How to find comfort when the Arizona Cardinals bump the Green Bay Packers out of the play-offs: gather with good friends to eat fine food. That’s what we who are Wisconsinmade.com did last evening at the home of Linda Remeschatis, founder of our 10-year-old Internet company. The party was a celebration of the hard work we all did to get gourmet Wisconsin foods, books, art, music, crafts, and Wisconsin clothing to people across the country who value the high-quality products created by Wisconsin artisans.
Even though initially planned as a post-holiday season, company party, the party fell on a Packer Sunday, so in true Wisconsin-fashion when we entered the house Sunday afternoon, we took our seats in front of the TV. Ready to recreate with beer, wine and pickled herring rollmops, we fixed our eyes on our team. Not all of us were true Packers fans, however. An Illinois-transplant was present; he’s the spouse of one of our newest, prized Wisconsinmade.com co-workers. He’s a die-hard Bears fan and initially stood uncommitted to either Packers or Cardinals. But our pro-Packers exuberance rubbed off on him so that at the game’s final heart-breaking fumble, he too felt our pain.
I’ll tell you now, it’s a good thing we had all that great, gourmet, Wisconsin food to eat. It was prepared by the Wisconsin artisans with whom we partner. The smoked pheasant, duck, and salmon raised our spirits despite the Cardinals’ repeated scoring. We savored the Wisconsin, artisanal cheeses, summer sausages, creamed herring, and cranberry chutney delivered to our tongues on Potter’s amazing organic crackers. We dined on salads, party meatballs, and shrimp. With such a scrumptious spread, nobody could get too down about the fate of our Green Bay Packers. Yes, it was the great food and fine company which kept our spirits high during that roller-coaster of a football game.
Spring’s here! And one of our ‘Bring-in-the-spring’ rituals is to visit A-Z Farms outside Madison, WI. Several Sundays every spring the Antoniewicz family opens the barn doors of their working sheep farm to let the young-at-heart pet sheep, lambs, chicks, rabbits, pigs, and horses. Children will see lambs being born and cared for by their mothers, and older lambs romp with their friends over bales of hay.
Members of the Antoniewicz family and their friends walk throughout the barn explaining how the sheep are kept healthy and happy.
Visitors can watch wool being shorn from the sheep, cleaned, and then spun on spinning wheels. Wool products are also for sale by local craftspeople. Over the years we have purchased two, high-quality, wool blankets, one sheep skin (which the kids and pets love to snuggle on), and a variety of hand-knit hats, and sweaters. We have also purchased lots of honey. In the back-room a bee keeper shows her bee colony in a special observation box, and explains the art of bee-keeping to the children as they suck on sweet honey sticks.
As we depart an hour or two later, we purchase frozen lamb that we likely met on the farm the previous spring. Thus, despite my children’s urban lifestyle, they are blessed to know first hand where food comes from. We understand that the food which gives us life was once a life itself. Food is a gift, and we are thankful.
This Sunday, from 10:00 to 4:00, is the last Sunday the barn will be open to the public without a reservation. Throughout the year the family gives educational tours to school groups and even offers the farm as a site for educational birthday parties. So if you can’t stop by the farm this Sunday, check out the farm’s website to see when else you might visit. The photos shown here were taken from their website. Click on the link to view more photos of the sheep farm in operation.
Or click below to see my easy recipe for ground lamb balls flavored with a cucumber, mint yogurt sauce. Yummm….