Celebrate cedar with tongue and groove paneling and cedar plank salmon

Sauna parties offer wonderful opportunities to meet new guests and Clintgaragesaunaenjoy other folks’ cuisine contributions.  Last night was no exception.  Clint’s garage sauna and backyard provided a wonderful backdrop for this sauna party.  Esteemed guests included package designers from Target Headquarters, a swimsuit model recently relocated from Manhattan, the Sweat guru Mikkel Aaland (founder of The Perfect Sweat Summit) and Ben, an avid Great Lakes fisherman, who brought along a recent catch of Lake Michigan Salmon, preparing it on the grill using cedar plank.

Some say smell is the strongest of the five senses.  As a few of us showered after our final sauna round, the distinctive smell of cedar – this time waifing off the grill – evoked memories of building sauna benches, paneling sauna interiors, and enjoying saunas at the lake.

Celebrate cedar and your sauna build.  Keep a stack of remnant cuts of tongue and groove cedar, and grill up some cedar plant salmon during one of your sauna parties:

post sauna salmon

Four other after sauna food ideas are presented here.

The Friday happy hour sauna

Friday afternoon is a time we all collectively exhale.

Those of us worker bees can finally close down our laptops and enjoy a little “me time.”

“Me time” takes on different meanings for everybody.

For a bunch of years now in a Minneapolis, Minnesota backyard, a devoted rotating cast of characters have been getting together on Friday afternoons to enjoy a happy hour sauna.

Most:

  • Show up in their work garb, carrying a little gym bag.
  • Pour a beer in their nICE mug before starting round one.
  • Radiate a huge grin after a hot sauna round and an ice cold water dunk.
  • Avoid looking at their smart phones for as long as possible.
  • Enjoy a fully relaxed sauna session, then
  • Finally look at the time and smile “I think I can get one more round in.”

If there is a better way to kick off the weekend than a 3 round happy hour sauna, please advise.

 

The Birmingham Sauna: the enthusiasm isn’t all positive.

There is a 7 mile long island on Lake Vermilion along the edges of the Boundary Water Canoe Area in Northern Minnesota.  On this island there sits a string of about a dozen or so cabins, many dating back to times before electricity and power boats.  One of these cabins has this sauna by it’s shores and along a foot path that connects an informal community of summer dwellers.

The Birmingham Sauna has seen multiple uses for generations and, like most lake cabin saunas, its changing room holds life jackets and towels hanging on hooks, a sawhorse for storing a fishing boat motor, a couple cots for visitor spillover.  Generations have used the Birmingham Sauna for getting clean, an encouragement for a plunge in the cool lake, and as a gathering spot for a three round relaxing social sauna session with neighbors along the path.

The time for sauna is announced, and one or two enthusiasts work their way down the path with towel draped around their neck.  Yet not all along this trail are into the sauna experience.  Passing by the Reader cabin: “Hey Jack, want to come sauna?”  and for years, he’s had the same answer: “if I want to sweat, i’ll go back to Southern Illinois.”  Then there’s the lore of Grandpa Gollan’s response:  “I’d rather hit myself over the head with a ball peen hammer.”

Sauna isn’t for everyone, there are enthusiasts and emphatic critics.  The enthusiasts keep coming, and the critics shake their head no.

 

SAUNA & CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL

I can’t think of a better way to end the work week and kick off the weekend than to entertain some friends at my home with a three beer sauna on Friday night.

My friends arrive around 8ish and meander around, get their things ready, change their clothes and fill up their water bottles. We get into the sauna and then finally get a chance to catch up and learn about new happenings while the smell of sage fills the air. People begin to decompress and its time to punctuate the moment with a blast of steam. In between sauna rounds, the cold Fall night cools off the bathers and its soon time for the next round. Nothing like an ice cold beer in your sauna on Friday night!  By the end of the third round, everyone is completely relaxed and in the right frame of mind. A great way to top off the evening is with a bowl of hearty chicken noodle soup, especially on a cold night.

Below is my favorite recipe. You can make it the day before so you’re not rushing around before your guests arrive.

MAKES ABOUT 3 QUARTS, SERVING 6 TO 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), breast removed and split, remaining chicken cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium onions , cut into medium dice
  • 2 quarts boiling water
  • Table salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large carrot , peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 medium rib celery , sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups egg noodles (8 ounces), preferably wide
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • A pinch of Cayenne

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 1. Heat oil in large soup kettle. When oil shimmers and starts to smoke, add chicken breast halves; sauté until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add half of chopped onions to kettle; sauté until colored and softened slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside. Add half of chicken pieces; sauté until no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with onions. Sauté remaining chicken pieces. Return onions and chicken pieces (excluding breasts) to kettle. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken releases its juices, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to high; add boiling water along with both breast halves, 2 teaspoons salt, bay leaves and cayenne. Return to simmer, then cover and barely simmer until chicken breasts are cooked and broth is rich and flavorful, about 20 minutes.
  2. 2. Remove chicken breasts from kettle; set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove skin from breasts, then remove meat from bones and shred into bite-size pieces; discard skin and bone. Strain broth; discard bones. Skim fat from broth, reserving 2 tablespoons. (Broth and meat can be covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.)
  3. 3. Return soup kettle to medium-high heat. Add reserved chicken fat. Add remaining onions, along with carrot and celery; sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, along with broth and chicken; simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors meld, 10 to 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings, stir in parsley, and serve.

 

Twin Cities Sauna Club Three Beer Sauna

Most people know that mixing alcohol intoxication with sauna can be deadly, especially if you add in heart problems.  

On the other hand, combining beer with sauna or vodka with the banya or shvitz seems to be a common cultural practice for traditional Finns and Russians. 

Is there a temperate way to combine alcohol with sauna?

The Twin Cities Sauna Club offers the following procedure:

1. Beer in cans is best. There is no threat of broken glass. The beer can be kept cold by insulating the can using a beer coolie.

2. Place beers in the freezer for about 15 minutes, meanwhile go into the sauna for the first round. After the first round drink only water.

3. Insert super-cold beer into beer coolie. Bring one beer into the sauna during rounds #2 and #3. Drink water between rounds. The last beer is for the recuperation period after the sauna session.

Please post your thoughts.

When to use a Sauna to Cure a Hangover

There are mixed opinions on the use of sauna as a hangover remedy. Some say the best way to heal is to detox by sweating it out. Others advise against it based on sauna causing dehydration. A 1988 Finnish study found that the hangover phase exposes a person to cardiac arrhythmias.

In my opinion, its not a question of “if” but rather “when?” When using sauna to cure a hangover, timing is everything.

First let’s define a hangover. Symptoms of the run-of-the-mill hangover from a bout of binge drinking generally include headache, nausea, sensitivity to light and noise, lethargy, dysphoria, diarrhea and thirst. In addition to the physical symptoms, a hangover may also induce psychological symptoms including heightened feelings of depression and anxiety.

Binge drinking is defined as 3 drinks or more for a woman and 5 drinks or more for a man. The full spectrum of hangover effects last longer than you might expect. Cognitive deficits can be measured for up to 2.3 days after a bout of binge drinking. That means if you binge drink on Saturday night, you will be stupider until Tuesday.

Now, let’s remember that sauna is a form of exercise. See Sweat Therapy Theory. Yes sauna causes relaxation and stress relief but don’t forget, its goddamn 180° F in there! The moment you close that sauna door, your sympathetic nervous system starts mobilizing. A good rule of thumb is that if you are feeling so bad that you are unable to exercise, then don’t go in a sauna. In fact, a good protocol to follow to cure a hangover is to first hit the gym and then sauna. I would advise against sauna soon after waking hungover. Instead, start with other remedies like water, food, and aspirin. Plan on using the sauna in the late afternoon or evening.

There are many therapeutic features of sauna that help cure a hangover. The quiet serene setting, dimmed lighting, and mellow music can be powerful medicine. Sauna can also help you hydrate. If I lose a quart of sweat in the sauna, I drink about two quarts of water during the experience.  Additionally, Sauna stimulates food intake, relieves anxiety and depression, and promotes deeper sleep – a powerful anti-hangover activity.

If used thoughtfully, sauna can be a great antidote to the hangover blues.

Sauna Party tip #7: Marty’s Law of Reverse Cycling.

So, you’re at a sauna party and you find yourself sitting next to someone you really don’t want to be with.  Hey, it happens.  It’s rare – those into sauna are generally grounded, fun, personable – but it can happen.  So, what do you do?

Reverse Cycle.

What is Reverse Cycling?  As you sit next to the blubbering, babbling, buffoon, act surprised, get up and announce your departure from the hot room. Good reasons to exit include:

  • “I have to hit the bathroom.”
  • “Fiddlesticks, I have to make a quick call.”
  • Or just the vague “I’ll be back.”

AVOID ANNOUNCING::

  • “I’m going to go grab a beer” – Buffoon may ask you to bring him one.
  • “I don’t feel well”-  Buffoon may show false sympathy and want to exit to sit with you and babble more.

With you safely outside the sauna hot room, you are free to do whatever.  Keep an eye or ear out for Buffoon: chances are he’ll not be far behind.  Meet Buffoon’s exit with your entrance back into the sauna.  You’re now Reverse Cycling.

Buffoon will not last long alone cooling down, so save tossing water on the rocks for Buffoon’s reentry into sauna.  You will be cooled and fresh, Buffoon will be hot and bothered.  Greet Buffoon’s reentry into sauna with a generous dousing of water on sauna rocks.  This should drive Buffoon back out of sauna, freeing you up for a nice, relaxing sauna round.  Buffoon may try to re enter, and that’s OK and to be expected.  Greet the re entry with more water on the rocks.  You will be well into your sauna round by then, and you’re that much closer to your cool down.

Buffoon will find himself completely reverse cycled.

Sometimes, you may need to Reverse Cycle by prolonging your cool down.  Buffoon may be talking your ear off when all you want to do is chill out.  If Buffoon has been out of the sauna longer than you, chances are, Buffoon will want to get back in the sauna well before you.  This is good.  Encourage another round (“man, it’s cold out here”), letting Buffoon go in the sauna first.  You can chill out in peace, Reverse Cycling.

After a few tactical moves along these lines, you should have no problem enjoying your sauna.. sans Buffoon.

 

Saunas work, no matter who shows up

You can’t play tennis alone.  You can golf on your own, maybe hit a second ball, enjoy the solitude between belting out a swear word or two.  No “who’se up next?” on the green.  You see people going to a movie solo, and we know it’s a chuckle to go to a movie on a date.  You can’t talk in a movie theater anyway.  Some like to watch a football match alone at home, others like to be at a bar with a big crowd.

When you do stuff, there’s advantages to being alone, and advantages to being with other people.

Same with sauna.

A solo sauna is a fantastic time for reflecting, planning, chilling.  Lots of people find it effective to read or write in the sauna or simply tune out, as hitting that ‘reset button’ is sure a sweet thing.

A two person sauna is an opportunity for one on one.  Maybe a friend you haven’t seen in a while, maybe your son or daughter or spouse, or a work colleague.  One’s place on the sauna bench is clearly defined throughout the sauna session.  If the conversation gets stale or is at a point of needing reflection, one can leave the sauna and hang outside and both parties can think about things on their own.  There’s social time and as much solo time as you want during a two person sauna session.

A three person sauna really works great.  As I own three saunas, sauna three times a week, and enjoy three beers during my three sauna rounds, it seems only natural to acknowledge the power of three.  A three person sauna session can add all the benefits of a solo sauna and a two person sauna.  Two people can be in conversation, one can be reflecting.  There’s a nice flow, where one person goes for a cool down, then the other two are left deciding whether they’re driving each other crazy or actually enjoying each others company.

A four person sauna… well, you get the idea.  There’s power in four, too:  four golfers to a foursome, two couples out to dinner, or playing a board game.  The point is…

saunas work no matter who shows up to your sauna party. It’s all a sprinking of good vibes.

Sauna changing room window during a winter storm

Before Sauna

After Sauna

Empty water jugs, water bottles, empty beer or two: a messy windowsill isn’t such a bad thing, it personifies enjoyment.

 

 

The Loppet Feb. 5-6, Minneapolis MN sauna at the 'Finnish' line

Sauna gets delivered to Loppet Festival

The saunatimes posse brought the mobile sauna to Uptown Minneapolis yesterday.  Driving the 8′ x 12′ sauna down Lake Street in the heart of Minneapolis, heads turned and a small crowd gathered to watch us set up the mobile sauna at  The City of Lakes Loppet, a cross-country ski festival featuring the beautiful trails and lakes of the Twin Cities.  The sauna is clean and warm and ready to go!

Ski and sauna – a great pair

Like gin and tonic, Buffalo wings and beer, sauna and ski go well together.  There’s no better way to relax after a long ski than taking an authentic Finnish sauna.  Sore muscles are soothed, cold clammy skin is warmed, and you’ll be clean and recharged after tossing some cold water over your head after a hot sauna round.  Towel off and grab a Surly at the beer tent next door.  What a great way to start and finish a sauna party!

It’s time to get even with winter

Wherever you live, I’m sure you’ve been faced with cabin fever at some point.  For us, this winter has been especially intense.  It snowed heavy in Mid December and has been piling up ever since.  Snow piles are 6′ tall.  Sidewalks are more like hamster trails, roads narrowed to one lane.  Everyone knows someone who has been in a car accident or has a horror story of a 20 minute drive turning out to be a 3 hour crawl. Well, this is the springboard for ‘get even time.’  This is what winter festivals are all about!  Thousands will be at the Loppet this weekend, partaking in snow sculptures, ski races and general revelry of “enough already!”

The winter attitude

Living in a cold climate, there are two types of people, those that know what’s on daytime TV and those that know when to go outside and toss cold water over their heads.  Winter attitude is enhanced when we can get outside in winter.  Winter attitude is enhanced when we can gather and celebrate in fitness and recreation.  Saunas enhance all this.

The plan to take a sauna:

  1. Lock valuables in your car.
  2. Bring small gym bag with sandals and towel.
  3. Wear bathing suit underneath or change: his/her changing tent adjacent to the mobile sauna.
  4. Enter sauna and stay as long as you are comfortable (usually 10-15 minutes).
  5. When you’re too hot for anything else, step outside and dunk some water over your head (we’ll have fresh water available).
  6. Repeat or go change.

One rule: CLOSE THE SAUNA DOOR!

Exclusive offer

People pay $30 and up for a similar experience at spa’s and health clubs.  The difference here is that you have a chance to take an authentic wood burning Finnish sauna, free.  This is a limited exclusive offer.  Though saunatimes cannot guarantee space in the sauna at the time you arrive, we guarantee that it will be hot when you do get in the sauna.  Therefore, we have a limited number of exclusive sauna access codes.  Simply mention the following keyword phrase to the saunatimes staff for exclusive VIP  sauna access:

“i’m looking for a healthy escape”

See you at the ‘Finnish’ line.