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NEWS&VIEWS by Jacqueline Bennett

National Soup Month Tour 2020 Creates The Unintentional Soup Critic

Posted on January 24, 2020

Cabbage Soup from Rein’s Deli in Vernon, CT

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

The Unintentional Soup Critic – me -enjoying sausage/vegetable soup at The Vanilla Bean in Pomfret, Ct.

 

On a lark last week I began posting my favorite soups on social media upon learning that January is National Soup Month. Launched on January 18, my “soup tour” is slated to wrap up on January 27 and has created “The Unintentional Soup Critic ” ~  me ! I’ve been having so much fun with my “soup tour” that I decided to write about it on newsandviewsjb. If you are reading this article, not only will you see the soups I selected thus far, but you will also get a sneak peek at what is coming in the next three days.

 

Shady Glen’s minestrone soup.

On day one of my “soup tour” I featured minestrone soup from Shady Glen Restaurant & Dairy Bar in Manchester, CT – an iconic soup at an iconic spot having recently marked its 70th anniversary. As with many items on the Shady Glen menu I grew up enjoying their minestrone soup. Chock filled with beef, vegetables, and, accented with a delicious broth, not only does this soup taste good but it is soothing to my stomach. If I ever moved away from CT, no doubt I would have to return periodically just to have Shady Glen’s minestrone soup !

 

Lobster Bisque at Main Street Grille, Niantic, CT

How much do I love lobster bisque? A lot. If it is on the menu that is generally my choice, therefore on day two of my “soup tour” I put together a losbsterpalooza. I mentioned lobster bisque at Harry’s Place in Colchester , CT,  that consistently has nice chucks of lobster in their not too heavy, not too light bisque. In addition, a mention to the Main Street Grille in Niantic, CT, Lenny & Joe’s Fish Tale in Westbrook or Madison, CT, The Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis, MA, and, a lobster & corn chowder that was a holiday special at Au Bon Pain at Westfarms Mall in West Hartford/Farmington.

 

Award-winning New England Clam Chowder at the Black Cat Tavern

My own New England Clam Chowder

Bragging about New England Clam Chowder is  easy when there are so many great chowders from which to choose. Modesty aside, I spoke of my own, which if I do say so myself is pretty popular. As well, Lenny & Joe’s came up again. Saving the best for last, you must try Hyannis’ The Black Cat Tavern’s award-winning New England Clam Chowder ~ or as we say in New England – chowdah. 

 

Shrimp & corn Chowder at Castello of Niantic in CT.

Next up was a corn & shrimp chowder enjoyed at Castello of Niantic. As I explained in my social media post, this restaurant can be found slightly off the-beaten-path, yet not too far from Rocky Neck State Park and Beach. You may have guessed by now that I like seafood, so when a menu combines soup with seafood – I’m there. In case you have any questions about it, chowders and bisque are considered soups because they have broth/stock base.

 

Sausage/Vegetable Soup at The Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, CT

“To Bean or Not To Bean – Is It Really a Question?” This clever take-off on one of William Shakespeare’s most famous lines, I saw on a tee shirt worn by a waiter at the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, CT.  Easily one of the most popular destinations in the state, The Vanilla Bean is known for its soups – one of my favorites is the sausage/ vegetable.

 

Stirring the pot at the Annual chili Challenge of Donald Trinks’ award-winning chili in Windsor, CT.

Bragging rights for one of the best chilis in Connecticut goes to Donald Trinks, who also happens to be mayor of Windsor, CT.

In the culinary world there is debate as to whether or not chili is a soup. For the purposes of my “soup tour” I’m siding with those who say it is. It gave the chance for a big shout out to Windsor, CT Mayor Donald Trinks’ award-winning chili. I so enjoy it.  Available at Mayor Don’s restaurant in Windsor, CT – Bart’s Drive-In and The Beanery Bistro ~ or for a taste, plan to come by Windsor’s Chili Challenge held each October.

 

Cabbage Soup at Rein’s Deli in Vernon, CT.

We have made it to today – Friday – January 24. Time to praise Rein’s Deli’s selection of soups. Among my preferences here, cabbage, green pea and matzo ball. Rein’s is a must stop for travelers driving from New York to Boston or vice-versa. I have not encountered cabbage soup elsewhere. Rein’s is made with a subtle flavor, and a bonus, cabbage soup is supposed to be good for your health.

Onion soup at the Lion’s Den – courtesy pic

An American classic – The Black Dog on Martha’s Vineyard a.k.a. “The Vineyard.”

Creamy Tomato Basil from Panera.

Now comes a sneak peek at what’s on tap for my “soup tour” this weekend. Tomorrow, Sat., onion soup at the Lion’s Den in Stockbridge MA. On Sunday, a nod to the Creamy Tomato Basil at Panera. 

Come Monday I plan to spotlight a fait accompli of classic soups ~ chicken noodle. I cannot think of a better place to partake of an American classic that at an American classic restaurant, the Black Dog Tavern on Martha’s Vineyard Island. There it is made with chucks of roasted pulled chicken, fresh herbs and veggies – oh my !!

 

Happy souping !

 

*Soups are typically high in sodium so as someone who watches salt intake I balance my selections.

*Revised. P.S. ~ Turned out I wrapped up my “soup tour” on Jan. 25

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 newsandviewsjb.com

 

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 newsandviewsjb.com

 

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 mychaplainvalley.com.

 

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 newsandviewsjb.com

 

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 newsandviewsjb.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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 treesforlife.org. 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: ecoenchantments.com 

Averting Ecological Tragedy After Human Tragedy of WW II Bomber Crash in Windsor Locks, Connecticut

Posted on October 5, 2019

High-res version

 

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

A mystique surrounds World War II & the Greatest Generation which saved the world from tyranny. Nostalgia and fascination continue nearly 75 years later over the bravado of the dashing, young pilots who flew American fighter and bomber planes, and for the planes which helped the Allies win. Aviation enthusiasts and history buffs are eager to ride in the vintage planes that are still piloted around the country performing in air shows, and offer a chance to experience flight on the revered relics of a bygone era.

 

 

When news broke Wednesday morning October 2, 2019 about the crash of one such flight, a WW II B-17 G at Bradley International Airport (BIA) in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, it clearly hit residents across the state hard; a treasured piece of American history up in smoke – not invincible. Then the news got worse – the crash was deadly. The toll of lives lost in the crash now stands at seven plus several more injured, two victims had to be transported from Hartford Hospital to the Bridgeport burn unit.

 

 

Photo Jacqueline Bennett ~ shows the Farmington River as it flows through Windsor, CT.

 

With concern about the “human tragedy” of the B-17 crash uppermost in his mind, it became incumbent upon Windsor Mayor Donald Trinks to also consider an “ecological tragedy” that could be impending, he noted during an interview Thursday. Chemical contamination moving downstream as a result of the B-17 crash was on the mayor’s mind, after leakage this past summer of perfluonooctanic acid (PFAS) into the Farmington River – which flows through Windsor.

 

“First and foremost our concern is with the safety of everybody up there,” Mayor Trinks said during an interview along the banks of the Farmington River Thursday, Oct. 3.

 

Approximately 50,000 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemical – thought to cause health risks such as cancer – had leaked this past summer from a hangar at BIA into the Metropolitan District Water Pollution Control Facility located in Windsor. The contaminated water was then dumped into the Farmington River which flows through town. State and local officials including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, State Attorney General William Tong, State Rep. Jane Garibay and Mayor Trinks, supported the formation of a state task force to investigate the health of the river, its fish and the safety of continued use of the firefighting foam.

 

 

In that the B-17 crashed into a de-icing building, in addition to PFAS, that meant there could also be drainage downstream into Windsor of a de-icing chemical, as well as, jet fuel. Crediting the quick response of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Airport Authority, Mayor Trinks said at this juncture, drainage appears to have been limited to the “northern most” part of Rainbow Brook. Skimming and booms have been used to facilitate containment. Most has been contained on-site at the airport, he said.

 

Photo from LOHud.com shows smoke billowing at the crash site.

 

The B-17 G bomber that crashed was owned by the Collings Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation. On its website the foundation has posted a message, “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight and we will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley.”

 

During a news conference broadcast Thursday, Katie Dykes, state DEEP commissioner, said samples had been taken from eleven sites along the Farmington River. Results from the testing will be forthcoming, she said. Mayor Trinks adds that clean-up and monitoring are expected to continue.  

 

Where Is Joe Hackett When You Need Him?

Posted on September 24, 2019

Joe Hackett, co-owner of Sandpiper Air on Nantucket – a.k.a actor Tim Daly. Photos from Facebook Mill Creek Entertainment..

By Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb.com

 

Where is Joe Hackett when you need him ?

 

I try never to say “never”, but I do NOT like to fly. About the only plane I can imagine myself boarding is Sandpiper Air piloted by handsome Joe Hackett ( who must be wearing his leather bomber jacket) en route to Hyannis, The Vineyard or Nantucket’s Tom Nevers Field airport. 

 

As real as Hyannis, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are (some of my favorite places) ~ for those who may not remember, sensible yet intriguing Joe (who is a big New England sports fan and himself a former scholastic baseball and football player), Sandpiper and Nevers Field are fictional, existing in the world of the 1990’s sitcom “Wings.” So you can see how unlikely it is that I will be flying. 

 

Having decided to write this piece I researched Joe Hackett, a.k.a actor Tim Daly. Turns out Daly was graduated from Bennington College in Vermont with a BA in theatre and literature. No wonder he was able to depict the New England demeanor so well !

 

With some family members now living on the West Coast I am pleased, very pleased actually, to think they would like me to come visit. Nonetheless, I like my feet on the ground; travelling cross-country by train or car seems to be too much.

 

A native New Englander, I enjoy getting behind the wheel of a SUV and taking in the glorious New England states. The writer/photographer in me loves snapping photos and of course the allure of a story or two I may encounter …

 

As for Joe Hackett, at least if we went down my demise would include destinations I adore & ~ last, but far from least ~ a very handsome pilot.