Janna Goerdt, for the News Tribune
VIRGINIA — Phyllis Rayton moved easily about the kitchen at the Salvation Army in Virginia, preparing a meal of chicken tenders basted with rosemary sauce and green beans cooked with bacon for a crowd of 50.
It's a dilemma for many small towns in northern Minnesota, where the town's founding fathers built grand schools and public buildings out of brick and marble and steel: what do you do with those buildings once they are phased out? Sometimes they are demolished. Sometimes they sit empty and gradually decay. But sometimes, the community takes another look, and decides to give them new life.
VIRGINIA — The same smell of warm milk chocolate still greets visitors when they walk through the front door of the iconic red-and-white striped Canelake's Candies on Chestnut Street in Virginia — and now, those treats are being made by the third generation of the Canelake family.
TOWER — The dress talked as Abbi Zapata bumped her feet across the floor. It was a gentle sound, as rhythmic as ice shards moving against a thawing shoreline. It's a century-old sound that originated in the American Indian tribes of northern Minnesota. Abbi's ancestors heard the sounds of jingle dresses, and Abbi's mother, Adrienne Whiteman, has heard them, too.
EVELETH — Tucked into the corner of a supply closet in the Eveleth Police Department is a cardboard box filled with stuffed animals. Blue teddy bears. Pink bunnies. A white tiger. To the officers, these are tools, just as much as those they wear on their belt. They are used to help comfort frightened children during stressful calls, or distract them while officers deal with their parents. Sometimes kids just need something to squeeze.
EMBARRASS — There will be space to linger, catch up with friends and neighbors, and talk about the weather with the postmaster. Oh, and probably buy a few stamps, too. A new post office, expected to open sometime after Christmas, will restore a community service to Embarrass. The small community hub is home to a greenhouse, a credit union, a convenience store and a cluster of people used to dealing with bone-chilling winter temperatures.
Shrimp, wine and hemp. Minnesota farmers are more likely to grow commodity crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat, but some people aren't satisfied with traditional farming. They want to branch out, grow something new, see what it's like to raise a quirky crop. Like shrimp or prawns, wine grapes or industrial hemp, all in Northeastern Minnesota.
Start with a tub of snow. Add water and stir until nice and slushy. Pack, pack, pack. Repeat. That's the recipe for a solid ice slide, like the ones revelers will enjoy at the 80th annual Laskiainen Finnish sliding festival this weekend in Palo. The festival is "one of the oldest ongoing ethnic festivals in the United States," Vivian Williams said. She has helped organize the festival for more than two decades. And, at age 85, she has been part of most of them.
EMBARRASS — It was a clear December morning, with temperatures in the double digits below zero. No wind. The sun shone over the Embarrass Town Hall. It was good ice candle-making weather. And so the town employees and a handful of volunteers gathered last week at the town hall to haul 113 two-gallon buckets of half-frozen water into the kitchen, run them under warm water to loosen the ice's grip, then haul the icy shells back outside and onto a pickup truck.
Carol Marsh describes her cooking and baking preferences as more "Taste of Home" than "Bon Appetit." But the Minnesota State Fair pie judges might describe Marsh's creations this way: yum.