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For Joseph Johnson of Bayfield, comfort food is the Danish aebleskivers he makes whenever company comes over. In assembly-line fashion, Johnson cooks and serves up the hot pancake-like Danish specialty in a special cast-iron pot as people sit around the table talking. For Aaron Brown of Bovey, comfort food is Kraft macaroni and cheese, just like he had with hot dogs as a boy.
Dave Severson goes to nurseries and looks for trees that are half-dead. He checks roadside ditches for trees with damaged tops or cut down to stumps. He can always grow a new top, he says. It's the root ball and trunk he's interested in. Severson, 59, grows bonsai trees the adventurous way. While some gardeners begin with seed or cuttings or with a store-bought bonsai, Severson starts with young or stunted trees he transplants. The more gnarled, twisted and asymmetrical the trunk base, the better to get the aged look desired.
Wendy Savage recalls waking up at night to the smell of wild rice cooking. As children, the aroma would rouse her and her five siblings. They would get up and creep cautiously toward the kitchen and peek in. "My dad would laugh and say, 'I can never get away with it,' " Savage recalled. "He could never get away with making a bowl just for himself. It became the family joke.
In 1963, married women who worked full time were not commonplace.
Some people in Duluth need look no further than their arborvitaes for evidence of the city's increased deer population. The shrubs sport the telltale "browse line" at about 5 feet, below which the greenery has been eaten away and the top is left green. The damage has appeared in parts of Duluth that hadn't had seen much damage like that before. Ethel O'Leary noticed the arborvitaes in front of her Woodland house getting thinner last summer. But in the last two months, the lower three-quarters went bare. "I thought they were just dying," she said.
Winter interest," says garden designer Edith Pederson, "is when you look out the window and see a weeping tree or conifer with snow on it. It's the garden plants we leave standing throughout the winter and the snow and the ice that hang on." It's the copper-colored bark of amur chokecherry or the peeling bark of river birch, standing out against a whitewashed landscape.
Gary Baregi was having trouble finding good bulk caramel. "Good, to-die-for-caramel is expensive," explained Baregi, executive chef of Grandma's Saloon and Grill in Duluth's Canal Park. Frustrated, he decided to make his own caramel -- and he'll need 20 pounds of it -- for the 800 Pecan Caramel Clusters he is making for the 10th annual Death by Chocolate fundraiser on Tuesday. His quest for the perfect caramel meant experimenting to create a caramel that would yield a chewy pecan cluster to his satisfaction and be irresistible when dipped in chocolate. "It takes patience," he said.
The last time Susan Cora's oil tank was filled, it cost her $588. "And that will last me about a month-and-a-half in winter," she said. She's watched her heating bill climb from an average of $85 a month three years ago to $195 a month this year.
With winter, it's a given. The temperature plummets and furnace problems escalate. "They break down because they run so much more this time of year," said Glenn Wirtanen, service manager for Plaunt Plumbing and Heating in Duluth. "On really cold days, they're probably running 40 minutes each hour instead of 15 minutes out of the hour in October or November." Service calls keep Wirtanen's crew busy repairing and replacing conventional furnaces on the coldest days of winter. Most of the problems are because of a lack of maintenance, he said.
When John Meehan married his wife, Dee Dee, in 1954, neither of them was a good cook. But thanks to a recipe that appeared in the 1954 Duluth News Tribune cookbook, she made great spaghetti. In the Air Force at the time, John was soon shipped off to Germany, where Dee Dee later joined him. During their four years living in Germany, they would have the spaghetti three times a week. John, who loved the dish, recalls putting on weight during those years. "We don't remember the ingredients, but do remember this recipe called for all the ingredients to be strained," John said.