Something I Read Today: Top 12 Foods To Eat Organic

I came across this article on today, The Dirty Dozen: Top 12 Foods to Eat Organic

Sure enough, it's a reiteration of lists that have come before. But, I thought it was a nice update (and a solemn reminder that the pesticide levels have NOT decreased in lovely things like peaches, strawberries). The addition of meat and dairy to the standard list of produce is an important one, I think, since both involve fats that retain a high level of pesticides & other nasties. Coffee is another one that hasn't appeared on other lists I've seen.

The list, in brief:

  1. Meat
  2. Dairy
  3. Coffee
  4. Peaches
  5. Apples
  6. Sweet Bell Peppers
  7. Celery
  8. Strawberries
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes
  11. Potatoes
  12. Tomatoes

I also thought this list was a nice reminder of the fruits/veggies that are less risky. Buy these if you can't find organic:

  1. asparagus
  2. broccoli
  3. brussels sprouts, cabbage
  4. eggplant
  5. kiwi
  6. pineapple
  7. raspberries


Home Safe Home

The drive home from Minneapolis turned out to be a rather treacherous adventure. With record snowfalls predicted, we drove as far as Wisconsin Dells on Thursday night before the snow started to fall (and we stopped for a lovely dinner on the way, which you can read about on the BURP! blog). Turns out that our initial precautions weren't quite enough; the remainder of the drive home was a serious nail-biter, and it took nearly four hours for us to get home (normally, it's about a 2 hour trek, or so). But, here we are -- safe and sound.

We left the Dells around 8:30am yesterday, and got home around 12:30pm. The snow totals were impressive, even then. But, they've gotten even better in the meantime. Good Friday services were cancelled at church. Roads became impassable. All the progress we'd made toward spring (and melting off that big February storm) has now been officially lost.

This morning, we awoke to a wopping 12 inches of total accumulation. Enough to break records. Not only did we break a record for March 22 snow totals, but we've now officially experienced the SECOND snowiest winter on record. Before yesterday, we were in fifth place.

Here are the official stats, as reported by the weather service:
1885-1886: 109.8 inches
2007-2008: 96 inches
1897-1898: 94.2 inches
1959-1960: 93.3 inches

And here we are, this morning, all "dug out." I'm disappointed to report that we don't have the cool "snow art" on our roof that the February storm brought (despite the fact that this storm actually dumped more snow. But, you'll note that the snow is already beginning to melt in this picture. That IS the one nice thing about a March snowstorm; the snow it leaves behind doesn't usually last very long at all.

Read more about "Real March Madness" at JSONLINE.


On the Road

If you're wondering why we've been a bit silent on the blog this week, it's because the Peef and Lo Show has been on the road! Peef is on business; but, I'm just here enjoying the view.

Right now, we're hanging out in Minneapolis.
The weather has been fantabulous (sunny, in the 40's... perfect Midwestern spring weather). Looks like things are taking a turn this evening, though. So, we're going to get a head start on our trek home just as soon as we can.

But, that's getting ahead of myself. We've had a great week!
It started with our super Irish dinner on Monday night. We gathered with some of our favorite people around the blarney stone (this is a plant-filled rock that we bought a couple of years ago to enhance our annual St. Patrick's Day feasting), swilled green beer and feasted on corned beef, cabbage gratin, carrots, and smashed garlic potatoes. 'Twas a delight.

We left for Minneapolis on Tuesday. We took our time getting here, and were pretty tired on arrival. So, we checked into our hotel and had dinner at one of our favorite spots nearby, the Newsroom. Paul enjoyed a southwestern chicken flatbread pizza with a side of grilled asparagus, and I had salmon with caper sauce, sauteed vegetables, and roasted fingerling potatoes. We capped the night off with a bit of Irish coffee (might as well continue the St. Pat's celebration, right?).

Last night, after Paul finished his business for the day, we took a ride southward and enjoyed a fantastic dinner with Paul's parents, who live about 45 minutes from the Cities. It was great to see them, and we had a nice time chatting and catching up.

Today... looks busy. Meetings with Target & Best Buy will dopple the day. And I might just get a short fix at the (*gasp*) Mall of America while I'm waiting for him to finish up. Why not, right?


Prepping for St. Pats

So, the big feast day is upon us. And we're getting psyched.

The fact that I'm Irish helps out a great deal.
I was always proud of my Irish heritage. I have my mom to thank for that. She instilled a healthy belief in leprechauns and rainbows, and convinced all of us kids that we should be proud to be among the Lucky Irish. Now, I realize that that's just PART of what it means to be Irish -- but as a child, it was quite enough. And it really shouldn't surprise you then, when I say that St. Patrick's Day was always a big deal around my house.

I recall that our lunches that day contained all sorts of "green" stuff (including sweet treats that would NEVER have passed inspection on any other day), and Mom always made a traditional Irish "boiled dinner" that night (corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots). My parents didn't usually drink, but on St. Patrick's Day they hauled out a bit of beer (dyed green for our amusement). It got to be a very big deal. And I can't remember a year when I didn't come home (from college or otherwise) to celebrate with my family.

A few years ago, I took over the traditional Irish dinner. Yeah, yeah -- I know that corned beef isn't traditional. And I'm fully aware that green beer isn't all that "authentic" either. But, it's all done in good fun, and I can't really picture it any other way.

Go mbeannaí Dia duit.


A "Just Right" Sort of Weekend

Our weekend in brief:
  • Friday night, we rented the first season of Dexter. (The concept behind the show really intrigues me, and we heard that the unedited version is FAR better than the one they've been showing on our local television channel. So, we decided to give it a shot.) AND we made homemade pizza (cheese, sausage, red pepper, and onion on sourdough crust).
  • Saturday, we babysat for Reagan (my sister's baby) during the day, and then stuck around to visit with Keri & Dave. We got home pretty late. So, we were both pretty tired this morning when we pryed ourselves out of bed to go to church.
As great as that sounds, today was really the pinnacle of the weekend. It's unbelieveable how much we got done -- and how much relaxing we managed to do in between all the activity.

After church (which we managed NOT to sleep through) and a round of grocery shopping (during which we picked up all the fixings for tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day feast), we made ourselves an unusually scrumptious brunch of chilaquiles with chipotle field roast (our new favorite non-meat product) and fried eggs, prepared over-easy. We sipped a bit of coffee and read the paper. And THEN, we tackled an incredible amount of house work, which we finished in record time. After the housework, I cut Peef's hair (few people know that I am his barber, and that's a good thing). We sat around for a bit after that, reading more of the paper (bonus!).

And now we're just about to settle in for the night. I'm working on transforming some leftover broccoli soup into a lovely pasta sauce by adding some roasted garlic, a whirl of cream, and a bit of parmesan cheese. We'll have that with a bit of garlic bread, if I get my way, and a glass of Chardonnay. After dinner, I think we'll watch a couple more episodes of Dexter and I'll work on finalizing my St. Patrick's Day menu.

Mmm. St. Patrick's Day.
It's about the only thing I can think of that could be better than this weekend.


It must be spring!

Spring has got to be close at hand, cuz we're getting antsy.

I've got my seed catalogs in hand. And, although I haven't committed to exactly what's going to take up space in our two little raised beds, I'm eager to begin getting my hands dirty. Paul is also dusting off his "honorary farmer" clothes in preparation for the work that lies ahead. He pointed out to me that we can "almost see dirt" underneath all that snow. So, summer is due anytime now.

Secondly, we've started to think about a CSA membership. We belonged to TIPI last year (we split a share with our friends Steph & Nate). This year, we're not only contemplating switching farms, but we're also thinking about whether or not we can tackle a share on our own.

It's always a tough decision. After all, we LOVE spending time at the farmer's markets in town. And we love having our own (albeit small) urban vegetable garden. And a full share (meant to feed two voracious veg-heads, or an average family of 4) might just give us enough food so that we wouldn't have much need for those backyard tomatoes or an extra trip to the market. THEN AGAIN, we also love the idea of storing up extra veggies for the long Wisconsin winter. And a full share would give us a chance to do a bit more of that. So, we're going to give the idea a fair shot.
Right now, here's a sampling of the farms in the running:

Something I Read Today: Article about Anthropologie

I found this article while surfing around today for something else. And I found it pretty interesting.

I don't think we have an Anthropologie yet in Milwaukee (though things seem to be cropping up here every day). But, I've been meandered in the store in Seattle, and I believe there was also one in Iowa City (or another place where I lived once... apparently age has destroyed a few of my brain cells that control vivid memory).

I totally agree that Anthropologie is an experience more than anything. And it's one of the few places that seems to do a pretty fine job of marketing itself to me (despite the fact that I'm probably on the lowest end of their income scale). So very UNlike the Abercrombie & Fitches of the the world, which actually SCARE me more than anything.

If you ask me, more businesses really need to start taking cues from the likes of them (and Starbucks, for that matter). This is the sort of creative energy that I see taking retail into the future.


Found Grocery List #2

A few of you have pointed out that we're not the first to be interested in found grocery lists. In fact, if you're interested in the concept, this site is pretty amazing. And there's a BOOK out there as well.

But, that isn't stopping us.
We're pleased to present the second in our "Found Grocery List" series.

Found Grocery List #2 (front and back)_

Found at: Outpost Natural Foods, abandoned in a stray shopping cart

Points of interest (or "What we DO know about this list):

  • We happen to know that Juusto is a type of cheese, and it is very delicious
  • Kefir is also quite good, and it's filled with beneficial pro-biotics.

Some questions this particular piece raises:

  1. What in the world is #5 from the top?
  2. What about the last item on the list?
  3. What type of assertions can we make about someone who writes his/her grocery list on the back of a technical spec sheet?

What do you think?


Something I Read Today: Forbidden Fruits

I ran across this article from the NY Times yesterday, and took it home to read last night.

I was attracted to it, in part, because it's written by a farmer -- and I was interested in his point of view.

I'm now wondering if this is one of the reasons why our friends, living in Fargo, can't find a decent farmer's market in their area. Maybe the farmers can't afford to grow (and sell) local fruits and veggies in the first place...



Peef and Lo Love Cake!

One thing we learned this weekend is that we REALLY love cake. We love baking cakes. We love decorating cakes. And we especially love eating cake.

Late on Friday, we decided to make a cake for Brandon's birthday party on Saturday.
It started off innocently enough.
  1. First we mixed up the basics.
  2. Then we added chocolate.
  3. Finally, we poured the cake into our prepared pan.

Then, we decided to make it a three-layer chocolate butter cake with mint cookies & cream filling & buttercream frosting (made with Italian meringue).

And that's when the fun began.

This is how much butter it took to make the fabulous, fluffy buttercream frosting (eep!):

When the cake was assembled and filled, we decorated it using little candy diamonds from the cake decorating store.

Paul even separated them by color to make the process easier.

The cake was so very delicious with a scoop of homemade vanilla bean icecream:


And the Winner IS...

Behold! The February Soup Night Champion:

(sorry to those of you who were waiting with baited breath... We promised to post on Friday, but completely forgot!)

Speaking of Laundry

...turns out our Maytag (which is just under five years old) is dying.

The first indication of trouble was the horrendous sound the machine started to make while entering the spin cycle. If you can imagine the sound of a jet engine taking off in the basement, you've pretty much got the idea. Despite the fact that the machine still effectively cleaned our skivvies, it was becoming increasingly difficult to squeeze a nap in during our Saturday afternoon laundry sessions. So, we decided to take action. After some solemn consideration of the matter, and an overly optimistic inspection of the inner workings of the machine, we felt it might be prudent to get a professional opinion.

Turns out, we have a failed "triple lip" seal. Since warm, soapy water can now get to the "milkstool" and bearing, the mechanism is rusting. The rusting is causing the loud, aeroplane-like screaching sound. According to the repairman that we called to take a look, this is an all-too-common scenerio. The seal itself is (apparently) a serious pain to fix. A professional will charge about $200 (labor alone) for the job, and from the reading I've done, it's a pretty nasty do-it-yourself project. So, I think it's worth our time and energy to consider a replacement.

I've been doing a bit of reading, and apparently our repairman wasn't feeding us a line. Some people have reported their washing machines dying a similar death in 3 years or less! I guess this should make me feel better. But, the reality is, it makes me angry. Washing machines used to be made to last. And now, it seems, they're disposable items, made to self-destruct. Like so many other things.

We're contemplating the new front-loaders; but, overall efficiency aside, I'm not sure if I'm ready to shell out the cash. I am giving some serious consideration to utilizing our local laundromat. After all, I could do five loads at once there (saving precious time), and I'm nearly positive it would cost me less than $100/year (which, at this rate, is what it costs me for the convenience of simply owning a machine -- the cost of the energy to run it not included).

But, we're up for suggestions/opinions, if you happen to have any.