June 20, 2021

Archives for June 2021

Ivoryton Playhouse Hosts Free Concert at Westbrook Outlet Mall, Saturday

Ryan Bloomquist and Morgan Morse. Photo by Brief Cameo Productions.

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Playhouse presents a free concert at Six Summit Gallery in the Westbrook Outlet Mall on Saturday, June 19, at 1 p.m. All are welcome.

A collaboration between the Ivoryton Playhouse and Brief Cameo Productions, Songs From The Elephant’s Trunk is a celebration of live performance, featuring concert selections both honoring the Playhouse’s past successes and looking ahead to a bright and hopeful future.

Featuring nine professional singers and musicians, the concert will include songs from Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, Oliver, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and many more.

This concert is made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation of Middlesex County.

Visit the Playhouse website or Facebook page for more information.

Share

Opening Reception for Studio 80’s ‘Summer Sculpture Showcase’ to be held Saturday, All Welcome

‘Yes’ by Joe Gitterman is one of the featured works in this year’s Summer Sculpture Showcase.

OLD LYME — An Opening Reception for Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds’ 7th Annual Summer Sculpture Showcase will be held Saturday, June 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. to celebrate the artwork on display … and a much-anticipated return to socialization! All are welcome.

The event will feature a live performance by Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and Steve Sigel.

Ramblin’ Dan Stevens will be playing with Steve Sigel during the Opening Reception.

Studio 80 + Sculpture Grounds is a vibrant community environment dedicated to arts education and appreciation on the Connecticut shoreline. Its mission is to create a bond between art, nature and community by inspiring and promoting participation in the arts.

The exhibition provides a unique opportunity for artists to showcase their sculptures in a wonderful environment specifically designed to nurture the creative arts.  This year, the Showcase features sculptural works by 20 selected artists.

Take the opportunity to wander around Gil Boro’s Sculpture Grounds and see the more than 100 sculptures on display,

In an effort to keep everyone safe and healthy, masks will be mandatory for all and social distancing measures will be practiced. If you have not been vaccinated, you are requested to consider not attending the event.

The health and well-being of the community is of paramount importance. It is for this reason that the event will be held exclusively outdoors, weather permitting, and no refreshments will be served this year. Guests are, however, welcome to BYO!

‘Sticky Chromosome’ is one of the sculptures juried into the Showcase.

Parking is available next door at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. Handicapped parking is available at the Sculpture Grounds.

Share

A la Carte: Cowboy Beans … a Sure-Fire Favorite

Lee White

I have had the requisite failures in the kitchen, and they may have been legion, but the one I remember happened decades ago and it had to do with baked beans.

We lived in our first old house in Leicester, Mass. It had massive stone kitchen fireplaces, this one with a beehive oven. That failure was on a day we invited friends for dinner.

It was a cold winter, and we had taken a few classes on hearth cooking. I decided the dessert would be a bread pudding, but I would make it in the regular oven. I knew if a meal was mediocre, dessert should be a sure-fire home run, and a dessert made with buttered bread, lots of eggs and cream, a few shots of bourbon and a caramel sauce would be one.

Good thing that dessert was terrific for I made baked beans from scratch.

I’d read lots of recipes, some from a beehive oven, others bubbling on a cast-iron pot hanging from the side of the hot over, a third right on the coals and the lid topped with more hot coals. I let the beans soak overnight in water. I used all the right ingredients with the beans: pieces of fat, brown sugar, ketchup, onions, some mustard. I let it hold on the coals for hours. We had hot dogs with the beans.

The kitchen was redolent with all the right smells.

How were the beans? Like eating buckshot, but much bigger pieces of buckshot. As friends worried about the fillings in their teeth, they smiled, kindly, but after a few bites, they ate the hot dogs.

The bread pudding was wonderful.

There had been plenty of beer and wine. 

I no longer make from-scratch baked beans. Today I just doctor canned beans. Sometimes I just doctor Bush Beans Original beans. They rarely need much doctoring. But here is a recipe that would work every time … and no need to worry about your fillings!

Cowboy Beans

From Savory magazine by Stop & Shop, June, 2021 (free from the supermarket)
Yield: serves 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped (I always use a sweet onion)
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef (85 percent is fine, too)
2 15.5 ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 ounce can reduced-sodium beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup smoky barbecue sauce
½ cup strongly ground coffee
2 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil on medium-high. Add onion and jalapenos and cook 5 to 6 minutes, until tender, stirring often.

Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring.

Add ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring and breaking up beef with oven.

To Dutch oven, add beans, barbecue sauce and coffee. Stir to combine.

Heat to a boil on high and then reduce to a simmer. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened and beef is cooked through, stirring occasionally.

Stir in mustard. Season with salt and pepper.

Share

After Year of Closure, Gillette Castle Interior Re-opens to Public 

Harold “Tyke” and Theodora “Teddie” Niver – appearing as William and Helen Gillette – stand on the terrace overlooking the Connecticut River at the century-old home of the late Connecticut actor. After a year of pandemic-imposed closure, the structure has re-opened for the 2021 season. Photo courtesy of Kelly Hunt, Capture the Moment Photography.

EAST HADDAM, Conn. – For the first time since late 2019, Gillette Castle has re-opened and will be available for public visits during Gillette Castle State Park’s regular opening hours, park officials said. 

Because of the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mansion built a century ago by the late stage actor William Gillette remained closed throughout 2020 in accord with Connecticut’s official policy for all indoor facilities associated with state parks. 

The park’s grounds are open from 8 a.m. until sunset daily, offering visitors a chance to use the park’s varied hiking trails, stroll around Gillette’s unique home and perhaps spot the eagles that frequently nest with their young along the river at many times of the year. 

Self-paced tours of the structure are to be conducted from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. daily, with each day’s final tour starting at 4 p.m. After Labor Day, tours will be conducted only on weekends through Columbus Day. Tickets are $6 and may be obtained at the Castle entrance on the day of visit. 

State officials report that ticket sales will also be available for pre-purchase for up to 12 individuals for specific time slots at 15-minute intervals. To guarantee a slot, advance purchase is recommended. To pre-reserve, guests in time will be able to check online at the Reserve America website (tinyurl.com/4ty5e59p) under “Gillette Castle State Park Tours.” 

In anticipation of the official opening May 29, a limited “soft opening” of the structure’s interior one week earlier allowed park officials and tour guides to practice their presentations with members of the Friends of Gillette Castle State Park, who received a “sneak peek” in exchange.

Most Connecticut state park buildings, museums, nature centers and other enclosed structures were opened on Memorial Day weekend. Under the state’s guidelines, six feet of social distancing must be maintained at all times while inside park buildings. Masks will be required inside the structure, regardless of vaccination status.

“The home of William Gillette is the true centerpiece of this wonderful park, and it was frustrating for us not to be able to share this jewel’s inner beauty and wonders with everyone,” said Lynn Wilkinson, president of the Friends organization. “Now, thanks to a lot of hard work by many people, we’re excited to say that it’s ready to go back on display.”

The park is nestled between the towns of East Haddam and Lyme. Many of its trails follow a former railroad bed created for a narrow-gauge track installed by the late Connecticut stage actor, who built his castle-like home atop one of the Seven Sister Hills along the river. 

Trail maps and videos of the estate may be found on the Friends website at www.gillettecastlefriends.org. Those interested in becoming a Friends member may sign up online or download a mail-in application form at the website, or direct their questions to info@gillettecastlefriends.org or (860) 222-7850. 

The organization’s mission includes the preservation, restoration and conservation of the historic structure and its scenic grounds. The all-volunteer, nonprofit group works in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Memberships help to finance park and structural improvements while preserving the estate and Gillette’s legacy.

Share

Essex Land Trust Hosts Annual Concert in the Park, Saturday

ESSEX — Need an outdoor outing to leave the COVID-19 confinement behind?

The Essex Land Trust is hosting a live music concert Saturday, June 12, from 5 to 7 p.m.  at the Main Street Town Park in Essex. The concert will feature Melaena, a band that has been built on a foundation of musicianship, showmanship and professionalism mixed with raw talent.

The event is intended as a BYO picnic and concert.  Bring chairs, blankets. Relax or Dance! 

Melaena is a 6-piece cover band based out of Norwich, CT whose sole mission is to execute music that “makes you want to dance.” For over 30 years, Melaena has been performing songs from every decade, from Top 40 to Motown to classic rock to current hits; ranked as one of the top covers and wedding bands in the area. 

While the concert will be outdoors, it is asked that participants maintain social distance throughout the event.

Bad weather cancels. 

For any additional information, email info@essexlandtrust.org.

Share

Essex Land Trust Hosts Canoe/Kayak Trip to South Cove, Saturday

ESSEX — Want to explore Essex’s South Cove?

On Saturday, June 12, from 1 to 3 p.m. take the opportunity to bring your kayak or canoe for an early summer trip to South Cove, led by the Essex Land Trust’s Jeff Croyle.

Meet at the public boat launch below Essex Town Park, on Main Street Essex. No advance registration required but participants need to sign a waiver starting at 12:30 p.m. and launch their own boats prior to the 1 p.m. departure.

A safety boat will accompany.

Bad weather cancels.

As the event will be exclusively outdoors, COVID regulations are not in force and facemasks are optional.

For any additional information, email info@essexlandtrust.org.

Share