At the end of June, I attended the Better Angels National Conference with a friend in St. Louis, Missouri. We had a great time learning more about the organization and how we can help heal the political divide in the USA. People from all 50 states attended the conference. 

Better Angels is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization that helps all parties, but primarily Democrats and Republicans communicate better with one another, and find common ground. We learned a lot about talking across the political divide, depolarizing ourselves and how to participate in and lead a parliamentary debate.  

During our breaks, we ate at the best pizza place, Pi Pizza, walked to coffee shops and picked up my favorite foodie magazine “Feast,” which is only published in St Louis. Never in a million years would I think of St. Louis, Missouri as a foodie mecca, but it is. 

A few years ago, when I was visiting family, the magazine caught my eye. It’s a large 75-page, full-color magazine, dedicated to the local food culture in St. Louis. There is a perfect balance of where to eat out, what to cook if you’re staying in and it highlights farmers or people who produce local food. 

After paging through, I’m always inspired to create new recipes and find my own local restaurants and farmers who I can connect with in our part of the Midwest. 

As the political scene starts to heat up, I will be ready. I have new tools to talk across party lines and if that fails—I have some pretty darn good savory muffins I can share.

For more information about Better Angels or how to join, visit

Better Angels Muffins

Makes 12 muffins, serves 6

Adapted from Christy Augustin and Feast Magazine

• 1⁄2 cup sun-dried tomatoes 

• 2 ¼ cups flour 

• 2 tsp baking powder

• 1⁄2 tsp baking soda

• 1 tbsp sugar 

• 3/4 tsp garlic salt 

• 1⁄4 tsp black pepper 

• 1⁄2 cup Blue cheese or cheddar cheese, grated

• 3⁄4 cup Parmesan cheese, coarsely grated

• 1 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided

• 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

• 1⁄2 cup milk

• 1⁄2 cup sour cream or yogurt

• 1⁄3 cup oil

• 1 egg, beaten

In a bowl of hot water, soak the sun-dried tomatoes for 30 minutes; drain and pat dry with a paper towel. Chop into 1⁄4-inch pieces and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups or lightly spray with oil and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and soda, sugar, garlic salt and pepper. Add the cheese (reserving 1⁄2 cup Parmesan for the topping), 1/2 cup bacon (reserve remaining for the topping), basil and sun-dried tomatoes. 

In a small bowl, combine the remaining Parmesan and bacon; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, sour cream, oil and the egg. Pour into dry ingredients; stir until just combined—do not over mix or the muffins will be tough. Portion batter evenly into muffin cups. Sprinkle the reserved Parmesan cheese and bacon on top of each muffin. Bake until tops are golden brown—about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with butter.


Lisa Erickson, Osceola native, is Kanabec County Times’ food columnist. You can reach Lisa at or check out her blog at

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