Stuff(ing?) Since Thanksgiving

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[The perfect complements to a Thanksgiving dinner are cashew brittle and Hallowine.  OK, we were off by one holiday regarding the wine.]

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[For the occasion, I contributed my first ever attempt at making artisan bread.   I’ll do better next time.]

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[Mostly the supervisor and Jami contributed to the feast.]

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[East Coast relatives submitted the above.  D.C. denizens Gretch and Mo decided that as a twosome they would just drive around the metro area to see that was available.  They ended up at a Bob Evans where they were able to get the classic Thanksgiving dinner, to include chili and French fries.  🙂  ]

Whatever happened to good, hard loaves of bread? Alexandria Echo Press – 11/07/2007

Editor’s [of the Echo] note: The following piece was submitted as a commentary but because of the subject matter we thought it would be a good fit to run in the Country section.

By Tom Obert, Alexandria, MN

Glorious bread . . . the staff of life. This fundamental of human existence was brought to mind again in the recent Jeffersonian article [printed in the October 24 Echo Press] about our high school’s German exchange students who lamented they couldn’t find good German bread – hard bread – in our community. I just want to tell those students – you are not alone!

What follows is not for the faint of heart. Children should probably leave the room. And always remember – this is just one person’s opinion and you are always free to disagree. But the number one premise of human gastronomical endeavors should be – good bread is a dangerous weapon if used as a projectile.

A good bread should have crust like tree bark. A good bread should thump like a ripe melon – it should sound hard and hollow. A good bread should be able to stand up to a chain saw without losing its shape. A good bread crust should threaten your dental work like peanut brittle – in both cases, the risk is worth it. If you slice good bread, it will not schmooosh into a lifeless piece of lefse.

There is an expression that goes back to biblical days called “breaking bread.” Although the expression generally means dining with friends, it reflects the idea that bread was made to be broken – that the breaking of bread should send crumbs flying in a mad dash for freedom. After breaking bread there should be a need for vacuuming – both of yourself and of your surrounding 10-foot radius. And then you should have to empty the bag. You can tell a good restaurant if its staff carries crumb tools – indicating they have a need to clean tables of residue from previous diners breaking bread. Unfortunately, you can’t break much of today’s bread – you can tear it, peel it, fold it, use it to plug leaks in your boat – but you can’t “break” it.

Before it was Weston Station, it was Sonny’s; before it was Sonny’s, it was Carl’s Fireside Steakhouse. Carl’s used to feature a poppy seed hard roll – when you broke one, crumbs would fly like snow inside a Christmas snow globe when you shook it. They were also the best dinner rolls I have ever had in my life. I haven’t found them anywhere since – but I still have delicious dreams about those rolls to this day.

I like good bread more than I like a good steak. I like good bread more than I like a hot fudge sundae (OK, that one’s close). I like good bread more than I like an afternoon nap (OK, that one’s really close). There is no better smell in the world than bread baking, or toasting. A good sandwich begins with good bread – if the bread cannot stand up to the sandwich contents, you will not have a pleasant dining experience. How many times have you been eating a sandwich, or hamburger, only to have the whole thing fall apart in a soggy mess before you can finish?

Most Alexandrians prefer soft bread – local food merchants would not stock it to the exclusion of just about everything else if that was not the case. All we ask – as a friendly gesture to our German students – is to throw us a hard loaf (though not too hard, please) occasionally.

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[The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the official beginning to the holiday season – it’s Christmas at Ft. Alexandria!  Hot cider, popcorn, cookies, reindeer, the high school carolers, and the lighting of the city Christmas decorations!]

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[It was cold that night, my friends.  Darn cold!  The super and I decided to amble apace back to SAWA, where we had parked the car, and we would see the lights on the way home.]

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[When we first walked in, I immediately ordered a hot glass of mead around which I first wrapped my frozen fingers.  Then we partook of salads, bread, Chef Paul’s salmon cake, a fine bottle of Don David malbec, and the musical stylings of Finestra.  🙂  ]

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[On the way home we captured the internationally-famous city Christmas lights.]

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[Saturday morning it was off to the high school for a four-team scrimmage of girls’ basketball teams.  Plus, it got me out of house decorating!  Anyhoo, the new school provides a venue that allows five games to be played at once (each school had their varsity, JV, and 9th-grade teams).  We in the stands had to look across our JV games to see the varsity at center court.  The JV looked good.  The varsity lost 8 seniors and will be a work in progress.  They invited Marshall, who were state runners’-up last year, and it looks like they’ll be contending again.]

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[While I was away scouting basketball, this was occurring at home.]

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[Theatre L’Homme Dieu presented it’s 2105 schedule Tuesday night at Interlachen.  Then I had to rush off to the girls’ hockey game against River Lakes.  Upon research after the game, we would have been favored in this home game based on performance against same opponents.  It didn’t work out that way.  The team seems to be in a hangover from their annual overnight to play Mound-Westonka and Orono on Thanksgiving weekend.  Lots of things were wrong here.  When I arrived, no other Super Fans were in sight.  So I stayed the whole game at ice level behind the goal.  After the 1st period, Super Fan Robo came down to join me – I didn’t see him, as he was standing up top, similarly not noticing any Super Fans sitting.  It was his first game of the year – oy!  (At game’s end, we did see Teddy and Jerry Hockey, who had been standing as they usually do.)  But we were down 5 – 0 early in the 2nd period – we were toast(?).  To the team’s credit, we pulled it together in the 3rd and started skating – amazingly, we eventually came out with a shots-on-goal advantage.  This, in spite of a recent trend of taking way too many penalties.  We hope this is just a mid-season lull to be fought through.]

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[This just in!  Summer Alexandrians and music fans, Ruth Ann and Randy Tronnes, are snowbirding in Naples, Florida, and got this shot of Patchouli at the Christmas Tree lighting at the Mercato.  He got a “hi” for us from Julie.  😉  ]

Love is not entirely a delirium, yet it has many points in common therewith.  ~  Thomas Carlyle  [Editor’s note:  Think about it.  How often do you run across a sentence containing “therewith”?]

Up next:  If I don’t get cracking on the Christmas letter, the supervisor is going to crack my butt!

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One Response to Stuff(ing?) Since Thanksgiving

  1. Gretchen says:

    Lovely, lovely. Your house is so warm and inviting (“homey”) for Thanksgiving and Christmas. All the hand-made ornaments on the tree — I remember them well. I also remember Ft. Alexandria and the holiday lights down Broadway. Good memories. And yes, the Bob Evan’s Thanksgiving meal was not all that bad. Don’t know if we’ll do it again but it worked this year. Gretchen

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