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Local Chides God on Easter Holiday

1322148086Yg4Rot[1]     LONG POND, Pennsylvania (FNS) A Christian critic, known for voicing his displeasure with Heavenly decisions released a statement Thursday criticizing the timing of the resurrection. Iben N. Esshol told FNS that God had it all wrong over 2,000 years ago. “Look,” said Iben, “think of the situation. You’re God, for His sake. You know everything, you know the future. You’re sending your only son down to Earth to die a horrible death and redeem the sins of mankind. You’re going to raise him from the dead, and you know this is going to be a pretty big deal. You know it’s gonna be a holiday for thousands of years in the future. And you pick a SUNDAY? That’s the best you come up with? You can’t leave the Kid down there for another 24 hours so people could have a 3 day weekend almost forever? That is really piss poor planning. I’m sorry but I gotta call ‘em as I see ‘em. Easter is a bogus ‘holiday.’ The Big Guy screwed up on this one.”

Romance and Fine Dining at the Emerald Grill

Lola Lauri

I "heart" Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

I “heart” Creamy Tomato Basil Soup.

If you haven’t been to the Emerald Grill recently, you will be amazed at all the positive changes that have transformed it from a dreary room with mediocre food to a brightly-decorated, clean eatery with food to rival many local restaurants at prices that cannot be beat.
Central to these changes is the addition of Chef Todd Wilczewski. Charming and passionate about cooking, Chef Todd speaks eagerly of his hopes for our restaurant. “Not only are we making changes to the menu to attract more members,” he told me, “but I want to be a resource for everyone in the community. I plan to work with the cooking club to offer workshops and ideas. I want to give everyone a chance to learn about good cooking.”
Originally from Pennsylvania, Todd comes to us after many years in Atlanta, Georgia, where he received his degree in Culinary Arts. His food is featured on the cover of the textbook On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals, and he worked as a chef in Atlanta before joining us here.
Having been the victim of several culinary disasters at the Emerald Grill in the past, we were reluctant to try another meal at the Community Center. Does anyone else remember the St. Patrick’s Day disaster with its shoe-leather corned beef and grainy, still-powdered instant mashed potatoes? Recollections of 25 minute waits for a simple drink, uninspired menus and unappealing buffets replete with overcooked vegetables and bland main dishes had driven us away. The dreary lighting, dark tablecloths, and overcrowded furniture, all placed to hide the disgusting, stained and ratty carpeting kept us from returning.
It was only the rave reviews on Facebook of patrons declaring their joy at the changes that convinced Bob and I to join the Whelans for a Valentine’s Day celebration at the Grill.
With low expectations and a determination to enjoy the company in spite of any possible problems, we arrived for the 6:15 seating. I looked around at the recently renovated and redecorated dining room. Brand new floors and lovely light-colored tablecloths brighten the room considerably. Curtains soften the view to the bar and the pool areas. Beautiful roses graced the tables and holiday decorations were placed on the walls. The lit fireplace lent its glow to the ambiance. Fewer tables meant that the room was comfortably full, but not crowded. Soft dinner music, provided by “Rob and Blue J”, added to the festive atmosphere. Already we could sense that this would be a large improvement on any of our prior experiences here.

New Emerald Grill Chef Todd Wilczewski.

New Emerald Grill Chef Todd Wilczewski.

Our waitress, the lovely Melissa, introduced herself and quickly delivered our drink orders. And then…the appetizers. Cajun crab cakes with a delicious sauce (What was that wonderful sauce, Chef Todd?) and a tomato basil crostini that was rich and tangy. It occurs to me how much details matter when we are dining out. The appetizers were delicious, but they were also plated so nicely that the experience was delightful even before the first bite. The red wine sauce on the beef was fragrant and rich, and the raspberry sauce on the cheesecake was, when combined with the white chocolate chips, a superb feast for both the eyes and the appetite. The strawberries on the chocolate mousse were fresh and juicy and sliced just to the stem, so they looked beautiful and provided a small slice for each bite of chocolate.
One thing the Emerald Grill offers that is simply not possible in a commercial restaurant is the sense of community. Throughout dinner, we visited and were visited by our neighbors, (though we did not see a single board member this evening!) and we chatted about the meal and the neighborhood. Manager Ryan Culverson and his staff kept everything running smoothly in the background as we enjoyed one another’s company. With all the pieces in place, the center really can function as the heart of ELA. At the end of the evening, Chef Todd stepped out of the kitchen to greet us all. He accepted compliments gracefully and chatted about his plans for improving the kitchen even more.
As we bundled up and headed out into the snow, I looked back at the room and smiled. The Emerald Grill is finally ready for business.

Superbowl Treats: Recipes

chicken-wings21[1]Very Super Wings: The Beast
By Buz Whelan
I call this recipe the beast because the first time I made it some 24 years ago I used 6 tablespoons of butter, 6 tablespoons of hot sauce and 6 tablespoons of honey for the sauce. 666 is the sign of ‘the beast,’ the name for the devil during the middle ages. How many tablespoons of each you use depends on how many wings you’re making and how plump they are. This recipe is for 2 packages of Purdue Wingettes, my choice because they are plumper and meatier than most supermarket whole wings, and you don’t have that wasteful tip. If you do use whole wings, chop them into sections. Use the tips to make chicken stock, not in this recipe. I use Frank’s Hot Sauce because it doesn’t have the undertaste that I find in Tabasco. Use your favorite. Walmart’s Great Value would do fine.
2 packages Purdue Wingettes, 1 ½ lbs each
2 sticks lightly salted butter (1 cup)
1 C hot sauce
1 C honey, any variety (clover, apple blossom, etc)
Crisp the wing sections under your broiler being careful not to burn. About 5 minutes 3” from flame on each side should do, but monitor carefully because broilers vary greatly. Make sauce by melting butter in a saucepan and then adding hot sauce and honey. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring frequently. Place wings in disposable aluminum pan, cover with sauce. Bake covered in a low oven (250 degrees) for at least an hour or up to an hour and a half. Wings may be prepared a day ahead, refrigerated and reheated at the time of serving.

Taco Pizza: A Super Treat
By Buz Whelan
This recipe is more about assembling than cooking. It combines elements of foods that are favorites for game-watching, including tacos and nachos.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 envelopes taco seasoning
Tomato sauce (according to seasoning directions)
½ to ¼ lb Monterey jack cheese, coarsely grated
15 oz can black olives, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped to ½ chunks
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Package plain taco or tortilla chips
Hot salsa, to taste
Brown meat, drain off excess fat, add seasoning, tomato sauce and water according to package directions. Cover a 14” microwaveable platter with the chips. Top with the seasoned beef. Top beef with salsa according to what you can take. Place the sliced olives, chopped tomatoes and onion randomly all over the meat. Sprinkle the grated cheese to cover the assembled platter and place in the microwave until cheese is melted (alternately, you can place under oven broiler being careful not to burn). Use a pie server to make individual portions on smaller plates.

Ten Resolutions You Can Realistically Expect to Keep

new-years-resolutions[1]     A recent survey revealed that only 8% of respondents report keeping a New Year’s resolution. Since this number is based on self-report you can bet the success rate is even less. Why is this? It’s simple: people make crappy resolutions, ones that are near impossible to keep. They’re doomed from the start. So, here’s our solution. Try one or more of these resolutions. Hell, try ‘em all. We bet you can keep them if you put your mind to it.

Ten Resolutions You Can Realistically Expect to Keep:

I resolve

1. To gain weight

2. To take up or increase smoking

3. To go deeper into debt

4. To be more judgmental of people around me

5. To avoid exercise

6. To eat more salty, fatty foods

7. To drink more

8. To ignore ‘Friend’ requests

9. To settle scores and take revenge – to forgive no one

10. To unhesitatingly tell my friends what they must do to improve themselves

11. To break wind with total abandon


10 Things I Don’t Like About Christmas


Yum....said no one ever

Yum….said no one ever

There are lots of wonderful things about Christmas – parties, family gatherings, decorations, carols, movies, presents, and more – but there are also at least

10 Things I Don’t Like About Christmas

1. Fruitcake

2. Annual Letter Updates that come with Christmas cards

3. Receiving a re-gift

4. Aunt Rose’s soggy string bean casserole

5. Uncle Charlie’s same old corny jokes

6. Shopping mobs

7. Icicle lights going out after you put the ladder away

8. Ugly sweaters

9. Drunken houseguests

10. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye in “White Christmas” (Yeah, I know a lot of you actually like this terribly corny movie. Watch it again.)

Maybe you’d like to share your Christmas dislikes. We’d love your comments.

Holiday Decorating Contest – The Winners!

Santa visited ELA Today

The Year in Review

You know those boring, annoying annual family summaries that some people sendil_fullxfull.288419109[1] along with their Christmas cards? Well, here’s our version all about the Emerald Lakes family, every bit as annoying, but perhaps a teensy less boring.

Merry Christmas, one and all.  This is your dear cousin Emmy (as in Emerald Lakes, get it?).  It’s the most wonderful time of the year and all, so I thought I would sit down and remind you of all the fun we have had this past year.

Our annual family reunion at the Pocono Mountain West High School went as well as could be expected; which is to say it was embarrassing.  It started when one of the twins (who can tell them apart?) complained that having to put her ballots into two different boxes was really hard and she didn’t think that our family was smart enough to handle such stringent requirements.   When we were done laughing, we got to vote, but nothing was passed.  Nothing.  After spending three years rewriting our bylaws so they don’t force the board to break the rules by requiring them to travel back in time each year to present a budget to the family in August that has to be passed in May, the very few folks that showed up said the new rules weren’t any good because they got cooties on them when some unsavory person touched them.  Also, the extended family that can’t show up to vote weren’t there to vote that they can mail-in their votes, so the meanies that did show up made sure there won’t be mail-in votes so they’ll never be able to vote. Guess they showed who’s boss here.

There was a changing of the guard this year, with Lola Lollipop’s hubby, Bobby deciding to step away from the fighting at the table at the end of his term, and later, Red Sox Johnny C stepping down too. They were replaced by Dapper Dan G. and the talkative, but lovable, Margie F.  We all look forward to seeing what kind of mark these two will leave on our fair family’s business dealings but, with the holidays, they haven’t had much of a chance to work. You know, between Labor Day and New Year’s, there is just no time to actually do anything. 

There have been big doings at the Community Center this year.  When the ratty carpeting became one big stain instead of hundreds of smaller stains, we finally got new tile flooring installed.  There were fights, with some insisting that mold was a lovely shade for a carpet, but they got the new beige floor in just in time for the Haunted House folks to bleed all over it.  They had crazy clowns chopping up bodies for the entertainment of parents who love to watch their kids pee in their pants.  It’s a great service these folks provide; for the rest of the year when the kids get out of line one only has to say “the clowns won’t like that.” and the kids will walk straight and narrow without argument (although a few are still wetting the bed). Anyway, for the maybe twenty days a year when we actually have more than five people in the dining room, this floor is an investment that will probably go paying for itself indefinitely.

We were all very worried and excited when crazy Joanne found oil in the well, but after everyone in the world looked at all the wells around her place and found it nowhere else, I figure someone probably got mad at her for one of her late night, spirits-induced rants and just dumped a can of Valvoline’s finest directly into the pump. Which is a good thing, because we really don’t want all the wells around here tested.  Word might get out and our property values could plummet. (I prefer bottled water anyway, don’t you?)

The fight against fun has continued throughout the year, with some of our family members taking their noise complaints to mom and dad at the board. They were mad because some people partied on Summer nights. Oooh. Partying in the Summer? We’ll put a stop to that! Since they don’t have any fun friends like that, they don’t think any of us should be allowed to have them over or laugh and dance to music.  After listening to both sides, our esteemed Patriarch Al told us all that he didn’t see anything and couldn’t prove anything, so no one would be punished, but we  can be sure that he will make sure the babysitters at Public Safety keep an eye on things over there.  The Aunties were smirking, and I guess they are going to be looking for anything they can find to keep the noise down over there.  In the meantime, Mean Old Millie (MOM) got her friends at Rules and Regs to pass a “no loitering” rule, just to make sure everyone is in bed before dark.  Don’t get caught outside after dark, or you may get in big trouble!  And while we’re at it, if you have something to say, you better say it here and not on a sign on your lawn, because they also passed a rule about signs.  In fact, I am a little worried about my “Merry Christmas” sign.  Technically, it’s against the rules, isn’t it?  Oh, but wait, signs are okay if they say things that the Aunties like.  It’s only bad if it personally offends them.  You see, that’s the problem with the fight against fun; it’s only enforced against the family members that the older generation doesn’t like.

As for this blog, most of you know by now that crazy Uncle Buz and Lola Lollipop have been writing like crazy.  MOM and Auntie Carmen  got a bee in their bonnets and decided that they were talking waaaay too much about things they would rather forget and and that people were better off not knowing so, after trying enough times, they finally got a couple of the boys on the board to make a rule about the paper only telling their side of any story.  Since Uncle Buz and Lola Lollipop just don’t ever know when to shut up, they decided that the board could keep its silly little paper, and they would finally step out of the dark ages and write to you all online.  It seems to be working out pretty well, too, because they can talk everyday now, instead of waiting two whole months for the paper to be published.

Speaking of our little family’s online presence, let’s talk about the new website purchased with the TOPS system for more than $10,000.  This little beauty is supposed to do everything.  Billing, accounts, property records, newsletter, website, probably even the laundry, who knows?  This amazing piece of electronic wizardry managed to … well, there is a website now. Many of us remember the good old days, when we used Cousin Leon’s website. Of course, it was free, and you get what you pay for, right?  Leon’s website had lots of news and pictures, it was updated daily, and questions were answered promptly.  It had an easy to read format for finding information on events, committees, and board actions. It even  had contact numbers for the staff and the board. Yessir, cousin Bob did a bang-up job. So, of course, they fired him. Then they tried launching their brand new TOPS website. And the very first thing it did was publish all the names, addresses, home and work phone numbers and email addresses of every single member. Whoops.  It’s been about five months since they launched the new website, and well, let’s just hope the other parts of the system work a little better than the website module.  It should be working like they promised any day now.

We celebrate all the holidays here in Emerald Lakes, just not the way most families do.  There’s Independence Day (no fireworks, of course, that would be fun), Veteran’s Day (there was a lovely memorial wreath put out for 5 minutes to commemorate the occasion, but it had to be taken in so it wouldn’t be stolen), and Halloween. Now on Halloween we don’t trick or treat; we trunk or treat. In theory it’s a great idea. Kids go to the Community Center parking lot and generous townfolk open their treat-filled trunks to the costumed kids. It’s supposed to be for two hours, but what happens is that the early arrivals just keep circling the lot endlessly, going back again and again and filling their greedy little bags until all the treats are gone. It generally takes about 20 minutes. And then there’s nothing left for the later arrivals. Oh well. But this year, we are doing Christmas right.  Christmas caroling at the Main Entrance. (Just don’t stay too long, or you will get fined for loitering!) On December 22 from 1 to 3, Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit the Community Center and the children will perform in a play called “Help Santa Save Christmas”.  You should all come so we can talk about the ones that don’t show up.

‘Till next year,

Merry Christmas from Aunt Emmy and the Emerald Lakes Free Press!

ELA’s Got Talent – At The Speakeasy Lounge

Lola Lauri

A long day of Christmas shopping and a cold, gray and wet day had us craving some good music and a cozy place to relax

Long Time Comin' (and friends) performing at the Speakeasy Lounge

Long Time Comin’ (and friends) performing at the Speakeasy Lounge

with friends. We rolled into the Speakeasy only minutes after the featured band, Long Time Comin’, had begun their first set.  There was a nice crowd, and we joined Scott and Maria at the last available table by the bar as the band launched into “Mustang Sally”.

A mix of regulars and tourists filled the room, along with a number of ELA residents.  Our neighbor Ron was there, with some friends from New York, out for a weekend of hunting.  Mark and Meredith Mecca showed up, ready for some fun and, lucky for us, Mark brought along his saxophone. The Meccas are ELA members of over a decade.  Mark usually plays with the Cove Haven house band Something Else, but on this night, to everyone’s delight, Read the rest of this entry

Holiday Lights Contest – Update

T    We have announced a Holiday Lights contest and given you the rules, which are pretty much no rules except you have to enter. Obviously this was too much. So let’s try again.

We are having a Christmas/Holiday Lights contest with a real prize for the winner (who will be whoever Buz and I think has the coolest display.) If you do enter (and there is still time!) you can be sure we’ll include you in the judging. But, because of the underwhelming response (exactly no entries), we’re changing the one rule. (We can do that because this is our contest)  Here it is:

You don’t have to enter.

Now, isn’t that easy enough? So, by unpopular demand, no effort whatsoever on your part is necessary. One night close to 12/25 we’ll cruise around and pick out our idea of the best. If we miss your house, that’s on you. You could’ve entered.

     Lola Lauri, Editor, Emerald Lakes Free Press
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