NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

Destination: Hometown Kitchen at the Plaza in Somers, Connecticut

Posted on October 20, 2016

003Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


Hometown Kitchen is aptly named. Tucked inside Southfield Corners Plaza in Somers, Connecticut it is the kind of restaurant best known to locals. In fact, I first ate here a number of years ago when it was called Kathy’s Playhouse because it was a favorite stop for one of my brothers, F.W. and his wife, who were both teachers in a nearby town.





Homemade pumpkin bread available by the loaf.

What brings me back is the scrumptious pumpkin bread which I was told by a waitress is still homemade by her sister, the former owner. Moist, flavorful and so popular it is sold by the loaves, it is as tasty as the pumpkin bread that used to be served at the old Putney Inn in Vermont.


002Comfort food dominates the rather extensive menus that also include items such as broiled or stuffed salmon, salmon salad, New England or Rhode Island Clam Chowder, French Onion Soup and much more.


Decor is older but pleasant. There is a dining room and a 001separate counter area. It is a safe guess that patrons are longtime and loyal. Breakfasts here are clearly a ritual for some.


At one time when I was privy to the local buzz, Somers was considered an “old money area” and may still be. It was named by MONEY Magazine as 53rd on a list of best places to live in the United States, is home to Shallowbrook Equestrian Center (which will hold rated horse shows on October 29 and November 20). As well, Somers is home to a number of horse farms, is a host of the annual Four Town Fair, and is among the first places I remember hearing of holding a New England chili festival, which was a favorite of one of my other brothers – Glen Sr.




It is a pretty ride along country roads to reach HOMETOWN Kitchen. To make redundancy redundant, that is particularly true at this time of year surrounded by beautiful autumn foliage which is expected to peak in central Connecticut this coming weekend – October 21, 22 & 23.


Truth be told however, if you are in Somers you are already off the beaten path. Why not try a restaurant that is too.


Hometown Kitchen at the Plaza, 48 South Road, Somers CT 06071 860-265-3690 and on Facebook

Cloaked for the First Frost

Posted on October 15, 2016


Cloaked for the first frost.

Uncloaked a day before.

Uncloaked a day before.

Write-Up & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


Connecticut’s first frost of autumn 2016 arrived last night which meant covering the outdoor plants and pumpkins. According to the the first frost of the season is distinguished from the first freeze by temperature.


When temperatures are predicted to drop to 36 degrees F or below, prepare for the first frost which can kill plants left outside. Following the first fall frost, the first freeze – 32 degrees F or below – typically arrives about two weeks later, notes




Even hardy mums need some TLC -tender loving care- when the nights become slightly more than what New Englanders refer to as crisp. Light cloth is all that is required to protect the vegetation.





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The National Climate Data Center collects information about first frosts and first freezes from 5,800 weather monitoring stations throughout the United States. Based on data from the past 30 years they can offer an estimate of when each will likely occur in areas across the country. Simply visit and plug in the local zip code.

Mom's cloth remnants.

Mom’s cloth remnants.





(Writer’s note: Thanks to remnants that belonged to my mother, I had plenty of cloth pieces from which to choose. Pretty too.)

Return to Vanilla Bean Cafe & Buell’s Orchard Harvest Festival

Posted on October 11, 2016


Photo by Jacqueline Bennett  Hayrides and pumpkin picking at Buell’s Orchard Eastford, CT 10/10/2016

Vanilla Bean Cafe Pomfret CT Columbus Day 2016

Vanilla Bean Cafe Pomfret CT Columbus Day 2016

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com005


The beauty of a quintessential New England autumn day was enhanced by a Columbus Day lunch at the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, Connecticut followed by a stop at Buell’s Orchard’s annual Harvest Festival in Eastford. This was my second consecutive Columbus Day making the ‘Bean and Buell’s’  trek !




Vanilla Bean Cafe

001So much has been written about the Vanilla Bean that framed articles fill hallway walls at this quaint restaurant with the hide-away feel nestled in Connecticut’s “Quiet Corner”. The menu is large; a personal favorite is the create your own half sandwich & homemade soup combo – BLT on marbled rye with Tomato Florentine – delicious.







A cup of Joe & solitude.


On this day, staffer Connor was sporting a tie dye t-shirt he made which cleverly channeled “The Bard”. It read, “to Bean or not to Bean…? is it really a question?” Love it! 



The relaxing atmosphere alone at the Vanilla Bean is worth a drive which brings one along country roads, beautiful in each season yet with a special autumn appeal. It is a cozy spot to meet up with friends or savor a cup of ‘Joe’ and some solitude.








Buell’s Orchard

Another hayride at Buell's.

Another hayride at Buell’s.



Buell’s popular apple cider donuts served warm.

Buell’s Orchard is about 20 minutes west of the Bean. This year’s Harvest Festival seemed even busier than last year.  A “sorry” sign noted they ran out of free donuts after some 5,000 donuts had been given out. Nonetheless, free cider was still flowing.



Buell’s popular apple cider donuts were available however, for sale inside their small farm store. Lines to the cash registers snaked out from beneath a canopy tent as folks waited patiently to pay for treasures such those donuts, or pumpkins hand-picked in one of the patches. Meanwhile, a chicken barbecue and the Dave Reiner & the Reiner Family Band were in full swing.


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If as has been reported, an insufficient amount of rain could result in a pumpkin shortage this season it doesn’t seem to be happening at Buell’s. As well, perhaps thanks to an overnight rainfall, autumn foliage that has seemed slower in arriving than previously ‘magically’ appeared for the holiday.








Vanilla Bean Cafe, 450 W. Rd, Pomfret CT 06258, 860-928-1562

Buell’s Orchard 108 Crystal Pond Rd, Eastford CT 06242, 860-974-1150

Mom’s Recipe Box: Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon & Fresh Vegetables

Posted on October 9, 2016






Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon has been added to Mom's Recipe Box.

Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon with fresh vegetables has been added to Mom’s Recipe Box by her daughter.


Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon & Fresh Vegetables


My first experience of salmon was for a holiday dinner at Apricots Restaurant in Farmington, Connecticut. Served in what can be described as a gourmet portion, the salmon was cooked to perfection and presented with a few stalks of tender asparagus. Overall, it was simply divine.


Not only is salmon delicious but it is found on every list I have read of foods that are good for the heart. The thing is – salmon can be expensive at the grocery store. As well, the thought of preparing an unfamiliar fish dish can be intimidating.


A recent sale on salmon, however, at Big Y World Class Supermarket in the area where I live, presented an opportunity to try preparing a salmon meal at home. Both lemon and pepper add fat free and calorie ‘non- existent’ seasoning that tasted great. Extra, freshly squeezed lemon was put on immediately before baking which was done in the oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes – turned once after 15 minutes, turned back after another 15 minutes, and finished baking for 5-10 minutes to brown the top. The result was terrific.


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The dinner plate included fresh vegetables – peeled, chopped and boiled carrots, plus boiled broccoli and cauliflower. Any of these can be topped with butter, salt or dressings but my preference is to shake on just pepper and maybe a dab of light Promise. They are marvelous that way. Some people do not, but I like the greens that come with cauliflower, and broccoli stalks, which are both said to be loaded with nutrients.


This turned out to be a no fuss, easy to prepare dinner. Heart healthy meals are always a good choice but with Thanksgiving just around the corner and the many rich food temptations that come with it, what better time to bank some low, or no fat/salt eating. – JB



Look for Mom’s Recipe Box occasionally as I add to and celebrate my mother’s collection of recipes – the Cecelia G. Bennett Collection.

Unless You’re A New Englander It’s Hard to Fathom …

Posted on September 26, 2016

South Windsor CT

Photo by Jacqueline Bennett South Windsor CT

By Jacqueline Bennett


Unless you are a New Englander it may be hard to fathom the sheer joy that accompanies the first chill in the air with the arrival of each autumn. When I opened my front door the past two mornings and this morning around 5 a.m., the welcome coolness was waiting. It left me feeling refreshed, as if a new beginning could be just around the corner.


Autumn 2016 made its debut on Thursday, September 22, and Connecticut could not have asked for a more perfect first fall weekend. By Saturday and Sunday crisp temperatures meant it was time to pull on favorite sweatshirts, from my L.L.Bean deep green zip front to heavy hoodies that were being worn.


Unless you are a New Englander it may be hard to fathom the sheer joy that accompanies the sight of an autumn pumpkin patch. Driving the back roads through Ellington, East Windsor and Enfield this weekend we took turns commenting on the beauty of the days. At times we silently took in familiar autumnal sights – touches of early leaf color here and there signaling a promise of the brilliance to come, local farm stands setting up apple baskets and pumpkin displays, an abundance of county fairs signs, and, a combination of rickety old red tractors and shiny new John Deere’s slowing down traffic as they hauled bundles of hay.



Unless you are a New Englander it may be hard to fathom the sheer joy that accompanies the satisfaction from accomplishing the hard, hard work which goes into chopping wood that will be used to warm homes in coming months. With the sight of neatly stacked wood piles comes too, anticipation of the first wood stove fire of the season and snuggling up next to it, under a handmade quilt with a good book and a mug of cider.



Welcome autumn!

“FIRST FOLIO!The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare” – Rare Collection at UConn

Posted on September 19, 2016

. "To be or not to be..."

 “To be or not to be…”

Article & Photos by Jacqueline Bennett


An extraordinary opportunity awaits at the William Benton Museum on the University of Connecticut’s Storrs campus. Through September 25, visitors can view a first collected edition, published in 1623, of plays by William Shakespeare in the exhibit, “First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare”.  Admission is free.


In recognition of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. has sent “First Folio” on a national tour making a stop at one site in each state. UConn was the distinguished selection for the Connecticut stop.


Of the 233 copies known today, 82 belong to the Folger,” states a synopsis of the event.

FIRST FOLIO on display at the Benton Museum.

FIRST FOLIO on display at the Benton Museum.


Phrases used used in language today were written by William Shakespeare.

Phrases used today were written by William Shakespeare.



Without First Folio, the works of Shakespeare it is feared may have been lost. Thus this volume is considered “one of the most famous books in history.”


As was noted, phrases not only still common but as well still relevant in the English language today were penned by Shakespeare. Known as “the Bard” Shakespeare is arguably the world’s most famous playwright, and likely the most quoted.




 At ‘The Benton’, Shakespeare lovers will undoubtedly be fascinated to see First Folio opened to a page displaying one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes from “Hamlet” – ‘to be or not to be’. It can be seen on the right side of the book and is the opening line for the first paragraph on the left column.
















In an adjacent room of ‘The Benton’ the exhibit continues with the theme the “Culture of Shakespeare”. There costumes that 036exemplify clothing typical of Shakespearean times can be viewed.032033













The William Benton Museum of Art, 245 Glenbrook Road, #2140 Storrs, CT 860-486-4520. Admission is free; donations are appreciated. 

For more information go to









In connection with the visit of First Folio to UConn,  the university planned a number of programs and activities. Among the participants was the university’s renown puppetry program. As part of a festival celebrating the town of Mansfield, on Sunday September 18 Shakespearean puppets created for the First Folio event were being shown outside the Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry in Storrs Center. 008

Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo?

Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou Romeo?

"When shall we three meet again?"

“When shall we three meet again?”








Windsor “Walk of Light” Commemorates 15th Anniversary of 9/11

Posted on September 12, 2016

"Walk of Light" in Windsor, Connecticut September 11, 2016.

“Walk of Light” in Windsor, Connecticut September 11, 2016.


On the steps of Windsor CT Town Hall honoring the fallen of 9/11.

On the steps of Windsor CT Town Hall honoring the fallen of 9/11.

By Jacqueline Bennett


A large crowd filled the Windsor, Connecticut Town Green Sunday night, September 11, 2016 where a 15th Anniversary “Walk of Light” and commemorative ceremony honored victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks against America. Nearly 3000 luminaries lined the historic town green, inscribed and decorated, representing each individual who lost his or her life due to the attacks.


Four hijacked planes attacked the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and one aimed at Washington D.C. was downed in Pennsylvania.


Fred Kuo at the podium.

Fred Kuo at the podium.

Despite his still palpable grief, speaker Fred Kuo chose to focus on “gifts of kindness” associated with that day. Director of Experiential Learning and Associate Director of Alumni & Parent Relations at Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Kuo’s father – also named Fred – was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.


At the time, although Kuo was new to a job at Merrimack College, he recalled a series of kindnesses showed to him by people there – from someone ushering a distraught Kuo into a campus chapel, to those who sat and talked with him, to friends in Windsor offering him a place to stay overnight on his return trip to his family home on Long Island, N.Y., to three members of a fraternity at the college who insisted on riding back with Kuo. As well, Kuo spoke of the kindness showed to him by the college in allowing him time before returning to work and their understanding when he decided he wanted a job closer to home. Prior to coming to Loomis Chaffee, he took a position at Fairfield University in Connecticut which ultimately gave him the “gift of family”, he said. It was there that he met his wife and the couple now has three children. Rather than concentrating on the horrific tragedy of 9/11, Kuo said he thinks of the kindness shown to him which reflect a lesson, known to his Loomis Chaffee students, called “the common good”.


“There was a heightened feeling we were all in this together” he said, “I fear we are losing that.”


The pain of the loss of his father remains, added Kuo. At age 44, Kuo said, a third of his life has been spent without his father.


013Mayor Donald Trinks took the podium and reflected on why Windsor would be inclined to create the “Walk of Light”, not just on the 15th anniversary of 9/11 but on three previous anniversaries of the attacks. Each “Walk of Light” has been organized by Enita Jubrey, assistant to the town manager, with inscriptions and decoration done by Windsor students and community members.


004Windsor lost a resident in the Twin Towers attack, and three more people with close ties to the town – a number increased to four with the addition of Kuo’s father. Despite the connections to the event, Trinks said there is an overriding reason that Windsor hosts the “Walk of Light”.

Mayor Donald Trinks.

Mayor Donald Trinks.



“Why Windsor? Simply because we are a community that cares,” the mayor said. He noted the luminary bags were “created with love, originality and reverence.”


“As a resident and a ‘townie’, I could not be more proud of Windsor than I am tonight,” said Trinks.


The national anthem.

The national anthem.

Bob Bolasevich, town fire marshal, offered the firefighter tribute. He spoke movingly of the fallen firefighter’s tribute – “the tolling of the bells” – the bell tolling then ensued. Jordan Hunter, Shaneisia Bloomfield, Windsor High School alumni and Deja Russ, East Windsor sang the national anthem. Mike Noga, assistant chief of the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, played “Amazing Grace” on the bagpipes and had also led the fire department honor guard onto the town green. Don Melanson, chief of police, served as master of ceremonies.





In the closing benediction Pastor Nicole Yonkman of the First Church in Windsor spoke of both the literal and symbolic power of light.


She said, “The light shines through the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it”.