Vine Vest North



Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal Archive

Alice in Dairyland Travel Journal by
Crystal Siemers-Peterman


2811 Agriculture Dr. PO Box 8911
Madison WI 53708-8911
Phone (608) 224-5115
DATCPAlice@wisconsin.gov

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Winter in America's Dairyland
Dec. 20, 2016

Not sure if you have noticed, but winter has officially hit Wisconsin. With wind chills below zero and at least 8” of snow on the ground, it is tough to deny that we’ve hit the coldest time of year.

Yesterday, as I was traveling to my monthly TV interview in Wausau in the bitter cold, I passed by many Wisconsin farms. While I was inside my warm vehicle, our state’s dedicated farmers were out doing their chores braving the cold. It is those moments that remind me how thankful I am for farmers and all of their hard work to provide safe and sustainable food for Wisconsin homes. Farmers cannot take a snow day or wait to go outside until it warms up because they have animals relying on them.

Yes, even in the bitter cold of Wisconsin winters, agriculture is still hard at work. Each year, the industry contributes $88.3 billion to our state’s economy and helps provide food and jobs for citizens. Whether it’s a winery fermenting their next batch, or a dairy farm milking their cows, a lot of aspects of Wisconsin agriculture are still churning during the winter months.

So next time you get to cozy up next to the fire and enjoy a warm meal, remember to thank our Wisconsin farmers for all their hard work year round.


Hixton Blue Collar Cafe & Jam
Dec. 15, 2016

Here in Wisconsin, we proudly call ourselves the cheese heads. Whether we are eating cheese and crackers or enjoying grilled cheese and tomato soup, cheese is intertwined into many of our favorite meals. If you’re beginning to be bored by the same old cheese trays or simple grilled cheese, take your holiday platters to the next level by including some jam from Hixton Blue Collar Café.

Based out of Hixton, Hixton Blue Collar Café serves up their gourmet jams during lunch and dinner, while also selling them at retailers throughout the state. Released in 2004, their family recipe jams have been perfected to add a little kick to your meals. Not only are they a fruit jam, they also contain Habanero peppers for some extra flair. They offer 6 different flavors, ranging from rasbanero to cranbanero to an orange-pineapple marmanero.

Spreading these jams on toast or adding them to your grilled cheese sandwich is a great way to add a “uniquely Wisconsin” flair to your everyday cheese trays. Learn where you can purchase these jams at bluecollarcafe.com.


Santa on The Farm
Dec. 14, 2016

Last night, in the bitter cold, I was surrounded by the warmth of holiday cheer in Kaukauna at “Santa on the Farm”.

The event was hosted at Milk Source in their Genetics barn and included Santa, some elves, two reindeer, a sleigh and of course – cows! It was so fun to see the kids’ faces light up when they sat on Santa’s lap and then watch their smiles grow as they walked into the barn and spotted all of the cows. After they were finished admiring the animals, they received cookies and milk. I’m sure many of them ate that cookie quickly and will be leaving some freshly baked cookies and a glass of milk out for Santa over Christmas.

That glass of milk left out at nearly every home for the man in red contains 9 essential nutrients that will help keep him nice and strong. Those nutrients include niacin – which helps the skin, protein – which builds strong muscles, and calcium – which builds strong bones and teeth. Last year, Wisconsin produced over 29 billion pounds of milk. That’s enough milk to fill nearly 54 billion 8 ounces glasses!

I’m sure Santa will get his three servings of dairy on Christmas Eve and I hope you do too.


Wisco Treats
Dec. 13, 2016

Many people during the holiday season not only give presents to their family members, but also give something special to their pets. Whether it’s a new scratching post for the cat to play with or a special bone for the dog, spoiling our pets is just part of the holiday season. For anyone out there with more unconventional pets, finding something to spoil them with may be difficult. I don’t have any suggestions for lizards or rats, but I do have a product from Something Special from Wisconsin that is perfect for horses.

Wisco Treats, based out of Abbotsford, produces a wonderful homemade horse treat that is a good way to spoil your large four-legged friends. One container contains 20 treats. The treats are made from grain, molasses, and alfalfa. They are a half dollar size which makes them easy to give and for your horse to eat.

Find out more about Wisco Treats by calling 715-316-3592 or emailing wiscotreats@hotmail.com.


Spark Spices
Dec. 12, 2016

Most families have a secret recipe that makes an appearance around the holiday season. In my family, that recipe is for our holiday ham. Only catch is, it is not a secret. If you asked anyone on my mom’s side how we make our holiday ham, they’d be happy to share with you the key to keeping the meat extra juicy and full of flavor.

If your family doesn’t have a secret recipe, but needs some extra flavor this holiday season, Spark Spices has you covered. After working in the meat processing industry for 35 years, the creator of Spark Spices decided to start his own business. His unique blend of spices came from years of practice and refinement. Dazzle your holiday guests with popcorn sprinkled with his Cinnamon Sparkle or use the Rosemary Brine on your favorite holiday meat.

Who knows, maybe Spark Spices will become your family’s best kept secret! Learn more about their spice options at sparkspices.com.


Winter Farmers' Market in Title Town
Dec. 10, 2016

During my monthly visit to Brown County, I attended the season's first indoor Farmers' Market in Green Bay.

Like many others, I enjoy visiting the Madison farmers' market around the capital square, but a winter farmers' market was a first for me. I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleased to find many vendors still selling fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as jams and honey. Everything about the farmers' market felt familiar and welcoming. As I walked around the room, stopping at various vendor booths, I learned more about the different crops grown in the Green Bay area and the story behind the food.

One farmer, named Austin, stood out in particular. He was working the Apple Lane Orchard booth. Austin was younger and full of excitement for his business. Austin entered into the apple business with his grandpa. His grandpa started as a dairy farmer and transitioned into a cash crop farm and orchard. Their business has grown over the years and they recently began providing apples to the Green Bay Packers. They currently have seven acres of orchards and continue to diversify the fruits they grow.

Hearing Austin's story was heartwarming and reassured me that the future of Wisconsin agriculture is strong. I encourage you to reconnect with the source of your food and visit a local market this winter - who knows, I might see you there.


An Interview with a Legend
Dec. 09, 2016

If you have ever tuned into WGN 720 or listened to the national farm report, chances are you’ve heard the voice Orion Samuelson. A native of Wisconsin, Orion is the most recognizable voice of agriculture in the country and a wonderful friend to Alice in Dairyland.

Annually, Alice has the honor of doing an interview with Orion about the Something Special from Wisconsin program. This year was no different and my interview occurred today. As I was driving towards his studio, I was filled with excitement and disbelief – was this really happening? Do I get to actually interview with Orion?

To say the interview was an honor is an understatement. His studio was filled with pictures of Orion and previous presidents and recognitions he has received. Just by looking at his walls I knew this was an interview I won’t forget.

One Something Special from Wisconsin company in particular that I brought along with me today for that interview was Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats.

Nueske’s is based out of Wittenberg and has a wonderful selection of Applewood Smoked Meats that are perfect for the holiday season. They are a 3rd generation company that still uses Old World family recipes to craft their meats. Whether you are eating their liver pate or enjoying a slice of their summer sausage, Nueske’s signature smoked flavor is second to none. They also offer a wonderful ham that is perfect for your holiday meals.

Learn more about Nueske’s at nueskes.com.


The Bird Seeder
Dec. 08, 2016

Picture this sight, 20 college kids, all with binoculars, staring at the ducks floating in a bay of Lake Michigan in downtown Kenosha. Each yelling out the type of duck they find and then the whole class turning and searching for that new breed through their lenses. I’m sure you can imagine the confused look on people’s faces as they walked by this intent group of young bird watchers. Well this was a scene from my ecology lab four years ago.

Perhaps you’ve been in a similar situation, calling out song birds as they visit your bird feeder or hearing your uncle yell what type of bird is circling high in the sky. If that sounds like something you or a family member would do, then The Bird Seeder has the perfect gift this holiday season.

The Bird Seeder covers most of your backyard bird-watching needs. They offer a monthly membership to a bird seed of the month club with options ranging from Wild Bird Party Mix to Song Bird Food to Suet Cakes. Get the membership in 3, 6 or 12 month subscriptions and they’ll ship the bird feed straight to your door. They also offer individual bags of bird seed in 5 or 10 lb options.

“Invite the Neighborhood Birds Over” with premium food from the Bird Seeder. Find more information at thebirdseeder.com.


Patrick Cudahy
Dec. 07, 2016

This afternoon I had the pleasure of eating lunch with a group of FFA students within District 2 of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. After lunch, I spoke to the group about careers in agriculture and then chatted with individuals one-on-one. Out of the 400+ career opportunities available in agriculture, one I specifically mentioned during my speech was becoming a cheesemaker.

Wisconsin has a long-standing tradition in cheese making, as well as meat processing. One company that combines those two industries is Patrick Cudahy.

Based out of Cudahy, Patrick Cudahy has been in the meat processing industry since 1888. They are well known for their Apple-Wood Smoked meats and also offer Apple-Wood Smoked cheese. Staying true to their roots, Cudahy still uses the original recipes and rotary smokehouse from when they first opened to create their “Uniquely Wisconsin” meats.

Combine their Swiss or Cheddar cheese with their pre-cut summer sausage or pepperoni for an easy holiday platter. Find more meat and cheese pairings online at patrickcudahy.com.


Northleaf Winery
Dec. 06, 2016

Northleaf Winery is the ideal winery for a history buff. It has delicious wine you can sip, while learning about a great story that started 166 years ago.

The winery building was built in 1844 to serve as a wheat warehouse. Over the years, the building changed ownership and purpose, going from wheat to automobiles to apples. In 2007 the Nordlof family purchased the building and began restorations to make it into a winery. They opened their doors in 2009 and have been welcoming visitors since. Located in Milton, the building that Northleaf Winery calls home has been a staple in the community for over a century. It is a place where friends and family can gather to enjoy the rich history of the town and wine.

The winery offers 26 different wines to choose from that offer a range of flavor and aroma to please every palate. One of their uniquely Wisconsin wines includes “Bright Spirits Cranberry” – made with 100% Wisconsin cranberries. They also offer gift basket options during the holiday season which pairs one of their wines with a simple meal kit.

Whether you are looking for a historic destination to visit with family or need a good wine to pair with your holiday meal, Northleaf Winery has you covered. Find out more at northleafwinery.com.


Marieke Gouda, Holland's Family Cheese
Dec. 05, 2016

Allow yourself to be transported to another land by enjoying Marieke Gouda this holiday season. Made in the traditional Dutch Way, Marieke Gouda tastes like it came straight from the Netherlands. Not only does the equipment, cultures, herbs and spices for Marieke Gouda all come from Holland, the cheesemaker does too.

Originally from a 60 cow dairy farm in the Netherlands, Marieke Penterman has brought her passion for dairy and cheese to Wisconsin. She and her husband, Rolf, began farming in Thorp back in 2002 and Marieke started making authentic Dutch cheese in 2006. Each day, fresh milk is pumped directly from the cows on her family farm to the processing vat to be made into delicious Gouda.

Her handcrafted cheese comes in 13 flavors, ranging from Black Pepper to Cumin to Honey Clove. From day one, Marieke Gouda has been award winning, claiming gold and grand champion titles at the US Champion Cheese Contest.

Grab a slice of some “Gouda” cheese today and treat your holiday guests to Marieke Gouda. Find out more about this Uniquely Wisconsin cheese and cheesemaker at mariekegouda.com.


Racine Danish Kringles
Dec. 01, 2016

Traveling as Alice has taught me many important lessons. Some of my favorite include – always start driving with a full tank of gas, keep a window scrapper nearby in the winter and each city/town has its own claim to fame. My hometown is known as the soybean capital of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dells is known for its water parks, and Madison has the capitol.

In Racine, Kringle is that city’s claim to fame. This light, flaky pastry has become an icon for Racine over the years and one company makes a delicious Kringle that you can share with family and friends this holiday season. Racine Danish Kringle is in its third generation of business. They still use traditional Danish recipes to make their Kringles fresh each day, one at a time.

For the holiday season, they offer a variety of gift boxes and season inspired pastries. In their “Holiday Wishes” gift box, you’ll find a chocolate silk and merry berry Kringle. They also offer a Packer or Badger themed boxed that is perfect for any Wisconsin sports fan. These boxes include Pecan and Cheesecake Kringles and Red Velvet and Cherry Cheesecake Kringles respectively.

This holiday season, share the Uniquely Wisconsin state pastry – Kringle – from Racine Danish Kringle. Browse flavors and learn more at kringle.com.


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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

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