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WEEKEND - Lots of tradition and meaning in every delicious bite at the Jewish Food Festival

LACONIA — The recipes for the food that will be served at the Temple B'nai Israel on Sunday come from grandmothers, aunts, friends of aunts and a host of others.  They use Sunday's annual Jewish Food Festival to showcase their families and their heritage.

The co-chairs of this year's festival are Sue Needleman and Leslie Aronson, with long-time chair Irene Gordon as chief consultant.

"We started this festival 17 years ago with three goals — to preserve old-fashioned recipes from moms and grand moms and to build camaraderie in the community about different foods and cultures," said Needleman.

The third goal for all of them is to grow the interest of the younger members of the temple.

Needleman is making her husband's Aunt Ellie recipe for noodle kugel. She explained that Aunt Ellie was her mother-in-law's best friend and the recipe is likely Russian in origin.

Kugel is many things — it is sweet, moist and holds together so it can but cut into squares. "My grandmother loved it as a dessert," said Needleman.

She explained other kugels are side dishes and are made with sour cream, noodles, eggs, milk, and butter. For Sunday, her's will be more of a dessert and topped with frosted flakes and cinnamon butter.

Gordon said she has been known to add apricots, raisin, buttermilk and sour cream to her kugel.

"Kugel is very typical of East Europe and Russia," said Gordon, noting that some families make it with beets as well.

She said kugel is one of those recipes that have followed Jews no matter where they have settled. She has seen recipes that use mango ketchup on kugel from some Jewish friend in the Caribbean.

She said Eastern Eruopeans preserved their recipes on tiny slips of paper smuggled out with their meager possession when many began to flee Europe during the beginnings of the Holocost.

Gordon's family escaped to Bolivia in 1939 when she was 1-year-old and the preservation of these recipes from all over Europe is very emotional for her.

"We use what ever we have available in our cooking," said said noting some of the best and most interesting Jewish food she's eaten come from the American Southwest.

Her Aunt Roses's Mandel Brot (bread) recipe came by foot from Germany. Aunt Rose was two and was carried by her mother along with two other children until the reached water and were able to board a boat and escape.

Long a favorite of Gordon's, she said Mandel Brot is baked into a long rectangle and removed from the oven when it is just about done. The rectangle is sliced into pieces and the pieces are browned in the oven until they get crispy, she explained. "Almost like a biscotti," she said.

Gordon said she preserved her grandmother's recipe from Bolivia for a German struedel where the dough is rolled as thin as philo dough before construction. She laughed because her grandmother's recipe was written in German and called for 1/2 egg shell of water — some thing she needed translated for her.

Another favorite during the 17 years of the Food Festival is the brisket sandwiches.

This year, Gordon said she cooked 150 pounds of brisket and the recipe comes from Lou Gaynor, the long time chef at the Lobster Pound.

"We've been making his recipes for years," she said.

Gordon said they went to Boston to buy the dough, the brisket, the tongue, and the pastrami from a wholesale vendor. She also said they bought half-sour pickles that "you just can't get around here."

Needleman said for years she had never been satisfied with her own matzoh ball recipe but she recently saw one on her husband's Facebook page, posted there by one of his cousins.

"None of it is made by mix," she said. "It's light, fluffy and beautiful."

This year there will be matzoh ball soup that will be more traditional than ever. Gordon and Needleman said the chicken broth will be cooked like it traditionally is with plenty of root vegetables for flavor. This year, she said they removed all of the vegetables with the exception of the carrots and served them as part of a meal to people at the Salvation Army.

With 357 matzoh balls in 13 gallons of soup with carrots, she said it will be the most traditional soup ever available at the food festival.

Leslie Aronson is doing her family recipe for knishes that came from her Aunt Ethel. She said they start out with mashed potatoes as opposed to dicing them when raw. They she added her flour and eggs to make a dough.

Barbara Morgenstern is making the blintzes, something both Gordon and Needleman said are some of the best they've had.

A blintz is a thin crepe filled with farmer's cheese, eggs, sugar and cream. They are rolled and served with strawberries and sour cream.

"We'll have 704 blintzes," said Gordon. "They're one of the most popular items and not that easy to make."

Leslie Aronson is also bring her rulalach — or tiny circles of dough made into triangles with cinnamon and pecan.

Along with the above delicacies, other members will be bringing stuffed cabbage, and a very old German recipe for streudel.

Gordon said there will be latkes (potato pancakes) that are a Jewish favorite around Hanukkah.

For the first time this year, "Me and Ollies" of Portsmouth will be making a seeded rye bread for the sandwiches. Gordon said it will be make fresh Saturday for Sunday's event.

As always, she said they'll have the bakery table that this year will feature hamantaschen (three-cornered pastries) filled with poppy seeds.

Gordon said they are a traditional dish for Purim and the shape of the pastry is in the shape of the Jewish enemy Haman's hat.

She said there will also be coffee cakes and banana and zucchini breads that aren't necessarily Jewish but are good to eat nonetheless.

The one course Gordon was unsure of this year was Challah Bread — a twisted bread that must rise three times before it's twisted, and then allows to rise again.

Both said the key to everything is having enough food so they don't run out.

The Annual Jewish Festival begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday and goes until 2 p.m. It is at the Temple B'nai Israel on Court Street. All proceeds got to support the Salvation Army and Hands Across the Table.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 10:57

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WEEKEND - Exhilarating Zip Tour & challenging Aerial Treetop Course at top of summer fun menu at Gunstock Mountain

GILFORD — The Gunstock Mountain Adventure Park is home to many exciting outdoor adventures but nothing compares to the thrill of the Zip Tour.
Gunstock's ziplines soar above the trees from peak to peak, and peak to base, traveling over 1.5 miles on the longest zip line canopy tour in the continental United States. It is fast, fun and exhilarating. This two hour plus adventure is for thrill seekers and nature lovers alike. Riders can control their speed and even make a stop to enjoy the spectacular views. A top speed of 65 mph is possible, as you make your way from the summit of Gunstock, towards the top of Pistol. From there, you'll hook up to another line and zip from Pistol top down to the Aerial Treetop Course, another of Gunstock's warm weather attractions.
Since it opened three years ago, the Zip Tour has won praise from adventure seekers and is one of the top attractions in the Lakes Region, drawing over 17,000 people a year according to Bill Quigley, Gunstock's marketing director.
He says that those making the ride start their adventure with training from Gunstock's experienced guides, who will familiarize them with the specialized equipment. Each participant is trained to perform all activities that may be required on the course, starting at the Demo Zip on a 45 foot line and then on to the 450 foot Training Zip. From there you take the Panorama Summit Chairlift to the top of the mountain and then take a 273 foot ride on the Summit Zip to the Recoil Zip, where there is a 3,981 foot line which has a vertical drop of 688 feet and riders are up to 150 feet above the ground to the next stop at the Pistol Zip. That zip line will take you another 3,809 feet down the face of the mountain, over the parking lot and the snowmaking pond to the landing zone next to the ATA course.
Built within the trees along Gunstock's pond, Aerial Treetop Adventure is New England's largest Aerial Obstacle Course and is now in its fourth summer.
Ninty-one different challenges are securely suspended within the trees in eight courses, including the Explorer Course just for kids. Some of the features include log ladders, bridges, swings, seesaws, foot bridges and, of course, lots of zip lines.
The Adult Adventure begins with a training course where the Adventure Park guides will show you how to use the equipment to ensure that you understand and can demonstrate that you can safely navigate the courses. You begin on the Green course which is the easiest and has the lowest games, which are 10' to 15' off the ground. Each course gets more challenging and the elevations get higher. If you make it all the way through, you'll finish on the Black course where you will be upwards of 100' off the ground, crossing a 165 foot long, irregularly spaced foot bridge. Participants on the adult course must be at least 12 years old and able to reach 5' 11" (flat footed) with fingertips and must be under 250 pounds. Children 15 and younger must have parent/guardian supervision either in the trees or on the ground.
The Explorer course is for younger, smaller participants. Children ages 6 to 11, who are able to reach 4' 7" (flat footed) with fingertips, will get to run through the course twice. They'll also start with a safety demonstration on our training course. There are 15 games in the Explorer course including an 80 foot zip line. Game heights are 10' to 15' off the ground. Adults can cheer on the kids from the ground.
"The unique part of ATA will be that once you are through your orientation and training seminar and mandatory demonstration of your understanding of the challenges, you will be working through the course on your own with guides throughout the course making sure you follow the rules and helping you if necessary," said Quigley.
Gunstock also offers Mountain Segway tours utilizing the new Segway X2 and has been awarded the CEO's choice award for best quality tour in the Northeast. A Segway is a 2-wheeled, self balancing personal transporter. To move forward or backward, the rider just leans slightly forward or backward. To turn left or right, the rider simply moves the Lean Steer frame left or right.
The Segway tours take riders through the cross country ski trails around Gunstock. Quigley said the rugged tires on the all terrain X2 are specifically designed to maneuver varied terrain and handle the most demanding application.
The Adventure Park, Treetop Adventures and Segway tours were part of a $2.1 million investment made at the county-owned recreation area four years ago, which followed on the heels of a $4 million expansion of its skiing operations in 2009.
Two years ago Gunstock added several attractions in its base lodge area including Water Wars, the ultimate water balloon fight, Spider Mountain, featuring a climbing wall, bungee jumping and inflatable slide and the Big Air Bag Launch Ramp, in which participants experience launching a tube over a ramp and landing softly into a pillow of air.
''These are all part of our building a better experience for our visitors,'' says Quigley, who says that the attractions are located in the Fun Park area where there is presently a skateboard park and a zip line orientation run.
He says that Gunstock is undergoing a significant change as it focuses on attracting more summer visitors to the area, which has 300 camping sites and a host of visitor attractions.
Other attractions include paddle boats, kayaks, and other water activities as well as mountain bike rentals.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 10:56

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Community College enrollment up 19% this summer

LACONIA — While summer enrollment increased throughout the Community College System of New Hampshire by four-percent, Lakes Region Community College posted growth fivefold greater than the average for the seven institutions.

This summer 413 students enrolled at LRCC compared to 346 a year ago, a difference of 19 percent. Max Brown, spokesman for the college, said that increase in credit hours was even greater, rising from 1,922 in 2013 to 2,405 in 2014, an increase of  25 percent.

Brown said that the first decrease in tuition in recent memory contributed to the growing enrollment. Earlier this year, Ross Gittell, chancellor of the system, announced that after freezing tuition in four of the last eight years, tuition would be trimmed 5 percent to $200 per credit.

Brown anticipated robust enrollment in the fall as well, noting that numbers in the advanced manufacturing program are set to more than triple from five to 17 while enrollment in the culinary arts will rise from 83 to 91.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:53

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Got Literacy teams with Got Lunch! Laconia to keep kids reading over the summer

LACONIA — "I thought we ought to feed the mind as well as as the belly," said Jane Hewitt, a volunteer for the Got Lunch! program and co-founder of Got Literacy. She paired the two organizations and, with a grant from the Children's Literacy Foundation (CLiF), brought entertainment and books to the Lakes Region Boys and Girls Club this week.

Dozens of youngsters, some in their mothers' arms, were treated to dramatic storytelling by Simon Brooks of New London, whose animated rendition of the traditional tale of "Goldilocks" evoked peels of giggles. Brooks, who grew up in England, turned to storytelling after working in telecommunications. He said listening to stories introduces children to realms beyond their experience, which they can explore through reading.

Hewitt said that CLiF, founded in 1998 and headquartered in Waterbury Center, Vermont, provided a "Summer Reading" grant to underwrite a stock of new books for the children to take with them after the program. The grants are intended to offset the so-called "summer slide," or decline of literacy among schoolchildren who do not read during their vacation. Research indicates that children who read throughout the year become increasingly literate.

In the 16 years since CLiF began its six literacy programs have reached more than 150,000 low-income young readers in Vermont and New Hampshire and distributed more than $3-million worth of books.

After the storytelling, Gail Drucker, the childrens' librarian at the Laconia Public Library, encouraged the children and their parents to seize the opportunities offered by the institution. In particular, she explained that by reading books and recording the titles children could earn a prize at the the library each and every week.

Books suited for children from infants to adolescents were arranged by age on different tables around the room. The program closed with an invitation to the children to browse the selections, read a few pages and choose two books for themselves. "You can take them home, put them on your bookshelf and write your name in them," Drucker said. Toddlers and teenagers alike left clutching books.

Meanwhile, Got Literacy has piggybacked on the Got Lunch! program by adding crossword puzzles, word games and books to childrens' lunch bags, distributed each Monday during the school vacation season. Hewitt said that with so many alternatives to reading, promoting literacy is a challenge, but one worth pursuing. "You hope to inspire readers for life," she said.

CAPTION: Storyteller Simon Brooks regaled toddlers and teenagers with tales of magic at the Lakes Region Boys and Girls Club this week while Got Literacy, in partnership with the Children's Literacy Foundation, sent the children home with books. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch).  

 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:46

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