seasonal - Related Content

Hearty Root Vegetable Soup and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Monday, January 22nd 2024 6:00 am

2T  olive oil
1 C yellow onion, diced
1 C celery, diced (2 stalks)
1 C carrot, diced (2-3 whole carrots)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 C parsnip, diced (1 small)
½ pound Yukon gold (Russet or Sweet) potatoes, approximately 2, diced
½ pound turnip or rutabaga, 1 medium, diced
1 C leek, sliced (optional)
2 tsp fresh rosemary or 2/3 tsp dried
2 tsp fresh thyme or 2/3 tsp dried
pinch red pepper flakes
¼ tsp white pepper (optional)
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp dried sage
1 bay leaf
4 C vegetable broth, chicken stock or water
2 C kale or spinach, chopped
½ lemon, freshly squeezed or 1 T bottled lemon juice

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to saute for 1 minute. Then add the rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, pepper, and sage, cook for 1 minute.
Add parsnip and potato and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Don’t stir too often so that they have a chance to caramelize. Add the turnip or rutabaga and leek (if using), cooking for 2-3 minutes, then add broth (or water) and bring to a simmer with bay leaf.
Keep uncovered and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the veggies are tender (depending on how small you cut them, the time will vary). Add salt throughout, taste-testing to be sure you have the right amount. The potatoes will absorb quite a bit of salt, so you’ll likely add more than expected.
With a few minutes left, add the kale/spinach (if using) and allow it to wilt. Remove the bay leaf and stir in a squeeze of lemon before serving. Optional: puree half of the soup with an immersion blender. Garnish with fresh parsley, croutons, or Parmesan, as desired.

Root Vegetables: 
In winter, root vegetables can keep a long time, if stored in a cool, dark, dry place.  Some farm families kept them for months after harvest in root cellars or basement stashes.  They are versatile and can be sauteed in soups, roasted, boiled, mashed, steamed, pureed or braised in stock, wine or beer.  Most root vegetables can be deep-fried or eaten raw or blanched with dip.  Leafy tops like turnip and beet greens are full of nutrients. Root veggies provide fiber, vitamins, and savory or sweet flavor.  Try glazing them with butter and maple syrup or in a gratin with cheesy bread crumb topping!  Rutabagas (called swedes outside the US) also add a distinctive flavor to Cornish Pasties famous in Cornwall and northern Michigan mining towns!

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Story:  Community Supported Agriculture
This is the time of year when root veggies are in season and it's time to consider buying a share in a local farm!  The Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) movement provides a way for eaters to get fresh, seasonal and often organic produce and proteins from a local farm and “put a face” on their food.  It is a fulfilling way to build a relationship with those who provide, veggies, eggs, poultry and meats and to support the local farm economy and ecosystem.  Read on for more information and how to find a farmer that suits you!

A CSA share is a subscription.  A subscriber provides up-front cash to a local farmer.  This investment enables the farmer to finance what is needed to produce healthy, often organic crops, flocks or cattle for the next season of production.  In return, subscribers receive a regular share of what is grown.  The farmer and the eater share both benefits and risks associated with growing food. CSA farmers are often very flexible about what you want to receive in your share.

My Google search for “local csa farms” produced results for at least 7 other farms in the La Crosse area with evocative names like:  Small Family Farm, Harmony Valley Farm, Growing Point Farm, Inch by Inch Organic,  One named Deep Roots Community Farm in La Crosse, provides apples, beef, horse boarding and educational events.  They tell me that beef shares are paid in fall for a Jan/Feb harvest.  Others provide produce, pork, poultry, eggs.  Featherstone Farm in Rushford, MN provides produce to The People’s Coop and other retail and individual subscribers in the area.  You can also search for Winter Farmer's Markets in Wisconsin or wherever you live.

When we subscribed to a CSA, our first CSA “box” or share included spring greens, and later summer squash, garlic, tomatoes, herbs, berries and whatever was ripe at the time on our list of “likes”.  The farm provided recipes that helped us use what the land provided.  It was a welcome and tasty challenge.  Later, we teamed up with an egg producer and then a young couple who raises chickens that taste like chicken!  We got to visit the farm, develop a friendship, and get turkey and turkey eggs from their efforts!  So, if you don’t grow your own, check out one of the many farms who offer shares in flexible sizes and contents that can satisfy your taste and commitment to eating well from the local food system. 

Attached is an article adapted from Asparagus tp Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm=Fresh Seasonal Produce by John Henrikson and Mary Ostrum of the Madison's Fairshare CSA Coalition a site that also provides a way to Find a Farm anywhere in the lower 48 states. Another good read is "Finding Turtle Farm: The story of starting and running an organic farm", written by Angela Tedesco who owned one of the first Community Supported Agriculture operations in the Upper Midwest.

'Any way you like it' Galette

Monday, August 28th 2023 6:00 am

For Fruit Galette:

2 C fruit of your choice in small pieces or wedges (even grapes!)
¼ C sugar
1 T cornstarch, plus more, as needed
Small squeeze of lemon juice
Dusting of grated lemon zest
Pinch of kosher salt
¼ C jam or sweet sauce (optional)
1 home-made or commercial pie crust or puff pastry, thawed if frozen and unrolled, kept cool.
1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water or milk, for brushing on crust.  Use leftover egg for small bit of scrambled snack.

For Vegetable Galette:

1 small onion or large shallot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 C vegetable combo of your choice:
    Hearty greens of your choice (kale, spinach, collards) cut in bite-size pieces (about 8 C will cook down for filling.
    Summer Veggies: about 3 pounds of cubed veggies, such as:  peppers, tomatoes, eggplant &/or summer squash
    Root Vegetables: About 3 pounds of veggies, such as: onion, carrots, parsnips, beets, winter squash cut into 1/8" to ¼" slices to ensure quick cooking in crust
Olive oil to brush on pastry crust

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Make filling of your choice.
For fruit galette: Mix all ingredients (except jam) in a bowl.  Spread jam, if using, in the center of the crust, when rolled out (below) and put fruit mixture on top.  Proceed with instructions.
For greens galette: In medium skillet, add oil and soften onion on medium heat.  Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute more.  Add greens to the pan and stir until softened and wilted.  Add salt and pepper to taste, allow liquids to evaporate.  If greens have released lots of moisture in the pan, drain mixture in a colander before placing greens in the center of the prepared crust.  Continue with instructions.
For summer vegetable galette:  Place veggie mixture on a rimmed baking sheet.  Toss with oil and seasonings.  Roast for 30 minutes, watching so they don’t get too brown.  They will cook some more in the pastry.  Meanwhile, saute onion to soften and add garlic.  Prepare crust, as below.  Scatter cooked onion and garlic on the prepared crust, followed by roasted veggies. Continue with instructions.
For root vegetable galette:  Once the onion and garlic are sauteed, scatter them in the center of the crust.  Then layer the root vegetables on top in whatever arrangement you like.  You will brush both vegetables and crust with olive oil once the galette has been put together.
Line sheet pan with parchment paper or brush with oil (butter for fruit filling)
If frozen, thaw and then unroll pie crust or sheet of puff pastry.  Keep it cool in the fridge if it gets soft.
Roll out the crust into a rough circle and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Add filling as instructed above in the center of the crust, leaving about a 2 inch border around the edges.
Carefully fold the edges over the filling, making folds or pleats every 1-2 inches to make a circle of crust around the edges and a circle of uncovered filling in the center. 
Brush the exposed crust with either egg wash (for fruit galette) or olive oil (for savory versions).
Put the whole pan in the fridge if oven is still heating to prevent crust from getting too soft.
Bake for 25 to 40 minutes, until pastry is lightly browned and filling is bubbling a bit.
Let cool before slicing. 
Note:  Be creative with including a small portion of sauce to the savory galettes, you favorite seasoning, sprinkle with feta, goat cheese, etc. at the end!  Enjoy!


To prepare for a house-guest with special dietary needs, I vowed to clean the fridge in between processing garden produce.  Not my favorite chore, but a challenge.  Margaret and Irene Li's book "Perfectly Good Food" inspired me to put the mystery jars had accumulated in the back to good use. I added peppers to my omelet and black olives to our Italian salad.  Older bread became toasted crumbs to pop in the freezer and duplicate salad dressings fit in one jar and found a temporary place the new "use first" box meant to remind me to do just that.  

The Li sisters learned to be creative with unused food when they realized how much went in the trash in their first restaurant.   The "All the Veggies" Bolognese Sauce posted earlier this summer was from the Food Waste Feast blog that led to them writing Perfectly Good Food: A totally Achievalbe ZERO WASTE APPROACH to HOME COOKING, pictured above.  Their attitude is passionate, playful and practical.   "Small steps are part of the journey, say Irene and Mai.  “Zero waste is an idea and an inspiration, not a state of being.  Small mindful changes can make a big difference, and all of it adds up to saving more food, more money, and more landfill space.”  I appreciate their take on mindfulness in our choices and values around the gift of food.

Learn more from their Recipes and Tips to Feast and reduce waste:

How to make produce last longer
Their youtube videos on How to Cook more creatively and stop throwing away "Perfectly Good Food"!
Tips for Creating a Zero Waste Kitchen A one hour interview with Irene and Me Li moderated by the Conservation Law Foundation, creators of the “Slash Trash Challenge.”

A Mindful Self - Assessment

What food or beverage leftovers are in my fridge right now?
What meals could I fix tonight from what’s in my fridge, freezer and/or pantry?
What is in my fridge or freezer that I might say are “lost” or may never be used?
What do I typically do with leftovers to keep them from the trash?
How often does my fridge/freezer get a “clean out”?  Every month?  Every 6 months? 
What motivates me to do this often-unpleasant task? What causes delay?
Do I have a written (or mental) pantry list of foods I want to keep on hand for meals?  
What 5 things would be on such a Pantry List if I made one?
How often do I make a list when shopping? a meal plan for a week or so?
What edible or ecological way do I regularly use food scraps or leftovers?


"Too Many Tomatoes" : Tips for Eating and Preserving

Monday, September 4th 2023 6:00 am

“Too Many Tomatoes” Tips for Eating and Preserving

Raw Summer Tomato Sauce by Lidia Bastianich

1 pound ripe summer tomatoes, at room temperature
1 to 2 plump peeled, finely minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp salt
3 large basil leaves (about 1 heaping T shredded)
1/8 teaspoon pepperoncino (dried chili flakes), or more or less to taste
1/4 C extra-virgin olive oil
½ C or more grated Parmesan

Rinse tomatoes, drain and wipe dry.  Cut out the core and any other tough parts. 
Working over a big mixing bowl to catch the juices, cut the tomatoes—cherry tomatoes in half; regular tomatoes into 1-inch chunks—and drop them in the bowl.
Smash the garlic cloves with a chef’s knife and chop into a fine paste (easier if you add some of the salt as you chop; mash the garlic bits and salt with the flat side of the knife too.) 
Scatter the garlic paste and the rest of the salt (1/ teaspoon in all) over the tomatoes and stir gently. 
Pile up the basil leaves and cut into thin strips. Scatter these over the tomatoes, then sprinkle in the pepperoncino. 
Pour in the oil, stir and fold to coat the tomatoes and distribute the seasonings.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 - 2 hours.
Foe Pasta: Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Top with 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (aka Parmesan) cheese. 
For Pizza:  Spread on your favorite uncooked pizza crust, add toppings. Bake at 425 for 15-18 minutes. 
For Bruschetta:  Place on slices of toasted bread, topped with grated mozzarella & broil until cheese melts.

Caprese Salad:   Slice tomatoes and slices of fresh mozzarella cheese.  Arrange alternately on a plate.  Drizzle with either pesto, flavored olive oil and/or fresh basil leaves whole or in strips.  Can also be made with halved cherries tomatoes, stirred into small balls of fresh mozzarella and a bit of basil, as above.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad:  Slice tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion.  Cut slices in half if your veggies are large. Place in a bowl or arrange on a plate.  Add your favorite Italian Dressing or Italian seasonings, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.  Can also add sliced green pepper!  Let stand for at least 30 minutes to let flavors penetrate the vegetables.

Oven-Roasted Tomatoes:   On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, place sliced tomatoes (Roma or Amish Paste are perfect) and drizzle with your favorite oil and seasonings.  Roast in a low 175 degree oven, until tomatoes are somewhat dry roasted, but not burned.  Check every 30 minutes or so. Can be spread on bread, used as a pasta/pizza sauce, frozen or canned. 

Crock-Pot Spaghetti Sauce:  Wash and core your tomatoes.  Peeling is optional.  (See below).  Fill any size crock pot to the rim and add olive oil and your favorite Spaghetti Sauce seasonings, such as salt, pepper, red chili flakes, basil, oregano, fresh or powdered garlic, bay leaves.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low overnight until tomatoes are very soft.  Stir as often as you can to prevent sticking.  
Use an immersion blender or a high power upright blender blend to break up seeds, skins and flesh in batches.  If tomato mixture is still hot, fill upright blender only about half full so heat does not build up too.   A food processor will also work, but some seeds/skin may remain. 
Can or freeze sauce as to your preference. 

How to Peel Tomatoes by Blanching
The Food Network advises that we avoid using a vegetable peeler to peel your tomatoes, as it will remove part of the tomato flesh along with the skin.  The most efficient way to peel tomatoes is to blanch the tomatoes by quickly boiling them in hot water, which helps to loosen the skin from the flesh, and then shock them in an ice bath.
Add tomatoes to boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds until the skin begins to wrinkle and peel away from the flesh. Don't let the tomatoes sit too long in the water, or they will start to cook. Using a slotted spoon or a strainer, strain the tomatoes and transfer them to the bowl of ice water to cool.

How to Peel Tomatoes In the Microwave
If you don’t have time to boil a pot of water to blanch your tomatoes, or if you just need to peel one or two tomatoes, try microwaving them.
Wash and dry the tomatoes and remove any stems. Use a paring knife to cut a small, shallow X on the bottom of each tomato (the opposite end to the stem end).
Place 1 to 2 tomatoes in a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 25 to 30 seconds. Keep a close watch as the tomatoes could explode.
Let tomatoes cool before handling (or shock them in an ice bath to speed up the process). The skins will slip right off with the aid of a paring knife.

Dried Tomato Powder  

Skins from about 10 tomatoes  (See above for how to skin tomatoes)
Instructions:  Peel skin and place the tomato skin on a parchment lined baking sheet. Set the tomatoes aside to use later or make homemade tomato salsa or sauce.
Bake tomato skins at 190°F for 3-4 hours in total. You can also use a convection setting. This will cause tomato skins to dry faster but be sure to check throughout the baking process to avoid burning.
After one hour of baking, turn tomato skins over and continue to bake for another hour. Turn tomato skins over again and bake for another 1-2 hours until they're completely dry but not burnt.
After the skins have cooled, grind them with a coffee grinder, a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle until a fine powder is formed.
Place the ground tomato powder in a clean, dry jar with a lid and place in the fridge or counter top for later use. Dried powder should last up to a year in a sealed jar.

Tomato Powder From Microwaved Tomato Skins by Niki Achitoff-Gray of Serious Eats
Skins from 10 peeled tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)

Line a microwave-safe plate with a double layer of paper towels. Spread as many tomato skins on top as will fit in a single, non-overlapping layer (about 1/4 of skins). Microwave on high for 4 minutes, then continue in 20-second intervals until the skins are papery, dry, and crumble if pinched. Repeat with remaining skins.
Add skins, salt, and sugar (if using) to spice grinder, food processor or mortar and pestle. Grind until powdered. Store in an air-tight container.

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Seasonal eating is never better, in my experience, than when fresh tomatoes come along.  We can't take for granted the privilege of gardening and the availability of the water that nourishes that juicy produce.  It's fitting that from September 1, World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of October 4 has been named the "Season of Creation".  It is a time of dedication to God as Creator and Sustainer of all life.  The Season of Creation is an ecumenical celebration that allows all people to recognize ourselves as the work of the God's creative act, to contemplate nature and all that dwells in it, and to care for our Common Home.  

“Let Justice and Peace Flow” is the theme chosen for Season of Creation 2023.  The prophet Amos cries out, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5: 24), and so we are called to join the river of justice and peace, to take up climate and ecological justice, and to speak out with and for communities most impacted by climate injustice and the loss of biodiversity.  

Pope Francis focused on drought in his Sept. 1 message on the World Day of Prayer for Creation.  “Our unbridled burning of fossil fuels and destruction of forests are raising temperatures and causing great droughts,” says the Pope.   It's important to join with others to address the needs of humanity and of Sister Earth, our Common Home.  Learn more about the FSPA commitment to Integral Ecology and the Laudato Si movement.  "Praise be to you, my Lord, through our sister mother earth who sustains and governs us and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs."  Laudato Si

Kale Slaw

Monday, August 14th 2023 6:00 am

½ C mayonnaise (olive oil mayo works well or regular mayo)
¼ C maple syrup
2 T raspberry vinegar (or other fruit vinegar, such as apple cider)
1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed and leaves cut in *chiffonade style
2-3 carrots, shredded 
2-3 C cabbage, red or green

Whisk the dressing ingredients together until smooth.  You may also use a hand blender.
Add dressing to prepared vegetables and mix well. 
Let rest in the fridge for a while before serving. 

Notes: *Chiffonade is a slicing technique in which leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, or Swiss chard, or a flat-leaved herb like basil, are cut into long, thin strips.  Stack leaves, roll them tightly, slice them perpendicular to the roll. 

Ingredients can be adjusted up or down to feed a large or small group.  The dressing is also great on a broccoli salad, a fruit salad and baby greens as well as the kale slaw. 

An easy way to remove ribs from kale is to hold the stem end with one hand and with the other hand, squeeze the space where the leaves and kale stem meet to soften that fibrous connection. Run your fingers in the opposite direction along the stem, removing the leaves as you go. It’s kind of like opening a zipper. You can chop the leftover stems and use raw or cooked as you would use celery or compost them. 

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“Kale Cole Slaw” was one dish served after a recent “pasture walk” at Anathoth Community Catholic Worker Farm
 in Polk County near Luck, Wisconsin (pictured above).  In late July, over 60 farmers, ag experts and friends toured veggie and pollinator gardens and grazing pastures of beef cattle, hogs and chickens.  It was fun to learn and share as we walked. 

The pasture walk was an experience of sustainable farming and how people of all ages work and support each other in restoring the land.  Barb, her husband Mike and others live and work in this 50+ acre parcel and exemplify hard work, loving hospitality, and peace-making.  They are advocates for peace and justice and stand in solidarity with their neighbors and native people of northern Wisconsin.  I hope to stay in touch and share more about food, faith, farming and working for justice.

Anathoth Catholic Worker Farm is based on the study and practice of nonviolence, community, and sustainable living.  It is named after a small village near Jerusalem that is believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Jeremiah.  Anathoth (pronounced an’ a thoth) also means “an answer or response to prayer” or “poverty”.  Their facebook page describes them even more.

Learn about other Catholic Worker Farms in the upper Midwest by clicking on their names in blue: Saint Isadore Catholic Worker Farm near Cuba City, WI and Lake City Catholic Worker Farm near Lake City, MN.


Enjoying Spring Asparagus

Monday, May 15th 2023 6:00 am

Asparagus is a sure sign of spring in the upper Midwest and many home gardeners can’t give it away fast enough!  Fresh local asparagus is so delicious, all it needs is to be simmered in water and served with butter.  Below are many ways to prepare fresh asparagus.

Ways to prepare asparagus

Storage: Store asparagus, stalk side down, in a vase or jar of water like a bouquet. Loosely drape a plastic bag over the top, which will help keep tips from drying out but allow air to circulate, and put in the fridge for up to four days. If you don't have room for that, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel and put asparagus in a storage bag. For the best flavor the sooner you cook the asparagus, the better.

Peeling: Asparagus has a tough, impermeable wax cuticle skin or peel that protects it from losing moisture but it makes seasoning the spears hard for us.   Peeling the most fibrous parts of the stem and braising (see below) leads to the most tender asparagus you’ve ever had and it’s simple to do. 

Snap or Cut?  The bottom of the spear is the most fibrous.  According to America's Test Kitchen, “snapping  (the bottom) off is wasteful and unreliable. Where the spear breaks depends on where you apply force. Using a knife is better.  Cut an inch from the bottom of the spears and then check to see what remains.  It may be nice and moist looking.  If not, use your vegetable peeler to remove some of the fibrous skin at the lower end.  The picture above and some of the cooking methods below come from America's Test Kitchen and Dan Souza's short  "What's Eating Dan?" youtube video on asparagus.

  1. Raw  Using thicker spears, rinse in cool water, pat dry and use your peeler to make thin, beautiful shavings all along the length of the spear.  These shaved pieces add texture to a salad with lettuce, watercress, prosciutto and nuts in a large bowl.  Toss with a sherry vinegar vinaigrette or any oil and vinegar combination you like.
  2. Blanch  This method can be used if you plan to freeze asparagus. You can use blanched asparagus in a pasta, rice, seafood or green salad.  Add it to frittata or a potato pancake, wherever you might like a touch of green.  Blanching tenderizes the stalks and retains the bright green color.  

Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.  Carefully lower the asparagus into the boiling water.  Cook for 2–4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stems.  Using tongs or a skimmer, remove the asparagus and plunge it into iced water for at least 5 minutes.  To freeze blanched asparagus: drain, pat dry, lay the asparagus on a tray.  Freeze until frozen solid before putting in an airtight freezer bag.


  1. Saute: To sauté whole asparagus spears, add 1 to 2 T oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the prepped asparagus, a generous pinch of salt, and toss to coat the spears. Allow the stalks time to take on some color, shaking the pan occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Season with Salt and Pepper and lemon zest and juice.
  2. Grill or Oven Roast.  This brining/roasting method is good for thick spears so they can be on the grill longer without overcooking.  Seasoning evenly can be tricky, as salt bounces off the surface.  Rinse the spears clean, cut off about 1” from the bottoms. Next, poke each spear all over with a fork and drop into a brine of 4 cups water and ½ cup kosher salt.  Let soak for 45 minutes to an hour. Dry and put them on a clean grill.  Turn after about 6-7 minutes on each side.  For oven roasted asparagus, put brined (or seasoned) spears on a sheet pan. In an oven preheated to 425 degrees F, the asparagus should be perfectly roasted after about 12 to 15 minutes.  Turn half way through,  Enjoy the smell as they char.   Can be served with a dollop of lemon aioli and a sprinkle of sliced almonds.

  3. Grill or Roast in Foil: This method results in a softer, steamed asparagus stalk with no char marks or clean-up!  First rinse, trim and pat dry the asparagus.  Next, place the asparagus stalks in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil and season with oil or butter and garlic, parsley, salt to taste. Fold the two longer sides of the foil together and tightly seal them together. Then, fold the ends into themselves, sealing tightly so the oil will not seep out.   Grill the asparagus packet for 15-20 minutes depending on your desired tenderness. Flip the packet over with tongs halfway through cooking. Be careful when removing and opening the foil, as it will be hot and full of steam.

  4. Braising/Cooking in liquid  This recipe by Cook’s Illustrated Keith Dresser is a delicious way to being out the best in asparagus.  After braising in a flavorful liquid for almost 15 minutes, the spears trade their crispness for a silky tenderness and their grassy flavor for a sweet, nutty flavor and that bright green color for a subdued greenness.  Cut off the bottom inch and peel two thirds of the way up the stalk.  (Peelings can be saved to make asparagus soup!)  This prevents water loss.  Peeling and braising also leads to the most tender asparagus you’ve ever had and it’s simple to do.  Add asparagus to a wide skillet with water, broth, oil and salt.  Cover and simmer vigorously until tender about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the skillet is almost dry and asparagus is beautifully glazed.  Add a bit of lemon zest and a splash of lemon juice, chopped chives, salt and pepper.
  5. Air Fry:  Cut off the ends of the stalks and line up 2 pounds of asparagus in one layer in your air fryer.  Sprinkle with 1 T oil of your choice, ½ tsp each of garlic powder, dry parsley and salt. Sprinkle with 1/3 C of good grated parmesan.  Fry at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes or until golden brown.  Add more parmesan, if you like!

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What is your favorite way to eat asparagus and other spring vegetables?


Asparagus is a sure sign of spring in the upper Midwest and many home gardeners can’t give it away fast enough!  It can also be found growing wild in some climates.  More on foraging wild asparagus below.

America’s Test Kitchen writes, “Asparagus is a perennial, which means that it returns every spring wherever it’s been planted.  It takes a few years to produce but often can be harvested every year for up to 10 years.  If asparagus is grown in a region where it can produce spears throughout the year, it grows more spindly and less vigorous with each passing year.  In colder or drier climates, it gets a chance to rest. 

“Asparagus has been revered as a vegetable since Roman times and it shows up in the oldest surviving book of recipes.  Its large native range stretches east to from Spain to central China, and north to south from Siberia to all the way down to Pakistan, but it has found adoptive homes across the world” says America’s Test Kitchen’s Den.  There are decades old debates about which town or region owns the title of Asparagus Capital of the world.  

Varieties: “Green asparagus is the most common.  Purple asparagus is a different variety which gets its color from anthocyanins, the same pigments in purple cabbage, purple grapes and purple foods of all kinds.  White asparagus is the result of a different growing method called blanching.  Soil is mounded around the spears as they grow to block sunlight.  That limits photosynthesis which keeps chlorophyll from forming.  White asparagus is particularly prized in France and Germany for its delicate flavor and tenderness. 

“Beyond color, the biggest difference between spears is usually thickness.  Some are skinny, pencil-thin, and some are thick like small sausages. You can’t leave a skinny spear in the ground longer and hope it turns into a thick spear.  It is determined by two factors: the age of the entire plant and its variety.  So which size is preferable?   If you remove the woody bottom of fat and skinny spears and taste them side by side, simply steamed, both will taste sweet, nutty and grassy.  The thick spears are more tender, have better texture because the fibrous texture takes up a larger proportion in a skinnier spear.

Foraging for "wild" asparagus:  Forager Euell Gibbons wrote of his passion for wild foods of all kinds in Stalking the Wild Asparagus.  Ashley in Practical Self - Reliance reminds us that "there’s nothing wild about wild asparagus...Asparagus is not native to the US.  It came over with European settlers.  Once garden asparagus started going to seed the birds, attracted to the bright red asparagus 'berries'" spread the seeds...  It's easier to "stalk" asparagus in  areas when it is out of season and too big to harvest.  It is often found along roadsides, at the edges of woodlands, and just about anywhere that gets good sun but a mower can’t regularly reach...Once found, you can remember those spots and look in early spring for the young stalks to poke out their heads."

Corn Chowder

Monday, September 25th 2023 6:00 am

4 T  butter
1 whole onion, chopped
3 slices bacon, cut Into pieces
3 whole bell peppers, finely diced (green, red, yellow, or orange)
5 ears corn, kernels, sliced off cob OR about 4 Cups of corn kernels
1/4 C flour
3 C. vegetable or chicken stock or broth
2 C half-and-half
1 C (heaping) Grated Monterey Jack
1 C (heaping) Pepper Jack
1/3 C sliced green onions

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook onions for a couple of minutes. Add bacon and cook for another minute or so, then add diced bell peppers and cook for a couple of minutes. Finally, add corn and cook for a minute.

Sprinkle flour evenly over the top and stir to combine. Pour in broth and stir well. Allow this to thicken for 3 or 4 minutes, then reduce heat to low.  Add empty corn cobs, if using.  Stir in half-and-half, then cover and allow to simmer/thicken for 15 minutes or so.

Stir in cheeses and green onions. When cheese is melted and the soup is hot, check seasonings. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve immediately.

Food Waste Note:  
If you use fresh whole ear corn, don't throw out the cobs. You can add them to your chowder after you add the broth or make stock from spent cobs.  To make corn stock: Place cobs in a large stockpot and add water to cover the cobs by an inch or two. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour. Add more water, if needed as it cooks down. Remove cobs and discard them. Divide and transfer the liquid to freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 1 year. Use in place of water, chicken stock or vegetable stock in soups and stews.  Onion skins, carrot peels, mushrooms and celery scraps can also be added.

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This Corn Chowder recipe from the Pioneer Woman is great for fall.  Corn fields are prominent in the Upper Midwest.  Did you know that less than 7% of US corn gets to our tables as fresh or frozen corn and cornmeal?  4% is processed into high-fructose corn syrup.  The rest is "dent" or field corn which becomes ethanol and feed for beef cattle, pigs and chickens.  
It makes me wonder how the upcoming US Farm Bill will support creation, food and farmers, no matter what they grow.  

Pope Francis makes clear in Laudato Si that care for one another and care for the Earth are intimately connected.  He notes that we are not faced “with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis that is both social and environmental.”  The Farm Bill speaks to both.   Rewritten and voted on by Congress every 5 years, it can support the dignity of all people, especially those in poverty and can offer safeguards for preserving Creation.

Over 76% of this nearly 1 trillion spending bill supports nutrition programs like WIC (Women, Infants & Children) and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for low-income people and some of the bill addresses world hunger..  The Farm Bill is on the agenda in Congress now. Many other aspects of the bill regulate the safe use of soil, water, fertilizer and conservation methods to make farms healthy for the Earth.
To add your voice to this issue, Midwestern Franciscan Justice Promoters, including FSPA, encourage you to explore this link through Action Network and to advocate for A Just Farm Bill.

Warm Farro Salad with Spring Veggies

Monday, May 29th 2023 6:00 am

1 C farro (or substitute other grains and veggies as described in Notes below.)
    Found in whole grain or bulk section of store or co-op.
3 C water (or substitute vegetable or chicken stock)
6 stalks asparagus
1 C cherry tomatoes
1 C sugar snap peas
¼ C crumbled feta cheese
2 T chopped, fresh parsley
2 T chopped, fresh dill
1 small shallot, diced (~¼ cup) May substitute green onions or chives.
1 small garlic clove, minced
¼ C homemade or store-bought balsamic (or your favorite) vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

1.    Rinse and drain farro. Place in a pot and add water or stock. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes or until al dente (tender but firm). Drain off any excess liquid. Place in a large bowl to cool slightly.
2.    Cut 1” off ends of asparagus.  If ends still seem “woody”, use a vegetable peeler to remove outer later a couple of inches up.  Cut into 1” pieces. Slice cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas in half.
3.    Bring a pot of water to boil. Add asparagus and sugar snap peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Immediately drain and submerge vegetables in an ice bath. Once cool, drain.
4.    Place vegetables, feta cheese, chopped herbs, shallot, and garlic in the bowl with the slightly cooled farro. Add dressing. Using a spatula, fold until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The recipe and picture above come from To Taste – developed by a team of registered dietitians, chefs, and culinary medicine specialists.  Their helpful website offers grain and other plant-based recipes, basic cooking techniques and plenty of substitutions to satisfy different tastes.

For added nuttiness, toast the farro in the pot for a minute or two before adding the liquid.

Other intact whole grains that keep their shape like brown rice, farro, quinoa, barley, and spelt are also good in salads like Greek Tabouli. If you want your grain salad to hold well all week, choose hearty vegetables that won’t get mushy or spoil quickly. 
You may find quick cooking varieties of farro (done in 10 minutes) and other whole grains at your local grocery store. 

For added protein, add some rinsed and drained canned navy or garbanzo beans.

The "blanching" method described in step 3 can be used to prepare most vegetables for salads or go freeze them. The National Center for Home Food Preparation offers specific blanching times for many veggies.

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A classmate used to create delicious lunch salads from what was found in our college cafeteria!  To her plate of greens, veggies, nuts or seeds, she often added beans, cheese, brown rice or other whole grains.  This kind of plate - mostly plant foods – is featured in this recipe for “Warm Farro Salad with Spring Veggies”. 
Grain salads are easy to make and often last for days, and their flexibility means you can do a lot of improvising with whatever tasty in-season produce you have on hand.  
Whole grains like farro are often a forgotten source of plant protein and other nutrients. It "is a grain with nutty flavor, and it's popular in the Mediterranean type of cuisine," says  Anya Guy, a Mayo Clinic dietitian. The dense ancient grain is rich in nutrition with a plethora of health benefits.
In her Mayo Clinic Minute video, Guy also tells us that “farro is a great source of fiber, iron, protein and magnesium.  One serving (2/3 Cup) provides about 200 calories, 7 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. The fiber content is really important because it improves digestive health” and satisfies hunger longer.  
Farro and other whole grains can be used in salads, as a warm breakfast cereal, in risotto, soups or as a pilaf-like side dish. My Food Data from the US Deptartment of Agriculture offers nutrition information about using other high protein grains like kamut, spelt, amaranth, teff, quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, millet, buckwheat, brown rice, and barley.  Many also have an interesting history going back to ancient foragers and farmers, as described by the The Whole Grains Council.

Roasted Root Vegetables and Storing Root Veggies

Monday, February 26th 2024 6:00 am

1 pound yams (or sweet potatoes) – 2 small or one large, peeled
3/4 pound unpeeled red or Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean
1/2 pound beets (red or golden), trimmed and scrubbed clean
1/2 pound large carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 parsnip medium sized (4-5 oz), peeled and halved lengthwise
1/2 red onion, peeled
6 whole garlic cloves large sized
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 T fresh thyme leaves (or 2 tsp dried thyme)
5 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 3 tsp dried rosemary)
1 tsp ground cumin (can be omitted)
1 tsp kosher salt or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper or more to taste

Notes:  Root vegetables have a sweet, earthy flavor that seems made for roasting.  Serve as a side dish or add leftover cooked chicken or garbanzo beans at the last 10 minutes of cooking to heal the protein through.  The recipe is easy to double on 2 cookie sheets and roasted at the same time for a crowd, a buffet or to freeze some.  See below.
You can use any combination of root vegetables you like.  If using red beets your other vegetables may take on a bit of red color. It is pretty, but if you don’t like it, use golden beets instead.  The photo above and a short video of Oven Roasted Root Vegetables is from Tori Avey.

Advance Prep:  
You can do all of the chopping, peeling, and measuring up to two days ahead. Place ingredients into a sealed refrigerator bag, seal and toss ingredients to coat, then refrigerate until ready to cook. Pop them in the oven when you’re ready to roast.
You can roast the vegetables up to two days ahead. Cook them until almost (but not quite) fully tender. Refrigerate in a sealed bag. Just before your meal, reheat in a 400 degree F oven for just a few minutes. By the time they’re heated through, they’ll be perfectly cooked.  OR, put them on a cookie sheet in a single layer, freeze and bag them partially cooked for another meal!

Place a rack in the bottom of your oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Unless indicated otherwise above, slice all vegetables into chunks roughly 1 1/2 inches wide. The more similar the size of the vegetable pieces, the more evenly they will roast.
Place cut vegetables and garlic cloves into a large mixing bowl. Add 3 T olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, ground cumin, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir until all vegetables are evenly coated with oil, spice and herbs.  Brush large rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Spread the vegetables out evenly on the baking sheet. Place the rosemary sprigs on top of the vegetables, evenly spaces across the sheet.
Roast the vegetables in the oven for 15 minutes. Stir, bringing the chunks from the outside towards the center and the chunks in the center out towards the edges. Return baking sheet to oven and continue to roast until the largest chunks are tender and the edges are starting to turn golden/dark, another 15-25 minutes.
Remove the roasted rosemary sprigs and stir the vegetables (some leaves of rosemary will remain, this is good). Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Vegetables can be served warm or at room temperature.

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Roasted root vegetables are a savory treat this time of year and you can make extra to freeze for a side dish or creamy soup!  They exemplify the invitation to eat seasonally in winter.  Storing Winter Vegetables  Have you ever had potatoes or onions begin to sprout and soon spoil as they waited for you to use them?  
The Spruce has some detailed recommendations like using soft or bruised vegetables first, which root vegetables should go in the fridge in a low humidity drawer and keeping onions and spuds in separate pantries or cupboards.  Keeping winter veggies out of the light and providing good ventilation in wire baskets, a paper bag or even a cardboard box with holes can help reduce sprouting and spoilage of potatoes, garlic, beets and sweet potatoes.  Our grand and great-grandmothers knew!

Two Basic Salad Dressings

Monday, June 5th 2023 6:00 am


Ingredients and Directions:

1.    Measure 2/3 C olive or vegetable oil into bowl or pint jar with a cover.
2.    Add 1/3 C of your favorite vinegar or other acid of your choice, such as lemon juice
3.    Add ½ tsp Dijon mustard and 1/8 tsp each of salt, pepper, dried basil, oregano and garlic powder OR 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning mix.
4.    Whisk with a whisk or fork or shake a covered jar vigorously to help the dressing emulsify.  
5.    Taste and adjust your ingredients.
6.    Pour a small amount over greens and toss with two forks or spoons.  You want the greens to be coated, but not “swimming” in dressing with no puddle at the bottom of the salad bowl!  Add more, as needed. 
7.    Label the container and store any leftovers in the fridge.  You may need to shake it before using to remix the oil and vinegar.  Double or triple the recipe to have extra on hand!  This also makes a good dip or a marinade for roasting vegetables.


Ingredients and Directions:
1.    Combine 1/4 C each of mayo and sour cream, 2 T milk, 1 tsp lemon juice into bowl or jar with a cover.
2.    Whisk or shake covered jar vigorously to help the dressing emulsify.  
3.    Add seasonings (1/4 tsp dry dill weed, 1/8 tsp each garlic powder and onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. Repeat step 2, taste and adjust your ingredients!
4.     Pour a small amount over greens and toss with two forks or spoons.  You want the greens to be coated, but not “swimming” in dressing with no puddle at the bottom of the salad bowl!  Add more, as needed. 
5.    Label the container and store in the fridge.  You will need to shake it before using.
This also makes a great dip or addition to baked potatoes!  Add more sour cream and / or mayo to make it thicker, if you like!

Note:  The photo above come from Victoria of Mason Jar Recipe whose site also features Mason Jars as gifts, decorations and other crafts.

Variations:  The Ranch above can be improvised with salsa and taco seasonings to make a Fiesta Dressing.  Sweeteners like honey, various mustards, fruit puree or various vinegars with one with complex flavor like balsamic can make the vinaigrette your own.

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Making salad dressing from scratch is a pretty quick, healthy, economical way to add taste to the variety of greens we now enjoy from the garden, the farmer's market or the produce aisle.  Reusing the jars makes sense, too!  You can do so for a special occasion or make home made part of your routine.

Tamra Dickinson and I shared these recipes with our after school cooking class students at Hillside Elementary in spring 2022.  It was fun to watch them wash greens and spin them dry in make-shift kitchen towel salad spinners.  They shook jars of dressing ingredients with every muscle they had and we all enjoyed a spring kale salad!

I don't recall bottled salad dressing on the table until I was college age.  They taste good, but the ingredient list often includes high fructose corn syrup and ingredients far too hard to pronounce.  For our family, salad was usually spring garden lettuce or iceberg lettuce with a vinegar and oil dressing made in the bowl right before dinner.  More bitter greens like endive and chard were for the adults.  The few times we visited a restaurant, one treat was serving yourself from one of the 3 offerings of salad dressing, typically French, Bleu Cheese and Vinegar and Oil in those cool decanters we passed around the table.  One legendary Italian restaurant in Hurley, Wisconsin swore its staff to secrecy when making their signature Caesar salad dressing!  

What are your salad and dressing habits or memories?   What's Cooking America? shares histories of famous dressing makers like "Marzetti", "Hellmann", Kraft Cheese Company; dressings like Thousand Island, Green Goddess and Russian; and salads like Caesar, Cobb, King Louis, Panzanella and Nicoise.


Kolaczki Cookies

Monday, December 19th 2022 6:00 am

Kolaczki Cookies

(Koe lach' kee - Polish filled cookies)

8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 C butter
1 tsp vanilla extract (or pure vanilla if you have it) *See note #2 below.
4 T sugar
3 C flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 C filling, such as fruit preserves or jam, nut or poppy seed or any Solo brand filling
1/4 C powdered sugar


  1. Cream the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla. Stir in flour and salt.
  3. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour. Preheat oven to 350.
  4. Roll out the dough by first dusting the surface (mat or countertop) with granular sugar.
  5. Roll to 1/8 inch and cut into 2-inch squares. Use a knife or pizza cutter. A fluted pastry cutter creates a zig-zag pattern along the edge of the cookies.
  6. Place a tsp of filling in the center of each square. Fold over opposite corners and seal well with a dab of water on one corner.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until corners just begin to brown. When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

Note #1: The original recipe for this cookie calls for 1 small packet or 1 T of “vanilla sugar” which is readily available in Europe, but not in the U.S. unless you want to make your own or get it from Amazon! Many “old world” baking products and methods did not travel well with immigrants and they made do with what was available in America. For example, sugar was either very expensive (in the colonies) or rationed (in WWII), so sorghum or maple syrup had to suffice!

Note #2: To make your own fruit filling, combine 3/4 cup dried apricots (or other dried fruit), 1 1/2 cups water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a saucepan. Simmer until the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes. Let it cool and mash or purée with an immersion blender or food processor.

Father Conrad Targonski, OFM (chaplain at Viterbo University) replied “Kolaczki”, when asked to name his favorite Polish Christmas cookie!

There is a lot of debate as to the origins of kolaczki and different ways to prounounce its name. The Polish claim it, but so do the Slovaks, Croatians, Czechs, Scandinavians and others. To Bohemians, Kolaczki is a sweet pastry like a breakfast roll. For other Eastern Europeans they are round thumb-print style cookies with jam in the middle of the circle. Square, diamond-shaped, or traditional crescent filled as in the recipe above are all sometimes referred to as Kolaczki. The boundaries of Eastern European countries and perhaps their food cultures were shared and fluid, dependent on who was in power! In every case, they are made with pride in tradition and often with stories.

What foods are traditional in your heritage? Why not try them this year at Christmas or Easter or explore the cuisine of another culture in your winter and Easter baking?

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Fall Apple Salad and "Picking Your Own"

Monday, October 17th 2022 6:00 am

Fall Apple Salad


1 large bunch kale
2 apples that are crisp
1/3 C dried cranberries
1/3 C toasted pumpkin seeds
¾ C goat cheese, crumbled.  (Feta is a good alternative, if you prefer.)

1 small shallot, minced
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
3 T vinegar, apple cider vinegar is best!
1 T local honey or maple syrup 
2 tsp Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste


  1. Remove tough ribs from kale. Tear or chop leaves into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with half the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and use your hands to massage kale leaves until tender.
  2. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the remaining extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Core 1 apple. (Peeling is optional as the peel contains good nutrition.) Chop it into bite-sized pieces. With the second apple, core and quarter it. Use a cheese grater to make apple "snow." Add to the salad bowl.
  4. Add dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds (see note below). Drizzle dressing over the ingredients.Toss to combine and thoroughly coat each item with dressing.
  5. Crumble cheese over the top and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Optional: Add shredded carrots, broccoli or cauliflower flowerets, leftover chicken, etc. to the salad if you are in the mood to clean out the fridge!

In September and October, local Apples are at their peak in most of North America and non-farm kids of all ages (like our grandkids!) can enjoy markets for "pick your own" and bagged apples. 

Freezing apples:
Years ago, I acquired an apple peeler-corer-slicer that earns its place in our tool drawer when apples are in season. Your great-grandma may have had one. Most orchard shops and hardware stores sell them. Here are some apple freezing tips.

Prepare what is called "acidulated" water: a fancy name for water plus acid. Use about 1/4 cup lemon juice to 1 quart of cold water. As soon as you clean, peel, core and slice your fruit, with a gadget or by hand, let the slices swim in a bowl of lemon water to prevent them from browning. At this point, you could can them, but since freezers came on the scene in the 1950s, it is another simple way.

Strain (do not rinse) and pack apples tightly in freezer bags and label. It's a very good practice to keep records of what, when and where any food goes in your freezer (and your fridge and pantry) to reduce waste and aid in meal planning. Plan on wintertime apple crisp, applesauce, apple bread or pie!

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Chocolate Almond Spice Cookies

Monday, January 9th 2023 6:00 am


Chocolate-Almond Spice Cookies

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 C plus 1 C white sugar
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/4 C cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
4 egg large whites, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped


  1. Heat the oven to 375°F with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. Measure ¼ tsp of the spice mixture into another small bowl, stir in ¼ C sugar and set this sugar & spice mixture aside.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, combine the almond flour and remaining spice mixture. Cook, stirring frequently and breaking up any lumps, until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool until barely warm to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. To the almond flour mixture, whisk in the remaining 1? C sugar, the cocoa and salt. Use a spatula to stir in the egg whites and vanilla until evenly moistened. Stir in the chocolate. The dough will be sticky.
  5. Using two soupspoons, drop a few 2-tablespoon portions of dough into the spiced sugar, then gently roll to coat evenly. Arrange the sugar-coated balls on the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Bake until the cookies have cracks in their surfaces and a toothpick inserted into a cookie at the center of the baking sheets comes out with few crumbs attached, 12 to 15 minutes, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Michael Krueger related that this recipe is from Lisa Brouellette (a WIS-Corp Intern). Lisa discovered it on Milk Street's website and shared with Michael and others when they were setting up for the Advent luminary hike on Saint Joseph Ridge. Lisa said the cookies have a wonderful taste, are fairly simple to prepare, and they fill you up!

*The photo above is from Milk Street Kitchen. Milk Street Kitchen is a PBS cooking series hosted by Chris Kimball. Their Erika Bruce tells us that the recipe “is a loose interpretation of the Swiss Chocolate-Almond holiday cookie known as Baler Brunsli. Traditionally, the dough is rolled and cut into shapes before baking, but Milk Street opted for an easier drop cookie studded with bits of chocolate. Even without butter, they are intensely rich and happen to be gluten-free, too!”

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'Massaged" Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing

Monday, June 19th 2023 6:00 am



¼  C olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice, fresh is best
2 T red wine or other vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp honey or sugar

Salad:      5 C kale chopped or torn into 1' bite-sized pieces 
1-2 tsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt

Optional Additions:
2 C broccoli chopped
½ C nuts:  sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, or chopped walnuts
¼ - ½ C shredded carrots or radishes
½ C chopped or shredded apple
¼ C sliced scallions or red onions
¼ C raisins or dried cranberries
½ C cheese (cheddar pieces or shreds, crumbled Feta, parmesan or other favorite)
Leftover cooked chicken or bacon pieces
Your favorite leftover cooked grain:  wild rice, quinoa, bulgar, brown rice


1.Combine dressing ingredients in a lidded jar or bowl.  Shake or whisk well to combine. Dip a piece of kale in the dressing.  Taste and adjust sweetener, salt, and pepper as you like.

2.Rinse kale leaves in cool water.  With one hand, hold on to the thick stem at the end and with the other hand, strip the leaves from the stem.  Compost stems or store in water to saute in a few days with spices!

3. Tear or chop dried kale into bit-sized pieces.  Spin it dry in a salad spinner OR shake dry and place in a dry kitchen towel. Massage the chopped kale with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. Rub with your fingers until leaves look darker in color.

4.In a large bowl, combine salad ingredients. Stir or shake the dressing once more.  Pour about ? of the dressing on the salad. Toss.  Add extra dressing, as you like.  There should not be dressing “pooled” in the bottom of the bowl.

Preparing Kale:

Rinse kale leaves in cool water to remove all the dirt and dust. 

Hold on to the thick stem end and with the other hand, strip the leaves from the stem.  Discard the stems OR put in a tall container with a small amount of water and keep refrigerated to chop and saute a day or two later.

Tear or chop the dried kale into 1 inch (bite-sized) pieces. 

Spin it dry in a salad spinner OR shake dry and place in a dry kitchen towel.  Fold in the ends of the towel and hold tightly while you spin the whole thing.  The towel will absorb most of the water.

(Optional)  For a more tender raw kale salad, massage the chopped kale with a little olive oil or lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Rub with your fingers until leaves look a bit darker in color.  It really makes a difference and kids love "massaging" the greens".


This recipe for “’Massaged’ Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing” is full of nutrients, packed with flavor and may make you into a kale lover. Even kids liked it!  It can be made ahead as the hardy leaves keep well, even with dressing. 

Another recipes made with grade schoolers, it was also demonstrated with younger kids at a local school garden.  They got their hands in the bowl to massage the greens!  Helping kids of all ages grow and/or prepare vegetables and fruit encourages openness to new foods.  Don't we all enjoy getting some coaching in the garden or the kitchen?  If you are curious about a certain food or cuisine, baking bread or fixing your favorite restaurant dish, find someone to "coach" you, even if it's an online cook or a TV chef. 

The recipe and photo above come from Holly, a Canadian mom of 4 who loves to add to her site called "Spend with Pennies".  She suggests we check out how versatile kale can be, saying, "Leftover kale can be stirred into pasta, blended into pesto, and even baked into crispy kale chips, if the craving strikes! The possibilities are endless. I even love a little kale on my pizza when I have it handy."  Holly's other kale recipes include kale with rice, Mexican kale salad, kale pesto, kale chips, kale and sausage soup, and kale mango smoothies. 

Speaking of smoothies, I put blanched kale in a high speed blender with a touch of vanilla and cinnamon. I added blanched seasonal produce like squash, apples, carrots or pears for baby/toddler food my grandkids liked.

Tomato Upside Down Cornbread

Monday, September 19th 2022 6:00 am

Tomato Upside Down Cornbread

3 medium tomatoes sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3-5 T grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
several grinds black pepper
1/2 C fresh dill chopped OR 4 tsp dried
3/4 C medium grind cornmeal
1-1 1/4 C milk
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt (less if using regular salt or if using salted butter)
6 T melted butter
1 T sugar
3/4 C plain yogurt or sour cream
2 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut out a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of a 10-10 1/2-inch cast iron skillet. Lightly oil the upper side of the parchment with oil.
  2. Place tomatoes in a single layer, cut side up, on the parchment to cover the entire skillet. Top with a grind or two of pepper, most of the dill (reserving just enough for garnish), and a generous layer of fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese- between 1/4 and 1/2 cup.
  3. In a medium saucepan combine the milk and cornmeal over medium heat. Cook, stirring or whisking constantly, until it is the consistency of the batter and completely lump-free, about 3-4 minutes. If it gets too thick add 1 or 2 T. of milk. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper together in a large bowl; set aside.
  5. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar, and add to the cooked cornmeal mixture. Next whisk in the yogurt. Make sure the cornmeal mixture isn’t so hot it will cook the eggs and then whisk in the eggs until thoroughly combined. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined and the batter is very thick.
  6. Pour the batter into the skillet, then smooth it into an even layer over the tomatoes. Bake until the top is golden brown, and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the skillet, 22 to 25 minutes.
  7. Let the cake cool for at least 10 minutes, then run a knife along the edge of the pan. Invert onto a large plate and carefully remove the layer of parchment.
  8. Garnish with remaining fresh dill and an additional sprinkle of grated cheese.
  9. Slice into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 servings.
  10. Can be covered and stored at room temperature for one or two days.

At this time of year, tomatoes couldn't be more gorgeous! This recipe celebrates them. One of the healing secrets of food is that when we slow down, we can more intensely appreciate the beauty of what Mother earth produces! Use all your senses to take in the color and shape, fragrance, and intricacy of the fruits of creation!

Try this exercise at meal or snack time soon: Take time as you shop and look around at the beauty of fresh food. Take it slow as you prepare food and before you eat. Touch and smell a fresh fruit or vegetable. Break it open. Look for the colors and patterns of seeds, juice, flesh and skin. Consider it as an artist in awe of his or her creation. Become aware of the God who made food just to please us, to offer what earth’s creatures need.Take a small taste and notice how it feels in your mouth, individual flavors and textures. Be mindful as you slowly chew and swallow each bite. Let yourself sense what this product of soil, wind, water and hands has brought to your table and to life. Continue to eat slowly as you honor our brother and sister plants and animals who heal and nourish the world.

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Pepperkaker Cookies

Monday, January 2nd 2023 6:00 am

Old Fashioned Pepperkaker

2 C sugar
3/4 C plus 2 T butter
1/3 C light syrup*
2/3 C heavy cream
1 T cognac (optional) brandy, wine or sherry also work well
4 tsp ginger
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp black pepper
4 tsp cloves, crushed *
1 T baking soda
6 -7 C flour


  1. In a large saucepan, add the sugar, butter and syrup. Stir together and heat until melted. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once the mixture has cooled down a bit, stir in the heavy cream and cognac, if using.
  3. Add the spices, baking soda and a little flour at a time to the mixture. Check the dough just before you have added 6 C flour. You want a smooth and relatively firm dough, so you may not use all of the flour.
  4. Take the dough out of the pan, cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Allow the dough to stand at room temperature for a little while before rolling out the dough. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pieces of the dough to a thickness of about 0.5 cm (even slightly less) and cut into shapes as desired. Place on a prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You want the edges to brown a little and crisp up. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. You can decorate the pepperkaker with icing or powdered sugar or anything else your heart desires. Store in cookie tins and enjoy!

*Syrup (or sirap) in Norway is made from sugar beets, not corn. It is a kind of light liquid molasses syrup with a caramel flavor. Therefore, you may substitute light syrup with golden syrup (like Lyle’s Golden Syrup). It is possible to use corn syrup, but light syrup in Norway is fairly thin and sweet with a taste of brown sugar. Alternatively, you can swap in some molasses for a darker color and deeper taste.

*You may crush whole cloves rather than use ground cloves. Crushed cloves are more coarse, which gives some texture and a more pronounced flavor. Adds to that rustic feel.

“This recipe is one which I have made the last few years for Christmas,” said Director of Affiliation Michael Krueger. “It is a Norwegian gingerbread recipe. Due to freshly ground cloves and pepper, it has a spicier taste to it. Using either molasses or light syrup, you can create a darker or lighter dough when preparing the cookies.”

Pepperkaker means “pepper cookies.” In Sweden, pepperkaker is eaten at Christmas and during Fika, meaning at any coffee break. It is also often served with Glögg which is Swedish mulled wine. They also taste great with milk! It is also very common to make pepperkakshus or gingerbread houses. They are made with a template for walls and roof and are thicker so the parts are easier to assemble with melted sugar and decorated with icing and candy. The Swedish Architecture and Design Center in Stockholm have hosted yearly competitions where children, architects and designers compete. So, Pepperkaker are taken seriously in Sweden!

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Food and Memories

Monday, November 28th 2022 6:00 am

Food and Memories

I hope you had a memorable Thanksgiving and that you can savor all the moments of Advent and Christmastime. I want to share what The Seasoned Franciscan’s focus will be for the upcoming weeks with a story.

One year, I joined my quilting friends at a craft camp: like a hunting camp for crafters! I’m not a quilter, but I did bring a wooden box of my Mom’s recipe cards and newspaper clippings faded and shaggy. I was determined to organize and enjoy them. And it was an adventure! Besides sorting them into categories (there were 45 cake recipes!), smells and stories brought me back to her table and kitchen. I laughed and cried and peppered by friends with her presence throughout the weekend.

Have you ever looked through family recipes? What memories did you discover in this cake or that bread or in a special Christmas cookie? Food is a meaningful part of our lives, in particular during the holidays.

During December and possibly into 2023, The Seasoned Franciscan invites you to: send in a favorite Christmas cookie or other celebration recipe. We encourage you to share a story of the memories the recipe evokes. Send it to or bring it to the SRC reception desk.

Let’s explore how food brings us together. How favorite dishes help create community, make memories and carry the stories and values of people in a unique way. We saw this in recipes from the heritage of American Indian people. How do food and memories create a connection in your heritage?

Also, on November 28th at 7 pm, PBS will air a special called “Food and Memories” by Jerry Apps and his daughter Susan Apps-Bodilly. Check your local listings for the station if you get PBS Wisconsin OR go to and watch live on your computer.

Jerry is an author, storyteller and historian who has other specials on farm life and more. In this special, the Apps trace the food memories of their family that might spur a memory in you. Whether we grew up in town, in the city or in farm country, we can all relate to his memories around the table. Jerry says: “Food is so much more important than merely nutrition, so much more than something to eat.” Food can connect us to a much bigger story.

Learn more about food and culture:

Unless we descend from Native Americans, we all come from immigrants, right? We can look back at how food expresses our origins. To learn more about immigrant food cultures other than white European, check out another favorite PBS series called No Passport Required.

In this series, Chef Marcus Samuelson goes to major US cities to explore how immigrant populations keep culture and values alive through food. An Ethiopian adopted by a Swedish family, Chef Marcus has a unique sensitivity to how food expresses identity. He visits Philadelphia’s Italian American sub-culture through delis, food “clubs” and restaurants. In Houston, he explores Nigerian and West African food traditions. He does all of this with great questions, respect and a sense of fun.

Here are some of his travels for surprising cultures and food traditions. Go with him to Boston for Portuguese, Brazilian and Cape Verdean food, Las Vegas for Chinese, Chicago for Mexican, LA for Armenian, Seattle for Filipino, New Orleans for Vietnamese, Detroit for Middle Eastern, Queens, NYC for Indo-Guyanese, Miami for Haitian, and Washington, DC for his own Ethiopian foods. Marcus shows us the connections between food, culture and identity in an educational and fun adventure: no passport required.

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Uncooked Cranberry Relish

Monday, November 14th 2022 6:00 am


Uncooked Cranberry Relish

1 12-ounce bag of whole fresh cranberries, washed and patted dry (remove any bruised or unripe fruits)
1 thin-skinned, seedless orange
1 C sugar


  1. Wash the cranberries and orange and pat dry. Remove any bruised or unripe berries. 
  2. Cut the oranges into quarters. Remove the seeds and then chop them up roughly.
  3. Either in an old-fashioned meat grinder or food processor, chop the raw cranberries and oranges.
  4. Transfer to a glass or ceramic serving bowl and add the sugar.
  5. Cover with plastic and let stand for 24 hours. Refrigerate after that; this will keep for 2 weeks.
  6. Leftovers can be used as a dressing for leftover turkey sandwiches.

The recipe above is an old-fashioned salad for holiday tables. What canned, cooked, or other cranberry recipes are in your food heritage? Cranberries or Mashkiigimin in Ojibwe have been used by American Indians for many purposes. The berry has immense medicinal properties. It is high in antioxidants and many other nutrients. Its juice can be used as a dye to brighten the colors of blankets and rugs. English settlers thought the cranberry flower resembled a Sandhill Crane and gave it the name “cran” berry as you can see in the photo above from the Wisconsin Cranberry Growers. The site also has some great recipes!

Today, cranberries are farmed. They don’t grow in water, but on land. Wisconsin cranberry marshes are flooded when the fruit is fully ripe to help in the harvest. Inside each berry are small air pockets that allow them to float so modern harvesting machines can easily pick them up. Cranberries are the leading fruit crop of Wisconsin, its official state fruit. Sauce, dried and fresh cranberries make up 95% of its use. Because of their tartness, only about 5% are consumed as juice. Cranberry information is from the American Indian School Nutrition toolkit.

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Spritz Cookies

Monday, December 26th 2022 6:00 am

Spritz Cookies

Ingredients for Cookies:
1 C unsalted butter, softened
2/3 C granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour

Ingredients for Decorating:
1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/2 C white chocolate chips, melted
Sparkling sugar
Finely shredded coconut
Christmas sprinkles

Directions (cookies):

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium until creamy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add egg, vanilla, salt and almond extract. Beat on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Reduce speed to low and add flour, beating until just incorporated.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.
  6. Using a cookie press, stamp the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets using the desired decorative templates. If the dough becomes too warm, chill it for 15 to 30 minutes and then continue stamping.
  7. If desired, sprinkle cookies with Christmas sprinkles.
  8. Bake the cookies until light golden, 9 to 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through the cook time.
  9. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes. 

Directions (decorating):

  1. Place the semisweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in 2 separate small microwavable bowls.
  2. Microwave on high for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted and smooth (or, melt in a double boiler or a bowl over boiling water).
  3. Drizzle the melted chocolate on the cookies or dip them, topping with sparkling sugar, finely shredded coconut and Christmas sprinkles, if desired. Chocolate is common when making Swedish Spritz.

Spritz are a Christmas favorite in lots of households and it takes practice (and cookie press or pastry bag skills) to make them!  My father-in-law learned to bake in the Navy and eventually had his own family bakery. He inherited the treasured wooden cookie press (pictured above) from one of his employers.
Spritz are crisp, fragile and buttery tasting. They originated in Germany around the 16th century. They are also known as Spritzgebäck (German), Swedish Butter Cookies or Pressed Butter Cookies. The original German name, “Spritzgeback” refers to verb “Spritzen”, meaning “to squirt”. German style Spritz cookies were made through squirting or pushing the soft dough through a cookie press. Norwegian style Spritz is traditionally in shapes of S's and O's.

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Sister Eulalia's Cornbread

Monday, September 12th 2022 6:00 am

Sister Eulalia's Cornbread

Here is a recipe from one of the older Sisters who worked many years in the St. Rose kitchen. It's a nice fall/winter recipe.

1/2 C fat (used bacon grease) Vegetable oil is a good substitute.
1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
1 C cornmeal
1 Cup flour
2 T baking powder   
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 C milk


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Grease and flour a 9” x 9” pan
  3. In a medium bowl, combine fat and sugar. Add eggs and set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the fat, sugar, egg mixture, alternating with the milk
  6. Bake in prepared pan for 30 to 35 minutes.  Poke a knife in the center and if it comes out clean, it's done!

Many of us did not know Sister Eulalia, yet her cornbread is remembered long after she has passed from our midst! When we make something with love, the gift and the love it embodies is present.

Memory and love linger. Christians believe that love never dies. In this recipe, remember a “house” Sister who fed and cleaned for a whole community of Sisters so that they could minister. Do you have food memories of loved ones, of a person who prepared a meal so you could be nourished in a time of need? Thank someone this week for gifts made with love. Remember them as we recall Sister Eulalia and are reminded to put love into small acts like cooking, shopping and homemaking for one or for a household.

Corn Facts:

  • Archeologists discovered evidence of corn that grew wild near modern-day Mexico City as early as 7,000 years ago.
  • Maize began as wild grass. Seeds clung to its stalk and over time farmers selected seeds from the best ears to breed a food more like what we think of as corn today.
  • Christopher Columbus described maize kernels as “affixed by nature in a wondrous manner and in form and size like garden peas.” Native to middle America, corn had never been seen by Europeans. They didn’t know how to use or grow it until natives shared their knowledge of a food source that was their sacred sister.
  • Wide-ranging trading routes brought maize to other tribes. The Iroquois dried and pounded its kernels into flour and made a paste by adding water. Sometimes nuts or berries were added. Small loaves of this paste were cooked in boiling water until they floated like dumplings. The dough was also baked or fried in oil pressed from sunflower seeds.
  • By adding wheat flour from the old world and sweeteners like maple syrup, molasses or honey, settlers built on the basics. When available, eggs and yeast improved this staple grain.
  • The use of cornmeal was important to enslaved people because flour was not often available to them. Cornbread biscuits, hoecakes (fire-roasted on the back of a clean shovel), spoon bread and corn grits were ways that poor families of all walks of life valued corn as a sustaining food. It is a favorite in the Southern and Northern states. Corn remains a sacred basic to Native peoples and throughout Central and South American cultures in the form of tortillas, tamales, corn cakes, pozole, hominy and more. 

The tidbits above are adapted from, which is also the source of the cornbread photo.

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Peach Cobbler

Wednesday, July 27th 2022 10:30 am

Peach Cobbler

Ingredients for peach filling:
5 peaches (peeled, cored, and sliced)
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for batter:
6 Tablespoons butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Ground cinnamon


  1. Add sliced peaches, sugar, and salt to a saucepan and stir to combine. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes, until sugar is dissolved and juices are coming from the peaches. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice butter into pieces and add to a 9x9 inch baking dish (or baking dish of similar size). Put dish with butter into the oven and allow butter to melt while oven preheats. Remove the dish from the oven once the butter is melted.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk until just combined. Pour the batter mixture into the dish on top of the melted butter and smooth it into an even layer.
  4. Spoon the peaches and juice over the batter. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top, to taste.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 38-40 minutes. Serve warm with maple nut ice cream, if desired.


  • If you use canned peaches, then do not use the 3/4 cup white sugar or 1/4 teaspoon salt in “Ingredients for peaches,” and skip step one. Make sure to keep the juice with the peaches, do not drain it out.
  • You can substitute any ice cream for the maple nut, but that’s my favorite with this recipe!
  • For an extra kick, add some ginger to the cinnamon sprinkled on top. Or omit the cinnamon/ginger altogether.

Every time summer comes around, I start craving peach cobbler. I know the peaches are ripening and perfectly juicy, and just waiting to be baked up and served with ice cream. This is a recipe that I've adapted over the years and one that I hope to pass on to my daughter!

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Mexican Wedding Cakes for our Lady of Guadalupe

Monday, December 12th 2022 6:00 am

Mexican Wedding Cakes

(Also known as Russian Tea Cakes or Snowball Cookies)

1 C butter, softened
8 T of powdered sugar
2 C all-purpose flour
1 C chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 T milk
Powdered sugar (to roll cookies in after baked)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together with a mixer.
  3. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 min
  4. Cool, then shake in a plastic bag of powdered sugar. Consider making a batch without nuts.

In Mexico and among many connected with cultures south of the U.S. border, Dec. 12th is a favorite Marian feast day. People dress up and many bring roses as they attend early morning Mass, complete with Mariachi music. All are welcome to celebrate with food. The devotion and reverence are unlike anything you have ever seen.

Our Lady’s image preserved on the cloak of Juan Diego is one of a dark-complected, pregnant woman standing in the posture of a conqueror over evil and resembling a revered Aztec princess. Her appearance as a woman who looked like them drew the hearts of the native people to embrace the Christian mystery of the Incarnation. Isn’t it just like our God to come in the familiar!

An old friend, Ana Maria makes these “Mexican Wedding Cakes” that are just like the Russian Tea Cakes or Snowball Cookies other cultures make for the holidays. A good thing by any name is loved by all! In Our Lady's honor, bake!

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Italian Biscotti

Monday, November 28th 2022 6:00 am

Italian Biscotti

2 eggs
1/2 C plus 2 T sugar
1 stick (1/2 C) butter or margarine, softened
1 T brandy
1 – ½ T anise seeds
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 C plus 2 T all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or spray.
  2. Beat the eggs by hand or in a mixer. Add sugar and beat together.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat softened butter and combine with the sugar/egg mixture. Add liquid flavorings.
  4. Gently stir dry ingredients into the egg/sugar/butter mixture.
  5. Form dough into 2 loaves on a large parchment paper lined or sprayed cookie sheet. Loaves should be about 3/4” high x 4” wide x 8” long. Space the loaves at least 2 inches apart to allow for rising during baking.
  6. 1st Bake: Bake at 350 degrees for 15–20 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Check frequently. Remove from oven and carefully move loaves to a cooking rack until cool. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees.
  7. Transfer loaves one at a time to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice 3/4 to 1-inch thick slices. This can be done straight across the loaf or at a 45-degree angle.
  8. 2nd Bake: Lay each biscotto on its side on the parchment-lined cookie sheet and toast at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, turning each one over after 5 minutes.
  9. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Serve with coffee or wine for dunking!

Biscotti means “twice baked.” Some historians believe that these semi-sweet biscuits traveled on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria because they were dry, did not mold and tasted better than the tradition fare of hardtack and dried meat. Today, they can be found with every flavor and ingredient imaginable and vary from tender, like in this recipe, to very hard.

In many Italian families, biscotti are a celebration cookie made for Christmas, Easter, Weddings, and Baptisms. I remember that one of my brothers-in-law took such a liking to the biscotti that my Auntie made for our wedding that for years he asked for “those good hard cookies” at every Kaley Christmas. And he got them! We think he liked to dunk them in wine as was our custom!

Many wedding preparation folks say, “You do not just marry your spouse, but you marry the family.” Food can carry family stories and make the blending easier. I love making biscotti to honor and remember my family and their values. We like the traditional biscotti and a great double chocolate variety, but we have also literally made room for contributions of other Christmas cookies that join the family parties as our circle widens.

As families bend and grow, it is good to honor those who came before us. Even the smallest food traditions or customs, help us remember where and who it is we came from! Celebration foods can hold memories to share with all those around the table.

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Pumpkin Soup

Monday, October 24th 2022 6:00 am

Pumpkin Soup

2 whole pie pumpkins, washed OR
3 15 oz cans “pure” pumpkin puree (see note for more about canned pumpkin)
1 qt. (4 oz) vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 C heavy cream or evaporated milk
1/3 C maple syrup (local to your region, if possible)
dash of nutmeg
salt to taste
extra cream and toasted pumpkin seeds, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. If using fresh pie pumpkins, place them on a cookie sheet and roast them until slightly shriveled and soft. Allow to cool slightly, then slice in half and carefully scoop out seeds and pulp. Scoop flesh into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a pot, heat up the pumpkin flesh (fresh or canned) with the stock and maple syrup until simmering. If using fresh, you will need to mash out the big chunks, transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender) and puree until velvety smooth. Add cream and nutmeg and completely combine. Season with salt to taste.
  3. Reheat if needed. Garnish with a drizzle of cream and pumpkin seeds, if available.

Small sugar pumpkins have denser, meatier, more colorful, sweeter flesh than the large ones we use as decoration, so if you do want to make pie (or other pumpkin) recipes completely from scratch, use those. Canned “Pumpkin Puree” is a mixture of squashes, bred for their resemblance to the smaller pie pumpkin. In contrast, canned “Pumpkin Pie Filling” includes added spices, sugar, salt, and water.

Many scholars use food as a means of tracing history and culture. What can we learn from the simple pumpkin? For example, the first Thanksgiving in 1621, is not likely to have had pumpkin pie on the menu since there were no ovens for baking in America at the time, no European wheat or enough sugar to make this dessert.

But, some Native peoples made pumpkin porridge with milk, honey, and spices poured into hollowed-out pumpkin shells, which were roasted whole in hot ashes until blackened, soft, and steamy. Later, with the use of metal pots brought by the colonizers, they had more cooking options. Don't I take my oven for granted!

Pumpkins and squash are believed to be native to Central America. The very first wild pumpkins were probably extremely bitter and small, but once they began to be cultivated by indigenous farmers for their flesh, they grew sweeter and more palatable. As tribes established extensive trade routes, many seed varieties traveled north, including this nutritious “sister” and its siblings tomatoes, potatoes, chilis and more. Once Europeans came to America, they began growing pumpkins as a staple food crop. European explorers as far back as the 1530s brought pumpkin seeds home with them, which explains why French and English cookbooks in the 1600s contain pumpkin recipes. Today, even China and India are among the largest pumpkin growers in the world.

Some of these details come from Jen Wheeler at

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Christmas Chip Cookies

Monday, December 19th 2022 6:00 am

Christmas Chip Cookies

1 C white sugar
1 C brown sugar
1 C butter (2 sticks)
1 C vegetable oil
1 C flaked coconut
1 C regular oatmeal
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 pkg (12 oz) mixture of caramel and chocolate chips or 3/4 C each
3 1/4 C all purpose flour
1 C Rice Krispies


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and drop by spoonful onto a cookie sheet.
  2. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

This chocolate chip cookie recipe was passed on by Bonnie Sacis to Sister Antona Schedlo. “The cookies just melt in your mouth”, says Sister Antona! Sounds like a sweet treat recipe for any time of year.

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Double Zucchini Recipes!

Friday, August 12th 2022 3:29 pm

Zucchini Waffles

Depending on the size of your waffle baker, this recipe should yield anywhere from 4 (large) to 8 waffles.This recipe can also be used for pancakes.Have leftover waffle batter? Use all of the batter to make waffles and freeze the leftovers! Homemade frozen waffles! Just for fun: add in some chocolate chips! Serves 4

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 cup milk any: whole, 2%, almond 
5 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
1 cup plain yogurt
1 heaping cup grated zucchini squeezed in a dishtowel or cheese cloth


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter, yogurt and the grated zucchini. Fold the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until somewhat smooth and combined.
  2. Preheat your waffle baker and spray with non-stick baking spray or wipe down lightly with butter to grease the waffle baker. Cook waffles (using about 1/2 cup batter per waffle) until golden and crisp. Every waffle baker is different so cook according to waffle baker instructions. Mine takes about 2 1/2 minutes per waffle. Repeat until all of the waffle batter has been used. Serve with fresh fruit or maple syrup if desired! Enjoy!

If freezing the waffles, they freeze and re-heat better if they are smaller so, with my waffle baker, I break/separate my waffles into the little triangles and freeze those.

It's zucchini season! This over-abundant veggie is a form of summer squash, and I've always found it hard to use it all up without freezing it. But I also have a deep love for breakfast foods, especially pancakes. I'll be trying the pancake version of this recipe soon, I think! Recipe submitted by Vicki Lopez-Kaley.

Zucchini Brownies

1/2 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups zucchini, shredded
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In large mixing bowl, beat together the oil and sugar.
  3. Add the egg and mix well.  Add the vanilla and shredded zucchini and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl and beat until combined.
  6. Use butter or oil to grease a 9X13-inch baking pan.  Spread mixture into prepared pan (batter will be thick) and smooth into an even layer.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the center of the brownies springs back when gently touched.  Cool on a wire cooling rack.
  8. Frost brownies once they are completely cooled, if desired.


  • Cut granulated sugar in half (3/4 cup), and use 1 cup wheat flour and 1 cup all-purpose flour (instead of 2 cups all-purpose flour) for a healthier version of this recipe!
  • You can also add nuts, caramel, marshmallows, chocolate or peanut butter chips, or whatever you'd like to the top of the brownie batter right before putting it into the oven.

Remember being a kid? The other day, the FSPA garden hosted the Boys and Girls Club for a weeding extravaganza. Sister Lucy also had the kids try store-bought veggies versus garden-harvested ones, and she made these brownies to go with it. The kids could almost always tell which veggies came from the garden! And when it came to the brownies, they preferred the ones without nuts. I wonder if I could have told the difference between veggies when I was a kid? Recipe submitted by Sister Lucy Slinger.

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Three Sisters Harvest Bowls

Monday, October 10th 2022 6:00 am

Three Sisters Harvest Bowls

For the squash:

2 C butternut, Seminole pumpkin or kabocha squash, peeled and cubed
pinch of salt
1 T balsamic vinegar (other vinegars will do)
1 T olive oil

For the beans and corn:
1-2 T olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, diced (other mild onion will do)
1-2 stalks celery, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 T chopped fresh parsley (1 ½ tsp dried)
1 T chopped fresh sage leaves (1 ½ tsp dried)
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves (1/3 tsp dried)
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (1/3 tsp dried)
2 ears corn (about 1½ C)
1 1/2 C pre-cooked or canned beans
salt and pepper, to taste
Serve with: wild rice, quinoa, arugula, or kale


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Toss the squash cubes with salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until tender all the way through when you poke them with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté the onion in a large Dutch oven for a few minutes, stirring. Add celery. Cook until both are soft and translucent. Stir in the red pepper and herbs.
  4. Slice the corn off the cobs and stir into the pot. Gently fold in the beans. Simmer, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Build your bowl with wild rice, quinoa, kale, and/or arugula as the base. Top with the corn and beans mixture and roasted squash. Garnish with some fresh herbs, as you like.
  6. Learn more about peeling, cubing and roasting squash here and learn more about how to substitute dried herbs with fresh here.

Indigenous People's Day this week (see below) invites us to explore native culture and foods. Native American languages do not use the pronoun "it" when referring to the natural world. "It" is for items made by human hands. Trees, animals, rocks and water are "he" or "she." How would humans treat the earth if we spoke of creation as brothers and sisters? If we saw in each creature the presence of the divine? Saint Francis of Assisi did as he prayed "Laudato Si'" or "Praised be the Lord through Sister Air." Would we listen to earth’s wisdom before imposing our ideas and consumer mentality on members of our family? How should we treat our relatives, the soil, plants and rivers? The ore and oil and gas deep in the earth? 

The companion planting technique devised by indigenous farmers called "3 Sisters" is still practiced today. Planted in the same bed, corn provides a trellis for the beans, beans add nitrogen to the soil, and large squash leaves shade out the weeds around all three. This companion planting allows all three sisters and the whole community to thrive. Something for humans to imitate!

Columbus Day (October 12) acknowledged Christopher C. and other explorers who came to the western hemisphere in the 14 and 1500's. Indigenous People's Day (around October 12) is new in some communities to acknowledge and celebrate the original people who lived on land we now occupy, whole nations who were often displaced or destroyed along with their language, food ways, spirituality. We can work for justice. See: We will explore more in November, during American Indian Heritage Month with recipes and stories. Share your favorite recipe for squash, wild rice, berries and cranberries!

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Switchel - Refreshing Summertime Drink

Friday, August 26th 2022 6:00 am

Switchel - Refreshing Summertime Drink

1/3 C sugar
2/3 C water
1/4 C mint
1/4 C lemon balm (or substitute with more mint!)
1/2 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 C orange juice
2 quarts ginger ale


  1. Bring water and sugar to a boil and set aside. Squeeze citrus juices and finely chop mint and lemon balm.
  2. Add orange and lemon juices to the hot sugar syrup. Remove from the heat, add chopped herbs and cover. Let steep for at least 1 hour.
  3. Strain mixture through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer or sieve. Add ginger ale and serve chilled.
  4. Note: All mint may be used instead of lemon balm.

Meg Paulino got this recipe from an herb farm in Seattle many years ago and it is her favorite summertime drink!

This drink was often served to farmers at hay harvest time to quench the thirst of parched field workers and is sometimes called “haymaker’s punch”. Lemons are rich in electrolytes and Switchel sounds more refreshing than Gatorade on a harvest time day.

Switchel dates back to colonial times when products like maple syrup would have been used for sweetener. Vinegar and ginger juice were common ingredients in the absence of acidic lemon and modern ginger ale.  Stories are told of gatherings of the Constitutional Congress where a punch bowl of Switchel was served sweetened with cane sugar or molasses and spiked with rum all from the West Indies.

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Summer Squash Casserole

Monday, August 22nd 2022 6:00 am

Summer Squash Casserole

Here’s an easy Summer Squash Casserole with roots in the southern U.S. Read on to meet southern chef Vivian Howard, view her “Old School Squash and Onions” recipe and hear her stories.

Makes 8 - 10 side dish servings. If you don’t need 8-10 servings, you could make two casseroles and share one with a friend!

3 lb. yellow squash (4 small), cut in 1 / 4” thick slices
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3 T olive oil
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2  large eggs
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 C mayonnaise
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1 T  chopped fresh thyme leaves (1 tsp dried) OR 1 tsp dried dill weed
3 T butter, melted, plus more for pan
1 1/2  sleeves round butter crackers, such as Ritz, broken (about 3 C)
1/4 C  grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Combine squash and onion on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Toss well to combine. Cook for 25 minutes, until squash is slightly softened and has released its liquid. Drain the mixture through a colander. Press gently with paper towels to remove some extra moisture. Let cool a bit as you prepare other ingredients.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350. Place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, thyme and black pepper and stir together. Fold in warm squash and onions (You don’t want them to be hot from the oven.). Transfer mixture to buttered 3-qt. baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes (You can do the recipe this far and store in the fridge to finish later. If doing so, add topping (step 3) and cook (step 4) in the microwave for about 15 minutes!).

In a small bowl, combine melted butter, cracker pieces and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle in an even layer top on top of the casserole. Return to the oven for 25 to 30 minutes more, until crackers are golden brown and the edges are bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Most produce is available year-round when shipped from warm climates. But, foods in their season are most delicious! Flavor is only one benefit of seasonal eating. The Seasoned Franciscan will explore them all.

In the Midwest, summer squash and onions are in season in late July/early August. Native to Central and South America as far back as 10,000 years ago, summer squash (from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked) is a staple in Native American and Mexican cuisine.  Summer squash come in many varieties, shapes and sizes.  Smaller ones have a better texture, fewer large seeds and more concentrated flavor.  Larger ones are better suited to baking and stuffing.

Learn more:
Restaurant owner and cookbook author Vivian Howard is one of my favorite PBS chefs. She honors seasonal local foods and the African American and Indigenous roots of many southern soul food dishes, the connection between culture and food. Vivian makes this northern girl want to explore more food and culture stories of the south. When describing summer squash she says, it’s “not boring!” “She is elegant, feminine and delicious!” What a beautiful image! Find her Squash and Onions Recipe below or watch her make it herself. You might get interested in other southern foods that do well in northern gardens!

View Vivian’s by visiting to watch her make it herself. (I used oil and butter instead of bacon fat and to make it a main dish added cooked ground turkey with Mexican spices. Any leftover meat will do!)

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Two-for-One Rhubarb Recipes - Repeated from last season!

Monday, June 26th 2023 6:00 am

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

For filling, mix together: 
5-6 C total diced rhubarb and strawberries, cutto about the same size.
1 T flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C white sugar
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
Put filling in a baking pan, metal or glass. I prefer a 6 – 10 cup glass pan, as it makes a deeper, browner portion than a 9 x 12 cake pan. It’s the cook’s preference!

For topping, mix together: 
3/4 C oatmeal
3/4 C brown sugar
3/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder


  1. Add 1/3 C melted butter and mix topping well.
  2. Distribute topping evenly over the rhubarb and strawberry filling.
  3. Bake in a preheated 325 – 350 degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes.

Sliced peeled apples may also be used instead of strawberries. If using apples, the 40 minute time is best to soften the apples.

Rhubarb Sauce

To harvest rhubarb, look for stalks that are turning red. Pull the stalk from the outside of the plant and get the roots. Don’t cut it near the ground as you want it to keep producing!

If you don’t have time or enough rhubarb to make pie or another dessert, this sauce is easy and quick. With just a little sugar, it is great on its own, over ice cream or to top yogurt. Adjust the recipe below according to the amount of rhubarb you have. This sauce is also good with other berries added. Strawberries are an example that get ripe at about the same time!

2 C Chopped rhubarb or combination of rhubarb and strawberries.
1/2 C Sugar (Adjust to your own taste)

  1. Wash the stalks and remove leaves and any discolored root ends.
  2. Chop into pieces about 1 inch (smaller if your stalks are thin).
  3. Add pieces to a medium size saucepan or skillet.  Remember, it will spatter when hot and could burn the cook!
  4. Sweeten it with the sugar and adjust according to your taste.
  5. Add a splash of water to help break down the fibers.
  6. Begin to cook the mixture on medium heat stirring constantly.  When it begins to bubble, turn the heat to a low simmer.
  7. Stir occasionally, so you can tell how thick it’s getting and to keep it from sticking or burning! Let it reduce to the consistency you like, about 20-30 minutes. OPTIONAL: Season the sauce after it is cooked, tasting as you go. Additions include a small amount of cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract or a little lemon zest.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the sauce completely.
  9. Store it in a covered container. It will last a couple of weeks in the fridge or freeze it for later!

You can also freeze the raw rhubarb pieces in a freezer bag. Squeeze out all the air. Defrost to use when you have enough rhubarb and time to make your recipe!

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These Rhubarb Crisp and Sauce Recipes are worth repeating this season when both rhubarb and strawberries are plentiful.  Strawberries are the "leaders of the berry people" and tell a story of sharing gifts, according to Native American Botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer.  “Strawberries first shaped my view of a world full of gifts simply scattered at your feet. A gift comes to you through no action of your own, free, having moved toward you without your beckoning. It is not a reward; you cannot earn it, or call it to you, or even deserve it. And yet it appears." Click on Robin's name above for an excerpt on strawberries from her book "Braiding Sweetgrass".  Or listen to her TED talk on The Honorable Harvest which features the first berries of summer.

Fall Wild Rice Salad and Water

Monday, October 2nd 2023 6:00 am

1 1/2 C cooked wild rice  (See below)
1 small onion, chopped, about 1 C
1 C roasted mushrooms
1 red or green pepper, diced
1 small green apple, diced
1 ½ C salad greens of your choice
1 C roasted nuts or seeds (walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Berry Maple Dressing (See below) or your favorite vinaigrette

Toss all ingredients together in a serving bowl and serve.

Cooked Wild Rice:
Heid E. Erdrich recommends: 1 C rinsed wild rice in 2 C water or stock brought to a boil in a heavy medium size pot with a lid.  Turn down the heat to a simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.  Extra cooked wild rice freezes and thaws well in an airtight container or freezer bag four soup, pilaf and other recipes!

Dressing Ingredients:
2 T raspberry jam or another favorite flavor
1 T maple syrup
1/3 C raspberry vinegar.  You may substitute other fruit vinegar (cider) or balsamic
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp dried tarragon 
1 tsp minced chives, optional
1C oil (sunflower, extra virgin olive or oil of your choice)

Dressing Directions:  Whisk together jam, syrup, seasonings. Continue to whisk and add the oil until completely mixed.  Taste to adjust seasonings.  Use this to dress this salad or as a marinade.

About the author:  Heid E. Erdrich is author of a cookbook called Original Local:  Indigenous foods, stories, and recipes from the Upper Midwest.  She gathered sketches, photos, recipes and stories from many family members.  She group up in the Red River Valley in NW Minnesota and her foods represent tribes from throughout the Upper Midwest.  Her book is published by MN Historical Society Press and is a gem!

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Story:  This fall Wild Rice Salad is refreshing and full of colorful nutrients. In this Season of Creation, Native people and have much to teach about the sacredness of food, such as their beloved sister Wild Rice, aka manoomin or good berry.  As the ricing season comes to an end, we can reflect on how Wisconsin’s unique wild rice beds depend on WATER.  These beds in lakes and rivers are being adversely affected by climate change and pollution.  Wild rice is designed for clean water and a cold, northern climate. he mild winters, heavy spring rains and warmer water associated with climate change, threaten her existence.

The St. Louis River in both Wisconsin and Minnesota and its Estuary near the popular Duluth/Superior area has been an environmental Area Of Concern (AOC) since 1987.  Before modern environmental laws were in place, pollution created much damage.  Area citizens, government agencies, tribes, non-profits, universities and others formed the St. Louis River Alliance. Their goal is to restore 275 self-sustaining acres of wild rice beds in this AOC, along with restoration of wildlife habitat, recreation areas, clean water and more. 

A short video entitled: Restoring Wild Rice in the St. Louis River Estuary describes the sacred nature of wild rice to the Ojibwe and the work of St. Louis River Alliance partners to help the river and wild rice recover.  For if the wild rice goes away, so do her people.  

We can't ignore that another huge task we humans face is to hold back on rising water temperatures that also threaten wild rice, fish, habitat, weather patterns and people on the earth, our Common Home.

To learn more about Indigenous Affairs in Wisconsin, follow Frank Vaisvilas, Indigenous affairs reporter for USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin based at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  His work raises awareness!

Also, Monday, October 9 is Indigenous People's Day.  Check out the activities going on in La Crosse and many other communities on that day!


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