Thursday, July 29, 2010

Multiple Choice Question

Trinity is...

a. having trouble keeping up with all of the produce coming out of the garden.
b. in a bit of a knitting funk.
c. in the midst of changing jobs.
d. all of the above.

Answer: D
I'll fill you in on the details of a, b and c as soon as I can, but please be patient. I am trying to keep up with the breakneck pace as of lately.

For now, I'll just mention that the last event of Paul's birthday (an all day softball, BBQ, keg party) went really well. We had great weather and a great big group of people. The game was at a local park and the BBQ and party was at our house. It was really fun (and a lot of work!) to host the event, but I think everyone (us included) had a good time. (Apparently, in my sleepy state, I have become overly dependent on parentheses to make my point.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paul's Birthday: Celebrated

Yesterday was a packed full day of birthday fun. Paul and I like to plan birthday celebrations for each other that are all surprises. He didn't know what we were doing, he just knew that he couldn't make any other plans for the day.

We started off with breakfast at a new place: Colossal Cafe. The name is funny because the entire cafe seats 15 people. We had driven past it many times and had always been curious about it. Unfortunately it was pretty pricey for a breakfast place and the food didn't impress us. I ordered their specialty: yeasted pancakes with walnuts, apples and brie. It came served with a caramelized (butter and sugar) syrup and was so sweet I felt like I might fall into a sugar coma after a few bites. I did think the yeasted pancake was interesting, sort of like a cross between injera and a normal pancake. Paul had a breakfast sandwich and hashbrowns. They were ok.

Then, we hopped on a train and headed downtown to go to the Mill City Museum.

We rode the Flour Tower, watch Minneapolis in 19 Minutes, enjoyed the exhibit and the view. We both learned more about the history of Minneapolis and felt the museum did a great job of presenting information in a variety of ways.

Atop the observation deck.

Looking down at the courtyard
where the power of the river water
used to be harnessed for the mill.

The Mississippi River, Stone Arch Bridge and Mill City Museum Ruins
After we finished at the museum, we headed next door to the Guthrie Theater to enjoy another vantage point and to have lunch at Sea Change. It was what I expected: higher prices, small servings, great quality.

After lunch, I sent Paul off to get a massage. I made sure to book him an appointment with someone really tough so he could get some deep tissue work done. He is sore today, so it must have been a good massage!

I enjoy giving presents so much that I find it really hard to wait. I knew Paul wouldn't want to be rushed through opening the gifts, so I patiently waited until we had a little down time between the massage and dinner. It was not easy! I had already had to hold myself back from giving him some of the presents BEFORE his birthday. Anyway, the first gift he opened was from my mom. He is quite happy with her selection of rye whiskey.

Paul has become quite the grilling enthusiast, so I stocked him up with some new tools for a few new techniques and a gift card to Coastal Seafoods. Much less flashy, but very useful, he also got a new battery for his laptop. It had gotten to the point where if someone bumped his power connection and he didn't fix it immediately, the computer would die. He was badly in need of a replacement battery.

Then...dinner! We went to Ngon Vietnamese Bistro. From the outside this place does not look impressive, but when you walk inside and taste the food it is very impressive! One of the reasons I chose it was due to their extensive beer list of exclusively Minnesota beers. We tried a few of them, all of which were tasty.

All of the food we ate was delicious. We shared a lettuce wrap appetizer, I had a mock duck entree and Paul had a scallop entree. Thanks to my book club for introducing me to this awesome restaurant. Paul was very pleased with how complex and perfectly executed his food was.

After dinner, the last stop of the day was Pumphouse Creamery. I didn't take any photos because I was too focused on eating my ice cream cone without dripping on my dress. Paul and I were both happy to realize that we had found a replacement for Christina's. Both places have great flavors, some of which are seasonal. Paul had brandy soaked cherry ice cream made with local sour cherries and I had ice cream flavored with local honey. Pumphouse Creamery makes their own ice cream cones, so if you ever go, be sure to get the cone!

Phew! Happy Birthday, Paul!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Today is Paul's birthday! I took the day off of work so we could spend the whole day celebrating together. I'll post about that later, but for now, there is other news to share.

Late last week Paul got a really great early birthday present: a job! I didn't formally post about it here, but due to a reorganization of his company, Paul's job was eliminated and he was laid off in early March. It is never a good time to lose your job, but luckily we were smart when we bought our house and our conservative budget helped us be able to stay afloat during his unemployment.

Since he got laid off, Paul has been hard at work looking for work. He also became head chef of our house, creating many delicious meals. (He was not busy shaving as evidenced by the giant beard and long curly hair!)

He was also known to spend many hours watering and communing with our garden. And, on a very rare occasion, he could be found weed whacking in his PJ's while smoking a pipe. (I had to sneak up on him to get this photo.)

As much as he enjoyed having time to do all of those things, we were both very happy that he got a good job offer. We had a champagne picnic in the backyard to recognize his patience, diligence and efforts and what all of those things allowed him to accomplish.

So, now that that is behind us, we are grateful to be where we are and are looking forward to what the next year of life brings us.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Like Mozzarella Sticks

For a few years now I have been toying with the idea of fried zucchini blossoms. I remember having them served to me when I was studying abroad in Italy and I remember liking them. I have recently noticed that a lot of farmers are selling them at the market. I even went so far as to buy some last year but then didn't get around to cooking them in time (they spoil REALLY fast). So, when it came up in conversation with Beth recently and she sent me a good recipe, I went out to the garden, picked some blossoms and gave it a try.

Upon opening the first blossom I discovered a big bee hanging out on the pistil of the flower. I closed the flower back up and set that one outside. I am not about to fight with a bee over a flower. The bee wins! I moved on to the other flowers and was thankfully not surprised by any hidden bugs in those.

I stuffed the blossoms with a mixture of cheeses, herbs and garlic. Then I dredged them in egg, coated them in flour and fried them. I am sure plenty of meat eaters would think this technique to be unremarkable, but this vegetarian was treading on new ground! I breaded something! I fried it!

I would love to show you photos of the finished goods, but we dunked them in marinara sauce and ate them up so fast that I didn't even take a picture. They were good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Broccoli as Big as My Head

Our garden is getting HUGE! And so is a lot of the produce coming out of it. I went right out to the garden when I got home from work last night because I knew the broccoli was getting big and I wanted to make sure we cut it before it flowered. It looked like a big bouquet!

Also, it was as big as my head! Paul and I followed these directions to blanch and freeze it. We froze it into meal-sized servings. Part of the freezing process includes using a low-tech method to such the air out of the baggies. As the link explains, we used a straw in the bag to suck the air out and then sealed it quickly. Paul did the honors of sucking the broccoli air out (you know what that smells like, right?). He likened it to taking a hit off of the broccoli hookah. Blech!

We already know the broccoli is tasty because these two heads weren't the first ones we harvested. We've already had some in stir fry, steamed some and ate some raw. I just hope the frozen stuff is good, too.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Making Pickles

Paul prefers salty foods over pretty much anything else. Ever since I made pickles last year, Paul has been craving more. This weekend was his weekend!

Our first batch of pickling cucumbers was ready so we made 2 giant jars of dill pickles.

In addition to good pickling cucumbers and dill, you need lots of garlic.

The cucumbers, dill and garlic gets layered in the jar and a boiling mixture of water, vinegar and salt gets poured over it.

photo includes a standard sized coffee cup so you can get the scale of the jars

The recipe we use isn't sealed, so they have to be stored in the fridge. I'd like to can the next batch, so we can store them in our root cellar. I hear that canned pickles is a whole different ball game. Any advice?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Evening at Nokomis

Earlier this week Jamie and I spent a lovely evening at the beach. Everything about the night was perfect. We hadn't had a chance to catch up in a while, so we had a lot to chat about. The picnic dinner we packed was delicious. A guy sat near us and played guitar. The air and water temperatures were perfect. We were there late enough to watch the sun going down over the lake. Bliss.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summer at Northrop

The past month has been filled with great lunchtime concerts as part of the Summer at Northrop programming. Here is who I have seen so far:


The Poor Nobodys

Tim Sparks and Phil Heywood

Cafe Accordion Orchestra

Sometimes my lunch buddy has been knitting...

and one time my lunch buddy was my Mom!

Lunchtime concerts are a lot of fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


+ 3 hours
+ This American Life, Radio Rookies and The Moth podcasts
+ sweat
+ a little money
= 7.5 lbs of fresh picked blueberries

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

From Garden to Plate

Last night was an exciting night for harvesting from the garden. We got our first cucumbers, zucchini and broccoli.

I pulled a few onions and cut a bunch of kale, too.

With all of these ingredients and a few more, I made a miso stir-fry over red jasmine rice, topped with toasted sesame seeds and cilantro. For the sauce, I followed this recipe. It was delicious and felt all the more special since most of the ingredients traveled less than 50 feet from garden to plate!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mint Iced Tea

After getting a sample of mint tea from the farmers' market AND realizing that my mint was starting to flower and needed to be cut back, I was inspired to make mint iced tea.

I combined cut up spearmint leaves with orange pekoe tea bags.

Steeped for 4 minutes.

Strained it, stirred in a few spoonfuls of honey, added ice and VOILA!

It makes for a very refreshing iced tea.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July State of the Garden Report: Fruit Bearing

The berries and apples are a little slower growing than the veggies, but they too have made progress in the last month. Here is what they looked like in June.

The apples are getting bigger. We won't have a huge crop, but the fruit we have on the trees seems to be holding tight.

The raspberries have proven to me that they need to be pruned. I plan to do that in the fall, but for now the berries are sagging into a little bridge for Jack to walk under.

We have a new addition to our fruit bearing garden. Strawberries! Paul's mom got us three of these ever-bearing strawberries plants. I think we will work on making a strawberry bed in our yard for them in the fall. We have yet to identify a good spot for it, though. Our little yard is filling up quickly!

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