||Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by Teyanna Loether
Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115
School is in Session
Feb. 01, 2016
Over the course of my year as Alice, I will visit with approximately 10,000 students in 100 4th grade classrooms. While this is the age that I most frequently visit during school blitzes with the Milk Marketing Board, I make many school visits to all ages and grade levels.
With all of the fun facts I share with the students, I try to incorporate science, social studies, and math concepts whenever I can. For example: If we have 1.28 million dairy cows in Wisconsin, each of which produce roughly 7 gallons of milk a day, how many gallons come from our hard working dairy farms each day? The students at Stoner Prairie Elementary in Fitchburg helped me find the answer when I brought "Mapping Out a Healthy Wisconsin" to them.
Between Beaver Dam and Amherst, I visited with nearly 200 students ranging from 4th grade to 8th grade. I shared with everyone that 1 out of every 9 jobs relates to agriculture in our state. The students could name several: nutritionist, veterinarian, food scientist, cheese maker, and mechanic, just to name a few!
Recipes from Alice: Crockpot Sauerkraut Soup
Jan. 29, 2016
This recipe represents the soul of many Wisconsinites: cheese, sauerkraut, and smoked pork. It's not for the faint of flavor heart, but it is perfect for sharing with friends on Super Bowl Sunday. My grandpa would have loved this recipe, as it combines some of his most favorite things.
I'm consistently asked what my favorite part of being Alice is. It's easy one to answer: the people I meet. I met Mr. Doug Kryder at the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance where I was a keynote speaker on agriculture education. Mr. Kryder is a District Administrator in the Crandon School District. He is working with the community and fellow districts with farm to school programs to develop a school garden in Crandon. He passed this recipe for his famous crockpot sauerkraut soup on to me, knowing that it featured a few Wisconsin staples.
Our 1,200 licensed cheesemakers produce more than 600 varieties, types, and styles of cheese. Do you know the cheese they produce the most of? If you're thinking cheddar, it's a good guess since we do indeed rank #1 in the nation for cheddar production-- but it happens to be mozzarella! Wisconsin is a hotspot of Italian cheesemaking, which offers up many choices for this soup. Incorporate your favorite Italian-inspired Wisconsin cheese to perfectly bring out the smoky pork and sauerkraut flavor!
2 smoked pork hocks
6 cups of water, divided
1 large red onion, diced
5 potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 tbsp. butter
2 Quarts (64 oz) Sauerkraut, drained & rinsed
10 oz. any grated salty Italian cheese (pecorino romano, MontAmore, mozzarella, etc)
3/4 cup sour cream
1) Cook pork hocks in 2 cups of water on high in crockpot for 5 hours. Remove pork hocks, separate meat from bones (it should fall off!) and shred. Reserve the liquid leftover in crockpot. Strain liquid through a fat separator (should end up with approx. 1.5 cups) and this stock set aside.
2) Return shredded meat to crockpot, add potatoes, onion, pepper, salt, onion powder, ground mustard, and cayenne pepper. Stir remaining 4 cups of water into 1.5 cups of stock from cooking pork hocks, add. Adjust spices to taste as needed. Cook on high for 2 more hours or until potatoes are cooked through. (Now would be a good time to let some homemade bread rise!)
3) Add butter, sauerkraut, cheese, and sour cream. Add more water to adjust consistency if needed, and spices to taste again. Cook on high for 1 hour more, or until heated through. Serve with fresh bread and enjoy.
The New Kids on the Block: WI Dairy Goats
Jan. 12, 2016
as seen in: The Country Today
Here in America’s Dairyland, 1.28 million dairy cows can be found throughout the countryside. Did you know that approximately 44,000 dairy goats call Wisconsin home too, ranking our state at the #1 spot for the number of dairy goats in production?
The goat industry is relatively young in Wisconsin and the United States, but as demand has steadily increased since the mid-1990s, the number of goats in our state has followed suit. Goat farms can offer a variety of products, including cheese, fluid milk, ice cream, butter, and soaps. Goats can also be raised for their lean meat, as goat meat is lower in fat than bison or even turkey.
Goat milk quality and safety is carefully regulated. Just as with cow’s milk, goat’s milk quality is defined by low bacterial and somatic cell counts, the absence of antibiotics, and it is cooled to at least 50 degrees or less within two hours of milking. Fluid goat milk sold commercially for consumption is also pasteurized, ensuring a safe and wholesome product.
Goats can effectively produce milk when pastured on marginal brushy land, and thus make an excellent choice for a farm that does not necessarily have the ideal land for other livestock. Of course, they milk best when fed a balanced diet of premium forage and grains. Depending upon diet and breed, milk production can range from 6 to 12 pounds, or about 1 to 1 ½ gallons, per day.
Eight major breeds of dairy goats are found in the United States, with a few being more popular for milk production. Saanens originated in Switzerland, and are a popular breed due to the doe’s large udder capacity and high quality milk production. Another common breed found on dairy goat farms is the Nubian. Nubians produce somewhat less milk, but it tends to be higher in components such as protein and butter fat which is desirable for making cheese.
Wisconsin’s 126 cheese plants and 1,200 licensed cheesemakers certainly appreciate our state’s #1 dairy goat ranking. Wisconsin is also the only state to offer a Master Cheesemaker Program®. Becoming a Master Cheesemaker requires that a candidate must be an active, licensed cheesemaker for at least 10 consecutive years.
Following rounds of rigorous coursework and testing, they may then become certified as a Master in one particular variety of cheese. Currently, 58 Master Cheesemakers are certified in Wisconsin who truly make dairy processing into a scientific art form. As a result of the diversity of livestock in Wisconsin, cheesemakers can incorporate milk from many species including cow, goat, sheep, and buffalo.
The proteins in goat's milk make for slightly softer curds when compared to cow's milk, which can incorporate a rich, creamy texture into many cheeses. Many of the goat cheese varieties are French in origin. People are often familiar with the fresh, spreadable version of goat cheese, or chèvre. Brie made from goat’s milk offers a unique flavor profile within a traditional classic. Goat’s milk can also be used for bleu and cheddar varieties, and can be combined with sheep and cow's milk to make signature artisan cheeses.
For more information on dairy goats, visit the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association website!
Sauk Prairie Community Club
Jan. 07, 2016
I traveled to my hometown of Sauk Prairie to speak to the local Community Club, a service organization of local community members. Approximately 50 people gather each month for a meeting and support a local restaurant. One of their big events is selling raffle tickets to raise funds for scholarships for graduating seniors in town. At the meeting they announced they broke their previous record and will be offering $10,500 in scholarships this year! It was certainly exciting to return to the community that built me and share the story of my 20,000 mile journey so far.
As Alice, I often speak to various civic groups to highlight Wisconsin agriculture and educate audiences on its diverse, $88.3 billion economic impact. I've spoken to Kiwanis clubs, stamp collectors clubs, and at education conferences. Many of these groups make positive impacts on their communities and it's an honor to speak to people that provide such support for those around them.
The wide variety of audiences that I speak to has allowed me to share the message of Wisconsin agriculture with both rural and urban areas, those with and without an agricultural background, and everyone who is impacted by agriculture. After all, everyone depends upon food, fiber, and the natural resources agriculture provides each and every day.
Each place I travel to my goal is to teach the audience something new and exciting about agriculture. Here, audience members were interested to learn that Wisconsin produces 95% of the nation's ginseng. On the flip side, I'm often asked questions that inspire me to learn more, too. They range from "Where does Wisconsin rank in hops production?" to "Are dairy farms in Wisconsin growing larger and larger?" I am very grateful and humbled to be allowed the privilege to have these types of conversations with the public, even in my hometown!
Happy New Year!
Jan. 04, 2016
Along with a New Year comes new opportunities, and I'm ready as ever to continue advocating for Wisconsin's incredible $88.3 billion agricultural industry. This time of year brings many school visits to thousands of fourth grade students, speaking at conferences, and continuing to write articles for papers and develop media materials.
My first television interview of 2016 was my monthly interview with Meredith Barack of NBC15 in Madison. We featured Wisconsin dairy goats and goat cheese. Did you know that our state ranks #1 in the nation for the number of dairy goats that produce milk?
There are approximately 44,000 dairy goats in Wisconsin, and our 126 cheese plants certainly appreciate being able to make their wholesome milk into cheese. Most people are familiar with the fresh, spreadable version of goat cheese, or chèvre. The proteins in goat's milk make for slightly softer curds when compared to cow's milk, which can incorporate a rich texture into many cheeses. Goat's milk Brie offers a unique flavor for a traditional classic. It can also be used for bleu and cheddar varieties, and is often combined with sheep and cow's milk.
You can learn more about this #1 industry through the Wisconsin Dairy Goat Association!
Dec. 22, 2015
Just three days until Christmas, but the Something Special from Wisconsin inspiration doesn't need to end! If you’re making a quick stop to find a thank-you for your host or hostess before the party, you can easily give the gift of a Wisconsin winery. More than 100 wineries call Wisconsin home, with one of those being Northleaf Winery located in Milton. Three generations of family craft Northleaf’s wines in a 165-year-old converted wheat warehouse. With more than 24 wines, Northleaf offers classic favorites such as Chardonnay and Merlot as well as pure Wisconsin flavors like Bright Spirits Cranberry.
Northleaf also offers a unique gift idea for the holidays: Message-in-a-Bottle gift certificates. This uniquely packaged gift certificate is contained in an empty wine bottle that has been sealed and delivered just in time for the holidays. If you just can’t choose which wine your loved one would enjoy the most, these unique gift certificates are a fun option.
This Wisconsin winery also offers many events throughout the year, including wine and chocolate pairings, paint your own wine glass, and cheese pairing events. Learn more online and enjoy Northleaf Winery!
Sweet P's Pantry
Dec. 21, 2015
Sweet P’s Pantry, located in Oconomowoc, specializes in artisan toffees and chocolates to bring a little sweetness to your holiday celebrations. Growing up, the creators of Sweet P’s loved how their family’s pantry lent to creativity, possibilities, and of course, the decadent foods made from it. After spending 15 years in the catering business, Sweet P’s is ready to cater to your sweet side.
Handcrafted in small batches, Sweet P’s gourmet toffee incorporates Wisconsin AA butter and comes in flavors such as Cherry Pecan, Cashew Almond, and Mocha Munch. Their caramels incorporate Wisconsin cream and honey, and for those that are looking for a savory treat the Rosemary Salt and Pepper Pecans are just right. If you just can’t decide, gift boxes are the perfect option for those with a sweet tooth on your gift list.
To find a list of retail locations or place a personal order, visit Sweet P’s website!
Recipe from Alice: Garlic & Goat Cheese
Dec. 20, 2015
The stars of this dish are the garlic and goat cheese. Wisconsin has roughly 150 garlic farms and in contrast to many other crops, the winter months happen to be the most crucial time of year for a good garlic growing season. Garlic is planted in the fall about three weeks prior to the ground freezing and most of the more than 600 types of garlic require at least 40 days under 40°F. While we are dreaming of a White Christmas this year, our garlic farmers are hoping temperatures work in their favor as well!
Wisconsin also ranks #1 in the nation for the number of dairy goats, which provides our 126 cheese plants with wholesome goat milk for making delicious cheese. As we are the #2 state for overall vegetable processing, a wide variety of veggies can be found locally. Wisconsin is home to roughly 450 acres of bell peppers. You can see how an annual tradition can turn into a dish made with many local ingredients.
Seeing as how this recipe was passed down to my family by the winemakers of one of Wisconsin’s more than 100 wineries, you’ll need a pairing for your holiday party. Goat cheese pairs well with a citrusy white wine like a Fumé or Sauvignon Blanc, or with an unoaked, fresh and fruity red.
•8 oz fresh goat chèvre
•One roasted red pepper, diced
•One garlic bulb, roasted
*hint: for a large gathering, you may want to double the recipe
1) Preheat oven to 375°F.
2) Roasting garlic: cut top of garlic bulb off so that tops of each clove are exposed. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap entire bulb in tinfoil. Bake in oven for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until fragrant and slightly soft.
3) Remove garlic bulb but leave oven set at 375°F. Once bulb is cool, unwrap from tinfoil. Gently squeeze the bulb from the bottom and cloves will easily slide out. Set whole, roasted cloves aside. Cloves can either be kept whole or rough chopped if desired.
4) Place goat cheese in an ungreased baking dish. Top with roasted red pepper, garlic cloves, basil to taste, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered in oven for 15 minutes, or until goat cheese is soft and warm. Serve with a warm baguette or crackers.
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Contact the Alice In Dairyland Program at:
2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115