Wandering in Wisconsin

Friends— We arrived in in Wisconsin for our John & Laurel’s wedding (more on that later!!) and since then have been taking in fun and food with our other kids winding our way across  the state.  A little “scrapbooking” of some of the best bits…

We crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa to explore the Effigy Mounds National Monument–a series of Native American burial mounds set in a forest overlooking the Mississippi.  A green and leafy afternoon hike.  Loved it!

     


photos:  forest, pretty lichen, Larry, Brian & Lois on the trail, the Mississippi River, The 3 Heungs by some burial mounds.

Next stop– the Great Wolf Lodge complete with the country’s biggest indoor/outdoor waterpark.  Aside from my first harrowing trip down a water slide, it was a lot of fun splashing with grand-girls in the water.

     

photos: Charlotte, Jobay & Maryann complete with wolf ears,  Jobay– the rope bridge champ!, 3 bathing beauties, in the lobby of the Great Wolf Lodge.

A trip over to Milwaukee, demands a brewery tour. A little beer sampling and an animated tour guide named Winston made it a lively afternoon.

     


photos: Lakefront Brewery building. after tour snacks, Winston, soft pretzels and savory spreads.

Next morning, we walked along Lake Michigan to reach the Milwaukee Art Museum, a monumental structure, by the architect, Santiago Calatrava (Spanish!).

     


Lakeside view of the museum, Ani in the reception hall, Larry by a Chihuly glass work, Lois on the prowl at the museum.

One more stop, at the Pabst Mansion, built in the 1890’s by the brewing family, an elegant look at their sumptuous life.

     


photos:  The Past Mansion, the womens’ salon, bathroom doors, our bright tour guide with Captain Pabst, the servants dining room.

Finally, Larry and I explored the Milwaukee Public Museum–a well done natural history museum–complete with butterfly room!!

     
photos:  Display of the museum exhibits back in the 1800’s. The butterfly room and a couple of it’s residents.

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It was a fine full week, traveling across the green and glorious state of Wisconsin– thanks to Micah & Jodi & those 3 fun girls, thanks to Ani & Brian and our littlest tourist.  You all made it such a wonderful time together.  I am thankful.

Mongolian Beef

Hello all–  We’re nestled in for the night here in Madison Wisconsin.  Loved our Laurel and John’s “Wisconsin wedding weekend in the woods!”  plus a little woodsy hiking and a lot of water-parking with grand-girls since then.  So actually, I haven’t been cooking up much lately!!

But here’s super at our house back in California a couple weeks ago.  Rich brown sauce wrapped around tender chunks of beef –all over brown rice.  Simple and so good.

MONGOLIAN BEEF
1 cup brown rice
2 tab. cornstarch
1 pound flank steak
2 tab. olive oil
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled & minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped fine
1 cup brown mushroom, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
garnish: green onion, chopped

sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

Put the rice on to cook according the directions on the package.

Then put the sauce together.  In a container with a tight fitting lid shake together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and 2 tsp. cornstarch until it is thoroughly blended.  Set aside.

Cut the flank steak into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss it in a bowl with the 2 tab. cornstarch.  Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. And then drop the meat in an even layer int he bottom of the skillet.  Cook on high for just about a minute on each side so it has a nice crisp char.  Remove to a plate.

In the same skillet, drop in the ginger and onion.  Cook 2 or 3 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Then add in the mushroom and garlic and cook a couple minutes more.

Give the sauce ingredients one more good shake and then pour it all into the hot pan over the onion mixture.  Stir until it thickens and then add in the beef.

Layer the cook rice and beef & sauce onto a plate.  Sprinkle the top wit green onion.  Done!

Rosemary Lemon Cake

Hello there–  Love this quirky little cake.  To start with, I pretty much adore anything topped with lemony cream cheese frosting.  Add a tender cake with a whisper of rosemary and hints of lemon peel and it’s pretty luscious.

ROSEMARY LEMON CAKE

Cake:
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tab. lemon juice*
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter milk**
1 cup + 2 tab. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tab. rosemary, chopped very fine

Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tab. lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon peel, grated
garnish: lemon slice, rosemary sprig

To make the cake, beat together the 1/2 cup butter, sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel with an electric mixer until they are all creamed together.  Then beat in the eggs and buttermilk.  Finally beat in the flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary.  Continue to beat the batter with the mixer for 2 minutes.

Scoop all the batter into a 9″ cake pan than has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until the cake is firm to the touch.   Let the cake cook completely before you frost it.

To make the frosting, use the electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon peel.  When it is thoroughly blended and creamy, frost the cooled cake.  Garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of rosemary.  So pretty!

*I used 1 large juicy lemon and got enough juice and grated peel for the cake and frosting.
**In place of buttermilk, pour a tablespoon of vinegar into the measuring cup and fill it to make 1/2 cup.

Our New Little Guy

He’s here!  Little Otto Acer, born on Monday, August 7th.  We’ve been waiting for this new little grand-guy, praying for his safe arrival and here he is, welcomed by his fine parents and big sis Mae and big brother Eero.  So so thankful for this new little life come into the big wide world.  God bless you Baby Otto in all that lies ahead.

     

 

Turkey Spinach Burgers

Hi there–We have the custom around here to eat Monday night dinner in front of the t.v. — watching “Next Food Network Star” that we recorded on Sunday evening.  Are you watching too??  Who do you think will win it??  We have our favorites!!

So tonight with our serving of t.v., we dug into these Turkey Spinach Burgers, hot from the stove.  They have a whole cup of spinach in each burger and the onions, cumin, garlic and lots of salt & pepper flavor the turkey just fine.  I think you’d like them as much as we did.

TURKEY SPINACH BURGERS
4 cups spinach, chopped, stems removed
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey
1 tsp. cumin
salt & freshly ground pepper
2-3 tab. olive oil
4 hamburger buns
fixings: tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, mayo, ketchup…

Put the chopped spinach, sliced green onion, minced garlic, turkey and cumin into a mixing bowl. Squish it all together with your hands (or with a fork it you want to be tidy).  Form 4 hamburger patties.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Put the hamburgers into the skillet.  Liberally salt & pepper the 4 patties as they cook, about 4 minutes on each side on medium high heat.  (Resist the temptation to squish them flatter with your spatula).

Serve them up hot on buns with all the fixings!

Chocolate Chip Crumble Top Cake

Hello Bakers– Here’s a sweet little cake.  Quick to put together, no frosting to make.  Just a touch of chocolate and all that crumbly topping.  With a scoop of ice cream –just right!

CHOCOLATE CHIP CRUMBLE TOP CAKE

Crumble Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup flour

Cake:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

To top it off:
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
powdered sugar

First make the crumb topping.  In a mixing bowl stir together the brown sugar, 1/3 cup white sugar, pinch of salt and 1 cup of flour.  Pour in the melted butter and stir it up til it’s blended.  Set aside.

To make the cake, in a mixing bowl, mix together the 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and the  1/4 tsp. salt.  Then stir in the canola oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk.  Next fold in the mini chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into a standard 9″x 5″ loaf can (or I used 2 smaller half size pans) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Then sprinkle the crumble topping over the batter with your fingers so it looks like coarse crumbs.

Pop it into a 350 degree over for 35 to 40 minutes.  When it comes out of the oven sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips over the hot cake.  When it cools, sprinkle on the powdered sugar through a sieve.  Cut into pretty slices & enjoy!

Summer Pasta Salad

 

Hello all– This weekend we’re happily stacking all the things we need to pack up for early Monday morning, when we fly off for our Laurel & John’s wedding in the woods of Wisconsin!  Party dress,  check. Sunblock, check. Grandma Lo’s wedding cake bride and groom, check.  Surprises for grand-girl Jobay, turning 6 on the wedding date, checkity check.

And meanwhile, around here, we’re cleaning out things lingering in the kitchen before we go.  Had a 1/3 bag of egg noodles, a ready to eat avocado, MORE of Larry’s sweet tomatoes…  Throw them in with some corn, a couple slices of bacon and a little chicken.  Summer Pasta Salad  –just right on a hot summer evening!

SUMMER PASTA SALAD
4 oz. pasta (I used egg noodles)
1 boneless chicken breast
1 tab. olive oil
5 slices bacon
2 ears of corn, cut from the cob
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 avocados, cut to nice chunks

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar*
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  Drain and let it cool.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Cut the chicken breast into 3 flat filets and saute in a skillet until it’s nicely browned and cooked through (3 or4 minutes on each side). Remove to cutting board and cut into nice polite size pieces.

Wipe out the skillet and cook up the bacon.  Crumble it to small bits.

Cook the corn cobs in the microwave 6 or 7 minutes.  Cut the corn from the cobs with a large knife.

To make the dressing put the oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it up until it’s completely blended.

When the chicken and pasta have cooled, put them in a large mixing bowl and mix in the bacon, corn, tomatoes, green onion and dressing.  Then gently fold in the avocado.  Put to chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes or more before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings.