Tuesday, October 25

A Healthy Cuban Dinner in 15 Minutes

by Katherine Matutes

I went for tall, dark and handsome when I married my Cuban-born college sweetheart, Jose Ramon Matutes (his friends call him Ray). The marriage commitment came with a promise to my lovely mother-in-law that I would do my best to teach our children about their Cuban heritage.

Easier said than done, as I now understand the challenge of cooking healthy foods that kids will eat while not spending all my time in the kitchen. Cuban meals are often heavy on the starch and are fried. But, there is another lighter side to Cuban cuisine that pairs common ingredients in an unusual way and results in tasty and somewhat exotic fare. Here is one my family’s favorites, Picadillo (pronounced pick-a-dee-yoh). I promise a healthy and delicious meal in 15 minutes!

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 large bell pepper, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 C. dried cherries or golden raisins (raisins are traditional)
15 large olives drained and sliced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions and peppers 'til somewhat soft (about 2 minutes). Add ground beef and continue to cook until almost completely browned (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and oregano and heat 2 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro, reduce heat to simmer to allow flavors to blend (5-7 minutes), top with fresh cilantro before serving.

To round out this meal I cook brown Minute Rice while the peppers and onions are sautéing and I also serve with peas and corn on the side (although once served it is traditionally all mixed together). I use frozen peas and corn and the whole thing comes together in 15 minutes!

More About Katherine Matutues

Friday, October 21

T-minus 1 Day and Counting…

by Lisa Freeman

It’s hard to believe there is only 1 day until the 13th annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts kicks off. Most people have no idea how much preparation and planning go into this event. As I continue to make lists in the middle of the night and lists during the daytime, thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek, so step right in…

Eight months before we sell the first ticket or book, we generate our very first list. Our festival committee, a group of extremely dedicated volunteers, reviews approximately 200 authors and book titles sent to us from the Jewish Book Network. With list in hand, Larry Rothenberg, Director of Arts and Education, and I travel to NYC in late May to attend the Jewish Book Network fair where we spend a very intense 3+ days. We meet with colleagues, but most of our time is spent listening to the 200 authors give a 2-minute presentation about their work. Imagine boiling down all those months of writing and editing to a 2-minute “make it or break it” presentation. Our hearts go out to all of those earnest authors.

We generate our next list shortly after we return from “the Big Apple” and meet with our committee. Together we whittle down the long list of authors to those we wish to invite to our book festival. By mid-July, we know which authors accepted our invitations and then the list-making really takes off. From travel details for our guest authors, to raising sponsorship money to be able to present the fine programs we do, to choosing and ordering books for the book sale, to targeting partners for individual author events, the lists are never-ending.

The Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts is truly a labor of love. We look forward to welcoming all of you at our author, performance and film events as we kick off the festival this Saturday, October 22, at 7 pm and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm with the “the prince of Kosher Gospel,” Joshua Nelson. Don’t miss this weekend’s performance – you’ll be hearing about how Joshua rocked Laikin on Monday morning!

I hope to see you soon at the festival.

More About Lisa Freeman

Tuesday, October 18

The Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts

by Larry Rothenberg

I gotta do it. How can I not write about the 13th Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts? After working almost all year on one big blowout–heart, soul, brain–of course I must tell you about it. It is right around the corner: October 22–November 19.

Something for everyone...LITERALLY!
Reading and ordering books, meeting authors, arranging art displays, working with performers...those are just some of what Lisa Freeman and I have been doing for months. All to create the greatest Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts...ever. For you.

We kick off October 22 and 23 with an extravaganza–Joshua Nelson–the Prince of Kosher Gospel. There has never been such an uplifting, finger-snapping, jump-out-of-your-seats show like this at the JCC. And we do not slow down. 

Discussions with 8 authors, a full Day of Wellness, two full-length films, award-winning shorts from the Heartland Film Festival and an intriguing art show in partnership with the Herron School of Art and Design.

Be part of it! I am positive there is something there for you. Lots of somethings. We’ll be here. How about you?

I hope I have whetted your appetite. To find out more, check us out at http://www.jccindy.org/JCC_Festival_of_Books_and_Arts.aspxThen, please register for our outstanding offerings.

More About Larry Rothenberg

Tuesday, October 11

My Journey from 200 lbs Back to 150 lbs

by Craig Ervin
Four months ago something quite tragic happened in my life. 
I turned 30.
Yes, 30. That’s the age when everything starts to break down, right? Since turning 30 I’ve fallen down stairs (while on my 30th birthday vacation in Australia!) and damaged my ankle to the point that I cannot run distance. I’ve been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus due to an increasing issue with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) aaaaaaand, I’ve hit the big 200 lbs on the scale. Admittedly, I’ve played my own pity party. However, boo hoo time is over and I’m ready to get things back on track.
I am committing to losing the 50 lbs I’ve gained in the past 18 months. Losing the weight will directly affect my GERD issue and my ankle. I’ll also be able to fit into most of my clothes again! It’s not easy being a 5’6” gent with a size 38 waist!
When I started working in the JCC accounting office in 2007, I was out of shape and an uncomfortable 190 lbs. It took me almost a year of employment before I finally ventured down to the Mordoh Fitness Center. It’s the best thing I ever did for myself! (2nd best would be the day the fitness staff introduced me to the stair master!) I started working out with a personal trainer and found myself 50 lbs down in a matter of 8 months. So with that being said…
Let it now be declared from atop the highest stair master; Craig Ervin will be back to 150 lbs by June 2012. You are invited to follow my journey and perhaps embark on your own.
How will I accomplish my goal? Eating smart (no fad diets), working my butt off and relying on YOU! Having the support and dialogue of fellow gym-goers is priceless. Over the next 8 months, I’ll update everyone through the JCC Banter Blog as to how I’m progressing, but don’t wait until my next post to hear how I’m doing–come down to the Mordoh Fitness Center and see firsthand! Better yet, how about attending a BOOTCAMP session with me? BOOTCAMP returns this month beginning October 15th–I’m ready for it!
Here’s to the journey and the new friends to be made along the way!

More About Craig Ervin

Tuesday, October 4

Then and Now: Some Thoughts about the Environment

by Bruce Sklare

I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Do you remember the 1973 Arab Oil Boycott and the long lines at gas stations and the inflated gas prices? How did we–the collective we–respond to the “crisis” back then? I recall three ways. We:

 1) Reduced our use of energy.

2) Became more energy self-sufficient.
    (Including using renewable energy sources.)

3) Adopted a simpler lifestyle in order to use less fossil fuels
    and became better stewards of the resources we have.

It was shortly after the Oil Boycott that Buckminister Fuller coined the term “Spaceship Earth” to underscore the fact that we are all traveling together on our planet and that our cumulative actions impact our environment.

A few years after the Oil Boycott ended and the cost of fuel dropped, most people returned to their previous habits and lost interest in the ideas of sustainability, environmental awareness, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. So much for Spaceship Earth.

Today we see a resurgence of the values that were prevalent during the Arab Oil Crisis. Are we any more committed today than we were in the 1970s and early 80s to preserving our natural environment? I have been wondering how we can take what we learned then and apply it to the situation we’re in now. How can we promote interest in preserving our Spaceship Earth when oil prices stabilize and the economic crisis settles down?

One way is through education. Another is through recognizing and experiencing  the beauty of the natural world around us. That’s what the national Earth Day celebration is all about.

I invite you to join in the JCC’s celebration of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, 2012. If you would like to volunteer to help us plan this campus-wide event to explore the great outdoors contact me at brsklare@JCCindy.org. I look forward to hearing from you!