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New 'Painted Sisters' take-out uses only local, organic food

Organically, sustainably, and locally grown: Those are the main criteria that Donna Aase and Pamela Standing use when searching out foods to use as ingredients for the meals they make -- from scratch -- to serve to clients of their new luncheon takeout service, Painted Sisters.

As they prepared their first meal for pickup last Wednesday, the Painted Sisters showed that they provide a truly unique dining experience: everything is made from scratch, using foods that are as close to completely natural as it is possible to get. In fact, even the containers they are served in are 100 percent biodegradable and compostable -- right down to the forks and spoons, which are made from corn starch-based bioplastics. Even the plastic drinking cups really aren't plastic, although they look like it.

And the compartmentalized serving containers used to distribute the food are made from bagasse, a substance resembling heavy-duty cardboard that is made from sugar cane fiber.

But of course, none of this is as important as the biggest criteria of all for determining whether their business will succeed: how the food tastes.

"We have a creative menu," Aase says.

During the summer months, that menu will include a choice between at least three different salads, two unique salad dressings, two varieties of bread and a hand-made cracker, as well as two desserts and two made-from-scratch beverages.

The menus that they send out to clients -- mostly via e-mail, to promote a "paperless" ordering service -- will also provide a little information about the local growers and producers from whom they purchased the ingredients, such as raw maple sugar and honey, organically grown herbs, vegetables and fruits.

The introductory fax sent to new customers says: Painted Sisters is committed to buying from Minnesota growers and producers who are concerned with nutritional value; sound water and energy resource management; with an emphasis on recycling and reuse; who provide a safe and fair work environment and commit to continuous improvement of these sustainable practices."

The goal, Aase notes, is to make clients aware that some of these local producers and growers exist.

Plus, Standing adds, "if you buy from local producers, they're getting a fair price for their product -- and you're also establishing a relationship with them. If you support the growers and producers that practice good stewardship, that's going to help them stay in business."

Each menu is planned to include a unique blend of tastes, with everything first sampled and approved by the pair's volunteer "taste testers."

Though they test their new recipes at home, however, all the meals for Painted Sisters are prepared in a certified commercial kitchen at the Anishinaabe Center in Detroit Lakes.

Some future recipes that may be on the menu for Painted Sisters' next luncheons, set for Aug. 3 and 16, include Mango Chicken Wild Rice Salad and Spicy Pad Thai Salad.

Each month's menus -- for the time being, Painted Sisters will be offering luncheons twice a month, with the goal of eventually making it a weekly service -- will be seasonally oriented, Standing says.

"We'll introduce each menu with something that's seasonably available," she adds.

The entire process of cooking, baking and salad preparation takes about three days, Aase notes, though the finishing touches aren't added until the day of the luncheon.

"We want everything to be really fresh," Standing explains, adding that they hope the meals "don't just taste good, they make you feel good."

"We're offering real food here," she continues.

"It's not prepackaged or pre-made," Aase adds.

For the time being, Painted Sisters will only be offering the meals for pickup -- no delivery or on-site dining. However, Standing notes, "as this grows, we may look at adding that on as well."

Menus will be sent out by e-mail to clients about a week before each luncheon, with the stipulation that they be returned by a specified date so that the partners will have enough food on hand -- but not too much.

"We live in such a wasteful society," Standing explains. "We want to avoid as much of that as possible."

Aase and Standing are also available for catering, and they are planning a bake sale for Aug. 25-26, where they will have a variety of breads, rolls, muffins and other baked delicacies on display for purchase.

For more information about upcoming luncheons offered by Painted Sisters, or to be added to their client list, call 218-847-9407, send a fax to 866-684-8346, or e-mail them at

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454