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Maple Madness Grips Northeast

Maple Madness Grips the Northeast

Collecting sap from a tapped maple treeNew York’s maple season is kicking off now! Many DEC education centers and New York State Parks provide maple programs for all ages this time of year. Find one near you by checking out DEC’s events calendar or by searching “maple” on NYS Parks’ webpage.

In the meantime, you can get in the spirit with these marvelous maple facts:

  • It takes ~40 gallons of sap to make just 1 gallon of maple syrup.
  • The sugar maple is New York’s state tree.
  • New York is one of the top maple syrup producers in the world. For the past several years, Vermont has held tight to the #1 spot, with New York and Maine battling it out for #2 and #3.
  • Sugar maple is the most popular species used for making syrup, but red, black, or silver maples are also sometimes tapped.
  • Maple syrup’s not just for pancakes! Check out recipes for using maple in every meal.




Maple Sugaring
Sunday, February 17, 2019 11:00 AM - 01:00 PM
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve

(631) 423-1770

This hands-on-program, geared for the average adult, will teach you how to identify and tap a maple tree so you can make real maple syrup at home. You will also learn the cultural, historical, economical, and scientific background of this uniquely American craft. Very short-walk. Not recommended for children. Reservations are required: (631) 423 – 1770
Registration: Required



Smithtown By The Sound - Valentine Love In

Valentine Love in

Smithtown by the Sound

By Nancy Vallarella

Rt. 25A (North Country Road) in Saint James has proven to be fertile ground for eating establishments. From breakfast to late-night fine dining, there is a multitude of choice. With all the great eateries available, it’s easy to overlook other local businesses. Take look at the following products that say, “I love you” for this Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, 2019

429 (Rt. 25A) North Country Road:

For the past 12 years, Nick Kaziris has been the owner and chief baker at the Premiere Pastry Shop. Open 7 days a week from 7am to 7pm daily.   Valentine confections are offered in a wide variety of flavors and price points ranging from $2.50 - $17.00. Forget about those unavailable candy message hearts that made the news last week, at Premiere you can have a custom message put on a macaron, cookie, or cake. Allow 3 days for special orders. 

Take a peek at Premiere’s beautifully decorated products on Instagram @premierepastryshop.

At the opposite end of the shopping center is Gray’s Jewelers. Owner and Town of Smithtown residents, Donnalee Gray and daughter Danielle have a warm and inviting shop.  An extensive inventory of jewelry is attractively displayed throughout the store. It is the perfect place to pop into and browse. The atmosphere is friendly and the shop is stocked full of items that meet most budgets. You are sure to find that special something for those you love or treat yourself!

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Gray’s Jewelers wants everyone to feel special! Stop in by 2/13 and put your name in the hat (no purchase necessary) to WIN a Freida Rothman “LOVE” necklace ($200 value).  Find Gray’s Jewelers on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/graysjewelersny/) and share the A Chance to Win **LOVE** post for an extra chance to win!

Next to the Premiere Pastry Shop, Rocco’s Pizza of St. James will be making heart-shaped pizza! If you are planning a casual Valentine dinner at home with the family, or need to feed the kids while you dine out for the evening, give Rocco’s a call (631-862-1600) 2 days in advance to ensure your amore pizzas.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Husk & Vine Eatery Opens Heart Before Doors

Local Business Opens Heart Before Doors

By Nancy Vallarella, What’s Cookin’? -Smithtown

Husk & Vine is the newest eatery to sprout up in St. James.  The former home to Espana Tapas & Wine, Husk & Vine’s concept is led by the passion of Chef Nicholas Trovato.  A weekly updated menu of craft cocktails, wines, and small sharable plates made with the “freshest quality ingredients available” is planned to be served.

Before opening, Husk & Vine made the decision to participate in Smithtown’s Children Foundation’s 2018 Community Table Grand Tasting fundraiser held at Flowerfield Celebration on Tuesday, November 13th.   Chef Trovato reveals, “We may very well be opening the day of the SCF Community Table event!”

Husk & Vine is committed to giving back to the community. One of the restaurant’s weekly traditions is a Good Karma Brunch on Sundays. The bistro will be donating 10% of the day’s food sales monthly to rotating local charities.

Husk & Vine’s “weekly traditions” are outlined on their website and range from various food and drinkspecials to live music. Comedy nights, cigar dinners, ladies’ night, couple dinners, and Chef’s tastings are also in the works.

Visit Husk & Vine along with 30 other culinary business participating in the Smithtown Children’s Foundation COMMUNITY TABLE GRAND TASTING event Tuesday, November 13th at Flowerfield 6:00PM. Tickets can be purchased at Maureen’s Kitchen or online at www.smithtownchildrensfoundation.com/events.

Find Husk & Vine at 655 Middle Country Road, St. James.


What's Cookin'? Smithtown - Saving Summer In A Jar

Saving Summer in a Jar 

By Nancy Vallarella

Tomato Day at the Minto’s (Colleen second from left)Canning tomatoes at the Minto home with Colleen Minto has been a tradition for the past 25 years. Tomatoes are bought from local farmers at summer’s end.  Friends and neighbors gather to process the tomatoes and save a little bit of summer in a jar. 

Throughout the fall, winter and spring, the tomatoes are used for sauce, soups, Bloody Mary cocktails and salsa. Colleen’s friend and Nissequogue neighbor, Sue Myer, makes three variations of salsa using the tomatoes: Cry Baby, Wanna Cry, and Hot Baby!

Roma/Plum tomatoes purchased from BB & GG and Fink’s Country Farms at St. James MarketHere’s how Colleen processes the tomatoes (25lbs. of plum tomatoes per case of wide-mouth quart jars):

Sterilize jars and lids in dishwasher. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 2 Tbs. lemon juice to each jar. Thoroughly wash tomatoes. Core or slice stem end of tomato. Carefully drop tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes for the skin to split and remove with slotted spoon. Let tomato cool enough to comfortably handle and peel off skin. DO NOT OVERCOOK TOMATOES during this process. They will turn to mush! Add the tomatoes to the jars. 12 to 14 tomatoes fit in the jar on average. Lightly press tomatoes down with hand or the stem of a wooden spoon. This helps to get the air out. Colleen likes to add 1 garlic clove and fresh basil to each jar.  Leave a ½ inch of headspace in each jar, wipe off rim and place lid on jar. Secure the lid but not extremely tight.

Sealing ProcessHave a water bath canner filled half way with cold water and bring water to a rolling boil. Place tomato filled jars on canning rack and slowly immerse jars into boiling water.  Jars should be covered with a half inch of water. Place cover on the canning pot and watch until the water returns to a rolling boil. Remove cover and set a timer for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, lift the rack with jars out of canning pot and place on a towel-Summer in a Jarlined counter top. You will hear jars make a popping sounds – this means they are sealed! 

Colleen’s tips:

Use plum tomatoes. They are less meaty and fit nicely in the jars.

Have super heat resistant gloves handy.

Water bath canner can be bought at Ace Hardware or Walmart for about $25.

Enjoy the processes and Bloody Marys after - with friends and neighbors!


What's Cookin'? Smithtown - Smithtown's Farm Fresh Bounty - How To Prepare

Smithtown’s Farm Fresh Bounty - How to Prepare

By Nancy Vallarella, What’s Cookin’? – Smithtown 


Corn Soup CondimentsVisit a local farm stand or farmers’ market and get inspired! Nature’s rainbow of color and the sweet smell of just picked veggies shining in the daylight will tempt even the unhealthiest eater to try clean eating. Buying what looks good is easy. Preparing dishes with these ingredients can be challenging for some. 

The good news is many items can be consumed raw. They will taste great and are packed with nutrition! If that gets boring, websites with recipes and reviews are plentiful. Following recipes will help form a foundation of knowledge and skill. Once acquired, you will be building menus in your head as you browse the farm fresh produce offered at local farm stands and farmers’ markets.

Corn has been available since July and may continue to be available through October. It’s sweetness and texture of juicy yet crisp, making it a popular choice of the masses. It can be eaten raw, boiled, and grilled. Succotash, salsa, creamed are just a few preparation possibilities. Corn chowder is another option, but it can be a heavy meal in the warm weather.

Satisfying soup lovers this time of the year was my inspiration for the following recipe…

Spicy Summer Corn Soup (4 – 6 servings, 30 minutes or less, vegan and gluten-free)

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1 ½ cups)

¼ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. ground turmeric or ½ tsp. fresh turmeric minced or grated

3 cups fresh corn kernels*

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth**

1 cup nut milk of choice (almond, macadamia or coconut***)

Salt & pepper


2 large radishes sliced thin

½ avocado, peeled and diced (1/2 cup)

2 tsp. fresh lime juice

Lime wedges

Optional: fresh cilantro leaves & smoked sea salt

Heat olive oil in a 5qt. pot over medium heat. Add onion, season with a pinch of salt and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, coriander, turmeric and cook 1 minute. Set aside ½ cup of corn for garnish; add remaining 2 ½ cups corn and broth to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, and simmer 7 minutes. Stir in nut milk.

Puree nut milk mixture (allow opening at the top of the blender to vent steam). Return the mixture to the pot and season to taste with salt/ (smoked salt if using) and pepper. Keep warm.

Combine radishes and avocado in a bowl and stir in lime juice. Season with salt. Serve soup garnished with 2 Tbs. avocado mixture, a sprinkle of corn kernels, lime wedge, and cilantro leaves if using.

Nancy’s Notes:

*Select corn that is sweet and tender. If the outer layer of the corn kernel (pericarp) is tough, it will make an off-putting texture in the soup even after blending.

**It is easy to make your own vegetable broth from clean and /or organic vegetables scraps that have been collected and frozen over time. If you make your own or buy boxed broth, taste the finished product to better gauge additional salt.

***If using coconut milk which is a sweet nut milk, be aware that the spices and lime juice may have to be adjusted to counterbalance the milk’s sweetness.