Julia said it best . . .

The past several weeks I’ve been finding more time to be in the kitchen, but instead of complicated dishes and new recipes we’ve been filling our bellies with classics and seasonal standbys.

Shredded beef with sweet potato oven fries and grandma’s coleslaw

Mac’n’cheese and beer bread

Roasted butternut squash and pork chops

Cassoulet and crusty bread

Roast, carrots, and potatoes

As Julia Child said . . .

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”

Enjoying apple season the grown up way

the nomad momma

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away and while I’m sure this only applies to the fresh fruit I will salute the adage with a toast of crisp apple cider. Summer has faded and fall is upon us and one of the few things that lifts my spirits when thinking of saying good-bye to the warm weather is the thought of all those fresh picked apples and the tasty creations they become. apples

One of the best places to enjoy the more mature of the many apple based beverages is in a region known more for its wine and cheeses than anything else. The Pays d’Auge area of Normandy, France is home to the “Route du Cidre” or Cider Road and a great epicurean extension from Paris. Only a few hours’ drive from Paris the region boasts fertile farmland and delicious cuisine using seafood, duck, and the famous Camembert cheese…

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Still a nomad: a weekend in Des Moines

I recently had my first weekend away by myself since having Olivia and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It was a blast exploring Des Moines with my sister-in-law – trying new foods without worrying about feeding someone else, exploring antique shops without this overwhelming fear that we are going to break a $1000.00 lamp, and sleeping until 6:30am!

At the same time it felt like a piece of me was missing. Nick and Olivia were never far from my thoughts and I had not realized how much of my life revolves around them. How I relate to people and experiences as well as what I am drawn to has evolved over the last three years in ways I probably haven’t fully grasped.

One thing that has been enhanced is my need to explore. Some people have kids and feel a need to hunker down and create a safe cocoon. I have found myself, however, desiring to know more about the world around me in order to share it with my daughter as well as a way to maintain a piece of my former self. While my weekends may no longer include late nights on the town or laying around until 9 or 10 I would say this weekend was a great balance of a little me time and a little world time (as well as plenty of much needed daddy-daughter time).

So it was off to Des Moines with a four hour drive of my music, singing out loud, and enjoying the beautiful fall colors developing above the golden fields ready for harvest. There were so many local little surprises along the way that I was tempted to stop at . . . so I guess a few more weekend trips that direction will be on the calendar.

I wasn’t missing out though. Once I got to Des Moines it was all about enjoying some local activities, people, and places. Saturday morning was kicked off by a trip to the farmer’s market which is still in full swing even as we approach the end of the season. Just this month Women’s Health magazine and Yelp named Des Moines the best up and coming city for foodies and for good reason. We made a quick lap around the market to decide what we wanted for breakfast – sweet rolls, ham and cheese crossaint, Dutch letter, breakfast burrito, mango on a stick???? After a double lap we finally settled on egg sandwiches from Local Yokels. breakfast sand

local yokelA fluffy brioche bun toasted on the griddle encompassed a perfectly cooked egg, sautéed lightly salted kale, and a slice of both yellow and red tomato. It was a savory package of deliciousness that I was still thinking about at the end of the day!

Without even moving the car we wandered a few blocks from downtown across the bridge to the East Village shops. This little neighborhood of old buildings now is home to cute boutiques, antique shops, and local eateries. I became completely smitten with All Spice Culinarium and the antique shop Found Things. We took a load off for lunch at Noodle Zoo and it completely exceeded my expectations. Unlike the name may imply this is no Noodles and Co knock-off. I enjoyed a delicious Athenian salad with creamy feta, full Kalamata olives, and homemade greek vinegarette with a wedge of parmesan coated grilled focaccia. My sister-in-law enjoyed a Pesto Shrimp and Roasted Red Pepper Wrap . . . certainly not what I was expecting!noodle zoo

Since we had set aside the whole day for exploration we headed over to the fair grounds for Iowa’s Largest Arts and Crafts Show. It was a good thing we had eaten to get our energy back up. This year’s event had over 300 vendors and thousands of items to browse. Lets just say I walked out with a few décor items for my house and a small book of business cards for people to get back in touch with. On the list of items to add to my house: a bistro table and chairs made from pieces of used wine barrels, beautiful painted wood and burlap picture frames, and reclaimed wood holiday décor.

I also started another list on this trip – places to visit and things to eat on my next trip to Des Moines.