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Go Take a Hike: Our Trail Adventure at Spring Green Prairie

Did you know that we have a desert here in Wisconsin? With cacti and lizards, sand dunes and dry grasses? And that it’s just 45 minutes west of Madison? Yup. It’s the Spring Green Preserve and harbors some of Wisconsin’s rarest plant communities. Known as the “Wisconsin Desert”, the preserve is a place where forest meets bluff, and bluff levels off into plains and dunes. A client of mine mentioned how he went on a wonderful hike there a few months back and thought that Heather and I would enjoy it too. This past weekend we put on our hiking shoes and went on an adventure. The views and scenery did not disappoint. We walked on some of the finest sand I’ve ever felt and were surrounded by oak barrens, sumac, blue stem grass and wildflowers. With camera in hand, Heather identified and snapped pictures of prairie plants and the landscape. At one point, she stopped walking, took a deep breath, looked around and said how much she enjoyed being there. 

There is something both energizing and peaceful about going on a hike. Nature, fresh air, scenic views. For me, my mind relaxes. My eyes relax. My muscles relax. We didn’t have a specific time to return to the car or mileage we wanted to accomplish or particular views that we had to see. Just enjoying. Being in the moment. Step after step. Breathing. What’s around the next bend?  We took a break every now and then to observe and to listen to the birds and grasshoppers. So if you want to get off of the beaten path, check out the Spring Green Prairie

Starting out on our hike with the bluffs as a beautiful backdrop.

Prickly pear cactus.

Sumac turns red this time of year.

 

 

Go Take a Hike: Our Trail Adventure at Spring Green Prairie2022-10-03T13:01:38-05:00

Chicken Lentil Soup Recipe

The temperatures are cooling down and the days are getting shorter. It’s what I call perfect soup weather. Yesterday I made a chicken lentil soup and it turned out great!  Warm walnut sourdough bread was served on the side. Yum! 

 

Ingredients

2 tsp grapeseed oil

1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken thigh meat cut into 1/2″ pieces

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

3 ribs of celery, chopped

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cups lentils, rinsed 

6 cups water

1 tsp chicken base

2 Tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp ground rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

 

Directions

  • To a pot add the grape seed oil and set heat to medium/high. Add chicken pieces and cook until done; about 10 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Then add carrots, celery and onion. Once vegetables are soft, add thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir frequently.
  • Next add water, chicken base, lentils and bay leaf. Make sure to stir occasionally so food doesn’t stick to bottom of pot. Bring water/broth to boil then reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add halved tomatoes and cook approximately 60 minutes. Ready to serve and enjoy.
Chicken Lentil Soup Recipe2022-09-15T10:25:57-05:00

Pele: Why Soccer Matters book review

I have been my 9 year old son’s soccer coach for a few years, and as we started the spring season, I encouraged all of my players to watch the 2016 movie Pele: Birth of a Legend. It is one of my favorite sports movies and features one of my favorite soccer players of all time, Pele. It’s inspirational, uplifting, encourages teamwork and shows Brazil’s “beautiful game.”  As a kid who played several years of AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) and high school soccer, wearing the coveted #10 jersey was not only an indicator of your position as an attacking midfielder or playmaker, but #10 was worn by the incredible Pele. Other legendary players like Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldinho and Messi have worn #10 as well.

As an aside, if you are interested in improving in a sport or athletic endeavor, I strongly encourage you to watch videos and read books about your favorite athlete(s) in your chosen sport(s). They motivate, educate and illustrate how they became successful. As you watch them employ a perfect serve and volley in tennis, for example, not only are you watching how it should be done, but you can picture yourself doing the same thing. I can recall many, many, many times watching the documentary Pumping Iron before or after a weight training workout. This featured bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu. Let’s just say I was pumped. 

June 11th, 2022 was the last game for coaching my spring soccer season. When I was packing up and say my goodbyes, Tom, one of my soccer players, and his father came over and presented me with a gift. I opened it and was delighted to see the book Pele: Why Soccer Matters.  Written by Pele and Brian Winter, they share some of Pele’s heartwarming stories and hard-won wisdom. The book was published in 2014 when Pele was 73 years old, and as opposed to athletes who write autobiographies in the prime of their career, Pele has a unique perspective on the game of soccer (and life) decades after his retirement. I was always excited to pick the book up and read the next chapter. As a matter of fact, I finished it in under a week, which is record time for me :-) What I came away with most was watching him mature as a player and a person. Adjusting his priorities as he got older and wiser. Even if you’re not a futbol fan, I strongly recommend this book. You will be inspired.

 

 

Pele: Why Soccer Matters book review2022-07-05T14:58:02-05:00

Authentic Filipino Food Made Right Here in Middleton

In a food rut? How about a cuisine you haven’t tried before: Filipino! Our friend and neighbor, Berna Zehntner, makes delicious Filipino cuisine. Originally from the Philippines, she prepares authentic Filipino meals with love right out of her home.  Call her to order up a new culinary experience.  

Check out some of the dishes she prepares  (prices and contact info. below):

Filipino Curry 

Lumpia (Filipino Springrolls)

Pork Skewers

Shrimp Pancit

Pork Adobo

Palabok Noodles with Shrimp Sauce &

Chop Suey Filipino Mix with Quail Eggs

Chicken Adobo

 

PRICING (most served in 12 x 10 x 3″ Deep Table Steam Pans – confirm with Berna)

Pancit (Filipino noodles dish like Lo Mein)

-Shrimp $45

-Chicken $40

-Pork $40

Palabok Filipino Noodles with Shrimp Sauce $40

Lumpia Springrolls $1.50 per piece

Filipino Skewers 

-Chicken $2.50 per piece

-Pork $2.50 per piece

-Beef $3.00 per piece

Pork Adobo $ 50

 . . . and MORE

*For details contact Bernadeth Zehtner at (608) 335-5708

Authentic Filipino Food Made Right Here in Middleton2022-03-22T11:17:36-05:00

TOTAL Leg Workout in UNDER 20 Minutes!

Do you feel like you don’t have a lot of time to exercise? How about 20 minutes? Check out my 3-minute video and see how you can do a TOTAL leg workout in less than 20 minutes.

TOTAL Leg Workout in UNDER 20 Minutes!2022-03-20T09:47:31-05:00

Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe

Last night I made a Chicken Curry and Sweet Potato recipe from the Willy Street Coop READER, January 2022. As always, I made some changes based on what ingredients we had in the kitchen and our personal taste. For example, I used dried basil in place of fresh basil, omitted the salt, cut the sugar in half, used ginger powder in place of fresh ginger and used a fraction of the red pepper flakes that the original recipe called for. And the result? It turned out great! It was the best chicken curry I have EVER made if I do say so myself. The lemongrass and fish sauce brought out the Thai flavors.  The coconut milk made the sauce velvety. And it was super easy to prepare. About 20 minutes prep time and 40 minutes cook time. It was so good that there were no leftovers. Try it out and let me know what you think!

 

Ingredients

3 Tbsp curry powder

2 lbs chicken thighs, sliced into 1/2″ pieces

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

2 lemongrass stalks

1 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 pounds sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 1/2 coconut milk

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp dried basil

Directions

Place the chicken pieces in a dish or container and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the curry powder. Mix to coat and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a medium pot or deep skillet over medium-to-high heat. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper and last tablespoon of curry powder. Stir until fragrant, about 10-15 seconds. Add the chicken and cook until the edges turn golden, 7-8 minutes. Stir in the fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, ginger and chicken broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and add carrots. After about 10-12 minutes, pour in the coconut milk. Fold in onions, sweet potatoes and basil and simmer for 15-18 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot over basmati rice.

 

Notice the two containers of coconut milk. We had frozen them previously, so we just needed to defrost them for this recipe. We also used a small package of red pepper flakes from Dominos Pizza. Must be at least 5 years old. But as my Mom would say “Spices last forever.”

Chicken pieces resting nicely in a container with curry powder. 

Chicken, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass, ginger and chicken broth all in the skillet. Can you smell it? Yum!

Carrots, coconut milk, onions, sweet potatoes and basil have been added. It’s getting closer. The sauce thickened up nicely.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry Recipe2022-02-27T15:19:15-06:00

Chicken Biryani Recipe

Recently I tried a Chicken Biryani Recipe, and it turned out great. A few alterations were made. The main one being that I cooked everything in one pot for maximum flavor and minimum cleanup! The recipe I based this on used too many pans and skillets for my liking. The most difficult part of preparing the dish was waiting for it to be done. My kitchen and most of my house smelled of Indian spices and savory aromas.  It was worth waiting for. I give it 👍👍. Try this recipe and let me know how if goes. Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

1.5 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp fresh minced garlic

1 tsp ground ginger powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp salt

pinch cayenne pepper

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp fresh cilantro finely chopped

3 large sweet onions sliced long and thin

Ingredients for Rice

2 cups Basmati rice uncooked

3 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 1/2 tsp cardamom

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp dried anise

2 bay leaves

1 tsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juiced divided

2 tsp saffron

Directions

Marinate chicken in a medium size bowl, stirring together coconut milk with all chicken spices. Stir to coat and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

To a pot or dutch oven, add 2 tsp of vegetable oil. Set heat to medium-high. Add onions and cook until browned. Remove pot from heat and plate onions.

To the same pot, add the marinated chicken. Sauté over medium to high heat until cooked. 

Add water and all rice spices to same pot. Stir together and bring to boil. Then add rice and reduce heat to low. Let simmer until liquid is absorbed, but rice is not fully cooked, about 12 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Then add cooked onions to top of rice/chicken dish. Mix saffron with remaining 2 tbsp lemon juice. Drizzle over top. Cover and bake for 60 minutes.

 

Chicken Biryani Recipe2022-02-03T12:30:58-06:00
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