Category Archives: Food

Garden Preparations

This weekend Husband and I plan to order our seeds for the garden. Husband has picked out three varieties of zinnia seeds. We will have our usual San Marzano 2 and Brandy Boy tomatoes which we will start in March. I found a source for the Doux D’Espana red sweet peppers. They are unavailable from our usual suppliers, so I hope the new source is reliable. I have no idea why they are in such short supply. We will also grow New Mexico Joe Parker Anaheim peppers.

Husband wants to plant turnips this year instead of kohlrabi. He will have them all to himself, as I don’t like turnips. I don’t like kohlrabi, either. He also wants to grow 12 heads of Alcosa savoy cabbage. We agreed on growing more Hamburg turnip-rooted parsley, as it is so good in soup and stock. We will grow our regular peas, Italian giant winter spinach, chard, Hidatsa pole beans and green beans, Italian parsley, and butternut squash. I am feeling tired already!

What are your summer garden plans? Any travel plans? What flowers do you like to grow? Any opinions about turnips?

Fat Bombs

I’m not hugely adventuresome when it comes to food.  Once I find something I like, I tend to stick to it.  Almond Butter Granola Waffle at Black Coffee & Waffle.  Vegetarian Reuben at Pub 42.  Blueberry Pancake at Lowbrow.  Quattro Formaggio at Punch.  It’s not that I’m afraid to try something new, it’s just that I can’t imagine not having my favorite in that moment.  There are a few things I’ll always try: tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding, anything made with macadamia nuts.

Although Hawaii is not the actual birthplace of the macadamia nut (and isn’t even the world’s largest producer of the nut), the 50th state has certainly taken the macadamia to heart.  I will say that every time I’ve traveled to Hawaii – I work hard to make it worth their while.  And the restaurants on Oahu and Maui did not disappoint this trip.

I learned to love macadamia nuts for breakfast years ago.  I was breakfasting with clients and the hotel sales person when I discovered coconut syrup on the waffle bar, along with chopped macadamia nuts.  Can we say “heavenly”?  I know in this global economy I can easily get nuts and syrup but I never get around to it so I was really looking forward to loading up on fat bombs (what a friend dubbed macadamia nuts long ago).

Our very first morning in Oahu, we hiked about 15 blocks to Eggs `n Things:

We had a great table out on the balcony, looking over a pretty park and they served me the Fresh Fruit Rainbow Pancake.  With macadamia nuts.  The photo is in the header above.  It was delicious and outrageous – how can anybody eat that much in one sitting?  Well, I showed them how it was done.  It was a good things we had a lot of walking to do that day.

We went to a different breakfast spot every day of our trip and I found pancakes with macadamia nuts every time – but only found coconut syrup once.  Aaaah well, the vicissitudes of travel!

Anything you can eat meal after meal?

Hello, Old Friend

Earlier this week, before the blizzard hit, UPS delivered an Amazon order. In the past week, we have had mail and other deliveries only once because of the storms. I got 20 pairs of new socks (Kyrill is a thief who has stolen and chewed lots of my socks) and a two volume set of Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking. It is the third set of these books I have owned.

The first set was the original 1961 version. I got those in the early 1970’s when I was in Middle School. I remember pouring over those books with fascination and wonder. I loved watching her on PBS. I tried several recipes with great success and a fair number of flops. Julia had this weird way of measuring flour in the first edition, instructing her readers to sift flour directly into the measuring cups. By the 1983 soft cover version that I acquired shortly after acquiring Husband, you scooped and leveled your flour, since flour no longer needed such sifting.

A couple of weeks ago, Husband expressed great frustration with the condition of the books. We mainly use Julia for a reference, but also have some favorite recipes. Pages have been loose for years, and some are missing, and the books are held together with rubber bands. I found a very reasonably priced boxed set of the hardcover 40th Anniversary edition published in 2001. Getting the boxed set was so fun, like welcoming an old friend home.

What books would you replace if you could? What are your favorite memories of Julia? Ever had a pet that stole things?

Your Order, Please

Our daughter is flying home next Thursday for a week of rest and relaxation. It has been a big year for her, getting her independent clinical social work license and starting a private practice. She is very excited to be home and her phone calls are becoming more frequent.

One of her joys visiting home is choosing the menus for our meals. She wants Turkey Chipotle Chowder and homemade cinnamon rolls. We have settled on Horseradish Encrusted Beef Tenderloin garlic mashed potatoes, cheesy baked asparagus, and apple hand pies for Christmas Day. Sometime during her week here she wants Croque Madame Casserole.

We love to cook for her, and it will be good to have her home. She will lie on the sofa and knit an afghan for us as our Christmas present. She also wants to play cribbage with her father. She doesn’t want anything from us this Christmas except a quiet and good food.

How are you planning to spend the holidays? What would you like to eat ? How were your visits home when you were in your 20’s?

Random Thoughts

Today’s Farm report comes from Ben.

It’s December. Not too much farm stuff this week, and I have some random thoughts.

I saw SEVEN ducks fly over to their breakfast! Everybody but the poufy and the two big black ones. Rosie and Guildy, the regular mallards, and the two that I always assumed were too fat to fly. (Is it OK to call a duck fat?) But they all flew from the pond to the corn. Yay ducks!

It was down in the single digits the other night and I had to turn on the wellhouse heater again. I sure don’t remember having to do that in November or early December before.

I got the rear blade mounted on the tractor and got to use it after the 3” of snow we got on Tuesday. As usual with the first snow and the not solidly frozen ground, I ripped up some sod. Oops. Well, the chickens like the dirt. Gonna be rough mowing next summer, but that’s next summers problem.

We did get the driveway markers in and snow fence up last Saturday. That Saturday after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a nice weather day and we’ve done snow fence for several years on that day. It was a little windy, but it wasn’t too cold, and as long as we worked with the wind, the fence stayed up by itself and it went OK. It helps that the posts are still there one year to the next. Last year my shoulder had just started to hurt, leading to the surgery in February, so I wasn’t much help with the snowfence last year. We put up 400’ in about 1.5 hours this year. Next year I’m hoping to install some permanent wood posts for the ends of the sections. It’s on my list of next summer’s jobs.

Every night I give the dogs some ‘Milkbone’ dog treats. Allie has to get one first. Humphrey will not take a treat first; he’ll only take one after Allie gets hers. I don’t think it’s altruism, I’m not sure if he’s that suspicious? He won’t take pills or eat anything without sniffing it first. And Bailey. She’ll leave the treats sit all night. And when I open the garage door the next morning, she grabs a treat and heads off to bury it in the snow. She’s so weird. They’re all so weird.  

I’ve started baking Amish Friendship bread again. Just did my second batch of 6. I should be able to get one more batch in before the knee, then I’ll stall it for a bit. I’ve got a list of things that needed to be done before my knee replacement. (8 days and counting! I’m excited and scared and cautiously optimistic!) There were some big things like getting fieldwork done, and machinery put away, getting the snow fence up, and putting the rear blade

on the tractor were the last two items. But then I started adding minor things, just so I could enjoy crossing them off. I’ve added things like ‘Put up Christmas tree’ and ‘Show Kelly the well house heater’ and ‘move the piano’. We’re making progress on the list!

Music this week: I’ve been listening to the Modern Big Band channel. And on the car radio I heard Nina Simmone singing ‘Sinnerman’.


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?

Cookie Storm

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear that I’ve overdone.  Again.

I have rules about things around the holidays.   All self-imposed, so my own fault.

  1. No holiday music or movies until after dinner on Thanksgiving (YA always turns on the holiday station right as we leave from our Thanksgiving feast.)
  2. No holiday baking until the Friday after Thanksgiving.
  3. Tree purchased on Black Friday and put up some time that day.
  4. My best friend and her husband (and sometimes their kids & spouses) come to help decorate the tree, almost always the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
  5. Cookies and hot chocolate are served at Tree Trimming. Normally I make 5-6 kinds of cookies over the weekend for this gathering and then do the rest of the holiday cookies in the following few days.

These rules formed a perfect storm this year as my friend from Nashville arrived last night as well to babysit the house and the dog while YA and I take a trip.  I decided that I needed to get all the cookies baked before Tree Trimming.  I also had to get the house cleaned up.  AND, the front porch was coming down the final stretch.

3 days, 15 kinds of cookies, tree, lights, tree trimming, house clean enough for company AND the front porch is done.  I feel like I’ve been through the proverbial wringer and every muscle in my body has hired a hit man.  There is even a blister where the dough scoop hits my middle finger and I woke up during the night with pain in my hand and had to take an ibuprofen!  So I’m thinking that I have overdone it.  Just a bit.

(Anna’s M & M, White Chocolate Madadamia, Lemon Snowflakes, Peanut Blossoms, Frosted Sugar, Malted Milk, Cream Cheese Spritz, Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Vanilla Crescents, Pecan Meltaways, Speculaas, Soft Ginger, 2 kinds of fudge).  Yes I know this is only 14 – the 15th debuted it’s way right into the trash.

When was the last time you over-did?

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?

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?

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?