Tag Archives: minneapolis

Goodbye Minneapolis

photo 3

A chapter of my life ended last Friday. It’s been an odd feeling, saying goodbye when I am so ready to move on. It’s no secret that Minneapolis and I have had an extremely complicated relationship. There are things that I truly adore about the city (i.e. the best bike commute in the world) and the people I’ve grown to be friends with and yet, this is a place that will never be close to my heart. No doubt a valuable period in my life, but one where the bright spots shine poke through the cover of bleakness.

Over the weekend while most of my earthly belongings headed towards Georgia, I sprinted into to the open arms of the Pacific Northwest and my family for a short intermission before I begin life in Atlanta. I packed the car with my most valuable treasures (the two cats, my new and fabulous bicycle and the contents of my spice cupboard) and drove 1700 hundred miles in my 10-year old car with my 23-year old cousin to Olympia.

Somewhere in the middle of North Dakota an epiphany struck. This road trip, and more importantly, my postdoc in Minneapolis was a constant tug-of-war between ‘making good time’ and ‘having a good time’.

I chose my postdoc for the science and for the mentor, despite the fact that it meant that I would have to live in the Midwest (in contrast to most of the other postdocs in the lab who wanted those things AND had strong familial ties in the region). So from the outset, my postdoc was simply a strategic hoop to jump through to land a coveted faculty position, wherever that may be. I didn’t set out to ‘have a good time’ but rather to ‘make good time.’ So I shied away from making friends and making Minneapolis home, as that would take time away from my scientific and academic goals.

I’m not one who believes that scientists live in isolation and are wasting time when not working. I took time off, travelled and spent many a weekend with my dearest friends that I’ve accumulated over the course of my life to either celebrate major life events or to simply hang out on the couch with a glass of wine. These were the people that I had already invested in, value beyond all else and whom I wanted to spend my time with whenever possible. So I flitted off to Chicago, Austin, California, Durham, Olympia, Paris, Portland, Boston, etc. to keep those people in my life. All at the expense of making ties in Minneapolis.

The same is true for my academic community. The University of Minnesota was simply a stop along the way. As a postdoc, it’s difficult not to feel like a ghost. You sneak in during the middle of the night (your start date is almost never tied to the academic calendar) and you pass people in the halls without acknowledgement. I just did not have the capacity to invest in the department. Resolving that conflict was hard – I was deeply committed to my intellectual community as a graduate student and I am looking forward to making my mark in the future. But in this time and place, during my postdoc, I couldn’t do it and felt guilty for not trying harder.

So I ‘made good time.’ My one and only postdoc was four and a half years long – a blink of an eye in the current academic market. In a time when a lot of people are leaving academia, doing 6-7 year postdocs or multiple postdocs, I have been extremely successful and even so, I felt like this took too long and there have been costs inextricably tied with my success. My life could have taken a different turn a couple of years ago and I would have left Minneapolis at that time. I have fretted incessantly (and unnecessarily) that things will fall through at the last minute while preparing for this move. This person who I am, who I’ve become is due entirely because of my past experiences, which I consider to be a result of the context and my decisions at any given time. And that particular turn let me take the opportunity to invest, just a smidgen, in Minneapolis. As such, this goodbye is more complicated than I anticipated. Yet I revel in it: my life has been rich, varied and complex and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Goodbye Minneapolis. You haven’t been my favorite, but you have been important.

A Front Porch Cocktail

The warm weather has hit Minneapolis. It’s quite lovely and all together pleasant.

It makes me long for a front porch, a rocking chair and a cocktail. To sit back, reflect upon the day with the warm summer air washing over you, all the while sipping a cold drink and greeting the people walking through the neighborhood. A moment of quiet. The very best kind.

I don’t have a rocking chair. Or a front porch. But I do have a cocktail perfect for just a scene. While I lived in North Carolina, it was gin & tonic. But here in Minnesota … it’s rhubarb, rosemary & rum. It’s light, refreshing and herbal.

But best of all – it has rhubarb! (And there are many more rhubarb-related recipes in my queue – you have been warned!)

Rhubarb, Rosemary & Rum
from Bon Appetit, April 2009
makes a single drink 
**********
1 ounce white rum
1 ounce rosemary simple syrup (see below)
2 ounces rhubarb juice
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
ice cubes
rosemary sprig, for garnish
**********

Combine all ingredients in a glass. Stir to combine. Garnish with rosemary sprig. Enjoy!

Rosemary Simple Syrup
makes 1 cup
 
**********
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup fresh rosemary leaves
**********

Bring water and sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat; add 1/2 cup rosemary leaves. Let steep 5 minutes. Strain, pressing on rosemary; discard rosemary. Let syrup cool at least 1 hour.

Parental Visitation

I am going on record with this:

The recent weather in Minneapolis has been spectacular.

Which perfectly coincided with my parents’ visit.

I think we crammed in every possible touristy, autumn activity in three short days.

The farmers market.

The mill ruins.

Minnehaha falls.

Apple picking.

Chasing the fall colors and accidentally stumbling upon a ski “mountain.”

Walking around Lake of the Isles and finding Minnie.

And enjoying food, drink and coffee.

It was a great visit. Probably because I have great parents.

 

*I think I stole all of these photos from my mother …

Rhubarb-Tangerine Soup (or creamsicles, if you will)

Last week I escaped the extreme heat in Minneapolis by going to Florida. Yes, you heard me right I went to Florida in June and it was cooler than what it was in the Twin Cities. Record highs and temperatures in the triple digits. What?!? It was below zero just a couple of months ago and snow flurries only weeks ago. I just don’t get this place.

Anyhow, so I managed to bike home the six miles from campus in the 102º heat and 35 mile per hour gusts of wind. I was extra proud of myself for figuring out that morning how to set the timer on my window AC unit so that when I stepped through the door after work a cool apartment would be waiting for me (and it wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg). Sounds like a good plan right? Except there was no power I got home. And I very nearly died, right there on the spot. Until I remembered I had a chilled soup in my fridge (that was thankfully still cold).

This soup saved me. Rhubarb-Tangerine Soup. It sounds as odd as 102 temperatures in Minneapolis. I am not quite sure to call it an appetizer or a dessert dish. I’ll just say it is what it is. If you can’t quite wrap your head around rhubarb soup, then take it one step further and make creamsicles out of it. You can thank me later.

Rhubarb-Tangerine Soup

adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

**********
5-6 stalks of rhubarb, chopped in 1-inch pieces
2 tangerines, zested and juiced
2/3 cup sugar
3 cups water
**********

Chop the rhubarb. Zest the tangerines. Juice the tangerines.

In a large pot, combine rhubarb, sugar, tangerine zest and juice and water.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until rhubarb starts to fall apart, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate until chilled.

Whip up equal parts heavy cream and mascarpone cheese and dollop on top of chilled soup. Garnish with tangerine zest.

I am not kidding that this soup saved my life. It cooled my body and my temper when it needed it most. And please, take a little bit of this soup, mix in the mascarpone whipped cream until thoroughly combined and stick in some popsicle molds. The creamsicles are beyond words. I may have eaten them all in one sitting. But it’s okay because technically, rhubarb is a vegetable.

To market, to market

I woke up early this morning.

Like 7:30 am. On a Saturday.

I don’t even wake up that early during the week (the life of an academic).

Why?

I was on a mission. I went to a farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago and was deeply disappointed by the lack of produce available. (I don’t know why I was surprised – we have had like the worst winter in Minnesota ever). But still, how can you have a farmer’s market with no produce? So this week I vowed that I would check out the selection right as the market opened, at 8:00 am.

I drug myself out of bed and onto my bike and worked my way to the Minneapolis Midtown Farmers Market. And tried not to be too hopeful about the promise of asparagus and rhubarb that their website offered.

First I found some coffee.

Then … produce success!

I scored some rhubarb, asparagus and spring onions. Now, I wouldn’t say there was a plethora of produce and some vendors only could offer canned versions of last year’s harvest.

But, it is a promising start to the season.

Now, what to make with my treasures?

Stay tuned…