Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Thaw

Southeast Wisconsin is finally experiencing a bit of spring thaw - even though temps are still mostly in the 30s. This photo shows our street the other day when Nik and I were taking our morning walk amongst the remaining patches of snow. The weatherman predicts we may reach 50 degrees on Sunday (& we maybe even see some sunshine.) Woo-hoo!

Friday, March 28, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Flight

A Southwest Airliner landing at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport.

See more SkyWatch Friday photos here.
(Note: According to SkyWatch Friday, it's "National Joe Day," and coincidentally my middle name is "Jo" - spelled a bit differently, but I think it works!)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Verde Canyon Railroad

During our recent trip to Arizona, we finally took the Verde Canyon Railroad trip.  It features a 4-hour trip: 2 hours into the canyon and 2 hours back, with no shortage of beautiful, rugged scenery. The image above shows the front of the train winding along the Verde River Valley.  The photo below shows the train entering a tunnel along the way.
You can learn more about the railway and the area here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Arizona Rainstorm

We just returned from a week in Arizona and had a wonderful time.  The weather was lovely: mostly sunny and warm, with daytime temps in the high 70s and low 80s.  However, this photo shows the red rocks of Sedona with a rainstorm swirling in the background.  Thankfully, those stormy clouds never quite made it over to where we were hiking.

It was quite a shock to return back to the damp chill of Wisconsin's "spring" - but it makes us appreciate the opportunity to travel all the more.

See more SkyWatch Friday photos here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Here Comes the Sun

The bare branches were coated in sparkling frost this morning, but thanks to bright sunshine and a clear blue sky, all that had melted by the afternoon when the temperature nearly hit 50 degrees! Hope does indeed 'spring' eternal.
Of course, we still have a half-foot of snow covering the ground, but 'this too shall pass.'

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What's for Lunch?

During the chilly and damp days of late winter, we all crave a little comfort food.  This hearty soup recipe utilizes many of the things that are probably already in your cupboard.

  • 6 slices bacon – cooked and crumbled; reserve 3 T. of bacon drippings
  • 2 stalks of celery – finely diced
  • 2 carrots – peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 large red onion – finely chopped
  • 4 cups of peeled and diced red potatoes (you can use russets as well)
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 cans of low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-n-half
  • 2 T. butter (optional)
  • 1/4 cup white wine (I used a dry Riesling)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • In a large skillet, sauté bacon until crisp. 
  • Drain on paper towel and set aside. Crumble when cool.
  • Retain 3T. of the bacon drippings (discard the rest.)
  • Using the same skillet, heat bacon drippings over medium heat and add the celery, carrots, and onion.  Sauté until onion is translucent.
  • In soup pot or small stock pot, pour in 2 cans of chicken broth and add the sautéed vegetables and diced potatoes, along with thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper.
  • Cover and cook over medium heat – stirring occasionally - until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove two thirds of the mixture to a separate bowl to cool slightly (leave bay leaf in pot).
  • Using a food processor or blender, puree until slightly smooth.  Return mixture to pot. 
  • Add the crumbled bacon, corn, half-n-half, butter, white wine and red pepper flakes.
  • Simmer over low heat for half an hour – stirring occasionally - or until flavors are well blended. (Remove and discard bay leaf before serving.)
Serve with thick slices of grilled sourdough and a little grated cheddar cheese. This will definitely stick to your ribs! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Deer Tracking

Another snowy afternoon at Balmer Park. The only visitors to the playground these days are the deer! (Notice all the tracks in the foreground going back and forth.)