Visit From the Illinois Fam

After I finished work on Friday, I was very eager to start the weekend. Dave’s way of starting the weekend was to take a very long nap after his 12 (?) hour work shift, so I headed to O’so Tap House with Dan and Emily.

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Central Wisconsin is a king of microbrews, and O’so is no exception. I particularly love their Night Train beer.

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We sipped our beers while playing a few card games: War and Slap Jack.

008Friday night ended relatively quietly, because Dave and I were preparing for his family’s visit the following day.

Since we cleaned the house, I thought I’d give you a mini tour of our new home.

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The living room.

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The bedroom.

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And the most important room in the house.

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This was a bare wall when we moved in. Dave installed the counter top, shelves, and a rod to hang our pots and pans from. I helped attach the legs, but that was pretty much it. I love the new work space he created. I can’t wait to cook a feast in it!

After cleaning, we ran a few errands and decided to check out an Asian market that we both pass frequently.

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Dave bought the ingredients to make our own miso soup base, and we also left with some dried seaweed (it’s a great snack!), spinach noodles, soy sauce, and coconut juice.

Some other interesting finds included gelatinous mutant coconut.

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Beef blood and bile (note the edible).

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And a whole chicken: feet, head, eyeballs, and all.
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We didn’t expect Dave’s parents and sister until 7:00pm, so it was a long day waiting for them, as we were both excited to finally see them again.

We hoped to take them to Father Fats for dinner, but when we found out it was a 40 minute wait, the five of us walked a few blocks over to Habibi’s.

Beers all around! (Lemonade for Ali).

019I had a Central Waters Mudpuppy Porter which is one of my favorite CW beers. Very rich, dark, and smooth.
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I started with the gyro chili, which was good but had a little too much meat for my taste. I’m one of the weirdos who prefers vegetarian chili to chili with meat (aka real chili).

The five of us also shared an appetizer plate with hummus, falafel, samosas, dolmas, pitas, kalamata olives, and garnish.

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We ordered extra dolmas, because they’re so good. I’m going to add them to the list of things I want to make at home, right under sushi and lettuce wraps.

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For dinner I ordered the Vegetable Kabobs, which was a mix of veggies and pineapple cooked in a curry-type sauce and served with dill basmati rice and pitas. It was also good, but not great. No one can hold a candle to Taste of India’s curry.

We went back to the house to hang out for a bit and had some dessert, courtesy of Barry: apple brownies. They were moist, cinnamony, and chock-full of apples, basically fall in dessert form.

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We hung out in the kitchen (I’m so glad that we have a kitchen table to use now!) and played a game Ali brought called Castle Panic.

Instead of playing against one another, everyone bands together to play against the monsters in the game. We won, and I was named Slayer Master! It was really fun, and I decided that we need to add it to our collection. We also played a round of Wits & Wagers before they headed back to their hotel for the night. Unfortunately, our guest bedroom is pretty much just a cat room and storage room for now. Someday…

Eight hours of shut-eye, and we were up and at ’em again. I headed to the grocery store to pick up eggs while Dave made biscuits.

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His dad, the biscuit master, said they were perfect. I agreed.

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In addition to eggs, I also fried up some breakfast potatoes.

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Sunday mornings and breakfast potatoes go together quite well.

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And bacon just goes with any day. I’ve been baking my bacon a lot lately. It’s much easier and mess-free if you line the pan with aluminum foil. I usually just put it in a cold oven, turn it to 400 degrees and check it between 15 and 20 minutes. I like really crispy bacon, so sometimes I even bake it a bit longer.

We meandered to the antique store after breakfast, where Ali hit the jackpot. She and her wife Jaimee moved into a house, and they are going through the wonderful (and I’m sure somewhat stressful) process of decorating it.

I found a wooden corner shelf for our bedroom (since I don’t have an end table), and a cool Beatles book that I had to buy for my friend Emily.

Every time we see Dave’s family, it’s never long enough. They left in the early afternoon to make the three and a half hour drive back to Illinois, and Dave and I headed over to hang out with our friends Em and Dan for a bit.

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Hi Em! Hi Miss Marple!

While there, I finally read my Food Network Thanksgiving Issue, and we discussed the menu for our Housewarming/Friendsmas/Dan & Em’s Birthday Party. Dave and I changed our minds a few times about the dinner: we initially were going to have a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, then I suggested the idea of us just doing appetizers, then we went back to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner cooked just by us, and we finally landed on Thanksgiving-inspired appetizers. Phew!

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Here’s the tentative list:

~Brie en Croute with Cranberry Chutney, Shredded Turkey, and Walnuts

~Samosas with Dressing and Brussels Sprouts

~Shredded Turkey Egg Rolls with Gravy Dipping Sauce

~Savory Monkey Bread (which we found in the Food Network Magazine and looks amazing)

~Roasted Garlic & Mushroom Hummus with Crudites

~Sandwich Station

We also decided on three beverages: Wassail, Rumplecider, and Black Tea Punch

I can’t wait to get cooking! But first things first: the real Thanksgiving in 2 1/2 weeks. I’m excited.

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