July 26, 2007

German may say Guten Tag at East this fall!

Previously I lamented in my blog about the East High principal getting rid of German. It seems over the summer, Herr Harris may have had a change of heart. It probably didn't hurt that many parents and community members kept up the pressure to reinstate the language. It appears now that funding is available for one class hour per day of German at the school. This will mean combining German 2 through 4 students into one class which will at least allow East students the opportunity to get four years of the same language. Not the best cause scenario but we'll take it!

July 23, 2007

Venison, the other white meat

Had a real Wisconsin meal last night - venison on the grill with a fresh garlic, rosemary ginger, lemon marinade. Wow! Venison is something that I've always taken for granted, being raised with a hunting family. It was nothing really to sit down to squirrel, rabbit or venison at family gatherings. This venison came from the Sauk/Juneau county line where my Dad has been hunting for years.

The colors of summer

I picked up a beautiful bouquet of summer flowers at the Northside Farmers Market on Sunday morning. The large bouquet was $5. The best deal around, if you ask me! The colors are absolutely mesmerizing. I took these photos outside last night at 6:00 pm. The natural lighting was phenomenal!
All right, one more photo, I just can't stop, the colors are too much!

July 19, 2007

Pico de Gallo

I much prefer a fresh salsa over a bottled version any day. And with the garden producing tomatoes, the freshest pico de gallo is just a 15 minute chopping session away. And this healthy veggie matter is good for you - just don't eat too many tortilla chips.....

Ingredients: (makes 3 cups)
  • 6 fresh tomatoes - chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves - minced
  • 1 medium onion - diced (vidalia, white or red)
  • 4 green onion stalks - chopped
  • 3 tbs of Cilantro - chopped
  • 1 roasted green chile (i.e; jalapeno, serrano or polbano)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
While chopping all of the veggies, roast the chile on a flame of your gas stovetop or in the oven until blackened and charred. Removed from heat and place in paper lunch bag for 10 minutes. Combine all of the chopped veggies in a mixing bowl. Add lime juice and seasonings. Remove chile from bag, run under cold water to removed charred skin, open and remove seeds and veins, dice and add to veggies.
For best flavor, let the pico de gallo rest in the refridge for 15-30 minutes to blend all flavors. Muy Bueno!

July 18, 2007

Summer flowers in full bloom

What the sun and Teiko haven't fried and the lack of rain hasn't shriveled, the perenials are doing well this summer, considering. The Beesbalm and Echinacea (cornflowers) have taken direct hits and may not survive the year (drastic measures are being taken to curtail Teiko and his markings....) However, in the front yard, the Rudbeckias are just beginning to bloom. The Geraniums are blooming again after a month of regeneration. Did you know that you can winter Geraniums in Wisconsin? By deadheading the flowers, cutting back all leggy branches, pulling out the plant (with roots intact) and storing them in a brown paper bag in a "warm" corner of the garage they often survive the winter. They can be a bit long and leggy the second year, but careful pruning and deadheading will force more leaves and better foliage. The newest addition to the garden is Papyrus - yep, the very plant that the Egyptians used to make paper. Papyrus loves water or very wet soil. For some reason it's doing very well planted in a whiskey barrel. When I planted it this spring, I placed a bowl under the roots to capture and hold water. This seems to do the trick. The plant stems are almost 4 ft tall now. For the winter, I'll bring them inside and put them in a tall glass vase with just water and rocks. It's nice to bring a bit of the garden into the house during the bitter cold days of Wisconsin winters.

July 17, 2007

Art in the garden

As many of you know, my favorite local artist is Ellis Nelson, a Muscoda welder who over the past 30-odd years has created folk art sculptures out of recycled metal. Many times it is of a crane, egret or other graceful bird, but he also does whimsical shaped pieces as well. Pictured above is one of my garden favorites for its curved lines and symetry.

I got my first sculpture when I was about 18 years old. Since then I've collected about 15 pieces. ( I have them throughout the garden, house and even in a few trees...) Another favorite sculpture is of the grim reaper which has been one of Ellis' reoccuring themes over the years.
A good Madison source for Ellis' artwork is at the Bindley Gallery at Hilldale. The Bindleys have been long time family friends and the first to introduce me to Nelson's artwork. Also, you can always take a drive out to Muscoda and stop by Ellis' welding shop where his latest creations are available for sale.

My, how your garden grows

So the garden has started producing, yeah! We've had a few problems with the peas (burnt) and the brussel sprouts (something is eating the leaves) but the tomatoes, peppers and beans are coming on strong. Above is a photo of the garden from our deck and below is the most recent harvest. The large tomato is an heirloom variety which will work great with BLTs.

July 9, 2007

Teiko on the beach

While I could have gone canoeing or kayaking with the rest of the gang on Thursday on the east branch of the Ontonagon River, I chose instead to take the pups to the Porcupine Mountains on the shore of beautiful Lake Superior. We spent a couple of hours walking along the white sand beach fetching sticks and swimming.

Yooper Land Bound

Just got back from a week up at Beatons Lake. The weather was absolutely beautiful - sunny, warm and pretty much bugless (except for 1/2 hour at dusk...) Many of you know of our plans to build a cabin on the lake. Until that happens, we simply set up camp. With electricity and a flushing outhouse we pretty much have all of the comforts of home! With many comments on our outdoor toilet, we decided to start a Yooper show called "Pimp my outhouse". Everynight we set a fire in that very unique fire pit we received from Uncle Bear at Christmas. The fire ring has deer lasered into the metal.
Also as a gift from Todd's parents, we got a new tent - The Tent Mahal as we lovingly referred to our beaton's condo was the most stylish tent I've camped in. More than enough room for us and the two dog beds.... and a picnic table, chairs, food, etc....

And while the lake was a little cool, it felt very refreshing to jump in after a day in the sun.

July 2, 2007

Grama Kelli comes to visit

So my girlfriend, Kelli, from middle school, spent yesterday afternoon over at the house with her granddaughter. To have 40-year old friends with grandchilden - Holycow! Baby is spending a week with Grama to give mom a nice break. She is just the sweetest thing and it was so fun to spend a lazy afternoon with!

Cedar Plank Salmon & Fresh Basil Tomato Pasta

Found a beautiful piece of wild sockeye salmon at the store on Saturday and made a really nice grilled salmon and pasta dinner that night. Also had fresh basil from the garden so made a tomato/basil side dish. I love grilled fish and this is a really easy recipe and quite fun to serve up to guests.

Cedar Plank Salmon
  • 1 lb of salmon filet (with skin)
  • 1 cedar plank (1 ft board works well)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Wood chips (optional)

Soak the plank in water for an hour ( I weigh my planks down so the wood is immersed in water). Preheat a gas grill to high; adjust to medium low after 15 minutes. Mix the sugar, oil, thyme and pepper flakes in a bowl. Lay the salmon skin side down on plank. Coat with sugar topping. Place salmon on grill, cover and cook for about 25 minutes or until meat is flaky. (Todd also added cherry woodchips to the coals for extra smokiness....)

Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil (for 2)

  • 1/2 lb of Angel Hair Pasta
  • 2 tsp olive oil and 1 tsp butter
  • 1 large tomato, skinned and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbs of fresh basil
  • Pinch of fresh oregano and rosemary
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to boil. Drop tomato in until skin begins to peel away. Remove tomato, run under cool water to peel rest of skin. Using still boiling tomato water, cook the angel hair pasta

In a medium-hot and non-stick pan bring oil and butter to melting. Add garlic and tomato, stir about 1 minute. Add basil and other herbs, stir. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Drain the pasta and add to the pan. Stir all the ingredients - serve immediately.

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