This week, for our 13th Act of Kindness, we gave away over 360 bags of Country Pasta to visitors of Glacier National Park. One of the things we love about where we live is our proximity to Glacier Park, so it seemed only fitting to include the Park in our Acts of Kindness somehow. We chose August 25th because the National Parks were celebrating their 100th Birthday, and Glacier specifically celebrated 99 years as an official National Park.
To say we had a good time would be an understatement. We met folks from at least 30 states and 8 different countries! We were warmly welcomed by the Park staff. We enjoyed ice cream. One of us went swimming. Two of us juggled pasta. We shared our own National Park stories. One of us ran into a server they had met while vacationing in the Virgin Islands! We met new friends. We had a picnic lunch. We had many laughs. And through all of this, we still get to call this “work.”
Throughout this year I continue to feel deep appreciation for the many customers we have who make this all possible. This year and our 25 Acts of Kindness are our way of giving back to each of you. We thank you, and we look forward to continuing to share our appreciation.
C. Warner Smith in the Kitchen
I grew up in a pretty traditional household, where my Mother and paternal Grandmother (who lived with us) did most of the cooking. Breakfasts would often find hot or cold cereal served, lunch sacks filled with PB&J’s and a piece of fruit, and for dinner our plates were filled with a balanced meal. However, Thursday nights were spaghetti nights. The menu consisted of San Giorgio #11 (now called Capellini) topped with my mother’s grandmother’s gravy (aka red sauce) and meatballs.
My father enjoyed this meal – often having seconds if available. But it wasn’t until many years later that I learned how much my Dad really loved pasta and cooking. One day I walked into the kitchen to find him working diligently on something in a big stock pot on the stove. It smelled divine…and the smile on his face was as big as the universe. I tried to mask my surprise that he was cooking and asked, “Dad, what are you making?” Truth be told, I really wanted to say, “Dad, what are you doing?” He turned to me and said “Punk, I am making Chicken Cacciatore.” That pot cooked for hours with my Dad lovingly stirring it throughout the day. And just when I thought his smile could not get any bigger, he dished the deliciousness over the San Giorgio #11 and just beamed.
At 88 years old, it is harder for my Dad to work all day in the kitchen making this dish, but on occasion he will. He shops for all the right ingredients, prepares them for the pot, and stirs with love every hour or so. That smile on his face is still priceless to me when he dishes it up in a big bowl.
Be sure to continue building your memories this year. Wishing a wonderful Father’s Day to all those secret chefs out there.
You know those games where you try to guess the amount of, say, jelly beans in a jar? I think it would be fun to play that trying to guess the number of cookbooks my mom owns. However, would we also count the numerous cooking magazines? Or strictly limit it to actual books? And do we count duplicates? I know she has a few of those, too. Either way, I would love to know a total, but would not even have a clue how many to guess!
The funny thing about all these cookbooks is that, while I know she’s read and used many of the recipes, my guess is that she has rarely followed the directions. She is the type of person who throws in a handful of this or a dollop of that, and it always turns out delicious! We learned to eat a lot of whatever we really liked at mealtimes, because as she self admits, it never tastes the same twice.
She does not only use her cookbooks in the kitchen. While some people might read novels at night, she will read cookbooks. All these books she has can be found here and there throughout her house, sometimes with tissue marking the page of a good recipe, or maybe a dollar bill here and there. Whatever was convenient when she needed to be able to find that great recipe again.
Food has always been a big part of our family, and is the way my mom shows her love. Cooking for friends, family, those in need – she enjoys warming hearts and filling bellies with her creative concoctions.
I know some of my mom’s most treasured items are the recipes she will find of my grandmother’s or friends from years ago. The handwritten list of ingredients and instructions, usually with some butter, chocolate or another item dripped on them.
This Mother’s Day, take a moment to look through your recipe books and cards. Maybe write out what your favorite recipe is today, and put it in a place where your children may one day stumble upon it and be able to think back to their childhood favorites. Food is often what connects us to both the past and the future. Continue to grow that bridge.
Wishing you a wonderful, delicious Mother’s Day!
As many of you know, 2015 marks Country Pasta’s 25th year of business, and you may have seen that we started the year by purchasing a local shopper’s groceries for her as our first of 25 Acts of Kindness. I wanted to share with you a little more about this concept and why we are doing it.
To be quite honest, I stole the idea from another company I heard was celebrating their 60th year in business last year. Upon first hearing about this, I thought it was a great concept, and one I thought was worth jumping on board with.
At the supermarket today, consumers are overwhelmed with product options to choose from. One of the most interesting things to me lately has been the multiple options of the same item, just in different sizes. Does anyone know how many different ways you can purchase a candy bar these days? You have regular size, king size, fun size, miniatures, bite size…did I even get them all? We recognize that you have many options to select from, and we greatly appreciate 25 years of support for Homemade Style Country Pasta products. In an effort to give back to our customers, we are coming up with 25 ways that we can say thanks, while have fun doing it!
In addition to surprising shoppers by purchasing their groceries, we have also donated to food banks, and have plans to give pasta away, Montana themed items away, and are launching one of our big acts of the year, which is a Montana trip give-away. One lucky customer and their guest will win a trip for two to Montana to enjoy the beauty of this area we get to call home – including a boat cruise around Flathead Lake, a visit to our headquarters, a trip to Glacier National Park, and many more fun activities.
So we look forward to continuing our 25 Acts and we hope you will have as much fun with this as we plan to. And once again, we thank you for being a valued customer. Here’s to the next 25!
I must have been destined to be in the food industry. I remember Christmas as a kid, and the one gift that stands out above the amazing child size doll, cool miniature television, or fun Popeye video game that annoyed the entire family in the car on our trip to North Dakota, is a container of my grandmother’s homemade applesauce that I got to have all to myself. This standard menu item for our holiday gatherings was a favorite among the entire family. What I didn’t like was only getting a tablespoon or two each time. So one year when Grandma Vi wrapped up a container – I believe it was the old yellow margarine plastic container – of this delicacy for me and only me, I was ecstatic! Still today I remember how her special applesauce tasted, and it takes me back in time to the holiday dinners with our whole family.
I’m sure many people have their favored holiday recipes – cookies, fudge, soup mixtures, and of course applesauce – and what a treasure it is to be the recipient of those delicious concoctions. The concept of giving food as gifts is something that has become a big business – Hickory Farms, Edible Arrangements Bouquets, Omaha Steaks…heck, my mom once sent a full lobster dinner to friends in North Dakota!
In today’s world, it is often quite challenging to decide what gifts to give. Colleagues, friends, bosses – we all are inundated with many consumer items each and every day, and it’s difficult to make that kind of decision. One thing that is constant for everyone, however, is food. So I say take some time and bake up some goodies, blend your own mix of pancakes or cookies, or get out the old apple strainer and red hots (that’s the secret ingredient in case you were wondering), go to work then package your delicacies with a nice bow. Or in an old margarine container. Your gift recipients will savor your gift and be happy they don’t need to find space for another gadget.
Here are some ideas to get you started.
Wishing you all a fun, safe and delicious holiday season.
What’s In A Name?
Choosing a name for your child is not as easy of a task as one might think. Sure there are plenty of names you like – some you may even have mentally filed away for years in anticipation of one day labeling your new offspring. But when it comes time to actually put that name in print, you have to be sure. And I mean really sure, that it is in fact something you…and he or she…can live with for the rest of everyone’s lives. How does it sound when you say it nicely? How does it sound if you need to yell their name? How will they be teased because of their name? Do the initials spell anything inappropriate? And let’s not forget, how does your spouse or partner like this perfect name?
I was lucky to be faced with this challenge in the past year as I found out I was pregnant with my first baby. I’m somewhat (wink, wink) of a planner, so waiting to find out if it was a boy or girl was considered only for a millisecond. We needed to know. Both of us guessed boy, and sure enough, we found out we were in fact going to have a son.
And so the fun begins!
It is amazing to me how quickly I began thinking about my hopes for this child’s future. And beyond wanting him to have toys and items to enjoy, what I really hope for him is to be a good, strong, and honorable man as an adult. I was lucky to have been born to a father who exemplifies what a man should be. Brave. Hard working. Caring of others. Smart. Funny. Loyal. Adventurous.
My dad, Dean Knutson, the founder of Country Pasta, was born in a small town in North Dakota. The oldest son in a family of 7, it was on the dairy farm that he learned the value of hard work. After graduating from high school he joined the North Dakota National Guard, where he added bravery, loyalty and adventure to his characteristics. He landed himself in Montana as the manager of a lumber yard, and from there began a career of building new businesses, including the last business he started, Country Foods.
Notice that I did not mention college in any of this. He did not attend one college class, and yet through hard work and perseverance, he was able to start, build and sell an array of businesses. The University of Montana Business School invited my dad to speak to one of their classes one time and before he started his presentation he looked around the room and said, “so this is what a college classroom looks like.” Yes, I did mention that he had a good sense of humor.
The man always had an eye for adventure. I sometimes think he may have had a bit of attention deficit disorder when it came to his extracurricular activities, and enjoyed things from each end of the spectrum. He went from raising large Percheron horses down to miniature ponies. He went from living on a ranch, feeding his 200 cows with horse and sleigh to enjoying the speed and excitement of riding snowmobiles in the mountains or flying one of his planes across the country. He grew up in a tiny town in the Midwest then spent a large part of time in the city of Mesa, Arizona. He loved adventures and experiences, and there was never a time when he didn’t have something new and exciting he was enjoying.
This amazing man passed away 8 years ago at the young age of 60. I still remember the last word he said was “beautiful” as he was looking at my mother sitting beside him. Even at the end of his life he was still showing us the kind of man he was. A loving one.
So when it came time to name my son, I wanted it to include a name that represented the type of man I hope he one day becomes. Brave. Hard working. Caring of others. Smart. Funny. Loyal. Adventurous. There was no other option but to include my father’s name in his.
Rokton Dean Walter was born on April 1st this year, and although he will unfortunately never have the opportunity to meet my father, his grandfather, he will always know that he carries the life of this amazing man on into the future.
As you celebrate Father’s Day this year I hope you will take the time to think about the traits and characteristics you appreciate about your fathers, and what they pass down to you and future generations. Wishing you all a wonderful day!