Sunday, August 31, 2008

Check Out These Dates!

From time to time, I check Chase's Calendar of Events for special food days. If I find one for a specific food used in one of my recipes in Cruising Connecticut, I often print that recipe on the back of my bookmarks and pass them out during a book signing. Recently, I shared Loaded Oatmeal Cookies during National Pecan Month (April) and Cold Marinated Asparagus during National Asparagus Month (May).

Although the following dates have absolutely nothing to do with day tripping or picnicking or even food, they gave me a smile and I hope they give you one as well.

We missed this one, but Happiness Happens Day on August 8th, is sponsored by the Secret Society of Happy People. This is about encouraging "the expression of happiness and discouraging parade-raining." I like it!

I don't remember what I was doing on August 8th. I assume I was happy, since most days I am, but I thought, why leave it to chance, and added the date to my 2009 calendar. (I know it seems early to have next year's calendar, but I already have two Cruising Connecticut book talks scheduled.)

Coming up on September 2nd ~ are you ready for this one? Be late for Something Day. "To create a release from the stresses and strains resulting from a consistent need to be on time." I knew this was an authentic group when I went to the sponsor's website (The Procrastinators Club of America) and it said, "Click! To see our predictions for 2004."

Well now, there appears to be a little rivalry between the procrastinators' group and the non-procrastinators' group, because the very next day ~ September 3rd, is "Do it! Day (aka Fight Procrastination Day.) The sponsor of this day, a Productivity Coach says, "Feeling overwhelmed? Too many things left undone? Hard to focus? Today is your day to turn your Do Its into Did Its!"

My personal favorite? On September 9th, we can celebrate, Wonderful Weirdos Day. "All of us are blessed with one or two wonderful weirdos in our lives. These are the folks who remind us to think outside the box, to be a little more true to ourselves. Today's the day to thank them. So give them a hug, and say 'I love you, you weirdo!' "

Hmmm, I wonder if I will get a hug!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Marlborough Barn Closing

I was saddened to learn in a recent letter mailed to customers, that Marlborough Barn has closed its doors. As of this date, they are marking down prices on the entire stock of merchandise to prepare for a Retirement Sale, reopening for an invitation-only sale on August 26th, 27th & 28th and to the general public from August 29th through Labor Day.

Marlborough Barn was a natural for inclusion in the Shopping Picnic section of Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket ~ the quality and variety of merchandise is unequaled, and the picturesque property, including duck pond with picnic tables makes picnicking a visual and relaxing experience.

Here is my opening chapter: "This may be a 'shopping picnic," but at Marlborough Barn it is also much more. As we wander through the Village, we discover treasures we didn't even know we wanted, oddities we have not seen anywhere else, and enough ideas to boggle the decorating mind."

On a personal note, I have been visiting this Connecticut Landmark with family and friends for as long as we can remember. For us, The Barn was always more than a destination; it was an event. One that will be missed.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Picnic Recipes

Last week, I told you about my exciting picnic at Gillette Castle State Park with Kara and Scot of Better Connecticut. Since then, so many people who saw the show remarked on how beautiful the table looked, I thought this week I would share more information about the recipes.

All the recipes are from Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket, but for those who do not have my book, here is how you can obtain most of them:

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies: posted on my April 12th blog.
Wild Rice and Ham Salad: presently posted on my website.
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade: recipe given below.
Fresh Fruit Kabobs: on 8" wooden skewers I threaded the following five pieces of fruit: Pineapple, strawberry, cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon.
Chicken Caprese: This recipe will not be posted because it was contributed by Les Harris, a Glastonbury Chef specifically for inclusion in Cruising Ct.

One of the reasons my picnic table looked so great is that when planning a menu, I make sure color is one of the key ingredients. Of course, I want the food to be a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, but color also guarantees a variety of healthy foods.

Speaking of color, in retrospect, I thought the table could have used a little more green and wished I had gone with my first instinct of adding my Cold Marinated Asparagus to the menu. Next time!

Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Lemonade is the ultimate hot weather drink, and this recipe finds the perfect balance between sweet and tart. There is an added step with the syrup-making process, but the result is well worth the effort.

4-6 ripe lemons ~ 1 cup water ~ 1 cup sugar

* Wash lemons. Cut in half. Squeeze lemons to make 1 cup. Depending on the lemons, you may get less juice. If necessary, adjust the water and sugar accordingly. Set aside.
* Cut half of the squeezed lemons in slices and remove rinds.
* Put water and sugar in covered saucepan. Add rinds. Bring to a boil. Remove cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
* Remove from heat and cool. Strain into pitcher. Add the lemon juice and 5 1/2 cups cold water. Stir and refrigerate.
* Servings: 6 eight-ounce glasses.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Special Picnic at Gillette Castle State Park

My daughter, Holly, and I went on a picnic recently to one of my favorite spots at this time of year, the pond at Gillette Castle State Park. And, I invited some very special people to join us ~ Kara Sutherland and Scot Haney from Better Connecticut, WFSB.

Of course, they brought a cameraman along, who taped an informal interview about my book, Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket, and artfully zoomed in on the colorful picnic table. Then we dug in. The menu consisted of Chicken Caprese, Wild Rice and Ham Salad, Fresh Fruit Kabobs, Loaded Oatmeal Cookies, and Holly's Fresh Squeezed Lemonade.

All the recipes are from my book of course, although none happened to be in the suggested menu for Gillette Castle. I just sort of grabbed recipes from various day trips, which is what I usually do and have suggested my readers do as well.

What a great visit we had with Kara and Scot, and they loved the picnic. You can see the video that was shown on Better Connecticut on August 1st by going to my website, and clicking on About the Author. You will find the link at the top of the page.

Now, most of you already know that this is an amazing State Park, but you may not know about the list of fantastic Upcoming Events:

September 20th ~ Gillette Family Day with various activities, including the Essex Steam Train.
October 4th ~ Wine Tasting, Hors d'Oeurves, music, silent auction and more.
November 11th ~ Lecture on the construction of the Castle and grounds.
December 21st ~ Magic Lantern Theater with their world renown act.

Check the following website for more information:

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Vineyard News

This is a great time to visit the wineries featured in Cruising Connecticut 2nd Edition. And, don't forget your picnic basket!

A recent email from Haight-Brown Vineyard in Litchfield brings news that the grapes are on the vines. This means of course, that they are in the midst of their busy wine-making season. Still, they have an ambitious Events Calendar, with exciting happenings almost every weekend through 2008.

Choose from a range of different wine Classes to Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Pairings, to a Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour & Bounty Lunch. Autumn features a Harvest Festival and an exciting Harvest Rail Vineyard Express. Check it all out at

In New Preston, Hopkins Vineyard, announces a brand new wine, Lady Rose.

Their annual Harvest Festival Celebration, which takes place September 20th & 21st features Wine Tasting with Complimentary Wine Glass, Live Music, and Artisan Cheese, Pate and Fresh Fruit Sampling. Or, bring along the awesome Sandwiched Meat Loaf recipe paired with this day trip in Cruising Connecticut. *

Gouveia Vineyard in Wallingford, has live entertainment every Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00 pm.

Their awesome picnic facilities, both inside and out, include a large comfortable room that was built especially to encourage visitors to "come visit us for a spell."

Each of these vineyards consistently produce award winning wines. Check their website often for a list of wines, as well as updates on future events.

* If you do not have Cruising Connecticut send me an email and I will be happy to forward recipe. (