• books,  fashion,  food,  vintage

    Vintage Advice

    At a flea market this summer at Madison’s Fete de Marquette festival, I purchased a used copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette, first published in 1952. How could I pass up a book that covered such wide-ranging topics as Monogramming, How to Eat a Maine Lobster, and How to Write an “Angry” Letter? Being a lawyer by profession, though, I don’t need much help with that last one. There’s even a section on what to do if you can’t remember someone’s name (Ms. Vanderbilt recommends saying “Nice to see you” or “You’re looking well.”) Although some of her advice, when viewed from a modern day perspective, is downright…

  • beer,  blogging,  booze,  cheese,  food,  local,  nerdiness,  wine

    Cheese and Holiday Cheer

    One of my favorite things about blogging is that is provides me with a good excuse to do all of the nerdy, quirky things that I’ve secretly always wanted to do, but was too embarrassed to admit to anyone else. For example, I’ve always wanted to stop at one of the many souvenir stores that dot Wisconsin’s roadsides, selling things like cheese and moccasins. So, on my my way to visit a friend in Green Bay on Monday, I stopped on a whim at Schutlz’s Cheese Haus off of Highway 151. Schultz’s is everything you’d ever want in a roadside cheese store. It looks like a little house you’d find…

  • farms,  food,  green living,  local,  recipes

    Celebrating Local Farmers

    Yesterday when I checked my mailbox, I saw the winter edition of Edible Madison magazine nestled among the usual holiday ads and credit card applications. I was excited not only to curl up with the magazine and feast on food-related articles, but also to take a peek at the finished product of the feature I wrote about John and Dorothy Priske of Fountain Prairie Inn and Farms. To write the article, I had a great time hanging out with the Priskes on a fall Saturday at the Dane County Farmer’s Market, where they sell grass-fed beef and pork. I also drove out to their beautiful farm in Fall River, Wisconsin,…

  • food,  holiday,  recipes

    Happy Thanksgiving…and a Recipe

    If you’ve ever had the honor (and the stress) of hosting Thanksgiving, you know how important it is to have at least some dishes you can make ahead of time and then just pop in the oven before dinner. When my husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving, we had timelines taped up all over the kitchen as to what went into the oven (or, in the case of the turkey, the fryer in the backyard) at what times. Yeah, we’re both a little Type A. The following recipe has become a Thanksgiving favorite in my family and, as an added perk, it’s easy to make and can be prepared…

  • booze,  chocolate,  food,  microbrews,  peanut butter,  sweets,  wine

    Pairing Drinks with Halloween Candy

    Halloween is upon us and, with it, bags and bags of grocery store sweets. Whether you swipe Fun Size Snickers from your kids’ plastic pumpkins or you scarf down the leftovers you bought for trick-or-treaters, chances are you’ll be indulging in some candy. And if you’re looking for an adult beverage to go with that candy, look no further. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups go great with beer. Although some might suggest a heavier brew, like Lake Louie’s Warped Speed Scotch Ale, these sweet and slightly salty little peanut butter cups also would go great with a light, caramely ale, like Furthmore’s Proper. In Food Network Magazine, restaurateur Tom Geniesse of…

  • food,  recipes

    Bread Baking for Dummies

    I love bread. And I’ve become a bit of a snob about it, too, because I’m spoiled by friends and family members who are fantastic bakers (which also happens to be my mom’s maiden name…go figure).  But here’s the thing: I’m really, really busy. Between blogging and writing and working and occasionally getting up from the computer to stretch my legs, I don’t have much time left over for proofing yeast and kneading dough. Luckily, my friend Maya gave me this super easy, fix-it-and-forget-it recipe for bread. Similar recipes have been featured on the New York Times’ Minimalist column and the always-gorgeous Smitten Kitchen blog. The only hitch is that…

  • food,  local

    The Fall Colors of the Farmers’ Market

    When some people think of fall colors, they envision a coach bus full of tourists snapping photos at changing foliage. When I hear the words “fall colors,” I think about the many hues of the farmers’ market at this time of year. Pinks, greens, and striated reds peeking out from a bag full of apples. Carnival squash with its emerald and orange-dappled skin. The defiant gold of  a sunflower, determined to make me smile even as the cold weather comes.

  • food,  local,  recipes,  wine

    Don’t Hate Them Because They’re Ugly

    If you ever see someone crawling on the sidewalk underneath the tables at the farmers’ market, that person would be me. In late summer and early fall, I will be close to the ground, digging through the boxes of ugly tomatoes that aren’t perfect enough to put on display. You know the tomatoes I’m talking about–the squishy, cracked, bruised, or misshapen ones. Farmers usually sell them for about 50 cents a pound at this time of year. Most people will take one glance at these ugly tomatoes and walk on by. I ask you to reserve judgment, because ugly tomatoes are perfect for one of my favorite tomato recipes: Bruschetta…

  • booze,  food,  travel

    Taste of the Andes

    For me, one of the joys of going somewhere new is trying different foods. While traveling in Peru, I had the chance to eat some delicious and diverse cuisine. Some the more adventurous meals involved alpaca skewers (good) and roasted guinea pig (interesting… tasted like a cross between pork and chicken). Probably my favorite Peruvian food, though, was the most simple: the ubiquitous bar snack of fried, salted corn kernels–similar to our Corn Nuts, except that the Peruvian version is fried minutes before serving, instead of purchased at a gas station. Here are some photos of the culinary highlights of our trip: From left to right, going clockwise:  (1)  passion…

  • food,  local,  recipes

    How to Use Your CSA Veggies in One Dish

    Image by Paul Grant Yesterday I picked up my bi-weekly CSA basket, weighed down with beautiful, fresh veggies from Vermont Valley Community Farm. I’m going on vacation soon, though, and needed to think of a way to use them all quickly. The answer? Pasta salad. It’s one of those “kitchen sink” dishes that allows you to toss a lot of ingredients into it without much thought. I made a boatload of it–enough for 16 friends with whom I’ll be renting cabins over the Labor Day weekend.  Here’s what went into it–these items  just happened to be what I had around the house, but can easily be substituted with other, similar…