The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries

“Wisconsin is not just about cheddar; we have a large variety of cheeses which consistently win awards.” Kristine Hansen, author, The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press 2019; $24.95)

“Some people say that the French have the best cheese but I think Wisconsin cheese is the best and I can say that because I wrote the book on cheese” says Kristine Hansen, who actually did write The Wisconsin Cheese Cookbook: Creamy, Cheesy, Sweet, and Savory Recipes from the State’s Best Creameries (Globe Pequot Press 2019; $24.95). “Wisconsin is not just about cheddar; we have a large variety of cheeses which consistently win awards.”

With over a million cows, the state turns out more than 2.8 billion pounds of cheese per year. Hansen focused on the growing artisanal cheese producers in the state and though her cookbook has 60 recipes (as well as beautiful, lush photos), it’s as much of a travel guide—call it a cheesy road trip if you can excuse our pun–to 28 of the state’s creameries.

“A lot of my friends, when they come to visit, want to know the best cheese places I’ve discovered and ask for directions,” says Hansen, a Milwaukee-based journalist covering food/drink, art/design and travel whose articles have appeared in many magazines and websites including Midwest Living, Vogue and on Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler.

Writing the book meant lots of time on the road, visiting corners of the state where she’d never been and learning the intricacies of cheese making.

So, what makes Wisconsin cheese so great? After all, there are cows throughout the Midwest, but Indiana, Illinois and Michigan don’t have nearly the same amount of small batch hand crafted cheesemakers as the Badger State.

               “A lot of Swiss immigrants settled here, particularly in Green county,” says Hansen about the home of Green County Cheese Days, the oldest and largest food fest in the Midwest. The festival honors the area’s Swiss heritage (their Swiss credentials are such that there’s also Wilhelm Tell and Heidi festivals) cheesemaking tradition. The later includes a dozen creameries producing over 50 varieties of award-winning cheeses as well as the only domestic maker of Limburger and the only U.S. factory making 180-pound wheels of Old World Emmenthale.  

               Other creameries mentioned in Hansen’s book include the Door County Creamery in Sister Bay in scenic Door County, where visitors where visitors can not only sample cheese and take a farm tour but also participate in a 40-minute goat yoga session.

 “ClockShadow is one of only two urban creameries in the country,” says Hansen about this Milwaukee cheeserie which offers tours. “One of the reasons they opened is they wanted people in Milwaukee to be able to get fresh cheese curds without having to drive very far.”

As an added plus, adults can also combine the experience by taking a tour of the Milwaukee Brewing Company which is just across the street.

“People think the best Gouda comes out of Holland, but Marieke Gouda is wonderful,” says Hansen.

Located in Thorp, Marieke Gouda has a product store, newly opened Café DUTCHess and features tours. Across the street, Penterman Farm where the milk for Marieke Gouda is provided by Brown Swiss and Holstein cows, there’s a viewing room and tours as well.

Bleu Mont in Blue Mounds is one of several cheeseries in the state with a cheese cave.  

Asked what’s the most unique Wisconsin cheese she’s sampled—and she’s tried a lot, Hansen mentions Carr Valley’s Cocoa Cardona, a mild, sweet, caramel flavored cheese balanced by a slight nuttiness that’s dusted with chocolate.

“There are about 500 varieties of cheese of so in Wisconsin, so there’s a lot to choose from” says Hansen. “And the cheeses here are not just for those who live in Wisconsin. Uplands Pleasant Ridge cheese costs $26 a pound and sells in New York City. That says a lot about the state’s cheeses.”


I Know What I Saw: Modern-Day Encounters with Monsters of New Urban Legend and Ancient Lore

Linda Godfrey has spent almost 30 years hunting down tales of the supernatural.

       Linda Godfrey’s blog identifies her as an author and investigator of strange creatures and now in I Know What I Saw: Modern-Day Encounters with Monsters of New Urban Legend and Ancient Lore, her 18th book on such sightings as the Wernersville Dog Woman, Killer Clowns, The Red-Eyed Monster of Rusk County, Wisconsin, The Hillsboro Hairless Thing and the Goat Man of Roswell, New Mexico.

Linda Godfrey

      Godfrey, a journalist, never intended to become an expert on urban legends, ghostly tales and creatures half human and half animal or whatever—there are so many different things that she categorizes them in her book with chapter titles like “Haunts of the Werewolf,” “Phantom Quadrupeds,” “Other Nonconformist Canines”  and “I Saw Bigfoot.” 

      It all began in 1991 when Godfrey, a local interest reporter at The Week, a weekly county newspaper in Delavan, Wisconsin, was listening to similar stories told by sober locals about the frequent sightings of what they described as a large wolf walking—and sometimes running on its hind legs, devouring large amounts of road kill on Bray Road.

      “I was trying to keep an open mind,” says Godfrey, who was seriously skeptical.

      But when she kept hearing the same story—or relatively the same story—repeatedly from everyday type of reliable people, she began to reconsider, wondering what they really were seeing. Could it be a wolf that could, like trained dogs, walk up right like humans? Her first book, Beast of Bray Road, Godfrey shared results from her investigation and gained her national attention.

      “It’s easier to record encounters than understand them,” says Godfrey who has become more open to believing that there are other-worldly things as well as real. “There’s a good chance that what we call monsters are actually unknown and unidentified natural creatures that have learned to be very elusive. After all, the people who report monsters come from all demographics. They are police officers, businesspeople, teachers, housewives, doctors—they’re from all walks of life. Sometimes they are too traumatized to talk about it or report it.”

      Many of Godfrey’s stories reflect her geographic location—she still lives in Wisconsin. But she travels all over the country to follow up on sightings. They not only cross state lines but also timelines—many of the creatures she hears about today have their beginnings in legends hundreds of years ago.

      If you have a sighting you’d like to report, she’d like you to email her at says Godfrey, noting as a journalist, she’d like both facts as well as the feelings and emotions engendered by encounter.

      “Provide as much information as possible including date, time of day, weather, lighting conditions,” she says, citing a long list of what she’d like to know. These include physical characteristics as well as any thoughts or emotions that occurred when a person made a sighting, how they felt afterward, whether they observed the creature leave the scene, any interactions with the creature, whether, after the sighting, the person returned to check for evidence such as footprints or hair and such.  And for those who can draw, a sketch would be great. Those reporting sightings should know that Godfrey keeps all the information she gathers confidential unless she has permission to reveal it.

      “For those who do go looking for these creatures or who have encounters, Godfrey is both reassuring and cautioning.

      “We need to take care,” she says. “As we would of any wild thing.”


What: Reading, Q&A and signing with Linda Godfrey

When: Thursday, July 25 at 7:00 PM

Where: The Book Cellar, 4736-38 N Lincoln Ave Chicago, IL

Fyi: (773) 293-2665;

Breathe In, Cash Out

Allegra Cobb wants to chuck her high pressure, high paying job to become open a yoga practice in this hilarious first novel by Madeleine Henry.

“It’s The Devil Wears Prada of Wall Street, in that you get a glimpse into finance—if you’ve ever worked in investment banking you’ll find anecdotes that really resonate and for those that haven’t, it lets you know what the business is really like,” says Madeleine Henry, about her new book Breathe In, Cash Out, a humorous novel about a yoga-addicted investment banker just waiting for her super big yearly bonus so she can quit and open a yoga practice.

Henry herself is very much like her heroine, Allegra Cobb. She’s a Yale graduate and a former Goldman Sachs banker who is totally into yoga.

“The book shows the two worlds Allegra inhabits and how different they are, yoga versus fiancé, humility versus power and internal rewards versus external rewards,” says Henry, who recalls her own crazy schedule where days started at day 9 a.m. and ended at 10 p.m. when she was finally able to leave the office. Then it was drinks and complaints about how awful their jobs are with her colleague. Then to bed and repeat the entire scenario the next day.

As a bottom rung investment banker, Allegra spends up to 24 hours a day changing the colors on stacked bar charts, “making my bosses feel better about themselves.”

One of the reasons Allegra feel stuck in her job—besides the great pay, prestige and waiting for her bonus—is because he widowed father is so proud of her success and since he’s sacrificed so much for her since her mother died, she finds it hard to tell him she’s chucking it all to teach yoga.

When Skylar Smith, a yogi guru with over two hundred thousand Instagram followers (making her one of the top InstaYogis,) offers to help her break into the business, Allegra sees herself getting close to her dream. Skylar, a beautiful blonde who models for expensive and trendy yoga clothing lines has the life Allegra wants.  At least that’s what she thinks at first.

Henry, who always loved to write and was a comedy writer for the Yale Recorder, has had so much success with this her first novel that she was able to quit her job at Goldman and now teaches yoga and has written next novel.

Asked if some of the anecdotes she uses in her book about her time at Goldman might upset people she worked with, she laughs, saying “they’ll think it’s funny because it’s so true.”


What: Madeleine Henry book signing

When: Bookends & Beginnings, Thursday, July 18, 2019 – 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Where: 1712 Sherman Avenue, Alley #1, Evanston, IL

Cost: Free

FYI: 224-999-7712;

Patrick Butler Writes About Chicago Neighborhoods!

As a fifth generation Chicagoan with roots in the city’s political world as well as long-time newspaperman who grew up or spent time in such neighborhoods as Ravenswood, Lake View, Uptown and Edgewater, Patrick Butler always knew that at some time in his life he would explore the what he terms “a kind of curio shop of people and places that time forgot,”

“Many of the stories I heard growing up in the neighborhoods,” says Butler, a natural born storyteller and author of both Hidden History of Uptown and Edgewater and Hidden History of Ravenswood and Lakeview both published by History Press. “Some I reported on and some I discovered as I was researching other stories.”

Illustrated with vivid black and white vintage photos, Butler takes us deep into the neighborhoods, telling us stories of the denizens of these streets and the buildings out of which they operated.

A favorite he says is Sunnyside, which began first as a stage coach stop and then a resort where the likes of Abraham Lincoln and xxx Douglas could relax and discuss politics. But by the 1860s, under the ownership of Cap Hyman, a Chicago gangster who liked to wave his gun around and wasn’t averse to shooting it either, and his wife Annie Stafford, known as the fattest brothel keeper in Chicago.  

“They called her Gentle Annie,” says Butler noting the term was sarcastic because Annie carried a bullwhip which she used to keep the girls and their customers in line.

“If there’s any place in Chicago that’s been all things to all men, it has to be the corner of the city that is occupied by Edgewater and Uptown,” writes Butler in the Introduction to the Hidden History of Uptown and Edgewater.  “Babe Ruth and Mahatma Gandhi found a place of refuge at the Edgewater Beach Hotel, but the locale has also been a sanctuary for Appalachian coal miners and Japanese Americans released from internment camps.”

Al Capone makes an appearance here as well, reportedly moving booze via underground tunnels (there really are tunnels and it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine Al using them) including one connecting the Aragon Ballroom and the Green Mill which now is an upscale cocktail lounge with live jazz and blues. The tunnels are now used for storage, but the booth at the Green Mill where Al and his gang used to hang out still remains.

Butler’s raconteur style makes it even more of a pleasure to read about this slice of Chicago history.

Hope Rides Again: An Obama Biden Murder

Obama and Biden are back! This time they’re in Chicago solving the mystery of who stole Obama’s Blackberry and killed the thief.

              Barack Obama and Joe Biden return to solving crimes in Hope Rides Again: An Obama Biden Mystery, the second in the series written by Andrew Shaffer and starring the former president and vice president.

              “It’s a totally separate mystery from the first book,” says Shaffer while sitting at a table where a long line had formed waiting for him to autograph copies of his novel at a two-day book fair in Lexington, Kentucky. “The first was set in Wilmington, Delaware and this one is set in Chicago on Obama’s turf and takes place in the spring around St. Patrick’s Day which is certainly a holiday they take seriously there.”

              Indeed, Shaffer, who at one time lived in Chicago, says he revisited old haunts and new places for background as the two BFFs hunt for Obama’s Blackberry and the murderer of the their who originally stole it.

              Though the premise of the two joining together as detectives is somewhat zany, Shaffer describes his book as dealing with serious topics as well.

“But I try to do it in a lighthearted way,” he says. Also, fun are the covers for both books including the first in the series, Hope Never Dies. Harkening back to the vivid colors of 1960s, the first shows Biden driving a convertible while Obama stands in the front seat pointing out the way as they chase their quarry. In the latest, Obama leans down from a swaying rope ladder tethered to a helicopter, his arm outstretched to help Biden up.

One person who thinks the mysteries are fun is the former vice president. When Biden was campaigning in Kentucky (Shaffer and his wife, a romance writer, live in Louisville), he was contacted by the campaign who set up a meeting.

              “I didn’t know whether he liked the book or not or what he was going to say,” says Shaffer adding that the Biden hadn’t read either book but signed his copies. “It was really kind of different to have a character in your book sign your book. I found out later that people have been bringing my books to his campaign stops and asking him to sign them, so he was probably thinking who’s the guy who wrote this?”

              It’s tricky writing about people we know publicly but not in person says Shaffer.

              “I think in ways I know them too well because I know their history and what I think they would do and say, because I’ve written about them and I’ve seen and read about them for eight years,” he says. “When I heard Biden speak in Kentucky, I was like my Biden wouldn’t say that.”

              Shaffer’s book might have garnered a few votes for the vice president.

              “I met one person who said I can’t wait to vote for them again because now they’re detectives,” he says.


What: Andrew Shaffer book signing

When: Tuesday, July 9 at 6 p.m.

Where: The Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL

Cost: Free but RSVP is suggested

FYI: 773.752.4381;

What: Andrew Shaffer book signing

When: Wednesday, July 10 at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson’s Bookshop, 123 W Jefferson Ave., Naperville, IL

Cost: This event is free and open to the public. To join the signing line, please purchase the author’s latest book, Hope Rides Again, from Anderson’s Bookshop. To purchase, stop in or call Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville.

FYI: 630-355-2665;

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