Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Minnesota Installment #2-Accent and MN Companies/Inventions

Since Fall and the apple season are right around the corner here in Minnesota, I thought I would include some pictures from one of our trips to the Applewood Orchard in Lakeville, MN

One defining characteristic of Minnesotan speech is, obviously, the long and strong vowel sounds.  For instance, the long 'o'.  This is not to be confused with holding the vowel sound longer than normal, no, this involves the shape of your mouth and how that affects the sound of the vowel itself.  For example: it's not--Minnesoooota, it's--Minnesohta.
Another characteristic is ending a sentence with a preposition. For example: "Is the store open yet?" What may seem a like a question about whether the store has opened for the start of the day, is actually quite the opposite. We Minnesotans mean: "Is the store still open or has it closed for the night?" 

Something you may not know about Minnesota is that we are known for entrepeneurship. Several amazing products have been invented in MN and we have several Fortune 500 companies headquartered here. I have listed a few of the most recognizeable inventions/companies in each category below.
(Disclaimer: I have done research to find these, but like all things in life, there's a chance I'm wrong).

Inventions:   Honeycrisp apples, Post-It notes, Scotch tape, Roller Blades, indoor shopping malls, Tonka trucks, snowmobiles, Spam, Bundt pans, puffed cereals.   Fortune 500 Companies:  Best Buy, General Mills, Target Corp., 3M (Post-it notes, Scotch tape), Hormel (Spam), Medtronic (medical devices, such as pacemakers), USBank, SuperValu.   Other Companies:   Aveda, Regis, Polaris (snowmobiles), Caribou Coffee, Valspar, Dairy Queen, Famous Dave's BBQ, NordicWare (Bundt pan), and the famed Mayo Clinic and Hospital.

It's that time again...MN Stereotype #2: All people in Minnesota sound like the actors in the movie Fargo.
That movie, along with others, were made using a gross hyperbole of the true Minnesota accent.  There are very few people in this state that actually sound like that.  Now, I'm not denying that we have a unique accent, but if you want to hear a true-to-life Minnesotan accent, I suggest watching the movie A Prairie Home Companion.  Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin do a superb job with the accent.  It's darn near perfect!  One of these days, I may muster up some bravery and do a vlog, so you can hear my accent.  Minnesota Stereotype #2=Debunked!

P.S.  Stay tuned for a re-cap of our trip to The Great Minnesota Get Together!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Homemade Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

I've done a few "hippie-ish" things lately.  Made my own laundry soap, made bread and cakes from scratch (well, may that's not as much hippie as it is smart, because they're delicious), and now I've made my own granola bars.  Hippie...Granola...Is there a little similarity there?  I've also entertained the thought of making homemade cheese crackers, maybe in the shape of fish.  You know, for the kids.  Yep, the kids, that's right.  *wink*

This recipe is a mish mash of a recipe from and my own concoction.  I admit, these taste a bit more like dessert than a granola bar.  In fact, the honey carmalizes a bit and gives these a much richer flavor.  Leaps and bounds above those store bought granola bars made by the company that rhymes with Squaker.

Notes: It's crucial that you use the mini-chocolate chips for these bars. The regular size chips are too big and bulky for this recipe. Believe me, I tried. They fell apart instantly.
The recipe says to use a 9x13 pan, but I usually use a large cookie sheet with sides. It makes the bars thinner, but I think they're better that way.

Homemade Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
(adapted from

3 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 c. crisp rice cereal (aka Rice Krispies)
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 pan (or larger, if you want them thin).  In a large bowl, combine the oats, cereal, flour, baking soda, vanilla, softened butter, honey, and brown sugar.    Add chocolate chips and stir until incorporated throughout dough.  Lightly press mixture into prepared pan.  Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool about 15 minutes, then cut into bars.  Let cool, in pan, completely before eating. 

*Extra points to whoever caught the Uncle Buck reference.