December 31, 2011

Last meal of 2011

And dang, did we make it good!  The 2.5 lb T-Bone steak was really like a small roast. We started by searing it in the cast-iron skillet and finished it off in the oven.  
The ribeye and sirloin pieces were so tender that we call it meat butter as it just melts in your mouth.   I can't sing the praises enough of Jenny Street Market's meat counter.  Just wow!

So now, I'm going to try and stay awake until Midnight. 
Adios 2011.  Hello 2012!

December 30, 2011

Terrariums - fun project for a snowy afternoon

Give me a day off of work and I can easily find things to do. Was inspired to build some terrariums today when I found some really fun glass pieces at a thrift store.  Does anyone remember making these as a kid?  I'd get so lost starring at mine - I could imagine a whole separate world in that container.
 Got some great advice at Jung's Garden center and they set me up will all the proper materials including pea gravel, charcoal, Zippy potty soil, moss and some cute little plants.  With the cover, it's already warm and nicely humid - Just what plants love.
For this terrarium, I put an elephant in for one of my favorite books as a child - Horton Hears a Who.

And of course I'm already wondering what is going to happen to Horton in his new habitat.

December 27, 2011

A walk on Christmas

 Christmas day this year was a gift in itself.  The sky was mostly sunny but more importantly the temps were in the mid 40s which in a Wisconsin December is saying something....  And the added bonus is that Lake Mendota has not frozen over yet.  

Todd and I took the pups for a hike around Governor's Island on the northshore of the lake.  Teiko saw the open water and looked for a stick immediately.  The water is pretty frigid - but heck, he's never been able to swim this late into winter.  
Here he comes in from the water.  I could tell after a couple of fetches that the cold water had numbed his hips.  Not sure if that was a good thing or not - but we continued on our hike. 

Because the ground is actually frozen, we got to walk through the cat-tail marsh - it was beautiful. 
Even Cita got into the thick of things when we hiked down one of the cliffs to get to the shoreline.  

What a nice way to spend Christmas seeing the open water of Lake Mendota, the Madison skyline and walking with loved ones. 

December catch-up

December has been filled with food, family and a snow-less warm Wisconsin December.  Here a just a few random photos from the month.  

Above is a veggie-potato soup I put together for a quick dinner.  Had lots of leftovers from a veggie tray.  It's a great way to use up those last handfuls of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.  I sauteed them with onions and a little garlic, added chicken broth and some red pepper flakes, added some raw potato, cooked,  pureed and it was yummy. 

This prime rib roast was served for one of the family gatherings.  It's so simple and delicious.  Before putting the 15lb roast in the oven - rub with a salt, pepper, powdered onion and garlic and chopped fresh rosemary.  Score the fat side (with the rub) and roast in the over at 350 for about 75 minutes.  The fat renders on the top and leaves delicious little bacon-bits on the top.

Teiko visiting at Grandma's house.  He's watching and waiting for the pizza flavored doggy treats we had picked up at Bad Dog Frida's on Atwood Avenue - great pet store with awesome toys and treats for dogs and humans! 
Finally have the fireplace area nice and cozy with the new leather chairs, bookshelves, a Persian rug picked up at the Maple Bluff Antique Mall for a song, a mantle of sorts to camouflage the fake stone wall and delivered firewood that is actually dry and burns great - from Green Thumb Farms in Sauk City. 

That's the whirlwind that was my December. How was yours?

December 19, 2011

The recipe that started it all

Here's the recipe that I will always attribute to Raine's path towards Chefdom.  The cookbook was one of those freebies that came with buying a bag of flour.  I had originally picked it up with Ryann in mind and we made lots of goodies from the book.  Of all of the 26 recipes from "ABCs of Baking" book, the Mud Pie was our favorite.

I love the chocolate smears on the page showing how often we used this recipe while we lived in Holland.  This was one of the first recipes that Raine could make when she was eight years old.   I found the little book on the bookshelf tonight and had a great trip down memory lane.  

My friend Melissa, who now lives in South Africa recently asked for the recipe of the brownies the girls would make for parties at our house in Holland.  I sent her a picture tonight via Facebook.  Yay!

It's easy to make good food - when you use whole ingredients.  Always stay as close to the source as possible. Who knows, you might inspire the next chef.....!

December 14, 2011

Angie's Clouds

The sky gave us something beautiful after attending the funeral of Todd's cousin Angie on Saturday.  Todd calls this picture "Angie's Clouds"  

The undulating waves of clouds were something one doesn't t see every day.   We followed them all the way  home from Portage.  

Rest in peace sweet Angela.

December 11, 2011

Maybe this will change your mind about bats

Living along a marsh since 2001, I've come to appreciate the beauty and amazing nature of bats.  But that wasn't always the case....

When we first moved in - we didn't realize that the house came with bats.  The first spring was quite a surprise, when the bats came "home" for the summer to give birth to the next generation.  And they were everywhere.  Under our decks, in the doorways, in the basement, under woodpiles.  OMG - I was scared sh*tless - because they were everywhere.  And I was sure they were rabies carriers to the first degree.  I wanted them gone. Here's a post I wrote a few years ago about the Bat Education of Rylee.

Over time, I've learned to appreciate our differences and give them the sanctuary they need.  Maybe someday I can even learn to get along with humans of certain political persuasions.  Check out this heart-sweet video of a baby fruit bat being nursed back to health after being abandoned.

December 4, 2011

Packers win and Venison

Wow...don't get me wrong, I love my state teams, but I don't get that fanatic. Until the nail biter of tonight's game of the Packers and Giants.  Holy Duck Feathers.  That was a close one. Yay Pack.

The only way to celebrate that Wisconsin win was with friends and venison from this year's hunt in Marathon County.  Served with Potatoes Au Gratin, grilled green beans and an very nice Clos Du Val Cabernet.  Because the Packers are what? 12 and 0 - I threw in some homemade banana cream pie.  

Life is good. 

Make lemonade.....

Remember back in 2009, when we lost the beautiful 40 year old Locust from a nasty lightning strike?  Well, we cut the tree down ourselves later that fall and stacked it next to our house to let it age for a year.
That bonus pile of wood inspired us to retrofit our drafty fireplace with a wood-burning insert the next year.  Since we had all this free wood now, might as well burn it.  The wood burning stove was one of the best investments we've made with the house.   What a difference it has made on our heating bills.

The beautiful Locust kept us nice and toasty warm last winter and provided us with beautiful fires.  The last two logs of the tree we decided to do something different.....

If all goes well, we'll have lots of cute little coasters to give to friends at Christmas.  They are drying on the rack as I write....

So when life gives you lemons.......

December 1, 2011

Into the Heart...

The stately German Shepherd- ...Protective, bold and smart, he looked into my eyes......And stole my heart.

Courageous and endearing, a stand out of  his  breed, so proud and yet so loving, a steadfast friend indeed.

Caring disposition, Faithful to the core.  

If you have a Shepherd’s love, you can never want for more.

My boy, Teiko.  I feel sad that I can't give you more of me.   
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