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Fresh-baked pasties, a Finnish tradition, at Kirk’s

JULY 6, 2009

Mary Raisanen and Betsy Niemela make pasties and cater, too

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

COKATO, MN - Six weeks of sold-out fresh-baked pasties at Kirk’s Travel Plaza shows just how word gets around in a small town like Cokato.

Betsy Niemela and Mary Raisanen of Cokato have teamed up to make and bake fresh, homemade pasties and sell them at Kirk’s Travel Plaza.

The duo begins at 5 a.m. preparing and making breakfast pasties to be ready for customers at 6 a.m.

Last Wednesday, the pasties were sold out by 8 a.m.

“They’re a big hit,” Raisanen said.

They make and sell two kinds of pasties – the breakfast pasty with scrambled eggs, hash browns, cheese, and Italian sausage wrapped in a flour dough that bakes to a flaky, crisp, crust.

The other is a traditional pasty, which is more familiar around Cokato, Niemela said. It is filled with beef, pork, carrots, and rutabaga.

Breakfast pasties are sold from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. or gone, and the traditional pasties can be purchased fresh from 9:30 a.m. until gone, or already baked in the freezer section to be heated at home.

The breakfast pasty is new to the area, Raisanen said.

She recently tried her first breakfast pasty while visiting Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Making pasties at Kirk’s has been fun for these two ladies who spent the majority of their working years in a corporate setting.

They enjoy the interaction with the people who come into the store.

Though they now only make the two kinds of pasties, they are looking into making other varieties such as vegetarian and Spanish pasties.

They also enjoy getting feedback from their customers, which can guide them in the future.

Not only can a person come into the store to get the fresh-baked pasties, but they can also call ahead and order pasties for different events such as company meetings, brunches, showers, etc.

The two really appreciate Kirk Asplin, owner, for the use of the Godfather’s Pizza kitchen and allowing them to sell their pasties to his customers.

To order pasties from Kirk’s, call (320) 286-0009.

Asplin asks his customers to come in and try the pasties.

“They are delicious,” Asplin said.

Elbows Allowed Distinct Catering

Along with the pasties, Raisanen and Niemela have started their own catering business called Elbows Allowed Distinct Catering.

They cater everything from hors d’oeuvres at small, quaint events to dinner for larger events such as weddings.

Some of the specialty menu items are ribs, pulled pork, a signature potato salad, and fruit bouquets.

They also bake cakes for special occasions.

Some of the hors d’oeuvres they have served are prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and spinach cheese pastries.

Good food and ambiance are what the two really want to emphasize about their catering business.

“It’s about creating an experience for people that is still formal, but fun,” Niemela said.

Many of the foods used are purchased locally, and the duo believes in giving back to the community. For example, the two made pasties for a family whose loved one was going through chemotherapy.

“Pasties are so easy, just put them in the oven,” Niemela said.

The two have grown up together, with their moms being best friends, and now, they too share a special friendship and business partnership.

The name, Elbows Allowed, was actually one that came from another friend and it just stuck, according to Raisanen.

They wanted a name that would convey “a fabulous food experience in a stress-free environment.”

For more information about Elbows Allowed Distinct Catering, visit their web site at www.elbowsallowed.com or call Niemela at (612) 229-1703 and Raisanen at (612) 845-6573.


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