Vacation!

Sunset over Lake Champlain

 

A long awaited, do what we want vacation. Begins NOW.

We are headed to Vermont but will be stopping on Montreal first. I’ve driven through Montreal but never stayed there. I think we will stay one or two nights then head towards Waitsfield, VT (site of our honeymoon). From there?  There has been talk of going to Portland or even up to Bar Harbor. 

I’d love to spend a couple of days going along the coast of Maine but we have to be back in Michigan on 10/2 so that will probably be another trip.  I have found it nearly impossible to describe the beauty, violence and 0ld-world feel of the Atlantic coastline as you approach the Downeast tip of Maine. Forget New Zealand, those hobbits really lived in the Bay of Fundy. I definitely want to take Chris there sometime soon.

Our plans include: eating cheese, wine, pictures of fall color and probably a yarn shop stop or two. We hope to dine at the Green Cup Cafe again although the chances of lobster risotto on the menu again are probably slim. There should also be some jacuzzi time, a few drinks on the docks in Burlington overlooking Lake Champlain (see above) and maybe even a cooking class- about Vermont cheese!

Since we are leaving in the evening, our intention is to get to Toronto tonight and get up early enough Saturday to be in Montreal for a late lunch. Toronto is a great city in itself but being “so close” will have to wait for another trip.  Now that Chris has his enhanced ID, it won’t be such a big deal to skip over to Windsor periodically either.

I am so looking forward to this time for some much-needed relaxing. When we get back, there is a visit from family, the last two weeks of school (really done, not a break but a graduation!!), more family including a planned Halloween-type party to keep us busy until the snow flies. I’ll probably be ready for another vacation about then!

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Food Filled Labor Day

So, Saturday is the day. By this time on September 12, Chris and I will be arriving in our hotel room, hopefully soon to use the whirlpool part of the whirlpool suite although it will probably take me an hour to pull all the bobby pins from my hair (based on the trial run).

With a short work week and just 2 days left at home before we leave the cats in charge for 12 days, we decided to use up the fridge contents this past weekend, as much as possible (the dog is going to the kennel so the cats are bound to feel its their own honeymoon while we are gone).

This morning, I made the rest of the bacon I’d opened for the potatoes au gratin mentioned previously. I baked it, in two batches, in the oven at 400 degrees. This yielded some nice, flat, medium crispy bacon. it also yielded another 1 inch of bacon fat in our jar of fat. We had some (bacon, not fat) for brunch with omelets by Chris then I bagged the rest for sandwiches this week. I see a BLT in my near future.

After a brief break to do some laundry and talk to my maid of honor, I started in on the Fresh Peach and Candied Ginger Shortcakes recipe from Williams-Sonoma. Chris picked up the little booklet with this recipe during our crepes demo last weekend. I had been thinking about it all week then decided that with just a few fresh peaches, I could easily make this and use up the cream in our fridge. I did not make the caramel sauce listed at Williams-Sonoma because  I didn’t have corn syrup. Instead, I used this one at Simply Recipes. As indicated, it was really easy and it is really important to watch the sugar. I burned, only very slightly, the first batch. A comparison of the two jars shows the one is only marginally darker but it was definitely burnt.

I also got a great little, one-armed, workout in by whipping up the last of the cream to accompany our dessert. The final verdict is- the peaches were not that great, sadly, But, we both loved the shortcake/biscuits. I had plenty of dough left to make a number of small bite-sized ones which are quite lovely dipped in caramel sauce alone. I promised a few to the freezer for Chris but the caramel sauce and some cookies are going to the hotel with me, to be enjoyed by various wedding partiers. Okay, me but maybe some others too.

In between making the shortcakes and the 2nd batch of caramel, Chris made chocolate chip cookies for his bachelor party 2-day fest (starts Thursday noon, ends Friday evening). We made about 40 cookies, will be interesting to see how many are left by Thursday. Chris has decided to set a career goal of mastering the chocolate chip cookie and selling them for millions. I have resigned myself to eating a lot of chocolate chip cookies. So sad.

For dinner, we had mango jerk marinated chicken breasts from Whole Foods. Good idea, mediocre execution. The meat counter worker gave us two completely different sized chicken breasts so the one was cooking much faster than the other. And I thought the jerk needed more jerk (i.e. heat). To accompany, left overs from the fridge- squash risotto.

On Sunday, a returning to law school friend’s parents took us out for brunch at Clara’s where I ate a good helping of bacon too- the really crispy kind. I think after Wednesday, I will have to go on a bacon diet like my fellow mid-Michiganian blogger after his visit to Tony’s for the mega-BLT. That is okay since we’ll be in Vermont and I can just eat a lot of cheese, glorious cheese instead- and some lobster in Boston.

Holiday Updates

I’m going on vacation.  Very soon.  Flight is set to leave at 5:30 tomorrow morning.  Fingers crossed that mother nature cooperates!

If she cooperates, we’ll be in the Florida Keys by noon tomorrow.  And you’ll get some lovely reviews of cool restaurants down there (and also in Tampa, where we’ll head for Christmas itself).  Plus Chris’s mom will be feeding us well, I’m sure.

If mother nature is not cooperative, we could spend a whole day in the airport tomorrow waiting for a delayed flight.  And then I might finally start getting through all my draft posts here.

Because the other option is homework for hours straight.  And I can only do so much of that at a time even if my essay topic is medical marijuana!

Best purchase, ever

This is only minimally related to food but I’m so excited about this thing, I had to tell you all about it.

Saturday, I went on the regular trek to the pet store for cat litter. Dealing with two cats and one very sensitive nose in this house is a bit of a headache for me.

Behold, the Electronic CatMouse Odor Eliminator

Saturday I’m in Petsmart and happened to go down the litter box accessories aisle on my way to the side wall with the litter smorgasbord.  They sell an (expensive) air filter that claims to eliminate odors and remove dander from the air. I’ve looked at this before but never been convinced.  We researched air filters on-line and to get one that really does the job costs hundreds of dollars.  This one is much cheaper than that but then, doesn’t really do the job and it requires continual replacement of the filter(s).  Down a little farther, hanging from one of those end caps was this thing that looked like an oversized computer mouse.  I wouldn’t have even noticed it except that it was on special for Petsmart Perks members. And it claimed to eliminate odors without chemicals. And it was a reasonable $34. No batteries, no filters to change. Hmmm…….

In our current apartment, we set up cat-central in our second bathroom. This was to be temporary until we set up the office in the other bedroom.  Unfortunately, there is only one outlet in the bathroom and it wasn’t in a good spot to plug in my electronic litter box and still be able to use the sink.

As it turns out, it didn’t matter because the cats quickly took over the whole bathroom. No one ever went in there including us.  Guests were allowed to tramp through our bedroom to use the master bath. While not necessarily a problem, that did mean we had to keep the bedroom tidied up more.

Finally, this past week I convinced Chris that the litter box needed to go in the office.  I believe that, when fully operational and with the lid on this cat house my dad built, the smell will be minimal.  He wasn’t quite there yet but admitted that if we wanted people to be able to use this bathroom, we needed to get the cats out.

Soooo, along comes the Catmouse. And its amazing and it works. With the catbox still in the bathroom, you can’t smell a thing. Even standing in the bathroom, you can’t smell it.

Imagine the possibilities with other stinky smells- where all the wet winter clothes get piled up, in the kitchen especially after cooking fish, in the fridge (oh wait, they actually sell something especially for that), my brother’s bedroom during adolescence.

Road Trip -Lexington, KY

This past weekend, Chris and I were in Lexington, Kentucky for a friend’s wedding.  We drove down on Thursday night, late and other than the thrill of buying gas for less than $2.00 a gallon, had an uneventful 7 hour drive.  It was dark, there was nothing to see. Oh, except this church about half-way between Dayton and Cincinnati.  It was late. It was dark. It was round about 1:30 in the morning and we are zipping along at 70mph (stupid speed limit is 65 in Ohio and there were cops everywhere).

And suddenly, rising up from the waters, quite literally:

The King of Kings Statue is 62 feet high and weighs about 16,000 pounds.  Its in front of the Solid Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio.  Despite the church name, the statue is made of styrofoam and wood over a steel structure then topped with a resin coating.

I didn’t take this picture, I found it at the Solid Rock Church website. For more photos via Google, click here.

We finally got to the hotel about 3 AM.  The hotel was labeled with smoke-free signs all over the place but as soon as we walked in to our room, we knew this had to be a recent development.  The smell of smoke was still in the furniture and carpet.  Back in 2003, Lexington passed a smoke-free law prohibiting smoking indoors at most businesses and in the common areas of hotels/motels. I don’t know if this hotel was going all-in due to corporate policy or perhaps the government made some changes to the law. Either way, I was both chagrined to realize that KENTUCKY, the center of tobacco country has a smoke-free law while MIchigan does not and less than thrilled about the smell in our room. But we were too exhausted to do anything about it that night.

We slept in Friday morning despite some kind of construction project going on above us (or mayybe next to us).  We ended up going out for lunch and found an awesome bookstore which I will talk about shortly.  We then picked up the wedding present, sort of. It wasn’t in stock at that location so we got a little card instead.  Some friends of ours got in to town (from Memphis) about 5:30 and we visited them in their room down the hall.  And discovered what all the noise was earlier in the morning.  Seems the hotel was steam-cleaning all the carpets, room by room.  Our friends’ room had been done that morning and there was a note on the door about the wet carpet.  Not mentioned: the damp couch and chairs in the room.  You really couldn’t sit on anything except the bed and your socks got soggy if you walked around without shoes.  They complained and were told there were no other rooms as the hotel was booked (many of the guest were our fellow wedding attendees).

They decided to take a nap and we went back to our thankfully dry room while I did some homework and Chris watched TV (and vice versa).  We watched ….Later, we met up with our friends and went to a place called Harry’s to await the arrival of the wedding rehearsal crew.  We had some sushi at Harry’s, which I will also talk about later.  (This post isn’t about the food we ate, if you hadn’t figured that out yet.)  We socialized and had a few drinks but the wedding was at 1pm the next day so no late night.  The next morning, Chris was checking out the contintental breakfast in the hotel while I was getting dressed.  We needed to run over to Target for a card to put the “look what we bought but they didn’t have” card in.  And a black belt, not brown. This was to be a quick trip as we needed to get back and get all gussied up for the ceremony.    -Knock on the door- its the carpet cleaner guy. He wants to come in an clean our carpets, while we are there! I said no.  He said they are doing all the rooms. I said we are not having the carpet cleaned while we are guests. I do not want wet carpet and chairs; we will be in and out today between wedding related events. This is not acceptable. It took a few minutes but in the end the guy was okay with that but I was just stunned that management would even allow this!  So, before we went to Target, I tried to with the desk clerk. He was a jerk and actually walked away from me in the middle of a sentence.  And claimed he didn’t know anything about it! Really, you are in charge today and you don’t anything about 2 guys in a truck with 100 feet of hose snaking through the building, entering people’s rooms?  I was and am still a little pissed about it. I’m writing a letter to the hotel management (big corporation). I’ve stayed with this company before and never had such a problem.  The desk clerk’s rudeness was only magnified by the fact that everyone else was so friendly. I think I heard “come back and visit us again soon” 20 times over the weekend. 

Later on, when we were leaving the hotel for the actual wedding ceremony, there was a guy painting the front door trim.  Why this place picks a high-traffic time to perform such maintenance is truly beyond my comprehension.

My rant is over, I’ll get down to the business of writing about the food now….