Sunday, October 25, 2020

Basics of life

 We've been cooking, reading, and walking the dogs here. The weather has moved into cold Fall making it not as much fun to take lazy, long walks with the two beautiful pups that we love and I've spent more recent time reading than watching.

Groovy Girl was home for the weekend though and we did start a new Netflix series, The Queen's Gambit, which is quite good. It's about a young girl who becomes a chess prodigy during the 1950s. The costumes and the acting are so good and the story is very intriguing. Cuddling on the sofa with her is one of my favorite activities not matter the season. 

I did read an entire chapter book this weekend which is always exciting. I started The only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert during a free read time Friday at school.  The 6th grade class I was in were very book involved (yeah!) and I just pulled this one off the cart because no one picked it up.  I read three quick chapters and pretty much wished I could spend the rest of the day with it. I continued to read it on Friday night and finished it Saturday evening right before I started watching game 4 of the World Series.  What a good book! I started another small chapter book, Planet Omar: accidental trouble magnet by Zanib Mian which is perfect for young 3rd, 4th grade readers and features a Muslim family navigating a new town and school. 

And speaking of the World Series-what an amazing end to that game and Brett Phillips will always be remembered for his hit and the fun he had air-planing around the field. The game was good but became fantastic if you stuck around to the end. It reminds everyone why baseball is so joy-filled. 

In between watching and reading I've made some excellent food! Yes, excellent! Last week I made this Roasted Tomato Soup from How to feed a loon blog and I loved the flavor of late summer really ripe tomatoes and the fresh basil together. This fed me all week at school and we just finished up the last of it for a late dinner last night. My mother-in-law sent me this naan recipe and I made it yesterday afternoon on a whim. Didn't really have a plan for Indian food so we enjoyed the toasted naan with our leftover soup. It will be easy to make these again because the recipe pulled together and the dough had a good rise in about an hour. 

This morning for breakfast I whipped up this Cozy Turmeric Porridge from my favorite Minimalist Baker. A small bowl was so warming to my soul on this chilly morning and I have enough leftovers for the week. I did not have pomegranate seeds on hand but topped our bowls with a little Agave syrup, coconut milk, and cinnamon sprinkles. 

Before Groovy Girl arrived home on Thursday night she said she was excited to come home to eat vegetables!  Wow! How many teenagers say that!?! She says food is less than exciting (bland) and no good veggies at school so I made sure we had tons of good colorful vegetables in our fridge.  She loves sweet potatoes and when she saw me unpacking them she asked if we could make sweet potato fries. I used this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and they were delicious although not as crispy as I would have liked. This week I'm going to make this Pumpkin black bean soup (also from Minimalist Baker) and this Winter Roasted Vegetable Soup also from my mother-in-law. I love soup, it's versatile and gives me a warm yet light lunch at school. 

We are getting closer to the election and while I'm very anxious I also have to be filled with hope.  Make sure wherever you are that you go vote. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Road Trippers

Café Mir is a special restaurant run by two brothers in a very small town called Fertile, IA. My mom introduced me to it probably about 3-4 years ago when she lived near Clear Lake. She asked my husband and I to meet there for dinner then because she read about it and one of the brothers bought some of her fresh herbs at the farmers market. Back then we drove the 1 1/2 hours to get there and took a walk around a bit before our reservation. The backyard of Cafe Mir sits on the Winnebago River and with a bridge that crosses over to a park making it a lovely place to walk before or after dinner.  The restaurant is in a small storefront with the front and back rooms set aside for dining and the kitchen and host area lay in the middle. It's quaint with an eclectic vibe; mismatched napkins and china that all look like they were pulled from various grandmother's cabinets. The food is exquisite in this charming spot, making it worth the drive. It's a little expensive but worth it especially for a special occasion. Because of all this I was determined to make it there again for dinner before winter is upon us. 

(Charles City, Winnebago River view)

My husband is happy to plan day trips especially when beer is involved and I'm happy to ride along as long as there are patios.  Saturday was a gorgeous day, lots of sunshine, too much wind but we didn't blow away. We loaded the dogs into the car (patios are so perfect) and headed north to St Charles City Brewing Company where we shared a flight of beers and hard seltzers. A Filipino food truck was parked behind the brewery so we felt obliged to sample a plate of noodles and an egg roll which were delicious and a perfect snack to tide us over until our 6:30 reservation. We soaked up some sun at their outdoor picnic tables and then took a walk along the river before piling back in the car for our next destination. 

Another 30 minutes or so we took a back road into Osage, IA to find The Limestone Brewing Company on Main Street. This place was a little more crowded but luckily most people were hanging inside which left the outdoor tables to us. There were a ton of fat tire bikes leaning up and down the street with most of the owners inside swigging beer, listening to live music, and eating pizza. Outside there was an eggroll food truck and two long picnic tables.  While the patio situation was not the greatest at least we had a place outside because only staff were masked inside and the place was packed because the beer was good and there had been some major fat tire trail ride earlier in the day. We shared a flight here as well, bought two crowlers, and headed back to the highway.

These two stops broke up the drive perfectly and we arrived at Café Mir 30 minutes before our reservation. Unfortunately the weather had taken a turn and it was pretty chilly walking the dogs around the park. It was toasty inside, the place was bustling, the tables were widely-spaced, staff wore masks, and I wore a mask it still seemed like the virus was a thing of the past for most others. I'm not of that mindset but I also have to live a little before we get totally locked down by the weather. I hope you did something thrilling with your weekend as well. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Time Travel

I feel like I'm time traveling through the month at light speed, forward motion on zoom.  We've been lucky to have Groovy Girl home the last two weekends. We've hiked in the Fall leaves, we've eaten amazing food and cuddled.  Her coming home from college at first was like "hmmm, should we fist bump and call it good?" but now we throw caution to the wind, trusting that we've all been safe during the week, so that we may cuddle on the sofa together to hang out. She and I are "cuddlers", we love to share a blanket, the sofa, anywhere where we can snuggle close and breathe each other in.  She is really good about wearing a mask in her daily life and only goes to one class - ballet - in person (and they wear masks while dancing) with the rest of her classes meeting virtually so from the comfort of her dorm room. 


Last weekend when she was here I dreamed that I wanted cauliflower tacos and when I googled the recipe I found lots of choices. I had to weed through the recipes because she is allergic to tomatoes.  I found a recipe on Bon Appetit that is so FANTASTIC! I made them again this Friday night. We loved that it was vegan, that it needed no other toppings to make it delicious. We tried to add a little goat cheese and did not like the combined flavors as the taco flavor is so bold that it needs no other accompaniments. We did have some of our garden kale cut in to strips to add on and a little fresh baby greens and those two seemed to be fine additions to offer a little extra fresh crunch but otherwise these tacos are spot on perfect and have found a place in our permanent collection. The two sauces are easy to put together and I had everything already in my cupboards. If you are looking for a meat-free dish that comes together quickly this one will not disappoint. Groovy Girl ate 4 the first night we had them. 

I finished The Guest List and Wrong guy, Right room; both very good. I lost interest in the Guest List halfway through-felt like we really dipped down with sorrowful tales and back and forth memories but the last few chapters really redeemed the tale. Wrong guy, Right room was delightful. I'm now reading Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt for school; it is on our list for Iowa Children's Choice Awards this year and it's good. I'm still working on Untamed by Glennon and I need to review This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger, one of my favorite authors, for book club this month. After watching the Smithsonian's National Book Festival authors this year all online I am trying to read Marlon James' book Black Leopard, Red Wolf.  It's unique and I'm not sure I'll make it through it but he was interesting to listen to him talk. 

Did you watch the vice presidential debate? I'm super ready for this campaign to be over and a new administration to take office. Please have a peaceful week!