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11/24/14 7:00am
Parents Alfred and Karma Marshall help Georgette Zenk (center) carve up the 25 pound turkey at Roanoke Elementary. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Parents Alfred and Karma Marshall help Georgette Zenk (center) carve up the 25 pound turkey at Roanoke Elementary. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Students at a pair of Riverhead elementary schools were plenty thankful for what they experienced last week.

11/23/14 12:00pm
11/23/2014 12:00 PM
SCCC, Thankgiving, Culinary Arts School in Riverhead

Culinary students Stacey Green (left) and Chadrick Brittan carving up turkeys at last year’s event. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Institute wants to make it a bit easier for community members to enjoy their Thanksgiving — especially those who don’t foresee cooking as an option.

Forty students and chefs from the college’s Culinary Arts program are offering up their skills next week to provide meals for long-term patients and homebound seniors across the East End.


11/22/14 10:22am
11/22/2014 10:22 AM
Local store owners show items to make a Thanksgiving table stand out. (Credit: Rachel Young photos)

Local store owners show items to make a Thanksgiving table stand out. (Credit: Rachel Young photos)

Between trimming the turkey, whipping the mashed potatoes and baking the pumpkin pie, who has time to think about decorating for Thanksgiving? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be a chore. Local store owners from Calverton to Greenport identified for northforker.com six items they believe can add a touch of style to any holiday table.

See their suggestions on northforker.com

11/16/14 10:00am
11/16/2014 10:00 AM


About six months ago, Phyllis Lombardi called a friend and former Suffolk Times colleague to ask for a ride to Best Buy so she could replace her broken computer.

She was nearing the end of a long battle with cancer, but Phyllis told her friend Meg Marcus that she mostly needed the new computer to continue writing her column. Even as her health deteriorated, she managed to file several pieces in advance. Only two had not yet been published when she died last week.  (more…)

11/28/13 7:52am
11/28/2013 7:52 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Culinary students Kristina Caschetta (left) Anastasia DeRosa (center) and Alexa Cimino with the carved up roasted turkeys that were prepared for the Dominican Sisters Wednesday morning.

Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary School in downtown Riverhead partnered for the fourth year with the Dominican Sisters Family Health Service to cook and prepare about 140 dinners for long-term patients and home-bound seniors of the Dominican Sisters of Hampton Bays.

Local businesses on the North and South Forks teamed up to raise money for the feast.

Chef instructor Vinny Winn worked with about 40 students and high school volunteers in the culinary’s kitchen to prepare the meal. They cooked 15 turkeys weighing 15 pounds each, 100 pounds each of mashed and sweet potatoes, seven gallons of gravy and 20 pounds of stuffing. There were also rolls, cranberry sauce and 24 apple pies and 24 pumpkin pies.

Local elementary schools students made and decorated trays for the meals.

11/28/13 7:00am

LEONARD VAN VLIET COURTESY PHOTO | Leonard Van Vliet and his sister Mary Gibson looking over old family photos during a recent Thanksgiving celebration. Each year Ms. Gibson creates a family tree and updates it with photos so family members can trace their history.

If there’s one family that exemplifies the meaning of tradition, it’s the Dougherty family, a 165-plus bunch that makes it a point to ensure that each Thanksgiving Day celebration is memorable.

Next Thursday, Dougherty family members from near and far will gather at the Moose Lodge in Riverhead to prepare and enjoy Thanksgiving dinner — for about the 50th year in a row.

Five generations have taken part in the custom, initiated by six Dougherty siblings — Claire, Catherine, Margaret, David, John and Madeline — to honor their late grandfather, David, known to them as “Pappy.”

LENNY VAN VLIET COURTESY PHOTO | Each year staples like stuffing and mashed potatoes need to be prepared the same way — cooked according to old family recipes.

“He had tons of coins on a dresser and all around the house. They took all the change and said let’s go to dinner,” said Leonard Van Vliet, Madeline Dougherty’s son.

That first Thanksgiving dinner, held in 1960 at the Crossroads Restaurant in Rocky Point, was attended by about 40 family members “as a celebration of Pappy.”

With the dinner a success, the family wanted to make it an annual event but needed to find a larger, more welcoming location where they could prepare a meal to feed the masses.

A year or so later, Mr. Van Vliet said, his uncle David Dougherty Jr., who was suffering from polio at the time, was honored by Moose International for saving two children who had fallen into Merritts Pond in Riverhead, which had frozen over. He was 12 when it happened.

The awards dinner was held at the Moose Lodge in Riverhead “and that’s how we got to the Moose,” where the tradition has been rooted since 1962, he said.

With more than five decades of practice, the family has gotten preparation for the event down to a science, with each person contributing to the effort.

“Everyone’s jobs are posted and color coordinated on three big poster boards as you enter the lodge,” said Mr. Van Vliet’s daughter, Kayleigh Baig. “No one can say they didn’t know their job.”

Ms. Baig happens to be a chef and is assigned to the kitchen with eight to 10 others — including her dad. Those Thursday mornings, the two can be found opening up the Moose Lodge and donning white chef’s jackets, with their individual sets of chef’s knives in tow.

As family members begin to arrive, the meal starts to take shape, including at least four 25-pound (or larger) birds, 50 pounds of potatoes, 17 pounds of turnips, six heads of cauliflower and numerous pounds of canned beans among a variety of other sides and desserts.

In keeping with tradition, the potatoes must always be kept plain and the stuffing must always be prepared the same way.

“For some reason the stuffing is a big deal,” Mr. Van Vliet said. Fifteen loaves of stuffing bread are broken up and cooked according to his late Aunt Edith’s recipe.

“It is a glutinous mash that everyone wants from their childhood,” he said.

PHOTO COURTESY LENNY VAN VLIET | David ‘Pappy’ Dougherty (from left) with sons David Jr. and John. The annual Thanksgiving dinner is used as a way to honor Pappy.

A few other customs include a fruit salad prepared with cherries and bananas and about 12 pounds of shrimp to start — served annually in a three-tier crystal tower that Ms. Baig said has been in use since the first family Thanksgiving at the lodge.

Numerous eight-foot-long tables are set up in a U-shape and dressed with name cards assigning everyone a seat.

The oldest living child from each of the six original Dougherty siblings sits at what is deemed the “head table,” which looks out over two rows of family members.

Speeches are given by a few select members of the head table, observing family accomplishments and births — as well as a reminder of Pappy, the reason why the family started such a tradition.

Mr. Van Vliet said he, his sister Mary Gibson and cousin David Dougherty III are the force keeping the tradition alive — thanks to all the work put in by family members, who travel from Mississippi and beyond to make each year’s celebration.

The Dougherty family Thanksgiving even has its own Facebook page, he said.

“The locals do a lot, but it takes the whole family working to keep the whole family together,” Mr. Van Vliet said. “No matter how far away we are, we still communicate with each other, even if it’s one cousin to another, who then passes it on to their respective siblings — and thank God for Facebook.”

To give back to the Moose Lodge, the family awards a high school senior whose parent or grandparent is an active member of the Riverhead lodge a $500 scholarship, to be used toward the college or university of their choice.

To win the scholarship, applicants must each write an essay on the appropriate topic “what Thanksgiving means to me.”

The Doughertys have also started contributing to the organization’s building revitalization fund, in part to help ensure that the Moose Lodge can house their family’s tradition for years to come.


11/18/13 11:23am
11/18/2013 11:23 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.

The Tanger Outlets centers in Riverhead and Deer Park on Monday announced a “Moonlight Madness” promotion that will see all its stores open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Night.

The stores will then remain open throughout the night and morning into Black Friday, Nov. 29.

The hours “will offer Tanger shoppers the opportunity to capitalize on huge savings at their favorite brand name and designer outlet stores before the Black Friday rush,” Tanger officials said in a statement.

Is your business making special accommodations for the holiday shopping season? Tell us in the comments.

“With a short holiday season this year, shopping early is more important than ever,” said Steven Tanger, the president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc., of Greensboro, N.C. “Tanger Outlets’ Moonlight Madness Sale offers customers a unique shopping experience where they can shop all of our brand name and designer stores across categories at one fun and clean location.”

Among other marketing promotions, Tanger Outlets is offering 20 percent and 30 percent-off “Bonus Savings Passes” that must be downloaded here or picked up at either of the two Tanger Outlets centers by Wednesday, Nov. 27, company officials said.

11/22/12 8:01am
11/22/2012 8:01 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The owner of Pieceful Quilting, Angie Veeck, gets help from neighbor Stella Johnson while cleaning up after Sandy in downtown Riverhead. Damages forced the quilting store to move to Calverton.

Is there much difference between tradition and myth?

To hear some skeptics tell it, in the case of the Thanksgiving holiday the answer is a resounding no.

The notion that Thanksgiving is rooted in the Native Americans’ sharing of their bountiful harvest with early European settlers falls into the myth category — or so they say. One account has it that Abraham Lincoln, looking for a way to boost morale among Union troops in the depths of the Civil War, called for setting aside a day of national thanksgiving.

With the landing at Plymouth Rock and the War Between the States both far in our past, neither the reason nor the historical truth matters at all. Putting aside the overindulgence in eating and holiday shopping that have become the holiday’s unfortunate hallmarks, the goodness and decency we attribute to Thanksgiving are still found at its core.

Schoolchildren may still don construction paper pilgrim hats and feathered headdresses but, as both affluent and needy sit down to eat that day, it’s all about family and friends and giving thanks for blessings large and small.

Think reasons to give thanks are scarce? Think again.

For two years in a row, the East End has been slammed by storms of tropical origin. Irene was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm when she visited in August 2011. Sandy was described as post-tropical when she made her presence known last month. Meteorological categories aside, both storms caused widespread damage and destruction — especially Sandy.

Why include these events in a discussion of giving thanks? Because in both cases, the impact here could have been much, much worse.

Although we live on a narrow peninsula perilously projecting out into the sea, the damage here, although in many cases quite severe, hardly warrants mention compared to what occurred in places like Long Beach and coastal communities in Queens and New Jersey.

Yes, shoreline homes and other structures took a pounding, gasoline was temporarily scarce and the Long Island Power Authority’s unforgivably incompetent response almost makes us long for the days when LILCO kept the lights on. But there was no loss of life here. Homes can be rebuilt and bulkheading replaced. Police, volunteer firefighters and other emergency personnel remained on the job until the crisis passed.

After the winds died down and the tide receded, comments commonly given voice included “We dodged a bullet,” “We lucked out” and “It could have been worse.”

All are true. And what better reason to give thanks?