Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Some women wear their 
Sensuousness like 
Sequined magenta gowns, 
All sparkling strut and stride,
Pulsating like a neon sign,
All "Hey, world, here I am!"

As a mystified and impressed 
Observer, these women seem 
To be about extreme attitude 
And absolute confidence, 
Willingness to be out in the open,
Embracing complete acceptance 
About whatever is unequivocally true.

From 40s, 50s, 60s Midwest,
Still searching for middle 
Ground of self-acceptance and
Visibility, I aspire to my own 
Sense-of-self, my own version of
Letting my inner light reflect outward.

In the meantime, I laud and 
Appreciate women who let their
Eminence shine brilliantly, intently,
And without self-conscious apology.

You go, woman! Roar and shine!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 29, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


From same neighborhood 
And socioeconomic status,

Both single without children,
Variety of challenges.

She's made a good life
For herself: strong faith,

Interesting and contributive 
Employment, network of

Close friends, cozy home,
Cute pups, reliable car,

Attractive apparel, 
Warm sense of humor.

She is a supportive and 
Caring friend, which is

One of the best qualities 
Of a life well lived. Cheers!

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 22, 2014


Closely-associated women's 
Menstruation usually synchronizes.

For women of a certain age, 
Sans monthly cycles, we find

Alternate unintentional linkage:
Pointing to chair cum table

As the Other says, "Table?"
Not reading minds, but being

In sync, on similar wave lengths.
Ahh and Awe and Odd. Satisfying.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 20, 2014


Trek across West, from WA to CO
In four days. From verdant green to
Scrub-brush and tumbling weed; 
Rust-colored, wind-scored skeletal 
Cathedral spire relics; moonscape 
Tan-and-green layered pointed peaks.

Assisted packing; truck easily driven in
Two-hour rota; meals mostly from left-over
Largess in camping cooler; both of us 
Required to open/close rolling truck door to
Access first row of food and clothing supplies.

Second-story Motel 6 rooms to muffle
Others' noise. Accommodations
Good enough, but not repeatable any
Time soon. Learned from previous day
And flexible enough to incorporate each
New day's informative adventures.

Rough at end of trip as, first, I got ill, 
And then she got ill. Village of two offered
A spare as personal resources dwindled
To interdependence of capable individuals.

Working road trip through beautiful and 
Windy states; mission accomplished.
Fatigue followed by many requisite 
Hours of recuperative sleep and sleep.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 22, 2014

Monday, July 14, 2014


Four characteristic, nay, iconic 
delicacies (porketta, potica, 
Pasty/pasties, and Sammy's pizza),
Indelibly identified with Hibbing, MN,
On The Mesabi Iron Ore Range, on
Western edge of the Arrowhead 
Area in Northeastern Minnesota.
See brief descriptions below;
Detailed recipes on separate pages.

In this collaboratively-cooperative
And richly-ethnic region, these
Delicacies appear at special family 
Celebrations and, this past week,
At Hibbing, MN All-School Reunion.

During the All-school Reunion in
Hibbing, Minnesota, my hometown,
The Iron Ore Capital of the World,
We shared Sammy's Special pizza 
At Sammy's Pizza on Howard Street. 
The establishment now offers non-
Traditional gluten-free pizza crust.

Founded in 1954 and previously
Located across the street, we teens
Gathered at Sammy's on weekend
Nights, sharing an order of fries and,
Occasionally, an illicit cigarette;
Plugging the Juke Box to hear latest hits;
Observing and, hopefully, being observed.

On his way home from the Corner Bar,
At Howard Street and First Avenue,
Just across the street from Sammy's,
Dad often ordered Sammy's Special,
Sausage and green onions, cut into
Squares rather than slices, each square 
Containing small meat balls of spicy sausage.
When Dad left remainders on stove top
(Sans the convenience of microwaves),
We gladly feasted on room-temperature 
Sammy's Special pizza for breakfast. 

At summer picnics, Fourth of July and 
Summer birthdays, Auntie Jeanne
Often served porketta sandwiches
And potica in their backyard or 
At their cabin on Sturgeon Lake.
Both delicacies came from town stores:
Fraboni Sausage, Inc. and Sunrise Bakery.

Remainder of shared edibles came from
Competent kitchens of Auntie Jeanne, 
Grandmas Blake and Miettunen, and 
Mom: potato salad, jello of varied colors,
Hot dishes, watermelon, and cakes.

Families and friends met regularly at 
Dining room tables and outdoor picnic 
Tables to celebrate annual family, 
National, and church holidays,
Sharing cultural and regional fare.

Our senses chronicle our history and 
Specifically evoke gustatory memories.
European immigrants seeking work
In iron ore mines, brought rich family
Recipes to Northeastern Minnesota,
Spicing childhood taste buds 
As well as adult reminiscent images.

I adore my hometown. I appreciate
Opportunities to rekindle friendships
With relatives and peers and to feast
On familiar food and evocative sights.
Home is where my heart resides.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 14, 2014


PORKETTA: spiced pork roast, eaten on hard rolls (from Sunrise Bakery) with mayo and mustard.
L.G. Fraboni Sausage, Inc.
Producer and retailer of various sausage such as Bratwurst, Polish, and Italian Sausage.
1202 13th Ave E, Hibbing, MN
Jeanne Cooney ( http://www.jeannecooney.com/), Minnesota mystery writer offers recipe found at web site and on separate page in this blog.

POTICA: thinly rolled dough spread with cinnamon and walnuts, then rolled into a loaf; served best with hot, black coffee at mid-morn--or anytime at all.
1813 3rd Ave E, Hibbing, MN
Recipe at web site below and on separate page in this blog.

PASTY (short "a"): originally home baked for laborers' (Mesabi Range iron ore 
miners) lunches: thick, sturdy pie crusts filled with meat and vegetables, including potatoes and rutabagas. Stays hot until lunch, a complete package eaten without need for utensils.
Best childhood location: Finnish Lutheran Church on 7th Avenue on Wednesdays.

Pasty Recipes at website below and on separate page in this blog.
106 E Howard St, Hibbing
Sammy's Special: square cut sausage, green pepper, and onion pie


Porketta: spiced pork roast, eaten on hard rolls (from Sunrise Bakery) with mayo and mustard.
L.G. Fraboni Sausage, Inc.
1202 13th Ave E, Hibbing

Jeanne Cooney ( http://www.jeannecooney.com/), Minnesota mystery writer offers the following recipe:

Dry rub porketta, or porchetta, seasoning recipe from the Iron Range.

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. basil
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. cracked fennel seeds
1/2 Tbsp. thyme

Mix together well. Rub on a pork roast before roasting in the oven or grilling.
Recipe submitted by Pam Petron, on behalf of her cousin, Juliann Armbrust, who grew up in Hibbing and is now a FACS teacher in Medford, Wisconsin. Juliann often talks about how she misses the porketta from the Iron Range.


Potica: thinly rolled dough spread with cinnamon and walnuts, then rolled into a loaf; served best with hot, black coffee at mid-morn--or anytime at all.
Sunrise Bakery
1813 3rd Ave E, Hibbing, MN

Recipe at web site below and on separate page in this blog.

Slovenian Walnut Potica
This recipe is from the cookbook, Cooking on the Range, submitted by Jean Karsman of the Slovenian Women’s Association of Chisholm, Minnesota. (Many jealously guard their potica secrets.)

Yeast Mixture
5 tsp. dry yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
In a one-cup measure, dissolve yeast in warm water, add sugar, stir and let bubbles form on top.
Combine the ingredients to make the dough. Separate into two parts to make the top and bottom crusts for a 9-inch pie plate.

Dough Mixture
1-1/2 c. scalded milk (1 minute in microwave) Can use half as canned milk or half-and-half cream.
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 stick margarine
2 beaten eggs
6-1/2 to 7 cups flour (Jean uses Gold Medal regular)

Scald milk and margarine in microwave for 1 minute, add sugar, salt, eggs and yeast mixture. Stir and add flour, beginning with 6 cups, then gradually adding more flour until dough is no longer sticky.
Knead – with a dough hook or by hand on floured board for about 20 minutes until smooth. (Jean does half with dough hook at a time, and then kneads all for several minutes to combine.) Place in well-greased large bowl, cover and let rise in warm place or put bowl in hot tap water, changing water frequently to keep hot. (No kneading after dough is risen to top.) Line three pans with parchment paper. (Jean has 14-inch pans, so she makes three strips out of one batch as her table is 42 inches.) Spray paper with cooking spray such as Pam.

6 c. ground walnuts (about 1-1/2 lbs.)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 eggs beaten with 1 tsp. almond flavoring
1 c. scalded cream or canned milk with 1 stick real butter melted in and 1/2 c. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon

Add hot liquid to ground walnuts that have been mixed with sugars and cinnamon. Stir well, add eggs.
Return to bread dough, which should plop, not run. Carefully dump dough onto table that has been covered with a twin sheet or table cloth and lightly floured. Start with a rolling pin, rolling the dough to a rectangle about 24 by 36 inches. Then stretch dough to 42 by 60 inches or to your table size. Cut off any thicker edges. Drop filling by large spoonfuls over two-thirds of the dough (using hands spreads easiest and most uniformly.) Spread evenly to edges and pick up short edge of cloth and gently roll over and over itself.
Cut into pan-size strips and patch with leftover thin dough or cut with a small plate and pinch ends shut. Place in prepared pans and prick with cake tester (or turkey pin) to prevent air bubbles. Cover and let rise about 40 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325° F or 350° F depending on oven. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until golden brown. (Jean bakes hers at 340° F for about 35 minutes.) Remove from oven and let cool in pans for 20 minutes. Carefully dump out in hand, remove paper and set on a cooling rack. Cover with a cotton cloth and cool. (Jean wraps hers in plastic wrap and then freezer foil.) Freezes well for up to six months.


Pasty (short "a"): originally home baked for laborers' (Mesabi Range iron ore 
miners) lunches: thick, sturdy pie crusts filled with meat and vegetables, including potatoes and rutabagas. Stays hot until lunch, a complete package eaten without need for utensils.
Best childhood location: Finnish Lutheran Church on 7th Avenue on Wednesdays.

Pasty Recipes at website below and on separate page in this blog.
Original Pasty
     3 c. flour
     1 1/2 sticks butter (cold and cut into bits)
     1 1/2 tsp. salt
     6 tbsp. water
 In a large bowl, combine flour, butter and salt.  Blend ingredients until well combined and add water, one tablespoon at a time to form a dough.  Toss mixture until it forms a ball.  Kneed dough lightly against a smooth surface with heel of the hand to distribute fat evenly.  Form into a ball, dust with flour, wrap in wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.
     1 lb. round steak, coarsely ground
     1 lb. boneless pork loin, coarsely ground
     5 carrots, chopped
     2 lg. onions, chopped
     2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
     1/2 c. rutabaga, chopped (can substitute turnip)
     2 tsp. salt
     1/2 tsp. pepper
 Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Divide the dough into 6 pieces, and roll one of the pieces into a 10-inch round on a lightly floured surface.  Put 1 1/2 cups of filling on half of the round.  Moisten the edges and fold the unfilled half over the filling to enclose it.  Pinch the edges together to seal them and crimp them decoratively with a fork.  Transfer pasty to lightly buttered baking sheet and cut several slits in the top.  Roll out and fill the remaining dough in the same manner.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Put 1 tsp. butter through a slit in each pasty and continue baking for 30 minutes more.  Remove from oven, cover with a damp tea towel, cool for 15 minutes.
 Milwaukee Journal March 28, 1943  Welsh
 Michigan Tech Dining Services Pasty Recipe
This recipe makes 10 pasties.
Put about 12 oz filling in each crust.
3 1/2 flour
9 oz shortening
10 oz cold water
1TBl+1 tsp salt
3 1/2# potatoes,peeled
1 1/2# coarse ground pork
12 oz coarse ground beef
9 oz diced onions
8 oz diced carrots
7 oz diced rutabaga
1/4# butter
1TBl salt
1Tbl pepper
 Chop the carrots and onions. Dice the potatoes and rutabagas in a 3/8-inch dice. Mix all the filling ingredients together and set aside. Mix the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening, as for pie crust. Add the water and mix gently just until the dry particles are absorbed; do not over mix.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.On a floured surface, roll 4-ounce balls of dough into circles about the size of a dinner plate. Put about 12 ounces of filling on one half. Dampen the edges, fold crust over filling, and seal.Place on greased baking sheets (or use baking paper). Place in oven and bake for one hour. Serve with either catsup or gravy.
Meat and Vegetable Pasty
 Brown ½ lb cubed lamb or beef in 2 tbsp fat.  Remove from heat add 2 cups diced,
raw potatoes, 1 ½ cups dried raw carrots one cup diced celery and leaves, 1
tbsp salt ¼ tsp. pepper mix thoroughly.  Make rich dough by sifting 4 cups
flour, 4 tsp. baking powder 1 ½ tsp. salt. cut in ¾ cup shortening.  Add milk
to make a soft dough.
To make a meat and vegetable pasty, brown one-half pound cubed lamb or beef in two tablespoons fat.  Remove from heat and add two cups diced raw potatoes, one and one-half cups dried raw carrots, one cup diced celery and leaves, one tablespoon salt and one-fourth teaspoon pepper and mix thoroughly.  Make a rich dough by sifting together four cups enriched flour, four teaspoons baking powder and one and one-half teaspoons salt.  Cut in three-fourths cup shortening.  Add milk to make a soft dough-about one and three-fourths to two cups.  Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead gently one-half minute.  Roll one-fourth inch thick.  Cut into 8” rounds.  On half of each round put one cup filling.  Fold other half of round over filling, sealing edge firmly with finger tips or fork.  Bake on an un-greased baking sheet in a 375 degree oven 50 to 60 minutes.  This makes six large pasties.
Cornish Pasty
 Crust - 3 cups flour, 1 cup finely ground suet 1/4 cup lard 1 tsp. salt
6-7 tb. cold water
 Filling - 1lb beef (cubed or diced) 1/2 lb. pork, potatoes, turnip, onion,
parsley, some finely grated carrots are optional
 Blend lard into flour, preferably with pastry blender.  Add suet which has been finely ground.  Work in thoroughly with flour mixture.  Add cold water to make soft dough, just a little bit more moist than ordinary pastry dough but not as soft as biscuit dough.  Divide dough into four pieces and roll each piece out to size of dinner plate.  On one half of the rolled out dough build up the ingredients as follows a half-inch layer of finely chopped potatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Follow with a thin layer of sliced turnip, then a very thin layer of chopped onion and sprinkle with parsley.  Cover with about one fourth of mixed cubed beef and pork and season once more.  Top with piece of butter about the size of a walnut.  Now fold uncovered portion of dough over filled and crimp edges.  Your pasty is now somewhat in the shape of a half moon.  Make a one-inch slit in the top of the dough and place prepared pasty on a greases cookie sheet or a pie pan and put in the oven.  Bake at about 400 degrees for an hour.
Happiness Pasty
 Blend lard into flour.  Add the suet which has been ground through a food chopper, using finest cutter.  Work in thoroughly with flour mixture.  Add cold water to make a soft dough (more moist than pastry but not as soft as biscuit dough).
        Divide dough into four pieces and roll out each piece to about the size of a dinner plate.  On one half of the rolled-out dough, build up the ingredients as follows.
 1.         A half-inch layer of finely chopped or sliced potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper.
2.         A thin layer of sliced turnips.
3.         A very thin layer of chopped onions.
4.         A quarter of the mixed beef and pork and season once more.
5.         A piece of butter about the size of a walnut.  Now fold the uncovered portion of the dough over the filled portion and crimp the edges half-moon shape.  Make a one-inch slit in top of the dough and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet in 400-degree oven for one hour.
Finlandia Pasties
 4 cups flour, dash salt, 1 ½ cups solid vegetable shortening 1 cup cold water
 ½ lb ground beef ½ lb ground pork ¼ cup beef suet finely chopped
1 large potato peeled and cut into 3/8 in. cubes.  2 carrots peeled cut into
3/8 inch cubes  1 small red onion finely diced, ½ rutabaga or turnip peeled and
cut into 3/8 inch cubes. 1/8 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine all remaining ingredients in large bowl, using hands to mix until thoroughly combined, like meat loaf.
Divide dough into four equal parts.  Using a rolling pin on a floured board, roll each into an 8-inch to 10-inch circle.  Place 1 cup of filling in center of circle.  Fold both sides up and crimp firmly, forming a half-moon shape.
 Use a large spatula to lift each pasty from floured board, and set it on a greased cookie sheet.
Bake 75 minutes, until brown remove to wire rack.  Serve on plates, with gravy on the side if desired.  Yield: 4 meal size pasties.
(Ms. Wilson)
Pasties Michigan style (still from mines to supermarket)
 4 cups flour
salt 1 1/4 cups lard, chilled and cut into 1/4 inch bits
10 to 12 tablespoons ice water
2 pounds top round steak trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
5 medium potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium turnips, scraped and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
 In large, chilled bowl combined flour, 2 teaspoons salt and lard.  Working quickly, rub flour and fat together with fingertips until it looks like flakes of coarse meal.  Pour in 10 tablespoons ice water, toss together and gather dough into a ball.  If dough crumbles, add up to 2 tablespoons more water, a teaspoonful at a time, until the particles adhere.  Divide dough into 6 equal balls, dust them with flour, wrap in waxed paper and chill 1 hour.
 Combine beef, potatoes, onions, turnips, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper and mix well.  On lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough at a time into a rough circle about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a plate or pot lid about 9 inches in diameter as a guide, but the dough into rounds with a pastry wheel or sharp knife.  Place about 1 1/2 cups mixture in center of round and spread to make a center strip.  Fold one side of the round over that and press edges together snugly at one end.  Starting from the sealed end, press the two edges of the round together to encase the filling securely and form a double-thick band of dough about 1/2 inch wide along the seam across the top.  With your fingers crimp together.  Carefully transfer with large spatula to un-greased baking sheet.  Repeat the process with remaining dough and filling.  Cut small slashes on tops.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven about 45 minutes or until pasties are golden brown.  Make six 9 inch pasties.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


No place like home, for sure.
Red-eye to MPLS; after several 
hours of fitful sleep, magically,
Morning in Minnesota.

From airport, capable retiree, Doug, 
Drives van past Fort Snelling National Cemetery;
I wave and send love to Dad and Bea.
Angling northwest, along intermittently
Visible Mississipi, headwaters further north.
Other passengers: salt-of-the-earth folks,
Friendly yet reticent, too shy to initiate, 
Too polite to completely ignore one another.
Full confidence in Doug's no-nonsense,
Feet-on-the-ground, approach to transport.

Familiar business names: earliest Target,
Caribou Coffee, Mall of America;
Huge American flag signals Perkin's;
One red rose indicates Herberger's;
Radisson Hotel displays original 
Double ess Scandinavian spelling.

Medium-height forests of deciduous trees.
Good roads, due to two seasons:
Winter and subsequent Road Construction.
Blue and white license plates with 
small canoe above numbers/letters.

Prairie extends on all sides,
Vistas for miles and miles.
Small farm towns dot horizon,
Breadbasket of United States;
Grain silo in each small farm town.
Two-story stucco homes, wide
Boulevards, prominent bright flowers.

Soft sunshine in post-solstice glow.
Robin's egg blue, cloudless skies
Reflected in 10,000 lakes, 
Inviting a short or long swim,
Home to trilling loons and
Cooing Mourning doves.
Lakes and lakes and lakes.

Pleased smile as memories, images,
And sounds flood senses.
Eagerly and confidently anticipate
Experiences of next six days.

MN magic works on me: smile more easily;
Soft-muscle calmness and relaxation;
Eyes relaxed rather than alert and wary;
Breathe more deeply in crisp, fresh air.
Home again; home again; home again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 8, 2014


An aspect of sustained independence:
Disquieting solitary sleep, thief of
Rejuvenating night-time respite.

Various attempted remedies offer
Unreliable relief: novels, crosswords,
Late-night TV's too-familiar re-runs.

When visiting friends, relaxation and sleep
Visit me at bedtime, hospitable ushers into
Uninterrupted hours of peaceful slumber.

Gratitude for both/and experiences, both ends of
Continuum: soaring freedom of independent life AND
Invaluable contribution of comforting companionship.

Again quoting clever Shakespeare's Macbeth (II, 2, 3):
"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 9, 2014 

Monday, July 7, 2014


Quarter over, graduation celebrated;
On verge of three short journeys;
Upcoming six-month sabbatical;
Two days ill, long sleeps, but not
Quite enough as yet and for now.

Shakespeare's apt description:
MACBETH, Act 2, Scene 2, Page 3:
"Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,
Chief nourisher in life’s feast."

More Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, Scene i, Pages 65-68:
"To sleep, perchance to dream--ay, there's the rub."
'Tho not sharing Hamlet's deep despair and fear of dreams,
Yearn for long, reparative sleep and illustrative dreams to
Knit and clarify, to soothe and reassure, to calm and heal.

Do not read despair or retreat 'tween lines,
Merely surprising, overwhelming fatigue that 
Arrives at completion of arduous push, when body
And mind at last relax and momentarily collapse.

Oh! For summer-afternoon nap in hammock at lake's edge;
Soft breezes ruffling hair, birds sweetly tweeting;
Animal-shaped clouds wafting ever eastward;
Breathing deepening and slowing;
Sentences simply shortening;
Sleeping and dreaming.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) July 7, 2014