Memorial Day Weekend Camping

Every year Mr. Pea and I travel to Nelson Dewey State Park in Cassville, WI to go camping with our family and friends. It is always a great time, good for some rest and relaxation, good company and good food. This past Memorial Day Weekend camping was so much fun, minus the scary thunderstorms and sticky hot days, and the dreaded mosquitoes that came out after the rain. We still had a great time and did have some really good food this weekend, as we always do. I have never went camping like Mr. Pea’s family goes camping before, they go all out with the food. It’s like going to a fine dining restaurant in the middle of nature, candlesticks and all! I thought I would share with you all some of the food that we had this weekend.

First, I would like to start off talking about our tradition for Memorial Day Camping weekend, stopping in Madison, WI to go to Ella’s Deli. If you have never been to Ella’s Deli, you should visit this top notch kosher style deli, if only just once. This place has been around since 1976, and there is a reason why it is still around today, it is SOO good! They have good matzo ball soup but they also have sweet and sour cabbage soup and chili that are pretty amazing as well. If there is one thing you go to a deli for it is corned beef, and I think you all know my feelings on corned beef, since I declared it my favorite meal on St. Patty’s Day. But this corned beef sandwich piled high on rye bread is one of my favorite things to eat hands down. If you leave room for dessert, which I never can do, they have a twelve page dessert menu to fulfill your sweet tooth! It is not just the food that makes Ella’s one of my favorite places, it is also the atmosphere of all the animated displays, nostalgic trinkets and toys from years past, and the tabletop games to keep you entertained while you wait for food. Also, if you go there during the spring, summer and fall months, no trip to Ella’s is complete without a ride on the 1927 Parker Carousel! So much fun!

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Their burgers are pretty great also and I decided to change it up a bit and get a burger instead this time.

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Until next year Ella’s 🙂

Moving on to our camping trip….

Friday Night

Friday night meal is pretty easy peasy compared to the rest of the meals served the rest of the weekend. Friday night’s dinner used to be a fish fry, but without our fisherman there to prepare the fish fry, we have relied on a camp favorite, hot dogs and brats. Mr. Pea was the hero of the night with his brand new pitch forks, this made grilling up 2 packages of brats and 1 package of delicious Nathan’s hot dogs easy as pie. I have never been a huge fan of hot dogs, until I had a Nathan’s hot dog. Really, they are the only hot dogs I will ever eat, they are the hot dogs that are served on every corner in New York and I think that is why I make an exception for these delightful dogs.

Saturday

Saturday morning started off with a delicious hearty breakfast, but with the terrible thunderstorms the night before, we got a later start then we usually do for making breakfast. We made some eggs with mushrooms, onion and left over brats and cheese with some bacon, and of course a camping breakfast wouldn’t be complete without my homemade banana bread and O & H Kringle.

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Then for lunch, it is the highlight of the camping trip, a trip to the Potosi Brewery Company. This place is delicious, they have some really great brews, my personal favorite being the Heffeweizer, Mr. Pea, being a fan of the darker brews is a huge fan of the Cave Ale. If you aren’t sure what to get there is always the sampler that Mr. Pea’s mom got that lets you try 6 of their different brews. They also have really great food at the Potosi restaurant, my favorite thing they serve is their beer cheese soup, it is hands down the best beer cheese soup I have ever had. They also have some great fish (caught fresh locally), burger, barbeque and salads, anything I have had off their menu has been absolutely delicious! Also, a trip to Potosi wouldn’t be complete without checking out their National Beer Museum and Art gallery across the street. This great place located in the middle of nowhere, is one of my favorite places to visit.

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And if you weren’t full yet from breakfast and lunch, saving room for dinner is a must. Because dinner for Saturday night is grilled tenderloin, steamed asparagus, red potatoes with parsley and my contribution to the food a delicious Crunchy Romaine Toss Salad, of course. Dinners for camping are usually pretty fancy, candles and all, it is like you are fine dining in the middle of nature.

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Crunchy Romaine Toss

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Salad

1 1/2 Cups chopped broccoli

1 bunch of romaine, torn

4 green onions, chopped

1/2 Cup walnuts

1 pkg ramen noodles, broken

2 tablespoons of butter

Discard the seasoning packet for the ramen noodles. In a skillet, saute noodles in butter until golden. In a large bowl combine noodles, walnuts, broccoli, romaine and onions. Drizzle with the dressing before serving.

Dressing

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1/4 Cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce

salt and pepper to taste

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the sugar, oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sal and pepper and shake well.

Sunday

Sunday’s breakfast was extra special this year, we made some blueberry pancakes, eggs bacon and had some fruit on the side. Blueberry pancakes are my favorite, and these were great!

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We had some left over salad from the night before and snacks for lunch, but for dinner we had Grilled Chicken, Spaghetti with a meat sauce and a tossed salad.

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To beat the rain in the morning we packed up really early and left to go home, but all in all I would say it was a successful camping trip, and I can’t wait to go back next year.

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Poco Loco

Poco Loco  has been one of Mr. Pea’s favorite restaurants for quite some time, he has been talking about this place what seems like forever. This past week we were actually  in the area so we decided to stop there for dinner. Now I know why he raves abut this place so much, it is really, really good.

 Poco Loco is very unique on the inside, with two round bars  for  you to sit at the counter looking into  the kitchen area, it makes for an interesting dining experience.  I was impressed with the food the moment I walked through the door,  it smelled delicious, and that is usually a good sign  when a restaurant smells  delicious, chances are the food is delicious too! They have a smaller menu  but they have some really great options that you probably won’t find on very many Mexican restaurants menus, like Blue crab quesadilla and  various kinds of fish tacos.

I got  steak tacos, and was even more impressed  when they brought it to me and it was perfectly  cooked steak, usually when I go to a Mexican restaurant they have no clue  how to cook steak tacos and it is always tough and chewy.  They have a very good salsa to go with their chips and salsa they bring to the table,  it is on  the spicy side, so  be careful if spicy is not your thing.  My suggestion when eating Mexican food and you are not in the mood for a margarita of course, is to have a beer called Pacifico. It is light  and refreshing and goes really well with Mexican cuisine.

Poco Loco also has a patio for outdoor dining, I think we might have to go back there  on a nice summer afternoon!

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Sil’s Drive-Thru

Sil’s Drive-Thru  was one of my favorite places in Milwaukee, and I am sad to say that today was its last day open. It is a sad day to know that there will be no more delicious doughnuts, bagels or wasted weiners in my life.  It it located on  the corner of North Avenue and Oakland, just a few steps away from our last apartment, two houses in from what used to be the block where the Pizza Man, Cush and Grecian Delight once were  until a terrible fire took out the whole block.  I feel like this intersection in particular has been hit with some crazy disasters lately,  shortly after  the block burnt down in that terrible fire, Wisconsin was hit hard with some flooding and a massive sinkhole collapsed in the middle of that intersection and with it swallowed up an SUV, luckily everyone got out. I am not saying that Sil’s Drive Thru closing is a disaster, it just is another reason that this intersection is cursed (I am glad we moved when we did).  I am sad that Sil’d Drive Thru will  not be open anymore, it will be missed.

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RIP Sil’s Drive Thru 😦

The Old German Beer Hall

The Old German Beer Hall  is a popular bar in Downtown Milwaukee, located on Old 3rd Street. Mr. Pea and I have been there  multiple times and every time we go we have a blast.  We often take our friends and  out of town guests to this bar, because well it is a good time and it is not like other bars in Milwaukee.  This bar represents the spirit and tradition of Munich’s legendary Hofbräuhaus, the most famous beer hall in the world. Milwaukee’s Old German Beer Hall offers a glimpse of Bavarian social life, and 400 years of tradition and history. With replica tables and benches from the “Schwemme”, you will feel the connection to the original Munich beer hall. This bar has great beer, but you better put your drinking pants  on because these liters of beer will surely do the trick.

My favorite brew they have is a Hofbräu Hefe Weizen with Rasberry syrup, kind of girly I know but delicious. In my defense  though, when it comes  to drinking  a  liter of beer, I think that qualifies me to be able to hang with the guys.  This was the first wheat beer ever brewed, the standard by which all others judged.  Mr. Pea likes their darker brews though, which I am not particularly fond of, he usually goes with the Hofbräu Dunkel. The Hofbräu Dunkel is a rich walnut Brown color, dark roasted malts and subtle
hops. This beer  is by far one the easiest drinking dark beers in the world. This is historical  standard of  Bavarian beer, the  light lagers came much later.

I usually don’t eat their food  their  but  they do have great food. The Old German Beer Hall serves up traditional Bavarian festival food and specialties. Their menu showcases the world famous Usingers sausage, made daily just across the street. Their giant pretzels are made in Munich with flour from the Royal Bavarian Mill,  if you try one make sure to try it  with Obatzter, the traditional beer hall cheese spread. German food isn’t my favorite, but I have to at least try  to like it. Mr. Pea’s family is  German and they love German food, we go to Germanfest every year  and slowly but surly I am finding things that I can enjoy when we go there.

They also have a dish called Currywurst, which I tried for the first time the last time I went, thanks to a friend of mine  who has traveled to Germany on business a couple of times  and  and he told me I had to try it.  Currywurst is Germany’s popular spicy snack, it is  a sliced sausage  served with a zesty tomato-curry sauce. I was a little weary on trying it though I am not big on spicy foods. This Currywurst turned out to be delicious though,  and a little kick to it  but it had good flavor  to it, it wasn’t just spicy.

The  other reason we like going to the Old German Ber Hall is that  it  is fun,  they usually have a polka band playing and  every so often a guy will blow his horn which stretches as long ad one of the tables.   Also,  there is a really fun game that they have there called ‘Nails’. This  game is where  there is a tree stump  and everyone has a nail,  you pound the nail in just enough to make it stand up on its own. Then everyone takes a turn at hammering their nail in the stump one hit at a time. The person that is the last to get their nail into the stump has to buy a round of beers or shots. If you are buying shots they have this thing called  the ‘Shot-ski’ there, it is basically a ski that has holes drilled in it  to hold shot glasses, and 5 or 6 people line up and  take the shot all at the same time.

So next time you are going out and looking to have a good time, try the Old German Beer Hall  you are guaranteed to have a good time!

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Peter Sciortinos Bakery

Peter Sciortinos Bakery is one of  Mr. Pea and my favorite Saturday morning stops.  Brady street in Milwaukee is one of my favorite places for food. It is ever changing, yet it has some really great places that have been there for years, and have been there for years with good reason. Peter Sciortinos Bakery is a America’s Finest Italian Bakery, at least in my eyes.  At Peter Sciortino’s Bakery, they make all of their products from scratch on a daily basis, this  ensures that everything is fresh.

Some of the great things to get at this bakery is their bread, their Italian hard bread and hard rolls is easily a family favorite.  They even distribute their bread to a few local restaurants,  and when you taste it, you will know why,  it is amazing. They also  have really great doughnuts and pastries, in my opinion  they have the best cheese danish and cruller doughnut I have ever had. They also make fantastic Italian pastries and cookies that I heard are delicious. I have only had the holiday Italian Christmas cookies they make every year, people will wait in line  for these cookies and buy them  by the dozens.  

They don’t just have great bakery items at Sciortinos, they also have really great deli items, like turkey and Swiss cheese.  They also have Mr. Pea’s personal favorite item, the pizza doughs.  These pizza doughs are great, they are $1.50 each and are bagged individually and  you can throw them in the freezer for up to three months, so when you want to make a pizza  you just pop it in the fridge  while  you are at work and by the time you get  home  you are all set to make a delicious homemade pizza.  My homemade pizzas are one of Mr. Pea’s favorite things  that I make,  so I will make one soon and let you all in  on my secrets to both my homemade pizza and calzones, stay tuned.

From their amazingly fresh breads to their delicious Italian pastries, I assure you that you will not find a fresher or better tasting bakery in the Greater Milwaukee area!

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Go to Peter Sciortino’s bakery, help support little places like these that need to be here for generations to come 🙂

Beans and Barley

Beans and Barley is a local Milwaukee deli, market and cafe. This East Side specialty market has fresh produce, specialty food items, greeting cards, vitamins and supplements and bath and body care items. This specialty market also has a small sit down cafe inside, with a great menu of good, healthy, homemade food that includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items.Beans and Barley is a great place to take vegetarians, vegans, or people who eat gluten-free. Their menu has options for everyone, with plenty of filling choices. All menu options can be ordered through their deli counter in the market as well.

What Beans and Barley is really known  for is their burritos. The burritos have been a clear favorite since they first rolled out in 1979.The burrito I like the best is the  Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burrito, it has oven roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, corn, Mexican rice, and guacamole and is served with a lime sour cream, mild salsa and tortilla chips. This burrito is better then any burrito I have had at any Chipolte or Qdoba, hands down. We have even tried to make them homemade, but these burritos are just so good it can not be replicated at home.

Beans and Barley has a really good guacamole.  I am very particular with guacamole and I usually don’t like any guacamole except for the kind I make at home, but this guacamole has a creaminess to it  that  makes it taste so good. So if  you are visiting this cafe with a group of people , it is a good appetizer to share with everyone.

One more great thing about beans and Barley is that they serve Anodyne Coffee Roasting Company coffee, one of my favorite locally owned independent roaster of fine coffee. Anodyne Coffee Roasting makes the best Chai tea, that I have ever had, and I consider myself a aficionado of chai tea.

Also, if you save room for dessert they have a great dessert list with delicious  treats, my personal favorite is the carrot cake. So if you are looking for a place to take out-of town guests, this is a great place to take them. If you live in Milwaukee and haven’t been here, you are surely missing out!

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Kopps Frozen Custard

So I had many reasons for starting this blog. The first, was to use this as a virtual cookbook for all the recipes that Mr. Pea and I create and make. The second, was to use this as a way to build my food photography portfolio, as I am an aspiring food photographer. In this blog, I also want to talk about different restaurants that we have been to throughout Milwaukee as well as through our travels that are worth going to. Most of our friends ask us about different restaurants we have been to, and trust us foodies to give thoughtful reviews of places. Well this next place I am going to talk about, is probably a place that anyone that lives in Milwaukee has probably been to. This local Milwaukee landmark I am talking about is Kopp’s Frozen Custard.

This fabulous frozen custard restaurant has got to be my favorite guilty pleasure. It is one of the only fast food places that I will go to. Mr. Pea and I don’t visit many fast food places in general, our philosophy is that we can usually cook better food at home so why bother with the fast food crap. But Kopp’s frozen Custard is far from fast food crap, in fact, you will think you have dies and gone to fast food heaven!

Kopp’s makes the burgers that beat all burgers, period. Recently, there was a Man vs. Food episode that created a debate for which restaurant had the best burger. The only problem, Kopp’s wasn’t even a contender, probably because anybody would lose going up against this burger (or at least that is what I would like to think!). This burger is so freaking good, it is huge, buttery and made fresh to order just the way you like it. I like mine with just cheese and ketchup, but Mr.Pea likes his with raw onions and ketchup and mustard, but that is the beauty of it you can have it any way you would like.

If you are indulging with a burger you are already throwing your healthy diet out the window, so I say go all out. I like to have my burger with their tasty shoestring fries (that are light on the salt, which I like) and wash it down with a Sprecher Root Beer. Now try not to get too full, kind of impossible-but try! Why? because this is a frozen custard place of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Kopp’s without the custard!

This custard is to die for, it is so delicious it just melts in your mouth. They make up many delicious flavors, two different kinds everyday. Don’t worry even if their flavor of the day isn’t your cup of tea, their chocolate and vanilla are so good all by themselves. My favorite flavor is their Pecan Praline, which is a Carmel flavored custard with candied pecans or pralines. Mr. Pea’s favorite is their butter pecan, which I like also like, but I am not very picky when it comes to Kopp’s frozen custard.So if you haven’t been to Kopp’s yet, I suggest you go now, you can thank me later!

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At this Glendale location, there are white and one black cow sculptures that are pretty cool 🙂

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Must get a Specher Root Beer to wash down this delicious burger (make it a float if you think you can’t save room for dessert!)

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Look at that burger, now doesn’t that make your tummy rumble.

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Today’s flavor was one of my favorites, Orange dream, it is like a creamcicle on crack!

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Mr. Pea had Chocolate Banana Walnut Chunk, which was pretty good and those are his favorite flavors so needless to say he enjoyed it!

I ❤ Kopp’s Frozen Custard!

Matzo Ball Soup

Ever since I mentioned Ella’s Deli on a previous post, I have been craving matzo ball soup! It just so happens that Mr. Pea stumbled upon a fantastic recipe that perfected the recipe for matzo ball soup this past week. Perfect! We are two peas in a pod that’s for sure!

Well I couldn’t give you the recipe for matzo ball soup without talking about some of my favorite kosher style deli’s that I have been to that are not only great but are worth the trip! The first place I already talked about, and will talk about again because it is one of my favorite places, is Ella’s Deli. This kosher style deli is located in Madison, Wisconsin and is a stop we have to make every year on the drive out to Memorial Day camping. This place has been around since 1976, and there is a reason why it is still around today, it is SOO good! They have good matzo ball soup but they also have sweet and sour cabbage soup and chili that are pretty amazing as well. If there is one thing you go to a deli for it is corned beef, and I think you all know my feelings on corned beef, since I declared it my favorite meal on St. Patty’s Day. But this corned beef sandwich piled high on rye bread is one of my favorite things to eat hands down. If you leave room for dessert, which I never can do, they have a twelve page dessert menu to fulfill your sweet tooth! It is not just the food that makes Ella’s one of my favorite places, it is also the atmosphere of all the animated displays, nostalgic trinkets and toys from years past, and the tabletop games to keep you entertained while you wait for food. Also, if you go there during the spring, summer and fall months, no trip to Ella’s is complete without a ride on the 1927 Parker Carousel! So much fun!

The next place I want to talk about is one of our local favorites Benji’s Deli. Formerly, known as Benjamin’s (which is neat, because Mr. Pea’s name is Benjamin), this kosher style deli is a family favorite, and most of our family dinners take place here. I just have to say, I have NEVER had a bad meal at Benji’s and I have been going there for years! It has been around for 35 years or so, so they must be doing something right. Oh yeah everything! Best known for their corned beef served on Miler Rye, a local bakery that makes the best rye bread I have ever had. If in the corned beef mood, I usually steer towards their take on a Ruben sandwich, the Gonzo sandwich. What is a Gonzo? It is for those people who don’t favor sauerkraut. That’s right I am just going to say it, I HATE sauerkraut! Sorry for my bluntness, getting back the sandwich, the Gonzo is a corned beef sanwich, with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, thousand island dressing and Cole slaw, served on Miller’s rye bread. It is the best, and it has all of the good stuff from a Reuben and none of that awful kraut!

I hate to even mention this next place, because I just found out (only a few minutes ago) that a few months ago when I last went to this deli, was the last time I will EVER get to go, because it is CLOSED! To add more sting to the open wound we were (ironically enough) there on their last day of service! My heart just dropped when I read this, we were even planning a trip to go back for Mother’s Day, it is a sad day when a good place like this becomes another victim of the recession. Well in effort to let this next place live on after it has closed, I must tell you all about it. It is called George’s What’s Cooking Family Restaurant and was located in Waukegan, Illinois. I loved this place for their bread baskets alone. No matter what time of the day you go, you get a fresh bread basket stocked full of all kinds of fresh bread, crackers and bread sticks. Also, if I haven’t mentioned it before, I am a huge pickle fan! But I don’t like just any pickle, they have to be whole kosher style dill pickles, other pickles simply just do not compare! This place had some good pickles. They also are known for their corned beef, soups (sweet and sour cabbage soup, matzo and borscht), and their American diner food was excellent as well. Anything I had there, had been well amazing! Well I will always remember George’s and it surely will be missed.We had some great memories there that I will look back on, including a brunch for Mother’s Day with Mr. Pea’s late grandmother, Grandma B.

So if that sad story didn’t didn’t make you hungry for some Matzo Ball soup, I don’t know what will.

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MATZO BALL SOUP
serves about 6 people (makes 14 balls)

Ingredients for the soup:
2 chicken thighs (skin on!)
8 cups chicken stock (low-sodium, organic if possible)
2 cups small diced carrots
1 cup small diced celery
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley stems

Ingredients for the balls:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat (melted and cooled slightly)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup matzo meal
4 egg whites

Directions:

Place the chicken thighs in a cold pan, skin-side down, over medium heat. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes until the fat has rendered and browned. Remove from the pan, leaving the fat behind. Combine the stock and browned thighs in a soup pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 30 minutes. Remove the thighs. Add the carrots, celery and parsley stems. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks, chicken stock, chicken fat (from the pan with the thighs), parsley and salt. Stir in the matzo meal. In another bowl, whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks. Add half of the whites into the matzo mixture and stir (the mixture will be quite stiff). Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

ImageBring a pot of water to a boil. Use a 1/4-cup scoop to form the balls and drop gently into the water

ImageAdjust the heat so the water is barely simmering and cook for 15 minutes, when they float to the top that is good it means they will be light and fluffy.

ImageRemove the balls with a slotted spoon and place into the soup.

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Enjoy!