“Wisconsin Agriculture: A History” ($35) and “Whispers and Shadows: A Naturalist’s Memoir” ($23), both published by Wisconsin History Society Press and written by Jerry Apps: The Badger State’s most prolific and thoughtful author continues to pay attention to our rural roots in diverse but top-shelf ways.
Vintage photos enhance the coffeetable book “Wisconsin Agriculture,” which will outlive all of us as a definitive resource about what made us America’s Dairyland and how farm life goes far beyond knowing how to milk a cow. History, diversity and challenges are addressed.
It’s one thing to do the farm work and quite another to appreciate the setting, surroundings and impact on who we are. Essays in “Whispers and Shadows” contemplate the circle of life, the need for neighbors, the dignity of elms that survive for decades. Within this book of simply told stories are many quietly profound and timeless thoughts.
Jerry’s upcoming appearances include a book signing at McFarlane’s Sporting Goods, Sauk City, at 1 p.m. Dec. 19.
“Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine” (Aradia Publishing and The History Press, $22) by Nicole Fromm and JonMichael Rasmus: The most respected and comprehensive food blog in my town is “Eating in Madison A to Z” (madisonatoz.com), written by this ambitious, devoted, informed and sometimes-sassy duo since 2004.
Expect ditties that add a rich historical perspective to the city’s culinary scene. Before the downtown Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. came the beloved Fess Hotel, just as food maven Odessa Piper was part of Ovens of Brittany before she conceived fine farm-to-table dining via L’Etoile. Ending with a bibliography was a pleasant reassurance of fact-checking but not a surprise, since Nicole works as a librarian.
The authors are featured speakers at the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin meeting at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 6 at Goodman Community Center, Madison.
“Minnesota’s Best Beer Guide” (Thunder Bay Press, $17) by Kevin Revolinski: Why steer you into Viking Territory for beer? This new book is the third in a Midwest series by my colleague Kevin, a longtime beer connoisseur with keen insight and an excellent sense of humor. He is a serious student of suds who tackled Wisconsin first, and that book is in its third edition. Next came Michigan.
Chat with him over a pilsner or porter during signings at Ale Asylum, Madison, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 14; Sand Creek Brewing, Black River Falls, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 18; Pearl Street Brewery, La Crosse, 1-4 pm. Dec 19; Port Huron Brewery, Wisconsin Dells, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 19; Wisconsin Brewing Co., Verona, noon to 3 p.m. Dec. 20; Viking Brew Pub, Stoughton, 5-7 p.m. Dec. 21 or Blue Heron Brewpub, Marshfield, 3-6 p.m. Dec. 22. Look for additions at revtravel.com.
“Lake Superior Flavors: A Field Guide to Food and Drink Along the Circle Tour” (University of Minnesota Press, $22) by James Norton and Becca Dilley: On my to-go list is the 1,300-mile Lake Superior Circle Tour, and this lovely guidebook tells lots of magnificent back stories about the regional products and cuisine en route. That includes thimbleberry and other delights from The Jampot on Keweenaw Peninsula, a cottage business that looks like, well, a cute cottage. Society of St. John, Holy Transfiguration Skete monks make the products, brittles to buttercreams.
Pickin’ seems slimmer on the north side of the Great Lake, beyond Ontario’s Thunder Bay, but an exception is Serendipity Gardens Café in Rossport. Buy the book to find out why to stop in this and other coastal hamlets.
“The Dairy Good Cookbook: Everyday Comfort Food from America’s Dairy Farm Families” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $25): The book publishing arm of a company that syndicates newspaper text and cartoons presents 100-plus recipes that showcase dairy products as ingredients. That means Mango Yogurt Smoothies to Apple Cheddar Pizza to Honey-Roasted Peanut Caramel Pie.
Recipes are organized by times in the average farm workday, “Sunrise Breakfast” to “After Dinner Dessert.” Wisconsin recipe contributors include Kim and John Koepke of Oconomowoc, who use their own LaBelle cheese with fenugreek to make the creamy Caraway Cheese Soup.
“New Orleans: The Hunt” (Gatehouse Publishing, $12) by Beth D’Addono: Lots of people say they are foodies, but I know Beth is the real deal in part because of the tattoo of a fork and spoon that stretches over her inner arm. We have shared many good travels and meals through the Society of American Travel Writers.
Her third-edition guide easily slips into a purse or tote bag, but don’t be fooled by the tiny size. Instead of belching out a little something about every tourist stop in The Big Easy, Beth is curates only the best and most distinctive businesses that are independently owned. Where else will you learn, for example, about Parkway Bakery and Tavern po-boys or Trashy Diva Lingerie? Don’t leave for Mardi Gras without it.