A True Lambeau Field Experience

IMG_2735Isn’t that the most beautiful picture you’ve ever seen?  Well, maybe not EVER, but it sure is pretty.  These are the tickets my brother got me for Christmas to my first Packers game in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Now, I’m from Illinois, so it would be assumed that I’m a Bears fan.  And for a while, when I look back at pictures of myself as a child, my parents dressed me in Bears outfits.  Fortunately, my brother and I spent many summers with our cousin John, a fellow Packers fan, in Wisconsin.  Our Grandma and Grandpa Neshek are from Northern Wisconsin and still have a cottage up there.  We spent many warm summers and cold winters swimming, jet skiing, snowmobiling, eating cheese, drinking beer and and becoming honorary Wisconsinites.  Alas, our love for the Packers grew every time we drove over the Leo Frigo Bridge and saw Lambeau in the distance.

When my brother said he bought tickets for Sunday’s Steelers vs. Packers game, I went and found some essential Packers gear.



We almost didn’t make the 2 1/2 hour drive from Kenosha, WI to Green Bay due to the snow.  Fortunately, the state of Wisconsin did an excellent job of clearing the roads,  making our journey possible.  My sister-in-law was called off work on Sunday and was able to join us too!



We made it to Lambeau field and started the layering process.  It was FREEZING but we made sure to wear long underwear, jeans, shirts, sweatshirts, snow pants, jackets, hats, gloves and scarves.  After grabbing a few drinks, we set out from the car to the main tailgating parking lot.  On the way, we ran into some true Wisconsin people in their orange camouflage and head-to-toe Packers gear.

IMG_2745When we finally made it inside we grabbed a Miller Lite, found our seats and chanted “GO PACK GO” with the 77,999 screaming fans.

IMG_2769IMG_2779While a win would have been great, the experience was still amazing and one I won’t forget.  Definitely one of the best Christmas presents I’ve ever received!




Learning to Make Baklava

Now, let me start with…I don’t have a hint of Greek in me.  I’m born and raised American with Polish, Prussian, German, French-Canadian and Native American ancestors.  Quite a mix, but no Greek to be found.

Nevertheless, yesterday I learned to make a very traditional Greek treat, Baklava.

My mom’s friend Trudy comes from a Greek background and has been making Baklava for years.  As a child, she learned from her Yaya and has kept the tradition alive since.  She came to our house on Monday morning with a bag of materials and the recipe stored safely in her head.  This baffled me, as I almost never bake without a set recipe in front of me.  Trudy, on the other hand, goes off of what feels right and the motto, “this is how Yaya made it!”

To start, we needed: walnuts, sugar, cloves, cinnamon, butter (LOTS of butter!), lemon peel and honey.


We started by grinding the walnuts with a nut grind.  I’d never seen one of these before but apparently you can buy them at any home goods store.  By using a hand-powered nut grinder, you get just the right ratio of walnut pieces to walnut powder as well as more consistently sized walnut chunks.

IMG_1398 Sugar, cinnamon and ground cloves were then added to the walnut mixture and set aside.

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Next, a pound, yes, a POUND of butter was melted in a microwave-safe bowl.


From there, the layering began!  To save time, we used premade Phyllo, or Filo, dough that was cut and ready to go.  We buttered the pan and added 6-8 layers of Phyllo dough with, of course, butter between each layer.

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Then, sprinkled the nut mixture evenly and added two more layers of dough.  Nuts, Phyllo, butter, nuts Phyllo, butter…repeated until the nut mixture ran out.  Then it was on to alternating Phyllo and butter until the Phyllo was gone.

IMG_1413 IMG_1414 Baklava must be evenly cut before it’s baked.  We used a flexible ruler to cut diamond-shaped pieces.  Why diamonds?  As Trudy told us, “that’s just how you cut baklava.”

IMG_1417 IMG_1419 We baked the baklava, “until it looks right.”  This meant a golden brown top with the dough baking away from the sides of the pan.


As the baklava baked we created the simple syrup for the top and between the layers.  While water, 4 cups of sugar and cinnamon sticks boiled on the stove, we took whole cloves and stuck them into lemon peels.  This eliminated the problem of fishing the cloves from the mixture later.

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After the syrup came to a boil, it had to reach 220°F before adding in the honey.


Once the baklava came out of the oven, we poured the honey mixture on top to fill in all the crevices.  Unfortunately, this sweet treat has to sit overnight so the pastry could thoroughly absorb the honey mixture.

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So, we had baklava for breakfast today, which was totally worth the wait!  The sweetness of the honey mixture with the spiced nuts and flaky dough was the perfect way to start this cold, December day.


Thank you Trudy, for sharing your family recipe with us during this holiday season!

Le Petit Parisien in Dublin, Ireland

Ireland.  The land St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness, green grass and….French pastries?  Yes, French pastries.  Le Petit Parisien is a quaint coffee shop/bakery/cafe located in the heart of Dublin.  My aunt, uncle and cousin stumbled upon it the day before I arrived and, not knowing we were in the same place the next day, we stumbled upon it again.  With the rain starting to come down harder, and a very enticing window display, it was the perfect excuse to take cover for some breakfast.



But not just any breakfast.  Sitting in a cozy window seat surrounded by Christmas music and holiday spirit, we started out with one of the best cappuccinos I’ve had.  Now, I spent 6 months in Italy back in 2010, so I’ve had my fair share of cappuccinos, and this one is hard to beat!


My cousin, who is not a fan of coffees or cappuccinos, opted for a hot chocolate instead.  They served it to him in a glass where the first 3/4 was milk and the bottom was filled with chocolate, allowing him to mix it himself.


With hot drinks in our hands, we were served pastry after pastry after pastry.  While my uncle ordered porridge, my cousin and I ordered fruit scones with homemade strawberry jam.


My aunt, having had a scone the day before, went big and ordered the  vanilla cream pastry that caught her eye from the window.


Seeing as it’s the holiday season, and I’ve seen mince pies everywhere for weeks, we decided to try one.  A mince pie is a fruit-based mincemeat sweet pie served during the Christmas season.  Having no idea what it was going to taste like, I was pleasantly surprised with its sweet, spiced flavour and flaky crust.

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If you’re in Dublin, and looking for an amazing breakfast with a cozy atmosphere, I highly recommend you check out Le Petit Parisien.  For more information, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LPPCafe.

An American/British/Faroese Thanksgiving

Well, another Thanksgiving has come and gone, but it will be one I’ll always remember.

As we sat at lunch on 28 November before a 4 hour lecture, one of my friends asked me, “will this be your first Thanksgiving without family?” At that point, I truly realised how far away I was from my family. Boom, just like that, total shut down. Let’s just say sitting through that lecture was not a pleasant experience.

Fortunately, I had something to look forward to after class. Thanks to the hospitality of some amazing friends, we feasted like…Americans! There was turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole and the best homemade gravy I’ve ever had.



Great food, Call of Duty, and some amazing friends made this year’s Thanksgiving in England a memorable one.