Indian Summer: Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering

Summertime is perfect for lazy afternoons on the patio, with a book in one hand and a beer in the other.  Grilling ribs is an art that requires several hours, so it is a perfect companion for the lazy afternoon on the patio (especially if it is your spouse or partner doing the grilling while you sit with the beer and book!).

My boys and I decided to improve the probability of this scenario by splurging on my husband’s 50th birthday present …… a Primo Oval XL 400 Grill.  Yep, that’s 400 square inches of cooking surface and a ceramic grill construction that allows for perfection in grilling and smoking.  Some men have their dream sports cars, my husband has his dream grill.  When I went shopping for the grill, I texted my sons jokingly, “Do we love him that much?”  My oldest replied, “Well, the grill is a show of love as well as an investment in future meals for ourselves, making the deal substantially more attractive.”  With meals like this Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering, we have been quickly realizing that return on our investment!

Fennel-Spiced Ribs on the grill

The grill was actually the perfect opportunity for my husband to try one of the recipes he had been eyeing in the cookbook I recently purchased from one of my favorite bloggers — Tikka, Tikki & Spicy Bites, authored by Peri Avari and Rohit Kapoor, over at Peri’s Spice Ladle.  The Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering did not disappoint!

After marinating the pork ribs overnight, they were ready for hours of slow roasting on the grill. In order to help keep the ribs moist, my husband sprays them down every 20 minutes or so with a mixture of juice, vinegar and water.

Finishing the Fennel-Spiced Ribs

After smoking the ribs in the rack, and cooking them for a couple hours, he then wraps them in foil to cook for another hour.  The last stage is to put the ribs directly on the grill with indirect heat to finish them with a glaze.

Glazing the Fennel-Spiced Ribs

Using a silicone brush, he glazes with a heated mixture of mango chutney and chicken broth.

Fennel-Spiced Pork Ribs on the Grill

After the grilling stage is done, the ribs are transferred to the kitchen for application of the Onion Cilantro Tempering.

Onion Cilantro Tempering on Fennel-Spiced Ribs

Fennel Ribs 20150530 6

We served the ribs with a side of cucumber raita, and bookmarked this recipe for a repeat performance!

Fennel-Spiced Ribs with Onion Cilantro Tempering and Cucumber Raita

Peri’s newest cookbook, Tikka, Tikki & Spicy Bites, is a bargain at only $5.99 (USD) through Amazon, and also available through Amazon’s international sites.  I have followed Peri’s blog since I began blogging several years ago.  If you are not familiar with Peri’s Spice Ladle, it is a feast for the senses with delicious recipes and food ideas (ranging from family-friendly weeknight meals to more sophisticated dinner and party options), as well as interesting writing on the Indian culture and cooking techniques.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Why Visit Duluth?!

Why Visit Duluth?  Winter or summer, the city has something for everyone….

Duluth’s visitor’s and convention bureau, Visit Duluth, is seeking photos for its 2015 Visitor Guide.  These were a few of my favorites from the past year or two which are just a small sampling of why the Lake Superior City of Duluth should be on everyone’s vacation destination list.

The summer arts and crafts fair at Glensheen (taking a year off in 2014 as construction wraps up on the grounds) creates a stunning shopping venue.

Art Fair at Glensheen Mansion ~ Duluth, MN

If you  need a break from shopping, you can grab a seat on one of the benches and rest a bit while enjoying Glensheen’s beautiful gardens.

Glensheen Mansion gardens ~ Duluth, MN

For a different seating option, the contrasting whites and blues at Brighton Beach in the winter invite you to sit and ponder the Lake awhile.

Winter scene on Brighton Beach ~ Duluth, MN

And for wintertime shopping, Canal Park is full of unique shops.

Canal Park ~ Duluth, MN

On the far eastern end of the city, the mouth of the Lester River provides a peaceful spot to watch the moon rise over Lake Superior.

Monnrise on Lake Superior ~ Duluth, MN

Once the sun is down and moon is up, Lester Park’s lit ski trails are just across Highway 61, with an extensive trail system day or night for cross-country skiing.

Lester Park Ski Trails ~ Duluth, MN

But, come Spring, the ice breaker is a welcome sight as the Lake’s waters open and shipping (and duck and goose) traffic begins!

U.S. Coast Guard ice cutter on Lake Superior in Duluth, MN

If you travel to the western end of the City, you can find the Lake Superior Zoo, where the peacocks provide a colorful show as they strut around the grounds.

Peacock at Duluth's Lake Superior Zoo

And if you happened to visit the Zoo last year, you may have been fortunate enough to catch a glance of not one, but two, baby Angolan colobus monkeys.

Lake Superior Zoo's Angolan colobus monkey

Spring gives way to Summer, and that means it is time for a Portland Malt Shoppe treat, while you enjoy the Lakewalk.

A malt from the Portland Malt Shoppe in Duluth, MN

Duluth is bursting with opportunities for residents and visitors alike.  If you have not had the opportunity to explore the City, be sure to add it to your travel list.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Need more information about visiting and exploring Duluth?  Check out Visit Duluth.

Taking Time to Enjoy the Sunsets


The blog has been neglected, but summers are not meant for sitting in front of the computer screen.  Hope your summer has been full of the things summer is meant for:  soaking up the sunshine (although in Duluth, the first 1/3 of summer left us sorely sun-starved), digging in the dirt, playing in the sand, wandering along the trails, reading a good book, learning something new ….

Minnesota sunset

Posts may be a little less frequent over the next month or two, but patiently hang with me, and I will try to make time to stop by your blog, as well …. I always look forward to our conversations and visits.

Ciao! ~ Kat

Lilacs Linger

After an extended winter, and an absent spring, summer finally has arrived in northern Minnesota. To see our lilac bushes still blooming (but fading fast) as the Fourth of July approaches is a reminder that our already-short growing season is likely to be even shorter this summer.


Come join in me in the garden as the month of July unfolds. . .

“There’s naught as nice as th’ smell o’ good clean earth, except th’ smell o’ fresh growin’ things when th’ rain falls on ’em.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

The tall purple allium stand at attention for visitors to the bird bath.

allium 7_1_13

The bleeding hearts delicately dance in the wind.

bleeding heart 7_1_13

A cushion of dianthus provide a welcoming touch to the fairy door in the garden.

dianthus 7_1_13

The purple lupine bloom from bottom to top, their spiky plumes a sight just as welcome in the garden as they are along country roads.

lupine 7_1_13

Forget-me-nots scatter themselves about the garden . . .

forget me not 7_1_13

. . . greeting the morning with their cheery sunburst centers.

forget met not hosta 7_1_13

Other flowers also reseed and redecorate the garden from year to year, adding a pop of color among dark corners where only hostas thrive.

geranium hosta 7_1_13

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” ~ Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Happy Fourth, Happy Summer!

Ciao! ~ Kat

One in 164,694 (People): A Day at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is called “The Great Minnesota Get-Together” for good reason. All walks of life come together in St. Paul during the two weeks leading up to Labor Day — Minnesota’s last summer hurrah. It seems that Minnesotans either hate or love the Minnesota State Fair. My husband falls in the former camp and I in the latter. Thankfully, my boys have adopted my point of view, and we gladly deal with the crowds in order to enjoy our annual pilgrimage to this great tradition.

Entrance to the Minnesota State Fair

Planning our annual trek to the Fair requires careful research into the newest foods, attractions and exhibits. We have our Fair food favorites, many of which we share to maximize the diversity of our unhealthy diet throughout the day, but we also enjoy trying at least one new food every year, too. Personally, I cannot leave the Fair without at least one order of cheese curds. Mind you, not just any cheese curd will do — for me, it has to be the cheese curds from the “Original Deep Fried Cheese Curds” stand, located on Dan Patch Avenue.

The Original Deep-Fried Cheese Curds at the MN State FairThe Original Deep-Fried Cheese Curds at the MN State Fair    The Original Deep-Fried Cheese Curds at the MN State Fair

The crepes from the French Creperie have become one of our return-to favorites, as well – freshly-made crepes, still warm and wrapped around your choice of fillings. The strawberries with whipped cream were refreshing after deep-fried veggie fries and cheese curds.  Note the posted instructions regarding how to properly eat a crepe, the last one most important of all: “Ask yourself if you can have another one!”

Strawberry-whipped creme crepe from the French Creperie at the MN State Fair

While the Midway is not the primary focus of our visit, we always pick a few rides to round out our Fair experience. Since I have one son who inherited his father’s “I hate spinny ride” genes, that leaves me as the ride companion of last resort for my other son. Amazingly, my stomach stayed strong after our first few rounds of Fair food, as we spun round and round, stuck to the wall of the “Area 51” ride, followed by Crazy Mouse and another roller coaster. We bypassed the swings this year, which in the past years have been at a humane height to enjoy the overhead views of the Fair as you spin somewhat reasonably high above it all. This year, the Stratosphere was the featured swing ride and I could not even make out features on riders’ faces with my naked eye as the ride lifted the double swings to a height that made my stomach churn from far below. Reading the week before how the swings had multiple occasions of stalling and leaving riders 100 feet in the air, I vetoed swings as an option this year.

MN State Fair Midway  MN State Fair Midway

In addition to the food and the rides, we always look forward to walking the animal barns and gazing at the variety of cattle, horses and more. This year, we discovered llamas but missed getting to the poultry barn.

Outside the Horse Barn at the MN State Fair  Cattle Barn at the MN State FairLlama at the MN State Fair  Llamas at the MN State Fair

In the Swine Barn, no petting the piglets this year due to the threat of swine flu. But, fair goers could still gaze at this year’s biggest boar, Cornhog — all 1200 pounds of him!

MN State Fair  The Largest Boar at the MN State Fair

We also stopped by the Miracle of Birth Center, where calves, piglets, lambs and other farm animals enter the world during the Fair. It is touching to see a calf just minutes old struggle to get to its feet as its mother continues cleaning it and encouraging it to stand. Maybe it is the mother in me that left me lingering on the scene . . . because when I turned to find my teens, they had long since disappeared to wait on a bench outside the building, ready for our next food stops.

Miracle of Birth Center at the MN State FairMiracle of Birth Center at the MN State Fair

We continued to graze on our favorite Fair foods, along with a few new nibbles, throughout the day. An original Pronto Pup and the Corn Roast — classics that never grow old! Falafel-on-a-stick was something we tried last year that required a return visit this year, along with Mediterranean lemonade (we decided it edged out the fresh-squeezed variety this year in terms of flavor).  Among the new tastes for us this year, a camel slider (which we all agreed was relatively non-descript and not worth a return visit), Hawaiian-style Mexican torta from Manny’s Tortas (my son gave that a thumbs up and the enthusiastic torta crew encouraged a return trip next year!), and my favorite new food, a wine slushy (incredibly refreshing toward the end of a hot day at the Fair)!

Pronto Pup at the MN State Fair  Manny's Tortas at the MN State FairThe Corn Roast at the MN State Fair  Wine Slushy at the MN State Fair

After the animal barns, time to visit the Agriculture and Horticulture Buildings, walking past an eye-catching pond garden by the Minnesota Water Garden Society. In the Ag-Hort Building, Crop Art is one of our favorite creative exhibits. Categories include wearable crop art, although comfort did not appear to be a relevant factor in the design!

The scarecrows were equally imaginative in their design and use of materials.

Scarecrows at the MN State Fair

Scarecrows at the MN State Fair

Despite groans from the boys, I insisted on the annual visit to the Dairy Building to visit the butter heads. How often do you get to view 90-pound blocks of butter carved into the likenesses of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and the other dairy princesses!

Butter Heads of the Dairy Princesses at the MN State Fair  Butter Head of Princess Kay of the Milky Way at the MN State Fair

Crowds?! Yes. Hot, sticky weather?! Sometimes. And, since it is Minnesota, cold, miserable weather?! Perhaps. (The last year we went during that weather we ended up viewing more of the horse show than we ever had before inside the arena to stay warm!) But, is there any better event that combines the interests of travel, garden, eat?! I think not. Until next year . . . perhaps we will see you there?

Crowds at the MN State Fair

Ciao! ~ Kat B.