December 20, 2010

A great Monday dinner - Garlic Soup

Ten years ago, while living in Holland, we packed up our ski equipment one winter weekend, and with our Dutchie friends, drove down to Söll, Austria for a week of skiing in the Austrian Alps.  Our friend, Emile, a Dutchie/Brit guy via South Africa had been to Söll before and swore up and down it would be worth the 10 hour drive.   He was absolutely right.  Söll was just a gem of an Tyrol village in the Austrian Alps with great ski pistes and a totally awesome après–ski.  

The one thing Emile waxed poetic about was the garlic soup at a restaurant in the heart of Söll that we all just had to try.  He was convinced it would fuel us to victory for the next day of skiing and fill our hungry stomachs that night.   And boy, was he right!

The soup was divine and believe it or not, we've never had it since.  Nope, that is what you eat when you go to Söll.  No place else makes it better. So don't even try.

So....10 years later, Todd and I finally broke down and tried to recreate that beautiful and delicious garlic soup.  I'm pretty sure we succeeded.  Here's our version: for two bowls:

AUSTRIAN GARLIC SOUP (also know as knoblauchsuppe)
4 tbs unsalted butter
8-10 cloves garlic - 
minced, pressed
1 medium shallot diced
1/4 cup sifted flour
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken stock canned
* 1 vegetable bouillon cube
2 tbs chopped parsley, plus additional for garnish
2 slices crusty bread

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the garlic and shallots - Sauté gradually for about 10 minutes, on low heat, making sure the garlic does not brown.

When the garlic/shallots have softened, whisk the flour in slowly until they are well-coated. Add the milk, in a slow stream, whisking constantly (This is a basic roux). Turn the heat to medium-hot as you add the cold liquids.  When the milk has been fully mixed in, begin whisking in the chicken stock. Allow the soup to bubble and thicken at a reduced heat.  

* At this point you can add a vegetable stock or a bouillon cube (mixed with water) if you used canned chicken broth. If you used real turkey/chicken stock you made, you could avoid this step)  Also, if you want a "soupier" or less creamy soup just add more stock.

Chop the parsley and stir into the soup.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes.   Slice the bread and put in the toaster.  Remove, cut into cubes.  Garnish the soup with extra parsley and the bread cubes.  Serve!

Emile - this is pretty damn close!  Sorry about the American measurements.... We paired the soup with a Mondovi un-oaked Chardonnay we brought  this fall, while in Napa Valley.  Dude, you don't have to go to Soll!  

December 15, 2010

The sights of Xmas

This year I decided to go with a smaller tree and really cull the ornaments that made it on display.

This ornament came to me in 1992 and Raine's first Christmas.  My good boss and friend Bev gave it to me.  

This ornament came from my German exchange student Chris.  This ornament was made near his hometown.

This sad and pathetic bear is the only ornament that survived from my childhood.  He gets top of tree placement

I picked up this ornament from a holiday craft show in 1993.  The angels were crafted by an 80 year old woman.  Here's little Ryann

And here's baby Raine.  

Here's hoping all a Merry Christmas!

November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Another Thanksgiving under my belt.  Let the clean-up begin.  As usual the food was great, the company wonderful and the dogs still in their tryptophan stupor.


November 17, 2010

Grandmas are wonderful

This is my Grandma Wedekind.  Boy, do I wish I had those cheekbones. I never really knew she had such beautiful brown hair as sadly, I only remember her with a grey perm.

I have so many wonderful memories of this woman, I can't even begin. Suffice it to say, she was such a fun-loving woman, made the best potato dumplings, was a great traveler, made a mean brandy slush (adjusted for kids, I think...) and knew when to put a spoiled rotten kid (me) in her place.

Oh, how I loved to spend time with her.  She taught me so much about gardening, flowers and nature.   She'd take us for long walks in the woods pointing out the water spring, the names of plants, the deer paths.

Just a great Grandma and friend.

I so miss her.

November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to my sweet boy

I can't believe Teiko is seven years old today.  What a good friend.  I remember when we got the little furball and he clung to me like glue.  He still does all these years later.   I see a long walk, treats and lots of love for my pup today!

November 6, 2010

Third time is a charm...

Brought my Rosemary plants in this weekend.  This is their third year growing crazy in the summer and somehow surviving my limited winter care.  I'm thinking of stringing lights on this one for Christmas.  It's about 3ft tall now.

I would so love to live in a warmer climate that allowed my Rosemary stay outside but in Wisconsin, you do what you have to do....

November 3, 2010

The Kitchen is sublime....

Wow,  Raine and Ryann are working at the newest restaurant in Madison, simply called the Kitchen.  Todd and I have have the opportunity to eat here twice so far and have left quite delighted with the food and service.  Of course, we might be a bit partial..... So far, the reviews are great -

Ryann is working a couple of nights a week as a bartender at the Kitchen as well as being a full time student at the University where she's finishing her BA in history.

The restaurant is an off-shoot of the Underground Food Collective, of which Raine has been working with for the past two years on the catering side. She loves the organic, locally sourced farm food and the freedom to create amazing dishes.  As the restaurant opens, all hands on deck.  Raine is working the kitchen as well as a full time student at Madison College in the culinary program.

Mama (and the Daddy) are so proud of these amazingly hard-working girls.

November 2, 2010

Vote today!

The family that votes together....makes a difference.  Yay for Raine, this is her first time voting.   It was great to share this experience with her!

October 29, 2010

Final push at Beatons

Amazing what  a bunch of people can build over two years.  In August of 2008, we started building the Sauna Haus with just Todd, my dad and I putting the foundation posts and beams into place by hand.  Many weekends later, we have a closed-in building. Yay!

The first weekend of October, with another work crew consisting of Todd, Eric, Paul, Peter and me, we completed the cedar siding.  All that is left on the outside is the cedar shake in the gables.  

Here's a good photos of the Streicher boys nailing in the cedar siding. 

This summer we also got the windows installed, rock wall completed, the well dug, water to the building, insulated inside.  With the sauna stove installed and the firewood cut, we can actually work inside this winter, if we so wanted...  Not sure about that yet.   

Love the look of natural wood.  I think we did a good job this summer!

October 26, 2010

California, here we come,,,,

I don't even know how to describe how much I love northern California.  I could totally see myself with a little bungalow somewhere growing lemon, olive and almond trees.  I've been back for about two weeks and already want to plan the next trip.  Some snowbirds love the south or the Caribbean, not me.  I'll take the Napa Valley or the Sierra Nevada any day.

We flew into Sacramento, got our rented car and headed to Napa Valley.  Our first stop was the Tamber Bay Winery in Yountville, CA.  The wonderful couple who run this winery gave us a private wine tasting on their back porch.  What a way to first learn about Napa, wine, food and the history of the area. Barry and Jennifer were just wonderful in hosting us with such short notice.  

What self-respecting Wisconsinite would miss a visit to the Korbel facility in Sonoma County.  Yes, this is where they make champagne, but we still had to take the tour, taste some wonderful domestic champagne and then buy the brandy in the company store.

We spend a couple of days driving between the Sonoma and Napa valleys visiting a bunch of wineries.  One of the best things about visiting the vineyards is the the ability to taste wines you can never buy in a Wisconsin grocery store.  Wow, did we have a great time learning about the nuances of Cabernets, Pinot Noirs, Francs, Verdots and Savignons.  We even joined a couple of wine clubs with some great vineyards.  They will now send us amazing wines a couple of times a year.   The gift that keeps on giving....

As you can image with great wine comes great food.  Napa Valley has some world-class chefs cooking up the latest culinary treats.  One night we stumbled upon Michael Chiarello's restaurant Bottega and had just a wonderful dinner.  The next night we went to Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc restaurant where we had an amazing four course family-style meal including slow-cooked smoked pork and a beef infused pasta dish.   What I love about this restaurant is the menu changes daily and is posted on their website.

What brought us out to California in the first place was a wedding in Lake Tahoe, CA.  So the next leg of the trip was spent in and around Lake Tahoe for a couple of days.  Our good friends Mike and Sylvia had the brilliant idea to get married on a boat on the lake in Emerald bay (pictured above).  The wedding day was brilliant, warm and the ceremony blessedly short.   What a great day!   We spent one day driving around Lake Tahoe, a lake 1600 feet deep and glacier blue clear.  Amazing place.  Todd is already planning skiing trips here. 

We spent the last couple of days of our trip working our way to Yosemite.  The pictures can not capture the vastness, hugeness and beauty of such an incredible treasure.  But you know me,  I'm still going to try.  So here are just a few photos....
This is one of the waterfalls that runs all year long at Yosemite.  The sheer height is boggling.  The little white spot about a third of the way up on the left side is Todd.

 Yosemite is a must for everyone to see at least once in her life.  Simply breathtaking.
El Capitan is a huge piece of granite.  There was one person climbing the face that we could see that day. If you'd like to see some more photos of northern California - I've posted additional pics here.
California 2010

Northern California, what an amazing place!  Can't wait to get back.

October 25, 2010

Where has October gone?

I don't even know where to start.  This October has been just crazy with work, up north, weddings and California.  I just haven't had a chance to write and then I find myself overwhelmed with content to post, a wacky camera and too much to say.

Here's one thing that amazed me this week.  The above rose was blooming on Saturday.  I think this was the latest my rose bushes have been able to give me gorgeous blooms since I planted them in 2008.  As this is Wisconsin, the roses have since been frosted over so the blooms are now gone.  But I have my memories....

I'm going to post a few stories of my October in subsequent entries.  I promise great photos and fun....

October 1, 2010

The colors of Fall

 Spent last weekend up north staining the outside cedar boards for the saunahaus.  Also got some great Fall Color pictures.
It was the peak of color last weekend (Sep25-26) in the U.P. And one of the brightest most intense colored falls I remember.

Started framing the cedar boards to represent the real post/beams.  Next weekend we can hopefully get the cedar siding completed. 
 I just love the look of the posts and beams.  So solid and there forever.

September 12, 2010

Busy weekend. 

Continued the never-ending painting of the house on Saturday.  I know boring old lady.  But on Sunday the fun began.  

In the morning the girls and I drove up to the East Lemonweir Lutheran Church between Mauston and New Lisbon (abt 97 mins from Madcity) for a lunch celebration of our beloved Uncle Bear and Aunt Marlene's 40th wedding anniversary.  Last time I was at that church I was 4 years old and was the flower girl.  Love the Norwegian words written over the front door.  
Later when we got back to Madcity, Raine and I headed out to Elliot's farm for some apple and pear picking.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day.  The sky was perfectly blue, everyone was happy eating and picking organic apples and we just enjoyed the beginning of the end of a Wisconsin summer. 

Love this photo of Raine.  She'd climbed up into the apple tree to get the best apples.  And of course, had to take a phone call from a friend.  We ended up with about 4-5 bushels of apples and 1 bushel of pears.  The Underground Food Collective, where Raine works, should be able to make great apple'y things this week with the bounty. 

 Love this shadow shot here of Elliot and my legs.  See if you can find the apples hidden in the photo.

August 30, 2010

The next phase of life

So am working on what it means to have no children living at home anymore. Both girls are now out of the house and believe it or not, life continues....

Here's what I have learned so far:

  1. The house stays much cleaner.
  2. Dogs need even more attention since there's only two humans at home. Longer walks are a must.
  3. Kid's cash emergencies still require Mom and Dads' help. 
  4. Smaller containers of food are now economically green - since it goes rotten before we use it all.
  5. Toast with peanut butter makes a great dinner. 
  6. Bike riding fills time and gives a good work-out. 
  7. Conversation skills with your mate must upgrade probably since it's the only human you'll see at home.
  8. There's now one person left at home to focus my undivided attention on - poor guy.   

Here's to the next step in the journey of life.  

Yippee ki-yay

Raine and Bailey

MK took a great shot of two beautiful girls this summer at the Fete de Marquette party.  Raine and Bailey look so happy!

August 29, 2010

Working weekend

Lost a great tree last summer due to a lightning strike.  We took the tree down ourselves, and "aged" it for the past year.  This weekend, we rented a hydraulic wood splitter and chopped the tree up for fire wood.  
So our investment of a wood burning furnace last fall made a lot of sense.  And what a difference it makes on the gas heating bill.  This totally efficient stove really warms our downstairs basement/living area (in total about 1400 sq. ft)  By heating the basement level, the first floor benefits from the heat as well. But in order to use the wood burning stove, we need wood.  We can order it locally, haul it back from the UP or take advantage of a lightning strike. 
So here's the wood pile we stacked this afternoon after painting that side of the house earlier today - told'cha it was a working weekend. And this is minus the big woodbox I stuffed to the gills yesterday.  While I'll never say "bring on winter", at least this year we'll save about $300 with our "free" wood. 

August 17, 2010

5 reasons I would attend a wedding

Weddings invitations are seemingly coming from every direction lately.  I'm too old for this.  Here are my conditions for attending your "special day".
  1. This is your first hetero/gay/bi/trans marriage (all right, for at least ONE of the happy couple).
  2.  I am related by blood as family dynamics (Mom) requires attendance.
  3. We have known each other for over 10 years.
  4. You are marrying in a locale I’ve never been AND would love to see.
  5.  A BabyMama (not the bride) is invited to the glorious day for sheer entertainment.
Meet three of these conditions and I will most likely attend. Ideally, it is only for the dinner/dance portion of the day as the religious portion gives me hives. 

The fruits of summer

The tomatoes are now coming in a fury along with the zucchini and swiss chard.  With the mosquitoes ready to carry anyone daring to enter the garden, Todd prepared for battle.  Covered from head to foot - think beekeeper - he braved the fierce enemy and made away with a wonderful basket full of veggies.

That night we dined on grilled Great lakes Sturgeon with a fresh tomato, caper, basil topping, sautéed chard and rice.  Don't see sturgeon much around here.  Todd got it at the Seafood Center at the Willy Street Coop. The fish grilled nicely and was filling, rich and delicious.  I'd definitely eat that again.

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