Food, Community And All Things Sustainable

November 27, 2011

Santa and the Parade of Lights 2011

Friends know how bonkers I can go over a parade. And I'm a nut when it comes to Santa. I had such good experiences with Santa as a child. Not because he brought us scads of gifts, because he did not. He came to our house every Christmas with a few gifts, the biggest oranges and fifty-cent pieces. Sweet memories for me.

Here are a few (poor quality) of photos of Santa and his two helpers astride horses in the staging area for the 2011 Parade of Lights.


Photos taken in the staging area - 28 floats, many with generators crowded into a parking lot - talk about an exhaust buzz! It was exhilarating waiting for the start of the parade - and duct taping and re-duct taping connections on the float.

And then there was the crowd downtown. Note how close they stood to us. We were in a pick-up towing a car trailer. Several semis had to navigate that crowded street!

It was fun. Made me want to go home and bake cookies and sweet breads to share.


September 4, 2011

End of the Season

Spent an evening attending the end-of-the-season performance by Uncle Roy and the Boys. Cool night with breezes blowing in from the Missouri River. It has been enjoyable to attend these outdoor performances this summer and to sit at the table with family and friends of the band. Already looking forward to next year's performances.

August 30, 2011

Cultural Event

Here's a reposing of an article written in 2008 and posted on another of my blogs.  Made me smile when I read it, so I want to share it...again. Links to photos have been removed as they were sadly outdated and I have no other photos to post.

Wow! What an incredible day at the local farmers and artisans market - just imagine one of the largest farmers markets in the area coupled with a car show! Two dynamite events.

My friend J, a Hmong man who came to this area as a teenaged refugee over 20 years ago, sells egg rolls in the booth next to ours. He was surprised to see the turn out at the car show and asked me if I knew the anticipated attendance. I was surprised to hear him use the word "anticipated". I was unaware he knew the word - obviously his English skills have improved greatly in the past few years. So, we chatted about the anticipated attendance, and then he asked what is the purpose of this "car show" gathering?

I stumbled around just a bit trying to explain just what is a car show. J wanted to know if there was a money prize for the best car. At Hmong festivals there is frequently a cash prize for the best soccer team, or badminton team or dance team. He seemed puzzled when I told him no cash prize at this event.

Well, I thought I'd try to explain why the car show was such a big deal that hundreds of classic cars would show up along with thousands of admirers. So I pointed out a 60-something year-old lady who was dressed as a bobby soxer - hair in a pony tail held in place by the folded scarf, white shirt - untucked, of course, blue jeans rolled up into big cuffs, white socks and tennies. I said - that's how she would have dressed as a teenager in 1957 - and that car she's standing next to would have been a popular car in 1957. Ah, J said, nodding that now I get it head-nod. He said, "This is a cultural event - you are showing your children how you used to live."

Ah, yes. Although I've never quite heard of a car show referred to in that manner, J did indeed get it right - it's a .....cultural event

Freezing Tomatoes

Freezing is an easy way to preserve tomatoes, and it takes much less time than canning tomatoes. There is no need to blanch or remove the skin before freezing.

Frozen tomatoes retain their fresh picked flavor, and make a tasty ingredient in any recipe calling for tomatoes - tomato sauce, marina sauce, soups and stews.

For best results use vacuum seal bags, plastic bags or rigid plastic containers designed for use in the freezer. 

Knife – used to remove core and any bad spots
Cookie sheet
Freezer safe containers

Fresh tomatoes

  • Wash tomatoes.
  • Remove the core and cut out any bad spots.
  • Place tomatoes on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to freeze. Note: Taking this step will prevent tomatoes from sticking to one another, making it easier to use just one or two tomatoes rather than having to thaw a block of frozen stuck-together tomatoes.
  • Remove tomatoes from freezer.
  • Insert into freezer safe container.
  • Return to freezer.

How to remove skin from frozen tomatoes:
  • Remove desired number of tomatoes from the freezer.
  • Place the tomatoes in a bowl of cold water.
  • Allow to sit for up to 5 minutes – the skin will begin to crack.
  • Use a knife or your fingers to remove the skins.

August 29, 2011

Freezing Beans - Green, Wax and Snap

A quick and easy way to preserve beans is by freezing.  A few easy steps can make it possible for your family to enjoy beans throughout the winter months. Use fresh picked beans from your garden or the local farmers market.

For best results use vacuum seal bags, plastic bags or rigid plastic containers designed for use in the freezer.  Package according to your family’s needs: pint bags or containers hold 2 cups, quarts hold 4 cups.

The beans should be blanched and cooled before freezing. Lacking a blancher, use a kettle.
A handy chart provided by National Center for Home Food Preservation shows blanching times for various vegetables.

If you are new to blanching or need a refresher, read Blanching How-To

Freezing Beans

Large bowl of cold water
Freezer safe containers
Sharp knife for cutting beans to length

Fresh picked beans

  • Wash and drain beans.
  • Remove stem end and the little “tail” at the opposite end with a sharp knife, or by snapping them off with your fingers.
  • Cut or snap the beans into 1” or 2” pieces.
  • Blanch for 3 minutes.
  • Remove from blancher and put into bowl of cold water.
  • Drain and put into freezer container.
  • Put containers in the freezer.

Canning Action

With help from Tyra, Alysha and Alex, WOOFers at Muddy Pumpkin Farms, this is what went into jars in a five hour period. The final shot is short a few jars. One batch in the canner, and another waiting to go in. Hal and Mark were kept busy bring stuff in and checking on us.

We're going to call it a good day's work.

August 27, 2011

Farmers Market Action

Action at the farmers market. Particularly like that Bijou Hills Grassfed Meats posts their Mission Statement for all to see. Watch for LeAnn Werner of Muddy Pumpkin Farm showing off a double goldie heirloom tomato - 3.5 pounds - and a "pinocchio" eggplant. Happy Hydros' "Buy Fresh Buy Local" signage is almost as awesome as their hydroponic produce!

August 26, 2011

Sauted Green Beans

Serves four. A new way to serve an old standard - green beans. Easy and delicious gourmet cooking right at home.

Blancher or kettle
Bowl of cold water to cool green beans after blanching
Saute pan

One-half pound fresh green beans (two good handfuls)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
Sea salt

  • Blanch beans for 2 minutes 
  • (Lacking a blancher: Put enough water in a kettle so that it will cover the beans. Put on medium heat and bring to boil. Add beans and blanch for 2 minutes.)
  • Remove beans from water and put into cold water.
  • Drain beans.
  • Place saute pan on medium heat.
  • Add olive oil and garlic.
  • When oil is warm, add beans.
  • Saute, stirring frequently, until beans are crisp-tender, about 5 - 7 minutes.
  • Add bread crumbs,stir and saute an additional 30 seconds.
  • Plate up and enjoy!

Fresh Corn Salsa

Four ingredients, all fresh from the garden or the local farmers' market.

A sharp knife for removing corn kernels from the cob
Kettle for par boiling corn
Tongs for removing corn from kettle
Pan of cold water for cooling down corn after par boiling

2 cobs of corn
4 medium sized heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 medium sized purple onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
Sea salt (optional)

  • Husk corn and remove silk
  • Place a plan of water on medium high heat and bring to a boil
  • Carefully place corn in boiling water, using tongs
    Par boil corn for 2 - 3 minutes
  • Remove corn from boiling water and place in cold water to stop the cooking process
  • When cool enough to handle, use sharp knife to remove corn from cob
  • Place corn kernels in a bowl
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Mix
  • Enjoy!

August 25, 2011


Nothing says summer fresh garden like Gazpacho, a cold Spanish soup of garden fresh vegetables and bread.
A few ingredients fresh from the garden or farmers market, a bit of peeling and chopping and there you have it...gazpacho.

Food processor or a sharp chef's knife to finely chop all ingredients

1 cucumber
6 red and yellow tomatoes
3 red and yellow peppers
2 garlic cloves
1 medium purple onion
1 small bunch cilantro
Sea salt

  • Peel, seed and chop cucumber
  • Peel, seed and chop tomatoes
  • Peel and smash the garlic
  • Pick over the cilantro to remove any damaged or dead leaves. Use only leaves, reserve stems for another recipe.
  • Put all items into food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached.
Pour into glass and enjoy. Store is covered glass jar in refrigerator. Eat within a day or two.
Gazpacho by the quart

August 24, 2011


Over run with pear or cherry tomatoes? 

Make tomato marmalade.  

What does one do with tomato marmalade? Spread it on toasted herb bread, or place a dab atop a slice of goat cheese on a cracker, or use as a condiment for a beef sandwich.  So goood......

Tomato marmalade can be simple – tomatoes and sugar boiled together until thick.  Herbs, such as rosemary, oregano or thyme can be added, and will enhance the flavor.

The formula:
  • For every pound of tomatoes, use a pound of sugar.
  • For every pound of sugar, use ½ cup water.
  • For every pound of tomatoes, use one bunch of herbs, ¼ cup or more, optional.
  • Yield: 1 half-pint jar for every pint or .75 pounds of pear or cherry tomatoes.  
  • One pint of tomatoes equals .75 pounds.
  • One pound of sugar equals 2.25 cups.

Yield: 4 half-pint jars

Kettle for cooking marmalade
Canner with jar rack and lid
4 sterilized half-pint jars with lids and bands
Jar lifter
Magnetized lid lifter
Small kettle for preparing hot lids

Herbs, optional
4 pints or 3 pounds pear or cherry tomatoes
3 pounds or 6.75 cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
Sherry vinegar or balsamic vinegar, optional

    • Wash tomatoes and remove stems.
    • Remove dead leaves from herbs, wash.
    • Put water, sugar and herbs (optional) into the kettle.
    • Put kettle on medium heat and stir to keep sugar from sticking.
    • Bring mixture to boil and boil for 1 minute.
    • Add tomatoes.
    • Leave lid off and do not stir.
    • Allow mixture to simmer, without stirring. The liquid will become clear as the tomatoes begin to sweat out their juice.
    • Cook until thick. Decreasing heat if necessary.
    • When the mixture begins to carmelize – taking on a brownish color - add a splash of sherry vinegar and stir.
    • Ladle hot marmalade into jars, leaving ½” head space.
    • Wipe the rim with a clean damp cloth.
    • Apply a hot lid and band.
    • Using a jar lifter, put jars into a boiling water bath canner.
    • Process in a boiling water bath: 10 minutes for half-pints.
    • Using a jar lifter, remove jars from canner and place atop a towel in a draft free area.
    • Listen for the ‘ping’ that indicates the jar is sealed.
    • When cool, press on the center of the lid to check for a seal – lid will be concave and have no “give.”
    • Remove band and reuse. 
    • Wipe jar and store in pantry.

    If you are new to canning or need a refresher, check out these articles on Sustainable Dakota Digest:

    Home Canning: How to Get Started

    First learned about tomato marmalade at Culiblog. Have been a fan ever since.

    August 20, 2011


    Another good day at the farmers market with Muddy Pumpkin Farm touting the benefits of beyond organic, food as community and food as a connector.

    August 18, 2011


    One of the demonstrations at the farmers market last week was constructing a rain barrel from a plastic garbage can.  Amy zipped through it so fast that I was not able to get down there to take photos - we had a gaggle of customers to take care of at that very moment.

    So Amy stopped over at our booth to show off the newly constructed rain barrel.  She says she hangs out at the market on Saturday because it's a really cool place to be. She is right!


    The foray to the farmers market on Saturday was incredible on many levels.

    Plenty of vendors, good product, live-radio broadcasts, sustainable demos - canning and rain barrels, and a totally festive atmosphere.

    One customer brought over a sample of kale chips she made with kale purchased the week before.

    Delicious!  And she shared the recipe she adapted.

    Sorry, no photos.  Too busy making and enjoying kale chips.

    Kale Chips

    Amazingly these kale chips taste as if they are sprinkled with cheese.  Yet, cheese is not an ingredient.

    1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
    1 or 2 bunches curly kale
    1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours
    1 large tomato, seeds removed
    Juice of 1 large lemon
    1/3 cup nutritional or brewer’s yeast
    Sea salt and pepper to taste

    1.       Remove stems from kale and use in another recipe.
    2.       Tear kale into bite size pieces.
    3.       Rinse to remove any dirt and spin dry in a salad spinner.
    4.       In a food processor, process cashews and lemon juice into a paste.
    5.       Add the red bell pepper, yeast, salt and pepper
    6.       Process until smooth.
    7.       Place kale pieces and half of the mixture in a large bowl.
    8.       Massage the mixture into the kale pieces – massage each leaf individually.
    9.       Add more of the mixture as needed.
    10.    Place kale pieces on dehydrator trays being careful to not overlap pieces.
    11.    Dehydrate at 110 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 6 hours.
    12.    Store in air tight container.

    Adapted by Beth J

    August 17, 2011

    Canning extravaganza as community building

    Canning extravaganza and the building of a community.

    That sounds like a good title for an article on the value of creating good food and sharing that with a community of willing learners. The article is coming, the photos are here.

    August 13, 2011

    Mitchell Farmers Market - National Farmers Market Day

    The Mitchell Farmers Market continues to grow and expand. It celebrated National Farmers Market Day with live radio broadcasts, demonstrations and plenty of vendor action. Here's some shots. Sorry, too busy at the height of the market to get any good crowd shots. Believe me there were crowds today.

    August 12, 2011

    Vacation Bible School

    Trinity Lutheran and United Church of Christ, Chamberlain, SD. Performance at Trinity Lutheran, followed by an ice cream social.  A total energy night!

    Apologies for the dark shots - camera was not on its best behavior. And then the photographer was too busy eating ice cream to get a good shot of the room packed with fellow ice cream eaters.

    Farmers Market

    Chamberlain, SD - wonderful produce, meats, and baked goods. End of market day shots.

    Bent Spatula
    Happy Hydros, LLC
    Platte Hutterite Colony
    Bijou Hills Grass Fed Meat (Larry Wagner)
    Muddy Pumpkin Farms

    July 25, 2011

    Grandma's Pickling Spice Recipe

    Grandma was known for her kitchen skills. People sent her letters with special requests for her canned goods. They knew a good thing when they tasted it!

    Grandma's Pickling Spice Recipe
    2 Tablespoons Mustard Seeds
    2 Tablespoons Whole Allspice
    2 Teaspoons Coriander Seeds
    2 Teaspoons Whole Cloves
    1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
    1 Teaspoon Dried Red Pepper Flakes (or more if you like more heat)
    1 Bay Leaf, Crumbled
    1 Cinnamon Stick, 2 Inches In Length

     We never purchased pickling spice at the grocery store. I didn't realize one could do that until I was well into my 20s.

    July 6, 2011

    Home Canning ... Another Word for Sustainable

    So very happy to see Sustainable Dakota Digest published an article I wrote for them: Home Canning: How to Get Started.

    Sustainable Dakota Digest is designed to foster sustainability in Western Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Northern Nebraska.

    Facebook: Sustainable Dakota Digest
    Twitter: SD Digest, hashtag #sustainsd

    July 4, 2011

    Canning - A Way of Life

    The truth be told, I cannot remember when I stared canning. What I do remember is that home canned food sure tasted good. In our multi-generational home, Grandma canned enough for us to eat all winter and then some. As 6- and 7-year olds we were stationed at wash tubs to clean cucumbers, tomatoes, beets and more. Swathed in an apron, standing on a little wooden stool, armed with a vegetable brush and a square of muslin we worked away at our task. It was a big deal to be promoted to jar stuffer as a 9- or 10-year old. Teenagers managed the loading and unloading of the hug copper boilers loaded down with 20 or more jars of pure goodness.

    We were never without food, could feed unexpected company by opening a few jars, and had plenty of fancy canned things for gifting. Grandma categorized relishes, chutneys, certain jams and jellies and her famous pickled beets as fancy canned - not everyday fair, intended for gifts or eating on special days.

    My dream is to start a canning school, to teach a skill I learned as a child, and from which I have benefited my entire life.

    June 30, 2011

    Chamberlain, SD in Stare Down with Missouri River Over Boat Ramps

    In a Stare Down with rising flood waters on the Lake Francis Case portion of the Missouri River, the city of Chamberlain has erected a temporary boat ramp – with proper permits from the Game, Fish and Parks Department. The permanent boat ramps at American Creek Marina and American Creek Campground have been closed.  

    American Creek Campground is under seven feet of water, so you simply cannot access the permanent boat ramp. Water is so high that boats cannot go under the American Creek Bridge to access the marina. Well, that really doesn’t matter, as that boat ramp is also underwater.

    The temporary boat ramp was erected using the entrance to American Creek Campground. The natural incline of the entrance makes this a logical choice.  “Use at your own risk.” says Mayor Doug Nelson. Boaters are smiling a bit more these days.

    Here’s a before shot of the location for the temporary ramp.  Trees way in the background mark the usual location of the Missouri River.  In the 5 days since this photo was taken, flood waters have risen to the gate.  We are being told it will be better in August, maybe September.  In the meantime – get yer boat out on the River and enjoy yourself.

    June 27, 2011

    Chive Blossom Vinegar

    It is so easy to make Chive Blossom Vinegar.

    Pick chive blossoms - you will need enough to fill a glass jar. Pull off the little paper wings at the bottom of the blossom.  Rinse the blossoms, and dry them - a salad spinner works great for this step.

    Pack chive blossoms into the jar. Pour enough white vinegar into the jar to cover the blossoms. Screw on jar cover. Allow to steep for 2 - 3 weeks in a dark place. A cupboard is a good place. Resulting vinegar will be a lovely shade of lavendar and will taste like - well, chive blossoms.

    Strain the vinegar, toss the blossoms. Add a spring or two of chives with blossoms attached to a bottle, pour in the chive blossom vinegar.  There you have it...a lovely lavender colored chive blossom vinegar suitable for gifting. 

    June 26, 2011

    Urban gardening

    Last week I rang up my friend Mark from Muddy Pumpkin Farms, and asked if by chance he was coming near my place of work and could I please order some fresh veggies.

    Well, not only was he coming my way, he was able to deliver the order directly to my house.  Part of the order was "lettuce, whatever you have. I love lettuce." Well, for the settled upon price, I received* broccoli, cilantro, scallions, fresh garlic, snow peas, kale, potatoes, radishes and a pot of lettuces.  Yup, that's right...a pot of lettuces. (*I'm thinking I've forgotten an item or two, but most of the produce is already consumed, so I can't check the refrigerator for the forgotten item.)

    My little urban garden looks so cute on the front step.  I can just hop outside and harvest the leaves I want. A daily watering and I'm set for lettuce for the season - thanks, Mark.

    Oh, and that pot of lettuce has attracted inquisitive neighbors who come up the walk to see what kind of flowers I'm growing.  It gives me a chance to talk to them about container gardening and what we can raise right on our front step...thanks Mark! And then I put in a plug for Muddy Pumpkin Farm.

    Back in the saddle as an urban gardener and educator...well sort of. And that little urban garden was moved out onto the sidewalk today to take advantage of the day's on and off rain.

    They Said It Wouldn't Happen

    Despite being told the Missouri River flooding this year would be less than what was experienced last year in Chamberlain, a record flood is happening.

    The water rose several feet in just a couple days, forcing officials and hundreds of volunteers in Chamberlain and Oacoma to construct levees and sandbag utilities in an effort to hold back Missouri River flood waters.

    If you are the praying type, please pray for us, and everyone affected by high water this year - there is another post coming on that. If you are not the praying type, send us good vibes and think good thoughts of us.

    And please, volunteer - do something to help someone who needs help. Yes, I know you can't rush over here to help. Help in your community. Someone needs you today.

    Now the photographic proof.  The Missouri River waters have risen up to the gate into American Creek Campground.  The trees way in the background - that's where the Missouri River is supposed to be.  All that water between those trees and the gate is the campground. Drowned out, unusable until August - that's what we are being told.  Like I said. Please pray for us.

    June 20, 2011

    South Dakota Tractor Museum

    One of my favorite Kimball, South Dakota places to visit is the South Dakota Tractor Museum.  And my favorite display area is the "Women's Building"... it's also the best kept secret at the museum.  Walking into the Women's Building is like walking into my grandma's house. A favorite piece is the Hoosier kitchen cabinet, just like the one grandma had in her farm kitchen.

    So much more is on display - feed sack clothing, musical instruments, equipment for washing clothes, ladies hats, handiwork. The bedroom, living room and kitchen displays can keep you busy all day - "Grandma had one of those." "Aunt Martha had one of those." - you get the idea. It is truly a walk down memory lane.

    When visiting the museum, I've often encountered women out in the parking lot, sitting in a vehicle reading a book or magazine - unaware of the Women's Building which lacks signage.  Invited inside, they often spend more time in the museum than does their husband.

    Ladies, when the man decides to visit the South Dakota Tractor Museum, there is no reason to stay in the vehicle because you are really not all that into tractors and such.

    The Women's Building is at the rear of the Visitor Center, which also houses a Gift Shop full of locally made items and a used book corner. One other item you might want to check out amongst the farm equipment is a grasshopper chewed fence post from the 'Dirty 30s' will be surprised at what grasshoppers can do! Just ask one of the museum guides to show it to you.  If I don't mention the blacksmith shop and one-room school, those museum guides are going to me I'm mentioning them.

    The South Dakota Tractor Museum is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, 9:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Sundays. Guided tours available. No admission charged, donations appreciated. Interstate 90, exit 284 at Kimball, SD.

    May 28, 2011

    Flooding in Pierre/Ft. Pierre #Oahe Flood

    6:00 p.m. Update: It keeps getting worse. We learned tonight that the Corps will be releasing water at the rate of 150,000 cfs. (No, not a typo.) River is expected to crest 7 feet above flood stage. Flooding expected to be worse than the 1952 flood, which inundated Pierre and Ft. Pierre. Morris Construction is hiring truck drivers and front end loader operators to help build emergency levees. Volunteers are needed.  And, please go to the area ONLY if you are there to volunteer.
    2:30 p.m. Update: Sadly, it is not looking good. Gen. McMahon of the Corps says, "This is the most serious event this part of the Missouri River basin has faced, ever."   In addition, the governor is asking those traveling to Pierre/Ft. Pierre to avoid Hwy 83 and use Hwy 14 or Hwy 34. (My opinion is: it's better to be a volunteer than a gawker. If you are not there to help, stay home and stay out of the way.)

    Gen. McMahon of the Corps: "This is the most serious event this part of the Missouri River basin has faced, ever." 

    #OaheFlood on Twitter will get you the latest updates on the flooding in Pierre and Fort Pierre.

    Currently the Army Corps of Engineers is releasing 65,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water through the Lake Oahe Dam. Heard it described yesterday like this: a basketball is about one cubic foot. Just imagine 65,000 basketballs blowing by you in one second.

    Emergency levees are being constructed on both sides of the Missouri River in Pierre and Ft. Pierre. City governments are constructing levees and sandbagging public utilities and other infrastructure. Private citizens are working feverishly to save their homes and possessions. Some have packed up and moved out.  Low lying areas experienced flooding yesterday.

    Overnight the COE released some not so good news. Rain in the forecast means a ramping up of the release rate. With up to 3 inches of rain forecast for this weekend, Garrison Dam in Bismarck will increase their release to 120,000 cfs. This means Oahe and all dams downstream must follow suit.  This could cause levee failures.  The governor is telling residents to not depend on the levees saving their homes. He said to be "self-reliant" when it comes to saving their homes.

    Pierre, Ft. Pierre and communities downstream WILL be flooded.

    Please, if you can, volunteer.  Pierre and Ft. Pierre have an immediate need. And so do communities downstream.

    Flood information is found at

    To volunteer in Pierre or Ft. Pierre call the Chamber of Commerce at 605.773.7361

    Flood information is also available at 866.446.5324.

    May 21, 2011

    Community Theater

    Come on out and enjoy some good community fun...

    click image to enlarge

    Signs of the time

    Seen around town in support of our local service personnel recently deployed with the 200th Engineer Company.

    May 16, 2011

    200th EN CO

    A slide show of the incredible parade for the 200th EN CO can be found on the 200th Camo Quilt Project blog,

    Over there you will also find photos of four ordinary looking buses cruising down the interstate ...

    May 10, 2011

    Community Appreciation Ceremony and Remembrance

    A big community appreciation ceremony is planned for soldiers in the Chamberlain unit of the 200th Engineer Company of the South Dakota Army National Guard.  Part of me really wants to be in the convoy from Chamberlain to Pierre.  As difficult as all this is for everyone in our area, it was made all the more sad when we learned that Jared Roe, only 19 years old and a member of the 200th has passed away in a swimming accident.  Now the ceremony will include a remembrance. Our sympathies to Jared's family and our prayers for all the soldiers and their families.

    April 4, 2011

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Thursday, April 4, 1968.  I can remember the shock I felt listening to Walter Cronkite telling us that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated in Memphis, TN.  He was there in support of striking black sanitation workers.

    I knew my life would never be the same, our nation had changed. And I instinctively knew this event meant that I was probably not going on my senior class trip. We were scheduled to leave the next week for Washington, DC and New York.

    We stayed glued to the television over the next few days, watching as our nation came unglued over Dr. King's assassination. Cousins living in Milwaukee left to avoid the unrest, others wished they could.

    I did finally go on that (postponed) class trip after a huge strung out argument with the whole family. Against orders from my mother, other family members, and against an agreement signed with the school to not stray from the trip itinerary, I spent every free moment observing the burned out neighborhoods that resulted from the riots following Dr. King's death.

    I remember that first glimpse of blocks of burned out homes and businesses. I remember asking the black man sitting next to me on the bus, "Why?"  I remember what he told me. I remember the lack of anger in his voice. I was changed in that moment. I have never been the same.

    "There comes a time when silence is betrayal." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    March 15, 2011

    Sleeping Beauty

    Each spring Missoula Children's Theater works with students at Kimball school on a musical production. This year it's Sleeping Beauty.  

    Performances are Saturday, Mar. 19 at 4 p.m. and  7 p.m. in the Kiote Den.  And I'm hoping there will be a meal between performances. 

    Missoula Children's Theater

    March 6, 2011

    Serandepity, What Exactly Is It?

    Huge fan of Michael Feldman's Whad'ya Know?, yes I am. Been listening to the radio show since it started way back in '85.
    Serandepity happened last week while I was tuned into Whad'ya Know...listening and laughing along...whilst working on an article about the South Dakota Hall of Fame - if you have not visited you need to...and that's a whole 'nother story.

    You can listen in to what Michael has to say about all that by clicking on this Whad'ya Know link. The action starts at about 1:35.

    Michael, YOU ROCK!

    March 5, 2011

    Great grandma's Molasses Cake Recipe

    Oh, my great-grandmother made the most delicious molasses cake!  And she mixed it by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon.  No electrical appliances for her.  Today, I use that same bowl in my kitchen.  Here's her recipe. Enjoy big pieces of this cake, it's good for you.

    Molasses Cake
    1 cup blackstrap molasses
    1 cup cold water
    1 cup sugar
    3 teaspoons ginger, more if you really like ginger
    1 teaspoon allspice
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
    3 1/2 cups flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    1. Cream butter and sugar.
    2. Add molasses and eggs and beat well.
    3. Add water and beat well.
    4. Mix together dry ingredients (flour, ginger, allspice, salt, baking soda).
    5. Add dry ingredients and water, a little at a time, and beat well.
    6. Don't make batter too stiff. Add more water if needed.
    7. Pour into buttered 9 x 13 cake pan or 2 round pans.
    8. Bake at 325 for 35 min.  Test with toothpick to make sure cake is done.  This is a dense cake.

    Enjoy.  I like mine with milk or warm tea.  Frosting is an option. 

    If blackstrap molasses is too strong tasting for you, use light molasses.  Gingersnap blend from The Spice House is a good substitute for the ginger and allspice.

    February 13, 2011

    World News

    In July Southern Sudanese voted on whether or not they wanted independence.  The world learned the results on February 7th:  98.8% of those voting wanted independence. Decisive to say the least, and extremely good news for those wanting independence.

    This past week after 18 days of intense protests calling for his resignation, Hosni Mubarak did just that: resigned as President of Egypt.

    Two historic world events, wouldn't you agree?

    It has made me incredibly sad to be surrounded by folks who don't care, are not interested, and wonder what this has to do with them. I'm not guessing what they are thinking or feeling, they are telling me this - in very plain and sometimes profane language.

    Why are we not interested when a nation gains its freedom in a peaceful fashion? Why are we not interested when a dictator is overthrown with minimal bloodshed on those last 18 days of his power.  Why?

    I have my ideas...what are yours?

    January 6, 2011


    Today is Epiphany, the day my Grandmother always took down the Christmas tree and all the other Christmas decorations no.matter.what.  Fondly remembering removing tinsel from the tree so we could use it the following year, and wrapping all those delicate ornaments in tissue paper and packing them in their boxes.

    January 3, 2011

    The Gift

    Mid-day on Christmas Eve I heard a vehicle door slam.  A quick glance out the window revealed a red truck, and a good friend walking towards my back porch holding a box.  This is not unusual as this particular good friend comes over on a regular enough basis with boxes of stuff. This past summer it was produce to preserve and split with her. Other times it is a box of goodies for some project or other that we are working on.

    As I opened the door and said "Hi", she thrust the box into my arms and retreated back to her truck for another box. "Merry Christmas" said my friend with a smile on her face. It was present exchanging time! We've been known to exchange very practical gifts - food, baked items, hats, school supplies (I love school supplies, but that's another story) or silly stuff, like necklaces from those machines outside discount stores.

    I was stunned, and happy and deeply moved by her kindness and her gift of love.  She knows me, and so packed those two boxes with stuff I desperately needed and would truly appreciate.  I got laundry detergent without fragrance, and dish soap that won't remove the skin from my hands, toilet paper, stew meat and bacon - I love bacon and stew meat. Oranges - I'm particularly fond of oranges this time of year.  Potatoes and oatmeal.  Oatmeal is on the menu here most winter days.  And then there was the big package of duplex cookies. A favorite treat for me since childhood - and I do try really, really hard to eat only a couple a day.  Oh, yes, flour and sugar so I can bake.

    I'm touched, and grateful. It's wonderful to be loved. It's more wonderful to be loved by a woman on a Calling. Thanks, good friend.