Getting into the Spirits

How do you convince a girl that loves her wine that she ought to give vodka, whiskey, and gin a chance?  Take her spirit tasting at Myer Farm Distillers on the west side of Cayuga Lake in Ovid, NY – that’s how!  

No, I’ve never been a “whiskey girl”.  But I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the Blueberry Orange Vodka, John Myer Rye Whiskey, and Myer Farm Gin that I recently got the chance to sample at this fairly new Finger Lakes distillery.

Tastings were 3 for $3.00.  A fair price for (what I dare say are) some of the finest spirits I’ve ever tasted.  Of the three spirits I sampled, the John Myer Rye Whiskey was my favorite – “pour me another!”

The most unique flavor of the tasting goes to Myer Farm Gin which I actually enjoyed because of the delicious unique herbal finish.  There has to be something healing about this gin! 

And lastly, I would never turn down a screwdriver mixed with Myer Farm Blueberry Orange Vodka for brunch, or any other time for that matter – delicious!

One more thing worth mentioning. This distillery uses certified organic grain from their own farm which happens to be one of the largest and oldest currently operating in the Northeast.

So, if you are in the Finger Lakes Region and want to get into the spirits, I would suggest adding Myer Farm Distillers to your “must stop” list. 

Sunset

Hot and muggy summer days require a trip to one of my favorite state parks on Seneca Lake.

The park was surprisingly quiet on this particular evening, and the sunset was beautiful.

The seagulls even congregated to watch the sun drop after an extremely hot day.

Just like the lyrics in the Zac Brown Band country song – “toes in the water”

The sailboats begged for admiration.

Lodi Point State Park

The hot hazy day made the lake mysteriously alluring.

The sun finally decided to rest after a long day of working overtime.

What do you do to cool down after a hot summer day?  Do you have a favorite state park you like to go to?

This Story Begins at the Brown Hound Bistro

“Good things come in small packages”.

This story begins at the Brown Hound Bistro, a small, yet cozy and tastefully decorated restaurant that is situated in  the hamlet of Bristol Springs, NY.  For those of you not familiar with the area, the restaurant is in close proximity to Naples and Canandaigua, NY. 

Last night, a  group of bloggers, travel writers, and some of the Finger Lakes tourism folks met at the Brown Hound to sample  an  array of  deliciousness that the Finger Lakes  has to offer; along with gearing up for this evenings Finger Lakes Foodie Awards, all part of this years Finger Lakes Food Revolution Slice, Dice and Spice IV event

The dinner menu was prepared using local meats, cheeses,  fruits, and vegetables.  And yes, plenty of  Finger Lakes wine flowed throughout the evening.

When we weren’t eating, drinking, and chatting till our hearts content, we did what bloggers and writers do best – we took pictures. 

The Brown Hound is one of several restaurants in the Finger Lakes Region that focuses on local resources.  As Trish Aser, owner of the restaurant explained, her goal is to make her guests dining experience as local as possible.  She does this by displaying local artists work in the restaurant, by inviting local musicians to perform there, and by preparing meals using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.  And I’d say that Trish does it well.

If you’re looking for a  great place to dine, celebrate a special occasion, or simply want to  support the local food movement,  then the Brown Hound Bistro is must.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Book, Photo’s, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

I’m dreaming of spring.  I want sunshine, warm temperatures, budding flowers, and green grass.  I want campfires, picnics, and days on the water just rowing our canoe to nowhere in particular.  I want to be able to open the windows and let loads of fresh air in, without letting all of the heat out.  I want to work on the Pink Paradise, and once she’s road ready I want to camp, or should I say glamp.

I’m not asking for much considering I live in upstate New York and we’re not even through the month of February yet. 

To help the cold winter months pass more quickly I’ve been reading and walking more.

I just started to read a book that I won during a giveaway hosted by the blog Pixi Wishes & Forehead Kisses.  It’s too early to give a  review, but I have to say that I was so glad to have found out that the author, Sandy Ward Bell, grew up a little less than an hour away from where I did.  

And as for the walking, it’s being done in an effort to help burn off some of the calorie laden treats that I can’t seem to stop making.  To make my walks more interesting I’ve been taking photo’s.  I thought I’d share a few.  If you’re looking for anything that resembles spring you won’t find it in these pictures.

And as long as I’m sharing – here is one of those calorie laden treats I was talking about.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Pretzel Bars

1 c. chopped pretzel pieces

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

2 tbsp. margarine

2 tbsp. sugar

1 c. mini- marshmallows

1/4 c. powdered sugar

1 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided into two

1 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Lightly coat an 8”x8” pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large a saucepan on low heat, melt peanut butter, margarine, and brown sugar.  Add marshmallows, half of the chocolate chips,  powdered sugar,  and stir until completely melted and mixed. Remove from heat and press mixture flat into prepared pan.

In a double boiler, melt other half of chocolate chips and shortening.  Spread melted chocolate over top of peanut butter mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

What are you most looking forward to this spring?

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Holiday Wine Tasting at Americana

If  Santa were to fill my stocking with Finger Lakes wine this year I’d be a very happy girl.   Of course, I’d need a much bigger stocking than the one I  already have.   The choices of wines here in the Finger Lakes are endless. 

I recently took a very short drive (like almost in my backyard kind of drive) to Americana Vineyards.  Their winery is one of my favorites, and I love to stop in there from time to time.  I thought I’d  share my visit with you.

Americana’s tasting room is situated in a tastefully decorated old barn that has a neat story behind it.   On my visit, I was greeted at the door by  one of  their two chocolate labs  – Max or Rubie.   Aside from the dogs, the winery also has a huge friendly cat that roams around the place and manages to look more like the wineries watch dog than the dogs do – go figure.

Aside from the tasting room at Americana, you will also find the Crystal Lake Café which serves (so I’m told) delicious food that is made in-house daily with the freshest local ingredients;  a gift shop with a great selection of specialty food items, among other unique treasures; the biggest variety, and some of the most delicious homemade fudge that you’ve ever seen or tasted in one place.  I had intentions of trying their red velvet fudge and forgot to once  the wine started flowing.  Oh well, I guess that gives me an excuse to go back soon.

Behind the winery is a  large pavilion that plays host to concerts and other events when weather permits.  And when weather doesn’t permit, the upstairs of the barn does the job.  Americana has concerts scheduled every Friday from 6PM-8PM, and every Sunday from 4PM-6PM.

As for wines, Americana’s got them all.  Dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet –  in red, white, and blueberry.   If my calculations are correct, I counted 27 different wines in all.  For $3.00 you can taste 6 wines of your choice, and for $1.00 more you can taste their 2 of their limited edition wines, or 3 of their blueberry wines.  My favorite Americana wine?  Their Semi-Dry Riesling – amazing!

And to think that I almost forgot to mention the hot mulled wine that I  sampled.  It was delicious and would certainly add a little cheer to any holiday party.  I’m adding their mulling spices to the list that I’m getting ready for Santa.

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Looking for something fun to do this month?  I suggest fitting in a wine tasting,  meal, concert, or a little shopping at American Vineyards. If you’re not from the Finger Lakes; add this trip to your “bucket list” and visit a fun winery in your area.

If  you’re a fan of  Finger Lakes foods and beverages don’t forget to nominate them for the Finger Lakes Foodie award in the Finger Lakes Food Revolution – time is running out!

* I have not been compensated for this post.  It’s simply me sharing one of my great Finger Lakes adventures with you.  If you are a Finger Lakes business and happen to be looking for a freelance writer or photographer – let’s talk!

Rustic Oat Bread

Rustic Oat Bread

It’s that time of the year here in the Northeast. Our ovens become our winter friends.  They heat our kitchens,  fill our homes with wonderful aromas, and help us produce delicious comfort foods that warm our souls.

I love making homemade bread, and a chilly day with snow in the air gives me just the reason to do it.

What could be better than a warm slice of bread without any preservatives, and topped with fresh butter?  Hmmm… maybe a piece of toast  slathered with homemade strawberry jam that was made with plump berries from Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg, NY.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Rustic Oat Bread

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. water

2 tbsp. butternut squash seed oil

3 tbsp. brown sugar

1 c. oatmeal, plus extra for topping

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for kneading

2 tbsp. honey

In a small saucepan, add milk, water, oil, and brown sugar.  Bring to boil; stirring constantly.  Once boiling, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour milk mixture over oatmeal; mix ingredients.  Let stand until lukewarm.

Add yeast and flour; mix completely.  On lightly floured surface knead dough by hand for approximately 7 minutes.   Place in a large bowl greased lightly with squash seed oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Cut in half,  briefly knead each half into a ball.  Place each ball a distance apart from each other on a floured cookie.  Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush each ball of dough with honey, and sprinkle lightly with oatmeal.  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until bread is golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped.  Transfer to wire baking rack to cool.

*Baker’s note – I made this hearty bread with Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods Butternut Squash Seed Oil that’s produced in Geneva, NY. I like using squash seed oil because it gives food a deliciously light nutty flavor.  If you don’t have squash seed oil you can always substitute it with olive oil.

Homemade Rustic Oat Bread & Strawberry Jam

Here is a question for you local foodies.  Will Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods  and Silver Queen Farm be nominated for a Finger Lakes Foodie award this year?

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Tin Can Tourist Vintage Camper Rally

So, the day I’ve  long anticipated finally arrived.  A Tin Can Tourist Rally right here in the Finger Lakes.

When Bill and Denise Fletcher of Fletcher’s Vintage Trailer Sales told us about a camper rally they had planned for our area we had just started remodeling our 1972 Frolic Camper – aka – the Pink Paradise

And while we knew there was no way we would be ready to show off the Frolic, we graciously accepted an invitation to tour the fifty plus campers that were slated to be part of this years event. 

Fortunately for us, and everyone involved, the heavy rain our area was hit with the night before had ceased, the sun made it’s way out, and vintage camper doors were opened.

Many of the camper owners are do-it yourselfers just like hubby and I.  Like us, they have invested sweat equity into their vintage trailer projects and they seemed to enjoy sharing their stories with us as much as we enjoyed listening to them. 

As usual, I had my camera in hand, and here are just a few of the pictures I took.

It’s time to finish up the Frolic so we can show her off too! 

And yes, I’ve changed my blog theme again.  Like I said before, trying to find the right fit…

The FLX Files

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In the midst of re-organizing my blog I decided to dedicate a page to one of the most amazing regions of New York State -  the Finger Lakes (FLX).   Over my last two years of blogging  I have  portrayed this region in many of my blog posts, and it only seemed right to give those posts a place all of their own.  While strolling through the FLX files you’ll likely find photos, mentions, and stories about a specific foods, wines, places, and events here.  I welcome you to the place I call home.

Red-White-and Finger Lakes Wine

Are you a wine-ie

Say Cheese

Weekend finds, but no food post

Homemade pizza from the Finger Lakes

Willkommen to Germany

Wine, and more wine…1st stop, Eleven Lakes Winery

Finger Lakes Cork & Fork, an Event to Remember

Kitchen Disasters

A Day of Adventure

A Day at Willard Asylum for the Insane

Black & Blues

Picking blueberries and my mood

Calling All Foodies from the Finger Lakes and Beyond

Apple Filled Oatmeal Cookies

2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cork & Fork Partners & Pairings

Another Great Finger Lakes Cork & Fork

Making Homemade Wine

Writing (and) Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Holiday Gift Ideas with Pumpkin Cheese Bread

Willard Asylum for the Insane – Updates

Sunday Morning and Doughnut Holes

A historic event, a statue, and photos

Shiitake, Almond, Wild Rice Salad with Balsamic Dressing

In The Finger Lakes – Bully Hill Vineyard

A Surprising Walk

Cream Puffs, You, and The Finger Lakes

Get Out Your Soup Making Pot

Cream Puffs, You, and The Finger Lakes

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Cream puffs are one of my most favorite desserts to make.  I first made them when I was fairly new to blogging.  This was long before anyone knew who The Joy of Caking was.  Let’s just say I wasn’t on the radar back then.  And while I still don’t have one of the most popular blogs out there, TJOC has come a long way. 

I’ve made some awesome friends, established some very loyal followers, and had the opportunity to work with some great companies that have great products.  I feel very fortunate, and hope my blog continues to grow.  What do you think my chances are of replacing Martha when she retires?

This batch of cream puffs is in honor of all of you.  Friends, followers, and great companies with great products. 

I have often thought of how awesome it would be to have a huge blogger fest here in the Finger Lakes.  And if that ever comes to be, I hope for all of you to attend.  You really would be wowed with a visit to to my neck of the woods.  Wineries galore, beautiful lakes and New York State Parks, quaint towns, antiques, art, museums, history, and food.  That’s what the Finger Lakes is all about.

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Now, back to the cream puffs.  Don’t be scared of making them.  They are easy and delicious.  My suggestion; follow a recipe straight out of a dependable cookbook.  This batch was made from following a recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  The ingredients are simple.  Water, butter or margarine, flour, and eggs.  That’s it! Baker’s note: I have had the best luck using margarine over butter.

Cream puffs can be filled with whipped cream, or in this case, I made a vanilla cream pudding from the same cookbook.  And on a scale of 1-10, the pudding was a 10. 

Have you ever visited the Finger Lakes, made cream puffs, or do you want to be the new Martha?

 

A Peachy Summer Dessert – Lemon Cheesecakes with Peach Glace’ Topping

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I couldn’t wait to buy my first quart of fresh peaches of the season because I knew exactly what I wanted to make with them. 

And while I’m not convinced they came from the Finger Lakes Region quite yet,  I am convinced they are from Pennsylvania – just over the border.

I strongly envy the folks in Georgia, or the South for that matter, who have fresh peaches far more often than we do here in New York.

This recipe is simple to make, yet so delicious. 

This cheesecake recipe was passed onto me by a co-worker quite a few years ago.  I substituted lemon juice for the vanilla extract that the recipe originally called for, and I cut the recipe in half.  *Warning – these are extremely dangerous to have in the house if you are lacking in the willpower department.

The peach glace’ topping is a slightly modified version of a peach glace’ pie my mom use to make every summer.

The two are a match made in heaven!

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Mini Lemon Cheesecakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 regular sized cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.

1  (8oz.) package of light cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 egg, beaten

1-2 tbsp. of lemon juice (I use 2 tbsp. for a stronger lemon flavor)

12 vanilla wafer cookies

Place one vanilla wafer in the bottom of each paper liner.  In a medium sized bowl, add cream cheese, sugar, and beaten egg.  Mix until smooth and creamy.  Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly.

Pour batter into each paper liner; filling about 2/3 full.  Bake about 20 minutes until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Remove from oven and allow the cheesecakes to cool completely in the cupcake tin.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Peach Glace’ Topping

2 ripe peaches

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. butter

2 tsp. lemon juice

2 heaping tbsp. corn starch

Peel and dice one peach; set the other aside for later use.

In a small bowl, add sugar and cornstarch; mix thoroughly.

In a medium saucepan, add water, 1 tsp. of lemon juice, and diced peaches. 

Bring  to boil; continue boiling for 1 minute.  Temporarily remove from heat.

Remove half the boiled liquid from the saucepan and add to the bowl of sugar and cornstarch.  Stir quickly, and until all cornstarch and sugar are dissolved.

Return the saucepan to the burner on medium heat and pour the sugar mixture into the saucepan.  Stir constantly until mixture thickens. 

Remove from heat, add butter and 1 tsp. of lemon juice. 

Peel and dice 2nd peach and add it to the glace’; stir thoroughly.  Cool slightly before serving, or refrigerate until ready to use.

Homemade Whipped Cream

1 c. heavy cream

2-4 tbsp. powdered sugar

1-2 tsp. vanilla

Chill small bowl and beaters for 15 minutes in freezer. 

Add cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla to bowl.  Beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

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And lastly, don’t forget to spread the love on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook!

ENJOY!!!