The art of fermentation

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 10/10/2012 - 00:00
With little more than salt and water you're on your way

I have hundreds of cookbooks (and too few bookshelves), not to mention access to excellent libraries and the internet. So a cookbook has to be a lot more than a collection of beautiful photographs of the same recipes that are in every other cookbook for me to consider buying it. Never mind recommending that anyone else buy it.

Which means that if you are interested in the science of food - or making your own pickles and beer, wine and cheese, yogurt and soy sauce, kombucha, sour dough bread, dry-cured sausage, or, for that matter, your own indigo dye - and I tell you that you should buy Sandor Ellix Katz's new book The Art of Fermentation, you should at the very least head down to your local bookstore and have a look at it. I am guessing you will buy it, for yourself and every other cook on your gift list.

Categories: Concord News

A soup made for fall

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 10/10/2012 - 00:00

With its robust blend of sweet, creamy, spicy and smoky flavors, this chipotle carrot soup is perfect for a chilly fall afternoon. The beautiful orange color, the subtle smoky-spicy flavor of the chipotle, and the satisfying creamy texture make this recipe a perfect seasonal lunch or appetizer. Consider topping the soup with seared shrimp or shredded pork for a quick weeknight dinner.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound carrots, peeled and diced

2 potatoes, peeled and diced

1 canned chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce), minced

1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotle peppers)

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

salt and ground black pepper

sliced scallions, for serving

Categories: Concord News

Phoning home again: 'E.T.' 30 years later

Concord Monitor Living - Tue, 10/09/2012 - 00:00

How old is too old to sob like a little girl at E.T. - the Extra-Terrestrial? Not 40, apparently.

The Steven Spielberg film that would become a 1980s pop-culture phenomenon is coming out on Blu-Ray for the first time today - 30 years, four Academy Awards and nearly $800 million after its theatrical release. To commemorate this, theaters across the country recently showed a digitally re-mastered version of the film for one night only.

Being a total geek for E.T., I jumped at the chance to see it again in a theater. And yes, I dug up my old red hoodie and bought some Reese's Pieces for the occasion.

Having worked as a film critic for a while now - and with a child of my own - I wanted to find out whether the movie would still have the same emotional impact on me as it did when I was a kid. I wondered whether I looked back fondly at it as a piece of nostalgia, or if the film itself truly was as original, well-made and heart-tugging as I remembered.

Categories: Concord News

'Taken 2' doubles the take

Concord Monitor Living - Mon, 10/08/2012 - 00:00
Neeson action flick outdoes the critics

Critics don't like Taken 2, but Liam Neeson's action sequel has proved twice the hit among fans as the original movie was.

Taken 2 led the box office with $50 million domestically over opening weekend, according to studio estimates yesterday. That's double the haul for Neeson's Taken, which took in $24.7 million in its U.S. debut in early 2009.

Taken went on to become a $145 million smash for Neeson, the Academy Award-nominated star of Schindler's List who has become an unlikely action hero in his 50s.

In Taken 2, Neeson returns as a retired CIA agent using his expert espionage and killing skills to take on a gang of thugs out for revenge against him and his family.

Categories: Concord News

Ugly engagement ring might grow on her

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00
Baggage Check

Q: I recently got engaged to a fantastic guy, and I couldn't be happier. Which is why I feel terrible that I really don't like my engagement ring, like really don't like it.

I wanted to be surprised, but now I wish we had picked it out together. It's just not my style at all. But I don't want to crush my fiance. Am I stuck with this?

A: My guess is that over time your ring will bother you less. Before the bridezillas attack me, yes, if you're going to be wearing this ring forever, you have the right to have it be something you love. But if your engagement is new, you may very well find that the ring will grow on you, and there's a chance that you'll eventually become attached enough to it that you wouldn't dream of switching it up.

Categories: Concord News

Great pumpkins!

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00

What a thrill it must have been for Steve Geddes of Boscawen to bring his giant pumpkin to the Deerfield Fair and have it weigh in at a whopping 1,843.5 pounds - a new world record! But alas the record didn't stand for long in this ultra-competitive branch of gardening.

A monster pumpkin from Rhode Island smashed the record when it weighed in at just over a ton at the Topsfield Fair.

Categories: Concord News

Do you have fashion cents?

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00
Buying, selling used make designer duds more accessible

Once upon a time, picking up pre-loved clothes was reserved for bargain hunters. Now, thrifting, swapping and consigning are widespread money-saving tactics and lucrative hobbies for those who choose to buy low and sell high.

At the height of the recession in 2008, thrift stores started booming. Many Goodwill and Salvation Army stores reported double-digit sales increases at locations across the country in 2010 and 2011. While the economic slump helped the resale industry grow, so did fashion magazines and bloggers, which have prominently featured vintage pieces season after season.

But how do you know if you're buying trash or treasure? And should you swap or sell when you're finished wearing?

We talked to expert shoppers and swappers to learn how they work thrift stores and swapping events. And once you've mastered the buy-trade-sell cycle, you may find retail shopping isn't nearly as much fun.

Buy: thrift stores

Categories: Concord News

Burton's roots

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00
Review New film melds creepy and kooky

Tim Burton reminds us of why we love Tim Burton with Frankenweenie, a feature-length version of the 1984 short that revealed early glimmers of the veteran director's darkly humorous style.

Beautifully detailed and painstakingly rendered in 3-D, black-and-white, stop-motion animation, Frankenweenie is a visual and thematic return to the best Burton has offered in his earliest films, such as Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice. And it is a welcome return, given the reheated, unfocused nature of some of his more recent films like Dark Shadows.

Categories: Concord News

Perfectly pumpkin

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00
We unselfishly tested several seasonal beers in an effort to help you feel confident navigating the store shelves

Each autumn, even before the leaves turn, the store shelves shed their summer beers for the autumn varieties. This year, pumpkin beers are taking up even more shelf space. While there has been a selection of pumpkin beers in recent years, this fall, it seems like every brewery is making its own version.

To help you navigate the squash- and spice-flavored offerings, we assembled a group of taste-testers to try out six pumpkin beers available in area stores. We blind taste-tested the beers, giving each a rating based on a 10-point scale, and then compared our notes.

With so many beers out there we were bound to miss some. We did not get a chance to compare notes on Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale but hope to soon.

Here's the scoop on the six we tried:

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale

Categories: Concord News

Acorns are falling on my head

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00

Lately when walking in the woods, I feel like I should be wearing a hard hat. Acorns are raining down, thunking on the ground, pinging on metal roofs and causing my chickens to think the sky is falling. Yet for some birds and mammals the acorns are manna from heaven. These seeds from oak trees are packed with carbohydrates, protein, fats and minerals that provide nutrition now and through the winter for a wide variety of wildlife species.

Categories: Concord News

Come for the dugong, stay for the rest

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 10/07/2012 - 00:00
Japan Animal obsession trends toward ugly

Americans may seem obsessed with animals, with day care for dogs and TV therapists for cats, not to mention the hours we spend looking at photos of cute critters on the Internet. But it's generally the conventionally adorable ones that get our attention. On a recent trip to Japan I found ample evidence of our two countries' mutual adoration of pets and pandas. But it was a pleasure to immerse myself in a culture that shares my appreciation for more unusual creatures as well. Here are some highlights.


One of my lifelong dreams was to see a dugong. There are only a handful of these sea mammals related to manatees in captivity, none in North America. One of them is in the Toba Aquarium in Mie Prefecture, about three hours by train from Tokyo.

Categories: Concord News

Golden Age glimpses

Concord Monitor Living - Thu, 10/04/2012 - 00:00
Manchester Currier resurrects fine-art postcards Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  The Captain of the Infantry

The prints in the Currier Museum's new exhibition are oversize postcards from the Dutch Golden Age. The story behind them is one of art and money. Building on a printmaking tradition that stretched back at least two centuries, some of the best artists in the world set out to supply an emerging merchant class with affordable pictures. And behold, here many of them are, though no longer quite so affordable.

The exhibition, titled "Printmaking in the Age of Rembrandt," bears the name of the best-known of these artists. Art-lovers drawn to the show to see Rembrandt's work - and who wouldn't be? - will not be disappointed. But the fine art of many other printmakers is on display, and it is not to be missed.

Categories: Concord News

Tiny tales, big effects

Concord Monitor Living - Thu, 10/04/2012 - 00:00
Concord Short-film festival comes to NHTI

In 12 minutes and 50 seconds, a monster can terrorize a community. In 8 minutes and 20 seconds, a ridiculous decree can become a syllabus for terror. And in 11 minutes, a little boy can save the world.

Short films don't have the luxury of time to tell their tales, but that doesn't mean they can't pack the same plot punch as their feature-length brethren.

The Manhattan Short Film Festival is known as the World's First Global Film Festival. Through Sunday, 10 short films from 10 countries will be screened moe than 1,000 times to an audience of over 100,000 gathered in cinemas, museums, schools and universities in over 250 cities throughout six continents, according to Manhattan film officials.

In New Hampshire, the films will be shown tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Categories: Concord News


Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 10/03/2012 - 00:00
The typical celebration is easily adapted to suit a gluten-free lifestyle Embed multimedia (photos, galleries, audio, map):  Gluten-free beer battered brats and pretzels

Warm, chewy pretzels. Tangy brats. Fragrant desserts. For most German Americans, these are the flavors of fall. And, although the traditional versions of these dishes are loaded with wheat, barley and other allergens, it's possible to serve up an Oktoberfest menu that's gluten free.

Oktoberfest is an annual festival that unfolds in Munich over the course of two weeks at the end of September and the beginning of October. The tradition dates back to 1810, when a German prince celebrated his nuptials with horse racing and, of course, beer.

According to one estimate, festival goers sucked down 7 million liters of suds at the 2007 Munich Oktoberfest. Beer - albeit it gluten-free and in much smaller quantities - lends flavor to the main dish in the menu below. If you'd prefer to skip the alcohol, try braising the sausages in apple cider with an extra pinch or two of salt.

Categories: Concord News

Beef stew in a jiffy

Concord Monitor Living - Wed, 10/03/2012 - 00:00

Here's a recipe that makes a seasonal favorite - stew - weeknight friendly.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1½ pounds sirloin beef tips, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups cubed butternut squash (½-inch cubes)

1 cup baby carrots, halved

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

28-ounces crushed tomatoes

2 cups beef broth

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon mustard powder

salt and ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the beef, in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan, and cook, turning, until browned on all sides but still rare at the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Categories: Concord News

Man's suicide airs live on Fox

Concord Monitor Living - Tue, 10/02/2012 - 00:00

Fox News and its viewers got a lesson in the perils of live television Friday afternoon when a driver chased by the police emerged from a car and fatally shot himself in the head.

The episode was the rare instance in which a TV newscast showed an act of violence live. Most stations use delays of live broadcasts to avoid showing scenes that might be upsetting to their viewers.

Fox aired images, taken from a news helicopter, of the man running from the car, then stopping and apparently raising a gun to his head. He then collapsed.

The cable network immediately cut away from the incident outside of Phoenix and went to a commercial. Anchor Shepard Smith came back minutes later and offered a lengthy apology. "That didn't belong on TV," he said in part. "We took every precaution we knew how to take to keep that from being on TV, and I personally apologize to you that that happened. . . . I'm sorry."

Categories: Concord News

I've come a long way, baby

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
Shouting from the sidelines is no longer my style; I prefer to fester on the inside

I'm not a crazy sports parent. I'm not that dad climbing on the dugout, howling at the ump for justice. Don't call me the father who coaches his child's every movement from a deluxe fold-up sideline recliner despite a soccer knowledge consisting of "foot good, hand bad."

And in no way am I part of that dual-headed parenting beast, the mom-dad lacrosse combo that scolds any teammate who stands in the way of family greatness by screeching, "Pass it to Dakota!"

I'm not that guy. Well, at least not anymore.

Sure, I've said things - we've all said things, but I was only practicing "active parenting."

Screaming, "Hey kid, take that piano off your back!" or "Mr. Referee, your incompetence is outdone only by your ineptitude," or "You call that goal keeping?" was my way of letting everyone know I was paying attention. Granted, I might have chosen a more elegant way of speaking. But that's in the past.

Categories: Concord News

Bypass air travel if possible

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
Internet tools can help you avoid ever-increasing fees

Has the recent depressing coverage about airline fees left you wondering if there are ways to circumvent the airlines altogether? Well, sure! It turns out that the internet offers some interesting alternatives as well as some truly helpful websites should you choose to travel the old-fashioned way: by car.

Virtual travel: A friend recently forwarded me a virtual travel website that promised to be so enthralling that I would "never want to get on an airplane again." Not likely, I thought, but I was curious (and brave) enough to click on it - The "ru" extension means that the website is registered in Russia, but text is provided in Russian and English. The concept is to provide spherical 360-degree video of the world's most dramatic, popular and interesting destinations around the world. Think the Matterhorn, Dubai, Istanbul, the Pyramids at Giza, the Taj Mahal, Victoria Falls, Rio de Janeiro and much, much more.

Categories: Concord News

Cute things comein small packages

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
In animal adoptions, runts often go first

For puppies and kittens, size really does matter. Shelters say smaller animals get adopted faster, and animal experts say the runt of a litter tends to be better protected by the mother. Pet owners-to-be tend to heap attention on them, since they're attracted to big heads on little bodies.

"Humans are drawn to animals or beings of any kind whose proportion of eyes to head is large," said Dr. Julie Meadows, a faculty veterinarian at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis. "It's why we all coo when we look" at babies, whether they're human or animal.

For runts destined to become family pets, their size is their greatest risk before birth but also their greatest appeal after birth.

"It's the underdog, undercat thing," said Gayle Guthrie, founder-director of Stray Love Foundation in Magnolia Springs, Ala.

Categories: Concord News

Scary sights

Concord Monitor Living - Sun, 09/30/2012 - 00:00
Many cities, theme parks, zoos succumb to the season

Too old to trick-or-treat? Busy the night of Oct. 31? That's okay, because Halloween has become a seasonal holiday, with attractions and activities for all ages from late September through early November.

Many cities now have local haunted house attractions, community zombie walks and ghost tours. Amusement parks small and large revamp for the month of October with faux graveyards, haunted trails and actors dressed like freaks. Some attractions - like Universal's Halloween Horror Nights - are so creepy they are not recommended for guests under 13.

Other entertainment venues - from Disney parks to zoos, museums, aquariums and even indoor water parks like Great Wolf Lodge resorts - host Halloween events geared to younger kids.

Categories: Concord News
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