For 16 years, my family has been going up to Sebec Lake in Maine for Labor Day, our beloved boat and a massive cooler of food in tow. This lake saw me grow up. It saw me chasing frogs, catching fish, and exploring its endless coves and woods. It looked on with a smile as we got ourselves into every form of trouble, including me getting my dad’s Jeep stuck in the mud all alone in the woods. These trips are rarely even about fishing for us, although we are pretty mean bassmasters. Sebec is our collective happy place….free from internet, tv, or phone service, we are forced to entertain ourselves with only each other’s company. And we do. It’s always hard to see the summer come to an end, but I’m grateful that I get to savor its final moments with people I love.
Like I said, we are really pro bassmasters, just check out this catch. My dad caught this sucker on day one. He had his best showing that day, and not even one problem with the boat. Eric joined us that night and we commenced what would be a three-day eat-a-thon with a little intermittent fishing. It made me very happy to share a place that is so near and dear to my heart with him.
We somehow manage to bring with us the contents of a small grocery store each year. The fridge was completely filled with food, top to bottom. I wish I got a picture. On our second night we made lamb with a mustard herb sauce to go with our wine. My mom likes to pretend I’m on Chopped or Top Chef and force me to get creative with whatever ingredients she brought along. This was a huge success. We all laughed over a failed attempt at our first polenta, and we had movie night. I fell asleep during movie night, vacation is hard work.
Sunday night was my favorite. Eric and I took a walk through the woods where we spotted a deer and saw a rainbow atop the mountains. We sat on the rocks, watching the sun set over the wind-blown lake, and Eric wrote our initials in a tree. Such a romantic.
Just before leaving on Monday, my mom and I cooked a miniature Thanksgiving feast. Isn’t that what normal families do on fishing trips??
Now it’s back to the grind. New Kindergarten students started today, and I go back to culinary school in 2 (!) days. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip.
I’ll leave you with the lamb recipe, it was a true gourmet feast in the middle of the woods. Hope you had a wonderful weekend also and celebrated the end of a fantastic summer.
Recipe: Lamb Chops with Mustard Herb Sauce
For the Lamb:
- 8 lamb chops
- 1 TBSP rosemary, finely chopped
- 1 tsp thyme, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated on microplane or grater
- 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Finely chop the thyme and rosemary. Add it to a small bowl along with grated garlic and 1 1/2 TBSP of the olive oil. Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and spread the herb olive oil mixture over them. Heat a large pan on medium high heat with the remaining olive oil. Sear the lamb chops on both sides just until brown and place on a baking sheet. Continue cooking in the oven until medium. They will give slightly when you press on them. They should only be in for about 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce in the same pan as the lamb chops were seared in, see below.
For the Sauce:
- 2 TBSP unsalted butter
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 TBSP flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 5 rosemary sprigs
- 5 thyme sprigs
- splash extra virgin olive oil, about 1 TBSP
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 TBSP Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper, to taste
In the pan that you used to sear the lamb, add butter on medium heat. Once the butter is melted, stir in the shallots, cooking for a couple minutes until soft. Add in the garlic for an additional minute. Stir in the flour and allow to cook for one minute, mixing constantly to distribute it. Slowly add in the chicken stock in three additions, using a whisk to incorporate well after each addition. Throw in the thyme and rosemary sprigs and allow to simmer until slightly thickened, about ten minutes, stirring frequently. Strain the sauce through a sieve and set aside. In the same pan, add in a splash of olive oil, and saute the mushrooms until soft. Add the strained sauce back in. Whisk sauce and add in the Dijon, as well as any juices that collected from the bottom of the pan that was used for the lamb. I had quite a bit of juices and it really added to the flavor. Season sauce generously with salt and add in some pepper. Whisk in the heavy cream. Taste to check for seasoning and serve atop the lamb.