Monday, May 31, 2010

Extra Curricular

This post has nothing to do with books or gardens. It's all about Dairy Queen.

Completely unintentionally, I have gotten myself quite involved with the preservation of the Roseville Dairy Queen. Who knew it was Minnesota's first DQ? (Or sort of...) It is an iconic tribute to 1950s car culture -- Roseville, Richfield and St. Louis Park are all totally 1950s suburbs. I have grown to find that first ring suburb stuff quite charming.

The DQ was named to the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota's 10 Most Endangered Buildings list for 2010. I was horrified to see my DQ on the list!

One of my friends built a Facebook page just to see what would happen. It was slow at first, but it has really taken off! We're up well over 400 "fans" and have generated a couple of newspaper articles.

We've got email conversations going with the Preservation Alliance on action steps. Not at all confident we'll be able to save the building, but geez, you gotta try!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


I usually don't read cookbooks from cover to cover. In fact, I never do, but sometimes I enjoy browsing through some, looking at the various recipes. Most often I am looking for inspiration for cooking that night's dinner, since I'm rarely organized enough to plan a week's menu in advance.

Of course, some cookbooks are more suitable for this than others. Mark Bittman's cookbooks are some of my favorites for menu ideas, and I love his no-nonsense style with suggestions for variations and shortcuts. (There's also a "How to Cook Everything" iPhone app.) "The Best Recipe" (also known as "the recipe book" in my house), pulling together recipes and techniques from the magazine "Cook's Illustrated," includes large blocks of text with explanations for the specific proportions and timings for each recipe. This is especially helpful for learning what makes a dish turn out the way it does - thicker or crunchier or whatever. The same goes for the King Arthur cookbooks, with variations for specific recipes so you can make brownies, say, with similar flavor but fudgier, cakier, thicker, thinner, etc.

This morning I picked up a cookbook I received for Christmas. It, too, has plenty of text, plus some lovely color photographs, and I couldn't remember why I hadn't used it at all yet. Then I started skimming through it, and I remembered: the layout is infuriating. Almost every recipe runs two pages, but the ingredients are on the right-hand side, and you have to turn the page to see the directions. It might make for good reading, but I don't think I'll ever cook from it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I want Betsy's Life

OK, just finished the Betsy Tacy series. I seriously don't think I ever read the whole series as a kid - can you believe that??? I know I read probably the first four, but not the last few. I wonder if they were really even around when we were kids? Of course they were around, but they certainly weren't popular.

So, truly, wouldn't Betsy's life be about perfect?