Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Stuffing

Ian dealing with some of our winter hay supply Nov 17, 2011

Welcome to the Brown Christmas Capital of the World. We had a proper snow storm near the end of November that left eight inches on the ground, but that all melted before our Thanksgiving Thursday, November 24, and we haven’t had much more than a dusting since. Ian and I were just saying how it looks more like spring than winter! It has been unseasonably warm with daytime temps in the 30s and 40s, but a northwesterly wind can be brutal so we do need to bundle up when doing morning and evening chores.

Christmas is behind us, and while it was wonderful and happy, I really didn’t get into the whole seasonal thing this year. Sure, I mailed greeting cards and enjoyed the cards we received, but I didn’t put one ornament on the pre-lit Christmas tree that Ian brought to the living room from storage. I did my part to stimulate the economy buying most gifts online at eBay and Amazon—it's wonderful to have gifts come to the house via UPS, FedEx or the postal service. The tree is back in storage, along with gift-wrapping paraphernalia. Good thing Christmas comes every year, so none of it goes to waste.
Mom on Friday, December 23

Christmas Day Stuffing
On Christmas Day we visited my mother at the Vets Home. She has good days and not-so-good days, but who doesn’t? Richard and I visited her on the 23rd and enjoyed a luncheon served on her floor. Wow, talk about portions. Whew! If people go hungry at the Vets Home it’s too bad because the food is tasty, looks better than you’d expect and is served up with plenty of care. We saw Mom yesterday too (December 27) and she was quite chipper and sharp.
Mom and me Christmas morning

Ian and me at Cosmos on Christmas Day

After visiting Mom on Christmas Day, Ian and I had reservations for lunch at Cosmos, in the Graves 601 Hotel in Minneapolis’s Warehouse District. It was pretty good—not fabulous, but pretty good. We liked our appetizers. Ian had Duck Confit and Winter Squash Risotto, Sage, Vincotto and I had Roasted Baby Beets, Yogurt Panna Cotta, Arugula, Pistachio, Orange. The entrees and desserts were another matter. Ian had the Pan Roasted Sea Bass, Winter Squash, Brussels Sprouts, Seasonal Mushrooms, which he enjoyed. I had a taste and it was very good. The fish was done perfectly. I ordered Roasted Au Bon Canard Duck, Herb Knodel (think: dressing or stuffing), Chestnut, Black Cabbage. The styling of the food on the plate was gorgeous, but I found the dressing unimaginative, a bit dry and my duck was overcooked. The chestnut slices looked kind of like big, dried toenails. I did enjoy the black cabbage. I ate two bites of the duck, one of the stuffing and that was it. I brought it home to the dogs.
Roasted beet appetizer

I like my duck cooked medium rare (saignant or à point in French) and this was clearly medium or well cooked. I’m not one to send back a meal. Admittedly I am fussy about duck and like to order things that I don’t cook at home, but upon reflection I probably should have gone with something else. I barely tasted my Passion Fruit Mousse Bombe with Kumquat Confit. It looked like a Hostess Snowball, only smaller and too, too, too sweet. Ian ordered the other choice, ChocoVic Chocolate Marquise with Pistachio Crémeux—a super cocoa chocolaty pyramid. He ate it all and enjoyed an espresso too. Our wine was a lovely Pinot Noir from Oregon. The service was stupendous and I love complimentary valet parking. I will surely visit again, but won’t order the duck.
Yummy pinot noir

Stuffing ourselves closer to home
In Pine City—six miles to our south—we like Wild Bamboo for Vietnamese food and recently discovered New China on Main Street one evening when Wild Bamboo was closed. It’s not a place you go to for the décor, but the food is fabulous! We shared an order of steamed potstickers and spicy orange chicken on a bed of steamed broccoli with white rice. Wow, it was so good. The caramelized sauce had slivers of orange rind too. The portion was so huge that Ian ate the leftovers for lunch two days in a row.

Mom’s Hometown Café is another Pine City favorite. We used to go there every Sunday for brunch, but we are treating ourselves better these days so we eat here maybe once a month now. LOL It’s hearty down-home cooking. I recommend its Eggs Benedict, but like many places I find the portions too huge to manage alone, so we often share or the dogs benefit. We like the Pizza Pub too and enjoyed a birthday/anniversary dinner there with our friends Jim and Cathy last month.
Jim, Cathy, me, Ian (L to R) November 5, 2011

Bowe’s Restaurant & Bar in downtown Mora (about 20 miles from home) served Ian a very good, perfectly cooked medium rare prime rib that he enjoyed a lot. Another Mora eatery favorite is Wild Things Pizzeria and Deli, owned by our pal Julie. The pizza is phenomenal and I’ve lost count of the taxidermy variety that adorns its walls.

More favorite stuffings
Gandi Mahal in south Minneapolis near Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue (not too far from the Vets Home) has the best daily lunch buffet. Its North Indian curry made with mutter (peas) and paneer (cottage cheese) is my favorite.

Famous Dave’s is our choice for barbeque. Yep, it’s a chain, but it does it right, so if we’re feeling a bit peckish and we spot its big red sign, we’re likely to stop in. We usually split a half slab of ribs, which comes with two side dishes and a corn muffin.

After Christmas Stuffing
Yesterday, after visiting Mom, Ian and I went to Mall of America. It was packed, but we found parking right away, then just strolled and enjoyed being together. We stopped in the Apple Store to see and ask questions about the Macbook Air and Macbook Pro laptops. I prefer the Air in part because of its solid-state memory (no hard drive), which makes it lighter. I will be very glad to be back using Apple products soon.

We enjoyed some tasty delights at Tiger Sushi before heading home to the farm and evening chores. Going to Minneapolis is easy enough, as it’s all interstate driving, but it is 170 miles roundtrip.

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That’s the news from here. All of us at the Auld Macdonald Farm send you and yours happy & prosperous 2012 wishes.