Friday, August 28, 2009

Deal or No Deal?

By Millicent K. Brody

After a ten-day stay, it was had to leave Stratton Mountain. Even though we ended up traipsing around in the pouring rain for four days, I still loved it there.

Now that I’m back, I must comment on the question I’m most frequently asked: “So, what were the outlets like?”

I think it’s fair to say we all love a bargain; however, please don’t visit Manchester, Vermont for the outlets. There are no bargains. Most of whatever you’re looking for can be purchased at your favorite local department store or specialty shop for a lot less money. But if you love browsing country roads filled with barns and shops overflowing with antiques and bibelots, go ahead and plan an excursion.

I will admit, I’m a sucker for the Vermont Country Store. You really can’t visit Vermont without stopping and browsing the shelves, bins, nooks and crannies at Vermont’s “Voice of the Mountain”. But don’t expect to find any great deals there, either.

I was—and still am—searching for a red-and-white check cotton tablecloth. My first thought was, “What better place to find it than the Vermont Country Store?” No such luck.

What they did have (and please don’t laugh) was a “Genuine Oilcloth: Wipe-Clean, Real, Fabric Cloth, That Won’t Peel or Crack”.

How many of you remember your grandmother’s “Genuine Oilcloth Tablecloth” that was like a part of her kitchen table?

At first I thought, "Go for it. It's probably the closest thing to what you’re really looking for,” but then I lifted the size 60 x 84 cloth ($59.95), and thought, “NO!” Aside from the fact that it weighed a ton, I could not stop seeing my late mother’s face. She’d never approve of inviting friends to dinner and serving them on oilcloth, genuine or otherwise.

Then, because I had orders for several long, colorful rain slickers, I headed over to that department. Again, no such luck. However, the very kind salesperson gave me the address of a shop in Maine that would happily welcome my online order.

If you find yourself in Vermont and hankering for a bit of shopping, definitely visit the historic village of Grafton. Stop by My Mind’s Eye for a chat with proprietor and craftsman Jason Ballard. Watch as he creates everything from wooden bowls to furniture to wine stoppers, all right in his studio/showroom. (55 Bell Rd., Grafton,Vt., Also on Main Street is the Hunter Gallery of Fine Art, which offers blown glass, pastels, watercolors, and sculptures.

Don’t leave without a visit to the Grafton Cooperative Cheese Company. (533 Townshend Road, Grafton). Founded in 1892, Grafton Cheese is crafted from hormone-free cow milk gathered from family farms across the state. Aged from one to four years, Grafton Cheese was named among the top 100 cheeses in the world by Wine Spectator Magazine. Enjoy generous samples, a grand assortment of crackers, and the chance to purchase a fine selection of cheddar cheese.

Of course, it’s virtually impossible to drop everything and run to Vermont, but if you’d like to enjoy the leaves and music, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Made in Vermont Music Festival’ takes place Wednesday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m. (Tickets: $22 adults: $18 seniors 65 and over; $12 students: Flynn Tix at 802.86-FLYNN and at

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fit is It

By Molly McGrath

After months of rolling around on my basement floor trying hopelessly to instruct myself through myriad exercise DVDs, and hours of considering the financial magnitude of a gym membership, I had given up. Monumental registration fees and long-term contracts were the demons that scared me away from the gym and into my basement, where I stretched, crunched, lifted, flexed, squeezed…and right back upstairs for a snack. “Home-Gym” had become my own personal oxymoron. It just wasn’t working out. It’s not you “home-gym”… it’s me

So there I was, with nowhere to exercise, a fitness vagabond. It was time to face the music.

Ok, enough with the dramatic overtones. It was literally time to face the music—I signed up for Jazzercise. This is not the leg-warmer-wearing, leotard-sporting Jazzercise of the past, though, ladies. We are talking 60 minutes of fast-moving, heart-pumping, calorie-burning FUN! Combining moves from hip-hop, yoga, Pilates, jazz dance, kickboxing and resistance training, your friendly instructor will lead you through routine after routine set to tunes from yesterday and today. You can burn up to 500 calories in one session!

Don’t be nervous about joining this group fitness class alone or not knowing the dance moves: everyone is very welcoming and works at their own pace. Do your best and have a great time doing it! (And if you’re really nervous you can visit and learn the moves ahead of time!)

Jazzercise is a lower-cost, high-impact, high-fun way to get fit. With classes offered multiple times a day, almost every day, it’s a perfect match for any schedule. Join an exercise community! Look great, feel great, break up with bad habits and make fit… FUN.

There are Jazzercise locations all over the state. Find one near you at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seeing Stars at Steve and Cookie’s

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Every summer since I was born, my family has trekked to the Jersey shore for a true taste of summer. As the years go by our annual eating indulgences have turned from sugary treats on the boards to something even richer. A couple of years back we started doing a girl’s night out. It’s the night when, after a day at the beach, we replace our flip-flops with heels and actually do our hair and make-up. This year the “us” included my mom, my two sisters, and my grandmother. Three generations of girls just glad to be together. As we headed out I thought this was sure to be a special night. However, in years past getting reservations at some of the shore’s hot spots has proven harder than scoring a table at Waverly Inn on a Friday night. At several spots we’ve encountered rude hostesses, intrusive wait staff, laughable wine lists, and mediocre food, but we always remain hopeful that we’ll find that one spot that will deliver it all, tied up with a tasteful seashore-inspired ribbon.

Most people don’t want fancy at the beach, and for the most part we’re happy with funnel cake and Kohr Bros. too. But this past year we lost my grandfather and watched our once close-knit family begin to fray at the seams. More than ever, we needed something that made us feel like putting on lip gloss and clinking glasses and a seafood shack just wasn’t gonna cut it. On a whim, we headed to Margate and managed to have a flawless evening at Steve and Cookie’s. Sans reservations, we called day of and they were welcoming, and when we showed up with five instead of four, they still seated us with a smile. The Maitre d’ was professional but far from stuffy, our servers made impeccable recommendations, and the wine list was breathtaking, and not because it listed dozens of cellar selections over $500 a pop. Au contraire—it had an eclectic ensemble of interesting varietals, lots of half bottles, and plenty of choices under $40! The food was phenomenal—perfectly seasoned roasted red pepper and fresh corn soup served tableside, decadent lobster mac-n-cheese, juicy veal Milanese, seared scallops with the freshest pesto, and real filler-free crab cakes. All topped off with blueberry pie that made me see stars!

The Wine:

At such great prices we were able to try two different Italian whites side-by-side. The well-trained waitstaff knew enough to bring two polished glasses to each of us (it really is all the little things that make a difference). We went for the Lange Arneis and the Vernaccia- both light whites that were perfect palate cleansers for sipping alongside all of the different tastes on the table.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dog and Pony Show

By Brianne Harrison

Animals do so much for us—acting as faithful companions, providing seemingly limitless love and affection, and occasionally giving us a good laugh—that it’s nice when we can do a little something for them, or help those who are less fortunate. This weekend, there are opportunities to do both.

On August 28, Fido’s Festival USA kicks off its Tropical Pooch Paradise at the Salem County Fairgrounds in Woodstown. This all-inclusive dog festival will feature a parade, Frisbee contest, and a beach comber costume competition where the “best in show-off” will be crowned. If your dog’s in the mood for romance, he or she can check out the “scratch and sniff” matchmaking area—a precursor to a mass dog wedding, to be held on Saturday at 2 p.m. The festival’s organizers are attempting to set a new world record for most dog couples “married” simultaneously. Participating canine couples will receive a wedding treat, and their owners will be entered in drawings for prizes that include a vacation at the Canine Club Getaway in the Catskills and a dog photography package.

For the humans, the festival will also have agility and training, patrol dog, and sled dog demonstrations; presentations by animal experts; and vendor booths with plenty of shopping opportunities. If you want to make a weekend of it (the festival runs through August 30), there are three nearby hotels that are pet friendly, and the fairgrounds offer camping in RVs or tents.

For those looking for a night out, Gladstone Tavern is extending its popular Take Your Dog to Dinner event to this weekend. Kick back on the patio and treat your furry family members to a bowl of homemade beef stew while you dig into one of the Tavern's delicious, seasonal offerings. Money raised from the event will benefit the homeless animals at St. Hubert's Shelter. St. Hubert's, incidentally, has recently rescued more than 100 young dogs from puppy mills in the midwest and is looking for homes for them. If you or a friend are looking for a pet, you'd do well to give them a try.

Equine lovers should head to the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown on August 29 for ReRun’s 8th Annual Thoroughbred Charity Horse Show. ReRun is a non-profit organization that retrains Thoroughbred ex-racehorses and offers them for adoption. The show will both raise money for the charity and give the retrained horses an opportunity to showcase their new talents. Classes will be offered in Dressage, Hunters, Jumpers, Equitation, and Pleasure divisions. The day will end with a “Battle of the Breeds” division that will pit Thoroughbreds against Standardbreds (who have their own fundraising show at the Horse Park on August 30). The entry fees for the division will be donated to the organization of the winning breed.

For more information, visit and

Monday, August 24, 2009

Crabby About Crabs

By Pat Tanner

When I was young my father would take me crabbing in Barnegat Bay each summer. I loved being out on the water in a rowboat. I loved that he was a stickler for using a baited line – never a cage! – for the sport of it. I loved the sweetness of crabmeat so much that I never complained about the effort it takes to extract it.

The fate of our blue crabs never varied: they were destined for my mother’s marinara sauce, always served over spaghetti. And that’s where I parted ways with my parents and six siblings. While the dish was a special summertime treat to them, I thought it was an insult to both crustacean and tomato, resulting in acrid, watered-down sauce.

Much more to my liking are these Thai-style crab fritters that employ another summertime treat: fresh corn kernels.


Slightly adapted from

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce or soy sauce

2 teaspoons bottled Asian chili garlic sauce

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

6 ounces lump crabmeat, drained, flaked, and picked over for cartilage

1-1/2 cups fresh (or frozen but thawed) corn kernels

1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or Thai basil

1/2 cup flour

Canola or other mild vegetable oil for shallow frying

Thai chili garlic dipping sauce or other favorite dipping sauce

In a medium bowl combine eggs, fish or soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, and ginger. Stir in crabmeat, corn, scallions, and cilantro or basil. Add flour; stir until ingredients are combined.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/2-inch oil until hot. Carefully spoon crab mixture by rounded tablespoonfuls into hot oil, flattening slightly with spoon. Do not crowd. Cook fritters about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Makes 6 appetizer or first-course servings.