Wednesday, November 26, 2008

About Brussels Sprouts...and Two Upcoming Workshops

Joel Rosen sent us this letter about Brussels sprouts. He also told us about some upcoming workshops. Below Joel’s letter is a good Brussels sprouts recipe!—Maggie

“Fall garden harvest is nearing the end. Everything is done here except Brussels sprouts, which have reached peak sweetness in the past 10 days. The trick this late in the year is finding a time to pick them. If you pick them when they're still frozen, you need to peel a couple of outer leaves and eat them shortly after they thaw out (cooked or raw). If you can find a window of opportunity where they thaw in the afternoon sun on the stalk, they can still be kept for several days in a cool place before eating without loss of quality. Once we've experienced temperatures of -5F or colder, the texture goes pretty rapidly with the variety I grow. I consider it a bonus when we can still eat Brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving (likely this year).

Some people like to dig up the plants roots attached and store in the root cellar. They do keep reasonably well this way, but if you wait as long as I do, you'll never get them out of the ground unless you mulch heavily (at least 6" of straw) or get an early heavy snow cover…

A heads up for anyone you know interested in organic and/or sustainable farming: two very well know personalities will be keynoting events in Minnesota this winter. Eliot Coleman, innovative market gardener from Maine and author of several indispensable books for organic growers, is keynoting the Minnesota Organic Conference on Friday, Jan 16 in St. Cloud. He will also be conducting a breakout workshop on High Tunnels (For those interested in organic row crop farming, Fred Kirschenmann, probably the nation's best known organic grain farmer will delivering the Saturday keynote in St. Cloud)

On Saturday Feb 21, Joel Salatin, for many years a renowned innovative grass/livestock farmer and even better known since Michael Pollan's book, will be keynoting the Minnesota Sustainable Farming Association's Annual Conference in Northfield at St. Olaf College. Salatin will also be conducting a breakout workshop.

These individuals will no doubt attract a lot of attention, so anyone interested should register for the session/day of their choice soon. I can provide more information/links for interested parties.

--Joel Rosen”

A Good Brussels Sprouts Recipe

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and uniformly sliced
2-3 T butter
2 T sliced almonds
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large deep skillet over low heat.
Add the almonds to the butter in the skillet and cook slowly in the butter until the almonds are toasted. Increase heat to medium. Add the Brussels sprouts and garlic and quickly toss to coat with the hot butter. Sprinkle the red wine vinegar over the sprouts and toss again to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, until sprouts are wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

High Expectations and Other Post-Election Thoughts

by Scott Hall

On a taxi ride recently, I asked the young driver how his business was doing.

"It's slow", he said, "but it's going to get better next year."

"Really, what makes you think so?", I asked.

"Obama", he said. ("Wow!, that's high expectations", I thought.)

"Hope you're right", I said. I hope he is right. And I wish I were that charged up and optimistic.

The day after the election this response came to KAXE from a posting by Birdie Lyons on the Cass Lake e-democracy forum:

Wow! I am a simple 55 years young and I have seen much history in those
short years but I never thought I would see the day we would have a
president that was not white, let alone a black president. I spent most of
my time in Oklahoma as a youth in the boarding schools and I use to run away
to the 'shanty' town for protection.

Back then the south was still very segregated and the shanty towns were so named because they were communities where only black people lived. I was there when it use to say "whites only" on signs in front of stores and that was as recent as the early 60's! When the store signs said "blacks forbidden" that meant Natives too.

I was stunned to hear Obama mention the 'Native Americans' in his speech
last night and I made sure I heard it because the news station will never
let that be heard again unless they air the whole speech again.
I wonder what this man's presidency will hold for the Native people of this
country. This country was built on the white values and it remains a white,
black, Latino, Asian and finally Native country. We are always last on the
ladder but hey! that keeps us closer to Mother Earth or more grounded in our
values and lives, right?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Scott's Big Weekend

We went to Minneapolis Saturday to see Calexico, a band led by guitar and vocalist Joey Burns and drummer John Convertino. I first heard Calexico on KAXE 6 or 8 years ago. I like music with Mexican and Southwestern U.S influences - Los Lobos, Brave Combo, The Mavericks, Flaco Jimenez, TX Tornados, Ry Cooder, Chris Isaac and Calexico. There's a lot of energy, driving rhythms and melodrama, rock 'n roll, and fun about the music. Burns and Convertino are from Tuscon, Arizona and surround themselves with four great musicians, Jacob Valenzuela and Martin Wenk on horns, accordion, and vibes, Paul Niehaus plays an eerie pedal steel. He's from Nashville, and also does some delightful Dick Dale and other style guitar licks. And Volker Zander on bass.

The concert was at The Fine Line in downtown Mpls. Tickets were 17 dollars - a good deal for sure. They were "limited seating" tickets meaning we stood for three hours squeezed in with about two or three hundred other, much younger people. The opening act was The Acorn, an interesting band from Canada, but by the time their set was over my legs ached and there was no relief except walking in place. About 10:30 Calexico started up and all was forgiven. The last number of their encore was the polka, "Corona", and so a perfect ending. My ears still ring...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Righteous Ice: David McDonald from Rainy Lake 7 Miles East of International Falls

Friday, November 21

My dog Hilwa and I are up at the Lake making sure no raccoon or bear
have moved into a cabin (none have... all is good up north).
Jackfish Bay on Rainy Lake is iced over but it can't be very thick.
There is just an inch or two of snow here and there. It was a clear,
sunny, still, beautiful, cold day so I went down to the dock at sunset
(which is around 4:15 now) at looked north across the bay. There was
no wind and everything was so quiet that I could hear a faint rumble
from the mill in town to the west and a dog barking off in the
distance to the east. The loudest sound was Hilwa's paws on the
squeaky snow.

So I stood there for a moment enjoying the calm when all of a sudden
there was a loud sci-fi rippling noise that seemed to race from one
end of the bay all the way to the other in less than a second. Yes,
it was uber freaky and unexpected partly because there was nothing
visual... it was just a sound from under the frozen surface of the
lake. I am told it is the sound of the ice forming and following a
path of least resistance and making noise as it expands and hits other
ice. I suggest you get a better source for the science but that is
what I think was happening.

I waited and a few minutes later a completely different sound came
from another part of the bay. It was very cool and impossible to
describe. I stood there for about 10 minutes and heard a bizarre
collection of maybe ten different sounds from all over Jackfish Bay.

So then I closed my eyes and tried to get into a total audio zone. I
was standing at the end of the dock so the faint mill rumble was to my
left and the distant dog barking was to my right. I told Hilwa to
shut up so she wandered off and was making less noise behind me on the
shore. After a few moments another ice sound came from the lake and
it was righteous. I got more and more in the zone with each new and
different sound, sort of feeling exactly where it was coming from in
the bay. Some were pops, some were squeals, and others were the
rippling kind that travelled. Righteous.

Then I heard a different continuous noise coming from behind me and
it seemed to be quickly heading right at me. I wasn't sure what it
was so I opened my eyes just as an eagle flew overhead at about the
height of the trees heading north over the lake. The sound I heard
was its wings flapping in the quiet of dusk. Righteous.

- David McDonald

Friday, November 14, 2008

November Thoughts

No Leaves
No Sun
No long bike rides
No shorts, bare feet
No swim in the lake

No vember

But that’s about all I can say bad about November. It can get us down and dark, but judging by the all places to go and things to do and see, the arrival of winter doesn’t diminish the amazing array of traditions and fun we have when it gets cold. For a lot of us – Bill Berg and Harry Hutchins come readily to mind – this is the first of five months of winter revelry. Ski swaps, holiday celebrations, and musical events, cultural traditions like lefse, ice fishing, snowmobiling, skiing, skating, basketball and HOCKEY! (my emphasis there - Fred Friedman and I are old friends, but when it comes to hockey, he’s from Mercury and I’m from Jupiter).

Except for the most gung ho, Winter gets long and we usually need to get away for a week or so. I’m planning to visit my brother in San Jose, CA in February. He and I will go for a some bike rides, and we’ll also check out a few stages of the Tour of California. It’s an eight day bicycle road race through the wine country, mountains and along the beautiful California coast. Lance Armstrong is in it this year so the crowds will be big and the hotels will fill up.

Please tell us what winter means to you and tell us about your special traditions and plans for this winter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guido's Guide and Arts Roundup For November and December (Check Out The Garcia Tie. He looks even sharper at 6 in the morning!)

In and around Brainerd: the Franklin Arts Center is currently hosting the Brainerd Area Art Club Holiday Art Show; Stroia Ballet will do “The Nutcracker” at Tornstrom Auditorium tomorrow (11/14); Greater Lakes Performing Arts opens “Bye Bye Birdie” tomorrow (all through next week) at Pequot Lakes High School; on 11/25 the Central Lakes College Concert & Jazz Bands will perform; on the 29th the Lakes Area Concert Association presents “Trumpet Invasion” at Tornstrom; and there’s more, of course---for times & other details:

Ripple River Gallery near Deerwood: Bob and Amy aren’t doing anything particularly holiday-ish this year, but they’ve got the usual “wide range of really good work” (Amy’s words) on the walls and shelves.

Jaques Art Center in Aitkin: the Jaques Christmas Marketplace starts tomorrow (11/14), where bidding opens on items in the Annual Dinner & Silent Auction, which will be Saturday, 11/22 at 5. Also: they’ve got St. Nicholas Tea and English Tea parties scheduled, the usual 3rd Thursday Brown Bag Lunch next week (11/20) with “Watercolor: A Mind Of Its Own” (Bev Abear). And let’s don’t forget the World Famous Fish House Parade in Aitkin on 11/28.

To Bemidji. At BCAC through 12/21, “It’s Only Clay”, their annual national juried ceramics competition and exhibition. Plus Judith Selby at Dunn Brothers, plus Cyrus Swann at Wild Hare, plus the Christmas Boutique at Gallery North, plus Mary Therese Peterson at Neilson Place, plus “Nuncrackers” coming up at Wild Rose, and so on. Plus: Bemidji Symphony Orchestra, “Miraculous Fanfares” Sunday 11/23 at 3 at the High School, and a Holiday Concert and Messiah Sing-A-Long at BSU on 12/9 at 7:30. Also at BSU the 40th Annual Madrigal Dinner in the Beaux Arts Ballroom the 1st 2 weekends in Dec. and music department concerts one after another.

In Bigfork at the Edge Center their Holiday Gift Show & Sale is up in the lobby through 12/14; in the theater, 12/5-12/7 “What Do I Do With My Hands? One Vaudevillian’s True Confessions”, comedy, songs and stories by Brian Kent Johnson; and on 12/14 at 2 it’s the Blandin Male Chorus, free.

Over on the Range it’s still “In The Dark” at Ironworld, through 1/4, and the Festival of Lights 12/4-12/7 (Xmas trees, food, music, egg decorating, wagon rides, etc.). At Hibbing Community College Ragamala Dance Company performs Thurs. 12/11 at 7:30, South Indian classical dance, as part of the Cultural Events Series. On 12/20 at 2 & 7 Reif Center Dance Company tours their “Nutcracker Sweets” to HCC. Info on classes/workshops in Hibbing, some Xmas-themed, at

Grand Rapids. MacRostie Art Center’s Nov. exhibitors, sponsored by LuAnn & Frank Hanson, are Samuel Johnson from St. Ben’s/St. John’s, functional pottery, dark wood-fired and white-glazed work, and drawings by Krista Matison. At Brewed Awakenings it’s nature photos by Judith Kustelski. At Reif we’ve got a five-artist exhibit in the lobby: Liz White (also serving as the curator), Dorothy Hall, Deb Page, Diane Rutherford, and Mary Shideler. On stage at Reif: Next week, music: middle school bands Mon. & Tues. at 7:30 at Reif, then Itasca Orchestra, first with a gathering at Rivers Thurs. at 5:30 with Soprano Hope Koehler and Itasca Orchestra’s Executive Director Kathy Dodge, and the Fall Concert at Reif on Sat. (11/22) at 7:30 (Dvorak’s 8th, Sullivan’s Overture to Yeoman of the Guard, Handel’s Rinaldo, and, featuring Ms. Koehler, a suite of Puccini arias that Dodger promises you will leave the theatre humming, in part because they’re so memorable, in part because they’ll be done so well). Funding by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council through an appropriation by the MN State Legislature.

Out of town: in previews, at the Belasco in NY, a revival of David Mamet’s signature “American Buffalo” with a terrific cast (Cedric the Entertainer, Haley Joel Osment & John Leguizamo).


See that mountain of kale? Before it got to be a pile by the sink it had to be picked, the large veins removed, then chopped and washed three times in sinks filled with cold water.

The next step was to plunge it into boiling water for two minutes, then let it cool in another sink full of cold, cold water. Then you drain it and pack it in freezer bags.

The boiling water makes the kale wilt and turn dark green.

When it was all over, that big pile of kale fit easily into two, one-quart bags.

That’s the bummer about kale. Since I was a girl it’s been my very favorite vegetable. But it takes a lot of work to get a little kale.

All the greens are like that. Chard, beet greens, mustard…it doesn’t matter. It takes a lot to make a little.

Some things are just like that.

Greens are awesome things. They’re packed with vitamins (no wonder—when they’re condensed like that) and they taste…wonderful!

Kale is sweet and mild this time of year. And the plants themselves are amazing! The kale that’s still in the garden is still standing and edible even after several nights with temperatures in the teens (it would have been better if it was all picked now, but processing takes so much time!). Joel Rosen, from the Lake Superior Chapter of the Sustainable Farming Association, told me frost signals the plant to send sugars from the roots into the leaves.

I cook kale in salted water until it gets tender (kale can be tough sometimes), and then add vinegar or soy sauce when I eat it. My grandmother used to cook it with ham. Any way you do it, it’s yummy!

(P.S. the third photo is Dinosaur kale, aka Italian kale—it looks totally cool!)

-Maggie Montgomery

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Second BIG CARROT Found - and it's BIGGER!

Unbelievably, another huge carrot has been found in East Nary, at the residence of Dennis and Maggie Montgomery. The carrot, weighing in at 1# 8.5 oz, smashed the previous East Nary carrot record by 2.5 ounces.

“I couldn’t believe it when I weighed it,” said Maggie Montgomery. “It’s a lot uglier than the other carrot but quite a bit bigger!”

When asked if this carrot would be stuffed and mounted, Montgomery said, “It’s too late. We ate it. Just that one carrot was all we needed for a big pot of stew.”