Amy Artisan

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Category: Stateside Tourist (page 3 of 4)

Of Cranberries & Pie

Earlier this fall, I had a business trip up to Massachusetts for a week. At the end of the week, instead of driving straight back to PA I decided to do a weekend of exploring and settled on the Plymouth, MA area. In addition to exploring the early Pilgrim settlement I also sought out a visit to a cranberry farm. (In all my time in Wisconsin, I never made it to a cranberry farm and have long been fascinated by these edible ruby gems.) On that Saturday afternoon, I visited Flax Pond Farms for a tour and to learn all about cranberries.

Flax Pond Farms - September 2013

Flax Pond Farms – September 2013

First, I drove down to the bogs that were currently being harvested. They dry harvest at Flax Pond – the berries that I saw being “vacuumed up” would end up in the bags of Ocean Spray cranberries we stock up on in the grocery store in November. After visiting the bog, I spent some time in the farm store – I did a bit of berry sorting on the antique sorter and learned all sorts of fascinating facts about cranberries in general and the farm in particular. Did you know, the wet harvest we associate with cranberry bogs means that the berries cannot be sold as fresh produce? The vines in these bogs are over 100 years old. When my time there was finished, I picked up a few cranberry items – including honey from the bees that pollinate the bogs – and had placed an order to have a couple of pounds of fresh cranberries delivered to me in November.
My delivery of Flax Pond cranberries in a hand crafted crate

My delivery of Flax Pond cranberries in a hand crafted crate

It was a treat to receive my replica cranberry crate in the mail several weekends ago & begin planning what cranberry goodness would be made during the Thanksgiving holiday. I hosted the Artisan family for Thanksgiving and knew that they would enjoy the cranberry fun.
Pinterest actually led me to 2 of my recipe choices – both turned out delicious & will be part of my ongoing cooking repertoire. For my leftover turkey, I popped a couple of cranberries into the basil mayo that I was making – sandwiches & simple salad of turkey/cranberries/pecans were transformed with this zingy mayo. For Thanksgiving dessert, I turned to a recipe that I first made last November, on recommendation from a friend: Nantucket Cranberry Pie.
Thankful for pie on Thanksgiving evening!

Thankful for pie on Thanksgiving evening!

As I set about to make it on Thanksgiving morning, I realized that I had definitely modified the recipe enough to “make it mine” and share it with you. So, I present my version of the Nantucket Cranberry Pie – An Amy Artisan Remix
Making the pie on Thanksgiving morning

Making the pie on Thanksgiving morning

Nantucket Cranberry Pie – An Amy Artisan Remix


  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt* (reduce salt by half if using salted butter)
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • Sugar for topping – I use Chicago Old Town Sugar 

My Prep Tips

  • If you’re using frozen cranberries, either let them thaw a bit after chopping; or add a couple of minutes to the cake’s baking time.
  • I used a Zhylis chopper – not all the berries in a batch would be chopped – that didn’t impact the outcome – a few whole berries in the mix are just fine
  • Since I used a glass pie plate, I put the butter slices in the plate & then into the microwave – one less bowl to clean
  • Any sugar can be used for the topper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10″ pie plate. Melt 1 tablespoon butter, and drizzle it into the bottom of the pan.
  2. Spread the chopped cranberries and nuts in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, 3/4 cup melted butter, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and almond extract.
  4. Spread the thick batter over the cranberries and nuts in the pan, using a spatula or your wet fingers.
  5. Sprinkle coarse white sparkling sugar atop the batter.
  6. Bake the pie for 40 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean of batter or crumbs. (Mine was pulled from the oven at right about 40 minutes.)
  7. Remove the pie from the oven. Serve warm, or at room temperature; just as it is, or with whipped cream or ice cream.

Yield: one 10″ “pie” – you could also use a 9″ square pan.

P.S. As I read through this entry, it kind of sounds like one of those sponsored posts (“this trip was provided & this recipe created…”). My “disclosure” – the trip was my own adventure & the recipe was my own modifications to create a new Artisan family favorite. 🙂

By the Bay…

Ah, home! After 5 weeks up north I arrived at Casa de Artisan on Thursday evening & have thoroughly enjoyed 4 days at home with not much planned. When I trekked northward 5 weeks ago, it was in anticipation of a rather intense crunch time on my current project & I anticipated that at least one day each weekend would be at the office. As the month progressed, the project continued to change & I only ended up working 1 of the 4 weekends that I was up there. So, with the other weekends I made the most of my time in northeastern Wisconsin – more often than not, I ended up along the shore of the bay, Green Bay. After “surviving” last winter up along the bay, it was so nice to enjoy it in better weather. Whether I was in “full tourist” mode as I trekked to Door County (twice) or just had my knitting, a book & a cool beverage to go sit along the shore, I made sure to have my camera in hand to capture scenes of the beautiful bay.

A quick Sunday afternoon drive after 82 hours at the office in 7 days – Along the shore in Escanaba, MI

Art in the Park – Henes Park – Menominee, MI

The view from a bench in the shade – Veteran’s Memorial Park – Menominee, MI

Reading (& battling flies) on a towel – Red Arrow State Park – Marinette, WI

Another Sunday afternoon drive – Bay Shore County Park – Oconto, WI

A quick stop along the side of the road – Ephriam – Door County

The view from a park bench – Sister Bay – Door County

At the end of a lovely daytrip – Hedgehog Harbor – Door County

The view from the Washington Island Ferry

West Harbor – Washington Island

Schoolhouse Beach – Washington Harbor – Washington Island

A Day in Door

Ever since I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve always heard great things about Door County, WI and had never trekked northward to visit. My current work assignment has me “roughly” in the vicinity…since driving northward on August 1st, I had over 200 hours in the office with only 2 days “off” by the time I left work on Friday afternoon. To say that I was ready for a bit of a break was a mild understatement.

With an iced coffee in hand and a full tank of gas in the rental, on Saturday morning I typed “Sister Bay, WI” in the navigation on my phone & began a delightful day trip.

After stopping at the visitor’s center on the edge of Sturgeon Bay, my passenger seat was filled with maps & brochures and I continued northward through charming towns and beautiful scenery. My first stop was Tannenbaum – a favorite tune is “We need a little Christmas” and indeed this shop fit the bill. I might have walked out with the start of a new nativity for my collection and some other holiday treats for loved ones.

For a late lunch, I sat at the counter at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed the Swedish pancakes and meatballs with eggs. The goats on the roof were in prime locations for capturing “touristy” pictures.

After lunch, I enjoyed the views and breezes of Sister Bay – a shaded park bench was the perfect spot to sit and read and knit for a bit and continue decompressing from work.

While I could have easily stayed on that bench for the rest of the day there were other things that I wanted to do, so I got back in the car and headed south.

As I approached Fish Creek, I stopped at a local yarn shop, Red Sock Yarns and added a skein to my stash and some cute Door County stitch markers.

In Fish Creek, I stopped for a mid afternoon sweet treat at Not Licked Yet for frozen custard – the Bee’s Knees Sundae hit the spot: vanilla custard with Door County honey & cinnamon sugared almonds – delicious!

I turned “into” the peninsula and sought out Stones Throw Winery for a lovely tasting and picked up a few bottles for my wine rack at home.

I continued across to the other side of the peninsula – by the time I got to the Cana Island Lighthouse there wasn’t enough time left to tour before it closed for the day – another time.

It was a perfect day – the weather was in the mid 70s, the sun was beautiful, the skies a gorgeous blue – and every so often the tips of trees had been touched with the first signs of fall color. (head shaking at the thought of that…)

I drove clear to the northwest end of the peninsula – when I saw the ferry to the nearby island I knew it was time to turn around and bring my adventure to an end. An iced honey latte from a cute coffee shop was the right refreshment for the trek back down and around the bay and towards my “pseudo casa” at the hotel.

At the end of the day, I had driven more than 320 miles and achieved some much needed “work decompression” in the process. Between the photos, the memories, the maps and the brochures I have plenty of options for planning another escape – hopefully for a longer stay…

All-in-all, a delightful day in Door County!

Bing! A Vacation!

For the last several years, June has meant a weekend trip to Michigan with my sister. This year the tradition continued, although we were along the shore of a different great lake. In March, Rebecca was enthralled by the daily locale picture on the Bing homepage…Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan. Since my current work assignment has me in northern Wisconsin, on the border with the UP of Michigan, we decided to plan our sister’s weekend around this picture. After a bit of online research, we booked into a charming motel for 4 days in June…Rebecca booked a flight to Appleton, WI and before we knew it, we were on vacation.

In short, it was a great time! 4 days…900+ miles driven…2 scenic boat cruises…hundreds of photos taken…countless cups of Cherry Roast coffee…many fun memories! Stay tuned for our adventures in shipwrecks, sculptures, shorelines, waterfalls and more!

(P.S. Work is beyond all consuming these days…hence the blog silence…I’ll be doing some short blogs posts in the coming days to revisit my vacation…)

With a Cherry (Blossom) on Top!

As I knit Rebecca’s “Cherry Blossom Neckwarmer” in January, I had no idea that I would see cherry blossoms this spring. This past weekend Jen & I went to Washington DC for a girl’s weekend and enjoyed the National Cherry Blossom Festival. While our feet may be tired from all the walking that we did, our memories are filled with fun and lots of delicate pink blossoms everywhere we looked. An early morning flight on Friday put us in DC during the morning rush hour. By 9:30 we were at our hotel & were pleasantly surprised to find that we could actually check into our room instead of storing our bags for the day. Even with a “last minute” decision to go to DC during a popular tourist time we were able to snag a great hotel/room – I cashed in some of the points I earned from my time in Chattanooga in 2006 & so we had free lodging. The forecasts for the weekend contained many raindrops; however, even though we had our umbrellas with us at all times we never had to use them. Our goals for the weekend were simple: Cherry Blossoms, National Monuments, Many Museums, Panda Sightings & More Fun!

Cherry Blossoms – Cherry blossoms were everywhere. As soon as we left the airport to head into DC we had our first glimpse of pink & were enthralled by their delicate beauty the whole weekend. The subtle shades of pink seemed to glow from within. It was also amazing to see how the aged & gnarly tree trunks could give way to such delicate blossoms.

National Monuments – The walk around the tidal basin yielded many monumental views.  By the time we headed back to the hotel in the afternoon, we had seen the Jefferson Memorial…walked through the enduring legacy of FDR at the FDR Memorial…recalled the service of our grandfathers at the World War II Memorial…walked on patrol at the Korean War Veterans Memorial…stood in awe at the Lincoln Memorial…and took in the somber stillness and starkness of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Many Museums – Saturday morning we headed towards the National Mall and the museums. The line for the National Archives was well over 90 minutes to get in – that will have to be another trip. We explored the National Gallery of Art…enjoyed the gorgeous exhibit of women’s dress at the National Museum of the American Indian…went to the National Air and Space Museum…where we also saw a few treasures from the National Museum of American History.

Panda Sightings –  Our goal for Sunday before returning home was to see the pandas at the National Zoo. Both Jen & I have memories of school projects involving pandas – she won a speech contest in 8th grade with a speech on pandas; in 4th grade I selected the panda as the mammal I would research for my first research paper and pandas have been a favorite animal ever since. As we walked up to the panda yardTian Tian was just waking from a nap and seemed to be walking right towards us as he came to the watering hole for a drink. He then provided us with a great show of “typical panda behavior” by sitting upright and munching on bamboo for quite a while.

More Fun – Other fun highlights of the weekend…the convenience of using the DC Circulator to move around from the hotel to and from Georgetown and the National Mall…popping into a cute boutique near the hotel to pick up some charming cherry blossom notecards…picking up yarns at Stitch DC to remind us of the weekend…delicious appetizers and meals on Friday and Saturdaysublime gelato at Dolcezza…taking a break from being tourists to return to our Kansas roots and enjoy an evening of knitting while watching the Kansas Jayhawks in the Final Four. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Before we knew it, we were en route to the airport preparing to return to Chicago. As a cab carried us back into the city from O’Hare we reflected on how much fun, history and beauty we were able to cram into a few days away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

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