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So after a lot of browsing, research, hours that I can’t get back and testing I have taken the big dive and will be moving my blog over to a new platform where I feel that I’ll fit in more appropriately from a creativity and usability standpoint.  I’m officially now a Blogger instead of a WordPresser.

Another new development is that I have decided to rename the blog to “Ann Marie’s Cup of Tea” because:

  1. I’m looking to expand outside of the “Eat Cook Read” topics that I’ve limited myself to with that title
  2. I’ve noticed that the posts people have been enjoying aren’t necessarily about those topics
  3. Lastly, as you can imagine, having a food blog has not been nice to the waistline so I’m also trying to put some health and wellness topics on here as well which would have been counter-intuitive to “Eat Cook Read”!

So you can now find me at www.annmariescupoftea.blogspot.com!  Sign up for the updates and new posts on the right side of the new blog with your email address to follow along on my adventures and misadventures.

Also be sure to let me know what you think or if you have any improvement ideas that would make the blog better!  I’ve already gotten a few ideas that I’ve used from close friends and family so I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts too!

Join me at my new blog!

Our house is a home to not only us, but, also to a few little furry friends.  Two of which we were only introduced to this weekend.

But let’s start with the “old friend”.  Thomas the woodpecker is not so much a friend as a royal pain in our a*s.

Thomas, he's a real jerk

He stopped by our house last year and decided to mark his territory by boring holes in our siding and not just in one place…in multiple locations.  And he’s such a great friend that he decided to come back this year!  We were so excited to see him again!

And turns out the guy is a real genius.  He actually pecks at the siding surrounding the chimney so you can hear him going to town on a Saturday morning when his beak hits the metal sheeting lining the chimney.  Thank you Thomas for ruining our plans to sleep in on the weekends!

While we were hoping that he would be the only friend that we have to worry about getting rid of, turns out we were wrong.

This weekend we met a new friend, Marvin, when parking our car in the garage last night.  Good thing that I’m not afraid of bats or the fact that there has only been one documented survivor of rabies without a vaccine (enter sarcasm here).

This is Marvin. I really hate bats so this is the only picture I could put up without nearly vomiting

Here’s to hoping that Marvin has found a safe place for the winter or found a way out of our garage, the latter of two being preferable.

Our last and newest edition to our deranged family is someone who I accidentally evicted this afternoon, Squeeker.  While redneck rota-tilling my raised  box garden with a shovel to loosen up the dirt for next Spring, I must have dug under Squeeker’s home in a corner and then pitched him and some dirt a few feet.  I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so loud.

Squeeker, now looking for food stamps and a warm place to stay

Just imagine seeing a mouse fly a few feet in the air, land near your feet and then run for his life.  It was freakin scary.

In all seriousness I can handle the mouse living in the garden but the bat and the woodpecker need to find a new home because they are no longer welcome here!  This is not a homeless shelter for rodents!

Key’s Cafe Locationshttp://www.keyscafe.com/locations.php

How Did I Find This Place?

I found Keys many years ago when I lived in the ghettos of Fridley and lived in an apartment across from one of their locations.  Since then Keys Cafe has continued to be one of my favorite places to eat on a regular basis and I don’t see myself getting sick of it, EVER.  I have one by my office and there is one near my church and even if they weren’t, I would hunt them down.

About The Restaurant

Keys opened their doors in 1973 in St. Paul on Raymond Avenue and as their menu and mission says, they bring you food that “you grew up with”.  Fitting with the theme, you’ll see appropriately placed Norman Rockwell paintings of diners and 1950’s scenes decorating their walls.

Since they opened the doors they have expanded to nine locations across the Twin Cities and won numerous awards regionally and nationally for their food.

Atmosphere

Varies quite a bit depending on location.  My only warning is that if you go to the Raymond Ave location, don’t plan on meeting more than one person over lunch because they just aren’t set up for large groups and you will be waiting or splitting the group most likely.

Menu

Check the website by location

The menus also vary by location and sometimes even if you order the same omelet from one location to another it can be very different.  I like the personality and character of all the individual restaurants but I understand that some people might get their undies in a bundle about it.

I recommend that you just get over it and appreciate the fact that no matter what….it’s going to be good even if it’s a little different from other locations.

Meals

Some of my favorite dishes and sides include:

  • Loon Omelet: Two eggs with Minnesota wild rice, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and a mushroom cream sauce
  • Honey Smoked Salmon Omelet: Two eggs with honey smoked salmon, scallions and cream cheese. Served with fruit
  • Their homemade soups, especially the Chicken Wild Rice and White Chicken Chili
  • Monte Cristo topped with powdered sugar: Batter-dipped bread grilled with swiss cheese, deli turkey, and ham. Served with homemade jam
  • Hot Oven Roasted Turkey: with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries
  • Their homemade toast (pay the extra $0.60, trust me) and their homemade jelly that comes with it
Now that I’ve named the favorites, I’ll get into some of the pics that I currently have on hand (this collection will continue to grow…no doubt about that).

Loon Omelet: Two eggs with Minnesota wild rice, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and a mushroom cream sauce. PS: The "loon sauce" is like crack...extremely addictive

Steph (who might kill me when she sees this) staring down her Biscuits & Gravy: Two buttermilk biscuits smothered with homemade pork sausage gravy. Served with two eggs and hash browns.

Honey Smoked Salmon Omelet Two eggs with honey smoked salmon, scallions and cream cheese. Served with fruit. I definitely made this at home after trying this, so good and SO easy to make.

I took this to show the quality of their homemade bread and jam. Ultra tasty, especially with soup

Yesterday in my hometown it snowed over 7 inches and they lost power to over 20,000 people.  It has begun whether you like it or not people.  Winter.

But until it reaches my front door, let’s reflect on some of the wonderful summer food that I haven’t yet had a chance to write about and would like to reflect upon via photography.  Thank you to all of the contributors that helped make these dishes happen this summer!  Jen, Ashley, Kristin and Steph!

I found all of the recipes and had links to them under the pictures but it keeps deleting them when I go to publish the post so if you would like any recipes for the dishes below, let me know and I’ll email them over!

Jen's Veggie Kabobs

Jen's Thai Chicken Kabobs with Peanut Sauce

Jen's Fruit Pizza

Ramthun Rumble Spread

Kristin's Grape Salad. I.HEART.THIS.

Ashley's Chocolate Chip Cookie Fruit Pizza, believe it was care of her Pampered Chef recipe book. If you're looking for a Pampered Chef lady in the Madison area, let me know!

Kristin's cute dip set up. Apparently it was even cuter before her helpful hubby dropped the bottom plate but I wouldn't have known unless she said something!

Steph's Mango Peach Sangria

Steph's Chilled Peach Soup with Goat Cheese

Steph's Shrimp Rolls, Grilled Corn with Mango Habenero Butter, and Cucumber and Red Onion and Vinegar Relish. Unreal.

Six-Layer Coconut Cake with Passion Fruit Filling

My Grilled Turkey Burger with Grilled Mix Peppers, and our beautiful yard that will be neglected until May : (

First of all, I would like to tribute this post to Andy Rooney.  There should be more people in our world asking questions, whether it is a dumb question that bothers a few of us or a huge issue that affects all of us.  I have a lot of respect and have gotten many laughs out of the things that grumpy old bastard said and this next post goes out to him.

Almost all of us have been there.

You’re in the line staring down your Subway Artist in the face, trying to predict what kind of a mayo portion you’re going to get. In your mind you’re thinking “should I say “just a little mayo” before he goes to town on my sandwich?” or you’re justifying in your head that “the guy is skinny so I’m sure he won’t put much mayo on” or it’s the last and worst assumption that me and Adam’s old roommates make.  “Maybe it’s just the white trash Subway chick by our house that does that because she’s talking about her ex-boyfriend to her coworkers and is taking it out on the mayo bottle…”.

And then it happens.  Your Subway Artist goes and makes a shi**ty attempt at recreating a really deranged Picasso on what you were hoping would be your “healthy” dinner for the week and loads on literally 1/3 cup of mayo on your sandwich.

Who the h*ll is teaching these artists to portion mayo on subs??  And more disturbingly, who is getting their sandwiches with that much mayonnaise for them to think that we would all want that!!??

It’s gotten to the point where I no longer get mayo on my subs because I am a women scorned.  I’ve been burned too many times by those creative artists and their liberal mayo portions.  I just can’t stand the heartache of seeing one more sandwich bite the dust to cheap Kraft mayonnaise so I simply ask for the mayo packets and then put mayo on the sub post artist construction.

If anyone at Subway ever reads this, I would love to know if there are ever any sting operations to audit these places for their mayo to bread ratio?  If so, what are the findings?

Moreover, we need to change as a culture and fast food community.  If we can’t figure out a way to cut down our mayo consumption to a (6 inch sandwich: 1 TBSP mayo) ratio then maybe we shouldn’t even be eating at Subway and fooling ourselves that we’re doing something healthy.

Some Wise Guy Reading This: “But Jared did it Ann Marie, you don’t know what you’re talking about”.
Ann Marie: “Jared ate fast food and sat on his butt all day and then changed to Subway, didn’t get any mayo or cheese most likely, and in combination got off his keister and started working out.  Eating just Subway sandwiches loaded with mayo probably isn’t a good start”.

Lastly, I end with a challenge and making us as a society more accountable.  I challenge any of you that let them destroy your sandwich to have them put the mayo in a cup on the side and measure how many TBSP it takes to get to the level that they add and look up the calories and fat content.  I’m sure that it would shock you if you did it yourself versus watching them put it on as a bystander.

So recently I was at Smashburger, a high-end burger chain that a coworker of mine is on the breaking point of addicted to.  Since I have never had a burger from there (and don’t plan on getting addicted to them like others I have known to fall prey) I have been trying more exploratory options and recently ran across a great one that I had to feature.

Smashburger’s Classic Cobb – A mix of fresh greens, fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheddar and blue cheese topped with buttermilk ranch dressing.  For around $5, where else can you get a salad like that?  It has everything that you would ever want, and even some protein by way of the grill fried egg to keep you full through the day.

Plus, if you would like it healthier you can always omit the bacon and get a different dressing or use it sparingly and on the side (like I often do with dressings).

What an unexpected place to find a good salad at a great price….a burger place!

How Did I Find This Book?

A few weeks ago me and the future hubster went to a movie, “Ides of March”.  SIDERANT:  Which by the way I suggest that you not waste your time seeing unless you’re a Ryan Gosling fan.  The movie ended with no conclusion and my synopsis was “well, at least Ryan Gosling is hot or I would be pissed about spending 1.5 hours of my life and $10 to see this”.

The highlight of the movie was actually a preview called “War Horse”.  I saw that it was based on a book so of course I had to pick it up when I got home on the Kindle.

War Horse Movie Poster

About The Author and Book

There is more to tell than just about the book since it’s actually been made from a novel, into a musical and now into a Steven Spielberg directed movie.  SIDERANT: The last five years have been VERY nice to Michael Morpurgo and his family financially if I had to take a guess.

The book was originally written by Michael Morpurgo in 1982 and was inspired from a variety of places.

  1. From a WWI veteran that hung out at a local bar and a fellow villager that had been assigned in cavalry
  2.  His experience working with a charity group called “Farms for Children” where inner city kids work on a farm for a week.  During this time he met a boy who has an unspoken connection with a horse that was inspiring to him
  3. Lastly, a disturbing painting that he had seen done by F.W. Reed in 1917 that showed horses in WWI charging into no-man’s land through barbed wire.  He said that the sight haunted him but that he wanted to show the war through the eyes of the horse
Then the book was picked up by Nick Stafford and written into a play that was also called “War Horse” that was performed at the National Theater in London.  It opened in 2007 and was critically acclaimed because of it’s extremely life-life horse puppets that were manned by more than three people per horse.  After winning numerous awards the show was then transferred to 2010 to Broadway…and already has stacked up five Tony Awards including “Best Play”.

War Horse Play: Credit of Paul Kolnik of Lincoln Center Theater Production

In 2010 as well, Steven Spielberg decided to adapt the book and play into a full length movie.  And as you know, Steven Spielberg rarely disappoints so I had to read the book after seeing a few of the scenes in the trailer and after reading the novel, I have high hopes that the movie will actually be better than the book which is rare but in this case could be executed depending on how he interprets the relationships and emotions of the horses.

War Horse Play: Joey the Plow Horse

“War Horse” is a children’s book that teaches them about the trials of WWI through the eyes of a horse…which is probably the only way to teach children about war while they are in 5th or 6th grade since it’s just an all too horrible thing to fathom or grasp through a “Saving Private Ryan” type of format or human interpretation.

Overview of Book

A beautiful Bay foal with a white cross on his nose named Joey is purchased from an auction and dragged back home to become an English plow horse.  But no one could have prepared him or his loving master, Albert, for what was about to come next or how close WWI was about to hit home.
From a plow horse to a cavalry war horse within one afternoon, Joey is forced to endure multiple years of running into machine gun fire, being handed off between multiple owners crossing enemy lines numerous times and lose many people and horses that he grows close to.  But will he ever be back where he really belongs and somehow find his way back to Albert on the farm?

Review

It’s a kid’s book so you have to be prepared for the fact that you will read it in two sittings but all in all I found the book very moving, touching and interesting since it was from a horse’s point of view instead of a human’s.  SIDERANT: But I might be biased since I’m an ex-horse owner as well as a horse freak.  I’m the girl that always wants to go and pet the riot squad horses that are in downtown Minneapolis or Madison…even though I know better and that they are trained to be bad a**es that plow down hippies and gang bangers, not pets.

Albert and Joey

I’m very excited to see the movie as I’m pretty sure that they will be able to add details in that weren’t entirely spelled out (romance that Albert has and some of the specifics in the closing that seemed rushed).
Lastly If you get to read the book or see the movie you’ll have to let me know what you thought in the comment section below!
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