Monday, July 28, 2014

Instagram

While I may still post here once in awhile, you are all invited to follow me over on Instagram via your smart phone, iPad, or other tablet app.  I realized that I was taking more daily pictures with my cell camera, and found that posting an immediate (or minorly edited) image on Instagram is much quicker and more satisfying than waiting until I was at my computer to utilize Blogger.

You'll need to download the Instagram app (very simple) - and then create a user account.  You do not need to post anything to participate, but you just might want to start for the fun of it.  Next, search for my user name (mjgehr) and select "follow." Then be sure to visit every few days to check for updates.  The platform has some great PhotoShop-type features and allows for "liking" something, and also lets you leave comments.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

High-Rise Window-Washers

Not the best job if you suffer from vertigo!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Old Summertime


A lovely, lazy summer day down by Pewaukee Lake, watching people fish from the pier and enjoying the beach.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mayapples


The mayapples are in finally in full bloom here in the Pewaukee area.  These were growing in the woods along the side of Lindsay Road.  The little white flowers are hard to see unless you bend over and look underneath the leaves.  There is some debate about whether the resulting fruit is edible - it supposedly ripens in the fall and has a lemony flavor, and was once considered a staple of Native Americans.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter: Buttercream Frosted Cupcakes Edition!

Happy Easter! I spent yesterday making some homemade vanilla cupcakes topped with my favorite icing: Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting. It is unbelievably light, fluffy, smooth and silky ~ and not cloyingly sweet, as standard buttercream tends to be.  There is effort involved, but I promise: the results are worth it.  This recipe also gives me a chance to use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which I don't pull out too often.

The recipe is below. Due to the length of time required for beating this frosting, you'll want to utilize a stand-style mixer. In addition, a candy thermometer is a must. Also, this style of buttercream yields the best results if made during a cool, dry day.

Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting
Ingredients:
  • 5 egg whites*
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. white granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 sticks of unsalted butter - cut into chunks & softened (room temperature)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (other desired flavor)
  • Food grade food color for tinting frosting (optional)

    *Note: Refrigerate or freeze the egg yolks for future use in pound cake, lemon cured, or other "yolk-only" recipes.
Directions:
  • Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand-mixer & start beating on low speed.
  • In a small saucepan, pour in 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water.  Stir well to combine. Over high heat bring sugar to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Once mixture reaches the boiling point, insert candy thermometer and boil until it reaches 238 F. - also called "soft-ball" stage. (Avoid stirring the mixture during this step as it will help keep it clear.)
  • While sugar is heating, increase egg whites to high speed and add the 2 Tbsp. of sugar.
  • When egg whites reach a firm, glossy stage and hold their peaks, stop mixing - or mix on low - until sugar syrup is ready.
  • When sugar syrup reaches 238 F. - makes sure it boils for approx. 30 seconds at that temperature and then remove from heat and let set for another 30 seconds or so until boiling stops. (The syrup is HOT and can cause burns - so do not touch it.)
  • Next, while mixer is beating on medium-high speed, SLOWLY pour a thin stream of the syrup from the saucepan into the mixing bowl (near the edge) directly into the egg whites.  Be careful not to let syrup hit the side of the bowl or the beater itself. Beat the mixture on high until it becomes firm and smooth and the sides of the bowl feel close to room temperature - approx. 7 to 8 minutes. 
  • At this point, you can start to beat in the chunks of softened butter, one at a time, until all have been incorporated.  IMPORTANT:  the mixture may appear to become curdled or grainy during this process - and if this happens (& it often does) - just keep beating until the texture becomes silky and fluffy. It may take another 5 minutes or so, but it will come together!
  • Finally, beat in your desired flavoring and color until well blended. Now you are ready to frost your cake!
Below is a video of my frosting right before I added the color.
video
Tip: Any remaining frosting refrigerates or freezes well. Just bring to room temperature and whip for a few minutes until fluffy and smooth.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 18, 2014

SkyWatch Friday: Along the Boardwalk

Another 'Flashback Friday' photo from last year about this same time, when Nik and I were taking a late spring hike along the Simmons Woods boardwalk. This year the marsh and trees are no where near as green as this picture shows them to be... but at least the sky is blue and the sun is shining!

See more SkyWatch Friday photos here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Walking: Faster than Flying?

Early this morning--in between rain showers--I heard a few Sandhill Cranes announcing their arrival to the cornfield behind our treeline. Their return to the area reminded me of a photo I took a few years ago while visiting Orlando, Florida for a work conference.  This lone trooper was wandering the parking lot, apparently looking for his car!

Friday, April 11, 2014

April's Theme: Triangles

I'm a little late to the game for this month's theme topic for City Daily Photo, which is "triangles."

This photo was taken during our visit to Salt Lake City back in 2010. The Mormon/Latter Day Saints (LDS) Conference Center, located to the north of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, was completed in April of 2000. The auditorium in the Conference Center seats 21,000. The building is constructed of granite from the same quarry which provided the granite for the Temple. A semi-annual world general conference is held at the headquarters of the LDS Church at Temple Square and includes music by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the auditorium.

The builders decided that the roof should not be wasted space, and so designed a rooftop garden with pathways that meander throughout trees, native flowers, and other plantings. A guided tour of the center offers an elevator ride to the roof where you'll have a great view of the city and the mountains beyond.  The pyramid shapes are actually atrium windows channeling natural light into the building below.

Conveniently, this post also fits in with Skywatch Friday - and you can see more posts here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Easter's on its way...

...although I don't believe Peter Cottontail will have these eggs in his basket!

This basket filled with emu eggs was on display at the Waukesha Farmer's Market last summer.  If you look closely, you can see a small hole on top of each where the insides were blown out. One of these would make a mighty big omelet!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Caribou Coffee


Our local Caribou Coffee shop is going away sometime this spring.  Many of us are sad because, as a national chain based out of the Minneapolis area, it gave the international giant, Starbuck's, a run for the money and offered some much needed variety. However, Caribou will remain in most of their other strong markets, and word on the street is that the shop will be replaced by Peet's Coffee, another national/west coast chain.  It would be nice if Pewaukee could gain one of the the popular Milwaukee-based shops, such as Anodyne or Collectivo.  Time will tell.

It's interesting to note that Collectivo used to be called Alterra, but sold the name and brand to the Mars Corp. a few years back, with the promise that the Milwaukee market base would not be infringed upon. Again, time will tell.