Bernie, Two Months!

Hello from Bernie’s 10th week! She is nearly 2 1/2 months old and smiles more and more each day! We have settled into the best little routine where every morning we have wiggle time, then go to the gym to stroll and listen to Unorthodox, and then come home and make a big summery salad for lunch. In the afternoon we do a fun thing like read crinkly tail tale books or swat at hanging vegetable toys before snuggles and nap time (that’s when I watch Jeopardy and read Bringing Up Bébé). Then we make dinner and Eggboy and I watch Fargo while we wait for Bernie to poop so that we can then give her a bath without worrying that she’ll poop in it (yep, learned that one the hard way haha). It’s peak maternity leave livin’ around here and we are soaking it in. Also the weather has been amazing, so we are, as Bernie puts it, “GOO!” Some highlights from this past month include:

-Our first little family picnic! On Memorial Day, we grilled sausages, potatoes, and broccolini, and drank rhubarb soda while we enjoyed the evening breeze.

-Bernie’s first out of town visitors! Jaclyn and Katie came to town and we had the best weekend ever, which included a trip to Fargo for the Antiques Roadshow (with a stop at Silver Lining Creamery after), the North Dakota Shakespeare 5K (err- we walked 3Ks of it ;), an afternoon picnic in the backyard with cookies and cookie dough (and carrots for balance), and cinnamon roll pancakes at Darcy’s.

-Cuddle time with Mrs. Moose. Bernie’s been grasping and swatting at toys and in true baby fashion she definitely prefers the super saturated weirdly colored high contrast ones. The muted rainbow lover in me is like “😳🙄 But Bernie, this hot pink neon green bumble bee clashes terribly with your navy car seat, mustard outfit, and olive pacifier…” but it’s ok, maybe one day she’ll love dusty rose like I do??

-Bernie’s first Syttende Mai, Norwegian Constitution Day! She is 5/16ths Norwegian, so we went to Sons of Norway and ate lefse, krumkake, rømmegrøt, and all of the other faves. She wore her Norwegian accessories from our friend Trude in Norway and had the best time!!

-My first Mother’s Day, it was delightful! Bernie and I worked on her cookbook and snuggled the day away. Then the following week it was my birthday and we went out to lunch wearing identical outfits and spent the rest of the day baking cookies and cake!

-Bernie talks soo much!! We have great conversations about Ooo and Ahh and Goo, I love them.

-She has gotten very tall, she has Eggboy’s legs. Hallelujah!

Ok, we’ve gotta go pick rhubarb!! Bernie’s sending some friendly hiccups in your general direction and I’m waving! Bye!

-Yeh!

knoephla soup

We have had a great big week! On Friday, we wrapped filming and ate a bunch of fried food to celebrate. It was so sad to see everyone go, but unlike the past two seasons when I didn’t know if the show would be renewed or not before wrapping, this time I knew they’d all be back in July! And they’ll be able to meet Poppy Seed! Over the two weeks of filming, Poppy Seed grew soo much and also flipped to be head down. For a little while I kept patting what I thought was her head but then we went to the doctor and confirmed that I’d been patting the butt this whole time. Hehe. Even though the counter became further and further away, my carpal tunnel symptoms luckily subsided (there will be a lot of pre-chopped vegetables in these episodes!) but then my brain turned to mush! Toward the end of the run it sometimes took me like six attempts to explain the simplest things like how to put sprinkles on the rugelach. And I dropped an entire tray of choco tacos. But thankfully I was able to hold onto my energy for the most part and avoid back pain, which were my two greatest fears other than over baking the potato bagels. On my evenings and days off, I recharged by swimming, watching figure skating, and descending deeper into my bachelor obsession. 

After wrapping, Eggboy and Poppy Seed and I were thrown the most beautiful baby shower by our moms (soon to be grandmas!), sisters (aunties!!!), and friends. It was sprinkle and hotdish themed, and they took my fear of baby shower games seriously so it was a lovely afternoon of eating confetti petit fours and tater tot hotdish, hanging out with friends from near and far, writing funny things on diapers, and unveiling the sweetest gifts that ranged from ultra practical (mountains of diapers!) to ultra homespun (like cousin Elaine’s hand knit sprinkle cupcake hats!!) to ultra hippo. I’m obsessed with this hippo. He’s sitting right next to me and I can’t stop looking at him and giggling. Eggboy and I felt soo loved and got even more excited to bring Poppy Seed into our extremely rad mishpocha. 

Continuing on with my list of foods that I plan to stock in our freezer for my maternity leave, I have to share this soup with you that is the best kept secret of the upper Midwest. Knoephla soup is right up with tater tot hotdish as my favorite new food that I’ve learned about since moving here. Knoephla (neh-fla) are little chewy dumplings that made their way to this area with German immigrants and are most commonly enjoyed in creamy potato soup, but can also be sautéed with sauerkraut and sausage or put into hotdish. They are kind of like plumper smoother spaetzle and the frozen store-bought ones look a lot like mochi bits. Knoephla soup is traditionally made without meat, just potatoes, vegetables, a bit of cream, and my favorite (from Dakota Harvest, r.i.p.) had the most warming hit of nutmeg. The texture of the dumplings and the pure comfort of it all makes this the kind of soup that I just shovel into my mouth with abandon. We had it at our wedding and for years now I’ve wondered why it hasn’t seemed to pick up that much popularity outside of the upper Midwest. The #knoephla hashtag is my favorite hashtag to follow on IG but all of the posts are from North Dakota! Many of them are from Kroll’s dinner, which has a killer version that you can supposedly buy by the bucket (?!), just in case you find yourself at one of those. This is probably one of the only areas where you can buy frozen knoephla at the grocery store, but not to worry, they are very easy to make. I have a recipe in Molly on the Range for knoephla soup but this is a new and improved version because over the past couple of years I’ve started adding more herbs to it, including an egg in the dumplings for added chewiness, and making a much bigger batch so that I can freeze some. I’m not sure if adding dill would be considered the most traditional move, but as I become closer and closer to being a Jewish mother, I’m more inclined than ever to channel severely dill-y matzo ball soup vibes into, like, everything. So while it’s still winter, make a gigantic batch of this and then eat it on the couch from under a fluffy blanket. 


knoephla soup

Serves 8-10

instructions

3 tb unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

kosher salt and black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp nutmeg

10 c chicken or vegetable stock

1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 sprigs dill, chopped

4 sprigs parsley, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 1/2 lb (680g) red potatoes, chopped into 1/2” pieces

1 1/2 lb (680g) store-bought frozen knoephla or homemade knoephla (recipe below)

1/2 c (120g) heavy cream

clues

in a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. add the onions, carrots, celery, a good pinch of salt, and a few turns of black pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. add the garlic and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes, until fragrant.

stir in the stock, herbs, bay leaves, and potatoes, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. if using store-bought frozen dumplings, add them when the soup reaches a boil. if using homemade dumplings, begin making them when the soup reaches a boil and then add them for the last 20 minutes of simmering.

stir in the cream. taste and adjust seasonings as desired. remove the bay leaves before serving.

enjoy!

to freeze, let cool and transfer to freezer safe containers. freeze for up to three months and defrost in the microwave or overnight in the fridge, and then reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

knoephla

3 1/4 c (422g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

black pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 c (236g) water

1 large egg

to make the knoephla:

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, a few turns of pepper, and the nutmeg. stir in the water and egg and mix to form a shaggy dough. turn it out onto a clean work surface and knead it for a few minutes, adding flour as needed, until you have a smooth and stiff dough. roll it into 1/2”-thick blob, cut into 1/2”-3/4” squares, dusting with flour so they don’t stick together, and drop them directly into simmering soup.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett! dutch oven by great jones!

ginger scallion chicken and dumplings

Hello, hi!! How are you all January-ing and coping with the Monday of Months/post-holiday slump/dry weather? Warning, I’m about to be the overly cheery person in the room but once I re-arranged my open shelves with all of my pink and purple kitchenware to be Valentine’s Day themed and also splurged on a tube of Kiehl’s coriander hand cream, I remembered how I’ve actually become kind of obsessed with January. I used to dread it soo much but that was back in college when it’d still be dark when I emerged from the practice room and then have to schlep around the streets in the dirty slush if I wanted to do anything social. These days, however, winter means Eggboy’s version of summer, which means we can go on more trips and stuff! It’s the most fun time of the year. And I want to tell you about our most recent adventure, our Great Midwest road trip!!

We drove from Grand Forks to the cute town of Red Wing, MN, to Chicago, to Kalamazoo, MI, and then up around the Upper Peninsula, through Wisconsin, on to Duluth, and then back home, by way of Bemidji, for pizza. We stuck to smaller roads and searched out historic and one-of-a-kind places that bursted with personality. It was delightful and tasty and we saw so many adorable cute towns that all felt like they came right out of a snow globe.

Here were some of the best places we went:


Red Wing, MN

St. James Hotel- A beautiful historic hotel in the little cute town of Red Wing. It was so beautiful that I didn’t even care that it was exactly the type of place that would be a little bit haunted. We’d seen it a bunch of times from when we’d pass by on the train from Grand Forks to Chicago but this was our first time inside and we loved it.

Hanisch Bakery- The coziest homiest bakery, with a killer sprinkle donut and orange slices as a side to their breakfast sandwiches. The donut had like a sprinkle crust. It was perfect.

St. Ignace, MI

Bentley’s Cafe- Ok, I don’t know whose idea it was to take a pasty tour of the U.P. in the dead of winter (oops, it was my idea…) but basically the first four stops on our tour were closed for the season and Eggboy and I got soooo hangry, I don’t think we’d ever been that hangry before. Finally we found Bentley’s and they had pasties! OMG they were amazing. Their crust was extra buttery and flaky and the veggie one had lots of cheese in it. I would eat this pasty again and again. 

Marquette, MI

Landmark Inn- Another beautiful historic hotel! (We hit the beautiful historic hotel jackpot on this trip.)

Lawry’s Pasties- Amazing pasties!! The crust was way sturdier than the one at Bentley’s but in a really satisfying way.

Jean Kay’s Pasties- More amazing pasties!! Between Lawry’s and Jean Kay’s, these had a higher ratio of vegetables to meat, but I couldn’t choose a fave, they were both delicious. 

Pence, WI

Reinerio’s Sausage- Secret basement sausage!!! This was recommended to me by my instagram friend Britt and it was just a little bit out of our way, in the itsy bitsy unincorporated town of Pence, WI. The owner makes sausage in his basement and it’s so good! We came home with a cooler full of fresh salami, breakfast sausages, other sausages, and a giant chunk of Asiago. 

Duluth, MN

Duluth’s Best Bread- This is new since we were last in Duluth (on our mini moon four years ago!) and I’m so glad we went. We bought a giant soft pretzel for the road and crusty loaves of flax seed bread and wild rice bread to take home that I have been toasting up in the morning to have with the Asiago from the secret sausage man.

Northern Waters Smokehouse- We ate here on our anniversary and it was the tastiest most casual anniversary there ever was. I ate a pastrami sandwich that had the perfect amount of mayo (aka a gigantic load of mayo).

Uncle Loui’s Cafe- A perfect diner. In my storyboard for the Duluth curling team Olympic gold medal movie, at least two important scenes take place here.

Bemidji, MN

Dave’s Pizza- We finally went here after hearing about it for years! I’d been craving classic Midwest square cut cracker crust pizza (I know, I know, shame on me for talking smack on square cut pizza, I knowww, I’m terrible) and it was perfect. Finished it off with a spumoni.

Chicago, IL

We spent time at some of our old trusty favorites: Russian Tea Time, Christkindlmarket, and Furama!

Things I learned on this trip: 

-Using a real paper map is wayyyy more fun than a cell phone map.

-Sometimes places that are the cutest and have the most personality and history (and that I end up loving the most) have lower star ratings on the internet than newer hipper places. So I’m learning not to put so much weight on star ratings on Yelp and stuff.

-I will never take another road trip without my Birdling Weekender. It’s set up like a clothing bento box, with different compartments that you can access quickly and easily. We stayed in a different place each night on our trip and I was not *once* stressed out about packing/unpacking/locating my underpants. 

-I like my pasties with both gravy and spicy ketchup.

-Small cocoon-like bedrooms/hotel rooms rule. We stayed in two very large rooms and I barely slept those nights. The best sleep was in the smaller rooms.

-Ok, yes, I LOVE square cut cracker crust pizza.

-Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker is bananas!!

-Trips where you only bring sweatpants are the best trips.

In other news, I have to tell you about this miraculous recipe that I have been obsessing over since I first read it. It’s in Cynthia Chen McTernan’s book, A Common Table, which was a book that I was counting down the days to because I have been a fan of Cynthia and her delicious blog for years and years and years. She makes all of my favorite foods: mochi, steamed buns, potstickers, black sesame things, matcha things… and she makes them all look so darn beautiful! One time we shot a bacon and sweet corn ice cream sandwich blog post together and it was the best day ever. Cynthia is truly just as sweet and awesome IRL as she comes across on her blog and now in her book, I am definitely a good candidate for president of the Cynthia fan club. My copy of A Common Table is filled with bookmarks and dates scribbled into recipes that I’ve already made. We had her bulgogi on New Year’s Eve, mochi pancakes for the premiere of GMF season 2, and I’m planning to make like all of her sweets. I just love how her recipes tie in her heritage with her southern upbringing and beautiful stories, and they’re all so playful and fun too! I think it goes without saying that if you like good food and also fun, then you need her book. 

Here is my favorite recipe from her book. I like it because its ingredients produce the 1 + 1 = 3 magic. You’ve seen the magic in Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken recipe, it’s the thing that happens when a stunningly short list of simple ingredients produces a thing that explodes with flavor and awesomeness. After making Cynthia’s chicken and dumplings once, I had the recipe memorized. It’s ginger, scallions, and chicken. Just memorize that! Then you make chewy rustic dumplings which are like thick potsticker wrappers and, holy smokes, I could eat them all day. It’s nourishing and strikes a perfect balance between comforting and not too heavy. Eating it makes you feel like you’re curing ailments you didn’t even have. I’m so in wuv.


ginger scallion chicken and dumplings

from cynthia chen mcternan’s a common table

serves 4

ingredients

2 lbs chicken drumsticks or thighs, skin-on and bone-in

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 or 4 scallions, sliced into 1” pieces (about 1/2 c)

3 inches ginger root, peeled and sliced into 1/8” pieces (about 1/3 c)

6 c water

1 c (130g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

soy sauce, for serving

chili garlic paste, for serving

clues

make the soup: season the chicken generously with 1 teaspoon salt. place it in a medium pot with the scallions, ginger, and water. (if desired, tie the ginger in cheesecloth to make it easier to remove later.) bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, keeping the soup at a bare simmer.

make the dumpling dough: after the soup has been simmering for about 30 minutes, start the dumplings. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. ladle about 6 tablespoons broth and trickle it into the bowl of flour while stirring the flour with chopsticks or a silicone spatula. a wet dish towel under the bowl may help keep it in place while you stir. after you’ve added all the broth, continue to stir until the flour mixture becomes pebbly and the water is evenly incorporated. make sure the dough is a comfortable temperature to touch, then use your hands to knead the dough until smooth and taut, 5 to 10 minutes. the dough should be fairly firm, not tacky, and should not stick to your hands or the bowl. if it does, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is firm. place in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag and allow to rest while the broth simmers for another 25 to 30 minutes (for a total of 1 hour altogether).

skim any scum off the top of the broth and remove the ginger, if you’d like. transfer the chicken to a plate or cutting board and use a fork to pull the meat from the bones. return the meat to the pot and let the soup continue to simmer gently while you make the dumplings.

form the dumplings: by now, the dumpling dough should be nice and pliable after its rest. the traditional method of preparing flat dumplings is to roll the dough out to a large rectangle, 1/4” or less in thickness, and then slice the rectangle into 1” x 2” strips. alternatively, you can form them the way noodles are torn for kimchi sujebi: pinch off a tablespoon of dough and pull it in half so that it forms 2 flat pieces. flatten the pieces to about 1/4” or less, if needed, but otherwise the pieces need not be uniform. roughly torn edges create a nice texture. repeat until the dough is gone.

bring the soup back to a lively simmer over medium heat, then drop the dumpling pieces into the pot. simmer until the dumplings float to the surface, 1 to 2 more minutes, then serve, with soy sauce and chili garlic paste on the side, if desired.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!

lefse

It has come to the point in the holiday season where I really just want to stick a straw into the balloon that is the month of December and blow it up a little. I’d like it to be two weeks longer, or maybe three. That’s the amount of time that I estimate I’d need to get all of the holiday things done that I want to get done, including just being able to sit comfortably in the holiday spirit without getting nervous that it’s going to end before I can have enough Sufjan Christmas moments.

I had a lot of mediumly grand plans this holiday season: adding rose nougat to my annual cookie boxes, throwing a Lefse and Latke Chrismukkah Party, making a Dala horse shaped stollen-y cake, and not having to pay for expedited shipping on the gifts I ordered online. At most, I only achieved abridged versions of these (thanks to these quick stollen bars and free shipping from Pendleton). But no party and no nougat. Which is fine because this season was still packed with other people’s parties, almond-heavy cookie swaps, and little Cliff’s Baptism bash. It also has yet to be packed with Christkindlmarket and an Upper Peninsula pasty tour. And I have a dentist appointment at the beginning of January so it’s probably best that I didn’t make nougat. 

But the one thing that I would seriously schedule first in the event that my expansion of December by way of blowing it up with a straw plan actually worked is a lefse weekend. Ever since I learned about the lefse making tradition when I first moved here, I admired it (even despite the fact that the first time I made it, it ended in tears). Making lefse symbolizes the holidays in the upper Midwest, it’s a group activity that’s been happening year after year for generations, and there are so many stories surrounding it. But to be totally honest, it wasn’t until I made lefse with cousin Elaine and aunt Ethel when we filmed the Chrismukkah episode of Girl Meets Farm back in October that it became a food that I craved with all of my might. Is it because I’m pregnant? Maybe. Good things, especially potato-centric things, do tend to taste better these days. Or maybe it’s because the last few times I’ve had it, it was store-bought. When we made it on the show, I was reminded of how fluffy, soft, tender, and flavorful it is when it’s fresh off the grill and slathered with softened butter. I wish I could have eaten more of it during the filming. I wish I could have paused cameras for a minute so that I could run to my cabinet and pull down all of my jams, nut butters, Nutella, etc., and just sit there eating a bite of lefse with each. But we were on a schedule and I needed to pace myself because that was also spätzle week. 

And then after filming wrapped I had one ultimate foam-at-the-mouth pregnant lady epitome. It happened on the plane to Florida when I opened up the December Bon Appetit and saw the most drop dead beautiful spread of roast beef, pickles, a white creamy sauce, and salty buttery fluffy rolls, all set up for a party. It was simple and stunning. I shoved it in Eggboy’s face and he also started foaming at the mouth. The more I stared at that spread, the more I realized I had to do it… but replace the rolls with lefse. And replace the roast beef with ham (I’m going through a ham phase). I mean??!!! Just imagine a soft warm sheet of lefse slathered with mayo and wrapped around salty hot ham. The pickle could be in it too, or it could be on the side, it would be perfect either way. I am a little dead just thinking about it. I might need to schedule a random January party just to do this. But something tells me that lefse ham tacos would taste better without the vibe of New Year’s diet mishegas in the air. 

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been daydreaming of.

<3 Lefse and ham. <3

Here is our family lefse recipe, which was developed by Ollie Amundson, my second cousin three times removed in-law in-law. (Or, the wife of Eggboy’s great grandpa’s second cousin.) It has more sugar than many other lefse recipes, and the fact that it uses oil instead of butter has been raising some eyebrows. But it’s the family recipe that Ethel has scribbled on a very special notecard and I love it for its extra sweetness and soft moist texture. The following includes directions for if you have a lefse setup (a lefse grill + a lefse stick) and if you do not (you’ll need a low-sided skillet and a large offset spatula). FYI, my ham taco fantasy uses smaller, skillet-sized lefse. This is best made as a group activity and it is best eaten the day of, however it is very common to keep a stock of it in the freezer. For video help, check out the video that the New York Times filmed at our house a few years ago!


lefse

makes 18 large sheets or 36 smaller sheets

ingredients

5 lbs. (2.25kg) red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2” cubes

1/2 c (100g) sugar

2 tsp kosher salt

2/3 c (133g) neutral oil, such as canola

1 (5-oz) can evaporated milk

2 1/2-3 c (325-390g) all-purpose flour, plus quite a bit more for dusting

Softened butter, sugar, cinnamon sugar, jam, or any other toppings as desired (like ham.)

clues

Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the potatoes are tender, 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rice them into a bowl, continuing until you have 8 cups. Add the sugar, salt, oil, and evaporated milk, and mix to combine. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. 

When you’re ready to grill, preheat a lefse grill to 400º or set a low-lipped skillet over medium high heat (I like using a cast iron pan, at least 10” big). Add the 2 1/2 cups of flour to the potato mixture and mix to combine. It should be sticky and hold together, but not so sticky that it’s impossible to work with, if so, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Divide dough into two logs if you’re using a lefse grill, and four if you’re using a skillet. Cut each log into 9 pieces and place three of the logs on plates or a cutting board in the refrigerator. Keep the dough chilled while you’re not working with it, and work with one log at a time. 

Roll one ball of dough into a ball and place it on a work surface dusted with flour. Dust the top of the dough with flour as well and gently roll it out into a large thin circle, about 1/4” thick, adding more flour as needed. Rotate and flip the circle frequently as you’re rolling it out so that it doesn’t stick. And again- add more flour as needed! Not knowing to do this is what brought me to tears the first time. Using a lefse stick or a large offset spatula, transfer the circle to the grill or skillet and cook until small brown splotches appear on the bottom, about a minute. Using the lefse stick or spatula, flip it and cook on the other side, until small brown splotches appear. Transfer to a plate lined with a clean dish towel and cover it with another. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking lefse on top of one another between the towels. 

Serve with toppings as desired. This is best eaten the day of but leftovers can be refrigerated in a ziploc back and reheated in the microwave until warm. Or frozen and then thawed/microwaved before eating.


-yeh!

photos by chantell and brett!