It’s Back to School Time!

Back-to-School Special at Donny's Girl Restaurant

Last week my Facebook feed was brimming with everyone’s first-day-of-school pictures. What fun! This week I’m sharing a couple of my own. No, they’re not of my kiddos (although embarrassing them with old pics could certainly be fun:-), instead they’re of school-related projects I recently added to my portfolio.

Donny’s Girl Supper Club offers southeastern Wisconsin a most welcoming and delightful place to dine. This summer owners Lorn and Jaci had a minor setback when their building caught on fire. Thankfully, the damage was minimal and within weeks they were back to serving delicious meals to their beloved guests. This month Jaci is running a back-to-school special—that’s her daughter in the coupon (I like to call it the Brielle Special because she’s just so doggone cute). Check out the website I did for Donny’s Girl and then meander your way to Watertown for their back-to-school special.

Don’t forget your coupon!

Wisconsin Lutheran State Teachers' Conference in Milwaukee, WI

Education these days often gets a bum rap, but really, here in America we are truly blessed. We’ve got public schools, charter schools, parochial schools, home schools, Eschools…you name it, we’ve got it. If you really want to learn, here in America you can learn.

This same diverse opportunity came through in the registration program I recently did for the Wisconsin Lutheran State Teachers’ Conference (WLSTC). With over 1500 teachers from five states attending, you can bet this conference represents a variety of WELS Lutheran schools. This year we used photography submitted by WLSTC-members and featured everything from an inner-city school participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, to a rural school of only 53 students. If you want a quality, Christ-centered education, schools in the WLSTC will do just that.

So, folks, enjoy the back-to-school season! Just keep right on learning!

 

Bring Culture to Your Autumn with Crock-Pot Yogurt

Homemade Yogurt in Crock-Pot Recipe

I’ve sometimes thought it would be fun to be a food blogger. You know, experiment with recipes all day and shoot stunning photos that everyone drools over. I tried it for about a week and quickly realized it’s a ton of work. Plus, I don’t know that much about cooking.

What I do know is marketing. And healthy food. And a simple, artistic way of life. I’m really proud to promote my work for the upcoming Fermentation Fest because the festival embodies so many things for which I stand. Like the sponsors say in their event guide (which Adunate designed, by the way), Fermentation Fest is “a live culture convergence where farmers, artists, chefs, poets, cheesemakers, canners and eaters converge to celebrate food, farming and fermentation.” All done in the beautiful hills of Sauk County, Wisconsin, in October, the most colorful month of the year. Do try to make it!

So, to give you a foretaste of Fermentation Fest and to satiate my desire to be a food blogger, here’s a recipe for homemade yogurt. It’s easy-peasy and a good first step to bringing healthier, homemade food into your diet.

Homemade Yogurt in a Crock-Pot

Serves 8-16

Ingredients

  • 1/2 gallon milk, preferably organic (I use whole milk, but you can use others as well)
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt with live-active cultures (store-bought Greek yogurt is good) OR 1/4 teaspoon freeze-dried yogurt culture

Instructions

  1. Pour milk into your crock-pot and heat at a medium temperature to 180° F (depending on your crock-pot, this takes 30-90 minutes)
  2. Turn crock-pot off and allow milk to cool to 110° F (30-60 minutes)
  3. While waiting for yogurt to cool, measure out the yogurt culture  and bring to room temperature
  4. When milk reaches 110° F, add yogurt culture and whisk until fully blended
  5. Cover crock-pot with lid and wrap completely in towels (someday I’m going to make myself a quilted mini-sleeping bag for this:-)
  6. Leave it undisturbed for 6-8 hours  in quiet location. The longer you let it ferment, the tangier it will be. Sometimes I’ve accidentally let mine go for more than 12 hours and it’s still good, just a bit “wow” on the tang.
  7. After fermenting, refrigerate for at least four hours to allow it to fully set.
  8. Serve with fruit and granola. Enjoy and be healthy!

Last Note:  Save at least 1/4 cup of your homemade yogurt to make you next batch!


Looking for a designer or copywriter for your next food event? Let’s talk!

Paying It Forward With Appreciation

Like everyone says, where did the summer go? We just got back from an extended Labor Day weekend in northern Wisconsin for a friend’s wedding. Now that I’m settling back into routine, I realize, yes, the summer is officially over and I am long overdue for extending some kudos.

Summer’s highlight for our family was also a wedding. It was earlier in June and was such a happy day, thanks to so many people. I always appreciate when clients let me know they like my writing or design work. I love it even more when they tell others. So naturally, I want to pay it forward for these awesome businesses who made our family’s wedding weekend so much fun.

Overdue as it may be, here is my list of kudos, with great gratitude!

Madison, Wisconsin

Dane County Farmers Market, Madison, WI

If you’re going to have a summer gathering and want friendly Midwestern charm, Madison is the place to be. The Hampton Inn, just off the Capitol Square, offered us a wonderful place to stay and hang with family—and there were lots of us! The Dane County Farmers’ Market was fun, the city’s food scene was delish, and because it was the Summer Solstice weekend, there were street musicians everywhere.

 Studio Quest Hair Salon

Studio Quest Hair Salon, Madison, WI

Saturday morning a bunch of us piled into Studio Quest Salon looking like we just rolled out of bed (which was true) and after some serious pampering, we left looking like movie stars. Thanks Charlene and staff, you transformed us from bedhead to beautiful!

Quattro Formaggi Saxophone Quartet

Quattro Formaggi Saxophone Quartet, wedding music in Madison, WI

The Quattro Formaggi Saxophone Quartet (QFSQ) is a professional chamber group performing a delightfully eclectic mix of classical, jazz, Latin, and funk. Think Coltrane to Pachelbel, each as smooth as the next. Their Canon in D processional was as beautiful as the bride herself, and she was very beautiful!

 Bunky’s Cafe & Catering

Bunky's Cafe provides delicious catering for weddings in Madison, WI

Food. I cannot find enough culinary words to compliment the catered dinner Bunky’s Cafe served our party. Yes, their restaurant is delicious, but Teresa went over and above with her Italian and Mediterranean comfort food served on their Funky Bunky vintage china. Simply exquisite. Guests raved and lined up for seconds.

Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery

Rosie's Coffee Bar & Bakery, Madison, WI

Wedding pie instead of cake. How wonderfully intimate and from the heart! Rosie’s Coffee Bar and Bakery made the best. There was cherry. There was apple. There was strawberry-rhubarb and so many more. Everyone loved their homemade deliciousness!

UW-Marching Band!

When the bride and groom are alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who better to crash the party than Bucky Badger and select members of the UW-Marching Band. Imagine the ecstatic roar when Bucky ambled onto the dance floor, followed by the rumble of drums!

Thanks everyone! You made our summer great!

How You Can Preserve the Good Food Movement

Garlic cloves hanging in old barnI just can’t tell you how good our barn smells right now! Last week we harvested garlic and now one the hand-hewn beams of our Fachwerk barn is fully lined with this earthy delight. If former lives were such a thing, I’m sure I was an Italian maiden and my brick barn presided over an old-world villa. Do ya think?

Like everything else from our garden, this garlic is so-o-o-o much more flavorful than anything you buy in the grocery store. If there’s a disadvantage to raising your own food, it’s that you become acutely aware of just how tasteless and removed from its natural state our retail food has become. Call me a snob (or an empty-nester who can now afford to spend more), but more times than not I’ll go out of my way to shop at Willy Street Cooperative in Madison, and other such stores, simply because its food is organic and/or locally-grown. Think fresh, flavorful and healthy. (Unfortunately, I know I’m using more time and fuel — it’s not easy being green.)

Have you ever read Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé? I first ran into this book while working for the Youth Conservation Corp in the late 1970s. Such ecological food practices were revolutionary back then and, while some of her theories have since been refuted, Lappé is still credited as being an introducer to the active food movement we have today. What I find interesting is how 40 years later, her forewarnings of an unsustainable food system are now here to haunt us. And she was right. Today we have declining health, depleted soils, and a problem of affordably producing quality food, simply because the good food movement is not as much of American life as it should be.

In his article Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up to Be Farmers, Bren Smith, a farmer himself, offers suggestions for preserving the good food movement we appreciate today. He writes of political agendas, like supporting affordable health care and shifting subsidies from factory farms to family farms. But guess what, there are also things we can do at the grassroots level that are as equally important for supporting good food—simple things that not only benefit ourselves but society as a whole.

  • Be willing to spend more for better food, and better health.
  • Support small farms instead of factory farms—research the farm, maybe even take a drive to the country to see it.
  • Buy a CSA share from a farm near you.
  • Support food cooperatives—become an owner for greater discounts.
  • If you don’t have access to grocery stores that carry local and organic food, ask your grocer to do so. Do the same with the restaurants you patronize.
  • Become a farmer yourself: grow a garden.
  • Speak up! Write about it. Talk about it on social media. Make people aware of what you or others are doing with good food.

Fermentation Fest: A Live Culture Convergence

Nameplate for Fermentation Fest

Turn on the T.V. or page through any number of magazines and you’ll find that Wisconsin is cultivating a prestigious culinary scene. From James Beard award winners to specialty food entrepreneurs, our beloved Badger State is taking on an epicurean eminence that goes far beyond beer, cheese, sausage and fish fries.

Knowing this, you can rightly assume Wisconsin’s putting on some sumptuous food festivals. Among them, Fermentation Fest is literally bubbling its way to the top.

Definition of culture shed, by Jay Salinas, Wormfarm InstituteNow in its fourth year, Fermentation Fest is a 10-day celebration of the arts, farming and fermented food. There are how-to classes for the ancient art of fermentation. There are tasting events that expand one’s senses beyond the homogeneity of today’s grocery stores. There are musicians, poets and storytellers. And, if that’s not enough, there is art—how does a 50-mile self-guided Farm/Art D’Tour through the breathtaking farmlands of
Sauk County grab you? Think meandering country roads…rolling unglaciated hills…October, in all its autumn glory. As organizers define it, Fermentation Fest is a celebration of the “cultureshed” of Wisconsin’s Driftless area.

Fermentation Fest is the brainchild of Donna Neuwirth and Jay Salinas, and their Wormfarm Institute, a non-profit organization fostering arts and agriculture. Supported in part through the National Endowment for the Arts and ArtPlace America, Sauk County is the only rural county to receive art funding, says Donna. The fest is also hosted by the Sauk County UW Extension and the Reedsburg Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored by a multitude of businesses and organizations. Yes, Fermentation Fest is truly a convergence of culture.

So this year I’m super excited to be part of Fermentation Fest. My dear friend, Ann Foley, who designs for The Creative Company and Madison’s Brat Fest—another great food event—recommended me for doing the Fermentation Fest newsletter. Thank you, Ann!

And thank you, Donna! I’m honored to be working on this project and loving the time I get to spend in beautiful Sauk County!

Hey, make sure you sign up to get the latest on Fermentation Fest’s schedule and registration!