31 May 2009

WNDF: the clam digger

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If you're over 21, summer in Bismarck isn't complete without a clam digger from the Broken Oar in Mandan, ND. 

From what I can tell, a clam digger is basically a salad in a class, with some alcohol. The clam digger is made over ice, including a pickle, green olive, yellow peppers, seasonings, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Clamato and vodka. They are delicious. I think clam diggers are cousins to bloody marys and caesars.

Let's toast to summer.

...

I've never seen these anywhere other than the Broken Oar Bar in Mandan, ND, so I deem it a Weird North Dakota Food (WNDF). 

...
Added June 2, 2009: It has been brought to my attention that Mandan's Broken Oar bar is certainly not the first or only location that serves clam diggers. But since the clam digger is a tradition at the Broken Oar, I decided that it will remain a WNDF. 

28 May 2009

The 28th of May and some random ancestry rambling

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Today is the 28th of May. June begins on Monday.

time to get out my snow boots
Right about this time of year I forget what -40°F temperatures feel like. I think it might be a midwestern thing (or I suppose anywhere that has a distinctive and severe winter season) ... in the summer, we live in the moment.

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I think it's what gets us through the long winter. Kind of like a working long stressful hours Monday through Friday for the grand prize of having two days of weekend.

Anyway, this year I'm attempting to not live so in the moment and save my skin from the dangerous rays of the sun. I'm naturally quite pale pasty. I burn very easily. I know that tanning (or in my case, burning) is not good for my skin. So this year I'm going for the light look.

I blame my paleness pastyness on my German and Dutch ancestors. Thanks folks.

So that photo up top there ... you know, the one of my pale pasty ankles? I had to "antique" it so that it didn't blind you all. You're very welcome.

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In other news ...
This is a peony. In my yard. I have a few peony plants but this one is particularly special - it's a growth (split by dividing the roots) from my great grandma's peony plant ... I think. Grandma Katy, if you are reading this let me know if I have that right.

Edited 5/29/09 to add: This peony was originally growing at my Grandma Katy's house when she moved in, in 1962, in Redfield, SD. Divided prices are/were also growing at my Great Grandma's former house in Whitefish, MT, at my Great Great Grandma Hattie's house in South Dakota, and at my Grandma Katy's former house in Mandan, ND, and her current house in Kalispell, MT. So this plant has had quite a long life so far. I hope I can continue the tradition for many years to come.

I'm just fascinated with the process of taking a cutting and making another plant from it. Right now I'm working on basil and honeysuckle.

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I decided that with my newly acquired aprons, I now have enough for a little display. I strung up a piece of yarn on one of my sewing room walls. Then I attached my apron collection with clothes pins (yes, this is a high class display). All in all, I have seven vintage aprons. All seven are on the line but not all of them made it in the photos. Oops.

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The apron on the far left (blue gingham) and the yellow/blue crocheted apron belonged to my Great Grandma Dolly. She was Dutch to the core - born a Van Beek, she later married a Dutch fellow (my great grandpa), named Hannes Garrett Vander Vorst. They both grew up in the Dutch town of Westfield, ND. I figured it was only right to place my new pink Dutch girl apron between Grandma Dolly's two. Also between Grandma Dolly's aprons is one of seven of the days of the week dish towels I embroidered with her old patterns.

This is a pretty special wall.

So now that I've talked all about them, here is a photo of my Great Grandma Dolly, my Great Grandpa 'Van' and my Grandpa 'Dar' ... aren't they a cute bunch? This is one of my favorite photos.

HG Dolly Dar Vandervorst

25 May 2009

The road to Linton, ND, is long, straight, and flat

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But the drive to Linton, ND, is totally worth it.

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When we get to this sign I get excited because I know we're almost there.

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We stayed the night with Corey's grandparents - Grandma Claire and Grandpa Andy. This is part of Grandma Claire's cellar pantry. 

I said that if there is a tornado, I want to get stuck in her basement - it's fully stocked with plenty of wine, homemade brandy, canned fruits and veggies, and jams and jellies. 

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Corey and I got to sleep under this beauty. It was made by a friend of the family. It's a great example of a vintage improvisationally-pieced quilt. And with such a wide variety of fabric.

While in Linton, we drove through the flooded areas, specifically "old town Linton." The drive was sobering. The homes in old town (the low-lying area of town) all have a sign posted on the front door. Some say "safe for reentry" some say "unsafe for reentry." It's a strange sight. The "unsafe" homes seem to be abandoned already. We're told that the city has dug a large hole north of town and the homes that are unsafe will be discarded into the hole.

Aside from the old town area, other areas that were flooded, such as the Linton Golf Course, are mostly all cleaned up and are back in business. It's amazing how the citizens of the town and outside volunteers have helped this city rebound so quickly.

Our prayers are with all the people and families still affected by this flood.

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While Corey and his cousin Patrick spent this morning golfing, Grandma Claire and I took a little trip to Strasburg, ND, to visit the Little German House.

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Isn't it cute? It's located right off the highway, on Main Street.

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The Little German House has a great inventory. Some cute little Dutch items. I'm such a sucker for Dutch stuff.

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German Cuckoo Clocks. How cool are these?!

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I like this one.

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A vintage baby shirt (handmade of course). And look at that darling hanger.

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And then I found the aprons. And my life was complete.

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I couldn't live without that pink one. It came home with me. What was I just saying about being a sucker for Dutch stuff? I don't lie.

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This room made me want to play dress up. Gloves, hats, jewelry. What more could a gal want?

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Oh and this caught my eye. It was tucked in a hallway nook. What a beautiful old quilt.

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No German house is complete without a few quirky German mugs. 
"Not only am I perfect, I am German too" ... I know a few folks I could buy that for.

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And this is one of my favorites, "You can always tell a German but you can't tell him much."
Oh how true that is.

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How did this photo get in here? These are Grandma Claire's clothespins. I though they were pretty.

So anyway, Grandma Claire and I headed back to their house and I displayed and photographed my treasures out on her clothesline.

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First, my dutch girl apron. The shop owner estimates it's from the 1950s. This was my favorite purchase of the day.

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Next up, a close second to the Dutch girl apron, a vintage German/Dutch apron. 

It's definitely quite old ... although I have no clue how old. The apron has a few German/Dutch sayings, a visual image, and the English translation. My favorite is "Fett fraw iss gutt kummrowd," which means, "A plump wife is a good companion." In the center, it reads "Look onct ... we can talk Pennsylvania Dutch." Grandma Andy can speak German and he could read this just great. So I'm thinking Pennsylvania Dutch is very close to German.

Oh and it's barely visible, but I also bought a $1 vintage hanky. It's purple and orange and is visible to the left of the German apron.

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This beauty is a 1950s Christmas tree skirt (it's folded in half in this photo). I'm not sure if I'll use it in its current form or if I will make something out of it. Like an apron or two? Or a table runner perhaps? I'd be terrified to cut into it, it's so precious.

Also pictured is a German handmade garland. The shop owner said they are used as decoration on a Christmas tree. I think I'll hang it in my sewing room year-round and hang it on the tree at Christmas.

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Before leaving town, Corey and I practiced shooting at the Linton rifle range.

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Grandpa Andy came along too. He's so tough, he shoots without ear plugs.

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Corey is a great shot.

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Grandpa Andy did very well too.

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Me? Um, not so much. In my defense, they shot about four times as many bullets as I did. 
Yeah that's my excuse.

Thank you Grandma Andy and Grandma Claire for your wonderful hospitality and delicious meals while we visited.

...

In case you find yourself in Emmons County and want to visit the Little German House, the address is 500 Main Street, Strasburg, ND, the phone number is (701) 336-7555. 
The hours are:
June through August: Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
September through December: Thursday and Friday, 1 pm to 5 pm, and Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm
January and February: closed
March through May: Thursday and Friday, 1 pm to 5 pm, and Saturday 10 am to 4 pm

24 May 2009

28 down

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Adding to my productivity this weekend, I finished my week four one-a-day nine-patch quilt-along blocks.

Here are the previous three weeks of blocks:
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22 May 2009

Painting party 1.0

I have a feeling this was the first of what will be many panting parties in my life.

Katie and Natasha have had these parties in the past but this was a first for me. With canvases in hand, the three of us met at Katie's house Thursday evening. Katie's house sparks creativity just by being in it. So it was the perfect place to paint. Oh and the yard. It's amazing.

We painted in her back yard around a small bonfire. How cool is that?!

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She even has a large carved wooden fish! I love it.

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And Katie's got loads and loads of paint. And she's so generous letting us dive into it all.

I was so excited I could hardly contain myself.

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Katie had fun "messing around" with paints on a scrap of canvas (I thought it was beautiful).

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It evolved into what looked like waves and then a sail boat was added ... and eventually a dog too. It's improvisational painting - how fun!

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Natasha brought a HUGE canvas and was working on getting a few layers of paint to create a nice background.

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It was so neat to watch how the colors and textures changed with each added layer.

Using my old college art box of acrylics I got to work on a painting that I've been slowly working on for a few years now.

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The painting is inspired by this doodle I made on the table cloth while eating at Pirogue. I liked it so much I tore it off and brought it home.

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So here's my plan: I'm going to densely layer crosses on top of each other. I figure it's about 30 percent completed. I'd like to entirely cover the canvas so none of the background shows.

What do you think it looks like? crosses? people? x's? a quilt?

Speaking of quilts, I'd kinda like to make a quilt with a similar look. Or a series of paintings like this in all different colors - like one with black, white and red or with only red orange and pink or all blues.

... the day just isn't long enough for all my crazy ideas.

20 May 2009

Softball and WNDF: Giant's Sunflower Seeds

Corey's softball season is officially in full swing. They had their second week of games tonight. His team had softball last Wednesday too - but it was snowing, raining and very very cold. Miserable weather to be playing softball but they played through it.

Tonight was much better.

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They won both games and celebrated with a few beers in the parking lot. Such a great preview of all the fun the three-day weekend will bring.

In honor of softball season starting, I stocked up on sunflower seeds.

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Here's a plug for Giant's Sunflower Seeds. They come from Wahpeton, ND, (yay North Dakota!) and they are delicious. My favorite flavor is the BBQ ... but that bag is almost gone already so I took a photo of the dill pickle flavor, which is also quite good. I can't sit through a softball evening without a bag of seeds.

Can this be a WNDF (Weird North Dakota Food)? It's not necessarily weird, but it is from North Dakota. I'll make the executive decision that yes, it is a WNDF.

Sunflowers and North Dakota go hand in hand. Did you know that National Sunflower Association is located in Bismarck, ND? Yeah, so that was my random nerdy fact of the day.

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Anyway, in the summer, Bismarck seems to be surrounded by a wall of the big yellow flowers. They really are huge. And so incredibly tall. Photo taken by me in August 2007

Alright so I have another fun nerdy fact for today - the ND Horizons Blog uses one of my sunflower photos for it's heading graphic. Check it out.

18 May 2009

WNDF: That's a lotta knoephla

Fried's Family Restaurant is open again! 

I've talked about Freid's before ... they are a local, mom and pop, truck-stop-like restaurant in Mandan, ND. In my opinion, they have the best knoephla soup on earth. Bon App├ętit magazine agrees. This winter, their restaurant was flooded due to a pipe break and they've been closed ever since. Until today.

Corey, Grandma Rene, Grandpa Darwin, and I celebrated the reopening with dinner at the restaurant. 

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I had knoephla soup. Knoephla soup is a dough dumpling thing with some small potato pieces in a creamy broth. I'm told it's a German food. Or maybe it's a 'Germans from Russia' food. Whatever its origins are, I will also classify it as a WNDF (Weird North Dakota Food) because it is readily available in North Dakota and I didn't find any in Germany. So there you have it - knoephla soup. Once you've had the knopehla soup at Fried's, all other knoephla soup becomes just not quite good enough.  Thanks grandma for being my wonderful hand model.

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For dinner I had knoepla and kraut (sauerkraut). Knoepla soup and knoephla and kraut for dinner ... wow that's a lotta knoephla. I eat mine with a bit of ketchup. Yeah, I'm cool like that.

Here's a recipe for Knoephla Soup