Where It All Began

We just got into Northfield, Minnesota on the first leg of our road trip out to Gardiner, Montana to get hitched.  It’s where we met and started dating.  And on the drive back last summer we decided to get married.

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Kelsi finished day two of the Indiana Bar exam on Wednesday.  It was eight hours a day of hand written essays or multiple choice.  Due warning for any prospective lawyers.  Need less to say, she needed some pretty drastic therapy.  We started with the famous St. Elmo’s shrimp cocktail (we both loved it and HIGHLY recommend it if you ever get the chance…especially if you really like horseradish) and some wine, had some retail therapy, and went to dinner with some friends in Indianapolis, and then headed back to Lafayette to pack for Montana.

We woke up this morning, packed and closed up our apartment.  In keeping with tradition, we piled into a packed Jetta, and hit the road. When we left Montana last summer, the Jetta was full to the brim and had stuffed strapped on top. Whoever was riding shotgun had to crawl over my kayak paddle and snowboard just to get out of the car. We’re not quite as packed this trip, but Kelsi is worried about how smushed her wedding dress is in the back of the car.

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My sisters go to college in Northfield, at rival colleges, and Kelsi had never been to Minnesota so we were looking forward to the drive. It was much prettier than Kelsi had anticipated and she couldn’t stop commenting on how cute every little thing was in Northfield. We enjoyed dinner overlooking the river downtown and had a couple of drinks before walking around Carlton College campus at night, then promptly hitting the hay. The next morning, it was coffee at a local coffee shop, gluten free baked goods from my sister, and a walk around St. Olaf College before hitting the road again.

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North Dakota nothing

Today is a little more weary than yesterday and deciding to drive through North Dakota probably didn’t help.  Neither of us had ever ever been to North Dakota and since we decided to get married while during through South Dakota on our way to Indiana from Montana last summer, we thought it was best not to jinx things by taking the same road on the way to Montana to get married this summer.

North Dakota, as you may not be surprised is pretty dull and unpopulated. But it did give us time for a good philosophy discussion and helped us appreciate the views we did get. We’re expecting to make Red Lodge, Montana tonight, where we’ll camp for the evening. Tomorrow is one of the 100 most beautiful drives in the world: the Beartooth Highway. We should be in Gardiner, MT early tomorrow afternoon and can’t wait to see everyone.

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Thai Time

Thai night

A couple nights ago, we had Thai night.  A lot of people are nervous to do a thai curry, but its actually really easy.  For the curry, you just need coconut milk, curry paste, and whatever sounds like it will be good.  Its easy, quick, you can use what you laying around, and it freezes really well.  I always make a big batch and freeze what I didn’t eat in individual bags.  Here’s what I used for our curry on thai night.

Red Curry

Red Curry

  • 2 cans light coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1 lb shredded, cooked chicken
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 chile peppers
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can bamboo shoots (drained)
  • 1 can bean sprouts (drained)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 sprigs diced thai basil

Chop the vegetables coarsely and saute.  Once they are cooked but not soggy, push to one side of the pan and pour in coconut milk.  Mix in curry paste.  Stir vegetables into curry.  Add chicken, peanut butter, basil, and sugar.  Simmer lightly and serve over basmati rice.

For a side, we had green beans that we need to use.  I tired looking up Thai green bean recipes, but all needed oyster sauce or another odd spice/ sauce that we didn’t have in our limited kitchen.  I took a few ingredients from a number of recipes and added some of my own.  It was a bit of a leap of faith, but they turned out great.  I will definitely make this recipe again.

Thai Green Beans

Thai Green Beans

  • 1/2 lb green beans, washed with ends removed
  • 1 tbsp red wine
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • Sesame seeds

Saute the green beans in olive oil over a medium heat.  Mix wine, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce in bowl.  Once the green beans have begun to cook, pour the sauce over them.  Saute until the beans are soft with a slight crunch on the outside.  Top with peanuts and sesame seeds and enjoy.

Hopefully this will inspire a culinary venture into southeast Asia.

Thai grub

 

Fun Music

Music can be serious.  It can be complicated.  It can ask complex questions.  It can be dark.  It can be sad.  It can be innumerable things that evoke the strongest of human emotions.  But often, in this complexity we fail to recognize that music can be fun.

Its summer.  Which means of all times, its time to listen to music that makes you want to dance.  Music that makes you smile.  Music that is fun.  So here is some fun music.  Try not to smile and dance.

Kishi Bashi performed with bands like of Montreal and Regina Spektor before releasing an EP in 2011 and his first album 151a this year.  The hole album is light and fun.  I music critic said in 6 months this song will be on commercials making you want to buy new shiny things.  But until then, enjoy it for what it is.

The only thing I know about Icona Pop is that they are Sweden.  Enough for me.

The Very Best is a duo.  Its a Somalian and a Canadian.  The guest singer in this song, from their upcoming album MTMTMK is the Somalian artist K’Naan.

We OK

White Sangria

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White sangria

To go along with Spanish night, I made a white sangria.  As the name suggests, it uses white wine instead of red as well as some orange juice, brandy, and club soda.  It is lighter and more refreshing than a normal sangria, making it perfect for a summer Spanish meal.  I used this recipe, except I used triple sec because I don’t have Cointreau and threw in some blackberries because I love the alcohol infused fruit at the bottom of any drink.  So the next time its 100 degrees, its Spanish night, you have a cocktail party, or you just want a drink, try some white sangria.

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The fixin’s

White Sangria

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 125 ml brandy
  • 65 ml triple sec
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 125ml orange juice
  • 125ml club soda
  • 1 medium sliced orange
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 1/4 cup blackberries

Summery Spanish Night

Last night was Spanish night in the Chauncey Hill Estate.  Which meant turning on an oven that pumps more heat into the kitchen than into the food.  But alas, we survived and wound up with a summery Spanish meal.

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Spanish Summer Dinner

Naturally we started with drinks, which was a white sangria.  Its lighter and works better in the summer heat than normal sangria, which is saying a lot.  But, the recipe, and a full report on the drink will be saved for a later post.  Onwards to tapas.

One thing I always remember about the food in Spain was the abundance of seafood in everything, especially the unexpected.  I was wary of any fresh sea food from the Wabash river, so I went with tuna.  I made two tapas with tuna.  The first was deviled eggs with tuna.  I used this recipe for Tuna Deviled Eggs, which turned out well.  The onion and smoked paprika added some extra flavor to a normal deviled egg.

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Huevos rellanos con atun

The other tapas I made from combining a number of recipes, adding a few things, and experimenting with vegetables. They were tuna stuffed tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms (don’t worry, the main course did not have tuna in it, or even meat).  Most of the vegetables came from the balcony garden, so I just made the filling and put it in whatever I had that was ripe.  The tomatoes were good, the mushrooms were great, and there may have been a small fight over the last banana pepper.

Tuna Stuffed Vegetables

Serves 6 (I made half)

Filling

  • 1 can drained tuna
  • 3 tbsp mayonaise
  • 1/3 cup parmesan, romano, or asiago cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • Salt and pepper

Mix everything for the filling together.  Prepare whatever vegetables you have chosen (wash and remove stems on mushrooms, deseed and splay peppers, cut tomatoes, etc).  Put filling inside and then bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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Tuna stuffed vegetables

And now to the main dish, a Zucchini Summer Paella.  We got it from a site Kelsi avidly follows called Naturally Ella.  We mixed the zucchini with summer squash, but other than that we followed the recipe pretty closely.  Unlike a traditional paella, she uses turmeric and smoked paprika instead of saffron.  This gives it a spicier, smokey flavor than saffron and saves some money.  And, it just looks so pretty when its done.

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Zucchini and summer squash paella

Hopefully this gets everyone something to work with if one night you feel like going south of the border (the French border that is).  Buen provecho!

The Frisco

Let me start by saying there are changes coming to the blog.  Lets start with regular posts, which I in particular have faulted on recently.  Also, there is a new category that will get periodic updates.  Cocktail Hour.

My summer office

Kelsi has been diligently studying for the bar.  I have been studying a different type of bar.  There have been a few recent experiments, most of which have turned out well, but I figured I would open with a classic.  At least for me.  I discovered the Frisco from a New York Times article a few years ago.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/29/dining/29tipsy.html?pagewanted=all

It has since been a reliable way to end any day or start any evening. And the recipe is

The fixings


Frisco

2 oz. bourbon or rye whiskey

1/2 oz. Benedictine

1/2 oz. lemon juice

It was one of the original cocktails at the turn of the century but never regained popularity after prohibition ended.  So here’s to bringing it back.  Its light, summery, and perfectly balanced.  Did I mention it’s delicious?  Enjoy.

The reward

M.I.A

My life lately has pretty much looked like the above scene from “How I Met Your Mother.” Yes, random singing included.

It’s pretty dull.

I’m taking the Indiana Bar Exam in two weeks and it will determine whether I’m admitted to practice law in the state. Kind of a big deal.

Please excuse my recent absence. Studying has my full attention.

Paul, in the meantime, has been doing last minute wedding plans, honeymoon planning, working, and generally taking care of me while I study (including cleaning, cooking, laundry, and tending to the apartment garden. He’s kinda great).

The bar is a 2 day exam and as soon as its over, Paul and I plan on celebrating with a few friends, packing our bags, then beginning the drive to Montana the next day. 10 days later, we’ll be getting married! Thanks for your patience.

Expect a few random posts from Paul in the next couple of weeks, but, again, please excuse our absence. We’ll be sure to fully update you on our upcoming adventures of road trips, Montana, wedding, and honeymoon in Iceland!