What’s Cooking? 2016-11-23T10:20:39+00:00

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


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.



10/24/2012 ~ Live Locally Results and Slideshow


To all Live Locally Participants, Volunteers, Sponsors and Prize Donors,

We want to thank you all for your involvement with the 6th Annual Live Locally 5K. We are thrilled to announce that together we were able to raise an additional $3,000 to be given to Mission Valley Aquatics. This brings Live Locally’s total contribution to the pool, to OVER $10,000! LL 2012 Donation Check
We need to say a huge thank you to our signature sponsors. Their continued support is what makes this race possible. We are humbled each and every year that our signature sponsors continue to find value in this race and support the event. We sincerely thank you.

We also want to mention our emcee, Shawn Hendrickson. Thank you for keeping us organized and entertained
throughout the day. We also appreciate that you have Polson Pride, and that shows through in the efforts you put into this race each year. Thank you. I know one of the favorite parts of this race are the numerous locally donated prizes for the drawing. We gave away over 50 items this year, so thank you so much to the many local businesses who contributed to this portion of the race.

We need to say another big thank you to the volunteers. From fruit cutting, to decorating, to serving food, to keeping the racers safe on the roads, your involvement in this race is so critical to keep it running without a hitch. Thank you greatly for your help!

Thanks to Sara Gunderson for making the amazing awards this year and to Mike Lozar/Total Screen Design for designing another great shirt for 2012! We are so lucky to have such talented people, from right here in Polson.

And finally, thank you again to all the participants who weathered the rain this weekend to join in the fun of the Live Locally 5K. We hope you enjoyed the course, prizes, music, jokes from Shawn, food and awards. LL 1012 Canine Finish

We sure enjoyed having you all join us for this event. Congratulations to all of the age group winners (listed below) and to everyone who participated (see link at top of page for complete times)!

Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!
Heather & Sarah

2012 Signature Sponsors
Super 1 Foods, Advocare, Navigator Travel
Hu Beaver Builder, Glacier Bank, Stene Aviation
Wal-mart, Total Screen Design, Moore Appraising
The Cove Deli & Pizza, Fidelity Title Agency, Wash-n-Go
Community Bank, First Interstate Bank, Western States Insurance
Anderson Radio Broadcasting, Lake County Public Health
Providence St. Joseph Medical Center St., Luke Community Healthcare
Polson Health/Kalispell Regional Medical Center

Age Group Winners
13 & Under Anna Young, Connor Wagner
14-19 Tiara Duford, Evan Iddings
20-29 Breane Utgaard, Bruce Genzel
39-39 Raina Stene, Jonathan Manuel
40-49 Lisa Iddings, Jarrod Shew
50-59 Kathy Smith, Bruce Gerlach
60-69 Pat Bristol, Jesse Barry
70+ Maureen Redfield, Dick Anderson


9/18/2012 ~ Live Locally 5K Event!

Live Locally 2012 5K Run/Walk
“Make a Splash…Change a Life” ~Mission Valley Aquatics

Country Pasta and Health Care Plus are excited to announce the 6th annual Live Locally 5K Run/Walk to promote lung health awareness and National Pasta month! This year’s event will again be hosted by Health Care Plus in Polson, and feature refreshments and prizes donated by your local business community. Race participants will also receive a shirt and goodie bag at registration.

Here’s some important information:
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Location: Health Care Plus – One, 7th Avenue East – Polson, MT
Times: Race day registration and packet pick-up begin at 9:00 am
Race begins at 10:00 am
Pre-Registration: Now through September 27th – $15
Registration: September 27th – October 20th – $20  Registration forms should be turned in to Health Care Plus.
Questions: Contact Health Care Plus at 406-883-3910

All proceeds from this year’s race will be donated to Mission Valley Aquatics, whose vision is “to provide a state-of-the-art aquatic facility that enhances the health, fitness, safety, recreation and quality of life for all in the Mission Valley.” Through years of hard work, careful planning, tireless fundraising and perseverance, the dream for this facility is finally coming true! Here’s a brief update from MVA on the status of the building and fundraising projects.
“In case you haven’t been to the site lately, you may be pleased to know construction is nearly complete with an anticipated November 2012 opening date. To date, we have raised $3.3 million and borrowed $1 million in private loans, but we have not quite reached our fundraising goal for the $5.2 million project.”
The aquatic center will feature an 8 lane, 25 yard lap pool (that meets specifications for high school state level swim meets) and a smaller pool “suitable for instruction, therapy and aqua aerobics.” Not only will a facility like this encourage and strengthen healthy exercise habits in our youth (and those still young at heart!), but meets and events held in this facility will bring people in to Polson, with dollars to spend strengthening our business community. Definitely a win-win situation!

Come participate in the Live Locally 5K Run/Walk on October 20th and be a part of making Polson healthy!!

Live Locally shirt history


11/29/2011 ~ Country Pasta Tours Yellowstone

July 27-28, 2011

Here’s how it all happened, really…

Our wonderful Montana distributor Randy Lindberg of Quality Foods Distributing in Bozeman stopped by Country Foods to pick up an order one day in early June. He mentioned that he was able to place our 2 Country Pasta items in the 6 grocery store locations within Yellowstone National park…and that the folks in charge would like some demo (sampling) support. Needless to say, we were immediately excited! Honestly…to go spend a few days in Yellowstone during summer “working.” Who could pass that opportunity up?

West Yellowstone Entrance

West Yellowstone Entrance

Arrangements were made, and by arrangements I mean that all the hotels were booked up in West Yellowstone, MT (unless we were willing to fork out $265!) where we would spend our first night. Our choices limited, Heather managed to secure the last KOA Kabin at a campground just outside of West Yellowstone (whew!). For night number two, she finagled a 12’ x 12’ tent site near the Grant Village store. Fortunately (we checked) both locations had shower facilities available! For each day in the park, we planned to sample a cold pasta salad at two locations, spending a few hours in each.

Since we were going to “rough it” in the Park, we spent some time digging up our camping lists, comparing notes and making adjustments. Needless to say, between Heather’s extensive Montana backpacking and hiking experiences and my week-long childhood camping expeditions into the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon- we were over prepared! I won’t include the whole list, but here is a sampling: Can opener, tent, tarp, sleeping bag, pillow (I STILL forgot mine!), bucket for dishes, axe, firewood (no one wants to pay ridiculous prices for a small box of firewood in a park… come on), coolers filled with pasta, ice, headlamp, FOOD, bottled water, sampling equipment, gift basket (we gave away a prize), bug spray, lantern, towel (drat, I forgot that too)… and the list goes on!

After taking bets on whether or not my packing skills were up to the task, we stuffed every available nook and cranny of the Nissan Murano full of supplies and took off! After a (mostly) uneventful drive, we arrived in West Yellowstone just about dinnertime. We unpacked what we needed for the night at the KOA Kabin and headed into town to find some vittles. We ended up at a pizza joint in town, full of locals enjoying the sports bar. The Kabin was comfortable, but I can’t remember the last time I slept on the top bunk. Fortunately, I didn’t roll out and hit the floor. In the morning, we feasted on instant oatmeal and steaming hot Tipu’s Chai before packing up and heading to our first store.

Canyon Village was bustling and full of activity by 10 am, and everyone was on a mission! Our little table was next to the cash register and across the aisle from the ice cream, so pasta was a tough sell in this store! We persevered, made some new friends and departed with high hopes for store number two. We stopped to have peanut butter & jelly sandwiches at a beautiful waterfall along the way and got some great pictures. While crossing river to the Fishing Bridge store, we got an up close and personal look at a wandering bison working his way back to the wilderness. Fishing Bridge was an easier place to sample; we set up outside between the two entrances and were able to chat more with folks going in and out. They were also hungrier at this time of day, and we were happier with our results!

Hungry Hikers

Hungry Hikers

That evening we drove to Grant Village, where we would stay the night in our deluxe…tent. Being “experienced” campers, we pitched the tent and started a fire before the temperature dropped. We had been eagerly awaiting the chance to try Hungry Hiker’s Beef Stroganoff (they of course use Country Pasta). So we tore open the package, followed the directions, and enjoyed a delicious hot meal! After dinner and dishes, okay – just one dish, we enjoyed s’mores over the campfire and planned our attack on the next 2 stores. After a chilly, semi-comfortable night listening to the “neighbors,” morning brought welcome warmth and purpose.

The next event was scheduled for 10 A.M. in Grant Village’s store. We gave out many samples to excited customers and learned several interesting tidbits about the park from the folks who return each summer to work there. We even heard a story about a sleepy bison who loved to spend the night just outside the door to a store employee’s RV. She would routinely call in to work explaining that she would arrive after the bison got up for the day!

Moving to our final location was very exciting, since we would be setting up at the largest Old Faithful store. This store has two levels, and was wall-to-wall people for the entire 3 hours we were there! We sampled to folks who had traveled from all the way from Israel to vacation in the Park. We met folks who had used our products for years, as well as many people who had never heard of Country Pasta. Near the end of the afternoon, Heather was kind enough to hold down the fort while I watched Old Faithful in person (for the first time). What a sight!

When we served ourselves out of a job, we packed our supplies (and souvenirs) in to the car one last time and prepared for the drive back to Polson. It was agreed that we should reflect on our time in Yellowstone while enjoying Montana-made Wilcoxson’s ice cream, available upstairs in the Old Faithful store. We had a memorable trip, and it was an exciting opportunity that I am glad we were able to participate in. As we drove out of the park toward West Yellowstone and home, we tallied the license plates we had seen on our short 2 day visit. The results are surprising…we counted plates from 45 states and 4 Canadian provinces. What a trip!!

Check out our slideshow for the highlights…including Old Faithful!