Latte Art of the Midwest: Madison, Wisconsin, and Iowa City, Iowa

You don’t have to travel to the coasts for beautiful Latte Art. Here are a couple of Flyover examples from my recent summer road trip. Both of these drinks were delicious, by the way, even though I ordered decaf lattes. Decaf drinkers are like the poor stepchild of the caffeinated set.


This one’s from Bradbury’s near Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin. I was able to enjoy this while watching the Portage leg of the annual Paddle and Portage.
Here is some latte art from Java House in downtown Iowa City, Iowa. I used to live in Iowa City and spent quite few hours here.

Family Farms: the Hoosier Homestead program

For all the heartwarming images and warm fuzzies family farms bring out in us, they are, if not quite dying, static institutions. Farmers are getting older; as of this post, the American farmer’s mean age is 57, with farmers older than 65 becoming a greater and greater percentage of farmers as a whole. This is indicative of the offspring of farmers leaving the field (no pun intended) to seek green pastures elsewhere (THAT pun WAS intended!) The family farm, then, is an endangered species. This spells potential doom for agriculture in the United States (at least commercial agriculture).

To honor the role of family farms, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture has instituted a Hoosier Homestead Award farm program, which honors families that have kept their farms for over 100 years. Families and their farms may qualify for three different levels:

  • Centennial: farm in family for over 100 years
  • Sesquicentennial: farm in family for over 150 years
  • Bicentennial: farm in family for over 200 years

Twice a year, in March and August, the state honors those farms that have qualified for the Hoosier Homestead Award. So, if you are driving around Indiana and see a sign like this in front,


Click on image to enlarge it
you’ll know that this is a family farm—and has been for quite some time!


Using Up Your Market Bounty—Gado Gado

Hopefully those Dane County Farmers Market posts have inspired you to seek out your local farmers market or farmstand. If so, you’ve probably returned home with a veritable plethora (oh, how I love that word) of produce—the bounty that is late August and early September. Cucumbers and zucchini crowd your vegetable crispers. Tomatoes of many colors and stripes fill your bowls and counters. Basil and parsley and thyme add their herbaceousness to the scent of your kitchen. You tear up in poetic appreciation for the abundance bestowed upon you by the hard work of your local farmers. You sit back, satisfied.

Okay, maybe not. But you came home with a few tomatoes and cucumber. Perhaps you even grew them yourself. As you eat your fill of this fresh produce, you may be looking for an usual treatment for it. Enter Gado Gado, an Indonesian peanut-coconut sauce served with rice and vegetables.

Wait, you say. Hold on. Indonesian??? How is that Flyover? Well, dear readers, the Flyover parts are your local vegetables. And it may come as a surprise to some, but the Flyover States are home to people of non-European ancestry or origins. To wit, the largest concentration of Hmong Americans are found in Minnesota. Fort Wayne, Indiana, is host to the largest concentration of Burmese immigrants. A vast number of Arab Americans reside in the Greater Detroit area (specifically Dearborn). So, a look at Flyover Food incorporates some global cuisines. And while the Indonesian American population isn’t found in the Midwest and Plains, this dish serves to showcase the gorgeous local produce that IS Flyover in origin. So, here’s a version of Gado Gado for your Flyover Culinary Enjoyment! And it’s vegan, to boot.

This serves 8

What You’ll Need

  • chopping board and knife for vegetables, garlic, and ginger
  • garlic press (optional)
  • 2.5 quart saucepan
  • whisk
  • wooden spoon
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • grater—box or Microplane



  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil (peanut, roasted peanut or canola—not olive)
  • 1 or 2 dried, crushed hot chile peppers (or more if you like it spicy!)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cups coconut milk (lite is okay) or 1 14-oz can
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (can add a little more to make it more peanutty)
  • grated rind and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce (regular or wheat free)

How to Make the Gado Gado

  1. Saute onion in 1 or 2 Tbs. vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. When onions soften and become transparent (don’t let them brown), add garlic and saute for another minute or two.
  3. Add all of the other ingredients EXCEPT for the peanut butter and stir to combine.
  4. Add the peanut butter, whisking so it is fully incorporated in the sauce.
  5. Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn down heat to a simmer.
  6. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring or whisking often. The sauce becomes thick and can stick to the bottom of the pan, in which case you run the risk of it burning. So pretend this is like a Chicago election—stir early and often.
  7. Remove from heat, let cool for 10 minutes, and serve with some combination of rice, vegetables (e.g. cucumbers, steamed carrots or cabbage or cauliflower, bean sprouts), fried tofu cubes, and (if it doesn’t have to be vegan) slice hard-boiled eggs or cooked shrimp.

I actually prefer to make this a day ahead. I find the flavors blend together better with the benefit of an extra day. This also freezes beautifully—you can divide the sauce in half, serving one and freezing the other. Additionally, this is nice tossed with rice noodles.


Here I’ve used the sauce on a salad with greens, cucumber, and heirloom tomatoes.

Dane County Farmers Market, Part 2

Okay, the Dane County Farmers Market is a riot of color, from potatoes of every hue to a veritable psychedelia of mushrooms,


Somewhere Over the Potato Rainbow
Make that Somewhere over the Oyster Mushroom Rainbow
from blazingly golden sunflowers to the rich rubiness of cherries.
These flowers just look so HAPPY!
Door County is known for its cherries. Not surprising, given that it’s a peninsular county by Lake Michigan. It’s across the lake from Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, the subject of previous cherry posts.
It’s also a riot of local color, in the form of people and events. There’s the bee man Dale Marsden, whose beekeeping and honey-producing have kept him busy for decades!


I say, Mr. Marsden, that is a mighty fine chapeau you are sporting!
There’s the annual Paddle and Portage, with pairs of canoers paddling across Lake Mendota, foot-racing with their canoes (the “portage” part) across Madison (and crossing Capitol Square), then finishing by paddling across Lake Monona. There’s even the occasional protest or demonstration!


And you thought hauling all of your market produce was difficult!
The Speedo Tuxedo Team
You see, a good farmers market can be more than just a place to purchase food—it can (and should be!) a community center!


It’s Heirloom Season!

Whether you shop at a farmers market, stop by a farm, or grow your own, you’re likely to see tomato varieties that differ from the ordinary in many gorgeous ways. Here’s a beautifully striped Solar Flare tomato (a beefsteak variety) from Pinehurst Farm in Daleville, Indiana.