January Local Foods at the mid-continent 45th Parallel


January 2010 Local Food at -30 degrees.jpg
Farm "fresh" foods in January 2010 at -30 degree F

My husband's ancestors come from a village in Norway north of the Arctic Circle. In my mind I imagined it would be a relief to move to Minnesota- way down by the 45th parallel. That was until someone pointed out that the ocean moderates Tromso Norway's weather- as a result the all time record setting cold temperature is -4 degree F. Here we sit midcontinent- 120 years later and 25 degrees colder.

What's more- I recall sitting in the Cabin Cafe in Clinton listening to an elder tell how her grandfather moved here from Norway at the turn of the 20th century. In Norway he had electricity. He lived in Big Stone County for another 30 years before his farm was electrified. "Imagine" she said "having to go back to living without electricity after having it in Norway!"

Here we are in January 2010, -30 F, still eating as much local foods as possible. And doing fine. However, the "fresh" squash, apples, beets, and cabbages in the pantry have to be processed or lost. I'm dehydrating tray upon tray of apple rings, making yet more apple sauce, and cooking all things apple. The patrilineal side of Mike's family is at odds with any vegetables in the cruciferous family (cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, only a little brocolli thank you). If I serve saurkraut for a meal it has to be covered at all time. So using the cabbage is tricky.

Last night we had a nice 90% local meal in January. The appetizer was crackers with sweet jalepeno relish, pickled green and yellow beans, and chokeberry wine. For dinner we had sauted beets, sweet corn, potatoes, sweet pickle and jalepeno relish over kielbasa sasuage. Dessert was apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream.

A couple nights ago we ate two of our ducks. They tasted fine roasted- but we wondered whether they were really worth the effort of raising. I used the leftover duck to make a duck confit (olive oil and thyme stewed duck meat) and tossed it with pasta and shredded parmesean cheese and served with roasted beets. That maybe tipped us to trying the ducks again next year.

Well my early riser is up and it's time to work on a puzzle or pull out the Candy Land.

Best hopes for a Happy New Year to you and yours.


I enjoy your food postings, and suppose with enough of the chokeberry wine those repeated meals of beets would become more tolerable.

But spurred on by a NY Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/dining/27cann.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=home%20canning&st=cse and memories of my grandparents' cellars I now have a copy of Well Preserved http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/05/cook-the-book-well-preserved-eugenia-bone.html on my nightstand and am planning a deeper foray into home canning myself, beginning by pickling some local lemons in salt. When they are fresh at the market almost all year long I wonder why. But then why not? Perhaps so I do not have to try the sauerkraut recipe!

Stay warm.

Hello Kathy! and Happy New Year to you and your family! Your writings bring such warmth to my heart. Your postings are beautiful and tender - and reflect the stuggles, commitment and love you have for your rural home. Your words take me outside of my work, and away from looking across the street near my office at the retail sprawl, and remind me there are people and communities like the ones you describe making a different choice. Thank you!
Please keep writing - and sharing your days, thoughts and books.
May God continue to bless you and your family in the new year -



I distinctly remember sitting at a party with you somewhere in the Cities and you were enjoying a cold beet and sour cream salad. There are so many delightful ways to cook beets.

One of my grand beet failures is the 17 quarts (4 gallons and 1 quart!!) of beet/bean borscht I made and canned. It is barely edible with big a big dollup of sour cream and lots of dill sprinkled on top. 2 quarts down- 15 to go!!

How great that you are getting into food preservation- it's my favorite hobby. I'm moving towards finding more energy efficient ways to preserve- like drying and storing in oil-- or SALT like you are doing with the lemons.

The salted lemons are divine in hummus and will last you a couple years- at least. I need to make another batch myself.

Best hopes Dan to you and yours for a happy new year. Our holiday cards are still not out- miss seeing what you are up to.


Your note came at the perfect time. I started to wonder whether I was running out of material :-)

Now I have about three more entries cued up- if I can find time to write them.

I miss you and hope that we can get together soon. Thank you for your constant encouragement through the YEARS.

Your friend...

That "at odds with any vegetables in the cruciferous family" is a gem. This hits home with me as well: emailing recently with college friends from my "biology" days, one a leading heart surgeon and the other a specialist in vitamin supplements and dietary care. Doctor Heart says "People too often eat for reasons that have nothing to do with hunger, and then make bad choices about what to eat. We live in such a land of plenty. Who could have imagined a time and place where life was so easy food was so readily abundant that we would have to have such a mantra. I tell my patients 'Eat less, do more.'" Mr. Vitamin says "when we get older, our cells begin to function improperly... this occurs earlier than it might due to a diet that doesn't really match our genetic coding (grains, sugar, legumes, and grain-fed animal meat). About all that can be done later on is to use supplements and some drugs that help manage disease and prolong life or make it comfortable." So it would appear that we are victims of our own success. Many of our immigrant forefathers were hungry in the Old Country, then their children were hungry again during the Great Depression, so EAT because we have plenty. As you diplomatically allude to "eat more green veggies" so we should. I wasted some apples this fall (one spoiling the other) plus some squash. No more. Or in a moment of hurried weakness there's always the advice of another friend: "I always take a Lipitor after a Big Mac." Keep doing what you're doing. The process of preparing and eating better is part of the therapy and, even better is the fellowship that I'm sure our forefathers and mothers found to be the best part of the day (Charlie & Kristi's beermaking comes to mind).

Interesting comments/observations Dale. But legumes? I consider legumes among the most health of foods and do my part to raise the national average consumption by feeding them often to my family. Black bean soup, falafel, lentils, dahl, etc...

I definately raise a toast and Hurrah! to the fellowship around Charlie and Kristi's home brew!

nice article, thank you

Was using this goto a random blog feature on randomizer and ended up here, a terrific way to read something new like this. Thanks for taking your time and efforts to create this blogpost.

Hmmmmm, lots of beets. I guess you could say they are my least favorite veggie. My husband (who loves them) hasn't seen a beet for the last 27 years of our marriage. However, the thought of canning whole lemons REALLY sounds interesting. My profession is selling fine extra virgin olive oil, which is a passion of mine. I must have 25 different bottles on my kitchen counter as we speak. I pour it over just about everything. I enjoy what it does to food as well as what it does for my heart. Perhaps now that I am retired, I might try my hand at canning....maybe even beets!

What do you get when you cross ESP with PMS? A bitch who knows everything.

I feel the content itself shouldn't be the emergence of it, but is causing the emergence of something at a higher level?

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on January 2, 2010 6:07 AM.

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