Making it Work on the Shore: Ace Moritz and Eastern Shore Brewing

The craft beer business was in its infancy when Adrian (Ace) Moritz started to work in the industry during the early 1990s in one of Vermont’s earliest local breweries, the Long Trail Brewing Company. It was hard to tell then that the local brew industry would become the booming business it has become, but it started a lifetime passion for Ace.

After leaving Long Trail, and deciding to leave a lucrative private sector career in New York, Ace and his wife decided to risk everything when they started Eastern Shore Brewing Company in St. Michaels in 2009 to follow his passion.

And over the course of the last nine years, Ace has learned a great deal about moving from the love of a home brewery to the complications and challenges that come with a full retail and wholesale operation. Those lessons have continuously change the business model as he continues to find the sweet spot between maintaining a sustainable business and remain competitive as craft beer takes over some of the smallest towns on the Eastern Shore.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Eastern Shore Brewing please go here.

Mid-Shore Health Futures: How Our Regional Hospitals Measure Up

Susan Coe was in search of cottage cheese.

The chief experience officer and senior vice president at University of Maryland’s Shore Regional Health was looking in on a new patient at UM Medical Center at Easton. The patient, she learned, wanted her cottage cheese not in a small compartment on a tray but on a plate.

“She had her heart set on the platter,” Coe said.

The nurse immediately called food services to make the change but Coe said she decided to go get the plate of cottage cheese herself.

“It’s about respecting the patient,” she said.

That attention to patient satisfaction is part of a major change in hospitals, including at Shore Regional Health. Before 2007, hospitals largely measured their success by looking at “hard” data that evaluate patient safety and outcomes for specific procedures or events, such as heart attacks or infections. But in the past decade, the federal government began requiring that hospitals also measure how satisfied patients are with their care. Each hospital patient is given a 27-question survey that asks a range of questions, from how well the doctors and nurses communicated, to how noisy and clean the hospital was, to whether the patient would recommend the hospital to a friend.

And Shore Regional Health didn’t like what it was seeing, at least in one area.

Robert Carroll, regional director performance measurement & improvement, said that for the last eight quarters patient satisfaction ratings had been declining at the Easton and Dorchester facilities (considered one entity in ratings) and at its Chestertown hospital. The latest published data, from April 2015 to the end of March 2016, show that the Shore Regional Health hospitals score below average in patient satisfaction nationally and statewide. This is the despite the fact that the hospitals scored average or above average in most of its quality and safety ratings both statewide and nationally.

By contrast, the latest data show that Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury rate better than average statewide and nationally in patient satisfaction. Peninsula also scored better than average in quality and patient safety ratings statewide and nationally. And Anne Arundel rated better than average nationally in quality and a safety, while it rated average statewide. In Maryland, consumers can go online to get information on safety, quality and satisfaction ratings at the Maryland Health Care Commission website (http://healthcarequality.mhcc.maryland.gov).

In December, Shore Regional Health launched a program called HEART to change patients’ perception of their care. And that, Coe said, required that caregivers consciously reconnect with what brought them into health care in the first place. “It’s about empathy, communication and connection,” Coe said. “It’s listening, watching, understanding.”

In the first phase of the program, 25 peer counsellors were trained. From January through March, those counsellors then led three-hour sessions among Shore Regional Health’s more than 2,000 employees. The focus, Coe said, was on helping caregivers see the hospital experience through the patient’s eyes.

“Every patient is reluctant to enter the hospital,” said Trena Williamson, regional director of communications and marketing at Shore Regional Health. “But for the medical staff, this is their normal.”

A new mother with a sick baby might see things differently than a veteran nurse with other, sicker patients, Williamson said. The HEART program helps staff “recalibrate” so as to see the situation from the patient’s perspective, she said.

Coe said patient satisfaction surveys are helpful but it is the comments that are most useful.

“The scores give us a number but the comments give us gifts of insight and direction,” she said. “We really look at comments– and we follow up.”

Keeping a patient-centered focus is “baked into the culture” at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where about 10 percent of hospital patients and 1 in 5 office visitors are from the Eastern Shore, said Maulik Joshi, executive vice president of integrated care delivery and chief operating officer.

Joshi said new hires are made based on their willingness not only to deliver the best medical care but also to make sure patients feel a personal connection.

“We own ‘I care’ behavior,” he said. “I—I sit down and talk with a patient at the beside; C—I connect with patients by smiling and saying hello; A—I answer quickly when someone has a question; R—I always tell everyone my role; and E—I always escort people.”

At Peninsula, the team approach and employees who live in the community and have worked many years at the hospital are key to both a high quality of care and patients’ happiness, said Sheri Matter, the hospital’s vice president of patient services.

Nurses and doctors together visit the patient to ensure everyone—including the patient—understands the plan of care, both in the hospital and when the patient goes home, she said.

And, she said, there is a “direct correlation” between patient satisfaction and “higher quality outcomes.”

“You have to listen,” she said.

Coe, at Shore Regional Health, would agree.

There, HEART has entered Phase 2: coaching and helping hospital staff put the program into practice. After that, “we’ll expand, go deeper,” she said.

In the meantime, Carroll said he is not worried about the ratings.

“We’re doing this because it’s a better way to do it,” he said. “The numbers will take care of themselves.”

The Regional Overview

If you have a heart attack, bicycle accident or need knee surgery, it’s useful to know how your hospital rates in quality of care, safety, and patient satisfaction.

Thanks to a growing trend in healthcare that looks at outcomes instead of just treatments, many government and private groups collect and disseminate data on hospitals’ performance. The information includes everything from specific comparisons about the likelihood of getting a hospital-acquired infection to how quiet the hospital corridors are at night. Hospitals are graded on these benchmarks and can be compared across a state or against a neighboring state.

In Maryland, which has a unique arrangement with the federal government for hospital reimbursements, consumers can go to a state website to see how their hospitals compare on many of these milestones.

The Maryland Health Care Commission, an independent agency, has an online consumer guide that can help answer many of your questions:

For example, you can use the website to look at a combined quality and safety score for every hospital in the state. Most hospitals in the state rank average on combined quality and safety compared with other Maryland hospitals, including the University of Maryland Shore Medical Centers at Easton, Chestertown and Dorchester. The only ones listed as better than average statewide are Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, and the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson. Anne Arundel Medical Center, rated average statewide, is among 21 Maryland hospitals rated better than average compared with hospitals nationwide.

Much of the data come from the federal government, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The federal site also has its own hospital comparison tools. You can also go directly to the centers’ site: Medicare.gov. The direct link to the hospital compare site is found here.

Using that site, you can find and compare hospitals across the nation and check them out against the ones in your own backyard.

With all the information that is collected, using the sites can be a little daunting. But there is a way to cut through the clutter to find what you’re looking for.

Start out with the overall ratings to see how the hospitals stack up

Zero in on areas that align with your procedure–for example, maternity care or orthopedic surgery.

Look at the patient satisfaction measures, which tell you things like how well the hospital staff communicates with patients about the discharge instructions, prescriptions, etc.

If you have to go to the emergency room, there’s also information on how quickly you’ll get attention from the medical staff. Easton, Chestertown and Peninsula hospitals were rated better than average in six measures for how quickly emergency room patients were handled compared with other hospitals in the state. Anne Arundel was below average in four of the six measures.

 

Spy Contributor Robert Tiernan was managing editor of Consumer Reports from 2006 to 2015. Spy Contributor Ridgely Ochs covered health care, personal health and medicine for more than 20 years at Newsday on Long Island. They both now live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

The Art of the Matter by George Merrill

My first excursion into art was through photography. I didn’t know then that photography was an art. I just thought it was fun. For over sixty years I’ve accrued hundreds of photographs.

Some, like the accompanying picture, I particularly treasure.

I took it at the Baltimore Museum of Art. A workshop was being offered that day to community children. A good number of children attended, with supervising elders guiding and facilitating the children’s budding efforts to create. The kids were having a grand time.

When I began writing essays later in life, some focused around certain of my pictures. I was sure they had a story to tell me, in the way sculptors believe that, in the stone they are about to carve, there’s something within it yearning to be freed. The sculptor’s task: to give shape to the yearning and thereby liberate it. In whatever artistic medium, the same principle applies; the materials of artistic creation become the expression of things inward and spiritual. Sacraments, like works of art, are defined in this way.

I’m sure this child won’t remember her day at the museum. I remember it vividly. I experienced what legendary French photographer Cartier-Bresson once identified as the “decisive moment.” He describes this as being drawn to a scene in which something fundamental to life is being dramatized right before your eyes. The photographer sees it and he snaps the shutter. A moment – a once and for all – is plucked from the continuum of time to become timeless in the form of a silver-gelatin print, the photograph.

At the museum that day, I sensed that the child painting and I were both engaged in something fundamental to life; the urge to create. I saw in the child, some of the yearning that I, too, have known. She is trying to give her own particular shading, form and color to some matter of the heart that she feels within her. The yearning spurs her on, but offers little specific guidance. She has to find her way. How does she do it? How do any of us engage in the sort of midwifery that facilitates the process of emerging possibilities? Inspiration comes first, encouragement next and then practice. It can be summed up this way: follow your bliss. It’s often first discovered during decisive moments.

The child was totally absorbed in what she was doing. It was all about her, her own inner vision; everyone has an inner vision, but many remain unaware of it. Her expression, as I read it, didn’t have that strained or frantic quality – the kind of hyper-alertness or frantic anticipation that I see in the faces of children on cell phones texting or calling. They are as absorbed on their phones as the child in the museum was in her painting. There is a difference. I believe the child at the easel was more in tune with her inner voice or vision than a child on a cell phone is. Some of her radiance showed it. The energy in texting is primarily outwardly focused, reactive; an artist in the act of creating is both inwardly and outwardly focused at the same time. Maintaining an inner vision while expressing it outwardly by craftsmanship is the practice of an art. It has a meditative character.

Art has many mediums. Art is a process that represents the works and activities resulting from human creative skill and imagination. Einstein formulates the stunning equation E=mc2. While the equation is mathematical, it’s also, at a deeper level, an aesthetic statement. It was created by an inner vision. Einstein first visualized the cosmic dynamism in his imagination before making any of the computations.

This remarkably terse statement of three letters, a number and an equal sign captures the essence of an infinitely stunning and interconnected universe. It’s similar to the way the fourteenth century mystic Julian of Norwich spoke of the hazelnut she once held in her hand. “And in this [God] showed me a little . . . hazelnut, lying in the palm if my hand. And it was as round as any ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding. It was answered generally thus, ‘it is all that is made.’ I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness.” Good art sees things with the eye of understanding.

Art is an attempt to release the eternity hidden in the grain of sand. It illuminates the nascent grandeur inherent in life’s “little things” that we rarely notice. Art renders them visible for everyone to see. Art keeps truth and its beauty visible saving it from falling to nothing. Art, as the product of our imagination, offers infinite possibilities in the way we see.

One of the rewards of making art is the experience of discovery it offers. I think it’s generally true of the visual and literary arts that what the artist first sets upon to do looks little like the final product. While the essential vision first imagined remains, it gets hewed, tempered, altered, pressed, burnished and polished in all kinds of ways before it takes its final shape.

I do not know what the child was envisioning at the museum that day. I never saw what she finally painted. It was enough that she was trying to claim her vision and give it shape, form and color.

That’s the art of the matter or perhaps more pointedly, the matter of the art.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Food Friday: Basil Bonanza

There are so many fruits and vegetables in season right now that we are having a trouble keeping up with them. There is a veritable glut of strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, carrots, spinach and more. And lurking on our back porch is the biggest basil plant we have ever grown.

We haven’t done anything special to it except transplanting it from its grocery store plastic pot, and plunking it into the large pot it shares with a burgeoning heirloom tomato plant. I do mutter incantations over them when I water every morning, but that is it. No extra feedings of bionic growth elixir. No Miracle-Gro. The basil has decided to grow, and we are rushing to keep jogging along at its side.

We are always big fans of Caprese salad – it is so delicious and such an easy supper to whip up when it has been a frantic day in the Spy test kitchens. We tend to have a line up of tomatoes on the kitchen window sill all summer long (and it has been so hot so early that I am thinking of breaking out my bathing suit before Memorial Day!)and with the basil growing like kudzu on the back porch, there is no excuse not to invest in tomato futures. I plan to indulge in a fresh ball of mozzarella every couple of days to help keep our basil plant well-trimmed and busy.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/insalata-caprese-13232

Mr. Friday couldn’t find the dried up, gray parsley flakes he tends to favor for his Sunday morning eggs last week. He tossed in a couple of roughly torn basil leaves instead, and had a religious experience. Maybe this means we can go through the spices and toss out the decades old sage, rosemary and thyme, too!

We like a nice light pesto sauce for fresh pasta when the temperatures rise. Years ago we stopped adding the pine nuts, and instead make a nice thick paste of basil, olive oil, garlic gloves, salt, pepper and fresh Parmesan cheese, that we swirl around the mini-food processor for a moment or two. If it seems too thick, we thin it with a little pasta water. We gave up the pine nuts because they were hard to find, are chock-full of cholesterol, and are expensive. Some people substitute walnuts, but I don’t like walnuts, so I have opted for simplicity.

Basic Pesto á la Spy
2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
2 large cloves garlic
½ cup olive oil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Combine basil leaves, oil and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced, and then smooth. Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer, because you will need a container of sunshine in your fridge for a rainy day.

Mr. Friday has a new wok, and has been assiduously tempering and seasoning it. I play sous chef, and shop, and chop, and slice, and dice. One of his new recipes for a Chinese stir fry calls for the addition of fresh basil, tossed in the wok at the very last minute of cooking. Wow. So many ingredients (and two trips to the Oriental market!) but so deelish! https://food52.com/recipes/32284-taiwanese-popcorn-chicken

On our weekly Friday night pizza nights we have broken all the rules in our shambling learning process. We had the heat too low, or the cooking time was too long, or we put the cheese on first, or we burnt everything to a crisp. (When preparing something every week for years and years, it is amazing how many disasters we have had – and yet the pizza is always delicious!) It was companionable way to spend time with our children, practicing measuring, rolling out dough, learning kitchen skills and messing about in clouds of flour. I cannot recommend it too highly. We used to add fresh basil as a topping, but didn’t realize that like the Chinese recipe, the basil is so much more flavorful, and is still pungent and GREEN, if added at the very end of the cooking process. Instead of the basil turning into a crispy, flavorless cinder after baking at 550° F for 8 minutes, now it emerges from the oven, slightly limp, but oozing flavor and basil-ness. And it looks pretty; always a plus.

Go rescue a basil plant, and give it a nice home on your back porch. It will feed you all summer.

Here is a weekend challenge for you: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/tomato-basil-pizza-two-ways-an-experiment/

“Everyone is guilty at one time or another of throwing out questions that beg to be ignored, but mothers seem to have a market on the supply.
“Do you want a spanking or do you want to go to bed?”
“Don’t you want to save some of the pizza for your brother?”
“Wasn’t there any change?””
-Erma Bombeck

The Birth of the FABRICation at the AAM

The exhibition FABRICation is making its way around the country, and just recently landed at the Academy Art Museum by way of the West Virginia University Art Museum in Morgantown.

Co-curated by Reni Gower, professor in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Kristy Deetz, Art professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, FABRIcation features seven artists (Erin Castellan, Kristy Deetz, Virginia Derryberry, Reni Gower, Rachel Hayes, Susan Iverson and Natalie Smith) who incorporate a textile sensibility in their artwork through elements of fabric and fabrication.

Gower stated, “The exhibition was inspired by a rich array of historical textiles from drapery to quilt.  As such, the complex, multi-part works contrast our culture’s rampant media consumption with the redemptive nuance of slow work wrought by hand.  Individual works range from delicate illusions to layered constructions to architectural interventions.  Using a variety of materials that range from oil and acrylic paint, yarn, vintage clothing, aluminum screens, wool, silk, plastic, thread, vinyl, burlap, rug-hold, glass, recycled objects, and found fabrics, the artists interweave sensory pleasure with repetitive process to invoke introspection and reflection.”

This video is approximately two  minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here.

 

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Chesapeake College’s Rob Thompson on a Career Path in the Arts

When one thinks about a local community college, there is an immediate thought of such things as vocational training or preparatory work before entering a four-year college, but rarely thinking that young people should attend these institutions if they are considering a career in the arts. Chesapeake College once again challenges that assumption.

In fact, just in the field of the dramatic arts, approximately twenty-five students each year head to the Wye Mills campus as their first step in breaking into the competitive world of performing arts. Or, put another way, about the same number the College seeks for its new agricultural degree program.

That is one of the reasons that the Spy sought out a conversation with Dr. Robert Thompson who heads up the theatre/humanities program at Chesapeake College. And one of the take away messages of this short chat was the clear evidence that students can indeed find a pathway to a career in the arts.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake College and its theatre program please go here.

Deep Down And Way Up by George Merrill

As a boy I had two toys that I recall fondly. One was a metal German submarine, WWI vintage. It measured a little less than a foot long. The word “Unterseeboot” was inscribed in classical German font along the keel adding to its mystique. When wound up, the propeller would drive the U-Boat the length of the bathtub where, at least once a week, I bathed while conducting naval warfare. The U-Boat could not submerge unless I pushed down on it. No matter, my imagination and I took the sub at least weekly on its predatory excursions.

The other toy was a model of the Wright Brothers aircraft, the first plane to substantially sustain flight. The skeletal structure was made from lead and its wings composed of yellowish translucent material. The wingspan measured a foot and a half. It had a tiny wind up engine that turned its prop, but it wouldn’t move the plane an inch since the plane weighed a ton. A lone pilot, properly attired in suit, jacket and tie sat at in a cockpit that looked like an open porch. He didn’t look very safe.

I came by the toys via a mysterious great uncle I never met. Uncle Frank, according to family lore, traveled the world and frequently returned with various kinds of exotica from the countries he visited. Nobody was clear about just what he did.

I thought of the toys the other day. Their images appeared suddenly in my mind’ eye and kept returning like the tunes that insist on playing over and over in my head.

Submarines and airplanes provided mankind its first access to places we’d only dreamed of going before. Both inventions were quickly placed in the service of war; we have a penchant for forging swords more quickly than plowshares.

With these inventions we could now live long periods below the water’s surface and travel great distances through the air. Our forebears once believed heaven was God’s exclusive dwelling place along with his angels. Heaven was private property and trespassers would be prosecuted. The ocean’s depths were the habitat of frightening monsters. In the nineteenth century one theory held that all living creatures, after death, descended to the depths of the ocean where, in its arcane mud and slime, they were transformed into new beings. The deceased rose, not to heaven as once thought, but sunk to the bottom like stones.

Our bodies, by original design, are earthbound. Our spirit is another matter. It’s not confined to time, place and space. It can go anywhere and it does.

It’s our nature to plumb the depths. We are insatiably curious. Most Americans usually aspire to greater heights, or as the psalmist once put it: “to take the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost parts of the sea.” We know the feeling as restlessness, that low-grade discontent that feels like hunger, but not knowing what food might sate us. Our souls quickly stir when experiencing goodness, but can become strangers to us in our consumerist culture. The spirit urges us to search more deeply in life while aspiring to greater heights. A consumerist culture, on the other hand, asks of us only that we keep purchasing, acquire more and be winners at all costs. In short, we are awash in a morass of banality; today’s ideals are not inviting us to reach nobler heights or discern greater depths, but only to acquire more and make good deals. It’s a ‘me’ generation, floating on millions of selfies.

I’m encouraged of late to see that there’s a growing appetite for justice. I’m seeing it, of all places, in our streets. “The streets,” as we often talk about them, are dismal places where crime, gang violence and poverty manifest. However, other things are happening on the streets providing some hope for our languishing spirits. There’s a growing public outcry for justice. Justice is to the soul what water is to the body. A soul can live a long time without many things, but without justice it soon languishes.

Occupy Wall Street, a grass roots movement that began in September of 2011, attempted to bring the income disparity of America into public awareness. If it did little more than increase awareness of economic inequality, it served us well. It’s been a tough nut to crack. The top 0.1 percent of today’s population earns 184 times the other ninety percent. Even now, women make only eight cents to every dollar men earn for the same jobs.

On January 17th the women’s march on Washington highlighted the social and economic indignities woman have suffered in our sexist and consumerist culture. The demonstrations were well disciplined, held with dignity and, unlike many social movements that can grow self righteous and combative, were carried out with a distinctly feminine touch. The demonstrations reflected people with hope and with a vision. The marchers made their point with understated eloquence, deftness and humor. The pussy hat was a stroke of genius.

On earth day, thousands of scientists marched in D.C. and around the world to protest budget cuts to scientific research. The heart of the march, in addition to protesting research budget cuts, was also to marshal a renewed will for healing the earth at a time when there’s massive denial of its problems. Much of that healing lies in what science can unearth about the ecological dynamics of our planet. There is no Planet B.

These fanciful excursions – from a bathtub sub to a Wright Brothers airplane – may seem a bit of a stretch. Still, I’ve often wondered whether those seemingly innocent images that flow past the mind’s eye may not be symbols of a longing seeking a voice. The subs and planes represent spatial dimensions – deep down and high up. I think they’re symptomatic of my longing for a higher vision to which we can aspire as a people while freeing ourselves from the depths of cynicism into which we seem to have been inexorably drawn.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Food Friday: Roll Out the Rhubarb!

Isn’t spring great? That’s if you can be flexible about the weather, and endure a couple of unexpectedly soggy days which can ruin your weekend plans? As you wander through the farmers’ market, or even the more prosaic grocery store produce department, you can see piles of lovely, gleaming, jewel-like fruits and vegetables, and you can feel the excitement of the recent discoveries of all the prescient food editors. Suddenly, you can see why Bon Appétit has a page about the beauty of rhubarb. Just look at it! Look at those pinks! Admire that green! Rhubarb could be a charming vintage Lilly Pulitzer print, without all the cumbersome Palm Beach pretenses. Rhubarb, that coy herbaceous perennial, is here, but it isn’t going to last forever, so get out your thinking caps.

As you might suspect, there are many ways in which to indulge your rhubarb yen. When the Spy was a shiny new publication, our esteemed colleague, Nancy Taylor Robson, shared a family recipe for her Orange-and-ginger-infused Crisp, which is still on the Food52 website, because it is brilliant, and very tasty, too. https://food52.com/recipes/4326-orange-and-ginger-infused-crisp-by-nancy-taylor-robson Nancy buried her lede, because this orange-and-ginger-infused-crisp also contains four cups of rhubarb. It is, as we like to say, yumsters. And four cups of rhubarb will help thin the rhubarb plant in your back yard.

Nancy emailed me the other day to say she had recently baked a couple of strawberry rhubarb pies. Note that she did not include an invitation to eat said pies. One can imagine that a pie baked by Nancy is quite divine. I am going to try my hand at this recipe by Deb Perelman and her Smitten Kitchen: https://smittenkitchen.com/2010/06/strawberry-rhubarb-pie-improved/ Her pie has been featured on NPR, and will be fact-checked and verified delicious.

I have a new website that I am exploring, and I hope you like it, too. I like a little levity, because all is too grim these days. Endless Simmer has a cheerful attitude. And some mighty fine recipe ideas. And I think Strawberry Scones (with chunks o’rhubarb) are a fabulous idea. Rhubarb doesn’t have to be just for dessert. It can be for breakfast, too. An tea! It is an all-purpose rhizome. http://www.endlesssimmer.com/2012/05/25/this-week-at-the-farmers-market-rhubarb-its-whats-for-breakfast/

But where would we be without some helpful hints from our clever friends at Food52? Not only do they have access to the extravagant resources available to New Yorkers, they are cutting-edge home cooks. I think their strawberry-rhubarb ice cream is so much better than last week’s asparagus ice cream. https://food52.com/recipes/4323-strawberry-rhubarb-ice-cream (I found dried angelica root here: https://www.americanspice.com/angelica-root/, but I am just skipping that ingredient. )

But I am saving the best for last – a Rhubarb Collins. This is the way to enjoy spring, a nice tall Collins glass in hand as you sit on the back porch, watching the cardinals dart from the bird feeder, while that bunny sits calmly in the back yard, nibbling the grass that you have no intention to mow today. Pour some more Champagne, please!

Rhubarb Collins

1 stalk rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2 -inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
2 ounces gin
1 ounce lemon juice
2 to 4 ounces Champagne

Make a simple syrup with the rhubarb and sugar: combine the rhubarb and sugar with 3/4 cup water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and simmer until slightly thickened and bright pink in color, about 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool then pour through a colander set over a bowl. Press down gently and toss the solids. (The rhubarb simple syrup can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.)
Combine one ounce of the rhubarb simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with the gin and lemon juice. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously until completely mixed. Strain into a chilled highball glass and top with Champagne or Prosecco. Add a straw, and a strawberry for decoration. Drink. Repeat. Enjoy. Spring is fleeting!

“Well, art is art, isn’t it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.”
-Groucho Marx

The Beauty of Catch and Release with Photographer Todd Forsgren

When you first look at Todd Forsgren’s photography, it is hard not to be slightly unnerved by the images that he captures. Some of the world’s most beautiful birds are photographed at the time they have entered into a ornithologists research net, and it’s difficult not to assume that the animal is under severe duress.

But after you find out that Todd has worked with some of the leading ornithology labs in the world on this project, and that it is part of an international effort to save these bird species, you warm up to this very brief moment of incarceration. In fact, you are left seeing them and their extraordinary grace on their own.

Todd’s photography, which is on display at the Academy Art Museum until the end of the month, is a striking reminder of how phenomenal these creatures are which makes it all the more important that they sometimes temporarily fall victim to a researcher’s net.

The Spy caught up with Todd as he was hanging his show to discuss his passion for his subjects, and the delicacy of his images.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Todd Forsgren’s exhibition at the AAM, please go here.

Todd Forsgren: Birdwatcher And Ecologist
Academy Art Museum 
April 22, 2017 – May 30, 2017

 

 

An Architect Looks at Easton’s Future with Ward Bucher

As the town of Easton prepares for a significant investment from private and public sources over the next 20 years for housing, infrastructure, and commercial development for a Port Street plan as well as the space presumably being made available with the hospital relocation, it seemed like a good time to check in with an architect about such things. And one person, in particular, struck the Spy as a terrific resource to talk about design, historic preservation and commerce, and that was Talbot County’s, Ward Bucher.

It would be hard to find someone that has been looking harder at downtown Easton than Ward, whose architectural firm has worked on and invested in projects in this core part of town. And he also recently accepted a position on the Eastern Development Corporation board.

The Spy caught up with Ward at the Bullet House a few weeks ago to talk about Easton as it begins to take necessary steps in planning its future.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Easton Economic Development Corporation and the Port Street Project please go here