New food – Cipollini Onion

img_6127Wondering through the grocery store looking for my next never-bought-it-before-food, I found some little onions called cipollinis. (Pronounced chip-oh-LEE-nee). One of the advantages of a smart phone, is looking up a recipe while standing in the produce aisle. I quickly found a recipe for roasted cipollini that sounded interesting, so I bought five of them. Cipollini is actually the Italian word for onion.

These are small, flat onions with more sugar than garden variety onions. I took a picture of the onions with a puzzle piece to show how small they are. (Of course, you don’t know how big the puzzle piece is!)

To peel them, you can put them in boiling water, then drain and take off the top layer.

img_6128I found a recipe on the web where you brown them in a frying pan with butter, salt and pepper and then roast them in the oven for 30 minutes.

img_6129You eat them as a whole (not chopped and mixed in other foods as you might do to other types of onions although you probably could do that). I had them with a small steak and carrots (seemed like a good excuse to buy a steak). The reason one of them looks so much whiter than the others, is that that the grilled layer came off when I took it out of the pan, not because I did something different to it. (I’m obviously not a food network chef – just enjoying trying new tastes.)

Another use is in stews. I would give them a 3 out of 5 although I think I’ll change my rating scale to 1-10 – gives me more options. So I’ll give these a 6. They were good and I would eat them again, but probably wouldn’t rush out to buy some. Also, I think five onions was a good amount for one serving – especially since they were browned in butter. I think more than that would have been too much.


When I Locked the Keys in the Car …

Ok – this happened a long, long time ago, but last night a friend was telling me how she locked her keys in the car yesterday … and I said, I have a funny story about doing that and promised her and another friend that I would tell them the story when we had more time – so here goes, Debbie and Ruth.

Some background.

First, I have been writing for a certain publishing company since I was a teenager and they often give me assignments. So, one fall they assigned me an article on vacations. I hadn’t gotten too far, but I had written down – doing something I didn’t usually do, enjoying beautiful weather, being with friends and family.

Second – Ken has been asked to be the speaker at the mens’ retreat at Silver Birch Ranch in Antigo, Wisconsin.

Third – Our kids were married but did not have any of their own kids yet.

Now for the story. We decided that I would drive up to Antigo with Ken, drop him off and would continue on to Rhinelander where my parents lived. Kelli decided she would go with me and Jeff and Cindy decided they would come over from Minneapolis. My parents wouldn’t be home that weekend, but we would stay at their house.

Kelli and I dropped Ken off and right before we left, he handed me his keys and said, “You might as well take these, then I won’t have to keep track of them all weekend.” Ok. No problem.

We continued the rest of the way and Jeff and Cindy showed up. The next morning we headed up to Minocqua to get some fudge. We decided to stop at an antique shop in another nearby town – a place we often stopped. I turned the car off, put the keys in my pocket and got out. A perfect fall day. The parking lot was surrounded by trees rich in their red and yellow leaves and the sun brightly shone down on us which is why I decided to take off my coat, throw it back in the car and shut the door along with my keys.

We went into the antique shop and told the clerk the situation and she said she knew just the man who could help us. He could get into any car. We walked around the parking lot and soon he showed up to help. Well … after an hour of trying everything he could think of including some sophisticated getting-into-car tools, he still couldn’t get the car open. I didn’t know whether to feel sad or happy about that. Sad that he couldn’t get into the car, but happy that my car was fairly secure. Meanwhile, as we were waiting, we chatted and laughed and got caught up with what was happening with Jeff and Cindy living in Minnesota.

Finally the man who-could-get-any-car-opened gave up.

We were stuck. “If only we could get back to the house,” I said to the kids. “I have dad’s keys (fortunately) and then, Cindy, you could drive me back in your truck to get my car.”

But how did we get the 10 miles to my parents? Not a lot of taxis are available in the north woods.

“I’ll drive you,” the man offered. We had no choice. So we all piled into his van and headed back to Rhinelander.

When we got there, I handed him a $20.00, but he didn’t want to take it because “I haven’t done anything.” My response was “You obviously don’t live in Chicago.”

And now we figured out we had another problem. The key to my parents’ house was on my key ring back in the car. But after much manipulation, Jeff climbed into a window, I got Ken’s keys, we drove back and retrieved the car and got the fudge.

Not the end of the story.

I decided to write my vacation story about that day. I was enjoying my family, the weather was beautiful and I was doing something I didn’t usually do. Perfectly fit the parameters I had outlined.

So I did and I sold the story to the publishing company – making $100 on the whole fiasco.

Still not the end of the story.

Winter came and the story was published. The next spring we started getting calls from “up north,” a number we didn’t recognize. At first, we ignored them thinking it was a telemarketer, but one day I picked up.

“Hi,” a man said, “I own the antique shop on Highway 8 in northern Wisconsin. One of my regular customers goes to Arizona in the winter and this past winter, she read a story in a magazine they get at their church and it was written by you about locking your keys out of the car at our antique shop.”

“Yep, that was me,” I said.

“Well, we would like your permission to publish the story in the town newspaper.”

“No problem.” I agreed.

And that’s the end of the story.




New Food Review – Cranberry Salsa

(I will not be linking to Facebook every time I eat a new food. If you’d like to keep up with what I’m eating and what I’m not eating, please subscribe to my blog.)

This week’s new food has a back story. Last Labor Day, my California friend, Cindy, spent a couple days with me with the goal of going to Wisconsin, but we didn’t have a lot of time.  So where in Wisconsin?

dsc_0766Always Racine and the lighthouse and the kringle and the lake … but I wanted somewhere different which would be new to both of us. That’s when I got the idea to head over to the cranberry fields of Warrens. Some quick research showed that we were close to the harvest, but would miss it by a couple weeks. (You know, when the bogs are flooded and all the berries float to the top and people do commercials standing up to their hips in berries.)

Still … it could be interesting.

So we headed for the Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens.


The center has a small museum in the basement which talked about cranberry growing and harvesting. That’s where I learned that cranberries are named after sandhill cranes because the the blossom looks like the head of a crane. (Truly it does.)


Then we went upstairs and walked around the gift shop and had some cranberry ice cream (a first) and bought some cranberry salsa – which I’ll talk about in a few minutes.


We then asked the clerk if there was anywhere we could see cranberry bogs and she said “not really, they’re all behind fences.”

But we had come this far … so we decided to see what we could see. We drove down a road where we did see a bog behind a fence, but not to be deterred we drove for another half mile or so and ta da!  A bog without a fence. (If I remember correctly the bog belonged to Ocean Spray – also read that the latest Ocean Spray men-in-the-middle-of-the-field commercials were shot in Warrens.) Wisconsin is the biggest cranberry-producing state.


We got out of the car and walked over to the side of the road and got an up-close look at some almost ripe cranberries. (Yes, it would’ve been fun to see the fields covered, but the timing simply wasn’t right. Still this was fascinating.)


But back to the cranberry salsa. So, I had this salsa (it’s good until next fall), but hadn’t tried it. Ingredients consist of cranberries, tomatoes and jalapeño peppers (and other additions like sugar, etc.). This doesn’t sound like an appetizing combination, but the salsa is good. Definitely a strong salsa taste, but the cranberries make it sweet at the same time. Sort of like you’re eating regular salsa, but wait! What’s the fruity taste mixed in?

I would give this, my third new food, a 7.



State Photo – Nebraska

Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska is on the North Platte River. Both the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail went through the area. The evening we were there,  we walked along a segment of the original Oregon Trail. It’s been since I took this picture, so I don’t remember too much about it …

Nebraska 2.jpgBut I was in Nebraska just last fall, too – so here’s a picture I took overlooking Omaha.


A New Food Review – Jambalaya

Ok, don’t judge me. I’m sure Louisianans would never recommend that my first taste of Jambalaya would be from a box.

But hey – this challenge only says I have to buy something I haven’t purchased before and make it and eat it. (My challenge. I make the rules.) I don’t remember having Jambalaya.

So I decided to try it.

Actually, before I got out my pans, I looked the product up on Amazon to read the reviews to see how good this stuff really is.

Surprisingly, people who seem to know what real Jambalaya tastes like, gave this product 5 stars …  and said it was a good substitute for the real thing which is rather astonishing for a boxed dinner.

I also bought myself some smoked sausage (like the directions told me to).

From there I followed the packaged instructions.

My take on it all? Not bad.

When I consider it had to get pass two of my “not-favorite” things to eat – that is spicy. (I’m not a big fan of overly spicy food) and boxed dinners (I’m a fan of fresh), I thought it was ok. Maybe a 3.  I did eat about a cup and a half of it which is more than I’m willing to eat if I don’t like something.

So if like Jambalaya or want to try Jambalya – give it a go.



State Photo – New York

So now I’m doing two things on the blog (along with other stuff, maybe) – new foods (one a week) and state photos.

This very cute picture of my grandson was taken several years ago at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. Back in 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was working at his parents’ bar when a bunch of his friends stopped by looking for food.

Dominic’s mom deep-fried some chicken wings, covered them with a secret sauce and that’s why they’re named Buffalo wings (because they were created in Buffalo)

6a00d8341c06ad53ef00e54f1861978833-800wiWe went there with one of my childhood friends (who lives in Buffalo) and had a great time having the Anchor Bar experience – chicken wings and pizza.

And yes, they were delicious.




So I get a lot of ideas in life because I’m always curious about my surroundings – a lot of things I want to do and start to do with good intentions. However, sometimes those ideas don’t last very long.


And with that introduction, I am embarking on another fun quest.

Last weekend I was walking through Jewel doing some basic shopping when I noticed a package of kumatos. And I wondered what they were and just like that I thought, How fun would it be to buy one thing at a grocery store each week that I’ve never purchased before?

So these are my rules –

  1. One item a week.
  2. Something I haven’t purchased even though it might be fairly common in the homes of other people.
  3. I need to eat it (but doesn’t have to be a complicated recipe), and report on it.
  4. Or another option would be to order a dish at a restaurant that I have never had before.

And with that start to my new quest, I bought myself some kumatos.

But not before looking them up on my phone and discovering that kumatos are cultivated in Spain and called olmeca. They are basically a brown tomato grown by a private company that only sells seed to selected growers. In other words, you can’t go somewhere and by a kumato seed. Most of the recipes mixed kumato with our more familiar tomato.

What I did with them was make bruschetta.img_6065

I covered slices of tuscan bread with olive oil and broiled them for a few minutes. They I topped the bread with chopped kumato, chopped tomato, avocado, mixed with garlic, basil leaves and balsamic vinagerette, salt and pepper. The only kind of cheese I had was parmesan, so I sprinkled that on top.

My take on it all? Delicious. In fact, after eating two bruschetta, I finished off the rest of the kumato/tomato mixture with a spoon and that alone was also good.

So my kumato experiment was a 5.



State Photo – Nevada

Highway 50 across Nevada is called the loneliest road in America and for good reason. Mile after mile of uninhabited land. We drove across it during the “magic hours” of evening when the sun paints landscapes into fantastical beauty. Every turn provided a photo op.

We did wonder if it would be the first night ever that we couldn’t find a hotel – but an hour or two after darkness fell, we did reach a town that had a good hotel – with vacancies.

This picture was taken the next morning at the Great Basin National Park.