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NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Crullers – A New England Favorite

Posted on April 20, 2017

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Crullers are a New England favorite. In fact, speculation is they have been part of the New England menu since the days of the Pilgrims. Now considered to be of the donut genre, it is interesting that the English settlers were so fond of crullers when as it turns out the origin of the name is Dutch – kruller, meaning to curl.

 

And curled or twisted they are, that is true crullers. Deep fried dough pastry. Imposters can be found at donut shops that shall remain nameless, but a flat appearance, often not thoroughly cooked dough and bland flavor are giveaways.

 

All that twisting apparently makes authentic crullers “labor intensive” thus explaining why they are becoming more and more rare. It is not easy to find a true cruller, the flavor of which is convincingly enhanced by the twisted constitution.Thick, oblong and sweet tasting even in its simplest state – plain. Adding powered sugar or light frosting to crullers takes them to another realm among morning delights.

 

 

One spot where the real thing can found is at Gerry’s Donuts. A small, independent shop located just past the new roundabout at the Ellington Five Corners on Windsorville Road in Connecticut. Be prepared – in addition to the crusty crullers, here one sometimes also comes across traditional, ole’ “crusty New Englanders”. Nonetheless, gathering up a cruller or two for 80 cents each, or a half dozen for about $3 is a worthwhile bargain. According to staff crullers sell out fast, typically by 8 a.m.

 

Gerry’s also serves delicious Mountain Dairy milk produced at the Stearns Family Farm in Storrs where the workday milking starts at 3 a.m.  http://mountaindairy.com  Perfect, because the cruller experience is incomplete without a cup of hot coffee or tea, or better yet, some farm fresh cold milk.

 

Where do you find traditional-style crullers?

Enjoy the Nevers Park Walking Trails

Posted on April 7, 2017

Perhaps it looks like November but this is Nevers Park on April 5, 2017 – National Walking Day, part of the American Heart Association’s “Move More …” campaign.

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Trail maps.

Prepare to smile, nod or say hello to everyone you pass along the walking/hiking trails at Nevers Park in South Windsor, Connecticut. Greetings for all are an unwritten code here.

 

The 137 acre multi-generational park has three stone dust trails of different distances, A, B & C. The longest trail is the most wooded. Each one is mapped out for visitors on a sign in the lower parking lot.

 

Located on the corner of Sand Hill and Nevers Road the park is directly across the road from the South Windsor Police Station and behind South Windsor High School. It is a popular and typically active recreational spot which also has a Rotary Pavilion available for impromptu picnics, or that can be rented for special occasions. There is a 20,000 square foot boundless playground and at the top of Sand Hill is a dog park, “Bark Park”. Nearby an emergency phone and water fountain can be found. Several side-by-side soccer fields can host multiple concurrent games at the lower level. Don’t hold me to this but I believe Connecticut Grey – a rugby club for mature men – practiced here at some point.

Striding along trail B. In the distance is the South Windsor High outdoor track.

 

For three seasons – spring, summer and autumn – the walking/hiking trails are usually the busiest after supper on weekdays, and throughout the days on weekends. Not Grand Central Station busy, but small town New England busy. Come winter, it is pass at your risk because the trails are not maintained from November 1 – April 1.

 

Exercise stations attract serious athletes.

 

Serious athletes can be seen utilizing the exercise stations situated along the trails. Another nice feature is the memorial trees planted across the park.

 

Nevers Park is one of my favorite places to go walking.

Centennial Commemoration U.S. Entrance Into World War I

Posted on April 6, 2017

World War I 1914-1918.

Write-Up by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Today, April 6, 2017, marks 100 years since the United States joined the World War I fight “over there”. Titled “In Sacrifice for Liberty & Peace”, the National Centennial Commemoration of the Entry into WWI by the United States will be hosted in Kansas City, Missouri at the National World War I Museum. The anniversary has special meaning for me because my Great Uncle Frank Sheedy served in World War I. This past Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2016, I wrote about Great Uncle Frank in a newsandviewsjb post.

 

 

 

Uncle Frank was a modest man who would be the first to say he need not have a fuss made over him. Nonetheless, it is for those of us in the generations that come after the American warriors who face down the enemies of their eras to herald their service and sacrifice.

 

 

From freepages.military

 A live stream of the ceremony in Kansas City is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. W.W.I is considered the first “global conflict” because it involved all inhabited continents, as noted in a press release from the National W.W.I Museum. According to the museum, as a result of W.W. I by the time the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918 the ranks of the American military had grown significantly. Thousands of U.S. soldiers, sailors and women in service however, died during the war.

 

The phrase ” the war to end all wars” is associated with W.W. I. It originated with British author and social commentator H. G. Wells who contended that bringing an end to “German militarism” would end war. Another phrase associated with W.W. I was used by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his request to Congress on April 2, 1917 for a Declaration of War on Germany. Wilson said it was a war “to make the world safe for democracy”. The term “doughboy” is also most closely tied to W.W.I as a description of U.S. Army or Marine Corps members.

 

Take a listen to a popular W.W. I song written by George M. Cohan “Over There” which declares that “The Yanks are comin’… and we won’t be back till’ it’s over – over there.

Destination: “Ninety 99 Nine” Restaurants in Westerly, R.I. – Etc.

Posted on March 29, 2017

“Ninety 99 Nine” Restaurant & Pub, Westerly, Rhode Island.

Write-up and Photos By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com 

 

Beautiful Misquamicut!

Among the “Ninety 99 Nine Restaurants” where I have eaten my favorite is in Westerly, Rhode Island. What makes this one so special? Location, location, location.

 

Immediately across the road from the highway connector that enables beachgoers to bypass downtown Westerly and head directly to Misquamicut State Beach and the Westerly Beaches, the restaurant has easy access off Airport Road. It is about three miles from the shoreline, which off-season is barely a ten minute drive but much longer during the summer when traffic is backed-up.

 

Vernon, CT.

Some large booths have middle lift slats.

Best described as a “pub chain serving American fare”, regardless of their location the “99 Restaurants” where I’ve been have similar layouts – two sides for dining, a bar, soft lighting and booths of varying sizes. A nice feature is big, side-by-side booths with a middle slat that can be lifted to accommodate larger parties. Another appealing feature is the use of photos specific to the area, such as local sports teams.  There are a number of television screens positioned throughout the restaurants.

 

In addition to Westerly, I have tried the 99 in Auburn, Massachusetts and ones in Glastonbury and Vernon, Connecticut. The first “99” was opened in 1952 in Boston by founder Charlie Doe who passed away last year. Doe is said to have “pioneered the casual dining concept” with his “99 restaurants.”

 

In an online review, customer Don P. of East Longmeadow, Ma. wrote, “When you can’t think of where to eat and reasonably priced Pub Grub comes to mind then 99 is always a pretty sure bet.”

Baked Schrod, a New England favorite.

 

Chicken Pot Pie.

 

I would elevate that review to say there are some very tasty dinners on the menu. Since my original scrod, or schrod, experience at a specialty restaurant in the Boston area when I was in college, I have been ‘hooked’ on this fish. That is, when it is well-prepared.

 

 

As with any restaurant, preparation depends upon the cook or chef, as the case may be. Topped with herb-seasoned breadcrumbs and served with a lemon wedge, rice pilaf and vegetable, the schrod at “99” can be quite delicious. It is one of their best selections. Other seafood on the menu includes Fish & Chips, Fresh Balsamic Salmon or Fresh Glazed Salmon. In season they offer a cold or hot lobster roll. I have found lobster at bonafide seafood restaurants tastier but it is still nice to have a lobster option. For Chicken Pot Pie afficionados, “99” serves a humongous portion accompanied by a small container of cranberry sauce and choice of a side. Other standard American entrees are part of the menu, along with burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts.

 

Ninety 99 Nine Restaurant, 7 Airport Road, Westerly R.I. 02891, 401-348-8299, https://www.99restaurants.com

Hashtag the Confetti Douse a Better Idea

Posted on March 28, 2017

Photo from The Oregonian – Oregon Ducks Men’s Basketball Coach Dana Atlman doused with a bucket of confetti March 25, 2017 after the team wins in the Elite 8 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Hashtag the #confettidouse a #betteridea.

 

Oregon Ducks Men’s Basketball Coach Dana Altman was ‘doused’ with a bucket of team colored confetti March 25, after their victory during the Elite 8 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Ducks now head to the men’s Final Four.

 

Let me add my voice to those who champion the confetti douse over Gatorade showers, or the other cold liquid dousing coaches have been taking since the mid-1980’s.

 

“If God had intended for coaches to endure Gatorade showers, they would have been born with slickers on the headphones,” Stan Stillman wrote in a piece titled, “Enough with the Gatorade Dousing”, published January 2, 2011 by bleacherreport.com.

 

“Confetti is just the right kind of festive, harmless alternative,” Alex Kirshner stated in an article he wrote for sbnation.com December 29, 2016.

 

It would be naive not to realize, coaches are not always warm and fuzzy personality types. In some cases, harsh is probably an understatement in describing how players may be treated. In fact the cold liquid dousing has the feel of revenge not celebration.

 

That may well be true of its origin. Online sources point to the first Gatorade shower in 1985, of then Giants Coach Bill Parcells after the Giants beat the Redskins. Allegedly, pouring the bucket of cold liquid on Parcells was instigated by a player who was angry over the way he had been treated by Parcells that week.

 

From there the Gatorade, or ice water dousing, took on a life of its own. Typically, it comes after a meaningful win in sports. Dousing has not been limited to head coaches, rather as well, assistant coaches, even star players, have endured the ritual. As a viewer, I cringe when I see the bucket coming.

 

In November of 1990, 68-year-old Long Beach State Coach George Allen came down with pneumonia and died only weeks after having been doused following a major win, reported Stillman. Another site adds that Allen became ill and ultimately died of ventricular fibrillation. The American Heart Association describes ventricular fibrillation as a serious cardiac rhythm disturbance.

 

Think about the rapid change which can occur in the heartbeat if one experiences an extreme temperature change to cold. And, these cold liquid douses can take place when the thermometer reads 30 degrees or below Fahrenheit. Although outdoor dousing may be a clearer health risk, just because dousing might occur indoors, does not eliminate it as a potential shock to the heart. The first NBA coach said to get the Gatorade treatment was Doc Rivers when the Boston Celtics won the finals in 2008.

 

It is long overdue to leave pouring cold liquid over coaches, as one sportswriter put it – “back in the last century.” If players and teams do not take the initiative and stop the dousing themselves, then it is time for collegiate and professional leagues to outlaw the practice and impose fines.

 

On the other hand, confetti is all about celebration. The best collegiate confetti colors? UConn Blue & White!

Destination: Starbucks in Simsbury, Connecticut

Posted on March 10, 2017

Starbucks in Simsbury, CT.

 

Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

With snow falling outside, part of winter 2016/2017’s last stand here in the Northeast, today is ideal to find a cozy spot and partake in a last hot chocolate of the season or another warm beverage. Should you find your way to Connecticut’s Farmington Valley, a perfect place to take shelter from the cold is Starbucks in Simsbury.

 

At each end of the coffeehouse is a fireplace.

 

What makes this such a good choice for warming up with a cup of Joe while a chill is still in the air?

 

The Simsbury Starbucks boasts of not one, but two fireplaces. A fireplace is situated on each side of the restaurant. The space nearby is typically prime seating and almost always full, but occasionally a table or chair opens up. Grab it! It won’t be available for long.

 

Located in the Simsburytown Shops Plaza, this Starbucks with its rustic ambiance is across the street from the red stone town hall – Simsbury is known for its red stone buildings. The convenient locale has made the Simsbury Starsbucks a popular place for elected officials, town workers and reporters such as myself, when I was covering the town, to enjoy the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain’s signature blends, light bites or pastries. One of my favorite menu items is a slice of Iced Lemon Bar.

 

Inside is a stand of newspapers. As one who has devoted much of her life to print journalism, it is heartening to know newspaper reading is not a lost art everywhere. Many customers here indulge in their treats with newspaper in hand. Of course, there are also those who occupy themselves with computers and Smart Phones.

 

(Slightly off subject but nonetheless .. it was at this plaza outside Starbucks that a group of local veterans drove their vintage cars for me to snap some photo ops for the local paper, the cars were to be part of the annual Memorial Day Parade. Ironically, the pics got cropped down and the cars could not be seen. The veterans were good sports about it and their main concern, an appeal for greater participation, did get publicized.)

 

Back to the topic at hand. If it is not possible to check out the Starbucks in Simsbury today, not to worry. A few patio tables on the front veranda are quite pleasant in warm weather.

 

Starbucks, 930 Hopmeadow St., Simsbury, CT 860-651-7557  starbucks.com

Willow Madness

Posted on March 7, 2017

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Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

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In the backdrop an original palette knife painting by my brother FWB II.

 

The month of March is known for whipping winds, weather that roars in with the last hurrah of winter and gently exits with the nearing of spring, dependent upon how the calendar falls – the holy days of Lent and Easter, the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, a lovely aquamarine birthstone (mine) and college basketball tournament play dubbed “March Madness.”

 

It is also a time of ‘willow madness’ for the enigmatic pussy willow. As http://www.gardeningknowhow.com puts it, pussy willows offer early buds in late winter “when much of the landscape still sleeps in dormancy.” Quite appropriately, ‘willow madness’ seems to be everywhere as Catkin branches can currently be found at virtually every New England garden, floral and specialty retail shop.

 

Delightful, yet mysterious looking Catkin branches – long, dark and adorned by fluffy, oval-shaped buds in shades of ivory or pale pinkish, are one of the great joys of this juncture of seasonal change. Among nature’s most beautiful works of art, in my home I have set a vase of pussy willows in front of another enigmatic piece of art, an original palette knife painting done by my brother, FWB II.

 

Native to the Eastern United States and Canada, pussy willows are found in the cold temperature regions of the Northern Hemisphere, primarily in moist soils, according to online sources. Part of the genus Salix, there are 400 species of trees and shrubs. Pussy willow trees are said to take root quickly and are one of the easiest to grow and maintain. A cautionary word however, they have deep spreading roots so should not be planted near water, septic or sewer lines.

 

Another mystery of pussy willow branches is that left unwatered on display indoors, they hold the promise of lasting almost indefinitely.