The Key to Longevity: Bacon or Resilience? (A Tribute to Grandma Gladys)

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Pearl Cantrell is a 105-year-old Texas woman who credits bacon as the key to longevity. Yes. Bacon. She says she loves it and eats it every day, in fact. (See this article in the Huffington Post.) Without knowing Pearl at all, I would say she might get along with (the much younger) Marilyn Hagerty quite well. Okay, I don’t know Hagerty that well, but they both seem like happy-go-lucky women who have some sort of fame by association with food. (Too simple of a comparison?) Well, I happen to think that the pork-impassioned senior would also get along with my Grandma Gladys.

Here’s Grandma Gladys with one of her friends in Florida.

My Grandma Gladys is a 92-year-old spirited soul. She has spent the last how-ever-many years as a snowbird, traveling to Florida in the winter and spending her summers in Minnesota. Grandma Gladys loves her sunshine and sand. She also loves spending time with friends and family. And when she’s alone, she loves to play solitaire, do the crossword or simply take a nap. (Any computer savvy senior males out there? *Cough* *Cough* This is her dating ad, too.)

So, why bring up Grandma Gladys in ramblings apparently linked to longevity? She hasn’t been around for a century, yet. 92 isn’t that old, is it? And she does love bacon (who doesn’t), but she doesn’t eat it every day.

Mmmm. Bacon.

Grandma Gladys comes into play because I’ll be shocked if she dies before she hits 105. And bacon certainly isn’t the reason why. Grandma Gladys has this ability to find happiness in life no matter what. She’s resilient. That’s the magic ingredient for her longevity.

Grandma Gladys has been through it all. Let me list off just a few of the trials she’s faced:

  • The Great Depression
  • Loss of both of her parents before the age of 12
  • Loss of the love of her life two decades ago
  • Loss of a child to disease just four months after the death of her husband, my grandfather
  • Severe Colon Cancer with a 20 percent chance of survival
  • Macular Degeneration (and that other whole list of issues that happens as people age)

Through all of that, Grandma Gladys is still the life of the party at age 92. There’s no doubt this woman is strong and resilient. You could talk to anyone in my family and they’ll tell you that Grandma Gladys is a spit-fire of an elderly woman. Frail and weak are not words that come to mind. Grandma Gladys is a dirty joke telling, rump shaking, poker playing lady and she brings light to any room she steps in.

So, excuse me Pearl Cantrell… but I don’t really think it’s the bacon keeping you alive. Perhaps it’s the fact that bacon is a piece of your happiness and you indulge in that happiness every day? That, and I’m sure just like Gladys, you’ve been through it all.

CHEERS!

Raise your glass to Grandma Gladys!

A few side notes about Grandma Gladys that are worthy of mentioning…

Grandma Gladys was raised in North Dakota. She remembers living on a ten acre farm where the Maple and Sheyenne Rivers join. She attended a small, one-room schoolhouse. It was there, in first grade, when she was forced to memorize this poem:

When you’re born in North Dakota,

It makes you bigger, broader, better.

Makes you know the worth of toil,

Makes you free as are her prairies,

And noble as her soil.

Also, Grandma Gladys’ great uncle, Alfred Selstedt, founded the first Lutheran church in the state of North Dakota. I believe the Maple-Sheyenne Lutheran Church still stands today. It’s also where Grandma Gladys’ parents are buried.

 

Fuji: Just What Grand Forks Needed

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As a major fanatic of Asian cuisine, I was excited to hear about the addition of Fuji to Grand Forks. Not quite as excited as I was for the Drunken Noodle (which by the way opens today), but I love Teppanyaki style restaurants. I know of no other offering like Fuji in the greater Grand Forks region – correct me if I’m wrong.

For those of you who are not familiar with Teppanyaki, it is a style of Japanese cuisine that is cooked on an iron griddle. The flavor of the food, of course, is not to be outdone by the humor and talent of the chef. But, a close competition between the two is nice.

I went to Fuji for lunch. This is a great time to go if you want the same show and portion of food for less money. But, from my experience at other Teppanyaki restaurants the nighttime atmosphere can’t be beat. It’s great for celebrations.

One of the nice things I noticed about Fuji right off the bat is that you can choose to sit at one of the grills, or you can have a nice quiet business lunch or intimate dinner alone in a booth. Be warned – if you choose Teppanyaki and you don’t have a full table you WILL be seated with strangers… so bring a sense of humor and leave the cold shoulder at home.

Now because I went to Fuji for lunch, I didn’t get to sample the wide array of Sake and wine the restaurant has to offer so that will be another day. However, I was extremely pleased with the food and the presentation. Even for lunch, you get a full course meal including soup, grilled vegetables, the best fried rice I’ve found in North Dakota and meat of your choice. (You can also choose to have noodles or upgrade your meat for a small price.) I tasted chicken, steak and scallops. Both the chicken and steak were cooked perfectly and I appreciated the flavor of the meats. I think often times meat can be over-seasoned, but this was not the case at Fuji. And the scallops!!! I’m not a big scallop fan, generally because they are so easy to overcook and can taste rubbery. But, the chefs at Fuji cook a scallop just right. The texture and the flavor were perfect. And don’t forget the yummy sauce. I think every Teppanyaki restaurant I’ve been to calls this light pink sauce either yummy sauce or yum yum sauce. Once you taste it, you’ll know why. I’ve been told it’s some kind of shrimp sauce… I don’t care what it is, take my advice and put it on everything. The portions are huge too! I ate until I was full and still had a whole box of leftovers, which I didn’t mind. Go hungry.

The cook at my grill had a very dry sense of humor and it was kind of like watching a Disney or Pixar film geared toward adults. He would say things that would fly right over a child’s head or in one ear and out the other, but would definitely catch the attention of adults and make you laugh. (I’ll spare you the details… I’m guessing they use a lot of their jokes over again?) But, I will say that I caught a piece of broccoli in my mouth that he flipped up into the air. It only took two tries. Annnnd he sprayed me in the face with water.

Overall I give Fuji two thumbs up and five stars. I hope the restaurant can continue the same quality and service it provided upon opening. Also, Drunken Noodle will have to work hard to make its “Teppanyaki Platter” dish anything but standard. I’m excited to visit Fuji again to have the opportunity to try the sushi and Sake. (I’ve heard the sushi is excellent… it was all the talk with the ladies at the gym today.)

 

Knoephla Gonna Make it as a Chef!

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I come from a big family of cooks. We’ve never been big on baking, but when it comes to any hearty, home cooked meal you better step off. We’re the type to learn how to cook from watching, smelling and tasting. We don’t follow recipes and we don’t measure anything. So, when one of my friends suggested we make Knoephla I figured I’d be decent at this soupy kitchen endeavor.  Granted, I had to ask her what Knoephla was because I had never heard of it. (Knoephla – pronounced “Neff-lah” – is apparently fairly common in Minnesota and the Dakotas.)

After at least a week of talking about making Knoephla Soup, my friend Ashley and I finally found the time. She trucked over all the supplies needed and we were ready to cook! It quickly became clear that this wasn’t Ashley’s first time cooking Knoephla Soup and she had a system that I was not a part of. Let’s just say that the next 15 minutes of my life, I witnessed the most anal-retentive vegetable slicing I’ve ever seen. The slow, meticulous motion of the knife in her hand inspired me to crack open my first Empyrean Dark Side Vanilla Porter of the night.

The next thing I know, the slicing was done and so was my first porter. I was anxious to move on to whatever the next step was, so maybe I could be included. Ashley started chopping the vegetable slices into a skillet. Ugh. More cutting of the vegetables. I cracked open my second porter. Halfway through cubing the carrot slices, Ashley let me know that I could help. I think she wanted me to do something besides sit on the counter, sip porter and stare at the process. So, I began cubing the impeccable, symmetrically sliced potatoes. On the 7th Inning Stretch of potato chopping, I glanced over to the cutting board and saw endless slices of onions glaring at me. That was the exact moment that I regretted never buying a Slap Chop from the Sham Wow guy. You know, the one that was arrested for beating a prostitute. I heard him in my head… “Onions. They makin’ you cry, they makin’ me cry… I don’t wanna cry anymore.” What I would give at that very moment for a cylindrical mechanism to chop masses of veggies with a few swift slaps of the hand. Not to mention the plastic safeguard that doubles as an onion scent barrier.

 

Then, boom! Out of nowhere, Ashley morphed into a human Slap Chop. She had me stunned with her master method of onion cutting. She held on to the round onion slices and as she spun them in a counter clockwise motion with the left hand, she cubed with the right. There were no pauses. Then, she busted out this random bit of cooking knowledge… “You know, if you’re cooking with onions you shouldn’t wash your hands with warm water.” Again, I’m stunned. “What?” I asked. “If you wash your hands with warm water, the onion scent seeps into your skin. Same with garlic,” she said as she shrugged like this was widely known information. I called her B.S., but as soon as I tried it, I knew she was right. My hands smelled like potatoes. Owned in the kitchen again.

The next 15, 20, 30 or so minutes Ashley explained that this is a hearty, Minnesota style soup, that it’s not like bird food and it’s not for those counting calories because it’s made with heavy whipping cream. I was just sipping my precious porter and trying not to eat all the veggies sautéing in butter in the skillet. To distract myself from the succulent smells of the veggie medley, I started cleaning dirty dishes and loading them in the dishwasher. I turned around and Bam! There’s dough in a bowl and Ashley was already making the Knoephla of the Knoephla Soup. I didn’t know where the dough came from or what she did to make it so fast, but I did know that it was my kind of dough. It required no touching. You could just spoon a dollop of dough and plop it in boiling water. Any dough you don’t have to touch with your hands is good dough in my book.

The rest of the Knoephla Soup came together in a snap. Ashley guesstimated the amount of chicken broth and cream to pull everything together. I sipped porter. Then, we let the soup simmer overnight in the crock pot. The real test came the next day. How does it taste? When I took the cover off the crock pot, the scent of the soup invaded my nostrils. So good. When I tasted it… even better. I don’t think I’m allowed to share the initial words that came out of my mouth. The combination of the creamy chicken broth with starches and delicious vegetables tickled my taste buds with such savory flavors. At that very moment I decided I’d be making Knoephla Soup again. Or I suppose it would be for the first time… and I would need Ashley… and then I guess I wouldn’t really be making Knoephla Soup, would I? Oh, muff.

McRib… McNasty?

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In my entire existence on this earth, I had never tasted a McRib.  Apparently the now sought-after sammie was a McD’s menu staple from the mid 90’s until 2005. Honestly, this is the first year I’ve ever noticed the social upheaval following a limited release of a pressed “pork” patty on a soggy, sauce-soaked roll. But because of the cult-like chase for the sandwich, I decided to give the hero a chance.

As I made my way to the fast food joint, I couldn’t help but get this overwhelming sense of embarrassment. I’d compare the feeling to the commonly known “walk of shame” among college students. Except I was in my car. And it was dinner time. And I had consumed no alcohol. Any time I go to Mickey D’s I feel that way, but this was worse. I almost wished I had a mask to hide my shame. When you order a McRib during the promotional period, you’re automatically grouped with the cult. Heck… when you roll up to the McD’s drive-through window during the McRib manhunt you become part of the cult.

Shamefully, I ordered the McRib with no ribs. (Some say it’s pork shoulder, but discrepancy reports say it’s anything from a pig heart and stomach medley to the ingredients most commonly found in yoga mats. Yum. Had I known this before I placed my order, I’d still eat it.) Even though I wasn’t that hungry, I did contemplate adding on a second sammie for just a buck. But why get two when I haven’t even tried one yet?  I pulled forward to pay for the “pork” patty and on a whim, curiously questioned the cashier. “So… are a lot of people here for the McRib?” She smirked like she was pumped to hammer a few pork sammies post-shift and said, “Heh, yeah. Like every car.” Apparently I should have already known that tid-bit of info. I rolled up to the second window to get the gold and asked that lady if it was good. She didn’t seem too impressed, but reiterated the fact that EVERYONE was getting it.

I made my way back to the newsroom to try the tainted tycoon between the 6 and 10pm newscasts. (Yes, I ate BBQ in work clothes.) The immediate responses among my co-workers were mixed. Pat Sweeney said, “Ohhh you can’t bring food like that in here.” He was jealous. Charley Johnson said, “Eh. I call it the McGristle. IT DOESN’T HAVE ANY BONES!” And Chris Regimbal told me to take off the pickles. I chose to eat it as is.

That thing to the right of the onion-speckled pickle... is NOT a pickle.

The first bite required one whole napkin. Thank you Mickey for only providing me with two. (Or maybe it’s Ronald’s fault?) Just getting the flattened, saucy, edible yoga mat out of the box painted me with BBQ. Sauce was on my knuckles and in my hair. After the second bite, I inspected the mincemeat. Gray in color, but I have to admit the painted on grill lines made the non-rib, rib sandwich look legit.  The rest of the McNasty went down just fine.

Overall I’d say it’s overrated. But, for me it was all about the experience. How can I rag on the cult following if I’ve never even tasted the “McGristle?” How can I take advice from a Facebook group called “The McRib Is BACK!!” if I don’t try it myself? (And what does one brazillion pounds of tastyness actually taste like? Click the link… it really says bra-zillion… and tastYness… gag.) If I’m going to succumb to the “walk of shame” and go to McD’s, it’s not going to be for a McRib. Even if it’s only here for a LIMITED TIME! For 500 calories, 26 grams of fat and 41 percent of my daily value of sodium in one sandwich (if you can call it that), I’ll skip the McHeartAttack.

Get yours now. It’s only here until November 14th.

Ralphing for the First Time

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Even the day before I Ralphed my stomach was bubbling. If I had the chance do it over again I would have made it to the throne sooner. No one wants to miss the target. But, with a lack of planning, I was forced to rush. And, with every step closer, the throne seemed to be farther away. My palms were sweating because I was trying to make it just in time. Right when I was about to Ralph, I knew I was too late.

But despite being late to the throne… the “Taj Mahal”… THE Ralph… it was totally worth it. And I’d do it again. Just walking through the doors made me feel part of the tough, don’t-take-no-crap-from-no-one community. Almost like I was entitled to glide across the speckled marble floors with a hitch in my skate and no one could touch me.  And that’s how it is for everyone there. Because that’s what gives the Fighting Sioux hockey team that “edge” Ralph wanted. Like I could do Hardcore Parkour all the way around the concourse and no one would care. Like I could do Hardcore Parkour and all the other fans would join.

Because I was Ralphing for the first time, I decided to do it up traditional style. I went with Honeyweiss and a hot dog. I quickly learned that traditional style at THE Ralph is anything but boring. The Honeyweiss hit my taste buds like liquid gold. And the hot dog? I’m sure you already know. A hot dog at THE Ralph is Almas Beluga caviar in London… only $40,000 cheaper. Truly unrivaled.

As I enjoyed my liquid gold and caviar, I was enamored by the atmosphere surrounding the ice. Pure Fandom. The woman next to me was on the edge of her seat watching every move the players made. At one point, she leaned over and asked, “The Fan Pics are between the second and third period, right?” I told her I didn’t know, that this was my first Sioux hockey game. She was shocked. I quickly explained that I had only been here for a few months. So really, that’s pretty good, right? Well, lets just say that I opened the door for the wrath of Fandom. Here’s a list of things I learned within the next few minutes:

  • Said woman has a Fighting Sioux bedspread, sheets included. (I saw picture proof.)
  • She also has a FIghting Sioux light switch plate. (Again, picture proof.)
  • And a decked out Fighting Sioux sled with hockey stick wipers. (No?! …picture proof.)
  • And at least ten jersey Fighting Sioux headbands.
  • And a Fighting Sioux sticker on her car. (Maybe some flags, too?)
  • When the Fighting Sioux plays the Gophers… fans throw dead gophers on the ice.
  • Same with the Badgers.
  • When there’s one minute left in the game, the announcer will tell you. You say, “Thank You.” He says, “You’re Welcome.”
  • The slushy margarita-type things on the first floor are totally worth it.
  • You only need two.
Needless to say, I’m sad to say that it took a whole decade of the Crown Jewel’s existence for me to make it. There’s something about the plush emerald and cherry wood seats, the cold, bubbly beer and the fireworks when the Sioux score. The pitch of the pep band, the smell of the hot dog haven and the crisp, fresh display screens. I’d Ralph every day if I could.

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me…

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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Me…

(But my brothers probably know it all.)

1. I fell out of a moving vehicle on Highway 55 near Minneapolis when I was about 2 1/2.

2. When I got my first “letter grade” report card in middle school I jumped for joy and told my family, “I got an A!!” …My brother later pointed out that it was my middle initial… (Thorvilson, Molly A.)

3. Before football season even started, I accidentally dropped one of my best Fantasy draft picks on the first day I owned an iPhone with one clumsy touch.

4. I donate to a different charity or cause every year. This year it’s whatever charity Finnegans decides to give its proceeds to. (…and Minot.)

5. I am allergic to my own eye protein.

6. The expression “don’t trump your partner” was coined in my honor.

7. I have beached a jetski by accident.

8. I got lost in “chest high freshies” in the Montana mountains with my brothers on a snowboarding trip. I was the only one to be rescued by a snowmobile tour and brought back to the summit. I was also the only one that cried.

9. I am extremely picky about the way I eat fruit.

10. I’ve written several blogs and haven’t thought they were worthy enough to publish.

New in North Dakota…

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Even though I’ve officially been a resident in North Dakota for a little longer than three months now, I consider myself new to the state.

I’ve attempted to explore a bit, but there’s no better way to learn about a place and its people than experience. In my three months of “experience” in North Dakota, I am happy to say that I like what I see:  beautiful nature, pride among residents and the people themselves.

I recently went on a little road trip with my good friend Ashley… or “WDAZ’s Ashley McMillan” as some of you know her. She showed me around Bismarck and was a wonderful host. Here are just a few pics from our trip…

Ashley and I posing at the Dakota Zoo

 

We did see refugee animals at the Dakota Zoo from Minot… and there were still sandbags at this zoo as well.

 

 

 

Who can resist a jumping photo op?

 

…We got this one on the first try…

 

 

 

 

Bismarck Flooding

 

I would like to go back when the river is inside the banks so I can see what it normally looks like…

 

 

"Thor Thorvalsen"

 

 

 

The closest representation of my family name that I could find at the All Veterans Memorial on the Capitol lawn… A World War I veteran.

 

 

Capitol Steps

 

 

 

Another jumping opportunity we couldn’t resist. It’s just more fun that way.

 

 

 

By the way… I’d love some suggestions on where to go and what I “need” to see!

Tired Over the Restless Fighting Sioux Debate?

Many people have been either happy and/or complaining about today’s news. It got me thinking…

 

 

 

 

 

5 “peoples” that are probably tired of the Fighting Sioux controversy…

Frank Black Cloud, Archie Fool Bear & Friends
- Physically. They were marching all over the state to get more than the required 13,500 signatures to reinstate the name.
The Announcer at UND Hockey Games
- Mentally. Ah! What do I say tonight? UND or Fighting Sioux?! “University of North Dakota Fighting Sssss… errrr…. UND Men’s Hockey team…. Scoooorrrinnnngggg…”
The NCAA
- Institutionally. If the school is following a state law, do we still pull teams from the conference?
Reporters all over the state
- Emotionally. Another round of the biggest story of (at least) the decade and another round of people telling you they’re tired of hearing about it. We can not ignore this stuff.
UND President Kelley
- Mentally. Don’t shoot the messenger.
(Bonus person of mention on this list:  Darryl Danielson per his comments on Facebook:  “I am GLAD to see it back, but then I am also so tired of this fight over it.” …We appreciate the input, Darryl!)
One group of “peoples” that probably aren’t tired…
UND / Fighting Sioux fans
- Either way they cheer for the same players in their respective sports. Either way they wear their Fighting Sioux gear. Either way they cheer for the land of the free and the home of the Sioux.
My question to you is… If the nickname dies, do the “Fighting Sioux” really die?