MN Masala: The State Fair Baking Competition

Jane and Chux

By Jane and Chux: The time had come.  This was the year I was going to enter a food competition at the Minnesota State Fair!

I had wanted to compete at this event for over 20 years but never had the time.  The Minnesota State Fair is THE SUMMER EVENT and is beloved by many Minnesotans.  It is one of the largest fairs in the United States and for 12 days, at the end of summer, the fairgrounds become a town within St. Paul with over 100,000 visitors per day.

The fair is mainly about comforting traditions with minor additions every year: the butter sculptures of the Dairy Queen and her entourage; quilts, canning and baked goods in the Creative Activities center; cow barn and piglet birthing center; and greasy food galore!  It’s always the same, just the names are different.  And we LOVE IT! Continue reading

Do you have a tattoo?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: I do not have a tattoo, and will not be getting one. EVER. There are several reasons for this:

  • I do not like making commitments, to anyone or anything. (How I’ve managed to stay married for 19 years is a mystery to me and most who know me.)
  • Tattoos involve needles. I do not like needles. I especially do not like needles anywhere near me.
  • I would never be able to decide on a design.
  • It requires needles.
  • My mom always said tattoos are trashy.
  • Needles.
  • If I want to flaunt my appreciation of a rock band, I can buy a tshirt.
  • Big, sharp, painful needles.
  • Skin sags. Tattoos on sagging skin are not attractive. (Don’t believe me? Google “old people with tattoos.”)
  • Big, sharp, painful needles filled with ink, being repeatedly jammed into my skin.
  • I am already fashion impaired. Having to coordinate my outfit with a tattoo would drive me over the edge.

Would I get a tattoo if needles didn’t bother me? I doubt it. The permanency of the tattoo would still be the sticking point. I like the option of being able to change my mind.

Do you have a tattoo?
Why or why not?
If you have a tattoo, do you regret it?

Can tennis change the world?

By Cindy Moy: Every Saturday, the courts at the local tennis center are filled with hundreds of children, including my daughter, BaoBao, practicing tennis drills as part of the Inner City Tennis Program (ICT).

These children, ages 5 to 18, come from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. They run around and swing randomly at tennis balls and have fun. They don’t seem to know that they are not supposed to get along.

The bleachers are filled with parents of every ethnic and socio-economic background. We watch our kids, and chat with each other, and compare notes on our latest parenting challenges.

We know that colors and demographics can divide us.
We hope that it will not be this way forever. Continue reading

Do all faiths have missionaries?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Our church recently welcomed back a young man who, along with his new wife, has been serving as a missionary in Africa. The son of another church family is a missionary in the Middle East.

Discussions about these two young men made me wonder whether other religions have missionaries as well. I’ve opened my front door to find Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Baptists, all come to spread the Christian word.

I’ve never opened my door and found, say, a Buddhist.

It turns out that the Buddha did send forth his first disciples to spread the word, telling them to “Go ye forth for the good of the many, for the welfare of the many, out of compassion for the world. Let no two of you go in the same direction, teach the Dhamma that is beautiful in the beginning, middle and end, expound both the spirit and the letter of the holy life completely fulfilled, perfectly pure. There are beings with but little dust in their eyes, who not hearing the Dhamma will decline but who, if they do hear it will grow.Continue reading

Is single parenting unique to America?

Cindy Moy

By Cindy Moy: Parenting is difficult. The hours are long, the temper tantrums (mine and theirs) are frequent, and if we do our job correctly, our children leave our care and make their own way in the world. I can’t imagine doing it alone.

Some of my friends are doing just that. I know several single mothers. A couple are widows, but most are women who adopted children as single parents in their thirties. They are all college-educated women with professional careers. I’ve known these women for nearly two decades, and they’ve raised great kids. None of these women grew up thinking they would be parenting alone, yet faced that challenge thoughtfully and carefully.

So when I overhead a conversation about the declining family in America, I wondered if single parenthood is unique to America, and if it makes a difference whether the single parent is male or female, educated or uneducated. Continue reading

Sunday Thoughts with Bob Pickering

Bob and June Pickering

Thought for this Week:  This week, let us focus on our balance. Let’s communicate with our loved ones and be sure that our lives are running without unnecessary bumps. Let’s keep our spirit mind and body in sync.

I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for
that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?”
(Ecclesiastes 3:22)

A recent Facebook posting from my daughter stated, “worked 15 hours today with another 12 on the docket for tomorrow..,” She is a dedicated professional making her living educating 10 and 11 year olds. She feels that her job is a gift from God that allows her to contribute to the lives of others. She is not going to get rich doing it. Continue reading

MN Masala: Baking with Veggies and Chocolate, Part 2

Jane and Chux

By Jane and Chux: Earlier, I shared our chocolate vegan beet muffin recipe.  This week we are baking with vegetables and chocolate again!

Because, what do you do with all that extra zucchini coming out of your garden?  Well, you make chocolate zucchini cake of course!

This recipe makes a great snack cake that is very moist, rich and chocolaty.  A piece of this cake would be a nice addition to school (or work) lunches.  Makes for a satisfying afternoon snack.

The grated zucchini makes this cake very moist and adds some nutritional value.  The key is to mix the grated zucchini very well into the cake batter.  As it bakes, the zucchini almost melts into the crumb.  In fact, if you didn’t tell anyone, they would not know there was any vegetable in this cake! Continue reading

What is minimalist living?

Tal Gur

[This piece first appeared in full on Tal Gur’s blog, Live Out the Dream.]

By Tal Gur: “If you would make a man happy, do not add to his possessions but subtract from the sum of his desires” – Seneca

You and I are programmed.

We have been programmed from early age to acquire more possessions and never be satisfied with what we have.

We were told we need to buy new clothes every season, a new car every few years and the latest gadget each time it’s announced.

We were conditioned to trade our freedom for a 30-year mortgage, so we can fill our 4 walls to their maximum capacity with stuff we don’t really need; another candle holder, another piece of furniture, another cute little bowl. Continue reading

What if a sex offender moved to your neighborhood?

By Cindy Moy: The Monster molested 29 children and served 19 years in a secure facility under the state sex offender law. Those 19 years were a civil commitment after The Monster served a criminal sentence of four years.

Let’s do the math on that, shall we? The Monster served 1.65 months in prison for each child he was convicted of molesting.

The sex offender law allowed the state to commit The Monster for treatment until he was no longer considered a threat to others. (Only 20 states have such sex offender laws. In the rest of the states, sex offenders are returned to the community after serving their criminal sentences.)

Then, in a much-publicized decision, the state decided to let him out. My first reaction was “That’s terrible,” and I went about my business–until we were notified that The Monster was being released to a halfway house in my neighborhood. Continue reading

Is winning everything?

Rabbi Locketz

By Rabbi David Locketz: Today was not a regular day at Camp.  Today was Maccabiah (Olympic) games…our version of color wars.

Last night, with great fanfare, the chanichim (campers) were all broken up into four different teams…red, white, blue and silver.  It is no small feat to create a day full of special activities for hundreds of kids.  Every inch of camp is used and the entire staff (a couple hundred young adults!) all had to be shuffled and redistributed and re-tasked to make it work.  Major kudos goes to the few folks who organized the entire day.  They successfully managed 500 people through this event.

As a member of the faculty, I helped lead an all camp service to start the day off and then I was literally on the side lines for the rest of the day watching.  What I saw was really great. Continue reading