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Edible Antics

Touring Wisconsin Food

Category: Growing ‘n Raising WI Foods (page 1 of 3)

Cranberries, Apples and Barbeque, Oh My!

The fall harvest festivals in bountiful Wisconsin continue this weekend.  The weather is forecasted to be a beautiful late summer early fall sampling of delight.  So what’s your pleasure?


Gays Mills Apple orchard

The city of Gays Mills in southwestern Wisconsin along with a number of area apple orchards celebrate the Gays Mills Apple Festival.  Saturday and Sunday both have scheduled events for the whole family.   This part of Wisconsin is the drift less region where it was not subjected to the glacial smoothing of the north eastern part of the state.  As a result there are picturesque hills and valleys with twisty roads and overlooks.  The ridges above Gays Mills are home to a number of apple orchards that welcome you with their offerings of apples, turnovers, cider, donuts and a sampling of dairy products from the area.

cranberry guys

Ocean Spray Cranberry harvest

The area in central Wisconsin around Warrens hosts their annual Cranberry Festival.  Cranberries are a major agricultural product for Wisconsin and we rank number one in production with over 60% of the nation’s total output harvested here.  This festival in Warrens celebrates all things cranberry with over 1.300 artisan display booths that stretch out over three miles.  You can take tours of nearby cranberry producing bogs, explore the large arts and crafts fair or sample cranberry themed food products.

beef A Rama Minocqua 2015

Grilling at Beef- A-Rama

There is also a Swiss influenced Octoberfest in New Glarus along with other October fests in a large number of communities throughout Wisconsin.   Or the Beef-A-Rama in Minocqua.  Or the Brew-B-Que in Lodi.  The Travel Wisconsin website is a great resource to find happenings in your area.


Wisconsinmade deluxe cranberry assortment

We hope you and your family can get out there and enjoy this beautiful fall weekend of food fun in Wisconsin.  And if you need quick access to these scrumptious food items check out the cranberry items the apple items and all of our meat selections on

All of them are:

Made with Pride and Passion in Wisconsin

Rhubarb Season – The Best Rhubarb Foods From Wisconsin

Rhubarb season is upon us! My memories of rhubarb come from a visit to my Grandma’s house. She grew rhubarb in her garden and it resembeled a red stalk of celery. She cooked it up with sugar for a sort of tart apple sauce like concoction, without the apples. My rhubarb experience has expanded and I’ve tried some other tasty rhubarb foods like these:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie- One of the most common ways to serve rhubarb is baked up in a pie with strawberries like this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie by Bea’s Ho-made Pies, a Wisconsin company based in Door County. If you want to taste Bea’s pie for yourself, you can have one shipped to your door from

Vodka Cosmo Cranberry Rhubarb Jam -The artisans at Spirit of Wisconsin know how to combine fruit and Wisconsin-made liquors to create amazing jams, relishes and preserves.  The Vodka Cosmo Cranberry Rhubarb Jam- try to say that ten times fast! – comes in a elegant gift box with other fun spreads and dips. This makes a great gift for birthdays, anniversaries or even a Wisconsin wedding.

Rhubarb Kringle – A Kringle is a giant Danish pastry that is shaped like an oval and filled with scrumptious fillings. Fruit filled kringles are always a favorite and rhubarb kringles are only available for a limited time during rhubarb season, so have one shipped directly from the bakery to your door while you can.

Rhubarb Syrup – Sour rhubarb and bitter hops come together to create this unique syrup by Quince and Apple. The Tasting Table in Chicago tried it and said “good luck keeping this on the shelves!” because they loved it so much. You can add it to sparkling wine, soda water or your own cocktail creation.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy rhubarb?


Wisconsin Artisan Spotlight: Navarino Elk and Buffalo Ranch

wisc-artisan-navarino-1The artisans of Wisconsin make products with pride and passion, and Terry Diedrich of Navarino Valley Elk and Buffalo Ranch is the perfect example. Today I got the chance to talk to him about his business. Terry raises elk and buffalo and sells the meat to local restaurants and farmers market patrons. He also sells jerky and summer sausage on

Terry was born and raised in Wisconsin in a family of dairy farmers. He knew he wanted to work in agriculture, but he decided to work smarter. He learned that raising elk and buffalo would be less labor intensive than milking cows, and since elk and buffalo don’t mind a few hills, he could raise his animals on rough terrain. Today Terry has over 100 elk and 200 bison on his ranch.

After a few minutes of talking to Terry you can tell there’s a deeper purpose to his business than making elk jerky and buffalo burgers. Terry is committed to raising animals without the use of antibiotics and hormones. I asked him how people feel about less common meat varieties.

“Initially people didn’t get it,” Terry said, “But more and more people have learned about the health benefits of elk and bison.”

The health benefits he’s talking about are apparent when you compare elk and bison to more common meats like beef and pork.  Elk and buffalo have less fat, less cholesterol, and  more omega-3s. Terry also raises his animals free from hormones and antibiotics. Since the details of modern agriculture are too dull for a food fun blog, I won’t get into that, but let’s just say that Terry is committed to raising animals to make the best quality meat available.

Just for fun, I asked Terry about his favorite elk or buffalo dish. He loves a good gourmet burger, especially if there’s a homemade bun and gourmet toppings involved. You can find more yummy food photos on the Navarino Elk and Buffalo Ranch Facebook page, or shop for gift baskets of elk and bison sausage and jerky on

Have you ever tried elk or buffalo meat? What do you think?

As a special gift to Edible Antics readers, you can enter promotion code FUNBLOG at checkout to get 10% off food gifts at





Cranberry Salad

Mixing up a big helping of cranberry salad provides a much needed break from indulgent foods and cheese and sausage we eat here in Wisconsin, but like cheese and sausage, cranberries are a food of the Badger State- and a healthy food too! Cranberries and spinach provide antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber just to name a few of the health benefits. Walnuts contain omega-three fatty acids, and blue cheese- well, it’s still cheese- but since the blue stuff is so strong in flavor you can use less of it compared to more mild cheese. So believe it or not, you can eat Wisconsin and still eat healthy! Click “continue reading” to see the recipe.

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Cranberry Dessert Recipes

Cranberry dessert recipes are my favorite dessert recipes. Well, I like chocolate too. But serve me a cranberry dessert and I’m happy. And in autumn, folks tend to cook more with cranberries and give cranberry desserts and breads as fall harvest gifts. This is a good thing!

I wasn’t always this fanatical about cranberry desserts, cranberry breads, cranberry rice dishes, cranberry sauce, cranberry chutney, cranberry everything. I think my zeal has something to do with moving to Wisconsin.

Wisconsin is the leader in cranberry production and I can easily get awesome cranberries. Don’t be fooled into thinking a cranberry is a cranberry. Different climates grow different tasting cranberries and different processing companies dry and sweeten them with different methods and recipes. I like my cranberries tart, flavorful, and not sickly sweet.

I’m conscious of the health benefits of cranberries, and so as a parent, I’m always looking for ways to feed them to my children. My family would naturally tire of cranberries if my cranberry recipe repertoire was limited. But it isn’t. Keep reading for my newest find: Champion Cranberry Bars, and links to my other favorite great cranberry dessert recipes.

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Earth Day Activities: Plant Wisconsin Wild Foods And Weed Invasive Species

We’ve been spreading our Earth Day activities over an Earth-Day Week. On Monday, bare root hazelnut bushes arrived from The Arbor Foundation and demanded immediate planting. My neighbor and I divided them up to plant them.

Hazelnut bushes grow 8′ – 10′ high; they create excellent screens, and best of all give wild food that feeds the wild woodland animals roaming our Wisconsin backyards.

But to make room to plant the hazelnut bushes, we had to rip out European buckthorn. It’s an invasive species in Wisconsin that was introduced centuries ago because when young, the trees are good screens and spread rapidly. But the spreading is exactly the problem. This invasive species is so prolific that it soon dominates a landscape. Wisconsin’s native plants don’t have a chance. Buckthorn does give food, if you can call it that. Early Wisconsin residents used the berries as a diuretic.

Weeding European buckthorn is easy when the tress are tiny. Kids can help. So my neighbor and I hired our own children to pull buckthorn.   When the younger children wearied, we set them upon Wisconsin’s other invasive species, garlic mustard. The pretty white flowers on top of a garlic mustard stalk look innocent, but within a few years, garlic mustard plants will be wherever the buckthorn isn’t. This invasive species combo can kill a small, Wisconsin forest in 10 years.

So we were taking action against them. Perhaps four hazelnut bushes are not many, but they’re a start. And The Arbor Foundation practically gives them away.

If you’re interested in planting Wisconsin wild foods and cooking with them, then a must-have cookbook is Wisconsin Wild Foods: 100 Recipes For Badger State Bounties, by John Motoviloff. Keep reading for John’s hickory nut pancake recipe.

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Gender-Differences In Wisconsin Gardening Before A Killing Frost? Plus A Relish Recipe To Use Up Green Tomatoes

Something peculiar occurred in my part of the world this weekend. I wonder if it’s a statistical fluke or if there really is a gender difference in the way in which people respond to the forecast of impending winter. A common conversation-starter around here was, “I hear (heard) we’re going to have a killing frost this weekend.” And when I used this opener, my women friends all responded something like this:  “Yeah, I heard that too.”

“But I’m such a slacker; I didn’t bring my patio plants in.”

“Me neither. I’ve been so busy these past few weeks that at this point, I just don’t care about the plants any more. I’d planned to over-winter ’em, but I’m just lettin’ ’em die.”

“Yeah, me too. Instead of picking all my green tomatoes before the freeze I mended my daughter’s shirt while we watched kid-TV together. She came home Friday afternoon saying she had to dress like an insect for the school dance at 6:00 so I had to mend her yellow shirt. I hadn’t planned on slacking on the garden, but my child had to metamorphose.”

“Oh, I know how that goes. Last week I bought sale-perennials and haven’t even gotten ’em planted yet. But at least (fill in the blank name of husband) went out and picked the last of the peppers and the tomatoes. (Disappointed sigh.) Now I just have to freeze those.”

It’s that last line about the husband which is so curious. Of my friends it was the men in their lives who did the last minute harvesting. For example, my friend and I were driving home Saturday when her husband called to ask if I wanted a stalk of their garden Brussels sprouts. He’d busied himself picking squash and digging onions while we’d blown the whole garden bit off to take an autumn walk with another woman friend who likewise was blowing off her garden. And I have more friends than these; my other women friends were similarly un-engaged with they’re gardens. What was going on? Click on “continue reading…”for my hypothesis.

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Making Tomato Sauce Is One Way To Use Up Tomatoes; Now How To Use Up The Sauce?

All 39 tomato plants in my garden are doing well. My care of them as seedlings must be paying off because now, despite my current neglect, they are producing a bumper crop of tomatoes. Pictured is one day’s harvest. In my search for ways to use up tomatoes, tomato-1I found Anne Tedeschi’s recipe for Basic Blender Italian Tomato Sauce, and every day or so I make it. I modify it a bit by adding grated zucchini to the sauce because I’m trying to use up the zucchini in my garden also. Then I freeze the sauce in plastic bags for winter-time use. 

But I’ve been enjoying the sauce right out of the pot too. It’s great over pasta. And the other day I tried Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm’s recipe for Easy Eggplant Cheese Casserole. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe.

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Buy-local Movement Rooted In Wisconsin State Pride And Celebrated At The Bounty Of Green County Feast

In the few places I’ve lived, Illinois, Colorado, New England, and Wisconsin, each place had a special feel of its own. A region’s particular impression may be vague in my mind, but it’s there none the less. For example, my impression of Illinois is that it’s a backdrop for Chicago. All of the many Chicagoans I know “LOVE Chicago!” City corruption and inefficiencies?, – they just shrug at those, after all, nothing special about those, every cities got them. During my 5-year stay in Colorado I never met so many people who originated from somewhere else. The descendants of Colorado pioneers were a fiercely independent lot and a few were pretty vocal about wishing the rest of us would go home. I lived in New England during college and at that time I was pretty clueless about everything, including about the states I inhabited. Yet, folks in Vermont and New Hampshire impressed me as being pretty low-key, never showy or boastful. Each had his or her own way of doing things. They called it “the Yankee way”, and openly admitted that to them it meant “the right way”. But it was in Wisconsin where I first encountered an overwhelmingly strong exuberance of state pride.

I’ve lived in Wisconsin for 18 years now, but my status as a “Wisconsinite” is still pending. Most of the people I know here are 3rd and 4th generation Wisconsinites. They are rooted in the hard-working, family-committed, pioneer ethos of their farming ancestors. In pioneer times, settlers were typically generous with each other because to forge a life in such a harsh climate meant never knowing when you’d have to call on your neighbor for aid. This friendliness persists today. Beyond the neighborhood and into the workplace, farmers, producers, manufacturers, and consumers seem particularly aware of their inter-reliance. They economically support each other by preferentially buying from each other. No, this economic mutualism does not originate from snobby or exclusive sentiments. It’s grounded in a sincere value for the quality of goods made in Wisconsin. Folks here know their neighbors; they see how they make their products and run their businesses. They like what they see, and they tell their friends about it. If ever there was a grass-roots, buy-local movement, it’s vibrantly alive here in Wisconsin.

Wisconsinites’ state pride was on display Saturday night at the Bounty of Green County Feast. On the picturesque hilltop of the New Glarus Brewing Company, overlooking the hills, fields, and town of New Glarus, about 100 people gathered to share a 5-course dinner showcasing the gourmet meats, cheeses, and produce grown, raised, processed, and cooked in Green County. We dined on lean sausages of elk and emu, emmentaler and butter kase cheeses, beer-braised, pasteurized pork with Wisconsin-grown apples, roast tenderloin served with Wisconsin potatoes mashed with Roth Kase gruyere cheese. The green beans and salad were grown in local gardens. The apples on the apple tart grew in a Green County orchard; the Green County fudges and toffees were made with Wisconsin milk. And accompanying each course was a New Glarus, micro-brewed beer especially selected to bring out the flavors of the gourmet foods. I never knew beer could taste so unbelievably delicious with braised pork and roast tenderloin. The New Glarus Golden Ale served with the final cheese course was a genius pairing and made me re-think drinking wine with cheese.

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Unusual Dessert Zucchini Recipe: Wisconsin Farmers and Gardeners Bake Zucchini Pie

This time of August a Wisconsin gardener typically has as many zucchinis as a mule has flies. Zucchini has been steamed, boiled, grilled, baked into breads and casseroles, and still, free-for-the-taking zucchinis languish on office break-room tables. Even some food pantry workers sigh when they see more zucchini arrive. What to do with all that zucchini?

I have only 4 zucchini plants, which although I’m a firm believer in ‘waste not – want not, are producing about 50% more zucchini than I want. For two weeks, I’ve brought zucchini to the table in a variety of recipe forms. Fortunately, zucchini is one vegetable that my kids eat without complaining, but at this point I’m using up my zucchini capital. I needed an unusual zucchini recipe to re-spark our taste for this prolific, green squash.

Searching through cookbooks, I noticed that my cookbooks written by Wisconsin farm women  had more zucchini recipes than the others. I wasn’t surprised. But I was intrigued by the re-occurrence of one unusual recipe: a recipe for zucchini pie. I guess it makes sense. Wisconsin farm women typically have large gardens. They grow a lot of food and are not about to waste it. If they grow it, by gosh, their family is going to eat it and be thankful. But even these stoic women run out of patience with zucchini. Desperate to find one more way to transfer zucchini from the crisper into their children’s stomachs, they invented zucchini pie. Oh, it’s not much of an invention really, more of a modification. To make zucchini pie, all you do is bake an apple pie, but substitute zucchini for the apples.

“Yuk!” you exclaim? No, not really. My family liked it. Admittedly, it wasn’t as good as apple pie, but it was a bit more nutritious, and far easier to make. Plus, the recipe calls for “one LARGE zucchini”. So if you just found one of those monster zucchinis that’s been growing hidden under a leaf for far too long in your garden, this recipe for zucchini pie is the one you need. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe for zucchini pie and pictures of our cow tea party at which we ate a zucchini cheese pie for dinner and our zucchini pie for dessert.

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