Summer and State Fair wrap ups... autumn beckons

I blinked and suddenly realize I'm eating candy corn for breakfast. Autumn calls.

It's been a heck of a summer filled with change and melancholy, and while current events have me nervous about the future I am glad to be on this road driving away from the recent past. While summer wasn't exactly what we'd hoped for, we did celebrate every opportunity that came our way. And man oh man, those celebrations were phenomenal.

In August T and I donned kitty aprons and prepared a Nordic summer supper to support Planned Parenthood. The highlight this year was our signature cocktail, the Ruth Bader GINGERburg (1/2 ounce ginger syrup, 1 ounce each Tattersall gin and grapefruit crema, shake with ice. Pour into white wine glass, finish with sparkling wine, garnish with cucumber.). The meal we served told a story of epiphany and growth (ask me about it if you care for details): an amuse of potato chip topped with creme fraiche and Lake Superior herring roe, rye puffs filled with smoked trout and apple salad, summer tomato pie, farmers market salad, a few recipes inspired by Chef Marcus Samuelsson's "Aquavit" including caramelized steak with lingonberry BBQ and corn mashed potatoes, and a dessert of sweet corn ice cream and blonde kladdkaka (Swedish gooey cake).

Then there was the MPR Raccoon. The little raccoon was seen climbing up a tall building in downtown St. Paul, rather than down to safety. We collectively held our breaths as we watched the raccoon slowly, stealthy climb for 20 hours without food or water; up 23 stories of the building that houses MPR. Her fate became a symbol of surviving wretched events of the past two years. As afternoon became night we watched and waited. Then morning came and we heard the news that the little raccoon made it safely to the top of the building where animal control lured her into a cage filled with cat food and water, and she was later released into a reserve with, presumably, no tall buildings. If the MPR Raccoon can make it, perhaps we all can.

Immediately following MPR Raccoon's climb and capture, t-shirts and tote bags were available for purchase with proceeds going to The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota that happens to be in our neighborhood. I was happy to order two t-shirts the day they became available, and scored a pair of MPR Raccoon socks at the State Fair. In fact, the raccoon was a minor celebrity across the Fairgrounds especially in seed art.

Speaking of the Minnesota State Fair... she was a grand one this year! I had an amazing opportunity to demo at the brand spanking new Cambria Kitchen in the Creative Activities Building. What a coup that was! We billed it "Nordic food geek goes to the Fair," and I cooked up traditional Nordic foods with State Fair ingredients: SPAM lefse pizza, deep fried pickled herring with lingonberry hot sauce, aebleskiver with cheese curds, and Not-So Mini Ginger Pinchy Donuts. It was an amazing day and a darned good Fair.

Image above from @susanskovbo

The Minnesota State Fair is all about relationships: our relationships with ourselves, our neighborhoods, our state, our country; our relationships with agriculture, food, animals, art, craft, media, religion, politics; our relationships with friends and family, foes and and rivals. It is a beautiful microcosm of life, and a reminder that like it or not we are all in this together. We gather together and walk the same paths. We take a lot of ibuprofen and drink some cold beer and listen to music and share Sweet Martha's cookies with strangers. We admire the ribbons won for biggest pumpkin and prettiest goat and best decorated cookies because we love it when our neighbors are succeeding. For 12 days every year we come to this place, we mingle, we stand in lines together, and for the most part we get along.


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