Monday, October 10, 2011

Cool Change

The time has come to move on, hopefully to brighter horizons. My musings, contributions and tributes will continue on a new site. Please join me in the odyssey ~ because it's time for a cool change.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Fortune Teller

I see a candle burning in the night.  Or two.  No, three.
I see nostalgia taking the spotlight.  Travel back to the middle of your memories and live them all over again.
I see sweet.  I see sultry.  I see adorable.  I see adulterous.  I see heartfelt.  I see hilarious.
There are parties in store with ice-breakers galore.
I see it all, and then some more.
Big changes are coming soon.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Dive Night ~ Welsch's Big Ten Tavern, Part 2

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We'll find the most interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

Welcome back to the continuing saga of our latest Dive Night at Welsch's Big Ten Tavern.  If you missed the first installment you can find it here

I'll cut right to the chase.  The reason I'll never go back to the Big Ten is because of...the staff. 

When we arrived at the Big Ten a waitress came to take our drink order.  We waited for about ten minutes and another completely different waitress came to us to take our drink order.  We told her someone else had taken our order and she apologized.  Our drinks arrived momentarily.

After we had some time to look at the menu the first waitress came along again to take our food order.  She had a little notebook and appeared to be taking the order in paragraph form.  Husby asked politely that we get two separate checks, and she replied "okay, I can do that later."  So we put in our order of appetizers and entrees with extras like a cup of soup, a side of waffle fries, onion rings, etc.  Once all was said and done the waitress was off to submit our order to the cook.

So there we are, me and Husby, Ruthie and Ray, sitting around trying to talk over the screaming happy-hour patrons directly behind us in the bar, when BAM! ~ a thud so sickening it gave me a little shot of adrenaline.  There on the floor right in front of our table lay an 85-year-old woman who took a tumble on the slanted floor of the dining room.  We noticed her earlier having dinner with whom appeared to be her son, although when she hit the floor the son was nowhere to be found.

Enter, my hero.  Husby rushed down to the elderly woman's side and put into action his training in first aide.  The woman's son is still MIA, but a crowd of waitresses gathers around the moaning lady on the floor.  She's unable to move and Husby continues to question her and comfort her.  The 20-something-aged waitresses stood gawking, and I kid you not, one of them had a finger in her mouth.  Finally I got up from the table and went to the group of airheads and said "could someone please call 911?!"  They stared at me as though I was asking them to perform brain surgery.  I went to find a manager when I saw a very petite girl on a cell phone (woman, actually, but none of these staff people was over twenty-five, which is a girl in my book).  She was clearly part of the staff.  I asked if she was calling 911 and she nodded.  A few seconds later, Mrs. I've-Fallen-And-I-Can't-Get-Up and Husby still on the floor, the cell phone girl asks me "should they bring an ambulance?"  Um, YES!!

I sat back down at the table and look!  Here come our appetizers!  The person delivering them had to practically step over the poor woman laying on the floor writhing in pain, but got our food to us, pronto.  I asked that she hold the rest of our food until the matter on the floor was taken care of.  Just as I made my request, the music started playing.  Nothing like loud bar music to put a fallen woman at ease.

By now the son made his reappearance.  Interestingly he remained one of the gawkers, on his feet, staring down on his old mother who was practically paralyzed on the floor.  And Husby remained her comfort until help arrived.


Help finally did arrive after Husby spent time with the old gal, making sure she was conscious, chatting with her to distract her from the pain, putting her purse under her head for a little comfort on the cold floor.  The EMTs strapped her on the board, hoisted her up onto the gurney, and as they started to wheel her away she uttered a meek "thank you" to Husby who had made her fall a little less terrifying.  The son was also grateful to Husby, but despite his politeness we assessed him to be a complete loser.

*Sigh* Now to dig into the appetizers.  Oh look!  Here come three waitresses with the remainder of our order, all of the entrees.  Well, I'll give it to them that they did actually wait until the broken lady was removed from the floor in front of our table.  But there it all is, all the food, all at once.  Not only that, there was plenty wrong with the order.  Husby and I were missing our cole slaw, they forgot my sour cream, an order of waffle fries was delivered instead of an order of onion rings (or vice-versa, I can't remember), etc.  And none of these three waitresses was our original waitress.

There were the four of us, trying to regain our appetites after watching an old lady crash to the floor, coming to her aid (Husby, that is), and witnessing the complete and utter stupidity and ineptitude of the restaurant staff with a table full of food staring at us.  Then walked in a guy who also looked as though he was part of the staff.  (They all wore black shirts, which doesn't seem like it would be considered a uniform, but it was.)

Recounting it now is kind of a blur.  The guy was talking to someone else, but I don't remember who it was.  It was obvious this other person was cluing him in on what happened with the old woman.    They were standing right in front of our table, in the area where the woman fell.  I remember shouting at him over the drunken rowdies behind us, "are you the manager?!"  He gave me a look at me that suggested I had no business butting into their conversation.  "What?" he asked.  "Are you the manager?" I asked again.  "Yeah," he said, "why?"  I said "where where you when all of this happened?!"  "Where were you?!"  And then I'll never forget what he said.  "Why are you giving me the third degree?"

The third degree.  Well it was very clear right then and there that Ruthie, Ray, Husby and I were the only people in that place with an ounce of common sense, a smidgen of compassion, and a skosh of responsibility.  Apparently the manager was out making a delivery when the incident occurred.  It didn't really matter because even if he had been on the premises the situation wouldn't have played out any differently, I'm sure of that.  But still I wondered why one of his bubble-headed underlings couldn't run a delivery while he, big man on campus, ran the establishment he is paid to run.  He averted our questions like a pro.

Then came the bill for our food.  While we were assured the bill would be separated for each couple when we placed our orders, it was, surprise surprise, not separated at all.  Husby went through the bill and circled our food and off she went once again to separate the two bills.  It still wasn't right and I owe Ruthie $8.  The waitress thinks we owe her a tip too.  She thinks wrongly.  And we think Welsch's owes little old lady a new hip.

Welsch's with the side-ways slanty floors, dopey waitresses, loud and obnoxious patrons, and defensive manager will never see the likes of us again.  It's too bad too, that pizza roll appetizer was pretty darn good. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Dive Night ~ Welsch's Big Ten Tavern, Part 1

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We'll find the most interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.  Casual attire required.  A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

Hold on to your hats, oh lovers of dives.  This one is a doozy.  So much to say in so little time I must break it up into two parts.  Let's talk about Welsch's Big Ten Tavern

What's better than "Steak Steak?"

Ray couldn't resist grabbing the uber udder on the cow in front of the Big Ten

Welsch's is right on Highway 10, a sore spot for me but a busy location nonetheless.  Apparently they've been in business since 1904 and I'm guessing back then they probably served very fine food.  Like so many places the Big Ten has been reduced to a sports bar filled with blue collars who love their happy hour.  But hey, we're doing dives, so nothing wrong with any of that.

I think they're going for the Bellagio look, but are falling very short

Today I'm just going to talk about the food we ordered.  The Big Ten has a varied menu but I think they pride themselves on their beef.  Remember, this is a sports bar.

We started out with drinks, wine for the ladies and beer for the guys.  I don't know what Ruthie thinks, but I have a sneaking suspicion the wine was watered down. 

For appetizers we ordered walleye cakes and a pizza roll.  The walleye cakes were served with what seemed to be plain tartar sauce.  They were a little dry and not very flavorful, but I'm spoiled by the walleye cakes that Giggles makes.  The pizza roll, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful.  It was like they took an entire pizza, rolled it up, and cut it into slices.  It was spicy, meaty (pepperoni) and cheesy and very delicious.

I had a little cup of clam chowder, which was very good too.

The waffle fries shown behind the soup were pretty tasty, and you can get seasoned sour cream to dip them in if you ask for it.

Entrees were of the sandwich variety all around.  I can't remember the burger Ruthie had and of course the picture will tell you nothing.  Ray ordered the prime rib melt.  I actually considered ordering the prime rib melt too, until I saw it came with American cheese.  American cheese on prime rib is like eating steamed Maine lobster with ketchup.  When I saw it was served on toast?  Plain old toast?  Well, it was just wrong and bad.  Ray said it was tasty though, so maybe I have warped preconceived notions of how prime rib should be served.

Husby had a walleye sandwich and said it was quite good.  It was huge, as a walleye sandwich should be.

I thought I'd try something completely different, something I'd never had before.  The bacon bleu cheese burger.  The burger was good, but I found I don't really care for that much bleu cheese on something that isn't a salad.  If you love that kind of thing, this burger would be right up your alley.

As I mentioned before, the waffle fries were pretty dang good, and it was reported that the onion rings were hot and crispy and plenty of them ~ made from real onions and not onion bits.  A positive report on the rings from those who had them.

Here's something interesting: I just checked out the menu on Welsch's Big Ten Tavern website and it bears a resemblance to the one we read at the tavern but there are differences. 

For the most part the food was good at the Big Ten.  So why is it I'll never go back there again?  Stay tuned.  Part two of this most exciting Dive Night will be posted on Thursday.  Be sure to join me!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Renewed, For The Most Part

Today is a new beginning.  Last week was lost in the noisy halls of a hospital and my brain was knotted with concern and worry.  All seems to be back on track now, and probably more on track than ever.  Spending so much time away from my typical life has seemed to put things into better perspective.  I have regained my vision on where my responsibilities lie and that they should not be ignored.  One of those responsibilities is the upkeep and and TLC of my own home.  It's interesting how taking care of many household duties I have pushed aside has cleared the cobwebs not only from the corners of the rooms, but also from my head.

It felt good to take time to pick up the clutter and clear away the dust.  Chunks of lint are nowhere to be seen on the rugs and carpets and the laundry basket is empty.  The rhythm of ironing is amazingly grounding and the smell of sheets dried on the outside clothesline fills up the bedroom.  Best of all (especially for Husby) I have rediscovered my motivation for cooking.

From the sounds of this you probably think I live in a dump most of the time.  Of course that isn't true no matter how bad I make it all sound.  But I'm happy to say that the need for me to be present at a hospital along with a priority placed on homekeeping really made for a lovely weekend. 

I've also been hard at work setting up the new blog, which may eventually turn into an actual website if I do things right.  I'm looking forward to a fresh start with that, and it should be less than a couple of weeks before you can see it for yourselves.  I hope when the time comes you'll join me over there.

For now I bid you a Happy Monday and hope the week goes without a hitch.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hospital

When you're feeling as bad as you ever have in your life, there is the hospital.  When you're ready to bring new life into the world, there is the hospital.  Sometimes, when you're on your way to the great beyond, there is the hospital.  The hospital serves as the transition place in so many situations. 

Most hospitals try to make a nice environment for their transients.  But really, it's all just so sterile...or not.  It's all just so technical...or touchy-feely condescending blather.  It's all so...not home.

Tubes and beepers, needles and swabs, machines of all kinds to take pictures of your insides and listen to the noises your insides make.  It's all there to make you better, to give you care, but it's just...not home.

Equipment you'd only associate with the feeble, latex glove dispensers, needle depositories, and utterly beige walls.  Who can be uplifted in an atmosphere like that?  And yet most thrive to a better level of health in that atmosphere.  Still it's just...not home.

Nothing is cozy and nothing is colorful.  The food is fine but they won't give you real butter with your bread unless you remember to ask for it specifically.  And who can remember to ask for a luxury like butter when you're attached to a monitor or intravenous medication.  Who remembers what home is when all you can think about is getting better, especially when getting better means life itself.

And those who watch and wait on stained chairs, counting hours, listening to moans, wishing and hoping with all of their might ~ today the fever will break, today the numbers go back to normal, today he'll get the comfort of home.  No, not today.  Not tomorrow.  Not even the next day. 

How could anyone bear it all without going insane?  It's the surgeon with the steady hands, the nurse who reminds you of your home town, the aide who doesn't care how wet she gets while giving you a hair wash in the shower, the doctor with the gentle manner and kind smile.  They all make it bearable because you know they have one objective in mind ~ get you as comfortable as you can be in such a foreign setting and get you well so you can have the butter on your bread, some colorful sheets on your bed, and no tubes or needles. 

The gray dissipates and the discharge papers are signed.  You're well enough.  You're wheeled out into the fresh air and colors of autumn.  You're on your way once again. 

Welcome Home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Shawl

It began last fall, my admiration of The Shawl.  Miss M. was wearing it.  She looked so classy, funky, and glamorous all at once.  I asked her if a mutual friend, Miss L., made it for her.  She said yes.

I got on Facebook and told that mutual friend, Miss L. how much I loved the shawl I saw, and how much I would love to have one for my own.  I never heard from Miss L.  I was sad.

Springtime came and I saw Miss L.  I asked if she had seen my request on her Facebook Wall.  "Wall?" she asked.  "I never look at that thing.  I'm too busy milking the cows to play around on the computer much."  So I told her about Miss M. looking so fashionable and cozy in the shawl she made and how I longed for one of my own.  Miss L. was happy that I liked her work.  She asked what colors I would like.  I said reds and browns.  She said those colors would look good on me.  Then she said she'd begin the project.

A couple of weeks ago I saw Miss L. again.  I didn't know if she had finished The Shawl as she is very busy milking the cows and has many personal things to which she attends.  I was eager to receive The Shawl, but decided to wait for her to tell me if she had finished it.  Not only did she finish it, she actually presented it to me.  She draped it over my shoulders and proceeded to take the ends and wrap them around the front of my waist and tying them in the back.  "That's how a real shawl works," she said.  Miss L. would know.

The photo does not do The Shawl justice; alas it was Husby's first time using my camera.  Truly, The Shawl is just so wonderful. 

I haven't told you the best part.  Miss L. doesn't take a trip to Michael's or The Yarn Barn to pick out some skeins in this color and that and knit up a shawl.  Oh no.  Miss L. raises the sheep and llamas.  She shears the animals.  She spins the wool into yarn.  She dyes the yarn.  And then she knits the yarn into whatever creation she wishes ~ in this case The Shawl. 

This particular shawl was made with 40% wool, 40% llama, and 20% mohair.  It is so warm and beautiful and I will treasure it forever.  And by treasure I mean use it like it was meant to be used.  And I'll think of Miss L. every time it keeps the chill off on those cold winter nights just as she said she thought of me while she made it.

The Shawl.  What a fabulous piece of art.  What a cozy way to walk into a Minnesota winter.  Thank you for sharing your talents with me Miss L.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This Week

A stroll around the neighborhood, stopping once to pet the curious dog, stopping again to chat with the neighbors.  A nice meal, BLTs with tomatoes from the garden, juicy apples, and some weird cookies that taste pretty good.  The drone of some laundry spinning, folding warm, soft towels. 

As much as I like my crafty biz there are definitely times when I need to step away.  Sometimes I have to turn off the melting pot, shoo the statistics and numbers from my mind and distract my business self with my domestic self.  And my slothy self.  This week I focus on the home.  This week I'll get the rest I need.  Ahh, I love this week. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Chateau

Husby and I spent another spectacular weekend at the Chateau St. Croix Fall Festival.  Today I offer some photographic highlights.

Despite the cool, windy, and misty/rainy weather, there were good crowds...and a few characters.

One of the things I love most about doing art shows and festivals is watching people look at what I have to offer.  I couldn't resist capturing this woman enjoying my magnet board...

In other festival news Auntie B may become a YouTube star.  Sir Todd was busy shooting footage of me modeling my new fashion and also Husby and me doing the Hand Jive while the band played the song.  Sir Todd needs to keep his camera to himself, but if it is to be my destiny to end up on YouTube I just hope Tosh.O doesn't get a hold of the footage. 

A very successful, social, and enjoyable weekend was had by all at the Chateau St. Croix.  If you missed it there will be another event at the Chateau in June.  I'll be there, will you?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Audience

Busy, busy.  Today I prepare for the ever-spectacular Chateau St. Croix Winery Fall Festival.  I've been doing this show for a number of years now and have come to know my audience.  Interesting how that happens, gaining an audience. 

There were particular people of my audience in my mind as I prepared for this show.  One reguarly returning customer begs for a chocolate-scented candle every time he visits.  He bought one from me once a couple of years back.  I don't carry chocolate-scented candles as a practice; they typically don't sell well and only receive comments like "it smells really good but it would make me want to eat a candy bar every time I lit it."  But Robert is different.  He wants the chocolate aroma around him and will actuall burn the candles.  So, for Robert I made two Fudge Brownie candles.  They won't be on the table.  They're special just for him.

Then there're those goofballs (Miss Maaren, Miss Loretta, and Mr. Todd) who always check out my magnet board to see what's new.  I'm driven to come up with at least one fresh design just for their enjoyment, whether they buy one or not.  I'm relieved to be able to offer something new for them. 

Of course the sentiment on this magnet is no reflection of how I feel about Miss Maaren, Miss Loretta, and Mr.  Todd.  But I'm pretty sure they'll get a chuckle out of it.
Of course there's Miss Kathy and her lovely family.  All I have to provide for them is a table full of free sniffs.  Her girls love to smell the candles and even have a candle collection!  I've become "The Candle Lady" to them and my booth is one of the highlights of their visit to the Chateau St. Croix Winery Fall Festival.

The audience.  As a business entity I must respect their preferences and give them what they want so I can earn a living.  As a real, live girl I have come to enjoy their presence in my life and appreciate the social spin they give my business.  Thank you, my fair audience, for keeping me on my toes and making my world a little brighter.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Showtime

Things are busy at the Auntie B's Wax World Headquarters.  This weekend is the Chateau St. Croix Fall Festival, which is one of the most fun festivals in the Midwest.  Of course Husby and I will be there with bells on. 

However, there are things to do to get ready.  If you're fairly new to doing shows or have never done a show and are interested in getting started this might give you some ideas.   Let's go through the checklist...

1) Plenty of product.  I always feel like I never bring enough; however I always bring as much as our little vehicle (SUV) will carry.  Chances are pretty good I won't sell out, and it's very nice to have plenty of items for customers to peruse even if I have to bring things home with me.

2)  Canopy.  This is really important and I would recommend, if you're doing outdoor shows more than once or twice a year, that you get a good-quality canopy.  They range from $30 on sale to $800 for a super, ultra, extravagant model (or so they say).  Mid-range canopies are sufficient.  If your budget can handle it something between $200 and $400 will last many years of outdoor festivals.

3)  Product/booth props.  I'm so lucky to have a handy Husby around to make shelving and other displays for me.  Depending on what you sell you can easily devise creative props to display your products on a budget.  Also included in props are table(s) and chair(s), any hardware needed, canopy weights and stakes, and table coverings. 

4)  Miscellaneous necessities.  This is the most important list to keep around.  Things included in this category are business cards, extra price stickers, pens, receipt book, scissors, tape, table cloth weights (or something you can clip to the clothes to keep them from flying around during windy days), snacks and drinks, bandana to wipe your brow on those hot days or a little battery-operated, hand-held fan, calculator, any necessary signage, sunscreen, a camera to get a snap of your booth to submit to juried shows or just to capture the activities of the day, a cell phone and most important, cash for change and plenty of it.  If you take credit cards make sure you have all the equipment needed for that.  When putting together the miscellaneous necessities it's a good practice to go through possible scenarios you might encounter and write down everything you'll need to accommodate the numerous situations.

5)  Manners and a smile.  At live shows most of the people are in a good mood and are there to enjoy all of the handmade items displayed by the crafters and artists.  However, once in a while an unsavory customer might wander into the booth.  Remember, their attitude is not about you or your products.  Treat them courteously and with a smile despite their biting remarks or rudeness.  Believe me, they're outnumbered by the people who will think you and your wares are fabulous.

After all the work you put into making your offerings and taking the time to make sure everything is packed, your day at the show will be like a little mini vacation.  Sit back, relax, and take in all the feedback you can from the public ~ and get paid for doing it! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Best Pet Ever

Husby and I frequently fantasize about living the dream.  "The dream" is different for everyone, but it's not uncommon for it to include a slower lifestyle.  Relaxed and carefree is plenty dreamy for me. 

There are animals included in our dream.  Goats and sheep because they're so cute.  Maybe a dog.  The thing is, I don't like the general smell of animals and I don't like to shovel poop.  Animals are also expensive and many times require one to wake up early in the morning; both of those factors are definitely not part of my dream.  However, we found something that we could both agree alpaca.

Get this ~ alpacas aren't really that expensive if you aren't planning to breed them.  They aren't very big, so we could keep one in the back yard if we could convince city officials it is a large French poodle.  Another plus for alpacas is they don't eat very much.  Just a little grass and hay with a treat that looks like gerbil food once in a while.  Because they don't eat much they don't poop much.  Big plus!  And they'll pay for themselves after the first shearing. 

I would totally get an alpaca before I'd get a goat or sheep or even a dog.  They've got the most happy little faces and they make a very cute mooing noise. 

Of course if I have a farm animal under my care I'll probably have to learn how to do things like can fruits and vegetables, homeschool my children, and refrain from shaving my legs.  I'd be another Pioneer Woman*, sans book deals and TV shows.  And I'm sans kids, so I guess I don't have to worry about being smart enough to homeschool.  And seriously, how often do I shave my legs anyway?  I'm halfway there!  I even know someone who could teach me how to spin the alpaca roving into yarn!

Who can resist the big dark eyes and darling hairdos of an alpaca?  They're so dang cute I might as well get two.

* I'm not implying that Ree Drummond doesn't shave her legs.  Well, I guess I sort of did imply it, but I have no intention of slandering the shapely legs of The Pioneer Woman by saying she doesn't shave them.  I'm sure they're lovely, shaved or not.  Make me stop talking now.

Monday, September 12, 2011


The blogging business has been on my mind a lot recently.  I find myself competing, wishing I were more popular, wishing I had things to say that more people were interested in, and then wondering why I feel that way.  Some say "write to your target audience."  Others say "write like you were talking to your sister."  Still others say "just be yourself." 

Someone I know pretty well was telling me about some ideas he had.  The more he talked, the more I was convinced he should write.  I've told him before I thought he should write, but he has never to my knowledge given it a chance.  He kept telling me about all of these ideas, expanding on this one and creating that one in the course of the conversation.  Then he stopped and said "maybe I should write this stuff on a blog."

I could only respond with "duh!"

In this world of technology we have reduced our expressions to 140 characters or less.  Texting and tweeting are the communication mode of choice it seems.  Lots of people say they resist blogging because they can't think of enough to say to fill the space.  Lots of bloggers say they resist writing books because they can't think of enough to fill the pages.  Are tweeters, Facebookers, and bloggers merely abbreviated novelists?

I wonder what would happen if more people tried their hand at writing more than a text, tweet, or Facebook status update.  And more thought-provoking, what would happen if people wrote simply for themselves without an audience present? 

A blog can be a powerful tool in the exploration of expression.  And it doesn't have to be public; it can simply be online storage for a journal ~ a private journal that no one can see.  That just begs the question, does being online force us to express ourselves differently than if we were to do so privately?

It's hard to write without thinking of who might read it someday.  It's hard to write without wondering if someone expects more than what you have to offer, and that's why I think people avoid writing to any great extent.  One-liners and links can get you lots of fans and followers, but what if we all wrote more than that, online or offline? 

Having said all of this I will probably have to take the NaNoWriMo challenge this year just to put my money where my mouth is.  Hmm, I have an idea for a story about a dead guy...

Friday, September 09, 2011

Quick And Easy

The days are still warm outside, but the mornings and evenings are quite cool by now.  Autumn is on its way.  YAY!  I love this time of year.  One of the best things about cooler temperatures (and the downright cold ones of winter) is that I can start making hot and savory foods like hearty soups and stews.  The oven can be on for hours and my hot flashes won't even mind. 

However, spring and autumn fall in a gray area.  Daytime can bring on temperatures in the 80s, so I don't really want to be working in a hot kitchen.  One of my favorite things to make this time of year is the tried and true Sloppy Joe. 

Sloppy Joes come in many varieties.  I've never gone so convenient as to buy the stuff in a can (Manwich et al) but there's a recipe I use when I'm craving a warm meal but don't want to spend the time chopping onions, peppers and celery.  Lucky for you I'm going to share it today.  And guess what?  You probably won't even need to write it down because its so easy to remember.  Here we go:

1 pound hamburger (as fat or lean as you like)
1 can chicken gumbo soup
3 Tbsp ketchup
3 Tbsp yellow mustard

Ta Da!  Yep, that's it.  Brown the hamburger, drain the fat, add the soup, ketchup and mustard and simmer for a little bit.  Quick and easy, perfect for this time of year.  Easy to make into bigger batches too.

The sides for a meal like this are easy too.  Some chips (I prefer Fritos with this meal), carrot and celery sticks, and pickles. 

For this meal I got really fancy and put out some Top The Tater, a great dip for chips and veggies.  Although I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't put it in a dish instead of having the container out there on the table.

So when you're in a hurry or are just feeling lazy, this is a great autumn meal.  The Sloppy Joe ~ a Minnesota favorite.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Dive Night ~ The Peg

Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of "dive." Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot hiding under the radar with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We'll find the most interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area.  Casual attire required.  A sip of beer or wine doesn't hurt either. 

It so happens that our Dive Night once again occurred during fair time.  Husby and I were in charge of choosing a place.  After a lot of thought we came to the conclusion that it's really difficult to choose a place at the fair simply for the fact that there is just so much good food contained in the 300 acres that make up the fairgrounds.  Most of the "restaurants" serve home cooking or your standard hamburger/hot dog fare, which is really good, but not quite what we wanted for our Dive Night adventure at the fair.  There is one place, though, that has been a fair tradition for many, especially those who work at the fair ~ vendors, ticket takers, garbage collectors, and carnies.  It has also been a tradition for my dad, who has held various positions at the State Fair for over forty-five years.  The best part about this restaurant is that it serves breakfast all day long.  Perfect!

The Peg has been around as long as I've been going to the fair, and many years before that.  It has booths and tables on the inside and "patio seating" outside for your people-watching pleasure.

Of course we got a table outside.  It was my choice to order breakfast just for something a little different at the fair.  Surprisingly the rest of the gang did the same!  I got the stack of three pancakes, a side of sausage, and chocolate milk.  The pancakes were fluffy and delicious and the sausage was plentiful.

Husby got the #3.  Eggs (over easy for him), hashbrowns, and toast.  The eggs were done perfectly according to Husby, and the hasbrowns were crispy outside and tender inside.

Ray was extremely fancy ordering the #5: steak, eggs (scrambled for him), hashbrowns and toast.  Interestingly he ordered a Mountain Dew with his "breakfast." 

Ruthie ordered a side of steak (where else could you order a "side" of steak?) and hashbrowns.  It was the most dinner-like of our breakfasts.

Most delicious!  The one thing that didn't quite work was cutting the steaks with plastic utensils.  I kept telling Ruthie to just pick it up and eat it with her fingers, but she is too lady-like.

An item of note, these steaks were No-Names, and very generously sized.  And guess what?  Each couple paid less than $20 for two meals, even those including steak!  It's one of the best deals on the fairgrounds.

If you go to the fair early in the morning you can lay a good base with a breakfast at The Peg.  Food done by cooks who really know what they're doing at a very reasonable price.  What more could you ask for?

The Peg is located on the outside of the Agriculture/Horticulture Building on the east side.  Too late to try it this year, but be sure to include it on your things-to-do-at-the-fair list for next year.  Highly recommended!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Goodbye, Again

The light is changing and the wind is shifting.  Days of stifling heat are nearly over.  I don't need a weather report, calendar, or almanac to tell me all of that.  The end of the fair brings on autumn as sure as rain and sunshine bring on a rainbow.

Goodbye to all of you I only see once a year.  It was good to see you again.

Goodbye to thrills that tickle your tummy and to food that fills it up like no other food on earth.

Goodbye to the characters city people like me rarely see up close.

There's a chill in the air left by the ghosts who blew in and out over a span of twelve days ~ a chill that will turn the leaves golden and send the birds south. 

Goodbye again, Minnesota State Fair.  You charmed me as you always do and left me wanting more.  I'll meet up with you again next year.

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