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2 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


ANKATO M

FEATURE S August 2013 Volume 8, Issue 8

magazine

24

Eating ethnic

Diners don’t have to travel far and wide to find worldly fare.

14

The delicious season Fruits are the season’s splendor.

18

Small towns, big flavor

A tour through the heartland of area dining.

32

Day Trip Destinations: Lake Minnetonka The lake of leisure.

About the Cover

April Graff, registered dietitian for Hy-Vee locations in Mankato, shares some fruit inspiration in the Mankato CabinetCraft show kitchens located in the Mankato Design Center. Photo by The Free Press Media photographer Pat Christman. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 3


MANKATO

DEPAR TMENTS

magazine

10

6 From the Editor A litle food for thought 8 Odds ‘n’ Ends 10 Introductions Faces of the Farmers Market 12 The Gallery Fringe Festival, Cindy Breck, RibFest 28 Garden Chat A bumper crop of growing pains 30 That’s Life Picture perfect 34 Then and Now Spinner’s Bar 36 Your Tastes Refrigerator-ready jam in a jiffy 37 Coming Attractions Events to check out in August 38 Your Health Non-drug treatments for high blood

12

pressure

44 Remember When Cab’s grandson: Meditation on an

earbud world

Coming in September Gas up and grab the ammunition. This month, we’ll be exploring a dustier, dirtier, ourdoors-ier version of the Minnesota River valley.

CORRECT I ONS

28

34

- In the June issue of Mankato Magazine, a photograph was incorrectly credited as a file photo in the article headlined “140 years of making music in Mankato.” The photograph of People’s Fair on page 35 should have been attributed to Kristofer Kathmann. - In the listings for Best Furniture Store on page 22 of the July issue of the Mankato Magazine, Ashley Furniture HomeStore tied for second place. The magazine listing cited only Ashley Furniture.

36 4 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

37

- In the story about Culver’s on page 16 of the July issue of the Mankato Magazine, the writer references that burgers are cooked in 0-trans-fat canola oil. The restaurant does use canola oil to cook its deep-fried goods, such as french fries; however, Culver’s does not use canola oil for its burgers.


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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 5


MANKATO

From The Editor

magazine

August 2013 • VOLUME 8, ISSUE 8 PUBLISHER James P. Santori EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Tanner Kent EDITOR CONTRIBUTING Nell Musolf WRITERS Pete Steiner Jean Lundquist Marie Wood Wess McConville Leticia Gonzales Heidi Sampson Hilary Urban Emre K. Erku PHOTOGRAPHERS John Cross Pat Christman PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey

CIRCULATION Denise Zernechel DIRECTOR

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. $19.95 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Tanner Kent at 344-6354, or e-mail tkent@mankatofreepress.com. For advertising, call 344-6336, or e-mail mankatomag@mankatofreepress.com.

6 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

By Joe Spear

A little food for thought

I

t’s hard to go wrong with food as a theme for magazine content. Besides being the sustainer of life, food offers many opportunities for good stories. We generally put a lot of effort into thinking about food, buying food and making food. The market for food is one of the last mass markets. Everyone needs it and mostly everyone wants it. At some point, food has power over our senses of smell certainly, but sight as well. There’s an allure to a neon sign that says “Good Food” lighting up a highway as one approaches a roadhouse. The neon restaurant lights may very well tap those primordial instincts that remind us that at the dawn of civilization, food – sustenance -- was associated with a glowing light as our ancestors lit that first fire to give flare to that raw meat they’d become bored with. The study of food, of course, has become a science. We know fruits and vegetables are healthy, and our Free Press food and nutrition columnist and Hy Vee nutritionist April Graff is happy to impart her wisdom on the nutritional values of fruit while promoting its economic value as well. Says Graff: “People will spend $4 or $5 on a bag of chips or a 12-pack of soda but then hesitate to spend a few dollars on strawberries or peaches. But if they use their grocery money on fresh fruits and vegetables, they’ll be spending their money much more wisely and also be making a healthy choice for their family.” Food is the basis for community gathering in places small and large. This month’s magazine offers a number of short profiles on them. The Cottage Café in Amboy was transformed from a small cottagestyle gas station, and has become a very popular community gathering place in southern Blue Earth County, drawing visitors far and wide. The Cottage Café is so small that you might have to eat and sit with someone you don’t know. All the better. That’s the European style that

owner Lisa Lindberg promotes. The Thunder Bar and Restaurant in Good Thunder offers the same community gathering niche. Transformed from an old bank building, the restaurant draws farmers, church groups and a ladies birthday club to the hot turkey commercials and home-made mashed potatoes among other hearty fare provided by Jenny Frank and her family. Rolene Fromm joins the ranks of small-town restaurateurs in Eagle Lake, having run Uncle Albert’s for almost 20 years, a restaurant known for its potato salad, of which, says Fromm, hundreds of gallons are sent out every year. Calvin and Jennifer Howard came back to their hometown of Winnebago to start the Winnebago Grill after both completed their stints in the Army. The met working in a Blue Earth restaurant and eventually started dating. They joined the Army together and married and now they’ve come full circle. With a hometown Winnebago theme, you can find old high school uniforms lining the walls as well as clippings from old yearbook comments from half a century reminding people of the places they’ve been and the times that have passed. If food can help unite a community, it can also unite the world. The Mankato/North Mankato area has ample examples of that. From Lebanon to Somalia, from Vietnam to India, international fare has, through the perseverance of immigrants, made its way to Main Street Mankato. Food remains something that is universally accepted and understood as a way to feel good. There will always be a market for “Good Food.”

M

Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382.


Erik, our Produce Manager, has connections. Every summer we receive a truckload of Michigan Peaches direct from the grower. Sweet, ripe, and juicy. Perfect for canning, freezing and eating fresh. Reserve yours today! Sign-up at the store; call 507-934-4880; or e-mail: produce@stpeterfood.coop. Expect them mid to late August. 228 Mulberry Street, St. Peter, MN stpeterfood.coop Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Everyone is welcome everyday!

an g i h c i m

peaches

coming soon...direct from the grower

reserve yours today!

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 7


Odds n’ Ends

By Tanner Kent

This Day in History

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The Hotel Nicollet in St. Peter. | Nicollet County Historical Society Aug. 16, 1920: A trio of officers raided the Hotel Nicollet in St. Peter after being tipped off that a liquor still was operating in the establishment. The night clerk, Evan Davis, was arrested and fined $100, though authorities believed he was only an accomplice. The crude still fashioned with a kerosene can as a boiler was concealed in the cellar and capable of producing four gallons a day. It was the first still found in St. Peter. Aug. 5, 1960: Theodore Rausch of Mankato was hit with a barrage of shotgun pellets while catching frogs for fishing on Lake Ballantyne. The pellets were fired from a .410-gauge shotgun fired by 15-year-old Rochester native Robert Koperski, who was hunting birds when he fired a shot through some brush and did not see Rausch. The boy was struck three times in the left side, twice in the back of the head and once each in the groin and ankle. The injuries, however, were only minor. Aug. 4, 1911: “Never in its history has such a wave of crime swept down the Minnesota valley,” proclaimed the editorial page of the Mankato newspaper after a rash of criminal activity. A few days earlier, a laborer in Le Sueur was murdered for a few dollars and his head placed on a railroad track to conceal the crime. That week in Nicollet, a trio of bandits was interrupted during a latenight robbery of the post office. In Mankato, a 15-year-old boy was accused of shooting two toddlers with an air rifle, perhaps blinding one. And in the area, homes in Kasota and Cleveland were burglarized. Aug. 3, 1877: On Christmas Day in 1876, George Kiefe’s 2-year-old daughter was munching on hazelnuts when she swallowed a portion of the shell. When she began exhibiting symptoms of disease, doctors discovered she’d swallowed the piece into her lungs. Treatment brought no relief. But, during a coughing fit on Aug. 3, the child rid herself of the shell, her symptoms subsiding almost immediately.


Ask the Expert: Avoiding the ‘summer slide’

By Nell Musolf

Reading is critical

W

ith school opening in just a few short weeks, middle-school teacher Laurie Putze offers the following tips to help students prepare for hitting the books again. “Read everything!” Putze says. “Join a library book reading program. Barnes and Noble is offering a reading program to earn a free book for children through sixth grade.” Putze suggests asking beginning readers what the words say on food items, menus, magazines and grocery store fliers. Putze also encourages parents to subscribe to kid-oriented magazines such as Time for Kids, Junior Scholastic and Science Works. “Comic books are terrific for students who are captivated by pictures and action heroes,” Putze says. Scrabble and In a Pickle are word games that kids enjoy and will help them learn new words. When it comes to math, Putze suggests using money as an incentive. “The next time your children are with you grocery shopping, bring the calculator and have your kids put in the amount of the items you purchase. It may take a little extra time, but the benefits are extraordinary. Seeing the final outcome will not only help their math skills but will also give them a sense of ownership in the family expenditures,” Putze says. Putze likes the following math websites for students: - Themint.org - pbskids.org - www.coolmath4kids.com/ Finally, Putze likes technology because of its immediate engagement, but she believes adults can have far more of an influence on children than anything else. “Some of the best experiences in learning are when the parent, sibling or another familiar adult becomes an active partner,” Putze says. “Read to your child, play games and expose your child to lots of stimulating experiences such as museums, parks, hiking and fishing. Enjoy building those healthy minds during what’s left of the summer.”

News to use: Road trip apps for kids By The Washington Post

T

he family iPad or Mom’s smartphone can offer nearly endless entertainment options. But how do you choose? We waded through the many options out there to come up with some good geography-based apps that can keep you occupied (and learning) for hours. We also threw in a couple of apps good for just killing time. So sit back and enjoy the scenery! • Barefoot World Atlas, by Touch Press. Age 8 and older. $4.99 for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. It features a globe that you can spin. Tap the many countries, land formations, animals, people or buildings to learn more about them. • Geography Drive, by Spinlight Studio. Age 8 and older. $3.99 for iPad and Android. Correctly answering questions about a state allows you not only to drive to a bordering state but also to earn money. With enough cash, you can buy gas, a new car or a plane ticket to California. Your goal is to earn enough

money to see the whole country. • Jazzy World Tour, by The Melody Book. Age 6 and older. $4.99 for iPad. Take a musical tour of seven countries. Tap a flag on the world map, and listen to the unique musical sounds of that place. Then learn about the instruments that make the sounds. Listen to how different music sounds from around the globe. • State Bingo, by Niyaa. Age 7 and older. $2.99 for iPad. Take a road trip in a cool red car! Choose your difficulty level and then a route you want to drive, such as eastbound or westbound. Answering questions correctly will get you from one state to the next. Or you can just answer questions about states to fill up a card with stars. It’s like bingo, except you have to think a little. If you get stuck, you can always check out the wellmarked map for hints. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 9


Introductions

Interviews

and photos by

Tanner Kent

Denny Guldan operates his farm with his three children, carrying on a family legacy that predates Minnesota’s statehood. | Tanner Kent

Faces of the Farmers Market

In May, it’s asparagus, bedding plants and green onions. June’s strawberries and peas give way to peppers, potatoes and squash in July. In August comes the sweet corn, apples and garlic. And by fall, it’s time for melons and pumpkins. For 37 years and counting, the Mankato Farmers Market has served as a regional destination for locally grown garden delights and handmade home goods and woodcrafts. But the delicious and colorful bounty often steals the attention from the gardeners, growers and artisans who toil all year long to make the market a reality. So, for this installment of Introductions, let’s get to know a few:

Denny Guldan

With a family farm history that predates Minnesota’s 10 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

statehood, the New Ulm fruit and vegetable farmer has firm roots in southern Minnesota soil. He’s been selling the harvest of his 25-acre farm at the market since the early 1990s and offers one of the venue’s largest selections of vegetables. In addition, Guldan offers a stunning variety of jams and jellies, from traditional favorites to more exotic flavors such as strawberry-lemon, tomato, and green jalapeno. Guldan operates his farm with the help of his three children -- Tim, Emily and Samantha – and takes pride in saying that his is a “family business.” Mankato Magazine: Is there any way to describe much labor goes into this kind of harvest? Denny Guldan: More time than I have (laughs). I grow 25


acres of vegetables, so it’s a full-time job. Plus, we hire lots of kids to help out during picking time. MM: What keeps you motivated to do this year in and year out? DG: I lost my wife to colon cancer in September. She’s the one that got me started coming to the Farmers Market. I wanted to try it one year without her to see if we could still do it. So far, we’re doing OK. I didn’t realize she did so many of tasks that I took for granted.

proud of? EH: This year I started onions from seed – which is not necessarily the easiest thing to do in Minnesota. The trick is to start them early and use a deep tray. … Now, I’ve got 15,000 onions to sell.

Anna Taylor began making soap more than a decade ago after trying the process as part of a science fair project for her daughter. She now sells dozens of handmade varieties. | Tanner Kent

Anna Taylor

Ed Hohenstein operates Back 40 Acres with his wife. | Tanner Kent

Ed Hohenstein

Ed Hohenstein shed a life of chasing dollars in 2010 for a chance to grow his own career on a two-acre patch of land between St. Peter and Nicollet. Now, he and his wife operate Back 40 Acres, a produce farm that demands a full-time commitment. Using largely natural growing methods – Hohenstein even makes his own soil blocks from composted manure – Back 40 Acres is now in its second year at the Mankato Farmers Market. MM: How much do you work in your garden? EH: I grow in two acres. So, pretty much from May to mid-October, it’s beyond a full-time job. I work six days a week and average about 12 hours a day. In August, when the melons start coming in, then it’s a seven-day-a-week job. MM: What inspired you to start Back 40 Acres? EH: I’ve always liked growing stuff. It started years ago with just a little space to grow what I called my “salsa factory” – peppers, tomatoes and onions. After several years, I just kind of got tired of chasing work. So, in 2010, I started this. MM: Of all the things you grow, is there one you’re most

For 16 years, Lewisville artisan Anna Taylor has been selling her selection of hand-crafted soaps, lotions and bath salts at the farmers market. And to think: It all began with a science fair project. Taylor said she and her daughter decided to make soap for the science fair because they had just read “Little House on the Prairie” together. Taylor was fascinated by the process and has churned out countless batches of soap in the years since. MM: Is it a lot of work to make all this soap? AT: It takes a ton of work. During the season, I make soap every Sunday – eight batches at a time with 55 bars in each batch. It is totally labor-intensive. MM: What separates your soaps from those folks might find on store shelves? AT: Mine are all-natural, all-vegetable with no chemicals and scents derived from essential oils. Since the recipe is one-fourth glycerine, they are really moisturizing and lather great. They don’t disappear and last forever. In fact, the most common complaint that I get is that they last too long and people want to try a new scent. I haven’t changed my prices in 16 years. I want people to buy them and I want people to use them. MM: What scent is your most popular? AT: People love honey-almond oatmeal. Personally, I’m a patchouli girl. MM: The process has to get tiresome. What keeps you motivated? AT: I just love it. The process still amazes me. You take your ingredients, put them all together and you get soap out of it. I’ve made hundreds of batches and it still amazes me every time. M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 11


The Gallery

By Tanner Kent

Greg Abbott’s “DiRections” has been selected for the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival. Abbott joins a trio of productions with southern Minnesota ties that were selected at random to participate. | Graphic submitted by Greg Abbott

Fringe Festival jackpot

Southern Minnesota to be well-represented in annual theatre showcase

S

outhern Minnesota has hit the Fringe lottery. All 176 productions in the 2013 edition of the Minnesota Fringe Festival – held annually in a variety of Twin Cities stage venues – were selected at random during a February lottery. As such, there is no judging process, no merit-based acceptance policy and nothing but absolute democracy in winnowing the voluminous field of submissions into a manageable final tally. This year, a trio of productions with Mankato ties were lucky enough to be selected to participate in the theatre showcase to be held Aug. 1-11: “Vanquished” by Eagle Lake playwright tdbarna, “DiRections” by North Mankato playwright Greg Abbott, and “Shine” by Minnesota State University graduates Shelley Whitehead and Robb Krueger. In addition, several productions feature Minnesota State University theatre students and graduates in acting roles (for a full list visit: www.mnsu.edu/theatre/ special%20events/fringefestival13.html). Tom Barna, who publishes under the name tdbarna, debuted “Vanquished” a few years ago during a pair of performances at Pub 500 that were directed by Whitehead. Based on a true story, the one-man play recounts the experiences of a single man who struggles to find happiness within a life that has repeatedly intersected him with some of history’s most tragic moments. Travis Carpenter was the lead actor in the original performances and called the role “the most emotionally challenging and demanding I’ve ever been associated with.” Mankato’s Taylor Anderson will reprise the role for the Fringe Festival under the direction of Leslie Dupree-Cady. The play will be performed on Aug. 2, 3, 6, 9 and 11 at the HUGE Theatre in Minneapolis. “It’s exciting,” Barna said. “The HUGE has its own fan base. It’s small, perfect for our production.” Abbott’s “DiRections” is a comical, if technologically disturbing, exploration of a culture that has become overly dependent on its technology. In a trio of vignettes, 12 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

characters find themselves tempted, scolded, stalked and isolated by their cell phones. Under the direction of Molly Smith, the play will be performed Aug. 1, 3, 4, 9 and 11 at the Illusion Theatre in Minneapolis. “It’s a cautionary tale about trusting technology over your gut,” he said. “Shine” was Minnesota State University’s 2012-13 touring children’s production. The musical is about a new student in school and the bullies she encounters. But something magical happens when kids in the group decide they don’t want to be a part of this gang. The play was written by MSU graduate Shelley Whitehead of Waseca, with music by fellow graduate Robb Krueger. “Shine” will be performed Aug. 2, 4, 5, 7, and 10 at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage. M

What you need to know • Held Aug. 1-11 at 16 different Twin Cities theaters. • 176 plays chosen to participate from lottery. • The final performance slot – 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 11 – is reserved for each venue’s top-selling show. • All performances are 60 minutes or less and no late seating is allowed. • For tickets, information or a full schedule, visit: www.fringefestival.org/2013/. • Productions in the Fringe Festival rely on word-of-mouth marketing to attract spectators to performances. The Fringe Festival website hosts a “My Fringe 5” feature which allows fans to post their most anticipated productions. And during the festival, audience members post reviews on the Fringe website.


Waiting on a mystery By Nell Musolf

W

henever artist Cindy Breck sits down to paint, she’s starting another three-hour mystery. “Every portrait I paint is a three-hour mystery to me. I never know if it is going to turn out until at least three hours into it and sometimes more,” Breck said. The subjects of her mysteries are usually celebrities or self-portraits. Breck recently had some of her acrylic paintings displayed at the Taylor Library in North Mankato. Among the celebrities on display were Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp. Breck paints her pictures after studying photographs of stars that she has found in magazines such as People and Time. She chooses celebrities on their recognition factor. “I usually pick celebrities that I know. I don’t know too many of the younger celebrities, so I stick with the ones I recognize.” Breck has sent some of her portraits to a few of the celebrities she’s painted and has heard back from Rosie McDonnell, Shirley MacLaine and President Barack Obama among others. “Hearing from Shirley MacLaine was the most exciting,” Breck recalled. “I was going to see my mom right after I heard from Shirley and I smiled all the way from Mankato to Waseca.” MacLaine told her how much she liked Breck’s painting and that it had found a home in MacLaine’s house in New Mexico. Breck began painting as a 7-year-old when a friend showed her how to draw a clown. Breck quickly became fascinated with drawing eyes and began to cover pages and pages with different eyes. “Eyes are beautiful. Every person is different and every

eye is different ,” Breck said. As an adult, Breck took up painting again in 1995 when her son was 9 months old and she painted a portrait of him. The portrait reminded her of something that Norman Cindy Breck paints portraits of various celebrities, R o c k w e l l often sending the subject a copy of her work. | might have Submitted photo done and inspired her to continue painting. In addition to painting, Breck is also a singer and songwriter. She describes her music as a blend of easy listening and alternative and has released four CDs. Breck has worked with Paul Durenberger and has performed at the Coffee Hag and Savoy’s. She’d love to one day have a concert with an orchestra behind her while she performed her own songs. In addition, the prolific artist wrote a memoir that covers her life from ages 3 to 20. “It is a dream to see my memoir made into a movie,” Breck said. M

MSU grad returns for RibFest 2013 During Mankato’s 2012 edition of ribbers for RibFest, joining Texas RibFest, Pat Nelson found that he Thunder, Chicago BBQ, Uncle Bub’s was almost as popular as the ribs and and Famous Dave’s National Team. brisket he was barbecuing. As an advocate of dry barbecue, The former Minnesota State Nelson’s secret is in his rub --- a complex University wrestler, who is now a combination of 38 different herbs and regular on the traveling barbecue spices that he developed over six circuit as the owner of Charleston, straight months of trial and error. S.C.-based Big Boned BBQ, For each competition, Nelson said he participated in RibFest for the first averages about 1,000 racks of ribs as time last year. well as up to 500 pounds of pork and In previous years, timing and 400 pounds of brisket. He carries two circumstance prevented his commercial smokers with him in a appearance. So coming back to the moving truck that also carries enough home of his alma mater in 2012, he Pat Nelson serves up some meat during a sampling hickory wood to last the summer. event on the MSU campus in 2012. | The Free Press file said, was a long overdue. This year’s RibFest will be held Aug. “It was really amazing,” he said. photo. 1-4 at Riverfront Park. The musical “Apparently, I knew a lot more people lineup includes: Blackhawk (Aug. 1), than I thought in Mankato. I was blown away by all the Everclear (Aug. 2), Loverboy (Aug. 3) and the Mary Jane support.” Alm Band (Aug. 4). Tickets are $5 and available day of show Buoyed by the response, Nelson said there was no only. question of his return this year. For more information, visit http://www. In 2013, Big Boned BBQ is one of five participating verizonwirelesscentermn.com/RiverfrontPark/ M MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 13


April Graff is the dietitian for Hy-Vee locations in Mankato: “It’s amazing how many different kinds of fruits are out there.” | Pat Christman

T he delicious

season Fruits are the season’s splendor By Nell Musolf

14 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


W

hile fresh produce is available throughout the entire year, summer is when many fruits are at their peak. From melons to strawberries to peaches, the smell of fruit is often mingled with memories of the days of summer. Here are some tips, ideas and inspirations to help you get the most of the delicious season:

Clean fruits are healthy fruits Washing fruit before consuming is an important step to rinse away any harmful chemicals that might have been used during the growing cycle. Experts recommend always rinsing or soaking produce before consumption. For smooth-skinned produce, rinsing in distilled water or very clean, cold tap water is sufficient. Some experts suggest using a mixture of one part vinegar or lemon juice and three parts water to spray produce before rinsing. Fruit and vegetable washes are also sold commercially, but studies have not found them any more effective than home techniques. Produce with uneven surfaces or folds (such as broccoli) should be soaked for one to two minutes. Fruits with thick skins can also be scrubbed with a fruit/vegetable scrubber. More delicate fruits — raspberries, blueberries, strawberries — can be soaked in distilled water for a few minutes with a drop or two of fresh lemon juice, if desired. Use a paper towel to dry fruit and vegetables to remove any remaining chemical residue.

Buy in season and save money

People often believe that buying fresh produce is an expensive proposition. Not so, according to April Graff, nutritionist for Hy-Vee’s Mankato locations. “When produce is bought in season, it’s usually very economical,” Graff said. “People will spend $4 or $5 on a bag of chips or a 12-pack of soda but then hesitate to spend a few dollars on strawberries or peaches. But if they use their grocery money on fresh fruits and vegetables, they’ll be spending their money much more wisely and also be making a healthy choice for their family.” Some of the fruit options that are in season during the summer months include: a variety of melons, mangoes, strawberries, blueberries and papaya. Graff is a radio guest on KYSM 103.5 FM from 7:50-8:50 a.m. on Thursdays where she talks about nutrition. She has been bringing two different fruits in every week since January and has yet to repeat one. “It’s amazing how many different kinds of fruits are out there,” Graff observed. “People get into the habit of buying the same things over and over. They’ll walk down the produce aisle and pick up apples, bananas, green beans and potatoes. It’s all about not being afraid to try something new. Introduce a new fruit to your family once and month and see what happens.” Feeding your family healthy foods is a win-win situation, Graff promised. “I feel like Supermom when I feed my kids a meal that I know is good for them” Graff said. Appetite tamer Mankato wellness coach Rhonda Anderson of Symmetry Nutrition Club is a big fan of fruit. As someone who helps people find healthier ways to live, Anderson has some tips when it comes to getting the most out of your daily fruit intake. • Wash fruit carefully and thoroughly. A quick rinse under running water won’t do the trick. Take the time to make sure

all chemicals have been washed off before eating fruit. • Eat the rainbow. Purple, orange, yellow and red can translate into grapes, oranges or melons, pineapple, bananas and strawberries or watermelon. • Try to eat seven servings of fruits and/or vegetables a day. • Freeze in-season fruit so it you can have it during the off season. “Blueberries are great to freeze,” Anderson said. “Wash the berries thoroughly, dry with a paper towel, spread on waxed paper and flash freeze for 20 minutes. The berries can then be put in a container and kept in the freezer for a later date. Load up the freezer while you can.” When it comes to watching your weight, Anderson said fruit is an excellent choice for a late-night snack. “Fruit takes longer to consume and everyone has heard that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that it’s full. Often, by the time you finish a piece of fruit, you’re no longer hungry.”

Avoid the dungeon While most people stash the fresh fruit they’ve purchased in the bins specifically designed for fruits and vegetables at the bottom of their refrigerators, Graff tries to discourage that practice. “Don’t use the dungeon!” Graff warned. “That’s where fresh fruit goes to die without anyone noticing.” Instead, Graff suggested keeping fruits on one of the lower shelves where it can be seen when someone is looking for a snack. “I store other things like lunch meats in the bottom drawers,” Graff said. “When my kids open the refrigerator door, they are looking at grapes or something else that is good for them.”

How to tell if a melon is ripe

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ander down any produce aisle and you’re sure to see people thumping, tapping and poking melons to see if they’re ready to be eaten. Graff said a ripe melon has a sweet smell and when pressed at the stem end will give a little. “You can thump a watermelon to see if it’s ripe,” Graff said. “Also, look to see if there’s a lighter, more yellow spot on the bottom of the watermelon. That means it was allowed to ripen on the ground and that’s what you want.”

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 15


Be sure to wash your produce before making April Graff’s Green Smoothie. | Pat Christman

Fruit inspirations A sampling of fruit-inspired recipes:

Green Smoothie

PB Chocolate Smoothie

Upside-Down Strawberries and Ice Cream

Strawberry – Avocado Salsa

All you need: 1 large orange, peeled and segmented 1 large banana, cut into chunks and frozen 6 large strawberries 2 cups spinach 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt All you do: 1. Put all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. – Recipe courtesy of April Graff

All you need: 1 cup strawberries ½ cup ice cream All you do: Put strawberries into a bowl and top with ice cream. Nutrition note: One cup of strawberries provides about 50 calories plus fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants. A half-cup of a light ice cream adds about 100 calories, as well as calcium. Or substitute one sliced peach for the strawberries. With a total of around 150 calories, your taste buds and your waistline can be happy! – Recipe courtesy of April Graff

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All you need: 1 cup skim milk 1 banana, sliced and frozen 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter 2 or 3 ice cubes All you do: Add ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. – Recipe courtesy of April Graff

All you need: 1 cup finely chopped strawberries ¼ cup finely chopped peeled avocado 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion 1 mango, peeled and diced 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro ½ teaspoon grated lime rind 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 teaspoons finely chopped seeded jalapeno pepper ¼ teaspoon sugar All you do: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss gently. Serve immediately. – Recipe courtesy of Sara Passante


Use a fruit zester or grater to remove the outermost portion of the peel. Use zest to add intense flavor to a variety of dishes. | Pat Christman

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Zestful Living

he zest of citrus fruits such as lemon, limes and oranges is the brightly colored, outermost part of the peel. The zest can be used to add intense flavor to dishes without bitterness. To get the zest off a piece of fruit, first scrub the fruit with a sponge or scrubber in warm, soapy water. Then use a zester — a kitchen tool specifically designed to remove the zest — or a grater to scrap zest from the rind of the fruit. A zester will give you long strips of zest that should be chopped into tiny pieces before using in a recipe. Be sure to get only the zest and not the pith — the tough white part beneath the zest — as the pith is bitter tasting. More fruit gadgets Even beyond zesters, fruit lovers can find gadgets galore by browsing gourmet cooking stores, online or at discount stores. While most people stick with tried and true gadgets such as oldfashioned peelers and graters, others prefer more glamorous implements to use while fixing their fruit salads. Some of the bestsellers are: Strawberry hullers Pineapple corers Cherry pitters Julienne peelers M Lemon/lime squeezers

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The Winnebago Grill preserves local history with various memorabilia from old Winnebago High School, which has long since folded into the nearby Blue Earth Area School District. | John Cross

Small towns,

big flavor A tour through the heartland of area dining

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mall-town cafes and restaurants are so much more than places to find hot food. They are gathering places and Sunday destinations. They are welcome respites to farmers and prairie oases for wandering travelers. They’re the last vestiges of the homespun, handmade fare that lies at the heart of Midwestern food tradition. In this month’s issue of Mankato Magazine, we wanted to take a moment and pay homage to just a few of this area’s small-town eateries, where good conversation and good values are as abundant as good food. 18 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


The Winnebago Grill was opened by Jennifer and Calvin Howard on “a leap of faith.” | John Cross

The Winnebago Grill C

alvin and Jennifer Howard met in a Blue Earth restaurant where Jennifer waitressed and Calvin cooked. The two quickly became good friends and eventually started dating during their teenage years. At the time of their wedding, Jennifer had innocently joked, “Someday, Calvin will buy me a restaurant. “But I don’t think either of us thought it would happen this soon.” After their marriage, the two joined the Army and were stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. “When the restaurant became available, we took a leap of faith,” Jennifer said. “We felt it was time to come home after being away for the past seven years.” The Winnebago Grill is built on the concepts of quality, service, and consistency. “We serve hardy farmer meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays, specialty burgers on Mondays, and fried chicken and shrimp on Fridays,” Jennifer said. “On Friday and Saturday evenings, we serve steak and walleye. We also have an excellent salad bar.” Customers who visit the Winnebago Grill will find the inside decorated in the old Winnebago High School colors of red, white and black, while high school memorabilia and old school uniforms line the walls.

An added touch of Winnebago history adorns the walls in the form of various yearbook comments surfaced from half a century before scattered throughout the room. “I like the quaintness of our interior and its café feel,” Jennifer said. “We are even able to add unique items to our walls as community members continue to donate old band uniforms and Winnebago knick-knacks.” The Howards also believe community involvement is essential to building a successful business. This past Mother and Father’s Day, the Winnebago Grill held fundraisers for Moto Fest, Winnebago’s town celebration, as a way to give back to their community. The restaurant is also planning to be actively involved in Winnebago’s Veterans Memorial dedication on Aug. 4. “We want to be a community restaurant,” Jennifer said. “We feel it is very important to give back by being involved because we realize we wouldn’t be here without our community’s support.” - Heidi Sampson

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 19


Lisa Lindberg didn’t intend to open a café in Amboy’s old cottage-style gas station until she discovered it was slated for demolition more than a decade ago. Today, she serves a variety of homemade meals in a European-style setting. | John Cross

The Amboy Cottage Café D

uring the 1920s, the cottage-style gas station evolved out of a desire to create a family-friendly environment. “You can still find them scattered throughout the country, but most have been built over or reincorporated into other buildings,” said Lisa Lindberg, owner of the Amboy Cottage Café, originally a 1928 cottage style gas station located in Amboy. The peaked roof and small space are all cottage-style characteristics. A little more than 12 years ago, Lindberg was working nights as a registered nurse. As luck would have it, Lindberg was watching the demolition of Amboy’s old post office while standing across the road with a group of friends. Discussion quickly changed to dismay when the group realized the old cottage-style gas station was also slated for destruction. Lindberg was sent across the street to inquire about the building when the owners of the small gas station asked, “Do you want it?” Lindberg recalls saying, “OK” rather hesitantly as her intent hadn’t necessarily been to own the old gas station herself. For the next eight months, the building resided on stilts about a block away from its current location while Lindberg began to work out a business plan. At first, Lindberg contemplated a coffee shop but quickly 20 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

realized if the business was to be self-supporting, it needed to be a full-service operation. The original gas station serves as the dining area while the kitchen was added to the rear of the building. This year, Lindberg placed the “European Style Eatery” sign out front to enhance and clarify her café’s perception. “Our style is European. We have white walls, big windows, and small space. People sometimes have to sit with a person they don’t know, but that’s also European-style seating,” Lindberg said. “We offer a full menu but it is based on meat and potatoes. I place a strong emphasis on buying local, organic or using foods fresh from the garden wherever and whenever I can.” The Cottage Café also offers a green menu that allows customers to make choices that fit their dietary needs as menu items can also be adapted to fit many lifestyles, as well as vegetarian or vegan. “I think of this Café as a different kind of health care,” Lindberg said. “I now start at the top end by creating good wholesome foods.” - Heidi Sampson


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Uncle Albert’s Cafe

riendly service and classic meals are easy to find at Uncle Albert’s Cafe. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Uncle Albert’s has a variety of delicious eats. The meals will satisfy any homestyle craving. The plate-sized omelets are an attraction to customers wanting breakfast --- and with breakfast served all day, it’s likely there will be someone enjoying pancakes for dinner. Hand-pattied burgers and beef commercials are a hot item for costumers looking to dive into a good meal, along with great specials such as all-you-can-eat spaghetti Tuesdays. The meals are plentiful with affordable prices, making this cafe a prime gathering place for families. Rolene Fromm has owned Uncle Albert’s for almost 20 years, operating the establishment formerly owned by Albert himself for 19 years. Uncle Albert’s is a fundamental part of Eagle Lake’s history and continues to draw in new visitors to the town. Tammy Nelson, Fromm’s daughter and manager of Uncle Albert’s, said Uncle Albert’s is not only a full-service cafe, but also offers catering services and has a back room for large groups and parties. “We offer a variety of catering options from full on-site to off site, pick-up and drop-off. We cater business lunches, funerals, family reunions and more,” Nelson said. Along with meals, Uncle Albert’s also sends out meat by the pound. Popular meat choices are the pork roast, cheesy turkey

and hot beef. “We also send out hundreds of gallons of homemade potato salad every year,” Nelson said. The potato salad is an old family recipe that has become one of the cafe’s most popular items. And visitors can’t leave without trying the specialty pies, the recipes for which have been passed down over generations. “Our homemade cream pies are the most popular item we have,” Nelson said. In the last three years, the cafe has began making specialty decorated sugar cookies. The cookies are made around most holidays and showcase a flair for artistic decorating. These homemade sugar cookies can also be purchased by special order for parties, events or even just to enjoy at home. Even with the road construction along Blue Earth County Road 17 – which runs through Eagle Lake and directly past Uncle Albert’s – Nelson said loyal customers are still coming through the doors. “We haven’t really lost any business so far. Every once in a while it’s slow but then the next day it’s really busy. We have great local support, not only from Eagle Lake by surrounding communities.” Nelson said. “They are the reason we are still open after all these years!” - Hilary Urban

Thunder Bar and Restaurant Jenny Frank and her husband, Daren, own and operate the Thunder Bar in Good Thunder. They showcase local history with a variety of historical photos on the walls. | Tanner Kent

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t Thunder Bar and Restaurant in Good Thunder, Jenny Frank peels pounds of potatoes for her mashed potatoes, uses the juice from her roasted turkey to make the gravy for hot turkey commercials, and fries up hash browns and American fries to a nice crisp. “Everything is real and homemade,” said Jenny of Good Thunder. Jenny and her family have owned the Thunder Bar and Restaurant for 10 years. Thunder Bar is an old bank building and the restaurant was added about 15 years ago. Jenny, both manager and cook, gets help from her husband, Daren Frank, and parents Mark and Cherryl Froehlich, who also work there. “We hope to have it for a long time,” Jenny said. At 32 years old, homestyle cooking is all Jenny has ever known. She first learned to cook while working at her dad’s restaurant and these days, she uses Google to find her recipes. People come from near and not-too-far to Thunder Restaurant for the Friday and Saturday night specials. The $13.99 prime rib meal draws them in. Other weekend specials include all-you-can-eat butterfly shrimp and walleye. On first

and third Fridays, it’s all-you-can-eat barbecue ribs. Specials come with a salad bar, choice of potato and Texas toast. “I always feel good when I bring a plate to a table and people say ‘I’ll never finish all that,’” Jenny said. “I never want anyone to leave hungry. We do a lot of all-youcan-eat because they want a good value.” If you’re hankering for a cheeseburger, then Thunder Restaurant is paradise. You’ll find the standard bacon cheeseburger and mushroom and Swiss, but they also make a signature burger. And any burger can be “Thunder Sized.” “We use fresh meat; we patty it ourselves, with two kinds of cheese, bacon and egg,” Jenny said. Sundays bring a breakfast buffet. Among the chafing dishes is what Jenny calls “Thunder browns,” which are hash browns, green pepper, cheese, eggs and ham all cooked together. “It’s a big slop. It’s delicious,” Jenny said. Farmers and Good Thunder locals stop in regularly. A church group comes every Tuesday and a ladies birthday club celebrates members’ birthdays one Saturday every month. Plus, Good Thunder Bar and Restaurant hosts special events, reunions, graduations, and weddings in a back room. “It’s a nice meeting place for this community,” Jenny said. - Marie Wood MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 21


Reflections

By John Cross

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aturally, county fairs traditionally have revolved around agriculture. Some would argue that the events, holdovers from a time when life was centered around a more self-sufficient, agrarian society, have outlived their purpose. Certainly, fewer of us are directly connected to the land and its bounty than generations past. But even the most urban fair-goers still can appreciate a braggin’-sized head of cabbage, a perfectly preserved jar of dill pickles, the well-groomed Holstein. They may even find the mingling fragrances of fresh popcorn from the midway and fresh manure from the dairy barn curiously pleasant. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 23


Inside its somewhat nondescript strip mall location in Mankato, Tokyo Sushi & Hibachi offers fare that is anything but ordinary. | Pat Christman

Eating ethnic Diners don’t have to travel far and wide to find worldly fare.

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By Emre K. Erku

ike so many Midwestern communities, Mankato’s eating establishments cater to a population whose taste buds are accustomed to an array of basics: a well-prepared steak or burger, flaky fried chicken and tasty cocktails. But after a while, tongues may grow tired of typicality and salivate for the unknown.

24 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Luckily, Mankato is home to a surprising number of ethnic establishments. Interspersed along its streets and avenues are places more than capable of arousing the unknown frontiers of our tastes. From clean-cut sushi to spicy kebobs, here is a sampling of some of Mankato’s more exotic cuisine:


Sabriye Mussi owns and operates a small Somalian market on Washington Avenue in the Old Town portion of Mankato. | John Cross

Tokyo Sushi & Hibachi Inside this dark, red-walled bistro decorated with hanging Japanese calligraphy and dimly lit light fixtures, seasoned sushi chefs meticulously slice away at fresh portions of tuna, salmon, and yellowtail fish with behind an illuminated counter toward the back. At first glance, one may not assume this ordinary, strip mall restaurant would have such an extraordinary skill on display right on the other side of its walls. At 23 years old, general manager Jackie Chen and son of soon-to-be-fully-retired owner, Jimmy Chen, is as polite as they come. Quick to serve you with a plate of neatly placed slices of certain types of rockfish – his best selling seafood – he’ll tell you his chefs weren’t acquired by simply filling out an application. “We look for experience,” Chen said, sitting attentively in one his cozy booths. “Five or 10 years’ worth.” This doesn’t come as shock considering how precisely and artistically the sushi is displayed on the plate. With chopsticks between fingers, diners pick away at the work of art, dunking pieces of fresh fish into a nasal-opening mixture of wasabi and soy sauce. Once placed in your mouth, the texture melts like butter in between your teeth and tongue, a ballet of succulent flavor. But what separates Tokyo Sushi from other restaurants, according to Chen, is the rice. “The rice needs to mix with vinegar,” says Chen. “Each restaurant has certain kinds of vinegars that they make. When you’re adding sugars and salts and other kinds of stuff, that’s what works.” Tokyo Sushi & Hibachi is located on Adams Street across from the River Hills Mall in Mankato.

Massad’s

Ages ago in the Mediterranean country of Lebanon, John Massad, owner and master chef of the Massad Group that includes Olives, Massad’s and Najwa’s Catering, developed a sauce and chicken marinade so delicious he brought it the United States. Here, it became an ultimate success, and is now known in Mankato as the chicken Schwarma. Complete in a half-circle of tasty pocket bread, the Schwarma is a mammoth serving of John’s marinated chicken, pickles, tomatoes and lettuce all covered in his creamy, mouth-watering sauce. “We came back from Lebanon in 1982, and we started looking for a place to open,” said Najwa Massad, the almost42-year spouse of John’s, explaining how it all began. “We opened a restaurant called Meray’s … We had people waiting outside the door to come in for Schwarmas.” The sauce itself is an infusion of garlic and secret ingredients that Najwa succinctly summarized as: “I’m not telling you anything else.” Though John created the sauce, his influence comes from generations of his family being involved with culinary arts. Apart from the taste, the smell, aroma, and show of the chicken are what propelled its success from the start. When you walk up to Massad’s stand at the River Hills Mall, the first thing your eyes fixate on are the two gigantic wheels of chicken rotating at a dead-slow rate, getting juicier with every revolution. Karla Massad, general manager and youngest daughter of Narjwa and John’s, said it didn’t take long before a stand was needed in the mall due to the food’s popularity. “We ended up opening (Massad’s) because Meray’s was so MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 25


crazy busy,” Karla said. “So we opened up a place that just did the Schwarmas to alleviate that craziness.” But the madness doesn’t stop there. Since the Schwarma’s popularity is still growing, the Massad Group is soon going to open up a new location near the campus of Minnesota State University, as early as this month. “We are the American dream,” Najwa said.

Sabriye Store: Halal Meat

This place is a hidden gem of Mankato. No, it isn’t a restaurant, but it is a market that sells products and spices that are delightfully out of the ordinary. Aligned along the shelves inside this small Old Town shop are collections of Middle Eastern spices and fruits obtained from Somali wholesalers. Their far-off scents provoke inquisitive minds and curious tongues. Owned by Sabriye Mussi, a Somali family man with three daughters, this market provides foods from Egypt, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia and even Italy. “Somali people, most of them eat spaghetti,’ Mussi said, explaining the 26 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

history of Italian occupation of Somalia and why spaghetti is part of his inventory. “They make meat and spices and mix it in with the soup.” What’s even more interesting is the fact that almost every meal incorporates an entire banana with the dishes. According to Mussi, before internal war plagued Somalia, bananas were one of the country’s main exports. “There should be one banana for everybody,” says Mussi. “That’s why we are a banana country – Somalia used to export the best bananas in the world, but that was before the war.” Before civil war broke out in 1990, the Somali population of the world outside Somalia was less than 1 percent. As the brutal conflict continued, staggering numbers of Somalians left the country. Mussi hasn’t been back to his home country since the 1980s. Since then, he bounced around 11 different countries before making his way to the U.S. Now his life consists of selling chili powders, Vimto Fruit Sodas (delicious), Tandoori Masala and fresh bags of Pakistani rice. Though he can’t physically travel back home, he has an entire constellation of ambrosial products that produce tastes of what

once was. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t mean to have this business in the first place. My wife sponsored me to come to the U.S. when I had a degree in agriculture from when I was living in Iraq. Coming here, I was forced to work at a printing company in Waseca. I’m still trying to further my education.” Sabriye Store is located off Washington Street in Mankato’s Old Town.

Pho Saigon

In 1992, Tieu Tran, a struggling Vietnamese mother of six decided that living in Da Nang, a southern port city of Vietnam, would be a lost cause for her and her family. As a businesswoman, she was basically losing out on 90 cents for every dollar she made in the communist state of Southeastern Asia. Finding the conditions unacceptable, she navigated a sea of red tape and earned what amounted to a lottery ticket for entrance into the United States. Even without knowing any English, Tran began purchasing storefronts in Mankato in effort to rake in money to


Sabriye Mussi’s market carries a variety of goods, from exotic spices to spaghetti. | John Cross support her family. Soon, her determined, hard-working children would grow up to be medical doctors, pharmacists, dental students, and, of course, business people. Trong Ho, 29-year- old owner of Pho Saigon and Tran’s son, remembers the impact of Tran’s decision to move to the States. “Coming here with two parents who didn’t speak any English and six small kids, it was bad,” Ho said, reminiscing upon the early struggles of his family’s Americanization. “There was no way to succeed.” Luckily, the School Sisters of Notre Dame decided to sponsor and house the struggling family of eight. It was then discovered that Tran was a master at making flaky, crispy, golden egg rolls and irresistible sauces then unknown to the Mankato public. “Our neighbors used to order (eggrolls) a lot when we didn’t even have a restaurant,” Ho said. “Now we sell more than 30,000 eggrolls a year.” And it doesn’t stop there. Pho Delight, a combination of chicken, shrimp, meatballs, steak, flank, and brisket piled together in a noodle soup of upbeat taste, is another Saigon favorite. Prepared fresh on a daily basis, and topped with anise herbs shipped in from Hawaii, the pungent aroma fills the restaurant. You can almost taste the long and strenuous journey the Hos took to get here through the power of the Saigon cuisine. Pho Saigon is located near the corner of Madison Avenue and Victory Drive.

Taj Mahal

As you step into this North Mankato restaurant, visitors are greeted with a mixture of exotic. Spicy mints and tandoori,

along with lamb meats, explore the spaces between the cloudy green and peach walls that are occupied by paintings of beautiful Indian princesses being charmed by flower-wielding Indian men. Servers are covered head-to-toe in black shoes, black pants and black-collared dress shirts. Their appearance is that of professionals of their vocation, and they provide service to match. Tony Bassi, owner of Taj Mahal, has been in the restaurant business with his father since 1996. After moving to the U.S. in 1994, Bassi learned the tricks of managing a business without a culinary background. With the help of his father’s mastery in cooking, he entered the business aiming to please. “We want them to be excited and then feel like they had something really good and actually enjoyed it,” said Bassi, explaining his hopes for diners at the Taj Mahal. “We want them to be satisfied when they leave from here.” Everything on the Taj Mahal’s menu is prepared fresh every morning before it’s ready to be consumed. From the chicken to the lamb, nothing is frozen. Ordering a plate of seekh kebob, skewers of lamb doused in ancient spices, proves that Bassi isn’t joking about the freshness of his products. Coming out on a scalding, hot-fajita style plate atop a pile of onions soaking in the exuding flavors of the meat, this dish captures the full attention of your taste buds. “We have a lot of students and locals trying this for the first time and they really liked it,” Bassi said. “Then they go out and tell their friends.” Taj Mahal is located off Commerce Drive in North Mankato.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 27


Garden Chat By Jean Lundquist

A bumper crop of growing pains

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ne summer, three lessons learned, and a neverending sore back. That pretty much describes my life this summer so far. I know that to garden means to weed. Still, I am always in search of the newest, best thing to get rid of weeds in the garden without actually having to hoe, pull, or till. Even after all these years, I still believe I will find it. I want it 100 percent effective and 100 percent painless. I thought I had found it this year with my Mini Dragon weed burner. I did not. You might recall I reported that horticulturalist Juergen Peters had suggested fire as the surest way to rid a garden of weeds last spring at the University of Minnesota Horticulture Day in Waseca. After hearing that, we bought the weed torch, and waited for weeds to sprout so I could try it out. It turns out nothing is ever as easy as it seems, and although fire is effective, there is a problem. The Mini Dragon is short, but I’m not. The bending to get the flame close enough to burn the weeds tied my back up in knots I didn’t think my doctor would be able to untie. Although I’m now afraid of the Dragon, I continue to use it. There is something satisfying about seeing purslane turn bright green, then wither under the heat. Weeding is a job never done, but I’ve learned to pace myself now. I don’t need to burn all the weeds in one day. That silly Dragon still hurts my back. In my excitement over the Dragon, I never remembered to use the three-year weed barriers I bought and intended for use around seedlings. But they didn’t go anywhere, so I’ll try to remember to use them next summer. I was also excited this year to grow vegetables in straw bales this summer. I don’t know why that sounded so novel to me. What I have grown so far is a wonderful crop of unknown and therefore inedible mushrooms and beautiful oats. Oh yes, there are a couple of tomatoes, peppers and cabbages in there somewhere, too. It really is no less work, no less bending, and no more environmentally friendly than just growing veggies in the ground. In fact, it’s more work, because of the water that

28 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

must be hauled to keep the bails from drying out. True, during the first few months of the growing season that was not an issue because of all the rain. But after a few days without rain, I was hauling a lot of water. And the bending was worse than bending all the way to the ground. Like happens with the Mini Dragon, I have to bend over just halfway to pull the oats, and that ties up my back into knots faster than just about anything else I can think of. I’ve talked to others who have also tried bale gardening this year, and have heard they’ve grown unknown, inedible mushrooms and beautiful oats, as well. But it sounded like fun, and for a while, it was fun. I just won’t do it again. I’m sure next year I’ll find the next big thing to try. I also learned this summer that no matter how many times I put the mulch back in place around the house, the chickens won’t let it stay there. The mulch looked a lot better to me than the rough-looking chive bed that had been by the back door. It looked much neater and more civilized. Besides, as much as I like chives, there were just too many to use. But mulch that has been scratched through by chickens looks pretty rough, too. After a certain amount of time, there is just no way to put the mulch back, and there seems no reason to keep trying. But am I willing to keep looking at the mess those chickens make? The answer is no! I figure chickens won’t be able to move river rock, so that’s what I’ve ordered to replace the mulch. I remember thinking that mulch wouldn’t be easy to move around. It is, after all, tiny pieces of very large trees. I was right. But rock will weigh a LOT more than that. I’m awaiting delivery as I write this, and I have my ice bag filled and my heating pad plugged in to tide me over until I can get over to Eagle Lake to see my favorite chiropractor. I’m prepared to hurt in the name of outdoor fun with landscaping and gardening. M Jean Lundquist is a master gardener who lives near Good Thunder.


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That’s Life By Nell Musolf

Picture perfect Learning how to keep the whole family in focus

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here is a photo stuck on our refrigerator that I took in, I believe, 1994. It shows my husband Mark and our two sons, Joe and Hank, all decked out in their winter gear and about to go outside for a walk. It was taken back when our youngest was small enough to be held in his father’s arms and his brother was still willing to wear a knitted hat emblazoned with Winnie the Pooh. I look at this picture every day as I get the milk, eggs, or whatever I need out of the refrigerator and as I gaze at it I’m always struck by how I neatly managed (since I took the picture) to lop the top of my husband’s head off so all that shows is his wide smile. That wasn’t the only photograph that sort of knocked Mark out of the picture; I have an entire album of them. A headless husband holding the kids at the zoo. A hairy arm pointing out a fish jumping out of the water of Lake Michigan. A denim covered knee with a small boy perched on top of it. Mark was there, all right. I have the evidence: bits and pieces of his body like something out of “CSI.” But not all of him. My focus in those early days of motherhood was solely on the subjects with baby teeth. Motherhood was so new to me that I’m afraid I pretty much didn’t notice anything — or anyone — else. Every dirty diaper, every runny nose, every stubbed toe was mine, all mine. I reveled in my mommyhood and didn’t want to share it with anyone, not even the boys’ daddy. Perhaps my selfishness was due to the fact that we had our kids a little later in life. All I ever wanted to be was a mommy and when the great day finally arrived, I was pretty greedy about keeping it to myself. I wasn’t alone with this mommytunnel vision affliction. All of my 30 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

friends acted the same way. Whenever we got together and photographs were produced, there were invariably lots and lots of snapshots of babies and few, if any, of husbands. Quite simply, we were besotted with our children, much as we’d been besotted with our boyfriends before they became our husbands and eventually the fathers of those little bundles of joy. Conversations revolved around our children. Everything revolved around children. Our days were centered on the kids and, at the time, that was just fine with me. If it bothered our husbands, they never mentioned it. Perhaps they were relieved to let the bulk of parenting rest in our motherly hands. Or perhaps they didn’t notice that they were being cut out of the picture. Fortunately, that stage of parenting doesn’t last forever. Children grow up and parenting becomes more demanding. As our boys got older, I was more than happy to share parenting duties with Mark. I was especially eager to let Mark in on such parental duties as returning phone calls to teachers, checking math homework, and teaching the boys proper bathroom etiquette. As Joe and Hank became teenagers, it seemed to me that while they still needed me, they needed him even more. He was the one who was able to teach them about cars and lawn mowers. He showed them how to shave their faces and brought up the touchy topic of sex by stating that he was a teenage boy once, too, without getting laughed out of the room. He knew all the “guy stuff” that I didn’t have a clue about. He’s even the one who still enjoys the music they listen to more than good old mom. Parenthood, like marriage, is a two-part invention. Twenty some years of being a mother have taught

me that while maybe I can do it all on my own — if I absolutely have to — it’s far easier to travel down the often rocky parenting path with someone at my side. Someone I can share all of my doubts, fears, and concerns with. Someone else who lies in bed next to me, waiting for the car to pull into the driveway at midnight. Someone who loves Joe and Hank just as much as I do. And that someone is their dad. I’m a lot more careful when I wield a camera these days. No one is cut off or left out because, when it comes to your family, everyone belongs in the picture. And that is what makes a picture perfect. M Nell Musolf is a mom and a freelance writer from Mankato.


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Day Trip Destinations: Lake Minnetonka

By Leticia Gonzales

Downtown Wayzata is situated right on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. | Photo courtesy of the Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce

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Lake of leisure

f you are planning on taking a road trip this summer, why not plan one closer to home? In fewer than two hours, you can find your way to Lake Minnetonka, the largest lake in the Twin Cities area. The 14,000-acre lake offers endless possibilities of entertainment, as it neighbors more than a dozen communities. Among the most popular for visitors are the cities of Wayzata and Excelsior, which are only about a 15-minute car or boat ride from each other. “Our downtown areas are literally on the lake,” said Becky Pierson, President of the Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce. “That is something that a lot of communities don’t have.” Pierson said the beach and marina on Wayzata’s Lake Street offer a gateway to many activities. “Paddleboard is a new craze because we have the lake here,” Pierson said. “We have people that come here to enjoy those types of activities.” If swimming, kayaking, sailing or canoeing don’t interest you, Wayzata is also close to many trails. The Luce Line Trail, which is a 63-mile-long former railroad grade, offers a space for biking, hiking and horseback riding during the warmer months, as well as snowmobiling and skiing in the winter. There is also the Dakota Rail Trail, which is a new scenic trail. Not only is it geared toward biking, walking, and in-line skating, it is wheelchair accessible. Wayzata also connects to Three Rivers Regional Parks. For more activities, visitors can take a cruise on The Steamboat Minnehaha to get across the lake to Excelsior. The floating museum, which runs on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day through Labor Day, is a restored version of the ship built in 1906. In addition to the Steamboat Minnehaha, Laura Hotvet, executive director of Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber,

32 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

said The Minnesota Streetcar Museum is also a popular place to visit in Excelsior. “The trolley gives rides all weekend long,” she said. Like Wayzata, there are many places to rent kayaks, paddleboards, and other watercraft. “There are many charter boats, small or large, that you can come with a group, to take around the lake,” she said. Excelsior also features a “Girls Night Out” shopping night every Thursday night in August, which includes special promotions, sales and local events in “the heart of downtown Excelsior.” “It’s just a very friendly, laid-back atmosphere with a hip little vibe,” said Hotvet. “It’s the place where you want to spend the day and end up staying.” Upcoming events Pick up some treasures or fresh produce from vendors at the outdoor Excelsior Flea Market or check out the Excelsior Cruze-In Collector Car Shows. The flea market is at 10 Water St., and runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays through August. The car shows, which are free to all exhibitors and attendees, will be held 9 a.m. to noon on Aug 3, 17 and 31 at 440 Water St. Apple Day on Sept. 7 is Excelsior’s Lakeside Festival, which includes a 5K race, food, art, antiques, crafts and a street dance. Across the lake in Wayzata, the 39th annual James J. Hill Days takes place Sept. 8- 9. The family-friendly event hosts a waterski show, boat and dachshund races, food trucks, and classic car show to name a few activities. “We typically have 10,000 to 15,000 (visitors) over the course of a couple of days,” said Becky Pierson, president of the Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce. “This year we are going to have fireworks on Saturday night, as a new attraction for that event.” M


Birthplace of a legacy If you are looking for something to do on your way to Lake Lake Minnetonka Minnetonka, the Dr. William W. Mayo House is great place to visit and is just off of Highway 169 at 118 N. Main in Le Sueur. While it may appear to be a small house, the historic structure is packed with treasures and stories from the Mayo and Cosgrove families, who were influential not only in Le Sueur, but in Minnesota. As founders of the Mayo Clinic and the Green Giant Company, respectively, the two families have left a lasting legacy in the community. Three generations of Cosgroves lived in the Mayo House after the Mayo Family moved to Rochester. The Steamboat Minnehaha was built in 1906 and doubles The house was built in 1859 by William H. Mayo, who lived there for five as the Museum of Lake Minnetonka. | Photo courtesy of the years with his family before founding the Mayo Clinic. Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce “You don’t think of doctors hand-building their own house, but back then people did all sorts of things,” said Becky Pollock, executive director of the Dr. William W. Mayo House. Sharon Pinney, president of the Mayo House Interpretive Society, said she is amazed at the versatility of Dr. Mayo. Not only was he a riverboat pilot, he started Le Sueur’s first newspaper, and owned the first microscope in Minnesota. “He was filled with a vision that few people had,” Pinney said. During August, the home is open for tours 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays, and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. In September and October, tours are offered noon to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Visit http://mayohouse.org for directions and admission prices or call 507- 665-3250. In addition to candies, pies, licorice and a host of oddities, Jim’s Apple Farm also boasts 80 varieties of root beer. | Leticia Gonzales

The sweet (and sort of secret) spot Two of Minnesota’s most influential families, the Mayos and the Cosgroves, have lived in this unassuming home in Le Sueur. | Leticia Gonzales

Mankato

As you make your way along Highway 169 between Belle Plaine and Jordan, you can’t help but notice the brilliant yellow building. The bold and colorful décor only adds to the flavor of what is inside Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store, also known as Jim’s Apple Farm. The “farm stand,” as they call it, has been at its current location at 20430 Johnson Memorial Drive in Jordan for 35 years, said 53-year-old Robert Wagner, who manages the store with his 88-year-old father Jim Wagner. Prior to that, the family had another stand nearby, which was open for 20 years. What was then a small stand to sell apples from their four orchards, has now grown into what can be conceived as every child’s personal candy factory. With more than a thousand varieties of candy, there is something for every sweet tooth and craving. From Turkish taffy, to bacon mints, all bases are covered. Inside there are rows upon rows of every licorice imaginable, hard-to-find Cadbury chocolate, old-school treats like candy cigarettes and Boston baked beans. There are even obscure finds like the world’s largest gummy snake and dill pickle mints. You can also purchase more than 700 types of sodas, including 80 varieties of root beer alone. Robert said they aim to bring in many local products as well such as beef sticks, specialty popcorn, fudge, peanut brittle, sauces and jams. “A lot of these folks don’t have the time to be at the farmers market to sell their product,” he said. “The farm stand seems to fit that niche.” If candy isn’t what you’re craving, there are plenty of other items to keep your eyes wandering including countless pasta varieties, spices, honey, puzzles, cookie cutters -- and apples, of course. Whether it’s the bright light that indicates fresh baked pies are ready for the taking, or the hopping polka music that entertains you while you shop, Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store is one stop you will want to make. Be sure to bring cash or a check, credit cards are not accepted. Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m., seven days a week, through November. The store runs on word of mouth, and does not have a business line or website. MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 33


Then

and

Now:

By Wess McConville

Spinners occupies the former Peoples State Bank building in North Mankato. | Photo courtesy of Shawn Ange

Spinners spans generations One of area’s oldest bars serves up friendly atmosphere

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Belgrade Avenue staple, Spinners Bar, has poured taps and mixed drinks in North Mankato for four generations. Countless numbers of bar-goers have made Spinners an after-work ritual since it served its first beer in 1944 and, for many locals, its their bar-of-choice. “We strive to be as welcoming as possible,” said Spinners owner Shawn Ange. “I like to see (Spinners) as ‘Cheers’ --- a bar where everybody knows your name and the bartenders know what you like to drink. It’s just a place where there is good camaraderie and people can go and unwind.” The hometown atmosphere Spinners provides also comes from its regular customers. “A couple of years ago I talked to three or four guys who have been coming here since they were 5 years old,” Ange said. “They told me about how they used to be able to get beers from here for a nickel and how we charge too much these days.” The building, built in 1912, used to house Peoples State Bank before 34 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Spinners has been a Belgrade Avenue staple since 1944. | Photos courtesy of Shawn Ange Spinners occupied it. It has architecture similar to other old Main Street buildings: a brick exterior, large windows and rectangular shape. A number of renovations were made to the outside of Spinners by the time Ange took ownership in 2006, and it looked vaguely familiar to what it used to. A large neon sign hung from the building’s east end, thick glass that let little light in replaced the large picture-window and vinyl siding covered the entryway. Shortly after taking ownership, a customer dropped off an old picture of the bank and Ange decided to restore the building. “I did a complete facade restoration on the outside two years ago,” he said. “I tried to return it back to its original state and add a little extra flair. I added canopies, and changed the stone on the front entryway so it would match the rest of the building. But other than that, it’s pretty much returned to its state when it was built in 1912.” Another change Ange, a Wisconsin native, brought to Spinners is its status as the local Packer headquarters. “I came to school here, so I already knew there are a lot of Packer fans around. Quite frankly, wherever you go there’s a lot of Packer fans. I bleed green and yellow, just like people around here bleed purple.” Realizing that Viking fandom runs rampant in Mankato, Ange gradually transitioned Spinners into a Packer bar. “Obviously when you’re just starting business you don’t

want to turn people away,” he said. “But on the same token, it’s good camaraderie and I always tell people, ‘at the end of the day, we both have to get up tomorrow and go to work, so it really doesn’t matter what football teams do.’ You can’t let a game or big play or bad play get the best of you.” Stop by Spinners at 301 Belgrade Ave., North Mankato, or like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/ Spinners-Bar-Grill/248147540503. M

MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 35


Your Tastes

By L.V. Anderson | Slate

Refrigerater-ready jam in a jiffy

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ost people I know buy jam when they want jam. This makes sense in the winter, when fresh peaches, cherries and berries are in short supply, and when jam is the easiest way to make those fruits a part of your life. But it makes absolutely no sense in the summer. When juicy warm-weather fruits are abundant and cheap, it’s a no-brainer to make jam with them, a process that’s insanely easy (and fairly quick) and yields results that taste fresher than any store-bought jam. Jam’s reputation for being difficult is mysterious. Is it fussy and time-consuming to preserve jam in shelf-stable jars? Sure. (To be fair, it’s also exciting! The risk of botulism and other dangerous bacteria makes home-canning feel dangerous.) But it’s child’s play to make jam that’s intended to be eaten right away, kept in the refrigerator for a few weeks, or frozen for several months. Literally all you have to do is cook fruit with sugar until it starts to break down and thicken. One could make the semantic argument that such a combination is rightly called a conserve, since it doesn’t contain pectin, the plant-based gelling agent that thickens commercial jams. But if jam is good enough for the National Center for Home Preservation, it’s good enough for me. Jam has the added appeal of its delightfully uncertain etymology: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it’s probably a literal reference to the act of jamming fruit together, but observers have noted the word’s similarity to the French j’aime — “I love” — since the 18th century.

Not having to sterilize lids and boil jars is one major advantage of making refrigerator jam. Being able to use less sugar than you otherwise would is another. Canned jams often contain a 1-to-1 ratio (by volume) of fruit to sugar, which acts as a preservative and inhibits mold. With refrigerator jam, mold isn’t as much of a consideration, so you can use one-half as much sugar and allow the fruit flavor to dominate. There’s also the matter of cost: Your $5 jar of Bonne Maman starts to lose some of its panache when you realize you can make equally good homemade jam for one-half the cost. No combination highlights the advantages of homemade jam over store-bought more than strawberries and rhubarb, the darling duo of the pie world. They require slightly more preparation than, say, blueberries; in addition to rinsing them, you have to hull the strawberries and peel tough strings off the exterior of the rhubarb stalks. (Nick the end of the stalk with a paring knife, and then pull away the fibers with your fingers.) But the final product, half an hour later, exudes more sweet-tart brightness than any pie. Serve it hot on top of ice cream or cake, or cool it before spreading on bread or swirling into yogurt. Or take a cue from John Ayto’s Diner’s Dictionary, which notes in its entry on jam: “Up until the nineteenth century, fruit preserves might just as often be eaten on their own, as a dessert.”

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam Yield: About 2 1/2 cups Time: 25 to 30 minutes Ingredients 1 pound strawberries, trimmed and roughly chopped 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and roughly chopped 1 cup sugar Directions Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and sugar in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries and rhubarb begin to break down, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and serve. (Store leftover jam in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks, or in the freezer for up to several months.) M

To make homemade jam, all you have to do is cook fruit with sugar until it starts to break down and thicken. | Juliana Jimenez Jaramillo/Slate 36 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Coming Attractions: August 1-3 -- Blue Earth County Fair Shady Oaks Campgrounds 340 Fairgrounds St., Garden City -$3, free ages 4 and under -blueearthcountyfair.org 1 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Wide Receivers) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com 1 -- RibFest featuring Blackhawk Riverfront Park -- $5 2 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Defensive Ends) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com

7-11 -- Nicollet County Fair Nicollet County Fairgrounds 400 West Union St., St. Peter -www.nicolletcountyfair.com 9 -- Merely Players present “Anchors A-Woe” 6:30-8:30 p.m. - Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery - 1179 East Pearl St., Kasota -- $50 -- 507-931-0089 -- events@ chankaskawines.com 12 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Specialists) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com

15 -- RATT concert 6 p.m. - Vetterstone Amphitheater - $35 - www.ticketmaster.com - 507-389-3000 15-18 -- Le Sueur County Free Fair Le Sueur County Fairgrounds South of Hwy 99/Derrynane St., Le Center -- www.lesueurcountyfair.org 23-25 -- Le Sueur County Pioneer Power Show 7 a.m.-10 p.m. -- 34605 265th Ave, Le Sueur -- $10, free children under 12 -www.pioneerpowershow.com

13 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Tight Ends) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com 14 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Entire Team throwing signed footballs to the crowd) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com

2 -- RibFest featuring Everclear Riverfront Park -- $5 3 -- Minnesota Vikings Family Football Day 10 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com 3 -- RibFest featuring Loverboy Riverfront Park -- $5 4 -- RibFest featuring Mary Jane Alm Band Riverfront Park - $5 5 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Quarterbacks) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com

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6 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Defensive Tackles) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com 7 -- Minnesota Vikings Autograph Zone (Running Backs) 11:30 a.m. -- Blakeslee Stadium, Mankato -- Free -- vikings.com 7-11 Brown County Free Fair Brown County Fairgrounds 1201 N. State St., New Ulm -www.browncountyfreefair.com MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 37


Your Health

By Jill U. Adams | Special

to

The Washington Post.

Non-drug treatments for high blood pressure “I don’t like to take drugs.” And “What can I just do myself?” Robert Brook, an internist at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, hears these two comments more than any others when he talk to patients about controlling their blood pressure. Often called a silent disease, hypertension has no symptoms beyond the readings that come from a blood pressure cuff. And yet, high blood pressure is a risk factor for a slew of other conditions, including heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney disease and vision loss. So treating hypertension is all about lowering your risk for these diseases. More than a quarter of U.S. adults have hypertension, and three out of four of them are on medication to keep their blood pressure in check. Those drugs come with side effects, such as needing to urinate more often (diuretics), insomnia (beta blockers) and constipation (calcium channel blockers). You can see why people might want to avoid such medications. Here’s the latest on the possibilities for controlling hypertension without drugs. Diet Diet is the method that doctors say has the biggest benefit and for which there is the best evidence, much of it garnered in the late 1990s and early 2000s through a series of studies called DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). Research since then has only bolstered the claim that eating a diet low in salt and fat and high in fruits and vegetables can reduce high blood pressure. For someone with blood pressure at or above the hypertension threshold of 140/90 mm Hg mercury, following the DASH diet can lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 11.6 mm and diastolic pressure by 5.3 mm. By comparison, medications can achieve larger decreases: Drops of 20 and 10 mm, respectively, are considered a good response. However, Brook says, patients often want options beyond diet, because they doubt they can or will change their eating habits enough to make a difference. “They want some evidence-based methods, short of taking medication,” he says. Brook recently co-authored a scientific statement for the American Heart Association that reviewed evidence-based studies of a wide variety of non-drug approaches for reducing high blood pressure, including Transcendental Meditation, yoga, acupuncture, slow-breathing techniques, biofeedback and various types of exercise They found a mixed picture. What worked best? Aerobic exercise. “The typical recommendation is 30 minutes on most 38 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

days, or five times per week, at a moderate intensity, such as 4 miles per hour walking or light jogging,” Brook says. Although the studies varied in their exercise methods, overall the reductions in blood pressure approached that of diet intervention. Exercise There are fewer studies on the effects of resistance exercise or weight training, and the reductions in blood pressure that result are generally much smaller: less than 3 and 2 mm for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. Still, the evidence was sufficient for the authors of the AHA statement to conclude that “dynamic resistance exercise is reasonable to perform in clinical practice in order to reduce blood pressure.” Device-guiding breathing, similarly, had an impact, but not very large. The techniques involve wearing a breathing monitor while listening to musical chimes that tell you when to inhale and exhale. The goal is to slow your breathing to fewer than 10 breaths a minute and to prolong the exhalation. Studies have found a reduction (4 mm systolic, 3 mm diastolic) in blood pressure in patients who use the device for 15-minute sessions at least three times per week. Data on the benefits of Transcendental Meditation and biofeedback are weaker, with some studies showing effects and others not. Still, these methods may be worth a try, according to the statement. With biofeedback, patients monitor their blood pressure in real time while participating in a relaxation exercise or guided imagery. As for other forms of meditation, not enough evidence exists to recommend them. Another exercise approach is isometrics, most commonly done with a hand grip device that is squeezed and held for several minutes. Some studies have reported impressive results — more than 10 mm decrease in systolic and nearly 8 mm in diastolic blood pressure. The caveat is that the studies are few and the number of participants small — 13 here, 42 there. The AHA statement said only that it “may be considered.” Some doctors worry that isometrics’ sustained muscle contractions might be unsafe and lead to blood pressure spikes, Brook says, but studies reported no such ill effects. “I was fascinated by the robustness of its effect on blood pressure,” Brook says. “It should get more focus, both in terms of effectiveness and safety.” Relaxation techniques While meditation, relaxation techniques, acupuncture and yoga can provide many health benefits, there was no


consistent evidence of their efficacy in reducing blood pressure. The AHA statement recommends against these practices for controlling blood pressure. One thing is clear to doctors, Brook says: Different people respond to different things. The AHA statement focuses on average responses, but often a subset of people are very good responders. “We’ve all had patients who experience a 10 to 20 mm Hg drop” with a lifestyle change, he says. “But others have no improvement.” Even with small effects, Brooks says, using Transcendental Meditation, exercise or device-guided breathing may help a person limit the dose or number of blood pressure drugs he or she must take. The AHA statement offers doctors evidence-based tools beyond diet to recommend to their patients with high blood pressure, says Domenic Sica, a professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center in Richmond and soon-to-be president of the American Society of Hypertension. “Not too many people will make dramatic changes in their lifestyle,” said Lawrence Appel, a doctor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who worked on the AHA statement. “They inch in the right direction. They don’t go from five servings of veggies to 10, but maybe to six or seven. We hope that small benefits accrue from [multiple small changes] across several dimensions.” M

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40 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Arts by the river

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1. Adam Legget and Caleb Buzzell talk with the artist, Reed White (far right), about his current collection. 2. Raina Finstrom dances to the music played by the Messiah Worship Band. 3. Audience memebers listen as members from the Southern MN Poetry Society read their pieces of literature. 4. A group of friends mingle on the amphitheater seats while at the Art by the River event at Riverfront Park. 5. Diane and Mark Christensen stay dry while listening to the Messiah Worship Band June 9 at Riverfront Park during Arts by the River. 6. A family relaxes at 1 Riverfront Park during the Arts by the River event. 7. Anne Mehltretter and her son Tristan inspect a piece of jewelry.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 41


Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

Duck days parade 1. One of the many restored vehicles featured in the Duck Days parade proudly pulls an American Flag down Main Street in Lake Crystal. 2. Hernando Hernandez and Maria Sanchez sit back and relax as their family members scurry about the carnival in Lake Crystal. 3. Participants of the Miss Bonnie Lass competition wave to the crowds during the parade. 4. The St. Peter Marching Band was just one of the 10 bands to participate in the annual Duck Days Battle of the Bands Parade. 5. The Worthington High School Marching Band took Mary Poppins to the street with their version of the popular musical. 6. Mike and Avril Lundgren, 2, watch as two baby goats take a few shaky steps in the petting zoo at Lake Crystal’s annual Duck Days.

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Faces & Places

Photos By Sport Pix

ST. Clair Days parade 1. June 22 proved to be a beautiful day for the St. Clair Days parade. People lined the streets, excited to see the line of floats. 2. The Hobo Band floats by while providing some lighthearted, fun music at the St. Clair Day parade. 3. The ladies vying for Miss St. Clair happily wave to the crowd during the St. Clair Days parade. 4. Cam Anderegg, 4, is overcome with excitement after getting a handful of candy while at the St. Clair Days parade. 5. Adisyn Mankske, 3,hands her dad the candy she retrieved at the St. Clair Days parade. 6. Always a crowd favorite, The Shriners swerve and circle throughout the streets of St. Clair on June 23.

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MANKATO MAGAZINE • August 2013 • 43


From

this

Valley

By Pete Steiner

Cab’s grandson: Meditation on an earbud world “Where do the children play?” - Cat Stevens My inadvertent celebrity had nothing to do with exaggerated physical assets, akin to the manner in which a certain buxom woman, initials K.K., and recently new to motherhood, achieved her tabloid attention. Rather, a year ago, I walked into the room full of wellheeled, appealing women (a few guys had tagged along), having been invited to tell them about my Grandfather, J.A. Lloyd. The BetsyTacy Society convention downtown had attracted hundreds of fans from New York to California, here to Deep Valley. That was the fictitious name author Maud Hart Lovelace gave our dear hometown in her young person’s novels based on early-1900s Mankato life. Jabez Alvin Lloyd – aka “Jab” – was Maud’s lifelong friend. Thinly disguised as “Cab,” he is an important character in the book series. Of course, I did not actually learn this back story until I was about 14. After all, the Betsy-Tacy books were early “chick-lit,” and in the ‘50s, gender roles were rigidly defined. Thus I was reading sports novels and Tom Swift. But walking into that civic center room and having all these female fans of Maud’s books asking for my autograph or a photo let me know: The stories created by this Mankato native, as well as their idyllic aura, still resonate strongly. An actual flesh and blood connection to that era is meaningful.

had a “big hill” growing up in West Mankato; it’s a subdivision now. You had to hike there, going out the railroad tracks (Red Jacket Trail), then down a ravine and up the hill. I still recall lying there amid the grasses, gazing up at a vast, blue summer sky. There’s a popular meme circulating on the internet that refers to how we post-war kids would romp outside, dawn to dusk, experiencing creativity and risk, and how, by golly, that stood us in pretty good stead! Nowadays, the scoffers say, kids just hunker down in their bedrooms or family rooms, practicing hand-to-eye coordination with video games, or checking their Facebook status or texting virtual friends. What’s to become of them? •••• Some of my first pieces for this magazine, back in June and July of 2008, explored the implications of becoming a “codger” or a “curmudgeon” as one ages. I’m not ready yet for full “codger-dom,” simply griping that things aren’t like they used to be. But I do lament the passing of small-town life. It’s a function of demographics: As more and more of the population concentrates in urban areas, as farms grow larger and fewer, thus producing fewer farm kids, that classic American archetype, the “small-town kid,” symbol of wholesomeness and can-do attitude, becomes an everrarer species.

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I can just imagine the Big Hill as a lovely, mostly open place when Maud’s girlfriend characters in the series, Betsy, Tacy and Tib, went up there to frolic and to daydream. The Big Hill is now, of course, the highend Sumner Hills neighborhood above Lincoln Park. My friends and I

OK, so we acknowledge that all those open spaces where Betsy and Tacy and Pete used to play are now developed. Sure, our young ones can still go to a neighborhood park or Rasmussen Woods. Fact is, big city kids never had the open-spaces opportunities that my small-town

44 • August 2013 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

generation did. And I’m not here to bemoan the growth of Mankato. I think it’s exciting to have three zipcodes! I look forward to more. Still, something is lost. Neil Young knows it. While surely happy with his artist’s life that is sustained largely by big urban audiences who pay for his music, he still sings the wistful ballad about his boyhood home in rural Ontario, the place that is just a memory now, and it leaves him “Helpless, Helpless.” In 1970, Cat Stevens acknowledged advancing technology and urbanization, the skyscrapers, jumbo planes, superhighways, and then he asked, “Where do the children play?” •••• My backyard on a bucolic morning in June. Not the Big Hill, but a decent approximation. Sky blue, lilacs blooming, wind calm, dewpoint pleasant. It seems a peaceful world out there, but of course it’s not. It remains a stage for prey and predator. Be happy you’re not an insect being chased by a dragonfly, which entomologists say is a far more efficient killing machine than a velociraptor or Arnold Schwarzenegger ever represented. And for the robins, worms are ribeyes. Dozens of geese flew overhead a little past sunrise, probably heading for one of our urban ponds. They were honking noisily. The male cardinal, too, was calling lustily. A mosquito that somehow escaped the dragonfly buzzed by my ear and didn’t escape me. I noted, I was glad I wasn’t wearing earbuds. I was listening to life, still beholding a world that for many is no more. M

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


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