Cookery Blog

It's All About George

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This is a first for me -- publishing a blog post because I just found a great photo of George. But really, it is a helluva photo of our handsome boy. I took these photos on a late fall afternoon -- the  viscous, golden light (perfect lighting for a yellow Lab) inspired me to grab my camera and capture a few shots from the Dougherty compound. 

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Michigan Island Lighthouse

Lighthouses and islands, two defining features of the Bayfield region, and one of the many things we love about living on Lake Superior. When we first started visiting the Apostle Islands nearly 20 years ago, we made sure to stop by and tour all the lighthouses and for many years, we've visited at least one or two a year. This year, we spent a weekend camping in the Islands and on our way home, we stopped by the Michigan Island light. 

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Michigan Island has two lighthouses and given my serious distaste for heights, I stuck to the older, shorter lighthouse while the kids went way, way up into the 118-foot still-operational tower. 

A few years ago, we did a short video for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism highlighting the Apostle Islands. We shot our segment from Raspberry Island and I remember telling the kids that they had to be on their best behavior...which they translated into playing a Dougherty version of contact frisbee (which you can see on the video). Three years later, it's so fun to watch it -- the kids have grown up so much (and my hair is significantly more grey)! 

The gardens have been restored and were in full bloom when we visited. 

I don't know how many steps there are to the top of lighthouse but it gave me vertigo to look up -- I can't believe the kids climbed them without a second thought. 

Going down is always easier but when you're a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with very short legs like Gus, any staircase requires careful consideration. We made our way down the stairs, onto the dock, into the boat, and back to Bayfield....where summer was coming to a close,  the kids were leaving for UW-Madison, and our fall schedule was just getting into full swing. There are all sorts of things to look forward to in the coming months but there's something so sweet about our few days in the Islands -- can't wait until next year! 

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A Hidden Village in the forest

The first time we visited the hidden village, the kids were little -- Sadie was a toddler, Meg and Charlie weren't on the scene yet and our big Newfie, Guinness, was still with us. It was a rainy weekend and the kids were getting stir-crazy and a friend, sensing my frustration with trying to keep three kids happy-ish, asked if we had ever visited the secret village. The kids were immediately intrigued and after a day of badgering, we decided to set out to find this village of small stone houses in the woods near a large birch tree. Yup, that was the extent of our directions but we persevered -- when you have three kids under the age of 6 who are excited to find a secret village, full-steam ahead is the only way to go.  

I remember Ted was carrying Sadie as we hiked along, looking for a large birch tree....which was somewhat of a challenge because birch trees are a dime a dozen in northern Wisconsin. The boys ran ahead, dipping in and out of the forest, excited to be in charge of locating the village. Eventually, they hollered that they found it and we all gathered around this collection of stone and concrete houses in a small clearing in the woods. It was one of those moments I will never forget; the kids were mesmerized by these magical fairy homes in the wilderness and I was grateful to witness such faith in that unexplainable magic that kids are so willing to embrace. 

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Fast forward 16 years or so and we visited the hidden village again last summer. This time, Jack was in Madison, Sadie was in Bayfield and it was Will's last weekend in Bayfield before he left for UW-Madison. I had forgotten about the village but as we were walking down the trail, Ted said he thought we were near it and Will and Charlie took off into the woods to find it (some things don't change). Sure enough, they found it and as we walked up to the village, I was struck by how small it looked. The kids are so much larger now and they dwarfed the little dwellings, animals and figurines. 

The houses had greenery poking out through the windows and it looked as though they hadn't been visited for quite some time. The forest floor was littered with sticks and leaves but the houses looked much the same as they had during our first visit, all those years ago.  

Meg and Ted headed off to explore while the boys spent time arranging the animals and figurines near the houses and taking photos of the little community. They are much older now and magical fairy villages aren't as enchanting as they used to be.  Instead of talking about the magic that created those houses, we talked about the memories that this place holds for our family as we walked back to the campsite. So much has changed in the past 16 years and while I couldn't be more proud of them, nostalgia has a way of washing over me, like a rogue wave. Time flies and finding your back to places that are suspended in time, that hold memories waiting to be remembered......that's my kind of magic. 

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Michigan Island Camp

Spring is in the air, even though it's mid-February and we should have a couple of feet of snow on the ground, and that means a couple of things: I start to plan the garden and Ted starts to plan our May BWCA trip. In honor of this annual rite of spring-in-the-middle-of-winter, I thought I'd share some photos from our August trip to Michigan Island.

It was a momentous trip -- Will was leaving for his freshman year in a few weeks, it was our first time camping as a family in the Islands and it was the first time George and Gus had been invited to come along for the ride. A trifecta of 'firsts' played out on one of our favorite islands. We packed the Karl with enough provisions to last a couple of days and headed out on the Lake. 

Ted is a big, and I mean BIG, fan of camping preparation and that means he has bottles, jars, packages, stuff sacks and baggies for everything you can think of.....including Ulf's curry powder. Our friend, Ulf, makes his own curry powder in Washburn and it's the gold standard in our kitchen and in camp. 

Bordeaux, red vermouth, whiskey and a roll of paper towel -- essentials for a Dougherty camping trip. 

George and Gus took to the camping life remarkably well until they realized I left their bed at home and they had to sleep on the ground. That was clearly troublesome for our two little princes but they managed to find ways to cope -- like sitting on top of the picnic table. 

Michigan Island has a single campsite and it's a sweet one. Tucked back from the beach among the pines, it had two level spots for the tents and a fire ring with huge pieces of driftwood re-purposed as benches. The bear locker made a great cooking surface and the picnic table was a nice touch. My camping experience is limited to the BWCA (where tables are improvised) and I have to admit, there's something about a picnic table that seems mighty civilized when you're in the woods. 

We got up in the morning and headed out for a walk down the beach. While I'm not the biggest fan of camping (sleeping on the ground and pit toilets in the middle of the forest require a open-mindedness I'm not always ready to embrace), I do love the slower cadence of life outdoors.  We spent three hours exploring the beach, watching the fishing tug pull their nets and hollering for George (who was having the time of his life eating seagull poop...more about that later). 

It started to rain while we were walking on the beach but we were resolute in our commitment to camping. Well truthfully, Ted and Charlie were resolute --- Meg, George and I were ready to abandon ship. But Ted set up a tarp, George got up on the picnic table and Meg and I decided to play cards...it was actually quite pleasant until George jumped up on the table and sat down on our game of gin rummy. I think Meg put him up to it because I was winning. 

Gus needed a helping hand to get around the logs that littered the shoreline. He's a sturdy little dog but swimming, given his short legs and wide girth, is not his idea of a good time. 

You'd never know it from this photo of George, looking oh-so-regal and self-composed, that he threw up sea gull poop (that he was eating on our morning beach hike) in our tent at 2 AM in the middle of a rainstorm. There's nothing quite like a heaving 80 pound Lab, a bunch of zippers (between sleeping bags, tents and rain flys...camping is a zipper-lover's dream), pouring rain and utter darkness to get your heart pumping. It was yet another unforgettable experience thanks to Handsome George....hopefully he'll go back to rolling in poop instead of eating it. 

The time flew and before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head home. Will had to get packed for Madison, Charlie had soccer practice, Meg's iPhone was out of juice and I had a serious hankering for a shelter without zippers. With the smell of wood-smoke in our clothing, we loaded the Karl and headed home. Even with the rain and George's puke-a-thon, it was a good way to mark Will's last week at home before he started his new life as a Badger. The islands and Lake Superior have been the backdrop for many funny, tender, chaotic and trying Dougherty stories and thank God, we're still composing chapters in our tome about life in a northern town. 

Yuletide Blessings

Remembering That It Happened Once
 
Remembering that it happened once,
We cannot turn away the thought,
As we go out, cold, to our barns
Toward the long night’s end, that we
Ourselves are living in the world
It happened in when it first happened,
That we ourselves, opening a stall
(A latch thrown open countless times
Before), might find them breathing there,
Foreknown: the Child bedded in straw,
The mother kneeling over Him,
The husband standing in belief
He scarcely can believe, in light
That lights them from no source we see,
An April morning’s light, the air
Around them joyful as a choir.
We stand with one hand on the door,
Looking into another world
That is this world, the pale daylight
Coming just as before, our chores
To do, the cattle all awake,
Our own frozen breath hanging
In front of us; and we are here
As we have never been before,
Sighted as not before, our place
Holy, although we knew it not.

~ Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997

The last words in Berry's poem, "our place Holy, although we knew it not", are guideposts for my navigation through the holiday madness that seems to be a constant companion to Christmas. This poem has become a reminder to explore the humble, ordinary aspects of Christmas (and everyday life) in order to find what's Holy right in front of me. To look for the true spirit of the holiday in Ted's favorite sausage and cheddar breakfast strata (complete with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup), in listening to the kids play Scrabble while I'm making dinner, in going for a walk on the beach or sitting around the table and catching up with my favorite people in the world.  

Don't get me wrong, I was a willing and exuberant participant in the Christmas madness when the kids were little. The hours spent trying to decipher instructions for assembling and applying stickers to hundreds of pieces of plastic are a distant but sweet memory. We tried to make sure our kids had a healthy dose of Christmas 'magic' when they were little and looking back on those Christmas mornings, I wouldn't changed a thing. It was the 'right' kind of Christmas for that time in our lives. But I've had to retool my thoughts about what that magic looks like when Santa has been debunked and the kids send me text messages with their Christmas wishlists. 

We've started to create the Dougherty 2.0 Christmas traditions and it's a collaborative effort (and another chance for me to practice my 'I'm-not-overbearing, I-just-love-you-that-much' shtick). Lord knows, I need help getting my act together as a Mom to a bunch of funny, smart, brave, compassionate, and committed young adults, and thank God they're co-creating our new Christmas magic right along with me. We play cards, make cookies, eat extravagant meals, drink wine, talk about how handsome George is, watch movies, wrap presents (and come up with creative gift tags), watch the pups while they open their presents, take saunas, make fires, play Chuck-It with George and Aldo, go on photo safaris, and a hundred other ordinary tasks that accumulate into a lifetime of cherished traditions . 

Now that Jack and Will (and soon Sadie) 'come home' for Christmas, I'm the one who is vibrating in anticipation of a Christmas surprise....except it's not a Barbie townhouse, it's our boys arriving home from Madison. When I walk in the porch and see Jack's shoes by the door, or Will's camera bag on the dining room table, I'm reminded how the space they've left behind can be, so quickly, reclaimed and reoccupied. That while our kids are growing up, they are not growing away and home will always be on Rittenhouse Avenue. When the house is full again, a deeply rooted contentment settles over me because I am "...living in the world It happened in when it first happened." I believe the world holds echoes of all life in its bones and the story of Mary giving birth to her son in a stable happened on the same Earth that I live on now.....that we, and our stories, are all connected. Berry's poem is about holding space for wonder and belief as we move through our lives; doing the mundane in concert with the miraclous. And that's what I carry with me as I spend this Christmas with Ted and the kids....the recognition that in the end, all moments are holy and all existence is magic. No assembly or stickers required.

Back in the Saddle

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Back in the saddle, indeed. It's been quite a while since I sat down to pull together a Cookery Maven post and I honestly don't know where to begin. So much has happened in the past year and a half: Will graduated from high school and is at UW-Madison, Jack is a senior at UW-Madison, Sadie is a senior and is filling out college applications, Charlie is headed to the Conserve School next fall, I finished my cookbook (which will be published by the Wisconsin Historical Press in fall 2017), Seamus (our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) passed on, Aldo (our new puppy) is learning the 'Dougherty dog' ropes from George and Gus, we went to the BWCA for a week (and I only fell out of the canoe once), I have a job fighting factory farms with Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and we have an Italian student, Joele, living with us for the school year. 

Technically, I never left the saddle but I definitely took a pause in the bloggery world. Between writing a cookbook, dealing with a huge factory farm proposal in Bayfield County and the usual chaos that's my constant companion, I rarely found enough bandwidth to sit down and try to transcribe what we've eaten or where we've been. But I missed this -- the act of putting these little snippets of daily life into some semblance of order on the internet. So, here I am -- ready to roll and to begin again. Life is still so very good but it's taken on a more bittersweet tone: the kids are growing up and I'm searching for the gifts hidden in the spaces they leave behind.   

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I have not been camping (like sleep-in-a-tent, no-running-water camping) for about 17 years. The last time we went to the BWCA, Jack was 6 and Will was 10 months....needless to say, I was a little out of practice. Ted and the boys have gone camping for the past couple of years and sometime last winter, when bug nets and pit toilets seemed mighty far away, I agreed to go along for the BWCA adventure. Ted is a camping wizard and I figured we'd be comfortable but what I hadn't counted on was how good, and I mean heart-warming good, it was to spend a string of days with the kids. It rarely happens anymore -- uninterrupted time with five of the most inspiring, funny and remarkable humans I know. I can't believe I'm writing this but I'm looking forward to next year! However next time, I'm definitely bringing along a different sleeping pad, more socks, sun-dried tomatoes, oil-cured olives and more gravlax. 

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Will is midway through his first semester as a UW Badger and while I miss him like crazy, he's exactly where he should be. His senior year was a blur -- he took a geology class at Northland College, taught himself how to throw pots, grew a beard, let his hair get long and got a tattoo of Lake Superior. Somewhere between the days of Thomas the Tank Engine and Advanced Placement Calculus, he grew into a young man who I adore, respect and cherish. That old tired phrase where-does-the-time-go?, must have been coined by a woman who realized her kids were all growing up and leaving the nest. The days of endless diaper changes, Lego minefields and nap-time snuggles seem like another life when we talk now but I'm so tremendously proud and curious to see where Will's path takes him. I suspect it'll be a road less traveled...if the past 19 years are any indication. 

We rarely are all in the same city, let alone the same room and Will's graduation was the perfect opportunity to get a family photo. I am truly blessed (and not #blessed, I mean like what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this blessed) to have this family surrounding me. It blows my mind.  

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 I planted this garden the first summer we were in our house. It's been 9 years now and the garden has hit its stride. The majority of the plants are in charge of the themselves -- they pop where and when it suits them, they grow and flower on their own schedule, and really appreciate a good, thorough weeding two or three times a summer. It's funny how you can get to know a patch of earth but I have and I swear to God, I can hear them talking to me when I'm working in the garden. The message this summer was 'steady on' and 'don't force growth, let it come'. Pretty good advice, if you ask me. 

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We had a banner year with our tomatoes. It was a bountiful and long-lasting harvest and I have piles of frozen roasted tomatoes and cans of tomato sauce to prove it! 

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Over the past year and a half, the name of the game for me was cookbook writing, photographing, editing, and recipe testing (in between fighting CAFOs, my other favorite past-time). I don't know what I was thinking when I first signed the contract -- I assumed writing a cookbook was like writing a blog post and oh boy, was I mistaken. Deadlines are serious, repetition is not cool and it's important to differentiate between broth and stock while writing a recipe. Kate, my patient editor, had her work cut out for her but thanks to her persistence, my cookbook, Life in a Northern Town, will be published in the fall of 2017.  I still can't believe it. 

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George has a serious thing for cookies.....he really, really likes them.

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I think it's a good idea to have one epic meal a year and last summer, we took epic to a whole new level with lobsters, oysters and some mighty fine champagne. It was a warm summer night and it was about as perfect as those nights can be. I made gallons of lobster stock for a seafood risotto that's going to grace our table over the holidays. 

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I had this photo for the cookbook in mind well before I developed the recipe. Years ago, I did a Thai cooking class at Good Thyme and Becky took a photo of a trout tail hanging out of the pot.....and I loved it. Another trout in another kitchen but it's still one of my favorite photos in the book. 

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And finally, this little man is Aldo -- named after Aldo Leopold and a nod to Joele, our Italian exchange student (Aldo is an Italian name). He's from the Chequamegon Humane Association and they told us he's part Labrador and part German Shepard. I think he inherited a fair amount of Labrador DNA because he's even more food-obsessed than George, which is saying a lot. He's very sweet, loves to chew on socks, prefers to sleep on the couch and is learning how to be a good little brother to George and Gus. All in all, he's the perfect Dougherty dog.

Home

When my eighteen year old self imagined her bright and exotic future— there wasn't a chapter, a mention or even a whiff of small towns, five kids, Northern Wisconsin or a Unimog. Her version of home was a decent Manhattan apartment, a salon full of friends and snappy chatter, some grown-up amber liquid in a lowball glass and stacks of books and New Yorker magazines. 

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Christmas Magic

The dogs are my alarm clock and every day (Christmas Eve or not), we are up at the crack of dawn. Getting out of a warm bed to take the boys outside can be difficult but sunrises are a welcome panacea to the cold and snow. 

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Our Table

I remember the night we bought our table fifteen years ago— it was three weeks before Christmas, we had just moved into our home in Woodbury and we were going to host Christmas Eve for my family, all seventeen of them. The perfect table was at Restoration Hardware on Grand Avenue— it was 8 feet long, made of planks from a whiskey distillery in England and it was on sale. 

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Spring Camp Falls

There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say "It is yet more difficult than you thought." This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

Wendell Berry

Will and I have visited quite a few waterfalls in the past year but Spring Camp Falls was one of the most lovely. We started the day headed towards Potato Falls but after failing to get close enough to the falls and climbing up the steepest river bank I've been on in 30 years (I'm terrified of heights), we decided to try and find Spring Camp Falls. I saw a description of it on the internet before we left and the sum total of what I remembered was it was outside of Hurley, somewhere. Since I knew how to get to Hurley, had a full tank of gas, at least 4 hours until dark and car full of adventurous people (and one yellow Lab)— we decided to drive until we got cell service, google the location, get directions and take a few photos. If only it was that easy.

After the hair-raising cliff climbing adventure, we thought ice cream would be the perfect way to fortify ourselves for the next waterfall hike. Except the DQ in Hurley was closed and, faced with a car full of nearly mutinous children, I turned towards Ironwood in search of another ice cream option. And then it hit me, the first place we stopped after I bought George (from a nice man in Bessemer) was the McDonald's on the highway. Since George was in the car, all grown up and handsome, taking a trip down memory lane at the McDonald's where he had his first french fry (he was a food hound from the moment he joined our family) was even more than physical fortification— it was a celebration of George. I was chattering away to the kids while Will looked up the location of the falls and in my excitement, I neglected to read the directions until we were out of cell phone range. Big mistake.

Here are the directions (from the Travel Wisconsin site):

'Heading south from Hurley on US 51, travel about 4.5 mi to County Road C. Turn right (west). About 1.5 mi west, the county road will take a sharp turn north-don't take that. Continue forward on the gravel road. About 1 mi, turn to the south, following the'

Following the...what?? Will and I, while I was driving down dirt roads to nowhere, tried to fill in the blank. Following the river, the yellow brick road, the pied piper, the big sign that says 'Spring Camp Falls this way'?? I hate asking for directions but it was getting late and after all this driving around, I wasn't going to let my bullheadedness get in the way of a waterfall photo safari. After a wrong turn into someone's deer camp (Meg had never seen a plywood stand with a toilet seat in the woods before), we took a right at an intersection with a bunch of signs on the corner. We drove and drove and drove until we finally saw an old man walking down the road. I stopped the car and asked if he lived around here, to which he answered, 'all my life, about 85 years'— at least I had enough luck to find a knowledgeable direction provider (unlike Travel Wisconsin). Back where we took a right (at the corner with all the signs), we should have taken a left. We thanked our kind direction giver and traveled back the way we came. Right back to the intersection with all the signs and the one sign we missed, 'Spring Camp Falls 1 mile ahead'.

Our day started out with Potato Falls as our destination and instead, we spent a couple of hours in the car driving through remarkably beautiful country, laughing about George stories, bickering about Will's music choices and breathing the same air, in the same space for a little while. As Berry said, 'It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey' and while a road trip to a waterfall is a small thing compared to finding my real work, I'm so glad we took the long way around.

Two themes that have played themselves over and over in my life's reel are surrender and acceptance. And believe me, my rudimentary understanding of those two words has been hard won. I don't like to ask for directions and I sure didn't ever want to surrender. Surrendering meant straying from the script I wrote, in my head, and allowing someone or something else to take the reins— not exactly my cup of tea (or more accurately, my glass of dry Spanish red wine). Except that when I did, because I was flattened by trying to orchestrate a life that had become unruly, I could take a breath without impediment. I knew whatever challenges, detours or roadblocks I encountered were there because I was ready for the next thing. The thing I hadn't even dreamed of yet.

It doesn't mean it's all rosy with rainbows and butterflies but it does mean the moment you think, 'I have no idea what the hell I'm doing' is the moment you are starting to do exactly what you should be. Obstacles are not deal breakers, they are a chance for re-calibration and to keep your eyes peeled for the sign that will lead you to your next destination. Impeded streams make the most beautiful music, especially when you have just come up for air after a ride down the waterfall.

On the 'wrong turn' portion of the photo safari, we discovered the Giles Flowage and we chose a route back to Bayfield that took us through it again so we could scout it out. Charlie and I got out to take a few last photos and I got my favorite shot of the day— Charlie capturing the sunlight on the water. Thank God for wrong turns, detours, kids with cameras and of course, yellow Labs.

Lost Creek Falls With M & M

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?".....

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

This is water."

"This is water.”

David Foster Wallace, This Is Water

It snowed last night. Charlie was rejoicing, in the way only a snowboarding obsessed twelve-year-old can— with verve and volume. He was so disappointed when he woke up this morning and the snow had melted into the green grass. Thankfully, snow is on the menu for the next six months and Charlie will be bombing the hill in no time.

Last night, with the snow falling, I found these pictures in my Lightroom files and traveled back to this warm, sunny day in July. We hiked out to Lost Creek Falls with Mike and Mindy and these pictures are from that adventure. It was pretty amazing to have everyone together, in one place, for an afternoon and it made me so very happy to see Meg and Jack perched on rock, bathed in sunshine. Man, I miss that boy.

I'll never tire of sitting near, listening to or taking pictures of running water and waterfalls. They are the tether I grab when I need to find a way back to myself and towards, as Mary Oliver said, 'a silence where another voice may speak.'

Perched on a rock behind the waterfall, the 'awareness of what is so real and essential' settled into me like the water flowing over me. The lives we build with those we love are 'water', as essential as a heartbeat but easy to take for granted in the noise and busyness of life.

We spent a few hours in the company of Lost Creek, cedars, white and red pines, ancient rock and each other. It was about as good as it gets for an afternoon in July and I'll carry it with me until we all meet again among the trees and water at Lost Creek Falls.

Long Island Corn Dogs

What's better than a hot dog from the O'Dovero's? An O'Dovero hot dog dipped in batter, fried in a cast iron skillet and eaten on Long Island.  I'm a picky corn dog connoisseur (if there is such a designation) and the only corn dog worth eating is hand dipped in batter— trust me, I've done a fair amount of market research. I grew up in a family of devout Minnesota fair-goers and I earned my carnival food chops through good old-fashioned trial and error.

I fried the corn dogs at home, placed them in a foil and paper towel lined cooler and boarded the Karl for a boat ride to Long Island for cocktails and dinner on the beach. The corn dogs weren't quite as crispy as I would have liked but I have my limitations and frying corn dogs on a beach is one of them. They were gobbled up without complaint.

A little tree love on the beach.

My photo safari sidekick— I couldn't have asked for a better partner.

The back side of Long Island, facing Chequamegon Bay, bathed in evening sunlight.

Corn Dogs

(adapted from the Pioneer Woman)

6 cups Krusteaz pancake mix
2 cups yellow corn meal
2 whole eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk 2 cups water, more if needed to thin batter
All beef, natural casing hot dogs ( I made 24 corn dogs and had plenty of batter left over) Chopsticks Canola Oil, For Frying

Preparation

In a large bowl, combine pancake mix and cornmeal. Stir to combine. Add eggs, buttermilk and water, adding more water as needed for the batter to become slightly thick (but not overly gloopy.) Start out by adding 2 cups, then work your way up to 4 cups or more.

Heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Drop in a bit of batter to see if it's ready: the batter should immediately start to sizzle but should not immediately brown/burn.

Insert sticks into hot dogs so that they're 2/3 of the way through.

Dip the hot dogs into the batter and allow excess to drip off for a couple of seconds. Carefully drop into the oil (stick and all) and use tongs or a spoon to make sure it doesn't hit the bottom of the pan and stick. Flip it here and there to ensure even browning, and remove it from the oil when the outside is deep golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.

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A Long Island Farewell

It's not every day Jack moves to Madison to start his next chapter as a freshman Badger and such a momentous occasion begged for a stellar party. Shrimp boils are a Dougherty family favorite and have enough 'wow' factor to send Jack off to Madison with a little Bayfield flair. We loaded up the Karl with shrimp, green beans, a bucket of spices, potatoes and beer and headed to Long Island on a perfect August afternoon to celebrate the kid who, for nineteen years, has brought so much joy, pride, laughter and love into our lives.

We couldn't have asked for a better afternoon— no bugs, a sun-soaked beach, warm water, dear friends and a boiling kettle of spiced water, shrimp and Corn Man corn. It's hard to put into words what it felt like, knowing that in seven days we would be driving Jack to Madison and leaving him there, in a dorm with 6,000 other freshman. It was the kind of joy with a sharp edge, that made me catch my breath and blink back tears because I understood, for the first time, what bittersweet really meant. Jack was taking his first steps towards independence and away from us but the tapestry we've woven together from nights like these will always be his connection to home and the people who love him.

One of our friends, Teddy, wrote Jack a poem and gave him Edward Abbey's wise words for a happy life. As I watched Jack shake Teddy's hand, I knew everything was exactly as it should be. Jack was ready to move on, I was ready to let him go and we've been blessed with a lifetime of gratitude— for our family, friends, countless memorable dinners and the Lake and beaches that are the backdrop to our story.

'One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.' Edward Abbey

It is always a thrill when the shrimp boil hits the table— it's sheer abundance of color and texture is amazing. It literally put a smile on everyone's face and it only got better as they ate their way through the pile of corn, shrimp, potatoes and green beans.

As the night wound down and the full moon rose over the South Channel, I took a minute to take it all in. I knew we'd be on this beach again but it would be different next time. I wanted to remember every last moment of it— Charlie's face when the boil hit the table, Jack filling up a Corona bottle with sand to take to Madison, Meghan triumphantly hoisting the paddle over head when she saw me on the beach and Will walking down the beach, camera in hand, to catch the sunset. On that August night, it was about as good as it gets and I couldn't have been happier.

I didn't want the night to end. Like all good parties, time flies when you're having fun and before we knew it, the sun had set, the boats were loaded and we were on our way back to Bayfield. Until Kathy had a brilliant idea— a moonlight swim in the South Channel. We stopped the boats, jumped into the water and spent ten minutes swimming under the luminescent moon. It was the perfect end to a perfect night.

20 Years On

Sonnet 116 William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments, love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O No! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come; Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom: If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I've always joked that I'd like to write the 'real' wedding vows, the ones you figure out along the way. The ones about who picks out the next dog, who replaces the toilet paper, who decides where the vegetable garden is planted— you know, the nitty-gritty of daily life. We exchanged the traditional ones 20 years ago (we skipped the obey part since I'm a bit of an anarchist at heart) and as I thought about what I'd vow to Ted after many years together, there weren't as many revisions as I initially thought. The essence of the vows would remain the same— love, comfort and honor through all the sticky, messy, joyous and beautiful times we've walked through together and towards all that is waiting in the wings. The dog picking, garden planting and toilet paper placement will work themselves out.

One of my favorite women in the world gave us a card on our wedding day with Shakespeare's 116th sonnet, written in her hand, on the front cover. I remember reading it as a 23-year-old woman and thinking, 'well, that's nice' but didn't quite catch Ann's or Shakespeare's drift. I just ran across her card in one of my cookbooks a few weeks ago (that's where I put all the good stuff— cards, feathers, kid's artwork) and re-read those wise words as a 43-year-old woman. Not only did I catch Shakespeare's drift, I realized how prophetic that sonnet was when Ann gave it us all those years ago—  Ted has been my 'ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken' for over twenty years and trust me, that's no small feat.

We met on a bus going to the University of Minnesota when I was a freshman. He tried to catch my eye but I was very invested in being a 'college student' and was listening to my Walkman (remember those?), reading a book (something collegiate, I'm sure) and pointedly ignored him. He approached my table in Coffman Union, asked if he could join me and the rest, as they say, is history.

We dated for about 4 years and just when I was wondering where this train was headed, we went to lunch at the Choo-Choo Bar in Superior and for a walk on Moccasin Mike Beach on Valentine's Day 1993 and he asked 'the' question. Except his question was 'where do you see yourself in 20 years? 'and I answered,  'in an old farmhouse with a Newfoundland.' Not quite the answer he was expecting so he re-phrased it to something like— what if we got married? I asked him if he was serious and then said, absolutely, let's do it....the dog and farmhouse can wait.

Our life have been full since our wedding day in 1993— Jack was born eleven days before our first anniversary, we've moved seven times, had more jobs than I can count, hosted more parties than I want to count, bought our sailboat before we owned a house, traveled thousands of miles back and forth to Lake Superior, drove through a blizzard to pick up our Newfoundland Guinness, watched our family grow with the addition of Will, Sadie, Charlie and Meghan, took Talikser all over western Lake Superior, tried to be a two Newfie family but decided against it, spent many nights with a baby sleeping between us, acquired a MG Midget with a sordid past, drove more country roads near Cumberland than I can remember, decided to be a 4 dog family and finally bought our home in Bayfield. We've lived, loved, fought, stumbled, cried and laughed our way through the past 20 years together and I wouldn't have done it any differently (except maybe tried harder at the two Newfie family bit).

A new marriage is like a sapling, not much in the way of roots or canopy, but as the marriage grows and takes on the patina that only messy, loving and complicated living can provide— the roots grow deeper, the canopy expands and the gnarled trunk develops into the core that holds the two together. It's been a ride to remember and there is only one man I wanted at my side and thank God, 20 years later, he still is.

Ted's dad, Frank, gave me the book A Gift From The Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in 1990 and it was another, 'well, that's nice' experience but Lindbergh's wise words didn't fully resonant with me until I had five kids, a marriage and the blessed respite of the beaches of Lake Superior. She likens the middle years of a marriage, when it's all about the untidy and sprawling business of building a family, to an oyster shell. She says, 'It suggests the struggle of life itself. The oyster has fought to have a place on the rock to which it clings tenaciously'. Oysters don't have the prettiest shells but they form a formidable home around a tender, living being— similar to the marriage that grows around the initial bright light of new love.

She described our marriage, 20 year on,  perfectly, 'The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love at first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments.' I know we'll move beyond our oyster shell towards quieter times but, right here right now, we are exactly where we should be— encased in the shell of the life we are creating.

Every love story worth telling needs a soundtrack and since I'm a big believer in theme songs for all of our milestones, it was up to me to set our marriage to music.  A marriage theme song is a big deal and required some serious thought on my part (Ted wasn't as into personal theme songs so there was the added pressure of the surprise element). I settled on These Are Days by 10,000 Maniacs and, like Sonnet 116, that song has proved to be incredibly prophetic. There is a line in the song that says, 'you are blessed and lucky. It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you' and it couldn't be more right on as I look back on the past 20 years. We've been blessed with a life full of realized dreams bigger and better than the ones we had dreamt for ourselves. It's complicated, the business of marriage, but as Saint-Exupery said, 'love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward in the same direction.' During our best and worst times, Ted and I have always gazed in the same direction— towards our children, the Lake and each other. We have indeed been blessed.

These Are Days10,000 Maniacs

These are the days These are days you’ll remember Never before and never since, I promise Will the whole world be warm as this And as you feel it, You’ll know it’s true That you are blessed and lucky It’s true that you Are touched by something That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember When May is rushing over you With desire to be part of the miracles You see in every hour You’ll know it’s true That you are blessed and lucky It’s true that you are touched By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days These are the days you might fill With laughter until you break These days you might feel A shaft of light Make its way across your face And when you do Then you’ll know how it was meant to be See the signs and know their meaning It’s true Then you’ll know how it was meant to be Hear the signs and know they’re speaking To you, to you

Great Big Sea Under A Great Big Top 2013

Great Big Sea has provided the soundtrack to our family story for years and as I waited for them to take the stage at Big Top on Saturday, some of those memories came flooding back. Dancing in our living room to Donkey Riding when Jack was 6 or 7, listening to Charlie belt out, 'oh me, oh my, I heard me old wife cry, oh me, oh my, I think I'm going to die' at Target when he was 3 years old, sitting in the cockpit of Isle of Skye listening to Road Rage on countless afternoons among the Apostle Islands, listening to Consequence Free on the dock in Presque Isle with Guinness at my side and Meg in my lap and seeing them for the first time at First Avenue in 2004 with Katie and Ted. Their music has been woven into the tapestry we've created as a family and Saturday night was perfect, every single minute of it.

From the very first song, I knew it was going to be a night to remember. And it was— dancing and singing for two hours with the kids, Katie, Dan and Molly was unforgettable.

Watching Ted dance with the boys made my heart sing with pure joy.

After a little coaxing, Meg got up and joined in the fun.

Alan came to the end of the stage and showed the boys some love— they were thrilled.

Charlie had the time of his life— he was on his feet nearly the entire show.

My heart was bursting with love, pride and gratitude by the end of the concert. It's nearly impossible to put into words what it felt like to dance next to the babies I used to hold in my arms— they've grown into such extraordinary human beings. As our family continues to grow up and travel into uncharted territory, nights like last Saturday are my touchstones— beautiful memories made to the soundtrack of our family's story.

Our First Long Island Day Of 2013

Katie, Dan Mollie and Jimmy came up for Jack's graduation this weekend and decided to spend the day with us on Long Island. We grabbed lunch stuff, packed the cooler and were in the boat by 11 am (which is amazing given the size of our crew).

I can't even begin to describe a day like today— it was simply glorious. Mary Oliver summed it up perfectly in her poem, Poppies, 'but I also say this: that light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it's done right, is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive'.

Will found a very, very small snapping turtle on one of our walks down the beach.

A dragonfly took a respite in Ted's hands and allowed me to snap a few photos.

Jack and Jimmy— the oldest and youngest boys in our family.

Flickers feathers on the beach and in the water.

While I would rather admire the beautiful Flicker feathers on a bird flying above me, they looked lovely under water.

After lunch, we walked down the beach towards the lighthouse.

Mollie took her time looking for shells, baby dragonflies and driftwood.

The kids had a long jump contest and Mollie was a serious contender.

Mollie and me— footprints in the sand.

Blue crawfish claws were the beach treasure of the day.

Long Island beach flag cast in sand— the summer of 2013 is off to a glorious start.

Since It's Still Snowing- A Look Back At WinterFest 2013

Bayfield is in far northern Wisconsin and it snows, a lot, here. This year has been particularly snowy and as I sit here, on April 18th, it's still snowing. I was going through my pictures this week and realized I completely missed all these great shots from WinterFest in the beginning of March. It's a weekend full of running, scrambling and plunging outside, in the cold. Since we are expecting another 10 or so inches in the next couple of days, I thought a look back at when winter was still young and impish might be fun.

Will and Sadie polar plunged this year— Will with the ski team and Sadie with the volleyball team.

After the plunge, we headed up to Ashwabay for the WinterDash, a 5K obstacle course. I participated in the inaugural Dash but after having my hind-end handed to me on a platter, I volunteered this year (and make pumpkin bread for the hearty souls who stopped by my obstacle). Julie has a great blog post about 2012 festivities, read all about it here.

Gnomes were a theme (not too sure of the significance, ask Pete) and Will made a new friend.

I rode the chair lift to the top without incidence, I forgot how beautiful it is looking down from a chair suspended on a cable without seat belts.

Meg and her friends spent the day skiing while the Dashers were dashing. What's better than a gang of smiling girls on skis?

Pure joy.

The Drop was the obstacle that brought me to my knees last year— you walk straight up a very steep hill in deep snow. At least it's a killer view when you get to the top (assuming you're not flat on your back and still standing).

One of the many reasons I love Mt Ashwabay, little kids skiing by themselves. I know the term 'family friendly' is tired but it's true at the hill. It's a great place to learn a lifelong skill and memories of a sweet little ski hill with breath taking views of Lake Superior will stay with all those little ones who learned to ski at Ashwabay forever.

The view from the top.

Julie and Will were my companions for the Winter Dash adventure.

Some shots of the Dashing action and Dasher attire (and wigs).

And there was pumpkin bread, a little snack for the Dashers as they came by for some water.

Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 ¾  cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp fine salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ¼ cup vegetable oil
Scant 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
2 large eggs

Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, and oil on high-speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times, until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the pumpkin purée and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Mixing on low-speed, slowly add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely