Organized Chaos – with a side of mashed potatoes!

By Carolyn Orfanella, BLC Volunteer

Serving Thanksgiving dinner at The Celebration of Life Dinner for the members of the Boston Living Center (BLC) can only be described lovingly as “organized chaos”! I was privileged to volunteer again this year, as a table captain (that means I get to shout more, work less), and wanted to share my perspective to those of you who may sit on the other side of the table or those who may want to get involved next year! The event, one of the largest (fundraising) events the BLC undertakes annually, is so meaningful and yet so fast. Let me explain…
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Eating, Laughing and Dancing while Celebrating Life

Volunteers began the day early at the Hynes Convention Center setting up tables, assembling centerpieces and laying out tableware. By 3 pm the main ballroom at the Hynes was set and beautiful, ready for the guests to arrive. BLC Director of Nutrition Services Michael Bacon oversaw the whole operation. When he called back to the Center with the good news that the tables were set and the flowers out everyone let out a whoop of excitement. Around the BLC the Celebration of Life Thanksgiving Dinner is a popular and much loved event among the staff, members and volunteers. It is one of the few times during the year that the whole BLC family is working together on one big project. So many people play a role in the event that it becomes all anyone can talk about.
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Arts Abound at the BLC

[a reprint from our print newsletter Lifetimes, which you can check out on our website]

We often talk of the active artists’ community here at the BLC. It’s a vibrant and popular component of what makes the BLC so unique. Member artists contribute works to our annual Art of Living Calendar; they decorate the BLC with their creations and share their skills with others. The latter is very much the case with Juan Mendez, a member since 1996. Juan is a Peer Advocate and local artist who helps coordinate art classes here at the BLC. “A lot of people here have a lot of talent,” says Juan. Classes include painting, beaded jewelry and sometimes clay pottery and mask making, and are all geared at bringing out the artist in all of us.
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Holiday Recipe From the BLC Kitchen

We asked Michael Bacon, Director of Nutrition Services at the BLC for a recipe he recommends for the holidays. Here is his delicious Cranberry Chutney recipe just in time for the holiday season.

Cranberry Chutney

Makes about 5 cups

1 12oz bag cranberries
1 and ¼ cups brown sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 cup orange juice
½ cup chopped dried apples
½ cup chopped dried apricots
½ cup golden raisins
¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground clove

Place all items in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring well. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for about 20 to 30 minutes until chutney has reduced and thickened. Place in non aluminum container with cover ( do not use aluminum foil) and chill.

Make sure all dried fruit is chopped small, it will rehydrate while cooking and get larger.

You may also vary the amount of sugar and cider depending on taste. I don’t like it real sweet.

I enjoy making this for the holidays because it is a fun twist on an old favorite. Cranberries are as much a part of the holidays as turkey and pie, but this adds a menu item that is a little zippy and refreshing at the same time. It also makes a great condiment to add to a sandwich and goes great with almost any other meat.