Pregnancy cravings and aversions are strange things.

During my first, I had an aversion to chicken the entire time. Just the smell made me barf. This time, my food aversions evaporated after the first trimester.

The food that I’ve been ordering the most is Green Mill’s Desert Fire Pasta. Countless times during the past year.

Green Mill is a Midwest chain, but don’t sleep on it. It’s better than average.

They also offer in-house delivery. The original St. Paul Hamline Ave/Grand location might not list a delivery option online, but when you call to ask they often can accommodate.

In addition to pizza, calzones and pasta, they offer other entrees like walleye. I’m most impressed that the food always tastes homemade with care, from the salad dressings to chicken wild rice soup.

Desert Fire Pasta is their take on a Cajun chicken/shrimp-style pasta.

The pasta comes with shrimp but you can sub chicken. The sauce is really rich and flavorful – if you order extra spicy, they will kick it up to a respectable level. While I’m sure I’m not imagining the prices have risen during the pandemic, the portion is substantial enough to share with my toddler + have leftovers, and comes with fresh bread and good whipped garlic/herb butter.

The food combination that I’ve ordered second most is Somali tea and beef sambusas from Kaah Coffee Shop located along Franklin in the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis.

It’s open as early as 7 am and is an easy detour off I-94 on the way to work or doctor appointments.

I order sambusas every time I see them and these are my favorite. The beef feeling is spicy and so well seasoned that I long for them between visits.

The Minnesota State Fair

After skipping the fair during the first two years of the pandemic, we returned for a short visit with the toddler.

This year we arrived by 7 am to find a convenient parking spot and avoid crowds. Then, we raced home in time for her nap (gotta avoid that dreaded car nap!).

For early birds, this is a very good time to come. Most of the food vendors open around 8-8:30. We found mini doughnuts and coffee drinks from the Farmers Union.

We didn’t have time to mess around with new foods – honestly, none of them really excited me except for Union Hmong Kitchen.

We grabbed the Dimitri gyro (the good fair gyro) which is now an ungodly $15!?!?!?! Still, better than most and we look forward to it every year.

Plus, the roasted corn, Turkey2Go sandwich (the best, moistest, well-seasoned turkey sandwich on earth), and Mouth Trap cheese curds. It’s criminal that Turkey2Go doesn’t have a food truck that drives down my street each week.

The food prices have become kind of appalling – Still, The Great Minnesota Get Together is the once a year occasion we most look forward to attending with food you can’t find anywhere else during the year.

Farmers Markets

I’m not sure how many (if any) weekend farmers market trips I have in my before my due date.

The last two weeks i’ve been visiting the St. Paul Farmers Market because it’s a short drive from home. They also have a nice bathroom.

There are less places for a toddler to run around, but the produce selection is lovely and parking on a Sunday is not bad. Meters are free on Sundays and if you arrive around 8 am. it’s not hard to find a parking spot.

Other than the bagel sandwich stand, there are less hot food vendors. Last Sunday, Minnebun and the pierogi stand were ready to go, serving hot dumplings. The Minnebuns are light as air with flavorful fillings. I tried the BBQ Pork and green curry flavors. If you are hungry you’ll need at least two. The Thai tea is good and very sweet – you may be able to request less sweetener.

Sunshine Apple Orchard sells the BEST cookies I’ve ever bought. I make the best cookies I’ve ever had and am typically disappointed in most bakery cookies. Their oatmeal apple cookies cost $5 for five big cookies. They acheive the perfect, chewy, crisp texture and ideal touch of saltiness with a butter-forward flavor that ONLY comes from, baking with real butter.

Check their Facebook page to find out what markets they will visit each weekend (usually St. Paul, Apple Valley, and/or Inver Grove).

Our Minnesota apples are special treats and there are so many orchards to choose from.

Other Good Meals

A low-key birthday dinner at Zen Asia near the border of White Bear Lake/Vadnais Heights. Offers many Vietnamese dishes. A++ fried rice and delicious bun salad and coconut curry stir fry prepared with very fresh vegetables.

Dinner with friends at Lotus, Minneapolis: Affordable, really delicious Vietnamese food. I inhaled a spicy garlic sauce stir-fry also made with really fresh veggies cooked perfectly tender crisp.

People often associate good customer service with upscale restaurants. We received a gift card to dine at Manny’s this fall and their service is pre-pandemic remarkable.

It’s not limited to upscale places, though. The food and service here also struck me as remarkable.

Same with my experience ordering take-out from Sam Thai in White Bear Lake.

Anyway, until I write again, you can find me post more frequently on Instagram. Between now and my due date, just trying to survive these last weeks of pregnancy, work, and caring for a toddler.