Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hans Has (Re)Entered the Kitchen

We all have our guilty pleasures - mine is Starbucks' Crumble Cake. I don't know exactly how they make it or what's in it, but I know it can't be healthy - thus, a guilty pleasure. An avid reader of the Game Plan would be able to reference a post this summer in which I discussed how men should feel comfortable (and competent) in the kitchen. This morning I continued my quest for excellence in the kitchen with a first attempt at coffee cake.

The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook was the source of our recipe today. Katie and I spent about 25 minutes preparing the batter, and 35 minutes later we pulled out our first coffee cake from the oven.

What a delicious first bite! Katie wouldn't change a thing. I would make it a little less fluffy - Starbucks has set my standard for a firm coffee cake. The blueberries melted in the mouth and literally each bite kept getting better.

Emeril's job is secure, but I have to say I'm slowly making a name for myself in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hot Lunch on a Cold Snowy Day

I never like this meal growing up, but my mom and her parents ate it growing up on the farm and I always new it was a classic: Campbell's tomato soup and grilled cheese.

I got home from a day in which we probably shouldn't have gone out. The snow flakes were huge and eventually very wet when you're working in it. I couldn't wait to get home and clean up, knowing the delicious meal ahead of me.

And I must say, our house truly comes into character on these winter days and nights. The old cottage reminds me so much of my grandparents' house. And tomato soup with grilled cheese is just the meal my grandpa would have eaten after coming in from his chores.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Perfect Dress Shirt - Like You Care

I've faced reality - not many men I hang out with appreciate style like I do. Now I'm not saying that I'm the most stylish man I know... but wait, I am the most stylish man I know. Let's give credit where credit is due - Katie has contributed a significant edge to my wardrobe over the last three years. But I've always had an appreciation for stylish clothes and creating a "look" of my own.

For a couple years now, I've been looking for the perfect dress shirt. It's a staple of the man's wardrobe. At first glance it's a necessity for black tie affairs (weddings and funerals), but more and more it can be worn with jeans with or without a tie. During these winter months I love a collar under a nice wool sweater. My search for the perfect white dress shirt was a joy to research. I'll spare you the ones that didn't make the cut. Every man should know that Brooks Brothers makes the perfect All-American dress shirt.

It was named best dress shirt by the New York Times Magazine. It's a classic. I know most people I run with don't read the magazines I read, so I'm here to tell you (and you should tell your friends) that it is widely assumed that Brooks Brothers has perfected the classic dress shirt.

Well Saturday night I was in Chicago with Katie and some cousins. We have made it an annual trip to the Windy City for a Christmas festival called Christkindlmarket and we make some time for good shopping. This year I told Katie the only thing I wanted was the Brooks Brothers dress shirt. In true Hans fashion, I let the crowd move on ahead so I could soak in all that is Brooks Brothers (what a great store on Michigan Ave). It was a quick purchase - he sized me up, still 15 1/2 and 34. He got it off the shelf for me, and I was done. Of course I wasn't done. I had to indulge in everything else Brooks Brothers had to offer, but I had gotten what I came for.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Well That Was Quick

If you blinked, you missed it. I guess that's not necessarily true because I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of Saturday's snowfall. It started right when they said it would - 10am. The next thing you know, the ground is covered with a white blanket. Katie and I spent the day getting the house ready to host some friends. The previous week I was working on green grass, but that changed after Saturday's accumulation. The day before, I was doing one last rake of the yard. I left the rake outside, and this picture kind of tells the story about how fast this year's first snowfall hit us here in Madison.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Many Storylines, Same Ending

Thursday night had many story lines surrounding the Packers-Cowboys game.

  • I could talk about Charter Cable and their battle with the NFL Network over including it in their basic package. The two organizations and their greed are hurting the fans they're trying to serve.
  • I could talk about working until 7:00 pm and missing kickoff.
  • I could talk about my shock when Aaron Rodgers took the field as Brett Favre was on the sideline getting a forearm massage. I couldn't lift my jaw off the ground for 2 full minutes as the scene unfolded.
  • I could talk about standing for the entire game, by myself. By Myself. My brother had a life group engagement and my other Packer-Fan-Friend is in California (miss you Todd). Actually, I'll probably talk about this story line later.

But the story line Thursday night was Packer Fan Community. Packer Fan Community was alive at the Great Dane, and probably every other establishment in Madison.

A lot of bad things happen in bars. People drink too much and get in fights. People drink too much and go home with someone they met, creating regrets for the next morning. People drink too much and then can't afford their bills. People drink too much and don't spend enough time at home with family. People drink too much, get behind the wheel, and become the most dangerous car on the road. Very bad things start at your local tavern.

But Thursday night at the Great Dane was electric. I got their late because I was working and had to take Katie home from the gym. I was supposed to meet some friends out, but they decided to watch it at the UW Training Rooms with another friend - I needed food and more excitement that 4 people watching the biggest game of the season. So I went to Old Faithful, the Great Dane Fitchburg. Our softball team has been sponsored by the Dane for three seasons now. It's familiar and fantastic - atmosphere, food, beer. I knew what the scene would be like, but I didn't care. There's just something magical to me when perfect strangers gather at a public establishment for a common cause - especially Packers' Football.

It was standing room only. I was directly under the projection screen, looking straight up for a quarter. Two men abandoned their spot, so I actually ended up with a front row view. To the NFL Network's credit, their camera crew is fantastic. The game seemed so much faster. And it all came to life when Ryan Grant made a cut off the line and broke free from the Dallas defense. The cheers at the Dane were special. I'm not a writer, so I can't describe what I felt at that moment, but hopefully you were somewhere that experienced the same excitement. Everyone in the room (and it's a big room) were as happy as they could be to see their team pull off a great play that went for 6 points. At that moment, life didn't get any better.

Camaraderie is magical to me. The bar is full of people like me - we want good food, good beer, and we don't have the freaking NFL Network. We're all together in the same situation, eyes glued to the same game, experiencing NFL football together. At that moment, we're all friends even if we don't know everyone's name (cue up the Cheers theme song).

The whole game was like that. Brett Favre went out of the game and was replaced with Aaron Rodgers, which didn't make fans happy, but Rodgers grew on us. The game got extremely exciting until our time ran out as Dallas got a first down with about 2 minutes in the game.

The most exciting Packer game I've seen this season was special in so many ways. Sure, I was by myself. Sure, I missed kickoff. Sure, my team couldn't pull out a win. But Packer Fan Community was alive and strong.

And this year there's always the Playoffs.