What a glorious day we had on Monday! We set out for Big Valley at about 8:15 a.m. with our good friend Ron O; unfortunately we had to turn around after discovering that both Jeff and I thought the other had grabbed the camera bag – typical married couple stuff! Anyway, once we picked up the camera, we were set! We decided to take the back roads and meander our way through the glorious orange, yellow, gold and rust leaf-covered trees. While we drove, we talked about a million things – catching up like friends do. We stopped to take some photos at an abandoned mill and the devilish part of me looked for secret ways into the building, but alas Ron kept me in check.
We arrived in the valley and headed for the Erhard’s home. Denny and Sue are friends of Ron’s who also happen to go to our church, but whom Jeff and I have not yet met. They graciously hosted us for the day. I will tell you for certain that Ron really knows how to live! When we arrived at the Denny and Sue’s home we were greeted warmly and graciously treated to a home cooked breakfast of a wonderful egg and sausage soufflé-like casserole (had we not forgotten the camera it would have been puffier, but it could not have been more delicious), sweet watermelon, pumpkin cinnamon rolls and some very scrumptious biscuit like rolls from one of the stops we’d be making later in the day. Sue is a wonderful cook, a warm and generous hostess and she is a whimsical jam-maker. The one we were served was entitled “Traffic Jam,” which was an end of the season mixed berry jam that was quite delicious!
After breakfast, Sue acted as our tour guide around the valley in which she grew up. We heard stories about how and where she met Denny; about her mother – who I wish I could have met before she passed – who was the post-mistress in Allenville, among other pursuits; about growing up in the valley; and many other great tales! We visited produce stands and Amish farms where Sue buys baked goods. We visited an Amish furniture shop and Peight’s Store where we found many things to buy including deli meats and cheeses at fantastic prices and spices and soup mixes recommended by Sue.
We stopped several times to take pictures of an assortment of things including pumpkins and gourds, farm equipment, cats and cows (not together), changing leaves, wash lines (Monday is wash day), Amish farmers plowing their fields, Amish children returning home from school, and the general beauty of the valley. As we rode around we bemoaned the fact that we did not have enough time to see all that we wanted to in one day. But in the short time we had, I learned that Sue and I, although we have some stylistic differences, share much in common. We both love to cook, eat and entertain, we both love to write and we both love to read. We talked with one another about our favorite recipes, and our cooking styles.
When we returned to Sue’s house after our adventure in the valley she served us another incredible meal. It was like a chicken pot pie only better. It was warm and creamy and served over what looked like crackers, but were actually pieces of cooked pie dough (what a great idea). The side dishes were peas, a wonderful cranberry jello-ish salad, and a homey salad with warm bacon dressing that was not at all like the cliché bacon dressing you sometimes get on a buffet. Instead it was warm and light and delish! The final culinary straw was a triple chocolate cake with a gooey glaze that would only have been better had it been calorie free!
All in all, the day was a huge success. We roamed the beautiful countryside in excellent weather, ate incredible home-made food in a warm and inviting atmosphere, and made some terrific new friends! The only thing missing from the day was Ron’s lovely wife, Leslie – unfortunately she had to work, but someone has to bring home the bacon for warm bacon dressing!!!
Click here to view more of the photos from the day!