Saturday, September 29, 2012

Stone Faced and the Billy Goat Tavern

The other day we had the opportunity to visit an interesting Chicago landmark and grab a geocache while we were at it.  The name of the geocache is Stone Faced  and for this particular cache you had to go to the Tribune Tower and take a photo of one of the famous features of the building.

(photo wikipedia images)

The Tribune Tower is located on Michigan Ave. World famous WGN broadcasts from the building.

Prior to it's being built in 1925, Colonel McCormick sent correspondents out with the unusual request to bring back rocks and bricks from historic sites throughout the world.  The relics they brought back were incorporated into the outside lower levels of the building, and labeled with their original origins.

And recently added.....

It was interesting to walk around the building and get to touch artifacts from around the world!

Afterwards we walked across the street and had lunch at the Billy Goat Tavern, which is located underneath Michigan Ave.

The Billy Goat Tavern is known for several things, one of them being "The Cubs Curse."  The original owner of the tavern, William Sianis, brought his goat to Game 4 of the World Series in 1945, when the Cubs were playing a home game against Detroit.  Cubs Owner, Philip Wrigley, allegedly kicked Sianis and his goat out of their box seats because the goat smelled.  In retaliation  Sianis placed a curse on the Cubs, saying they would never win another pennant or play in a World Series.

If you're familiar with the old Saturday Night Live bit where John Belushi screams "Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger!" well, this is the restaurant on which they based their Olympia Cafe.

Yes, I had a cheezborger and when I ordered "fries," I was told "no fries, cheeps."  So I had a cheezborger and cheeps and afterwards went outside and found another geocache - Ziggy vs. The Goat.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple Dumplings

The arrival of autumn signals the baking of apple dumplings.  I only make them in the fall and I usually make them only once or twice.  It seems that the minute we get the first cool wind of autumn, my husband is already hounding me about "when are you making the apple dumplings?"  Saturday I gave him a vague "one of these days," so yesterday he came home with a bag of apples and all the fixings.  Did someone say "crap?"  Oh, that must have been me.   It's not that I don't want to actually make them, it's just that once they're out of the oven, I want to eat them.  And they are not diet friendly.  But they are SO good!

This recipe is to make 6 dumplings.  I start with 2 boxes of Betty Crocker double pie crust mix.

Dump both boxes into a bowl and follow the directions on the back of the box for adding water.  Knead it together and then roll out into 6 squares or circles.  Mine are far from perfectly shaped.  Set aside for now.

Boil for 3 minutes in a pot on the stove.  This will make your sauce -
2 cups sugar
4 cups water
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Set aside.

Peel, core and slice 6 apples of your choice.  You can use whatever apple type you wish.  Now the recipe calls for one apple per dumpling, but truth be told, we are not all about the apple.  We kind of like a little apple with a lot of dumpling, so I usually use 4 large apples to make 6 dumplings.

In a separate bowl mix your filling - melt 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine and add 1 cup of sugar and 3 teaspoons of cinnamon.  Now lay out your pastry squares, pile some apple on top of each, and sprinkle some of your filling on top...

Then mold your pastry up around the apple and place them in a 13 x 9 pan...

Pour all the sauce over the dumplings in the pan....

Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes.  You want them to get nice and brown and crispy on top...

Let them cool and serve with ice cream or whipped cream on top...

Ok, I know that last photo is kind of blurry, but I was drooling and in a hurry to eat it.  Enjoy!  If you have any left over, just refrigerate.  Then just heat them up in a bowl for about a minute. Don't blame me if you moan a little while you eat them.  They are that good!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book Review - The Appalachian Trail-Celebrating America's Hiking Trail

I was recently given the opportunity to read an advance copy of  "The Appalachian Trail: Celebrating America's Hiking Trail."  Released today, September 25th 2012, the book documents the history and the stories behind the creation of the trail that is celebrating its 75th anniversary.  From its inception until its completion, you will read about the fascinating people who dedicated not only hours, but years of their lives to making the dream a reality.  

The AT isn't just a random footpath through the forest.  It was purposely constructed with the hiking experience in mind.  The trail was originally conceived by Benton MacKaye in 1921 as The Appalachian Trail Project and published as an article in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects.  (page 18)   MacKaye envisioned the purpose of the trail to be "1, to walk; 2, to see; 3, to see what you see."  (page 112)   Completed in 1937 and spanning 14 states, the AT takes hikers from forests and meadows, to skyline drives and mountain peaks.  The trail means something different for each person who steps foot on its path and everyone who hikes it will experience the journey in a different way.

In the decades since the trails' inception, it's the dedication of hundreds of individuals who were instrumental in the vision and building of the trail.  Learn the names of the people who fought for funding, blazed the trails, installed markers and maintained over 2000 miles of footpath.  If you've ever seen the iconic bronze plaque that marks the first northbound steps of the trail atop Springer Mountain, then you'll read about who posed for that plaque and what role he played.  The time it takes to hike the trail varies from person to person.  I will tell you that it ranges from 46 days to 46 years.  Did you ever wonder who was the first soul to hike the entire trail and the reason why he was on that trail in the first place?  My personal favorite story is the one about the first woman to thru hike the entire length.  She did it with a simple sack tossed over her shoulder and guess what, she was 67 years old!  You will have to read the book to learn more about her and others as well.

At 10 x 1.4 x 10", this is not a guidebook.  This marvelous book contains 336 pages of history, documents and essays which piece together all the events and people who are responsible for making the trail a reality.   For me however, the true stars of the book are the 300 gorgeous photos. They put you on the path, strolling in dense forests and dewy meadows, fording swollen streams and looking out over breath taking views as far as your eye can see.  Part of the book is broken down by state, with photos depicting various landmarks.  If these photos don't make you want to strap on your hiking boots and experience The Appalachian Trail for yourself, then I don't know what will.  As an extra bonus the rear of the book contains a full size, removable National Park Service Map of the entire Appalachian Trail.

I will treasure this book.  It was exceptionally well written and the collection of photos speak for themselves.  This is a book that will sit out on my coffee table and I will pick it up and not only re-read it, but lose myself in the pictures and dream of the day when I will step foot on the Appalachian Trail. 

Released today, The Appalachian Trail: Celebrating America's Hiking Trail has been published by Rizzoli Publishing with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and you can visit their website for more information on the AT and on purchasing the book. 

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.   Get your copy here

I was provided an advance copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Standing Bear on the Ozark Trail

Phase 2 of Mike's Hike4Kids Journey/Fund Raiser involves leaving the Appalachian Trail and immediately beginning his hike on the Ozark Trail in Missouri.  Mike is well on his way!  Go to his blog to read about his first days on the Ozark Trail.  So far he's completed 101 miles.

If you would like to see a quick video of Mike at Trailhead P of the Ozark Trail, visit his Hike4Kids FB page.

Keep up the good work Mike!
If you'd like to make a donation to Hike4Kids, please visit their official page.

(photo courtesy of Mike McLaughlin.  Do not use without permission)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Peach Mango Jelly

It's that time of year again where I dig out my canning stuff and start making jelly.  One of my favorites is peach mango jelly.

You start with nice peaches and mangoes....

Add sugar, pectin, lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons of Grand Marnier.  It adds a really nice flavor...

Cook it down until it's thick and a beautiful golden color....

Process in a rolling water bath for 10 minutes and you're done....

I use "The Jamlady Cookbook" by Beverly Alfeld.  It has lots of really nice recipes in it as well as chapters on processing and preserving.  It's one of my favorite cookbooks.

I made a batch last Sunday and I've already eaten one, whole jar.  Myself.  I also gave my mom and dad 2 jars.  This stuff goes quick!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Julie's Little House Give Away

Two weeks ago I won a giveaway over at Julie's Little House.  Julie has a fun blog where she shares her passions for cooking, knitting, gardening and fixing up old furniture.  She also has another blog, Dinner at Julie's that you are going to want to visit.  She puts together some yummy looking meals with great photos.  I may just have to make a trip to Ontario with my fork and spoon and knock on her door in time for dinner!

Anyway, this is what I won...

The raspberry & cream shortbread cookies are really good.  I love raspberry anything and these are fantastic!

I was anxious to try the Lady Grey tea.  Practically all I drink is tea - iced tea, hot tea, tea that's been sitting on my stove for 2 days.  However, I usually only drink plain, Lipton tea, not flavored with anything.  I tend to shy away from flavored teas.  The Lady Grey is a delicate blend of black tea with bergamot, lemon peel and orange peel.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.  Looks like I'll be switching up my tea assortment a little.

I haven't decided what I'm going to use the pretty cup and saucer for yet.  I'm open to suggestions.

The final, and my personal favorite, was the silver tray.  It's the perfect size to sit on my dresser and display my shell jewelry pieces.   Some of you probably recognize the jewelry because it's all hand made by my good friend Della, over at Del's Shells.  Isn't the tray perfect for holding my jewelry?

Thank you Julie for a fun give away!  Be sure to stop by and say hi to her at Julie's Little House.

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