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

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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

Pan Sautéed Flounder – A Family Favorite

This one is for my kids because it is one of their favorite dishes. We live in a seaport town that has the last commercial fishing fleet in Connecticut and have the luxury of getting fish literally right off the boat. Flounder, along with scallops and lobster,  is one of the main products harvested by our local fishermen.

The "kids"; awesome aren't they.

The “kids”; awesome aren’t they.

I know this recipe, if you want to call it that, is ridiculously simple, but it is wonderful. And when you eat it you feel healthy and happy; at least my kids do. Sure hope they make this soon in their own apartments. Or come home. I will be happy to make it for them!

Servings: 1 (can be multiplied easily)

  • ½ cup flour
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 fillet of flounder
  • lemon

Place the flour, salt, and pepper in a wide bowl. Mix to combine.

Place the butter and olive oil in a sauté pan. Heat over medium high heat until the butter is melted and has stopped bubbling. (The bubbling is the water in the butter boiling off. Once it stops bubbling, the water has evaporated and it is ready for cooking.)

Lightly dusted flounderMeanwhile, dry the founder fillet and dip it into the seasoned flour on both sides. Remove it from the flour and shake off the excess.

Place the flounder in the sauté pan and cook for about  2 minutes. With a spatula, gently turn the flounder over and cook until done. This will just take a few minutes. The flounder should be golden brown.

Flounder sizzlin' awayRemove the flounder from the pan, plate and place a wedge of lemon along side it. We like to serve it with rice topped with black sesame seeds and minced scallions. A green salad with a lemon vinaigrette is a perfect vegetable for the dish.

This my friends, is a BIG Do Again in our household. As long as you have high quality fish, this is a delectable treat. And healthy.

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?

Stonington Farmer’s Market at the Velvet Mill has a Brooklyn Vibe

beer tasting  Living in Stonington, CT there are a few things that are considered must dos.

  • Picnics on Sandy Point
  • Watching the sun set at Whalen’s Wharf
  • Getting the New York Times at Tom’s Newstand
  • And going to the Farmer’s Market at the Town Docks.

But what’s a girl to do in the wintertime? It is too cold to go to Sandy Point and Whalen’s Wharf. I still need my NY Times and Tom’s is great, but that isn’t enough. Thank goodness the Farmer’s Market is still running throughout the winter at the Velvet Mill (Bayview Avenue, Stonington, CT). This bustling Saturday event is a cornucopia (heh, heh – sometimes I just make myself laugh)  of  food, crafts, music, neighbors, and beer.  Fun times!

Did you just say “beer?”

Yup, sure did. Keep reading. . .

Last Saturday, I decided to take my son, who was visiting from Philly – one of my favorite cities – over to the mill to show him all the fun. He used to live

Free concert at the market!

Free concert at the market!

in Brooklyn and I thought that he might enjoy the Market at the Mill since it definitely has a “Brooklyny” (is that a word?) aura to it. With an empty growler in hand, we took the short walk from our home to see what treasures would be there this week.

As we entered the mill, we heard a trio of musicians playing jaunty, olde timey music. What fun! The tune added a festive tone  to the event that both adults and children seemed to enjoy. And they were selling their own CDs which would make great stocking stuffers! While that was enjoyable, that was not our goal. We needed food. It was time to move on.

Although there weren’t as many vendors as usual, probably because of the holiday weekend, the assortment of products available was varied and plentiful. Our first stop was at the bread table to purchase a rustic loaf of country bread. I felt quite lucky to get it since the previous week, by the time I had gotten there, the vendor had packed up, having sold out. The line is usually long, so as I have learned my lesson – get there early.

davis farmNext on the list was our quest for fresh veggies.  Sadly, my vendor that sells sun chokes was not there, so I had to fulfill my veggie purchases with locally grown garlic and stone milled corn from the oldest farm in CT – Davis Farm (see a short video about the farm here). Pretty cool, huh. Since my larder was already full of fall apples, squash, and leeks from Thanksgiving, I didn’t need a lot. That’s okay though, just gives me a reason to return this weekend.

Lastly, we went to Stoney Ledge Farm, the local meat purveyor, and bought a package of oxtails for soup (recipe to come soon). They have a great selection of local, organic frozen meats that are top quality. They also sell  produce, eggs, and preserved fruits. With at least three generations working the booth, they are a true family farm.

By this time, Doug and I were getting a little parched so we strolled over to Beer’d Brewery for some beer

Beer'd Brewery

Beer’d Brewery

tasting. As you can see by the picture, we had quite a few tastings and they were all quite different and delicious. Now Tim would have been happy to attend this event with us, which we do almost every week, but he was brewing his own beer at home, so it was our job, poor us, to choose the beer for our weekly growler. After much sipping, Doug chose Midnight Oil Stout – it had a low ABV with a luscious mouth feel. Tim approved.

What I like the most about this Winter’s Farmer’s Market is that it has that city-feel that I so love. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is cool to have it down at the Town Docks in the summer, but to have it in a Velvet Mill, just down the road from my house is pretty awesome too. The vibe at the mill is much more urban and since I love cities, it gratifies me greatly. And from the attendance at these Saturday markets, it seems to satisfy many others as well.

So, all I can say is that if you have about an hour to kill and want to spend some time in Stonington, why not try the Farmer’s Market. We, along with many others, feel it is a Do Again. Look for me this Saturday. I am sure I will be there!

Cheers!

Sunrise from my back porch

Sunrise from my porch.

Sunrise from my porch.

I sure think this is beautiful. Makes me realize that winter isn’t so bad. If it were summer all of the time, there would always be leaves on the trees and I wouldn’t have this gorgeous view.

Might have to become a Ninja, go on a stealth mission at night to cut down a few of my neighbor’s trees. Anyone want to help me?