Julie Starr

Super Bowl Sunday Recipes for Patriots Fans - and Other People

Super Bowl Sunday is nearly upon us, and, once again, The New England Patriots are in the game! We moved to Northampton from New York just over 10 years ago. To the extent that I care about football, I'm still loyal to the Giants, but I get that my fellow Western MA compatriots are super excited about the upcoming event.

I was happy to find this post from food52.com - with innovative recipes for cheese dips to hold my interest during the game, since I won't likely be paying attention otherwise. If you are someone who enjoys cooking and entertaining, as well as football - perhaps you'll find a new recipe below to help spice up your Super Bowl Sunday. Enjoy!

 

If What's on TV Bores You, At Least You'll Have These Cheese Dips

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Yes, you could serve squeaky, toothpick-able cheese cubes at your football or Oscars party. And no one would object.But you could also take that same cheese and make a more metamorphic change: Add spices, herbs, and vegetables, then blend or melt or beer-spike into a dip that's creamy, scoopable, and at home on a variety of "dippers," from tortilla chips to carrot sticks. Suddenly, you've taken that singular, lonely cheese and transformed it into an eligible snack from which hundreds of thousands (or at least a few) spin-off combinations are possible:

 
  • Saltine plus pimento cheese? Yes please.
  • Carrot stick heavy with pimento cheese? Don't mind if I do.
  • Tortilla chip with pimento cheese? Crazier things have been done before.
  • For a full run-down of the best dippers to pair with which cheese dips (like, what one does a strawberry go with?!), see our not very comprehensive nor scientific guide below.
 

Choose your cheese, cheesy, or cheesiest dip below, then prepare or purchase any accompaniments as you see fit:

What's your favorite way to consume cheese in a party setting? "In large quantities" is a totally acceptable answer. Drop others in the comments below!

Rising Costs of Natural Gas and Electricity in Western Massachusetts

tech <div> <p>I am always cognizant of whether or not to bring extra layers when visiting certain friends houses in the wintertime. I often I travel with my fuzzy slippers, an extra fleece and a hat (for indoors)! Having lived in the <a href="http://mapleandmainrealty.com/other-ma-real-estate/pioneer-valley-real-estate/">Pioneer Valley</a> for 8+ years, I now know what to expect from specific friends with regard to level of house warmth. Some people run hot and like to keep their houses cool. Many (most? all?) people are concerned about the cost of heating their homes, and, therefore, keep the thermostat to 66 degrees or lower. Some people have pellet or wood stoves which creates a warm and toasty environment within their homes. Many people in the <a href="http://mapleandmainrealty.com/northampton-area/northampton-area-real-estate/">Northampton, MA</a> area live in older homes that are underinsulated and/or have older windows - so a draft exists regardless of where the thermostat is set. We recently moved to a new house that is <a href="http://dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=MA99F&re=0&ee=0">Tier Three level of energy efficiency</a> - for some reason, 68 degrees on the thermostat within our highly insulated home feels more like 75 degrees! But, I digress. I came upon this interesting article on the BusinessWest blog about the rising costs of energy and wanted to share it.</p> <p>EDC Sounds Alarm on Rising Costs of Natural Gas, Electricity</p> <p><em>CHICOPEE</em> -- The Economic Development Council of Western Mass. voiced its concerns Tuesday regarding the rising costs of natural gas and electricity in the region.</p> <p>"More expensive energy affects all of us negatively. All of us need to be concerned. Individuals face a reduction of disposable income and increased hardship," the agency said in a prepared statement. "Businesses face reduced competiveness that threatens job growth and retention. Municipalities face increased energy costs while facing decreasing revenues. Hospitals and higher-education institutions must divert more resources to energy purchases, thus diverting resources from their core missions. Shrinking business and consumer spending reduces investments in those things that define quality of life in Western Massachusetts."</p> <p>Through a series of meetings and discussions with entities familiar with the issues, the EDC infrastructure committee released the following findings:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Recent and future closings of oil- and coal-fired plants have boosted, and will continue to increase, Massachusetts' dependency on natural gas for electric power generation. Nearly 50% of all electricity in Massachusetts is generated by natural gas, and that proportion is rising. These conditions, when combined with inadequate supplies of natural gas, are resulting in dramatically increased power costs during the winter.</p> </li> <li> <p>Gas companies serving this region are reaching the limits of their capacity to serve new customers. Berkshire Gas will stop adding customers in Greenfield at the end of 2014, and in Amherst in 2016. Columbia Gas is reaching the end of its capacity to serve Northampton and Easthampton. It could serve 10,000 more customers in the region if it had additional capacity. The inability to serve new customers will negatively affect economic growth in the region.</p> </li> <li> <p>Kinder Morgan is proposing a pipeline-extension project through Northern Mass. that will increase natural-gas supply to Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampshire counties as well as Eastern Mass.</p> </li> <li> <p>NU/Spectra proposes an expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline that would increase natural-gas supplies available to the Springfield area and Eastern Mass.</p> </li> <li> <p>Several New England states have been working to bring electricity generated by Hydro Quebec to the region.</p> </li> </ul> <p>EDC Infrastructure Committee Chair Paul Nicolai summarized the committee's work, suggesting that "supplying cost-effective, responsibly clean energy for our people and businesses is a complicated problem requiring balanced approaches and moderate thinking. EDC has struck that balance and encourages policymakers to do so as well."</p> <p>At a recent meeting, the EDC board of directors approved a resolution supporting the following actions, which, if implemented, will help to provide an adequate, stable supply of energy at competitive prices:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Increase natural-gas supply by permitting both natural-gas pipeline-expansion projects proposed for the region and state;</p> </li> <li> <p>Increase the sources of power generation by enabling the purchase of hydro-generated electricity from the north;</p> </li> <li> <p>Continue support of conservation and renewable-energy technologies; and</p> </li> <li> <p>Encourage a regulatory environment that promotes market stability and competitive outcomes.</p> </li> </ul> </div> <p> </p>

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