Kathy and Jeff Crisler

Kathy and Jeff Crisler

“Planting according to the phases of the moon is an old practice. Whether or not there is any benefit in doing so is left to the opinion of the reader, That being said, one cannot dispute the beauty of a moonlit evening in Vermont.”

The New Farmer’s Dictionary – 1st Edition

Our final camping destination on our recent vacation was Ricker Pond State Park located in east-central Vermont. As I have expressed before, getting me off the farm is more difficult than getting a politician these days to answer a direct question with a direct answer. What finally got me to agree to leave for vacation and a stay at this particular park was a negotiated agreement with my wife.

Yes, I am unashamed to admit that it was indeed quid pro quo! My wife has perfected the “art of the deal” and tempted me with many side trips to local eateries recommended on TripAdvisor.

Food is, of course, my weakness of which my wife is well aware. She is an excellent cook and knows that she can get me to agree to almost anything with the right calorie-laden dish.

The descriptions of the desserts on the local menus looked absolutely amazing and made my mouth water in a way that no Little Debbie snack has ever done. This tipped the balance and finally set me looking forward to the trip.

Ricker Pond State Park is located just a few miles north of Groton, Vermont on Vermont state Route 232. This year, the park received the coveted “Vermont State Park of the Year” award and, as I found out during our stay, deservedly so.

The park was quiet and immaculate, and I was surprised to see that the common areas and campground paths were carefully raked each day. The staff raked in circling, swirling designs that removed debris, but left the soil intact. Quite fascinating!

As we had traveled through the White Mountains of New Hampshire and headed into Vermont, I found myself thinking of John Blackburn’s lyrics to “Moonlight in Vermont” — a song my parents often sang when I was young and was popular in the 1940s...

”Telegraph cables, how they sing down the highway

as they travel each bend in the road.

People who meet in this romantic setting

are so hypnotized by the lovely...Moonlight in Vermont.”

As we were about to turn onto state Route 232, I noticed a small diner on the right side of the road with a sign identifying it as the “Upper Valley Grill & General Store.” It appeared to me as if it were just one of many types of diners that you used to see at the intersections of so many country roads. This was before the interstates took over the lion’s share of traffic and the fast food restaurants flocked to build along the exits like a fall swarm of Asian lady bugs.

I did not give the grill much thought until we had heard so many gushing recommendations from campers and the rangers about the delicious maple cream pie that, of course, I had to give the grill a try.

Upon entering, we were greeted by Bill, the friendly owner. Robin and Blenda, who cook at the restaurant, expertly moved around the kitchen as they greeted and served the customers. I could tell that these women were experienced cooks who excelled at cooking meals that farmers like myself love.

These women were down-home Vermont farm-friendly and took the time to chat with us at length. No dainty servings on plates decorated with wisps of parsley or other fluff greenery here! Their famed breakfast dish, which I enjoyed on our last morning in Vermont — the “The Garbage Omelet” — was so packed with bacon, that it would have made a pig squeal in fear. Although I have been known to eat vast quantities of food at one sitting, I could not eat the entire omelet and saved the rest until later.

The “coup de resistance” of the cafe was, of course, their homemade pies. These home-cooked delicacies would make even Aunt Bee blush with envy! A favorite at the top of this list was their maple cream pie. Made with Vermont maple syrup and topped with freshly whipped cream, it was heaven to a pie-fanatic like me. Since I also had their fresh raspberry pie made from berries gathered from the backyard of the baker (I never said I was not a glutton), it was a hard call to say which pie was better.

As I reread what I have written so far, I find I have mentioned nothing about our hiking and camping adventures in and around the park.

I find that so often in my life, it is the culinary highlights that I remember most! I have not yet included details about our visit to the “Rainbow Sweets Cafe and Bakery” in Marshfield, Vermont in this article, but I will be sure to include them in the next.

So, until next time, pie for now!

Jeff and Kathy Crisler own a farm where they raise bees, berries and blisters. They are both retired and have two children and six grandchildren. Jeff wrote this column to be published in The Logan Daily News. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.

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