My Other More Exciting Self

Farm Raised, Shoe Enthusiast, Turkey Talker, Wine Lover, Mom

I often write and share scores of photos of my own family, but I’ve also got some pretty great in-laws. This past weekend, we enjoyed a mini-road trip to Iowa City to visit Teacher Man’s sister and her husband along with several other family members for what’s become an annual rite of summer – the Durben family pool party.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have an amazing house – and just about the most perfect saltwater pool ever. Plus they are really welcoming hosts and make it all look easy and stress-free. (We totaled at least 24 people and my in-laws handled the food and drink and sleeping arrangements seemingly effortlessly!)

We swam, enjoyed an afternoon of frozen margaritas, plenty of food and more swimming. What more could we ask for on an August weekend?

Pool Party! | via

This is how my Saturday morning started. Yes, morning. I’m not ashamed. #NoJudging

Pool Party! | via

Look at this doll – she’s the new daughter of our niece, Lindsey, and her husband, David. Always fun to get my #babyfix!

Pool Party! | via

Is there anything more fun at the pool than a diving board? Joe was loving it!

Pool Party! | via

I love this picture of Joe and cousin Isabelle … such big smiles of utter happiness. These two love the water!

Pool Party! | via

And of course, there’s always a little downtime after a late night sleepover with cousins and an entire day of swimming.

Pool Party! | via

Sweet corn – heavenly.  That is all.

Pool Party! | via

Even Earl the Pug joined the pool party, mostly from the comfort of his own kennel. Full disclosure: he actually fell into the pool by accident the night before. Poor guy – he can’t see very well anymore and I was watching him, but he got a little too close. He was a little surprised, but I grabbed him right away. Earl is not much of a swimmer. ;)

Pool Party! | via

These frogs are taking it all in …

5 Things I've Learned from Working for an Agricultural Organization | via

Happy Sunday night, everyone! I’m going to make this pretty short and sweet right now, mainly because I want to share a blog post I wrote for my “Women in Ag” series over on This week marks my 20th year working for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association and in honor of that, I came up with five things I’ve learned over the years, working for an agricultural organization.

I hope you will hop on over to check it out here!

I will be back soon with a new blog post here … I’ve got some fun pictures I’m hoping to share from our weekend in Iowa City, where we attended the 3rd annual Durben family pool party at Teacher Man’s sister’s beautiful home.

Have a great start to your week!

I just realized that this year will mark my 20th straight year of working at the Minnesota State Fair. I’m not even sure what to say to that except … yikes!

And since it’s Thursday (otherwise known as #ThrowbackThursday or #TBT), this is what I looked like. Again, yikes! :)

MTGA Communications Director Lara Durben | via

Twenty years ago my first week on the job at the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association happened to coincide with the first week of the State Fair. Instead of getting to know my office and job description a little better, I found myself cleaning out the freezer at our concession stand, Turkey To Go, setting up our consumer booth with recipes and flyers, and attending a State Fair worker training. All of it seemed very foreign to me at the time – did I really get a journalism degree for this?? – but it all began to make more sense once I got through that first year.

The Minnesota State Fair is the ultimate place to connect with a variety of consumers, share information about turkey farming, distribute information and recipes, and show people turkey is more than just the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal.

These days, I spend at least a couple of days at the State Fair, talking about turkey, chicken and egg farming. Now that Joe is older, he usually comes with me and then we get to spend some time walking around the fairgrounds after I’m done working. (You can read about some of favorites from 2013 here!) It has become an annual tradition and one of our favorite days of the summer.

One of the booths we always try to stop by and check out is Minnesota Farm Bureau at 1305 Underwood Street – right across from the Food Building (mmm, let me digress for one moment …. cheese curds). It’s a great place to get more information about all kinds of agriculture, plus there are always real, live farmers there to answer your questions about food production (like my friend, Sara, who blogs over at Faith, Farming & Cowboy Boots)!

Minnesota Farm Bureau State Fair Building | via

This year Minnesota Farm Bureau has several fun contests and activities planned:

  • It’s time get your #felfie on! Stop in at the Farm Bureau booth, snap your picture with a farmer and – voila! – you have yourself a #felfie! Then post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #MFBFfelfie and you could win a $50 gift card to your local grocery store.
  • Free thermal lunch bags & mini spatulas! Take an interactive quiz about agriculture and you can walk away with either a free thermal lunch bag or a cool mini spatula. (You know how much I love to bake, so I’m a big fan of the mini spatula myself, but the lunch bags come in awfully handy as well.)
  • Check out the hotdish-themed garden! And don’t you dare mention the word “casserole” or you might be met with a blank stare. Okay, just kidding about that part. Maybe. Just make sure you pick up a free fan favorite hotdish recipe at the booth.
  • Drive a tractor!  The coolest “Ag Cab Lab” will be set up, which allows you to sit inside a real tractor cab, grab the wheel and virtually plant and cultivate fields.
  • More fun stuff! Farm Bureau will be doing a prize drawing for a rain barrel as well as various children’s books.

After you’ve taken your #felfie and planted your fields, I hope you will plan to stop by the Minnesota Turkey booth in the Dairy Building (where those amazing dairy malts are) to pick up our new recipes and say hi! I’ve been working with our staff to completely revamp our booth and we’ve got some really cool graphics banners that help you track how turkey gets from the farm to your table and showcase the history of Minnesota’s turkey farmers.  Here’s a sneak peek at one of the banners:

Tracking Turkey to Your Table | via

Hope to see you at the State Fair!

Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.

- Luther Burbank

Annabelle Hydrangeas | via

Aren’t these ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea blooms crazy gorgeous? The blooms have now officially changed from white to green and they are absolutely enormous. I’m holding three blooms here and couldn’t even get my iPhone camera to capture them all in this #selfie.

Hydrangeas (pretty much all varieties) are in my top five list of favorite flowers and these Annabelles are one of the reasons why. Annabelles are the very first hydrangeas I ever planted and I can’t imagine not having a row of these plants growing on the north side of my house.

Classic and beautiful, these hydrangeas just make me happy.


Sriracha Turkey Burger | via #recipe #turkey #burger

I’ve been meaning to blog this recipe for a while now – I’ve made it a few times and everyone loves it. Even Joe.

Yes, you read that correctly. I just said my completely-picky-eater-of-a-son likes these turkey burgers with spicy sriracha sauce. I know. I couldn’t believe it when he first told either. In fact, I made him repeat his praise so I could videotape him. (And yes, he was horrified his mother would make him do that. Sometimes I am so evil and it’s so fun.)


Anyway, if that’s not a glowing endorsement for this recipe, I don’t know what is. ;)

Here’s the thing with ground turkey – it’s pretty bland on its own. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they don’t like turkey burgers because there is no flavor. When I ask them what they did to season the burgers, they give me a blank stare and admit, well, nothing.

Gah! That’s now how to do turkey burgers, people. Trust me on this.

Ground turkey is bland and pretty low in fat (i.e. fat = flavor), but that’s the beauty of it. Ground turkey takes on a variety of spices with ease, so you can essentially make up a zillion combinations of ground turkey, spices you love, different cheeses, and other toppings. On the flip side, it’s packed with protein and it’s low in fat, so it’s also a really healthy option. Winner, winner, turkey dinner!

Here’s the recipe, which I adapted from Jennie-O Turkey Store. The sriracha sauce gives the burgers a nice zing but it’s not super spicy so it won’t freak people out. And if you’re wondering where to find sriracha sauce, check out the Asian food aisle in your supermarket. Target also carries it.

Sriracha Turkey Burgers

  • 1 (20-ounce) package fresh ground turkey (I used JENNIE-O® Lean Ground Turkey)
  • 1 egg, beaten (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
  • ½ cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired
  • 6 hamburger buns (white or wheat)
  • Additional fixings as desired – i.e., lettuce, cucumbers, onion

Sriracha Mayo

  • ¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

To make patties, in large bowl, combine turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons sriracha sauce, garlic, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper, if desired. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Shape mixture into 6 (½-inch thick) patties. Heat non-stick skillet to medium-high heat. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Cook 16 to 18 minutes turning 2 to 3 times. Always cook to well-done, 165°F as measured by meat thermometer. (NOTE: we grilled ours on a gas grill outside.)

To make the sriracha mayo, in small bowl, combine mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce and sweet chili sauce.

Spread mayonnaise mixture on cut sides of each bun. Add the turkey and any fixings you’d like – then enjoy!

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