Sunday, August 01, 2010

Back from Vacation! And Cherry Muffins!

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We're back from our trip to the US (MD, PA, NY), and it is cold and rainy here in Germany :( Where did summer go? It's only August 1st! I hope we'll get some more hot weather before fall. I'd hoped we could afford (time and money) to do another trip to France this month, but I think the best we can hope for is camping in the Alps or the Black Forest.

Before I forget, I want to share the recipe for these fantastic Cherry Almond Muffins! My neighbor's friend has been bringing her bags and bags of dark sweet cherries from his garden, and she's been giving most of them to me. I've frozen most for use during the winter, but I wanted to make something special with the fresh ones to eat now!

Cherry-Almond Muffins

Ingredients:
1 stick (1/2c) butter
3/4c sugar
2 eggs
2c flour
1/2c milk
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups chopped fresh cherries
1c sliced almonds, divided
1tsp almond extract
1/2c powdered sugar (for topping)
1-2TBSP milk (for topping)

Directions
In a saucepan or frying pan, cook the cherries over low heat for 30-40 minutes to remove some of the water. Cherries should be dark red and much softer.

Preheat the oven for 375F and line a 12-muffin tin with muffin cups.
Cream the butter and the sugar until fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then add to the batter, alternating with the 1/2c milk until smooth. Add the almond extract, then fold in the cherries and half the almonds.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and top with the remaining almonds. Bake for 30 minutes. When the muffins are done, mix the powdered sugar and 1T or milk to make a glaze. Brush it over the still-hot muffins and allow muffins to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

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Anyway, back to our trip :) We went back to Baltimore for a few days to catch up with friends and do some shopping before attending our friends' wedding in Philadelphia. It was quite the whirlwind tour! Our plane out of Frankfurt was 2 hours late, which made us miss our connection in NY. "Don't worry!" they said, "There's another flight two hours later that you can catch!"
Unfortunately the next flight was NOT to BWI, but to DC! So we arrived in DC around 8pm (as opposed to the 5:30pm we should have been in Baltimore), then had to take the subway and a commuter train to BWI to rent our car, then drive to north Baltimore to our friend's house. We didn't get in until 1am, and missed having dinner with other friends. Fortunately, the rest of the trip went smoothly.

Thursday we spent shopping for clothes and boating shoes, then met up with a bunch of friends in Fell's Point for dinner and drinks at our favorite roof-top rum bar. Unfortunately, the quality of the food has gone downhill since I was there last, and not everyone enjoyed their meal (myself included), but the view and the company was still nice :)
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Baltimore was in the midst of a heat wave, per usual, so Friday we decided to take advantage of the heat and went river tubing in Gunpowder Falls state park, followed by a relaxed BBQ and some amazing Watermelon and goat cheese salad.

Saturday was the wedding, so we drove up to Philadelphia very early in the morning. It had decided to thunderstorm, and I was very worried about being late, but we arrived 1/2 hour before the wedding and were some of the first people there! I think the weather made all the locals late. It's unfortunate that it had to be inside, but they needed the rain, and the church is gorgeous anyway. It's an old Unitarian church with all the original wood and stone and lovely stained glass windows. The couple had met there when they attended a UU youth conference in high school. It was a lovely wedding, and it was great to celebrate with so many of our close friends :)

The two lovely brides!
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The lovely ceremony was followed by a reception with some unique and varied entertainment, provided by many of our talented friends!
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The rest of the evening was spent at one of the Brides parents' house for a BBQ, and it was great to have some down time to catch up with everyone.
See the rest of this set here.

The following morning we drove over to NJ to visit our friend Luke who is keeping all our snakes for us while we're in Germany. I had never seen his place, so it was cool to visit our snakes, meet his, and have some lunch before driving back to Baltimore.

Monday morning we left very early to catch a train up to Albany NY, where we rented another car to drive to Elizabethtown, in the Adirondack Mountains, to spend 10 days with my Dad. The train ride north was surprisingly beautiful, as it follows the Hudson river the whole way!

Joe spent every possible moment fishing, and caught a lot of fish (mostly Bass, Pike, and Perch), but most were too small to eat, with the exception of one delicious Walleye.
Here's Joe with his first big Bass of the trip:
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That weekend our friend Luke from NJ, and my friend Laura from Toronto came to visit, and we rented a pontoon boat to spend the day on the Lower Saranac lake. We had a great time swimming, fishing, eating yummy picnic food and relaxing in the gorgeous setting.
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See the full set here

Sunday Laura and I took a horseback trail ride and I got to show her my hometown of Lake Placid. I can't believe we've been friends 13 years and she's never been there before! We had a great girls' day while the boys were out fishing in the rain :P

Wednesday, after our friends left Joe and I accompanied our friend Dave to his camp on Union Falls Pond. The weather was a bit stormy, but we still managed to get some swimming and fishing in, along with a campfire, fresh cooked fish, and a gorgeous starlit boat ride on the lake.

Waiting for the rain to clear
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Overall we had a fabulous trip and did not want to leave! Joe says Germany is very boring by comparison, but I think we just need to look harder for places to do fun stuff.

1 comment:

Javajem said...

Awesome pics! Looks like you had a great time - aside from the crazy fight in! My friend came to visit me from Vegas and had the same thing happen to her. I had to drive to Reagan in rush hour traffic to pick her up! We made lemonade out of our lemons though and had dinner in Alexandria.

Hope you are having a good summer in Germany! Miss you!