Tag Archives: The Special Cabin in the Woods

Meyer Lemon Waffles in The Woods

February 2013

My oldest sister was in grad school for speech pathology when I was learning to read, so I made quite the guinea pig for her homework. When she began teaching in public schools, I would use my days off from school to accompany her on her teaching rounds, which is to say, I went to school when I didn’t have to. On one of those afternoons when I was her sidekick, she led a classroom full of kindergarteners in a little hand-clapping song- “Associate, associate, goooes together.” Then she would hold up an object, and they would make the obvious association. As an adult, I still find myself singing that jingle every now and then.

Cabin Creek View

When I think of the Special Cabin in the Woods, there are a few associations that come to mind. At the top of my list is brunch, specifically waffles! Beyond the practical fact that the cabin kitchen contains a waffle maker, and my own kitchen does not, there is just something so slow and calming about syrup pooling in waffle basins while the creek waters flow through the valley. When that cabin view is still icy, a flavor burst of citrus can do wonders for the winter soul. Associate, associate, they go together!

Meyer Lemon Waffles

Meyer Lemon Waffles

Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 organic eggs
1 Tablespoon pure cane sugar
2 Tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1 Meyer lemon, peeled and cut into small chunks

Directions

Preheat your waffle iron.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest and lemon chunks.

Pour mixture over the dry ingredients and whisk together until smooth.

Spoon batter into your waffle iron as directed by manufacturers instructions.

Cook until golden brown, crisp, and cooked through.

Serve waffles immediately with blueberries, maple syrup and a dollop of bourbon whipped cream (recipe follows).

Meyer Lemon Waffles Before and After

Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 pint organic heavy cream
Maple Syrup, to taste
1/4 cup bourbon

Directions

In a chilled bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the maple syrup and bourbon and continue to beat until combined.

Jack Daniels Blondies For A Plaid Weekend of Harlem Shaking

February 2013

Our common thread is a school so nerdy its mascot was Tartan plaid. When the eight of us gathered at that Special Cabin in the Woods, naturally, the occasion also called for plaid all around (and not one but two roasted chickens).

Plaid-Weekend

No matter how I describe this weekend, my words would pale in comparison to Doug’s poetic conclusion penned in the cabin’s visitor book. Thus, I am borrowing his prose:

As I sit here eating jack links premium cuts beef jerky, before shortly leaving to drive back to Philadelphia, I realize the eight of us who spent the weekend here, thanks to the generous hospitality of Jono and his family, have a great unknown future ahead of us, one filled surely with stardom and success and newfound celebrity status. And we have the cabin to thank. For it was here on the evening of February 16th that we filmed our version of the Harlem Shake viral video- the Cabin Fever Edition. Like any masterpiece, it will not be fully appreciated for its ingenuity and vivre for decades- or unless watched at least eight times. The filming of the video was not without its obstacles and roadblocks. We weren’t going to make it!…We made it! The 31 second video starring Jono, Dan, Ben, Kyle, JP, Quelcy, Doug and Diane has 251 views already on YouTube, and if my math is correct, at this rate, we should surpass 1 million votes by Memorial Day.

Clearly, the weekend at the cabin called for a Harlem Shake- A Cabin Fever Edition! Take away the plaid, and what do you get? A video worth watching at least eight times!

After all that, it was time for dessert- dessert and a nightcap in one!

Jack Daniels Blondies 01

Jack Daniels Blondies

Ingredients

16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) organic, unsalted butter, melted
2 cups pure cane sugar

2 large eggs (local/free-range)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup whiskey (Jack Daniels)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F

Butter a 9 x12 glass pan.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar, and beat until smooth.

Beat in eggs, and then vanilla.

Stir in the salt and flour.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake at 20-25 minutes.

Cool on rack before cutting.

Jack Daniels Blondies 02

While you’re eating one of these gooey, whiskey-y bars, you might want to listen to this song. Enjoy!

The Final Ode To A Cabin in Fall: Pumpkin Muffins

September 2012

After waffles became pancakes and wanders became fireside reflections, it was time to leave that cabin we love, but before we drove away, there was time for one more dosage of fall flavors.

Nothing brings out the pumpkin and spice flavors of these muffins like quiet views and the changing colors of leaves. Best eaten when warm with a mug of hot cider and someone you hold dear. These muffins should be savored as much as the place where you eat them. In our case, this was the final ode to the cabin in fall. The next time we see it, it will be a completely different place, perhaps even a place covered in a blanket of white?

Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

For The Batter

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/3 cup organic buttermilk
1 1/4 cups organic pumpkin pie filling (from a 15-ounce can)*

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3/4 cup organic light brown sugar
2 large eggs (local/free-range)

*You could use regular pumpkin puree, but the store was out when I shopped, so I just used the extra spice of pie filling to my advantage.

For The Sugar Coating

3/4 cup organic brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack

The Final Ode

As we wandered away, the road unfolded like a painting. The last Ode to the Cabin was a Sunday smile and a Sunday mile, and in some ways, it felt like a wander through time.

Happy Fall!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: Cookie Cups & Cartwheels

September 2012

When is the last time you really went outside and played?

When is the last time you flew through the trees?

When is the last time you ran like a fool? When is the last time you did a cartwheel?

There’s something about being at the special cabin in the woods that simplifies fun. Maybe it’s because we’re removed from typical routines or because no one is watching, or maybe because we’re just plain weird [magical]? Whatever the impetus, there we were playing outside, laughing and seeing the world from all angles. It took me back to a time when fitness was just an afternoon spent outside with friends.

Perhaps it was all the play that incited my craving for cookies. Perhaps I was transported to the time when I’d run inside with numb fingers and find a kitchen table covered in warm, fresh, gooey, chocolate-chip cookies.

One of the advantages of being a baking adult is I can make cookies when the craving hits. This time I was inspired by the ol’ cupcake form. Another advantage of being a baking adult is I can also be inspired by bourbon!

Bourbon, Cranberry & Pecan Cookie Cups
Makes 20 cookie cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw cane sugar
3/4 cup organic packed brown sugar
dash of nutmeg
1 cup organic, unsalted butter, browned
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 egg (local/free-range)

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (leaving a handful whole for garnishing)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries

Directions

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a cupcake pan with natural parchment liners.

Mix sugars, nutmeg, butter, extracts, bourbon and egg in large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture.

Stir in nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into lined cupcake pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until light brown.

Cool on wire rack, and go play!

weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Fall Flavored Lasagna

September 2012

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love – that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” -George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

I do find autumn to be quite delicious, especially when fall’s flavors are layered between noodles and cheese! The original Bon Appétit recipe called for broccoli rabe, which I replaced with brussels sprouts. Firstly, I associate those mini cabbages with fall more than broccoli rabe, and secondly, that’s what was available at my grocery store. I also used a brown rice noodle for the health and flavor merits, and this recipe could easily become a gluten free staple if you use an alternative flour (I only had whole-wheat pastry on hand). Extra dashes of red pepper flakes, added to the squash roasting stage, made for a kick of spice, contrasted by hints of cinnamon and nutmeg in the béchamel sauce.  Enjoy with hot cider or hard cider before your migration to successive autumns!

Squash and Brussels Lasagna

Adapted from my food publication deity, Bon Appétit.

Ingredients

Filling

1 local butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes

Fresh brussels sprouts (the typical grocery store sized bundle), rinsed, stalk removed and pulled apart into leaves

8oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
1/2 lb whole-milk ricotta
1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan
coarsely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Preparation

For the Filling

Preheat oven to 400°.

Place squash and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl; season generously with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss to coat squash evenly.

Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading out in a single layer, overlapping slightly.

Roast until tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Mix mozzarella and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.

*DO AHEAD Squash and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

Béchamel and Assembly

1/8 cup organic unsalted butter
1/8 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/2 cups (or more) organic half-and-half
Dash of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon
1 fresh bay leaf
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

10 oz Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles (Tinkyada)
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

Béchamel and Assembly

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Add flour; stir until slightly thickened (do not allow mixture to turn brown), 2–3 minutes. Increase heat slightly.

Slowly whisk in 2 1/2 cups half-and-half, 1/2-cupful at a time, allowing béchamel to thicken between additions (adding half-and-half gradually will help to prevent lumps from forming).

Add 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and cinnamon and bay leaf.

Reduce heat to low and cook, thinning with more half-and-half if too thick, until sauce is a milkshake–like consistency, about 10 minutes longer.

Cook lasagna noodles in a pot of well-salted boiling water until still quite al dente, 8–9 minutes. Transfer immediately to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; spread out noodles on a kitchen towel or baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing a kitchen towel or parchment between layers.

Ladle about 1/4 cup béchamel into a 11x9x2-inch baking dish; spread evenly over bottom. Line dish with a single layer of noodles, cutting as needed to fit (use large scraps in subsequent layers).

Layer 1/3 of squash over.

Scatter brussels sprouts leaves over the previous layer.

Dollop 1/3 of ricotta mixture randomly over greens.

Drizzle 1/2 cup béchamel evenly over ricotta mixture.

Repeat process 2 more times for a Total of 3 layers, finishing with a layer of noodles. Spread remaining béchamel over; top with Parmesan. Leftover noodles can be used for a freeform version with any leftover components.

*DO AHEAD Lasagna can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Return to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake lasagna uncovered until bubbly and starting to brown, about 45 minutes.

Turn oven to broil. Cook until browned and golden, 4–7 minutes.

Let rest for 20–30 minutes before serving.

No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring. 
-Samuel Johnson

May you taste the fruits of delicious autumn! Bon appétit!

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Shared Plate & Thoughts

September 2012

Printed words, sipped drinks, thoughts shared and a shared plate…these elements seemed to slow time in the best possible way…the way that makes me pause and question why more of my life is not this memorably simple. Every now and then, it’s inspiring to borrow someone else’s words to preserve these moments, and in this case, John Muir’s words take me back to that afternoon…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. 

“Adult Root Beers” with Art in the Age Root
& Charcuterie

With inexpressible delight you wade out into the grassy sun-lake, feeling yourself contained on one of Nature’s most sacred chambers, withdrawn from the sterner influences of the mountains, secure from all intrusion, secure from yourself, free in the universal beauty. And notwithstanding the scene is so impressively spiritual, and you seem dissolved in it yet everything about you is beating with warm, terrestrial human love, delightfully substantial and familiar. 

One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers’ plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. 

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

-John Muir

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Batter Resplatter

September 2012

Ambitious retreat.

When I think of the special cabin in the woods, I think of eating, conversing, wandering, sitting, talking, eating, sitting, warming, reading…. With the slower pace and simpler agenda, I consider each meal an opportunity for a brand new creative endeavor. I let the seasons inspire and try the recipes I’ve stored patiently in my arsenal. The meals link other aspects of my cabin memories, so heating leftovers doesn’t seem to do justice to the special cabin (instead we pack the leftovers for our return dinner). I tend to be overly ambitious in my menu planning, but sometimes a small measure can twist a leftover into the new experience I seek to create.

As my special one waffled his way through the large bowl of batter for our first brunch, his hunger and patience proved to be inversely proportional. Since we had plenty of waffles to eat, I saved the batter for a resplatter, in the form of pancakes, the following morn. Granted, this does not make me the Picasso of pancakes or a kitchen trailblazer by any means, but let this remind and with any hope, slightly inspire. With the addition of roasted kuri squash and a new whipping of cream, we had a new meal with half the steps and risked waste less.

“Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.”
-Mark Twain

Much like this avocado egg or these harvest nests, these ham cups are a blank canvas awaiting your cravings and creativity. In my case, I used leftover root vegetables from the previous night’s dinner, with a sprinkling of salty cheese, as the secret surprise ingredients beneath the egg top. Mushrooms and leeks would be delicious, par example.

Ham Cups

Ingredients

Organic Maple Ham
Local/Free-range eggs
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Veggies of choice
Cheese of choice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line each muffin cup with a slice of ham, letting it ruffle up the sides.

Crack an egg into each, sprinkle with a bit of cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve immediately, on their own on a plate or set in small dishes for extra support.

Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
“I’ll take the one on top.”
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Theresa smiles and says,
“I’ll take the one in the middle.”

-Shel Silverstein

Batter Resplatter Pancakes

This Pumpkin Waffle Recipe + Leftover Roasted Red Kuri Squash = A Brand New Pancake!

Whipped Cream

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form. Add the Snap liquor and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

enjoy!