Brown Rice-Quinoa Pilaf with Butternut, Mushrooms, and Kale

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I hate squash. But I’m diggin’ this. Diggin’ into this, more like.

Another one from Poor Girl Eats Well.

Manomanoman. I can’t even believe I made this.


Christmas In Kentucky, Chapter VIII: The Return Trip Home

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Wherein my niece shows exceptional taste in film, an Illinois landmark is revisited, an early night is called, and a fantastic meal enjoyed

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I believe I read once in The Good Uncle Handbook™ that it is my responsibility to introduce my nieces and nephews to the classics. I take this responsibility seriously (e.g., Mad Magazine, The Three Stooges.) So during this holiday break I have been introducing adorable niece Nolia to the best in animation. Her favorites so far: “One Froggy Evening” by Chuck Jones, and “Bad Luck Blackie” by Tex Avery.

So Friday morning I said goodbye to Mom and Nolia and Lady, and set out for home. Yeah, it was hard.

I was glad I waited the extra day. The interstate in Indiana was passable – the plows had been hard at work – but it was clear they had just finished earlier that morning.

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Illinois has, without a doubt, the best highway rest areas in the country. When we made trips south with Dad, we’d pack a cooler and stop at these instead of fast-food joints. My favorite: the Skeeter Mountain Rest Area, on I-64 just outside of Grayville.

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I made pretty good time through most of Illinois. I genuinely thought I would make it home to Minnesota by 11 pm or so. But at dusk the temperatures dropped, the highway began to glaze, and the radio forecasted heavy snow ahead of me in Wisconsin. Maybe I’m skittish, but I decided to call it a night. Pulled off the interstate in Rochelle, just 25 miles or so south of the Wisconsin border.

Took a room at the Super 8. At the recommendation of the young woman behind the counter, I drove a few blocks over to the Butterfly Restaurant for dinner. This proved to be one of the best decisions I’d made all day. Incredible food, huge portions, unbelievably low prices. If you’re ever down that way, don’t hesitate to stop there.

Off to sleep at about 11-ish, with plans to return home on Saturday.

God help me, I don’t like hot cereal.

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I know, I know, it’s good for me. Yeahyeah, suresure, whateves. I can choke oatmeal down if I must. And Cream of Wheat makes me gag. If you remember “library paste,” that’s what it reminds me of.

But this stuff, Ralston, is great. I’ve always liked it.

It’s hard to find. But I just discovered a place to buy some.


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Black Bean, Chicken, and Mango Stew.

Image from poorgirleatswell.comThis is Kimberly's pic. Mine didn't look this good, but man, did it ever taste good.

Image from This is Kimberly’s pic. Mine didn’t look this good, but man, did it ever taste good.

More synchronicity in action. Yesterday I tumbled onto an awesome blog called Poor Girl Eats Well, hosted by Kimberly Morales. She describes herself as having champagne tastes on a Two-Buck Chuck budget. Well, substitute craft-brew tastes on a PBR budget and we’re pretty much on the same wavelength.

Today I followed one of Kimberly’s recipes and made Black Bean, Chicken, and Mango Stew. Man o man, this is good. The sweetness of the mango melds astonishingly well with the cumin and cayenne. Believe me when I tell you that finding a mango in East Central Minnesota was no mean feat. Worth it, though.

I even got some questions answered via email from Kimberly herownself, which is quite awesome.

I seriously can’t believe I made this myself. Highest possible rating. Go to Kimberly’s website. NOM NOM NOM.

I looked back a year ago to last Thanksgiving weekend. I was cooking food then too.

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Last time it was Maple, Citrus, and Ginger Cranberry Sauce. I was jammin’ to the ‘Mats and Teenage Fanclub and Great Big Sea that day too, IIRC. What the hell is it about this particular weekend that morphs me into Guy Fieri? Idoan geddit.

Anyway, throwin’ down some Pumpkin Cornbread today.A recipe that came my way in a fundraising email from Franni Franken. This stuff is awesome. There may not be any left to bring for dinner tomorrow. NOM NOM NOM.

Franni’s chill, she wouldn’t mind if I pass it along.

2 cups cornmeal
2 cups white flour
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 15-oz. can pumpkin
1 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. On the first speed of a hand or standing mixer, beat together the eggs, oil, pumpkin, and milk.
4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry in three batches with a rubber spatula. The batter will be smooth, and is more fluffy than liquid-y.
5. Pour the batter into a 9 by 13 baking pan (or two loaf pans), and place in the middle rack of the oven. I used the baking pan.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick stuck in the middle of the cornbread comes out dry. (In my oven, 25 minutes didn’t do the trick. 40 minutes was the ticket.)
7. Let the cornbread cool for ten minutes, and then cut into pieces and serve.

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I googled another recipe while this one was in the oven. That one suggested to add ginger and nutmeg. Next time.

Just made these, part II

Lemon-Lavender Shortbreads.

Extra butter, that’s the ticket. Plus chillaxin’ the dough. Man, these are addictive.


(And “Lemon Lavender Shortbread” is Salty Rosemary’s hippie-chick sister.)

Just made these.

Salted Rosemary Shortbreads.

Will use more butter next time, but … NOM NOM NOM.

(Actually, “Salty Rosemary Shortbread” would be a great name for a barmaid in a seaport town.)

Rockin’ the 902: Sussex Golden Ginger Ale. NOM NOM NOM

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You know I dig the ginger ale and ginger beer. This stuff here is fantastic. Regional brew, not seen much west of the Maritimes. Gonna bring home as much as I can fit in my suitcase.


(Update: I packed twelve cans of Sussex Golden Ginger Ale in my suitcase for the return home. Several cans either burst from flight pressure or were otherwise mauled by airline crew, resulting in a sticky gingery saturation of everything else I packed. Still, I got nine cans home.)

Rockin’ the 902: Happy Thanksgiving.

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The difference between our Thanksgiving Day and yours is: on our Thanksgiving Day we put a turkey in the oven, and by your Thanksgiving Day we’ve just finished up all the leftovers. – Wendy Bergfeldt, CBC Cape Breton

Rosemary shortbread.

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