Holidays

By Heidi Sutton

The Long Island State Veterans Home (LISVH) in Stony Brook honored our fallen heroes with a Memorial Day ceremony on May 24.

The special event featured speeches from Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley); Colonel James McDonough Jr., director of the New York State Division of Veterans Services; County Executive Steve Bellone (D); and was attended by many veterans living at the LISVH, elected officials including Assemblyman Steve Engelbright (D-Setauket) and Comptroller John Kennedy Jr. (R) and many veteran service organization members. 

Rabbi Joseph Topek gave the invocation, Rev. Gregory Leonard gave the benediction, Father Thomas Tuite gave a Veterans Prayer and Lee Ann Brill, Miss NY Senior America 2017, sang lovely renditions of “Star Spangled Banner,” “Wind Beneath My Wings, “Amazing Grace and “God Bless America.”

The afternoon commenced with a wreath laying ceremony conducted by James Carbone, World War II veteran and LISVH member, at the Walk of Heroes on the grounds; a color guard, firing detail and taps memorial by Marine Corps League East End Detachment 642, and a “Tolling of the Bells” memorial service led by LTC Marion McEntee, deputy director of nursing at the LISVH.

Rabbi Topek said it best in his opening prayer. “Today we remember those who have laid down their lives in service of our country, who in the words of President Lincoln have laid the most costly sacrifice upon the altar of freedom … May we the citizens of the United States remain mindful of those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom in the many conflicts of the past — Veterans of World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam, Persian Gulf War … May their memories always be a blessing to our nation today and every day.”

Photos courtesy of Doreen Guma and Congressman Zeldin’s office

In honor of Memorial Day, Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park hosted its annual Parade of Flags, while VFW’s in Rocky Point and Sound Beach took the time May 27 to memorialize those servicemen and servicewomen lost throughout the years.

Joe Cognitore, the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249 in Rocky Point, read the names of 204 people who have died in the service of the U.S., with each set of names said to the sound of a bell. He said the number of names he reads every Memorial Day grows every year.

Over in Sound Beach, the Sound Beach Civic, along with members of the Sound Beach Fire Department, hosted their own ceremony at the Sound Beach Veterans Memorial. Flags flew at half mast, but veterans of each branch of service, from the U.S. Military, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, helped raise each of the flags high to the bright, sunny sky. Members of the Miller Place Boy Scouts of America Troop 204 played an echo version of taps.

“Flowers, memorials and flags at half staff, and the sad notes of taps, as meaningful as they are, they are not enough,” Cognitore said. What we really must do to honor their sacrifice is to live what they died for.”

 

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Members and compatriots of the American Legion Wilson Ritch Post 432 in Port Jefferson Station hosted their annual Memorial Day commemoration at Veterans Memorial Park right in front of Port Jefferson Harbor.

After a presentation of the colors and the wreath laying, veterans moved the flags to half-mast. The group moved onto the Three Village area, where they participated in the unveiling of a newly rejuvenated veterans memorials in Stony Brook Village and the Setauket Village Green. The work is being done with the efforts of Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) and several local veteran groups and has been funded through outside donations. This first phase of the project was completed by Memorial Day, and the second phase is expected to revitalize the Setauket Veterans Memorial Park and the Port Jefferson Veterans Memorial Park by Veterans Day this fall.

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Craig McNabb with former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Photo from Rich Acritelli

By Rich Acritelli

“Each of the patriots whom we remember on this day was first a beloved son or daughter, a brother or sister, or a spouse, friend and neighbor.”

The above feelings were expressed by former President George H.W. Bush, who was a combat aviator during World War II in the Pacific and in Asia.  These national sentiments will be felt this week as people will begin to reflect on contributions that have been made by members of every armed service to protect American ideals. While this holiday was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, every year the United States pauses to honor all of the men and women who have militarily sacrificed for our country. This Monday, veterans from across this country will recall their own efforts of service at home and abroad.

The Cognitore family. Photo from Rich Acritelli

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, Joe Cognitore, now the commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6249 in Rocky Point,  grew up playing football and running track at Farmingdale High School.  Once he graduated in 1964, he went to Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota and was drafted into the army in 1969 towards the end of the Vietnam War. Cognitore is an extremely likable figure who has always been drawn toward leadership positions. This was no different in South Vietnam, as he was a platoon sergeant involved in heavy fighting against the Vietcong and North Vietnamese army in Cambodia. For his efforts to care for his men and to distinguish himself in battle, the VFW commander was awarded the Bronze Star.

Once Cognitore returned home from South Vietnam, he wanted to get back to civilian life, to get a job and start a family. This longtime management figure for Coca-Cola was briefly a substitute social studies teacher in Longwood, where he enjoyed working with students and coaching them in sports. Cognitore is one of the many 2.5 million Vietnam veterans who were not warmly received by the American public once they arrived home. Unlike the World War II veterans who were thrown parades and given yellow ribbons, some of these veterans were cast aside by a government that wanted to forget this Cold War struggle.  For two decades, Cognitore coped with the war through the love of his wife Cathy and his two boys Joseph and Christopher. For 31 years, Cognitore was employed at Coca-Cola, where he was promoted to management positions.

It was not until Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 that Cognitore became a major figure within the Rocky Point VFW post. Next to other veterans, Cognitore raised money for necessary materials that were sent to local residents who were deployed during the military campaigns of Desert Storm and Shield. The VFW commander  was also a key figure to raise funds for the athletic programs of Rocky Point High School when it faced austerity in the early 1990s. Since the moment that Hussein started the Gulf War, Cognitore has constantly been a vital fixture at this post to greatly help the communities of the North Shore.

It is the daily routine of Cognitore to attend meetings at government buildings in Hauppauge or Albany, or speak with political leaders in Washington D.C., addressing veterans affairs. While he is now in his 70s, Cognitore has shown no signs of slowing down and ensuring the men and women who have been deployed since the War on Terror began are adequately cared for by this country. For the last 12 years, Cognitore assisted the organization of a Wounded Warrior Golf Outing that has raised more than $200,000 for those local citizens who have returned home with traumatic injuries. His VFW also sponsored the creation of one of the largest 9/11 memorials in Suffolk County at the Diamond in the Pines Park in Coram. Most recently, Post 6249 was a sponsor to ensure that the Rocky Point High School Veterans Wall of Honor was properly funded to build this structure for past, present and future service members. 

In the summer, this veterans organization, spearheaded by Cognitore, has also been the driving force behind the Rocky Point concert series that has brought in talented musicians like Mike DelGiudice’s Billy Joel Big Shot band. And closer to home, his son Joseph has just been promoted to the rank of colonel and he graduated from the immensely difficult Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  He is a proud grandfather who has always wanted to help others.

John Fernandez. Photo from Rich Acritelli

Another local veteran who fondly looks at Memorial Day with extreme pride is Shoreham resident John Fernandez. This talented lacrosse player and wrestler graduated from Rocky Point High School in 1996 and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2001. When he was deciding which college to attend, Fernandez was influenced by the wartime involvement of his older family members to achieve a military education. On this date, Fernandez thinks about both of his grandfathers who fought during World War II in the Pacific and in Anzio, Italy.  

Fernandez left the academy in June 2001, and with Shoreham resident Gabriel “Buddy” Gengler, they drove to their first training station at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  While both men were from the rival schools of Rocky Point and Shoreham-Wading River, they share a tremendous bond with each other. For more than a decade, they have tirelessly pushed for increased awareness to properly assist soldiers gravely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. They represent the newest generation of veterans who are motivated to ensure the strength of this nation at home and abroad.

It was at Fort Sill that Fernandez was instructed in the operation and firing of artillery guns. As he left West Point during a time of peace, this quickly changed on Sept. 11, 2001.  This young officer continued his development by being sent to Fort Irwin in California, where Fernandez participated in major war games. He learned the significance of logistics, supply, armor, infantry and artillery at these exercises. A short time later, he was ordered to Fort Knox where he instructed West Point cadets. As a lacrosse captain in high school and college, Fernandez is a natural-born leader who enjoyed guiding these prospective officers. In 2003, Fernandez was handpicked to be a platoon leader of an artillery battery that opened the primary attack into Iraq during the Second Gulf War.

Once this assault began, this talented lacrosse player who was known as “Spanish Lightning” headed north with thousands of other soldiers towards Baghdad. On April 3, 2003 as his artillery guns were preparing to shell and eventually take Hussein’s national airport near the capital, Fernandez was severely wounded. As he was cared for in the field by the medics, the very next day this vital objective was taken by American soldiers. While Fernandez was treated in Iraq and Kuwait, the war was over for him. His injuries were so severe that he eventually lost the complete use of the lower portion of his legs.  

Ever the optimist, Fernandez stated that he received a tremendous amount of attention from the moment that he was hit to the time that he spent at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. He was later transferred to a larger military medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland, which was better equipped to treat the increased number of casualties from the increased fighting. Once he received his prosthetic legs, Fernandez returned back to his sweetheart Kristi, rented a home in Rocky Point and began physical therapy.  Although he was terribly hurt in Iraq, Fernandez positively identified how fast he was discharged from this hospital and it fostered a faster return home to rehabilitate on his own.  The VFW under Cognitore wanted to properly ensure that Fernandez was thanked by this community. Outside of Post 6249, Cognitore successfully petitioned the Town of Brookhaven to rename the local street in the honor of Fernandez.  

The following year after he was hurt in Iraq, Fernandez’s daughter Madison was born in 2004. The vet went back to school at Dowling where he earned his master’s degree in education to teach mathematics. Along the way, John continued the process of walking again and his high school lacrosse coach Michael P. Bowler never doubted the drive of his former player.  

“John was one of the most determined and courageous athletes that was ever my privilege to coach to exceptional athlete, student and most importantly — a genuine good man,” Bowler said. 

In 2006, he was offered a position to work for the Wounded Warrior Project. It was at this charitable organization that Fernandez raised money and awareness to assist returning veterans who endured overwhelming medical difficulties. Armed with a big smile and a can-do attitude, Fernandez sat in meetings with major corporate leaders, politicians and owners of the National Football League. Just recently, he met President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence.  Today, Fernandez has a family of five children, and enjoys coaching his kids, going on school trips and speaking about his experiences at his former high school and around the nation.  His eyes are always set to help all of those members of the armed forces who have endured combat-related hardships through their defense of the U.S.

The LaRusso boys, with Kevin second from left. Photo from Rich Acritelli

Another graduate of Rocky Point High School who also attended the West Point Military Academy was Kevin LoRusso. Like Fernandez, he was a talented athlete who excelled at soccer, wrestling and lacrosse. This student-athlete was known as K-Lo, and was well-liked for his calm presence during all athletic competitions. After a year at the prep school for this military academy, LoRusso entered West Point in 2005. Although he was also recruited by the Naval Academy to play lacrosse, this cadet chose Army, as he did not want to compete against his older brother Nicholas who was a goalie on this team. This dynamic athlete had won more than 100 wrestling matches in high school and was later determined to win a national championship at West Point.  He was one of many Rocky Point lacrosse players who attended this school and was later named captain for his leadership skills. While LoRusso was a competitive lacrosse player who loved this sport, his true responsibilities rested in being a devoted army officer.

LoRusso is one of four brothers, including Nicholas, Brian and Larry, who all attended West Point and played lacrosse. Three of them became artillery officers. The oldest brother Nicholas is a major who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat engineer. From 2010-2012, LoRusso was deployed to Afghanistan and to Germany, serving in the northeastern part of Afghanistan near Mazar-i-Sharif. This area is a unique combination of desert, mountains and flat plains. There, LoRusso encountered heavy fighting against the Taliban, which widely contested the strength of American forces in this region. As LoRusso is known for his calmness, he is sometimes reminded of the fighting when fireworks are unexpectedly detonated near him. This combat veteran took advantage of being sent to Germany where LoRusso and his buddies traveled to more than thirty nations.  He has the fond memories of being with his army friends as they visited France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Netherlands and Turkey.  On Memorial Day, LoRusso goes about his daily routines, but always in the back of his mind he thinks of the contributions that have been made by his family and friends who wore a uniform and sacrificed for this country.

Craig R. McNabb was an active kid who participated in football and baseball at Rocky Point High School. As he grew up with his friends and nearby family members, he was always eager to join the army. His father, Craig Sr., worked as a Suffolk County sheriff and he was a member of the Army National Guard that was ordered to Kuwait.   Like Fernandez, McNabb was one of the earliest soldiers into Iraq during the start of the second Gulf War. Ten years later and during his senior year, McNabb enlisted into the same type of Army National Guard unit and occupation that his father held as a combat military officer.

Directly after he graduated high school, McNabb finished his basic training and advanced individual training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. For two years, he was one of the younger combat military officers in his National Guard unit based out of Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn. In 2016, McNabb was handpicked to be deployed to Afghanistan to carry out the sensitive security details of protecting American generals from every branch and foreign dignitaries. With his team, McNabb was responsible for protecting former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and James Mattis. McNabb was sent to a NATO military base in Kabul to carry out this vital mission to ensure the security of leaders that were defying the Taliban.

Craig McNabb in Afghanistan. Photo from Rich Acritelli

For about a year, McNabb ran more than 700 missions to ensure that these key figures were able to carry out their business within that perilous county. Currently, McNabb is a specialist/E-4 and he will soon be eligible to be promoted as a sergeant. This North Shore family shares a rare military bond that is not always seen. After the 9/11 attacks, McNabb was quickly sent into New York City to help the people who were suffering from the terrorist attack. He spent 15 months fighting in Iraq, where he traveled to every major Iraqi city, cleared homes that were occupied by insurgents, conducted patrols and trained police.  There is a unique family connection towards this military police job to assist American army forces in their mission to not only fight, but to provide a better life for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.

This capable young man is still serving in the National Guard and only a couple of months ago, McNabb became a Suffolk County correctional officer. While he is still a young man, McNabb has immensely grown through his experiences in the military, where he has matured into a seasoned veteran. He would like people to think about the importance of Memorial Day and thank those people who have fought in distant lands to ensure that our way of life is not threatened.  

Thank you to all of the veterans of the Armed Forces who continually make this nation proud of their unyielding spirit to always strengthen the resolve of the U.S.  As a North Shore community, we do not have to look far to see the many numerous examples of patriotism as we remember our military on Memorial Day 2019.

Rich Acritelli is a social studies teacher at Rocky Point High School and an adjunct professor of American history at Suffolk County Community College.

‘Remember those who served before.

Remember those who are no more. 

Remembers those who serve today.

Remember them all on Memorial Day.’

— Emily Toma

*All events take place on May 27.

Commack

Organized by the VFW Elwood-Commack Post 9263, a Memorial Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. at the Home Depot parking lot at the intersection of Larkfield Road and Jericho Turnpike and head east on Jericho Turnpike to junction at Veterans Highway to Cannon Park for a ceremony. Call 631-368-9463.

East Northport

Organized by the Father Judge Council Knights of Columbus, the East Northport Memorial Day Parade will kick off at noon at Clay Pitts and Larkfield roads and proceed to John Walsh Memorial Park adjacent to Northport-East Northport Library. Call 631-262-1891.

Photo by Rita J. Egan 2018

East Setauket 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars East Setauket Post 3054 will hold its annual Three Village Memorial Day Parade in East Setauket at 11 a.m. Parade starts at the corner of Main Street and Route 25A with an opening ceremony at the Village Green across from the library and a closing ceremony at Memorial Park along Route 25A. Call 631-751-5541 for more info.

Farmingdale

Farmingdale Village will host a Memorial Day parade at 10 a.m. with kick off at Thomas Powell Blvd. and Bethpage Road, proceeds south on Main Street, ending at Village Hall. A ceremony will follow. Call 516-249-0093.

Greenlawn 

Organized by the Greenlawn Fire Department, a Memorial Day parade will kick off at 9 a.m. on East Maple Road, south on Broadway to Greenlawn Memorial Park, at the corner of Pulaski Road and Broadway. Call 631-261-9106.

Huntington

The Town of Huntington will host a Memorial Day Wreath Ceremony at 9 a.m. Wreaths will be placed at Veterans Plaza on the front lawn of Huntington Town Hall at 100 Main Street. Call 631-351-3000.

A Memorial Day parade organized by Nathan Hale VFW Post 1469 and American Legion Post 360 will commence at 11 a.m. at West Neck Road and Gerard Street and head east on Main Street to Stewart Avenue. Call 631-421-0535.

Kings Park

Organized by the Donald C. Munro American Legion Post 944, the Kings Park 93rd annual Memorial Day parade will kick off at 9 a.m. at the R.J.O. Intermediate School at Old Dock Road and Church Street and proceed to Veterans Plaza for a flag ceremony. Call 631-269-4140.

Northport

Organized by the Northport American Legion Post 694, the parade will begin at 10 a.m. at Laurel Avenue School and proceed to the Northport Village Park. Call 631-261-4424.

Ronkonkoma

Organized by Wm. Merritt Hallock American Legion Post 155, Wm. Francis Taylor Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9486 and Donald F. Pugliese American Veterans Post 48, a Memorial Day Parade will kick off at 10 a.m. at the corner of Hawkins Avenue and Church Street. A ceremony will commence immediately following parade at Raynor Park in Lake Ronkonkoma. Call 631-963-2796.

Port Jefferson

American Legion Wilson Ritch Post 432 invites the community to a Memorial Day Remembrance Observance at Veterans Memorial Park in Port Jefferson at 9 a.m. Call 631-473-9774.

Smithtown 

Holy Mother Mary Knights of Columbus will host a Memorial Day Parade at noon. Kickoff is at the corner of Main Street and Singer Lane, continuing west on Main Street to Town Hall for a special ceremony. Call 631-360-7620.

St. James 

A Memorial Day Parade organized by Sgt. John W. Cooke VFW Post 395 will be held at 10 a.m. The parade steps off at the corner of Lake Avenue and Woodlawn Avenue and proceeds to St. James Elementary School for a ceremony. Call 631-862-7965.

Stony Brook

VFW Post 3054 and American Legion Irving Hart Post 1766 will sponsor a Memorial Day Parade at 9 a.m. at the Stony Brook Village Center, 121 Main St. and proceeds east on Main Street to Veterans Memorial Park, followed by a ceremony. Call 631-941-9671.

Sound Beach

The Sound Beach Civic Association will hold Memorial Day services at the Sound Beach Veterans Memorial on New York Avenue across from the post office at noon. All are welcome. For more information call 631-744-6952.

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Editorial cartoon by Dale Neseman/NYPA

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically protects the practice of religion in this country. While there have been few exceptions to this rule, mostly in cases where a religion may lead to harm, it has constantly and clearly protected the rights of people to practice in the way they see fit.

When a recent story by TBR News Media broke on social media, based on several readers’ comments, it looked like many people were confused when it came to freedom of religion.

The article reported on a Stony Brook University graduate wearing a turban, who was refused admission into a Port Jefferson restaurant because the establishment has a no-headgear policy on Friday and Saturday nights. The manager was allegedly sticking to the restaurant’s policy, while either being unaware or ignoring the unconstitutionality of refusing a person service based on religious attire. The customer in question practices Sikhism, where males wear turbans as articles of faith in public.

While the restaurant owner said he would change the rule, the event and comments on social media showcase a particular ignorance of the most foundational law in the U.S. Unfortunately, many readers have said they thought the manager had the right to make the call and refuse the graduate service.

They are wrong. Our Constitution protects our expression of religion, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlaws discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin — or religion. Whether a Sikh is wearing a turban, or a Jewish man is wearing a yarmulke, they cannot be asked to remove their head covering in order to get a drink or something to eat, just like service can’t be denied to a nun in her habit or a Muslim woman wearing a hijab.

Freedom of religion in this country even protects employees of that restaurant and other businesses when it comes to practicing their religions. State and federal laws, unless causing undue hardship on the operation of business, require employers to make accommodations, within reason, for workers whether they need a break to pray or take a day off to observe their Sabbath or celebrate a religious holiday. The employer may ask them to make up the hours, but they can’t deny an employee time off for religious reasons unless it will be detrimental to a business, for example, due to a small staff. So, whether a Christian can’t work Sundays, or a Muslim needs to take a break to pray, an employer cannot dissuade them from doing so.

Employers must also allow dress and grooming practices that employees follow for religious reasons, including not only head coverings but certain hairstyles or facial hair such as the Sikh beard. So, as Americans, whether it’s as a customer or an employee, we are free to practice our religions.

Sikhs have been active in the U.S. Armed Forces, where they have been given special exception to wear turbans, while remaining as dedicated as any other service member. As we celebrate Memorial Day, May 27, remembering those who died to protect our rights, let us also not forget the principles that are being protected.

Stock photo

Mark your calendar: May 21 is election day! And according to New York State law, so is the second Tuesday in July for most Suffolk County fire departments. The third Tuesday in March is also election day for many village trustees and propositions. Election day for state and local primaries, well that’s June 25 this year. When do you vote on library budget? Each local library has a different day for its election. So, why then do we call the first Tuesday in November election day as if there’s only one day when citizens vote?

Election days can be tough to track. It’s like the nutty old Abbott and Costello skit “Who’s on first, what’s on second, and I don’t know is on third.” Yet elections are no laughing matter.

Collectively, all of these elections amount to increased spending, which overtime adds up. It’s not easy getting it straight — not only these dates, but also all the spending.

In recent years, large and seemingly extravagant multi-million-dollar public projects have been both approved and declined by popular vote with lower voter turnout throughout our circulation area. The $14.9 million bond for the new Setauket Firehouse was approved on its third try with just 580 people voting out of a population of several thousand in the fire district. Last year, a bond presented by the Mount Sinai School District was voted down with a 664-428 tally against the project. Mount Sinai has a population of over 12,000.

If one or two days each year were designated election day, it would be easier to hold elected officials accountable by enabling taxpayers to see a broad overview of taxation on one ballot.

At TBR News Media, we would support consolidating elections into one or two universal election days each year. Make it a national holiday, so people are more keenly aware of their obligation. Maybe turn Columbus Day, a federal holiday, into election day? With one or two annual election days, citizens could more easily track spending and stay abreast of community affairs.

But until this happens, as we said, mark your calendars. All elections are important: They determine where our money will go and how much of it.

On May 21, Long Islanders will vote on board of education members and school district budgets, which account for a significant majority of our local tax bills. It’s a crucial vote that typically gains support from parents with children in school, while retirees or people with more limited income, who may have different priorities, make a point to show up at the polls to say no.

That’s the system we have now, so be sure to exercise your right to vote May 21.

Tropical Fruit Salad with Coconut Yogurt

By Barbara Beltrami

Have you noticed how moms are always eating salads? They have them for lunch, they order them in restaurants, they serve them with a lot of things they cook and they even try to get you to eat more of them. Yep! Moms love salads. So how about preparing a super-duper salad or two for her on Mother’s Day? Here are some that she’ll love — for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So take your pick … or do all three. And if you join her in eating them, she’ll be oh, so happy.

Tropical Fruit Salad with Coconut Yogurt

Tropical Fruit Salad with Coconut Yogurt

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

½ pineapple, peeled and diced

1 mango, peeled and diced

½ ripe cantaloupe, peeled, seeded and diced

¼ ripe honeydew, peeled, seeded and diced

2 kiwis, peeled and diced

1 cup raspberries, washed and dried

1 cup blackberries, washed and dried

1 cup blueberries, washed and dried

¼ cup honey

Zest and juice of one orange

1 pint coconut yogurt

1 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted (optional)

 DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, combine the pineapple, mango, cantaloupe, honeydew, kiwis and berries. In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, orange zest and juice and yogurt. Cover and refrigerate both mixtures until 30 minutes before serving. Do not prepare more than 4 hours ahead of time, though. Spoon fruit onto fancy dish or in large wine glasses; top with yogurt mixture, then almonds if desired. Serve with muffins or biscotti.

Lobster-Stuffed Tomato with Shrimp and Israeli Couscous

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

 INGREDIENTS:

4 large ripe tomatoes

2 cups cooked Israeli couscous

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups lobster meat, diced

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 cup finely chopped celery

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

8 leaves bibb lettuce

8 cooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

DIRECTIONS:

Slice enough off the top of each tomato to make a wide opening. With a serrated or sharp spoon, scoop out the tomato pulp. Mince flesh from tomato tops and combine with pulp. In a medium bowl combine with couscous, olive oil and salt and pepper; set aside. In a large bowl combine the lobster, mayonnaise, celery, lemon juice, dill and salt and pepper. Carefully scoop lobster mixture into hollowed-out tomatoes. Place lettuce leaves, curved side down, on four plates. On one lettuce leaf place the lobster-filled tomato; on the other leaf place a scoop of the couscous mixture. Top each scoop with a shrimp. Cover and refrigerate until 20 minutes before ready to serve. Can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead of time. Serve chilled with buttered multigrain toast cut into triangles.

Little Chef’s Salad

YIELD: Makes 4 servings.

 INGREDIENTS:

1½ heads bibb, romaine, red or green leaf lettuce, washed, dried and chopped

1/3 pound Swiss or Jarlsberg cheese, cut into very thin strips

1/3 pound grilled chicken breast, cut into very thin strips

1/3 pound baked ham, cut into very thin strips

4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered or sliced

1 ripe avocado, peeled, sliced and doused with freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 green bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into very thin strips

16 heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved

½English cucumber, finely diced

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup salad dressing or to taste

 DIRECTIONS:

Arrange lettuce on four plates or one large platter. Lay cheese, chicken and ham in evenly spaced-apart diagonal stripes across lettuce. In between stripes lay egg and avocado and pepper and tomatoes; sprinkle cucumber over top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with salad dressing. Serve chilled with crusty rolls and butter.

Winner Sophie Pagliaro poses with her prize. Photo by Heidi Sutton

Happy Spring! Thanks to all the children who entered this year’s Spring Coloring Contest! We had so many wonderful submissions, making for some stiff competition. Congratulations to Sophie Pagliaro of Port Jefferson for being this year’s ultimate winner! The 6-year-old won a $50 gift certificate to Chocolate Works, located at 143 Main St. in Stony Brook, just in time for Easter.

Special thanks to Chocolate Works for sponsoring our contest! 

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The Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Easter parade and egg hunt April 21, sneaking in the event between the weekend rains.

Starting from Theatre Three, the young kids of Port Jefferson and the surrounding communities strode down Main Street towards Harborfront Park, where chamber volunteers had been planting eggs since 11 a.m. Yellow police tape acted as a guard and a starting line for the kids, many dressed in faceprint and bunny ears, before they could run off to collect their eggs. Once the tape was removed, those kids were like a swarm of piranhas, and the field was stripped clean of the brightly colored eggs before one could say “Happy Easter.”

After the race for eggs, kids had the opportunity to take a picture with the Easter Bunny, namely Chamber President Barbara Ransome dressed in the trademarked costume, before walking away with a chocolate bunny.

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