Friday, June 26, 2009

A Cardiac Reality Check

By Millicent K. Brody

Just two weeks ago, I underwent a cardiac catherization at Morristown Memorial Hospital. The entire event was chilling. I hadn’t shown any symptoms of a heart problem; no high or low blood pressure, no shortness of breath, no weight loss or gain....NOTHING! But there I was, nonetheless.

Exactly one year ago, I decided it might be time to secure a family physician. After scheduling an appointment with a local doctor, part of the routine physical included inquiring about my family history. I was asked if any member of my immediate family had adny serious medical conditions.

“My father dropped dead of a heart attack at age 54,” I answered.

The doctor suggested I make an appointment for a 64-Slice Cat Scan.

One year later, almost to the day, I paid a visit to my husband’s cardiologist where I mentioned this test.

The cardiologist replied, “Oh you won’t need that sophisticated a test. We’ll do a Nuclear Stress test, and see the results.”

I did, and gave it no further thought until about two weeks later. The cardiologist called and suggested I return to the office to discuss my results. He indicated the test showed that there could be a possible blockage in the main artery leading to my heart. That’s when I contacted Dr. David Fein, proprietor of the Princeton Longevity Center, to request a 64 Slice Cat Scan.

That same day, I watched photographs of my scan being projected on a computer screen. The results indicated there could indeed be a blockage at the base of my aorta, which is known as the Widow's Artery. I was referred to one of New Jersey's most respected cardiologists, Dr. Stephen Guss of the Morristown Cardiology Group. It was his opinion that I should undergo a cardiac cathaterization.
Dr. Craig Rosen, another cardiologist, did the procedure. He discovered that the artery leading from the base of my aorta was clogged, but only 30 to 40%: Not enough to stent.

Dr. Guss, Dr. Fein, and Dr. Rosen tell me that I’m very fortunate. Apparently, heart disease is the number one silent killer of women, and current risk assessment methods, like blood pressure and cholesterol tests miss as many as 75% of patients who develop heart problems. Symptoms of heart disease often do not appear before a major cardiac event.

Of course I am back to being Milli. I am fine, perfectly healthy. But when I got this news, I was completely drained, a nervous wreck, and the hardest part of the whole thing was having to sign a paper allowing the physicians to perform open heart surgery if necessary. The whole ordeal was beyond bizarre for me.

I believe my story must be told. Millions of women walk around with symptoms. I had NONE. Give your family the gift of your good health. If there is any doubt in your mind about your health: Call your doctor!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Passport Required

By Judith Garfield

“Why do the wrong people travel, while the right people stay back home?”

According to Noel Coward, who wrote those words for his Broadway show “Sail Away,” I am one of the right people. I always stay home. Been doing it for years. A few family excursions long ago and that’s about it.

It occurs to me that people who like to cook are people who like to travel. They tend to be open to experimentation, with excellent planning skills. This would not describe me. For someone who has trouble following recipes, itineraries are out of the question. I didn’t even go on a honeymoon.

It has nothing to do with fear of flying. More like fear of crying…babies, or prying, by the armrest hog who tells me his life story and wants to know mine – all before the plane takes off.

Besides, I have come to the realization that most of the world looks like New Jersey. Really, it’s true. Seen one countryside, seen ‘em all. Why endure all the hassle of traveling, when I can just drive around the neighborhood?

Speaking about driving, do you know how dangerous it is to drive in foreign countries, what with steering wheels on the wrong side, no speed limits, and bandits lurking on isolated country roads?

I prefer to risk life and limb at the traffic circles right here at home. According to the New Jersey Dept. of Transportation, there are no set rules for driving into, around, and out of a traffic circle in New Jersey. Who needs the autobahn?

As Noel says:
What explains this mass mania?
To leave Pennsylvania
And clack around like flocks of geese
Demanding dry martinis on the isles of Greece?

My bags aren’t packed and I’m clearly not ready to go. But if you are…Bon Voyage !

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jersey Fresh: Taste the Best NJ Has to Offer

By Maureen C. Petrosky

After indulging in last week’s Real Housewives of New Jersey finale-- drenched in Godfather moments and finished off with flipping tables--I wondered: Really, how could the Garden State top that? Well, we’re doing it, and this time you won’t have to wince as we make waves in the press. Break out your most fashionable drinking shoes (gilded or otherwise), grab your friends, and get ready to celebrate New Jersey in style.

The former New Jersey Slow Food and Wine event has blown up to become the first East Coast Food and Wine festival, and it’s right here in your backyard. For the first time ever, Central Jersey is the place to be for food and wine lovers to revel in the biggest wine event on the calendar. That’s right, no need to travel to Napa Valley, Oregon, or the North Fork to spoil yourself with world class wine and artisanal food.
This weekend New Jersey’s wine-loving housewives (TV’s and otherwise), wine connoisseurs, and rookies are all invited to Hopewell Valley Vineyards for the festival. Don’t miss your chance to taste hundreds of wines grown in the Garden State, served alongside dishes from popular chefs and restaurateurs. Wine and cooking seminars as well as talks on beekeeping and honey making and cheese making are all yours for the taking. Yours truly will be under the tent at 2 p.m. on Saturday, toasting all of you wine lovers, locavores, and those who just can’t get enough of all the best parts New Jersey life has to offer. I can’t promise I’ll flip over my table but I can’t promise I won’t either. You’ll just have to come and find out for yourself.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A New Twist on an Old Classic: The Cocktail Potluck

By Brianne Harrison

Summer entertaining season is in full swing, and many of us are finding ourselves with social calendars filled with backyard barbeques, weddings (and showers), and graduation parties. As nice as it is to be entertained, at some point you’re expected to return the favor, or perhaps you have a special occasion of your own that you’d like to celebrate with friends. Of course, you want your party to be special and to stand out from the crowd, which means you may want to put a new spin on a classic party.

To celebrate our engagement as well as the recent graduation of several of our friends from PhD programs, my fiancé and I decided to try something new and hosted a cocktail potluck. The rules were the same as for a classic potluck, except that instead of bringing plates of food, everyone brought either a pitcher or the ingredients for their favorite drinks.

I cooked up a storm and kept everyone supplied with finger food—hushpuppies, miniature meatballs, chips and salsa, tortillas stuffed with sweet potatoes, Caprese skewers, brownies, cookies, and pecan bars. The guests arrived with an eclectic selection of drinks: classics like sidecars and White Russians, as well as Vampire Punch, Lemon Drops, strawberry-basil mojitos, and a take on sangria that used fresh herbs and tea. We helped get the ball rolling by providing Earl Grey MarTEAnis and Lemon-Lavender Martinis.

One of the key things, unless all the guests are walking home, is keeping the drinking within reasonable limits. We treated this more like a tasting, so we purchased small plastic cups (the size you usually buy to put in bathrooms) and served drinks in them rather than full-size glasses. This gave everyone a chance to try several different drinks without going overboard.

Overall, the experiment was a success. Although the weather wasn’t cooperative, the drinks were delicious, the food was popular, and we had a chance to see just how creative our friends could be. Definitely a party worth having again.

The Earl Grey MarTEAni
We discovered this drink at Roast Bar on a recent trip to London. It’s now a family favorite. This recipe is adapted from Audrey Saunders, beverage director of Bemelmans Bar in New York City

For the Infused Gin:
1 bottle of Tanqueray Gin
¼ cup loose Earl Grey Tea Leaves (available at Wegman’s and many other high-end supermarkets)

Add Earl Grey tea leaves to the bottle of gin. Recap bottle and shake to mix.

Leave for 2 hours to infuse.

Strain tea leaves, retaining the infused liquid.

For the Drink:
1 ½ oz Earl Grey Infused Gin
¾ oz Lemon Juice
¾ to 1 oz simple syrup
Lemon Peel

Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour into a glass and garnish with lemon peel

Lavender Lemon Martini

For the Infused Vodka:
1 bottle of vodka
¼ cup dried lavender blossoms

Add lavender blossoms to vodka. Shake to mix.

Let steep for 2 hours at room temperature.

Strain lavender blossoms, retaining vodka

Lavender Simple Syrup:
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. dried lavender blossoms

Combine water, sugar, and lavender in saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain lavender blossoms.

For the Drink:
1 oz lavender Vodka
¾ oz lemon juice
½ to ¾ oz lavender simple syrup
Lemon Peel

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour into a glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Not sure what to serve? Try some of these recipes:

Fried Zucchini Flowers with Fresh Mozzarella
Italian Shrimp Cocktail
Spicy Smoked Salmon Tartare
Tuna Tartare with Crispy Rice Crackers

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dine Well, Drink Up, Do Good

By Pat Tanner

One of my favorite organizations, Elijah’s Promise in New Brunswick, is holding their largest and most important annual fundraiser on Monday, June 29th - and it promises to be their best one yet.

For one thing, the venue is the spectacular Palace at Somerset Park. For another, more than 25 restaurants and food artisans will be participating in the three-hour Chef’s Night. Joining longtime supporters such as The Frog and the Peach, The Brothers Moon, Harvest Moon Brewery, and The Bent Spoon are more recent additions such as Due Mari and Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick, Edison’s Skylark Diner, Via 45 of Red Bank, and Headquarters. That last serves up some of the best homestyle Lebanese fare in the state in a no-frills space in North Brunswick. For the full list of participants visit

The main beneficiary of the evening is Elijah’s Promise’s state-accredited culinary school, Promise Jobs, which equips those in need of a second change with the skills to be employed in a field that pays a living wage. Chef’s Night raises about $75,000 each year for that good purpose.

There’s a live auction, lots of wines to taste, and live music in addition to the eat-fest, all of which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets, at $125 each, can be reserved by phoning 732.545.9002, ext. 110.