If Wisconsin farmers raised bananas would Wisconsin milk grow on trees? Blustery-gray, November weather has Wisconsinites cheering when the thermometer tops 50. As winter blows in, we now greet each other with commiserating remarks about our impending deep freeze. Few are happy about it, most give a resigned gripe. But it could have been different, and if so, would we be any happier?
If Wisconsin had been located south of the border, we could be growing bananas. Our Welsh fore-bearers, the original Badgers, would have carried banana bread into the mines rather than turnip pasties. But think of the sacrifice. Our milk would come from a nut, – a nut that grows high in a tree, – a tree so high that one must climb to harvest it. This nut is so dense that it must be hacked at with a knife to split it open. And then only a thin, semi-sweet, high-in-the-wrong-type-of-fat, pale liquid spills out everywhere which we would call “milk”? Would our children be happy with this milk-substitute? Consider how good we have it now.
Click on “Continue reading…” for the rest of the pep talk and a recipe for banana bread with coconut.
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, I 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.
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.
Wisconsin farmers are truly optimistic visionaries! Unlike the rest of us cowering inside complaining about single-digit temps and 5′ snow drifts, Wisconsin farmers are readying for the summer growing season. They’re busily fixing machinery and ordering supplies. They’re convinced that winter will end.
Yesterday I caught their spring fever when I opened the letter from farmers Dan and Catherine Kleiber of Anisoptera Acres. (Even the name, Anisoptera, is hopeful. Anisoptera is the sub-order of insects that includes dragonflies – some of the first insects to take to the skies millions of years ago!) Catherine and Dan are putting out the word that they’re ordering the chickens, ducks, hogs, and steers which they’ll be raising this spring and summer for the Hilldale Farmers’ Market. They’re giving their regular customers a chance to put in orders for their free-range, natural meats. I appreciate this heads-up because last year their meats were so popular that they sold out.
Dan and Catherine Kleiber typify the Wisconsin farmers who sell high-quality meats at the farmers markets. The young animals they raise are hatched or born down the road on neighboring farms. The chicks come to the Kleiber farm when they’re a day old; the hogs and steers arrive after they’re weaned. Then the animals live out their lives in 5 acres of open pasture. The combination of fresh-air, exercise, and eating field vegetation supplemented with an all-natural livestock feed produces healthy animals, (which are probably pretty happy too!) Wisconsin farmers and their customers swear by the superior flavor of these home-raised meats. And these meats are typically leaner and contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids which are not naturally found in purely grain-fed animals. (Click here to read about the health benefits of grass-fed livestock.)
Locally-raised meats are becoming ever-more available at Wisconsin’s farmers markets, – so move over fruits and veggies! In addition to chicken, beef, and pork, some farmers are selling duck, goose, turkey, trout, buffalo, venison, lamb, and even goat meat. (My daughter won’t touch fillet mignon, but she LOVES Dan’s ground goat meat! It sounds funny to hear her plead, “Please Mom can’t we have goat tonight?” My friends ask “How do you cook ‘goat?” I tell them to treat it like ground beef.)
Every summer day, somewhere in Wisconsin a farmers market is happening. Many of them begin in late-April and continue through October. Madison residents love their Capitol Square Farmers Market so much that the market keeps going through the winter (inside of course, – we’re not crazy).