Grace organized a group of us to go to the Women’s March in DC. Grace picked up Sophia at school at 1:00 and then picked Jack and I up in University Circle and we were on our way. We drove to Pittsburg to pick up Grace’s friend Taylor and then had a not so fun ride through the mountains in dark, foggy and rainy conditions. We made it to DC around 9:30 and quickly checked into our digs at the Hotel Harrington. We hit the streets for a night monument walk. We walked through the debris of the Right to Life march that occurred that afternoon and then walked past the Washington Monument, WW2 monument, Korean monument, and strolled down the reflecting pool to the Lincoln Memorial. Little did we know that just a few hours earlier the infamous standoff between the MAGA Covington boys and Native Americans was going on right there. We then took the route back walking in front of a dark white house. Washington was almost deserted. Kind of creepy. We didn’t get back to the hotel until 11:30 and then had some drinks at Harry’s Bar at the Hotel Harrington that was actually hopping with a bunch of DC millennials.
Saturday, January 19th, 2019
We all slept well, had a quick breakfast at au bon pain and hit the pavement. The Women’s March changed locations about three times over the past week because of the government shut down and the political infighting of the group and the final location was actually just a block away from our hotel. We got there around 9:30 and enjoyed walking around looking at the signs and enjoying the positive atmosphere. The crowds quickly grew and grew and the march finally took off around 10:30 going down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Trump Hotel and then looping back around 2 blocks. It took about two hours as there were so many people and log jams. It was a great experience and it’s great that the weather held out as rain was threatening the entire time. We hung out at the stage for a short time – not really into listening to the speakers. Everything was still closed because of the government shut down so we walked down the other end of the mall and then went for a late lunch at Matchbox on 7th and H. The girls went shopping for the rest of the afternoon and Jack and I slept. We had dinner at Capital City Brewing Company and then hung out at the hotel for the rest of the night as it was pouring rain. Grace and Taylor had another fun night at Harry’s bar and didn’t come back to their room until late.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
We had a good breakfast at the old school Lincoln Waffle shop around the corner and then hit the road around 10:00. We made it to to Pittsburgh and back to Cleveland before 5:00PM luckily avoiding the bad weather that stalled for awhile. A fun quick road trip.
We make this vegetarian gluten free gravy every thanksgiving as a second gravy option because everyone needs gravy on their mashed potatoes and stuffing for Thanksgiving. I use vegetable broth instead of turkey broth and leave out the tarragon because I don’t like tarragon.
Mixed Mushroom and Tarragon Gravy
Bon Appetit – 2010
2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms (PJH: I use just 1/2 – 1 ounce as they are so pricey)
4 1/4 cups Ultimate Turkey Stock or low-salt chicken broth, divided (PJH: I use vegetarian broth to keep in vegetarian)
1/2 cup crème fraîche
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
Place dried porcini in large bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let stand until soft, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Using slotted spoon, transfer porcini to small bowl. Cool porcini, then chop. Pour porcini soaking liquid into medium bowl, leaving sediment behind.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Stir 15 seconds. Add fresh mushrooms, thyme, and sage. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to bowl. Add vermouth to skillet; boil 3 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Add 4 cups stock, fresh-mushroom mixture, porcini, and porcini liquid. Boil 10 minutes. Whisk in crème fraîche. Stir 1/4 cup stock and cornstarch in bowl to dissolve; mix into gravy. Cook until gravy coats spoon, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Perfect, flavorful and moist chickens every time. We always do two chickens with one recipe of brine and one recipe of fruit/veg on our Weber smokey mountain smoker for 4ish hours at 250 degrees (and throw some sausages on the second shelf for last two hours). Definitely do the overnight brine. The trimmings and carcass make great smokey stock for soup.
Mix all of the ingredients together in whatever container is needed for the amount of meat you have. (PJH: two Costco chickens brined in big huge stock pot)
Add your meat and don’t forget it MUST be refrigerated. You can brine for a few hours, overnight, or for several days!
When you remove your meat from the brine, thoroughly rinse with cool water. Pat dry and your meat is ready for spices/rubs and off you go!
1. Brine the chicken – overnight if possible.
2. Chop the lemon, onion, apple and garlic cloves. Throw them in a bowl and mix together with salt, pepper and olive oil. Set aside.
3. Take your chicken out of the brine and rinse with cool water. Set on a tray. Now take the mixture you just made and stuff it inside the chicken.
4. Rub olive oil all over your bird. This will help give it a nice golden brown color. Then sprinkle salt and pepper all over, and a light dusting of paprika for color.
5. Set up your grill for indirect cooking (or use your smoker).
6. Place your bird away from the heat, and throw a bunch of wood on your coals. Stick with fruit wood – apple is a good pairing with chicken. Assuming your grill holds its temp around 250, and depending on the weight, your chicken will cook for 3 – 5 hours. You want an internal temperature in the leg of 170. If the bird is bigger or your heat is lower, it will take longer to reach this temperature.
7. Let the chicken rest for at least 20 minutes before pulling apart or slicing.
Courtney and I both took a needed day off for a long weekend adventure. We have been casually biking the Ohio and Erie towpath trail for the past two years. The only part we had left was the very southern end which is almost an hour and a half drive away. So we decided to make a weekend of it, find a nice place to stay and knock it all off at once. The furnace people showed up right at 8:00AM as scheduled for boiler maintenance and were gone by 9:00 and we hit the road. We stopped at the new Whole Foods that just opened up on Harvard/271 and stocked up with lots of goodies. Thank goodness it’s not closer or it would drive us to the poor house. We then kept driving south for a visit to Stan Hywett Hall in Akron – another item on our bucket list that we’ve always wanted to do but haven’t. Stan Hywett Hall was built in 1911 by F.A. Seiberling, founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. It was much bigger and nicer than we expected. It’s actually the 6th largest residence in the US. We went on a guided tour of the house that took about and hour and a half and then spent another hour wandering through the large well kept gardens. The house and grounds have been kept in great shape. Everything in the house is original to the family and the gardens are beautiful. We spent way more time than expected at Stan Hywett so we adjusted our plans on the fly, eating our Whole Foods sushi in the car instead of going out to lunch as planned. We wanted to get a loop in on the trail and a rain storm was forecasted to blow in around 5:00PM. We got to the trailhead in Clinton, OH where we previously left off and biked for about 20 miles. It was a hot and humid day – hopefully the last one – so we sweated like pigs but were happy to be on the towpath. We got to our Airbnb around 5:00PM in the middle of nowhere Navarre, OH and were very happy with our great little house. It was a teeny little stone house build in 1846 that has been beautifully restored. Original wood beams, great open floor plans. Really nice. Also just $80/night and 1 block from the towpath. Perfect. Check it out. We unpacked, took a shower, sat on the great front porch, drank (too much) wine, watched the storm roll in and watched the pick up trucks roll by. We were enjoying the house too much so again altered our well though out plans and blew off going out to dinner and ordered a pizza and played scrabble. Perfect night.
Saturday, September 22nd, 2018
After morning chilling and a leisurely breakfast we were on the towpath by 9:30AM to knock out our largest stretch from Navarre to Bolivar to Zoar to the anticlimactic end of the trail on OH Route 800. 30 miles total – the longest we’ve biked in one stretch. It was way cooler out after the storm which made it much more pleasant. We stopped on the loop back at Bolivar for lunch at a place called Sublime Smoke Fine BBQ and Craft Brew. It turned out to be a great place. We each had a beer, Courtney had a brisket sandwich and I had the pulled pork sandwich and we split some collard greens and Mac and cheese. All very good. We hit the trail again and rode back with no troubles. After relaxing for awhile we drove up to Gervasi Vinyard for dinner. A 30 minute drive up to Canton. We had a nice dinner in their dining room reconfigured from an old barn. We had wine flights, had some more wine for dinner and then a nice meal. They had a great patio that would be nice in warm weather and beautiful grounds. We headed back to Navarre and fell asleep watching a movie.
Sunday, September 23rd, 2018
We had about 20 miles left of biking to complete today. We did the first 10 from the house in the morning. We packed up, said goodbye to the house and then drove to the trailhead to finish off our last 10 miles. Hurray all done. We got a hold of Claire and Corey and met them for lunch at Mustard Seed Cafe in Akron. It was nice to catch up with them and had a nice meal listening to the duo that was playing good songs in the restaurant. We hit the road and made it home in the early afternoon.
Nothing better with good fresh corn. I like this recipe that we made recently with some local Ohio Corn
4ears of corn(or 4 cups / 750g / 1.5 lb frozen or canned corn, drained)
250 g / 8 oz bacon, chopped
2 tbsp / 30 g butter(use 3 tbsp if bacon is lean)
1garlic clove, minced
1small onion, diced (or half large onion) (yellow, brown or white)
5 tbsp / 60gflour
2cupschicken broth, low sodium preferred
3cupsmilk(I used skim milk and it was fine)
600 g / 1.2 lb potatoes, cut into 1 cm / 2/5″ cubes (about 2 large)
2sprigs of thyme OR 1 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup / 185 mlcream
3/4 cupshallots, green part finely sliced (green onions / scallions)
Salt and finely ground pepper to taste
Cut the corn off the cob. Place a small ramekin in a large bowl. Place corn on the ramekin then cut the corn off. Keep naked cobs.
Place 1 tsp butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove onto a paper towel lined plate. Leave fat in pot.
Lower heat to medium high. Add 2 tbsp butter, once melted, add garlic and onion. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes until onion is translucent.
Add flour and mix it in. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add broth, milk, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf. Break naked cobs into 2 or 3 and add into the liquid. Put the lid on and simmer for 25 minutes (adjust heat so it’s simmering energetically but not bubbling like crazy or super gently).
Remove lid, remove corn cobs. Add corn and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked to your taste.
Stir through cream and 3/4 of the bacon and shallots. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining bacon and shallots.
Grace is doing a twelve week internship at Boyd Gaming in Las Vegas so Courtney and I went to visit her for a long weekend of fun and frivolity. We worked all day and caught the rapid to the airport to take an early evening flight. We got to Vegas with no problems and Grace picked us up and drove us to our hotel, the Mirage. We forced ourselves to stay up to 11:00PM Pacific time by walking around for a bit and having a drink in one of the many bars in the hotel.
Thursday, July 12th, 2018
We slept pretty well and didn’t end up getting up too early. We hit the Mirage buffet around 8:00AM as it was included in the good deal we got for the weekend. We don’t have much experience with buffets but this one sure seems awfully nice. Everything we had was great – except the coffee,(No it was really bad-cbh) but I’m a snob. I had fruit, cinnamon rolls, banana Nutella pancakes, bacon, pork belly, tamales on and on. Just a little bit of each but it was a great meal. We then took to the strip for a nice morning stroll taking in the sites: north past Treasure Island and then walked around inside the Wynn. Went back to the hotel and were at the pool by 10:30. The pool was awesome with lots of palm trees, waterfalls and Pina coladas. We had a lunch reservation at a place we wanted to go to but bagged it as we were enjoying lazing by the pool. We opted for a mid day happy hour meal later on instead. After a short siesta we hit the pavement again walking through the humongous Caesar’s palace and then looped back to the Venetian where we were meeting Grace. We had drinks and really good food at Canonita where Grace and her friend Julie eventually met us. We took off for the Mirage afterwards as we had tickets for Cirque De Soleil’s LOVE. I have been wanting to go to this show for years and years and was so excited to finally be able to go. It was great. The staging, acrobatics, lighting, music and everything was amazing. After the show we grabbed a daiquiri for the road and joined the throngs on the strip. We walked through the Bellagio, watched the fountains a couple of times and ended up back at the Mirage having pancakes for a late night meal. We said goodbye to Grace who lyfted back to her place and quickly crashed after a long day.
Friday, July 13th, 2018
We slept really well and were quickly getting acclimated to west coast time. We hit the buffet again for another breakfast feast and then walked some it off checking out other spots. We liked the Linq Promenade which was pretty new and found a nice store where we bought a few things. We ubered out to the Orleans – a casino off the strip- where Grace’s office was. Grace showed us around, introduced us to her colleagues and we had lunch at a place there with Grace and Julie. Grace was able to get the afternoon off so we went back to the UNLV dorm where she was living to get a few things and then headed back to the Mirage to spend the afternoon at the pool like good Las Vegas tourists. The pool was hopping but we managed to get a spot and had a good time cooling off in the pool, people watching and drinking too many pool drinks. We ubered over to Fremont street. We had tickets to see magician Mike Hammer at the Four Queens. It was fun. 50% magic and 50% comedian. He was really good though. Grace got pulled up to the stage for one of the tricks. After the show, we took in the crazy sights on Fremont street– people zip lining overhead, street performers, classy tourists… We checked out the Container Park, an area with repurposed containers turned into small shops, restaurants and bars. We sat outside at one of the bars. I had a very good Manhattan while we listened to a good Indigo Girls sort of band. We then went a couple blocks down town and had dinner at Carson Kitchen and a great late night meal. We sat on their roof top patio with the rest of the hipsters and split tempura green beans, gyro tacos, a butter burger and tater tots. We walked back down Fremont Street and each headed back to our separate places after a fun night.
Saturday, July 14th, 2018
We slept in past 8:00AM Vegas time. We got our stuff packed up and then headed down to the breakfast buffet which turned out to be a brunch buffet since it was Saturday and ended up having even more food… shrimp, prime rib, Chinese food, good desserts… can get used to this life. We checked out around 10:30 and rented a car to go exploring. We picked up Grace and headed to Mount Charleston – state park about an hour drive west of Las Vegas. It was interesting to see how built out Las Vegas is getting and then it abruptly ends at the mountains. The mountains were beautiful. The elevation was pretty up there. We stopped at the welcome center in the park and soaked in the views and then went on about an hour hike up up up the mountain that was supposed to end at a waterfall but we never were able to find the waterfall. It was fun to see something different – and so different than Las Vegas. The elevation made the hike tougher than we expected. We drove back to Las Vegas and went to Town Square Park – an outdoor mall place – and had late lunch/early dinner at Yard House – a sports bar with lots of beer choices. It was nice to get out of the heat as it was super hot out.–it felt like we were standing in front of an open oven. We still had some time to kill before we had to get to the airport so we did the Vegas thing and went to the Hooter’s casino and played blackjack for an hour. The only gambling we did all weekend except for 15 minutes before the show on Friday. Grace and I started with $20 each playing the cheap blackjack table and ended with a total of $100. It was fun. We said goodbye to Grace dropping her off at the nail salon to spend our $60 winnings and then headed to the airport to drop the car off and head back home on the red eye. The red eye is as bad as it sounds, as usual, but we made it back to CLE at 4:00AM, ubered home and were happy to be home after a fun long weekend.