- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: July 2012

Beat the Heat!

Wow, summer’s here, and, actually, considering temperatures, it’s got here ahead of schedule! Which means it’s important that we talk about some information on ways of protecting your dog from the excessive heat.

First and most important – NEVER leave your dog(s) in the car, even with the windows down! Your dog will react to the excessive heat generated in the car more quickly than you will, and it can be fatal. If you cannot take your dogs with you into wherever you are headed, than leave them home!

Dogs need and want to be outside, but leaving them unattended for too long without any shade or sun protection is cruel and, again, can be fatal. If you are taking your dog to the beach or to the Cape May Dog Park, be sure to control their activity level, insuring that they do not run themselves out. Insure that they go into the water to cool off or squirt them with a hose. Bring along plenty of water for your dog – and for yourself! And try to be in the shade – under an umbrella or under the gazebo at the dog park.

There are some really neat toys and other “cool downs” for your dog as well. There are toys that you can fill with water and put into the freezer which your dog can then chew on, or even lay on in order to cool down. There are wraps, which you again fill with water and put into the freezer, then wrap around your dog’s neck to help keep him/her cool. My dogs, Jameson and Guinness, think that ice cubes are “treats” so that’s another way to keep your dog cool and getting a little water. Just make sure that the dog is not too overheated when giving them ice cubes or it can make them sick due to too much shock to their stomach.

There are also some fun treats you can make for the summer as a doggie cool down. I’ve included a recipe here. I have two big fans of these treats sitting right beside me as I’m writing this, who are more than happy to be “taste testers” over and over again, and who will verify that they are great. People can enjoy them, too, but most dogs are often reluctant to share! So enjoy your summer visit to Cape May by keeping your dog (and you) cool, comfortable, happy and safe from the heat.


  • 3 cups plain yogurt
  • 1¼ cups unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  1. Combine all ingredients and whisk well.
  2. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
  3. Pop out as needed or store in freezer in a sealed freezer bag.

As a little alternative, use:

  • 2 cups of plain yogurt
  • 1 cup of mashed banana.

The rest is the same! Have fun!

Good Read of the Month: Dog Blessed, Puppy Mill Survivor Stories by Lisa Fischer for the Main Line Animal Rescue. This book is an eye opener into the horrible conditions of puppy mills, how the dogs must endure, and the silver lining of rescues that not only save the dogs, but save people as well. If you are a true dog lover, you’ll cry some tears of joy and a few of sorrow as you read how these adopted puppy mill rescues are doing now. You’ll get a few knowing smiles and even a laugh or two as well. This book, published by Happy Tails Books, LLC, is available through and all proceeds go to the Main Line Animal Rescue to help them continue with their most admirable and loving mission of saving lives.

The Boys of Summer

This article originally ran in the August 2011 issue of Cape May Magazine

The boys of summer - history of steger beach service

The headlines in 1932 included the following – U.S. Steel Lays Off Another 10,000 and General Motors Stock Down From $500 a Share to $10 a Share.

The man who started it all, Steven J. Steger. (click to enlarge)

In 1932 when the city of Cape May hired Steven J. Steger as a lifeguard, the depression loomed heavily over the tiny island. County workers were paid in script. Groceries and even electric bills were paid with credit and life was changing along the beachfront. Bath houses, once so popular because hotel owners did not like guests coming through their lobbies with wet bathing suits, were now becoming passé. But with every loss there is always a gain.

One afternoon, young Steve noticed that a man in front of the Stockton Baths had set up a small operation renting beach chairs to excursionists. The next year, Steve set up his own beach rental operation which included pup-tent-like structures that he called cabanas. The idea came from tents that wealthy summer residents had their servants erect for their families, according to an article about Steve which ran in the Herald-Lantern Dispatch June 1990. Steger redesigned a smaller version of the concept, and it must have been an idea which found a niche because 79 years later, although Steve Steger died suddenly in the summer 1990 at the age of 84, his legacy lives on.

The iconic blue beach boxes.

Currently, Steger Beach Services has 12 beach stands which extend from the Cove all the way to Trenton Avenue. Steger Beach at Perry and Jackson streets, as well as Queen Street beach, is still owned by the Steger family. Swain’s Hardware carries a paint color called “Steger Blue.” Four hundred “Steger Blue” beach boxes line the beaches, as well as about 40 tents. You can rent everything from sodas to umbrellas to beach chairs to boogie boards, surf boards and now paddleboards from the Stegers. Steger Beach Services is first, last and always a family-run business, and for four generations they have proven to be the go-to place for beach needs.

Some folks might remember when the Stegers also had a block-long store to go with the beach service.

In the 1940s, Steve Steger decided he needed to expand his business, and he bought a row of bathhouses that fronted Beach Avenue between Perry and Jackson streets (now a series of boutique shops and eateries), eventually converting them into a store called–you guessed it–Steger’s, carrying everything from Band-Aids to Kool Aid and all things beachy in between. Later, they added Steger’s Sun & Surf Shop and Steger’s Snack Shack, which introduced the original 50-cent hot dog to summering patrons. Son Bob, who died in 2004, ran the store with his wife Betty, who recalls that the couple never shared a dinner in the summer months.

“We had four cash registers,” says Betty. “Bob would open at 7:30 a.m. I would come in at 9 a.m. I’d work until 4 p.m. and then go home and cook dinner. I’d eat my dinner and put a plate in the oven for Bob. Then I’d go in and relieve him so he could come home, eat dinner and freshen up. My mother would baby sit the kids [Steven R. and Linda], and we’d close together at midnight. We did that seven days a week from July 4th to Labor Day. We always opened Memorial Day weekend, and we kept it open until the weather got too cold.”

It was Bob Steger, Cape May’s original “surfing dude,” who introduced the sport to the island. “We were the first surf shop in town,” says Betty.

Steven R. says he has been a beach boy “his whole life.” While his parents ran the store, he stayed on Steger Beach with his grandfather, “who kept an eye on me.”

“I worked my first concession stand,” he says, “at 10 years old and by 12, I had my own stand.” And while it seems like dream job to most kids, Steven says there were times when “all my friends were out playing and I had to go to work. And I would say to myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’”

And yet, he continued the tradition after graduating from Lower Cape May Regional High School in 1977. He took full control of Steger Beach Services after his grandfather died in his sleep of a heart attack in August 1990. “My grandfather was a proud man,” says Steven. “He worked the beach stands the day before he died. And [after learning of his death], we couldn’t close. It was August. I had to open.”

The same loyalty the Stegers show to Cape May beachgoers is reciprocated by their customers. Betty says if long-time customers do not receive their renewal letters from the Stegers in April, they call to make sure they have a tent and beach box secured for the summer. Their names are carefully printed in a vertical line going down the tent pole. Many are fourth and fifth generation patrons. One old timer this summer forgot to rent his beach tent, says Betty, and called to have it re-upped because whether he could get to the beach or not, he couldn’t stand the thought of not seeing his name on the pole on Steger Beach.

Steven and his wife Margaret are currently at the helm of Steger Beach Services, and Betty still is very active in the business and “fills in” when someone cannot come to work. Great-grandsons Steven, 21, and Sean, 15, are very much involved in the operations as well. In the summer of 2011, Steven added paddleboard rentals to the list of Steger services offered at the Cove and is also including lessons with the Steger brand. “I hope to do for paddleboarding,” says Steven, “what my grandfather [Bob] did for surfing here.”

And so the tradition continues.

“One thing I think people would find interesting,” says Steven R., “Steger is a made-up name. My grandfather was Lithuanian, and his real name was Stanislova Stanstouskis, but I guess he didn’t want to be burdened with the stigma of being an immigrant, so he had it changed legally to Steger.”

Now that’s a man who understood the importance of branding. 

Cape May summer cocktails you can make at home

summer cocktail recipes, summer drink ideas

If you can’t be in Cape May during the summer, why not mix up something that will make you feel like you’re on vacation right in your own kitchen? We asked a few of our favorite watering holes for summer drink recipes to help you beat the heat. Since we’re not mixologists ourselves, we rounded up simple shake & strain recipes that don’t require too much effort (I don’t even own a muddler), and ingredients you should be able to find at any liquor store. Don’t own a shaker? Just use a travel mug to shake, and “strain” through the spout. Enjoy!

Cape May Mariner / Aleathea’s Bar at the Inn of Cape May

  • 4 oz Stoli Orange
  • 3 oz Grand Marnier
  • 2 oz Pomegranate Liquor
  • Splash of Lime Juice
  • Splash Cranberry Juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Strain and serve.

Taste of Paris Martini / The Mad Batter

  • 2.5 oz Absolut Pear Vodka
  • 2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 1 oz champagne poured into martini glass as a floater

Pour vodka and St. Germain over ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a slice of pear. Yum yum!

Bango Mango / Pilot House

  • 1 part Cruzan Mango Rum
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • 1 part cranberry juice

Shake over ice and strain. Serve with an orange slice in a martini glass or on the rocks. Make as little or as much as needed!

Gin & Sin / Martini Beach

Gin & Sin 2012: our updated version of the classic Gin and Sin cocktail. It’s refreshing and potent, with a bit of a grapefruit taste.

  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 3/4 parts oj
  • 3/4 parts cranberry juice

Shake on the rocks with an orange slice.

Summer Cherry Limeade / e.m. Hemingway’s at the Grand

  • 3 oz Pinnacle cherry vodka
  • 3 slices fresh lime
  • 2 oz fresh lemonade
  • 2 oz water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1oz Roses lime juice
  • Splash of Grenadine

Mix all ingredients in shaker, shake vigorously, pour into a tall pilsner glass, and garnish with a lime and cherry.

Barley and Me

Some people who read my column or, having heard me lecture about food and beverages, often think I am an intellectual snob. After getting to know me, they realize they are wrong on both counts. Too frequently people assume that fine food requires fine wine as an accompaniment. Wine is viewed as a beverage of the privileged and beer is perceived as the drink of the proletariat masses. In recent years, America has undergone a beer renaissance. Craft beer and microbrews are the current buzzwords that are bringing the beer world closer to the wine world in terms of pretentious vocabulary. The beer drinker is the beneficiary of this renewed interest in a beverage that dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Food lovers also benefit, since certain types of cuisine pair better with the barley-based beverage. Sure, we can all pair beer with pizza and cheese fries. A full frosty pint glass tastes better than a grape juice-infused goblet with Asian foods, spicy foods and food with high acidity.

There are two main types of beer: Lagers and Ales. These terms refer to the way the beers are fermented. There are many sub categories of each, including pilsner, weissebier, stout, steam beer, India pale ale, porter, etc. To compound the confusion different breweries will use similar terms for beers with very different flavors. To simplify pairing beer with food, think of Lagers as white wine and Ales as red wine. Heavily hopped bitter beers can stand up to spicy foods and the complex robust flavors of curries and Mexican foods. Rich deep flavored ales are enhanced by roasted or braised red meats. The smokiness of grilled foods or barbecue is complimented by medium to lightly hopped ales. The malty tones of stouts and porters pair well with sweet dishes, stone fruits and chocolate. Exploring the world of beer and food pairings can be an intoxicating experience.

Beer, like wine, can also be an integral part of cooking foods. It is important to remember if you are reducing beer in a sauce, that heat will damage some of the more subtle flavors and reduction will intensify the bitter notes provided by hoppy beers. I like to mix amber ales with stoneground mustard and mayonnaise as a dip with chilled seafood like shrimp cocktail or stone crab claws. The sweetness of seafood makes for a great contrast when cooking with beer. The diversity of each component’s flavor profile creates a pleasing taste for the palate. Beer and Old Bay® seasoning are essential ingredients to a good crab boil. Yuengling Lager has excellent flavor notes for steaming crab, mussels and clams.

Although most beers contain the same basic ingredients (water, barley, hops and yeast), the varieties created by artisan brew masters make for a heady array of aroma, textures and tastes to explore. While enjoying some cold ones by the grill this summer, try a few new beers and some beer-infused recipes like Carolina Low Country Boil, Beer and Mustard Dip for Chilled Crab Claws and Beer Marinade for Smoked Brisket.

Until next month, Bon Appétit.

Persnickety’s Top Five Favorite Beers

Tasting note: I have not visited Cape May Brewing Company, yet I am looking forward to some intensive research to enhance my six-pack flab physique.

  1. Fat Tire Amber Ale by New Belgium Brewing.
  2. New Castle Brown Ale The English excel at ales and this rich bodied brew is very drinkable and light for an ale.
  3. Pilsener Urquell This Czech beer is where pilsner style began.
  4. Chimay Red The Trappiste monks survived the dark ages on bread and brews.
  5. Anchor Steam Ale This West Coast ale jump started the American craft beer craze.

crabLow Country Crab Boil

  • ½ cup Old Bay Seasoning® or to taste
  • ½ cup pickling spice
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp crystal hot sauce
  • 5 pounds new potatoes
  • 3 (16 ounce) packages cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
  • 5 pounds whole crab
  • 4 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 Yuengling lagers or your favorite beer
  • newspapers
  • beer
  1. Heat a large pot of water over an outdoor cooker or medium-high heat indoors. Add Old Bay Seasoning®, garlic, hot sauce, beer and pickling spice to taste, and bring to a boil.
  2. Add potatoes, and sausage.
  3. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the corn and crab.
  5. Cook for another 5 minutes,
  6. When everything else is almost done add the shrimp.
  7. Cook for another 3 or 4 minutes.
  8. Drain off the water, and pour the contents out onto a picnic table covered with newspaper. Grab a paper plate and a beer and get messy!

Beer and Mustard Dip for Crab Claws

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • ½ bottle of New Castle Brown Ale®. Drink the other half
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp horseradish
  • 1 cup stoneground mustard
  1. Mix all ingredients.
  2. Chill 3 hours.
  3. Serve with crab claws or shrimp

Beer Marinated Brisket

  • 3 bottles Shiner Bock or other dark German style beer
  • 2 onions minced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 jalapeños, chopped
  • 12 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 2 sprigs each, thyme and rosemary
  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. Pour over 5 lb brisket
  3. Marinate for 3 days, turning every 12 hours
  4. Smoke at 200 degrees for 7 hours
  5. Serve with favorite bbq sauce and lots of beer