With the coming of warm weather, come the thoughts of “going down to the shore.” To residents from our area, that can only mean the Jersey Shore. The distance is short enough to enable us the take day trips. The Jersey Shore is not just limited to summer and warm weather activities, but year-round activities as well.

The east coast of the state of New Jersey borders on the Atlantic Ocean. What is known as the Jersey Shore is a 130 mile coastline that starts with Sandy Hook (with a view of the New York skyline) south to Cape May.

More than 40 communities dot the coastline. Many are fairly well known and some not. Some cater only to summer visitors and residents. Some are year-round, full-fledged communities.

As there are so many communities, I can only highlight several. Let us start with Asbury Park, which is known for Jersey Shore rock and roll. It where Bruce Springsteen sharpened his skills, often at the Stone Pony Bar. The Jersey Shore sound is very much a part of Asbury Park, as MTV has a stronghold in the area.

Spring Lake reflects back to the Gilded Age of the 19th and 20th centuries. It served as a coastal resort for New York and Philadelphia’s high society. Today, there are several architectural gems listed in The National Register of Historic Places.

Long Beach Island is an 18 mile barrier island, divided into several communities. It’s best known to those who love to relax in the sun, but aren’t particularly fond of boardwalks and the glitter of nightlife.

North of Atlantic City is Brigantine, which houses the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. Since its beginning, it has rehabbed and released more than 3,900 whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles back into the ocean.

Atlantic City is second only to Las Vegas as the Gambling Capital. A.C. offered one of the first boardwalks built in 1870. It is once again home to the Miss America Pageant. The city inspired the popular board game, Monopoly.

Atlantic City south to Cape May, including the Wildwoods, is the area I think of as “going down to the shore.” It offers boardwalks, amusements, miles of motels and the foods of the boardwalk. Pizza, popcorn, caramel corn, ice cream, salt water taffy, lemonade, water ice, funnel cakes, French fries, fried foods in general – let’s not forget clam and oyster bars.

The entire state of New Jersey is known as the Garden State. The state has a long and distinguished history dating back to before the American Revolution. New Jersey was the third state to adopt the United States Constitution and the first to approve the Bills of Rights. One of our smallest states, it comes in 47th in size. But, it is the most populated state.

Along with the call of the ocean, other draws to the Jersey Shore are the white sandy beaches and the lighthouses that shine out and guard the coast and ships from danger.

The oldest operating lighthouse is located at Sandy Hook. The tallest lighthouse in New Jersey is in Barnegat at 171 feet. In the area around the Cape May lighthouse, you can visit the last remaining World War II Lookout Tower.

Even when we know that “Boardwalk Foods” are not the healthiest and the best for us, we still can’t seem to get enough. It seems when walking the boards there is always food in our hands (or mouth). I want to share several recipes that you can make at home.

Caramel Corn

• Cooking spray• 4 quarts popped corn

• 1 cup brown sugar• 1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup

• 1/2 cup butter/margarine• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Spray a large roasting pan or baking sheet with an edge with cooking spray. Spread popcorn in pan and place in a 250-degree oven while preparing the caramel. Mix brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat; bring to a boil. Continue to boil for additional 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Mix well stirring in baking soda and vanilla. Pour syrup over popcorn, coat evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, stir occasionally. Place popped corn on a large piece of foil sprayed with cooking spray. Cool; break apart. Store in tightly covered container – that is if you have not eaten it all.

Boardwalk Fries (A Taste of Summer)

• 6 Russet potatoes (12 to 15 oz. each)

• 2 teaspoons white vinegar• Peanut oil

• Salt• Apple cider vinegar (optional)

It is not necessary to peel the potatoes. Using a sharp knife or a fry cutter, cut to approximately 1/2” square. Place the cut potatoes in a bowl of cold water. Swishing potatoes around add white vinegar. Place entire bowl in refrigerator for about 1 hour. Swish the potatoes once again. Spread potatoes on a layer of paper towels and pat dry with additional paper towels. In a large pot or deep fryer preheat the oil to 315 degrees. Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. It best to work in small batches. Cook each batch 5 to 7 minutes, until tender not brown. With a basket or slotted spoon remove potatoes from oil, shaking to remove excess oil. Spread potatoes on the paper towels.

Now slices should be refrigerated at least 1 hour, uncovered, or as long as overnight to refry. The potatoes will freeze well for up to one month in a well-sealed freezer bag.

When you are ready to serve – reheat the oil to 375 degrees and fry for about 4 minutes, until crisp and golden. If using the potatoes that were frozen, thaw at room temperature – pat dry before using. Remove fries from oil to remove excess oil. Spread on several layers of paper towels. Allow to set for several minutes and sprinkle with salt. Serve them hot (in a paper cup) dousing them with cider vinegar to taste or the ever popular ketchup.

CELEBRATE LIFE EVERY DAY!Let me hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. Search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking as well as phoenixvillenews.com for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”

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