Midwestern Bite Foodie Pen Pals Soda Sauce Titled RW

Hello internet friends!

If you’re new here, let me fill you in on a not-so-secret secret,  The last day of the month on Midwestern Bite pretty much always means Foodie Pen Pals and the Chopped Challenge.  It’s my blogging claim to fame.  I love it.  My readers love it (at least Aly seems to like it anyway.)  The Husband who gets to eat what I concoct loves it.  He was especially fond of the brownie challenge.  The ice cream challenge ranked pretty high on his list too (even despite the giant plastic rat I posed it with.)  Oh, and Big Balls . . . cause it was funny and he got to pose for some hilarious pictures.  Wait.  No.  The really funny pictures of him, blindfolded, were in the caramel apple butter challenge.

I’ve clearly been doing this awhile.  In fact, you could even say I’m an expert.  The fact I’m the only one who does the Chopped Challenge at all is irrelevant to my expert status.

Here’s the Haps.  The Lean Green Bean organizes a cool program called Foodie Pen Pals.  You sign up and get matched with two other pen pals, one who you sends you a fifteen dollar foodie box… and one that will receive a foodie box you send.  That way you meet two new foodie friends per month.  My twist since I started the program over a year ago has been to take the entire box of random goodies I receive and create a recipe from it.

Yes, the entire box.

Yes, last month I totally combined dried mushrooms, chocolate, mint and coconut.  And it was totally tasty.

This month’s Chopped Challenge is actually from a box I received late a few months back.  I sorta forgot to sign up for the program in May.  Whooops.  I won’t make that mistake in June.  Luckily I had the late box from February to fall back on so I didn’t disappoint you all today.

Here’s what I received:

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It’s time to get this show on the road and finish off the Baby Robin series so I can concentrate on stripping.  Cough.  Ahem.

Where we were?  Ahhhhh . . . BEAKAGE!

Robins 1 RW

Three little beaks.  Sitting in a tree (not really, it’s more like a front porch light.)  P.E.C.K.I.N.G.

I won’t be offended if you stop reading my blog now.

But at least finish watching the Baby Robins grow before you leave.

Robins 3 RW

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Keeping myself accountable, I’m stopping in with the daily update of my wallpaper stripping project.

Here’s what my lovely wall looked like yesterday.

Tuesday May 28 RW

Here’s what it looks like today.

May 29 RW 3

And here’s how much I still have to go:

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In the food blog world accountability often comes in the form of posting every morsel that enters the mouth.  I believe the theory on that is if you decide to post everything you eat for all the internet world to see, perhaps you’ll make better choices.  Eat one brownie instead of half the pan.  Or maybe not eat spoonfuls of brownie mix right out of the box.  Or perhaps not turn mac and cheese into popcorn three nights in a row.

I don’t feel bad for any of these things so I don’t need to be held accountable for my food choices.

The Husband eats the other half of the cooked brownies and he never feels bad so why should I.  Besides, it’s a small pan.

Brownie mix noshing only happens maybe once a year after all (try it atop ice cream and thank me later) so no guilt there either.

And mac and cheese popcorn?  It’s awesome and we’ll talk about that in another post coming soon.  You’ll thank me for that too.  I use organic popcorn . . . so there’s that anyway.

What I do seem to need to be held accountable for is my lack of stripping.

That’s right, stripping.

Wallpaper stripping.

On April 17th I posted the following picture.

April 17

And then the danged wallpaper sat untouched till last Thursday, May 23rd, when my folks came up for a visit and my mom peeled off a few strips for me.

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Snap to it, people, snap to it.


Week Two’s photography tips from Cinnamon at Eat Pray Tri are about the exposure triangle.  Ironically, or not so much, our assignment for the week was to photograph a triangle.

All the pics were taken on a family walk down the Lane.  I’ll admit I didn’t spend a lot of time choosing camera settings this week.  I picked my ISO based on the time of day and light available and played with my F-stop occasionally.  Okay rarely.  It was a walk not a sniff after all.

I promised The Husband I would share his submission first, so here it is.

Midwestern Mike Snap To It Week 2 Triangle Titled

Fortunately that fence is not in our yard.  We’ve already replaced one fence post and have several more on their last leg.  It’s pretty though.  Very triangular.

Here’s my submission.

Midwestern Bite Snap To It Week 2 Triangle 2 Titled

I didn’t have too crazy many runners up for this week.  I took a few more shadow snaps, but I totally looked pregnant in the one (I’m not by the way.)  Leave it to a woman to think her shadow looks fat.

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This will be a quickie today.

Just wanted to say sorry the blog has been so sparse this week.  My laptop is having some internet connectivity issues and we decided it was a good time to wipe the thing.  Course it hasn’t helped the darned thing connect to the internet, but at least it’s running faster.

I’d give you a fun pic to tide you over but they are all saved on the external hard drive right now.

See ya in a day or two with something more interesting than this!

Oh, and if you want to participate in Thrift Gift Facelift or just see what Supermom and I have up our sleeves, reveal day is Friday June 7.

– Joanna


Anyone take a look at their grocery budget lately?  Have you compared it to last year or the year before?

Skyrocketing food prices due to inflation and other (usually political) factors are one of the many reasons I enjoy obsessively reading everything I can about growing and foraging for our own edibles.  In addition to learning more about traditional (and not so traditional) gardening, I’m having fun researching all the stuff growing wild in and around our woods.

About a year ago, the Wife thought it was pretty funny when I was giddy as a schoolgirl to find a weed growing off the back deck of our previous claustrophobic suburban house. I THOUGHT it was safe to eat.  Guess I was right.

It turned out to be Lamb’s Quarters and is one of the most delicious and nutritious “weeds” around. If you have it, stop mowing it and count yourself lucky. I brought seeds to our new house.

Yep. I moved Weed Seeds. That’s normal… right?

Today I’m here to talk about a different, but still tasty, animal.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)


Unless you’re in a desert wasteland, chances are you have Garlic Mustard nearby.  It’s an invasive plant that is aggressively destructive and steadily marching across North America.  When you see it… Pull it!  Root and all. Garlic Mustard can take over a forested area in a very short time due to the massive amount of seeds it produces, a vast majority of animals (including deer) don’t eat it, and it’s allelopathic in nature.

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I mentioned a few weeks ago that my pal Cinnamon was starting a weekly photography tip and assignment on her blog Eat Pray Tri.  It’s called Snap To It and week one is a go.


Cinnamon’s first post, The Basics, links up several photography sites she has found helpful.  For her first assignment, Cinnamon asks us to send her a picture of something basic.  Basic, but not boring.

My take on basic was simple.  What’s the most basic thing you need to survive?  Besides oxygen that is, so don’t guess that.  Water.  You need water.  At least according to The Husband.

I decided to photograph a simple water droplet.  Here’s my (hopefully winning) submission, entitled “It’s Element-ary, Dear Cinnamon.”  I’m witty, I know.

Midwestern Bite Snap To It Week 1 Basic Titled

It’s just a simple water droplet, but set on an iris that’s blooming in our yard.   Yes, I set it there.  Just call me Mama Nature.

Here are the runners up that I was quite fond of as well.

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DSC_0456 enh RW Title

DSC_0456 enh RW Title with PS

Way back around Valentines Day I got the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook.  So far I’ve only made one recipe . . . The Birthday Layer Cake.  I turned the recipe into cupcakes for my Grandma’s 90th birthday though.  My nephew said he liked them better than Panera’s Mac ‘n Cheese.  That’s high praise from a five year old.  High praise indeed. 

No, I did not take any pictures and I stink for that but I plan on making this recipe again.  I did borrow a pic from the Momofuku webpage so you’d have something pretty to look at.  Here’s what the real deal looks like.

Birthday Cake R

This one recipe contains four parts.

1 recipe Birthday Cake

1 recipe Birthday Cake Soak

1 recipe Birthday Cake Frosting

1 recipe Birthday Cake Crumb

It’s the Birthday Cake Crumb I’d like to talk about.

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The next segment in the Baby Robin series invoves BEAKS!!! The babes have beaks!!

Birds May 14

See, see, see, BEAKS!

Birds May 14 A Beak

Previous Baby Robin posts can be found here:


Keeping Things Warm

One Plus One Makes One But Really Three

Meet Squawky and Sir Squawks a Lot

Baby Robins in the House

– Joanna

Question of the Day:  Would you turn completely around if you felt so inclined?  Sorry.  Cake lyrics on the brain these days.