Friday, January 29, 2010

A Gangsta Weekend "Up North"

In a couple hours, I will be headed to the great Northern area of Wisconsin, to a friend's vacation home at Presque Isle Lake. It's a 6 hour drive from Milwaukee, but I think it will be well-worth the drive to go somewhere off the grid. No television reception, no mobile phone service... just a group of friends, a cabin, probably a lot of booze and some good eats.
This location is also very exciting because of its proximity to Manitowish Waters and Little Bohemia, site of John Dillinger's infamous shootout with the F.B.I!
To be as historically accurate as possible, last summer's Johnny Depp flick Public Enemies (from Wisconsin native director Michael Mann) was shot on location, and I am super stoked to check it out. I can't wait to enjoy a cocktail at the bar, take the tour of the place (including J.D.'s room!) and enjoy a true "gangsta" photo shoot. Or is it, "mobsta?"
Oh, Johnny.
Photos to follow the weekend. Also in "Gangsta" news - I bought tickets for Snoop Dogg's Feb. 16 concert at the Metro in Chicago. Can't wait. It's been a good five years since I've last seen Snoop, and even before that was when I actually met him at a summer concert.
Isn't this photo so 2004? Love the trucker hat. Love my 'Wiscompton' shirt.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Lovin' my Job

Greetings! TGIF... for serious.
Two awesome things today:
1. Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?!" are playing the Pabst this weekend and happen to be filming both shows for future release on DVD. I've loved Colin and Brad's shows here each year, they are incredible actors and comedians. If you have the chance, I highly recommend their live show. Be sure to check them out when they are in your town!
Back to my point - I walked into the theater and up the stairs toward my office, and noticed a setup for an interview!
How cool is that? They are gonna be filming their interview right outside of my office!
Obviously, I will be quiet and courteous while they tape the interview... but may just have to take a few peeks around the corner as well ;-) It's the random stuff like this that makes me pinch myself to make sure this is truly my job.
2. Other awesome thing = a kick-ass bowl of Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal.
Main reason this rocked? It was FREE - I redeemed a coupon that 'bucks had mailed to me. Also, the texture this morning was spot on, sometimes their oatmeal can be a little dry or weird. Today, this was indeed Perfect Oatmeal - creamy, piping hot and delicious.
I added about 1/2 of each: Nut medley, dried fruit and brown sugar.
Off to work. Got a ton to do today. Cheers!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recipe: Coquette Cafe's French Onion Soup

At last... the recipe for the one soup that makes me 'cheat' on my vegetarianism...
Coquette Cafe's Onion Soup Gratinee, recipe and article from

Coquette's Onion Soup Gratinee Makes 8 servings

8 baguette slices (cut to fit the top of the soup crocks)

Vegetable oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper to season croutons

2 ½ pounds Spanish onions

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

20 crushed black peppercorns

4 cloves garlic, peeled

10 parsley stems

½ cup clarified butter (do not substitute, see note)

1 cup dry white wine

12 cups chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

¼ cup dry sherry

6 cups coarsely grated French Gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut baguettes on the bias into ¼-inch slices. Lightly oil and season with salt and pepper. Toast in preheated oven until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Set croutons aside.

Peel onions. Cut in half from stem to stem and remove core. Cut into thin slices lengthwise. Set aside.

In a cheesecloth bag, combine thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic cloves and parsley stems.

Preheat a 5-quart stockpot over high heat. Add clarified butter and, when it's smoking, add onions. Cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally, until onions are an even gold color without any burnt black specks. The onions must be very dark or you will not get the correct flavor. When onions are very dark brown, add wine to deglaze and cook until reduced by half. Add stock and cheesecloth bag and bring to a simmer. Simmer until reduced to 8 cups total volume. This will take 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove the cheesecloth bag and season soup with salt and pepper and add dry sherry. Divide soup among 8 onion soup crocks. Set a crouton on top of each soup, evenly divide ¾ cup of the cheese over the top of each crouton and place soup under the broiler until cheese melts and browns to a crisp crust, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot.

Note: To clarify butter, melt butter over low heat in heavy saucepan without stirring. Milk solids will sink to bottom of pan, leaving a golden liquid on the surface. Skim any foam off the top, then slowly and carefully pour the clear ("clarified") liquid into a dish, leaving the milky layer in the saucepan.

Column compiled by Joanne Kempinger Demski.

Coquette Cafe is one of my favorite French restaurants in Milwaukee. It's been a while since I've enjoyed their rich, flavorful, but made with animal stock French Onion soup. I am well aware that this type of soup often contains beef or chicken broth, and it's one of the only exceptions I will make to my ovo-lacto-pesco vegetarian (flexitarian?) diet.
Upon reviewing Coquette's recipe for this soup, it looks like one could easily substitute soy margarine for the butter, and vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Perhaps it's possible to enjoy this indulgent soup guilt-free, after all!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Let it snow.

It's one of those days in Milwaukee. The day before a snow storm.
If you're from an area that gets a lot of snow, you probably know where I am coming from.
Look familiar?
A 'WINTER STORM WARNING' has been issued for tomorrow, and the hype has officially begun. Tonight, all of the local news teams will compete for ratings by interrupting regular programming with the latest updates. There will be reporters broadcasting from street corners, bundled up from head to toe. Community closing notices will frame television screens for hours. These news stations exaggerate to the point of silliness.
For me, a snow day tomorrow will mean working from my living room instead of my office. No biggie. Perhaps it will be a good day to bake while working?
Anyway. Yesterday's mini-goal #2 of having a healthy lunch was a success, with a delicious meal from Louise's. It's a great, quick restaurant in the eastern part of Downtown, across from Cathedral Square Park.
I love the decor, it's modern and fresh. The kitchen is open to the restaurant, which is always cool to gaze at.
A highlight of dining at Louise's, is the heavenly tomato-rubbed bread that they serve with oil and balsamic vinegar. Divine.
For my meal, I chose a bowl of healthy lentil soup, and a salad with baby greens, walnuts and gorgonzola.
Today, I ventured out into the cold and walked to Shah Jee's for some crack, aka chana masala. No photos, it never photographs well! Let me assure you, it did not disappoint.
Back to work and then two more house showings. G'day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New year, new workout gear

Happy 2010, blog friends!
Check it out - one of my favorite stores, Forever 21, now carries workout gear!
Now we can all pick up acid-washed sweatpants and metallic plaid high-tops, and look the part of fashion victims at the gym :-)
Seriously though, there are some cute duds available... I like this Heritage '81 sweatshirt and the criscross jumpsuit.
Don't really know if I'd wear the jumpsuit to anything but a dance class, but as it's impractical, it's still adorable and retro :-)
It has been pretty crazy at work, and Zak and I have scheduled to look at three homes tonight (!!!), however I started today with two simple goals:
1. Have two snacks this AM (instead of breakfast + snack): granola bar with a small banana, and almonds with a clementine.
2. Eat a healthy lunch. This will happen in about one hour, I am planning to get Pakistani (chana masala - mmmm) or a large salad.
I find that by setting mini-goals for myself at the beginning of the day, it's easier to stay focused and calm in the midst of an otherwise hectic schedule!
What are your goals for today?