30 September 2011

Recipe: Aloo Palak

Aloo PaWHAT? I know. I'm not trying to sound exotic or epicurious or anything. I just happen to have a big thing for spinach. I never met a spinach I didn't like! I whine on a regular basis that McDonald's doesn't have McSpinach Pie or Spinach McBalls. Well, McBalls might need a little work. But you get the idea. Me + Spinach=spinachy love child.

Here is my spinachy love child from last week.

Aloo Palak

Aloo Palak
serves 4ish

A giant amount of fresh spinach (I used 2 colander's full)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeƱo, chopped

Put this all in a big fry pan and cook it until the spinach and onions are soft and smooshy. You'll need to add the gobs and gobs of spinach in a couple batches. Turn off the heat until the potatoes are done.

5-6 potatoes good for boiling

Peel and cut the potatoes up. Boil them in salted water for about 10 minutes, depending on how small you cut them.

Now add a ladle of the potato water to the spinach mixture and blend it up. If you have an immersion blender you can do it right in the pan! Best Christmas present ever!

Add the potato chunks and the following to the pan, heat up again and serve:

2-3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons heavy cream

It turned out I was able to make this all out of our CSA veggie box! That was very exciting since usually I am emailing pictures of stuff to my dad or twitter OH HELP WHAT THE HELL IS THIS. But then I got a box full of spinach and potatoes and I did a little dance.

I used to read this (now defunct) blog that ended every recipe with "Will they eat it?" referring to her two kids. I always liked that. So I will copy it.

Will They Eat It?

Short answer: No.

Analysis: I think it needs better marketing. For example "Shrek Palak" might work, since it is kind of swampy looking. Give my ogre horns a toot and serve up some supper! But primarily I have trouble pitting anything against one of their favoritist foods in the whole wide world, RICE. And in this case, there was naan bread too, another big favorite (from Costco, I might add! Costco is for you! Hey!). So basically they had white rice, white bread, and white milk for supper. But there was a Tinkerbell multi-vitamin too so that makes me a good mom.

22 September 2011

A Day in the Life of Mimi

A Day in the Life of Mimi from Peppercam on Vimeo.

Here's a documentary I did of a typical day with our little Mimi. It starts in the morning and ends with good night!

21 September 2011

Local Misadventure: Lake Elmo Camping

Our camping weekend at Lake Elmo Preserve started out nice.

A warm fire with our cousins!


Pumpkin beer for happy hour!

Camping happy hour

It was dark early and we all tucked in for a long, COOOLD night. And then. In the wee hours.

May day! MAY DAY!!!

Poor little Bella. We tucked her in the van while we packed up camp.

And had some coffee and pancakes.

Camping Mimi

Kelly Percolates

Here is my cousin, April, who took home barfed-on linens on top of all her camp laundry to wash for us.

Camping April

Here's Mimi. "Does this s'more make my butt look big?"

S'more Butt

By the time we got home and got Bella all tucked in, I was starting to feel cruddy. I was so thankful to crawl into my nice warm bed. Poor little Bella feeling that way in the cold, dark tent!


It's probably good that it'll be a while before we camp again!

14 September 2011

In which things are made better and worse by pumpkin

Pumpkin Bundt

Here is a very cheering pumpkin bundt. I made it from this recipe from the Gourmet website, which, I will go out on a limb here and say would have benefited immensely from about 2 scoops of chocolate chips. And about 50% more batter--I do like big bundts and this one seems a little anorexic.

Just sayin'. But we chowed it down all the same.

Mimi helped make it--AND helped "wash" the dishes! Since the dishwasher broke, my standards have gotten pretty low. Licked clean? Looks good! The Whirlpool Mimi needs a constant stream of batter to keep operating.


I had completely not realized how many dishes a three bowl cake makes. A ton. It makes approximately one ton. I carefully balanced them in a teetering pile in the sink, waiting hopefully for the dishwasher repair guy the next day. But of course, he has to order a rare and expensive* sounding new pump assembly and it will be a couple weeks. I laugh shrilly as I look at my dish-ton in the sink, "You don't have one of those Cat in the Hat clean-up machine thingees? HA! HA!" I am so funny! I will go sob in the sink now with my dishpan hands. Or, actually, I will go knit in the other room, because denial is not just a river in Egypt honey. I have since become a dish nazi, feeding the whole family on paper towels crafted into vaguely dish-like shapes and fixing only finger foods for every meal. I'm calling it Tapas week.

*For reasons we can't remember, we actually bought a 5yr warranty with this dishwasher, and it is 4 1/2 years old! So that's something.

We are going camping this weekend, which is excellent for declining your dish production, and not so excellent for avoiding freezing your little frozen tooshies off. I have already turned the furnace on in the house, which is not a good sign for my toughing it outedness, and now I am thinking of going to Costco and buying that big box of chemical hand warmers and crafting them all together into some kind of body suit. I could call it a warm-up suit. Or a Brrrr-ody suit.

PS. My mac has recently gotten very enthusiastic with its spell check. Here are some amusing things it tried to change for me in this post, which actually now that I think about it, may have been a better direction to go in.

  • Bundt became bunt. Bunt? What IS that? oh well now that I say it in my head, I'm thinking it's a sporting term. Carry on.
  • Thingees became thin geese. I need thin geese to eat all this crusted on food off my dirty dishes! Give me that! HONK!
  • Tooshies became too shies. Because my tooshie is too shies to say hi to your tooshie. 

11 September 2011

Remembering 10 Years Ago Today

Remembering 9/11

We had just gotten engaged. I had just moved into Brent's house. He was on a business trip to Boston, scheduled to fly out on September 12th.

I lit a candle in a jar and put it on the front step every night while Brent spent days trying to get home, thinking of that hotel's motto, "We'll leave the light on for you!" He finally found a rental car in New Hamsphire and drove it 1,400 miles home. Home was the only place anyone wanted to be.

Thinking of all the people who didn't come home that day.

A Fair Affair

Last night we had our second annual Farewell Fair Affair. We got together with some friends and just talked about FAIR all night long. We had Turkey To Go sandwiches, which seriously people, you need to make right now. Go get in the car and buy a turkey breast roast right now! You will thank me in about 5 hours, because you will have this:

Homemade Turkey To Go

We also located a keg of 1919. Delicious stuff that is. We polished it off after breakfast this morning.

1919 Rootbeer

We also had pickle dogs, berry crepes, Schell's Oktoberfest, and Kitchen Plus 2000 salsa. Alison and Jed brought all the fixin's for honey sundaes, just like at the Hort Building, but I kind of forgot to serve it up. I also forgot to clean the bathroom beforehand or open the wine they brought. Gah such terrible hostessing! And I forgot to wear my flashy reversible handmade apron, which I usually use to deflect attention away from my terrible hostessing, since a bad hostess would never sew herself such an apron, don't be ridiculous! Also, I talk about Costco so much to non-Costconians that I am certainly annoying and possibly an advertisement. I have even written a jingle.

Do you like to buy your commodities
In great big quantities?
and get a really good value,
then Costco is for you!
Costco is for you, hey!
Buy in great big quantities
Costco is for you!
I need to write a second verse about cheese.

So. Aren't you just dying to come over now. I can dance around in my flashy apron singing this song to distract you from my unsanitized bathroom. Costco is for you, HEY!

Well it wasn't as bad as all that. We had spirited Fair discussion for hours, frequently pawing at our iPhones to verify something with the Fair app. I more than once consulted my Minnesota State Fair book, which I keep on a stand in the dining room, like a family bible, to clear up confusion on important subjects like mascot lineage and honey recipes.

We do like to see the Fair out in style around here. And what a Fair it was this year, it deserved a proper remembrance. Fair, here's to you!

10 September 2011

Teacher Gifts

I just loved the girls' preschool teachers this year! I wanted to give them something nice as we left to go to a new school. I asked on Facebook, what it is that teacher's want, and it was the consensus was coffee shop gift cards. So I put together this little gift for each of the five teachers.

Preschool Teacher Gift

Storage basket, from Global Mamas
A big chocolate bar
Homemade Strawberry Jam
Homemade Bread & Butter Pickles
A photo of teacher with one of the girls (if I had it)
Thank you note (the most important part!)
Panera gift card

Preschool Teacher Gift

I got the storage baskets at the Fair (I love Global Mamas and I figure they can use them in the classroom or at home), the Panera cards at Panera (duh), and the rest was out of our cupboards. I know what you're thinking, you had FIVE big chocolate bars in your cupboards? Yes. Yes I did.

I actually had eight.

The girls are enjoying their new school a lot. But I think we all miss our old teachers this first week!

08 September 2011

Local Adventure: Leinenkugel's Brewery

Leinenkugels Brewery

On the way home from a family wedding a couple weeks ago, we pulled off the highway to find some coffee (and cookies, as a matter of fact)--I was cranky to be missing the Fair, and you know how it is. When mama ain't at the Fair, ain't nobody happy. We realized we had ended up in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. And you know what I've always wanted to do there?


Leinenkugels Brewery

It was a lovely day. And the brewery was quite picturesque.

Leinenkugels Brewery

I took these pictures on the outside part of the tour. You're not allowed to take photos inside the buildings, because that is all top secret. We were there on a Sunday so there wasn't a lot going on inside the buildings anyway.

Leinenkugels Brewery

I liked it when Bella saw the hops and shouted, "Brussels sprouts!"

Leinenkugels Brewery

Here's Brent, enjoying some free samples. We had a good old time with that.

Leinenkugels Brewery

Are those girls wearing nightgowns? At a brewery?

Are you judging me?!

The big gift shop with free bar is even called the Leinie Lodge! (just like at the Fair). It was a very fun stop, and three hours passed before we knew it. We would love to go back some time during the week when they are operating.

The best part was Monday morning when little Emily went to school and said, first thing, "I go to Brewery!"

ETA: Here is the "recipe card" they give you at the bar. I thought it was very fun to try different combinations!

Leinie Mixes

07 September 2011

First Day of School

My sweet little kindergardener!


First Day of Kindergarten

First Day of Kindergarten

and don't forget Mimi, it was her first day at a new preschool too! (the same building as Bella)

First Day of School

Mimi goes to preschool each morning while I'm working, and Bella goes full day. I spent the first afternoon while Mimi napped eating pretzels and watching Netflix instant play. And it was so great.

06 September 2011

State Fair: Day 12

Fair Farewell

Oh Fair
I know
if you went on forever
you wouldn't be so



Pink Car

04 September 2011

State Fair: Day 10

We had a Whale of a time at the Fair yesterday!

Having a Whale of a Time!

Having a whale of a time

Bella had almost finished her Pup before I could even get this picture. A minute later she says, "more corn dog please!" (We got malts instead)

Pronto Pup Girls

It was just a lovely day! With a nice cool breeze and not too crowded. I'll be interested to see the attendance numbers for what is usually the biggest day of the Fair. We enjoyed Pronto Pups, Boiled in Lead, Creative Activities, sweet corn tamales, a caramel apple malt (!), head butters (as Mimi calls them), the whaley whale ride, honey taffy, and (brace yourself) FIREWORKS!


03 September 2011

State Fair: Day 9

Finally, the whole family together at the Fair!



They're having fun, I promise. They wait and wait and WAIT to ride this with Daddy! (I get barfy)

At the Fair

I saw Captain Jack Sparrow! He totally dissed me while we took this picture!

Capt. Jack brushes me off

I think it had something to do with Miss Minnesota walking up. Boo.

Wacky Wheeler

Wacky Wheeler. My favorite thing in the parade!


Some bracelet making. Love these!


Little Farmhands!

Little Farmhands

Little Farmhands

Little Farmhands

Fairing it up with some friends. We discovered we are very Fair compatible!

Fairing with the G's

Mimi was very excited to sit on this big mower! Hopefully a sign of interests to come.

Mowing Mimi

The annual Sky Glider tradition!

Sky Glider

Sky Glider

Sky Glider

Skee ball! They're terrible! But at least that makes nine balls last 5 minutes.

Skee Ball


Waiting for a magic show!

Magic Show


The birth barn. This little chick still looked kind of eggy.

Just Hatched

Two calves were born at noon, Cotton and Candy. Mimi was very interested in the baby cows!

Calves born that day: Cotton and Candy

My favorite garden, outside Heritage Square. There's even a little tube in the tree up above that drips into the birdbath to keep it full!

Heritage Square Garden