- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: July 2011

What’s in your beach bag?

Text and photographs by Kelly Helbig. This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Cape May Magazine

I was born with a plastic beach shovel in my mouth.

Yep – I’m a certifiable beach bum, through and through, born and raised – I even got married on a Cape May beach this year. Just the smell of Coppertone rouses up nostalgia and I’m 8 years old again, covered from head to toe in sand, digging up sand crabs, body surfing from the earliest my parents could get me to the beach (usually 9 a.m.) And we’d stay until 4 in the afternoon. Now that’s a work day I can live with. I can still remember that water-logged feeling I would have in my chest as I scrunched up my tight, sunburned skin once the cold water of the hose hit me. And then the nap that always followed shortly after, no matter how many times I said, “I’m not sleepy, I’m not sleepy attt aaaalllll.”

I just finished working…my first job. I have an hour-and-a-half before my shift at my second job starts. Sun is shining. Sky is clear. I live in Cape May. I have an hour to kill. Is there any doubt? I rise and scream the Beach Bum chant I’ve retorted since Pampers hung out of my beach bottom, “Let’s go to the beach!”  Sure the dishes are in the sink, the clothes overflowing in the hamper, the dogs are…..are… well, they’re somewhere around here, but I live in Cape May! A beach bum living in a beach town! Fearing members of the Beach Bum Cult, upon hearing that I passed up free time and did not go to the beach, might exile me to some remote beachless state like Oklahoma, I leave the chores to a rainy day.

Off I go. No, I didn’t forget anything, silly. I’m a pro at this.  The car is already packed with all my necessities for an hour, a day, a week-long vacation at the beach. Certifiable Beach Bums are always prepared.

What’s in my bag you ask? Good question! I keep my beach bag fully equipped with a frozen bottle of ice water (I never go to the beach without it!), blanket, towel, change of clothes, some deodorant (never hurts!), crackers, gum, book (DaVinci Code by Dan Brown), cell phone, iPod, money, plenty of SPF lotions in all degrees, lip balm (again, I never go to the beach without it!), and, a must-have for all beachgoers, my beach tag (seasonal). It’s more than a beach bag. It’s a survival kit. You thought I was kidding when I said I could be there for a week long vacation?

And then it dawns on me, what do other people pack in their beach bags to survive a day on the beach? I make a note that once I find a parking spot, I’ll walk around on the beach and find out.

I cannot believe my luck as I find a spot on Beach Avenue right next to the promenade. As I deposit my first quarter, I see other beachgoers running to their cars to deposit money into their meters. From May 1 to October 31, every day, from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM, all meters are 25 cents per twenty minutes and only accept quarters. So if you drive, aside from blocking traffic while pulling up next to Cape May’s promenade while you unload your spouse, offspring, and beach paraphernalia and you drive off to find that elusive parking spot, ALWAYS bring quarters with you to feed the meter.

Fifty minutes still left before I’m expected at work. Plenty of time to enjoy the beach! Yahoo!

Walking up the stairs to the promenade, I see the new “Welcome to Cape May Beach” sign. Posted right next to the Welcome sign are Beach Tag prices. I have a seasonal pass ($25) but I stop to see what the prices are for day trippers ($4), 3 day ($9), weekly, ($13 and note these are valid from Saturday to Saturday), and seasonal passes are $25 (if purchased before April 1, they’re only $15).

The beach tag person, Lorraine, waves with a friendly “hello” as she quickly glances me over for a tag.

“Do you have a tag?” she asks.

Do I have a tag! I confidently reach into my beach bag’s inner pocket and pull out my beach tag.

“That’s last year’s tag,” she says with a smile.

My mouth drops. Ashamed, I start kicking at the sand with my big toe and hang my head. Fearing other beach bums might overhear my conversation with Lorraine, I quickly hand her $25 for a new beach tag. With a smile, I whispered, “Thank you.” I make my way over to Vince.

Vince is the young man selling chairs, umbrellas, beach boxes, tents, water, soda, and iced tea on the beach. He looks pretty cool sitting under three green umbrellas. All umbrellas are color coded according to their respective beaches. “How much for an umbrella?” I ask.

“Ten dollars.”

I inquire about chairs ($5), boogie boards ($13 all day), drinks ($1.50), cabanas ($15 daily) and beach boxes ($55 for a week, $90 for 2 weeks, $125 for 3 weeks and $375 seasonal). Vince stresses that, if you want a beach box, call ahead and get your money in by February or March at the latest. The sooner you get your check-in, the better your chances will be to have a beach box at your disposal. I opt not to get a chair today and head down to the water.

Before I do, I reach in my beach bag to grab lip balm and …where is it? Oh this can’t be. OH, MY GOD! I forgot my lip balm!! I panic and look around nervously that others have caught on to my ill-equipped beach bag and are already starting to whisper, “How could she?” and “Did you see what she did?” Well, no need to panic really, I’ll only be here for a half hour. I think it’s time to find out what all these other beachgoers pack in their beach bags – or leave behind?

I spy three beach savvy-looking girls not too far away from me and I walk over to ask them. “What’s in your beach bag?”

Friends Ashley, Justine and Kate, all summer locals of Cape May, are lying out enjoying the beautiful day. These women came well prepared. Ashley has her iPod, water, sunscreen, book, and, “Chapstick.  DEFINITELY Chapstick!”

I feel my neglected lips drying with each passing second.

Justine has her water, cell phone, wallet, change of clothes, lotion, and chapstick. Their friend, Kate, has her iPod, sunscreen, dry tanning oil (same effect as tanning oil, but it goes on dry), water, cell phone, clothing, and a mirror. A girl’s gotta look her best in this heat.

My lips are starting to pull at the corners, seeking some sort of moisture as I walk over to Ashley and Kurt, sitting on their beach chairs with their bags between them. Kurt always has his keys, wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, towel, and lotion.

Ashley, who’s munching on a granola bar, carries a granola bar in her bag, along with her purse, electric sunglasses, Teddy Grahams, water, lotion, towel, and Chapstick. My lips tighten at the mention of this and purposely split to inflict pain upon their unfit owner, me.

Moving on then, I find a familiar family sitting not too far from Ashley and Kurt. Aiden, Heather, Holly, and Dixie, all locals of Cape May, are not only enjoying a beautiful afternoon at the beach, they are also celebrating Aiden’s last day of Kindergarten from Our Lady Star of the Sea School.  Heather, Aiden’s Mom, not only packs for herself, but for Aiden as well. Her bag includes lotion, water, Exit Zero, The New Yorker Magazine, toys for Aiden, beach tag, visors, towels, and keys.

The family loves the beach and they always have a beach box where they store all their chairs and umbrellas, which makes any trip to the beach a lot easier. Aiden, who has been very eager to share what’s in his beach bag, namely his water gun, takes off at top speed as I start talking to Holly.

Holly always, always, ALWAYS has a bottle of frozen water with her, a book, her visor, and her beach tag. And completing the family, Dixie brings a book, money, her sunglasses, and a visor.

Suddenly, I hear Aiden calling over to me. He has run over to his family’s beach box and I can’t quite make out if he is just showing me where it is or is trying to coax me into helping him retrieve more Super Soakers that might be stowed away for safe keeping.

With every word I speak, my lips tighten even more and the tiny pings and pangs remind me that I will never come without my lip balm again.

My time is now down to 15 minutes as I start heading back and bump into Kelly, Zack, and J.J.  Kelly, a local of Cape May, brings a magazine, money, a towel, lotion, and water. Zack is a bit more daring when venturing onto the beach and brings nothing at all, except money.

“I just come with whatever’s on my back!” Zack states proudly.

Zack’s friend from school, J.J., hails from Galloway and, other than his sunglasses and some money, he has the same devil-may-care attitude.

“I bring nothing at all and come with just what’s on my back”.

Die-hard beach bums!

Five minutes before I’m expected at work, I’m getting closer to the promenade and lip relief, when two girls wave me over. They see I have a camera and would like me to take their picture as well. I say sure, as long as I can ask them what they have in their beach bags. Michelle has oil, a radio, and brings her chair.  No beach tag?

“Nope, I just walk right on!” she exclaims.

Her friend, April, also a local, brings her towel, a chair, her wallet, lotion, and, since she drove today, a lot of change for the meter. Usually, she parks far away on an undisclosed street that doesn’t have any meters.

Meter!  I didn’t even think of the meter! I’m not sure which will pain me more: my lips, once I apply some lip balm, or the ticket that I imagine is nicely tucked under my windshield wiper.

One minute left to get to work. No ticket and still time remaining on the meter! Now that is a good day on the beach! I’ll be here again tomorrow, I’m sure of it. Maybe I’ll see you there!

The Ghosts of the Linda Lee

Columbia Avenue or Jackson Street? There is always some debate as to which street is more haunted.

I would have to say, it is probably a tie. Both streets have long histories, although Jackson Street predates Columbia Avenue by a hundred years or more. When it comes to place-centered hauntings, history tends to play a big role. However, in Cape May, hauntings can also follow an old business adage: location, location, location. Ghosts were once people. They can be drawn to a peaceful setting. Cape May has lots of positive energy, and I feel that is the main reason there are so many ghosts. Think about it. If you were a ghost, and had a chance for an extended, rent-free vacation in Cape May, what would you do? Many of the ghosts of Cape May originally summered in town when they were alive. Summer never ends for these long-term guests.

Many years ago, I had a few friends who bought an old home on Columbia and changed it from guest apartments to Bed & Breakfast. My passion for ghosts and my ability to communicate with Spirits of deceased loved ones was what originally drew us together as friends. On many occasions, I would spend a weekend in Cape May at their B&B, and once nightfall came, the topic of conversation would eventually become talk of ghosts in the house, which would next lead to me doing an impromptu channeling session in the parlor. We spent many nights trying to communicate with one of the resident ghosts. The problem was that her energy was fading away. She was difficult to reach.

As a Medium, I have the ability to make mind-to-mind contact with other souls. Even without bodies, souls have a consciousness and personality. Ghosts are earthbound souls. They have something keeping them tethered to their former stomping grounds. Each soul is different. Like every living person who has a unique personality, ghosts are individuals as well. They actually retain their earthly personalities in the afterlife. Some ghosts are warm and personable to a Medium, while others want nothing to do with the living. Some earthbound souls want to communicate, while some will not, and then there are those who do not seem to be able to sense the living at all. These ghosts seem to be stuck in a perpetual dream-state.

The ghost at the former Inn at Journeys End, now the Bacchus Cottage, was so wrapped up in her own personal drama that she probably did not even hear my psychic doorbell ringing in her head. Luckily, for me, when I turn on my psychic senses and throw out a line of communication, it tends to pull others in from nearby locations. Each time started our séance, the ghost of a jovial, older man waltzed in through the front wall (why bother with a door if you are a ghost?) and announced his arrival. He told me his name was Walter, and he came because he enjoyed good wine, and good cheese, and none was being served across the street where he was haunting.

Ghosts can sense what we taste, smell, hear, and see. They have the ability to tap into our thoughts and experience our senses. Spirits of loved ones will also report this same phenomenon when I channel for clients. A beloved, deceased grandfather may still enjoy a taste of his favorite birthday cake, enjoyed by the living. It is almost like ghosts and Spirits can stick a big straw into our minds and suck out our experiences, right after we finish with them. Walter had come to us from the Linda Lee, a B&B located on the north side of Columbia Avenue. The Victorian Carpenter Gothic home was built in 1872 for the Benezet family, who were local merchants in town. Walter felt more recent in energy than the Benezets, who had been gone for almost a century. Queries to the former owners of the Linda Lee produced a light acknowledgment of a ghost in the house. Footsteps were heard on the stairs and “something” would act up from time to time, but activity was minimal at best. Obviously, Walter liked to haunt elsewhere, but used the Linda Lee as his home base.

Many years later, I was introduced to the Linda Lee’s new owners, Archie and Stephanie Kirk. I met them at their latest acquisition, the Bedford on Stockton Avenue, but the topic of conversation quickly came back to their other property, the Linda Lee. Without mentioning my previous encounter with Walter, I joined them one afternoon for a visit on Columbia Avenue. As I walked throughout the house, I did sense the presence of a male ghost, and that of a female ghost. The woman gave me the impression that she was a servant of the house, the man left me with nothing at all. He was not open to communicating. I could see him in my mind, but there was no dialogue after the image.

We sat around the dining room table in the ornately and beautifully decorated Victorian cottage. Cape May has some of the most beautiful haunted houses I have ever visited. Sitting inside the Linda Lee is like going back in time to the Victorian age. Archie and Stephanie, now good friends of mine, have always been into the whole Victorian thing, and they do it very well. At some point, as we sat in deep conversation at the table, I started to sense someone entering the dining room from the parlor. I must have had that kind of look on my face. Archie said to me, don’t tell me there is a ghost here. Stephanie was less fond of ghosts and I was afraid to say anything, as I barely knew the Kirks. Suddenly, something pushed me to blurt out “Yes, and his name is Walter and he likes good wine and cheese”.

Archie quickly responded with a “You gotta be kidding!” He said as he shook his head and reached for a notebook in the sideboard of the dining room.

As he flipped through the pages, Stephanie added, “There isn’t a Walter in the house’s history is there Arch?” Indeed there was. A man with the first name of Walter had sold the house in 1977. Archie thought he had passed away. Had we found our Walter?

I was elated to have found a connection. Even without knowing if Archie’s Walter was the wine and cheese Walter, the name coincidence was just too good. I made plans to stay at the Linda Lee in the near future, and that’s when all the fun started.

Stephanie’s daughter Julie Walter and her boyfriend (now husband) Matt Scassero had taken over as innkeepers the following year. Willy and I, along with our friend Gerry Eisenhauer, had booked a weekend stay. I was researching haunts for The Ghosts of Cape May Book 3, and I needed an up close and personal with the Linda Lee. Encountering the ghosts through the walls of a neighboring B&B was just not good enough for a story. To experience a haunting, one must stay in a haunted house, and have the fortunate timing to have the ghost or ghosts be active during that particular stay. It is possible to stay in a haunted place and never experience the ghost. Timing is everything with a haunt.

Willy, Gerry, and I decided to conduct a séance late that Friday night. Matt made the mistake of arriving late to set up the breakfast dishes for the next morning, just as my channeling session got underway. He was sucked in to the whole paranormal experience. I think he finally set the table about three hours later, when we were all done.

I slipped into a relaxed state of mind and focused my thoughts on the house in search of ghosts. It was not long before someone saying, “Did you hear that”, disturbed my concentration. It seems this has become the catch phrase of paranormal investigations. This time it was appropriate because an initial thump-thump sound was followed by footsteps coming down the stairs―slowly and carefully, as if someone was stopping after each step to hear if they had been detected. I could sense the group starting to get a little apprehensive. Suddenly, a cold breeze moved into the room from the front foyer. The air then fell still and the footsteps ceased.

I know when I make contact with a ghost while I am in a trance state. I can still hear and sense things in the room around me, but I start to feel like I am falling backward, very slowly, in the chair in which I am sitting.  It reminds me of being in the dentist’s chair as a kid, and getting high on nitrous oxide. As my mind starts floating, I feel it encountering another presence in the room. This time it was with a woman named Mary.

During the trance session, Mary began to speak using my vocal chords. I am still very much in control of my body during a trance, but become one with the ghostly conversation. First, I start to repeat what I hear the ghost telling me. Next, the ghost is actually speaking through my voice. It is like someone turning your head to tell you where to look. In my case, they are telling me what to say. The entire process feels very natural, and ends when I want it to end, or when the ghost has said its piece.

Mary seemed tired and worn out by years of trying to keep the house in order. I felt she had worked on Columbia Avenue for a long time—possibly since the time of the Benezets. Nevertheless, what would ghosts have to clean? Do they experience a different physical world that overlaps our own? If Mary was a servant at the house, does she stay out of allegiance to another ghost? Why on Earth would anyone want to clean a house for 140 years? Or is it that she loves Cape May and stays where she once resided? With every haunting comes a slew of unanswered questions.

Mary eventually moved off into the shadows of the house. I sensed a few ghosts out in the street, but decided to break off the trance. After the channeling session, we moved upstairs to the second floor. Someone in the house had reported seeing some kind of “ball of light” in a particular doorway. The person was not sure what it could have been, but felt there was a paranormal cause behind it. Gerry, armed with a brigade of ghost hunting equipment, set up a few meters to measure EMF fields on the floor in the bedroom doorway. At first, the meters barely registered anything. I have never had much success with ghost hunting equipment of this type. My feeling is that we do not have equipment to measure a ghost’s energy. We don’t even know what ghosts are made of, so how can we create equipment to measure them?

I decided to let the ghost or ghosts know what we were doing. I thought the information, and spoke it at the same time. Ghosts do not have ears, so I assume mind-to-mind is how they communicate. To be safe, I gave them both psychic and verbal instructions. I asked the ghosts of the house to move into the doorway and somehow affect the meters on the floor. Within seconds the stairs leading up to the second floor started to creak. The slow, clapping footsteps began to descend to our level. Something was joining us in the experimenting. I repeated the request. Move into the doorway and set off the EMF meters. Suddenly, the meters started to jump. Normally registering only 0.1 or 0.5, the meters jumped to 5 and then 10. They were stationary on the floor, and no one in the group was moving. I asked the ghosts to step away from the meter, and the meters returned to zero. We repeated this experiment several time more, finally producing an off the charts reading of 37! Finally, as if tired of our games, the stairs creaked again in all directions and the meters fell silent.

I never had any particular feeling if it was Walter or Mary taking part in our experiment. I never heard much from Walter on those visits. Maybe he is haunting one of the Cape May wineries now. Mary seemed much more connected to the house. She loved the place. Her connection could be that simple. She may haunt because she loves where she lived and does not want to move on to Heaven.

The results of the paranormal energy field test were, in my opinion, better than anything I had seen in all the years I have been investigating ghosts. Better in the “ghost hunting using equipment” department that is. I hold very little hope for ghost hunting equipment, with the exception of running audio recordings to try to capture EVPs (electronic voice phenomenon). I think the best way to find ghosts is with the help of a skilled and gifted Medium.

We checked the floor above and the floor below to find an explanation of what could have produced surges in the meters at the exact times I would ask the ghosts to move. No logical explanation could be found. Ghosts, being fields of some form of energy, must have the ability to affect other fields of energy. In this case, they were quite obliging to help us in our paranormal study. If only all ghost investigations were this fruitful—and easy.

The Linda Lee is a fabulous B&B. I would highly recommend spending a weekend or a week relaxing there, and enjoying all that Cape May has to offer. You can visit them at their website here. If you go looking for ghosts, pick the off-season in the winter or early spring. Some hauntings are very subtle, and with a town full of noisy tourists buzzing about, you will probably have very few paranormal encounters. Unless, of course, you should happen to bring a good bottle of wine, and nice hunk of cheese, then Walter may just be willing to help you with that investigation!

To read more about the ghosts of the Linda Lee, buy The Ghosts of Cape May Book 3 or my latest book, 400 Years of the Ghosts of Cape May.

You can also read more about what I do by visiting Have a great July!

Garden Tour: The Mooring B&B

The Mooring Bed and Breakfast on Stockton Avenue, just a block’s walk from the ocean, is an elegant but fun bed and breakfast run by Leslie Valenza and Vince Casale. The 1882 property, which was actually built as a guest house, has a mix of antique and new furnishings throughout the building, and no two guest rooms are alike. The garden has a similar feel, with changes in color and texture everywhere one looks. The almost sculptural evergreens give it a unique appearance among its fellow inns. Enjoy!

The kitchen of reformed vegetarianism

Video is available in high def; adjust settings in the bar above.

I have always had an internal conflict about vegetables and their role in the grand scheme of cuisine. I know vegetables are good for you, yet somehow the idea of a meal without meat seems like culinary heresy. “Fat is flavor” is one of my most cherished culinary doctrines. Constructing whole meals around fruits and vegetables doesn’t seem worth the effort. I am not ready, nor willing to traverse to the dark side and totally abstain from tasty animal flesh. My foray into flora should not be construed as fleeing fauna. This is more of a realization that has come with age that adding fried onions and mushrooms to your cheesesteak does not constitute eating more vegetables. Most of us consume more meat than we probably need in order to survive. The vision most people have of a vegetarian meal is a plate of crunchy brown rice topped with steamed vegetables. This menu motif is a relic from the flower power era. In the 21st century we have a larger variety of vegetables and non-meat food products available that can be utilized to create exciting cuisine. The following are a confirmed carnivores guidelines for enticing meatless meals.

If the goal is to abstain from meat for health purposes, don’t torture your family or yourself with faux meat products. Tofurkey, soy bacon and tofu dogs are for the hardcore vegans, for the novice it is just a reminder that you are being deprived of meat. In the Persnickety church of reformed vegetarianism, the main tenet is no meat. So, if you use a little butter or cheese, you will not be excommunicated. Switching dietary regimens cold turkey may result with you ending up in the bad part of town at two in the morning, face down in an alley surrounded by Big Mac wrappers and special sauce smeared on your clothes. To avoid this, the goal is to create flavorful meatless meals. Roasting and grilling are two techniques that will bring out the most flavors to vegetables while retaining much of their nutritional value. Conversely, steaming preserves more nutritional value, but adds no flavor. When grilling vegetables, a light marinade will help provide maximum flavor. Olive oil, citrus juices and fresh herbs will provide some zestiness to your grilled-garden fare. Balsamic vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce also make good marinade components. Avoid fresh garlic as it tends to burn and turn bitter, roasted garlic added to the marinade will alleviate that particular culinary debacle. A plate of grilled produce may entice rabbits and the ashram-Birkenstock loving crowd, but will cause revolutionary upheaval in most households. To further enhance the meal, garnishing with a t-bone steak is not an option. Instead, serve with mashed chickpeas, some grilled pita bread with Greek yogurt, flavored with dill and lemon.

The family of foods we refer to as legumes – beans and peas – will help replace some of the protein lost by going meatless. Lentils, chickpeas and black beans are flavorful legumes that will also help fill you up. Lentils can be cooked as a hearty ragout or chili, as a soup, or even a main dish. Curries and peppers will add robust flavors that will please the palate. Combine lentils with hazelnuts, and an egg as a binder, and you have a vegetarian patty you can top with lettuce and tomato on a bun. This is a meatless sandwich fit for a king. Legume patties are not new to the culinary landscape. Falafel is the original Mediterranean veggie junk food.

Bulghur wheat for tabbouleh

Black beans can be utilized in a similar manner. Spice with cilantro, cumin, roasted green chiles and jalapeños for a southwestern flair.

Pasta and rice are two additional ways to add substance to your vegetarian menus. I personally abhor brown rice even though it is healthier for you. I cannot get past the texture. Wild rice has similar benefits with better flavor and texture. Basmati rice is a fragrant rice from the Himalayan mountains and has long been a staple of that region’s mostly vegetarian cuisine.

Pasta has always been the restaurant chef’s vegetarian culinary crutch. I have even seen chef’s strain the meat sauce to make the dish “vegan” friendly. Choose good quality pasta made from durum semolina flour. There are also many whole wheat pastas available. I find most of the whole wheat pastas to have a taste which I haven’t acquired a palate for just yet. Hearty greens, like mustard or Swiss chard provides a strong flavor contrast to the neutral taste of pasta. Pine nuts, pecans, walnuts and pistachios add protein and richness to many pasta dishes. When using olive oil-based sauces, add a little bit of the water that the pasta was cooked in to add more depth to your sauce.

The following recipes are a creative and innovative way to incorporate healthier options into our meat-centric meals. Enjoy the recipe for Horchata, an almond milk drink. Penne Pasta with Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts, Lentil Patties, Falafel and Tabbouleh.

Remember, in the kitchen of reformed vegetarianism, rigid rules are forbidden and all food products are welcome, except meat. Until next month, Bon Appétit.

Horchata – Almond Milk

  • 2 cups blanched whole almonds
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ⅔ cup sugar to taste
  • 4 cups ice, plus ice in glasses
  • Lime zest for garnish

Combine all ingredients except ice and lime zest. Steep 5-10 minutes. Blend 3 minutes. Add ice. Blend. Strain through cheese cloth. Discard solids. Serve over ice.

Penne Pasta with Swiss Chard and Pine Nuts

  • 2 cups penne pasta cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Olive oil
  • Locatelli cheese
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and torn in squares
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Black pepper, salt to taste
  • Reserved cooking water from pasta

As pasta is cooking, heat sauté pan. Add oil. Heat. Add garlic. Lightly toast. Add Swiss chard, pine nuts, cheese, red pepper flakes. Toss in pasta. Add more olive oil and a little water. Adjust seasoning. Serve.

Hazelnut Lentil Patties

  • 3 cups dried lentils, cooked
  • 1 cup uncooked oats
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh thyme
  • Basil

Mix all ingredients press into patties pan fry 3-5 minutes per side or bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Garnish with lettuce and tomato.


  • 2 cups chickpeas drained
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Simmer chickpeas in fresh water for 1 hour. Drain. Cool fifteen minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Mash until thick paste. Form into balls. Fry in 350 degree oil for 5-7 minutes.


  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup bulghur wheat
  • 1½ cups lemon juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 3 onions finely chopped
  • 2 bunches chopped parsley
  • 1 bunch chopped mint

Add wheat to water. Steep, off heat, for 20 minutes. Scrape steeped bulgur wheat into bowl. Mix with remaining ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Chill. Served cold.

persnicketychefJon Davies is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University of Culinary Arts. His work as a chef has taken him to Aspen, Colorado; Cape May, NJ; and the odd private jet for culinary gigs for the rich and famous.

Keeping Your Pet Safe From Toxins, Part 2

Last month we talked about several things that are toxic to pets. A rather newly discovered animal toxin is xylitol, an additive to sugarless gums and candies.

Xylitol is a crystalline sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar substitute sweetener, the use of which has increased rapidly over the past few years. Xylitol is different and not toxic to humans because in humans it is absorbed slowly, whereas in animals it is absorbed rapidly. That quick absorption in dogs created strong release of insulin, causing hypoglycemia and possible liver failure, bleeding and death. As little as 0.1g can cause a toxic reaction.

Watch to make sure your dog doesn’t ingest foods containing xylitol. Especially watch when walking that your dog does not pick up and ingest gum dropped on the street or sidewalk or grass. If your pet does ingest any toxin, get the animal to the vet immediately. Diagnosis will be made based on history of items ingested, symptoms, and blood work. Look for signs such as vomiting, lethargy, weakness, diarrhea, collapse, and seizures. Quick action is the only hope for a good prognosis. And the best action is prevention.

For more information, contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-4-ANI-HELP!!

REMINDER!! Leaving your pet in the car, even with windows down, is deadly in summer heat and sun. Temperatures rise significantly and quickly and those temperatures kill. Take your pet with you when you get out of the car, or leave your pet home/in your rented accommodations. It’s safer for everyone!!

Now that the weather is great, have a “Yappy Hour.” Invite 4 and 2 legged friends over and enjoy some treats, beverages, and friendly socializing. Be sure to have a large bowl of water, and let the good times roll!

Merle's DoorSuggested Good Read of the Month: Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote

This is a wonderful, loving story. Also has some very interesting and helpful, research based information which you will enjoy and use!

Relax and Enjoy!