Dinner By Design

Food can be a conundrum for the average person in any given day or week. The challenge of meal planning can be exasperating – if you let it. This column will be about one particular meal – how one adapts and relies less on a scripted recipe. After all a recipe is only a guide.

I could write a book on what it was like growing up in the 60′s and 70′s – and maybe I will. Everyone had a vegetable garden. There was not the overabundance of convenience or frozen foods like today. But for now I want to focus on one aspect of food preparation. Even to this day I am thrifty when it comes to using leftovers and making do with whatever is on hand to put a meal together. I am my mother’s daughter. If I don’t have what the recipe calls for I am able to substitute something else. And there comes the challenge. For me though I just roll with it. I am hoping to impart to you some of the ways I use and reuse food.

I admit I throw away all the flyers that come in the newspaper especially for the latest convenience foods. Where are the coupons and savings for the food staples that we really need such as milk, eggs, fruits and vegetables? I am cautious even when it comes to boxed and canned items I must buy. I’ll tell you about one key item as the cooking demo progresses.*

I am no expert but I could present a good front on one of those food cook-offs on TV. I trained as a personal chef under the guidance of the United States Personal Chef Association for a short time. But it was not the right decision then with small children to look after. So when my state license came up for renewal (Dinner by Design) I thought long and hard before giving it up. Nothing attempted and pursued is ever a failure. This was a trial I set myself up for and it did end but not before reaching into some amazing places with people and creative projects.

And now back to the meal plan.

The following slide presentation shows how to take another look at vegetable items not quite ready for the compost heap and worthy of redemption.

The soup needed only a pinch of salt and pepper. The flavor was fabulous!

Add whatever toppings (or none at all) to give it another flavor such as a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, croutons or a crumble of crackers.

* The chicken stock is something I never buy. When making any chicken dish I save the leftover layer in the baking dish. Place in a dish and refrigerate. When solidified scoop off the fat layer and you have yummy goodness for any recipe. After using up a whole chicken I either save the carcass and put in the freezer when I have time or right then and there I may heat a pot of water to 3/4 covering the chicken. Add a cut up onion and celery, boil it all for awhile until it reduces somewhat. Strain into a bowl. Ladle set amounts such as 1/2 cup and 1 cup. Put this into coffee mugs and put in the freezer. When solid take out and put into individual baggies. All set and ready to go for your next meal. No cost and the best chicken stock around.

Other suggestions: Add milk or cream for another boost of flavor. If your needs are dairy and/or vegan friendly omit the chicken stock and use water or vegetable stock (homemade the same way as the chicken stock). Just use vegetables you may otherwise discard along with the tops of a celery bunch, carrot peels, etc.

Debbie Curtin writes stories about people, places, events and other topics of interest that engage the reader. As a member of the New Hampshire Writer’s Project, Debbie keeps ‘in the game’ with other like minded people. She has been an artist and creative person all her life and uses the unlimited sources of inspiration that abound everywhere in her writing as another art form.


Personal Preparedness Workshop to be Held Wednesday

The Londonderry Elder Affairs Committee and the Greater Derry Medical Reserve Corps will be hosting a Personal Preparedness Workshop this Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the Londonderry Leach Library.

The workshop will provide participants with the information, tools and strategies to assist individuals in becoming better prepared for a range of possible emergencies and disasters. The workshop will teach participants to:

  • Understand the importance of personal preparedness;
  • Identify barriers to planning;
  • Assemble emergency preparedness resources that are already in your home;
  • Assess your level of preparedness;
  • Learn the 3 key components of a personal emergency plan.

The workshop will be held at the Library from 6 until 7 PM. The library is located at 276 Mammoth Road in Londonderry.


Special Series to Play on LEO Radio

Londonderry’s LEO radio station will be broadcasting a new special series of radio dramas beginning Friday night, October 25, 2013. The dramas, produced by members of the Londonderry High School Radio Club, will feature the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and War of the Worlds.

The two episodes of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, based on the British Radio Series, were recorded by last year’s Radio Club members. The recreation of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds was recorded in 2008 for the 70th anniversary of the broadcast, using Welles’ original script. This year’s radio club will begin recording new episodes soon.

The schedule for the special series is as follows:

Friday, October 25 – Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Episode 1: 4, 6, 8, and 10 PM
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Episode 2: 4:30, 6:30, 8:30, and 10:30 PM

Wednesday, October 30 and Thursday, October 31, 2013
War of the Worlds: 4, 6, 8, and 10 PM

Friday, November 1 – Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Episode 1: 4, 6, 8, and 10 PM
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Episode 2: 4:30, 6:30, 8:30, and 10:30 PM

Be sure to catch the series on air at 102.9 PM, streaming online here, or on demand at the LEO website.



I am a firm believer in the power of a solid marriage to weather those storms occasionally caused by miscommunication in the proverbial family unit. You know, like when your spouse asks you eight times to take out the trash and you say ‘sure’ eight times while continuing to watch TV. The ninth time you take a stiff whack to the side of the head and finally get the hint. And it’s even worse when the wife asks the husband…

These little spats seem to blow over quickly within the framework of a good marriage – even if it takes some people a couple of trips down the aisle to get a real feel for this stuff. And that’s what marriage is all about. Communication. The give and take of questions and answers. His point of view vs. her point of view. Truthful answers to difficult questions.

There are, however, certain questions that are probably best left unanswered within the confines of a good marriage – especially if the wife is asking the questions of her husband. Because some answers just won’t suffice.

Here are a few classic examples.

What husband hasn’t, on occasion been confronted with this question – “Honey, do I look fat in these pants?” This is a truly dangerous question, often asked by a wife who has her own doubts. Just how does a husband answer that question without getting in hot water? If his wife is, in fact, a little chunky, a straightforward guy might say something like “Truthfully, dear, you look like a whale.” If he’s a guy who weighs both sides of an issue, he might say “No, dear, you looked fatter in those other pants.” The guy who truly enjoys his wife’s shapeliness might say “Not at all, honey, I’ve always liked the way you bulge out over the waistband.”

If she happens to weigh in at about 110 lbs, her husband may just roll his eyes at the absurdity of the question. And if he says “You look perfect in those pants, dear,” she’ll probably accuse him of lying. It’s a question to be avoided at all cost, if harmony is to reign in the marriage. There is no win-win answer.

Other questions often come up in the course of, let’s say, a simple walk through the mall on a Sunday afternoon. Wives will often spot situations that their husbands don’t even see. A couple could be leisurely strolling, hand in hand, when the wife spots a truly beautiful girl and idly says to her husband “Honey, see that woman over there? Do you think she’s pretty?” This is always asked with a slight tilt of the head and a hint of a coy smile. It’s dangerous territory for any husband.

Aside from the immediate sensation of a cold sweat running over his body, how is a husband to respond to this? Should the guy say “Honey she doesn’t hold a candle to you.”? Would that work if his wife is fifty and “normally proportioned” while the woman she picked out is 25 and so strikingly beautiful that she turns the head of every guy in the mall? Whether the husband is truthful or lying, it’s still not a question that he should answer.

As marriages get deeper into the double digit years, it’s not uncommon for a wife to ask her husband “Honey, if I died, would you marry again?” There’s a question that shouldn’t be answered until the will has already been drawn up and safely tucked away in the lawyer’s safe. What’s a guy to say – “No, dear, I wouldn’t want to go through that agony all over again.”? How about “You bet, honey, give me a week and I’ll be checking out every club and supermarket for your replacement!” Chances are, she’ll want him to live the rest of his life as a monk – and he may prefer that… Of course, if she’s like my aunt was, she’ll help him pick out his next wife in advance (God’s truth on that one). But alas, statistics lean in favor of wives outliving their husbands, so the best answer to this question might be to fall back on those stats – and turn the question back on her.

Husbands would be wise to avoid a few other tough questions. “How many girlfriends did you have before we met?” is a tricky one – and is usually followed by “What were they like?” Answering those questions would be double entendre. It’s best for the guy to just begin spewing a litany of his wife’s virtues and hoping she picks up on that.

Questions involving wives and mothers are also generally best avoided. “Is my lasagna better than your mother’s?” is a question that could lead a guy to tick off both his wife and his mother. The husband who answers a question like that would have no place to sleep…

So many questions…so few right answers.

Now my wife has, thankfully, never asked me questions like these. And I’d never think of asking them of her either, especially as we come upon our 30th year of marital bliss. Who could question the wisdom of that?

Visit Londonderry Hometown Online News every Tuesday Morning for another one of Joe’s great columns! Select “Share this story” and tell a friend Joe is back!

Joe’s Two Cents – It’s Great To Be Alive is Joe Paradis’ first published book and gathers 40 of his most popular stories, enhancing them with humorous photography. The book is a compilation of forty of Joe’s best short stories.

Injecting humor into topics from everyday life, Joe answers those earth-shattering questions we all have about the beach, the bathroom, the junk drawer. From guys’ tools to girl talk. High school seniors to the senior years.

This classic collection has been updated to include pictures and a short introduction for each story. Until now, only God knew what possessed Joe to write about these things. Now you can too!

Joe Paradis is one of Londonderry’s most popular columnists and authors. Visit his web site at www.joes2cents.com today and order his latest autographed book, “It’s Great to Be Alive!”


Londonderry Woods are Haunted Again!

To all residents that enjoy a scary Halloween!  If spooky thrills, spine-tingling chills, and haunting horrors are your favorite part of Halloween, don’t miss Londonderry’s Haunted Woods! Presented by the Londonderry High School Drama, this annual spook-fest is for all ages, young and old, who love a good scare, or just love the Halloween tradition.

For three nights only!

  • Tuesday October 22nd
  • Wednesday October 23rd
  • Thursday, October 24th

The Haunted Woods held at the Londonderry High School Panther Park Ropes Course area will be scaring up some fun in Londonderry!

For the younger crowd (ages 4 to 7/8ish), we have a “goblins garden” where there are crafts, games, face painting and treats.

Be sure to stop by between 6 and 9 PM, and bring the kids! Admission to the Goblins Garden is just $3 per child.  For older children looking for a good scare, the Haunted Woods is $5 per person.

Families are more than welcome to “costume-up” their children. Complimentary hot chocolate, cider, cookies and screams are a guarantee!


Londonderry Residents to Perform in Nutcracker

Last month, talented young dancers from throughout Southern New Hampshire and Massachusetts auditioned for coveted spots with regional New England Dance Ensemble (NEDE) performing company. One hundred fortunate dancers, ages 5 to 18, earned membership in the highly regarded non-profit arts organization.

Known for its pre-professional caliber, The NEDE program offers enormous growth opportunities for the region’s most dedicated performing arts students. Those attaining membership take part in rigorous dance training and choreography, and are exposed to a wide range of performing venues, classical and contemporary music and staging, and theatrical workshops. In addition, NEDE members benefit from the extraordinary opportunity to collaborate with currently performing professionals from national and international performing companies.

Several Londonderry residents earned membership with NEDE. Back Row (L to R): Audrey Severn, Haley Follansbee, Nicole Jastrem, Brook Soucy, Kaylie Milligan, Samantha Mauceri, MaryAnnah Semanek, April Mauceri; third row (L to R): Carly Butler, Emma Donnelly, Andrea Cashin, Danielle Cournoyer, Marie Duffy, Erin Strike, Stacie BarNoy, Alexandria Hodson, Talia BarNoy; second row (L to R): Freedom James, Emily Jastrem, Aika Chen, Cassidy Reidel, Emma Smith, Meisee Chau Kiera Verani; front row (L to R): Keira Strike, Lindsey LaBossiere, Dustin Cournoyer, Elizabeth James, Aryana Irizarry. Not pictured: Alyssa Beaulieu, Caitlin Batts, Alison Cashin.

Company members have each been cast in NEDE’s upcoming professional performances of “The Nutcracker”, slated for Saturday, November 30, 2013 and Sunday, December 1, 2013 at Windham High School Theater. In addition to its annual full-scale holiday classic, NEDE conducts numerous touring performances throughout the year, including its original and award winning “A Child’s View of the Holocaust”, “Story Dance Touring Company”, and other artistic productions.

To learn more about NEDE and its cast, view past performances, or inquire about “Nutcracker” tickets visit their website.