Acupunture at the Norman Bethune Hospital

In January, 1975, the National Guardian newspaper, a radical, independent weekly and the Chinese government sponsored a three week tour for American farmers. My husband Marty and I were excited to be invited.

We travelled through six major cities and their surrounding areas, tasting every aspect of Chinese life, as guests of the Chinese government. There were twenty-two in our party, including our coordinator from the United States. Two or three translator/guides accompanied us throughout our travels in China. In each of the regions we visited, local officials joined us to enlighten us about their work, and the history and culture of each site.

One of the most memorable events of the tour was the visit to the Norman Bethune Hospital in Shih Chia Chuang. Dr. Norman Bethune, a thoracic surgeon from Montreal, relinquished his privileges at state of the art hospitals in Canada in 1939 to establish the hospital in Shih Chia Chuang. As a young man he vowed to do something great for humankind.

The use of acupuncture for anesthesia fascinated us. We were fortunate to observe three surgeries on the day of our visit that used this method. The first was of a young soldier having his tonsils removed, who seemed quite comfortable. He was in uniform and was sitting in a chair that looked like an old dentist’s or barber’s chair. Maybe he was getting his teeth fixed and his haircut at the same time! When the procedure was completed, the soldier got up from the chair, acknowledged us, put his hat on, and walked out of the hospital. We witnessed a woman having a thyroid operation, and a man who underwent open-heart surgery; each person showed no signs of pain.

The operations were not viewed from a glass-enclosed amphitheater, with video and audio enhancements. Twenty-two people crowded around the operating table and carefully managed not to trip on electric cords or overturn washbasins. We wore gowns, hats, and masks, along with plastic sandals. The only way that we could identify each other was by the color of our socks.

Forty years ago, the Bethune Hospital was one of the few facilities in China that provided treatment for serious illnesses. Today this hospital is part of a complex of prominent medical centers, which include The Norman Bethune College of Medicine of Jilin University.

 

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Announcing: A Glub, Glub and A Shake Shake: A Cookbook

It’s gone to press!  My cookbook, A Glub, Glub and A Shake Shake is available on Amazon.  I will also have some copies for distribution locally.

My children decided that it would be a good idea to have some of my culinary ideas in print, and the children, as well as the grandchildren, made sure that their favorite dishes were included. I dictated some of the recipes to my daughter, Lisa, and my daughter Madeline provided the whimsical illustrations. The cover of the book is a lovely eggplant.

Cover hi resIncluded are some great recipes, for novices and experienced cooks, too.  There are helpful hints, seasoned with a few laughs.

You might want to check out the recipes for sweet potatoes and rhubarb, to serve at Thanksgiving, The cookbook makes a great holiday gift.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Killingworth Foundation, which provides funds to local groups and scholarships to students.

Evolution of a Matzo Ball

At my daughter’s suggestion, and for the sake of posterity, I will share how I make matzo balls. It’s only a short while since we celebrated Passover and the family members are still craving my matzo balls.

When I was a young bride I was going to show the world that I could do every thing. In my first attempt at making matzo balls, (knadlach), I used the recipe on the box of Manischewitz matzo meal, which sounded pretty much like my mother’s and Marty’s mother’s.

Then we used chicken fat for shortening, and we’d render the fat with onions, which provided a distinctive taste and a wonderful aroma when cooking, but involved extra work and cleanup. Some years later, chicken fat was among the fats that were considered bad for the heart, and has gone by the wayside. I substitute melted margarine; not so healthy, either, but I don’t miss the extra work and mess. The recipes do call for oil, but I’m not crazy about the taste of oil. Lately I’ve seen articles written by gourmet chefs lauding the forgotten taste of chicken fat, or “schmalz”, claiming that it’s not as bad for your heart as we’ve been led to believe.

My mother mentioned that my Aunt Rae used seltzer in her matzo balls and they were excellent. Although my mother’s matzo balls were certainly good I can’t understand why she didn’t use seltzer, since Aunt Rae’s were so delicious and light.  I didn’t have seltzer on hand and thought that seltzer contained bicarbonate of soda to make it bubbly, so I use baking soda and have fluffy matzo balls.

I decided that matzo balls could use some flavor and color, so I now include chopped parsley and onions. My friend Janie made great matzo balls, seasoned with nutmeg. So I add some of that too. Beating the egg whites separately yields even lighter and softer matzo balls.

Sorry that I don’t have a photo. My family cleaned the pot out.  But then, what’s a picture when compared to the real thing?

“bestofbarbara’s “ BEST MATZO BALLS

2 cups. matzo meal
8 eggs, separated
4 tbl. Shortening (Oil, melted margarine, or fat from the top of the soup)
8 tbl. water,selzer, or soup
1 tbl. Salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
Chopped parsley and one medium chopped onion

Beat the egg whites until they stand at a peak. Put aside. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Fold in beaten egg whites. Chill overnight for a few hours for a firm mixture that’s easier to handle. Bring a half of a large pot of water to a boil. Keep a bowl of cold water near to keep mixture from sticking to your hands. Roll matzo mixture into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Drop in boiling water. Lower heat . Cook for ½ an hour. Makes about 40 matzo balls.

CHICKEN SOUP (AKA known as Jewish penicillin)

1 large chicken
Onion, carrots, parsnip, tomato, celery, (dill and parsley), chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut a large chicken in half. I like a roasting chicken. They’re tender and less fatty, have marvelous flavor and are easy to handle. Clean inside of chicken. Place in pot. Cover chicken with water. Bring water to a boil. Skim off film that collects. Lower heat, cook for two hours or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken. Add vegetables, salt, and pepper. Cook for another hour. Add chopped parsley and dill before serving.

Enjoy!

Whither I Go, My Knitting Goes

I can’t forget the photo of Eleanor Roosevelt knitting while listening to election returns on the radio. I can’t think of any activity that works as well as knitting to calm the nerves; reading requires too much concentration. Even music may not be heard. But needlework beats nibbling, smoking or nail biting, to conquer stress. I remember my sister-in- law crocheting while her husband was undergoing surgery. 6a00d83452615669e201b7c6e47bcc970b-800wi

I can bury my nose in a book while flying or traveling on a train, although I usually have my needlework on hand when I’m chatting while waiting for the plane or train. A young man I met at Gatwick Airport in the U.K., admired the baby hat that I was making for the grandson to be, and was impressed that I “always had something on the go”.

When I am a passenger in a car I find it difficult concentrating on reading but I can always take a break from knitting to look at the scenery. My husband has complained that we drove 100 miles out of the way because I wasn’t watching the road or the map. I do put my knitting down when we are at a busy intersection or if we are in unfamiliar territory. Now, I often let Samantha, our GPS guide bring us to our destinations, but even she makes mistakes, bringing us recently to the Atlantic Ocean when we requested a route from Maine to Lake Winnipesaukee, in New Hampshire.

It was never a problem getting a seat on a crowded subway train on my daily commute to school or work years ago. All I had to do was pull out my knitting needles. I found that knitting helped pass the time while waiting on line to register for college courses and during those boring orientation sessions.

I was about nine years old when I learned to knit with the help of my Aunt Rose, and family friends, but I probably was thirteen when I finished a checkered, patterned scarf for myself. It wasn’t until I was in college that I became a serious knitter and tried my hand at a sleeveless, v-necked slipover for my father. Although the v-neck was far from perfect, Dad appreciated my efforts and wore the sweater.

Argyle socks were the rage in the 1950’s and the women at Hunter College were making socks for the men in their lives. I asked a classmate what she would do if the romance ended before the socks were finished. She replied that the socks were intended for Joe and Joe would get the socks regardless. Not my style! When Marty and I were engaged, I knitted argyle socks for him. Marty has been the recipient of other knitted gifts, but his favorites are woolen mittens, for warmth. We were away from home and he needed mittens. I decided to see what I had on hand and found some nice grey yarn in my bag. Since I didn’t think there would be enough grey, I striped the cuffs and tips of the mittens with purple, green and yellow. The compliments keep coming. IMG_0060

No project was too large or too small, too intricate or too simple. In fact I prefer more challenging designs and didn’t shy away from cables, laces, entrelacs or fair isles. A friend remembers that I said that I couldn’t see any purpose in doing something that was sold in the store. Now of course you can buy all sorts of ready made knitted items. I have adjusted directions for size, weight of yarn and size of needles without compromising the fit of the garment. Wool, the yarn that I favor, has many attributes, including being warmer than cottons or synthetics and holding its shape better. It is a more giving and forgiving material to work with. I also like the feel of the yarn sliding through my fingers as I work.

My fingers cramp when I work on a section of the project with few stitches on the needle. The proprietor of the yarn shop suggested to my daughter Lisa, that she keep switching back and forth from one project to another, with different size needles, if her hands ache, to keep the fingers from being in a bind and exercise them.

Back in the 1960’s when mini -skirts were popular, I made a tweed suit for myself of wine heather and coral, worked together, with a Mandarin collar and hand -knitted frog closings. I outgrew the suit when mini-skirts gave way to the cowgirl look of the 1970’s of mid -calf flared skirts and boots. I gave the suit to my mother. The sleeves and skirt were too short for her and a friend added knitted borders to the sleeves and the hem of the skirt. The alterations weren’t exactly in keeping with the style of the suit but it looked nice and Mom wore the suit for quite a while. When Mom could no longer wear the suit and mini skirts were back in vogue, I restored the suit to its original style for Lisa.

My mother had a beautiful Italian mohair sweater with hand -embroidered flowers. Here again the sleeves were too short for her. My daughter Madeline was given a box of different colored mohair, which she passed on to me. I picked up the stitches on the bottom of the sleeves, and extended the cuffs, adding a few stripes of the colors that were used in the sweater. Mom loved the sweater.

My grandson, Jacob, told my daughter, Lisa, that she was going to be a grandmother, by asking her how long it would take her to knit a carriage blanket. She remarked that it would take her no time at all because she still had the blanket that I made for him; a beautiful bulky entrelac cover, in two shades of light green, with a hand -crocheted corded edge.

Knitting isn’t just for women. A good friend made himself a black sweater because he didn’t want charcoal grey that was available in the stores. Kaffe Fassett is an artist who paints with needlecraft. I have adapted many of his designs.unnamed-1

After 9/11, our handbags were searched scrupulously at airports for potential weapons. Embroidery scissors were amongst the contraband. Lisa learned that the cutting edge on the dental floss pack is good for cutting yarn. NOBODY is going to stop us from knitting.

 

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The Road to Recovery

Two months out of surgery and I’m reflecting on my achievements during recuperation.

First of all, I’ve contributed to the economy by providing employment for an army of health care professionals.

Since I was semi -house bound for three weeks, and didn’t do the grocery shopping, I managed to clean out the refrigerator. Marty remarked that he could actually see the back wall of the fridge.

As for personal accomplishments: I read two books. I knitted two animal hats for two of my great -grandsons, a hippopotamus for Uri and a Koala bear for Nakshone. I even wrote two blogs. IMG_2847IMG_2846

With the help and encouragement of my loving family, I am walking straighter than I did before surgery, and with little pain. I have to confess that I was beginning to enjoy being pampered and catered to. However, too much of a good thing is too much. Now I‘m happy to drive and do my own shopping and some cooking.

I’ve resumed participation in the water exercise program at the Y. It’s much better than “4 in 1 Motor Oil” for lubricating joints and strengthening muscles.

About two weeks ago I even traveled to New Jersey, as a passenger, for a holiday dinner with my great- grandchildren.

I can’t ask for much better than that, can I? As my father would say, “Every day is a bonus.”

 

 

 

 

My Recent Surgery

I bit the bullet and underwent an operation to correct the spinal stenosis that has been plaguing me for a year and a half. I heard mixed results about back surgery and had been weighing the options. I tried acupuncture and water therapy without relief. I wondered: Would it be foolish to expose myself to risk or more foolish not to take advantage of a procedure that would ease my pain and improve my ability to function? If I did anything it would have to be sooner than later, when my recuperative powers are greater. I couldn’t wait until I was ninety for this surgery.

Awakening from the surgery, I relished the apple juice as if it were the finest champagne. Navigating the hospital menu was a challenge. Every thing had a different name than what I am accustomed to. I will say though that there is a greater effort to serve nutritional and appetizing dishes. It was a treat to come home to my children’s scrumptious cooking. I’ve been spoiled with fish, chicken, and pasta dinners, gazpacho, and pies and crisps made with locally grown blueberries and peaches.

At my two- week post-op visit the doctor was optimistic and assured me that the surgery went well and I was on the way to recovery. The only pain that I experience now is the pain from the surgery, which is to be expected and hopefully won’t persist. My motion is good and I have every reason to anticipate a positive outcome.

Wearing my "corset"

Wearing my “corset”

Achoo!

Recently, our children helped Marty and I celebrate our 60th   wedding anniversary, with assistance from practically all the grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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The Klein Sibling Quartet

The Klein Sibling Quartet

 

Our children cooked a delicious lunch and Madeline; the family pastry chef supplied two scrumptious cakes that were devoured. They roasted and toasted us. They put on a multi-vintage slide show and ran a black and white silent film of our wedding.

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Although the cast of characters has changed, believe me, some things never change. On the day of our anniversary celebration, Marty and I were fighting fierce colds and I refrained from kissing the guests, especially the little ones. April 4th, 1954 was a blustery, cold day. After running around with bare shoulders I was coughing and sneezing in tune with the band.

On the first day of our honeymoon we drove to Macon, Georgia and visited old friends of Marty’s, Bunnie and Vera Godfrey.

After 60 years Vera reminds me of the beautiful onyx tray that I sent them from Mexico. After 60 years I’m still grateful for Vera’s gift of the box of cough drops that saved my life.