By Lauren Richardson
On November 1, 2008, precisely one year after arriving in Minneapolis, I was standing next to my father, all of my worldly belongings sprawled on the ground in front of my house. There we stood, trying to navigate the puzzle of making it all fit into the car in such a way that it would survive the journey to Colorado intact. I didn’t have much really: a bed, a bicycle, some clothes, and books made up about half of the load. And then there was the other pile.… This was the “dad be VERY careful with this” pile. It consisted of bags overflowing with tart pans and Madeline molds, my favorite tea cups, rolling pins, and food … boxes and boxes of food. Oh, and the cooler.
I had decided to run for the hills—yes, I’m a big baby who couldn’t face another eternal winter. Guilty. I was looking forward to the sunshine, mountains, and family that awaited me in Colorado, but was completely unprepared to leave behind all of the culinary delights that I had grown accustomed to. So, for weeks before my departure, I squirreled away epic proportions of sundries, boxing up and freezing every tasty Minnesota morsel.
What did I decide I couldn’t live without?
Two jars of Ames Farm honey—light and lovely sweet clover, and perfectly pungent buckwheat
Five pounds of an amazing Mogami eight-grain rice blend from United Noodle
One golden pound of PastureLand butter, to be reserved for shortbreads…mmmm
Two giant bags of Jim Barnard’s sweet cherries frozen at the peak of season
Enough berbere spice to make Miser Wat (spicy Ethiopian lentils) for a decade
One pound of Peace Coffee’s French roast—something tells me they’re not going to peddle me a weekly supply.… Maybe if I throw in a day on the ski slopes as incentive…?
A bottle of Cannon Valley Winery’s Minnesota Meritage for a special occasion
Whole Grain Milling’s yellow cornmeal
I also had a box of things that could not be bought. Dear friends had put up a little of Minnesota summer just for me and sent me off with the sweetest dried tomatoes and strawberries I’ve ever had, jars of dilly pickles, green beans, pickled beets, strawberry jam, salsa, jalapeño apple jam, apple butter, and one aloe vera plant to medicate those high-altitude sun burns. This was the best box of all.
As I sit to write this it has been nearly two months since dad came and brought me home. The strawberries were nibbled as the perfect road trip snack and the tomatoes shined in an amazing tuna and tomato tart. I have crunched into my last pickle and Peace Coffee fueled mom and me through preparing Thanksgiving supper. But much of it is still left. I am hoarding it, with months of winter still ahead.
I have also begun discovering that my new home has its own local treasures. It turns out there are some busy bees here on the Continental Divide and although I have licked my jar of Ames Farm sweet clover honey clean, it’s been filled with the honey of a friend’s Yampa Valley hives. And there are some very happy, healthy, and tasty buffalo around these parts.
But there are countless things that can’t be replaced. I will have to return in June for syrupy, sweet Wisconsin cherries. Or a Saturday in July for a buckwheat crêpe from the Midtown Farmers’ Market, then again in October if I want to crunch into Harry Hoch’s Dayton and Honeycrisp apples. I may even return during one of those wretched winter months just for a window seat at the Birchwood Café and a perfect Peace Coffee Americano. And yet, none of these things would be worth the trip without the people and the place that make them marvelous. Yes, I’ll be back.