Currently viewing the tag: "blue heron coffeehouse"

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A few weeks ago the lovely people at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse had a book signing and dinner to celebrate the release of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. It was a wonderful afternoon and evening. I saw familiar faces I used to wait on in my barista days; I met new friends, and celebrated with old ones. If you’ve read through my book you know the Blue Heron is mentioned frequently, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance and encouragement of Larry and Colleen.  (Once again, thank you, thank you, for everything.)

I’ve been quiet here. The past few weeks have been filled with word searches, as I’ve been trying to articulate my thoughts on the whirlwind of activity in our country. One never knows what one’s in for when one starts thinking.* More soon. I’ll have a recipe for you in a few days.

Here are a few things, book related, and around the internets.

I had an interview with Rick Nelson from the Star Tribune you can read here.

I also had an interview with the National Post.

Laura’s post really resonated with me. (Psst. You can also pre-order her book here.)

Aran from Cannelle et Vanille has a gorgeous new video series, A Cook’s Remedy, on her website. Also, just check out her amazing photographs.

Haley Bonar, Tiny Desk Concert. Also digging The Secret Sisters.

Currently on my nightstand: Still reading this. And rereading this. Started this with my kids. This came in the mail today.

*CS Lewis, The Collected Letters, Vol. 2

 

labneh | the vanilla bean blog
I spent some time with Larry and Colleen Wolner while working on our column for Food 52, and one of the recipes we worked on was labneh, two ways. I had only approached labneh on the savory side of things, so topping it with raspberry coulis was a very nice surprise. The Wolners served it on thinly sliced toasted baguettes, and it was the perfect appetizer. Or dessert. I couldn’t decide.
labneh with raspberry coulis
labneh | the vanilla bean blog

labneh | the vanilla bean blog

labneh | the vanilla bean blog

I apologize for the space between posts lately. I’ve been busy over here testing recipes, and find myself wanting to put everything in the book. I’m trying not to neglect the site, but sometimes it’s hard to find time for everything.

A few things:

I really love this post by Phyllis.

I’m a super nerd and am reading this book.

I recently went to Los Angeles for the first time two weekends ago, along with some fellow bloggers and Hello Society. I had a lovely trip, and have a Steller story here if you want to take a peek.

My Kieffer Bros have a new puzzle game out: Blockwick 2! I spent almost an entire plane ride playing it. The game also made the itunes ‘best new game app’ last week; I’m so proud.

My last post for Wit & Delight: Grapefruit Rosemary Sparkler.

Cookbooks! I can’t wait for Tara’s book, and Sara’s book, and the new Food 52 book, and Kate’s book. (What other books should be on my list?)

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Pure Green Magazine
*photo by Pure Green Magazine

‘In later life the idea of a moveable feast for Hemingway became something very much like what King Harry wanted St. Crispin’s Feast Day to be for “we happy few’: a memory or even a state of being that had become a part of you, a thing that you could have always with you, no matter where you went or how you lived forever after, that you could never lose. An experience first fixed in time and space or a condition like happiness or love could be moved or carried with you wherever you went in space and time.’ – Patrick Hemingway

I have a piece in the newest issue of Pure Green Magazine. It’s about Larry and Colleen Wolner from The Blue Heron Coffeehouse; the couple who made me fall in love with baking, and gave me structure for all my kitchen adventures. I spent a weekend with them last summer and we spent a lot of time in the kitchen: cooking, talking, and taking pictures. Here are some outtakes from our time, and a recipe for the simple, yet amazing, raspberry tart Colleen made. The story I wrote and other photos can be found in Pure Green Vol. 8, which you can order here. It’s a beautiful publication and if you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend doing so.
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
Colleen Wolner | The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
The Blue Heron Coffeehouse
One other unrelated thing:

Recently I asked for your help in voting for me in the Saveur Food Blog Awards, and a good friend commented that if I won, “I bet she’ll make us chocolate cake!” I agreed, and now want to follow through on my promise. If you are a Minnesota local (or will be around here the first week of June) would you like to join me for chocolate cake and some sweet door prizes at Forage Modern Workshop? We’ll also be celebrating the Vanilla Bean Blog turning three. RSVP only, so if you’re interested in coming, please email me at thevanillabeanblog@gmail.com and I’ll give you all the details. I’d love to meet you and say thanks!
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whole wheat pasta with balsamic-spinach-basil dressing | the vanilla bean blog
‘Nothing can match the treasure of common memories, of trials endured together, of quarrels and reconciliations and generous emotions. It is idle, having planted an acorn in the morning, to expect that afternoon to sit in the shade of the oak.’ – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars
whole wheat pasta with balsamic-spinach-basil dressing | the vanilla bean blog
whole wheat pasta with balsamic-spinach-basil dressing | the vanilla bean blog
whole wheat pasta with balsamic-spinach-basil dressing | the vanilla bean blog
whole wheat pasta with balsamic-spinach-basil dressing | the vanilla bean blog

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a run on sentence(s) | sarah kieffer
Piper the horse | Sarah Kieffer
Garvin Heights, Winona, MN | Sarah Kieffer
moses the horse | sarah kieffer
feeding horses | Sarah Kieffer
Garvin Heights, Winona, MN | Sarah Kieffer
Garvin Heights, Winona, MN | Sarah Kieffer
sarah kieffer
by the river | sarah kieffer
Winona State, MN | Sarah Kieffer

Hello! I’m popping in from my little blog break to share a few photos from a recent weekend road trip. Winona, Minnesota may not seem like the most exciting place on the planet, but it’s terribly near and dear to my heart, as I spent five years of my life there: going to school and working at the coffeehouse I always talk about. It’s also where I met [A]; we had dorm rooms exactly two floors apart in Lourdes Hall our first year at school, and we dated almost the entire time we lived in that sleepy little town (minus a  few break ups, of course). So, since I always enjoy a good bit of nostalgia, we decided to head back for the weekend. It might have been our best family trip to date, as we frequented the Blue Heron daily (the blackberry scones! amazing!), peeked over the top of Garvin Heights, ate dinner overlooking the river, spent time with old friends, took a trip to a farm and fell in love with the horses, and shared a meal with Larry.

**********

Larry and his wife Colleen are the owners of the before mentioned coffeehouse, and have remained dear friends. Colleen was sadly out of town, but Larry invited us over for lunch before we returned home, and it was one of the loveliest meals I’ve had in a long time. I drank good coffee, learned about moon flowers, watched my children gather eggs from chickens for the first time, and caught up on time spent apart. We ate mixed greens with pears, goat cheese, and maple-mustard dressing, pasta with lamb bolognese, fresh bread, and coconut cake. I sighed a lot, feeling so content, and so peaceful in their charming home. And that’s when it hit me, there, at the table, halfway through my slice of cake. This moment, this meal, it’s a moveable feast.
At Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer
Larry and Colleen's House | Sarah Kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer | VSCO Grid

‘My style of cooking and writing has changed over the years and things that seemed to make sense then don’t make sense now. But more generally, every time you approach a dish, it feels slightly different. It seems to be asking for a little alteration, for this addition of this or the removal of that. I try to stay attentive to this. I guess this is what makes real food.’ – Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty
*****
We took a day trip to Winona, a favorite spot to refresh the soul, remember the past. We gazed at the bluffs, poked around the old library, had lunch and dinner with friends. We spent time at the Blue Heron: walking around their recently added garden, catching up, eating well, laughing. I was sent home with Plenty, such a wonderful gift. My heart always aches on going, calling out to the pieces that I’ve left there, pieces that feel removed. But so much has been added, and these parts comfort me; they mingle with the old for sweet, brief, moments, and we recognize life; real life.

 

blackberry orange muffins | the vanilla bean blog
Earlier this week I posted about blueberry muffins, and then decided I should do a follow up on all the other muffins to be made with the recipe. There are lots of options, and lots of room for experimenting. This recipe is fairly straightforward and easy to put together, making weekend entertaining a breeze.
blackberry orange muffins | the vanilla bean blog

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One day, about 14 years ago, Larry and Colleen Wolner decided to give me a job. They had recently purchased one of two coffeehouses in Winona, Minnesota, and were in the process of making it their own. I had worked in that coffeehouse for 2 years, and hoped beyond hope I could stay on staff. They let me, and my life was forever changed.
Larry and Colleen were ahead of the time. They brought so much with them to Winona – amazing baked goods, homemade soups and sandwiches, an organic and sustainable mindset, and a desire to build honest community. They set the bar high for that little town. Coffee should taste strong and deep. Scones should be buttery, creamy, and made every morning. Soup should have fabulous flavor and fresh ingredients. And ingredients should be bought locally, and be organic as much as possible. And people: people mattered.
I was young and didn’t know how to cook. They spent time teaching, encouraging and inspiring me. They provided a safe environment where I learned to cook and bake. I saw their passion and delight in what they did, and fell in love: with them, their family and their food.
So here I am, years later, having my own adventure in the kitchen. But part of my heart is always at the Blue Heron, and I am still learning from the two people who taught me so much, and have become family to me over the years. I have seen them walk a long, hard road; work such long hours and sacrifice so much for their dream. So here is a shout out to hard work! And good food! And beautiful people who have made me a much better person. My glass is raised high, to Larry and Colleen Wolner, and the Blue Heron Coffeehouse.

Do you live in Winona? Or are visiting soon? Eat at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse!
162 West Second Street, Winona Minnesota 55987.

Blueberry muffins were a staple in our house. I remember a tower of Jiffy boxes stacked next to the cereal in our cupboard above the stove. My mom would pull one out, and we would beg her to let us help stir everything together. She taught us how to measure oil, and crack eggs, and not to over mix. It was  most exciting when she would make them at dinner [muffins with dinner! we were giddy!], the tiny specks of blueberries dazzled us, and we crammed the muffins in our mouth, still warm and soaked in butter.
Oh, famous blueberry muffin. How I’ve made you so many times, only to be disappointed. Anybody with me? I don’t know how many different recipes I’ve tried over the years – too many to count. They are either too dry, or boring, or have too many steps for something that should be easy.  Coffeehouses and cafes serve me blueberry mini-cakes that stick to my teeth and throat. And those boxed muffin mixes! Alas, they have lost their charm.

There is one recipe I always come back to – another jem from the Blue Heron Coffeehouse. It is easy to put together – no melting or creaming of butter, no cooking down fruit into jam, and the final product is rewarding. I’ve tweaked things just a bit over the years; changing baking temperatures and flour amounts, and I’ve been pleased with the tender crumb, the blueberry flavor, and those feelings of nostalgia that wash over me as I pull them out of the oven. Now I make them for my mom, bringing them over with the kids, and we once again revel in sweet blueberry goodness.

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