Beef Red Curry

I have had a serious appetite for meat lately. Red meat to be specific. This is somewhat uncharacteristic for me, so I’ve been experimenting making dishes with beef. The latest in my culinary exploits: beef red curry.

This dish ended up being a bit spicy, so if you’re of a weak composition, you might do well to decrease the spice content.

*full recipe below

Once the dish gets going, you’ll be adding ingredients fairly quickly. So, before you start, combine all of the necessary spices for the red curry sauce in a small bowl. You will need: garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, fish sauce, sugar, chili powder, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.

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Add 1lb. beef (cut into bite-sized pieces) to a pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown on all sides:

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Once the meat is slightly browned all around (if you cook too long at this stage it will be overcooked!), add in one can of coconut milk and the full contents of the spice bowl:

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While this cooks, rinse and coarsely chop three bunches of bok choy:

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Add this to the pot and cook on low heat for approximately 10 minutes until the curry is warmed through and the meat is fully cooked:

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Beef Red Curry, serves 4
Ingredients
- 1 lb. beef
- 3 bunches bok choy
- 1 can coconut milk 
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 heaping tsp. minced garlic
- 3/4 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Method
Combine spices and fish sauce in a small bowl and set aside. 
Heat a medium-sized pot and add 1lb. of bite-sized beef pieces.
Cook beef until all sides begin to brown.
Add coconut milk and spices, stir to combine.
Rinse and chop bok choy and add to the pot.
Cook for approx. 10 minutes until curry is warmed through and meat is cooked to your liking.

As an aside, if you really hate someone, one heartless thing to do would be pour some fish sauce on them. That stuff is rank.

Fondue for Two

Fondue for two, fondue for two, FONDUE FOR TWOOOOO.

If you are a Glee fan, that made sense. If you are not a Glee fan, you can become one now.

This week, I had the opportunity to enjoy fondue for two at The Melting Pot in downtown Minneapolis.

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I found out about a deal they were offering where you could get cheese and chocolate fondue plus two movie passes for a set price. Obviously, I was compelled to reserve this immediately. When we got to the restaurant, we were seated at a table with a special burner and fondue pot:

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In addition to silverware, we also received fondue spears:

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There were a lot of tempting cheese fondues, but we finally settled on the spinach and artichoke. The waitress made the fondue at the table by combining broth, garlic, spinach, artichokes, and a mix of Fontina, Butterkase, and Parmesan cheeses. Plus a dash of tabasco sauce for good measure:

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For dipping, we had bread, raw veggies, and green apple:

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The ratio of cheese to dippers was a little off, and we had some extra bread and veggies at the end. Admittedly, this might have been due to the fact that we slathered each dipper with cheese at the beginning.

Up next…chocolate! Again, the choice was hard, but we went with a turtle fondue with dark chocolate. This came already prepared and hot to the table, topped with candied pecans:

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For chocolate dippers, we had bananas, strawberries, cheesecake, pound cake, brownie bites, rice krispies, and marshmallows rolled in graham cracker and Oreo crumbs:

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This time, there was more fondue than dippers, and our waitress brought us some extra bananas and strawberries to finish it off.

I’ve only been to fondue once or twice before, so the meal was a lot of fun simply due to its unique quality. Plus, who can complain after a dinner of cheese and chocolate? The dinner+movie deal was a nice incentive to go, but given that it was a fairly expensive meal even with the discount, I suspect a regular fondue dinner would be pretty pricey.

The Melting Pot itself was nice, and our waitress was particularly friendly and attentive. I don’t know if there are other fondue joints around the Twin Cities, but if you’re looking for this sort of meal, this seemed like as good a bet as any. If you just want a nice dinner though and don’t need the fondue experience, you could probably get more bang for your buck elsewhere.

Food is Food

When I was struggling with an eating disorder, everything was classified into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good
– fruits
– vegetables
– skinless chicken breast
– fat free plain yogurt

The Bad
– bread
– grains
– red meat
– starchy vegetables

The Ugly
– oil of any kind
– butter
– full fat dairy
– salad dressing
– desserts
– candy
– fried anything

See a pattern?

[image source]

Cutting back on these extra calories from fat was one of the first habits to develop with my eating disorder, and it was one of the last to leave. Even after getting away from the bulk of eating disorder symptoms, I stayed all-too-familiar with the non-stick spray can, and you would have been hard-pressed to find butter or added oils in any of my home cooking.

To totally ditch the fat phobia, I’ve had to learn that fats add more than flavor to foods. They are an essential part of overall health and body functioning. Here are few reasons why you need to eat fat (and plenty of it):

  • fat is the food that provides the body with the greatest level of satiety, so without it you will constantly feel hungry
  • without fat, the body can’t process and retain nutrients fully, and you will feel weak and fatigued
  • the brain is over 65% fat, so you need to consume fats for clear thinking and productivity
  • without eating fat, your body will have a much harder time keeping warm
  • fat keeps skin healthy, helps hair grow, increases immunity, and stabilizes blood sugar
  • fat protects your organs

Moral of the story:

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Overcoming my fat-phobia has made me feel healthier, stronger, more energetic. Oh, and my food is tastier. 🙂 Eating out is no longer an anxiety-ridden process (how much hidden butter/oil is in my dish?!) but is, instead, a fun opportunity to try new and delicious food.

Check out some of the items in my kitchen these days:

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The big breakthrough with all of this…fat doesn’t make you fat. It makes you healthy and happy. And I’m okay with that. 🙂

They say, You are what you eat! That’s funny. I don’t remember eating a sexy beast this morning. ecard[image source]

Kitchen in the Market

It’s official. I have found one of the top date activities in Minneapolis. Last weekend, Noah and I took a class through Kitchen in the Market. Kitchen in the Market is located in the Midtown Global Market, and the space is a shared commercial kitchen for food trucks, caterers, and others looking for space to create delicious food. In addition to being a shared kitchen, Kitchen in the Market also offers a variety of classes and events.

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After finding our way to the kitchen, the evening began with a cheese tasting led by the owner of Grassroots Gourmet – dairy and meat shop in the Global Market.

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My favorite cheese was a chevre – especially when combined with tomato chutney or honey!

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After the cheese tasting, we went on a tour of the Global Market. The class we took was called ‘Cooking in the Market,’ and the idea was that we would decide what to make simply based on what looked good walking around the various vendors. After touring the market, we would discuss with the professional chefs what ingredients we were interesting in using, and then – with their guidance – create a dish.

There were about 20 people in the class, and we were broken up into group of 4 to decide what to make. Our group decided that we wanted to make something with chicken and Mexican spices. The suggestion from the pro chefs? Empanadas! The part of the class where each group decided what to make was one of the most fun parts (besides eating cooking all of it). Each group would tell the head chef a certain meat, spice, ingredient, cooking style, or ethnic cuisine they were interested in. The chef would ask a few questions and then settle on a specific dish, give that group a shopping list, and send them on their way. Each group had $25 to spend on the ingredients for their item. After buying the ingredients, each group was paired with one of the professional chefs to help oversee the actual cooking.

Aprons on and ready to cook:

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To start, we needed to make a pie dough for the empanada casing. We made that first so it would have some time to chill in the refrigerator while we made the filling. For the pie dough, we needed butter, flour, sugar, a few pinches of salt, and a little water:

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After the pie dough was done and in the fridge, we set to work on the filling. Supplies included: chicken, potatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, cumin, and oregano:

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We chopped up three potatoes and then boiled for about 10 minutes:

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We covered 4 chicken breasts with some oil, cumin, and oregano and baked at 400° for about 10 minutes:

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For the jalapenos, we fire roasted them over a stove burner until the outsides were thoroughly crisped, and then sealed inside a bowl with saran wrap to let the skins soften:

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After a few minutes in the bowl, the skins will slide right off the peppers, giving them a nice ‘fire-roasted’ flavor and making it easy to chop:

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Add the diced jalapeno and diced chicken to the boiled potatoes:

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Chop the leaves from a full bunch of cilantro and add that to the mix as well:

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While I was involved with all of this chopping, some of the other group members worked on a tomatillo salsa:

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At this point, it was time to get the pie dough from the fridge, roll it out, and shape it into small circles for the empanada shells:

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We added a small amount of filling to each shell, folding it over, marked the edges with a fork, and brushed it with olive oil:

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Once the empanadas were in the oven, it was time to walk around and see what the other groups were up to!

There was veggie paella:

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Thai fried rice – given a fusion twist with wild rice, coconut, and peaches:

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Goat and kale salad:

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Lamb ribs with a plum sauce:

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And a sweet couscous with radishes, carrots, and raisins:

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After all this poking around, I was ready to eat! Luckily, the empanadas were just coming out the oven, so we arranged them on a plate around the leftover filling (there was a lot!):

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By this time, everyone had gotten a glimpse of all the other groups’ dishes and was seriously ready to chow down. We set the food up on the main counter, buffet-style:

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The tables were set beautifully with rosemary-infused water:

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After another brief description from each group about how they prepared their dish, it was time to get food!

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Everything was DELICIOUS! My favorites were probably the empanadas (although I might have been a little biased there!), the kale salad, and the couscous. I liked the goat a lot more than I thought I would, but I was a fan of the lamb ribs. They were a little too chewy for me.

This whole experience was without a doubt one of the most fun things I’ve done all summer. This would be an awesome date for a special occasion (or just for fun!), and it would also be a great thing to do with girlfriends or family member. I wish I could go every week! My advice to you: sign up sign up sign up now. You will have an amazing time. 🙂

Black Bean Burgers and Good Eats

Summer seems to demand that I am constantly eating good food. Let’s be honest…all the time demands that I eat good food. But, for some reason, the summer seems to call out with rooftop happy hours, live music, and extravagant dinners.

I’m not complaining.

A couple food highlights from last week include a trip to one of my favorite Minneapolis restaurants, Broder’s Pasta Bar.

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This time around I had pappardelle with steak, sundried tomatoes, and asparagus:

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plus a few bites of a caprese salad appetizer:

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I also visited Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grill in St. Louis Park in the West End. This bar/restaurant is the premiere country music joint in the Twin Cities area, with live music almost every night. Here’s a picture of the stage (the band wasn’t out yet when we got there):

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The bar is in the shape of a guitar and has no drink menu but offers pretty much everything you can think of:

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Can’t go wrong with mozz sticks:

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Even though there’s been a lot of good food out and about, the real food highlights of the summer have been right in my own kitchen. This week, I made up a recipe for some black bean patties, and it turned out so well!

Recipe makes 8 black bean patties – full recipe below

First, combine 3 teaspoons minced garlic and two medium carrots in a food processor:

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Add in the contents of a 25oz. can of black beans (rinse the beans in a colander first):

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In a separate bowl, mix together 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon cumin, and 1 tablespoon chili powder:

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Pour into the food processor with the bean mixture and process:

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Add between 1/2 – 3/4 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs (however much until the dough is formable), and then shape into 8 patties on a baking sheet:

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Cook at 400° for 11 minutes on each side.

Black Bean Patties, recipe makes 8 patties
Ingredients
- 25oz. can black beans
- 2 medium carrots
- 3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2-3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Method
Combine garlic, carrots, and beans in a food processor and combine.
Separately, combine eggs, cumin, and chili powder. Add to processor. 
Add 1/2 of bread crumbs and combine. If mixture is still too wet, gradually add up to another 1/4 cup.
Form mixture into 8 patties and place on a baking sheet. 
Cook at 400° for 11 minutes on each side.

Aquatennial 2013

The Aquatennial is a 10-day annual festival in Minneapolis. It’s a civic celebration of the city. What is a civic celebration? As far as I can tell, it’s basically a celebration of anything and everything the city has to offer: museums, arts, outdoors, etc. The celebration includes everything from sandcastle-building competitions to 5ks to smoothie sampling events. The official kick-off of the event is the Torchlight Parade – a two hour extravaganza along Hennepin Avenue downtown.

Noah and I went to check out the fun. The parade started at 8:30pm when it was still light outside:

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There were a lot of city floats with various ‘royalty.’ Several organizations, bands, and civic groups also made an appearance:

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I don’t have a picture, but Mayor Rybak was there and I saw him get funky with it with a staff member from Total Entertainment. The parade really started to  pick up once it got dark and a fire truck came through spewing flames:

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We saw the MN Roller Girls and Snoopy:

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Minneapolis got one-stream recycling over the past year – woohoo!

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If I were a MN princess, I would want to live on this float:

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Overall, the parade was really fun and it was awesome to see so many people out on the streets in support of a Minneapolis celebration.

Besides the parade, we went to one other Aquatennial-related event. The Bakken Museum – a museum all about electricity! – offered free admission on one of the days, focusing particularly on the connection between art and science.IMG_2088 IMG_2087 IMG_2085

The museum is located right by Lake Calhoun, and it seemed like a great family destination (but we weren’t too old to enjoy it!).

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The museum is located within a beautiful old house:

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And almost all of the exhibits are interactive. Look at these kissing dogs – drawn together through magnetism.

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As part of the aquatennial, there were a few special activities that linked art with science. Like this battery-powered Scribblebot:

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oooh. aaah.

Even though I only participated in two Aquatennial events this year, it could definitely keep you busy for the full ten days. It’s a great community event, and definitely a symbol of how Minneapolis cares about the civic life of its citizens. But, you don’t need to convince me – the Minneapple already has my heart. 🙂

July Bestowed and a Confession

First, I owe you a recap of the July Bestowed box.

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Inside, there was:

A pass for two weeks of free classes from Barre3.

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A year subscription to Organic Gardening Magazine:

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Vanilla Coconut Macaroons:

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Sweet Potato Chips:

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Health Warrior Chia Bar:

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Butternut Squash Puree:

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And crisps from 34 Degrees:

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I can’t wait to try everything!

And now….for a confession.

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What do all of these places have in common?

Yes, you guessed it. Coffee. I’ve been drinking it!

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Iced coffee to be precise. This is a bit of a crazy thing for me since I’ve always identified myself as ‘not a coffee drinker.’ I’m still not having the stuff hot, but I’ve really been enjoying a cup of iced coffee in the afternoon while working at a coffee shop. What is becoming of me?!

Parents, how are you taking this?

Any tips for not getting totally hooked? I like the coffee shop environment and a refreshing drink, but I don’t want to get to the point where I feel like I ‘need’ it. Also, it’s an expensive habit!

Lutefisk

Lutefisk is a culinary delicacy of the Nordic countries. Delicacy might be a bit of a misnomer…

Lutefisk is made from aged fish and lye. It is gelatinous. It is stinky. Its name literally means ‘lye fish.’ Yeah…

As I mentioned in my previous post, after hiking around Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse, we headed into Two Harbors proper to go to Heritage Days. Heritage Days is a multi-day event of parades, music, activities, and general festivity in and around downtown Two Harbors. When we stopped by Two Harbors on Thursday night, we asked directions from someone out on the street, and they told us (after giving directions) to come back the following day for the Lutefisk Throw. It is (and I quote), “the best thing that happens in Two Harbors all year.”

Well, with that recommendation, how could we refuse?!

And that is how we came to be in downtown Two Harbors for the Lutefisk Throw on Friday afternoon.

When we first arrived at Heritage Days, we wandered through a few booths selling clothes, art, knick-knacks, food, etc.

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Finally, we found the music stage where we were told the Lutefisk Throw would be.

You are probably wondering what a Lutefisk Throw is. We were also wondering.

Luckily, the band played an introduction song to the event to help clear things up. The song went like this:

Here comes that Norsky bunch, they’re gonna throw some fish now.
Lutefisk, better stand back, you know they’re gonna throw some fish now.

Lutefisk. Lutefisk. Lute….fisk.

Yes, those are the real lyrics. Here’s the rundown:

Each year the Sons of Norway face off with the Swedes at the Two Harbors Heritage Days Lutefisk Throw. Each team attempts to throw frozen lutefisk (gloves are worn because it is so gross) across a tarp and into a bucket, and the team who successfully sinks the greatest number of lutefisk in the bucket wins.

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There was even an honorary first throw of the game:

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IS THIS REAL LIFE?!

This was not a high-paced game, and when we left (after three rounds), the score was 1-0.

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After leaving the Lutefisk Throw, we stopped by the other big Two Harbors tourist attraction (har-di-har)…the 3M museum! Inside this  building is the most comprehensive and informative exhibit on tape:

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Oh yeahhh.

Even though 3M started with tape, as you are probably well aware, they have now expanded to many other products:

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And they’ve even made contributions to the field of science! Check out these butterfly tracker stickers that 3M created to help scientists learn about migratory patterns.

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My thumb is in the picture to help illustrate the size. Just in case you were wondering. 🙂

On the way out, I met this fellow.

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Why was he in the 3M museum? Still unknown.

Other Two Harbors posts
Betty’s Pies
Grand Superior Lodge
Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse

Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse

Gooseberry Falls State Park was a short 15-minute drive from our lodge in Two Harbors, and we enjoyed a short hike, pictures by the waterfall, and speculating about the interesting geology (we learned that the surface around Gooseberry Falls is volcanic bedrock).

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As we hiked, we got several views of the falls:

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After finishing the hike, we had a quick lunch of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and then took the 20-minute drive (or so) to Split Rock Lighthouse.

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Split Rock Lighthouse is run through the Minnesota Historical Society. After a horrible storm in 1905 left many sailors dead, this light house was constructed. Before the lighthouse, this area was particularly deadly because the magnetic interference of the iron ore within the rocks at Split Rock would throw compasses askew as far as 18 degrees!

Today, you can visit a small history exhibit, take tours of the facility, climb up the lighthouse tower, and see costumed guides showing what the lighthouse and the keeper’s home were like in the 1920’s.

This is what the lighthouse lens looked like from within the tower:

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View from the top:

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Keeper’s home furnished to reflect what it would have been like in the 1920’s:

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After finishing at the lighthouse, it was time to head back to Two Harbors to check out the action in town. Check back soon for a rundown of Two Harbors Heritage Days.

Other Two Harbors posts
Betty’s Pies
Grand Superior Lodge

Grand Superior Lodge

After dinner at Betty’s, it was time to make our way to Grand Superior Lodge where we would be staying for the weekend. The lodge is located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, just a few minutes away from Two Harbors ‘central.’ The quotes are because Two Harbors is a very small town.  Here are some pics:

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They have old school decor:

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Oh, and they like to keep vending machines on the outside of buildings:

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?

Anyway…back to the lodge.

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Welcome to the Love Shack, baby.

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The Love Shack, like most (or all?) of the lodges within the Grand Superior Lodging Complex, was owned by a family who rents it out. The lodge felt very homey and welcoming:

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The family had lots of wall hangings and decorative pieces around the home:

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They seemed to especially like decorating with animals. There were LOTS of animals. Look at this bear peeking in the window:

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It must be a baby bear since its feet don’t touch the ground:

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The lodge we stayed in could sleep six if you wanted to cram. There’s a fully stocked kitchen:

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One bathroom:

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Plus an extra tub inside the master bedroom (we thought this was pretty funny):

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The main living area had a couch (with a fold out bed inside), a chair, and a fireplace:

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There was an upstairs loft area as well with a futon:

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The ceiling was slanted and very low. Note the distance between head and ceiling while sitting on the bed:

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View from our window:

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After getting settled in the lodge, we wanted to check out the rest of the resort property. We left the lodge by our back porch (with a grill!):

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And walked down to the lake:

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We also checked out the swimming pool and hot tub in the main lodge:

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The main lodge also had a small sauna and an extremely tiny exercise room (one treadmill, one elliptical, and a few hand weights). It didn’t take long to figure out the lay of the land, so we headed back to the lodge to get ready for a trip to Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse (post coming soon about these adventures!).

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