“Meatballs & Lefse”: A Tiny Preview of Upcoming Book

  I’ve been working hard, writing hard on a new book, Meatballs & Lefse: Memories and Recipes from a Scandinavian-American Farming Life. It’s food- and family-oriented, with lots of Midwestern comfort-rich recipes, inherited from, and inspired by, my mother-in-law, Ethel Johnson Bertelsen, who lived all her life in Holmen, Wisconsin. The Preface delves a bit … More “Meatballs & Lefse”: A Tiny Preview of Upcoming Book

With Roots In Norway: Fish and Farming in Western Wisconsin, a COVID-19 Reflection

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother-in-law Ethel these days, wondering what she would make of the COVID-19 virus, the isolation, the uncertainty. She grew up on a farm in western Wisconsin. And she survived the flu epidemic of 1918, although her father caught it and lost all his hair while still in his … More With Roots In Norway: Fish and Farming in Western Wisconsin, a COVID-19 Reflection

The Meat of the Matter: A Question of Sacred Reverence

Meat eating presents modern society with a bit of a dilemma. How to raise and slaughter large numbers of animals under humane conditions, while keeping the price down and within wallet reach of most consumers? That’s the major issue, tinged with other, often moralistic, questions. First, right up front, I am not a vegetarian, and … More The Meat of the Matter: A Question of Sacred Reverence

‘Tis now the very witching time of night*: Lessons from a Rotting Pumpkin

Oh!—fruit loved of boyhood!—the old days recalling, When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling! When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin, Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!** Every October, a nearby farm family celebrates the harvest by opening up their land to the surrounding community. Hundreds of cars … More ‘Tis now the very witching time of night*: Lessons from a Rotting Pumpkin

The Random Herbalist: The Church as Farmer

The Catholic Church influenced many things, even (especially?) agriculture, as this passage from History of the English Landed Interest: Its Customs, Laws, and Agriculture, by Russell Montague Garnier (1908) 2nd. ed, vol. 1, implies. The monastery libraries also held much treasure, opening up the monks to the wonders of old knowledge and enabling them to … More The Random Herbalist: The Church as Farmer