Category Archives: Baboon Achievers

Bratwurst Bun Perfection

Last week, Husband sent, via overnight UPS transport, four bratwurst buns that he had baked,  to his brother-in-law, John,  in Omro,  Wisconsin. This was expensive.

Husband and John both grew up in Sheboygan,  Wisconsin, which touts itself as “The Bratwurst Capital  of the World “.  Bratwurst is certainly a staple in Sheboygan, and there are competing opinions regarding which butcher shop makes the best and what is the best way to prepare them. It is a sacred food there.. There is a flourishing industry in shipping Sheboygan brats to far flung Sheboygan expats.

True Sheboyganites are as concerned about the buns as they are about the sausages. Buns don’t ship as well as sausages. Husband  likens the search for the perfect brat bun to finding the best bagel.  The perfect brat bun is light and crusty with a moist  interior and a slightly malty flavor, traditionally baked on a bed of cornmeal.

Husband and John have a mutually supportive rivalry in attempting to bake the best brat buns at home. They have found recipes on-line from defunct Wisconsin bakeries, and try to adapt them for home use. Husband is an accomplished baker. John not so much. My sister-in-law has had her fill of bakery experiments.  (Note: In Sheboygan,  baked goods are referred to as “bakery”).

The quest continues. . .

What are you trying to perfect? What is your favorite culinary  accomplishment?

civic sacrament

About twenty years ago I signed up to be an election judge. I had switched from a full time schedule to working just three days a week, so I regularly had Tuesdays off. It seemed like a good time to step forward and help my community make its voice heard.

You meet all kinds of people in the polling place. I think the most memorable voter I ever met was a woman who called me over to discuss her voting dilemma, I think in 2004.  She said she was having trouble deciding who to cast her presidential vote for, because she didn’t really like any of the candidates. They all fell short of the standards she felt candidates should meet. “The people I would really like to see on the ballot are Paul Wellstone, Jesus, and Princess Diana,” she explained. I gently advised her that while those were not going to be realistic possibilities, since all three of them were dead, and only one of them had even been a U.S. citizen, she was quite free to write in any name she chose.

The other memorable thing about the woman was that she had large plastic bags on both hands, secured at the wrists by rubber bands. She was ahead of her time.

I will be staying home this election day, trying to keep myself safe, after voting early. I’ll miss watching this exercise of political power by ordinary citizens. Of all the unsettling changes that COVID-19 has brought, this may be the most unsettling for me. So far.

Any disruptions, major or minor, that have arisen for you lately due to COVID-19? (Or for any other reason, for that matter?)

Being Number One

I am chagrind to report that my state is number one in the country for per capita Covid cases. I remember how important it was in high school and college for our teams and ensembles to be “number one.”  I don’t want to be number one any more.

I want to be last right now.  Didn’t someone a long time ago say that “the first will be last and the last will be first?”

What are you the best at? What are you the worst at?

10K

Photo credit:  Sebastian Pena Lambarri

Last week Chris mentioned that we were closing in on 10,000 followers.  If the rate that someone new clicks on Follow keeps up, we will hit that number this weekend.  As I’m typing this on Friday night, we are at 9,996.  This is for just the Trail – if you look at our WordPress account, it also adds in Blevins and Kitchen Congress, so the number looks a little higher than 10K.

I’m not big on social media optics, so I’m not sure what this really says about us.  Obviously from looking at the stats, we don’t have thousands of folks looking at the Trail every day; we average between 150 and 200 views most days.  And of course, I find it fascinating that not everybody is always looking at the same post as we are.  For example, yesterday 2 people viewed Why I Don’t Eat the Coleslaw from August 2015 and The Magnolia Steakhouse from November 2010, among other pages.

Although the overwhelming number of readers hale from the U.S., we have a worldwide viewership.  Yesterday we also had folks from Canada, Australia, Finland, Kenya, Cameroon, Germany, Nigeria, France, India, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Georgia and Benin visit.

We are all over the board in terms of comments… some days we are chattier than others.  I used to worry that we didn’t have more folks commenting, but then I think about all the other blogs that I read on a regular basis.  They have way more followers than we do, but fewer comments.  I also don’t see the kind of community that we have in the comment section of most blogs.  And I can’t speak for anybody else, but I almost never comment on any blog except ours (unless there is a possible prize in it for me).

So all in all, as we’ve hit our decade anniversary and 10K followers, I’m still feeling like we’re just a small fish in a big pond and I like it that way.  Hope the Trail is meeting your needs these days.

Not sure about a question for this data – did you ever imagine, in your wildest dreams, that we’d come this far?

Raspberry Gratitude

I’ve been picking raspberries every afternoon for the past week.  About a cup each time; the first day they hardly made it into the house.  Now I have a few in the freezer and few in the fridge.  Whipped some cream yesterday.  Yum-O!   Picking raspberries always makes me think about my baboon community.  I’ve told the story before of how Linda brought me two raspberry canes on the day we gathered at PJs to help out with her spring gardening while she was recuperating.  I had always thought having raspberries would be fun, but left on my own, I doubt I would have ever done anything about it without Linda’s encouragement.  The canes have now taken over the south garden with vigor and we really enjoy the berries.

As much as I’m grateful for the raspberries, I’m more grateful for this community.  Spring gardening at PJs, Museum of Russian Art, Rock Bend, Liberty Custard, spring bales and chicken poo, Swedish American Institute, Jim Ed’s memorial service, St. Agnes Bakery, chainsaw party at Steve’s, LJB’s memorial and, of course, Blevin’s book Club.  I’m sure I’m missing some.  I love that we’ve built friendships and support systems in our ten+ years together.

Last week when I ran Dale’s initial Trail offering, I ran his question… but the question I really wanted to ask was:

What fond memories to you have of our ten years on the Trail?

 

Frenzy of Pie

It’s a pie trifecta here (hope I’m using that correctly).  Stuck in the house, a little blue (working at home is not growing on me yet) and have lots of pie ingredients hanging around.

Last weekend I made a blueberry pie for YA and a pear croustade (fancy way to say pears in puff pastry).  Then a couple of days ago, a blender lemon pie (SO easy).  Yesterday I made a peanut butter cream cheese whipped cream Reese’s pie… not sure what the actual name is.  Over the weekend, there is apple crumble to be made and I might make another of the blender lemon (it went fast and I still have lemons).  My neighbors on either side are benefitting from this frenzy.

Of course, I’m also doing other dishes for comfort.  Made a pizza on Monday, roasted cauliflower on Wednesday, hash brown parmesan “cups” last night.  YA has requested tomato soup… I still have tomatoes in the freezer from last summer so that’s do-able.  Might have to make a quick run to the store for onions and garlic.  I think I might do ramen pad thai too.

I know we’ve talked about comfort food before, but anything you’re craving this week?

3.14159265…..

I know you’re expecting to see details about Pi Day next week, but this year I’m going to change it up and write about Pi Day organization.  Here’s what it takes:

Already Done

  • Send out Evites. If you’re local, you got an evite, although I can’t guarantee they didn’t go to Spam.
  • Decide on pies. Mark the recipes with post-it notes.  11 this year – I can’t help myself
  • Make list of ingredients and then shop for those ingredients
  • Make little pie placecards and nametags
  • Make sure you have enough plates, napkins, forks
  • Check on red/white wine supply

Up Next

  • Go through recipes and sort out which are baked and which are non-baked
  • Figure out how many pie shells need pre-baking
  • Do any of those pre-baked ones need any chocolate coating or other prep?
  • Figure out what oven temperature is needed for the baked pies
  • Figure out what can be chopped/ground before Saturday
  • Make an actual schedule of the order of baking, set up by oven temperature needed

Friday night

  • Make the oatmeal cookies that become the crust for the Crack Pie
  • Make Crack Pie crust
  • Boil the condensed milk to make dulce de leche
  • Do any pre-baking of crusts and coat the chocolate ones
  • Do any nut chopping/grinding that needs doing

Saturday

  • Get up early and get started!!

Hopefully there will be time in here for a shower before everybody arrives!  Oh and here’s what’s on the menu:  Crack, Banoffee, Blueberry,  Dutch Apple, Red Velvet Whoopie, Reese’s, Pecan Dream, Shaker Lemon, Vanilla Crumb, Skillet Berry Cobbler and Pear Croustade.

Have I made you hungry or just tired?

Easter Candy Impulse

Oh no! I stopped by the grocery store last night to pick up something quick and was confronted by a HUGE display of Cadbury chocolate eggs.  Not just any run-of-the-mill Easter candy, but my nemesis, the Cadbury egg.  I don’t know why I like these, but I really do.

How do I keep myself from temptation for the next six weeks?

New Technology

I finally had to cut the cord. My old laptop just wasn’t going to make the grade when I upgraded Explorer this week; it was originally a re-furbish, so it was about six.  Ancient for a laptop and SLOW.  So knowing that it would only get worse, I trundled myself up to the computer store last weekend.  Obviously I am part of a large contingent of folks who waited until the very last minute to do something about this week’s looming deadline.

You all know that while I am fully capable to doing research if I care about something, too much time thinking about computers doesn’t fill me with elan. I went into the store, found a salesperson (so so young), told him what I use a computer for at home along with my price range.  He showed me three different computers and I chose one.  10 minutes.  I spent longer standing in line to pay for it than I did choosing it.

Now comes the hard part – learning how to negotiate the new systems and software. I remember in my Software Etc. days that software would come in big packages… several disks and a LOT of manual.  These days you get a piece of cardboard with a website and a license number.  My first thought when I opened the box and turned it on was “I am lost in space here”.  Three hours later, I am up and running.  Not proficient yet at getting around or typing on the new keyboard, but at least I’ve got security, internet and, most importantly, OverDrive (for listening to audio books)!

What’s the last book you listened to? (Or read…..)

Two Days

Before my trip to Peru, I was well aware that this would be a trip of a lifetime. Even if I hadn’t already thought this, everyone I knew was sure to tell me.  As you all know, one of my life goals is to not have expectations set too high.  So this felt dangerous to me, to hear so many folks talk about bucket lists and dreams come true.

As a way to try to tamp down my expectations, I did not do ANY research on Peru or Machu Picchu prior to the trip. From our hotel in Cusco, we took a minibus to Ollanta Station (1.5 hours) and then took the Vistadome train to Machu Picchu City (another 1.5 hours).  Then there was the tourist coach up the side of the mountain (hint: if you are afraid of heights, always try to avoid the window seats on a trip like this).  On this last leg of the trip to the site, I reflected that I really didn’t know anything at all about Machu Picchu, with the exception of the altitude – 8,000 feet.

Turns out that there isn’t a massive amount to know. The pre-Andeans had abandoned the site centuries before it was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and they left no written record.  In fact “Machu Picchu” is just the name given to the site in the local dialect and means “old mountain”.  Archaeologists and scientist are pretty sure what many of the buildings were for: homes, palace for the Inca when he visited, security look-out and even a temple (although they only believe this because on the winter solstice the sun shines directly through the main window of the building) but other than that, they don’t know much about how life was lived here.

As I stood gazing out over the stone buildings I was struck with a strong desire to go back in time for just a couple of days to see what life was like when Machu Picchu was populated. How did they live, what did they eat, what were their favorite past times?  Of course it would be nice to know why they abandoned the settlement, but if I only have two days, I don’t think I want it to be the last two days!

 Two days to visit a time in the past. Just two.  When and where do you choose?  (And an absolute guarantee you can get back home after the two days!)