Monthly Archives: February 2014

#6 Visit 6 New Places: Wild Mountain Winery – Taylor’s Falls, MN


During our visit to Minnesota over Valentines Day, Remy surprised me with a wine tasting at Wild Mountain Winery in Taylor’s Falls, MN. It was a 50 minute drive north from Minneapolis, up a dirt road to get to the vineyard; other than the wine poles, in winter it looked no different from any other Minnesota Farm, and then we saw the tasting room!


Alan, a gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather, showed us in and poured us a glass of wine while we waited for another couple to arrive. We waited a few minutes and no one came so we began without them. They never actually showed so we ended up getting a private tasting!

We tasted at least 6 or 7 different wines, from their driest whites to their fullest reds. Alan taught us a lot about drinking wine: how to look for clarity, smell for flavor, and swish for taste. I actually enjoyed all the reds as well as the whites for a change! It was a great time.


Alan also had a game of sorts set up to guess common wine scents. He had different scents in bottles and we tried to guess what they were. We were both surprisingly awful at guessing but it was a lot of fun.

Two of the wines we tasted with food. The Frontenac came with apricots, and the port came with dark chocolate. Both great pairings. We loved those two the most and ended up buying a bottle of both!

Throughout the tasting Alan offered recommendations of other foods that were good with the wine. Many of them were meat, and it wasn’t until the end that we admitted we were vegan. Once we did, Alan admitted that he was vegetarian too! It was so unexpected and great, because then we were able to get some good wine/veggie pairings out of him as well!

All in all it was a very worthwhile trip. We learned a lot, and received a generous amount of wine for only $25 each. This even included a bottle of wine for the two of us! We recommend it to anyone up there in the frosty north or anyone visiting Minnesota.

#1 Cook: Smokey Tofu Nuggets on Toast!

Smokey Tofu Nuggets on Toast

The next pitstop on my journey through this fabulous cookbook is Smokey Tofu Nuggets on Toast. I was excited to make it because Remy (my partner) love making vegan “hot turkey and cheese” on bagels or toast in the morning. Even though I don’t miss meat or dairy, some of these old comforts still draw me in. I hoped smokey tofu toast might be a less extravagant alternative to the processed perfection I still crave.


It was a fabulous alternative, but I don’t know about less extravagant. Perhaps it’s just the wording of the cookbook, but I couldn’t find “yeast extract” anywhere! I finally googled it and discovered that Marmite is yeast extract, but it was $4.99 for a tiny container! I only bought it because a number of recipes in the cookbook call for it. It better be worth it!


2 1/2 t. soy sauce
2 t. avocado or olive oil
2 oz. smoked tofu or vegan bacon or ham
(or smoke your own tofu with liquid smoke!)
1/2 c. nondairy milk
1/2 c. rapeseed or canola oil
2 1/2 t. cider vinegar
2-4 T. potato flour
1 t. spicy brown mustard
1 T. tomato sauce
1 t. vegan bouillon
4 slices bread
1 t. yeast extract (Marmite)
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine soy sauce and avocado/olive oil in small bowl. Add tofu and mix well. Spoon into an oven pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy on the edges.

2. Heat the nondairy milk to just below the boiling point. Add rapeseed/canola oil and whisk thoroughly. Add the cider vinegar while whisking.

3. Add the potato flour, mustard, tomato sauce, and bouillon tot he milk mixture, and whisk constantly while bringing a boil.

4. Spread the yeast extract on the bread.

5. Mix the baked tofu into the cheesy milk mixture, then spread on the bread.

6. Bake the bread on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes or until gold brown and starting to bubble. Cut toast into wedges and sprinkle with black pepper.

I was still slightly dubious if the Marmite, so I made toast two ways: some with Marmite and some without.


The toast came out fantastic, but I actually found the toast with the Marmite on it to be too salty, so I won’t be a adding that next time. Remy, on the other hand, preferred the saltiness of the Marmite toast, so he ate my Marmite slices!

#23 Try 23 new physical experiences: Speed Skating


You might be noticing a theme lately, with all my roller-skating related posts, but only because I find it so fascinating! Who knew flying around a track on eight wheels would be so much fun and such a great workout?

As part if my training for the Windy City Rollers they recommend we attend one or two two on-skate practices per week outside of our league practice. I went down to one of the qualifying classes at Fleetwood, a Speed Skating class.

I arrived a little late and not knowing what to expect, I was surprised to see a mix of quad- and inline-skaters ricocheting around the track at what seemed like 50 mph! I thought, damn, how am I going to keep up with them?

Luckily they had a beginner line and I was able to keep up the pace… With the kids!
I learned a lot about skating techniques for speed, including crossing over and scooter-pushing. By the end I was able to keep up with the adults a little better. We did a lot of endurance drills too! I left feeling tired but happy. It was a lot of fun! If you have a skating rink around you see if they have a speed skate team; they’ll usually let in anyone whose willing to pay even if you’re a beginner!

#16 Engage in 16 acts of pure joy! Healing herbal oatmeal bath

Being someone who doesn’t take baths very often, I like to make them special when I do. In the past I’ve been known to sprinkle some Epsom salts into a bath along with some essential oils, and burn incense to set the mood.

Last night I not only wanted a relaxing bath, but something to help with my dry, itchy midwest-winter skin. So I looked up bath remedies for dry skin, and I discovered oatmeal baths are an age-old remedy for eczema and psoriasis as well as dry, itchy, or sunburned skin! Doctors have prescribed Aveeno colloidal oatmeal baths for just these ailments for years! Who knew, oatmeal was such a good remedy!

And it’s not just for people with dry and itchy skin. Oatmeal is also great for acneic skin, oily skin, and aging skin.

It’s just … softening. Soothing. It caresses your body and makes it feel brand new. It was heaven in the bath!

You want to bathe in it. Trust me.

How to take an oatmeal bath:

Fill a knee-high nylon or thin sock without holes with 1/2 to 1 c. of oatmeal (not quick cooking or instant). Tie tightly at the top. Place it in your warm bath, with you, and squeeze it softly every so often to release the oatmeal “water.” Before leaving the bathtub, scrub your entire body lightly with the sock. To clean: Over a trash can, turn the sock inside out and scrape all of the oatmeal off the outside, then rinse well with warm water. Wash as normal.

Option 2: grind 1/2 to 1 c. oatmeal to a powder in coffee grinder and pour directly into bath. I wouldn’t recommend putting whole oatmeal in the tub, it can clog the drain or jacuzzi jets.

#21 Try 21 new restaurants: Maoz Vegetarian

~~~~~ 2/21 ~~~~~


This might be considered cheating, I’m not sure… I might have been to this restaurant before… Once… Or twice… Or five times, in Amsterdam.

On our honeymoon my partner and I enjoyed this tasty falafel stand any chance we could. They offer a ton of toppings to choose from: hummus, olives, pickles, tabouli, lettuce, cabbage, pickled vegetables, spicy onions, tahini, and garlic sauce. They’re sort of like the Subway of falafel joints.


This is one of the first Maoz’s to open in the US, and we had to give it a try. I got a pita sandwich and Remy got a falafel sandwich! The main difference between this Maoz and the ones we ate at in Amsterdam was that the topping bar was buffet style in Amsterdam, and it was behind glass at this one. Perhaps that’s just because we weren’t a. Mall food court! It was delicious and generous portions nonetheless!
A- for taste
A+ for price!


#11 Visit 11 museums / #21 Try 21 new restaurants

~~~~~ 1/11 ~~~~~
~~~~~ 1/21 ~~~~~

My mom and grandma came to visit for a couple days, and I knocked two goals off my list!

First we visited a new restaurant called Green Zebra. Not this green zebra!
This Green Zebra!
Named after the heirloom tomato, Green Zebra was named the number 7 all-vegetarian restaurant in the US last year. They serve modern Italian food on small plates, which does a wonderful job of promoting conversation.
My mom and grandma – both excellent cooks – we’re delighted by the complexity of flavors and creative presentations. The only thing my grandma didn’t like was the curry; it was much too spicy for a second generation Norwegian. I on the other hand thought the curry was the best dish of the night! Spicy but not overpowering, with a richness you wouldn’t expect from a vegan curry.
Plate after plate was piled upon our table, until we were all bursting! We tried almost everything and there were many standouts: dreamy acorn squash dumplings with soy caramel, carrot sesame purée, and watermelon radish; heirloom beet salad with chestnut espuma, frisée and sherry vinaigrette; pearled barley “risotto” with winter pistou, broccoli, capers and molasses; and white chocolate cranberry mousse. Since I work here, the chef sent out an extra dish (on the house!) almost every course. The head chef is not only talented, he’s one of the nicest guys I’ve met. Needless to say we were stuffed to bursting by the end. Anyone who doesn’t think they can get full on vegetarian food should bring that challenge to Green Zebra.

Price is $$


Next we spent a wonderful afternoon at the Field Museum!
I have been to the Field Museum on one other occasion and both times I left feeling there was so more the explore! You could spend a year getting lost in there.
We loved every exhibit we got the chance to see. The Evolving Planet…
The Ancient Americas…
The Hall of Gems…
The Hall of Jade…