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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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From My Window - There's No Taste Like Home

By Jane Thibodeau Martin

My family and I spent the week between the holidays in Wisconsin. (Side note: I do not understand the uproar about "Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas." I have referred to this period of time as "the holidays" my whole life " and saying "Happy Holidays" is simply an acknowledgement that there are two major holidays one week apart " it's a short-hand version of "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!" Nothing more or less!)

Part of the ritual of a trip "home" for us is the food and drink specialties we get to enjoy. Each part of these great United States has specific food and drink specialties, and many of our Wisconsin favorites are not available in Oklahoma. So here's a list of what we enjoyed "up north," along with those items that were hauled back home in vast quantities.

Cheese: This is so obvious, I know, but there is nothing like fresh Wisconsin cheese. Our kids can't wait to stop in at Sequins in Marinette to grab five year cheddar; cheddar with cranberries (makes the best grilled cheese sandwich ever,) aged Brick and cheese curds. Our daughter- in- law ordered "hot, hot" pepper cheese to be shipped to friends in California. While we are there the kids do a little souvenir shopping, and we visit the friendly staff behind the counter. No visit to Marinette is complete without this stop. We also often hit "Mullen's" cheese factory in rural Mosinee near my in-laws, another great cheese stop.

Chocolate: Everyone has their favorites and all states have good candy places. But my husband loves "Oaks" old-fashioned hand-dipped assortments made in Oshkosh gifted by my little sister, and my other sister gets us boxes from the Chocolate Caper in Oregon, WI. Their candy is very different, cut sort of like fudge but with a different texture. This stuff is like crack cocaine to me and I'm not a candy eater. Both candies are consistently high-quality and never disappoint.

Sausage: Enroute to my in-law's home in central Wisconsin we stop at Neuske's in Wittenburg. What Sequin's is to cheese, Neuske's is to sausage. My daughter calls this "the meat store," as while it also has some cheese and other foodstuffs/souvenirs, the focus is on meat. My husband loves liver sausage so that's always on the shopping list. (When this is being cooked, I light scented candles and retreat to the other end of the house. I am sure it's wonderful, but"..no can do for me.)

And no trip back is successful unless we have on-loaded a few cases of New Glarus beer. It's not available out of state, of course, but we have an emotional connection to this brewery, with New Glarus being very close to my Mother's hometown of Monroe. The Spotted Cow is a fun nod to the dairy state itself, but my favorite is the "Moon Man." My son's mother- in- law is fond of Spotted Cow, as is a friend of my husband's. So we have gotten Oklahoma converts who look forward to our visits north as well.

All of this is, of course, in addition to the food specialties we eat during the family gatherings, and this year that included some fabulous smoked turkey made by my brother-in-law. This makes up for the disappointment we feel that we can no longer get the wonderful smoked turkey we used to buy from "Seymour's" in Peshtigo, who are no longer in business. I have never been able to buy a smoked turkey at any price that was as good as what I got at Seymour's, but what my brother-in-law turned out in his garage was amazing.

I have the feeling I will have to strictly contain myself when we relocate back to Wisconsin permanently because if I eat like I eat during my holiday visit full time I would probably put on 100 pounds.

During the long car ride home it was a comfort to know if we got stranded we'd be able to live like kings out of the contents of our truck for two weeks!

Happy New Year!

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.


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