Category Archives: Food


I was so looking forward to the end of the day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  My plan was to have a quiet evening with Husband and  make two pies so that he could have free rein in the kitchen on Thursday.  I hoped for a calm evening.  Alas, it was not to be.  It started out with a text from my son in mid afternoon:

Mom! When you thaw your pie dough, do you let it come to room temperature before you roll it out?

I advised him to keep it cool but supple enough to roll out.

I got home at about 5:00, and started mixing up some pie crusts. About 5:30 I received a phone call from our daughter:

Mom!  I was slicing onions for that squash casserole with the mandolin and I sliced my thumb. Do you think I need to go to to Urgent Care? It stopped bleeding but it is a big cut!

I told her I had no idea but I thought she was probably ok and to bandage it up tightly. This led to a steady stream of photos of the thumb, anxious inquiries about how she should proceed, and great upset when I missed her calls because I was using the mixer for pie filling and couldn’t hear my phone ring.  I suggested she call  her dad on his phone if I didn’t answer my phone, since he was here, too, and I was trying to bake pies.

In the midst of this, our son called:

Mom! What should I use for pie weights when I pre-bake the pie crusts?

I suggested dried beans or rice after lining the crust with parchment, and video chatted briefly with our grandson.  Soon after our daughter phoned again:

Mom!  Two nurse friends said I should go to Urgent Care. I am going. Do you think I should go?

I told her I thought that was a good idea, and she went, and received five stitches in her thumb and we received photos of the sutures and bandaged hand.  Then son phoned again:

Mom! Should I brine the turkey in the garage or outside on the patio? I am worried that the garage is too warm. Hang on while I take the temperature in the garage. . . Oh darn, the cat got out and is under the car.  Hold on.

I told him I needed to see to my pies, and would he please figure this out with his dad, since he knew lots more about brining than I did. Husband told him to keep the turkey under 40° and brine it outside.

It wasn’t until 9:00 that the pies were done and both son and daughter had settled down.  Husband has always been a most attentive and involved parent, so I have no idea why the children always want my advice in times like these. Its exhausting!

Who do you go to for advice? Who comes to you for advice?  What is the best (or worst) advice you ever got?



Happy Thanks-Carb-Giving

For the first time ever, it’s just me and YA today.  Even though it’s just the two of us, YA is determined that at least the food will be the same as always.   Normally all I ever bring to Thanksgiving dinner is my Sage Sourdough Stuffing (vegetarian) and sometimes a dessert.  With at least four or five other families, everything else is covered.

I did find some nice platter-sized paper plates and matching napkins along with a paper table covering at The Dollar Store, so we’ll have a festive table.  Here’s the final menu:

  • Sage Sourdough Stuffing
  • Scalloped Cheesy Potatoes
  • Mashed Potatoes w/ Vegetarian Gravy  (YA making)
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Green Bean/French Fried Onion Casserole  (YA making)
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Cornbread
  • Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

Any plans for the day?  In a particularly difficult year, is there a way you are maintaining any gratitude?

Bag Lady

Yesterday morning I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up a prescription refill.  As the pharmacist was checking me out, I said “I don’t need any of the paperwork and I don’t need a bag.”  As I just dump the bag and the paperwork as soon as I get home, it seems a waste.   In any other setting, if I just have a few items, I pass on the bag as well.  Usually the receipt too.  I just don’t need more bags of any kind at my house.

Well, the pharmacist put the prescription right into a little bag, although she didn’t print out all the paperwork about the drug.  Probably 25% of the time, even though I have said no bag, I get a bag anyway.  It is so automatic.  I didn’t make a fuss… what good would come of it … just dropped the bag into the trash on the way out of the store.  But I was thinking about how many things we all do almost automatically.

Then YA and I took a big shopping trip to Target.  We had a couple of non-food items that we looked for first, so ended up at the END of the food area (dairy) first, instead of the beginning (produce).  Even though I’ve shopped here many times and we had a list, it was extremely disconcerting to be going “backwards”.  We ended up backtracking at least 3 times when we realized we had missed something.  I’m guessing that I would have this reaction in any grocery store that I’ve shopped at repeatedly.  I didn’t intend to internalize a direction when I shop for groceries, but clearly I have.  Part of me thinks that I should do something about this; how dare the grocery industry mess with my mind.  Another part of me thinks it’s probably too late!

Anything you do without much thinking?

Invent Your Own Covid Test

Last Friday I was on a MS Teams meeting in a weekly group supervision session I participate in with staff from another Human Service Center. The clinical director of that agency was really amused by the ingenuity of  one staff member and the young adult child of another staff member, both of whom accurately self- diagnosed themselves with Covid.

The staff member was suspicious of some symptoms,  and took a couple swigs of lemon juice, couldn’t taste it, and went for a formal test at the doctor and tested positive.  The young adult was out with friends drinking shots of Fireball whiskey, realized she couldn’t taste it, and went for a test and was positive.

The clinical director wryly suggested that perhaps we all needed to drink shots of Fireball whiskey throughout the day to self-monitor for Covid.  Cinnamon flavored whiskey isn’t my drink of choice, but I could think of other strong tasting things I wouldn’t mind monitoring with.

Make up your own Covid test.

Bikes & Bites

As Guinevere and I were walking along, I heard music behind me.  At first I thought it was a car with an open window but when I turned to look, I saw what looked like a parade of bikes.  But unlike most parades that include bikes, many of the bikers had carts attached to their bikes or they had kid carriers – all filled with toilet paper, paper towels, diapers and other “essentials”.  There were probably about 30 bikers and they were all very friendly.   Guinevere and I stood and watched as they all went by.

It didn’t take long for me to find information on like.  Brian Boyer started Bikes & Bites this summer after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent unrest that followed.  It was clear that supplies were needed in the affected areas, as well as in the homeless camps in the city parks.  So he combined donating essential items with his love of biking.  Initially it was just one or two bikers with a handful of folks purchasing extras when they did their shopping.  Since August, it was clearly expanded to the bike parade that I witnessed. 

This kind of thing keeps a little of glimmer of hope alive for me during this awful year. 

Any new organizations that you’ve seen pop up in 2020?

The Calendar

Advent wasn’t a thing at my house growing up.  In fact, I didn’t really know what advent was all about until I was out on my own.  Of course, any thing that I can use to amp up the holiday season has my name all over it.

For many years I had an advent wreath with candles (until it caught the tablecloth on fire).  When YA was young, we had a window cling advent calendar (until she pulled all the pieces off the window – I still think that maybe some of the pieces may have gotten eaten by a dog or even flushed).  I made a big advent calendar out of little tins and lots of holiday paper; it was finally retired a couple of years ago when YA informed me that she didn’t really need to be “doing that” any more.

Two years ago a wine advent calendar hit the Aldis shelves for the first time.  I heard about it right before Christmas – too late.  So last year, I did some research and was dismayed when my friend who works at Aldi’s HQ here, said that the wine advent calendar isn’t sold in Minnesota due to the liquor laws here.  No alcohol sold in grocery stores.  I looked online and found a couple of other wine calendars but they were much more expensive than Aldis and then there was the shipping to Minnesota issue.  YA and I did score an Aldi’s cheese advent calendar and enjoyed it so I decided to try again this year for the wine.

I left the house yesterday at 6 a.m. and headed to River Falls (the closest Aldi’s carrying the calendars).  Arriving at 10 minutes to 7, I saw that four other folks were already there.  We all huddled in our cars until someone drove up at 10 after 7 and got out of her car.  At that point, we quickly started lining up outside the store.  Even though I had thought the process through a little bit, bringing a stadium chair, I neglected a coat, gloves or blanket.  I was VERY happy when the sun finally got above the tree line.  Store employees came out with “tickets” at 8 a.m.  There were wine advent calendars, beer advent calendars and hard seltzer calendars that required tickets and had limits.  It looked like the employees had about 50 of each type of ticket.  By the time the store opened at 9, there were probably 125 folks in line… all down the outside of the store, around the corner and down the whole parking lot.  I can’t speak for other parts of the line, but at the very front, we had a party vibe going right up until opening.  In addition to the wine, I also managed to get to the cheese calendars before they were gone.

Since we know we’ll be having a different kind of holiday season this year, at least we’ll have fun with our cheese and wine every night of advent.

When have you gone out of your way to get something you really wanted?

A Day Without Candy….

Friends asked me.  Facebook folks asked me.  I saw the question online in multiple places.  Even Nonny asked me.  “What are you doing for Halloween this year?”  Nobody wants to just give up on Halloween but at the same time, nobody wants to be taking any chances either.

We decided to do a slightly modified evening.  Normally the kids come up on the steps, I stand just inside the porch (with a dog gate up) and put two or three pieces of candy in each child’s bag.  But somehow that didn’t seem quite right for me to handling candy that I’ve just touched.

I found some cute orange and white bags online and I filled them with four pieces of candy each and some inexpensive Halloween stickers that I found last month at Michaels.  I tied them up with orange ribbon that I had on hand.  The bags have been “quarantining” (or should it be “sheltering in place”) in my closet in a bag for the last three weeks.  Tonight I will dump all the bags into a big orange bowl and when (if?) the kids come up I will hold out the bowl and say “take one”. 

I don’t even know if we will have trick-or-treaters.  For the past 10 years I’ve had between 20-24 visitors; I made 30 little bags because that’s how much candy I had.  The big change this year is that I only used candy that I like so that if we have bags leftover, at least it will what I like!

Are you giving out candy this year?  Do you give out what you like or don’t like?  Anything special you like on Halloween?


I was impressed a while back when Margaret wrote of ordering a turkey leg quarter that weighed seven pounds. That must have been a really big bird.  A local grocery store here  sells boned, skinned, split  chicken breasts, and each half of the breast weighs  a pound. I would be afraid to run into a chicken with a chest that large.

It must be the season for supersizing. The following photo is of a leaf off of our August-planted spinach. I stationed my glasses in the photo to give a sense of how big that leaf is. There were many leaves this big in this fall crop.

I never grew spinach this big before. It was the same variety I tried in the Spring with disappointing results. I attribute the success to planting it in August in the trenches the peas had grown in, so that the soil was warm and full of nitrogen, the nights were cool, and the days weren’t too hot. I doubt I will plant spinach in the Spring again, as it just bolts to seed.

We don’t have a Costco or a Sam’s Cub in our town. The nearest are in Bismarck,  and I have never ever been in one. I know that people here love to go to those stores, but they just don’t appeal to me. I would worry that I would go off the rails and buy supersize lots of too many things that we don’t have storage for.  It is hard enough to figure out what to do with gargantuan spinach leaves and scary chicken breasts.

What are your favorite supersize and supersmall stores?



Judge Not

Our local Cashwise store lines up carts in the front of the store by the checkouts for people who have ordered on-line and have requested curbside loading.  The names of the purchasers are displayed prominently on the carts, and it is easy to see what they ordered.  Several times in the past months I recognized the name on the carts, and have been aghast at the things they have purchased. “Really, Pastor Lisa? You ordered all that pop and chips? Is that what you feed your children?  No wonder they look so pale ,” I think to myself as I pass by with my organic skyr and healthy (in my opinion) food items. Oh, to not judge others is so hard.

What do you judge other people most harshly for? What would people think of you if they glimpsed your grocery cart?

Bratwurst Bun Perfection

Last week, Husband sent, via overnight UPS transport, four bratwurst buns that he had baked,  to his brother-in-law, John,  in Omro,  Wisconsin. This was expensive.

Husband and John both grew up in Sheboygan,  Wisconsin, which touts itself as “The Bratwurst Capital  of the World “.  Bratwurst is certainly a staple in Sheboygan, and there are competing opinions regarding which butcher shop makes the best and what is the best way to prepare them. It is a sacred food there.. There is a flourishing industry in shipping Sheboygan brats to far flung Sheboygan expats.

True Sheboyganites are as concerned about the buns as they are about the sausages. Buns don’t ship as well as sausages. Husband  likens the search for the perfect brat bun to finding the best bagel.  The perfect brat bun is light and crusty with a moist  interior and a slightly malty flavor, traditionally baked on a bed of cornmeal.

Husband and John have a mutually supportive rivalry in attempting to bake the best brat buns at home. They have found recipes on-line from defunct Wisconsin bakeries, and try to adapt them for home use. Husband is an accomplished baker. John not so much. My sister-in-law has had her fill of bakery experiments.  (Note: In Sheboygan,  baked goods are referred to as “bakery”).

The quest continues. . .

What are you trying to perfect? What is your favorite culinary  accomplishment?