Back in the field

MILF Life Crisis explores life after divorce

Life keeps handing Anne Marie Scheffler one-woman shows. In her early 30s she did Not Getting It, a sendup of the dating scene. With marriage and kids came Suddenly Mommy! Scheffler’s recent divorce produced MILF Life Crisis, which arrives at Bank of NH Stage in Concord on Feb. 24.

In the new show, Scheffler and several of her alter egos explore re-entering a social fray made even more baffling by dating apps and age. Ultimately, though, it’s a celebration of the new freedom her new life offers. Flipping the acronym to (M)others are (I)ncredible, (L)ovely and (F)antastic, a derogatory fetish term is recast as a way to see female 40-something singlehood through a hopeful lens.

“We’re gonna make it fun and sexy, we’re gonna put on our leopard print,” Scheffler said in a recent phone interview. “You guys, just don’t worry about yourself, because we’ve got it covered.” It’s a powerful response to the idea that ending a marriage at a certain age is a death sentence.

“It could be the end of the world, but what if we decide it’s not?” Scheffler continued. “What if we decide we’re like George Clooney, and we only get better with age? This is the best time to be single because your kids are out … when you’re dating and you don’t have some part of your brain that’s like, ‘must procreate, must procreate’ — that’s really freeing.”

She’s egged on by fictional friend Kendra, whose airy attitude toward relationships aligns with Sam Malone from the ’80s sitcom Cheers; “let’s just go to bed, we don’t need a relationship” is her credo. Other characters in her journey from marriage to divorce to dating are friends offering sympathy and encouragement. Even her ex-husband appears, with his identity shrouded — apparently, he knew what marrying a comedian might portend.

“In our divorce agreement,” Scheffler said, “it’s literally in the legal document that I’m not allowed to use his real name.”

While MILF Life Crisis isn’t a show that Scheffler wanted or expected to make, she has a natural talent for mining laughs from her adversity.

“We can either be oppressed and sad, or laugh at it, shine the light in the dark corners and point out the silliness,” she said. “One of my strengths is I don’t put other people down; my comedy is very self-reflective, making fun of myself. What am I doing in my life that’s ridiculous? There’s a strength to making fun of what you’re supposed to take seriously.”

Scheffler always knew she would be a performer, but originally had her sights on being a serious actress. However, fate intervened.

“I went to theater school thinking I was going to be the next Meryl Streep, thinking, ‘I cry all the time, I’m sure I’ll be dramatic,’” she said. “I ended up being told, or it was very clear to the world, that I was good at comedy.”

She trained and toured with Second City and studied at the now-defunct Theater Resource Center. She also learned the mask-based style of clown technique created by Richard Pochinko, and studied with Phillippe Gaulier, who also taught Sacha Baron Cohen; Gaulier told her she was bound for great things.

“I thought that was probably a good sign,” Scheffler said. “With Second City, improv, the ability to write my own material and the Pochinko clowning, life is the best when I’m laughing.”

It’s led to a steady stream of success, despite the curveballs.

“I thought Suddenly Mommy! was going to be the thing that got me my TV series and put me on the map, but sadly, I got divorced; then my manager was like, everybody wants to know what your next show is,” she said, adding that she has a follow-up in the works called MILF & Cookies. “Who knew that I was going to be the poster child for divorce? I didn’t want that particularly… you wake up in your early 40s and you’re like, ‘I’m supposed to be married forever; now I have to start dating again?’”

MILF Life Crisis
When: Saturday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m.
Where: Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets: $43.75 at

Featured photo: Anne Marie Scheffler. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 24/02/22

Local music news & events

Record party: The fourth Thursday of the month is Bring Your Own Vinyl Night at a downtown craft brewery whose name illustrates the evening’s spirit. Check out To Share’s extensive collection, which includes everything from Tupac to Bob Seger’s Night Moves along with nuggets like Sanford Townsend Band’s Smoke From a Distant Fire. Thursday, Feb. 22, 4 p.m., To Share Brewing, 720 Union St., Manchester,

Folked up: Singer, songwriter and superb raconteur Vance Gilbert performs an “evening with” show. His latest album, 2023’s The Mother of Trouble, includes a song called “Simple Things” that Gilbert described as “what happens when a Black kid from Philadelphia who grew up listening to Earth, Wind & Fire, and didn’t know the Average White Band was white, tries to write a song like John Prine.” Friday, Feb. 23, 7:30 p.m., Rex Theatre, 23 Amherst St., Manchester, $25 at

Country girl: Happy career news continues for April Cushman, who will play a Saturday night apres-ski gig with her trio. There are events like a recent showcase in Cincinnati and a Plymouth, Mass., headlining show coming in May, and in June, Cushman will be on the side stage for Lainey Wilson’s Meadowbrook concert and later entertaining NASCAR fans ahead of Race Weekend. Saturday, Feb. 24, 6 pm., Pats Peak Ski Area, 686 Flanders Road, Henniker. See

Picking power: A fundraiser for an inventive sculpture garden has the New England Bluegrass Band, led by Cecil Abels, a Mississippi-born singer, guitarist and proprietor of Mr. Sippy’s BBQ, who came to the region via a career in the U.S. Navy. Converted from a ski resort in 1996, the beneficiary venue now welcomes a wide array of sculptors to create and place their work in its growing collection. Sunday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m., Andres Institute of Art, 106 Route 13, Brookline, $25 at

Song circle: This month’s Songwriter RoundUp at a Lakes Region winery has Brooks Young and Tim Winchester with host Katie Dobbins. Young had quite the year in 2023, opening for George Thorogood & the Destroyers on an East Coast tour, buoyed by the success of his Supply Chain Blues album. Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m., Hermit Woods Winery, 72 Main St., Meredith, $10 and up at

Madame Web (PG-13)

A paramedic briefly dies, which somehow kickstarts her ability to see into the future, in Madame Web, one of those Sony Marvel joints.

As you may have heard, Constance Webb (Kerry Bishé) was researching spiders in the Amazon in 1973 when she gave birth to a daughter and then immediately died.

Years later (2003), Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson) is an EMT in Queens. She is a loner who doesn’t know how to deal with people in general and maybe men and children specifically. When her EMT partner Ben (Adam Scott) tells her he’s met someone, there’s maybe an undercurrent that there was something between them once? Between Ben, excuse me, BEN and Cassie? What’s BEN’s new girlfriend’s name? We don’t learn that, nor do we learn the name of BEN’s brother (Richard) and sister-in-law’s (Mary) soon-to-be-born child, one who would make BEN an UNCLE who lives in QUEENS. The movie nudge-nudge-wink-winks at this whole storyline so hard and says BEN so many times you think the Spidey of it all is going to matter but it doesn’t.

Anyway, it is BEN who pulls Cassie from the water when she accidentally falls into the river while making a rescue. He resuscitates her and strongly suggests she see a doctor but she doesn’t take this suggestion until after she experiences some very strong premonitions. Premonitions that include seeing a friend killed in a car crash moments before it happens for real.

There’s nothing medically wrong with her — maybe it’s a combination of a response to the trauma of dying and the grief over her friend? She boards the train to head to his funeral and finds herself in a train car with Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor), three teen girls who don’t know each other and just randomly happen to be on that train.

To Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), these three girls aren’t just random passengers but members of the superpower-having trio that will one day murder him. You see, he was also “in the Amazon with my mom” and secretly a bad guy looking for the same spider with powerful healing properties that Constance was. Yada yada (the movie glosses over the how and why here) and now he has super strength and can walk on walls, not unlike Las Arañas, a Peruvian-Amazon-based group of vigilantes who found and attempted to save Constance after Ezekiel shot her and helped bring baby Cassie into the world.

Anyway, Ezekiel shows up at the train, ready to kill the teens before they can become superpowered women. But Cassie sees his attack from a few angles before it happens, enough that she is able to get the girls off the train. They understandably have questions: who is this crazy lady, why is she dragging them off the train, who is that guy in a head-to-toe latex suit, and why can he crawl upside down along the ceiling?

Cassie also has questions, like why she can see the future and why she is suddenly the one to help these girls. Maybe it has to do with learning to take this RESPONSIBILITY, which could give her access to a GREAT POWER she’s had all along.

Madame Web isn’t a terrible concept on its face. I don’t have any background with this character but who she is and who she becomes by the end of the movie is fine story material to work with — even if she feels like a variant on other Marvel and DC characters. But the movie is goopy, goopy like children’s play slime, goopyness that has somehow been taped together into the shape of a movie, and is just not good — not smart, not fun, not even “ha that’s something” the way parts of the Venom movies can be. I recently attempted making a dessert that was clearly going sideways about halfway through the baking process. “I don’t know, maybe more sugar here? Maybe some jam there?” The result wasn’t inedible but it was definitely not what I intended. And thus with Madame Web, a movie that needed different ingredients (or ingredients in different amounts) and a different method.

Dakota Johnson is OK — not great but nearly adequate and I think with better dialogue she could have bumped it up to good. Johnson’s style of emotionally closed off roboticism kind of works with who her character is. The three teen girls are also fine, though the movie could have used more of them and I think would have been better if it had let their characters develop beyond the basics of their exposition and let their relationship with each other develop as well.

Rahim as Ezekiel didn’t work for me at all — he is a flat, uninteresting villain whose whole persona and motivation feels extremely underwritten.

Unlike the “there are things here to work with” story and characters, the visual effects and overall look of this movie are quite bad. There is not an action scene, a chase or a fight that doesn’t look cheap and unfinished, like we’re seeing the storyboard sketch of what should be happening instead of a finished product. I found myself wondering how this movie would be different if it had kept its effects practical instead of computer-generated and confined itself to Queens-ish locales.

Madame Web does give the appearance of being a self-contained thing — there is no post-credits sequence here, even though all of us in the theater stayed waiting for one. But I wish the movie had really gone for broke with how it told its story and not left ends flapping like it was hoping for a sequel. C-

Rated PG-13 for violence/action and language, according to the MPA on Directed by S.J. Clarkson with a screenplay by Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless and Claire Parker & S.J. Clarkson, Madame Web is an hour and 57 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Columbia Pictures.

The Zone of Interest (PG-13)

A husband, a wife and their five children enjoy an idyllic-seeming life in a house with a large garden, situated by a scenic forest and also jammed up next to the horrors of Auschwitz, in The Zone of Interest, a fascinating movie rightly nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

We first see Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), Nazi SS officer and Auschwitz concentration camp commandant, and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller, turning in one of two great Best Picture performances for this year — the other is in Anatomy of a Fall, for which she also has an acting nod) and their kids swimming in a river and generally enjoying the outdoors. They return to their house and we see Höss checking doors and turning off lights as his family goes to bed, but the walls in the garden on the side of his house have barbed wire on top and behind them we can hear gunshots, screams and barking dogs.

This hellishness is all around them all the time, literally in the air that they breathe, as we constantly see smoke from crematoriums filling the sky. When Höss arrives home, he takes his boots off outside and one of the prisoners working at his house washes them, letting us briefly see the blood running off them. Neither Höss nor Hedwig seems blind to the vast human misery or compartmentalizing it away from their daily thoughts. (Being more efficient with murder is literally Höss’ job.) They are perfectly fine with what’s happening — proud of themselves, even, for building such a life.

Hedwig seems pretty happy to swan around this house with a pool and a well-tended garden, full of what she seems to think of as domestic help — if not people held captive at the camps then people from the countryside who seem to have little say in their presence there or what they do. Hedwig knows full well about the constant murder surrounding her and seems mostly just delighted with its perks. She happily receives a bag of silky lingerie that she and the women who work in her house pick through as well as an elegant fur coat brought just for her, complete with its rightful owner’s lipstick still in a pocket. She brags about being called the queen of Auschwitz, and when her mother comes to visit they have an indifferent chat about a Jewish woman her mother once knew who might be held there. The mother had tried but failed to buy the woman’s curtains when they were auctioned off after her family was deported; losing the curtains clearly troubles her more than what might have happened to the woman. Meanwhile, Hedwig’s oldest son plays with teeth and gold fillings as casually as his younger brother plays with toy soldiers.

It’s not particularly original to say that the monstrousness of everything we see is underlined by how banal the day-to-day lives of these family members are — Höss’ meetings with other SS officers, the department politics that have him sent to another camp for a while, the marital politics that have Hedwig demanding to stay at Auschwitz so their children can continue having this “good life.” The skill of the movie is that it never lets us forget what we’re experiencing — nearly every scene has smoke, distant screams, gunshots, prisoners, ashes — but it doesn’t need to dramatize it in some big way. The bare facts and tiny details of what’s happening are horrible enough without any embellishment and the Höss family’s “shrug, but of course” attitude really drives home how easily they don’t just accept but embrace every atrocious thing happening around them.

There is one moment when the movie pulls back and suggests that Rudolf Höss is fully aware of how enormous the evil he is a part of is. But that stretch, rather brilliantly, sets itself against matter-of-fact domestic work — women in the present day at the Auschwitz museum diligently clean the glass behind which sit massive piles of shoes and luggage representing the million-plus people murdered there. The scene feels as much like a warning for how easily such a horror can be put behind glass as it is an indictment of the people who committed these crimes.

The Zone of Interest isn’t fun movie times, obviously, but it isn’t homework either. It’s a fascinating character study that smartly sets the ordinary against the horrific. A

Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some suggestive material and smoking, according to the MPA at Directed by Jonathan Glazer with a screenplay by Glazer (based loosely on the book by Martin Amis),The Zone of Interest is an hour and 45 minutes long and distributed in theaters by A24. It is slated to be released on VOD on Feb. 20.

Featured photo: Lisa Frankenstein.

Fear Factories, by Matthew Scully and Justice for Animals, by Martha C. Nussbaum

Fear Factories, by Matthew Scully (First Arezzo Books, 273 pages)

Justice for Animals, by Martha C. Nussbaum (Simon and Schuster, 320 pages)

It’s been nearly half a century since the Australian philosopher Peter Singer published Animal Liberation, effectively launching the modern animal rights movement. Twenty-seven years later, Matthew Scully — best-known then as a speechwriter for George W. Bush and other GOP politicians — came out with Dominion, which became a sort of Animal Liberation for a new generation (and also for those who couldn’t stomach Singer’s more controversial takes, such as giving parents the right to end the lives of disabled newborns).

Both writers made a compelling case against “factory farming,” the means by which the majority of meat and dairy products in the U.S. are produced, with scale, efficiency and speed that requires animals be treated in ways many people consider horrific. So, how’s it going?

Not so great, despite legal advances made by animal-rights activists and slight declines in recent years in per-capita meat consumption. Vox last year claimed in a headline “You’re more likely to go to prison for exposing animal cruelty than committing it,” which is demonstrably untrue, but the overarching point is valid — legal theory and strategy that aims to reduce animal suffering is still largely left wanting.

Into this void comes the highly regarded University of Chicago philosopher Martha Nussbaum, whose Justice for Animals proposes a new legal theory, which she calls the “capabilities approach.” Published last year in hardcover, it’s new in paperback, as is Matthew Scully’s followup to Dominion, called Fear Factories. (And last year Singer updated his original work in a volume called Animal Liberation Now.)

Nussbaum, the author or co-author of 24 other philosophy books, is relatively new to the subject of animal rights, having seriously picked up the cause after the death of her daughter, an attorney who specialized in animal-rights cases. In Justice for Animals she expounds on ideas previously applied to standards of human welfare and assigns them to animals. According to Nussbaum, most animals can suffer injustice for which human beings should be held accountable. But not all animals. Nussbaum argues that we should take into account whether the animals are capable of living a certain sort of life — one in which they are striving to flourish in that world in ways accordant with their species. Injustice can be done to animals, therefore, not just by the willful infliction of pain but by thwarting animals from their natural progressions of life.

There are gradations that can make it difficult to identify injustice — she’s still not sold, for example, on whether crustaceans truly have flourishingly lives, and insects don’t seem to process pain. But injustice “centrally involves significant striving blocked by not just harm but also wrongful thwarting, whether negligent or deliberate,” Nussbaum says. If that smacks of legal-ese, well, this is a book that wants to establish a framework for bringing legal cases on behalf of animals, and so it lays out the case soberly, often with stilted language and professor-like repetition. This is for people who want to get into the weeds of animal rights.

Among the questions she tackles: Are we morally obligated to intervene to protect wildlife from misery and disease? (The New Hampshire moose dying of tick infestation come to mind.) Should we intervene when we have a chance to save an individual animal, or many, from predation? Can humans be “friends” with animals in captivity?

While Nussbaum considers the treatment of animals bred for slaughter on factory farms, and the cattle in large-scale dairy operations, a “moral horror,” she does not argue for veganism, saying, “I have no principled objection to the human use of animal products, so long as the animal is able to carry on its characteristic animal life.”

Scully, on the other hand, is a vegan, although in Fear Factories he does not aggressively try to convert meat-eaters; he seems principally concerned with getting people to think about the animals that suffered in order that they may enjoy a bacon cheeseburger. If they change their eating habits, all the better, but you get the sense he’d be satisfied if we could just stop with the wide-scale misery.

Fear Factories is a collection of about 50 articles and essays published between 1992 and 2022; nearly half originally appeared in the conservative journal National Review. Animal rights are typically considered a cause of the political left; as such, Scully was definitely not preaching to the choir, and the photos he chose for the covers of the book go for our emotional jugular. (The front cover shows rows of gestational crates, the kind Proposition 12 banned in California; the back, a close-up of a miserable pig in such a crate.)

While Dominion was deeply reported, with Scully going to a factory farm in North Carolina and a meeting of an international sport hunting club, among other places, the essays in Fear Factories draw more on his personal experience. In an essay titled “Lessons from a Dog,” he writes about how his childhood attachment to a stray dog his family adopted led to a moral awakening that caused him to become a vegetarian as a teen. Many others involve animal cruelty laws that were then being debated and met with resistance even though they proposed, as Scully writes, to extend “the smallest of mercies to the humblest of creatures.”

Scully has the soul of a poet, and it comes across in devastating prose in which he takes on the harvesting of elephants, trophy hunting, seal clubbing and other atrocities, and the derision and contempt often given animal-rights activists trying to make a point in ways as simple as offering water to a pig headed for slaughter. He also includes reviews he has written of other animal-centric books, such as The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth by Edward O. Wilson and The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims.

While Scully is more eloquent, and Nussbaum more scholarly, both continue to build out the case against factory farming. Neither is an easy read, however; they are not meant to be enjoyed so much as to be studied. Fear Factories: A; Justice for Animals: B-

Album Reviews 24/02/22

The Writeful Heirs, The Writeful Heirs (self-released)

Big fan of the New Boston, N.H., area, which is where this boy/girl songwriting duo (they’re older, so “boy/girl” is a bit inaccurate, but whatevs) is based. Their trip is undergirded by Americana, and the bio sheet rattles off a few other influences, namely psychedelica, classic rock, ’80s stuff and alt-rock, which I trust is all totally true, but either way, these two have obviously spent a lot of time rehashing and refining these songs. Former Club Iguana songwriter John Montalto handles the guitar and bass here, with newcomer Sunny Barretto, a hippie lady who handles lyrics and background singing. This business starts off with “Jupiter in July,” a Guster-ish thing that’d be more of a Peter Bradley Adams endeavor if it were a bit more mellow, not that it’d hurt a fly as is. Tons of layering enhances the smoothness of the sounds; Amos Lee would certainly be an accurate RIYL name-check for this very well-done record. A

James Brown, We Got to Change (Universal Music)

A little rock ’n’ blues archaeology for you here, kids, an unreleased single from the Godfather of Soul (or, of course, whatever else people like to call him these days, often epithets that aren’t really nice, in line with all the #MeToo business that’s surfaced in recent years). This is an old relic, recorded Aug. 16, 1970, at Criteria Studios in Miami, a pivotal period for Brown in that longtime members of his famed James Brown Orchestra had walked out a few months earlier. The replacement band, called The J.B.’s. (anchored by two young brothers from Cincinnati, Ohio, in the persons of guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins and bassist William “Bootsy” Collins), boasted a harder edge, as heard on such singles as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being) a Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” “Soul Power,” and this tune, a typical foreboding, urban grumbler that starts with bongos, then adds some staccato guitar before Brown starts preaching in his signature fashion, which of course prompts the usual Vegas choir-and-brass pomp. Three versions appear here. A


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• OK, look alive everyone, the next all-in CD release day is Friday, Feb. 23, who’s got the remote, I want to fast-forward three months so we can get past all this ridiculous “too cold to go swimming but too warm to make popsicles just by putting a cup of fruit juice outside for 10 seconds” weather. Don’t you hate this? I do too, but I cannot plead insanity and refuse to do my duty by listening to bad albums today, there are just too many bad albums out there in my new-release list, all looking up at me like a laundry-load of kittens, begging me to put aside my deepest-possible hatred for this stupid month and just pay attention to their awful songs, aren’t they so cute? Yikes, I have to tell you, I thought I was going to get to hear and review a new album from Elbow today, but that one doesn’t come out until March, so we’ll begin this week’s exercise with some band called Hurray for the Riff Raff, whose new album, The Past Is Still Alive, is in my ruggedly handsome face right this second! The leadoff single, “Snake Plant,” sounds like a cross between Reba McEntire and Sinead O’Connor, and no, I have no explanation for that, but it isn’t completely horrible.

• A long time ago in a rock ’n’ roll galaxy far, far away, four glam-metal hacks from Los Angeles realized that the fastest way to become famous (despite having no talent for writing songs whatsoever) would be to combine room-temperature Danzig-style faux-punkishness with a few Kiss elements, like face makeup, random explosions, guitar riffs that any 6-year-old could play after one lesson, and — well, OK, everything else, except for catchy choruses, and lo, Mötley Crüe was born. The only thing the band was really good for was giving metal-radio DJs a break from playing Ratt, which was a win for them and in fact all humanity. After a time, no one liked hair metal anymore, which was Nirvana’s fault, so the Crüe’s drummer totally accidentally released the sexytime part of a video he was filming with his Ph.D. physicist wife, Pamela Anderson, a film that was originally intended as an instructional video on nautical navigation for sailors stranded at sea. And then, whatever, the singer left for a while after releasing a sexytime video of his own, and then he came back, to no one’s surprise. Cut to now, where da Crüe’s guitarist, Mick Mars, was all like “I’m sick of this place,” so he has also quit for the moment, and, until he realizes that he’s going to be broke unless he rejoins da Crüe, he will release solo albums, of which his brand new one, The Other Side Of Mars, is the first. See what he did there, with that album title, and the first single from this Loot Crate version of Ace Frehley is called “Loyal to the Lie.” Stop the presses, folks, it’s not a bad song at all if you liked Gravity Kills way back before Ben Franklin invented the VCR. I can deal with it, sure.

Nadine Shah is a British avant-pop singer who used to be friends with Amy Winehouse. Now that Shah is out of rehab, she is releasing albums, starting with this new one, Filthy Underneath. The single, “Twenty Things,” has a super-cool art-rock edge to it, and her vocals will appeal to Bowie fans for sure. It’s decent enough.

• Lastly we have Aughts-indie cool kids MGMT, whose new LP, Loss Of Life, features a tune called “Mother Nature.” It’s got a ’60s-pop slant to it, a la The Beatles, if you’ve ever heard of those guys. Actually, no, you know what, it sounds like Oasis quite a bit, up to the sad-happy chorus bit. Yes, that’s it, the tune wants to be “Wonderwall,” but, because it’s MGMT, it has to have a nicely shot but utterly pointless cartoon as its video, you know how this goes.


  • 2½ cups (222 grams) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ¼ cup sesame/poppy seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 310ºF.

In the largest bowl you have, mix the dry ingredients together. In a smaller container, mix the wet ingredients together.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients, mixing them thoroughly. Clean hands work well for this.

Spread the raw granola loosely on a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Stir, then pack down firmly with a spatula or a wooden spoon. This will leave you with big clumps of the finished granola.

Bake for another 15 minutes, during which time your kitchen will smell very, very good. If you’ve managed to get yourself in trouble with a wife or boyfriend, this will boost you 50 percent of the way out of the hole you’re in.

Remove from the oven and let cool for at least half an hour.

Eat it with — Oh, come on! It’s granola. You know what to do with it.

This is a solid delicious granola with a hint of saltiness and a tiny kick of spiciness. The great thing about this particular recipe — or any granola recipe, when you come down to it — is how adaptable it is:

Oats – This is probably the only ingredient you can’t mess with too much, but if you happen to run across some rolled barley or something, I’m pretty sure that would work too. Granola is very forgiving.

Nuts – You’re pretty wide open to improvisation here. I generally use roasted, salted nuts; my favorites are pistachios or pecans, but I’ll bet peanuts would be delicious. I’m very much not a walnut guy, but if you like them, they’d probably be delicious. My wife has asked me to use shredded coconut next time I make this.

Seeds – Again, it’s probably hard to go wrong with any seeds. I tend to fall back on a 50/50 mix of sesame and poppy seeds, but I’ve had good luck with hemp seeds. Sunflower kernels or pepitas (Mexican pumpkin seeds) would probably be excellent too. If you end up using a higher volume of seeds, add a little more of the liquid ingredients.

Brown sugar – Could you replace this with maple sugar or jaggery (Indian fermented brown sugar)? I don’t see why not.

Seasonings – You have just as many options here, but you might want to take a moment to think through any spices you add to your granola. I took this particular granola to a potluck breakfast at work once and the cayenne pepper made an otherwise kind and gentle coworker almost take a swing at me. I grew up in Vermont, at a time when salt and pepper was seen as dangerously adventurous. I should have remembered that people in this part of the world feel vaguely — or apparently not so vaguely — threatened by spicy food. With that said, I misread my notes and almost added cardamom to this recipe instead of cinnamon, and I think that might actually work. Your mileage may vary.

Oil – This recipe calls for vegetable oil, because it has a fairly neutral flavor and a high smoke point, but I’ve substituted hazelnut oil before and was very pleased.

Maple syrup – Honey works well here. If you’ve made syrup for cocktails — ginger or raspberry syrup for instance — that would work well, too.

Chocolate chips, M&Ms or gummy bears – Save them for your trail mix. If you decide to try them in your granola, mix them in after it is made and cooled. They wouldn’t make it through the baking process intact.

Featured photo: Granola. Photo by John Fladd.

Flavors of Girl Scout cookie season

Girls learn sales and leadership skills while selling Samoas and Thin Mints

Girl Scout cookie season is underway, combining tasty treats with the opportunity to support local youth initiatives. Ginger Kozlowski, communications and public relations manager for Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, and Sheila Morris, a troop leader in Concord, talked about this year’s sales, including how to buy cookies, the impact of New Hampshire’s Cookie Weekend, troop goals and ways to support without buying cookies.

What are the different ways people can purchase Girl Scout cookies across New Hampshire this season?

Kozlowski: It’s great to interact with a Girl Scout at her cookie booth. You will help her see that people support Girl Scouts and she will be happy to tell you all about the cookies and her goals. Booths are all over the place, but only until March 17. You can find a cookie booth near you by visiting and entering your zip code.

Tell us about the governor’s proclamation of Cookie Weekend and how you anticipate that impacting cookie sales.

Kozlowski: We are happy that Gov. Sununu proclaimed Feb. 16 through Feb. 18 Girl Scout Cookie Weekend in New Hampshire. We hope it will help us celebrate by supporting the Girl Scout Cookie program, which funds so much of our activities. Did you know that all the proceeds stay local?

Morris: Our troop has set a goal to sell 7,000 boxes of cookies so we can take one last big trip in 2025.

What are some of the goals or activities that local Girl Scouts are aiming to fund with the proceeds from this year’s cookie sales?

Kozlowski: Many Girl Scouts put their cookie proceeds toward summer camp, membership, community action projects, and fund cool experiences. On Facebook, Girl Scouts have posted goals like going to Space Camp and helping a women’s shelter food pantry. Many are looking forward to field trips.

Morris: We are known as the ‘travel troop.’ Our main focus has been travel and community service. We’re looking forward to kayaking and hiking in August in the Lakes Region and taking one last big trip in 2025. These trips have been amazing. They have given girls new adventures and bonding. Some of these girls might never travel without this troop. To see a girl overcome her anxiety to do something is priceless. To see them enjoy new experiences is delightful. The trips have also given them travel skills in budgeting, exploring places to go, getting around and safety. We also have tried to do a service project on our trips when it is possible. For example, we spent a day at a local school doing crafts and teaching them games and songs when we went to St. Lucia last spring. This is such a rewarding experience.

Can you explain the ‘Unbox the Future’ theme and how cookie sales help Girl Scouts achieve this vision?

Kozlowski: Unbox the Future simply refers to how you support the growth and future of girls by buying Girl Scout cookies. Girl Scouting is all about giving girls the opportunity to explore the world and follow their dreams in a supportive environment. Our mission is to create young women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.

Morris: And I see that in all my Girl Scouts. I have seen them come out of their shell and become a confident leader. I have seen them mentor younger girls. I have seen them learn to discuss and decide as a group, while being respectful of different opinions. It’s amazing to see them tackle community issues or plan an overseas trip.

What are some key skills that Girl Scouts are learning through cookie sales?

Kozlowski: Oh, that’s easy. Girl Scouts is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, so we have five specific skills we find essential to leadership, success and life in general: goal-setting, decision-making, money management, people skills and business ethics.

Morris: I have seen these girls flourish in all aspects when dealing with the public at booths and become more confident as the years have gone by. I have personally seen my Girl Scouts grow in all these areas. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their child?

For those looking to support local Girl Scouts but who may not want cookies themselves, what options do they have for contributing to the troops?

Kozlowski: The Council’s Gift of Caring program is perfect for this. Every Girl Scout has the ability to take donations at their cookie booth to put toward this program, which provides cookies to the military and hometown heroes. And if you don’t run across a cookie booth by March 17 when sales end, you can still donate at the council’s website at

Morris: If you do that at our cookie booth, you will also directly help our Girl Scouts.

Here are this year’s cookie flavors, according to Cookies cost $6 per box.

Adventurefuls — “brownie-inspired cookies topped with caramel flavored creme”
Do-Si-Dos — “oatmeal sandwich cookies with a peanut butter filling”
Girl Scout S’mores — “graham sandwich cookies with chocolatey and marshmallowy flavored filling”
Lemon-Ups — “crispy lemon cookies”
Samoas — “crisp cookies with caramel, coconut and chocolatey stripes”
Tagalongs — “crispy cookies layered with peanut butter and covered with a chocolatey coating”
Thin Mints — “chocolatey cookies made with natural oils of peppermint”
Toffee-Tastic — gluten-free buttery cookies with toffee bits
Trefoils — “shortbread cookies”

Featured photo: Photo courtesy of GSUSA.

The Weekly Dish 24/02/22

News from the local food scene

Bourbon dinner: The Homestead’s Bristol location (1567 Summer St.; 744-2022, will hold a Penelope Bourbon Dinner on Tuesday, March 5, at 6:30 p.m., with a sparkling wine reception at 6 p.m. The cost for a four-course pairing dinner is $90 per person. The dinner includes cheese & crackers and crudites with the sparkling wine, bourbon brown sugar smoked salmon latke with creme fraiche as the first course, crispy pork belly taco with a smoky bourbon mole for a second course, Bourbon Street glaze filet for the third course and vanilla bean panna cotta and bourbon caramel sauce with a grilled peach flambe for the fourth course, according to an email. Call for reservations.

Cider flights: The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover;, 742-2002) will host an adults-only (21+) Cider Flights & Tasty Bites night featuring North Country Hard Cider on Saturday, March 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. Taste five of North Country’s hard ciders and enjoy eats from area restaurants, according to the website. Tickets cost $35 per person, $25 for designated drivers; a VIP admission ticket for $50 ($35 for a driver) includes a 6:30 p.m. entry and an extra cider pour (for the non-drivers). Purchase tickets online.

New owner: According to a Concord Monitor article first published on Feb. 7, “a team including the owner of Tandy’s Top Shelf in Concord bought Hermanos Cocina Mexicana.” The new owners plan to keep Hermanos the same, according to a quote from Greg Tandy in the article. The story also reported that Vinnie’s Pizzaria is reopening soon.

Trivia and beer: TailSpinner Brewery (57 Factory St., with an entrance at 40 Water St., in Nashua; hosts trivia nights on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., with seating starting at 6 p.m., according to the Brewery’s Facebook page.

Saucey: The Salem-NH-based Cucina Aurora, known for its infused oils, mixes and coffees among other items, has new jarred marinara sauces. The Magical Marinara comes in Roasted Garlic Pomodoro and Sweet Basil Pomodoro and costs $10.99 on the website. See, where you can find a list of places that sell Cucina Aurora products.

On The Job – Deanna R. Hoying

Executive Director of Symphony New Hampshire

Deanna R. Hoying leads Symphony New Hampshire, the state’s oldest professional orchestra, known for its blend of classical and modern music and community engagement through music education.

Explain your job and what it entails. 

I am involved in all areas of running the organization. This includes interfacing with the public at concerts, working with our board of trustees, strategizing with marketing about our message and our reach, working with our collaborative partners around the state, all development areas … working with our musicians and working in partnership with our music director to create each season of concerts.

 How long have you had this job? 

I began this position in August 2021, but I have been with Symphony NH since April 2019.

What led you to this career field and your current job? 

I have been in music since I was 7. It began with piano lessons, then studying French horn. I have a music performance degree in French horn from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Then I attended Temple University in Philadelphia to do graduate work in music education. I have been in the world of arts administration since 1996. … I have been the director of education for three opera companies — Cincinnati, Arizona and Kentucky — and the director of education and community engagement for the Louisville Orchestra from 2014 to 2018 before moving to Manchester in 2018.

What kind of education or training did you need?

When I began work in arts administration in 1996, it was on-the-job training. I was originally hired at Cincinnati Opera because I had a background as a musician and music educator and could write curriculum. That honed my writing skills to create grant narratives for development departments.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire? 

Daytime at work is very relaxed. We are on a hybrid schedule with typically one day per week in the office. Concert attire is different with a more dressed-up vibe.

What is the most challenging thing about your work, and how do you deal with it?

There are a lot of puzzle pieces in putting together a season. Working with the music director to create concert programs, then finding venues to be able to perform, making sure our librarian/personnel manager has all the information needed to hire musicians, … I try to be very organized and methodical … I do take time for exercise and meditation; that helps me focus on the challenges at hand.

What do you wish other people knew about your job? 

Building partnerships and relationships takes time. Rebuilding an audience after Covid has taken time and effort, but we are finally seeing the results of the hard work.

Angie Sykeny

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received? 

It’s important that the community feels a sense of ownership in the organization — it’s their orchestra.

Five favorites
Favorite book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Favorite music: Rush. Favorite songs: “Tom Sawyer,” “Subdivisions” and “Red Barchetta”
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite thing about NH: The sense of community

Featured photo: Deanna R. Hoying. Photo credit Sid Ceaser.

Kiddie Pool 24/02/22

Family fun for whenever

Vacation at the museum

School vacation runs Monday, Feb. 26, through Friday, March 1, for many New Hampshire schools and some museums have special hours and activities.

Aviation Museum of New Hampshire (27 Navigator Road in Londonderry;, 669-4820) will be open Tuesday, Feb. 27, through Thursday, Feb. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as its regular hours of Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., according to a press release. The museum’s Elite Flight Simulator will be operating Tuesday, Feb. 27, and Thursday, Feb. 29, from 1 to 4 p.m.; it simulates the experience of flying a single engine plane and is open to kids ages 12 and up, the release said. For the 12 and unders, there will be a story time on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at 10 a.m., the release said. Admission to the museum costs $10 for ages 13 and above, $5 for 65+, veterans/military and kids ages 6 to 12, and is free for ages 5 and under.

• The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (6 Washington St. in Dover;, 742-2002) has play sessions from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and a session from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays. Additionally, Friday, March 1, is the “First Friday Play Date” when the museum is also open from 4:15 to 7 p.m. Buy admissions for a time slot online in advance; admission costs $12.50 for adults and children over 12 months, $10.50 for 65+.

The museum will receive visits from the “Tooth Fairy and Furry Friend” (the comfort dog Banks) on Friday, Feb. 23, at 10:30 a.m. and Thursday, Feb. 29, at 10:30 a.m. as part of Dental Health Month.

Friday, March 1, is also Science Friday, with special science-related activities at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

• The Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St. in Manchester;, 669-6144) is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission costs $20 for adults, $15 for ages 65+, $15 for students and $5 for ages 13 to 17 (children under 13 get in for free).

• The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Dr. in Concord;, 271-7827) is open daily through Sunday, March 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission costs $12 for adults, $9 for ages 3 to 12, $11 for 65+, and isfree for ages 2 and under, with planetarium shows an additional $6 per person ages 3 and up. Current planetarium shows include 3-2-1 Liftoff, Totality!, The Great Spirit Bear Chase and the Hunt by the Bird People, Tonight’s Sky and CapCom Go! The Apollo Story. See the website for the show schedule.

SEE Science Center (200 Bedford St. in Manchester;, 669-0400) is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and, for vacation week, Monday, Feb. 26, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $12 for ages 3 and up. Exhibits include the Lego Millyard, “Sun, Earth, Universe,” Physics Fun, Cooking & Chemistry, Dinosaurs, BiologYou and Bubbles, The Ocean and You.

Stay in the loop!

Get FREE weekly briefs on local food, music,

arts, and more across southern New Hampshire!