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Decorations on overdrive at Candy Cane Lane.
Decorations on overdrive at Candy Cane Lane. (Photo: Facebook)

Candy Cane Lane plugs in on Friday

Candy Cane Lane will celebrate 30 years this season when it plugs in the lights on Friday, Nov. 27. They will stay aglow through Sunday, Dec. 27.

Located in West Allis, Candy Cane Lane – bounded by Oklahoma and Montana Avenues and 92nd to 96th Streets – features numerous neighborhood blocks with extremely festive and decorated houses.

It's free to drive through Candy Cane Lane, but it is also a benefit for the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund so donations are accepted by volunteers at designated collection sites.

The hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Remember to drive slowly and turn your lights on.

There is also scheduled entertainment that will take place during the month-long run. Go here for the full line-up, and stay tuned to OnMilwaukee for an interview with a resident who lives on Candy Cane Lane (we have so many questions for her!).

So far, about 1,800 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S.
So far, about 1,800 Syrian refugees have been admitted into the U.S. (Photo:

Shorewood woman hopes to host Syrian refugees

Gretchen Mead owns a bungalow-style home in Shorewood that she shares with her two children, ages 7 and 9. Occasionally, she rents out two extra bedrooms to travelers through Air B&B.

"I enjoy interacting with people from around the world and I think it’s good for my children. I want them to be prepared for sharing in the future, whether it’s a dorm room or an apartment or other resources," says Mead. "Plus, having guests makes me clean my house more often."

Earlier this week, after looking at tragic photos of Syrian refugee children on Facebook, Mead decided she was going to do something to help. She posted this to Facebook:

"I’m considering inviting a Syrian Family to live with my family. I am considered lower middle income, but I have two extra bedrooms, more clothes than I can shove in my drawers, a pantry stashed full of amazing food and enough expendable income that I bought tickets for my entire family to fly to the Grand Canyon for Thanksgiving. I have enough. My kids have enough. If they don't attend summer camp this year, they still have enough. Everyone in my community has enough. If I’m honest with my deepest soul, I can't find a compelling reason why I shouldn't bring a family in need to live with my family."

Almost 400 people liked this post and Mead received a barrage of texts and messages from people who supported her effort and / or offered to host refugees as well. Within an hour, Mead scheduled a meeting for people open to sharing their home with Syrian refugees.

Mead is uncertain how the passing of yesterday’s bill in the U.S. House of Representatives might affect her plans. The bill prohibits Syrian and Iraqi refugees admission to the United States without a background check and security clearance from the FBI director, the Homeland Security secretary and the director of National Intelligence.

Mead, who is the executive director of the Victory Gardens Initiative, says she does not identify as a conservative or a liberal, nor is s…

Dip it. Dip it good.
Dip it. Dip it good. (Photo: Royal Brevväxling)

We made the Captain Steak Joynt's cheese fondue

A few weeks ago, I posted a story about the now-defunct Captain’s Steak Joynt chain of restaurants that were popular in Milwaukee in the '70s and '80s. Many readers remembered these nautical-themed bar / restaurants and mentioned one of its signature dishes, the cheese fondue.

Leslie Heinrichs, the archivist for the Marcus Corporation (Marcus owned the Captain’s chain) was actually able to dig up the recipe. Last night, my co-worker Carolynn Buser, her sister Kathy, my partner Royal and I put it to the test.

The recipe calls for two packages of S&M Old Fashioned Pepper Gravy Mix from Pepperidge Farm. We could not find this in grocery stores or online, so we substituted with McCormick’s Peppered Country Gravy – a similar white gravy with an abundance of black pepper flakes.

Otherwise, we were able to easily find the remaining recipe items which include Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and two pounds of processed American cheese.

I have an electric fondue pot, but opted to use a double boiler because that’s what the recipe calls for and because it’s larger. However, the double boiler wasn’t large enough either, and we transferred the mixture into a large pan instead. This worked out fine.

At first, we were concerned the consistency of the 'due was too runny, but we stirred it constantly for about 15 minutes and it thickened to perfection. It’s important to have a thermometer on hand in order to keep the heat at 150 degrees and not let it reach the boiling point.

We also made the Captain’s "chips" which were included with the fondue recipe. We accidentally overcooked them for a few minutes but the majority of them were delicious "dippers." Here they are before getting slightly scorched in Kathy and Carolynn's oven:

We also dipped browned beef chunks, bread chunks from Lopez Bakery rolls, fingerling potatoes, hot pretzels, rye chips, broccoli and cauliflower.

All four of us found the fondue to be really good. It did not taste too Velve…

Permanent Baggage is on Hamilton, around the corner from Brady Street.
Permanent Baggage is on Hamilton, around the corner from Brady Street. (Photo: Facebook)

Start your shopping on Brady Street

Anyone who likes sipping, shopping and indulging should head over to Brady Street tomorrow – that’s Friday, Nov. 20 – for the block’s Holiday Open House.

The fun takes place from 5 to 8 p.m. and nearly 20 retailers are involved, including ol’ favorites like Dragonfly and Brewed Cafe as well as new makers' boutique, Permanent Baggage. 

A full list of participating retailers and what they’re offering is here. 

While you're out, don't forget how much the staff of OnMilwaukee loves vintage and handmade items. And wine.