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Edible Antics

Touring Wisconsin Food

Category: Growing ‘n Raising WI Foods (page 2 of 3)

Healthy Eating With Garden Vegetables In A Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad From the Madison, WI CSAC

The backyard garden is over-flowing with fresh vegetables! Now what to do with all the squash?  Best to ask the folks who garden for a living: The Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (CSAC). For a healthy recipe that uses zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and red pepper, I consulted the Madison Area’s CSAC cookbook, From Asparagus to Zucchini: A guide to cooking farm-fresh seasonal produce. The cookbook is organized alphabetically by vegetable and additionally by season. For any vegetable that could possibly be growing in a Wisconsin garden, the CSAC has a recipe for it. CSAC supporters and CSAC farmers contributed their recipes to this cookbook, and they also tell how to preserve vegetables for winter consumption. These folks understand the impossibility of eating a whole garden’s worth of vegetables in late summer.

These CSAC gardeners are also dedicated to healthy eating. After a year and a half of cooking with this cookbook, I have yet to find a recipe that causes heart disease. That’s one of the reasons I chose this recipe for grilled summer vegetable pasta salad for my contribution to Saturday night’s potluck dinner at the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival at Madison, WI’s State Farm Park. I was attending the festival with some doctors and nurses. On duty at Madison hospitals they routinely advise people about healthy eating. And I know they practice what they preach. So to this potluck I figured I best not show up with my Wisconsin-potluck favorites, deviled eggs and bacon-wrapped wieners stuffed with cheese. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe and more of the story.

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Retro Foods: Upper Midwest Regional Favorites of Cheese, Crackers And Summer Sausage Are Still Happy Hour Snacks

In the 1960’s and ’70’s, my family vacationed at friends’ summer cottage on a small, Wisconsin lake surrounded by corn and soy bean fields and dairy farms.  After a day of water-skiing, fishing, canoeing, and swimming, the adults would announce Happy Hour, – as if we hadn’t been happy earlier.  But Happy Hour was grand for kids because at this hour out would come our favorite snacks of cheese, crackers and summer sausage. True we ate cheese and crackers back in Illinois, but the cheese and summer sausage were better at the cottage. Naturally, the cottage was in Wisconsin. Our happy-hour cheese was super-fresh, made with real cream from cows down the road, and the savory sausage was made by real Germans in the town next over.

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Wisconsin Celebrates the Dairy Industry With Cows at the Capital

Saturday Madison, WI saluted the dairy industry by inviting cows, dairy farmers, agricultural students, veterinarians, and cheese masters to the streets around Wisconsin’s state capital building. Children pet the cows as “Moo experts” from the dairy industry answered questions about raising cows, milking, WI’s artisanal cheeses, and WI’s reliance on the dairy industry for our state’s economic vitality.cows-1

Along with the information came a whole lot of fun on the capital concourse. Bands played music as kids played games. Families ate ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches grilled right in the street. One of the more comical highlights was the ice cream eating contest. Two children, two dads, one dairy farmer, and the dairy queen of Belleville, Wisconsin competed to see who could eat a plate of ice cream the fastest (no hands; no utensils). Click on “Continue reading…” to see a video of the ice cream eating contest and more pictures of Wisconsinites playing with their food.

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Recipe For Asparagus and Egg Salad Makes A Colorful Vegetable Side-dish For Easter

Here is an easy recipe for Asparagus and Egg Salad which I plan to make for Easter dinner. The combination of green asparagus, white hard-boiled eggs, and sweet red pepper make this an attractive and colorful vegetable side-dish.Not only is asparagus and egg salad quick to prepare, but it can be made earlier in the day, then chilled in the ‘fridge until served or taken on the road to Grandma’s house. It is a natural accompaniment for ham, lamb or any special-occasion meats. And there’s one last reason to make a salad with asparagus and eggs: they are both signs of spring.

Perhaps the egg symbol is so over-commercialized it is tired, but asparagus is a special sign of joy to anyone living in rural Wisconsin. Darlene Kronschnabel, author of  Seasons In A Country Kitchen Cookbook, writes:

“One of the tremendous benefits of country living in the spring is picking wild asparagus. In fact, I hold  my breath each spring not quite believing the season is here until I see the delicate green shoots peeping out to greet the sunshine. Then I know spring is here. For, if the ground is warm enough for the asparagus to grow, it is warm enough to plant the garden…The best way to gather wild asparagus is to take a small child by the hand and leisurely walk the farm fence lines. You will rediscover the wonder of nature while eager young eyes will discover the joys of finding the tender green spears hidden beneath last year’s dried ferns.”

Click on “continue reading…” for Darlene’s recipe for asparagus and egg salad. You’ll be glad you did.

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Instead of Candy, Mother Bakes Healthy Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie Recipe For School Valentine’s Day Party

Valentine’s Day approaches. “Sweets to the sweet” we say, and buy Valentine’s Day candy for our children and ALL of their classmates. Valentine’s Day is a candy pot-luck in schools. The math is not hard here. If each child in the class offers every classmate a single, measly piece of candy, then my child will receive 24 pieces of candy in one sitting. Of course, nobody gets just one. And nobody eats just one. The candy feasting (gorging) begins. In rapid succession, sugary treats catapult from wrappers into stomachs. Minutes later, the teacher sends everybody home. The bus ride is long enough for the insulin to kick in. Blood sugar levels crash like airplanes. And my sweet children are…, well let’s just say, they’re not so sweet anymore.

So this year I will turn a single anomaly performed last year by a conscientious parent into a trend. Last Valentine’s Day, one of the parents from my daughter’s class attached a baggie containing two cranberry oatmeal cookies to each child’s Valentine’s Day card – instead of candy! And surprise, surprise, when my daughter returned home she talked only about these wondrous cookies. She showed me the recipe which the conscientious mother had attached to the baggie, and she urged “Make them Mom, make them! PLEASE!” Perplexed, I looked in the backpack. I was truly amazed. Most of her Valentine’s Day candy was still in her pack. “This is a good thing,” I thought. “A cranberry oatmeal cookie exists which my daughter prefers over candy?” So I baked those cranberry oatmeal cookies! They were scrumptious, and I posted the recipe on my side-page, Cooking With The ABC’s. (I’m sorry I don’t know who the mother was.)

Well this year, I too want to send healthy cookies instead of candy! But I must toe a fine line here. If I make the healthy cranberry oatmeal cookies on my side page, I will embarrass my daughter by being (in her words) “a copycat”. But if I deviate too far from cranberry oatmeal, then I will embarrass her by “being weird”, (her words again).

I needed another cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe. And I found one at Wisconsinmade.com, where I work. We distribute these incredible-tasting, Wisconsin-grown cranberries grown by the Urban family on their marshy farm in central Wisconsin. As you can imagine, a farm-woman diligently cooks, cans, dries and freezes whatever is in season on the farm. So if your family grows primarily cranberries, then a cranberry recipe you haven’t tried likely doesn’t exist. Turning lemons into lemonade, the Urban women turned their cranberry recipe collection into a cookbook. It’s called Recipes for Sweetened Dried Cranberries. Among their many cookie recipes, they have two for cranberry oatmeal. Plus, they also gave Wisconsinmade a cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe to put on our website’s recipe page. I decided to bake the one from the website. Click here for the cranberry oatmeal cookie recipe. Click on “continue reading …” for notes on how mine turned out. I baked them as a trial run for Valentine’s Day.

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Vote For Community Supported Agriculture! – Send A Wisconsin Farmer to the White House (lawn)

Send Wisconsin to the White House (lawn). The pressure is on the Obama family to appoint the first official White House Farmer who will create an organic vegetable garden for the 1st family’s table. Few people know how to produce high-quality, healthy food better than our farmers in Wisconsin. So vote for a Wisconsin farmer to keep our president and our nation healthy, wealthy and wise!

Nine Wisconsin farmers are in the running. Read their bio’s at whitehousefarmer.com and vote for your favorite. Deadline is Jan. 31st so DO IT NOW! At this moment, Wisconsin’s own Claire Strader is trailing 1st place candidate Carrie Anne Little of Washington by only 339 votes. Claire needs you to cinch the spot! Claire has turned urban empty lots into beautiful, organic city gardens. She runs a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, and educates kids and adults about organic gardening, prairie restoration, and sustainable agricultural practices. But Claire’s not the only Wisconsin farmer well-qualified for the top job. Check out the others and you decide – Just be sure and vote in a Wisconsin farmer! 

To show just how much our Wisconsin farmers know about great-tasting and healthy food, click on ‘continue reading…’ for Wisconsin farmer and CSA member, Anne Tedeschi’s, healthy recipe for Hearty Egglplant-Zucchini Toss. Continue reading

Wisconsin Ice Fishers – The Perfect Poster Children for Obama’s Era of Responsibility

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal headline declared “Obama To Call For A New Era Of Responsibility” WOW – does THAT sound fun! Yes, I see it now – Americans across the country retire their credit cards, stick to frugal budgets, and label old shoe boxes “String too short to save”. How good it would be if we could reign in our debt, sell more than we spend, and save for that rainy day (which is today). But selling the notion of responsibility to modern Americans who’ve tasted the sweet fruits of excess will be difficult. Obama surely needs help. But not to worry, he’s got Wisconsin.

Yes, Wisconsin is no stranger to rough times, – we’ve got WINTER. And it happens every year. We even schedule it. But do you hear us complain and moan? (No never, because you are some place else.)  We turn hardship on its head. We pray for ice just so we can go ice fishing!

Yes, when the temperatures have been sub-freezing for an agreeable number of days, Wisconsinites head to the frozen lakes, set up flimsy tents, and sit for hours next to small holes through which we suspend fishing lines. We hope beyond reason that some hapless, hungry fish will gobble its last meal and thus become sustenance for a humble Wisconsin table. No importing expensive, Chilean sea bass for us. We’ve got lake perch, bass, and pike. Sweet delicacies of our hometown lakes.

Wisconsin ice fishing exemplifies the sporting nature of frugality. Character-building IS FUN! Wisconsin ice fishers are a HAPPY lot! We have brandy and conversation. We do “hop on the toes until they thaw” dances. Frozen lakes are the happening Winter Party Places. We may look huddled and cold from afar, but close up you’ll notice the glow of our rosy cheeks and noses. It’s so fun that every year some ice fishers are too reluctant to dismantle their tents and leave them up a day longer than they should.

Yes, all President Obama needs for his Era of Responsibility Campaign is a thousand or so, strategically-placed posters showing Wisconsin Ice Fishers having fun. Fashionable restaurants will soon follow the lead of Fish Creek, Wisconsin’s gourmet restaurant, the White Gull Inn, and serve Whitefish Parmesan. In fact, if you want to be at the forefront of the New America, you can prepare Whitefish Parmesan tonight.

Click on “continue reading” for the recipe.

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Cake Decorating, Raising Animals, and Carnival Rides – Ways We Teach Children Life Skills

I think we trick our kids. We lure them with sweet flavors, bright colors, and creamy, soft textures to make them learn the hard skills life requires. At least, that was my impression after seeing the fun, elaborately-creative cake decorations on display at the Dane County Fair in Madison, WI. cake-decorating-1Children in 4-H clubs throughout the county competed for prize ribbons in cake decorating by artistically coating pieces of Styrofoam with colored frosting. The designs they painted on their simulated cakes, cookies, and cupcakes celebrate our life-changing moments and major holidays, -birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, harvest time, Christmas, and even April Fool’s Day -that day we play tricks on each other and laugh.cake-decorating-2

Recalling my own efforts to make King Lingonberry and a spiced nose cake made me appreciate the skills these children exercised in creating their masterpieces. First, the children had to choose the occasion they wished to celebrate and then look inward to tap their unique creativity. They needed to imagine, in fine detail, each colorful image they wished to paint. Then they had to plan exactly how to re-produce that image in frosting. Construction of the imagined final product had to be translated backward into a step-by-step series of actions. The tools needed to be gathered, – the workplace organized.

Then, for most, the hard work began. Any ease in seeing something gave way to the challenge of making it. Eyes, brain, muscles, hands, -the whole body had to coordinate its movements to precisely layer the frosting. Mistakes inevitably happened. Frustrated emotions were curbed and problem-solving practiced. How could the mistake be fixed? If it couldn’t, then how could the design be changed to turn the blemish into an asset? Distractions occurred and had to be ignored, -attention continually redirected to the task, hour after hour. Each child gave a day of his or her life to creating the Styrofoam cakes on display at the fair.

Elsewhere in the Exhibition Center and outside in the fairground barns, children were practicing other life skills. They were grooming and showing the animals they had spent months raising. Some children showed their pet cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Others showed commercial livestock, -their beef and dairy cattle, pigs, sheep, lamas, goats, and poultry. The children were tested not only on the physical condition of their animals, but on their own skills in showmanship.

I watched the nervous intensity that the children focused on their animals,-readying them in the stalls, and showing them in the ring. This was serious business. Months of daily labor would be judged over the course of a few minutes.

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Food, Fun and Business at Wisconsin’s Lodi Fair

Remember in the children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, how the farm animals convinced Templeton the rat to accompany Wilbur to the fair? They painted a picture of fair grounds littered with food, -pieces of cakes, pies, corn dogs, caramel corn, and candy strewn across the field, trash cans brimming with half-full cups of root beer and lemonade. The hungry rat was irresistibly drawn to the fair by the food! But ‘most everyone else was drawn by the fun.

And fun was everywhere at the Lodi Agricultural Fair this past weekend in Lodi, Wisconsin. Yes, the traditional Wisconsin-fair treats of funnel cakes, elephant ears, home-baked pies, ice cream, fresh cheese curds, and grilled meats were abundant. Diners relaxed at picnic tables under a tent and listened to live music. The variety of entertainment, from rock-n-roll bands to polkas played on an accordion, offered something for everyone.

The easy, relaxed atmosphere of the Lodi Fair was punctuated by happy children thrilled on carnival rides, and hearkened back to earlier days in our American past. As in Wilbur and Charlotte’s day, the fair was free to enter and spread out over the large grassy field, between the baseball diamond and the old town hall.  Free rides on the wooden, hay wagon pulled by draft horses, Dick, Doris, and Doc, corralled the festival fun. 

As in olden days, the Lodi Fair serves an economic as well as a social function. Farmers and livestock buyers gather to exchange money for cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry. While waiting for auction, the animals are housed in shaded stalls and their owners sit in canvas, fold-up chairs next to them. The people set up camp, with coolers and card games, in the open-air barns, next to their prize animals which they raised from infancy. Ribbons won for size and shape are proudly tacked to the rafters and hang above the deserving animals. Outside, new models of farm equipment such as tractors, combines, and mowers stand on display. 

Yes, the purpose of today’s Lodi Fair is the same as the first Lodi Fair 146 years ago. The agricultural fair is the original form of our modern, professional conference. The fair is a central meeting ground for people in the agricultural business to exchange ideas, learn about new business practices and technologies, and form cooperative ventures. As in commercial trade shows, related-product vendors attend the fair to sell their wares.

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Flood of ’08! – Wisconsin Farmers Assess the Damage

On June 11th, Dan and Catherine Kleiber watched their neighbor motor boat across the field where the Kleibers’ corn had been growing the week before. The neighbor’s road was flooded, so driving his fishing boat across the Kleiber’s field to a car parked at his brother’s-in-law farm was his only way to work.

Dan was heading to work to, but instead of cultivating corn and soybeans on their 480-acre farm in Waterloo, WI as he normally would this time of year, Dan was rescuing livestock, moving fences, and pumping water from the basement of their house. Twelve trucks arrived to empty Dan’s silos of corn before the Crawfish River could lap at their base. In less than a week, the Kleiber’s house became lake-front property and fish swam in their corn fields. Nearly 70% of their crops died. Dan and Catherine’s farm is one of hundreds of farms that lost crops in the historic rains deluging southern Wisconsin in early June.

The flood of ’08 has reduced the Kleibers’ 2008 income to what they can earn on the crops remaining, plus what they’ll get by selling their farm-raised pork, chicken, beef, and goat meat at a twice weekly farmers’ market. Currently the Kleibers raise 6 beef cattle, 23 hogs, and 700 chickens on a 5+-acre pasture which the flood has reduced to 1/2 an acre. Dan says it’s too late in the season to order more livestock and raise them before winter sets in. What he’s got will be it for the year.

Unfortunately, Dan’s situation is the rule rather than the exception for southern Wisconsin farmers. That’s why the Wisconsin Department of Agricultureis urging people to help farmers through this crisis by buying their meat and produce at local farmers’ markets.

To learn more about the flooding and see before and after pictures of the Kleiber farm, click on continue reading.

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