Category Archives: Food

Grilling Season!

We took the grill out on Monday and fired it up!  For many years, when YA was younger, we had an old kinda-grill that we inherited when I bought the house.  It looked like it had been cobbled together from parts found in the garage and was so rickety that I wasn’t sure I could get it to the boulevard to give away before it collapsed.  I felt a little guilty that somebody stopped and took it before I’d even had a chance to go in the house and make a “FREE” sign.

Our second grill was a little hibachi-type thing, but we didn’t use it much.  Let’s face it, spending 30-40 minutes coaxing charcoal to just the right stage so you can heat up a veggie burger for a minute. 

I finally caved and got a gas grill when YA was about 12 – got it using award credits at work.  Then I splurged to get a little wheeled cart that it sits on; it was a little too big to lug around.  Last year we switched from the little canisters to a big one.  It works much better and saves a lot of gas.  

So to celebrate Memorial Day we did grilled corn on the cob and veggie brats with all the fixins.  It was a perfect day for grilling and eating at our outdoor table!  And so much nicer to just turn on the gas for 10 minutes and then turn it off!

What do you like to grill?

Cheese Poll

Photo credit: The Cricket Gallery

I do most of my “library-ing” at the Washburn Library.  It’s just 2 blocks away and it would be a lie if I said it was on the list of considerations when I bought this house.  I’m probably there twice a week.

Last week I needed a copy of something right away (for my other book club) and the closest copy was at the Southdale location.  At Southdale, all the library action begins on the second floor and as I came up the steps and rounded the corner, I encountered this table:

Apparently May is National Cheese month.  Who knew?  Anyway, it looks like they do a tally like this every month.  You choose a little paper slip and put it in the cylinder of your choice.  Not sure why they do this, but seemed like a bit of harmless fun.

I voted for Paneer because I love the underdog.

Did you have a favorite childhood cartoon? Or we can discuss cheese!

Life Goes On

The Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

I saw a sticker in a YouTube video: “Life is -f**king- relentless”. Boy, they got that right.

Tuesday morning, I was a little overwhelmed. The college shop was a mess with stuff from the play, and from the concert, AND from commencement. Plus, I had to build the set for the show opening the 24th, not to mention farming. By Tuesday afternoon I had gotten a lot done and I didn’t feel so bad.

About noon on Tuesday, there was a crane placing the heat and AC unit on the roof at the Rep Theater, that was fun to watch.

On Thursday, as the heat and AC guys did final measurements for the ductwork, they inadvertently dumped about 30 gallons of rainwater that was trapped inside a temporary roof opening, into the theater. I was there just to unlock some doors, but I heard the gush of water and I kind of knew what it was, but why was there THAT MUCH?! Of course, it ran along the steel joists and dripped over a 20-foot area on the first and second floor. So that was fun. And unexpected. And not what I meant to be doing. It didn’t really hurt anything.

Kelly and I had supper at a Middle Eastern restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. A new place for us. There was only one other couple in there. The food was great! The owner / host didn’t speak English and there was a lot of pointing at pictures in the menu, and I didn’t get the appetizer I thought I was ordering, (I didn’t get any appetizer) but the entre was good. And I even tried the coffee!

Sundays, Kelly and I take the gator around the farm and check out what’s happening. It’s a pleasant Sunday drive.

With all the rain, it’s a little wet in some of the fields.

Mom celebrated her 97th birthday with ice cream with friends.

Her birthday was really Friday, but they celebrated Thursday. Mom gets very anxious and had called to be sure someone was coming. When she plays music on her Alexa device, she turns the volume down. Then when she calls someone, she can’t hear us. It’s rather comical. There’s a lot of shouting and interrupting each other. Kelly and daughter plug their ears when I talk to mom.

The family reunion was really nice. Got to see nieces and nephews I hadn’t seen in a  while. A couple of them came to the farm to relive memories, and I made friends with a grandniece who wasn’t too sure about me until we got on the tractors.

Taking a gator ride, we found blue bells, wild leeks, and they showed me jack-in-the-pulpit’s that I didn’t know about.

Thursday I finally went back to planting corn. Finished one field and was doing a food plot for a neighbor when the tractor got hard to steer. I had blown a hydraulic hose and lost all the hydraulic oil. Course it was after regular business hours. The other day we talked about good customer service: The parts guys are willing to come in after hours if you need. When I called, the guy was half hour away from the store. I’m half hour away too, but I also wasn’t sure they could make a new hose or it’s something they need to order. I decided it could wait until morning.

Since I was a few miles from home with a broken tractor and the planter in the ground, Kelly came over with the gator to pick me up. I took the other tractor with the soil finisher and went out doing field work. After one round, I found one of the shovels of the digger laying in the field. The big bar it attaches to, called a ‘Standard’, had broken off. Well, there’s 30 other ones on the machine, so missing this one isn’t the end of the world. I worked until about 9PM, went home and backed it up to the shed and used lots of new tools. I used the 4 foot ‘under hood’ cordless LED work light that Kelly gave me as a gift, I used my new cordless grinder that I bought myself as a gift, I use some pry bars that I got recently, and I use the air hammer, which I don’t get a chance to use very often. Considering there was only two bolts to get out to remove the standard, I’m surprised it took that many tools.

All the parts manuals are online and they take a little digging sometimes, but it sure is convenient. I placed a parts order online about 11PM, to pick up the next morning. Hydraulic hose, bolts, standard, ect.

Kelly and I burned the pile of winter sticks one night and had a nice time being outside.

The first corn that I planted on whatever day it was, it’s already out of the ground. I picked up soybean seed this week, so I’ve got all the seed now.

We found some guinea eggs in the chicken’s coop one day so we put them in an incubator. We’ll ‘candle’ them next week and see what we got. We put 8 chicken eggs in there too just because. 

Guinea eggs are kind of pointed. They’re the ones on the bottom of the photo. The cradles they’re sitting in ‘rock’ them gently; in effect, turning them like a momma hen would do.

There was a male duck hanging around here one day. And over in the field where I was planting corn, a male and female duck were hanging around. They weren’t bothered by the tractor so I suspect they’re one of my pairs.

The chickens, while down a bit on egg production, are doing well.

Still got coyotes coming around most every morning, but Kelly and the dogs are keeping a good handle on them.

A bear has been spotted on some security camera’s in the neighborhood.

One day at a time. Life goes on.

Who’s your newest friend?

What’s the last present you bought yourself?

Six Hours Down the Tube

Don’t say I’ve never done anything for you.  Yesterday, after listening to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes song (thank you, Wes), I went out in search of the movie and found four of them. I watched them all so that you never have to. The first one (Attack) got terrible reviews but the cast and crew had their tongues stuck in their cheeks so firmly that it was hard not to warm up to the film.  I’m not even sure I can recount the plot (there just barely is one) but suffice it to say that tomatoes start killing people and are eventually overcome by a song named “Puberty Love”.  The movie is filled from beginning to end with sight gags, bad puns and atrocious over-acting.  I can understand why it has attained the status of “cult classic”. 

The second film in the series is Return of the Killer Tomatoes.  Two notable cast members stand out – John Astin as the mad scientist who supposedly was behind the killer tomato attacks in the first movie (although Astin was not in Attack).  The other is a very young George Clooney who plays a pizza jock who is also a bit of a horn dog.  Return, although made by the same crowd as Attack, takes itself more seriously which makes the movie not even remotely fun.

Killer Tomatoes Strike Back.  John Astin is also back, this time trying to gain control of the world using brainwashing and thought control.  Rick Rockwell plays the main character and the only redeeming thing about him is the wild assortment of Zumba pants he wears throughout.  Oh – and the tomatoes get faces in this one.  I will admit there is one very funny scene in which the bad tomatoes and Astin attempt to make a BLT with the female lead instead of slices of tomato.

Killer Tomatoes Eat France is thankfully the last of the series.  This time John Astin escapes from prison and tries to take over the world by re-creating the French Revolution and proclaiming his minion Igor as King.  Why this would result in world domination is never made clear.  The most noteworthy thing about this one is that the tomatoes have gotten seriously ugly with bad teeth, the occasional eye patch and tongues (ick) and finally after all this time, they finally have the power of speech. There is one monster fire-breathing tomato but he/she doesn’t get much film time.  Too bad.

I’m not recommending that anybody else waste their time watching any of these except maybe the original Attack of the Killer Tomatoes – if it’s cold out and you have an hour or so with nothing else planned.  The others?  Don’t even bother.  They took a fun quirky idea and ran it straight into the ground.

Tell me about your favorite tomato dish!

A Bit Corny

YA made popcorn on Sunday.  She always dumps it into one of our big yellow bowls which she carries around with her until she is finished.  Most of the time she brings the bowl into my room and offers me some.

On Sunday, she was shaking the bowl as she picked out a few pieces for me and the sound made me think she had a lot of un-popped kernels.  I asked her if she had a lot of old maids and she looked at me as if I had frogs jumping out of my ears. 

She did not know that the un-popped corns were called old maids.  In fact, upon further discussion it turns out that she also did not know that old maid was a derogatory term used for unmarried women.  While it’s probably a good thing that old maids is fading from our consciousness, it took me by surprise.  There is so much that I consider common knowledge that just isn’t anymore.

How do you like your corn?  Air-popped, kettle, plain or buttered?  Creamed?

Mother’s Day Amiss

YA came into my room on Friday and asked me if I wanted to go to Lowbrow for breakfast on Mother’s Day.  Lowbrow is her favorite. My favorite breakfast place is actually Black Coffee & Waffle but I would never attempt going there on a Sunday.  It’s a very small place and they only make the waffles when  you order them, so service is slow.  Since my favorite was out of the question, I said sure to Lowbrow.  YA wasn’t able to do a reservation online so she was forced to use the telephone and talk to the restaurant live (horrors).  They said all their reservations were full but they had a few tables held for walk-ins. 

We decided to go right away at opening (9 a.m.) but I was dismayed when we turned the corner and there was already a robust gathering outside the door…. In the rain.  As is always the case on Mother’s Day, there were quite a few large groups – you could see through the windows that the tables were already pushed together and set.  It took about 15 minutes before we made it inside and the couple in front of us took the last free table.  90 minute wait.  Believe me when I say that spending 90 minutes with YA before she has eaten is not a good way to start off your Mother’s Day.

There is a new little restaurant across the street from Lowbrow; it looked fairly empty so we headed over there.  They did have a table for us but before we sat down they showed us the Sunday brunch menu – a prix fixe with a starter board, a choice of three entrees (only one of which was a vegetarian option) and a choice of two desserts.  Neither of us was too interested and the $45 per person price tag pushed us right out the front door.

It took us about 2 minutes to decide to drive to Perkins, where we know they don’t take reservations and where there are lots and lots of tables.  No wait and a special Mother’s Day menu with lots of strawberry options.  YA had the Fresh Strawberry Pancake stack and I had the Fresh Strawberry Belgian Waffle.  It was farther from home than we had planned on, different menu than we had planned on.  It was more crowded and noisier than we prefer but we had a very nice time.  We topped off our experience with a quick trip to Trader Joe’s (YA adores Trader Joes), which was also very busy, doing a whopping flower business! Ya gotta love Mother’s Day!

When was the last time things didn’t go as planned for you?

Cheering Throngs

My warehouse projects are this Friday and Saturday.  Part of the warehouse “experience” is having cheering throngs when the winners arrive at the warehouse.  For one of the very first warehouse programs (about 15 years ago), somebody had the idea to invite the Vikings cheerleaders to welcome the winners; as cheesy at it sounds, the participants ate it up.  Unfortunately it didn’t often work out (time-wise or budget-wise) to keep bringing “professionals” in to cheer.  That’s when we started recruiting regular employees to take a break from their desks to come root the winners on as they get off the bus.  Didn’t take long before we added noisemakers and clappers for the ultimate event.

For my very first warehouse run, my winners were veterinarian pharmaceutical sales folks and I found out early on that there were four subsets of them… and they didn’t like each other.  I never did figure out exactly how they were competitors but the bottom line was the client didn’t want the four groups in the warehouse at the same time.  Instead of one run with about 45 winners, we had to have four runs in one day, with 8-12 winners each.  That wasn’t a problem for anybody except for me.  It was the first week of December and I was really worried that I wouldn’t get people out to cheer four times in one day, especially a cold day. 

That’s when I thought up the hot chocolate.  I ordered four big containers of hot chocolate along with cups, set up a table outside the warehouse (where folks congregate to cheer) and then four times that day poured out cup after cup of hot cocoa.  It was a big hit and several folks came out repeatedly that day, one even mentioning to me that he came for the hot drink.  We’ve been supplying hot chocolate at cold weather warehouse runs ever since and have added lemonade for hot weather runs.  I’ve always felt proud that this was my idea.

Fast forward to this week.  Since pandemic, Mondays and Fridays are work-at-home days; normally the buildings are all but empty.  There haven’t been many Friday warehouse programs since the travel industry got back on its feet but there have been just enough folks who are either already on campus or willing to drive in to cheer.  But Saturdays are a whole `nother matter   Not only is Saturday in itself a problem — the group is big enough that we have to do a morning run and an afternoon run. We even advised the client that we couldn’t guarantee the cheering.  With management’s blessing, we have an incentive set up to get folks to come in to cheer.  In addition, I’ve ordered doughnuts for the Friday and Saturday morning cheerers and cookies for the Saturday afternoon cheerers.  Hopefully between the company incentive and the goodies, we’ll get enough to make it exciting for the winners.  Fingers crossed.

What would it take to get you to come out and cheer on a weekend?

Classical Ads

I was at home on sick leave yesterday and had ample time to lie on the sofa and listen to MPR. I was tickled to hear the Oscar Mayer Weiner song played on Performance Today. The announcer commented that the Oscar Mayer song catapulted the company into national prominence.

The link between advertising and classical music was fascinating. There were apparently two competing harp manufacturers in France in the early 1900’s. Debussy was commissioned by one, the Pleyel company, Ravel by the other, the Erard company, to compose pieces for harp that the companies could lay claim to and use to promote their harps. Both pieces are favorites of mine.

Neither company manufactures harps any longer, but the musical pieces remain. I wonder how long Oscar Mayer will make wieners?

What is your favorite brand of wiener? What are your favorite and least favorite advertising jingles? Know any harpists?

Value Added

Husband and I did such a good job eating leftovers out of the Lutheran Freezer over the past couple of months that I decided last weekend that I would go crazy and actually cook some new dishes. Husband left it to me to do the cooking while he and the dog cleaned up the yard. I had the best fun!

We have a number of legs of lamb in our freezers, and I decided to make use of one. I didn’t want to just roast a whole leg. One of my favorite lamb dishes is a Kreatopita from the island of Kephalonia that has lamb chunks, tomatoes, feta, and hard boiled eggs all encased in phyllo. It calls for only 1.75 lbs of lamb, so we had to find other recipes to use up the remaining leg meat. We opted for recipes from a stew book by Clifford Wright, a historian and food writer who specializes in dishes from the Mediterranean. He also came up with the Lamb Pie recipe.

The first stew, which also used 1.75 lbs of lamb, was an Andalusian recipe called Spanish Lamb, Heirloom Beans, and Fennel stew. That stew had four different kinds of dried heirloom beans, most from Spain and Portugal. Next came Fiery White Haricot, Onion, and Lamb Stew of the Housewives of Algiers. I used cassoulet beans in that. It used 2 lbs of lamb. The rest of the leg meat was cut into chunks for kebobs that husband grilled. That recipe was from 14th Century Catalan and used about 1.5 lbs of lamb marinated “in the Arab style” with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, saffron, marjoram, and sherry vinegar. I made two vegetable curries and Indian rice to go with the kebobs. One of those recipes was the eggplant curry recipe that PJ contributed to the Kitchen Congress. It is one of my favorites.

I can imagine that anyone reading this will wonder what the heck we are going to do with all this food. Well, not much went into the Lutheran freezer, and it is all so good that we will eat it up pretty quickly. The curries are really going fast. In cooking all this, I used up many things we already had in our freezers and larder. We are coming to increasingly appreciate the wonders of Mediterranean cooking.

How spicy do you like your food? What are your favorite Mediterranean dishes? When was the last time you had a cooking frenzy?

Give It Up

Husband came home Wednesday from his work day in Bismarck to find his right big toe was swollen from gout. He drives to Bismarck on Tuesday nights, stays at a hotel, and works at the Human Service Center all day on Wednesday. Sometimes he takes lunch with him from home in a cooler, but he often just scrambles for lunch on the fly from the grocery stores. Wednesday it was hummus.

Chickpeas are really bad for gout. He knows this, but really loves hummus. He still eats it. He also is seriously allergic to cats, but we have had cats in our home for 35 years. A dripping nose and sneezing are more tolerable to him than the absence of purring. A swollen toe is worth some hummus. I know I could never give up down pillows or comforters if I became allergic to feathers.

My Uncle Alvie, the poker player, always broke out in hives when he ate fresh strawberries. He always feasted on his wife’s homegrown strawberries though, no matter how itchy he got. I know that allergic reactions can be serious. I had a graduate school friend who would go into anaphylaxis if she walked into a home with gerbils or guinea pigs. A work friend recently got a bunny for her son and after a few hours her eyes swelled shut and poor Coco had to go back to his breeder. They were heartbroken.

Do you have allergies? What would be hard for you to give up for allergies or health issues?