Hi everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. This year, we decided to go a non-traditional route for the first time ever (Keith *loves* traditional Thanksgiving) and did a Spanish-y tapas style meal. We built our menu around a wonderful cured Berkshire pork leg from Edwards of Surry, VA. It is America’s answer to Italy’s prosciutto or Spain’s serrano. Recommended by Eric Ripert no less. It was a lot of fun and not too much cooking. The night before our celebration, I put together the colorful paper lanterns we were going to use for a summer party that never happened and hung them inside the house. Instant Spain.
Continue reading ‘Tis the Season
It has been absolutely gorgeous out these last couple of mornings. Right after I woke up and looked out of the kitchen window the other day, I felt this big desire to take a picture of a frosty maple leaf. Does that ever happen to you? So I bundled-up, stepped outside, and searched for just the right leaf. It was a perfect bronze color, slightly curled at the tips, and the tiny specks of ice surrounding it sparkled silver from the early light.
Continue reading Café con leche on a Frosty Morning
We are getting pretty excited about the Driftless Film Festival, which starts this Thursday. I thought it would be hard to top last year’s opening night, the magical Beasts of the Southern Wild, but I’m even more excited about the film opening this year’s festival: Of Some Fair Place. Of Some Fair Place is the story of the artists and artisans that saved Mineral Point from both figurative and literal decay. They bought and restored old buildings in the town, saving a precious part of Wisconsin’s history and bringing new life and energy to the community and the economy.
Eve Studnicka, the filmmaker, is the child of two Mineral Point artists, and her grandparents were among those that bought and restored the crumbling buildings in town. If you don’t know Eve, by the way, meeting her is reason enough to come to the screening. She’s an old soul if I’ve ever met one, and I can still hardy believe she’s barely even a college freshman (studying filmmaking at Columbia College in Chicago). She’s a great example of the new generation of creative people who grew up influenced by the Mineral Point dreamed up by the subjects of Of Some Fair Place. To read of Eve’s thoughts on the documentary, check out the November Voice of the River Valley.
Eve recently stopped by our house to talk about her film and to make figgyhobbin with Leslie:
Continue reading Of Some Fair Place & The Figgyhobbin
On my kitchen counter sits a basket of colorful squash. There is the traditional orange pie pumpkin, a dark green Japanese Cabocha with an orange bottom, a light yellow Delicata, a Butternut, and a Festival one which looks like it has been splattered with green and orange paint. I’ve been eager to experiment with these beauties!
The first dish I had to make was one of our favorites, butternut squash lasagna. It is flavored with sage infused browned butter, roasted pecans, a couple of cheeses, and a dash of nutmeg. I like to roast the squash at least one day ahead to make things easier. One bonus, it makes the house smell “in season”.
Continue reading Butternut Squash Lasagna
The past two weeks has brought us some of the best autumn colors in the Driftless Area. Sadly, we probably just have this weekend left to enjoy it. I have picked the last remaining fruits from the garden. I got a few more poblano peppers, green tomatoes, bitter melons, one opo (Asian zucchini), chamomile flowers, and the last bowl out of my over 50 pound glut of Concord grapes. Last weekend, Keith and I packed in several of our favorite fall activities. We made a trip out to Peck’s Farm Market West in Spring Green mainly to hang out with the goats and to look at their kitschy Halloween décor. I took the customary crazy pumpkin display picture. This year, they even had a golf cart with a giant pumpkin on the back. I also took a silly picture with a giant head of cabbage and realized that my own head was just as big in comparison!
Continue reading Autumn Notes & Molasses Poppy Seed Bread
Author, Karen Karbo will be releasing Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life this October. She has asked people to write about their experiences living by Julia’s rules such as “obey your whims”, “cooking means never saying you’re sorry”, and “every woman should have a blowtorch”. Rules, I hate “rules” except maybe when they are my own. It’s a good thing that Julia’s rules and my own align pretty well.
Rule #10 Every Woman Should Have A Blowtorch – “Make every meal an occasion” sounds to me like “Live each day as if it were your last!” Just plain overwrought. People do preach it but does anyone practice? Not me! But to love your art as well as your audience does seem to make for pretty good living, day by pleasant day.
Continue reading La Cuisine Julia
Last week, I had a lot of fun creating dishes with cheese we received from Landmark Creamery. The Creamery in Albany is owned and operated by Anna Landmark, who won last year’s Wisconsin Licensed Cheesemaker Scholarship from Wisconsin Cheese Originals. Here’s a little Q & A with Anna.
Driftless Appetite: When did you decide you wanted to be a cheesemaker?
Anna Landmark: Funny story, I made my first batch of “30-Minute Mozzarella” back in 2007 when I was on a make-everything-from-scratch kick. It was terrible. In fact it was so terrible, the texture so mushy, I couldn’t even swallow it, and it scared me off of making cheese again for another three years. But in the fall of 2009 my husband and I bought a small property in the country outside of Albany, Wisconsin, and soon after that started raising a small flock of sheep and some chickens. And the next year we purchased a family cow, a Milking Shorthorn named Freckles. She produced so much milk, around 5 gallons a day, that I had to quickly learn how to make cheese in order to free up some space in our refrigerator. And it actually started tasting really good! Cheesemaking quickly turned into a favorite hobby. We sold Freckles a year later and I purchased two milking goats, Gisele and Celeste, who produced a more reasonable gallon a day. But, I loved raising sheep and I really loved sheep milk cheeses. And because there are very few US-made sheep milk cheeses on the market, a seed took root in my brain that I could start a farmstead dairy and make sheep milk cheese. We ultimately decided that while I wanted to be a cheesemaker, we weren’t so sure about becoming dairy farmers. And the sheep dairies that were already in existence needed buyers for their milk. So I’m buying sheep milk and supporting family farms.
My first recollection of eating cheese is at my grandparent’s dairy farm. They always had a large block of Swiss cheese sitting under a glass dome on the kitchen table. It would be brought out for breakfast in the morning and generally left on the table until the end of the day when it was wrapped up and put into the refrigerator. Swiss cheese with breakfast, with dinner, and with supper. My grandfather was a stout Swiss dairyman. His grandfather was one of the original settlers of a small Swiss farming community here in Wisconsin in 1853. They came to farm and they brought their beloved Swiss cows and cheese recipes.
All growing up I never once imagined becoming a cheesemaker. Because of the terrible milk prices in the 1980’s and the pressure on farmers to pull cows off of pasture and milk more and more, my grandfather retired and discouraged his children and grandchildren from getting into farming. I got my degree in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin and from that point on, worked across the east coast and Midwest on various political campaigns and issues.
But my roots pulled me back to Wisconsin, and a noisy cow pushed me into cheesemaking. I fell in love with the tradition of cheesemaking, the craft of it, it’s the epitome of slow food and so grounded in the essence of what makes a place, the soil, the grasses, the livestock, and the cultures and tastes of the people who live there. I just hope my passion and a sense of that history comes through in my cheese.
Nuage Noir on Aaron Weaver Plate
Continue reading Landmark Creamery
Happy Frittata Friday! I dare you to find a more colorful one. Actually, I made this last night for dinner. Usually we’ve run out of ideas by Thursday or we don’t feel like cooking. So I challenged myself to put together the fastest, prettiest, and most flavorful dish instead of going out to a restaurant. That way we could save some money (perhaps to spend on a ridiculous treat dinner later) and have more time walking around the neighborhood or snuggling with the love of our lives, Ollie dog. Do you have a “go to” meal when you can’t think of anything else to make?
Continue reading Frittata Friday
I’m not sure if the Festival of Cheese at the ACS conference was my own personal heaven or hell.
Heaven, because there was a room filled with 1800 of the most delicious cheeses around… and they let me in (thanks Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board!).
Hell, because try as I might, I had no chance of sampling them all. Hell also, because I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from trying to sample them all. (I got to about 125 different cheese by the end of the night for the record.)
Continue reading American Cheese Society: Festival of Cheeses, Madison
Hi everyone, I’m back to blogging after taking the month of August off. How is your summer going? Keith and I have been keeping ourselves pretty busy. We’ve done a lot of kayaking, bonfires with friends, went sailing for the first time, drove out west, had a kimchi party; We’ve enjoyed meals in the open air as often as possible, attended the American Cheese Society Festival, spent some time in the garden and more.
The kitchen is looking pretty sweet right now with the season’s bounty. There is a curtain of herbs drying in front of the east-facing window which will be mixed to create a Buttonhill House blend for the winter. I’ve got a huge bowl of tomatoes to make sauce with tomorrow and another bowl of Harrow’s Delight and Asian pears from one of my favorite people. (Check out this month’s issue of Voice of the River Valley for my article about Mike Manogue.) Atop a three-tiered server sits some garlic, onions, and purple potatoes. The other day while hiking up on Merry Christmas Mine Hill, I found several wild plum trees heavy with ripened fruit! I picked some and made a couple of jars of plum and pear jelly to add to my collection of preserves. I present to you my spring/summer collection: strawberry-basil jam, raspberry-violet syrup, raspberry-basil-apple jelly, peach-chestnut jam, peach basil jam, roasted butter gooseberry jam (which I wrote about on High Street Beat), and the latest, plum-pear jelly. In the next month, I will be making some apple preserves as well as a lot of Concord grape jelly (per Keith’s request since I only left him one jar the last time I made it). I hope my friends will be happy with their holiday gifts!