Tag Archives: Food

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Day weekend burger grill.

Memorial Day weekend burger grill.

It’s Friday evening and Molly and I are sitting on the living room futon which now faces west. It points us in the direction of a screen porch, and beyond this we can see the youthful spring green of deciduous trees and leaves set against a background of grayish-blue sky. A storm is brewing out west for sure. You can smell it. Something to do with the ozone.

We live in pre-WWI construction, so we are also treated to a kind of pre-WWII sense of place. I haven’t been able to put words to the smell, but the smell I’m smelling reminds me of my late Grandma Christy’s house on the 700 block of North 4th Street in Bismarck, North Dakota. That house, too, was built prior to the First World War. Anything built before the Second World War has this sense of smell and place to it. The homes and apartments all have hard wood floors, radiator heating, and super tall ceilings. They were built before the invention and ascent of conditioned air.

My latest archaeological find of Minnesota Twins propaganda.

My latest archaeological find of Minnesota Twins propaganda.

So now that it is Memorial Day Weekend, I thought I would post the epitome of Americana. I love this stuff. Baseball and cowboy charcoal grilled burgers. Memorial Day weekend is a grand extension of Decoration Day, a Civil War day of remembrance.

This evening also got me thinking a bit about all the German-Americans that poured into the United States when, in the words of Lt. Aldo Raine, people were getting out of Europe while the getting was good. Massive religious and political upheavals in the 19th century (this is the most focused brush stroke I’m going to use right now) induced hundreds of thousands of Europeans to simply leave Europe. They crossed the Atlantic and poured in the United States. A large swath of these immigrants came from Germany, or German-speaking countries (I have often hypothesized that the reason Germany started two big ones in the same century had to do with this intellectual emigrant drain from the previous century). And the Germans, when they arrived in the United States, took up numerous causes. In some cases they played baseball. And in other cases they agitated for emancipation. I like to imagine that they also grilled burgers, too. Baseball and burgers. Happy Memorial Day.


Langdon Locker

Langdon Locker, 324 6th St., Langdon, Cavalier County, North Dakota, on the morning of February 27, 2014.

Langdon Locker, 324 6th St., Langdon, Cavalier County, North Dakota, on the morning of February 27, 2014.

This morning just after the sunrise, the car thermometer registered something like -18° F in Langdon, northeastern North Dakota. I’m on detail up here for a couple days, dissertating (a verb in grad school) and so on. But before getting started on that, I decided to track down the famous Langdon Locker, home of the famous Langdon Locker Sausage (caps is warranted).

This, says Tom Isern, is the greatest sausage in all of North Dakota. I once pressed Isern to explain why it was the best, and he (paraphrased) chalked it up to preparation and texture. I think the texture reminded him a bit of sausage production around and near his historic family farm in western Kansas. It is no surprise that certain smells and foods activate otherwise hibernating memory files within our brains.

Langdon Locker.

Langdon Locker.

In any case, I tracked down the Langdon Locker. Then I tracked down an ATM. Then I returned to Langdon Locker and purchased one of their regular staples, the smoked garlic pork sausage. It is locally made, and goes for just over $4 for one-and-a-half pounds. There are rumors that this sausage is available through distributors in Fargo. But there is something fun about getting the stuff at the source too.


White Chicken Chili

Molly's white chicken chili.

Molly’s white chicken chili.

There’s something like a 3rd or 7th polar vortex bearing down on the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes region on this sunny, cold Saturday lunch hour. Yesterday Molly suggested that we make white chicken chili. I set the navy beans to soaking yesterday afternoon, and she put soup together just before lunch today. Lots of coriander, cumin, Tochi’s taco seasoning, green and red chilies, etc. This is what she was telling me after I asked, “Why is this so delicious?” We also added cilantro just before serving. Note: what you can’t see in this photo are the two chihuahuas at my feet. Seriously. They are named Willow and Honey. This soup is heating us up for sure. Polar vortex, your serve.


Blizzard Grilling On the Northern Great Plains

Rick Gion recently returned from southwestern North Dakota, having hunted pheasant around Mott and Regent. He brought back pheasant, and we — Rick, Molly and I — ended up grilling them last night. Rick pounded out the pheasant breasts and made a roulade, tying them up with peppers, jack cheese, and prosciutto. It, the weather, also decided to turn to a blizzard — icamnatanka — leading up to the grilling. So we just forged ahead. Molly prepared a delicious wildrice-mushroom hot dish, inspired by Linda Whitney (my aunt) and her knowledge of how they prep wild rice hot dishes up around Devils Lake, North Dakota in general. It was a northern Great Plains winter meal through and through. Here are some photos from the late afternoon and evening.

A bag of sensibly priced charcoal purchased as the blizzard set in.

A bag of sensibly priced charcoal purchased as the blizzard set in.

Rick prepares the pheasant-breast roulade.

Rick prepares the pheasant-breast roulade.

Molly's wild rice-mushroom hot dish. This is perfect eating for a blizzard.

Molly’s wild rice-mushroom hot dish. This is deliciously perfect eating for a blizzard.

Grilling the roulade. The temps were sub-zero at this point. In the distance from the grill is a mildly creepy-looking snowman I built the night prior, in anticipation for the sub-zero weather.

Grilling the roulade. The temps were sub-zero at this point. In the distance from the grill is a mildly creepy-looking snowman I built the night prior, in anticipation for the sub-zero weather.

The plated meal. We ended up finishing the roulade in the oven after putting a char on it with the grill. Wild rice-mushroom hot dish to the left, and steamed broccoli above, this just below a bit of table red.

The plated meal. We ended up finishing the roulade in the oven after putting a char on it with the grill. Wild rice-mushroom hot dish to the left, and steamed broccoli above, this just below a bit of table red.

 

 

 


Northern Great Plains Shu Mai

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlthough this blog leans toward history updates, I like to give food entry updates every now and then. Yesterday I determined to make east Asian steamed dumplings. The main factor of dumpling preparation is making the dough. This requires about 1 part boiling water to 3 parts flour, as the boiling water brings out the elasticity in the dough. I used North Dakota State Mill organic flour. After adding the boiling water, I mixed it with a wood spoon until the dough was cool enough to mix by hand.

The recipe in front of me also called for ground pork, but instead of that I used local goat shank that I had in the freezer. The goat meat came from County Line Meats, this just south of Jamestown. Since the recipe called for 2 minced garlic cloves, I added 5. Also into my dumpling mix went minced chives, onion, carrot, ginger, and a dash of rice wine vinegar, cane sugar, ground pepper, mint and soy sauce.

All this filling gets centered in the middle of the thin dough sheets I rolled out. Then a systematic pinching of the dough around the perimeter forms up these dumplings, almost into the shape of little pies. I dropped these into the bamboo steamer, but after laying down a layer of cabbage. I didn’t have Napa cabbage handy, so I used standard issue Euro-American cabbage. The dumplings were great, and since the goat, flour and cabbage were local, I decided they were Northern Great Plains-Chinese fusion dumplings.

The next dumplings I make are going to be an appropriated recipe we recently had in New Zealand. They were wontons filled with minced lamb, onion and mint. They came with a mint dipping sauce too. They were spectacular. It’ll be easy enough to re-create goat-mint shu mai. Everyone should do this. It’s not difficult.


Teddy Roosevelt’s Inaugural Home and Buffalo Wings

This past weekend Molly and I visited Buffalo, New York, primarily to attend one of our friend’s weddings. While in Buffalo, we enjoyed the hospitality of Rich and Susan Bring Tobe. Rich and Susan know the deep culture of Buffalo, New York, and they showed us a variety of historic architecture and landscape architecture (including homes by Frank Lloyd Wright, and parks designed by Frederick L. Olmsted). In addition to this, they also pointed out the home where Theodore Roosevelt was sworn into office, this after William McKinley died from an assassin’s bullet in Buffalo. Before Molly and I departed yesterday, we stopped to take some photos of the home. I thought I’d upload and share one here (the house is on the National Register of Historic Places, the site narrative linked to here).

A photo of the home in Buffalo, New York where Theodore Roosevelt was sworn into U.S. Presidential Office after the death of McKinley.

This also got me to thinking how altered the monopolistic trust-busting might have been had Teddy not become president through this awful tragedy (that’s kind of the way with life, though: redemption can result from tragedy, at least in this case). Of course, had McKinley survived, we would not even know how things would have been otherwise. But that’s another discussion entirely (arguably presented much more intelligibly by Doc in Back to the Future).

While in Buffalo, I also got to thinking about just how many chicken wings Teddy could have inhaled at the Anchor Bar, the birthplace of the “Buffalo” wing (in Buffalo, they just call Buffalo wings “wings” much in the same way that the French refer to French onion soup as “onion soup.”).

Anchor Bar merchandise at the original birthplace of the Buffalo chicken wing, this in Buffalo, New York.


Gadgets In Edgeley, North Dakota: Visiting Dawn and Theresa Paul

This morning, while reading about Caraher’s physical concerns as a field archaeologist, I took the third slug of coffee from the first home roasted coffee batch. To home roast the coffee, I used a corn/maize air popper, and learned how to do this just over a week ago when Molly and I visited Dawn and Theresa Paul who reside in Edgeley, south-central North Dakota. It works great, and there appears to be a huge body of DIY internet information on this (which, like numerous things, I only now am discovering). Here is what the roasting looked like this morning.

Roasted coffee from this morning. Green coffee beans just above that.

Roasted coffee from this morning. Green coffee beans just above that.

Anyhow, I thought I’d give you some quick backdrop on Dawn and Theresa and then share another project they finished in Edgeley. Dawn and Theresa used to live on St. Croix. When they first said this, I responded with, “You’re talking about the Virgin Islands and not Minnesota, correct?” (When someone says they are from Oslo, I always do the same thing and ask, “Norway and not Minnesota, right?”) Yes, they were talking about the Caribbean. They both lived on the island for quite a time, developing a house and setting themselves into a variety of projects. Eventually, though, they wanted to relocate to the northern Great Plains (I think this in part had to do with Theresa’s family connections to the area). They claim to be “retired,” but after visiting with Dawn for over an hour I balked at this assertion, or at least modified it. I said, “You’re retired, but busy as ever.” He agreed.

Below are photos of a rehabilitated and restored circus conversion van. Dawn and Theresa can give you the details way better than I can, but the short and skinny of it is this: they discovered this vehicle years back, the vehicle having been abandoned or nearly abandoned. It is a motor home that early 20th-century circus people would use while traveling the circus circuit. This particular van was owned by “The Great Arturo” of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus shows. The Great Arturo, I learned, was center ring.

Circus people would often winter down in Florida, and then return to the circus life when things warmed back up. Dawn and Theresa decided to do a complete restore on the vehicle, and you’ll occasionally see them traveling the minor and major roads on the northern Great Plains. Here are some photos:

The cockpit of the sweet circus ride.

The cockpit of the sweet circus ride.

Don entering the sweet ride.

Dawn entering the sweet ride.

The front 1/3 of the sweet circus ride.

The front 1/3 of the sweet circus ride.

An interior shot of the sweet circus ride. Note the stove range to the right; sink to the lower left; toilet further back; and bed at the way back.

An interior shot of the sweet circus ride. Note the stove range to the right; dresser just behind that; sink to the lower left; toilet further back; and bed at the way back.