Best Vacation Ever

Well, actually, the best vacation I ever had was my honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Earlier this week, though, my husband, our daughter, my mother, and I went to Knoebels Groves in Elysburg, PA, for the second-best vacation I ever took.

The place is amazing. It’s the largest free-admission amusement park in the country, and it truly is free admission. You enter for free, park for free, and are permitted to bring your own food and beverages to eat for free at the picnic tables and pavilions all around the park. You can buy tickets (which never expire) to pay for rides; you can also buy an all-day armband, which is what we did for my daughter. We stayed overnight in one of the “Eagle’s Roost” cabins, so we spent two full days at the park, including one great afternoon in the Crystal Pool.

Bringing your own food is a great way to save money; however, you might choose to try out the park’s food, which has won the “Golden Ticket” for best park food for 14 years in a row. On Wednesday, my mom treated us to lunch at the Roaring Creek Saloon, where all four of us enjoyed Monte Cristo sandwiches. I did not ask for the recipe, but here is how I would recreate this delicious lunch at home:

You can prepare two sandwiches at a time in a Lodge Grill Pan. Melt butter in the pan and roll it around (being extremely careful to use a potholder at all times) until the whole pan is coated with butter. Make the sandwiches, using (for each) two pieces of cinnamon bread, one slice of provolone cheese, two slices of turkey, and one slice of ham. Feel free to put mayonnaise on the bread (inside the sandwich). Put two sandwiches at a time in the grill pan and place a Lodge Panini Press on top. Let the sandwiches cook for a few minutes over low heat, then remove the panini press (being extremely careful to use a potholder at all times), flip the sandwiches (I use tongs do to this), replace the panini press (being extremely careful to use a potholder at all times), and cook the sandwiches for a few more minutes. And there you have it!

I can’t help you recreate the ambiance of the Roaring Creek Saloon in your own home. You’ll have to take I-78 to PA-61 North and taste the magic yourself.

A Party Isn’t a Party Unless There’s a Goat

Many years ago, during my first year at college, my roommate was a girl from Kenya. One afternoon, when we were talking about family celebrations, she remarked, “A party isn’t a party unless there’s a goat.” As it turns out, truer words were never spoken. Without further ado, my recipe for goat meatballs, fit for any party:

With your hands, mix one pound of ground goat, one cup of Orgran rice crumbs, two tablespoons of all-purpose seasoning, one teaspoon of sea salt, and 1/2 cup of ketchup. Form the mixture into one-inch balls, and place the meatballs in a Pyrex dish. Make sure you leave plenty of room between the meatballs, because after you cook them for 60 minutes at 350 degrees (uncovered), you’re going to turn them over with a fork and cover them with a maple-sugar-and-ketchup sauce, and then cook them (still uncovered) for another 30 to 45 minutes. Enjoy!

Hot Stuff

I know, I know–it’s too hot to make soup–but this is one of the tastiest and most nutrient-dense soups you’ll ever eat. I modified the recipe slightly from one in Judy Converse’s amazing book, Special Needs Kids Eat Right.

Cut one pound of bacon into one-inch pieces. Cook the entire pound of bacon by frying it in a saucepan. Set the cooked bacon pieces aside on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Peel and dice one pound of potatoes. Parboil the potatoes for five minutes in enough water to cover them, in a Dutch oven. After parboiling the potatoes, add the bacon, five diced shallots, one cabbage (cored and cut into chunks), and a generous sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to the Dutch oven. Add enough water or homemade chicken broth to the pot to cover all the ingredients, reduce the heat so that the stew simmers, and allow the stew to simmer for at least an hour. (I cover it so the water doesn’t evaporate too quickly, and I lift the lid periodically (with a potholder!) to stir the stew with a wooden spoon and add water, if necessary.

Serve with homemade bread (like the sourdough rye bread in Heidi Swanson’s book here, which I make with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour instead).