Category Archives: Food

Deciliters

Husband is always on the lookout for sourdough rye recipes, and settled on a Danish Rugbrød last week. That is the coarse, very thinly-cut type of rye bread baked in a Pullman pan with added sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and rye chops. It is often used as the base for Smørrebrød, those lovely open faced sandwiches..

The recipe he chose took eight days to make, beginning with the sourdough starter. He meticulously measured things as he fed the rye starter, and by Day 8 he was ready to mix up the bread.

The recipe was poorly translated from the Danish, and the exact steps were very difficult to follow. Husband fussed and fussed over getting all the proportions of everything correct at every step. He measured out everything by weight, and had to covert even the liquids from liters to grams. I served as his calculation assistant, and when he asked me to find out how many grams in a deciliter, I knew we were in uncharted territory.

I remember feeling so lost when the metric system was introduced when I was in elementary school. As I helped Husband with his deciliters, I thought of that and how ridiculously logical the metric system is. Why is this so hard for my American brain to comprehend?

The bread turned out quite well. We froze half and plan to send it to the only two Danes we know for their honest opinion.

What are your experiences with the metric system? Why is it hard for the American mind to grasp? What is your favorite bread to bake? Whose opinion do you value?

By Any Other Name

Tofurkey calls it a sausage.  I call it a brat.  But despite the fact that we’ve been eating them for years, when YA went to the store last week, she came home without them because I had written “brats” on the list and the product on the shelf said “sausage”.  Sigh. 

I grew up without sausage or brats.  Bacon and hot dogs were our porks of choice; I don’t know why.  I actually had never even heard of a brat until I was married and moved to Milwaukee.  By that time I was a vegetarian so never delved too deeply but has always seemed to me that a brat is just a fat hot dog.  Go ahead… pile on. 

Tofurkey’s Italian sausage is a brat to me, because if it were sausage, in my world it would be smaller and something I might have for breakfast.  But according to YA she didn’t put it in the basket because it didn’t say brat.  I won’t say we actually argued about this, but it was the first time in a long while that I’ve gotten to roll MY eyes.

Is a hot dog in a bun a sandwich?

Sold Out!

One of the types of programs that I have are called Warehouse Runs.  Winners come here to Minneapolis and run through our extensive merchandise warehouse.  There is a lot of energy around these programs and I love the participants who are all very excited and appreciative.

I always like to get donuts for the warehouse crew the morning of a run.  Having their work schedule and plans disrupted by all the festivities can’t be fun for the warehouse workers so I like to reward them a little bit for their hard work. Yesterday morning was the first in two years that I’ve been down to the donut bakery I like in Bloomington; it’s an old-fashioned kind of shop with all the old favorites and nothing pretentious.  After I picked up the donut order and was leaving the little shop, I noticed that the back of the “Open” sign didn’t say “Closed” – it now says “Sold Out – See You Tomorrow!”

It was a nice change to see that a little local business is not only surviving but apparently thriving.  It must be quite satisfying to be selling out so often that they can rely on a sold out sign.  I’m having to find a new lunch caterer for my warehouse programs since the previous caterer (who was excellent) wasn’t able to hold on through pandemic.  Along with too many others.  So while I was happy to be supporting them again and that they are doing well, it was tinged with a little sadness for the other businesses that have suffered.

You can have your favorite donut or pastry this morning.  No cost, no travel and no calories.  What will you have?

Where No Ketchup Has Gone Before

“First came the billionaires, then the movie stars — now ketchup is making its mark on the space race.”  (CNN November 8, 2021)

At first glance, this seemed like a silly story – Heinz had made “Marz Edition” of their ketchup using tomatoes that were produced in a controlled environment similar to what plants could expect if they were growing up on the Red Planet.

But turns out this was a serious experiment by 14 astrobiologists as part of long-term food harvesting  strategy for NASA.  I guess astronauts and Mars pioneers need a little more than freeze-dried ice cream (which is awful, by the way) to get by.

The ketchup will not be available to the public but there will be a big taste test tomorrow – if you are Twittered or Instagramed, you can watch it at 10 a.m. ET.  For the rest of us, we’ll just have to dream.

If you have a couple of Martian acres, what would you want to grow (and would you want to garden in person or from a distance)? 

Waiting for…..

My annual wine advent calendar adventure was Wednesday morning.  The experience was very similar to last year although I was #4 in line this year – one spot up from last year!  All of us in the first ten were in festive moods, there were multiple conversations about the advent calendars, where we were all from and there was also shared chocolate!

I had only shared with one co-worker what I was up to on my day off but she clearly blabbed because yesterday, when I was in the office, quite a few people asked me about my adventure and wanted to see pictures.  However curious they all were, everybody shook their heads and made comments on the unbelievable-ness/silliness of my endeavor.  There was one lone gal who said it sounded fun and maybe she could join me next year.  All others think I’m nuts.

Clearly there are plenty of folks who don’t think it’s too silly to sit out for 3 hours to get a wine advent calendar (the above photo was taken at 8:20 a.m.) but my co-workers aren’t among them. 

Any looney tune adventures for you lately? 

Hello – Goodbye

I had a hard decision last week.

Even though the last thing I really need in my life is another dessert cookbook, I could not resist Frosted by Bernice Beren.  It presents some more complicated techniques than the usual sweets cookbook but in a way that made it seem like I could take them on. 

But you know my rule.  The cookbook shelves are full – if a new cookbook comes in, something has to go.  This has been easier in the past but it took me a few days to finally choose.  I have a handful of cookbooks that I have never used (not even once) but because they are cookbooks from my travels, they have always been protected by the “something has to go” rule.  For many years I would pick up a cookbook while on trips but most of them have just sat on the shelf for all these years as a testament to where I’ve been.  The Hawaii cookbook is a case in point.  It wasn’t very expensive and had a pretty little cover, but I’ve never made one darn thing out of it.  Hawaiian food isn’t one of my favorites and this particular little cookbook is mostly meat and fish recipes. 

When selecting a “to-go” cookbook in the past I’ve always felt like I shouldn’t oust a travel cookbook.  Having them felt like a statement.  But last week when trying to decide I realized that nobody stands back there in the breakfast room reading through all these titles.  I’m not making a statement to anybody but myself.  And I certainly don’t need an unused cookbook to do that.  Even if I don’t remember where I’ve been, I actually have a world map (in the very same room) with push pins of all the places I’ve visited around the globe!  (This is not the first time I’ve had a revelation about keeping books around for the statement I think they make, but the first time I’ve applied it to my cookbook collection)

So the Hawaii cookbook is going to a new home in my friend’s Little Library.  I expect some of the other travel cookbooks will also make an exit one of these days, although Scandinavian Cooking (from my Baltic cruise) and The Africa Café (from my first trip to Capetown) will stay, since I have used them repeatedly!

Anything you’re hanging onto because of a statement it makes?

The Quiet Time

Husband and I were struck by how quiet it was as we travelled to South Dakota on Saturday. It is a remote area, so there never is much traffic, but it seemed as though there was much less than normal. We saw herds of cattle and sheep, a few mule deer, and some eagles, but people were absent. Wheat had been harvested, and hay was put up. There were a few fields of unharvested sunflowers. There wasn’t much activity at any of the farmsteads that were close enough to the road for us to see. It was as though everyone was inside taking it easy.

Husband commented that the weeks between the middle of October until Thanksgiving in November is his favorite time of year. Everything seems to slow down. There isn’t much snow, the garden is done, and we have time to sit and breathe after a busy summer and fall. Yesterday I was able to take stock of my Christmas baking supplies (I needed glacéed citron, orange peel, lemon peel, and cherries, as well as sliced almonds for Stollen). As a child, I suppose that December was my favorite month because of Christmas, but now I appreciate a time that I can stay home and be a little more still. We have decided to not put up a Christmas tree this year, as we will not have any company and are spending Christmas in South Dakota with our son and his family. That will make for a more peaceful December.

What are your favorite times of year? Got any holiday plans in the works?

Cyber-ween

I love Halloween.  Admittedly I love lots of holidays and special occasions.  (I sent cards to a few people on National Eat a Peach Day this year.) 

We used to decorate a lot more but the current terrorist tabby and devil dog make indoor décor a little difficult.  For many years YA and had ghosts playing ring-a-round the rosy out front and some years we’ve had spider webs adorning the front evergreen.  I always do a cornstalk and usually a few days before Halloween, I get pumpkins (if I get them sooner, the squirrels just eat them). 

Then on the night of Halloween I put out my luminaries.  I made these when YA was little (and I couldn’t afford to buy décor).  Mandarin orange tin cans painted orange and then stamped with pumpkins and black cats and eerie clouds – then I punched holes in them with a hammer and nail.  (I filled them with water and frozen them first – made it much easier to punch the holes.)

I love seeing trick-or-treaters and when YA was little, we used to have quite a number.  As the years went by, it’s gotten less and less.  From what I’ve read, this is common everywhere, not just my street.  Of course, pandemic threw a monkey wrench into trick-or-treating.  Last year I put candies into little bags with orange ribbon 3 weeks before Halloween, wore a mask and held the bowl out as far as I could.  I only have to do this three times; only four trick-or-treaters last year.  It was very sad.

When I saw the “Candy Map” app on a Nextdoor thread, I asked YA about it.  You put your address in indicating you’ll be open for business on Halloween night so all the little zombies and princesses can find you.  I don’t know if it will bring more costumes to the door but we decided to give it a try.  I went ahead and filled little bags again this year – I did twelve.  I’d love it if I have to quickly fill more bags but even if I give out twelve, it will be three times more than last year.

Do you pass out treats on Halloween?  What kind?

Losing It

We had three inches of rain in the past week, and Husband decided he could safely fire up his smoker/grill to smoke a couple of pork butts we had in the freezer. There has been a burn ban all summer due to extraordinary drought, so this was the first time since May he has been able to grill outside.

The butts smoked beautifully all day in pecan and hickory chips, and by dark they were done. Husband used a very large carving fork to remove them from the smoker. He brought the butts inside the kitchen. The fork disappeared somewhere between the grill area outside and the house. We have searched high and low in the garage, the smoker/grill, the garbage, and the shrubs surrounding the grill area, to no avail. Husband, who is part Scots and believes in ghosts, thinks there was Divine intervention and this was a joke played on us by the supernatural.

I reported earlier this year on the Trail that I thought I saw my late father’s ghost in the hallway one night. He loved playing jokes on people, and I could see him hiding the carving fork somewhere ridiculous for us to find later. I am pretty sure the fork will turn up one of these days and we will say “Oh yes, I forgot I went here after the pork was inside!” Until then I will scold my dad and tell him to reveal where the carving fork is.

What have you lost? Which of your ancestors would love to play a joke on you? What do you think they would do?

Canola Conundrum

Husband and I are currently in transit, heading to Brookings to see our son and family. We decided to split the 500 mile trip, and spent last night in Fargo.

We ate out last night after we arrived in town, and went to a favorite Thai restaurant. Everyone was well distanced, and we weren’t that worried about Covid. Our main worry was the type of oil they used to cook with.

We ate restaurant food for the first time in 18 months when we traveled to Denver in September. We hadn’t even ordered take out. We just cooked at home. In Denver we ate in really nice restaurants as well as at a wedding reception and at relative’s homes. The relatives mainly ordered pizza and take out foods for the group. All the foods we ate tasted good, but none of it agreed with us, and we decided the culprit was canola oil.

Canola oil is very hard to digest. It once was used as a machinery lubricant. At home, we cook with olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and an olive oil-sunflower blend imported from Spain. We stopped using canola oil a couple of years ago, and we can tell right away now when we eat food that has canola in it. We really notice the difference in fried foods and salad dressings. It seems like everyone uses canola these days. Road food will never be the same for us, I am afraid.

What is your favorite road food? What foods do to you have to be careful to avoid? What oils do you like to cook with?