Into the Woods

The first few seconds after turning onto the hidden gravel road make you wonder if you have the right place. The ruts which have been cut into the bluff twist and and turn for a mile, taking you deeper into the Adirondacks. Just when you've begun to wonder how you'll get yourself out of the tangle of overgrowth, the parking space suddenly opens in front of you and you've officially arrived at Pyramid Lake.

This hidden gem is a diocesan-run lakeside retreat center, compiled of cabins, lodge, and dining hall nested into the low-range mountains surrounding a lake which has never seen a motorized watercraft. When my childhood friend of 12+ years came for a visit, I knew it was the perfect spot for quality time and catch-up. The three of us piled into the truck and made the hour and a half trip North, bringing enough food for us and the cabin chipmunks. We played cards by the light of campfires, woke up to the sound of loons on the water, watched the early morning mist rise from the lake, hiked the bluffs, swam with the sunnies and the watersnake, read in the sunlight, kayaked and chatted over coffee. It was the perfect way to add a new chapter to this incredible friendship.



The sweetest of '"hello's" after a month-long drill. Poking about in 130+ year old farmhouses. Visiting Connecticut for the first time to wander through a playwright's personal castle. Hidden waterfalls on the Massachusett/New York border. Swimming in its ice-cold basin. Taking Michael to NY's largest garage-sale, watching his eyes grow bigger and bigger. Jumping into a new position (read dream job) at work: still pinching myself to make sure it's real. Goldenrod blazing the ditches along the drive home. Wedding planning dates after work, trying to tackle to-do lists while hungry and caffeinated (hint: not a good mix!). First taste of fried dough at the county fair. Flying to Bellagio with his entire family for his sister's wedding. Watching as their Italian heritage came out in full force. Eating gelato at least once, sometimes twice in a day. All the pasta. Climbing endless cobblestone steps. Waking up to the sound of church bells and doves in the eaves. Listening to the littles practice their "Ciao!" Scooter rides into Switzerland. Taking a wrong turn ending up on the speedway after being explicitly told that we weren't insured for that. Dancing the night away with family. Flying back to New York and having it feel like coming home.


Pumpkin Chocolate Scones

I'm not gonna lie. I bought a can of pumpkin on the last day of August. I knew that as soon as September hit I would be reaching for all the fall favorites ... chunky knits, leather booties, and everything pumpkin. While I've held out for a PSL (waiting for a really cool, crisp fall day for that!), these Inspired Taste pumpkin scones were quickly whipped up, spiced glaze and all. Best Friday night decision ever  made at 10:00 p.m.!

for the scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup chocolate chunks
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses 
3 tablespoons half and half
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the spiced glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons half and half

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and chocolate chunks together until blended.
Cut the butter into small cubes then scatter over the flour mixture. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to “cut” the butter into the flour until the mixture resembled coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized bits of butter, about 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, molasses, half and half, egg and vanilla extract until blended. Stir into the flour and butter mixture until a soft dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead three to four times until it comes together.

Pat the dough into a 10-inch by 7-inch rectangle (a rolling pin can be used here). Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise then cut into 4 even pieces crosswise, making eight rectangles. Cut each rectangle into two triangles, making 16 scones.

Transfer scones to baking sheet(s) then bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before adding glaze.

Serve with a piping hot cup of coffee!

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