Thursday, December 16, 2010

On the sixth day of Christmas...

many a board games we will play! Tonight my mom's family will get together at the farm, which I know is a lot of stress on my mom to get the house decorated, clean, food prepared, etc., but being at the farm reminds me of being little. So I digress, we like to play games, primarily one, Cranium...for those of you who haven't played Cranium this game is well fun because everyone has a category that they can be good at (even if they won't admit it). It is a family tradition at this point and a lot of fun...if you are looking for a great family game, check it out.

On the fifth day of Christmas...

a good place for wine and spirits is important...5 GOLDEN DRINKS! Have you been to RedX? If you haven't and have a holiday party to prepare for that will include adult beverages it is a great place to get unique and interesting beers and wines...and they are cheaper there than I have seen them anywhere in KC. I took my mom there last weekend and we had a blast going through the aisles. Take a drive up to Riverside and buy some holiday cheer!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On the third day of Christmas...

my oven is hot as can be, with awesome stencils to decorate I'm so happy I can hardly see?!
So these stencils are the bomb and were given to me as a gift from a friend...there are 4 to a pack and the came from Williams Sonoma, but I'm sure they have them other places. I decorated with sugar on Christmas Sugar cookies last weekend but plan to do some cupcakes soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

On the fourth day of Christmas...

like a pretty red ribbon, gone a curling are we. Curling, yeah like the Olympic event, yep you can do it in KC. Crazy right? Nope just another day at SFP bet you wish you worked here too! So yesterday the entire office bundled up and headed over to the Pepsi Ice Center (135th and Quivera) and got a curling lesson from our very own Steve Pickle, our resident curling expert. It was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about the sport and also that there is a Curling Club in our very own KC. Check out their website: http://www.kccurling.com/ There are leagues and everything, this could be a great Christmas present for someone who loves the ice and learning new things.

On the second day of Christmas...

the onery elf came out in me, I've had shared a funny holiday website for all to see. Check it out... http://www.faceinhole.com/, it is like ElfYourself with multiple poses...FaceYourself, FaceYourfriends, FacePeopleYouDon'tLike...have a ball!

On the first day of Christmas...

the grinch did by-pass me, but a box of Christopher Elbow Chocolates were found under my tree. Ok so if you don't know what Christopher Elbow is, then please familarize yourself now: http://www.elbowchocolates.com/shop_online/chocolates. Now they might seem a little pricey, but what a great unique gift for a hard to buy person and they are beautiful and delish! This picture isn't very good because I was so excited to break into mine but you can see in real life they are just as good as on the interwebs.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rockettes and Opryland Hotel

I like a good dog and pony show, but when I went to the Rockette's on Saturday night with Jennie Schutte and Sara Thieding, I NEVER expected it to be a sheep and camel show. I had it in my head that all we were going to see was pretty girls in fancy outfits doing the famous kick lines you see on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it was so much more. I would venture a guess that there were 100 performers in the show that included singers, dancers, ballerinas, dancing costumed characters (spoofing or paying honor to The Nutcracker), dancing flowers, Santa and Mrs. Clause and elves. The Rockette's were amazing with a combination of drill team moves, precision, tap dancing, musical playing and of course the famous kick line. The finale was very special and honored what Christmas is really about, the birth of Christ. They brought the story of Jesus' birth to life on stage and concluded with a living nativity complete with live sheep, camels and a donkey, shepherds, kings and their people. It was pretty spectacular, not to mention that I watched it all in the Grand Ole Opry building that just oozes tradition and history every time I enter the doors. After the Rockette's we took a walk through the Opryland hotel to see the upgrades and changes since the flood. Honestly we didn't see a lot of difference from a year ago except changing the names of some of the restaurants, updating the restaurants and a few less plants in the flowerbeds. There are approximately 15,000 poinsettias in the hotel varying in size, color and location with two giant trees made of poinsettia stacks that are spectacular. If your plans are to be in and around the Nashville area this holiday season I highly recommend to take in the Rockette's show, or catch them as they travel to a city near you, and take a little time to walk through the Opryland hotel and see the amazing Christmas display of lights including the live-sized Nativity outside the north entrance and their ridiculously light covered trees.

Cattleman's Club - Pierre, SD

Earlier this week I took a nice blustery drive to Pierre, SD...not only was I able to get my South Dakota Capitol photo, but I got a recommendation from a friend that if you go to Pierre, you have to eat at Cattleman's. So I did a little research and learned that the story behind Cattleman's was pretty inspiring and proves that if you don't give up on your dreams you can achieve them. The story in their own words in on their website: http://www.cattlemansclubsteakhouse.com/story.html. Now this is a classic South Dakota Steakhouse, head east out of Pierre on HWY 34 you'll wind along the Missouri River and come across Cattleman's just a few miles out of town. On this particular night I quickly knew I was going to be at home with a gravel parking lot full of running diesel pick-ups, inside the front door was a sampling of great turquoise jewelry (nothing as unique as TheTravelingCowgirl's Designs however), sawdust on the floor of a modest restaurant filled with cowboy hats and farmers caps. The menu is simple, but the prime rib was not plain, it was juicy, tender and cooked to perfection with real horseradish on the side. Complete the meal with Texas Toast, baked potato and a house salad (that comes with the optional toppings of diced onions, tomatoes, green peppers and shredded cheddar cheese served tableside) for $15 a meal that you can't beat. Hope that you can enjoy The Cattleman's Club next time you are in central South Dakota, an experience you won't want to miss.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pineapple Shots

So on a recent girl’s trip to the lake, Angie came up with a wonderful idea she cut up fresh pineapple rings and soaked them in pineapple vodka. As if that doesn’t make them wonderful enough, she chilled them and before taking each ‘shot’ we rolled them in powdered sugar (the pineapple not ourselves, it wasn’t that kind of girl’s weekend) that was perfect…it took the bite out of the vodka (especially for those of us who don’t like vodka).
They were WONDERFUL.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Website of the Week - www.groupon.com

This week’s website may become your best friend. www.groupon.com provides a daily deal (or two…sometimes there is a side-deal) where you can purchase a discounted gift certificate. Often it is a two for one special, a $30 gift certificate for $15…but sometimes you can get a bigger discount of up to 75% at times. Recently I purchased $60 gift certificates for $30 to Plaza III Steakhouse and $10 worth of gelato for $5. In addition to restaurant gift certificates there are ice cream shops, spas, cleaning services, boutiques and nightclubs.
So this is how it works, you sign up at www.groupon.com to receive a daily email with the offer they are promoting in your area. If enough people click on the offer (it varies based on the company and the offer), then you will be the proud owner of a great gift certificate (or two if they let you buy more than one). Often there are side deals that will go along with the main offer, so be sure and look for them when they are there.

Guinness Chocolate Smores Cupcakes

So shower fare #3 starting an alcohol theme is a Guinness Chocolate Cupcake turned into a Smores Guinness Chocolate Cupcake. I started with a simple Guinness Chocolate Cupcake from the site Anna recommended, however the cake came out pretty dry and crumbly so I would recommend looking for another alternative or maybe cooking them a little less than recommended. http://mingmakescupcakes.yolasite.com/ Graham Cracker Crust: ½ cup ground graham cracker 2 T sugar 2-3 T melted butter Cupcake #16 – Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes: ½ c Guinness 1 stick butter 3 T brown sugar ½ c cocoa 1 c flour ¾ c sugar 1 tsp baking soda ¼ tsp salt 1 egg 1/3 c sour cream Simmer Guinness, butter, and brown sugar in saucepan until melted. Add cocoa and whisk until smooth. Remove from burner and cool slightly. Mix flour, sugar, soda and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix egg and sour cream. Add flour mixture and beat briefly. Pour into lined cupcake pan. Bake at 35- for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Topping: 24 large marshmallows – split in half Put 4 halves of marshmallows on top of each cupcake and using a kitchen torch (LOVE. MY. TORCH. can't you tell how excited I am?) brown the marshmallows to taste. We like ours on fire and good and black when they are done. Can be done in advance, but for a true smores feeling torch just before serving. An alternative to the Guinness Chocolate Cupcake is take a Devil’s Food box mix and add Guinness instead of water for a less complicated version, or leave the Guinness out all together and just use chocolate cake.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Coffee Choclate Cupcakes with Bailey's Irish Cream Frosting

Shower cupcake #2 was a Coffee Chocolate Cupcake with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting, straight off my favorite new website, http://mingmakescupcakes.yolasite.com/. This batter is very, very runny and don’t rise a lot but they are very moist and flavorful. They were a big hit with the group of coffee and Bailey’s lovers. For those of you who don't know what Bailey's is, it is an Irish Cream liquor...and if you ask Anna, Irish tastes like Ireland.
Cupcake #24 – Coffee Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey’s Irish Cream Frosting
Cupcakes: ½ tsp baking soda ¼ c buttermilk 3 heaping T cocoa 1 stick butter ½ cup coffee (I used instant because I don’t drink coffee, Starbucks has instant packets that are cheap and can be purchased anywhere) 1 c sugar 1 c flour ¼ tsp salt 1 egg ½ tsp vanilla In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in room-temperature buttermilk. In a saucepan melt butter and cocoa together at a low temperature. When smooth, add coffee. In a separate bowl, sift together sugar, flour and salt. Add cocoa mixture and egg and mix at low speed. Add buttermilk mixture and vanilla and beat until smooth. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Icing: 1 stick butter 4 cups confectioners’ sugar ¼ cup Baileys Irish Cream 1 tsp vanilla 1 T milk 2 T coffee Beat ingredients together until smooth. Spread on cupcakes.
I topped the cupcakes with chocolate covered espresso beans for pretty and flavor enhancement to the cupcake. They can be purchased at places like Starbucks, etc.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

AnnaBANANA Cupcakes

Even though I heard this week that cupcakes are one of the Top 10 ‘fads’ that will go out of popularity in the next 5 years, I’m still making them (even though so is everyone else), and the next few recipes (and the website I got them off of (thanks to Anna requesting them) is just amazing and inspiring. Cupcake #1 from Anna’s Bridal Shower this weekend was a cupcake I would only make for my favorite banana…Annabanana. See here is the thing, I hate bananas…the smell, the texture and the taste do not appeal to me at all but I made them anyway and they were wonderful.
I got this cupcake off of a site: http://mingmakescupcakes.yolasite.com/. There are 30+ cupcakes with wild combinations of yumminess, plus there is a picture of each cupcake. Wonderful!
Cupcake #6 - Banana Cupcakes with Maple Brown Butter Frosting a.k.a. AnnaBANANA Cupcakes
Cupcakes: 1 c mashed bananas 1 T lemon juice (I used fresh squeezed) 1 ½ cup flour 1 tsp baking soda ¼ tsp salt ¾ stick butter 1 c sugar 1 jumbo egg (I used large because that is what I buy and it turned out fine) 1 tsp vanilla ¾ c buttermilk
In a small bowl, combine bananas and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately while mixing. Beat in bananas and mix until well blended. Bake at 275 for one hour or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. After removing from oven, place in freezer for ½ hour.
Icing: 1 stick butter 3 c confectioner’s sugar ¼ c milk 3 T maple syrup
In a saucepan, melt butter at medium temperature until golden brown. In a bowl, add butter to sugar, then add milk and syrup. Beat until smooth.
Top each cupcake with icing (it will run down the sides of the cupcakes, so expect a mess), top with 3 banana slices and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Website of the Week - www.gotryiton.com

Website of the Week – www.gotryiton.com
So I’m starting a new part of my blog which is Website of the Week. We all have our favorite websites and most often we learn about other great websites from our friends and family, so I want to pass those on to everyone.
The first website is called www.gotryiton.com. This is a great site for those of you who may live alone (like me) and wonder what you look like in a specific outfit…or maybe cleaning out your closets and wondering if that outfit still is in-style or looks good on you, or if you have a big date, a class reunion, an interview, the possibilities are endless. This is not a total group of fashionistas (even though I am sure some of them are sitting in their downtown Manhattan apartments with a coffee table covered with Italian Vogues and thinking these people have no sense of style) it is everyday people, you can go on there and critique outfits right now.
How it works: 1) go to www.gotryiton.com and set up an account; 2) put on the outfit in question, including shoes, jewelry, etc. and take a picture of yourself (camera phone, via full-length mirror, camera on timer, webcam whatever you have) and upload it to www.gotryiton.com; 3) thicken your skin and wait for feedback, you will get an email each time you have comments on your outfit and will get a final email when the feedback is complete. I tried this service out as an experiment and will definitely use it again…first I put on what I thought was a cute black casual skirt and a t-shirt that I know was WAAAY too small with flip flops. The feedback I got was very interesting but very honest…”the shirt is too tight,” “maybe switch it out for a cute v-neck and long necklace;” “cute skirt, great length for your height but maybe put on a cute pair of heels instead of flip flops;” “don’t wear flip flops, they should only be reserved for the beach” and the list went on and on, 15 comments in all in 5 hours.
You must have thick skin to use this service, people are brutal but you are asking for their opinion and that is what they are giving everything is objective. Give yourself some time, upload the picture a day or two before you need to wear the outfit so you have time to get feedback and change out your outfit if need be. I will use it again and again, especially for special occasions. One last tip…if you don’t want people to see your face or identify you then do what I do…crop your face out or put a black oval over your face so you are completely incognito.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lucious Lemon Cookies

So something I have been wanting to try for a very long time...and that is Cake Mix Cookies. I've always heard it can be done so I looked on the trusty internet (god bless Al Gore) and found a plethera of recipes. I picked the most common one and went with it and created a super yummy cookie. I'm sure that I will make this same cookie with a variety of cake mix flavors and toppings, but this one is perfect for summer. Lucious Lemon Cookies 1 box lemon cake mix 2 eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Comine all ingredients above, the mixture will be very thick! Spoon onto a baking stone or baking sheet sprayed with Pam for Baking. Bake for 10-14 minutes, mine baked for 12 minutes exactly on both the stone and the baking sheet. Remove from baking vessel quickly after removing from the oven and let cool on cooling wrack. Cookies will be very, very soft. Once completely cool, frost with a can of Lemon (or any flavor you pick) frosting and top with your favorite topping or sprinkles. I used lemon zest, gold sugar sprinkles and pink and white candied hearts (yeah don't ask, I found them in my baking cabinent). Personally I love the gold sugar sprinkles! Here is a pic of all the options I had tonight...counter clockwise...no decoration, lemon zest, pink and white hearts and gold sugar sprinkles.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Huckleberry's Hideout - Broken Bow, NE

So every summer it is tradition for the Tobin and Acklin Roping crew to go to Broken Bow, NE for the USTRC (United States Team Roping Championship, for my non-roping friends, it is an organization for team ropers). We go there for a number of reasons: 1) it is usually a great roping put on by CS Cattle and crew (can’t forget the crew because they are the feet on the street), 2) they run two arenas, everyone ropes their first steer in the first arena and then you rope your second and third in the second arena which really speeds everything up throughout the day, 3) we stay in a motel that is also a gas station, Pump and Pantry, that has actual keys to put in the doors (and when you come home drunk and leave the key in your door overnight no one enters your room and it is still safely there waiting on you in the morning...or so I hear) and 4) Huckleberry’s Hideout, a great restaurant/bar owned by wonderful people. Huckleberry’s Hideout is owned and operated by Jeremy and his wife. They started another restaurant in town and have since sold it and moved on to Huckleberry’s. Huckleberry’s is in an old school house or an Elks lodge type place. Very rustic furnishing, varnished wood tables and bench seats or metal topped tables and basic chairs with décor that is cowboy and rural America appropriate. On Friday night of this particular trip we got in a little late, but stopped by for a drink….or many, it just so happened that some of our Missouri/Kansas buddies were there and there was karaoke (yes that is a picture of my dad and I singing Karaoke)and keno so we entertained ourselves until we heard the phrase last call. Saturday night was a little different, after we spent a long day at the arena we were hungry, hungry people so we loaded up with our crew and met Monica and Roy Pankau to enjoy a great dinner. Lucky for us, and the rest of the patrons, Jeremy put us in a back private room because our party continued to grow throughout the night. Dinner that night was pretty amazing…blackened ribeye steaks, baked potatoes (or sweet potato for mom or rice for Teri), garlic bread and garden salad…it was one of the best ribeyes that I have had in a long time, seasoned to perfection. So if you are ever in Broken Bow, looking for something to do, a place to eat, drink and be merry…check out Huckleberry’s Hideout, it will be well worth your time. Oh and here is some roping video to round out the weekend, Barry Boos and I ended up 4th in the #8...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Faux Burgundy Mushrooms

As part of a group dinner with friends last night I made Faux Burgundy Mushrooms to accompany wonderful corn-fed steaks, grilled asparagus and goat cheese mashed potatoes (recipe to come later this week). They are faux because they are made with Pinot Noir instead of Burgundy wine. I thought they were super yummy, rich and meaty. Faux Burgundy Mushrooms 1 stick of butter ½ white onion chopped 2 – 8 oz containers white button mushrooms 1 – 8 oz container baby portabella mushrooms (whole) 1 bottle pinot noir (or you can use burgundy if you like to spend a lot of money but then you wouldn’t have to call it Faux) 1 can beef broth Beef bouillon (2 cubes or 1 tsp paste) 2 cloves of garlic minced 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce In a large stock pot on medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the onion, cook until starting to turn translucent. Add the mushrooms tossing to coat in butter and let cook down for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are starting to soften (toss gently so you don’t break the mushrooms, you want them to look pretty and whole when you serve them). Add all remaining ingredients, less one glass of wine you’ll want to pour that in a glass and drink it while you are waiting for all this to cook down, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Let the pot boil for 15 minutes and turn to a simmer for 2.5 hours. Remove lid and continue to cook allowing the liquid to absorb and evaporate for 1 to 2 hours depending on how much time you have or how much liquid is left. Before serving if your pot has too much liquid you can combine a teaspoon of corn starch with a teaspoon of liquid from the pot in a small dish and add it to the pot to thicken up the liquid/sauce. Serve immediately with your favorite hearty meat and simple vegetable sides.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Captain's Blue Balls

I have many cookbooks, especially cupcake books, but I also like entertaining books (not that I get to entertain much in my dinky apartment, but they are good for ideas for other things). Anyway, one of my favorite books I’ve purchased in the last two years was “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence” by Amy Sedaris, if you haven’t seen it you need to check it out. She is out of control, this book is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach considering some of her recipes are a little old fashioned and combine crazy ingredients that don’t look appealing.
One of those recipes that jumped out at me that I recently made for an event was Captain’s Mouthwatering Bite-Size Blue Ball Cheese Balls. These were easy to make, can be made ahead, rich and decadent, especially when topped on a Ritz cracker or your favorite cracker. WARNING, YOU MUST LIKE BLUE CHEESE...I think that the recipe name would indicate that but it is always important to put warnings like this in blogs.
Captain’s Mouthwatering Bite-Size Blue Ball Cheese Balls
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 4 oz cream cheese 2 oz crumbled blue cheese 2 tbs butter 1 tbs chopped green onions ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce 1 tbs white wine or milk (I used milk) ¼ cup chopped walnuts
Bring all cheeses to room temperature. Beat with mixer. Add butter, onion (optional), Worchestershire sauce and milk or wine, continue beating. Chill overnight. Shape mixture into tumor-size balls. Roll in chopped nuts. Let stand 15 minutes. Spread on a Ritz or other cracker.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

PW Creme Brulee

I love the Pioneer Woman, she is just great…if you don’t know who I’m talking about 1) what rock are you living under, 2) because of her I got to use a torch and 3) you need to check her out: http://thepioneerwoman.com/. She is a city girl who fell in love with a rancher and found herself on a cattle ranch in the middle of rural Oklahoma, she started out as a food blogger and now has an empire (including a Cookbook) and gives away cool stuff often through her cooking blog. So back to the Cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, is awesome…and amazing and I encourage everyone to get it and read it immediately because it is entertaining and wonderful and the food is very tasty. The section that this recipe came from was Cowgirl Food so naturally I would find a common ground with it, however I am not a Crème Brulee person but a good friend of mine who had a very special birthday recently is so I tried my luck and thankfully she didn’t let me down it was a complete hit! The recipe isn’t on her website so I’ve added it below. I will say that my ramekins must be very small because it says it makes 6 servings but mine produced more like 15…so judge accordingly. PW Crème Brulee 1 qt heavy cream 1 vanilla bean, split or 1 tsp pure vanilla 10 egg yolks ¾ cup plus 6 tbs superfine sugar (I just used regular sugar and had no problems) 1. Preheat oven to 325 2. First, pour the cream into a saucepan over med-low heat. Add the vanilla. Bring almost to a boil, then turn off the heat. 3. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and add the ¾ cup sugar. With a whisk, mix the eggs and sugar together. Now, break out your elbow grease and take a deep breath. You’re going to need to whisk the mixture like crazy for a good 3 to 4 minutes, until it’s very light yellow in color. 4. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Pour the hot cream into the bowl through the strainer. This will filter out the tiny bits of vanilla bean. (Note: I used pure vanilla and skipped this step) 5. To temper the egg mixture, very slowly drizzle 1 cup of the hot cream into the egg/sugar mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously to prevent the eggs from cooking. Continue adding the rest of the hot cream to the bowl very slowly, whisking constantly. You can add the cream a little more rapidly as the mixture warms. 6. Place 6 ramekins on a rimmed bakins sheet and ladle in the custard until the ramekins are ¾ full. Place the pan inside the oven, then pour water into the baking sheet until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. 7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the custard is set but not brown. (Note: since my ramekins were smaller mine only cooked for 30 minutes so watch them closely) Watch carefully to avoid browning! 8. Remove the ramekins from the pan and allow to cool. Refrigerate the custards, covered, for at least 2 hours or overnight. 9. When you are ready to serve dessert, sprinkle the top of each custard generously with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Use a kitchen torch to burn the sugar to a crisp, working quickly to avoid cooking the custard below. Serve immediately!

Here is what mine looked like fresh out of the oven…soooo pretty!

LOVE HER!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mexican Pig

So tonight while I was determining what to have for dinner (even though it was going to be pork or chicken because that is what was in my fridge) I was talking to Christy and I mentioned that I bought a lot of pork yesterday, she said that her son had some pig last night...yes he eats it if you call it cow or pig...I LOVE THIS KID. So indirectly Jasper inspired my meal tonight. For someone who makes a lot of quesadilla's at home (they are easy and quick) this was a great alternative from cheese only or ground beef (and you all know how much I love my beef). I don't eat a lot of spicy things, but I would recommend using the pork just like you do beef as far as peppers and spices, I think that the pork would hold up a chipolte or adobo sauce really well. This is also a great way to use fresh ingredients this summer with the salad. Ground Pork Quesadilla Quesadilla ½ Pound Ground Pork 1 tsp taco seasoning 2 TBS water ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 whole wheat tortillas Avocado Salad 1 avocado chopped 1 Roma tomato chopped 1 tsp lime juice Cilantro to taste Combine all ingredients for avocado salad and let sit. Brown pork and combine taco seasoning, water and pork in a sauce pan, let simmer for 5 minutes or until water is absorbed. Assemble quesadilla with cheese, pork mixture and tortillas. Slice in 6 pieces and top with avocado salad. Alt: Use dried chipotle peppers or any other peppers instead of taco seasoning for a smoky or more spicy flavor.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cruisin for a Cause

For the last 8 years on one Saturday morning in June the roads around Derr Equipment in Savannah and surrounding communities are alive with what once was…tractors of all kinds, and sizes, varying in levels of upkeep or restoration along with drivers of all generations fill the roads for the Show-Me Tractor Cruise. Sounds pretty cool huh? Well it is, especially for this farm girl who was raised driving an International 560, the first tractor my dad purchased as a teenager that is currently in pieces on the shop floor preparing to be restored over the fall and winter, and who has a brother who was given an Farmall H, that was fully restored by our late Grandpa (Warner), that we have used on the farm repeatedly...it is neat to see all the tractors that have been cared for so delicately and repaired and restored to perfect original condition or those that have come straight from the field after a hard working spring planting and haying season. The stories those tractors could tell of the times they have seen and the work they have been through…but the real story is not that farmers, tractor enthusiasts and those that love the country lifestyle from 13 states gather on a Saturday morning in June to drive their tractors on a 50 mile cruise, the real story is why they do it and why the tractor cruise exists.

The Show-Me Tractor Cruise raises money for Camp Quality. The motto of the ride, A Few Miles for Many Smiles, is very true when it comes to the money raised for Camp Quality. Camp Quality is a camp for kids diagnosed with cancer to have a true camp experience with the comforts and care needed for children with cancer but allowing them to be kids and be with other kids. Here is the website for Camp Quality if you are not familiar with what they do or want to know how you can help. http://www.campqualitynwmo.org/Home/tabid/989/Default.aspx This is my first year truly involved in the cruise. My Grandpa Kennie (Acklin) participated in the cruise a couple times before he passed away. Even though he shouldn’t have been in the heat and the drive itself wore him out he still did it and loved it. My dad also loves to go down and walk through the tractors just like a little kid…he won’t want to drive through the cruise next year but once the 560 is restored I’m sure he will want to show it off down there! When asked by Tom Brand this year if SFP was interested in supporting the cruise it was a no-brainer for me and I’m so happy I work for a company who is willing to let me support causes such as this that mean something to me and those who are receiving the support.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday Night - Boise Airport

So to everyone who was at the Boise airport at 11:11 last night just a few parting comments. 1. Read the post I did about a year ago, do not, I repeat DO NOT (how can I scream this) stand directly along the carousel belt for luggage...seriously no one can see their bags and when their 48 pound pink bag comes around move your ass or I am going to knock you over getting it off the belt because...well I want to. 2. Hey you two, wearing your matching his and hers recently purchased from Mexico dipstick looking straw hats...you look like idiots, you don't even have a tan and it is 58 degrees out side and pitch black...get a grip, you're in Idaho. 3. To all the young girls who came on the plane from Boise with us from Vegas, I'm sorry that they didn't accept your application to work at the Bunny Ranch...no even YOU weren't trashy enough to work there, so put some freakin clothes on...because honestly you look ridiculous. That's all. Have a wondermous week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not So Typical Farm Family

You can watch the news, look on YouTube and internet posts, possibly even open some of the most prestigious print publications in the world to learn all about how farmers live, the things they do, don’t do, how they treat their animals, what they put on their crops that can be damaging to the environment and your food, thankfully not all of us believes everything we hear or see…but this is my first hand perspective of what a not-so-typical Sunday night in June looks like with an once upon a time average, but now maybe not so farm family in the heartland. Defining an average farmer to me is virtually impossible these days so I won’t do that and I won’t classify my family into that...our differences lie in that my parents live in the house that my maternal great-grandfather build and my grandfather and grandmother added on to throughout the time they raised their three daughters…my dad farms land not only of his and my mom’s (some of which was once part of my paternal great uncle’s farm), but also my maternal grandmother’s and paternal grandmother’s…my brother and his wife got educations and moved back home to work and live both on and off the farm…I spend weeks, weekends, holidays and vacations working here not because I have to but because I want to…our cattle are worked by horseback… Here is a brief look into our no-so-typical Sunday night… The horses, quite an array…Dillon – dad’s veteran heeling horse, Colonel – dad’s young horse who is my steed for the week while we work cattle, Stitch – dad’s heading/heeling horse combo, Jessie – dad’s young buckskin mare who will probably be for sale soon (because as you can see the trend dad has a lot of horses but only one but to ride them with), Diablo – my young bay horse that hopefully we get to mess with this week some more. The cows, 80 head of two and three year old cows with calves across the road so we could remove Cidrs and apply K-mars on Monday and breed them all on Wednesday and Thursday. Dad pulling the 460 through the barn lot after working the arena and Buford circle up so April could work with a barrel horse, Adam could work with a young horse and I could practice heeling. The 460 was my Great Uncle Wayne's and dad bought it and had it fixed back up. Mom mowing the yard, I swear her mower is bigger and bigger every few years…but this one is supposed to have air ride, all I know is she hauls across the yard which is a huge time savings for her.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wet Pant Legs

I HATE wet pant legs…I will happily be the girl who looks like a total DORK with my pant legs rolled up or tucked into my boots so I don’t have wet pant legs when I get to work or wherever I am going. Now I am not a prissy, girlie person (well most of the time, I do like bling, but I don’t think that makes me girlie) but I just can’t stand walking around all day with the bottom of my pantlegs wet and cold. I have realized in the short period of time that I was in England that wet pant legs don’t bother Englishmen. Case-in-point, I was in Cambridge for a total of 4 days and every day it rained…that created lots of water puddling around town, on sidewalks, in streets, etc. And as I was walking through the town one morning trying to get some local culture people would walk straight through a puddle of 2 inch deep water getting their shoes and pantlegs soaking wet, I on the other hand would walk 4 feet around a puddle. Now, am I really that strange? Doesn’t everyone want dry pant legs? So I started this post when I was in England but because of internet connections I was unable to post it…then I get home and well it rained and I go to the farm and it doesn’t rain (which never happens because when I am at home it ALWAYS rains when I want to plan to play outside) but alas I go to Sidney to the USTRC and it rains, so I became the prissy cowgirl for the day with my pantlegs tucked into my boots. But the bright side and good news to this post last night at the farm it rained, so as I was preparing to go outside to help dad and April work cows all day, I tucked in my pantlegs into my Mucks and looked just like everyone else because dad and April were just like that too. So today, I wasn’t the outsider and for once was like everyone else…well at least my pant legs were, the rest of me is still questionable.

Oh and here are a couple of shots from my little walk around Cambridge.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twilight = Beef

I am finally getting around to reading the Twilight books, well I say reading, I plan to start reading while I am on my overseas trip this week. I wasn’t against reading the books, but they are big and require a lot of time to get through them and I just didn’t feel like I had that kind of time on my hands and I know that if I get into it I will lose a lot of sleep trying to get through the books. THEN I watched the movies Twilight and New Moon with the girls in Florida in April and decided that I needed to read the books. But the reason this gets very intertwined is because during my packing today (yes headed back across the pond) I was putting my Twilight book in my bag and remembered an article that warewolf hottie Taylor Lautner promoted the fact that he got buff (and we might as well include hot in there too) by eating lean beef during his training and then it hit me, I’m not going to have access to corn finished beef for 5 days because all beef in the UK is still grass finished…so I craved a burger and had to stop by 5 Guys on my way to the airport. Now I know that is a difficult way to get around to this and the point of this blog is going to be very disjointed…but interesting:
Twilight - Taylor Lautner – beef – UK grass finished beef – 5 Guys Burgers and Fries
Twilight Yummy Vampires….bring on my 7.5 hour flight to London!!
Taylor Lautner The blog that I follow and posted the mention of Taylor Lautner telling Oprah (bet she was annoyed by the fact that he said that) that he ate a ton of beef patties is: http://blog.beefmagazine.com/beef_daily/2010/05/18/twilight-star-taylor-lautner-shapes-up-for-movie-with-beef/
Beef Really, what do I need to say here? Beef is good, good for you and the people who raise beef are
good people (especially those in NWMO).
UK Grass Finished Beef I will support the UK beef industry this week and have grass fed beef at least once while I’m in the UK.
5 Guys Burgers and Fries If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you need to visit a 5 Guys soon…basic burgers (but they can get very complex with all the fixings) and hand cut fries (plus they even tell you where and what farm the potatoes come from that day, pretty cool). The only thing I want everyone to be aware of is that a regular burger is double patties and they are big and filling. I suggest you order a small burger (unless you are really hungry) and order a big fry to share with 2-3 people because it is a lot of food. There are a couple in KC that I know of, one at Tiffany Springs and one just south of 119th and Metcalf in Overland Park. http://www.fiveguys.com/index.aspx

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

String Me Up

Ok, well maybe not me, but I have had a little time to play in my jewelry making bag (just a little time so please don't expect anything crazy from me) and I have copied some creations I have seen recently in magazines and catalogs. I'm working on some more pieces and hope to have a pile of them for sale soon, but it is really hard to part with the ones that I like (or that mom likes) so we might make a couple multiples but there will be no two alike because honestly I can't remember how to make the the same twice.
Pink chunk turquoise, silver, crystal and pink turquoise spacers. Turquoise chunk rocks, large crystals and silver beads.
Large chunk turquoise, crystals and silver beads.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

England - Day 3

Yesterday morning I woke up in a fairy tale…yes in a castle with the sun streaming through the windows and a blaring headache from the wine I drank the night before. We stayed at Swinton Park in North Yorkshire, it was a lovely... but HUGE. We know how big it is because our Sat Nav (GPS) took us all the way around the estate's giant stone wall that I am sure it took someone their entire life to create and we saw the fattest phesants that I have ever seen in my life...I mean like small dogs. Anyway back to the estate...the dining room was very 'chefy' (which was a comment from one of our hosts, Anne, not me but fit the entire place to a tea - ha! tea...tee) and very quiet. I think this is the type of place you go to with people you don't like because you don't talk to them the entire time you are there, so you can imagine, was difficult for me! There were some courses that took all three of us to decide what some of the items on the plate were and I'm not certain how Halibut goes with oxtail, but they paired it together and Jake said that it was lovely...but I think he was full of it. I also don't know how you combine a goat cheese mouse with a bitter herb gel (really, does an herb need to be a gel?) and then a tomato foam (foaming tomatoes, maybe they were rabid?), but again they did...first bite not bad and then it went down hill from there. Honestly I thought I was part of a Top Chef Masters quick fire challenge and no one told me...the overall theme of the night was 'in the dining room, with a candlestick.' As we were leaving this lovely estate, which I must say had a pretty remarkable Egg's Benedict, I realize for the second night I had been sleeping in a room where fake deer were outside the front door of the hotel or uh castle. So now I am obsessed with taking pictures, but alas last night no deer out front, not sure how I'll make it through the day.
Today is our last full day in the UK, I've enjoyed my stay but pretty excited to get to a menu where I am excited to order something off of it and can eat a giant salad.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Scotland/England - Day 2

We have crossed from Scotland to England for Day 2 of our 5 day trip to the UK...I am much more refreshed today and hope to continue that trend throughout the week. I wanted to leave Scotland with some learnings that I have picked up along the way...here is my top 5 tribute to Scotland. Scotland Top 5:
  1. When the Dutch give you a gift of a bridge, decline the offer it was made from Lego's.
  2. When you are dining at a pub in a town by the sea eat something from it, the sea that is not the town.
  3. May 4, 2010 is known as Star Wars Day…MAY the FOURce be with you, they really like their movies and movie stars (Ewan McGreggor is a god here)...this is the castle that was where the 'real' Braveheart happened just south of Dublane.
  4. There are a lot of Scottish Sheep Farmer jokes, most would make my rodeo friends (who are just half a step down from sailors) blush
  5. The Scots are finally figuring it out…a way to grow maize (corn) under plastic so they can finish their beef the right way, on corn not on grass. There is a constant debate between my Scotish counterparts and myself on which is better...I'm the winner of the debate but they say they are right. But honestly, due to the cold soil temperatures growing maize is difficult for them, so they plant the maize under plastic to create a terrarium effect and increase overall maize production...to lay plastic is about 100 pounds per acre!

We are staying at a wonderful old 'castle' tonight...I'm in the sitting room sure that these old people in the painting surrounding me are rolling over in their graves at the fact that I am blogging on WIFI from their home. Cheers!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Scotland - Day 1

Well the trip over to Scotland was relatively uneventful...thankfully we made it in this morning since as of a few hours ago they have shut down the airspace over Ireland because a change in the wind and the volcanic ash is drifting over Dublin.
After we flew into Edinburg we were graciously picked up by one of our hosts and on our way to the Scotish countryside which is pretty breathtaking.
Our host and guide also shared a Scotish joke that I thought was too good not to pass along:
A Scotish sheep farmer's wife disliked him so and thought he was the worst farmer in the world, one night he brought a sheep into the bedroom and said look here...the wife removed her book from her face and he said this is the cow that I have sex with when you say you have a headache, the wife in total disgust says, "that shows how much you know about farming, that's a sheep", the husband says "that shows how well you know me I was talking to the sheep."
Here are a few photos from the day:
A couple of deer playing in a carrot field. The field has been covered with straw since December to preserve the carrots until they were needed at market.
St. Andrews Cathedral Ruins

The second oldest churct in the Scotish church system, behind a malt barley field.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Heading to the UK

I'm headed to the UK (United Kingdom, not University of Kentucky) this week for some work meetings. This is my second trip to the UK and I learned some things last time I was over there that I have applied to this trip. First and foremost, you don't need as many clothes as you think you do and the heavier your suitcase is the worse it is going to be on you...case in point, on my last trip I was put in a 'corner' room in a hotel in London. This corner room was up the elevator, down a hall way, down three stairs, up two stairs and around the corner. My suitcase was too large to roll down the hallway off the hallway to my room and when I got to my room, I could barely open it up on the floor in front of my bed, needless to say I learned my lesson.
I only brought the necessities with me this time and hope to post some pictures and information about my trip along the way.
1. I purchased a hard-sided, feather weight suitcase from Steinmart for $79 dollars. Even with all my stuff for 5 days overseas, the thing weighs 44 pounds. Pretty excited...hope it holds up!
2. Flip Video Camera - if you don't have one, get one...they are AWESOME. Thanks mom and dad for getting me mine for Christmas!
3. Cannon Point and Shoot - It is just a camera, nothing special but takes great pictures and has fantastic optical zoom which I understand means I can zoom far and so far so good.
4. Backpack - Yes I am back in school, but I have my computer, some necessary files, two changes of clothes, make-up and my new People magazine inside.
5. I heart Beef Pin - I always argue with my Scottish and English counterparts about grassfed vs. corn fed beef so I thought I would leave it on for the trip, it will be a good conversation piece.
6. Neck Pillow - I tried and tried to use the inflatable ones, but I kept getting a hole in them so I found one that will attach to my backpack with a strap and like it a lot better.
Hope I can post pictures and stories along the way...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Simple Flordian Menu

I’m currently in Florida with some friends for a long weekend at the beach, thanks to the generosity of Mary’s parents (Thanks Joy and Rennie for letting us stay at your place!). We spend the day at the beach, have a picnic lunch and then come home to drink and eat a menu inspired by fresh seafood. Since my internal alarm clock won’t let me sleep late, I’m up and there is nothing on but infomercials so I’m posting this yummy recipe we had last night. Ever since I had Key Lime Pie in Miami in March I have been craving it again so I wanted to try a simple recipe that anyone could make. Last night’s menu was simple but tasty: Fresh Fish Tacos Homemade Salsa and Guacamole Key Lime Pie The Fish Tacos are comprised of fresh fish (whatever your favorite is, the flounder at the fish market looked the best so that is what we had) with whatever flavoring you prefer, we used old bay seasoning and broiled it until done. We had corn tortillas and made our own spicy slaw by using a bag of pre-cut cole slaw and adding chili powder (or whatever Mexican spices you prefer), a halved and seeded jalapeno, some cilantro, a tablespoon of sugar and some white vinegar (thanks Jennifer for making the spicy slaw). Remove the jalapeno before you serve…or if you really like spice then chop it up and leave it in. Salsa and guacamole are easy (especially with the Tupperware spin chopper or a food processor)…onions, roma tomatoes, jalapenos (seeded), cilantro, lime juice and salt. Make the salsa as you like, once you have the avocados mashed up, add the salsa to it until it tastes like you want. Ok on to the good stuff. I got this recipe off of the site…allrecipes.com. There are millions of recipes on there and millions of versions of popular recipes, this one is by far the easiest and best flavored Key Lime Pie recipe than I’ve ever made before. Key Lime Pie VII (not my number but theirs) 1 9-inch Graham Cracker crust (buy it or make your own) 3 cups sweet condensed milk (about 1 and ½ cans so buy 2 cans) ½ cup sour cream ¾ cup key lime juice (this will take about 20-30 key limes, remember to roll your limes on the counter before cutting them to release all the juices or have Angie there to roll and cut the limes for you) 1 tbs grated lime zest Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice and zest. Mix well, it will be lumpy for a while until you get it good and smooth then pour into crust. Bake in preheated oven for 5-8 minutes or until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of the pie. Be careful and watch closely you do NOT want to brown this pie. Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Add whipped cream, slice and serve. If you want to make it really special and have time, cut small strips of rind. In a small saucepan combine 1 cup of water with ½ cup of sugar, add rind and bring to a boil, drain candied lime strips and let dry/crystallize. Sorry no pictures, we ate it so fast I forgot to take them...or maybe that was the tequila shot that forgot them! :)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Handy Manny Birthday Cake

Not to toot my own horn, but I am good at baking, I can make things that are fattening and tasty and typically make them look good but I’m more of a fly by the seat of my pants person than I am a precise measurement person, when it comes to the kitchen at least. That being said I agreed to make a cake for one of my nephews (ok, they are adopted nephews…no Adam and April do not have kids yet they have my niece pups, niece and nephew foals, etc. but no human children) for his 2nd birthday. The theme was Handy Manny and I know this will shock everyone but I had no idea who Manny was which required some investigation and then Mary (mother of my nephew Grant) sent me pictures that were 3 dimensional cakes…gulp. Ok so Manny needs to upgrade his tool box because it is very old school, which is where I started to freak. But I learned some things throughout the course of this process which I will share with you now:
  1. Cake, as I mentioned previously is important but when you are making a character cake or a three-dimensional cake you should get something that is NOT Super Moist or Extra Moist or has any type of pudding in it, you need something that will hold up when stacked.
  2. If using a cake board, cover it with the opposite side of tin foil so it is easy to clean up smudges of icing. It also is a nice finish for pictures.
  3. DO not, I repeat DO not use marshmallow fluff as filler between cake layers. Often I will add marshmallow fluff to the center of cupcakes, cupcakes good (tastes like a Hostess Cupcake), cake layers bad. My cake oozed marshmallow fluff for about 3 hours and as I was icing the cake it continued to prevent some problems. Stick to icing or jams. Now I will say that marshmallow fluff is a great to moisten a dry cake…if you over baked the cake and have some time before you have to ice it spread a thin layer on the cake and let it set and it will moisten the cake right up.
  4. Use a portable fan to help dry the outside of the cake, speed icing drying time and help things stick together.
  5. Using melting chocolates (like for chocolate molds, they come in many colors and are in easy-to-melt chips from any craft store with a cake area) to create designs and dimensions. Take a piece of waxed paper and draw your design or outline of your design, then flip the paper over, melt chocolates in a resealable zip lock bag…do this very slowly as to not burn a hole in the zip lock bag, let the bag cool for 20 seconds, snip a hole in the corner and use as a piping bag over the top of your design. If you have a large area to fill then use a icing knife to fill in the holes. Once dry peel off the paper and add to the front or stick directly on your cake. Photo shows all you need!
  6. When needing a structure piece, like the ends of my cake, Gingerbread is a great to make an edible option that is easy to roll out, cut and bake. Icing it is a different story; if you are into fondant then go with that for a smooth finish, I’m not into fondant so it just looks a little rough. If you aren’t into making gingerbread then just use cardboard and ice it, no one will know the difference. I made a template out of cardboard or you can print templates off the internet.
  7. Do NOT, do NOT agree to do a cake with pure red frosting. Red is the hardest color to create. If you can find pre-canned frosting that is dyed red buy stock in it. Make sure that you use the no-taste red gel dye from Wilton; it is the ONLY kind I’ve found that won’t leave a nasty taste in your mouth. I also purchased red icing spray (it can be found at Michaels is in the far left side of the photo) and sprayed down the cake to make sure that poor Grant didn’t have a bright pink cake for his 2nd birthday.

You will see the photos…not perfect, but perfect enough for a 2 year old. The addition of the tools from the tool box, I have to admit it was pretty cute. Good luck if you attempt this cake, it took me about 3 days total due to drying time. Day 1: Bake cake and make gingerbread, Day 2: Ice with crumb coat, let dry completely and apply final icing layer, add embellishments, Day 3: Party time!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ice, Ice Miami

So I was in Miami back in March for work, honestly for work and we weren’t near the beach so it was 100% work until Thursday night when we cruised over to Miami Beach and boy was it a place. So the inspiration for this blog post is based off of the highway we had to take to get over to the beach and anyone in my era knows immediately what A1A is in reference to…ok if that didn’t help then maybe this will…A1A Beach Front Avenue. So yes I have taken small snippets from the legendary song from the 80’s and the one man that started high school and Jr. High kids everywhere shaving ‘ditches’ into your eyebrows. Spring Break at Miami Beach honestly scares me…maybe it is because I just turned 30 or maybe because it was a cesspool of nastyness. I’m guessing it is much nicer during the summer or when the spring breakers aren’t in town. Ice Ice Baby All right stop collaborate and listen Which was really hard to do when the reason you are in Miami is because you’re displaying at an international conference and ½ the audience cannot speak English so you pretend that you know what they are asking, they pretend they understood what you are saying and you both smile. Ice is back with my brand new invention Something grabs a hold of me tightly It might have been the guy standing behind the bush with his bicycle fondling himself. Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly Night would have been scary there, it was hard to get Jake out of the car in the daylight. Will it ever stop yo I don't know I’m guessing when the spring breakers leave yes. Turn off the lights and I'll glow The lights turned off would make this place bearable. Rollin' in my 5.0 With my rag-top down so my hair can blow Actually we were in a Camry…no sticking accelerators…and our windows were down until we rolled up on a motorcycle gang on Ocean Blvd…then they were up The girlies on standby waving just to say hi Pretty sure the girls were saying I’m easy and I’m only $20 an hour, but there were some very classy ladies walking down the street with fruity drinks in their hands, cover-ups half covering up and high heels that I couldn’t walk across my living room in. Did you stop no I just drove by Yep, yep we just drove on by Kept on pursuing to the next stop Which was about 3 feet from the previous stop because it was bumper to bumper traffic and moving very slow or you would miss out on the exciting stuff. I busted a left and I'm heading to the next block The block was dead Yo so I continued to A1A Beachfront Avenue Honestly, it was pretty exciting to realize that I was driving on A1A…pretty much brought me back to riding the school bus and singing along to this song…I bet my parents were so proud. Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis Yes they were the rejects from Jersey Shore and pretty sure that hot = overheating and less than bikinis wasn’t supposed to mean a jean skirt so short her granny panties stuck out the bottom. Seriously it was not attractive that she was walking down the street sharing more of her than needed yelling at someone on the phone in her Jersey accent about f’ing walking f’ing block…oh did I mention she was rocking kicks with socks…not a good look. Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis All the Lamborghini drivers we saw must have been gay because the only people we saw in Lamborghinis, Porches and Maseratis were two dude…hate to break it to you but two dudes in a car like that leaves no room for any chics so they must have been lovers. Jumped in my car slammed on the gas Because we were scared we were going to get jumped by the gang we drove by. Bumper to bumper the avenue's packed This is no exaggeration because if you drove quickly you would miss all the sights and sounds. I'm trying to get away before the jackers jack Police on the scene you know what I mean But they weren’t doing a lot because they were riding bicycles…and they weren’t too concerned about the dirty guy behind the bushes. Miami's on the scene just in case you didn't know it Scene for my mommy and daddy bought me a STD for Spring Break My town that created all the bass sound Enough to shake and kick holes in the ground 'Cause my style's like a chemical spill A chemical spill might help to clean the joint up a little Feasible rhymes that you can vision and feel Conducted and formed This is a hell of a concept The only hell in the concept is that this place is such a hot spot…maybe we were in the ‘bad’ part of the beach and that is fine…I have to say it was quite possibly some of the BEST people watching that I have had in a long time and I have spent the better part of 3 months in airports which everyone knows are almost the best people watching, until Ocean Front Ave. in Miami Beach.
We had some great dinners in Miami however, I highly recommend grabbing dinner or taking customers to the Oceanaire Seafood Room or Chop House Miami.
The Oceanaire (www.theoceanaire.com) is in a quaint little district that has tobacco shops, apparel and of course a FedEx Kinkos. The Oceanaire had hand-down the best Key Lime Pie that I have ever had. Fun Fact that I learned in Miami was that good Key Lime Pie is actually yellow in color not lime green, interesting.
The Chop House Miami (www.chophousemiami.com) has by far the best seafood appetizer tower I’ve ever seen. I recommend that you have a big group or a big appetite or maybe just get the tower with some drinks and call it a night. This is the only place that I have ever had a waiter tell me that they serve only the finest corn-fed aged Kansas City steaks. Let’s just say that they had me at corn-fed but then he threw in KC and I was in heaven.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh, Canada

Well I took my first trip to Canada this week. For those of you who know me really well you know that I truly like the Canadian National Anthem…probably a sick obsession from attending the National High School Rodeo Finals and having the catchy tune stuck in my head, it doesn’t help that my mom and Christy will sing it too… anyway of all my travels, this is my first trip to Canada and have had quite the experience. We flew into Regina, Saskatchewan which might be one of the smallest airports I have ever flown in and out of with maybe Sun Valley, ID being the smallest. Needless to say, the customs line wasn’t an issue. Our first editor meeting took us to Lumsden, Saskatchewan to The Brickhouse Bistro. Lumsden is a very, very quaint town…especially since our company’s President and CEO couldn’t get a town car to take them from Regina to Lumsden so they had to rent a stretch limo…needless to say the locals were very intrigued who was in the Brickhouse especially since their driver was in a full tuxedo. We grabbed a quick lunch and a piece of the local favorite Saskatoon Berry Pie. It was good, but it wasn’t anything like my mom’s wild raspberry pie so I think I’ll stick to that from now on (plus getting Saskatoon Berries in KC might be difficult). Saskatchewan has a great agricultural history, on the prairie they have a climate that varies from top to bottom and east to west allowing them to produce many types of crops many of them being cereal and pulse crops. We then drove to Saskatoon. I’m sure that in the summer the drive is wonderful but driving 110 in 5 degree temperatures just isn’t that much fun…ok so it is 110 kilometers/hour and 5 degrees Celsius so it wasn’t that bad…it was very interesting to see how the prairie terrain changes and the farmsteads across the countryside.
In Saskatoon, we are staying at a lovely hotel which is referred to as ‘The Castle on the River’ (The Delta Bessborough Hotel, est 1931 - http://www.deltahotels.com/en/hotels/saskatchewan/delta-bessborough/) and it looks very castle like so much so that I honestly had a haunted feeling last night after dinner walking to my room, but luckily was tired enough to fall asleep quickly before I had too much time to think about what was lurking in the walls. The beds are very comfortable and the ghosts, if there were very nice to me.
For dinner our first night in Canada we headed to Earls (http://www.earls.ca/). Earls is a brewery and a fine dining restaurant which had great atmosphere and excellent food. I had a pint of their Ginger Beer which was very refreshing. The food in Saskatoon has a big Greek influence and that was evident in the meal we had at Earls. We started the meal with Baby Calamari and the Feta Spinach Artichoke dip, both were awesome. The calamari was served with a Greek yogurt dip with cucumber and onion which was an interesting combination. I had a wonderful Prawn and Scallop Linguini with pine nuts, basil, tomatoes and a lemon herb sauce. The cool thing about Earls is there are locations in both the US and Canada so check out the website and there might be a location near you or where you are traveling. For lunch on St. Paddy’s day we were suggest to try The Ivy (http://www.ivydiningandlounge.com/ ), not quite like what I imagine The Ivy in Hollywood is like, but this place was much more of my style. It was a very eclectic place with a unique blend of decorations and food items, but it being St. Paddy’s day I settled for the Ruben which was good. I would suggest it for the evening, they had a great bar area with an indoor fire pit that I am sure is wonderful in the middle of winter. The people in Canada have been completely lovely and so very polite and very much remind me of my Canadian friends, even though I realize you all are from Alberta. Much like the US agriculture is very, very prominent in Canada and many people we met out and about were one or two generations from the farm which was neat to talk about with them. If you are ever driving from Regina to Saskatoon, stop in Lumsden, you will be happy you did. Check out Earls for dinner and The Ivy for post or pre-dinner drinks.