Thursday, February 18, 2010

5:00 Fridays

Today's 5:00 Fridays is a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers. We haven't met (yet) in person, but I think I might squee and pee when I get to belly up to a bar with this fellow mama of boys. I imagine it will pan out a lot like when I met my lovely Caroline for the first time.

Meet Melissa, sweet Melissa. Green Girl in Wisconsin. Click over on that thar link and read some of her stuff. Then sign up for the RSS feed. She's a whole lot of awesomeness and smack talk.

When Ilina (and many, many other East Coast bloggers) wrote about their Snowmeggedon, I totally sympathized. After all, I live in Wisconsin, land of the Nanook, the Frozen Tundra, the legendary Ice Bowl. Ten inches of fluffy stuff to us is commonplace where everyone owns a parka, snow boots and tire chains. Between snowmobiles, skis, sleds and snow shoes, we make the most of winter here.

The time of year we hate here is early spring, when the temperatures warm up to 36 degrees--enough to turn pure white bountiful flakes into a slushy, dirty, sloppy mess. It coats our cars, it tracks into our houses and leaves charcoal-colored puddles on the floors. Children are resigned to playing around the puddles in their driveways. Snowmobile trails close, ski hills shut down, and while the rest of the country enjoys mild weather, we curse the ice floes clogging up our rivers and the mountains of gritty slush stubbornly blocking the storm sewers along the roads. We wait impatiently--staring out the windows at the gray landscape. Whether farmer, baseball player, teacher or fisherman, early spring is a cruel time.

Regardless of the calendar, whether it's a hot summer night, a blizzard or the slow thaw of spring, one cocktail brings a smile to the faces of people living in Northeast Wisconsin. The Dirty Snowball. A recipe developed and perfected at Cleo's Brown Beam Tavern, Dirty Snowballs are as potent as Long Island Iced Tea and more delicious than fudge brownies.

I told Theresa she needs this legendary recipe because soon all that snow will start to melt, leaving behind snowdrifts pockmarked by auto exhaust and gravel. When her two boys are outside chucking dirty snowballs at each other, she can stand at the window and watch--while tossing back her own Dirty Snowballs.

Dirty Snowball (the real recipe from Cleo's Brown Beam Tavern*)

1 shot vodka
1 shot dark creme de cacao
1 shot coffee liqueur
1 shot cream

Blend to the consistency of slush.

*I searched the internet to find this recipe to no avail. Many other "Dirty Snowball" drinks exist, but they call for Bailey's and Mint Schnapps--NOT the same drink we toast and get toasted on in Northeast Wisconsin! I knew that Cleo's used vodka in this cocktail, so I went straight to the source and asked one of their bartenders. This, Ilina, is the real deal!

And further cause for celebration...

This year Cleo's Brown Beam Tavern turns 40 years old. Named both for the original owner and for the beams that stretch across the ceiling, Cleo's is known also for its crazy decor. The first Christmas after it opened, Cleo never took down the decorations. Since then, decorations from EVERY holiday have been added by patrons, making the interior truly unique and memorable. Name the holiday and tacky decor and you will find it somewhere inside Cleo's!
5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, February 15, 2010

What's for Dinner

While I make a hearty home cooked meal (almost) every night, I'm often flying by the seat of my too tight pants. I find myself subbing walnuts for pine nuts or simply doing without ingredients because I didn't have my shopping shit together. My paltry pantry pinches my panties in a pickle. And there goes my culinary mojo. Down the drain with the grease (Kidding! Don't ever ever put grease down the drain, people!!!).

I've decided to try a new MO this week. I'm not committing to a WHOLE. YEAR. like a resolution or anything. I'm talking a lousy week here, folks. Not even all seven days; I'm just thinking about the six days that I'm usually flying solo and wondering who the hell granted me my motherhood license in the first place.

This week I'm planning my menu. For the whole week. I perused cookbooks, websites, my recipe box (yes, I have a splattered old recipe box), and the clipped magazine cutouts stuck to the only magnetic side of my smudged stainless steel fridge that is practically tucked behind the cabinetry and hard to access. Note to self: Must add those recipes to aforementioned box.

So here's how our menu is stacking up at Chez Dirt & Noise:

Proscuitto wrapped salmon with herbed lentils and spinach, roasted endive, balsamic marinated strawberries, bananas foster (Thank you, Jamie Oliver!)

Baked chicken drumsticks with carrots, black olives, lemon, roasted parsnips, baked maple apples, cheesy garlic bread, ice cream (The boys chose Neopolitan.)

Proscuitto and goat cheese risotto, spinach salad with craisins, walnuts, homemade dijon/orange vinaigrette (We don't do bottled dressing here. Why bother when the homemade stuff is oh so easy and exponentially more tasty?)

Fish tacos with avocado and cabbage/cilantro slaw, chili/cumin corn, black beans

Tofu stir fry with broccoli and snow peas, brown rice, sliced pears

Homemade pizza with whole wheat crust, raw sugar snap peas and apple slices (Finger food fun!)

I actually went to the grocery store on Sunday to stock up for the week. I normally go to the store or farmer's market 3-5 times a week, depending on what kitchen fantasy strikes me. My goal is not to cut down my shopping trips, but it would be a nice byproduct (particularly for Deal, who gets dragged from Trader Joe's to Costco to Kroger to Harris Teeter umpteen times a week). I simply want less frenzy in the witching hours when Bird is cranking out homework and Deal goes from Mr. Congeniality to Commander Crankypants. And, it seems, the dog rings the dang bell to pee 600 times whilst I make dinner. Lark's small bladder makes the risotto a risky proposition considering the constant attention and stirring that dish needs. Alas, I shall persevere.
What's for DinnerSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend