Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Friday, January 24, 2014

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About How Mozzarella is Made*

* But Were Afraid to Ask (Well maybe not everything, but most people will know a lot more.)

Until recently, most people's idea of mozzarella was that rectangle bought in the grocery store. They also had some vague idea it was Italiano in origin, & mostly used for pizza.
While to some extent that is true, that is only a small part of the mozzarella story.
Over the past few years fresh mozzarella has been showing up in the cheese isle. While it is closer to the original, it still is only a small part of the story.
The old standard is actually a low moisture verson, often made from skim milk. 
The type we now often see in the form of balls, packed either in brine or vacuum packs is also made in Italia. It is called mozzarella fior di latte (flower of the milk).
But the original & the one that produced in Italia is Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP. It is a type of mozzarella made from the milk of the Italian water buffalo (Bufala mediterranea italiana) that are raised in designated areas of CampaniaLazioApuliaMolise in Italy. The DOP at the end of the name signifies that it was only made in the designated areas.
There is a 4th type called mozzarella affumicata (smoked mozzarella).
Regardless of the type they are all made the same basic way, with the addition of smoking for the last type.
It is from this process, pasta filata, that mozzarella gets its name. The name is derived from the Italiano verb, mozzare, meaning "to cut". You will see why as I describe the process.
But before I get to that I have to explain the origin of the pictures I will be using. The Hy-Vee store on Dodge Street in Dubuque recently added a huge cheese section with a wide variety of domestc & imported cheeses. No, they don't have the Mozzarella di bufala yet, but the person that runs it has ordered it.
As a part of the expansion, they have begun making their own fresh mozzarella every Friday. Actually the 2nd half of the process as they get the curd, made from whole milk, elsewhere.
To the milk is added a whey starter that contains thermophilic bacteria. The milk is left to ripen so that the bacteria can multiply. When it is ripe, rennet is added so the milk can coagulate. This curd is then cut & allowed to "heal" (firm up). It is then cut again, heated & the whey is seperated from the curd. The curd is then put into hoops so it can form a solid mass with a pH of 5.2-5.
It then looks like this:

It is now ready for the pasta filata process.
The curd is now cut up into cubes.

Meanwhile water is being heated up to pour on the curd.

At this point the kneeding process begins.

As the kneeding continues the curds melt together.

When it reaches the point where it can be easily stretched & not fall apart, it is ready for the final shaping. It must be pliable, but definitely not rubbery.

To shape it an end is grabbed & stretched out.

The piece is folded over & over on itself.

Finally it is ready to be shaped. In this case into a ball. Sometimes three stands are woven together. Or it is shaped into blocks. The blocks is partially dried to become the low moisture version.

It is then put into water to cool. Then it is put into containers with some of the brine.
This is the 2nd week they made their own mozzarella at the store. I didn't have my camera to take pictures to show you the learning process. It takes practice to get the skill down. Last week there was a definite progression from the poorly done 1st batch to the good third batch. This week was even better.
While the low moisture mozzarella is OK, the fresh is so much better. Hopefully they will soon be able to get some of the imported buffalo mozzarella so I can finally taste it the way my maternal grandparents did in the Old Country.

My thanks to Kathy for allowing me to photograph her efforts.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2014 March for Life Rally

While I wasn't able to participate in the 2014 March for Life, I was able to watch what was going on via EWTN.
Because of the weather, many people who had hoped to attend were unable to. Still it looked like a huge crowd, much larger than the thousands the little coverage by the Main Stream Media (MSM) claims. It was definitely more like Tens of thousands. Jranne Monahan, president of March for Life said it looks like it was near last year's attendance.
Here are a couple shots of the crowd from different angles, you decide.

The pre-walk rally began shortly after Noon (EST). There was a theme focusing on adoption as the alternative to abortion. The opening prayer was given by Bishop Demetrios, auxiliary bishop of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.

Next up was Jeanne Monahan.

She shared Papa Francesco's Tweet about the March: “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.” 
She went on to talk about what the real War on Women is. It is actually a War on Motherhood being pushed by those who support abortion. She pointed out that in the USA 1 child is adopted for every 64 aborted. She also said that abortion is anti-mother, anti-father, anti-family.
The next speaker was House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor.

He talked about how the unalienable right to life extends to the unborn. He said this is a moral truth that was pointed out in a document written by a fellow Virginian severl centuries ago when he said these rights were given "by our creator."
He added that we cannot allow opponants of life to weaken the moral fiber of our nation.
He was followed by Representative Chris Smith, Pro-life Caucus Chair.

Rep. Smith said that abortionists are the victim makers. On the other hand, Pro-lifers are welcoming of those victims. The victims are welcomed, embraced, loved & cherished as are all women & children.
Represntative Vicky Hartzler spoke next.

Her theme was that abortion hurts everyone. It hurts the woman. It also robs the men of the privilege of fatherhood. She called on our nation's leaders to stop upholding abortion & to start encouraging abortion. This is something she has done by example. She shared the story of how she was able to adopt.
Molly Ann Dutton spoke next.

She was there to talk about those conceived in rape. She wasn't speaking theoretically. She had been conceived as a result of a sexual assault on her birth mother. Her mother's husband demanded she get an abortion. Instead her birth mother went to Birmingham, AL where a Christian adoption agengy helped her. 22 years later Molly Ann Dutton was elected Auburn's 100th homecoming queen.
Another powerful story was shared by Nichole Peck, Regional Coordinator, Silent No More.

She talked about how she was treated by the abortion clinic. She said they took her money, they took her baby, they took her self-respect. She talked about the damage done. She had a quiet shame. She felt inadequate, unworthy of love. It wasn't until she went through a Life in the Spirit seminar that she found forgiveness. She was then able to name the baby Peter.
Another result of the abortion was infertility. But she has been able to adopt 2 babies. She also mentioned where you can read more stories like hers.
After Timothy Saccoccia of the March for Life Education & Defense Fund announced the student essay contest & poster contest winners, Giovanna Romero, Latinos Por La Vita, spoke.

She talked about how, through abortion, Latinos & African-Americans are being sytematically assaulted. We must end this genocide. She ended by saying "We will make an end to abortion!"
Dr. Donna Harrison spoke next.

She talked about how, in her practice, she saw many patients harmed by abortion. She went on to talk about how the front linesof abortion are changing to places like dorm rooms. Women are now given drugs that the go home to take. Pro-lifers need to tell the truth about those drugs, how dangerous they are & the harm they can do.
Before going on to the last 2 speakers a list of other Pro-life groups participating in the March for Life was read. It was way too long for me to share.*
The next to the last speaker was Ryan Dobson. He works with his father, Dr. James Dobson.

He shared his story of how the Dobsons adopted him. He then introduced his father, Dr. James Dobson.

Dr. Dobson shared how a couple came to him 28 years ago. The woman was suffering from abdominal pains. The doctors had done many tests & taken may x-rays. Finally the figured out she was pregnant. The couple was then told that because of all the x-rays etc, the child would probably not be healthy because of the damage done. Dr. Dobson told them to give the child life, no matter the outcome. The couple has a healthy baby girl. She is now married. The couple work in an inner city feeding & caring for the homeless. Dr. Dobson said to those listening that no matter what others say "Let your baby live!"
Dr Dobson lead the closing prayer. Then everyone went to line up for the march to the Supreme Court building.

At the Supreme Court speakers from Slent No More shared their testimonies.

As I said at the beginning the little coverage by the MSM painted it as a very small number. But they also missed the point, whether it was thousands, tens of thousands, or even near last year's number, the real story is the commitment of the Pro-lifers. No matter the weather, those who got there did their best to get there. & those that were planning to go but didn't make it only missed because the weather prevented them.
Usually there are about 10 or so pro-abortion counter protesters at the Supreme Court. The MSM tries to build it up to make it look like there are more. This year there were only 2 & according to a friend of mine, they were silently leaving when the DBQ group got there.
It is that commitment, plus the fact that we are on the right side of the battle are the reasons we must keep on fighting, even if things look dark at times. In the end we will win.

* 1 of the groups listed caught my attention, Italians for Life. Haven't found anything about them yet, but will keep looking.

Note: The pictures were screenshots of the EWTN live streaming of their coverage that I took via my tablet.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Fruit of Praying in Front of Abortion Clinics

Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood abortion clinic director & Catholic convert was the guest on tonight's episode of The Journey Home on EWTN. She shared her powerful story. She also talked about how to reach out to those involved in the abortion industry as well as those men & women who have aborted their child. But there was 1 thing that especially stood out because I had never heard this statistic before.
Abby shared something she was told at 1 of the last conferences she attended as a Planned Parenthood employee. At that conference she was told that when there are people praying in front of an abortion clinic 75% of those who have an appointment to have an abortion don't show up.
Yup, 75% do NOT show up for the appointment. While some may go elsewhere, it is fairly certain that a large number never have the abortion. So, if you ever wonder what fruit your prayer is bearing, this is just one of them.
As I was thinking about it, a question popped into my mind. Planned Parenthood & other abortion providers push for bubble laws that require Pro-lifers to stay so far away from the clinic, sometimes up to 35 feet away. They say it is to protect their clients from being hassled & threatened by the Pro-lifers. Those of us on the Pro-life side have always assumed that this was to limit our effectiveness in stopping a woman from making the terrible mistake of aborting her child. But maybe there is more.
Could it be that they figure the further away we are, the less likelihood there is of a woman being a no-show?
Irregardless, we see once again the importance of prayer as the start, end & undergirding of our efforts to end the abortion holocaust. It also reminds us that even if we don't see the results now, our prayers are bearing fruit, in more ways than we realize.
Not all of us can stand in front of a clinic to pray. But all of us can & should pray daily for an end to abortion. We should also pray for the workers at abortion clinics, those who are contemplating an abortion & those who have had one.
In conclusion I would like to share a prayer I have prayed daily for many years. It is a prayer many of us in the Pro-life movement pray. This prayer was written by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. I have no idea how many children have been saved through my praying it. But I know that it has been successful. 

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”


Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Dubuque Walk for Life

On Saturday, 18 January 2014 Dubuque Co. Right to Life held its 30th Walk for Life. The walk is a prayful witness to the community of the value of every life, born & unborn. In part it is also to publicly mourn the loss of what is now about 56 million lives to abortion. 
Most years it has been cold, sometimes bitterly cold during the event. This year was a little different. While the temperatures were milder this year, in the hours before the 10:30 am start time about 4-5 inches of snow fell in the area. Most of the roads were still snowy & at times hard to travel. That didn't stop the 120 plus people from showing up. (Note: this is an about average turn out.) Many drove in from outside the city limits. 
The walk usually begins with a rally at the Washington Park Gazebo, then the walk to the Courthouse is held. This year things were slightly rearranged because it was still snowing. The talks were held after the walk at the KC Hall.
People gathered in the park in preperation for the walk.

Among those who particpated was the new Archbishop of Dubuque, Michael Jackels.

Archbishop Jackels (center right) 

As people were waiting to start many of the children there took advantage of the snow to have a little fun.

Each person who wanted was also given an artificial rose to carry. The rose is a symbol of those who lost their lives to abortion. At 10:30 am Marian Bourek, executive director of DCRTL, called everyone to prayer. After the prayer & led by the KCs, the group began their walk to the DBQ Co. Courthouse.

Some of the sidewalks were partially clear, others not yet cleared. But that didn't deter anyone from walking & praying along the way. When they arrived at the Courthouse, 2 of the Knights formed an honor guard on each side of a bassinet. The roses were placed in it. As the article in today's TH described it "Snowflakes softly kissed red roses lovingly placed inside a bassinet in front of the Dubuque County courthouse on Saturday."

Everyone then continued on until the reached the Knights of Columbus Hall. They then went upstairs to the room where the rally was held.

Marian served as MC to welcome everybody. Then she invited the Rev John Hulsizer, Church of the Nazarene, up to give the opening prayer.

Througout the program Marian shared some information about what DCRTL was doing. 1 of the things shared was the good news that the lives of at least 15 unborn babies had been saved through the prayful protest held in front of the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. I say at least because those are the ones we know of. There are probably several others who haven't told us that our being there, praying, & when they were willing, talking to the people considering abortion about the alternatives.
The 1st speaker was  Liz Cushman, chair of the DCRTL Board. She talked about having the heart of a mother for those babies that are being aborted.

She was followed by Steve Fuerst. He spoke on the reasons like gender & abnormalities that are used to justify an abortion He talked about how it is often justified as a reason to "alleviate further burden" of the parents or chld. But, as he showed, that isn't so.

Next up was Josephine Smith, a student at Aquin in Cascade, IA. She was winner of the annual essay contest. She read her winning composition. 

The keynote speaker was Archbishop Jackels. He was welcomed with a standing ovation.

Archbishop Jackels said he had prepared a talk. But after hearing the mention of roses earlier he started out by talking about "Roses in December.

He talked the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego. He pointed out how Our Lady used "Roses in December" to convince an "old, fat, grumpy Bishop" of her message.
He went on to say that those "Roses in December" are a reminder to all of us of God's love, tenderness & compassion for all people. That compassion is for born & unborn, old & young, ill or healthy. He said that we must have the same compassion.
Next he shared some of what Blessed Pope John Paul II said in Oct 1979 at the Capital Mall in DC. Part of what the Pope said was "We will stand up every time life is attacked."
The Archbishop said we all must do just that, stand up for life. Not everyone can stand out in front of Planned Parenthood, not everyone can walk. But all can pray. He went on to say that all can vote. They must do so in accord with right thinking. That thinking must be formed by being properly educated in Catholic values. At the conclusion, the Archbishop received another standing ovation.
After some closing remarks by Marian, a chili luncheon was served to provide a time of fellowship for those attending this year's Walk.
Several busloads of people will be leaving from DBQ to attend the March for Life in DC.  On 25 January 2014 there will be the Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco. Additionally many communities across the USA had their own walks & marches. For the most part, the Main Stream Media will ignore them, downplay the numbers &/or play up the pro-abortion side. While it would be nice to get the media coverage it should, the most important thing is that we keep standing up for life. In the end, we will win because we are on the right side of history. 56+ million unborn babies denied the right to life due to abortion is 56+ million too many. This holocaust must end. Let us not give in to dispair or fustration. & let us pray that soon we will no longer need to hold events like these because people will see the truth about the evil that calls itself abortion. May the USA acknowledge the truth stated in the Declaration of Independence. That every human being from the moment of conception (fertilization) is endowed by the Creator with the unalienable right to life.

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