Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Hotdish, but not on a stick August 26, 2011

TYPICALLY MY POSTS focus on a single subject. But not today. I’m serving hotdish. And since the Minnesota State Fair opened Thursday, pretend it’s hotdish on a stick, which actually can be purchased, with cream of mushroom dipping sauce, from vendors Ole and Lena’s. Ja, sure, ya betcha.

This year you’ll also find, for the first time at the Great Minnesota Get Together, chocolate covered jalapeno peppers.

Now, you might think Minnesotans would hesitate to try jalapeno anything given our primarily Scandinavian and German taste buds. But I can tell you that two summers ago I found Dennis Gare pushing chocolate covered jalapenos at the Faribault Farmers’ Market and they were selling like lefse at a Norwegian dinner.

Dennis Gare's chocolate covered jalapenos, which I photographed two years ago.

At the time, Dennis told me the jalapenos were creating quite a buzz among customers and vendors. He’s one of those savvy marketing types who create atypical foods—like pickled eggs and horseradish—that will attract customers and increase sales.

I checked in with Dennis last Saturday and jokingly asked if he was the vendor peddling the chocolate covered jalapeno peppers at the State Fair. Nope. That would be Andre’s Watermelon. But he was a little worried about the fieriness of the over-sized jalapenos on a stick.

If you attend the State Fair and try a chocolate covered jalapeno pepper, submit a comment. I’d like to report back to Dennis down at the Faribault Farmers’ Market. Click here to read my July 20, 2009, post about Dennis’ jalapenos.

SINCE I’M ON THE SUBJECT of the State Fair, I need to give a shout-out to the new Princess Kay of the Milky Way, 18-year-old Mary Zahurones from Pierz, a community of about 1,300 north of St. Cloud in Morrison County and along Minnesota Highway 25, a main route to the Brainerd Lakes area.

The new princess had her head carved in a 90-pound block of butter at the fair yesterday.

Anyway, I know a little about the princess’ hometown of Pierz. My husband graduated from Pierz Healy High School in, well, let’s just say a long, long, long time ago. The new princess graduated from my spouse’s alma mater several months ago, and you’ll find her princess photo proudly showcased on the District 484 website home page.

Two other interesting tidbits about Pierz: The town was originally called Rich Prairie, but was renamed after a Catholic priest, Father Francis Xavier Pierz. He is recognized as “The Father of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud,” having settled in central Minnesota in 1852 as a missionary to Native Americans and having attracted many German Catholic immigrants to the area. You’ll find a statue of the good Father in a Pierz park, moved there last year from the St. Cloud Hospital.

Secondly, if you like bologna, and I don’t, but apparently central Minnesotans do, you can check out Bologna Days every Wednesday at the Red Rooster Bar & Grill in Genola (just south of Pierz) or every Thursday at Patrick’s Bar & Grill in Pierz. Really. This information is listed in the F.A.Q.’s section of the city website and, no bologna, I have seen a Bologna Days sign with my very own eyes.

Magnetic Catholic: St. Francis of Assisi

AS LONG AS WE’RE TALKING Catholic here, even though I’m Lutheran, I simply must point you to the “Magnetic Catholic” paper (well, not really paper) dolls which I first learned about from a Michigan writer on her blog, House Unseen. Click here to read that post and then click here to see the Magnetic Catholic Etsy shop.

I swear—oops, probably shouldn’t be swearing—you’ll have your socks charmed right off you by the likes of the Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Francis of Assisi and the Blessed Pope John Paul II.

ONE MORE THING, totally unrelated to Catholics, dairy princesses, or anything on a stick.

But, apparently the latest trend among hip, young Minneapolitans is to carry iced coffee or similar drinks around in a (Mason/Ball/Kerr) pint canning jar.

I learned this from my eldest, who drove down to Faribault Thursday evening so her personal mechanic/Dad could check her car. After we gathered home-grown tomatoes, flowers and a few other niceties for her to take back home to south Minneapolis, she asked if I had any canning jars.

A hip canning jar.

I know my daughter well enough to realize she didn’t need them for canning. Heck, I don’t even can.

So we traipsed down to the basement and poked around until we found two pint jars, rings and lids. She was one happy Uptowner.

SO THERE, I HOPE YOU enjoyed your serving of hotdish. Mighty tasty, huh?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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11 Responses to “Hotdish, but not on a stick”

  1. Bernie Says:

    I have never had hotdish on a stick. Wonder what kind they use.
    Roy’s brother is a big Jalapeno lover. Anything and everything he can put Jalapeno’s in he does. *shudder* From corn bread to cranberry sauce. Not good, trust me on this. Don’t rush out and make a batch.

    Oh, I just love her little St.’s series. I’m half tempted to ask her to make a St. Bernadette one. She has all the cool and happening and well known Saints. My poor little namesake is missing from the fold.

    Mason jars to drink iced coffee.Huh. Who knew? Glad you could hook her up.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I cannot believe I failed to mention the type of hotdish served on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair. That would be, ta-da, none other than tater tot hotdish.

      Ew, jalapenos in cranberry sauce. When we were visiting our daughter in Wisconsin recently, her Hispanic neighbors invited us to try some hot peppers they were growing in pots on the patio. Big mistake. I sliced off a snippet of one, put it in my mouth and promptly spit it out. I like spicy, but not burn my mouth spicy.

      As for the “drink your coffee from a canning jar” trend…I love to hear about all these new metropolitan fads and then oblige my daughter by passing along something vintage. Seems she is also borrowing a few of my vintage tablecloths, which I don’t mind, since I have a plentiful collection.

  2. Well, you know I like me some hotdish!

    And so glad you liked the magnetic dolls as much as I did. They’re just so stinkin’ clever!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Well, then get thyself to the Great Minnesota Get Together for tater tot hotdish on a stick.

      Thanks for recommending those magnetic dolls. They are fab, even for a non-Catholic.

  3. Rosie Says:

    Kind of a random post today, but very interesting. We may have to road trip to Genola for bologna days. I haven’t been to the Red Rooster in at least 10 years. Care to join me? Too bad this wasn’t posted prior to school starting so we could truck up there on a random Wed. I’m sure Caleb is anxious to go!

    Let Amber know if she needs more canning jars to just e-mail or face book me and I can provide more jars!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You’re right in that this was a random post. I had a few things on my mind, but individually they didn’t seem strong enough to stand alone. So I wove them together.

      I might accompany you on a road trip to Buckman for mouse heads. But bologna? No.

      The thought already passed through my mind that maybe I could snap up a bunch of canning jars at yard sales, scrub them, package them nicely and sell them at a major mark-up in the metro. What do you think?

      • Rosie Says:

        Nice idea, she could have a little display at the local coffee shop or restauraunt. You best hurry before it gets cold!

  4. Good morning, I am nominating you for Versatile Blogger, if you choose to accept the award you can find the details here: http://maryannsteiner.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you so much for the nomination and for following Minnesota Prairie Roots. I appreciate readers like you who value the stories and photos I share from Minnesota (and sometimes Wisconsin). This blogging journey has led me to so many interesting people, places and events. I love sharing my discoveries with readers.

  5. Those jalapenos look good! And yes, the magnetic catholic is adorable!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I eventually tried the chocolate covered jalapenos and they weren’t too bad. How’s that for a Minnesota evaluation? The chocolate cuts the burning bite of the peppers.

      And, yes, you just have to love those Magnetic Catholics.


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