11.08.2014

A Ride To Peg's Pultneyville

One weekend while we were camped out at Dan's house in western New York State, Peggy said we were gonna ride up to Lake Ontario.  I was a little reluctant on accounta having just spent a month camped out at the Webster campground, which was on the shore of the lake.  She assured me I would enjoy the ride to Pultneyville, but still I unenthusiastically climbed into the SUV and only a grumbled a 'little' bit about it, shrugging, 'okay, back to da lake'.  Our time in New York was growing short cuz we'd been there six weeks already and November was fast approaching bringing with it what I feared might be snow, so I dreaded having to be 'wasting' one of our precious days together seeing the same area again we'd already been seeing for all this time.  She assured me I wouldn't be disappointed, and boy! was she ever right.  We drove back up to Webster and were met by the family of deer we had been seeing on a daily basis. Well, okay, you can never get tired of seeing that.


But then as we rode by way of the special scenic road called the Seaway Trail along the lake, the scenery changed dramatically as we rode through amazing apple orchards.  For a South Louisiana country boy, I was bug-eyed, nose-to-the-window as we passed all the trees loaded with all kinds of varieties of apples I aint nevah heard of.  I had no idea there was so many different kinds of apples.  And then, of course, there were grapes growing alongside them in many places, that being grape country as well. Peggy was right I was far from disappointed seeing all this.








When we got to the lake she took me to a park she usta love to come to and relax while gazing out over the lake.

    Okay, Cappy wanted me to tell you about this little park. The name is Forman Park. Just being in the park makes me feel as though I'm stepping back in time, to a more peaceful era. There's just something about the place. Even in summer, the air coming off the lake is cool and crisp. If the park is crowded; people everywhere, families picnicking or just relaxing, everyone is polite to one another, and still there's the quiet and restfulness. Often, I'd make the long drive by myself on weekdays when the kids were in school and folks were at work, leaving the park almost desolate. I'd go just to spend time alone to read, I might have my art supplies along, or just being still and listening to my own thoughts, or, and especially to try listen to what the Lord might be trying to tell me. And still today, when it's time to go home, it's always with sadness and regret that I have to leave, but I always do so with a sense of having been refreshed and with a longing to return soon. I hope Cappy felt that way, too. (To get a good feel for the place, click on the pictures to make them bigger)



The park was very nice and surprisingly not crowded.  I guess with all the apple orchards and harvest festivities around, everyone was elsewhere, so that made our visit all the better. We stopped at a restaurant/ice cream stand/bar there in Pultneyville and had a nice visit looking at the boats in this marina, while she had some frozen raspberry sorbet, keeping the windows of the SUV up and the heater on, cuz it was cold out up there already. The heater on...eatin' ice cream cuz it's cold outside. Shakin' my head. We're always laughing about one thing or another wherever we go, so that's a good thing.
      On the drive back to our camper we passed several front yard fruit and vegetable stands where folks were selling their harvest goodies.
 I learned from Peg that the 'Honey Crisp' apples were a local favorite prized for their flavor.  She said, tho', that when she was a kid, MacIntosh was the apples her family bought by the bushel load and snacked on them every night while watchin' tv, till the basket was empty. There were also pumpkins every where. Pumpkins and squashes.

It was an amazing trip and I learned something. In New York sumac is not poison like poison ivy like I'd always heard it was, and in the Fall it's quite beautiful. Peg says the Indians...nowadays to be politically correct I guess I should say, 'Native Americans', but they used to make a 'lemonade' kind of drink out of the dark red fuzzy 'berries'. Ya learn something new every day, it seems.
It sure added to a wonderful Saturday drive. I'm so glad we went that day and look forward to doin' it again sometime. When it's warm again.

11.05.2014

Teaching Joe To Make My Cajun Chicken Spaghetti

  Son, Joe, came over one Saturday and I passed on a little Cajun cooking lesson.  I love teaching the guys how to cook the dishes my father cooked and passed on to me.  I came into their lives late, but am slowly trying to pass on a little knowledge of my family's Cajun traditional things.  I have taught Dan how to cook a few things and it really makes me feel good when he calls and tells me he is cooking this or that, that I taught him, for his family.
Dan and "Beaux Bear" greeted Joe as he arrived carrying a sack of munchies.
Since I had left my metal wind break for the outside propane stove back home in Louisiana, I improvised with a pizza box and with Joe looking on and helping to stir,
I started by browning half a dozen chicken thighs, and we visited while they cooked.

I took the chicken out and put in some sliced sausage and diced onion. We tried in vain to try to find some authentic Cajun sausage, so used Hillshire brand.
After they cooked down somewhat, I added a can of diced tomatoes and a can of Rotel tomatoes and let that cook down some more.  It started getting cool outside, as the sun dropped for the horizon, so I moved the whole project into our lil camper.  That way it would be warm and cozy for the photographer, (Peggy, who had been hiding out in the warmth of the camper) to visit with Joe, too.  I bet yall were wondering if I ever cook on the camper stove and the answer is, "hardly ever, but yes."

Joe paid close attention and helped with the stirring and such while we had a wonderful visit.
I showed him a couple tricks to get that particular flavor that we all love that makes our Cajun Chicken Spaghetti so special.

We had a good time and boy! did our lil camper smell wonderful.
Joe loved the stuff and polished off 2 big plates of it.  It was all I could do to save Dan a plateful.
With Peggy's gluten-free pasta stirred in, it was very good if I do say so myself, and very difficult to sacrifice my own second helping for Dan, who had gone in to work that night for some light-duty paper pushing, but I was proud to do it; aint that what Step-pops are 'posed to do? When Dan got home from work at 4:30 in the morning (he's a nightclub manager), first thing, he dove into his spaghetti, licked his fingers and fought the urge to come beat on the camper door to see if there was any more left and tell us how good it was.
   For those of you not familiar with my Chicken spaghetti, here is the recipe, complete with a how-to video from our other blog: http://theroundrobincajuncountrycooking.blogspot.com/2014/03/cajun-style-chicken-spaghetti.html

11.02.2014

Saying Goodbye To An Old 'Friend'

   Don't worry; it's not our good friend, "Smokin" Sam aka "Bobec", but his old beloved, well-seasoned, well-used, plywood smokehouse.
Those of you, who regularly read our Blog, will recognize the ole plywood smoker. The "07" sign on the front of it, designates the year it was put into service, and over the years, it has made several appearances on these postings.  I hated to see the old thing go, but you can see from it's inside, that it was probably time.     
Last night I scored a Boston Butt roast and slathered it with our South Louisiana's Steen's cane syrup; both sides, top and bottom. 
Then I sprinkled on our own Cajun spice. 
...then some Worcestershire sauce.  
 ...followed by Chrystal Hot sauce; all of which is gluten free for Peggy.  
 Since it was nice and cold last night, I parked the roast in the bbq pit outside. I got up this morning and seasoned the three baking hens we had also thawed, using the same spices and "woo", but without the cane syrup, because these hens are destined for future gumbos and we don't want them smoked 'sweet'. By 7:30 this morning, our pork roast and the three hens, along with what Sam had goin' on, were all occupying prime locations in Sam's spacious new cypress smokehouse.   


  Sam had a couple chickens and a couple slabs or ribs, and boy, everybody looked so pretty by the time he was done with 'em.
Drivin' home, can you just imagine how my Jeep musta smelled, bringin' all those smoked goodies home after they'd been sitting' in some really good smoke for five hours??   
  Two of the smoked hens went directly into the freezer (after they cooled down, of course), and one of them went into the fridge; can smokey gumbo be far away? The smoked Boston butt went into the oven for about another four or five hours, taking it's time till it was 'fall apart done'. 
  
This being done, it was well-cooked, and once cooled enough to handle, we pulled it apart by hand.
   

 Actually shredded it by hand, then we poured Peggy's homemade bbq sauce onto it.  
  We stirred this together and it's now and amazing pulled pork, that we just can't stay out of. We shared some of it with a couple of our neighbors, who have shared some of their prized dishes with us, and we are awaiting their verdict.  

Personally, we say the stuff is guilty of being so danged good that we can't stay out of it, and we'd better hurry up and get the rest of it into the freezer before we hurt ourselves. We could say we miss our old 'friend', Sam's original smoker, that he built himself, but this brand new, foot deeper smokehouse that his son, Stan, built for him, has fast become our newest best smoker friend, with our good buddy, Smokin' Sam at the helm.   

10.31.2014

Wine Country, FALL 2014

    While we up in New York State, as son Dan continued to recuperate, and whenever our daughter-in-law, Jen, was off work and home with the kids, Peg and I had quality time together and took several drives in the countryside enjoying the  beautiful Autumn weather.
     One weekend, just as the leaves began turning to their Fall colors, we rode down into the Finger Lake Region to spend the day just looking around and sampling the local fare.

 

 
 
 
 I'd never actually been in upstate New York before when the leaves were in 'full bloom' to see their Fall colors, so it was almost jaw-dropping to see such amazing vistas wherever we looked. It seemed as though almost every tree was trying to outdo the others, almost shouting, "See how gorgeous I am! Tah dah!"
   Initially, Peg kept mentioning a "Fall feeling", almost like what she called, "an electricity in the air"; invigorating, but at first I didn't 'get it'. After a month of seeing the changes in the landscapes and everything, I began to understand what she meant about the harvest season up north. With a chill in the air, people were bustling around outside in their yards, at roadside stands,  fields were being harvested. Pumpkins were everywhere; in the fields, on peoples porches, at festivals, or the afore mentioned roadside stands by the hundreds. 
 
 
It seemed everywhere we looked was worthy of a photo or too many to show here.
 
 
The farms and fields were all being prepared for winter. 
   We drove down the western side of Seneca Lake almost to the town of Naples to get my 'fix' of Monica's grape pie, to which I've been addicted to, since my first unsuspecting trip to grape/wine country years ago.  It was their Grape Festival weekend, so we had to brave the crowds to get to Monica's pies.  They make such a wonderful Concord grape pie that they've had to expand the business to an outside tent, and still, as you can tell from the traffic jam, it was a nightmare getting into the parking lot and out, as well. And this takes place on a very rural, twisty, turny, hilly, two-lane road.
 
Since Peggy couldn't have any of the grape delicacy because of her wheat/gluten problem, I didn't want to get a whole pie, so I got a few small grape tarts. As you also see, I didn't even wait till we finally got out of that jammed parking lot before I started in on 'em.
These lil pies are amazing and if you ever find yourself in the area ya gotta try them! If you have a mind to, there are also, on the same road, grape pie stands that are also wonderful. Sadly, we left before I got to try three different types; I guess I left Granny's Grape Pies for next visit. I hope she don't mind.
Seneca Lake was beautiful and made for a wonderful drive.
The leaves were just beginning to take on their Fall color the first drive down early in our stay, but every once in a while you could see some 'early bird' tree that seemed to be shouting,   "Me, Look At Me!!
From Seneca lake we moved over to
Canandaigua Lake a couple of weeks later.  I hafta confess, I loaded the picture first to see how to spell it. It's pronounced, "canon day gwah". 
The drive to the lake was  beautiful and the fields of grapes were every where. 
When we got to the lake we stopped to watch the local tour paddle-wheel boat pass by.
The lake was so beautiful I told Peg I should see if they wanted to hire a Cajun Cappy to drive the thing, but she brought me back to earth reminding me that in a couple short months it would be Winter.
We couldn't come to the Finger Lakes Region with out stopping at one of our favorite local wineries. Actually, it is very refined and upscale, but they also cater to folks with a whimsical sense of humor. Folks like us.
 Maybe a lil too much like us.
We picked up a couple cases of our favorite "Red Neck" wines for ourselves to enjoy and to also give as gifts.
The friendly gals behind the counter were only too happy to let me sample to my heart's content before I selected 3 wines to bring home. We were surprised to learn that two of the three beautiful young ladies were "local" to our 'red' neck of the woods. Chloe, to the left, is from Slidell, Louisiana, and Taylor, on the right, is from Lafayette, Louisiana. The gal in the middle is Gabby, whose family is from Mexico, and always had raw sugar cane as part of their Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays until recently we think. Since we live in a neighborhood that is literally surrounded by sugar cane fields, we said we'd see what we could do to send her a "Cajun sugar cane care package".
   Since, in our part of the world, sugar cane stalks are harvested green, Peg had to explain to me that the corn stalks pictured here are harvested almost dry, to be ground up and stored in barns to feed the farm animals in the winter. I think she called it, silage.
 
Those drives through rural western New York State were truly breathtaking.
   A lot of times when ya mention ya been to New York, this is not the New York they think about, but it's the one I remember.