Two cookbooks that tantalize beyond their recipes

Someone occasionally approaches me about writing an endorsement for a new book, and it’s an invitation that I don’t take lightly. I politely decline unless the project truly catches my attention. That is how I was introduced to “Life in a Northern Town: Cooking. Eating. And Other Adventures Along Lake Superior.” The newly published book(…)

Take Ten: Autumn’s vast bounty

Before the first hard frost come the fruits of farm labor. Wisconsin’s bounty seems especially plentiful this year, thanks to long-lasting, agreeable weather that even makes me look like a master gardener of tomatoes. The harvest is one big reason to celebrate and appreciate autumn. Changing leaf color is another. In the Badger State is(…)

Meat this: Most stops rural on Iowa Pork Tenderloin Trail

It’s not yet noon when we pull into Wellsburg, Iowa, curious and hungry for lunch. We wonder why the village, population 700, needs a one-way street downtown. We wonder why Town House Supper Club, our destination, opens at 6 a.m. And we wonder what one of us, a vegetarian, will find to eat. The pork(…)

Wandering Iowa: Villages of Van Buren, covered bridges

“I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa.” The quote belongs to Grant Wood, the Iowa artist whose “American Gothic” pitchfork couple and other paintings freeze scenes of rural life in what outsiders not-so-fondly refer to as “flyover country.” How easy it is to dismiss what we don’t know. Explore rural Iowa if you(…)

Take Twelve: Comedy in Wisconsin

In case you think Wisconsin could show a better sense of humor, I have two words for you: Very funny. No need to factor in those cheddar-colored Cheesehead wedges. We have a reputation beyond that. For example: You don’t know Ben Karlin from stage performances, but the University of Wisconsin grad is leaving a huge(…)

ArtPrize puts Grand Rapids, Mich., on the map for wild, wonderful art

Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city, finds unusual ways to gain attention. It has produced high-quality furniture for more than a century. It is a nationwide leader in environmental sustainability. On the city’s Beer City Ale Trail are at least 60 microbreweries, including Brewery Vivant, in a former funeral home. Grand Rapids brews so much beer(…)

De Pere’s 4th generation Union Hotel quietly begins 100th year

Closing time at the Union Hotel’s restaurant is 9 p.m. in downtown De Pere. Decades ago, that was because of the butcher, who worked halfway down the block. If a customer wanted a steak, you’d call for a fresh cut from the butcher, then send somebody to fetch the order. The butcher shop closed at(…)

DMZ: wildlife refuge, tourist attraction, war reminder

Nearly 6,500 miles separate most Wisconsinites from South Korea. Among the exceptions, for now, are around 270 airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing of the state’s Air National Guard. These troops and one dozen F-16 aircraft this month were deployed to Kunsan Air Base on a four-month assignment to help stabilize and secure the region.(…)

The lifelong value of a same time, same place vacation

The older I get, the more I notice two extremes among travelers. One seeks a new destination for every trip and rarely returns to the same locale. The other gravitates to the same spot, year after year, developing a strong and deep connection to one part of this very wide world. Of what value are(…)

Rural Missouri B&B operates inside Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

Within the hills and dales of northeast Missouri are far fewer miles of paved roads than rivers and creeks. Signs at one-lane bridges warn of flooding, and roadside markers are positioned to measure high water, foot by foot. These are not comforting details to notice when driving under a flash flood watch. The occasional farm(…)