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WEEKEND - Keep it Fresh & Local: Chefs offer suggestions for Labor Day cookouts

LAKES REGION — This Labor Day, many of those who have a day off from work will find themselves playing backyard chef, cooking food on a grill to serve to friends and family. For professional cooks, a day away from the job doesn't necessarily mean a day off from cooking.

Local chefs who spoke with The Daily Sun this week said that while they will also grill the usual burgers and hot dogs, the end-of-the-summer cookout is the perfect occasion to celebrate the fruits and vegetables found in local gardens and farmers' markets.

Annie Bridgeman of Annie's Cafe and Catering on Union Avenue in Laconia said if she were cooking for her family she'd be roasting some local corn.

"You can get your protein anywhere," she said. "But now is the time to eat fresh vegetables."

Bridgeman suggested a roasted corn and tomato salad, some veggie burgers, and some black bean and spinach enchiladas.

"The corn is wonderful this year," she said, adding that leafy greens are also readily available.

Bridgeman and Meredith's Moulton Farm's head chef Jonathan Diola both said the local peach crop is going to be a good one.

"I like a grilled peach salad," said Diola who also said grilled corn and veggies are on his family menu.

Diola said he likes pork and chicken on the grill and using as much local produce as possible.

"It's always nice to visit your local farmers," he said.

One of his suggestions is heirloom tomatoes, currently at the height of their season, picked ripe and served in a Caprese salad, tossed with balsamic vinegar, some fresh basil and mozzarella cheese. It's a dish named after an Italian island but, at this time of year, also perfectly illustrates the terroir of New Hampshire.

Diola said the melons at Moulton Farm are just starting to ripen and he suggests fresh watermelon and cantaloupe as easy and simple dessert options.

"Very simple," he said.

Diola's secret to cooking is to keep it simple and let the ingredients shine. "That's my principal."

At the Downtown Deli in the Laconia Antiques Center, Drew Seneca said he has a big family filled with some picky eaters.

"I need something for everybody," he said.

One of his suggestions is steak marinated three ways. "It's very traditional," he said.

"The first place I look for the sides is my own garden," he said. "That's the best tasting stuff."

This year he plans to make a low-acid yellow cherry tomato salad.

"Look local and keep it traditional," he said.

Hector's (Laconia) head chef Peter Cullen also likes a traditional Labor Day cookout but with his own flair.

"I like pizza on the grill," he said. Grilling a pizza is much more dramatic than cooking it in an oven, he added. "It's fun to see if it will work or if it will burn."

On a more serious note, he said one of his family's favorites is grilled steak, sliced and sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil.

"I cut it up so people don't have to fight with it," he said.

Cullen also heads for the local growers for fresh vegetables he will cook on the grill and season with local herbs.

He said some of his family members also make and bring homemade relishes and that's always a treat.

J.P. Hobby isn't a professional chef, though as the Laconia Fire Department's in-house culinary expert, he often finds himself cooking on the job.

"If it's not in my garden then it will come from the Laconia Farmers Market," he said, saying at work and at home he likes to incorporate fresh vegetables with his cooking.

Hobby said he'll cook chicken and steaks and if he has the time, he'll pull out the smoker for some ribs and brisket. He said he also likes to make potato salad and macaroni salad.

He grows tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash and likes to grill or toss them into a salad with the herbs that grow well in central New Hampshire like chives, basil and rosemary.

So as Labor Day looms, take the advice of some of the area top chefs and shop local, make it traditional, and keep it simple.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 11:43

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WEEKEND - Visitors & locals alike bring minor illnesses & injuries to LRGH's Convenience Care clinic

LACONIA — "In the summer it's fish hooks all the time," said Deb Livernois, who as director of emergency medicine at LRGHealthcare oversees Convenience Care at Lakes Region General Hospital. "And in the winter we always know when it's school vacation in Massachusetts, because the kids come hobbling in from Gunstock."

Since Convenience Care, the walk-in clinic for minor but acute illnesses and injuries, opened in November 2012 Livernois said it has steadily grown in popularity among residents and visitors alike. She estimated that between 30 and 40 patients are treated each day, noting that "July was our busiest month so far when we treated 1,079 patients."

The clinic serves as a bridge between primary care and emergency services by offering an alternative to both at less cost then either. Unlike an office visit, no appointment is necessary and unlike the emergency room patients are spared long waits for treatment.

Staffed by a nurse practitioner and two or three nurses, the clinic treats a wide range of conditions — colds, flu, sore throats, ear aches, allergies, sprains, burns and cuts. The clinic operates by "self-diagnosis" or "self-triage," as patients themselves determine the severity of their illness or injury. Livernois said that patients are seldom transferred to he emergency room or other departments.

Greg Englund, the first nurse practitioner hired for the clinic, agreed that the system works well, but stressed that if a patient requires more intensive treatment the clinic is directly connected to the emergency room, less than a minute away. Moreover, he said that if necessary he can confer directly with the full range of physicians and specialists in the hospital. With training and experience in trauma, pediatrics and gynecology as well as emergency medicine, Englund is prepared to splint a broken bone, suture a laceration, even perform minor surgery to remove foreign objects, for example.

Convenience Care is adjacent to the main lobby of the hospital. Patients take a number, proceed to registration and then to a triage room, where a nurse reads their vital signs, reviews their condition, prepares their chart and takes them to one of five private room, where they are treated by the nurse practitioner. The clinic also houses laboratory and X-ray services.

Englund said that patients are treated in the order in which they arrive and most are released within an hour. "We can care for a number of patients at a time and if lab tests or X-rays are necessary, they can be done quickly," he said.

Convenience Care accepts most insurances, but not Medicaid. Self-pay and Medicaid patients are charged a flat fee of $150, which includes the cost of any tests. The clinic operates from 8:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 11:42

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Senator Hosmer tells Rotarians his job is all about serving constituents

LACONIA — "I love serving in the New Hampshire Senate," said Andrew Hosmer of Laconia. "I'm not there to represent a party or an ideology, but to represent the people who elected me."

Hosmer, a Democrat and executive at AutoServ in Tilton who is seeking re-election to a second term, was speaking the Laconia Rotary Club yesterday at the Belknap Mill. He began by recalling the major achievements of the Legislature during his first term, highlighting the bipartisan support they enjoyed.

The budget, which carried the Senate by an unanimous vote of its 24 members, he said increased funding for mental health services as well as restored distribution of proceeds from the rooms and meals tax to cities and towns. The tax credit for businesses investing in research and development was doubled. The gas tax was raised for the first time in more than 20 years with a proviso that all the incremental revenue of $32-million must be applied to roads and bridges.

Perhaps most important, after much debate and negotiation a bipartisan compromise was reached to use federal funds to extend health insurance, including benefits for mental health services and substance abuse treatment, to some some 50,000 people without it. However, Hosmer stressed that at the end of 2016, when the federal government will no longer fully fund the program, it will lapse unless the Legislature can marshal the funds to extend it.

Apart from healthcare Hosmer said that the next Legislature will face a number other challenges, beginning with what he called "a very challenging budget." Pledging to oppose the introduction of a general sales or personal income tax, he said that he believed that a responsible budget could be fashioned without either.

Hosmer said that while there is much discussion of business taxes rising workers compensation rates, which represent "another cost shift to businesses," should not be overlooked. He said that steps should be taken to limit the increases in rates and reform the entire system.

Emphasizing the need to diversify the state's energy portfolio, Hosmer acknowledged that wind farms and Northern Pass are both highly controversial. But, he pointed out that Northern Pass would increase employment by 500 jobs and property values by 60 percent in Franklin, which lies within Senate District 7. He said that more miles of transmission line should be buried to spare the landscape in the North County, but insisted "not diversifying our energy portfolio is not an option."

Hosmer said that he shared the opinion of Mayor Ed Engler of Laconia that the former Laconia State School property on North Main Street represented a valuable asset and significant opportunity for both the state and the city. "It's an economic engine waiting to be tuned up and fired up," he said. He explained that he worked to scuttle legislation that would have hindered sale of the property to the city last year, leaving the option for the city to acquire the property open.

Responding to a question, Hosmer reminded his listeners that he was among the sponsors of a bill to authorize casino gambling as well as an amendment that would have distributed a share of the proceeds to cities and towns. "I think it will come back next year," he said, cautioning that "expanded gambling won't solve everything, but it would have a positive economic impact."

Hosmer has no rival for the Democratic nomination and will face Republican Kathleen Lauer-Rago of Franklin in the general election in November. District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont,and Gilford in Belknap County and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury, and Webster in Merrimack County.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:32

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2 school buses involved in minor accidents

LACONIA — Superintendent Terri Forsten said yesterday that there were two minor school bus accidents during the first three days of school.

The first was on Wednesday morning when a bus that had just dropped off students at the Laconia Middle School was rear-ended at 7:50 a.m. by a car near the Lakeport Square intersection on Elm Street.

She said the bus had no students in it but had stopped at the railroad tracks. Forsten said the bus appeared to be undamaged but the car that hit it had some front end damage.

Forsten said that now that school is in session, motorists should remember that all school buses, whether they are empty or not, must stop at all railroad crossings.

The second accident happened yesterday afternoon when a school bus with about seven middle and high school students aboard clipped mirrors with another vehicle on Union Avenue near Irwin Marine.

The bus pulled into the marina and the Laconia Police responded as did School District Business Administrator Ed Emond.

No was was injured and Forsten said the students stayed on the bus for about an hour until a second bus could come and take them home. Because the bus's mirror is needed for driving, she said no students could be on it.

Yesterday's mishap set the Elm Street Elementary School schedule back by about 20 minutes because the same bus is used to transport them after its middle/high school run.  Forsten said the School District called all of the parents involved to tell them they were going to be late.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 August 2014 01:00

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