The polar vortex may have passed (or has it?!), but we’re still under a blitzkrieg of snow and negative wind chills. I often find, when speaking to people about the Midwest during winter, there’s a misunderstanding that when our gardens and farms are covered in snow, we have no access to fresh food. But fear not, intrepid travelers. Fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables are abundant–if you know where to look.
WE’RE BACK! Sorry for the brief hiatus – we had a death in the family and I was consumed with writing my book (to be released by Arcadia Publishing in May!!!). But we’re back now! Be on the lookout for new posts. We’ve got a lot coming up from shops to tours to restaurants to boats.
In other news, we recently had a whirlwind few days as we trekked out to Lincoln, Nebraska, to celebrate their burgeoning farm-to-fork movement. They’re doing some great things out there in the heartland, and have given us an idea for an event we’d like to plan for Milwaukee. More on that later. While we were there, we schmoozed with a certain celebrity you may know:
Let me tell you, he is such a nice guy. And his wife, beautiful and equally as genial. I’ll be sharing more on this trip in the weeks to come, but in the meantime, let me leave you with this awesome picture of Summerfest fireworks to keep you anticipating more posts. See you soon!
So, I’m really just a big kid. I know this about myself. I am a giant child in an adult’s body. And normally that’s fine. Well, except when a dash of immaturity jumps in – like when I giggled in the car the entire way to the Horny Goat Hideaway. Look, we live 45 minutes away. That’s a lot of giggling. But it is at least a LITTLE funny, right? Right?? Guys?
Anyway. Once I had control and we left the parking lot, the experience was really a mixed bag. Kyle found a lot of Yelp reviews before we went talking about how the staff is rude, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t disagree with that. The guy that sat us seemed completely put off that we didn’t want to sit by the bar and preferred a table upstairs. Although, I’m not entirely sure if he was being obnoxious or if he was just really confused. He seemed like he had no idea what was going on the entire time we were there. Maybe just first-day jitters? Who knows. The place wasn’t excessively busy when we arrived, but I got the sense that our waitress was feeling super rushed, and it came across in her attitude. She seemed to hit her stride as the dinner crowd came in and throughout the meal became friendlier as she got busier. Continue reading
About a year ago, I started canning. It was too hot for my wussy self to be outside gardening last summer, so instead, we bought all the fruits and veggies from the grocery store. I had wild dreams of making the best damn jams on the planet. I got to work making cantaloupe jam, mimosa jelly, raspberry jam… but none of it set, regardless of how much pectin I shoved in those little jars. In effect, not only did I waste perfectly good fruit, but I also wasted my supplies. Which is why I couldn’t be happier that Elsie Mae’s Cannery and Pies is now open in downtown Kenosha. Well, to be fair, they’ve been open since November, but this was the first time I had been there.
The store is owned by an adorable couple with a brand new son (congrats guys!) and all the products are made with locally sourced ingredients. We stopped in around breakfast time – which, for me, is about 10:00 – and I had a slice of Buckeye Pie. It’s just like the traditional buckeyes. Chocolate, peanut butter, and delicious. Yeah, I know, it’s not the healthiest breakfast option… but it was good. Don’t judge me. Anyway.
I’ve heard that people in Philadelphia don’t eat Philly cheese steaks. Well, let me just say to all those Philadelphians – THANK YOU. I’m more than happy to eat your share over here in good old MKE. I’m pretty sure ours are better anyway. I mean, even Philadelphia Magazine rated the sandwiches at The Philly Way as the best Philly cheese steak in America. More than once. Clearly we needed to go there and try this glorious sandwich.
In the spirit of full disclosure, this was my first ever cheese steak. If that’s shocking to you, it was shocking to me too. This sandwich combines some of my favorite things: meat, bread, grilled onions, cheese whiz (don’t judge me, I’ll eat this cheesy nectar with everything)… And then to find out I could get MORE types of cheese? Heaven!
There’s an old Wisconsin saying, “If fresh cheese is what you seek, make sure to listen for the squeak.” The phrase has been passed down for generations. It’s a very important part of Midwest folklore, and cheese tasters have abided by the rule for centuries. I’ve heard that some cheesemakers inscribe the words in food coloring on the inside of the cheese rind during production for good luck.
Okay, okay, that’s not true. And “old saying” clearly translates to “hey, look what I just made up!” But still, it is true that the fresher the cheese, the more it will squeak. And dare I say, the squeakiest cheese I have ever enjoyed came right out of Milwaukee, at Clock Shadow Creamery.
Clock Shadow is Wisconsin’s first creamery in a city and was designed with the goal of having a local, accessible cheesemaker for city residents and visitors. Three cheesemakers work overnight to create four flavors of curds (plain, garlic dill, tomato basil, jalapeno) and about ten cheeses based on yellow and white cheddar (ricotta is the newest). If you’re unfamiliar with the cheesemaking process, here’s a quick overview.
Okay, okay, I know it’s winter time and it’s all snowy outside and all that garbage, but I can’t stop thinking about Apple Holler in Racine County. Not because I miss apple picking season (although I do – I’ll get back to that later), but because of the goats. That’s right, GOATS. Goats are quite possibly one of the best animals on the planet. Don’t believe me? Have you SEEN this video?
That’s some serious amazing goaty goodness. Anyway, all I’m trying to say is that goats are awesome. And Apple Holler has some you can feed. And they have a goat bridge so they can goat walk over to a goat food pulley system and… and then I fall apart from cuteness. Alas, the goats don’t seem to be out during the winter time. But you know what is? REINDEER. (These people, I swear. They just have a direct line into my big sappy heart.) Which brings me to the point of this post: Apple Holler rules in winter, too!
My family normally hikes up our typical Midwestern flannel sleeves (I’m lying, only me and my mom wear flannel shirts, sometimes) in September or October and hauls it to the Holler so we can grab an apple stash. Apple Holler has 74 acres of orchard and 30 varieties of apples. You can also take a hayride, watch pig races, shop in their bakery and store, watch some dinner theater, eat some delightful food in their restaurant, go through the corn maze… you get the idea. Last year we brought home something like 130 apples. We always spread them all out on the dining room table and divvy them up to go to our respective homes and morph into pies, applesauce, cakes, and all that delicious nonsense. It’s something of a family tradition. So when we decided to go Hollering in winter this year, I was a little trepidatious.
I was hoping the cold and snow would calm the crowds a little bit. It didn’t. Which is good, I think, because the owners are super nice and will chat with you like an old friend if you get them talking. We waded through the crowd to our table. Now, one of my favorite things about Apple Holler is the weekend breakfast buffet, and it did not disappoint. Cheesy hashbrown casserole, pancakes, eggs, apple walnut French toast, bacon, cinnamon apples, and then some. The regular breakfast menu is equally as good. Have you ever seen a salmon gorgonzola omelet? I hadn’t, until my brother ordered it. And I stole a bite. And it was delicious. The waitstaff offers hot, homemade apple cider to everyone. There’s really not much better than hot apple cider on a cold day. Well, except for going outside and taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Which we didn’t have time to do, but still. We spent the time after our meal browsing the gift shop, bakery, and store. We visited with the reindeer outside and threw a couple snowballs. Then we headed home with bellies full of excellent food (and a to-go container of the cheesy hashbrown casserole. MAN I love that stuff).
Plan your visit:
Address: 5006 S. Sylvania Avenue, Sturtevant
Parking: Regular lot, overflow lot, and ample street parking available along the frontage road.