Last week my mom, Metro, and I went on a walk in our favorite autumn walking locale. It’s an old, unlogged stand of woods surrounded by wide open marshes.
On our way back, we stopped at our favorite on-your-honor pumpkin stand.
I ended up with three of these sugar pumpkins and a new project; baking a pumpkin pie with fresh pumpkin.
It turns out that making pumpkin pie with real pumpkin is super easy—no different than roasting squash in the oven. The hardest thing might be finding sugar pumpkins—I’ve been looking at the co-op and haven’t seen any. Two pumpkins weighing in at about 4 1/2 lbs made the 2 cups of pumpkin called for in most recipes.
In researching pumpkin pie recipes, I found there are a few camps—some people swear by the sweetened condensed milk, others evaporated milk, and some a true custard base. I found organic sweetened condensed milk, so decided to try that version first. Next round I might do a custard sweetened with dark brown sugar.
Either way, this has converted me into a pumpkin pie fan and is definitely going on our Thanksgiving menu.
I followed this recipe from Simply Scratch.
Summer is gone and I have loads of photos that never got posted. These are the last of our trip to the North Coast, where we spent one night at a place called Lamb’s that I’ve driven past year after year since I was a kid. Turns out it’s a huge piece of property with gorgeous lakeshore that’s been in the same family since the 1920s—a rarity nowadays.
It was a warm and gorgeous day when we arrived. We parked the Scamp and headed down the campground road to the pebble beach. Our beach picnic for the day included Door County cherries from the Grand Marais co-op.
Swimming in Lake Superior isn’t usually an option—it’s tempting to jump into the clear blue water but the average water temperature is 40 F/4 C, so…not fun swimming conditions. This year, though, even the open water was warm. It’s rare to see one person go in, much less a whole beach full of people. Anthony walked down the rocky shoreline and swam out to that rock he’s standing on. Metro was not pleased that he wasn’t allowed to follow along and supervise and so he was kind of out of his mind here.
Then they were reunited and all was well in the world again.
This funny little film by Chevrolet was made in and around Minneapolis. I love the unrecognizeable skyline and the vintage sailboats on Lake Minnetonka.
Hovland, Minnesota, is a town of 80 people located about 20 miles south of the Canadian border on Lake Superior. When it was settled by Scandinavian fishermen at the end of the 19th century, there were no roads so goods, mail, and visitors arrived by boat at the massive pier in Chicago Bay. The town would not see a road until the 1930s.
We took a day trip from Grand Marais, searching for the above house, which I shot in 2000 with a film camera because that was all I had then. Hard to imagine. Couldn’t find the house and I’m afraid it’s been torn down because it was uninhabited and on a beautiful piece of lakeshore property.
From the book The Scandinavian Riviera, or, Hovland, Minnesota by Philip J. Anderson:
In the 1890s, a non-Scandinavian editor of the newspaper in Grand Marais, A. DeLacy Wood, often walked the eighteen miles to Hovland to enjoy its hospitality and warm community spirit; he soon purchased property in Big Bay. In the July 15, 1893, issue of the Cook County Herald, he wrote at length about the supper and dance at the town hall with the Hovland string band (John Eliasen was known countywide for his fiddling), jig dancing, songs in Norwegian, and harmonica solos.
If you are in the Minneapolis area this Saturday, September 13, please join me at 6pm for the opening of Near and Far! It’s a group show presenting the work of six landscape painters—including my work (above).
The show’s curator, Carol Lee Chase, also asked me to include some of my Berlin video diaries aka Field Reports in the show. It will be the first time I’ve exhibited video work and I’m excited to have it viewed in this context.
For anyone who wasn’t around these parts in 2011, the Field Report consisted of me filming throughout the week, editing on Sundays and posting a video on Mondays. This lasted from January through the summer. The results were rough but real and that was a big part the project for me: film and edit with the equipment I had on hand, without getting too wound up about the perfection of the final product. It gave me a chance to experiment with a new way of documenting place in a format that was as layered as my paintings.
I spent the last couple of weeks trying to choose which videos to show and editing them together. The experience was intense—these videos really are a diary of a time and place for me. Below is video number four. You can see all of them here:
Show info is:
Catherine G Murphy Gallery, St Paul, MN
September 8–October 23, 2014
Opening reception September 13, 6–9pm
First, I am dying about this action shot of Metro trying to catch a fly. This was a two-night stay at the municipal campground in Grand Marais, a far cry from the more secluded sites at the state park, but it makes up for that by being located right on Lake Superior and in town, so you can walk everywhere.
The campground has two beaches. One is on the harbor, where the water was actually warm enough to swim in. On this evening, we took a little happy hour picnic down to the beach and let Metro have a swim.
The other beach is directly on the open water.
A little film-changing mishap on the beach left us with a light leak.
There was smoked fish for dinner one night from the Dockside Fish Market just up the road and a game of Scrabble that looks like it went late into the night, but really we were so tired that we didn’t last long after dark.
I managed to catch the worst cold I’ve had in years the day before we left for this trip and promptly passed it onto Anthony shortly after we got on the road. So here we are doing Tussin shots while eating the amazing mackerel fish and chips at the Dockside.
Our first stop on the Lake Superior shore was Gooseberry Falls State Park, where we got the last camping spot. Basically we parked the Scamp and fled for the water, which was just across the little dirt road, and went for a walk along the shore.
The park is best known for its waterfall, but I like its long piece of lakeshore with its combination of huge, smooth rock, grassy fields, and pebble beach.
Whenever we are on an excursion, Metro keeps a close eye on each of us to make sure the team doesn’t get separated.
Fish is a must on the menu when we are up here. Eating it outdoors, directly off the paper wrapper is my favorite.
It’s not apparent from these first two photos—our immediate impression of Superior looked more like Les Birds, above. This is how I remember this city—classic American old school bars, standing solo on dimly lit, empty streets. The last time I’d been to Superior was a late night trip across the high bridge from Duluth to hit the Anchor Bar, which neatly fits that description.
Superior reminded me of Berlin because it appears to be an off-the-beaten-path place to live, a place where rent is cheap because no one values the old unrenovated buildings. A place where interesting people—who want an affordable life rather than an address on the sanctioned list of creative cities—start to grow in numbers and form an interesting community.
Driving north on Tower Avenue, the Berlin similarities slowly revealed themselves as we moved backward in time towards the city’s old center and the waterfront. There are many buildings and areas in Superior that feel untouched by the decades between now and when they were built. No developer has gotten here yet to renovate these architectural gems and insert a high-paying chain into their storefronts. Instead, funny little shops and mom and pop businesses dominate. It has the texture and character that I associate with Berlin—and with an older, mostly lost America.
My caveat here is that the Berlin I refer to is arguably outdated in the sense that rents are not so cheap anymore, it is now at the top of the list of creative cities, and so many of the buildings and places that reminded me of what I saw in Superior are gone.
I’ve heard the question asked so many times as to where the next “Berlin” will be. I’m not sure that it will be Superior—although, hey, if Berlin can become an international destination despite its atrocious winters then why not Superior?
Do you live in Superior or know someone who does? I would love to hear from you in preparation for our next visit!
Finally it happened—we got the Scamp out into the world! Our destination was the north shore of Lake Superior, but we wanted an alternative route that avoided the interstate from Minneapolis to Duluth. This lead us to Wisconsin highway 35 through the western part of the state. It’s a quiet, two lane road through small towns, a relaxing drive that put us at Pattison State Park for the evening.
First stop was Marine-on-St Croix for a few supplemental supplies.
I spotted this general store sign from the road, so we turned back for a closer look.
Turns out that the metal siding and general store sign that we saw from the side was fronted by an old post office now filled with with stuff and not looking very used.
We got to the park late in the afternoon, set up camp, and went for a little walk down to the lake.
The round LED tail lights are a new addition. A small detail but much brighter and prettier than the old square lights.
Two lovely Scamp-related anniversary presents from our parents: enamelware dishes from my folks and travel journal from Anthony’s, which has the sweetest cover that I wish was visible here although I’m sure it will star in future photos.
Morning coffee in bed with the dog is the best. Not shown: getting woken up in the middle of the night each time one of moved because of the squeaky table top that supports the cushions. So that’s on the fix-it list plus a memory foam topper to even out the skimpy cushions.
There are two waterfalls in Pattison State Park, so we took a morning hike to the so-called Big Falls before heading out for the city of Superior, a short drive up the road.
There are many things that had to be left behind in the move from Berlin to Minneapolis. I assumed one would be the World Cup—but instead the US embrace the fun this year including watching the game outside, which is hands down one of the best things about the whole spectacle.
I was pleasantly surprised to find my fellow Americans putting on a “public viewing” as the Germans hilariously call it (they actually use the English words) in a fashion that any German would find completely respectable. And it was really fun to see the American spin on it—something to do with the atmosphere, just so warm and friendly.
Sadly, what Americans don’t know about (yet) is the amazingness of the grilled Wurst. Instead, all we got were these lame boiled dogs. BUT one thing you don’t get at the Biergarten? Tacos. It is a decidedly worthy tradeoff.
These photos were taken at the US/Germany game. Of course we were sad to see America’s eventual exit, but super excited about Germany and are just about to leave to watch the final. Go Deutschland!!!
Photos by Anthony Georgis for the Field Office
Most pie crust recipes are as simple as their list of ingredients. But in their simplicity, they leave out the important parts like keeping everything cold and/or assume that everyone has a food processor. I’ve tried to make pie crust a number of times and never gotten it right. Once a chef friend even gave me a private lesson, which definitely cleared up a lot of confusion about what it should look and feel like, but I still couldn’t replicate it on my own.
Then I saw this video on Slate, which goes through the process step-by-step. It gave me some confidence and inspired me to take this on as a summer challenge.
My first attempt was strawberry-rhubarb using the small but delicious rhubarb plant I got from my grandparents years ago. The second was strawberry-blueberry-raspberry and the third remains to be seen but I’m hoping to make one for tomorrow’s BBQ.
I really wanted to learn how to make the lattice top, which turned out to be crazy easy. YouTube really is the best.
And for the first time ever, I made a crust that had delicate, flaky layers. It’s still not perfect, but I think now I can get this thing down.
Another side project (but one that is much much less challenging) is making more ice cream in the machine we got for Christmas. I made a batch of vanilla to go with the pie. So good.
Happy Fourth to those of you celebrating!
We have some exciting news: we bought a Scamp!
A lot of Scamp stories start with mildew, rotting floor boards or some kind of hideous decor decisions that must be righted. Ours is not in bad shape—it’s actually pretty bland, so it’s a great blank slate project for adding some character and functionality.
First orders of business were a bath, removing the decals, and banishing that god-awful satellite dish holder on the back. We are hoping to take it on a lot of little exploratory trips this summer and some longer journeys in the near future so…more to come.