The Stone Barn

It never ceases to amaze me how incredible the treasures are nearby where we live.  They are quite numerous and wonderful.  The Stone Barn just outside of Nelson, WI is one of those treasures and it is in a league all its own.

I am sure I am not alone when I say I enjoy a fine wood-fired pizza.  There are several components of a great pizza; crust is one of them.  Crust is a very important one to me. This crust is like a delightful cracker.  It is very light and has wonderful flavor.

The process by which you will find yourself enjoying a fabulous wood-fired pizza is simple:

Follow these directions; then…

We ordered the Bianca:  A mix of four fresh herbs and four cheeses on a garlic olive oil base.  Now that is a piece of heaven right there.

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The place was packed on this hot & humid September evening.  I was a bit worried about the crowd of vehicles when we pulled up, but that wasn’t a big deal at all.  Cyndie and I ran into (almost literally – it was very crowded inside) my cousin Sharon & her husband celebrating a wedding anniversary; they were on their way out as we were on our way in.

We were order #45.  As Cyndie can attest, sometimes I can get a bit hangry.  It had already started to cool off some and we both had an ice cold beer.  Life was good and the pizza was there in no time.  We didn’t have to worry about carting any left-overs home; there wasn’t even a crumb left.  That was the most delicious wood-fired pizza to date.  I highly recommend this establishment.  It would be a great time to go with a bunch of friends and order each kind they offer.  All of their pizza sounded very tasty.

What a great idea for a barn left in ruins.  All that remained was the stone foundation.  It makes for a unique and interesting venue.

I chose black & white for this shoot because I was a big giant dough head.  For some reason or another I did not look at the ISO setting on my camera; I am not sure why it was set to 1000 instead of 100.  Before any shoot – you always always always check your camera’s setting – especially ISO and exposure compensation.  I will chalk this one up to hungry as I have no other explanation.

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Just another Sunday drive

Do you ever remember hearing when you were growing up, “!@#$ Sunday drivers.”  I believe I heard that a couple thousand times as a child, and I may have uttered the phrase  myself in my younger years.  I am one now…a Sunday driver.  There is nothing more relaxing than putz’in around the back roads in the country.

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We had originally set out to grab some pizza at The Stone Barn in Nelson, WI.  Upon arrival, we found it closed as it wasn’t even close to 5 p.m.  Hint:  read all of the information on the website; specifically the days of the week and time of day the establishment is open.

No worries, Nelson wasn’t too far away.  We stopped at J&J BBQ.  I am no stranger to BBQ and I know my way around a grill, meat rubs, smoking, etc.  Wow, that was some good BBQ.  I will definitely stop there again.

After our late lunch we made our way back to the countryside on top of the river bluffs and slowly made our way back toward home.  We were fortunate enough to take in some lovely scenery on a picture-perfect kind of day.

How can you ingnore this information?

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A quick break from photography to highlight a huge and every-growing issues that concerns many, including myself.

With so many that have been and continue to be so vigorous in their efforts to combat GMO’s – how does this continue?  Watch the video and see how Monsanto has become an absolute monster beyond mythic proportions.  This movie is an hour and nineteen minutes; it is an hour+ well spent.  Put Candy Crush aside and inform yourself.

What I like about Summer

I know I have mentioned this more than a few times – I love the Spring and Fall seasons.  Summer is o.k. depending on the temperature and dew points as I am not all that heat-friendly.  One super-duper bonus plus plus thing about summer is fresh vegetables.  Another is semi-homemade pizzas.  You know…the ready-made pizza crusts from the store; you pile on all your favorite topping over a tasty sauce and smother it with cheese.  That is some very fine super good stuff right there.  The only downside is turning on the oven.  I have not ventured out and made a pizza on the grill yet, but that is next.  Or a pizza oven would get the job done too – and you could take that outside on the deck/patio easily enough.

I like a really thin crust even though I am a super-fan of all things carbs.  Thin crust allows you fill up more on toppings and cooks faster in my humble pizza making opinion.  Golden Home Bakery Products (by Quaker Bakery Brands, Inc.) from Appleton, WI makes a mighty fine thin pizza crust.  I have not tried the 100% whole grain, only because the grocery stores in Red Wing do not carry it.  The regular is great.

The pizza you see here below was my masterpiece from last night.

Sauce:  mango red pepper salsa – pureed.  I mixed in a small amount of tomato sauce with it as well.
Toppings:  chicken, black beans, minced garlic, cilantro*, basil*, cherry tomatoes* and mozzarella cheese.

*fresh from the garden

100 Miles of something

http://www.mississippi-river.org has a great website with information on where to stay, eat, shop, and things to do – all around Lake Pepin.  There are several 100 Miles of… links: vistas, boating, birding, fishing, history and even garage sales.

The big big big 100 miles of garage sales was May 2-4 this year.  Cyn & I didn’t get out for a drive until Sunday and by that time most sales where over and done.  We found some stragglers still open though.  I was more interested in the drive, but the potential for an awesome find is always around every corner.  The super-find of the trip was an old produce crate in the dumpster outside of Reads Landing Brewing Company.  I spied the little treasure as we sat on the patio sipping our fire-hot bloody marrys.

Prior to landing for refreshments we spent a significant amount of time roaming around the little river town of Stockholm, WI.  There are several unique shops to wander through.  Among them is a fantastic bakery – Bogus Creek Cafe & Bakery.  The cranberry walnut bread is out of this world.  You may have noticed in past posts…if there is a bakery in the vicinity  I’ll be sampling the local fare.

Stockholm is great small town to spend a few hours just walking around.  There is no shortage of interesting art.  Be sure to check out Adobe Stockholm.  Juno & Me has some of the best candies I’ve had is awhile and their pet product are worth browsing.  For more information on additional shops, see Stockholm’s official website.

Here are a few other shot I took around town before we got on our way to the next town.

There is so much to see and do around Lake Pepin.  Hwy 35 on the Wisconsin side boasts some spectacular views as does Hwy 61 on the Minnesota side.  You are never board around here – take a drive around the lake!

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Reunited and it tastes so good…

The last Sunday in April Cyndie and I went to the St. Paul Farmer’s Market – the alley edition.  The full farmer’s market was set to open the first weekend in May.  To my surprise and delight, LoveTree Farms was selling their absolutely wonderful goat and cow cheeses partway down the alleyway.  I no more than saw the name on the table and the memory of their cheese and pizza filled my mind.  I knew exactly what I was going to do with the goat cheese we purchased…make some semi-homemade pizza.  Yum.  Far from wood fired, but still plenty good.

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I first tasted this delectable cheese back in late October of 2011 at LoveTree Farms in the Trade Lakes area of Wisconsin (Approx 15 minutes Southeast of Grantsburg).  They make wonderful wood-fired pizza (Pizza by the Pond) on Sunday’s (after Memorial Day) from 2-8 p.m.  I didn’t make it back to LoveTree Farms in 2012, but am hoping to get their this season.

I live in a great area full of gems and wonderful surprises like LoveTree Farms and the St. Paul Farmer’s Market.  If you are out and about, check out LoveTree at their farm near Grantsburg, WI for Pizza by the Pond or at the farmer’s market –   you won’t be disappointed.

Here are a few photos from my original trip in 2011.  The original post from October 2011 is here:  Hugo, MN to Grantsburg, WI.

Rabbit’s Bakery – Lake City, MN

Super-duper-yummilicious things await your arrival at Rabbit’s Bakery in Lake City, MN.

We were on a drive about, destination no where particular, but we still needed to get on the road.  A couple of snow wind surfers pulled us off the main drag on our way through Lake City.  While we were leaving our lake-side observation point we noticed the “B” word in big letters on a building down a few blocks – Rabbit’s Bakery.  I rarely pass up a bakery or a meat locker if they are open when I pass through a town.  You never know what you are going to find.

It was Pizza Sunday; normally 5-8 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month, but today is was 12-5 because of the Super Bowl.  We were early – too early for even the revised hours.  We decided to snatch up a baguette and a loaf of Sicilian bread for the road and planned to stop back later for pizza.  That poor loaf of bread didn’t survive the drive out-of-town.  It was delicious.

The pizza was fantastic too.  We had the Chicken Bacon.  The topping combinations switch up each month; I can’t wait to get back there and see what March has to offer.