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Showing posts from January, 2011

Gino's Cheeseburger - Heaven on a Bun

I have been going to Gino's Restaurant in Hancock for as long as I can remember.  My Mom's first home was where the vacant lot is now next to Gino's on Quincy Street.  My Grandpa was a cook there for I think over 30 years.  My Grandma worked there and so did my Mom as a waitress.  We lived only a few doors down when I was growing up and I waled over to Gino's countless times picking up our pizza or spaghetti to go.  Gino's has been there since the 1930's and continues to be a hometown institution with its Italian specialties.  Ron and I and our kids go there too at least a couple of times a week now and when I crave a burger, which I often do, there is no other than the burgers at Gino's.  It is really nothing special and nothing fancy it just tastes so darn good and it only costs about $4.  They grind their own burger out of sirloin and they always taste so fresh.  I order mine cooked medium and have it with Swiss cheese and nothing else; it comes on a toa…

Soup - Comfort Food for the Winter Solstice

There is nothing that takes the chill out of those single digit temperature days and evenings like a nice hot bowl of soup.  Cream based soups bring that perfect level of comfort to any winter meal, but even broth soups with hearty ingredients hit the spot.  These two very different (and so easy!) recipes are a couple of my favorites:

Hearty Italian Sausage and Pasta Soup:  8 servings
1 lb hot or sweet Italian Sausage (use turkey sausage for a lighter version).  Try to find a brand with less fennel seed - I found that too much fennel can overpower the dish4 C Chicken Broth2 - 14.5 oz cans Diced Tomatoes, seasoned with basil, garlic, oregano1 C Uncooked Pasta (shells, elbows, bowties or other small shaped pasta)4 C Baby Spinach leaves4 T Grated Parmesan Cheese4 T Chopped Fresh BasilHeat a large pot over medium heat.  Remove casings from sausage.  Add sausage to pan, break apart, crumble and cook for 15 minutes until browned.  Drain and return to pot.  Add broth, tomatoes and pasta to pan…

Snowshoeing and Prosecco - 12/29/11

Even though I have been to McLain State Park probably hundreds of times in my life, I always enjoy it and find new things to take away every time I go, especially in winter.  Ron and I went for a great snowshoe today.  We walked all around the frozen shoreline to the breakwaters and then back on the ski trail.  It was so beautiful.  So quiet.  No one was there.  We really had the place to ourselves.  Lake Superior is not frozen over by any means.  There was open water everywhere.  It was a great day and the sun was out for the majority of it.  After our exercise (90 mins - about 4 miles), we took a ride to Calumet Waterworks a few miles north.  Ron had surprised me and brought along the bottle of  Italian sparkling wine , Lamarca Prosecco, that Cathy had bought for us for Christmas and I failed to remember it until I saw it yesterday in the fridge!  What a happy surprise.  

The Lamarca Prosecco  was a crisp tart wine.  It was not too dry and more sweet than other sparkling wines I h…

Day 11 in Chile - Jan 7th, 2011 - Going Home

I almost don't want to write this posting.  No more blogging on Chile.  Well, I will then be on to blogging other things; but it has been so nice recalling our memories from our wonderful vacation.  All the great food, wine, adventures and friends.  But all good things must come to an end so we can make room for the next good thing.  Good quote - I think I might post it as my Facebook status - ha ha.

Day 11:  Woke up early and began packing before breakfast.  Veronica and I went on our last walk together.  Given all of the stuff I bought on the trip, I was tight for space.  Juan had borrowed a large suitcase from us when he went back to Chile from the states, so he offered to give that back to me.  That was great because then I could also pack two more bottles of Chilean wine to bring back home.

We had no big plans this last day.  Juan was going to bring us to the airport at about 7:00 PM.  Our flight to Atlanta was scheduled to leave at 10:00 PM.  For our last lunch, we were goin…

Day 10 in Chile - Jan 6th, 2011 - Our Last Full Day

For our last full day in Chile we had plans to go on another tour of the coast to a tourist village Pomaire, and  and then to Isla de Negra to the beach and to the home of a famous Chilean poet that had won the Nobel Peace Prize, Pablo Neruda.

After breakfast Veronica and I went to the supermarket to buy some food for our journey.  She had to work in the afternoon and wasn't able to join us.  We made sandwiches for our trip and packed some other snacks.  I love sandwiches with smashed avocado!  I have had it many times since I have been home.

We drove about an hour to Pomaire and walked around the streets.  It was a great little town where many people were selling their pottery and crafts.  I had to bring some Chilean pottery back home.  I bought a Pebre bowl with a design of a pig on it, another small pottery bowl, an ashtray and Ron bought a set of wind chimes.  I have all of them (except the ashtray) displayed in my dining room now.  Link to the City of Pomaire-->>Pomair…

Day 9 in Chile - Jan 5, 2010 - Wine Tasting and 'The Good Guys'

Veronica and Juan Carlos had to both work so Juan had plans to take us to a local winery.  After a morning swim and lunch, we drove to the winery which is right in Talegante.  It is called Undurraga.   Here is a link -->> Undurraga Winery . It is actually within walking distance from the house but we decided to drive because I knew I'd be purchasing some wine and didn't want to have to carry it.  Juan, me, Ron and Rachel went.  Will didn't want to go; he wanted to stay and play on the computer.  I didn't mind letting him stay at the house.  I just told him he could not swim.  We asked the housekeeper, Julia, to let us know if he tried to go into the pool.

Our reservation for the tour was at 2:30.  There were only the 4 of us in the English group so we had our own personal tour.  Our guide's name was David and he spoke perfect English.  Better than Juan even.  He had really no accent at all and I could tell he learned it in the US.  He had spent 2 …

Day 8 in Chile - Jan 4. 2011 - La Trattoria de Juanca

We only had three days left in Chile and I didn't want to leave.  This had been really the best vacation I have ever been on and it was because of the wonderful people we met and the friendships we created.  I will plug  Youth Exchange Programs a bit.  Monique, who I blogged about in Day 1 and Day 2 was an exchange student at my parent's house twenty years ago (because my sister was an exchange student in Rio the year before and the two of them became great friends) and we still remain so close.  I probably have seen Monique at least 6 times in 20 years and we keep in touch on email always.  And regarding our situation with Juan.  I had no idea what to expect when we opened our home to him in 2008.  It turned out to be a great experience and obviously created a lasting friendship, and since our trip, a friendship not only with him but his entire family.  All three of my sisters went on exchange with the Rotary.  Cathy to Brazil, Ruth to France and Sara to Argentina  - and they…

Day 7 in Chile - Jan 3, 2011 - Talegante for Lunch and making Bolognese Sauce

Day 6 was the drive back to Talegante, and in the evening we went to church; a quiet day. 

The morning of Day 7 a usual, was beautiful.  Probably about 75 and sunny with no humidity (no thermometers to speak of either).  Veronica and I went for a walk together and even though I speak almost no Spanish and she (really) speaks decent English, we communicated wonderfully.  A lot was through gestures and pointing.  What we could not figure out we said that we'd ask Juane to translate when we got home.  We walked near the school where all of their children went.  We walked past a lot of small restaurants and shops that were in like long pole barns divided up.  All were serving empanadas and other local food. We also walked to a garden supply store and looked at some flowers.

I was pretty embarrassed by my lack of Spanish.  I definitely had ample time to learn some before our trip.  When I did speak it was a mix of Italian and French and minimal Spanish.  By day 7, I almost had given up…

Day 5 in Chile - Jan 1, 2011 - Trip Half Over!

For staying out until 3:00 AM and not going to sleep until after 4, I was up surprisingly early.  Veronica and I went for a walk.  The streets in Vina are very steep.  We walked down quite a ways and got a decent workout.  We all had breakfast and went on our way to another tour of the coast.  This time more North, past the town where Pedro lives.  It was another beautiful day.  We were getting a bit crowded in the truck so Ron got out and sat in the back.  He ended up with a terrible sunburn because of the reflection on the dark truck on the back of his leg.  But he said it was better than having Will sit on his lap for one more mile.

We stopped at some points along the way to take photos and went to another beach and Will swam again.  Emilia, Juan's oldest sister, and her fiance, Sebastian, had arrived at the house so we went there to meet them.  Emelia is a physiologist and works in social services and Sebastian is an architectural designer.  They are getting married this July.…

Day 4 in Chile - December 31, 2010 - ¡Feliz año nuevo!

I woke up pretty early and tried to go for a walk/run.  I got all ready and dressed and had my iPod all set and walked out the front door of the rental house in Vina.  Ugh....the front gate to get out onto the street was locked to my surprise.  I guess assumed I could get out, just maybe not back in.  But nope, I was stuck there - outside the house and sitting on the stoop for about an hour until Rachel let me back in.  There was no way back to the backyard either, that was also fenced off.   I didn't want to wake anyone up so I skipped the exercise that morning.  I sat and listened to my music and thought about how happy I was to be on vacation in Chile. 

We all had breakfast.  I helped prepare it with Coke and Veronica.  I was getting the hang of this quite well by now.  I was in charge of the toast.  There was this gadget that looked like a frying pan with a mesh bottom that was used to make toast on the stove.  After a while I learned how to operate it.  I guess it is good to…

Day 3 in Chile - Dec 30, 2010 - Vina del Mar and Valparaiso

Day three in Chile had us headed to a four day stay in Vina del Mar, a beach resort city on the Central Coast.  We were going there for New Year's celebration and to see the beaches.  We took two vehicles, Juan Carlos' Ford pickup with all the bags in it and riding were me, Juan, Ron and Will.  In Veronica's Jeep Grand Cherokee was all the food and passengers Juan Carlos, Veronica, Coke and Rachel. It was about a two and half hour drive to Vina.  We stopped for sandwiches along the way.  Most sandwiches in Chile seem to be topped with smashed avocado, tomatoes, and mayonnaise (which is like our sour cream in the US).  Most everyone had a beef sandwich with those toppings 'El lomito italiano'.  I had a hot dog with those toppings.  Really good!  And the sandwiches are huge!  See recipe below.  The bread is something probably not as readily found here.  At least not where I live.

We had to drive through some small mountains to get to the coast.  We stopped to take s…

Day 2 in Chile - Dec 29, 2010 - Santiago

Veronica and Juan Carlos both had to go to work on our second day.  Vero is an Agricultural Engineer for a large international company and Juan Carlos is a Logistics Manager for a Chilean asphalt/civil engineering company.

So, Juan Esteban had plans to bring us to Santiago, the capital of Chile, to tour the city. 

We left at about 11:00 AM in Juan Carlos' Ford F150 (no 4WD needed in Chile, of course) for the drive to Santiago.  Josefina 'Coke' came also.  I was really trying to speak Spanish this day.  I did ok.  We parked in a large parking garage and then came out in the Central Station in Santiago.  It is a beautiful, clean place, with a huge shopping center.  Every US store was there.  The design of the actual station was done by Eiffel (yes, of France).

We walked around the vibrant city.  So nice and warm and so full of young people.  Santiago has a great amount of universities.  I don't know how many but seemed to be way more than a dozen.  We saw some effects o…

Day 1 in Chile - December 28th 2010

We landed at Santiago airport at about 9:30 AM and made our way through customs and immigration checkpoints without too much trouble.  I found out that the US is one of the countries that Chile has a reciprocal agreement with, which meant to us that we each had to pay 140 USD to enter the country (but did not need a visitor visa).  The weather was beautiful.  It is rare to see thermometers in Chile because the weather is always the same:  sunny and warm, not too humid - Perfect.

Juan was waiting for us after we picked up our bags.  It was so nice to see him after such a long time.  We drove the 20 minutes or so from Santiago to the suburb where Juan lives with his family, Talegante.  There was a traditional Chilean breakfast and the open arms of Juan's parents, Juan Carlos and Veronica waiting for us. I knew the minute I met them that we were going to be great friends.  The make up of our families is similar.  Two older daughters and a younger son.  Breakfast consisted of bread, s…

First Blog Post Ever...

I'm new to blogging.  I'm 43, have been married for almost 25 years, have three kids ages 22, 17, 12.  I am an engineer and am a senior manager at a large IT company.

I love to cook, I love to be outdoors, I love to exercise and love movies, music and travel.  My political views are progressive and socially liberal.  I thought I'd start a blog to see if anyone cares what I have to say.   

I had the fantastic opportunity to visit Chile for ten days with my family over the New Year's holiday.  It's been a week since we have been back home in northern Michigan, and I miss the great food, wine and friends in Chile.

I'll post some of my recipes and photos of dishes and parties; a big goal this year is for me to cook and entertain more often, and to try more ethnic and interesting foods.  Italian is my forte, but I want to branch out.  I also want to get all of my favorite recipes in one place.

Since I am still so high on Chile, I will be starting to blog about our…