ramps + parsnip + ginger soup

During my first spring in Minnesota, I discovered ramps while trail running in Hartley. On the trails there were green plants and the area smelled like onions. I purchased a Minnesota Wildflower book and found out they were edible leeks. I ended up not foraging any that year. This year, I was in the local co-op and found ramps for sale. It was windy and rainy, soup sounded awesome for the night. I decided to try souping the relative of the carrot, parsnip, with this recipe with adaptions.

Ingredients (for two generously sized bowls)

bundle of ramps, stem cut off and greens chopped finely, bulbs in cubes
3 parsnips. peeled and chopped into cubes
1 yellow onion, chopped into cubes
small ginger root, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 cups chicken stock
salt + pepper
olive oil

optional: 1 carrot, 1 potato, lemon zest, jalapeño


I ended up not using the carrot


1. Wash and peel stuff. Chop everything (garlic/onion/) ahead of time! I used the whole ramp, they smelled so good. This link shows how to chop it up. I kept the bulb and greens separate.

2. Heat olive oil on medium. Add in the teaspoon of coriander. It should only take 30s-1 min to release the fragrance. Add in the base aromatic veggies: onion and ramp bulbs to start, celery/potato/carrot can be added here. Brown for 1 minute then add in the chopped garlic and ginger. The smell is unbelievable! Stir for 2-5 minutes, don’t burn anything.

3. Add the parsnips and ramp greens. Stir around until ramp greens are brighter green. I used 1 cup of broth to start and then added the amount of water to cover the parsnips. I prefer not to have the stock overpower the flavor of the parsnips and ramps. You can adjust the broth to be more or less or none. Bring to boil and then simmer.


4. Puree with an immersion blender or with a regular blender. The consistency may be think or thin. Add more water or cook down. Taste and then flavor with salt and pepper!


5. Additions are cream for thickness and lemon juice for flavor.

Blue cornmeal pancakes

Y-U-M-M-Y! Best word to describe the pancakes I made this morning. Blue corn is always used in Pueblo and Navajo dishes and inspired New Mexico items like pancakes. I was psyched to use some maple syrup I received from my student. I made tiny pancakes today.


For 8-medium-ish pancakes

1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 tbs sugar
1 3/4 tbs baking powder
pinch of salt1 1/2 cup almond milk
3 tbs melted butter
2 eggs

In one bowl, whisk the dry ingredients: blue cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Make sure there aren’t giant clumps. In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients: eggs, almond milk and melted butter. I use a fork to beat the egg, then added the milk. These made a fluffier batter. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Don’t overmix, it may be thicker than regular pancake mix. Heat the skillet/cast iron on medium-low. Once it is warm, grease with butter, should crackle when perfect temp. Pour a 1/3 cup of the batter, spread if it is thick. When bubbles start to dry up on top, flip!

Warm the syrup and top with berries! I love the blue color of the pancakes! I froze the leftovers for breakfast this week.


Any local Duluthians want some blue cornmeal or this pancake mix, I can make you mixture of the dry ingredients!

Duluth Puzzle Derby!

Earlier this year, I leisurely got interested in puzzles.  So far I’ve completed 6 puzzles this year!


Puzzles I’ve completed but have yet to send out to friends. I will do this sometime soon!!

First, I would sort (one evening), work on part of it (another evening) and return back to it (another evening). I hadn’t completed one in one sitting. So it seemed like the best idea to do a puzzle derby….amateur move.

What is a puzzle derby? A timed-competition to complete a puzzle. The Duluth Puzzle Derby gave out a 500-piece puzzle with a time limit of 3 hrs. The puzzle derby encouraged a Team Spirit Award, i,e. team t-shirts, wear a designated color, wear crazy hats, or any other way to express your team spirit. My partner in crime, Deb, and I decided on an 80s theme, cus neon and fanny packs. Duh! We went with a Cindy Lauper-themed team name, Girls just wanna do puzzles.


I wasn’t creative enough to combine an 80s song title/song lyric with the word ‘puzzle’ or ‘pieces.’ Here are our sweet outfits.

Optimistic puzzlers

Optimistic puzzlers – photo by Mike Scholtz

Our shirts to say,”This shirt glows when my swag is on.” Backstory, we bought these shirts awhile ago. This was inspired when we saw a 10-year old boy with his swag on in Canal Park. #inspirationanywhere Don’t judge me, I found them at JCPenneys for $8.99 plus free shipping. Fanny packs, or any 80s gear, can be found at Ragstock on Superior St.

There was this rule:

Contestants cannot use any puzzle tools, magnifying glasses, cutting devices, flashlights, use phones to take pictures of puzzle, etc. as helpers; hands only or you will be disqualified.

I made sure to take a photo to show our progress but not to use it as a helper. I’m not sure how to use it as a helper…I am apparent behind the times for this side of computational analysis.

So we had a giant clock to tell us when to start. There were 30 teams competing in the two-person competition!


Our bag of pieces.



Photo by Duluth WDIO.com

Surprisingly, my fanny pack and quick hands made the Duluth TV news at the start of the competition! I didn’t think I would be uncomfortable doing this, there was some serious pressure.

Our strategy was to first sort pieces by border and color. Then we could complete the border first and fill-in.


We felt pretty good once we got this done!

We had some great support at this, two friends got photos of us.


photo by Mike Scholtz


photo by Travis Davidsavor.

I’d say we hit our wall when we got to the sky and clouds. We did a tag team style to give fresh eyes. We sorted the pieces in groups to best put them in. We kept looking at the clock, the time flew by!


same colors

The first people finished in 1:09:22. The top ten teams finished in 2 hrs. The top 21 in less that 3hrs. There were 9 of us who didn’t finish in the 3hr mark.


Correction: Someone showed was our frustrated by 3hrs

The awesome folks who organized this let us stay. They said we should finish our puzzle. I had a fruit leather and felt better. More snackies next time since our brains hit a wall. Even when everyone else was done…they encouraged us.


photo by Mike Scholtz

We got to about this part of the puzzle at the 3:30 mark.


We got some help to finish it! The organizers were stumped on some pieces because we had tried them too! They were psyched to help us out since we lost our steam.


This summed up our emotions at the end of the derby!


photo by Mike Scholtz

I think Deb and I should have probably practiced together before we did this. We live our life on the edge. I was busy these last three weeks traveling and with work.

I would recommend this to anyone! It was draining but totally worth it. It was the coolest thing to do the puzzle from start to finish. I decided to read up on some literature about brains and puzzles. I’m a scientist, this is a natural thing to do for me. The literature was interesting. For families of those who suffer from semantic dementia, this one paper “Positive Clinical Neuroscience Explorations in Positive Neurology”  led to another study that describes one type of dementia suffers:

The dominance of the visual, and the perseverative or obsessive behaviors characteristic of semantic dementia, is reflected in the large proportion (~25%) of these patients for whom jigsaw puzzles become important, or even the primary activity of daily living (Green and Patterson 2009), suggesting they are able to achieve “flow” during working on these puzzles. In a controlled study, Green and Patterson (2009) found that semantic dementia patients have above average jigsaw skills, especially in “reality-disrupted” puzzles, in which expectations of the real world can interfere with puzzle completion, and in “grain” jigsaw puzzles, characterized by the fact that conceptual knowledge does not benefit performance.Encouragingly, from a clinical standpoint, semantic dementia patients, who often exhibit flat affect and demeanor in social situations, displayed pleasure and pride during the completion of jigsaw puzzles suggesting that this might be a good candidate for enabling flow in many patients with semantic dementia.

I’ll try to look more stuff up later when I have more time. Seems like a great way to have families interact with someone who suffers from that type. I would say a 500 piece is probably the easier size.

So, I went home and started another puzzle.