First things first: the Quad Cities are actually made up of five cities. On the Iowa side of the Mississippi, there's Davenport and Bettendorf; across the river in Illinois, there's Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline. Each city has its own unique character, but they share a focus on the Mississippi River thanks to numerous bridges, riverside parks and trails, and the Channel Cat water taxi route.
One of my long-standing blog traditions is my annual summer recap post. In past years, that's taken the form of a list. But 2018 has been a different sort of summer, and this is a different sort of recap.
The biggest contradiction of my life is that I'm a city girl who needs the woods. I love the dining options, entertainment, and energy of a big city, but I also need solitary time in green space to feel balanced. Cedar Falls, Iowa is basically my ideal destination. The compact downtown features dozens of shops and restaurants, but there are also miles and miles of wooded trails and a state park within walking distance.
Mason City, Iowa feels like a small Midwestern city straight out of central casting. In a way, it is—The Music Man composer Meredith Willson grew up in Mason City and modeled River City after the town. Frank Lloyd Wright, who focused his early career on developing a uniquely American style of architecture...
Mike and I fell in love with afternoon tea during our trip to London. Since then, we'll occasionally treat ourselves to a fancy tea like our Valentine's Day splurge at The Mad Hatter, but usually we have our tea at home on Sunday afternoons. Mike boils a pot of water in our electric kettle and we each pick out a tea bag from our vast selection.
Usually I see St. Cloud from the window of my car: I have a friend who lives in central Minnesota, and I drive through St. Cloud whenever I'm heading there for a visit. Sometimes we meet for lunch in St. Cloud, since it's roughly halfway. Obviously, there's a lot more to St. Cloud than what I've been able to experience via drive throughs and lunch dates...
Your weekly CSA box was loaded with tasty-looking produce: tomatoes and zucchini, cauliflower and kale, cucumbers and corn. The plan was to eat your produce while it was at peak freshness. But then life happened: you had to work late, the kids had a soccer tournament, your sister invited you over for pizza. Now your crisper is filled with vegetables that are a little...
Over the years, I've made plenty of trips to the St. Croix Valley for picnics and hiking in Interstate State Park, a paddle boat river cruise on the St. Croix River, and a knitting retreat that included a wine tasting at Chateau St. Croix Winery. Taylors Falls, Minnesota and St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin are less than an hour from my home in the northern Twin Cities suburbs, so it's the perfect distance for a day trip.
I love local ice cream shops. I try to seek them out whenever I travel—Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, Chaeban Ice Cream in Winnipeg, The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor in La Crosse, Lappert's Ice Cream in Hawaii. At home, I tend to stick with a handful of favorites. After all, ice cream season in Minnesota is short, and if I'm treating myself, I want to make sure it will...
Janesville's tagline is "Wisconsin's Great Outside." It makes sense: the area has hundreds of acres of parks, miles of trails, and an award-winning botanical garden. However, on a recent visit to Janesville I was also delighted to discover a burgeoning local food and drinks scene, a historic house museum with a link to presidential history, and a cozy bed and...
After starting in the riverside city of La Crosse and spending a couple of days in America's Little Switzerland, I continued east across Wisconsin to Kenosha, a city of about 100,000 on the shore of Lake Michigan. With sand dunes, a boardwalk, and historic lighthouses, the city has an unmistakable beach town feel.
It's one of the indisputable facts of summer: hot days call for cool treats. While I love indulging at my favorite ice cream shops, I try to eat healthier treats at home. Last year, I developed a recipe for a frozen yogurt-style dessert made with bananas; this year, I teamed up with Barlean's and Zoku to make frozen pops!
Whether I'm at home in the Twin Cities or on vacation in New York City, ice cream is one of my favorite local foods. I love ice cream because there is so much room for creativity and the opportunity to incorporate local tastes, cultures, and ingredients. On a recent visit to Winnipeg, I was struck by the city's vibrant culinary scene, and Chaeban Ice Cream was one of the highlights.
On our recent trip to New York City we stayed in the Prospect Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. Every day, we walked down Vanderbilt Avenue to the 7th Avenue subway station, a route that took us past the original location of Ample Hills Creamery.
I love river towns—I've always found spending time near water soothing, and being based in the Twin Cities means that there are plenty of picturesque options within a few hours' drive. Stillwater is my go-to, and I've also had great trips to Red Wing, Mankato, and Winona. However, my list of riverside day trips and weekend getaways included a major oversight: La Crosse, Wisconsin.
New York City: 8.3 million people, 305 square miles, over 26,000 restaurants. It would take a lifetime to do justice to New York's culinary scene—we had eight days. So I've decided to take the same approach I did with my post about London. Instead of creating a very incomplete dining guide, I'm compiled my personal New York culinary highlights.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about how Winnipeg was a budget-friendly way to satiate my international wanderlust. Since then, Winnipeg's dining scene has exploded, The Forks Market has been revitalized, and I've been reading all about the spa experience at Thermëa. So when Travel Manitoba and Tourism Winnipeg offered to host me for a few days, I was eager to see if Winnipeg was worth a return visit.
When I'm shopping for snacks, I spend a lot of time reading the nutrition facts. I'm looking for foods that are low in sugar and made with natural ingredients—plus, my snacks need to be portable and tasty. Recently, I found a new go-to snack in a spot I wasn't expecting: the kid's section of the yogurt aisle.
Eggs are so much more than a baking ingredient or breakfast food (to be honest, I rarely have eggs for breakfast—I'm too busy eating oatmeal). Nutritious, easy to keep on hand, and versatile, I turn to eggs when I need an appetizer everyone will love, an easy Mexican-inspired weeknight dinner, or a recipe to use up the zucchini and tomatoes in my CSA share.