Saturday, October 24, 2009

A trip to the Library

Ok I admit I do judge a book by its cover. For example whether I pick up a book by an unfamiliar author is determined by two things (this does not include being recommended or mentioned by an author I already like) #1 a great title that automatically makes me want to at least read the back and #2 a great cover that catches my eye. I read a lot, like at least a book a week and that's when I am really busy. So I make a lot of trips to the library to replenish the stockpile. I was picking up some holds at the Sun Ray library in Saint Paul a couple months ago and noticed the new fiction shelf nearby. I was getting ready for a trip to San Diego and needed a few more books for the plane and for down time at the pool and Daryl Gregory's debut novel "Pandemonium" caught my eye. I am definitely a sucker for science fiction already and I loved both the interesting cover art and title automatically so I read the back and when I saw that it had Philip K. Dick as a character (possessed by VALIS no less) I had to read it. It turns out my instincts were right! It was a great book that like many that I love I was sad to see end. I will let you read reviews and summaries elsewhere since I don't really want to regurgitate stuff that is written for you already on Amazon. Another book I recently came upon in a similar way was "Alive in Necropolis" by Doug Dorst, another brilliant debut novel. I was drawn to the cover in the same way and although the book was not as sci-fi as I expected, it was a really wonderful character study about a small town cop who isn't really sure what he wants out of life and his relationships with his friends, alive and dead. Check that out at Amazon as well!

Sugar Cookies

I have been looking for a really great sugar cookie recipe for a long time. Think Bloedow's bakery in Winona. This week I tried out Grandma Wittenberg's recipe. The cookies turned out really good, light and crispy with soft interiors. I added coconut to some of them and I absolutely love them. I don't think its quite right yet but we are definitely moving in the right direction.

Here's the recipe:

Grandma's Sugar Cookies (from the kitchen of JoAnn Wittenberg)

1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c butter (I use half margarine)
1/2 c oil
1 egg

cream these ingredients then add

1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/8 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

mix well, chill dough for about 2 hours. Roll in 1 inch balls, dip in sugar and/or coconut and flatten with a glass.

Bake about 15 min at 350 degrees.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Many Profound Appologies

Sorry Folks, I have been busier than a baker on Sunday morning lately. I promise to find something fun to blog about soon!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Josh and I were perusing the southern part of Saint Paul and West Saint Paul in search of Tamarid Jarritos and a new bathtub faucet when we decided to try out Pineda for lunch. I have had delicious Tortas from Pineda on Lake Street but was never terribly impressed with the cleanliness of that place. This restaurant on the other hand was very clean and the food was fantastic. We have since returned and its only been about a month since we went in the first place (that is unusual for us). I also really dig the architecture, the signage and the windows!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Nightmare Fuel

Ok the gun lamp isn't that frightening but it was from the same trip to Winona's Sugarloaf Antiques so I had to include it for the record.

Power Man

If I still lived in Winona

I would buy this motel and make it a super cool bed and breakfast type place filled with mid-century modern pieces of furniture and really nice interior design.  It would also have a gallery where I would show art made by the most talented people I know.  I'm not saying it would make money there, but I have always been fond of the place.

A neighborhood of note

I was in this neighborhood making a delivery a while ago and was excited to see so many post-war ramblers of the variety I do so love.  Check it out, just drive Snelling further south than Ford Parkway to where it becomes curvy and twisty and enjoy!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Joanna (my sister) and I recently made a pilgrimage to Ikea to check out sofas for her and shop for random goodness.  I got some new pans, a new shower curtain and bath mat, and a bunch of little things that added up fast.  You might think its strange that a furniture maker like myself loves Ikea as much as I do but then you probably have never been broke.

many sorries

Dear Interweb users, I am sorry for not being online sharing goodness with you for so long.  Our Imac finally shit the bed for real and wouldn't let us turn it on.  So after three weeks of trying to fix it we gave up and now have ourselves a new Mac Mini.  Its very fancy although for some reason my scanner doesn't work with it.  Anyway now I will be able to blog again without going to the library to do it.  I am so spoiled from having internet access here at home, I never realize how much I love/use it until I can't.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Interpretive pothole trail

Why make it when Jesus can?

Occasionally I get to go out to eat. I am cheap. Really cheap. So its hard to get me to do anything fun if it costs money. But one thing I will treat myself to once in a while is a nice dinner out. Or even a nice but not fancy dinner out. So here are some restaurant reviews from my excursions around Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Panera Bread: Ok I know you are probably thinking, what the heck, thats not like a real restaurant Katie its a bakery! But Panera actually has some of the best sandwiches and absolutely the best soup in a bread bowl I have had. (Renaissance Fest you were a close second). Our closest Panera that I know of is off White Bear Avenue just north of hwy 36. Its cozy and warm and features a lovely fire place in the center of the dining area. The wall paper needs to go and the paint could be touched up but its nice enough for a couple of sandwich eaters. I have never been dissappointed with the food and I highly recommend the Cream of Chicken with Wild Rice soup in a Sourdough bread bowl. So good. And you probably don't need to have it with a sandwich its so filling. Not too shabby for five bucks.

Manny's Tortas: I love this place. Both the Midtown Global Market and the Lake street locations are excellent although the Lake Street storefront restaurant is nicest comfort-wise. Their Mexican sandwiches (tortas!) are yummy with the right amount of spiciness, or if you can't handle too much hold the jalapenos. My personal favorite is the Turkey Torta and they come with chips too, get a lime Jarritos to wet your whistle! The price is right at about 7 bucks per sandwich.

Spiros International Imports: This place has a deli worth visiting if you want a quick lunch to go. The Gyros are delicious and messy. Sometimes the guy behind the counter makes fun of you but the food is cheap and filling and tastes good and its a good place to calm my gyro craving.

Mediterranean Cruise Cafe
: If you actually know me than chances are I have mentioned this place a time or two or a dozen, or maybe I dragged you there. If I haven't call me up and lets go. They food here is awesome. You can start your meal with flaming cheese. Order the Cruise Feast to partake in a lovely Greek salad, pita bread, Gyro meat, Chicken kebabs, falafel and yummy rice. It is also the only place I have been lately where the meal is worth the $17 price tag. Because as an added bonus you get belly dancers! Lovely ladies work muscles I didn't know we had while you eat! They spin with things on their heads, they wear beautiful costumes and they teach little kids and birthday boys to wiggle their hips. Its a great dinner with a great show. They are getting a new place soon (June 2009) so hopefully it will be bigger and every seat can get a view of the stage. If you have a big group make a reservation. I think they only do reservations for 6 or more but if you can get one make one, and if you don't have one show up at an odd time like 5:37 or 7:22 because the doorway fills up fast. Go there, it will be amazing.

Dixies on Grand: This is southern food the spicy way. Each month they switch their featured state so they usually have something different to try. I had the catfish sandwich off of the normal menu when Josh and I went there most recently. It was pretty good but really really filling. I have had a few things there and they were good but I find the bbq stuff too spicy which is sad because that is always what I want. I was disappointed in the fact that they do not have hush puppies which is the best southern food ever. Their crab cakes are excellent but pricey. Parking is a huge hassle though (on weekends), even though they have a lot because they want to charge for valet service. So I park on the street a bock a way.

Mai Village
: Ambiance is the best thing about this place. They have really nice Asian details on wall partitions and chairs, with bridges and Koi ponds and waterfalls I can see why someone would rent it out for a wedding (I know someone who did). However, the food is not that great. If its not a spicy dish it is bland. The spring rolls are about the best thing on the menu. But don't go there, we got food poisoning from the egg rolls once.

Hoa Bien: Luckily there is an even better Vietnamese restaurant just down the street where the food is always good and tasty and not poisonous. Hoa Bien was introduced to me on my first day at 314 studios almost 4 years ago. At that time it was a tiny building packed full of old booths and patrons scrambling to fill them for lunch. Since then they tore down the old place and built a huge building with a large dining area and a banquet room. The food stayed just as good and I still love the beef noodle salad. The egg roll version is awesome, and the broccoli chicken is the best I have ever had. Also good are spring rolls and egg rolls. Hoa Bien is run by a family and the servers are always really friendly. Highly recommended.

Ngon: Another "fancier" "Vietnamese Bistro," Ngon has a cozier atmosphere that you can probably take your hipster food snob friends too. Its elegant, there are swirls of sauce on your plates and yeah its more expensive. But not too much. The spring rolls are nice, and the chicken noodle salad is very good. I really like the sauce they use on the chicken. I have heard from reliable sources that most of the menu is worth eating although my picky brother (now eating rancid yak butter on his rice in Mongolia) didn't care much for his pho. But thats not what I want to eat anyway! Its the kind of place you take your parents when they are picking up the tab or I suppose you could take a date there to impress her/him. I hope the soap dispenser in the bathroom works better next time I go since I think I caught a cold there last time.

Ho Ho Gormet: This is one of my favorite places specifically because it is half a mile from my house and is yummy! I really love the Black Bean Chicken Hong Kong Style. Its a mouthful in name and flavor and serving size. I don't know what to say about this place other than they are fast, the buffet doesn't look worth it but its not everyday, the food is consistently good, the staff doesn't think you want to drink anything and they close early so get there early! Anyway the price is right and I want to eat that Chicken now.

Acapulco: Mmmmm Mexican food in Woodbury. Acapulco features some tasty burritos and yummy chimichangas. The wet burrito and creamed burrito are some of my favorite menu items and this place is one of the places that is always on the where do you want to go list. Sometimes the Maplewood location even has a mariachi trio playing which is awesome especially when they play only tv theme songs from the 50s-70s. Also the chips and salsa are addicting.

True Thai: I can't say I know too much about this place, yet. I went once and was really hungry and was very satisfied with my meal even when I wasn't sure I would like it. I got the red curry dish with chicken. It was creamy with coconut milk and delicious. My mouth is watering thinking about it. They also have yummy spring rolls and Josh was very happy with his Pad Thai. I hope we can go back some day and sit further inside the door and see the rest of the place but it was a good time with Dad and Daniel anyway!

I am still looking for a good bbq place, a meat and potatoes fish place, and more mexican restaurants to try, also more middle eastern/mediterranean places. If you know any good ones please advise!

Happy May Day!

Yeah baby its May Day. That day when its ok to ring people's doorbells and run away. Although I guess you should leave a goody basket or something. No random doorbell ringers for me today but I guess that's ok, I still have way too many chocolate eggs from the Easter Bunny mail carrier. So lets talk about candy since I have been consuming it a lot lately. Did you know Chocolate has no calories? Ok well my brain seems to think it doesn't and I therefore eat it like it doesn't. My favorite this time of year is Cadbury Creme Eggs. I don't really know why since they make my teeth ache with sugar pain. But I love them, I do, I can't help it. So chocolatey and full of fake egg stuff. Yummers.

But if we are going to talk chocolate I have to point out that my all time favorite has to be Ritter Sport Bars.
I am especially fond of any of the versions with hazelnuts white, dark or milk chocolate. All are goodness in square form. I do know why I love these though, because its family in a chocolate bar. I had the privilege of spending three of my little kid years in Germany where such delicious chocolate was not hard to find or afford. I also have a mom who believes in desert every night and our desert often consisted in chocolate- please note that a sixth of a Ritter Sport bar is not all that fattening so its not like she was fattening us up for the slaughter or something. So whenever I have one of these I feel like I am home.

But back to eggs, because where would a blog about chocolate and Germany and eggs be without Kinder Ueberaschungs Eier! Thats Kinder Surprise Eggs.
Which are banned by the consumer product safety commission because kids are stupid and might eat the surprise which is contained in a plastic bubble within the chocolate egg. I will never understand this. The candy is delicious and the toy is almost always awesome, either a figurine or a vehicle to assemble or a bizzare contraption or a puzzle which isn't so awesome but sometimes it is like when my mom brought kinder eggs home from Mexico right after we got our cat and the puzzle Josh got featured a photo of a cat that could be Shatner's twin. Anyway the point is that these are available all over the world except the United States because here, parents don't teach their kids to not eat things inside the bubble in their eggs. WTF? Everyone else can handle it why can't we? Anyway also of note is the shear volume of different toys in these eggs. I have probably seen two of the same thing three times in all of the many many eggs my siblings and I have eaten in the past 22 years. And the toys are really cool, and detailed, and well designed. Anyway if you can find them get them, it will be worth it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Recomended Reading

Its about time for more recipes right? Well here is a favorite from my go-to book on bread-making with a bread-maker! Go get it and enjoy all of the other deliciousnesses!

excercise a go-go

Josh got me "The World Famous Pontani Sisters" work out dvd "Go-Go Robics" for my birthday two years ago. I have been admittedly less than faithful to using it because a) I hate working out and b) I feel stupid doing it in my living room with the window right by the tv and also in the dark with the shades drawn. BUT, I did find the perfect opportunity to do the workout- after eating way too much food after our annual Christmas potluck last year! Yeah I don't get why its less embarrassing to do with other fools than without. Thats just the way I work. I would post pictures but I "accidentally" erased them off my computer yesterday. Sorry but Emmy and Jessica will be thanking me for doing so. Anyway if you are looking for a good sweaty workout with lots of great dance moves like the hully gully, the Courtney Cox, and the motown check it out, gather your girlfriends and have fun!

architectural comfort food

Driving around when we were looking for our house I came across this house and instantly loved it as I do pretty much all mid-century ramblers. I finally figured out why I like them though, my parents' house has the same basic sprawling shape but with the garage underneath. Its like architectural comfort food for me.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Penguins!

Sonic Motel

I took this photo after a family dinner in Wisconsin on the ride back to Winona. I made the van load of Weispfennings and Wittenbergs pull into the improbably steep driveway just so I could collect this sign. Stuff like this makes me warm and fuzzy inside, its just too bad the rocket and its tail were burnt out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Whats for dinner tonight?

Ok I seriously hate this question, but it gets asked every night and unless Josh gets a flash of inspiration before I get home from work I get to puzzle it out. What should I make, or more accurately what should I make that I haven't made in the last week or weeks if I am feeling adventurous. The truth is I know maybe a handful of recipes, and most of the good ones take over and hour of prep and baking/cooking time. Josh gets sick of having the same thing all the time but I have almost no ambition to make something else and no inspiration when it comes to grocery shopping so I have to make do with what I've got. Tonight we are having meatloaf. Not too special but warm and good and ketchup is involved so thats a plus for me. (note to self: out of Ketchup) Here is the recipe for your enjoyment:

Mom's Meatloaf

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 diced onion give or take
1/2 tsp sage
1 egg
1 cup crumbs
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce
Milk -enough to make it the right consistency for stirring

mix and put it all in a loaf pan

for topping if desired (we often use straight up Hunts Ketchup but I love the sweetness of this stuff:)
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Ketchup
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard

top and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

I admit I am not a great cook but give me a recipe and I can make delicious food. Especially if I get to bake it. Brownies and cookies and bread are definitely my specialties.

Welcome to my rant.

Dear Internet,

Welcome to "Cake is good, but Bread is better" home of my musings on such topics as interior, exterior, graphic and furniture design, art, music, movies, shopping, photography, animals, food, travel, mass transit, television, toyota, books and baking. I am going to try and jump around a bit theme wise because it keeps me from talking too much about work and I won't complain about the same thing all the time.

I am a furniture maker and designer based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I live on the East Side in the Sunray neighborhood. Our big news here is the impending Aldi going in down the street (7 blocks from my house) and the Peace Center which is almost finished and still a mystery. I moved here almost two years ago with my husband of almost 5 years. We moved from Saint Cloud in 2005 when I demanded that we move because I didn't want to work at a factory the rest of my life making the same 12 things. Before that we went to Saint Cloud State where I majored in unemployment (Sculpture): luckily I found a good job here in St Paul, whew. Even before all that we both went to Winona Senior High School in beautiful Winona, Minnesota which is better with nostalgia than in reality. I have a cat named Shatner Chiba, who like his namesakes is hilarious and breaks a lot of shit. Thats enough for now, lets get to some topics!