From Spring to Summer

The past couple of weeks have been a crazy time in the kitchen for me.  I’ve started drying herbs for the winter, made some kimchi with napa cabbage and garlic scape, cleaned and froze some strawberries for later use, and I made some lavender sugar.  The day before summer solstice, we foraged for young, green, black walnuts which have been soaking for several days in water that has to be changed twice daily to get rid of the bitterness and will eventually be turned into preserves.  (Look for my article about it in the July issue of Voice.)  In addition, I finally bought an ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer.  My fear that it would make me into an ice cream eating machine was abated by the fact that it actually took at least a day to make a small batch.

Foraged Berries & Wildflowers

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Snippets of Spring

The bountiful season is off to a good start!  We have gotten some much needed rain in the past couple of days which means all the plants are getting nice and fat.  When the rain stopped for a bit yesterday morning, I went to check on my garden and gathered bits and pieces of herbs and flowers for breakfast.

Herbs & Edible Flowers

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Spring Salad Inspired by Ottolenghi

I’ve long been an admirer of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks.  Keith and I finally had a chance to eat at one of his restaurants recently and the experience left us pledging to make more unique flavor combinations, especially when preparing salads.  Our market bag last Saturday consisted of mix lettuces and French breakfast radishes from Shooting Star Farm and a bundle of asparagus from Bures.  We also got invited to one of our first potlucks of the season.  Local produce and a party is always a great motivation to make something fun!

Spring Salad

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Roast Pork with Milk

Hello there!  Keith and I recently got back from France.  We have been missing the gooey cheeses and bistro cooking so I thought I would make something special for our Friday night dinner.  I found this recipe for roast pork with milk at Cooking with the New York Times last autumn and we just love it.  The temperature is supposed to dip down into the forties this weekend and it is just the perfect dish to  have bubbling on your stove.  If you’d like it a little heftier, serve it with some polenta, orzo, roast potatoes, or a grain of your choice.  Don’t forget to have it with a glass or two of your favorite wine.  I suggest going to the farmers’ market to purchase some local pork, veggies and herbs to accompany this dish.

Roast Pork with Milk (with Bures asparagus, chive blossom, and a glass of Bordeax)

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Gratitude and Three Dishes

If you aren’t already in the know, spring is possibly the most glorious event here in the Driftless region.  Nothing compares to the jewel green of the hills just before sunset.  I’ve seen cows jogging in the pastures and no longer needing to be side by side to keep warm.  The sheep are out naked, freshly sheared from their winter coat.  The flowers have been like a display of fireworks starting with the crocus, then the daffodils, tulips, violets, lilacs, and the lilies of the valley.  Mineral Point is heady with the scent of daffodils, lilacs, and lilies of the valley.  Even more spectacular was being at the Tippy Top Orchard with over three hundred fifty pear and apple trees in peak bloom.  Bazile proudly showed me their latest addition, a hive of bees and Mike planted comfrey around the garden to fertilize the soil.  He exclaimed, “I think this just might be the best year yet at the orchard!”

Tippy Top Orchard

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You Can Never Hold Back Spring

Hello there.  I don’t know about you but Keith and I have been busy with various projects, work and travel.  In February, we got a little break from the brutal temperatures by spending a little time in San Francisco with good friends.  While there, I almost cried at the sight of a dandelion flower!  I’m sure you are as happy as I am with this nicer spring weather.  It has just been gorgeous out with that intense green.  This evening, I made a beautiful rhubarb gin and tonic cocktail decorated with some wild violets that have been taking over the yard.

Spring Things

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Live From Lincoln Center at Wyoming Valley School

Last October, Keith and I were invited by our friends Sara and Erik for a night of jazz (Roots of Ragtime) and Brazilian dinner at the Wyoming Valley School in Spring Green.  It was the first of the monthly winter series of Live from Lincoln Center.  On our drive home, I exclaimed ”What is New York doing in the countryside?  I love it!”.  Keith and I have been to three of the five events so far and we have definitely enjoyed ourselves.  A couple of weeks ago, we viewed the New Orleans Songbook concert.  We had jambalaya, red beans and rice with andouille sausage, corn maque choux, greens, and king cake prepared and served by Jacki Singleton.  I’m not ashamed to admit that we had a second helping of the delicious king cake while tapping our feet to the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.  There are two events left in the season.  Go check it out!

Here’s a little Q & A with the host, Erik Flesch.

How did you come up with the idea of livestreaming jazz plus dinner series?

Wyoming Valley School Cultural Arts Center was contacted in autumn 2014 by Jazz at Lincoln Center, a nonprofit with a mission to entertain, enrich and expand a global community for jazz through performance, education and advocacy.  We on the WVS board of directors immediately recognized a synergy between the outreach mission of the two organizations — and we saw that the dynamic organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design would be perfectly suited to host a series of exciting evening concert events during the winter season, when the local entertainment scene usually mellows out.

We installed a satellite dish and high-speed internet service to handle the digital streaming. The first couple of months, we used a great screen and sound system rented from the Spring Green Film Club, but we rapidly upgraded the sound and optical equipment.  Seth Alt and Dylan Oliver of Sweeping Design generously offered to donate for the season the amps and speakers that power the Sh*tty Barn in the summer months.  Then a prominent area resident and media aficionado donated a new 10′-4″ screen and seasonal use of a high-quality digital projector.  Guests now experience a concert that is truly intense: Virtuoso performances with a sound clarity and visual power that transports the audience to deep concert experience space.

How did you end up being the host?

To me, the idea of getting out into the country for cultural enrichment is totally romantic — so I knew the concept of pairing locally sourced cuisine with world-class international jazz once a month in an architectural jewel box like Wyoming Valley School would be something I would personally enjoy being part of with my wife, Sara. Several other members of the board, particularly Mary Ann and John McKenna, worked hard to bring the event to fruition. The rest has evolved naturally.

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Dewey’s Cafe, Lancaster

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Going out for breakfast is my favorite thing to do on the weekend.  And we have a lot of good options: the Red Rooster, the Pleasant Ridge Store, the General Store, and so on.  But this year has seen a new place shoot right to the top of the list and quickly become our go-to spot.  It’s called Dewey’s and it is in Lancaster (that wasn’t a very dramatic reveal unless you skipped over the title).

Dewey’s is run by a nice couple named Halee and John.  John grew up in Lancaster, but they’ve just moved back to town from New York where both worked in restaurants–including New York brunch staple Prune.  Their experience in NYC kitchens definitely shows through; there is a precision and finesse to the food that can be hard to find out here (particularly at breakfast spots).

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English Pork Pies

Keith:  One of the hardest English foods to get in America, I’ve found, is the pork pie.  If you haven’t had one, think of the pork pie as the northern cousin of the pasty (and you can’t walk through Mineral Point without tripping over a pasty).  Even as my beloved Scotch egg becomes more and more common in restaurants, pork pies are still few and far between.

Because I’m not much of a baker (dough and I historically have not played well together), I never really thought of making my own.  Luckily, Leslie loves kitchen experiments and she decided to take on this delicious project.  While she did all the hard work I got to keep trying samples and giving advice to recreate the proper pie.  Here’s hoping it becomes a yearly tradition.

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Leslie:  I first made these pork pies two years ago.  It was really fun to place my pork-centric order with Lois at Marr Valley View Farms.  I asked for pork shoulder, lard, pork bones, trotters, pork belly, and bacon!   Even better was the actual process.  There are several steps to to make these delicious meaty treats which we will divide into 3 segments.  It is quite time consuming but I guarantee that your taste buds will be pleased.  I followed Nigel Slater‘s recipe except for replacing the regular bacon with smoked bacon and adding a bit of salt into the meat (right before filling the pastry).

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Top 10 Things to do this Fall in Southwest Wisconsin

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I can’t believe that fall is upon us once again.  I hope you had a wonderful summer!  There are so many things that I love about this season.  My ultimate favorite is that first bite of apple, just seconds after picking it from a tree.  Second, a good bonfire while sipping extra dark hot chocolate.  Third, knowing that the mosquitoes are finally gone!  Keith and I enjoyed the fall colors last Sunday while kayaking on Twin Valley Lake at Governor Dodge State Park.  We might go for an apple drive this weekend to Gays Mills then cross the Mississippi and end up at some quaint little town.  Who knows?  Anyway, we thought it would be fun to put together a few things that we like to do in the fall plus events happening in the next couple of months that caught our attention.  Have fun filling up your bellies and your calendar!

1.  Tour de Cheese

2.  Driftless Film Festival

3.  Fall Art Tour

4.  Fermentation Fest

5.  Vennelag 513 Høst Frokost Fall

6.  Driftless Folk School

7.  Vesperman Farm Corn Maze

8.  Visit your favorite apple orchard.  Pick some apples to make pie and enjoy an apple cider doughnut or two!  Check this list to find the orchard nearest you.

9.  Go on a fall color drive then catch a ferry ride in Cassville.  Last day of operation, October 26, 2014.

10.  Enjoy every last bit of fall sunshine!  Go hiking, kayaking, picknicking, or camping.  Shop the markets while they last!

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