Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kindred Connection: Bursary of Bliss Edition

A bursary = a treasury. Bliss = extreme happiness, ecstasy, joy. Here, then, is my bursary of bliss: a treasury of things that bring my joy and delight to my soul!
  1. Datiles con tocino (tapas dish of dates wrapped in bacon)
  2. The uninhibited laughter (chortles, guffaws even!) that comes out in the company of dear friends
  3. Baking sweet treats to share with others
  4. Leisurely Sunday mornings at home with my honey and a plate of blueberry pancakes
  5. The warmth and wiggliness of puppies
  6. Getting wrapped up in a really good novel
  7. Turning out all the lights and watching a thunderstorm from the comfort of the couch
  8. Inhaling the intoxicating aroma of lilac bushes in spring
  9. Anticipating and attending the annual reunion of my 3G02 girls from college
  10. Maple trees ablaze in autumn hues
  11. Wandering through the Morton Arboretum, or any interesting patch of earth
  12. Traveling to new places
  13. Trying the cuisine of various countries
  14. Memories of time spent with my grandfather
  15. Silly sing-a-longs with my husband; the more absurd, the better
  16. Capturing moments in time and scenes of beauty through my camera lens
  17. Starbucks Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Lattes
  18. My bed
  19. Learning great new words
  20. Warm, gooey brownies with ice cream
  21. Pedicures
  22. SDPs (Spontaneous Dance Parties) 
  23. Fields of sunflowers
  24. Abiding in the presence of my Savior and Friend

Windy Poplars

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Year of Deer, Episode 18: Seasoned & Grilled Venison Steak Kabobs

I have my friend Heather to thank for directing me to the recipe for this episode. I modified it a bit (what else is new?!) and decided to cut up the steaks for kabobs rather than keep them whole, since the size and shape of the venison steaks we received are rather inconsistent.

The marinade ingredients: 

The final product, plated (with thanks to Rachel for the bottle of wine! It did, in fact, pair quite nicely with venison): 

The verdict: The marinade imparted the steak pieces with great flavor. Next time I will probably scale back the recipe even more than I did this time (it made way more than enough to marinate 2 lbs of meat) and leave out the mustard. I don't like mustard. I keep including it in recipes that call for it, thinking that it might be masked enough or that in some magical ingredient combination I will like it, but the fact is I always taste it, and I still don't like it. So, with the measurements scaled back and sans mustard, this will make a repeat appearance at our house for sure.

Kindred Connection: Food Edition

I was perusing the blog of a high school friend today and learned about the Kindred Connection. I've decided to participate, since I could use a little encouragement and inspiration. My default of late has been chronicling the venison endeavor, but I would like to get back to blogging about other things as well, and one of the best ways to be inspired is to discover what other kindred spirits are blogging about out there! Besides, the topic for this week was irresistible: food. 

 This was my entree from a recent date night at Shokran Moroccan Grill. I don't remember what it was called, but it was absolutely delicious. It was also an enormous portion that fed me twice! Travis ordered a lamb dish, and it was the best lamb either of us have ever had. My fork kept wandering over to his plate for another bite!
  1. What is your favorite ethnicity of food? This is a tough one! My husband and I are in the midst of a "culinary world tour," in which our goal is to try the national cuisine of as many countries as we can find restaurants. (Yes, I could (and have) tried making some dishes at home, but it's hard to judge the cultural authenticity of a dish and cuisine you've never had before!) We recently tried Moroccan, and it was delish. I would probably say Spanish food is my favorite, though, and what's great is that I'll be eating it, in Spain, for the next two and a half weeks!
  2. If you could eat only one meal for two weeks straight, what would it be? I would be  content with Egg Harbor's Door County Chicken Salad for a fortnight. Great taste, and all the food groups represented!
  3. What is the "signature" dish that you cook? (you know, that always receives rave reviews and/or you get requests for the recipe - feel free to share the recipe!) Well, since marrying a hunter, I've become the wild-game-go-to girl among my friends (although to date I've only actually cooked venison and some Lake Michigan salmon). I think my signature dish, though, is my Three Bean Turkey Chili. It's probably the one meal I've made the most times, and everyone who's tried it has eaten it right up.  
  4. Is there something that you just can't handle eating - like gag reflex? Chicken feet. My best friend's husband orders them when we go out for dim sum, and I can't even watch him eat them.
  5. Do you think that the Kindred Connection should continue through the summer, or take the summer off? Please continue! I just found you!
Windy Poplars

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

A Year of Deer, Episode 17: Memorial Day Cookout

Memorial Day. The kick-off to summer. A time to gather with friends and grill some deer. Along with some brats and dogs and corn. Mix up some salads. Serve it all up to a hungry crowd. The dogs can only hope for scraps.

Culinary World Tour: Barbados!

Over Memorial Day Weekend I surprised Travis with an overnight getaway to Rockford, in celebration of the end of school and his birthday. We kicked things off Saturday morning with hiking at Rock Cut State Park, followed by a picnic lunch on the lawn overlooking one of the park's two lakes. We did a little more hiking after that, then drove into downtown Rockford to check things out. As it turns out, downtown Rockford is a rather forlorn place on the weekends. It felt dead and deserted. We walked around a bit, but the heat of the and lack of life on the streets soon compelled us to head to the hotel for some rest before getting clean and dressed up for dinner.

The restaurant I chose for dinner was another stop on our culinary tour around the world: Barbados. Austrian-born Josef Schwaiger opened the restaurant in 2005. Josef worked all over the world (Austria, London, Germany, Switzerland, and Africa) until finally settling in Barbados, which he has called home for over 20 years. He owns and operates three restaurants in Barbados in addition to the restaurant in Rockford, which is his first establishment in the U.S. I have no idea why he chose Rockford, of all places, but I'm sure glad we found his restaurant there! Travis and I have shared some very fine meals thus far in our relationship, and our experience at Josef's ranks right up there among the contenders for top dining experience. Granted, what we had for dinner is probably far from typical fare in Barbados, but given that Barbados is in the restaurant's name, and Travis did order the one thing on the menu that had "Barbadian" in the name (being the Barbadian Rum Punch, with which he is pictured below), I think we can check Barbados off our list. 

In addition to incredible taste, the dishes were also beautifully presented. I tried to discreetly snap photos of each dish, capturing them the best I could in low lighting without flash. Here's our meal:
My berry mojito and the appetizer of oysters on a half shell, which Travis had all to himself. 
I don't eat little bodies served in their home.
My baby greens salad with toasted pecans, warm goat cheese croutons, and blueberry vinaigrette.
Best. Croutons. Ever. 
My entree: Chilean Sea Bass
Travis' entree: Salmon
Dessert: dark chocolate mousse with chocolate ice cream and truffles