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While tired, I’m completely content.  Thanksgiving was spent in Connecticut, Higganum to be precise, which is an idyllic New England town; coupled with perfect fall weather, the day was amazing and well needed for the family.  Dinner was splendid and it was great spending time with family and friends in a warm, inviting setting.  Today, another perfect fall day, was spent at the Florence Griswold Museum and Hammonasset State Park (details to follow over the coming days) on the beach.  The holidays, and Thanksgiving in particular, should be spent with good friends and family and I’m fortunate to have been with both this week.  

As I embark upon the second half of the weekend, which, hopefully, will be as enjoyable as the first half, a few thoughts:

Still not afraid of the crust:   As I suspected, the pie was great.  While visually not eye pleasing, rustic was the term being thrown about, everyone enjoyed it.  When baking, I try to use fresh ingredients and am a firm believer in grating my spices as needed so the pie had freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg and, even, three types of apples (rule of thumb is to use at least two).  I’m also a firm believer in doing something with the crust, whether it be an egg wash or sprinkling sugar on top; the crust does need its own tender loving care to give it that something special.

There are hidden gems everywhere:  Old Lyme, CT, where the Museum is located, is a vibrant, historic arts destination where city folk of yester year, from New York and Boston, would flock to.  It’s amazing to think of all the hidden cultural gems that abound in the Northeast.  Connecticut has a well-known antiques trail and, today, I noticed a sign for the Connecticut wine trail; Route 2 in Massachusetts is sprinkled with cultural, historical, and outdoorsy activities; and Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are teeming with equally intriguing towns.  I’m committed, in 2012, to do more exploring of such destinations and vow to bring to you my discoveries along the way.

Plan with the sun in mind:  Traveling frequently by car between the Cape, my siblings throughout New England and my personal homestead in New Jersey, I always try to factor in the setting sun.  Few things are as annoying as driving into a blazing sun, setting oh so slowly into the horizon.  I tend to take Route 84, albeit not today, and if you don’t time it right, you spend a good hour, hour and a half, driving with the setting sun in your eyes.  The whole process is rather tiring and can turn an otherwise pleasant drive into a pain in the arse; thus, I always advise those driving to keep such things in mind.

Always have a treat on hand:  Growing up, we always had something stashed in the freezer in case someone popped in (this proved to be most helpful for my mother and Mims and has saved me on a few occasions).  Mims, and mom, always had fudge, quick breads and inevitably, a Pepperidge Farm cake or two at the ready.  I’m not as diligent throughout the year, but come fall, I’m steadfast in doing a bit of freezer friendly baking for the holidays.  Last week, I made biscotti from Ruth Reichl’s The Gourmet Cookbook and froze them in serving sized containers.  Have already taken two containers out as a quick little desert for guests.

Cinnamon Girl:  I’m a big fan of Maker’s Mark and make my own little concoction (as far as I’m aware no one else has come up with this).  Essentially, I do a Maker’s and seltzer and add cinnamon.  It’s a very simple way to get a bit of additional spice into one’s life.

Am doing some local New Jersey things for the remainder of the weekend.  My father is visiting and, I believe, we’ll either be going to Thomas Edison’s House or a farm in the Hudson Valley and, am inclined to say, we may even kill a chicken for brunch on Sunday.  Perhaps we’ll enlist the help of a few friends, one of whom, Manny, is Portuguese and an absolutely amazing cook.   Will fill you in on the details over the coming days.