Category Archives: holidays

Go Fourth!

With 4th of July events cancelled all over the country and the current political unrest and unhappiness, it seems hard to celebrate Independence Day with enthusiasm.

For many years, Child and I took part in two parades every 4th – the Tangletown Parade and the Richfield Parade.  The Tangletown is a homegrown parade in which kids dress up their bikes and dogs sport their best red, white and blue bandannas in order to follow a firetruck through the neighborhood, followed by a big party at Fuller Park with games, music, face painting and a big picnic.  The last few years I’ve gone up to the high school parking lot where the parade starts to see everybody in their finery and then I head home.  Then later, YA and I go down to Richfield to watch their more traditional, candy-throwing parade.  I got hooked on this parade when YA was in gymnastics and her team was part of the parade line-up.

No parades this year.  Richfield unilaterally cancelled all the 4th of July stuff and Tangletown cancelled the parade and party, but is doing a decoration contest and neighborhood scavenger hunt.  I hadn’t though about decorating (besides putting out all my flags) because I didn’t really want to put any money into it but then something I saw yesterday changed my mind.  In walking Guinevere, we found a house up on the water tower hill that had outdone themselves with their chalk decorations.  Their entire driveway was filled with a huge chalked American flag and then the sidewalk all long their property was covered in fireworks.  Such a low-cost and low-tech way to decorate – I think I’ll get my chalks out in the morning (before it gets too hot).  And I might even have enough Independence Day spirit left over to do the scavenger hunt with Guinevere on our morning walk!

How have you traditionally celebrated the 4th?  What’s different this year?

The Grill Master

Husband loves to grill. Until last Thursday he had three grills. One is a classic Weber. One is a Kamado ceramic grill. The third was a large Charbroil that he has had for about 30 years. He discovered last week that the bottom was rusting out, and that it needed to be replaced.  All the grills are fueled with wood or charcoal.  He dislikes gas grills, and I would be afraid for him using such volatile fuel. He uses each grill for different grilling purposes.  I don’t even try to understand.

The Charbroil was too heavy for us to get in the back of his pickup to take to the landfill, so he got a local moving company to take it away.  It was a sad day.  He has an emotional attachment to his grills. He had a new grill in mind, and in about 11 weeks, a fancy, schmancy, Yoder Cheyenne griller/smoker will arrive from Kansas City.  It will arrive all assembled. It looks like a train engine, weighs 315 pounds, and has a separate compartment on one end for the fuel. It has a chimney.  He got all the bells and whistles on it.  Happy Father’s Day!

I like grilled food, and he is expanding his repertoire to make his grills do smoking and tandoori cooking.  We aren’t big picnic people and we don’t eat outside much but sometimes food just tastes better out of doors.

What do you like to take on a picnic?  What do you like to grill?  Got any good barbecue recipes or stories?

Memorial Day Birthday

Photo credit: Justin Casey

My sister is grumpy today. 

For the first twelve years of her life, her birthday was a holiday.  No school or parents working on her day.  Her day.  Then in 1971, Memorial Day became one of the “Monday holidays” which means that her birthday only lands on a holiday every seven or eight years.  This year, when it falls almost a full week before her birthday, is one that she particularly dislikes.  Even after five decades, she still takes this personally.

It never bothered me as a kid that she had her birthday on a holiday.  My folks didn’t actually make a bigger deal about it because of the holiday and I still got to go to the pool (in Missouri, the public pools

usually opened on Memorial Day).  I still got the dinner of my choice and a birthday cake with lots of frosting.  All good, even with no holiday in sight.

My birthday is in August.  There are only two months during the year that don’t have big, recognized holidays in them.  August is one of them.  June is the other, but I always thought June redeemed itself by having the end of school.  And, of course, since I moved to Minnesota, I have always counted the State Fair as a holiday, thereby making August one of the best holiday months.

Even though we won’t be having the Great Minnesota Get Together this year, I don’t hold August responsible for that.  But my sister probably would.

If you could move your birthday to a holiday, which holiday would you choose?  And why?

By the Dozen

YA and I both like eggs, although it still takes us a couple of weeks to go through a dozen (unless I’m baking).  After Easter we had a LOT of eggs – all the hardboiled eggs that I felt the need to dye and then bonus eggs from Farmer Ben.  In discussing this bounty, YA said “why don’t you make that frittata”.  I’ve made a veggie frittata a couple of times recently for book club, but didn’t realize she was paying attention.  I wanted to make a richer variety, so dug out a recipe I found in a magazine last year and “fixed it up” a little.  So here is my version of a Potato Cheese Frittata:

4-5 potatoes (I used Yukons)
1 large onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
12 Farmer Ben eggs
1 cup whipping cream
12 oz manchego cheese
(unless you’re really cheap like I am and can’t bring yourself to                spend $16  on a wedge of cheese… then you can use half                            manchego and half cheddar that you already have in the fridge)
1 jar of roasted red peppers (I used a 15 oz jar) – or you could roast            the peppers yourself if desired
Salt & pepper to taste

  1. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes then boil for 3-4 minutes until soft.
  2. Thinly slice onions and sauté in oil and butter until brown. Use an oven-capable pan (I used my cast-iron skillet)
  3. Add potatoes to onions and sauté another 2-3 minutes
  4. Whisk together eggs, half the cheese, cream, peppers, salt and pepper
  5. Slowly pour egg mixture into the potatoes and stir as the eggs begin to scramble
  6. Stop to swear like a sailor and run your thumb under cold water when you touch the burner. This step is optional.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes in 350° F oven until not jiggly.
  8. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese and broil for 2-3 minutes until bubbly and golden.
  9. Cool a bit before you eat unless you want to burn your tongue (not saying why I thought I should mention this!)
  10. Explain to your kid why the dish is so yellow because she’s never had farm fresh eggs in her life.

What’s your go-to recipe for a plentitude of eggs?

The Easter Parade

Daughter phoned this week to ask, or rather, to demand, that we send an Easter basket to her. She said she thought she deserved one because she had been stuck in her apartment for a month and hadn’t seen any of her friends, and, well, could we send milk chocolate and some sour things, please?  I said that we would of course send her an Easter parcel, but she wouldn’t get it until the middle of next week.

We also sent a parcel to our grandson containing old Curious George books we had here, and The Golden Egg Book, which is a sweet story  by Margaret Wise Brown about a bunny who finds a mysterious egg and who ends up with a duckling for a best friend.  Son and DIL thought our grandson would appreciate pretzel fish rather than  candy, so he got those, too, as well a teddy bear. He will be two at the end of the month.

This is the first Easter in my memory that we haven’t been doing music in church. I usually complain how exhausting all that performing is,  but I hope we never have another Easter like this one, and I would welcome that sort of stress right now.

What are some of your Easter memories?

Let’s Celebrate

Photo credit:  Jennifer Chen

A couple of month ago I had a doughnut ice cream sandwich for breakfast.  It was PJ’s fault – she had announced the day before that it was going to be National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.  It was a sweet treat that was a bit too sweet even for me and has not been repeated.

Of course the very next day was Groundhog’s Day and just a couple weeks later, I saw some silly bit on the internet that February 17 was Random Acts of Kindness Day.  I decided to do some checking and

    • National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day (first Saturday in February)
    • Seuss Day (also called National Read Across America Day) – March 2
    • Pi Day – March 14
    • Star Wars Day – May 4
    • National Take Your Dog to Work Day – June 22
    • National Hammock Day – July 22
    • National Black Dog Day – October 1
    • Bathtub Party Day – December 5

There is actually a National Day calendar online and from a quick glance, there is something to celebrate every single day of the year, even February 29.  But there are plenty of things left to put on the calendar.  I looked and didn’t see Dust Bunny Appreciation Day nor did I see a National Day of Reading in Bed.  Sorely needed.

Any other days we need to celebrate?

3.14159265…..

I know you’re expecting to see details about Pi Day next week, but this year I’m going to change it up and write about Pi Day organization.  Here’s what it takes:

Already Done

  • Send out Evites. If you’re local, you got an evite, although I can’t guarantee they didn’t go to Spam.
  • Decide on pies. Mark the recipes with post-it notes.  11 this year – I can’t help myself
  • Make list of ingredients and then shop for those ingredients
  • Make little pie placecards and nametags
  • Make sure you have enough plates, napkins, forks
  • Check on red/white wine supply

Up Next

  • Go through recipes and sort out which are baked and which are non-baked
  • Figure out how many pie shells need pre-baking
  • Do any of those pre-baked ones need any chocolate coating or other prep?
  • Figure out what oven temperature is needed for the baked pies
  • Figure out what can be chopped/ground before Saturday
  • Make an actual schedule of the order of baking, set up by oven temperature needed

Friday night

  • Make the oatmeal cookies that become the crust for the Crack Pie
  • Make Crack Pie crust
  • Boil the condensed milk to make dulce de leche
  • Do any pre-baking of crusts and coat the chocolate ones
  • Do any nut chopping/grinding that needs doing

Saturday

  • Get up early and get started!!

Hopefully there will be time in here for a shower before everybody arrives!  Oh and here’s what’s on the menu:  Crack, Banoffee, Blueberry,  Dutch Apple, Red Velvet Whoopie, Reese’s, Pecan Dream, Shaker Lemon, Vanilla Crumb, Skillet Berry Cobbler and Pear Croustade.

Have I made you hungry or just tired?

Easter Candy Impulse

Oh no! I stopped by the grocery store last night to pick up something quick and was confronted by a HUGE display of Cadbury chocolate eggs.  Not just any run-of-the-mill Easter candy, but my nemesis, the Cadbury egg.  I don’t know why I like these, but I really do.

How do I keep myself from temptation for the next six weeks?

Leaping Ahead

Happy Leap Day!  My cousin Duane was born on Leap Day. He got his picture in the Pipestone, MN newspaper when he was 4 because he finally had an actual birthday  to celebrate.

Starting in Ireland  centuries ago,  then spreading across Europe,  Leap Day was the day every four years when women could propose to men. In Scotland, the woman had to wear a red skirt when she proposed. There were penalties if the men refused. In some places, the man had to purchase twelve pairs of gloves for the woman. In Finland, he had to give her enough cloth to make a skirt. Currently  in France, La Bougie du Sapeur, a satirical magazine, only publishes on Leap Day.

I was fascinated to read that during 1930 and 1931, the Soviet  government added February 30th to the calendar and made all the other months have 30 days so that all the weeks of the year could have 5 days.  I don’t know why they dropped the plan.

How would like to see Leap Day celebrated? How would you change the calendar if you could?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Well, today is Valentine’s Day.  Husband is on the Rez and will return tonight. We have never really celebrated this day much, as I will get flowers and chocolates for myself anytime I want them, and I don’t expect my stressed and overworked spouse to get them for me. He says he always feels spoiled and catered to by me, so he has no expectations for me today, either.

When I think of this day, I think of Al Capone, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and a guy named A. Claire Dispenet  (Ace),  the  Francophone owner of the original Magnolia Bar and Steak House in Magnolia, MN.  Magnolia is about 6 miles east of Luverne.  My dad grew up there.  Claire had a rather shady history as a bootlegger in the 1920’s.  My dad worked for Claire as a bartender in the 1950’s before he built his gas station and coffee shop. During Prohibition, Claire drove a beer truck on Minnesota’s North Shore for the Capone organization. His beer truck was stolen, and Claire had to phone Chicago to relate the news. He was told to not worry about it, and that they knew who the guys were who stole the truck, and that “We will take care of them”.  Claire knew what that meant, and decided then and there and seek employment elsewhere. He didn’t want to be involved in a murder.  He ended up serving time in Ft. Leavenworth Prison for bootlegging sometime after that, though.  My dad really liked him. Ace, as he was affectionately called, was a character. His wife was a very devout Catholic and made sure he was buried as close as possible to the grave of the former priest in the Luverne Catholic  Cemetery. Dad said she hoped Ace could grab onto the Priest’s robes and sneak into heaven behind him.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day now. What are your memories of this day from elementary school?