Friday, December 4, 2009

There’s no I in Team

By Lauren Johnson

What do you get when you combine art and altruism? Something truly great.

On November 21st, I had the pleasure of experiencing said greatness at an art show in Trenton sponsored the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). The group of artists are part of a cooperative called the A-TEAM Artists of Trenton, which is comprised of individuals that use the services of the soup kitchen, and is run by volunteers that focus on helping them develop entrepreneurial skills while encouraging camaraderie and support.

The show was hosted at Artworks, and consisted of about 20 different artists’ work ranging from drawings and paintings to handicrafts and sculptures. All of the pieces were extremely unique, and each style told a distinct story about the person behind the work. To set the mood, music by The FunkTASKtiks (comprised of TASK patrons and volunteers) played a vast selection of pop, funk, and soul that had everyone swaying to the beat. The band was formed through TASK’s Performing Arts Program, called The SHARE project, which offers musicians of any skill level the opportunity to participate in organized band practices and take music lessons.

One group of work that I really enjoyed seeing was a series of carefully handmade dolls (pictured) by an artist named Brook Beatty. Each of her dolls had a unique persona — while some were beautifully simple, others were fantastically dressed in brightly colored beads, accessories, bits of fabric, and costume. Each doll came with a little paper nametag carefully tied to their feet, and were inspired by either celebrities or people she knows.

The show is located at Artworks, 19 Everett Alley in Trenton and can be viewed through January 2nd. All proceeds go directly to the artists.

For more information on upcoming A-Team shows, visit

Image photo credit:

The Holiday Spirit

By Brianne Harrison

As we noted in our most recent issue, the holiday season seems to bring out people’s charitable sides. We donate our pocket change to the Salvation Army, or perhaps a gift to a needy child. Some, like seven-year-old Jake Rothstein, go a little further.

Jake is a second grader at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School, a Woodbridge resident, and a major animal lover. While picking up his newly adopted cat, Felix, from Angel PAWS in Colonia, he noticed the many other needy animals housed at the shelter and decided to do something to help them. So, Jake is organizing a collection of supplies the shelter needs at the BarronArtsCenter’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, which takes place today from 5-7 p.m.

Items the shelter needs include cat and dog food (wet and premium dry), litter, paper towels, paper plates, cleaning supplies (bleach, soap), towels, pet beds, toys, bathroom throw rugs, plastic garbage bags, grooming items (q-tips, cotton balls), and office supplies (paper, pens, etc). The collection box will remain at the ArtsCenter until December 31.

Santa Paws
Why should kids get all the fun? Take your pets to see Santa and have their pictures taken this weekend!

The Morris Animal Inn (120 Sand Spring Rd., Morristown) will have holiday pet photos on Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Morris K9 Campus (1 Aspen Dr., Randolph) will have photo sessions on Sunday, December 6, also from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Photos will be taken by professional photographer, Hugo Juarez. A $10 sitting fee includes one 5 x 7 photo. Additional images may be ordered. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of New Jersey. For reservations, call Morris Animal Inn at 973.539.0377 or Morris K9 Campus at 973.252.5100.

Santa will also be stopping by the Jersey Shore Animal Center (185 Brick Blvd., Brick) this Saturday and Sunday from 12 Noon to 3 p.m. for pet photos. Cost is $10 per photo and all proceeds benefit the homeless animals at the Center. For more information, call 732.920.1600 or visit

Princeton-based SAVE, a Friend to Homeless Animals, is hosting Photos with Santa at PetCo in the Mercer Mall on December 5 and 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the animals at SAVE.

Happy Howl-idays!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Closet Case

By Judith Garfield

I’ve recently discovered a great new shopping destination that I can’t get enough of.

My closet.

Diving deep into the forgotten realms of my wardrobe has been rewarding and cost effective. Of course, this is not an original idea. It is an increasingly popular past time for those of us who have discovered we really don’t need to buy a new outfit every time we get an invitation to a party. Take the advice of the experts and “shop your closet.”

I was amazed at the goodies I found. Like that burgundy tweed suit from a few years ago that all of a sudden looks spectacularly fresh. And there are no annoying salespeople hovering over me, giving me that look of disdain as I carefully inspect the offerings. I pretty much like everything I see here. Nothing too young, nothing too matronly. All perfectly appropriate pour moi.

If you are contemplating this shopping experience I suggest the first step is a purge of all those dismal outfits you never wear and probably shouldn’t have bought in the first place. Some people actually hire individuals who come to your closet and tell you what looks really dreadful, what can be resurrected, and what you should buy to help update what you are keeping. Don’t bother. Just corral your BFF (best fashion friend) and together decide what to use and what to lose.

My other suggestion is Honestly, I never thought I could be so in love with a hanger, but these space-saving flocked hangers keep even the most delicate and slippery of tops from falling off. And yet, they are sturdy enough for winter coats. I resisted buying them for years but now that I have them I can never go back. I can now actually find things that have been M.I.A. for months.

To get you started, you might want to pick up a copy of “Shop Your Closet” by Melanie Fascitelli. She’s a professional who will guide you in your attempt to organize your wardrobe and perhaps save you from more unnecessary purchases. As for me, I plan to visit the basement emporium. I haven’t been there for a while and I hear inventory is at an all time high.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Genius in a Bottle

By Maureen C. Petrosky

Long before the reign of Madison Avenue’s Mad Men, a marketing mastermind created what we now call Beaujolais Nouveau, basically, a brilliant idea born in a bottle. Beaujolais is a winemaking region, but to set itself apart from all the other juice, these producers have successfully created worldwide anticipation of its annual release. The light- bodied, fruity, easy drinking red wine is released every November, and is celebrated with such gusto and reverence you would think it a newborn baby. In some ways it is. Today, one of, the if not the most famed producer of Beaujolais, Georges Duboeuf, could be called the father. His bottles dominate the shelves in the U. S. market and this year they’re already dressed for the holiday season in a stunning gown of gold and red, which also makes an ideal tabletop addition to any seasonal soiree.

No doubt this reasonably priced red’s dramatic release is perfectly timed each year right before Thanksgiving. It always catches the eye of once-a-year wine shoppers as well as those stocking up to entertain over the holidays. In the world of wine reviews this pour can cause serious sippers to become bitterly cantankerous. It is thought of by some as nothing more than bulk juice with a fun label. Truth is, wine connoisseurs need something to hate on. My take: More for us! Relax, see Beaujolais Nouveau for what it is, and love every sip. It’s not supposed to be a serious example of Old World charm. If anything, Nouveau is totally New World, meaning it is perfect for the American palate and pocket book. Ringing in at around $13/bottle this year, it makes for a great party wine or a lovely hostess gift.

Georges DuBoeuf, Beaujolais Nouveau, 2009, $13
Nouveau always has a hint of what I can only describe as waxy flavor. It’s like déjà vu of those perfumes that used to come in a compact or the heavy scented Estee Lauder lipstick my Grandmom loves. For me the past couple of vintages the B.N. have been overshadowed by this attribute, but I was delighted that upon first swirl and sip of the 2009 the fruit came first. This is what you’d call a young wine, notice no heavy tannins and not much structure here. So don’t try to age these. Drink them new- thus the Nouveau celebration. This wine didn’t even last an hour in my house. Tis’ the season, so bottoms up!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Happenings

By Brianne Harrison

The holidays are here, and there are plenty of ways to get into the spirit this weekend. Here are some of our favorites:

Jingle All the Way Holiday Run, 12/3: Jog off some of your holiday indulgence and raise money for Special Olympics New Jersey. Dress up in your most festive running gear (prizes for the best outfits!), bring some friends or family members, and join the fun!

Festival of Trees, 12/2-1/10/10: Morven Museum & Garden in Princeton is dressing up for the holidays. Trees decorated by area businesses and organizations will be gracing the museum’s galleries—stop by and be inspired!

Holiday Light Show, 12/3-1/3/10: Be amazed as over 100 Christmas trees, floating on Lake Meone, light up to music in an orchestrated show. There will also be a Christmas Train, a Magical Talking Tree, and Story Time with Mrs. Claus every weekend in December.

“A Dickens of a Weekend,” 12/4-5: Catch a trolley in Spring Lake and enjoy costumed carolers, a scavenger hunt honoring Dickens’ Mr. Fezziwig, a Dickens-themed cocktail party, and a performance of “Scrooge”.

Cape May’s 36th Annual Christmas Candlelight House Tours, 12/5, 12/12, and 12/19: What better way to see Victorian Cape May than by candlelight? Explore at least 14 homes, inns, hotels, and churches decorated for the holidays while listening to carolers and strolling musicians.

Model Train Exhibit and Tree Lighting Ceremony, 12/4-29: The Barron Arts Center turns on their lights at their annual Tree Lighting Ceremony this weekend. There will also be collections for the Mayor’s Food Bank and for Angel PAWS, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding homes for stray, homeless, and abandoned animals.

Sister’s Christmas Catechism, 12/5: CSI meets Bethlehem as the Sister of Late Nite Catechism takes on The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold.

Messiah-A Sacred Oratorio by George Frideric Handel, 12/6: The New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra partners with the State Theatre to perform one of Handel’s most celebrated works.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Year’s Best Baking Book…

By Pat Tanner

…for holiday gift giving and receiving, at least in my opinion, is Karen DeMasco’s “The Craft of Baking.” Although she is an award-winning restaurant pastry chef who honed her craft at Tom Colicchio’s Craft, Craftbar, and ‘wichcraft, the recipes in this book are eminently reproducible. They are true to DeMasco’s style, which combines home-baked appeal with modern restaurant sophistication.

Exhibit one: Apple Fritters with Caramel Ice Cream and Apple Caramel Sauce
Exhibit two: Pine Nut Tart with Rosemary Cream
Exhibit three: Carrot Cupcakes with Mascarpone Cream Filling

I could go on – the beautifully photographed book contains hundreds of equally tempting muffins, scones, quick breads, doughnuts, cookies, brownies, candies, tarts, pies, cobblers, crisps, cakes, cupcakes, custards, puddings, ice creams, sorbets, fruit compotes, and sauces. And it’s hard to go wrong, since every technique and instruction is painstakingly elaborated.

Each season’s bounty is given its due, from spring’s Fresh Strawberry Tart with Lemon Cream to summer’s Sour Cherry Turnovers to fall’s Concord Grape & Pear Crisp with Marcona Almond Strudel. Wintertime and holiday favorites include chocolate babka, homemade truffles, marshmallows in lemon, mocha, and coconut varieties, and steamed toffee pudding (steamed in the oven).

Below is a recipe to get you started on your holiday baking. Please heed the instruction to use a large saucepan, since the hot, molten sugar mixture will rise and bubble.

From “The Craft of Baking” by Karen DeMasco & Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter, 2009)

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-1/2 cups (12 ounces) salted roasted cashews

Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan. Stir together so that all of the sugar is wet. Cook the mixture over high heat without stirring until it turns a dark amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Carefully whisk in the baking soda, followed by the salt; the caramel will rise and bubble. Using a wooden or metal spoon, fold in the cashews. Pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet, and using the back of the spoon, spread it out into a layer about 1/2 inch thick. Let it cool completely. Break the brittle into bite-size pieces, using a mallet or the back of a heavy knife.

The brittle can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Makes 1-3/4 pounds.