Tracy Briggs is a former TV anchor/radio host currently working as a features writer and video host for Forum Communications.
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FARGO — It's quiet on weekday mornings at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fargo. Five people — four women and one man — sit quietly at a table drinking coffee, nibbling on cookies and talking the way only the best of friends do. "Bob is our one man. We'd like to get more, but no one else comes," says one woman. "Yeah, so I get stuck making the coffee," Bob replies. "But you're so good at it," replies another woman.
Let me start by saying, I'm proud to be from the Midwest. I'm sensitive to the comments about this being "flyover" country and always like to point out to whomever is listening that our region often ranks highest in the nation in many important areas like livability, job growth and graduation rates. We have a lot to brag about, but what I want to say to the people of my home region is this: "For the love of God, people, Jell-O is not real salad."
SEATTLE — When we called Melissa Schmalenberger, she was drinking a cup of tea, wrapped in a cozy blanket while gazing at the Seattle skyline from her new apartment. It was a relaxing morning in a new place — a far cry from the last few months. "This has been the most stressful four months of my life," she says as she begins to tell her story.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — In this part of the country, when you say the word "Viking," the image that might come to mind is of a blond, braided horn-wearing Norseman clad in purple and gold. To many Midwesterners, viking means Minnesota Viking, not the conquering Scandinavian warrior-adventurers of the 8th to 11th centuries. That is definitely the case after the NFL team's dramatic win over the New Orleans Saints on Jan. 14. After the "Minnesota Miracle," we are far more likely to think of Case Keenum and Stefon Diggs than Erik the Red or Leif Eriksson.
MOORHEAD, Minn. — The supermarket: an everyday convenience that Americans sometimes take for granted. To us, the "super" in supermarket is often overlooked. We're accustomed to our fully-stocked produce sections, wide aisles and plethora of choices. But if you're not from here — if you're a new American or simply a tourist from another part of the world — then you might find American supermarkets a little out of the ordinary, overwhelming or just plain odd.
If you're like me on these days after Christmas, you're staring at mostly-empty Christmas cookie containers wondering how it got this far. Crumbs are the only evidence of the carnage that unfolded throughout the holiday season. Oh, the humanity! The holidays are a time of parties, home baking and well-meaning coworkers delivering treats to your desk (I'm talking to you, Helmut Schmidt). It's been a season of eating and the scale shows it. New Year's resolutions loom on the horizon: I'm going to eat less, get fit and lose weight. But how will I do it?
Don't you love those desserts that taste like you toiled for hours over a hot stove but, in fact, aren't much more difficult than a microwave mug cake? Sticky Toffee Pudding fits the bill. I made the sweet, British dessert a couple of years ago at Christmas Eve and will probably do it again this year. I found it to be the perfect ending to our meal. With its flavors of caramel and date, its rich velvety texture satisfied in just a couple of bites (not that I stopped there, but I should have). I top it with whipped cream, but vanilla ice cream is an option as well.
FARGO - We all know those people. In fact, we might be those people. They treat their dog like their own child. They have pictures on their desks, bumper stickers on their car and dog presents under the Christmas tree. It’s easy enough to find gifts for your pet –most of the time, a sturdy chew toy will keep the dog happy. But what do you buy not for the dog, but the dog lover in your family? Here are 5 gifts that are sure to please.
One thing I've learned from my years of holiday baking is to simplify when you can. For example, I found out the hard way that when you spend hours baking cookies, the last thing you're in the mood to do is spend hours decorating them. Some days I'm in the mood to bake elaborate recipes — other days I'm in the mood to decorate. But never both at the same time, or you'll get a tired, crabby me who might end up chucking the whole ordeal in favor of a cup of spiked eggnog and a rerun of "Chopped."
FARGO — Black Friday has come and gone and some of you are well-into checking off items on your Christmas list. Others are in a white-hot panic with no clue what to get anyone. No matter which category you fall into, you might want to consider homemade gift breads. They're a fairly economical way to add an extra homestyle touch to store-bought gifts, and they're an easy standalone gift for those still stumped with shopping.