Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last Campfire of Summer - Labor Day Treats

It's a little fuzzy, but somewhere in my childhood memory I was toasting pbj sandwiches over a campfire. I grew up going to the 1,000 Islands every summer so maybe it was there. I somehow inherited the toasted sandwich maker and it has since gone into retirement, it's duties taken over by a newer, online purchased square sandwich toaster.

My vintage round one is called a Jem-Toaster and made at a company in Brooklyn, NY. It is probably from the 1950's and no, I won't be listing that in NaNa's Things anytime soon! Too much nostalgia connected with it! The square one is newer and bigger but my husband thinks the vintage one makes a better toasted pbj.

So, as simple as it is to make, here is a mini tutorial to tempt you to run out and buy a toaster before this weekend. They are called everything from a Toasted Sandwich Maker to Pie Irons and can be found at local Home stores or on Amazon.com where there is a huge variety of them. There are even recipe books to buy but I am going to show you how to make the classic peanut butter and jelly toasted sandwich.

Spray the sandwich maker with cooking spray on both sides.

Load one side up with peanut butter and one side with jelly or jam. I prefer my homemade raspberry jam.
Put the sandwich together and into the maker. If needed, trim any crust that spills over once you close the two sides together. You can butter the outside of each piece of bread also before putting into the sandwich maker. Adds those good, extra calories and makes it even more gooey!
Have the fire nice and hot and start toasting!
Make sure to toast both sides well so that the peanut butter melts into the jam and literally oozes out when you eat it! This one needs a little more time....
A satisfied customer.....

If you are a morning campfire type of camper, try an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Just butter the outside of two pieces of bread, put one on the bottom part of the sandwich maker and put a slice of cheese in. Break an egg on top of the cheese and break the yoke. Cover with the other piece of bread with the butter side out. Toast away, until the egg is cooked.

These toasted sandwiches are good any time of day....we usually have them at night under the stars.....

Have a great Labor Day weekend!

P.S. Summer is not really over this weekend. The first day of Fall is not until September 22nd!

AnnMarie :)


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Saga of The Canandaigua Lady

Every year for two weeks in August my son Michael goes off to camp. My husband Frank and I take this opportunity and try to find things to do together while Michael is gone. Things that he would usually find boring or not so much fun for a teenager.

 So, last August we booked a dinner cruise on the Canandaigua Lady.

As of writing this, and four attempts later, we still have not boarded the boat.

We are so fortunate to live at the tip of the Finger Lake area in Upstate New York, closest to Canandaigua Lake, one of the five Finger Lakes. Canandaigua (meaning “the chosen spot”) is a resort community with great shopping, restaurants and access to the shores of one of the most beautiful of the lakes.  

The Canandaigua Lady is a paddleboat that docks at The Steamboat Landing restaurant on the lake and provides lake cruises throughout the Summer and early Fall.

For our first attempt at cruising on the lake in a paddleboat, we were driving the 20 minutes with plenty of time to get there when we ran into lines and lines of traffic outside the area we needed to get to.  I know the area pretty well so we tried other ways to get in. All were clogged up with lines of traffic. It could only mean one thing. There was a concert at CMAC Performing Arts Center, another wonderful feature of this area, just not this particular night for us!

CMAC is located on the campus of Finger Lakes Community College. The outdoor amphitheatre brings in top artists from all over the country to perform. That night it was a huge performer, although I can’t recall his name now!

We were literally on Lakeshore Drive, within site of the boat, and could not get there because we were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. The anxiety was high in the car, because of me, and I considered abandoning it and walking the rest of the way! The time came and went to board the boat and it was still sitting at the dock! By the time we got there a half hour late, we were told that the cruise was cancelled due to high winds.

Fast forward to this August. We still have our rain check from last year. We booked another cruise and an hour and a half before we were to be there, we had one of the worst downpours of rain this summer. We cancelled  because the rain had washed away our idyllic perception of being on a boat out on the sunny lake with the water shimmering in all its calmness.

We rescheduled for another day that week. By now we are running out of time because if we don’t get it in before the last week of summer camp, the rain check will sit there another year.

The day of our cruise I woke up sick and in much pain. Another cancellation.

All along I had been having doubts about being able to be on a slow moving, enclosed boat (they no longer serve dinner on the open air upper deck) while eating Eggplant Parmesan. Since childhood I have had a motion sickness problem. We rescheduled the cruise anyways for this past Monday night.

As Monday wore on I was increasingly concerned for the motion, the weather and how cold it was going to be out on the water since it was already one of the coolest days we’ve had this summer. The clouds were as dark as snow clouds.

Then Frank thought of something that never occurred to either of us. On a cruise you usually sit at large tables with other people you do not know. At the risk of sounding antisocial, we did not want that! We were on a mission to spend time together, alone, something that is scarce in our busy lives with a teenager at home.

A phone call confirmed that we would sit at a table for eight with six other people. Another cancellation.

Resigned to the fact that we would probably NEVER go on the Canandaigua Lady, we made reservations at the Steamboat Landing restaurant, sat outside on the deck overlooking the water and had a wonderful dinner together.

After dinner we walked along the shore and since we were in full view of the boat, we watched as others boarded. The weather had miraculously transformed from dark, dreary clouds to bright sunshine that spilled over the shimmering, calm water. Yup, exactly how we had  wanted it to be. There was even a rainbow over the horizon!

It was just not meant to be. And so goes the saga of The Canandaigua Lady. Farewell Canandaigua Lady….….farewell.

AnnMarie :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Garlic and Grapes in the Finger Lakes

If you have lived in Upstate New York all your life, or more specifically in the Finger Lakes area like I have, did you know that the Finger Lakes are known for their garlic as well as their wine? I must admit that I did not!

Drive along any of the Finger Lakes....Keuka, Canandaigua, Seneca, Cayuga..... and there is that familiar sight of grape vineyards rolling down the hillsides.....dotted with a barn and fences. The grapes are clustered on the vine, almost ready to pick.

It is quite beautiful.

But where is the garlic grown? I never knew until two years ago when I came upon The Garlic Festival, held every year in August at Fox Run Vineyards on Seneca Lake. I thought it would be a nice drive down Rt. 14 S along the lake to see what it was all about. We were pleasantly surprised to see the abundance of garlic, garlic scapes and garlic products that were set up in tents to taste and buy. We have gone back twice since then and it seems to grow every year.....

It seems that the climate is ideal for Northern European varieties of hard neck garlic. Just as Vitas vinifera grapes thrive here, so do these specialty garlic varieties. There are many garlic farms dotted throughout the Finger Lakes taking advantage of the perfect conditions of water and air and sun to grow their special garlic. They make their garlic into butters, salts, braids and wreaths to buy.....

There were tents set up for festival vendors such as homemade soap, jewelry and flowers. There were cooking demostrations by area chefs and a flameworker from the Corning Museum of Glass. There was a tent full of any spice you could dream up to use in cooking or baking.

I couldn't resist buying a handmade silver ring made out of an old fork.

And I got the last bunch of silver dollars from a flower vendor....I could have sold them 3 times over to others that were sorry they missed out! That's me, my husband Frank and son Michael.

My daughter Jena, her husband Britt and baby Chloe joined us for the day.

Lake breezes, sun, garlic slices on crackers, gourmet food, family and entertainment. A very nice way to spend a 90+ degree day!

How have you been spending these hot, hot days of summer?

AnnMarie :)
Linking up with this great blog party!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Miracles Make Wonderful Memories

Fourteen years ago today, the Lord delivered a miracle into my husband’s and my life. We named him Christian Michael and we call him Michael.

This is Michael at 6 years old. He loved playing pirate. He also loved playing with his action figures.....

He was born 2 months early at 28 weeks and weighed 1 pound 10 ounces. My son and I had a 50/50 chance of living through the emergency surgery to deliver him and the Lord spared us both.  He was the size of a coke can in the palm of your hand. He didn’t have any eyebrows or fingernails. He looked like a miniature old man.

We had prayed for the possibility of a baby. I had two beautiful teenage girls and a failed marriage. My new husband didn’t have any children and I was his first wife. We asked for a boy.

I became pregnant at 41 and the Lord told my husband he was having a son. I feared a Down’s Syndrome baby. We never imagined the journey we would go through with a diagnosis of Cerebral Palsey in his legs, but the Lord never left us through it all.

Today Michael is a quiet (when he is not around his Dad!), sensitive teenager who loves basketball, the LA Lakers, and playing XBox 360 (today he got Kinect for his XBox as our gift to him). He is past the braces and into the retainers. He is going to be tall and he has a head full of thick curls. He has been called a genius. He is very creative and writes novels and comic books. He excels in language arts and not so much in Math. He loves hanging out with his Dad. They do all the typical guy things together. He is a good boy.

As a baby and a little boy he seemed to always draw people to himself. We had people give us a word from the Lord about him. He is learning and growing in the Lord and we know God has a unique plan for his life. He has been preparing Michael and us for it through all the trials and experiences he has already gone through in 14 years.

Enjoying a Subway sub today on his birthday. We spent a quiet day fishing on the Erie Canal....

We celebrate one more precious year with you Michael! Happy Birthday!

 AnnMarie :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

It may sound funny to refer to your vehicle as a friend, but think about it.

You go out to your driveway, or street in my case, everyday and probably without thinking too much about it, get in, hoping for a ride. It takes you where you need to go. It has been to every event of your life for however many years you have owned it. Whether you have taken it for granted or not, it has been there for you.

I watched my 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport in Teal Green drive off yesterday on top of a flatbed of the local salvage company. I was sad.

It was time though. The truck had over 150,000 miles on it and had been in and out of the shop constantly in the last 6 months. One day it just stopped running.

We got this truck when my son was a baby boy of one. He will be 14 this summer. I remember being excited as I put him in his car seat in the back of it the day we picked it up.

It got us to the 1,000 Islands for vacation a thousand times.

It hauled a lot of stuff back and forth to our community theatre for productions.

It got me through a lot of rough upstate New York winters with the four wheel drive.

It was a good vehicle for 13 years and was something I depended on daily. I pick up my new vehicle this week.

I only hope it will be as reliable as my good old Jeep.