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Archive for December, 2010

Just wiped the tears from my face and my eyes are still a little crunchy on the side from crying.

The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein is a novel narrated by a dog (that believes he may be part terrier) and is about the journey that he has with his master, Dennis, through life. 

The narrating dog, Enzo, goes for a ride in Denny’s race car with him, is there for his master when Denny struggles to balance his new wife and his passion for racing, and eventually finds a new playmate in their daughter Zoe.  It’s a heartbreaking, heartwarming and very inventive view of the life of a family from a different kind of perspective.

And while you might think that a book narrated by a dog would be silly, this dog is a highly educated and witty from watching cable television eight hours a day and adds humor to what many humans would think of as everyday kind of stuff.

How do you know if you’ll like the book?  If you liked the movie “Fluke”, have a dog, want a dog, ever had a dog, or have a heart…this one is for you.  PS: Am I the only one who thinks the author (Garth Stein)  is pretty darn good-looking or what?  Also, if you would like a more detailed review, I highly recommend going here.

Rating: *****/5 stars

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Recently me and a coworker (we’ll call her Stephanie for all intensive purposes) decided to start a little tradition.  What we decided to do is pick a day about once a month to try a new or fabulously known global cuisine in the Twin Cities.  These trips are called “Exploring Global Cuisine”.

Earlier this month we traveled to Thailand.  Alright, well, almost.  West 7th in St. Paul is close, right?  Supatra Thai Cuisine is a restaurant that was suggested by Stephanie after I mentioned my investigation into Thai food.  It’s right by her house and is a place that her and her husband frequent.

IT was a GREAT recommendation on a place to wet my feet into Thai food.  The restaurant wasn’t divey at all,  it was very intimate and quaint,  has wonderful menu descriptions, and their presentations is second to none.

For my meal I strayed from the lunch specials and chose the classic Pad Thai.  You could tell that it was all fresh ingredients and had just the right amount of peanutty goodness.

Fresh lime, lemongrass, and noodles. Life doesn't get any better!

The owner of it actually has a cook book and teaches Thai cooking classes!  I wish that there were more of them, but, I’ll have to try to get into the one in March if possible.

My summary on Supatra’s is that if you’ve never had Thai food and want to have a good first time experience or if you like ethnic food and you live in the Twin Cities, it’s a “must try”!

I will definitely be coming back!

UPDATE!  11/7/2011 – We did go back and it was just as good as I remember!

Supatra's super fresh spring roll...yum-o

I need to ask Steph what this was...more details tomorrow.

Will need to check on this one too...my bad.

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Giada.  Obviously people like her since she just got a new show, new cookbook, and whole product line at Target but am I the only one annoyed by the following things?

  1. Does the way that she says “mozzarella”, “prosciutto” or “caprese” drive anyone else up the wall?  I understand that she has an Italian family, but, she moved to the states when she was 8 years old.  I’m watching a show that she’s on right now and I want to punch her as she’s talking about a caprese kabab and describing it with an accent like she is a resident of Northern Italy.  (You may have studied in Paris chikee but that doesn’t mean you can make me feel poor or worthless because you say “parmesan riggiono” with an accent.)
  2. Perfection.  It annoys me that she’s 40 and has perfect boobs and loves to flaunt it.  Just google her once and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  She can’t even help it and I can’t figure out if she’s had a boob job or not, or if she’s still got that baby perk going on.  Probably not since everything else about her is perfect. 
  3. She eats Italian food all day long and weighs under 100 pounds.  Seriously?  She claims that “yoga or walking” three to four times a week and portion control is the key.  If that’s not annoying than I don’t know what is….

Feel free to chime in on the comments as I would LOVE to hear them!  I feel like I’m the only one in the world that is so torn up about this!?$%&

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I know that I am about 20 years late on the train for the “prey” series but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy them, right? 

At the recommendation of a coworker I picked up “Rules of Prey” and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It certainly didn’t hurt that the backdrop for the entire serial-killer-thriller was in the Twin Cities. 

As a transplant from Iowa to the Cities for years, John Sanford did wonderful job of weaving highways, major streets, landmarks, and even newspapers (including the one that he used to be a journalist for) throughout the story.

The entire set of novels is based around Lucas Davenport; a sports car driving, game inventing, bad-a*s detective.  While he might be a little cheesy, Sanford openly admits that he’s meant to be a 1/2 movie star, 1/2 cop.  I mean the guys’ a writer now….not a journalist for Pioneer Press so he can do what he wants!

The “prey” series spans across 21 books so if you enjoy the first one at least you won’t be stuck waiting for the hard cover to come out.  It’s a quick quality series that leaves you on the edge of your seat and once I put a dent in a few other books on my list, I will most likely be returning to the series.  There is also a new “prey” book coming out in 2011 so I’ll have to watch out for the book signing circuits around here! 

Review: ****/5 stars

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I don’t even know where to begin but I will.

The men in my family have an obsession with the ever mysterious chaga mushroom and everywhere I turned this weekend, there it was…not just on birch trees rotting away.

It started with getting home on the Thursday before Christmas and seeing some ice tea in the fridge.  After drinking it, I couldn’t figure out what it was.  Clearly I hadn’t been introduced to Chaga as of yet…

“Oh, that’s ground up mushroom juice.  Don’t drink that.”.  Well, okay then. 

Then there is the conversation on X-mas Eve afternoon.

Dad: “What does Mom want for Christmas?”
Me: “I think that she really wants you to fix the faucet from what it sounds like”.

In the two hours of daylight that followed…him and my uncle ended up welding a custom-made chaga crushing contraption. 

Chaga Juice: 1
Mom’s Sink: 0

It’s obvious to any fungus expert that the chaga still needed to be finely ground with a KitchenAid fitting.  That is where my sister Diane comes in.  She’s getting sprayed with ground fungus in the face and not having one more minute of it.

Chaga Juice: 2
Diane: 0

If this racoon poop ends up curing or preventing cancer or treating HIV (as my dad and the internet claims) I would feel very bad about being a sceptic.  I guess that as long as it’s helping his arthritis I’ll just zip it.

PS: He fixed the sink today and put in a new faucet…

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Alright now, enough is enough.  Another 5-8 inches were flaked onto the Twin Cities and it’s not the cold snow, it’s the gross quicksand snow that sucks you into the ditch if you even dare look at it the wrong way.

This was me on my commute tonight.

Because of the dangerous quick snow, my Soup and Slippers party was delayed until tomorrow.  Boo.  But I did still have to make my dish for my work potluck tomorrow.  Since it was going to be leftovers from the party, I had to improvise…kind of.

What I ended up doing was making a triple batch of the best Minnesota Wild Rice Soup I’ve ever had.  Then us girls will have the Wild Rice Soup tomorrow but the rest will be fresh.

The first time that I had this soup was on a cool windy day while on my lunch break and the soup found its way to me unexpectedly at what I like to call “a rich people grocery store” since it’s not as though normal people could afford to shop there every week on a normal budget. 

These kinds of surprise “food finds” are always the best and this is no exception.  I immediately went home, googled this soup and was pleasantly surprised to actually find the recipe!  Some of the twists that are great to this recipe are replacing the ham with some rotisserie chicken or pancetta.

Byerly’s Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons margarine or butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1/2 cup finely grated carrots
  • 1/3 cup minced ham
  • 3 tablespoons chopped slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, (optional)
  • snipped fresh parsley or chives

Directions

In large saucepan, melt margarine; saute onion until tender. Blend in flour; gradually add broth. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in rice, carrots, ham, almonds and salt; simmer about 5 minutes. Blend in half and half and sherry; heat to serving temperature. Garnish with snipped parsley or chives.

Yes Please!

 Enjoy!

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Who would have thought I could make preparing a dinner for <10 people more complex than cooking a meal for >450 Boy Scouts?  You heard me right.  Back five years ago while I was in college I was an assistant cook for a Boy Scout for about 450 well off little boys, leaders, and staffers each week.  Talk about interesting. 

The Boy Scout troops were from the North side of Chicago.  Still being 19 and naive to the world, the geography hadn’t struck me.  What I did know that I was one of the only ones that was paid more than minimum wage.  It always seemed weird to me that all of these boys my age would be willing to work for like $2/hour.  Poor guys getting ripped off doing what they love.  Running around in the woods, making wood carvings, and teaching rich little kids how to start a fire or make a tourniquet.

Something Like This

That was until I needed a ride with one of them and we had to go out to the “staffer” parking lot that was a long ways off from where I worked.  When I walked onto the dirt lot I felt like I was looking at an woodsy verion of a Mercedes showroom.  Here I was feeling bad that these city kids that wanted to work out in the wilderness so badly that they were wiling to work for pennies.  Turns out that their dads were all C level executives that were sending them out to camp to show them the meaning of work.  

That always seemed backwards to me though.  How do you let your kid get paid $2/hour and then have him driving a Mercedes, H2, BMW or any other kind of sports car?  Are they supposed to think that them earning $2/hour will get them that?  I THINK NOT.  I’m pretty sure that it might have more to do with their Jewish trust fund than them earning money…

Needless to say, I never felt bad for them after that and realized that the fact that they went to Standford, Oxford, MIT, ect wasn’t necessarily purely based on them getting scholarships and that I had been PUNK’D.

Now back to the party planning.  Today was spent planning out and preparing for a girl’s night that I’ll be hosting tomorrow.  One of the ways that I show I care for people is through cooking and since I don’t have any clue on what to get all of my girlfriends, I decided that I would give them the gift of soup.  And it’s been decided that based on how OCD I am, I’ll never be in the catering business.  Everything’s ready besides the bottles of wine that will be shared.

I’m not going to give away too much, but, I wanted to preview what’s on the menu for the my girls that are able to brave the cold, snow, Vikings game crowd, and a crappy Monday.  Here’s the all-star lineup:

  • Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup
  • Cindy’s Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Wild Rice Soup w/ Ham (Byerly’s famous)

There will be more to come and I’ll be sure to take pictures, post recipes and reviews later this week!

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