Close your eyes and imagine the place on this planet that makes you the happiest. Hands down, for me, there is one place on Earth that makes me completely happy. I only have to stand there, take a deep breath, embrace my surroundings, and I am totally at peace.
That place is Platte Lake in Northern Michigan. I've been going there since the early '70s when my dad and uncle jointly bought a fishing cabin. Over the years, I've gone "up north" in high school (with Peggy when she said we could sip a half a beer and jump up and down and it would make us feel "drunk"), in college (oh, those fires on the beach), and with my beautiful young kids in a newer cottage that my dad bought on the opposite shore of the lake.
These days, I rent an old log house (complete with beach, dock and huge screened porch) from a rabid (gasp) U of Michigan fan. We love Platte Lake and even as the kids grow up, they all say it's their favorite week of the entire year.
My cousins and their children also converge that week, and all the kids jump into a conversation that they started the previous year. You know how that is? They don't talk for 12 months and then they just pick up where they left off. On jet skis, on tubes, at the fabulous sand bar, around the campfire.
Now Merry Mount is my happy place too.
I realized this, last weekend, when I got that same ol' peaceful feeling when I got out of the car and ambled across the land and looked at the wide-open spaces. Deep breath. Oh yeah, this makes me happy.
Last weekend Jim and Dave and I hung out happily at Merry Mount with Pat and Rett. We had planned on a big bonfire to scorch a huge pile of old bushes and brush. But, as the fireman across the street advised, it was a tad too windy to ignite a big fire.
No prob. We hunkered down, made some fabulous pots of soup (sausage/kale and roasted tomato) and popped open a bottle of vino. Good friends and good food; who needs anything more? Even the dogs got along; Rio was a lot less anxious at this sleep-over; I think she knew we were just visiting and I wasn't going to leave her! She's a sweetheart.
Next morning -- Rett's breakfast.
Bacon, of course.
Her famous Southern biscuits. Yum. (secret recipe)
And with them, tomato gravy. I've always heard of tomato gravy but never had this southern specialty. Rett made 2 versions; one regular and one gluten free for me! Recipes below!
Tomato Gravy (Rett's directions):
Cook 3 or 4 pieces of bacon. Remove when done, but leave drippings in pan. Cut up a few fresh tomatoes or you can use a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes and add to pan. Let stew until mushy. Make a thin paste of 2 Tbls. plain flour (or cornstarch or gluten free flour for gluten free version) and milk to make about 1 cup. Get out all of the lumps and stir in with the tomatoes. Add more milk until a bit more pink and stir until it thickens. Serve over hot biscuits! Yummy !