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Archive for June, 2011

We thought it might happen eventually…and it did today.  We had our first unexpected visitor raid my garden this morning.  Adam was tossing a couple of pebbles at him and he still wouldn’t go away.  Hopefully that means that the produce tastes good!

Finally after watching the deer wait for him to leave (so that he could resume his criminal garden raiding activities) he took this picture of the deer while going into the yard and giving him a few key words.

Look closely in the shade to the right of the shed...just a little guy

What am I going to do about it?  I have no idea but I better think of something quickly since my stash has been found by the neighborhood produce thieves.

Speaking of which, you have to see a picture that an old coworker sent me of his “little bandit” that keeps raiding his bird feeder.  Clever little fella….

Honestly, how could you be mad at a face like that?

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How Did I Hear About This Book?

I heard about this book while cruising the Kindle bestseller’s list and since I usually enjoy novels about India and Africa (for the most part), I decided to take the plunge.

About the Author

Abraham was born in India and had parents that taught in Ethiopia, where he grew up in Addis Ababa.  he attended medical training there and eventually joined his parents in the United States and then completed his medical schooling at Madras Medical College.  After his schooling he moved back to America where he practiced at lower-income hospitals and eventually ended up specializing in AIDS and helping terminally ill patients and their families.

Abraham Verghese

Today Verghese’s focus is on the patient/doctor relationship and how medicine is something many doctors should take more personally versus it being a sterilized process done from behind a computer screen.  Here is a quote from him that addresses one of the topics that he wrote into the story line of “Cutting for Stone“:

“I wanted the reader to see how entering medicine was a passionate quest, a romantic pursuit, a spiritual calling, a privileged yet hazardous undertaking. It’s a view of medicine I don’t think too many young people see in the West because, frankly, in the sterile hallways of modern medical-industrial complexes, where physicians and nurses are hunkered down behind computer monitors, and patients are whisked off here and there for this and that test, that side of medicine gets lost.”

Overview

“Cutting for Stone” is a novel that begins with a nun named Sister Mary Joseph Praise, boarding a ship leaving India in 1947 for her missionary post in Yemen.  But along the way, she meets someone who will change her life forever…Thomas Stone.  After taking her post in Yemen, things happen to Sister Mary Joseph Praise that bring her to Ethiopia to work under Thomas Stone.  Years later, Sister Praise tragically passes while giving a surprise birth to twin boys name Shiva and Marion.

Cutting for Stone

Then we meet Marion, the narrator, who begins his journey as a little boy in Emperor Haile Selaisse’s Ethiopia.  The central part their childhood takes place in the city of Addis Ababa and specifically across the street from Missing Hospital.  The twins are surrounded by love from their adopted parents, both of whom are doctors at Missing.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

It’s about spectacular consequences to actions, unconventional love with multiple flavors, an Ethiopia that many of us have never know and wouldn’t ever learn about outside this novel, and characters that you get to know on a level that few authors can bring you to.

Review

If you like the Kite Runner than you should put this book in the “must read” pile.  I thought that the characters were extremely well thought through and described throughout the novel.  While it has extremely serious topics throughout it, it is meant to be about how these people rebound from these horrific events and how actions lead to consequences…no matter how minor they might seem initially.

The only thing that I wasn’t that thrilled with was the amount of medical jargon.  I listened to this on an audio book so I think it was more manageable but I had a coworker that said when she was reading it on her Kindle, she had a difficult time following along and being engaged in the book due to the fact that there were so many descriptive surgery scenes that went over her head (and anyone without a medical degree’s head).

**** /5 stars

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I was looking for a quick and easy dessert that had no baking involved and ran across something that was completely new to me (in the cooking world anyways), a fool.  A fool is an English dessert that was originally made by with whipped cream and gooseberries and looks similar to a parfait.

But since I don’t have gooseberries and the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market sent me over an email flyer that said “Rhubarb is Hot This Week”, I needed it to revolve around fresh rhubarb and found a great recipe in Cooks Illustrated.

Rhubarb Blueberry Fool

This recipe is also great to make ahead of time since you have to refrigerate it for 1-24 hours before serving and serves 8.

Rhubarb Blueberry Fool

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb , trimmed of ends and cut into 6-inch lengths
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger , grated
  • 1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • pinch table salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream (cold)
Instructions
1.) Soak rhubarb in 1 gallon cold water for 20 minutes. Drain, pat dry with paper towels, and cut rhubarb crosswise into slices 1/2-inch thick.

These weren't cut down to size yet

2.) Bring orange juice, ginger, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt to boil in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rhubarb and return to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 minutes. Gently stir in the blueberries and continue to simmer, stirring only 2 or 3 times (frequent stirring causes rhubarb to become mushy), until rhubarb begins to break down and is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer rhubarb and blueberries to nonreactive bowl, cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 24.

OJ, sugar and ginger

Putting rhubarb and blueberries into the hot tub

Blueberries and rhubarb mixture after simmering

3.) Beat cream and remaining sugar in bowl of standing mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 45 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 45 seconds longer. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, about 30 seconds.

Fresh Whipped Cream & Sugar

4.) To assemble fool, spoon about 1/4 cup rhubarb and blueberries into each of eight 8-ounce glasses, then spoon in a layer of about 1/4 cup whipped cream. Repeat, ending with dollop of cream; serve. Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 6 hours. (To make one large fool, double the recipe and layer rhubarb, blueberries, and whipped cream in a 12-cup glass bowl.)

And enjoy!!

Rhubarb blueberry, fool!

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What better way to celebrate a life-long union then spending a weekend with the girls up in Hayward, right?  So, we packed up the troops and headed north!

84 Degrees and Perfect Outside

But freezing like an ice box on the way up....sorry back seat gals!

And the beautiful bride-to-be!

And our first stop…a school house turned wine shoppe.

Schoolhouse Wines

5768 N 4th St
Stone Lake, WI 54876

Websitehttp://www.schoolhousewinesstonelake.com/

Hours:
Mon.-Wed. 10AM -7PM
Thurs  10AM-8PM
Fri. –   10AM-9PM
Sat.    10AM-9PM

Closed Sunday, except for Holiday weekends

Atmosphere

Schoolhouse Wines has an adorable front deck with a stone fire-place and outdoor furniture.  Then when you walk in you’re in for a treat…3 rooms of different varieties of affordable wines for your purchasing pleasure.

Can’t wait until you get home?  Well, luckily they also have a bar with wine and other cocktails by the glass available as well!

My consensus was that when I retire someday when I’m 95 (at this rate and in this economy) I would LOVE to own something like this and thought it was absolutely precious.

List of Bar Goodies

Wisconsin's Best Bloody Mary? If it's not a meal it can't claim that thrown in my book...but it was pretty good.

Honestly, how cute is this place?

After refueling and unpacking, stop number two was The Waterfront for dinner.

The Waterfront

14810 W County Road K
Hayward, WI 54843

Websitehttp://www1.explorewisconsin.com/TheWaterfront/index.asp

Great deck view

Atmosphere

You walk into the log exterior restaurant not knowing quite what to expect.  There is a bar on the left side with about 15 tables, a pool table, and a few machines to play.  Actually has a lot of room and quite a few tables that you’re able to see the water from.

Since it was nice outside we opted for the deck which ended up being a great choice since we got to see all kinds of wildlife.

Look close - bumblebee. My friend that ate the salad below told us that she was stung by a bee in the EYEBALL when she was 6. I nearly threw up and still can't fathom it.

Loon-ar eclipse.

Menu

The menu consisted of appetizers, sandwiches (chicken filet, Philly, club, Reuben)  and some “Up Nort” specialty sandwiches like the walleye sandwich.  The Waterfront menu also offers homemade pizzas (and a few people had great things to say about in their google reviews).

Dinner meals included pork chops, jumbo clam strips, steaks, pork rips, sea scallops, walleye and of course…a Friday night endless fish fry and a Saturday night prime rib special.

Meal

One of my companions ordered a salad and a chicken fillet.  The salad looked great and was a generous portion but she didn’t have fabulous things to say about the chicken fillet sandwich.  But in all honesty, this isn’t the kind of place that you order a chicken sandwich so I wasn’t shocked.

One heck of a side salad (and Leine's). Only.In.Wisconsin.

The rest of us ordered the endless Fish Fry for $13.99.  The meal included family style coleslaw, rolls and your choices of potato.  So of course I had to go with the twice baked potatoes since they’re something that isn’t on a ton of menus.

You can have either kind of fish (fried or baked) and you let them know when you’re ready for more.

I thought that the baked fish was good but the fried fish had more batter on it than any of the ones that I grew up with; it was more of a “fish and chips” batter versus a slightly lighter batter that is usually seen in Wisconsin fish fries.  The potato could have used some salt or seasoning salt.  But I’m a potato snob so maybe I’m not the best judge.

Endless Fish Fry. Only.In.Wisconsin.

Overall Impression

The view was beautiful and I’m very glad we went and were able to take in some wild life while out on the deck.  Also, the service was GREAT and our waitress was this absolutely precious woman with an antique hat.  Adorable.

The food was good but for me it wasn’t $20/plate with a drink kind of good.  It’s too bad that they don’t have a more affordable and non-all-you-can-eat option for their Friday night fish special since that seems as though that might be something that would be popular.

Last But Not Least

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of the REAL “Wisconsin’s best Bloody Mary” by Ms. Ambino.  It’s got a beef stick, fresh cracked pepper, olives, pickle and cheddar. Like I said, these are the guidelines to even qualify for the throne in my mind.

And how can you beat a Bloody Mary in a pink cup with umbrella at 10 AM, right?  Only.in.Wisconsin.  And if I could only sum up the wonderful weekend in one picture without people in it, this would be it : )

Girly Bloody Mary

Thanks for a wonderful weekend girls and I can’t wait to see everyone next weekend for the big day!!!

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Yum.  Yum. Yum.

Nothing is better than South Carolina pork sandwiches and I think that I may have found a winning recipe after traveling to the depths of multiple online recipe databases.  Then of course I made some modifications to match my lifestyle; why bake for 6 hours when you own a crock pot, right?

The recipes that follow feed 8 people and is an inexpensive and easy way to feed guests coming over on a Sunday afternoon.

South Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich w/ Spicy Slaw and Mustard Finishing Sauce

Just make sure that you have enough paper towels because this is a meal where your guests can get down and dirty with their overstuffed sandwiches.

South Carolina Pulled Pork

Everything to put on the piggie shoulder

Ingredients

  • 1 (5-7) pound pork shoulder
  • 3 TBSP paprika
  • 1 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP ground mustard
  • 2 TBSP coarse (kosher) salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
Instructions
1.) Mix the paprika, garlic powder, sugar, mustard, and salt in a small bowl.

Mix it up people

2.) Rub the dry mix all over your pork shoulder, in the crock pot so in case you spill, the seasoning just goes on the bottom.  Add the water onto the bottom of the pot, set crock pot to low for at least 6 hours.  I set my automatic crock pot up for 10 hours and it still turned out amazing.

Nice and comfy in the crock pot

3.) After arriving home, your pork will be piping hot and falling apart.  Leaving the pork in the crock pot, use two forks to shred apart the shoulder, take out any fat pieces that you don’t care to have in your sandwiches, and leave in the juices to soak up.

Mustard Finishing Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP finely diced green onions
  • 2 TBSP yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
1.) Melt butter in microwave and mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.  Drizzle over sandwiches.

Please note this is a serving that must have been from a catering website or something...I scaled down the recipe for practicality reasons.

Homemade Spicy Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a cabbage, finely shredded
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 1 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3/4  cups mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP yellow mustard
  • 2 TBSP Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • several dashes hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
1.) Mix mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, hot and hot sauce in a bowl and whisk.
2.) Find the largest or container you have and mix the cabbage, carrots, green onions, red onions and the spices/mayo blend together, tossing lightly to incorporate the flavors.

Tasty Confetti

3.) Chill for 1-2 hours in the fridge before serving.
Assembly of Sandwiches
1.) Toast rolls on the second rack of your broiler, on low.  Using tongs, take about 1/4 cup of shredded pork and 1/4 cup of coleslaw and assemble onto sandwich.  Use about 1 teaspoon of finishing sauce and drizzle over the sandwich.

Shredded Pork Sandwich with Spicy Coleslaw and Mustard Finishing Sauce

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I may have grown up on a farm but this summer is going to be a new adventure with my first garden…

Baby Spinach

Yeah, I know that I’m in my mid-twenties and having a garden may have just moved me from “hip” to “geriatric” but after spending time at the Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis, I can’t resist wanting to plant things!

Baby Radishes

It all started when I told the BF that for my birthday I wanted a raised garden.  I mean, what more could a girl ask for besides some treated lumber, a huge pile of dirt and seeds…right?

So a raised garden it was!

Luckily for me, the BF has the handiest dad in the world so when his parents came to visit over Memorial Day weekend the raised garden box and new water source was constructed.  Yes, I said water source.

How to Build a Raised Garden

These instructions are for a raised garden that measures 16 feet long by 5 feet wide by 20 inches deep.  This a pretty deep garden box but it is what we decided upon.  For a smaller garden box, see this link.

Materials

  • 4 – 16 foot long 10×2 treated boards
  • 2  – 10 foot long 10×2 treated boards
  • 2 – 6 foot long 4×4 treated board
  • Medium sized box of deck screws

Additional Materials

  • Table or power saw
  • Automatic drill
  • 2.5 cubic yards of dirt
  • Level

Cut 6 foot 4×4 into (6) 24 inch posts.  Cut both 10 foot long 10×2 treated boards in half.  Assemble like the picture below, and use the deck screws to screw the 2 inch boards together, and then anchor them with the 4×4’s.  Since our garden bed was so deep we decided to add the 2 additional posts in the middle of the bed for support to prevent bowing.

Then drag this over to the spot where you want to have it planted, dig 4 inch holes where the posts are, then use a level to make sure everything is flush.  Use dirt or take dirt to make even.

Lastly, put screen on the bottom of the garden box to keep out gophers, add dirt, and then plan out where you will be putting the rows and different varieties. For the most part I put 5 plants in each row and spaced them about 1 foot apart but I’m not sure if that is “the norm”.

Tah Dah!

The Finished Raised Garden Bed by Yog

Another great idea can be seen here on how to easily make your bed frost-proof very quickly and easily.

How to Run Water Out to Your Garden (Without the Annoying Hose)

And since the location of the garden box was clear across the yard…

See my garden WAYYYY back there?

…the dad and son duo decided that it only made sense to dig a trench under the lawn from the water source to the fence and go along the whole yard through the alternating fence posts.

While I apologize the lack of technical details on the irrigation system, this is how I saw it:

1/2 inch pipe and connector to the source

Connector where there was a 90 degree angle

Hose running through fence...and spot where we dug it underground

Where the end is mounted and the dual hoses are hooked up

Then they took it one step further.  BF and dad took 6 foot hose and ran it from my new garden water source, underneath the box and into the middle of the raised garden so that I could run a trickling hose through the rows.  Talk about a lucky girl!

Hose that is buried under garden box and comes out in the middle of the garden that is now attached to the dripping hose

I’ve even got a little tool box (alright…it’s one of the 100 gray moving boxes I own) with various gardening items out there so that everything is in one place.

Roundup, bug repellent, mini shovel, some gardening gloves....only thing missing is a beer.

There are also a few things on the brink that spice up the area but that is a whole other post and project!

First Peek of Summer Squash

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Smack Shack @ 1029 Bar & Grill
1029 Marshall Street Northeast
Minneapolis, MN 55413

NEW HOURS Starting Saturday, June 4th, 2011
Tuesday-Friday: 5:00pm-CLOSE
Saturday & Sunday:  11:30am-CLOSE

Website: http://smack-shack.com/
Menu: http://smack-shack.com/?page_id=42

Just here for the lobster roll and pull tabs. No worries.

How Did I Find This Place?

The question is how did I not find this place sooner?  I ran across the Smack Shack’s lobster roll in an article in the “Hot Dish”, a blog by CityPages, as one of their #25 pick of their top 100 dishes of 2011.

Let the drooling begin: http://blogs.citypages.com/food/2011/04/smack_shacks_lo.php

Upon seeing this magnificent sight, I knew that I had to go.  I was like a mosquito being drawn to one of those neon lights that could potentially bring me to my death. Coincidentally that is a great metaphor since I have to drive through a bad side of town to get there.  But that is a chance I’m willing to take for lobster on a hotdog bun.

And not only have I been there once….I’ve been there three times and it’s my new favorite place to take people from out-of-town.  I know that it’s like taking people from the West Coast to sushi in Minneapolis but trust me, if they appreciate d*mn good food and a great bar…they will love it.

My thought is that if Bon Appetit magazine thought it was one of the best lobster rolls in the country, then it’s good enough for me and my company.

Atmosphere

If you can’t appreciate pull tabs, meat raffles, paper slip roulette, and bras in the rafters…get out of the neighborhood.  1029 is a cop bar with a bit of “edge” to it and is the kind of place that you walk into and immediately know that you should order a bloody mary.  It’s as close to a “townie bar” that you’re going to get this close to the city.

My kind of place : )

There is a deck on the side of the bar for summer patrons but if seats run out there is quite a bit of seat-yourself seating in the back and on the side of the bar.

Please note bras in the background; why my mom thought she needed to ask the waitress how they got there is beyond me...love you mom!

While I would feel comfortable brining my kids to this bar I would give the warning that it got slightly wild on a night that the Twins were playing at home so just make sure you plan ahead.

Menu

The menu is brief but if the food is freaking amazing, why do you need 100 options?  They offer lobster rolls, lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, lobster grilled cheese, lobster arugula salad, shrimp or sausage po’ boys, and for land lovers they offer burgers, bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, wings and seasoned fries.

  • The first time I went with the BF.
  • The second time I took my mom and sister.
  • The third time I took the boyfriend again and our friend Irish who was in town.  PLUG TIME: If you’re looking for a great DJ be sure to look him up online at www.dj-irish.com.

Meal(s):

I apologize for the quality of pictures…it was pretty dark the first time that we went!

I told you they looked like the ones from home....beef stick and all.

Don't overlook these....for $3 they are a great deal and can be shared between 2-3 people; are uniquely seasoned and slightly spicy

Lobster, asparagus al dente and cheese on crunchy and buttered fresh bread

Lobster from a lobster roll over an arugula salad mix with some fresh veggies and a light sauce....and some crunchy buttered bread. PERFECT summer meal!

Lobster mac 'n' cheese. Sounds simple but it's not. Lobster, noodles, tellagio cheese and parsley. AH-mazing. Might be my favorite. Also should add that the picture doesn't do it justice because all of the "good stuff" is under the noodles.

Lastly but not leastly, here's the money shot, the Smack Shack's famous lobster roll.

Highlights/Bits ‘n’ Pieces About 1029 and the Smack Shack:

Karaoke on the weekends – When my mom and sister went with me it was on a Friday at 9:00 PM.  Ends up that we showed up just in time for karaoke!  While that might sound horrible, the guys sitting next to us ended up being the best karaoke singers I’ve ever heard in person and they said that they came most Friday nights.  I have a new appreciation for Eric Hutchinson’s song “OK, It’s Alright With Me” after that evening.

The freshness and level of quality of everything that they serve – My mom’s comment to the chef when he walked out to get a pop at the bar is as follows:

“I grew up having lobster rolls on the East Coast so I’m not kidding around when I say that this is one good lobster roll.  And it has more lobster in it than the ones that you get in Coastal Maine…for a better price!”.

Their food truck in downtown Minneapolis– Yup, they also have a food truck.  While I’ve never been able to get on that side of town during the lunch hour, this is how they got famous.  They also have some seasonal specials out of the truck in addition to what they serve during the evening at 1029.  To find out where they’ll be parked and what they’re serving, “like” them on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SmackShack .

Monthly lobster boils – The Smack Shack is now doing monthly lobster boils that is a flat price and includes the following for $25:

  • 1 1/4 lbs Lobster
  • Polish Sausage
  • Corn
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Buttered Milk Bread by Salty Tart

To find out more about the monthly lobster boils, go to their facebook page and look under “events”.

So the next time you’re asking yourself “where should I bring someone from out of town?”…this should be the first thing that pops in your mind!

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