Where do you make a special stop for the holidays?

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Cold outside, but warm and inviting inside.

Cold outside, but warm and inviting inside.

It’s not Christmas until you get your ham from Schmidt’s.

For the past several years, we’ve driven the 40 miles to Nicollet to get the ham. I’m sure grocery store hams are fine, but for an important meal I like to rely on a small, local shop that specializes in only meat. (And the “best” shop! Schmidt’s was WCCO’s viewer’s choice for best sausage in Minnesota).

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A wide selection of brats.

Pounds upon pounds of summer sausage--the best.

Pounds upon pounds of summer sausage. I love this stuff so much. I always get Schmidt’s original.

Bacon!

Bacon!

Based on the compliments the Schmidt’s ham always gets at my Christmas dinner, I think I’m making a smart choice.

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I only wish pictures could capture smells. I want to spend hours at Schmidt’s just to absorb the aroma of seasoning and meat.

Going to the meat market takes me back in time. In the 1970s and 1980s, in small-town Minnesota, women like my mom were caught between two eras. Supermarkets were proliferating, and Mom could get most of her shopping done at Red Owl or Erickson’s.

Yet, she also stopped at the specialty stores still operating in Waseca. Bread and other baked goods at Preuss’ Bakery, and meat at Lau’s Meat Market. We also got home delivery of milk and other dairy staples weekly through Sampson’s Dairy Products (with the delivery man who looked like Tom Selleck!).

Are we giving up something for the sake of convenience? Taste, quality, service? I must say the folks at Schmidt’s know how to serve the customer. In the days leading up to Christmas, you will never find a “slow” time at the store. We were there around 4:30 p.m. on Friday, and there were probably three dozen people milling about. But the shop is well-staffed and even with all those people, the wait is not long.

Plus, Kathy (our helpful Schmidt’s employee) suggested that I let the ham sit in 7-Up while it’s warming. I’ve always just used water and toward the end cover it with mustard/brown sugar, but her 7-Up and pineapple suggestion sounded delicious.

Any special stops you make for your holiday meal?

A holiday tradition: the stop at Schmidt's Meat Market.

A holiday tradition: the stop at Schmidt’s Meat Market.

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