Friday, August 30, 2013


If you're a foodie, you will know all about Farmers' Markets.  The joy in visiting a market filled with fresh veggies is indescribable; and that is particularly true for Minnesotans since we have such a short growing season.

The St. Paul Farmers' Market, mandated in 1853 (five years before Minnesota became a state), is one of the oldest farmers' markets in the country.   What sets our market apart is its strict requirement that all food sold must be locally produced.   I think we always knew we had a great Farmers' Market but now Zagat, the renowned national survey company owned by Google, has named the St. Paul Farmers' Market as one of eight "must visit" markets in the U.S..  Included in that list are Pike's Place Market in Seattle, Haymarket in Boston, and Union Square Greenmarket in New York City.

In her book, Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets, Deborah Madison features our market on pages 82 and 83.  She mentions Hmong vendors who make up about one-third of the market and who have brought to this state a wide selection of interesting and flavorful new produce.  She also noted our selection of regional foods, among them, crab apples, wild rice, ground-cherries, maple syrup and sweet corn.

So, tomorrow, get up early and head to your farmers' market.  If you live near downtown St. Paul, visit the market at 290 E. 5th St..  Hours are 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m..   Here is some of what you will find:

 What a wonderful selection of heirloom tomatoes!

 Peppers with a salsa recipe.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


A nice breakfast is always a treat for me but making anything too time consuming just isn't realistic at that hour.  This recipe for Pesto Souffle is so easy that it only takes about a half hour from start to finish, including baking time.  Most of the ingredients can be substituted for what you have on hand, and to suit your taste.  I added chopped Videlia onion to boost the flavor.

Sunday morning, coffee, the newspaper and Pesto Souffle.  Doesn't get much better than this!

*  1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
*  4 large eggs, beaten
*  1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*  1-1/2 tablespoon Pesto [You can substitute dried herbs but reduce quantity to about 1/2 tablespoon.]
*  1/4 cup cream
*  Salt & Pepper to taste
Garnish:  Fresh basil and diced tomato
Well grease/butter 4 large ramekins and divide cheese among them.  Whisk together eggs, mustard, pesto, cream, salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over the cheese in the ramekins.  Bake in preheated 375ยบ F. oven for 18-20 minutes.  Garnish and serve.

In baking, the souffle will puff up, nearly double in size.  Unfortunately, it falls very quickly.  You will need to rush it to the table for maximum presentation!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


We had a few neighbors over the other night for dinner and I thought it would be fun to offer sangria in addition to the ubiquitous wine.  I only made one batch (10 servings) since I assumed that there would not be many takers.  Instead, that was the first thing to go, and I never got a taste.  I know, I should ALWAYS taste things before I serve them to others.  Since the sangria got favorable reviews, I felt the need to make a new batch to try out on my own.  That was on my to-do list today; and Kevin and I enjoyed the fruits (joke) of my labor this evening during a little "happy hour."  Here is the recipe.

RED SUNSET SANGRIA.*    Makes 10 (1/2 cup) servings.
*  3 cups dry red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon but you can use whatever red wine you would most enjoy.)
*  4 to 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
*  3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
*  3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice (Next time I will use less.)
*  1 lemon, thinly sliced
*  1 orange, thinly sliced
*  1/4 cup brandy
*  6 ounces club soda
In a large pitcher, combine wine, sugar, fruit juice, fruit slices and brandy.  Chill several hours, stirring occasionally.  Add club soda just before serving.

Here is the set up.

I used very small lemons.  Next time I'll add orange juice and orange zest which is more to my liking.  I will also probably use a different wine.  Perhaps a Spanish rioja.  In my opinion, the cabernet savignon was too dry and not "fruity" enough.

Be sure to remove the seeds from the fruit slices.

Here is our happy hour.   The pecans were toasted with herbes de Provence; the Spanish cheese was marinated in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and black peppers.  I learned that to marinate cheese one should use a relatively soft cheese as it will absorb flavors more readily.  For the dinner party, I took a peach/nectarine wedge, added a basil leaf, and wrapped the wedge in proscuitto.  Next time, I will prepare the peach appetizer early in the day in order for the flavors to meld.

A final shot of a little flower arrangement on our screen porch.
*  Recipe Source:  Portland's Palate, A Collection of Recipes from the City of Roses by the Junior League of Portland, Oregon.  As an aside, this is a very good book.  I've made a number of the recipes and they have all been very good.

Monday, August 12, 2013


On August 8 I celebrated my fifth year of retirement.  At the time of my actual retirement there was no celebration, despite the fact that I truly wanted to celebrate.  It simply didn't happen.  You know how time flies and, all of a sudden, five years have passed!  I really wanted to do something to commemorate one of the happiest days of my life.  This may not sound too exciting... but I decided to do anything at all that I wanted to do, spare no expense, for the entire day.

First stop was coffee and a scone at a local coffee shop.  This may be routine for many other people, but it isn't for me; and I thoroughly enjoyed quietly reading the paper and enjoying my little breakfast.

Next stop, a little shopping in an area of town that I rarely get to.  I was pleased with my find of two new tops.

By now it was nearing lunch time and my plan was to stop at Lunds in Edina and pick up food for my "picnic" at Arneson Acres Park.  I brought along the book I'm reading, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford, and read in the park while I had my picnic of chicken salad and a croissant.  Here are a few photos from Arneson Acres.

Two views from my picnic table.

Good timing for me... the daylilies (my FAVORITE flower) were in full bloom!


After lunch I drove to Noerenberg Gardens in Wayzata.   Because of the long drive, I seldom make it out to see these gardens, and it is always special when I do.  They are calming, inspiring, glorious.

I had such a wonderful anniversary celebration... I think I'll celebrate again next year!!