Hope Vacation Highlights

I’ve been trying to have a real rest and change from my usual routine which means mostly staying off the internet. Nature cooperated by huge thunder storms that zapped the dsl box requiring the modem to be reset and the apple airport to be reconfigured (1 ½ hour drive to the nearest Apple store in the Rockway Mall but the genius bar was just that!). Now I can’t resist sharing these five photos from the past week. These first two are the Devil’s Food Cake from the upcoming book frosted with the Peanut Buttercream Marie Wolf wrote about and pictured on her new blog http://heavenlycakeplace.blogspot.com but pared with a spice cake. (Peeking out from the side are dried tart cherries that had been soaked in cognac! The nuts encrusting the side are dry roasted unsalted peanuts cut by hand to avoid nut dust--it was a very relaxing process.) My friend and neighbor Maria Menegus invited us to help celebrate her birthday at neighbors' Lorraine and Bob. When I asked her for her favorite cake flavors and she mentioned chocolate and peanut butter this rendition leapt to mind. Everyone contributed different dishes to the celebration and it was all fabulous: Marion’s potato salad with Joe Menegus’s winter storage potatoes (the best I’ve ever had), Lorraine’s spinach and strawberry salad (what a terrific combination of bitter and sweet) using Maria’s just picked spinach, Maria's spinach and cheese calzone, Bob’s marinated, grilled flat iron steak and surprise surprise—he roasts and grinds his own coffee! Before I went over to the Nespresso pod system I did the same but he is the first person I’ve met who also makes this effort. We left just as night was falling and a new moon rising. I made 12 caramel buns just for us for the week. I had trouble to stop eating this one in order to take the photo of it's gossamer texture. This last photo is of the largest turtle I have ever seen in the wild. We were walking up the hill to play tennis at the Inn at Mill Race and I was so shocked I thought it was a sculpture. But no—it was digging a hole into the side of the hill to lay its eggs. We will be following its progress—with great hope.