Joining My Tribe: Twin Cities Bloggers

Joining My Tribe Twin Cities Bloggers | KaleAndAle

Community is important for any blogger

When I moved to the Twin Cities I knew just enough people to stay busy in my comfort zone. Having moved to South Florida when I was 25 and staying for 7.5 years, I forgot what it’s like to be in a new place. However, I moved in with a good friend from high school and got settled into my new life. I was busy with work, my blog, exploring my new home, visiting family and finding a house of my own.

As things settled down, I wanted more. To meet new people. To be a part of this community I was making my home. As an introvert communicator, I naturally take to social media. I had started to build a group of others in the Twin Cities who enjoy social media, many with blogs as well. I started following more bloggers, learning about events and the Twin Cities blogging scene. It reminded me of the South Florida social media and tech community, something I enjoyed being on the outskirts of and was a thriving place to be with other like-minded enthusiasts.

Joining My Tribe Twin Cities Bloggers MnBlogCon | KaleAndAle

From a Minnesota Blogger Conference session, Nov. 14, 2015.

As I went to one event, I learned of others. I would follow a few bloggers and hear about the groups they are involved in, resources they know, other bloggers they follow. Twin Cities bloggers pride themselves on being part of a shared community, and it shows through networking events, conferences and resources. This fall, I feel like I’m starting to grow my tribe of others in the community who blog and use social media for brand management.

Blogging is a hobby for me. For some, its their livelihood. It’s great to hang out with like-minded people (mostly ladies) with eclectic interests showcased on a blog, share war stories or bounce ideas while having a drink and exchanging business cards. To have a blog, even as a hobby, is time consuming. It’s not just throwing a few hundred words online. It’s planning, taking photos, formatting and marketing for each post. It’s connecting with readers, sharing expertise. I do it because I love writing my passions and connecting to others with the same interests of a healthy, balanced and active lifestyle. Sharing and communicating information is my hobby and my career. I really enjoy all aspects of blogging and love finding my tribe of ladies that feel the same for everyone to succeed and thrive. Being part of the community helps me stay creative, energized and motivated.

Because we are a tribe, I share some of my favorite resources below. Please share yours in the comments; I would love to check them out!

Blogger Resources and Communities

Minnesota Blogger Conference: One-day conference in St. Paul, it has speaker presentations online
WordCamp: Worldwide conferences focusing on WordPress, the platform this blog is on. I haven’t been to one but hope to go to the next one near me.
Twin Cities Blogger Collective: Hosts events and opportunities for bloggers in the Twin Cities to have resources and network with one another
Minnesota Blogger Bash: Bloggers connect with one another and brands at events every few months
Midwest Bloggers: I don’t know much, but said to be a place for bloggers throughout the Midwest to learn and connect
The North Nabe: An online community of and for Minnesota bloggers

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad | Recipe |

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad

As the weather gets colder, I gravitate toward warmer, heartier dishes. However, my love for salads doesn’t subside just because the temperatures drop, so a heartier and warmer dish is in order. Like many who live in cold and snowy (although not yet, I’ll take it!) climates, I am looking for more substantial food in the winter. Combining kale with the Minnesota favorite wild rice creates a filling and chewy salad that holds up as either a side or a lighter main dish. And the deep red pomegranate seeds provide a pop of flavor that is worth the minimal effort of getting the seeds from the fruit. (Learn how to deseed a pomegranate.)

I love making this salad because the vinaigrette only gets better over time, so make it on a Sunday and have it as an easy side dish or quick lunch early in the week. The recipe only calls for half the vinaigrette for the kale, but it’s a warming topping full of flavor that if you are like me, you’ll be adding more to the salad so the rice can soak it up.

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad dressing | KaleAndAle

It’s important to massage the kale with the vinaigrette so the kale wilts a little.

By leaving out the optional parmesan or feta cheese, this gluten-free recipe is also vegan, or is vegetarian with the addition of a salty cheese. And because the salad tastes good cold or room temperature, it makes a festive holiday dish that everyone can enjoy. Because you are cooking the rice while getting the rest of the salad ready, it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad | Recipe |
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad
Print Recipe
A hearty and filling wither salad that is great as a side dish or main meal.
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad | Recipe |
Kale, wild rice and pomegranate salad
Print Recipe
A hearty and filling wither salad that is great as a side dish or main meal.
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-6 people, depending if main or side dish 15 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings: people, depending if main or side dish
  1. For the vinaigrette, in a bowl or shaker add the cumin, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and blend. Set aside.
  2. Place the kale in a large bowl, top with half the vinaigrette and massage into the kale to slightly wilt for a few minutes.
  3. Fold in the rice and pomegranate seeds.
  4. Top with cheese or nutritional yeast (if using) and more vinaigrette if desired. Can be eaten right away or later to let flavors develop, cold or at room temperature.
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A real vegetarian’s view on fake meat


A real vegetarian's view on fake meat | Kale And Ale

Flickr photo by Ginny

Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike seem split into two camps on fake or mock meat products: They are a godsend or vilified if one doesn’t eat meat.

When I became a vegetarian, I often relied on fake meat. As a high schooler always on the go, it was a simple, quick and filling option. And it made the transition to a meat-free lifestyle easier because I was making and eating fake versions of things I was familiar with.

Once in college and on my own, I took the time to learn how to cook more food. I educated myself on eating a balanced diet that doesn’t include meat. I explored new foods and how to make meals that include protein without having meat at the center of the plate. I met other vegetarians and tried new types of foods that were more readily available in my college town.

The very first recipe I made when I became a vegetarian at 15 is still one of the easiest and most favorite recipe in my go-to arsenal, the chickpea patty. What inspired me to make more patties (and my own food in general) was getting tired of looking at ingredients on prepared foods and not knowing or being able to pronounce what the heck I was reading.

I’ve never been one of those people looking down on others or shaming them for wanting a veggie burger, or chicken wings or the like. I crave a veggie brat at cookouts in the summer. (Check out this awesome, flavorful recipe for homemade brats.) Breaded buffalo tofu is part of a tasty meal with a beer. But I don’t eat these things because I crave or miss meat. I desire them because they are really flavorful and/or bring back good food memories and shared experiences—a brat around a picnic table with family or breaded tofu watching a game with friends.

I’m more than fine not eating the mock loaf shaped like an animal. I haven’t missed meat since one week after I stopped eating it. But I will have a flat, chewy food containing protein that i made myself on my plate this Thanksgiving (most likely Isa Chandra’s chickpea cutlets), and I’ll make sure its covered in (vegetarian) gravy. Not because I’m missing the turkey on my plate that everyone else is eating, but because I want to be part of the shared experience.

What’s your view on fake meats and why? Please note if you’re vegetarian/vegan or a meat eater.

Vegetarian main foods to make for Thanksgiving

If you aren’t eating meat, it doesn’t meat you can’t have a filling main dish. Here are some suggestions featured on Kale and Ale. Other ideas can be found on my Pinterest board.

Baked Portobello Parmesan

Cauliflower steaks

Chickpea cutlets

Mushroom roll

Craft Beer Events Bingo

Once you start getting into craft beer, going to bars that have a good (hopefully rotating) selection of brews, or following bars and resources on social media, you will become aware of craft beer events, festivals, tastings and release events. At these events, you are likely to see the same types of people and happenings. It’s often so expected and cliché, you might become surprised when you don’t see it.

I recently wrote about going to Surly Darkness Day, and this weekend I went to the largest Surly tap takeover ever, 36 taps of Surly! Being a beer I really like being held close enough where I could bike, these have been exciting events for me.


These types of events bring out all kinds of people. This is awesome, as everyone is in a different place for craft beer or has a different reason to love it. Some people are curious and new to the scene, some come to get rare beers (as is the case for me at the tap takeover), some just like a good party. The reason for everyone is different, but the goal is to have a good time and enjoy a drink or two. I’m the type of person who seeks out new beers, so I’ve been to an event or two in my day. And since I love watching people and am curious and detail oriented, I’ve noticed some similarities in all the events.

Kale and Ale Beer Bingo

With that, I have with the help of my friend Kim, also a craft beer event fan, put together a bingo card that can be used at craft beer events and festivals. Click the card below and you will be taken to 16 Bingo cards where the words (think: pretzel necklace, person wearing unironic beer shirt, baby in stroller or hanging from parent) are in different boxes. If you use this, let me know how it goes over and how accurate it was (or feel free in the comments below to suggest more/new/different words to add).

Beer Bingo |


First Time Brewing Beer

Valerie Bitter Birthday | KaleAndAle

Enjoying the first brew, it was a tasty success!

If you like Kale and Ale on Facebook, I have posted pictures of my first homebrew adventure. I won’t post much now because I hope you have been following along, but if not, here are a few thoughts!

I attended a class a few years ago about brewing my own beer. They kept saying you can both mess it up and not mess it up, and the risk seemed too great to lay down all the money to get equipment. In steps a boyfriend with equipment, a science mind and experience! OK, I’m in.

We went to Northern Brewer and picked out an extract kit, which gave detailed directions, and even if you have questions, Northern Brewer is there to help, as they asked if we had any questions, had the right yeast, etc., before leaving. We opted for a bitter pale ale based on the temperature where it would be stored and our tastes in beer.

Sterilize beer | KaleAndAle

Had to realize when things had been sterilized. Don’t be that guy who ruins the beer, Val!

The hardest part of brew day was that it took some time and that everything had to be sterilized and it was so hard to remind myself what had been sterilized and to not touch it after the fact. But it was great adding hops smelling them and knowing how when they are added in the boil process will affect the outcome. At the end of brew day I was really giddy. Each step along the way was quick and another step closer to beer. Every day I would run to the carboy and look at the progress as it was moving along.

First ferment | KaleAndAle

First fermenter is active.

Second ferment | KaleAndAle

Moving to the second fermenter and dry hopped the beer.

Opening the first bottle and hearing the carbonation escape was a relief, and I loved tasting the hard work that we made.

Bitter Birthday bottle | KaleAndAle

Capping it old school.

Since then, we have talked about what style we might make next, creating our own recipe based off what we know about beer, what we have read and our preferences. As a recipe developer, this is very exciting for me and sounds like the perfect winter activity.

Do you brew beer? If so, how did you get into it and what memorable experiences do you have?