Category Archives: Motocross

New Year Resolutions

I have made New Year resolutions for the past two years (2015 and 2016) and just made my resolutions for 2017 as well.

My resolution for 2015 was to eat more cake.  And I did.  I ate lots and lots of cake.  I don’t think anyone needs an excuse to eat more cake, but my reasoning behind this resolution was to enjoy food more and worry about it less.  “Eating more cake” packaged those desires into a nice, simple resolution which I could easily share with people.  I wanted to enjoy food more and worry less, because I wasn’t enjoying food as much as I usually do and I was worrying about eating a lot.  After moving to Australia in 2014, I started gaining weight due to a combination of factors, and I struggled to deal with and accept that weight gain.  I struggled a lot.  I started to feel very negatively about my body all the time, and that effected how I felt about food and how I ate.  Then some of my past disordered eating habits started to resurface.  So my resolution for 2015 was really an extension of my efforts to accept my body and be happy with it and in it and to not worry and stress so much about food.

I wish I could say it is all now better after my year of eating cake.  I successfully ate a lot of cake and enjoyed a lot of it without worry, but I am still endlessly struggling against a society that tells me my primary value is how attractive I appear and that a failure to exercise enough/diet enough/stay skinny enough/whatever enough is actually a moral failure on my part.  But reminding myself every day that I am not here to be beautiful and that every body deserves to be treated with dignity (and to cake) is helping.  I am gaining weight again right now, and though I am still struggling to accept and be happy with my changing body, it is less of a burden this time.  As it will be less of a burden the time after that.  As it will be less of a burden on our future generations.  Until it is no burden at all.

It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful.  I am not alive for that purpose.  My existence is not about how desirable you find me. ~Warsan Shire

I made three resolutions for 2016.  Like in 2015, the resolutions were simple goals motivated by larger ideals.  The first was to have more meal outside; the second was to use candles at dinner more; and the third was to wear bras less.

Wanting to be outside is a desire I’ve gradually developed, and developed rather recently.  I didn’t spend much time out doors growing up.  Really, I didn’t spend much time out doors until I met Pretty Boy.  After meeting him, I became a moto partner and started camping when we’d travel to races.  And then we started traveling on vacation together, and we found that hiking was a holiday activity that neither of us independently sought out, but together, it was the perfect compromise between his love of exploring and my ability to slow-walk forever.  And through camping and hiking, I found I really liked being in nature and the out doors.  The desire to be outside has been further bolstered, because eating outside and enjoying the out door in general is so much a part of life in Australia.

So I wanted 2016 to be the year I stretched beyond my default two out door activities, moto camping and travel hiking.  I wanted the out doors (both urban and wilderness out doors) to be part of our day-to-day lives.  I still fear the cold and the bug bites so much, and probably always will, so I haven’t succeed in making the out doors part of our day-to-day lives as much as I would have liked, but I’ve pushed myself some and enjoyed it almost completely.  Some examples: we spent several evenings last summer on the futon under the bug net in our courtyard because it was just too hot to stay inside our brick townhouse.  We planned more holidays focused on hiking and visiting wilderness locations and being outside.  And biggest of all I think for me, we went on a camping road trip, where we camped out of Pretty Boy’s work truck along the Great Ocean Road for five consecutive nights.  I make these resolutions as goals to enact for the year, but ways of living to maintain for as long as they fit.  I hope to keep working on this one and find the right level of out-doors-iness for our lives.

The resolution to use candles at dinner had a simpler motivation:  I wanted to celebrate more, make mealtimes an occasion.  Interestingly enough, I succeed in the motivation though not in the actual resolution.  We burned candles at dinner a few times early in 2016 when it was just me and Pretty Boy, but the resolution petered out.  2016 did however become our year of meal parties.  We hosted a number of dinners and brunches and get-togethers at our place this year, with more people than I’d ever cooked for before (and more people than we actually have chairs and flatware to accommodate) and more foods I’d never tried making before.  Its been great.  I love hosting and being in the company of friends in the comfort of my own home.  I’ve learned a lot about how much I love our house here, what I like about hosting, and how much me and Pretty Boy can reasonably accomplish before we have people over, especially when it involves large numbers of people.  And the focus, the important part, was always the people and the food.  Not how pretty the table was (with or without candles), not pictures or how instagram-able the meals were.  I’m calling it a successful resolution and hoping for many more successful party meals to come.

Wearing bras less was the easiest and most-completely implemented resolution.  And that surprised me.  I made the resolution tentative:  I wanted to wear bras less, rather than something more resolute, like stop wearing them all together, because I anticipated it would be a challenge.  But almost immediately after I resolved to wear bras less, I stopped wearing them almost all together and now only wear a bra for very infrequent reasons.  I never realized how uncomfortable bras were for me, and if I wear one now since giving them up, I find it so uncomfortable that I feel validated in my decision to stop wearing them.  It started as a push back at all the way society tells women how they should look, what they should want, and what they need to be women.  Now, though, it is as much about comfort and saving money as pushing back.

I used to wear bras because I thought my boobs were “funny” shaped and too small, and because I thought bras made my clothes fit and look better.  And that reasoning persisted until I read a series of articles about going braless, and I really thought about my reasoning, really thought about the judgments and view I was supporting by wearing bras for those reasons.  I realized my boobs are not “funny” shaped by any measure I care to judge them by and my desired look and fit of my clothes is no longer the same as conventional figure flattery.  I don’t want to have excessively round and protuberant boobs that are the focus of my shirts and dresses, which I feel is what the majority of bras and women’s clothing is striving for.  I want more gender neutral clothing that does’t highlight my body in any manner (sexual or otherwise—see above Warsan Shire quote), and I want to be comfortable.  Not wearing bras supported both of those desires.

The one true thing I’ve always know about my boobs that is still true today is that they are small.  And on the very, very far end of small.  As in, I have to search and search and search for bras that actually fit me, because I’m a small AA or smaller.  For reference, that’s three sizes smaller (small AA, AA, A, B) than the smallest cup size typically offered for fashion bras (B).  If I find a bra that fits, and I like the style/color/cut, and it isn’t ridiculously padded (because yes, there are small breasted women who don’t want to make their boobs look bigger), I definitely won’t like the price.  As a result I have a few very expensive bras and several more ill-fitting bras.  I was delighted to find I could be more comfortable and save money by not chasing after affordable, well-fitting bras.

The biggest hurdle has been getting over my fear of being confronted and accused of being indecent.  I don’t think I’m being indecent. at. all.  And I have a good response at the ready if I ever do get confronted: guys wear tight or short shorts here all the time and if one doesn’t want to see their crotch-bulge, one averts one’s eyes.  If one can’t avert one’s eyes, that’s their problem and they don’t demand the guy changes his clothes.  The same logic should apply to me.  But I haven’t been confronted.  No one’s mentioned anything about it to me at all.  I haven’t even caught anyone staring.  Nothing negative has happened, only positives.  And as time goes on, I keep getting more confident and less fearful of getting confronted about it.

I do recognize how privileged I am to be able to make the choice not to wear bras: I don’t need the support of a bra for comfort (athletic or otherwise); my preferential style and desired presentation help “camouflage” the fact that I don’t wear bras, making it less confrontational; I have conventionally-attractive-privilege and thin-privilege so I can get away with more unconventional presentation choices.  But it is a choice I make for me, its the right choice for me, and I’m grateful I have the privilege to make it.

After a bit of thinking and inspiration in response to the current state of the world as I see it, I’ve decided on my 2017 resolutions.  My resolutions for 2017 are to 1) go to bed earlier (even if that means compromising what and how often we cook at home) and 2) read one book a month, particularly about domestic or international politics or history, in a digital format.

I’ve been exhausted for the last 4 months, and it has to stop.  I’ve been motivated and working on my research; I’ve been feeling social and ambitious cooking at home; I’ve been traveling.   The combination of those activities is really effecting my sleep and its unsustainable.  I feel the decline in my motivation and desire to be social, so I want to recommit to taking care of myself.  I know I need more sleep than average to function, so I want to prioritize getting enough sleep in 2017, and prioritize it over saving money on food and eating healthier food by cooking at home and mostly from scratch, since I have prioritizing those two things very highly since moving to Australia, often to the detriment of my sleep schedule.

For my second resolution, I haven’t picked the books yet, but the Guardian’s list of non-western books that every student should read and the Wired-reported list of President Obama’s essential reads are going to be my starting point.  I enjoy reading non-fiction and have read a lot of non-fiction at different points in my adult life, but I want to do so now, with a clearer intention: broadening my view and understanding of the world.  I want to learn about view points different from mine and about history that I am most unfamiliar with.  I want feel more prepared and educated to take on more influential roles and positions, personally and professionally, in the future.  Or even just to have conversions about global issues.  I want to be prepared to act in those potential future roles in an educated manner with the goal of making the world around me better.  And not just better how I think society should be better, but research-supported, fact-based better.  I also have an undying love of print that is at odds with my desire to reduce waste.  Hence, digital.  I actually fear that might be the hardest part of it all.

Do more better. ~Tim Challies

Using reason and evidence to do the most good. ~Effective Altruism

Intentionality is something I value very highly.  I try to do as many things in my life with thought-through intention as I can, but it takes a lot of information and knowledge and self-awareness to act intentionally.  I am trying, as always, to further my knowledge and self-awareness.  And with my resolutions, past and present, I try to reinforce those goals.

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Thanksgiving in June

Christmas in July is a thing.  Especially, it seems, in some parts of Australia.  And it makes sense to me:  July is the Winter in the southern hemisphere and winter has always been so strongly tied to Christmas.

So we Americans thought, if its Christmas in July, then it should probably be Thanksgiving in June too!  Once Pretty Boy and I committed to Thanksgiving in June being a thing, we committed and decided to throw a Thanksgiving dinner.  We wanted to do a very traditional Northern Thanksgiving for 8, so this is the menu we came up with:

We started preparing Wednesday for dinner Saturday night.  I had the whole thing scheduled – empty fridge then most of the shopping Wednesday plus some early kitchen prep work like washing and chopping vegetables and roasting pumpkin, the rest of the prep work Thursday and Friday night so getting the turkey in the brine and making pie crust, oven and stove schedule for Saturday to make sure everything got in (oven: 8am pies, 10 am turkey, 2 pm casserole and stuffing, and rolls just before dinnertime; stove: 7:30 am bourbon pecan pie filling, 10 am cranberry conserve, 1 pm mashed potatoes, 2 pm gravy), and last minute shopping Saturday before dinner.  Pretty Boy ran out to get more cream, the bakery rolls, and cutlery.  He decided last minute that our plastic stuff wasn’t going to cut it.  Since we only have cutlery for 4, that meant buying another set of 4.

Fridge, pre-shopping

Fridge, pre-shopping.  Emptied and prepared for Thanksgiving madness.

Fridge, post-shopping

Fridge, post-shopping and after prep work had started.  I used all the bowls!

Shopping started with the turkey because turkey is usually only widely available around Christmas time, and a frozen turkey would take some time to defrost, and Thanksgiving dinner hinges on the turkey.  Luckily, I found a turkey on my first stop at our local butcher’s.  It was the one and only turkey they had lurking in their freezer chest.  I was hoping for a 4-6 kg turkey… but instead, the one and only turkey in the butcher’s freezer was 8 kg.  That’s about 15 lbs.  It was HUGE!  We cooked a 15 lbs turkey!  It was almost as long as our oven is wide.  I followed AB’s recipe pretty closely.  Modifications include omitting stock, allspice, and ginger from the brine, doubling the apple and onion inside the turkey, and roasting in a fan forced oven at 180C for 3.5 hrs.

The turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, and the green bean casserole recipes were all new to me, but I have great trust in AB.  I followed the mashed potato and green bean casserole recipes almost exactly, though half my tray of onions for the casserole burnt and the other half never browned.  I blame the fan-forced oven.  I used homemade beef stock in the gravy instead of chicken broth and choose rosemary for herbs.  I’d made the wild rice and mushroom stuffing, cranberry conserve (though I didn’t know it was Ina Garten’s recipe until this time around), pumpkin pie, and pecan pie before.  Having good recipes from sources I trust is always key to successful dinner parties.  I didn’t alter the proportions of any of the recipes much, and I think they were all meant to serve around 10-12, so we knew we’d have leftovers.  And I have a bad habit of putting more veggies into everything.  Recipe says half an onion, but I like onion, why not the whole thing, half the ingredients later and I’ve effectively double the yield of the recipe.

Mid-cooking

Mid-cooking, as dishes started making their way to the table.

Table set

Table set, we had leftover red party ware from our Chinese New Year party.  It fit our Thanksgiving great as well.  We had to pull my craft table out of the craft room to have enough seats.

Of course, the food was set up buffet style.  I have pretty strong feelings about appropriately picking buffet versus table set depending on the number of people. 4 or less is a pretty perfect dinner group size if I’m going out OR eating in and then if I’m hosting, I can manage table set food.  If there are 6 people, that’s about the maximum size I would be comfortable with going out or serving table set food at home.  For dinner parties of more than 6, I’ll always serve buffet style.

The buffet

The buffet and a good view of our little kitchen.  From right to left, plates, turkey, mashed potatoes in the crockpot, gravy, rolls, stuffing, and green bean casserole.  The pies are hiding up on the ledge, and the cranberry conserve and drinks were on the table.

Pretty Boy's plate

Pretty Boy’s plate

It was a great dinner.  We invited Pretty Boy’s three moto friends and their girlfriends/partners, because we’d been wanting to have them over and because they are the most Aussie people we know!  It was really fun watching and listening to them eat food and dishes they’d never had before and marvel at me whipping the cream by hand right in front of them.  One guy was pretty sure he’d never had turkey before that night, and the green bean casserole and pecan pie were big hits among the Aussies.  Pretty Boy couldn’t get over the gravy and all of it!

Pretty Boy’s friends definitely aren’t cookers, so I think a lot of what we did was lost on them, but they definitely appreciated the end result anyway.  It was a lot of work, but Pretty Boy and I had a good time with it all.  With careful kitchen management and planning, everything went smoothly and was done on time!  I think our biggest advantage was being able to host Thanksgiving dinner on a Saturday instead of Thursday, without any worries about traveling family members, store closures, crowds, weather, traffic, or any of the rest of the stuff that comes along with Thanksgiving in the USA.  I don’t know if I’m ready to volunteer to host any big family Thanksgiving dinners back home anytime soon, but if I ever had to, after this experience, I’m pretty sure I could.

Sunshine Coast

The Farm

Last weekend, Pretty Boy and I went to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.  Sunshine Coast is a stretch that runs north from Brisbane to Fraser Island.  We were invited by VIM2 (as introduced here) who is from Sunshine Coast.  His parents still live there, and he goes back to visit them often.  We didn’t really know what to expect beyond the fact that there would be a professional Australian national series motocross race on Sunday only 30 minutes from VIM2’s parents’ place.  So I packed suitably versatile attire and mentally prepared myself as best I could.

And I was so not prepare.  I’m still struggling to find the words to convey the amazing-ness and foreign-ness and wonderful-ness and crazy-ness that was our trip to Queensland.  Maybe there are no words.  Luckily, we took some pictures.

Pretty Boy and I caught to 4 am bus (yes, that early) from Canberra to the Sydney airport.  It was a cold, dark, and uneventful 3.5 hrs.  We took a train from the international terminal where the bus dropped us off to the domestic terminal and flew through security with time to spare for breakfast.  When I say ‘flew,’ I really mean flew.  Security for domestic flights is very different here, and it will take us a while to get used to that.  We had coffee, a Pieface breakfast pie, a Portuguese tart, and a juice smooth before boarding the plane for the 1 hr 20 min flight to Sunshine Coast.

Pretty Boy eating Pieface breakfast pie in the Sydney domestic terminal

Pretty Boy eating Pieface breakfast pie in the Sydney domestic terminal

Sunshine Coast lived up to its name, and we stood in the sun enjoying the 70 degree weather waiting for VIM2 to pick us up from the airport.  From the airport, we went straight to Marcoola beach, where we changed from Canberra winter clothes to beach attire in the middle of the parking lot.  Though it was by no means hot, we still went right into the ocean.  It was a beautiful long stretch of beach with soft sand and surfers taking advantage of decent swell.  Pretty Boy oogled the swell and then proceeded to get tossed around by it and attempt to body surf in it, with some success.  It was his first time swimming in real waves, and he was as in awe of the power of the ocean (as I always have been).  I didn’t swim out as far or play in the waves as much as him, but I still managed to almost loose my top.  Its been a long time since I’ve swam in waves, and it’ll take some remembering/relearning.  After our swim, we moved down the beach for a lunch of fish and chips and a veggie sandwiches followed by a siesta in the sun.

View out of the front of VIM2's parents' place.

View out of the front of VIM2’s parents’ place.

After the beach, we headed to VIM2’s parents’ place.  VIM2’s parents live in the bush (they use the term ‘bush’ here like we use the word ‘country’) on a little farm outside of Palmwoods up in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range which runs all along the East coast of Australia.  They don’t actively farm anymore, but they still grow oranges, lemons, papaya, avocado, pomegranate, and a bunch of other stuff.  We had oranges, papaya, and avocado fresh off the tree!  I think everything grows there, since in the middle of winter when we visited it was in the 70’s during the day and mid 50’s at night.  I couldn’t express how amazing it is to a Minnesotan to be somewhere that tropical things grow!  We spend the rest of the day seeing the house and farm, meeting VIM2’s parents, gathering wood for a bonfire, preparing dinner (which we cooked in the bonfire), and hanging out.

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The house is two separate structures connected by a covered walkway.

The farm, where everything grows.

The farm, where everything grows.

Papaya or pawpaw.

Papaya or pawpaw.

Avocados!

Avocados!

Sunday morning, we declined the invitation to join VIM2 and his mom on his mom’s Sunday morning, ritual sunrise swim in the ocean.  Sunrise was a little early and a little chilly for us, but we still got up pretty early to pack several big coolers fully of picnic, snacks, and drinks for our day at the track.  After a winding mountain, carsick-inducing drive and a hilarious story about VIM2’s friend whose mom is from Minnesota and who made a traditional Midwestern Thanksgiving meal including sweet potatoes with marshmallows that VIM2 tried and whose only comment was “It wasn’t very nice…”, we made it to the Green Park Conondale motocross track.

It was a lot of fun watching Pretty Boy get super excited about motocross and VIM2 supressing his excitement about motocross.  And loosing VIM2’s father because he wandered off in the crowds only to find him again because of his pink shorts and sparkly hat.  And eating the best moto picnic I’ve ever had.  And comparing a Australian national to US nationals and US pro/am races.  Conondale was somewhere between a US national and the pro/am races Pretty Boy raced in last year.  It didn’t have as many spectators or riders, the track wasn’t as big or as nice, and the racers weren’t as fast as at a US national, but it was still definitely a step up from the local pro/am’s we used to go to.

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We were all pretty tired from being at the track all day, so Sunday night we hung out at VIM2’s parents place again, ate an awesome dinner, and made damper wound around sticks (traditional bush tucker) and cooked over another bonfire for dessert.  We had homemade rosella jam (also traditional bush tucker) on the damper sticks.  We’d never heard of rosella before and were excited to try it.  It was really tasty and the tartness and texture kind of reminded us of cranberries.

Monday we got up early to watch the end of World Cup final and see Germany defeat Argentina in extra time.  The early start morphed into a leisurely morning of breakfast and getting packed up.  Pretty Boy wandered down to the garage with VIM2 and his father to put a new rear tired on an old Yamaha dirt bike that VIM2’s dad uses to zip around the farm.  Pretty Boy then proceeded to ride up and down and all around the big hill on the old bike with a big grin on his face.

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In the afternoon, VIM2 took us to Noosa National Park for a last visit to the ocean before heading back to Canberra.  We drove quickly through a touristy, retirement looking collection of shops to get to the start of a walking trail that ran along several bay all the way around Noosa National Park.  We walked a little ways down the trail around a big enclosed bay.  At the end of the bay, we got to watch a bunch of people surfing, and while we were watching, a group of dolphins swam right under the surfers, scaring quite a few of them.  We were able to watch as the dolphins swam all the way across the bay.  It was really cool!

On our way back to the car, we stopped at the beach part of the bay and swam in the ocean again.  It was even colder than the first day because the sun wasn’t out in full force, but the ocean was calmer in the bay so I enjoyed it more.  Over the course of the whole trip, we were never sure when we’d be swimming or what we’d be doing afterwards so we weren’t wearing our suits when we needed to be, but I’m rather proud of me and Pretty Boy: we were pretty good at the under the towel or skirt swim suit changing!  Both on and off.

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Suddenly, it was getting close to our flight time and we needed to get back to the farm to grab our stuff and get to the airport.  Thankfully, we weren’t in too much of a hurry to miss the koala way up a tree just off the path from the beach in Noosa!  VIM2 said we were really lucky to see a koala in the wild.  He was tiny and far away but still pretty cute and rounded out the number of Australian animals that we’ve seen in the wild nicely.  So far we’re up to kangaroos, dolphins, a koala, and lots of crazy birds.  The rest of the afternoon was a blur of grabbing bags, scarfing some lunch, not forgetting wet swim suits, and buying last minute Queensland ginger and macadamia nuts at the airport.

VIM2’s parents’ place and the whole weekend was quite the experience.  I still haven’t quite found the words to describe the farm, but so far, I can say their place was one part hippy commune, one part buddhist temple, one part beach shack, and one part jungle cottage.  It was pretty rough, and VIM2 did not prepare us in the least for the roughness or the nature of the activities we’d be taking part in, so I was caught pretty off guard by the roughing-it aspect of the trip.  But his parents were so nice and welcoming and the energy of their place was just so calming and I’m still pretty adaptable, so it ended up being just awesome.

We definitely want to go back and visit VIM2’s parents again and explore Queensland more.

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Waggy Maggie the Beardog

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Summer Pie and Pastry Tour

Regardless of whether or not I have personal time to make pie, I still always have a desire for good pie, and I always love the hunt for good pies out there.  This summer has been a hodge-podge of pies that weren’t exactly planned as a tour and didn’t all happen at the same time.  First, there was the mini strawberry rhubarb pies from Yum! Kitchen and Bakery in St Louis Park, MN.  Then the rhubarb crumb somethings from A Baker’s Wife in Minneapolis, MN.  A 2 Gingers Irish apple pie from Sara’s Tipsy Pies which I ordered online and picked up at the White Bear Lake Friday farmer’s market.  Donuts from Bloedow’s Bakery in Winona, MN.  And lastly, two hand pies from Brick Street Coffee in downtown Mt Carroll, IL.

I heard about the mini strawberry rhubarb pies from an online announcement and thought it was an excellent opportunity to leave school early, have my sweet tooth satisfied, and be judge-y.  After trying one, I decided I wouldn’t actually consider it a true pie and would therefore judge it in a non-pie manner.  The bottom crust was strange and more like a biscuit cookie than pastry, and I felt it didn’t really impart any flavor to the whole dish.  The top was a butter-based (not oat) crumble.  Aside from a bottom crust that I barely noticed, I really liked it.  The filling was set nicely, and tasted sweet and tangy and summery.  I would have liked the crumble with a little more texture, but I still ate it.  I’ve liked a lot of other offerings I’ve had from Yum before too, but I just wouldn’t go there looking to satisfy a pie craving or trust something labeled as pie.

I heard about the strawberry rhubarb things at A Baker’s Wife from Bearface who said they were amazing.  I got there late in the afternoon and snagged the last two off the tray.  They were in mini dishes shaped like pies but without a bottom crust and only a small sprinkle of butter crumble on top and the filling was runnier than a traditional fruit filling.  That’s why I’m not sure what to call them, and again, definitely not what I would consider a true pie, so I’m using an alternate judging criteria.  I’m going to give A Baker’s Wife and Bearface the benefit of the doubt on these because A Baker’s Wife makes really delicious stuff and Bearface only encourages me to eat really delicious stuff.  I think the two strawberry rhubarb things I got were flukes, because for whatever reasons, they seemed off and I didn’t like them.  The crumbles were mushy, the fruit was also cooked to complete mush, but the filling felt almost grainy to me – like the thickening agent hadn’t been full cooked even though the fruit was.  Sweetness level was good; fruity, summery, tangy business was good; I just didn’t like it that much.

The pie from Sara’s Tipsy pies ended up being the only true pie entry on this tour.  I found out about Sara’s from a recent Heavy Table shout out.  I was predisposed to not like the pie because I generally feel like good pies don’t need fancy-ing up with caramel or booze or nuts or the kinds of things people are so interested in adding to pies these days.  But I forced myself to keep an open mind and ordered a whole pie made with 2 Ginger’s Irish whiskey.  Bearface met me and Pretty Boy and we picked up the pie along with two hand pies.  I don’t remember the flavors but I didn’t like them as much as Bearface and Pretty Boy.  The crust was too soft and crumbly and the filling flavor not predominant enough for me.

After the hand pies, we stopped into Caribou Coffee for coffee and forks to attack the pie.  And did we ever attack the pie.  We probably ate two thirds of the pie right there, before I even thought to take a picture.  Probably a good sign.  The crust was real pastry and held up well, though like the hand pies, was still on the crumbly side for me.  I was surprise by how strong the whiskey flavor was in the filling.  I liked the consistency of the filling, both the apple juices (good thickness) and the apples themselves (cooked but still with some texture).  Now, a month later, I’m still undecided if I liked the whiskey flavor.  Bearface and Pretty Boy again were fans but it was almost too much whiskey for me.  My personal tastes aside, if you like whiskey, I’d recommend the pie.  Not one of the best pies I’ve ever eaten and a little gimmick-y with the booze, but still a strong offering and actually one of the best available that I’ve found in the Twin Cities metro area.  Next time I’ll have to try one of the ‘sober’ pies.

And then there was Bloedow’s.  Bearface told me about Bloebow’s after WCCO listeners voted it the best donut shop in Minnesota.  I’d never heard of it but was ecstatically excited that they fry their donuts in lard.  Lard!  For all my vegetarian leanings, I do love real lard.  Pretty Boy and I stopped into Bloedow’s just before closing and were happy to find the donut and cookie and other cases full of treats.  We tried a few donuts, the Bloedow’s version of a paczki, and a cookie.  All were spectacular!  We just really loved them.  The donuts were pretty classic in terms of texture, sweetness, crust, and color (i.e. no crazy crunchy crust like maybe I would have liked but isn’t typically found on a classic donut), but in this case, it was a good thing.  My one observation is that the Bloedow’s paczki did not match what I think of as a paczki.  Bloedow’s version was pretty much just a jelly filled Bismark donut.  Tasty, but not what I think of.  I’ve only ever hard paczki around lent and made by Eastern Europeans.  Anyway.  I’d rank Bloedow’s up pretty high, so if you really love a good donut and food adventures, maybe it’s worth the drive.  I probably wouldn’t ever drive all the way to Winona just for the donuts, but if I was in the area, I’d definitely stop.

Pretty Boy and I found the last entry on the tour by accident in Mt Carroll, IL.  We had been at the motocross track in Mt Carroll all day, huddled in the trailer, avoid the heavy, heavy rain.  Damp and rather cold.  When there was a tiny break in the rain, late in the afternoon, we hopped in the truck and headed to Brick Street Coffee to dry off and heat up.  They had an interesting array of baked goods which included a number of flavors of hand pies.  We picked a cherry and an apple.  The crust was plan and crumble-y, texturally similar to something like Perkins but not quite as processed tasting.  The filling seemed like canned filling.  It was rather plebeian but by no means offensive.  We ate them both and warmed up with lovely cuppas until the rain cleared off enough for us to head back to the track, light up the grill, and get in a hot dinner before bed.

With only one true pie offering, I don’t know if this really constitutes a “pie tour,” but it iss what I ate.  I always love donuts and, while I don’t always love the pie that’s out there, I’d serve a pie from Sara’s at a dinner party if I needed to serve pie, so that’s a good find.  We’re heading to a race in Michigan this month which means more potential pie tour stops coming soon.

Late Summer Pie Tour

The Late Summer Pie Tour started when Pretty Boy and I drove down to Jordan and Belle Plain, MN on a weekday afternoon in search of apples.  I wanted apples for baking, but that early in the season (mid-August), there weren’t many local apples available yet so we thought we’d try Emma Krumbee’s Orchard and Bakery in Belle Plain, MN and Jim’s Apple Orchard and Yellow Barn/Jordan’s Largest Candy Store (no contact information) in Jordan, MN.  It was a beautiful day: sunny and warm without being hot, just a touch of crispness in the breeze hinting at the fast approaching fall.  We went to Emma Krumbee’s first, a mecca for small town knickknacks and caravan tourists, where I bought a 1/2 peck of the fresh picked Redfree apples at the produce/plant stand.  We also wondered over to the giftshop/ultimate home of ridiculous knickknacks.  The lack of focus was a little overwhelming: textiles, souvenirs, fresh cut and arranged flowers, ice cream fountain, bakery, coffee shop, fudge, pick your own raspberries out back, and more!  With Pachelbel’s Canon in D playing on repeat overhead.  Definitely not an appealing destination for me and Pretty Boy, so we hung around just long enough to purchase an apple pie and head back up the road to Jim’s Apple Farm. Continue reading