All posts by bfort1126

A Homecook’s Secret Weapons

Many may be entering in to a moment of cooking fatigue after a year of lockdowns and limited access to restaurants, however many are also invigorated by the revolution that eating at home is enjoyable. Here are five secret weapons this homecook uses to make life easier while raising a family in no particular order.

  1. Homemade Stocks and Broths
Homemade Chicken Stock

Using whole and homemade ingredients gives us all the homestead vibes. It adds flavor and texture to dishes. And an added benefit is it reduces food waste. Making these elements from scratch allows the cook to know exactly what is going into their food and the ability to adjust based on preference or health need. To make this broth I didn’t measure anything as I have been doing this for 15 years and just know what to do. But it I just add the bones from a whole roasted chicken, a yellow onion, a bulb of garlic, 3 ribs of celery, 3 carrots, salt and pepper, then covered with water. I brought that to a boil then reduced to simmer and let cook for 3-4 hours before cooling and straining flavor elements from the broth.

2. Preparation

Homecooks prepare their ingredients and display them beautifully making easier and more appealing to use when it is time to make the next meal. From washed and ready to serve greens to a mason jar with fresh parsley to a table that is dressed with a table and fresh flowers homecooks love to set a feeling to everything which make the tasks of feeding yourself, friends, or family more desirable.

3. Flavorful Elements

Yellow and red onions, garlic, and red bell pepper

Aromatics deepen the flavor of any dish that you make. Onion, garlic, and pepper are commonly used in most cuisines these add an additional punch of flavor to any dish. Many of these flavor enhancers can store for awhile on your counter which make them easy to keep on hand.

4. Quick Pickles

My personal favorite quick pickle is pickled red onions. To make I chop a red onion and place it in a jar with fresh cracked black pepper. Then in a saucepan I add 1 cup water, 3/4 distilled white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt (sometimes I use a little less than that) and bring to a boil. I pour that over the red onion in the mason jar and let cool before placing in the refrigerator when that stays good for at a month. This not only adds deep flavor it provides needed acidity to any dish.

5. Fresh Herbs

Basil grown from seed that will be going into my herb garden soon

An easy way that homecooks bring freshness and the homestead vibe to their dishes is by incorporating fresh herbs into the meals they are making. Fresh herbs can be expensive if adding them to your grocery budget weekly. So keeping a small garden with herbs is fully easy and can be maintained yearly if you have window stall in your home. The pop of color and freshness herbs bring to dishes makes them a winner in my book.

A Proud Minnesotan

I’m a fifth generation Minnesotan. My dad’s family immigrated to Minnesota from Northern and Eastern Europe in the 1800s. My great great grandparents established an urban homestead. They grew their own food and lived within walking distance of downtown St. Paul the state’s capital. My grandparents and parents continued the family tradition of growing and preserving our food, despite living in the post-war era nor living in St. Paul anymore. I have been lucky often to continue to be taught this valuable skills from my family.

My sister’s and I with the Easter bunny in St. Paul circa 1996.

I grow up in during my youngest years in St. Paul off Rice Street. Being able to participate in Rice Rec events and the Rice Street Parade were some of my fondest memories.

I was able to see the Mall of America be built. We were lucky enough to spend time at Camp Snoopy. And I grew up watching my favorite movie franchise filmed here as well… The Mighty Ducks.

Duluth, MN

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes so growing up I spent lots of time at our family cabin or at friend’s cabins. We would go fishing a lot. I would go jet skiing and wakeboarding. In the winter would go to neighborhood ponds to ice skate. Or go ice fishing on the lake.

I have developed a great connection to this state I call home for all these reasons. However, as I’ve gotten older I realize all the amazing benefits of living in Minnesota. Like the incredible access to healthcare and choice we have here. The expanded medicaid services that are offered within our state to support those with chronic medical condition. I have experienced the benefits of these programs after having my oldest daughter who is medically complex.

This past year has been another testament to the fondest I have for this state. Though not always favorable our state has shown great leadership throughout this pandemic. And with that it was announced today that the state will be expanding its vaccination qualification to all adults over the age of sixteen on Tuesday March 30, 2021. This is far ahead of schedule because at the beginning of the vaccination campaign it was estimated that having all adults of 16 in Minnesota be able to qualify for vaccination it would take until at least the end of the summer 2021. This is big deal and an important step for our state.

This is all to say I am a Proud Minnesotan born and raised!

I’m Not The First To Say This But “It’s Been A Year”

March 16, 2020 was the last day I worked at the restaurant I was serving at. I didn’t know if I would be able to go back to working in this environment since I am the parent of an immunosuppressed child. Like most people I was unsure of what was to come. Unlike most people I knew that things were going to be different for a while.

How did I know everything was going to change?

As I stated previously I am the parent of an immunosuppressed child; I am also a health science major. So I had some inside perspective into medical phenomenon, knowing there was rather contagious novel virus that has made its way around the world… let’s say I had a feeling we were in for a new normal.

Our distance learning set-up

We rearranged our lives and adapted to being at home for almost everything.

After a year of this we our now having to relearn how to interact and have the opportunity to emerge from our daily comforts of home. Some now able to be around in groups maskless if vaccinated. This will be a slow re-entry for many after so much restriction and caution from this invisible enemy.

Hopefully, some of what we learned in this time will stick with us and hopefully we remember the impacts we make on each other after this year on unknowns and emerging science.

Gen Z You Can’t Cancel Eminem

Cancel culture is the “thing” right now I’m actually ok with that because to me it’s a form of natural consequences that are necessary in our changing and ever more inclusive society. I also think that language or even imagery that maybe inappropriate in most settings isn’t inappropriate in others like within the arts. Eminem isn’t only a rap artist he is a lyricist. He employs incredible skill in the way in which he utilizes language within his works.

“I won’t stop even when my hair turns grey (I’m tone-deaf) / ‘Cause they won’t stop until they cancel me” – Eminem “Tone Deaf”

“Tone Deaf” by Eminem

The utilization of irony within this new song Em just released is frankly so extremely obvious as Eminem is clearly not tone deaf. He has become an expert at utilizing the public discourse and highlighting what’s most controversial at the time. This is how Eminem has built his brand. Haters have always driven Em to greater creativity and expended his fan base.

So if you must continue your effort to cancel Em but it will result as wasted energy and an expanded net worth to Marshal Mathers empire.

When Everything Changes…

One day you are excited and everything is perfect all is right in the world. Then, that 10 minute procedure turns into 1 hour and you get escorted into a different room. You know something is wrong but no one tells you what’s going on, all you see is the box of tissues next to you.

Finally, the provider comes in to inform you that your child’s heart didn’t develop properly. Your whole world stops, fear consumes you, all logic is gone, and the grieving starts. It’s not that you lost your baby but you have lost a healthy baby the one thing all expecting parents say “as long as they are healthy that’s all we can ask for” now that’s gone. Your child’s heart is not what it’s suppose to be and not only that the doctors cannot tell you the extent to which is going to effect your child. All they can say is we are sorry and the baby will need surgery at some point before they are one year’s old.

They show you what a normal heart is suppose to look like and what your child’s will look like.

This is a complete shock to system but it is just the beginning because now you are a parent. If you were like me you’re a first time parent as well, in complete terror of what’s ahead. Will you get to take your baby home? How long will in be in the hospital? How can you keep working? We all think of these questions.

We were able to bring home our daughter after 4 days in the NICU. At 5 weeks old she would need to go to the hospital for some advanced imaging of her heart to she when she would need surgery. We went to this appointment everything went fine and she was brought to the recovery room. She did well for awhile so they were going to send her home. During time the time they were preparing to send her home she stopped breathing. We called for help and the nurses called a code blue on her. There were so many people that came into the room. They also had to have her imaging looked at right away.

We were to told that our little girl would need surgery right away.

And so it hit me the reality or being a heart parent. It was just the beginning.

My daughter 5 weeks old after having a BT shunt placed.

This is when everything changes.

What everyone should do when they get or renew their license… Become an organ donor.

My stance is that everyone should be an organ donor. You can visit this website to find out more information.

My Oldest daughter awaiting her heart transplant in 2011

This is somewhat selfish of me because my dad and my oldest daughter are alive today because of an organ donor. Organ donation is doesn’t also mean that your organs will be given a second life but the can be used to tell a story as well. If there isn’t a match or a particular organ isn’t healthy enough your organ’s can be used by scientist which can be equally beneficial as it gives scientist a better look into what is going on within the human body. I know that many people think that if you are an organ donor that doctor’s will do less to save you and that simply isn’t true. Doctors don’t even know that you are an organ donor until you are dead and then at that point they can look and see if you are an organ donor.

Here is more information on becoming an organ donor!

I was always an organ donor because I just thought it was the right thing to do. In 2011 when my oldest daughter was a year old she went into heart failure organ donation became personal. My daughter was list as 1A (highest priority) on the heart transplant list in February 2011. And in May 2011 my daughter Josie received a heart. We would come to find out the heart came from a 6 month old triplet boy who died of SIDS.