Everything I Love about Wisconsin in ONE Place!

I’ve noticed our cheese adventures have slowed down a bit this summer.  Why? Maybe we’ve been busy doing other fun summer things…maybe we’re more drawn to cheese during cold, winter months.  Anyway, I was thrilled nonetheless when we visited Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet this past weekend on our way back from camping. They are located right off the highway in DeForest, Wisconsin.  You can’t miss the mouse on top of the roof nor the massive bovine!

The GIANT cow welcomed us so nicely!  We all know that giant Wisconsin cows make the best cheese!

Giant cow outside of Ehlenbachs Cheese

The Cheese Chalet is all kitsch, but so much fun! Daddy O. posed in front of it, knowing the drill from our other cheese adventures!

Front of Ehlenbachs Cheese Chalet

The store is amazing – very spacious and full of everything I love about Wisconsin: cheese, local micro-brewery beer, wine, and even some chocolate! The selection of curds and cheese was vast and impressive!

Ehlenbachs Cheese Chalet

So much to love about this store!

We are currently devouring the Peppercorn Ranch Cheese Curds and have a 6 Year Old Cheddar waiting for us in the fridge. Other kinds of curd flavors were garlic & dill, horseradish, marbled, basic yellow, and I think some sort of cajun too.  YUM!  Some of the cheeses flavors we noticed were caraway swiss, hot pepper cheese, pizza cheese, horseradish cheese, garlic cheese, baked cheese, and the traditional flavors of colby, monterey jack, brick, swiss, gouda and MORE.

Outside of the building, they had this mural of Wisconsin, which I love! We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful state with so many state parks, lakes, Door County cherries, cheese factories everywhere, Milwaukee breweries (okay AND New Glarus, Madison, and Chippewa Falls microbrews), and the beloved Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, and our favorite of all three the University of Wisconsin Badgers!

mural of Wisconsin

As I looked at the map, I was reminded of all the cool places I would like to visit with my sweet family.  We had just enjoyed camping in the Dells, but there’s so much more to explore in this great state!

Thanks for following along as I write about it all on Go Mama O.!  Enjoy the remnants of summertime!

Fresh & Flavorful Straight from the Cheese Maker

I have had this post sitting as a draft for sometime now, and I’m FINALLY going to put some meat on it’s outline bones it and push it out of the nest to fly into the wide wide web world.

Writing this post reminds me of a blogging friend – the Do Gooder Mama – someone whose awesome blog hasn’t had much to say as of late.  I hope all is well with her and am including links to her blog for you to enjoy.

One of her posts Shop Small. Buy Local. Do Good. helps explain my reasons for buying cheese straight from the factory as part of our Cheese Ventures across this beautiful state of Wisconsin.  Some of my loved ones who shall remain nameless have yet to understand my cheese obsession. With our latest visit to Cady Cheese, I realized that it is simply enjoying the BEST quality food straight from the manufacturer, while taking short, delicious breaks on our family road trips.

If you’re ever along Highway 94 past Eau Claire and heading towards Minnesota, I would highly recommend a short jaunt to Cady Cheese.  Just follow the yellow brick road to the front of the store past the lovely landscaping.  We were greeted by several friendly and knowledgeable employees, who offered us samples (YES)!  We enjoyed freshly made colby cheese that squeaked as we chewed it. Amazing! And to think that I assumed only fresh cheese curds could squeak! We settled on three cheese: Golden Jack (picked by my 3 year old), 6 yr old Cheddar, and roasted tomato monterrey jack.  Pairing these cheeses with Capital beer – also purchased along our road trip – made for a delectable combination of Wisconsin’s finest for our dear Minnesota friends.

The Benefits of Shopping Small

Recently I’ve been noticing a remarkable difference in the quality of food purchased locally instead of from the supermarket. We’ve picked and purchased apples from farmers and have enjoyed a lot of produce from our local farmer’s market.  Food just seems to last longer and taste better.

Case in point – Daddy O. critiqued an asparagus and tomato side dish I made using grocery store produce, saying the tomatoes lacked flavor.  And sure enough, a farmer at our market explained to us that tomatoes you buy in the store are typically picked when still green, leaving them to ripen during transportation. The longer they stay on the vine, the more they develop their flavor.  (We’re hoping our tomatoes will ripen before the frost comes, so they’ll taste better!)

A few stats from Do-Gooder Mama’s post from E-Local:

– Throughout the United States, only about 33.6% of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, which is very low compared to the 64.8% return from local businesses. (2009)

– If the people of an average American city were to shift 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses, it would bring an additional $235 million per year to the community’s economy.

In addition to great taste, the economic benefits are truly felt in your own community.  Being employed by a small business myself, I plan on shifting some of my buying to local stores – especially to all of the amazing cheese factories!

Have you frequented farmer’s markets or bought straight from the producer / cheese maker?  How do you support small business?

Fresh Cheese – Squeaky Good!

I haven’t been blogging as much – nor visiting many cheese factories lately – as I, like so many other people, am trying to squeeze out all the fun I can from summer!  It HAS been fun and busy for sure.  Here’s one of our adventures that I had yet to record.

Earlier this summer, I took the kids on a road trip to meet a dear friend and her child at a farm.  This place is awesome as you can go in the pens with the animals.  We were catching chickens, feeding goats, meeting pigs, riding ponies, and petting the many farm kitties. It was a blast!  My friend & I also made our debut appearance as goat herders, catching a stray goat and directing it back into the pen.  Besides the goats who tried eating our shoes, they were quite adorable!  See my daughter feeding them below:feeding the goatsMy son wasn’t so much into the animals and just wanted to be held or sit on the antique tractor.  I did get a picture of him in these cute wagons though. playing in a wagonNeedless to say that excursion wore my kids out, so while they snoozed in the car on the ride back, I sought out a cheese factory along our drive. I briefly stopped at Baker’s Cheese – a place that my relatives rave about.  We were already big fans of their smoked string cheese, so I knew the store would have some more cheese-awesomeness.

ker's Cheese Factory StoreWhile they don’t have the best cheese billboard ever, they have a small, quaint shop with delicious string cheese and several other varieties. Here’s what I bought: aged cheddar cheese, smoked string cheese bites (it wasn’t the correct weight, so they put a “we goofed” sticker on it), and FRESH string cheese.

Fresh String Cheese, Smoked String Cheese, andAged Cheddar I think everyone in Wisconsin knows that when cheese is fresh it SQUEAKS!  This string cheese was squeaky good.  I only hope everyone can experience eating cheese fresh from the factory like I did! AMAZING!  We continue to buy the smoked string cheese from the grocery store, but I still long to go back to the factory for another supply of the fresh, squeaky stuff.

 

Cheese Taste Testing: Does 1 Year Matter?

Back in March when we went up to Door County, Wisconsin for a weekend sans children, we picked up some cheese to bring home and sample like any reasonable cheese lover would do.  While we didn’t stop at the cheese making location, we snatched up this beauty: a 5 Year Aged Sharp Cheddar made by Renard’s Cheese and a White Cheddar Cherry Cheese from Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market.  This is an amazing market store with cherry flavored anything you can dream up (wine, salsa, olive oil, cheese, cider, jam, spread mix, soups, desserts). While I’m not a fruit-wine fan, we steered clear of the wine tasting area and honed in on the refrigerated section.

Renard's 5 year cheddar

Renard’s Cheese: 5 year cheddar

White Cherry Cheddar

Maple Leaf Cheese: White Cherry Cheddar

Now I realize it is now May June and cheese purchased in March just does not last long in our house (more on that later though). We tasted the 5 year cheddar and took notes in our handy cheese tasting guide (nerdy – yes, but effective record keeping).

It was creamy, tangy, and smooth, and not as crumbly as a 6 year Cheddar. We thought it would pair well with a bottle of MacMurray Pinot Noir. Oh, and most importantly my son liked it too.

Maybe 5 year Cheddars deserve some more love. I think I will have to just taste more to find out for sure.

Happy cheese eating!

Best Cheese Billboard to be in Museum!!

Exciting news – the BEST Cheese Billboard will be part of the Museum of Signs and Industry (under the Ingest category of course).

After reading Joan’s post on Sign Language, I submitted this billboard to the Museum (something ANYONE can do).

Get Your Awesomeness Here!

Best Sign EVER!

Just one day after submitting an image and description, I received this email from the Museum of Signs and Industry:

Hi Cathy,

Thanks for the pic! Great shot! Look for it updated on the site coming up under the category Ingest!

Signed,

Museum Curation Staff

Hooray!! I’m glad a little piece of Wisconsin cheese love will be recognized along with many other very quirky, fun, and vintage signs on the site.  Check out the Sign Language post at The Thing about Joan to see some of the signs that she has discovered through the years.

What’s your favorite sign?  (No, that’s not to be construed as a pick-up line.)  Share it with me and submit it to the Museum.