O, Landjaeger! My Landjaeger!

Apologies to Walt Whitman for that title.

Coincidence? I Think Not!

I suppose that those of us Americans of relatively recent Germanic vintage of some sort (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) are statistically likelier to have conversations about sausages and wursts than those of some other ethnic background. Granted, I’ve not actually conducted this particular type of combination geographic-linguistic research (but, hey NSF, feel free to send me some monies!) Still, I’m fairly confident that my hypothesis is not only testable, but also reasonably likely to produce my anticipated results. So somewhere on my recent road trip to Iowa and southern Wisconsin, the term “landjaeger (landjäger)” came up in conversation. As in my extolling the smoky virtues of them. As in Mike not ever having eaten one. As we were cruising the back roads south of Madison, seeking (and finding, though closed, Cheese Chalet Coop, the only American plant producing limburger cheese), we stopped at a gas station in Monroe (WI) because my bladder is the size of an acorn. Low and behold, what do I see hanging up by twos like some glorious snack ark getting ready for a 40 day-and-night deluge but landjaegers! I bought a pair (they are typically sold in pairs) and excitedly (very excitedly!) split them between us. How serendipitous!


Speak Softly and Carry a Meat Stick

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of indulging in one of these (and are omnivores), a landjaeger is a meat snack. Like lottery machines and cigarettes, meat snacks are a mainstay of convenience stores (Slim Jims™ is perhaps the most well known). But landjaegers aren’t mere meat sticks. For one thing, they aren’t as well known outside of certain regions with large populations of Germanic ancestry; this is unlike beef jerky (which seems to be ubiquitous). Therefore, they are likelier to be produced locally (and, by extension, have a smaller market area). And they are often made by real butchers instead of in giant factories. Landjaegers are created with beef and pork, salt and spices, and smoke. The smokiness is integral to the landjaeger. You see, these babies are cooked/smoked and dried, making them shelf-stable and free from the need for refrigeration. That’s why I found them hanging next to the cash register at the Monroe BP station.

Landjaeger, directly translated, means “country (land) hunter(jäger)”, perhaps owing to its popularity with hunters or others about to spend a lot of time outdoors. Certainly hunters (or hikers or long-distance cyclists) would find these to be delicious yet portable snacks. But no need to go outside—enjoy them indoors (or on a country drive in Wisconsin!)

Zuber’s and Ruef’s

So, my first Wisconsin landjaeger was made by Zuber’s Meats of Monroe Wisconsin. Now that was definitely local, given that we’d stopped at a Monroe gas station. We enjoyed them as we drove on to New Glarus Brewing for an afternoon beer. In the über-Swiss town of New Glarus itself, we stopped at Ruef’s Meat Market, hoping to find more landjaegers, as we’d eaten the two purchased earlier. Alas, there weren’t any. But as luck would have it, another customer told us they often had a few extra in the back. We asked and were rewarded with some Ruef’s landjaegers. And, as luck would have it again, a stop at a gas station the next day yielded some more Zuber’s landjaegers. More souvenirs to add to my collection of fourteen Wisconsin cheeses, several liqueurs, and a couple of cookbooks!

Zuber's in the front, Ruef's in the back

Zuber’s in the front, Ruef’s in the back

Ruef's in the front, Zuber's in the back

Ruef’s in the front, Zuber’s in the back

Want Your Own?

If you have a German butcher or delicatessen in your neighborhood, see if they carry them. But if not, Zuber’s and Ruef’s do ship landjaegers. Because these babies are cooked, they can be mailed to your home.


I Heart Ewe

B(l)aaah, B(l)aaah, B(l)aaah

The heading is the answer to “what does the sheep say”. Well, it’s ONE of the answers! Another answer is “ try my delicious cheese”! Sheeps milk is one of the Big Three in the cheesemaking world (the others being cow and goat). Indeed, many fine (and well known) cheeses are the product of Ovis Aries, including Pecorino Romano, feta, Roquefort, Manchego. These are readily available in grocery stores, even in the small city in which I live. What IS more difficult to source, though, is fresh sheep’s milk cheese, even in places like my semi-local Whole Foods in Indianapolis.


Fresh chèvre, the caprine (read: goat) white log of spreadable cheese, seems to have exploded in popularity within the past 10-15 years, going from exotic ingredient to supermarket mainstay. While not as ubiquitous as Slim Jims at a convenience store, fresh goat cheese has become so common that I can find multiple brands in my Muncie grocery stores. And I hardly live in a bastion of gastronomic innovation. But fresh sheep’s milk cheese? Nope.


Landmark Creamery’s Petit Nuage

On a recent food landscape exploration road trip to eastern Iowa and southern Wisconsin, I discovered Landmark Creamery’s Petit Nuage (or rather the wonderful staff at Fromagination helped me discover it). “Nuage” means “cloud” in French, and this little cloud is aptly named. Sold in a four-pack of crottin-sized, 1-oz. (28 g) buttons, Petit Nuage has a crisp, bright flavor underscored with grassiness. It’s mild flavor pairs well with berries and fresh herbs like parsley or chives. As a breakfast treat, I’ve enjoyed it drizzled with a mild honey (such as dandelion); avoid matching this with an assertive honey, which would overwhelm the cheese flavor. The cheese is smooth and spreadable, with a (very) slight granularity that add some real textural interest. I imagine this cheese would work well in salads, slightly warmed, though I’ve not tried that yet. Petit Nuage is a seasonal offering from Landmark, available from February to October.


About Landmark Creamery


Landmark Creamery is a relatively new operation, the owners having met each other only in 2009. The two owners (or two Annas) are women, Anna Landmark and Anna Thomas Bates. According to their website, they met at a potluck for a group of women in sustainable agriculture. This serendipitous meeting grew into a cheesemaking operation!

Landmark Creamery also makes a couple of other cheeses, such as Anabasque (an aged sheep milk cheese). Indeed, that particular cheese is on my dinner menu for tonight. I sampled Anabasque at Fromagination and was taken with that offering as well. Sadly, I don’t believe either cheese is available in Indiana yet, so I’ll have to consider a return trip to Wisconsin!


A Reminder

Don’t forget to bring your cheeses (Petit Nuage or any other cheese) to room temperature before enjoying them. Taking them out about an hour before you plan to serve them should suffice, assuming your house isn’t refrigerator-cold. Serve cheese too cold and you risk suppressing the flavors, losing your ability to taste the complexity of various cheese.

Cooking Goetta and a Recipe for Goetta Grilled Cheese

Cooking Goetta

As promised, I’ve got some instructions on cooking goetta as well as a recipe in which goetta is the ingredient but not necessarily the star.

The key to cooking goetta is creating a crispy, but not burnt, exterior but without a mushy interior. I confess to being a bit of a neophyte, so you may have some goetta-tastic friends rolling their eyes at my instructions. Probably best to listen to them, not me!


You’ll need to cut up the goetta first into half-inch (1.25 cm) slices. I’m using some Glier’s goetta here.
Then you’ll need to heat up your pan. Ideally you’d like to start with a hot, non-stick pan, so a well seasoned cast iron pan would be ideal. I do not have that. Instead, I used a non-stick pan, which I don’t place on a burner while it’s empty. Thus for me, I use some oil (neutral oil, such as grapeseed). There are those who consider adding oil sacrilege, while others have no such qualms. I know this, because I asked Dr. Google (she knows everything). So, I do add oil.

Next, when the pan (with or without oil) is hot, I add the slices o’ goodness. Cook for a bit (say 2-5 minutes) over medium heat until one side is brown and crispy, but not burnt.FryingGoetta Flip and cook the second side; this will take less time (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from heat and start with the next batch (adding a little oil if necessary). Repeat until you’ve cooked as much goetta as you want.


A Recipe for Goetta Grilled Cheese

Goetta is delicious on its own, breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. But goetta-as-ingredient is, as Martha Stewart would say, a Good Thing. So, I’m adding goetta to a grilled cheese sandwich here. This is delicious and simple. Ingredients are for one sandwich, so double if making two.

What You’ll Need

  • nonstick skillet or seasoned cast iron pan
  • box grater for shredding cheese (or food processor, if you are making multiple sandwiches)
  • knife for spreading butter
  • scale to weigh shredded cheese
  • board for assembling sandwich
  • spatula


  • 2 slices sturdy white sandwich bread, not the overly squishy variety, but some that has a bit of heft; do NOT substitute fancy country loaves—this is not the time to use your finest wood-fired artisan bread!

    THIS kind of bread, not your fancy schmancy loaves with the big, big, big holes.

    THIS kind of bread, not your fancy schmancy loaves with the big, big, big holes.

    Not this bread. NOT THIS BREAD!

    Not this bread. NOT THIS BREAD!

  • 1.5 oz 1 shredded Gruyere or Comte cheese (if unavailable, use a nutty Swiss cheese); this is about 1/3 to ½ cup
  • 0.5 oz shredded smoked Gouda cheese (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • The Cheeses

    The Cheeses

  • unsalted butter, softened (there’s plenty of salt in the goetta and cheese, so do use unsalted if possible
  • 1-2 slices cooked goetta (2 slices of Glier’s works for me, but you might only need 1 slice from the rectangular Eckerlin’s or Mike’s loaves)
  • How to Make the Goetta Grilled Cheese Sandwich

    1. Read the recipe. Seriously. You don’t want to be half-way through, only to realize that you needed butter. Read through the recipe now.
    2. Assemble your ingredients. This is called mise en place, a French term for putting everything in place. Do this before you begin to cook ANYTHING.
    3. Okay, we are ready now. Butter ONE side of EACH piece of bread.
    4. Flip ONE bread slice over and place about 2/3 of the Gruyere on top of the unbuttered side.
    5. Place the cooked goetta on top of the Gruyere. You may have to chop a piece to fit onto the bread.
    6. Top the goetta with the rest of the Gruyere and add the smoked Gouda on top of it.
    7. The mostly assembled sandwich prior to cooking

      The mostly assembled sandwich prior to cooking

    8. Melt some butter in a nonstick skillet or seasoned cast iron pan over medium-low heat. You don’t want the heat too high, because you don’t want to burn the bread before the cheese melts. .
    9. MeltingButterinPan

    10. After melting the butter, place the sandwich in the pan, pressing down with a spatula.
    11. Cook until the bottom is crispy and golden brown, but not burnt.
    12. Carefully flip the sandwich over and cook until the second side is golden brown.
    13. GoldenBrown

    14. Remove from pan and eat.
    15. Sandwich1


    11 ounce/oz = 28.3 grams/g

Goet-ta Out of Here!

A Gift from the Queen City


Glier’s Goetta

About a year or so ago, I was introduced to goetta (pronounced get-tuh, rhymes with meta), a type of breakfast sausage-combination-amalgamation-thing with its roots in Cincinnati’s German immigrant population. I’d heard of this semi-mythical gastronomic beast but, living in Hoosier Land, a two-and-a-half hour drive away from the Queen City epicenter, I’d never partaken of so much as a crispy, crunchy crumb of the stuff. It wasn’t (and to my knowledge, still isn’t) available in my local grocery stores.1 So leave it to a new relationship and an invitation to a Goettoberfest to initiate me in the Ways of the Goettarati.

As a mixture of meat and grain, goetta has been compared to scrapple, that morning mush featured as part of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine. Certainly, similarities stand out—both contain some combination of meat, grain, and spices. Both share a German-American lineage. And both are an expression of creative frugality. But they are clearly two different kinds of treats.

So, What Is Goetta, Exactly?

Goetta, which combines ground pork, often pork shoulder (sometimes with ground beef), pinhead or steel-cut oats, and seasonings, was, historically, a way to stretch meat into multiple meals. In that sense, it served as a testament to immigrant frugality. Typically formed into a log or rectangular loaf, it’s sliced thin and then fried so that the exterior becomes crisp. Although goetta is most often deemed a breakfast treat, culinary creatives pushing the envelope incorporate it into other recipes (goetta pizza, anyone?).

Goetta’s closest relative may be the aforementioned scrapple, the Pennsylvania Dutch2 dish. Scrapple mixes porks bits (including offal), cornmeal, and spices, so there is that meat-grain similarity. It, too, is sliced thin and fried. But the grains are different, as is the origin of Germans behind these dishes. The revolutions of 1848 that brought many Germans to the United States served as the impetus of many of Cincinnati’s immigrants relocations, whereas the Pennsylvania Dutch primarily stem from the Protestant religious refugees of the Rhineland-Palatinate, southwestern Germany, and Switzerland during an earlier period. Additionally, the textures differ. Scrapple is fine-grained, whereas goetta is coarser and crumblier. Still, one cannot deny the correlation between scrapple and goetta.

Sources of Goetta



The Greater Cincinnati area (which includes not only the Queen City herself, but surrounding counties, including some in Indiana and Kentucky), is Goetta Central. A number of producers supply the goetta-loving public and, having tried three of them, the recipes are like snowflakes—no two are alike. The standard (and most ubiquitous in supermarkets) is Glier’s, which comes in a tube. I’ve also had Eckerlin’s (from Cincinnati’s Findlay Market), which seems spicier and pepper-ier, as well as Mike’s (also acquired at Findlay Market), which has a more pure pork flavor. I enjoyed all three and wouldn’t turn any of them down. If you’re up for a challenge, you can even make your own (which I will, some day!). Until then, I’ll happily indulge in those available commercially.

Mike's Homemade (but Commercially Available) Goetta

Mike’s Homemade (but Commercially Available) Goetta

On Deck: Cooking Goetta and a Recipe for Goetta Grilled Cheese

In the next week or so, I’ll be posting some instructions on cooking goetta, as well as a recipe for goetta grilled cheese. With pictures!

1On June 16th, I checked both my local Marsh supermarket and my local Meijer superstore, neither of which currently carries goetta
2The proper term is actually Pennsylvania German, as “Dutch” is a corruption of “Deutsch”, aka German in German.

Happy Pi(e) Day! And a Temporary Goodbye

And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

I realize that I haven’t blogged in AGES (this is my first post in 2016, for crying out loud!). The reasons are discussed in the last paragraph. However, I WILL be returning to (semi) regular blogging this summer. Sometimes life gets in the way, but one of my passions is sharing the Good News about the Culinary Geography of America’s Midwest, aka Flyover States. In the meantime, Happy Pi(e) Day! March 14 (3.14, get it?) is Pi(e) Day!

One Pie Discovery in Ohio

To say that the exterior of Henry’s Restaurant is unassuming would be generous, complimentary even. It’s rather more weathered, more punched by life, more beaten, with an almost defiant air challenging people to enter. Step inside and you’re transported into a mainstay of rural agricultural life—the local café or diner, where the worn décor is heavy on Americana and scratches, with waitresses probably named Darlene or Thelma, and the loyal and local clientele is met with conversation that probably began a visit ago and is being picked up again (you can imagine the ends of these coda’ed with “To Be Continued”). Henry’s Restaurant is one of these gems, the kind popularized by Road Food pioneers Jane and Michael Stern.


And Just How Does One Discover a Place Like Henry’s?

I Googled “best pies in Ohio” after my boyfriend told me about a place west of Columbus on US-40 (the National Road, for those interested in historical transportation and geography) that supposedly, allegedly, mythically served Really. Good. Pie. Google, that technological advance that refuses to let undiscovered jewels remain undiscovered, yielded Henry’s Restaurant in the small agricultural village of West Jefferson. Intrepid explorers that we are, the two of us decided to make a pilgrimage to Henry’s for a sampling of those pies.

The Place and the Ambience

Henry’s is easy to miss. And miss it we did at first, the boyfriend saying “that’s it” as we drove past it. Henry’s is not in the middle of the town, but along the outskirts, where its neighbors are agricultural fields and warehouses. A U-turn at the next intersection and then a left turn into the crumbling concrete parking lot brought us to what we hoped would be a pie heaven, pie mecca, pie nirvana. Pie, it seems, does elicit near religious feelings for many (and while its origins aren’t American, it has become a contender for the National Dessert).


The View Across the Street From Henry’s

To put it bluntly, the place looks like a dump or decrepit aging service station on the outside—peeling, faded, yellow paint on a pair of garage doors. The same peeling, faded yellow paint adorned the main part of the structure, the one housing the restaurant. Two doors, one with the requisite “Use Other Door” posting and the cardboard “Yes, We’re Open” and neon “Open” signs beckoned to us to come in. This place could have looked desolate and forbidding, but the half-dozen vehicles in the lot gave us hope. We figured the place was reasonably popular. So we walked in, looking for lunch and pie.


The décor was honest and cheap and its ten or so tables were half-filled with customers. It’s the sort of place that holds their annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner on March 6 because “we like to do things early here”, as per the waitress. We’d arrived after the presumed lunch “rush”, as it was by now 1:40 in the afternoon. With eyes like a hawk spotting a hapless squirrel, I homed in on the whiteboard listing the day’s eight pies. I may or may not have been drooling as I recited the list to the Boyfriend (henceforth referred to as “BF”). Then the lone waitress called out to me, saying “Honey, that list ain’t up to date”. She erased four of the eight options (bye bye apple pie, sayonara coconut crème), leaving us to choose between rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, chocolate crème, and lemon meringue. Well, no problem—narrowing my options probably made it somewhat easier to decide (oh, the paradox of choice). This is the type of place that will run out of certain flavors, so it might be best to get there early; indeed, they ran out of two more varieties by the time BF and I got ours.

Seasonal Decor

Seasonal Decor

The Pies

People can make meals out of pie and I was sorely tempted to do just that. But rather than embarrass myself by ordering two pieces of pie (and wanting three), I opted for a cheeseburger before pie (as did the BF, though we did get different toppings). The burger was fine, but that’s not what I was there for (and that’s also not the subject of this post). So Step 2 of the ordering process was at hand. Given that we wanted to try each other’s pies, we ruled out the rhubarb and strawberry-rhubarb combination. BF picked rhubarb (and I KNEW he would). I opted for lemon meringue. I’d been thinking about making a lemon meringue pie for about three or four years and still hadn’t gotten around to it. But I hadn’t eaten one in years and I was ready! BF had the opportunity to get a scoop of ice cream with his (the fruit pies do have a la mode as an option), but he declined. As we waited for our food, we enjoyed the entertainment, namely the other patrons. One kid, who must’ve been all of nine years old, busily darted around the dining area and kitchen, clearing tables and taking them back to be washed. Some high school students (all eating pie!) joked around with each other. And a “Mr. Fisher”, clearly an honored and regular guest, was spoken to by both the waitress and a couple of other customers.

And then they arrived. Substantial slices to go with our decaf coffees. The rhubarb pie was delicious—sprightly tart, yet sweet, without being overly gloppy (as can be the case with so many fruit pies).1 The flaky crust enhanced the fruit, yielding a delicious flavor explosion in one’s mouth. On to the lemon meringue, with its billow of browned egg-white and sugar topping. The meringue was soft, not tough, and the lemon shone through in the custard base without being overly tart. Yes, the Pie Gods had graced us with dessert blessings.


The Scoop of Ice Cream that Got Away and the Conversations of Others

As noted earlier, ice cream can be served on top of a slice of fruit pie. Two people at another table opted for the dairy enhancement. As the overworked waitress brought the pies to the table, an almost flawlessly spherical ball of vanilla fell off one pie slice onto the floor. She set the pie pieces down and then chatted with her customers for a bit, joking about the ice cream.

Enter stage left. The young boy walked in through the door into the dining room, intently looking at something that was not the floor. BF watched him, saying “he’s going to step right into it”. So we observed silently, waiting for the inevitable. Then then inevitable became the evitable. Into the ice cream he trod, perfectly centering his step into the middle of the scoop. He glanced down, appearing slightly dumbfounded, before continuing on his way into the kitchen, not bothering to wipe his shoe. That was some of the entertainment!

We got to enjoy our pies with Act Two of the entertainment—eavesdropping in on the conversations of others. We (the collective, societal “we”) often listen to exchanges other people make, since, given the volume at which some folks talk, it may be difficult to avoid. Usually these are fairly dull, ordinary affairs. But a couple of elderly friends (one male, one female) about a table or two away from us bantered about, discussing a particular cable channel (Me TV) that specializes in old, very old, television shows. A sample of what we overheard:

Woman: Do you ever watch that Me TV channel? I like that one.
Man: Yes.
Woman: They have all the old shows. I like The Andy Griffith Show. Of course, I’ve probably seen all of them.
Man: I haven’t seen them all. Of course, I’m getting so old that I forget them, so maybe they just seem new to me.

Conversation 2:
Woman: Now I’m not a Trump person, but I really don’t like how Fox News is treating him.
Man: Uh huh.
Woman: He’s running his campaign fair and square.
Man: Uh huh.

Will We Return?

The short answer is “of course”. I mean, there are more pie varieties to be sampled. Next time we’ll probably try to get there early enough to be able to select from the entire pie list. And maybe then I WILL have two pieces of pie for lunch!

And Now for the Temporary Goodbye


Bye for now! See you in Summer (maybe before!)

Okay, I haven’t blogged in months. My job has me a lot busier than normal (typically busy anyway, but this academic year seems like I’m an order of magnitude busier), and my weekends are pretty booked (for some delightful personal reasons). So (unless I announce something on Facebook), I won’t be getting back to a regular posting schedule until sometime after the semester ends (yes, folks, I’m an academic). I look forward to getting around to more blog posts about the Joys of Culinary Discovery and Geography in America’s Overlooked Flyover States! See you later!

1 Gloppiness and a rubbery texture are a sign that the pie fillings came in a big industrial-sized can.