Category Archives: Food

Garden Surprises

We didn’t grow butternut squash this year. I was delighted  when our neighbor offered us a butternut from her garden.  She thought she planted cucumbers, and was horrified and deeply disappointed when they turned out to be squash. Our neighbor is German-Russian, and the German-Russians here are mad for raw cucumbers in the summer.  The squash were truly a tragedy for her.   We certainly enjoyed the squash at Thanksgiving.

A Lutheran pastor friend of mine  operates a market garden with his family.  They planted what they thought was a very long row of onions, but what turned out to be leeks.  Lots of leeks. They were not familiar with leeks, and live in the only area of ND where there were sufficient rains this summer to insure a vigorous leek crop.  They were at a loss to know what to do with them. He asked me too late to take any off his hands.  They didn’t sell.  I love leeks, and was sad.

We haven’t had too many garden surprises or any other surprises for a while.  I hope I plant spinach this summer and don’t get gourds.  I hope I am surprised by mild weather and sufficient rain.


When have you been surprised?



I Shouldn’t Say This, But . . .

Today’s post is from Steve Grooms.

They say confession is good for the soul. But, then, “they” say a lot of things that aren’t true.

I’m more inclined to think that a little confession can be a little good for the soul. I have stuff in my past that I could admit to, but wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me. I also have tiny things I can confess without getting me thrown in jail or embarrassed.

The StarTribune recently ran a column that invited people to make small confessions. Many did. I can’t find it now, but they were of this sort: “I don’t care how many times the name is changed officially, it will always be Camp Snoopy for me.”

Some readers made their small confessions and then said they felt better about themselves. If making many such confessions could make me feel better, I’ve got enough questionable stuff to confess that I should be able to make myself love myself.

But in the spirit of confessing to small but wrong ideas, I’ll get things started with a confession that will probably provoke outrage with some Baboons. I like the best hydroponic tomatoes better than “real” homegrown tomatoes.

I used to assume homegrown tomatoes were incomparably better than the things we can buy in stores. Then I got a bunch of “real” tomatoes grown by a friend in Port Huron. They did not—to me—test much better than the best hydroponic supermarket things, and they kept far better. My “real” tomatoes went soft and foul on me within days of being picked. Meanwhile the hydroponics in my fridge tested great almost two weeks after I bought them. I’ve had this experience before. So, with some guilt, I admit to preferring those store-bought hydroponics that have such an awful reputation.

I’ve got more, but perhaps that will do. What about you?

Do you have anything to confess?



A Pretty Pickle

Today’s post comes from Linda.

When I’m having lunch with someone, I often hear myself asking “Do you want your pickle?”

It bothers me to see a pickle languishing on the plate. I estimate 80% of diners leave the pickle to be thrown away. What a waste.
I appreciate a good pickle. Or even a mediocre pickle.

What do you appreciate that others don’t?

Cookie Central

It’s Cookie Central at our house this week. We started with the fussy ones: Frosted Sugar and Shortbread Cookie Sticks – to get them out of the way.  They require frosting and sprinkles so take more time than others.  Twelve more kinds to go.  I even got YA onboard today!

When do you start your holiday baking (if you indulge)?


It seems to me that Thanksgiving has more expectations attached to it than any other day of the year. I like to read advice columns in the morning (makes me feel like I have a good handle on things); for a couple of weeks the columns have been filled with angst about Thanksgiving.

Grandma doesn’t want to host dinner and two of the daughters are throwing a fit because it will spoil the day. Uncle Joey always drinks too much and everyone is worried about whether he will spoil the day.  Cousin Mary has a new boyfriend who is a vegetarian and everyone is worried his dietary needs will spoil the day.  Grandpa won’t come because he has a new puppy that isn’t welcome and it will spoil the day.  For so many people Thanksgiving seems to be encased in amber; it must be exactly as it’s always been and it can’t be spoiled.

As a person who moved away from home at an early age, got divorced and then became a single parent, I have never had a chance to cement a list of requirements to make Thanksgiving Day overly static. There is however, one thing that I have been in charge of for many years – the thankful project. I’ve done a paper Mayflower w/ little scrolls that people wrote on, I’ve done a large cut out turkey whose feathers became lists of what we’ve thankful for, I’ve done a large tree with leaves for the thankful thoughts.  This year I’m doing a big poster board covered with square of different papers and have a handful of markers for everybody to write with.  I love doing the thankful project as it really brings it home to me where my focus should be, rather than on whether the potatoes are the way I like them.

One of the things that I’ve written down for the last couple of years on the thankful project is “baboons” (which I then have to explain).  I am beyond grateful that I’ve found a community of folks who are thoughtful, caring, sincere, well-read, funny… all these things and more.  I’m thankful for this past year with you all on the Trail and looking forward to the year coming up.

No question today – just heartfelt thanks for all of you!


I am an only child.  When I was younger, I cringed when I said that to people, as I invariably would hear the same phrase “Oh, you must be spoiled”.  It always made me want to apologize.

Spoiled, to me, brings up images of the nasty girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I think that people can be spoiled in good and not so good ways, and I have tried to spoil my children and the people I love in good ways.

Our daughter is coming home for Thanksgiving. We haven’t seen her for six months.  Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and she has great expectations for her trip home.   Every year we “spoil” her by letting her plan the Thanksgiving meal.  She has old favorites, and likes to try new things as well. She doesn’t help prepare the food, but leaves it to us.  This year she has requested French bread, an apple crisp for desert,  cranberry salsa, a basic turkey dressing, butternut squash casserole,  mashed potatoes, a simple turkey that is covered in cheese cloth and basted with herb butter, and, of course, green bean casserole.  She also wants cranberry mimosas.

Daughter has also asked that she gets a down comforter on her bed, and has other favorite food requests for the 10 days she is home.  I think this is a very good way to spoil her.

How do you spoil the people you love?


Spiralize – A Verb Whether We Like It Or Not

I often feel like I own every kitchen toy possible. Then I get another catalog in the mail or see an ad on the internet.  My latest acquisition is a spiralizer.  Dreadful if completely accurate name.

It has 3 different blades so you get 3 different widths of spirals and you can use it on a wide variety of fruits and vegetables (zucchini, onion, potato, pears, apples, carrots, beets). Pretty much if you can stick it onto the machine, you can probably makes spirals.  Before I bought it I checked out several books from the library to see what kinds of dishes could be prepared – ended up purchasing two cookbooks as well (and yes, I did get rid of two old cookbooks when the new ones arrived).

Of course, the day I had time to mess with it, I didn’t want to go shopping so I just made up a recipe using ingredients I already had in the house.

Sherrilee’s First Spiralized Chilied Potatoes
1 large yellow onion, spiralized
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and spiralized
2 T. butter
1 can of Chili Beans
1 can of tomatoes w/ chiles
1 pouch of Taco sauce
1 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
Salt & pepper to taste
2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese

Saute onions in butter until translucent in oven-proof skillet. Add potatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes until they get soft.  Add beans, tomatoes, taco sauce and spicing to taste.  Top w/ cheese and heat in 350° F oven for about 15 minutes until cheese gets nice and melty.

YA loved it. Good recipe for a cold, rainy weekend even if I feel badly for participating in “verbing”!

What new verb do you detest?