Monthly Archives: November 2014

Reverb 14 | (belated) October | Origins

#reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Meredith, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading. No matter what you choose, come with us.

Origins: Get back to our roots. Where are you From? Is it California, Minnesota, China, Ireland, Earth? Do you know who you are? How you tell people where you are from, and why? 

When we were out for dinner a few weekends ago, Beka asked me, so did you ever leave Minnesota?

The answer to this question is No.  I did not.  My mother’s German ancestors immigrated from the old country to an aptly named farm town tucked outside of the Twin Cities called Cologne.  The French-Canadian and Italian bunch on my Father’s side settled right into Northeast Minneapolis where they promptly infiltrated the fire department.

What they say about this state of ours is that either you will leave and come back, or you will never leave at all.  In true fashion, neither Marcus nor I ever left.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not live on farms or in igloos.  Nor do we eat grape salad or lutefisk on the regular.

Rather, the Twin Cities are home to the second largest theater market in the country and Hennepin County has something on the order of the highest number of college degrees per capita in the nation.  Despite the depths of winter’s cold, people still come here to make this state their home.  Minnesota is home to the largest community of Somalians outside of Somalia and the largest community of Hmong outside of Laos.  We have more than 10,000 lakes and more coastline than the state of California.  Over the course of a year, our temperature will range across more than 120 degrees.  18 Fortune 500 Companies are based here.

I think that everyone, to some extent, believes that the place they call home is The Best.  That the everyone else who calls somewhere else home is a simply dreaming.  But truly, it is so wonderful to be here and not somewhere else.

Every year, all of us make the decision to stay in Minnesota.  We decide after a winter of record cold, or a winter of record snow (it is always one or the other – the odds of a brown winter are so rare) that instead of fleeing to Florida, or at the very least somewhere milder, we will stay here.  We praise every season besides winter for its gloriousness, ignoring the fact that in the last 12 months, only four of those months were snow-free.  There is actually a very serious discussion about whether or not our state should instead be called The North and not part of the Midwest because let’s face it, we have more in common with the tundra.  End of story.

So I am from here.  We are from here.  As I was telling Marcus about all of this, he said it so much more simply than I ever could: Plymouth.  We are from Plymouth.

We were went to elementary school here, we went to high school here.  We grew up four years, separate school districts and six miles apart.  We would end up moving into a townhouse exactly halfway between the two.  This is where we are from.

Friday Food Round-Up!

You guys.  I totally gave up on cooking this week.  Like I did not have it in me to produce a meal at all.  There was also that small detail where we had dinner plans every single night and so we really didn’t have to cook.  For actual Thanksgiving we were in charge of cranberry sauce and buffalo chicken dip (my family) and wine (his family).  Easy enough to make at the crack of dawn, right?

Monday – Chicken Marbella with Quinoa, Popovers and Salad


How this actually went down: Lindsey hosted Galina and I for dinner.  She made Chicken Marbella, quinoa and popovers and they were amazing.  Also, I feel like if someone makes a popover for you, they really care about you.  So I ate two.  I brought chopped romaine and a homemade dressing (olive oil+white wine vinegar+maple syrup+tarragon+thyme+a pinch of nutmeg+salt).  Galina brought avocado, tomatoes and cucumber.  Anyway, I feel like I owe her big time for essentially just letting us show up.  The meal was comforting and everything that a night in with friends should be.

Tuesday/Wednesday – Chicken Tortilla Soup


Like I said, we didn’t cook this week.  But I did have two containers of Chicken Tortilla Soup in the freezer from that one time that we made it at the end of September.  It was so easy to just pop out of the freezer and defrost for a quick lunch.  Each container had two servings, so I was sure to share a bowl with a friend as well!


LBB Bound

For those members of the group who do not live in the frozen north, it has essentially been winter since November 1.  We went through an oddly pleasant patch last weekend, but on the whole, the below freezing temperatures and pile of snow have been just a little bit less than spectacular since winter doesn’t actually begin until late December.  And also, that part where we’re basically going to be cold until March.

Two months ago, Billy sent me an oddly specific request: If you want, you could come to Lubbock on December 2 for the Carol of Lights, and on Thursday we can roadtrip to Carlsbad and Marfa.  You can fly home on Sunday, airfare is really cheap right now.

Billy never sends me specific requests, so I knew I needed to ask for the PTO and buy the ticket.

So next week, I am headed to Lubbock, Texas, a city in the United States that I truly never thought I would see again after 4th of July 2012.  It’s certainly not a city that my waistline ever thought it would see again.  True story: I gained five pounds in the three days we were there, eating BBQ and living off of the land.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.

We will follow the itinerary Billy set out with a few additions (White Sands National Park, and a stop to see the stadium in Odessa) and for six days it will be summer again or at the very least fall or spring.

West Texas sunset, I am coming home.

Reverb 14 | (belated) September | Team

#reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Meredith, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading. No matter what you choose, come with us.

Team: Whether you love football or hate it, we’ve all done hard time on the sidelines or on the field.  What is your best game time memory?

I have spent hours on the sidelines.  In high school, I was on the varsity cheerleading squad for four years.  Football, boys and girls basketball, and a smattering of soccer games, I have watched it all for hours upon end.

Senior year, I was captain of the varsity football squad and I could not have been prouder.  Billy was on the sophomore football team and they were allowed to dress for the varsity games.  We went to the state championship.  It truly was a golden age of sorts.  And with the squad, there was so much time spent agonizing over what stunts to throw up, whether it was offense or defense, if we should put on our windbreakers or not.  I like to think that the afternoon of puff painting names onto our squad’s hair ribbons was the skill that would bridge my co-captain Lorna and I into the more advanced realm of sorority big/little gifts in college.

But I also played the bassoon in our high school’s Wind Ensemble.  And yes this piece of information matters in our sideline story, because a requirement of all sophomores in band was one year of marching band participation.  Instead of making it an after-school extra curricular, it simply was a class.  End of story.  So at the end of freshman year, my parents, my cheerleading coaches and I puzzled over the impossibility of me being on the cheerleading squad and in the marching band.   There was no leniency from the band teacher, Our Own Musical Napoleon, who hated to be wrong and had to be right.  This was apparently my problem as a 15-year-old to solve.  Which is to say nothing of the fact that the boys who were on the football team and in the marching band were not forced to solve this problem.  Or the fact that the bassoon was not a marching instrument and I would have to be part of something called the drumline which added a whole different layer of confusion.

But back to real life problems, like, how I could possibly be on the cheerleading squad and in the marching band playing a set of instruments I didn’t even know how to play.  I dutifully attended a week of drumline camp at the beginning of the summer after school had been released and another week of drumline camp + another separate week of marching band camp in the summer for three summers, because if you know nothing else about me, it is that I Am Not A Quitter Of Things.

There were days in August where I would go from drumline camp to cheerleading practice and then back again or from cheerleading practice to marching band practice and then finally home and all of it was exhausting but I did not quit.  I have some hazy memories of begging friends to bring me Taco Bell on their way to and from one practice or another and still others of me living off of pretzels and diet coke and Gatorade from the vending machine, but whatever.  It was high school and I felt alive.

When the school year finally started, I would show up to class early each day to sort out what instruments I would be playing in the pit percussion group.  Was it sort of menial to spend 85 minutes a day tinging a triangle or clapping two pieces of wood together or tipping a rain stick?  Yes.  Was it ponderously boring to sit on the sidelines for entire class periods as the group practiced the pre-game field show?  Yes.  But I was with my friends.  And so I was happy.

But of course, this story is supposed to be about the sideline and instead of telling you about that, I have been telling you about all of the things leading up to Game Day.  How this worked practically was very simple: I would cheer with the squad until halftime, at which point I would throw down my pom poms to go play the halftime show with the pit percussionists.  With my cheerleading uniform on and my hair tied up in a ponytail with a bow, I would ting the triangle and tip the rainstick and clap those two bits of wood together.  It was absolutely a futile act because there was zero chance the crowd would ever hear those things above the blasting of the trumpets or the beating of the drums, but I was showing up and that was what counted.

Or, for a more objective perspective of how all of this looked, my mother declared that when I did the bit where I clapped the two boards together, she could hear her father laughing from heaven.  She was not wrong.  I wish I could say that this is one of those moments in life where I learned to be flexible.   Where I learned how to create balance.  But that would be an outright lie.  When your opponent is someone who is focused on making your life more difficult, and on forcing you to choose between two things you love, you learn how to be more stubborn than they are.

Friday Food Round-Up!

This week was absolutely packed with new recipes.  Usually if we’re going to do something new, I pick one recipe and leave it at that.  But when I did our meal planning, I took a look at the recipes and asked myself, What will actually be reasonable tonight?

Sunday – Green Chile Chowder and Tomato Cobbler from The Homesick Texan Sunday 

I think that this may be the winter in which I become a master of soups.  The number of soup recipes we have not tried from our favorite cookbooks is immense and I feel like soup is probably a life skill that I just need to have.  This Green Chile Chowder was a big improvement over the Thai Corn Chowder.  I suspect this has to do with (1) the use of chicken broth and (2) the puree-ing of some of the potatoes.

Monday – Spiced Lamb Beef Patties with Nutty Garlic Sauce, Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad from Jerusalem


When I was meal planning this week, I pulled out a big stack of recipes from the back of our recipe binder that we have never ever made before.  This one seemed like the best way to use the pound of ground beef that I accidentally bought.  Just substitute some garlic naan for the pitas and presto!

This was a big hit at our dinner table and I know there are some other shawarma-style recipes in Jerusalem that I should probably stop hiding from my husband!

Tuesday – Chicken Parm Meatballs from Dinner: The Playbook with Bowties, Steamed Broccoli and Caesar Salad with the dressing from How To Cook Everything


Marcus very simply wishes to know if I am engaging in a secret plot to feed us pasta on a weekly basis.

No.  My actual secret plot is to make every meatball recipe that Jenny Rosenstrach has ever published.  No shame in my game.

Things I have been successful at this week.

Today, all of my technology died at most inconvenient times, my dinner was made mostly of M&Ms, and we finally reached the long-awaited Thursday that I have been inhabiting mentally since Tuesday.  It has been one of those weeks, you know?

I made rice krispie treats for the first time ever in my whole life this week and I hope y’all are ready to never hear the end of it because now I feel like this is a craft that I NEED to master.  Also, why did no one ever clue me into the fact that rice krispies are a stick of butter, a bag of marshmallows and six cups of rice krispies the end?

In The Great House Purge of 2014, my mother unearthed an XL Wayzata Football sweatshirt.  I put it on and immediately questioned all of my other fashion choices since high school.  Seriously, why aren’t we all wearing XL sweatshirts all the time?  Besides the part where I feel like I am walking around with an entire blanket and not a sweatshirt, it is amazing.

I used my Caribou Coffee BOGO and ordered the hot cocoa that I have been craving for a month.  And now I think I might need to drink hot cocoa every single day for the rest of winter.  That would not be terrible, right?  My next project after I post this is to Google what the best hot cocoa is.  I am a Swiss Miss drinking lifer, but it would not take a lot to get me to switch.

Oh, and I watched the Pitch Perfect 2 trailer.  And it was aca-mazing.  May 15 come swiftly.

So there is all of that.

What were you successful at this week?


Reverb 14 | November | Let’s Talk Turkey

#reverb14 is the opportunity for us to reflect and project throughout 2014.   Each month, Meredith, Sarah and I will be posting on a new prompt.  Join us by writing, or join us by reading. No matter what you choose, come with us.

Let’s talk turkey: Do you even like Thanksgiving food? If you could make the menu, what would you have? What was the most memorable Thanksgiving? What was served? 

I love Thanksgiving.  I think it took me until college to realize it, but it is the best holiday with the best food.  While it commemorates a meal cooked long ago, it survives today for us to gather with loved ones and ensure that each family member consumes one stick of butter disguised as “gravy” and “side dishes” and “dessert.”  Period.  There are no gifts.  There are no ceremonies.  There’s just us, with our people and our favorite food.

Fact or Truth: I have loved mashed potatoes my whole life and this is a the holiday that celebrates them.

Fact or Truth: I believe that Hand Turkeys are the one, true, original American art form and my love of them has been documented.

Fact or Truth: Each year, my aunt delegates the blessing over the meal to me.  There have been years with very serious prayers for family members in the operating room and friends fighting cancer.  But probably 75% of the time, I rely upon Ben Stiller’s prayer from Meet the Parents: Day by day, by day by day by day, O dear Lord, three things we pray. To love Thee more dearly. To see Thee more clearly. To follow Thee more nearly… day by day… by day. Amen.

Fact or Truth: I take it very personally that the New York Times wrote a story about 50 states worth of Thanksgiving side dishes (which I refuse to link to) that ascribed to Minnesota via an unnamed source something called Grape Salad.  I still don’t really get what it is, I am 100% positive that I have never eaten it and I am also 100% positive that in my sojourns across the state, I have never seen it on a menu.  From Austin Minnesota to Tofte, from Woodbury to Moorhead, We Don’t Eat That.

Fact or Truth: There was the Thanksgiving that wasn’t because I was packed off to a day full of rehearsals for the Nutcracker.  At the time, I thought it was more exciting to go to another entire day of ballet, but in hindsight it seems like it was more of a plot fashioned by the artistic director of the ballet school to keep us from eating.

Fact or Truth: Each year I throw a Friendsgiving so that I can celebrate twice.  Take that, ballet school director.

Fact or Truth: My love for this holiday is deep enough that I could go on for ages.