Category Archives: Taste and See

Rainy Day Sun

It’s been raining forever.

Okay, maybe not forever. But it’s been raining, or rainy, or about to rain, for what feels like forever. The world is soggy and humid and grey.

But not the whole world. Because we finally made it to the farmer’s market this week, and look: Continue reading

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Filed under Taste and See, Thankful Hearts

Shape of My Heart

Sometimes, in the face of grief and loss, we don’t know what to say.

This is part of what makes me grateful for the liturgy–for the shape of worship that holds and carries us when we are too tired or too sad to walk alone. I have leaned into the Sunday morning liturgy in times of uncertainty and worry. The funeral liturgy provides this beautiful comfort and strength, too. Last week, we prayed and we sang and we commended a beloved saint into the arms of Jesus. We were sad, but we were comforted and held by those prayers and songs and words.

But liturgy isn’t the only tool in our toolbox. The day before the funeral, I walked into the church kitchen. This is what I found:


Isn’t it beautiful? There is comfort and strength here, too. We know that there will be orange and strawberry and cherry jello at our funeral lunches. We know that we will be fed.

And, we know that this dark cherry jello with actual cherries in it is the very best. (Pro Tip: If you are the pastor, you might even snag a bowl of this stuff from an empty table. No one at your table will complain about it, because they know you have secured the best jello for them, too.)


What’s your comfort food?


Filed under Ministry Matters, Taste and See

Blessed Are the Pie Makers

pie oven.jpg

You’re darn right there are six pies in that oven.

“If I put it in the freezer, how long will it last?” I asked.

The answer was simple and immediate: “Forever.”

Now, I admit: I have not tested the truth of this claim, because, pro tip, what kind of person leaves an apple pie in the freezer forever? But when I was cleaning out our freezer a few weeks ago, it turned out that one of the apple pies I bought at the church bazaar last year was still there.

This shocked me. (Pro Tip: Not the part where my freezer went untold months without a good clean out; the part where I failed to eat a pie.) And when I took that pie out of the oven and warmed it up, the pie maker who sold it to me was right: it was still perfect.

pie butter

After the lefse makers do their thing, the pie makers take their turn.  They peel and they slice and they mix and they roll and they bake. They pile on the butter and they sprinkle the cinnamon and they make the whole place smell like heaven. The first morning alone, they turned out 58 perfect pies.

They didn’t know, that first morning, whether they would have apples for the next day. (Pro Tip: Apples do grow on trees, but it’s only the end of August.) Every year, the pie makers wonder and  wait. And every year, produce suppliers and orchards and backyard trees provide.

Blessed are the pie makers, for they will be called providers of sweetness. Givers of deliciousness. Bringers of joy.

pie yum

What’s your favorite kind of pie?

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Filed under Taste and See, Thankful Hearts

Minnesota Nice: Butterfield Threshing Bee

train waiting

Waiting for the train. Look at that lean of anticipation!

I was mostly in it for the train ride.

Sure, I love tractors and steam engines as much as the next person (Pro Trip: Depending, of course, on how much the next person loves them), but it was the promise of a train ride in the park that convinced me to load the kids in the car and head over to Butterfield for the 50th annual Butterfield threshing bee.

Well, the train ride exceeded my expectations. For seventy-five cents each, we got to hang out in the depot, tell the ticket taker our imaginary destination (Zoe chose Unicornia), ride through a tunnel, and take in the sights and sounds of the bee. I bought enough tickets for two rides and we loved each one.

But there was so much more: Continue reading

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Filed under All in the Family, Minnesota Nice, Taste and See

Say it with Lefse

lefse balls

The bulletin announcement says 8 AM, but some of them arrive at 6.

They measure and mix. They stir and roll. They flip and fold and weigh and pack and freeze. They are careful and patient and precise, but there is artistry and beauty to their work, too. Many of them remember their parents and grandparents practicing this art on a cook stove, not an electric griddle.

Every Tuesday and Wednesday for three weeks, they are here. When all is said and done, they have made about 300 pounds of lefse for the Nordic Bazaar. (Plus an untold number of pounds of “mistakes” that we are forced to enjoy with our coffee in the middle of each work day.) Continue reading


Filed under Minnesota Nice, Taste and See

On Toilet Paper, Poetry, and Peaches

Before Mike and I got married, we worried about money. (Pro Tip: Now that Mike and I are married, we still worry about money sometimes.)

I wasn’t too far removed from my Lutheran Volunteer Corps year, so I had some experience living on a small budget. “We can do waffles or pancakes and canned peaches for dinner!” I declared, recalling an easy, frugal meal from LVC.

Image from page 954 of "The Ladies' home journal" (1889)

Continue reading


Filed under All in the Family, Book Report, Taste and See

The Poetry of Plums

We just wrapped up a wonderful week of day camp at church. It’s been a joy to hear the kids singing and laughing and running in and around our building this week. It’s also been a treat to join them for snack time and lunch time. (Pro Tip: Ministry is very demanding sometimes.)

Every summer, Saint James offers free breakfast and lunch to all children, five days a week. This program, Kids Kafe, serves meals at the three school buildings in town. This week, they also provided sack lunches for day camp. It was a great gift to our church staff, campers, and their parents. It was also fun to see what was waiting for us inside those brown paper bags each day.

I think most of the kids would say Dorito Day or Rice Krispie Treat Day were their favorite. My favorite, however, was Plum Day: Continue reading

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Filed under Book Report, Taste and See

Minnesota Nice: Schmidt’s Bakery

Men making donuts at the Sugar Crest Donuts Company in Portland, Oregon

When we moved to Saint James, we bought the very first house our realtor showed us.

There was really no question. Despite the retro carpet, the wallpaper everywhere, and the lack of central air, Mike and I immediately fell in love.

Besides the house itself (a 104-year-old beauty), I liked the location. I liked that there were sidewalks on both sides. I liked that there were kids in the neighborhood. And I liked that it was a short walk to church, the library, and . . . Schmidt’s Bakery. Continue reading

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Filed under Minnesota Nice, Taste and See

Roasted Revelation

Image from page 1055 of "The Ladies' home journal" (1889)

A few months ago, the Cumings family was in a deep dinner time rut. The same question waited at the end of each day: “What should we do for supper tonight?”

Finally, I’d had enough.

“Meal planning!” I shouted one day. “It’s time to get back to meal planning!” (Pro Tip: “Shouted” is a relative term.)

I turned to my most trusted cookbook: Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table.  I got this cookbook when Mike and I were first married, and opening it up again was surprisingly affirming. It reminded me that there was a time when I did plan meals. And cook them. And everybody ate them with no whining and no complaining and no meltdowns at all. (Because “everybody” was “me and Mike.” But still.)

Now, I have not wholly converted to a meal planning maven. But I have rediscovered the joy of cooking, and the relief of having an answer to The Supper Question before 5:30 rolls around. Continue reading


Filed under Taste and See

Tastes Like Vacation

When I was in LVC, we took turns grocery shopping. We usually went in pairs. My housemate Katie and I were the shoppers the week we traveled to our quarterly retreat. This meant: road trip! More importantly, this meant: road trip snacks!

Katie and I went nuts. In addition to the supplies for our road trip PB&J’s (Pro Tip: LVC is not where the money is), we splurged on snacks. I don’t remember everything, but I do remember the yogurt covered raisins. Our housemates were horrified by the grocery bill, and Katie and I were probably never allowed to be shopping partners again.

There’s something about a road trip, though, right? And there’s something about a vacation. As a child, my sister and I were allowed to choose one snack at gas station stops on our family road trips, and it seemed incredibly decadent and fabulous. “We’re on vacation” is a constant refrain on Lux family vacations. We say it as we eat donuts three times a day or as we go back for seconds on the ice cream. Continue reading

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