April 28, 2015

Healthy Food for Two: Big power of small things


By Ania Robertson

Adding shiitake mushrooms to your diet will give you some protein and fiber and it is a flavorful way to get essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Also, according to Japanese researchers who published a study in “Cancer Science” in 2011, shiitake mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan, which has been shown to strengthen the immune system’s ability to fight infection and disease.

Adding turmeric will bring a nice yellowish color to your dish. In Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is added to food to treat indigestion, heartburn, dyspepsia and parasites. It can also be mixed into tea or other beverages to treat colds, coughs and respiratory problems. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial nature of turmeric has been well documented.

Adding nutmeg will support digestion, reduce flatulence and improve appetite.


Shiitake Mushrooms Goat Cheese Sauce

1 container (5 ounces; 141 grams) fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms, available in grocery stores

1 medium yellow onion, cut half and lengthwise and then crosswise

2 tablespoons cooking oil (your favorite)

2 stalks celery, cut

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon turmeric, powder

smidgen cayenne pepper, powder

dash freshly ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt or to taste

2 oz. goat cheese

1/2 cup “lite” coconut milk

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, all seasonings. Sauté under the cover over medium heat for 15 minutes until lightly brown. Stir occasionally. Using a hand mixer, mix goat cheese and coconut milk. Vigorously stir mixture in mushrooms and take the skillet from the heat. Do not cook the sauce. Serve immediately over sautéed chicken breast or pasta.

My favorite combination is with steamed asparagus.

Ania Robertson is a certified life coach with additional certification in Ayurveda and Feng Shui.





Bonnie Chase

Chase, Bonnie

Bonnie L. Chase, 62 died on Friday, April 17, 2015 at the Vermont Respite House surrounded by her family.

She was born in Burlington, VT on May 27, 1952, the daughter of the late Leonard Chase, Sr. and Alice Shortsleeve.

Bonnie was a very loving, generous, caring and creative spirit. She enjoyed gardening, traveling and spending time with her family. People always remarked on her beautiful gardens, including her grandchildren who enjoyed playing in the Fairy Gardens she specially prepared for them. Sometimes she would incorporate items she found during her annual visits to the coast of Maine with her family into these gardens.

Bonnie is survived by her two daughters Jennifer Taylor and husband Chris of Milton, Annie Lunn and husband Odysseus Manzi of Colchester; her grandchildren Lauren and Michael Taylor, Maya, Sophia, and Elias Manzi; her brother Leonard Chase, Jr. and wife Debbie of Williston and her sisters Alice Boyer of Lake Elmore, Genevieve Boyer and husband David of Monkton and by several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her sister Nancy Chase.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday, April 24, 2015 from 3 to 5 p.m. with a memorial service to follow at 5 p.m. at the Ready Funeral & Cremation Service Mountain View Chapel, 68 Pinecrest Dr., Essex Junction.  Burial will be held privately at the convenience of the family in East Cemetery, Williston. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Bonnie’s memory to the Vermont Respite House, 99 Allen Brook Lane, Williston VT 05495.

To send online condolences to the family, please visit www.readyfuneral.com.

Maximize storage and countertop space in a small kitchen


By Sharon Naylor

If you have a small kitchen, you might be fighting the all-too-common problem of clutter: crowded countertops that leave little room for food prep and the dreaded avalanche of cooking pot lids and storage containers every time you open a cabinet door. But with a few easy improvements and just a few purchases, you can transform your small kitchen into an organized, airy space that still gives you access to all of the cooking pots, cookie sheets, spices and coffee mugs you need. And never deal with cabinet avalanches ever again.

Here are some of the top ways to maximize your small kitchen’s storage space and open up your countertops for a nicer look and better function:

Get rid of your upper cabinet doors. Sounds crazy, but according to Taniya Nayak, host of HGTV’s “$100 Half-Day Designs” online series, removing those doors for an open-shelving look can give you an extra 12 to 18 inches of storage space on each shelf and make it easier to access those neatly piled plates and drinking glasses.

Design multi-shelf and pullout shelves for your lower cabinets, maximizing the entire cabinet height for better storage and easy access.

If you have an L-shaped cabinet system with a corner cabinet, install an oversized Lazy Susan to put pots, pans and smaller cooking items on to maximize storage and, gain easier access.

Redesign your under-sink cabinet with pullout drawers, tilting drawers, stacking shelves and plastic buckets to gather all of those cleaning supplies into a smaller storage space. Use the full height of that tricky space with items like pullout wire racks in a three-tier system that lets you store smaller items.

Hang mugs on hooks under your upper kitchen cabinets. Getting them out of your cabinets frees up a lot of space and your display of mugs adds to the decor of your kitchen while still being reachable.

Get larger cooking utensils out of your utensil drawer. Serving spoons, soup ladles, spatulas and all longer utensils can be stored in a tall metal canister on your countertop, freeing up your utensil drawer.Do a little DIY. Those non-opening drawer fronts at waist level by your sink can be removed and fitted with hinges so that they do tilt open to reveal smaller stored items such as cork screws and bottle openers.

Install an organized shelf system. Using modular, customizable shelving units can expand your storage and display space and make better use of a wall you haven’t optimized for use.

Use that space above the fridge. Don’t overload it because it will get warm up there, but a pair of pretty rattan baskets can hold extra kitchen items.

Get creative with the sides of your kitchen cabinets. Shelving affixed to the sides of upper and lower kitchen cabinets gives you more storage and small shelves in a kitchen window are perfect for growing kitchen herbs.

Use magnetic storage on the sides of your refrigerator. You can affix magnetic spice tins and other magnetic storage items on your refrigerator to keep them out of the way.

And of course, a wise way to maximize your small kitchen’s storage space and countertop availability is to go section by section through each of your cabinets, pantry and countertops to discard or recycle anything that’s outdated, such as stained storage bowls (with or without lids) and other items that you no longer use. You’ll be surprised and delighted at how much space you free up with years’ worth of belongings cleared out, and you might just wind up with some choice items for a garage sale, using some of your profits to invest in additional smart storage racks, bins and canisters for your kitchen and for other rooms in your home.  —CNS


Running for ‘Gramma Pat’

Observer courtesy photo Patricia Buckler, aka Gramma Pat, at her 80th birthday.

Observer courtesy photo
Patricia Buckler, aka Gramma Pat, at her 80th birthday.

Local woman raises money, awareness for Vermont Respite House

Rachel Drew remembers the feeling she had the first time she walked into the VNA Vermont Respite House to visit her Gramma Pat. “It was like walking into a living room. It put me at ease and it made me feel very comfortable.”

Patricia Buckler, aka Gramma Pat, had been living at the Pines Senior Living Community in South Burlington when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, later, a massive brain tumor. Her care needs were too great to stay at home. A case manager at the hospital told her family about the Respite House.

“Gramma Pat was given incredible, compassionate care at Vermont Respite House. We will forever be grateful for what they did for Gramma Pat and for our family,” Drew said.

On May 9, Drew is doing her part to give back by running in the Vermont Respite House 5K Fun Run and Jiggety Jog. Every dollar raised will support the care of residents with terminal illness and their families.

This will be Drew’s second year participating in this annual, family-friendly event. This year, the Fun Run falls on her 29th birthday. She can’t think of a better way to celebrate and to honor Gramma Pat.

“It’s such a positive event and a really uplifting atmosphere with wonderful volunteers. This is a cause very close to my whole family’s heart. I’ll be participating as long as I live in the area,” Drew said.

Drew is keeping up a family tradition. Her mother, Lisa Bruce (Gramma Pat’s daughter), was the top fundraiser at the 2008 Fun Run and Jiggety Jog, raising more than $1,900 the Spring after her mother passed away at Respite House.

“I felt an emotional ease once my mom was at Respite House,” Bruce said of her experience in 2008. “And, every time I visited, I was asked ‘what do you need’? I received hugs from everyone — from kitchen staff to house managers to volunteers.”

Last year, Bruce passed the Fun Run torch to Drew when hip issues prevented her from participating in the event. Drew has high hopes she’ll surpass her $1,000 fundraising goal this year. Participants who raise $1,000 or more become members of the Jiggety Jog Club and are honored for their achievement at a ceremony following the race.

Drew echoed her mother’s sentiment about the comfort Respite House staff provided to the whole family, in addition to the excellent care Gramma Pat received. The family was grateful, Drew said, for counseling from staff on how to say goodbye.

“We all took turns sitting around her bed and saying ‘I love you.’ I think it was really cathartic for everyone, having that chance to say goodbye,” Drew recalled.

Drew was a college student at the University of Vermont with a full class schedule, a part-time job and theater rehearsals when Gramma Pat arrived at Respite House. If Gramma Pat had been in a hospital, Drew said she would not have been able to visit in evenings after school and work. Also, the environment would not have felt so warm and inviting.

Drew has sweet memories of those last weeks with Gramma Pat, the two of them spending time in her private room, listening to music.

“We had a little CD player. She loved Michael Bublé. I would sit next to her chair and hold her hand and we would listen together,” Drew said.

Drew will honor those memories on May 9 and also help make sure other families can have quality end-of-life experiences with loved ones at the Vermont Respite House Fun Run and Jiggety Jog.

No one is turned away from Vermont Respite House based on inability to pay. About 40 percent of the Respite House budget comes from community support each year, including the money raised at this event, the largest annual fundraiser for Respite House. Last year, Respite House served 214 people with terminal illness, providing them a home-away-from-home to live out their remaining days in dignity, surrounded by family and friends.

Visit www.vnacares.org/run to register for this year’s Fun Run or sponsor an individual or call 802-860-4435 for more information.

Little Details: All that remains


By Katherine Bielawa Stamper

We arrived at the appointed hour, assuming a seat near the back of Wellington’s Cathedral of St. Paul. Pews near the front were reserved — for dignitaries, politicians and veterans and their families.

Organ music filled the cavernous church with a familiar melody, but we were not to sing My Country,‘Tis of Thee. I relied on the text provided in the program—and felt slightly conflicted in my patriotism as I joined congregants in God Save the Queen.

It was April 25, 2007, ANZAC Day on the New Zealand calendar. As temporary residents of this South Pacific capital city, my husband, daughter and I participated in events honoring New Zealand’s veterans and military war dead.

ANZAC Day coincides with a battle, a failed battle in World War I. Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the British Admiralty, was chief architect of a military campaign launched on April 25, 1915. Soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp (ANZAC) landed at Gallipoli, joining other Allied forces in a quest to secure the Dardanelles from German-allied Turks, thus opening access to the Bosphorus Strait and Black Sea. Capturing the Gallipoli Peninsula, Churchill reasoned, would open a path to Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire.

Turkish forces dug in, largely trapping Allied forces on the beach. Both sides incurred signifant casualties. Approximately 87,000 Turks and 44,000 French and British Empire soldiers lost their lives. The Ottomans held their ground, yielding not their strategic advantage.

It’s estimated that 2779 New Zealanders — one-fifth of the Kiwis on the peninsula — died at Gallipoli. This small island nation’s commitment of over 100,000 troops, from a population of 1.1 million, represented a significant contribution to the British Empire’s war effort.

I share the names of three Wellingtonians who fought and died at Gallipoli. Private Douglas Wilson Gray, age 23, was killed in action on May 8, 1915. Private Harold James Thomson, age 19, was killed in action on August 8, 1915. Captain Victor Albert Kelsall, age 44, was killed in action on August 8, 1915. These were real people, with hopes, dreams and ambitions who never made it home.

The failed military assault lasted eight months before Allied forces evacuated. Churchill was demoted. He resigned from the Liberal government of Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith. Some predicted that Churchill’s disastrous military blunder would end his political career. It did not. Churchill would re-emerge on another battlefield — as an officer on the Western Front — and slowly, resuscitate his reputation.

At the memorial service in Wellington, Jewish and Christian clergy read from the Book of Isaiah and the Gospel of St. Matthew. The choir sang an excerpt from the poem of celebrated British poet Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), entitled, For the Fallen:

There is music in the midst of desolation and a glory that shines upon our tears. They went with songs to the battle, they were young, straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted. They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall not grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

Kerry Prendergast, then-mayor of Wellington, offered reflections on the significance of the day. Congregants sang God Defend New Zealand in Maori and English before exiting the cathedral and laying commemorative wreaths at the Cenotaph, an empty tomb honoring military personnel lost in World War I and World War II. A lone bugler played The Last Post followed by a moment of silence, a poem and, finally, the bugler concluded with Reveille.

April 25, 2015 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Allied landing at Gallipoli. I’ll be thinking of soldiers that day, across time, space and conflicts

Some soldiers return home. Some do not. Remembrance is all that remains.

Katherine Bielawa Stamper, a Williston resident, is a former finalist for the Coolidge Prize for Journalism for writings on civility. Reader comments are welcome at [email protected] or [email protected]


Working to meet the needs of all learners at CVU


By the CVU School Board

Have you known a high school student who, at the end of four years, with graduation around the corner, suddenly appears to “wake up” in surprise to a looming reality of life after high school? Are you concerned when you see teenagers going through the motions to satisfy graduation requirements, out of touch with who they are, how they are motivated and in what ways they see themselves fitting into the world?

Transcending gender, socioeconomic level and academic performance, these concerns are not new at Champlain Valley Union High School. Grad Challenge is an example of a program that aims to help students learn deeply about themselves through a project that requires them to take control of a learning experience: directing the what, why, where and when. Another example is Advisory, a program that works to ensure that each student is “well known” by at least one adult in the building.

Recent state legislation, however, has provided us with an opportunity to expand our work on such student-centered learning. In June 2013, Act 77, which includes Education Quality Standards, was signed into law. This legislation requires that all Vermont schools implement Personalized Learning Plans, known as PLPs, beginning with grades 7 and 9 in 2015. CVU believes that, if implemented well, PLPs can be effective tools that can help students know themselves, take responsibility for their learning and begin to develop a vision for their futures after high school. PLPs present the opportunity to shift the learning culture not only at CVU, but, indeed, throughout the entire Chittenden South Supervisory Union in time.

What do PLPs look like? This is actually the work in which our district is presently engaged. A large group of CSSU professionals and administrators from every CSSU school (and 21 other school districts throughout the state) are attending in-depth learning workshops facilitated by the Great Schools Partnership and supported by an Agency of Education grant. This yearlong experience is aimed specifically at the implementation of PLPs and proficiency (standards) based learning, both state mandates.

It is likely, though, that PLPs will consist of the following steps: building a self profile (who am i?); identifying personal goals; making a plan; implementing the plan; assessing goals; reflecting on goals; and, finally, revising goals, as students engage in new experiences and mature. Goals can be short or long-term; they can be personal choice or required. The PLP itself might take the form of a paper or virtual portfolio. No matter what, the PLP should be viewed as a living document that is reviewed and updated regularly with caring adults who can support student goals. The purpose of the PLP is not to find a major or identify a career after high school. It is to help students internalize the process by which one knows oneself and can envision specific steps to achieve personal goals—a lifelong and transferable skill.

We are excited by the prospects offered by the PLP, but, as the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” The Agency of Education agrees, noting that the PLP “is only as good as the process that supports the development and use of the document.” We look forward to keeping you informed about the development of the PLP, with stories from students and parents. In the meantime, we hope you agree that PLPs are a positive step away from the one size fits all model of secondary education to a model of education that meets the needs of all learners.

Williston representatives to the CVU School Board include Jeanne Jensen, Polly Malik and Gene McCue.