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Celebrate the holidays in a Wisconsin Wonderland

Who is Alice in Dairyland? As many can probably guess, the title was based on the popular tale of

Alice in Wonderland. Similar to the children’s story, I too embark on several adventures. Mine are in the magical world that is Wisconsin agriculture. We may not have the Mad Hatter or talking cats, but we do have passionate farmers and processors who are unlike any others. They work hard to provide a safe, wholesome and secure food supply for families. I’ve learned more about Wisconsin agriculture in these past six months than I have in my entire life, so this holiday season, I want to bring part of my Wisconsin Wonderland home to share with family and friends.

Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats

Every year, my immediate family celebrates the holidays with a spiral-sliced ham. That ham keeps the holiday spirit in our hearts and in our bellies for several days after Christmas. It is a family tradition. This year, I want to incorporate another family’s story into my own. Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats has no ordinary ham. Their spiral-sliced hams are Applewood smoked and glazed with honey. The Nueske family ancestors came to Wisconsin in 1882 with European skills of Applewood smoking and recipes for spicing and curing meat. In 1933, R.C. Nueske could not find meats as good as his family made, so he marketed his own products across northern Wisconsin. Making it through the Great Depression, times have certainly changed, but Nueske's quality never has! Known across the country for quality, Nueske’s also has my perfect last-minute gifts with summer sausages, smoked liver sausage, and Cherrywood smoked bacon.

Delta Dream, LLC

Of course, holiday celebrations do not cease with immediate family. Friends gather as well to share holiday greetings. While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I developed friendships with people from all across the country, even those who ventured from the south to brave a brisk winter walk up Bascom Hill on campus. This year, I am going to make them feel at home with Delta Dream, LLC specialty meats and cheeses. Delta Dream in Arena creates a niche for Wisconsin meats and cheeses by adding a southern-style twist. The owner, Steve Moore, focuses on delivering a flavor profile that is hard to find in the upper Midwest using quality, Wisconsin ingredients. Moore’s Gouda cheese features a WisCajun trademark that pairs perfectly with Delta Dream’s Andouille Sausage and Tasso Ham.

Palo Foods

Traveling over the river and through the Wisconsin woods can mean a lot of time on the road. I

love a good road snack, and Palo Popcorn has a flavor for everyone in the car like ranch and white cheddar, jalapeno cheddar, bacon cheddar, and more. Did you notice the common ingredient? Cheddar! The family-owned business uses real cheddar cheese for the hand-crafted popcorn recipes. Because the flavor is so rich, the snack can quickly become a party popcorn mix when you arrive. If you find your bag empty earlier than expected (like I have many times!), you can always buy more on the drive home. The gourmet popcorn products are sold across the country and online.

Inthewoods Sugar Bush

It is time to talk about something sweet. Whether you are making Christmas morning pancakes, a maple glaze for your ham, or handmade candies, nothing takes place of real Wisconsin maple

syrup. Members of the Wagner family have been prominent characters in our Wisconsin wonderland with their business, Inthewoods Sugar Bush, LLC. Jesse Wagner and his father, John, manage 17 acres of their family’s land in Manitowoc County. They tap nearly 1,300 trees and collected almost 50,000 gallons of finished syrup. As a third-generation maple producer, Jesse’s methods have evolved. The Wagners said the days of boiling down sap in an open pan in the woods are long gone. When a night’s freeze is warmed by the springtime sunshine, sap is collected using a tubing system. Then, they process it through reverse osmosis equipment and boil it in a high-efficiency wood-fired evaporator. With such technology available, it is no wonder Wisconsin ranks 4th in the nation for maple syrup producing 225,000 gallons in 2018. It truly is magical to see sap from nature turned into sweet syrup without adding any ingredients.

CTL Foods

Please pass the dessert! CTL Foods, Inc, a company from Colfax, provides the perfect ingredient.