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Move over cheddar, American and Swiss. Specialty cheeses have arrived and are filling cases at local supermarkets. Camembert cheese imported from France, Taleggio from Italy, Gruyere from Switzerland. Offerings range from soft cheeses blended with fruit and sprinkled with herbs to sharp, full-flavored cheeses aged for years and sought by connoisseurs.
Locally made artisan cheeses can be found next to the imported cheeses in store specialty cheese cases. The cheeses are handcrafted by cheesemakers on small regional farms. The cheese is often made from the raw milk from cows, goats, or sheep that have been grass-fed, which produces a flavorful milk. Rather than duplicating the cheeses of Europe, these cheesemakers are creating their own unique brands using traditional methods and aging techniques. Among them are the Hedquist family of Carlton, which has become known for its Gouda.
Aaron Spitzer, who sells televisions at the Miller Hill Mall Sears store, is seeing a lot of confused customers these days. "The majority of people who come in ask what's going on with this," Spitzer said of the impending switch from analog to digital television. Over at Best Buy in Duluth, sales associate Dan Swartz finds he's spending time educating customers about the conversion and what it means. "A lot of people kind of gave up trying to keep up, especially my dad's generation, the baby boomers," he said. The switch to digital, which already has begun, will be complete on Feb.
For some time, Fran Jensen had meant to call the newspaper to see if anyone wanted the old Duluth News Tribune cookbooks she had kept for decades. The newspaper compiled the annual cookbooks from 1954 to 1974 in conjunction with a recipe contest that drew more than 6,000 entries when it started. Jensen, a lifelong Duluth resident, had kept each one. Throwing away items she cared about, such as her many cookbooks, was hard for Jensen.
A sampling of recipes from Duluth News Tribune's annual cookbooks, published from 1954 to 1974, follows: 1954 In the first Duluth News Tribune cookbook, published Sept. 5, 1954, Irene Hill of 322 W. Third St.
Where most see junk, Lisa Davis sees potential. The avid recycler finds new uses for old and discarded items and transforms castoffs into new creations. Davis turns wire fencing into chandeliers with old glass insulators serving as candleholders. Weathered picket fences become bookstands. Old oil pans become birdbaths. A circa 1930 refrigerator serves as a wine and storage cabinet. Old croquet balls are displayed in a bowl.
Charlene Ostman didn't like fruitcake when she was young. The much-maligned dessert -- traditionally made with candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices and soaked in liquor -- has long been the butt of jokes. Ostman blames her youthful aversion to the dried currants, hard candied fruit and citron used in many fruitcakes in those days. "It seemed bitter or strong, or I may have been a typical young person who didn't care for it," says the 80-year-old Midway Township woman. Her opinion changed in the 1980s when she came across a recipe using a cherries, dates and nuts.
Iver Bogen didn't have the energy to make his usual 100 pounds of fruitcake this year. But the 78-year-old University of Minnesota Duluth professor emeritus still made 50 pounds of the sweet, dark cakes. It takes him about three days to make 25 four-pound loaves. Bogen gives them to friends and family, sending loaves as far as Germany. He donated four loaves to the Christmas bake sale at the Unitarian Universalist Church, where each sells for $25. And of course, he keeps some fruitcake for himself. "Not everyone likes fruitcakes," Bogen admits.
Family tradition. Simple pleasures. Sharing with others. All three are reasons for local cooks to break out their candy thermometers each holiday season. When we asked readers to share their signature candies -- recipes for those "must have" sweets -- we got a variety of treats along with sweet stories. Jackie Kohn's tradition of making divinity, a creamy white fudge, and herchocolate-laced popcorn balls started as a way to please her parents. Anna Hammari began making Peanut Butter Balls in a church youth group and now makes the candies with her young children.
Since she was a little girl, Judy Bernhardt dreamed of having a cozy cottage. The dream took hold when her mother gave her a plate from Norway that featured a girl standing by a fence with a cottage in the distance. "It's heartwarming," Bernhardt said of her plate's image. "I fell in love with this." Last year, Frank Bernhardt decided his wife had waited long enough.