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FEATURE S February 2015 Volume 10, Issue 2


18 Mix it up

Crafting a collection of tunes for that special someone takes more planning than you might think.

14 V-Day for dummies

We’ll help you make sure you don’t screw it up this year.

22 Suzette’s Restaurant The sure-fire place for romance, fine dining.

About the Cover

This John Cross photo puts us in the mood for an issue full of love.

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 3




6 From the Associate Editor 8 This Day in History 9 The Gallery

Ashlie Satre

10 Beyond the Margin The economics of love 12 Day Trip Destinations Bock Fest, Fasching





29 Food, Drink & Dine 30 Food Pathstone’s bakery 32 Wine Chardonnays and Pinots 33 First Draught Chocolate beer 34 Happy Hour Tasty cocktails 36 What’s Cookin’? Meatballs to die for 40 Living fifty-five plus 60 Then and Now Mankato’s official origin 66 That’s Life An unlikely love story 68 Garden Chat Looking for something new 70 Your Style Classy-crafty? It’s possible. 72 Coming Attractions 73 Faces & Places 76 From This Valley From Kato to Late Show

Coming in March

70 4 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


SAY CHEESE! It’s our annual photo issue featuring the submitted photographs from our readers. Also: an essay by Terry Davis.

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february 2015 • VOLUME 10, ISSUE 2 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Nell Musolf Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Sarah Johnson Leigh Pomeroy Bert Mattson Ann Rosenquist Fee Bryce O. Stenzel Rebecca Fjelland Davis PHOTOGRAPHERS John Cross Pat Christman PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Ginny Bergerson MANAGER ADVERTISING Jen Wanderscheid Sales Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey


Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $35.40 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Robb Murray at 344-6386, or e-mail For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail

6 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Robb Murray

The season of love is upon us We’re here to help you not screw it up


hen I think of Valentine’s Day, I think of a lot of things. Love, candy hearts, big boxes of chocolates. Longstemmed roses. But mostly, I think back to that dreadful day in kindergarten when I stood there helpless with all my valentines in my hand and not a clue where they should be put. Mrs. Berning had lined the counter by the windows with brown paper bags, and each bag had the name of one of the kids in my class at Prosperity Heights Elementary School. And in my hand were all the valentines my mom had helped me make, each tucked into an envelope, and on those envelopes were the names of each kid in my class. “Go ahead, Robbie. Go on. Pass out your valentines, now,” she said. And so I tried. Slowly my feet moved my increasingly panicked 6-year-old body along the rows of bags, trying in vain to match up names. I couldn’t do it. Theresa Riepe, of course, and her irritatingly perfect pigtails bounced from bag to bag, easily dropping her perfect valentines into sacks like she

was a mail sorter on the second shift at the post office. I felt stupid. Ridiculous. Like I’d never be able to get this Valentine’s Day thing right. Eventually, unable I’m sure to bear watching my folly any longer, Mrs. Berning came over, reassured me that everything would be OK, and calmly showed me how this stuff worked. Dear readers, if you’ve ever failed miserably at Valentine’s Day, if you’ve ever lacked a clue as to what to do or buy for a lover, if you’ve been married for years and are all out of ideas — if you’re metaphorically standing in a kindergarten class with no idea how to hand out your cute little storebought valentine cards … Worry no more. We’ve got you covered. We’ve got a trio of Valentine’s Day-related stories, each of which should give you a road map to not screwing it up this year. M Robb Murray is associate editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at or 344-6386

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This Day


History —

By Jean Lundquist

Tuesday, February 13, 1912 The political pot has started to boil in North Mankato. It is rumored that the many friends of Emil Rhode have suggested that he become a candidate for county treasurer. Coming down to municipal affairs the friends of professor E. E. Ball have urged him to become a candidate for the presidency of the council, and Henry Robel Sr. for alderman…The campaign for the city election will start soon. Tuesday, February 16, 1926 HENRY ROBEL SR. KILLED BY “HIT AND RUN” DRIVER Death This Noon, Struck Last Eve Unsaid Autoist Seen to Swerve in the Street Police Making Search Prominent Community Worker Passes Away, Well Known in South Minnesota Henry Robel Sr., prominent North Mankatoan, sergeant at arms of the state legislature and one of the foremost and active civic workers in Nicollet county died at twelve P.M. today in St. Joseph hospital from injuries received last night when he was struck and hurled to the street by the wheels of a speeding Ford Roadster on Nicollet avenue about 7:30 o’clock last evening. The driver of the unknown car was a hit and run driver. He did not stop! Dr. G.R. Fugina, attending physician today, stated that Mr. Robel died as the result of shock due to concussion of the brain and fracture of the skull. “When I was called on the case, I went to the Robel home and found him in a dying condition,” stated the physician today. Thursday, February 2, 1961 PLAN 29.3 ACRES MORE AT MINNEOPA A 29.3 acre addition at Minneopa State Park at Mankato is being proposed by Mankato and North Mankato state legislators. Senator Val Imm of Mankato and representatives Roy Schultz and Donald Swenson of Mankato and Harold Anderson of North Mankato plan to have the acquisition of this land included in an omnibus state park bill. The additional land would be between the upper picnic grounds and the new highway 169. The additional land could be used for campsite parking since there are few parks in the state that have enough ground for this purpose, the state legislators said.

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Monday, February 8, 1932 100 MANKATO MEN EMPLOYED IN MANKATO ICE HARVEST Crews Worked Sunday to Take Advantage of Cold Weather; Ice 14 to 19 Inches Thick Approximately 100 men have found employment with three local ice companies who are “making hay while the sun shines.” All efforts are directed to harvest the ice crop while the cold endures. So important is the time element that full crews were engaged by each firm all day Sunday. According to reports of the dealers the ice is better than for several years past. It is said to be clear and solid ranging in depth from 14 to 19 inches. Starting last Monday the Mankato Ice Company of which Harry Miller is manager filled three large houses near Spring lake. A fleet of Lundin trucks today began hauling ice from the lake to the Poplar street house. Mr. Miller expects to start cutting in the Minnesota River Thursday. Farther up the river near the old Fowler and pay brick works Rast Watters is superintending the work of 35 men cutting ice for the People’s Ice and Fuel company. Mr. Watters said he expects to put up 16,000 tons this year or a thousand more than usual. Last year he said he had to buy 500 tons toward the close of the season. The water where his men are working is 30 feet deep. “When I started cutting 160 men were out here for work,” Declared the dealer. “I didn’t have to hire these men. They grabbed shovels and went to work. Many of them begged for jobs, and they aren’t cigarette fiends, they are hard-working men.”

The Gallery — Ashlie Satre | By Nell Musolf



Ashlie Satre says she’s just always loved creating art


hen she was growing up, Ashlie Satre’s mother recalled that her daughter was always drawing. And her father said that every night when he came home from work, there was another art project created by Ashlie covering the kitchen table. While neither of her parents or her older sister, Bridget, are artistic both Ashlie and her twin, Alesha, love anything creative. “Both Alesha and I like to draw, paint, knit, sew and crochet,” Satre reported. “My parents tell me that they don’t know where we got it from.” Another thing Satre remembered from her childhood in Bricelyn was watching painter Bob Ross on PBS along with any other show that featured paintings and how to create them. After high school, Satre moved to Mankato to attend Minnesota State University. A fine arts major, she was forced to stop going to school when it got too expensive. Satre found a job and has remained in Mankato for the time being. But even though she is working full-time, Satre is still letting her artistic side show. Last year she entered her first juried art show, the 22nd Prairie Lakes Regional Juried Art Exhibition, and was astounded — and pleased — to win first place for her drawing entitled, “Lawn Lion Lena.” Satre also entered a drawing of her hairless cat Gizmo in the Artscape show at The Grand in New Ulm. “All of my friends kept telling me to enter a drawing,” Satre said. “They would say things like, ‘oh my God, your art is so great’ but to tell you the truth, I never noticed.” Drawing has always come so naturally to Satre that for her, creating her precise, detailed charcoal drawings is equivalent to breathing; it simply happens. That is not to say that Satre doesn’t pour a great deal of work into her art. Her drawings take time, patience and skill. “I just put charcoal to the paper,” Satre said. “I guess that sometimes when things come easily to you, you take

Ashlie Satre says she and her sister likely got there artistic talent from the obvious source: their parents. it for granted that they come easily to everyone else too.” Satre’s first place drawing, “Lawn Lion Lena,” was of her sister’s cat and she drew it as a memorial after the cat died. Satre is currently working on three other commissioned pieces of other people’s pets. “There’s something about a drawing that to me is more personal than a photograph,” Satre observed. “I’m not sure why but it seems that way to me. Several people have told me that a drawing means more to them too. Maybe because it’s more personal.” Satre begins her drawings with a photograph and takes it from there. “I do a print-out of the photograph and then put a grid over it and then I transfer what is in each grid onto paper with charcoal,” Satre said, “just like we all learned in elementary school art class.” Well, maybe but it’s doubtful that the majority of people are as adept as Satre at making what they transfer onto the grid as lifelike as her pet drawings. Satre said that she always starts with the eyes because if the eyes aren’t right, then the entire drawing isn’t right. She has been asked to draw people too but so far has hesitated. “I’m not totally comfortable with drawing people yet. There are so many features and they have to be exactly right or the picture won’t work,” Satre said. M MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 9

10 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE




By Joe Spear

: e v o LI

It’s good for the economy

t’s been said that consumers drive 70 percent of the American economy. But it’s often overlooked how much falling in love drives that consumerism. So the Federal Reserve, Wall Street stock brokers and main street merchants have a vested interest in making sure a good number of us find a mate, for at least a few years, when we maximize our durable goods purchases to “set up housekeeping.” Sure, Valentine’s Day drives a lot of business to flower shops and chocolatiers, but the effect is mostly temporary. The relationship borne of a good Valentine’s Day can be much more important to the GDP. While we have not made household formation or even Valentine’s Day a national economic policy to be encouraged, we probably should. The minute people choose more often than not to remain a single householder could be the beginning of the end for a healthy chunk of our consumer economy. Furnished apartments just don’t drive an economy like one where two people need to furnish a four bedroom, three-bath split level home in the suburbs. While we don’t make getting married an economic policy, we sure encourage it through tax breaks. The tax break that costs the treasury the most money is one that goes mostly to those who live together in one form or another: the mortgage interest deduction. But there have been risks to losing this household formation phenomenon over the years. The economy changed from blue collar to white collar, bringing more hours at work, and less time for cultivating a relationship. More and more people stayed single and the trend continues today. The private sector, of course, realizes the economic risk in this. So, they’ve come up with products to help people meet each other outside the constraints of the work world: It’s called online dating. It’s fast and efficient. No messing around with the long process of getting to know a person through several lunch or dinner dates. You just fill out your profile and bang, you have a handful of matches you can start considering. In the old days, say 1980 or so, young people still went to bars with their friends to meet people. A lot of people I know met their mate in college, and there was a nifty social media tool called the “personals,” printed in the classified section of the college newspaper of which I was editor. We gave students a deal on our Valentine’s Day personals. We filled two pages easily. Call it the early version of online dating. You maybe ran into a potential love interest in the cafeteria or at the Gage

Hall kegger, but you just didn’t know how to take the next step. For the love lost, we offered the Valentine’s Day personals. Here’s one from February, 1982: “To the good looking girl that was in my Mon. night life-saving class fall quarter, who works on the second floor of the library: would love to go out with you sometime. Please respond in Tuesday’s personals. (From the guy with the sprained ankle.)” Hard to say if those worked, but some young people sure gave it a try. Of course online dating sites have picked up the cause to get people together and keep our economy rolling. The Kansas City Star reports a study from the University of Kansas that shows a whopping 35 percent of people who got married between 2005 and 2012 met online, through a dating site or social media. Those folks appear as happy or a “bit happier” than people who met through work, in college or grew up together, according to Jeffrey A. Hall, a professor at the University of Kansas. One of the fastest growing sites appears to be, which has a motto of “City folks just don’t get it.” The site has about 1.5 million members, a growth of 70 to 80 percent in the last year or so, according to President Jerry Miller. As a businessman who dealt with people in small towns and rural areas, he saw a real need for helping farmers and other people who were geographically isolated find someone. “When you talk to hundreds of people that are lonely in rural areas, it moves you,” he told Indeed, success stories can be found on the organization’s website that speak to that rural loneliness. There are plenty of other niche dating sites, including sites for vegans, Star Trek fans, gluten-free sites, and one site that claims it bans ugly people and focuses only on the physical beauty of its participants. Family and relationship therapist Brian Heydon told the Kansas City Star that it’s not always the best strategy to find someone exactly like yourself. Opposites can still attract. “On millions of subconscious levels, you’re also looking at that person and realizing, ‘You’ve got something I need.’ That’s when we can really reach toward one another,” he told the Star. So these super efficient ways to get people to form households might be good for the economy, but at least a few experts say they may not be right for the romantic soul. M Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6382 or MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 11

Day Trip Destinations: New Ulm

| By Leticia Gonzales

A New Ulm double whammy! M

Schell’s Bock Fest and the city’s Fasching offer a busy day of beer tasting

ost Minnesotans can relate to how those last months of winter don’t seem to want to let go. Instead of letting the drab weather bring them down, Schell’s Brewery in the community of New Ulm started a yearly tradition some 28 years ago by celebrating with a German festival called Bock Fest. “It actually started off in the bottle house of the brewery,” said Kyle Marti, who is in marketing at August Schell Brewing Company. “It was grill your own brat, and beer was all you can drink.” Since then, the event has grown from an all indoor event with a crowd of about 75, to a full-blown festival attracting as many as 7,000 spectators. “It is just a good event for people to get out in the winter time when everyone is miserable,” said Marti. Despite its growth, Bock Fest still features the simplicity it started off with, said Marti. The basic foundation of the festival includes live music, beer and people. Schell’s offers up its seasonal Bock beer, which is only 12 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

available January to February. The malt beer gets an added sweetness to it once it gets the infamous Bock Fest Beer Poke around the campfire. The swirling of the hot metal rod is used to “caramelize the beer” and enhance the sweet flavors within. With a big trailer set up in the parking lot, and a DJ jamming anything from polka music to Pink Floyd for a night of dancing down by the river, Bock Fest-goers are able to eat, drink and be merry among bon fires in a relaxed atmosphere. “You just wander around the grounds and hang out,” Marti said. There is also no shortage of fur, helmets with horns, and bottle-cap studded attire. You will of course run into a handful of those who brave the cold sans shirt, but its best to come prepared with snow pants and full winter gear. Another part of the Bock Fest tradition is the Seven Bocks of Winter Bock Hunt, where seven wood cut outs of bocks (a goat figure) are hidden for people to find in nearby Flandrau State Park “The big folklore is that if all seven bocks are found, winter

If you go


Saturday, Feb. 14

Turner Hall, 101 S. State, New Ulm

11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Parade of Costumes at 6 p.m., Dance at 9 p.m.


$5 in advance, $7 at the door For more information, call (507) 354-8850 or 1-888-463-9856

is going to come to an early end,” said Marti. Unfortunately it has been a while since all seven have been located, which Marti jokingly attributes to Minnesota’s recent streak of harsh winters. Bock Fest isn’t the only German party in town that weekend. The Fasching (“fah-shing”) event, which is also known as a German Mardi Gras, is always held the same day as Bock Fest in New Ulm. While it’s a separate event, many people frequent both gatherings. Susan, who wanted to keep her last name anonymous as part of the fun about being in the masking group “Narren” of New Ulm, plans to perform at both celebrations. “Narren is a German word for fools or merry makers,” said Susan. “It’s actually a tradition that takes place in Fasching season.” The season kicks off Nov. 11 and runs through Fat Tuesday. The Narren group, which celebrated 25 years together this past year, celebrates Fasching by hanging rags around the city streets — a tradition that stems from Germany.

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“People didn’t have a lot of money, so they cut up their clothes and decorated their streets,” she said. “We hang them from the lamp posts and hang garland down by the Chamber of Commerce.” When the Narren visit Bock Fest, they will be adorned in their colorfully decorated masks. Susan’s character, Bucky Bock the goat, is one of 30 characters in the Narren’s community, which includes a mayor, a flower lady, a cook, a seamstress, maid, three cats and a cow, to name a few. “They have wonderful music,” said Susan of the Bock Fest, which she said The Narren will take full of advantage of by doing several dances such as the snake and chicken dances. “It’s kind of sweeping away winter,” she added. “This is a chance to get outside among people and have fun and make the winter more bearable. If we can’t make it go away, at least we can make it more fun.” M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 13

s ’ e n i t Valen Day for

s e i m Dum

Story by Nell Musolf | Photos by John Cross


hat is it about the 14 of February that sends the most sensible of people into a tailspin? Could it be the advertisements for chocolates, perfume and diamonds that have been accosting us since Jan. 2? Or the notion that we, too, can have the perfect, Hallmark, Gilt-edged Valentine’s Day that we are deep-down positive we’re absolutely entitled to? Or could it simply be that we think it’s a lot easier to have an ideal Valentine’s Day than it really is? Well, guess what? It isn’t. People have been celebrating Valentine’s Day since the Middle Ages. Billions of Valentine’s Day cards are still sent via snail mail and over the years Feb. 14 has become known as the most romantic holiday of the year. But how does one make it romantic — or keep it romantic after 10 or 20 or 30 years of marriage? As with all things, creating a Valentine’s Day to remember requires some planning, a little prep work and a whole lot of thoughtfulness. 14 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Think before you shop. Think carefully. Read on as one once eager husband ruefully recalls a gift that he thought would be just the ticket one Valentine’s Day. “Several years ago I gave my wife a full body pink Pajamagram outfit including her name embroidered on the front — remember Carter’s pajamas for kids? Needless to say it did not go over well for me,” said the the Mankato husband who wisely opted for anonymity. Why was this anonymous husband’s present a flop instead of a hit? Possibly because he wasn’t reading his wife’s cues too well when it came to what kind of present would make her happy instead of horrified. For insight we turned to Daniel Moen, assistant professor in the Family and Consumer Science department at Minnesota State University and an expert in relationships. Moen said that learning what a partner might like as a gift is a great way to build intimacy between partners. “When one person is interested in the other person’s likes, this is called a ‘turning towards’ behavior,” Moen said. “Many couples are not assertive in communicating their needs and thus partners often fail to meet the mark.” Moen added that an excellent way to make a romantic relationship stronger is to work on it every day. “Couples who do not put emotional deposits into their relationship on a daily basis are looking for a big ‘pay day’ on Valentine’s Day. This is not sustainable, just as if you were to be paid by your job on only a handful of days of the year.” Moen also suggested that couples talk openly about how they’d like their Valentine’s Day to look and not be afraid to go outside the box when it comes to celebrating the big day. “In my opinion, one can’t go wrong with being attentive to their partner and by being a good listener. You can also show that you really care by getting or doing something you know they will truly love,” Moen said. For some couples that might be something material and for others it could be spending quality time together. Another anonymous source (what is it about Valentine’s Day that makes all sources suddenly want to be anonymous?) said: “What I would

consider a less than thoughtful gift would be ‘sexy’ undergarments. I also find the tag of ‘sexy’ to be inappropriate from the perspective that there certainly is not nearly enough material in so-called sexy lingerie to make any part of my womanly body attractive, much less full-on sexy, to even the smallest degree. A lovely gift to me would be for my Valentine to cook me dinner, do the dishes, and then rub my feet.” All right. You’ve done your homework and now you have a pretty good idea of what will make your honey jump up and down with joy when he or she opens your gift. Next question: where are you going to go shopping? How about something pretty? Patty Conlin owns the Stones Throw Art Gallery, 420 N. Minnesota, St. Peter. She has several suggestions for finding that ideal Valentine’s Day gift for people who have a lot of money to spend and for those who are on a somewhat stricter budget. Conlin said, “It is wonderfully romantic to buy original art for your sweetie. Most people don’t realize how inexpensive local art is. For example, a beautiful photo print or watercolor gicleé can start for as low as $35. Other great options are a pair of hand-thrown ceramic mugs or a colorful blown glass vase. For those who think jewelry is the only way to go, a beautiful heart shaped pink quartz pendent on a silver or gold filled chain can cost as little as $50.” Conlin added that she believes a truly good Valentine combines beauty and sentiment and should also be something your special person would never buy for his or herself but would love to have. In Conlin’s opinion, a less than spectacular gift is one that has no message of romance or love and that has been purchased at the last minute with very little thought about it. “And every Valentine’s Day gift should be delivered with a handmade card,” Conlin added. About those cards… Of course, not everyone wants to make their own cards (although you’ll save a little money if they do go the homemade route). If you’re a klutz with scissors and paper lace, it’s time to head to the closest retailer and pick out exactly the right card that will tell your sweetheart how much he or she means to you. Valentine’s Day cards can be found anywhere from grocery to liquor stores to gas stations and range from sweetly sentimental all the way to downright racy. So how do you decide which one to pick? Again, think about who you are getting a card for. Your mom might love getting a card featuring cavorting kittens while your girlfriend might think they (and you since you picked it out) are pathetic. Also, humorous cards can be hit or miss so choose with care. Oh, and generally speaking, something tasteful is usually preferable over anyone naked. Setting the stage All right. It’s almost the big night. The present is bought, the card is signed, and you are all set to sweep your special sweetie off his or her feet. Now just where do you plan on having your romantic evening? Obviously, the local fast food joint is not known for a lovey-dovey ambiance so that leaves either a more upscale restaurant or your very own dining room. If your loved one’s idea of heaven is having someone else cook, wait on them and then clean everything up, perhaps going out to dinner will be your best MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 15

bet. But if you want to be the one who makes a romantic dinner, serve your sweetheart and then do the dishes, then by all means, go for it. This is especially true if your significant other is the one who makes the meals and cleans up the kitchen 99 percent of the time. But if you both love eating out, choose your Valentine’s Day eating establishment with care. Dining at a spot you both enjoy will guarantee a pleasant experience early in the evening — and hopefully later in the evening too. The Mankato area has a wide enough range of restaurants to please almost any diner but be sure to make reservations early to ensure that you get a table. Finally, say it with flowers but skip the booze and ditch the cell phone All right. It’s Feb. 14 and you have not followed any of the above advice. You haven’t paid attention to hints dropped by your darling, you forgot to pick up a heartshaped box of chocolates at the drugstore when you got the kids’ cold medicine and the only card left on the stand was one featuring a creepy looking guy dressed like Cupid. Fear not. You

16 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

haven’t blown things entirely. Instead of avoiding any potential fallout and/or cold shoulders by taking the chicken’s way out and simply not going home, there’s always the old standby: a lovely bouquet of roses or carnations or any other flower that looks pretty, smells good and says ‘I love you.’ Present it to your sweetheart with a heartfelt kiss and you’re golden. Jeanie Hinton, owner of Flowers by Jeanie, 626 S. 2 St., said that roses and tulips are the top picks of most Valentine’s Day shoppers. In the past, single roses have cost $5 and a dozen roses have ranged from $55 to $65. Two final words of wisdom from Professor Moen: if you have made reservations and you are going out on a date on Valentine’s Day, ply your sweetheart with coffee instead of alcohol and ignore incoming texts. “Studies have shown that dates are more interactive and memorable when a caffeinated beverage is consumed,” Moen said. “And leave your cell phones off!”


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 17


e v o l

of your

Making a mix tape for your valentine is risky business. There’s definitely a right – and wrong – way to do it Story by Drew Lyon Photo by Pat Christman

“Love is all there is,” Bob Dylan once sang. “It makes the world go ‘round/love and only love/it can’t be denied.”


ell put, Bobby. Except this lyric was culled from “I Threw It All Away,” his weepy country tale of lost love. It’s one of the saddest songs in his canon, recorded when he was only 27. Ah, the paradox of love. Or is it the pompatus of love? I forget. Maybe it’s both. And Dylan, his marriage in tatters, lamented a few years later in a brutal buried treasure called “Dirge”: “I hate myself for loving you/and the weakness that it showed.” I own about 25,000 songs on my iPod. At least 75 percent dwell on or celebrate the nuances of romantic relationships — the good, bad and the ugly. Sometimes all in the same song. Many are sappy (“You Are So Beautiful”), others playful (“Let’s Do It {Let’s Fall in Love})”, filled with longing (“Baby, Please

18 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Don’t Go”) and some are just scornful (“Idiot Wind”). That’s amore, in all its messy complexities. Protest songs have never done it for me; and though I enjoy my fair share of raucous party songs, my musical wheelhouse is in that groove where a singer is fixated on their love jones. Most other lyrics read like nursery rhymes or science fiction to me. And it’s even better when a special friend sends you those love songs, like they were written just for the two of you. I’ve made love mix tapes (OK, they were on CDs but let’s just call them tapes for clarity’s sake) for prospective girlfriends, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends. My mom gets one in the mail every Mother’s Day. I’ve also been on the receiving end, and it’s a warm feeling, when someone takes the time to pick out their favorite music especially for you. But some of us take it too far. I once curated a mix for an ex-girlfriend after I broke up with her and she married someone else several months later. The day after I learned she was married, I left a mix on her doorstep. I felt like I was getting the last word in (finally!) with farewell songs of woe, self-pity, pride and betrayal — The Louvin Brothers’ “My Baby’s Gone,” John Lee Hooker’s “My Cryin’ Days Are Over,” Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Remember Me,” and William Bell’s “You Don’t Miss Your Water.” Don’t do that. Ever. It’s pure misery. It was a monumental mix though, one of my best ever. I put everything I had into that one, dared the poor bride to listen and not shed a tear. Shoot, I wish I’d made a copy for myself. The things we do for love, huh? Save your mixes for your crushes, your sweetheart, not for what they call in the blues music lexicon ‘old-time used to be’s.’ I’m in my early 30s, and I wonder if I know any more about the love racket than I did a decade ago. But I keep pressing on, and I’m nothing if not well-versed in love songs. I’ve done the field research. And if I can borrow one more turn of phrase from Mr. Dylan: “That’s good enough for now.” So, take a tip or five this Valentine’s Day from someone who’s tried to win someone’s heart through another person’s words and music. It might work sometimes. 1. Be bold. Have fun. It’s only rock and roll, but we like it, right? Even if this is someone you’ve just met, don’t be afraid to pick a song that declares undying devotion. After all, you’re not the one saying it. Recommendations: Eddie Floyd, “Girl, I Love You”; Willie Nelson, “I’ve Loved You All Over the World”; Townes Van Zandt: “Brand New Companion”; Hank Williams, “Baby, We’re Really In Love.” And ... literally thousands of other recorded songs. This is no riddle I’m uncovering. Most songs, no matter the idiom or language, circle back to a

common theme: love. There’s a brilliant scene from one of the final episodes from “The Sopranos.” Tony Soprano’s kid is dumped by his fiance and he’s despondent. Tony walks into his son’s room, sits on his bed and consoles him. Listen, Tony says, this pain you’re feeling, everyone’s been there. There’s a billion dollar industry devoted to it, Tony tells him. Prozac, you mean? his kid asks. No, Tony says, shaking his head. The music business. 2. Keep it short. I try to cram as many 2-3 minute tunes into an 80-minute disc as possible, for maximum effect. Quantity can outweigh quality. If the object of your affection doesn’t care for a particular track, there are 20-something more songs they can pick from. That’s why they made the ‘skip’ button. Avoid lengthy instrumental excursions; the words are paramount. There are notable exceptions: Dave Brubeck Quartet,”Take Five”; John Coltrane and Duke Ellington, “In a Sentimental Mood”; The Allman Brothers Band, “Blue Sky”. 3. Control the message. Be careful with the lyrical themes in these songs. You don’t want your darlin’ wondering why on earth you’d put that song on a Valentine’s mix. I once selected a lovely late-period Neil Young ballad, “Falling Off the Face Of The Earth” for an anniversary mix. And she was put off by the lyric, “I must apologize/for the trouble times.” Why would you put that song on there? She asked. I just apologized for our last fight! I tried in vain to explain that, baby, if you listened to every other line in the song, you’d understand Neil’s telling his wife he’ll love her come rain or come shine. Which made me think Billie Holiday’s version of “Come Rain or Come Shine” would’ve been a better choice. Lesson learned. Oh, and Neil Young recently divorced his wife of 36 years. There you go. 4. Double entendres are fun. Blues and jazz smut songs from the 1920s and ‘30s are perfect for this. You know what they’re singing about — makin’ whoppee! — but they can’t come right out and say it explicitly. They cloak their erotic desires in thinly-veiled metaphors, and the results are hilarious, absurd, clever and a little naughty. Recommendations: Bo Carter, “Banana in Your Fruit Basket,” Lucille Bogan, “Shave ‘Em Dry”; Sippie Wallace, “I’m a Mighty Tight Woman.” 5. Know your audience. Even a ballad fool such as I must step back and ponder OK, smart guy, look outside your tastes for one second. What’s she going to like? This is a delicate balance and can be difficult to navigate. I trust my instincts, throw in something I know the receiver will like in the beginning, middle and end of the mix. You keep their interest that way. Venture close to the classics — I’ve found you’ll never go wrong with soul classics from cats like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Sam Cooke, etc. In the end, it’s best to heed the words of Merle Haggard, author of one of the greatest love songs of all-time (“Today I Started Loving You Again”) ... “Sometimes, a song is just a song.”

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 19

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Suzette’s Restaurant can be easy to miss, but if you haven’t tried it yet, put it on your list.

Suzette’s Restaurant won’t let you down Story by Robb Murray | Photos by Pat Christman


aybe you’ve driven by on your way to the Twin Cities, glanced out your window to the right and saw it, sitting there all unassuming and truck-stop like. “How does that place stay open?” you may have wondered to yourself. “Is that place even any good?” Well, I’m gonna tell you all about that in a minute but first what you need to do is put this Mankato Magazine down and run over to the phone and call Suzette’s Restaurant and see if they’ve got any room left for Valentine’s Day reservations. Go ahead. I’ll wait … Suzette’s, by the way, isn’t exactly a secret anymore. It’s been sitting on the highway for more than 25 years, and just 22 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

about everyone who enters the place leaves with the same thought: “Oh my god … that was so good.” Still, there are a good number of people who have merely driven by. Consider this a nudge of encouragement to take the next step, book a table, experience what you’ve maybe only heard about … Hope you get lucky So … how’d that phone call go? In all likelihood, when you called Suzette’s Restaurant and tried to book reservations for Valentine’s Day, you were told they were booked, and that the wait for a table could be up to

Banrith Yong escaped the Killing Fields of Cambodia and went on to become a gourmet chef. He studied culinary arts in Europe and today is the owner of Suzette’s Restaurant, which was once voted the best French cuisine in the Twin Cities. two hours. If that’s the case, you might want to consider waiting the two hours. The menu at Suzette’s is European, because that’s how Chef Banrith Yong was trained. You’ll find chicken Marsala, Chateaubriand, Petite Filet with Shrimp, seafood manicotti and, of course, special dishes that aren’t on the menu, such as lamb chops. Suzette’s offers fresh fish every weekend, fish that Yong hand selects from his seafood distributor, American Fish and Seafood Company. “Deciding what to serve depends on what’s fresh,” Yong said. Other ingredients are purchased fresh daily. When possible, he buys from area farmer’s markets. His training took place in Europe, where he completed a four-year program in three years, after which he worked in a handful of restaurants, including the Four Seasons in Switzerland. But before that culinary education, Yong got a life education few in these parts can relate to. He came from a well-to-do family in Cambodia. But in 1975, when despot Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge overthrew the government, many families who were affluent or who worked for the government were murdered. That’s what happened to Yong’s family. Both his mother and father were killed as well as five siblings. He escaped the Khmer Rouge’s work camps and made his way to a refugee camp in Thailand, which is where he first met up with representative from the American Refugee Committee, including one who was from Minnesota. Eventually he left that camp and joined his brother who was attending a university in Switzerland. And that’s where he

started his culinary training. He moved to the United States where he worked at the famous Whitney Hotel, where his culinary skills impressed many. Then, on the advice of that Minnesota connection he made in Thailand, he moved to Minnesota and sought a place to start his own restaurant. One day, on a drive between the Twin Cities and Mankato, he spotted a little place for sale in Jordan that looked like it might be a good candidate for a restaurant. Before long, the family purchased the building and opened Suzette’s. A night at Suzette … To make sure Mankato Magazine didn’t lead readers astray, the author decided to spend an evening sampling food and tasting wine – we’re constantly striving to give our readers the best, most authentic advice when it comes to fine dining. The special that night was lamb chops. Having never tried a lamb chop in his life, the author for some reason decided this night was a good one for taking risks. He was not disappointed. Lamb chops, he learned later, are a delicate dish, and one that, in the wrong hands, can go very poorly. These chops, I can assure you, were not in the wrong hands. Perfectly spiced and cooked, the author wondered how he’d lived for so long without having such exquisite cuisine. And the wine … oh boy. Yong keeps what might be one of the most impressive wine collections around, and the Cabernet that came to the table was about as good a glass as he’s ever had. “My selection is mostly from France,” he said. “There’s some American, Italian and California, too.” The side dish – garlic mashed potatoes – was outstanding. MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 23

Others in attendance at the author’s table reported similarly mind-blowing experiences with cranberry pork, assorted vegetables topped with mushroom cream sauce and pasta, and marin grivois. For dessert, Yong threw in a complementary fruit Napoleon. Word of mouth Yong says most of the people who come into his restaurant do so because someone told them about their experience there. That, he says, makes him feel good about the dining experience he offers. “It’s not easy to run a restaurant like this,” he said. “I put my heart and my soul into the restaurant.” He fields calls routinely from around the region, he said, and occasionally gets calls from outside the region, such as recent ones from Louisiana and Germany. As for Valentine’s Day, Yong says it’s by far his busiest night of the year. “If you don’t have reservation, it’s a guaranteed one or two hour wait,” he said. “It’s packed. We’ll serve 150-160 people from 4-9 p.m.” M

24 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Lamb chops (top and right) aren’t on the menu, but when they are offered as the special of the day, they’re worth the gamble. Bottom Left: Cranberry pork is sweet and savory. Bottom right: Yong keeps an extensive collection of dine wine on hand.


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 25

y a s s


Rebecca Davis is the author of “Chasing AllieCat,” and “Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged.”



By Rebecca Fjelland Davis | Photos by John Cross

am wearing my mother’s hands. I see them in South Central College, Room E-104, my Creative Writing class, with my little friend Elmo. Elmo is a machine who can project any image from my desk onto the classroom screen, like the opaque projectors of my youth, only Elmo magnifies size and color. I put a copy of Langston Hughes’ story “Salvation” on my desk, and along with the words, Elmo shoots my hands onto the screen, like six-foot trees with knobby boughs, knuckles like branches big enough to support a tire swing. My mother’s hands. Bigger than life and back from her grave. Gangly hands are agile hands. All of us in this Norwegian line of women who have passed hands from mother to daughter like recipes, a long rope of passage from Norway across the Atlantic to the black soil of Iowa, have used these hands, clean or soiled, through the generations, to caress babies and husbands, milk 26 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

cows, pick eggs and tomatoes, stroke the broken heart of a teenage daughter, remove tiny splinters, knead bread, roll out lefse, play piano. The lineage of solid, gardening, praying, proper Norwegian hands. Each has taken a turn at the end of my arms. These Norwegian Lutheran Minnesota hands—have grabbed hold, knobby knuckles and all, with considerable strength to survive. At the Twin Cities Marathon Fitness Fair one year, I stopped at a booth to test my “grip strength.” The fitness specialist, one of those kids who fancied himself brilliant until he flunked organic chemistry for the third time, and finally had to change his major from pre-med to exercise science, shone me a smile and handed me a turquoise rubber baseball. “Squeeze,” he said. “As hard and fast as you can.” I breathed in, I breathed out. And I squeezed. He blinked, looked at his numbers. “Something’s not right here,” he said. “Try again.” I squeezed.

More blinking. He got up, scratched his head, adjusted his dials. “Sorry. Once more.” I squeezed. The air came out of him as hard as I squeezed the ball. Not as fast, but as hard. He scratched again, and printed my results. “You have,” he said, “according to this test, the grip strength of a six-foot man.” I smiled and flexed my fingers. I needed that grip for removing a wedding ring, no, for removing two, for playing baseball and basketball, racing bikes, lifting weights, wrangling the leashes of 279 pounds of dogs at a time, for changing bike tires, and for tying on running shoes, to cover thousands of miles year after year. Without my unfortunate knuckles, my hands would simply be long, a model’s hands, perhaps, before 40 more years of wrinkles and wear moved in to stay. But models wear fingernail polish, and nail polish looks foolish at the end of these fingers, turns them into a drag queen’s hands. Every October, for 10 years, I painted my nails. Black. I painted my hands and face white, donned a thrift store wedding dress. I became a dead bride. My hands in white makeup lent themselves well to being dead. I clambered aboard a hayrack at Meadowbrook Stables Halloween Haunted Hayrides and regaled my rack full of riders with tales of horror. “Welcome to Meadowbrook Stables. I’m delighted you’ve chosen to join us tonight. Let’s hope you come out alive.” My job was to tell tales and to distract them at the very moment when I knew Jason lurked behind the next tree, masked, ready to pounce on them with his chainsaw roaring. Or when the six-foot spider was about to fall on the wagon. Best wagons screamed the loudest. One night, a man in the front row, the one sliding off his bale because he was downing his eleventh can of Schells, grabbed my hand and said, “You’re in drag, aren’t you?” “Whatever do you mean?” I cried, in my affected, Gothic Southern Belle in-character voice, withdrawing my hand like a lady. “How dare you insinuate—” “Look at your hands! You’ve got a man’s hands! You’re in drag!” I could have flashed him, I could have stuck out my chest, I could have punched him cold with my powerful skeletal fist; instead I rose to terrible tattered bridal height and yelled, “Sit down and shut up. And I am glad you’re here because I like fresh meat on my rack!” Another year, a world away from a haunted forest, at a teacher’s conference in St. Cloud, a woman in a peasant skirt and a few pounds of crystals around her neck took my hand in her own, in the hallway, out of the blue. “Oh,” she said as if pronouncing a spiritual revelation, “You’re a potter, aren’t you?” “A Harry Potter?” I asked her. “No, a potter,” she said. “You have the hands of a potter.” “A potter,” I said. “I’m not.” I walked away, flexing my joints, checking my fingers for traces of clay. Maybe my hands had missed their calling. When I was 12, my grandmother stroked my hands as we rode in the backseat to my aunt’s house, the smallest two in the car, behind my mother and father in our Ford Fairlane.

“I remember, she said, “when my hands were as smooth as yours. Now look.” She stretched her wrinkled hand beside mine, the knuckles bulging and arthritic, the skin worn and shiny, wrinkled and dry. “Oh, Grandma,” I said and ran my fingers over her knuckles. “Your hands are full of work. I love your hands.” “Oh,” she said, “but not pretty any more. They used to look like yours.” And now, my hands are more my grandmother’s than my own. Over 10 years ago, I stood at the side of my own mother’s coffin, absorbing every detail for the last time. Odd, isn’t it, the way we must gather ourselves to touch the dead, even our own mothers. The ones that fed us, calmed us, held us, read to us, and all those decades ago. I tried to redo her hair, those windrows of waves and the side combs from the 1940s that Mom had worn for her last sixty years. I couldn’t make her waves smooth, but I did a better job than the undertaker did. I covered her hand with my own. I felt her knuckles under mine, gave her hand one last squeeze. The undertaker, a woman in a plain brown suit, sidled up beside me. “I have her hands,” I whispered. “Let’s see,” the undertaker said, lifting my hand, running a thumb over my knuckles. “Yes, you do. You certainly do.” She looked at both sets, the cold one, the set she knew well, had, just that morning, formed like clay into position for the viewing, and mine, alive, nimble, and able. She nodded, “Funny, isn’t it, the things of theirs they leave behind?” Now my mother is here with me, with Elmo, in this classroom. This mother of mine, the first teacher I knew, the woman whose love would have sacrificed anything for me, the woman who was herself most alive in an elementary school, in front of a classroom of first graders. On the desk, my own boney fingers point to the Langston Hughes’ line, “Old men with work-knarled hands.” But the fingers underscoring the words, the fingers that reach, tree-like across the screen, these hands, they are my mother’s. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 27




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southern mn style

here’s just something about romance that makes February in general – and Feb. 14 specifically – a great time to get creative, risky and daring. I’m talking of course about food, wine and beer. (What did you think I was talking about?) Luckily, this month’s issue of Food, Drink and Dine is full of great ideas – romantic and otherwise – for making the most out of your February. If chocolate is your thing, then you’re going to want to read Bert Mattson’s column. In addition to dropping references to Punxsatawney Phil and “My Funny Valentine,” Bert introduces us to a chocolate porter from a Colorado brewery. (Instead of showing up with a box of chocolates, fellas, how do you think she’d go for a six-pack of chocolateflavored brew?) After last month’s wine column, in which he encouraged us all to go big with our red wines, Leigh Pomeroy is getting a little green on us. This month he extols the virtues of Chardonnays, and drops this line when talking about pinot noir: “… a great pinot can wrap your tongue like liquid velvet and last in your mouth like a favorite memory stays in your mind.” (I stopped him there. This is a family magazine, you guys.) And food writer Sarah Johnson takes us to Pathstone Living in Mankato, a place that might not come immediately to mind when you’re looking for great desserts ... but perhaps it should. It’s February, folks. It’s cold and we’re still months away from meaningful relief. Do yourself a favor and take the advice or our experts this Valentine’s Day. Or any day, really. And, of course, ENJOY!

food, drink & dine

Of chocolate beers, Chardonnay wines and bakery finds


By Sarah Johnson

southern mn style

Unexpected delights W

Put Pathstone Living on your list of places to try

hen you think of decadent Valentine’s desserts, p.m. and weekends from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. hot-off-the-grill sandwiches, homemade pastries Breakfasts feature hot sandwiches, pastries, yogurt, and a cozy, comfy atmostphere, you think of … granola, fruit, coffee and cappuccino. nursing homes? The lunch menu is a diverse array of hot and cold Maybe not everywhere, but here in Mankato, people sandwiches, paninis, wraps and salads, including the are discovering a neat little treasure of a café and Hello Bob Sandwich with mesquite turkey breast, bacon, catering business at Ecumen Pathstone Living (formerly guacamole, tomato and sunflower cream cheese on a the Mankato Lutheran Home) adjacent to Sibley Park. ciabatta bun. And the homestyle Pot Roast Sandwich Not only is Pathstone a with provolone and au jus on a healthcare campus comprising toasted hoagie bun. And their skilled nursing care, shortUltimate Grilled Cheese with term rehabilitation, assisted mozzarella, Havarti, tomato, living, memory care, adult day basil and honey on grilled programs and home health sourdough. And the Caprese care, but the food at the openPanini, with fresh mozzarella, to-the-public Pathstone Café tomato, olive oil and pesto. draws folks from the And the Sundried Tomato Feta community at large, while Salad with pine nuts and red local businesses and families onion … rely on Pathstone Catering for While you are making the memorable luncheons, difficult decision of what meetings and events. sandwich to order, you may The food and the coffee also want to try one of their have got to be hot, tasty and daily hot soup varieties reasonably priced in this town guaranteed to take the chill off to attract the “guys table” — your bones. Or maybe you’ll go every decent café has ‘em — for one of the daily specials, and Pathstone’s got its share another hallmark of a good of regulars, according to café. Executive Director Jennifer “The Hello Bob is my Pfeffer and Café and Catering favorite,” said Hoffman. “The Coordinator Rose Hoffman, ciabatta bun and the different who sat down with Mankato items all mix together really Magazine recently to “dish” nicely. That combination works about their dishes. really well.” She added the But for those who are sunflower cream cheese inside looking for some luxury in adds a salty crunch that takes their lives — perhaps sweet the sandwich over the top. treats for special somebodies The ambiance is relaxed and Rose Hoffman shows off some of the wares available at the on Valentine’s day — they friendly; family members sit Pathstone Living bakery and restaurant. need search no farther than chatting and smiling with the selection of baked bars residents as they finish the available: turtle bars, carrot cake bars, pumpkin bars, crumbs of their meals and reach for another cup of cheesecake brownies and lemon bars, to name a few. You coffee. People are catching up on news, exchanging gifts can order bars of your choice by the dozen — minimum and stories and photos, reminiscing and just spending orders do apply — or stop by the café to see their daily time in the old-fashioned way before screens — selection of baked goods. telephone, computer, television — got in our way. The (Those of us who have eaten bars all our lives may not sun shining through the window illuminates the entryway know that we are advancing a true Midwestern tradition. and dining areas, spreading an unexpectedly delicious The rest of the country doesn’t take to bars as much as winter warmth throughout the building. Laughter and we do, preferring their cakes, pies and cookies instead. In the clink of silverware can be heard from the rear of the fact, Wikipedia lists the Midwest as the regional home of room, and the customers just seem … content. dessert bars. You won’t find a list of dessert bars like Just outside the front door lies the open expanse of Pathstone’s at any California or New York restaurant.) Sibley Park, with its walking paths, mini zoo and flower The café is open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 gardens that in warm weather beckon visitors to pay a

30 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

visit, perhaps with a wheelchairbound relative in tow enjoying the fresh air, beautiful landscaping and the convergence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth rivers flowing nearby. It may be a campus within the city limits, but it feels a bit like the nearest neighbor is Mother Nature. Pfeffer said that there were multiple reasons behind starting the catering and café businesses out of a nursing home, including a desire to offer more dining options to their residents, visitors and staff, as well as a community outreach element. “We wanted to provide residents, guests and staff with choices,” Pfeffer said, “and also bring the community in. They talk about the prices being so reasonable.” And the community has responded with positive reviews from diners who have kept the café running since 2007. Ecumen Pathstone is home to about 155 men and women and also serves well over 100 community members who don’t live there but need some sort of adult health services, a growing population especially since insurance companies have been trending away from hospital stays and moving toward healing and rehabbing as an outpatient. “A lot of family members truly appreciate being able to do this,” said Hoffman. “For employees, they really enjoy the convenience as well as the selection. It’s a very good choice for them.” “It’s a real community environment,” added Pfeffer, “Very comfortable and welcoming and warm. We do dining services really well.” So well, in fact, that Ecumen Pathstone has contracted with Mankato Clinic’s new Gillette children’s specialty clinic on the Wickersham Campus to open a coffee bar called The Link with specialty coffees and grab-and-go food items. The catering business regularly serves area businesses such as Kato Engineering, the Rotary Club and multiple Mankato Clinic sites, and handles residential parties, anniversaries and graduations as well. All of which keeps the cooks at Pathstone busily employed and the diners well-fed and satisfied. MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 31

Wine & Beer

Wines By Leigh Pomeroy

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir: Location, location, location!

southern mn style


ig reds can be a great curative for the cold midwinter blues, but there’s still room for a good Chardonnay. One I’ve enjoyed lately is the Jackhammer Santa Lucia Highlands 2012 made by Mankato native Stephen Dooley, owner of Stephen Ross Winery. Jackhammer is his “budget” brand, and you can buy this lovely little gem for under $15 at several wine shops in town. What makes this wine unique, other than being crafted by a terrific winemaker, is that it’s produced from Santa Lucia Highlands fruit, one of the relatively new, highly regarded Chardonnay and Pinot Noir AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) in California. Located on the east facing slopes of the Santa Lucia Range bordering the Salinas Valley, the area was first planted to chardonnay and pinot noir grapes in just the 1970s. (Note to English majors: The names of varietal wines are capitalized while grape names themselves are not.) You may have heard of the Salinas Valley as the place where John Steinbeck set many of his novels. It is also known as the nation’s primary source for berries, lettuce and artichokes. With wine geography is paramount. Chardonnay and pinot noir grown in the rich, fertile soils near the Salinas River yield bland, uninteresting wines. But the same grapes cultivated just a mile or so west on the less fertile, well drained slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands can yield masterpieces. A good example is the Stephen Ross 2012 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, which won Bestof-Class in Sunset Magazine’s 2014 International Wine Competition. Dooley would certainly not call his Jackhammer Chardonnay a masterpiece. Yet an SLH Chardonnay this good at this price is a rare treat indeed. The red complement to Chardonnay is Pinot Noir. That’s because both are the primary grapes of the Burgundy region of France — a small area that produces quite extraordinary and justifiably expensive wines. Similar to the Santa Lucia Highlands, its slopes face east toward the setting sun. Yet that’s where the comparison ends as its geography is much older, its higher elevations less severe, its soils more calcareous than Santa Lucia’s loam, and its vineyards far longer established — some dating back to the fifth century. Pinot Noir can be a seductive wine. Rarely is it darkly colored like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (Shiraz) or Malbec. Yet a great Pinot can wrap your tongue like liquid velvet and last in your mouth like a favorite memory. The greatest Pinots come from the Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beane in Burgundy and are labeled by their vineyard

32 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

and/or place names, such as Clos de Vougeot (a vineyard). The words “Pinot Noir” rarely appear on the label. Yet New World Pinots from California and Oregon are challenging the Burgundian old guard. Santa Lucia Highlands is just one AVA. Others in northern California include the Russian River Valley, Carneros, and the Anderson Valley. Other regions in southcentral California also produce world-class Pinots. These include the Santa Rita Hills, Santa Maria Valley, and the Edna Valley, from which Dooley sources most of his grapes. The film “Sideways,” which many attribute to opening up the nation’s attention to California Pinot Noir, focused on wines from this area. In the 1960s a few Pinot Noir pioneers set out to disprove the prevailing notion that quality wine grapes couldn’t be grown in Oregon because the weather was too wet and too cold. Today those pioneers have been vindicated as Oregon Pinots have vaulted to the forefront of the Pinot Noir world. Even well-known French Burgundy houses with long histories like Joseph Drouhin have invested in Oregon’s Willamette Valley realizing that world-class Pinots can be grown and produced there. The names of great Oregon producers are too numerous to mention, but one wine I have enjoyed recently is the Montinore 2012 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, available for under $20. The 2012 vintage in Oregon is proving to be an outstanding year, and this example is a mouthfilling treat that should continue to improve another five years in the bottle if properly stored. Two caveats before closing: With Pinot you generally get what you pay for. Less expensive wines labeled as Pinot Noir, whether they be from France, California, Australia or wherever, may be acceptable party wines, but they hardly hint at the potential of Pinot Noir’s greatness. On the other hand, some expensive Pinots from Burgundy, California, Oregon, New Zealand and elsewhere may disappoint. Internet searches can yield a lot of information. One resource I constantly return to is, which provides an extensive database on available wine offerings. Both Chardonnays and Pinots can yield extraordinary wines, great values and duds. Look for the right geography. I invariably choose wines labeled with place names rather than simply “California.” By choosing wines by their geographical origins one can learn the differences and subtleties that make enophilia such a wonderful disease.

Leigh Pomeroy is a Mankato-based writer and wine lover

First Draught By Bert Mattson

Beers to love without reservations


o, you forgot to set reservations. The best play is to pretend you planned it: Your significant other is too special to be seated by some drafty door; subjected to sappy song selections; interrupted by a rose peddler’s pitch; exposed to an overwrought menu and rushed through dessert — for the next seating — unable to exchange sweet nothings over the din of other diners. Better to prepare a meal together. Linger. Laugh. Lock eyes to the tune of your song. But beer? Beer isn’t exactly renowned as the official refreshment of romance. Well, image isn’t everything. “Is your figure less than Greek?” teases the old tune “My Funny Valentine,” shying away from sentimentalism but accepting that relationships may be ironic. While wine is sexy, it’s not necessarily the best fit. Beer, being made from a broad range of ingredients, and subjected to cooking, leaves the brewer some latitude in crafting a beverage that compliments as well as contrasts food — to the envy of the vintner. At Valentine’s Day, rather than be embarrassed by a modest drink made by wildly bearded brewers, I’ll let the lyrics express my loyalty, “your looks are laughable, unphotographable, yet you’re my favorite work of art.” To increase the odds of actually enjoying the joint preparation of a meal, one is wise to K.I.S.S. (keep it simple and straightforward). Begin with a bit of goat cheese and raspberry preserves on a water cracker with Sophie, the BelgianStyle Farmhouse Ale from Goose Island Beer Company. Wine-barrelaged, Sophie is effervescent with a finish reminiscent of sparkling wine. She is slightly tart and echoes

goat cheese’s acidity while her lively carbonation lightens its creaminess — the sweet preserves present a contrast. With hints of vanilla and white pepper she flirts with both the sweet and savory sides of the appetizer. Course 2: Fondue. You know you want to. Gruyere and Emmental are classic cheeses for Swiss-style fondue. The buttery, salty styling of Gruyere is offset by the malty sweetness of Bock which shares a mild nuttiness with Emmental. In addition to bread, try browning off some bratwurst to compliment notes of caramel in the lager. The folks at August Schell Brewery generally roll out their barrels of Bock just in time to drown any disappointment lingering in the little wake of Punxsatawney Phil. No fan of fondue? The caramelized onions, bubbling gruyere and toasted baguette of French onion soup make an excellent alternative. Valentine’s Day and chocolates are almost indivisible. A popular pairing is chocolates and Stout or Porter, but I find that these styles sometimes leave chocolates feeling a tad waxy on the tongue. One alternative is a beer that incorporates cocoa. Try Shake Chocolate Porter, from Boulder Beer Company, with a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. Anticipate flavors and aroma of coffee, chocolate and caramel. Shake’s velvety mouthfeel mimes that of melting vanilla ice cream. Don’t hesitate to make a float or adult malt; while such a concoction may seem a little funny, you might just love it.

Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner.


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 33


Happy Hour

By M. Carrie Allan | Special


The Free Press

southern mn style

Cocktails that make you want to drink your dinner


hink of your favorite dish. Try to conjure its flavors: the long braise of wine, herbs and tomatoes; the faint nasal prick of wasabi in a perfect piece of sushi; the lemony tang of a vinaigrette bracing against peppery arugula and the crunchy, umami smirk of Parmesan. Now, consider: Would you want to drink that dish? I’ve been pondering that question over the past months as I’ve almost inadvertently stalked Juan Coronado, cocktail innovator for José Andrés’s restaurant group, from one truffle drink to the next. In Vegas this past October, my husband and I visited Andrés’ Bazaar Meat at the SLS Casino, and while the ball to my chain was chatting up the chefs and ogling the meat displays, I was getting all bloodhound (sniff sniff sniff) on a drink called Truffles & Bees. A few months later, during a cocktail class at Barmini, the cocktail lab next to Andrés’ extravagant Minibar in Washington, I got a chance to assemble its kissing cousin, the D.O.C. It was that drink — a mix of truffle honey, pear vodka, lemon and champagne — that really got me thinking about the flavors we find appealing in food and how those cravings carry over into beverages. Beyond the realm of classy cocktails, PepsiCo recently was the butt of a lot of mocking online commentary when it confirmed that rumors of a Doritosflavored Mountain Dew were not a prank. The company was testing the flavor, tentatively called Dewitos; I’m guessing “Pop for Potheads” didn’t get approved by Legal. The general reaction seemed to be a kind of intrigued repulsion. But why? People love Doritos, yet the idea of a Doritos-flavored soda gives us the fantods. I suspect it has to do with anticipation and psychological incongruity: A Dorito

34 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

should meet certain expectations, not just in its taste, but also in its aroma and texture. To imagine one in a bottle agitates the mind in a way that’s not entirely pleasant. Finding the heady smell of truffle in what appeared to be a light, fizzy cocktail struck me in much the same way. The few times I’ve seen truffles in cocktails, they’ve tended to be in wood-aged spirits. (If you’ve bar-crawled in Seattle, you might have had the pleasure of sipping Jamie Boudreau’s iconic Truffle Old Fashioned at Canon. Made with truffle-infused cognac, it’s been returning yearly during truffle season; Boudreau says the truffles add an earthiness to the brandy that almost mimics extra aging.) But truffles are rare and incredibly expensive, and their smell, that instantly recognizable truffle funk, is hard to balance against other flavors. That’s why truffles tend to turn up in rich, savory dishes that can hold up to and complement that earthy scent: softly scrambled eggs, cheese-rich pastas. The smell of truffles isn’t far from the smell of bodies intermingling: at once desirable and faintly gross. (Feel free to fan yourself delicately at this point.) Those truffle-hunting pigs are not immune to this; the chemical compounds that compose truffle smell are also found in the saliva of male boars. When I first nosed the truffley drinks at Bazaar Meat and Barmini, I found the smell off-putting. But I sniffed again, and they began to grow on me, much the way some of Andrés’ uncanny molecular gastronomy creations do. The first reaction to a dish that looks like one thing but tastes and smells like another is a kind of shock. In successful dishes — and successful drinks — that shock gives way to delight.

The D.O.C. (1 serving) A heady, decadent blend of pear vodka, truffled honey and bubbles, the D.O.C. — the initials stand for denominazione di origine controllata, a quality-assurance label for Italian food and wine — is a favorite at Barmini, the cocktail lab connected to chef-restaurateur José Andrés’ luxurious Minibar. Truffle honey is available via specialty grocery stores online. Adapted from Barmini in D.C.

Ingredients Ice 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice 1/2 ounce truffle honey syrup (see headnote and NOTE) 1 ounce pear vodka, such as Grey Goose La Poire, 3 to 4 ounces chilled dry prosecco, brut champagne or cava.

Steps Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the lemon juice, truffle honey syrup and pear vodka; shake vigorously for 30 seconds, then strain into a chilled champagne flute. Top with the champagne, prosecco or cava.

NOTE: To make truffle honey syrup, combine 2 parts truffle honey to 1 part water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until the honey has dissolved and the mixture is a thin syrup. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 35


What’s Cooking By Sarah Johnson

southern mn style

“Meatballs Worth Stabbing Your Lover For” D

eciding what to make for a special Valentine’s Day dinner is always a chore. Options abound, but which meal really speaks to the volumes of love you hold in your heart? I always recommend pasta, which has a nice romantic ring to it. And don’t forget the meatballs. This way if Mr. Right turns out to be Mr. Wrong and stands you up, or if Miss Perfect suddenly becomes Miss Past Imperfect, you’ve got lovely meatballs to stuff down your gullet while scarfing that bottle of wine you had cooling on ice along with a couple of gallons of tears. Not that that’s going to happen to any of you. But I digress. If you were going to write a history of the meatball — but please, just don’t — you would find yourself staring into the murky depths of the past and watching two contenders duke it out for the title of Meatball King: the Persians and the Swedes. Both cultures seem to have come up with meatballs independently and then imported their meatball-making knowledge around the world. No one knows for sure who did it first, but I prefer to think it was the Swedes because it’s so much colder up there. Persia, with its life of ease, elephants and palm trees, should give Sweden a break. Before meat grinders were invented, cooks shredded or minced their meat by hand or pounded it to a paste. Meat was rare and was reserved primarily for the rich. The variety of meat used for meatballs was determined by geography: pork in China, sheep in North Africa, fish in Korea. The best, says early Roman writer Apicius, were made of peacock, after which he enjoyed meatballs made of pheasant, then rabbit, then chicken and, last, suckling pig. Romans got their meatball recipes from the Mideast tribes they encountered: They came, they saw, they conquered, then they chowed down.

36 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

What we Americans think of as “Italian” style meatballs — large balls, doused in marinara sauce, perched jauntily atop a pile of spaghetti — is about as Italian as Mom’s apple pie and Chevrolet. No one eats this in Italy. They eat meatballs, of course, but they’re much smaller and are served sans spaghetti, often in soup. Italian immigrants to this country began serving the Americanized version due to the simple fact that the ingredients were easily available here: dried noodles, canned tomatoes, and lots and lots of cheap American beef. Instead of spending 75 percent of their income on food, as their Sicilian relatives were doing, in America the immigrants were only spending 25 percent, so they jacked up the ratio of meat and mamma mia! “spaghetti and meatballs” was born, an all-American kid with slightly befuddled Italian parents. A Maryland man made the news recently by stabbing a coworker whom he accused of pilfering a meatball from his lunch. It was just one event in a wave of recent “discomfort food” incidents: Last year an Iowa man pulled a knife on his brother in a dispute about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a Florida man stabbed his younger brother over some wayward macaroni and cheese. Now while I don’t see the sense in violence over PB&J or mac’n’cheese, the meatball story is another issue entirely. Don’t touch my meatballs and expect to keep your hand attached. Here’s a recipe for my personal ultimate meatball: spicy, bacon-wrapped and slathered in a delectable (and easy) homemade sauce. If you bring leftovers to work, you might want to lock up your lunch. Never mind. You won’t have any leftovers. Sarah Johnson is a cook, freelance writer and chocolate addict from North Mankato with three grown kids and a couple of mutts.

“Meatballs Worth Stabbing Your Lover For” Ingredients: 1 pound bacon, cut in half One package fully cooked meatballs (use as many as you have bacon slices), thawed 1 cup brown sugar 3 tablespoons chili powder 2 cloves garlic, sliced Olive oil Large can diced tomatoes Cooked pasta of your choice Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a broiler pan with nonstick cooking spray. Mix together brown sugar and chili powder in a small

bowl. Wrap half-slices of bacon around meatballs, securing the bacon in place with a toothpick. Dredge the bacon-wrapped meatballs in the sugar and chili mixture, pressing to coat well. Place meatballs on the greased broiler pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Remove toothpicks.

In a large frying pan, saute sliced garlic cloves in a little olive oil and add chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Place meatballs in an ovenproof dish, cover them with sauce and bake in the oven until hot, 15-30 minutes. Serve with hot pasta.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 37


By John Cross

38 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


ebruary is our shortest month, spanning only 28 days, except in Leap Years when it gains a 29th day. Some would argue that such brevity is a merciful thing. Relatively uneventful, it is endowed only with Ground Hog Day, Valentines Day and Presidents Day, second-tier holidays to be sure, unworthy of school dismissals or days off work. Perhaps the best that can be said of February is that getting through it means January is history and the first day of spring is a scant three weeks distant. We can only hope. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 39


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Paul Goodrich (left) and several members of Willow Brook Cooperative warm up with seated chair stretches during their Live to B Healthy™ on-site fitness class.

Inspiring Older Generations

To Live Longer, Healthier Lives


By Marianne Carlson

he temperature is five degrees below zero. With wind chill, it is a frigid 25 degrees below zero. School has been cancelled, but inside the community room at Willow Brook Cooperative, it is 70 degrees and sunny. 42 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

A group of 18 senior citizens sit on the edge of their chairs and reach to touch their toes. After several minutes of stretching different muscles in their legs, the group begins stretching their shoulders and arms.

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Smiling from ear to ear, several of the seniors giggle and tease each other as they warm up for their Live 2 B Healthy® on-site fitness class taught by certified personal trainer, Jason Hempstead.




Hempstead leads the group through a 45-minute workout, 3 days a week. Or at least, he will. Today is only their second class. Hempstead starts the session by stretching the major muscle groups in both the upper and lower body. After everyone is warmed up, he leads the class through chair squats, leg lifts and resistance band training.

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“This class is great,” Anita Dittrich, 80, said. “I love it. It is so nice, especially on a day like today where it is so cold. None of us want to go outside. With this class, we don’t’ have to. They come to us.”

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This is Dittrich’s first exercise class since her colon surgery in April.

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Six weeks ago, Cory Czepa, owner of Live 2 B Healthy® Senior Fitness, spoke to the residents at Willow Brook Cooperative about his customized fitness program. “They loved what he had to say,” Jean Klosowski, Housing Director at Willow Brook Cooperative said. “He talked about how exercise makes you feel better, but more importantly, how exercise helps make you stronger and more comfortable so all of the things you do every day are easier.” Live 2 B Healthy® has been offering residential fitness classes in a variety of settings, including Skilled Nursing, Memory Care, Assisted Living, Independent Living Communities, and Cooperatives all across Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa, Texas, California

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“After learning about the program a few weeks ago, I was all for it,” Dittrich said. “I am hoping more people will walk by and see that we are having so much fun, that they will want to join. After all, we want to get in bikini shape in time for summer.”

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Residents at Willow Brook Cooperative in Mankato enjoy resistance training as part of their on-site fitness class. and Louisiana, since 2008. “This program is meant to improve balance, flexibility and strength,” Czepa said. “All class participants are tested three times each year against a baseline test. When I first started the program, we took a baseline test of class participants at an assisted living facility and after only three months with the program their balance alone increased 257%.” According to Czepa, most participants will see the most dramatic improvement immediately after starting the program. Then those improvements will level off. So in order to help participants continue to see improvements, he has developed a program that keeps muscles in a constant state of confusion. “The exercises are different every day,” Czepa said with a smile. “We change the exercises, the number of

reps, number of sets, and the duration of rest between sets for every single class. We want to keep the body guessing.”

Resistance Training

After getting his class warmed up, Hempstead, passed out yellow and red stretchy bands with black handles on each end. Most of the class participants at Willow Brook Cooperative chose to use the yellow bands, but two men in the group decided to try the red bands that offered quite a bit more resistance. Hempstead had the class stand in the middle of the resistance band and pull the handles up to their shoulders, first with an underhand grip, then with an overhand grip. Most participants chose to stand, but a few performed the exercises while sitting. “Resistance training is different than a cardio workout,” Czepa said. “As soon

44 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

as you stop walking on that treadmill or stop riding the stationary bike, you stop burning calories. But with resistance training, your body continues to burn calories even after the workout is done. Over time, as residents build more muscle, the more calories they will continue to burn after the workout is finished.” When asked what she thought of the resistance training, Dittrich said, “I love it. We have some machines in the basement, but I don’t like machines. This is much better.” Paul Goodrich, 78, said even though he uses the treadmill and stationary bike in the basement, the stretching and resistance training are things he would never do on his own. “It’s definitely a workout,” Goodrich said.

“Exercise training cannot restore tissue that has already been destroyed, but it can protect the individual against a number of the chronic diseases of old age. More important, it maximizes residual function. In some instances, biological age is reduced by as much as 20 years. Life expectancy is increased, partial and total disability are delayed, and there are major gains in quality adjusted life expectancy. Exercise is thus a very important component of healthy living for the senior citizen.”

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Continuing To See Improvements

Although, the exercise program at Willow Brook Cooperative is just getting started, Czepa’s resistance training and other proven exercise techniques have helped residents at Ecumen Pathstone Living continue to see improvements even after five years with the program. “Live 2 B Healthy® is a pretty popular program,” Shelly Cornish, Housing Director at Ecumen Pathstone Living said. “We have a lot of residents that wouldn’t miss it for anything. They keep each other accountable. I hear them asking each other, ‘Are you going?”’ The average age of class participants at Ecumen Pathstone Living is 85 years old, according to Cornish, but they have many people over the age of 100 that participate in classes three days a week.

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Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 45

“It is amazing to see 90 year old people doing chair squats and lifting their legs higher than I can,” Cornish said with a laugh. “You know the old saying, ‘Use it or lose it.’ There is a lot of wisdom behind that. Exercising helps our residents be more engaged in everything, both physically and mentally.”

outlook about exercise,” Czepa said. “Rather than dread it and look at it like it is something they “have to do” they are excited to come and workout.” Goodrich agreed that the class was not only a challenge physically, but that it was also “entertaining.”

Keep Them Coming Back According to Czepa, his proven techniques not only achieve increased strength, balance, and endurance, but increased emotional resilience and sociability as well.

“Exercise is fun,” Czepa said with a laugh. “Especially when you do it with people you care about. When people come to class they are laughing and smiling and getting to know each other better. Really, it is socializing at its finest.” Czepa credits trainers like Hempstead for creating a class environment that keeps participants coming back.

“This class is so good for me,” Nell Meinhardt, 93, “I’m the oldest one here. I have a weakness in one side from strokes so I want to strengthen my right arm. They modify some of the moves for me so I don’t always have to stand. I can sit through them. I think it is wonderful that we don’t have to go outside on a day like today. Most of us don’t get to the gym like we do a scheduled class like this. You don’t want to miss it.” When asked what motivates him to put on his sweats and gym shoes, Goodrich said with a smile, “I just want to stay young.”

“When you’ve got a trainer like Jason with a great personality, someone they can relate to, it changes their whole

Certified Personal Trainer Jason Hempstead (right) leads residents at Willow Brook Cooperative through a series of strength training exercises during an on-site fitness class.

A few of the many benefits of regular physical activity include: • Enhanced flexibility and balance • Better circulation • Lower heart disease and blood pressure, resulting in lower stroke risk • Improved sleep • Improved cognitive skills • Reduced medications • Renewed energy and endurance • Decreased joint and back pain • More regular bowel functions • Declining depression and anxiety, improved day-to-day well-being

46 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

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Ecumen Sand Prairie 700 Knight Street St Peter, MN 56082 Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 47




hronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly referred to as COPD, is an umbrella term for several lung diseases that make it difficult to breathe. The two main forms of COPD include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Doctors now classify anyone who has emphysema or chronic bronchitis as having COPD. COPD can cause coughing with large amounts of mucus, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and degradation of the lungs. People who have COPD may find it difficult to engage in daily activities without becoming breathless. Symptoms may be quite similar to asthma but with an entirely different cause.

People who suffer from COPD are typically smokers or those who used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as dust or air pollution, also can contribute to COPD. COPD is a common illness among the elderly who experienced long-term exposure to either cigarette smoke or other noxious particles from fuels, chemicals and occupational dusts before more stringent environmental regulations were implemented.

The Mayo Clinic says about 1 percent of people with COPD have the disease due to a genetic disorder that causes low levels of a protein called alpha-1antitrypsin, or AAt. AAt is made in the liver and secreted into the bloodstream

48 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

to help protect the lungs.

In healthy lungs, air travels through the trachea, or windpipe, into tubes known as bronchia that connect to the lungs. These bronchial tubes end in large bunches of air sacs, called alveoli. Small capillaries run through the walls of the alveoli to help with the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. When someone has COPD, the airways and alveoli lose their elastic quality and many air sacs may be destroyed. In addition, the walls of the bronchial tubes can become thick, inflamed and filled with mucus, prohibiting the flow of air. As a result,

less oxygen is breathed into the body and passed into the bloodstream to fuel the body’s needs. Lack of oxygen can lead to blueness of the lips and fingernail beds, fatigue and reduced mental acuity. No treatment currently exists to reverse damage to the lungs or other components of the respiratory system. The majority of COPD therapies are designed to mitigate symptoms and make breathing easier. These include inhaled medications or pills taken orally. Many people with COPD may need to take medicines known as controller medications every day. In the event of a breathing attack, rescue inhalers also may be prescribed. The COPD Foundation says other therapies also may help patients cope with COPD. Oxygen therapy can reduce strain on the heart and prevent the negative side effects of decreasing blood-oxygen levels. Learning certain breathing techniques, including abdominal and pursed-lips breathing, can reduce anxiety levels and prevent hyperventilation, which typically compounds breathing problems. People with COPD also should improve the air quality in their homes. Allergens and air irritants can make breathing more difficult or lead to acute attacks. Install an air filtration system to keep a home clean. Above all, quitting smoking is the most effective way to combat COPD, and smokers should speak with their physicians about smoking cessation programs and medications. MCC.

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Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 49

Finding their

e c a l p

By Lora Brady, Common Good RSVP

Above: Volunteers deliver hot meals for Lutheran Social Services Meals on Wheels program. Top: Nolan Wright donates time at Neighborhood Thrift Store. Middle: Joyce Steffensmeier and Eileen King beautify the Mankato Place Parking Ramp. Bottom: Cindy Hamberg leads a group of “Bone Builders” participants through a class at the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center.


s the population of the Greater Mankato area grows, so does the need for volunteers to reach out and help in critical areas. Common Good RSVP, a national volunteer program sponsored locally by Catholic Charities, stands ready to meet this challenge. The program uniquely matches life-skilled people age 55+, with meaningful places to help meet these needs in areas of food security, education, senior independence and healthy living, and so much more. One volunteer, Ron Johnson, found himself in a place others often experience in retirement: uncertain what to do next. For many years, Ron put in long hours transporting passengers in his shuttle bus to many destinations. In retirement, he wanted to stay busy in a meaningful way, and, as primary care-

giver for a family member, he felt a little time away from home would do him good. He read a posting, “Volunteers needed for meal delivery.” A perfect opportunity – he thought. Ron contacted the county coordinator for Common Good RSVP. She explained that, like Ron driving for Meals on Wheels, RSVP volunteers use their life skills, experience and dedication to give back to the community and improve the lives of others. Ron began as an RSVP volunteer, delivering hot meal for Lutheran Social Services Meals on Wheels, helping home-bound individuals. Initially, Ron thought he would volunteer on Mondays only, given he is retired and didn’t want to be tied down. But he quickly found it was much easier than he first thought, taking only an hour each time. But there was something more to it: Ron

50 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

discovered the priceless rewards of giving back -like being met with a smile at each home, and knowing that the meal recipients wait and watch for him with genuine appreciation for his simple act of kindness. Ron had found his place, and Mondays turned into many days. Cindy Hamberg had no inkling she would find herself involved in volunteerism until she attended a Bone Builders class in Grand Rapids, MN, where it was run by a local RSVP chapter. She was so convinced that seniors in Lake Crystal needed this research-proven exercises program, she sought out the local Common Good RSVP coordinator and they got the ball rolling. Cindy’s determination and passion, coupled with RSVP and community support, initiated a Bone Builders class in Lake Crystal in 2011. Cindy’s mark in working to im-


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Contact me to learn more about Medicare and health and prescription drug plans from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Blue Plus. [


Blue Cross and Blue Plus offer HMO-POS, Cost and PDP plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in these plans depends on contract renewal. Plans are available to residents of the service area.You can also call Blue Cross or Blue Plus for plan information or to enroll. Call 1-877-662-2583,TTY users call 711, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily. H2425-002_092112_N03 CMS Accepted 09/26/2012 H2461_092112_N04 CMS Accepted 09/26/2012 S5743_ 092112_K02_MN CMS Accepted 09/26/2012 Authorized independent agent/agency for Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® of Minnesota and Blue Plus®, nonprofit independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

prove the mobility and quality of life for many seniors led to an expansion of this amazing program, which now boasts five locations around Mankato, including Eagle Lake, Mapleton, St. James and St. Peter. Bone Builders is just another example what Common Good RSVP volunteers bring to their communities and lives of friends and neighbors. Close to 1800 RSVP volunteers across16-counties in southern Minnesota change or improve the lives of people every day. Through Common Good RSVP, volunteers continue to find these meaningful opportunities – a place where they can make a difference by touching those lives. Often, they find it changes their own lives the most. For Information on volunteering with RSVP, call Lora at (507) 387-5586, etx. 3 Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 51

Successful ways to stretch retirement savings M

any budding retirees plan to travel, relax and enjoy the company of their spouses when they officially stop working. But such plans only are possible if men and women take steps to secure their financial futures in retirement. According to a recent survey by the personal finance education site, roughly one-third of Baby Boomers have no retirement plan. The reason some may have no plan is they have misconceptions about how much money they will need in retirement. Successful retirees understand the steps to take and how to live on a budget. • Have a plan. Many people simply fail to plan for retirement. Even men and women who invest in an employer-sponsored retirement program, such as a 401(k), should not make that the only retirement planning they do. Speak with a financial advisor who can help you develop a plan that ensures you don’t outlive your assets.

• Set reasonable goals. Retirement nest eggs do not need to be enormous. Many retirees have a net worth of less than $1 million, and many people live comfortably on less than $100,000 annually. When planning for retirement, don’t be dissuaded because you won’t be buying a vineyard or villa in Europe. Set reasonable goals for your retirement and make sure you meet those goals. • Recognize there is no magic wealth-building plan. Saving comes down to formulating a plan specific to your goals, resources, abilities, and skills. Make saving a priority and take advantage of employersponsored retirement programs if they are offered. • Don’t underestimate spending. You will need money in retirement, and it’s best that you don’t underestimate just how much you’re going to need. No one wants to be stuck at home during retirement, when people typically want to enjoy themselves

52 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

and the freedom that comes with retirement. Speak to a financial planner to develop a reasonable estimate of your living expenses when you plan to retire. • Pay down or avoid debt while you can. Retiring with debt is a big risk. Try to eliminate all of your debts before you retire and, once you have, focus your energy on growing your investments and/or saving money for retirement. • Start early on retirement saving. It’s never too early to begin saving for retirement. Although few twenty-somethings are thinking about retirement, the earlier you begin to invest the more time you have to grow your money. Enroll in a retirement plan now so you have a larger nest egg when you reach retirement age. MCC.

Did you know? An individual retirement account, or IRA, is a type of account men and women who meet certain eligibility requirements can open to save money for their retirement. Unlike a 401(k), a type of retirement account that is provided by an employer, an IRA must be opened by an individual. Another difference between a 401(k) and an IRA is that men and women can withdraw money from their IRAs before they reach retirement age to pay medical expenses without incurring the penalties that apply when 401(k) account holders prematurely withdraw money from these accounts. One similarity between 401(k) accounts and traditional IRAs concerns taxation. Account holders of both types of accounts do not pay taxes on their contributions to those accounts until they begin to withdraw money in retirement (prematurely withdrawing money from a 401(k) will incur taxes and fees). But men and women who open a Roth IRA pay their taxes up front, meaning they won’t be paying taxes down the road when theywithdraw money in retirement. Each type of IRA comes with its own set of rules and restrictions, including contribution limits and eligibility requirements based on earned income. In addition, men and women with a traditional IRA must begin to withdraw their money by the time they reach age 70.5, while those with a Roth IRA can leave their money in their accounts as long as they please. MCC.

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345-6151 • 1630 Adams St. • Mankato • Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 53

Seniors in declining health are vulnerable to elder fraud.

Understand and

avoid elder

financial fraud E

lder fraud is a financial crime that targets older men and women who are often unable to recognize they are being victimized. Elder financial fraud is a broad term that can be applied to a host of crimes, from stealing money or property directly from an individual to using an older person’s property or possessions without permission. Many seniors are targeted through

telemarketing scams in which elders are scared into giving money out of fear of losing their homes. Some are exploited by people closer to home who forge signatures or get an older person to sign over deeds or power of attorney. Criminals often see elderly men and women as easy targets. Seniors may be suffering from declining physical and/ or mental health, which compromises their ability to defend themselves or

54 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

even recognize they are being taken advantage of. Seniors also may be embarrassed that they were duped and not share their experiences with others as a result. But elder fraud also can be perpetrated by family members who aim to acquire an elderly relative’s assets. Recognizing scenarios where fraud may be committed can help men and women protect their elderly relatives from being victimized by elder fraud.

• Confirm professionals are who they say they are. More than 170 designations and certifications are used within the financial industry to identify professionals. Some of them do not necessarily mean a person is qualified or can be trusted to handle an individual’s assets. Always ask a financial advisor if he is overseen by a government agency or is authorized to provide advice under the “fiduciary standard of care.” Be especially careful when dealing with advisors who try to push certain products or those who suggest shortcuts and blending services. Such professionals are not necessarily criminals, but they may have ulterior motives in mind and not be overly concerned about you or your loved one’s financial well-being. • Pay attention to your accounts. Unusually large withdrawals from automated teller machines or cashed checks with signatures that do not match the signature on the account are both indicative of fraud. If you are monitoring a loved one’s accounts, question any surges of activity in accounts that are normally somewhat inactive. • Ask a loved one to keep you abreast of changes in their will. Abrupt changes in a will or other financial documents should also cause concern. Family members caring for a senior should be aware of any major changes to important documents. • Monitor a loved one’s purchases. Sudden purchases, whether it’s an updated insurance policy or unnecessary home repairs, may be indicative of elder fraud. Elder financial fraud targets an often vulnerable segment of the population, and it’s often up to loved ones to protect their elderly relatives from being victimized by such crimes. MCC.

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February 12 : Saints Valentine’s Day Social @ Legion Club February 19: “Outside Mullingar”, Old Log Theater March 12: Hawaiian Islands Tour (thru the 21st) March 19: “Social Security”, Daytrippers Dinner Theater April 22: “The Lincoln Assassination”, David Jones, Speaker @ Treaty Site History Museum May 6: Pella Tulip Festival & Meskwaki Casino (thru the 8th) May 7: TWINS vs. Oakland “A’s” July 1: “Mary Poppins!”, Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Join the Nicollet County Bank Saints Club for fun day trips, travel adventures and seminars and socials! Call us at 931-3310 for more information on the events or how to join! Join the NCB Saints Club and put a little fun in your banking!

Celebrating 132 Years Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 55

Social media

no longer just child’s play


he Internet and related technologies have been a game-changer for people of all ages. The instant connectivity made possible by these advancements has been valued by young adults and children for years. But now social media is attracting an entirely different demographic -- seniors. More than just a method of channeling information to the comfort of home, the Internet and the various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, are ways for older adults to stay connected with friends and family. For seniors faced with mobility issues, social media helps to bring the world to them. Despite the stereotype that seniors do not want to learn to use new tech-

nology, many seniors are getting on board. Findings from the Pew Research Institute show that social networking use among Internet users ages 50 to 64 grew by 88 percent between April 2009 and May 2010. The research also found that the percentage of those 65 and older using social media grew from 13 percent to 26 percent during that same stretch. Although young adults continue to be the primary users of social media, older users are gaining momentum and surpassing youth in the number of new users. Individuals who are not yet utilizing social media to manage their communication efforts may be inspired by these benefits to doing so.

56 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

• Photo and video sharing: The majority of photos being taken today are digital, as fewer people are making prints of their photos. Rather, they are being shared via e-mail or through social media sites. Grandparents can see their grandchildren in photos in real time. Also, if they’ve managed apps that enable video sharing, they can view and chat with relatives who live miles away, just as if they were sitting across the table. • Conversations with family: In a world where families are no longer centrally located, communication may be lacking. Despite the prevalence of mobile phones, fewer and fewer people seem to pick up the phone and make calls as they once did. Instead, they’re tex-

ting and updating social media posts. They’re also e-mailing one another. Older adults who have no access to this technology could be left out of the mix. This is a way for seniors to stay close to family.

• Online shopping: Seniors who don’t get out much or who cannot safely drive a vehicle might not be able to shop as often as they would like. Having Internet access and experience with browsing Web sites enables older men and women to shop from reputable Web sites who ship items directly to the house. With the vast array of items now sold online, anyone can have their choice of items and not be forced to settle because of their age. • Improved feelings of well-being: Avoiding feelings of isolation and loneliness can benefit older men and women. A study by Dr. Shelia Cotten, a sociologist and associate professor from the University of Alabama, Birmingham, revealed that Internet use was associated with a 30 percent decrease in depressive symptoms among older adults who used it regularly, while other studies have shown similarly impressive results. • Working the mind: Going online, chatting on social media or simply writing an e-mail works areas of the brain. Typing also helps improve manual dexterity. These factors can be beneficial for seniors looking to stay sharp. Using the Internet as a form of communication is a growing trend among the 50-plus demographic. It enables them to stay connected with family and the world in a variety of ways. MCC.




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Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 57

Treat sleeplessness with vitamins and supplements


illions of people around the world battle insomnia. Sleeplessness may be a byproduct of different conditions, and treatment may depend on the underlying cause of the insomnia. Many people find using all-natural supplement therapy is enough to ward off sleeplessness. Insomnia is more prevalent among elderly individuals and women. Elderly people are more likely than younger ones to have medical conditions that may cause pain at night or to take medication that can interfere with a good night’s rest. Some research suggests that men lose about 80 percent of their deep sleep between the ages of 16 and 50. For women, hormonal events often trigger sleeplessness. These can include menstruation, pregnancy and menopause. Individuals who are over the age of 50 may be more prone to anxiety, grief and depression which can cause sleeplessness.

Although there are many different medications, be it prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs, to alleviate symptoms of sleeplessness, some people prefer to not take these medications due to the risk of dependency or the side effects associated with them. Hypnotics, which include the brand name Ambien, have been linked to morning drowsiness and even temporary amnesia, where individuals walk around, drive or even cook while under the medication and are unaware of what they are doing. Those who are looking for more natural approaches can use the following vitamins and minerals in conjunction with good sleep hygiene. • Calcium and magnesium combination: Calcium and magnesium have been shown to relax the central nervous system, helping the body drift into sleep. According to Dr. William Sears, calcium

58 • Living 55 PLUS • February 2015 • Special Advertising Section

helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleepinducing substance melatonin. It is important to note that a balanced ratio of calcium to magnesium helps calcium work properly. It is recommended to take 500 mg of calcium and 250 mg of magnesium once per day, later in the evening. This can be done after dinner or a few hours before going to bed for best results. • Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is a water-soluble vitamin required for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine. It also helps with myelin formation. Those who are deficient in B6 find the peripheral nerves, skin, mucous membranes and the central nervous system can be affected. Taking 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily can help in the production of serotonin and promote sleep. It is believed to work well for people who

struggle to stay asleep through the night. • Vitamin B12 and vitamin B5 combination: Taking 25 milligrams of B12, especially when supplemented with vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), can be a successful sleeplessness remedy. Vitamin B12 deficiency is quite common and is a factor for many patients who suffer from insomnia, especially seniors. Vitamin B5 may also relieve stress.

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• 5-HTP: Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter involved in sleep and mood, and 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytroptophan, is a precursor to serotonin. In several double-blind clinical studies, 5-HTP decreased the time required to get to sleep and to decrease the number of awakenings, according to HolisticOnline. It is recommended to take 100 to 300 mg, around 45 minutes before retiring for bed. • Melatonin: Although melatonin is the go-to supplement for sleeplessness because of its direct relationship with sleep onset and circadian rhythm in the body, some research indicates that melatonin supplementation may only be effective for those who are deficient in this hormone. However, it may be effective for the elderly person who naturally produces less melatonin as he or she ages. A report titled, “Melatonin in elderly patients with insomnia: A systematic review,” found there is sufficient evidence that low doses of melatonin improve initial sleep quality in selected elderly insomniacs. Melatonin doses ranged from 0.5 mg to 6 mg, and most participants took a single dose 30 to 120 minutes before bedtime. However, larger, randomized controlled trials with less strict inclusion criteria are necessary to yield evidence of effectiveness in geriatric patients who suffer from insomnia before widespread use can be advocated.

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Sleeplessness is something that can cause anything from mere annoyance to a long-term health problem. Older adults who are more prone to insomnia can consider a number of natural remedies to help get a better night’s rest. MCC.

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Special Advertising Section • february 2015 • Living 55 PLUS • 59




| By Bryce O. Stenzel

Happy 163rd birthday, Mankato

Parsons King Johnson 60 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


he two men most responsible for the founding of Mankato on Feb. 5 and 6, 1852 were Henry Jackson and Parsons King Johnson. They were brothers-in-law. Jackson was born in February, 1811, in Virginia. He and his wife, Angelina (Bevins), settled in the fledgling settlement of St. Paul in June of 1842. Soon after his arrival, Jackson purchased three acres located at Bench, Robert, Third and Jackson streets. He erected the town site’s first building equipped with a shingled roof, which served as St. Paul’s first store, as well as its first hotel, post office and court. Jackson was appointed St. Paul’s first postmaster in 1846; he was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly while St. Paul was still under that state’s jurisdiction. Later, Jackson served as a member of the Minnesota Territorial Legislature as well as being a member of the St. Paul town council. Parsons King Johnson was born in Vermont and was a tailor by trade. He came west in 1837 and settled in Rockford, Illinois as well as Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He came to St. Paul in 1847, where he boarded at Jackson’s store. Like Jackson, Johnson also served in the Minnesota Territorial Legislature. In 1850, he married Laura Bevins. That same year, Jackson and Johnson took an excursion aboard the riverboat Yankee up the Minnesota River to the mouth of the Blue Earth or “Mahkato” River. Although Jackson and Johnson remained on board the Yankee for the return trip to St. Paul, both men were so impressed with the land surrounding the confluence of the two rivers that they decided to come back two years later and start a town-site of their own. It was Jan. 31, 1852, when Jackson and Johnson left St. Paul in a cutter for their future town-site. They were accompanied by two wood choppers; Daniel Williams, a teamster; Louis De Morwau, who had been hired to carry provisions aboard a sleigh; and W.W. Paddock. Temperatures that had reached as low as 30 below zero only the week before suddenly moderated, causing most of the snow to melt. This made travel slow and tedious. The first night, the party only got as far as the home of the Indian interpreter, Peter Quinn, just above Fort Snelling. The next night, the party reached the site of Shakopee, where Tom Holmes had just built the first log cabin there. The third night of the trip was spent at the trading post of Nelson Robert, just below the future site of Belle Plaine. It was here that Jackson was taken ill and returned to St. Paul. Johnson and the rest of the party pushed on with the sleigh, spending their fourth night of the journey near the site of Le Sueur. By noon of the fifth day, the party reached Traverse des Sioux, where the treaty between Indians and whites, ceding control of the lands Johnson and his companions were now passing through, had been negotiated only the previous summer. After dinner, the party proceeded as far as Joseph Provencelle’s trading post where they spent the fifth night, waiting for the Minnesota River to re-freeze so they were able to cross over it to the south bank. The next morning, Johnson and his party were able to cross the river on fresh ice; however, they faced an even greater obstacle. A vast camp of Sisseton Dakota was spread out on the Kasota plateau. There was no way to reach their destination other than to proceed through the camp. Chief Sleepy Eye, head chief of the Sissetons, demanded to know why Johnson and the other white men were passing through his territory. When he learned the stated

intention of the group was to start a town-site at the mouth of the Blue Earth River, Chief Sleepy Eye refused to grant them access, claiming this was one of the Sissetons’ prime hunting grounds as well as being the location of one of their prime sugar camps. Johnson argued that this land had been sold to the whites under the provisions of the Traverse des Sioux treaty. Sleepy Eye responded that until the Indians were paid for these lands under provisions of the same treaty, they were off limits to settlement by whites. It was at this critical moment that Joseph Provencelle unwittingly came to the rescue of Johnson and his party. Provencelle had married one of the daughters of Chief Sleepy Eye, which gave him leverage in negotiations with his father-in-law. Johnson offered Provencelle a large sum of money to get his own sleigh to carry a portion of the provisions Johnson’s party had been carrying if Joe would, in turn, convince Sleepy Eye to let them proceed on their way. Provencelle was willing to oblige, and the deal was struck. Sleepy Eye even secured an order for an extra barrel of pork to be delivered later as his share of the bargain, which it was. Provencelle accompanied the settlement party for the remainder of the distance, arriving at the mouth of the Blue Earth River (today’s Sibley Park) on the afternoon of Feb. 5, 1852. They spent their first night camped at the south foot of Sibley mound (named for a trading post erected earlier by fur trader and future governor of Minnesota, Henry H. Sibley) on the east bank of the Blue Earth River. On Feb. 6, 1852, Johnson and his companions explored the land adjacent to the mound to determine the best location for their future town-site. They soon realized that their original decision to locate the town’s center at the confluence of the two rivers was a grave mistake. Water marks on nearby trees indicated that the area was prone to serious flooding, making establishment of a town-site there untenable. Further investigation revealed an easy solution to the problem. Just downstream from the confluence was a narrow strip of prairie lying between Warren Creek and the stone quarry bench. The Minnesota River swept around it in a large curve, forming a natural levee as well as a convenient boat landing. From its inception, Jackson and Johnson’s townsite was known as the city “at the bend of the river,” and remains so to this day. According to historian Thomas Hughes, “the honor of christening the new city was accorded to Mrs. P.K. Johnson and Mrs. Henry Jackson, who selected the name ‘Mankato,’ upon the suggestion of Colonel Robertson…,” an early settler. He had taken the name from French explorer Joseph Nicollet’s description of the Blue Earth River, who referred to the stream as the ‘Mahkato’ (the Dakota word for “blue earth.” It should be noted that the popular notion of ‘Mankato’ being a misspelling of ‘Mahkato’ is a misconception. Both spellings were in use when the two sisters made their selection, and they chose the version with the “n” over the one with the “h.” It is also interesting to note that Mankato’s Jackson Street is named for Henry Jackson, and Parsons Street is named for Parsons King Johnson, who served as postmaster, beginning in 1853. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 61

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 63

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 65

That’s Life By Nell Musolf


Vera and Ray — an unlikely love story

always thought that my childhood best friend, Martha, had perfect parents. Her dad always held the car door open for her mother. Her mother delighted in making her husband’s favorite dishes. They never interrupted each other, did everything together and rarely had spats. All in all, they were like a sitcom couple come to life. Being invited to have dinner at Martha’s house was like being invited to eat with Bob and Carol Brady; peaceful, predictable and pleasant. In other words, Martha’s parents were absolutely nothing like my parents, Vera and Ray. With some couples it’s easy to see why they were drawn to each other. Perhaps they have the same sense of humor or they both enjoy deer hunting or maybe they share a mutual dislike for liver. I often wondered just what it was that my parents ever saw in each other. My mom was someone who loathed venturing beyond her living room and who was happiest perched on a high stool in the kitchen, sipping tea, smoking Salems and watching her 13-inch black and white television. My dad was her polar opposite. Dad smoked Camels, would have liked to have spent all of his waking hours either on a sailboat or in a restaurant, not going home until well after the witching hour. How did those two ever decide to get married? Even more mind boggling, how did they manage to stay married for 57 years? I would have to search my memory long and hard to come up with any topic that my parents agreed on and I honestly don’t think that I could find one. Then again, it’s highly possible that due to a contrarian streak that they both possessed even if Vera did agree with Ray or vice versa, neither of them would ever had admitted it. Actually, I think they delighted in arguing with each other since they did it at least seven times every day of their marriage, starting over morning coffee and winding down around the 10 o’clock news. Needless to say, Valentine’s Day with Vera and Ray was almost always on the bizarre side. My dad loved Valentine’s Day and for some unfathomable reason he seemed to enjoy buying my mother gifts even though he knew the odds were excellent that she wasn’t going to like anything he gave her. Nevertheless, every February 14 he arrived at home 66 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

with another love token tucked under his arm and a smile on his face. Many years he bought chocolates but never normal chocolates such as Russell Stover’s or Hershey’s Kisses. Instead he found a brand made, I believe, by a company called Picasso that tasted exactly like chocolate scented plastic. My mother invariably took one bite before gagging dramatically and then throwing the rest of the box in the garbage. Another Valentine’s Day, Dad presented Mom with a pewter plate that had the inscription “A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou” etched onto its rim. After eyeing the inscription suspiciously, my mother put the plate on a high shelf and said somewhat reproachfully, “Now, Raymond, you know I don’t drink wine from a jug!” She drank it from any other kind of a container but, having her standards, definitely not from a jug. The only Valentine’s Day that I can recall where both of my parents were completely happy was the one when Mom took Dad to a jewelry store and picked out exactly what she wanted him to give her: a ring with a price tag that far eclipsed a thousand boxes of Picasso chocolates. Although his eyes bulged and his wallet hurt, Dad manned up and bought his Valentine the ring. And for the rest of that day, at least, there were no more squabbles under their roof. I saw Martha recently and she told me how much she always enjoyed having dinner at my house when we were growing up. “Your parents taught me what life was really like,” she said somewhat wistfully. “Eating dinner at your house was like an early reality show.” Do I really need to point out that Martha, the product of a sitcom childhood, is now a successful businesswoman living in an all-paid-off mini-mansion while I, someone who came from a reality show background, still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and will have my house paid off approximately ten years after I’m dead? No wonder why I’m a proponent of not only good chocolate but also any kind of wine, even the jugged stuff. Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.

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Garden Chat By Jean Lundquist

Dreaming of garden days


A glass of wine, a seed catalog ... let’s start planning

f there is one good thing about winter, it’s the month of February. It’s a very short month. Somehow, winter is easier for me when I think about February. It gives me hope that the season will be the shortest one. February is also the month when I seem to miss the sunshine the most, even though the days are getting longer, little by little. Fortunately I have found an antidote for February — a glass of wine and a pile of seed catalogs at the kitchen table looking outside. I always salivate when a seed catalog arrives and I thumb through it, but I save all of them to devour at once. I set up with a notepad and a pencil. I make sure the bird feeders have been full for several days, and I enter a single focus trance. This is probably as close as I’ll ever come to being hypnotized. I always look for something new to grow. This year, it’s a new variety of carrots. It’s called Fire Wedge, and it’s being introduced by Gurney’s. Although I intend to incorporate more commercial compost this year, it will be several years before I lose the heaviness of our soil. Fire Wedge is supposed to do well in clay soils. It is a wedge-shaped carrot, with broad shoulders, so it should do well here. It is an 80-day carrot, though. I’ll have to see this summer if it’s worth the wait. I really can’t wait that long to crunch into a garden carrot, so I’ll grow my old standby — Mokum Carrots. They are 56-day carrots. They are long, but slender, so they have done well in my soil. One seed company that sells them calls them “the carrot of carrots.” They are tasty and crispy, and mature relatively early. They are nearly coreless. I highly recommend the Mokum as a carrot for home gardens. I’ve been seeing carrot tops in recipes for soups lately. I love vegetable soup, so I’ll try it this year as a component for stock, if not an actual ingredient for the soup itself. If I don’t care for it, they won’t go to waste. I know if I chop them up, my chickens will eat them. I’m also trying a new introduction of green beans this year. Gurney’s also introduces Accelerate green beans this year. They are promised to be a heavy-yielding plant, resistant to many diseases, and ready to eat in 54 days. I’m incredibly partial to green beans. These beans might be the world’s most perfect food, in my mind. I like 68 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

to just heat them through, leaving a little bit of crunch. Add a bit of butter and some salt, and it’s a heavenly eat. There have been a few kinds of green beans that have disappointed, of course. There was the variety that offered to sprout the beans above the leaves for easy harvest. Great idea, but they were small, and they got sun scalded very quickly. I don’t even remember what the variety was called, but I’m always looking for an easy way to grow and harvest good food. This one fell short. Then there was the purple bean that was easier to harvest, because it’s purple, after all. Once heated, the purple fades, and it’s a green bean leaving behind very pretty blue water. But it’s not easier to harvest. The stems and the leaves all have a purple caste, so they blend into their surroundings nicely, making them no easier to pick than a green bean in green foliage. I’m always drawn to the pictures and descriptions of savoyed leaf greens, like spinach, and cabbage. If a vegetable is savoyed, it has wrinkled and crinkled leaves. These vegetables are beautiful — and difficult to wash. I can almost guarantee that all of these leaves will still contain crunch components, like sand and soil, after your best washing and spinning. The only thing I buy that is savoyed is ornamental kale. It’s beautiful. This year I’m also going to grow celeriac again. Celeriac is root celery. The first time I grew it several years ago I dug it up and thought it had been deformed. It was “hairy,” and I had no idea what was wrong with it. Turns out it was a perfect specimen, though it took me several years after I had disposed of it to learn that. And finally, I want to recommend Green Ice cucumbers. The seed is only available from Farmers Seed and Nursery out of Faribault and it’s spendy. The skins never get bitter, and it’s burpless. That is an important trait for some of us! Get your seeds now, because next month, we need to start seeds. Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 69

Your Style By Ann Rosenquist Fee

How to Wear Your Crafty-Crafts I

Without Looking Like the Awkward Cover Model on a Knitting-for-Beginners Book

t’s Monday night so here they are. Seven knitters and their projects spilled out across pushed-together tables at the Coffee Hag. Seven pairs of hands threading and poking in nonstop motion. The shape of the group shifts when Melissa has to leave for belly dancing, or Blair finally arrives, but the comings and goings are just part of the pulse. It’s the beat of stuff getting made by women who are never not-making. Entrancing? For sure. A tiny bit maddening to the onlooker who still hasn’t finished the scarf she started in 1995? Yup. There’s a sort of gulf between the knitters and the rest of us. “Us” with our unfinished scarves, “them” in the woolen arm-warmers they whipped up this morning. Not a hostile gulf, but a distance nonetheless. It raises a question heretofore unspoken in style journalism, and I think it’s about time we put it on the table, which is an easy thing for me to do because I’m on the other side of that gulf at a table with absolutely no knitting project cluttering it up: Are habitual crafters fundamentally different from the rest of us in some predetermined way? I mean, are you born crafty? Or is it a choice? Hard to tell, say the crafters at the Hag. It feels plenty physical, this urge to create scarf after scarf after sweater after afghan, but there’s no good way to know if it’s nature or nurture. These women all grew up in living rooms that felt a lot like the table they’re at right now. Their moms quilted while the family watched television. Their aunt sewed Barbie clothes. “Making” was valued. It’s what you did. Which means that as kids, these women were encouraged to use their brains and hands together. They learned how to turn would-be failures into do-overs that were maybe better than the original plan. They were made to see mundane functional things like winter scarves and socks as opportunities for artistic and personal expression. And this gets at the other question raised by the Monday night knitters and their crafty craft-wearing sisters and brothers in coffee shops worldwide: How do they wear that stuff, those obnoxiously wide infinity shawls and crocheted-hat-with-floppy-flowers and pink TARDIS scarves, with so much panache? The TARDIS scarf, Blair McLaughlin explains, was inspired by a 1988 episode of Doctor Who, in which the blue time machine known as the TARDIS gets painted pink in a movement to eliminate visual depressants. Blair’s scarf is seriously pink. It’s got tiny crystals sewn atop every perfect roof. Blair’s hat, also hand-crafted, doesn’t necessarily go with the scarf in a conventional 70 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

way. There’s not much mainstream-fashionable about Blair’s ensemble, and yet hands-down she’s the most stylish person in the room. Her pieces hang together with something deeper and stronger than trend. She looks great because she’s wearing her work with delight and pride and soul. Which are what’s missing from the face of the cover model of your standard knitting-forbeginners book. Someone who gets paid to model a hat-scarfsweater combo just doesn’t strike the same proud pose as the person who made the stuff. Conversely, it’s impossible to walk around the world wearing a thing you made and not beam with pride. If you’re younger than 12, you might announce it. “I made this,” you’d say, and the adults at the nearest table would smile and praise you and silently wish they could get away with something like that. If you’re a grownup, you don’t need to say a word, you just keep making and wearing and beaming. The effect is the same. It makes the rest of us look. It makes us wonder if we could get away with that. It makes “us” on the other side of the gulf offer you a twenty for those arm-warmers, which you accept so you can buy yarn for the matching tube hats you’re planning to make for the kids, and we slip the warmers on our own hands and walk away grateful for a small slice of your flair. Ann Rosenquist Fee is executive director of the Arts Center of Saint Peter and a vocalist with The Frye. She blogs at

HI, I’M JOE TAYLOR. Overton, Texas. What keeps me coming back to the Trail? It’s just absolutely sensational.

I have people tell me what they’ve spent playing one round at Pebble Beach and a night at the hotel, or going to Pinehurst for a couple rounds. We do the entire week, travel, hotel, green fees, good meals and everything for the price of one day at these places. And it’s absolutely a sensational place to come. TO PLAN YOUR VISIT to Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, visit or call 1.800.949.4444 today.

Coming Attractions: February 1-8 -- St. Peter Winterfest Events include polar bear plunge, boy scout turkey dinner and more 4-8 -- MSU Theatre presents “Assassins” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday -- Andreas Theatre, Minnesota State University -$22 regular, $19 senior and youth, $15 current MSU students -- 507-389-6661 5 -- MSU Performance Series: Peter Mulvey 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 current MSU students -507-389-5549 8 -- MSU Performance Series and KMSU The Maverick presents The New Orleans Suspects 7:30 p.m. -- Hooligans Neighborhood Pub -- 1400 E. Madison Ave., Mankato -- $15 advance, $18 at door -507-389-5549

10 -- MSU Performance Series: Erik Koskinen Band 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 current MSU students -507-389-5549

16 -- MSU Faculty Recital: Tyler Sieh 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota Stat University -- $9 general admission, $7 students -507-389-5549

12 -- MSU Performance Series: Scottie Miller Trio 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 current MSU students -507-389-5549

19 -- Bunny Just Piano Festival: Robert Meany 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 current MSU students -507-389-5549

13-14 -- Dead Days of Winter 2015 4 p.m. -- Mankato Brewery -- 1119 Center St., North Mankato -- $15 daily pass, $30 weekend pass, $25 pre-sale price -- 21+ -- 507-386-2337

19-21 -- MSU Theatre presents “Life Is A Dream” 7:30 p.m. -- Ted Paul Theater, Minnesota State University -- $16 regular, $14 senior and youth, $11 current MSU students -- 507-389-6661

14 -- The Gustavus Wind Orchestra 2015 Home Concert 1:30 p.m. -- Bjorling Recital Hall, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 14 -- The Gustavus Choir’s International Concert Tour Home Concert 7:30 p.m. -- Christ Chapel, Gustavus Adolphus College -- free -507-933-7013 15 -- Mankato Symphony Orchestra: Music on the Hill: Autobiography 2 p.m. -- Our Lady of Good Counsel -170 Good Counsel Drive, Mankato -$17 advanced premium, $12 advanced general, $20 at door premium, $15 at door general 15 -- MSU Performance Series: The Blue Hazards 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 current MSU students -507-389-5549

72 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

22 -- Bunny Just Piano Festival: Heidi Leathwood 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $12 general, $11 current MSU students -507-389-5549 24 -- MSU Concert Bands 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $9 general, $7 students -- 507-389-5549 26-March 1 -- MSU Theatre presents “Life Is A Dream” 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday -- Ted Paul Theater, Minnesota State University -$16 regular, $14 senior and youth, $11 current MSU students -- 507-389-6661 28 -- MSU Jazzfest 2015 7:30 p.m. -- Elias J. Halling Recital Hall, Minnesota State University -- $15 general, $13 current MSU students -507-389-5549

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

ECFE Holiday Open House

1. Children met with Santa for Christmas pictures. 2. Attending the ECFE Holiday Open House is a great way to get into the holiday spirit before Christmas. 3. One of the most popular activities was writing a wish list to Santa. Kids could even mail their letters to the North Pole. 4. Each room contained a different activity, such as making reindeer hats. 5. Both children and parents could enjoy some cookies and milk while reading a book or two about the holiday season. 6. Another activity the children could do was coloring candy canes.







MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 73

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

GSR Fine Arts Festival 1. The festival had multiple items that were generated from pottery, organic fibers, jewelry, sculptures and many more. 2. Brian Wendt provided marvelous bird houses that were all hand crafted. 3. Paul and Helene Baumgartner were among the many talented performers at the event. 4. Dave Angell shares his joy of photographing birds with a customer. 5. Johan Potgieter is shown here demonstrating some of the techniques he uses on a piece of leather. 6. Ahmelie Skistad converses with a customer about her product called Slox.





6 5

74 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

DAkota 38+2 Memorial Ride 1. Dakota elders and community members sing to begin the ceremony at Reconciliation Park in downtown Mankato. 2. The crowd listens as spiritual leaders speak. 3. People gather around as a man plays a flute before the riders arrive. 4. Runners finish the last leg of their journey over Veterans Memorial Bridge and across Riverfront Drive. 5. The winter warrior statue looks out over the crowd as the ceremony takes place. 6. Riders make their way down Riverfront Drive toward Reconciliation Park on the last leg of their ride.



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MANKATO MAGAZINE • February 2015 • 75




By Pete Steiner

FUNNY: like Father, like Son Mike Leech — dreamer and comedy writer


or decades, Tom Leech sold Toyotas in the Mankato area for Heintz. One of the nicest guys in the world. He’d often tell his loyal customers a joke. Then on weekends, on the side, he’d perform Christian comedy. So it’s not surprising his son, Mike, would develop his own wry sense of humor and take to comedy. What is a bit amazing is how FAR the son has taken that comedy. More on that shortly. A few years back, Tom and his wife moved to Texas to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren. But in December, Tom and Mike, here to visit family, stopped by the radio studio, Tom wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt — again, the guy is always good for a little outrageousness. Mike was garbed in a jersey with the logo of a production company of friends of his who do work for Saturday Night Live. The pair wanted to update us on how things are going. Herewith, the story of a talented son who followed a dream. •••• Mike Leech graduated from East High before continuing his education at Minnesota State Mankato. About eight years ago, he enrolled in my adjunct class there, “Writing and Speaking for Broadcast.” As usual, I did my first-day survey of “Why are you here taking this class?” When Mike answered that he hoped to write for David Letterman, I tried not to smirk — doesn’t everyone want a gig like that? I said something to the effect, “Right, sure, it’s great to set your goals high!” O, ye of little faith! If you go today to YouTube and search for “djleech,” scroll past the rapper of similar name, and you’ll find a bunch of bits uploaded by Mike’s brother that were written and/or acted by Mike. Some of them feature him onstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater with Letterman – satirical bits like how to protect your online privacy, how to cover a bad tattoo and more. Oh, yeah, and Mike is the “government official” who comes on stage to tell Dave, the show is being cancelled. “Because you, David Letterman, are a national treasure!” ••••

Of course, none of this stuff “just happens.” It was at his Mom’s suggestion that Mike decided to do something more challenging for his required college internship. Having been a devoted fan of Letterman “since I was nine,” Mike applied for an internship in the Big Apple, at the Late Show. Which he got. Eventually, that proverbial crack in the door appeared: an opening in the Late Show mailroom. From many who applied, Mike got the entrylevel spot. Between internship and mailroom gig, he toiled for six years. He says he “maxed out his student loans” to afford the move. Fortunately he knew a 76 • February 2015 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

professor who had a small efficiency apartment in New York — with a shared bathroom, and a roommate to boot. He says he loved walking daily from the apartment near the UN to the Sullivan Theater — New York is filled with great, quirky sights and people. All the while, Mike kept writing jokes and lists and scenarios, whatever he thought might be right for the star to use on the show. He tried handing his stuff to the head writer as he walked by each day, but never got anywhere via that route. You know: who’s this kid who like so many others, actually thinks he can write for a legendary comic? Finally, though, one of the assistant writers actually looked at some of Mike’s material and said it was good enough to show to the production staff. The rest is, well, history. ••••

Mike was tapped to write for Letterman’s most famous bit, the Top 10 List. Eventually, he was named an assistant writer, and in 2013, 15 months ago, he was signed on as a full-time writer. It’s rewarding, sure, but also demanding and stressful. Telling his story while he was here on vacation, he said he can never “get away from it all.” He checks numerous websites daily to continuously keep up on everything that’s happening, whether it’s a speech by the President or societal trends or celebrity gaffes or an announcement about the Grammys or Oscars. Despite all the headiness for a kid from a small Midwestern town, the impending departure of Letterman in May represents a big challenge. The 30-year-old Leech says he will almost certainly stay with Letterman through the show’s finale: “It’s been such a big part of my life.” While doubtful he’ll be retained as a writer by new host, Stephen Colbert, Mike says he would love writing for “the most-talented guy on TV.” He does expect Colbert to keep a few of Letterman’s staff and to make a successful transition from his fake-news persona on the Comedy Channel: “We’ll see a new side of him [but] it’ll work out.” So if not for Colbert, for whom? Mike says he will definitely apply at Saturday Night Live, where, as mentioned before, he has friends, and where he once turned cue cards for the actors. SNL would be “another dream come true.” He wants to stay in New York. As for the other main option for a TV writer, LA, Mike says, you need a car, and he doesn’t want to deal with the traffic. Meanwhile, his old and once-skeptical professor is not about to sell him short again.

Peter Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE.







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