It’s been quiet over here on the blog front. We’ve been in the midst of summer, happily enjoying visits from out-of-town friends, swimming, cooking and of course eating delicious meals together. My sister had a beautiful baby girl named Luna. YAY! Most recently, we were in Minnesota visiting family and took a little road trip to Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison is a lovely college town, home to University of Wisconsin. It is situated between Lakes Mendota and Lake Monona. We stayed at a charming B&B with a garden view, located within a ten-minute walk to the State Capitol.
Madison is a big foodie town. It is home to Willie Street Cooperative, http://www.willystreet.coop, a market full of organic fruits and vegetables which is very reminiscent of our markets back in Berkeley. An extensive bulk bin section loaded with a large selection of spices and dry goods is available. Many locally owned Wisconsin products are sold such as bread and cheese. We felt very at home shopping at Willie Street Coop.
Madison is also famous for the Dane County Farmer’s Market, http://www.dcfm.org, held in the square grounds surrounding the State Capitol. The market attracts hundreds of people and vendors, operating since 1972. I was inspired by all the local produce and even more pleased to see the number of people buying and supporting Midwest farmers.
The stands at the Saturday Farmer’s Market are set up in a circular pattern around the State Capitol. Everyone walks together in one direction, which eases the flow of traffic yet, also feels like a pilgrimage of sorts. A pilgrimage based on a slow food ideology.
As I was walking around what struck me most was the excitement overheard through conversations amongst friends. “You know you can use the golden beet leaves, sauté and eat them? They are delicious”, one woman said. “Oh really, I didn’t know?!” her friend exclaimed. I love hearing other people enthusiastically exchange cooking tips with each other. In this day and age where it is estimated that more people watch cooking shows than actually cook, it was uplifting to see and hear that yes, people are still excited about cooking.
If you are visiting Madison and get a chance to visit the Dane County Farmer’s Market, please say hello to Felix at Capri Cheese, http://www.capricheese.com. His cheese is made from goat and sheep’s milk. His feta cheese is so soft with the perfect hint of tanginess. His other hard cheeses are aged and taste delicious served over pasta or eaten with fruit and crackers. Felix is a lovely man whose story is even more interesting. He started his cheese making when his son was born because he was having a difficult time gaining weight and digesting cow’s milk. A friend suggested goat’s milk. His son was better able to digest the milk and quickly gained weight. So Felix purchased some goats and that is the beginning of Capri Cheese!
We also took a drive out to the country. We had the great fortune to visit Rainbow Fleece Farm, http://www.rainbowfleecefarm.com located in New Glarus, Wisconsin. It is a domestic fair trade farm with over twenty acres of land where lamb, chickens and turkeys are raised with sustainable practices. Animals have access to fresh air and sunshine; grass-based, free-range; no antibiotics or hormones are used. There is also an on-site woolen mill and yarn shop with fiber, blankets, “slow-sox” and eco-dryer balls. Educational classes are held throughout the year. We came home with some beautiful pasture-raised eggs and ground lamb which we turned into lamb burgers for dinner.
The weather on our last day in Madison was glorious. The sun was shining bright yet there was a slight crisp feeling in the air that reminded me of early autumn. You could even see some of the trees start to magically change color from dark green to lighter green to pale yellow.
There is always that small period of time in between seasons where it is no longer summer and not quite autumn. Time stands still and yet you can feel summer’s magic hand waving goodbye to longer days, children swimming and warm weather. It feels bittersweet because the passing of time happens quickly without much occasion to reflect and rejoice in the moment.
As I pass one of the final stalls at the market, I notice the last of the watermelon shines brightly on the bottom of the crate. What perches above it, waiting patiently are the broccoli, carrots and beets waiting for their earthy debut into fall. Just in time for harvests of squash and pumpkin to be wonderfully transformed into soup, pumpkin bread and other endless possibilities. All of which have their own sweetness too.
Sweet corn is abundant these days in the Midwest. There are so many options when it comes to cooking with corn. Cornbread is such a summer staple. It’s great served as a side with grilled sausages for an easy weeknight meal. We also love it with roasted tomato soup.
My cornbread recipe is not very traditional because I use a blend of three flours. It is deliciously moist due to a combination of yogurt, buttermilk and butter olive oil instead of butter. I’ve also added millet seed for extra crunch. I use only a few tablespoons of honey for a mere hint of sweetness making it savory and more similar to a traditional southern cornbread. If you would like it sweeter, feel free to increase the honey to total ¼ c. If you have leftover grilled corn, toss it in with the cornbread for an extra pop of sweet. Serve with honey, butter or ghee on top. Enjoy!
Vegetarian, Sesame-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free
- 1 c yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 c whole wheat flour
- 1/3 c all purpose flour
- 1 tbl baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ¼ c millet seed
- 1 c full fat yogurt
- ½ c buttermilk
- 2 tbl honey
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1/3 c butter olive oil or regular olive oil
Preheat oven to 375.
Whisk in a large bowl; cornmeal, flours, baking powder, salt, and millet seed. In another bowl, whisk together; yogurt, buttermilk, honey, eggs, olive oil & baking soda.
Gently fold wet ingredients into dry until just combined. Do not over-mix.
Heat a lightly oiled 9-inch cast iron pan on the stove top for a few minutes. Pour in batter and smooth out top.
Bake until top is golden and toothpick is inserted into center and comes out clean about 25-30 minutes. The crust should be crisp and golden.