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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Jun 30, 2013

Ryan and Wood Distilleries, Gloucester

One of the highlights of our trip to Cape Ann was a tour of Ryan and Wood Distilleries in Gloucester.  Our tour guide for the day was Kathy Ryan - one of the owners.  We learned about the history of distilleries, the challenges of setting them up since prohibition, the equipment used and the tracking necessary to remain in business.  We ran into Bob Ryan during our tour and had a great chat about chemistry, scales and general technological challenges in the distilling business.

After the tour, we stopped to taste.  Ryan and Wood makes Whiskey, Rum, Gin and Vodka.  We came home with all of them, as well as with some barrel chunks for smoking.  I have already used the Whiskey to make a beef brisket and BBQ Sauce.  I'll share if I am happy with them.

Go to Gloucester, take the tour.  Not going near Cape Ann?  Go to Massachusetts, find a store that sells Ryan and Wood Spirits.  You will try and like any of them.

Learn more at the Ryan and Wood website -  You will see the photo below, and many more, at their site.

Rubbed and Mopped Ribs

I know, I have promised more information on where to stay and where to eat when in Cape Ann, but we have been home for less than 24 hours and our Big Green Egg is back in service, so I wanted to share a recipe first.  The following recipe was what we used the first time we made ribs on our egg.  As you can see from this picture, I did not follow my own instructions and wait for the meat to pull back from the end of the bone.  They were still very good, they were completely cooked, but they just didn't fall apart like I wanted them to - patience is key with ribs.

  2 Racks Pork Spareribs                                                           
  1/4 Cup Hot Hungarian Paprika                                                
  5 Tsp Black Pepper                                                                 
  5 Tsp Dark Brown Sugar                                                           
  1 Tsp Salt                                                                                 
  2 Tsp Celery Salt                                                                       
  2 Tsp Cayenne     
  2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  2 Tsp Dry Mustard
  2 Tsp Cumin
  1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  1/4 Cup Yellow Mustard
  1 Tsp Salt                                                                    

Mix all rub ingredients, set aside.

Remove the skin from each rack of ribs.  Coat with dry rub.  Let sit for at least 4 hours.  If refrigerating, return to room  temperature before cooking.

Heat the grill to about 300 degrees, set for indirect heat.  Add wood chips for smoke per your grill instructions.  Arrange ribs, meat side up, on grate over drip pan.  Cover the grill and smoke for an hour.

Meanwhile, mix your mop sauce.  After the hour, open the grill and mop the ribs.  Cook until ribs are tender and meat has shrunk back from the ends of the bones - about another hour.

And now, back to Cape Ann.

Jun 29, 2013

Thatcher Island

There are many lighthouses around Cape Ann.  Most can only be seen from a distance.  For example, the twin lighthouses on thatcher island can be photographed from a distance with a good lens and a willingness to drive through residential streets with no place to actually stop.  Hubby and I paused - I took this picture and we moved on quickly to avoid blocking the road.

Hubby and I had a waterproof camera and a willingness to kayak, so we went looking for options.  Enter North Shore Kayak.  Every day at 1:30 (during the summer), they offer a guided kayak trip to Thatcher Island.  Please note - this is a two to two and a half mile paddle one way, so be prepared.  It is a three hour tour, so you have time to explore the island and rest before your paddle back (climbing a lighthouse is resting, right).  Make sure you take plenty of water.

Call at least the day before you want take your trips so there is space and/or a guide available.  You will be asked to arrive half an hour early to sign the waivers, get your PFD's and walk to the launch site.  The waiver can be printed from their website before you go, if you like.  Once all of the prep work is done, it is into the kayaks and a paddle around the perimeter of the harbor.

Once out of the harbour, you aim for the strait between the cape and Straitsmouth Island.  

While passing you will see another lighthouse.

Once through the strait, you can see the Thatcher Island lighthouses.

You want to paddle toward the small white boathouse and land right up the ramp.  Make sure you sign the guest book/waiver in the boat house.

Just outside the boathouse is a plaque with information about the island.

From the boathouse, visit the light house museum then go to the lighthouse for a climb.

When you are done exploring the island, it is back to the boats for a paddle back to the starting point with another view of the Straitsmouth Lighthouse.

I highly recommend this tour.  Patrick was our tour guide and he was very patient with me as a novice paddler.  Once on the island, he gave us the option of givings us the tour or letting us explore on our own.  If paddling is not your cup of tea, there is also a boat tour that goes to the island once or twice a week.  Information is available at the end of the T pier.

Jun 28, 2013

Salem - So much more than Witches

Next in our tour of the Northern Shore led us south into Salem and Marblehead.  The first thing we learned is that Salem is so much more than witches.  Other than October, when it can be crazier than Mardi Gras, many of the witchy events are closed.  First up - The House of Seven Gables.  This property includes the house that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne to write the book as well as the house the Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in.  When you first arrive, walk to the back of the property.  You will see a spectacular view of Salem Harbor.

Its light house.

And the wooden schooner Fame.

From there, if your tour time allow, proceed into the Nathaniel Hawthorne house for a self guided tour. The walls have beautiful paintings and there are many displays of Hawthorne history.  The tour of the seven gables house includes a hidden passageway.  Pictures are not allowed inside the houses, so you will have to go see for yourselves.

Next, enter the address for the Salem Visitor Center into your GPS.  Why?  Right across the street is a very reasonably priced garage.  Park in the garage and cross the street to the visitors center.

Go in the visitor center, pick up a walking map.  You really don't need it, but if you decide to get to something specific, it will help you know where you are.  While you are in there, check out the information about the Salem Maritime National Historic site.  There used to be a separate building, but it is now housed in the visitor center.

If you want to go to the Salem Witch Museum, it is behind the visitor center.  It is a nice presentation, but it is not suitable for small children or children that frighten easily.  The opening of the presentation is a bit intense.

When you finish at the with museum, or if you don't want to go there, look down until you find a red line.  This is a walking tour of Salem that will hit all of the high points - including the Peabody Essex Museum and the Pirates Museum.

Our first stop was the Salem Museum.  This is a free museum run by a partnership of Gordon College and the city of Salem.  It touches on the lesser known history of Salem.  While we were there, a special exhibit of Parker Brothers Games was the feature.

After the museum, we were a bit peckish, so lunch was in order.  Hubby decided to stop at Rockafellas.    We both had a wonderful vegetarian option - I had a grilled panini with vegetables and goat cheese, Hubby had a veggie wrap.

Next stop in our tour was the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.  On the way, we saw The Burying Point and the Salem Witch Trial Memorial.

If you like to shop, I also suggest a detour through Pickering Wharf.

Anchored at the Maritime Exhibit is the Friendship of Salem.  

While we were there, Navy Seaman were being trained by park service employees on how to lash the main sail in preparation for a sail in the coming weeks.

The ship is docked at Derby Wharf.  While you are there, walk the half mile wharf and visit the lighthouse.

From here, continue following the red line until it returns you to your parking garage.  It is well worth the time to do the full walking tour.

Jun 27, 2013

Hammond Castle Museum

After lunch in Gloucester, we wanted to continue exploring but it was HOT and we had finally cooled down, so we looked for something to do indoors.  Pulled out the GPS and searched attractions and found a castle.  How could we pass it up?  As you approached the castle, the following plaque gave you a flavor of what was to come - and the stonework was beautiful.

Don't Blink.

Inside the front door is the gift shop.  Although a tour is always available, it is usually self guided.  We were fortunate to get there just as a tour by the curator began.  From the gift shop, you go down a stone spiral staircase to the main living area.  The staircase has windows with beautiful wooden covers.

Just off the bottom of the stairs is a small sitting room.

The reason you go down to the main living area is because the castle was built to house a pipe organ.  There are nine stories of pipes - the main living area is huge and amazing.  It houses a very eclectic collection, including a skull and a very large chair.  The pipe organ has a wonderful sound and was used for recitals.  The below picture shows the top of the pipes that began two stories below where we stood.  The ceiling above us was 7 stories up, so you will have to go see it for yourself, my camera just did not do it justice.

The castle was built for John Hammond's wife - it had over 20 rooms and they lived there with 4 servants.  The main living area was too large for Mrs. Hammond, so there was a smaller space off of the main living room.

From the main living area, you can go to the kitchen, the dining room or the pool.  Yes, this castle has a beautiful indoor pool.

As you continue the tour, you see beautiful bedrooms; a fantastic domed, circular library; and a laboratory!  Just when you think it could not get better, you are invited outside to see the drawbridge in front and the beautiful views behind.

To learn more about this fascinating home, go to their website and plan your trip.  Hopefully, this small sample of the history and beauty of this wonderful property will encourage you to try and like this gem in Gloucester.

Jun 26, 2013

Gloucester, MA

After arriving in Rockport, we strolled through the town and had a lovely dinner (restaurant information to come later).  The next day, we went to Gloucester.  Hubby and I could think of 4 ways to pronounce it, none of them correct.  The website on the pier should have given it away, but we waited for someone to say it - "Glosta" - then, we didn't quite sound as much like tourists any longer.  We started our walk at the Fisherman's Memorial.  This memorial is a monument to watch over the fisherman returning each day as well as a listing of all of those that have been lost at sea.  There is at least one name for each year, the last one listed was for 2012.

From there, we walked along the walker friendly waterfront, across a drawbridge, toward Stage Fort Park.  Right after crossing the bridge, we watched a golden retriever play in the water then had an opportunity to see the bridge in operation.

We then continued along the flag-lined waterfront to the fort.

Stage Fort parks has beautiful views of the harbor - including the lighthouse, drawbridge and a small swimming cove.  It also has cannons in place that were used during the revolutionary war.

After the fort, we walked around and visited many of the little shops found in the streets above the waterfront.  Hubby took some pictures of the courthouse because of its character and we walked along the waterfront.  After lunch, we headed of in search of a castle...