Chelsey’s Nebraska Lovin’ Gravy Recipe

Ever since Tommy Colina’s closed in Omaha (RIP) I have been searching for the most perfect wonderful biscuits and gravy recipe. I have tried several things and I have come pretty damn close to recreating it, or at least making … Continue reading

Bellevue Berry Farm

Warm welcome to the Bellevue Berry Farm

Warm welcome to the Bellevue Berry Farm

Edith and I went to the Bellevue Berry Farm a couple of weeks ago. This had been on my list of things to do all summer. We missed strawberry season by a long shot but made it for raspberries. We were able to go on an unseasonably cool day. It was even raining a bit in the morning so Edith could wear her Thomas the Train raincoat. I got this coat for her at a garage sale and she is obsessed with it. She knows she only gets to wear it when it rains so I think she has developed a fondness for rain.
This is the level of enthusiasm we like to see at the berry farm!

This is the level of enthusiasm we like to see at the berry farm!


It was a really quick drive from Midtown Omaha out to the farm. We arrived and there was no one there. I drove around for a while, saw some cows and corn, then decided to call them. Once we figured out where we were going, we got right to it. I chose the big box for picking because I assumed we would kick ass at berry picking. It was a slow process. After about 15 minutes the bottom of our box was barely covered. It was at about this point that Edith realized the berries were edible. She then started stealing all of the berries out of the berry box. I tried to show her that she could eat as many berries as she wanted, she would just need to pick them! She was not as interested in doing the work for her berries.
Berry stealer. Heart stealer. In general no good thief.

Berry stealer. Heart stealer. In general no good thief.


We were out in the berry field for about an hour. I picked berries and Edith ran around for the most part. There was another little boy about Edith’s age there with his mom. They chased each other around and at one point they were climbing the fence together. This was the cutest moment of the day. I did not take a picture because I didn’t want to be that weirdo photographing a stranger’s child. I am also 100% sure that Edith instigated the fence climbing. Before she showed up the little boy was just running around like a sweetheart, then she corrupted him.
Just checking on the fields.

Just checking on the fields.


We finished up and I took the berries to the scale. Our box was about half-way full and I was wishing we could have picked more but it was time to get home for lunch. I ended up getting 6 1/2 pounds of delicious raspberries. After taking my berries home I was surprised by how much 6 1/2 pounds of berries actually is. I made about 6 jars of jam, took out about a pound for snacking on, and put a huge bag full in the freezer. It was a good raspberry filled day.
We did have a berry nice day.

We did have a berry nice day.

Cute raspberry baby and aging mother.

Cute raspberry baby and aging mother.

Bozeman, Montana

I recently embarked on my first vacation without my child! Huge accomplishment, right? Anyways, I visited my childhood best friend, Hayden (going on 19 years of friendship) in Bozeman, Montana. I was only there for three days but we packed our days full and had a blast! My first day we walked around the Bozeman downtown and ate, drank, and shopped. Of course you get to do this while being surrounded by mountains on all sides! For a small town, it had amazing food and drinks and really cute boutiques. Hayden lived near the downtown in a converted large house/small mansion. The yards in her neighborhood were filled with really cool vegetable gardens and many of the houses looked like they were super energy efficient.

Montana-ritas! Huckleberry!

Montana-ritas! Huckleberry!


I am so insanely jealous of this garden!

I am so insanely jealous of this garden!

After bopping around Bozeman, we headed out on the open road to a hot springs called Chico Hot Springs. This may have been my favorite part of the trip. Basically this was an outdoor pool that was fed by hot springs. The large pool side was lukewarm and then there was a smaller hot side. It felt to me like I was taking a bath outdoors while looking up at mountains. It was incredible. The drive out was pretty great too, saw lots of animals including alpacas (which I was made fun of for because I knew that they were not llamas). After Chico we headed into Livingston, Montana for a dinner filled with wine, beef, veggies, and the most delicious cheeses at a place called Second Street Bistro. The town was as cute as could be too!

Post-Chico bathing

Post-Chico bathing


No alpacas here, but it is still amazing!

No alpacas here, but it is still amazing!


Livingston, MT

Livingston, MT


Cuteness never stops!

Cuteness never stops!

The second day was laid back, and rather chilly. While Omaha was boiling at about 90 with 90% humidity, Saturday in Bozeman was a cool 50-60 with occasional rain. Hayden and I were pretty lazy for the most part but we did go on a hike up some hills near her house while the sun was shining. We climbed the path, admiring the views of the mountains and the storms in said mountains. Not long after we reached the high point of the trail, it dropped about 20 degrees, clouded up, and the rain started. We made our way down the hill much quicker than our way up.

Clouds and Mountains

Clouds and Mountains


It's important to have a giant bloody mary while hiking.

It’s important to have a giant bloody mary while hiking.


More clouds

More clouds


Storm!

Storm!

Sunday, I woke up and walked around downtown Bozeman before Hayden woke up. I grabbed a crappy cup of coffee and wandered around. There wasn’t much open but the sky was clear and the air was the warmest it had been my whole trip. A short time later, we headed out for white water rafting on the Gallatin River. I complained the entire time before we started because I was scared, and let’s face it, I didn’t enjoy being in a cold wetsuit in 70 degree weather. We went, I survived, and moments were fun. Our guide was hilarious, and everyone sensed my fear and kept talking about how I was going to fall off the raft. Luckily, I did not fall into the icy waters. It was not on my bucket list, but if it was I could check it off and not have to worry about doing it again.

Hotel Baxter

Hotel Baxter


And then Hayden turned into a moose.

And then Hayden turned into a moose.

My trip was fast and fun. I enjoyed getting a break from my darling toddler and had a blast with my best friend. I know I could have done so much more, but I only had so much time. Maybe next time we will go to Yellowstone and see the Old Faithful and make our way up to Big Sky. I was glad to get home to the balmy weather and to feel like I was wrapped in a cozy blanket, thank you Nebraska summertime.

Pretty Montana Flower. First person to identify wins a cookie.

Pretty Montana Flower. First person to identify wins a cookie.

ANGRY RANT: My flights were delayed in Denver for my flight to Bozeman and back home to Omaha. I spent a total of 13 hours in the stupid Denver airport. It made me somewhat homicidal. I complained to Frontier and they didn’t care. I hate them. I think they stink and I never want to fly with them again. So since they didn’t care, I am going to complain on my blog. Justice will never be served.

Brownville Flea Market

On our second trip to Brownville, NE, we went to the Memorial Day Flea Market. They have two huge flea markets a year, once during Memorial Day weekend and the other Labor Day weekend. All of the streets of this tiny historic town are taken over by antique and junk slingers. There were also plenty of county fair type food stands, and even pony rides. Yes, you could get funnel cake. No, we didn’t get funnel cake.
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We weren’t really on the hunt for anything but came home with some pretty sweet finds. Brent bought a couple of drinking glasses that had orioles on them, and I came home with some pretty sweet jewels. My first attempt at “dickering” was a complete flop. I wanted these two 1960’s pyrex bowls and in trying to get a good deal, I offered the guy $2 more than what they were worth. He looked at me strangely and I realized what I had done. I think he felt pity for me and ended up giving me $6 off the asking price. After that I did not dicker again.
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After looking through most of the junk we stopped at Whiskey Run Creek Winery. I had purchased a Living Social deal a few days before that I was excited to use. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no cell phone service in Brownville so I could not bring up my deal on the phone. This means there will be another Brownville trip this summer! We still had a nice time sitting on the patio drinking wine. You can buy their wine in several Omaha Hy-Vee’s. I am a big fan of their Robert’s Back 40 and Chambourcin.
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We were also able to get our very first Nebraska Passport stamp of the year at the Lyceum, which is a nice little restaurant/bookstore. I don’t think we will make any large treks across Nebraska this year to get all of the Passport stamps but there are still a lot within an hour or so of the Omaha area. Here’s hoping to many more Nebraska summertime adventures!

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have not been a fan of Christmas time for many years. However, I feel like now that I have a little lady in my life (Edith) I am growing to appreciate the season a bit more…and  Christmas in Omaha is really lovely. There are lights and decorations throughout the city, Christmas tree stands in random parking lots, and there is usually snow on the ground.  I have been thinking this year about a few of my favorite things in Omaha around this time…Nebraska related an others.

1. Brightly colored Christmas Tress at Cirian’s Market on Leavenworth Street

This place is right near my house and every time I drive by and see these pink , blue, purple, and rainbow trees I smile.  These trees are ridiculous, not to mention they cost about $100.   Someday, I will buy one of these trees and I am sure I will have to make a pro/con chart in order to decide which color to buy. I took this picture while driving and they didn’t have many of the trees out, but trust me they have a rainbow one!!

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2. Holiday Cocktails

I am generally a wine and beer drinker but when the holidays come around I bust out the hard stuff.  I am just trying to channel “Drunk Uncle” from Saturday Night Live.  My favorite holiday cocktails are Manhattans and Negronis.  Many Decembers ago, I was a 21 year old hanging out with my friends and getting crazy. We wanted to make Manhattans and had no idea how to make them so I decided to call this older guy I had just met and ask him.  That man was Brent, my darling husband, and not long after that phone call did we go on a date.  I am pretty sure I have the Manhattan to thank for bringing Brent and I together.  The Negroni is a good holiday drink because it is red, and like a Manhattan, it’s very strong.  Here are the recipes for you (the way I make them):

Manhattan:

2 shots of bourbon

1 shot of sweet vermouth

A dash of angostura bitters

1 Maraschino cherry

Put in a glass with ice, mix.

*If you are Brent, you put a bunch of grenadine in it and a couple of cherries

Negroni:

1 shot of gin

1 shot of sweet vermouth

1 shot of Campari

Put in a glass with ice and mix

*Sometimes I like to put this in a bigger glass and add club soda

3. Nebraska cookie cutter

I got this cookie cutter as souvenir on our big ol’ trip out West this summer. I love it. Even though I don’t care for sugar cookies, and I burned most of the batch, I was very glad to be able to send red (okay, pink) and green Nebraska cookies to my favorite out-of-staters! I would have sent more out, but I burnt about a third of them. I am sure by the time anyone receives these cookies, they will be hard as rocks. I would recommend drilling a hole in them and using them a as a Christmas Ornament.

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4. The annual Kosterpelding Christmas Card

This is something forced upon me each year by my husband.  I generally dread it but end up loving every minute of it when it happens.  He always comes up with some random idea and I just go with it.  Here are some samples of past Christmas card photos. These tradition is going to make for several years of embarrassing our child(ren).

xmas 2011

xmas 2010

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I guess for me, these things have made my Christmases more bearable and I imagine as Edith gets older I will find even more reasons to like this season.  This year we are mostly just trying to keep her from tearing down the Christmas Tree.

Happy Holidays! 

The Largest Porch Swing in the World

Last week I had the honor of visiting the LARGEST PORCH SWING IN THE WORLD (yes, that required all caps) in Hebron,NE. I will admit that it was the largest swing I had ever seen…but it was not on a porch! The park in which it was located reminded me of my childhood. They had one of those hamster wheel things and a big metal slide, both of which have since been outlawed in most cities. Hebron has their priorities straight in the park department: Fun before safety! Edith and I joined a couple of unsupervised tweens on the hamster wheel and I immediately felt like I was going to vomit.

Edith and I had stopped by Hebron after visiting Daykin and Deshler, Nebraska.  Our sole purpose for this mission was to pick up a quarter of a beef in Deshler, but before we got there we stopped in Daykin (or maybe it was Tobias) for lunch with my friend Amy’s parents.  They were the providers of said beef and they were kind enough to feed us a hearty farm lunch and give us a tour of their cool house and playhouse. I was very impressed by these Nebraskans, they had water pipes beneath the floors that heated the place, a giant garden, and a pantry full of food that Amy’s mom has canned. I have to say that the most impressive part was the playhouse.  Amy’s dad got the idea to make a European style cottage for his grand kids after visiting Germany. He built and created everything and even welded a spiral staircase; they had a neighbor build the kids some toy appliances.   It was great to see something in real life that you only ever see on Pinterest!

We were only in Deshler for about 10 minutes.  We came, we picked up a large amount of beef, and we hit the road.  It was a cute town and the lady at the butcher shop was really nice.  She was impressed that I drove 2 1/2 hours to pick up beef, I reassured her it was worth it. As we drove out we passed East Pearl Avenue and I had to take a picture for my Edith Pearl…get it E Pearl?

Supper

It’s supper time! If you are a real Nebraskan you probably call your evening meal “supper” (or at least called it that growing up).  I want to introduce you to one of my favorite Nebraska suppers.

When I met my friend Amy, who grew up on a farm in Nebraska, she made me Reuben Meatballs. I feel like these epitomize Nebraska suppers.  For one, the Reuben was created in Nebraska (Omaha to be specific).  Secondly, this dish combines beef, sauerkraut, cream of mushroom soup, Swiss cheese, caraway seeds, and miracle whip. I don’t think you can get much more Nebraskan than that….considering our strong German and Czech backgrounds. I don’t care for meatballs, and I am not the biggest fan of the Reuben (unless it’s made with a meat other than Corned Beef) but these “balls” are delicious.

I generally stray a bit from this recipe because I never have a 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef…I usually just have 1 pound and then still add  the same amounts of the rest of the recipe. Oh well, they turn out fine.  I think it’s also a good idea to make sure you are using ground beef from your local farmer so you know there isn’t any pink goo in it.

Official Recipe with notes from Amy:

1 c. cooked rice
1 1/2lbs. hamburger
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1 sm. onion, minced
1/3 c. bread crumbs
1/3 c. crushed cornflakes
salt and pepper
2 c. sauerkraut, drained (I recommend more if you dig the kraut)
Caraway seed
1 can mushroom soup
1 c. miracle whip
1/4 lb swiss cheese, grated (I recommend closer to 8-10 oz.)

Combine first 8 ingredients, shape into balls. Cover each meatball with kraut. Place in greased baking dish. Sprinkle caraway seeds on top (definately optional–not recommended if you aren’t from German heritage). Top with the mushroom soup and miracle whip mixture (a.k.a white-trash casserole staple), spreading to cover the top of the balls. Sprinkle with swiss cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

NOTE: It looks disgusting, doesn’t smell better (if you are kraut shy), however, it is superb, especially if you are eating it the next day when the flavors have really blended. Served best with a microbrew and a toast to my mom.

If you are feeling weird about eating so much meat and cream, serve the balls with some sauteed kale and beet greens and wash it down with a local beer  (I went with Lucky Bucket Lager).

South O!

Last Sunday the fam and I made a brief visit to South Omaha. Not only did we get to Czech out the little festival going on, we also ate some delicious Mexican food.  South Omaha has always been a place for immigrants.  Brent’s Czech and Polish roots all come from South Omaha. Now when you drive around you see a mostly Latino grocerias y tiendas.  Although there is the occasional abandoned store front with some Eastern European name on it (I assume Czech).  I love love love South Omaha.  I was lucky enough to live in this area when I first moved to Omaha.  I ate lots of food from taco trucks and thoroughly enjoyed the margaritas.  It has become more of a little village over the years. It’s so colorful (as in lots of pink and green paint) and I love how many people are out and about shopping with their families.  I love to go there because I totally feel like a tourist.  Anyway, we started off our little visit by going to this little Czech festival held in an old gymnasium (if you look closely you can see these sweet gymnast paintings that were hung on the walls).  There were lots of men in vests, accordions, and kolache.

We played a pop toss game. Brent lost but I won. Instead of taking the soda I opted for a mini Kit-Kat. Brent later informed me he was disappointed because he wanted some cheap root beer.  Then we played a dime toss game, which is basically trying to throw a dime into a glass. If you get the dime in the glass, you get to keep that particular glass. Brent won two low-ball glasses and I won a champagne flute. I was personally very excited about the champagne flute because every time we drink champagne I break one of the glasses…I think we were down to only one flute at home.  We cake-walked twice and on the way out I won a cake.  We also got to meet one of the Czech-Slovak Queens and we saw how sauerkraut was made (yuck). It was really great.

Because Brent did not want to eat the Czech food (I am secretly quite happy about this), we decided to eat Mexican food.  We went to my favorite place on 24th Street, El Alamo.  Brent and I both used to frequent this place in our younger days. I have so many memories of this place.   I had the pollo en mole with a Pacifico, Brent had the enchiladas rancheros and a margarita, and Edith just had some salsa (we just put it straight in her bottle).  If you live in Omaha and have never been, I highly recommend it…it’s on 24th Street near N, right next to the Mexican Pottery store (which is also really awesome and cheap if you have never been, go!). If you haven’t been down to South 24th Street in a while or ever…make sure you go visit sometime.  There are so many restaurants, bakeries, and stores.  In the summer there are men walking around selling the most amazing popsicles which taste like ice cream on a stick….so delicious!

It’s not just corn!

I was recently able to tour a couple of Nebraska farms through a Farm to School Retreat and Farm Tour hosted by my current job.  Nebraska is an agriculture state and most people think  of corn when they think of Nebraska…we are the “Cornhusker State” after all.  However, Nebraska is home to many small farms and ranches like Common Good Farm and Robinette Farms that grow all sorts of fruits and veggies, as well as raise chickens, pigs, and cattle.

A natural with the chickens

We started off at Common Good Farm where they told us about biodynamic farming and their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. They had the cutest little corgi that demanded everyone’s attention.

Confident Corgi

Robinette Farms was beautiful. It was nestled on an original farmstead where the old buildings and farm equipment was still around, just waiting for someone to use it.  Luckily, two young farmers came along.  The old house is still standing and they let their summer interns live there.  Their pigs live in the woods, and their chickens wander the grounds.  It seemed like it was taken right out of the Wizard of Oz or something.

Tractor?

It was a gorgeous day. The sun was hot and the wind was gusty.  It was a perfect March day in Nebraska.  At the end of the day I smelled like sunshine and dirt.  I frequently dream of becoming a farmer.  Spending long days in the sun, working in the dirt often seems very appealing.  However, after hearing the stories of these wonderful people who grow our food, I don’t think I am cut out for it.  As much as I want to smell like sunshine and dirt everyday, I don’t think daily physical labor is something I am cut out for.   I guess I will just have to continue as a happy gardener instead…and maybe get some backyard chickens!

On that farm he had some chickens

Indian Summer (Winter)

Just another reason Nebraska is so great….Monday it was 69 degrees in Omaha. Brent and I walked to pick up our little one from daycare (weiner dog in tow). Then we grilled steaks outside. The steaks were Nebraska raised of course (from my friend Amy’s family farm)! It has been unseasonably warm this winter but I will take it. It makes up for all those years of frostbite.

Brent and Edith outside in January!

Monday was also a great day because I received my 2012 Nebraska Tourism guide in the mail!! It really makes Nebraska seem sexy.

Nebraska Tourism Guide

Tuesday was equally exciting. We grilled hamburgers (also Nebraska raised) and Deuce almost caught a rabbit. Somehow the poor rabbit got caught in gate. Luckily, Brent saved the day and cut the gate so the rabbit could escape without being eaten by our deadly 8 pound wiener dog.

Poor bunny. Is that a roll of toilet paper by him?!?