Last month, some good girlfriends and I decided to have a bit of a Milwaukee “stay-cation” (since all the cool kids abandoned the frozen 414 for the tropics this spring break) and hit up the MAM for a free show. The band putting it on was none other than Painted Caves, a local band described as the “North African Surfer’s guild band of choice,” and boy did they impress. Not only was the sun streaming (for once!) through the Calatrava’s wing span, but everyone around was obviously having just as good a time as we were.

It’s always fun to get dressed up and pretend to be sophisticated at the Milwaukee Art Museum, but that day everyone  was just happy to be dancing in the sun, swaying along to the down-tempo, psychedelic beats of Painted Caves. If you haven’t gotten a chance to check out this band, I would highly recommend it. Their next show is at another MKE favorite of mine, Mad Planet, so bring your dancing shoes this April 19th, and maybe we’ll see you there!

It may not be as well know as Seattle, but I think Milwaukee is definitely a coffee city, or at least has enough coffee snobs living in it to support our many local roasters and cafes. Lauren and I both work for Colectivo (formerly Alterra) so we know a thing or two about barista life and the many opportunities and events provided for the coffee lovers of Milwaukee.

I recently attended (and participated due to peer-pressure) a throwdown hosted by Stone Creek Coffee Roasters. For anyone who is unaware, a “throwdown” is a friendly competition where two baristas battle it out for the most impressive latte art. The two designs are poured and presented to the judges who vote for the best cup, typically defined by visual aesthetics, degree of difficulty, color infusion, and definition. The competition is whittled down to the final two, leaving the winner who gets the pot (a $5 entry fee is charged for each barista participant).

Needless to say, the night was a roaring success with laughter abound and PBR cans littering the bar, in true Milwaukee style. Suck on that Seattle.

One of my favorite new traditions is Monday night “Laundry Day” with a few of my close girlfriends. It all started when I wanted to make red beans and rice for dinner, coincidentally coinciding on Monday which is the traditional Louisiana day for the dish (in that it was customary to save your Sunday ham bone for the stew, leaving a pot of beans that could sit on the stove and simmer while clothes were being scrubbed for the wash). Needless to say, it was a great success, and although we like to mix up the menu, “Laundry Day” is still the one night of the week we all look forward to. So the next time you get hit by the Milwaukee winter blues, call up a couple friends, and try out this delicious recipe which is sure find a special place in your heart and transport you down to the bayou where I was born. And being an “accidental vegetarian,” I typically cook vegetarian-friendly meals, eliminating the traditional meats from the dish, but don’t worry, it’s still just as tasty. Just don’t forget to serve with good company and good beer. Cheers!

Red Beans and Rice (vegan)

  • 1 - 2 large cans of red kidney beans
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • garlic (to preference)
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 - 3 bay leaves
  • several dashes of Tabasco
  • Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning (to preference)

Drain your can(s) of beans and place in pot with a double volume of fresh water. Bring the beans to a rolling boil, always making sure that there is a layer of water covering the beans (otherwise they’ll get all hard and discolored). Boil the beans for about an hour, until they are tender but not necessarily falling apart.

While the beans are “doing there thing,” chop and dice up the “Holy Trinity” (aka the onion, celery, and bell pepper) and saute in olive oil until the onion turns translucent. Add garlic and saute for two more minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sauteed Trinity to the bean pot as well as all your spices and seasonings. Add just enough water to cover, bring that puppy to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least (preferably 3, or until the whole thing gets nice and creamy). Adjust seasonings as you go along, stirring occasionally, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.

Serve generous spoonfuls over hot white, long-grain rice with French bread and hot sauce.

Nothing like a quick make-shift meal with friends during a busy week. We combined whatever ingredients each of us had lying about and made a delicious sweet potato, chickpea, and kale curry with a side of rice and quinoa. 

Yay! First post on our new site! Just a small sampling of what is to come; a group of girls who love good food, good drink, good company, and most importantly, documenting it. Lauren and I hope to introduce you to more of our Milwaukee lifestyle, so sit back and enjoy the ride.