Review: Favorite Minnesota Recipes & Radio Memories

June 6, 2008 at 6:26 pm 2 comments

Origianlly posted at Paper Palate (paperpalate.net) on May 1, 2008.

lamont.JPGAs I opened the plain brown envelope that contained my preview copy of Joyce Lamont’s Favorite Minnesota Recipes & Radio Memories (Voyager Press, Minneapolis, MN) I was a little giddy. I am a son of the South and cookbooks of folksy Southern personalities like Fannie Flagg or Paula Deen are always met with anticipation. Often they contain exciting new variations on the standards from my childhood or a long-lost recipe for a casserole once sampled at Sunday church meeting.

So I was intrigued to see how the common food of Minnesota differed from that of old Dixie. A quick trip through the chapters yielded a few surprises: Chicken Wings Hawaiian, Rumaki Spread, and Spanish Gazpacho? Where is Paul Bunyan? Where are all the wild rice recipes? Where are the casseroles? That is when it occurred to me, I really don’t know much about Minnesota except that Fran Tarkenton quarterbacked the Vikings and Prince is from Minneapolis.

So this would serve as my crash course. I thumbed through the foreword, preface, and introduction to learn that Joyce Lamont has been an icon of the Twin Cities since well before his royal badness donned his first purple Pampers. When she initially took to the airwaves of WCCO 830 AM, radio was the only electronic media and she was one of the first women to carve a niche in the new technology.

In the years that have followed tens of thousands of Minnesotans have grown up listening to her reports of church bazaars, turkey dinners, and other food-related programming. In her book she catalogs many of the recipes she has encountered throughout her landmark career. Although there are a few of the exotics sampled, most reflect the blue-collar ethos of Minnesota, like Cottage Cheese Molded Salad, Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole (finally wild rice and in a casserole!), and her famous Cocoa Syrup (for hot chocolate), which she made every day for co-host Sid Hartman when he announced his arrival to the show with the traditional, “Where’s my chocolate?”

The compilation includes anecdotes and photographs of Lamont’s decades spent on radio. It also includes things rarely seen in cookbooks, like a guide to poisonous plants, 14 rules for proper ladies fashion, and a checklist for a well-stocked first-aid kit. Did you know that “chives and garlic planted near roses will protect them against aphids and black spots”?

As mentioned before, I live in the South, which means it has been summer here for about six weeks already. So when I spotted the recipe for Rhubarb-Lemonade Punch, I knew I had to try it. Rhubarb is one of my favorite “Yankee” foods, and the thought of infusing it in lemonade is fascinating to me. So I gave it try, and it was the perfect refresher after an afternoon spent mowing the lawn.

Rhubarb-Lemonade Punch

  • 3 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 1 (16-ounce) bottle ginger ale

In a large saucepan, combine rhubarb with water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 10-15 minutes, until rhubarb is tender.

Pour mixture through a sieve into a large bowl, pressing rhubarb to remove as much juice as possible. Discard pulp. Add lemonade concentrate to liquid, then cover and chill until cold.

To serve, pour into a punch bowl and gradually stir in ginger ale. Serves 12.

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2 Comments

  • 1. Judie  |  June 7, 2008 at 9:21 am

    This looks like a book I need to add to my collection! Thanks for sharing it.

    Minnesota has, over the years, become so diverse that it’s difficult to identify what qualifies as a “Minnesota Recipe.” I’ve devoted one page on my Visit Minnesota website to recipes including Minnesota State Symbol recipes, Wild Game Recipes, and some of the standards including Wild rice Recipes. I have a whole bunch of Scandinavian recipes yet to be added. A work in progress.

  • 2. wannabetvchef  |  June 7, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Thanks, Judie,
    I was pumped when I got the chance to review this cookbook because I really don’t know that much about the food of the area. After reading it and checking out your web page I can tell that I would enjoy getting a bite to eat in Minnesota . . . even if the Vikings let Dontarrious Thomas get away in free agency.


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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