05/08/2015 Grow the Recipe Bridge this Mother’s Day

Recipe Book PicYou 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.

Mom & Heather at FFSFood 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!

Heather Signature

 

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04/03/2015 25 Acts of Kindness

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.

Blog Pic

Country Pasta founders, Dean and Linda Knutson, displaying the quality semolina they use to make the product and the early packages of Country Pasta.

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!

Heather Signature

 

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12-10-14 Giving a Delicious Gift

Grandma Vi and Grandpa Orville Knutson and their grandchildren at Christmas.

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.

Martha Stewart – Homemade Food Gifts

Midwest Living – 35 Heavenly Homemade Food Gifts

Better Homes & Gardens – Simple Christmas Food Gifts

Wishing you all a fun, safe and delicious holiday season.

Heather Signature

 

 

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6/15/14 Father’s Day

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.6-2014 Rokton & Dad

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. Dad in Plane

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!

6-2014 Family Picture

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5/6/2013 ~ Lessons From Mom

Reflecting on my Mom, Founder of Country Pasta

I feel like I won the lottery when they were assigning moms back in 1975. However, I also believe several of my personal characteristics are the direct result of trying to be or do things the complete opposite of my mom. I don’t think I’m unusual. I know many girls/women who, for example, grew up in situations where their mom was a neat freak, and they say to themselves, “I’m never going to worry about cleaning everyday and instead just enjoy life.” Or their moms are super savers, so they spend like their life depends on it. We try to take the polar opposite route. Yet regardless of how hard we try to be different, we are often reminded that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  A great saying for us in the food world. And while jokingly I say I tried to be the apple that somehow rolled away from the tree, there are so many traits my mom has that I could only be lucky enough to have gotten from her. And from these traits that I’ve observed in her over the years, I have had the opportunity to learn many lessons.

The Knutson Family...back in 1975.

The Knutson Family…back in 1975.

  1. Be kind. My mom does not have a mean bone in her body. She treats everyone as though they are her long lost friends, regardless of how long she has known them. You only need to spend a minute with my mom to pick up on this particular trait.
  2. Have fun with friends…and strangers who are not yet friends. My mom knows how to have a good time. And she loves get-togethers with friends and family, always tending to everyone’s needs and desires. But it’s not only current friends she has fun with, the woman can make herself new friends better than anyone I know. It typically starts with some sort of “Griswold moment” happening in public, and the next thing you know she’s got a new friend coming to dinner. She knows how to have fun, and how to not take herself too seriously. I think many people are attracted to that quality in her because it makes it so easy, and fun, to be around her.
  3.  Be respectful and compassionate. My mom is amazing with both older people and those in need. She is always listening patiently, making sure everyone is feeling included, and ensuring people have what they require. One of the most beautiful things I’ve observed my mom doing is giving my grandfather a foot massage when he was in the hospital nearing the end of his time on earth. She had no hesitation and her only concern was that he was comfortable and cared for.
  4. Adapt, make the best of your circumstances, and move on. My mom has had to overcome many obstacles and challenges and has always done a great job at adapting to the situation, making the best of where she was, and moving on. The most recent example I have of this, and one that I am so proud of her for, is adjusting to life after my father passed away. They were married for exactly 40 years when he passed away back in 2006. She had gone from her parents’ home directly to being married to my dad and had never been on her own. I’ve talked to other children of widowed parents, and they have to struggle with their parents moving on. They end up not wanting to do anything, and are very depressed. To say my mom was sad when my dad passed away would be an understatement. He was a tremendous man, husband and father, and it was an incredibly difficult time in her life. At first she relied a lot on other people to do many everyday tasks for her. Now, however, she has become such an independent and strong woman. She is the gal who gets out there and mows the steep hill at her house, and unloads 2 tons of beef into her freezers by herself, or goes gallivanting to Spain or Germany, and volunteers for a week-long shift at the Medora Musical in North Dakota. I greatly admire her for her spirit and her adaptability. No, things are not perfect, but she’s making the best of them and living her life to the fullest!
  5. Show your love with food. Quite possibly the thing my mom is most known for is her excellent cooking. She can make these amazing meals, and feed an army of people, while making it look like a walk in the park. She loves food and enjoys making people happy with her delicious concoctions.  Many people have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of her love…and the food that comes with it.

I always like to say that Country Pasta is the combination of my dad’s entrepreneurial talents and my mom’s love of cooking. Without one, or the other, I have great doubts that the pasta could ever have reached as many people as it has today. I hope the next time you have Country Pasta, you think of your own mother, and the many amazing traits she has. And know that your next bite is filled with love and lessons, right from the founder.

Wishing my mom, and mothers all over, a memorable day filled with family, love, and delicious food.

~Heather

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