The King for Eternity
Arnold Palmer's impact on golf will live forever.
Flying into grand forks, North Dakota, in winter, you can see the wind before you feel it. Snow sifts across the ashy grid of farms and empty roads, blown into rippling ribbons by an arctic wind that knows no end. If a first-timer had any doubts she had landed at the far end of the Midwest, a sign outside the airport plots the location in stark terms: Turn right for Fargo, left for Winnipeg.
Or go straight, through town. Cross the state line into East Grand Forks, Minnesota, drive a ways up a country highway, and pull up to a tiny ranch home hidden behind a windbreak of thick pines. Inside, Molly Yeh pads around her postage-stamp kitchen in wool socks, arranging cupcakes she's testing for her first cookbook, Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm (Rodale, $32.50). Made with last spring's rhubarb, they cast a ray of warm sunshine into a very, very cold day.
Raised in the Chicago suburbs by her Chinese father and Jewish mother, Molly went East for school and studied percussion at Juilliard. There she met Nick Hagen, a Norwegian-American trombonist who was beginning to realize he wanted to go home to Minnesota. One summer Molly visited his family's fifth-generation farm and realized she was craving a quiet life, too. “Nick never wanted to pressure me,” she says. “Finally I told him, ‘I'm moving out here whether you're with me or not.’”
After arriving in 2013, Molly dived into her blog (mynameisyeh.com), mastering photography and cooking feverishly. She and Nick married in 2015. On days when rural domesticity felt more like culture shock and loneliness, food bridged the divide. Molly embraced Nick's mom's tater tot hot dish, and his family, in turn, welcomed her Israeli eggs in tomatoes. When she craved good pizza or Vietnamese banh mi, she got busy and made her own. And like her own mother, Molly baked challah (HAH-lah), a rich, glossy Jewish egg bread traditionally served on the Sabbath.
“This dough is so lovely to work with,” she explains, stretching a pillowy ball into three golden ropes. “It's like my comfort blanket. I use it for everything.” In Molly's hands, challah takes many forms. Petite spirals receive a modern flurry of flaky sea salt. A braid threaded with green onions pays tribute to her Asian heritage. Cardamom-flecked buns echo the Scandinavian Christmas breads Nick's ancestors might have baked.
In fact, as Molly pulls loaves from the oven and Nick stamps snow from his boots, the memory of those hardy homesteaders feels startlingly close. Then and now, the surest way to stay warm on a vast, frozen prairie is to wrap yourself in the flavors of home.
While traveling in Israel, Molly discovered hawaij, a spice blend often sprinkled in coffee. She adds it to her coconut-based hot chocolate for extra flavor.
Hands On: 10 minutes Total: 10 minutes
Hawaij: In a jar, combine 1 tablespoon each ground ginger and ground cardamom; ¼ teaspoon each ground nutmeg, ground cloves and ground cinnamon; and ⅛ teaspoon salt.
Per Serving 246 cal, 13 g fat, 0 mg chol, 97 mg sodium, 29 g carbo, 0 g fiber, 5 g pro.
Molly's soft, slightly chewy, Scandi-esque rolls are ideal for brunch or even as a sweet complement to a holiday dinner.
Hands On: 35 minutes Total: 3 hours 30 minutes
*Shopping tip: Swedish pearl sugar is a coarse, crunchy white sugar that doesn't melt in the oven. It's a bit hard to find, but King Arthur Flour is a good online source.
Per Serving 257 cal, 9 g fat, 31 mg chol, 107 mg sodium, 37 g carbo, 1 g fiber, 6 g pro.
Molly's challah works like a dream. (The whole-wheat variation is especially delicious.) The recipe yields four small loaves but halves easily to make just two.
Hands On: 35 minutes Total: 3 hours 35 minutes
Whole-Wheat Challah: Substitute up to 2½ cups whole-wheat flour for an equal amount of all-purpose flour. (This dough may take slightly longer to rise.)
Per Serving 212 cal, 7 g fat, 39 mg chol, 155 mg sodium, 31 g carbo, 1 g fiber, 5 g pro.
Molly's Classic Challah dough is the base for this riff on a Chinese takeout favorite.
Hands On: 15 minutes Total: 1 hour 40 minutes
Per Serving 172 cal, 7 g fat, 35 mg chol, 120 mg sodium, 24 g carbo, 1 g fiber, 4 g pro.
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