Holidays

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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.

The Easter Bunny will visit Benner’s Farm in East Setauket on April 20 and 21 from noon to 4 p.m. File photo by Rita J. Egan

Bunny Fest at Eagle’s Nest

The Easter Bunny and his friend Li’l Chick invite children of all ages to join them in the Vanderbilt Rose Garden at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for an egg hunt, petting zoo, bubble machine and light fare (coffee, juice, goodies) on April 20. Three times are available: 9 a.m. (for toddlers); and 10 or 11 a.m. Both times include a planetarium show. Children are encouraged to bring their Easter baskets and bonnets. Tickets are $25 adults, $20 children. Preregistration is required at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For more information, please call 631-854-5579.

Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast

Caroline Church of Brookhaven, 1 Dyke Road, Setauket will host an Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on April 20 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Over 1,000 eggs to find, photos with the Easter Bunny, rabbits to pet, best homemade Easter hat contest and more. Don’t forget your camera! Free. Call Elaine at 631-428-0475.

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Knights of Columbus Father Seyfried Council 821 will host a Breakfast with the Easter Bunny with fun activities and games on April 20 at St. Joseph’s Travis Hall, 59 Church St., Kings Park from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and children age 3 and older. Call Jim at 631-656-8991 to order. 

Spring Egg Hunt at the Hatchery

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor will hold its annual Spring Egg Hunt on April 20 from 10:30 a.m. to noon for children up to age 6. Last admission at 10:30 a.m. Bring a basket. Admission is $6 adults, $4 children ages 3 to 12 and seniors, under age 3 free. Call 516-692-6768.

Spring Fair and Egg Hunt

Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown will host a Spring Fair and Egg Hunt on April 20 from noon to 4 p.m. Enjoy games, live animal presentations, crafts, face painting, egg hunts, food and refreshments. A special long-eared guest will be available for photo opportunities. Easter plants will be available for purchase. Admission is $15 per child, $5 adults. Call 631-979-6344.

Easter weekend at Benner’s Farm

Benner’s Farm, 56 Gnarled Hollow Road, East Setauket will host its annual Easter Egg Hunts on April 20 and 21 from noon to 4 p.m. Hunts are held at 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m. Bring your own basket. While you’re waiting, visit and hold the baby animals, take pictures with the Holiday Bunny, visit the farm store and check out the craft vendors. Admission is $8 adults, $6 children and seniors. Call 631-689-8172.

Easter Bunny visits Northport

The Easter Bunny will be visiting children in downtown Northport on Saturday, April 20 bearing treats from 1 to 4 p.m., courtesy of the Northport Chamber of Commerce. Great opportunity for photos. Free. Call 631-754-3905 for more info.

Easter Parade and Egg Hunt

Join the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce for its annual Easter Parade and Egg Hunt on April 21 from noon to 1:30 p.m. The parade kicks off in front of Theatre Three on Main Street and finishes at the Port Jefferson Village Center on East Broadway. An egg hunt for ages 2 to 8 will be held on the Great Lawn at Harborfront Park at 12:30 p.m. No rain date. Call 631-473-1414.

Easter Egg Hunt

The Village of Northport will hold its annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 21 at Northport Village Park at 1 p.m. Rain date is April 28. Sponsored by the Northport/Centerport Lions Club. Call 516-380-6444 for additional details.

By Heidi Sutton

Spring is in the air and that means the return of one of the most adorable children’s shows on the planet — “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and the late Brent Erlanson, with music by Kevin F. Story, the show is based on “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter.

Published in 1901, the story and its endearing illustrations were inspired by Potter’s pet rabbits, Benjamin Bouncer and Peter Piper. It has been translated into 36 languages, and with 45 million copies sold, is one of the best-selling books of all time.

Going against his mother’s wishes, Peter Rabbit (Eric J. Hughes) is always sneaking into Mr. McGregor’s garden to satisfy his insatiable appetite for parsley, tomatoes and string beans. His partner in crime, cousin Benjamin Bunny (Steven Uihlein), is just as naughty, eating all the carrots he can find and this constant marauding is testing the farmer’s patience. It’s a cat and mouse, or should I say, farmer and hare game that is about to go terribly wrong.

Directed by Sanzel, the show is fast-paced and action-packed with so many wonderful scenes often taking place off stage and among the audience. Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail (Nicole Bianco, K.D. Guadagano and Michelle LaBozzetta) spend much of their time looking for their wayward brother and cousin throughout the theater and enlist the young audience’s help to find them before Mrs. Rabbit (Elizabeth Ladd) comes back from the market and the McGregors (Andrew Lenahan and Emily Gates) chase Peter and Benjamin down the aisles in an attempt to save their garden.

Over the years, I’ve seen this show at least 10 times, but this latest production is the best one yet. Perhaps it is because the cast is able to utilize the Mainstage set of “The Miracle Worker,” adding Peter’s bedroom for the first time and giving the show more dimension. Maybe it is the revamped choreography by Nicole Bianco or the creative lighting by Steven Uihlein. Possibly it is the boundless enthusiasm from the cast, drawing their energy from the constant giggles and laughs from the children and parents in the audience or that the songs are by now classic and timeless. 

Whatever the reason, this gem of a show is like a fine wine and just gets better with age.

Souvenir bunnies are sold before the show and during intermission for $5. Join the entire cast in the lobby for a meet and greet on your way out.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” through April 27 with special performances during spring break. After a brief hiatus, children’s theater continues with “Cinderella” from July 6 to 27 followed by “Pinocchio” from Aug. 2 to 10. Tickets are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lancombe, Theatre Three Productions Inc.

The Easter Bunny and his friend Li’l Chick invite children of all ages to join them in the Vanderbilt Rose Garden at the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for an egg hunt, petting zoo, bubble machine and light fare (coffee, juice, goodies) on Saturday, April 20.

Three times are available: 9 a.m., which includes a special planetarium show, “One World, One Sky,” starring Big and Elmo (great for toddlers); and 10 or 11 a.m., which includes the planetarium show, “Earth, Moon, and Sun.” Children are encouraged to bring their Easter baskets and bonnets.

Tickets are $25 adults, $20 children. Adults $25; members $20; children nonmembers $20. Seating is limited. Preregistration is required at www.vanderbiltmuseum.org. For more information, please call 854-5579.

Irish Cream

By Barbara Beltrami

‘Tis a challenge to write about St. Patrick’s Day without resorting to the clichéd corned beef and cabbage. Sure and there are other Irish dishes that can also celebrate the wearin’ o’ the green.

There’s colcannon boiled potatoes and cabbage mashed together with butter and salt and pepper. Then there’s shepherd’s pie, a dish as hearty as they come, made with ground meat and veggies and topped with a mashed potato crust. I’d never made colcannon before, but after looking up a few recipes, it was easy to come up with my own version. I dug up shepherd’s pie from deep in my recipe files where I’d forgotten all about it and have happily restored it to my current repertoire. But I think my favorite is Irish cream, a whiskey blend with cream and an alcohol by volume content of 15 to 20 percent that will put green beer to shame.

Colcannon

 

Colcannon

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and quartered

¼ pound unsalted butter

2 leeks (white and light green parts only) washed and thinly sliced

¼ large head cabbage, shredded

1¾ cups half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan over medium heat boil the potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Meanwhile in another large saucepan melt half the butter over medium heat, add leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add cabbage and cook, stirring frequently, until soft; add half-and-half, stir and bring to simmer. Add potatoes, two tablespoons of the remaining butter and salt and pepper; stir and coarsely mash whole mixture. Transfer to serving bowl; melt final two tablespoons butter and drizzle over top.  Serve hot with fish, meat or poultry.

Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie

YIELD: Makes 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

3 to 4 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled in salted water until very tender

¼ pound unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup diced carrots

1½ pounds ground beef

½ cup vegetable or beef broth

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 F. While potatoes are boiling, melt half the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Add the broth and continue to cook, covered, over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in thawed peas and season with salt and pepper. Mash potatoes with remaining butter. Spread meat and vegetable mixture in an 8×13-inch greased baking dish; spread potatoes on top to form a crust; bake until mashed potatoes turn slightly golden, about 30 minutes. Serve hot with a crisp green salad.

Irish Cream

Irish Cream

YIELD: Makes approximately 6 cups

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup heavy cream

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1¾ cups Irish whiskey

½ cup coffee liqueur

¼ cup chocolate liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature with hot coffee, over ice or with crispy cookies such as biscotti or wafers. Top with whipped cream if desired.

From left, Queen Jazmine Lang and Lady-in-Waiting Emily Hampson

As the communities of Miller Place and Rocky Point, along with the neighboring hamlets of Brookhaven’s North Shore, are gearing up for an annual rite of spring, the Friends of St. Patrick are pleased to announce that the 69th annual Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sunday, March 17.

The event will kick off at the comer of Harrison Avenue in Miller Place at 1 p.m. sharp and will proceed east along Route 25A before ending at the comer of Route 25A and Broadway in downtown Rocky Point. Route 25A will be closed to traffic at noon to prepare for the event.

John McNamara

The committee has named John McNamara as grand marshal of this year’s parade. John and his wife, Kathy, have resided in Rocky Point since 1978, where they raised four children and are the proud grandparents of six. McNamara taught at Maria Regina High School in Uniondale and has been the youth minister at St. Mark’s Parish in Shoreham since 1979. He has also been very involved in teaching and ministry at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach and at his home parish, St. Anthony of Padua in Rocky Point. 

In keeping with the tradition of recognizing aspiring young women in the community, the title of parade queen has been bestowed upon Jazmine Lang of Rocky Point. A junior at Rocky Point High School, as well as a gymnastics coach at Towers Gymnastics, Lang is a member of the Rocky Point Fire Department and is very active with charitable activities in her community. Her majesty loves to help not only people in need but also animals, as she is involved with Last Chance Animal Rescue. She participates in the law enforcement program at BOCES and aspires to become a Navy Seal. Lang is very excited to be named queen of the parade and to celebrate with the community she loves.

The queen will be graciously escorted at the parade by her lady-in-waiting, Emily Hampson, a resident of Sound Beach who has been either attending the parade or participating in it all her life.

A sophomore at the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying for a bachelor’s degree in home products, Hampson hopes to achieve a career in cookware or small appliances. All through her young life, she has been an active volunteer in her community and her church, including directing the Christmas Pageant and running concession at the Shoreham BMX track. Hampson was a member of the Miller Place Cheer Team and coached cheer for the Sharks Cheerleading team. While attending college in Manhattan, she spends much time in Sound Beach and still considers it home. She will proudly sit next to the queen waiving at the crowd on March 17.

This year’s parade will feature veteran and community groups and organizations, along with elected officials from all areas of our government for the anticipated crowd of more than 50,000. Of course, no parade would be complete without the presence of local fire departments, high school bands, Irish dancing, Scout troops and many colorful floats. Be sure to come down to cheer your favorite on! There is something on this special day for everyone, as this local parade reaches historic proportions by carrying on a 68-year community tradition.

Visit www.friendsofstpatrick.org for updates.