Cookery Maven Blog

Everything Is Better With Butter, Right??

I had a moment when I was in Cable at the Ideal Market last Thursday and it involved a pound of pale yellow goodness. I have a deep and abiding love of good butter— especially La Baratte des Gourmets (French butter with sea salt flakes) and Delitia Burro di Parma (butter made with the left overs of Parmigiano Reggiano production). It's not that your average, run of the mill grocery store butter isn't good, it's just that high fat cultured butter is so much better.

The girls and I drove to Cable to have dinner at the River Eatery with Will's cross-country team. As we were leaving, I peeked in the refrigerated case and there it was— handrolled butter from Farmhouse Kitchens in Lacrosse. It's light and creamy texture as well as a tangy, cultured flavor adds up to pure butter love. I bought 3 pounds and headed north with a smile on my face.

The Land

I really don't know where to start this blog post, the Land and I have a checkered past. I grew up in Minneapolis and was absolutely, positively a city girl. The closest I got to the great outdoors was going to Lake Vermillion every summer and staying in a cabin with my family.We fished, swam and went to the dump at dusk to watch the bears. It all changed the year I turned thirteen. My parents bought 90 acres in Frederic Wisconsin and I had a fierce learning curve in outdoor survival skills (okay, maybe not survival skills but it seemed pretty intense to my thirteen year old self).

We have always referred to it as the 'Land', I honestly have no idea why we gave it such a nondescript title. For a long time, there was just a pole barn, an RV, a trampoline and 90 acres of farm fields and woods. The house is a relatively new addition, within the last 5 years or so, but we still call it the Land. My Mom would pack a picnic and my siblings in the station wagon and we would drive an hour and a half for lunch. Ironically, I have done the same thing with my kids—except we would drive four hours each way to spend a day and a half in Bayfield (I never had my act together enough to pack a lunch). As an adult and parent, I know what it feels like to want to get out of Dodge. As a kid, it seemed like a long way to go for lunch.

Even in the throes of teenaged angst, I enjoyed our afternoon outings. It was novel to be sitting in a field, listening to the cicadas, surrounded by tall grass and clover. I brought my friend, Lee, along for the ride one year and she sneezed the entire time. Evidently, she had horrid allergies and her adventure in rural Wisconsin exacerbated them. We still laugh about it and wonder if she ever went outside of city limits after her lunch with us. The Land holds many of our family stories— the time we found a fawn, the hawk dive bombing our dog, Murphy, deer hunting and alternative uses for mayo jars, well drilling and fracking, Red Freddie, bucket rides and Naturally Northern raspberries.

My Dad was a pharmaceutical salesman for many years and Southern California was part of his territory. He saw how large-scale raspberry farming was done out west, pesticides and all, and we never ate a commercially grown raspberry after that. After a tremendous amount of work and planning, he now has a thriving company, Naturally Northern, selling pesticide, herbicide and insecticide free raspberries in Minneapolis. He said when he first bought the Land, there were no birds or predatory insects because it was farmed commercially with all sorts of chemicals. He has not used anything except fertilizer for years and it shows— there are dragonflies and birds everywhere, wildflowers in the fields and the raspberry field is filled with bees.

Will and I took off on a photo safari the morning before we left. I had forgotten how beautiful it is up there. Walking through the woods, on paths I haven't step foot on for years, was a revelation. The seeds of my love for Lake Superior and Bayfield were sown amidst the moaning and groaning of my adolescence about having to go to the Land.  As an adult, I am grateful for the weekends spent in Frederic and not at Southdale with my friends or in my room wishing I could marry Simon Le Bon.

When Will and I returned, the girls and Nana were in the midst of a cookie baking adventure. Nana's cookies are legendary around our house and the girls love to help her. Sadie copied down a few recipes while the cookies were baking. She is following in her Nana's footsteps—she is a great baker.

I have been blessed to be part of a family who have always marched to the beat of their own drummer. It is a legacy that I want to pass on to my kids— have the courage to live your life with abandon and stay the course when the waters get rough. What more can you ask for?