Couple of chicks sitting around …



“Sit. Stay.”  Dogs are beloved at The Barking Dog Luncheonette on Third Avenue.

by Elizabeth Howard


The Barking Dog is a luncheonette just at the corner of the block where I live. A friendly neighborhood spot where one can find comfort food (burgers, mac n’ cheese, hot roast beef sandwiches) and brunch, with swell pancakes and bacon and eggs on Saturday and Sunday. It’s been there for decades, and although the management has changed and the interior was renovated a few years ago, basically, as the world turns the Barking Dog remains the same. The large screen television over the bar is fairly quiet and cannot be seen or heard from the dining room and it’s possible to actually have a conversation because the music isn’t too loud.  There are no gimmicks. Couples meet there after work, singles who live near-by go there with a newspaper or book and during the summer, when there are tables and chairs on the sidewalk, people bring their dogs. 

Often, I jokingly call the Barking Dog “my kitchen.”  Returning home after a reception or an early movie, it’s easier to just stop there for dinner then to think about preparing something at home. Which is what I did last week. 

The restaurant was busy, with most of the tables and small booths taken.  There were empty stools at the bar and I wanted to just be in and out.  I sat down and noticed there were only women at the bar.  Two lovely young women, laughing and talking, were seated on my left and on my right two women who seemed engaged in a more serious conversation.  My stool was at the corner of the bar, just in the middle.

Although I was reading, soon enough I was engaged in talking with the two women who were seated  on my right.  One was in New York visiting and caring for her aunt who had fallen and lived alone.  Her friend was someone who had been her mentor years ago when she was living in New York as a high school student.   I moved down so we could have a conversation. Then another young woman came in and took what had been my chair.  An architect, she had left her husband to put her children to bed while she just came down for a glass of wine and a salad.

Soon the four of us were engaged in a conversation.  We talked about politics, issues related to women’s health and exercise.  We never bothered to introduce ourselves, it wasn’t necessary.

We laughed and I believe each one of us could feel the warmth and caring that was being shared.

It was clear something was different.  There were no men at the bar.  Not one.  It occurred to me that what we were doing was what men have always done when they sit together at a bar. Without beer, without glancing up at the sports being broadcast on the screens and confident in our own bodies. 

Virginia Woof in A Room of One’s Own, imagines that Shakespeare had a sister and yet she never writes because she isn’t given the opportunity.  What women needed, writes Woolf, is “a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof rom, (which) was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century. …” 

The women sitting together at the Barking Dog last week were not there looking for a date, drowning sorrows in a cocktail or watching sports.   We were there having a light dinner and relaxing.  We were just a few chicks sitting around talking.  When I left that evening, I felt that something had changed and it felt good.  Women are finding a room of their own. 

Elizabeth Howard is an author and journalist.  Her books include:  Ned O’Gorman: A Glance Back, a book she edited (Easton Studio Press, 2015), A Day with Bonefish Joe (David R. Godine, 2015), Queen Anne’s Lace and Wild Blackberry Pie, (Thornwillow Press, 2011). She lives in New York City and has a home in Laconia.  You can send her a note at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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In the summer when it’s warm even dogs have a bar and a place of their own at the Barking Dog Luncheonette on Third Avenue.

Islands of hope


Art Abelmann, of Laconia, is shown here with St.Thomas. children waiting to pick up hurricane recovery packages with essentials such as food and toiletries prepared by students of My Brothers Workshop, an organization that helps train young people in the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas. The girl on the left is holding her mother's purse while the mother waits in line. The people of St. Thomas continued to endure hardships weeks after a hurricane left, despite living within walking distance to a cruise line port of call and a ten-minute drive from an all-inclusive resort. (Courtesy photo)


A 100 year-old woman has lived her entire life in a one-room home without running water on the island of Exuma, Bahamas. Her home is a five-minute walk from a newly renovated, $1,000 per night oceanfront resort. She still makes baskets from palm tree leaves which she sells to local merchants who cater to tourists. (Courtesy photo)


Village Academy, in Jamaica, where students from difficult home life situations are given an opportunity to earn a high school diploma with a focus on vocational training in agriculture, while working a farm so as to gain marketable skills. (Courtesy photo)


A man who lives in Jamaica lives in a home made out of blue tarps and makes his own charcoal, which he uses to cook food in a grill he fashioned out of a car wheel. This photo was taken within walking distance to resorts and a cruise line port of call. (Courtesy photo)

Former school administrator working to lift Caribbean lives


LACONIA — Art Abelmann’s career as a school administrator was interrupted on Sept. 11, 2012, when he was involved in a near-fatal motorcycle accident on his way to a meeting. Since then, he has turned his attention toward philanthropy, with an eye toward breaking down the startling divisions between the lives of regular people in Caribbean islands and the wealthy Americans who visit on vacation.

Abelmann, who lives in Laconia, worked as assistant principal in Alton when Prospect Mountain High School opened. He also served as assistant principal at Laconia High School, and was serving as the top administrator at Brunswick High School, in Maine, at the time of his motorcycle crash.

He suffered traumatic brain injury and required months of recovery, but was back on the job by the end of the school year. However, he came back too soon, he said in an interview on Tuesday, and knew he could no longer do the job. So, he resigned and ended his career as an administrator.

While he was considering the next phase of his life, Abelmann’s mind focused on a question that had long bothered him: How could so many people be trapped in poverty on Caribbean islands, when so much money was spent to visit there?

“It was in the back of my head for a long time, based on the travels that I had. Something in my head triggered that, if I’m not going to work in schools, what is something that I can dig into to make a difference?”

The difference can be stark. Inside the grounds of an all-inclusive resort, or in the carefully curated calls of port for cruise ships, the environment is clean, gleaming and ready to cater to every need. Leave those areas, though, and there is trash lining the roadsides, children whose families can’t afford school, and police forces that only try to contain crime within the poor neighborhoods.

“When you are at an all-inclusive resort, or get off a cruise ship at a port, what you see is very different from the lives of regular people living nearby,” Abelmann said.

It is true that the tourism industry provides jobs for local people, but those jobs don’t pay enough to lift families out of their situation, nor do they offer the kind of advancement that could lead to a career.

A year ago, Abelmann made his first visit to the Caribbean. Since then he has made six two-week trips, all on his own dime, to see the islands — the real islands, not the manufactured resort areas — and begin to build relationships with people and organizations there.

In Jamaica, he found the Village Academy, which provides a school for marginalized rural youths who have dropped out of school. At the Academy, they learn agriculture, so they can learn to support themselves and their families and provide healthy food for their communities.

In the Bahamas, on the island of Exuma, Abelmann connected with organizations Exuma Foundation and Starve Poverty, which improve the lives of residents who live in third-world conditions just a few minutes’ walk from a Sandals resort. The philanthropic organizations he worked with help to improve the homes of residents and to modernize an educational system that has changed little since it was imposed by British colonists.

Abelmann joined a hurricane recovery team in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in the fall of last year. He helped cook hundreds of meals each day to feed people that were without power weeks after hurricanes had left. The organization he was volunteering with, My Brothers Workshop, diverts troubled young men and women from a life of drug dealing and violence and instead teaches them culinary arts and construction skills.

Those programs all had something that Abelmann is looking for: systemic change. The programs didn’t just offer temporary relief from a crisis, they offered a path toward a new life, through education or career training.

What is the next step for Abelmann? He plans to form a foundation, called 2sides, which will leverage connections in New Hampshire to support organizations in the Caribbean, where so many people go to escape winter, yet leave without understanding what life is really like for people who serve them there.

“The idea is to get hooked up with some of this and make a difference,” he said. “How can I continue to support them through a nonprofit organization I’m forming, and get people to buy into the endeavor?”

Ironically, it’s been more challenging for him to establish connections in his own home state than it has in rural parts of the Caribbean. But he’s not giving up. He’s looking for local businesses, especially those involved in tourism, to partner with him. Anyone interested in learning more can contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 603-556-9632.

“It’s about finding a way to choose something where you can make a huge difference, through dedication and commitment as well as monetary support, and see systematic change.”

TRAVELS WITH PAULA - Above the Mara River


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Wildebeest and zebra gather around the Mara River in Kenya. (Courtesy photo)


We woke a few hours before sunrise and raced to the take-off site over rutted tracks that served as roads. The goal was to be in the air to see the sunrise over the vast Maasai Mara park in southern Kenya. How our driver could find any place in the park was a mystery to me, especially at night. But he drove with extreme confidence. The headlights captured the outlines of giraffes and wildebeest and zebra in their periphery.

In the pre-dawn light, we saw the balloon stretched out along the ground, the basket on its side. I had never been in a balloon and the prospect of soaring quietly over the vastness of the Maasai Mara park was a mix of excitement and nerves.

The balloon crew were well organized and professional, a relief since we would be up there hanging from some rip stop nylon kept afloat by propane and an open flame. A wind was picking up and pulling on the balloon, so we were loaded quickly, climbing into the basket and lying on our backs. Over our heads we could see the flame and hear the whoosh as they started to fill the balloon. Strapped in and holding tight, we bumped hard along the ground on our backs until the basket snapped upright and we were free of the earth.

The only sound was the occasional whoosh of the flame. Riz, our operator, made changing direction and altitude seem effortless and we quietly floated as the sun peaked over the horizon and the Maasai Mara began a new day. No one spoke. We tapped each other and pointed when we spotted something. Talking seemed irreverent. Massive herds of wildebeest and buffalo grazed, some prides of lions were eating a kill, others were sprawled out sleeping, while another pride was digging up a jackal den, pulling out the pups while the parents circled, yelping and howling at the loss. It was hard to watch without feeling sympathy for the jackals who were outnumbered in this fight.

We watched a baby elephant running frantically in circles, crying for her mother who we could see deep in the trees that lined the winding Mara River. Another pride of lions was moving slowly toward the baby. Mother and baby trumpeted back and forth. Riz circled over them. We were all tense until they finally found each other, and we let out a collective exhale.

The aerial view gave us a sense of the scale of the park, the size of the herds and it also showed us the scars on the landscape from the safari vehicles which the wildebeest won’t walk across. They prefer to jump the vehicle tracks. Recognizing that somehow, those strange marks don’t belong. It’s one of compromises we make to save wild spaces by monetizing them and a reminder to be conscious of our impact wherever we tread.

After a couple hours or so we set down, bumping along the ground backwards again. The ground team had raced to the landing sight to set up an incredible breakfast under the only acacia tree for miles and a loo with a view. Riz put us down exactly as planned. We sipped mimosas, a long way from anywhere, where cats eat dogs and buffalo still roam and you only dare to breathe again when a lost baby finally finds her mama and the view goes on forever.

Paula Hiuser is the owner of Epic Global Adventures.  She is committed to purposeful small group travel that sustains, conserves and protects, people, places and wildlife.

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Traveling by balloon offers spectacular views. (Courtesy photo)


Lakes Region Foodie — Go fish!

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After the Meredith Rotary Fishing Derby last weekend, and for many the season of Lent is upon us, it seemed that a column about fish might be appropriate. When I had my cooking classes, people would always say, “I don’t cook fish, I don’t know what to do with it.” You have to remember I had my cooking school in the Midwest, and when I moved back to my native new England, people knew a lot more; however, complaints ranged from “It smells up the house” to "the kids won’t eat it.” (Turn on a fan, and buy the kids fish fingers!)

But enough of constructive criticism.
Legend has it that when Paul Child took his wife, Julia, to France the first time, the ship landed at Rouen and Paul, being knowledgeable of the area, took her to La Couronne, a restaurant he apparently knew, where she had sole meuniere, and after the first bite, she had an epiphany! Thus began the second romance of her lifetime, according to her biographer Noel Riley Fitch. Fish and French food in general, it was that good!
Not only is fish good, it is good for us. There is such a range to choose from in the fish family. Think shellfish (lobster, clams, scallops, crabs, shrimp), round fish have an oval or circular shape, and include salmon, tuna, trout and bluefish and, from our own big lake, cusk! Then there are flatfish, flat and broad, such as halibut, sole and flounder.
When you go to select your fish, if you are choosing a whole fish look for clear, slightly bulging eyes, not cloudy. Cloudy eyes mean the fish has been out of the water too long. Press the fish with your finger; whole fish should be firm, not floppy. If I’m in a supermarket, I ask to smell the fish (with the exception of skate and shark, where an ammonia-like odor is actually a sign of freshness).
This is one of my favorite “go to” recipes, it’s quick, easy and delicious!

½ cup dry mustard powder, preferably Colman’s
½ cup sugar
2 lbs. center cut salmon fillet, about 2 inches at the thickest part, with skin
2 ½ Tb. extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees

In a bowl, whisk together mustard, sugar, and up to ¼ cup water, set aside.
Cut the salmon into four uniform portions. Pat dry with a paper towel. Heat 1 Tb. oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat, (skillet should be large enough to hold all the salmon without crowding. Add salmon, skin side up, and sear quickly for about 2 minutes. Turn, sear another 2 minutes skin side down. Thickest part of the salmon should still be raw in the center.
Brush top of salmon with remaining oil, and the with the mustard sauce. Place in oven for about 10 minutes, until medium-rare in the middle. (An instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the fish should register about 100 to 110 degrees.) Remove from oven and serve.
I have scaled this recipe down for two, or even one. Just halve or quarter ingredients.

This recipe is reported to be the one that Julia ate at La Couronne, and forever changed the course of culinary history. Sole meuniere is simple to prepare: meuniere means “miller’s wife” in French, and indicates the use of flour.

SOLE MEUNIERE (serves 4)
4 fillets of sole
Seasoned flour (lightly salted and dash pepper)
6 TB. unsalted butter
Lemon juice, and lemon slices for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley
Place the flour on a plate and dredge the fish lightly in the flour. Heat 3 Tb. of the butter over medium-high heat and saute the fish lightly until light golden brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes each side. Place the fish on a warmed serving platter. Add the remaining 3 Tb. butter to the pan. Allow it foam and become slightly brown, add lemon juice, swirl around, and pour over fish. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley.
Bon Appetit!

Barbara Lauterbach is a member of International Association of Culinary Professionals and a Certified Culinary Professional with extensive background in teaching, lecturing, demonstration and product promotion. She is the author of four cookbooks, and has been published in Cooking Light, Yankee, Fine Cooking and the Boston Globe. She lives in Meredith.

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