September 18, 2020

Legal News You Can Use: Understanding the Importance of Title Searches

Many people fail to acknowledge the many steps required to purchase a home. Real estate transactions involve far more than touring a property, making an offer and closing on it.

For one, you will likely want a mortgage pre-approval before submitting an offer. Once you’ve signed a real estate contract for the home you’re buying, you will need to have it inspected to ensure it’s free from major defects. Furthermore, you must perform a title search on the property to make sure no barriers to your transaction exist.

What do title searches uncover?

To purchase a home, you must ensure it has a clean title. A title search will determine whether claims or issues exist that make it unsaleable.

While you can perform this search on your own, an attorney or a title company usually completes it. These professionals will know what to look for when evaluating the property’s title and going through public records. Their research may uncover problems that could prevent you from taking ownership of the property.

These problems include:

  • Competing claims of ownership
  • Mistakes in public records
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Outstanding liens
  • Encroachments

Why do title searches require insurance?

Before beginning your title search, you will want to secure title insurance on your property. Your mortgage lender will likely require you to purchase it since it protects them from any financial loss that title issues could cause. Keep in mind that standard title insurance will not protect you if your property’s title has defects. You have the option, though, to purchase owner’s title insurance, which will offer protection.

Title searches are a complex, confusing and necessary part of homebuying. Just because the process can be challenging should not dissuade homebuyers from completing their due diligence before they close.

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Nibbles: Gotta Love ‘The Apple Lover’s Cookbook’!

As I drive around our beautiful shoreline, I think about what is inland rather than the seashore. Apples will be everywhere, along with cider and cider donuts.

I opened Yankee magazine last week and saw that Amy Traverso, Yankee’s senior food editor, has written a new edition of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, replete with more sweet and savory recipes, more festival venues and new kinds of apples.

In Yankee, there are recipes for cardamom-apple soufflé pancakes, apple-cranberry slab pie with cranberry drizzle, apple-plum cobbler and sausage, apple and squash sheet-pan supper with fragrant herb oil.

I may not get the new one, published early this month, but my daughter’s birthday is in late September and she deserves this cookbook.

So do you.

Editor’s Note: ‘The Apple Lover’s Cookbook’ by Amy Traverso was published Sept. 1, 2020 by W.W. Norton and Company.

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A la Carte: Need a Quick, No-Cook, Hearty Salad? Tuna Panzanella is the Answer!

Lee White

My eating patterns have changed over the past six months. It began with the shelter-in-place pandemic, during which I looked at my freezers and pantry (the latter is half my hall closet in the condo), and began using many of the shelf-stable groceries of which I had double and triple amounts.)

But once the summer harvest became available, I began allowing my meals to be vegetable- and fruit-centric. I often had a late breakfast, with eggs in the mix along with lots and lots of greens, sweet corn, tomatoes (of course) and sweet peppers.

I would skip lunch, but around three or four in the afternoon, my thoughts went to dinner. If I had something thawed, perhaps a pork or lamb chop, a steak, a burger, I would add a carb (or two or three) and more vegetables. Sometimes my dinner was at 5, because I was pretty darned hungry.

I am usually in bed by 9:30 and read until 11 or later. By that time I am hungry again, but not enough get out of bed and forage downstairs in the kitchen.

We all know not to grocery shop hungry, but it was never a problem for me to read my food magazines at night in bed. But, again, my eating patterns have changed.

A couple of nights ago, I read my new Fine Cooking magazine, one of my favorites. By the time I was done reading that, and turning to a new novel my friend, Mary van Dorster, gave me, I realized I’d dog-eared 17 pages of recipes, not including the entire articles on making ice cream that do not require an ice cream maker or all the fantastic cocktails.

What one would I give you first? Obviously, it should be something that I had not made once this summer and for which I had all the ingredients.

No, I didn’t go to the kitchen at 11 pm, but I made it the next day for dinner.

Tuna Panzanella

From Fine Cooking, August/September 2020

½ cup thinly sliced red onion
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher or sea salt
2 pounds mixed tomatoes, cut into ½ inch wedges, or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
4 half-inch-thick slices rustic sourdough or country bread, toasted or grilled and cooled
1 large clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise, peeled
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 English or 2 to 3 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ cups loosely packed basil, large leaves torn
2 (two) 7- to 8-ounce jars or cans good-quality tuna in olive oil, drained, oil reserved

In a small bowl, toss together onions, vinegar and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, toss together tomatoes, capers and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Meanwhile, rub the toast slices on both sides with cut sides of garlic. Tear toast into small pieces. Discard the garlic.

Stir oil into bowl with the tomatoes mixture. Add cucumbers, toast pieces and onions mixture (including all liquids.) Toss well to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Season the salad to taste with salt and pepper. (The salad can be made up to 20 minutes ahead of this step. Keep covered at room temperature.)

Toss the basil and tuna into the salad, drizzled with a little of the reserve tuna oil (if desired) and sprinkle with more pepper.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes ‘Nibbles’ and a cooking column called ‘A La Carte’ for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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The Movie Man: Positive Thoughts on Dealing With the “Ambiguous Loss” of a Night at the Movies

Kevin Ganey is ‘The Movie Man.’

Around the start of 2019, I published a piece lamenting the rise of A-list movies being released through direct-streaming services such as Netflix. I figuratively begged the cinematic geniuses to never go down this path and always stick to theatrical releases.

I was frustrated to learn that my favorite filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, was releasing his highly anticipated crime-epic, The Irishman, via Netflix, (but he revealed the main reason for choosing the source of lazy date ideas was because Netflix was the only studio that would fund the picture for its de-aging effects.)

But nobody would have anticipated this “new normal” that we would come to experience due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Studios that planned for new releases suddenly needed to get creative in order to assure they did not suffer financial losses, so many of these flicks were released via streaming services.

The first one that I watched through this ‘New Normal’ was Pixar’s Onward and it did not feel the same. It was as if I stumbled upon a movie that had been released in the last few years but had slipped my mind when it came to catching (this accounted for the fact that I watched it mid-afternoon while the sun shone through the windows.)

The new Bond movie No Time to Die was scheduled for a theatrical release in April but was postponed to this coming November. I fear that it is highly likely that the 25th installment of Ian Fleming’s iconic spy (and Daniel Craig’s last run as the character) will be released via Amazon or Apple TV via purchase, something Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman (the original creators of the James Bond films) never could have imagined.

My biggest lament when I wrote my original piece was that we would be deprived of the movie-going experience, from purchasing your ticket at the box office (or scanning your previously paid ticket on your phone), picking out your snacks, finding your seats, and chatting with your friends as the commercials and movie trivia games were displayed before you. Then the lights went down for the previews and you shared your desire to see it or skip it, after that the lights went down even further for the feature presentation, and finally — after the credits — you walked out, letting it all soak in.

Now it’s just turning on the TV, finding the app, starting it (and pausing it in case you need to take a phone call or go to the bathroom, which can lead to distractions and never finishing the movie.) Assuming you do finish it, you look over to whomever you were sitting with (assuming this is someone you can invite into your home without fear of infection) and critiquing it amongst yourselves.

But guess what?

Life happens, and pandemics are part of life, even if they only occur once every century, and we need to adjust. We need to make sacrifices. The main sacrifice that we have had to make is to forfeit our ability to socialize, which is truly a burden on us as social creatures.

This has led to athletes competing in “bubbles” as fans are no longer allowed to spectate, concerts have been called off, and, as we have recently seen, political conventions could only be screened on TV (though some participants still deliver their speeches as if there is a crowd before them, leading to an awkward scene [you know which person I’m talking about …]) Of course, this also includes going to the movies.

We’ve seen so many industries that have been delayed because of this and need to take a break in order to safely get back to work. This also includes the production of highly anticipated films and TV series that probably will not be able to be completed until it is deemed safe for the cast and crew to assemble together, and will perhaps require creativity to present our heroes always standing six feet apart.

Imagine how romance scenes will be filmed as they keep their distance while confessing their undying love for each other?

My mother recently shared the term, “Ambiguous loss,” with me, which she teaches in her therapeutic horseback riding work. Basically it’s a loss like any other, but there is no tangible or concrete end, such as losing somebody during wartime and having no answer to where they are.

It is quite clear that we are in the middle of an “ambiguous loss” at the moment, as we wonder what will transpire in the coming months (or even years) as we anticipate the arrival of a vaccine to defeat COVID-19.

She also shared a phrase that is often thrown around as a way to console others, “Everything happens for a reason.” I had to balk at that because there are clearly some things that happen, which have no rhyme nor reason whatsoever. She agreed, having observed in recent years that words matter and can have negative consequences.

After much discussion, we ultimately decided that a better way to justify these losses is to consider them not as the end, but rather that they could lead to something better if we put the appropriate effort into them.

While we must make sacrifices in the meantime, they will lead us to appreciate everything that we cherished or even took for granted. I hope that from a cinematic perspective, we can appreciate movies in the way in which they have been historically presented to us: as an extension of the theater — accessible to all throughout the world for all time. While the theater is no longer a top venue of entertainment, I hope that we can eventually appreciate our movie-going experiences and treat them like a night out at the theater.

As we long for an unimpeded return to restaurants, concerts, and sports events, so too we should anticipate and celebrate the return of a night at the local cinema.

About the Author: Though no longer a resident of Lyme, Kevin knows he can never sever his roots to the tree of his identity. When not attending to his job in Boston, he is committed to ensuring a better grasp of current (and past) releases of cinema to his home community as he strives to leave his own mark in the same field that has always been his guide to understanding life. If you enjoy his published reviews here on LymeLine.com, follow him on his new website at ‘The City of Cinema and read more of his unique insights into entertainment.

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A View From My Porch: Great Leaders and Great Speeches. Part 5: Cold War “Visual Aids”

Editor’s Note: This the fifth part of Thomas Gotowka’s series titled “Great Leaders and Great Speeches.’ The previous four parts can be found at these links:

A View from My Porch:  Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 1: Washington’s Farewell through Theodore Roosevelt

A View from My Porch:  Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 2: Nazi Aggression through “A Rain of Ruin from the Air” on Hiroshima

A View from My Porch:  Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 3: The Cold War 

A View from My Porch: Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 4: The Cold War Heats Up


The last essay concluded with President Kennedy’s humiliation of the Soviets and the resultant dismantling and removal of their offensive weapons from Cuba.
The United States had stepped back from the brink of nuclear war.

In this essay, I explore the “Visuals” of the Cold War. What were anxious Americans reading and watching during that tense era? I will then wrap up my treatise on the Cold War with a review of the gradual “wind-down” of hostilities, and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As always, my goal is that the reader gets a solid foundation in the fundamentals of the subject, which may even pique their curiosity enough to seek additional information.

COLD WAR VISUALS & EVENTS:

Images played an important role in waging the Cold War and communicating its possible impacts to Americans. The importance of television, posters, cinema, and political cartoons in representing our Cold War enemy was recognized early. Public Service Announcements and posters often featured mushroom clouds and some reference to “We will bury you”.

I have strong memories of a large portion of the Cold War era, and, being familiar with the demographics of SE CT, I know that I am not unique. 

Americans feared that the Soviet Union would launch an unprovoked attack on the United States with nuclear weapons. I am only providing a small sample of what Americans were reading, watching, or hearing from their leaders during that tense era; and just a few of the events that also affected our collective angst.

Much of the following was created or supported by a series of independent government agencies involved in civil defense.

In the early 1950s, schools performed emergency “Duck and Cover” drills to prepare children to react in a manner that provided some protection in a nuclear attack. The animated character, “Bert the Turtle”, engaged the youngest Americans in preparing for these drills. Students were trained to dive under their desks and cover their heads. Desks were incredibly sturdy back then.

“I Led Three Lives” was a series that aired from 1953 through 1956 on American television, and covered the activities of Herbert Philbrick, a young professional in 1939 Boston, who infiltrated a Communist Party Cell in Cambridge, Mass.; and worked covertly with the FBI for nine years. His cover was so convincing that he was asked by Cell leaders to follow other comrades to assess their loyalty. Hence, his three lives: white-collar worker, Communist agent, and FBI operative thwarting Communist plots.

On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik1, the world’s first artificial satellite, and one of three in the Soviet “Sputnik” program that achieved orbit.  Sputnik1 remained in orbit until Jan. 4, 1958, when it dropped and burned in the Earth’s atmosphere. Many Americans feared the potential “sinister” uses that the Soviets could bring to bear on us with this expertise in rocket and satellite technology. 

However, more serious was the perception of American weakness and loss of scientific leadership, which then contributed to Kennedy’s election win, as he had emphasized the “space gap” and the role of the Eisenhower-Nixon administration in creating it.

Our government, the military, and the scientific community were caught off guard by the Soviet technological achievement; and, as a result, combined their efforts to catch and surpass the Soviets, marking the beginning of the “space race”. Our first satellite, Explorer1, was launched on Jan. 31, 1958; and, with more advanced communications technology than Sputnik, provided the first data transmitted from space, revealing the presence of radiation belts encircling the Earth, now known as the Van Allen Radiation Belt. 

In 1958, NBC presented “Ten for Survival”, a 10-episode television series on how to survive a nuclear attack. There were also several pamphlets accompanying the series, published by the Department of Defense Office of Civil Defense.

“AXIOM FOR SURVIVAL: If this country is attacked with nuclear weapons, you can protect yourself. But first, you must know what to do and how to do it.” The associated pamphlets covered subjects ranging from “dealing with the three main effects of a nuclear explosion (i.e., “Heat, Blast, Fallout, Heat”) to “preparing to live in a fallout shelter”.

During the Plenary Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 12,1960, Nikita Khrushchev, Soviet First Secretary of the Communist Party, removed his shoe, and raised it above his head as if to strike the desk, in protest at a speech by another delegate, who stated that Eastern Europe had been “deprived of political and civil rights due to the dominant influence in the region by the Soviet Union”.

Note that it was reported widely that he did strike the desk, but I could only locate photographs of a “threat to pound”, with shoe held above his head.

A fallout shelter sign in the United States of America. Photo by Geraldshields11. Published under the Creative Commons license.

Fallout shelters became that generation’s wine cellars and whirlpool tubs in essential home features and improvements. In a speech on “Urgent National Needs” delivered to a joint session of Congress on May, 25, 1961, President Kennedy stated that, “his Administration has been looking hard at exactly what civil defense can and cannot do. It cannot be obtained cheaply. It cannot give an assurance of blast protection that will be proof against surprise attack or guarantee against obsolescence or destruction. And it cannot deter a nuclear attack.” (Holy Cow!) 

Then, in July, after the Soviets imposed a blockade on West Berlin, Kennedy  said in a televised speech, that “in the event of an attack, the lives of those families which are not hit in a nuclear blast and fire can still be saved if they can be warned to take shelter, and if that shelter is available.”

Finally, on Oct. 6, he advised families to build shelters to protect themselves from atomic fallout in the event of a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union. In another speech on civil defense issues, Kennedy assured the public that the government would soon begin providing such protection for every American.

The President went on say: “We owe that kind of insurance to our families and to our country. The time to start is now. In the coming months, I hope to let every citizen know what steps he can take without delay to protect his family in case of attack. I know you would not want to do less.” 

Congress approved $169 million to locate, mark and stock fallout shelters in existing public and private buildings. Note that this all occurred about a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Periodicals like “Better Homes and Gardens”, “Life Magazine”, and “Popular Science” all included articles on fallout shelters, aimed at readers who were preparing to build the best possible shelter. How-to booklets were widely available, with instructions and diagrams in the finer points of building and equipping your family fallout shelter.

Even earlier, Eisenhower’s Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) had urged American families to maintain a seven-day supply of food and water in case of an atomic emergency. The FCDA launched an initiative called “Grandma’s Pantry”, with slogans like “Grandma was always ready for an emergency.” They produced thousands of “Grandma’s Pantry” exhibits for use in stores, with advice on what should be in every American’s disaster pantry.

The “Mother of All Fallout Shelters”:

In 1955, President Eisenhower instructed the Department of Defense to develop emergency plans to relocate Congress and ensure continuity of government in the event of a nuclear strike. The Army Corps of Engineers selected the Greenbrier Resort property in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., which was relatively close and accessible to Washington, D.C., but distant enough to be safe from an atomic bomb dropped on the Capital.

The Greenbrier had served as a confinement facility for Japanese, Italian, and German diplomats; and then as a military hospital during the second world war. 

Construction on the “super-bunker” Relocation Center began in 1957; and was completed in October, 1962, just as the Cuban Missile Crisis loomed. The Greenbrier bunker was buried 720 ft. underground. It would not survive a direct nuclear strike, but was capable of withstanding a blast 15 to 30 miles away and protecting its occupants from fallout.

The facility‘s two levels totaled about 115,000 square ft., “roughly the size of two football fields on top of one another”. Although the presence of the bunker was a closely-guarded secret, its largest halls, which were intended for sessions of Congress, were actually depicted as part of the Greenbrier Hotel complex, and would have been sealed off in the event of an attack.

All walls were concrete, three feet thick, and reinforced with steel. The entire structure was covered with a concrete roof and buried beneath 20 ft. of soil. It had a highly sophisticated ventilation system that was designed to circulate air and remove radiation.

The Bunker included a decontamination room, 18 rooms of dormitory space, each housing 60 people in metal bunk beds; a kitchen, and a 400-seat cafeteria, which was decorated with fake windows featuring scenic views. The upper level contained storage space and offices for Congressional leaders.

The bunker also had a hospital, operating room, pharmacy, crematorium, and a vast television, radio, and communications facility. The Relocation Center was maintained in a constant state of “readiness” by Forsythe Associates, which was later described by the Washington Post as an “obscure company ostensibly based in Arlington, Va.” These on-site employees claimed that their purpose was to maintain the hotel’s 1100 televisions.

The bunker remained a closely-guarded secret until 1992, when the Post published “The Ultimate Congressional Hideaway.” Given that its secure location was one of the primary guarantees for its defense, the bunker was quickly decommissioned and became the Greenbrier Cold War theme park. (To schedule a tour, call 844-690-4141. Adults: $39 per person Youth (10-18): $20 per person.)

The “Miracle on Ice” — some Cold War good news:

In 2005, the Olympic Center ice arena in Lake Placid where the Miracle on Ice took place was renamed the Herb Brooks Arena in the US ice hockey coach’s honor.

“Miracle” was a medal-round game between the United States and the heavily-favored Soviet Union that occurred during the men’s ice hockey tournament at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Our team of college players, the youngest team at that tournament, held on to beat the four-time defending gold medalists Soviet Union team of “amateurs” by a score of 4 to 3. 

Two days later, the United States secured the gold medal by beating Finland in their final game. The Soviet Union beat Sweden for the silver. (USA! USA!) 

The United States’ victory over the Soviets became one of the most iconic moments in sports; and, in 1999, was named by Sports Illustrated as the top sports moment of the 20th century. Perhaps as well-known as the final score was the call in the final seconds of the game by Al Michaels for ABC Sports, when he declared: “Do you believe in miracles? YES!” 

Some Final Scary Thoughts:

Most historians doubt that the Greenbrier bunker could have been used effectivelyMissile technology had so decreased the time between a “decision to strike” and the appearance of a bomb crater that a safe relocation of Congress in anticipation of an imminent attack was virtually impossible. An early relocation would have been provocative to the Soviets.

In his May, 25, 1961 speech, Kennedy also stated that “we will deter an enemy from making a nuclear attack only if our retaliatory power is so strong and so invulnerable that he knows he would be destroyed by our response. If we have that strength, civil defense is not needed to deter an attack. If we should ever lack it, civil defense would not be an adequate substitute.”

Thus, it was widely believed by Cold War strategists that war with the Soviet Union was largely prevented by the fear of mutually-assured destruction (i.e., the MAD Doctrine). In simple terms, the theory of deterrence assumes that, because a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender; the threat of using such weapons against the enemy prevents the enemy’s use of those same weapons. 

This deterrent concept assumes rational calculations by rational people; which I am not convinced that we still possess at the highest levels of Government.

Is “person, woman, man, camera, TV” ever really enough?

This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

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A la Carte: It’s Almost Labor Day, But There’s Still Time for ‘Summer Vegetable Stew’

Lee White

Last weekend, between cooking (more basil pesto and Coca Cola chocolate cake), reading (finally finished Scott Turow’s The Last Trial) or watching television (not much left now except MSNBC and the third season of The Good Fight.)

I also spent some time on Facebook. My south-of-the-Baldwin-Bridge editor, Pem McNerney, who is no slouch when it comes to cooking, made something with tomatoes and eggplant. 

I love eggplant. Needless to say, I did not grow up with fresh vegetables. I doubt that my mom even knew what an eggplant was. I think the first time I tasted it may have been in the early 80s, and it was, of course, eggplant parmigiana.

When we moved to Old Lyme, my next door neighbor told me she had the original recipe from Fatone’s restaurant, where she once worked. I mentioned that Sam Gejdenson used to make it, and she said he learned it from the Fatones. She made it and it is still the best eggplant parm ever. She showed me how to make it, too. 

Today I love eggplant in every way imaginable.

I have made ratatouille, even before that adorable animated movie. I once cooked it whole, unpeeled on a charcoal grill, when its insides have the texture of a Three Musketeer candy bar and the skin has the snap of a warm-from-the-garden tomato.

I forgot to ask Pem for her recipe but I found one in an old cookbook by Michele Scicolone. For me, the star of the show is not just the eggplant, but because the recipe is so simple. It will be my favorite eggplant go-to until its summer bounty is a memory.

Summer Vegetable Stew

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash.

From Italian Holiday Cooking by Michele Scicolone (William Morrow, New York, 2002

The author says you can add any vegetable to the mix, including zucchini, summer squash, celery and green beans. Sometimes she leaves out the cheese and adds basil or parsley. Best of all, she mentions it makes a wonderful sandwich stuffed into a fresh grinder roll.

Yield: serves 6

1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, diced
2 large ripe tomatoes, diced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bit-sized pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼  cup freshly grated pecorino Romano

In a large pot, combine all the ingredients except the cheese Add ¼ cup water, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender. 

Just before serving, stir in the cheese. Serve hot or at room temperature.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes ‘Nibbles’ and a cooking column called ‘A La Carte’ for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘Talking to Strangers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

I admit that I am easily drawn to the words of Malcolm Gladwell, having already absorbed his The Tipping Point (2002), Blink (2007), and Outliers (2011).  I was not disappointed!.

This is yet another intriguing and challenging mental exercise about the way in which our brains tend to mislead us,

Consider meeting someone new and engaging in conversation: afterwards, we think we have understood each other, but have we really?

Gladwell cites many past meetings that have resulted in gross misunderstanding: Cortes and Montezuma; Hitler and Chamberlain; Sandra Bland and the Italian police; Bernie Madoff and investors;, Sandusky and the Penn State authorities.

He suggests the fallacy lies in “… the assumption that we all follow in our own effort to make sense of strangers. We believe that the information gathered from a personal interaction is uniquely valuable.”

It is our instinctive desire to believe what a stranger tells us: our latent bias to trust what we hear. But the emotional responses to others can be and often are misleading.  Gladwell says, “We tend to judge people’s honesty based on their demeanor.” Hesitancy, looking away, stammering, all lead us to doubt, but even those traits are misleading.

We are inevitably a species, “a society (that) does not know how to talk to strangers.” When we look differently, act differently, dress differently, we create instinctive wariness, alarm and natural aversion. When the stranger looks, acts, dresses and sounds like us, our natural sympathies are aroused.

Gladwell’s conclusion? Misunderstandings are entirely natural. “We will never know the whole truth,” so “… what is required of us is constraint and humility.”

So take heed … listen; pause, and think!

Editor’s Note: ‘Talking to Strangers’ by Malcolm Gladwell is published by LittleBrown, New York 2020.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008).

A 20-year resident of Lyme, Conn., he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, a subject which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there.

For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

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A la Carte: You Deserve Something Special! Triple-Ginger Pound Cake Beckons

Lee White

Last week I made the most delicious dinner I’d ever made. And the easiest. And so satisfying that no dessert—ice cream, cookies, cheesecake or crème brulee—was necessary.

Here’s what it was: a T-bone steak I’d bought and frozen when they were on sale, three sliced tomatoes. mashed potatoes from 20 tiny ones I’d purchased from Stone Acres in Stonington and two ears of sweet corn from Whittle’s in Mystic.

The steak was grilled almost black but the middle was blood red, just the way I like it. My next-door neighbor was also grilling at his patio and was concerned, I think, because my grill was smoking.

I took it off the grill and placed it on a plate and let it sit on the dining room table as I sliced and salted the tomatoes, mashed the potatoes with a little milk and butter, and then set everything down.

Those 10 minutes made all the difference, as they always do, allowing the juices to recede back into the meat.

I hope you are all having amazing, healthy and fresh food this summer. Healthy, you say? A steak?

Truth is it is probably the first time I have grilled a steak in six months, so a steak is just an extravagance after lots of chicken, vegetables, seafood and salad. I hope you are all getting food as fresh and local as I am and cooking it yourself, knowing exactly what the ingredients are and where they come from.

I bet you are playing with ingredients, too.  I received an incredible e-mail from Carol Sepowitz from New London, who used a recipe I’d found for poached cod. She’d bought the cod from Stonington Farm Market and used small yellow tomatoes, but didn’t have one of my ingredients.

“I made the cod for dinner,” she wrote, “but  had no coconut cream. I [did] have the Nature’s Promise organic frozen coconut fruit bars on the stick from Stop & Shop. When it came time to add the coconut milk, I let the fruit bar melt into the tomatoes and it made a wonderful poaching sauce adding to the spices. The fish was so good!” Isn’t that amazing?

I have always said home  cooks may be better than chefs. I like recipes from cook authors and restaurant chefs, but kitchen innovators are often people like Carol. 

Just because we are eating healthy, below is a not-too-sweet cake for dessert (or toasted for breakfast) when you want something you deserve.

Triple-Ginger Pound Cake

Makes 2 loaves

Photo by Sheri Silver on Unsplash.

3 and ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 and ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 and ¼ cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat; 2 % is okay)
½ cup minced crystallized ginger
3 and ½ tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease (or use Pam) two 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pans.
Sift flour, ground ginger, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until fluffy (at least two minutes).
Add eggs and yolk one at a time, beating after each addition.
Beat in vanilla.
Mix dry ingredients and milk alternately into batter.
Fold in crystallized ginger and grated ginger.
Divide batter between prepared loaf pans.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into the middle of the cakes come out clean.
Cool in pans 10 minutes or a little more. Cut around sides of pan to loosen.
Turn cakes onto rack and cool completely.
Can be prepared up to 1 month. Double wrap cakes in plastic and freeze.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes ‘Nibbles’ and a cooking column called ‘A La Carte’ for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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Letter From Paris: Back to Normal in France? Not Quite …

Nicole Prévost Logan

 

A Cannes Film Festival turned virtual,  the Roland Garros tennis tournament and Tour de France bicycle race both postponed until September?  France will definitely not be the same this  summer!

Tourism and culture are two of the main sectors of French economy and the pandemic has inflicted a direct blow on both of them.  Hundreds of festivals, sport events, art shows, plays, and concerts or activities linked to historical monuments had to be drastically reduced, presented behind closed doors, or totally cancelled, putting hundreds of thousands of people out of work .

But you would not think there is a virus going around when you see the way the French behave.

In Paris, restaurants and bistros spread their terraces across the sidewalks and into the streets.  They mark their space with bushes and flower beds.  Beach umbrellas add color to the scene.  Taking advantage of the warm weather, Parisians hang out outside.

Away from the cities, the French have been seeking  the calm of the countryside, enjoying family gatherings and organizing barbecues with  friends .

Young people could barely wait for the end of the lockdown to have fun in Paris … to huddle on the banks of the Seine or the Canal St Martin, to congregate in open spaces and dance into the night, or to flock to discotheques.  Meanwhile, St Tropez, down on the Riviera coast in the far south of the country, became a particularly hot spot.

People were reluctant to take the subways and, as a result, car traffic has surged.  Bicycles have taken over Paris.  It is likely that this trend will persist, virus or not.

Barely out of the lockdown, one thing was on everybody’s mind … the next vacation.  Every day the media tempted the viewers with sights of clear waters, beaches, and cool mountain trails.  This year the French seem to have rediscovered their own country and become the only tourists there.

It was to be expected that such behavior would have an impact on the evolution of the pandemic.  Clusters have multiplied throughout the country, which led to the specialists warning that the virus was still active.

But the present situation is quite different from what it was at the height of the crisis back in March and April.  The number of  deaths, or severe cases, being treated in the hospitals remains very low.  A general lockdown appears to be out of the question today.

Hospitals are better prepared and treatments made easier for the patients.  Masks and testing are more available.  Central government and local authorities adjust their policies to manage the pandemic in a more flexible way.  For instance, as of this week , Paris and several other large cities require masks to be worn outside in crowded areas.

From this overview of the pandemic in France, let us now change scenery and take a look at some highlights of life in France and Europe over these past months …

Every six years in France, the people are riveted by municipal elections. There are 36,000 communes in France headed by a maire assisted by a conseil municipal. The wide spectrum goes from the highly political Paris town hall, employing 40,000 people — Jacques Chirac headed that institution before becoming president of France — to the tiniest mairie.

The small village on the Dordogne, where one of my daughters lives, had been dormant for the past four decades with an unopposed maire at the wheel. This year however, things were different. The ballot took place in a heated atmosphere.  Participation was high. The scene was like a microcosm of French politics … and the maire was defeated.

In early July, Edouard Philippe stepped down as prime minister. A growing feeling of insecurity and violence has damaged the authority of the French executive. President Macron decided that a major reshuffle was required to bring new faces and methods and thus energize the government prior to the next presidential election.

Even a new voice was welcome. Jean Castex comes from the Pyrenées region and has a southern accent, which the French usually associate with vacations on the Mediterranean. Castex nevertheless is a product of the élite schools, a graduate of Ecole Nationale  d’Administration (ENA). As a high-ranking official, he has held key positions at the very center of power at the Elysée Palace.  He is an old pro — although he does not sound like one.

Over in Poland, Ardrzej Duda, leader of the conservative party Droit et Justice (PIS), was reelected as president on July 12.  The very small margin of his victory – 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent – suggests that it is only a question of time until a liberal, pro-European movement, possibly headed by Rafal Trzaskowski, defeats the authoritarian executive.

In Italy, meanwhile, after 14 months of the disastrous government of populist Matteo Salvini, Giuseppe Conte brought  appeasement as a centrist prime minister, who works well with Brussels.

At 5.30 a.m. on July 22, the 27 members of the European Union (EU) met  in response to a Franco-German initiative.  It was the longest summit in EU history.  Arduous  negotiations produced a  stimulus of 390 billion Euros in subsidies and 360 billion in loans.

The recovery plan of the EU — labeled “Next Generation EU”– is ambitious.  At its core is  a  “Green Pact.”

The plan, which will be implemented gradually along with each year’s budget, includes support of the health system, innovation assistance to viable companies, aid to farmers and fishermen, and 100 billion to help pay for widespread partial unemployment.

Banking rules will be made more flexible to facilitate the borrowing by entrepreneurs.  Right now the European Central Bank (CBE) enjoys a high credit rating, which helps the borrowing process. Margrethe Verstager , Executive Vice President of the EU Commission, will promote a Digital Single Market.

Alstom — a French multinational company operating in rail  transport markets — bought the Canadian company Bombardier.  The merger will create a rival to the giant China Railway Construction  Corporation (CRCC). China is continuing to make inroads in Europe and just invested in Portugal’s trams.

Overall the numbers of the European economic recovery are impressive:  together Brussels plus the 27 EU national governments will inject 40,000 billion Euros into the economy — far more than the US or even China

The “frugals”– the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Finland — fought tooth and nail against transfers of funds from the richer North to the South.  Dutch prime minister Mark Rutt stressed that the 750 billion Euros were not a blank check to weaker economies like Italy’s  — whose vertiginous debt is 240 percent of its GDP — but an investment plan to be controlled by Brussels.

Concessions had to be made.  The “frugals” received a rebate in their annual contribution to the European budget.  But the real beneficiaries are Poland and Hungary, who keep receiving money in spite of their frequent violation of the rule of law.

Recent developments show how fragile — but also resilient — the EU is.  Even the “Eurosceptics” do not want to let go of  their profitable membership in the “club .” But the real strength of the EU is that it constitutes a huge market, the largest trading block of the world.  The richer EU economies need the tariff-free Single Market.  Germany relies particularly on Lombardy  for its exports.  Maybe the EU should learn from  Alexander Hamilton who advocated the “mutualization” of the sovereign debts of the States to make the federation stronger?

And finally … on Aug. 21, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel met at the medieval Fort de Brégançon, the summer residence of French presidents.  On this late summer day, they seemed to enjoy this picturesque spot on the Mediterranean  to meet for five working hours.  They reiterated the unity of their policy at this complicated time.

At unprecedented speed, France and Germany led the EU in its mediation to support the protests following the Belarus elections.  They also acted swiftly also in flying Alexei Novalny, who is in a coma, to a hospital in Germany for treatment of a possible poisoning by the Russian government.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Gardening with ‘The English Lady’: Tips for August, “The Sunday of Summer”

Beautiful borders are a sure sign of summer. Photo by LandscapesbyIanLLC.com.

August has always been one of my least favorite months in the garden; but plentiful spring has resulted in bountiful fragrance, bloom and foliage. 

We have such a short blooming and growing season here in New England that any extra time to have a good-looking border is much appreciated. However, by this time in the season, there are always a few gaps to fill in with annuals or some later-blooming perennials as our gardens are a constant changing scene of beauty in motion.  

Plantings that looked good last year, may be oversized, and desperately in need of division or transplant. This task can be tackled in September when the weather is cooler, when you can venture into your borders and transplant some specimens out for every plant has its own space with plenty of air circulation and is able to perform with optimal health.

Divide those plants that have been in the soil for four years or more and which at this juncture you notice that they are not blooming so profusely. I am sure you have fellow gardeners who will be thrilled to receive some of the divisions. 

Keep up with your deadheading so that your garden will always appear fresh and perky. After the hot, dry days we have had of late watering is of major importance. Ensure your garden receives at least one inch of water a week with containers requiring a daily dose of water, in the early morning and early evening. 

Soaker hoses are a much more efficient method of watering as the water goes straight to the roots where it is needed. With soaker hoses you will not lose 40 percent of moisture to evaporation and will also prevent water from landing on the foliage, which can result in disease and mildew.

When you cut back tired-looking annuals, you will be pleasantly surprised to see a new flush of bloom in a short time.  If on closer inspection, you notice your borders are looking somewhat weary, then give them a boost of bright new plants to perk things up.  Do check around as garden centers are often offering late season bargains.

When the perennial Coreopsis and Spirea has finished blooming, cut off the dead blooms with the garden shears and anticipate the appearance of vibrant bright blooms shortly.  

Roses are always a delight to behold … but stop feeding them in August!

Roses

It is important to stop feeding roses now in August. Roses require at least nine weeks without using their energy on new bloom for them to gently retreat into a slow healthy dormancy before the first frost. In my September tips, I will give you suggestions on partially pruning roses in early fall, followed by a second pruning the following April. This double pruning method produces the healthiest and most prolific bloom. 

Containers

Photo by LandscapesbyIanLLC.com.

Give your containers a little extra composted manure every couple of weeks when watering to keep the look of the containers bright and cheerful. Add the manure on top of the natural brown mulch as both manure and mulch help retain moisture and helps retard weeds.

If in the morning you do not have time to water the containers before you go off to work or run errands, simply empty your ice trays into the containers, this will provide slow release watering until you are able to add more when you return home.   

With the heat and humidity which we have been experiencing in recent days, powdery mildew maybe appearing on certain species like summer phlox, Monarda and Hydrangeas.  If you notice this problem, I suggest you spray with my remedy of one gallon of water in a spray container adding one tablespoon of baking soda and a dash of vegetable oil.  Always spray in the morning before the temperature and humidity numbers, when added together equal 160.  

Continue adding more composted manure to vegetables each month, as vegetables — particularly annual vegetables — are heavy feeders. To prevent animals from munching on your precious bounty, place an old sneaker or a piece of carpet that your dog had lain on for a while, in among the vegetables; these odors help to keep furry marauders away. 

Peonies by Jessica Fadel on Unsplash.

Peonies

Place your orders for Peonies now so they can be delivered for September planting. September is the only month suitable to transplant, divide or plant new Peonies.

Following the first hard frost in November, cut any existing Peonies to six inches from the ground and add a little natural brown mulch around them to protect the pink-eyed roots, which are close to the soil surface. When planting Peonies or transplanting them, make sure that the ‘pink eyes’ on the roots are barely covered with soil — if planted any deeper, it is likely that you may not have bloom next year.  

Begin compiling your list of spring bulbs now for the best choice of bulbs to be available for you.

Please feel free to email me with any gardening questions to MaureenHaseleyJones@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing you in your garden in September, in the meantime enjoy being outdoors.

Maureen Haseley-Jones

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, ‘The English Lady Landscape and Home Company.’ Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.
Contact Maureen at maureenhaseleyjones@gmail.com

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A la Carte: Savor a Taste of Summer in Chipotle Pasta Salad with Mozzarella

Lee White

Remember Willard Scott from the Today show?

I saw him a few years ago at a Sunday brunch at the Saybrook Point Inn. I always liked his birthday wishes to anyone over 100 years, sponsored by Smucker’s.

I also laughed at his “best ever,” wherever he was broadcasting. The “best pancake” he ever had, the “best meatloaf” in all of Indiana, the most “beautiful sunshine” in the Sunshine State. I think about him whenever I tell you about the best restaurant, the best entrée, the best ice cream, the best summer I can remember. 

And this was a nice summer and, with little rain, has been excellent for growing and cooking food. I have used every single vegetable I chose from my CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture). In addition to my CSA, I have spent many Tuesdays at the community farm stand at Washington Park in Groton, and I have also bought sweet corn, big tomatoes, and gorgeous peaches at Whittle’s.

Friends have given me beautiful heads of garlic and eggplant and a Facebook friend wrote I can get all his basil, or he would bring it to me. I have an entire pound of pine nuts, olive oil and lots of Parmesan to grate for all the pasta I will cook in the winter.

Yesterday I made a very interesting pasta salad. The recipe includes chipotle adobo sauce for the dressing and fresh, chopped basil.

I  had a few packets of merguez (lamb) sausage in the freezer, which I sautéed and cut into little pieces for the salad. I liked the meat addition but the lamb sausage is very spicy and I had read the recipe incorrectly, adding two tablespoons instead of two teaspoons of the adobo.

If you like, add some sausage (sweet Italian or kielbasa); otherwise, it is a lovely vegetarian entrée.

Chipotle Pasta Salad with Mozzarella

Adapted from Food Magazine, September 2020

1 pound rotini or fusilli
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup whole milk (I used 2 percent Parmalat lactose-free)
2 to 3 tablespoons white vinegar
2 to 3 teaspoons adobo sauce (from canned chipotle peppers)
Kosher salt or sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups red and/or grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and chopped
12 ounces mozzarella (fresh or smoked, I used fresh), cut into small cubes
24 or so fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, rinse under cool water and set aside in a large bowl.

Combine mayonnaise and milk in a medium bowl, then add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and stir until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce, ½ teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Sir the dressing until combined. Give it a taste and add more vinegar if you like it a little bite, or add adobo sauce if you’d like it to have a little more heat.

Drizzle the dressing over the pasta, throw in the tomatoes and cucumber, then add the cheese. Stir pasta around, then add the basil and stir until it is all combined. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least two hours. Taste and season again before serving.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes ‘Nibbles’ and a cooking column called ‘A La Carte’ for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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A la Carte: Love Linguine? Just Add Spinach, Lemon Cream, Parmesan to Make a Delicious Dish!

Lee White

It was a nice week with more company at home in four days than I have had in the last four months.

Tuesday evening, I had five friends for dinner. We are all good friends, all five from Lyme, and all but I had spent a bit of time together. I had visited one couple twice over one month. My dining room table is very large and, while we could converse, it was too big for us to whisper (not that we would!)

After dinner, we sat in my living/dining room, at least five feet apart, and watched the Connecticut Sun lose for the second time in a row. All of the WNBA women are playing at one enormous arena for the entire summer.

Then, on Saturday, my stepdaughter, Molly, visited from Newton, Mass. She currently has the longest commute ever—two weeks in Massachusetts, then two weeks in San Francisco. She had sheltered in San Francisco for three months and when she flew to Massachusetts she had to isolate for two week.

Now, with the continuing COVID situation in California, she will spend at least six weeks here on the East Coast. Anyway, we had a nice dinner at Olio, but before she drove back to her apartment, I gave her a few packages of tuna salad, tomatoes, cherries, peaches, and sweet corn. 

Even though it was a busy week, including Zoom meetings and writing, I had some time to do read lots of my food magazines. I did some interesting cooking. In all the years I have written this column, I never have a problem finding a new recipe or figuring a new way to make an older one.

But this past week I found three new recipes and had all the ingredients on my counter, in the refrigerator or in the pantry/hall closet. Two I have made and both were delicious. The third I haven’t made yet, but a friend had given me three lovely little eggplants, so I will make that one tomorrow or the next day.

All three can be ready to eat by the time the water is boiling and the pasta is al dente. Will add the new one or two next week.

Linguine with Spinach, Lemon Cream and Parmesan
From Costco Connection, August 2020

Yield: 4 (as a entree) or to 6 to 8 as a starter or side

1 pound linguine
1 pound baby spinach
1 small or medium-firm zucchini, cut into fine julienne strips (optional)
2 lemons, washed and dried
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the linguine and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Stir in spinach and zucchini, if using. Cook, stirring frequently, until spinach is tender, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, zest the lemons, removing only the yellow skin and avoiding the white pith. Halve the lemons, and squeeze the juice into a small bowl. 

Remove and reserve ½ cup of the pot of water, drain the linguine into a strainer. Pour the lemon juice over the pasta.

Add pasta water, cream and lemon zest into the empty pot and cook over medium-low, stirring, until the cream thickens slightly, about 1 minute. Add linguine and toss well until thoroughly coated. Season with salt and pepper and serve in a bowl with the cheese.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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A la Carte: Friday Means Fish: How About Healthy, but also Delicious ‘Poached Cod in Tomato Curry’?

Lee White

I still have not had an ear of sweet corn, but the farm stands do seem to be in high cotton*.

(*I have actually never used that phrase, but I have been reading novels that take place in Virginia lately, and one person used “high cotton,” so I looked up the phrase and, originally, it meant that the crops, usually cotton, were doing particularly well, so I thought I would use this to talk about how great all the crops seems to be doing.)

Last week, I took home more kinds of green beans, lots more basil and two different sizes of tomatoes—one a little bigger than grape tomatoes and the other smaller than a medium-sized salad tomato. And both were a burnished reddish-brown. All were beyond delicious.

My food magazines are loaded with local vegetable recipes, especially my Bon Appetit. A few weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend at The Spot in Groton, close to where I live and yet I’d never eaten there. I ordered a baked stuffed cod with sweet potato fries and a fairly large, very good, Caesar salad.

A hour later, at home, I was reading August 2020’s  Bon Appetit and saw a recipe for poached cod in tomato curry. The next day I bought some cod and made the dish. It was very good, but I realized some people don’t enjoy Indian curry.

For those of you in that category, try making it as a Thai curry. I always have red curry paste in the refrigerator and unsweetened coconut milk in the pantry. Next time I will use those ingredients instead of the red chile and the Indian curry. 

In any case, here is this very nice recipe—healthy and delicious. And in case you have coconut milk but not coconut cream, use the top layer of the coconut milk.

Poached Cod in Tomato Curry

Adapted from Bon Appetit, August, 2020
Yield: 4 servings

3 tablespoons ghee, virgin coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 red chile, halved, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 cardamom pods, crushed*
1 teaspoon ground coriander*
½ teaspoon ground turmeric*
1 ¼ pounds cherry tomatoes (about 2 pints)
¼ cup unsweetened coconut cream (or the top layer of canned coconut milk)
Kosher salt
4 5-ounce skinless cod fillets
1 cup basil leaves, torn if large

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook chile, ginger and garlic, stirring often, until garlic is softened but has not taken on any color, about 3 minutes. Add cardamom, coriander and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant — about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes burst and release their juices 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in coconut cream, taste and season curry with salt.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Season cod with salt and nestle into curry. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until fish is opaque throughout and beginning to flake, 5 to 7 minutes. (Thicker pieces will take longer to cook.)

Gently transfer cod to shallow bowls. Stir basil into curry and spoon over fish.

*If you do not have cardamom pods, coriander and turmeric, use 2 teaspoons of Indian curry powder.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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A View from My Porch: Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 4: The Cold War Heats Up

Editor’s Note: This the third part of Thomas Gotowka’s series titled “Great Leaders and Great Speeches.’ The previous three parts can be found at these links:

A View from My Porch:  Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 1

A View from My Porch:  Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 2

A View from My Porch:  Great Leaders and Great Speeches, Part 3: The Cold War 

Part 3 concluded with President Kennedy’s humiliation with the disaster at the Bay of Pigs, which served to strengthen Castro’s government; and resulted in Cuba’s adoption of communism, and their development of close ties with the Soviet Union.

This essay is a review of two weeks in 1962 that brought the world dangerously close to nuclear war. In the next essay, I will explore the “Visuals” of that period: What were anxious Americans reading and watching during that tense era? I will then review the gradual “wind-down” of Cold War hostilities, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in a following essay.

My goal with these essays is that the reader gets a solid foundation in the fundamentals of the subject matter, which may even pique their curiosity enough to seek additional information.

The Cuban Missile Crisis Thriller:

Fidel Castro was so certain that the United States would make another attempt at military intervention after the Bay of Pigs that he looked to the Soviet Union for military assistance, which they eagerly provided.

Consequently, during routine surveillance flights over the island in September 1962, U.S. Intelligence found evidence of a general Soviet arms build-up on Cuba, including Soviet IL–28 bombers.

So, on Sept. 4, 1962, President Kennedy issued a public, televised warning against the introduction of offensive weapons on Cuba. Our Intelligence services had also discovered that, in July, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had reached an agreement with Castro to place Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba to “deter” any future invasion attempt.

Despite the warning, photographs taken by a high-altitude U-2 spy plane over Cuba on Oct. 14 provided indisputable evidence that several missile sites were under construction and nearing completion. These sites could house Soviet medium-range missiles, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and striking many major cities in the United States, including Washington, DC.

The President convened an emergency meeting of his senior military, political, and diplomatic advisers to discuss these developments and determine America’s response. He ruled out a “surgical” military strike early in the deliberations, concerned that it could miss some of the missile sites and would prompt Soviet retaliation, probably against a vulnerable West Berlin.

In lieu of the military strike, Kennedy and his advisers decided on a Naval quarantine and a “very strong” demand by the President that the bases be dismantled and missiles removed.

In an extraordinarily grave televised speech on Oct. 22, the President revealed the discovery of these missile bases to the American people.

“This Government, has maintained close surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that ‘imprisoned’ island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.”

Then, and evocative of the Monroe Doctrine, he continued with, “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

He announced that he was ordering a Naval “quarantine” of Cuba to prevent Soviet ships from transporting any additional offensive weapons to the island, and again affirmed that the United States will not tolerate these missile sites on Cuba. Kennedy said America will not stop short of military action to end this “clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace.”

Although he had no experience in “reality TV”, Kennedy was highly skilled in the use of that medium to communicate with Americans.  He had already demonstrated his presence and poise in the televised debates with then opposing presidential candidate, Richard Nixon.

The quarantine began on Oct. 23 and, after a few tense days, Soviet ships appeared to reduce speed or change course as they approached the quarantine “line.”

UN Secretary general U-Thant in 1963. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

United Nations Secretary-General U Thant appealed privately to both Kennedy and Khrushchev at the request of more than 40 non-aligned nations and urged them to “refrain from any action that may aggravate the situation and bring with it the risk of war.”

In what turned into an amazing confrontation on Oct. 25, the usually soft-spoken and consummate diplomat, Adlai Stevenson addressed the United Nations Security Council on “Soviet Missiles in Cuba.”

In response, Soviet ambassador Zorin laced into the United States’ “lies” at great length, and refused to confirm or deny Stevenson’s allegations.

Stevenson responded, “I want to say to you, Mr. Zorin, that I do not have your talent for obfuscation, for distortion, for confusing language, and for doubletalk. And I must confess to you that I am glad that I do not!” Stevenson went on to denounce the Soviets for lying, and said he was prepared to wait for an answer on these missiles, “until hell freezes over, if that is your decision; and I am also prepared to present the evidence in this room.”

Zorin still refused to answer, and Stevenson’s aides placed large U-2 photographs of the Soviet missiles on easels around the room. The delegates in the room, and anyone watching the television coverage, were witness to the Soviets’ brazen provocation. The mild-mannered Stevenson had scored an enormous political and diplomatic victory for the United States. His dramatic and forceful exposure of Soviet duplicity ensured increased international pressure for them to back down.

During this crisis, our military forces went to DEFCON 2 & 3, the highest military alerts ever reached after WWII; and the military prepared for full-scale war with the Soviet Union.

On Oct. 26, the President learned that work on the missile bases was proceeding without interruption, and he considered authorizing bombing and an invasion of Cuba.

However, now under international pressure, the Soviets conveyed a proposal to the President to end the crisis: the missile bases would be removed in exchange for a pledge by the United States to not invade Cuba. They then increased their demands by calling for the dismantling of our missile bases in Turkey, which threatened the Soviet Union. Note that Kennedy and Kruschev communicated directly throughout the crisis.

While Kennedy and his team debated this turn of events, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba. To the dismay of his military advisers, Kennedy prohibited any military retaliation unless another surveillance plane was fired upon over Cuba.

To defuse the worsening crisis, Kennedy agreed to dismantle the missile bases, but at a later date; which he felt would prevent Turkey, a key NATO member, from protesting.

Finally, on Oct. 28, Khrushchev announced his government’s intent to dismantle and remove all offensive Soviet weapons from Cuba. and the United States stepped back from the brink of nuclear war.

Kennedy called off the quarantine in November, and by year’s end, removed our missiles from Turkey. The removal of what were obsolete Jupiter missiles had no detrimental effect on U.S. nuclear strategy.

The crisis was over, but the danger of nuclear war in the future had not abated.

Unfortunately, after shutting down their missile bases on Cuba, a humiliated Soviet Union began a massive nuclear buildup and eventually reached nuclear parity with the United States in the 1970s. They also built intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking any city in the United States.

I believe the following statement from President Kennedy illustrates his guiding principles in resolving this crisis: “Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation’s security to constitute maximum peril.”

Kennedy continued, “Nuclear weapons are so destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift, that any substantially increased possibility of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite threat to peace.”

Some Final Thoughts:

As I refreshed my memory of the Cold War era, I couldn’t help but consider Edmund Burke’s warning, which seems very relevant in light of the evidence of foreign interference in the 2016 election, and recent allegations of bounties in Afghanistan. Burke said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Kennedy’s interactions with his advisers had changed after the Bay of Pigs. He began to challenge their suggestions and insights to a much greater degree, and he demanded more options and better estimates of possible outcomes. Certainly, in this current COVID-19 crisis, we should better recognize what Adlai Stevenson characterized as “obfuscation, distortion, confusing language, and doubletalk” in our leaders.

Kennedy had been in office less than two years at the beginning of this crisis. However, he clearly demonstrated how great leaders must act in times of overwhelming crisis — accept responsibility, challenge your trusted advisers, communicate, and value your “intelligence gatherers”, but verify.

Kennedy’s strategic use of “quarantine” distinguished his action from a “blockade”, which assumes a state of war; and also enabled the United States to receive the support of the Organization of American States.

A succession of United States’ Administrations honored Kennedy’s pledge to not invade Cuba, but relations with them remained a “thorny” issue for our foreign policy until 2015, when formal “normalization” of relations occurred.

Unfortunately, the current Administration has not seen fit to honor prior agreements and alliances.

If you have any interest in the “art and science” of decision- making, I recommend The Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, by Graham T. Allison, who used the crisis as a case study for future analyses of governmental decision-making. The book became the founding study of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

God save the United States.

This is the opinion of Thomas D. Gotowka.

Tom Gotowka

About the author: Tom Gotowka’s entire adult career has been in healthcare. He’ will sit on the Navy side at the Army/Navy football game. He always sit on the crimson side at any Harvard/Yale contest. He enjoys reading historic speeches and considers himself a scholar of the period from FDR through JFK.

A child of AM Radio, he probably knows the lyrics of every rock and roll or folk song published since 1960. He hopes these experiences give readers a sense of what he believes “qualify” him to write this column.

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Reading Uncertainly: ‘Voyaging with Marionette’ by Ron Breault of Old Lyme


A quarter century ago, an elderly sailor glimpses an attractive middle-aged lady relaxing on the shore of the Connecticut River.  She’s a bit disheveled; her skirt is torn, revealing a bit of what’s underneath, but she’s lovely! He’s immediately smitten, and, like Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, the sailor decides he must have an affair.

The sailor is Ron Breault, an Old Lyme resident and a Niantic Bay racer, and the Lady is not Eliza Doolittle, but Marionette, a 24 ft. Dolphin-class sloop. This book is his enthralling, copiously detailed story of their 25-year love affair.

Today she is “a woman of a certain age” and Ron’s a septuagenarian, but the mutual attraction continues. This book recounts their love life of the past quarter century as they both ask, “What next?”

Ah, the details!

The author has collected the most intimate details of this long-standing affair. He recounts almost every moment of their life together, restoring the lady’s youth, beauty, and speed, building her separate palatial quarters at his home in Old Lyme (with, of course, the complete approval of his wife, Chris), dressing her with a new suit of speedy clothes, and, to top it off, creating a tiny offspring.

The latter’s name is ‘Teer!  I thought: charioteer? musketeer? marketeer? profiteer? Ah yes, puppeteer: the perfect name for the child of Marionette! 

Everything about this voluptuous woman is described: her finery aloft and, mirabile dictu, everything underneath and below. Nothing is left to the imagination …

This loving couple then engage in both cruising and racing, two doing the tango from the Connecticut River to Niantic Bay, Fisher’s Island Sound, Block Island, Narragansett Bay, Buzzard’s Bay, the Canal, the waters of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and, of course, the ultimate nirvana, Maine!

They detail their Penobscot Bay peregrinations from Tenants Harbor, Spruce Head, Rockland, North Haven, Vinalhaven, Isleboro, Eggemoggin Reach, Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Swans Island and on to Mount Desert, with both Southwest Harbor and Northeast Harbor. Plus numerous times in Camden, the heart of sailboat racing in Maine.

Are words insufficient for you?

Your sight is also addled with more than 700+ pictures and photos, and those who want more are directed to the author’s website: www.Dolphin24.org.

Ron and Marionette’s story illustrates superbly that famous conclusion drawn by Rat in Wind in the Willows: “Believe me, my young (and aged?) friend, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

So ease your sheets, cruise downwind a bit, pop a brew or two and enjoy this love story.

Editor’s Note: ‘Voyaging with Marionette’ by Ron Breault is published by Whaler Books, Buena Vista, VA. 2020. To order a copy of this highly recommended book, visit marinermedia.com/product/voyaging-with-marionette/.

Felix Kloman

About the Author: Felix Kloman is a sailor, rower, husband, father, grandfather, retired management consultant and, above all, a curious reader and writer. He’s explored how we as human beings and organizations respond to ever-present uncertainty in two books, ‘Mumpsimus Revisited’ (2005) and ‘The Fantods of Risk’ (2008). A 20-year resident of Lyme, Conn., he now writes book reviews, mostly of non-fiction, a subject which explores our minds, our behavior, our politics and our history. But he does throw in a novel here and there.
For more than 50 years, he’s put together the 17 syllables that comprise haiku, the traditional Japanese poetry, and now serves as the self-appointed “poet laureate” of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, where he may be seen on Friday mornings. His late wife, Ann, was also a writer, but of mystery novels, all of which begin in a village in midcoast Maine, strangely reminiscent of the town she and her husband visited every summer.

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A la Carte: Last Week, Pesto, This Week, Pasta … But ‘e Fagiole!’

Lee White

It was a nice week: a little rain, a lot of sunshine, my first trip to the beach and low humidity. One evening, friends and I had dinner at Filomena’s, outside under a big tent, and listened to the New London Big Band, minus about six members, play mellow jazz. The decibels of the speakers were just right, it threatened to rain but didn’t and the food, as usual, was yummy.

I cooked quite a bit at home, on the grill and even in the kitchen, since my condo is air-conditioned. I also spent some time at two different farm markets. At my CSA, I got carrots, blue green beans, some lettuces, flowers and some cheese.

At the Groton Farm Market in Washington Park, I bought some cranberry beans, basil and tomatoes. I asked whether the tomatoes at Whittles were local, and she said they were their own. “We don’t have many yet, but these are our own,” she explained. I was very surprised; this is the first time I can remember when local tomatoes arrived before sweet corn.

When I got home I tasted one of the tomatoes and there was no doubt it was local. As I made myself my first summer BLT, I thought what I might make with some of my harvest and I found pasta e fagiole (pasta and beans) that I had written about in 2005.

I looked up cranberry beans and saw that it took under half an hour until they softened. I found pepperoni links, some canned cannellini beans, ground beef and pepperoni in the freezer and a big can of fire-roasted Muir Glen diced tomatoes. I had frozen my own basil pesto and decided I would use that instead of parsley. 

On Sunday afternoon, I made the pasta and beans. It was really good, maybe even better than before, since so many of the ingredients were so fresh.

If you have air-conditioner, make it now. If not, save that recipe for fall or winter. 

Pasta e Fagiole

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
A handful of baby carrots, diced into small pieces
3 stalks celery, diced small
1 pound ground beef (optional)
½ pound pepperoni, thinly sliced (optional)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
About half of pound of cranberry beans, cooked
About half of pound of blue green beans, cut into 1 inch slices
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen but another will do)
1 small can tomato paste
2 tablespoons basil pesto (optional, but delicious)
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
½ pound pasta (ditalini, tubetini or small elbow macaroni), cooked
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or romano cheese

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, brown onion. garlic and carrots in olive oil until light golden. Stir in celery and continue cooking until celery is tender. If using ground beef, add and cook until no longer pink. If using pepperoni, add now. Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and water.   Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook about half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and parsley. Add pasta to soup and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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A la Carte: Pesto is Perfect for Pasta … and More

Lee White

I am amazed how friends have managed to get tasks done during this pandemic isolation.

The Fitzgerald’s garden looks like something out of a French painting with pots of herbs on the fence,  homemade cushions with seating for friends and two gorgeous cocker spaniels lazing on my legs, adding to the ambience.

The Robertson’s grass look like a golf course and their bird-feeders have hovering mammas feeding fledglings.

Even my condos are so full of perennials they are about to spill onto the sidewalks.

I seem to do less house-cleaning and more reading, cooking and watching television. The house is clean (the kitchen always pristine), but the clutter gets to me. I do put the bills where they need to be, so I can pay them, and I get rid of junk mail quickly and take it — plus the newspapers — to the dumpster, but the magazines I put in neat piles and sometimes forget to read them.

Such was the case with the May/June  issue of Yankee, which probably arrived in April. I love Yankee, especially its columnists. I have known Amy Traverso, its senior food editor, for a long time and her articles and recipes are really good.

In that issue, she writes about The Blue Oar in Haddam, Conn., on our part of the shoreline. And in another, she has a recipe for strawberry shortcake, with the shortcake made with pistachios. Obviously, local strawberries are gone but I will use the shortcake recipe with pistachios — it uses heavy cream instead of butter, making the recipe easier to make.

Another piece is about Krista Kern Desjarlais and her two restaurants in Maine. You may remember her from her restaurant in Westerly called Three Fish. Decades ago, she was serving pastries that were not only delicious but picture-perfect. I wrote about her then and have followed her ever since. I ate at her Portland, Maine, tiny restaurant, Bresca, a few times and loved everything about it. 

In the magazine, she included a recipe for Pistachio Pesto. I make basil pesto every summer, package about two big tablespoons in plastic snack sizes, freeze the packages separated by paper towels and the little ones into a bigger plastic bag. (The paper towels allow you to separate the snack packs one at a time. You can warm the packets in your hands and they are warm by the time your pasta has boiled and drained.)

To make pesto, use any herb for the sauce. And if you are out of pine nuts (pretty expensive and difficult to find), use walnuts. The flavor will be different but still tasty. Krista suggests pistachios. I never thought of that.

Use the recipe below and, this summer, choose almost any herb you have and any nuts available. In addition to cooking pasta with pesto, use it in marinara or most other red sauce or in stew this winter, especially if you make pesto out of parsley.

Krista also uses a tablespoon each of lemon zest and lemon juice and a little shallot. All this sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash.

Pesto alla Genovese

(from 365 Ways to Cook Pasta by Marie Simmons, Harper Collins, New York, 1988)

I triple or quadruple (or more) and freeze pesto in small zipper plastic bags. The pesto will last for more than a year and will thaw in minutes. 

Yield: 1 cup or enough for 1 pound of pasta

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/3  cup pignoli (pine nuts)
1 large garlic clove, chopped
¼  teaspoon salt
½  cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Finely chop basil, nuts, garlic and salt in a food processor. With processor still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until mixture is thoroughly blended. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese.

Freeze in tiny freezer bags. When ready to use, you can thaw the pesto in freezer bag between your hands.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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Legal News You Can Use: I Am Me — The Feminine Side of Lawyering

Having a female lawyer can provide a level of personal comfort for some clients. Similar to seeking a female doctor, prospective clients routinely consider gender when seeking a lawyer’s legal advice and advocacy.

I am female and I am a lawyer, and oftentimes, clients say to me “I called you because I need to speak to a female about what has happened to me: only a woman will understand.”

Whether you are dealing with a life-changing event such as a divorce, you are the victim of a crime, accident or botched medical procedure, or you are grappling with the nearly impossible feat of work/life balance and facing workplace disparities or overt discrimination or harassment, your unique issue may be one where consulting and a retaining a female attorney may be most appealing.

Perhaps it is because women are natural listeners and problem-solvers, or because female attorneys tend to approach clients and their cases with empathy and a comforting, compassionate tone. We are smart, intuitive, collaborative and persistent.  Our ability to connect, on a personal level, with so many of our clients is likely because of these attributes, which work to the client’s advantage when in need of zealous advocacy.

Warning: underestimate a female attorney at your own risk.  Clients who are comfortable with their attorney willingly share the most important, more intimate details about a situation they are dealing with, arming their attorney with better-problem solving capabilities, which often leads to overall positive end results.

To their client’s advantage, female attorneys carry these attributes to the negotiating table or the courtroom, where we are well-organized and prepared, and we connect well with witnesses, judges and jurors, often having the tone and demeanor that not only commands respect but is viewed as credible and worthy of the fact-finder’s trust.

I recently read a piece published in 2020 Texas Law Review, “Reflections of a Lady Lawyer” by Lisa Blatt, which is relatable.  In speaking as a female lawyer, Blatt wrote “[w]omen don’t look or talk like Perry Mason, and you don’t want us to.”  When dealing with the situations in life that typically bring clients to seek a lawyer, there is comfort in having a lawyer who “gets you.”

I do not look or talk like Perry Mason.  I am me.  I am a female.  I am a mother.  I love my work.  I empathize with you.  I grapple with the work/life balance (and the inherent mother’s guilt) of maintaining a successful legal practice while driving the soccer carpool and being an attentive dance mom.  I hear you.  I represent you.

This post is sponsored by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Editor’s Notes: i) Suisman Shapiro is located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. Their mailing address is 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591 New London, CT 06320.

Atty. Kristi Kelly

ii) Kristi Kelly concentrates her practice in labor, employment, and municipal law at Suisman Shapiro, the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut.  Living along the shoreline, raising her three children, Kelly is an attorney with whom the firm’s clients connect — they find her approach comforting in the most stressful times in their lives. Kelly regularly works with other female attorneys in the firm, Eileen DugganJeanette DostieCarolyn Kelly and Jillian Miller to meet client needs in many areas of law.  She is a VA accredited attorney and 2020 recipient of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award for her work to provide advocacy for veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness to overcome barriers to housing, healthcare and income.

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Gardening with ‘The English Lady’: Tips for July, a Month That Offers ‘A Blind Date With Summer’

A garden in July can be a riot of color.

“July is a blind date with summer,” says Hal Borland. Such a wonderful description of a beautiful month, so let’s take a walk in the garden!

WATERING

A sprinkler can be an effective watering method. Photo by Anthony Lee on Unsplash.

Watering is so important during the heat of summer. If you planted trees or shrubs this spring, particularly evergreens, these plants require extra moisture to establish a strong root system. We have had an abundant amount of rain this spring and into the summer, however it is important to keep an eye on the weather.

Here in New England, plants require at least an inch of water per week.  If you are using a regular hose, you lose 40 percent of moisture to evaporation. However, a hose is necessary for a deep first watering when a plant goes into the ground and for containers.

Soaker hoses in your borders are the best method of watering, attached to a house spigot with a timer. By using this method of irrigation, moisture goes to the roots of plants where it is needed and not on the foliage, which can cause disease such as black spot and powdery mildew. Soaker hoses attached to a timer can be used efficiently not only in the borders of the garden but also in the vegetable garden, where annual vegetables, in particular, require a lot of water to produce a good crop.

In addition, composted manure added to the containers and copious amounts to the vegetable garden, helps to retain a good amount of moisture. Manure used as mulch for the vegetable garden adds more nutrition and, as mulch, it does not cap or form a hard crust, as do other mulches, so that water goes directly to the roots.

Water the lawn only when the green glow begins to fade.  An established lawn will bounce back after dry hot spells.

SOIL AND SOIL HEALTH

I want to emphasize the importance of soil and soil health, which has been severely neglected and abused with poisonous chemicals for years. Soil is the most important element of plant growth; it is not an inert medium that merely holds the plants erect, it is a living organism that needs to be replenished with nutrients.

The nutrient is composted manure, manure builds soils structure and its bacteria partners with the millions of microbes below the surface to produce nutrients for the roots of the plants. If you have not already done so, I strongly suggest that you carefully discard all chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

The addition of composted manure to your soil in spring, early summer and early fall together with the addition of natural brown bark mulch, builds the carbon compound or humus component in the soil.  We are all carbon-based creatures, as is every living element, this is our lifeblood and the lifeblood of the soil in our gardens.

As we build the humus component by adding composted manure and fine bark mulch, we produce the healthiest possible growing environment and the strongest disease-resistant plants.  As we add the composted manure and natural fine bark mulch season after season, the humus component continues to build in the soil, continuously extracting carbon from the atmosphere into the soil.

ROSES

These beautiful plants flourish beautifully with the addition of composted manure and mulch applied on the soil about two feet away from the base of the plant; they need a deep watering at least once a week. Now, in July add another light layer of composted manure around the roses.

Manure is food for the roots of the roses and no other products are necessary for growth and bloom. Stop adding manure to the roses in mid-August, so that the roses can go into a slow dormancy through late summer and early fall, a natural part of their growth cycle.

An ‘Evelyn’ rose, the author’s favorite.

If you are a first-time rose-grower or adding to your rose collection, David Austin English roses are my personal preference.  The David Austin nursery is only 21 miles from my hometown in Shropshire in England and it was a fragrant pleasure to visit the nursery in June. David Austin roses are more trouble-free than many other roses and are repeat bloomers, with beautiful colors to enhance our senses with delicious fragrances.

Some of my favorite David Austin roses are:

A Shropshire Lad, a peachy pink
Abraham Darby, shades of apricot and yellow
Evelyn (my favorite) with giant apricot-colored flowers
Fair Bianca, a pure white rose
Heritage, a soft blush pink
Carding Mill begins as a peachy orange double flower, becoming an apricot-pink

A lovely combination to enjoy are climbing roses and clematis planted together as both enjoy the same planting environment with their heads in the sun and their feet (roots) cool, with manure and mulch. This combination looks great, climbing over a fence, wall or arbor.

Mulch  – do not use the artificially-colored red mulch, rubber mulch or cocoa mulch; use only natural brown bark mulch.  Do not mulch right up to the base of the plants, as this invites rodents to nest and gnaw on the stems or trunks of the plants.

Note: Do not use Cocoa mulch, produced by Hershey, this mulch has a Thorazine compound and other poisons, which are hazardous to pets who are attracted by the chocolate odor. Ingestion of this chocolate mulch can cause seizures and death within hours.

HYDRANGEAS

Blue hydrangeas. Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash.

Plant Hydrangeas in a sunny area if you live near the coast enjoying seas breezes and in part-sun away from the coast on the west or east aspect of the garden. Plant them in organically-rich soil with composted manure and add extra composted manure around the base now in July.

If you have the blue Hydrangea, add some peat or aged oak bark around the base — the acidity in the peat or oak bark encourages a deeper blue hue. Hydrangeas are a wetland plant and require plenty of water throughout the summer. We had a late spring and with all the spring and early summer rain and now good sunshine, the foliage and bloom of the hydrangeas is performing well. Watch out for powdery mildew and spray with the following recipe that you can mix yourself:

Two tablespoons baking soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil, a squirt of dish soap with a gallon of water in a sprayer.  For any recipe spray you make, spray only in the morning when there is no wind and when the temperature and humidity combined do not go above 180.

Prune Hydrangeas immediately after they finish blooming in late August or early September but no later, as Hydrangeas set their buds for the next season by mid-September. If you prune after that time, you will lose next season’s bloom.   When you prune, cut out some of the old wood and the weakest of the new shoots.  In October, put more composted manure and brown mulch around the base to nourish and protect the roots through the winter.

Did you know that garlic is the antibiotic of the garden? I just love garlic to use in my recipes and it is an important anti-fungal element to protect your plants. I suggest that in early fall you should plant plenty of garlic if you do not already have some in the garden.

To avoid fungal diseases, plant garlic around strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries.

Plant garlic around mildew-prone plants to prevent mildew — such plants are summer phlox and bee balm.

Plant garlic under fruit trees to avoid scab and root disease.

Plant garlic next to ponds or standing water to control mosquito larvae, or pour garlic water into the water to deter adult mosquitoes.

Where you notice marauders where either insects or animals have been munching, make a garlic spray to apply on the plants:

Garlic spray recipe

4 large crushed garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 squirt of mild dish detergent

Put all ingredients in two cups of hot water in the blender, blend, then leave overnight.

Then put in a gallon sprayer with cold water and spray in the early morning when there is no wind, observing the rule of 180 mentioned above.

Hot pepper spray recipe

To deter squirrels and chipmunks, try a hot pepper spray using either four hot chilies or one cup of cayenne pepper in two cups of hot water, mixed in the blender, leave overnight and then put in a gallon sprayer with cold water and spray the problem areas in the early morning.

This pepper spray works well on squirrels, chipmunks, and deer, as well as dogs and cats that may be leaving their deposits in the garden.

HAND CARE

Gardener’s hands are their tools of the trade so it’s important to take care of them. My hands remain healthy by indulging in a hot cream treatment once a week before bed.

Maureen’s hot hand cream recipe:

Combine Calendula cream with honey and essential oil of lavender heated in the microwave, apply generously and put on white cotton gloves for sleep.

When I wake up, my hands are unbelievably soft and smooth.

Wear gloves, when working in soil that contains manure or spreading manure. Manure is an organic product that contains bacteria,  bacteria is great for the soil but like many bacteria not healthy for you. The gloves I prefer are the soft leather farmer’s gloves that are washable.

FLAVORED OILS

Many herbs are at their peak right now and are ideal for using in flavored oils.  The oil I use as a base is organic olive oil. I harvest basil, parsley, sage, tarragon and oregano in a morning, rinse them well, pat them dry with a paper towel and then make the recipe

Chose an herb and add to two cups of oil.

For thyme and lavender, I use only the flowers with one cup of oil to a handful of blossoms.

Puree the herb mixture in a blender and store covered in a wide mouthed jar for three days, shake at least three times a day for the first two days and on the third day let the mixture settle to the bottom, then strain it through a paper coffee filter or cheese cloth into a clean jar.  You will now have a tinted but clear mixture.

Refrigerate each mixture and use within two to three weeks.  The herb oils I make are lavender, lemon, garlic, shallots and basil with olive oil as the base – these are my favorites and are great brushed on vegetables and meats for grilling.  The lavender oil is great with desserts. Rosemary and lemon oil taste excellent on salads.

MOLES

I know I have given you a few mole remedies in the past; but I have not given you the Exlax method for a while and I can attest to the fact that I have used this method as have many garden colleagues for years, as it works.  Buy Exlax whose main ingredient is Senna, a natural herb. Insert Exlax into the mole holes, and the moles and voles will be gone.

If you have dogs and cats, do not use the chocolate Exlax, use only the plain Exlax as chocolate is dangerous to pets.

In early April of next year, apply organic grub control, which means less grubs for the moles to feed on, and without their supply of grubs, the moles will go elsewhere for food. In addition, the white grubs of Japanese beetles can be diminished with the grub control.

Japanese beetles love our plants and there is a method to deal with them naturally. In the early morning, the Japanese beetles are drowsy and can be captured.  Lay a drop cloth under the plant or plants where you see them and gently shake the plant; the drowsy beetles will drop onto the cloth, which you gather up and drop them in a garbage bag and discard.

Many of us are committed to organic gardening without chemicals, which has enabled the earthworm population to once again increase; earthworms are a great boon to the garden soil as their castings add 50 percent nutrition to the soil together with 11 trace minerals.

SUMMER PHLOX

I just love my summer phlox and to keep the mildew problems at bay, I use the natural baking soda mix I mentioned above.  I have found that white Phlox Miss Lingard or white Phlox David are more resistant to mildew that other summer phlox.  Monarda commonly known, as Bee Balm, and Hydrangeas are also prone to be affected by powdery mildew, and this where the baking soda once again can be used.

For a second bloom on the Summer Phlox, prune off 10 to 20 inches from the flower stems just after the flowers have gone and within a few weeks, you will experience new growth.

KEEP YOUR GARDEN CLEAN

A healthy garden is a clean garden. Do not put any diseased items into your compost.

Deadhead all annuals and perennials for a second bloom and clean up all spent blossoms.

When Coreopsis and Spirea have bloomed, shear off dead flowers and they too will rebloom.

CONTAINERS

Make sure you have composted manure and fine bark mulch applied on top of the soil in your containers and keep them watered as containers dry out quicker than garden soil. In hot weather the containers will need to be watered daily, morning and evening watering is the best.

If you do not have time in a morning before you leave for work or errands, empty your ice cube trays on the containers; this provides slow release watering until you can get to them later.

Enjoy being in the garden, stay hydrated, continue to stretch and take time to ‘smell the Roses’ and I’ll see you in your garden in August!

Maureen Haseley-Jones

About the author: Maureen Haseley-Jones is a member of a family of renowned horticultural artisans, whose landscaping heritage dates back to the 17th century. She is one of the founders, together with her son Ian, of, ‘The English Lady Landscape and Home Company.’ Maureen and Ian are landscape designers and garden experts, who believe that everyone deserves to live in an eco-conscious environment and enjoy the pleasure that it brings. Maureen learned her design skills from both her mother and grandmother, and honed her horticultural and construction skills while working in the family nursery and landscape business in the U.K. Her formal horticultural training was undertaken at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Surrey.
Contact Maureen at maureenhaseleyjones@gmail.com

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A la Carte: Luscious Lamb Never Disappoints

This was a rather lovely week — I actually spent an hour on a beach chair on the patio, reading and watching the birds on my feeders. I thought I had seen a Baltimore oriole, so I went to Johnson’s Hardware and bought a curlicue feeder that I could thread oranges, since I knew orioles like oranges.

At the same time, I filled the hummingbird feeder. Mostly I saw a lot of catbirds (whom I adore) and downy woodpeckers and finches, but no orioles that day or any other day. And, for the sixth year, no hummingbirds. Oh, well, my cat loves watching the birds from the window. She doesn’t care what they are.

Also last week my friend Tom Cherry made a lamb ragout with spring vegetables and, mask on, drove to my condo with a big portion for dinner. It was beyond delicious and, he says, is a recipe, from a 1971 Gourmet magazine. He also says it is not hard to make but is tedious. He will send me the recipe. His wife, Lynne, said this is why she married him.

So last weekend, still thinking about that lamb ragout, I went to Shop Rite for lamb chops for the grill. They didn’t have any, but someone found me a rack of lamb. It was $21, but it was almost eight ribs, so I cut it in half, froze one and grilled the other.

While I marinated it, I boiled some tiny potatoes. When they were done, I poured out the water allowed the potatoes to dry a bit and added some butter and salt. With a small salad, it was a delicious dinner And easy. Here is the recipe.

Rack of Lamb on the Grill

Yield: 2 servings

1 rack of lamb (around a pound)
Marinade of olive oil, lemon zest, stone ground mustard, minced garlic, a few shards of rosemary, salt and freshly cracked black pepper)
Mint jelly, optional

Mix the marinade in a small bowl. Rub the lamb, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 8 hours or so.  Take it out of the fridge an hour before you are ready to grill it.

In a propane grill, turn the heat to high and place the rack fat side down, to sear the meat, about 5 minutes/* Do not leave the grill, because there may be flare-ups. Then turn the grill to about 425 degrees. meat side up, and cook for 13 to 15 minutes for medium rare (longer if you want medium to well-done).

With a temperature gauge, meat should be 120 degrees. (There is some carry-on cooking while you let it rest, so perhaps you should take it off a little earlier, if you want it rare.) Let it rest on a cutting board for up to 10 minutes. Then cut the rack into ribs and serve, with or without mint jelly.

* If using a charcoal grill, once the charcoal is almost gray, push some of it to one side and sear the rack on the hot side. Then move the lamb, meat side up, on the cooler side of the charcoal grill. 

Lee White

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and also for the Shore Publishing and Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day.

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