Tag Archive | Food

No Replacement for Spam

Spam Classic Canned Meat

About a year ago is when the shelves at the grocery store looked unattended, when actually there were shortages. There were either shortages of people being able to put items on the shelves, quickly enough, or shortages of people being able to process food and many other reasons. There were only a few times I had to substitute something with another item. It’s nice to see the shelves filling up at the store now.

Imagine my surprise this week, when I walked down the canned meat aisle and couldn’t find Spam. All the other shelves were pretty well attended, except for where the Spam usually sits. There were some cans of turkey Spam and Spam with Bacon, but that’s not the classic Spam we usually pick up about once or twice a year.

We checked another store – no Spam. When I went in search of Spam on the Internet, I learned there’s a shortage due to the pandemic. Demand is very high. Right when I was appreciating fuller shelves, Spam went missing. There is obviously no replacement for Spam. Thankfully, when we checked Target, we found three cans and we happily purchased one. My husband likes to make what he calls “Spams.” Here’s the recipe:

Spams
1-12 ounce can of classic Spam
1-8 ounce brick of cheddar cheese, mild (use about 3/4 of a brick)
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
1 dozen hamburger buns
Meat grinder

Cut the Spam, brick of cheese, and onion in quarters and alternately rotate through meat grinder into a large bowl. After the mixture is ground together, stir to mix, and add enough mayo until it sticks together well, but don’t overdo it. Spoon mixture to cover an open faced bun. Place open faced bun face side up under broiler and broil until cheese is melted. Make as many as you want. Store unused portion of Spams in the refrigerator. Use up leftovers within three days.

Lila loves the crumbs that fall to the floor, which happens during preparation. A little taste for dogs is okay, but I wouldn’t give Lila a bunch. That could lead to disastrous consequences.

My husband’s mom made these when her kids were younger and now my husband is carrying on the tradition. Some of our children do not care for Spams, but I find them to be just as delicious as Lila believes them to be! Do you have any favorite Spam recipes? If so, please share in the comments!

Meet Basil

Spinach Tomato Feta Crustless Quiche

Basil and I met in May.  There wasn’t any fresh cut basil at the grocery store – so I bought the next best thing – a basil plant.  At the time, I thought I don’t really like basil that much, but I bought it anyway.  Basil lived in our kitchen in a cute little yellow-tin, watering pitcher that is stamped with “You are My Sunshine.”  It was important that I find Basil to make a dish that I had earlier that month at a friend’s house.  Easy Chicken Manicotti is definitely easy, because there is no need to pre-cook the noodles or the chicken.  Basil garnished the dish to make it look lovely.  

When the weather turned summery, Basil went to live outside.  I watered and fertilized Basil often, but sometimes I forgot to snip the leaves.  Suddenly, Basil was blossoming flowers, and I knew it was time to eat more.  There were green beans and tomatoes on hand. I searched the internet and found a delicious recipe called Green Beans with Tomatoes and Basil, which is very flavorful.  I’ve made it several times, and there are rarely leftovers.

Soon the plant was overflowing again, and I realized I was beginning to like Basil more and more, especially when I smelled the fragrance, which is like no other.  I decided it was time to make pesto.  I found a pesto recipe that I used in the Pesto Penne with Chicken dish, which was also a big hit! 

Last week, packages of spinach and feta sat in the fridge waiting to be used.  I found another tasty recipe for Spinach Tomato Feta Crustless Quiche (pictured above and made by me).  The recipe indicates that it’s optional to garnish this dish with Basil, and I did.

With cooler temperatures making an appearance, I wonder if Basil will be okay living back in the kitchen.  Meeting Basil helped me to find a lot of scrumptious recipes.  You should give one or all of them a try.  If you do, let me know what you think. 🙂

Discovering Duluth – New London Cafe

When my husband and I recently went out for breakfast to the New London Cafe, I realized the last time we went to a sit-down, menu-in-your-hand, get-a-cup-of-coffee breakfast, was in March.  That’s when we were among the Crowds of Humanity in Sin City.  

Since we had never been to the New London Cafe, we had no idea how many tables were in the seating area before the pandemic.  The tables were spread out six feet apart or more, as per the order of Governor of the State of Minnesota.  Restaurants are required to operate at 50 percent capacity at this time.  When we entered, a lady asked us to be seated in the lower level.  There were only three tables in that room, but plenty more must have fit before.  My husband and I sat on the same side so we could look out the window.  We weren’t able to see Lake Superior, but a lot of greenery was across the street for us to admire.  The cozy atmosphere helped us feel at home.

We were quickly greeted by a young man, who was our waiter.  I imagined him to be a college student at one of the nearby colleges.  We all wore our masks, when we were talking to each other.  We ordered our beverages, and I ordered the Hawk Ridge Fritter French Toast Platter.  My mouth couldn’t help but water when I saw the two thick slices of cinnamon fritter toast.  I immediately drenched the French toast with the entire contents of the small container of maple syrup and dug into the eggs, which I ordered over easy.  The yellow yoke spilled out and met the toast and some of the syrup.  The edges of the toast were crispy.  I dunked the first bite of toast into the spilled yoke to soak it up.  The taste of the toast was a little shy of a cinnamon roll; not as sugary without the frosting.  The sausage tasted great and was just as I expected of a restaurant located in Duluth.

My husband ordered the eggs, bacon and toast.  The bacon was sliced thick, like Canadian bacon.  The toast came with strawberry rhubarb jelly.  I wished I would have got a taste of that, but I was too busy concentrating on the platter of food in front of me.  The portions were quite large, so I ended up sharing a bunch of my breakfast with my husband. 

Next time, I will order something to make sure I get a taste of the strawberry rhubarb jelly, which I believe was homemade. 🙂

I don’t think I’ve ever waited five months to go out to breakfast. Have you?

Thanks for the Love

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My husband and I planned on a big outing this weekend, because we were tired of eating at home. Isn’t everyone?! I suggested we order food from Pub 819. I had recently gone there and had their Yum Yum Bowl, which has marinated flank steak, kimchee, fried egg, yum yum sauce, green onions, and coconut rice. My cravings for it would not go away!

It was nice to get in the car and go for a drive. The neighborhood has been filled with people walking and getting fresh air. The roads were very quiet. When we got to the restaurant, we could easily find a parking spot right next to the front door. Usually the streets are lined with parked cars. Today, more people were on the sidewalks than there were cars on the road.

One car was in front of us. When they got their food, we pulled up to the spot where they had been, as we were following the directions on the sign by the front door. We called the restaurant to let them know we had arrived. A few minutes later, a young lady skipped out, holding a plastic bag tight in her hand.

“Two Yum Yum Bowls,” she said with a perky smile. Her blond hair was pulled tight and was gathered up into a ponytail that sat up high on the crown of her head.

“Yes, thank you,” I said, as I took the bag from her. I tried to mirror her perky smile. The smell of the Yum Yum Bowls drifted up into my face, even though all the contents were wrapped snug.

After we got home and opened the bag, I found a handwritten note, which said, “Thanks for the love.” We never got a note like that from a restaurant before. I knew that note would stick in my mind forever.

Kindness is the most tender and effective form of leaving a memory inside people’s hearts. ~Dodinsky

Long-Lost Cravings

sliced vegetables in white ceramic bowl

Photo by Silvia Trigo on Pexels.com

Our family room now houses a temporary eating area because we are in the process of getting our kitchen remodeled.  Squished in by our fireplace is our refrigerator and kitchen table.  The microwave and toaster are taking up space at the table with a lot of other things that used to have a special spot to stay, but now have nowhere to go.  Things like scissors and vitamins and such.  My husband bought a two-burner cooktop, but he ended up taking it back to the store because we never took it out of the box.  It seemed like too much work to use, since we have no running water on our main floor. Thankfully, the weather has been nice because a lot of grilling has been going on.  The microwave and grill have been meeting all our cooking needs, so far.

Not having a functioning kitchen has caused me to seriously miss cooking and baking. I haven’t made my favorite recipe of banana bread for years, but suddenly I have a craving for it that will not go away.  Another thing I miss is the usual spaghetti meal we have on our table about once a week.  Luckily we got to have that when we babysat. I’ve never been so thrilled to boil water as I was last weekend when we used our daughter and son-in-law’s kitchen.  I made that simple spaghetti meal, served with fun garlic bread, and a tossed salad.  Now thoughts are coming to me about how much I miss the taste of my mom’s tuna pasta salad.

My mom made tuna pasta salad for us for as long as I can remember. When our kids came along, I made the salad every Sunday, after we got home from church.  It’s one of those family recipes that is not written down anywhere (until now).  Somehow it morphed into my brain from watching my mom make it so many times. Adjustments needed to be made for some of my kids, who don’t like peas, which, ironically, I think is the best part! I like it when the peas hide inside the shell-shaped noodles.  When they fall into place that way, it looks like they were made for each other.  🙂

Here’s how I make it: I boil two to three cups of the small shell-shaped pasta in water, depending on how many hungry people there are to feed.  While that’s cooking, I drain one small can of albacore white tuna and combine it with two or three stalks of chopped celery, a couple of slices of chopped onions, Miracle Whip (with olive oil), a 16-oz. can of drained peas, and a splash of lemon juice.  Sometimes I add a little salt and pepper; other times, I leave it for others to add their own seasonings.  Mom didn’t use the “splash of lemon,” but I think it adds a little flavor.  I can’t tell you how much Miracle Whip I put in.  A person has to “eye ball it” until it gets to a certain consistency of deliciousness.

Until the kitchen is back where it belongs, I will keep my chin up and continue to create a list of things to make. Seems like the list is going to be kind of long because long-lost cravings keep popping up and the tile for the floor is on “back order.”  😦

Do you have a recipe that you had when you were a child that you still enjoy today?

No Crumbs Were Left Behind

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For Christmas, my husband surprised me with a gift of a weekend getaway for both of us at the Ann Bean Mansion in Stillwater. As the temperatures dropped, my vision of wandering around Stillwater to shop sunk like the rapidly decreasing temperatures. We knew it was going to be a hibernating sort of weekend, and we decided it would be a great time to hang out in a mansion instead of being cooped up at home.  Besides, it gave us a reason to be lazy and just relax, which is always nice.

Before we went to the mansion, we stopped at Pub 112 in downtown Stillwater for dinner.  To warm my bones, I had a Sunburnt Nutty Irishman which is made with Tullamore Dew, Frangelico, Bailey’s Irish Cream, River Moon Coffee and topped with whipped cream.  I also ordered the Guinness Beef Stew.  The beef was tender and accompanied by root vegetables, peas, mushrooms, fresh herbs and topped with baby red mashed potatoes.  The green stuff that adorned the plate tasted like kale.  When I asked the waitress what it was, she confirmed my suspicion and said it was deep-fried.  The crisp kale was different prepared that way, and I wondered if all the nutrients got fried away too.  As I savored each bite, hubby enjoyed his burger.  After we cleaned our plates, we were off to find the mansion which was just a short trip away.

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When we entered the place, it felt warm and cozy even though the entryway is quite large.  We were greeted by Jeremy, the innkeeper.  Jeremy and Erin, a husband and wife team, have been innkeepers since 2004.  Jeremy told us that the mansion was built in 1880, and he escorted us to the Hersey room.  Mr. Hersey was part owner of Hersey, Bean and Brown Lumber just when the town of Stillwater was getting settled.  To read more about the history of the mansion, click here.

Jeremy brews his own beer and told us about the never-ending supply of warm chocolate chip cookies that can be found in the dining room.  After we got settled, we ventured off to find the cookies with melted chocolate chips.  We had to restrain ourselves from visiting that room too much, but we did go there a few times!

We explored the living room, and I took these photos.

I enjoyed looking at the antiques and the beautifully carved woodwork that surrounded the rooms.

Mr. Hersey’s room, below, was quite large and is heated by a fireplace.

Looks like someone forgot their shoes!

That night, besides eating cookies, we lounged, watched TV, and I browsed through the History of Stillwater where I discovered that Mr. Hersey was quite the lumberman. It was very quiet even though we heard other guests come and go every once in a while. I was surprised that the old windows in the building didn’t make the place too drafty, but closing the shades helped a lot.  The still night turned into a peaceful morning.

We had breakfast in our room, but guests do have the option of eating in the dining room, if they’re feeling social that is!  Somebody knocked at our door, and left a sumptuous tray of food without being seen.  No crumbs were left behind at this meal either!

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Menu:
Merlot Poached Pears with Yogurt and Granola
Cheddar Gougere with Tomato Jam
Buckwheat Blini with Dutch Apple Compote and Sausage
Peach Mango Crumble

St. Michael's

Thankfully, our old van turned right over even though the temperature was still below zero.  We visited the Church of St. Michael for mass a few blocks away.  We got to explore another beautiful old building that is one of the oldest parishes in Minnesota that was built in 1853.

We had such a nice and relaxing time, we’re thinking about going back again when the weather gets warmer or maybe we’ll go when it’s below zero again…

Just Going Here was Worth the Trip!

“It’s been years since I’ve seen an eagle,” I said. All four of us murmured our awes.  Just as we were rounding the corner on our way to Lanesboro, Minnesota, we spotted two eagles hovering over the remains of a deer. The closer we came to the deer, the higher the eagles flew towards the cloudy sky. Their wings stretched out and up to lift them higher.

The charming town is nestled in and surrounded by colorful bluffs. Some trees were bare, their leaves blown off by some earlier wind. Others were green, holding tight to their leaves. The ones that changed showed us rusty colors or yellow leaves that mimicked the sun.

Denise drove us down Parkway Avenue and we passed by bed and breakfasts, little shops, restaurants, an art gallery and theater. Bicyclists and walkers could be seen travelling over the bridge that crosses over the Root River.

After we found the Cottage House Inn, the bed and breakfast where we stayed, we stopped at one of the gift shops. We talked about how fun it would be to go on an Amish tour.  There were guided or self-guided tours available.  We decided on the self-guided tour. We bought a CD, and when we went out the door, we noticed that the clouds had magically disappeared.  The sun greeted us as if welcoming our decision to explore on our own.

We got back in the car to find our way to the beginning of the tour. On the way, we traveled a scenic route where we saw the beautiful valley. Patches of bright green and tired yellow fields made patterns below. When we found our starting place at the intersections of Highways 52 and 16, we started the CD and listened to the narrator who gave us directions on which way to travel. In between directions, the narrator talked about the living and working habits of the Amish people. He instructed us that we were only to visit the farms that had signs that said they were open for business. He also told us not to take any pictures because it’s against the Amish people’s beliefs. We traveled along the white dirt road and found the first farm.

The farm was large, and the white house stood tall. White shirts hung upside down in front of the porch. The sleeves swayed in the wind waving and welcoming us. We got out and walked to the small red shed. There was only one other car in the driveway. It belonged to a family of customers inside the shop. A teenage boy was on duty as the cashier.

At this shop we found handmade rugs, quilted pot holders, baskets, wooden turntables, rockers, jams, honey, and pickled beets. We each bought something. I got a jar of raspberry jam and a jar of honey.  We were proud because we made it this far on our adventure! When we arrived at the next farm, we were greeted by a beautiful brown horse that was hooked up to a buggy. The horse looked at us as we smiled back. We wondered if someone was getting ready to go for a ride or if the horse was just there for the customers to admire.  The shop was surrounded by large pumpkins and multicolored corn. When we entered, we were greeted by a teenage girl. We noticed how dark and cold the building was. The other shop’s stove kept us warm. This shop had handmade furniture, cashew candy and vegetables for sale. We didn’t buy anything but went back in the car to find the next farm. This is where we had a little trouble finding our way.

The narrator instructed to restart the odometer after each visit. We figured out how to do that, but when the narrator’s instructions said to go south on a road that only travels east and west, we got confused. He told us that “when we went past the little school-house,” but we couldn’t find a school-house.  We travelled south the way we thought he meant.  If we wouldn’t have travelled that way, we might not have seen the Amish man plowing a field the old-fashioned way. There were farms with modern equipment mixed in with farms surrounded by buggies. After trying to find our way and after a very large semi-truck raced past us and kicked up so much white dust that we weren’t able to see, we decided to return the CD and get our $20 deposit back in Harmony, Minnesota.

After we returned the CD, visited a couple of shops where we admired beautifully handmade Amish quilts and furniture, we went back to the bed and breakfast in Lanesboro. When we got to our room, we noticed that we didn’t have a TV, but there was a radio in the corner. A little diary on the dresser explained how we were staying in the Penny Room, and the visitors are supposed to look for and then hide their own three pennies. I only found one penny inside the dresser on top of the bible and didn’t think to hide my pennies because we all were too busy gabbing and munching on cheese, crackers, dips and salami.  We talked about how the narrator must have been mixed up on his directions and wondered if someone turned the street sign around as some sort of joke or if there was a scratch in the CD. We realized we liked the experience even though we couldn’t find the way we were supposed to go.

 

Can you find Slant Avenue?

We explored Lanesboro some more. We found the Scenic Valley Winery which was only a block away and has been in business for 20 years. We sampled three different types of wine. The first one I tried was rhubarb. It tasted tart and was hard to swallow. I also tasted the harvest wine, and we each decided to buy a bottle to bring home.  The cranberry was my favorite.

We walked to Riverside on the Root, a restaurant that is home to the Dirty Martini Lounge and enjoyed delicious cosmos and sandwiches.

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After dinner, we noticed that the Lanesboro Art Gallery was hosting a show. Many beautiful paintings, drawings, sculptures, jewelry, lawn ornaments, and post cards were for sale. After wandering around town a little longer, we went back to the Cottage House Inn where we saw people playing cards on the main floor, with a bottle of whiskey as the centerpiece. We chatted the night away like old friends do while munching on peanut M&Ms and licorice.

All the adventures of the day made for a sleepy group.  We quickly fell asleep, but were jarred awake when the town’s siren went off around midnight.  A few minutes later, sirens from firetrucks could be heard and traveling off in the distance.  The volunteer fire department was quick to respond, but we never found out where the fire was.

The next day we asked a man who was working at the gas station where to go for breakfast, and luckily, he told us how to get to the Pastry Shoppe.

We got a table next to the window just in time as many people arrived after us and had to wait for a place to sit. The specials were listed on the chalkboard on the wall:  Ham, Onion and Cheese Quiche, a Pastry Breakfast, and Biscuits and Gravy. A framed article explained about the menu at the place, but the waitress explained it better.

“Is that your menu?” I asked as I pointed to the chalkboard.

“We don’t have a menu. People can order whatever they want, and we see if we can make it, but we don’t make pancakes or waffles. We have French toast. He makes the best hollandaise sauce in the world,” she said as she pointed to the chef with her pencil.  “We’re out of the Biscuits and Gravy.”

Kathy and I ordered the Quiche, Denise ordered the pastry that was piled high with hash browns, ham and eggs, and Judy ordered Eggs Benedict and agreed that it was a pretty great hollandaise sauce.

“Just going here was worth the trip,” I said. It was a very tasty breakfast.

“I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to bring you more coffee,” the waitress said when we were in line to pay our check. “The next time you come, just go grab the coffee pot and help yourself. This is a casual place.” We asked her to let the chef know how much we all enjoyed our breakfast.

We ended our stay by exploring trails and walking along paths that used to be an abandoned railroad track.  The next time we visit the “Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota,” we might have to rent one of those bikes built for four.  If you’re ever in the area, it would be worth your while to stop by for a visit!