A Hunger for Food Meets a Hunger to Help

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Written by By Trish Amundson Photography by Fagan Studios

Local organization rescues excess food from area businesses for those in need.

Community Food Response (CFR) is feeding the hungry in Rochester. Week after week, many families come on foot, by bike and bus, to receive bread, fresh produce and prepared food that would otherwise go to waste. The need to feed the hungry—and CFR’s vital service—continue to grow.


One in nine Minnesotans struggle with hunger, and one in six children do not have enough food to eat. Yet one-third of food is wasted. Locally, one in three Rochester school children qualify for free or reduced school lunches. Many people do not have enough food to lead healthy and active lives. They go to bed hungry, and they wake up hungry. Their refrigerators and cupboards are bare, and finances are low, so putting a decent meal on the table becomes a struggle. Rochester is not immune to the challenges of hunger. 



Hot Chef

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Written by By Dawn Sanborn Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

Forager’s female chefs talk about food and the funny side of the kitchen.



Kari has known she wanted to be a chef since the time she was 18. She was already a line cook and thought, “I could spend the rest of my life in a kitchen.” She set off to get her training in line cooking, prepping ingredients and assembling dishes according to restaurant recipes and specifications. She spent two years training in Wyoming, followed by attending the Art Institute of Tucson.



Gourmet Clubs: Hosting A Friends & Food Club

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Written by By Emily Watkins Photography by Dawn Sanborn Photography

Does the word “gourmet” intimidate you? It did me until almost 10 years ago when our neighbors invited us to participate in a gourmet club with a few other couples. They pulled together people they knew who enjoyed eating good food. At our first meeting, the only people we knew were our neighbors. 


While I was growing up, my parents participated in a formal gourmet group. The host decided on the menu and assigned specific recipes to each person. That’s what I had in mind for our gourmet group, but as we talked through things, we decided on something much more casual. The only hard and fast rule was that each person had to make and bring something that they had never cooked. We would meet as often as we could (usually every other month or so), taking turns hosting. The host would cook the main dish, and the others would bring appetizers, side dishes, salads, bread and/or dessert, along with wine or cocktails. Once the main dish was decided, the others could plan their dishes around that. It always felt very casual, with everyone contributing what they could and felt like making.

We have tried many new dishes with our gourmet club including cow’s tongue, pork belly and even squirrel! We’ve had duck, Lebanese roasted fish, chicken shawarma (thinly sliced meat wrapped in pita bread with veggies and sauce), salads, different kinds of breads and many creative vegetable dishes. We often have such great appetizers that it seems to diminish our appetite for dinner, but we always have room for our main dish and dessert. We’ve had pumpkin creme brulee, raspberry clafoutis (a French dessert) and dorayaki (a type of Japanese confection).

Over the years we have shared important life events like weddings, the birth of a baby, kids going off to college and a daughter who got
engaged. The founding couple moved away from Rochester a few years ago, so our group lost a little momentum. We have met sporadically since then, as we are trying to find our new identity. 


Another gourmet club in Rochester was started by Dawn Sanborn and Jorrie Johnson. Dawn wanted to combine her “love for food and friends,” while Jorrie wanted to try food and wine from around the world. They both wanted to “hang out with wonderful women, meet new friends and try real food and wine or cocktails common from other countries, almost like traveling without the airplane,” explains Sanborn.

Their group decided to start with the letter “A” and choose a country that started with that letter as the “theme.” Everyone would bring food or drink that was traditional to that country. Sanborn says, “Or we would bring a chocolate cake for dessert because who doesn't like chocolate cake?”

Sanborn explains that not everyone in the group loves to cook, “but everyone loves a good get-together, so some would even just buy something from a restaurant.” One time, the hostess ordered gyros from a Greek restaurant.

They planned on meeting once a month and shared the hosting duties. They “went to” Australia, Brazil, Chili, Denmark, Ireland, India, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Liechtenstein and tried lots of interesting recipes and foods.


I had recently traveled to France and was eager to make some French food with my gourmet club. I found a delicious looking recipe for brisket in a French cookbook. I was hosting on a Friday, and my day was filled with appointments, so I knew I would be pressed for time. The recipe I found called for cooking the brisket at a slow temperature for three hours after searing it on the stove. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to get to that at the right time, so I searched for a slow cooker recipe. I ended up combining a couple different recipes to come up with the one that I’m sharing with you. This is a great recipe for hosting because you can make it ahead so that you can spend more time preparing for and spending time with your guests.

Another make-ahead recipe for parties and events this holiday season is a punch. Try this festive red punch that looks delicious and can be made with or without alcohol.


Would you like to start a gourmet club? You can make the group however you like it. You could cook or go out to eat and try different restaurants. You could have a formal club where everything is planned, or you could have a casual, potluck-style club. You could focus on a different type of food each time or maybe even a particular time period for your inspiration. Choose whatever you want the focus to be: social time, food or maybe wine. Gather a group of friends and enjoy food and time together.

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket with Red Wine and Cognac Reduction


  • 1 beef brisket, 4-5 lb.
  • salt
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • beef stock to cover brisket in slow cooker
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • ½ cup cognac
  • chives, optional


Season brisket generously with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil to the pan. Add brisket and sear on each side, 2-3 minutes or until dark brown. Transfer to slow cooker. Add beef stock to cover brisket. Cook at low heat for 6-8 hours.

About an hour before eating, fry the bacon in a large pan. Once crispy, pour off bacon fat, leaving 1 Tbsp. in the pan. Add onion, carrots, potatoes and celery to pan and cook over medium heat until onions are soft. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Transfer vegetables to a bowl with the bacon and keep warm. 

Pour wine and cognac in the pan. Add 2 cups of broth from the slow cooker to the pan. Stir to remove bits from the pan. Cook over medium high heat for 30 minutes or until sauce has thickened, stirring frequently.

Remove brisket from slow cooker and put on a platter, surrounding it with the vegetables and bacon. Sprinkle with chives if desired. Serve reduction sauce on the side.

Holiday Party Punch


  • 4 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 bottle sparkling cider
  • 1 liter ginger ale
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 12 ounces vodka (optional)
  • 1 orange, sliced


In a large bowl, over ice combine all of the liquid ingredients. Float the orange slices on top, for garnish and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Sandra Lee (



Emily Watkins is personal trainer and freelance writer and editor.


You’ve done the Great River Road Wine Trail and the Rochester Craft Beer Expo and maybe even a cidery tour or two. But have you ever gone to a tasting that includes all three types of beverages from over a dozen different makers under one roof, right in downtown Rochester, for only $25?

If not, check out Feast! Local Foods Marketplace, the region’s largest local food festival, now in its fourth year. Unlike wine trails, this tasting doesn’t involve a long bus ride to Wisconsin or congestion in the Twin Cities. Instead, Feast! brings the best local wine, craft beer and cider to you at the Mayo Civic Center, Saturday, December 2, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Plus, the ticket price includes a multitude of culinary treats, everything from farm-sourced cheddar to mouthwatering confections, all made by food artisans in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Historic Brews

First stop: Stagecoach Brewing Company, where fascinating stories, golden ales and smoky porters are on tap for Feast! Owned by local brew master Tod Fyten, Stagecoach will be serving up the brewery’s distinguished history, dating back to 1857 in Mantorville, as well as a tipple of their Smoked Porter, award-winning Honey Golden Ale and their flagship brew, Stagecoach Amber Ale, now celebrating its 20th anniversary. 



Remodelers Corner: A Room Undivided

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Written by By Bob Freund

Ryan and Sue Ness envisioned an open floor plan when they decided to remodel the main floor of their Rochester home last year. “We knew going in, it was going to be a big job,” Ryan says. 


Standing in the way was a long, load-bearing wall that separated their kitchen from the living room.  It had to disappear without a trace of its prior place. Overhead, the homeowners also envisioned a single ceiling stretching across their two rooms. That meant hiding the main beam holding up much of the home’s interior.

A year later, the Nesses enjoy a renovated kitchen and living/entertainment space. In addition, the decor throughout the main floor is new, and the master bathroom has been redone, along with other touches.


The wall stretching down the center of the Ness’ 1960s-era house was not just a room divider. It also was holding up the ceiling overhead. 



Exploring the Latest in Senior Housing Trends

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Written by By Cindy Mennenga Photography by Fagan Studios

Making Personalized Decisions Based on Individual Circumstances

As our population ages, seniors today are blessed with many housing options from which to choose. Previously, seniors had only a handful of choices for where to live: at home, with family or at an assisted living facility or nursing home. Many of today’s seniors are members of the baby boomer generation, and the boomers have notoriously disrupted every phase of life as they have entered it, insisting that they leave their mark and forcing long-standing institutions to bend to their will. Senior housing is just another stop on the boomer generation’s outside-the-box thinking.   


Part of what is driving these changes is the fact that today’s seniors have seen their parents cast aside by society and wither away in nursing homes, and they don’t want that to be their fate. Most folks want to remain independent for as long as possible. As a result, a very popular type of senior housing which has emerged in recent years is called aging in place. That means that a senior’s home is modified, as needed, to accommodate the resident so that he or she can remain in his or her home as long as possible. For some folks, it means widening doorways to allow a wheelchair to pass through, reinforcing walls to support graspable hand bars in bathrooms and hallways, along with renovating kitchens and bathrooms to include adjustable-height countertops. It often will also include adding zero entry doorways or wheelchair ramps to allow access into the home without steps. An aging in place expert can help determine which changes would be beneficial to help improve safety and functionality.


Not all businesses succeed, and for those that do, there are lessons to be learned from their legacies. For Rochester-based insurance agency, North Risk Partners – C.O. Brown, this legacy of success is one spanning 100 years. The firm celebrated a century in business in September.  

The agency was founded by Clarence O. Brown in 1917. While the C.O. Brown story started with a male founder, the future is bright for women in leadership at the company and throughout the insurance industry as a whole.


The insurance industry has been historically male dominated. Acknowledging this, it remains an industry-wide priority to create more opportunities for women in management, sales and beyond. According to one study, only 15 percent of insurance companies are led by female executives.



STRIVE to Save Lives

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Written by By Trish Amundson

A mammogram is an important screening tool for breast cancer. Unfortunately for some women, some early cancers can be missed by current screening methods and are only detected once symptoms occur. The STRIVE Study is now underway at Mayo Clinic in an effort to change all that—and develop a new test to give cancer patients the timely diagnoses they need. 

Research for a Cure 

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2017, and about 40,610 women will die from it this year. The earlier breast cancer is found, the higher the chance of a cure. The blood test being evaluated in STRIVE, a study by the company GRAIL, uses high-intensity DNA sequencing to analyze blood samples for genetic material released by tumors—and find breast cancer early.  



Health, Wealth & Happiness

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Written by By Emily Watkins

Personal Training for Sustainable Results

Are you overwhelmed by all the information that is out there about exercise and nutrition? What exactly does it mean to “exercise and eat right?” Hire a personal trainer to get a healthy living plan that is tailor-made for you.


Men and women come in all shapes and sizes and are looking for a variety of results. In my initial consultation with clients, I spend a lot of time listening so that I get to know their personality. 



Suffering in Silence

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Written by By Andrea Thomas

When to ask for help when struggling with depression.

For years I suffered in silence, a silence that almost killed me. I was exhausted by the daily grind of trying to hide the pain and suffering that was constantly stirring within me. Lying in bed, unable to shut off the faucet of negative thoughts and traumatic images, I made the choice to hop behind the wheel of my Chevy Beretta in an attempt to put the ultimate end to this battle. I was done fighting.                


I was in my second year of undergraduate study and unaware I was living with severe depression and ongoing trauma symptoms which were interfering with my ability to function on a daily basis. I was very sick with an illness I knew nothing about. I felt alone and hopeless. I was determined to figure everything out on my own. In that moment driving down that dark highway, I did not want to die, I wanted my pain to end. My life had become a series of ongoing nightmares and daytime flashbacks from traumatic events. I couldn’t explain my pain; I viewed myself as a strong person and therefore, I thought I did something wrong to deserve the overwhelming darkness. I figured the only way I could end my pain was to take my own life.


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