Life in a Northern Town

The Day After The WinterDash

I did something extremely out of character yesterday- I participated in Ashwabay's first ever 5K WinterDash. Basically, it was an obstacle course on the ski hill, in the woods and in the snow. While athletic prowess is not one of the top ten things about Mary, it was a grand adventure. My friends Ellen, Meghan and Tammy tackled the course with me and we finished the race with great style and panache. My friend Julie captured the 'Final Four' finish. Last but not least, right??

All that exercise got me thinking about grocery shopping. Ted suggested a trip to Duluth today and that means a stop at one of my favorite places- Northern Waters Smokehaus. The first time I stepped in that store a few years ago, I thought I had died and gone to heaven- country pâté, bacon, pancetta, chorizo, andouille and the best coriander and black pepper smoked salmon I have ever eaten. They use local meats and fish- Berkshire pork from Iowa, bison from North Dakota, free range turkey from Minnesota and fish from Lake Superior. I am a sucker for smoked and cured meats wrapped in white butcher paper. Seeing all those packages in my refrigerator gives me a thrill.

The next stop on our provisioning trip was a stop at Tetzner's Dairy to pick up milk. Tetzner's is a dairy farm about 10 miles from my house, outside Washburn. They sell the milk and ice cream in an outbuilding on the honor system. You write your purchases (in pencil) on an envelope, put the money in the envelope and deposit it in a black box attached to the counter. The cows have a stunning view of Lake Superior and Chequamegon Bay- I think that is why the milk tastes so good. Of course, my favorite part of the stop is the friendly black lab who meanders up to say hello.

Last stop in the provisioning tour was picking up the eggs my friend, Jennifer, gathers from her hens. I can say with absolute certainty, once you taste fresh, local eggs you will never be satisfied with grocery store eggs. We go through at least a dozen a week. My son Charlie loves scrambled eggs but will only make them if they are 'local eggs'. The eggs are dropped off in a cooler in the basement of a house a couple blocks over. You bring your empty cartons back (I am horrible at remembering to do this), cross your name of the list and head home with Jennifer's hens hard work nestled in a carton.

In the interest of full disclosure, Ted and I ate at Culver's (I like the onion rings) on the way into Duluth and stopped at Sam's Club (the kids eat hundreds of granola bars and thousands of bowls of cereal a week). Life is a series of small steps forward and few steps backward....I think we are making progess.