It’s no secret that in Wisconsin we like beer. We like beer so much we put beer in food whenever possible- like beer brats and beer cheese soup. We even like to come up with new ways to use beer- like in an unexpected recipe or even in soap! A beer gift makes a great Father’s Day surprise, so here’s a list of my top 5 favorite Wisconsin beer related foods and gifts.
1. Beer Brats – A secret to delicious Wisconsin beer brats is a quick boil in some Wisconsin beer. Save a step and send your brats straight to the grill with precooked red lager beer brats. They are already boiled so all you have to do is seer them on the grill, pop them into a bun and top with your favorite brat toppings. Perfect for a Father’s Day cookout.
2. Beer Cheese Soup– On my previous post I wondered if beer cheese soup was Wisconsin’s OFFICIAL soup, and according to my Twitter followers ( @Wisconsinmade ) it actually is! Who knew?
3. Beer Bread– Beer bread is a perfect accompaniment for soup and chili, but if you aren’t much of a baker, don’t worry because there are plenty of tasty beer bread mixes out there.
4. Beer Soap- No, that’s not a typo, I do mean SOAP not SOUP. Talk about an unexpected place to find beer! This Wisconsin beer Soap Gift set is free of unnecessary chemicals and preservatives, but it does have beer from the Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin.
5. Drink Your Beer and Eat It Too Cookbook – When I first saw this beer cookbook I expected your standard beer recipes like beer brats and beer soup, and sure enough, this book has that! It also has some surprising uses for beer like in baked pork chops or desserts like gingerbread. A great gift for a Dad who likes to spend time in the kitchen.
Make ahead! – That’s my warning to you.
I’ve got my dander up on this one. Bully me with Thanksgiving dinner requirements and I push back with my Thanksgiving dinner mantra: make ahead!
Yes, heralds of the impending holiday season herald in my seasonal rant. Just because some Pilgrims happened to serve what was on hand, – turkey, squash, stuffing, corn, pies, etc. etc., is no reason that sane, 21st-century women have to scramble in the kitchen stuffing turkeys and side dishes into their cramped ovens in order for those Pilgrim foods to appear simultaneously on the Thanksgiving dinner table. Remember – those pioneer ladies cooked outside. And we’re not about to do that in Wisconsin! At least not in November.
So, when my family wants traditional Thanksgiving foods, I find new Thanksgiving recipes that I can make ahead. As much of the meal as is edibly possible, I assemble in the days, weeks, and months preceding the big T-Day.
Keep reading for my newest find. It’s a pumpkin roll with an identity crisis. It thinks it’s a canolli but it’s really pumpkin cake rolled around a sweet, cream cheese filling. It’s decadent, looks elegant, and tastes great. Plus, it’s pumpkin. So it fits all the requirements for a Thanksgiving dessert.
And the best part? It’s a make-ahead dessert. In fact you have to make it ahead of time. So sometime this fall, make it and keep it in the freezer until serving. How easy is that?! Keep reading for the recipe.
Gift Baskets for Grandparents’ Day – Chicken Man Gets Grilled – Recipe To Follow
A gift basket seemed the most sensible gift for Grandfather. My dad cooks for himself, enjoys delectable food treats, and loves to share. Yes, gift baskets are great gifts for folks who love to share because there’s usually so much of interest packed inside.
My children created a gift basket for their grandfather by choosing favorite foods, – some his, some theirs. We celebrated Grandparents’ Day a week early (it’s next Sunday – September 12) because Dad must end his Labor Day holiday stay with us today.
So we snacked on our gift basket foods while we honored grandfather and labor simultaneously. Friends came over for a cookout and together we grilled CHICKEN MAN.
The recipe for chicken man is a humorous Wisconsin recipe, – calling for lots of beer. Take a whole chicken, stuff an open bottle of beer inside it, cook chicken on grill, eat. That’s the recipe’s gist, but for the nuanced instructions and pics, keep reading. See Chicken Man defy the flames!
Celebrating Sisters’ Day by “Stirring up the past with family recipes and stories” from four, Oshkosk, Wisconsin sisters.
August 1st is Sisters’ Day, and the best time to bring out the cookbook/culinary memoir of four Wisconsin sisters. Written by sisters Susan Sanvidge, Diane Sanvidge Seckar, Jean Sanvidge Wouters, and Julie Sanvidge Florence, Apple Betty and Sloppy Joe, is a tribute to the tastes, smells, and family life enjoyed in their parent’s kitchen.
Reading Apple Betty and Sloppy Joe is like sitting down at the Sanvidge’s kitchen table, a table laden with old-fashioned, mid-western food, and listening to the sisters chat, tell stories, and sometimes dispute memories of their childhood. It’s a real treat. As in most families, the kitchen was the heart of daily life in the Sanvidge family. The arrivals of guests, the celebration of holidays, and the sisters’ comings of age were marked by the special foods their mother created.
So in honor of Sisters’ Day, I re-created Mom Sanvidge’s “Famous Granola Bars”. Their oat and honey granola bars are better than store-bought my own daughter says. And that’s because they’re made with love. Keep reading for the recipe.
‘Brownies’ is one of the food categories in which 10-year-olds can compete in the 4-H Club competitions at the county fair. Tuesday, when my own 10-year-old saw this, she tapped the 4-H Club booklet and said, “I’ll make BROWNIES!..I’ll use the chocolate brownie recipe you used for those brownies you brought to our class party. Those brownies disappeared first from the treats table and people asked me for the recipe. So I know those chocolate brownies are sure to win at the fair!”
What confidence, I thought. My daughter likes to win. And I’m glad she liked the brownies, but to be honest, those chocolate brownies were the very first I’d ever made that did not come from a box mix. So I wasn’t surprised that Lauren liked them better than our usual ones. But are these chocolate brownies actually good enough to win a 4-H Club prize at the county fair?
My uncertainty stems from the fact that I never got to eat one of the brownies. I made them right before I took them to the party. In a flash, they were gone. I never got the opportunity to form my own opinion about them. And it’s not like kids have discriminating tastes when it comes to desserts. So I’ll just have to make them again and see for myself what sort of competitive edge this chocolate brownie recipe may have over others. Keep reading for the recipe so you can form your own opinion.
Here’s another rhubarb recipe, – this one’s for rhubarb marmalade. Yes, that’s right, I’m up against the wall with rhubarb and have resorted to making jam. Although our Wisconsin spring is ending, the rhubarb keeps coming. It arrives in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) boxes. It beckons in home gardens. Wisconsin cooks have likely already made rhubarb pie, rhubarb coffee cake, rhubarb cobbler, rhubarb fool, and even rhubarb slushies. But the rhubarb keeps coming. Perhaps your children are saying, “No more rhubarb!” BUT:
You can’t waste rhubarb! Rhubarb only comes in spring. Period. Sure you can freeze the fibrous stalks, but then they thaw as mush. Not too appetizing. I decided to put up rhubarb in some more tempting form. That’s why I made rhubarb marmalade.
I’ve never made jam before. Truth is, I don’t like marmalade. But there was all that CSA rhubarb and my CSA cookbook has a recipe for rhubarb marmalade that sounded so easy even I could make it.
(My 7-year-old just walked in and asked, “What are you writing about?”
“Rhubarb,” I said.
To which he replied, “Rhubarb, rhubarb, too much rhubarb.”)
The nice thing about rhubarb marmalade is that you can give it away. Rhubarb marmalade can be a thoughtful gift as long as your friends don’t think too carefully about it. So keep reading for the rhubarb marmalade recipe and more rhubarb recipes. (And be sure to keep enough of this rhubarb jam for yourself. You’ll like it. I did!)
Jimmy the Ground Hog in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin said spring would come early in Wisconsin. And it is. Lately, we’ve had days of 33 degrees on which kids descend coat-less from the school bus exclaiming, “It’s so WARM!” A few birds are tentatively singing. And when the snow falls, some of it even melts. But this melting is not all good at the end of this Wisconsin winter. Melting means that the snow which melted into water must now go somewhere. And when the snow on the roof melts, where will this new rooftop river run when the gutters remain packed with 9″ of ice? This ice dam is too high for the water to surmount, so instead that water flows through the roof and runs down the inside walls of the house. A waterfall right in the house. Such is the stuff of dreams.
Time for a food dream, – a summer food dream. It’s the only path past winter frustration. Must dream of food symbolizing summer. Must make summer salads. Must make herbed Greek salad with cucumbers! Read on for the recipe.
If you are what you eat then I will soon become a cranberry. I snack on sweetened dried cranberries; I add them to recipes for color, tartness, sweetness and chewiness. Whether they be main dishes, salads, rice, cakes, or pies, cranberries always seem to make them better. And today is a very good day because 10 pounds of sweetened dried cranberries arrived at my door. For the first time ever I’m saving money on my cranberry addiction by buying my cranberries in bulk.
In past posts I raved about the health benefits of this little red fruit, but did you know that Wisconsin grows more cranberries than any other state? The cranberry is Wisconsin’s state fruit. In fall, Wisconsinites pilgrimage to cranberry bogs to watch the harvest and sample the latest in gourmet cranberry concoctions. In my cupboard is stocked a particularly grand concoction modestly named “Cranberry chutney”.
Now some people adore chutneys and others despise them. But this cranberry chutney surprises those people wary of chutneys. It makes them taste twice, and then three times and more. You can enjoy it on a cracker and say you’ve made an hors d’oeuvre. But I found a new way to devour it. Heat the cranberry chutney with some orange juice and and a few seasonings and pour it over chicken or pork and that chicken or pork becomes a gourmet meal. Click on “continue reading…” for the recipe and more.
I’ve been reading about food trends. Now, if you’re like me, you don’t think of Wisconsin as being a particularly trendy place. What worked for us Wisconsinites yesterday, we go ahead and do again today. You can see this best in the ways we raise and prepare food. Our artisanal cheeses, meats, and beers have always been popular. But if we haven’t been boasting about them it’s because we here in this frigid northern clime don’t like jumping up and down calling attention to ourselves, unless of course we need to thaw our toes. Our state’s never had a reputation for fancy food, just food that tastes awesome.
So it made sense to read in Mary Bergin’s February article in Madison Magazine that Illinois chefs are supplying their restaurants with Wisconsin foods. The article focuses on the buy-local movement which I guess to Chicagoans means buying from Wisconsin. Because chefs are raving about the superiority of Wisconsin food, it’s now trendy to dine at upscale Chicago-area restaurants serving food from Wisconsin farms. But really, what’s the shocker? – that food picked yesterday tastes better than food picked two weeks ago in California? Perhaps the surprise is that people are willing to pay a little extra for better food. Mary’s article points out that urban Wisconsinites are increasingly fed up with eating old food trucked in from 1000 miles away. Membership is surging in Community Supported Agriculture groups through which Wisconsinites weekly buy large boxes of fresh produce directly from farmers.
But eating Wisconsin farm food is not a new trend. It’s more like something Wisconsinites always used to do and then stopped for a while. Most of the Wisconsin senior citizens I know grew up on farms. For them, eating farm food is old hat.
And it’s to these old farmers that younger Wisconsinites such as myself now turn when I want to participate in a new national food trend. You see, I also recently read a list predicting 2010’s trendiest foods. Wisconsin produces some of them, – such as the artisanal goat cheese and buffalo meat. But how can I eat the newly trendy tropical fruits such as coconut and pomegranates while also being trendy by buying local? What to do? Click on “Continue reading…” for my solution and a Wisconsin farm woman’s recipe for chocolate sauerkraut cake.
Last weekend as I waited for Kay to get her coat I chatted with her husband, Dan, who was busy prepping and testing his snow-blower.“That’s pretty wise,” I acknowledged. “Yep, winter is coming, no doubt we’ll all be blowing snow soon.” Dan was scurrying like the proverbial ant, getting his garage and vehicles set for winter. He waved, “Have a good time!” as Kay and I frolicked off to enjoy a holiday bazaar. This grasshopper knew I should be checking on my own snow-blower, but well, there was always tomorrow.
Tomorrow hit Wisconsin on Tuesday afternoon. The record-breaking blizzard blew in and dumped roughly a foot and a half of snow on us in 12 hours. On Wednesday, schools and businesses closed, even the University of Wisconsin – Madison closed. The Wisconsin state government offices closed. We were down for the count until we all dug or blew our way out.
And while digging, I mentally composed this post. And since there was so much snow, you might notice that this post is a bit longer than the others. Now let me say that I was fortunate in one sense; I had just enough gas in the snow-blower to clear a minimal swath down the driveway for the car to exit the garage. But at the base of the drive loomed a blockade of hip-high snow. Thanks to the snow plows, we would not be driving anywhere until all this snow moved five feet over. As I shoveled, I considered what I would feed us. We had some left-overs by the grace of luck rather than pre-meditated industry. But after that? What would we eat? This is when I realized that few foods specified in a recipe are written in stone. Substitutions are always acceptable, perhaps not flavorful, but none-the-less, acceptable. If you want to read about the tasty substitutions, read the introduction to the cookbook, Mom’s Updated Quick Meals Recipe Box: 250 family favorites in thirty minutes or less, written by nutritionist and chef, Donna L. Weihofen, R.D. If, for a lark, you want to read what I consider acceptable substitutions during a Wisconsin blizzard, click on “continue reading…”