Friday, June 12, 2009

"Medium Rare" Takes the Prize

By Millicent K. Brody

On Wednesday evening, June 10, I was the lucky recipient of First Place honors for my photo “Medium Rare,” which appeared on this blog May 22.

I remember taking that photo on Mother’s Day. There I was, standing over my own grill drooling over burgers that were going to be served with my very own potato salad, cole slaw, and baked beans. YUM!

The flames simply sang, “Take my picture!” and I listened.

The photo received its award at the 2009 Union County Senior Art exhibit held in the Atrium of Liberty Hall Center of the Elizabethtown Gas Co. in Union.

The Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs promotes and develops public interest and participation in the arts. The office ensures that all citizens have the opportunity to fully share and benefit from the rich multi-cultural arts, history, and historic resources of our state.

“Our annual senior citizens art exhibit has been in progress for more than ten years,” says Senior Arts Coordinator Teya David. “We continually encourage artists to strive for excellence. We ask that they not only participate in classes defined by their art, they should actively participate in art exhibits throughout the state, and even the country. We continually encourage artists to take personal pride in their presentations. When awarding prizes, we expect exhibited work to have a professional appearance. Each work of art is judged as a complete package. It’s not just about what’s behind the glass or painted across a canvas, we look at the back of the package as well. Whether you’re an artist working in paint, clay, stone, marble, chalk, plaster, or wood, or a photographer who sees the world through their camera, we encourage artists to continually strive for excellence.”

“When artists win first place at the county level, they represent the county at the state level. It is our hope that New Jersey residents will take time to seek out our professional artists,” says Alexander Mirabella Chairman of the U. C. Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The winning works will now be exhibited at the Union County Administration Building in Elizabeth. In October, they'll be judged at the state level at the Meadow Lakes Community Center in East Windsor. Three professional judges will peruse exhibited work and award prizes accordingly. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


By Judith Garfield

Plenty of dough is spent on plenty of deer.

Hundreds of new products appear every year compelling us to spend yet another dollar with the promise of keeping those stealthy snackers away from our beautiful gardens.

They say money talks, but so far the deer are not listening. All the money I have spent on revolutionary deer repellents has not eliminated the problem at all. It seems everything works temporarily, but sooner or later the deer figure out how to outwit, outplay, and outlast. True survivors.

We go to bed with our lovely daylilies looking lush and colorful, and in the morning we pull back the curtains only to see we have again been ambushed…not a bloom left. Sigh.

These voracious nibblers are relentless. And of course they spread the news quickly at impromptu deer conventions, so every deer in town makes it over to your back yard when the eating is good.

I suppose you could try one of those ‘deer resistant gardens’, but I have not had much success with them. Seems the deer in this neck of the woods eat everything on the ‘do not eat list’, including the list. Or you could fence in some smaller areas. The deer will not enter an area if they see no escape route. Nor do they like to deal with chicken wire, but this makes cutting flowers a bit of a nuisance.

Last week we once again bravely planted a little herb and vegetable garden next to our house. Basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, and lots of lettuce. The deer have not yet heard about our salad bar, but I expect business to pick up dramatically once the rabbits give it a four-star rating.

If only the deer liked stink bugs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Not all BBQ Begs for Red

By Maureen C. Petrosky

With summer comes the beloved backyard barbeque and inevitably talk of wines to go with. Initially, thoughts of bold char-grilled flavors, beefy burgers, and barbeque sauce bombard my wine savvy conscience but the lingering struggle of taste vs. temperature endures all summer long. It’s not likely you’ll crave a monster Zinfandel on a 90- degree day, but you are likely to be poking the charcoals instead of steaming up your kitchen.

Not everything that hits the bricks of a BBQ is slathered with sauce. In fact, last night our dinner off the grill consisted of dijon-glazed Sockeye salmon, lightly grilled slices of ciabatta, and a side of buttery egg noodles with cracked black pepper sprinkled with dill and marjoram from the garden, simply sliced heirloom tomatoes, and an Arugula salad squirted with fresh lemon juice, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with shaved Parmesan. Not one thing on the list lent itself to red wine, except the charred edges of the Ciabatta. This meal from the Bar-B wasn’t about the sauce, it was about the ease of cooking over coals, the subtle smoky and fresh vibrant flavors of food, all sans BBQ sauce. So when choosing wines for your BBQ first, you must decide whether your “Q is about the sauce or the simplicity of grilling.

If your meal for the BBQ mirrors mine, go for a simple wine and leave the reds behind. This wine lavishes refreshing salads and grilled fish with its light and lively acidity, and it goes great with simple slingbacks and flirty summer frocks.

Les Charmes Chardonnay 2007, $11 This French Chardonnay has a butterscotch finish that pairs perfectly with buttery rich textured fish from the grill. It’s not all butter, though: it’s balanced with vibrant acidity that tingles your tongue and cheeks. From sip to sip this wine changes so don’t always sip the same way. Swish and swirl and you’ll find this to be a most enjoyable summer white.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BooksNJ: Celebrate Your Love of Books!

By Brianne Harrison

Who doesn’t love a good book? Whether your tastes run toward fiction, biographies, or poetry, an affection for the printed word is fairly universal, which is why there are events like BooksNJ 2009: A Celebration of Books and the Readers who Love Them.

BooksNJ will bring together more than 60 authors, illustrators, and poets to participate in readings, panel discussions, book signings, a poetry slam, storytimes, and crafts for the youngest attendees. Panels will cover topics ranging from creating an illustrated children’s book to developing characters to collaborating with a co-author.

In our internet-driven age, with newspapers teetering on the brink and the publishing industry scrambling to keep up with and adapt to the changing climate, the future of the book (the traditional kind—with covers and pages) is an open question. If you’re a book lover who can’t resist the smell of a library or the sound of a fresh paperback spine cracking as you open to the first page, why not show your support, meet authors, and learn something at BooksNJ?

BooksNJ 2009 is being held June 14 from 1-5 p.m. at the Paramus Public Library, 116 East Century Rd., Paramus. For more information, visit

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bacon: A Love Story

By Pat Tanner

This is the apt title of a book just out by Heather Lauer, creator of the popular blog baconunwrapped. The subtitle is accurate, too: the book, published by William Morrow, really is “A Salty Survey of Everybody’s Favorite Meat,” which Lauer lovingly refers to as meat candy and The Best Meat Ever.

I thought I was a true aficionado of cured pork belly (i.e. bacon) until reading this book; I now accept that I don’t even qualify as the merest of dilettantes. Did you know there are at least a dozen blogs devoted to this salty, smoky, sweet, and greasy culinary delight that, as Lauer points out, is beloved worldwide and has been for centuries? The blogs have entertaining names like iheartbacon, lordsofbacon, mrbaconpants, and sexandbacon.

There is also a world of bacon-centric gifts, including bacon-scented candles and “bacon” band-aids, scarves, and wallets (of which Lauer owns three). Not to mention bacon-flavored foods, among which her favorite is bacon salt. (Bacon flavored vodka, anyone?)

Quotes about bacon range from the ridiculous (Homer Simpson: “Bacon up!”) to the sublime (Charles Lamb: “Pig – let me speak his praise…”).

Lauer’s writing style mimics that of her blog: breezy, witty, informative, and passionate. She includes descriptions of bacon festivals around the globe, profiles of leading chefs who incorporate the “sinful strips” into their fare, as well as recipes from them, a primer on the various ways bacon is salted and cured, and a whirlwind tour of leading artisanal bacon producers. (Word to the bacon obsessed: get your hands on La Quercia bacon.)

Speaking of “meat candy,” here is a slightly adapted recipe for caramelized bacon. This “candied apple version of bacon,” Heather Lauer writes “will make you look at bacon in a whole new light.”

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drape 6 slices of bacon (not thick-cut) on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (shiny side down). Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of brown sugar even over the slices. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp and brown. 

Image courtesy of