It's almost May, it's almost May......

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It's almost May, it's almost May......

Hi all,

Believe it or not it’s almost May Day.  I’ve been watching with uncommon satisfaction as the snow piles left by the plow shrink.  It’s a wonder how we can go from blizzard white to spring green in 10 days.  I love Minnesota.  It’s exciting.  We lived in Florida and it’s warmer but it’s boring.  Here we have drama right outside our windows.  We don’t need it in our lives.  The first time you can sit outside with the sun shining on your face and hear the birds singing….. it’s like going to heaven after surviving hell.  


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Uncertainty.......

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Uncertainty.......

Hi all,

No matter how you celebrate the arrival of Spring, with Easter or Passover or by planting an indoor basket of grass,  it demands our attention.  Even in Minnesota where the frost isn’t out of the ground yet, the signs are everywhere.

When I step outside the birds are singing, the geese are flying north and most every day the sheets of ice in my yard thaw into mud puddles.  

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Planting flowers

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Planting flowers

Dear all or as my Irish friend would say; Top o the mornin' to ya.

I thought we might be ready for a little flower inspiration to pull us through this last month of our a bit too long, white and brown season.  A couple years ago while visiting Nick and Sara in Germany,  we happened upon Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands when we took a little side trip........

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Clearing out the larder

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Clearing out the larder

Hello all,

The temperatures might not be Spring-ish today, but the intensity of the sun and length of the days is sure moving us towards warmer weather.  And I feel more energetic…. like ready to look at seed catalogs, order seeds, maybe even think about how I could plant some seeds indoors, either real seeds that grow plants or metaphorically speaking…..

I’ve been emptying my larder.  I have a cool storage pantry in the basement- Yesterday, I hunted up the last squash, beets and daikons and brought them upstairs.  I noticed that my freezer supply is dwindling

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Listening for what's there...

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Listening for what's there...

When Three Crows was open, I used to send an email once a week to let people know what was happening, who was playing, what we were cooking for dinner, any other special events that needed a mention.  Around the information, there was a little room for more,… a few thoughts about the season, commentary on what was going on outside my window, whatever was on my mind at the moment…..  just a paragraph or two.  It became a practice for me to sit down and write, to see what showed up and I liked it.  And I miss it. 

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Hello, hello. Are you still there?

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Yes, it's been awhile.  I hope this finds you well and enjoying this balmy Thanksgiving  weekend.  I have a few announcements to make  I promise I'll be back again before too long.  

So Announcements!

It's the holiday season and although Three Crows is a bit of a ghost of Christmas past, some of our favorite things are still present.

1. Tonight, November 25, Simple Gifts with Billy McLaughlin will be at United Methodist Church in Delano, there are still tickets available online at ($25) and also at the door ($30).  This event is being sponsored by and will benefit The Delano Area Council for Arts and Culture. Doors open at 7, performance is at 7:30. If you don't have your tickets yet, better get a move on!

2.  On December 2nd, Delano will once again be hosting the Old Fashioned Christmas. This year will be an expanded version of years past adding an Old World Outdoor  Market, Town Square with Christmas Tree, blessing  of the Keg of Lupine Christmas Ale and all overseen by the Minnesota Krampus (have you been naughty or nice?).  The morning will start with breakfast with Santa at the Legion and end with a Caroling Pub Crawl from 7-9  with many, many activities all over the downtown. in between.    We hope you can find some time in your busy holiday schedule to stop by.

3. But I particularly wanted to let you know that we will be selling Three Crows  coffee beans at the Old World Christmas Market: French Roast, House Blend and Highlander Grog.  The Christmas Market will start at 2 and run until 7 PM on December 2nd in downtown Delano near the town square intersection of 2nd and Bridge Avenue..  Stop by early as supplies are limited AND we will be taking orders for a later delivery.  You can also contact me by email to place your order for pickup: gina@thethreecrows.com. 

I'm a bit rusty at this, but if you're reading this, it's apparent that I've figured out how to send emails once again and this time, you might just be hearing from me again soon.  

In the meantime, be well and enjoy the day!

Gina

 

 

 

 

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Billy McLaughlin Coming to Delano

 Billy McLaughlin and Simple Gifts coming to Delano United Methodist church on Saturday November 26, 2016

Billy McLaughlin and Simple Gifts coming to Delano United Methodist church on Saturday November 26, 2016

Hi all,

This is just a note to let you know that Simple Gifts will be back in Delano this holiday season on Saturday November 26.  Many of you remember attending this concert at Three Crows featuring  Billy McLaughlin.   This year the concert will be held at the Delano United Methodist Church.   Tickets are available online at SimpleGiftsMusic.net.    They are $25 for adults, $30 at the door and $15 for students or $20 at the door.  If someone is looking for a non electronic ticket, they can call Debbie DeBeer at 612.636.3618.  The concert starts at 7:00 PM and all tickets are General Admission.  

Enjoy the day!

Gina

 

 

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Food Glorious Food

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Dear all,

I feel newly connected to the growers, producers, markets, co-ops and stores and restaurants that provide us with local food.  For the second year on October 1, I embarked on a 10- Day Local Food Challenge.  The challenge is to eat food sourced within a 100 mile radius of my home except for 10 “exotics” of my choosing. 

The nearly year old Crow River Food Council, of which I am a board member, is sponsoring our local version of the challenge and joining with folks all over the country who are part of the national 10-Day Local Food Challenge .

I love doing this because it’s a trick of the best sort.  Far from being an exercise in deprivation as it first appears,  it turns out that it’s an exercise in purely, pleasurable eating.  First there is the foraging for local food which provides a reason to get out and meet new people and visit new places, markets and co-ops.

There is the beauty of the food itself which takes on a deeper dimension when the person responsible for growing or producing or selling it is known to me.  There is the satisfaction of spending time preparing and cooking it as there is little you can buy prepared that includes all local ingredients. And best of all is the discovery of the deliciousness that is a characteristic of food grown for flavor instead of sturdiness for mass production and travel. 

All in all it feels like a good thing to do, a positive action in a sea of worry and negativity about our food supply. A way for us, merely eaters, to support those who are doing their darnedest to provide the most foundational thing; healthy, delicious food.  For us.

To aid my resolve and for inspiration, I am reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,  an account of her families one year adventure in eating locally sourced food, much of it grown by themselves.  In it she speaks of the challenges of a whole family giving up mangoes and discovering instead the satisfaction of seasonal eating.

Last year I discovered these things.  This year, I’m discovering them all over again and resolving to carry many more of these habits into my life AC, after the challenge.  There ARE challenges - probably why it’s called that.  It takes time and thought.  My “exotics” list alone is a work in progress.  Right now it includes olive oil, lemons, salt, spices, almonds, yeast, wine, tea and coffee.  The coffee was an accident.  I decided on tea instead of coffee mostly because I can sip it all day without fear of night wakefulness. Then I found myself sipping a nice hot cup of coffee at the market on Saturday at the Community Market while telling someone about my list of 10 exotics and when I left out coffee, they offered, "and coffee?".   I’ve been debating between oatmeal and rice….. I could have had both if it hadn’t been for the coffee slip, but the unconsciousness of my eating habits is a lesson worth the price. 

The rules are arbitrary of course.  Open to interpretation.  There are slips.  And occasions to make conscious choices.  Like deciding to bag it to eat out for my sister’s birthday at Travail.  I think much of their food is local, but I decided not to plague the busy staff with an interrogation about the source of ingredients of every one of the umpteen courses that night. 

One could choose to do the challenge for a day, or a weekend or adopt the second choice the Food Council offered of eating one new local item each day from a radius of 150 miles.  Doing something different is more interesting than doing the same thing we do every day so I figure if I have to make up the rules to make it work for my life, it’s way better than not doing it at all. It's never to late to learn something about life. Just saying.

Enjoy the week, 

Gina

 

 

 

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Hello out there

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Greetings to you all,

I always hesitate to write because it raises questions that alas.....I have still no answers for.  But Al asked me to send out a note to you about an upcoming gig for the Still Standing (the Three Crows House Band) and I thought it might be a good time to brush up on the rusty blogging skills.  I see it's been nearly a year since I've written to you all.  Time flies.

The pertinent information is that The Still Standing will be performing with its full cast of characters this coming Sunday from 1-4 PM at Applejack's Orchard.  Click here for more information: https://www.applejackorchards.com/   It's always fun to have a field trip to the orchard in the Fall and this could be your opportunity.  The full cast as you will remember is: Al Sterner, Shari  Zimmerman, Marcus Hanson, Mike Miller and Carl Blanz.

Many of you have visited us over the summer at the Delano Community Market on Saturdays from 9 AM- noon.  The market runs from May through October and is a good place to pick up some coffee beans, (yes we're still roasting) a cold press or cup of hot coffee (depending on the weather) and a baked goodie to go with your coffee while you're shopping.  Now that fall has set in, there's no better time.  The Community Market is held in the Riverside Commons, 10 Bridge Avenue E, just across the river from the old Three Crows site.  If there is an event going on at the Commons, look for us in the parking lot by the Legion as will be the case this weekend.  Pray for sunshine.

I know for many of you, the question still on your minds is "will Three Crows ever reopen?".  I know this because I cannot leave my house without someone asking me where or telling me how much they miss it.  And I appreciate that people care, yes I do!

It is not an easy question to answer I think because finding the right location is complex and probably because I am starting a time of my life when it's tempting to think of retirement.  So how does one fit a Three Crows into their life and still have a life I wonder when I'm not exploring yet another one of the buildings in town or revisiting an old scenario yet again.

I hope you are all (well mostly all, some of you have not been so lucky) happy you have been spared from going down all the rabbit holes with me.  Sometimes I get very tired of the whole thing and need to take a break from having any conversation about it at all.  I think that's what this summer has been.  

And now it's fall and all I can do is report the facts and try to avoid being either overly or underly optimistic.  We are exploring yet another building and I still have the website, I still have the phone number, I still have the mailbox and I still have the espresso machine.  In the meantime, keep the faith and know that when I finally and absolutely can tell you the plan, whatever it turns out to be, I will.  In the meantime, I hope to see you at the market!

And perhaps I will take up writing a bit, if you allow it, on subjects that might be other than Three Crows music schedule and menu offerings.  I rather miss it and by writing to you, at least I have the illusion you are still there.

Enjoy the day, 

Gina

PS  As I write this it's pouring rain and I'm not looking at the river flood prediction.  This is a good thing.  Have you seen the flood wall they are putting in where Three Crows stood?

 

 

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The Holi- Days of Winter

Dear all,

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  The Winter Solstice is just past and we are in the midst of Hanukkah.  This is a good time for me.  Odd this year, as the patterns of my life of the last ten years are pretty different which has the effect of having me feel free and untethered in turns.  

I have potatoes cooking on the stove, to make lefse. Today for the first time, I will roll it and bake it by myself but make no mistake,  I’ll have plenty of memories for company. There is first of all the recipe.  Which to use?  My mother’s or my Grandma Helen’s?  Both are good, their differences are small, but I remember well the discussions between my mom and dad about which recipe to use from year to year.  I always end up using the one my mother gave me when I got married.  Probably because I miss her the most.  

I will use the Bethany griddle she gave me as a gift one year, and the sticks my dad carved and my grandmother’s rolling pin with the sock my mother added.  I will hear my Dad’s voice supervising the rolling as he and my Uncle Glen did while sitting back on their stools, sticks in hand, baking the thin sheets my cousin Linda and I handed to them. By now we were in our late forties and accomplished bakers, but they couldn’t resist advising us and mostly we only rolled our eyes at each other. 

I remember the last two years, the huge stacks of lefse Carl and I made on the best lefse baking surface since the wood stove, the flat top in the Three Crows kitchen.  We turned up the flames under that big plate of steel, mixed up the dough in the big Hobart Mixer and built a stack so high it stuck together from the pressure and heat.  Lesson learned.  We managed to save just  enough for the lutefisk diners, but barely. 

There will be time soon, to follow the lead of mother nature and quiet ourselves to prepare for the coming of another season of planting and growing and harvesting, however we find to do that.  But for now, I plan to enjoy whatever the season brings my way.  Friends, family, gatherings, time alone, the rituals, the cooking, the eating, the lights, the fires, the puzzles!  And I imagine I will indulge in a little time wondering how next year will be different, with the arrival of a new grand baby in the Spring.  I wonder if she will ever make lefse and think of me.... so the wheel of the year turns.

This is a poem I love about this time of year. Wishing you the best of the season, connections to the past, the present and the future!

Enjoy ,

Gina

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This Saturday: Old Fashioned Christmas in Downtown Delano

Dear All,

This Saturday, December 6,  is The Old Fashioned Christmas in Downtown Delano.  It starts at 10 AM and goes until 3 PM.  When you get there, go to City Hall to find out about all the activities going on all over town, times, and maps.

There are two things you should know about Three Crows.  We will be selling coffee and coffee beans in both 1 lb. and 1/2 lb. gift bags as a part of the Art Walk.  Stop by Total Living Commitment right next to the Post Office on River Street, to take a little break and to stock up on beans for you and yours !

In the evening there will be an Open House sponsored by Three Crows Ghosts of Christmas Past and Joy of Christmas Present on the top floor of the Heritage Center.  There will be music by Still Standing (The Three Crows House Band) and friends from 6-9 PM.  

You are welcome to bring your own beverage/libation.  We will have some hot cider and the Light of Christ Youth Group will be selling pizza by the slice as a fundraiser.  

Admission is free and your generous donations to the musicians are most welcome.

The Tree Lighting will be taking place by the Flagpole at 7 PM sponsored by the Delano Chamber of Commerce.

This is the 5th annual Old Fashioned Christmas.  There are more things to see and do every year for every age. We hope you can make it down!

For more details visit: http://www.delanoheraldjournal.com/guide/oldchristmas.html

Enjoy the Day!

Gina

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Requiem for a Building

 Thankful 4 U

Thankful 4 U

Dear all,

It’s kind’ve gloomy in Delano today.  It rather matches my mood. Some of you who drive through or live in Delano (or watch Facebook) have been watching the process of the old building coming down. The river front is now clean, devoid of buildings and the flood plain enlarged.  The city can now put up a wall from one end to the other without the worry of a breach at Three Crows. 

We’ve moved the piano in and out for the last time.  Brad and Greg and Jeff and Stevie and all the rest have cut their last hole in the floor to pump out the basement in a race to keep the water level below the floor boards while the river fills it up almost, but not quite as fast as they empty it.

When I first bought the old girl, we had a little chat.  She was, as anyone could see, tired.  But I wondered if she was up for one more go.  I guess we know she was.

 

She was a little demanding though.  She and I went round and round about being a coffee shop vs. being a restaurant….  She insisted that we be a restaurant and I insisted I didn’t know how to run a restaurant. I lost that one, but it was what she knew and she knew what people wanted.  First it was the soup and sandwiches, and then the dinners and then the breakfast.  She was tired, but she was a workhorse!  

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And she was leaky!   Brad was always trying to stop all the leaks from the pipes, the faucets, the drains, the dishwasher not to mention the roofs!   Water ran the place.  Coming in whenever it wanted, and leaving the same way.  I first discovered this when I was scrubbing out the storeroom floor (the room in the back that hung over the river).  I knocked over the bucket of water and by the time I came back with the mop, I found it had flowed downhill to the back corner and leaked right out.  Same with the basement. 

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At first I had nightmares about the river flooding.  The way this building was situated flew in the face of good sense, to always build upon a dry and sturdy foundation.  But I had to give that up.  Having heard the stories of the water coming in every Spring as the river rose, and then flowing back out again with apparently no ill effects. I had to learn to go with the flow and believe instead that somehow we could work it all out.  A huge lesson learned about trust and community.

 

 

 

 

 

She did have her sense of humor!  There was this hallway between the kitchen and the dining room and everybody that worked there found that whenever walking from the dining room to the kitchen (and vice versa) to get something, more times than not, they had to go back to the dining room to pick up their bubble as we called it to remember what it was they were going into the kitchen for. 

 

Somehow in that hallway, our memory was sucked out of our heads.  This was such a joke and such a problem that I took to writing down a list to carry with me into the other room, such was the power of I the double doorways.



Last week, I stopped in to say goodbye.  It might have been nice to have a little ceremony, but there didn’t seem to be time for that, so I did my own version.  I went from room to room and remembered all the good things that happened in that place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was the kitchen, where the the sunlight streamed in the window and shined onto the work table where we baked countless scones and cried buckets of tears over the onions we were chopping.

Memories of roast chicken and walleye and caramel rolls and chocolate chip cookies and Swedish pancakes cooked on that well worn range.  hmmm.

 

And the Roaster Room where Brad and I ate many dinners perched at the coffee roaster and the bar where Marcus stirred up his sake version of Margaritas and  Manhattan’s and entertained us after hours with a spontaneous version of Figaro.  

The Dining room with memories of music like the first time Becky Schlegel showed up with my old schoolmate Gordy Johnson and blew us away with her sweet voice and her unexpectedly funny comments.  The bus bearing Simple Gifts and Billy McLaughlin who transformed the tiny stage into a winter wonderland that held us in a world of magic for a couple hours each Christmas season.  Memories of our House band led by Al Sterner, eventually joined by Shari Zimmerman who shyly sang her first songs.  I thought about the last time she sang on that stage, belting out her rendition of Crazy.

 

 

 

The Saturday Jam, the New Year’s Eve’s, the Table of Knowledge.  Well, there’s 10 years worth of memories and stories……..

 

 

 

 

Not knowing how to gather all the good juju, as Mitch would call it, I just breathed it in and blew it into a bottle and put on the top and now they sit on the shelf in my office ...and in our hearts, waiting to be let loose in a new home.  

 

 

 

When I saw what a threat the river was, I knew that my job would be to move Three Crows to higher ground and eventually pass it on.  I still think that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wish you a satisfying Thanksgiving spent with people you love, memories of good times past and with hope for the future.

Gina

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  Ghosts of Three Crows Past and the Joys of the Present.  Mark your calendars!  In just a little over a week it will be the Old Fashioned Christmas in downtown Delano on December 6.  It starts at 10 AM and there are many things to see and do for the whole family.  Three Crows will be in the Total Commitment Living Buidling (by the post office) selling coffee beans  and best of all, we are sponsoring an evening music event at the Heritage Center.  Al Sterner and Shari Zimmerman, Marcus Hanson and many friends will be there to take the stage from 6-9 PM.  You can bring a beverage of choice (yes wine or beer are fine) and there will be pizza for sale.  The Tree Lighting will be taking place at 7 PM that night.  







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Food Challenge, what I learned.

Dear all,

As you might remember, when we last met, for 10 days I decided to go local.  The challenge was to eat food from within a 100 miles of my home plus 10 exotics.  I started on Wednesday October 15 and ended on Friday October 24th.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. It was fun! It was like a treasure hunt, reading labels like a mad woman and finding (Eureka!)  this product and that.  One find was a wonderful cheddar cheese made in Cokato!  And a flour mill that grows and grinds heritage varieties of wheat in North Branch called Sunrise Flour Mill that people swear doesn't interfere with their system like regular wheat does..  Did you know there’s a little outline of Minnesota logo that appears on Minnesota products which you can see in the photo above.
  2. We really do live in a great place.  We have dairy, grains, meat, eggs, honey, and lots of vegetables (in October anyway).  I’m happy I don't live in the desert!
  3. It was challenging.  I’m used to having a cupboard of spices and vinegars and oils and odd things like fish sauce, tuna and noodles. Spices tripped me up more than anything.  Yes it was tempting to cheat as it turns out and I did cheat, mostly unintentionally. For instance,  I accidentally ate cheese curds with cajun spices and I counted it as one spice although I'm sure it contained at least 10 things, none local and when I inadvertently put pepper in my soup out of habit,  I pretended I didn’t.
  4. People are generous.  But I knew that.  I was offered everything from local honey to eggs to venison to chickens to kimchee, all sorts of vegetables, herbs, black turtle beans!  I could have easily eaten from a 10 mile radius and not suffered at all.  

 

5. I learned a lot about what’s available in Minnesota.  This was half the reason I did this.  I wanted to see what we have around us.  I learned that there are a lot of opportunities for growing things that aren’t readily available and plenty of room for new products if one was so inclined.   I learned that even the co-ops have very few items produced locally, other than produce.  I learned that the labeling is sketchy as to where things are grown.

6. I learned a lot about me. Unexpectedly, I loved having fewer choices.  I had a shelf in my refrigerator with food in the “have at it“ category.  Faced with a squash, I  fixed squash.  Faced with a homemade loaf of bread that was about to go stale,  I ate it up.  I wasted not a thing, except some beets that I had cooked a week earlier and when I got to them they were very sadly inedible.  The food felt almost sacred to me, knowing who grew it and how dear it was.  Eating local food was not cheap but I easily came out ahead since I didn’t eat out, except the once when I had brussel sprouts and chicken for dinner at The Boulevard and was more thrilled about that than probably any of the other diners that night. 

7.  Even after only ten days it was kind of weird to face my full cupboards.  I’l be interested to see what sticks, because I’m quite sure a lot of it will.  I know I’ll continue to read labels and be happy about any new finds I make.

8. My list of exotics:  salt, lemons, coffee, sugar ( not really necessary except I had some homemade grape jelly (oh oh… pectin!), cajun spices (we’ve already talked about this), wine, oil, tea (another accident and then I remembered I have a whole patch of peppermint that makes great tea!),  liquor ( OK I’m categorizing these together-  cheating once again.  I had a Negroni  (3 items although one could be considered a wine, and then I had a little Scotch, geez) cinnamon, and of course the pepper. Thank you for hearing my confession, such a rule follower I am.

9. I feel like I have a new appreciation for History.  I seem to remember, there’s been a lot of fuss over spices, tea and alcohol now and then over the past.

10. I think we make a lot of assumptions about our food that upon a little scrutiny are not true.  Local is a whole different category.  Organic, healthy are totally different.  Much of this comes from far away. That is good and all, but for some reason, having a relationship with the growers and producers, has a whole different level of meaning for me.  I did use Kemps milk some.  But I don’t actually know those farmers so although their website does feature some of the dairy farmers and their families and technically local ( I think but can't know for sure), it felt different.  I had a thought wondering if a restaurant could survive on truly local food, probably spurred by my experience with the brussel sprouts and chicken.  To be totally transparent would be an interesting experiment.  There could be a list of exotics and everything else could be produced within whatever amount of miles would make it work.  There are restaurants that do a pretty good job of this but they do the opposite, listing the local items, not the exotics and they are in a bigger market.  Delano might not be the place for this experiment, but interesting. 

I do believe that what we pay attention to grows.  So if it makes sense to encourage the local growers because of the benefit to our planet and to our souls, the bigger fuss we make about local products, the more there will be. It's good to know when we feel so powerless about a lot of things, we do have some say in this area.

Enjoy the week and happy Halloween!

Gina

 

 

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What's a local food challenge?

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Dear all,

Disclaimer:  This post does not contain an announcement either.  I am still working on finding a new home for Three Crows so keep the faith!  In the meantime I hope you will read on…….

I was recently in Seattle to attend a women’s permaculture gathering.  I’ve never been to the northwest so it was quite a revelation to see what a beautiful place it is.  I felt at home there, like Minnesota but with ocean and mountains…it was sunny while I was there, making me suspicious that the ceaseless comments about the cloudy, rainy weather is all a ruse to keep everyone in the world from moving there….. 

The gathering was held in a church camp in a beautiful forest of cedar, doug fir, ferns and moss.  Long story short, I got inspired by one of the speakers.  Her name is Vicki Robin and she has a book out called Blessing the Hands that Feed Us: what eating closer to home can teach us about food, community and our place on earth.  She’s also done a Ted Talk about going on a month long local food challenge which means that for a month she ate food grown near her home.  In this case, within 10 miles of her home, plus 4 exotics.  I really got from listening to her, that this could make a fine adventure. 

Evidently others thought so too, so she’s helping to orchestrate a 10 day local food challenge in October.  This time the rules are to eat food within a 100 mile radius and add 10 exotics.  Wimpier version for sure, but given the time of year I think it’s a good start for me so I’m going to do it!  

During this little hiatus from running the restaurant, I’ve been cooking which has been restoring me at a fundamental level of well being and especially when I cook food that comes from people I know or the tomatoes or cucumbers or herbs I’ve grown myself. There's a name for that now, it's called  relational eating

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I plan to start my local food challenge on Wednesday October 15 and carry on through Saturday October 25.  Those dates will include Friday October 24 which somehow has become National Food Day and the last day of our Delano Community Market.  I figure if worst comes to worst I can live on squash and apples… and the tomatoes I’ve been roasting in the oven will surely add some interest, and kale loves cold weather.   I think maybe there should be some local wheat but I might need to put yeast on my exotic list, or I could learn how to capture wild yeast……I have a local chicken in the freezer which is very comforting….So it begins!

I’m also thinking that it would be fun to do a couple barter, food exchange days at the Saturday Delano Community Market on the 18th and the 25th.  Saturday October 25th will be the last day of the Market until next Spring.  A food barter/exchange seems a fitting way to end. I plan to communicate a bit on the Three Crows Facebook page  about this.  What I’m excited about is to experience what it’s like to eat only local food, hunt for sources, and share stories..

I think I’ve talked a couple other folks into joining me. I would welcome more company on this adventure. If you want to help the cause you can sign up on the 10 day local food challenge website and participate in the survey and it's also a good place to get inspired, in fact googling around about this you will find quite a lot.   It makes adventures more fun when you know others are on the same path and understand your crazy excitement over finding local honey at the grocery store.

I was sure curious about which four foods were on Vicki’s “exotics” list, the foods that come from afar that she allowed herself.  She picked salt, lemons, oil and coffee! She made her butter from the milk she got from the neighbors cow….Hope Butter is 101 miles from my house but Land O Lakes is only 38 miles…I wonder where the cows live?  

Enjoy the week!

Gina

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Heritage Festival in Delano this Satuday

Dear all,

The news around these parts is that the farmers saw frost last Saturday night.  While many fall crops welcome the cold because it sweetens their flavor, it is the end for others.  Enjoy those summer tomatoes, because they’re about to disappear until next year.

 Frosty plants in Greg Reynolds field Saturday morning

Frosty plants in Greg Reynolds field Saturday morning

 The burning shows up in the afternoon

The burning shows up in the afternoon

Those of us living in town saw no signs of frost at all. I had never heard that a full moon can affect the frost until about a week ago.  Without going into the science of it, the theory is that if cold weather and a full moon coincide, a frost is more likely to occur than low temperatures alone.

 It looks bad for the tomatoes...

It looks bad for the tomatoes...

I love Fall even if it does mean Winter is next. With everyone back in school and the days growing shorter, the Friday night traffic to the school for football games has gotten thick and the weekend activity at the orchards is booming.   Still Standing, our House Band was at Apple Jacks Orchard on Sunday with a small but loyal crowd of Three Crows refugees holding down the front rows. I always like a ritual trip to the orchard in the Fall to soak up the memories the apple-y smells evoke and with one under my belt already, I think I might have time to fit two trips in this year.

 Still Standing the Three Crows House Band

Still Standing the Three Crows House Band

And if one is going to go the orchard, it's a given that one is going to bring home apples and then you will want to make a “Crumble”.   The recipe is another one from Nesa who taught us marvelous basic recipes while we were in France this summer.  I’m including it here. It can be adapted to any fruit (she used bananas, yes bananas). I think it’s worth memorizing.   How much you make will depend on the size of your ovenproof dish.   A cup of butter, a cup of sugar and 2 cups of flour is always a good place to start for a family size.

The ratio:  1:1:2

Butter- melted  1 part

Sugar- 1 part

Flour- 2 parts

Add cinnamon, nuts and vanilla if desired.  (with Nesa’s sliced bananas, she added almonds, cinnamon and raisins)

Mix dough. It should not be sticky so if it is, add flour a little bit at a time until the mixture gets crumbly.

Mix fruit into the dough or pat half of dough into the bottom of a glass pan, add fruit, then more crumbles patted on top but let the fruit show through.  Bake in a medium (350) oven until done (when the fruit bubbles and the top is browned a bit).

If you have leftover crumble, count yourself lucky and refrigerate or freeze the extra to use another day.  You can make another crumble or a tart ( press firmly only as a bottom crust and maybe a glaze on the fruit arranged in a pleasing manner) or use it as a streusel topping on muffins or cake. 

 The Granite Nugget you're hunting for  -  it looks large but is only a few inches wide.

The Granite Nugget you're hunting for  -  it looks large but is only a few inches wide.

This Saturday is the Delano Heritage Festival. This is truly a community wide celebration and will include things of interest for the whole family.  It will stretch from the Senior Center, down Bridge and to the Riverside Commons.  It starts at 9 AM and will go until 3 PM.  Come with an appliance and participate in the Appliance Parade at noon (meet at the stage) .  Bring a story and share it at the recording booth at the Senior Center. Or pick up clues at the Senior Center or at the Historical Society Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delano-Franklin-Township-Area-Historical-Society-of-Minnesota/137730329626013  for the the Granite Nugget Hunt.  There will be art and food, a petting zoo and jump thingy.  The Boy and Girl Scouts will be there, also a talent stage and the Climb Theater…. AND we will be serving coffee at the Market along with coffee beans to sell.  Well it’s simply not to be missed, so come on down.

Enjoy the week,

Gina

 

 

 

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Living in the Kitchen

 Bounty of the Season

Bounty of the Season

Dear all,

I’ve been cleaning and it makes me so happy.  I know, weird huh?  For example, I cleaned my refrigerator last week, and because I wasn’t in a big hurry, I found two burned out light bulbs I didn’t know existed.  When they were replaced, my clean refrigerator was like that advertisement where upon opening the refrigerator door, radiant light and a chord from a holy choir pour out. 

I’ve also been cooking in my kitchen.  In seven years, I’ve never cooked in it much since owning a restaurant kind of interferes with that in numerous ways.  I've also had several unhappy experiences in this kitchen and one of the reasons isn’t really the fact that I hate my stove top, (which I do, passionately, it's electric and very slow to react, need I say more?) it’s because I haven’t really “lived” in it.  And you have to “live” in a kitchen to be able to cook I found out. 

 As I said, I’ve had some less than stellar moments cooking in my kitchen.  Take Thanksgiving for example.  Cooking dinner for my family required no less than 8 trips to the store or Three Crows to get a bit of this and that because I don’t really know what’s in those cupboards.  And my oven has it’s own opinions about what 350 means as demonstrated by the fact that once the turkey got done in 3 hours instead of 5.  Not knowing your equipment, what’s in your cupboards or having any momentum makes for a cold kitchen as opposed to a warm, lived in one, and that makes all the difference.  

By momentum, I mean that there are layers of cooking that build on each other over time. Since we got home from France,  I started cooking, as opposed to eating at Three Crows (obviously), making a salad, Brad grilling dinner, eating out at another restaurant or ordering a pizza.  After a few weeks of cooking I have built up some momentum.  I now have a container of cooked tomatoes and eggplant from Monday's visit to Peterson't Produce.  Last night  I made some polenta to go with it and  tomorrow, I might use it with pasta. Voila’.  I also  know I need to make more aioli soon as I have only a smudge left,  I  have a good supply of  creme fraiche (yea!) and I have bacon, tomatoes, bread and therefore a BLT whenever I want.  Some ingredients in the refrigerator,  vague plans, yesterday's trip to the produce stand, a cookbook you bought and finally paged through for ideas, all contribute to momentum.

When we were in France, we had some cooking classes. Nese used fresh foods in simple recipes that were not scientific which I found freeing.   I’m including a recipe Nesa gave us that I've fallen in love with, as much for its simplicity and flexibility as the concentrated flavor that comes with roasting fruits.

 This is Nesa in her kitchen in Dufort, France.

This is Nesa in her kitchen in Dufort, France.

 

Take some plums (or any stone fruit) and cut them in half.  Remove the stones.  Find a glass pan that will hold the fruit in one layer.  Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with sugar,  and then she showed us, the sugar was maybe an eighth of an inch deep. Dot with butter.  Lay the fruit, cut side down in one layer over the sugar.  Bake in a medium oven (350) until soft and juicy.  Yes leave the peeling on, it holds the tender fruit together after it’s baked.  Serve with whatever you want.  Play! she would say.

My favorite thing to serve it with is creme fraiche and since it’s hard to find and expensive to buy in the states, here’s a recipe for that too, and you will notice, very scientific!

Creme Fraiche

2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup yogurt w/ acidophilus cultures

Place the cream buttermilk and yogurt in a sterilized jar or bowl.  Stir vigorously to mix.  Cover the container with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for four to eight hours, or overnight, until thickened.  Refrigerate once the creme fraiche has almost reached the desired consistency.  It will continue to thicken as it chills.  Use within one week.  (But I’ve had it in my refrigerator longer than that and it’s fine.)

Besides cooking and cleaning, I have been looking at buildings and spreadsheets of facts and figures and doing a lot of listening and thinking about the future of Three Crows.  There are sparks of inspiration every week and ideas are coming better into focus.  I know that’s not an answer to the questions at hand, but I am enjoying the time, noticing what I miss and what I don’t and learning from it.  I hope you are doing the same.

I do have a few announcements of upcoming dates.  First of all, The Three Crows House band, "Still Standing" is playing at Apple Jack's Orchard on Sunday August 14 from 1-4 PM.  If you’ve been missing them like I’ve been missing them, here’s  your chance to hear them AND snag an apple donut while you’re at it.

The Delano Heritage Festival is coming on Saturday, September 20th and it’s another date to mark on your calendar.  One of the great things about Delano is that there are so many organizations doing so many things it’s hard to keep track of them all.  A while back the Historical Society started the Heritage Festival as a way to celebrate Delano’s past, present and future.  Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce was celebrating the Fall Harvest and after a couple years they wisely combined the two.  The Community market joined in for the last couple years and the Festival keeps growing. This year it will run from 9 AM to 3 PM and includes a Talent Stage, an extended market day, an Appliance Parade, (yes an Appliance Parade) a Granite Nugget hunt and more! You are invited to attend but also to participate.  For example if you want a slot at the talent stage, any family rated talent is welcome,  Contact Mitch Reume by email to get on the schedule: <mitch@crowriverchurch.com> 

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What's Next?

 Bon jour....sneaking off to France for a cup of joe

Bon jour....sneaking off to France for a cup of joe

Dear all,

I scarcely know where to begin. I feel a little like Dorothy who’s been swept up into a tornado and lands in Munchkin Land with a dead body on her hands.  Only in this case instead of the bad witch being dead (what was her name?)  Dorothy here, finds the casualty is of another sort.  Her restaurant done in by being too close to a river is facing a mob sorely in need of coffee and some answers.  

For those of you just joining us, and for me, just landing in Munchkin Land, let’s review the the summer just past.

 

First of all there was this endless winter. I believe it lasted until May sometime. 

 Beautiful isn't it?

Beautiful isn't it?

And then Brad and I had a porch built. (This seems irrelevant but it comes into play soon). 

 the porch

the porch

We finally made it to June and we were casually looking at a new building for Three Crows to move into as the city had offered to buy my present building so they could build a flood wall….  but then Hutchinson got too much rain one Thursday.............and I found out there was a torrent of water making it’s way down the river to Delano.

 oh oh

oh oh

So amidst dire predictions we starting emptying the storeroom and sandbagging.... and on Saturday morning a whole crew sandbagged in the hot sun some more, and then some more, to protect Three Crows on three sides from the river and the city built a clay dike down the middle of River Street. 

 &nbsp;a job well done

 a job well done

Meanwhile it was Summer Solstice and we had a lot of food and a bunch of people looking for a party- so we moved the party to our new porch.  (There you see?)

 Summer Solstice... what better time to celebrate! &nbsp;Thank you Hellmich's!!

Summer Solstice... what better time to celebrate!  Thank you Hellmich's!!

With perfect timing our daughter Liza, her boyfriend Art and Link (their dog) arrived in the middle of the night, just missing the party but in time to help with the flood prevention and aftermath.  (Happy vacation!)  

On Sunday in less than two hours, a hoard of people came in answer to a Facebook blast, to help us haul things out of the building and into trailers and trucks, before the city closed up the clay dike in front of Three Crows, to protect the rest of the town from the rising water.  Meanwhile we were up to 7 trash pumps, madly trying to keep ahead of the river that wanted to come up from the basement under the kitchen, and about to have the electricity to the building turned off.  (You will remember, water and electricity do not mix). (And lets not forget  there were reporters blasting the story across the US, I heard)

 All it takes is muscle

All it takes is muscle

Facing many more days and  dark nights of running trash pumps to fight a river that was clearly proving itself bigger and more powerful than us, on Monday, June 23rd at about 3 PM,  we pulled out the pumps and let the water in.  If it sounds like we disconnected life support, that’s exactly how it felt.  

 The river wins.....

The river wins.....

That evening Mitch took the famous photo of me in the river…but in his defense, he kindly got in the river with me.  

By the following week, the river was down and the city picked up all the clay from the dike and prepared the streets  for the 4th of July parade. 

 Delano's safe and the show must go on-time to move the clay dike for the parade

Delano's safe and the show must go on-time to move the clay dike for the parade

We went up north to our cabin to give our still visiting, company a little peace and quiet.

 Now this is more like a vacation

Now this is more like a vacation

Over the next few week we worked on securing the new building and gathering up our far flung belongings. The week before we left on our year long planned trip to Europe, the water in the proposed new building basement was down enough to be inspected.  With new information  and much reluctance, we decided that although this grand old, turn of the century building held promise for someone, it was not going to work for us.  And then we went to France for three weeks and had a wonderful time.  Thank you.  (More about that,  another time perhaps).

 Another world far away

Another world far away

So, here we are.  I think I’m over the jet lag and unpacking and I might have identified the curious, itching rash I developed as hives. Brad is working on finishing the porch and it seems the Saturday market and jam are working well.  It’s wonderful to see all the fresh vegetables and familiar, English speaking faces.  And there’s much that’s missing; the music, the people, the energy of Three Crows.  And it has been made abundantly clear, that many of you miss it too.

I don’t have any answers, in fact the joke is that we’re going to get t-shirts made to wear around town that say, I don’t know!  There have been countless offers of help of every kind and for that I am grateful. 

I really don’t know what’s next. Another building?  Something else? ( I was kind of hoping you guys would have this figured out by the time I got back)  

For me, anything good that I’ve done has come from a place of listening, feet on the ground, quiet.  Eventually from the quiet comes the inspiration for the next step and from there the next.  This is the only way I know how to do things. 

I don’t know what the next step is but today it was to write to all of you.  I intend to keep writing. It gives me some structure. And I need to have patience, not something I come by naturally.  Please remind me.

 Yes, it is one of those shots you take accidentally, but it seemed useful......although the critic in me notices my foot if out of focus.

Yes, it is one of those shots you take accidentally, but it seemed useful......although the critic in me notices my foot if out of focus.

Enjoy the day,

Gina

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Three Crows and Dream Green

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Three Crows and Dream Green

Dear all,

We’ve been watching a Robin’s nest built in the crook of the gutter.  We watched them build the nest, sit on the nest and then watched the little hungry beaks open to be fed worms and bugs.  We watched the parents sit on a tree branches, catching their breath before flying in for the next round of begging, stuffing, hunting for more.  

This morning we’ve been watching the little birds now perched on the edge of the nest and wildly flapping their wings.  They have to take turns as there’s only room for one to flap at a time while the other clings to the edge of the nest against the house.

Meanwhile… our cat woke up from his nap and found himself on house arrest…..

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Silver Linings

Dear all,

I hope you all had a happy 4th of July.  We spend the 4th “up north” and  if felt eerie to come back.  I know from past years that there wasn’t an inch of sidewalk showing on both sides of the streets on Friday morning.  I know there were Shriners on little motor cars speeding in impossibly tight circles, horses prancing through complicated drills, lots of smiling people waving from convertibles and floats, concoctions of active imaginations driving down the middle of River Street.  

I imagine that from Wednesday night until Saturday night the park was transformed by loud music, beer tents, a million lights, state fair sized rides, bingo and the

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Receding Waters

 Greg the flood fighter extraordinaire and one of our heroes

Greg the flood fighter extraordinaire and one of our heroes

Dear all,

I’m sure I’ll look back on this couple weeks some time in the future and wonder at the seismic shift in the life of Three Crows. I'm too close right now to see it in perspective. Many of you are wondering how I'm doing.  I'm doing just fine and sleeping like a rock, although with many dreams of water where it doesn't quite belong.

The chaos is what’s daunting for me.  The out of placeless and up in the airiness of everything.  I crave order and pattern in my life and there is nothing more satisfying right now than doing the dishes and putting them away.  

There’s lots of “first this”, and “then that”.  First the river has to go down, then the water has to be turned back on,  then the silt can be mopped out, then we can move the shelves out of the store room and into the front room, then they can be cleaned and then the clay dyke has to come down, then the trailer of canned goods in Mitch’s trailer can be emptied back on to the clean shelves, then the trailer can be used to haul furniture up to Jeff and Steph’s new cabin this weekend. 

This is but one of the many scenarios Melinda helped me figure out on Friday, or was it Thursday last week.  All plans made knowing there will always be a monkey wrench or two thrown in to make things interesting as if things aren't interesting enough.  

Meanwhile, people have been sending lots of condolences and encouraging notes hoping Three Crows will rise again like a slightly soggy phoenix, commenting on the photo Mitch took of me in the river, and best of all I love the refugee stories. 

It seems the Table of Knowledge, what the regular locals call themselves, have set up a camp of sorts at Coborn’s.  I haven’t been there yet, but they were kind enough to invite me.  

Gretchen invited the musicians that participate in the morning jam to meet on Saturday at her house to make some music.  She’s had a space just waiting for people to make music in for years and I saw a photo so I know she had a good turnout.

People wrote pleading to buy coffee beans, so we took some down to the market on Saturday to sell.  We sold out and are planning to have more this Saturday so stop down.  You can also order them online.  If you haven't been to the market, put it on your list of things to do.  Three Crows is sponsoring a stage with live music each week, it's  a chance to get a music fix.

The Fourth of July is going to happen in all it’s glory again this year.  Everyone is working like crazy to get the flood mess cleaned up.  The clay wall came down on Tuesday and Bridge Avenue is finally open to traffic.  The street needs a good cleaning… do we dare wish for rain….maybe not…..

Some of you know that I started Three Crows after experiencing a community that didn’t have a place.  It’s a long story, but the upshot was that I was pretty sure I could create community by creating a welcoming place where people could connect with each other.  The coffee shop and restaurant seemed the perfect means of support for such a place and that’s in a nutshell how Three Crows was hatched.  That idea lives on through all of you.

Thank you all for your notes and kind thoughts and offers of help.  It heartens me and us, beyond measure.

I’ll be in touch next week.  

Enjoy the Fourth!

Gina, Marcus and Al, the music guys.

 

 

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