FACS on the Road

Savoring a Regional Specialty

While traveling through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan today we savored Pasties, a regional specialty whose origins date back to the miners who settled this rugged region of the state.

The server at White Tail Restaurant and Motel in Brevort, Michigan, shared that to be a true UP pastie, the handheld meat pie must include four ingredients: potatoes, carrots, onions, and rutabagas. These are all root vegetables that are easily grown and stored. The ingredients for the pastie are seasoned, cooked and encased in a flaky pastry crust, and baked to a golden brown. Joel (pictured below) is in charge if making the pasties at the White Tail Restaurant. The pasties are served with a savory brown gravy.

Though there was a good-natured dispute among the restaurant staff as to whether pasties originated in Cornwall, England or with the Finnish settlers from the area, they were in agreement about the role of pasties in UP history.

The miners’ wives would make pasties for their husbands’ lunches from the leftovers from the evening meal. The pasties were wrapped in newspaper or foil. The wives would place hot coals in the bottom of empty paint cans. The pasties were then placed atop the coals so that the miners could enjoy a hot meal at the bottom of the cold mine. Pretty resourceful, don’t you think?

I’ll share a recipe and links to more pastie history next week. We’re back on the road heading for a fish boil in Door County, Wisconsin this evening!

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For the Love of FACS, Reading in the FACS Classroom

Wrapping Up the Q & A

Today’s post wraps up the Q & A with culinary mystery writer Joanne Fluke.  Ms. Fluke was kind enough to answer my questions regarding the steps she follows as she develops the story lines and original recipes for the novels in her Hannah Swensen culinary mystery series.  Her novel, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, is the basis for our FACS classroom resource Recipe for Reading.

FF:  How have the characters in the Hannah Swenson novels developed through the course of the series?  Do you feel as if you know the characters on a personal level?

JF:  They all develop in many ways.  I’d have to write a novel right here to fill it all in.  Suffice to say that most of them get a little wiser and a smidgeon more tolerant of each other.  What most people want to know is how Hannah’s complicated romantic life will develop.  We’re going to have to wait to see if Hannah chooses one of her boyfriends.  I have very little to say about Hannah’s love life.  I can throw her a curve like Ross, the movie producer from her college days, or Bradford Ramsey, her first real love, but Hannah has a mind of her own.  People think I’m crazy when I say that, but it’s the truth.  When I try to make Hannah do things that don’t “fit,” the scene I’m writing always comes out flat and unbelievable.  Then I have to go back and rewrite it her way.

FF:  Can you give us a preview of the next novel in the Hannah Swensen series?  When can we expect it to be available in our local bookstore?

JF:  “Gingerbread Cookie Murder” is a Hannah novella that will debut in October 2010 as part of a collection of three novellas.  The other two writers are Laura Levine and Leslie Meier, who also joined me in the novella collection, “Candy Cane Murder.”  The next full-length Hannah mystery will be “Devil’s Food Cake Murder” and it will be released in March of 2011.  In addition to a compelling mystery with lots of scrumptious recipes, it will address the romantic cliffhanger ending of “Apple Turnover Murder.”  I can tell you no more or I’ll have to make you the next body that Hannah discovers!

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Joanne has added even more mysteries to the Hannah Swensen series since she did
this Q & A for us.  We deeply appreciate her taking time out of her hectic
schedule to thoughtfully answer my questions.  I hope you’ve found the Q & A
interesting and entertaining!  Please check out all of the novels in the HS
series at Joanne’s website www.murdershebaked.com.