Snake Bit

Our third camping trip out and our new Scamp has finally been named. I’d like to introduce you to Geraldine, named for my father who made her possible and the uncle who first suggested we look into them:
scamp camper

We headed fearlessly into the woods despite the forecast of rain:
woods

And explored the forest along the Snake River:
forest

The trees were filled with the voices of Song Sparrows:
song sparrow

We walked among the mosquitoes:
woods

And through wildflowers:
woods

The Snake River was spectacular and a new favorite spot on Minnesota:
snake river

Herby Frittata with Goat Cheese

Here’s a recipe that was easy to prepare but fussy to finish, at least for me. Cooking Light’s Herby Frittata with Vegetables and Goat Cheese is full of great flavor thanks to the fresh dill, chives and goat cheese. It’s simple until it comes to the cooking time. Their recipe claims that the eggs will set up and be ready to eat in 5 minutes. When I followed their instructions, I had a soupy mess that definitely wasn’t pretty. Additional stovetop cooking and a second stop under the broiler left my end product a little dried out.

Final ruling? This is yummy and you should try it. Just make sure your eggs are completely set up on the stove before putting them under the broiler.

Image

Tiny Diner, Big Flavor

When I looked at the Tiny Diner menu and saw this, I knew it was the place for me:
rocky

Not only was Rocky on the menu, but their entire concept was right up my alley. The Tiny Diner is working a plot on Minnesota’s first organic farm (Garden Farme) and their very own urban Tiny Diner Farm just a short distance away. In addition to that, they are creating an urban garden in South Minneapolis right next to the restaurant. Not only will they use their crops in the restaurant, but there will be educational programs for the neighborhood. They have crafted a patio roof/solar array, its solar panels flow into gutter that feed into a rain chain, through a creek bed and then waters the vegetable garden. In addition to that, there is a cistern that will capture water from the rooftop, and systems to distribute it through their mini-orchard. To learn more about their plans and partnerships, read about The Tiny Diner and Farm: A Small Place with Big Ideas.

Every month their menu pays tribute to diner towns across the country, this month it was Philadelphia – home to my favorite Underdog, Rocky Balboa. The Husband went with the theme and tried their Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich:

Philly Cheese Steak

The Husband’s Philly Cheesesteak: Shaved steak, red onion, Shisito peppers, Real Wiz

He paired that with a side of onion rings:

Onion Rings

Double-Dipped Onion Rings with BBQ sauce

I’ve been on a quinoa kick again, so I went with the Macro Bowl and I’m glad I did, it was beyond yummy.

Macro Bowl

My Macro Bowl: Seared tofu, quinoa, veggies and seaweed (vegetarian)

We made sure there was room for dessert:

Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

This restaurant is a new favorite of ours and we’re already talking about going back for breakfast. I hope we do it when the Whoopie Pie is still on the menu.

Sunday in the Park with … Danny

Minnehaha Falls is one of the most popular parks in Minneapolis. It’s so busy in the summer that I usually avoid it, but I had to see my frozen waterfall thawed. It had to be marvelous right now if someone would actually take a kayak over it.

It was a beautiful morning, Danny and I took our time. We enjoyed the trees:
trees

These shrubs that look like they are covered with stars:
shrubs

The wildflowers blooming:
wildflowers

This Catbird gave us a private concert, he knew a lot of songs:
catbird

I wondered if this Song Sparrow felt like he had the world to himself:
song sparrow

My favorite park statue had me thinking about The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

hiawatha

Hand in hand they went together, Through the woodland and the meadow….

And then I wondered what would compel a person to take a kayak over this?
minnehaha falls

To say that The Falls are raging right now would be an understatement:
minnehaha falls

It’s no wonder this park is one of our most popular with sights like these:
minnehaha falls

Summer Vegetable Pasta

This simple recipe is all about classic flavors. Garlic, onion and tomatoes are tossed to coat the bow-tie pasta (known as Farfalle) for a light meal:
pasta

Another recipe from EatingWell, this Summer Vegetable Pasta with Goat Cheese Medallions was ready in less than an hour. I halved the recipe, used frozen Roma tomatoes, and mixed everything in the same pan that had cooked the noodles – making this a one pot meal.

I loved the flavor the goat cheese added to the dish but have to admit, I didn’t love the texture of the panko coating. In the future, I will either make a finer coating for the medallion or skip it all together and just serve it with goat cheese.

A Sanctuary in the City, Revisited

In April I wrote a post about the history of Minnehaha Creek, my personal Sanctuary in the City. As the rain continues to come day after day and that creek rises higher than I’ve ever seen it, it seemed appropriate to revisit that history again.

The first it appears in documented Minnesota history is in May 1822 when two teenage boys and a few soldiers from Fort Snelling followed it from the fort to Lake Minnetonka. Colonel Snelling’s son was one of the intrepid explorers but according to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, “couldn’t take the mosquitoes and headed back.” Readers familiar with this state will be somberly nodding their heads in agreement with this statement. For those of you not familiar with Minnesota, the mosquito is often referred to as our state bird and they are not pleasant.

The remaining teenager, a drummer boy from Maryland named Joseph Renshaw Brown, passed Indian settlements along the 22 mile creek to Gray’s Bay and Big Island at Lake Minnetonka where they found a Chippewa village. Minnehaha Creek was originally known as Joe Brown’s River, later called “Brown’s Creek” in 1853 by a surveyor. Early settlers used the creek for transportation, food and water and in the late 1800s, it became an international tourist destination in response to the Longfellow poem “Song of Hiawatha.”

Minnehaha Creek two months ago:
minnehaha creek

Minnehaha Creek today:
minnehaha creek

Just a Taste

Life is about the little things, like enjoying a spontaneous lunch with a girlfriend on a workday. That’s how I ended up at The Buttered Tin in downtown St. Paul.

Located in Lowertown, I was enchanted by the cafe and bakery. My only regret was that I only ate one thing:

roasted beet salad

Roasted Beet Salad Baby Arugula, shallots, basil, orange supremes, avocado, raspberries, feta cheese & toasted almonds with a curry vinaigrette (vegetarian)

It was delicious. I think there will be more spontaneous lunches in my future, hopefully with cupcakes….

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

When the rain finally stopped, we headed out to survey the damage. Turns out, we should have brought a boat:
dog on bridge

Our path was flooded for as far as the eye could see:
flooded creek

We surveyed the situation from higher ground (aka The Bike Path):
minnehaha creek

The creek grew wider the farther we walked:
flooded creek

And I wondered where she hid her babies during the storm:
duck and ducklings

Easy Spring Pizza

Nothing says spring to me quite like asparagus. This recipe is a simple, springy pizza that can be made for the family, for one (like mine featured below) or turned into little appetizers for a party – I’m thinking smaller pieces of asparagus on a crescent roll base.
asparagus pizza

Aptly called “Spring Pizza,” this Eatingwell recipe is a snap. I made mine for one on a whole wheat pita by doing the following:

Combine:
1 TBS olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives

Spread the above ingredients on 1 whole wheat pita and cover pita with asparagus spears.

Spray asparagus with olive oil (if you don’t have a spray bottle, just add it to the above mixture to coat), salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used parmesan because that’s what I had).

Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes.

The Secret Garden

“I said to myself, ‘This is really ugly. Somebody ought to build a garden here.’ So I said, ‘I’ll do it’ …and I did.” – Amir Dialameh

Amir Dialameh was hiking the trails in Griffith Park in 1971 after a major brush fire ravaged the area when he decided to start a garden.
desert garden

He obtained permission and then spent years working alone, clearing approximately 200 carbonized tree stumps with a pick and shovel carried from home.
desert garden

He could be found working in the garden nearly every day for up to eight hours at a time terracing the slopes, building stairs and adding benches.
desert garden

Amir had challenges along the way. People stole plants, demolished saplings, he was once beaten and robbed, and two major brush fires damaged the garden. But those incidents didn’t keep him away and he patiently restored the losses.desert garden

Volunteers began helping maintain Amir’s Garden in the late 70s and continue to do so after Amir’s unexpected death in 2003. Amir once said, “There are so many problems, so many pressures. All people do is complain. They need to get away from that.” Amir’s Garden is just the place people could do that; under his care, it became a five-acre oasis in the city.

desert tree

“…what you need first and foremost here is shade,” Dialameh explained in 1989. “That’s why I planted trees like the jacaranda. In ten years, this place will be covered with their branches.”