Happy Weekend Before Thanksgiving!
And herein we begin my most favorite time of year. It all kicks off this afternoon when Mr. Musky and I venture out in the early afternoon. Not for happy hour and a Cranberry Port Martini…
Finally, it’s here.
I’m talking about FALL! Many thrilled in the never ending summer, but I gotta say, drinking Mai Tais in late September just really isn’t my thang.
But cozying up fireside in a candlelit family room with a blanket wrapped around me, watching Stranger Things 2, and sipping on this gem?
Now that’s my fall jam….
Here in the Midwest where mercurial weather routinely torments us, we find ourselves debating and discussing heat waves, cold snaps, monsoons and droughts on a daily basis. If I were to look back on Apéritif Friday posts, I probably call out Mother Nature on every other post, if not more. So when the temperature rises to 95 degrees for multiple days on end past September 15th, what do we do?
Drink The Never Ending Summer Mai Tai.
My kids just cringed. Their dad’s new habit of greeting any suspected person of Latino heritage with a hearty HOLA! even if they are possibly Greek or Italian drives them crazy. They mentally will the ground to open up and swallow them whole thanks to unbearable embarrassment.
“What’s wrong with that? Why can’t I greet someone in Spanish?” he continually retorts.
When we’re in the northwoods and drive through an Indian reservation, he starts looking up the Ojibwe word for hello. They die slowly, those kids.
But back to Spanish…I think he’s a little obsessed because we’re all caught up on Narcos on Netflix, and the dude actually rooted for Pablo Escobar to come out ok, despite the terror he wreaked on millions of people in both the United States and in Columbia leading to his ultimate rooftop demise. Kudos to the producers of that show for casting a sympathetic character, at least in the eyes of one middle aged man in Illinois. So while he practices Spanish, I make Pico de Gallo with the 15 pounds of tomatoes I bought.
Well hello, my friends.
My apologies for the significant radio silence over the past few weeks. We reentered the Land of Lincoln, only to quickly return to the Badger State to pack the Princess off to her second year of college.
Ever the multitasker, I assisted the second-born in preparation for his senior year of high school complete with a significant image change. We went from this…
…to this in the matter of a trip to the salon for a mop-whacking, a spending spree at Kohl’s for some hipster attire, and a lengthy date with razors. Plural, thanks to the massive facial hair my little camp counselor grew over nine weeks at summer camp.
Speaking of which, the summer of 2017 is now officially in the books thanks to the arrival of September. We relaxed and soaked in every blissful moment, and look forward to the day when we don’t return to Illinois in August…EVER! Yep – we’re preparing our home for the market, so if anyone’s interested in privacy in Chicagoland just seconds from the interstate (a hard combo to come by around here!) then please keep us in mind.
Given all the happenings, I buried myself in a shallow cooking and cocktailing grave. Don’t get me wrong – of course I still appear in the kitchen from time to time, but just not with my normal amount of creative gusto. Trader Joe saves my life in August with his pre-marinated meat and prepared vegetable selections, and wine lands in my glass most often, second only to water. It’s a little sad given we’re at the height of harvest season in the Midwest, with all those ripe vegetables just begging to be toyed with. But don’t fear – good things are on the way. I finally resurfaced amid purging and packing and selling our lives away on the letgo app, and my soul is returning to me thanks to a couple of inventive dishes I whipped up this week. They’re even man-child and husband approved, so you’ll see them posted here soon.
While perusing the local bounty this week at our little mom-n-pop vegetable market, I noticed “Pico de Gallo Juice” for sale. I kid you not, and I almost picked up a bottle just for fun. But at $7 for 10 ounces, I decided I can make my own for about eighty-seven cents.
It’s simple. Throw a tomato, 1/8th of an onion, 1/4 of a jalapeño, a garlic clove, the juice of a lime, and some salt and pepper into a high powered blender or juicer.
And because my head still isn’t on completely straight, don’t forget the cilantro. Like I almost did.
Add 3/4 cup water and whirr it up on the juice cycle, making sure your lid is securely fastened. Like I didn’t. EEK! Then pour it into a ball jar and have even more fun with it.
Baby, it’s cold outside.
Yesterday we didn’t crack 60 degrees; in fact, it didn’t even reach the predicted 59 degrees my weather app promised. We settled for an unseasonable, whopping 56 degrees, with lots of rain. And since the 10 day forecast holds lows hovering right around 50, we executed upon the unthinkable.
Yep – we stowed away the air conditioning unit for the season and built a fire inside. On August 3rd, which arguably should be one of those dog days of summer, but it wasn’t….
Last Spring we contacted our good friends Rob and Kara to see if they wanted to join us for dinner. Unfortunately, they already had plans to attend a going away party for a couple leaving Chicago to live in Michigan. So long story short: We still had dinner with our friends, and crashed the going away party.
We know the couple who moved away; in fact, Mr. Musky and John are fraternity brothers, and we’ve hung out with Nara and John often thanks to our mutual friend group. If there’s one regret I have with the whole situation it’s that we didn’t get to know them better. Nara is the sweetest little thing with long braids, impeccable style, and a bohemian flair that she pulls off flawlessly. And John is quiet and sweet with the unmistakable zing of sarcasm and wit of an early 1990s Alpha Gamma Kappa Sigma. They’re both wonderful people.
But here’s the thing: Timing just didn’t work out for us to be super close, lifelong friends. We had our kids fifteen years before they did, and we’ve been at a different point in our lives as a result. We were in the throes of toddlerdom; they were finishing graduate degrees and partying like rock stars in the city. We lived too far away in the suburbs and were busy planting flowers and cutting grass while they were establishing their careers and ultimately getting married. Speaking of marriage? Their wedding in the Windy City was epic, as told by both the beautiful candid pictures and from the stories of their guests.
I’ve never heard of vodka on the tables at a wedding reception (and I even married a Polish guy!), but apparently this one graced every table at that celebration the night they exchanged their nuptials.
Summer is in full gear, and I’m loving every second of it. This is the time of year I’d like time to slow down so I can savor gorgeous, high pressure 75 degree Fridays after relishing a sleep in 50 degrees with the windows open the night before. It’s my perfect weather world.
But then so is 30 degrees and giant fluffy flakes falling from the sky with the promise of a foot or more of snow.
And so is the thrill of a powerful rainstorm on its way with trees bending and swaying to and fro on our property.
I mustn’t forget brilliant fall days with an azure sky backdropping hues of red, orange and gold on the treelined walk through the woods.
And the gentle rainfalls of Spring in mid-afternoon that beg for a cup of tea and a good book next to the fire, or a curl-up inside a fuzzy blanket for a sneaky snooze.
I love it all. Northwoods weather always delivers, and this July is a doozy of a good time.
The past several days brought family around for a visit. First Mr. Musky and I met up with my parents in Madison so they could see where their first grandchild lives and what her school is all about. We crammed a ton of activity into 36 hours: dinner and a walk around the capital with a visit to a bourbon room, a visit to the country’s largest producer-only farmer’s market, strolls through a campus garden, a bar crawl, people watching at the student Union on the terrace, and brunch at the infamous Short Stack before heading to the cabin.
Awhile back Roger Lenhardt from Norm’s Farms contacted me, wondering if I’d like to sample some of their elderberry products. I’m always on the lookout for hand crafted, artisinal additions to apéritifs, so my answer was a no-brainer. I love the Norm’s Farms story, and most of all I love a family honoring their past while sustainably growing and expanding their core business.
Originating with Norman Lenhardt in Hartsburg, MO, the Lenhardt family preserved and expanded upon Norm’s vision to protect and preserve America’s family farm legacy. Today Norm’s Farms operates out of Pittsboro, NC by working with small local family farms to establish elderberry orchards. Together with the elderberries still grown in Hartsburg, Norm’s Farms’ vision is to be a one-stop-shop for all things elderberry for their customers, from seedlings out of their nursery to commercial plants for farm start up, not to mention the RIDICULOUSLY delicious elderberry products they produce, including jams, preserves, supplements, and syrups.
Thank you all for the birthday greetings! It’s currently 75 degrees and sunny with low humidity – a quintessential mid-June day in the Northwoods, so I’m off to the Farmer’s Market in Minocqua. Kahley’s on her way up for a visit, and Jake’s coming home tonight from camp to do his laundry. In other words, I’m off to a most perfect birthday with all my favorites surrounding me tonight for dinner. Big thanks to my Mom and Dad for conceiving me in September, because I’ve always loved having my birthday on June 16th. I don’t even mind sharing it with Father’s Day and the US Open. 🙂
In planning for my birthday apéritif, what to drink, what to drink? Gin drinkers, rejoice. I’ve concocted a good one for you today.
I’m a sucker for good marketing. Put a chartreuse, out-of-the-ordinary label on a product, and I guarantee you I’ll stop to look. Throw some whimsical butterflies on it and I’ll pick it up. Grace said label with a victorian woman gardening and for the low price of $19.99, I’ll buy the bottle just based on principle. Not to mention the fact that I can totally see roadside daisies pouring out of this vase when they start blooming in late June, assuming I’ve drained the bottle by then, which at this point is highly likely.