Deborahmclaren's Weblog

Sustianable Tourism, Buy Local, Rural-Urban Connections

Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Category

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

Advertisements

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 »

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 »

More Quirky Places to Stay in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on May 16, 2011

I promised to write more about interesting places to stay in Minnesota. I’ve found a former chicken house, a Viking Inn, a light house, another old jail, a tow boat, a house boat and some other cool stays. We’re obviously gearing up for summer travel as the number of visitors to the quirky places I’ve blogged about are rising daily.

The Broodio

The Broodio

Inside the Broodio

Inside the Broodio

The Broodio, a former “brooder” house (where baby chicks are raised) is a one-room cottage that is part of a Minnesota Valley century farmstead. The simple pleasures of the prairie surround Moonstone’s gardens, arbors and vineyard. A canoe, grill, campfire, sauna and beach are available to guests.

This is a real find! The Viking Inn is Central Minnesota ‘s Nordic Inn Medieval Brew and Bed! Built in an old church by “the crazy Viking, Steinarr Elmerson” who left southern California and corporate America to follow his dream. Steinarr loves to cook and the inn offers a Viking Dinner Mystery or an interactive Viking dinner theater with raids, pillaging, burning and feasting. Rooms start at about $60 for the tiny room built in the church’s bell tower to $150 for Odin’s Den. Soap, Shoes and Viking Vear come with the room!

Runestone Museum, located in downtown Alexandria, Minnesota is not far from the Viking Inn. You can tour historic Fort Alexandria, take your picture with the country’s biggest viking, and see the world famous Kensington Runestone.

The Runestone

Built in 1892 the Lighthouse B&B in Two Harbors is a working lighthouse operated by the Lake County Historical Society. It has three spare but tasteful rooms that share one bathroom, and there’s a half-bath in the basement. The Skiff House, on the grounds adjoining the visitors center, has its own bathroom and hot tub.

The Lighthouse at Dusk

The Jail Haus Bed & Breakfast and Ed’s Museum

Wykoff is a perfect little southern Minnesota village – a perfect blend of hospitality and local flavor. The ladies of Wykoff keep themselves busy. They not only renovated Ed’s Museum, but made their historic jail into a B&B. Stay in the jail for about $68/night then go over to Ed’s Museum to view the display of 1930s lollipop tree, old pin-ups and tons of other junk. It’s also next to the Root River, my favorite place for tubing. For lovers of Americana kitsch.

The Old Jailhaus, Wykoff, MN

On the St. Croix River in Taylors Falls, Minn., the Old Jail B&B occupies an old brewery/saloon and an 1884 jail on a hill at the edge of downtown. In 1869, the Schottmuller brothers built a one-story stone structure with a cave connecting it to their brewery further up Angel Hill and opened it as a saloon, storing beer in the cave. They then purchased a two-story stable and livery, built in 1851, from the Chisago House Hotel and set it on top of the saloon for living quarters. Since its days as a saloon, the “Cave” has housed a surprising array of businesses including a general store, a chicken plucking operation, a beauty shop, and a mortuary. The Taylors Falls Jail was built next door to the saloon in 1884. It was used over the years as an ice house, a shoe repair shop, and a garage. Historian Helen White restored the “Jail” and opened it in 1981 as Minnesota’s first licensed bed & breakfast.

The Old Jail Cottage in Taylors Falls, MN

The Old Jail Cottage in Taylors Falls, MN

In St. Paul, The Covington Inn was built in 1946 as a towboat and now is moored on Harriet Island, across from downtown. Four elegant rooms have fireplaces and superb views; the two-story Pilot House suite includes the pilot house as a sitting room and has a private deck. The boat is trimmed stem to stern in mahogany, brass and bronze. Windows and portals in the boat’s tiered design draw light into each room. Sleeping quarters feature a mix of ingenious built-in cabinets with simple furnishings from the Covington’s work era. Salvaged fixtures, nautical antiques and historic art provide tasteful reminders of the River and the Inn’s past life.

The Covington Inn, St. Paul

In northern Minnesota lakes country, in the tiny village of Dorset, the Heartland Trail B&B was built in 1920 as a schoolhouse and has six attractive rooms, named for different grades. 218-732-3252.

Little old school house B&B in Dorsett

Heartland Trail or Little old school house B&B in Dorsett

In the western Minnesota town of Ashby, on the Central Lakes Trail, the Harvest Inn B&B occupies the former 1926 Trinity Lutheran Church and has four rooms. Enjoy winery tours anytime of the day. Feel free to walk around and tour one of Minnesota’s largest horse facilities.218-747-2334. Email: info@harvestinn.net

Timber Bay Lodge and Houseboats is located on Birch Lake near Ely Minnesota and the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area (BWCA). They have both cabins and houseboats! located deep in the heart of the Superior National Forest. Fish, swim, and relax as you pilot your own houseboat. Watch for eagles, loons, and bears. The houseboats range and size and from $185 to $500 a night.

Timber Bay House Boat

Stone Mill Hotel & Suites are in the lovingly restored and very posh Lanesboro FEED MILL. It consists of a limestone and wood (barn-like), building. Renovated to honor their history, the buildings are reminders of Lanesboro’s significant agriculture contribution.

Stone House Mill Hotel, Lanesboro

Stone House Mill Hotel, Lanesboro

The Palmer House Hotel claims residence to a celebrity ghost! The spirit of Sinclair Lewis, a famous local author for which the town takes pride in, is said to haunt the very hotel that he was employed as a bell boy. Sauk Centre is the childhood home of Lewis. R.L. Palmer built the current hotel in 1901. The original hotel consisted of 38 rooms and one communal bathroom. The Palmer House was considered so majestic that a special contractor was hired from Minneapolis to wire the building with electricity, which many considered a novel luxury at the time. The first paranormal conference was held at The Palmer House in 2008. Hosts of the conference was Darkness On The Edge Of Town. Seminars included television celebrities Chris Fleming and Patrick Burns and Darkness Radio host Dave Schrader.

The Palmer House, Sauk Center, MN

Well, there you have it. Please let me know if you visit any of these quirky places… or learn about more!

Posted in cultural heritage, family travel, Minnesota, museum, quite unusual, Saint Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Grass Seeds Academy – March 2011

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 27, 2011

The Mighty Bow

The Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association (MBOTMA) sponsors numerous events around the state each year. We enjoy the Bluegrass Winter Festival held in Plymouth (suburb of Minneapolis) each March. Besides the hundreds of diverse acoustic musicians and bands, everywhere jams, dancing and general pleasantry there is a youth program, the Grass Seeds Academy, that offers kids a chance to learn  jamming etiquette, ensemble playing, how to play back-up and take a lead break on their instrument, plus singing lead and harmony vocals. The kids have a lot of fun, but they work hard too. They learn from gifted musicians that dedicate their time to the kids – taking ocassional breaks to perform on stage themselves. And finally they perform with their self-created bands on Sunday afternoon.

Jammin

Gettin started

This year’s faculty was The High 48’s, winners of the 2009 Rockygrass band competition.  Anthony Ihrig on banjo and resophonic guitar, Rich Casey on bass, Chad Johnson on mandolin and Eric Christopher returned for a fourth year of teaching fiddle – and some mandolin. Mark Kreitzer joined them to teach guitar. The perennial favorite, Chuck Millar was back to teach fiddle and a  little bit of everything else, too. New this year is Ryan Kimm, teaching guitar, resophonic guitar, and bass. He is an experienced teacher and the kids  loved his youthful energy and enthusiasm. Catie Jo Pidel, a former GS student plays in Ruby Magpie with Ryan and was also along as an enthusiastic teacher this year. Sandi Pidel, the Grass Seeds Coordinator, can be reached at 763-784-5286 or email grassseeds@minnesotabluegrass.org.

Little Dude, Big Bass, Joyous Noise!

The main goal of Grass Seeds is to get young people playing their instruments and loving traditional music.

Grass Seeds Academy

GSII is a new off-shoot this year of extra talented youth from 14-18. This group will work on more difficult arrangements and advanced techniques like improvisation. They will really focus in on what it takes to be part of a performing group.


The High 24s playing their version of Shenandoah Valley Breakdown

The GSII playing Wagon Wheel. Bob would be proud.

A lovely time was had by all.

Posted in cultural heritage, family travel, Minnesota, music, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

2011 Minnesota CSA Farm Directory available

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 4, 2011

2011 CSA Farm Directory

Time to find your CSA (community supported agriculture) farm delivery to ensure a nice, fresh box of goodies arrives for you each week this summer. There are dozens of farms listed in the new 2011 CSA Farm Directory!

The website includes information about each farm and a map with drop-off sites.

CSAs deliver everything from eggs, lip balm, honey, flowers, organic and heirloom vegetables, to tasty broiler chickens, salsas, pickles, lamb, jam, artisan dough breads, gluten-free baked goods and grass fed beef.

Some CSAs host member events – festivals, hootenannies, gardening, slow foods dinners, garlic festivals, corn feeds, wine tastings, walks in the woods, bonfires, hay rides, farm tours, camping, barn dances and opportunities to reconnect with the land – forests, prairies, creeks, and animals.

Check out the directory for the CSA that fits your needs. CSA farms are dedicated to healthy, fresh foods and a better planet.

Posted in Buy-local, food and wine, Minnesota, Slow Foods | 1 Comment »

Update on Twin Cities Bike-Sharing Program

Posted by deborahmclaren on March 1, 2011

Minneapolis bike-sharing program prepares to expand into St. Paul
By Frederick Melo
fmelo@pioneerpress.com
Updated: 03/01/2011 09:32:01 AM CST

Minneapolis resident Claire Bootsma sat on a ‘Nice Ride’ bike as it was parked at the rack on Nicollet Ave. at Grant Street in Minneapolis July 1, 2010. (Pioneer Press, file)

The Nice Ride Minnesota bicycle-sharing program has moved a step closer to expanding from Minneapolis into St. Paul. Although specific rental locations haven’t been identified, nearly $2 million in new federal funding and foundation support will allow the program to grow from 65 sites to more than 100 this spring.

“I think in total we’ll probably add 50 more stations this year,” said Bill Dossett, executive director of the Minneapolis-based nonprofit. “You will see stations in St. Paul, but I don’t know how many yet, and I don’t know where.”

He said an official decision is about two weeks away. Eight of the stations will be in North Minneapolis.

As for the potential location of the St. Paul sites, here’s a clue: A chunk of the new funding has come from Macalester College and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, a coalition of foundations that aims to protect the University Avenue neighborhoods around the future light-rail route being built from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis.

A series of public meetings hosted by Nice Ride Minnesota last fall generated more than 800 suggested sites.

Nice Ride, which is based out of the Midtown Bike Center along the Midtown Greenway in South Minneapolis, currently maintains 65 bicycle stations where commuters can rent bikes for short trips, mostly.

Organizers say surveys show 20 percent of the 100,000 trips taken between the program’s launch last June and November would otherwise have been taken by car.”We’re excited to see the success of the first year,” said Hilary Reeves, a spokeswoman for Transit for Livable Communities.

On Monday, Transit for Livable Communities, a St. Paul-based nonprofit organization, announced Nice Ride will receive $1 million from the Federal Highway Administration to fund the program’s expansion. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota will add $500,000 as part of a challenge pledge, and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative will put in $250,000.

Macalester College is contributing $30,000 through its High Winds Fund, which aims to improve aesthetics and security on its campus.

In total, Transit for Livable Communities announced it will award federal highway funding of $1.17 million to three capital projects. The city of Fridley will receive $110,000 to add sidewalks and bike lanes from the Northstar commuter rail station and communities to the south.

The city of Minneapolis will receive $62,000 to improve pedestrian safety on Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood.

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172.

ONLINE

More information about Nice Ride Minnesota is available at its website: NiceRideMN.org.

Posted in alternative transportation, climate solutions, green travel, Minnesota, Saint Paul, sustainable travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Quirky places to stay in Minnesota

Posted by deborahmclaren on February 12, 2011

I’ve been around the world and stayed in a lot of funky places – tree houses in Thailand, a palace in India, a boat hotel in Amsterdam – so I decided to seek out the unusual in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. Here’s some things I’ve found so far (although I haven’t stayed at all of them).

Northern Rail Train Car

There are several train inns. The Northern Rail Train Car Suites is in Two Harbors, on the North Shore of Lake Superior. It’s set on 60 forested acres just off Highway 61 (near Betty’s Pies). The rooms are housed in actual train boxcars and connected by a charming enclosed platform. The depot-style main building includes check-in, lending library and the continental breakfast area. You can rent a partial car (Porter room) or a full car. Rates vary with the seasons but are between $100 and $200 per night.

Main Lodge at MapleLag Resort

My all-time favorite place to stay in Minnesota is MapleLag Resort on the White Earth Indian Reservation (western Minnesota). It’s in the middle of a great forest and is very Scandinavian-Minnesota-like. There are lots of cabins, including some 100 year old log cabins that were relocated there and several train cars that have been renovated into cute little guest houses. Rates include skiing, equipment, a giant hot tub (seriously-it can easily accommodate 20!), and great food. There’s a huge lodge with several fire places, libraries, seating areas, beautiful stained glass windows collected from around the world, and their homemade cookies are always available.

The Switch Yard at MapleLag Resort

The Whistle Stop

Out on the west central prairie you can find The Whistle Stop in New York Mills that offers authentic train cars built at the turn of the century: dining and railroad executive cars. Cars rent from about $125 to $200 a night. There’s a cottage, Victorian Inn and tea room as well. New York Mills has an amazing little Regional Cultural Center and is home of the quirky “Great American Think-Off.

The Dreamcatcher at Ludlow's Resort - like a bird's nest!

Amphibacar at Ludlow's Resort

At Ludlow’s Resort on Lake Vermilion, the entire resort is on a Northwoods island. And they don’t have cookie-cutter cabins. Their cottages have been hand-crafted and continually improved over seven decades — and three generations of the Ludlow family. There are 20 cabins tucked away beneath the birch and pine and all are different. The Dreamcatcher, designed by SALA Architects, is unlike anything else in Minnesota. This fantastic four-story treehouse provides views of the lake and makes you feel like an Eagle in the top of the trees. They also have an Amphibacar (Northwoods 007?)! Ludlow’s is rated one of Minnesota’s top resorts. They charge by the week – starting at about $2500 and up in the summer peak season. In the spring and fall you can rent a cabin for about $250 per night (no week-long rental is required in the off season).

The "Grotto" room at the Park Street In

The Park Street Inn in Park Rapids gets a mention for their “Grotto,” which they describe as garden-level (basement) room that boasts a huge water-jet tub, a king-size bed, air conditioning, and a private bath with a waterfall sink. The grotto is completed with plants and a large stone waterfall. I have stayed there in the middle of the winter and didn’t get to see the upstairs. It truly reminded me of a place where the Flintstone’s might vacation. Rates vary from $95 to $135 for the rooms and include breakfast.

Tree House Retreat, Long Prairie, MN


Tree House Retreat

The LaVoie Tree House in Long Prairie is a hexagon shaped cabin in a tree! Set among 16 acres of wooded land owned by the LaVoie family, they built this unique guesthouse themselves. I have no idea how much it costs. I know about it through Nancy Leasman who owns the nearby Leatherwood Vinegary. By the way, if you like wineries you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that vinegar can also be as variable and tasty as wines. Leatherwood is one of the only locally-owned vinegaries in the US. You can stop in for a tasting.

Thayer's Historic and Haunted Inn!

Okay, let’s get really quirkly! Thayer’s Historic Bed n’ Breakfast in Annandale is haunted! The owner, Sharon Gammells has been an internationally known psychic for over 45 years. Sharon claims that “yes, we have ghosts, yes they visit, but, remember I live here so, NO the ghosts aren’t mean, and they are not scary, and they are not stuck, and they are not creepy.” Apparently a “Miss Lily” spirit from room 306 actually helps out during some of their paranormal classes. There are also ghost kitties.

A 2 Night Paranormal Package is $387 and includes breakfast and a one hour Psychic Reading. Most rooms are about $100 a night and if you participate in one of their scheduled Murder Mystery Dinners add another $50 per person.

Jail House Inn, Preston, MN

The Jail House Inn, originally the The Old Fillmore County Jail and Carriage House, is a National Historic Place in Preston, MN. It was built in the 1870s. The “cells” start at a very reasonable $69 and the Sheriff’s Master Bedroom and other rooms can run up to $150. It’s near the fabulous Root River – great for tubing. The Root River bike trail runs close by.

"Cell" room at the Jail House Inn

I’ll continue to find quirky little treasures and post them here. Wherever you go – snuggle in and sleep tight!

Posted in family travel, Minnesota, quite unusual, travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
%d bloggers like this: