Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

Back in the day (translation: pre-kids), Labor Day Weekend was a tailgate party. We packed up food for a few days, a portable bar, and along with 10 to 20 friends went off to Mansfield, Massachusetts to eat, drink and see Jimmy Buffett. They were great times. Unfortunately, I listen to a Buffett concert online a few weeks ago and...let's just say you can't go home again.

So now, as a family, we spend more time doing what would have done if we weren't so hung over from 2 days of power tail-gating. And that is the RING OF FIRE!!!! No, not the Johnny Cash song. On the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend at the Great Sacandaga Lake, everyone builds a bonfire. So you can sit along the shore and see fires pop up around the lake. Sporadic fireworks displays pop up all over too. Did I mention there would be adult beverages too?

Our day at the lake usually starts around lunch time. We fired up a homemade grill (remember the father-in-law with all the tools?). Not sure If talked about this grill here or somewhere else, but if you like fried hamburgers this thing kicks ass. You light a 20 lb bag of Kingsford in it. When it gets good and hot, you put the stainless steel cooking surface on. When that is good and hot, the burgers go on. The crust is unbelievable. And as the fat comes out of the burger fries in it. Confit is the only way I can think of describing it. Can you confit a burger? Here's the grill and some burgers and dogs cooking.

Check out this crust...

I also got to test out one of my latest projects. While I will agree that Newcastle is not the best beer in the world, I still like drinking it. And I love those little mini kegs. I wish other beers would start producing them. Wouldn't it be great to have 5 liters of your favorite beer on tap in your fridge? I can handle 5 liters, full kegs...I think I could physically drink one before it went bad, but I am sure I shouldn't. To keep the beer cold lakeside, I made some little ice rings.

It is a pasta pot filled with water. Then another pot is weighted down inside and the whole thing is frozen. A little warm water gets everything out of the molds.

quick check for fit...
and a tapped mini keg ready to spread ice cold joy and happiness to me and my brother-in-law.
and there you have proof my parents didn't waste money on an engineering degree.

One of the other things traditionally served at these Ring Of Fire weekends is clams. Lots of freaking clams. This year, 600 clams. All cooked lakeside on propane burners. Here's the set up:

the clams are cooking in olive oil, garlic and chopped parsely.

bowl after bowl was served. And then you ladle the broth over pasta. Good eatin.

As the sun went down. the fires started getting lit.

It was a good weekend. Kids, extended families and one last summer night at the lake.


  1. holy crap!!! that ice ring around the keg is genius!!!!!

  2. I second phairhead!! Brilliant! (ahhhh.... and the thought of a Buffet tailgate...good times!)

  3. Thanks for the ego boost, guys. Version 2 will have a bigger outer diameter for a thicker ring and a better fit into a cooler.

    I love little projects like that. They don't take a ton of time and they just make me so damned happy when they work. I giggled every time I un-molded a ring.