A Taste of Door County

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Whenever we travel to Door County, we return home with a car full of tasty goodies.  There are annual favorites (we bring my dad a pie from Bea’s and I love Koepsel’s Pumpkin Butter and Jellies) and there are recent additions (spaghetti sauce from Sammy Rae’s) and this year’s newest find…Island Orchard Cider and farm fresh apples.

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One thing I always pick up is a big bag of dried cherries.  I like to say that I will put them in salads like my local favorite at Wild Tomato, full of goat cheese and cherries, but ultimately I just love to bake with them.  When I was searching for recipes to make this past weekend, it was the cherries that caught my eye.  Add in the chocolate and oatmeal and the page was bookmarked!

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Although the point of this book is to make BIG cookies, I decided to keep these ‘normal’ sized.

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These cookies are a soft oatmeal cookie with the addition of chocolate.

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And in case that is not enough…more chocolate chips and tart dried cherries make these cookies unbelievably addictive!

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Once baked, these cookies needed to hide out in the laundry room…so silly…I know, but it’s the only way to keep Cooper’s nosy nose out of them.  Then, they will be packaged up and sent off to New York for Thanksgiving.  I did bring a few to work, where they were a HUGE hit, and the BOY and I have been snacking on them all week.

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We have been enjoying all of our DC goodies.  Can’t wait to go back and stock up on more!

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Do you bring home food when you travel?

Some of my best finds were tea and spices from Israel and chocolate (and of course wine) from Napa!

 

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

From Big Fat Cookies by Elinor Klivans

 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract (I just did 1 teaspoons of vanilla)

2 1/2 cups oatmeal (not quick cooking or a mixture of quick and not quick)

1 cup dried cherries

2 cups milk chocolate chips (I think semi-sweet worked really well too)

Directions

Position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or Silpats).

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until smoothly blended, about 1 minute scrapping the sides as needed.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until blended, about 1 minute.  The mixture may look curdled.  On low speed, add the flour mixture and oatmeal, mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the dough looks smooth again.  Mix in the dried cherries and chocolate chips.

Using a regular sized scoop or 1/4 cup measure, scoop the dough onto the prepared making sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart (if making big cookies).  Bake the cookies one sheet at a time (I did not do this) until the tops feel firm and look dull rather than shiny, about 22 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer to a cooling rack.

Store in airtight container for 4 days or freeze.

MiniMooners

After the absolute excitement and craziness of a wedding, there was only one place we wanted to be…

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Door County, Wisconsin!

We drove up Friday afternoon and after a quick stop at a winery for a tasting, checked into our adorable room complete with a kitchen and fireplace.  We didn’t stay long before heading further up north for Friday night fish fry.  Not surprisingly, there was a wait, so we found a comfortable spot on a bench at the bar across the street, Wisconsin beer in hand.  There is no place more relaxing than DC!

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Even though the weather was raining on and off, we had the most wonderful 4 days.  We caught some gorgeous fall colors and ate ourselves silly with all the delicious food.  We hiked through Peninsula State Park and walked through Cave Point and Newport State Park.

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The waves on the Lake Michigan coast were intense!  And we built our first rock structure along the shore.

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We sampled cheese, bread, wine, and Island Orchard Hard Cider

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We drank coffee, hot chocolate, and tea and ate pie, cookies, donuts, and fudge.  We visited our favorite pizza place (twice)!

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We visited old favorites and discovered some amazing new places (ie farm fresh meats and fresh picked apples).  And when the rain came pouring down, we gathered around the fireplace to play games and drink champagne.

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I shopped the markets and stores and had two peaceful morning runs through the state park.

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It was the perfect long weekend of rest and play…

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For my new husband and I!

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Five for Friday XXXV

1. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve done a Friday post (although this last Cooper edition is pretty cute).  In fact, I’m sorry I’ve been a not-so-good blogger in general lately.

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2.  It’s Friday and that makes me VERY happy!  Especially this particular Friday because the BOY and I are leaving for our mini moon in Door County after this morning’s joint gym session.

 

3. I’m super excited to welcome pumpkin season!  Have you had your PSL or Pumpkin Blizzard yet?

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Even better, the BOY’s homemade pumpkin ice cream!  He nailed it on the first try!

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4.  Exciting news…we booked our January honeymoon.  Can’t wait to share all the details!

 

5. I only have one sneak peak photo from our photographer and I am obsessed.  A HUGE thank you to the incredibly talented woman who created my look, Jaycie, and our fun, and amazing photographer, Gisselle!

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What’s going on with you guys this Friday?

What We’ve Been Up To This Week

Thank you to my friends, family, and readers for your patience, support, and encouragement during these last 15 months.  Our engagement time was incredible and it was so fun to share our wedding excitement with you!

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The BOY (a few of you asked if I was changing his blog title…I considered the MR. or HUBBY, but I think I’m going to keep it the BOY) and I spent last Monday doing a whole lot of nothing.  It was a pizza and PJ’s kind of day combined with the Lifetime 90210 movie and of course Cooper cuddles.

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We did drag ourselves out of the house for one last family dinner with my relatives in from NY and Florida.  It was so fun to spend the night hearing about their Chicago adventures and recapping the stories of the wedding once again.  It was so fun to have everyone in town and I was sad to see them go.

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The rest of the week whizzed by as we adjusted to being back at work.  I caught up on sleep…woo hoo!  I got our new bedding all set up (including the adorable blanket my patient’s mom knit for us). I binge watched UnREAL.  I put my crockpot to work and meal planned.  I didn’t do a whole lot of exercise or much of anything else.  My computer keyboard stopped working for a bit, which is why you haven’t heard from me much.

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Saturday morning, the BOY and I got back into our workout routine with strength training at the gym.  We had a super fun Saturday hanging out with my family and celebrating my dad’s retirement while watching the Cubs vs Mets baseball game.

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I partied way too hardy for my 34 year old body but had a blast drinking beer and playing darts at the bar until 2am.  I paid for it Sunday, but the BOY and I still managed to do our grocery store run and meal plan for the week.  I wasn’t able to find the chili recipe that I like for Buffalo Chili, but found a new one to try instead.

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It turned out good, but  THIS is still one of my favorites!  I also baked up a delicious fall pumpkin bread while the BOY made pumpkin ice cream…Mmm!  I turned in early Sunday night to catch up on more sleep AND because I am working tomorrow.

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I work Monday through Thursday and then Friday the BOY and I are going on a mini moon to Door County, Wisconsin.

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What have you been doing?

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Chili

From The Skinny Fork

Ingredients
1 Lb. Ground Chicken Breast
1 Medium White Onion, Chopped
1 C. Celery, Chopped
1 C. Carrots, Chopped
1 C. Cauliflower Florets
2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
2 C. Sodium Free Chicken Broth
1 14.5 Oz. Can Diced Tomatoes (No Salt Added), Undrained
1 15 Oz. Can Cannellini Beans, Drained & Rinsed
1/2 C. Hot Sauce (I used a chipotle flavor.)
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Chili Powder
1 Tsp. Paprika
1/2 Tsp. Ground Oregano
1/4 Tsp. Cayenne

Directions

Brown the chicken in as skillet.  Toss the cooked chicken and the rest of the ingredients together into a crock pot.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  Top with blue cheese, avocado, chips or whatever you like!

DC Part 3: Why I Heart Door County

The final portion of this 3 part series is meant to allow me to share with ya’ll why the BOY and I continue to return to Door County each summer!  It’s not meant to make you want to plan a DC vacation, but warning…it just might!

 

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Why I Heart Door County…

 

Everyone is friendly. 

It is easy to make a new friend while running along a trail or sitting by the docks.  In Door County, Bears and Packers fans can even share a bar and bartender.  Does it get any friendlier than that?!

 

There is a nice mixture of city life and state parks.

I love to explore the shops, but my favorite places are the views from the parks.

 

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There’s always something new to discover.

This year, there was a new bakery (that we went to twice) and a hard cider distillery that was closed but that we will definitely visit next year.  And we found new (to us) hiking trails up north along the bluffs.

 

Yet some things stay the same.

The burritos at Good Eggs were as big and satisfying as the first time I had them ~10 years ago.

 

You can picnic with local fare.

The BOY and I bought bread from the local bakery, cheese from the artisan shop, cherries from the market, and DC wine for an afternoon picnic.  Due to rain, we ended up on the floor of our hotel room, but it was still a memorable meal!

 

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I always feel balanced.

I seem to be able to find the perfect mix of activity, rest, reading, eating, shopping, and drinking.  This is why I try to extend our trip every year.  Who wouldn’t love that feeling?

 

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Sunsets.

No explanation needed!

 

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Don’t miss…

Part 1

Part 2

 

 

What is your favorite repeat vacation destination?

Why?

DC Part 2: …And Sucked as a Marathoner

If you missed Door County Part 1, you can catch up HERE!

 

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So obviously marathoners are supposed to run, which I did very little of, but I must also admit that although beer and cheese aren’t normally a big part of my diet, they were this weekend!  It started early on our way up to Door County with a stop at Kopp’s in Milwaukee.

 

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I’m not usually a big fan of frozen custard, but everyone raves around Kopp’s, so I had to try it.  And it was every bit more amazing than I could have imagined!  I finished half of the turtle custard before the BOY was done with his burger.

 

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With full and happy tummies, we got back on the road for Door County.  We checked into our hotel and then drove up north to Sister Bay for Friday Night Fish Fry.  This is a common theme in Wisconsin and one worth participating in!  In the past, the BOY and I have not been up in DC on Fridays, so this was exciting.

 

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I remembered from years past that the Sister Bay Bowl has the best fish fry in the county.  By 5:30, there was already a 45 minute wait, so we walked across the street to Husby’s for a Happy Hour beer.

 

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For dinner, we both agreed on the fried perch, which came with fries and a slaw.

 

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The breading was light and the perch every bit as wonderful as I remember!  We even considered ordering another plate to share but instead made our way back to Fish Creek.  On the way, we caught a beautiful sunset, which I tried to photo from the moving car.

 

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The night was young, so our next stop was the tavern for some New Glarus on tap.  What a treat!

 

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I’m talking specifically about the beer, but the entire day was full of them!  Day 2 started with a bike ride and then it was off to the winery for a tasting.

 

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It’s 5:00 somewhere!!!

 

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After our tasting, we decided to sit out back listening to live music with some wine.

 

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And an antipasto plate!  Everything on the plate was local, fresh, and incredible!  The BOY and I devoured the entire thing!

 

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Then went back home for a nap.  When we woke up, it had rained and there was a full rainbow that we could see from our porch.  It was soo cool!

 

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The next day involved a run and some hiking, which was followed by a an amazing meal at our favorite restaurant, Wild Tomato!

 

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You might remember it from last year’s post Will Hike For Pizza!

 

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I should also tell you that Wild Tomato has a fantastic beer list,  including a new local brew from Door County Brewing Company called Little Sister that is my new favorite beer!  I brought home a trunk full : )

 

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I should probably also confess that we returned to Wild Tomato for a second meal of pizza and beer on our last day. 

 

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Embarrassing, but true!

 

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So as you can see…my weekend was a little more beer, biking, and cheese than marathon prep (oh and did I mention the dark chocolate covered cherries?!), but totally worth it! 

 

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Between the food, relaxation, outdoor activities, and sunsets, the BOY and I always have the BEST vacation up in Door County!

Which is why I’ve decided to title Door County Part 3: Why I Heart Door County…although it probably should be called,”How I returned to reality, stopped drinking beer, woke up early, and became a marathoner again!”    LOL : )

Door County Part 1: How I Cheated on Running

I really wanted to name this post ‘How I Cheated on Running and Sucked as a Marathoner’, but that seemed like a lot to fit into one post.  So I broke it into a two part series.

Let’s rewind to last Friday…

 

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I had big plans to do my 15 mile run accompanied by my Mom on her bike.  However, I awoke to grey skies and rain drops, so instead of running, I went back to bed!  Two hours later, I woke again and the BOY suggested that we pack up quickly and hit the road for Door County Wisconsin.  Full of excitement, we were in the car before noon.

 

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The view from our hotel balcony

 

We arrived at our hotel in Fish Creek where we stayed last year too!

 

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First thing Saturday morning, I was on my bike and heading towards Peninsula State Park.  One of the best things about staying in Fish Creek is easy access to the park.  I biked here a few times last summer, and shared an entire post of pictures.

 

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But I took a few more this year as well!

 

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Including a selfie with the sailboat.

 

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I stopped throughout the 12 miles at a few of my favorite views and tried to catch a picture of a beautiful deer on the edge of the park.  I missed her!

 

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We had a great first day in Door County, and I was excited to be back on my bike for another ride day two.

 

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I rode 13.5 miles back through the park on another gorgeous morning!  Then picked up the BOY and returned to Peninsula State Park for a hike through the woods and along the bay.

 

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I heart hiking!!!

 

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Especially when it ends with some beer and pizza : )

 

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On day three, I finally laced up my shoes for a run!  I jogged 5 miles along the park path at race pace (9 minute miles), where I saw a deer and met a nice man to talk about it with.

 

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This morning, day four, I was back on my bike for another 11 miles!  It was an overcast morning with some stunning skies.  And a great way to end my relaxing, yet active vacation.

 

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I definitely cheated on running this trip, but was happy to be reunited with my bike and hiking boots!  Now that I am home, it is back to marathon training.  I am debating if I will skip the 15 mile run all together and continue with my training plan or sub in the 15 miles for this week’s 11 mile run.  Decisions to be made another day!

 

Up Next…more Door County fun with Part 2: How I Sucked as a Marathoner!

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A Squash Tale

My alternative title for this post was…‘When a random man offers you a squash…politely decline just say No!’

 

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The reason for this alternative title will soon be clear!  As my Mom alluded in her guest post, our ride home from Door County involved squash…and quite The Squash Tale!

 

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It all began with innocently enough with a stop by Grandma Tommy’s Country Store and the cool pumpkin patch right next door.

 

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I’ve never seen so many fun and creative pumpkins!

 

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The owners were very nice and knowledgeable about all of the different types of squashes and gourds.

 

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I loved how festive they were creating all of these colorful squash piles!

 

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As I was walking out of the store and heading out to our car, I heard an odd commotion.  I looked over to find pumpkins rolling around in the road.  Someone had driven off without shutting their back door and their purchases were soon spread across the parking lot.  All pumpkins were in tact except for one HUGE squash that was split in two! 

 

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The owner of the patch offered up the 2 halves to a few of us paying for our pumpkins.  Since the other lady was so excited, my Mom and I figured that we too should have half of this beach ball sized gourd even though we had no idea what to do with it (or where it would fit in our already packed car).

 

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It took us an embarrassingly long time to leave the Door, but it was worth all of the shopping and laughs.  I kept busy through Milwaukee’s rush hour flipping through my new book.  I found this fun cookbook at a used book store during one of our last day stops. What I liked about it (besides that I love to bake) was that the creative recipes have only a few ingredients (mostly things you already have) and lots of pictures that look mouth wateringly good.

 

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We finally made it back to my parent’s around 7pm, and I was ready for dinner.  Good thing my Mom packed up some Charlie’s smoked fish to go.

 

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But, we still had this squash to deal with…

 

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Since it was late and we were clueless, we started with the basics.  Preheat oven, de-seed squash, and roast. Then sit down for an end-of-vacation glass of wine and dinner.

 

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But what happens 60 minutes later when you are ready to head to bed and your squash is harder than a log?  I (obviously) suggested…the crockpot!

 

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So into the crockpot our unknown variety of squash did NOT go because it was WAY To big.  My mom attempted to cut said squash but the situation quickly turned dangerous!  I suggested the electric knife, which we had just used for the holidays.

 

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And when it appeared that my mom was more likely to loose a finger than cut her squash into two pieces, my Dad stepped in to assist.

 

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It was not an easy task (taking 4 hands plus a photographer), and as my Dad pointed out…he doesn’t even like squash!

 

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Despite a valiant effort, the squash finally gave way splitting into 2 big but not so ginormous portions.

 

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That still didn’t fit into the crockpot…

 

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I was laughing so hard at this point because you seriously can’t script comedy like this.  And although we were tempted to give up and toss our FREE squash to the curb…at this point, we were invested!

 

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My Dad was able to cut the flesh away from the tough outer edge on one section of the squash and a great deal of time later, we had something for the crockpot.

 

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Seriously…that was it!  All of that blood, sweat, and tears laughter and this was all we had to show for ourselves.  That alternative title is seeming like an obvious second choice right about now…isn’t it?!  With a little more effort, we (at this point, it was definitely a group effort) were able to salvage a little more ‘meat’ for an overnight stay in the crockpot.

 

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Before wrapping up the rest and heading to bed.  There is only so much laughter and shenanigans that one can take in an evening : )

 

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By morning, we had a unique and tasty puree. 

 

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It had the same consistency as pumpkin but maybe a little sweeter.  Thank goodness it was so yummy or all that work would have been for nothing!  My Mom was in charge of the roasting up the rest of the squash and the next time I saw her, she had even more mystery puree.  I know that you can freeze puree and I have used it in soups in the past (so good!).  You’ll have to wait for A Squash Tale Chapter II to find out how I used this batch! 

 

The End!

 

Most important question…can you name the squash? 

I actually have no idea and because of a power outage can’t look it up. 

 

Number 2: Do you like squash?  What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Finishing Strong in the Door (County) {A Guest Post}

From my favorite Guest Blogger…Mom

 

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Well, as the ‘preferred’ guest blogger… I am excited to share our final day in Door County.

 

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Let me just say that after one day of a 10 mile bike ride and two hour hike and another day of a 24 mile hilly bike ride, I didn’t know if I was up for a ‘challenging’ trail…the Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park. Darling Daughter (DD) was quite the enthusiastic hike leader promoting the next days adventure… while I was quietly sipping my Spotted Cow and feeling mellow.

 

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I have just realized that this is the year that I am double my daughter’s age… hrrrrmph, she is 31 and so I am………………. twice that. again, hrrrrrrmmmph!

But back to the hike… we were up early and drove into the park as the trail begins at the far side.

 

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The weather was perfect, the sky an amazing blue and the trail deserted.  We saw only one other hiker and his adorable dog. We climbed down and along the rock face and then clambered back up for a total of about 2 miles.

 

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The majesty of the towering cliffs was awesome. I was intrigued throughout the weekend by the tenacity of the trees and plants as they cling to life on a rock face. The roots wind and weave intricate patterns as they search for a toe hold.

 

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It is easy to understand how the storms and winds can overturn and uproot an entire tree and root system. The root designs are works of art.

 

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And then there are the cliffs… created in strata over millions of years, heaved into the air by glaciers and now slowly crumbling as the wind and water do their work. We saw trickle waterfalls, mini caves and amazing flowers growing in the rocks.

 

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The trail was well marked, the park is the first Wisconsin State Park, created in 1909. Much of the land was already farm fields and in some cases the land was acquired with the landowners retaining lifetime rites. The last of these expired in 1964. As a nation, we owe a debt to the visionaries who created such beautiful public spaces for all to share.

 

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We ended at the tower… while I felt strong, another tower was just not in my happy place, so I stayed ground level while Jen climbed.. We watched the eagles soar, twist and dive.. an amazing sight and then made our way back to our room.. to check out and begin the journey home..

 

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The 4 hour drive took 8 fun-filled hours as we stopped at all of our favorite shops and markets, and a few new ones, on the way out of Door County. I think there is a tale of a squash coming soon to this blog to end the adventure…

 

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Are you a Door County Regular or is Door County on your bucket list?

 

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Thanks Mom for going on one last hike!

It was a fantastic way to end our trip!