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I need to be better in marking down the meals I create and recipes I’m riffing off of (I’m sure there’s an app for that, any suggestions?).  I go through phases where I’ll create a meal completely out of my culinary comfort zone.  These meals are cobbled together from the numerous cookbooks gracing my shelves, focus on a particular region of the world, and often call for about $100 worth of ingredients that I most likely will never use again — turmeric powder for a Mexican meal; fenugreek seeds for my Mediterranean meal.  Past highlight include a random rabbit recipe and a wonderfully flavorful Italian soup.  The reality is I wanted to make both this weekend but, for the life of me, I can’t find the recipes.  Other random thoughts for this Friday evening:

woodland cabin

Woodland Cabin, Warren, MA

Thanksgiving with Marley & Co: Last year Tony and I realized, on Nov 1st, that we had no plans for Thanksgiving.  With some fancy, yet furious, finger work (OK, Airbnb has eliminated that last minute booking panic), I found and secured a cabin in Warren, MA for the holiday and am tickled that we’ll be returning this year (I think we’ll be doing this for as long as Mary Jane will have us).  Woodland Cabin is a fabulous get-away in the southwest region of Worcester County, MA that serves up freshly laid  eggs from the on-site hens each morning; has three wonderful goats, Marley being the most playful, that will go on walks with you; and offers up approximately 80 acres of hiking trails for one’s enjoyment.  Tony is salivating at the prospect of cooking our meals over the open fire — they have a fireplace that’s large enough for me to walk into. We’ll blog throughout the weekend providing blow-by-blow run downs on Tony’s open-fire cooking.

Seasonal Things to Do:  I have two master “Things to Do” lists that I update annually with current year dates (another app I need). The lists — one for summer and another for the holiday season.  I need to update the Christmas list which will, of course, commence with the Cabin.  I’m feeling giving this year and will share some of my favorite must do’s throughout the season.

German Christmas Markets:  Speaking of a favorite thing to do…the market at Lake Mohawk in Sparta, NJ is worth the drive.  To be fair, last year was the first year I attended and I’ve only seen one other advert, just this year, for another local market.  But, one of my bucket list items is to do the whole, proper German/European Christmas Market thing. Until then, I’ll be satisfied with the Northeast’s markets.

Boozy Burbs: This is fun.  Thanks to my good friend Nancy, I’m now hip to Boozy Burbs, Greater Bergen County’s ‘not-so-secret ingredient’ to discovering all things culinary in the area, including Rockland, Hudson, Essex and Passaic county bordering towns. Check it out, it’s well curated and will answer most of your ‘where am I going; what am I eating this weekend?’ questions.

Restaurant Week:  Featuring Hudson Valley – Sometimes they’re in the spring, sometimes the fall.  In NYC, I believe, it’s in the dead of winter. But Hudson Valley’s Restaurant Week kicks off on Sunday.  I like these weeks, wherever they may fall, as they give you the opportunity to experience a new restaurant or revisit a perennial favorite at a rate tolerable for most pocketbooks.  Featuring both lunch and dinner meus, restaurants can be booked in advance on OpenTable (another great site that answers the ‘what’s going on?’ question). 

Chicken Stock Ice Cubes: And, for a Fun Tip, when making chicken stock, freeze cubes of the stock.  This will enable you to grab as many as you might need for smaller batch cooking — i.e. replacing water when making rice, using broth vs. water to steam vegetables, or to enhance the flavor of a canned soup.  Whatever your desire having cubes to work with is an easily wonderful way to pretend you’re an epicurean maven.

This weekend’s adventures may or may not entail a rabbit, if it’s to be Peter, we’ll definitely make note as to where the recipes are housed and will let you know all about our culinary adventures. Until then, happy trails and bon appetite …