Remsenburg And Speonk Community Notes, February 14

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I’ve never considered myself to be an accomplished cook, though I have always loved doing it. In retrospect, my interest probably began as a means of survival.

My mother loved great food but, being that she was model-thin just like her own mother, could be satisfied with a meal the size of an appetizer at an expensive restaurant where presentation is everything. My mother would throw herself into the kitchen after arriving home from the office and then proudly present my brother and me with a meal the size of an appetizer.

Don’t get me wrong. These were excellent, dare I say, gourmet appetizers. But my brother and I, who had not yet developed such fine tastes, were sometimes left wanting more, so we started coming up with our own creations.

My mother recalls coming home and being served a shaved dark chocolate-orange torte, which I had made from a recipe copied from Julia Child. Unfortunately, this early interest never evolved and, for years, I continued following recipes line for line, never deviating from the pre-planned course.

That is until this year. For Christmas, my husband surprised me with cooking lessons from Julia Sahni, the author of “Classic Indian Cooking,” now in its 42nd printing. While setting up my semi-private lessons for March, her reassuring voice said: “You already know how to cook—I just will guide you to be creative.”

If you are here for the upcoming holiday break, your kids can enjoy a Winter Break Camp experience over at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. It runs from Tuesday, February 19, through Friday, February 22, from 9 a.m. to noon each day. The cost is $30 per day, or $100 for all four days. Advance registration is required. For more details, visit www.quoguewildliferefuge.org.

Don’t forget our wonderful local stores for those last minute Valentine’s Day gifts. Eastport and Speonk have some fantastic shops. There’s Island Bead and Jewelry, and Eastport’s Little Secret. There are too many shops to mention by name, but think about wine, roses, manicures and gift certificates. We can make someone feel special and support local business people during the winter months!

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has finally set the date for a public hearing on the Speonk Solvent Plume. It will be held on Wednesday, February 27, from 7 to 9 p.m., on the eastern campus of Suffolk County Community College in Northampton.

DEC officials are expected to attend and explain why they have decided not to clean up the estimated 2 miles of contaminated groundwater. This should be interesting.

The Follett Challenge is giving away $200,000 in educational prizes. You can help our Remsenburg-Speonk Elementary School’s fifth-graders win some cash by voting for their video entry. It is titled “At the CORE” and focuses on the class’s Curriculum, cOllaboration with Research & Electronics projects. You can vote once a day by visiting www.follettchallenge.com.

In anticipation of starting my cooking classes next month, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen, changing and substituting ingredients and, at times, simply winging it. My family says my cooking has improved and, for me, it is a lot more fun. My conversation with this accomplished chef has given me confidence.

When I shared this with my mother, she observed: “The difference between good and great is confidence.”

I wonder how many other things in life are like cooking?

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