sauerkraut balls. yooper pasties. chocolate bacon.

just returned from parent's weekend at my son's college. of course my husband and i were excited to see him after 4 weeks (love the fact that colleges figure out exactly how much time needs to pass before kids settle in to their new lives) and i am happy to report that he is doing great. he loves school, has made good friends and is doing some studying, so i am grateful that the prayer of the empty nest mom is being heard♡

over the weekend we ran into our share of upper midwest delicacies. our first night, we took him out to dinner --- brace yourself for the first strange treat:

sauerkraut balls!

...which we had at a restaurant that was recommended by one of our son's professors. he raved about these bizarre appetizers, so we ordered them and were pleasantly surprised!

earlier in the day, we passed by a store called the pasty koop which my husband had to check out. the store specialized in another upper midwest delicacy called

yooper pasties

made by women for their husbands who were heading into the mines to work all day, these pastry-encased meat or veggie fillings would stay warm up to eight hours, wrapped in a rag. yooper comes from the "U.P." or upper peninsula area of michigan and wisconsin, where immigrants came to mine copper and other ore.

the pasty has its roots in cornwall, england - home of the original pasty ( the 'a' is pronounced like 'bath').  if more than eight hours passed, the owner told us that miners would warm them up on a heated shovel, as he is demonstrating here with the shovel his grandfather used -- (it was particularly poignant to learn about miners' food as the amazing story of the rescue of the chilean miners is going on as i write this~)

and finally, at a farmer's market i just had to try this:

chocolate bacon..... got it - chocolate bacon. i thought i'd heard it all, however this was pretty darn good.
but then again, i'll try most any food -- once!

we had a great time with our son and got a chance to see how he's settled in - so far so good!
a few decorations have been added to his room (lovely oversized guinness poster and halloween lights for atmosphere...)
i really like what you've done with the place....

...and a couple of betta fish named sonia and sandra - after our supreme court justices, of course!

so when we finally had to say goodbye, we did so with full hearts♡♡

and very full stomachs!



  1. Oh, those smiles! What a fun time you had with your boy. You must be so proud of him :-)

    And I would have been right there with you trying all of those delicacies! Yes, even the chocolate covered bacon. LOL!

  2. Love your blog! Please visit/join mine:)

  3. Well, I can see that the handsome apple did not fall far from the tree! What fun to see them for that first time after leaving the nest and you look like you both survived beautifully.

    The food is quite interesting and I am a firm believer in trying whatever the locals are eating, and that means some very different samplings. (I may halt with fried butter for health reasons - hah!)

    Oh, I love your collected bracelets, Amanda!

  4. Lovely, lovely, all of your photos and words to them, and yes, those SMILES!! I normally don`t like sauerkraut (being a German, I don`t HAVE to, do I), but in that ball shape? Hmmm, perhaps. And the veggie wrappings look very tempting! Well, about the chocolate bacon... I am sure I prefer my chili one (THANK YOU!) and the exquisite other one!
    Son looks marvellous!

  5. Regional foods are fantastic! I love pastys (or would it be pasties?) and have heard about chocolate bacon before. Since bacon is one of my absolute favorite treats, I think I would have no trouble living it covered in chocolate. And I really want to try those sauekraut balls, going to have to try and find a recipe on the internet.

    (Sorry my comment is scattered, I'm just very excited by the food!)

  6. Beautiful times with your boy! Love that picture of the both of you.

  7. I do not know if I would have tried the food. I am really not adventurous when it comes to eating. My husband will try about everything once - like you.

  8. japra - thanks! we are proud of him, and grateful that so far the transition to college is going swimmingly!

    i wonder if they have any chocolate bacon in england? ;-)
    nicoline - thanks for visiting!

    genie - thanks so much mon ami!

    i have heard of fried butter --- i like all sorts of carnival food, but that just might push one over the edge!

  9. thank you so much dear geli♡♡ i wonder what a native german would think of sauerkraut balls -- they seem so wrong but actually ended up tasting pretty darn good! the sauerkraut sort of melted and lost its sharp bite, if that helps describe it!

    sara louise - no worries - i get excited by food all the time! especially if it's covered with chocolate (altho i've not yet tried ants covered in it!) if you don't find a recipe for the sauerkraut balls let me know and I will email the restaurant ;-)

    dear yoli, thank you! and you would be proud that he is fencing for the college team! we watched him at practice and he loves this whole new experience!

    loree - i am curious about malta's cuisine and wonder -- has it been difficult for you to adapt to that?

  10. I love Cornish pasties, but I’m not convinced about the chocolate bacon! The miners actually threw out most of the crust because it got sooty in their dirty hands. Your son looks happy to have such a game mom!

  11. If that reataurant responds and tells you their sauerkraut secret, I would also love to have it! Doubt it, though!
    I once asked an English lady for her scones recipe (we don`t know scones here), and she just turned around! What a cheek of me!

  12. Lovley to see and read of the fun you all had.... though the chocolate covered bacon kinda turns my stomach - just because I'm not a big fan of sweet and sour in one mouthful.

    I've just posted about food too, but in a very different light.

    x Robyn

  13. Chocolate bacon?! Crikey. I guess I'd try it once but....

  14. sarah - you're right! the pasty shop owner said the reason for the thick braided crust was for exactly that - so the miners could clutch the crust with their sooty hands while eating - and he then said their custom was to scatter the crust crumbs on the ground to appease the mine gremlins!

    geli - it never hurts to ask! i will email the restaurant and let you know what they say ;-)

    robyn, i completely understand about the bacon - it's not everyone's cuppa tea!

    will hop over now to see your post!

    dd - you're right. the idea made me stop in my tracks, but i just had to try it....

  15. ah midwest delicacies! those pasties actually had something reddish in them - not just meat and potatoes.

    chocolate bacon on a stick - good fair food. i'd probably like it.

    I remember a recipe for chocolate sauerkraut cake that was actually very good - very moist. anyone remember that too?

    baby boy looks like he is settling in just fine. sending hugs to mama for handling the transition so well.

  16. Panda-I hadn't heard of Yooper pasties-but they look delicious and familliar---interesting how every culture has their version of the meat-filled pastry---and the chocolate-covered bacon---yum---and put it on a stick---it will be at our State Fair, if not already. The nephew needs to add two more beta fish to the group: Ruth and ahem---ELENA!!! I'll suggest this to him when I see him for Turkey Day.
    Love-Famous One

  17. Those Yooper pasty's look wonderful - I'd try those. Not sure about the sauerkraut balls - maybe if they were frank,beans and sauerkraut I'd try them. And chocolate bacon on a stick?? wow!! Your son is quite adorable and anyone who has that awesome Guinness sign has to be special. So glad you enjoyed your visit.
    I notice you have an airedale - my brother in Cayucos has his first one - about 9 months old and LOVES the dog. We are usually a Lab and Pug family, but the airedale is quite a different doggy personality - isn't it? fun and wonderful either way.

  18. Awww that's sweet saying goodbye for now with full hearts and stomachs... lovely photo too.
    Pork & choc I'd pass in favour of a vegi pasty please*!*

  19. Your joy of visiting your son is so very evident. And good food adds to the occasion.

    Sauerkraut balls are something I've yet to discover, personally. Thank you for the introduction. Cornish Pasties I have enjoyed on a number of occasions.

    While our province is a major hog producer, and I've tried a wide variety of pork products, I think I'll pass on the chocolate covered bacon. The peculiar combination of flavours does not sound appealing.

  20. Oh Amanda.

    That last beaming you and xerox-copy son is perfect. Same eyes, same smile, same happiness... so touching.

    Love the pic of you proudly munching on the choc bacon. (I see a dolphin there on that memento-wrist...). I had heard about this delicacy... I'm now VERY curious.

    As far as pasties, they remind me a lot of Argentine "empanadas"

    Hooray for Chile!!!!
    Ciao my friend,

    E xx

  21. your beautiful pictures makes me want! especially the No. 2 and 4, however the chocolate bacon seems ... Original! A very good post! ... Bye** :))

  22. What a wonderful post! (Chocolate-covered bacon aside....) I loved Cornish pasties when I visited Cornwall - and think the Sauerkraut would also be tasty....

    Most of all, I loved seeing the photo of you and your wonderful boy....he DOES look like you! And I love his room, his decorations, his fish (particularly their names) - and that he fences! My Mum was rather good at it and in my young days, I took it up for a while.... it's a wonderful, difficult and under-appreciatd sport!

    You and your DH are super parents....the closeness you share with your family is so heartwarming!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  23. big sis - the reddish veggie in the pasty might be carrots, i think?

    chocolate cake with sauerkraut does sound mighty good-- probably adds tons of moisture!

    mr. man is settling in well -- thanks for that -- so far, college life is pretty fine! xoxo

    little sis! ruth and elena -- but of course!!! do remember to tell mr. man to add those 2 very important fish to his bowl!

    and did they have choco bacon at the fair this year? if they don't have it, then who else would?! xoxo

    mim - i will tell my son what you said about the guinness poster - he is rather enamored of guinness paraphenalia as of late (sweatshirt, etc!)

    oh, your brother has an airedale puppy -- how adorable!! i must say i am biased but our mia is the most special dog - we just love the breed! i bet his pup just loves to run on that beautiful cayucos beach!


  24. annie - when you put it that way, a pork and choc combo doesn't sound too appetizing (hehe)! xxa

    mr rob bear!!

    you are not alone in your uncertainty about the pork/choco combo -- believe me, when i first heard of it i felt dubious myself but it was worth the try!

    we did so enjoy seeing our son -- thanks for dropping by today monsieur le bear!! xxx

    lola, you are right - these are very similar to empanadas, except i think these are probably twice as big - we could only eat a few bites, it was so filling!

    yes - did you see the bracelet?? i LOVE it - thank you so much my friend....and now be on the look out for a little package coming your way~

    ciao for now bella♡

  25. Oh Amanda! i'm so happy for you (all). How exciting to get to go for a visit (and check on how precious son is doing).

    I love the photos of you all, they are so full of love and happiness, thank you for sharing them.

    The food is interesting. I think we ate something similar to the pasties in New Zealand, kind of a meat and veggie pie. They were Yum! Did you like the pasties?
    The balls and bacon sound not so good. Actually very yuck. haha. But you look cute eating it!


  26. bonjour red cat!! thanks for dropping by!

    hello dear robin!! thanks so much for your kind comments♡ and how cool that you also fence! i completely agree that it is an under-appreciated sport - when i co-founded a fencing academy when my son was starting out i quickly learned that it can catch on easily with kids - it's such a great sport for mind and body, which is why it's called physical chess!

    glad you like the fish - check my little sis's comment above where she suggests names for two more (hehe)! hugs to you dear robin xxx

  27. lori - you are not alone on the yuck end of things ;-) it's either you like it or you don't!

    i do feel lucky that we got to visit our boy - it's not that far of a drive (considering it would have been a lot longer if he'd chosen the calif. school)

    with your hannah so far away, i feel this must be really difficult for you to not have that proximity. will she be home for turkey day? i'm keeping fingers crossed that you will be seeing her in person soon and able to give her a big hug!


  28. chocolate BACON!? YUMMEE...great blog! and thanks for visiting chez moi...and your sweet lovely j word veri mingle..yay!

  29. gad. AND you met lori! fab! x j

  30. hey janelle!

    yep the choco bacon was actually not bad.....but i'll try most anything once (except choco covered insects yechh)

    and yes - meeting ms. lori was a hilight of my cali trip ;-)

    thanks for visiting girl and hope to see you back in these parts! xx

  31. Hehehehe... I caught the title of this post on the 10thDoM site... read a bit dirty until I came to my senses.

    Er... I've said too much.

  32. yeah, they weren't that kind of pasties (haha)!

  33. Brings back memories of when we visited my son at U of M. What is your son studying? He looks like a nice kid and I'm so glad you showed us both of you together. I went through the empty nest thing with my last son when he left in August at 16. It took me six weeks to stop thinking about him all the time. How are you doing with your son gone?

  34. How wonderful. Not so sure about the bacon though. Cornish Pasties are scrummy.

  35. I do really like your blog. The last picture is stunning by all means! If you have time please have a look at the magazine my son is editing. Thank you. PULSEmagazine

  36. sonia - my son's school offers two terms of freshman studies, along with that he is studying islamic history and film studies - next semester biology and a poli sci course i think - he says he is interested in pre-med, but he's got time to decide.

    i feel for you about missing your son - i'm currently traveling with my husband on a trip we planned once we became empty nesters! once i'm back home, i plan to finish my memoir manuscript and hope to sell it to a publisher - i'm very interested in knowing more about what you've learned in this process with your own book---

  37. glynis --- scrummy's a new word for me -- love it!

  38. Amanda,

    Yes, keep in touch. How far are you with your memoir? I have about 3 more weeks of revisions to finish, and then the Query letters to agents. We need to "talk" more. Where are you on your trip now?"

  39. sonia, i'd say i'm halfway through my memoir, but am a critical juncture where I'm thinking of changing focus. I would love to talk more with you about your work. currently i'm in greece traveling for almost 2 more weeks with intermittent internet. how about we continue this conversation via email? mine is: - looking forward to hearing from you~


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