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Minnesota food blogger gets nods from TV, magazine

Molly Yeh, food blogger and author stands in her rural East Grand Forks, Minn., farm house. Yeh released “Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm" and was named on Forbes’ 2017 “30 Under 30” list. Jesse Trelstad / Forum News Service

EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. — Molly Yeh's renown has reached beyond her corner of the Midwest. The East Grand Forks food blogger was named to Forbes' 2017 "30 Under 30" list in the food and drink category Jan. 3, and she's set to appeared on "The Today Show" last week to make a chicken pot pie and tater tot recipe from her cookbook "Molly on the Range."

"I let out a little scream," Yeh said of receiving the news that Forbes had included her in its "30 Under 30" feature. "It's nice to be recognized for work that I really love doing."

During her trip to New York to appear on "The Today Show," Yeh will also attend a launch party and falafel tasting at Taim, a Manhattan restaurant. Through January, the restaurant will feature a falafel dish she created as part of the restaurant's guest chef series in 2017.

According to Yeh, the recipes she posts on her blog "My Name is Yeh" draw inspiration from her Jewish and Chinese roots, as well as her Midwestern home. Coming up with recipes involves a lot of experimenting to put her own twist on familiar foods.

"I'll hear about a certain bread that sounds peculiar that might have been slow-baked ... overnight for eight hours and then decide that I want to figure out how to make that in the Midwest with ingredients that are available to me here," she said. "I always try to add a reason to put another recipe for a loaf of challah into the world."

Her adoption of Midwestern cooking didn't start out smoothly. Yeh remembers the first time she tried to make lefse. It was 2013, and she had just moved to East Grand Forks. She knew she had to try her hand at the Norwegian classic because it was the second-biggest conversation topic with people she met in her new home after the freezing winters. As an experienced chef, she figured she would have an easy time, but she had only a recipe from her husband's great aunt and none of the right equipment. The attempt did not turn out well.

"I was not only failing at this really difficult recipe to make, but I was also questioning my potential to be a Midwestern wife," Yeh said, laughing. "The first time making it, I was just brought to tears, and it was a disaster."

Yeh, 27, enrolled in the Juilliard School to study classical percussion but ultimately chose a path of culinary writing after developing a love for food during her time in New York. In 2009, she founded "My Name is Yeh" to record life with her husband on a sugar beet farm. Saveur magazine honored "My Name is Yeh" its Blog of the Year in 2015.

Cakes are her favorite thing to make. "If I could spend one day doing one thing, it would just be decorating cakes," she said. Two of her favorite kinds are a chocolate cake with rosemary frosting and a funfetti recipe.

Yeh said her best advice for anyone wanting to get into cooking is to spend time in the kitchen with someone else. "Have somebody teach you their favorite recipe, and that way you can really see how it's done, you can ask as many questions as you want, and you can really get to know that recipe before going on to the next recipe."