Happy Third Anniversary (to me)!

Three years ago this week, I took the leap and hit the “publish” button for the first time.  The blog “Travel. Garden. Eat.” entered the blogosphere.  Three years of blogging = 314 posts, 21,118 visitors, and 48,048 views.

As I begin year four of my blogging journey, it is interesting to look back on posts of interest — whether yours or mine.  Some have been shared far and wide, others that I hold dear because of the memories they evoke may have stayed closer to home – it’s all good.  When one first tentatively puts that post out for public consumption, whether the effort is viewed or “liked” holds more importance, but I think over time that becomes less and less a point of attention.  Instead, this blog continues to be my creative outlet, for words and images.

Versailles on a Rainy Day
Versailles on a Rainy Day

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

~ Anaïs Nin

The topics of traveling, gardening and eating merely serve as a base — life is rich and varied, and I think blogging often provides the opportunity to remind oneself that the little things in life are often the most rewarding.  A walk in the woods can be just as rejuvenating and eye-opening as a journey across the sea.  Our own backyards often yield just as much interest as the backyards of our neighbors far and near.

Beargrass in Glacier National Park
Beargrass in Glacier National Park

The most viewed posts over the past few years reflect that philosophy of interest near and far.  For the five months I blogged in 2012, the posts with the highest views were all in response to Weekly Photo Challenges — a great way to engage bloggers on a wide variety of topics, and  help inspire a little creative stretch from time to time!  The challenges of Big, Renewal, and Everyday Life generated the most traffic that first year.

Buona sera, Trastevere!
Buona sera, Trastevere!

In 2013, traveling and eating both were reflected in the most viewed posts:

Pre-wash rinse, courtesy of the cat

Moving on to 2014, one of the most popular posts for visitors was my visit to the Apostle Islands’ Ice Caves, “It’s Not Too Late for the Party: Day-Tripping to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves.”

Kat in the cold seat
Kat in the cold seat

And, finally, 2015 — a year not over yet, but one in which I finally returned to gardening in “Gardener’s Mecca in Minnesota: An Illustration of the ‘Why’” for the most viewed post this year-to-date.  Interestingly, one of my older posts, “Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park” also has been a popular post this year — it is a favorite travel memory, so always happy to revisit that one!

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”

~ Ansel Adams

Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park
Iceberg Lake Trail ~ Glacier National Park

Thank you to all who have followed along since the first year, as well as those who have joined more recently — all 989 of you (spammers and all — I don’t flatter myself to think that I have almost 1000 engaged followers, but I am grateful and amazed by how many truly interesting and engaging bloggers and readers I have met along the way!).  For a little celebratory fun, I updated the look of the blog, and welcome any feedback you have — Font hard to read? Like the layout? Miss the old look?  All comments welcome.

lakewalk kathy corbin 2 4_22_13

Thanks for reading – blog on!

Ciao! ~ Kat

Four Score and Seven Years Ago – Now You Say It

The short, succinct speech that opened with the words “four score and seven years ago” celebrated its 150th anniversary today.  Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is a remarkable oratory work.

Lincoln Monument, Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg
Lincoln Monument, Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg

The speech took place at the dedication of the “Soldiers’ National Cemetery” in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863.

Soldiers' National Monument
Soldiers’ National Monument, marking the location where President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address.

I feel that it would be a disservice to write a blog post longer than Lincoln’s address.

Soldiers' National Cemetery, Gettysburg
Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg

Instead I encourage you to “Learn the Address” (or just listen to a few folks read it to you – President Obama or former President G.W. Bush, or perhaps Rachel Maddow, Bill Gates or Stephen Colbert, or even the U.S. National Men’s Soccer Team) through Ken Burns’ latest Public Broadcasting System’s (PBS) project, “The Address,” set to air in the Spring of 2014.

Gettysburg Address in the Lincoln Memorial
The Gettysburg Address in the Lincoln Memorial

The Gettysburg Address (Bliss version¹)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Ciao! ~ Kat

¹ Five slightly different versions of the Gettysburg Address are known to exist, with the most cited version being the “Bliss version,” which also is on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.  More about the different versions can be found here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

Returning to the Glensheen Arts and Crafts Festival, which was the subject of one of my first blog posts, seemed appropriate as this little blog celebrates its first anniversary! Glensheen is situated on a stunning piece of property on Lake Superior, so as we wandered through the artists’ booths, we made time for a detour down to the water.

Skipping stones along the shores of Lake Superior

No matter how old my boys get, I suspect Lake Superior’s rocky shoreline will always invite a rock-skipping competition.

Skipping stones along the shores of Lake Superior

Thank you to all of you who follow my blog, who take the time to like or comment, and who help make this blogging community a pleasure in which to participate.  I look forward to year two, and hope that you will continue to share your insights and creativity.  It is time well spent.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.” ~ Mary Oliver

Ciao! ~ Kat

This post was in response to the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.  ”One Shot, Two Ways” was this week’s theme.  Everyone is welcome to join in the Challenge; further details on how to participate and links to others’ responses are found here.

Life is Short, and Food is a Lovely Part of It: Six Courses at the Chef’s Table

Life is short, and food is a lovely part of it.  As Julia Child is noted to have said, ““The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”  (However, I really must notch up the running again next week . . . ).

To celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary, we decided to try the Chef’s Table dining experience at the Ledge Rock Grille, a cozy restaurant on the North Shore of Lake Superior, just south of the town of Two Harbors.  The restaurant is located on the same property as the Larsmont Cottages.  As the years go by, it is easy to treat one’s wedding anniversary quite casually, particularly when we are not the type that typically celebrate birthdays big, and have often found some home improvement project that needs completing rather than exchanging gifts to mark a special occasion.

Dining Room at Ledge Rock Grille

Life is busy at this stage of life, between work and family obligations.  It makes it even more important sometimes to find that time to do something special to mark occasions which should be celebrated.

Ledge Rock Chef's Table Menu

Making reservations to enjoy the six-course menu at the “Chef’s Table” was definitely a way to mark a special occasion.  It promised to be a leisurely dining experience, which we chose to enjoy with wine pairings, on a quiet weeknight as spring kicked off its snowy start (unlike summer weekends when a reservation at the restaurant is sometimes impossible to obtain and the resort is full of guests).

The Chef’s Table seats up to four guests at a counter-height spot adjacent to the open kitchen.  On a night when the restaurant is quiet, it is as if you have your own personal chef and waiter, allowing for a relaxing evening, with the dinner courses paced over two hours.

Seared Scallops with Blueberry Balsamic

The first course featured one of my favorite foods — scallops!  Blueberry balsamic was drizzled over the plate, serving as a cushion for the lightly broiled seafood bites.  A Pinot Grigio nicely paired with this dish.

Arcadian Apple Salad

ledge rock salad dressing 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The salad course was a unique blend of flavors I had not expected — Arcadian spring greens, amaretto apples, feta, and candied spiced walnuts, with an apple cider vinaigrette.   The apples had been soaked in amaretto and club soda, I believe.  It resulted in a very light taste, with the amaretto acting almost as the second layer of flavor behind the apple, rather than overpowering it.  The candied walnuts were spiced with many notes, including cumin, cayenne, and paprika.  My husband, the real cook in our house, tried to dissect each layer of flavor and guess the different ingredients that created it.  The slightly heavier Chardonnay was a great flavor partner for these layered tastes. 

Hawaiian Pork Kebob

The Hawaiian Pork Kabob that “our” chef, Nate, prepared ended up being our favorite course.  My husband already was scheming how to replicate it before he had a second bite.  The teriyaki sauce did not overpower, but was a nice light glaze companion to the grilled pork tenderloin and pineapple pieces.  A Pinot Noir was poured with this course.  Nate kindly shared with my husband the general ingredients for the teriyaki glaze recipe and I look forward to my husband’s rendition of this tasty dish in the near future!

Raspberry Sorbet and Champagne

The fourth course was an “intermezzo” course, meant for cleansing the palate.  An intermezzo course often involves a sorbet, as it did at Ledge Rock’s Chef’s Table.  But, instead of a side accompaniment of prosecco or champagne, the sorbet was served in a small glass of it — an elegant sorbet float!  It was incredibly refreshing without being too filling before the main entrée.

Beef Medallion and Shrimp Skewer

The next-to-last course is what most would call the “main” course or entrée.  Our menu presented us with a Beef Medallion and Shrimp Skewer.  Nate prepared the medallion perfectly, in accord with our tastes (medium-rare, more rare than medium).  The beef was completed by a strawberry demi-glace which provided a nice hint of flavor for the tender cut of meat.  The pairing of Cabernet wine was a natural choice.  The two large shrimp were wrapped in applewood bacon on a skewer and then topped with strawberry chutney with accents of cilantro.  Fresh green beans and a sweet potato side completed the colorful plate.  Just roll me home now.

But, wait there is still the sixth and final course.

S'mores Cake in the Wood-Fired Oven

I have to admit that when I saw that the final course was a “S’mores Cake” I was thinking I might just have that course boxed up to bring home to my boys.  Yes, having a “s’more” treat a couple times every summer when enjoying the campfire at the cabin is something I look forward to, but marshmallow and chocolate treats otherwise are not usually my thing. (I can do without those memories of marshmallow bunnies in the Easter basket.)  But, my opinion quickly changed as the marshmallow bubbled in the wood-fired oven and the chef drizzled chocolate over the top . . .

S'mores Cake at Ledge Rock Grille

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How could I resist a Northwoods dessert served on a personal-sized cast iron plate?  I should have, but I did not.  It was as sweet and delicious as it appeared.  A special treat for a special occasion.

My husband and I decided perhaps we should use our anniversary as an excuse to reserve two seats at Ledge Rock’s Chef’s Table on a quiet weeknight in March each year. It gives us 364 other days of the year to work off the calories until the next six courses.

Ciao! ~ Kat