For Minnesota native and public relations professional Sarah Peterson, launching her own blog with family recipes helped her find her writing voice. But it didn’t take long for Sarah of Vintage Dish and Tell to expand her passion for handed-down recipes and the stories behind them by inviting others to share the cherished food and family traditions that are dear to their hearts.
Meet Sarah Peterson
On this week’s Funeral Potatoes & Wool Mittens podcast I finally got to meet Sarah and ask her a ton of questions I’ve been wanting to know about her, like:
- What recipe earned her the title of a Minnesota State Fair blue-ribbon baker? Has she met the legendary, 104-year-old, blue-ribbon baker Marjorie Johnson? (Just wait until you hear about Sarah’s Lucy’s Juicy Tater Tot Hot Dish—it belongs on the cover of all Minnesota and Midwest magazines.)
- Her inspiration and motivation behind her blog Vintage Dish and Tell.
- Does her family have a version of funeral potatoes or cheesy hash browns? (She shared two!)
- I wanted to hear about her Aunt Jeannie’s famous lasagna parties and her friend Annette’s sugar cookies.
- How many crockpots does she own?
- Since her mom and other legendary ladies of the family influenced her love for baking, I was hoping she’d share some of their vintage recipes—which she did! Bonus, Sarah sent me photos of them to share with you.
- Some people don’t like to share their secret thrift shops, but Sarah generously gave us the scoop on where she finds the best vintage wares and enjoys an afternoon of nostalgia in St. Paul and northern Minnesota.
- Hot dish or casserole?
- When she goes out to eat in the Twin Cities or Duluth, where does she go?
- We talked about which collections of vintage pieces we can’t walk away from if we see them out in the wild. Even harder to answer, if we had to downsize, what’s one handed-down item we’d have to take with us (other than our beloved cookbooks and recipe boxes).
- And the all-important answer that determines if we can be friends, “Do raisins belong in baked goods?”
Sarah is doing something real special on her blog so please give it a bookmark. It’s vintagedishandtell.com.
Season 2 Episode 9
Of course, you can tell just by the length of this episode, Sarah and I hit it off instantly. We talk about a lot and could have been here a couple more hours.
You won’t be able to listen without wanting to bake at least one of the many recipes she shared. More importantly, Sarah will inspire you to get into the kitchen with your loved ones to learn alongside them how to make some of your family’s cherished dishes. You’ll be so excited that you’ll make it happen before it’s too late.
In addition to the thrift and antique shops Sarah told us about, she sent me a list of the coffee shops and cafes she can’t drive past without stopping. Read about all of them later in this post.
While you’re tuned in to Sarah’s Funeral Potatoes & Wool Mittens podcast episode (S2 E9), check out her photos, recipes and recommendations below. She included fun anecdotes for us too!
Sarah: These are true examples of “dish and tell” where I go and cook or bake someone’s cherished, family recipe alongside them!
Recipes in this Episode on Sarah’s Vintage Dish and Tell Blog
- Party Lasagna: this was the recipe from my Aunt Jeannie who is famous for her lasagna parties!
- Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies: This is the first recipe I posted on my blog as these cookies are so special to me. My mom would make them all the time for me and now I make them for my kids. This is also the recipe that won me a third place ribbon at the Minnesota State Fair in 2022.
- Lucy’s Juicy Tater Tot Hot Dish is a twist on a Juicy Lucy that is taste-test approved by my daughter Lucy. It includes a flavorful layer of ground beef, flavored with ketchup, mustard, caramelized onions and Grainbelt-infused cheese binder. This is topped with American cheese, then another layer of the ground beef mixture that is topped with a layer of dill pickles and topped with Tater Tots!! This recipe won third place in a special contest, a Hot Dish competition, at the State Fair in 2021.
- Bars: Carol’s Krispies, Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Bars, Nut Goodie Bars
- Gluten-Free Coffee Rum Cake with Boozy Buttercream. This is the recipe for the cake that earned me a blue ribbon at the State Fair in 2021. I entered it in the gluten-free cake category.
A Few Seasonal Recipes
- Chocolate-Covered Cherry Bars
- French Crème Chocolate Mint Bars
- Ede’s Creamy Cucumbers
- Elaine’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
- Grandma Flossie’s Meat Pie
We Also Had a Fun Talk About These Recipes
Sarah: My mom’s [Carol] recipe she uses for “Funeral Potatoes.” It’s actually from Kemps! (Kemps Dreamy Sour Creamy Potatoes)
Sarah: My mother-in-law’s [Mary Lou] recipe for “Party Potatoes.”
Sarah shared her mom’s toffee bar recipe in the episode. I told her that I use a similar Paula Deen toffee bars recipe with graham crackers but I couldn’t think of the name. They are called Georgie Toffee Bars. Here’s the recipe.
Sarah’s life has been full of lovely, legendary ladies in the kitchen. She talks about a few of them on this episode, and her blog is full of their stories. I mean, how cool are these photos?
What a treasure to be loved and nurtured by all these women who are/were also amazing cooks and bakers! Sarah is assuredly and thoughtfully carrying on their legacies.
Sarah: I also mentioned a few of our family’s go-to recipes that haven’t been handed down from family or friends:
- Warm French Lentils (Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa)
- Red Rabbit Cavatelli with Sausage, Fennel and Lemon (Red Rabbit)
- Another one we love at our house but I don’t think we talked about on the podcast is a Chicken Wild Rice Hotdish from Amy Thielen.
Recommendations for Eats and Drinks in Minnesota
Sarah: I like to think where I’d take people if they are visiting St. Paul from out of town:
- The Nook: they have the best burgers and fries! Plus they have an old-school bowling alley in the basement. (Staci: My sisters and I would love bowling and eating burgers here on our annual sisters trip.)
- Mancinis: definite supper club vibes! They have huge booths and there always seems to be some good entertainment. And they have the best garlic toast! (Staci: Mancini’s looks like a romantic date night destination. We’re married so the garlic toast will be fine. And oh! There’s a relish tray.)
- The Neighborhood Café is a cute café in my neighborhood that is our go-to if we go out for breakfast. (Staci: The Tex Mex sounds delicious.)
- Our best local bakery would have to be Wuollets on Grand Avenue. It’s got multiple locations throughout the Twin Cities but we are loyal fans as the Woullett family lived near my husband’s family when he was growing up. They have awesome rolls and beautiful cookie trays at the holidays. We also order cakes from them for special occasions. (Staci: Been here! Love it.)
- If you like a fancy French bakery with croissants etc. there are two that are amazing in St. Paul including Marc Heu Patisserie and Rose Street Patisserie. (Staci: I need to try Marc Hue’s croissants and kouign amann. Been to Patisserie 46 so will need to try their Rose Street location.)
Eating Up North in Minnesota
Sarah: I know we touched on Duluth and some places to check out up there…here are a few of our family’s favorite places to eat:
- Duluth Grill: This is my parents’ all-time favorite and we eat there ALL the time. They serve breakfast all day but also have amazing sandwiches and things like tacos, burritos…my dad always needs a cinnamon roll to go! (Staci: Whoa. They take biscuits and gravy to the next level. That’s what I’m ordering.)
- Bridgemans: I think this one of the last Bridgeman’s restaurants! It is locally owned and the food is amazing. It’s classic diner food but always great. And amazing service! (Staci: Northern Poutine and Southern Poutine?? I’m picking Southern. I love a good sausage gravy. Plus I like the retro colors of the restaurant.)
- The Pickwick: I love this place for many reasons! Good food, super cool old/historic building and I have so many memories of going here with my grandma many times through the years. She’d also order a Manhattan (sometimes 2) for lunch! (Staci: Great building! I’m already wanting three things and I’m not past the appetizers.)
- Va Bene: Such a great casual Italian eatery and it is right on the lake. They have a gorgeous porch ( I think it may be a four-season porch) and a deck right on the lake. No place better on a nice sunny day! (Staci: What a great setting by the lake. The menu is extensive and I’m here for it. I’ll need to book a room very nearby.)
And of course, there is Gordy’s Hi-Hat in Cloquet! It is legendary and “an institution” in Cloquet! I worked there through high school in every position from frying fish to making the onion rings on weekend mornings to working the grill and waiting on customers! (Staci: I want half of what Gordy’s is cooking up. Dang.)
On the Way to Duluth from St. Paul
On the way to Duluth from the Twin Cities, Tobies (Hinckley) is a must-stop..it’s half way between Duluth and the Twin Cities. There is a full restaurant and bakery but I usually just go to the adjacent Tobies’ gas station which also stocks a bakery case of Tobies’ goodies. I like to pick up a cinnamon roll for my dad (his favorite). (Staci: I’ve seen their big signs on the interstate. Now I know I’d be crazy not to stop. Thanks!)
Sarah’s Antique, Retro, and Thrifting Recommendations
Sarah: If you are in St. Paul, my little neck of the woods is so great for fun shopping! The Snelling/Selby neighborhood has several vintage shops including Betty’s Antiques, Succotash, Missouri Mouse and Mall of St. Paul (the last two are antique malls).
When I am not in my neighborhood, I like to venture out to Arc’s Value Village (there are a few locations in the Twin Cities) or Family Pathways (they are located in random towns between Cloquet and Duluth—a frequent trip I travel these days! These are my favorite stores to thrift at!
Where to Get More Of Sarah
That’s a wrap on this episode. Meeting Sarah and being able to share her story with all of you has been good for my soul. I’m hoping it will be for you too.
Overall, which recipe of hers will you try first? Today I’m feeling like I want to make Ede’s cucumbers, probably because I’ve been sick for a week and just want something fresh and healthy.
But when I’m back to my sweet-loving self, I will probably start with Carol’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Bars because I want to see how it differs from my mom, Linda’s, version (recipe pictured below). And if there’s a way to marry the two recipes for a special blended recipe between friends.
Additionally, I’m certain I need to make a batch of Aunt Sally Cookies because I love a soft molasses cookie.
So when you get into the kitchen with that special someone to learn a family recipe, be sure to take lots of notes and pictures. And then please, please tell me all about it by emailing me at email@example.com or message me on Instagram or Facebook.
I did that alongside my Grandma Janet to learn how to make her vintage white cookies. Until the day I die, I will say it was one of the best days of my life. By the following year, she was in a nursing home and would never make those cookies again.
So make time to do it now.
Thank you, Sarah, for sharing all this goodness from your family.