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Showing posts from 2011

A Recipe for Lori - and You!

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Well over a year ago I promised my friend, Lori, a recipe for a wonderful appetizer - Brie Onion Tartlets. I even told her I would write a blog entry with the recipe and get it to her "soon."But I kept pushing the blog entry to the back burner and never wrote the blog or shared the recipe with Lori. Sorry!

Guess what? I'm going to make things right and post the recipe now. And even though I'm late in posting, the timing is actually perfect for any of you who might need to make a great appetizer for a New Year's party!
Brie Onion Tartlets I discovered this recipe in the Taste section of the Star Tribune in 2003 and have made it many times since. The recipe is called "Honey-Glazed Onion and Brie Tarts but I've always referred to the little tarts as "Brie-Onion Tartlets." I'm not sure how I ended up changing the name. It's probably just because it's easier to say "Brie-Onion Tartlets" than "Honey-Glazed Onion and Brie Tart…

Winter Vacation Traditions

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We had a wonderful Christmas with family and are now enjoying some time off from work and school. We're all kicking back and reading, playing games, eating too much and, since we're having unseasonably warm weather, have been on a few long walks with Rocket the Dog.

Today we plan to do some work in the hangar finishing up our shop and I hope to finish a photo book that I started ages ago. But more than anything I'd like to curl up with a good book (Rose got me The Last Wife of Henry VII for Christmas from Northfield Middle School's wonderful Tattered Pages shop) or take a nap. It is vacation, after all, so reading and naps are a must!

Another must during our winter vacation is our annual (usually post-Christmas) trip to downtown Minneapolis via the light-rail train. In the last few years we've made it a tradition to eat at Brit's Pub - a British Pub & Eating Establishment that features, you guessed it, British fare like Bangers and Mash, Cornish Pasty, Cock…

Mad About Macarons!

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A couple of weeks ago I discovered a macaron cookbook, Mad About Macarons! Make Macarons like the French, through a comment posted on my Macaron Madness blog. Turns out the author of the book, Jill Colonna, stumbled upon my blog and posted a comment. Jill is originally from Scotland but now lives in France and is a serious fan of macarons -  a "macaronivore," she says. And I think Jill may be my first blog comment poster from France. Cool!

I decided to order Colonna's book which was recently released in the US and Canada. I called Jerry at my local book shop, Monkey See Monkey Read, to see if he could get the book for me. He said "yes" and ordered it right away.
The book arrived within a week and last Thursday I picked it up. At quick glance I could see the book itself was a treat with many beautiful pictures of macarons.

I couldn't wait to really delve into the book so after dinner I brewed a pot of tea in my Paris tea pot (it has a picture of the Eiffel to…

Porcelain Painting and a Mini Pilgrimage

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One of the fun things about writing stories is that I get to meet neat people and explore new places. I just spent two days in Northern Iowa - which may not sound like an exciting place to visit but the area is full of treasures and at less than two hours drive from Minneapolis is a reasonable option for a day or weekend trip.

Right now I'm writing a story about a group of women from the Forest City area who have been gathering together twice a week for about 30 years to paint porcelain. Porcelain painting is a nearly lost art and I discovered these women through a distant cousin of mine, Carolyn, who runs a bed and breakfast in Forest City, Iowa. I actually met Carolyn when I was in Forest City for a Sons of Norway meeting where my mom was a guest speaker and, well, it gets to be a long story. Suffice it to say this is my third trip back to Forest City since late summer and the second time I have been a guest at Carolyn's lovely inn, The Elderberry Inn B&B.
My suite at the…

Macarons - A Visual Treat!

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My last blog posts, Macaron Madness and French Macaron Recipe Recap, have been long and wordy - so this time you are in for a visual treat! I'm going to post pictures of the French Macarons I've made so far along with a few notes on each kind.

French Macarons come in just about any color and flavor you can imagine. It's fairly simple to change up a basic recipe and create new color/flavor combinations. If you google "French Macaron" you can come up with some wonderful pictures of them. Try it. You'll have fun!

It's pretty easy to make different colors and flavors - Basically, you add whatever food coloring you want to the meringue mixture to make different colors. For the different flavors you can add a bit of flavoring to the meringue mixture if you'd like (most recipes I see don't add flavoring to the meringue but I've tried it a couple of times) but mostly just change up the filling. Fillings are generally some sort of ganache, buttercream …

French Macaron Recipe Recap

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In my last post, Macaron Madness, I promised to share a French Macaron recipe - I'm actually going to post links to three and give you some feedback on my experiences with each. (Warning - long blog post ahead!)

Many of the recipes I find are written using grams for measurements. I have a recipe from my husband's cousin's daughter in Australia that I want to try but have yet to do so because I don't have an adequate kitchen scale. Her recipe uses a totally different method for making macarons and I'm excited to try it! The three recipes I'm sharing, however, use US measurements.
I've made seven batches of French Macarons so far (or more, I've lost track) and have only had one recipe flop. That time many of the shells cracked, stuck to the parchment and didn't form adequate "feet" (see below under Sitting time for an explanation on "feet"). Still, most were good enough to eat. So I ate them (I shared some, too). This doesn't mea…

Macaron Madness

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I have some other writing work to do but have decided that I will write about French Macarons instead. After all, I'm at a perfect spot to write about French treats, I'm sitting at Patisserie 46 in Minneapolis with a writing friend of mine and I'm about to purchase one of Patisserie 46's wonderful salted caramel macarons so I can taste test it - taste testing is essential to my macaron research, you know.

I admit, I will probably buy one of their mocha French macarons, too, and maybe one of the raspberry ones. Oh, and there was lemon one I could try and pistachio and...

Okay I limited myself to three. The salted caramel, a white chocolate filled with dark chocolate ganache and a chocolate filled with Earl Grey infused chocolate ganache and orange marmalade.

I've been on a French Macaron quest of sorts. (I must like baking quests. I was on a quest for the perfect chocolate cake awhile back). I'm not entirely sure why I'm on this French Macaron quest other th…

Round 4 Wrap up

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Well, Round 4 of 30 Days of Biking came to a close last Friday - just in time for me to get sick with a terrible cold. Ugh. I'm not happy about the cold but am happy I finished 30 Days of Biking for the fourth time.

The weather for Round 4 was almost perfect. I didn't have to bike in the snow like I did last April or in the pouring rain like last September. Instead, save for some light drizzle here and there and some killer winds, the weather was great. Completing Round 4 of 30 Days of Biking -  though still a challenge - was not too hard this time around.



Looking on my Dailymile history it looks like I logged more miles on my bikes during this month than I ever have before. So, in light of that accomplishment I'm going to share some highlights of Round 4 of 30 Days of Biking.

Here they are (in no particular order):

•I biked 317 miles during September
•Owen did the 30 Days of Biking challenge with me again. This was his third round
•Two other friends of mine also joined in…

Round 4 Wrap up

Well, Round 4 of 30 Days of Biking came to a close last Friday - just in time for me to get sick with a terrible cold. Ugh. I'm not happy about the cold but am happy I finished 30 Days of Biking for the fourth time.

The weather for Round 4 was almost perfect. I didn't have to bike in the snow like I did last April or the pouring rain like last September. Instead, save for some light drizzle here and there and some killer winds, the weather was great. Completing the challenge, though still a challenge, was not too hard this time around.

Looking on my Dailymile history it looks like I logged more miles on my bikes during this month than I ever have before. So, in light of that accomplishment I'm going to share some highlights of Round 4 of 30 Days of Biking.

Here they are (in no particular order):

•I biked 317 miles during September
•Owen did the 30 Days of Biking challenge with me again. This was his third round
•Two other friends of mine also joined in on the challenge - P…

Big Ride 1 & Big Ride 2

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Road bike or gravel riding?
How about both?
How about two of the best rides I've ever had in less than a week?
Yep. I'll take that. I think I'll call them Big Ride 1 and Big Ride 2.

I'm going to start with Big Ride 2 because I just got back from riding it.

Ever since I started riding gravel (I've probably ridden it only ten times since last fall)  I have wanted to ride what I call "the big hill." Today I set out with a goal of riding 5 miles of gravel and took off and hit just about every gravel road and dirt path near my house. I rode five miles and kept going. At about 7 miles I was ready to head home but the big hill was there. I decided to go for it.

The big hill is actually two big hills - a big one down into a valley then a big one back up the other side. Then of course I have to ride back down and up again to get home. I thought the first "up" was going to be a challenge but I managed it pretty well. Then I turned around to head back home…

Can't Stop Smiling - Riding the Salsa Mukluk

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This morning started in the most fun way possible - After I got the kids on the bus for their second day of school I drove down to Milltown Cycles in Faribault where I met Ben, the shop's owner, for a morning mountain bike ride on a Salsa Mukluk fat bike.

I'm not a mountain biker. I've never ridden trails and, save for riding gravel a dozen times, have only ridden on paved roads and paths. I never thought I could be a mountain biker or ride on anything but roads. But after an hour on the Mukluk I am hooked. Absolutely hooked. And I can't stop smiling.

At first I was smiling just because the Mukluk is such a funny bike - it looks kinda odd with the big tires and the feeling of riding it is so different at first it just made me laugh.

Once we hit the trails and I was faced with all sorts of stuff I've never ridden over before I was smiling because, despite my lack of experience, I was actually riding mountain bike trails with success. I never thought I could ride trai…

30 Days of Biking - Round 4

Well, it's time for the fourth round of 30 Days of Biking and I'm doing it again.

If you don't know what 30 Days of Biking is it's, in short, a challenge to ride your bike every day for 30 days. It was started by two guys from the Twin Cities who challenged their Twitter friends to ride their bikes every day. The challenge went viral and several hundred people from around the world participated in the first 30 Days of Biking.

I was one of them. I rode my bike every day in April 2010.
And, though it sounds over-dramatic to say this, 30 Days of Biking changed my life.
I became a much more active person. I realized I could do things that seemed impossible. I met a bunch of positive, fun people. And I really started "loving the bike," as my friend, Darryl from Loving The Bike likes to say.

Since that first challenge there have been two more and I've done them all. Owen and the kids joined me for Round 2 last September. Owen joined me for Round 3 in April and …

A Knitting Story

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A new yarn shop is opening in Northfield soon and I had the fun of writing a story about the new shop - Yarn Store to Open in Downtown Northfield - for Northfield Patch. The shop, Northfield Yarn, is due to open in September and owner Cynthia Gilbertson is excited to not just open a store but to create a welcoming community for fiber lovers of all skill levels.

Talking to Cynthia got me thinking about when I used to knit, back to when there was a yarn shop called Cottage Industry in town. Cottage Industry has been closed for several years now but when it was open there was a wonderful feel of community in the place. The owner, Jessica, and one of her employees, Amy, welcomed me the first time I walked in the store. I wasn't a knitter at the time and had no desire to start but I loved the yarn and found myself feeling both content and inspired to be creative whenever I walked in there.

Eventually, inspired by the beauty of a certain turquoise yarn and with encouragement from Jessic…

Miles of Motivation

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Numbers associated with my bicycling sometimes frustrate me - like when I realize that my average pace still hasn't gone up as much as I'd like or when I realize that the numbers related to my weight haven't gone down even though I'm biking a ton. But when I get close to reaching a mileage milestone, numbers don't frustrate me - they motivate me instead!
I really like seeing my bike computer's odometer turn over to big numbers. When I first got my road bike last April, it was a big deal to see 100 on my odometer's screen. Later that year when the odometer turned over to 500 and I realized I had biked 500 miles on my road bike it was another big deal. Whenever my computer turns over to a number with zeros after it I let out a whoop, smile and ride on - and start logging miles towards my next hundred mile milestone.
Today I woke up with the goal of kicking that road bike's odometer over the 1,000 mile mark. I knew I was close -  within 40 miles of reaching …