four days in florida

Cam and I went to Florida last week! We took a red-eye! We survived! We went to the beach! We ate key lime pie! It was fantastic. The trip that is. But the pie was, too.

IMG_2663^^photo credit: alli^^

My dearest friend Alli had a baby in February, so I’d been planning to make a trip to Minneapolis to meet lil Charlie, but she and her parents were kind enough to invite me to their place in Fort Myers instead. I love Minneapolis, but who could say no to some Florida sunshine? Frontier is kind enough to have a direct flight from DIA to Southwest Florida International Airport at the worst times imaginable, and I’ll do anything for Alli and also not to have a connection, so I signed us up. It was fun to travel with just Cameron, and I must admit I was much less nervous for this first flight of his than I was when I took Willa on hers at around the same age! Of course I missed the other half of our family, but I was happy to have a few days of just girls + babies.

IMG_9263^^11:55pm at DIA. i put him to bed at 7pm so he could sleep until we left for the airport at 9:30. he then took another snooze in my arms at the gate around 10:30, but woke up excited to hear we had a 30 minute delay. as he smiled and squirmed around on the floor at our gate, several people looked on. i decided to tell myself that they were marveling at his cuteness rather than judging me for putting my baby on the dirty floor. but when you have 4 hours ahead of you on a plane with a lap infant, you gotta rest your arms while you can!^^

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA^^arrived! happy to meet his new best bud charlie.^^

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DSC07162^^on our first morning, we hit up a farmers’ market. florida style: in a parking lot at a mall. i did, however, get a smoothie that hit the spot like nothing else. what is it about fruit juice in hot weather? so good.^^

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DSC07172^^aquatic facilities + cam’s first swim!^^

DSC07187^^dudes in hanna andersson pjs enjoying some back time with orange toys.^^

DSC07184^^indoor/outdoor living is the best.^^

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IMG_9292^^even bigger aquatic facilities + another dip.^^

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA^^we made a trip to barefoot beach. i was in heaven. cam was unsure about the water. but he did enjoy a long nap to the sound of the waves.^^

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IMG_9335^^i can never get enough of tropical vegetation. or rodes key lime pie. we bought it on my last night there, so i of course ate 4 pieces.^^

IMG_9345^^cam figured he should test out the carpet at southwest florida airport too. you can see on his face that he was a bit bummed about going home though. or maybe that’s because it was 6am. i was happily drinking a $6 starbucks latte to energize myself for the flight home.^^

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spicy pork lettuce wraps

There are many, MANY reasons why I am not and could not be a food blogger. One of them is that I never remember to take pictures of food while I’m making it. Sometimes I strike upon a great dinner by chance/luck/skills and I’m like, “man, if only I’d taken pictures, I could blog about this!” But then again, since my blog has no real specific direction, I can blog about whatever the heck I feel like, pictures or not. Right? Right.

A week or so ago, I made the best (BEST!) pork lettuce cups. I often make some version of stir-fried ground meat with Asian seasonings and serve it in lettuce leaves. But, for years, I’ve never really had a go-to recipe. I’ve made different ones, or just improvised, but I’ve never found a go-to, staple recipe. The wait is over. This one is it. A keeper. It was so good. Easy to make, yet super flavorful. Pretty much what we’re all striving for in the dinner department, no?

And then, icing on the cake, I made it again the other day and remembered to take pictures. So, basically, I am a food blogger?

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Spicy Pork Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2-3. Easily doubled.

1lb ground pork
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1c shredded or sliced carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced
2T minced peeled ginger
1t Siracha
1t sugar
2T fish sauce
2t sesame oil
2T plus 1T grapeseed oil
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2T oyster sauce
1/4c (large handful) mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/4c (large handful) fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/4c (large handful) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
24 Boston or iceberg lettuce leaves

1. Mix the pork, red bell pepper, carrots, garlic, ginger, siracha, sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, and 2T grapeseed oil in a bowl.

2. Heat remaining 1T grapeseed oil in a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the bowl of meat, vegertables and seasonings. Stir-fry until the pork is cooked through. Don’t stir constantly; allow the pork to brown in spots.

3. Remove from heat, and add the oyster sauce, scallions, mint, basil, and cilantro. Stir to combine. (Alternatively, allow meat to cool to room temperature, and then add the herbs. This will keep them from wilting as much.)

4. Serve alongside lettuce leaves, with additional Siracha if desired.

frikadelle + other fun

FRIKADELLE!!!! That’s German for “meat patty.” Apparently, during the industrial revolution, German immigrants in NYC needed a way to eat them faster and on-the-go, so they put the frikadelle between two slices of bread, and the hamburger was born.

We had frikadelle a week or so ago, thanks to my friend Marret who was visiting for a few weeks last month. She’s from Hamburg, Germany, and was an exchange student with my parents 10 years ago (what!? 10 years!?). It was so fun to have her here to spend time with us. We were able to reconnect, have a lot of laughs, and eat a lot of good food. And it was amazing to watch her get to know the kids. (The day we took her to the airport, as I was getting Willa ready for her nap, she suggested we take “a lot of planes” to Germany “next weekend.” Melted my heart.)

DSC06991^^There’s the frikadelle. On greens with roasted butternut squash and potatoes. It was delicious. Marret made the disclaimer that it wasn’t really a “German dinner” that she made us. But, I say, she’s German and she made a dinner that she would make at home, so that’s pretty much a German dinner. No? Whatever you call it, it was healthy and delicious and it was so nice of her to do the cooking. (Not to mention all the dishes she did while she was visiting!)^^

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IMG_8948^^There was a sunny hike with Willa’s playschool group. And on another day, a trip to the mountains to snowboard!^^

DSC06901^^Falafel was made! ^^

DSC06911^^And a marzipan cake! (Willa is always game to help with baking. She loves to cook and/or knows she’ll get to lick some batter.)^^

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IMG_9078^^We went to Union Station and hit up Zoe Ma Ma for lunch.^^

IMG_9135^^Willa learned where Germany is. Or at least that Germany, is.^^

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IMG_9109^^Pizza salad and gelato at Parisi!^^

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IMG_9127^^Girls’ night out at The Source. Comida tacos of course. Hold the cilantro for Marret. And the avocado thanks to my newly developed intolerance (aka the worst development ever!).^^

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IMG_8894^^Most importantly, chocolates were exchanged.^^

THANK YOU for coming to visit Marret! We loved having you!