Thursday, October 31, 2013

Too Much?

                            Happy Halloween from the End of the Rainbow Valley!

Overindulging is never a good thing.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Hundreds of these guys are stopping over to fill their bills and bellies in the backwaters of the Mississippi before heading South to Mexico, Texas and the Gulf states...

Usually mass white blobs can be seen in the distance but these pelicans were right next to the road Tuesday a.m.  Unfortunately, I was running late so I couldn't 'stopover'.  They are so numerous they tend to pick over an area relatively quickly.  Luckily some small groups were still hanging around close to that same spot upon my return trip. I don't think the 'human' fisherman who expect the schools of fish by the jetty are going to be happy but hey if the humans want to fly South, they take a plane. The pelicans need their sustenance and rest.

It's just another amazing occurrence so close to the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bye, Bye Birdie

One prominent characteristic of our home in the End of the Rainbow Valley is the number of windows.  When you live in a valley it's important to use whatever light there is and also take advantage of the views.

 The only ones who have problems with the windows are the birds.

Whether they are fighting over the hanging feeders/ the light's reflecting a certain way, there isn't a day when one doesn't smack into a window.  Sometimes it's brushing the glass and other times it's a good thud. I always go check if they are just stunned and to make sure the dog doesn't think they are his squeaky toy.

Today was a bit different since it has gotten chilly and this poor little golden finch hit a front patio window, was still standing, but not moving.  I grabbed a washrag and swaddled him, moving him off the cement and placing him on higher ground into a planter.

Every 10 minutes I returned to see how he was doing but as you see that he was bright eyed and ... Well actually, I couldn't tell about his tail.

 After another 10 minutes he had indeed flown away...

 Whew, thank goodness for a happy ending for this fine feathered friend!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sweet ... Blending of 2 Holidays

Although I usually start working on Thanksgiving a couple days early, this year is extra special as Turkey Day will also be the first day of Chanuka. This calls for some tradition combo's and Sweet Potato Latkes will definitely be on the menu. This is one dish that can be made ahead and frozen.

Yesterday I got some practice in making potato pancakes as Natureman and I volunteered to help another couple make 120 for a community potluck, yep 10 dozen.

Since latkes are on my mind, I figured I might as well make a batch of sweet potato ones and get them in the freezer.

For serving there will be not just our homemade applesauce but cranberries mixed in. Cranberry Applesauce sounds pretty good, doesn't it?


2 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 c unseasoned breadcrumbs (regular or panko style)
1 T potato starch/ flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 t salt
½ t cinnamon
¼ t curry powder
Olive, grapeseed or peanut oil (for frying)

Ready a cookie sheet lined with paper towels placing it close to the frying pan so that once the latkes are fried, the finished product can be set atop and the paper towels can work their magic absorbing  extra oil.

I usually just scrub the potatoes and don't peel them since we grow our own (no chemicals) but we don't grow sweet potatoes.

Although these were bought in our local farmer's market and grown locally, these will be peeled.

Place quartered potatoes into food processor with the grating attachment. ( So much faster than hand grating!)

Remove potato juice by placing potato shreds in center of doubled cheesecloth/tea towel. Wrap in cloth and twist. The cloth not the dance, OK?

Heat oil in frying pan to give it time to reach frying temperature (smoking means it's too hot)

Meanwhile squeezed potato shreds are added to large bowl along with beaten eggs, salt, cinnamon and curry powder.

Take about a 1/4 c of mixture and hand squeeze extra liquid out before carefully adding it to hot oil. Test temperature with a pinch first. Seriously it has to be the right temp unless you like soggy latkes.

If satisfied with oil temperature, add additional latkes leaving room in between.

Use spatula to flatten latke, oil should come up at least half the sides.

When brown edges appear, time to flip carefully. Place done latke upon paper towel.

Individual preferences vary as to crispness. Growing up my Dad loved his latkes crispy hence I lean towards crispy.
Looks like we'll be having some yummy sweet potato latkes
in a couple of weeks with our turkey in the End of the Rainbow Valley...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gone to Seed?

A head cold has a way of slowing a person down and my body sure let me know that it needed the rest.  Even though I am not in the classroom this semester being exposed to all that hacking at this time of year, I still got it... Down time has been virtually non-existent since the beginning of September with the Holidays, our Alaskan cruise, my folks's visit (instead of rolling out the carpet, we rolled them all up so there wasn't any tripping ), 2 Twin Cities weddings soon followed by a jaunt to the other side of the state to Milwaukee and then a day trip to Buffalo Grove, Illinois.

AND there was all that final canning, food prep and oh yeah wood during it all. Is it a wonder that I didn't come down with this cold before this considering Natureman had it during the cruise?

Well I self inflicted a home stay since idleness has never been my forte and there were some thank you's still to write and card making to do.  I moved from the couch to the dining room table for the craft project and wasn't overexerting myself that's for sure. The meds allowed me to be productive in a 'slow' way.

The card stock color choices certainly made the task more fun and some cards even have matting.  Have you noticed lately how much Hallmark is charging for their cheapest cards? I will have a lifetime supply of cards for every occasion.

Don't you think the Chihuly Glass Collection really popped with the neons?

Anyhow after 4 days of being homebound I was ready to go to town.  I knew if stayed in the End of the Rainbow Valley one day longer I would soon look like I had truly gone to seed...

Whew, I think I made it out in the nick of time and I feel almost human again...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Charming Cedarburg

Fall brings more than falling leaves to Wisconsin as artists hold autumnal art fairs to display their wares across the state. Fortunately I was able to be in the Cedarburg area to enjoy about half of the 40 some odd wonderful area artisans in their studios, galleries/ architectural interesting spaces from old mills to charming historic buildings whether they be farmhouses/coops / local businesses. The drizzly weather couldn't keep away the shoppers.

Recently opened was the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. Their upcoming show will be  Japanese quilts, hosted by only 3 U.S.  cities, Cedarburg being one of them.

The building that houses the museum is a gem in itself. What a beautiful space.

 Oktoberfest  was also taking place downtown and there were  German outfits, music and a bier tent of course.  And if one wasn't in the mood for German food,  the best confectionary, Amy's, is just a half a block away filled with candy and caramel apples . BTW they ship...
We opted for the Apple Awareness dipped in caramel with Milk Belgian Chocolate. Besides being yummy a percentage of its cost goes to Breast Cancer Awareness.
Apples for Breast Cancer Awareness

The fire dept. was even open for kids to see the engines and the water truck shooting into the River.

Some artist's studios are located next to the river. Cool work places.

But the absolute best part of the artist drive besides having the day with Cousin Michi was seeing the last covered bridge in the state. Isn't it a beauty? It's no wonder that many weddings are photographed here. The sun finally came out ending a wonderful day of enjoying beautiful art whether it was crafted today/ in years gone by.

Super Cool

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Kid on the Block

Living in the End of the Rainbow Valley does have 'unforeseen' advantages and the best of these are  'unsolicited'  plants. In real estate they say the most important thing is location, location, location.
 So if a zone 4 plant needs sun, shade/ partial sun we have all those options and we have the space regardless of its size inside or out.

I've mentioned the birds before as they sloppily drop the sunflower seed without a planting plan.  Those random sunflowers are always a surprise as to where they come up as are those seeds they drop in other ways.

(I never planted the wild blackberries in front garden bed.) Sometimes I let things grow and decide if I like where they are. If not, they can always be moved/ given away.

AND even if a plant is in my face inside doesn't mean that it will survive. I had a Valentine's gift plant from Natureman that I had given up on.  Two measly leaves were left and I was ready to toss.    Natureman starting watering it and it is has made a miraculous comeback.  Not only new leaves are coming but it's been blooming. What can I say? Oh yeah, watering is important. Not too much and not too little. But all plants need water.

So what I am saying there are no guarantees if you leave a plant with me as to its survival but it's  
chances are improved with Natureman around. If you are ready to get rid of plants whether it's due to their size /location/ whatever reason they need a new home, we will take them.  How can I say no?

And this explains why we have a new 'kid' on the block,  A Japanese Maple, the fringed leaf variety that came all the way from Onalaska since it needed to move out of its pot and become rooted.  Actually a rabbit/ some critter had been working on its trunk base even with it in a pot.  Anyhow it's meant to be an understory small tree so it's been planted under the front bed's pine with hopes that it will thrive.  The odds are working against us as Japanese Maples are zone 5. Hopefully it's sheltered somewhat by the house and its lead will not be nipped by winter.  Sometimes Mother Nature just takes over. But we will do our best to get her through Winter.

Remember to water your trees well because the roots need that
nourishment before winter sets in and its coming whether we want it to or not.

Welcome to the End of the Rainbow Valley Fringy. May you have a long life here...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Stranger than Fiction/ Imagination Working Overtime?

Sometimes if you look carefully life presents some interesting sights/ maybe one's brain is working overtime. You can tell me if that's the case/ I need to just get out more often.

OK as we were departing the End of the Rainbow Valley, there upon the hillside were our neighbors's miniature horses and donkeys all gathered at the flagpole.  I had to wonder if they do this every morning to start their day just like we used to gather as kids at the flag pole having a flag ceremony/
pledging allegiance.

And if you spotted a trailer with a humongous pumpkin parked by storage units, would you wonder if the owners just took it out of storage/ maybe storing it for next year?

Would you worry if your garden produce
 reminds you of people ?

I had watched  the Ellen show the other day when she had Miley Cyrus as a guest who has this thing about sticking out her tongue. The next day one of our peppers looked just like Miley Cyrus. Go figure.

And then among the last of the picked tomatoes there were these conjoined tomatoes just like Siamese twins, right?

Perhaps I am  seeing more than I really should be  but I swear when I looked in the mirror the other day my reflection showed some sagging and looked really weathered like...  Never mind.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hungry for Color?

The air has been cooler with a prediction of snow  so perhaps Friday would be our last convertible ride to view the Coulee's fall colors.

We looked like we were dressed for the Siberian winter but hey, the hood was down to catch those fall hillsides.

Dinner would have to be something hardy to take the chill off the bones. And so 'Chicken Paprikash' came to be on the dinner menu.

For those of you who have never made it, it's really not difficult. If these pics look like more than the indicated ingredients, it's because I doubled the recipe confident this would be a winner which it was.

* If you keep Kosher you can use cornstarch like I did as a thickening agent vs adding sour cream at the end.

Here's a list of what you'll need:

12 pieces chicken legs and thighs (w/wo skin)
2 t paprika (Hungarian paprika is best)
2 red bell peppers, seeded
2 tomatoes
1 t chicken consomme powder
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 1/2 T olive oil
2 onions peeled and sliced
1/4 c fresh chopped parsley, divided
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 T cornstarch (or sour cream)

Easy as 1,2, 3....

Sprinkle  chicken generously with paprika, salt and pepper (if using kosher chicken, salt lightly).

Place bell peppers, tomatoes, chicken consomme powder and garlic into blender. Blend.

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium. Saute onion.

Once onions have started to caramelize, add seasoned chicken to pan. Saute for a few minutes.
Pour  blended sauce over top of chicken pieces. If needed, add water till the sauce just covers the chicken.

Sprinkle with 3 T parsley, salt and pepper to taste (1 1/4 t of each).
Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low simmer. Cover pan/pot, venting slightly.

Cook chicken about 1 hour or to desired tenderness. The longer it simmers, the more tender it becomes.
When the chicken is finished cooking, adjust salt and pepper.

Mix 2 T cornstarch with 3 T cold water. Gently stir into the chicken sauce and simmer for a minute or two to thicken.

Serve on top of spaetzle/ rice/ potatoes/ if you are like me and have leftover quinoa from a previous meal, use that. 

It hit the spot to warm us in the End of the Rainbow Valley.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Does anyone ever want to see a home they once lived in changed?  Rationally one knows that individual's tastes differ but it's still hard to swallow when a new owner changes the outside appearance of the place you once called home. I found that out this past week on my most recent trip back to Milwaukee.

Whenever I find myself in Bayside / Fox Point, I drive by my past homes to not only see the place but also to check if I can find any of my old neighbors at home. Well I didn't find any neighbors and what I discovered was both homes had a new look. The Pellham Parkway house was now white. White? Seriously, white?

And since I was already on Lake Drive I took a ride down Beach Drive to see the 'Lodge' as we called it across from the Witch's House. What a shock to discover that all the beautiful huge evergreens had all been removed. I could understand wanting the lake view on the one side but that thing called 'privacy' was gone street side.  Those removed trees had to have been at least 50 years old.

I do understand removing  the old pool cement decking that I had used as seating around the gardens I had worked so hard to create...But all gone. Hundreds of work hours and dollars. Poof. Like I was never there.

The wood siding either had been stripped/replaced?

Siding used to be color of railing on porch/garage door.
Yep everybody needs to put  their own mark on their home... but now these are just someone else's houses. One day I'll return to the End of the Rainbow Valley and the same thing probably will have occurred but until then it's nice to come 'home' and have everything looking the same...

Home Sweet Home

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yikes! Snow Predicted...

What's better on a brisk overcast rainy day than a hardy soup? How 'bout some lentil soup? We don't grow the lentil beans but the other ingredients did come out of our garden; tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic and chard. It did hit the spot once those lentils softened a bit.

Last week in came lots of squash with the largest acorn squash I have ever seen. The spaghetti squash seemed to germinate this year so it's a good thing we made all that spaghetti sauce.

                                                                    And gorgeous green peppers...

I foresee stuffed green peppers tonight for dinner.

There's also talk of that 4 letter word - SNOW this weekend so all the remaining veggies needed to be harvested. So in came eggplant which we had some for dinner and I 'll have to figure out what to do with the remainder.

Cabbage was also harvested. It will keep in the cool garage with the squash, onions and potatoes. My job this weekend will be to make sweet and sour purple cabbage and cabbage rolls. Natureman experimented making a huge bucket of kim chee. I don't know who all is going to eat it but if you're interested come by in about 2 weeks...

If you have any recipes that you'd like to share, don't be shy, send them our way. Variety is the spice of life and in the End of the Rainbow Valley there's one guarantee as my waistline will surely attest, there is always food ...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

You Want Rice?

 If you can't get to overseas to Asia and you have an inkling for Asian food then the next best thing to do is to head to a city that has a significant Asian population and you will have your  gastronomic desires satisfied. Seattle's International District is one such place. And it's more than China town as a myriad of asian groups are represented here.

West meets the East in this coastal city and you know you've arrived to the city's asian section by the Street and store front signs, architecture, the people and yes the scents of asian cooking.

One of my favorite stops was the large Uwajimaya grocery store where the  specials were Korean foods as shown by the store's weekly flyer. And within the store were various eateries so my mouth was already watering for the Korean Bool Golgi, a thinly sliced soy marinated beef and a side of Kim Chee, a spicy pickled cabbage. My friend Nancy didn't have to bend my arm to avoid heading back home during rush hour traffic.

Remember me reiterating that  every day brings new knowledge?

Well today was no exception as  in the Uwajimaya grocery store we ended up in the sea food section and were introduced to the Geoduck pronounced gooey duck.

 Yep, that's it, the thing in the water.

If you think it looks like a giant sexual organ you might have an indication that this expensive seafood delicacy is supposed to give special sexual virility. I'm just repeating what I was told and NO, we didn't not buy their last one.

Nothing could outdo that new experience but we continued our journey walking both main and side streets, stopping to purchase bok choy seeds and candied ginger in a tiny jam packed Asian food market. The dried fish and spices were oh so familiar as was the sight of seeing men huddled around a small table playing mah jongg.

These all brought back memories of when I as a college student living in Taiwan many moons ago...

Thanks to our terrific city guide for another wonderful day in Seattle...