It's been a long lapse since my last post. We've been to Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a brief snowy day-trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see Lake Superior. We've seen my family and Jake's family, had many big meals, and learned just how cold the Midwest can get.
My parents, brother, and nieces Olivia and Julia holed up in a cabin for a week (the picture is dust on the frozen lake outside our cabin), where we spent most of our time putting on layers and then peeling them off again. The cabin is on 8,000 acres of property owned by Dairymen's--a private club that was started by dairy farmers from Illinois about a hundred years ago. My mom's grandfather was one of those dairy people (he shod horses for the delivery trucks), and she spent her summers there as a kid. It's definitely more rustic than resort (much of the land is nature preserve), but there are staff who keep the cabins stocked with wood and the cabins themselves are big, modern and warm. Even at capacity -- 120 people in 40 or so cabins lining two big lakes -- you could go a full day without crossing paths with anyone else. We fell into a pattern quickly: each morning and afternoon involved a couple of hours of some snow-related activity, and each evening some cooking and card-playing or movie-watching.
The seven of us went through an amazing amount of food. Off the top of my head, in seven days we went through:
6 lbs ground beef
5 lbs stew beef
1 5lb chicken
1 lb beans
4 lbs pasta
98 oz canned tomatoes
4 lbs carrots
3 lbs onions
2 gallons of milk
3 dozen eggs
That's just the start of it. We had some leftovers and unused stuff that I think made its way to the local firehouse. I did a bunch of cooking but not much baking aside from pecan pies by request from my niece Olivia, who really did most of the work. We tried making a maple syrup pecan pie (we had about a liter of syrup), but it was only mediocre. The caramel version was the crowd favorite, for sure.
But now I'm back in Seattle, and not particularly looking forward to returning to real life and avoiding thinking about all the work I neglected for the last three weeks (a month?). I made one half-hearted attempt at work the other day, but then we needed to make dinner and then my laptop was needed to watch Seabuscuit. It was out of my hands.
Jake and I also decided to investigate doing a commitment ceremony up at Dairymen's, maybe in the fall. I have no idea if it is possible, but put out some feelers with the staff up there. My mom would be thrilled, it's convenient for Jake's family in Minneapolis, it is self-contained and comfortable, and I think it would be a really relaxing time for anyone who made it out. But all that will have to be dealt with later. Here is the same lake in the late summer.
I hope you've all had a great and safe holiday, and that you have a happy and healthy and fun-filled 2009. I really miss being close to friends and family, and I hope that 2009 brings lots of togetherness opportunities. Maybe even a wedding. Or a graduation party!
Going forward I also hope to do shorter, more regular, posts, with some sort of structure. I'm thinking recipes on Fridays and dissertation updates on Tuesdays. A holiday recipes pdf will be the first Friday recipes post, since a few people have asked my for those.
Happy new year! Much love.