Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cocktails, Soup and Sandwich c/o Lemon Hill

While I was on my lake trip my cat was predominantly fed and taken care of by my roommate, but I had also reached out to CPM about possibly covering a day or two when the roommate would be elsewhere. She and her hubby also had plans to go out of town and had asked me if I would watch over Brutus the dog during their absence. So she had a set of my keys and I needed hers and we hadn't seen each other in a while. It was decided we could do a key exchange and catch up at Lemon Hill, and that is what we did. LW also joined us. I got there first and ordered the happy hour beverage of the evening: a traditional dacquiri that I enjoyed.
I was also attracted to their chilled tomato sou (not gazpacho) with bacon croutons. Let me tell you a thing or two about this soup. Thing 1: it was delicious and so freshy fresh in its tomato-ness, but somehow clearly not a gazpacho. Thing 2: bacon croutons are the new everything-that-is-right-with-the-world.
I then deliberated between two different cocktails for a second drink and ultimately asked the bartender to choose between two options. Oh man and I can't remember either of their names and the restaurant's website cocktail list doesn't seem to reflect their most recent summer menu changes. I'll tell you what, it was tasty? I'm useless.
I was also very attracted to the roasted chicken sandwich with bacon, fried green tomatoes, and smoked tomato creme fraiche.The fries weren't all that interesting but the sandwich itself with its thick but toasty bread hit just the right spot.
It was a lovely evening with good company in an establishment that never fails to please.

Cayuga Lake and Surrounding Environs

The next morning I happily awoke to the sound of the lake's waters gently slapping up against the shores.There were many things that the Lake Champlain and Cayuga Lake experiences shared, which included families with long-held ties and traditions to each respective place; gossip about the other families who also owned houses around them for generations (but weren't actually family); a general population of folks who are not afraid of getting wet, diving or otherwise involving themselves in a body of water that certainly is host to myriad fish (and occasionally snakes); herons; ducks; the sound of boats coming to life and swooshing away, etc. But the S.'s lake house was perhaps slightly closer to the water so the sound of it in the morning was more striking than at Champlain. I also think I wouldn't be wrong to say that Cayuga Lake isn't as wide, nor long, as Champlain, which somehow made the view from shore slightly different. In any case, it was a beautiful morning.
There were clouds, but I don't think they wanted to really hurt us.
Birds flew.
Flowers unfurled.
Breakfast was prepared most masterfully by A.S.'s father and most gratefully consumed by all in attendance.
I believe I was the first into the water on this particular day. I woke up so much earlier than everyone else that I had already enjoyed my breakfast and gotten into my suit while others were still digging in. I BC was kind enough to take a break from the book she was reading to provide some proof that I did indeed swim during this week of lake life.
No hands or feet! Or...I mean I was kind of floating without treading water? Is the point? I love floating.
A.S. likes jumping.
As do others. I never was much into jumping, but I do like a shallow dive from time to time.
I missed getting an action shot of A. going into the water, but this reaction shot is pretty good I thought.
I think she called this the hammer? Something different than the traditional cannon ball for sure.
Before some of the ladies went with a round of planking on the raft, we played a few dozen rounds of four square on the raft, which is not without it's challenges, let me just tell you.
Tubing in progress by A.S.'s neighbors. They swung by and asked if she (and I imagine by extension us) would like to tube, but I guess historically the guy is quite the aggressive boat driver and really and truly goes out of his way to try to get folks to fall off. A.S. declined and so did the rest of us.

Then there was an excursion to a winery. It was good and I'll have to remember the name of the place so I can tell you to consider buying their dry riesling.Anyela's!
It was on a different lake about an hour north and west near a town that has a name that is spelled entirely different than how it is pronounced.
A.S. and her parents stayed behind and were going to have dinner while we were gone, so we ended up at Hill Top Diner, which also has a bowling alley attached to it because, of course it does. B.C. and J. went hog wild with their combined and shared order of: a bowl of macaroni and cheese, a bowl of potato salad, a bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy and the fried appetizer combo. It was frankly miraculous how much they ordered and how good a job they generally did on finishing it all.
I was drawn to the roasted turkey sandwich, which I guess usually comes pre-drenched in gravy. I opted for gravy on the side along with mashed potatoes. I then pretty much ignored the bread and ate the turkey after dipping it in the gravy/potatoes.
Seriously, diner gravy and potatoes, which I know are totally not fancy and basically just sodium, are still one of my all time comfort foods. A million years ago in Wheaton Plaza, my mother and I would go to Hot Shoppes (anyone? anyone?) (also the Hot Shoppes in Wheaton Plaza was not a drive in as the link I've included might make you imagine) and they also had some pretty magic potatoes and gravy to consider in their buffet line.And their roast beef sliced right in front of you? Memories. Nothing like going to a 1960s-style buffet in a mall with your mother and about nine million senior citizens. Good times, they were.
With more of their meal displayed.
And that was the night. The drive back was uneventful except for getting stuck in ungodly traffic outside a drive-thru for a bit of time, and the copious fireworks that were still being lit along the river. Actually that second thing, all the fireworks leaping out of the night sky as we zoomed south was truly a lovely sight to behold.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pizza and Pretty c/o Cayuga Lake

For the last couple of years I've been lucky enough to be invited up to A.S.'s family lake house on one of the finger lakes: Cayuga Lake. I was 100% presumptuous when I emailed A.S. asking whether she would be at all amenable to my swinging by upon my departure from Champlain, and I can only hope that my actually making good on that suggestion (once I heard her response in the affirmative) was an example of things working out as opposed to me making a really huge faux pas in the etiquette of life. There's nothing to be done now one way or the other, so I'm just going to focus on the positives. Positives like the drive through the Adirondacks I took, most of which were on two lane roads that no one could call anything but scenic. I saw so many pretty vistas and funny little lake towns, but I was pretty focused on enjoying the drive without delaying myself, so there really is no photographic evidence of just how pretty it was. After about five and change hours I arrived at the S. family's house and quickly joined in the conversation, swimming and general relaxation that was taking place there. I hadn't realized that there would be so many faces I actually knew. B.C. was there along with A.S.'s current roommate J., B.C.'s friend from college A. and A.S.'s friend from college too. A very strong group of ladies no doubt.
I asked them all if they had been having the same extremely tempestuous weather each day and they had said generally no. I guess Champlain got more of the strange deluges of rain. But on this particular day there was definitely a storm slowly making its way across the lake. Always neat to see.
But no one would be running inside unless it was really serious.
Pretty cloud we all declared.
The making of the pizza was very collaborative. The result was very delicious.

Salad too, with a dressing that was just right.
The evening concluded with karaoke mostly sung by others, though I gave it a college try with a Patsy Cline song. It's never as much fun to sing Karaoke when there are legitimately good singers in your midst.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Breakfast and Burgers and the Fourth of July on Lake Champlain

On July Fourth I awoke before J. or K. (or J.'s additional family members who had arrived in the preceding evening). I needed to do an internetty work check in, which couldn't be done from the cabin itself, so I drove to Port Henry to take advantage of the weird glory that is parking in front of a small town library and using their wireless. A thing no one did ten years ago...though I did, at that stage, walk to a small town library and go inside to use their internet. The times, they are a'changin'. In any case after getting the work stuff out of the way I drove and took a gander at the view of the lake by a nearby church, and then decided that I'd have breakfast at the little old-school diner next to the town's grocery store. The diner does have that very quaint small town look to it, and though it's not the most iconic in terms of a longer rail road car-like set up, there was a bit of that. I made the choice of sitting at the counter, which was generally wise as I think that it had a little more character than the backroom with tables. One drawback, however, was that my feet couldn't touch the ground on the stool and there was nothing to really easily rest my feet on. This wouldn't have really been that big a deal if it wasn't for the fact that the food really did take forever and a day to actually arrive in front of me. Basically I ordered two eggs, sausage (I was told they only had Italian sausage) and home fries with a roll and then sat for about 45 minutes. The lady behind the counter was diligent in refilling my coffee cup and it wasn't an entirely unpleasant experience, but by that same measure I really had expected to be in and out in about 45 minutes, so the delay kind of cramped my style a bit. The food was good and the cook/owner came out to say hi to me once he saw a camera involved. Basically I have no ill will towards this place, but the wait wasn't entirely counterbalanced by what was a pretty unremarkable breakfast.
Then there was more swimming and sitting. I think this was the day that J.'s uncle was using his motor boat to let people go 'tubing.' I have always thought of tubing in terms of moseying down a river without a care in the world in something that, you know, actually resembles a tube. But on lakes there seems to be a completely different take on the activity....covered tube-like things at the end of a long rope attached to a power boat that drives you around in fast fun circles. I have no photographic evidence of J. and I tubing in tandem, but it was fun and I'm glad I didn't wuss out as I was thinking I might. Each bump over a wake of water was like a little roller coaster adventure, but with the knowledge that the worst that would really happen is that I would fall into the water, which was delightful in temperature. I also went out to the middle of the lake with J.'s younger cousin and enjoyed diving into the really, really deep water, which was even cooler and speckled with sunlight than the shores I kept to for most of the visit. Then the sun began to set and it was beautiful.
And I momentarily lost a hand and looked weirdly pale and bald with a comb over.
I mixed up ground beef for burgers that night, which K. was in charge of grilling to perfection. Some were "fancy" and some were "non-fancy" to appeal to those with an interest in my version of burgers (little salt and pepper, soy sauce, worcestire, garlic, cumin etc.). Turns out that J.'s family doesn't even salt and pepper their burgers usually, or that's what one of them said in any case.
J. testing out a fancy photo with his mom nearby.
K. jumping into the action too.
Yup. Cheese makes the world go round.

Then there was a period of time sitting around a fire with J.'s extended cousin network. Looking at fireworks that were being lit all over the shores of the lake north and south and east (we were on the west shore.
It was not a good year for me and taking photographs of fireworks. I'll have to try better with the next opportunity I am given.
At some point K. and I headed back towards the cabin we were staying in and ended up going back down the the lake for a night swim, which really was a wonderful experience. Floating in water and being able to see a bazillion stars (and I think the Milky Way) all while naked without a concern of anyone seeing you is pretty much a winning situation for me, and one that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the outdoors.

And that pretty much wraps up the days I spent on Lake Champlain. It truly was a relaxing and satisfying experience. In addition to all the swimming and Catan and eating, I also read three books in quick succession, which really reminded me how much I actually love to read. I even started thinking about my novel for the first time in so long there is no point in even pointing out how long it actually has been. Not that I've actually made any progress with those notes, but I felt momentarily excited for the first time in forever.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Steak and Asparagus c/o Lake Champlain (and K. and J.)

I have fallen terribly behind. I'm sure all my readers were waiting. Sitting on the edge of their seats. Practically falling apart about what might have happened next on Lake Champlain. Well pant/fall/sit/worry no more. We ate steak. K. marinated a flank-like steak in a cayenne-ish concoction (it was good so I should really ask him what it was all about) and grilled it like it was his job, which aside from reading books and hanging out...well it was his job on this particular evening.
K. enlisted J. to take care of and look after a plate of grilled/roasted asparagus, which were also delightful. I never gen my asparagus to be simultaneously tender and crisp...but they did.
I won't bother you with the photograph, but I'm pretty sure we played some games as well. Games!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Smoked Salmon, Goat Brie and Other Treats (With More Catan)

Another day with more floating, sunning, reading and playing. For another outdoor game I put together a little smoked salmon plate with goat brie, cornichons, capers and red onions. A perfect accompaniment to the game and location.