Midwest Nest Magazine

Midwest Nest Magazine

Culture, Entertaining, Home Design, Fargo, Interior Design, DIY

Category: Cuisine

Everyone’s Cordially Invited to [ Monte & Jerry’s Garden Party ]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by M. Schleif Photography When a petite garden soiree becomes a full-blown fundraising affair, you can bet that Monte Jones and Jerry Erbstoesser have something…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by M. Schleif Photography

When a petite garden soiree becomes a full-blown fundraising affair, you can bet that Monte Jones and Jerry Erbstoesser have something to do with it. This dynamic duo has become well-known for their annual get-togethers during the holidays, and now more recently, their end-of-summer, garden gatherings. Take a walk down the block and see inside their quaint garden party turned inclusive block party. When this couple decides to entertain, the theme is always, ‘The more the merrier’.

Gaining a Garden
Last summer, we heard that Jones and Erbstoesser had recently transitioned from a downtown condo to a new home in West Fargo. Their new, larger home meant gaining a backyard so Jones could once again pursue his love of gardening…and of course, garden parties. It wasn’t long before their July 29th plans for a quaint garden party escalated. Their small gathering had become a full-blown, inclusive block party with a bevy of supportive sponsors and the Front Fenders entertaining the crowds. To give the event a meaningful purpose, the couple reached out to United Way and set plans in place for a silent auction and proceeds to benefit their cause.

Greetings from the Garden
Midway through Monte and Jerry’s block party, we headed to the backyard to see their relaxing retreat including a pool, hot tub and garden gazebo. Following a charming stone pathway, we took a tour through the wildflowers, ponds, bird baths and whimsical sitting areas. While Erbstoesser steers clear of the garden work and focuses on pool maintenance, Jones is always at work gathering rocks, placing stepping stones, bird baths and an array of floral he aptly names after Hollywood characters – a nod to his early years in theater.

In just one summer, Jones has transformed a vacant field into a beautiful, backyard retreat.

“The Maple trees are Fire Red Maples, so I’ve named them Scarlett and Neely O’Hara – Scarlett’s from Gone with the Wind and Neely is a character from a really bad movie that nobody knows about called Valley of the Dolls,” laughed Jones. Next, we meet a Korean Willow he refers to as Winifred and another as Wilimena. “The Wisteria on the lattice is Whinny. I’m still trying to think of a really great sister act to name the Poplars.”

“The garden parties have always been fun. At the first one we went to, back at their historic home, it was just the most eclectic group of people – we saw pink hair, clergyman, elderly folks bringing hotdish, a neighbor playing piano in the backyard and everything you can imagine,” laughed Dianne Swenson. “They are wonderful guys; we love them and when we’re invited, we definitely try to be there.”

“I think the inclusive side of the party is great – they love everybody and that’s what it’s about,” said Lois Koppang.

[In]clusive Invites
“The reason it all started years ago, is that we have all of these people that we really like, but they don’t know each other. So, we thought if we really like these people…let’s get them all together to meet the other people that we really like,” explained Jones. “I don’t know exactly what it is we do, but the feedback that we get from people about these parties validates everything that we do. This is just what brings us joy.”

“We extended our invite to everyone in Brooks Harbor and also over to the Eagle Run neighborhood. One of the first to arrive was a couple with their young son; they had just bought a house in Brooks Harbor a few months ago and they didn’t know anybody. I told them to come on in and we’ll introduce you – you’ll know everybody by the time you leave,” said Jones.

There Goes the Neighborhood…
When Jones and Erbstoesser move into a new neighborhood, you’ll definitely know when they arrive. “Either you’re going to like us or you’re going to hate us,” Erbstoesser laughed. “This is who we are; we like to entertain, so we entertain. Once the neighbors found out about this garden party, they were completely on board with everything, even the live band. They were all asking what they could do to help.”

“We haven’t even been here a year yet, and the whole street is wonderful,” said Jones. “Every Friday and Saturday night we have our garage doors open, we walk the street – people have bonfires in their driveway – it almost reminds me of being at the lake, minus the water.”

Gathering Support
Gathering supporters, the two soon found out that many local businesses were willing to donate auction items, food, time and talent to their party. Happy Harry’s donated 10 cases of wine and 30 cases of beer while Proof Artisan Distillers coined a specialty drink for the occasion. An array of donated auction items included NDSU football tickets, theater tickets, plaques and everything in between.Giving Back in a Big Way
When the day was done, Jones and Erbstoesser had officially raised $4,661 with the help of their sponsors and the community! On August 20th, Jones and Erbstoesser presented one giant, garden party check to United Way of Cass-Clay’s Kristi Huber and Travis Christopher.

“Bottom line is, it’s not about us, it’s about what we can help bring to the community – this time the community gave back far more than we did.”
Monte Jones

Garden Party Sponsors:
Delta by Marriot, United Way, Happy Harry’s Bottle Shop, Firestone, Bob 95, Front Fenders, The Teehive, Proof Artisan Distillers, Johnson Brothers, Republic National, Bank of the West, Culinex

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Yay for Yeh! [Girl Meets Farm: Interview with Molly Yeh ]

Words by Tracy Nicholson, Molly Yeh Photography by Chantell & Brett Quernemoen When in doubt, add sprinkles! In the East Grand Forks kitchen of Molly Yeh, this mantra is a…

Words by Tracy Nicholson, Molly Yeh
Photography by Chantell & Brett Quernemoen

When in doubt, add sprinkles! In the East Grand Forks kitchen of Molly Yeh, this mantra is a recipe for success. A transplant from the Chicago suburbs, Yeh married into the farm life, learned to embrace the country, and eventually started a food blog to chronicle her kitchen endeavors. Her blog, my name is yeh, became the perfect avenue to fuse her Jewish and Chinese heritage with Midwest comfort food and family favorites. A few impressive awards, thousands of followers and a best-selling cookbook later, Yeh’s kitchen creativity had officially caught the eye of Food Network. Nearly one month ago, Yeh debuted her TV series, Girl Meets Farm, giving viewers a glimpse inside her sweet and sprinkled passion for food, family and the farm.


Meet Molly Yeh
Influencing her eclectic cooking style, Yeh grew up in the Chicago suburbs with a Chinese father and Jewish mother, followed by a post-high school life in New York City studying percussion at Juilliard. After getting married and starting her food blog, Yeh relocated with her husband to a sugar beet farm in East Grand Forks, N.D., where she currently resides.

Yeh is the author of the International Association of Culinary Professionals award-winning cookbook, “Molly on the Range.” She is the creator of the critically-acclaimed and highly popular food and lifestyle brand “my name is yeh”, which has been recognized by the likes of the New York Times, Food & Wine, New York Magazine, Saveur (“Blog of the Year”) and Yahoo (“Food Blog of the Year”). She was also in the ranks of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for 2017.

Girl Meets Farm
In the seven-episode series, Girl Meets Farm, Yeh gives Food Network viewers a glimpse inside her life and kitchen on their East Grand Forks farm. While her nostalgic, farmhouse kitchen creates a worldly fusion of cuisine and sweets, many would say it’s her charm that has stolen the show. Infusing elements of five-star, fine dining with Midwest comfort foods and artfully crafted desserts, Yeh is now one of the most sought-after food bloggers and cookbook authors today.

Molly’s Menu
If you missed the premiere episode, Yeh made an eclectic buffet for her sister-in-law Anna’s baby shower. On the menu were Fish Tacos with Crunchy Cabbage Slaw and Cilantro Dressing, Pigs in a Blanket with Harissa Ketchup and Honey Mustard, as well as Molly’s signature Meatball Sliders with a Twist.

As with all of Yeh’s kitchen endeavors, the experience is not complete without a sweet ending. Baked Donuts with Rhubarb, Blood Orange and Blueberry Glaze took center stage on the shower’s dessert table. Upcoming episodes feature Yeh’s family visits, girl’s brunch, farm supper, a special anniversary celebration and recipes like her Garlic and Onion Challah, Dark Chocolate Scone Loaf with Marzipan and Scallion Pancakes with Maple Carrot Slaw.

“Molly is full of life and her unlikely journey from the big city to a food-centered life on a Midwest farm is fascinating,” said Courtney White, Executive Vice President, Programming, Food Network and HGTV. “Her passion for food, her family and farm life are front and center in all of her recipes, which are truly written from the heart.”


Midwest Nest Meets Molly Yeh!
Whether you reside in Grand Forks, Bismarck or Fargo, everyone seems to know everyone, right? It seems nearly impossible that Yeh has managed to quietly create her foodie empire, right in our own backyard. If you haven’t followed her wildly popular food blog, viewed her new show, or ventured to one of her local cookbook signings, now’s your chance to get to know this locally-based talent on a more personal level. Midwest Nest sat down with Yeh to get the lowdown on life on the farm and her new Food Network show, Girl Meets Farm.

Q&A with Molly Yeh!

From growing up near Chicago to settling down on a farm in East Grand Forks, how has this changed or inspired you?

Yeh: It has opened my eyes to hotdish and cookie salad! I thought that adjusting to East Grand Forks wouldn’t be very drastic since I grew up in the Midwest, but the upper Midwest is so different from the suburbs of Chicago and it has been so fun and delicious to learn about this whole new world.

What do you think has been the biggest factor in the creation of your lifestyle brand and becoming an award-winning cookbook author and blogger?

Yeh: Hard work. I am definitely inspired by how hard my farmer husband and other farmers in the area work. At first, I was shocked at the million-hour days and weekend work days that farmers put in during the season, but then I just thought, well, I guess I’ll just spend that time decorating cakes and blogging about it!

When did you find out that you were being considered for a Food Network show?

Yeh: When my book Molly on the Range came out. A few folks from the network set up a meeting when I was in New York for the launch and it was great! Their offices are right above my favorite hummus place.

Did you film at your farm and what/how long was the shoot process?

Yeh: Yes, we shot the pilot in December and that took a week, and the rest of the season was shot over two-and-a-half weeks in April.

From what readers and followers know of you now, is there anything that you will be doing differently on the show?

Yeh: I’ll be showing them more of the farm and of Grand Forks than I do on the blog. They’ll see my trusty old Buick boat cruising around town.

How will you fuse your background, culture and family into the show?

Yeh: Pretty much all of the recipes draw inspiration from my Chinese and Jewish heritage, my upbringing and my new surroundings. There will be a whole episode about Chinese food with my dad, an episode with my mom’s brisket and a show centered around hotdish.

What do you want Food Network viewers to take away from Girl Meets Farm?

Yeh: How fun, colorful and meaningful food can be. Cooking for others has always been my favorite way to show people that I love them and it’s also been my window into learning about my heritage and other cultures, so if I can show others how to do the same, then I’ll be satisfied.

Who in your life do you consider to be your greatest inspiration or mentor?

Yeh: My mom is my biggest inspiration in the kitchen. She’s an amazing cook and baker, and I keep a binder of recipes that she made for me. I love having them near, it’s like we’re hanging out in the kitchen together.

For your youngest fans who want to bake and blog, what kind of advice can you offer for pursuing their passion?

Yeh: Share your unique perspective and story and always push yourself to learn and improve. And when in doubt, add sprinkles!

What has life been like since the show debuted on June 24th?

Yeh: Really fun because each episode brings another opportunity to connect with my Instagram friends and see what recipes they’ve been making from the show.

What does your family, community and husband think of your TV debut and success?

Yeh: I think they’re happy as long as they get to be my first call taste testers!

When you first moved to East Grand Forks, what did you feel was the funniest or most surprising characteristic of the region?

Yeh: That people leave their cars running in the parking lot of the grocery store in the winter.

Where/how did you first meet your husband and will he be an active part of the show?

Yeh: In college through mutual friends and yes, he has the best lines of the show! I was at Juilliard then, focusing on contemporary music.

What are your favorite things to bake/cook?

Yeh: Cakes. I love baking cakes for anyone, for any occasion. I also love making hummus and hotdish for people. I really like using tahini and wish good tahini was more widely available in the states – same with marzipan, machlab, naturally colored sprinkles and rosewater.

What is the most challenging recipe you have ever tried and why?

Yeh: Halva, a Middle Eastern candy that’s like the inside of a Butterfinger but made with ground sesame seeds. I failed my first few times and it was maddening because the ingredients are not cheap. In retrospect, I think it was because my candy thermometer was broken.

What are some of your favorite restaurants or stores in the F-M or Grand Forks areas?

Yeh: Toasted Frog, Rhombus Guys, Darcy’s, Unglued, Bernbaum’s, India Palace, Kittsona, Zandbroz, Blue Moose and the Prairie Roots Food Co-op.


Chocolate Sheet Cake with Pistachio Butter Frosting

Molly Yeh from my name Is yeh

Makes one 9″ x 13″ sheet cake



1 3/4 c. (350g) sugar

1 3/4 c. (223g) all-purpose flour

1 C. (85g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

1 c. (240g) buttermilk

1 tbs. vanilla extract

1/2 c. (100g) flavorless oil

3/4 c. (178g) boiling water


1 c. (128g) roasted pistachios (preferably unsalted)

1 c. (225g) unsalted butter, softened

3 c. (360g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp. kosher salt (omit if pistachios are salted)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 tbs. heavy cream

Make the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease and line the bottom of a 9×13 pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and oil. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Whisk in the boiling water.


Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan.


Make the Frosting: 

First, make the pistachio butter. In a food processor, blend the pistachios, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and pistachio butter until creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix to combine and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest and then heavy cream.


Spread all over the cake, decorate as desired and enjoy!


Everything Bagel Galettelettes with Tomatoes & Scallion Cream Cheese
Molly Yeh from my name Is yeh

Makes 8 mini galettes



1 1/2 pounds tomatoes

14-15 oz. pie dough (homemade or store-bought)

1 beaten egg for egg wash



8 oz. cream cheese, room temp

3 chopped scallions

1 egg yolk

1 tbs. flour




Everything Bagel Topping:

1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. poppy seeds

1 tsp. sesame seeds

1/2 tsp. dried minced onion


Preheat the oven to 400º.

– Slice the tomatoes then lay them out on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt so that some moisture drains out of them.

– Divide the pie dough into 8 balls. Roll out each ball into a circle that’s 6 to 7 inches in diameter.

– Mix together cream cheese, scallions, egg yolk, flour and pepper until smooth and well-combined.

– Mix together the everything bagel topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Brush the edge of the rolled-out dough with egg wash, spread with filling and top with tomatoes. Fold over the edges and pleat. Brush the outside edges with the egg wash and sprinkle with the everything bagel topping.


Bake galettes for 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Enjoy!


Follow Molly Yeh!

  • Catch episodes from her TV series, Girl Meets Farm on Food Network, Sundays at 11:00 a.m.
  • Watch video exclusives with Molly Yeh and get how-to’s on cake decorating and making your favorite childhood snacks at FoodNetwork.com/GirlMeetsFarm.
  • Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #GirlMeetsFarm.
  • Follow Yeh on Facebook and Instagram @mynameisyeh.


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Living & Dining at the Lake [Middle Cormorant Lake, Minnesota]

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by Travis Beauchene, Studio Three Beau We’ve gotten to know Moorhead resident, Laneil Skaff, over the past year and she has never disappointed with…

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by Travis Beauchene, Studio Three Beau

We’ve gotten to know Moorhead resident, Laneil Skaff, over the past year and she has never disappointed with her remarkable, at-home culinary skills. With each passing month, her brilliant recipes have become a fixture in our pages. While last month she gave us a glimpse of her Tuscan adventure, this month she once again teams up with her daughters, Julie Stoe and Jenna Stowers, to show us three simple and fun lake recipes their family loves. To immerse ourselves in the lake life, we visited their newly renovated, Middle Cormorant lake home to see how their family lives and dines on the water.The Skaff family built the first cabin on the property in 1990. Add nearly 30 years, and their now-grown family had over doubled. Realizing it was time for a renovation, Laneil and Sam Skaff recruited more family to help – Brad and his dad Dewy Vesta of R.V. Construction. With a goal to stick with their current footprint of 1,800 square feet, the Skaffs collaborated with architect Herman Novak, certified kitchen designer Bill Tweten of Western Products, and the Vestas to make the same amount of space feel like a home that’s twice the size.

The Renovation
To start their renovation, the entire lake home had to be gutted and completely reworked from top to bottom. Like many older lake homes, the prior footprint had a floorplan that was much more divided, making the space feel closed in and less efficient. The kitchen was much too small for their growing family and with grandkids running in and out, there needed to be a bathroom with easy access from the door. “Because we had to use the same footprint, the only other thing I asked was that we keep at least the same amount of storage.””Before the renovation we had a lot of carpet, so that was another thing that we really wanted to change,” said Laneil Skaff. “We replaced that with a linoleum vinyl plank – it’s really easy to clean up after when you have wet kids, bathing suits and sand.”

Raise the Roof
In the more communal space of their lake home, Brad and Dewy Vesta raised the roof to give the illusion of more space. “We took out the original scissor truss ceiling that was up there and we raised it 42 inches by taking that out and putting in I-joist beams,” said Brad Vesta. “Basically, it’s a truss that Mid-States made for us and instead of fastening it together like they usually would, my dad and I put up each end one-by-one with a pulley system. We bolted it all together while we used a temporary wall on each side to hold the roof up until the truss was in place. Then we covered it in reclaimed lumber from Dakota Timber Company.”

The Landing Pad
Tweten’s cabinetry design started at the front door with a unique landing pad accommodating every family member and guest. Custom built-ins were created to provide a drop zone and charging station for computers, phones, keys, sunglasses and even the kid’s lifejackets. “Bill really was so good at thinking about every little detail. I didn’t want my computers and the phones cluttering up the island, so this is a great spot to keep everything organized,” said Skaff.”We originally had the life jackets up higher on a bar in the old cabin, but it just made more sense to make the bar lower so the kids can learn how to hang up or grab their own life jackets,” said Jenna Stowers. “When you have eager ones ready to swim it’s a really easy place for the kids to grab a life jacket and go jump in the lake.”

Another spot in the landing pad is designated for a giant basket of Crocs. “They’re our all-purpose lake shoes,” laughed Skaff. “Everyone can find the basket, you take out a pair that fits you and that’s what the whole family seems to wear all weekend.”

Island Ambitions
To make their kitchen worthy of large family gatherings, the Skaffs worked closely with certified kitchen designer, Bill Tweten of Western Products. With a need to squeeze a lot more function into the same square footage, this was one room that required extreme efficiency and sneaky storage. For the finish, the Skaffs chose a unique, pigment white for their upper and perimeter cabinets. “I wanted it to be a softer white and as cabin-like as possible, so with this pigment stain, you can still see a little of the grain coming through.”S

The island, finished in a deep Slate stain, was designed with distinguished storage encompassing every inch. “One of my favorite features are the big, deep drawers. I’ve got all of our dishes in the drawer – we have a drawer for glass, one for plastic and one for paper products. Don’t mind the ants on the glass dishes, those are painted on ants – a fun set my sister gave me,” laughed Skaff.(beach towel storage – island)
In the island, Skaff has a designated spot for her cookbooks as well as a place reserved for an item their family is in constant need of – beach towels. “The girls really helped me by reminding me of what I had, what I needed to make room for,” said Skaff. “One of the big things was that we always had a huge basket for beach towels. So, I said, ‘When I take down all of the walls, where’s that going to go?’ That’s now the upper part of our island – the two drawers on this side are all beach towels. Bill really helped me think through and provide some great solutions for the storage and things we had to have to make it all work.”

Dining at the Lake
To design their new dining room, the Skaffs relied on beautiful built-ins and a custom-made table by Josh Humble of Finnu. Their table for 12 was built using redwood pickling barrels hailing from California.Laneil Skaff had chosen the drop-down chandelier but soon realized that it was not meant for installation on their slanted ceilings. To remedy the design dilemma, Brad Vesta used reclaimed lumber to create a flat base for the fixture to hang evenly.

Master Suite
In the master suite, the family worked with Tweten to design a wall of built-in cabinetry for drawer space and office, using every inch of the rooms available space. “On the back wall, we did a white-washed shiplap from Stenerson Lumber,” said Brad Vesta. “To get a more rustic look, we didn’t prime it. That way the knots could bleed through. Then we did two coats of paint and one coat of clear so fingerprints can be easily wiped off.”  In the bedroom and throughout the lake home, windows were replaced with a pre-finished pine from Pella’s Designer Series.The Skaffs refurbished their existing night stands with chalk paint from Eco Chic Home and kept the style uniform, relying on comforting quilts for every room.In the master bath, Laneil Skaff chose a wood-look porcelain tile with a quartz seating area in the shower. “It’s the lake cabin and I just wanted it to feel like a lake cabin. So, when they started laying this tile, Sam called and asked if there was something wrong with it. I had to explain to him that that’s how it’s supposed to look,” laughed Skaff. “I just love the old, weathered wood and beachy textures. I also wanted a matte finish for the vanity, so we used a Corian from Western Products.”In the guest room wing, even the Skaff’s hallway is beautifully accented with gorgeous pieces like the reclaimed wood and dock cleat coat hanger and one-of-a-kind barn door. “This wood was actually from the old redwood deck that we took out during the renovation,” said Brent Vesta. “I brought Finnu a bunch of the wood and they used the larger dock cleat for the handle.”“I love the barn door because all of these colors are different stains that we had used on it over the past 30 years,” said Laneil Skaff. “Finnu used different planing techniques and worked hard to keep that original finish.”

Fun & Functional
With an idea that spurred from Pinterest, Laneil Skaff found an industrial solution to a create fun and functional sleeping space for six. “Brad and my son, Nate, built this set of bunk beds in the kids’ room, then my boys finished the other set. Brad was really the engineer to help us with the design using industrial plumbing pipes.” The design consists merely of 2x4s fastened to the wall with the piping grounded to the floor for support. For the smaller beds, Skaff used crib mattresses, then baskets and hooks for efficient storage.“We just tried to keep everything looking as much like the lake as possible. So, you’ll find a lot of reclaimed wood, vintage skis and paddles, along with comfy quilts in each room,” said Skaff.”All of our closet systems are from Smart Spaces. They came in and customized them to every room for us,” said Skaff. “She really used our space wisely. We designed most of the closets with enough space to fit a smaller crib, so the kids can have the babies close by, but also be able to close the door a bit, so they can still use the room.”


Midwest Nest is always thrilled to join Laneil Skaff and her daughters, Julie Stoe and Jenna Stowers in the kitchen. Gathering around their beautiful new island at the lake, they shared three recipes they love to serve up, with a side of sunset.

Chicken-Farro Salad

(Serves six meal-size servings)
This salad uses the grain Farro – it is an ancient grain that an excellent source of protein, fiber, and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. With a great mix of sweet and salty, and a mild dressing to tie it all together, this makes a great summer meal.


½ cup pearled or regular farro

6 – Ounces (about 9 cups) mixed baby greens (I like to use some iceberg lettuce in this salad for the crunch)

1 ½ – Cups leftover cooked chicken – coarsely shredded

1/3 – Cup unsweetened dried cranberries (can also use dried blueberries, currants or cherries)

1/3 – Cup chopped dates

2 – Ounces Manchego cheese –
shaved with a vegetable peeler

¼ – Teaspoon salt

¾ – Cup vinaigrette

¼ – Cup chopped Marcona almonds


Bring two quarts of salted water to a boil. Cook according to directions on box – it will be different depending what farro you get. Pearled farro will cook faster. Cook until tender. Drain well and spread the farro on a pan to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the greens, chicken, cooled farro, cranberries, dates cheese and salt. Toss with ½ cup of the vinaigrette, adding more as needed. Garnish with almonds.

Champagne Vinaigrette

(Makes one cup)


¼ – Cup champagne vinegar

1 – Tablespoon honey

¼ – Teaspoon salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

¾ – Cup canola or vegetable oil


Put the vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a blender. Pulse to combine the ingredients. With the machine running, drizzle in the oil. Blend the dressing until it is well emulsified and thick. Refrigerate. Shake well before using.


Easy Rhubarb Pie

We are often making this pie as we are finishing up meal prep. It takes under 10 minutes to make and then off it goes to the oven while we are eating supper. A pot of coffee gets made, get the bowls, spoons, napkins, and of course ice cream and we’re off for a sunset cruise on the pontoon. A perfect way to end a day at the lake!



2 – Cups flour

¼ – Teaspoon salt

2 – Teaspoons sugar

2/3 – Cup vegetable oil

4 – Tablespoons milk

4 – Cups rhubarb- finely diced


1 ½ – Cups sugar

1 ½ – Teaspoons cinnamon

2 – Eggs, beaten

½ – Cup flour

1 – Tablespoon melted butter


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium-size bowl, place all crust ingredients – EXCEPT the rhubarb. Mix with a fork until well mixed. Crust will be crumbly. Set aside ½ cup of the crust and press the remaining mixture in a 9” deep dish pie pan or a 9” round cake pan – pressing crust on bottom and up the sides of the pan. Pour rhubarb on crust and distribute evenly.

In a medium-sized bowl (I often use the same one), combine all the filling ingredients with a whisk until well blended. Pour over rhubarb and spread evenly.

Crumble reserved crust over the top of pie.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serve warm with Ice cream or whipped cream.

Variation: This recipe works well with peaches or apples.


Brazilian Cheese Bread

Pão De Queijo
A perfect little gluten-free bread bite to go with any salad. We first discovered these little bites of goodness when we celebrated the opening ceremonies of the Olympics when they were held in Brazil. 


1 – Egg –room temperature (can place in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes to gently warm egg)

1/3 – Cup olive oil

2/3 – Cup milk

1 ½ – Cups Tapioca Flour

½ – Cup queso fresco, feta, or parmesan cheese – grated

1 – Teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down sides to be sure everything gets mixed in. Pulse a few more times. Do not over mix. (The more you mix, the tougher the dough)

Generously grease mini muffin tins with cooking spray and pour batter into 24 muffins.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until they are puffed up and a golden brown. Eat while warm with a drizzle of honey, or my favorite, butter!__________

Find the Home’s Finishes:
Contractor – Brad Vesta and Dewy Vesta, R.V. Construction
Architect – Herman Novak Designs
Cabinetry Design – Bill Tweten, Western Products
Cabinetry – Crystal Cabinets, Western Products
Closet shelving systems – Smart Spaces
Pine windows – Pella Designer Series

Tile – Syverson’s Tile
Countertops – Corian, Western Products
Fireplace wood/steel art – Grain Designs
Reclaimed truss and dining chandelier wood – Dakota Timber Company
Dining room table & bench – Josh Humble, Finnu
Dining chairs – Restoration Hardware
High island stools – CB2
Low island stools – Crate & Barrel
Masonry – Winter Masonry
Siding – Iron Grey, by Hardie Board
Drywall – Amundson-Klungtvedt DrywallFor more information, contact:
R.V. Construction
Brad & Dewy Vesta
Bradley.j.vesta@gmail.comWestern Products
Bill Tweten, CKD, CBD
474 45th Street South, Fargo

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Hub41 [ Cornering Lake & City ]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Scott Amundson The beachside strip of West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes, Minn., is easily one of the summer’s hottest lakeside destinations. It’s home…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Scott Amundson

The beachside strip of West Lake Drive in Detroit Lakes, Minn., is easily one of the summer’s hottest lakeside destinations. It’s home to Lakeshirts, Lakeside Tavern & Brewery, Zorbaz, The Pavilion and a slew of beach bums ready to relax and bury their toes in the sand. Last summer, the strip got a little hotter with the opening of Hub41, a new restaurant designed by Chris Hawley Architects and owners Gretchen and Nate Hunter. See how this team created the perfect beach bum hang out with a stunning rooftop view and eclectic surf and turf menu.

Taking advantage of an old water park site that had been sitting vacant, owners Gretchen and Nate Hunter, set their sights on creating a new concept in beach dining. Just a stone’s throw away from their other property, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, this corner spot on the strip would provide a beach bum experience worth the drive. Wanting a casual beach vibe and killer lake views, the two recruited the help of Fargo’s Chris Hawley Architects to design their vision, and Detroit Lakes contractor, Josh Lessman, to build it.

Creating a Concept

When the Hunters built the nearby hotel, Fairfield Inn & Suites, they left a pad site that was originally intended for a single-story building. “The only stipulation was that it had to be 3,800 square feet on one level. We actually went back to the county and asked if we could split it into two – that would put us at 1,800 square feet on each level,” said architect Chris Hawley. “We just saw that on the first level, you can kind of see the lake, but mainly the view is of parking and boats. If we added a second level, guests would be able to take in the entire view of Detroit Lakes. In this project, the design had to more about the view than the building.”

For Chris Hawley Architects, their design process started with a little outside inspiration.  “We looked at ideas from a restaurant in Minnetonka that they liked – there were also a few residential projects that they thought were funky and pretty cool,” said Hawley. “I think the one thing they wanted was to differentiate themselves by not having the classic cabin forms you’d expect. They didn’t want the cutesy cottage feel – they wanted it to be more contemporary and edgy and just have a little more fun with it in terms of design”

“Really the whole project was about creating the perfect rooftop patio,” explained Hawley. “So, when you look at it, the design’s success is determined by having as many people sit outside as possible. This is a year-round restaurant, but like all lake restaurants, their whole livelihood is based on three months of having access to the exterior.”

Hot Curb Appeal

On the exterior, a sleek, contemporary design, bold pops of mod color and a tiki bar-type patio are bound to lure you in. But, look a little closer and you’ll see an ancient Japanese technique. The black siding is all charred wood, also known as shou sugi ban. “The owners actually did the charring. The beautiful thing about it is that once you char it, it has natural weather, rot and UV resistance, so you basically don’t have to touch it again. Bugs don’t like it and creatures don’t like to live in it.”

To fabricate the exterior signage using steel and exposed bolts, Chris Hawley Architects employed a hefty foundation to ensure stability for the massive, backlit logo.

Creating Calm

Like many larger lakes, the wind can take a toll on anything near the shoreline. With a rooftop patio plan in place, the team needed to ensure that guests would get a calm dining experience versus being literally blown away. “Rooftop patios are great, but if you’re getting drilled by the wind, nobody is going to enjoy it. To solve this, we used black glass as a windbreaker about five-feet in the air. When you’re sitting up there, you feel pretty tucked in and it gives you a nice little break from the wind,” said Hawley.

Inside Hub41 

Creating the perfect destination for beachgoers meant designing a bar and dining experience that would be fun, creative and non-fussy – a place where flip-flops and beach towels would be welcomed attire.

Guests will find a crisp white palette with details like black plywood with cedar strips, industrial plumbing pipe, exposed I-beams, a corner fireplace, a contemporary twist on sliding barn doors and birch bench seating. “The details are pretty fun, they did some really great workmanship and yet it’s not fussy, it’s simple and creative,” said Hawley. “Josh Lessman did all of the construction on this project – he did a really great job, especially considering it was a very fast-track kind of project – we started in Nov and it was open by May of last year.”

“This is obviously a fun strip down in Detroit Lakes and a building like nothing else on the beach.”
Chris Hawley, Chris Hawley Architects

Embracing the Outdoors

To bring the outside in, the design playfully utilizes the exterior siding elements and cedar slat detailing. Both levels feature an overhead garage door making the exterior and interior a unified space. “The cool thing is that no matter where you’re sitting in the bar, you’re looking at the lake,” said Hawley. “Instead of your back turned to the water and the bartender looking out, it’s the opposite. This is obviously a fun strip down in Detroit Lakes and a building like nothing else on the beach.”

“The one thing about doing an overhead door is that you can’t do anything overhead, so you have really limited storage in that area. The cedar slat details were one of the solutions to get as much storage as we can in a space that is occupied by an overhead door,” said Hawley. “The exterior siding became storage shelving for the bottles, glasses and other bar items.”

If you’d rather grab a booth, the dining areas offer plenty of natural light and interesting design details to create a true beachside experience. “This is just a really durable design and a little wear and tear will only give it more character. The blue material panel is all technically, exterior siding, but we’re using it in a pretty economical way,” said Hawley.
“In other areas, the same siding that we painted blue, we just painted black and screwed on the batton. I think of it like the rainscreen is the black panel, but then the wood is kind of the armor. This project is a very economical approach to design. It really takes common materials and uses them in a very creative way, but not breaking the budget.”

On the Menu:

If you think the design is creative, just wait until you experience their menu featuring weekend breakfast, lunch and dinner. “They have really good food, with kind of a funky menu – I’d say it’s a modern interpretation of a surf and turf,” said Hawley. For a taste of what Hub41 offers lunch and dinner guests, starters include the falafel, California sushi rolls, sweet potato nachos, Cajun shrimp bucket, Scotch eggs and lobster fries. Dinner will definitely delight with eclectic entrees like the shrimp po’ boy, muffuletta, chicken and waffles along with gnocchi mac and cheese, fish and chips and bangers and mash.

Find the Finishes:

Architecture & Interior Finishes  – Chris Hawley Architects

Project Manager – Wayne Schommer, Chris Hawley Architects

Contractor – Josh Lessman, Ledgestone, Inc.

For more information, contact:

Hub 41

104 West Lake Drive, Detroit Lakes





Chris Hawley Architects

2534 University Dr #3, Fargo





Ledgestone, Inc.

421 West Main Suite 104, Detroit Lakes





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Dakota Vines Vineyard & Winery

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by M.Schleif Photography With life-long careers devoted to education, Deb and Bob Grosz have been planting the seed to pursue a passion outside of…

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by M.Schleif Photography

With life-long careers devoted to education, Deb and Bob Grosz have been planting the seed to pursue a passion outside of the classroom. After 14 years of studying the art of winemaking, their dream would finally become reality in a soybean field near Colfax, North Dakota. On June 15, the Groszes gathered their 5,780 bottles of wine and opened the doors to Dakota Vines Vineyard and Winery. With Crooked Lane Farm neighboring their vineyard from across the river, they may have just created Fargo-Moorhead’s newest day-trip destination.

In their nearly 33 years of marriage, Bob and Deb Grosz had spent much of their lives consumed with the activities of three children and busy careers. Now, empty-nesters, they’ve refocused their spare time and energy into a longtime passion for winemaking. “We are thrilled that our kids and family have been so supportive,” said Deb Grosz. “Our son in L.A. and youngest son from Minneapolis came down for the opening while our oldest daughter who lives in Fargo has been out here helping us. A big reason why we’re doing this is that they were so active and we were so busy when they were younger – it all just comes to a halt when the kids are moved out, it’s a huge change.”

“Some people buy a sports car and we just took a hobby and turned it into a business,” laughed Bob Grosz.

Turn at the Wine Barrel
Just off of I-29 near rural Colfax, you can’t miss Dakota Vine’s cedar wine barrel sign. Built by Bob Grosz and his friend, Todd Johnson, the two created an inviting backdrop for the custom metal logo by Red River Metal Art.

On the Grow
Starting with an at-home winemaking kit, Bob Grosz became enthralled with all aspects of the science and process behind the wine. “We had some grapes that were frozen, some from Washington and some from California and we continued to work with that,” said Bob Grosz. “Then, we met Rodney Hogen at Red Trail Vineyard in Buffalo and I started working with him. The only thing I asked was that I get to take some of the grapes with me after I’d help him prune or harvest. About three years ago, we decided this was something we wanted to pursue, so I’ve been working on earning a degree in Enology, or winemaking. It’s a two-year associates degree through the VESTA program (vesta-usa.org) with classes offered through various universities and all of them require some type of a practicum. I’ve been in wineries across Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with lab work in Cleveland. We decided that if this is what we wanted to do, we had better be good at it before we take that next step.”

True North Dakota Wines
Since their vines are newly planted and won’t produce for three years, the couple has been sourcing their grapes from other vineyards and the University of Minnesota. “We will only offer wines from grapes that can be grown right here in North Dakota,” said Deb Grosz. “You won’t find a Cabernet, Merlot or Chardonnay here because those grapes don’t grow in this climate. So, even though we could have used any grape we wanted this time, we still wanted our wines to reflect what can actually be produced in North Dakota.”

“For our licensing, by year five we have to be using 50% North Dakota product, but our goal is to get there much faster. Our hope is that more local vineyards will open and start growing so that we can buy more local product,” said Bob Grosz.

Tasting Room
To kick off their opening summer, Dakota Vines is offering two spectacular reds, two whites and three fruit wines in apple, pear and plum varietals. For those who prefer their hops over grapes, the tasting room will also feature locally-made craft beers from Fargo Brewing Company and other local breweries.

In the tasting room, the Groszes offer guests small glimpses of their personal life, infusing the space with rustic and schoolhouse elements in cozy, country surroundings. “With both of us being educators, we thought school chairs were appropriate,” said Deb Grosz. “We found the barn door and school chairs at Habitat Restore. We just wanted to pull it all together and make it reflect our life.”

Bob Grosz designed and drew-up the entire winery, working closely with Wahpeton, N.D., contractor, Matt Kinneberg. Kinneberg was able to repurpose the Grosz’s old fence boards to create the focal point above the fireplace and the beams in the ceiling.

“It’s so much fun to be at this point now – we had this in our imagination and now to see it is amazing,” said Deb Grosz. “My step-dad, Duane Radeck, actually built the bar and wine storage for us. We wanted the traditional wine x’s. He and my mom, Carolyn, have been very helpful and they didn’t miss a single work session for bottling.”

ND Wine Time!
Wine tasting options consist of five samples for $5.00, by the glass or by the bottle. Prices range from $17.99 to $18.99 per bottle. With names reflective of their North Dakota heritage, guests will find wines like Roughrider, Prairie Sky, Mighty Bison, Lake Agassiz, County Road and Peace Garden.

Labeled on the barn door are descriptions of each wine and the grape variety or fruit, such as Marquette, Frontenac, La Crescent and Brianna. These grapes have been harvested from the University of Minnesota’s program as well as independent breeders.

Tasty Pairings
This summer, Dakota Vines will be offering small plates with crackers and cheeses for anyone touring or tasting. “We do have a very small commercial kitchen in the back, so as we expand and go into year two, we have a few ideas to create special dinner nights, possibly once a week on Saturday nights,” said Deb Grosz.

The Wine Wall
Near the fireplace, the Groszes have created their own “Wine Wall”, featuring and showing support for other local wineries and cider houses who have offered valuable advice throughout their winemaking journey. “It was amazing to me when we let the other wineries know that we wanted to do this, they were all in,” said Deb Grosz. “They were so excited and said, please do it. It hasn’t been a competitive scenario, really just a collaboration. I know there are people in this community who still don’t know there are any wineries in North Dakota. Hopefully, they see this wall and want to take a road trip.”

“We visited quite a few local wineries as well as an array of wineries in Napa, but locally, our friends at 4e and Red Trail Vineyards have been so supportive and helpful,” said Deb Grosz. “They’ve also given their time. We’ve had so many people out here helping us bottle; crews of seven to eight people for six days in a row. All we had to do was ask, and keep feeding them, and they just kept coming to help.”

“It’s like our friends at 4e Winery in Mapleton said, ‘When you have a winery, you don’t need a gym membership,'” laughed Bob Grosz.

“Someone actually said to us, ‘Not only do we want you to do this, but we want you to do it well,'” said Deb Grosz. “That really spoke to me. He explained that if our wine is the only North Dakota wine that someone has tried, it has to be good. We don’t want anyone thinking that North Dakota can’t produce good wine – so, it’s really important that all of our local wineries do well.”

The Gallery
Just beyond the tasting room, the space overlooking the river is penned “The Gallery”. The rentable room is designed to accommodate up to 40 people for nearly any type of gathering.

The Gallery’s crisp, white walls feature an array of patchwork quilt art by local artists and watercolor art by Barbara Benda Nagle and Bev Benda. “Years ago, Barbara was our daughter’s fifth-grade teacher, so we asked her if she would like to be our first art show,” said Deb Grosz. Throughout the summer, the couple plan to rotate in new artists’ work so guests will have a unique experience with each visit.

Outside of the gallery, the Groszes have designed a small patio where guests can enjoy a dose of country life, river views and wildflowers. In future plans, the Groszes are working to design a small gazebo or pavilion-like structure closer to the river, where guests can enjoy live music or relax with a glass of wine.

Across the River and Through the Woods…
Just across the river, Mary Jo Schmid and Brent Larson, owners of Crooked Lane Farm, have a beautiful event and wedding venue with a 1940s barn. “Mary Jo and I were in grad school together at UND and our kids were in theatre activities together, so we’ve known them for a long time and asked them if they’d ever want to part with some land. They have been super helpful and really saw this as a good companion business for their own,” said Deb Grosz. “We feel the same way about them; we can work with brides and grooms for their wine and we’ll be setting up a table to sell wine at their concerts that they host every other Thursday, all summer. This year, our time and effort will be focused on the tasting room and the concerts at Crooked Lane Farm.”

Open for Tastings & Tours!
Dakota Vines is now open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Labor Day weekend. Guests can tour the tasting room, gallery and production room with Letina tanks.

Once the snow flies, make sure to check their Facebook page and website for updates on special dates for holiday shopping events and exclusive dining nights. “For the holidays, we have discussed partnering with Crooked Lane Farm to do a sleigh ride which would bring guests back to our tasting room for a mulled wine and provide a place to warm up and enjoy the season,” said Deb Grosz. “With river right outside our door, it’s really beautiful here in the winter.” Next summer, you can expect Dakota Vines to open their tasting room as early as Memorial weekend.

Get to Know: Bob Grosz – Vineyard and Winery Manager, Winemaker
Bob Grosz has over 25 years of experience in public school education as a teacher, principal and associate superintendent. He has been the Associate Superintendent for the Fargo Public Schools for the past 10 years and has been an adjunct professor at North Dakota State University for the past five years, teaching classes to master’s level students. Bob Grosz has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Dakota and is currently working on a degree in Enology (winemaking).

Get to Know: Deb Grosz – Sales and Tasting Room Manager
Deb Grosz began her career in 1989 as a 4th-grade teacher and has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Dakota. She spent ten years in various elementary and middle school classrooms prior to her current role at Concordia College as the Director of Field Experiences where she teaches children’s literature and various seminars to pre-service teachers.

Hit the road for a North Dakota Tasting Tour!

4e Winery
3766 156th Avenue S.E., Mapleton, N.D.
Red Trail Vineyard
3510 142nd Avenue S.E., Buffalo, N.D.
redtrailvineyards.comMaple River Winery (Open year-round)
628 Front Street, Casselton, N.D.
mapleriverwinery.comRookery Rock Winery (New!)
3660 147th Avenue S.E., Wheatland, N.D.

Point of View Winery
8413 19th Avenue N.W., Burlington, N.D.

Wild Grape Winery and Kesselring Vineyards (Vineyard tours by appointment)
5720 160th Avenue S.E., Kindred, N.D.
kesselringvineyard.wordpress.comPrairie Rose Meadery
3101 39th Street S., Fargo, N.D.
prairierosemeadery.comDakota Sun Gardens Winery
955 73rd Avenue N.E., Carrington, N.D.

Bear Creek Winery
8800 South 25th Street, Fargo, N.D.

Prairiewood Winery
12443 68th Street S.E., Lisbon, N.D.

Cottonwood Cider House
14481 25th Street S.E., Ayr, N.D.

Wild Terra Cider & Brewing
6 – 12th Street North, Fargo, N.D.


For more information, contact:
Dakota Vines Vineyard and Winery
17355 County Road 4, Colfax, N.D. (I-29 toward Abercrombie – exit 37)
(Open for tastings and tours through mid-September)
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Happy Camper Overhaul [Somethings Borrowed]

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by Dan Francis Photography Overlooking Hoot Lake in Fergus Falls’ Godel Park, mom and daughter-duo, Kim Olson and MacKenzie Anderson, set the perfect summertime…

Words by Tracy Nicholson / Photography by Dan Francis Photography

Overlooking Hoot Lake in Fergus Falls’ Godel Park, mom and daughter-duo, Kim Olson and MacKenzie Anderson, set the perfect summertime stage. With their wedding and event rental company, Somethings Borrowed, the two spotted this old camper online and knew it would be the perfect addition to their business. Spending six weeks on renovations, with their family’s help, their old pull-behind is now a charming conversation piece. Mix in a dash of fun chalk art, a sprinkle of vintage decor along with their family’s favorite Key lime pie, and these two have stirred up a recipe for success.

Borrowing Bliss
When the Olson family had three daughters get married in a two-year span, they found themselves sitting on a gold-mine of wedding decor. In the aftermath of wedding bliss, an idea for renting out their inventory was sparked and their new business Somethings Borrowed was born. “We rent out a lot of decor and centerpieces for events and we also decorate for weddings,” said Olson. “With three weddings over two years, we had all of this stuff so we thought we could either get rid of it or do something with it. So, we have it all on display at Olson’s Furniture in downtown Fergus Falls, making it convenient for brides to go in and choose what they like.”

Vintage Camper Overhaul
Coming across a fixer-upper camper on a buy, sell and swap site, the two decided that a vintage camper-overhaul might be the perfect addition to their rental business. With the help of their husbands, Keith Olson, Kris Anderson, and Anderson’s brother, Brandon Olson their camper flip was completed in a mere six weeks. Now, they have a working sink and proper wiring for lighting.

“When we finished work on the camper last July, we named her Martha Barnaby and decided we wanted to be able to rent it out for mostly private events like weddings. It can be used as a bar, candy or ice cream stand and photo booth,” said Olson. “MacKenzie and Kris, at their wedding, had an ice cream truck. It was a novelty and something different, so we just wanted to be able to offer something unique and fun to our clients. Since then, we’ve done birthday parties, weddings, a dental office summer party and we’re looking forward to being the ticket booth at Junk Market in West Fargo this September. We’ll also be at Shop, Move and Groove in downtown Fergus Falls, which we did last year as well. Currently, we don’t have a food or liquor license, so private events are much better for us.”

Summer Vibes
“When we decided on making Key lime pie, we correlated our lake setting with limes and lemons to add that summer vibe,” said Anderson. “We also wanted to include some greenery and some flowers for summer – fresh flowers and greens add such a great pop to any staged event. We also have a beautiful collection of assorted china dishes that we’ve accumulated for wedding rentals. We used old wine barrels for the pie display and created a coffee table out of wooden boxes for something a little more interesting and whimsical.”

Chalkboard Art
“A really good friend of ours and artist, Vera Carlson, does the special chalkboard writing for us. If any of our clients request something written on a chalkboard, we usually contact her – she does a phenomenal job,” said Olson. “Since she’s located in Alexandria, Minn., we take the chalkboard to her and get it picked up so the bride doesn’t have to. We have three of these large chalkboards available for rent.”

Sharing a Vision
When it comes to decor and events, Anderson and Olson rarely disagree. “My mom and I work really well together, we can pretty much finish each other’s sentences,” said Anderson. “She can be thinking something, and without speaking, I can step in and finish it – we just get the same vision. There’s not much that we disagree on as far as how we think something should be set up.”

“When we work together to decorate a wedding, we’ll work for hours, straight through and kind of feed off of one another and finish each other’s projects,” said Olson. “It works out well because MacKenzie has a full-time job and I just retired from my career, so I can more easily take time to go meet with a bride or run out and pull things together for the event.”

Need to Know!
Although their camper can be seen at events all around the area, most people don’t know that the two also specialize in wedding decor and have a vast inventory to rent. “In most venues, you cannot get in until the morning of because a lot of places have been double-booking,” said Anderson. “Friday weddings have become a big thing, so we come in the morning or day of the event and get it decorated while the family is getting ready for pictures. Also, a lot of people don’t realize that they can rent the camper and we’ll bring it to them and pick it up after the event, so they don’t have to deal with it at all. We really want people to see that vision of what it can be. It can be a really fun central space for people to gather at during social hour for any type of event. We see it as a great conversation piece, photo booth, a serving bar, a candy bar – really anything you can imagine.”

Just completing their work on Martha Barnaby last spring, you’d think a vacation would be in order, but these two have already started their second overhaul. “We have another camper that we’ve already gutted, so we’re getting ready to take on a new camper remodel,” said Olson. “I’m going to turn this one into Cousin Camp for the grandkids. It’s in pretty bad shape right now though, so we have a lot of work ahead of us.”


Summertime Key Lime Pie
“This is a recipe that I’ve probably had for 20 years. It’s really simple but delicious – we make it all summer long and the whole family loves it,” said Olson.

1 – Shortbread crust
1 – can sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 – Cup lime juice
8 – Ounce extra creamy Cool Whip
2 – Teaspoon lime zest

Mix together and fill crust.
Garnish with lime zest or slices, then refrigerate.


For more information, contact:
Somethings Borrowed
Kim Olson, MacKenzie Anderson

Martha Barnaby
Somethings Borrowed
Chalkboard Art
Vera Carlson
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A Sweetly Simple Life: Three Square Meals with Shayla Knutson

Words by Shayla Knutson, Tracy Nicholson / Photography by M.Schleif Photography When Midwest Nest asked me to contribute to their spring issue, I decided to plan out a full day…

Words by Shayla Knutson, Tracy Nicholson / Photography by M.Schleif Photography

When Midwest Nest asked me to contribute to their spring issue, I decided to plan out a full day of meals using fresh, healthy ingredients and a few tips from my Sweetly Simple Life food blog. These dishes had to be simple, spring-inspired and full of flavor. To provide an elegant backdrop, Radiant Homes offered me a stunning kitchen in their new model home in the coveted Edgewood Estates neighborhood of North Fargo.BODY:pic 2

Zucchini & Carrot Cake Oats
This is one of my favorite oatmeals for breakfast. It’s pretty healthy and it only uses two tablespoons of pure maple syrup. There are no other sugars added, but it tastes like cake – it’s so good. You can also keep it in a crockpot, warming for 6-8 hours overnight and then it’s ready for you in the morning. It’s just really easy, throw all of the ingredients in there and let it cook.pic 7 & 16

Poppy Seed Chicken-Salad Sandwiches
I love that this is a healthier version of chicken salad, but doesn’t skimp on the taste. I’ve tried to look for a good, pre-made chicken salad at the stores, but when I read the ingredient list with a ton of additives and heavy mayo, I quickly changed my mind. A typical chicken salad would call for around two cups of mayo – as a compromise, I used only a 1/4  a cup of mayo, then substituted the rest with greek yogurt. This is a really versatile recipe in terms of diet and preferences. My husband, Cam, doesn’t eat gluten, so he prefers to make wraps using butter lettuce, instead of bread or croissants. I, however, love a good whole wheat bread from my go-to source, Breadsmith.

Enchilada Zucchini Boats
This is one of my husband’s favorite dinner dishes and I love Mexican food. We probably make this recipe once a week. It’s pretty spicy, so if you’re not someone who enjoys spicy food, you can easily tone it down by avoiding the chipotle peppers. If you skip the chipotle, this is also a really kid-friendly and fun recipe. Lure them in with the process of carving boats out of zucchinis and they might just be tempted enough to eat their veggies.


A Sweetly Simple Life:
Growing up in the small town of Hazen, N.D., we didn’t have a lot of options for dining out, so naturally, I learned to cook every meal with my family. Today, I live in Downtown Fargo with my husband, Cam Knutson. I work for Ami Baxter Interior Design and I’ve had my cooking blog, Sweetly Simple Life for a couple of years now. This is how we cook several times a week – pretty healthy, gluten-free, or at least with a gluten-free option, and always delicious. Cam loves to take the leftovers to work, so even though it’s just the two us, we always make a little extra. Living with a husband who’s gluten-free means we lead a pretty healthy lifestyle, but I still make time for my guilty pleasure – baking. I love baking!

Where do I get my inspiration? I do a lot of searching on Pinterest, but I don’t follow the actual recipe at all. I gather several different recipes and create my own; which is always a struggle when people ask me to share recipes with them. However, there is one place you can find more of my recipes – find me @sweetlysimplelife on Instagram or on Facebook.



Zucchini & Carrot Cake Oats
  • ½ C. steel cut oats
  • 1 ½ C. almond milk
  • ½ C. finely shredded carrots
  • ½ C. finely shredded zucchini
  • ½ Tsp. cinnamon
  • ⅛ Tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ Tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ Tsp. salt
  • ½ C. toasted pecans
In the crockpot:
The night before – spray your crockpot with oil. Combine all of the ingredients except the pecans in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Top with pecans and enjoy!
On the stove:

Combine all ingredients except the pecans. Cook covered for 15 minutes. Top with pecans and enjoy!


Poppy Seed Chicken-Salad Sandwiches

Chicken Salad 
  • 4 C. rotisserie chicken cubed
  • 1 ½ C. finely chopped celery
  • 1 ½ C. quartered grapes (red or green seedless)
  • 1 C. toasted walnuts
  • ¼ C. avocado oil mayo
  • 1 C. greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 4 Tsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ Tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • ½ Tsp. pepper
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Add chicken salad ingredients and toss until the dressing is thoroughly incorporated.
Serve on croissants, butter lettuce, wraps, or your favorite type of bread. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.
Enchilada Zucchini Boats
  • 4 small zucchini
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 med. yellow onion
  • 1 Tsp. chipotle pepper sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ½ Tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tsp. salt
  • 3 Tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 Tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 – 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • ½ C. corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 1 C. water
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or beef
  • 1 – 7 oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1 ½ C. shredded cheese (Cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • ½ C. greek yogurt
  • 1 to 2 Tsp. powdered ranch
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced scallions

Preheat oven to 400℉. Brown ground meat and add all other ingredients besides zucchini. Let this cook and simmer on medium-low for 15-20 minutes. For the zucchini, use a spoon or melon baller. Scoop centers from halved zucchini while leaving a ¼ “ rim to create boats. Drizzle with ½ Tbs. olive oil and bake until zucchini is almost tender (approx. 8-10 min). Spoon the mixture into the zucchini boats and top them with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and golden brown. Top with yogurt mixture, scallions and cilantro.


To see more of Shayla Knutson’s Sweetly Simple recipes, follow her on Facebook or Instagram @sweetlysimplelife

About the Model Home:
Contractor – David Reid, Radiant Homes
Architect – Meland Architects
Interior Design – Brandi Youngmark Interior Design
Cabinetry – Designer, Kristi Foell, Braaten Cabinets
Appliances – Rigel’s
Flooring – Carpet World & Design Direction
Plumbing & lighting fixtures – Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery

Radiant Creative Homes

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The Starving Rooster [Minot & Bismarck]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Scott Amundson Photography Most people know Chris Hawley as an award-winning architect of homes, but in Western North Dakota, he’s a jack-of-all-trades. Back in…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Scott Amundson Photography

Most people know Chris Hawley as an award-winning architect of homes, but in Western North Dakota, he’s a jack-of-all-trades. Back in their hometown of Minot, Chris and his wife, Sarah Hawley, had ventured into developing and restoring old buildings when they struck a partnership to create a new restaurant concept, The Starving Rooster. See inside the Minot location inspired by the 1917 Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co. and the Bismarck location that just opened its doors last year. While their infamous, starved rooster logo was once known as a symbol of farm equipment efficiency, starving the rooster to better feed the farmer – it now symbolizes a fantastic, brick-oven dining experience with a respectful nod to their hometown heritage.

Restoration vs. Restaurant
Six years ago, Chris Hawley, his brother-in-law, Chad Thompson, and Thompson’s cousin, Joel Welstad, decided to buy the 1917 Minot building that was originally the home of the parts and distribution warehouse for Aultman & Taylor. Located in an industrial part of Minot, the team began their project by designing 21 units of funky, loft-style apartments on the top half of the building. “At the time, during the oil boom, Minot was in a housing shortage. As we got closer to the end and started discussing the street level, we realized that we had a lot of interest from others, so eventually, we decided to do our own restaurant concept,” said Hawley.

The Concept
The Aultman & Taylor Machinery Co. dates back to 1859 in Ohio, but the Minot building was completed in 1917. Employing a clever marketing tool, their starving rooster logo appealed to nearly every farmer in the Midwest. “The company built threshing machines, so their whole story was that they made a threshing machine that was so effective in sifting the grain that it didn’t leave even a spec of grain behind for the roosters to eat – so the roosters starved,” explained Hawley. This logo would soon become the inspiration behind The Starving Rooster restaurants which Hawley and his partners designed using a 1917 Aultman & Taylor catalog they found archived in Ohio.

Back then, catalogs were hand-drawn, black and white etchings or illustrations, so Hawley and his partners wanted to properly display them as the art they truly are. The original illustrations of farm equipment now grace the walls of the restaurant and tell the story of the building and tractor company. Taking it one step further, the partners opted to use reclaimed materials from the original Aultman & Taylor building as well as salvaged material and farm equipment parts from Welstad’s family farm.

In the midst of their restoration, Hawley and his partners brought in Jeremy Mahaney, another Minot native who was, at the time, operating restaurants in Minneapolis. Today, he runs both their Minot and Bismarck locations of The Starving Rooster. Their first location in Minot would open four years ago with a second, Bismarck location following just last year.

The Starving Rooster: Minot
Specializing in brick-oven pizzas and sandwiches, the Minot restaurant has a casual vibe fused with a rich history rooted in farming. Hawley and his partners kept as much of the original Aultman & Taylor building that they could. “We left the loading dock open, putting in garage doors that can open in the summer months. In 1917, people used to pull up in their Model-Ts, back their car in here, load up their parts and head back to the farm,” said Hawley. Nowadays, the garage doors open up to Main Street, providing front row access to local street fairs and street dances.

The partners kept much of the original paint and walls from 1917, salvaging every bit of the original building and repurposing whatever materials they found. To build the tap line running across the bar, the team recruited Larry Larson of P2 Industries to fabricate a large industrial pipe to hold the beer lines. Four of the bar stools are designed using old tractor seats and the dining chairs were custom-built for the restaurant.

“We actually used the old garage doors as the ceiling and up-lit them so they glow in the dining room area,” said Hawley. “We loved the raw floors, so what you see is the actual red paint from the old shop.”

Salvaging the hardwood floors from the upper level, the partners repurposed them into custom dining booths. “Joel built all of the wood booths and benches in place,” said Hawley. “He was the general contractor on this and Jeremy put in a lot of sweat equity as well doing the barn doors and all of those projects. I pulled the permit, Joel did the construction and Jeremy provided a ton of labor.”

Using the original drawing from Aultman & Taylor’s catalog, the partners had it printed on acrylic and mounted over the brick wall in the dining area. Look up and you’ll find a custom-designed, lathe and acoustic ceiling within the lighting. As the project’s general contractor, Welstad used salvaged finds from his family’s farm and recruited their welder and handyman to fabricated the railings in place. “They made all of the furniture and anything steel – so all of the chairs, railings and steel-top tables. The table bases are all cultivator disks,” said Hawley.

Head towards the heat and you’ll find the brick-oven pizza area, complete with a canopy based on one of Aultman & Taylor’s designs. This is a replication of an original tractor canopy that would have covered the cab.

Their ode to the building’s history doesn’t stop with the interior’s design – all of their brick oven pizzas are named after one of the Aultman & Taylor tractors – “Old Trusty”, “Yellow Fellow”, “The Triple Gear” and many more. “The Thai flatbread pizza is one of the most popular. We also do a pulled pork sandwich that everyone loves and a Sunday brunch with an amazing spread,” said Hawley.

The Starving Rooster: Bismarck
After finding success at the Minot location, the team focused their efforts on opening a Bismarck location, also on Main Street. Instead of a farm equipment company, this space was once an automotive shop and car dealership. “It’s an old building, but it was so goofy that in the 80s and 90s they kind of put it back together. In the process, they took away all of the cool, old features,” said Hawley. “They had to cover up the brick and everything else to get the insulation to work. So, at the end of the day, it’s got an old front on it, but it’s really more of a new building. It was basically a vanilla shell, sheetrock box and we kind of had to make it cool again.” To complete the transformation, the partners brought in all of the brick and panels while the other materials were repurposed from the Welstad farm.

At the entrance, guests are greeted with the same ode to Aultman & Taylor displayed on red panels from the side of a combine that Welstad had sitting in a field. These panels feature a prominent image and text from the cover of Aultman & Taylor’s 1917 catalog, relayed on acrylic.

“This was made from a grain auger taken out of the trees at the Welstad farm. So, we are essentially augering beer out of the silo across this area and directing it to the taps,” said Hawley. “On one side of the silo, we have a door that leads to the liquor storage and on the other side, we have four taps. We also have wine and iced coffee on tap.”

“This wall is kind of fun – everyone asks, ‘What’s up with the cross?’”laughed Hawley.
“It’s actually an ‘x’. It’s like the ‘You are here.’ marking your spot on the map. So this is our map leading to the bathroom. At the other end, there’s an arrow pointing to the bathroom.”

In this area, the team used sifting panels from a grain dryer at the Welstad farm, then backlit them for more dimension. If the pendant lights look familiar, that’s because the shades are actually the teeth of a corn header.

Cultivator disks were once again repurposed into bases for the tables and the team reused the remaining windows left over from the Minot building. “Some of the elements from the Minot space show up again, but the Bismarck location is a totally different and reimagined space,” said Hawley.

If you’re ready to flock to one of their two locations, here’s where you can find them:
The Starving Rooster – Minot, N.D.
30 First Street Northeast

The Starving Rooster – Bismarck, N.D.
512 East Main Avenue

See their full menu and hours of operation at:

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From Italy to Fargo… Recreating an Agriturismo Dining Experience [Laneil Skaff & Julie Stoe]

Words by Tracy Nicholson Photography by Dan Francis Photography On Laneil Skaff’s last day in Italy, she was tasked with finding the perfect restaurant to round out their adventure. A…

Words by Tracy Nicholson
Photography by Dan Francis Photography

On Laneil Skaff’s last day in Italy, she was tasked with finding the perfect restaurant to round out their adventure. A quick online search had their crew navigating an intense path of twisting roads into the hills of an old vineyard named Borgo La Casetta. According to the reviews, the bed and breakfast promised an unforgettable, Tuscan dining experience. Greeting them at the door amidst a picturesque, hill-top setting were chefs Renzo and Laura Morosi, delightfully friendly hosts that were thrilled to introduce them to authentic Tuscan cuisine. With no menu, no prices and countless courses, the vineyard turned Agriturismo café and inn, spent hours wining and dining the group with their fresh and seasonal fare, grown in their own backyard. Returning home with a glowing review of her own, Skaff’s daughter Julie Stoe was right behind her, planning her own trip to meet the now-infamous chefs. After a total of three trips to visit the inn between the two, Skaff and Stoe decided it was time to recreate their Tuscan experience, this time in Skaff Apartment’s beautiful Stone West kitchen and community room.

Agriturismo Inn-spiration
Nestled amidst the rolling hills, olive trees and vineyards of San Baronto, Italy, Borgo La Casetta would inspire Skaff and Stoe to gather as many of the Morosi’s recipes as they could, planning to translate them into their own style of cooking, then recreate them back home. With the inn located on a working farm, the chefs relied on seasonal ingredients, the finest meats and cheeses, as well as their own pressed olive oil for the base of their dishes.

Dining-In: Borgo La Casetta
Inside the property’s bed and breakfast, which was once a winery owned by Renzo Morosi’s family, the café offers guests a charming and intimate dining experience with just 10 small tables. “The chefs prefer reservations but seem happy to cook for anyone who arrives,” said Skaff. “It’s usually packed full of locals coming in for special occasions. Their son Marcello also works there and serves, while Renzo’s mom comes in to wash dishes some nights.

Worth Every Euro…
“On my first visit to Tuscany, I found the inn on Yelp – it was rated number one,” said Skaff. “We walked in and asked for an English menu and he said, ‘Oh, you’re here. Now I cook for you!’ The whole time we sat there, we wondered how much this was going to cost since we didn’t know what he would be serving us. After a few courses, we didn’t care because it was worth every penny for the experience. It was Chianti wine and Lemoncello made by Renzo, port wine, grappa and espresso. Grappa is just a liquor that is known to help break down food for better digestion. We had all of these drinks and about seven courses to go with them, bringing them out one at a time. It ended perfectly with the apple cake that you’ll find in this month’s recipes. The entire experience ended up costing 25 Euros each, which equates to about $30 a person.”

While Skaff visited Tuscany in 2013 and again last May, Stoe embarked on her own Italian adventure, last October. “We visited Renzo’s home because we really wanted that Tuscan experience that my mom had told me about,” said Stoe. “We looked him up and found out that we could stay at the inn, so we ended up in a cute little apartment and ate at the café every night. When we went deeper into the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, we actually drove an hour and a half back just to eat there on our last night because it was so good. Renzo and Laura made something different every night – it was an amazing trip.”

“In Tuscan culture, they really value their family and their food; taking pride in the way they cook and serve each meal, savoring and appreciating the food they’ve grown.”
Julie Stoe

Americans versus Italians
If you’re planning a dinner in Italy, Stoe suggests carving out two to three hours devoted entirely to food. “In Italy, they always do multiple courses, starting with a charcuterie or antipasto selection, then a bruschetta, soup, pasta, meat, potato and different vegetables, a salad, then finish with a dessert,” said Stoe. “It’s just so different from how Americans dine. There are typically about five or more courses and the pasta is brought out separately from the meat with everything served family-style with smaller tasting plates.”

“They are also really proud of their meats and their process for making salami and sausage,” said Stoe. “When Renzo cooked for us, he’d always come out and tell us where the meats were from. He also gave us a new appreciation for good quality, fresh olive oil. Renzo taught us to cook with the cheap oil and save the best for the table. In Tuscan culture, they really value their family and their food; taking pride in the way they cook and serve each meal, savoring and appreciating the food they’ve grown.”


Bruschetta Basics
“Bruschetta in Italy is a little different than what we’d see in the U.S. They serve it with just straight olive oil and rub a whole garlic on the bread, that’s their classic bruschetta,” said Stoe. “They also serve it with egg and truffle oil, liver paté and the more recognizable tomato and basil – they really utilize their lands. Renzo makes his own olive oil, sometimes pressing it that day, so we were able to bring that back with us.”

“For their bruschetta, they tend to use what’s in season and find ways to cook with every part of it,” said Skaff. “Their bread is really a vehicle for anything they want to serve. They also use unsalted bread, which was really different than what we’re used to. In the middle ages, salt was heavily taxed. The bakers in Florence decided it was just too expensive and chose to live without it.”

Casio E Pepe
“We had this dish in Rome. Each area of Tuscany seemed to have a specialty pasta and this is the one Rome is famous for,” said Skaff.  “It uses that very thick spaghetti called bucatini. This is a very simplistic dish, but the key is high-quality ingredients. When we tried to bring this recipe back to the U.S., we found their pasta technique to be a little too difficult for the average cook. They use hot water and mash it all onto the sides of the bowl and keep mixing until it comes onto the spaghetti. This process is so foreign to us, so we were able to modify the recipe by adding a bit of butter to the cheeses, yet still using some of their easier techniques to get that same flavor.”

Renzo’s Chicken
“We love Renzo’s chicken and it’s become a family favorite for us,” said Stoe. “We couldn’t believe that he shared the recipe with us.”

Before you head to the store to stock-up, we asked Skaff to give us a few quick tips and tricks for the prep work:
– When the recipe calls for white wine, although most recipes call for a dry wine like Chardonnay, I prefer a little sweeter wine like a Pino Grigio.

–  When buying the cheeses, use the highest quality cheese your budget allows and ALWAYS buy a block and grate it yourself.

– When using herbs, take the time to heat or saute them with garlic to extract more flavor.
– If you often cook with tomato paste, try swapping out your cans for a tube of tomato paste. Most recipes only call for a tablespoon, so you’ll have a lot less waste.

Italian” as Apple Pie?
When Stoe and Skaff visited Italy, they both found out quickly that Italian apple pie is not actually pie at all. “To Americans, this would be considered more of an apple cake or tart,” said Stoe. “This was one of Laura’s favorite family recipes. I use very thin slices of apples and arrange them like Laura did, but once it’s in the oven, the dough will actually cook over them. It’s absolutely delicious.” Setting the perfect backdrop for the perfect finish, Skaff included the hand-dyed, yellow table runner she found on her last trip to Italy.

[Course 1]


Cheese(from left)
Pecorino Pepato, Italian – sheep’s milk
Boschetto Al Tartufo, Italian – semi-soft with white truffle shavings, cow and sheep’s milk

Teleggio- Lombardi, Italian – wash-rind cow’s milk
*These cheeses can be found at Luna in Fargo

Genoa Salami, Capicola ham, Pancetta, Prosciutto, Hard SalamiNote: “The balsamic and olive oil is from a small winery in Italy that we visited in Tuscany,” said Stoe. “Both of the wines are from The Casa Emma vineyard in the Chianti region.”

[Course 2]

Bruschettas and Garlic Toast

Garlic toast

Rustic Italian bread

Good, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Garlic cloves – cut the short way

Slice bread thin, drizzle with EVOO and grill or toast

When toasted – rub with cut side of garlic

Scrambled Eggs w/Truffle Oil Bruschetta

2 – eggs

2 – Tbsp. cream or Half and Half

– Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

– A couple of drops truffle oil or grated parmesan

Whisk eggs and cream together. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in small skillet over medium heat. Pour in eggs using a rubber spatula – continue to scrape pan until eggs are almost scrambled. Drizzle in truffle drops or grated parmesan. Place on top of garlic toast and sprinkle pepper on top.

Tomato Bruschetta

6-7 plum tomatoes (I use many different kinds – whatever looks ripe and flavorful)

2 – garlic cloves – minced small

1 – Tbsp. EVOO

1 – tsp. balsamic vinegar

6-8 fresh basil leaves – chopped fine

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Slice tomatoes in half and remove the seeds and stem. Dice small. Stir in garlic, EVOO, balsamic and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place on top of garlic toast.


[Course 3]

Casio E Pepe

Makes 2 servings


6 – Oz. Pasta (bucatini-thick spaghetti or spaghetti)

3 – Tbsp. butter, cubed, divided

1 – Tsp. freshly cracked black pepper

¾ – C. Finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan

1/3 – C. finely grated Pecorino Romano

Kosher salt


Bring water to boil. Season with salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving one cup of the pasta water. While pasta is cooking, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pepper and stir until toasted, one minute. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Add pasta and remaining butter.

Reduce heat to low and add Grana Padano (or parmesan), stirring and tossing with tongs until melted.

Remove pan from heat. Add Pecorino Romano, again stirring and tossing until cheese melts, sauce coats the pasta, and pasta is cooked to your desired tenderness. Add more pasta water if the sauce seems dry.

Serve immediately.


[Course 4]

Renzo’s Chicken

15 – chicken legs- skinned and the top half of the bone cut off

2-3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 – Tbsp. Fresh rosemary – chopped
1 1/2 – Tsp. – Fresh sage – chopped
3 – Cloves garlic – minced
1 1/2 – Tsp. kosher salt
1 – Tsp. Pepper
1 – glass white wine
3 – Tbsp. tomato paste
1 –  C. hot water
A handful of small black olives (optional)

Skin and cut the bone off of the drumstick; in cutting the bone – if you lay the drumstick so the bone is NOT flat on the cutting board, then come down with a good-sized knife, it should break quite easily.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium to med-high heat. Brown drumsticks – turning until all sides are brown – about 15 minutes total. Remove from pan and saute garlic and spices two to three minutes. Add wine and deglaze the pan. When the wine has cooked down most of the way, add tomato paste and water. Stir until combined and add chicken back in. Cover and turn down to simmer (low, slow boil) and simmer until the oil comes to the top of the sauce (approx. 30-45 minutes). Optional olives can be added at this time.
Serve and enjoy!


[Course 5]

Italian Apple Pie


7 – Tbsp. butter – room temperature

1 ¼  – C. sugar

3 – eggs

½ – C. milk

1 – C. white flour

2 – Tsp. baking powder

2 – Tsp. vanilla

Zest of one lemon

3-4 apples – very thinly sliced


Cream butter and sugar

Add eggs  – one at a time until incorporated

Pour in milk, flour, baking powder and lemon zest

Mix just until combined

Pour into at least a 9” pie plate

Scatter apples on top

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes until center is done.


Renzo’s Recommendation:
“Before we left, Renzo highly-recommended we get our hands on this cookbook; Tuscan Cookery by Elisabetta Piazzesi, to help us create true Tuscan cuisine,” said Stoe. “There is everything from garlic toast to bruschetta variations and really all of the different courses. We often use this cookbook at home and have found some amazing recipes in there.”

Find the Food:
Cheese selection – Luna, Fargo
Wine selection – Casa Emma Winery, Florence, Italy
Via della Casetta – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Borgo La Casetta InnPlan your trip!
Agriturismo Borgo La Casetta
Renzo and Laura Morosi
San Baronto, Italyinfo@borgolacasetta.it
borgolacasetta.itFor more information, contact:

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Old World Vs. New World Wines

Words by Laura Botten Photography by M. Schleif Photography We don’t judge our friends based on birthplace, but where our grapes are nurtured does matter. Recently, we gathered a group…

Words by Laura Botten
Photography by M. Schleif Photography

We don’t judge our friends based on birthplace, but where our grapes are nurtured does matter. Recently, we gathered a group at an event we regularly host called Brix & Banter. Our goal was to showcase the differences between Old World and New World wines and why these differences manifest themselves in the glass.

Defining our Wine
Simply put, Old World wines hail from eastern and central Europe, the birthplace of the “modern” wine industry. Vitis vinifera vines and grape varieties that produce the wines that we, as consumers know and love, are believed to have made their first appearance in the Caucasus Mountains in western Asia thousands of years ago, spreading from there into eastern Europe and the Middle East.

New World wines are the result of European colonization of the Americas, Oceania and South Africa over the centuries as vine cuttings made the voyage with emigrants destined for new beginnings. Over the years, these vines flourished in their new homes, living up to, and at times eclipsing, their old world counterparts.

The terms “Old World” and “New World” have moved beyond simply defining a wine by its geography and are now used to reference style and typicity. Since “style” is an extension of geography, politics, regulations, tradition and history, the two uses have an undeniable connection. If all of this seems like an overwhelming pop quiz, just hang in there. We promise it’s worth the read and far more fun than the classroom.

The table below outlines some of the differences between the two. Please keep in mind that these are generalizations, and as with all things wine, there will certainly be exceptions. However, the tasting component criteria outlined, are what a professional taster evaluates during the deductive tasting method to help determine a wine’s origin.

Side by Side Comparisons

At our spring Brix & Banter tasting, we decided to put the OW versus NW to the test, tasting similar wines side by side. It was an interesting exercise; the wines presented beautifully and were direct reflections of the style and typicity outlined above. To be certain we were comparing “apples to apples”, the price points and blends, where applicable, were similar.

Pairing #1: 

Chateau Val Beylie “Demoiselle” Bordeaux Blanc, France:
The Chateau Beylie, a traditional Bordeaux blend of Sauvignon Blanc (80%) and Semillon (20%) from a tiny vineyard (only 500 cases produced) was tasting exceptional. With intense fruit character and greater weight from extended maceration with the skins, this is a unique Bordeaux Blanc. It is redolent with white flower, gingerbread, herbs & honey notes. Unoaked & fresh, with moderate acidity (mediated by the Semillon), this is a crowd pleaser with layers of complexity.

Cade Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, California:
Napa Valley is a warmer climate than Bordeaux, so the expectation is riper fruit character – pushing to more tropical fruit versus citrus fruit – which this wine delivered. This wine saw a modicum of oak influence, which included a tiny bit of Acacia wood that the winemaker feels brings a bit of an “almond” or nutty quality to the wine. A bit richer on the palate, more tropical fruit, less acidity, and a bit higher alcohol than its French counterpart, this is a personal favorite for “New World” Sauvignon Blanc.

*Both wines lack the very herbaceous and green notes associated with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Pairing #2: 

Macon-Lugny Les Charmes Chardonnay, Burgundy, France (100% Chardonnay):
Our new favorite Chardonnay, especially for summer drinking, meant it had to be shared!  This is a 100% Estate Chardonnay from the “Les Charmes” vineyard in Lugny, a village of the Maconnais. It sees no oak influence and is intended to be all about the fruit and unique terroir of the region – chalky, limestone soils – that many feel evoke minerality in a wine. It is luxurious on the palate, with ripe fruit, floral notes and a balancing acidity.

Napa Cellars Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California (100% Chardonnay):
This wine again showcased more intense fruit character and weight on the palate than its cooler climate counterpart. Baked apple, ripe pear, caramel and toasted pastry with buttery, creamy overtones and vanilla and spice from oak aging, leaves this wine begging for a nice lobster tail, creamy seafood pasta, chicken piccata or buttered popcorn!

*Both of these wines see 100% Malolactic Fermentation and Sur Lie Aging, with only the Napa Cellars meeting oak, and are great Chards to evaluate side by side!

Pairing #3: 

Jean-Claude Boisset Les Ursuline Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Burgundy, France (100% Pinot Noir):
With fruit coming from the Cotes-de-Nuits, the spiritual home of Pinot Noir, this quintessential Burgundy over-delivers at a reasonable price. Red fruit character – think cranberry, strawberry, ripe red cherry – along with subtle spice notes and a lovely “earthy” component, come together to reveal a refined, finessed and elegant drinking wine. Grab this for simply prepared salmon, duck or a mushroom-heavy dish. The higher acid, lower alcohol and more refined fruit character would also complement a cheese plate or creamy pasta.

Napa Cellars Pinot Noir, Napa Valley, California (100 % Pinot Noir):
In keeping with the previous wines, the warmer Napa Valley climate produces riper fruit, with black cherry, earth, cola, spice notes and caramel; showcasing a more brooding, “masculine” expression of Pinot Noir. This wine sees more oak influence than the Bourgogne, which bodes well considering its bigger constitution. If you lean towards a more structured and “robust” Pinot Noir, this should find a home in your wine rack.

*These two Pinot Noirs deftly showcase the range of Pinot Noir.

Pairing #4:

Clos d’ L’Oratoire des Papes Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Rhone Valley, France:
Consistently rated 90+ points, this is a hidden gem that allows you to drink Chateauneuf-du-Pape without breaking the bank. Drinking beautifully, it was the crowd favorite. Frank & spicy, with licorice, black pepper and surprising, subtle florals evolve into more traditional notes of strawberry, cherry and fresh blackcurrant with subtle menthol. This is a blend of 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah & 5% each Cinsaut & Mourvedre. Chateauneuf-du-Pape allows 13 (or 18, depending on how they are counted) grape varieties, but Grenache must hold the majority of the blend.

Abstract Red Blend by Orin Swift, California:
Abstract is a blend of Grenache (70-80%, varies by vintage), Syrah (2nd by volume) and Petite Sirah by iconic winemaker, Dave Phinney. Big, with dark briar fruit, ripe black plums, mocha, coffee and caramel on the nose and palate, ample tannins and oak influence, this wine is quintessentially Orin Swift: high alcohol balanced by robust fruit. Much like the label, it is a well-appointed collage that is greater than the sum of its parts. Enjoy with a big, juicy steak or barbecued ribs.

And the Winner is…

After every pairing, we took a vote. And, much to our surprise, our group of (mostly)  American palates favored the Old World wines every round. Not by a landslide, but certainly a majority. The greater takeaway was that indeed, these wines presented in the manner outlined above; Old World contenders were more subtle and acidic, lower alcohol and more terroir-driven with earthy and mineral notes. The New World wines were more concentrated and robust, with lower acid, higher alcohol and significantly more intense fruit character.

About Brix & Banter

Brix & Banter is the collaboration of restaurateur Dan Hurder and Laura Botten; both wine enthusiasts whose goal is to make wine fun and approachable while educating, dispelling myths and opening new doors (or bottles) for the novice or experienced wine drinker. Tastings are the second Wednesday of every month and you can follow them here:


Brix and Banter on Facebook: facebook.com/BrixAndBanter/


Subscribe to Brix and Banter monthly newsletter or contact:

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