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Voyageur's Best Generally Speaking Columns of 2003

Fred Church

SCHOOL HOUSE
 
wraps a good meal
 
by Cynthia Brekke  |  July 1, 2003
 

This week, we ventured across Country House Lane to the School House Cafe. It seems that, every time one passes by the School House as of late, they’re busier and busier. What’s the draw? What else? Good, home-cooked specials and tasty treats!

Our Wednesday cook was Judy Thompson. Judy was raised in Sandstone, Minn., but has lived in the area for about 27 years. She started working in the cooking field when she was thirteen-years old, and turned 62 this past March. She’s done other things in-between. “I cooked at Jack’s Shack for 14 years. I also worked at the Northwoods Cafe, when that first opened.”

One nice thing about the School House Cafe is that their specials are as close to homemade as you can get. The special last Wednesday was the roast beef, served with mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, cole slaw, a freshly baked dinner roll and a cookie and jello for dessert. I appreciated the fact that the mashed potatoes were real.

They will substitute instant,but only if they run out of fresh.

Judy is going into her fifth year with the School House and has definitely been an asset there. Her cooking skills have also spilled over to her sons, Don and Mike. “One is cooking at Embers in Duluth, on 27th street up there.” Neither attended school for cooking... it came from Mom. “They both learned over at Northwoods Cafe. When that opened up they worked over there with me,” Judy said. “The oldest one (Don) then went out to Fireside, and he worked at Mark’s for a while.” His cooking career ended, however, when he had surgery on his back and could no longer take the hours of standing.

The School House Cafe is not a ‘greasy spoon’... in other words, you won’t walk out smelling like a deep fryer because they don’t have one. It’s clean, smoke-free environment, along with the good food, makes many folks come back for more.

Judy’s favorite at the Country House is the Veggie Grill, and it’s what they go through the most. “I like to eat that the best,” she laughed. She and Brenda also like to ‘shake things up’ once in a while by throwing in something new, a tactic that keeps you guessing. The new offering is the Fruit Wrap, a blend of kiwi, strawberries and banana, with a special vinegrette sauce, which is wrapped inside a tortilla and topped with strawberry sauce and dotted with whipped cream. Watermelon, grapes and cantaloupe grace the side of this tasty wrap.

We hope we’ve given you enough of a ‘taste’ of what Judy cooks up at the School House Cafe, so that you’ll want to take your appetite over and feast. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget, though, to compliment the cook.

This article first appeared in the July 1, 2003 issue of the Voyageur Press.