We've been doing a driving vacation this past week, visiting with family and friends. After our first stop in the Lehigh Valley where we visited with Liz's dad, step-mom and sister, we headed out to Hackettstown, New Jersey - which is in the Central and Norther part of the Garden state. Our travels brought us to a dear friend's house, Lynnette and her fun and lovely family. Our drive was through scenic and rural towns of the Lehigh and into New Jersey. Rolling hills, farmland, old quaint towns and many road side stands. Along the way we passed a lot of old fashioned diners, ice cream shops and other nostalgic eating establishments of a bye-gone era. We drove about an hour and fifteen minutes further than the Lehigh Valley before we got to Lynnette's house - not too far and we were in the car just long enough for Nate to have taken a short "power" nap. Upon arriving at Lynnette's, we unloaded and hauled in our mass of traveling gear. It ain't easy to leave home with a 22 month old boy! Once we settled in at her house, Lynnette took us into her dining room where she had a set out an afternoon tea for us - complete with scones with clotted cream and jam; tea sandwiches (Fluff & Nutella! PB&J, Cucumber and Cream cheese, and Tuna); iced tea, lemonade, hot tea and lemon cooler cookies. We ate, talked and got reacquainted and had a lovely civilized afternoon. Even Nate enjoyed himself, eating strawberries and several tea sandwiches (I think we discovered a new bread and food group for our picky Nibblet to enjoy!)
For the rest of the afternoon, we talked and the kids ran around the yard. Well, I should say we took turns talking while one of us ran after Nate. Lynnette's development has an open layout so the yards continuously flow into one another with only trees and driveways separating the houses between streets. I made up for the lack of biking and extra calories I've been enjoying from my candy, cheese and tea tour thus far. Nate has a lot of energy and I burned it up with him during our afternoon of play, totally working up an appetite for Lynnette's Polish Feast she had planned for our dinner.
We were treated to grilled kielbasa and sauerkraut; homemade golumpki (cabbage leaves stuffed with ground meats and rice, cooked in a sweet tomato sauce with kraut and onions); pierogies and onions, and rye bread. It was a meal memory from my childhood, taking me back to my Bobci's kitchen and to the Polish Home Picnics of my youth. When you combine happy food memories and delicious food lovingly prepared by someone special you have the recipe for the perfect meal. Lynnette went all out for us and dinner was phenomenal, better than any Polish style meal I've ever had. Now I just need the recipes so I can attempt to recreated it and share it further!
Plans for the rest of our visit in the land of Mars Chocolate, headquarters for North America's M&M manufacturer include an early morning bike ride for me, arranged by Lynnette with her good friend, Tara; a visit to a local farm and peach picking; pizza and a stop at a huge old-fashioned candy store and lunch at Hot Dog Johnny's - a New Jersey Landmark since 1944. I think I'm going to need a bigger pair of pants!