Posted by deborahmclaren on December 30, 2012
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.”
Deborah McLaren aka TravelMomma
Posted in Buy-local, cultural heritage, ecotour, entreprenuers, microenterprise, Minnesota, Slow Foods, sustainable tourism, sustainable travel, travel | Tagged: Deborah McLaren, Local Flavor, local food, locally owned accommodations, Minnesota, slow travel, sustainable tourism, Upper Midwest, Wisconsin | Leave a Comment »
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.
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:
Takes about an hour to make
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
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: Carla Solberg Sherman, Como Lake B&B, Deborah McLaren, ketchup recipe, Local Flavor Travel, Minnesota, rhubarb ketchup, Slow Foods, St. Paul Farmers Market, St. Paul MN, Travel Momma, Wise Acre Eatery | Leave a Comment »
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: Deborah McLaren, Envision, Intuit, Intuit Love a Local Vote, Local Flavor, Local Flavor Travel, Local Flavor website, Minnesota, Small business, Travel Momma, Vote for Local Flavor | Leave a Comment »
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).
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.
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: "The Grotto" room, amphibacar, Annandale MN, B&B, Betty's Pies, Callaway MN, cross country skiing, Deborah McLaren, Duluth, Flintstone's vacation, ghost kitties, ghosts, haunted inn, Jail House Inn, Lake Vermilion, LaVoie Tree House, Leatherwood Vinegary, Long Prairie MN, Ludlow's Resort, MapleLag Resort, Minnesota, MN, Nancy Leasman, National Historic Place, New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, North Shore, Northern Rail Train Car Suites, old Fillmore Co. Jail, paranormal, Park Street Inn, physic reading, Preston, Quirky Hotels, Quirky Minnesota, Quirky places to stay, Root River, Sharon Gammells, Thayer's haunted Inn, Thayer's Historic B&B, The Great American Think-Off, The Whistle Stop, train inns, Travel Momma, tree house retreat, Two Harbors, Victorian Inn, vinegar tasting, vinegary, White Earth Indian Reservation | 3 Comments »
Posted by deborahmclaren on October 30, 2010
The Day of the Dead, celebrated on the first two days of November, is a time when Mexican families remember and honor their ancestors. Families gather in cemeteries to clean and decorate gravesites, eat and drink, and tell stories about the departed — just like a family reunion. In their homes, people set up ofrendas, or altars, dedicated to the spirits of their loved ones and covered with symbolic objects and some of their ancestors’ favorite food and drink. Friendly images — like a skeleton playing guitar — make death seem more approachable.
Ofrenda created by René Lopez, a teacher at Guadalupe Alternative Programs, for display at the Minnesota Historical Society's Dead of the Dead Celebration.
Thanks to a strong Latino community and the support of local arts organizations, every year the Twin Cities sees several Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. Every year, the Minnesota History Center hosts a celebration.
CENTRO's Day of the Dead
Latino community organization Centro offers a traditional tour of altars. (Noon-6 p.m. daily through Nov. 5. Free. 1915 Chicago Av. S., Mpls. 612-874-1412.)
Lake Street’s Mercado Central throws a traditional celebration with Aztec dancing, traditional foods, mask-making, music, candlelit procession to El Colegio and an exhibit of ofrendas by students and community members. (2-9 p.m. Mon. Free. Mercado Central, 1515 E. Lake St, Mpls. 612-728-5401.)
Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis
And continuing through Nov. 14 is the Young People’s Ofrenda Project put on by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, an exhibition featuring ofrendas created by students from urban charter school El Colegio. (Free. 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls., 612-870-3131.)
Altered Esthetics invites the community to come together and celebrate the lives of those we have lost. El Día de Los Muertos is a time to remember loved ones who have passed away and a time for families and the community to come together. Altered Esthetics is having a one-day celebration, art show and candlelight procession on November 2nd 2010. The celebration and exhibit opening will take place in the evening, from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, and is free and open to the public. The candlelight procession will take place at 8:30pm. We will begin the procession at Ae and continue around the surrounding Ae neighborhood, returning to the gallery at 9:00 PM. Artists and guests are welcome to set up their own ofrendas at Ae gallery prior to the event – we are open Saturday, October 30th 1pm-5pm and Tuesday, November 2, from 1pm-4pm. Altered Esthetics Gallery is at 1224 Quincy Street NE
A Day of the Dead Dinner will take place on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 5:30 at the Campus Club West Wing on the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus. The program is hosted by Angelica Afanador Pujol, Assistant Professor of Art History and will display Day of the Dead Folk Art. The dinner is co-sponsored by the Office of International Programs and the Campus Club. Reservations are required. Call 612-626-7788.
Posted in cultural heritage, Mexico | Tagged: Day of the Dead, Minnesota | Leave a Comment »
Posted by deborahmclaren on October 29, 2010
Looking for something chillin’ this weekend?
I’m heading to Bare Bones Theater’s all ages Halloween performance at Hidden Falls Park, along the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, MN. This year its Carnetheria, a puppet spectacle that plumbs the deep and darkest depths of a dreamlike Carnival. It’s going to be cold so we’re wearing lots of warm things and taking hot chocolate. First, we walk through the woods meeting amazing creatures and people. We find an open air theater in the middle of the woods and have a seat on hay bales. Then a spectacular puppet performance will take place in the dark woods; mysterious music provided by a live orchestra. My son, Anil, and I missed the 2009 performance so we’re looking forward to going again. Here’s
The Amazing Fire Battle!
Click here for a clip from the 2009 performance of Devoured — Spirit Puppet –Created by Soozin Hirschmugl.
As they say on their website, “Using larger-than-life puppets, shadow puppets, bike puppets, costumes, masks, song, dance, stilting, aerialism, fire artistry, and original music by a live orchestra, the BareBones Halloween Outdoor Puppet Extravaganza promises an unforgettable nighttime spectacular through the best traditions of community theater, public pageantry, and seasonal celebration.” An amazing amount of time, artistry, passion goes into the preparation, theater and music, and clean-up of the outdoor performances which are held for two weekends – the weekend before Halloween and the weekend of Halloween itself. This is a tiny peek into the magic that takes place to create these shows:
Too cold to be outdoors? Try Bomp: Bedlam Theater’s recurring dance party/caberet that will move to Nick and Eddie on Loring Park for a Halloween edition with the Moongoons (who provide ritualistic energy exchanges that concentrate the powers needed for spellcasting & party rockin. Srsly), Shannon Blowtorch, Wzz Wnshp (burlesque) and Plain Ole Bill. (10 p.m.-3 a.m. Fri. $5-$7. 18-plus.
Rainy Day Cabaret (a “cryptic” cabaret) will present “Wake the Dead” the Old Arizona Theater in Minneapolis on November 4, 5, and 6th. RDC was conceived in 2007 by Joanie Mix, as a part of the 2007 Minnesota Fringe Festival, with her production of Making Dolls. RDC is a group of emerging artists who hope to provide a new and continuing form of entertainment for any level of art enthusiast. Through the use of choreography, music, video and costume design, a dark world is generated where you are invited to come and fill your open mind.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow will be presented by the Reader’s Theatre at Oliver H. Kelley Farm, Elk River MN (directions) on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Fee: $10; Reservations: required, call 763-441-6896 , Step inside the rustic barn at the Kelley Farm for a performance of Washington Irving’s horror classic “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Performances last approximately 1 hour. Not recommended for children under 10.
Join Anil and I on Friday at Matthews Park, 2318 28th Ave. S. Minneapolis for the annual Halloween Party and Parade (4-5:30 p.m) This Seward neighborhood parade is a beloved event for the ghouls in the community as well as spirits that float in from various parts of the Twin Cities. A party with games and treats follows in the recreation center. It’s free, no registration necessary – just dress up and show up! For more information, call 612-370-4950.
The Fitzgerald Theater, St. Paul
If you’re really daring visit any of the real haunted places in the area: The Fitzgerald Theater, Forepaugh’s Restaurant, The Caves, and the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul or The Seventh Street Eatery and City Hall in Minneapolis. Twin Cities Nightclubs has a list of Halloween parties for adults.
Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!
Posted in art, family travel, quite unusual | Tagged: Barebones Theater, Bedlam Theater, Bomp, Deborah McLaren, Fitzgerald Theater, Forepaughs, Halloween, haunted houses, Joanie Mix, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minnesota State Capitol, Moon Goons, Nick and Eddie, Old Arizona Theater, Oliver H. Kelley Farm, Plain Ole Bill, Rainy Day Cabaret, Seventh Street Eater, Seward Halloween Parade, Shannon Blowtorch, spirit puppet, St. Paul, The Caves, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Travel Momma, Twin Cities, Twin Cities Nightclubs, Wzz Wnshp | Leave a Comment »
Posted by deborahmclaren on October 27, 2010
Just back from Minnesota’s great Northwoods. Avoiding corporate chain hotels for locally-owned cabins. We found a rustic cabin for $55 a night on White Lake, just north of Duluth. Newly remodeled – family spent summers and weekends there for 15+ years while kids were growing up. Don’t get up there as much anymore, so renting it out for a fair price to Minnesotans who can appreciate their low-impact business and invest directly into the local economy.
Posted in family travel, Minnesota, travel | Tagged: cabin rental, Duluth, Locally-owned, Minnesota | Leave a Comment »
Posted by deborahmclaren on October 14, 2010
Twin Cities Transition Town and Neighborhood Sustainability Networking Fair
Keynote speaker will be Richard Heinberg, author of The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies and Powerdown: Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World. Richard is a Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute.
Neighbors from Cocoran, Powderhorn, Phillips, Seward, Longfellow, Standish Ericsson and other neighborhoods from around the Twin Cities will meet with volunteers from local congregations, immigrant associations, garden clubs and student volunteers to plan how each neighborhood can build local resilience and find ways to thrive as we adapt to climate change, peak oil and economic disruption.
For more information please contact Sean Gosiewski, Alliance for Sustainability 612-331-1099 firstname.lastname@example.org , http://www.afors.org
– $5, November 13, Minneapolis, MN
Meet you there!
Posted in climate solutions, environmental education, Minnesota, Saint Paul, Volunteer | Tagged: and the Fate, Minneapolis, Minnesota, post-carbon world, Richard Heinberg, The Party's Over: Oil, Twin Cities, Twin Cities Sustainability Fair, War | Leave a Comment »
Posted by deborahmclaren on September 30, 2010
Every fall my husband Rob and I try to get out in the country for berry picking, usually near the St. Croix river just southeast of St. Paul. I love making hand-picked raspberry jam. This year I took our “friendship family” student, Ayu with us. She’s attending Univ. of St. Thomas for a year and stays in a dorm but we kind of look out for her. She’s awesome! Anil was grumpy and didn’t want to go but as soon as we picked up Ayu for the ride to the countryside he changed his attitude. She’s got that effect on everyone – cheerful and positive. It was fun driving through Minnesota prairies and by old farms. I admit my whole attitude changes too when I leave the city. There’s nothing like fresh air, being in nature, and being away from work and home obligations. Yeah!!!
Ayu ready for a hay ride
We drove to Afton Apple farm and noticed there were very few cars in the lot – normally there might be dozens. Unfortunately we learned a summer hail storm had destroyed much of their apple orchard and raspberry patch. We were determined to glean what we could from the field. We picked for over an hour and only got about a quart each – 3 quarts in all (Anil played while we picked). Most of the berries were small and not ripe yet. The patch had a few surprises though. It was full of spiders – a type I haven’t seen before. Let me know if you can identify this spider.
Raspberry loving spider
Afton Apple is really suffering this year. Some other orchards in the area have provided them with apples to sell that keeps them afloat. And they aren’t making anything on their raspberries. They still had a lot of goodies in their market – cheese curds, jams, everything needed for canning, pies and fresh cider. The animals in the petting zoo are still there. It’s always fun to see them. My favorite this year was a cute little black calf.
Playing in the hay!
The farm workers were happy to have some guests. They are always friendly there, but without the crowd this year they happily chatted away and pointed out the pumpkin field when we were on the hay ride. The pumpkins looked smaller than usually but fine. Hopefully they will have good sales. It was a lot of fun taking Ayu to the farm. She loved picking berries. She was determined!
We ended up getting raspberries from an organic market in Minneapolis and spent the rest of the weekend making jam. Yum!
Locally-owned farms are disappearing. Afton Apple tries to offer a mix of things to get people to come out. It’s a good thing this year when they have suffered because of hail. Please support small farms and get out to one near you today. This is the harvest season so no doubt there’s pumpkins, hay rides, corn maizes, and maybe some Halloween tricks or treats awaiting you! Click here to get a directory of Minnesota farms. Sunny skies are predicted for the rest of this week!
Posted in Buy-local, Minnesota, Uncategorized | Tagged: Afton Apple, Deborah McLaren, fall, Minnesota, Minnesota farms, pick your own, raspberries, support family farms, Travel Momma | Leave a Comment »