I left off last time talking about our mini weekend trip to Winona (remember the bat in the kitchen? yeah, that one) and I guess, since then, Minnesota kept me busy enough to pull me away from keeping things up-to-date here. Whoops! Don't you just love it when life happens :)
We don't do a ton around here, nor do we prefer to. Our mornings start slow until someone leaves to go workout, after which another person or two will follow because we're just active people, especially in the morning. We cherish breakfasts and dinners, and the happy hour in between, together like nobody's business. But other than that, we're low-key.
I love my family, and I love my alone-time. And the wonderful thing about this vacation is that it's giving me both. Family-time is the breakfasts, dinners, happy hours, and little daily activities in between, and alone-time is my morning coffee, workouts, the chance to bake something, and lulls in the afternoon when no one else proposes an idea for an activity, so I just escape upstairs to read or something.
We chose one night to go into downtown Stillwater, which is adorable by the way, mainly for a store I've had my eye on since I first drove by it back in March, but also for - you guessed it - happy hour (we're barely moderate drinkers, I promise). I've been eye-balling this one cooking store on the main street in downtown like you wouldn't believe. Obviously we all spent like an hour in there. All of us. Sorry everyone, and thanks for loving me the way you do as you patiently let me peek inside every cookbook, run my fingers across every cast-iron skillet, every porcelain baking dish, every fancy coffee maker (I still love my pour-over). I could get lost in a place like that.
I spent a full morning focused on scones - the first round came out like a muffin top (which is delicious on its own, but not the goal here), the second round came out like a complete utter under-baked soggy brick, and the third round came out absolutely perfect as could be. You can imagine my emotions - terrifying frustration and then pure joy - went hand-in-hand with each round. Onward and upward!
Later that night, we grilled carnè asada - our California favorite. So much so, in fact, that my parents asked the butcher to freeze a huge stock for us so that we wouldn't have to suffer mediocre Mexican food out here. My stomach was feeling funky that day and continued to for the next couple, actually, but hey - I still got a few bites in and a really pretty picture of the whole meal!
Have you heard of that one cereal company... you know, General Mills? Of course you have. Duh. I'm messing with you. Anyway, I visited their HQ! My dad made a connection for me with the leader of this cool company called 301 Inc. that helps grow small food start-ups, so he and I chatted one morning and probably could've kept chatting into the afternoon, too. What a fantastic and exciting time this is to be involved in food. So many companies are moving forward and keeping their eyes open not only for up-and-coming trends in food, but also for the latest news in nutrition and wellbeing.
We visited a local brewery to hangout on Friday afternoon and I had my first very own beer! You should have seen the bartender's eyes when my brother told her this was my first beer. Yes, I'm 22 years old and only now drinking a beer. And I don't foresee very many more happening in the future - it's just not my thing. I did, however, really enjoy the mango-flavored one I tried here, as well as the free popcorn and the Jenga!
I don't think I've shown you enough food yet. That should change, shouldn't it? Here's our dinner from last Friday night at Lolo's American Kitchen. I found this place online when I was hangrily searching for a restaurant because I knew if I didn't, we'd be sipping cocktails and snacking for the rest of the night. FOOD. I wanted food that night. And maybe a glass of wine. We sat upstairs and pretty much had the place to ourselves, along with all the a m a z i n g food we ordered. A round of smoked salmon and tuna pokè appetizer bites for everyone came before our meal. I ordered the chicken tacos in a lettuce wrap with a side of grilled broccolini. The tacos were delish, but that broccolini just about had me on my knees. Unbelievable. When it was my uncle Tom's turn to order (right after mine), he said "I'll have what she's having", and my heart smiled. There's just something about it when people trust your taste and dinner order enough to get the same exact thing. I find that incredibly flattering.
And to top off our weekend, we went on a boat! A boat. The way to my heart, besides a kitchen. We explored White Bear Lake and the beautiful houses the border it, sipped Blood Marys (I tasted Mom's and it was okay), snacked on prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and crackers and cheese and such, and just enjoyed each other's company. My kinda' day. And exactly the kind of sunshine and relaxing we needed before having a bunch of family over for BBQ-ing later that night!
Sunday was a day of church, hanging out with grandparents, and then walking around downtown Minneapolis. I LOVE THE CITY. Sometimes I feel deprived if I go more than a few days without seeing bustling streets, tall buildings, and other exciting characteristic city-things as such. We spent Monday with my grandma making lefse (see more on my "minnesota" IG story highlights) - a Norwegian sort of tortilla made from potatoes, flour, and butter. That's it. They're pretty good, but the highlight of it all was seeing my grandma so eager to share a part of her family with us and continue to pass on this tradition. Maybe you'll see a lefse recipe up here soon?! Ben and Natalie (my brother and his wife) left on Tuesday, so that day was all for them to just pack up. I took the day to do my thing - to workout, to read, to blog a little, and to get ready for the Minnesota Cup! My dad and I were invited to this event (think mini version of Expo West, for those of you who have been) and accepted immediately. How cool it was to see further development of already blossoming food trends, and to see a little debut of potential future trends! And since Wednesday was my last day in town, I had to squeeze in everything - a little workout, a little baking (I perfected a fluffy, moist banana bread recipe and could pee my pants I'm so excited to share it!), a little time with grandparents (I brought them some lunch from Panera and we all loved it!), and a lot of time with Mom and Dad in the city :) happy.
So, now it's back to reality. I cherished my time in Minnesota and feel so incredibly thankful for my family. And because I've already been asked this more times than you'd imagine, no - I don't see myself living out there (in a place without a year-round farmers' market, you'd have to really convince me). But, that being said, I will be out there much more frequently because that's where my family is and that's enough of a reason for me to visit whenever I can :)