We had an incredibly relaxing weekend upstate in the Catskills. We were able to go up with our friends Valerie and Tom, and the four of us just hung out, ate good food, played games and slept well (or at least I did – I suppose I can’t speak for anyone else). It was much cooler up in the mountains, which I especially appreciated seeing as how we are on the cusp of New York’s infamously hot and humid summer. It was refreshing to put a hoodie and a jacket on. There was even occasion to get a fire going in the fireplace. I am not one to want to tend to a fire. I scare easily and am skittish. My nearly seven months pregnant friend Valerie, though, happily kept the fire going. She’s always been more of a bad ass lady than me. While Val kept the flames high, Kramer wanted to go out and chop wood. Of course, he could only find pre-chopped wood left by our amazing hosts. He gave it the old college try anyway, though. The drive up was smoother than the last drive, for the most part. It certainly wasn’t shorter (I don’t think you’ll ever have a short drive out of the city on a summer Friday), but we at least mostly knew where we were going. It was pitch black by the time we got close to the house, though, and Kramer did a great job driving despite my hand wringing in the seat next to him. We unpacked a bit, heated up some wings , made a simple salad of tomatoes and avocado, then opened a bottle or two and just talked for a few hours before hitting the hay.
Iced coffee upstate, and a post-upstate margarita.
The next morning, we made a big breakfast, as is required by any Catskill getaway. We had bacon, eggs, brioche, mushrooms and avocado alongside good coffee from Grady’s. We decided to walk it off a bit by exploring the area. At first we said we’d be going on a hike, but the grass and woods were too wet and muddy to venture through, so we stuck to the roadside. We saw chickens, goats, horses and cows, all while joking about what good adventurers we were being. After our walk, we consumed massive amounts of charcuterie, bread and fruit, watched a bit of the World Cup, and played Settlers of Catan. We also maybe took a nap. Who’s to say? Dinner was another feast: sausages, burgers, summer vegetable salad and more avocado, followed by a hilarious game of charades. You really had to be there. We worked our way through a bottle of nice tequila, Kramer and Tom played Stratego, and we all got a good night’s rest before another giant breakfast on Sunday, this time featuring sausages and French toast. The drive back home was beautiful – it was sunny and warm, and we even stopped at Steve’s Fabulous Furniture for some shopping and admiring. Once home, Kramer and I unpacked, chilled out on the couch for a bit, then went over to Tradesman to read a little bit and have a margarita. We were in the mood, so we ordered Mexican for dinner – there’s nothing better than guacamole to end the weekend, with horchata for dessert.
When I think of summer, I think of seafood. It’s light and refreshing, and it pairs well with almost everything. I also love tartar sauce, because it adds flavor and richness to your average shrimp cocktail or crab cake. Vlasic Farmer’s Garden asked me to whip up a classic tartar sauce recipe for them, as well as a few variations. There’s the Tuscan version, which has an Italian twist, or the South-of-the-Border option, for a smokey chipotle option. My favorite, though, was the Thai variety, which has lime juice and chile sauce. I opted for a simple dish of shrimp cooked with salt and pepper to dip in the tartar sauces, since they all have their own unique flavor and I didn’t want to bother doing something fancy with the shrimp only to have it overwhelm what I was creating the shrimp for in the first place. These sauces don’t make a half bad aioli, either – dip your fries in them or spread one of them on a turkey sandwich. If you try out this recipe, please let me know and also don’t miss your chance to win $1,500 from Vlasic! That’s free money, people.
Enjoying the fire (on our cell phones).
First, cook your shrimp.
Then whisk together your tartar base and have fun with the flavors!
South of the border.
- 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped Vlasic Farmer’s Garden Kosher Dill Spears
- 1⁄4 cup pickled vegetables, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1⁄4 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon green or red chili sauce
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- Combine mayonnaise, pickles and vegetables in medium bowl.
- Stir in variations of your choice, or just stick with the original. Chill until ready to use.
- Serve with cooked shrimp*, fish, crab cakes or on a sandwich.
- *To cook my shrimp, I simply placed a pound of cleaned shrimp in a hot pain with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and a bit of fresh pepper and cooked them over medium heat for 8 minutes or so, until bright pink and opaque. Serve the shrimp hot or cold, depending in your preference (I chose cold and chilled them until ready to serve).