Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BBQ and Beer Lights

We finally got out of town last weekend with the cabin on wheels. It's a shame it sat waiting for us in our driveway since May. Never again!! 

BBQ judging called us to Albert Lea, Minnesota. We stayed two nights at Crystal Springs RV resort by Ellendale. It's a brand new park and we had a nice spot right by a small pond where great blue herons came to roost at night. We watched dozens of them fly in at sunset.  Our wooden egret, George, named after the artist who created him, joined us. You can always find him in our camp sites.

We visited Steve's Meat Market in Ellendale our first day and enjoyed a great meal that evening of locally made andouille sausage with fresh herbs and veggies from the farmers' market.

Saturday found us at the competition. We walked around before our day started to observe the teams in action. We can't talk to them before the event because we are judges. It's always interesting to see the different setups.

No two are the same.

Some have invested great amounts of money in their rigs.

We were each given a ticket for a glass of beer to enjoy after the competition was done! Boy, did that taste good after all that BBQ! Too bad the band struggled matching up their chord progressions. Yikes!

We moved a few miles up the road to Riverview Campground near Owatonna for the next two nights.

The purpose of our stay there was to visit our friends, Stan and Carol. Paul and I used to teach with Stan. They retired outside of town on acreage where Carol grew up and built a new home there. They are master gardeners.

They take land stewardship very seriously and are working with a land conservancy program to revert most of their forty acres back to native species. Their plan is to make their property available for future study programs.

They also have a mind boggling beer light collection in their basement. This picture shows just a small percentage of what is displayed. I think there may even be a electrical brown out in the southern half of the state when they flip that special switch to turn everything on!!!

We had so much fun visiting with them.

Next week is our annual trip to the North Shore.

We are extremely comfortable in our "Al-u-MIN-i-um Con-do-MIN-i-um." I can hardly wait!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good times with good friends.

We got home yesterday from Lake Nancy near Minong, Wisconsin. Our friends, Mike and Nancy, own lake property there.

The mosquitoes were out in full force.

They were hungry critters!!!! We didn't let them get in our way of having fun, though.

We share so many great memories with Mike and Nancy.

I hope we can go back there again next summer. I lost at dominoes and demand a rematch.

Today we are working to load up the camper as we head out tomorrow morning for four days. It's been too long since the cabin on wheels has left the ranch so we can hardly wait!!!!

I'll talk to you soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pasta with Trapanese Pesto

Try this.

We loved it. The recipe includes directions for homemade pasta. Our version, pictured above,  uses this organic gluten free pasta  and it was delicious. 

We've been busy. Our calendar has been full for too long. Tomorrow we are escaping to the lake for a few days with our good friends, Nancy and Mike. 

Pontoon rides and campfires.  Yes.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Vegan Sunday!

When our children were young, we often did our weekly grocery shopping as a family on our way home from church on Sunday. Paul made a game with the kids of selecting a different and unique (to us) fresh fruit to try each week. Ever wonder who buys those ugli fruits? This family did. Star fruit, persimmons, you name it, they tried it. I think this approach led both of them to enter their adult lives with an open mind toward new foods.

Even though we shop alone now, we still have the same philosophy. Last Thursday at our local farmers' market, Paul was attracted to these:

Thai eggplants. Neither one of us had tried them before. In fact, Paul is not a huge eggplant fan. But, he saw them and said, "Huh! Look at these. I wonder what they taste like?" So, there you are. I'm game to try!

We did some searching and both thought this recipe: Thai Eggplants and Chickpeas in Peanut Masala from the FatFree Vegan Kitchen sounded good. The internet is a wonderful thing. We judged BBQ on Saturday, so Sunday was a perfect day for us to go meatless and try something completely different from ribs and pulled pork!!!

This is our idea of fun. Assemble and prep the ingredients:

I love summer.

We cook together while we crank some tunes in the kitchen.

And, then, we sit down to enjoy what we've created.

This dish is dinner party material. Excellent. I can't wait for this week's farmers' market! I'll talk to you soon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gluten-free Labeling: Register your comment with the FDA

I have posted this because it is important. Please read.

Gluten-free Labeling: Register your comment with the FDA: "
Last week, The Food and Drug Administration re-opened comments on its proposed gluten-free labeling rules. We have 60 days in which to submit comments to these proposed regulations. The comment period ends October 2, 2011.

Whenever a government agency prepares a set of guidelines, they open them up to the public to comment. It’s important to have a significant volume of comments to help shape guidelines and policies, but those comments must also be of decent quality. Every comment is read, logged, and recorded. This is an important (and often-overlooked) tool the public can use to help influence public policy.

Nancy at Gluten Freeville wrote a post which outlines the substantive points of the FDA’s proposed guidlines. You can read that here.

To submit your comments on the FDA’s proposed guidelines on gluten-free labeling, go to and:

1. Choose “Submit a Comment” from the task bar.

2. Enter the docket number FDA-2005-N-0404-0135 in the “Keyword” space (you don’t need to worry about the “Document Type” drop-down menu).

3. Select “Search.”

4. Scroll down to the results window and click on the “Submit a Comment” blue text to register your comment. Keep your comments professional and smart; they won’t be taken seriously if they’re overly emotional, ranting, derogatory, or filled with wild accusations, typos, and general cray-cray wackadoo-ness (which I know you won’t do, but I needed to put it out there).

Sample text you can cut and paste, then customize to your liking:

I have celiac disease/gluten intolerance, and I am requesting that the FDA institute clear, stringent guidelines on the labeling of gluten-free products. I know there is a recommendation of a level of <20 parts per million being gluten-free, but that is not gluten-free. People with celiac and gluten intolerance can get very, very sick from gluten-free foods that are produced on the same lines as regular food. If a food product carries the label “gluten-free,” but also has a disclaimer that it was processed in the same facility that also processes wheat or other gluten ingredients, then IT IS NOT GLUTEN-FREE, even if it did test at <20 ppm. If I consume that product, here is what will happen to me over the next 3-5 days:

1) I will suffer uncontrollable explosive diarrhea; 2) I will experience numbness and tingling in my extremities; 3) I will experience excruciating joint pain; 4) I will not be able to work or care for myself or my family; 5) I will suffer from migraine headaches; 6) I will experience a serotonin fluctuation that results in severe depression; and 7) the risk of my developing lymphoma increases five-fold.

Please establish gluten-free labeling rules that are clear, straightforward, and truthful about what the product actually is and how it is manufactured/processed. Again, cross-contamination is an enormous risk, and food that is produced in facilities that are not dedicated gluten-free facilities are not gluten-free foods. If a gluten-free food is processed on the same lines as wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients, companies should be required to disclose that on their packaging.

Lastly, please add gluten to the top allergens list.

Thank you for your consideration.

* * * * *

After you’ve registered your comment with the FDA, it would be great if you could take a minute to email a short thank-you to Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) for urging the FDA to re-open the comments on these regulations and actually set some rules around gluten-free labeling, as they were instructed to do by Congress way back in 2007. Doesn’t matter if you’re not from Vermont or Oregon — Senators Leahy and Wyden deserve our thanks for pushing the FDA to establish guidelines. Here’s some text you can cut and paste into a thank-you email, and customize to your specific needs:

Dear Senator Leahy/Wyden:

Thank you for urging the FDA to establish rules around gluten-free labeling. I have celiac disease/gluten intolerance, and this is a very important issue for me and my family. Too often, those of us who can’t eat gluten get very, very sick because of the lack of labeling laws that allow trace amounts of gluten into the foods we eat. So, thank you for making the FDA do the work they have promised to do for years.


Your Name Here

Senator Leahy’s email contact form is here:

Senator Wyden’s email contact form is here:

* * * * *

Lastly, please Digg and StumbleUpon this post, forward it to your friends and family, “Like” it on Facebook, Tweet the link — do whatever you can to encourage your friends, family, colleagues, and others to help support strong labeling practices. There are handy little buttons at the bottom of this (and every post, actually) to help spread the word.

This is one where we need all hands on deck. Thanks for taking a few minutes to tell the FDA how you feel. It’s really important, and I hope you will encourage others to register their comments, as well.

* * * * *

A little background reading on the issue:

The Washington Post: FDA says “gluten-free” is not for fad dieters

ABC News: “Gluten-free” — FDA may be closer to definition (except, ugh, they call it “Celiac’s disease” in the intro)

Boston Globe: When foods labeled “gluten-free” aren’t


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh, these kids!

We have had some great family time in the past week.

We were so happy to have our niece, Missy, and nephew-in-law, Zuel, and their daughter, Ede, as house guests last weekend.  They had a family wedding in St. Paul, so while her parents attended the reception, Ede stayed with us at the ranch. She is probably the happiest baby I've ever met. Seriously.

It's so apparent her parents are doing a wonderful job.

I'll admit I was a little jealous of Paul. I had to go to the closing night of "Joseph" on Saturday night, so he took Ede for an after dinner walk and put her to bed. They got along famously.

Please come back again soon, Missy and Zuel. We had a great time visiting with you. Thanks for letting us get to know your daughter!

Our nephew, Joey, is home this week on leave. It has become a tradition when he is in town to go out for burgers at the Nook or the Shamrock (same menu) in St. Paul. Don't even bother giving me a menu, I know exactly what I'll order every time. The Paul Molitor, please.

Nick and Joe grew up together. It fills my heart to see them together, even if it is for a short time.

Speaking of parents who are doing a wonderful job, Elizabeth and Mike were there, too. Here's Elizabeth with Haley, who turned two in July. She talks up a storm and has a delightful personality. She was quite amused by her Uncle Joey and Nick.

And, we all took turns holding Elizabeth's baby, Jake, who was born in May. Isn't he too cute?

So is Ellen!

Happy times. Life is good.

Tomorrow, Paul and I are heading north for the weekend. No Airstream this trip. We'll be sleeping in a tent!!!!! I'll talk to you soon.