Uncovering a Hidden Gem: The Creamery

We think we have found a gem.  A little cafe that is becoming a favorite.  A restaurant that offers a limited but interesting, even ambitious, menu.

The local restaurant I refer to is The Creamery, a breakfast/lunch only cafe, which is kind of hidden in the outskirts of De Pere, Wisconsin.

The Creamery, 2200 Dickinson Rd., DePere, WI 54115

The Creamery, 2200 Dickinson Rd., De Pere, WI 54115

I originally discovered it from the restaurant column in our local newspaper. It sounded interesting and since I had a doctor’s appointment one morning, very nearby, I thought I would drop in for breakfast. Inside I found about 4 -5 tables for four, a row of small tables for two in mini-booth like seating and a counter. Above the counter on the back wall was a blackboard with the special of the day and other information.insidecreamThe menu has an interesting combination of breakfast and lunch offerings but no restrictions on when you order either one. There is also a nice list of coffees and teas. I ordered a BPFT, Bread Pudding French Toast. It came with toasted hazelnut cream and organic honey.  It was very different and really good but since this was my first visit I wasn’t thinking of blogging so sorry, no picture.  But I came back with Curt for lunch twice and then twice again with friends. Finally on the 2nd visit with our friends I took pictures and here are some of the highlights. We arrived around 10:30 am so it was a brunch for us. Michael had the special called Saddle Up. They do have some cute titles for a few of their dishes like Mac Daddy Cheese and Kluckin’ Russian. However the Saddle Up wasn’t cute at all, it was quite fine.

Saddle Up

Saddle Up

Served in a cast iron frying pan, it was composed of lamb chops (choice of one or two), asparagus, an egg cooked to your choice, Oregon herb toast and a side salad of spinach, tomato and red onion. A vinaigrette dressing on the side. Michael cleaned his plate.

Barbara chose the Potato Omelet: prosciutto, Swiss, Parmesan, hash browns and whole wheat toast. It was huge, beautiful and enough for two. The hash browns were wrapped around the eggs with the cheese inside. If you want to share, this is the perfect dish or, take half home for your dinner. Barbara had to get a carry-out container.

Potato Omelet

Potato Omelet

I had the Blueberry Blintzes (filled with ricotta and topped with blueberries and blueberry syrup). Three were one too many for me (however I ate all three) and they were good but not as good as the Bread Pudding French Toast I had the first time.These would make a delightful dessert.

Blueberry Blintzes

Blueberry Blintzes

Curt has a few favorites but the restaurant rotates new items in and retires ones that maybe aren’t selling well or are very seasonal. His favorites seem to be the ones rotated out so since one of his favs was not available he went with a new choice, Pomme Frites Carne. I’ll let him tell you about it.

Pomme Frites Carne

Pomme Frites Carne

I have to admit that when my order arrived, I was a bit disappointed.  I had miss-read the menu and did not realize I would get french fries – yes, I know what pomme frites are, but I had something else in my head given that the menu description says julienned potatoes. And, frankly, the carne part looked a bit like dog’s lunch.  It’s actually chunks of bulk sausage and bacon in a “creamy gravy”.  Again, the description didn’t quite match the plate.  But, and here’s the best part,

IT WAS ALL DELICIOUS!

The fries were great.  The spinach was an unexpected but very welcome addition.  The pale looking glop of meat and gravy was actually generous chunks of savory sausage and nice sized pieces of Nueske’s bacon in a cream sauce. Based on appearance I had expected something more like the pasty Southern-style gravy usually served with sausage and biscuits but this was a much lighter and tastier true cream sauce. Yummy!

Will we return? Definitely. The owners have announced that they will be opening another location in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin which will also have dinner selections. We can’t wait.

Blood Price Paid

Ever wonder why raspberries are so expensive? Whether they are from your local grocery store or from a farmer’s market they always seem to be $5.00 a pint or $3.00 for a 1/2 pint. And that is true of red or black raspberries.

We happen to be lucky as a huge stand of black raspberry canes have taken up residence behind our barn/out building. Today we did, probably, the 4th picking of the season and brought in about 5 quarts. That has been about average for each picking. So we have eaten them fresh, made ice cream, froze a bunch and gave some away to friends.

Black raspberries, picked fresh today!

Black raspberries, picked fresh today!

Yes, these are free. Well. almost. There is a price of sorts. That is not raspberry juice on Curt’s arms in the 2nd picture below. Black raspberries, especially, have really big nasty thorns that are determined to guard those berries.

You shall not pass!!!

You shall not pass!!!

So if you don’t wear long sleeves..because it is so frigging hot, or you hate snagging your sleeves on the thorns everytime you reach for a berry, you run the risk of getting tiny rips in your skin. Raspberries are also pretty fragile so hand-picking is the only way to get them.

I'm not sure I even marked all of them.

I’m not sure I even marked all of them.

And that’s why raspberries are expensive.

Another Turn of the Page: June Books

“If you drop a book into the toilet, you can fish it out, dry it off and read that book.
But if you drop your Kindle in the toilet, you’re pretty well done.”
Stephen King

bookcase3When I was looking for a quote to start out this edition of the Whadda Ya Readin’? book group, this one by Stephen King just grabbed me. Not because it is true, not because it is sort of a denouncement of ebooks but because I “read” books in all sorts of forms and think they are all valid. I don’t worry about dropping them. I was a librarian for 30 years and for most of that time I read the paper type of book. Then along came the audiobook and I realized I didn’t have to restrict my reading to one title at a time but I could listen to one whiIe I drove back and forth to work and read a second over lunch, before bed or whenever I had the time. (note: contrary to popular perception, Librarians have very little, if any, time to read at work).

Now that I am retired I do it all. I have paper books (from the library or purchased from a book dealer), audiobooks (from the library’s CD collection or through their download service, or purchased from Audible) and ebooks, the Kindle type that can be dropped in the toilet…hmmm, how do you do that? I usually have at least two to three books going at the same time because there are, ‘so many books, so little time.’

Since I am a former librarian I get some surprised looks from people when I tell them I do not get all my books from the library. I will always support the library and I truly love a paper book but it is the reading that is the important part and I will use any format or any source to feed my addiction. Sometimes I just can’t wait for my turn on the waiting list.

Here are the June books from those in my group who are similarly addicted.

June1. Zoo by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge (2012) 395 pages. Attacks by animals on humans begin escalating all over the world, and they seemed planned.

2. Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen (2012) 317 pages. A severed arm, a voodoo lady, a detective on the roach patrol and a very bad monkey, just another day in the life of a book by Carl Hiaasen.

3. An Echo Through the Snow by Andrea Thalasinos (2012) 370 pages. The story of two time periods: the native Chukchi people of Siberia in 1929 intertwined with a modern story of a young girl named Rosalie in the 1990s. The center of both stories are  Siberian huskies and dogsled racing.

4. The Scapegoat by Daphne DuMaurier (1957) 384 pages. John, an English history professor on his way home from holiday in France, meets a man in a restaurant. The man, Jean de Gue, is his double but of a very different character. After too many drinks, and possibly drugs, the main character wakes up the next day with the Frenchman’s luggage and clothes. His doppelgänger has vanished, and John is being picked up by Jean’s chauffeur. Fearing he may be accused of a crime or thought mad, he takes on this new identity.

5. The Innocent by David Baldacci (2012) 422 pages. First in a series featuring Will Robie, a U.S. government sanctioned hitman. Typical Baldacci thriller. Good summer read.

6. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (2014) 320 pages. When Helen Macdonald’s father dies, she finds herself inconsolable in her grief. In an effort to heal and regain a connection with her father she sets out to find and train a hawk. Not just any hawk, a Goshawk. The descriptions of the Mabel, the hawk, bring this book to life.

7. Chasing Gold: The Incredible Story of How the Nazis Stole Europe’s Bullion by George M. Tabor (2014) 500 pages. Art wasn’t the only thing the Nazis were stock-piling during WW II. A must read for anyone who enjoyed The Monuments Men.

8. The Golden Orange by Joseph Wambaugh (1990) 412 pages. This is not one of Wambaugh’s police procedurals but rather a  mystery thriller set in Newport Beach, California. Some of the dialogue may suffer from age but our reviewer enjoyed trying an author who regularly used to be a the top of the best seller list.

9. Simple Gifts: Lessons in Living from a Shaker Village by June Sprigg (1998) 240 pages. The story of one of America’s last Shaker communities–Canterbury Shaker Village, in Canterbury, New Hampshire.

Dessert Baby!

While browsing through the seemingly millions of posts on my Facebook since the day before, I happened upon a picture of a Dutch Baby. No, not an infant from the Netherlands but a really wonderful looking pastry. It reminded me of a savory dish called a sausage puff that one of the cooks in our original eating group served us.

The caption under the picture said this was essentially a sweet popover. After a little research I found a few other facts about a Dutch Baby. It was sometimes called a German Pancake, a Bismarck or a Dutch Puff, derived from the German pfannkuchen. The “Dutch” part is not so much a reference to the Netherlands but a corruption of the word for German, ‘Deutsch”, as in Pennsylvania Dutch, who were German/American immigrants.

Well we were having a friend over for dinner the next night and I thought this would make a fine dessert, even though it is usually considered a breakfast or brunch treat. The original recipe (from Williams-Sonoma Taste) served 4 but since there were only going to be three of us and this was going to be served after dinner, I felt it needed to be cut down so in my recipe the measurements in parenthesis are what I used. So here is my version of a:

Dutch Baby with Fresh Berries

5 Tbls unsalted butter (3 Tbls)
3/4 C flour (1/2 C)3 eggs (2)
3/4 C milk (1/2 C)
1 tsp vanilla (2/3 tsp)
2 Tbls sugar (4 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt ( a big pinch)
Confectioner’s sugar
Assorted berries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Put the butter in an ovenproof 12 inch fry pan. I used a 9 inch cast iron pan. Place in oven for 5 minutes to melt the butter. (Don’t put in too early because you don’t want to burn the butter but just get it melted and hot).

While the butter melts, combine the flour, milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt. (This recipe uses a blender but I used a whisk. Just blend or whisk till all lumps are gone.)

Remove the pan from oven and CAREFULLY pour the batter into the pan. Return to oven and bake until sides are puffed and dark golden brown, 15 -20 minutes. I went the full 20 minutes plus some since it seemed the center wasn’t done. However that was just some residual butter floating around. It was done! So don’t be fooled.

Be sure to have your guests gathered in the kitchen when you take it out of the oven because it is an amazing sight but will deflate fairly quickly.

A Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven

A Dutch Baby, hot out of the oven

Done and ready to cut.

Done and ready to cut.

Williams-Sonoma would have you put a dollop of crème fraiche in the middle, sprinkle with berries and dust with confectioners sugar before you cut. I, instead, divided it into serving sections, and added the berries and sugar once it was on the plates. Tasted great, looked great. And that browned crust may look stiff but was surprisingly soft.

servedEnjoy.

A First Class Surprise

I just returned from a very fun three days in Santa Fe, New Mexico with two friends from high school. Yes, you heard that right, high school. Luther High School South in Chicago, Illinois to be exact. And once we took a minute to think about that, we realized we have been friends for 50 years.

But this post is about coming home. I love to travel and on this trip I had a wonderful time visiting a place I had never been before and seeing it with good friends was an extra treat. However all good things come to an end and one must face the trip home. I never sleep well the night before I leave so I woke up tired and on top of that this day is always made more difficult when you have to depend on the airline industry.

We live in three different cities, so of course we were flying out at different times on different airlines. And, since we had one rental car, we all had to leave for Albuquerque, from Santa Fe, at the same time. By 8:45am we were on the road. By 10:30am we had returned the car and were on the shuttle to the terminal.

At noon, I waved goodbye to Audrey who was flying to Chicago.wave

An hour later, I waved goodbye to Lynn, whose home was Golden, Colorado.

As I walked to my gate I checked my phone.  A message from Delta informed me I was going out at 3:35pm instead of my original 3pm departure. Ho, hum. More sitting, more waiting. I had to make a connection in Minneapolis to get to Green Bay but this extra 35 minutes wasn’t going to affect me much. Around 2:30pm another message from Delta command came in, my flight had now been changed to 4pm. Since my knees are not made for running, I was officially nervous so I headed for the agent at the Delta desk. He tapped a bunch of keys on the computer, told me I would be departing from D4 in Minneapolis and then said the approximate 37 minutes from concourse B to D was doable. He hoped I could make it since he didn’t see any hotel rooms left in Minneapolis. What?

I certainly wasn’t the only person who had to make a connection so on the loud-speaker he informed the masses that once we were ready to board we should do it quickly. And on the other end if you weren’t making a connection could you remain in your seat and let those that did, get out first. The first part sort of happened, the last part didn’t. And to make it even more crazy we flew into G18 not B at 7:26pm. I had 27 minutes to make my 7:53pm takeoff.

G18  to D4 in 27 min

G18 to D4 in 27 min

In the terminal I said to the agent, “D4!” He pointed in the direction of that long hall near the bottom of the map. I hustled. By the time I got to C and turned left I was whipped. A few steps down on this hall I saw my salvation, the tram. It was arriving in 36 seconds and would take me to Concourse D.

On I got, off I got, and up to gate D4 with 15 minutes to spare. The only person in view was the agent at the gate. My boarding pass scanned, down the ramp I went, into the plane and down the aisle to seat 12F …where another woman was sitting.

I can only imagine the look on my face as I thought. “Oh crap, they gave my seat away or this woman is lost or who knows…but I am so damn tired I don’t want to deal with this.” Then the woman said, ” Are you 12F?”  “Yes,” I replied as I fumbled for my boarding pass. But before I could continue she said, “No you’re not, you’re in First Class.” And she held out her ticket to me.ticket

I think I mumbled something about being tired, it being a long day and what a surprise this was. She smiled and said, “Have a cocktail.” I thanked her and turned back to the front of the plane………to the other side of the curtain.

I took her advice and had a glass of wine (no charge in first class), stretched out my legs and flew home.

The last miracle, my luggage made it too.

Another Turn of the Page: Yikes! It’s June.

Next Thursday is the June book group meeting and I haven’t even posted May. Not like I have thousands of rabid readers out there in blogland clamoring for my next post but I do like to keep current. At our last meeting we had an all time high in attendance, fourteen. The daughters of two of our members were in town and came along and shared their current reading and it seemed no one else was on vacation yet. I have to apologize that I could not locate one of the daughter’s books. She said it was The Samurai’s Daughter and it was published in 1936. She couldn’t remember the author. I found, “A Daughter of the Samurai” by Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto but I wasn’t able to verify if that might be the one. Oh well.

But back to the crowd. We try to keep our meeting to an hour and I was skeptical that was going to happen however we got around to everyone in the group in just about 70 minutes. This group is getting very good at summarizing their reading. Let’s see how good I am (with a little help from Goodreads). Here’s the list.

May1. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lustania by Erik Larson (2015) 430 pages. An engrossing story of the sinking of the luxury liner, Lusitania, by a German U-boat in 1915.

2. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (2014) 398 pages. Well if you don’t really LOVE elephants this book isn’t for you. The plot is basically about a missing person and includes psychics and a private investigator and did I mention – elephants. Reviews are mixed.

3. Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult (1993) 464 pages. Surprisingly we had two Picoult books reported on by different readers. This one is about a girl whose mother walks out on her and her father when she is a little girl. The girl spends the rest of her life trying to make sense of her mother’s abandonment.

4. Driftless by David Rhodes (2008) 352 pages. Rhodes follows the lives of the residents of the fictional rural town of Words, located in the Driftless area of southwestern Wisconsin. The author is a poetic writer who perfectly captures the characteristics of rural life and the personalities of the people who live it.

5. At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen (2015) 348 pages. Set during WWII, Maddie, her husband Ellis and his best friend Hank leave their pampered high society lives in Philadelphia after falling out of grace with family. To prove themselves they cross the ocean in search of the Loch Ness Monster. Our reviewer said it sounds more exciting than it reads.

6. Takedown Twenty (2013) 307 pages & Top Secret Twenty-one (2015) 341 pages. by Janet Evanovich  Our Stephanie Plum lover has finally caught up with the series. Says they are still good and funny. It will be interesting to see what he reads while waiting for #22.

7. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (2013) 416 pages. The story of the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew and their quest for gold. A team, composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, who defeat elite rivals from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler.

8. Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis (2010) 352 pages. An alternate history of World War II. It’s 1939. The Nazis have supermen, the British have warlocks, and one British Secret Agent tries to use both for victory.

9. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (2011) 707 pages. An excellent biography about a brilliant visionary but not a very good person. Jobs gave Isaacson exclusive interviews for this book.

10. Jamaica Inn by Daphne DuMaurier (1935) 320 pages. They don’t make covers like that anymore. The story: It’s early 19C in Southern Cornwall and Mary Yellen’s dying mother asks her to sell the family farm and join her Aunt Patience and her husband at Jamaica Inn in Northern Cornwall. A spooky, gothic tale. Vintage DuMaurier.

11. Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong (2004) 527 pages. An epic Chinese tale about the dying culture of the Mongols (the ancestors of the Mongol hordes who at one time terrorized the world) and the parallel extinction of the animal they believe to be sacred: the Mongolian wolf.

12. Compelling Evidence by Steve Martini (1992) 448 pages. A really good courtroom thriller. #1 in the Paul Madriani series.

13. The Stranger by Harlan Coben (2015) 400 pages. “Someone, a stranger, approaches Adam Price and tells him something provocative about his wife, Corinne…a secret she’s kept from him. And so begins a story of deception, mystery and conspiracies that escalate dangerously.” -Goodreads

Lunch: A Simple Charcuterie/Antipasti

As I was about to open a can of soup for us, Curt said, “Did you forget I was going to prepare a charcuterie for lunch?” I had forgotten.

He and a friend had gone antiqueing and junking yesterday in Door County. However it is morel mushroom season in Wisconsin so there are other fine goodies to be had in Door County besides old postcards and interesting farm tools. Along with the cherry butter he bought me, he had picked up a basket of morels. Some of those mushrooms had been designated for today’s lunch.

Now technically, a charcuterie is a platter of cured and prepared meats, sausages and patés, along with some cheeses. Our only meat was a dry cured salami. Thus I am suggesting we also had antipasti even thought this was the meal and not the entrée or ‘appetizer’.

plattersThe plate on the left has toasted baguette slices topped with butter-fried morels.

The plate on the right has blanched green beans and Michele’s Polish Tomatoes. That is tomato slices with salt, pepper, sugar and dill. Our friend Michele in Indiana served us these some 30 odd years ago and they are a fine simple preparation.

Since this was lunch, an iced tea and a paper napkin was all that was needed before we started to eat. We will save that can of soup for another day.

lunch

Birdhearing

One more bird story. Promise. (for now) But this is a good one and it demonstrates why I love to go birding with my son.

First, a little about the bird, the American Woodcock. This bird is very secretive and has excellent camouflage so for the most part you are going to hear him before you see him, if you see him at all. An exception to this rule was a woodcock who took up residence right under a window at our friend’s house. He called us and said, “Hey, we got some weird bird here under our window.” We rushed over and was amazed to see a woodcock. Usually they look like this:

There's a woodcock in this picture. See the outline on the right picture.

There’s a woodcock in this picture. See the outline in the picture below.

hiddenThe one under their window looked like this:

woody2

Still blends in pretty well but he moved around so he was spotted

If you are trying to find a woodcock, you go out at dusk, starting at the end of March, in a likely habitat. A brushy field is good. Then you listen. If one is in the area he will make a peent! sound, then about 6 seconds later another peent!. This goes on for a while and then he will take off in a crazy zig zag flight (his wings make a twilling sound) and then land pretty much back where he started and call again. He’s looking for a lady friend. Some years we have heard the peent! and one year we heard the flight sound and a dark object whipping through the sky ( just barely). But this year we have had no luck.

Okay. Flash back to Sunday evening, May 10, La Crosse, Wisconsin. My husband and son and I have spent all day birding and now we have gone to dinner in La Crosse. No tiny town. It was Mother’s Day, busy downtown, cars, bars, general ambient sound. It is dusk and we are leaving the restaurant, talking and laughing, while we walk to the car and suddenly my son Nathan says, “Woodcock!” and stops.

BWnathan2

“woodcock!”

“What?” Here? In town?” I say.

“Yes, listen”, he replies.

We shut up and listen.   “PEENT!”   “PEENT!”

Yep, he heard a woodcock.* They don’t usually make that sound when they fly so it must have been sitting on a roof. We don’t know. But Nathan heard him. And then so did we. I love my son.

 

*revision: After further consideration based on habitat Nathan feels he heard a Nighthawk. Everything else I spoke about applies. Difficult to find and mostly active at dusk. Calls extremely similar. He still heard it over the noise of the city.

Finding Birds: Target – Warblers

The weather turned on us. Overcast, cool, breezy.

Mississippi River marshes

Mississippi River marshes

Our next two stops were Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday and Wyalusing State Park on Monday. Both of these parks are along the Mississippi River on the western side of the state. Trempelaeu is near La Crosse, Wisconsin; Wyalusing is further south. Sunday started out not too bad but as the day wore on it got cooler and windier. A front was moving in and with it cooler air and eventually rain overnight. But the birders continued to pursue the elusive warblers.

Not posed, this is how the guys really look while they are looking

Not posed, this is how the guys really look while they are looking

Unfortunately the warblers must have been huddling under their covers hoping spring would arrive. We only got four new ones for the day: american redstart, yellow warbler, northern waterthrush, and Wilson’s warbler. All great birds but we were hoping for larger numbers. Yes, a waterthrush is a warbler and I managed to get a picture of him as he hunted through a mudflat.

Northern waterthrush

Northern waterthrush

Of course while we are searching for warblers we also look at everything else that flies, crawls or walks past us. Least flycatcher, Blue/gray gnatcatcher, and an Orchard oriole completed the rest of the day.

Orchard oriole, a deeper cinnamon red than the Baltimore

Orchard oriole, a deeper cinnamon red than the Baltimore

Monday we went to Wyalusing State Park. We had high hopes because there are some sparrows and warblers that are only seen in this area. But the day didn’t even start out well. It was already cool, 57, and it just got cooler. By the time we were done with lunch it was 52. Birds still have to eat so we saw a few beauties but once again the numbers were low. Prothonotary warbler topped today’s list, followed by a Blackpoll. I’ve linked you to a view of a Prothonotary because getting a picture of a warbler takes the patience of a National Geographic photographer.

A highlight of this park is a view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers.

Confluence: the joining of two rivers

Confluence: the joining of two rivers

Another notable thing here is a monument to the last Wisconsin Passenger Pigeon. We paid our respects. Look up Passenger Pigeon, it is a sad story about the elimination of a species.pigeonNo photos of sightings today but for those of you keeping track we saw: red-headed woodpecker, indigo bunting, yellow-throated warbler, scarlet tanager and veery.

Oh wait, it looks like they’ve found another good one. Time to grab my binoculars and join the guys.

birders4