December 5, 2021

Dec. 1 COVID-19 Update: Six New Cases in Old Lyme Take Cumulative Total to 485, Lyme Steady at 135

LYME-OLD LYME — The Daily Data Report issued Wednesday, Dec. 1, at 4 p.m. by the Connecticut Department of Health (CT DPH) shows six new, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Old Lyme taking that town’s total of cumulative cases to 485.

No new cases were reported in Lyme, leaving that town’s cumulative total at 135.

We have been asked by a reader whether the cases we are reporting in Lyme and Old Lyme are in vaccinated or unvaccinated persons. We do not have that information, but we can say that Eliza Fawcett quoted Gov. Ned Lamont in an article published Nov. 30 in the Hartford Courant saying, “It’s really a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” The quote was taken from a speech Lamont gave during an appearance at the annual Connecticut Conference of Municipalities convention at Mohegan Sun on Tuesday,

Lyme-Old Lyme (LOL) Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser informed the school community Nov. 30 that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme-Old Lyme High (LOL) School had been reported. See below for a full listing of all LOL Schools-related cases.

As we reported on Friday, Nov. 26, Old Lyme has re-entered the Red Zone in the weekly COVID-19 Average Daily Case Rate Report issued by the state on Nov. 26. This was the first time Old Lyme had been in the Red (highest) Zone since Sept. 30, 2021. Lyme remained in the Gray (lowest) Zone, where it has been since Sept. 30, 2021. The CT DPH will issue an updated map of the zones this afternoon (Dec. 2.) — the map is updated weekly on Thursdays.

The number of towns statewide in the Red Zone has increased dramatically in the past two weeks with 67 towns in it last week and 110 this week. To give a further indication of the significance of the increase, the number of towns in the Red Zone on Oct. 7, 2021 was down to 37.

All the towns in the Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) are in the Red Zone, except Lyme.

Prior to Monday, Nov. 22, when two new cases were reported, Lyme had previously gone 35 days in succession without reporting a single new case.

The cumulative total of confirmed cases for Old Lyme has now increased by 36 since Wednesday, Nov. 10, when the total stood at 443.

On Aug. 26 — which was the day Lyme-Old Lyme Schools started the new academic year — Old Lyme’s cumulative case total stood at 372, meaning there have now been 107 new cases there since that date. Meanwhile, Lyme’s cumulative total on Aug. 26 was 114 indicating 25 new cases have also been confirmed there during the same period.

In an email sent Wednesday, Nov. 24, regarding the latest COVID-19 data, Ledge Light Health District (LLHD) Director of Health Steven Mansfield stated, “The number of new COVID cases within our jurisdiction continues to increase, which is consistent with an increase in COVID cases statewide, according to DPH data. Unfortunately, we expect this trend to continue as we move into the holiday season.”

He continued, “LLHD continues to focus our vaccination efforts on homebound populations and providing boosters to individuals who were vaccinated previously,” adding, “It is imperative that we remain diligent in our mitigation strategies. We strongly advise everyone to continue to wear masks indoors in public settings, regardless of vaccination status.”

The state does not issue reports over the weekend nor on public holidays. The next report from CT DPH will be issued Wednesday, Dec. 1, at around 4 p.m.

COVID-19 Cases in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

This is the latest information that we have with the most recent cases first — there may have been further updates, however, which we have not yet received.

On Monday, Nov. 30, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS) had been reported.

On Monday, Nov. 29, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Mile Creek School had been reported.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported.

On Monday, Nov. 22, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Mile Creek School had been reported.

On Thursday, Nov. 18, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported.

On Sunday, Nov. 14, Neviaser informed the school community that over the weekend a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported.

On Wednesday, Oct. 5, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported the previous evening.

On Thursday, Oct. 23, Neviaser informed the school community of two intrafamilial positive cases of COVID-19 impacting Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School (LOLMS.) He stated, “We were able to complete our contact tracing and the one individual who must quarantine has been notified.”

On Thursday, Sept. 23, Neviaser informed the school community of two intrafamilial positive cases of COVID-19 impacting LOLMS. He noted, “We were able to complete our contact tracing and the one individual who must quarantine has been notified.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Neviaser informed the school community of a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, Neviaser informed the school community that a previously reported positive case of COVID-19 is now impacting Mile Creek School and Center School.

On Monday, Sept. 13, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19,  which had been reported the previous day, was impacting LOLMS.

On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Neviaser informed the school community that a positive case of COVID-19 was impacting Mile Creek School.

On Tuesday, Aug. 31, Neviaser informed the school community that late on Monday, Aug. 30, a positive case of COVID-19 impacting LOLHS had been reported.

On Saturday, Aug. 28, Neviaser informed the school community that late on Friday, Aug. 27, a positive case of COVID-19 impacting Lyme School had been reported.

In all cases, contact tracing was completed and those individuals who needed to quarantine were notified. They will be able to return to school following their quarantine period. All other students and staff will continue to attend school as scheduled.

Fatalities Due to COVID-19 in Lyme, Old Lyme

There has been one COVID-related fatality of a Lyme resident: a 57-year-old male passed away Nov. 16, 2021. On Nov. 30, the state finally included this fatality in its data

Three COVID-related fatalities have been reported in Old Lyme. The first two fatalities from Old Lyme, which were reported in 2020, were a 61-year-old female and an 82-year-old male.

Details of the third, which was reported in 2021, have not been made available.

‘Con Brio’ Presents Two Christmas Concerts in Old Lyme, Dec. 10 & 12

File photo of the December 2019 Christmas concert featuring the Con Brio Choral Society and Con Brio Festival Orchestra under the direction of conductor Dr. Stephen Bruce. The concert was held at Christ the King R.C. Church in Old Lyme. Photo by Peter Coffey.

OLD LYME — The Con Brio Choral Society will celebrate its 25th season with Christmas concerts on Friday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m. at Christ the King Church in Old Lyme at 1 McCurdy Lane.

Both concerts are dedicated to the memory of Old Lyme resident Sheldon Arthur Baker, who passed away Aug. 6, 2021 and sang with Con Brio for many years. He served as its president from 2006 to 2008.

The concerts will feature Gloria’s by Bach, Rutter and Rossini and the Con Brio Festival Orchestra performing under the baton of Dr. Stephen Bruce

The audience will be invited to sing a number of Christmas carols, joining Con Brio’s singers and orchestra.

Con Brio’s singers, numbering more than 60 and selected by audition, come from Connecticut towns stretching from Deep River and East Haddam in the north to Essex and Old Saybrook in the south, west to Clinton, Guilford and Madison, and east to Old Lyme, Niantic and Groton. The group rehearses weekly in Old Saybrook at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

The full program for the concerts is as follows:

Fanfare For Freedom, (newly commissioned by Con Brio for the occasion of its 25th Season),  composed by William J.  Thomas, Director of Music Ministries, Christ the King Church
Gloria  (Cum Sancto movement from Petite Messe Solennelle), Rossini (1792 – 1868)
Joy to the World, Watts/Handel, arr. Wilberg
Gloria (from Mass in B minor), Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Mary’s Lullaby, Rutter
Gloria (Quoniam Tu Solus Sanctus movement III), Rutter
Kyrie, (from Mass in F), Gabrieli (c.1554/57- 1612)
Kyrie, (from Mass in E major), Rheinberger (1839 – 1901)
*Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, Rutter
*Hodie Christus Natus Est,  Willan (1880 – 1968)
The Three Kings, Housman/Willan (1880 -1968)
Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Wesley/Mendelssohn, arr. Willcocks (1919 -2015)
The Christmas Song, (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), Tormé/Wells arr. Hayes
Angels We Have Heard on High, Chadwick/French trad. arr. Wilberg

*These two pieces were performed at Con Brio’s inaugural concert on Dec. 2, 1997, at the First Congregational Church of Westbrook, CT.

Tickets for the Friday evening concert are $30 and for the Sunday afternoon performance, $35.

For more information about the concert and to buy concert tickets, visit www.conbrio.org or call 860-526-5399.

Musical Masterworks Presents Works by Dvorak, Shostakovich, Brahms in Dec. 11 & 12 Old Lyme Concerts

The Musical Masterworks Artistic Director Designate is acclaimed violinist Tessa Lark, who will perform with the current Artistic Director Edward Arron in the concerts being given Dec. 11 & 12.

OLD LYME — Musical Masterworks’ 31st season is a momentous one with the organization celebrating the final year of Edward Arron in his position as Artistic Director and simultaneously welcoming Tessa Lark as Artistic Director Designate.

The next Musical Masterworks concert weekend is Dec. 11 and 12 at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, when Arron and Lark will participate with pianist Orion Weiss, violinist Amy Schwartz Moretti and violist Nicholas Cords in a program of piano quintets.

The program will include:
Terzetto in C Major for Two Violins and Viola, Opus 74, by Antonin Dvořák
Piano Quintet in G minor, Opus 57, by Dmitri Shostakovich
Rag-Gidon-Time for String Trio (1995) by Giya Kancheli
Piano Quintet in F minor, Opus 34, by Johannes Brahms.

Musical Masterworks’ 31st season runs through May 2022.

To purchase mini-subscriptions ($100 each), individual tickets ($40 each), or student tickets ($5 each), visit Musical Masterworks at www.musicalmasterworks.org or email admin@musicalmasterworks.org

Lyme Ambulance Association Seeks P/T Admin Assistance, Flexible Hours

LYME — Lyme Ambulance Association, an all-volunteer EMS organization, is looking for someone to assist with administrative work, mostly by computer, and working from home.

The job can be as big or small as the appointee can handle — even just one hour a week would be helpful.  Word and/or Excel experience is preferable.

Contact Ariana.Eaton@LymeAmbulance.org for more information. www.lymeambulance.org

Florence Griswold Museum Presents ‘Revisiting America: The Prints of Currier & Ives’ Through Jan. 23 

Broadway New York, n.d. Lithograph. Joslyn Art Museum, Gift of Conagra Brands, 2016.20.78

OLD LYME — The Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut, presents Revisiting America: The Prints of Currier & Ives, on view through Jan. 23, 2022.

Currier & Ives was a prolific printmaking firm based in New York City in the 19th century. Founded by Nathaniel Currier in 1834 and expanded by partner James Merritt Ives in 1856, the firm produced millions of affordable copies of over 7,000 lithographs, gaining it the title, “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints.” 

Revisiting America comes from the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, boasting a collection of nearly 600 Currier & Ives prints donated by Conagra Brands. Currier & Ives perpetuated Victorian ideals in its depictions of family, history, politics, and urban and suburban life—concepts that persist today partly as a result of the wide distribution of their images. 

Revisiting America offers an opportunity for viewers to contemplate the complexities and contradictions of America’s past. For many people, what could be more iconic representations of America than the prints of Currier & Ives? For others, they are reminders of harmful stereotypes of the poor and indigenous and enslaved peoples. While a trip down America’s memory lane, the exhibition offers an opportunity to delve into the reality that the company’s romanticized scenes sometimes prioritized marketability over morality. 

For the presentation at the Florence Griswold Museum, Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing expands upon the exhibition’s original scholarship with a section discussing artist Frances Flora Bond Palmer, examples of how Currier & Ives images were re-discovered and used in the 20th century, an explanation of lithography, and additions pertaining to the Griswold family. 

Made to Sell 

Currier & Ives prints were first and foremost commodities, with subjects often determined by popularity and sales figures. 

The choices the company made about what not to include in their images are as significant as what is depicted. For instance, although cities were often characterized by deep poverty and inequality, and perceived as full of crime, the firm’s views of urban streets represent an idealized version of the city—populated by fashionable, well-to-do people, clean thoroughfares, and regal buildings.

These idealized images appealed to rural and urban customers alike by offering visions of city life unaffected by the social and economic issues of the day. Broadway New York depicts the intersection of Broadway and Ann Streets in Manhattan. Once a quiet residential district surrounding City Hall Park, where people stroll in the foreground, the area became a bustling commercial and entertainment hub around 1841. 

As author James Dawson Burn described, “There you may see the lean lanky Puritan from the east, with keen eye and demure aspect, rubbing shoulders with a coloured [sic] dandy, whose ebony fingers are hooped in gold.” The Currier & Ives print shows a bustling urban space with chic (but not diverse) passersby. 

Other popular sellers were depictions of leisure time activities. The age of industrialization allowed Americans more opportunity to fill their day with sports and other pastimes. Popular hobbies of the time included hunting, fishing, and horse racing, topics marketed to men for their offices, saloons, and clubs. 

Currier & Ives produced more than 750 prints related to horses and horse racing, such as Harry Bassett and Longfellow, in their Great Races at Long Branch, N.J. July, 2nd and Saratoga, N.Y. July, 16th 1872. The lithograph depicts two famous racehorses, Harry Bassett and Longfellow, whose two newsworthy races are memorialized in the text of the print. 

The Social Media of the Day? 

The sheer reach of Currier & Ives prints, sold in their New York City store, or by mail order, pushcart vendors, and far-flung agents, put their pictures in view of countless Americans, particularly women to whom they were marketed as affordable domestic decor.

The visually-based culture we live in today, with images circulating on the internet and social media, has its origins in the mass communications created in part by Currier & Ives. The prints promoted an optimistic ideal of home, family, and stability in their day, and continue to exemplify that view for Americans, who became acquainted with them in the 20th and 21st centuries, when we play out those same fantasies on our social media feeds. 

A Griswold Connection 

Nineteenth-century Americans took pride in the technological advancements being made across their nation. A rapid and wide-reaching revolution in transportation led the country from majestic clipper ships to powerful steam-driven boats and locomotives in a matter of decades.

At their height in the middle of the century, clipper ships—three-masted merchant ships designed for speed—ruled the seas and allowed for the faster-than-ever transportation of goods and people across the Atlantic and along the coasts. 

Pairing Charles Parsons’s oil painting Clipper Ship Challenge at Griswold’s Wharf, Pine Street, New York (ca. 1851), on loan from local collectors, with James E. Butterworth’s Currier & Ives lithograph Clipper Ship Flying Cloud, (1852), Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing makes a Connecticut connection to the pursuit of global trade. 

As captain of a fast sailing ship Florence Griswold’s father transported goods and people across the Atlantic until his retirement, while extended family members Nathaniel and George Griswold (owners of Challenge) imported tea from China. 

Frances Flora Bond Palmer (1812–1876) 

Most of Currier & Ives’s artists are unidentified, their works published under the name of the firm rather than their own signature. However, one of their most prolific contributors, responsible for at least 200 lithographs, was Frances (Fanny) Palmer. Born and educated as an artist in England, Palmer and her printer husband owned their own firm before immigrating to America in 1844.

Frances Palmer, Snipe Shooting, 1852, Lithograph. Joslyn Art Museum, Gift of Conagra Brands, 2016.20.338

For Snipe Shooting (1852), the artist sketched the image from nature and made the final drawing on the lithographic stone. The image was printed with two separate inkings of the stone in different colors. Palmer’s artistic skill, knowledge of lithographic techniques, and ability to compose what became some of their most iconic prints gave Currier & Ives its edge over the competition.  

Lithography Explained 

Derived from the Greek for “writing on stone,” lithography was invented in 1796 by the German Alois Senefelder. It differs from other forms of image reproduction in the way it allows artists to draw expressively and with varying thicknesses of line right on the printing surface. Unlike etched or engraved metal plates that wear down over time, lithography allowed for printing many more copies, leading to its quick embrace by the industry in America by the 1830s. 

By displaying lithography tools, including examples of stones used by artists today borrowed from neighboring Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, visitors better understand the process necessary to produce this type of print. 

The Legacy of Currier & Ives 

Why are Currier & Ives lithographs still so well-known today?

By the time Currier & Ives ceased operations in 1907 it had dispersed countless prints around the country. Hanging in homes, offices, bar rooms, clubs, and schools, these “engravings for the people” were often the only visual representations in Americans’ lives. After World War I, artists and collectors, striving to define an identity proudly distinct from Europe, delved into America’s past, where they re-discovered Currier & Ives. Suddenly appreciated again, newspapers in the 1920s published stories about the frenzied search for the prints in attics and shadowy corners, and noted their inclusion in art exhibitions.  

Currier & Ives prints began to be reproduced on Christmas cards, collectibles, stamps, everyday dishes, and glassware. Examples of these items are on display. Connecticut artist George Henry Durrie, whose snowy views of country homes appeared in nearly a dozen Currier & Ives lithographs, are the among the most commonly reproduced as evocations of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Visitors to the exhibition have enjoyed sharing their memories through social media and interaction with staff, such as this quote from the comment book, “My wonderful grandfather gave cards at Christmas with Currier & Ives pictures on the front. I am 67 years old and still have some of them. Nice memory!” In Connecticut, Travelers Insurance included Currier & Ives images on their annual calendar in beginning in 1936 and encouraged the prints to become lasting décor with instructions on how to cut out and put the calendar pages in 11 x 16 inch frames. The company still produces Currier & Ives calendars today.  

Collection  

Roy King, a private collector from New York, assembled the extensive Currier & Ives print collection over a period of three decades starting in the 1950s. He collected 672 lithographs, most of which were purchased individually.

In 1975, King sold his prints to New York holding company, Esmark. The collection was kept together and shown across the country at universities and museums. Esmark allowed the prints to be seen in over 100 galleries, museums, and universities as well as two dozen other countries, created a wider audience than ever before for these popular depictions of quintessential American life.

The prints were then purchased by Conagra Brands, which installed them in spaces that were open to the public in Omaha, Neb. I

n June 2016, Conagra Brands donated the collected to the Joslyn Art Museum, where it could remain a cherished presence in the Omaha community. 

Florence Griswold Museum  

The consistent recipient of a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, the Florence Griswold Museum has been called a “Giverny in Connecticut” by the Wall Street Journal, and a “must-see” by the Boston Globe.

In addition to the restored Florence Griswold House, the Museum features a gallery for changing art exhibitions, education and landscape centers, a restored artist’s studio, 12 acres along the Lieutenant River, and extensive gardens and nature trail. The Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street, Old Lyme, CT.

Visit FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org for more information, including a list of programs and activities related to the exhibition.  

Old Lyme Cub Scouts Put ‘Amazing Effort’ Into Supporting Local Thanksgiving Food Drive

All the Old Lyme Cub Scouts involved in the Food Drive gathered for a photo to celebrate their successful efforts. All photos by Jon Goss.

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Cub Scouts recently participated in the Thanksgiving Food Drive and Holiday Giving Program.  The Food Drive is a collaboration between Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau and the Old Lyme Police Union.

Sorting all the food donations was a big job.

The Cub Scouts left bags for collection on their neighbor’s doors and then returned a week later to collect nonperishable donated food items.

A careful count of all the pounds of donated food was kept.

The Cub Scouts collected over 1840 lbs. of food from the community and then spent an evening sorting all of the food items.

Asked by email how he felt about the efforts of the Cub Scouts, Pack Cubmaster Jonathan Goss replied, “I feel very proud of the Cub Scouts work. Each Scout was able to collect on average 100lbs of food which is about 12 grocery bags. They put in an amazing effort.”

Editor’s Note: We would like to add our sincere appreciation to all those involved in this year’s Food Drive. It was a Herculean effort by a large army of volunteers of all ages from a variety of groups. Kudos to you all!

Three Shows On View at Lyme Art Association; ‘Deck the Walls’, “Hands on the Land,’ ‘Polly Seip Solo Show’

‘Harvest Moon’ by Del-Bourree Bach in acrylics is one of the featured works in the ‘Deck the Halls’ show on view at Lyme Art Association.

OLD LYME — There are currently three shows on view at Lyme Art Association (LAA.)

The signature show is the LAA’s perennially popular holiday art exhibition and sale, Deck the Walls, which is on view through Jan. 2, 2022. More than 200 original works of art by member artists will be on display and priced to sell as holiday gifts. Deck the Walls features a wide variety of appealing subjects and tends toward smaller, less expensive works.

Concurrently with Deck the Walls, an exhibition reflecting on the impact of humans on the local landscape will be on view. This show titled Hands on the Land is a collaboration with the Connecticut River Museum and was previously on view there.

A third show, the Polly Seip Solo Show, is also on view. Polly Seip won the first prize in the 2019 Associate Artists Show, and received the opportunity to present a solo show. Her luminous nocturnes are especially noteworthy.

‘Slate-Colored Junco’ by Bivenne Staiger reflects the wintry theme of the ‘Deck the Halls’ show.

“For Deck the Walls, the Lyme Art Association features a wide variety of appealing subjects at affordable prices that are great for holiday shopping. We hope to help solve those gift giving dilemmas – a beautiful piece of artwork is always appreciated!” says Jocelyn Zallinger, Gallery Manager.

“During the holiday season, the Lyme Art Association is a great place to come for a gentle activity for children on school vacation or for visiting guests. Whether you have a few minutes or more than an hour, the gallery is a wonderful way to decompress, stimulate conversation, or simply enjoy yourself,” comments Laurie Pavlos, Executive Director.

‘Winter Light’ by Caleb Stone is another of the signature paintings in the ‘Deck The Walls’ show.

The LAA is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

The LAA is located at 90 Lyme St. in Old Lyme, at the corner of Halls Road. Call 860-434-7802 for more information, or visit www.lymeartassociation.org.

Bon Appetit! Miracle in Paris Made Thanksgiving Memorable

Linda Ahnert

In 1968, I was a student at the Sorbonne and on November 28th, I wrote home to my parents: “Thanksgiving without turkey!! It’s 10:00 p.m. here which means it’s 4:00 p.m. at home and you guys are probably stuffed from eating all that delicious food.”

I continued, “As my special gastronomic treat today, I bought a bottle of real American orange juice—all the way from Florida! I received your card this morning and showed it to all the kids so they wouldn’t forget what Pilgrims and turkeys look like.”  

A bit of explanation for those who don’t know what life was like way back in the 20th century. In those Digital Dark Ages, there were no personal computers, no cell phones, and no emails. When we left home to study abroad for a year, our means of communication with family and friends back in the U.S.A. were hand-written letters airmailed back and forth across the Atlantic.  

I would write home faithfully once a week to describe everything I was experiencing in “la belle et douce France.” For someone who loved the language and literature, living in France was like a homecoming in a certain sense—all the places I had read about and dreamt of, I was now seeing. 

I would cut through the Luxembourg Gardens to attend morning lectures (inhaling the aroma of bread baking as I passed boulangeries along the way.) Afternoon language classes were held in a building a few blocks from the Seine and I could look across and see Notre-Dame. 

And by November of 1968, I had been in France for six months and had seen not just Paris but had travelled all over the country— Normandy, the Loire Valley, Grenoble and the French Alps, all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.  I didn’t dance “sur le pont d’Avignon,” but I did walk on it. 

Mais oui, I was loving my year abroad. But that Thanksgiving morning in 1968, I woke up with a severe case of mal du pays.  I was feeling very sorry for myself thinking of Turkey Day back home in Connecticut. 

I missed being in the kitchen chopping onions and celery for the stuffing. Not to mention the tantalizing aroma of the turkey roasting for hours and my mom’s pecan pie. I grew misty-eyed thinking of my parents and dear family friends, who always spent Thanksgiving with us.  

Then a miracle happened on the Boulevard Raspail

I stopped at the kiosk on the corner to pick up the International Herald Tribune. A few minutes later, I was reading for the first time Art Buchwald’s classic column in which he facetiously explains our all-American holiday of Thanksgiving to the French. 

He does this with his usual humor and by mangling the French language. The article was first published in 1952 and thus began the tradition of reprinting it every year on “Le Jour de Merci Donnant,” as Buchwald dubbed it.  

Buchwald starts off by relating how the Pèlerins (Pilgrims) came to the New World where they could eat dinde (turkey) to their hearts’ delight and continues merrily on from there. He even treats the reader to a new spin on the Pilgrim love triangle of Priscilla Mullens, John Alden, and Miles Standish (who Buchwald explains is known as Kilomètres Deboutish in France.)  

Reading Buchwald’s column was exactly what I needed to snap me out of my homesickness funk on that Thanksgiving Day in 1968.  It is such a perfect spoof for Americans, who love France and the French language. And voilà, before you knew it, I was laughing out loud.  

Buchwald concluded his piece by noting that on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans sit down at tables overflowing with tasty dishes and “for the only time during the year eat better than the French do.”    

So Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appétit!

Editor’s Note: Linda Ahnert is a resident of Old Lyme and former Arts Editor at the now-shuttered ‘Main Street News.’ She is a long-time docent at the Florence Griswold Museum and has volunteered for numerous local art organizations.

A la Carte: A Delicious New Twist on Turkey Left-Overs

Lee White

If you are reading this on Wednesday with your morning coffee and you are lucky enough to have scored a Thanksgiving dinner at someone else’s house tomorrow, you are like me.

I was asked to make two pies (one apple, one pumpkin), green beans and corn bread. In any case, I will be making these things this evening and all I need to do is show up an hour ahead of the dinner and find an unused counter to stash the pies.

Or maybe you are reading this on Thursday, and everyone will arrive at your house in a few hours.

Hopefully you have asked friends and family to make the pies, a vegetable and rolls or corn bread. If that is the case, this will be your last 15 minutes before you put the turkey into the oven.

All you have to worry about is what to do with the leftover 22-pound turkey since a third of the 15 people you have invited decided they are still worried about COVID and decided to stay home.

On Friday, unless my friends insisted I take home turkey, dressing, gravy, sides and pie, I might bake a 13-pound turkey from my freezer and make it so I have leftovers.

I love turkey for turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey salad and casseroles layered of the meat, potatoes, veggies and gravy. Or pieces of turkey in a skillet with onions, garlic, red curry, some boxed chicken broth and coconut milk atop a cup of basmati rice. 

Almost 15 years ago, I made the recipe below. My family and I liked it a lot, but I never made it again.  Try this entrée instead of three days of turkey sandwiches.

Chicken or Turkey Quesadilla Suiza

This recipe offers a new twist on the traditional quesadilla shown here. Photo by Lottie Griffiths on Unsplash.

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray (November, 2007)

Yield: 2 servings

1 cup chopped roast chicken or turkey
¼  cup mild salsa verde (regular red salsa will do)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 8-inch whole wheat (or spinach or regular) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Monterey jack or queso fresca cheese
1 scallions, chopped
green olives with pimiento, chopped (a small handful)
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro

  1. Preheat the broiler. In a small bowl, combine chicken or turkey and salsa and heat in the microwave for a minute.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add a tortilla and cook for 30 minutes, then flip and cook for 30 seconds more; slide the tortilla onto a cutting board.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in the skillet, then add remaining tortilla and cook for 30 seconds. Flip the tortilla and sprinkle with half of the cheese. Top with the first tortilla.
  4. Slide onto a baking sheet and top with chicken mixture, remaining cheese, scallions, olives and cilantro.
  5. Place the quesadilla under broiler six inches from the heat and cook until the tortillas are crisp around the edges, about 2 minutes.
  6. Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into four pieces and serve.

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 the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn.
Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

Talking Turkey—How the Quintessential American Feast Evolved

What is better than people sharing a good meal?  Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash.

Editor’s Note: We are delighted to take the opportunity today to republish a topical article about the evolution of that most quintessential of American meals—the Thanksgiving feast—which our former colleague at the ‘Main Street News,’ Linda Ahnert of Old Lyme, wrote for us originally all the way back in 2007. She has kindly updated it this year with a new opening paragraph. Enjoy!

This is a special year for the celebration of our autumnal feast because it is the 400th anniversary of the very first Thanksgiving!

And since this article was first published, Plimoth Plantation has changed its name to Plimoth Patuxet Museums.  Its mission is to tell the story of the English colonists in Plymouth, Mass. and the native peoples who lived there.  So in 2020 the new name was adopted because it better reflects the multicultural history that is the essence of the museum’s mission.

After all, wasn’t this what we first learned about Thanksgiving in grade school? It was the story of the Pilgrims and Indians breaking bread together.  And what is better than people sharing a good meal?

Read on to find out what was really on the menu that first Thanksgiving in 1621 and to learn how this fall feast evolved into a national holiday.

Who Doesn’t Love Thanksgiving?

Giving thanks_bookA few years ago, a book entitled “Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving Recipes and History, from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie” was published.  The co-authors are Kathleen Curtin, food historian at the Plimoth Plantation, Mass., and Sandra L. Oliver, food historian and publisher of the newsletter “Food History News.”

The book is a fascinating look at how an autumnal feast evolved into a “quintessential American holiday.”

Most Americans, introduced to the story of the Pilgrims and Indians during childhood, assume there is a direct link between the traditional holiday menu and the first Thanksgiving.  But we learn from the book that many of those food items—such as mashed potatoes and apple pie—were simply impossible in Plymouth, Mass., in 1621.  Potatoes were not introduced to New England until much later and those first settlers did not yet have ovens to bake pies.

What we do know about the bill of fare at the first celebration in 1621 comes from a letter written by colonist Edward Winslow to a friend in England:  “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”

Later 90 Indians joined the party with “their great king Massasoit whom for three days we entertained and feasted.”  Then the Indians “went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation.”

So venison was a principal food on the menu.  It also seems safe to assume that mussels, clams, and lobsters (all in plentiful supply) were served as well.  According to other journals of the colonists, the “fowl” that Winslow described were probably ducks and geese.  But wild turkeys were also bountiful in 1621, and so it is very likely that they were on the Pilgrims’ table.  Thank goodness for that.

Throughout the New England colonies, it became common to proclaim a day of thanksgiving sometime in the autumn.  In period diaries, there are many descriptions of food preparation—such as butchering and pie baking—followed by the notation that “today was the general thanksgiving.”

By the 19th century, Americans were taking the idea of a “thanksgiving” to a whole new level.  The religious connotations were dropping away in favor of a holiday celebrating family and food.  Roast turkey had become the centerpiece of these fall celebrations.

Turkeys, of course, were native to North America.  (Benjamin Franklin, in a letter, had even proposed the turkey as the official U.S. bird!)

And turkey was considered to be a fashionable food back in the Mother Country.  Just think of the significance of turkey in Charles’ Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  When Scrooge wakes up in a joyful mood on Christmas morning, he calls to a boy in the street to deliver the prize turkey in the poulterer’s shop to the Cratchit family.  (Earlier in the story, the poor Cratchits were dining on goose.)

It is thanks to a New England woman that Thanksgiving became an American holiday.  Sarah Hale was a native of New Hampshire and the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s  Book,”  a popular women’s magazine.  She lobbied for years for a national observance of Thanksgiving.  She wrote editorials and sent letters to the president, all state governors, and members of Congress.

Finally, in 1863, she convinced Abraham Lincoln that a national Thanksgiving Day might help to unite the Civil War-stricken country.   The fourth Thursday in November was now officially on the American calendar.

“… that endless variety of vegetables …”

Connecticut’s own Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote this description of a New England Thanksgiving in one of her novels—“But who shall . . .describe the turkey, and chickens, and chicken pies, with all that endless variety of vegetables which the American soil and climate have contributed to the table . . . After the meat came the plum-puddings, and then the endless array of pies. . .”

The autumnal feast became a national holiday, but each region of the country put its own spin on the menu.   Not to mention that immigrants have also added diversity.  The result is a true “melting pot” of America.  The second half of “Giving Thanks” contains recipes that reflect what Americans eat for Thanksgiving in the 21st century.

In the South, for instance, the turkey might be stuffed with cornbread and there would be pecan and sweet potato pies on the table.  In New Mexico, chiles and Southwestern flavors may be added to the stuffing.

There’s the “time-honored traditional bread stuffing” recipe.  There’s also one for a Chinese American rice dressing and directions for a Cuban turkey stuffed with black beans and rice.  Desserts run the gamut from an (authentic) Indian pudding to an (exotic) coconut rice pudding.  Old-fashioned pumpkin pie is included as well as the newfangled pumpkin cheesecake.

But no matter what food items grace our Thanksgiving tables, it seems that we all end up stuffing ourselves silly.

Perhaps overeating started at that very first harvest celebration in 1621.  In Edward Winslow’s letter describing the feast with the Indians, he noted that food was not always this plentiful. But he wrote his friend in England “ … yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

A la Carte: More About Pie, Plus a Tart for Vegetarians

Lee White

Okay, my friend, Lisa, suggested what I make for Thanksgiving: two pies—one apple and one pumpkin. Easy-peasy. Also green beans and corn bread. 

I also want to let you know that I am not going away for the holiday, just a short drive down I-95. So, if you have questions, think of me as your own Butterball Hotline. You have my e-mail below the column, so if you have a question between now and turkey day, I’m around.

So, today’s column is the last word on pies … at least for 2021. 

When it comes to apple pie, the more different kinds of apples, the better. I used to buy my apples at a little orchard in eastern Connecticut. The white paper bag said baker’s choice, or something like that. I don’t know if is still around, but I do suggest a farm market that grows a variety of apples.

You want tart and sweet and hard and soft. If you don’t have a cheat sheet, ask the cashier at the farm market. I buy at least five pounds. You don’t need all five, but you can eat the rest.

Depending on the size, peel and core the apples. Cut them into 6 to 8 wedges. Place in a bowl and toss with lemon  juice. That will keep them from browning. Here is the recipe:

Apple Pie

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a sheet pan onto the oven rack. Place bottom pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate, leaving about half an inch over the edge of the pie plate.
  2. In that bowl of apples, add ½ to 2/3 cup brown or white sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, ½ tablespoons corn starch, 1/8 teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon (some people prefer vanilla instead of spices, so you can use a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract) and toss.
  3. Place the apples in the bottom crust and dot with maybe 3 tablespoons butter.
  4. Place the second crust over the apples. With your fingers, make an edge with the two crusts.
  5. Using a knife, cut a few slits over the top of the crust (for steam and to make it pretty). I cover the edge crust with pieces of foil to keep it from browning too fast. (Remove the foil about 10 or 15 minutes before pie is done.) After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
  6. Bake the pie until done, 45 minutes to an hour in all.

Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash.

Pumpkin Pie

For a pumpkin pie, it is even easier, because it is just a one-crust pie.

  1. Buy a 15-ounce can of 100% pure pumpkin (I use Libby’s). Do not buy a can of pumpkin pie mix.
  2. Follow the recipe on the can of pumpkin.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place a sheet pan onto the oven rack.
  4. Place the crust in the 9-inch pie pan; with your fingers make a pretty edge.
  5. Add the pumpkin mixture.
  6. Carefully place the pie on the sheet pan in the oven.
  7. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife blade inserted into the center comes up clean.
  8. Cool for at least 2 hours.

If you are making a chocolate cream pie (or something like that), you may be asked to blind bake a pie. One woman on the internet suggested freezing the unbaked crust (maybe for two hours or even longer), then adding foil up to the top and then pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown. 

Again, as I mentioned in last week’s column, you can use a frozen pie crust. I love Oronoque. It comes two to a package. There are always a few packages in my freezer. They come in their own pie pan so you don’t have to ask your friends please to return the good one. I cannot tell you how many I have bought, and they are not inexpensive.

Again, I am here through noon on Thanksgiving. On that day, when you get my column, there will be two recipes for leftover turkey and sides.

***

Over the last week or so, I thought about friends who are somewhat, or totally, vegetarian.

A new friend is vegan; had I known that, I would not have served pasta with marinara and pepperoni. My Times editor is a vegetarian, but eats seafood and dairy. My friend Nancy is vegetarian, but eats chicken,  seafood and dairy. My other editor in Madison eats healthy, and I think she is more vegetarian than carnivorish.

My first boss at Connecticut College was a vegetarian, but didn’t like tomatoes. 

I am a carnivore, but I love animals and think people who hunt for fun, including those who like fishing for catch-and-release have a character flaw. I will cook mussels and clams and oysters, but have never boiled a lobster.

I, obviously, am a hypocrite. 

If I ask people for dinner, and do not know what they will or will not eat, I will cook for them. I was allergic to lobster and crab, but am not anymore. I have a friend who has celiac disease, and when I find a nice recipe for her, I will make it for her.

I also have a few dessert recipes that are gluten-free. I pay little attention to people, who do not eat sweets, so Libby doesn’t eat my desserts.

Going through some of my old recipes, I found a vegetable tart recipe that doesn’t even require a crust and, like many of my recipes, is yellowed with age. This Thanksgiving I will be with friends who aren’t  picky. After that holiday, I will make this tart for my vegan friend. 

Harvest Vegetable Tart
Adapted from Thomas Keller in Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1996
Yield: serves 6

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons minced shallots, divided
3 teaspoons minced, garlic, divided
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon, dried, divided
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
8 tablespoons chicken (or vegetable) broth, divided
1 medium eggplant, quartered lengthwise
1 large beefsteak tomato, quartered
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 tablespoon chopped nicoise (black) olive (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, peppers, 2 tablespoons shallots and 2 teaspoons garlic; cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in half the thyme plus 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Brush bottom of a 12-inch deep-dish pizza pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Combine 2 tablespoons broth, remaining shallots, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in cup. Sprinkle over mixture in pan.

Cut eggplant, tomato, zucchini and yellow squash into 1/3  inch-thick slices. Beginning in the center of the pan, arrange vegetables in overlapping circles, equally distributing them over pan.

Sprinkle tart with onion-pepper mixture. Combining remaining broth and broth and oil in a cup and drizzle over top; sprinkle with olives, if using.

Cover tart and bake 45 minutes;  uncover and bake 35 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender; cool. 15 minutes. Drain any liquid into glass measure. Invert into a platter, drizzled with reserved liquid. Cut into six wedges. [This this would be delicious at room temperature, too.]

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 the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.

Letter to the Editor: Who is Old Lyme’s Ethics Ombudsman?

To the Editor:

Who is Old Lyme’s Ethics Ombudsman?

The answer depends on which town official you ask.

When asking  the Ethics Commission Chairman, she indicated that she wasn’t sure that the position exists.

When asking the Town Clerk’s office, they indicated that the current Democratic Registrar of Voters is the Ethics Ombudsman … but that can’t be. Old Lyme’s Code of Ethics states that the Ethics Ombudsman cannot hold any other elected or appointed office in the town. This would clearly be a violation of the Ethics Code.

A review of meeting minutes of the Ethics Commission indicated there is no record of vote to appoint an Ombudsman. The Ethics Commission has the responsibility of appointing the Ombudsman; failure not to appoint the Ombudsman would be a violation of the Ethics Code.

The losers here are town officials and town employees, who are not afforded the option of seeking advice about ethical and conflict of interest issues that arise in their duties.

Sincerely,

William Folland,
Old Lyme.

A Veterans Day to Remember in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools

Herb Arico gave the keynote address at the Veterans Day Assembly at Lyme-Old Lyme High School. At 99 and a half years of age, he captivated the audience with tales of his experiences in World War II. All photos by Lyme-Old Lyme Schools.

OLD LYME — In the words of Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser, “What an amazing day!” He continued in his email to LymeLine, “I have always said that Veterans Day is one the best days of the year in our schools … and this year was no exception.”

The flags were out at each school in the district …

… and each veteran was given a rousing welcome.

Ceremonies were held at every school including an ‘Introduction of Veterans’ followed by a Town Meeting Assembly at Lyme Consolidated School  …

… and various classroom visits and activities honoring veterans throughout the day at Mile Creek School .

At Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School a Breakfast honoring veterans was held followed by an Assembly …

and at Lyme-Old Lyme High School similarly there was a reception for the veterans followed by an assembly.

Neviaser noted, “For the first time in a long time, we had not one, but two World War II veterans.  One was 98-years-old and the other was 99 going on 100.” The latter, Herb Arico, delivered a keynote speech about his time during the war at the high school assembly and completely captivated the audience as he shared his experiences.

Neviaser commented with a smile, “The students were so impressed they all wanted photos with him [Mr. Arico] after his speech.”

Neviaser admitted that COVID had been a concern saying, “I was worried that COVID might scare away some of our older veterans, but that clearly was not the case as we averaged about 50 veterans at each school.”

Editor’s Note: Here at LymeLine, we echo the respect paid to our veterans by Lyme-Old Lyme Schools on Nov. 11, and thank the veterans sincerely for their service.

Nosal Wins Seat on Zoning by Six Votes in Monday Night’s Recount

Old Lyme Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal (File photo)

OLD LYME — UPDATED NOV. 11 at 1pm with a comment from Selectwoman Nosal. The final result in Monday evening’s lengthy recount of the votes cast last Tuesday for a five-year term starting 2022 on the Old Lyme Zoning Commission was as follows:

Mary Jo Nosal (D): 1,600
Sloan Danenhower (R): 1,594

This result confirmed Nosal, who currently serves as Old Lyme Selectwoman but did not seek re-election, as the winner of the race.

Asked her reaction to the recount result, Nosal told LymeLine in a text, “The recount validated the Nov 2nd election results. Clearly Mr. Dannenhower and I were supported by many voters in Old Lyme. It was a good race.”

She added, “I look forward to being seated on the Commission next year to fairly apply our regulations on the local concerns that come before the Commission.”

The unofficial result announced the night of the election was:

Mary Jo Nosal (D): 1,600
Sloan Danenhower (R): 1,593

Letter From Paris: Antony Blinken Has Major Advantage Being Bilingual at Helm of US Foreign Policy  

Nicole Prévost Logan

Never before has a US Secretary of State been as utterly bilingual as Antony Blinken. 

Granted, two of the Founding Fathers of America also had special relationships with France. But Benjamin Franklin was 70 when he was appointed ambassador to Paris in 1776. For nine years, he resided in Passy and became a real Parisian.

Thomas Jefferson was 41 when he planted his roots in Paris for five years in 1784. Antony Blinken’s case was quite different since he arrived in Paris at the age of nine and remained there during his formative years before entering Harvard University.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Official State Department photo. Public Domain.

As a rule, most US Secretaries of State have enough knowledge of the French language to be able to read it or give a speech while remaining close to their prepared notes.

None of them have sounded as much at ease with the language of Molière as Blinken does. It is an enormous asset to be able to use that tool of diplomacy par excellence.

“Wow!” That was the reaction of my French-speaking daughter when she heard, for the first time, Blinken speak French. She was impressed by his impeccable, fluent use of that language with only a barely detectable trace of a foreign accent.

The quality of his spoken French and almost academic style could put many French people to shame

Being bilingual is not limited to linguistics — it also means to be bi-cultural, to have a mind shaped by the historical heritage of the other’s country, to have a thorough understanding of how the people of that country react, reason, and feel about the world.

Understanding and making jokes in the second country is the ultimate test.

In 1971, Blinken moved to the elegant Avenue Hoche in the 8th arrondissement with his mother and stepfather, an international lawyer and attended the Ecole Active Bilingue Jeanine Manuel (EABJM) located at that time near the Parc Monceau in the 17th arrondissement.

Who else knew the American student Blinken better than Jacqueline Roubinet, who was associated for 31 years with EABJM and became its headmistress? I was able to reach her through my children’s acquaintances. She was kind enough to answer my many questions in a long letter.   

She is quite passionate about the school, admired both its founder’s intelligence and her vision that the key to better international understanding was bilingualism. Jeanine Manuel was a member of the Resistance who joined the Free French living in London in 1940. When she opened the school in 1954, it had nine students. Today the school under its new name — Ecole Jeanine Manuel (EJM) — has 3,000 students from 80 countries.

Roubinet draws a sympathique (as we say in French) portrait of young Blinken, as a student, describing him as, “facetious, quickly integrated in his new environment, with many friends, gifted and modest at the same time.”

During his senior year – or terminale – he followed the curriculum in economics of the “serie B.” In 1980, he passed the French Baccalaureate. By then, the school had moved its campus to the Rue du Theatre in the 15th arrondissement. 

Blinken was quite popular in the school, Madame Roubinet recalled, and enjoyed extra curricular activities.

With a few friends, including lawyer Robert Malley, who is today part of Joe Biden’s foreign affairs team, he created the first Yearbook for the school. They gave an American format to this purely Anglo-Saxon tradition and jazzed it up with humor à la française. 

As a co-editor, he was responsible for the photographs, the interviews, and even the financing of the publication. While speaking at a conference held in EJM’s packed amphitheater on Nov. 5, 2015, he remarked, “Jeanine Manuel taught us to think like the other person, see things through the other’s eyes, and to respect differences.”  

He liked films, sports, but music most of all. One of the anecdotes told in the weekly l’Express  about Blinken as an adolescent  was that he was a fan of Pink Floyd and enjoyed singing ” We don’t need no education / Hey teachers, leave the kids alone.”

Today most of the children of the 10,000 odd American citizens  – diplomats, members of international organizations or of the business world – who live in Paris, attend one of the many bilingual or multilingual schools implanted in the French capital.  They follow in the footsteps of EJM – the pioneer .

On Oct. 4-6 of this year, the US Secretary of State was on an official visit to France to chair the ministerial meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  At the end of the month he was in Rome, accompanying US President Joe Biden to the G20 meeting in Rome prior to the opening of the COP26 in Glasgow.

Constantly in the public eye, Blinken’s face has become familiar to the general public of France .

The appointment at the head of US State Department of such a francophile and francophone personality to lead American foreign policy is particularly important today and will be even more after January 1, 2022, when France takes over the rotating presidency of Europe by heading the Council of Europe for six months.

It will be a crucial time for France, especially after the departure of Angela Merkel following the Sept. 26 elections. French President Emmanuel Macron is the champion of a strong Europe on the world scene and wants to reinforce the cohesion between himself and France’s own Secretary of States to help the US and Europe to work together on multiple geopolitical, economic and environmental issues around the globe.  

On Feb. 6, 2021, Blinken made his first official appearance as the new Secretary of State at the State Department.  President Joe Biden took this opportunity to praise the Foreign Service Officers (FSOs) and their families for  being “the face of America abroad, to be trusted and empowered. ”

On a personal note, those words filled me with emotion since they echoed my own  life. I could say that, as a bilingual person myself and having spent my whole life in the world of diplomacy, I could doubly relate to Blinken.

Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the US  from 2014 to 2019, applauded Blinken’s nomination as Secretary of State,  saying that American diplomacy was now headed by a friend of France.

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.

Griswold Withdraws Application for Halls Road Village District at 11th Hour; HRIC Chair Twining Responds, Says “Withdrawal … Was Last Minute Action Taken Without Notice or Consultation”

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold (File photo)

OLD LYME — UPDATED 11/10 at 1:20am with HRIC Chair’s Response to withdrawal submission: Around lunchtime on Monday, Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold formally withdrew the Town of Old Lymes petition for the amendment of the Old Lyme Zoning Regulations to create the Halls Road Village District by submitting a letter to Paul Orzel, the chairman of the Old Lyme Zoning Commission.

The petition had been submitted to the Zoning Commission in September 2021 and the Public Hearing on the proposal was due to be continued at the Zoning Commission Monday evening.

In his letter, Griswold states, “It has come to my attention after the submission that the proper sequence of process was not followed …” noting that he will send the proposal back to the Halls Road Improvement Committee (HRIC) for further review and “possible resubmission.”

Griswold continues, “When the Chairwoman of the HRIC [Edie Twining] asked me to sign the petition so the Town could be the formal applicant to the Zoning Commission, I had the distinct impression that the application had been reviewed and voted favorably upon by the full HRIC, and that it had been favorably reviewed by the Planning Commission.”

He adds, “Further, I understand there have been some subsequent important changes to the application that have required or will require amendments.”

In conclusion, he states, “I believe the withdrawal of the application at this time will allow a more thorough review to take place before the application is resubmitted.”

We asked HRIC Chairwoman Twining to comment on Griswold’s action — our understanding is that it was not discussed with the committee in advance.

Here is her response, which was received Tuesday afternoon, to the actions of First Selectman Griswold:

The withdrawal of the Halls Road Village District application on November 8th, the day of the scheduled public hearing, was a last minute action taken without notice or consultation.

It was very unprofessional to spring this on the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC). We had already notified residents by email to attend the public hearing as well as property owners by certified mail.

When I spoke with the First Selectman about the project on November 3rd, he made no mention of taking any such action and instead said he would look into getting funding for additional services related to zoning. 

The zoning subcommittee has worked carefully with BSC Group to create a document for rezoning the C-30 (Commercial District) to a Halls Road Village District. We have assured residents and property owners that the initial proposal will definitely undergo revisions as we hear from the public.

Last night’s meeting [Monday, Nov. 8] was to review the first revisions at the public hearing conducted by the Zoning Commission. The goal was to hear any further questions, and further revise as needed. It is our understanding, after asking ZEO Dan Bouret about the process, that this is the appropriate forum to collect and revise the proposed document. 

By withdrawing the application it stops the public process and suggests this effort will either be dropped altogether or revised in private.

The zoning changes support the Halls Road Master Plan, which has been widely publicized, and was formally accepted by the HRIC as the template to use in going forward. That plan calls for public improvements and the zoning changes necessary to remake the mix of uses along Halls Road. 

Our committee approved the Halls Road Master Plan in July 2021. We agreed that our next steps would require subcommittees to work on the details to follow up on the recommendations to the plan. These subgroups are for Grants, Zoning, and Signage.

When the zoning proposal was ready to submit, it was distributed among the whole committee at Mr. [David] Kelsey’s recommendation. The email asked for comments and contained a schedule of all the next actions through final submission to the Zoning Commission, with no mention of any vote.

Surprisingly only the zoning subcommittee members supplied any comment. Mr. Kelsey had no comment, even though he requested to read it. He apologized for not doing so, finally, at this past October’s meeting.

We are now hearing [from Mr. Griswold’s letter withdrawing the petition from Zoning] that not conducting a vote that was never planned or called for, was somehow “not following proper procedure.” There was no procedure requiring a vote of the whole committee. There was adequate time to ask for one, or even make comments, but no one did. 

The committee has followed the advice of the Zoning Commission in navigating the process of changing zoning. To date, rezoning applications are not required to be posted on-line but the committee posted their application on the HRIC & Zoning town site once they were told it was allowed.

It is also not legally required to directly notify property owners of rezoning applications but the committee decided to send certified notifications because it is such an important district change.

We are listening to all comments, making revisions, and were intending to ask for a continuance beyond the December 13th deadline to make more time for public involvement. 

This is an important initiative to protect Halls Road from becoming a service plaza for the highway. By introducing residential with commercial, property becomes more valuable, we answer the need for small-scale residential uses, and we aid in evolving the car-centric strip centers into the walkable, bike-able town center many residents have asked for.

The rezoning proposal is for Old Lyme. It is not for individual gain or recognition. It is not for investors. It is not a party issue. It is a way to protect and promote the hometown feel of Old Lyme. 

 

 

Old Lyme Registrar Explains Why No Recount for Region 18 BOE Race Between Lowry, Staab; Result Announced After Polls Closed Was Incorrect

OLD LYME — Old Lyme Republican Registrar Cathy Carter confirmed to LymeLine by email Monday morning that there would only be one recount Monday evening for the Old Lyme Zoning Commission position with a five-year term beginning 2022.

She explained in the email that the results for the fourth position on the Region 18 Board of Education (BOE) were “… read incorrectly on Election night.”

The results announced election night were:

Alexander Lowry (D): 1568
Christopher Staab (R): 1,578

giving Staab a margin of 10 votes, which generates an automatic recount in Connecticut since a margin of 20 votes or less triggers an automatic recount.

Carter noted, “however a tape from the tabulator was posted for public viewing with the correct numbers.”

Responding to our request as to where and when the tape was posted, Carter informed LymeLine by email Monday afternoon that, “The Tabulator tapes were posted on the wall of the middle school to the left of the entrance.”

We have requested a photo of the tapes after they were posted but have not received one yet.

Carter added that the final vote counts for BOE candidates Staab (R) and Lowry (D) were respectively 1578 and 1555, thus giving Staab a margin of victory of 23 votes.

This 23-margin difference places the result just outside the number needed to generate an automatic recount.

A View From My Porch: A Primer on the American Rescue Plan, What’s Happening to the Money in Old Lyme

Over the past several months, the regional media have covered American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding decisions made in several Southeast Connecticut communities. On July 26, the New London Day carried the headline, “American Rescue Plan Funding Floods Southeastern Connecticut.”

Even before that, on June 15, Old Lyme’s First Selectman Timothy Griswold reported, “The American Rescue Plan will pay the Town about $743,000, with an additional $1,419,000 share of the payment to New London County, totaling about $2,162,000.” 

I will discuss the fundamentals of ARP in this “View”; and then review the approach being taken by Old Lyme to decide how best to distribute those funds.

My objective in this essay is that readers gain some understanding of this important legislation. Note that this is not an exhaustive analysis of ARP, just what I consider the important highlights.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. The goal of the ARPA is to “accelerate the nation’s recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It is actually the sixth federal COVID relief bill passed in the last year and a half; and may be the largest, in terms of funds designated for Connecticut. 

The Plan includes $65.1 billion in direct, flexible aid to every county in the United States; and then, via the counties, additional funds to some cities, towns, and villages.

Connecticut towns and cities will receive $2.55 billion, with $1.56 billion earmarked for “general government” (i.e., vital public services), and $995 million for boards of education.

Approved Uses: The Department of the Treasury has issued guidance regarding appropriate use of these funds; and will provide continuing oversight as funds are disbursed.

Eligible uses fall into five categories:-

  1. Supporting the public health response, including mitigation and medical expenses
  2. Addressing negative economic impacts, which may include assistance to households, small businesses, and non-profits; or aid to impacted industries, like tourism, travel, the arts, and hospitality
  3. Investing in water, sewers, and broadband infrastructure 
  4. Premium pay to essential workers
  5. Replacing lost public sector revenue.

Old Lyme ARP Activities:

Old Lymes’s Board of Selectmen (BOS) has appointed a committee* charged with developing and recommending (to the BOS) an approach for the distribution of ARP funds to Old Lyme residents and businesses who have been impacted by the COVID pandemic. This committee is comprised of individuals with broad expertise in public health, business, municipal infrastructure, social services, emergency services, arts, and tourism. 

The first real “hands-on” introduction to this group by residents will be over the course of the next several weeks, when the committee conducts a survey of the impact of COVID on our community. Those survey results are very important, because they will provide a framework for an estimate of Old Lyme’s collective need, and help set priorities that will be included in the recommendation to the BOS. A funding process may then be developed and publicized.

CARES Act:

Many Old Lyme residents and business owners may have already benefited from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law on March 27, 2020 by then President Donald Trump, also for emergency relief of the economic impacts of COVID. 

CARES’ $2 trillion included one-time cash payments to eligible individuals, expanded unemployment benefits, direct payments to eligible families, and the Paycheck Protection Program, which provided grants and, “forgivable” loans to small businesses (i.e., “forgivable” when used for eligible payroll costs).

Some Final Thoughts:

Old Lyme’s ARP funds are, at present, kept in an “interest-bearing account” in a local bank. Note that those funds, including interest, must be obligated or awarded by Dec. 31, 2024.

Among regional towns and cities, Norwich received the most overall funding, nearly $30 million, followed by New London with more than $26 million. 

East Lyme, Montville, Stonington and Waterford each received more than $5 million. Lyme received $685,421.56.

A complex methodology was used to determine funding levels; I won’t try to do justice to it within the confines of this essay.

That said, the federal government used a modified version of HUD’s old Community Development Block Grant formula, with total grant size for “non-metro cities” capped at 75 percent of the municipality’s most recent budget” (i.e., as of Jan. 27, 2020). The revised formula also considered total population and the rate of local unemployment.

In closing, the Committee anticipates publicizing the survey mentioned above through the local media and other channels directly reaching residents.

*Editor’s Note: Old Lyme ARP Committee members elected the author as chairman at their first meeting.

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.

Old Lyme Achieves Top Certification by Sustainable CT, First Municipality in New London County to Achieve Silver Certification

OLD LYME — An Open Space Plan with its eye on sustainability, a town-wide Pollinator Pathway that encourages residents to plant native species, and a strong commitment to arts and culture are just some of the initiatives that led to Old Lyme recently receiving the highest level of certification by Sustainable Connecticut. 

Old Lyme met high standards in a broad range of sustainability accomplishments to qualify for the prestigious Silver level certification. The highest level of certification currently offered is silver. The Town achieved a Bronze certification in the Fall of 2020.

Old Lyme is among 23 Connecticut municipalities to be recognized this fall for achieving Sustainable CT certification.  Sustainable CT, a statewide initiative that inspires and supports communities in becoming more efficient, resilient, and inclusive, announced its 2021 fall certified communities this week.  

Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold, said, “We are very proud of our town volunteers and staff and their ongoing efforts to make Old Lyme a more sustainable, resilient community. I want to thank the Sustainable Old Lyme Team for their hard work in gathering the stories of our Town commissions and boards to share with Sustainable CT for this recognition. There has been quite a lot of hard work by dedicated volunteers, and I wish to thank each of them.”

In its application for Sustainable CT certification, Old Lyme demonstrated significant achievements in 12 sustainable impact areas ranging from inclusive community building, thriving local economies, and clean and efficient energy use, to vibrant arts and culture, clean transportation and planning for diverse housing.

Twelve initiatives in Old Lyme’s certification application have been designated as “Success Stories,” which are deemed strong examples of a particular action and are shared with municipalities pursuing certification.  Twelve Success Stories in the Town of Old Lyme’s submission include:

  1. Meeting the Equitable and Inclusive Process requirements for the Economic Development Commission’s 2019 SWOT analysis process, 2020 Walk Audit, and the 2021 Lymes’ Creative Arts summer youth programming;
  2. The Town’s Open Space Plan which includes prioritizing acquisitions, enhancing the local ecosystem, connecting open space parcels, offering recreation benefits, and ensuring the long-term viability of the Town’s open space.”
  3. Pollinate Old Lyme!: A collaborative pollinator ecosystem educational program and the creation of a pollinator pathway in Old Lyme which includes public-access properties;
  4. A commitment to the inventory and accurate promotion of the town’s tourism and cultural assets;
  5. Its overall commitment to arts and culture in the town, including promoting arts programming by the OL-PGN Library and the creation of an arts district partnership;
  6. The Planning Commission’s 2020 Plan of Conservation & Development, which addresses six key sustainability goals related to compatible physical development and stewardship, municipal programs and operations, community character and livability, economic vitality and resilience, infrastructure resiliency, and land use patterns;
  7. The Old Lyme Historic and Architectural Resource Inventory with over 200 properties considered historically significant; the Inventory can be used as a planning tool for community leaders;
  8. The Town’s “Complete Streets” improvements to the Sound View Village and its Gateway with new sidewalks and improved safety;
  9. The Town’s communications strategy for disseminating information including meeting the challenges of communicating with residents during the pandemic;
  10. The Sustainable Old Lyme Team’s mentorship of the Town of Lyme’s new Sustainable CT effort;
  11.  Assessing and sharing with the public the Town’s three-year-residential solid waste tonnage, with an incentive to reduce trash by 10 percent;
  12. Two innovative strategies and initiatives specific to the community: Lyme-Old Lyme Public School’s carbon-free initiative, and the Witness Stone project in Old Lyme.

“It was an honor for our team to submit this application on behalf of the Town,” said Cheryl Poirier, chairperson of the Sustainable Old Lyme Team. “While we worked closely with various boards, commissions, and Town departments to document their sustainable efforts, we also sought out opportunities to reach new goals set by the suggested actions of Sustainable CT.”

She continued, “Two in particular were the Town’s Pollinate Old Lyme effort, and Lymes’ Creative Arts.” Lymes’ Creative Arts was a joint summer initiative led with the Town of Lyme and Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau (LYSB) to offer summer arts programming to youth in both towns.

“The Sustainable CT certification process gave us the vision to work toward an even more sustainable community,” explained Poirier.

Future efforts by the Sustainable Old Lyme team will be to educate its community members on ways to reduce the amount of solid waste that is tossed in the trash. “Sustainable CT sets a challenge for municipalities to reduce its residents’ solid waste by 10% or more, and we are interested in meeting that challenge,” Poirier noted.

Sustainable CT has seen strong momentum and growth as a valuable, high-impact program.  One-hundred twenty-five municipalities have registered for the program, representing 86 percent of the state’s population.  Collectively, 64 municipalities, which is equivalent to 60 percent of the state’s communities, have earned Sustainable CT certification.  Certification lasts for three years, with submissions rigorously evaluated by independent experts and other Sustainable CT partners.  

“Congratulations to our newest Sustainable CT certified communities,” said Lynn Stoddard, Executive Director of the program, adding, “We are inspired by the leadership and collaboration of elected officials, staff and residents to make Connecticut communities more inclusive, healthy, connected, and strong.”

The program includes actions that help towns and cities build community connection, social equity, and long-term resilience. The program’s action roadmap and support tools are especially relevant as towns seek practices and resources to promote racial justice, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and address climate change.

Sustainable CT is independently funded, with strong support from its three founding funders: the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Smart Seed Fund, and the Common Sense Fund. Additional support is provided by the Connecticut Green Bank and a growing number of community foundations and other sponsors.

Old Lyme and all 2021 certified communities will be recognized later this month at the Annual Convention of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. 

For more information, visit www.sustainablect.org.  

Old Lyme’s certification report can be found at this link

Editor’s Notes: i)We offer hearty congratulations to all those involved in making achievement of this certification a reality. We recognize that an enormous amount has been undertaken in order to prepare Old Lyme’s submission and thank all the volunteers who have worked tirelessly on this project.

ii) This article is based on a press release issued by Sustainable Old Lyme.

A la Carte: Three Columns Today: Perfect Pie Crust, Shepherd’s Pie & Ginger Chicken Hash

Lee White

Is it too soon to talk about pie?

I do not think so.

Thanksgiving is just under three weeks away. For many years I made the crusts from scratch. The best recipe was given to me by Deb Jensen, who lived in Stonington and had a couple of restaurants in the borough. But before that, she had a restaurant in New York City that, if I remember correctly, was called Pie in the Sky. After she left the city and opened her first restaurant in Connecticut, she continued to take her pies to New York  That’s how good her pies were.

Over the years, I have made others,  but hers are the best. Were mine as good as Deb’s? Not really, but it was really good. I have tried boxed and refrigerated ones. None were terribly good, but if the fillings were rich and decadent (think chocolate or pecan) or loaded with fresh fruit (apple pie served with vanilla ice cream or lemon meringue), the crust might an afterthought. I do have Oronoque pie crusts (in the freezer aisle of most supermarkets). In a pinch, they are tasty.

I have to admit, too, that Rich Swanson has taught me to make a pie crust with homemade buttermilk biscuits, a bit easier than Deb’s. It is yummy. But below is the Deb’s pie crust. I use butter and Crisco (c’mon, I have two recipes that use Crisco. It was good enough for our mothers’, it is okay for us once in a while). Next week we can talk about fruit pies and blind baking. And my Aunt Anne’s creamy  lemon pie that you serve with a little whipped cream. 

Deb Jensen’s Perfect Pie Crust

Makes enough for two, two-crust, and nine-inch pies (what is not used can be frozen)

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾  cups solid shortening (1 cup very cold Crisco, 3/4 cup very cold butter)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ cup ice water
1 egg

Combine dry ingredients. Cut shortening into dry ingredients. Add egg to ice water, beat, then add vinegar. Stir into dry ingredients with a fork. Form into four balls, place individually in plastic wrap or small plastic bags and chill. Bring back to room temperature before rolling out. *

Dough keeps one month in refrigerator and longer in freezer.

*My biggest problem with pie crust is the rolling out. I use a well-floured pastry cloth and a well-floured mitten on my rolling pin. When it’s the right size, I roll the crust up on my rolling pin and gently “roll it out” over the pie plate. Add filling, and repeat the same for the top crust.

If you do this in a food processor (which I do): whirl dry ingredients. Add very, very cold butter and shortening in small chunks and pulse about 10 times. With machine running, add the wet mixture and process only until it just little pieces hold together. Dump it onto a floured surface, knead a little (very little), then follow directions in first paragraph.

***

I read at night in bed, sometimes hours before I am ready to go to sleep. I like to read long magazine articles, especially in the New Yorker. I don’t read all the articles but I surely remember the cartoons. On one particular night I saw a cartoon about selling food that might have been in the freezer for a long time. I promised myself that I would check the big freezer in the garage the next day

What I found were about three packages of skinless, boneless chicken breasts. They must have been on sale. I took a package and put it in the refrigerator. I found, a recipe, yellowed in age, I used to make it when we lived in Canterbury, Connecticut, maybe 25 years ago (not the chicken, just the recipe!). It is as delicious as I’d remembered. Feel free to use a bottled salsa, but the recipe below is my daughter’s recipe. 

Ginger Chicken Hash

Probably from The New York Times, possible the early 1990s

Yield: 2 servings

10 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock to poach chicken breasts
1 large baking potato
1 medium red onion (6 tablespoons grated)
1 tablespoons ginger, coarsely grated
2 tablespoons flour
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a saucepan, add chicken breasts and stock. Bring to a boil, drop to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Remove from the pan. You will not use the stock again.

Meanwhile, peel potato, cut into small chunks and place in food processor. Chop fine by pulsing; place potato in a dish towel and twist to squeeze out liquid; place in mixing bowl. In the same processor bowl, finely chopped onion, then stir into the potato mixture. Grate ginger and add flour, egg whites, salt and pepper into the bowl and stir. When chicken is cool, dice and stir into the mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat large nonstick pan until it is very hot; reduce heat to medium. Add oil; add chicken hash mixture. Cook, stirring often, until browned. Stir with salsa.

Salsa

From my daughter, Darcy White

½ onion (she uses yellow onion, I like sweet onions)
1/3 bunch cilantro
1 bunch scallions (green onions), green and white parts
4 to 5 Roma tomatoes (3 t 4 vine-ripened or 1 to 2 beefsteak tomatoes)
1 small can Rotel original canned tomatoes
1 jalapeno, seeded, or half a can El Patio Mexican hot-style tomato sauce

Coarsely chop onions, cilantro, scallions and fresh tomatoes. Place all ingredients except jalapeno or hot sauce into a food processor or blender and pulse to desired consistency. Place in a medium-sized bowl; stir in the jalapeno or hot sauce, to your own taste, and mix. Serve as a dip for chips, add ¼ cup into guacamole or use with the chicken hash recipe above.

***

My husband’s parents and my own parents had a lot in common. Doug’s dad and mine were born on the same day and year, July 1, 1905. Our mothers were born on the same year. Each of our parents had two children, a boy first then girl. They all worked full-time. They lived in New York State, Doug’s in Rochester, mine in Troy. They didn’t meet until we married. Until they died, they liked each other.. 

Our mothers had something else in common. Neither of them enjoyed cooking. When Doug and I met (he lived in New York City while I was in Rochester), I didn’t know how to cook, but I loved him so I learned to cook. He never complained about my cooking, but he didn’t eat shepherd’s pie, possibly because his Michigan grandfather was a sheep farmers and his knowledge of lamb was mutton. Now alone, I  make shepherd’s pie with leftover lamb. Today I am thawing a lamb shoulder; tonight will be lamb for dinner. Tomorrow I will make enough shepherd’s pie for a couple more nights.

Shepherd’s Pie

Yield: serves 8 to 10

Olive oil
1 medium to large onion, diced
10 to 12 small- to medium-sized carrots, diced
3 pounds lamb chunks (beef is okay)*
5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 stick of butter
One-half cup milk (2 percent is fine)
1 14 ½  can diced tomatoes
Around 1 cup (as needed) stock (I use chicken stock)
1 pound each frozen tiny peas and corn (green beans could be nice, too)
grated cheese (optional)
paprika (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste, throughout the cooking

In a large skillet (or a Le Creuset Dutch oven), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent and carrots are somewhat soft. Add salt and pepper to taste; remove vegetables from the skillet onto a plate. Add a bit more olive oil and put lamb into the same skillet; cook until meat is no longer pink. You may remove some of the fat that is rendered. 

In the meantime, put potatoes into a good-sized pot, add water and cook until potatoes are very soft. Drain potato water and place potatoes back on the cooktop. Mash the potatoes with butter and milk, Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Into the cooked lamb, add back the onions and carrots, the diced tomatoes, frozen peas and corn. Bring to a summer, adding enough stock so the mixture is not too dry. Again, season to taste.

In a large oven-proof casserole (large enough to hold veggies and lamb topped with potatoes),  pour in the mixture and even it out. Toss grated cheese over mixture, if using. Add mashed potatoes and carefully cover the mixture, sealing all around. Heat the “pie” in a preheated 350 degree oven until hot,. If you want a little color, add a bit of paprika to the top before putting it in the oven. If you really like more cheese, grated some more to the top about 15 minutes before it is ready to remove from the oven. 

 Shepherd’s pie can be made beforehand and refrigerate. To serve it hot,  heat oven to 350 degrees and place casserole, covered, into oven for about 30  minutes. Remove cover, then heat for another 25 minutes, until mashed potatoes are a bit crusty.  

*I used leftover lamb. If you do, you do not have to cook the lamb again.

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 the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn. Contact Lee at leeawhite@aol.com.