Jul 312012

Serves 8 (ish)

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, baked (350º oven—30 minutes), cooled and chopped.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced

½ Spanish onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

1 ½ cups celery, chopped

1 cup carrot, chopped

1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons cumin


2 cups chicken broth

2 14.5 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes

1 1# can tomato sauce

1 cup Mr. & Mrs. T’s Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary Mix


1 15 ounce can kidney beans

1 15 ounce can black beans

1 15 ounce can great northern beans

½ teaspoon wasabi paste

Kosher Salt

Heat olive oil in heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Sauté garlic and onions until soft, about 5 minutes, add celery, carrot, chili powder and cumin, sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce and bloody Mary mix. Simmer for about an hour. Add kidney beans, black beans, and wasabi paste; continue to simmer another 15-20 minutes. Kosher salt to taste. Add white beans last, simmer another 5 minutes and turn off heat. Serve with desired accoutrements (suggestions: cheese, sour cream, cilantro, tortilla chips, avocado, corn bread).

Jul 312012

Fred Astaire in a Glass

Full disclosure—I’m not a huge martini drinker, not because I don’t like them, because I like them a little too much. But every now and then my day job requires me to take one, or two, or three for the team. Such was the case last week when my co-worker Catherine and I paid a visit to Elsa’s on the Park for a little Martini tutorial and tasting. I know, I know, it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

If you live in Milwaukee, and you don’t know Elsa’s, you should. Famous for its excellent service, its late night dining, its juicy burgers, and its hot wings with waffle fries, Elsa’s is a gem of a restaurant that has been tucked in Cathedral Square since 1979.  It’s part of the landscape. And Elsa’s martini’s…well…there’s an anonymous quote out there that describes them best. It goes like this…

“I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube. I’m talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight, comfort, redemption and absolution. I’m talking MARTINI.”

Tony was our mixologist for the evening. We started with an Appletini—shaken not stirred. Normally, I don’t do fruity drinks. Certain food groups, in my opinion, should remain separate, but this was a delicious mix of vodka and sour apple schnapps—a perfect blend of sweet and sour.

Then it was on to the English Garden Martini—Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain, and muddled cucumber. I mean really, who can say no to a muddled cucumber? This martini has all the goods. Hendrick’s is super smooth, with notes of citrus peel, coriander, rose petal and cucumber. It’s distilled in small batches so the master distiller can have greater control over his artistry. And as for the St. Germain— It’s the first liqueur in the world created in the artisanal French manner from freshly picked elderflower blossoms. They call it the bartender’s bacon. That should tell you all you need to know. Betty Ford here I come!

And last but not least, we sipped the Cosmopolitan—Elsa’s most popular martini, and there’s little wondering why. It’s a work of art. Once again, a French liqueur—Cointreau—puts this martini over the top in terms of flavor. Cointreau is the consummate blend of opposites—sweet and bitter orange peels, with pure alcohol from sugar beets. If I had to choose, this one would win hands down, every time. As a matter of fact, it does. The Cosmopolitan is sophistication and fun with a twist of lemon. Fred and Ginger in a glass, one might say.


(Originally written with love for The Boelter Superstore)


Jul 272012

Let The Games Begin!

The 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies are just beginning. Yahoo! I love the Olympics. I love the music; I love the outfits, and I LOVE Bob Costas. With each and every video montage, I will become invested in the lives of perfect strangers, the Gods of sport. I will cheer them on to victory, and I will weep for them in defeat. They will astound me as I sit on the couch—a bag of Cheetos in one hand, a Miller Lite in the other—and celebrate their dedication, determination, physical fitness, and their athleticism. But…badminton? What the…?

It’s a questionable one, right? It’s pretend tennis. It’s the day your high school gym teacher had a hangover. I have a hard time getting excited about a “sport” that is played at backyard barbecues alongside the corn hole toss and the potato sack races. If you can do it in Docksiders and Bermuda shorts, with a gin and tonic in your hand (without spilling), and be pretty good at it, does it really qualify as an Olympic sport? If you’ve seen your eighty-year-old grandmother do it, and do it well, does it qualify as a “sport” at all?

They say the shuttlecock travels at speed in excess of 400 miles per hour. And?  Wad up a piece of Kleenex and throw it at the person sitting next to you. Synchronized diving off a 10-meter high concrete platform, intimidating, a shuttlecock made out of goose feathers coming at you at 400 miles per hour, not so much. They say badminton requires lightening fast reactions. So? Sometimes getting to the bathroom requires lightening fast reactions.

Still, the badminton players trained (even it was with a quarter barrel), they are dedicated, they are determined, and they made it to the Olympics. So I will watch, I will cheer, and I will weep.

Let the games begin!

Jul 102012

This was the last sentence of a consent form that I signed the other day…

“I am aware that the practice of medicine and diagnostic imaging is not an exact science and I acknowledge that no guarantees have been made to me concerning the results of the procedure.” (I read: If we F this up, you’re SOL).

Wouldn’t it be great if every job that required “customer” service had its own consent form?

Here’s how the one at the DMV would read:

“I am aware the practice of issuing all things vehicle related is not an exact science. I acknowledge that my entire morning will be shot, standing in line. I understand that I am not allowed to ask what the hell is taking so long, because that would be insensitive to the “workers” who are busy painting their ridiculously long fingernails, or simply staring at the walls. No matter how bad it gets, I will not comment on the smell. And I know my picture is going to look like shit, because the camera was specifically designed (during the Hoover administration) to make everyone (including Mother Theresa) look like an escaped convict.”

Tech Support:

I am aware the practice of offering technical support, whether it be for phone, internet, e-mail or cable TV access, is not an exact science (even though it kinda is). I agree to believe that my technician’s given name really is “Steve,” if he agrees to believe that I look exactly like Julia Roberts. Despite the fact that I’ve already tried it ten times, I will not complain when Steve asks me to shut down and restart my computer. And when “Steve” finally determines that my issue will require a tech visit, I acknowledge that no guarantees can be made regarding the words “between one and five.”   

Oh, how I wish we had one of these back when I was a caterer…

“I am aware that the practice of catering is not an exact science. Food does get dropped and spilled. Electricity goes out, ice melts in the heat, pets have hair, glassware breaks—especially the really expensive stuff, and some guests can be major assholes. They are my friends, after all, not the friends of my caterer. I acknowledge that my caterer can make no guarantees regarding the sobriety of our musicians, the condition of the bouncy-house, or the behavior of the ponies.  And, contrary to what I might believe, my caterer has absolutely no control over the weather. For assistance on this front, I will need to petition the Infant of Prague, Mother Nature and/or God Himself.”

Hope you have enjoyed reading.

The practice of blog writing is not an exact science.