Friday, October 2, 2009

A Weekend Getaway, Courtesy of the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of New Jersey

By Millicent K. Brody

The Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of New Jersey, which have chapters all over the state, have partnered with the The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick for a complimentary Family Vacation Program. Working together, the organizations and the hotel will provide complimentary vacations to deserving families affiliated with the Clubs. One of the state’s most respected youth organizations, the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs aim to provide quality after-school programs for young people ages 6 to 18.

Through the unique partnership with the Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs, The Heldrich Hotel will provide two five-night, all-expenses paid vacations at the hotel. The package will include: guest accommodations, three meals each day, full access to recreation amenities (indoor pool and fitness center), as well as access to several local destination attractions. Also included in the vacation package will be a $100 gas card compliments of Shell Oil Company to help each family cover transportation costs.

Interested families who may have thought a trip was not possible this year and who are affiliated with a Boys’ & Girls’ Club in New Jersey are invited to complete a brief application form available online at: Applications should be completed by October 30, 2009.

A committee of administrators from the organization will review each family’s application and forward final recommendations to a committee at The Heldrich for consideration. Families will be informed of their selection for a vacation in late November.

For more than 100 years, Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs of America ( have provided hope and opportunity to those children who need it most. Today, more than 4,300 Clubs throughout the nation serve some 4.5 million young people through Club membership and community outreach.

Known as The Positive Place for Kids, Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs can be found throughout the country and on U.S. military bases worldwide. Their constant objective is to provide young people with guidance-oriented character development programs conducted by trained, professional staff. Membership in the Clubs impacts lives and helps young people reach their full potential as productive, caring citizens. Key programs emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, community service, technology training, financial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and family outreach. In a recent Harris Survey of Club alumni, 57 percent said that membership in the Boys & Girls Club saved their lives.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sports Story

By Judith Garfield

“Root root root for the home team”….. That’s how the old song goes. But living in New Jersey makes it difficult. We have no baseball team. We have no football team. What’s a sports fan to do?

Here’s what happens in New Jersey. If you reside in the South, you think you live in a suburb of Philly and root accordingly. From the North, you consider yourself a New York suburbanite and become devoted to the New York teams. If, however, you are a resident of Central Jersey you are apt to be confused. A--dare I say?--fair weather fan. A two-teamer.

The supermarket in my neighborhood deals with the problem by carrying balloons for both the Eagles and the Giants. Could you imagine this scenario anywhere else? You would never ever see a balloon for the Eagles or the Phillies in, let’s say, Hackensack. Or Hoboken. Tantamount to treason. I was raised in Philadelphia, so I know where my loyalties lie. But I think for many in Central Jersey it is a source of angst.

Perhaps that is why S. is not a big sports fan. A Central Jersey boy. A man without a team. At my house S. makes the chili while I watch the game. He rambles in and feigns interest, but really he’s more concerned with what’s on the stove.

I don’t understand people who don’t like watching sports. It’s reality television at its most exciting. It provides an escape from the mundane and the frightening. When CNN tries to scare me about the deficit, or Fox scares me about everything, I can always get the remote and turn to the game of the week.

And even when major drama occurs in the sports world, I know it is only superficial. So if the Phillies don’t make into the World Series this year, I will be disappointed, but it’s not going to cause me a life of misery.

September is my favorite month. Baseball leading up to the play offs, football just starting, and the weather is awesome. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Okay, gotta go. Game’s on in five.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sipping Feng Shui

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Last week I participated in my first ever webinar. I hear so much now about on-line continued education that I just had to see what it was all about. Contrary to my prior beliefs regarding on-line education, this webinar kept me watching longer than most prime- time TV shows do. I got to interact with winemakers from the comfort of my desk chair by simply following the instructions for registration and set up. Before I knew it, my desk transformed into an identical layout of my previous wine courses at The Culinary Institute of America.

One hour and six wines later, I was fully aware of the history, philosophy, and winemaking of Montes winery. True, it was not nearly as fun or as memorable as an actual visit to those wineries, but out of it came a gem I can share with you. At the end of my day that’s what matters.

Lots of winemakers tout their effort to be more environmentally conscious, or their technological advances in winemaking, but Douglas Murray, one of the founders of Montes, got my ear when he said Feng Shui. Seeing as I spend half my time mentally decorating my dream home, I was shocked that this ancient practice as it related to wine had never struck me before. Yet, it made complete sense when he said, “Our goal was to optimize harmony and positive energy in our bodega by carefully using water, metal, earth, and wood.” He actually said the grapes deserved that much. He had me at positive energy! Whether you’re into Feng Shui, decorating (physically or mentally), or just need to give your life a shot of some positive energy, do it with this webinar wine find:

Kaiken Ultra Malbec, $25 –Often wine priced at twice this much isn’t half as interesting. This juice pouring from Argentina wears a violet velvet dress, whispers of tobacco, and has playful acidity, yet it’s a serious red, full of luscious red fruit. While you can drink this in ten to twelve years, I plan on drinking it now, and for that matter, all winter. This wine makes me happy. Here’s to you finding Feng Shui in your glass!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall In

By Brianne Harrison

Fall is officially here, and that always puts me, at least, in the mood to celebrate. Crisp weather, beautiful scenery, harvest festivals—what’s not to like? And this weekend, there are plenty of chances to get out and enjoy some good weather and autumnal offerings.

The Mendham Harvest Hustle 5K and Kids’ Fun Run
Get some exercise and explore historic Mendham Borough at this premiere event. Children’s events include a 1K run and dashes. Adults can do the full 5K, which winds through Mendham. For more information, go to

The Historic Towne of Smithville & Village Green Oktoberfest
Who doesn’t love a good Oktoberfest? Browse the selections of more than 100 juried crafters and sample foods from the international food court. There’ll also be live music and family fun, including a train, carousel, and paddleboats.
The New Jersey Zombie Walk
You can’t often tell your coworkers on Monday that you spent Saturday on a zombie walk, now can you? This year’s event welcomes the undead of all ages and sizes (and leashed dog zombies are welcome too!) Do your makeup at home, at one of the makeup tables at the walk, or have it done professionally for a $10 donation. After you shamble along on the walk, stay for the Zombie Fest, featuring a Thriller performance by Asbury Dance & Yoga, a Zombie Beauty Pageant, and a Jello Brain Eating Contest. Visit

Carnivale of the Dogs and Dog Walk and Pet Fair
TD Bank is sponsoring a Carnivale of the Dogs, which will feature a DJ, pet caricaturist, canine masseuse, giveaways, dog trainers, and a doggie beauty salon, along with animal rescue groups and the Second Annual Delaney Dog Show. Bring a can or bag of food for the food drive for underserved pet owners. Visit for more information.

Shoreside, the Monmouth County SPCA will hold their 16th Annual Dog Walk and Pet Fair. Meet celebrity dogs and theatrical animla trainer Bill Berloni, enjoy music and entertainment, food, vendors, and contests. Proceeds benefit the Monmouth County SPCA.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taste of Crete

By Pat Tanner

Taste of Crete, a small store that opened on Route 206 in Hillsborough a couple of weeks ago, represents what is for me the most dangerous form of shopping. Esther Luongo Psarakis, the proprietor, stocks an intriguing selection of imported Greek artisanal foodstuffs that are all natural, often organic, and uniformly delicious. I go in with the intention of stocking up on hostess and holiday gifts but come away laden with delicacies that somehow never make it out of my own kitchen.

These include Taste of Crete’s award-winning olive oil, made from Koroneiki olives and bearing the European Union’s PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) seal; raw honeys in flavors like wild thyme, pine, and chestnut; jarred savories such as smoked eggplant spread; jarred sweet toppings in flavors like fig with ginger and chocolate in honey; and traditional cookies (naturally vegan and cholesterol free) named for and made using the recipes of Evangelia Psarakis, Esther’s mother-in-law.

In fact, Evangelia was the inspiration for the gourmet food company, which has been selling its wares via the Internet since 2004 and which has been featured on Martha Stewart Living Radio. After marrying into this Greek family - and having, as she calls them, “two big Greek weddings, first in America and then in the mountains of Crete” - Esther and her husband would return to the family’s homestead each summer and from that – and Evangelia’s home cooking – the idea for Taste of Crete was born.

On my first visit I was introduced to an intriguing new taste sensation: sweet olive topping, intended for over ice cream and yogurt. Who knew olives cooked with sugar and lemon would be delicious? Unless I manage to give away my jar very soon, I just know I’ll find myself in my own kitchen dumping some over soft goat cheese and glomming it up with crackers.

Taste of Crete, 400 Route 206 South, Hillsborough. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon.-Fri. and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sat. Phone: 908.685.2035,