own lives and your own things to do.

The funny thing about life is that those who start out with you won’t always be the same ones who travel the entire journey with you.  The part she was meant to play in your life could be coming to an end.  Rather than focus on what might be lost, focus on all the good things she brought to your life and take this opportunity to begin cultivating new friendships.   I hope everything works out for you! VFP

This column is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical, legal or financial advice. Questions may be submitted anonymously or via pseudonym to, or Gwendolyn Young, M.A., C.P.C., is the Executive Director of Seed of Hope Foundation, a nonprofit girls mentoring organization based in Westchester, IL.


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Developer of New Business Center Hopes to Bring Spirit of “Wall Street” to Maywood

By Michael Romain

LAST WEDNESDAY, MAYWOOD — Inside of what used to be a Maywood branch library years ago, Darryl Johnson, a silkscreen designer and armchair historian, was telling another entrepreneur about Greeenwood, the now-legendary neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma widely considered to be one of the wealthiest African-American communities of the 20th Century. It was so successful that people began calling it “the Negro Wall Street.”

It’s now known as “Black Wall Street” and talked about with hushed reverence by business-minded African-Americans like Johnson, who, as he touted Greenwood’s qualities to his confidante, could’ve been describing Eden.

“I’m trying to inform people about its existence,” Johnson later said during an impromptu interview over reception-size servings of fried chicken and pasta salad.

“The economic engine that they created was self-sustaining. A dollar was passed 30 to 100 times before it left the community,” Johnson said.

He was sitting inside the new Global Business Center at 840 S. 17th Avenue in Maywood that was developed by Global Estates, LLC, a construction and real estate development company owned by Andre and Vena Nelson.

The Business Center looks a world apart from its prior incarnation as a branch library. There are wooden desks and office chairs anchoring the side walls and a long work station for laptops that runs down the middle. In the back is a kitchenette and a savvy-looking conference room encased in glass. The space has the air of a hotel business room and smells like new carpentry–a hint that its development still has just a few miles to travel before completion.

“We still need to install dividers. The carpet just came in Monday. There’s been a lot of physical labor the last few weeks,” Nelson said.

The Business Center was hosting an informational meeting put on by the Chicagoland Black Chamber of Commerce, and Johnson was one of the black business owners the Chamber was targeting for membership.

The same ideas that Johnson praised in Greenwood–the self-reliance, the independence, the spirit of cooperation–were touted by Grady Norwood, Jr., the Chamber’s Chairman; Arness Dancy, the Chamber’s President and CEO; and Vena Nelson herself, who hopes the Center can be the catalyst of a Black Wall Street-like renaissance here in Maywood, if only black business owners take cues from Greenwood.

Nelson, who owns rental properties in Maywood, said she was motivated to open the Center after noticing that some of her tenants needed space to work, but found the centers that are currently available too expensive.

“I looked at Living Word’s Joseph Center, Aspire and Regis as models. They offer open office space, but for higher prices,” she said.

Unlike its competitors, the Global Business Center bundles a variety of services such as printing, computer time, conference room usage, Wi-Fi and 24/7, nights & weekends access into its unlimited plan for $299 a month, a price that is going for $199 a month for a limited time only.

There will also be space for business mail boxes, remote access to computer files and an onsite receptionist during daytime hours to assist virtual “tenants” with various administrative tasks.

“Current incubators are expensive, even for me,” said Nelson, whose husband works from office space that Global Estates owns next door to the Business Center. For her part, Nelson will be conducting her side of the business at the Center.

“Most small businesses gross under $100,000 a year. There’s not a lot left over after expenses for office space, amenities and services,” she said.

During his presentation on the Chamber’s plan to encourage and foster entrepreneurship in Chicago’s black community, Arness Dancy channeled the spirit of Black Wall Street while talking about a much less boastful reality. “We’re passing on generational poverty […] 97 percent of our dollars leave our community within 24 hours,” he said, figures that ran opposite to those Darryl Johnson brandished in reference to the legendary neighborhood in Tulsa.

Nelson wants to recapture some of the old Tulsa glory on a corner that’s experiencing something of a mini-renaissance. Nelson plans to partner with Sy Bounds, a technology expert, to offer technology courses in the Global Estates property located next door to the company’s Business Center, itself adjacent to a Jackson Hewitt tax agency. The development hub has Nelson thinking along the lines of Greenwood.

“This can almost be like our business or finance district,” she said. VFP

PRESS RELEASE: West Cook YMCA CEO Jane Pate Resigning

The following notification was released by the West Cook YMCA:

OAK PARK—November 20, 2013— Jan Pate Resigns as CEO of West Cook YMCA; Interim Director to be Appointed

Pate, who spent 17 years in leadership posts as a volunteer and on staff in national and international YMCA organizations, has served the West Cook Y for the past eight years. She spent four years as the Y’s Development Director and as CEO since 2009 when she succeeded the now deceased Scott Gaalaas on his retirement.

Pate, who will leave her post in late December, said that she intends to pursue other career opportunities. An interim CEO will be named in the near future while the West Cook YMCA Board searches for a successor.

“Jan brought a high level of energy and enthusiasm to the West Cook YMCA. Under her leadership several important collaborative relationships were forged with other area community organizations who share the Y’s commitment to making the communities we serve stronger,” said David Phelps, Board Chair.

“The many partnerships that Jan developed and nurtured are excellent examples of how the YMCA inspires and impacts the lives of all whom we serve.

“Among her accomplishments have been to strengthen our link with Hephzibah, a leading child welfare organization; secure for Oak Park its designation as a Pioneering Healthy Community whose goal is to reduce childhood obesity; forge a relationship between West Suburban PADS and our own SRO housing program for men in transition and develop a partnership with the Village of Maywood to open and operate that community’s outdoor swimming pool.

“All of these initiatives are wonderful demonstrations of how the YMCA lives up to its promise of focusing on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility to build strong communities,” he said.

“I’m most grateful for having had the opportunity to build on the tradition of service to the people of the west suburban communities that this YMCA has offered for the past 110 years. Most particularly, I’m pleased to have been able to assist the West Cook YMCA to earn national recognition as a Pioneering Healthy Community, a Global Center of Excellence, having built relationships with Ys in Kosovo and Japan and as a Diversity and Inclusion Y,” she said.

Reflecting on her term as the West Cook Y’s CEO, Pate said, “I believe that the Y’s senior management team is stronger than ever, particularly its membership and member engagement programs; we have a healthy investment portfolio and our fundraising is on track and well aligned with YMCAs in the United States.”

“The opportunity to mentor and train a new generation of young YMCA leaders has been particularly satisfying. I’m confident that the West Cook YMCA’s team will continue to meet the challenges of offering a full complement of programs that strengthen spirit, mind and body for all and help make the communities we serve stronger,” she said.

Pate has extensive experience in international and national YMCA leadership positions. A certified YMCA Organizational Leader, she has conducted YMCA training programs related to international connections and cross cultural competencies across the U.S. and around the world. She served as the US liaison to the European Alliance of YMCAs from 1997-2004 and worked most closely with new and re-emerging YMCA youth movements in former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

She served as a national YMCA staff member in the International Group of the YMCA of the USA for 10 years as an Associate Director Currently, she is the representative for the YMCA of the USA in the YMCA Europe Field Group in Kosovo.

Pate chairs Social Responsibility for the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs and is a member of the state’s Public Policy Committee.

Previously, she had YMCA experience at the local level as a policy volunteer in Florence, South Carolina where she chaired both the Board and the International Committee.

Locally, Pate was elected to a four- year term as a Trustee of the Village of Oak Park in April of 2007. She served as the founding Chair of the Communityworks Advisory Committee of the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation; is a member of the Women Leaders in Philanthropy and also serves as a mentor in the Future Philanthropists program for the Foundation. Pate also serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park. She won the Staszak Award for service to youth from the Oak Park Education Foundation in April 2010.

Previously, Pate worked in broadcasting in Florence, South Carolina, in local government in Florence as a communications specialist, and in overseas humanitarian work, having served as a project manager for integrated community returns work in Kosovo with the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Phelps said: “The YMCA….Our Cause Defines Us. YMCA members and directors know that lasting personal and social change comes about when we all work together. That’s why, at the West Cook Y, strengthening community is our cause. Every day, we work side-by-side with our members and neighbors to make sure that everyone, regardless of age, income or background, has the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. This community and collaborative focus is because of our commitment to youth development….because we believe that all kids deserve the opportunity to discover who they are and what they can achieve. By bringing together all of the community’s resources, not just the Y’s, we seek a healthy, responsible environment for kids. Having just celebrated the YMCA’s 110th anniversary in West Cook County, the members, board and staff are committed to the next 100.” VFP

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch Files to Run for Re-Election

Yesterday, State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch filed the maximum number of signatures to required to officially begin his campaign for reelection. Said Welch in a mass email notification, “In the next few weeks, we will be unveiling my new campaign website, www.chriswelch2014, and we will be looking for campaign volunteers.  If you are interested in volunteering with us to phone bank, knock on doors, stuff envelopes, and/or to just post a sign in your yard, please email me at” VFP