October 12, 2012 § 13 Comments
Well dear friends, the distillery, which after a flurry of ad hoc focus group testing with friends who are roughly in our target market and/or have clever things to say about names is now officially named Vikre Distillery, now has a Facebook page. As of yesterday! And you know, if that doesn’t make something real, then what does, really?
In the non-Facebook version of life, also known as reality, the distillery is still very much in the process of becoming extant. But, we’re making a lot of progress and have found all sorts of amazing help, willing ears, editors, math-checkers, connection-makers. Though so far, the number of people who have offered their services as first line taste testers outstrips the numbers of any of these categories by far. Leaves’em in the dust. No contest. (Gee, I wonder why.)
By day, I find myself bopping between meetings and then back to focused data coding. By night I continue to stare pensively at data with a furrowed brow breaking only to fill mason jar upon mason jar with vodka and herbs, trying to come up with our ideal gin blend and aquavit flavor profile, etc. etc.
Joel crunches and recrunches numbers, and perfects powerpoints, and pamphlets, and makes a lot of phone calls. I’m glad I’m not doing that part. I have a weird irrational quasi-fear of calling people.
Some days are awful and I throw up my hands, convinced this was the worst idea in the known history of mankind (worst, no exaggeration) and that it will all be a miserable failure. Other days are bright and happy, full of hope and new connections and small successes and a sense that we can make things happen. These things go like that.
Anyhow, progress, progress, progress. Each little step, on any sort of day, is progress. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 8, 2012 § 27 Comments
Is it quite terrible that one of the things I liked best about Boston was the length of the corduroy jacket season? It stretched on seemingly into perpetuity, that in-between temperature season where you can throw a corduroy jacket over your t-shirt or over your wooly sweater and be happy.
I really love wearing my corduroy jacket, you see.
This makes me sound so frivolous, doesn’t it?! It is frivolous. Forgive me, I’m a flake! At least where corduroy is involved. And boots too, but let’s stick with corduroy for the moment. The point is, here I wore my corduroy jacket for perhaps two days, and then the season was over.
It snowed a little bit both days this weekend. In some places, actually, it snowed a lot! I absolutely love snow, and I say bring it on. The temperature is hovering right around freezing, the smell of leaves and an edge of snow are trapped, suspended in the chill, dry air. It smells like I remember Halloween weather always smelling. The ground is coated with crackling leaves, maple, birch, and aspen, and in many ways, this is actually my very favorite kind of weather. I keep being overcome by a delirious happiness when I step outside and feel that air and smell that smell. Except, gosh I’d like to be able to wear my corduroy jacket for a little bit longer.
I’d also like to have cake and eat it too while acquiring grass in a similar shade of green as that on the other side, if it’s not too much trouble, thank you. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 25, 2012 § 26 Comments
My mother, it appears, is on a mission to get Joel – and me as well, really – thoroughly acquainted with the many wonderful places, resources, and activities available in our new stomping grounds. We are accepting this mission with enthusiasm. Two thumbs up for exploring the area! Especially when it means, as it did this last weekend, going on a tour of some local farmer’s markets, farms, and the charming little town of Bayfield, Wisconsin.
My mom picked us up early Saturday morning in her zippy silver Honda. It wasn’t exactly still dark, but it was early for most people’s version of a Saturday morning, and there was a frigid nip in the air. We donned hats, and mittens, and puffy coats and piled into the car with Squid in tow. We met up with a couple of friends at the bottom of the hill (have I mentioned Duluth is built on a hill? – like San Francisco in extra-miniature), and off we went! « Read the rest of this entry »
September 22, 2012 § 16 Comments
I think I have mentioned it before (yup, I have – just checked), but there was a lucky day once when I was home from college on winter break when I got to cook with the Norwegian food writer, cook, and TV personality Andreas Viestad. Ok, it’s not Anthony Bourdain or Jamie Oliver, but for me it was pretty dang close. Even better, actually, being the cooking and writing obsessed Scandophile that I am.
He was giving a book talk and signing at our church, accompanied by a cooking demo. Our family friend and cookbook author Bea Ojakangas recruited my mother and me along with another friend to help with the food preparation.
I’m pretty sure, when it comes down to it, we were asked there more for our Norwegian language skills than our cooking skills, but I wasn’t concerned, I still felt special. From the experience I took away some cooking pointers, a minor crush, and a signed copy of Viestad’s cookbook.
It’s a beautiful book. One I have loved as much for the beautiful landscape pictures that reminded me of all my childhood summers in Norway as for the simple, flavorful recipes. After break, I brought the book back to share with my college housemates as I excitedly told them about getting to cook with the cute Norwegian chef. Soon, everyone in our house – boys and girls alike – referred to Viestad as the “cute Norwegian chef” rather than by name, and a number of recipes from his book had become regulars in the rotation of our household meals (we cooked for each other and ate together 5 nights a week). « Read the rest of this entry »
September 18, 2012 § 47 Comments
We went up into the woods over the weekend. It felt so good. Always does, really.
We went to the Boundary Waters, the forest in Northern Minnesota bordering Canada. A wilderness where the only real way to get around is by slipping a canoe into the water and paddling from lake to lake. There you can glide through still water, bounce through choppy, scramble over beaver dams, dodge moose…the only sounds around are the slap of the paddles, the drips of water, the occasional loon call, or easy conversation with the others in the boat.
Every wild area has its own unique silence and peace. I think that of the Boundary Waters may be one of the deepest anywhere. It affords the most beautiful solitude (and the most comfortable companionship with the others paddling with you) that you can imagine. Where else in the world can you canoe or kayak between hundreds of lakes with only hikes of several – ok, sometimes several hundred – canoe lengths in between? It’s remarkable.
We paddled a nice 12 mile loop on Saturday. On Sunday afternoon we decided to hike up one of the low ridges to take in the views of the leaves that are just starting to show hints of gold and scarlet. On the hike down, for the first time in several weeks, I began to think in earnest about food. « Read the rest of this entry »
May 10, 2012 § 14 Comments
For much of my adult life (starting, even, when I was more adult-ish, than adult), I’ve wanted to have a restaurant or cafe where I was recognized. All Cheers-like, where everybody – or, more realistically, at least somebody – would know my name, and I would know theirs. I’d be a regular.
Perhaps it comes from my small-town girl core, which craves to be situated in a community small enough where you can’t help but bump into someone you know on every grocery store visit. Perhaps it comes from the more universal human desire to belong, to be part of something, to be known. Either way, it’s been a borderline compulsion for years, but mostly just an internal one. I’ve never really intentionally played it out. Either my tendency to explore and try new places would thwart my quest to become a regular, or a high turnover rate in the staff would. (Technically with the latter, I guess I still was a regular, but it doesn’t count if there is no one that greets you with that smile of the eyes that says, ‘hey, I know you! I’m glad you’re back. How’s the family/kids/dog…?’)
April 21, 2012 § 11 Comments
I wish I were better at canning. And not because I’m buying in to some fantastical homesteading fantasy that’s just part of the zeitgeist. I swear. Ok, well, I totally do fantasize about homesteading, we’ve talked about this before. But not for the self-sufficiency part of it, which is what we as a populace are being accused of. I’m way too communal of a creature for that. Homesteading appeals because it is a way of feeling things again, of feeling physical strain toward a goal and of feeling something you’ve made in your hands.
But, the real reason why I wish I were better at canning is so that I can do like my friend Anna did the other night as we were all finishing up dinner. Something in the conversation seemed to trigger a spring in her mind, and she leapt up from the table exclaiming, “do you want some really amazing applesauce that I canned that tastes just like fall?”