31 August 2015

Adventures in New Paltz, New York

Gertrude's Nose, Minnewaska State Park
Slowly, but surely, I am creating favorite places in and around New Jersey, and New Paltz, New York, is one those favorites. It all started with a trip to Minnewaska State Park shortly after moving here. We took a hike to the lake, swam, and finished with a harrowing mountain biking adventure back down that was only harrowing to me. That excursion ended with a meal at the fantastic Turkish restaurant in the little city of New Paltz. Nowadays when Alex and I go, we start with a hike/run -- I hike up, he runs up a different route, and of course I try to beat him to the top.

Pellegrino at the top
At the top, we like to enjoy Pellegrinos, relishing in the sweet-tart beverage after hauling ourselves up. This time, instead of stopping at Millbrook Mountain, we continued on to Gertrude's Nose, a route we hadn't taken before. There are some steep uphills, but nothing rough enough to make us call it quits. The very first picture of this post is from the top of Gertrude's.

Alex on Gertrude's Nose
Step back from that ledge, my friend
Walk on
If you're going to hike in this park, take some extra water and food and get your entry fee's worth by hiking this route. It was really enjoyable and the views are plentiful. Bring a towel and dip your feet in the lake on the way back, too.

Jenkins-Luekin Orchards
See you in autumn, apples!
Half a bushel of peaches
Once we're finished hiking, we make our way to Jenkins-Luekin Orchards for local fruit. Last week, we picked up a half bushel of yellow plums, and boy those are good. They're like little balls of fruit juice with a bit of flesh thrown in for good measure, the kind you must eat with a large bib or over the sink. Even Saffron enjoyed them -- he would stick his dirty paw into the box, hook his claw into a plum, and drag it out and onto the floor. We swiftly put an end to his game once we found out the plums were the source of his late night yowling. An entire fruit bin filled with plums remain.

Peaches were the fruit of choice for this trip. Somehow, we managed to fit most of the half bushel in the fridge, and I'll use a few in a pie today. Although the grocery store advertises "local fruit", the peaches and plums we've purchased there never taste as rich and country-ish as the ones bought right from the source. Maybe it's the shipping method that causes fruit to lose its flavor or that it is picked before it's ripened. Either way, it's not as satisfying as any of the fruit we have purchased at Jenkins-Luekin, and I'm lucky it's available for me. We'll be back in the fall for apples and cider when I need a breather from studying.

Mudd Puddle Coffee
BLT with hot sauce
Alex and I love small coffee shops with well-made espresso beverages. We have a few options closer to home we visit on the weekends, and it's nice to find equally as good places for a post-hike latte. Mudd Puddle Coffee is nestled between little restaurants and shops in a small shop district in New Paltz, off of the main street, . There was quite the crowd on Saturday, and the drinks were made a more hastily than usual, but the taste was not sacrificed. Typically, we'll just go in for lattes (with freshly ground nutmeg sprinkled on top -- you have got to try this!), though we were famished after our hike and opted to split a BLT. It was an incredible sandwich, and that's not just the hunger talking. Could have used more B, a sentiment I always have whenever I order a BLT. The L and T were very good and super fresh. Mmm, I can still taste it. Going to have to add BLTs to the menu.

New Paltz is a home away from home, even though I've never lived here so it doesn't really make any sense. I briefly considered transferring to SUNY New Paltz just to be closer to this area, but that makes even less sense. Probably just the hunger talking. In any case, we have a great time when we come through here for the day. I like traditions. I like making them, and I'm sad when old traditions fall by the wayside, no matter the reason. I'm more than happy that New Paltz is one of my new traditions, hopefully for many years to come.

Now, gotta go make that peach pie!

29 August 2015

Morning Glory Muffins

morning glory muffins!
Good morning, folks. Today, I will be hiking through Minnewaska State Park, fueled by morning glory muffins. I had this recipe on my mind all week and eventually got around to baking them yesterday morning. My mom would often make a similar muffin with shredded carrots, apples, and ground flax seed, only I forgot to ask her for the recipe. Until I get it, I settled on a recipe for the original morning glory muffins, found from Earthbound Farm. I dig the tropical inclusion of pineapple and coconut paired with spicy cinnamon. I wish I realized beforehand I didn't have enough pecans, because a crunchier bite would have made the muffins even better.

morning glory muffins!
Truth be told, the reason I put it off is because I loathe grating cups and cups of veggies/fruit. Procrastination at its finest!

morning glory muffins!
My biggest pet peeve about muffins are squatty, hockey puck things, usually resulting from underfilled cups. When the recipe says to "fill to the brim", you best be filling those cups to the brim. Mine were filled just under the brim because I can't read real well.

morning glory muffins!
You should make these muffins. Alex, who isn't a muffin man, enjoyed two of them. My writing club group did, too. From this batch, I got twenty-two muffins -- enough for eating now, and some left over to freeze for later.

I insist you start your morning off right by getting up immediately and baking these glorious muffins. They'll come in handy for fueling your weekend adventures. I'll see you when I get back from my hike!
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