Vacation

We just got back from a fantastic week in Eagles Mere, which is a teeny little resort town in the mountains in north-central Pennsylvania. It was the type of vacation that you do not want to end, and we spent a good portion of our last day there making plans for next year. I already can’t wait!

I have lots of pictures of our various adventures throughout the week, but I figured I should start with the food. My parents have 7 children between the two of them, and there were 5 of us (plus various spouses and children) who came this week. Each family was responsible for dinner one night. Andy and I made cheese-stuffed chicken breasts and served them with mashed potatoes and a cucumber tomato salad. It all turned out pretty well, but the oven in our cottage (I use the term cottage loosely–the house slept 12 people) was horribly temperamental, and I thought our chicken was slightly dry as a result. No one else seemed to notice though (or they were all too polite to say anything).

My brother recently purchased a smoker and has been learning the art of Low and Slow barbecue. He smoked ribs for us and coated them in a homemade bbq sauce. I think he smoked them for 5 or 6 hours–he was working on them all day long. I had no idea smoking was such a labor of love! Before putting the charcoal into the smoker, he starts it with newspaper in a special container. This is a terribly dark picture, but you get the idea. The ribs were just great–so flavorful and yummy. My dad also used the smoker on his night to cook (with some assistance from my brother). He smoked chicken breasts, thighs, and legs that were incredibly tasty, juicy, and moist. The chicken doesn’t smoke for quite as long as the ribs, but it’s still a pretty labor-intensive process.The barrel on the left is where the charcoal goes, and the main section (where the meat is) has a lid that allows the smoke to surround the meat. Personally, I think the best part about the art of Low and Slow barbecue is its name and all that it implies. You simply can’t rush your dinner, and you have to really appreciate the ingredients that go into the entire process–from the meats and sauces and rubs to the charcoal and wood. No accelerants are used, which keeps your meat from tasting like kerosene. Plus, there is plenty of time to sit around with a good drink and inhale the scents of the food and the smoke.

Our house had a wonderfully large and airy back deck that looked directly into the woods. It was my favorite part of the entire place, and we spent a lot of time out there just relaxing and enjoying each others’ company.

As far as the dinner competition, at the end of the week I declared my parents the winners on the merits of their side dishes. Really though, everyone’s dinners were excellent, which is why it was too hard to choose a winner! My stepmom made macaroni salad (her specialty and a definite family favorite) and a spicy coleslaw that complimented the smoked chicken perfectly.

I’ll post a few more details from our vacation in the coming week. As far as I’m concerned, Eagles Mere is Pennsylvania’s best-kept secret!

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