Cheers to those extraordinary moments, those breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, those unexpected connections. The ones in which my spirit awakens, in which I feel most alive and for which I am filled with a deep sense of appreciation.
It is to a place seen only by those fortunate few that I dedicate this piece.
To visit Lake Higgins is to take a step back in time, to a slower pace unconcerned with life’s most consuming trivialities. Anyone is invited, everyone pitches in, and nobody’s counting. Out there, it’s about the simplest forms of enjoyment, and enjoyment there is to be had. It’s a gift alone to be a part of it.
The Gillespies have a neighbor and friend who also spends her summers at the lake. Her name is Foxy, and her effervescent demeanor is a welcomed wake in the tranquil morning waters of Higgins. She’s just a joy to know.
When she heard of my passion for slow foods, canning, and farming, her excitement grew impossibly greater. She grew up on a farm, she told me, and she’s been eating food from jars since before refrigerators were a household staple. She even offered me a taste of her latest batch of homemade hot dog relish for me to taste and a recipe to bring home. It was her Grandma Norma’s recipe from when she was just a child, and it was simply delicious.
In cooking recipes both traditional and unique, there is something to be said for those tried and true, the ones that are passed down from generations before. For in those dishes lies the flavor of hard work and memories, the flavor of deeply rooted family traditions. It is the flavor of a weekend spent at Lake Higgins.
Hot Dog Relish, a recipe by Norma Gibbs
- 3 cups ground (well chopped) cucumbers
- 3 cups ground onions
- 3 cups chopped celery
- 2 Hungarian hot peppers
- 2 ground sweet red or yellow peppers
- 3/4 cup salt
- 1 1/2 quarts water
- 1 quart white vinegar
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. mustard seed
- 2 Tbsp. celery seed
A special thank you to The Gillespie Family for an always wonderful visit to Michigan and the lake. Also, to Foxy for the inspiration and wonderful family recipe.