No you’re not hardcore…

No you’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore…so goes the classic Jack Black refrain from School of Rock.

I am not what you might call a risk-taker, but I’ve found my own way to live on the edge this summer with winter biking.

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Yes, I clearly look very tough. Last summer, I made a resolution to start using my bike as a primary means of transportation. Reasons being…

  • environmental
  • recreational
  • fun way to get exercise

When the seasons changed, as they do in Minnesota, I stopped because it was too cold rainy snowy take your pick of excuses. I noticed that I was more irritable at work and whenever driving in my car in the morning, I felt sad and a little guilty that I wasn’t biking. So, I decided to stop making excuses and do what I needed to do to be a winter biker!

Here’s what it took:

Clothes: Lack of appropriate clothing for winter biking was one of the main excuses I used to avoid it. I did not own any rain gear, nor did I own warm/waterproof boots that would be good for biking in. I decided to invest in the appropriate clothing. I bought a raincoat, rain pants, and boots. Total cost: ~$130

Tires: Riding on the snow and ice scares me. I am already a fairly cautious bike rider, and the extra instability of the snow and ice left me feeling really anxious and nervous about falling. Luckily, I live in the greatest biking city in the United States (I ❤ you, Minneapolis), so bike trails are consistently plowed and maintained throughout the winter. Still, conditions could be better. I decided to invest in some studded bike tires designed to travel well over ice and help with snow. Total cost: ~$170

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Courage: Lastly – and most importantly – I just had to do it! Even after getting the appropriate clothes and buying new tires, I was still really nervous. The first couple times, I had to convince myself I needed to actually go out and ride my bike (which wasn’t too hard since I’d already spent the money!). Each time I get to work in one piece though, I build a little more confidence and feel more ready for the next time.

Moral of the story, I may not be the biggest daredevil, but I am taking on the winter with my bike and getting a little braver every day. 🙂

In other news, I’ve continued to do some top-notch cooking from the Practical Paleo cookbook. As I shared last week, I made pumpkin pancakes which were so delicious that I wanted to try a few more recipes from the book.

At the beginning of the week, I made swirly crustless quiche. 

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The recipe was SUPER simple. All you do is combine everything in a bowl and then bake it into a delicious egg bake:

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It made a great lunch and dinner during the week:

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Trying my hand at a more ambition project, I also gave stuffed cabbage a whirl:

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This recipe was a lot more time consuming and involved steaming the cabbage, stuffing them with meat/veggie mixture, covering it with tomato/cranberry sauce (cranberry sauce also had to be made), and then cooking in the oven:

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This was a fun project, so I didn’t mind the extra time required by the recipe. The end result was very good, but I got a little sick of it by the time I had it for the fifth (or sixth!) meal. I need to remember to always downsize recipes a lot.

stuffed cabbage served with roasted sweet potatoes

stuffed cabbage served with roasted sweet potatoes

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Paleo Pancakes and Pizza Luce

Several months ago, I bought the cookbook Practical Paleo.

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I don’t follow a paleo diet (and do not support following any strict diet plan!), but I do like a lot of paleo recipes and appreciate the paleo approach to eating for two primary reasons.

1. They promote eating whole foods
2. They discourage fear of fat and encourage regular consumption of fat in meat and other natural sources (see my post about not being scared of fat here)

Despite admiring this cookbook on the shelf and reading through it a few times, I haven’t actually made any recipes from it. Why does this always happen with cookbooks? I seem to always use recipes on the internet or just make them up.

Today was the day for a recipe from the book!

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The recipe I chose was for pumpkin pancakes. The recipe was a simple collection of pumpkin puree, eggs, coconut flour (but I used almond), and some spices. Mix it all up:

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Cook it all up:

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And serve with dried bananas and coconut butter (if you’re me):

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Delicious!

In other news, I have a recap from a visit to Pizza Luce from a few weeks ago.

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Pizza Luce is a popular pizza chain around the Twin Cities area that specializes in creative options with plenty of vegetarian and vegan selections. We ordered quite a feast and had plenty of leftovers! To start, we ordered Focaccia Katerina which was focaccia bread covered with pesto, goat cheese, and bruschetta:

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I ordered a veggieball hoagie with a ‘side salad:’

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As you can see, the side salad was enormous. My dining partner ordered a build-your-own pizza with chicken, tomatoes, and basil:

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Everything was delicious! I would definitely go here again. Also, if you’re buying gifts this holiday season, Pizza Luce is doing a special where you can buy $100 worth of gift cards for $80.

Where to get a watch battery?!

About a month ago, my watch stopped ticking. just-like-that

Since then, I have tried in vain to get it replaced. Okay, actually I only went to Target and was told they don’t replace watch batteries anymore (which presumably indicates they used to?). After Target was a no-go, I was at a loss. Where could I conveniently go? No where, it seemed, explaining why I have been watchless for nearly a month.

Then, one fateful day last week while getting my routine dental cleaning, I noticed this sign:

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Could it be?!

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Miraculously, this small sign a mere two blocks from my apartment indicated that help was near. With no indication of a store name, I followed the sign’s direction to Suite 206 and paid a visit to Marshall Ferster.

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WOW. This was one neat experience. As soon as I entered the second floor, I found an older gentleman hanging about in the most clock-filled room I have ever laid eyes on.

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The small office and workspace was filled with watches, stopwatches, clocks, and timepiece accessories. The overseer, Marshall, had a magnifying glass head set securely fixed on his head, and immediately reminded me of Maurice from Beauty and the Beast. He was extremely nice and friendly!

I told him that I saw the sign downstairs and decided to come up to investigate getting my watch battery replaced. He told me I was the first person that had mentioned the sign, also mentioning that his friends wanted him to put a larger sign up to attract business but he didn’t like the idea.

Well, I will certainly be coming back here for any future watch business! After some additional admiring around the room…

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…I got my watch battery fixed for a mere $5!

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So, to all of you with dead watches and no where to get it fixed, go see Marshall at 1406 W Lake Street in Uptown!

Out to Breakfast

A meal out for lunch or dinner with friends or a hot date (read: my fabulous and fun bf) is not so unique for me. Obviously, as evidenced by my extensive list of restaurants visited around the Twin Cities area. A breakfast out though…now that’s something special!

Over the last couple months I’ve gone out to breakfast not once, but twice! IT’S A RECORD!

My first breakfast out was at the Uptown Diner

Uptown Diner is – you guessed it – a staple of Uptown. It serves breakfast and lunch Monday-Wednesday and then stays open all night long Thursday-Sunday. Read: it gets the brunch crowd and the bar-close crowd. Because who doesn’t want a juicy burger and fries and a malt after bar-close? Really though, I wouldn’t know.

I do know, however, know that their hash browns are bomb.

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As is the veggie omelette with fruit:

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And the french toast with fruit and nuts that my friend got looked superb:

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If you want large portions and hearty food, this is a good bet for any meal of the day.

The second breakfast out I enjoyed was at Hazel’s Northeast

Another restaurant with a neighborhood association, Hazel’s is an icon of the Northeast neighborhood, and weekend waits can climb to close to two hours. Luckily we went on a weekday and avoided a rush (but the restaurant was still almost full!).

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We were seated near the open kitchen and were immediately overwhelmed by the multitude of good-looking options presented by the menu:

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The choice was made for hot cocoa, pico omelette, and drunken banana french toast (warm bananas, rum soaked raisins, caramel, and toasted pecans).

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Everything was great!

Both of these locations are top-notch breakfast eateries, and the lines out the door prove it. If you go on a weekend, go early or expect to wait.

Sunnyside Drive

There’s an area around 44th and France that is full of ambiguity – are we in Minneapolis? Are we in Edina? One thing, however, leaves no ambiguity: the food.

Just off this intersection is a small street called Sunnyside Drive. The food on Sunnyside Drive is as delicious as the street name is cute. Next door to one another are two iconic and delicious Minneapolis institutions.

The first, Convention Grill, is an old classic.

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Convention Grill has been serving old style burgers, fries, and malts since 1934. Darn, it is good! I went with a friend for lunch. I got a burger and she got a grilled cheese:

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We also shared a half basket of fries (this is huge – I imagine the full basket would serve four people easily):

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I couldn’t resist the malt menu, so I ordered a peppermint shake.

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This was, unfortunately, a disappointment. Half the glass was filled with Andes mints. I would have preferred more milky goodness and less minty chew. Previously mentioned friend ordered a hot fudge sundae which is unpictured (but very good!).

In contrast to Convention Grill, the second place of yum on Sunnyside Drive is a relatively new addition to the Minneapolis food scene.
Hello Pizza is the baby sister of Pizzeria Lola, offering a more casual atmosphere, pizza by the slice, and easy walk up service.

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The inside of Hello Pizza is an interesting mix of cafeteria and traditional New York slice shop – all with a healthy splash of color!

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The pizza choices range from basic to exciting (artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, and organic pulled chicken).

I ordered a slice of veggie and a slice of the artichoke special, and my dining partner ordered two slices of ‘Hello Rita’ (the classic margherita).

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Can you tell you prefers more inventive toppings? 🙂

In case you are judging me, I did not visit these restaurants back to back. Nor did I even visit them in the same week! I would not, however, frown on such behavior.

Cocktails at the Castle

Continuing my recap of fun activities during my blogging hiatus, a nod to a fabulous evening at the American Swedish Institute is in order. The ASI is a cultural center and museum that hosts a variety of events within its mansion-like walls. Sure, you could probably have a wedding here, but I went for a Halloween bash called ‘Cocktails at the Castle.’ This was ADULTS ONLY.

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Don’t worry, it wasn’t too explicit. That was just the rule for buying tickets. 🙂

I biked to the institute since exercise is good and my date was a biker chick:

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Checking in was a process of getting ID’d, ditching coats, and noticing how cool all the costumes were!

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Biking to the event earned us a cool stamp and $1 off drinks!

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Friends arrived…and cue to the taco!

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Once everyone was there, we ascended the rainbow staircase to see what the castle held!

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We discovered music and masks and acrobats and a photo booth!

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Plus turkey legs:

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Plus modern art:

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I would definitely go to Cocktails at the Castle again – if for no other reason than to check out the costumes. The event had a few more activities as well (palm reader and ‘write your own obituary,’ for example), but we opted out of these activities due either to the long lines or morbid undertones.

It’s been a while…

Hi folks! I’ve been on a slight hiatus from blogging. Blame studying for the GRE. Or researching grad schools. Or a major fundraiser at work. Or my own inability to plug my phone into the computer and upload photos…

Whatever the cause, it’s been a while – but I’m back now! And it’s time to play catch up. To start, I will recap some of the social highlights from our time apart. The biggest highlight was a visit from a very special friend and forever love:

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I refer to the person, not the dog, Diggity.

Festivities ensued. Group brunch included mucho delicious food:

apples and brie

apples and brie

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vegan pumpkin pancakes

vegan pumpkin pancakes

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autumnal salad

autumnal salad

Overall, it was a fabulous spread:

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Insert coffee and mimosas, and we have the ideal brunch:

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After brunch, a visit to everyone’s every Carl’s favorite Minnesota apple orchard was in order.

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Known for its delicious apples.cider.cheese.fudge, Fireside Orchard has it all.

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The orchard itself can’t be beat with the beautiful walkways and bountiful supply of multiple apple varieties:

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No trip to the orchard, however, could be complete without a stop at the small store on site and a sampling of its mouth-watering goodies.

caramel apples

caramel apples

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cider donuts

cider donuts

FUDGE!

FUDGE!

And don’t forget some hot cider on your way out!

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