Perfection is an Aegean confection

LACONIA — Athens wasn't built in a day, and neither was baklava conjured overnight. Rather, it took centuries, perhaps longer, for the food to evolve into the decadent treat loved today: crisp layers of phyllo dough, filled with chopped nuts and spices, and soaked in honey. Many Mediterranean cultures claim baklava as their own, but in the U.S., it is closely associated with Greek cuisine.

But there's more to Greek pastry than baklava. Also common is spanikopita, which also utilizes phyllo but which takes a savory turn, with spinach and cheese in the filling. Both of these will be available for purchase on Saturday, at the Greek Pastry Fair held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Taxiarchai Greek Orthodox Church.

Mary Lou Beshta, organist and member of the church's Ladies Philoptochos Society, which is putting on the event, said there will also be lesser-known but similarly delicious items such as karidopita, koulourakia, kourabiedes, dolmathes, fruit bars and meat pies.

The meat pies are a big seller, said Beshta. Ten-inch round pies, filled with cooked pork and beef, potatoes and onion. They can serve four to six people each and are sold frozen with baking instructions, which means that they can be saved for a piping warm meal later this winter. "That's the beautiful part of it," Beshta said.

Beshta's favorite of the day is the galatoboureko, "a rich pastry over custard."

The Greek Pastry Fair is an evolution of the church's holiday fair. Last year, organizers decided to drop some of the ancillary activities, such as raffles, and focus on the treats that everyone was coming for, anyway. There will be Greek cookbooks for sale as well.

The Ladies Philoptochos Society is a charitable organization within the church. Proceeds from the pastry fair will be used to purchase needed items for the church, or will be donated to other charitable efforts.

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A 'purr-fect' weekend for cat lovers at VFW (552 w/cuts e-mailed to us).

LACONIA — Cat lovers will have a field day in what can only be described as a ''purr-fect'' weekend for the Veteran Cats show which will be held at VFW Post 1670 Saturday and Sunday.
More than 70 cats and household pets are entered in the show, which will feature four show rings each day and a variety of breeds ranging from Maine Coon, Himalayan, Rag Doll, Persian, Abyssinian, Scottish Fold, Exotic and Oriental, as well as all-breed household pets, according to Joyce Arivela of New Boston, show co-manager.
Cats will be benched, which refers to being placed in cages to await their turn in the show ring, from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. with judging taking place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. until around 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The show is being presented by the United Maine Coon Cat Association in conjunction with the Cat Fanciers Association, a feline cat registry based in the Northeast which is the second-oldest cat registry in the United States and recognizes 32 different breeds of registered cats for showing.
Arivela said there are four categories: Kittens, both long-haired and short-haired, in an all-breed event; Cats, purebreds which are breeding stock; Altered, which are still eligible for championship awards; and Household Pets, which can be mixed cats, cats which look like a particular breed but don't have papers, and pedigreed cats who don't meet the criteria for the breed because of kinked tail, wrong eye color or other disqualifying criteria.
''We've usually held our shows in Southern Maine. This is the first time we've ever held a show in Laconia.'' said Arivela. She says the Cat Fanciers Federation has a couple of hundred members and that its shows are gaining in popularity in recent years.
"There hasn't always been a lot of media attention compared to what dog shows receive. But I like them better than dog shows and I think people who do come to the shows find them very relaxing,'' said Arivela.
She started getting interested in cat shows in the late 2000s and showed an award-winning Maine Coon cat. She now shows her household pet ''Zorro,'' and will soon be bringing a Maine Coon kitten into her home.
She said notable cats from New Hampshire include ''J.R.,'' a red and white Scottish Fold cat who was the Cat Fancier Federation's Best Cat award winner this year, and is owned by Vicky and Les Merrill of Concord, and ''Sally,'' a Maine Coon owned by Peggy Vivinetto of New Durham.
Kathy Gagnon of Northwood and Laconia owns Maine Coons "Holy Smoke" and "Victoria" as well as "Tom Thumbs," a polydactyl, meaning he has six toes on each foot.
Polydactyl cats can have six or more toes on all four paws. Poly's, as they are affectionately called, have recently been accepted into the Maine Coon breed standard, which means they are now recognized to become Champions in the show ring.

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Worker raises, corrections officers in the plans for Belknap County

LACONIA — County workers may see a small raise and at least one new corrections officer could be hired if Belknap County commissioners' plans go through.
The commissioners held a budget work session at the Belknap County Complex Thursday at which they discussed future staffing of the Belknap County Corrections Department with Superintendent Keith Gary and agreed to hire one new officer in January and wait until May 1 before bringing on two additional staffers.
The commission is tentatively eyeing a corrections department budget of $3,877,018, which would be about $70,000 less than last year's approved budget.
County Administrator Deb Shackett noted that hiring in January is ''a risky proposition'' as the county budget has not yet been approved by he County Convention and could be cut, which would force the department to have to drop someone who had hired in January.
The commission is currently looking at a budget which would increase the amount to be raised by taxes by about one percent.
Commissioners are also waiting for word from three unions on whether or not they will agree to a switch of health insurance plans to a new provider. The commissioners want to switch health insurance plans starting Jan. 1, 2016, for county employees from the current provider, Health Trust, to the New Hampshire Interlocal Trust, which partners with the nonprofit Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare to provide group health insurance plans for local governments.
Under terms of the current contracts with three State Employee Association-affiliated unions at the Belknap County Home, Corrections Department and Sheriff's Department, the county has the right to substitute a comparable health care plan for an existing plan provided the unions agree that the new plan is comparable.
A deadline of November 14 has been set for the unions to agree to the shift.
Commission Chairman Dave decoy said that the county can't keep kicking the can down the road on the switch of insurance carriers and suggested that the commission should be prepared to make its case in court as early as Monday if the unions don't agree to the change.
Commissioner Hunter Taylor (R-Alton) urged waiting until later in the week and said hat current negotiations were going well and he didn't want to upset the apple cart.
Devoy asked if there was sufficient money in the budget to pay for the costs of new union contracts and Shackett said that the $200,000 in contingency funds were adequate to pay the $171,000 it would take if all county union employees received a 1 percent raise and step increases.

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