Thursday, September 29, 2011

book hoarder

This always happens to me when I request books from the library, but it's never been quite this bad before ... do you think I can read them all in time? I'm almost done with the first book in the stack, and have about a month for the next five. Beyond that, I can renew!

Let's just hope nothing else comes in to make the stack taller!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

eating machine

Lately, I have been an eating machine. Has anyone else had this "problem" recently? More specifically, I can't seem to get enough spicy food, bread, butter, or cheese. (Vegetables? What are those??) :)

Seriously, though, I have still been eating my veggies . . . just not LOVING them, you know? Here are a couple of recent meals:

First, the second round of pad Thai:

I generally follow the recipe for "Brooklyn Pad Thai" from Vegan with a Vengeance, but typically add extra vegetable matter. The first round I added broccoli; this time, I added plenty of shredded green cabbage. Mmm!

Next, a reuben, and some leftover potatoes:

I confess, I have practically been living on grilled cheese sandwiches for the past week and a half. Why? I have no idea. :) I added tomato soup to my grilled cheese craving, and then progressed to reubens. I am really puzzled by this reuben craving, since I didn't think I really LIKED thousand island dressing, or sauerkraut, for that matter! But, gotta tell ya . . . I was eating the kraut straight out of the jar with a fork! Where did THAT come from? Luckily, I had some tempeh leftover from a simple meal this past weekend, so I only had to pick up a few other key ingredients to satisfy my craving!

For "dessert," I will eat an artichoke. :) (Giant artichokes have been on sale at the co-op this week! Why? Who cares! When inexpensive, eat artichokes!)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday brunch . . . OUT!

After church yesterday, Dora and I headed over to Tilia, tucked away near the Wild Rumpus Bookstore in the Linden Hills neighborhood, for brunch. What an experience!

Since the place was hoppin' by the time we rolled in, (around 11:30,) we elected to sit at the bar, which was probably the best choice. Despite the uncomfortable bar stools, (my only complaint about the restaurant,) it was an awesome place to sit! We had the not-so-busy bartender at the ready to fill our coffee cups and water glasses and answer questions about the menu, and we had an insider's peek into the restaurant, since the owner sat down next to us to enjoy his meal about halfway through our visit. (He was politely chatty, but not intrusive -- allowed us to get back to our conversation after a few minutes.)

And the food? Oh, the food:

I tried the "Slow-Poached Eggs in Parmesan Cream," which was, in a word, heavenly. Perfectly-crispy toast, perfectly-poached eggs, delightfully tart tomatoes, and the most amazingly creamy, rich, flavorful sauce. And let's not forget that green salad-like topping -- had to have contained plenty of sorrel, because it was so bright, lemony, and slightly bitter. Mm! The whole meal just sang, if you ask me -- so many flavors and textures going on, but perfectly executed, in the end.

The restaurant also boasts incredible coffee, plenty of gorgeous pastries, (I tried a banana muffin with cream cheese frosting, which was excellent -- rich, but not too sweet,) and a hip but not unwelcoming atmosphere. Pleasant-sized portions, recession-friendly pricing, friendly staff . . . let's just say I'll be back, and I'm wishing their location was much closer to home!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Look what I saw in the water, while walking around Lake of the Isles yesterday afternoon:

My fellow walkers, runners, and bikers seemed to just pass by, without noticing. I kept taking pictures:

While the zoom isn't that high-quality, you get the idea:

OK, so someone, somewhere, in the Minneapolis Parks Foundation has a sense of humor. Her name is "Minne," and she has her own website, is on Facebook, and also Tweets! Maybe I should take lessons from Minne in how to be more social-media savvy?

Any other locals seen Minne? I guess she travels all around the lakes in the metro, and has been spotted in the chain of lakes, as well as in Lake Hiawatha. She's three years old, now -- why am I always the last one to know stuff?? ;)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

not a lot

Hey blog folks -- just checking in to remind all y'all that I'm still around! Not a lot going on in my house these days, but that's ok. Have been cooking (lasagna last weekend, pad Thai last night -- both major repeats, but for good reasons!) and working, and blowing my nose a lot. ;) Allergies AND a cold at the same time? Ugh. I'm planning on spending my day in today, listening to the bluegrass show on Jazz 88, running down the laptop battery, reading magazines, and watching movies. I might bake something later, but what, I'm just not sure yet!

One more week of work before I enjoy a week off! I'm looking forward to taking a little trip and spending some more chill time at home. Wahoo for vacations!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

hello, beautiful.

Ain't it purty?

Can you believe that I didn't own a wok? I ended up searching three different Asian markets for a wok this afternoon, and found one! Heavy-duty carbon steel, seasoned for the first time in my oven this afternoon . . . woooooo!

I think I see Pad Thai in my future. Just as soon as I buy a wok ring! (I thought the round bottom wouldn't wobble on my gas range, but alas . . . the handle makes the wok wobbly. Back to the Asian market, I guess!)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

3-day weekends are made for cooking

Wouldn't you agree? I had a lovely weekend, busy and full of fun with friends, but left myself plenty of time to make some delicious meals!

Quite possibly, the best brunch ever:

Poached eggs, greens (kale, this time,) roasted potatoes, and sliced "Kellogg's Breakfast" heirlooms. MMMMMM! If only I had the time to make this meal again THIS morning!

Two pizzas, one including more heirlooms, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil:

And one classic "mega-veggie style," including mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, and loads of veggies:

Red onion, green bell pepper, sliced tomato, sliced olive, broccoli, and mushrooms, to be precise!

Cherry crumble, with local vanilla ice cream from Pumphouse Creamery:

I discovered jarred sour cherries at Bill's Imported Foods on Saturday afternoon, and I practically jumped for joy! Next time I'm having a cherry pie craving, I'll have to go pick up a few jars. For now, the two jars I bought made me deliriously happy -- more than enough foodie excitement for one weekend, in my opinion. :)

What did you cook over the weekend?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

hello, fall.

Fall is definitely in the air . . . while we've had goofy days that are hot and humid, generally, the weather is cooler, the nights are darkening earlier, and it's starting to feel like the seasons are changing. I'm not complaining -- fall is my favorite season, and I'm happy to see the end of the stifling, humid, stuffy weather. Wee!

To counteract the cooler temperatures, I thought it was time to start cooking warmer foods! (And this dish is downright hot!) Adding a few sliced chipotle Field Roast sausages and extra cayenne to "Smoky Red Peppers 'n' Beans Gumbo" from Veganomicon made for a spicy, warming dinner last night!

From the moment the butter hit the hot pan, (and I did de-veganize this recipe, since I had butter but not margarine on hand,) I had a feeling this recipe was going to be a winner . . . and I was so right! Using local onions, local garlic, local peppers, local okra, and home-cooked kidney beans, this dish screamed flavor and nourishment every step of the way. I kept urging the pot along, wishing everything would just cook FASTER, so I could hurry up and eat already! :) As I said earlier, adding the sausages and several hefty shakes of cayenne upped the spice quotient enough that I didn't need extra hot sauce; if you are sensitive to spicy foods, I'd definitely leave the cayenne out if you are going to add spicy mock meats. (One can always augment at the table, right?) Although this recipe yields a ton, I'm certain it will only get better as it sits, and the hearty stew-like gumbo will certainly freeze well. If leftovers last that long!

One more note . . . this recipe calls for a half-teaspoon of liquid smoke, and liquid smoke is one of those ingredients that just scares me a little bit. It is so strong, I'm always worried it will overpower a dish and kill my taste buds. However, that is not the case with this recipe! I'm certain I would miss the liquid smoke if it wasn't there, but in the finished dish, I couldn't even detect a hint of "excessive smokiness" that I usually find in recipes containing that ingredient. Measure carefully, and enjoy the finished product! :) I know I did.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Minnesota State Fair! (what I saw edition)

Baby animals:

Butter sculpting:

Watermelon sculpting:

Vintage seed sacks:

Seed art:



And last but definitely not least, the 4-H Llama Costume Contest! (The reason I decided to go to the Fair, and absolutely worth the price of admission!)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Minnesota State Fair! (what I ate edition)

Why did I go to the State Fair, you ask? It's a good question: I'm not a fan of heat, crowds, or deep-fried foods. However, I received an invitation from Dora to hit up the Fair last night for a special event . . . and I couldn't resist! I'm going to keep that event a secret for the moment, though, simply because I haven't gone through all of my pictures of that event, yet, and want to reveal all of the fun properly, in a well-photographed post.

For now, enjoy my Fair eats, in order of consumption:

Chai On-A-Stick:

Pleasantly sweet, nicely creamy, and mildly spiced, (I would have preferred a heavier hand with the spices, but this is Minnesota, after all,) this chai pop was the perfect start to my afternoon at the Fair. By the time I discovered these creamy pops, (not quite soft enough to qualify as ice cream, but definitely smoother and creamier than your average fruity homemade popsicle,) I was due for a treat! The heat and sun were already starting to get to me, and I had only been at the Fair for about 45 minutes. Chai-On-A-Stick to the rescue!

Apple Cider Freezie:

I don't go to the Fair often, but when I do, I always make sure I seek out one of these frozen treats at the Horticulture/Agriculture building. What's better on a hot, summer's day than some frozen Minnesota apple cider? I can't think of much else. And the price is right, at only $1.

The "dinner" portion of my evening began with fried green pepper rings:

Scaldingly hot out of the fryer, and drizzled with ranch dressing, these were fantastic! To someone who loves onion rings, these green pepper rings were a delightful twist on one of my favorites. Pleasantly greasy, (and not in a gross way,) Dora, Ruth Ann, and I all agreed that there was just enough breading on the peppers, and it magically stuck on somehow. Mmmmm!

Cheesy garlic bread with marinara for dipping:

Honestly, this was probably the lowest-quality food item I ate throughout the evening, but it hit the spot at the time. :) Nothing to write home about, but I was craving something small but substantial at this point in the evening -- and these breadsticks were just right! The garlic flavor was assertive but not overwhelming, and the cheese was dripping and oozing over the edges of the cardboard boat in which they were served.

I also had opportunities to try part of Dora's homemade/hand-rolled giant pretzel, topped with garlic and butter, (incredible! I almost bought one of my own,) and some of the sweet corn ice cream from Blue Moon Diner -- it has been one of the "it" foods of the Fair this year, and has received several write-ups from local foodies. Dora had hers topped with candied cayenne peanuts, and Ruth Ann went for the hot blueberry topping. I enjoyed my bites of ice cream, although I found the fibrous corn bits throughout a little off-putting, and thought the peanuts definitely needed more cayenne! The blueberry topping was excellent. :) I just don't care much for corn, so I guess it makes sense that I wouldn't LOVE corn ice cream, right?

On my way to the bus, I thought I deserved one final treat to enjoy on my way out of the gates:

Vanilla frozen custard, just like I grew up on, (Milwaukee is known for its local custard stands, and we frequented several growing up,) stuffed into a perfectly-made waffle cone -- crispy and mildly sweet, but plain enough to let the custard take center stage.

More on the Fair later!