Tags Posts tagged with "Holidays"

Holidays

Toys collected by Exit Realty Island Elite
Photo from EXIT Eealty Island Elite

In gratitude for the support shown to EXIT Realty Island Elite by the local community, the real estate brokerage recently started collecting toys for the RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE and GIVE KIDS HOPE INC. charities for Jackson’s Toys Drive.

Before he lost his fight to cancer, Jackson asked his mother about whether the children spending their holidays in the hospital received gifts. He believed that no child should go without… that gift-giving was part of the healing process, a way to brighten up their stay and give them hope. Ever since, his mother has worked tirelessly to give throughout Long Island.

“We are proud to be partnered again with JACKSON’S TOY DRIVE, so that we can keep Jackson’s dream alive. The  support of the  local community has been phenonemal.  This year we  will have collected hundreds of toys! That will make a big difference during these challenging times ,” says Jason Furnari, Broker/Owner of EXIT Realty Island Elite located at 4699 Nesconset Highway, Suite 2, in Port Jefferson Station.  For more information, call 631-331-4000 or visit  www.EXITRealtyIslandElite.com.

In the photo: Rebecca Tripoli (center front) and Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci (center back) with Rebecca’s mother (Sara), father (Frank), grandparents, aunt, uncle and two cousins. Photo from Town of Huntington

Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci honored Rebecca Tripoli, a 4th grader from Melville, on Monday, December 21, for raising $140 in donations to purchase supplies for families in local shelters.

 “Rebecca represents the best of the greater Huntington community. Not only did she selflessly think of others during the holiday season, which can be a tough time for many, especially those in need, but she did something about it and made an impact at our shelters and in the hearts of many across our community,” said Sup. Lupinacci as he presented a proclamation from the Huntington Town Board to Rebecca outside her home on Monday evening.

9-year-old Rebecca Tripoli, a 4th grader from Melville, took up a collection to buy supplies for local shelters, raising $140. She researched local shelters’ websites, saw what they needed, made a list and went shopping.

“I felt grateful that my life was great, and I thought of the homeless people that had nothing. So I bought groceries to give them something,” said Rebecca, who purchased “fruit cups, ramen noodles, black beans, candy canes, pasta, canned vegetables, chicken soup, water and juice boxes, diapers, baby lotion, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, and shaving cream,” all of which was donated to Family Service League.

Rebecca’s mother Sara added that Rebecca knew candy canes weren’t on the list but she wanted to do something to make the children smile around Christmas, “Rebecca’s father and I really are proud that she came up with the idea to help people less fortunate than her. We talk about this together a lot, that there are people right here in our community and in her school that don’t have enough food to eat, or even a place to live. She has a big heart and also a lot of ambition, and decided to do something about it. We were really surprised and honored that Mr. Lupinacci came to our home and recognized her for her work. It was an exciting day for us all!”

Town of Brookhaven's Youth Bureau head Josephine Lunde, along with Centereach resident and matriarch of the donation drive EJ's PJs Patricia Poggi stand among the hundreds of pajamas donated for children who need them. Photo from Poggi

Ten years on, and a Centereach family and friends are still donating pajamas for kids to warm themselves during the holiday months. This year, despite the pandemic, has been their biggest drive yet.

Hundreds of pajamas were donated to the Town of Brookhaven’s INTERFACE program to help give kids that warm holiday feeling on these cold nights. Photo from Patricia Poggi

The Centereach Poggi family, which includes mom Patricia and her three sons, started EJ’s PJs in 2011 when the mother’s brother asked her two older sons, Edward and Jeremy, to find a charity to donate to instead of giving them gifts. 

“Because we always wore ‘Poggi plaid’ pajamas on Christmas morning, we came up with the concept to start our own pajama drive so that clouds would be able to feel warm, comfy and cozy and have a fresh pair or brand new pajamas feeling,” Patricia Poggi said.

Her youngest son, Patrick, was 1-years-old when it got started, and now he is 11, having grown up participating in the drive.

At first, their drive included just a single bin on the front porch of the Poggi residence, but now with the support of many local shops throughout Brookhaven, EJ’s PJs has ramped up to include 22 drop off boxes all throughout the town. 

Last year, I started getting into a few businesses to help us in hopes that our 10th year would get us to our highest and it did,” Patricia Poggi said.

Jeremy Poggi, a student at Centereach High School, helped facilitate work with one of the school clubs to generate extra donations. 

“This year was easily our biggest year,” he said. 

And in a year of COVID, when more and more people are struggling financially, such generosity is felt even moreso.

“We are thankful for the support of our new and existing partners who are committed to make this 10th year our biggest pajama drive yet,” Messina wrote in an email. “In a year where the world has been turned upside down, we are grateful to be able to do our small part with the community’s assistance to provide a warm and cozy pair of pajamas to children and teens in need.”

METRO photo

By Barbara Beltrami

In case you haven’t noticed, the ongoing theme of my recent columns has been coping with and compensating for COVID restrictions while celebrating the holidays. So here I go again. I believe that whether you’re alone or with just your immediate family (and I do hope for your sake and everyone else’s that it won’t be more than that), you should make the holiday as merry as you can. 

A great way to do that for Christmas Eve or Christmas dinner is to carry out the red and green theme in as many dishes as possible. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be festive. I’m thinking that spinach lasagna rollups might do the trick paired with a butter lettuce and arugula salad with bell pepper confetti and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Then for dessert, how about a parfait of pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream with fresh raspberry sauce? These are just a few ideas. Raid your refrigerator, shop early and come up with your own red and green Christmas dishes.

Spinach Lasagna Rollups

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 garlic cloves, minced

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped basil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the rollups:

Nonstick cooking spray

12 lasagna noodles (not no-boil)

One 16-ounce container ricotta cheese

Half a 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and all liquid squeezed out

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 large egg

1 handful fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

3 cups(or more) tomato sauce to taste

1 cup shredded mozzarella

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan warm oil over medium heat; add onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they become transparent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until it releases its aroma, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper and a few tablespoons water and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce is thickened and liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F; coat a shallow baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain, then lay out in baking pan.

In a medium bowl thoroughly combine the ricotta, spinach, Parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of baking pan spread ricotta mixture evenly along each noodle, then top with a thin layer of tomato sauce and carefully roll up; place seam side down evenly in baking dish and spoon remaining sauce over them. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake until they are heated through, sauce is bubbly and mozzarella has melted, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with arugula and butter lettuce salad.

Arugula and Butter Lettuce Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

YIELD: Makes 6 servings

INGREDIENTS: 

1 large bunch arugula, washed and stems removed

1head butter lettuce or Boston lettuce

6 radishes, cleaned and cut into matchstick-size strips

1/2 cup fresh or bottled pomegranate juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 to 3 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Seeds from half a pomegranate

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

DIRECTIONS: 

In a large salad bowl, toss together the arugula, lettuce and radishes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the pomegranate juice, vinegars, honey, mustard, and salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and diced peppers. Serve immediately at room temperature with lasagna rollups.

Fresh Raspberry Sauce

YIELD: Makes 1 1/2 cups

INGREDIENTS: 

3/4 pound fresh raspberries, picked over

2 tablespoons sugar or to taste

1/2 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS: 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the berries, sugar, water and lemon juice. Stirring frequently, cook until sugar dissolves, raspberries fall apart and sauce bubbles, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate or serve warm over pistachio or mint chocolate chip ice cream accompanied by Christmas cookies.

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Staff member Jan Liebegott hands goodies to event participants. Photo from Comsewogue Public Library

Comsewogue Public Library, along with Elwood-based culinary school The Baking Coach, hosted a special Hot Chocolate and Cookies to Go! event Friday, Dec. 11. Staff delighted in how the event brought joy to the members and visitors who took part. 

Staff members, Regine Drosos, left, and Denise Ruestow, right, get ready for the event. Photo from Comsewogue Public Library

“I saw a lot of ‘smiling eyes’ that day,” said Adult Services Librarian Jennifer Quirk-Senyk, referring to the fact that all were wearing masks. “And so many people expressed their sincere thanks and said things like, ‘what a great idea.’”

This event was planned by library staff to be as pandemic-safe as possible.  Participants practiced social distancing while picking up their goodies. Nothing was consumed on premises and everything was packaged to go. The hot chocolate part of the giveaway was “add your own hot water at home” but definitely included the marshmallows. The delicious, individually-wrapped iced snowman cookies were made by The Baking Coach, as were the hot chocolate cup and contents ensembles. To add to the fun, the Library gave out a limited number of Snickerdoodle baking kits to those who visited between the hours of 2 and 4:30 p.m., while supplies lasted.

To find out about more of the Library’s programs and services, visit www.cplib.org or call 631-928-1212.

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Nicole Haff’s students hang on to the walls of Terryville elementary as part of a project to increase togetherness when everyone remains seperate. Photo by Deniz Yildirim

By Deniz Yildirim

It’s safe to say that many of us are looking forward to the end of 2020, no one more so than teachers. Last school year was disrupted by COVID-19 and this school year had a challenging start for the same reason. Teachers had to think outside of the box to reinvent every part of their day to accommodate safe practices like social distancing; could you imagine story time without gathering your class on a carpet or learning your students names without seeing their faces?  

Despite all of these challenges, Comsewogue schools are making it work, and are creating some much needed cheer for the holidays. For the past six years Terryville Road Elementary School has hosted a door decorating contest and produced some truly genius and show stopping doors. Since classes have been split into two groups, the obvious theme was “We are seperate together.” This year students worked “together” to decorate pieces which they applied to the door. With the help of teachers and aids, classes created delightful and creative doors like Jackie Dunn’s 4th grade class. They decorated both doors and included the space between them to make a mountain landscape with a zipline which students are riding into each others’ room. 

Even virtual students were able to participate. Annemarie Sciove, the Terryville elementary principal, compiled pictures of finished school doors and included pictures from virtual students which was then presented to the school during an in school virtual assembly. 

“It’s very important to remember we are together even if we can’t see each other.” Sciove said. 

In keeping with that mindset, the school donated over $1,000 to families in need during this difficult time. Superintendent Jennifer Quinn makes a point to visit every school during this hectic time and this year her nephew has joined the Terryville family. She said, “Terryville never ceases to amaze me! The doors are a visual representation of  what we are doing with our hearts.”

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

This year will truly be one to remember; not because of any extraordinary achievement, but rather it was a year when the world almost stopped and millions of people died around the world because of COVID-19.

In our country alone, more than 1/4 of a million people have senselessly lost their lives. Every day we are breaking a record for people dying from the coronavirus.

Thanksgiving was celebrated in ways that most of us never imagined. So many families had empty plates at their table representing loved ones that could not come home and loved ones who have passed because of the virus. Unfortunately, some people did not heed the recommendations for gathering on Thanksgiving to keep all of us safe. As we prepare for Christmas, the virus is surging.

Christmas time is supposed to be a season where we celebrate renewed hope and gratitude for all the many gifts and blessings we’ve received. We give thanks for all the people who have blessed our life. The Christmas season is always marked with an energy that is transformative.

This year Christmas is going to be very different. However, we really should take pause and give thanks in the midst of all the suffering and struggle for the countless gifts and blessings each of us have. It’s a time to stay focused and mindful of what we have in this present moment. It’s a time to give not out of our excess but out of our need. It’s a time to welcome the stranger as a friend and brother or sister. It’s a time for making peace, healing fractured relationships and building new bridges that cross over troubled waters.

This Christmas season provides us a powerful opportunity to join hands and give voice to the voiceless, to work for social justice and respect for all God’s people, no matter who they are or where they are. This time of year is an opportunity to support the dignity and respect of every human person.

In the midst of our fear and anxiety, this holiday season is a powerful moment to renew and affirm the people and relationships that are most important in our lives. It’s an opportunity to reach out to those that we’ve become distant from and reconnect.

This Christmas marks my 40th Christmas in Port Jefferson. So much has happened from my first days as a young parish priest at Infant Jesus. My life has been so blessed and enriched by the countless people I have been privileged to know and work with. The collaborative spirit and compassion in our village that transcends religious traditions and socioeconomic profiles has inspired me and helped me to stay the course all these years. The work that I’ve been able to do is in large measure thanks to the generosity and love from so many.

Thousands of broken young men are whole raising their own families, making positive contributions to our larger community and giving back in countless ways. All of that has happened and continues to happen because of your generosity, your courage and your power of example.

This Christmas I am grateful for the countless miracles I have witnessed every day for 40 years and for the collaborative spirit on the part of so many that have contributed to the transformation of so many wounded and broken people. Thank you for helping to renew my hope. I am forever grateful. Christmas blessings!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Ring in the holiday season with a stroll through the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s annual Promenade of Trees!      

Over 60 decorated trees currently line the walkways of the Stony Brook Village Center, 111 Main Street, Stony Brook for the WMHO’s annual Holiday Tree Competition. Voting for the competition is now open to the public through Dec. 21. Ballots can be found in the shops and restaurants within the Center.

The “favorite” tree designer will receive a $150 gift certificate to the Stony Brook Village Center and will be announced on the Stony Brook Village Center Facebook page on Dec. 22. The festive trees will be on view through Jan. 4.

Photos courtesy of the WMHO

Duff Goldman

By Melissa Arnold

Pastry chef Duff Goldman has risen to become one of the titans of the baking world over the past 20 years. His bakery, Charm City Cakes, has crafted incredible sweets for anything from a child’s first birthday to a presidential inauguration, and he’s a fixture on the Food Network. Since 2014, Goldman has judged the network’s Kids Baking Championship, gently encouraging the eager contestants with pro tips and a sense of humor.

This year, he released Super Good Baking for Kids (HarperCollins), an easy-to-read cookbook covering kitchen basics and unique, whimsical recipes for bakers of any skill level. Kids are encouraged to experiment and have fun in the kitchen as they whip up dessert pizzas and tacos, unicorn cupcakes, Boston creme donuts and much more. The book is also full of helpful photos and interesting facts — a great addition to any kid’s (or adult’s!) holiday haul.

Goldman took some time to chat with TBR News Media recently about the book, his early food memories, and how parents can support their kids’ culinary adventures.

Lately, you’ve been working with kids a lot. Did your own interest in baking begin as a child?

Definitely, the interest began with cooking in general. My mom is a really good cook, my grandmother was a really good cook, and my great-grandmother was a baker. So I was always around it, and some of my earliest memories are food-related. Good food is really important to our family as a “thing,” not just as something that keeps you going. It’s a part of who we are.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Well, I read cookbooks all the time, and I’ve been reading a lot of kids’ cookbooks recently. I found myself thinking, “You know, these are okay, but if I were 9 or 10 years old I probably wouldn’t be that satisfied.” So I wanted to write a book that I thought I would enjoy [at that age]. When I think about the things I like in a cookbook, I’m looking for lots of details and things to discover. A good cookbook for kids is about a lot more than using bubble letters and crazy colors. Kids love facts, lists, pictures. And that’s what I wanted to give them.

Have the kids ever taught you something new?

Oh, yeah! One of the girls on Kids Baking Championship made a cupcake that had a graham cracker crust on the bottom, which I had never heard of before. I thought it was genius. So I decided to make a cookies-and-creme cupcake for this book that uses an Oreo crust because of what she taught me. There’s also a recipe in there for rainbow brownies — my wife and I took a big road trip for our honeymoon, and we visited some of her family. I asked one of her cousins who was 8 or 9 years old what recipe she would want in a cookbook, and she immediately said she wanted rainbow brownies. I told her, “You can’t have rainbow brownies — brownies are brown!” She told me to figure it out! So I did.

How do you go about deciding which recipes go into a cookbook?

We made a list of things that I’ve made in the past that people really tend to like, or recipes that get a lot of questions. There are certain things people are always asking how to make, so a lot of the process was about answering those questions people wonder about.

Some of the recipes I’ve included because I see them as a bit aspirational — something they can work toward and tackle as they get better. For example, the Boston creme donut recipe in there is the exact donut recipe I use in my own kitchen. There’s nothing different about it — nothing is made easier or safer, and they’re still being deep-fried in oil.

But watching kids on Kids Baking Championship shows you a lot about what kids can do. They can make fried stuff. They can use yeast. They can do it, as long as someone is there to help and make sure they work safely. The same can be said for working with knives when it’s appropriate — you can teach them that a knife is not a toy, that it’s sharp and it can hurt you.

Cooking can be dangerous, but it’s important to learn that you can do it safely if you treat it with respect. I wanted to include some of those lessons in the book as well and that we didn’t shy away from it, because I think sometimes people are excessively afraid. Just because there’s a risk involved doesn’t mean it should necessarily be avoided. I’m a big believer in giving kids a sense of accomplishment — it affects them in so many positive ways.

What are a couple of your favorite recipes in the book?

The brown butter blondies that are in there are one of my favorite things to eat, and they’re great to make for others because they’re so good. The dessert pizza recipe was actually suggested by my editor — I don’t really like them; I always thought it was a dumb idea. But I was challenged to make a dessert pizza I would enjoy, so I asked myself what it would be like — brownie stuffed crust! Red velvet sauce!

Dessert imposters [desserts that are made to resemble other foods] are a really big thing on Kids Baking Championship. The kids really look forward to it, so I wanted to make sure I included that as well. I love tacos, so I gave a lot of thought to what ingredients you could use in a dessert that looks like a taco but is still delicious.

What would you say to a kid who wants to become a baker?

The first thing to know is that it takes practice. The first chocolate cake you ever bake might not come out so good. And that’s okay. But as you keep baking, you’ll get better and better. It’s a new experience every time — sometimes it works out great, and sometimes things come out terrible. Even for me, when I make things today there’s always this feeling of excitement, like, “Oh boy, is this going to work out? I don’t know! Let’s see!”

What advice would you give a parent who is reluctant or nervous about letting their child cook or bake?

Honestly, truly ­— get over the fear! Seriously. I’m not saying that you should just let your kid go alone into the kitchen and deep fry some donuts. Go and be a part of it, do it with them! Read the directions, Google some safety tips, talk about it together. It doesn’t have to be scary. Some recipes or techniques can look intimidating just because you’ve never tried it before, and then you do it, and boom, you’ve gained a skill.

What age group is this book best for?

We’ve seen 9-year-olds come on Kids Baking Championship and totally school the other kids. So I don’t want to set an age requirement. And these recipes are legit — these aren’t little kid recipes where everything is a variation of a sugar cookie. You’re making donuts, puff pastry, pâte à choux — it’s all real pastry technique. I think the book is appropriate for any person, kid or adult, who shows interest and is willing to learn.

Super Good Baking for Kids is available at Book Revue in Huntington, Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.

Michael Johnston has been decking his car with holiday cheer since he was 16. Photo by Julianne Mosher

Driving along Route 25A, you might have seen a boxy vehicle decked out in lights. Candy canes stick out from its top alongside green garland. 

The Long Island Holiday Jeep has been seen throughout Port Jefferson, near Stony Brook University, and even out into Huntington. Every holiday season, Michael Johnston joins dozens of other people on the road, decorating their vehicles as part of a group called The Christmas Convoy.

The 19-year-old Setauket resident said he began decorating cars before he was even able to drive, at age 16 with his father. 

“This year I went all out because it was such a depressing year,” he said. 

Usually his Jeep Renegade has about 2,000 lights on it, he said. This year he added 3,000 more. 

“It’s just fun to do,” he said. “It’s fun to get reactions from people and everyone loves it … other than some cops.”

The Holiday Jeep lit up at night. Photo from Michael Johnston

Unlike some his Convoy-counterparts, Johnston decorates for most holidays. He’s been at the Huntington St. Patrick’s Day Parade adorning green, dazzled with hearts for Valentine’s Day and with Easter Bunny ears placed at his car’s top in the spring. He’s decorated for Thanksgiving and Halloween, but nothing compares to Christmas. 

Johnston is a delivery driver for DoorDash, so he’s always out and about.

“Everyone has a way different reaction,” he said. “Some people scream, they wave, and they ask me questions about it.”

He said he hopes that the bright lights on the road spread some holiday cheer during a rather bleak time. 

For now, he and his holiday Jeep can be spotted all across the North Shore, and eventually, the young man hopes, it might be another vehicle. 

“I actually want to get a new car,” he said. “A Cadillac Escalade.”