Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Out with the old as 2013 comes to an end

The dawning of a new year presents an opportune time to consider what we can let go of and how to dispose of these items with minimal negative impact.

Waste Hierarchy

Curbside recyclables
Wisconsin’s recycling law bans certain materials from being thrown away in landfills or incinerators. Many types of paper and containers can be co-mingled for curbside recycling in our community (including newspapers, magazines, cardboard, office paper, junk mail, computer paper, phone books, envelopes, colored paper, file folders, soda carriers, and cereal boxes, bundled in paper bags or cardboard cartons; and glass bottles and jars, aluminum cans and clean foil, tin food cans, and number 1-7 plastic bottles and plastic food type containers co-mingled in clear plastic bags).
Other items that must be recycled are tires, vehicle batteries, household appliances, and motor oil. More recently, the list of banned items has been extended to electronic wastes and oil filters. Yard wastes like grass clippings and leaves must also be recycled.
Grocery bags
A number of grocery stores recycle plastic bags.  Some offer $0.05 discounts for re-using paper 
bags or bringing in your own reusable bags.   (Many communities in California have gone as far as passing checkout bag ordinances to reduce litter and waste, as well as contamination in recycling and composting programs, in turn reducing costs to San Francisco taxpayers. A ten cent charge per checkout bag has been shown to reduce the number of disposable bags used by nearly 70-90%.)
Light bulbs
Many fluorescent bulbs contain hazardous wastes such as mercury at toxic levels. While Wisconsin law does not regulate the disposal of fluorescent bulbs from households, these bulbs should be properly disposed to avoid contaminating the environment and harming human health. Select local hardware and battery stores and waste disposal sites accept compact fluorescent light (CFL) and/or tube fluorescent bulbs.
When a fluorescent bulb breaks in your home, some mercury is released as mercury vapor. After cleaning up all visible pieces of glass and residue, seal in two plastic bags and put it into the outside trash, or other protected outside location, for the next scheduled trash collection.
If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes. That would prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equal to about 800,000 cars.
The materials in dry cell batteries (mercury, lithium, silver cadmium, lead and acids) have the potential to be hazardous wastes if released into the environment when batteries are burned or landfilled. Metals such as silver, cadmium, nickel and lead are also valuable metals that can be recovered for reuse.Reduce waste at the source by buying rechargeable batteries whenever possible. When your rechargeable batteries come to the end of their lifespan, they can also be recycled. Alkaline batteries may be put in the trash, but some battery retailers or other recycling locations may accept alkaline batteries for a small fee.
Major appliances
Major appliances including air conditioners, washers and dryers, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, water heaters and microwave ovens (unless the capacitor has been removed) were banned from Wisconsin landfills as of 1991.  The best alternative for safely disposing of an old appliance is to make arrangements with the selling vendor to take care of the old appliance for you. The local waste hauler may be called to pick up NON-FREON appliances, for a pick up charge.
Old or broken microwave ovens require special treatment because some microwave capacitors contain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which can cause adverse health affects if improperly handled or disposed.
Refrigerators and air conditioners contain freon refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These chemical refrigerants destroy the earth’s ozone layer, which protect life on earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
Private citizens are required by state law to recycle electronics. Televisions and other electronics contain valuable, reusable materials. Plastics, glass, scrap metal (including copper and gold), and many other materials can be extracted from old TVs and used to make new products.
Televisions contain harmful materials, including lead, chromium, mercury, and polybrominated flame retardants. If landfilled or incinerated, these chemicals can be released into groundwater, surface water, or the air where they pose a risk to human and environmental health.
Inkjet cartridges
Office supply stores often accept used inkjet cartridges.
Polystyrene foam packing peanuts
If unable to reuse foam packing peanuts, they can be taken to some packaging businesses.  Scientists estimate it takes 2,000 years for styrofoam to decompose in a landfill.
Pharmaceuticals and related compounds have been widely found in wastewater effluent and in surface waters and, in limited cases, groundwater. Researchers are now investigating how some pharmaceuticals and personal care products may harm aquatic life. Additionally, pharmaceuticals are involved in accidental poisonings, medication errors, drug abuse and drug abuse-related crime. Leftover medications (in their original containers) that can be dropped off at Safe Drug Drop locations including select police departments in NE WI.
Used oil and oil filters
Effective January 1, 2011, Wisconsin Act 86 banned oil filters and oil absorbents from landfill disposal.  Wisconsinites previously threw away 9 million oil filters a year with 187,000 gallons of oil in those filters, and 1.6 million gallons of oil in absorbents. Recycling them saves 4.5 million pounds of steel and considerable amounts of crude oil. Recycling just two gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for almost 24 hours. Used oil brought to a collection site can be used as an energy source or re-refined for use as a recycled oil product.  Used, drained, oil filters and oil can be recycled at select auto, salvage or recycling centers.
Propane tanks
Propane tanks  contain a flammable material, so disposal in the trash is not recommended.  Most metal recyclers don’t want them due to the danger of explosion. They are not accepted by the Calumet County Clean Sweep. Tank manufacturers recommend that consumers return
unusable propane tanks to a local propane gas distributor. Consumers may want to consider alternatives to small non-refillable propane tanks due to particular difficulty in disposal.
Hazardous waste

Hazardous wastes are products whose labels include the words: caution, poison, combustive, danger, warning, flammable and corrosive.  Unwanted, unused, or damaged products with these words on the label that are stored in your business, barn, garage, basement, kitchen, storage room, or craft/hobby room can be brought to one of Calumet County’s clean sweep sites. Acceptable materials include, but are not limited to: solvents, pesticides and herbicides (including DDT and chlordane), rodent baits, lead and oil based paints, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, bug sprays and auto products such as old gasoline, transmission fluid and antifreeze.  Since the late 1990′s, Calumet County has operated Clean Sweep programs for the disposal of hazardous wastes from farms, businesses, and households. Participation by residents and agribusinesses is free, while businesses pay a reduced fee.  Programs for urban Calumet County residents are held in April (usually the weekend closest to Earth Day on April 22) in Menasha and Appleton.  Programs in the more rural parts of the county are held the weekend following Mother’s Day, usually in the Town of Harrison and a city.
Clothing and household items
Goodwill Industries, St. Vincent DePaul, and Fox Valley Thrift Store accetp donations of clothing, books, and household items for resale to support their programs.
Many libraries have Friends groups that encourage the tax-deductible donations of books, music, and related items  library's at any time.  Proceeds from the Friends book sales provide additional support to library operations.
New and used home improvement materials
Individual and businesses can donate items as appliances, cabinetry, furniture, doors, flooring, hardware, HVAC, lighting and electrical, lumber, masonry, paint, plumbing, and windows. Through the donation process, tons of materials are diverted from the landfill each year. The Habitat ReStore sells the new and used home improvement materials to the public at discounted prices to benefit the mission of the Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat for Humanity.
Canned and packaged shelf-stable food
Local food pantries publish lists foods in greatest demand. Grow a Row for St. Joe’s is a program designed to encourage the community to grow and donate fresh produce for  St. Joe’s clients. The donations helps give the families of the food program greater nutritional choices. 
Yard debris
In 1993 Wisconsin banned leaves, grass clippings, garden debris, and twigs, brush and branches (6” in diameter or smaller) from going to landfills or incinerators. (Note: stumps, roots or shrubs with intact root ball can still be landfilled or sent to incinerators which burn solid waste to recover energy.) Each year over 300,000 tons of yard materials no longer go to landfills or incinerators in Wisconsin.  Many communities provide collection for yard materials, but the most economical way to handle these materials is to compost them at home. Home composting improves yard and garden soil resulting in potential savings on soil amendments.  State air quality and fire control rules restrict backyard burning and many communities prohibit it entirely.

A listing of locations that accept different categories of recyclables in the Fox Cities area:


Monday, December 30, 2013

Smoked turkey

Turkey Gumbo has become a tradition the day after Thanksgiving at Sue & Chris.  The turkey stock is started Thanksgiving evening as clean up after the meal progresses.  The stock is stored in the refrigerator overnight for use in the preparation of the gumbo the following morning.  The gumbo simmers on the stove all afternoon as various family members venture out to join the crowds on the busiest shopping day of the year.  The recipe from La Bonne Cuisine (first published in 1980 by the Episcopal Churchwomen of All Saints', Inc. in New Orleans - I actually purchased a second copy when I saw one in New Orleans, since my original copy, a gift from my sister, had become quite dog-eared after many years of use - This remains one of my all-time favorite cookbooks) always makes enough to freeze plenty to enjoy later on a cold winter nights like the recent ones with temperatures well below zero.

This year we didn't get around to making our Day After Thanksgiving Gumbo in November with so many family members to transport to the airport, including both our boys who were leaving out of Chicago O'Hare, nearly 3 hours away.   When we saw fresh turkeys on sale at Costco for $.49/lb after Christmas, my husband picked a couple up to smoke in the Big Green Egg.   So we had an opportunity to cook up a batch this year after-all.


1 turkey carcass
2 turkey legs or thighs
1/2 c. bacon grease
1/2 c. cooking oil
1 c. flour
8 ribs celery, chopped
3 large onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped parsley
1 lb. okra, sliced
1 c. smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 c. Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco (to taste)
12 oz. canned tomatoes
1 1/2 T. salt
4 slices bacon, cut in 1" pieces
1-2 bay leaves
cayenne (to taste)
1 t. brown sugar
1 T. lemon juice
4 c. rice, cooked

Crack the turkey carcass into several pieces.  Place the turkey carcass and legs in a soup kettle with 3 quarts of water and 1 t. salt.  Boil for 1 hour.  Remove the carcass and legs and cool.  Remove the meat from the bones and discard the bones.  Reserve the stock and meat.  In a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the grease and oil.  Add the flour, stirring constantly, and cook until dark golden brown.  Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and parsley.   Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the okra and sausage and continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Add 2 quarts of the turkey stock and 2 quarts of the water, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, tomatoes, salt, bacon, bay leaves, and cayenne.  Simmer, covered, for 2 1/2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add the turkey meat and simmer for 30 minutes.  Just before serving, add the brown sugar and lemon juice.   Sever in heated gumbo bowls over rice.  Serves 16-18.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Who's been nibbling in the garden?

Yesterday I noticed some tracks heading from the driveway to the side of our house.  Looks like that rabbit is back looking for something to eat in the perennial beds.

This morning I noticed tracks in the fresh snow headed to the right in the photo below straight for the native bed-most likely deer who seem to enjoy nibbling on the sumac bushes.

When I take a closer look at the damage next spring, I'll try to figure out what deterrents I might try in the future.  With the neighborhood being located close to High Cliff State Park, the deer tend to wander through the area often, so we can only hope they find more appealing options at the neighbors.

Animals that do the most damage to herbaceous plants include: deer, rabbits and woodchucks. Deer damage is distinctive because deer only have teeth on their lower jaws, so when they bite down, they must tear the plant to pull off leaves. Thus, deer damage to plants is rough or shredded-looking. It may also be several feet off of the ground. Plus, if a large amount of plant material is damaged overnight, you should suspect deer. Rabbit damage looks like someone used a pruner to cut the plant off at a clean, 45-degree angle. Woodchucks will mow down plants, or sometimes just nibble on succulent material. They are diurnal, so keep on the lookout.

Cultural Controls
Anticipate deer problems, especially in suburban or rural areas. Use deterrents such as fencing, scare devices, and repellents. Apply repellents at the first signs of damage to deter deer from establishing a feeding pattern. Deter rabbits by surrounding their favorite plants with small diameter mesh fencing; fencing off the growing area (if possible) with a 2-foot high chicken wire fence tight to the ground, or buried a few inches; and using chemical repellents. Most repellents depend on thorough coverage and may need to be reapplied after wet weather. Exclude woodchucks with heavy-duty chicken wire fencing buried 10-12" below ground and extending at least 4' above ground. There should be an outward pointing lip at both the top and buried bottom of the fencing.

While attempts to prevent deer damage in the garden by installing physical barriers and applying odor- and taste-based repellents, choosing plants generally thought to be less palatable to deer and other mammals is also recommended.   Favorite foods, often destroyed by deer, include:
European Mountain Ash
Evergreen Azaleas
Garden Lilies
Hardy Geranium
Sea Holly
American Arborvitae

Instead the following are choices to consider:
Botanical Name
Common Name
Betula nigra
River Birch
Betula papyrifera
Paper Birch
Cotinus obovatus
American Smoke Tree
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Green Ash
Ginkgo biloba
Gledistia triacanthos
Honey Locust
Ilex opaca
American Holly
Liriodendron tulipifera
Tulip Tree
Metasequoia glyptostroboides
Dawn Redwood
Picea abies
Norway Spruce
Picea pungens
Colorado Blue Spruce
Pinus nigra
Austrian Pine
Pinus resinosa
Red Pine, Norway Pine
Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa'
Corkscrew Willow
Sassafras albidum
Taxodium distichum
Bald Cypruss
Botanical Name
Common Name
Butterfly Bush
Clethra alnifolia
Summersweet Clethra
Hibiscus syriacus
Rose of Sharon
Lindera benzoin
Myrica pensylvanica
Northern Bayberry
Potentilla fructicosa
Rhus aromatica
Fragrant Sumac
Sambucus racemosa
Red Elderberry
Spirea, Meadowsweet
Symphoricarpos albus
Common Snowberry
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
Indiancurrant Coralberry
Syringa vulgarus
Common Lilac
Viburnum lentago
Botanical Name
Common Name
Monkshood, Blue Rocket
Aegipodium podagraria
Goutweed, Bishop's Weed
Aegopodium podagraria
Snow on the Mountain
Ajuga reptans
Bugleweed, Ajuga
Wormwood, Artemisia
Asarum canadense
Canadian Wild Ginger
Asclepias tuberosa
Butterfly Weed
False Indigo
Siberian Bugloss
Cerastium tormentosum
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
Chelone glabra
Chelone lyonii
Convallaria majalis
Dianthus Pinks
Bleeding Heart
Globe Thistle
Eupatorium purpureum
Joe-pye weed
Blanket Flower
Gentiana septemfida
Crested Gentian
Hellebore, Lenten Rose
Coral Bells
St. Johnswort
Iberis sempervirens
Spotted Deadnettle
Liatris spicata
Bee Balm
Pachysandra terminalis
Japanese Pachysandra
Papaver orientale
Oriental Poppy
Physostegia virginiana
Obedient Plant
Podophyllum peltatum
Polemonium caeruleum
Jacob's Ladder
Solomon's Seal
Rudbeckia fulgida
Orange Coneflower
Sage, Perennial Salvia
Tiarella cordifolia
Foam Flower
Tradescantia spp.
Botanical Name
Common Name
Ageratum houstonianum
Antirrhinum majus
Begonia semperflorens
Wax Begonia
Calendula officinalis
Pot Marigold
Capsicum annuum
Ornamental Pepper
Cleome hassleriana
Spider Flower
Heliotropium arborescens
Hypoestes phyllostachya
Polka Dot Plant
Lobularia maritima
Sweet Alyssum
Matthiola incana
Mirabilis jalapa
Four O' Clock
Salvia farinacea
Blue Salvia
Senecio cineraria
Dusty Miller
Botanical Name
Common Name
Eranthis hyemalis
Winter Aconite
Galanthus nivalis
Common Snowdrop
Spring Snowflake, Summer Snowflake
Grape Hyacinth
Scillia siberica
Siberian Squill
Botanical Name
Common Name
Anethum graveolens
Foeniculum vulgare
Hyssopus officinalis
Matricaria recuitita
Melissa officinalis
Lemon Balm
Ocimum basicum
Sweet Basil
Origanum vulgare
Petroselinum crispum
Rosmarius officinalis
Salvia officinalis
Common Sage
Satureja montana
Winter Savory
Botanical Name
Common Name
Feather Reed Grass
Chasmanthium latifolium
Northern Sea Oats
Erianthus ravennae
Tall Ravenna Grass
Festuca cinerea
Blue Fescue
Miscanthus sinensis
Miscanthus, Silver Grass
Pennisetum alopecuroides
Fountain Grass
Sisyrinchium striatum
Blue-Eyed Grass
Botanical Name
Common Name
Campsis radicans
Celastrus scandens
American Bittersweet
Lonicera sempervirens
Trumpet Honeysuckle
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus tricuspidata
Boston Ivy
Wisteria macrstachys
Kentucky Wisteria

And this last set of tracks running down the neighbors hill and along the back of our property is a new visitor to our yard this year.

The likely culprit spotted out on the lake in the distance, heard long before he was seen zipping by.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Rack of Lamb

Rack of lamb has long been one of our family's favorite special occasion entrees.  We have found a local farm selling lamb in the area, Sattlers in nearby Chilton.  The Sattlers host an annual open barn, offering the opportunity to visit the new born lambs, sample a variety of tasty lamb dishes and purchase some cuts to take home.

Darren Sattler with one of the newborn lambs.

2 racks   lamb (16 chops, trimmed)
12 T.   olive oil
10 T.   fresh minced rosemary
6 cloves garlic, slivered
1 T.   salt
1 t.   freshly ground pepper
2 T.   Dijon mustard
1 c.   fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 c.   minced fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T.   butter, melted

Pat lamb dry.  Mix 8 T. olive oil, 6 T. rosemary and 6 cloves slivered garlic.  Rub into lamb.  Place lamb in plastic bags; seal tightly.  Refrigerate overnight, turning bags occasionally.
Wipe rosemary and garlic off lamb.  Rub with remaining 4 T. olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 for 15 minutes.  Rub lamb with mustard.  Combine remaining 4 T. rosemary, breadcrumbs, parsley and garlic.  Stir in enough butter to moisten and lightly bind.  Pat over lamb racks.  Continue roasting until coating is crusty and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes, until meat thermometer registers 130 for rare or 145-150 for medium-rare.  Lamb should be pink.  Cut through chops.  Set on plates.  Spoon Madeira Sauce around.


8 c.   veal stock
1/2 c.   butter
2 T.   olive oil
1 med.   onion, chopped
1 med.   carrot, chopped
1 stalk   celery, chopped
1/4 lb.   mushrooms, chopped
1 T.   tomato paste
3 T.   flour
1           tomato, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 T.  Madeira
 freshly ground pepper

Boil stock in large saucepan until reduced to 5 cups.  Set aside.
Melt 1/4 c. butter with olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add lamb bones and scraps (from scraping bones when preparing racks) and brown well on all sides.  Remove from pan.  Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook over medium-low heat until softened and browned, stirring frequently, 15-20 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms and tomato paste and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Mix in flour and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Add browned bones and scraps, reduced stock, tomato, and rosemary and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 50 minutes.  Strain sauce into another saucepan.  (Sauce can be prepared 2 days ahead and refrigerated.  Reheat before continuing.)  Add Madeira and simmer for 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Whisk in 1/4 c. butter, 1 T. at a time.


2-4 t.       olive oil
12 med.  red potatoes (or try Yukon golds), cut into quarters
              Kosher salt
              pepper, coarsely ground
6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs  rosemary, stems removed, finely chopped

Pour the olive oil into a 10x15" baking dish.  Add the potatoes, kosher salt, and pepper and toss to coat.  Spread the potatoes in a single layer.  Roast at 400 for 45 minutes or until brown and tender, stirring frequently.  Add minced garlic and rosemary during last 5-10 minutes of roasting to avoid burning.  (Chopped shallots can be substituted for the minced garlic if desired.)  Serves 4-6.

When we moved to Wisconsin, we discovered the local sour Montmorency cherries make a great pie we often serve for Christmas dinner.  We especially like the hints of almond and mace in this recipe from Heartland by Marcia Adams.


pastry for 2-crust 9" pie
4 c. pitted red sour cherries
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 T. quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 t. ground mace
red food coloring (opt.)
3 T. butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a 9" pie pan with pastry and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the cherries, sugars, tapioca, almond extract, mace, and food coloring.  Allow to stand for 15 minutes.  Pour into the pie shell and dot with the butter.  Top with a lattice crust and bake for 10 minutes at 425.  Lower the temperature to 350 and continue baking for 30-35 minutes longer until the juices are bubbling up in the center or the pie.  Remove to a rack to cool briefly.  This pie is really best served slightly warm with a generous scoop of ice cream.

Marcia Adams explores how the essence of Heartland cooking can be found in how divergent groups in Wisconsin, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois have "integrated indigenous foods while retaining and nurturing their individual heritages".   Beautiful photos of the people, places, and food enhance the presentation of the unique cuisine of the Heartland.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas 
Just like the ones I used to know 
Where the treetops glisten... 

…May your days be merry and bright 
And may all your Christmases be white!"

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

...When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer...

...And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" '

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ornaments collected while exploring the world


Moscow, Russia
Costa Rica
Puerto Rico
Great Britain
Pisa, Italy
Leaning Tower
Athens, Greece
Zagreb, Croatia
A gift from my roommate in the dorm there
Nova Scotia, Canada
Visiting the MacKenzie relatives

Ornaments gathered during travels in the US

"I left my heart in San Francisco...."

Southern California surfing culture
(our youngest brought this home to me from his
middle school trip here-during one of several incidents
involving a tree crashing to the ground, it broke,
but I just wasn't ready to part with it-memories
of a number of visits to the park over the years-
so I carefully salvaged what I could and glued it
back together-you'd hardly notice from a distance...)

Rafting down the Grand Canyon
Beaded indian maiden from American SW
in birch bark canoe from northern MN
New Orleans

Hilton Head Island
South Carolina
Active volcanoes
The Big Island

Ornaments celebrating places called home over the years

Sherwood, WI
Germantown (outside Memphis), TN
Danville (East Bay), CA
Ashwaubenon (near Green Bay), WI

New Hope & Plymouth, MN
(west of Minneapolis)

Wedding @ Stanford University Church

not too far from the Napa/Sonoma wine country
a great place to take visitors while living in
Berkeley & Walnut Creek, CA
Hamilton, NY
Stamford, CT
First Presbyterian Church
(The Fish Church)

CA missions
originally established a day's ride on horseback apart,
along 600 miles of California's coastline from
 San Diego to just north of the San Francisco Bay area

Los Gatos, CA
Lafayette, CA
Long Beach, CA