Taking the Scenic Route AKA the Slow Boat to Fort Ticonderoga

We’ve been back from Burlington for over a month and I never wrote about the drive home. East Middlebury is pretty far south and a bit east of Burlington, so our trip home wouldn’t be exactly the same route and we had to continually ignore the GPS in order to stay on rural roads (we heard “recalculating” about a billion times).

And then we got here (I apologize for the shabby iphone pic):

Fort Ticonderoga Ferry: you request it by pulling a rope attached to a sign that flips up…very high tech!

That’s the southern part of Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga is just on the other side. To go around would be 40 miles south, while the longest wait for the ferry is 15 minutes. The whole system is pretty low tech: when you pull up you either board the waiting ferry or stop, get out, walk over to the pole/rope/sign in the above picture and pull. The sign flips and the ferry captain knows to come back. It seems that you don’t really even need to call; there were cars coming back and cars waiting with us in minutes.

You can see it better here:

Fort Ticonderoga Ferry from http://www.forttiferry.com

$9, 15 minutes to cross, April to October. Even better in a convertible!!
By the time we got home I learned that I had placed solidly in the middle at USAT Nationals; not as good as I used to be, but certainly better than last year.

Race Day, Fancy Breakfast, and the Waybury Inn

The race was the largest I’ve been involved in; even Ironman Florida was not quite this big, over 2000 entrants for the Olympic Distance. I finished respectably considering my training is nowhere near what it used to be. Jake stayed with me through my swim start (2000 people in this case means wave starts of 100ish people at a time; I was wave 14 out of 18 or 20) and then headed off to find some breakfast and wander Burlington. I spent the next 2:42:01 swimming, biking and running. He ate eggs benedict (not a traditional version–sourdough bread and spinach added) and pancakes (also not traditional–added oatmeal to the batter!) that were passable. I ate four packets of Power Gel, vanilla flavor.

 

But onto the good stuff! We drove about 35 miles south of Burlington to East Middlebury and the Waybury Inn. This was more a choice of convenience than a rigorous selection process; basically there were no rooms within 100 miles of Burlington and we got lucky with a cancellation. The Waybury is popular without a national race happening nearby, it was the inn used for the exterior shots of the Newhart Show (did I just age myself?), has a pub that Robert Frost spent time in writing, and has a pretty good restaurant.

Check in was a little weird. When we pulled up we could see a wedding that was about to begin and the parking lot was almost full. I was concerned that we’d been overbooked and would not have a room, but was armed with the emails confirming our one night reservation. We entered the lobby, very rustic, and according to Jake, exposing original beams. There was no one at the desk. We waited. We rang the bell. We waited. And finally a women who smelled of booze (seriously!! like she’d just downed a shot behind the counter or something) came out and checked us in. She told us that the wedding would make things a bit crazy and loud, but that we should put our things in our room and go to the pub for a drink.

 

And that is just what we did. After I took a shower and scrubbed my race numbers off we went straight to the bar, the bar we’d been told was open and to go to. When we go there the bartender very brusquely told us that we couldn’t be in there, the wedding had rented the bar and we were going to make the bride mad. He agreed to make us each a drink that we could take out to the porch and he’d send us a waitress. Evidently I took too long to decide (because he didn’t have the first two things I asked for) and he told me I would have to leave.
I was pretty angry, especially since the front desk of this 10 room inn sent us there, it’s not like it was some giant resort where the left and right hands don’t know what each other is doing. This is one small building. Anyway, the porch waitress brought us each one drink and then never came back. Jake braved the wrath of the bartender and got us two more or three more or who knows. I cheered up quickly when I realized the awesome people watching potential that “Rick and Val’s Wedding” was about to provide. Let me just say: lots of tattoos, black jeans, smoking in the parking lot, and at least one ‘dress’ baseball cap. Not to mention “Val” was about 50 and had nine bridesmaids and the full on big dress shenanigans. Priceless.
What the Waybury lacked in service (and it continued to be shabby service but I’m thinking its a problem of having a small pool of people to hire, it was pretty rural) it made up for with good food. We ate dinner at the inn, sharing bacon wrapped scallops and a caprese salad with local fresh mozzarella. Jake had rack of lamb. I assume is was good as he ate the whole thing and I got not even a bite. I had venison and it was perfect. For my life I can’t remember what we had for dessert. I do remember having a Bailey’s though.

 

We spent our after dinner time on the porch again listening to the last wedding guests dance to Bon Jovi…

Driving to Burlington, VT

By some miracle I qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals at a race last month and was able to get registered to race. Basically you need to be in the top 10% at a sanctioned race, so I guess its not a miracle, but considering my training time is not what it used to be I’m pleased.

Baca and Grammie agreed to watch Raddy G for two nights while Jake and I go to Burlington. Jake’s birthday is this weekend and a race doesn’t thrill him but an opportunity to drive his Jaguar XJR convertible does. My bike, when completely disassembled, fits in the trunk.

We took the scenic route through Adirondack Park on Route 8, top down, Rolling Stones on the iPod, and an overcast sky. A stop at Suzy Q’s for lunch (a Brie, apple, and bacon panini in the middle of nowhere!) and a six hour leisurely drive found us in Burlington.

Great drive but a frantic scene at the race expo and bike check in—not relaxing!!

Welcome Home!

I’m not sure if we’ve lost our marbles or found them; we finally bought into Disney Vacation Club. After umpteen trips to the World, most of them on rented points from DVC members or from dvc-rental.com we bought a resale membership in Animal Kingdom Villas from Resales DVC. We now have 200 points to use every year until 2057! Depending on when we go, that number of points allows us to take at least two week long trips per year for the three of us in a studio villa or we can get a two bedroom villa, bring some friends or family and stay for over a week.

 

So today I made our first booking to go “home.” The contract we purchased is a resale and the previous owners did not use all the 2012 points when they sold it to us, so Jake and I are going a grown ups only trip for two night to (what else?) the Epcot Food and Wine Festival!  That uses up the remaining points for 2012. I also learned today that Airtran takes Paypal; we have one customer who pays us via Paypal and I generally forget that we have a balance to use and then end up with a good chunk of money when I should have been using it to pay for tons of other online crap, so almost like free plane tickets. Plus we have Rewards Dollars on our Disney Visa ($400ish) and one day left on our old 10 day passes. Really, its practically free. Except for the whole buying a 45 year time share part.

 

Feeling pretty good about things I also booked a trip for the three of us and my parents. A two bedroom villa for four nights in May. We took my parents last May and it was awesome! Built in baby sitter and extra love for Raddy G. He was only 15 months old that time, I think 26 months will be even more fun for him.

 

I’ll have to look into that first haircut thing at the Harmony Barbershop in the Magic Kingdom, but first, FOOD and WINE (and more WINE!).

 

is it pasta? is it Risotto? I’m not sure, but it’s good.

What you’re going to need in no particular order:
Half of a package of your favorite bacon
6oz cleaned mushrooms
Minced garlic
Olive oil
A lemon
A bottle of cheap white wine
1lb of pasta
2 red peppers
1 onion
1 qt chicken stock (you won’t use all of it)

We know  that we haven’t been posting much at all, almost not at all. It turns out a baby is a lot more work than one would think.  We stand corrected.

On the way home a few weeks ago I was listening to splendid table on NPR.  There was a fellow on that day talking about cooking pasta as if it were Risotto.  Hmm. Interesting.    Lets just get to it.  Please disregard the crappy electric stove, its been 6 months since we moved here and it still just don’t seem right.  (Poor grammar intended). Get yourself a drink, and we’ll start making dinner.

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Where all great dishes start. Guinness and bacon.

We’re  going to start where every great dish starts…bacon.  That’s right I said it, bacon.  “Jake, make me a key lime pie!”  Sure hope you like a crust made with bacon grease, ’cause that’s what you’re getting! Don’t judge me.  One thing before we get started, if you want exact amounts so you can replicate my recipe just go ahead and go someplace else.  Also, when I say tablespoon I mean the one in your silverware drawer, the big one.  Same goes for the teaspoon.  Back to the bacon.  I feel for those of you who live somewhere where you don’t have a Wegman’s grocery store, because you wouldn’t know about the wonderful products they carry.  Their uncured pepper bacon for instance, mistakenly bought by Kim one day.  As I took it out of the refrigerator  that day I looked at her ( it wasn’t smoked) as if she brought me soy milk or some other nonsense.  I cooked it up and after putting it into my mouth, I had to admit that, well she wasn’t wrong.  We haven’t bought any other type of bacon in about a year.  As for the amount of bacon? I don’t know…half the package I guess. Cook it not unlike you may cook it for breakfast, only nice and crispy here. Then pour half of the grease into another pan, and set the bacon aside.  Cut it up so its ready later.

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Peppers onions and tomatoes, who's that lurking behind?

You  may as well chop up a whole onion, two red peppers and slice up about a dozen grape tomatoes.

Now we have two pans.  We’re going to call them left and right.  Were going to add a little more oil to lefty and righty, olive oil will work fine and lets put lefty over medium heat and righty over medium low heat. Maybe a couple tablespoons of olive oil per pan.  Get a pound of pasta, your choice but I like something that will hold the sauce, so for us its orecchiette.  Spirals or any other pasta with some surface area will work.  I’m not sure why, but it seems as though for our purposes it is accepted procedure to coat the pasta in oil. ” If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” I always say. So after coating the pasta in the oil in righty I pour half a bottle of cheap white wine and the juice of a lemon over the whole mess.  This is the Risotto  part.  About now you should have some chicken stock just hanging out on the stove in a saucepan warm. As the pasta absorbs the wine you should turn it over and ladle stock over it as it needs more liquid.  Its going to get a creamy consistency you didn’t know pasta could get.  Throw a little basil over it if the mood strikes you.  It struck me.

While righty cooks nice and slow and turning over, lefty is hungry for garlic  so give it what it wants.  A tablespoon should do.  Let the garlic saute for a minute then throw in a half onion, diced, and a red pepper, diced.  After letting the onion get translucent we add our chopped bacon and about 6 oz of sliced mushrooms and a tablespoon or so (maybe as much as two) of liquid smoke.  Mushrooms are like nature’s sponge; savory goodness ensues.

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Take the mushrooms off the heat after they’ve cooked down nicely.  At this point if you’re using reduced sodium broth you may want to put a pinch of salt into your pasta, and while you’re at it a little garlic couldn’t hurt either.  After a while your pasta will be creamy and start getting soft all the way through.   Toss in a  half onion diced, and let it sit and soften a bit. Follow with a red pepper diced and a dozen grape tomatoes sliced up thin.  If you happen to have fresh basil, cut up a handful and throw that in too.  A word of caution about cheese.  I’ve made this dish a few times and thought melting some cheese in was a must.  The first time we used peccorino (too salty)  and the second time we used soft goat cheese (a little better).   I suggest no cheese.  I know, I can’t believe I just heard myself say it.  The truth is that melting cheese in muddies the flavors. Without the cheese this dish is very bright and the smoky salty bacon and mushrooms play well against the crunchy red peppers and wine /lemon soaked pasta.

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If you must, (and I must) shred a little hard Italian cheese over it and serve it up with some premium box wine!

Wednesday dinner

Well, Kim is in the basement riding her bike on the trainer. I get to cook dinner. She gives me some key ingredients then says “Make me dinner farm boy”. I reply “As you wish” (ala the princess bride) and go on my merry way to undo any good she did on that bike.

She really likes this red and yellow pepper gratin recipe and has made it quite a few times. She bought a pork loin and we always have some sort of salad fixings around.

This pepper gratin calls for 1 1/2 oz sourdough bread to make crumbs with, bah I say, and use… Oh a buttload. Better put a rub on the pork. Also, what would you wrap your pork in? I would wrap mine in more pork. (bacon) Also if I had my druthers I would sear it in pork fat! Hmm. I had 4 pieces of bacon so I decided to wrap the pork loins like a filet, in bacon but,what to sear them in?
Hey! I have two more pieces of bacon that can be used to lubricate a cast iron pan. Sweet! But what to do with the two pieces of bacon I cook to lube up the pan for searing? Aha! I will put them in the food processor with the bread and double the Parmesan cheese called for to top the gratin. That’s American efficiency for you!
I better make this all look somewhat good for you so I focus on the salad. Baby lettuce leaves are a staple here. Good so we’ve got that. A few basil leaves off of the plant in the window… Hmm, there are some cherry tomatoes, a few carrots, and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese. (hey it was out). Now half a slice of Wegmans rosemary and olive oil bread (also out on the counter), a few twists of the pepper grinder, two glasses of heart healthy Fox Run pinot noir and I have what appears to be a healthy meal.

But we know better. And the result?

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An ode to Genesee

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Dear Genesee Brewing Company,

Recently, you rereleased your legendary 12 Horse Ale, as if that weren’t enough, you released it in the stubby brown bottles of my childhood. Throw in the Cream Ale and Genesee and I forgive your assault on my liver.

You see, growing up in the shadow of Genesee brewing and Rochester, every male family member drank their Genny from a stubby brown bottle. I wanted to be just like my Daddy…and my Paw-Paw too. Your short brown bottles represent all that it meant to be a man in the 1970s, at least to this grade schooler’s eyes. Every time I drain one of your glass cans I am transported to Aunt Lavonne’s on a hot August day watching the fireman’s parade with promises of fried dough and tilt-a-whirls at the carnival to follow.

Genesee was a working man’s beer. I see my Grandpa and Dad, I smell the cigarettes, I feel excited about the candy the firemen will throw, and I hear the carnival in the distance.

Growing up I remember people disparaging Cream
Ale and as a 20 something beer snob I turned my nose up. Then I started making beer and discovered the refreshing heaven that is Cream Ale. Kim even hoisted a Cream
Ale in here post Ironman picture!

12 Horse takes me back to Connelly’s Cove restaurant on Sodus Bay. I grew up in a family that didn’t frequent restaurants but when we did go out to dinner, my father would order a 12 Horse. It was his special occasion beer. When 12 Horse disappeared in 2003 I hoarded my remaining cases and lamented its retirement.

As for Genny, I drink buckets of it. It’s the fuel of summertime labor. My lawn mower and hammer are both Genny powered.

So thanks Genesee for the memories, as for the glass cans, you had me at 12 Horse.

Sincerely,
Your Happiest (and Drunkest) Customer
Jake

PS I would be remiss if I failed to mention in my food blog that your neighbor makes my number one grilling accessory…

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