Salt Cellar, Dining in St Paul


I discovered a great blog recently. Chef Alan Bergo of the Salt Cellar restaurant in St Paul writes as the Forager Chef. He likes to use indigenous Mid-western ingredients and local purveyors. He cooks with dandelions, knotweed, ramps, spruce. burdock root and nettles. He writes about hunting for mushrooms, cooking methods and recipes. The recipes look fabulous – Spruce Brined Poussin with Apple Mustard Sauce and Beef Tartare with Dead Man’s Fingers and Ramp Vinaigrette are a couple that caught my eye.

View into the kitchen

View into the kitchen

I don’t remember seeing them on the menu at the Salt Cellar. A friend of mine was raving about the meat so I went there for the first time the other night. There is a large glass window into the kitchen from the main dining room so you can watch the chef in action. The meal started with homemade potato chips and pimento cheese with warm fresh rolls that melted in your mouth.

The beef steaks were tender and flavorful. They came with a small cup of wild mushrooms and a cup of their own special béarnaise sauce with a little tomato added. Our sides were the market vegetable medley which were nicely seasoned and the beef fat pommes frites. I think I ordered the roasted potatoes but the pommes frites were sinfully delicious.


Chocolate Mousse with Shortbread

We finished the meal with a chocolate mousse and a Boston cream pie. Our waiter insisted we try the spruce ice cream that was offered as part of the daily ice cream selection. It was unexpectedly delicious. Very fresh and light.



Our waiter’s name was Manu and he had a strong French accent. Usually when I ask people where they are from, they will tell me the country or the continent and I have to ask several times to find out where exactly they are from. He told me he came from Toulouse, France right away and was happy to chat. His mother’s family was from Catalan across the border in Spain and his grandmother had called him Manu, short for Manuel and it stuck.

My dining partner and I had been speculating about how he got here. My friend was sure he followed a woman. I thought he might have come for school. Of course it was a woman. He said he followed a woman here and then fell in love with Minnesota and could not leave. The restaurant was empty on a Friday night and I asked him if it was always like that. The explanation was that the restaurant has no outdoor space and in the summer Minnesotans like to be dining outside if in town but many were probably at their summer cabins. We consoled each other for not having a summer cabin.



Blogging and Chocolate Cake







“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I have been blogging for two years now. Seems like just yesterday. I started my blog to promote my book, Expat Alien. I didn’t know what I was doing or if anybody would even read it. What I found was a whole new world. There are millions of bloggers out there. I had no idea. People blog about everything. Some blog a lot, some not so much.


To mark the occasion I though I might find one of Julia Child’s cake recipes. It seemed appropriate since she was an expat. However her recipes tend to be three and four pages long and that is a lot of work. So here is my favorite chocolate cake recipe that I have made a million times. It comes from the Joy of Cooking 1975 edition.

And keep on blogging!


Cocoa Devil’s Food Cake

Two 9-inch round pans

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees F

Combine, beat until well blended, and set aside:

1 cup sugar

½ cup cocoa

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt

Beat until soft

½ cup butter

Add gradually and cream until light:

1 cup sifted sugar

Beat in, one at a time:

2 eggs

Beat in cocoa mixture.

Sift before measuring:

2 cups cake flour

Resift with:

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

Add the flour in 3 parts to the butter mixture, alternately with:

½ cup buttermilk or yogurt

1 tsp vanilla

Beat batter after each addition just until smooth.

Grease the pans and cook for 35 minutes in a 375 degree F oven.

When cooled, spread the cake with your favorite icing.



‘Tis the Season – Sweet Inspiration








‘Tis the season.. Have you seen that snow falling across the pages of WordPress?  Thought I was imagining things at first.  Lovely soft falling snow.

It must be that giving season.  I have been given an award not once, not twice, but three times!  What fun!

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award was sent my way by  WIE SAGT MAN…?, A Hausfrau in Deutschland.  An informative blog about two Americans living in Germany.

The Petroleum Wife, TCK and trailing expat spouse, also sent this award my way.

I thank you both.  You inspire me as well.

For once, I am going to follow the rules (more or less).  Seven things about me:

1.  I once had a turtle named Tootsie

2.  I like to watch Doc Martin and work on my needlepoint

3.  I love art museums

4.  I think Roger Daltrey is cute even though he is way too old to go prancing around stage with his shirt off

5.  I want to go to Buenos Aires and learn to Tango and then see the end of the world in Ushuaia

6.  I am convinced chocolate and red wine will cure anything

7.  I love all you nutty bloggers


And the Nominees are:

Mumigrants  –  An honest look at being a mum and a migrant.

Expat Since Birth  –  A multicultural family living in the Netherlands

Mirth and Motivation  –  A TCK who believes in positive kismet/fate

American Tai Tai  –  In search of beauty in the mundane

Angelinem’s Blog  –  Traveler, photographer, nurse










My other award comes from  Jumble,  An American woman living in China.  It is the The Super Sweet Blogging Award.  Not sure if I got it because I am so sweet or because of my Food Friday.  I’m sure it was both!  🙂  Thank you, Ms Jumble!!

This one comes with questions:

1) Cookie or cake?   Chocolate chip cookies, of course!

2) Chocolate or vanilla?  Is that a choice?  Chocolate all the way.

3) What is your favorite sweet treat?  Dark chocolate truffles

4) When do you crave sweet things the most?   The holidays!!

5) If you had a sweet nickname what would it be?   Dulcinea


And now, drum roll….

This one goes to Maggie at Fly Away Home Book, A New Jersey girl living in Norway.  She is very sweet and currently sitting under a ton of snow.

Happy Holidays everybody!!




Blog of the Year Thanksgiving





It is almost Thanksgiving Day in the USA.  I think it is the most important holiday we have.  It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity.  It is the one day a year this big melting pot comes together on common ground and takes a moment to reflect on all the things they have and should be thankful for.  They don’t all eat Turkey, they don’t all watch Football, they don’t all have big families surrounding them, but they all have something to be thankful for, even if it is something small.  And this day should remind them of that.

One thing I am thankful for is this blog and all the fellow bloggers I have come in contact with over the past 8 months.  I love writing little stories and reading other people’s pieces.  I am only sorry I don’t have time to read as much as  I would like.  There is so much interesting stuff out there!!

Maggie at Fly Away Home was one of my first followers and she has been very supportive all the way through.  I have enjoyed reading about her life in Norway and growing up on the New Jersey shore.  Her book, Fly Away Home, is great! Check it out.

Maggie has now bestowed the Blog of the Year 2012 Award on me. Thank you, Maggie!

Well, it has been an interesting year.

I started my blog with my new Mantra:  “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

I have written 109 posts about growing up TCK, travel, genealogy, my current life, and various other miscellaneous things that popped into my head.  I started a Food Friday blog that brought me back to my love of cooking.  And, I published my memoir, Expat Alien.

Plus I had my gallbladder removed!!   (Thank you all for your comments and best wishes!)

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am passing this award to:

Wanderlust Gene – because her beautiful photos are other-worldly and transport me to far away places

ExpatLingo – because she makes me laugh

Dounia – because she is a fellow TCK who “gets” it

Moonbeam McQueen– because she persevered and published her book, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations: A Book of Light Verse

Award Rules:

  • Select the blogs you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012 Award’.
  • Write a post and tell about the blogs you have chosen and present them with their award.
  • Please include a link back to this page Blog of the 2012 Year Award and include these rules (do not alter the rules or the badges).
  • Let the blogs you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the rules with them.
  • You can now also join our Facebook page – click the link here Blog of the Year 2012 Award and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.

As a winner of the award please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award. Proudly display the award on your side bar and start collecting stars.

Inspiring Blogs

So, not TOO long ago I was awarded an award….  the Inspiring Blog Award.

This came from Expatially Mexico, a German woman, married to a hotel manager, living on a beach in Mexico.  Can you imagine a better life?  She has a great sense of humor and appreciates her new surroundings.  You should check out her blog for sure.

I like awards for two reasons.  One, it brings out a more creative element where pretty much anything goes.  And Two, you meet the most interesting people!!

I back-tracked this award to see what “rules” there were and found all kinds of interesting people who don’t follow any rules.  Awesome!!

Check them out too…

Inspiring is the word of the this blog….  What inspires me, what inspires you.

I like this definition:   to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon (a person); animate or invigorate

Animate.  What Animates me?

Good wine

Heated conversation

Getting lost in any city

A good joke

And of course, Gertrude Stein, my personal word god.  From Patriarchal Poetry:

Let her be to be to be to be let her be to be to be let her to be let her to be let her be to be when it is that they are shy

Very well to try

Let her be that is to be let her be that is to be let her be let her try

Let her try

Let her be let her be let her be let her be to be to be let her be let her try

To be shy

Let her be

Let her try

Cheers to all of you.  And here are a few you I will pass the baton to in case they feel inspired:


Valerie Davies

A Chip Off the Old Blog

A Moving Story

Clearing Customs

Ha!  That should keep you busy for a while!

Happy Inspirations!

My ABC’s

About three days ago a fellow

Blogger nominated me for the Awesome Blog

Content award.  Her name is Maggie and she loves

Dogs and

Even wrote a book called

Fly Away Home.

Goodness Gracious, I said.

How can this be?

I wondered.

Just then I thought about

Kindred spirits and how easy it is to

Lose sight of



Opportunities when


Question how things happen.  Does there need to be a

Reason for


Things or can we enjoy our


Views of the world with


Xanadu can not be far off when we appreciate the

Years we spend together in this


I nominate MoonBeam McQueen for this award because she is cool.

Happy Monday!!

An Award!

The Wanderlust Gene has nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you Ms Gene.  I enjoy her posts very much as well.  Be sure to visit her.

I started this blog only a couple of months ago and find it both inspiring and soothing.  I spend my days working  and then I spend my evenings wandering around the right side of my brain in a place where time doesn’t exist.

I am traveling the world, meeting new people and seeing new places or sometimes revisiting places.  Plus learning all kinds of new things about the world and about the Internet.  It is Fun!

So seven things about me:

I seriously believe that chocolate should be considered one of the major food groups.

I like cheese – any kind.

I love color, bright colors.   But I mostly wear black.

I like red wine but white wine is nice too.

I used to cook all kinds of complex things from scratch.  Now I don’t anymore.

I want to go to Tierra del Fuego.

I had five first languages.

Thank you (English)  Che zu tim ba deh! (Burmese) Dhanyavad (Hindi)  Nandri (Tamil)  Da blu (Karen – a Burmese dialect)

My nominations for this award are:

  • DrieCulturen
  • A Dutch woman who grew up in Africa.  Fellow TCK.
  • I was an expat wife
  • Born in England and raised in Canada, lived in France, Australia, and Singapore now repatriated to Canada.
  • Expatlogue
  • Irreverent observations from an accidental expat in Canada