Bye weeks and Clovis Mann

It’s a bye week which is probably good for the Packers, but bad for the fans. Unless you had a baby shower that you had to attend that some good fan strategically scheduled for the bye week. Otherwise you are stuck silently suffering as you wonder how many sacks Clay Matthews has while you pretend to ooh and ahh over a diaper genie or baby bjorn (which you have no idea what these are or their intended use). This has not happened to me, but I bet it has happened to someone.

Do you think people in other states dress up their cats in onesies with their favorite sports team’s logo? This leads me to the photo of the day…

Danger Boy in his favorite Packer outfit

In other news, I’m super proud of Dan’s band Clovis Mann and all of the great press (like this article on the local sounds magazine site)that they have been getting for their latest album, Metamorphic. It is also exciting because the picture on the cover is one that I took last summer at the Bandit County Fair (and it is my third album cover)!

The tunnel to the Mississippi River at the Bandit Co Fair, June 2010

Apparently like a squirrel hoards nuts for the winter I am doing the equivalent of this by storing whole wheat pasta and cheese in my stomach. Tonight I am trying a recipe for mac-n-cheese that I found on the New York Times website. I’ll let you know how it goes. Go Pack.

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Back that kale up

Howdy. Let’s take a trip back to last Thursday. This idea of starting a blog (from here on out I will be calling it a log, until I come up with something better, because blog sounds so unappealing) has been brewing for awhile but for some reason last Thursday I became highly energized about it. I sat down at my computer and started to write. This is what I wrote: “Sometimes you can find inspiration in the oddest of places. Like bathroom stalls.” I went on to explain that during a break from a three-hour literacy methods course in the Educational Sciences building on the UW campus I would go into the same bathroom and ponder an expression of graffiti that declared something about following your bliss and that the answer was to “ride an f-ing bike.” For some reason I really liked that.

After I went for a nice run outside in the unseasonably warm November evening, I elicited Dan on a mission to Willy Street Co-op for ingredients for a winter kale pasta recipe that I found on 101 cookbooks. I also had a secret mission in mind.

I used kale from the farmer's market, but this is a photo of the lovely kale and swiss chard at the Willy St Co-op

Did you know that the largest consumer of kale in this country is Pizza Hut, but that it isn’t for eating- it is used to decorate the salad bar?!?!? I learned that in my brilliant cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini from the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition. C’mon people, it is time to get this superfood off of the ice surrounding the 3-day-old salad mix with all of the life sucked out of it and into our mouths!

Olive bar, I love you
Yummmmm... cheese

After the grocery store we stopped off at Star Liquor for a bottle of wine- I was excited to see that one of my favorite beers is back in season: Sierra Neveda’s Celebration Ale. Thank you Chico, CA for this beer and for Aaron Rodgers!

Celebration Ale has arrived

On the way home we took a detour for my secret mission which was unsuccessful. I wanted to see if the bike graffiti was still on the bathroom wall so that I could take a picture of it but it had been sandblasted or painted over. Ah well, Dan says art is meant to be destroyed.

On to the kale pasta. I followed the recipe but adapted it slightly. Instead of goat cheese I used feta in the sauce and then we shredded Edelweiss Grass-Fed Emmenthaler (I had never heard of this but it was the right price and it looked like a parmesan) for the garnish. We also added some delicious black olives (I’m blanking on what they are actually called but Dan decided they taste like whiskey so they are now “whiskey olives”). Ooh! And add some red pepper flakes. I served it with a baguette from Madison Sourdough Co and some roasted cauliflower.

I was moving fast and panicking a little because the recipe said the kale should only be in the boiling water for 10 seconds!

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This is a recipe from Heidi Swanson and her website, 101 cookbooks.

Winter Pasta

I used penne here, but you can substitute whatever pasta you like. Spinach can be substituted for the kale if you like as well.

4 cloves of garlic, peeled
4 small shallots, peeled
1 small bunch of kale – 1/2 lb / 8 oz, stalks removed, washed well
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup / 2 oz goat cheese, plus more for topping
2 tablespoons + hot pasta water
fine grain sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
fresh lemon juice – optional
12 oz / 340 g dried penne pasta
fresh thyme – and thyme flowers

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the boiling water generously, and add the garlic and shallots. Boil for 2-3 minutes, stir in the kale and cook for another ten seconds. Don’t overcook. Working quickly, use a slotted spoon or strainer to fish the greens, garlic, and shallots from the water. Use a food processor to puree the ingredients along with the olive oil and goat cheese. Add a couple tablespoons of hot pasta water if needed to thin things out if needed. Then season with a touch of salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste. Depending on your goat cheese, you might need a little extra acidic oomph if your sauce is a bit flat. If so, add fresh lemon juice a bit at a time until you’re happy with it the sauce. Set aside.

Reheat the pot of water and boil the pasta per package instructions. Drain and toss immediately with the green sauce. Serve topped with a few pinches of fresh thyme, and more crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 4-6.

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Yum. Thanks for going back in time with me to remember this meal and the beginning of this log.

Seeking spinach and scones in the cold November rain

We sat next to each other at the picnic table the other day. Me: Disheveled hair. Brown eyes. Aspiring writer. You: Nice laugh. Pizza lover. Prospective reader. Coffee?

Wading in Lake Michigan, June 2008

 

And so it begins. Inspired by Molly Wizenberg of Orangette fame, I have decided to, as Molly wrote, “stick my neck out there” and hold myself accountable to something. With a Journalism degree in my pocket that was put on the back burner, I still crave the rush of seeing my name in the byline. While I used to fantasize about being the next Woodward or Bernstein, I then began to picture myself as Carrie Bradshaw, staring blissfully out of the open window of my walk-up apartment with a martini in my hand and a brilliant revelation at my fingertips. I now want to write children’s books, food articles and everything in between. I love to cook and take photos. I stopped eating meat (besides fish) one year, one month and three days ago. When it comes to pizza, I believe what my boyfriend, Dan, says and that olives are the new sausage. I love swimming with my family in a lake in Iowa in the late summer afternoon when the sun starts to hang lazily in the sky, ready for happy hour, not quite ready for bed.

On this site I hope to write about food, Wisconsin, road trips, music and the things that make me (and hopefully you) happy, like seeing dogs being driven around in bike trailers intended for children. Or blasting this song at exceedingly loud volumes. Let’s get this party started.

I woke up today to a gray and rainy morning desperately seeking spinach and scones. The last farmer’s market on the square was last weekend and so Dan and I begrudgingly (after retrieving coffees from EVP) drove downtown to go to the indoor market at the Monona Terrace (after parking the car we got to play with an eight-month old corgi). The indoor market is disorienting for many reasons, including the hallucinogenic orange carpeting, the fluorescent lighting and the fact that I no longer know where to find my favorite vendors. Dan managed to find the spinach man and after purchasing spinach and a rutabaga we fled the indoor market and escaped back into the cold and blustery day. I had my heart set on a scone from Lazy Jane’s Cafe but first we decided to stop by the memorial dedicated to Otis Redding whose plane crashed in Lake Monona in 1967. A million years ago- before Dan and I were dating- we attended a wedding at the Monona Terrace and a group of us left the reception to find the memorial and ceremonially pay our respects to Mr. Redding. This visit was a bit more brief. And sober.

Otis's memorial

And we were off to Lazy Jane’s where we sat upstairs- in the sweltering heat- and were joined by Stosh, who is visiting from Pittsburgh. I laughed as Dan and Stosh told stories about Ford’s Gym and nibbled at a lemon cream scone while we waited to hear the cooks downstairs yell my name throughout the cozy house-turned-cafe telling us that our food was ready. And when that happened, I devoured a curry tofu scramble with a side of some damn good potatoes. Yum.

Lazy Jane's
Lemon cream scone and coffee
Nice kitties

 And there you have it. My first entry. In the coming months I hope to share recipes, photographs, and tales of my adventures around Wisconsin. For now, sweet dreams.