Tag Archives: Featured

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?

Where in the World are VS and YA?

YA and I are on what we are calling my retirement trip.  This travel is made possible by my old company (her current company) using “award credits” that we’ve been amassing the last year and a half.  Wonder where we are?

  1. You can legally mail a coconut from here.
  2. The largest dormant volcano in the world is here.
  3. There is vog here but no smog.
  4. There are no squirrels, hamsters or gerbils here.
  5. All forms of gambling are illegal here.
  6. The tallest mountain in the world is also here.

Queens of Heart

On Thanksgiving morning, while enjoying my coffee and watching the parades, I discovered that there is a popular musical comedy on Broadway right now called Six – The Musical.  It’s about the six wives of Henry VIII.  Really?  Of his six wives, only one truly survived (Anne of Cleves) and came out of her marriage debacle in relatively good shape.  So now we have a musical about a wife cast aside, two wives beheaded, one wife dead from childbirth complications and his last wife, while surviving, also dead in childbirth after marrying again to a man whom history suggests only wanted her because she was the Queen Dowager.  Somehow all this death and destruction doesn’t seem like the stuff of comedic song and dance.  (Of course who would have thought the plight of five women accused of murder in Chicago would make for a compelling musical?)

If you look up “historical fiction” you’ll find definitions that all seem to include any story that takes place in the past but that’s just silly – unless it’s sci fi, set in the future, wouldn’t every book written be historical fiction after about a week in print?  I’ve always thought of “HF” was any re-working of a historical subject/figure.  Like Hillary Mantel’s book on Robespierre and Danton during the French Revolution (and all her Wolf Hall books as well).  Or King at the Edge of the World by Arthur Phillips.  Or The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory. And I haven’t read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s mostly fiction and very little historical, since even Egyptologists admit to knowing extremely little about the ancient queen.

As these books sell well, I worry that future generations will think of the plots and characters as more historical than they really are.  Of course in looking up Six online, it looks like the plot doesn’t even attempt to portray history, so hopefully no one will come away thinking that wearing a choker to represent that you got beheaded is a meaningful fashion statement.

When was the War of 1812?

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?

That’s a Wrap!

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Wrapped up another growing season on the farm.

Got my corn harvested last weekend. Best yields I’ve ever had plus a decent price so that’s all nice. Inputs costs were exceptionally high, which cuts into the profits, but all in all, it ended up being a good year. Was it the weather? (It was a later spring than we like) Was it the lime applied last fall? Was it the co-op applying custom rates of fertilizer? Was it the fungicide applied to the soybeans? Was it some of everything??

They finished the corn harvest on Saturday, I finished chisel plowing on Sunday, and Tuesday, the co-op spread lime on the fields we didn’t do last year.  I plow at about 6.5 MPH. I was doing about an acre every 15 minutes. Something I think about while I’m out there, it works up pretty rough. And that’s intentional because we want it to hold snow and prevent wind erosion. So driving across the field is really rough in the tractors. 50 years ago, when doing traditional plowing, it turned over all the residue, and if the conditions were good, left the field fairly smooth. And with the smaller tractors and smaller tires, that wasn’t a problem. It was probably in the mid 1980’s that we started doing conservation tillage, meaning we quit using the old traditional ‘moldboard’ plow and started using a chisel plow. One of the rules of the chisel plow is that you need to keep your speed up when plowing because the shovel is only 3” wide, and you want it to physically throw the dirt as it moves through the soil. The shovel is twisted to one side or the other, so my machine has 11 shovels; 5 throw dirt left, and 6 throw the dirt right. The whole thing is about 15 feet wide. Not burying all the residue also meant the machine has to be built to allow more trash to pass through it without plugging up in the shanks of the shovels.

The first chisel plow we got only had 7 shovels. And the tractor was not front wheel assist, meaning it had small tires on the front, and boy, it was really rough going across the worked ground. My tractor now, with MFWD (Mechanical Front Wheel Drive) and the larger front tires, makes it slightly less rough.

Course I had my tractor buddy Bailey with me the whole time.

If it got too bumpy she’d sit up and lean against my leg and I’d rub her head, then she’d lay back down again. It was tough going with some frost in the ground. Some places were frozen more than others; maybe different soil types caused that? There was a few minutes I was working in a snow squall. Weird.

My brother made the comment, “Thank goodness for heated cabs.” I agreed, and said I had thought about that too. I have spent time planting or doing fieldwork wearing a coat and gloves on open tractors. I also said I would have had to quit sooner because the lights weren’t so good back then.

With my bad foot, I generally get a new pair of shoes every fall because I’ve worn one of them sideways. After getting the soybean check is generally when I go shoe shopping. I only want steel or composite toe shoes. I move a lot of heavy stuff and I got enough problems without smashing a toe as well. And safety toe shoes are expensive to begin with.  With the brace I wear on my right foot, I take out the insert and need a size 11 for that foot. I have a custom insert for the left foot, which is 9.5, but since I have size 11, I add my custom one on top of the original and I get along OK. Yet It seems silly to pay so much money for shoes and then I’m taking out some of the main thing. And they have to be built right to fit the brace in the first place. This year I’m trying a pair of Keen boots. $170 at Fleet Farm. Gosh. I’ve been wearing a pair of Sketchers that have been good. These are the shoes I wear every day. I’ve also got a pair of Red Wing work boots I wear when farming. I think I can get another year out of them.

There are a few places that deal in mismatched shoe sizes for amputee’s or other issues with the feet. One place says, “Find your ‘sole mate’.” I’ve never tried them, but I think it’s a wonderful idea.

ANYTHING MISMATCHED ABOUT YOU?

WHAT HAVE YOU GOT THAT YOU COULD EXCHANGE WITH SOMEONE?  

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?

A Brand New Start

It was a year ago that we lost our Steve.  I’m re-running one of his posts (from February 2020) for the day.  You can answer his intial question or share a Steve memory!

Today’s post comes from Steve Grooms.

I have been marveling at what my daughter accomplished this past year. Last winter she, her family and I were living in Port Huron, Michigan. She couldn’t find a job, for the local economy is depressed. My son-in-law had a job he detested, with no possibility of finding a better job. I lived in a senior citizen complex near their rental home, staying alone in my room unless my daughter was visiting me. Nobody was very happy.

It became painfully clear that my daughter and s-i-l had to move and set up new lives. Since I cast my lot with my daughter’s family when I sold my home in 2014, I would have to move too. The experiment of living in Michigan was mostly a botch.

Because my daughter was not working, she was the obvious person to do the research and planning necessary to make the move possible. But, oh my, what a fiendishly complicated task that would be.

Breaking this challenge down into smaller pieces, my daughter needed to:

  • Pick a new town and neighborhood to live in where all four of us (three adults, a kid and a large old dog) might be happy.
  • Find a new apartment or rental home where my daughter’s family could live, doing this research while living in Michigan, unable to look at rental properties in person. This would be especially difficult due to the shortage of affordable housing.
  • Find a senior living community for me. It had to be near her home near her new job . . . wherever they might be. Once again, my daughter had no way to visit the various facilities under consideration.
  • Find movers who could relocate two households 800 miles without charging much.
  • Devise a way to get three automobiles from Michigan to Minnesota, a feat complicated by the fact we had only two drivers.
  • Find a job for herself (a job near her new home and my new apartment, wherever they would turn out to be). This decision, too, had to be done without the benefit of a visit.
  • Find a job for her husband (or at least identify a process which he could follow to find one).
  • Find a great new school for her fourth-grade son.
  • Do all the physical work of boxing up two households for the move.
  • Clean her rental home and my apartment.
  • Accomplish all of this and make the actual move in less than three months.

I wonder if that list adequately reflects how complicated this was. The sixth item alone is daunting. Everything on the list was inextricably connected to all the other issues, which made the overall project extremely tricky. Each choice depended on several other decisions, and there seemed to be no obvious place to start.

My daughter was amused by how her research turned out. The Minnesota metro region emerged as the clear favorite for many reasons but especially its strong economy. St. Paul seemed the most attractive city in Minnesota. The most desirable place to live in St. Paul, her research said, turned out to be Highland Park. So my daughter’s search for the ideal place to move led her to exactly the neighborhood where she had grown up.

We made the move last June. I believe this is the most difficult my daughter has ever faced. As of the middle of January, 2020, every single item on the list has been met successfully. My daughter now lives in an apartment a few blocks from her childhood home (although serious house-hunting begins this spring). And everybody, even the old dog, is delighted to be here.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done? Have you ever discovered that you needed to make a brand new start?

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?

You’ve Got to be Kidding Me!

In the “always something new under the sun” category – I came downstairs last week to find Nimue’s two ceramic bowls replaced with these two plates. 

YA purchased them because apparently kitties can get “whisker fatigue” if they eat from regular bowls. I’m not even going to look up whisker fatigue; if I do find it legitimized online, it will just make me crazy.

Any new “news” in your world lately?

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?