Cake in the morning

Cake in the morning

The wedding cake sits uncut in the grand hall. Lights twinkle and dance around the room, through gold streamers hanging from the ceiling. But on my wedding night I find myself conversing with myself. Only myself. Those thoughts not worth sharing, or too personal, or too embarrassing to share. With friends or anyone else. Age has never been a hindrance to me. Nor would I let it be tonight. Not wearing (dad)-blue jeans and New Balance shoes with a hoodie stamped with my daughter’s college. Not… ravaged by divorce, bittered by tragedy, lost completely in the unending march of time. That is not me. But she, a beautiful 19-year-old bride, so pure in white, glowing so earnestly in the center of the room. Still young enough to understand that you must give off light, not reflect it. Most people have none. She, so young, is willing to be my wife out of the innate respect that come from connection; the deep feeling inside that transcends millieu, that should be called love (though, certainly not of the natural, meet-cute kind Hollywood would have us create from dreams and fantasies). And I, myself, being the only person with whom I can discuss it. I have no desire to be… used up? Not at all. Well one might think that it isn’t really their choice. Time has a funny way of taking everything from you, including your youthful vigor. If I might be so bold? You might. Focus not on how you might stay young. Focus instead on who you are no matter what your age. I am seventeen years her senior....
Defining a city by its food: 17 truly St. Paul dishes

Defining a city by its food: 17 truly St. Paul dishes

Much poetry has been written as an ode to the city; the place where we were born and/or raised, that has shaped us. Poetry, pictures, paintings and films. We look for these things and as the arts they help us to define ourselves as they define the world around us. However, as the “roving gourmand” Jim Harrison states plainly, “How feebly the arts compete with the idea of what we are going to eat next.” Isn’t it true that a good meal trumps all else? That the Mona Lisa cannot truly be enjoyed on an empty stomach? That we will walk out of an Oscar-worthy film to satiate a begging appetite? That we cannot read, or write, or dream, or laugh when hunger pangs beg the largest question of them all: Who am I, if not someone who needs to eat? So then we define the city by its food. It’s step one, maybe, the base (cornerstone) of how to describe the landscape. We start here. But then we ask what kind of food culture can be created when a city’s identity is changing; when people are moving in, and out, of its borders at a rapid pace? Regardless of what the landscape will look like in 5, 10, 20 years or more, these dishes remain truly representative of the Capital City’s soul. It’s core. And they will keep us fed today so that we may go on and enjoy everything else she has to offer.   17 dishes that define St. Paul Pelmeni at Moscow on the Hill These dumplings are simple. They are delicious. As a happy hour...
Beer cheese soup with spiced popcorn, bacon, and more beer

Beer cheese soup with spiced popcorn, bacon, and more beer

Is there ever a bad time for beer cheese soup? Not when you can make it yourself. This simple recipe captures the addictingly-rich flavor, the oh-so-smooth texture (with a perfect crunch from the popcorn), and the simple, soul-hugging goodness of a Midwestern classic. Beer cheese soup with spiced popcorn, bacon, and more beer yield: 1 gallon Ingredients: 4lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped 2 yellow onions, chopped 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed 8C vegetable stock 3C milk 6 pack beer (Summit Pilsner) 2T Worcestershire sauce 2T Dijon mustard 1C shredded cheddar cheese 1C shredded Muenster cheese 1t nutmeg, ground 2T fresh sage, chopped TT salt TT white pepper   Directions: Place the potatoes, onion, celery, garlic, sage, 2 beers, milk, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and vegetable stock in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 30-45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the heat; cool slightly (do not drain). In a blender, cover and blend mixture in batches until smooth. Return all to the pan and heat through. Stir in cheese just until melted. Season with salt and white pepper. Taste. Season with more salt and white pepper? Fry up some bacon and chop it up to top with spicy popcorn for an added...
The beautiful people or: Viewing people viewing people

The beautiful people or: Viewing people viewing people

What do we know about people? Or rather, what do we know about ourselves? Because, whether we like it or not, much of what we think we know about others comes from what we think we know about ourselves. We often use other people as a mirror; as a reflection of our best and worst qualities. It’s no wonder, then, that we are either drawn to, or repulsed by, certain personality types/different people. Science says we’re attracted to those with the same DNA as us; that we’re predisposed to like those who look/think/act/live similar to the way we do. This seems like such a small-minded, and limiting way to live in a world where “looks like me” is becoming an increasingly subjective, and polarizing, basis of judgment. But it shapes much of our day-to-day, even (especially) when we don’t realize it. Inclusivity In recent years, the cultural trend seemed to be one of celebration; of differences and similarities alike, of togetherness. After electing Barack Obama as the first black president in U.S. history, same-sex marriage was legalized across the United States (on June 26, 2015, at which point over 1/2 of states were already there). The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that denying the fundamental institution of marriage to same-sex couples violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But perhaps more importantly are the almost intangible gains made during the last eight years, and for many years before that; the general push toward acceptance and progress. We’ve come a long way since the days blatant/accepted discrimination (women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps…),...
A taste of the good life | A philosophy of the good life

A taste of the good life | A philosophy of the good life

Life is short, they told us from the start. And, like the joke Woody Allen used in Annie Hall, “Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ’em says, “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” The other one says, “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.” Well, that’s essentially how I feel about life – full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it’s all over much too quickly.” life is often viewed, perhaps sardonically, but with a certain modicum of truth, as something somewhat cruel. But, when utilized properly, filled with good food and drink, and good people on all sides to share it with, a moment can last a thousand years, each one better than the last.   Memory of a good life The smell of black coffee immediately brings me back to the childhood hours spent in airports across the world; flights to and from Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Chicago. The fresh pastries; croissants with butter, raspberry cream donuts, kaiser rolls, and walnut snails ready to eat while waiting wide-eyed, watching a thousand people pass by, and then a thousand more. Getting together the last bit of change in my pocket to buy a fresh pretzel from the stand, or something warm to drink when the wind blows cold. A tall glass of orange juice reminds of the sun shining warm across the breakfast table. Three, four, five courses from some of the world’s most passionate chefs… It’s not just about luxury; not just about the foie gras with black truffle, or having caviar twice a day (though I would not object)....