Deborahmclaren's Weblog

Sustianable Tourism, Buy Local, Rural-Urban Connections

Until further notice – check out www.getlocalflavor.com

Posted by deborahmclaren on December 30, 2012

Hello Friends,

I’ve been busy building another wordpress.org blog/website: www.getlocalflavor.com to promote small businesses, organizations and events that are “local” and sustainable in the Upper Midwest. Along with the website you can find us on Facebook.com/getlocalflavor or Twitter: @getlocalflavor or even a linkedin group “Local Flavor.”

Cheers!
Deborah McLaren aka TravelMomma

Posted in Buy-local, cultural heritage, ecotour, entreprenuers, microenterprise, Minnesota, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Fall Show – Young Potters in St. Paul

Posted by deborahmclaren on November 12, 2011

Driving home from the Northland Pioneers conference this afternoon I spotted a “Pottery Sale” sign on the side of the road. Not one to miss a local pottery sale I followed the signs to a little clapboard house on Palace Street in Saint Paul, MN.

To my delight it was a fall sale organized by four or five young potters from the area. And their work and designs were very diverse. Not the usual pottery show stuff! For example, the painting/sculptures made by Kelly Cox and her husband Eric Mullis.

Potters William Cook and Phillip Schmidt + fan

Tiny ant sculpture by Eric Mullis

Deer painting/plate by Kelly Cox

Beautiful Handmade Bowl

I am excited to see young artists in the neighborhood! The functional pottery and sculpture is affordable and they are a fun, welcoming group. It’s a beautiful weekend. If you stop by they are also serving up some fall goodies and hot cider.

2011 Fall Pottery Show and Sale, Sat Nov 12 – Sun Nov 13, 1792 Palace Avenue, St. Paul MN 55104
email williamcookpottery@gmail.com

Posted in art, Buy-local, entreprenuers, microenterprise, Minnesota, Saint Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What to do with all that rhubarb: rhubarb ketchup

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 27, 2011

I grew so much rhubarb this summer I didn’t know what to do with all of it. I made cakes, pies, breads, tarts, and crisps and finally chopped up the last of it and stuck it in the freezer – waiting to find yet another way to use all that stuff. It’s great rhubarb – fantastically tasty – its just that I had so much!

Last weekend my inner farm girl went wild and I tried to buy up all of the last tomatoes at the St. Paul Farmer’s Market. It was a lovely day. Kind of cool and brisk. One of those times when the day itself infuses you with so much energy you feel like you can cook up a truck load of veggies. My husband, Rob, was going along with it. He actually pushed around one of those pop-up mesh toy cans on a dolly and helped me fill it to the brim. It trembled and flopped side to side under the weight of garlic, potatoes, carrots, bok choy, onions, peppers, and ALL THOSE TOMATOES.

I have not really canned this fall, so I was on a mission to buy stuff I could quickly can or preserve through the winter. Once this summer my son Anil and I had lunch at Wise Acre Eatery in Minneapolis. Luckily he ordered a hamburger that came with fries and ketchup. The ketchup was to die for. Fortunately I was able to get some of the secret ingredients out of the waiter. The memory of that delicious red sauce inspired my tomato hunt.

Rhubarb.

cooking the rhubarb and tomatoes

That’s the secret ingredient chef Beth Fisher uses in her tasty sauce. We love Wise Acre Eatery for a number of reasons – it is a garden nursery and a slow food eatery in south Minneapolis – and they grow their own food on a farm not far from the Twin Cities… Berkshire Black hogs, Scottish Highland cattle, free range chickens… all rambling around on fresh green pastures in the nearby countryside. Of course it sounds overly sweet when you first hear about it (the ketchup, not the farm and eatery) but its not.

I had to go home and google up every rhubarb ketchup recipe on the internet and call a couple of go-to cooks I know. After experimenting a bit, the final result included vinegar and brown sugar – staples of any good ketchup recipe. Also, I used that boat load of Roma tomatoes along with the last of the heirloom tomatoes I had picked from the garden.

So if you have a bunch of rhubarb left over from the summer harvest and you’re out at the farmer’s market (or on the farm) this week you still have time to find a few good tomatoes (friends and family in the south will laugh at this – since I’m just about as far north as the US gets in Minnesota and thus at the end of the tomato season). Here’s the recipe I finally came up with. My friend Carla Solberg Sherman, the owner of Como Lake B&B, said she could serve it with the eggs she dishes up at her elegant place on Como Lake.

I hope you like it. Here’s the recipe:

Rhubarb Ketchup
Takes about an hour to make
Ingredients

4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
3 medium onions, chopped
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 dozen roma tomatoes, diced or
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pickling spice

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook for 1 hour or until thick. Cool. Refrigerate in covered containers or freeze it.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, Saint Paul, Slow Foods, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

tumblr alternative to travel blogging

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 12, 2011

A tumblr (www.tumblr.com) account may be an alternative for people who don’t want to spend a lot of time travel blogging.  A cross between Twitter and a blog, tumblr is a free service that lets you create an account where you can share photos, videos, posts, and more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What do these people have in common?

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 6, 2011

Dr. Demento (aka Barry Hansen), Al Franken, Thomas L. Friedman, Charles Schulz, The Jolly Green Giant, Josh Hartnett, Semisonic, Soul Asylum, Tiny Tim, Vince Vaughn, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Tammy Faye, Winona Ryder, Cheryl Tiegs and Poppin’ Fresh

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I’m Going to Kansas City… here we come!

Posted by deborahmclaren on October 2, 2011

directly in front of negro league and jazz mus...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come! BBQ, Baseball and Jazz… I’m going to get me some!

This summer I drove down to KC with nine of my most  immediate family. We loaded into two vans and headed south from the Twin Cities to Kansas City. On the hottest day of the year. Really! It was 102 degrees and one of the vans did not have a/c.  Our mission: find the best KC barbeque and visit the birthplace of KC jazz and black baseball.

Before you read further I will admit to a few of things. I got the hives from the heat and had to stay in bed almost 48 hours. My mostly Muslim family went to Worlds of Fun/Oceans of Fun without me (still in bed) and were unindated by Christian music which was constantly (and loudly) broadcast throughout the amusement park. No worries about those carnies that love blasting Slow Ride here. And we did not find the best bbq in Kansas City. Despite that, we found some real gems in KC. This information is from my accumulated experiences though.

My husband, Rob, and I have been exploring KC for a few years. Every time we travel South to visit my family we go through KC (and Joplin but that’s an entirely different story). For a long time it was just a gas stop or an overnight cheap hotel on the way to Oklahoma (or that five hours we spent in a snow storm waiting it out at Chuckie Cheese). Finally we started making time for… you guessed it… food and music. That is what life is about, right?

One night we were driving through KC just about supper time. Rob had been trying to find a good steak house every time we passed through town without luck. We gave up on the steaks and decided to go for my favorite type of southern dinner – BBQ.  I grew up in the south so BBQ often means really soft meat sans the spicy ketchup sauce. The meat is smoked, melts in your mouth and the taste can’t be hidden by any kind of sauce. So of course I was hoping to find that. My husband, having been born and raised in India, prefers as spicy as you can get. We always try to find a happy medium (and an extra bottle of hot sauce).

With my new cell phone and all its fancy apps I was able to track down the closest BBQ place we were passing by on the highway. Happened to be BB’s Lawnside Blues and BBQ.  “B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ is Where BBQ Meets the Blues in Kansas City. For 20 years, B.B.’s has served slow-smoked meats (sausage, beef, chicken, pulled pork and ribs) from its 60+ year-old pit, Plus, B.B.’s menu includes signature Louisiana dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, red beans & rice and goulash. And, when you combine that with world-class blues entertainment, you get a unique Kansas City experience only found at B.B.’s Lawnside BBQ.” Yep, that’s right off their website but it certainly sums it up.

We drove a few miles through a deserted industrial area to get there, and yes, there is some kind of piece of grass next door to the parking lot. It’s a bit of a stretch to call it “lawnside,” but maybe in that area it passes. The inside is pretty much that scene from the Blues Brothers, where Jake and Elwood have to play in a honky tonk behind some chain link fencing and everyone throws empty beer bottles at them. Fortunately for us there were no crazy crowd or chain fences, nor flying beer bottles, just great food and amazing blues. There was a band of at least 10, including a hot horn section, and at one point two members of the band ran into the audience and did a great chest bump in the middle of a tune. Obviously a lot of energy and entertainment goes on at BB’s Lawnside. Great homestyle BBQ, long shared tables, awesome local brew and amazing music. And it was all very reasonably priced.

During our visits to KC we had learned about The Historic District of 18th and Vine.  The district was the center for black culture and life in Kansas City from the late 1800s-1960s. Since the late 1990s it has been undergoing a revival. It was the hub of activity for homeowners, business, jazz music, and baseball enthusiast. Just outside of the district stands the Paseo YMCA building, which was built as a black YMCA in 1914. It served as temporary home for baseball players, railroad workers, and others making the transition to big city life in the Midwest. It was here that the Negro National League was founded in 1920. Although the district and the YMCA building were becoming blighted by the 1980s, they were recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the late 1990s, plans were underway by city officials to create a new home to showcase Kansas City’s jazz heritage and to revitalize the Historic District. City officials and the mayor worked to raise over $20 million in bonds to build a new facility to host the new American Jazz Museum and a new, permanent and expanded, home for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. This new 50,000 square-foot building opened in September 1997 and the Baseball Museum opened in November.

Hot jazz, cool blues, historical and cultural preservation and good food.   Just east of downtown KC. We took the kids to the baseball museum and the American Jazz Museum which showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, Blue Room jazz club and Gem Theater. Kansas City is one of the greatest purveyors of jazz – and it continues to offer fertile ground for the music to thrive.

The kids were excited by the museums. The Jazz Museum, especially, is very interactive. Numerous kiosks use individual headphones to tell stories about the musicians, various types of jazz, and historical eras of jazz music. I could have spent a lot more time there as there was so much to absorb and learn.  However, we were off to find food for a hungry crowd.

The original Arthur Bryants in the historic jazz district

Although Arthur Bryant’s was recommended by everyone in the neighborhood, I think it’s a taste acquired by growing up there. The BBQ sauce was vinegary with some lumpy dry spices in it. Have no doubt – the place was packed and there are tons of great reviews about the place (although there have been more unfavorable reviews of late – maybe they are focusing more on their product sales than their restaurant food?) It just wasn’t my type of barbeque. And everyone else in the family agreed. And the family includes some heavy duty BBQ connoisseurs. It is a well loved, neighborhood favorite, it just wasn’t what we were expecting.  To order you must wait in line and order in a cafeteria style set-up. It was rather confusing but we ended up with burnt ends, turkey and fries.

Other places in the 18th and Vine area include Danny’s Big Easy, The Peachtree, the KC Blues & Jazz Juke House, and The Blue Room (part of the American Jazz Museum) which hosts Jazz Poetry Jams every 3rd Tuesday from 7 to 10pm. Other nights they offer up live music starting at 7 pm. The 2011 Rhythm and Ribs Jazz and Blues Festival is coming up on Oct 8.

The next night we tried Jack Stack’s BBQ near the river. The beef ribs were meaty and tender and the sauce was definitely a thick tomato and brown sugar base. The staff at the crowded restaurant was kind enough to set us in a huge booth area where we could all sit together (and not offend other diners with all of our noise and active kiddies).

There aren’t a lot of locally-owned accommodations in Kansas City – or at least we weren’t able to find them. There are a couple of B&Bs in nearby Bonner Springs.  Airbnb lists a few places to stay: from a one bedroom rental in a private home for $40 a night to luxury Lofts downtown for $90 a night.  With three adults and six kids under twelve we opted for a downtown hotel with two rooms and a pool. And we used that pool a lot since it was such a hot weekend. Unfortunately, a lot of b&bs don’t allow children.

Since we were downtown we were close to the restored Union Station (with lots of food, a permanent rail exhibit called the KC Rail Experience, exhibit spaces for traveling exhibits produced by the Smithsonian and other national organizations, a planetarium, an interactive science center called Science City and a vibrant Theater District featuring giant-screen movies and live theater, and much more.) and the Crowne Center which houses a Children’s Theater, the Hallmark Card headquarters (where kids can go to make crafts), a huge Crayola store also with fun activities, play areas (shooting water outside, an Amazon rainforest inside), and plenty of shops to buy any kind of KC BBQ sauce there is.

Also downtown, along the river, is the City Market. Since its inception in 1857, the City Market continues to be one of the largest and most enduring public farmers’ markets in the Midwest, linking growers and small businesses to the Kansas City community. This is where locals go! The City Market is one of the largest outdoor concert venues in Kansas City. There are a number of permanent vendors in the market, and more than 140 vendors on the weekends during the farmer’s market that burst with bedding plants, fruits, vegetables, herbs, fresh baked goods and other sweets, cut flowers and crafts made by local artisans.

We’re going to keep hunting for local places to stay. Please let me know if you have more local haunts to add to our KC stopovers!

Posted in Buy-local, cultural heritage, family travel, food and wine, Missouri, museum, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Building the Local Flavor website

Posted by deborahmclaren on September 29, 2011

I’ve been working with Envision, in St. Peter MN, to design the new Local Flavor website. Building a website is not easy… it takes a lot of time, tinkering and learning. The website will eventually include a LOCAL directory of entrepreneurs, microenterprises, small businesses, festivals and events, and more. Say you don’t want to stay at a big chain hotel and drive thru that McPlace next time you travel around Minnesota. Local Flavor will help you find a very cool local inn to stay, places to visit, interesting things to do and great local, healthy food wherever you go. And Local Flavor is not just for travelers! Locals will find it very useful too.

It’s taking longer than I thought. Hopefully the website will be ready for “testing” in the next couple of weeks. Anyone that wants to volunteer to test will get a free one year subscription! You’ll have to help test and report any problems or bugs you might experience. We want to make sure the website will work well.

In the meantime, please help by voting for Local Flavor. There’s only a couple more days and your vote can help us win a $50,000 Intuit hiring grant and provide more jobs in Minnesota. Click on the Intuit website and type in “Local Flavor” and then “St. Paul, MN” which will bring up the voting box. Then vote for us. Write something nice about us if you’d like.

Thanks for staying in touch and reading the blog this summer. I’m so surprised there’s been a lot of visits despite my lack of writing. Hopefully I can get back into the groove soon.

Cheers! – Travel Momma

Posted in Buy-local, entreprenuers, family travel, food and wine, Minnesota, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Local Flavor update

Posted by deborahmclaren on August 26, 2011

Update 12/2011: Experiencing website development delays! We want it to be perfect before we launch it. You can sign up for Local Flavor news by going to the website: LocalFlavorTravel.com and adding your email address. We are also looking for up to ten businesses to help test the website. Registration will be free until the website launch, and you’ll get an additional one year annual membership at no cost – because we appreciate your help. Go Local!

Aug 20111: Expect a full announcement about Local Flavor, my new endeavor, early next week! I’ll share more about how it can benefit rural businesses and entreprenuers around the state. Stay tuned!

Deborah

Posted in Buy-local, Minnesota, travel, Uncategorized, website | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Travel Momma has been very busy!

Posted by deborahmclaren on August 25, 2011

I’m excited about my newest effort – launching Local Flavor in October. The website will be available to those who would like to become members by September 1st. The actual launch will be the end of October. Any microenterprise, small business, entreprenuer or agency related to local food, art, culture, heritage or travel can to join up before the launch and receive a great discount.

Starting September 1st go to http://LocalFlavorTravel.com

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Black Salt or Kala Namak from India

Posted by deborahmclaren on July 23, 2011

Black Salt or Kala Namak from India.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

 
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