Storms, laughter, nourishment, and beauty. My Girl's Weekend at Grand Beach was all of these and more.
It was a crisp and very cool May afternoon in Grand Beach, Michigan. It was Thursday, the car was packed to the gills, and the GPS chirped happily when we turned into the driveway and surveyed our home for 4 days. Hurrying to see the docile blue waves gently lapping the shoreline, I wished instantly I was running along its edges. But that wasn't to be. My knees were just beginning to respond to the supplements I hoped would remove the agonizing ache in my joints. But it would all be okay. I was spending the whole weekend cooking. I could have command of an expansive culinary space that looked out upon a sapphire horizon. I would be surrounded by women who had known me for nearly three decades. I couldn't wait to unpack, put on my apron, and get to work.
"Yes, Tricia. I will be there for our Beach Girl's Trip!" I had said last fall, quickly answering a heartfelt email from my lifelong friend who needed to gather all of her most special women together for a rendezvous at the water's edge. The condition was I wanted to be the chef for the whole weekend. I wanted to nourish all these friends; these women who have been my safety net for almost 30 years. She accepted my terms without hesitation.
The home was grand, which is an understatement. But then, isn't everything at Grand Beach? It provided a canvas that we painted with tastes and truth. Each of us bringing to the friendship and the table a different skill. Each of us sharing secrets that easily emerged once the first cork was dislodged and the first course served.
As you might guess, I set about getting the lay of the "kitchen," so to speak. Locating the tools, arranging the food, and reviewing the handwritten menu I had scrawled only the day before so everything was poised for perfection.
Our first evening was simple, and full of flavor. Baked cod topped with a Blackberry Ginger Chutney made by simmering oranges and blackberries with ginger, a bit of champagne vinegar, red onions, and a knob of ginger. It was placed atop a puree of cauliflower scented with a hint of coriander, garlic, and cream, and served alongside a simple salad of dressed baby kale. It carried us through the night as we listened to the calm outside turn to a loud and satisfying spring storm and chose between a dessert of Texas sheet cake and delicious apple bars. Each bite represented a nudge up in dress size, but we were in no mood to be good!
I love it when a Friday feels like a Sunday. Leaving the week behind for the sound of yawns and coffee flowing at dawn I arose early on day 2, took on the mantle of nourisher again, and began to chop the vegetables that would fill the personal omelet cups. With the smell of bacon filling the air, and grated cheese falling like lace, we prepped for brunch. Although the eggs were perfect, the star was the small heirloom carrots, sliced lengthwise and roasted in a 425 degree oven with rosemary and orange vinaigrette. After tossing cantaloupe with a hint of lemon and cinnamon it was time to bring on the hungry!
When breakfast is at 10, and dinner is at 7, you need something in between to keep you vertical. After all, the wine was flowing along with the food, so our stomachs growled us into submission and we snack elegantly on a simple apple, celery and walnut salad with lemon herb dressing. It was served with quintessential southern deviled eggs featuring sweet pickle relish and peppadew peppers. Delish!
I'm not sure how we segued, but our plan to go out to dinner Friday evening was quickly voted down. Maybe the desire to eat in started with the first bite of chutney the night before. Perhaps it was the citrus on the roasted carrots at brunch. In any case, the unanimous cry was for me to cook again, and we would cancel our reservations at the swanky eatery 20 minutes away opting instead to gather all 11 of us around our little lake table.
I love a 180 degree shift in food planning. It is my favorite thing to create a meal on the fly. Taking stock of our food inventory for the weekend, which included a few stand-by items, I knew I could put together our feast that night with just a few extra groceries. So after heading to the local market, I purchased some lovely ground turkey, and the ladies bought a few more bottles of wine, along with a bag of perfect Yukon potatoes. Nada decided she would make her famous crepes for dessert, and we were all salivating by the time the first appetizer was served.
By adding orange slices, a bit of balsamic, and some honey to bottled fig jam, I created a glaze for the flavorful Mediterranean turkey meatballs. Adding golden raisins to the meat insured moisture, and a last minute thought to bind the orbs with rice cracker dust since we couldn't find bread crumbs was inspired. We slow simmered onion and potatoes as our side dish.
Then, while it was simmering, I was summoned to the dining room. It was there I would experience the biggest surprise in a long time. I was presented with an apron, signed by all, as a thank-you for nourishing them during our trip. I was so honored, so caught off guard, so danged excited! Ladies, we all know it. Nothing is stronger than a tribe of true friends!
You know me. You know that while I was crying one eye out, I also had the other on the stove. I couldn't burn the meal served on the heels of my honorary apron ceremony! And since all had pitched in while I blubbered, dinner was a success!
Wait, it's now day three and it is only Saturday! WOOHOO! More chances to cook, to nosh, and to make memories. I would make my famous scones along with fresh fruit, cook some sausage, and we would gorge like we hadn't eaten in days. (Or hours!) Good cinnamon, golden raisins, and just the right touch produced these prized scones. All I could think to say was, "tah, dah!!!
Do you feel you've gained 10 pounds just reading this blog entry? Well, don't stop now. Just loosen your waistband and keep reading. There's more to come.
After a trip to Three Oaks, MI for Bourbon tasting and shopping, we settled into our last night of food. Since we felt stuffed, I decided on a meal that represented our affliction by serving spinach and artichoke stuffed chicken breasts, and a colorful side of brandy roasted root vegetables.
Using some of the leftover sausage, and lightening the stuffing by adding a little yogurt instead of all mayonnaise, a simple meal became exquisite. I've long used spirits to help create a depth of flavor with roasted vegetables. If you don't like the taste, I suggest you try a little maple syrup and lemon zest with the oil and salt and pepper. Toss, spread out on a baking dish, and let them become jewels of perfection!
As approach the end of this food journey, we close with a satisfying frittata, served with beautifully ripe fresh fruit and some of the remaining scones. Simple, flavorful, and celebratory. An apt closing for a culinary week that will long be remembered.
Thank you ladies for your honesty, your willingness to be sous chefs, for keeping my wine glass full at all times, and for letting me bind our memories to nourishment and love.
Over and out. Kitchen empty. Hearts full!
My kitchen receives the blessing of the morning sun and I eagerly open the blinds to let those rays pour in like a flood of healing waters. Drinking up the warmth is just the perfect beginning to my day. Sundays with morning sun are almost too wonderful to describe, and hard to top. Unless of course you're planning to make something delicious!
The fruit you see here is the way I like to start my day and it's made all the more wonderful when you just make it simple. Fresh cut pineapple, red pears, navel oranges and bananas. Toss with a tiny bit of sugar and grab your favorite chair by the window for a few moments of bliss.
That is, until the buzzer goes off and the breakfast casserole emerges. Isn't this gorgeous? And SO, SO, SO easy! If you have a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread you're on your way to creating brunch Nirvana. A dab of Greek yogurt with the eggs helps create low calorie richness. And be sure and heat up your maple syrup so you don't spoil the warmth of this toasty treat.
Sooner or later, the sun rises to the top of the sky, and my warm kitchen fades into the late morning. Chores must be done. Clothes folded. Pantries cleaned out. But soon it will be time for dinner and I've been saving some items from previous dinners to become a delicious and sinful end to this 7th day of bliss.
Cheese. Pasta. Bacon. I could end here and you'd be happy. But let's just add some photos and let the drooling begin. Especially when you know that nested at the bottom of this veggie, bacon cheese sauce are beautiful and rustic mushroom raviolis. Yeah, I know. Makes you swoon, eh?
Isn't this a great way to start and finish a Sunday? For that matter, wouldn't this be a great way to start and end every day? I think so. And I can't wait for a new day, more sun, and more inspiration.
RECIPE: Cinnamon Raisin Bread Breakfast Casserole
8 slices of Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin Bread, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 T butter
1/3 C heavy cream
½ t nutmeg
Dash of kosher salt
1 t vanilla extract
Syrup and/or powdered sugar for serving
Butter the bottom and insides of a small glass baking dish, about 9 by 9. Arrange the cubes of bread in the dish. In another bowl blend the eggs, cream, salt, vanilla, and nutmeg and whisk well to combine. Pour all over the bread. Push the bread down into the eggy mixture. Let sit on counter for about 30-45 minutes.
Place the dish in the center of a preheated 375 degree F oven and cook for 35 minutes. Remove, let cool for just a few minutes. Cut, cover with your favorite syrup or just powdered sugar.
RECIPE: Mushroom Ravioli and Vegetables
If you're not a morning person like I am, you find people like me a TOTAL mystery. I love to arise and begin cooking on Thanksgiving morning, holiday music blaring, my arms elbow deep in the backside of a turkey as I slather it with butter, and stuff it with herbs, onions and lemons. And you just STARE at me like I'm a unicorn in church.
Okay, I want you to be happy like me! And maybe a little breakfast will help. I know, you don't eat breakfast, but it's a holiday for heaven's sake! Work with me.
And so I have come up with these personal, make in a jiffy, single serving holiday omelets. You can have the ingredients ready and poured into each cup. Then as you're handing Grumpy his coffee, steer him towards the stove to sprinkle in the ingredients of choice into the omelet cup, then pop them in the oven. Everybody has the flavors they want and soon we're all singing "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause!" in unison.
Download here! EASY PERSONAL HOLIDAY OMELETS.
Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.
Want to get spontaneous with me? It's pretty exciting. Let's all find out what happens when, "I Feel Like Cooking."
Apple Butter Walnut Spice Cookies
Apple Rice Salad
Artichoke Stuffed Chicken
Bad Experiments With Food
Bing Cherry Cookies
Bourbon Bread Pudding
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Brown Sugar Chicken
Brown Sugar Pork Ribs
Cantaloupe And Oranges
Coffee Chili Steak Rub
Cognac Roasted Veggies
Cold Vegetable Salad
Cooking With Friends
Cooking With Wine
Cranberry Chocolate Cookies
Creamy Zucchini Soup
Enchilada Hand Pies
Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Fried Green Tomatoes
Granny Smith Apples
Grapefruit Pear Slaw
Herb Butter Roasted Chicken
Herbs De Provence
Lake Norman Magazine
Lemon Cream Sauce
Lemon Crumble Bars
Lime Ginger Honey Syrup
Maple Bourbon Plum Sauce
Mini Pepper Poppers
Mint Caper Salsa
Nectarine Spice Cake
No Bake Cookies
Orange Cheesecake Squares
Orange Rosemary Glazed Tri-color Carrots
Paula Deen Quick Rolls
Peanut Bean Sprout Fried Rice
Peanut Butter Cookies
Peanut Butter Mousse
Pesto Mashed Potatoes
Pork Or Chicken Salad
Pork Ramen Stir Fry
Port Wine Reduction
Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake
Pumpkin Buttermilk Glaze
Purple Sweet Potatoes
Radish Fennel Salad
Rice-a-roni Beef Soup
Roasted Beet Salad
Rules For Dieting
Slow Roasted Chicken
Sour Cream Raisin Pie
Southern Fried Chicken
Speculoos Cookie Butter
Stuffed Puff Pastry
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Sweet Pickle Vinaigrette
Sweet Potato Pancake
Thai Peanut Sauce
Turkey And Ground Beef
Twisted Puff Pastry Rounds
White Wine Cream Sauce
Yellow Split Peas