Finger Lakes Favorites

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

I love the rolling farms, beauty, and quietness of the Finger Lakes. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend and never leave the house – between kayaking, hammock-reading, waterskiing, third-cup-of-coffeeing, s’moreing and floating – it’s an active weekend if we manage to bring out the croquet set or Settlers of Catan. Heck, going for a morning run (past horse and buggies no less) is a victory in my book!

Here are a few of my favorite things to do (when I do manage to leave the water!):

 

I love poking around The Windmill  on a Saturday morning for some marketing shopping / junk hunting. With a mixture of everything from homemade Mennonite loaves of bread, to handmade jewelry, to festival food tents, to vintage dishes, to t-shirts with wolves on them, you’ll find a wide assortment of goods at the Windmill. Parking is free and it’s worth checking out for an hour or two.

 

The Finger Lakes  - The Windmill

 

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

I’m totally biased when it comes to Belhurst Castle – I love it because we got married here! The Belhurst grounds are beautiful. The original castle was once a speak-easy, and is now home to two restaurants, gift shop, wine-tasting, hotel, and spa. They have a big brunch here on weekends, or you can grab dinner at Stonecutter’s restaurant in front of a fire pit. And, in case you’re in the market, it’s a great place for a wedding!

The Finger Lakes - Belhurst Castle

Fox Run Winery is a beautiful winery on Seneca Lake just south of Geneva. Wine tasting is popular all throughout the Finger Lakes, but I love Fox Run for it’s delicious cafe and front balcony with gorgeous views. We had our Rehearsal Dinner here in the barrel room and it was a blast! Fox Run is also home of the annual Garlic Festival (which I still have yet to make it to!).

The Finger Lakes - Fox Run

The Finger Lakes - Fox Run The Finger Lakes - Fox Run
The Finger Lakes

If you are in the Finger Lakes in July or August, you must go blueberry picking! Not only is it supremely relaxing, but you can get organic blueberries for $1.99/pound! My favorite place to go is Serendipity. I love blueberry picking not only for the delicious fruit, but also the lovely wildflowers!

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

Looking for other things to do in the Finger Lakes? Try hiking Grime’s Glen, eating at the Airport Diner, picking apricots, or hiking in Watkin’s Glen.

I can never decide if I love lakes or oceans more. Does one really need to choose?

An Afternoon in Stockbridge

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A few weeks ago we took a road trip pit-stop in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. I’ve been out in the Berkshires only twice, once for cross-country skiing in the middle of the winter, and for a James Taylor concert at Tanglewood. Both times driving through the surround area was a big lovely tease! After all these years of speeding through the Berkshires on our way to visit family, it was time to check it out.

The town of Stockbridge is a sleepy quasi-resort Americana town. Beyond the beautiful Berkshires, the area is best known for being the adult home of famous American Painter Norman Rockwell.
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We stopped at the Elm Street Market for lunch, as the Yelp-recommended Once Upon a Table restaurant had already closed for the afternoon. The sandwiches were nothing to write home about, but if you are going on a picnic (or have arrived to Tanglewood unprepared) the Market has lots of picnic-size fixings.
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There were a few small shops to pop into which, naturally, were filled with Norman Rockwell souvenirs. I’m hoping to return this winter for another ski trip and make sure I visit the Norman Rockwell Museum next time! (Information for admission and museum hours here.)

source: The Norman Rockwell Museum

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But my favorite reason to head out to western Mass is to visit Tanglewood! Tanglewood is an outdoor amphitheater with gorgeous Berkshire views from every angle! It’s widely known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. James Taylor also plays at Tanglewood every 4th of July – which is a blast if you can make it! There is a concert hall area with traditional seating, but why do that when you can picnic on the lawn!? Picnic-ers go all out – with small tables and champagne and candelabras.

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Does it get more classic America than James Taylor and Norman Rockwell? Everyone has a different favorite Norman Rockwell painting. He has so many amazing pieces – some powerful, some silly. I had this one hanging in my bedroom growing up.

What’s your favorite Norman Rockwell painting?

Chocolate Cinnamon ice Cream

 

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This adventure in ice cream came about as a lack of pantry goods. Since we were going away for the weekend, I wanted to use up our dairy items before they went bad. (Naturally, MAKE MORE ICE CREAM!)

I’ve yet to make a simple chocolate ice cream, but upon getting out the cocoa powder I realized I didn’t have enough. Instead I decided to add a heaping spoonful of cinnamon. The result was a deliciously light-flavored chocolate ice cream – the effect was a Wendy’s frosty with a twist.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 2 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream

Recipe: (based on this Simple Chocolate Ice Cream recipe from Cuisinart)

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add milk. Use a metal whisk to whisk well until all dry ingredients well-blended and foamy. Otherwise cocoa powder will clump.
  3. Add cream and stir enough until blended.
  4. Add mixture to your ice cream maker and churn.
  5. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Cinnamon-Ice-Cream

 

Okay, okay! I promise that’s the last of the dessert posts. For now….

What’s your favorite fall dessert? I’ve got to get ready for the next round!

 

Pssssttt. I’ve been going through a number of web development updates and changes here on DesignLively. Sorry if things are looking a little wonky! My latest conundrum is that the Pinterest Toolbar Button isn’t picking up any of my images. If you’d like to pin an image you see here on DesignLively, use the “PinIt” button that appears when you hover over the image. I’m hoping I will resolve this problem soon. Thanks for your patience!

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process preferred)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3-1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Place the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the whole milk and use a hand mixer on low speed or whisk to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. If not freezing immediately, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Turn machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 35 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

– See more at: http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/97.html#sthash.OdAbJpEX.dpuf

 

Blueberries for Sal (the Best Blueberry Pie Ever!)

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Whenever I am in western New York, blueberry picking is on my priority list. I love the peacefulness of picking blueberries – it’s a quiet, mindless activity and you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors, all while enjoying nature’s candy. Last year we picked 40 pounds of blueberries!

 

The bulk of the berries we pick go into the freezer, but I always make blueberry cream pie, and blueberry ice cream with some of the fresh ones. But I’d like to venture out and try a few more blueberry recipes this year.

 

This pie recipe is from the Taste of Home – and it’s sooooo good. The thin nilla wafer cookie crust, a thick layer of homemade cream, and a juicy topping of blueberries bursting with flavor are worth all the effort that goes into making it.

 

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Taste of Home Blueberry Cream Pie Recipe (click here for instructions)

Ingredients

CRUST:
1-1/3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 40 wafers)
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
FILLING:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1 cup half-and-half cream
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
TOPPING:
5 cups fresh blueberries, divided
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

My notes on making this pie:

- You really need to use fresh blueberries. I’ve tried with frozen ones several times and it never comes out the same. The top just gets too watery.

- I use my coffee bean grinder to chop up the Nilla Wafer cookies. I have also bought the generic brand Nilla Wafers and they taste just fine.

- I’m definitely not a great pastry chef, so the cream is always the most challenging part to me. My only advice is cook it for less time than you think you need to! If it’s sticky, you’ve cooked it for too long.

- This pie is good for about 3 days. (If it lasts that long!)

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 What’s your favorite kind of pie? What do you like to make with blueberries? 

 

Add this to your Travel Bucket List: Watkins Glen

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There are many beautiful places in the world. But there are a few that truly take my breath away.

I’ve posted on Watkins Glen NY State Park before, but we hiked it again a few weeks ago and I just had to share some photos of it’s AMAZINGNESS!

Recently there has been an article flying around social media, “29 Surreal Places in America You Need to Visit Before You Die”, (aka one of those million Buzzfeed articles on your Facebook newsfeed) and Watkins Glen is #8. The author says, “We all know Niagara Falls is a sight to see, but located south of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region lies a lesser-known fantasy-like area called Rainbow Bridge and Falls. It will make you feel like you’re in Lord of the Rings.”

Hiking through Watkins Glen definitely feels part-LOTR, part-Fern Gully, part-Jurassic Park.

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The park was opened in the mid 1800s as an “amusement park” until it was purchased by New York State in 1906. The closest you will get to an amusement park is the laser shows they occasionally host.

The deep gorge was originally carved by glaciers, and has seen been re-shaped by the water flow of the streams, rapids, and waterfalls. The power of water is astounding.
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There had been some heavy rain recently, so the waterfalls were flowing and the trail was pretty wet. Walking under a waterfall is always a magical experience. Wear appropriate footwear! (And protect your camera!)

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There are some killer stairs at the top, but anyone in decent shape can do this hike. The main drag, the Gorge Trail, is a 1.5 mile hike and takes about 45 minutes if you stop to admire the general splendor, take some photos, and try to catch some of the little frogs. If you’re looking for a longer hike, the trail connects to the Finger Lakes Trail, which is an 800 mile network of trails running through New York state.
You can park at the top for $8. (Although there wasn’t anyone in the toll booth when we went.) A shuttle ($3 per person) runs back and forth from the bottom until 5:30pm if you don’t have it in you to hike back. More information can be found on the NY State Park Watkins Glen website.
Where’s the most unique place you’ve ever been?