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August 14, 2012

Living Here: Loving Minnesota with Ann Bauer

Filed under: Authors, Interview — lucia.randle @ 12:45 pm


An occasional series highlighting local authors and their favorite ways to spend a Minnesota weekend.

We introduce the series with Ann Bauer, coauthor with Mitch Omer of our bestselling cookbook, Damn Good Food: 157 Recipes from Hell’s Kitchen. Ann and her husband and teenage daughter live in Highland Park, a neighborhood of St. Paul. Ann’s newest novel is The Forever Marriage.

1. What is a typical weekend for you? phpNH8BSY

A typical weekend is quiet. For years, I got up at 6 a.m., 7 days a week, to write. But since our youngest went to college this year, I’m trying something new: allowing myself to sleep until 8 or even 9 on weekends. Waking up naturally feels decadent to me. My husband and I never speak in the morning, because I’ve found that’s the best way to work. He’ll often make me espresso and deliver it without a word. If the temperature is over 55 but under 85, we’ll go on a long motorcycle ride in the afternoon. We like eastern Minnesota for its hills and orchards. There are some sweet little restaurants along the St. Croix: Olive’s has the best salmon-dill pizza. Also La Cosinita in Bayport, WI. In winter, we do a lot of reading and hibernating. Sundays, we have a family dinner with our adult kids (the ones who are in town) and invite “extended” family—friends and neighbors. I’m big into one-pot cooking. We visited Budapest this year, so Hungarian goulash—with a salad and bread from Rustica—is my current favorite cold-weather meal.

2. What are some of your favorite local Friday-night activities?

I spent two years as a food critic and, frankly, that burned me out on “hot” restaurants—especially on Friday nights. If a place is new and hyped up, if people are waiting to get in even with a reservation, I want no part of it. So our Friday evenings are really low key. It’s the end of the work week, so we might have a nicer-than-usual bottle of wine. If we go out, it’s to one of the small places we’ve loved forever, like the Sample Room or Mango Thai. We frequently go to Namaste on Hennepin; it’s so good and somehow there’s always room. Once a month, there’s a gathering of artists called Algonquin Hotdish—we’ve been going to that for years.

3. What/where do you eat on weekends? What’s a typical Sunday breakfast for you?

I’m not much of a breakfast person—in the morning, that is. I love breakfast food, but I tend to eat it later in the day, once I’m done writing. What’s important to me on a Sunday morning is a great cup of coffee WITH REAL CREAM. I don’t want flavors or skim milk or some chromosomally altered sugar substitute. Cream, cinnamon, and maybe a touch of honey if the coffee is very dark and strong. My husband and I travel quite a bit, and when we’re on the road, accountable to no one, we eat a small meal at 10:30 and a large one around 3. Then we’ll get some wine and snacks for our hotel room: crackers and cheese or fruit. And once we stop for the night, we’ll have a very very light 8 o’clock dinner. But we have to be done riding for the day if we’re on the motorcycle. We never drink and get back on the bike.

4. What’s your weekend reading like?

I read the same way on weekends that I do during the rest of the week—only more so. I may be the only Minnesota writer I know who does NOT have a Sunday ritual around the New York Times. I love the Times and I read it (online) frequently. But I’m not an avid newsprint-on-the-hands person. In fact, I’ve converted to the laptop, Kindle, and iPad surprisingly well. I tend to FINISH books on weekends, mostly (I suspect) because I don’t have to stop reading and I just tear through until the end. So we do a lot of bookstore and library trips. I keep a running list of books I want to read pasted to my computer screen. And I do a lot of reading and editing for other writers, often on weekends when I have uninterrupted time.

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