Friday, February 19, 2010

Fun in the Sun

By Brianne Harrison

It’s about this time of year that our winter-weary minds start to conjure up images of warm, sandy beaches and drinks with umbrellas in them. Many of us, unable to help ourselves, head to Expedia to start researching flights south and eagerly begin planning a tropical vacation in the months to come.

New Jersey animal lovers have a unique opportunity to kill two birds with one stone—plan a fabulous Caribbean vacation while also helping animals in need, thanks to the Jersey Shore Animal Center’s annual benefit cruise.

For seven nights from November 6-13, Norwegian’s brand new ship Epic will hop from Miami to St. Marten, St. Thomas, and Nassau in the Bahamas. Passengers can relax, enjoy the good food and shipboard fun, soak up some sun, and know the whole time they’re helping to support JSAC’s homeless animals. What could be better?

Prices are $762-$1072 per person, double occupancy. Airfare and transfers in Miami are not included. A $25 deposit per person is required to reserve an inside or balcony cabin, and a $300 deposit per person is required to reserve outside cabins. Deposits are due March 15, so start making your plans! Final payments are due July 31. For more information and booking, call Barbara at 732.262.8636 or Jaime at 732.920.1600 ext. 208.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Toy Story

By Judith Garfield

I’ve never understood the allure of the boy toy. Me, personally, I’ll just take the toy. Unopened, sitting on a shelf, appreciating in value so that someday my children, or their children, can cash in.

Don’t you wish your mother had been psychic and known that Barbie, who by the way is turning fifty this month, would become such an iconic doll? Mom would have told you to take extra special care with her and keep everything together in the Barbie suitcase. Better yet, she would have bought two of everything. One for you to play with and one to keep in pristine condition so it would be worth a boatload of money today.

Toys and dolls that can be described as NRFB (never removed from box) are highly sought after and can be quite valuable. That is why I went on a buying spree in the eighties of pop culture dolls and left them untouched in their original boxes. I have Pee Wee Herman, the gang from 90210, and Blossom and Joey from the TV sitcom. I also delved into pop music and bought the Spice Girls, but neglected to buy Posh. Who knew she was gonna be the most famous one?

My sister-in-law bestowed her Barbie collection from the fifties on my daughters. Ken has not held up well. Lost an arm and going bald. Barbie came with two wigs but her head has fallen off. Midge definitely looks the best, but she is the least in demand in the vintage market. Just to let you know, Barbie cost $3.00 when she was introduced. Today, in mint condition (removed from box but hardly played with and has all original accessories) a Barbie can fetch a couple thousand dollars.

If you are lucky enough to have saved your childhood dolls and kept them in good condition, go to to to check their value. Last week I bought the limited edition Bye Bye Bad Hair Barbie along with some shares of Mattel (parent company of Barbie and many other toy favorites). I plan not to look at either of these investments for a while. One of them should appreciate. I bet on Barbie.

P.S. This will be my last Loveless blog. I want to thank all my readers and especially my faithful commenters. Your clever and amusing responses to my loveless opinions were most appreciated. I will keep trying to get away with as little cooking as possible, and whatever your pleasure, I hope you find a delicious and simple recipe for the good life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mardi Gras Comes with a Hurricane!

By Maureen C. Petrosky

I’m relishing every minute of our snow- covered Norman Rockwell setting. Ice skating, building snowmen, and hanging out by the fire and sipping hot cocoa are the best parts of winter in the northeast. However, considering the endless forest of broken trees, day-long power outages, the fact that navigating a driveway safely is an Olympic sport on it’s own, and that the kids haven’t had school in over a week, I understand that all this snow might be getting to you. So how about a hurricane instead of another blizzard?

I’m talking about the famed New Orleans cocktail sure to warm up even Old Man Winter. While you warily watched the latest batch of flurries yesterday, it’s likely you forgot one of the nation’s biggest soirees was in full swing- Mardi Gras! The fact that it fell on a Tuesday didn’t help the hype either, yet this flashy celebration from N’awlins may be just the thing to kick your winter up a notch.

Both of Mardi Gras’ famed cocktails, the Sazerac and the Hurricane, are surefire party starters; not mention major warmers, as both are serious sips. The Sazerac dates back to the 1830’s. Based on rye whiskey, this cocktail is layered with flavors of honey and spice. While it has a hint of sweetness it’s nothing compared to the sugary rum-based Hurricane. Say what you will about the Mardi Gras debauchery, they’ve found a way to have fun in the middle of winter, and you should too. So whip up a King Cake and a big batch of Jambalaya. Invite your snowed-in neighbors and celebrate this winter wonderland.

An Authentic Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane
(recipe courtesy of
In a 26 oz. Hurricane glass, mix
4 oz. of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Rum or a good dark rum
4 oz. of Pat O'Brien's Hurricane Mix
Fill with crushed ice
Garnish with an orange and cherry

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Gloom in the Gallery

del la Serna, Open Bowl, 2009
courtesy of

By Brianne Harrison

There’s no denying, it’s cold outside. And not terribly colorful, unless you’re a fan of slush grey. So, why not thaw out and brighten up the weekend by ducking into an art exhibit (or two?)

Saturday and Sunday are the annual Artists’ Days at Sickles Market in Little Silver. Local artists will be on hand to show their work and give demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. And while you’re there, you can grab a few gourmet goodies to enjoy later!

Also displaying the work of New Jersey artists is the Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville. The current exhibition features handcrafted pieces in metal, wood, textiles, ceramics, and other, more unusual materials. The show only runs through February 28, so head over soon if you want to see it!

Over at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, visitors can enjoy free admission for the rest of February. Current exhibitions include Albert Paley: Dialogue with Steel—elaborate, impressive sculptural works by a former jeweler—and Jacobo del la Serna’s Reflections on Tradition, which highlights the artist’s beautiful, delicate pottery. You can also see the unusual, whimsical hand-blown glasswork of Flo Perkins.

In New Brunswick, the Zimmerli Museum is showing an exhibition of children’s book illustrations from 1960 through today, focusing on how they highlight social themes and subjects of contemporary culture. Artists’ whose work is on display include Catherine Stock, Roger Duvoisin, and E.B. Lewis.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The [Brrrr] ‘R’ Months

By Pat Tanner

The debate continues as to whether the old saw still holds that you should eat oysters only in months containing the letter ‘r’ in their names. Since I glom on to any excuse to devour the tasty mollusks, I’m sticking with the ‘r’ theory, which allows eight months of indulgence.

Here are my current favorite preparations, both of which require minimum effort (other than the shucking) but yield maximum results.

Oysters with Bloody Mary Mignonette
“The Ferry House Cookbook,” by Bobby Trigg (2006)
1-1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or less to taste)
1/4 cup vodka, preferably Absolut
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
36 oysters in the shell, scrubbed
Vodka for splashing

In a small bowl, stir together the horseradish, shallot, and pepper. Whisk in the vodka, then the tomato juice, then the lime juice. Garnish with the chives. Cover and refrigerate.
Shuck each oyster and smell to make sure it is fresh. Remove any broken shell or debris. Cut through the muscle holding the oyster to the shell and serve the oysters in their larger bottom shells in a bowl set on ice. Splash each oyster with vodka and then top with a dollop of mignonette.

Serves 6.

Pancetta-Wrapped Oysters and Arugula Salad
2 dozen fresh oysters, in their shells
4 ounces sliced pancetta
2 large lemons, each cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
8 ounces baby arugula, washed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Grilled lemon halves, for garnish
1 tablespoon snipped chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Thoroughly scrub and carefully open oysters. Discard top shell. Cut under the oyster meat to release it from the bottom shell. Cut pancetta into 2-inch-long strips; wrap oysters with pancetta strips and return to the half shell. Place pancetta-wrapped oysters and lemon wedges on a large broiling pan. Roast 10 minutes or until pancetta is crisp.

To serve, in a large bowl toss arugula with olive oil and salt; place salad on a large platter. Arrange oysters (in shells) on arugula. Garnish with grilled lemons and chives.
Makes 6 first-course servings.