Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wisconsin Week: Frozen Custard

This week I'm celebrating the state of Wisconsin, just because I can.   
There is ice cream and there is frozen custard.    Both are delicious.
When I'm Wisconsin-bound, I like to get my custard on!

Wisconsin Week:  Frozen Custard

Wisconsin can't take the credit for creating frozen custard, but I see it there more often in WI than anywhere else.     According to Wikipedia, a shop in Coney Island was the first commercial producer back in 1919.   It made its way to the Midwest for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.  

As you may know, it's not very far from Chicago to the Wisconsin border.
And it's not that far from the border to Milwaukee.    Milwaukee totally got on board the frozen custard express.

Milwaukee has highest number of frozen custard shops per capita.  

When I fly into Milwaukee, I'm committed to supporting these custard shops.    My sister lived in Milwaukee for years and she's partial to Kopp's.  So here I am, dragging from a red-eye flight from Hawaii to Wisconsin ready to take on the world now that I have custard in hand.  


Fun facts about frozen custard:

  • Per the FDA it must contain 10% milkfat,  why do you think it tastes so rich and amazing?  
  • 1.4% egg yolk solids....if it's less than that, it's merely ice cream
  • Butterfat and egg yolk give frozen custard it's creamy and dense texture
  • Most custard shops serve vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day
Trivia from Wikipedia

 If you can't make it to Wisconsin....other frozen custard spots I recommend:

Have you tried frozen custard?   Do you have a go-to spot?  

Monday, August 1, 2016

Wisconsin Week: Cheese

This week I'm celebrating the state of Wisconsin, just because I can.   
The love of cheese is real.   

Wisconsin Week:  Cheese  

Wisconsin is known for it's dairy.   Cheese in particular.    For me, no visit to Wisconsin is complete without multiple servings of cheese curds.  

For many people, cheese curds may be just a thing of whispered legend.
Are they fried bar food?   
Are they served at fairs and festivals?   
Are they fresh and squeaky?  

Cheese curds are all of those things.    Cheese curds are a part of the cheese making process.   Before cheeses like cheddar are formed into blocks or wheels and aged, they start out as curds.   And yes, fresh curds squeak when you eat them.

Enhance your cheese curd knowledge at Eat Curds.   The Wisconsin milk marketing board wants YOU to know and understand the wonder of the cheese curd.  

Fun Wisconsin cheese and dairy facts to impress your friends:

  • Wisconsin has 127 cheese plants, more than any other state 
  • It takes 10 lbs of milk to make 1 lb of cheese
  • On average, each American eats 34 lbs of cheese each year (that's a LOT of cheese)
  • More than 96% of Wisconsin's dairy farms are family owned
  • Wisconsin was named America's Dairyland in 1930
  • Wisconsin is nation's largest producer of Cheddar cheese
  • The first ice cream sundae was served in Two Rivers, Wisconsin (and yes, I've been there to celebrate that fact in person)

Trivia from America's Dairyland

Wisconsin makes it very easy to get your cheese fix.   Just look for a sign.  A big sign that says CHEESE.  

If you're in southern Wisconsin near Kenosha, perhaps a visit to the Mars Cheese Castle is in order?  

And when you're up near Door County, in Algoma or Sturgeon Bay?   A visit to Renard's is a must!

Or a mouse.

Let's celebrate with some cheese!

Wisconsin Cheese Curds for the win!

Do you love cheese too?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wisconsin Week: Green Bay Sunsets

This week I'm celebrating the state of Wisconsin, just because I can.   
The love of water, among other things, runs deep in me.   

Wisconsin Week:  Green Bay Sunsets

I love sunsets and will hop up out of my chair, walk down to the water or step out of a restaurant to go and enjoy the moment.   Yes, I am that person.  In fact, I'll be that person again in just a few days.

Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water, so you can have your sunset shots at your choice of rivers, lakes and streams.   For me in the past 10 years, my favorite shots have been in Door County of the sun setting over Green Bay.

Fun Wisconsin water facts to impress your friends:

  • The Great Lakes contain a fifth of all the liquid surface fresh water on earth
  • Wisconsin has more than 15,000 lakes 
  • Almost 3% of Wisconsin's total area is lakes
  • Wetlands and abundant high-quality water make Wisconsin the nation’s top producer of cranberries and 10th-largest producer of trout
  • Wisconsin has more than 500,000 registered motorboats—about one for every 10 residents

Trivia from Wisconsin's Water Library

Let's celebrate with some beautiful Green Bay sunsets!


Do you have a favorite sunset spot?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

National Parking: Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai'i has so many unique and beautiful places to explore.   I was excited to have a chance to island hop over from Maui to Big Island this spring to finally see it!

Compared to Maui, Big Island is exactly that...big.   Big roads, bigger distances, and stretches of highway where you can't see the ocean (gasp!).     We flew in and out of Kona so that we could fly Mokulele.     Hilo is the airport that's closest to the park, though.   

Friends who visited me in 2015 stayed at the Volcano Inn and recommended it, so that's where we stayed as well.   It's in a perfect location for hiking the park and for going back at night to see Kīlauea at Hawai'i Volcanoes National ParkKīlauea Crater is an active volcano.   To see the glowing lava, you'll want to come back to the park at night.    During the day, its bright enough that you probably won't see anything, although you may smell it.   

Breakfast area at the Volcano Inn 

On the Kona side of the island, it's dry and hot.  If you are anywhere on the Hilo side of Big Island, you need to be prepared for rain.  At any time.   We hiked the Kīlauea Iki Trail and alternated between coats on /coats off, and hats on / hats off.   This hike is about 4 miles through the still steaming Kīlauea Iki Crater.   The visitor's center has a good video that shows the eruption in 1959.   

The Kīlauea Iki Crater from above
Part of the trail involves following the ahu.  There are stacked rocks that guide your way through the crater since the lava doesn't lend itself to an easily followed trail.  

You know what to do
Follow the ahu!
Rainforest all around the crater

Hiking into the unknown
After your hike, you're going to be hungry.   Good news, Ken's House of Pancakes is open 24 hours a day in Hilo.     Might I suggest corned beef hash eggs benedict?   Not pictured:  the pancakes with tropical fruit syrups that went with this.   But know that they were consumed with enthusiasm.

Heading to Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park? 

  • You'll be renting a car, so plan ahead.
  • Volcano Inn has great rates, and partially because they don't take credit cards.  You'll need to mail your payment in advance to book your room.
  • A 7 day pass as of June 1, 2016 is $20 per vehicle.   If you're planning to visit both Volcanoes NP on Big Island and Haleakala NP on Maui, you can by the Hawai'i Tri-Parks pass for $25 and that's good for a whole year.   
  • Bring your beach clothes for the Kona side and your rain gear for the Hilo side.
  • If you're driving the whole island, you'll definitely want to stop at the Punalu'u Bake Shop for lilikoi malasadas.    It's the southern most bakery in the United States! 

So ono!

Other National Parks to Love:

Klondike Gold Rush - Seattle
Mount Rushmore - South Dakota
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming (home of my favorite summer job)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hiking the Waihee Ridge Trail, Maui

Every hike I've taken in Maui has been different and wonderful.    

What I can't believe is that it's taken me 2+ years in Maui to hike Waihee Ridge.  

Waihee Ridge is a part of the Na Ala Hele trail system.   There's a designated trailhead and the trail is easy to follow. 

Follow uphill, that is.    To get to the ridge, you need to climb up.    Legs burning, climb up.  

If it's rainy, the trail will be slippery and treacherous.      You'll also want to start early - not because you like getting out of bed, but because the views are better in the morning before the clouds come in....although walking in the clouds is an experience of its own. 

If you hike all the way to the top, the hike is about 5 miles round trip.     If you don't want to go all the way, hike as far as  the 1.5 mile marker.   You'll have beautiful views of the ocean, the green mountains, and maybe even a waterfall or two.   We enjoyed some wildflowers and baby ferns covered with dew on our hike as well.     It's a hike that showcases so much of the scenery that Maui has to offer.

How to get to the Waihee Ridge Trail:

Drive through Wailuku and then Waiehu.    You'll be on Kahekili Highway (340).    When you see the gate for Mendes Ranch  on the right hand side (ocean / makai) of the road, you know you're almost there.   The trailhead and parking is on the left hand side  (moutain / mauka) - you'll see a sign for a Boy Scout Camp.      You'll park, then walk through a gate marked with the trail sign.     

There's a steep cement road for the very first part of the trail and then it becomes dirt.     Mile marker signs  are clearly marked throughout the trail.    Bring your hiking shoes and water.  

After your hike, I'd recommend stopping at the Wailuku Coffee Company for coffee and a pastry or an early lunch.   Their food is ono!

Do you have a favorite Maui hike?

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Wheel Cooking School, Bagan, Myanmar

I love food.
I love cooking.
This is not a secret.

I was so happy to see an afternoon cooking class on our itinerary when we were in Myanmar in December.    Food is how I connect to a destination.   

Getting all up in the local food?
Let's do this.

If you've been to a cooking school or class before, you may have gotten a printed copy of the recipes. At the Wheel, if you want to have the recipes, you need to take notes.    I was the official note taker for our party.       Just know that there is a lot of garlic and/or ginger in everything, and you'll be set!

We were making a whole wheel of dishes, so the school provides kitchen helpers - lovely ladies who kept us on the right track, minded the pressure cooker,  and laughed along when I grabbed the pestle and started making up songs, such as "Do You Want to Make Some Curry?" to the tune of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"

We had a great time and if you're in Bagan, I'd definitely recommend it!

So many fresh ingredients!
Shallots for everyone
My sister crushing things like it's her job

Our fabulous kitchen helpers

Too many cooks in the kitchen?  No way!

Our lunch, Wheel style

Do you take cooking classes at home or when you travel?   
If so, what was your favorite experience?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Today Is A Gift

There is a Family Circus cartoon that I've always loved with the caption:  "Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift, that's why it's called the present."

Everyone likes to receive presents.
So how can we practice treating today as a gift?
Bonus if we get cake or ice cream, since it goes so well with presents.

There's a real struggle.    So much of what we do each day: working, planning, saving, spending, praying and even exercising, is for the future.   We lose track of today because we're so focused on what's next.    

On the flip side, our culture, especially in social media, focuses on capturing and sharing the minutiae of today....things that in years past (and I'm talking a few years, not 90 years) we wouldn't have shared, other than in passing conversation, as in "Did you see those shoes?" or "Wasn't that pie delicious?" or  "Did you see my child / dog / best friend do that cute / crazy / ridiculous thing?"
Now if you do that crazy thing someone is bound to get it on video.  Just one more reason to be glad that I was in college before smart phones.

{side note:  When I was a youth sponsor at church, one of the high school kids asked me how we planned events in college without Facebook.    Thank goodness we had dry erase boards.   See also: answering machines.}

Today is one of the building blocks of our life story.  When you sit down with friends for coffee, or your family at the holidays, you jump straight to the memories and stories that come from each miraculous day of living.   Today is one of those miraculous days...even if it doesn't feel like it.

This year, I'm focusing on capturing the gift of today.   I've got a bowl on my bookshelf that I pass multiple times per day (my ohana apartment is cozy....I pass by everything I own in about 30 seconds).    I write down one joy per day.   Big or small.  It's my present.    By the end of January, I will have hit the 30 days necessary to form a that bowl should be full come December.

On Tuesday I was celebrating the gift of carbs,
especially kimchee fried rice

What will it be like next January going through this bowl and looking at all the presents?  
I won't know until I get there, but I imagine there will be a lot of laughing.  

How do keep yourself present in today?  

Like doing something new by starting the bowl of joy, I'm trying to extend and stretch myself this year.  I was inspired to write this by the #onewordcoffee series on Faith Barista.

OneWordCoffee Linkup


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