Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jan was in the kitchen!!

Ever had one of those days when you can't believe how you can screw up something so simple? Well, put me in the kitchen and it can happen easily (along with other places of course!)
Over the winter months, I have tried lots of new recipes and hit upon some really good ones. I made a lot of different soups and we especially loved the stuffed pepper soup and a chicken black bean chili. I had built some cooking confidence up so making this meal was going to be a snap in comparison.
Antone's Restaurant located in our area here in NE Ohio makes a salad they used to call a "monkey salad". It is so good that we worked on making it as close to theirs as possible. There are only a few ingredients and it tastes so good.
So I buy the lettuce and shredded mozzarella cheese, had the sweet vinegar and olive oil dressing along with the two cans of tuna fish in the pantry. Ken picked up 1/4 pound of hard salami and croutons. This was enough to make salad using two heads of lettuce.
I got my cutting board out and chopped the lettuce into bite sized pieces. For some reason, they were falling all over the place and Sugar was helping clean up the floor.  I sliced the salami into small squares like Antone's does and again, like the lettuce , it wanted to spread all over the counter. The cheese package was opened and waiting.
I used my biggest glass bowl and put the lettuce, salami and a generous amount of cheese in. We put our own dressing on the salad to suit our tastes (although Antone's has it on there when they serve it). In case we didn't eat it all, I didn't want the lettuce to get soggy. We added our own croutons for the same reason, I hate soggy croutons.

As I'm making the salad, it just doesn't look right to me. We start eating and I mention that it seems like something is missing this time. Ken had already told me it was good but didn't mention that he thought the same thing. We took a few more bites and Ken remembered the tuna fish was missing. I take our dishes and head back to fix the salad up right. That's more like it!
So you think I have accomplished my mission right? Nope. Remember, we put our own dressing on each helping. I went back out to refill our plates and the dressing had settled. I gave it a good shake to mix it up before pouring it on our salads and ended up wearing it all over me, the floor and the counter. You guessed it, I didn't have the lid on tight because I knew we would be using it again. So clean up the floor once again, this time not letting Sugar help. 
Maybe I need to go back to following a recipe again.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goodbye Mosquito Man

Mosquito Lake State Park Campgrounds has a lot of great features - the lake itself, good fishing, campground activities, marina and beach close by, and great campsites. One of the longstanding attributes of the campground was Ray Best, known as the Mosquito Man. 

Ray started out as a camper himself at Mosquito, accompanied by his wife, Liz. He enjoyed the campground so much that he applied for a job one weekend while he was camping. Shortly thereafter Ray was hired and worked in the check in station.

Anyone entering the check-in station was greeted with a smile when Ray was on duty. He was always available to patiently answer the same questions most previous first time campers to Mosquito had already asked. He willingly helped the campers with any problems they might incur and offered suggestions to help them. If a camper became unjustly upset with Ray about a rule or regulation, he would calmly say, still smiling, “You’ll have to take that up with management.”

He was the kind of man you could sit and talk to for hours. His gentle nature was inviting. Ken loved to go to the check in station on Sunday mornings and have coffee with Ray while he worked. He loved to hear Ray tell stories in his slow gravelly voice about days gone by.

Ray loved Mosquito Lake so much that he had a mosquito tattooed on his arm, thus he became known as the Mosquito Man. During the Halloween Bash weekend, there normally is a scavenger hunt. One of the things the kids would need to find was “Mosquito Man”. Ray would sit patiently outside his campsite and watch the kids hurrying by, trying to figure out where the Mosquito Man could be. Eventually they put it together with the clues and would ask him if he was “the Mosquito Man”. He would roll up his sleeve and show them his tattoo, mark their cards, and the children would wander off in awe that there really was a “Mosquito Man” at the campgrounds.

Ray was known by so many people that it took him a longer than normal amount of time to get from his camper to the check in station because everyone would stop him to talk. Ray and Liz’s golf cart had a cover they could snap in place to keep them dry when it rained. Ken and I used to tease Ray and tell him he looked like the Pope in the Pope Mobile.
Ray passed away this week peacefully with Liz and his son by his side. Site #48 will not be the same without Ray. Mosquito Lake Campers will share many memories of Ray for years to come. He will not be forgotten by the campers and campground visitors who were lucky enough to know him.

While we may swat, spray, light candles and Tiki torches to avoid mosquitoes and keep them at bay, we will never “Zap” the Mosquito Man from our hearts. We miss you already Ray.