Exploring the Neighborhood Farmers Market

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New Hope Farmers Market

Saturday I explored the farmers market in my neighborhood, the New Hope Farmers Market, for the first time. I lucked out as they are building a Hy-Vee in the location of the former farmers market, so they moved the market an easy walk from my house.

(For the uninitiated, Hy-Vee is the best grocery store, employee owned in Iowa. The first Twin Cities location is near my house. And it was my first employer.)

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Rosemary and peppermint plants

In its second week of the season, the market is a good size; it has a nice variety of vendors but can be a quick trip. I went to browse for future weeks and left with two herb plants: Peppermint and rosemary.

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Produce at the New Hope Farmers Market.

Also at the market are various produce vendors, some pickle and jam stands, bakers, crafts, the University of Minnesota Extension Office, someone selling fresh chicken and the necessary singer, kettle corn vendor and mini donut maker.

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All in all the market is a great community resource. I loved seeing people walking to and from the market with their reusable bags, just as I did and will in the future. I’m happy to add it to my CSA food every week.

CSA 2015 Week 1

CSA 2015 Week 1 | KaleAndAle.comCSA 2015 Week 1 | KaleAndAle.com

CSA 2015 Week 1 haul

Today is the most exciting day of the year: My CSA returns! Full of growth and life and freshness, I love not having to plan meals so open-ended but getting what is best and at its peak of the season.

The CSA always starts slow, but that’s OK because I need to get back into the swing of prep. This week’s food includes:

  • 2 tomato plants for the garden
  • An English Thyme herb (anyone know recipes for this??)
  • Asparagus (yuck—what are good ways to mask the taste??)
  • Two kinds of lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • Chives
  • New potatoes
  • Naan from local baker Artisan Naan Bakery

The veggies are clean. Tomorrow I plan to add the radish greens to the stuffed pasta shells I already plan to make. I will use the chives and asparagus along with mushrooms and onions in a grain bowl. The naan might be used for individual pizzas or as a sandwich wrap.

I love fresh, unprocessed eating, so I’m excited what the CSA I belong to, Culinary Delights Farm, has in store for the season.

Are you new to a CSA? Don’t be overwhelmed. With a few simple tips and go-to recipes, it’s a snap to use all your food. Check out my post “CSA Basics: Taking Care of the Food” for tricks and information. For my readers who have belonged to a CSA, what would you share to help the newbies navigate the share?

Minnesota Bucket List Revisited

St. Anthony Stone Arch | KaleAndAle.com

Looking down the Mississippi River toward St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge.

Last June I talked about compiling a Minnesota summer bucket list. Summers are of high importance here, as I quickly realized they are very short. If it is a nice day, you drop what you are doing and go outside. I definitely had become spoiled in Florida to the endless summer and had to live through a northern summer to truly appreciate the weather.

As I mentioned, last summer I wrote about a bucket list—the must-dos of the warmer months. And then three weeks later, not long into the warm weather that is our reward for a long, hard winter, I decided to buy a house. That quickly took priority, spending sunny time on my computer and driving to showings and working out logistics. In the fall I moved into my house and got to work making it my home inside.

Valerie at Brit's Pub Minneapolis | KaleAndAle.com

Enjoying the rooftop patio at Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis.

There is still more I want to do, bit since its summer, I’m taking a break to enjoy the outdoors, both near (in my yard and garden—more on that in an upcoming post) and far (well, not too far—daytrips like Waconia and around the cities).

So here I am in the summer, revisiting my Minnesota summer bucket list. Summer in Minnesota means patio drinking, festivals of all varieties, farmer markets, baseball, outdoor sports, things like that. And I’m looking forward to take in a little of everything.

Betty Danger's Country Club | KaleAndAle.com

Rode the Danger, Betty Danger’s Country Club’s carousel.

There are some good resources for summer activities and the days are filling quickly as I hear about fun things. And I’m just not going to get to everything I want. But since I didn’t get to much last year, I’m revisiting what I want to do this year. And I hope to share some adventures with you.

For my readers in the Twin Cities, what are the can’t-miss events of the summer, and why?

Homemade beer face mask

Beer face mask | KaleAndAle.com

Brightening beer face mask: Beer, egg white and lime

It’s no secret Kale and Ale is a fan of beer. A light beer is so quenching in the warmer months. So much so, my dry face didn’t want to miss out in beer’s hydrating properties.

Since leaving the humid locales of South Florida, my already dry skin has been extra dry. I’ve spent more time and money these past 16 months looking into skin products than makeup. After trying a store-bought oatmeal mask, I wondered if there are homemade versions I could try.

An Internet search revealed many ingredients found in the kitchen touted in skincare products could be used to make face masks.

I clicked on a Real Simple gallery since I trust the source to be realistic and approachable for the every woman, and found many masks I want to try. But one mix jumped out at me: a beer mask. The stuff I love putting in my belly going on my face? I was so intrigued, I had to try it.

The mask consists of beer, an egg white and lime mixed and spread on the face. The reason this mask works is because the ingredients in the beer dissolve dead skin cells and, when mixed with the egg white, the mask hydrates and improves elasticity, according to the Real Simple blurb. The vitamin C in the lime helps clear pores and fade brown spots, it adds.

The egg white acts as glue to keep it all together, and right away the lime and beer made my face tingle in a good way. Also, I smelled good, so I had to remember there is raw egg in the mask, otherwise I probably would have tried to lick my own face. The mask quickly dried, so I wasn’t worrying about making a mess. Since it took almost 10 minutes to set, I kept the mask on five minutes longer than recommended for a total of 15 minutes.

The mask felt good on my face and made my face feel cleaner and tighter after. I’m not sure it was super hydrating (but I do have very dry skin, so others might notice more a difference) but it felt clarifying. I would do this mask again; I give it two cheers!

Have you used homemade beauty treatments? If so, what were they and how did they work; I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Brightening Beer Face Mask

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white
  • ½ cup beer, any brand
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Instructions

  1. Mix it all together
  2. Put on face (I used a basting brush)
  3. Wash off after 10 to 15 minutes

Exploring Carver County, Minnesota

Having recently purchased hiking shoes, I have been waiting for the weather and my schedule to align so I could break them in. No day seemed better than last Saturday, so I packed a lunch, some water, bug spray and a change of clothes and headed to Carver Park Reserve.

I picked this spot because it is less than 45 minutes from my house, free and has wineries and breweries nearby. I discovered this last fact earlier in the week reading the new issue of Minneapolis/St. Paul magazine featuring places to drink in Waconia. And once I got to the area, I was happy I decided to spend the day in Carver County. The park itself is large and nice. It has a nature center with between trails that go through trees, prairie and wetlands. It is hilly and a good beginner challenge for me and my shoes. The trails can easily be as long or short as you like, as they intertwine. I stuck to the outer trails, and they were made of dirt, rock, woodchips and grass and weeds. There were nice views, and right away in my hike I was very close to a deer eating a late breakfast or early lunch.

Breaking in my hiking shoes.

A photo posted by Valerie (@kaleandale) on

The park also has a large picnic area where I had lunch an old farmhouse, horse paths, archery and more. It is a nice, free public park and was a nice drive to get there. I enjoyed my first hike but have a tip for all newbies: Check well for ticks after your hike!

Schram Vineyards KaleAndAle.com

Loved the drink and grounds at Schram Vineyards in Waconia.

The next stop was a wonderful winery and brewery that I plan to spend more time at in the future. This trip was to check out a few places, and of the day, this was my favorite and the only place I would want to make a return trip for sure. Schram Vineyards Winery and Brewery is an old farm near a lake with a beautiful layout and grounds. They have wine flights and beer flights, making small batch beer and wine. Minnesota’s first winery/brewery combo has bocce courts and when I was there had live music and a food truck. It was a fun place to relax, with a great view. Like I said, it’s worth the drive and I will be back. And did I mention they make root beer, too?! From Schram I went into Waconia proper, hitting up Waconia Brewing Company in a new building downtown. The smell of popcorn and the look of modern furniture paired with rustic wood greeted me as I walked in. On tap were a wide variety of beers served by a very friendly server “born and raised” in Waconia. All the beers I had were solid.

Waconia Brewing Company KaleAndAle.com

Sharing the good time at Waconia Brewing Company that is my #WaconiaMinute.

Even with the construction around the building and in the city, it was worth the trip to explore what’s happening out west. And that’s what #WaconiaMinute is, to tell what you are doing this summer and what is great about it, despite the construction taking place. My first trip to Waconia was a positive one, I wanted to share my #WaconiaMinute. Next stop: Victoria and Enki Brewing. The thing is, all these stops are far enough outside the Twin Cities and small enough it’s hard to find the brews in the Cities. Enki’s ambiance has something to be desired, but the beers are good, and has a TV. Perfect for watching Triple Crowns happen (like I did). I will definitely be back to Waconia to the park and Schram Vineyards. Next time I also would like to visit J. Carver Distillery. I’m glad I took advantage of the weather and decided on a nearby escape that felt far away.