NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Is Scrod Even A Fish? On a Memorial Day Weekend Quest for Low- Fat Foods

Posted on May 23, 2020

Scrod – a great low-fat choice.

By Jacqueline Bennett


With Memorial Day Weekend upon us and due to my own health considerations, I refreshed my memory researching low-fat foods and found a favorite of mine at the top of the list – scrod. There is disagreement, particularly in New England, as to whether or not schrod or scrod is a fish at all or merely an acronym begun by the Parker House in Boston, MA. standing for ‘select catch received of the day’ ?


As such, scrod can be cod, haddock or other white fish. That certainly would have been news to me back when I first ordered scrod which has become one of the dishes I most enjoy. For that first scrod dinner, I was out to eat with Aunt June who was my father’s sister, my parents, my sister Candy and niece Debbie at a fine restaurant in the Boston suburb where my aunt lived at the time – if I have written about this before please indulge me the repetition.


Were one to ask what Aunt June liked making best for dinner, the answer would be reservations! HA ! Although she was actually a good cook, the kitchen was far from the place she wanted to be. We spent a lot of time with Aunt June in Stoneham, thus Dad or Aunt June treated us to many a meal at lovely restaurants in the area. It was dining in those Boston-area restaurants that I developed my taste for excellent seafood, baked stuff shrimp, shrimp scampi, hot lobster served with salad topped with light dressing and,or freshly steamed vegetables.


Turns out fish can be some of the healthiest food choices, lucky me. That said preparing them at home, they do not typically come out as good as when a professional chef does the deed. I have sufficiently digressed from the topic at hand – choosing low-fat foods for your health which can be especially challenging on holidays. 


Health experts suggest picking white lean fish, chicken breast,or for those times when nothing but a burger or steak will satisfy pick low- fat red meat trim it or buy it that way. If you are a soup person as am I – choose broth-based soups – that means for me switching from my beloved New England Clam Chowder made with milk to Manhattan or Rhode Island Clam Chowder.


Pick cruciferous veggies fresh or frozen to avoid salt such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips. There was much discussion of the value of consuming ancient grains which I will name here but I have not yet tried them – fargo, bulgur, spelt or quinoa. I’m thinking for now whole grains are a good choice yet white grain does digest more easily. Leafy greens are another good option spinach, kale, collard greens and romaine lettuce – the latter I enjoy in a Caesar’s Salad. 


Beans and legumes are said to be a good low-fat option. Sweet potato. Mushrooms and garlic can add flavor to low-fat meal. Fruits are one of the best low-fat foods but if you have special digestion issues like GERD be careful to pick smooth fruits like blueberries or bananas. In various on-line sources Tart cherries, were singled out for rave reviews in that they are fat-free and ant–inflammatory.


Be careful about too much dairy. With Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer  it can be tempting to order a milk shake. Think twice or three times before doing that. Instead reach for low-fat or skim milk, and both low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese. 


I hope this low-fat refresher helps make your holiday healthier and happier !

Look Forward – With Each Dawn Comes Hope for a Better Day

Posted on March 31, 2020



Photos by Jacqueline Bennett – Springtime in Connecticut

By Jacqueline Bennett


In the midst of trying times one must remember that with each new dawn comes hope for a better day. Take solace in what is ahead – the beautiful blossoms of springtime. I am so fortunate to have these blossoms – soon to be making an appearance – just outside my Connecticut home.


Not far from me, near the Hockanum River Hiking Trail, some trees already have small buds – nature’s promise of what’s ahead.


I’ve been thinking beyond this difficult space in time when the world is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic – thinking about some of my greatest joys in life, such as walking the beaches of Cape Cod in the early morning or late afternoon – West Yarmouth, Chatham, Hyannis. I enjoy when the air is warm enough to wear shorts but cool enough to put on an oversized sweater with them. I also adore watching the sunrise over Hyannis Harbor – so peaceful. Yet, knowing that the arrival and departures of the ferry boats is on the way.  


I’m looking forward to walking and walking and walking the parks and beach boardwalks of Connecticut. And hot lobster rolls at Abbot’s in Noank and Lenny & Joe’s in Madison.     


When I was a student at UConn the horticulture department offered an elective course in flower arranging – a wonderful break from the intensity of core studies. Anyway, I love writing and photography but in the back of mind I thought too about opening a small floral shop. In trying times, why not take a few moments here & there to dream outside your box ? It’s amazing how it can make you smile and the calm it can bring.


Last but far from least, I’m looking forward to the seeing the joyful faces and child’s antics of my great nephews – almost – ages 2 and a half, and one, with the younger one’s baptism coming in June. 


Keep looking forward …… 

Adding Color with Lavender & African Violets

Posted on February 24, 2020

Arrangement of dried lavender.

African Violet

By Jacqueline Bennett


For some time I had my eye on a beautiful milk bottle vase. When I spotted fresh arrangements of dried lavender at a floral shop last week, I knew they would make ideal companions.


Even the sound of the word “lavender” is soothing. Thus, it makes sense that studies have shown essential lavender oils and lavender scent may reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and restlessness. Some studies suggest lavender is useful as an anti-septic and anti-inflammatory. *** However, lavender is not FDA approved for medicinal purposes ~ be sure to check with a physician about the use of any essential oils for health purposes! Lavender is also well-known as an ingredient in beauty products such as fragrance, shampoo, skin care. According to, lavender symbolizes purity, devotion, grace and calmness.


That noted, it is such a pretty herb/plant, visually pleasing. Aromatic lavender has a gentle scent and can add the perfect accent of soft COLOR to a space. At the moment, I have mine on the dining room table which is covered by a white lace tablecloth. With spring just around the corner, I’m looking forward to perusing Home Depot and Lowe’s nurseries for lavender plants. Among the most popular species of lavender are English & French, which vary in sprig size and longevity. Lavender farms make for a pleasant destination, there is one in Harwich up on The Cape (Cape Cod, MA) and one closer to home in Tolland, CT. , Lavender Hill Farm.


Turning to one of my favorite sources, The Old Farmer’s Almanac (established in 1792) ~ African violets, a tropical plant, thrive in lower, indirect light. It is best to keep the soil slightly moist, watering this small houseplant with room temperature water, from the bottom. Online sources concur that humidity is “vital to the health of African Violets.” They do grow with white flowers but my preference is purple or blue for yet another pretty splash of COLOR in a space. African violets have fuzzy leaves and it is best to use a small soft brush for dusting. They are symbolic of beauty, pain & struggle, says Happy almost spring everyone …   


Happy National Bloody Mary Day

Posted on January 1, 2020

The Bloody Mary prepared at Water’s Edge in Westbrook, CT. Photo by Jacqueline Bennett

Photo & Write-Up by Jacqueline Bennett


In the spirit of starting 2020 off on a light note, let me wish everyone “Happy National Bloody Mary Day ! ” Well-known as a hangover cure, what better time to celebrate The Bloody Mary than January 1, the morning after New Year’s Eve.


The Bloody Mary “made its debut” at the Paris Ritz Hotel in 1921. It was said to be a concoction put together by bartender Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, according to Food & Drink America: “Full Course” Encyclopedia, notes National Day Calendar. After Prohibition was lifted in America, Petiot brought his ~ now famous ~ drink to the King Cole Bar in New York.


Early on it was called a “Bucket of Blood” but eventuated to become The Bloody Mary, thought to have been named for either Petiot’s girlfriend or Queen Mary Tudor.  As well, it was dubbed a “Red Snapper” which what you need to order at the King Cole Bar, a historic gathering place which still welcomes customers. 


Exactly how the ingredients meld to settle the stomach and sooth an aching head is for a chemist to explain. For the masses, it is enough to know after having had one too many on New Year’s Eve, a remedy is at hand.


These days almost anything can be part of a Bloody Mary recipe but to be true to the original ~ it must contain vodka and tomato juice. Typically, lemon juice is added along with Worcestershire, cayenne to be topped off with one’s choice of edible garnishes.

No Christmas Tree Shortage for Manchester Fire Department

Posted on December 21, 2019

Plenty of Christmas Trees at the Manchester, CT Fire Department shown Chad Hahn and Chief Dan Langer. Photos by Jacqueline Bennett

Story & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


Contrary to dire predictions of Christmas Tree shortages across the United States, in Manchester, Connecticut the local fire department has plenty.  The Manchester Fire Department 8th Utilities District, a volunteer department, will be selling trees until at least tomorrow ~ December 22 ~ and a good selection is still available.


Braving cold temperatures, Chief Dan Langer and Chad Hahn of the MFD, were on hand Saturday Dec. 21, manning the tree lot at 18 Main Street. Both said about a supposed tree shortage, the department had not felt the impact. However, they agreed sales this year were slower than usual, which each attributed to Thanksgiving coming late in November, plus some rainy weather last weekend. On more seasonable days, sales were swift.


Some days we sold 150 in a day, ” noted Hahn.


Said Langer, “We received one shipment of 705 trees, 700 regular size and five 10-12 feet tall. ” 


Typically, the department sells the trees as a fundraiser starting just before Thanksgiving to just before Christmas – only four days away. The ample supply of trees in Manchester, CT may have something to do with the department shipping them in from Vermont just as they did last year ~ Douglas Firs. Tree farmers in Vermont have maintained since at least 2017 that there was no shortage in the Green Mountain State. 


“Not here,” one farmer is quoted as having told


The Atlantic reported a looming Christmas Tree shortage two years ago citing cautionary words from the National Christmas Tree Association which pointed to the “Great Recession” ten years past, when the association said, many farmers lacked the money for large plantings. In that it commonly tales ten years to grow a Christmas Tree, the NCTA predicted a shortage was likely on tap or just around the bend. The prediction was picked up by major news outlets and reported this season.



On Saturday afternoon, Langer and Hahn echoed the sentiments of the Vermont tree farmers. Nonetheless, Hahn said one customer told him of driving up to Connecticut from the New York area to avoid prices as high as $1,100 -$1,200 for a tree.


I had never heard of that, ” he said.


Clearly, it was worth the drive because the MFD trees are going for $40. The handful of larger ones which are already sold were priced a bit higher. The fundraiser pays for the department’s social budget which covers costs such as department donations to the Manchester High School Scholarship Fund, the annual Christmas party and Memorial Day picnic. The department’s operational budget is funded by taxpayers.


If you are still on the hunt for the perfect Christmas Tree you may be in luck. By the way, the MFD lot is a very pretty Christmas Tree Lot. Adds Hahn, an even nicer sight when the lights go on at dusk.

“And so was the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston …

Posted on November 17, 2019

Stockbridge MA in the Berkshires ~ photo by Jacqueline Bennett


By Jacqueline Bennett


As Stockbridge, Massachusetts, tucked sweetly in the Berkshires mountains, prepares for its annual celebration of Norman Rockwell fame ~ made iconic by the American illustrator’s depiction of the Main Street at Christmastime ~ my thoughts drift to another iconic tale of Stockbridge. The village is a touchpoint in the James Taylor classic “Sweet Baby James” 


Now the first of December was covered with snow And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frostin’. With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go ….


Perhaps it is the lullaby melody or having been young when that song was young but for me, it is bittersweet. Whatever Taylor had in mind when he penned his lyrics ~ the beauty of lyric and music is that it takes on personal meaning for the listener. To me, these moving, perfectly descriptive lyrics speak to the uncertainty of what’s ahead, joyful though it may be, amidst the beauty and tentativeness of the present moment. When James Taylor wrote that song, inspired by the birth of his namesake nephew, Taylor’s star was rising. Yet he was a young songwriter/musician who could not possibly have known the success that awaited him. 


Certainly we have all experienced moments where we can feel the ripeness of the future. Nonetheless we know that means what has been extraordinary about the present phase of life is slipping away and we already feel nostalgic for what will never come again ~ ” With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to to go …   


As you travel the roads of your life this holiday season, I hope you do feel ripeness in the future but also ~ breathe ~ and take in the beauty of these moments that will never come again.

“Goddess of the Woods” ~ White Birch Trees

Posted on October 28, 2019

“Goddess of the Woods ” White Birch ~ South Windsor, CT photo by Jacqueline Bennett

Buckland Road South Windsor, CT




Article & Photos By Jacqueline Bennett


“Goddess of the Woods” ~ the perfect sobriquet for white birch trees. Considered to be enchanted, symbolic of hope, new beginnings and the promise of what’s to come. My love of white birch trees runs deep. Simply looking at a white birch is uplifting for me. They touch the soul.

Said in mythology and folklore to be enchanted, The “Magic of Birch” describes white birches (known too as silver birches) as carrying ancient wisdom yet appearing forever young. Written about extensively, they have been a muse for many a great poet and philosopher such as Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau.

In my family we hold treasured memories of the Bennett Farm in New Hampshire. Some years ago it was sold to a new owner but I learned from my cousin that when the farm was purchased by the Bennett’s in 1943, my Great-Aunt Rena dubbed it “Birch Acres” because of a thick of stunning, white birch trees that stood at the corner of a field on the approach from town.

I feel so fortunate to have these beautiful birch trees ~ seen in my photos here ~ close to home. Enchanting in any season, they are one of my favorite photo subjects ~ marvels of the majesty of nature. In the Battle of the Trees, writer Robert Graves speaks of the nobility of the white birch describing it as being “of high estate.”  

Powers of white birches are thought to be vast, both mystical and practical: purification, guardian of new beginnings, bringer of hope, channeler of emotion, protection. Sweet sap of the white birch is said to have medicinal powers ~ curative and preventive ~ such as soothing irritated skin, used in birch tea to avoid kidney stones, and easing arthritis & overall muscle pain. Tapped sap is used as well, to make birch wine. Cut straight from the easy to peel bark ~ “neat & cold “, it is touted to be like drinking water.  

Folklore suggests bundles of birch twigs can chase away spirits of the old. In fact, bundles of birch twigs are reportedly used commonly in gardens today as a “purifier”. Known too as “pioneer trees”, white birches are good for planting to rejuvenate woodlands after destructive disasters. They grow in all North European countries and in North America.

Beithe, the Celtic Birch, is the first tree of the Ogham which is the Celtic alphabet. As tells us, birches are “celebrated” during the Celtic festival of Samhain. This year Samhain runs from dawn on October 31 through sunset of November 1 ~ an event which evolved to be Halloween in Britain.


*Also referenced: