Tag Archives: farmers market

Cooking, Running & Things I’m Lovin’


What is this blog coming to?!

Most of my posts lately have been about the imbibing I’ve done this summer. Well, that’s not all I’ve been doing! This blog has kind of evolved into a record of where we eat, drink and travel. It really helps us remember what we loved {or hated} and what we’d like to try or do next time when we return.

Yet, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking of beef or pork dishes from our Recipe Arsenal during the week.

In addition, if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you may remember that when my husband goes out of town, I start to cook up a storm! And most often, I’m making all of the dishes that Rob cannot have!

I had two long weekends back-to-back when Rob was gone and had a lot of dishes I wanted to action!


What I’m Loving Right Now!

First off, I need to give a shout out to my new favorite brew. No, it’s not beer. It’s cold press coffee! I’m a little late to the cold press game. A few years ago I tried an Iced Americano. Despite my love of the original, I learned that I did not like cold coffee at all, which is what I thought cold press was!

It is not the same.

To make cold press coffee, grounds are steeped in cold water for at least twelve hours. After filtering the result is something much smoother than regular coffee!

I discovered Chameleon Cold-Brew on my ibotta app: 


The ibotta app offers rebates on specific items {including items you already buy like milk, bread, eggs and produce}! The rebate was $2 for the Chameleon Cold-Brew and the item was on sale at Target. Not only was that a win; but I also fell in love with it. It did wonders on the those humid weekend mornings we had a few weeks back!

Something else I fell in love with over those weekends? This Roasted Garlic Parmesan Shrimp {now in my recipe arsenal!} aka Death Row Shrimp. After making these shrimp, I decided that there must be a bag of shrimp in my freezer at all times.

My life has been changed.



On those Saturday mornings while the cat was away, I got some long runs in. I haven’t talked a lot about running lately on my blog. That’s because I haven’t been doing races or working toward any particular running goals. I’d like to think I’m practicing Intuitive Running. I think I just made that up.

What I mean is that after my back surgery, it took me a lot longer than expected to run comfortably again. So instead of trying to achieve a goal or new PR, I just run the way it feels right on that particular day. I generally stick to shorter, faster {for me!} runs during the week and do a 5k on Saturdays. If something is feeling off, I walk instead. I don’t want anything to set me back like that back pain and back surgery. I am grateful I can run now and know that I’m still benefiting if I stop to walk!



After my Saturday morning 5k during those weekends Rob was out of town, I’d walk down to the local Farmers Market and get a haul of goodies:


I just might start munching on those cucumbers right away…


And my pooches just might beg for those cucumbers right away while I’m munching!


All that zucchini had me desperate to try to make this Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup. After some chopping, into the pot it went.IMG_3918 (1)

It came out a little less silky then I’d hoped; but maybe I can just use less water next time.

IMG_3921 (1)

There is a really nice hint of spice here. But it still had me questioning how Melissa can possibly eat it for breakfast. I decided to give it a shot one morning with my other array of beverages!


Magic Green Smoothie, Ice Water, Hot Lemon Water, Chameleon Cold Press Coffee, Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

It really did work! And it’s very filling, despite the little calories a small bowl contains.

Another morning, I attempted to make Cloud Bread for the first time. This is a “bread” made of eggs, cream cheese and cream of tartar. I was warned that it’s not exactly like real bread.


I also read that it could be crumbly if you eat them the same day, even after cooling. The trick is to put them in a ziplock bag and they will stiffen up overnight. It did look like nice toasted bread, though. {Note: I added chives!}


However, it did taste pretty egg-y. This might matter if you are using cloud bread as hamburger buns. This didn’t matter so much with my morning eggs!

The next morning, I made one of my favorite 90 Second Egg Sandwiches with the Cloud Bread. Still tasted Just Fine.


I did freeze one piece of Cloud Bread and tried to toast it the following weekend; but I wasn’t paying attention and it sort of burned. For the effort, I’m not sure I’d make Cloud Bread again.

In other breakfast news…

I also learned that this Gluten-Free Breakfast Casserole freezes really, really well. I made it a few weeks ago when I was having the girls over for brunch. I had so much leftover that I attempted to freeze it. It worked! It was an easy go-to breakfast during the work week. I would totally bring this dish for a work lunch, too!

Speaking of lunches…

My farmers market hauls aided me in using up other items in my freezer and pantry to make some scrumptious salads, like my fave Big Mac Salad and this random chicken salad:


Another day, for lunch, I made a double batch of a favorite of mine – Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves –  so that I could freeze a few for future lunches!


That side of green beans was made with this seasoning that I once received from a Foodie Penpal:


Yum! is the verdict on that one. I made a few other random things, too, like these Hot Fudge Brownie Larabars.

Yes, the mix looked like fertilizer:


And I’ll spare you the photo of what they looked like after I formed them into bars {or, with my talent, oblong shapes}. I’m sure you can picture that one for yourself.

I also made a few of my own spice blends. I was out of Italian Seasoning, which was needed to make my Homemade Italian Breadcrumbs, which were needed in my Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves, so I made an easy version.

Which got me to thinking, I really needed to somehow replace the Pampered Chef Rosemary Herb Seasoning I like to put on my popcorn, now that it is discontinued. I found a few recipes online and tried this version. Verdict? Not exactly the same, but still very good. It’ll do!

Rosemary Herb Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. dried grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano crushed
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

I omitted the dried grated lemon peel because I didn’t have it.

And lastly, after another Farmers Market haul the following weekend…


I made my first ever Homemade Vegetable Broth based on this and this recipe.

I now have several cups of low-sodium frozen vegetable broth in my freezer! In fact, this past weekend, I’ve filled up our entire freezer with lots of meats and crockpot-ready meals for this fall.

What I didn’t have time for, but wish I did was to make a batch of this flavorful homemade chorizo {it has been a while!}. I also want to take a shot at making this homemade merguez.

What are your favorite things to cook when you have extra time?

What things do you like to cook for yourself when you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s likes or dietary constraints?

What do you stock in your freezer?





The End of Summer?


Although I don’t have kids of my own, this time of year kind of feels like the end of summer for me. I have teacher friends going back to work. I see kids at bus stops and school buses on my way to work. And with Facebook these days, I see the first-day-of-school pics of all of my friends’ kids.

As a child, I loved this time of year! The excitement for what the year had in store, the smell of new erasers, the opportunity to wear new clothes. I’ll readily confess that I’d sometimes wear my new fall clothes just because there were new… Even if that last week of August was too hot for a long-sleeved shirt. 😉

However, as an adult today, I’m enjoying every bit of summer and trying to make it last as long as possible. This past extra loooooong winter we had this year really did me in. But it made me really appreciate summer this year. I do love fall, too. But I think, for the first time in my life, I’m trying to eat up and savor every slice of summer that I can.

With that, I’d like to round-up the last of my summer Michigan adventures. Maybe feeling like a kid again this trip made me more grateful for summer than ever. It brought out the simple happiness inside me. If only I could freeze time to capture that feeling forever…


Speaking of frozen in time…

Sometimes, when we go to Gladwin, I feel like we are frozen in time… perhaps the 80s.

For example, $1.50 beers…

We stopped at that bowling alley not to bowl, but for a pre-dinner beer. We didn’t know it, but it was Happy Hour. The bill came to $3. Seriously. I even ordered a Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. My choices were not limited Budweiser and Miller Light! When’s the last time you got a deal like that?

Candy Cigarettes

80'sI didn’t even know they made these any more!

Technology {or lack thereof}…

Here, we rarely see people playing around on their smartphones in public. The employees at the local Country Corner Bulk Foods couldn’t be on the phone while running a credit card because the machine shared the same phone line. And I noticed that they use a spiral notebook to keep their inventory. Many restaurants don’t have an online presence or post their menus online.

Which reminds me, it’s time to post the menus of this little coffee shop:

NE3I seriously just noticed that this place is called Northern Expresso. All this time, I thought it was Northern Espresso. That’s even how I posted about it last year

Anyway, I don’t know why I always have trouble deciding what to order here. And as I type this right now, I’m wondering why I don’t get my usual Americano. Did I order that once several years ago and find that I didn’t like the way they made it? I keep trying new, fun espresso drinks and they are usually too sweet for me. That’s even when I add an extra shot of espresso.

The trouble is in the decision-making. Before I know it, I’m at the front of the line and they are waiting for my order. On our last visit, I found a stack of these to-go paper menus on the counter:

NE Menu 1I’m keeping it in my car. Next time, I can peruse all of these options and decide in advance:

NE Menu 2My guess is that I should have a few ideas in mind, just in case they are out of something.

I mean, look at all of the flavors!

Northern Espresso menu

And of course, here is the menu listed in the Gladwin Buyers Guide:

(Click once to enlarge and then click once again to zoom in.)


Still, there’s something refreshing about leaving all of that technology behind – simpler times. That’s sometimes why Rob and I take an unplugged day on a weekend. We come out of it happier and refreshed. I know we will continue to do that whether it’s summer or not. Yes, some dreary days are meant for watching movies under the covers. But a good book will do nicely, too.

Still, one thing’s for sure. I’m stretching summer as long as I can. I am going to make a point of going outside and doing something every nice day that we have left this year. As fall arrives, I surely will miss walking every Saturday to the Farmers Market. It’s something I like to do on vacation, too:


Gladwin, Michigan Farmers Market

But once fall has set in, I’ll open the windows, get under the down comforter, and breathe in that cool, brisk autumn air. I will dig out the things that I find most comfy {that one’s for you, Rob!} to enjoy sweatshirt weather. I’ll get geared up for Football Season. Then, I’ll put out all of my favorite colorful scarves to try to find something position to settle in as the colder weather approaches. But for now, let me bask in the sun or run in the rain. I’m taking it all in…

What marks the end of summer for you?

Don’t forget to comment on this past Wine Wednesday post to enter to win a Wine Bible!

Giveaway closes on Tues 9/10/13 at 12:01am CST.


Farmers’ Market Find: Ground Cherries


This year, we decided to skip the weekly CSA box. While I love everything a CSA stands for and loved getting fresh, organic foods, there are a few reasons why we decided to take the year off.

  1. The price went up. Now, the CSA wasn’t a bad deal to begin with, but you’ll see why it doesn’t make sense for us in the next point.
  2. The shares are too big. We split our share with a friend last year and it was still too much food. Some of the food went uneaten and spoiled. I did, however, like the challenge of trying to use everything up by the week’s end.
  3. The smaller shares they offered last year were not available this year. I may have considered that option otherwise.
  4. We didn’t always like everything that came in the box. Although I loved to try new-to-me produce!
  5. We can walk to our local Farmers’ Market!
  6. Our Farmers’ Market is a Division of the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, which means that everything sold must be local – within a limited radius of St. Paul, MN.

So every Saturday this summer, we’ve been walking to our local Farmers’ Market.  {Although, with Rob’s knee injury we had to drive last weekend. I may be walking down by myself for a few weeks.}

What’s great about the Farmers’ Market is that we can select what we know we like and will be able to eat that week. Last weekend, we bought:

  • Mixed Greens
  • Cucumbers (for me!)
  • Tomatoes (for me!)
  • Chinese Broccoli {I had intended to  attempt to make Pad See-Iew.}
  • Sweet Corn
  • Onions
  • Green Onions
  • And these beautiful radishes!

Aren’t they gorgeous?

Rob doesn’t like radishes. But I sliced them up and put them on my salads all week. I love their color, crunch and slightly bracing zest of flavor. How much did they cost? $1. And only half of them are shown here.

We also discovered something new…

Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries!

I asked what they were and I was encouraged to try a sample. The woman described them as like a tomato, but sweeter. She opened the husk and showed me that the fruit inside. I took a bite. Wow! I wasn’t sure what to think. They were so… different.

She said that they can be eaten raw, are often added to salads and are great for making salsa. I bought some. And I even made Rob try one when we got home. He was apprehensive because he is not a fan of raw tomatoes. But they don’t exactly taste like tomatoes. Sure, they remind you of a tomato once you pop the fruit from the husk. And the husk itself, surrounding the fruit, is reminiscent of that of a tomatillo.

Ground Cherries 3

But when you take a bite, the flavor is unique. And the texture is a bit different, too. Just check out the middle:

Ground Cherries 2

I put them in the fridge when I got home and kind of forgot about them. When I found them later in the week, I sat down and ate almost the whole bag as a snack – only about 74 calories for a whole cup! They are a fruit that you can’t eat too fast, because you have to peel the husk off of each one before popping it into your mouth. That way, you eat them more slowly.

Yesterday, I had them in a salad. {Husks removed beforehand, of course!} They were the perfect addition in terms of flavor. The only trouble I had was stabbing them with my fork. One even popped right out of my bowl. Those little suckers. Get into my belly already!

I also read that they are a good cereal topper like so many other fruits. So I added a few to my granola and milk yesterday morning as well. They complemented each other well in terms of texture and flavor. I’ve also seen recipes for pies and cupcakes using ground cherries. I’ve even seen a picture of them chocolate-dipped!

So what do they taste like?

Some websites I’ve read describe them as tasting like a pineapple or a strawberry. Uh, no, not really. And those aren’t even similar fruits, so I found that to be a weird descriptor. I think you are going to just have to give them a try for yourself!

Oh. And Rob even liked them!

I am going to make it a point to try to get something new at each Farmers’ Market we visit. You know how I love to do that!

What produce have you recently tried for the first time?