Category Archives: Family

Tasty Eats

We celebrated an early Christmas with our son and his family over Thanksgiving. I was quite excited to get a new cookbook from them, The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson. We have his Nordic Baking Book, which has hundreds of wonderful recipes. The book I just received has 700 recipes from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Finland. Some recipes are pretty traditional ones for meatballs and stews. I am happy to report, though, that if I ever run across Pilot Whale in the store, I shall know how to cook it. It may be a while before I am brave enough to cook with seal entrails or roast a Puffin.

It is interesting to see the different versions that different Nordic countries have for the same dish. There are slight variations on seasonings and ways of cooking things like meatballs, sausages, and meatloaf, for example. I think that we will have a fun time exploring this new cookbook. There are some things I will never cook with, like, blood, for instance. There are plenty enough other recipes that will be far more tasty.

What are some of your favorite cookbooks? What are some of the oddest things you ever cooked and/or ate?

Where in the World are VS and YA?

YA and I are on what we are calling my retirement trip.  This travel is made possible by my old company (her current company) using “award credits” that we’ve been amassing the last year and a half.  Wonder where we are?

  1. You can legally mail a coconut from here.
  2. The largest dormant volcano in the world is here.
  3. There is vog here but no smog.
  4. There are no squirrels, hamsters or gerbils here.
  5. All forms of gambling are illegal here.
  6. The tallest mountain in the world is also here.

What a Deal!

Husband’s son Mario has come to Winona for a 10-day visit, and brought the whole famdamily! It’s a complicated, blended family with 3 girls: 20 years old, 17, 13; and a 2½-year-old boy and his 3-month-old brother. Their mom is a dream.

Happily, they are staying just around the corner from us, at the home of Mario’s mom. (She bought this house in 2021, having no idea at first that her former boyfriend would be sharing the back yard fence.) What serendipity! We just walked over there this evening with our contribution of salad and fixings, played with a little kid, held a baby, ate, talked with teenagers in front of a (real) fireplace, helped clean up, made plans for tomorrow, and walked back home. I met more of their relatives, and there will be an even bigger crowd for the big Thanksgiving blowout on Friday. If needed, we can “overflow” over to our house, which holds about six.  : )

I was a little nervous about so many of them coming for so long, and of course this is just the first day.   But we’ll all be fine – there can be an easy flow back and forth. Who set this up??

When do you eat your Thanksgiving meal?

A Brand New Start

It was a year ago that we lost our Steve.  I’m re-running one of his posts (from February 2020) for the day.  You can answer his intial question or share a Steve memory!

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I have been marveling at what my daughter accomplished this past year. Last winter she, her family and I were living in Port Huron, Michigan. She couldn’t find a job, for the local economy is depressed. My son-in-law had a job he detested, with no possibility of finding a better job. I lived in a senior citizen complex near their rental home, staying alone in my room unless my daughter was visiting me. Nobody was very happy.

It became painfully clear that my daughter and s-i-l had to move and set up new lives. Since I cast my lot with my daughter’s family when I sold my home in 2014, I would have to move too. The experiment of living in Michigan was mostly a botch.

Because my daughter was not working, she was the obvious person to do the research and planning necessary to make the move possible. But, oh my, what a fiendishly complicated task that would be.

Breaking this challenge down into smaller pieces, my daughter needed to:

  • Pick a new town and neighborhood to live in where all four of us (three adults, a kid and a large old dog) might be happy.
  • Find a new apartment or rental home where my daughter’s family could live, doing this research while living in Michigan, unable to look at rental properties in person. This would be especially difficult due to the shortage of affordable housing.
  • Find a senior living community for me. It had to be near her home near her new job . . . wherever they might be. Once again, my daughter had no way to visit the various facilities under consideration.
  • Find movers who could relocate two households 800 miles without charging much.
  • Devise a way to get three automobiles from Michigan to Minnesota, a feat complicated by the fact we had only two drivers.
  • Find a job for herself (a job near her new home and my new apartment, wherever they would turn out to be). This decision, too, had to be done without the benefit of a visit.
  • Find a job for her husband (or at least identify a process which he could follow to find one).
  • Find a great new school for her fourth-grade son.
  • Do all the physical work of boxing up two households for the move.
  • Clean her rental home and my apartment.
  • Accomplish all of this and make the actual move in less than three months.

I wonder if that list adequately reflects how complicated this was. The sixth item alone is daunting. Everything on the list was inextricably connected to all the other issues, which made the overall project extremely tricky. Each choice depended on several other decisions, and there seemed to be no obvious place to start.

My daughter was amused by how her research turned out. The Minnesota metro region emerged as the clear favorite for many reasons but especially its strong economy. St. Paul seemed the most attractive city in Minnesota. The most desirable place to live in St. Paul, her research said, turned out to be Highland Park. So my daughter’s search for the ideal place to move led her to exactly the neighborhood where she had grown up.

We made the move last June. I believe this is the most difficult my daughter has ever faced. As of the middle of January, 2020, every single item on the list has been met successfully. My daughter now lives in an apartment a few blocks from her childhood home (although serious house-hunting begins this spring). And everybody, even the old dog, is delighted to be here.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Have you ever discovered that you needed to make a brand new start?

Well, I’ll Be Stuffed!

It’s time for the annual CarbFest.  We always spend Thanksgiving with close friends and I am always asked to bring the vegetarian stuffing and a dessert.   A friend asked me to send her my recipe for the stuffing and as I typed it out I realized that I have probably never followed the recipe to the letter even once.

In fact, this year, I’m thinking of adding some cornbread  to the sourdough as the base of the stuffing.  And I have to go get craisins today because I always used them instead of the dark raisins.  I’ve also never used fresh parsley – not once in 20+ years.

I’m thinking I should probably have told this to my friend.  What if she makes the recipe as written and doesn’t like it and then wonders about my sanity??

Do you have a recipe that you always alter?

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!

In the “always something new under the sun” category – I came downstairs last week to find Nimue’s two ceramic bowls replaced with these two plates. 

YA purchased them because apparently kitties can get “whisker fatigue” if they eat from regular bowls. I’m not even going to look up whisker fatigue; if I do find it legitimized online, it will just make me crazy.

Any new “news” in your world lately?

Sweet Conundrum

My father loved buttermilk.  Unfortunately my mother did not.  This meant that my father didn’t get buttermilk very often because my mother just didn’t purchase many things that she didn’t like, even if someone else did.  She was in charge of the kitchen, the shopping and the cooking and there just wasn’t room in her cart for things she wasn’t going to consume.  Fish, liver, brussel sprouts, mushrooms – none of these ever saw the inside of our fridge.

So my father would often order buttermilk when we ate out.  This got troublesome occasionally.  At Perkins in particular, he always asked for buttermilk and was always told they didn’t have it.  He would immediately point out the buttermilk pancakes on the menu and ask for buttermilk again.  It didn’t matter that every single time the waitstaff explained that the pancake mix already had the buttermilk in it, he just couldn’t understand how you could have buttermilk pancakes but not have buttermilk. 

I was thinking about this a few days ago.  I had a morning appointment up in Robbinsdale and the doctor agreed to an 8 a.m. time slot even though the office didn’t normally start taking appointments until 8:30.  To thank her, I stopped at a bakery/coffee shop up the street from the office to pick up coffee for both of us (and a doughnut for myself, who are we kidding).  It was quiet in the bakery; I was the only customer.  From where I was standing, I couldn’t see the cream/sugar nook so I asked the guy behind the counter.  He pointed out a table in a corner but then said “but we don’t have sugar”. 

I was sure I had heard him wrong so I said “you don’t have sugar?”.  Nope, they had sweetners, but no sugar.  I started to suggest that you can’t have 20 kinds of doughnuts and pastries along with cookies and cakes and not have sugar but then I remembered my dad always haranguing waitstaff about buttermilk and I decided to zip my lip.  But five days later, I’m still wondering about it.  No sugar in a bakery?

Any little mysteries bugging you this week?

World Kindness Day

Yesterday was World Kindness Day.

YA and I celebrated (although I’m not sure she even know it was Kindness Day) by heading off to the Botticelli and Renaissance Florence exhibit at the Minneapolis Art Institute.  It was a nice exhibit; not as much Botticelli as I would have liked, but I suppose the Uffizi in Florence didn’t want to completely empty out their galleries for us!  YA wanted to see this one

(unfortunately it stayed behind in Florence).  She did talk me into buying a magnet of it for the refrigerator though!

Afterwards we went to Hola Arepa for brunch.  I had the Fried Egg Breakfast – the Arepa version of huevos rancheros with two great sauces and yuca fries.  It was really scrumptious but made even better when half way through, YA suggested that she pay for our meal.  I accepted so quickly that she laughed.  NEVER before has she volunteered to pay for a meal in a restaurant for us. 

I’m putting it down to World Kindness Day although I’m not sure YA was in the know!

Any kindnesses to report?

Never the Twain Shall Sheet

Twice a year I take all my bedding off my bed – quilt, pillows, shams, allergy covers, dust ruffle – give it a thorough hot water wash and a long hot dry before putting it all back together again.  This is part of my allergy abatement policy.  I struggled for years before my adult-onset allergies were diagnosed and even 25 years later, I remember how miserable I was.  So I take my allergy precautions pretty seriously. 

The sheets get changed every Saturday in addition to my twice-a-year routine and as I was choosing which sheets tro use, I decided it was a good time to organize the linen cabinet.  I discovered that all of YA’s sheets (yes, we have separate sheets; I like patterns, she likes solids) were all messed up with bottom sheets on different shelves than the matching top sheets.

When I asked her about it, I got the rolled eyes and a comment that she has only used bottom sheets for years and why was I just noticing it now.  Then I asked about WHY no top sheet and she said that it’s a waste to get two sheets dirty instead of one and recommended I look it up.  Apparently it’s a trend; you can even purchase just a bottom fitted sheet instead of an entire set. 

If you don’t want to get a top sheet dirty, then aren’t you worried about getting your blanket, duvet, quilt dirty?  Seems way easier to me to wash a top sheet than a duvet cover or quilt.  Just one more thing about which I am clearly behind the times.

To add insult to injury, I like to put the top sheet pattern down so that when I get into the bed, I have pattern on all sides.  Based on what I see online, I’m in the majority on this (it is apparently controversial), although I was dismayed in my online search to see Bedding 101 by Martha Stewart in which she walks the reader through how to make a bed.  Seriously?

So what about you?  One sheet or two?  Pattern side up or down?  Need help from Martha making your bed?

Parental Psychology

I never took any Psychology classes during any of my college years.  I have nothing against Psychology (and have benefited from it greatly during my life) but I just wanted to get my science requirements out of the way and Psych wasn’t offered when I needed a science class.  Most of my psychology education comes from various Scientific American articles I’ve read over the years.

I think it’s safe to say that as a parent, one REALLY needs psychology.  You just can’t make it through parenthood without figuring out your kids AND figuring out how to get your kids motivated to do what they need to get done.   YA is almost 28 and I still struggle with this occasionally.

One of the things I have figured out is that sometimes you have to come at her sideways.  She is too cool to get enthusiastic over some of my projects; when I brought home the haunted house kit (see photo above), she turned up her nose at it a bit.  If she had been with me when I purchased it, she would have indicated it was not a good idea.  But a few days ago I said “I’m going to do the haunted house tonight if you want to help”.  She responded with a non-committal grunt but when I got everything set up on the dining room table, she showed up.  And she did most of the decorating herself.   This works pretty much all of the time… Easter egg dying, jigsaw puzzles, yardwork, cookie decorating.  It even worked once on a snorkel sail when she was crabby and I said “Fine, you don’t have to go… I’ll see you later.”

If you take this route though, you have to be prepared to do the project by yourself; I think you really have to believe this or they hear it in your voice and then you’re sunk!

How to you talk your loved ones into things?