Monday, July 28, 2014

Really Rosie

They say that in life you should take time to smell the roses. There's a reason it instructs to sniff roses instead of singling out one of the many other small pleasures in life.

There is nothing more royal, romantic, and classic than the rose. So why save them for Valentine's Day? I'm finding that roses, thorns and all, should be making daily appearances in our lives.

My rose renaissance began when I discovered this LUSH body conditioner. I really took to heart the smelling of the roses. I'm not joking - I could not resist sniffing my arm for a good portion of the day - which made me look like a kook, but I smelled DIVINE. The scent of rose and almond remains with you long after the shower, plus your skin will feel petal soft.

Being that one tub is on the expensive side, I opted for a gift collection in order to test out the body conditioner in a smaller size, along with other related products.

Due to its timeless scent and soothing qualities, you can find rose as a main ingredient in many beauty brands. I'm hoping to try some of the Korres line using wild rose.

This is an old standby in my medicine cabinet:

If you are the DIY type, you can spend a post-farmers market run bubbling up your own rose water to use in various beauty potions.

It's not hard to find ways of adorning yourself in flora rosa.
Stick one of those leftover buds in your hair and pop in these posts:

Flower power!
Ring no longer available. Similar found HERE.

How gorgeous are these recycled paper creations from Lille Syster? It makes me want to have a party just to strew garlands, bouquets, and blossoms across my entire apartment.

I'm thinking if I find some untreated roses for my DIY rose water, I might also try my hand at a batch of rose syrup, mainly for cocktail fun!

I should give a shout out to the title post - did anyone else's childhood revolve around this Carole King/Maurice Sendak musical?

And then there is my favorite rose of all, Minnesota's own Rose Nylund!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fruity and Boozy and (Hopefully) Cool

I am so happy it is summer as it felt like a long time coming, but it has been! My body has not been able to handle the heat and humidity of the city this year. Maybe it would be different if I was leading a life of leisure, lounging from hammock to hammock, but these last few months have been crammed with work and events, which means a lot of commuting and constant running around. I'm amazed at how fellow asphalt dwellers appear to be in a sweat-free state, as if they were gazing off a balcony in Capri, white wine spritzer in one hand, while I look to be unsuccessfully climbing the slopes of Mount Doom to rid myself of an evil ring. Even the Orcs look more relaxed and comfortable than LuRuSo.
Basically me in NYC, late May-early September

Once I've returned to my non-AC apartment, I must take all measures to make my surroundings chiller, as my Scandinavian/Irish roots inherently crave. Thus, the oven stays off and I'm focused on creating cooling and hydrating treats that take little effort to produce and offer maximum satisfaction. I can think of nothing more appropriate as the combo of fruit and booze. In college, I could often be found with a "flavor injector" in my grasp, trying to sauce up some strawberries or pump a watermelon full of vodka.
Sober Watermelon

As often is the case, The Baker Chick seemed to be reading my mind and posted a refreshing and slightly boozy seasonal dessert the same day I was battling the summer sauna.
Minty Mojito Fruit Salad

This fruit medley was incredibly easy to throw together. You can cater to your own fruit preferences, with berries, melons and tropical options all pairing well with the rum. As written, the alcohol really just gives a hint of flavor, so if you want to bring out the mojito side of the recipe, get a little heavy handed with the bottle.

Years ago, I worked at a summer stock theatre in Vermont that had a cute counter cafe directly across from campus (RIP, PK!). I owned a car at the time and after the show had opened, I'd spend my mornings driving aimlessly until I found some source of nature (not too hard to do in Vermont). Once I'd reached a destination, I would explore til exhausted and then have a private picnic at the end of my journey where I'd read the recently released final Harry Potter book and eat whatever I had picked up from the cafe. Not long into this routine, the counter person suggested I try their double berry shortcake with Chantilly cream. Well, if you know me you know they didn't have to offer twice. And after tasting the mighty scrumptious dessert, that was my lunch every single day. I was lucky the show only ran two weeks...

This is my homage to that counter cake with a little more fruit and a little more kick.
Triple Berry Rhubarb Shortcake with Grand Marnier Chantilly Cream

That's a mouthful. Not only the title, but the actually dessert. I used THIS recipe for easy drop biscuits, but you could take it to the next level and bake actual shortcakes. For the berries, I mixed strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries in a bowl and let them macerate with a spoonful of sugar (depending on the tartness of said berries) and the juice of half a lemon. The Chantilly cream is simple: split a vanilla bean and scrape the "caviar" into a bowl of 1 pint heavy whipping cream. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Add sugar to taste (1-2 Tbsps) and a couple splashes of Grand Marnier and beat until it resembles whipped cream! Try not to eat it all straight out of the bowl, if possible. Listen, I don't even like whipped cream that much, but this stuff is heaven. I think I'm going to start putting it on my kale and quinoa. The last component was a strawberry rhubarb compote that I smeared across the biscuits, but that step is optional. Assemble as you wish, and enjoy.

Sangria. I was thinking of changing the name of this blog to More Sangria Please. I really...I mean, I don't even know how to explain my love for sangria. It's perfect. I have a basic go to red RECIPE that is always a crowd pleaser, but lately I've been fiddling with various incarnations - rosé with berries, cherry-infused ruby red, and sparkling white grapefruit. I used THIS Peach and Strawberry Sangria recipe as a base for one July version. It was sweet yet refreshing and everyone was digging to catch every last fruit morsel in their drinks.

But wait - there's more.

This sangria kept on giving. Somehow, we managed not to finish the entire carafe in one sitting and later on the next day, we all had a craving for some more sangria. Since this was a sweeter variety, thoughts went to dessert, and a new concoction was born:

A Sangria Float!
(just add a generous scoop of really good vanilla ice cream)

The next time you are feeling a little overheated, I suggest you turn to any of these creations in order to instantly feel cool, calm, and collec--er...well, maybe just those first two.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hot Diggity Dog!

I sure do buy into all of these ridiculous National Holidays. How else will you know when to honor your pants by taking them for a walk?

That's why today I want to wish you a Very Happy National Hot Dog Day!

I'm not a hot dog connoisseur, per se. It's hard to attain that level when you've spent 20+ years of your life refusing to eat them. It all started when Mrs. Anderson informed our first grade class what they were made of. That shock lasted awhile until I moved to a town that celebrates them, not only on National Hot Dog Day but as a symbol of the city, and I could no longer resist. Plus, they go SO well with beer. Sorry, Mrs. Anderson!

If you are in NYC, I recommend you grabbing a dog from any of these fine establishments:
Check out where the red phone booth goes...

The Recession Special - always.

If you are going to grill one up at home, I plead with you to soak it in beer first. Because...BEER!

To really get in the hot dog mood, you can sing one of my favorite campfire songs pre and post consuming.
By the way, when looking for a Youtube clip of I Know a Weenie Man, I came across a LOT of people attempting to sing it - which was a whole new level of entertainment.

And favorite hot dog of all:

No bun required.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sunday Morning in Linden Hills

Opening your mailbox to find mail that isn't a bill, take-out flyer, or a 100 pound Restoration Hardware catalog is the BEST. It makes you feel special, cared for, and young again (when we knew not of the inter-webs). As much as a Facebook birthday is quantifiably fun (look how many "friends" I have!!) - admit it - it means more when you get a real live card sent by post. 

But finding a card that is worthy of a postage stamp is not the easiest task these days. They tend to be insulting, humorless, and filled with cliches. That's why I pretty much bought out the store when I came across Bald Guy Greetings.

Warning: These greetings may not be the best choice for dear Grammy Rose or crazy Uncle Harry. They can be a bit sardonic and low on sentiment - but they are funny - for the right person. 

It was no surprise that we stumbled upon these LOL-cards in a charming store in a charming section of Minneapolis called Linden Hills, a few blocks away from the charming Lake Harriet.
Honeyshine is a shop where curiosity is required. They carry a range of nifty gifty products ranging from to gem-like balancing blocks to...

 ...mugs that give some sass to the start of your day.

Since you are already in the neighborhood, wander next door to Wild Rumpus - a children's bookstore chock-full of imaginative stories and a menagerie of live animals. There is even a pint sized door for the coming and going of pint sized people.

After making sure you give a pet to Mr. Skeeter (followed by a good slathering of Purell), head a few more doors over to Tilia, the fabulous Chef Steven Brown's take on a neighborhood brasserie.

If it happens to be brunch o'clock, don't miss the smattered hash browns, yogurt creme brûlée, and house made iced chai.

But I promise it won't be easy to pick just one dish.

To walk off the decadence, stroll around the always-classic Lake Harriet, perhaps catching a concert at the bandshell or just staring out at the water, selecting which sailboat you would own.

A little shopping, a little nature, a lot of food. Day complete.

Monday, July 7, 2014


New blog alert!

I wish there was a way to be compensated for reading blogs. All the blogs. I love them so...and even more than so when I happen to know the blogger is an A+ human being.

My friend Shazia is the mind and voice behind the new blog Marbled, which focuses on "blending backgrounds, cultures and interests into a family".

Shaz and I became dear friends our freshman year of high school. We had previously been involved in music and theatre together, but it wasn't until a fated 3+ hour laugh-filled phone call that first week of 9th grade that I knew this gal was in my life forever.

Decades (gulp!) later, our paths crossed again, this time amongst the concrete and taxi horns, when Shazia and her husband, Jeff, made the move to the big bad apple for her fellowship. Although we lived on opposite ends of Manhattan, we were able to catch up on bits and pieces of life. One of the most important bits and pieces is their daughter Yazmeen, who I was lucky enough to babysit for a summer.

The blog begins as they depart the skyscrapers of Manhattan for a move to the beaches of Florida, with an extended trip to paradise in between.

Their life is truly a swirl of cultures, careers, talents, backgrounds, and passions.
Follow Shazia, Jeff, and Yazi as they create a well-mixed journey, full of all the flavor, texture, and color that you'd expect from a marbled life.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Stars and Stripes

Happy 4th of July!

What are your plans for today? Beach? Grill? Park? Backyard? Parade? Avoiding Hurricane Arthur? Whatever the details may be, I hope family and friends are involved. The 4th is probably my favorite holiday. I love the food, I love the activity, I love the celebration, and I love the togetherness. Today my family is heading out for an adventure, making route decisions as we go along, having a progressive meal on our road trip, and perhaps flying a kite or two. 

Although I'm all for the fun of a patriotic holiday, I wondered how much I really do know about how our country was established and how it functions. Thanks to the internet, you can test your knowledge of such things by attempting the U.S. Naturalization exam:

Did you pass? Good! Now go grab yourself a sparkler and a hot dog and sing You're a Grand Ole Flag.
You're a Grand Old Flag
by George M. Cohan
You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.
You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Heartland Table

I'm slightly addicted to cooking shows. I find the sounds of sizzling sautéing butter, wooden spoons rhythmically knocking against porcelain bowls, and sharp knives chopping through veggies very soothing. I'm inspired by the individual mix of craft and creativity, and am always up for the challenge of achieving a similar result in the LuKitchen.

This past year I stumbled upon the debut of Heartland Table, hosted by James Beard Award winner Amy Thielen. Amy grew up observing, consuming, and producing cuisine that was rooted in the hearty, familial, and quirky culture of Minnesota. After polishing those inherent culinary skills in some of the finest New York City establishments (specifically Bouley, Boulud, Vongerichten, and Gallante), she returned with her husband and son to homestead in a rural Northern Minnesota town only 20 miles from where they grew up. Oh, and she also had a few stints performing on a certain Eagan stage...

To me, the show is a mix of The Pioneer Women and The Barefoot Contessa with more warmth, rustic qualities, and winter. I mean, any chef that notes a recipe should have "the texture of a snow drift" and uses the phrase "namby pamby" on television is alright by me.
Did I mention I am also a fan of her bangs and outfits?

But cap sleeves and peasant blouses aside, let's focus on the most vital aspects - the food. The glorious food!

Don't worry - it's not hot dishes and jello molds. Although I'm sure if it was, the spread would be DELICIOUS.

Her recipes on the top of my to do list include:
Maple Bread with Soft Cheese

Cast Iron Carrots with Curry

Best-Ever Beer Cheese Soup

Blueberry-Lemon Pie

Or how about some Horseradish Ice Cubes to melt into your spicy Bloody Mary?

I don't know about you, but I'm hungry.

Until Season 3 premiers, I'll have to keep my heartland tastebuds satisfied by utilizing her cookbook, The New Midwestern Table. This is a must for your cookbook collection.
The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes

See? Another cute shirt.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July Sponsors

It's July 1st! And besides a pinch and a punch for the first of the month, you also get your top-of-the-month dose of animal cuteness. Here is July's round-up:

Baby elephants taking a bath:

What's more aw-worthy than a collection of ragtag dogs? A collection of wet rag-tag dogs!

This slow loris doesn't have a security blanket, he has a security umbrella:

These dogs want you to get bangs:

It's been 30+ years and no one ever told me about pygmy goats? Oh, Buttermilk...

...and why.

I'm not sure what is better, the fact that a baby monkey is riding backward on a pig, or the accompanying theme song:

So there you have it, kids. Hope July is starting off with a smile.