Cooking Up A Storm

While it is sunny and beautiful outside - somewhat rare for this time of year but the norm for this winter - there is a flurry of activity going on inside.

One of the 'fun' things we do between seasons is check out new recipes - and you thought all the food at Elk Lake just happened to be good! In reality, before any recipe makes it to our Elk Lake Kitchen Recipe Book, it is tried at least once, usually several times. This, of course, is to test for quality and taste. Friends and family critique all options. Then changes are made, or not.

It is not uncommon for a recipe undergo several adjustments along the way. First there is the time issue. To make sure your plate arrives at the table bearing all the various aspects which make up your dinner meal, we must work the kinks out of our coordination. Then there is the ingredient issue. As you can imagine, while we keep a well-stocked larder, there are limits. Thus we find it necessary, at times, to adjust the basic ingredients to make a recipe more 'Elk Lake friendly.' Then there is the taste issue. Elk Lake is known for its country gormet food. Essentially this means we strive for classy, well-presented food, above the standard fare, yet simply and hearty and delicious. Some recipes, therefore, just need to be adjusted to fit our 'style.'

Our guests have come to expect good food - nothing frilly or fancy yet always, we hope, just a tad above the typical. Thus we practice and test and taste and try and start all over again this time of year. You might find it interesting to see the process. Thus, this post is all about the 'food' side of Elk Lake.

Keep in mind, not everything we try will end up on our menu. The two recipes featured in this post may turn up - may not. The one, King Sausage, is, perhaps, the best all around sausage recipe we have found. The flavor is spectacular! However, because sausage-making is a fairly labor-intensive process, it is unlikely you will find this tasty treat in many of our entrees. The other recipe, Down Home Coconut Pecan Candybar Cake, is about as difficult to make as its name is to remember. Another absolutely fantastic recipe, this cake is everything it promises and more. However, this recipe, too, will only be offered once-a-year or by special request on a very special occassion because this is no quick and easy fix!

The day started with sausage. First grind the meat. Then grind it again. Then add the spices.

Then mix and mix. Then run it through the grinder one more time to fill the casings.

Once the casings are filled, they must airdry before going into the smoker for several hours.

Out of the smoker and into the oven until they reach the perfect temperature.

From the oven to a cool water bath to cool the quickly.

A bit more air drying is the last step before they go into the freezer or refrigerator, depending on how fast we are going to consume them.

And thus the first half of our day hurried by. However, there was yet another project up our sleeves. After all, no meal is complete without dessert! Thus we began the process. First pierce the coconuts and drain their milk. Mix that with sugar and cook it down to a thick, rich syrup which we will 'paint' on the baked cake layers.

Then split the coconuts and remove the meat. After it is shredded in the food processor, a portion is toasted for the filling and the frosting.

Next we mix the batter and prepare it for the oven. Four layers are a bit much - but our end product will be quite a cake!

While the batter bakes, the filling is prepared then set aside to cool slightly.

Baked through the cake layers take on a golden hue.

Fresh from the oven we coat the cake layers several times with the warm coconut milk syrup.

After the layers cooled, we put together our giant confection. While the finished product needed a bit of adjustment for looks, the flavor was spectacular!

And so, just another 'vacation day' at Elk Lake ended with many good things to eat!

Lady of the Lake

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