Leave it to the day of a road trip to Maine to mark our one year anniversary for the battery on my alarm clock to die. This is so funny that this happened because I knew I was secretly cursing myself when I told my mother that I have had the same battery in my clock for over 5 years now. The next day it stopped working…good luck, eh? Well anyway my husband did have energy to get up before the sun- now this never happens on a work day, but when it means a lake and fish are in his near future- he can wake up! So the battery incident only put us behind schedule by about 1.5 hours… not that bad because we still left at 5:45 am. Maybe you are wondering why on earth we were planning on leaving at 4am anyway. Well, if you have ever been to Maine, you would know why!
The drive was expected to take about 9.5 hours as quoted by Mapquest and Google directions, but I seriously wonder if they take into account the speed limits along the way before they write these directions or if they strictly go by mileage and an average speed of 60mph. The ride itself was a straight shot across the 401 into Upstate New York going east on Highway 11 around Lake Champlain and picking up Highway 2 across Vermont, New Hampshire, and into Maine. We passed through many scenic, historic towns that were full of charm. Each town was separated by miles of idyllic countryside providing spectacular glimpses of unspoiled land. It was easy to put corporate America aside along this drive as local dining establishments and antique stores were thriving in place of McDonald’s and shopping malls. We passed dozens of roadside vegetable stands, farms, and homemade country craft vendors. The biggest town we went through was Burlington, Vermont which is barely the size of a small New Jersey suburb. After about 5 hours in the car and not even out of New York yet, we were starting to doubt the validity of our directions. We knew there was no way we were going to go completely across 2 states and halfway across another in 4.5 hours. So we just enjoyed the ride for its peacefulness and lack of interstates and arrived at our destination nearly 13 hours after departing.
Once we turned onto South Mountain Drive we were totally at ease and one hundred percent in relaxation mode for 2 whole weeks! The street itself is nothing more than a gravel dirt road lined with wildflowers, ferns and evergreen trees, winding through the hills overlooking Great Pond in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine. It is gorgeous in itself. Our car twisted and turned down the road and memories from our wedding quickly came back. In July 2009 we got hitched in this very neighborhood with our closest friends and family. Now we are back to celebrate one year as well as Canada Day and the 4th of July!
Bob loaded up the fishing gear while I immersed myself in book #1 for the trip, The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Banks, which is turning out to be light vacation reading material. Once my ADD kicked in, I moved onto a whole stack of cooking magazines and thought about our meals for the next few weeks. We arrived at the onset of the fresh produce season, so I knew we were going to be eating well, especially because the cottage is located only a stone’s throw away from many local farms and in an area with farmer’s markets galore. Now can the patience hold out for Saturday’s Farmer’s Market, being that is only Friday!
There is just something about being at the cottage that makes me drift off into a state of euphoria. The rest of my afternoon and evening was spent making the most of this feeling. At the end of the day, we were able to witness a glorious full moon shining over the lake, slowly being put to bed by a blanket of clouds. What a wonderful ending to a beautiful day.
Morning came again and we were greeted by the glorious sun once again. We brewed a pot of coffee and made our way to the dock to begin our morning entranced by the lake’s calmness and beauty. This morning was a wonderful one for observing the wildlife that makes people return to Maine year after year. A pair of loons swam right up to the dock, less than five feet away from us, an otter paddled by, and a large heron swooped overhead. Along the shoreline, in the rocks, four little animals about the size of a grey squirrel scampered by while intermittently taking a swim in the water. It was so neat, but I am still unsure what they were. What a wonderful start to the day, but too bad I didn’t have my camera!
Mid morning we took a scenic drive down Route 27 in the direction of Farmington to hit up the Farmer’s Market. Farmington is a quaint little town with little shops and cafes. It even had its own moose walking around in boxer shorts! What a job that guy must have. Since it is still early in the season, only about a week ahead of Ontario’s season, there were not many farms representing quite yet. But the ones that were there were good enough for our needs. We picked up some fresh herbs; basil, chives, cilantro, and parsley, because lately I can’t seem to cook any other way than with them. We walked down a few stalls and browsed at the homemade pies, cookies, jams, and honey, until we came to the woman selling garlic scapes. Garlic scapes are still a new vegetable to me, but it was in Maine last year that I fell in love with this vegetable. It is simply the young green that grows during early summer at the top of the garlic plant. Scapes are eaten before the garlic bulb is harvested. They are pungent and full of that garlicky flavor that I love! The most interesting part about scapes is their unique shape- they twist, turn and curly cue. They look marvelous on one’s plate!
Once we returned home, I couldn’t wait to dive into my market goodies and create some delicious food that marked the beginning of summer. I marinated some chicken breasts in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, fresh chopped basil and parsley that would later be put on the grill. With the leftover marinade, I added some black olives and fresh lemon slices to be used as garnish later. I washed the scapes and sautéed them in olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper and served them with roasted red pepper hummus that unfortunately was not homemade. But it was organic and since I am on vacation in a cottage with bare essentials I made it work and besides the hummus was fabulous. I think there is no way to go wrong with pureed chick peas, garlic, and roasted red peppers anyway. After the chicken was grilled I placed it on top of the scapes that I arranged on the plate. I topped each chicken breast with a lemon slice and a black olive. On another plate, I prepared some tapas of marinated olives, chick peas, hummus, and crackers. What a delicious, healthy dinner.
Recipe Adapted From: Real Simple Makes: 4 servings
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
Sea salt/ pepper
1 lemon sliced
1. Wash chicken and pat dry. Pound into thin slices or butterfly pieces.
2. Whisk olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs until emulsified.
3. Place chicken into glass pan. Pour 3/4 of the marinade over the chicken and reserve the rest. Cover chicken and place in the refrigerator for a few hours. Turn chicken at least once.
4. Add olives and lemon slices to reserved marinade and refrigerate.
5. Grill chicken over medium heat until done.
6. Top with reserved marinade, olives, and lemon slices.
7. Serve with marinated chick peas, hummus, and grilled garlic scapes.
After dinner we enjoyed yet another moonlit evening over the lake and listened to the creatures of the night come out and enjoy their part of the day.
Awakened by rain pouring down and waves crashing to the shore, I quickly fell back into a peaceful sleep and slept in past sun up. This is rare at the cottage to sleep in except for the occasional rainy days, which are nice too.
We decided that we were going to kayak around Hoyt’s Island, which is located across from our cottage. From a distance it looks to be about a mile long and who knows how wide. We packed up some bottles of water and our life vests and headed out to the kayaks.
The water was a little rougher than the past few days, but hardly rough enough to meet the definition of rough in the world of true kayakers. We made our way out into the middle of the channel to cross the lake in a safe way so that fishing boats could easily spot us. We headed around the island staying pretty close to the shoreline when there wasn’t a home and moved further away when we approached a house. We didn’t want to be those spooky kayakers creeping too close to someone’s home..haha. The interesting part of this island is that the only way to get there is by boat so there are no cars on it and supposedly it is without electricity. Although I am in question of that a little since many houses had several lights on during the day and satelitte dishes were installed to bring in tv. Interesting?
Makes 4 servings
3-4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pepper, chopped
1-2 TBS chopped cilantro
Juice from 1 lime
Salt and pepper
1. Stir together all ingredients and chill in the refrigerator until cold.
2. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips.