Cocoa Hot Fudge Sauce Recipe

Here’s a little gem I have made for a long time. Way back when, I used to babysit for three young kids and their mother always made this recipe for them. I never knew you could make hot fudge sauce with unsweetened cocoa, primarily because my mom used to just buy jars and cans of chocolate syrup. So, when I first tasted this hot fudge sauce, I was in heaven. Easy to make with unsweetened cocoa – and who doesn’t have unsweetened cocoa sitting on the shelf! – and better than store bought, this cocoa hot fudge sauce is simply a delight all year long.

Ingredients

3/4 Cups sugar
1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Cup whole milk or half and half
1/4 Cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of salt

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cocoa and milk, stirring with a whisk or fork until completely combined and smooth.

Put the saucepan on medium heat and stir continually until the ingredients have come to a boil.

Stir in butter and continue to boil until sauce thickens, about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and salt.

Store in container in the refrigerator. Makes about 12-13 ounces, or about one small jar.
To reheat, microwave for approximately 30 seconds.

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Baby Boomers and the Opioid Epidemic – Part 2

In my March 21, 2018, post, I wrote that the opioid epidemic knows no age – that baby boomers are affected as much as younger generations.

Center for Disease Control Statistics

The CDC has published information on just how much the opioid epidemic has affected lives. In its report, the CDC stated that from 1999-2016, more than 200,000 people died in the United States from prescription opioids. Deaths in 2016 were five times higher than in 1999. In 2016, more than 40% of all U.S. opioid deaths involved a prescription opioid. These are stunning numbers and makes you wonder how and when this got so out of hand.

The Dawn of the Opioid Crisis

In the mid 1990’s, the Sackler brothers and their company, Purdue Pharma, made the drug OxyContin and marketed it as a cure-all with no addictive tendencies. In my March post, I wrote about a great article in the New Yorker that went through the history of the Sackler brothers and how they turned OxyContin into a gold mine through their marketing efforts. When confronted with the possibility that OxyContin was addictive, they kept denying its abusive effects, all the while reaping in the cash. Well, the New York Times just published an article showing that Purdue Pharma knew about the abuse in the first few years after OxyContin was on the market and that the company hid the information. The Justice Department investigated Purdue Pharma for four years and recommended charges be brought against company executives. Rather than indict, in 2007, the US Government settled the matter with minor penalties and a big fine. The Justice Department thought that by charging executives and giving Purdue Pharma a hefty fine, that the penalties would deter other drug companies from flooding the market with prescription drugs.

They were wrong. The opioid markets were saturated with pills. And here we are today.

Straight Up Rhubarb Pie Recipe

No strawberries, no blueberries, no pineapple or other fancy fillers to take over the flavor. Just straight rhubarb pie. This recipe is a perfect combination of tart and sweet and gives a good balance of rhubarb and sugar so the filling isn’t soupy.

Ingredients

4 Cups chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 Cups white sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon butter
Pastry for a double crust pie

Instructions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the sugar and flour. Line the bottom crust in the pie pan. Sprinkle about 1/4 of the mixture over the bottom crust. Put the rhubarb on top of this mixture. Sprinkle with remaining sugar and flour mixture. Dot with small pieces of butter and then cover with the top crust. Flute the edges of the pie to seal in the filling. Poke holes in the top crust for venting. As an option, cover the fluted edges of the pie with aluminum foil so the crust edges do not burn and remove the foil about 15 minutes prior to taking the pie out of the oven.

Place pie on the lowest rack in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bank for another 40-45 minutes.

The Senior Safe Act is Now Law – Helping to Protect Elders from Financial Abuse

As part of a larger financial overhaul bill, on May 24, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Senior Safe Act.  While much of the reporting on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was about the Dodd-Frank revisions, the law incorporated most of the original provisions of the Senior Safe Act, a law geared toward protecting the elderly against financial abuse.

The Senior Safe Act

The Senior Safe Act allows financial institutions and its employees to report elderly financial abuse without  fear of privacy law violations.  Individuals and companies that properly train employees to recognize signs of elder financial abuse are immune from liability for reporting suspected abuse, as long as the reporting was done in good faith and done with reasonable care.  The financial institutions include credit unions, banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies.

Protecting the Elderly from Financial Abuse

Banks and other financial institutions are on the front lines when witnessing possible financial abuse. Until last week, individuals who witnessed elder exploitation risked being in violation of federal and state privacy laws if the suspected abuse was reported. Watching the abuse and not being able to say anything to authorities put these individuals and their employer in a tough spot. With this new law, the elderly can be better protected by financial services industry employees.

The elderly lose between $3 billion and $36 billion per year to financial fraud, according to Consumer Reports in 2015. The amount depends on the survey conducted. While the range varies between the different surveys, there is no dispute that the elderly are vulnerable to friends, family and strangers when it comes to their money. In another study, Allianz reported in 2016 that the average financial loss to elderly victims was $36,000.00, and the numbers will grow with the aging baby boomer population.

Something must be done about this unspeakable crime plaguing our elderly. The Senior Safe Act is a step in the right direction. Giving individuals and their employers who are closest to an elder person’s money the ability to speak out when wrongdoing is suspected is a relief, but more needs to be done to protect our elderly.

The Death of Convenience – Moving Out of a Metro Area

For those living in a large city or surrounding area, we tend to take for granted the ease of getting things done in our everyday lives. Convenience is hard when moving out of the city.  In the city and metro areas, grocery stores, dry cleaners, video stores, restaurants, and just about anything else we need to survive on a daily basis is either within walking distance or a short drive away. Having a pizza delivered or grabbing a carry-out is second nature. Jumping on an expressway and driving 20 miles to meet up with friends – no big deal – 20 miles for someone living in a city or suburb is a hop, skip and a jump. Then, as the years pass by, you decide to retire or semi-retire and move to that small town that offers a slower and less hectic life – something that you have dreamed about most of your working years. But with the move, you soon discover that you need to adjust to a lifestyle in ways you never thought before.

Convenience is Hard When Moving Out of a Metro Area

When you move to a more rural area, as we have discovered, the conveniences that you took for granted living in a large city or surrounding suburb are a rude awakening that, indeed, you took them for granted. We moved from a large metro area of about 4.2 million people to a town about 10 miles outside of a resort city, with a population for the entire area totaling 140,000. Big difference. We discovered shortly after making the move that our slower and less hectic lifestyle was wonderful, but our ability to get things done at the snap of the fingers was virtually impossible. For instance, trying to find a dry cleaner that has one hour or same day service – not to be found. Pizza delivery – we live too far outside the big city. Video store – they just closed the one by us and we now have to drive to the big city to rent a DVD. Grocery shopping – only in the big city. Restaurants – only a few in our small town and you get tired of the food. Chain stores – only in the big city. Soon after our move, we discovered that we were at least 10 miles away from just about every amenity we grew accustomed to when we lived in a metro area. Now, 10 miles may not seem like much to someone who lives in a big city or suburb, but in a rural area, 10 miles is about a one-half hour drive. Picking up carry-out Chinese food can take an hour. Finding a plumber entails an extra service charge for driving to our house. Renting an on-demand movie is much more expensive than being able to run to the video store to pick up a DVD. Making sure your car has enough gas is always on your mind.

Advantages of Moving to a Small Town

We are by no means complaining of the simpler life we have chosen. Moving to a small town has added years to our lives. We enjoy the comfort of fresh air, the home-town charm of our friends and neighbors, the slow pace, the stress-free attitude, and of course, the beautiful waterside. But, as with everything in life, there is a yin and yang. We love our lifestyle, but we have had to learn to plan better. If we are down in the big city, we do everything at once, because if we forget something, it means another 10 mile trip down the road and 10 miles back. If we are having friends or family visit us, we meet them in the big city for lunch or dinner. If we need gas, it is a staple that we fill up when we are in the big city. Just about everything we do is centered around planning for when we go to the big city. Initially, this was very disruptive, but now it has become reflexive for one of us to ask the other if we need anything in the big city. So, our lifestyle in terms of the physical convenience of getting things done and having things at our fingertips is gone. But our lifestyle in terms of our new way of life far outweighs any of these hassles as we move to the retirement phase of our life. We have adjusted quite well.

A Private Mortgage – This Can Be A Win-Win With Family And Friends

There are banks on just about every corner in the event you want to borrow money to buy a house, but not every person can qualify for a mortgage. A person may have just come out of a financial hardship and unable to obtain bank financing or refinancing for a house.  A self-employed individual does not have W2 forms nor a steady income that lenders like.  Young adults are still building their credit scores.  There are a myriad of reasons a person’s finances do not look the way a bank wants them to look.  Banks look at credit score, payment history, ability to make future payments and collateral when reviewing a loan application.  Some borrowers, for whatever reasons, just can’t meet the stringent requirements of a bank.  Even though a potential borrower may be more than able to repay the loan, banks have specific criteria and rarely waiver in their requirements to qualify a borrower.  But, there are alternatives to obtaining a loan for a house.  One way is with a private mortgage.

What is a Private Mortgage?

The concept of a private mortgage is not very well known in this country. It is money that is lent to you by friends, family, or other private sources. The term “private” means the mortgage is not coming from a bank, mortgage broker or a financial institution, but is coming from a private arrangement. There are private mortgages that come from persons the borrower does not know, which are called hard money loans and not discussed in this post. The focus of this blog post is loans from and to friends, family and acquaintances. For instance, if a parent wants to sell their house to an adult child who does not qualify for a bank mortgage due to student loans or recent employment, the parties can finance the purchase and sale with a private mortgage. The parent would finance the sale by loaning the adult child the money, and the adult child would agree to the loan with a mortgage securing the home in the event the child ever defaults on the loan. The parent enjoys a steady stream of income until the loan is paid off and the adult child enjoys a custom-tailored loan with a low interest rate using the house as collateral. Or, if the parent has a self-directed IRA, the parent may be able to loan money from the IRA as an investment.

Get it in Writing

Now, I know the old axiom of never loan money to friends and family, and believe me, I have been burned a few times from it. But if you get a well-documented written agreement between the borrower and lender there should be no disagreement of what is owed and when it is owed.  With a private mortgage, if you are either a borrower or a lender, you negotiate the terms of the loan agreement.  The agreement sets the interest rate (make sure the interest rate is within the IRS guidelines), the terms, prepayment, collateral (usually, the house), other terms agreed to, and what to do if there is a default, e.g., foreclosure.  The terms are customized to fit both the borrower’s and lender’s wants and needs.  Even though this is a loan between friends, family or acquaintances, every aspect should be covered in the loan agreement.  Imagine what could go wrong if the loan was over a period of 30 years, and then imagine what you would do if it was not in writing.  So, when the loan agreement and collateral come into play, both the borrower and the lender should rely on experts to help them through this part of the process.  An attorney would be able to prepare the documents and advise on state law, a financial planner would be able to advise in the event the lender wants to use a self-directed IRA, and an accountant would be able to discuss tax deductions and appropriate interest rates.  The process is really not that difficult once the lender and borrower agree on the terms.

Win-Win

A private mortgage with family and friends can be a beneficial situation for all involved. Borrowers typically save money by paying relatively low interest rates and can customize the terms of loan, and lenders who have extra cash on hand can earn more interest on the loan than what is paid on a CD or savings account. There are, however, risks to the relationship between the lender and borrower. So, before signing up for such a substantial commitment of being either a lender or a borrower, make sure it’s in your best interests – financially and emotionally.

A Gig Economy is Perfect for Retired Baby Boomers

Retired Baby Boomers now have the best of both worlds with a gig economy. They have freed themselves from the confines of an organizational life after putting in 25-30 years with a company or companies. Pension, IRA and savings in hand, they can now move to a different chapter in their life of travel, grandchildren, gardening or just plain doing nothing. However, if boredom sets in, if financial constraints require them to seek another job, or if they just want some play dough – cheer up, we live in a gig economy.

Boomers Can Get Paid for Each Gig

A gig economy is where organizations contract with independent contractors for short term “gigs” or temporary positions. A study by Intuit shows that 40 percent of American workers will be independent workers by 2020. For some, independent contracting can be more of a choice, going from project to project. They have the freedom to take on several different ventures and they are their own boss. They give up health care and other benefits a larger company would provide them, but they work on their own terms. This is a different environment than Baby Boomers experienced, where staying at the same company for an entire career was more of a feather in one’s cap because of the generous retirement benefits that came at the end of that career.

In 2016, the McKinsey Global Institute published a report showing that independent workers fell into four categories: free agents, who actively choose independent work and it is their primary income; casual earners, who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice; reluctants, who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs; and the financially strapped, who do supplemental independent work out of necessity.

Upsides of Going from Gig to Gig

For retired Baby Boomers, being a casual earner and cashing in on the gig economy only has upsides. Typically, benefits and all the trappings of the corporate life are behind them. They are living on their own terms now as age and retirement have set in. If they feel like taking on part-time work for a few months, the gig economy provides them numerous opportunities for short-term or project style work. If they want a steady part-time job at one business, the owners are usually happy to have them on contract, since the employer does not have to pay health care or taxes. If Baby Boomers want to work for one day – yes, one day – the Washington Post just published an article where retailers are now beginning to hire for one day jobs. Imagine. If you are a Baby Boomer that splits time between the north and south depending on the season, you can literally make some extra cash going from retailer to retailer picking up open shifts. Or, if you are retired and bored and want something to do, you can pick up some project work in one of your skilled areas, which in today’s high-tech world, can probably be completed on your computer from either your winter or summer house. There really is no losing in a gig economy for Baby Boomers who want to make money after retirement.

Gig Economy for Baby Boomers

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Elder Scam #9 – Craigslist Sale – Overpayment

Scamming the elderly out of their money is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In an effort to make people – parents, children, grandchildren, siblings – more aware of the devious attempts by strangers, friends and relatives to prey on the elderly, I plan to post all of the scams I become aware of.

Craigslist Ad Started Out Innocently

A woman places an ad on Craigslist trying to sell her mother’s vintage bedroom set. A person replies by email and tells the woman she really wants the set because she is going to ship it down south to another home. Overnight, the seller gets a check in the mail for the price of the bedroom set plus shipping costs. The buyer emails the seller and tells her to cash the check, pay the shipper, ship the bedroom set, and keep the extra money. No phone numbers or phone calls were ever exchanged. The seller, feeling a bit leery, takes the check to the police station. The police tell her that the check is phony. Well, if the seller had deposited the check and shipped the bedroom set, by the time the check bounced, the seller would have been out the cost of the bedroom set and the shipping costs. Fortunately, the seller had the wherewithal to suspect something was fishy. However, if it had been her elderly mother that was selling the bedroom set, the outcome may have been quite different.

Family members need to be cautious and stay informed of what their elderly relatives are doing. We live in an age where trusting a stranger or trying to help out a stranger on blind faith no longer provides the “feel good” rewards that it once did. Unfortunately, the “do good” outlook that many of the elderly grew up with has been corrupted by charlatans and swindlers.

How to Grow Pussy Willows from Branch Cuttings

One of the first signs of Spring is when the fuzzy white buds, or catkins, of a pussy willow shrub make their appearance. Growing up, my mom used to cut a few branches every Spring and bring them inside for decorations around the house. This year, around Palm Sunday, she gave me some pussy willow branch cuttings and told me to try to root them and plant them for my own pussy willow shrub. I never thought about trying to root the branches, but Why not give it a try? This is what I did:

Growing the Roots

1. Take the branches from new growth on the pussy willow shrub. Cut the branches between 8” and 12”. Place the branches in a vase filled with water. Make sure the vase is tall enough so that some of the catkins are in the water. Keep the water clean, changing it every week. After about four weeks, you should see roots forming at the bottom and sides of the branches and new greenery forming on the branches above the water.

2. Select a place where you want the pussy willow shrub to grow. In my research, I found pussy willow shrubs are very hardy and can be planted in just about any soil. Like a weeping willow, pussy willows like moist marshy areas, but they also do just as well in drier areas. They like full sun, but my mother’s are planted in morning sun and they thrive. Keep in mind that once the shrubs start growing, they need to be trimmed annually because they can become intrusive and unruly.

Planting the Branches

Dig a hole about 3-4” in width and depth. Place a branch or branches in the hole and fill with soil or peat moss. Water each day until the shrub becomes firmly rooted in the soil.

This was such an easy way to grow a new shrub. I can’t wait until I have my own catkins to bring in the house each year for decorations. Just like my mom!

Family Caregivers – When Is It Time For Assisted Living?

We live in an age where we, as baby boomers are put in the role of caring for our elderly parents. Technology and medical advances have, in many instances, extended the lives of human beings. However, the extension of life does not necessarily equate to the extension of health. As our parents age, they are increasingly vulnerable, unable to make decisions easily, require assistance in caring for themselves and have difficulty keeping up their home. Parents used to be our caregivers, but now the roles are reversing and many of us are now caring for our elderly parents. At the outset of their declining health, we want to keep them at their homes where they are comfortable. And, typically, they want to stay in their familiar surroundings. So, we make arrangements to give them the care that they want. But, when is it time to make the decision that home caregiving by the family can no longer be sustained and it is time for assisted living? This, of course, depends on the family and the health of the parents. Eventually, though, it won’t be a single incident or a long discussion with other family members. Something inside of caregivers will say “it’s time.”

Family caregivers go through a range of emotions and stress when taking care of parents in need. The family usually makes the decision to keep the loved ones at home and work together to take care of them. But, this type of caregiving takes a lot of coordination and can be very time-consuming, particularly if there is only one caregiver. Your everyday life is turned upside down and caregiving can put a strain on your marriage, your relationship with your own children and your finances. In addition, if you have siblings that are not helping (or think they are but really aren’t), this puts a strain on your relationship with them. You become resentful because your siblings continue to lead their normal lives and you, either by choice or by process of elimination, are shouldering the “burden.”

Then there’s the guilt. The guilt of being angry at your parents because you have to tell your spouse and children you can’t do something with them because you have to tend to your parents. The guilt of wanting to move to another state, but you can’t leave your parents and you resent them for not being able to move. The guilt of being impatient around your parents and lashing out at them with frustration. And the guilt of feeling like you are a failure at taking care of them and that the care you give them is not adequate.

We all have our limits. You will know deep down when you have hit your limit because you can no longer physically or emotionally care for your parents. Whether you are caring for them in their home or if they have moved into your home, you will know. You will get to the point where their physical or mental needs are not being met by you. They might be falling frequently, or their dementia has gotten to the point where they need constant medical attention. You always told yourself that it is in their best interests to keep them at their home or your home, but now you are realizing that their best interests are with full time assistance from professionals. You may have promised them over and over again that you will take care of them and you will never put them in a “home.” But their age and health has come to the point where they either need assisted living or need full time professional care at home. Depending on their finances, full time home care may not be an option. Guilt, stress, strain, finances, promises, other alternatives – these are all considerations that must be dealt with when making the decision that your parents will be better off in assisted living. And once you have made peace with the fact that you can no longer do it and that they will be best served by professionals, a small voice will come from within and tell you “it’s time.”

Elder Scam #8: Your Computer May Be Infected

Scamming the elderly out of their money is becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In an effort to make people – parents, children, grandchildren, siblings – more aware of the devious attempts by strangers, friends and relatives to prey on the elderly, I plan to post all of the scams I become aware of.

Caller Says There is a Computer Security Risk

People posing as computer engineers are making cold walls warning people that their computers are at risk for a security threat. The person on the other end offers a free security check over the telephone, but the “engineer” needs remote access to your computer for a diagnosis and a fix.  Once you give these “engineers” remote access, software is downloaded on your computer that allows them to steal your identity, take money from your bank account and look at any other information you may have on your computer.  To boot, once the software is downloaded and your information has been taken, your computer gets hit with a virus.  A similar scam comes in the form of a fake virus protection pop-up while you are on the internet or a virus protection offer in the form of an email.

Don’t Give Out Computer Information

The best practice is to warn your loved one about giving out computer access information over the telephone and on-line and about the dangers of clicking on unknown links and pop-ups. Have your loved one contact you if there is ever a question about giving out personal information.

Does Anyone Miss Old Fashion Telephones? Party Lines? Busy Signals? 411?

We live in an age of cell phones and smart phones. Far before the age of computers, big thick telephone directories along with various shapes, sizes and colors of telephones adorned our walls and countertops. Coiled phone cords could be as short as seven or eight inches or long enough to go from the kitchen to the living room. Now, all of your phone numbers are stored and carried in a device as large as your hand. Some of the younger generation have never experienced an actual telephone affixed to an area of their house or a telephone book so thick that it was sometimes used as a booster seat for dinner. So, here is some nostalgia about old school telephones that the elders can reminisce about and the youngers can be baffled about.

Party Lines

Party lines were local telephone circuits that were shared by more than one user. You could be in your house and on your telephone talking to a friend and someone else on your party line from another location could pick up his phone and listen to everything you are saying. Party lines didn’t allow for privacy. Also, if you needed to make a phone call and you picked up your phone and another person on your party line was talking, you couldn’t use the phone. You had to wait until they were done. There were laws on the books that required a party line to get off the phone in case of an emergency, but it wasn’t enforced very well. You could pay extra to get a private line, but back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, you just learned to deal with a party line.

Busy Signals

Back then, if you were on the telephone and someone tried to call you, he would get a busy signal. A bunch of short beeps.  No automatic voice mail, just a busy signal. If you were the person trying to call in, you would have to hang up and call back later. Until “call waiting” was invented, if you were the one on the telephone, you had no idea that someone was trying to call you, your sibling or your parent. One good thing about the busy signal was that if you didn’t want to talk to anyone, you would just take the phone off the hook. No messages. No incoming. No nothing. Peace and quiet. Well, peace and quiet until the dial tone timed out, then there would be a screeching alarm notifying you that your phone was off the hook. That’s when you would put the phone under your pillow or between your mattress. Now, for those who accidentally left the phone off the hook, once the screeching sound started, you would literally have to go to every phone that was in the house to figure out which one was off the hook. When you have a houseful of children and four or five telephones, this could be annoying to say the least.

Telephone Exchanges

Yes, telephone numbers used to have exchange names at the beginning. The first two letters of the exchange name matched the first two numbers of the telephone number. For instance, we had WARWICK, and the “W” matched the 9 on the telephone dial and the “A” matched the 2 on the dial. To this day, my mother recites the telephone number as “Warwick 8 . . . .” as our old telephone number.

Calling for the Time

The telephone companies always had a phone number you could call any time of the day or night to get the time. “At the tone, the time will be . . . .” said the recording. We used to call the time on New Year’s Eve every year.

Calling Information

If you were looking for a telephone number, dialing 411 would get you someone who worked at the local telephone company. You would give the operator the name and/or the address and the city, and the operator would give you his phone number.

Renting Telephones

Until the mid-1970’s, you could not own a phone. You could only rent, which was a couple dollars a month and added to your phone bill. When you were done with the phone, you had to turn it in to the phone company for credit. The phone company owned the phone so if you didn’t turn it in, the phone company would find you one way or the other. In addition to renting the phone, the telephone company back then had to come to your house to install special telephone jacks in order for your phone to work. If you wanted more than one phone in the house, the telephone company would have to install a jack in each room that you had a phone. What a racket!

Telephone Directories

White Pages and Yellow Pages. The White Pages had names, addresses and telephone numbers of residences and the Yellow Pages advertised businesses. They were both really thick books in our city, so thick that they were eventually chopped up into regional books. This was a poor decision by the telephone company because if I needed a number to a person or a business that was outside my region, I had to call 411. In addition, if I didn’t know the name of the business, but I was looking for, let’s say, a plumber, outside my region, there was no way to get a name or phone number unless I had the regional book. I think businesses lost a lot of money when the telephone company chopped up the Yellow Pages into regions.

Pay Telephone Booths

They used to be at just about every gas station and on every street corner. Not so much anymore.

We have come a long way in telecommunications, but thinking about the old technology takes me back to when the old technology was a fixture in the house, when I fought with my sisters over who was going to use the phone, when I agonized over the decision about whether I wanted a rotary dial or a touch tone phone for my birthday, and when I got excited each New Year’s Eve to call the time so we knew exactly when the New Year struck. Now, that’s nostalgia!

Old World Kiefle Recipe

These little nut rolls are a lot of work, but are absolutely delicious. I found this recipe a few years ago and they exactly duplicated my husband’s Hungarian mother’s kiefles. Unfortunately, the old world kiefles recipe went with her when she passed, so I hunted for one that seemed to include the same ingredients. I hit the jackpot with this recipe. It does take two days to make these delightful treasures, and I usually only make them at Christmas. But on a snowy, icy, cold day in the middle of April, this will keep me busy.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 package (1/4 ounce) dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sour cream

Filling:

4 egg whites
½ to ¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups finely ground walnuts

Proof the yeast by placing the water in a small bowl and sprinkle with the yeast and sugar. Set aside until the mixture swells and becomes bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl, blend together the flour and butter with a pastry blender.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks. Add the sour cream and blend thoroughly. To the flour mixture, add the egg mixture alternately with the yeast mixture. Handle gently and shape into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight.

To prepare the filling, in a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar a little bit at a time until all the sugar is incorporated. Add the vanilla and fold in the nuts. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and divide it into 24 balls (the size of large golf balls). Roll each ball into a circle about 8 inches in diameter (you can use an 8-inch pie pan as a guide). Cut each circle into 8 pie-shaped pieces. Place about 1 ½ teaspoons of the filling at the wide end of each piece. Roll toward the center to encase the filling and form a crescent shape that is about two inches long.

Place the kiefles on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 8 dozen. I have found over the years that it is easier to divide the dough into 20-21 balls that are a little larger and with a little more of the nut mixture. Although they make less than 8 dozen, they are still wonderful. In addition, if I run out of the nut mixture, I use the Solo brand apricot filling to make the last batches of the kiefles and dust the top with powdered sugar. My mom loves the apricot kiefles better than the nut kiefles.  My husband loves the nut kiefles better than the apricot.  So, I make both.

Kiefle - small nut rolls

Old World Kiefle recipe

A New Career After 50? Not So Bad!

Do what you like and follow your dreams. This is exactly what is happening to my husband. An early retiree from a Fortune 500 company, his passion is music. Not pop music, rap, country, or any of those “putrid” (as he describes it) sounds, but Rock and Roll. And when I say rock and roll, I’m talking from the 1960’s and 1970’s, particularly the British Invasion. He knows concert dates, band members, love interests and just about everything else you need to know about music from the 1960’s and 1970’s. He is a virtual encyclopedia of Rock and Roll.  He is the “go to” person when someone has a question about Rock and Roll.

Opportunities for the Retirees are What you Make of Them

So, an opportunity came to him last year. If he would sell advertising for a local radio station, and in return, he would get his own radio show. He would become a disc jockey. Something he always wanted to do but never had the chance. He could have very easily said “No thank you, I’m retired” or “I do not have the experience to be a disc jockey,” but he didn’t. He followed his passion and in a couple of weeks he will be starting a new career promoting what he loves – music.  A new career after 50?  Not so bad!

New Careers are an Adventure for Baby Boomers

It’s never too late to try something different, to start a new life or to take on a new endeavor, as long as it is something you get excited about and look forward to every day. Although when you are younger it is scarier and riskier to take a hard right turn in your career, being over 50 gives you the life experience, patience, financial means and guts to begin a new chapter. So, I say – Sally forth Baby Boomers!

Medicare Versus Medicaid – A Big Difference for the Elderly

Despite the similarity in the words, Medicare and Medicaid are two very different health care programs.  Medicare and Medicaid affect the elderly in different ways.

Medicare vs. Medicaid

Medicare is a federal health care program for people over the age of 65 and those people with disabilities who qualify for Medicare insurance. There is no other qualification. Income level does not matter with Medicare. Medicaid, however, is run by each state (with assistance from the federal government) and is a health care program for lower income people. Each state creates its own Medicaid program based on federal guidelines. Unlike Medicare, where benefits are automatic at a certain age, you have to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

This difference becomes very obvious when you are moving a loved one into assisted living. Medicare, the federal health insurance program, does not cover assisted living. Medicaid does. However, Medicaid requires a person to have a certain income and asset level in order to qualify for Medicaid payments to assisted living centers. Each state is different. For example, in Michigan, the asset level is $2,000.00. Again, Medicaid is for people with little financial means.

Assisted Living and Medicaid

If assisted living is required with your loved one and they do not qualify for Medicaid, then payments to the assisted living center come from personal income and assets. Medicaid requires you to “spend down” these assets until they reach a certain level before Medicaid begins paying. There are certain exempt assets, such as a home, a car, etc., but if your loved one has an IRA, savings account, stocks or any other assets, payments to the assisted living center come from your loved one’s income and assets first. This can financially devastate a family. So, the more time you have to plan for a loved one’s move to assisted living, the better. There are ways that you can decrease the amount of assets, but Medicaid typically has a 60 month look-back period, meaning they will look at all of the asset movement for the past 60 months to determine whether it was a legitimate transfer or whether the asset should be included as part of your loved one’s assets. The Medicaid rules get very tricky, so if you think that the government is going to help pay for your loved one’s stay at a facility, you need to become familiar with Medicaid rules in your state and perhaps seek an attorney for some estate planning for your loved one.

Some individuals are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid and they are called “dual eligible.” For those that receive both coverages, most of their health care costs are covered. Medicare pays first, then Medicaid will pick up most, if not all, of the balance.