Dispatches: A pleasant summer in Minnesota & a recipe for Swedish egg coffee

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travel week4Summertime is pleasant in Minnesota. Having spent most of my adult life sweating through sticky DC summers the thought of a comfortable summer had never really crossed my mind until my partner and I decided to spend the season in Minnesota. Working from home has many advantages and a big one is having the flexibility to pick up and leave–that’s what we did this summer (and extended into the fall). Turns out Minnesota is also a good place to take a break from DC politics.

It’s been a summer spent exploring new places as well as seeking out some of Minnesota’s roadside attractions with my trusty Roadside America app. Much of our time was spent in St Paul with some extended stays “Up North” as they say in the midwest.

All images © 2016 Lorie Shaull.

Dispatches is our occasional look outside of DC at the places local photographers have traveled. Have a set of photos you’d like to feature here? Contact us at editor@dcfocused.com.

St Paul was originally named "Pig's Eye" for a brief amount of time in the 1830's after Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant (his nickname comes from being blind in one eye). After leaving the trapping business, he dabbled in bootlegging & eventually opened up a bar at the entrance of a cave along the Mississippi River, thus becoming the first settler & businessman in the city. He was so successful, the area began being referred to as Pig's Eye until a Catholic priest from Southern France put a stop to all of that and renamed it St Paul.
St Paul was originally named “Pig’s Eye” for a brief amount of time in the 1830’s, after Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant (his nickname comes from blindness in one eye). On leaving his original occupation in the trapping business, Parrant dabbled in bootlegging & eventually opened a bar at the entrance of a cave along the Mississippi River, thus becoming the first settler & businessman in the city. He was so successful, the area began being referred to as Pig’s Eye until a Catholic priest came to town and, appalled by the name, legend has it exclaimed, “Pig’s Eye, converted thou shalt be, like Saul; Arise, and be, henceforth, Saint Paul!”
Mickey's, located in downtown St Paul, has been in continuous operation since 1939.
Mickey’s Diner, located in downtown St Paul, has been in continuous operation since 1939.
The Woolworth in downtown St Paul has been closed for awhile now but the developers who are updating the building, opened the doors up one last time for people to come in and look around.
The Woolworth in downtown St Paul has been closed for awhile now but the developers, who are updating the building, opened the doors one last time this summer for people to come in and look around.
Visitors to the old Woolworth's in St Paul were encouraged to sit down and record their memories of the store.
Visitors were encouraged to sit down and record their memories of the store.
Built in 1947, the oldest DQ in Minnesota is close to St Paul. We've been there more than a couple times this summer.
Built in 1947, the oldest DQ in Minnesota is close to St Paul; we’ve visited more than a couple times this summer.
The worlds largest boot is in the Red Wing store in Red Wing, MN
The worlds largest boot is in the Red Wing store in Red Wing, MN and until I lived in Minnesota, I’d never realized that Red Wing was more than a shoe company, it’s an actual town. Like many of the small towns in Minnesota that I’ve visited, it has a small town quaintness to it and you’re most likely to run into friendly people who are happy to chat with you longer than you’d think they might (if you’re from the east coast).
Minnesota's Largest Candy Store is in Jordan MN and they also have the world's largest soda selection. I do not recommend the Bacon Soda.
Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store is in Jordan, MN and they also have the world’s largest soda selection. I do not recommend the Bacon soda.
Up in northern Minnesota there's a stretch limo buried nose first in a cornfield beside I-94. Nick Miller of Nick's Repair in Osakis, MN decided to put it there rather than scrap it when it was brought into his shop. It also doubles as an advertisement for his shop although, he says, it hasn't brought him tons of additional business.
Up North there’s a stretch limo buried nose first in a cornfield beside I-94. Nick Miller of Nick’s Repair in Osakis, MN decided to put it there rather than scrap it when it was brought into his shop. It also doubles as an advertisement for his shop although, he says, it hasn’t brought him tons of additional business.
It's debatable who exactly started telling the fabricated tales of St Urho's heroics but he is said to have chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and rescuing the vineyard season. He got the grasshoppers to leave by using this phrase, "Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen" (roughly translated: "Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!") St Urho's day is celebrated on March 16th and this St Urho statue stands in Menahga, MN.
It’s debatable who exactly started telling the fabricated tales of St Urho’s heroics but he is said to have chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and rescuing the vineyard season. He got the grasshoppers to leave by using this phrase, “Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen” (roughly translated: “Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!”) St Urho’s day is celebrated on March 16th and this St Urho statue stands in Menahga, MN.
The Kensington Runestone was discovered by a Swedish farmer named Olof Ohman back in 1898. According to the words inscribed on it, one could interpret that it was left behind by the Vikings in the 14th century. The Runestone's true authenticity has been widely debated; never-the-less it's the centerpiece of the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, MN.
The Kensington Runestone was discovered by a Swedish farmer named Olof Ohman back in 1898. According to the words inscribed on it, one could interpret that it was left behind by the Vikings in the 14th century. The Runestone’s true authenticity has been widely debated; never-the-less it’s the centerpiece of the Runestone Museum in Alexandria, MN.
Across the street from the Runestone Museum stands Big Ole, America's biggest Viking. As they were climbing on Big Ole, I heard the following conversation between the kids and their grandmother, Boy: "What's under his skirt?" Grandmother: "You shouldn't look up there." Girl: "There's nothing up there anyway. He doesn't have anything up there!" Grandmother: "Now stop looking up there. It's not polite!"
Across the street from the Runestone Museum stands Big Ole, America’s biggest Viking. As they were climbing on Big Ole, I heard the following conversation between the kids and their grandmother, Boy: “What’s under his skirt?” Grandmother: “You shouldn’t look up there.” Girl: “There’s nothing up there anyway. He doesn’t have ANYTHING up there!” Grandmother: “Stop looking up there. It’s not polite!”
Our dog Lucy likes checking out roadside attractions but don't let her fool you, she did not reel in this fish
Our dog Lucy likes checking out roadside attractions but don’t let her fool you, she did not reel in this fish.
A fair's not a fair without butter sculptures
A fair’s not a fair without butter sculptures.

 

Swedish Egg Coffee

It was at the Minnesota State Fair that the sign on the Salem Lutheran Church’s Dining Hall advertising Swedish Egg Coffee gave me pause. I dearly love my morning coffee but egg coffee sounded very very wrong to me and since it was evening, I reasoned, trying it would keep me from a good night’s sleep. So regrettably, I passed up the opportunity to give it a try. But the thought of egg coffee continued to intrigue me. What is egg coffee? Who makes it…and why?

Swedish Egg Coffee! What is that!?!
Swedish Egg Coffee! What is that!?!

 

After some research on preparation methods and consultation from my partner’s 92 year old grandmother who has Danish roots (“We call it Danish coffee”) and since the fair was now over, I decided I needed to try it and to make it for myself. I’m including a recipe below and a video from the local news with someone who made the coffee at the at the Dining Hall a couple years back.

Ingredients:

3 cups of water

3 tablespoons ground coffee (you can adjust the coffee amount according to how how strong you like your coffee)

1 egg

Directions:

Bring water to a boil in a pot on the stovetop. In a bowl, combine coffee and the whole egg (shell and all). Break up the egg with a spoon and mix everything together. Turn the burner down so the water is at a low boil. Add egg/coffee mixture and stir a bit. Allow the mixture to sit on the stove for about 3 minutes and then turn the burner off. Let the mixture cool and stop bubbling (approximately 2-3 minutes). Pour off the coffee into your cup and have yourself a Swedish Egg Coffee. Some visuals from my egg coffee adventures:

egg-coffee

 

The egg binds to the coffee in an ugly-looking omelet but holds all the grinds together in the pot allowing you to pour off just the liquid. And, if I’m not mistaken, my cup of coffee (as I’d been told it would) did taste smoother than my normally brewed cup. It didn’t have the edgy darkness of the coffee I normally brew in my Bialetti moka pot but it was quite good. Like the summers in Minnesota, it was very pleasant and definitely good enough to experiment with and try again. So there you go–now when Egg Coffee starts showing up on the Starbucks menu for $5 a cup, you’ll already know how to make it on your own!

Sweeping up at the end of the day after a at the Salem Lutheran Church Dining Hall at the State Fair
Sweeping up the Salem Lutheran Church’s State Fair Dining Hall at the end of the day.