Saturday, May 24, 2014

Road Trip!

I had the amazing opportunity for the past three years to live in the same city as one of my sisters, Jeannie.  We had a great time but unfortunately the Coast guard decided to move her for her next assignment to Boston.  Well as sad as that news was it meant a road trip to Boston!

My mom and Jeannie started out in Tahoe and I'll be having them guest blog shortly about the first part of the road trip but I joined up with them in Chicago.  This is us at the O'Hare airport in Jeannie's verrrrrry crowded car!  It was a cozy drive for a little bit :)

We drove this way from Chicago to Akron where my mom flew out.  Along this way we took a little detour to Michigan so that Allison could get a new state.  It should be noted that Jeannie reached state #50 with North Dakota but I'm sure there will be more about that in her blog post.

I truly can't think of anyone that I would love to travel with more!  I love all of these ladies!

After dropping my mom off we head up to the Buffalo area to hang out with our good friend Melissa.  Melissa's sister, Colleen, went to the Coast Guard Academy with Jeannie so our families have been close since the girls were in school.  Melissa is my fellow big sister, cougar, manatee lover and runner friend.

She showed us around her cute town of East Aurora, NY and let us stay in her cute barn-turned-apartment.  We couldn't have asked for a better hostess or time in NY!

Next up was a visit to Niagara Falls.  They were very impressive to see although it was definitely a tourist trap and surprisingly industrial.  

Of course a trip this close to the Canadian border would not be complete without a stop a Tim Horton's.  Apparently it's the Canadian version of Dunkin Donuts.  We had some tasty coffee and Timbits (donut holes.)

We also stopped to take a little hike around the Lake Geneva, one of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  We obviously had to take a picture with our fingers and the lake (if you look at them on a map the are long and skinny - like fingers!)

As you may have noticed the Crump girls do like our sweets so we stopped for frozen custard.  We had never really heard of it and think it's an east coast thing.  The difference between ice cream and frozen custard are the eggs.  Ice cream is made with egg whites and frozen custard is made with egg yolks.

After a long day of driving we made it to Boston around 9:00 pm, unloaded the car, threw on our Red Sox gear and enjoyed dinner out in Jeannie's new city!  Unfortunately I had to fly out early the next morning but I can't wait to come back to Boston to visit - it's a great place!  It was a fun road trip and adventure with some of the greatest people around!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Happy Chocolate Chip Day!

Yes, you read that correctly.  It is chocolate chip day and it's awesome!  Of course there are many ways to celebrate this holiday from chocolate chip cookies to just eating a handful of choco chips straight from the bag (no shame in that :) but I decided to celebrate with chocolate chip pancakes.  I was inspired by this article that my boyfriend recently sent me.  He knows I love pancakes and running and this article proved that my love of pancakes is actually a good thing for after I run.  Win-win!

I usually just make pancakes for myself so this recipe for Joy the Baker, the single lady pancake, is perfect for me!  Plus I love to eat one GIANT pancake - it's the best!

You can add anything to the pancake - blueberries, raspberries, strawberries - but since we have a special holiday today I thought that chocolate chips were most appropriate (ok, every time I make this recipe I think it's appropriate necessary to put in chocolate chips.  I mean c'mon I have to go through this large Costco bag somehow!)

Enjoy celebrating chocolate chips today and let's be honest, every day!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie day!

Yes, another random (yet yummy) food holiday and this has to be one of my favorite ones (although yesterday with Buttermilk Biscuit day ranks pretty high too - remember these?)

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to bake any cookies today but Jeannie and I did another chocolate chip cookie tasting.  Yes, we're still working on six best chocolate chip cookies in SF.

This time we went to D'urso.  I was a little skeptical that an Italian deli would have delicious chocolate chip cookies but I was willing to try anyways.  We went after lunch and the cookies looked like they had been sitting in the display for a while (more skepticism) but the guy threw in an extra cookie for free (less skepticism.)

We sat outside in the warm sun which probably melted the cookies a little bit - always a good thing - giving them the fresh-out-of-the-oven warmth.  These were delicious cookies!  They were very soft in the middle and were nice and chunky.  I tend to not like thin cookies but much prefer ones shaped more like a hockey puck.  I would rate these pretty high on the cookie scale and recommend coming back down here for a cookie!

Smiles all around thanks to chocolate chip cookies!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Yes it's a holiday...National Grilled Day Day!

Today, April 12, is national grilled cheese day.  Yes, that wonderful cheesy, comforting deliciousness has its very own celebrations today and boy was I excited!

Lucky for me I work next to a yummy place called The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen so we knew we had to make a lunchtime visit there today.  I arranged a group of my coworkers to walk up there and celebrate.  Not only is their food delicious but they are so nice and accommodating as well.  There was an issue with their online ordering system canceling our orders without our knowledge yet the staff moved us to the front of the line and got our order together as fast as they could (despite a huge line.)  It prompted me to write my first Yelp review (it was a good one, don't worry.)

My lovely sister Jeannie was able to join us as she just flew back from Virginia.  It was so good to see her!  (she was gone for a month!)

We split the Mac'n'Cheese Grilled Cheese and to make it "healthier" I added arugula, roasted tomatoes and grilled onions.

I must say that this was a lot of carbs but it way really good!  I mostly wanted to try it because a) I've never had mac'n'cheese in a sandwich and b) how can you not love that winning comfort food combination?!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Easter Traditions

Ok, so I know Easter was now over a week ago but it's still the Easter season so this post is completely relevant!

When we were kids we used to go every year to my great-aunt Eileen's ranch for a big family Easter egg hunt.  It was a blast!  The tradition died for a few years in junior high and high school but then my cousin Natalie revived it a few years ago and now we have a whole new generation of kiddos enjoying the egg hunt!

She owns about 17 acres - fortunately we don't use the whole space for the egg hunt!

But it is tough to find all the eggs, especially among cow pies :)

Also, there is always a golden egg each year (and this year a silver.)  It is a BIG deal to find it and this year Little Buddy was the winner with Gavin getting the silver!

Another tradition is the piƱata.  We've been doing this since we were kids and I don't know what it is but everyone loves it.

The next generation in our family: Gavin, Elise, Ellie and Ethan going through their loot.

We also do games for the kids each year and it's fun to see them try and play.  They are trying to balance the egg on the end of a spoon here while trying not to touch it.  Key word: trying.

Always lots of fun cousin time!

And the whole group!  I'm very lucky to have such a great place to spend a wonderful holiday with most of my family!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Last Meal

Saturday was our last day in the mid-South (I think that's what they cal the Tennessee/Kentucky region) and we kept up our eating regimen.

First up was a trip to the Readyville Mill.  My mom read about this great place in Relish magazine (it comes with the newspaper) and we knew we had to visit.

It is an old grist mill dating back to 1812.  It has now been restored and still operates.

The coolest thing is that they still grind corn and flour and use it in their restaurant!  

So flour that was ground that morning is used in biscuits that we were served at breakfast.  The biscuits are made with part whole wheat and part white flour and they were heaven (side note: I don't think I've eaten as many biscuits ever as I did on this trip!)

I read the menu online and totally thought I'd go with pancakes.  But we talked to someone in the woodworking shop outside the mill and she suggested a blueberry french toast casserole and tomato pie.  We decide to take her suggestion and got the Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast Strata (really with a name like that, why wouldn't you order it?!)

And the Tomato Pie.  I know it sounds funny but it is amazzzzzzing!  It like a tomato gallette with the yummiest, flakiest crust and lots of cheese.  I even liked the grits!

The food was very tasty and everyone was SO friendly!  I think they were a little surprised that we came all the way from California but when we see good food, we go for it!  They brought us out biscuits and answered all of our questions and everything was just fantastic!

The grounds are also a great place to get married.  It was a little hard to picture on this cold, grey morning but I bet once the flowers and trees are in bloom this place would be perfect for a country chic wedding!

Next up was another typical Tennessee thing: moon shine tasting!

We heard about Short Mountain Distillery from the hotel we were staying at and thought what the heck, how many times am I gonna try moon shine?

Moon shine is made similarly to whiskey except it's not aged.  It's made with rye and sugar cane in copper vats.  I had once heard a rumor that moon shine made wrong will turn you blind.  This comes from too much iron in the moon shine and that's why copper pots are used.

All in all, it was a fun experience!  I guess kinda the Tennessee version of wine tasting?

Our last stop on the trip was the Hermitage.  This was the home of Andrew Jackson.  If anyone knows my mom and me then you know we love history!  We visited a couple of presidential libraries and this seemed similar.

Jackson built his home in the early 1800's.  His first home on the estate was a simple log cabin before he built this lovely home as it looks today.

The house is done in the Greek Revival fashion as was common for the time period.  Americans liked the Greek Revival style as they felt that they descended from the similar democratic thoughts as the Greeks and sought to emulate the Greeks in other ways as well.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

And the state count continues...

Next stop on my three state weekend trip was Alabama!

We drove over the border to the little town of Ardmore which straddled both Tennessee and Alabama.  Not too much in this part of Alabama...pretty much little po dunk towns.

I guess this bar couldn't decide who to support.  But the only for sure thing you knew to root for were the gold fish races held at the bar! 

We then quickly headed back into Tennessee!

Out next stop was Lynchburg, home of Jack Daniel's. Here is the iconic Jack Daniel on the rocks. Note this statue is larger than life size: Jack (his original name was Jasper – no wonder he changed it!) was only 5'2”.

Jack Daniel Tennessee whiskey is made in the same way it's been made since the beginning. The ingredients are corn, rye and barley. What makes Tennessee whiskey unique and different from bourbon or other whiskeys around the is that it is filtered through charcoal the take out impurities. Jack Daniel also only uses water from the spring that flows on the property and uses mostly local ingredients.

Jack Daniels is stored in oak barrels that are handmade on the property. The barrels are charred on the inside to give the whiskey a nice flavor. It's also interesting to note that their barrels are only used once and after that are sold to other companies (Tabasco buys the largest amount of barrels.)

Their barrels are stored in big barrels houses from about 6-8 years. Each level of the barrel house ages the whiskey in a different way due to the heat changes in the different levels. All of these barrels are combined to create the unique taste and the perfect combination that is determined by color and taste – nothing computerized about it. Must be a tough job to taste Jack all day :)

We also felt we had to eat a Moon Pie since they are an iconic Southern/Tennessee treat. They are made locally in Chattanooga.

We tried a chocolate one.

And a vanilla one. They are all made with marshmallow and graham cracker and dipped in either the chocolate or vanilla coating. They were a tasty sugary treat!

Next up was dinner. We thought it might be a trouble finding a place in the South that served a meatless meal (after all this was a Friday in Lent and everywhere we'd eaten had been heavy on the pork side.)

I'll admit I was unsure about Legendary (?) Joe's Place but it was good! Note the paper towel rolls instead of napkins. Let's just say it was laid back type of place but everyone there was sooooo nice! Truly, they gave us samples of things we'd never heard of before (white beans? corn nuggets?) and were just a delight to chat with.

We both had the fried catfish (a first!) I had mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, hush puppies and cornbread. My mom had the same except she had the corn nuggets (corn but made into something like a tater tot...corn tot?) We also had the have sweet tea because what's a few more calories when you're eating everything fried?!

The dinner was yummmmmy! We were even talked into getting the chocolate pie (sorry it was devoured before a photo could be taken!)

And also a Piggly Wiggly. Those, like churches, are basically on every corner here in the South.