When Beth Dooley first moved to Minneapolis from New Jersey in 1979, she was dismayed by the poor selection of fresh food in the commercial supermarket. She’d heard that Minnesota was a farm state, yet the wilted vegetables and sallow fruit seemed to come from somewhere else entirely. But soon Ms. Dooley discovered the Farmer’s Market and other local food sources. The first Thanksgiving in her new home wasn’t quite up to snuff, but since then she’s learned how to cook for a cold climate.
Beth Dooley is a food writer who’s published six cookbooks and often guests on public radio. She obviously loves cooking and writing about food. There’s many sense words in the descriptions of land and ingredients, which makes this book mouth-watering.
The emphasis is on local food sourcing for the Upper Midwest, concentrating on Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Each chapter focuses on an ingredient for a Thanksgiving feast, from apples to wild rice (and not forgetting the turkey.) Along the way, she talks about relevant subjects from organic and sustainable farming through urban gardens to Native American rights.
There are tales of the friends Ms. Dooley has met during her searches, many of them independent farmers and small business owners who are struggling to get by. She also frequently puts in stories of her family as well. There’s also quite a bit of politics, which may come as a surprise to people who aren’t foodies, but is inescapable when you talk about locally sourced food.
One subtext that struck me is that Beth Dooley has always been well enough off that she could afford to pay a little extra for the better ingredients, and to take the extra time and effort to find them and make meals from scratch. This perspective may rub people who work two full-time jobs and struggle even to pay for basics the wrong way. She’s not concerned with “feeding the world” so much as doing well for the future of local “real” food.
After the main text are a number of yummy-looking recipes suitable for Thanksgiving, end notes and a list of books for further reading, all with a more personal touch than strictly scholarly.
Aside from some redundancy which suggests the chapters first appeared as a series elsewhere, the writing is top-notch.
Strongly recommended to foodies who have an interest in locally-sourced food, Minnesotans, and those interested in finding out where their food comes from.
And here’s a video of the author demonstrating how to shape Christmas bread:
Last Wednesday, I went to an event titled “Bloggers Get Social”, which was held at a Davanni’s in Edina. Getting there was the first hurdle, as it started at 5 P.M. and I got off work at 4:30 several suburbs away. I found an express route that worked on paper, but when I got to the bus stop, discovered I’d left my paper with the route number and the address of the Davanni’s back in the office. Fortunately, I was able to work out which express bus out of the dozen that serve that stop it was by elimination.
Next problem: When I got on the bus, I discovered that there were no schedules for the route on the bus–I knew one of the cross-streets where I had to get off, but not the other. And everyone near me was firmly attached to their headphones except one lady who had no idea where that cross-street was. The good news was, it was the very first stop the express made in Edina, and the Davanni’s was clearly visible from the side of the bus I was on. I was there only about fifteen minutes late!
Of course, that meant that the other attendees had already clumped up into tight groups at tables, so I was at a loss at first. Good news, though, Davanni’s put on a nice spread for us, showcasing their variety of party foods. Their party room space is also very nice. https://www.davannis.com/location/edina/
The organizers of the social night were the folks from the MN Blogger Conference, which next meets at Concordia University in Saint Paul October 16th, 2016. http://www.mnbloggerconference.com/ After the owners of the Davanni’s gave a nice speech about the history of the restaurant and how their employees have helped build their menu over the years, a couple of other latecomers joined my table, and the organizers reminded everyone to switch tables every so often so that we would meet different people.
I still think I missed about half the bloggers there, but did manage to give out all the business cards with my blog info on them. Not everyone had cards, but I did manage to get some. In no particular order:
Faces of TBI: This site is about people who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury, both survivors and those who have passed on. The author is Amy Zellner, writer of Life with a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal. Her most recent blog post is an appearance by Dr. Bennet Omalu (played by Will Smith in Concussion) coming up in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. http://facesoftbi.com/an-evening-with-dr-bennet-omalu-minneapolis/
Stacie Sayz So: A lifestyle blogger, a lot of her posts seem to be about beauty products from an affordable perspective. But Stacie’s not just about product reviews! Her most recent post is photography tips to enhance those pictures that come with your blog posts (I mostly cheat and just scan the book cover.) http://www.staciesayzso.com/2016/02/how-i-stepped-up-my-camera-game-for-my.html
Kale & Ale: Another lifestyle blog, this one about healthy eating and drinking. Lots of recipes and gardening tips! The latest post by author Valerie Dennis is about her trip to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico and the nice places she found to eat there. http://kaleandale.com/2016/02/15/old-san-juan-puerto-rico/
Jen Jamar is a content strategist and social media manager, which is the kind of person I want to consult if I ever try to monetize this blog. (Read me now while there’s still no ads 🙂 Her latest post is about a recent social media management tool update that looks scary, but probably is nothing to panic about: http://www.jenjamar.com/yoast-3-0-1-heres-what-to-do-instead-of-freaking-out/
Donna Hup writes about small town Midwestern life: cooking, entertainment, travel and especially trucking! Her most recent post is about a…unique…charity run she participated in for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Lots of fun pictures! http://donnahup.com/my-first-cupids-undie-run/
Paul Lundquist doesn’t have a blog as such, but is an advertising and commericial photographer if you can afford to commission the best pictures of stuff for your blog. You can find a portfolio of his work at http://paullundquist.com/
I also remember a fellow doing something called Lifemap which will be a site that allows members to put pins in maps of places they’ve been and write about their experiences there. I don’t think it’s in full production yet.
Davanni’s handed out gift bags, which contained Davanni’s glasses and a do-it-yourself Valentine treat kit. Their regular dessert bars with small pots of frosting and sprinkles so you could customize them for your sweetie. Thanks, Davanni’s!
I got a ride back to the big city from a fellow who works for Blackeye Roasting, a cold press coffee brewer. He was giving out samples of their product. Alas, I don’t like the taste of coffee, but here’s their website anyway: http://www.blackeyeroasting.co/about/
Sadly, I got a raging cold the next day, and hadn’t felt up to writing about the experience till now.
Please visit some of these folks, and in the comments, mention your favorite blog that needs more visitors!