Archive for May, 2009

Our fourth CSA from Harmony Valley Farms (blog) included:

  • Green Garlic,
  • Green Onion,
  • Parsnips,
  • Sunchokes,
  • Spinach,
  • Salad Mix,
  • Spring Radish,
  • Pea Vine,
  • Rhubarb,
  • Asparagus, and
  • Hon Tsai Tai

This by far had the most vegetables in a box that we’ve received.  It looked really good.  We actually cooked up a lot of the this week’s and “leftovers” from previous weeks in a Spicy Asian Noodle Bowl that Christy concocted herself (and was delicious).

It has been a challenge to eat all of our vegetables before they go bad, but we’ve really been trying.  Part of the problem is that we’ve not been eating as many meals at home as we normally would, plus now we are trying to eat lots of random veggies we’ve never heard of!

While doing some research I found another local blogger who is getting food from Harmony Valley called Simple Good & Tasty.

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Over the holiday weekend, Christy’s sister came to visit us.  Her style of visiting family isn’t going out to see a ton of sights.  She enjoyed just hanging out together – sitting on the front porch swing as opposed to driving frenetically around to see lots of places.  Last year when the rest of her family came, we hit up a bunch of places from this list.

So with Sarah we visited the

Franklin Street Bakery an awesome neighborhood bakery with $1 stimulus bread,

Maria’s Cafe a neighborhood Colombian Restaurant with great pancakes,

an Oromo Wedding luncheon/adventure which included a stop at Holy Land Deli where we all got to see lamb heart, goat feet, and many other “delicacies”,

the Mall of America the symbol of American consumerism,

Ikea the symbol of high quality low cost furniture and accessories,

Seward Church and their Memorial Day cook-out,

Famous Dave’s BBQ a great place for all-types of barbecue and excellent service,

Minnehaha Falls pretty every time of year and always something new,

Downtown Riverfront walking the Heritage Trail – including Stone Arch Bridge, the Guthrie, and St Anthony Main,

Tuggs Tavern great burgers – mine had a fried egg on it and Sarah’s had hashbrowns bigger than her burger patty,

Midtown Global Market another neighborhood gem with great food and stores,

watched me race the Brian Kraft 5k,

hung out at the Landscape Arboretum lots of flowers and trees, especially iris and lilacs,

a relaxing walk on the Midtown Greenway yet another neighborhood treat,

lots of Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot (thanks Hoovers for introducing this great game to us),

and much more!

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We made it pretty clear that one of the things we were most excited about in moving to Minneapolis was the large African/International population based here.  With over 70,000 Somali refugees there are plenty of opportunities to talk and learn about Africa.

We have tried really hard to connect with and engage this population.  One way we did this was by connecting with a group that is teaching English to primarily Somali adult women.  This has been a great way for us to learn about the culture while providing a valuable service.  It has also given us, especially Christy, the opportunity to build friendships.

This resulted in us being invited, with some friends, to a student’s son’s wedding.  She is actually Oromo, which is a distinctive Muslim culture within Ethiopia.  On a side note, many of the local Oromo people have learned to speak and understand Somali. In part because they are often lumped together – even though traditionally there is an underlying conflict between the two people groups. So back to the story.

We were told to arrive at a banquet hall around noon for the wedding lunch which would go from 12-2.  Knowing the culture we showed up at 12:30 and were still the first people there.  We waited around for awhile and finally one of her son’s came to open the hall and he said we could come back at 6pm.  We questioned that and then he said between 2 and 3.  Long story short we ended up coming back to the banquet hall around 2:30.  There were many women around finishing up the food preparation.  They said, “She is coming, she is coming.”  So we waited…

We tried to be patient and the banquet hall was filling up.  We had almost given up (we did have other commitments) and were told that she was almost here, “maybe even in the parking lot.”  A few minutes later we decided to leave and almost missed her.  She came and was very excited to see us which was great – but she wanted us to sit and stay and eat.

Her English is very limited so we thanked her and tried to explain that we needed to leave soon. She kept insisting on us eating, but we didn’t want to be singled out to eat before everyone else.  We finally had to leave at 3:45 and were able to say goodbye, but everyone kept insisting on eating!  I finally realized that this was a HUGE deal for them and said we would go into the back room and eat. We had some great food. Injera, rice, chicken, and other special sauces. Yummy.

This was a great cross cultural learning experience.  I think we all wished we could have spent the whole day and actually gotten to enjoy the wedding and take part in that experience.  But it is so great to be able to have this experience within our city.  We drove 10 minutes and got to experience a part of Africa.

While we were waiting we discovered the Holy Land grocery store. There is a small one at the Global Market, but this was much larger and included random things like lamb heart, goat’s feet, beef tongue, and much more!

Another quick story that makes me happy and reminds us of our great life happened at work the other day.  You might recall that many of the students at the school  I work at are East African (Somali, Oromo, and Ethiopian). We also have a significant African-American population.

Last week was the last day of after-school classes, so for the last 15 or so minutes I took my group of kids outside to have some fun.  They mainly played basketball but there was also a girl’s soccer group outside playing soccer.  While standing around watching the kids I felt like I was back in Africa.  All of the kids (and other adults) were black, some wearing flowing multi-colored burqa’s or hijabs.  It was a great feeling.

Another really random story! I was taking a group of students that I work with to work a banquet for the volunteer department of the school district.  Again most of them were East African and inner-city students.  We got on the bus and started driving when the kids asked for the driver to turn the radio on.  They should have known better since the driver was wearing a cowboy hat.  He turned on country music!  The kids didn’t like it at all!  They kept yelling at him to turn it off and he would give them the thumbs up and turn it up! It was really funny to me since I grew up on a lot of country.

So there you go, a few stories about the great life we lead here in Minneapolis.

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Our third CSA from Harmony Valley Farms (blog) included:

  • Asparagus,
  • Ramps,
  • Parsnip,
  • Sunchoke,
  • Spinach,
  • Salad mix,
  • Green garlic,
  • Egyptian Walking onion,
  • Spring radish,
  • Rhubarb,
  • Saute mix, and
  • Garden herb packs

The herb pack contained plantable rosemary, thyme, savory, oregano, sage, Giant of Italy Parsley, Basil, and Krausa Parsley.

I did some digging (pdf) and found that their Saute Mix is described as:

Sauté mix is a wonderful blend of sturdy greens, like spinach, tat-soi, arugula, mizuna, etc, that hold up well when cooked. They are very versatile, and have a wonderful flavor. They can be cooked as simply as sautéed in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper, or with bacon and shallots, or wilted in a hot pan with a light vinaigrette. I have used them in stir-fries, soups, stuffings, and as a simple side dish. Sauté mix can even be enjoyed as a hearty salad, and is perfect for hot dressings that would destroy delicate salad mix.

In this week’s newsletter (pdf) we got a good reminder that our “fortune” is very much tied up with the farmers as the frost impacted the farm:

This past Sunday morning’s frost set back our asparagus crop by about 2-3 days, so we had to reduce the amount included in your box this week. Our neighbor Elmer Beechy, another certified organic grower, has been supplementing our asparagus supply, but his fields froze as well. (Thanks go out to another neighbor, David Troyer, for his organic rhubarb, also supplementing ours.) The asparagus should be back on track with this week’s forecasted warmer weather. Thank you for your understanding & enjoy the tastes of spring!
Despite the 30 mph winds, we kept the strawberry fi eld covered too, with only a few casualties from the frost. In the places where the cover was ripped, the fragile blossoms blackened and won’t produce fruit but it looks like only a loss of 4-5 pints of berries! Big thanks to the Saturday crew who came out & battled the wind to protect the crops.

We look forward to more adventurous food!

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Welcome sign on Minnesota State Highway 60 at ...
Image via Wikipedia

Weather is such an amazing thing.  This past weekend much of the Twin Cities Metro area was under a frost warning as temperatures dropped into the low 30’s.  Yes.  It was May 16.

According to local TV Station KARE 11 some parts of northern Minnesota hit a new record for amount of snowfall on May 16.  International Falls, MN had 0.3 inches of snow.  Bringing the 2008-2009 winter total to 125.6 inches.

Yesterday, May 19 the Twin Cities Metro area hit a new record high, according to the Pioneer Press.  The record was broken by a whopping 8 degrees at 97.  Yikes!  You’ve got to love this line from the article though:

While southern and central Minnesota roasted, the northern part of the state remained cool. When Granite Falls recorded a whopping 100 degrees at 4 p.m., Grand Marais reported a breezy 34 degrees, Taggart said.

It is about 400 miles from Granite Falls to Grand  Marais.

CRAZY!!

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Our second CSA included:

  • Asparagus
  • Red Sunchokes
  • Ramps
  • Sorrel
  • Spinach
  • Parsnip
  • Arugula
  • Chives
  • Black Radish
  • Salad Mix

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This past weekend we went camping with our good friends the Johnson’s.  You may recall that we did this last year as well and it might become an annual tradition.  I don’t quite have the time to make collages like I did from last year’s pictures (1 2 3 4, but it is really hard to choose only a few pictures to post from just over 300 that I took.

We had a good time exploring some new parts of Gooseberry and also just re-experiencing some of the old, including Split Rock Lighthouse.  The waterfall is such an amazing thing to see, all the power and glory of the rushing water.  It is also amazing to watch Lake Superior.  This year it was cool and misty for most of Saturday with a little splurt of flurries for a bit.  This makes for a dark and wavy lake.  On Sunday it was sunny and calm which brings out a whole new set of colors and experiences on the lake.  See if you can see the contrast in the pictures!

Our only real mishap this year was that our camping stove had a gas leak in the valve which  made for a slow cooking process and an interesting torch experience!  We are now more equipped for “cool” camping and enjoyed the warmth of our zero degree sleeping bags!

Now for some of the pictures:

We had a great time.

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