Halloween at Work!

If you thought that work was all seriousness and productivity, think again. Here's Paul hamming it up with his colleague, Chris, in their "All Hal's Eve" get-up.


Baby Shower Weekend

Lo's sister, Keri, is having a baby. A girl sortofa baby. In November. And her name will be Reagan. I'm not sure we've shared the news with you before now. But, it's an important detail. Especially since we're about to tell you about a baby shower.

Now, Lo has been secretly planning this baby shower for her for quite some time. However, since it was supposed to be a big surprise, we couldn't share it with you here until it had come and gone. Now is that time.

The shower was scheduled for Saturday (October 27th), and it would be held at Lo's parents brand new house. Since much preparation was needed, both Peef and Lo took off of work and they set out to Kewaskum bright and early on Friday morning. With help from Lo's mom, Peef and Lo spent the day cooking and decorating. Lo baked and frosted almost 80 cupcakes (also 93 mini cream puffs, 125 cinnamon rolls, dips, spreads, and all sorts of goodies). After the cooking was completed, the team decorated the whole house with ribbons, flowers, helium balloons, and darling little onesies. Lo's grandmother pitched in by arranging flowers. And Lo set up an "art station" with fabric paints, white burp cloths, t-shirts, and onesies for decorating.

By 10:30am on Saturday, we were ready to roll. We'd prepped everything, decorated the house, and laid out platters of fruits, vegetables, crackers, and spreads on the buffet table. Lo drove off to pick up Keri. And Paul manned the ovens, reheating the spanikopita, mini quiches, and meatballs. Guests began to arrive around 11am, and the shower went off without a hitch.
We're VERY pleased to report that everyone seemed to have a very good time, including Keri -- who also received a very nice supply of baby diapers, clothing, and other necessities (including a car seat -- which will be integral to getting little Reagan HOME after she's born!).

Thanks to EVERYONE for making this event a success! And double to those of you who had to keep it a secret!!


Cookies for a Cause

So, I ran across the concept for a "Drop In And Decorate" party today, and I thought I'd share. Seems like the idea of decorating cookies for charity is a pretty good one. And I applaud good old King Arthur for their philanthropy.

Gosh, this concept sounds like a load of fun.
Unfortunately, right now, we're crazy-busy at our house. And I'm in the midst of planning out a "soup night" concept for this winter (more on that later). So, I'm going to file the cookie party idea for a later date. Maybe one of you will beat me to it (which would be great)! Be sure to invite me!


The BBBBB - Beers, Broads, Burgers and Billiards... and a BOY

Friday night marked the first official BBBBB event -- Beer, Broads, Burgers, Billiards... and a BOY (my good friend Rebecca pointed out the Paul needed somewhere to fit into the picture)!
Attending: Peef (the Boy), Lo, Rebecca, and Michelle (the Broads)

The event kicked off with a visit to our VERY FAVORITE Lakefront Brewery for their environmental brewery tour. When we arrived, we were whisked off into the magical world of "green brewing" -- which included tales of locally grown organic hops and various elements of "green certification" (Lakefront was the first brewery in the nation to be certified green).

Along the way, we partook in a variety of Lakefront beers -- sampling Eastside Dark, Riverwest Stein, Pumpkin Lager, and a small host of others (observe the lovely tappers above). We also got the chance to climb up inside the infamous chalet that used to be home to "Bernie Brewer," Milwaukee Brewers mascot (see Peef and Lo below). Bernie was a beloved fixture at the old Milwaukee County Stadium. Following each Brewers' homer, he would slide down from his chalet and plunge himself into a huge beer mug to celebrate the victory!

Having completed our tour, Rebecca declared it "The Best Brewery Tour EVER!" And we all concurred.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at one of our favorite little spots - Trocadero, where two of the Broads, Rebecca and Lori, ate the prerequisite burgers (turkey burgers, complete with black pepper boursin -- YUM), and everyone drank a bit more beer. Then, we headed off for an evening of pool (er, Billiards) at Rebecca & Michelle's place (complete with a bit of beer sampling)! One of the beers we sampled came from the Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Brewery in Michigan. We mistook it for a pumpkin ale (thanks to the Jolly Pumpkin label)... and were surprised to find it was, instead, Bam Bière... a funny little dry-hopped ale that we all agreed was, er, "different."

Despite that one (tiny) foible, a Good Time (capital G, capital T) was had by all, and the event was declared a success.


Meatloaf Appreciation Day!

And here we are -- smack dab in the middle of Meatloaf Appreciation Day! We were sad to realize that we missed the deadline to participate in Serious Eats Meatloaf Appreciation Day celebration. But, we wanted you to know that we made a meatloaf last night... in the SPIRIT of the day.

It's our favorite meatloaf -- with turkey, apples, and thyme. And, if that didn't sound good enough all by itself, it's served with a lovely shiitake mushroom gravy. Read about that very LOAF at Burp!


Birthday on the Bayou

I wanted to do something special for Lo's birthday dinner, since (overall) I believe myself to be a fairly nice husband. I was running out of ideas, when the phone rang. It was Lo, calling to tell me that her parents decided that THEY would like to take her out for her birthday. I was saved!

After some conversation about where we might GO for dinner, Lo's exceedingly thoughtful parents drove down from their pad in Kewaskum, and we ventured out to Bayou, a quaint cajun/creole joint overlooking the Milwaukee River.

The evening started off with Fried Green Tomatoes (Lo's one wish) and Crab Cakes (Lo's mom's favorite). The crab cakes were fairly good. But, the green tomatoes were the hands-down winner, breaded thoroughly, fried to crisp perfection, and seasoned with just a HINT of cinnamon. They were served with a cajun remoulade that complemented perfectly.

For dinner, Lo ordered Jambalaya, and I had the Panko Crusted Ahi Tuna (one of the night's specials). Mom had the Grilled Salmon Cake & Shrimp and Dad had creole meatloaf stuffed with spinach and oysters (the other special for the evening). Everyone enjoyed their main courses, the only complaint being that the shrimp in Lo's jambalaya seemed just a hair too "shrimpy" for her taste -- indicating they may not have been as fresh as fresh could be. Considering Milwaukee's Midwestern locale along witht he fact that it was a Monday night, I am guessing the shrimp were leftover from the weekend.

The night ended with a FABULOUS array of well-executed desserts. And, if I chose one reason to return to Bayou in the future, this would be IT. Lo relished the Pecan Pie with homemade Sweet Potato ice cream, Mom had some booze flavored Creme Brulee, and Dad had the Key Lime pie. I had the Banana Bread Pudding with Vanilla Custard (also homemade) and a rum sauce. Our waitress told us that all items were made in-house -- and that fact became obvious as we sampled. Each dessert was exquisite -- a symphony of flavors and textures.

The atmosphere at Bayou is pleasant. A bit dark, perhaps, but definitely pleasant. The dining room has a view of the river -- and the patio seating makes me think this is a place we might wish to return to when the weather is a bit balmier. The modern decor is Jetsonesque, with some distinct signs of an Asian influence (think Japanese lanterns with modern architectural flair). Prices were on the higher side for entrees (and drinks from the bar were OFF the map). But, the wine list was reasonably priced, and our dessert experience more than made up for the bit of sticker shock at the end of the meal.

Overall, Bayou gets a thumb's up from this gator.


Weekend happenings and getting older

Lo's Birthday week (yes week...there is no way you can get everything done in a day anymore) is underway, and this is what we have been up to...

Friday night we went out with a couple of friends Rebecca and Michelle to a fantastic little joint called Comet Cafe. It's a half bar/half diner atmosphere and a favorite spot for Lo and I to frequent. Lo had the veggie gyro and I had the breaded chicken with buttermilk taters and ginger broccoli. Michelle had the seared tuna sandwich and Rebecca enjoyed the cheesy beef roast sandwich. If you get a chance to go, I would recommend the mac and cheese.

Saturday we spent the morning in bed. Before you go thinking that we stayed out too late, the truth is that I was not wanting to turn the heat on and the air outside of bed seemed threatening. So, it was nice and warm just hanging out under the covers. When we finally decided that we can't waste much more of our morning, and that the cold would not be the end of us, we got up and went to the farmer's market (bought a TON of squash from a funny little farm that offers a "blue light special" at the end of every summer -- fill up a blue bag and pay only $8. Our bag was almost splitting at the seams!) We then made our way up to Mequon to pick some apples and some pumpkins. After about 5 minutes into picking apples, it dawned on us that we forgot our, no pix. Sorry. We promise to be better at taking our camera with us in the future. (!!!)

Saturday evening, we made our way over to Izumi's and ordered some sushi. Typically, I do the ordering and call it in and we pick it up. Tonight, however, we decided to just go in and order and wait for it. It was close to 7 pm, so parking was limited. I told Lo to just hop out and order, and I would drive around and find a spot and then meet her in the restaurant. I drove around the block all of once and landed a sweet spot just around the corner. I walk in and see Lori's mouth drop open. She turns to me and says "I don't know what I just did?" The woman rang up everything I ordered, and it seemed a bit higher than normal. So I asked what she ordered. Spicy tuna, eel, the sashimi appetizer...everything seemed to be right. Then she proceeded to tell me that she ordered 2 of most things. Well that would explain it! Needless to say, there was no fear of going hungry that night. There was PLENTY of sushi to go around.

Sunday we decided to do healthy brunch at home and then make salmon for dinner. Lo (silly Lo!) had scheduled her annual doctor's appointment for Monday morning; so, she was looking forward to a fast for her cholesterol screening. The whole idea behind eating healthy on Sunday was that we would eat something not so bad so maybe the test would be not so bad as well. Brunch included fantastic "field meat" sausages and eggs with spinach and almond "cheddar style" cheese. As we were cooking, I declared that if we need to become vegan for health reasons, I would do it. Lo smirked. We ended up deciding that it might be a good thing to go a month as vegetarians because we are not sure that vegan is right for us completely. And if I can quickly comment on almond "cheddar style" cheese, it shreds wonderfully and melts great just like the package says. The one thing that the package does not address is the lack of cheddar style cheese flavor. In with the spinach and eggs there just did not seem to be a nice cheddar aroma or flavor. What I did like was that there was no noticeable "fake cheese" flavor or texture which is sometimes the case with non-dairy cheese. Regardless, this was our first adventure using almond cheese, and probably will not be our last.

Now...where was I? Oh yes, brunch. And then after brunch there was the Sunday Paper Reading. This is where Lo and I go through the Sunday paper and read the 4 sections that we like (Entree, Cue, Metro, Comics, and sometimes the Real Estate section just to see what houses are selling for in our area...). We also go through some of the advertisements that clutter the paper. This time it was Boston Store. And this time it was announcing that today is the last day for Capacity Days. Lo has been secretly needing some retail therapy, but with the new car and other financial crunches, the traditional "Take Lo Shopping for Her Birthday" seemed bleak. Until we decided that maybe we could just go and spend the rainy afternoon there. You know...just to look. :) So, we went and looked. She found some nice basic jackets and a couple of shirts for work which will replace those that have now been discarded from the closet and are waiting to be taken to Goodwill.

The birthday week continues tonight with a fantastic meal that we will discuss at a later date. For now...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LO!


It's CHEESE, Grommit!

OOOh. Now, here is something about which Peef and Lo can get excited! Artisanal cheese!

Our local co-op has a very nice selection of cheeses made by local artisans... and, of course, our local (but evil) Whole Foods has a nice offering as well. But, this store sounds like a place where we'll have to visit the next time we're in the Madison area. With a name like Fromagination, who could possibly resist??

Speaking of cheese -- Lo is going to the doctor on Monday. And she will be undergoing a cholesterol screening. Despite the fact that her numbers came out JUST FINE in 2005, she's a bit nervous. After all, she does love her cheese...


Empty Bowls

Although it's not looking good, I am really hoping that we can rework our schedule so that we can participate in Empty Bowls this year. Such a fantastic program -- and the largest Public Empty Bowls event in the U.S. to boot.

Here's the concept: Through the commitment and services of community volunteers, artists and restaurants, and the sale of handcrafted ceramic bowls, soups and breads, the Milwaukee Empty Bowls annual fund-raising event is dedicated to supporting local food and hunger programs.


Paper Back Issues: News From Peef And Lo

For those of you who might be interested, I've put together an archive of the "News from Peef and Lo" newsletter, which used to be delivered quarterly, in paper form.

Check it out at

The Amazing Towering Rosebush

And now, it's time for another episode of Living Myths With Peef & Lo.
This installment features a happy abberation -- the miraculous 8 foot rose bush, which graces the flower garden in front of Peef & Lo's home.

We planted this particular rose about two years ago. It behaved in a perfectly normal fashion until about September of this year. That's when it had a remarkable growth spurt.

We've taken a photo of the bush so you can see just how tall it's gotten:

Lest any of you suspect we have some gardening prowess which might have contributed to this marvel, I would assure you that it's not true. We do fertilize our roses in the spring; but, aside from that, our gardening secret is neglect, neglect, and even more neglect.


Bok-Slaw is Only So-So

The results are in. Peef and Lo agree that, Bok choy, while it WORKS for chipotle slaw (and is a somewhat tasty substitute for cabbage), is not optimal. So, you won't be seeing a new bok-slaw recipe on the BURP! blog anytime soon.

On the other hand, Lo is drooling in anticipation of her lunch today.
A pumpkin bagel with hummus. Mmm. Droolfest.


Creative Ways with Bok Choy...

So, it's nearing the end of the work day for me. (Well, actually, my work day has ALREADY officially ended, but I am biding time before I leave work to go and pick up Peef --yes, we are still getting by with one car.) And so, I have begun to contemplate dinner.

The PLAN for dinner was to make stir-fry with the lovely bok choy we received from our CSA this week. As well as a lovely eggplant we harvested on Tuesday from our garden.

But, alas.
Stir-fry does NOT tantalize my intellectual taste-buds. Bok choy doesn't sound remotely appealing. Neither does eggplant.

So, I've consulted with Peef over email. He agrees. Stir-fry is a completely inappropriate dinner for this lovely evening. So, we discussed matters and have decided to make our famous fish tacos instead.

But, what of the lovely fresh-and-local bok choy? you might ask.
Well, we are going to make "bok-slaw" with it for the tacos (the equally fresh and delicious eggplant will have to keep and be used elsewise).

I'll report back to let you know if that turns out to be a GOOD thing.


Banned Books in a Rich Tomatillo Sauce

OK -- first, a clarification.
Yes, I'm serious about celebrating Banned Books Week. Does that make me a geek? Maybe. As some of you may know, I did work at a book store for quite a number of years during my college years. And we ALWAYS celebrated banned books week. In fact, I was the bookseller whose usual charge was to gather materials for a BBW display in the store. So, that's why I devoted an entire blog entry to it. And that's why I'm going to encourage you to visit The File Room, one of the most comprehensive reviews of censorship ever put together. And check out the "Literature" section. Pretty cool. If you're that kindofa geek too.

And second, a blog posting.
For those of you who don't have a particular interest in reading banned books (though I can't really forgive you for that), I can offer you some alternative reading.

A bit of comment from Dave Eggers on Monte Python (interview with Matt Dellinger) - in honor of the broadway version of Spamalot, which is coming to Milwaukee this spring. Or maybe some modern day "Dear Abby" for the office?

We actually did a little bit of reading this weekend ourselves -- though, not a ton, as we spent a good deal of our time cooking up scads of tomatillo sauce to sock away for the winter.

For those of you turning up your noses, I have to tell you: Tomatillo sauce is a wondrous thing -- and oh-so-versatile. We love it poured over black bean enchiladas, or swaddling a potato gratin. We've been known to add it to our chili or use it as a sauce for fishes. Even my mother has been drawn in by the velvety green elixer (she likes to put it in the crockpot with pork chops and let it work its magic).

Our sauce generally starts with about 100 tomatillos -- cute little green fruits, which resemble small tomatoes, only with a protective husk on their exterior. Add to that about 10 chiles, a few onions, some garlic, and a bit of time alone with a broiler and a blender, and you have all it takes to make a vat of lovely sauce.

I meant to write an ODE to the adorable green fruit -- to post right here, for all of you to see (and make fun of). But, alas, I've run out of time. Feel free to make fun of something else I've written.