Bicentennial Celebration of Battle of Stonington- 1814

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I know my site is called Do Again, but sometimes that just isn’t an option. Sometimes you only get the chance to do something once. That is when you take the bull by the horns and dive right into the mix. This is about one of those times.

The weekend of August 9th, 2014, Stonington CT will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Stonington. In 1814, during the War of 1812, those pesky Brits decided to attack our sleepy little village and the battle raged for four days and nights. The brave residents of Stonington fought off five ships, commanded by Thomas Masterman Hardy of the British Royal Navy . Why would they bother little ole us, you ask?

They needed food. Desperately. And we had cattle.

We looked like an easy mark.

They were wrong.

The village residents had a lot of New England pluck about them and refused to surrender, which of course irked Commander Hardy to no end. So, he decided to bombard our village with cannonballs in an attempt to force us to bow down to his authority.

Here’s the problem – we weren’t a fort or military outpost, just a small fishing village. How could we prevail?

Fortunately, we had three small cannons at our disposal. Leftovers from the Revolutionary War? I don’t know.

In any case, they shot at us, we shot at them. . . . . . . Being thrifty New Englanders, we also gathered up the British cannonballs and wailed them back at the ships. Yup, we is smart. (Two of the cannons used in the battle are on permanent display in Cannon Square near the southern end of the village.)

While the Brits had much more firepower, after a few days they grudgingly gave up and limped off into the sunset. The attack did damage many homes, but the village survived. In fact, some homes still have cannonballs lodged in their walls to this day. A friend of mine has one in her basement wall.

Soon, talk about our plucky little town became “the talk of the country.” According to Mary Beth Baker, the executive director of the Stonington Historical Society, “It was a victory at a time when there were not many victories for the country. And it was a victory in a state that had reservations about the war. It was a way for Connecticut to rally behind the cause.”

For a long time, the annual celebration of The Battle of Stonington was more celebrated in town than the 4th of July. Even now, the village puts on some sort of celebration in remembrance of the eventually, but with its 200th anniversary, this year is special.

Currently, there is a curated exhibit at the La Grua Center, and special displays at the Stonington Historical Society Nathaniel Palmer House and Lighthouse. On the 10th, there will be a parade, along with a commemoration, concert, battle-themed walking tour, tall-ship cruises and a display of the tattered flag which flew during the battle.

For more information about these fun events, check out the Stonington Historical website and Stonington Borough websites It will be a grand weekend for all.

I mean really, Stonington knows how to do small town parades.

So please, do yourself a huge favor and come to Stonington for the festivities. You will be glad you did.

Photographs courtesy of Jerry J. Williams and Heather Lathrop Williams

The Sun Rules with the Sunday Farmer’s Market and a Super Cool Sun Dial

Thank heaven summer has finally arrived. And along with it comes all of the local farmer’s markets offering us tastes and smells of summer.In the winter,  the Stonington Farmer’s Market moves to the Velvet Mill on Bayview Avenue and has now moved back to the town docks for the summer location. But that isn’t the only game in town.

Denison Homestead - Mystic CTWhile I do go to the Stonington Market the most, sometimes, ahem, I sleep in too late to make it there so I must go further afield to get local ingredients. On Thursdays, Westerly has its farmer’s market near the ice skating rink and Sundays a market can be found at the Denison Homestead in Mystic. While both have a good variety of vendors I was especially surprised in a delighted way with the Sunday Market.

A few weeks ago I stumbled into the Sunday Market to visit one of my friends who is working to legalize hemp in Connecticut (the industrial plant, not the smokable one) and was surprised at the quantity of vendors. I know this market has only been around for a few years, but it is beginning to rival the selection in Stonington. One reason I believe this to be so is because of the leader, our own Mr. Davis from Davis farm, who is inviting a wide range of new vendors including a local meat purveyor, my hemp loving friend, and another cool product – a human-run sundial.

Sun Dial Time TestActually, human-run sundial is my name for it. John Geary, its inventor, calls it a Horizontal Analemmatic Sundial. John has several clients who have had him install these sculptural sundials in their gardens to delight visitors and I dare say, many schools are interested as well. I do have to say, it is quite a conversation piece. Many decide to place a special sculpture at the center of the dial to help tell time rather than using their own shadows for the effect. John spent a few minutes at the Farmer’s Market showing me how it was installed and I got to stand in for the statue to see how it worked first hand. Its kinda neat!

Want to check out some of his videos showing the whole thing in action? Just click here

The mysterious calculations to create a sun dial in your yard.

The mysterious calculations to create a sun dial in your yard.

and you can see several showing not only how it works, but also the construction process.

So, if you are like me and tend to sleep in on Saturday mornings, I suggest you try out the Sunday Market at the Denison Homestead. And if you see John and his sundial, stop by and say “Hi”, you will be glad you did.

 

CONTACT INFO:

Precision Sundial

John Geary, 860.383.3068

 

Denison Homestead Farmer’s Market

Every Sunday through mid-October, 12-3pm, 860.536.9248

Snow Day #4 – Boredom Busters

A great time to cook and eat. 

Parsley, sage, rosemary and snowI just heard a report that it is a record snowy winter in Philadelphia. Today is the fourth snowy day there that has accumulated more than 6 inches in one day. This has never happened ever. So, all of you along the east coast that are stuck inside, like me, what are you doing today?

I made Baked Eggs in Grits for breakfast and am currently making French Onion Soup – perfect snow day food. (Will post the recipe tonight when I have some pics) Last night, I made a recipe from Bon Appetit – January 2014 – Pan Roasted chicken with Harissa Chickpeas. It is cheap, easy, and tasty. I especially liked the chick peas and how the harissa warmed up my insides. Check out the link for the recipe; it is definitely worth doing again. ( I did find that I needed more water than what the recipe indicated – otherwise, the recipe was accurate.)

Snow day GamesTonight, once we get a good dose of cabin fever, we might whip out our favorite games – Cards Against Humanity  (CAH) (you can play online too!) and Things. Can play this online as well.

I know that CAH is taking the country by storm, but if you haven’t heard of it yet and you have a warped sense of humor, like my family, you need to check it out. My son got this for Christmas (he knows one of the developers of the game) and we had a blast playing it. In a nutshell, everyone pulls cards from a deck that are used to fill in the blank(s) for a statement or question the “judge” poses from another pile of cards. The goal is to see who has the funniest answer. When playing this game, make sure you feel comfortable with each other because it gets smarmy and inappropriate quite fast.

As much as I like CAH, THINGS can be even better. The major difference between the games is that THINGS doesn’t have cards for the players to choose their answer from – you need to create your own answers. So, it can get just as crazy as CAH as long as you have truly demented and creative people playing. Since the oddball answers are up to you to create, it can take a few rounds to get the proverbial “creative juices flowing,” but once everyone gets in sync it can gets even wilder and raunchier than CAH.

Also, if you choose to, THINGS can be played in a G-rated mode, but why would you do that?! Both games are available online, so get shopping and you too will have a blast during the next record-braking snow storm. Winter isn’t over yet.

Snow Day #3

DREAMING OF SUMMER

Dreaming of Summer

Join a Fun Virtual Cooking Club from the Ocean House

Jerusalem DinnerThis fall, I decided to do a first and take a cooking class. Not just any cooking class – one at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. Now if you haven’t been to The Ocean House, you don’t know the significance of this. The Ocean House is a legendary vacation destination, which was demolished and painstakingly rebuilt to its former glory. When in western Rhode Island it is a must see. Check out the website and you will understand.

 Taylor Swift lives down the road and stops by every once in a while. Just sayin’.

Anyhoo, it was a blast. And not only was the class fun, instead of holding it at the resort, it was held at the Pink House. A friend, who grew up in Watch Hill, told me the home was formerly owned by Mick Jagger. She said that they were always on Rolling Stone watch in the summer. Yup, I cooked in his kitchen. (I will now pause for that to sink in.)

It was fun. I am confident Mick knew I was there and wished he were back in Watch Hill. I could feel it in my soul.

But I digress;  this isn’t about that experience (which by the way is a definite Do Again), it is about a virtual cooking club.

You see, the other day Janice McEachen, the Food Forager for The Ocean House, (cool job, huh) contacted a bunch of us to see if we wanted to start this virtual cooking thing.

I said, “Yeeeees!” And we were off.

Cardamom Onion Ckicken It was determined that our first dish would be from the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, which I had just purchased. Janice decided our first recipe would be Chicken with Caramelized Onion and Cardamom Rice. It looked good, so off I went to the grocery store.

Now, if I am going to make a special dish, I don’t want it to be for just the husband and me, so I invited my friends Tami and David over as my official taste-testers. I also decided to try other recipes from the book, since I did own it, and chose the Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yogurt, and Buttered Pine Nuts and Clementine and Almond Syrup Cake. Sounds good, huh.

Well, it was.

Swiss Chard with Tahini Yogurt Sauce As a group, we decided that the rice and cake were the big winners. The rice was wonderfully flavored with spices and herbs and the cake was moist and sweet, yet not cloying. The chicken was a little bland, but Janice thought that if the thighs had been marinated with the spices overnight the flavors might be more pronounced. I thought brining the thighs might benefit the recipe as well.

The only other problem I had was that some of the directions for the recipes were incorrect. The Swiss chard recipe told me to squeeze the water out of the chard until dry, which made the vegetable too dense and flavorless. The picture showed a much more moist vegetable than what I ended up with  by following the directions exactly. If I made this recipe again, I would just remove most of the water.

Clementine Almond Syrup CakeAlso, the cake, batter is more of a cake paste and cannot be “poured.” I don’t make cakes often since I am more of a salty gal, rather than a sweet, (My dessert is usually another glass of wine.) so I was freaking out about this misdirection and assumed I had ruined the cake. Well, I hadn’t; it was the star of the meal.

While eating this meal was wonderful, what was even more fun was discussing this experiment via the Facebook page with everyone else who had participated. Now, this is a new group, so there aren’t a lot of us yet, but I must say, it was fun and worth doing again.

Check out the links and Facebook page provided. If you like trying new recipes and discussing your trials and tribulations in the kitchen, try it out. You will find me there!

Cabin Fever “Strikes” Big Time

Game Faces

Baby its cold outside and I am BORED. Two days of snow and no football this weekend while we all gear up for the Super Bowl – time to find a fun, warm, indoor activity to while away the hours. Why not go bowling?

About two months ago, the husband and I decided to go to Hard Rock Café at Foxwoods for lunch and afterwards took a stroll through their maze of corridors hoping to find something interesting to do. Having heard that there was a bowling/club establishment there, we went on the hunt.

 High Rollers is tucked away on a lower level of the casino near the Grand Pequot Hotel across from David Burke’s steakhouse. Look for the escalator to get to both.

Glitzy BowlingEven though we suck at bowling, we think it is fun. But, when there is a glitzy club-like atmosphere with chandeliers, dim lighting, and huge HDTVs scattered throughout, bowling is transformed into high entertainment.  After a good look around, we decided to come back with the kids to try the place out full-on.

The day of our test drive, the front area was filled with football fans. A huge TV was showing a Patriots game and all of the leather lounge chairs were filled with waitresses bustling around refilling glasses and serving food.

As we ventured deeper into the lounge, we found the U-shaped bar only half full, so decided to eat there. The service was friendly and the menu was creative, yet the food selections were still familiar enough that you knew you were in a bar.

I had the grilled salmon sandwich and homemade tater tots with truffle dipping sauce. Everyone else chose pizzas for their meals.  My sandwich was a little bit dry, but the tater tots were delicious. The pizza was a hit and Katie especially liked the spinach and artichoke pizza with boursin.

Waiting for a TurnAfter lunch, we moved over to our bowling lane, taking our refreshing adult beverages with us. Each lane is equipped with a computerized scoring system, leather couches and armchairs, and coffee table. The luxurious drapes and sparkling chandeliers add extra glitz while also providing an intimate environment, which is a nice thing to have when you aren’t exactly an amazing bowler.

What was especially surprising though was how reasonability priced both the food and bowling was. I expected to pay much more because of the surroundings and personal servers, but we didn’t. Thus, this joint is definitely worthy of Doing Again.

PS: There are also fabulous club-like bowling alleys like this in BostonCenter City Philly and just a little north of Center Philly as well. Having been to both of these places, I can attest to their worthiness as well.

Enjoy!

Heather

Beyond the Farmer’s Market @ The Velvet Mill

Each weekend the Stonington Farmer’s Market is held at the Velvet Mill, the streets get more and more crowded. Soon, I think the parking is going to overflow down my street. Especially if it keeps snowing the way it has. Yet, while the Market is packed, I wonder how many really go beyond the obvious to discover some of the other vendors and artists that inhabit this interesting revitalized factory.

This rambling building hosts a surprisingly wide-variety of businesses. I encourage you to get adventurous and poke your nose into the many wings and floors of the Velvet Mill. While not all businesses are open each Saturday, many do have their doors open for people to wander in and check out their wares.

DSCN0223If you enter the building from the main parking lot on Bayview Avenue, you will find a set of stairs in front of you. Don’t be like most people and walk by; if you go up the stairs, you will be greeted by what I like to call “The Great Hall.” This is a wonderfully bright gallery filled with paintings and sculpture by the many artists who have studios located on this floor. One of the most prominent artists is Dennis Sirine. You can’t miss his studio, because it is flanked with several of his paintings, including a large self-portrait over his studio entrance.

DSCN0228Enter his airy studio and you will find yourself surrounded by both his realistic and abstract paintings and tables. This is a must see on your weekly rounds. Oh, and if he isn’t in his studio, just go on down to the Farmer’s Market – he is often there socializing with the regulars.

Once you come back down the stairs, before you continue on to the Farmer’s Market (looking DSCN0226for Denise maybe?), stop off at Zest Bakery. This small shop is becoming a must for regulars. Zest always has a line on Saturdays, but no need to just stop by then, they are open every day except Mondays. Their baked goods are available for the impulse purchase or you can make a special request and they will take special orders. Some of the treats I have tried so far include a lemon meringue tart with a lavender/lemon zest crust for Easter, special order macarons for a graduation party, and just a double chocolate brownies, just for fun. Stop by and check it out; you will be glad you did.

DSCN0227Continue on down the corridor with a cookie and coffee in hand and you will find Indo Chic

, an import clothing company that specializes in Asian inspired clothing, which is both comfortable and well, chic! I love to look through the hangers and tables to see what is new each week. If you go around the corner, you will see even more outfits in the studio space. If you like bright colors and funky apparel, this is the place for you.

As you can see, the Farmer’s Market @ the Velvet Mill is MUCH more than just food. I mean really, I haven’t even told you about the glass and clay studios, print makers, art school, yoga studio. . . .

You get it. See you Saturday; it’s a Do Again!

Just wondering, if you went to a farmer’s market this weekend, what did you buy?

Doing New York City the Right Way

Just spent a wonderful overnight trip in New York again and thought I might give you a taste of what an event is like for the Beer Widow. First of all, you need to know that we got to the city via Philly instead of Connecticut. Having spent a fine Christmas in the City of Brotherly Love, we decided as a family unit to take on New York to see just how much we could pack into one 24 hour experience.

So, this is how it went down.

We drove into New York via the Lincoln Tunnel. This could have been a mess, but we had an EZPass so we whipped through all of the traffic quite efficiently. Thank god.

Blind Tiger

Blind Tiger

We got fairly cheap parking ($30/overnight), for Manhattan, on the upper West side and headed down to the West Village as fast as the C train could take us there. Around 3:00PM got off at 14th street and walked to 11th and Greenwich Street to visit The Spotted Pig for a snack. Had the Shoestring Fries, some marinated, warm olives and a refreshing adult beverage. Because the full menu wasn’t available due to the kitchen prepping for the dinner rush, we decided to move on down to our next favorite haunt – The Blind Tiger.

White Horse Tavern

White Horse Tavern

But, my son – a former NYC resident – waylaid us. On the way to The Bind Tiger, you walk past the White Horse Tavern. This pub was, the poet, Dylan Thomas’ haunt. My son stated that he had his last drink at the pub, went to his room at the Chelsea Hotel, and died. Not a real good PR campaign for a pub, but as we are always up for something off-beat, we decided to stop for a drink. AND, as it was an Irish pub, we felt compelled to have Jameson shots all around. Except for the daughter – she was being responsible. She did have a beer though. Fortunately, none of us died, so after this round, we headed onward to our next destination.

Murray's Cheese

Murray’s Cheese

The Blind Tiger was full to overflowing – shows how fabulous of a place it is – so we walked around Bleeker Street for a while, stopping in at Murray’s Cheese shop and the Pastry Shop across the street to get some macarons. You see, this wasn’t just a regular trip to NYC, it was my birthday and a big one at that. So, since I am not a cake fan, we went with macarons – a much better choice.

Mmmmm- macarons!

Mmmmm- macarons!

I got Pistachio, Tim and Doug got Salted Caramel, and Katie got Stawberry Poppy Seed. Now, these puppies weren’t cheap at $2.75 each, but are so decadent and less calories than cake, they were worth every cent. We decided to save them for later, so I tucked them into my pocket (in a cellophane bag, of course) and moved on out.

Blind Tiger was still too crowded, so we ate an early dinner at a Tratorria across the street. The dinner was good, but not great, so I won’t tell you the name since I don’t think it is worthy of “Doing Again.”

Instead of getting desert, remember, I have the macarons in my pocket, we decided to try the Blind Tiger again for one final time. And it worked! We all got a beer, the selection there is amazing, and then tromped back up to the Theater District for a play.

Sardi's martini - pre-show

Sardi’s martini – pre-show

Prior to the show, we stopped for drinks at Sardi’s before the show. Why do I always find myself running to shows? Could be those pre-theatre drinks. Oh well – could be worse!

We had planned this out a long time ago and purchased tickets to “The Glass Menagerie”, at the Booth Theater, hottest tickets in town right now. The show was awesome, the seats were fabulous, and at intermission we remembered the macarons and toasted a successful day!

With the curtain call over,  we are out the door heading back to the West Village. Why you say? Why to sing our hearts out at Marie’s Crisis!

Marie’s Crisis is the bar in the city for all of us Broadway musical junkies. This underground bar has a piano right in the middle with everyone, and I mean everyone, huddled around it singing every show tune you can think of. Place a few bucks in the jar and you get to pick your song. Or songs, depending on how much you give the piano man. And I am telling you, they know ALL of them. Have never seen the piano man stumped yet.

Well, we were in a rush because Shawn, my NYC GBF was waiting for us there. My husband and daughter had never been, so they were in for a surprise. This place is so popular that there was a line out the door – even at 11:30 in the evening. This might be because it was over Christmas break, but I can tell you, this place is always full. In any case, we finally connected with Sean, and sang the night away. My rendition of Tits and Ass was especially entertaining if I don’t say so myself. Finally, at around 2:00AM we decided to leave.

Pony Bar - 3 am

Pony Bar – 3 am

Did we go to our hotel room? Hell no, we went to the Pony Bar on 10th Ave! Yet another great beer bar! Unfortunately, we were quite hungry by then and upon entering the establishment, we discovered that they had just closed the kitchen 7 minutes earlier. Fortunately, the manager said I could bring food in, so the daughter and I hoofed it around the corner and ordered a falafel dinner from the Halal food truck right outside the bar. Best falafel I have ever had – I suggest you order the spicy rice too. Yum!

Finally, around 3:30, we decided to go to our hotel room. I know the city doesn’t sleep, but this woman does. Eventually.

So, all I can say is that the evening was a total success. We spent lunch the next day at The Beer Authority (great bar and restaurant) recanting all of our adventures. When it was all said and done, we hugged each other tightly, decided to meet up again in New Orleans in April to do that town right, and headed off for home – the kids to Philly and us to Connecticut.

Now that is how to do not only a birthday, but also New York City right.

Just realized, we weren’t even in town for 24 hours – we left at 1:30!

In any case, I highly suggest you try some of these places we went during our escapades. They are all, except for the Trattoria, well worth doing again. And again. And again.

Happy New Year!

Cheers!