Tag Archives: Food

Granola!

Yeah, so my politics are moving left, my lifestyle is moving left and I find myself doing things like carrying my own water bottle “to support our municipal water system”, shopping at co-ops and making my own…granola. Some of my closest friends here wear nothing but Birkenstocks all summer and introduced me to cloth sandwich bags. Whatevs. I work at the University of Minnesota studying long-term outcomes of children in poverty, for Pete’s sake! What did you possibly EXPECT was going to happen! These people, their politics, their social views all make sense to me and make the views I used to subscribe to seem a little…barbaric. But, I digress.

As a result of our lifestyle changes, our children are becoming a bit crunchy, too. Maybe daughter number 2, who is inherently an earth-carer, is the one who started it all, I don’t know. Regardless, this evening we made granola and I thought I’d share the recipe. It’s inexpensive, easy and desperately…CRUNCHY! Look out…you may stop shaving your pits…no, I haven’t gone THAT far…yet ūüėČ

Granola

4 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup coconut

1 cup nuts, finely chopped (I have used almonds or peanuts)

3/4 tsp. salt (leave this out if your nuts are salted)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds

3/4 cup honey (I have toyed with adding more, but haven’t tried it yet)

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp molasses

8 oz. dried fruit (we use dried cranberries)

In a large pot or bowl combine all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine all wet ingredients. Then combine all ingredients together. Stir til well mixed.

Spread on foil-lined baking pans (they call them jelly-roll pans here in MN). Bake in a 300 or 325 degree oven for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Be sure to stir mixture and re-spread it out every 10 minutes during baking.¬†Don’t allow to burn. When it is finished baking, place sheets on cooling rack and allow to cool some.

After baking, it should be a light golden brown color.

Break apart before it is completely cool. (If you leave it you will have a giant granola bar, which you could break into smaller bars, or whack at with a metal spoon to break it up into yogurt-friendly granola.) Add dried fruit and place in airtight container.

Finished product with dried cranberries added
No worries-that container is BPA free...of course ūüėČ
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Follow me to the Jersey Shore: There’s a cowgirl behind the wheel…

On the road again!

We woke up near Youngstown, OH and had about 459 miles ahead of us, most of which were in Pennsylvania. We woke up late but were able to make it on the road by 7:30 AM. ¬†Of course we started the day with Dunkin Donuts Coffee, perfect road trip fare. ¬†When you get to the drive thru, you say “I’ll have a large coffee, light and sweet.” and they know just how to fix it! Then of course, all the sugar and cream is on the bottom, so you cover the sip hole with a napkin and give it a shake. ¬†Ahhh, sweet, creamy wonderfulness!

Ahhhhh…
Chris doing the Dunkin coffee shake
Pretty happy with my first cup of Dunkin for this trip! It was sooooo good.
Pennsylvania

This was my day to drive a long stretch, and I wound up bringing us all the way home. It was a perfect day for driving.  The sun got brighter and the air warmer as we headed east. There was no weather, no wind, and at times I saw my speedometer easily creep to 90, at which point I would promptly slow down, but I share that to illustrate how easy the driving was! Chris was nervous the whole time because he calls me a cowgirl  and says I drive too fast on the highway for his taste! I am actually an excellent driver, but I like to keep up with traffic, which out here is usually going 75 or 80. And we made it to Jersey before 4 PM, so in the end, I know he was secretly glad I was at the wheel.

The food highlight of our second day of driving was a stop at a Roy Rogers on the highway. Roy’s, as we affectionately call it, is a chicken and roast beef sandwich place that used to be much more common in New Jersey, but now is mainly found along the highways at rest stops. I love, love, love their fried chicken. It is not too crunchy, not too peppery and is served with a delicious, southern-style biscuit. Yes, Roy’s is always on the list of must haves when we head east.

Always a must…
Yummmmm…
Bridge to NJ over the Delaware River

We got to the PA New Jersey Border just before 3 PM, at which point we blasted some ghetto booty music, as a friend in MN so affectionately calls it and had a dance party in the car. I will blog more later about our first evening of family, fun and foldable pizza later today!

Welcome HOME!
New Jersey-the land of awesome food and LOTS of traffic! This is the NJ Turnpike.

Follow Me to the Jersey Shore: 817 miles later…

Off we go!

Well, we started our day at 4:00 AM. All the kids got out of bed nice and quick and we were on the road by 5:15, which is pretty impressive for us because we often don’t get out til 9:00, even when our intentions are to leave at 5! A quick trip to the gas station for fuel and…gulp…coffee and we were on our way!

Looking sleepy at 5:30 AM! No road trip starts right without a bad cup of gas station coffee.
Chris embarassed to be drinking his gas station coffee…Starbucks SNOB!

We hit some dicey weather in Wisconsin, nearly got smooshed by a semi, drove through slush and ice and eventually rain. We didn’t hit traffic near Chicago, which was unusual because Chicago is often a nightmare to get around. We didn’t run out of gas in Gary, Indiana, like we did the last time…CHRIS! And, we remembered to eat early in Ohio, because once you pass a certain point THERE IS NOTHING for miles! I did nearly reach a point of no return with boredom by the end of the trip, but it was pure bliss when we arrived at our hotel at 10 PM. ¬†(Thank you to my texting buddies who tolerated my incessant texts to get through those last few hours!)

Snow started falling in Wisconsin

The kids were great and did their own thing the whole time.  They are experts at road-trips. We have trained them from a very early age on how to do a road trip without whining! And we are reaping what we have sown!

The food experiences today were typical, but we did make one pit stop in Monona, WI where we bought Sprecher Gourmet Soda. We always like to try local products. ¬†We got three flavors: Root Beer, Orange Dream, and Cherry Cola. ¬†We haven’t tried the Root Beer yet, but if you like creamsicle flavor, the Orange Dream was dreamy, fer sher, and made without high fructose corn syrup. ¬†The Cherry Cola, made with real Door County cherry juice (Door County is a super popular Wisconsin tourist area) was delicious. It did have high fructose corn syrup, but was absolutely a cherry cola wonder and even got a thumbs up from Chris, who doesn’t generally like flavored colas.

Sprecher Gourmet Soda from Wisconsin
Giving the Cherry Cola a whirl
Thumbs up from the Soda Guy
My turn to drive-I usually do more driving, but today I got chauffeured around. And, by the way, I only wear glasses when I drive at night on highways or in bad weather.

Tomorrow, we set off to conquer Pennsylvania. 400 miles to go and at the end we will be rewarded with East Coast delicacies and I will share them with you as best I can through my pictures!

Being Outside, Inside…

Well, it’s March. I can’t explain to you how much March in Minnesota sucks, for lack of a better word. While 3/4 of the country is beginning to emerge from winter and enter spring, we are merely transitioning from Minnesota Winter to Normal Winter, which is winter the way the rest of the country experiences it. ¬†You know, temps in the 30’s, lots of snow, gray skies, instead of arctic blasts, arctic sunshine, super dry air and temperatures so low they could kill you. And while all the big home improvement stores are starting to advertise for lawnmowers and fertilizer, we are left bemoaning the fact that our ground is still frozen and the grass is still covered by FEET of snow. March is a tough month for many Minnesotans, not just this transplant. ¬†Almost everyone, except the winter diehards, is feeling it. ¬†So, today some friends and I went for flower therapy, as my friend called it.

We traveled to Bachman’s on Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis. ¬†Bachman’s is a big flower store chain. ¬†The one on Lyndale is especially nice because it has within its walls Patrick’s Bakery and Cafe. The cafe is made to look like it is outside. ¬†The ceiling is like that of a greenhouse. ¬†There are fountains and big yellow market umbrellas over little wrought iron cafe tables. ¬†Birds chirp and hop around while you sit. ¬†It is an all around fabulous experience, especially in the dark of winter.

The Outside, Inside cafe

Patrick’s has delicious quiche and sandwiches, but also the most amazing pastries. ¬†I chose the St. Tropez quiche, made with chicken, tomato and feta cheese. It was served with mixed greens and a vinaigrette dressing.

Of course the best part was dessert. We tried three. My choice was passion cake. Yes, of course I love the name. Who can’t use a little extra passion in their life? ūüėČ (It’s actually made with passion fruit mousse…).

Passion cake

We also tried a chocolate almond cookie cake. It tasted like a super moist chocolate chip cookie with rich and delicious chocolate.

Chocolate Almond cake

And we sampled trillogy cake (that’s how they spell it), which was an outrageous combination of three different types of mousse and proved to be a light and wonderful delicacy. It was my favorite. All were paired with coffee, which was a much better brew than I expected it to be.

Trillogy cake-yummmm

After consuming the goodies we walked around the greenhouse area, absorbing the smells of all the early spring and indoor plants and then checked out the gift area, trying the whole time not to look out the windows and see the mountains of white outside.  I left feeling refreshed, even if just for a brief interlude. It was great to escape the doldrums for an afternoon.

Indoor fountain

Forget the snips and snails, just give me the Puppy-Dog Tails…

I love food. Actually, I love eating food that is prepared for me by someone else. I especially love sweets.  Ice cream, Italian ice, doughnuts, pastries.  The things I remember most about any location are things I have eaten there.  We are traveling to New Jersey soon and the whole trip is really about what we will eat when we are there.

The suburbs of Minneapolis are not that varied in what they offer to eat.  There are mostly chains around us, so we have had to go searching for good eats, which are usually found closer to the city.  When my brother came to visit me about a year ago, he introduced me to Isles Bun and Coffee in Minneapolis. (I should mention he lived in Minneapolis for seven years before I moved here.)

It is this adorable little shop, with barely enough room for people to stand in line and order. ¬†Parking is limited to the street, though we have never had a time when we couldn’t find a spot. ¬†But the baked goods that they produce are some of the best I have had anywhere, and trust me, wherever I go I search for yummy sweets. ¬† They make all sorts of cinnamon rolls and muffins, but my favorite is one called a puppy-dog tail.

Puppy-dog tails are served by the dozen, and are basically twists of dough iced with cream cheese icing.  There is a giant bucket of icing at the coffee prep station in the shop. They have little cups so that you can grab extra icing to take with you because honestly you can never have too much.  They are best served warm so that the icing can goo a bit.  We usually call ahead and ask them to prep them fresh for us, which they do happily.  It is absolutely impossible for us to eat just one.  We usually go to Isles Bun and Coffee in the warmer months because then we can sit outside at these umbrella tables and soak up the energy of the street while enjoying a party in our mouths.

I went to Cub today and grabbed some doughnuts for the fam. ¬†I tried a Danish doughnut covered in sugar. ¬†It was delightful and sort of reminded me of my beloved tails. ¬†The air is warmish feeling (It’s 19 but with no wind) and I was reminded that in fact spring will come and puppy-dog tails are in my future, and that is one very bright and yummy spot of life in Minny.