I’m a freelance writer based in Madison, Connecticut. I write stories about people, and how food, recipes, farms, and growers create community, connection, and shared history.

Exploring the many colors of Connecticut’s Last Green Valley

By Jocelyn Ruggiero, Globe correspondent, October 14, 2020 There are few activities as New Englandy as a meandering autumn drive through a magnificent canopy of yellow, crimson, and orange, and there are few areas better suited to this as the stretch of countryside that runs from Northeastern Connecticut to South Central Massachusetts. Designated by Congress in 2014 as “The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor,” the 1,100-square-mile swath is so named because, in a nighttime aerial or satellite view, it is singularly dark, bookended by the brightly-lit sprawl between New York and Boston. More than 84 percent of its 707,000 acres are forest and farmland. Replete with quaint 18th- and 19th-century town greens, homesteads, churches, and mills, in Connecticut, it’s home to 171 properties and districts listed in The National Register of Historic Places. Connecticut state historian Walter Woodward calls the region a “still-beautiful, still-rural, history-proud, and heritage-rich old New-England getaway.” Read Full Article

On the Coast of Maine, Women Chefs Thrive

By Jocelyn Ruggiero, Globe correspondent, August 1, 2016 KENNEBUNK, Maine — Chef Rebecca Charles walks me through the first floor of her new restaurant here, in the throes of renovation. Splotches of spackle adorn the walls, and the air is filled with the aroma of freshly cut birch from a just-delivered bar. Piles of lumber and gallons of paint are stacked in the corners, and a new fireplace facade leans up against the old. She leads me up a flight of stairs to what will be the main dining room, Pearl Kennebunk Beach, scheduled to debut in the spring of 2017. Despite the heavy coats of black paint on the walls and the thick layer of dust that covers the wide-plank pine floors, it’s easy to see the future space through her eyes, which shine as she describes her plans. The massive wood-burning fireplace, she tells me, is the “single most important reason I bought the place.” The more-casual part of the restaurant, the downstairs Spat Oyster Cellar, inspired by the oyster cellars of New York at the turn of the last century, is set to open next week. Read Full Article

Blue crab sauce might as well run in my veins

The foods I most remember — the ones that grip me tightly somewhere between my heart and stomach — are the ones I enjoyed in my great-aunt’s 19th-century duplex in New Haven, Conn. She shared the house with my grandfather Lou, and that was where our family gathered to celebrate special occasions and holidays, and to savor the meals I would forever associate with feelings of comfort, warmth and, later, longing. It was in her tiny kitchen with its yellow linoleum floor and temperamental oven that I ate my first solid food: a meatball. My favorite food, though, was her blue crab sauce, a simple yet extraordinary dish that I make year-round, to this day. Read Full Article

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