16649 96th Avenue Chippewa Falls, WI 54729

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The Best Fresh Green Bean Recipe

Growing up my mom made the same turkey dinner for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we all loved it.  We all looked forward to the special meal she prepared, which took her most of the day.  A large turkey that fed the six of us, and enough for leftovers throughout the week.  There were a variety of side dishes to compliment, plenty of creamy mashed potatoes with gravy, cloverleaf biscuits, cranberry bread, cranberry sauce, and, my favorite, green bean casserole with the crispy fried onions on top.  My mouth is watering just reminiscing about it.

Fresh Green Beans

When I became an adult and married, my husband’s family did not share the same traditions I grew up with and green bean casserole was not always a staple at the holiday dinner.  While I have missed this tasty holiday treat over the years, this has actually worked to my benefit in the long run.  Let’s just say I am counting my calories more now than I did back when I was younger.  I am looking for ways to enjoy the foods that are good for me without all the added calories and fat.  Which leads me to the best fresh green beans I’ve ever tasted.

Years ago when my kids were in their late teens we took my husband out for a Father’s Day dinner to an Italian restaurant that served their food family style.  This restaurant happened to be over an hour’s drive away, so it was a great family adventure.  We took our time reviewing the menu then all collaborated and ordered a few main dishes we could share along with some side dishes. I had a hankering for some of the green beans listed on the  menu and wanted to try them but wasn’t sure who else would be willing.  I knew my husband would’t be game to try them since he eats very few vegetables, and when he does they certainly are not cooked.  My kids are particular about their vegetables, too, but surprised me by saying they would try the beans.

To be honest, I can’t recall the main dishes we ordered that night, but the kids and I all remember those fresh green beans, so delicious and crisp!  They arrived at the table on a small serving plate, piled high and as green as could be.  One bite and I could tell there was fresh lemon juice, some butter and salt. But it seemed as if there was something else I couldn’t quite figure out.  We all managed to finish the beans that night.  No need for a box to take home leftover beans.

Fresh lemons are key to this recipe

Over the next several months I tried duplicating that recipe myself.  I knew for sure it had the fresh lemon, butter and salt, but what else?  I tried adding a little vinegar, I recalled as a young child some of the adults in my life would drizzle vinegar over their beans.  Nope, that wasn’t it.  How about a touch of hot sauce?  No, that wasn’t it, either.  Well, we finally concluded was it was possible we could never match the wonderful experience we had that evening, dinner as a family at a new restaurant, trying different foods.  It was determined the recipe we would call Bucca beans from here on out was very simple, fresh green beans, butter, fresh lemon and kosher salt.  If there is another ingredient, we never did figure it out, but enjoy this recipe we developed ourselves.

Bucca Beans Recipe

1 lb fresh green beans

1 fresh lemon

2 Tbs butter

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup water

Wash the beans and snip the ends off.  I cut in half so they fit in my pot.  Place beans in pot, add enough cold water to the pot to cover the beans, add 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Cover and let sit off to the side for an hour or so.

Drain the beans add 1/2 cup water to the pot.  Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the beans are to the firmness you prefer.  We like our beans to be crisp.  The point is to steam the beans, you will want to stir them around every few minutes so the beans at the bottom are not boiled and get too soft.  You could always use a steamer if you have one.

Drain the water from the beans, keeping the beans in the pot.  Add the 2 Tbs of butter tossing to coat the beans while the butter is melting.  Squeeze the lemon juice onto the beans, tossing more to coat.  We’ve tried using the lemon juice in a bottle with this recipe, fresh lemon is definitely the way to go.

Serve and enjoy.

While I’ve never served beans for breakfast at Inn on Lake Wissota, this is a recipe my family has enjoyed for many years now.  I hope yours will, too.

 

A Low-Key New Year’s Eve at a Bed & Breakfast

A time to slow down the pace of life.

The holidays are wonderful and exciting, an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, which can be stressful and challenging.  While I cherish these times with my family and wouldn’t trade them for the world, by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around I am ready to step back from all of the hullabaloo the holiday season has provided.  I’ve never been one to enjoy an evening with 100 or more people counting down the minutes until the new year arrives.    Up here in the north woods it can also be brutally cold on December 31st, so getting all gussied up and heading out for the evening does not appeal to me either.  I prefer a quiet evening with my hubby, a few friends and some good food.

Do you prefer a quiet New Year’s Eve?

So what kinds of opportunities are there for folks like me to have a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve and aren’t really interested in hosting a get together for friends and family?   I’d like to suggest a stay at a Bed & Breakfast. This gives you the opportunity to create the kind of experience you are looking for without all of the hassle.  Staying at a B&B ensures a smaller crowd since, in Wisconsin anyway, there are eight or fewer guest rooms at the B&B.  Most likely there will be no more than 16 guests at the celebration.

Are you yearning for a quiet evening for two, just you and your honey?  No problem, if the innkeepers are planning some sort of gala to ring in the new year it doesn’t mean you are required to participate.  For those heading out for dinner, some advanced planning is suggested.  Reservations are pretty much a requirement for New Year’s Eve.  If you need help with figuring out where to go, a call to your innkeeper can provide some insights.

Celebrate at the Inn

At Inn on Lake Wissota we offer a complimentary Champagne reception for guests from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  This allows them time to check in and get settled then enjoy time in the Atrium sampling some goodies, enjoying some champagne, and getting to know other guests and the innkeepers.  Guests are free to spend as much time with us as they like, either the entire 2 or more hours, or just a few minutes, then head out for a dinner for two.  Depending on the group of guests we have and what they like to do, we are happy to linger in the Atrium and play some charades or other games.  The point is to relax and have fun.  We allow our guests to set the pace.

Some like it lively

Some of those joining us in Chippewa Falls are hoping for a more lively event.  The Chippewa Valley offers plenty of choices to ring in the New Year.  For those who like to put on their dancing shoes the Heyde Center for the Arts is hosting Prelude to an Eve: Troppo Big Band Jazz Orchestra.  The Snout Saloon will have live music from Dead Ringers and music Bingo, and  Eau Claire will be turning downtown into the ultimate New Year’s Eve Celebration during the third annual Light Up Eau Claire. This event brings excitement, energy, music and lights to the streets of downtown Eau Claire.

New Year’s Eve Champagne Hors d’Oeuvres reception at Inn on Lake Wissota

As for me, you will find me at the Inn, looking forward to getting to know my guests and making new friends just in time for the new year.  As always, I will prepare a fabulous gourmet breakfast on New Year’s Day so there’s no need for you to worry about heading out into the cold to nourish yourself in the morning.

Of course, the beauty of B&B’s is they are unique, no two of them the same.  So be sure to find out what the innkeepers plan to do for their New Year’s Celebration before making your reservation so you are confident you will get the experience you are hoping to get.

We hope to greet you soon as one of our guests, if not this year then in the next.

It’s Official – Wisconsin has the best Cheese!

 
 
 
Well, I am proud to say a Wisconsin Cheese has won the World Championship Cheese Contest held in Madison, WI earlier this month.  We offer up hearty Congratulations to Emmi Roth USA for it’s winning entry of  Roth® Grand Cru® Surchoix cheese.   Even though the contest is held in Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland, the judges are a well rounded panel of cheese experts from around the world.  In fact, the last time any cheese from the U.S. won the Grand Prize was in 1988.  I don’t claim to be a cheese expert or connoisseur, but, I do appreciate a variety of cheeses.  In fact, I would go so far to say that many of us Wisconsinites have a tendency to complain when we travel to other states and find the selection of cheeses to be lacking.  I believe this is a reflection of how fortunate we are to live in a place where excellent cheese makers abound. Continue reading

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