A celebration of continued service and dedication to the people of Scotch Plains

President Dan Sullivan and Chief Carolyn Sorge

Chief Carolyn Sorge presenting Daniel Sullivan with his award for 50 years of service.

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad held their 83rd Annual Installation of Officers dinner on January 11th, 2020 at Snuffy’s Pantagis Renaissance. Over 120 people were in attendance, which included not only squad members, but also members of the police and fire departments, the town council and mayor, local hospital personnel, and other EMS organizations who have helped and supported this vital volunteer organization throughout the years.

During the dinner, late squad members were honored and remembered, and current squad members were recognized for their service. Length of service awards went out to various long time members such as Joanne Gurske and Jean Lozowski for 30 years, Edward Fiedler for 40 years, Robert Speth for 45 years and Daniel Sullivan for 50 years.

The officers for 2020 were also sworn in and included the following:

President: Daniel Sullivan

1st Vice President: Chang Yaramouthu

2nd Vice President: Deborah Speth

Secretary: Joanne Gurske

Treasurer: Harold Hill

Chaplain: Robert Gurske

Chief: Carolyn Sorge

Deputy Chief: Robert Gurske

Deputy Chief: Ronald Mahaffey

Delegates: Daniel Sullivan, Patricia Buckridee, Rachael Siegel

Alternate Delegates: Rachel Voeltzel, Matthew Marcus, Ryan Lemence

Trustees: Robert Speth, Robert Foerster, Edward Fiedler

The Scotch Plains Rescue Squad is proud to have so many dedicated members who continue to   be there for their fellow neighbors in times of need. While many other volunteer agencies have had to close their doors in recent years, the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad stands strong and determined to carry on its mission.

Submitted by Susan Baldani, a life member of the Scotch  Plains Rescue Squad.

Showcase Salutes Szechuan Delight

Szechuan food

By Susan Baldani

Szechuan Delight, located in New Providence, has been in business for 28 years. It’s known for authentic Chinese food, specializing in Cantonese and Shanghainese food.

According to the owner, it is the only Chinese restaurant in the area that serves purely Chinese food; there are no other Asian dishes, such as Thai or Japanese, on the menu.

Much of the staff, including the main chefs, have been with Szechuan Delight from the very beginning, and have been using the same authentic recipes for all those years. A few of the most popular items are the steamed whole fish and soft shell crabs, and of course, traditional favorites like pork fried rice, lo mein, chow mein and chow fun can also be found.

Their specialties include many well-known dishes such as General Tso’s Chicken, Hunan Triple Crown and Mongolian Beef. There are also plenty of seafood dishes such as Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, Scallops with Mixed Vegetables, and Fillet of Sole with Ginger and Scallions. For those looking for vegetable-based choices, there are Moo Shu Vegetables with Pancakes, Hot Spiced Bean Curd, and Shanghai Bok Choy with Black Mushrooms.

The most unique offerings of Szechuan Delight are the casserole dishes, like Seafood and Tofu, Braised Lamb with Bean Curd Skin and Roast Pork, Chicken, and Shrimp with Tofu. Besides being an authentic Chinese restaurant, offering these dishes is something the owner believes makes them stand out from other similar dining establishments in the area.

The restaurant itself is casual, with a roomy and open dining room with seating for 70 customers. Diners are free to bring their own wine and other alcoholic beverages to accompany their meals. There is also a private party room available, or they can put together party platters to be enjoyed elsewhere.

In addition to dine-in, Szechuan Delight does a brisk take-out business and offers free delivery within a five mile radius for any order over $15.00. Easy and convenient online ordering is also available. Besides dinner, they offer a full range of luncheon specials such as Kung Po Shrimp and Chicken, Singapore Mei Fun, Barbecue Spare Ribs and Salt and Pepper Pork Chops.

The restaurant is conveniently located right next to the New Providence Post Office on the main thoroughfare of Central Avenue. It’s also close to many businesses and the Murray Hill train station.

Szechuan Delight is open seven days a week; from Mondays through Thursdays from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, on Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 to 10:30 and on Sundays from 12:30 pm to 9:30 pm. For more information, please call 908-464-0100, go to www. Szechuan DelightNJ.com, or stop in at 598 Central Avenue in New Providence, NJ 07940.

Written for The Showcase Magazine, in Warren, NJ.

A Sweet Start to the New Year

cake-307466_640 (1)

By Susan Baldani

I just found out that January 27 is Chocolate Cake Appreciation Day. Of course, card companies are always coming up with special days so they can sell more cards. However, any day that encourages me to eat chocolate is my kind of day. And it doesn’t have to be in cake form; almost any variety will do.

I find it interesting that this holiday comes at the end of January instead of at the beginning. I guess they figure by then all those New Year’s Eve resolutions to lose weight have already fallen by the wayside.

But seriously (and I’m always serious when it comes to chocolate), this is one food I couldn’t live without. There’s just something about chocolate that makes me happy. And it’s not just the sugar. There’s something about the taste of chocolate that is comforting too.

When I was a little kid, any kind of chocolate would do. But, now that I’m older and have a somewhat more discerning palate, specialty chocolates are my favorites, especially anything that has been made in Switzerland. My ancestors really knew what they were doing (my maiden name is Burkhardt). The gourmet brands of chocolates are not always easy to find, especially in big brand stores. You sometimes have to hunt them down. Many small gift and boutique stores usually have them though if you take the time to look around.

In the last few years, I’ve heard reports that chocolate can even be good for you, but that usually only goes for dark. I am a milk chocolate aficionado and will not eat any other kind (and don’t even mention white chocolate. I mean, what is that anyway?).

As much as I love chocolate, I know that sweets should be consumed in moderation, and I try to follow that guideline; I really do. So, if I’m going to treat myself, I’m going for the good stuff.

This is not to say I don’t like a good ole Hershey Bar once in a while or unwrapping some of those creamy Dove candies; they have their place. I’m not a total chocolate snob. But, oh, those packages that say “milk chocolate flavored.” Well, those should be outlawed. Whenever I see a chocolate bunny or other item labeled with those awful words, I want scoop them all off the shelf lest some little kid be lured into eating one. That might turn him off of chocolate forever.

So, on Chocolate Cake Appreciation Day, I also want the best. I have nothing against boxed cake mixes and tubs of ready-made icing. They come in handy for last-minute desserts, or for a child’s birthday party, and most are actually pretty good. But, on Chocolate Cake Appreciation Day, why not make the real thing? The only danger is that you may never want to go back to the store-bought variety again.

Written for the Country Register, which is distributed all over the U.S. and Canada.




2/3 cup butter, softened

1-2/3 cups sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup baking cocoa

1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/3 cups whole milk



In a bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and add milk a little at a time, beating until smooth after each addition. Pour batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9-inch pan.

Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. When cake is cool, frost with chocolate cream cheese frosting.



3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup baking cocoa

Dash salt

3 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract




Beat cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, salt, milk and vanilla and mix well. Spread over cooled cake. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Fuel your child’s mind and body


Nutritious foods and beverages set the stage for optimal learning

By Susan Baldani

Many variables contribute to a child’s academic success. Focus is often on student-teacher ratio, parental involvement, and access to support services for kids who are struggling. Of course, all these factors are very critical, but one that is often forgotten is the importance of good nutrition when it comes to learning.

Research has proven that children who eat healthy breakfasts and well-balanced lunches are often more alert, more productive and less tired and jittery during the school day. Foods and beverages that children often prefer for breakfast, such as high-sugar cereals and juice, can initially lead to a burst of energy that quickly dissipates, leaving them hungry and irritable. Lunch foods such as chicken fingers and cheeseburgers are also detrimental. According to the Society for Neuroscience, recent studies revealed that diets with high levels of saturated fats actually impair learning and memory.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that “eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.” They also found that “empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2–18 years. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.”

Schools are trying to do their part to give their students a nutritional advantage. An initiative called “The Healthy Schools Program” has been incorporated into schools across the U.S., replacing many of the processed lunch foods with fruits, salads, and lean proteins. Low fat milk and water are also being offered.

So, what can parents do at home?  Mornings are often hectic with parents trying to get to work and kids to school and children often skip breakfast for many reasons. Some have early morning extracurricular activities or have to make an early bus. Others may be trying to finish homework or a project from the night before.

Because parents and caregivers cannot always control what their children choose for lunch, breakfast is even more important. So, why not set the alarm clock for 15 or 20 minutes earlier? This way, both parents and kids have more time in the morning and can choose meals that are fast and nutritious, like the combinations below:

  • Low-sugar, whole-grain cereal, low fat milk, and sliced banana.
  • Oatmeal with fruit and low fat milk. Choose plain quick oats and add in a small amount of honey and fruit, and pop into the microwave. Most are ready in minutes.
  • Whole wheat toast with peanut butter.
  • Yogurt (buy it plain, since many yogurts have a surprisingly high amount of sugar), and mix in honey, nuts and fruit.

These are all quick and easy and if necessary, can be eaten in the car or on the bus.

If your child brings lunch, there are many options for a healthy meal. Containers with compartments or small individual containers make it easy to keep a variety of foods separate. Here are some healthy lunchtime ideas:

  • Turkey in a whole wheat wrap stuffed with lettuce and tomato and smeared with a bit of honey mustard.
  • Shredded white meat chicken with chopped up vegetables, such as celery and baby carrots.
  • Tuna pouches packed in water, or tuna mixed with low fat mayonnaise and vegetables.
  • Salad greens with sliced hard boiled eggs, low fat cheese, and low fat dressing.

Add in some tasty but nutritious snacks such as nuts, nectarines, grapes and dried fruit (with no sugar added).

Besides providing the right foods for optimal learning, it’s also important for children to consume enough liquids. The CDC found that “adequate hydration may also improve cognitive function in children and adolescents, which is important for learning.

 Because of the high sugar content, juice should be limited, or cut with water. Look for alternatives for your child. Some children may find plain water distasteful, but drop some blueberries or strawberries into the cup, and they may find it more appealing. Give them a straw, and then let them poke holes and mash the fruit to release its natural flavors.

Once children get into the habit of taking the time to eat a healthy meal, it will become another part of their routine. Parents can set a good example by eating breakfast with their children and packing some of the same meals for their lunches. This way, healthy choices will become a family affair.

Written for Roanoke Valley Family magazine in Virginia.

Making a resolution that benefits yourself and others

By Susan Baldani

In this new year, instead of just making a resolution to lose weight or stop smoking, why not also make a resolution to help others? After all, studies have shown that people who volunteer are happier, less stressed and enjoy a higher level of self-esteem.

Once you decide to volunteer, find a cause that is meaningful to you, and then sign up to make a difference. Unlike many other resolutions that are often broken within a month or two, you’ll find it’s much harder to break a promise to others, especially when they’re relying on you for their basic needs.

For adults, volunteering is a chance to meet other like-minded people and do something much different than their chosen career. It’s also an opportunity to learn a new skill, enrich your mind, and help your community.

Volunteering is also a wonderful way for teens to try out different professions to help them decide what they may want to do in the future. For example, if they’re interested in medicine, they can join a local ambulance corps like the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad, or volunteer at a hospital. Or, if they think they may want to work in construction, they can help build homes with Habitat for Humanity.

The rewards of volunteering are not just experienced by the recipients, but by the givers as well. So, whatever your interests or talents, there is a cause looking for help. Some people find it easier to give money, which by all means is sorely needed and important. But it’s getting out there and joining with other people who have the same goals in mind that makes volunteering so meaningful.

For more information on volunteering for the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad or to obtain an application, please go to our website at http://www.scotchplainsrescuesquad.com, email us at scotchplainsrescuesquad@gmail.com, or call 908-322-2103.