Chocolate Stars @ St. Anne’s

St. Nicholas brought, among other things, a bag of “chocolate stars” to Sr. Christina last Tuesday night.

Rather than let them “go to waist,” she decided to make some cookies with our ladies as a “therapeutic baking” project Saturday morning.

20914533_10211463549918135_8869111455869622302_nAfter searching for just the right recipe to correspond with the ingredients we had available and the amount of chocolates to be used, one was selected, residents interested in baking were gathered, and the measuring and mixing began.

It came to be time for lunch, however, and the domestic undertaking had to be relinquished temporarily, with a promise to resume around 12:30 p.m.

When the time came to roll out the cookies, there was a minor obstacle: all the sugar on hand in the activities kitchen had been used in the dough.  The container had not yet been refilled in the main kitchen, and more sugar was needed for coating the cookies before placing them on the sheets.

A trip was made to the main kitchen, however, and the cookie factory could resume operations.

In accord with the recipe, the cookies were baked for 10 minutes, then pulled out and inserted with one chocolate star each before going back into the oven for a few more minutes.

One of the other residents, who was watching TV in the adjoining activity room kept commenting on how good the cookies smelled and asking when they would be served.

IMG_0937Sr. Christina finally gave in and handed him one early, before snack time.  (By the time snacks were being served after reading hour, he was ready for another one.)

* * *

Whether or not you have chocolate stars on hand which you don’t want to have “go to waist,” you might consider this recipe for an attractive holiday treat:


We’d like your feedback

We’ve now been running the St. Anne’s Scoop for juts over three years.

As we mark this anniversary, we’d like to take the time to ask for your feedback.  What do you like most?  Do you have suggestions for future topics?  Is there anything else you could share to help us make this blog the best it can be?

Would you please take a moment to fill out our little form?

Thanks so much!

We’ve been authorized for a matching grant – you can help us out this #GivingTuesday!

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We have some exciting news here at St. Anne’s!
We’ve been authorized for up to $10,000 for a matching grant from the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities!
As we mark #GivingTuesday, an international day for supporting non-profit organiziations, we’d welcome your support towards this matching grant.
If you’d like to make a donation in support of our mission to the vulnerable and elderly in our midst who need our care, you may:
Send it in the mail:
St. Anne’s Guest Home
524 N. 17th St.
Grand Forks, ND 58203
or visit us online to make payment electronically:
Thank you in advance for your support!

Make it Shine with Pickle Brine

When cooking purple potatoes, this past week, we discovered an electrical problem with the little stove-top in our conference room kitchenette.  Actually, the smell wafted all the way out to the front desk area.

When the burner was removed it was very black and in desperate need of a good cleaning.  After soaking it for a long time, there was still plenty of black remaining.

Sr. Christina thought some vinegar might work well, but there was none handy.  However, she was taking out a jar of pickles anyway to have at supper and decided to pour some pickle brine to soak on the burner.

P1080016.JPGWhen this had soaked thus through the evening and over night, a lot more of the black “gunk” was removed.

Little did we know all the wonders of pickle brine!

When doing an online search for uses of pickle brine, one finds a multitude of suggestions:

Pickle brine is suggested as a meat tenderizer as well as for enhancing other foods, such as barbecue sauce and “mac and cheese,” fish, veggies, and salad dressing.  It can be used in homemade rye bread, cocktails, sports drinks, and even pickle soup.  Pickle juice can be used for acidifying soil, cleaning copper, trapping fruit flies, making copper sparkle, killing weeds, stopping hiccups, and curing heartburn.  It can also serve as a laxative and to treat an upset stomach.


Purple Potatoes…Some Special Spuds!

roasted-purple-potatoes-with-tarragon2This past weekend, we had a little surprise visit from our administrator’s (Sr. Rebecca) brother and sister-in-law.  Along with the gift of their mere presence, they also brought us a bag of special spuds – purple potatoes!

We’d never seen the like before.  The visitors assured us that they taste just like any other potato; if you were blindfolded, you’d never know the difference.

Wednesday afternoon, Sr. Christina set to work with one of our residents who loves to “keep busy,” waiting eagerly to see the lady’s reaction when she discovered that they were purple potatoes.  Soon, others in the activity room were being shown the never-before-seen specimen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEvery Thursday, we have mashed potatoes as part of the lunch menu.  So it is that Sr. Rebecca is planning to cook up and mash the peeled potatoes to see what kind of reaction she gets.

Purple potatoes, though deep violet on the inside, have ink-colored skins.  They are good for baking or mashing, being dry and starchy.

They are rich in a certain antioxidant called anthocyanin which is also found in berries and pomegranates, helpful to the immune system and in preventing some cancers.  Purple potatoes also have energy-rich properties, lots of vitamins, proteins, fiber and antioxidants.  They can help with your blood pressure and prevent blood clots as well.  Purple potatoes have been grown for hundreds of years in areas like Peru and Bolivia.

There are even recipes available for using these pretty little gems, including home-style green beans and purple potatoes, purple potatoes with caramelized onions and shiitake mushrooms, mashed purple potatoes, and roasted purple potatoes and cauliflower.


Welcome Back, Henry!

Staff and residents at St. Anne’s made our scarecrow, Henry, again Tuesday afternoon.  He has been coming to visit every October for the past several years.  He sits in our entrance to meet those who pass by.  Actually, people have been known to say “hello” when they first see him, thinking he’s real.

Scarecrows, according to one article, have had their place in human society for centuries. Even back in ancient Rome and Greece, people would put wooden figures out to watch over their fields. Scarecrows, or variations thereof, actually cross many cultures. In fact, in Japan, rice field protectors were made of oily material and fish bones, another source said. The first record of scarecrows comes from Ancient Egypt, where wheat fields near the Nile were protected from quail by scarecrows.

European farmers, during the middle ages, followed this well-established tradition. Some actually believed that scarecrows had special powers and actually thought they would protect crops from diseases. A scarecrow ould consist of animal skulls (as in Italy) or a wooden witch (in Germany). In Brittan, scarecrows were actually alive, since boys were given the job of patrolling the wheat fields with bags of stones, according to this same source.

Here, in our own land, the native people used “bird scarers” as well, but these were mostly real men.   Some would stand on wooden platforms, howling and shouting at approaching crows and woodchucks. Other means of protection were also employed, such as poisoning crows so that their wild flying deterred others and placing poles around the fields.

Scarecrows had their place in the history of the American Colonies as well. Later immigrants to America also shared their traditions. During the Great Depression, scarecrows became especially popular.

Although we at St. Anne’s aren’t seeking protection from harm due to birds, or crows in particular, we enjoy having our resident of the month with us this time of year. Some staff, however, have commented on being startled by him.  Sr. Christina, her mother (visiting from Minnesota), and a few residents put him together one afternoon this past week.

If you stop by to visit us, you might want to say hello to our scarecrow, Henry, as well. Don’t expect any response though, as he is rather bashful and not accustomed to conversation.

Are You Achin’ to do Some Bakin’?


In a previous post, we offered information about the benefits of baking.  We’ve realized this firsthand with a few of our residents, who enjoy the chance to “get domestic.”  We’ve given them a chance to help mixing up cookies or other treats to serve. They remember doing such work in years past and enjoy being a part of a project like this; they don’t mind a compliment on their tasty results, either.

We’d like to offer you a similar opportunity!

Do you enjoy baking, but not have much of an outlet?  (Maybe you’re not too eager for the extra pounds that come from indulging in a lot of baked goods.)

Our annual bake sale is coming up on October 21st.  If you’d like to bake something(s) to contribute to our sale, we would appreciate it.

You can even fill out this form to let us know what you’re planning.

PS: We won’t tell on you if you sample it first 🙂

“Autumn Begins”

fallThis week Mother Nature got a jump start on Autumn. The calendar states “Autumn Begins” September 22. Our exceedingly creative God got ahead of the date and was doing a magnificent paint job already a week before.

Sister Rebecca and I attended the North Dakota Long Term Care Conference in Fargo for three days this week and were able to drive back and forth from Grand Forks each day instead of traveling to Bismarck and staying overnight for the duration.

This meant six separate 81 mile trips, three to Fargo and three back home to Grand Forks. We were privileged to delight in the numerous fall colors: gold, yellow, red, rust, green, yellow green, brown, tan. Oh, so beautiful! The trees were still fluffy because the wind had not yet divested them of their leaves thus creating an even more gorgeous grove of individual colors.

The fall colored grasses in the ditches took on a special hew that delighted one’s view as we drove by. Such a multitude of mixed beauty!

And, to really top off the experience, Sister Rebecca pointed out a flock of geese flying over the Fargo Holiday Inn. What a marvelous additional sight adding to the already amazing experience, a sure sign of fall.

Thank You God for giving Mother Nature these gifts of color and her ability to present them to us in such varied ways for our amazement and joy. May You, O Creator, be thanked, honored and adored.

Count Me In! Share your time & talent at St. Anne’s

Image may contain: textDid you know that there are lots of opportunities to give back to the community by serving as a volunteer at St. Anne’s?

Whether you’re interested in doing one-on-one visits with a resident who doesn’t have much family, if you’d like to help with our special events, if you’d like to lend a hand with regular activities, or you have another idea of how you’d like to help, the St. Anne’s Volunteer Program is worth checking into!

In fact, we’re getting ready for our annual volunteer business meeting, which will be held on Thursday, October 5th.  It’s a “working lunch” from 11:30 to 12.

If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP with Shelly Mack (701-746-9401) no later than Monday, October 2nd.

We hope to see you there!