Over the years, Mike and I have made more trips to Stillwater, Minnesota than any other destination. It's the sort of place where you can spend a satisfying few hours or an entire weekend. The hilly terrain, views of the St. Croix River, historic downtown, and Victorian-era homes make it feel a world away from our life in the suburbs—but it's less than a 45 minute drive away.
For years, we've headed to one of the Minneapolis lakes if we want to spend the evening by the water. However, that involves a 30 minute drive from our home in the suburbs, so we recently investigated a closer option: Elk River, a small city that's northwest of Minneapolis and is situated at the confluence of the Elk and Mississippi Rivers.
In late June, I started dining outdoors at restaurants again (on my personal time—I'm still mostly unemployed as a food and travel journalist). This was a decision I made based on my own health risk factors and the health risk factors for those I come into close contact with, as well as my personal values.
Once a month or so, I make a trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on my "special" groceries. My list has changed over the years along with our tastes and Trader Joe's offerings, but the Harvest Grains Blend—a mixture of Israeli-style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and quinoa—remains a standby.
For years, Mike and I have had to drive to a neighboring suburb or northeast Minneapolis to get our craft beer fix. That changed a couple of weeks ago when Elm Creek Brewing Co. opened in our Champlin neighborhood. We decided to check them out on June 26, 2020, a week after they opened. Here's what we learned about the beer and the atmosphere, as well as what a taproom experience is like in the COVID era.
One of the best gifts that I've ever received is a popover pan. I've always loved popovers, but over the past several years they've become a dinnertime staple. Since we're a family of two we each get three popovers (And sometimes, Mike even gives me one of his—undeniable proof that he is the perfect husband.)
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit my life in mid-March, I really wanted to be the kind of person who copes by baking elaborate desserts and writing meaningful articles for big-name publications. Instead...
Since Minnesota summers are so short, you need to start celebrating them early—and that's where my recipe for Icelandic Hjónabandssæla, or happy marriage cake, comes in. The rhubarb filling makes it a perfect early summer dessert for cool climates, when sturdy rhubarb is the only produce you can rely on.
If I ever needed to drown my sorrows in a craft cocktail or two, it would be right about now. Unfortunately, Minnesota bars and cocktail rooms are currently closed due to the pandemic, and my home bartending skills are mediocre at best. But never, ever underestimate the ingenuity of humans where intoxicating substances are concerned.
The Twin Cities restaurant community has given me so much over the past several years, professionally and personally. At this unprecedentedly difficult time, I want to use my small platform to support this creative, generous, and hardworking group of people as much as I can.
I don't know what came first: my penchant for baking muffins or Mike's penchant for eating them. After a years-long run of cereal and several months of toasted English muffins, he has settled into a...
Lately, my Instagram feed is populated with photos that I refer to as #quarantinegoals. Instant ramen doctored with about 20 different ingredients, none of which I have in my pantry. Perfectly shaped...
When everything is so tenuous and uncertain, it doesn't make sense to formulate plans that might get cancelled and ruminate about the future. But only living in the moment—a moment that's dark and terrifying, a moment when I'm struggling so much—isn't an appealing thought either. I need to look forward to the future, to the really important things and to the frivolous things and to everything in between.
My life has taken a lot of weird twists and turns (I'm a freelance food and travel journalist with a math degree). One of the most important ones is something that I don't write about all that much here on the blog: running.
I've spent my fair share of nights in hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnbs. Almost all of them have been clean, comfortable places to stay. Some of them have been excellent. And a handful have been so unique, so picturesque, or served such an amazing breakfast (this is a food blog, after all) that they were more than a place to sleep—they've lingered in my mind to become some of my favorite travel memories.
Lately, my baked good of choice is muffins. I like muffins because they're reassuring and reliable. They freeze well. And I pretty much always have the ingredients on hand, so I can make a batch whenever I need the comfort of measuring out ingredients and want to show my love in flour and sugar.
Mike and I have done a lot of traveling together, and it's impossible to pick a favorite destination. But our favorite place to return to? That's Maui. We love the beauty, the culture, the beaches, the sunsets.