one crazy summer

I had high hopes for this week’s food for fun post. Last weekend, a friend and I threw an 80th birthday party for one of the most amazing women I know. This woman, and her party, are a natural fit here and I was looking forward to telling you how I came to meet my amazing friend 20 years ago, giving a brief recap of what she’s meant to me over the years, and finishing sweetly with three of the cookie recipes served at the party.

party time

party time

But.

undoubtedly the first non-food picture shown here

undoubtedly the first non-food picture shown @ food for fun

Summer has thrown me for a crazy loop–the kind you ride full speed at amusement parks. It happens every year–me thinking I can keep up with work projects, etc with my kids home from school, then realizing midway through that I just can’t. My only choice at that point is to give in to the free fall, hang on tightly, and enjoy the ride. This post, then, is about enjoying that ride. Here are a handful of the summer adventures that have eaten up my blogging time.

  • Took my daughters to a riding stable for a pony party. Of course there were treats. (thanks, Marlaine!)
yeehaw :-)

yeehaw 🙂

  • Enjoyed phenomenal meals at local treasures.
ribs, coleslaw, and collards @ Big Daddy's

ribs, coleslaw, and collards @ Big Daddy’s

Buttered Tin's salads, sandwiches, and sweets are top-notch

Buttered Tin’s salads, sandwiches, and sweets are top-notch

Minnetonka's General Store

Minnetonka’s General Store

  • I could say my kids dragged me to a nearby town for a candy shop tour, but that wouldn’t be entirely true as I had a hand in planning our day.20130711_12490020130711_12343120130711_125104
oh, the bounty

oh, the bounty

two words: lemon. juice.

two words: lemon. juice.

first time grilling bacon--I highly recommend

first time grilling bacon–I highly recommend

ice cube trays, oh my

ice cube trays, oh my

  • Wrote another Funny Names in Food post at Blog of Funny Names. Check it out here for more on the foods of summer.

Will close with a picture of me and dear friend and mentor, Ann.

at MIA last winter, seeing the Foods of Shakespeare exhibit

at MIA last winter, seeing the What Would Shakespeare Eat? exhibit. Thanks, Mary G for taking photo.

Hope to see you back next week when food for fun unveils Ann’s story and offers up her tasty cookie recipes.

bacon, pumpkin, scones

Working with recipes–whether in cookbooks or on websites–means inspiration is never far away. A recent find was on Hormel’s website. I’d passed over this scone recipe a few times before realizing that it was something I needed to make. And tonight was its night.

My supper menu included leftover chili–tasty, but borderline ho-hum. Pumpkin-bacon (!) scones (originally Bacon Squash Scones) seemed just the thing to make leftovers more exciting. I had just cooked up a batch of pumpkin, so was happy to sub that in for the squash. As well, I cooked up my own bacon instead of using the bits. (Six strips, weighing about 7 ounces total before frying, made just enough for this recipe. The half-cup crumbled bacon weighed just shy of 2 ounces.) I also skipped the maple-powdered sugar glaze as I wanted more savory, less sweet. Instead, I brushed the dough with a bit of buttermilk just before baking. Then, halfway through baking, the scone tops were brushed with maple syrup for a touch of sweetness and extra browning. And instead of spacing the scones 1 inch apart on a baking sheet, I shaped the dough into an 8- or so inch round and cut it, without going all the way through, into eight wedges. They were easy enough to cut through once baked.

The scones were amazing. They worked as a savory side, but I’d take one for dessert, too. (I did, in fact.) They’d make a perfect breakfast or anytime snack as well. Adding a handful of shredded Cheddar cheese and/or a sprinkling of chopped fresh chives to the dough would push them firmly into the savory category; a sprinkle of cinnamon would make them sweet. Amazing, versatile, AND they contain bacon. Triple threat scones for sure.

golden pumpkin-bacon scones

food truck tuesdays (even though today is wednesday)

Compared to other parts of the country, Minneapolis/St. Paul is late to the food truck game. While coastal cities have enjoyed fun food-on-wheels for years, the Midwest is just now starting to collect a wider variety of mobile food spots.

I’ve visited only a handful, but am grateful for even that as it’s been tough to get downtown (where the trucks are) with the busy-ness of summer schedules.

The best find so far has been a spot next to my husband’s office where a different truck parks each Tuesday. My girls and I try to join him for lunch those days to enjoy food I’d never make at home, but am happy to order from a truck.

Our finds so far:

Tot Boss

Only in Minnesota can you find a food truck focused on tater tots. Never having been a fan of these processed potato rounds (ovals?), I went because it sounded like fun. The sleek black truck–dotted with extremely large tater tots–sports plenty of attitude.

tot boss truck

tots on truck

My poutine tasted exactly like the sum of its parts (tater tots+cheese curds+so-so gravy).

poutine with tots

My youngest daughter ordered simple: side order of tots with choice of dipping sauce. Tots-and-dogs, my husband’s order, must have been unremarkable enough that I didn’t snap a picture as I couldn’t find a shot on my camera. Picture tater tots and mini corn dogs nestled together in a small food tray and you’re there. The concept was fun fun fun, but in the end, it was just tots. (Love tater tots? This is your truck.)

Bacon Trolley

You could quibble and say BT is not really a food truck, as this vintage red trolley car is pulled behind a pickup. But no matter as it’s a charmer.

bright red bacon trolley

bacon-based menu

This “truck” has received mediocre reviews from local papers, but I was wowed by my pork belly báhn mì. The textures and flavors balanced well and it was just plain gorgeous.

before the first bite

pork belly báhn mì–yum

My husband’s Spanker sandwich certainly had an inventive (and cheeky) name, but it seemed to be just an ordinary–though still delicious–barbecued pork sandwich. No complaints, but it was a bit average for the most expensive item on the menu.

pork belly spanker

The best order was the bacon popcorn for both daughters. The concept was simple enough: Buttered popcorn tossed with finely crumbled bacon, then topped with a crisply cooked bacon slice. Yes, I let my kids have popcorn and bacon for lunch. But if the popcorn counts as both grain and veg (and it does, right?) and the bacon adds protein, they had a well-balanced meal. OK, maybe no, but there’s no arguing that popcorn and bacon are brilliant together. It seems a no-brainer, but I’d never thought to combine the two. You can bet I’ll be sprinkling crumbled bacon on our popcorn next movie night.

bacon and popcorn–first-rate combo

r.a. Mac Sammy’s

I mentioned not caring much for tater tots and the same holds true for macaroni and cheese. Maybe I overindulged in my youth, but it’s a meal I’d never make for myself. That said, this truck in all its day-glo yellow glory made for a fun lunch spot.

mac and cheese on wheels

My girls ordered mac and cheese with bacon, though they could have asked for any number of toppings. Blue cheese, tomatoes, jalapeños, mushrooms, etc. were available for a small upcharge. The mini mac and cheese ordered by my girls seemed hearty enough (even my 10-year-old only ate half), so I’m curious how large the bigger size is.

bacon and cheesy mac mini

When asked independently (neither girl heard the other answer) what they thought of the dish, one girl said “too cheesy” and the other offered “not enough cheese.” Not sure what to make of that; depends on taste buds, I guess. I thought it was tasty enough, but again, not a fan so am a poor judge.

I was thrilled to find menu items with neither mac nor cheese and very much enjoyed my salmon po’ boy. Authentic it was not, but it was a well-built and delicious sandwich.

salmon po’ boy Ă  la mac-and-cheese truck

Hubby had a Nathan’s hot dog which he declared tasty.

Next Tuesday will bring another food truck to my summer and I look forward to whatever it is I’ll find. The food may not always be spectacular (though it often is), but it’s sure to be fun.