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American Irish Stew

From hearty stews to minty pies, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are all about enjoying the flavors of the holiday. 

American Irish Stew

American Irish Stew

YIELD: Serves 6


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 pounds beef, top round, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, minced

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

2 medium parsnips, cut into large chunks

3 cups low-fat, reduced-sodium beef broth

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 leek, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add beef and garlic. Cook, gently stirring until meat is evenly browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add onion, carrots and parsnips. Cook 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 75 minutes, or until meat is tender. Stir in potatoes and simmer another 30 minutes. Add rosemary and leeks. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender. To avoid potatoes from falling apart, do not overcook. Serve hot and garnish with parsley, if desired.

Irish Potato Bread

Irish Potato Bread

This potato bread is just as easy to make as a soda bread, in fact it’s pretty much the same recipe with the addition of potatoes and the potatoes help keep this bread so nice and moist and tender giving it a heavenly texture! 

YIELD: Makes 1 bread


2 medium or large russet potatoes

1 egg

1 egg white

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons green onion, minced

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting and kneading

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt


Heat oven to 375 F. Peel potatoes. Slice one potato and boil in saucepan 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove potato from saucepan into large bowl. Mash potato then set aside. Grate second potato onto cloth. Wring potato in cloth to remove excess water. Add grated potato to mashed potato in large bowl. Add egg, egg white, oil, milk, onion, caraway seeds, 3 1/4 cups flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with wooden spoon until mixture is soft and sticky. 

Turn dough onto floured surface. Adding flour as needed, knead dough to form 8-inch round shape with slight dome. Place dough onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut large “X” on top of dough about 1/2 inch deep. Bake 55 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire rack 1 hour before serving.

Luck o’ the Irish Mint Pie

Mint Pie

YIELD: Makes 2 pies (9 inches each)


3 3/4 cups heavy whipped cream, divided

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups, plus 2 tablespoons, powdered sugar, divided

5 drops green food coloring

1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided

1/4 teaspoon mint extract

1 bag mint chocolate candies, chopped, divided

2 chocolate cookie crusts (9 inches each)

1 bag mint chocolate candies


To make filling: In bowl of stand mixer, whisk 2 1/2 cups heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer to bowl. In separate stand mixer bowl, beat cream cheese on high 2 minutes. Gradually add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar and green food coloring; mix until smooth. Add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla and mint extract; mix well. Fold prepared whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Fold 1 cup chopped mint chocolate candies into filling.

To make frosting: In bowl of stand mixer, whisk remaining heavy cream and remaining powdered sugar. Add remaining vanilla extract and mix until stiff peaks form. Pour filling into crusts and smooth tops. Fill decorating bag with frosting and pipe thick band around edges of pies. Then pipe circle dollops evenly around edges of pies. Scatter 1 cup chopped mint chocolate candies in middle of pies. Place whole mint chocolate candies into each dollop of frosting around edges of pies. Refrigerate until firm, 5 to 6 hours, before serving

Serving the Hungry: Presenting this year’s check were, from left, King Kullen President and COO Joseph W. Brown; Long Island Cares Chief Executive Officer Paule T. Pachter; Long Island Cares Chief Development & Communications Officer Katherine M. Fritz; King Kullen Vice President Corporate Strategy & Initiatives, and Long Island Cares Board Member, Tracey Cullen; and King Kullen Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer Bernard P. Kennedy. Photo from King Kullen

King Kullen recently came to the aid of Long Islanders in need by hosting its annual in-store “Check Out Hunger” campaign, raising $25,000. The money was donated to the Long Island Cares/Harry Chapin Food Bank, which has served the hungry on Long Island since 1980.

“The need for emergency food supplies on Long Island continues to rise for families and people of all ages throughout Nassau and Suffolk. Long Island Cares helps provide food where and when it is needed. Once again, we want to thank our customers for contributing to the ‘Check Out Hunger’ campaign. King Kullen and Wild by Nature have been proud to support Long Island Cares for many years and remain committed to fighting hunger on Long Island,” said King Kullen President and Chief Operating Officer Joseph W. Brown.

In 1997, King Kullen was the first supermarket chain to participate in the annual “Check Out Hunger” campaign, a unique partnership between Long Island Cares and the shopping community in which customers can make a donation with a coupon when checking out at the supermarket register. One hundred percent of all donations go to Long Island Cares.

“King Kullen and Wild by Nature have made a meaningful difference in the fight against hunger,” said Long Island Cares/Harry Chapin Food Bank Chief Executive Officer Paule T. Pachter.  “Their customers continue to generously support our mission and we are forever grateful for their support all these years.”

Dancing leprechauns, pots of gold, corned beef and cabbage, green beer, parades, and the wearing of the green are all synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day. But perhaps the most iconic symbol of all is the shamrock, the ubiquitous three-leafed plant that makes an appearance in a myriad of ways – it’s said to bring good luck.

In honor of the day and to start a new tradition to be enjoyed after the corned beef and green beer, the Wilton Test Kitchen created a Lucky Giant Shamrock Cookie that’s easy to bake and decorate. It’s the perfect way to add fun, color and sweetness to a St. Paddy’s party; there’s plenty to serve a crowd. Plus, kids and adults alike will enjoy this colorful cookie.

The delicious butter cookie dough with a hint of almond is baked in a shamrock-shaped pan. To decorate, start with white ready-to-use decorator icing in a can (no special skills required). Use part of it to ice the background and sides of the shamrock. Tint a portion green and ice the shamrock shape on top of the cookie, then add green candy-coated chocolates to outline the edges. The message is written with the remaining white icing.

Visit www.wilton.com for additional ideas for St. Patrick’s Day, and for celebrations of all kinds.

Lucky Giant Shamrock Cookie

YIELD: Makes about 15 servings


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) White Ready-To-Use Decorator Icing
  • Kelly Green Icing Color
  • Light corn syrup
  • Green candy-coated chocolates


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in egg and extracts. Add flour mixture to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill dough. Press into bottom of ungreased Shamrock Pan.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes or until edges of cookie are lightly browned. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. Place cooled cookie on foil-wrapped cake board or large serving platter.
  4. Tint 2 cups icing green; thin with corn syrup. Reserve 1/4 cup white icing; thin remaining white icing with corn syrup. Use spatula to ice sides and background areas with thinned white icing. Spatula ice shamrock on top of cookie with green icing. Position candy on edges of shamrock. Using Tip 4, print message with reserved 1/4 cup white icing.

Convenience Tip: Substitute 2 packages (18 ounces each) refrigerated cookie dough for cookie recipe above.

Source: Wilton Enterprises

Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne star in The Quiet Man. Photo courtesy of Fathom Events

In honor of its 70th anniversary, The Quiet Man returns to select theaters nationwide on March 13 and 17, courtesy of Turner Classic Movies, Paramount Pictures ad Fathom Events. 

One of the greatest love stories ever told, the acclaimed John Ford classic features John Wayne as retired boxer Sean Thornton who makes a pilgrimage to his home village in Ireland in order to claim his family’s estate. He meets his match in the spirited young Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) only to find himself confronted by her belligerent brother and the town’s strict customs. The film also stars Barry Fitzgerald, Victor McLaglen, Ward Bond and Mildred Natwick.

An Oscar winner for Best Director and Cinematography, this Republic Pictures classic lives on in the hearts of moviegoers and moviemakers alike. Considered by many to be one of Ford’s best films, The Quiet Man was also included on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 greatest love stories of all time.

This special anniversary screening includes exclusive pre- and post-film commentary by Turner Classic Movies  Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz.

Locally the film will be screened at AMC Stony Brook 17, 2196 Nesconset Highway, Stony Brook on both days at 7 p.m.; at Island 16 Cinema De Lux, 185 Morris Ave., Holtsville on March 13 at 1 p.m. and March 17 at 7 p.m.; and Farmingdale Multiplex Cinemas, 1001 Broadhollow Road, Farmingdale on March 13 at 1 p.m. and March 17 at 7 p.m. To order tickets in advance, visit www.fathomevents.com.


Welcome to the third edition of Paw Prints, a monthly column for animal lovers dedicated to helping shelter pets find their furever home!


Meet Scuttle

Scuttle is in the spotlight today! This handsome, sweet boy hails from South Carolina and is now at Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. Scuttle is very active and loves to play, especially with other dogs. He also really likes people. Scuttle’s litter mate, Bright, recently went to her furever home so he is a bit down so we are shining the spotlight on him hoping he is as lucky as a four-leaf clover and finds his new family soon. Call 631-727-5731, Ext. 1 for more information.


Meet Thor

This sweet, big guy named Thor has been living at the Smithtown Animal Shelter since January of this year after he found himself homeless due to a house fire. He has lived with other cats and a small child. This hunk is looking for a loving home and a window to sun himself in. Not much to ask, right? Call 631-360-7575.


Meet Benji

This oh so handsome fellow is Benji, a 14-year-old Shih-tzu up for adoption at Little Shelter in Huntington. Proving that age is just a number, he’s the first one out the door for a short walk, doing meet and greets along the way. Social, friendly and good-natured, he is quite the charmer, confident that you’ll find him nearly irresistible! Benji is fully grown and housebroken. He likes other dogs and cats and would do best in a home with children 12 years old and up. Stop by Little Shelter to meet Benji and make both your dreams come true! Call 631-368-8770.


Meet Blitzen

He looks so sad! Blitzen was adopted as a kitten but his pet parent owner was moving and could not take him so he was dropped off at Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. He is only 4 years old and what a mush! He loves attention and is very lovable. Come brighten his day! Call 631-727-5731, Ext. 1.


Meet Robin

This is Robin, a short-haired female waiting at Little Shelter in Huntington for her furever home. Robin is very inquisitive and she gets along with other cats. This poor baby was left behind when her owners moved. Come meet her today! Call 631-368-8770.


Meet Hondo

This handsome red-head named Hondo is getting into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit with his adorable bow tie. A 3-year-old Lab Mix, he recently arrived at Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton from Georgia and is eager to start his new life. Hondo is a laid back doggie, who also loves people and other dogs. He’s one of the kennel manager’s favorites! Come bring this little man some luck this holiday. Call 631-727-5731.

Irish I Had a Home

The Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, 300 Horseblock Road, Brookhaven will offer $65 adoptions for dogs and cats on arch 16 and 17 as part of their St/ Pet-tricks Day Celebration. For more information, call 631-451-6955 or visit www.brookhavenny.gov/animalshelter.


Meet some cool snakes at Sweetbriar Nature Center on March 13. Pixabay photo

Shamrock Painting Class

The Atelier at Flowerfield, 2 Flowerfield, Building #15, St. James will host a St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Painting class for ages 6 to 12 on March 12 from 10 a.m. to noon and again from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Join Miss Linda in the studio as she teaches you how to paint a shamrock and a ladybug. Fee is $50 and includes materials. To register, call 250-9009 or visit www.theatelieratflowerfield.org.

Butterflies & Blue Whales

The Whaling Museum, 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor presents a drop-in family workshop, Butterflies & Blue Whales, on March 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. Spring is almost here and animals are on the move! Learn about the incredible springtime migrations made by whales and other creatures. See and touch whale bones and baleen, then decorate a ceramic flower pot and plant a flower to encourage migrating butterflies to visit you. Admission + $10 participant. Call 367-3418.

Family Hour Sunday

The Heckscher Museum of Art, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington will host a Family Hour Sunday on March 13 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Children ages 5 through 10 are invited for a family-friendly art experience with Museum Educator Tami Wood. Explore works of art in the Museum and create fun art projects! $10 per child, adults free. To register, visit www.heckscher.org.

Ssssensational Ssssnakes

Slither on over to Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown on March 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. to see a selection of several ssssensational serpents. Participants will meet several snakes and learn about their unique adaptation through games and other participatory activities. Create a cool snake craft to take home. $10 per child, $5 adults. Register at www.sweetbriarnc.org.

Moonstruck Mania

The Heckscher Museum, 2 Prime Ave., Huntington in collaboration with the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport will present Moonstruck Mania: An Art and Science Adventure on March 13 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Families with children ages 6 and up are invited to begin their adventure at the Heckscher exploring the exhibition Moonstruck:Lunar Art from the Collection and creating a lunar masterpiece. Then meet at the Vanderbilt Planetarium for a 30 minute live viewing and lecture of that night’s sky followed by a screening of Earth, Moon & Sun. $15 per person. To register, visit www.heckscher.org.

Snakes & Shamrocks

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery, 1660 Route 25A, Cold Spring Harbor will present Snakes & Shamrocks from March 17 to 19 at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Visit the Hatchery for a meet and greet with a live snake and plant your very own shamrock to take home. Then take part in a St. Patrick’s Day themed scavenger hunt. Admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors, $5 children ages 3 to 12. Call 516-692-6768.


Disney’s ‘Frozen Jr.’

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Disney’s Frozen Jr. Saturdays at 11 a.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. from Feb. 13 to March 13. When faced with danger, princesses Anna and Elsa discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. This enchanting musical features all of the memorable songs from the hit Disney film and will thaw even the coldest heart! Tickets are $20. To order, call 261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

‘Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz’

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents the world premiere of Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz from Feb. 23 to March 26. Dorothy Gale is whisked away by a tornado to that magical land that lies just Over the Rainbow. Follow Dorothy and her friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion as they encounter challenges and celebrate friendship. This new take on a classic tale features an original score, memorable characters, and fun for the entire family. Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz is a delightful reminder that “there’s no place like home!” All seats are $10. To order, call 928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com. 

Disney’s ‘High School Musical Jr.’

We’re all in this together! Disney Channel’s smash hit musical comes to life at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown in Disney’s High School Musical Jr. from April 15 to May 15. Troy, Gabriella and the students of East High must deal with issues of love, friends and family while balancing their classes and extra curricular activities. The show’s infectious, danceable songs will have you dancing in your seats! All seats are $25. To order, call 724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

Pixabay photo

By John L. Turner

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it; the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.” — Andrew Wyeth

Not sure if planetary scientists can explain why, when the earth was forming, it became tilted about 23.5 degrees off a perfect perpendicular axis to its orbital plane around the Sun. However, they can offer an unequivocal statement of fact that this planetary quirk is the reason for the portfolio of seasons we enjoy. And now, as has been often true for more than four and one-half billion years, when the planetary axis that runs through the North Pole points away from the Sun, the Northern Hemisphere receives weaker, more obtuse rays of sunshine, resulting in the colder temperatures of winter. 

Today, as they have for millenia, countless number of plants and animals have responded in their own species-specific ways to survive this most challenging of seasons.

A discussion about the pervasive effects of winter on nature cannot happen without talking about another word that begins with the letter “w” and ends in an “r” — water. Water, or more particularly the fact that it becomes ice at 32 degrees, has had profound impacts in shaping the response of organisms to winter. As water becomes ice, it’s no longer available to plants, making winter, in effect, a five to six month long drought. The response of deciduous trees to no available water? To shed their leaves that are water loss structures and become dormant. How do evergreen or coniferous trees, which obviously keep their leaves, tolerate the winter’s loss of available water? Their small leaves with waxy coatings are highly effective at retarding water loss. They simply use little water in the winter.

How else does ice affect species? Ducks, geese and swans that depend upon open freshwater ponds and lakes to feed need to move in the event their ponds freeze over. Same with kingfishers and other fish-eating birds. This “freezing over” occurs because ice, by rare virtue of being less dense than liquid water, floats on the surface of the surface of the pond or lake, rather than freezing at the bottom which would happen if ice were denser than water, which is the norm with so many other liquids. This unusual, almost unique, attribute — of solid water (ice) being lighter than liquid water — has played a hard to overstate role in allowing for life on earth to evolve and flourish, for if ice were denser the entire waterbody would freeze solid to the detriment of everything living in it.

Unlike immobile species such as trees, mobile species (i.e. animals that fly!) adapt to winter by simply leaving it behind, winging to warmer climates where they can continue to feed (some species living a perpetual summer existence!). Such is the case with dozens of bird, bat, and insect species that migrate vast distances to find climates and associated food supplies to their liking. 

For example, ospreys depart from northern latitudes because the fish they depend upon are unavailable, either because they can’t access them due to ice or because salt-water fish move into deeper water where they cannot be caught, forcing ospreys to move to habitats within climates where food is available. Insect-eating songbirds move off too but in their case because of the disappearance of available insects.

Mobile species that don’t migrate employ a variety of other strategies to survive the winter. A perhaps most well-known — but relatively rare — strategy is hibernation. Hibernating mammals species adapt to winter by so reducing their energy and water needs they can tide over from autumn to spring. 

The woodchuck (aka groundhog) is the best known hibernator. Curled in an underground den, a hibernating woodchuck’s heart beat drops from about 100 beats per minute to four to five and its body temperature more than half, from about 99 degrees to 38-40 degrees. Bats that don’t leave for warmer climates also hibernate. All hibernating species depend upon stores of fat, built up from continued feeding in the autumn, as the energy source to make it through winter.

Just below hibernation is torpor, a physiological state in which the animal’s metabolism, heart and breathing rates are reduced but which still allows it to be alert enough to react to danger. Chipmunks (and bears) are well known examples and speaking of chipmunks — they illustrate another common practice of many animals to make it through the winter — storing up food in winter larder. Beavers do the same by bringing leaf-laden branches underwater, a wet refrigerator of sorts, where food is safely ensconced.

Regulated hypothermia is yet another adaptation to surviving winter. In this case, the animal reduces its temperature while sleeping, enabling it to reduce the amount of heat lost to the air overnight. Black-capped chickadees are a well-known example. During the winter chickadees drop their temperature each night from about 108 degrees to the mid-90’s by employing this practice. They also seek sheltered places like tree cavities (another reason to let dead trees stand if they pose no safety risk) and dense vegetation where they can stay warmer.

Cold blooded animals such as reptiles and amphibians make it through winter by experiencing their own form of hibernation — an activity known as brumation. Like with warm blooded animals, brumating reptiles and amphibians significantly reduce their heart, breathing and general metabolic rates. Some species, like diamondback terrapins, are spared the full brunt of winter by brumating in the muddy bottoms of bays, harbors, and river mouths where the temperature never drops below freezing. Not so with the wood frog, a wide ranging amphibian that in March emerges to explosively breed in woodland vernal pools around Long Island. 

Wood frogs are known to freeze solid, becoming ‘frogsicles’ during the winter and getting as close as a live animal can get to being dead. As autumn slides into winter, wood frogs undergo a several-step physiological process whereby water is pulled out of cells and is stored between them. This movement of water from inside the cell to sites between the cells occurs because water stored within the cell, if frozen, would form sharp ice crystals, likely puncturing cell membranes, thereby destroying the cell. 

The frog’s metabolism, breathing, and heartbeat stop and the frog remains in a state of animated suspension for many weeks. Come the Spring though, and this very dead looking frog slowly comes back to life, none worse for the wear. It becomes active and vibrant, soon filling small wetlands with its quacking duck calls.

For the lover of nature and the outdoors there are gifts of winter: clear night skies; falling snow and geometric snowflakes; frost patterns on windows; sledding and hot chocolate (or for some adults mulled apple cider spiked with a little spirit!); no leaves to hide bird nests or tree buds, like those of American Beech, which Henry David Thoreau called “the spears of Spring”; the dried stalks of countless wildflowers; the “pen and ink” quality of landscapes; the presence of snowy owls and snow buntings at the beach; or the arrival of many types of ducks and geese. Winter is not an absence of summer; it is a season complete and whole to itself.

Perhaps this article won’t serve to change your thinking if you’re among the crowd of people who find winter to be their least favorite season. Still, winter illustrates so clearly and compellingly the fine-tuned lives of so many plants and animals, each unique to this time of cold, lives that have developed, over eons of time, countless strategies to make it through the unrelenting cold and sparse food supplies of the winter season.

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson in a scene from the film. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

By Jeffrey Sanzel

Batman first appeared on screen in the 1940s serials Batman and Batman and Robin. His next appearance was in the high camp television series, where Adam West fought a rogues’ gallery of villains played by beloved Hollywood character actors. In 1989, he resurfaced in the Tim Burton Batman, with Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. Three sequels of descending quality followed. 

Robert Pattinson as Batman in a scene from the film. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Director Christopher Nolan rebooted the franchise in 2005 with Batman Begins and Christian Bale donning cape and cowl. The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises followed in 2008 and 2012. Ben Affleck became the most recent Batman, taking on Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017). Throughout the Caped Crusader’s history, he was seen in various animated incarnations, ranging from the tame Saturday morning cartoons to the challenging Batman: The Killing Joke.

After several false starts with Affleck helming as actor, director, and co-author, The Batman has reached the screen with a different vision. Matt Reeves took an alternate approach, co-writing the screenplay with Peter Craig. Leaving behind Affleck’s action-driven script, Reeves explores Batman in a real-world environment. 

If it’s always sunny in Philadelphia, it’s always raining in Gotham. Undoubtedly, this cinematic Batman is the darkest. And while the Dark Knight rises, the sun does not. Gotham is a world of shadows, a city of chaos and utter corruption. A perpetual sense of disease permeates every corner of a world devoid of safety.

The plot centers around Edward Nashton (Paul DanPaul Dano, channeling the Zodiac Killer), a.k.a. The Riddler, who is eliminating people he feels have abused their power. The film opens with the murder of the mayor who was stepping out on his wife with a woman connected to the Iceberg Lounge, run by underworld mob boss Carmine Falcone (John Turturro). 

Falcone’s number two is thug Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot (unrecognizable Colin Farrell), nicknamed “the Penguin.” The missing woman’s roommate is lounge server Selina Kyle (a phenomenal Zoë Kravitz), a burglar and drug dealer, who is—or will become—Catwoman. Throughout the slightly bloated three hours of playing time, skeletons come to light, including an unsavory history of Bruce Wayne’s parents and a connection to an orphanage where Nashton was raised.

Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson
in a scene from the film.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

For the most part, Batman’s communication style has been a monotone growl. As played by Robert Pattinson, Batman maintains a gravelly, tight-lipped demeanor. But he introduces an underlying neurotic intensity, reflecting that he is only two years into his crime-fighting career. Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is not the millionaire playboy living in splendor. Instead, he broods in a decaying Gothic manor worthy of Miss Havisham. 

In addition, Bruce is trapped in a codependent relationship with antagonistic butler Alfred (Andy Serkis, given not enough screen time). Alfred reminds him that he is ignoring his responsibilities. This original approach works, giving depth and insight into the struggle of maintaining two separate existences.

While Batman has often been on the perimeters of society, here he is a true outcast. The police—infested with crooked dealings—see him as a freak. His sole ally is Lieutenant James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright, in a first-rate, definitive interpretation), who truly understands his value.

“Fear is a tool,” states this Batman. “They think I’m hiding in the shadows, but I am the shadows.” His motto is straightforward: “I am vengeance.” Part of him believes Gotham is beyond saving—“maybe it’s eating itself.” With monomaniacal drive, he tries to eradicate the criminal element on all levels to exorcise his demons. He has not yet found a more altruistic drive.

The Batman draws on multiple sources from the comic book but eschews the whimsical villainy for true horror. The Riddler is ridding Gotham of those he feels have betrayed the people. He is “unmasking this cesspool of a city,” a distorted reflection of Batman’s mission. Gone are the green tights with a question mark emblem. Instead, he is a sadistic serial killer cut in the Seven vein, often enacting crimes that call to mind Saw’s Jigsaw. While never fully seen, the vicious murders are suggested clearly. He does not have henchman but instead online followers. This is a timely and more frightening proposition, especially in the film’s finale.

Farrell’s Penguin little resembles anything in the Batman canon. Absent are the traditional umbrella, top hat, monocle, and cigarette. Instead, buried under a fat suit and layers of prosthetics, Farrell’s hoodlum is a plotting opportunist. Perhaps closest to expectations is Kravitz’s conflicted and complicated Catwoman, generating heat and danger.

The Batman focuses on the idea that choices have consequences, and responsibility must go beyond vengeance. In the end, Reeves aims for nobility in the final message. Batman embraces survival to transform. He will endure not for payback but to make the world a better place. He acknowledges that there will be people who will take advantage of Gotham’s vulnerability. But, for him, it must be about not dwelling solely in darkness. Whether this is an earned, uplifting coda or just pulling punches from the film’s true grit is left to the individual viewer. Either way, a forthcoming sequel will find a Batman with a higher purpose, continuing those steps into the light.

Rated PG-13, The Batman is now playing in local theaters.

Avocados are a great source of micronutrients. METRO photo
Improving calorie quality makes a difference

By David Dunaief, M.D.

Dr. David Dunaief

The road to weight loss, or even weight maintenance, is complex. Many things influence our eating behavior, including food addictions, boredom, lack of sleep and stress. This can make weight management or weight loss very difficult to achieve.

Unfortunately, awareness of a food’s caloric impact doesn’t always matter, either. Studies assessing the impact of nutrition labeling in restaurants gave us a clear view of this issue: knowing an item’s calories either doesn’t alter behavior or encourages higher calorie purchases (1, 2).

Does this mean we are doomed to acquiesce to food temptation? Actually, no: It is not solely about willpower. Changing diet composition is more important.

In my clinical experience, increasing the quality of food has a tremendous impact. Foods that are the most micronutrient dense, such as plant-based foods, rather than those that are solely focused on macronutrient density, such as protein, carbohydrates and fats, tend to be the most satisfying. In a week to a few months of focusing on micronutrients, one of the first things patients notice is a significant reduction in cravings. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the evidence.

Refined carbohydrates

Many of us know that refined carbohydrates are not beneficial. Worse, however, a randomized control trial (RCT) showed refined carbohydrates may cause food addiction (3). Certain sections of the brain involved in cravings and reward are affected by high-glycemic foods, as shown by MRI scans of trial subjects.

Study participants consumed a 500-calorie shake with either a high-glycemic index or a low-glycemic index. They were blinded (unaware) as to which they were drinking. The ones who drank the high-glycemic shake had higher levels of glucose in their blood initially, followed by a significant decline in glucose levels and increased hunger four hours later. The region of the brain that is related to addiction, the nucleus accumbens, showed a spike in activity with the high-glycemic intake.

According to the authors, this effect may occur regardless of the number of calories consumed. Granted, this was a very small study, but it was well designed. High-glycemic foods include carbohydrates, such as white flour, sugar and white potatoes. The conclusion: Everyone, but especially those trying to lose weight, should avoid refined carbohydrates. Calorie composition matters.

Comparing macronutrients

We tend to focus on macronutrients when looking at diets. These include protein, carbohydrates and fats, but are these the elements that have the greatest impact on weight loss? In an RCT, when comparing different macronutrient combinations, there was very little difference among groups, nor was there much success in helping obese patients reduce their weight (4, 5). Only 15 percent of patients achieved a 10 percent reduction in weight after two years.

The four different macronutrient diet combinations involved overall calorie restriction. In addition, each combination had either high protein, high fat; average protein, high fat; high protein, low fat; or low protein, low fat. Carbohydrates ranged from low to moderate (35 percent) in the first group to high (65 percent) in the last group. This was another well-designed study, involving 811 participants with an average BMI of 33 kg/m², which is classified as obese.

Again, focusing primarily on macronutrient levels and calorie counts did very little to improve results.

Micronutrient deficiency

In an epidemiological study looking at National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data, results demonstrate that those who are overweight and obese tend to be lacking in micronutrients (6). These include carotenoids, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, as well as vitamin B12, folate and vitamins C, E and D.

Unfortunately, taking supplements won’t solve the problem; supplements don’t compensate for missing micronutrients. Quite the contrary, micronutrients from supplements are not the same as those from foods. With a few exceptions, such as vitamin D and potentially B12, most micronutrient levels can be raised without supplementation, by adding variety to your diet. Please ask your doctor.

Cortisol levels

The good news is that once people lose weight, they may be able to continue to keep the weight off. In a prospective (forward-looking) study, results show that once obese patients lose weight, the levels of cortisol metabolite excretion decrease significantly (7).

Why is this important? Cortisol is a glucocorticoid, which means it raises the level of glucose and is involved in mediating visceral or belly fat. This type of fat has been thought to coat internal organs, such as the liver, and result in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Decreasing the level of cortisol metabolite may also result in a lower propensity toward insulin resistance and may decrease the risk of cardiovascular mortality. This is an encouraging preliminary, yet small, study involving women.

Controlling or losing weight is not solely about willpower or calorie-counting. While calories have an impact, the nutrient density of the food may be more important. Thus, those foods high in a variety of micronutrients may also play a significant role in reducing cravings, ultimately helping to manage weight.


(1) Am J Pub Health 2013 Sep 1;103(9):1604-1609. (2) Am J Prev Med.2011 Oct;41(4):434–438. (3) Am J Clin Nutr Online 2013;Jun 26. (4) N Engl J Med 2009 Feb 26;360:859. (5) N Engl J Med 2009 Feb 26;360:923. (6) Medscape General Medicine. 2006;8(4):59. (7) Clin Endocrinol.2013;78(5):700-705.

Dr. David Dunaief is a speaker, author and local lifestyle medicine physician focusing on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management. For further information, visit www.medicalcompassmd.com.

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PSEG Long Island urges customers to think twice if someone threatens to immediately shut off their power

On Consumer Protection Week, PSEG Long Island urges customers to understand the ways scammers impersonate utility employees to trick customers out of their money.

“While we are all looking forward to brighter days ahead, the pandemic has created lingering financial hardship for many, many people, and that is a target-rich environment for scammers,” said Rick Walden, PSEG Long Island’s vice president of Customer Services. “They like to create the impression of an urgent problem in the hopes that your panic will prevent you from seeing all the clues that they’re not who they appear to be. PSEG Long Island wants customers to know the signs, take a moment to think, and then contact us directly using the number on their bill if they’re still not sure.”

Some 4,150 scam calls were reported to PSEG Long Island in 2021, down considerably from the more than 5,900 calls customers reported to the company in 2020.

What customers should know about payment scams

  • Scammers impersonating PSEG Long Island most frequently threaten to shut off power immediately unless payment is made.
  • Many scammers use phone “spoofing” technology to make their number display on your phone as “PSEG Long Island.”
  • PSEG Long Island will never request that customers use one specific method of payment.
  • Scammers typically want their victims to transfer money via a web-based electronic payment service, a prepaid debit card, or even Bitcoin, sometimes asking people to buy a prepaid card at the nearest convenience store and then to read them the PIN over the phone.
  • PSEG Long Island does not accept web-based electronic payment services, prepaid debit cards or Bitcoin as payment.
  • Sometimes phone scammers will demand a deposit for a priority meter installation. PSEG Long Island does not require a deposit for meter installations.
  • If a customer has doubts about the legitimacy of a call or an email — especially one in which payment is requested — call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.

In-person visits

Occasionally, scammers may go door to door impersonating PSEG Long Island employees, flashing a fake ID and/or claiming to be a utility collection representative. The impostors may wear “uniforms” or affix false company signs to their vehicles. The scammers generally ask for personal information, which real utility representatives do not do, or offer bogus discounts. Again, if customers have any doubts, they should not let the person in, and should call 1-800-490-0025 to verify.

PSEG Long Island employees must carry a company ID and present it when requested. If customers have doubts, do not let the person into the house. Call PSEG Long Island at 1-800-490-0025 and a customer service representative will gladly verify if an employee has been dispatched to the location.

Fake websites

Some scammers purchase web domains that closely resemble the actual URL of a utility and create a fraudulent replica of the legitimate website. Their plan is to dupe users who click on these fake sites via search results, or type in an inaccurate web address. Once on the spoofed site, a visitor is presented a number of bill payment options, all pointing back to an outside bill pay site.

PSEG Long Island always uses the “.com” domain. Its real website can be found at www.psegliny.com.

How actual PSEG Long Island reps handle phone calls

Customers should also know what PSEG Long Island will and won’t discuss over the phone. A genuine PSEG Long Island representative will ask to speak to the Customer of Record. If that person is available, the representative will explain why they are calling and provide the account name, address and current balance. If the person on the phone does not provide the correct information, it is likely the customer is not speaking with a PSEG Long Island representative.

If the Customer of Record is not available, the PSEG Long Island representative will not discuss the account at all and ask that a message be left for the Customer of Record to call 1-800-490-0025.

PSEG Long Island is a member of the Utilities United Against Scams (UUAS) collaborative. UUAS, a consortium of more than 145 U.S. and Canadian electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations, has helped to create awareness of common and new scam tactics and to cease operations of nearly 5,000 toll-free numbers used against utility customers by scammers.

For more information on various payment scams reported in the PSEG Long Island service area and around the country, visit https://www.psegliny.com/myaccount/customersupport/scamsandfraud.