New from James Beard Cookbook Hall of Famer Beatrice Ojakangas

This post is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Press.

Breakfast with Beatrice: 250 Recipes from Sweet Cream Waffles to Swedish Farmer’s Omelets

Breakfast may be, as some say, the most important meal—but not unless it’s the best tasting. With the help of James Beard Cookbook Hall of Famer Beatrice Ojakangas, that is precisely what breakfast will be. With recipes drawn from her storied career and honed in her home kitchen, Breakfast with Beatrice prepares the cook—seasoned veteran or novice—to make breakfast the perfect start to every day.

Becca Dilley Photography

Sweet or savory, classic or surprising, fancy or short order, these are breakfasts for every occasion, with simple ingredients, straightforward instructions, and the occasional anecdote (Veterinarian’s Breakfast, anyone?). Whip up a smoothie on the go. Chill a parfait overnight for a ready-made morning treat. Dress up good, old-fashioned porridge for a hot and hearty start to the day. Make a meal of the smorrebrod, a breakfast sandwich favored in Denmark, with anything from cheese and fruit to smoked fish and meat piled on a slice of crusty bread. Whether you favor a grain-rich loaf or a handy quick bread, or a sweet treat like Cardamom Coffee Braid or an elaborate Danish pastry, these recipes will satisfy your morning palate. For more leisurely breakfasts (or for dinner when it’s kids’ choice), there are pancakes and mouth-watering cream waffles to warm the heart. From quiches and casseroles to waffles with berries, Breakfast with Beatrice is a treasury of recipes worth waking up for.

Please join us for the launch of Breakfast with Beatrice on Saturday, May 5 at the American Swedish Institute. (More information here)

With the help of James Beard Cookbook Hall of Famer Beatrice Ojakangas, breakfast will be not only the most important meal of the day, but the best tasting. With recipes drawn from her storied career and honed in her home kitchen, Breakfast with Beatrice prepares the cook—seasoned veteran or novice—to make breakfast the perfect start to every day.

Giftable: The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

This post is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Press.

What’s it about? Sean Sherman, the Oglala Lakota chef and founder of The Sioux Chef, dispels outdated notions of Native American fare; no fry bread, dairy products, or sugar here. The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen features healthful plates that embrace venison, duck, blueberries, sage, amaranth, and abundant wildflowers. This volume is a delectable introduction to the modern indigenous cuisine of the Dakota and Minnesota territories.

Who’s it a good gift for? Home cooks looking to expand their cooking repertoire with indigenous recipes and unique flavors.

Where’s it available? At your local bookseller, online at, or by calling 800.621.2736.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Heavy Table’s 2017 Local Food Gift Guide

Finding the best gifts for serious food people is no joke. You’ve got shops, catalogues, websites, and a half-dozen other ways to track down what you’re looking for, and time and money are sadly not infinite. Fortunately, you’ve got us working on your behalf. Here we present more than 100 different items for any price range, from “a little something” to “wow, I really do love you,” all with eating, drinking, and entertaining in mind and most with a serious Minnesota twist.

All capsule gift reviews written by Amy Rea and James Norton; beer and spirits capsules by Paige Latham Didora. This guide is presented by our underwriting sponsors: Afton Alps Ski & Golf, El Burrito Mercado, Crapola Granola, Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Golden Fig Fine Foods, Indeed Brewing Company, Lift Bridge Brewing, Minnesota Historical Society Press, Mississippi Market, Nordic Ware, Northern Clay Center, Running Aces, Sociable Cider Werks, Tattersall Distilling, Velvet Bees Honey Butter, Vision Wine and Spirits, The Wedge and Linden Hills Co-op, and Wisco Pop!.

The Appetizers: Gifts Under $10

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Bizzy Coffee Shots | $2.50 each 2-ounce bottle | Lakewinds Co-op
A stocking stuffer that packs a punch. Brewed in St. Paul, each bottle has a double shot of organic cold brew with your choice of sweet flavors, like vanilla or caramel, or just plain black coffee.

Sweet Jules Minneapolis Pub Crawl Caramels | $4.50 for 4 caramels | France 44 Cheese Shop
Sweet Jules is based in Minnetonka and now offers caramels blended with local ales. Flavors included are Town Hall’s Gold; Surly’s Furious; Indeed’s Midnight Ryder; and Lift Bridge’s Chestnut Hill Ale. Additional ingredients include pretzels, chills, and popped quinoa, all well paired with the sweet, creamy caramels.

Sweet Pea Ricotta Dip | $6 for 7.2 ounces | France 44 Cheese Shop
Ricotta, mint, peas, basil–what a lovely, springlike dip or spread. It’s bright and fresh and would be great tossed with pasta. Serve it with crudites to lighten up your holiday table.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Chip Magnet Salsa | $6 for 16 ounces | Lakewinds Co-op
Made in Eau Claire, Wis., Chip Magnet not only has a cheeky name, it offers salsas in a range of flavors from Mildly Delicious to Garlicious to its bestseller, Cilantro Lime. While cilantro is a noticeable presence in the customer favorite, it doesn’t overwhelm the tomatoes but complements them in a mild but flavorful salsa.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Isabel Street Heat Fermented Hot Sauces | $6-$7.50 per 5-ounce bottle | Linden Hills Co-op
We’ve talked before about our love for St. Paul’s Isabel Street hot sauces, and our opinion hasn’t changed. Each hot sauce is an entity unto itself, with entirely different flavors and levels of heat from its siblings. Put out a series of these with chips for dipping, or use them for hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. There’s something for everyone here.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Belvoir Elderflower & Rose Lemonade or Ginger Beer | $6.50 for 25.4 ounces | Wedge Community Co-op
These grown-up organic sodas offer tasteful, sophisticated alternatives to regular carbonated beverages and stand alone well or can be paired up in cocktails. The Elderflower & Rose Lemonade is a gentle, sweet beverage, while the Ginger Beer offers up a punchy ginger kick. The latter would be an especially good base for a Moscow mule.

Sponsored by the Nordic Ware Factory Store: This would be a great gift for the waffle lovers in your life. This stovetop waffle iron makes beautiful Belgian-style heart-shaped waffles for special morning meals. The waffles made in this pan have extra deep pockets to capture butter, syrup, fruit, whipped cream, and more. Find more holiday gifts and ideas at the Nordic Ware Factory Store, a family-owned, American manufacturer of quality cookware, bakeware, microwave and grilling products and specialty kitchenware, now in its 71st year. The Factory Store in St. Louis Park is frequented by home cooks, chefs, and restaurant owners and hosts twice-monthly evening cooking classes. 4925 County Road 25/Highway 7, St. Louis Park; 952.924.9672.

Double Take Hot Sauces | $6.50 each 5-ounce bottle | Lakewinds Co-op
Minnesota-based Double Take Salsa produces a line of hot sauces, each marked with the encouraging phrase, “Flavor first, heat second.” But make no mistake — these are indeed hot sauces. The Ghost Pepper Pineapple has a sweetness to it, but in the end, you can’t miss the ghost pepper, while the Scotch Bonnet Mustard is searing. Perfect for the hot sauce aficionado.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Stranger Things Thunder Lizard Mug | $7 | Science Museum of Minnesota
If getting a copy of the hoodie Dustin wore in the first episode of Stranger Things’ second season isn’t enough for you, the Science Museum also has the now-beloved logo on a mug. A purple mug, of course, to match the hoodie.

Noteworthy Dive Bar Guides by William Lindeke | $7 | TCSidewalks Online Store
Join writer Bill Lindeke for a series of street-level cultural and historical tours of prominent dive bars throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul — everything from the Hexagon (in Noteworthy Dive Bars of South Minneapolis) to Porky’s (Payne and Arcade) to Dusty’s (Outer Northeast). Perfect for a fan of Minnesota folk history and/or old-fashioned drinkin’.

Antler Napkin Holders | $7 (napkins not included) | Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. Fold your dinner napkins into these cheerful gold antlers, and voila, your table is immediately more gladsome.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Mama Doha’s Egyptian Jam | $8 | Lakewinds Co-op
The recipes sold under the Mama Doha come from family in Egypt and are produced in a kitchen in St. Paul. The pumpkin ginger is mildly sweet, with just a touch of ginger and lemon juice and would be delicious on a sturdy bread, especially something with grains or seeds.

Chemical Formula for Caffeine Mug | $7.50 | Science Museum of Minnesota
This will allow the fortunate giftee to come alive in the morning and feel erudite at the same time. Always good to know what’s in the cup.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Speculoos Cookies | $8 for 4.8 ounces | France 44 Cheese Shop
These cookies are so charming to look at that you might just want to leave them on display. But go ahead — try them. They’re delicate and crispy, with a mildly sweet taste that just begs to be dunked in milk, coffee, or cocoa. They’d also make a wonderful stocking stuffer.

Sponsored by Afton Alps Ski & Golf: Pictured above: the Epic Burger at Paul’s Pub, Afton Alps Ski & Golf, 6600 Peller Ave S, Hastings; 651.436.5245. A towering creation with an alpine twist on the classic bacon and cheddar burger; rooted in an American tradition and crafted to rival the glories of perfectly etched turns, exhilarating descents, and big air. Yep, you read that right. Pair it with a beer. Transform a boring day into a snow day. Give yourself permission to have fun. This is your winter … Afton Alps is your new backyard, leave the grilling to us. Keep your focus on enjoying our 300 skiable acres and 47 runs.

Animal Holiday Mug | $8 | Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
There’s nothing wrong with a little cuteness at the holidays, and this series of mugs sold at the Arboretum manages to be cute in a restrained way. Each mug has a woodland creature of some sort with a cheery holiday greeting inside the mug. They’re sturdy and large enough to hold as much caffeine or hot cocoa (or hot toddy) as you need to get through December.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Jalama Valley Christmas Lima Beans | $8 for 1 pound | France 44 Cheese Shop
Produced by a third-generation family farm in California, Jalama Valley’s beans are grown without pesticides. They’re also dry-farmed, a technique that relies on the residual moisture in the ground from winter rains rather than summer irrigation — a risky proposition in drought-stricken California. But the end result is a flavorful, healthy bean that’s grown and harvested by the family farmer himself, sorted by his kids, and put into packaging designed by his wife, making it truly a family affair.

Giftable: Homemade by Beatrice Ojakangas

ojakangas-homemade-coverThis post is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Press. As the holidays approach, our Giftable series features a range of food- and drink-related items.

What’s it about? This memoir from James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame author Beatrice Ojakangas is chock-full of recipes, anecdotes, and a kind humor that bring to vivid life the Finnish culture of Northern Minnesota as well as the wider culinary world. Homemade delivers the savory and the sweet in equal measures and casts a warm light on a rich slice of the country’s cooking heritage.

Who’s it a good gift for? Foodies — whether they’re Finnish or not — and all those who appreciate a good story.

Where’s it available? Buy online at or call 800.621.2736.


Lake Superior Flavors: 12 Outtakes

lake-superior-flavors-325-heightThis post is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Press.

Incomplete information, thematic differences, plain old lack of space: These are just a few of the reasons good stories don’t make the pages of the books that unearthed them. Here are a few of our favorite outtakes from Lake Superior Flavors: A Field Guide to Food and Drink Along the Circle Tour, which launched this week.

Join authors Becca Dilley and James Norton at Kitchen Window tomorrow night for a special “Behind the Pages” presentation and food sampling. And the authors will also appear Monday, April 21 at 7pm at Common Good Books in St. Paul.

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors
Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

The Copper Harbor Can-Can

NORTON: “The Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor, at the tip of the Keweenaw, has an absurd but charming ritual: Whenever a ferry from Isle Royale cruises past the restaurant, the servers all drop what they’re doing and run outside to wave and dance a can-can for the passengers. It slows down service a bit, but it’s worth it for the sheer silly spectacle of the thing.”

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors
Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Teatime on St. Joseph Island

DILLEY: “We enjoyed this quiet traditional high tea on an island outside of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The setting was beautiful, the food was tasty, the experience was cozy and comfortable. “

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors
Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Superior’s Icy Cold Hand of Watery Death

NORTON: “Our dawn trip out past Knife Island with herring fisherman Steve Dahl was, hands down, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life — the interplay between birds and sky, fish and net, and boat and waves was constantly engaging. It was also, for a weak swimmer like myself, totally terrifying. Dahl’s skiff sat low enough in the water that it felt as though there were just a couple old centimeters of wood between myself and certain death in Lake Superior’s icy grip. But, yeah. Very beautiful, too. Above, you can see me trying on one of the numerous shades of green I modeled that morning.”

Lake Superior Flavors by James Norton and Becca Dilley

lake-superior-flavors-650Keeping Heavy Table running isn’t quite enough to keep James Norton and Becca Dilley busy (even though you’d really think it should be). When the couple had finished up The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin, an oral history of the state of the cheese industry in that state, they started looking around for a new project, one they could approach in a similar way.

So, they looked north.

Their newest book is Lake Superior Flavors: A Field Guide to Food and Drink Along the Circle Tour (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). Like Master Cheesemakers, Lake Superior Flavors combines culinary sleuthing (it’s hard to keep a hidden gem hidden from Norton and Dilley) with fascinating interviews and nearly 100 remarkable photos.

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors
Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

Norton’s the writer and Dilley’s the photographer, but they do their research and their traveling together. Over the course of a half dozen trips (including two completely around the lake), they visited more than 75 restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and brewhouses — just about any sort of place where you can get a bite or a sip. They talked to chefs, bakers, brewers, foragers, goat-farmers, cultural interpreters, and jam-making monks. And then they took all of that raw material and put together a loving portrait of the foodways of the Lake Superior region.

(You can meet Dilley and Norton and taste some of their favorite foods at Kitchen Window on April 18; they’ll also be signing books and doing a reading at Common Good Books on April 21 and at the Fitger’s bookstore in Duluth on May 3. On July 19 at 9am, they’ll sign books and talk about their travels at World’s Best Donuts in Grand Marais.)

Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors
Becca Dilley / Lake Superior Flavors

HEAVY TABLE: Can you talk a little bit about how the book came to be?

BECCA DILLEY: Years before, I had read an article in National Geographic Traveler about the Shipwreck Coast around Lake Superior. It seemed like a place that still had a lot of ragged edges to it, even though a lot of it is so heavily touristed.

JAMES NORTON: Lake Superior feels like a legitimate region, like a separate place. It’s not just Wisconsin. It’s not just Minnesota. It’s not just Canada. It’s its own world. And one of the defining features of a world is its cuisine, the way people eat, the folkways.

An Excerpt from Atina Diffley’s New Book, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works

By T.L. Gettings © Rodale Institute

An excerpt from Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works
By Atina Diffley
University of Minnesota Press

We hear bulldozers start up, back where the school will be built. Martin and I meet eyes, but we don’t say anything. He glances sideways at Eliza, then back to me. I tip my head toward the wire, and we keep planting. The idling engine changes to the crushing and falling of trees and the beep-beep of backup warning. Eliza drops her basket and runs to her tree. Maize dumps the beetles and squishes them under his bare heel. He sends the jar flying into the woods and then takes off running toward the bulldozers.

Martin races after him. I’m thinking, they shouldn’t be hearing this. Then I realize it’s too late for that. There is no sheltering from it. We will not only hear it. We will see it and feel it. We sit down together, pulled into a family huddle. Eliza is shaking underneath her skin. Her lips are moving. One tear hangs trembling in the corner of each clenched eye. She squeezes them tighter.

Maize whispers, “Stop them.” His voice cracks, like it’s trying to break through the wall between frightened and angry, “Stop them, Dad.”

I don’t think Martin even hears him. He is staring. His skin is drained of blood. I don’t know what to say. They are too young to be learning that their parents are not all-powerful beings who can protect them from everything. “We can’t stop them.” I say. “They own it, but we are going to buy our own farm. We’re going to move to a new home and land, and I promise you, no one will ever bulldoze it.” I don’t know when, or where, or how. But I know we will do it.

“I don’t want a new farm,” Maize says. “I want this one.” Eliza and Martin sit mute, just holding on to each other.

When Atina Diffley made this promise in 1989 she had no idea that she would ever be called upon to keep it. Seventeen years later their new farm was threatened by eminent domain for a crude oil pipeline proposed by one of the largest privately owned companies in the world, notorious polluters Koch Industries.

Following the proposed route, I measure out and pound stakes down the center of MinnCan’s pipeline corridor. I attach the twine: through the seven threatened fields, stake to stake through the young kale plants, across the lush and tangled nitrogen-sequestering hairy vetch, down into and back out of the grass-covered waterway that also serves as beneficial insect habitat, through the just-planted-yesterday broccoli, the plot ready for watermelon planting as soon as the weather breaks, across the rye and vetch soil-building crop, and, finally, the field where yesterday the crew laid compost in long lines to prepare for tomato planting.

When I get to the end, I look at the installation diagram. “Front- End Grading.” I look back at the string line running the width of the farm and see giant machines forcing their way. The kale, broccoli, rye, and vetch lie flattened, trampled — innocent victims. The topsoil sticks to the bulldozer tracks as they lug through mud, compacting a permanent footprint, an indelible mark, forever on the soil.

Again at the paper. “Topsoil Stripping.” I look up and see the well- aggregated soil particles crushed. Microorganisms starving, dying. Water channels collapsed. I see a line of Topsoil pushed aside, a long, low ridge. The work zone of the easement is an exposed stripe of bare, brown, skinless subsoil. Veins of erosion scour the surface.

The paper. “Stringing Pipe, Field Bending Pipe, Initial Weld, X-Ray Inspection, Coating Field Weld.” Heavy trucks and toxic substances, leaking, dripping, soaking into the soil where we once grew food.

“Trenching, Backfilling.” Backhoes digging and beeping and belching diesel smoke. Ripping a seam through the parent material — the mineral source of this landscape. Tearing a hole through the greenness of my life. “Replace Topsoil, Fill-Up, Full Restoration.”

Forty feet of the easement width titled “Spoil Side.” Sixty feet titled “Working Side.” I see a hundred-foot-wide stripe of pasture mix, our attempt to rebuild the soil, but no vegetables growing.

I know what this looks like. I’ve seen it before. And I know what it feels like. I’m not willing to do it again. I remember the promise I made — it seems like a lifetime ago now — sitting in the Woods Field with Martin, Maize, and Eliza, listening to the first bulldozers flattening trees in Eagan. “We’re going to move to a new home and land, and I promise you, no one will ever bulldoze it.”

The switch flips. The truth grows bigger and stronger the longer I stand reflecting. I am not a victim, not even a potential victim. I am the guardian here, the human voice for these faultless plants and this generous soil. I am alone right now standing in this field, but I am not alone in this commitment to life. There are thousands of people who will stand up for this kale, for this land, and for this issue. This soil and these plants are not only our witnesses and experts; they are our partners and allies.

Maybe it is historically true that pipeline companies don’t change routes for landowners. But this time they have picked the wrong plant, on the wrong farm, the wrong woman, and the wrong community.

I take down the string and pull out the stakes; the thought of leaving them up feels like a curse. And that is key. There is no curse.

Not on this land.

Atina Diffley is an organic vegetable farmer who now educates consumers, farmers, and policymakers about organic farming through the consulting business Organic Farming Works LLC, owned by her and her husband, Martin. From 1973 through 2007, the Diffleys owned and operated Gardens of Eagan, one of the first certified organic produce farms in the Midwest.

For more information on Turn Here Sweet Corn, including upcoming events with Diffley, click here.

Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America

Lori Writer / Heavy Table
Lori Writer / Heavy Table

“In the isolated mountain villages of their Laotian homeland, cooking was… the stuff of tradition, not the written word. Good Hmong cooks learned from their elders which ingredients to use, and how much of each, by sight, feel, and taste.  Recipes were never written down and followed ‘to the letter.’ Cooking, like other Hmong arts and crafts, came ‘from the heart.'”

(From Cooking from the Heart: The Hmong Kitchen in America by Sami Scripter and Sheng Yangpublished this month by the University of Minnesota Press ($29.95; 248 pages, hardcover with color photos, available at Hmong ABC Bookstore at 298 University Ave. W in St. Paul).

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Sheng Yang, and her parents and four siblings, immigrated to the United States — first to Kentucky, then Oklahoma, and then, Oregon —  in 1979, when she was nine. Sami Scripter, married and tending to her growing family, was Sheng’s neighbor in Portland, OR. Sami worked as an educator at Sheng’s elementary school. Speaking to a small audience at the Hmong Cultural Center in St. Paul on Thursday, Scripter recalls, “One year you didn’t know what Hmong was, and the next year a quarter of the children in school were Hmong.”

Yang says that over the years their “two families have become almost one.” Scripter adds, “We got to know each other the way neighbors know each other.” They gardened together in the Scripter’s backyard using seeds Sheng’s mother had carried from Laos and Thailand. Sami taught Sheng and her mother how to preserve raspberry jam.

As a sixth grader, to improve her English, Sheng lived with the Scripters, rooming with Sami’s daughter, Emily, in a bunk bed Don Scripter built for the two girls. “Sami learned to cook rice the Hmong way using an hourglass-shaped pot and woven basket steamer, and Sheng learned how to make… meatloaf, baked potatoes, and peach pie,” the authors write.