Last Saturday we got to attend one of my favorite things in the spring. Joe and Christy Cole’s first kiln firing party at Windy Ridge Pottery. We were like moths drawn to flames toward the giant 3 chambered kiln dubbed “the camel” by my friend Claire. Thank goodness there is always lot of scrumptious food and beer before you get too close! Joe Cole has singed his eyebrows a couple of times but it is understandable because he is the master of the kiln (meaning, we let him do most of the work). It is quite a difficult job because the fire has to be fed for 2 whole nights. Christy, the mistress of the kiln, had to stay up the second night (after most of us have gone home to bed). The kiln was finally opened yesterday. After a bit of inspection and cleaning, they will be ready for Clay in May this weekend.
On December 10th Arcadia (the new book store in Spring Green) hosted a special dinner with Isaac Spicer, the chef of Milkweed. Everything for the 5 course (+ an amuse-bouche) dinner was sourced locally, from within 30 miles of Spring Green (and local is not always an easy task in Wisconsin in December). After the starters (homemade breads with lots of whipped butter) there was a squash soup with micro-greens and pickled radish, followed by a roasted beet and Pleasant Ridge Reserve salad. The main course was Guinea Hog cooked with apple cider, served with wilted spinach and mashed potatoes+celeriac. Finally, for dessert, there was a a choux-style pastry filled with (lightly) carmelized apples and custard and served with more custard as well as raspberry and mint sauces. Given our previous experiences with Milkweed, we expected excellence and we were not disappointed. For me the highlight of the meal was the roasted beet salad, but the whole meal was top drawer.
Two years ago at the Spring Green Art Fair, I remember being drawn to some really striking and imaginative paintings by local artist, Nick Ringelstetter. I just knew I had to have one of his pieces someday. Two years later while visiting with my friend Claire at the Johnston Gallery in Mineral Point, she informed me that they had just started carrying some new pieces she thought I might like. They turned out to be Nick’s. I saw the one I just had to have, a quick photo text to Keith to see if he agreed, and we purchased our first painting. Quintessential Wisconsin isn’t it?
Last month, my friend Jony informed me that she was going to make some crock pickles. “What are crock pickles?”, I asked her. I wondered whether they were related to the ”crocs” in the Nile. Are they as dangerous? Probably not. Crock pickles are cucumbers that are pickled in a crock. A crock is a piece of pottery used mainly for storing food and water. What is special about these pickles, beside the amazing antique crock to contain them, is that they go through a controlled fermentation using a brine (water and salt solution). Conventional or commercial pickles are made with salt and vinegar and do not go through fermentation. I was very excited since I’ve never seen this process before. It is a very old fashioned way of preserving food, the way Jony’s grandmother Karolina use to do every year. Unfortunately, Keith and I had planned a vacation out west when Jony had the pickling party, but we were glad that she agreed to document the entire process for us. Thank you Jony.
Familar with TED? It’s a non-profit which hosts conferences for short talks on a variety of subjects. They often make the news when the speaker is famous. Maybe you remember Jamie Oliver’s talk from 2010 about teaching kids about food. Or Macolm Gladwell back in 2004 talking about spagetti sauce. There have been a lot of other TED talks, given by less noted people, which are just as interesting. I recently watched a talk from Nigel Marsh on work/life balance. I have my own work/life/blog balance issues right now, so it was particularly interesting to me, but I imagine many of you are in the same boat. Now Nigel’s solution to his work/life balance problems seems to have been to write a book about the whole thing and make tons of money so he doesn’t need to work. Probably not a scalable solution, but still, at least he asks the right questions in his talk. Continue reading Paoli Bread & Brat Haus
You’re probably starting to think about lunch now, right? Take a look at that plate below. Are you salivating yet? (I know I’m so cruel but I’m not sorry.) Recently, Keith and I went to New Glarus to shop at Hoesly’s Meats. This family company has been in business for over two decades and is still going strong. We bought some of their award winning natural casing wieners with the plan to make the classic Chicago style hot dog. What would summertime be without this sloppy messy deliciousness? Go get some!
Steamed natural casing all beef wiener, poppy seed bun, yellow mustard, white onions,
dill pickle spear, sweet pickle relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, and celery salt
Two weekends ago, we attended the Kickapoo Country Fair up in LaFarge, WI. It’s an event put on by Organic Valley to highlight local and organic food. We’d actually wanted to attend last year but had been busy. This year they invited us up to cover the event as jounalists–and I love it when people confuse us with the real media, so we just had to go. First impressions of LaFarge were…amazing. It’s a beautiful location. Definitely driftless, but quite different than our part of the state. I want to buy a little vintage British convertible to drive around those country roads on the weekend. The closest we’d been to LaFarge before was Viroqua. It just goes to show how much exploring we have left to do before we really know this area. Continue reading Driftless Appetite at the Fair
Matt Sweeny of Simple Earth Hops has recently told me about a great opportunity to help and be involved with his passion for hops. He is fundraising through Kickstarter, a web based platform for creative projects all over the world. The individual/group present their ideas, selects a deadline date, and a monetary goal. They receive funding for their project only if the goal is met by the deadline. Please check it out!
One advantage you often hear about buying from the Farmer’s Market is that you get to know the people who grow your food. One thing no one mentions is that this is only a good thing if you like the people who grow your food. Luckily that’s not a problem for Rink and Jenny of Shooting Star Farm, since they are without a doubt some of the nicest people I’ve met (the name of their farm is the reason for the embedded video below… which in turn inspired the title of the post).
One of the best things about Mineral Point is the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Watertower Park. And one of the best things about the market is Shooting Star Farm. Leslie recently took a trip out to the farm to get some pictures as the new growing season began. A few days later I met up with Rink* to talk a little bit about their farm.
Meet Aaron Weaver and Krista Loomans. They are potters who will be participating in Mineral Point’s Second Annual Clay in May Pottery Tour this weekend. We met this wonderful couple about three years ago at the Mineral Point Farmer’s Market. The picture below was taken last fall during the Fall Art Tour. I was especially happy that day because I finally found some locally made egg cups (held by Aaron). We have used them a lot for eating eggy soldiers. They are strips of toasted bread dipped into a soft boiled egg.