braised caramelized sweet pork and eggs! mmm

spring cleaning!

...because i can load more than a washer and dryer! hah.

the weather in northcentral wisconsin has been reminiscent of spring this past week; before i get ahead of myself though, it's wisconsin and i am positive we have many more cold snowy days before the april showers decide to stay for good!

for now though, the snow is melting, brown grass surfacing, and open water season has even begun! while the boats are beginning to stack up below the local dams for the walleye bite in these neck of the woods... sights of toms strutting are already being reported too! and hearing this gets me excited! ;D t's only natural that in preparation for the upcoming season, i spent the evening cleaning for the spring hunt!

DIY antlers? only in wisconsin, only with me...

during a recent winter hike through the woods, i was lucky enough to stumble upon an antler when i took a turn off the beaten path. after what seemed to be a creatively uninspiring winter, this was just enough to spark a little excitement and get my formerly frozen artistic juices flowing once again! yes, i get amused by the smallest things, don't judge me. ;P

this unexpected discovery was definitely something special, representative of typical sconnielife, that i wanted to proudly display. however, rather than just a bare lone shed i wanted to jazz it up - and from there, the ideas were endless. #firstworldproblems, at its finest!

when i couldn't fully commit on a single creative direction to take it in, i realized it was because i appreciated it too much as it naturally was and didn't want to risk potentially botching it if my project went awry. the problem-solver in me then asked myself: i wonder if i can just make my own sheds?

the thought of crafting my own sheds for the purpose of "art" was still meandering inside my head with fresh tracks while i was in my kitchen making dinner that evening. and like the cliche eureka moments we don't hear enough about, it was then and there when i looked at my jar of all-purpose flour where everything hit me like a ton of bricks! and what seemed to have been just an idea minutes earlier now became a feasible project to try immediately!

in all honesty, i really didn't think it through too much before i was taken over with inspiration and found myself tearing strips of newspaper for the next steps. yes, i was doing all of this as i was waiting for my dinner to finish cooking. using only the supplies i had on hand, aluminum foil and masking tape were how i created the basic shape for my pair of antlers - referencing my actual horn. with the strips of newspaper and a water + flour mix (see me being resourceful? :) i paper mache'd both antlers reinforcing the structure and had it complete and ready to dry before my dinner was even ready! easy peasy! not to mention, this was a good place to stop for the night because it was as far as i had thought about. smh, lols.

a few nights later, once they had completely dried, i once again found myself inspired to continue. they weren't looking too bad either, which helped! haha. figuring out the next step as i stared at it, i decided to knead a flour + hot water dough and use it as a paste to cover and smooth out the texture from the paper mache. and, once again, WOW! it couldn't have worked any better!

once that layer dried, several days later, i sanded down any rough spots on the antlers until it was smooth... and it was really starting to look and feel like the real thing, now more than ever! if i were excited before, i was ecstatic by now! haha. i didn't stop here though; i was too inspired by now to half-ass it any more, so with the help of a hot glue gun, i started to imitate the texture visible by the base of the horns in another attempt to continue to make it as realistic as i could. once i was happy with that, i mixed white and brown acryllic paint until it reached a comparable shade to that of my actual horn and painted the craft antlers... also detailing it with hints of brown and white for dimension after the first few layers dried. incredibly nerdy, but i couldn't be more proud of the end products - and the "let's try this" approach!, i just need to find where i want to display them in order to add the last finishing touch - coordinating/color block painting them to match! stay tuned! ;D

vanilla bean and star anise kumquat marmalade... so delicious!

either i have the most amazing friends or the littlest things make me happy! :)

earlier this week, i received a package from houston texas. it was a box of kumquats that my dear friend picked from her family's front yard and sent me; oh, how incredibly lucky to be able to grow such interesting little fruits! i've never had these before!

i can only begin to imagine what would be in my own garden if i lived in a climate where it was warm year round! 'til then, thank the universe for the great people i've been fortunate enough to befriend and call kindred spirits! i like to believe "your vibe attracts your tribe!" and when you find your tribe, love them hard!

using rice wine, pure honey, vanilla bean and star anise... i made a delicious kumquat marmalade. think: subtle notes of amazing flavors paired together on a citrus dancefloor! not to mention, the sweet fragrance that filled the air in the process! mmm. #happygirl

...and because the essential oils-rich peel is as edible as the fruit itself, it all stayed in and was just an added bonus that all the health benefits were concentrated even further during the cooking process! not to mention, the peels also served as all natural pectin for the marmalade and it all came together perfectly!

yeah, i'm kind of a cooking nerd too, haha. it's sorta ridiculous how excited i can get at the thought of playing with a new ingredient and learning all about it! you know what they say, "you are what you eat!" so make sure it's nothing easy, fake or cheap! ;D

i only love sleep because it's a time machine to breakfast! sure makes for another perfect companion to buttered toast and bagels..! a tangy and refreshing kumquat strawberry lemonade doesn't hurt either. if i close my eyes, i'd almost believe it were summer in wisconsin this early morning! bon apetit.

banana blossoms, whaaat!?

i love food too much to settle for mediocrity out of convenience... and that's where my passion for cooking and experimenting really developed. living in smalltown us of a, the ethnic food scene (notably my favorite!) is definitely lacking among a sea of more conservative and/or less diverse restaurants when you consider the landscape of my life! don't get me wrong, we have some amazing places with fresh new chefs among us moving away from the traditional, but my focus right now is mainly on the lack of a quality southeast asian spread in central and northcentral wisconsin!

i hate to admit this, but during my tenure in the big[ger] city i seldom cooked, if at all. and it was because authentic and quality cuisine across the board was available everywhere! from fine dining establishments to food trucks and hidden gems of mom&pop shops, there were always the joints that consistently lived up to their reputation and hype! in addition, there was always what seemed to be a new up and coming spot that offered cool little twists on traditional dishes and flavors too which were also a favorite passtime i regularly looked forward to exploring and enjoying.

the smell and nostalgia of asian marts and supermarkets are within some of my earliest childhood memories... fruits and vegetables that came imported fresh from asia were always readily available and considered staple ingredients for me growing up so i just assumed it was for everyone. little did i know what i thought to be common were actually "exotic" to the average person.

today, i bring you banana blossoms. another thing i'd not realized until recently was the amount of care and time we take in prepping these "exotic" vegetables for consumption! for instance, preparing these florets is no joke! you have to literally take out the stamen inside each piece before it goes in a bath of lime-aciduated water to keep it from browning... and it's quite time-consuming. no wonder they're not popular in menu item dishes... but i sure am glad i was raised with the knowledge and palate to be able to incorporate and appreciate them - heck, even experiment with them in various dishes like i did here - for my own satisfaction! :) yummm.

my wisconsin winter wonderland!

...there's never really such a thing as bad weather in northcentral wisconsin :) just different types of GREAT weather to embrace! we've had a pretty mild winter so far this year, so it's only natural to take advantage of the hoodie-appropriate temperatures - here, it's anything above zero degrees farenheit, lols - and enjoy the cool crisp air under the bright blue skies! yes, today was definitely a treat considering it has been nothing short of a gloomy season!

snowshoeing, just another way to get outdoors and inhale! i am truly blessed to be surrounded by such awesomeness year round. there's just something so humbling about the untouched wilderness that pulls at my spirit! :) it's not lucky people who are grateful, but grateful people who are lucky. om.