Take to the road

I took a road trip with a friend last week to the Twin Cities. The goal? A concert. Not just any concert: Tori Amos. It pretty much rocked my face off. To make matters even more exciting, it was my cohort’s birthday, so of course we had to go see Tori. No matter it was the middle of the week; Wednesdays, it turns out, are the best days for adventures and road trips.

When my cohort and I first arrived in the Cities, we decided to wander the sculpture garden at Walker. Aside from the giant cherry on a spoon (ahem, “Spoonbridge and Cherry”), and the wacky iron and bronze sculptures outdoors, there’s also a humongous glass fish inside the Cowles Conservatory. It’s pretty amazing, and it had been awhile since I got to wander the sculpture garden, so it was a nice pre-concert diversion.

Spoonbridge and Cherry is a traditional sight-seeing spot when you visit Minneapolis.

Spoonbridge and Cherry is a traditional sight-seeing spot when you visit Minneapolis.

The concert itself: brilliant. I failed to take a camera, but Opal in the rough over on Flickr got some very nice photos: the traditional Oh, I’m just playing two different pianos on opposite sides, no big deal shot, and a lovely, classic Tori face. The concert was at the State Theater on Hennepin. Our seats were pretty kick-ass: row Q, on the far right, is pretty much perfect for a performer who tends to favor her Bösendorfer (the one she’s playing in the second link). And with my new specs, I could actually see Tori’s face and not just a haze of wonderful music. It was phenomenal. As my cohort said, “Best. Birthday. Ever!”

Afterward, we zig-zagged (with much more zig than necessary) our way back to her brother’s pad in a suburb east of St. Paul, where we crashed for the night. Or at least that was the intention; in actuality, there was talking and wine and sleeping very small amounts. We met up with a Luther chum of mine (whom I refer to in my head as HoJo, but is not, in fact, a hotel chain [which first I learned of back when I read the Babysitter’s Club series; I always thought it was an ice cream shop or something]) for breakfast at a coffee shop where he said he’s spent a lot of time studying. (Delicious food, and they had Reed’s Ginger Brew, which is my favorite ginger ale.) I might mention here that I successfully drove to meet with HoJo, and managed to get both my cohort and I back on the road to central Iowa in once piece. (First time driving in the Twin Cities, that. I’ve been there a few times of course, but I tend to occupy the passenger seat.)

It was a beautiful couple of days, and a pretty perfect road trip.

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In the kitchen for a change

I got a wild hair Saturday morning, which sent me on an online treasure hunt. The booty? A recipe for challah. (I chose challah because it’s delicious. The bread thing struck me a few days ago, to celebrate the first harvest — Lughnasadh or Lammas to some.) I finally decided on smitten kitchen’s post, best challah. (Only the best for me, you know.) For wacky reasons I still haven’t figured out, I didn’t get to the actual dough-making until about 8:15 last night. Those of you who’ve made bread know that this might be a fool’s errand. Call me a fool: I made bread anyway.

Challah is a workout when you don't have a mixer.

Challah is a workout when you don't have a mixer.

Well, the actual baking took place this morning before I went to work. That was thanks to this gem at the beginning of the recipe: three risings always makes for the tastiest loaves, even better if one of them is slowed down in the fridge. Bingo! The dough’s third rising was indeed spent in the fridge; at 11:15 I didn’t think I could wait another two hours to go to bed, as my eyelids were already drooping. I fell asleep smelling pleasantly of dough.

Something I have learned: making a lot of bread without a mixer is work. I got a lot of good anaerobic exercise last night mixing that dough, and I’m pretty sure my arm muscles are a little achey. All for good, though: aside from having a slightly thicker than expected (and somewhat bland) crust, I’m very pleased with the results. I suppose I ought to have halved the recipe — I have two large, clumsy 6-braid loaves — but bread is good. It was a nice match with cottage cheese and an apple for lunch, which I consumed by watching Epitaph One on my newly-arrived Dollhouse DVD. (And for the record, Joss Whedon is a genius, in case you didn’t know.)