When Sarah, Vicky, and I started Whisk, one of the projects we were most excited about was connecting our member blogs with Wisconsin-based artisan producers – providing opportunities for our members to expand their work and challenge themselves with new projects, and providing opportunities for local companies to showcase their products and grow their businesses. We’ve loved watching this part of our organization grow, and we each personally have loved getting to know local businesses and working with their products.
I am incredibly excited to be working with Top Note Tonics, out of Milwaukee. I generally hesitate to share recipes here that require specific products, but Top Note’s concept – boldly-flavored, non-alcoholic tonic concentrates made from whole botanicals and cane sugar – was a hard one to pass up, especially given how much I miss the pre-Aldo fun we used to have with testing and tweaking new cocktail recipes. I was excited about the potential for use in classic gin and tonics or other similar drinks, but I was also interested to see if they could be used in place of bitter liqueurs like Campari or Aperol, and for their potential as non-alcoholic apertifs that don’t just rely on sweetness, like most non-alcoholic mixed drinks tend to do. They sent samples of all five concentrates – four with a tonic-like bitter profile (Bitter Lemon, Bitter Orange, Gentian Lime, and Indian Tonic) and one Ginger Beer concentrate. I tasted each on their own and got to work putting together a recipe testing plan (which I’ve learned is very important when it comes to cocktail testing, unless you’re willing to let things get away from you a bit.)
There’s been nothing like feeding a growing, exploring, tiny new eater to inspire me to seek out new recipes, ingredients, and techniques – healthier, simpler, easier meals that fit into our new normal (a normal that includes a tiny, joyous, screechy, maniacal human tornado). I’m not sure how we’d survive without the minutely detailed weekly meal plans and grocery lists I put together every Friday, and planning for easy breakfasts is particularly necessary. Aldo isn’t one to wait for breakfast (neither am I, let’s be honest), and stumbling around pre-caffeine isn’t a good time to start contemplating that day’s first meal.
So nearly every week I plan to make something ahead – a few pans of granola, an egg bake, or a batch of something baked and tasty that we can pair with some yogurt and fruit for a quick, filling, satisfying breakfast. Because Aldo eats all of these things too, I’m newly inspired to incorporate fruits and vegetables, whole grain flours, and healthier sweeteners into my baking routine, and the recipe I’m sharing here is the most recent success (there have been others, too, and hopefully I’ll get those on the site soon). These muffins are made with half whole wheat and half rye flour and sweetened only with a bit of molasses, making them nearly savory and deeply toasty. Perfect for pairing with scrambled eggs and a bit of cheese on a brisk fall morning. Read more
One bite of a pumpkin cheesecake sample at Trader Joe’s last week and my pumpkin spice floodgates burst wide open. I’d been sort of inadvertently avoiding it all fall, but it’s nearly impossible to walk around in fall wonderland of the Midwest and ignore the most potent of fall flavor profiles. And when some quick googling told me I could easily work some pumpkin puree into granola, my path was set. Read more
It will surprise no one who has ever parented or spent much time taking care of a toddler that coffee is now a significant and important part of my life. I’ve long loved it – the smell, the flavor, the heady ritual of it – but for years caffeinated coffee gave me migraines (yes, you’re right, it really was the worst). Whatever divine spirits there may be in the world appear to have taken pity on me, however, because pregnancy changed something in my brain chemistry and I am now once again able to partake. And partake I do, in volume some days, generally with breakfast and again during Aldo’s midday nap.
So I was particularly excited when Cadence Cold Brew, a new Madison company, expressed an interest in new recipes and ways to use their canned nitro cold brew coffee. We generally make our coffee at home (okay, Brett generally makes our coffee at home – what a guy), but when I treat myself to a coffee drink out in the world, I often seek out nitro cold brew. Cold brew in general is more easy-drinking than regular brewed coffee, and the addition of nitrogen makes it even smoother and silkier, with a slight effervescence akin to beer.
After tasting the three varieties that Cadence offers in cans, I knew immediately what I wanted to do – create a twist on café de olla, a rich, spiced coffee drink traditional to Mexico.
We are finally back in Madison after two months of travel, and we’re trying to soak up every last bit of this summer. Aldo is toddling around like a crazy man, and between running after him and comforting the inevitable bonks and bumps that come with new mobility, we’re focusing on all the joys of late summer in the Midwest – tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, melons, and more tomatoes, and more corn, and more tomatoes, and more corn. Most evenings I cut up a hunk tomato for Aldo with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and because he’s in the midst of an ardent tomato strike (not his first), I slurp up the leftover pieces from his plate and don’t think twice about it.
The first weekend we were back we were invited over to a friend’s house for burritos, and we wandered the Capitol market that morning to stock up on summer basics (aforementioned corn and tomatoes) and to grab the supplies for a Mexican-inspired roasted corn and poblano salad. I’m a huge fan of corn salads in the summer and generally go with a raw base, but when I saw the poblanos which I knew I’d want to char and peel, I let the corn follow suit. Read more