Category: Features

Learn to allergy-proof holiday desserts, deliciously

By Debra R. Messick Feeding those we love with sweet holiday treats often involves equal measures of stress and bliss. Bustling to shop for ingredients, mixing, then baking sometimes drains our last ounce of energy when we’re most pressed for time. But the heavenly aromas and over the top taste are such a vital part of the season it’s well worth the effort. Now try imagining the stress level involved when tried-and-true recipes you’ve relied on turn out to be unsafe for you or a loved one. Main stay ingredients such as wheat flour, butter, cream, milk, peanuts, and more,...

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Perennial poinsettias possible!

 By Debra R. Messick Like many people, I once believed poinsettias were preordained to last only as long the Christmas season. A few hardy specimens might linger briefly into the new year, but once the holidays were gone, so too were the iconic flowers identified with them. Thanks to two patrons of Hurlock Library in northern Dorchester County, I learned that a little luck and a lot of care can keep poinsettias thriving far beyond one brief annual interlude. Just prior to Christmas 2016, a frequent library visitor was suddenly gifted an enormous poinsettia. Concerned for the safety of her feline friends at home (the plant can be toxic if ingested by cats) she donated the supersized specimen to Hurlock’s library branch, brightening the lobby through December and well into January. Staff and visitors were resigned to the eventual day it would wilt away, but that day never came. On Valentine’s Day, the plant remained hardy. As the Spring Equinox arrived, though its size had gradually diminished, its overall vigor remained intact. With Easter rapidly approaching, staff began fielding questions about what the poinsettia was still doing there. As murmurs began about the possibility of decorating the “overdue” poinsettia’s pot with bunnies and eggs, another patron mercifully stepped in with a solution. While checking out a book early last spring, Shirley Edwards was taken with the plant’s fortitude, and...

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‘Friendsgiving’ a trending hit

by Sean Clougherty Friendships are often one of the things we’re most thankful for when asked so it’s somewhat ironic that getting together with friends can be a tall task during Thanksgiving. That is, unless you plan for it. “Friendsgivings” as they’re called — set get-togethers before or after the main Turkey Day — have gotten more popular over the years, often becoming traditions all their own. “It’s not often that friends can get together this time of year,” says Andrea Blodgett of Queenstown, who’s part of a friendsgiving group that rotates between several houses year to year. “It’s a lot of scheduling to work around.” But it’s worth the effort to get everyone together for a low-key laughter-filled afternoon. “Friendsgiving is my favorite holiday of the year — albeit a made-up one,” writes food writer Alexandra Shytsman in the forward of her recipe book “Friendsgiving.” “Friendsgiving is everything you love about Thanksgiving — hearty food, day drinking, good company — without the things you don’t love, like nagging family members and heated political discussions that make you question if maybe you were adopted after all,” she said. Shytsman started having friendsgivings while in high school, organizing elaborate dinner parties for her buds and testing new recipes and her culinary skills. “I’ll never forget the feeling of triumph when I pulled my first turkey out of the oven and...

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Consider making your Thanksgiving feast a brunch

by Charlene Marcum; Photos by Frank Caramanica Agonizing over the exhaustion of spending a week preparing a Thanksgiving dinner that is eaten in 30 minutes? Join the movement away from the traditional Thanksgiving table this holiday season and serve a decadent brunch instead. Take the opportunity to create a new tradition for the changes in time or alter annually between old and new traditions. Most importantly, enjoy the bounties of the harvest with family and friends. There are some good reasons to change the tradition this year: • Eating a large meal earlier in the day is better for your digestion;...

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Watercolor painting: It’s not just for children any more

by Leslie Milby Photos courtesy of Hillary Parker When most people think of watercolor, it may be hard for them to shake the notion of the kiddie version where it seemed like all you made was colored water flow across your page in a puddle — not a method of making a detailed, full-of-life masterpiece. But “paint night” events that have popped up at wineries and businesses throughout the area have worked to make even the most un-artisitic feeling participants come away with something worth hanging on a wall. Talbot County’s Waterfowl Festival is getting in on the act...

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