Friday, September 19, 2008

Traveling, Meeting Authors & Finding New Food Ideas

My love of traveling translates into discovering new places (or revisiting old ones), meeting new people (or seeing friends again), learning about new foods and collecting recipes. On a recent trip to Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I experienced all of these.

I met in person for the first time, two authors I’d been corresponding with via an Internet group and e-mail. Janet Elaine Smith and Billie Williams live side-by-side on a street they call Authors’ Row, in a small town in northeastern Wisconsin. Their homes were right on Jim’s and my route to Iron Mountain, Michigan, on the Wisconsin/Michigan border.

Inspiration for Novel

Having tea with Janet and Billie and chatting with them, inspired me to get going again on my Civil War era novel for youngsters, Papa Goes to War ( ). Janet has written one for youngsters, My Dear Phebe, based on letters from this period connected with her family.

My novel, still in draft form, centers around ancestors (my grandmother’s uncles) who fought in this war. In researching more about them and their lives, I discovered the Mandy of my novel, whose mother had died. Her father felt he needed to fight for the Union. So his new wife took care of the children. In my story, Mandy experiences the turmoil of a father away, a new stepmother, and a world (the world she knew) at war.

Foods of the Area

As I began thinking again of getting back to work on this novel, we traveled further north to Iron Mountain, where we had business meetings. However, while there, friends introduced us to new recipes.

Food in this area is influenced by the Scandinavians who settled here to work in the lumber camps. Lumbering still is a big part of the economy of the region.

Baking on the Grill

Since our friends’ oven wasn’t working, they were doing much of their baking on the grill. I was amazed at how much can be cooked this way.

She purchased pizza that needed baking. It turned out delicious on the grill. Her son made chocolate chip oatmeal cookie bars and baked them on the grill, too. Another tasty treat.

Potatoes in Foil – Combine thinly sliced potatoes, cut-up green beans fresh from the garden, and diced onion. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with butter. You can add sliced or julienne carrots. Wrap mixture in foil and cook over the grill until done. (This dish also could be baked in an oven, preferably in a dish but covered with foil.)

KRUPSUA, a recipe with Norwegian origins, is a family favorite they wanted to make for us for supper. Wisk briskly together in a medium bowl – 3 eggs, 2 cups milk, 1 cup flour, ½ cup sugar. Slice ½ stick butter into cast iron skillet . (Our friend used an 8-9-inch one. You also can use a round cake pan.)

Put pan in oven preheated to 400 degrees F. (She used her toaster oven.) Remove pan when butter is melted. Pour the krupsua batter into it. Put back into oven and bake 20 minutes until set in the middle. (It will rise something like a soufflé.)

Slice into wedges and serve warm or cold. We enjoyed it with mashed strawberries and whipped topping, although you can eat it without. Delicious!

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen enjoys traveling, collecting new recipes, and meeting with friends. Visit her new travel blog, .)


Jean said...

What a fun trip. Talk about making lemonade when life gives you lemons. I'm from Wisconsin so am not surprised at the ingenuity your hosts showed in creating yummy meals without an oven. ;-)

Mary Emma Allen said...

Thanks, Jean, for stopping by and leaving a comment. Our friends have learned to be creative and produce delicious meals as a result.

Cyndi L said...

What? No brats? Bratwurst, that is!

Anonymous said...

And what about Pasties? Tou can't go to the U.P. without eating a pastie.

Mary Emma Allen said...

Yes, yes, yes...pasties! How did I forget them. Our friends introduced them to us on previous trips. Once they purchased the pasties readymade. On another occasion they made the pasties.

Do you have any idea how they originated in the U.P.? I know my daughter has encountered pasties in England when she was an exchange student.

Mary Emma Allen said...

Cyndi, no brats. But that's not to say they are served in the U.P. Perhaps it's only that the family we visit doesn't serve them.