My Items

I'm a title. ​Click here to edit me.

The Room Where It Happens

The Room Where It Happens

HCC Student Senate Weekly Podcast Have you ever imagined a podcast made to students for students at Holyoke Community College? Well, “the room where it happens” podcast is here. Every Monday of the spring semester, on all our college platforms. In this first season, you will be taken on an informative journey of all the events, activities, new projects, improvement of policies, updates about EDI equity, diversity, inclusion, and campus safety initiatives basically everything that is happening at HCC. “The room where it happens” podcast will be our space to engage in honest and meaningful conversations with students, faculty, staff, administrators, and campus police who make HCC a reality. Also, this will be a place for everybody to open up and to share anything that is on your mind. We hope that this podcast sparks ideas and topics that inspire us to build a more equitable, inclusive, transparent, and safe campus for all. If you have comments, suggestions, ideas, or anything that you would like to share with the HCC community. We would like to invite you to write to us at studentsenate@hcc.edu! So, I hope you will join us in the “the room where it happens” podcast. Episodes will start on February 8th. Listen on all the HCC platforms. We are so excited to have you with us! My name is Carolina Peña and I am your Student Senate President and our co-host trustee Gi, the student trustee at HCC See you there! BYE!!!!!

Beef Wellington

Beef Wellington

By Lynn Moynahan My mother was a culinary student at her vocational high school. While she didn’t pursue cooking as a career, she has frequently dabbled in different food and drink adventures. From old classics like creamed chipped beef (shit on a shingle) to cake decorating to beer and wine making, my mother is a risk-taker in the kitchen. She may not make any particular thing again but just trying is enough for her. If she likes it, she may keep it going. It’s how her hobby became trying hobbies. There’s always something new she’s trying to do. I take after my mother in a few ways and culinary ability is one. I love almost everything to do with food. I love the familiarity of my family’s traditional foods like Tourèire pie, kapusta, pierogi, creamed salmon. I love trying new foods, watching people make food, learning new techniques in cooking, learning new recipes. Approximately, 65% of my YouTube recommendations and subscriptions are food-based. I love food in general! My paternal grandmother, my Mémère, isn’t much of a cook. She can cook, and what she does make is good. However, she doesn’t like to cook. She doesn’t like to eat, really. She enjoys food but think it’s a waste of time to have to eat. Her husband, four sons, and all her grand- and great-grandchildren beg to differ. We love food! My maternal grandmother, Grammie, I think only liked cooking. She came from a different generation than my other grandmother did (there’s a twenty-year age gap). She was a housewife that made things from scratch or whatever new-fangled thing was in the store (it was a sin to not have Bisquick in your fridge at all times). She told me that in the 50s, she once worked for a very wealthy woman who wanted her cookies unreasonably small, “I made them the size of a quarter teaspoon and she said they were still too big.” she said. She also made one of my all-time favorite foods: shit on a shingle. Thinly-sliced dried circles of beef, quartered, in a cream sauce over toast or mashed potatoes. I’ve had a few versions of this elsewhere, including Stauffer’s frozen variety and some buffets but none has come close to the way my grandmother made it. Her special ingredient isn’t secret and is in many shit-on-a-shingle recipes that can be found online: worcestershire sauce. Most commercial versions omit this ingredient, probably for cost. It adds a savory flavor that, to me, is required in this dish. This year, I’ve decided to try my hand at a different culinary challenge each month. A popular one on YouTube is Gordon Ramsay’s beef wellington, a puff pastry enveloping a seared beef tenderloin covered in a duxelles (a mushroom and shallot mixture) and wrapped with prosciutto. There are thousands of videos of people trying their hand at the original or improving on Ramsay’s classic recipe and while I watched a handful of these, I stuck with the original recipe. Ramsay has been my favorite celebrity chef, not only for his talent and knowledge but his cursing at inept chefs makes my heart happy. Beef tenderloin is one of the more expensive cuts of beef. In my area, a local bulk butcher was $9.99/lb but you had to buy it whole, setting you back about $50 for a package. Big Y ranged from $17.99-$29.99 a pound. BJs Wholesale was $13.49 a pound and will give you the cut you need, so I went there. I called the day before and ordered a 2-pound tenderloin. When I got there, the butcher said the weight was a “little over.” I don’t fret over a little more but the actual weight was 2.75 pounds, making it $37. I asked him to reduce it down, as I didn’t need that much and it was thirty percent more than I needed. So he sliced an end off the meat instead of trimming the flaps that were attached to the side. I can’t bear to be a pain in the ass so I sucked it up and went home. I started as soon as I got home, around 3:00 pm. My boyfriend Marc was sharpening my knives for me so they’d be perfect for the slicing I was going to do. I had been looking forward to this for a few weeks, all the while worrying I was going to screw it up. It’s an expensive piece of meat and a long 3-hour process with several chilling stages. When I opened the tenderloin, there was a large chunk of hard fat on the flat underside. I’m not great with my knife skills but Marc had worked at Big Y’s butcher shop some years back and I trusted he could figure it out. There was a pit in the meat where the fat was so I put some of the English mustard in it and he slapped a small piece of the side flap in it and I didn’t have to worry about it. I liberally salted and peppered the beef and seared all the sides and edges and brushed English mustard all over it. This had to chill for 30 minutes. This prevents overcooking once everything is constructed and ready to go in the oven. My cling wrap is cheap and wasn’t cooperating so I had to have Marc help pull it out while I wrapped it. Pro tip: get the widest cling wrap you can if you’re going to try wrapping it and rolling it like Ramsay does. I didn’t do that. While the duxelles chilled, I took out the puff pastry to roll it out a bit to fit around the whole tenderloin. Puff pastry itself if a time-consuming culinary challenge that I didn’t have the spoons to attempt with an already-challenging dish. The recipe calls for the puff pastry to be rolled out and -- surprise-- chilled. It needs to be brown properly when baking. I stuck it on a baking sheet and tossed it in my fridge. that came out of the mushrooms was astounding and infinite. I could have cooked out a bit more water, I’m sure, but I’m impatient. The duxelles also needs to properly cool before being put on. While the duxelles chilled, I took out the puff pastry to roll it out a bit to fit around the whole tenderloin. Puff pastry itself if a time-consuming culinary challenge that I didn’t have the spoons to attempt with an already-challenging dish. The recipe calls for the puff pastry to be rolled out and -- surprise-- chilled. It needs to be brown properly when baking. I stuck it on a baking sheet and tossed it in my fridge. While the rest of this was resting and chilling, I cleaned up. This is an area of cooking that many people are divided on. Some want to clean up when it’s done and they tend to be messy cooks. I am not one of those people. I don’t want to have an entire kitchen to clean once I’m done eating my meal. That is time to wind down and enjoy the fruits of my labor, even if it’s just a frozen pizza baked in the oven. Once it’s cleaned, I carefully layered the prosciutto onto another piece of cling wrap. This was a true test of patience with the thin slices of meat and finicky plastic wrap. Then, the duxelles was cooled down and I spread it onto the prosciutto layers. Wrapping the chilled beef in it was a delicate process to keep the prosciutto from breaking and sticking to the plastic wrap and I had to have Marc help again. Then, we left it to chill for 30 minutes. The puff pastry wasn’t too difficult to work with. It wrapped around the beef smoothly and with minimal excess. I applied the egg wash and made slashes on the top for a slight decoration. I looked at it for a minute and gave it a pep talk. “Don’t over cook, don’t burn your pastry, don’t leak too much. Medium rare, please.” Marc ventured upstairs from his woodworking cave and I told him I was never going to make it again. “It’s too expensive, too much work, too stressful, and I don’t even know how it’s going to turn out. It’s taking forever with all the chilling it has to do.” After about 40 minutes, I checked the temperature with an instant read thermometer, which read 125 degrees fahrenheit. I gave it another ten minutes and it reached 138 degrees, which was enough for me, since there would be a bit of carryover heat while it rested. It leaked more than I expected but it had a very concentrated and salty mushroom taste. Make sure to cook your duxelles down more than I did! Then, it was time to cut. I don’t have a long bread knife but I did have a short serrated knife, so it wasn’t as beautiful. I wish I could have more accurately captured the medium cooked temperature that it came out as. My camera much prefers natural light when photographing colors accurately but this was 6:15 pm in January, so you work with what you’ve got. I made a gravy with some of the beef trimmings, broth, flour, and seasonings. It worked out well and tasted great with the store-bought mashed sweet potato I bought. There was no way I was preparing a side-dish, too. Marc loved it! We were able to have leftovers for the next day, though they were far from tasting like the fresh version. I am picky with leftovers as it is, but it held up well enough that I enjoyed it. I don’t think Gordon Ramsey would be impressed, but I think he’d know that I am an amateur and would commend me for my efforts. Overall, if you have some spare cash to blow, have some confidence and skills in the kitchen, and want to try your hand at Beef Wellington, give it a shot! I would give this recipe a try again, despite declaring that I wouldn’t earlier. If you want to buy all the ingredients and do the cleanup, I’ll even make it for you! Recipe source: Gordon Ramsay recipe

Broadway and Bootlegs

Broadway and Bootlegs

An article by Mallery MacGrath To say that theater is elitist is an understatement, of course. Ask any teenager who is involved in their high school’s winter production of Into The Woods whether or not they can afford to see their favorite shows. The answer, at least to the majority of Broadway’s new generation of fans, is no. Despite that, these are the kids who know every line to every song and learned the opening number choreography in their bathrooms. How do they develop these intense connections with shows without seeing them? The answer: bootlegs. They watch these bootlegs, or illegally recorded videos of a theater production, that is then shared. There is a large community across the internet of people creating and distributing them. These can come in the form of kids uploading Waitress on YouTube under the name “Pregnancy Baking Slime Tutorial,” or Google Docs folders brimming with copies of Hadestown organized by angle, date and actors performing. Fans everywhere are sharing these bootlegs with each other. Before the internet, bootlegs were a much more lucrative business, with only two or three people filming them and selling them to others. People who owned bootlegs would peddle them or trade them for shows they didn’t have yet. This community of bootleggers still exists, but the accessibility of the internet has also made bootlegs more widely available. Most popular shows, whether on Broadway or off, have a few bootlegs that can be found in a few places around the internet. These videos are shot usually on a cell phone from the audience. While these recordings aren’t the best quality, they bring some of the magic of live theater to those who have all the appreciation, but none of the opportunity to see it. This is theft, we know. But, these are desperate times. Therefore desperate measures are called for. To the people whose work is being filmed and shared for free online, this doesn’t feel like a desperate action. Actors in Broadway shows are often vocal about disliking the bootleg community. Criticisms include the fact that people don’t profit from bootlegs, or that some of the beauty of a show is lost when it’s filmed on an iPhone 6 with a cracked screen. Yet, no one provides an alternative. Bootlegs are about providing options where there are none. Which leaves me to ask, why are there no other options? At this point, it’s not enough to say that those who want to see popular plays and musicals should save up the money to travel to New York and see one. That plan is often unachievable. National tours make this easier for some, bringing shows a lot closer. However, this counts international fans out. Further still, the experience of going to a theater is not possible for some even if they happen to be close to New York or a city visited on tour. Disability can make it so an outing to see a play is simply not going to happen, whether due to sensory issues, immune system concerns, theater accessibility, or any other preventing factor. For all of these people, for a variety of reasons, watching bootlegs at home is the only viable option. So, what else can be done? Professionally shooting productions has been suggested, but often shot down. I’m going to be honest, I’m not exactly sure why that is. Professionally shot musicals, called proshots, mean that fans can see the shows they love with great quality, and the people who worked hard to bring a show to life get to share it on their terms. Fans that are going to see these shows live will still do so, but now they, along with fans everywhere, are able to experience that show whenever they like. A prominent musical with a proshot is Newsies. This show was recorded by Disney in 2017 with much of the original cast. Newsies is a show with a large fanbase, even today, eight years after its Broadway run! Much of this is due to its availability. Yet, Newsies hasn’t escaped the elitism that is ingrained in Broadway’s structure. Newsies is the story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899. It centers on Jack Kelly, leader of a band of newsboys who strike against Joseph Pulitzer when he raises the price of their newspapers by 10 cents. For these children who depend on the money they make selling newspapers, this is a bed and a meal for two days. This show is based off of a Disney movie from 1992 of the same name. The stage adaptation gained a much more significant fanbase than the movie, but the professionally filmed version of the stage show is what cemented the popularity of Newsies. While recording and releasing this musical has been able to combat some of the elitism of Broadway, the story of the poor newsboys has still been twisted by capitalism. This show is about the poor, disadvantaged children of New York striking against the rich newspaper moguls so that they are able to have enough money to eat every day. It’s a show that resonates deeply for people who can relate to financial struggles. Those people, however, are not the ones who were able to spend the money to support Newsies. How was Disney able to make this story into one that the rich people who have the means to see Broadway shows would find palatable? The 2012 Broadway version of Newsies is changed quite a bit from the original. Most notably, Jack Kelly’s love interest, who was once a young Jewish girl named Sarah, sister of two boys who join the band of newsies after their father loses his job after an injury, is changed to Katherine Plumber. Katherine is the daughter of Pulitzer, and is a newspaper reporter who has to write at a different newspaper because her father refuses to hire her. This seems like a small shift, condensing the amount of characters needed and simplifying the plot a bit. But, it makes a huge shift in the meaning of the newsboys’ story. In the 1992 version, it was centered around a class issue. These boys were fighting against the rich for a chance to support themselves. With Katherine added, this became a different issue. She wasn’t struggling with poverty, she was struggling with being a young woman. It isn’t the rich that are holding her back, it’s the older generation. This becomes what’s seen as the newsies’ story as well. Towards the end of the musical, a young Theodore Roosevelt gives a speech. He talks about how the strike was a beautiful thing because it allowed the older generation to pass on the world to the younger generation. But this struggle of the old vs. the young is not what Newsies was about. Pulitzer wasn’t starving children because he was old. He was starving children because he was rich. Changing this dynamic so that the stage show can be something sweet and comfortable for rich people to watch loses some of the punch that it had before. This is not an uncommon story. So many Broadway shows tell the tale of the poor, cleaned up nicely for the rich to enjoy. Shows like Annie or Rent, which are stories about poor people whose struggle is directly related to being poor, are twisted so that the rich consumers don’t have to feel uncomfortable. Bootlegs bring these shows to the audiences that resemble those depicted, but they do so illegally. The people that Broadway makes its money off of aren’t intended to see themselves in shows. This is increased exponentially for people of color, who struggle to even find themselves represented in shows that aren’t explicitly about racism (which can get exhausting to only see yourself in shows about trauma). With the addition of professional recordings of musicals, these audiences can be depended on. They can be valued as a part of the consumers for Broadway musicals, and their voices and opinions about the kinds of shows they want to see can matter more. To be honest, I’ve got no clue why the Broadway big wigs aren’t all over this idea, but I’m sure money has got everything to do with it. Until then, I will be content to watch the shaky, vertical copy of Hadestown stored in my Google Drive.

The Powers of Intention and Mindfulness

The Powers of Intention and Mindfulness

By Stevie Converse & Mimsy O'Connor

Reintroducing the Bunker

Reintroducing the Bunker

An Article by Christopher Royster There are many organizations and clubs here at Holyoke Community College, giving the student body a myriad of options to choose from. Most of these clubs are well-known such as the Psych club, New Directions, Alana and many more. Unfortunately, when you ask around campus, “What is the Bunker?” the typical response is, “I really don’t know...ugh.” Ok, maybe that’s being a little sarcastic, but a majority of HCC’s students have no clue what the Bunker is. Well, lucky for all of you, I just happen to be a military veteran and frequent visitor of the Bunker who knows a thing or two about its location. Oh, and before I forget, I’ll even give you guys a literary tour of the Bunker’s history. It’s a bit of a bonus, so saddle up and enjoy the ride! The Bunker started in a storage room that was located on campus in Frost 149. Two comrades and long time buddies, Robert “Mac” McRobbie (Marine Corps Veteran) and Kurt Bordas ( Air Force Veteran), both realized that there wasn’t a veteran support system at HCC. These trail-blazers understood the importance of establishing a place for student veterans, active service members, and visitors to interact or take advantage of services available to them. Therefore, in the mid 2000’s, these pioneers spear-headed the founding and establishment of the Bunker. They were also assisted by HCC faculty members, Liz Golen, Edward Dice and the schools administration to put the plan into action. Fast-forward to 2016, The Bunker’s leadership was handed over to Robert Vigneault, an Air Force veteran of 15 years. While still a student at HCC, Vigneault managed to balance his workload to help with the improvements for the Bunker. He’s aided in the log in attendance catapulting from 150 people to 450 a month. Also during his tenure, computer access for students has doubled. The Bunker recently moved from Frost 149 to the former site of student senate next to the radio station in Don 105. The resources that can be provided are numerous with help ranging from food assistance, school supplies, information for veteran/ military services , and many more! Robert Vigneault is a man of integrity, who has continued to help with the Bunker’s improvements. In addition, the Bunker is a leader in providing information about upcoming events that are military oriented. Rather than scrambling through the local newspaper or searching on senseless sites, the Bunker always has a publication posted within the HCC’s newsletter of the many military related events in and around the Holyoke area. There’s even flyers in the Bunker that may advertise additional content about upcoming events and sometimes service related issues. This is just another example of how resourceful the Bunker is for HCC. All in all, Vigneault often reminds others about the purpose for having the Bunker. Regularly, he’s heard emphasizing that, “The mission is not only to support our veterans, but to also help the students here at HCC who are civilians by teaching them about military culture.” This is a prime example of the military way to always be of service for others. Admirably, the Bunker has always lived up to this moniker since its beginnings. As for you, you are invited to stop in one day, have a cup of coffee and kick back, while learning about the military way. The Bunker is always open for you, Hooyah!

Making The Cut

Making The Cut

By Lynn Moynahan My grandmother’s hair was thick, brown, and beautiful. She had to cut it as a child while in foster care in the 1930s; her foster parents made her get rid of her hefty, silky pigtails. She was fortunate enough to be able to keep them and show them to me when I was a teenager.  I inherited the thickness and medium brown color, but I endeavored to grow it out as long as I could tolerate it. It was what many had come to know as my defining feature; it was my sense of pride and an ongoing accomplishment, but also my safety blanket. ​ My hair was magical and empowering. I got attention and had something to show off and it gave me a sense of confidence that there was something exceptional about me. My immediate family, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. The shower drain clogged up and choked the vacuum cleaner bristles which my mother religiously had to cleanout. More than once my brother yelled, “Get your hair off my fucking clothes!” When asked what she hated most about my hair, my sister replied, “how you thought you were so great because of it.” She isn’t wrong. Looking back, I feel the same way. ​ There wasn’t much I could do with thigh-length hair and the only way to keep it undamaged from most daily wear was to brush then braid it. I hadn’t had a major cut to my long hair for several years; it had become a source of attention and awe. I was neither an extraordinary student nor a stellar athlete. It took discipline to keep my hair untangled, shiny, and ends unbroken while I flaunted it as often as possible. My grandparents enjoyed brushing my hair, as they never had any daughters, just a measly four sons. My grandmother recorded me braiding my hair once. “I want you to be able to see this someday and remember how much hard work you put into it,” she said. I still haven’t seen this video almost a decade-and-a-half later. ​ My long hair lost its magic when I entered college in 2004. Cathy, who loved helping the other girls from my floor do their hair for nights out, refused to do anything with mine. “It’s too long,” she said. I continued to brush my hair, having draped it over my left shoulder and brushed the ends against my thigh. I watched in envy of the others getting hairspray on their soft curls and bobby pins shoved into their ballerina buns, keeping the stray hairs out of their eyes. At the risk of sounding like a braggart, there still isn’t much I can do about my hair now, even at a considerably shorter length; it’s too soft and silky, making bobby pins, curling iron curls, headbands, and even some hair ties slip right out. ​ My first summer break from college proved to be a time of reflection. I wasn’t quite the person I had been when I started and what made me different wasn’t interesting to people. My best friend since sixth grade, Melissa, let me unload my worry-laden heart on her. “You don’t have to be the person you were in high school,” she said. “College is supposed to do this to you.” I had an epiphanous thought and decided it was time to let go of my former self and cut my long hair. ​ We walked to the ATM and I withdrew some cash; it was enough for a haircut and some new shampoo and hair accessories. Tracy had been trimming my hair for several years and was saddened to know I was cutting it. She was the last one to braid it at such a length, securing it at the top and bottom so it stayed intact after the scissors removed it. I ended up with an 11-inch brown braid which I mailed to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for people who have lost their hair from chemotherapy treatments or medical condition that results in hair loss. ​ My hair, which had for many years given me a sense of pride and a touch of discipline, was now going to serve another purpose. A person whose childhood was stolen and wrought with illness could now have the confidence to walk around without displaying the effects of chemo and have to wonder if they’re being stared at or pitied. ​ Losing my sense of security made me feel incredibly vulnerable. But it was exhilarating. I was free from the physical and emotional weight I had been carrying on my head for years. I had finished with my past self. I was turning into a new person: the adult version of me. I finally looked more like a grown-up, though it would take years to actually feel like one. I now had the freedom to explore my identity and the woman I wanted to become. Becoming vulnerable made me see I had much more to learn about myself. ​