Warm reads for cold daysAs winter limps into its final weeks and the snow thins and recedes to reveal a crusty scalp of mud and dried grass, our deprived senses begin to dream of spring.
By: Lindsy O'Brien, Living North
As winter limps into its final weeks and the snow thins and recedes
to reveal a crusty scalp of mud and dried grass, our deprived senses
begin to dream of spring. This, of course, leads to plans of
gleaming green garden plots with tidy rows of vegetables that will soon
reintroduce freshness and variety to our sparse winter options.
Eating and cooking in-season can be a challenge for those of us living in
a region where gardens and woodlands spend five months suffocating under
snow. Shelley N.C. Holl’s 2010 release “The Minnesota Table: Recipes for
Savoring Local Food Throughout the Year” is an indispensable guidebook
for any Minnesota or Wisconsin locavore.
Holl’s work is a month-by-month cookbook highlighting the fresh fare
available during a specific month, beginning with April. Asparagus, maple
sugar and lamb are among the foodstuffs listed for the first full month of
spring. Holl begins with a quaint history of asparagus and includes quirky
details, such as the fact that Louis XIV was so besotted with the vegetable he had greenhouses built in order to enjoy it year round. The chapter is fleshed out with B. J. Carpenter’s recipes that carry the harvest to the table, such as the mouth-watering and poetic-sounding Asparagus Vinaigrette.
In fact, the entire book reads almost like a poem. “My role is a bit more
functional when it comes to hunting the morel [mushroom] with its
distinctive swiss cheese holes and fairy tale shape,” Holl writes. “An extra set of eyes is helpful because, like fairies, morels are elusive and well camouflaged.”
The bounties of the summer and fall chapters are beautiful and varied, but
Holl and Carpenter manage to capture the satisfaction of enjoying the
preserved fruits of autumn’s labor even in January, when the highlighted foods include gouda cheese, smoked whitefish, bison, onions, carrots and dried fruit. As a whole, “The Minnesota Table” is a wonderful cookbook for those itching to sow their seeds and enjoy the harvest the instant bare ground can be seen again.
Michael Nordskog’s book, “The Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods
Finnish Sauna Tradition,” helps remind us of one of winter’s special treats: a hot sauna on a frigid day. The book begins with a forward by celebrated Duluth architect David Salmela, whose father was born in a sauna in 1902.
It then continues into a celebration of the history of North America’s “sauna belt” (the area around Lake Superior). Aaron W. Hautala’s photographs explore the interior and exterior of saunas throughout the region – from historic and dimly lit grottos that look more like dungeons than places to relax, to Salmela’s own sauna, a bright, blue-tiled room with a view of Duluth and Lake Superior. Other photos show sauna bathers joyfully leaping into holes cut into frozen lakes. As Mikkel Aaland, author of “Sweat,” notes, sauna culture is firmly planted in the “memories of early Finnish immigrants and the generations that followed.”
Whether dreaming of the delicacies of the coming harvest or lingering
over the quaint photos and stories of the much-loved sauna, both these books remind us of the rewards we can find despite these seemingly endless
THE MINNESOTA TABLE: RECIPES FOR SAVORING LOCAL FOOD THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
Publisher: Voyager Press: 2010
Recipes by B.J. Carpenter
by Shelley N. C. Holl
THE OPPOSITE OF COLD: THE NORTHWOODS FINNISH SAUNA TRADITION
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press 2010
Photography by Aaron Hautala
by Michael Nordskog