Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Delciousness Pt II

Tonight is hot. It's muggy. And the Brewers are getting their arses handed to them by the Cubbies once again. Who wants to cook?

Well, me, because I'm going to Chicago for Lolla this weekend and anticipate spending more money than I should.

Last night I made a salad out of much of my CSA offerings, but after eating it for lunch today, I only had a bit left:

I used CSA lettuce, radicchio, swiss chard, tomato, carrot and radishes and added green pepper and onion that I bought at the Cathedral Square Farmer's Market. I mixed in shredded Sartori Bellavitano Cheese, BelGioso Romano cheese and oil & vinegar.

My entree was truly brilliant though:

The bottom layer is my attempt at "quick" risotto and I'll be if it didn't work! I needed to use up leftover chicken broth, so I boiled it as my base for Brown Minute Rice (which I picked up free as a promo at Summerfest--just adding to the economy of this meal). When I added the rice to the broth, I also added a pat of butter, a tablespoon of yogurt, some 1% milk, shredded Sartori Bellavitano Cheese and the romano cheese. I stirred it all up, turned off the heat and went and got my laundry.

When I came back I sautéed up my Italian pole beans and zucchini from the CSA, adding a bit of the Farmer's Market onion. After they browned a bit in the olive oil and butter, I threw in the romano cheese. Bellisimo!

Back to the rice, I threw in a bunch of rosemary, a sprig of basil and a touch of coriander flower.

Assembling my dish, I added the final touch -- shreds of rotisserie chicken (it was too hot to cook meat!). I topped this with romano cheese and rosemary and voila! One damn fine looking and damn fine tasting meal. Wisconsin's bounty is truly spoiling me this year:



Delicious? Yes. And better than the worst food offering at GermanFest last weekend:


Yup, that says "herring funnel cakes."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cheese Blog Found

God, I love the Internet. Almost as much as I love cheese.

Thanks to Craig sharing a link to Eat Wisconsin in his Google Reader, I discovered a link to Cheese Underground, which covers Wisconsin cheese news. Heck yes!

Fortunately to balance this all out, Ben shared a LifeHacker link to the best online workout plans.

I Added a Fest

In my 10 years in Milwaukee I've tried to take advantage of everything my adopted city has to offer. Since there are about a billion ethnic festivals, I haven't hit them all...yet.

This weekend, however, I added GermanFest. I'll admit, it was a little disappointing after Festa Italiana, where I successfully ate my way through the grounds. I didn't expect to find too much at GermanFest, especially since I don't eat red meat or pork. I also am not a huge fan of German culture, preferring Mediterranean and the British Isles. I was amused however, by the Glockenspiel, so the 66 cents I spent on two canned goods to get in was not wasted.

The Glockenspiel is that big clock that has leiderhosen-clad men come out carrying and drinking beer, chopping wood, and "slappy" dancing.

At four p.m. they start the show:


I was a little disappointed it didn't begin EXACTLY at 4 p.m., considering the Germans reputation for efficiency.

At about 4:00:32 this guy came out:


He was soon joined by a few friends who provided plenty of entertainment for about 15 minutes. Here's 20 seconds of that:


video

I did find a couple things to snack on. I had some rotisserie chicken, although it was accompanied by German Potato Salad, which despite the food service girl's claim, did indeed have bacon in it. I also split some potato pancakes and applesauce with my friend, and those were QUITE tasty.

Hopefully next year I can make it to the YNPN-Milwaukee outing at GermanFest. This year I missed it since Phil and I went to see The Police. My that Sting is one fiiiiine looking man. But like I said, I prefer the Mediterranean and British Isles :)

Summer Delciousness

Before I head to the kitchen to combine my CSA-focused (a lovely salad) for the evening. I thought I'd post some photos (which I just uploaded) of other delicious summer creations.

First, this scrumptious Bloody Mary, which was a joint effort between myself and Becky, with a little help from our friend Neil's girlfriend Kelly. We enjoyed this at the 4th of July Brewers game and two of them got us sufficiently drunk.
Yes, those are mozzarella whips. Just like the Wicked Hop!

My other photographed accomplishment was a wonderful salad I made with the last CSA box (before my fridge went on the fritz -- it's thankfully now fixed). I used strawberries AND blueberries and made a dill/sour cream dressing, topped with an edible flower from the borage in my herb garden. It looks pretty and tasted great too!

They're Heeerrrrrree

Even though it said 5-6 weeks, the business cards I ordered from GigglePrint.com arrived today! Just a little over a week since I ordered them.

My scanner pretty much sucks, but here's proof that they made it. I'm a nerd, I know, but I'm excited to start handing 'em out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheese-us, Can't I be a 21st Century Consumer?

A few months ago I attended the Moo & Brew event at the Milwaukee Public Market. I gathered a lot of brochures that night (in addition to eating delicious cheese and getting smashed on beer samples). Well those brochures littered my living room until tonight when I decided to toss them. Trying to be a responsible consumer -- and salivating over the memory of that tasty evening - I decided to visit the websites of the various vendors I sampled.

Good God. It was like taking a virtual road trip to 1997.

I'm about halfway through my pile. I have found no blogs or RSS feeds, only a couple e-newsletters and only a couple modernly designed sites. I know this is Wisconsin and people have lower expectations, but come on!

It did make me realize that I really need to push the blog concept at work. I may have a lot going on, but I gotta find time in my day to make that happen. I hope no one is going to our website and wondering where the interaction is.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Accidental Wisconsinite Business Cards!

I am a sucker for free stuff.

Also, for years I've been pondering getting business cards for personal use. (So people I met socially could have my cell and gmail versus my work number and work email).

My prayers were finally answered and tonight I found a site called Giggle Print that offers 250 free business cards with just a $5.25 fee. For those not overly graphically inclined you just use a template to plug in your info and you can preview everything right there.

I found out about Giggle Print (yeah, kind of a goofy name) through BzzAgent, which is an online-based viral marketing project I've done for about three years now.

Anyway, I'd say about 80% of the stuff I try out I don't bother others with, but this was such a unique site I thought I would share.

PLUS, now if I see you out and about I can give you a business card. Woohoo!

Visit GigglePrint

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Blockbuster Weekend

I ended up not going down to Chicago for Pitchfork this weekend for a variety of reasons. I'll still be going down to Lollapalooza in two weeks, so don't fret, I haven't lost my groove.

Instead I stayed in Milwaukee and managed to take full advantage of several things this fair city has to offer, as well enjoy two huge summer movies that everyone went to nationwide.

Thursday evening after picking up the CSA, I joined my friends at Jazz in the Park. This was one of my first full jazzes of the season, odd considering I live a block away. After Jazz, we decided to head to Hi Hat for martinis. Phil ended up meeting up with me and the two of us went to the newly reopened Bryant's Cocktail Lounge at my pleading. It was pretty much as awesome as I remember it, and my Straw Hat was delicious. Rumor is that they are going to print a menu eventually, which makes me very sad. I will try and return and use the "name a flavor" method before that happens.

Work was tricky on Friday, as I was pretty darn sleepy. Made it through and took a quick powernap before Phil and I headed to iPic for The Dark Knight. It was everything I hoped it would be and well worth my time and money.

Got up early on Saturday and took my first golf lesson with my friends Olivia and Maguita at Gastrau's Golf Center in Oak Creek. Successfully carried my clubs on the bus too! Today my arms hurt pretty badly, but I was glad to learn some basics. I have to focus on my grip, squaring off my stance and hitting the ball. Then I'll be the best golfer in the world, I'm sure. Swung by the Cathedral Square Farmer's Market on the way home and then ended up taking a lovely nap. Woke up and prepped an Amish chicken in the crock pot, then made the horrid realization that my refrigerator is malfunctioning. Tossed about $40 worth of food and became about $400 worth of pissed off. Not wanting to stay in with a faulty fridge, I decided to join Lars, Kate and Bridgit on their Girl's Night.

Accompanied the crew to a brief stop at some party in Franklin, then headed to Mayfair for the Abbalicious Mamma Mia!. Hey, after the seriousness of Batman, I earned the right to some serious camp. Good God, the movie was cheesy, but fun. And I needed a little fun. Afterward, I agreed to go dancing with the gang at Victor's. This was my once-per-year agreeing to go to "Victim's," but it was fun and the creepiness was kept to a minimum.

Slept in today and woke up around noon. To my delight Festa Italiana was free admission until 3 p.m. Headed down there and began eating. Lars and Jason met up later and we ate our way through the grounds. Jason and I stayed to watch a bizarre cooking demonstration, which as Jason described was "a surreal mix of the food network and '50s Vegas."

En route home, had the disappointment of learning that Phil was en route to Festa. Of course I didn't get a handstamp. Que sera, sera...as they say.

Monday, July 7, 2008

it's so hot...

...how hot is it?

So hot that I stopped off at the Library after work and read an entire book to take advantage of the air conditioning and the freeness.

I also got several books, a couple CDs, and DVDs of the British Office and the final season of Coupling.

The book I read? Yeah, it was pretty sweet. You can never go wrong with Librarian's Choice. This month that shelf is labeled "What???" and had books about a bunch of totally random crap. I picked up this:
Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip chronicles two Soviet satirists' sojourn through 1930s America and is illustrated by "road trip" photos of their experiences. It was a quick (obviously) and great read. Some of the observations they have though ring so true today. It's pretty freaky, especially since many of those relate to race relations, brainwashing via advertising and energy waste. You'd hope those things would have improved since 1936, but alas on some fronts they're even worse. (Not to say there haven't been improvements, I guess those just didn't stand out as much.)

how can they sing with their hands over their mouths?

Just noticed that the promo ads for two upcoming shows at the Pabst are eerily similar.

M. Ward:
Bon Iver:
Mmmm....hand....

Anyway speaking of shows, it's music season in my world. I just saw several great shows at Summerfest:

  • Stevie Wonder (freakin' amazing)
  • The Cougs (John Mellencamp...okay, that was pretty cheesy, but it was damn fun, and you know you know the words!)
  • Polyphonic Spree (!!!!!!!!!!)
  • Alabama 3 (or A3 ... the band that did the Sopranos theme song. Totally incredible live. Wish I could see them at a better venue. Also wish I'd realized the show started at 6 vs 6:30)
  • Alejandro Escovedo (rockin)
  • Thievery Corporation (a fun show, but for the 16-year-old drunk b****ches behind us)
And I've got several more good ones ahead of me:
  • July 7: The Dodos at Cactus Club (though it is Storm the Bastille and I'm going to have go solo) Or nevermind...pitchfork lied!!
  • July 19-20: Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend, !!!, The Hold Steady, Jarvis Cocker, Animal Collective, Mahjongg, Dirty Projectors, Apples in Stereo, M. Ward, The Dodos (again), Spirtualized, Bon Iver, Dinosaur Jr, Cut Copy, Spoon and a sh*t ton of other bands at Pitchfork Music Festival
  • July 31: CSS / The Go! Team @ Turner Hall (still gotta get tix!)
  • August 1-3: The Kills, Gogol Bordello, Mates of State, Bloc Party, RADIOHEAD, Black Lips, Dr. Dog, The Gutter Twins, MGMT, Explosions in the Sky, Jamie Lidell, Broken Social Scene, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Wilco, The Weakerthans, Brazilian Girls, Chromeo, Black Kids, Iron & Wine, Girl Talk, The National, Kanye and more bands than you can shake a stick at @ Lollapalooza
  • August 14: Bon Iver @ the Pabst
  • September 5 (maybe): Black Keys @ Turner
  • September 9: Spirtualized @ Turner
Okay, there's about $65 in tickets I still have to purchase. Anyone wanna help a soul sister out?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

if i were an enterprising entrepeneur

I would make a late night shuttle service between Chicago and Milwaukee.

I would just run it Thursday-Sunday and tie it in with music venues.

Seriously I would pay $40 to get back from a show in Chicago. It's retarded that I can't.

lunch anticipation

I succeeded at creating 3/5 dishes for this week. My kitchen got a little too toasty for a summer evening and I resolved to make Thursday and Friday's dishes tomorrow night.

Now I'm the type of person who generally just throws a bunch of shit in the pan and hope that it turns out right--as it usually does, since I'm a spice snob AND now have access to fresh herbs right out my back door AND have all sorts of fun veggies coming to me each week courtesy of my CSA.

The only thing I was able to indulge in this evening, thanks to making a copious amount of it, was some delicious chicken and fruit salad. Here's what went into that (off the top of my head):

Chicken:
- one chicken breast
- lemon pepper seasoning (spice house) - enough to coat breast
- brady street cheese sprinkle (penzy's) - just a smidge
- fresh rosemary
- fresh marjoram
- fresh cilantro
- orange juice

Salad:
- mixed greens, finely chopped
- cucumber
- blueberries
- green grapes
- red grapes
- fresh herb blend: garlic scape, cilantro, dill, borage, purple basil

Dressing:
- sour cream
- mayonnaise
- dijon mustard

Coat chicken in spices, place with herbs in shallow dish and cover in orange juice. Bake about 20 minutes. Prepare salad and chop up chicken when done and add to salad. Mix with dressing and enjoy.

This makes about 3-4 servings. I made two wraps (one of which I had for dinner) and still have a couple servings leftover. I ate mine tonight with a side of sugar snap peas, which I got from the CSA this week. God, those are SOOOO tasty. I was going to add strawberries to the salad, but I only have a few left and am thinkin' I may make some straw-blue shortcake later on.

But yeah, Rare Earth farm pretty much grows the juiciest strawberries EVER.

The other two dishes? The ones I have yet to sample?

Chicken Stir-Fry with Carrots and Pole Beans

and

Magic Far Eastern Spicy Chicken.

The former relies heavily on ginger, japanese seven spice (spice house) and soy sauce for flavoring. Cooked in a wok in sesame oil and added some peanuts. The latter is coated in hot curry, garam masala and cayenne pepper and then covered in yogurt and baked for about an hour in tin foil. Will probably make some rice to go with it.

I think meal #4 is going to be some sort of fajita. I'm not sure about dish #5--open to suggestions!

lunch boredom

Yes, I realize my blogging has been slacking lately.

I've been busy enjoying the Milwaukee summer and summerfesting quite a bit, as well as cheering on our Milwaukee Brewers.

Anyway, as the long weekend winds down, I find myself prepping for a full week of work. One of the toughest parts about the five-day week is not getting totally bored with your lunch options. Especially now that I'm in the middle-of-nowhere as far as office location goes. This is a good thing because it prevents me from dining out, but a bad thing in that I get weary of my pack-your-own options. I also try to avoid frozen meals at all costs because of the sodium factor, but have been falling into that trap more and more lately.

Enter the internet. I just googled "lunch not sandwiches" and came across the suggestion (in the comments on some random blog) to cook five chicken breasts on Sunday using different spices, sides, etc. and have those prepared for the week. Freakin' brilliant! This also avoids the sodium and nitrates in deli meats. So, I'm off to Metro market and then for a fun late afternoon of cookin'. Hopefully I will muster up the energy to post the results later on.

I did buy some new herbs yesterday (purple basil, dill and lemon verbena) at the East Town Farmers Market, so perhaps I'll integrate?

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