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.


I just bought a Lodge cast iron grill pan and a Lodge cast iron panini press, and I am in love. Last night for dinner (and again for lunch today), I made panini. They tasted delicious, and the pan and press were easy to clean. (Also, both the pan and the press were made right here in the USA!) Here’s what to do:

Melt about four tablespoons of butter in the grill pan over low heat. Make a sandwich–I used Berlin Bakery non-GMO spelt bread, Hope Springs Farm grass-fed farmers cheese, and Wegmans organic turkey breast slices–and put the whole sandwich in the grill pan. Top it with the panini press.

Keep in mind that cast iron gets VERY HOT. Always use oven mitts with a suitable level of insulation when you handle the grill pan or the panini press.

Allow the sandwich to cook for about five minutes; then remove the panini press, flip the sandwich using tongs, and replace the panini press on top of the sandwich for another five minutes. Ta-da! Panini! My daughter said that she prefers my panini to Panera. Now that’s high praise!