I am not a Colorado native, but a transplant from Wisconsin. I admit to being a cheesehead, which is a term that was coined when the first hat appeared on television in the fall of 1987, the year I got married and moved out West. Even though we have an impressive costume collection, we never even owned a cheesehead hat until I found one at my parent’s neighborhood garage sale back in Evansville, Wisconsin. That was the year that everyone was selling all of their Brett Favre memorabilia. It was proudly worn by my husband at the Super Bowl party we recently attended. I wore another classic: The beer helmet.
I would now consider myself a Boulder granola which happens inevitably through the osmosis of being around some of the healthiest people in the United States. I know. You are thinking culture shock and you are right. When I first moved out here my accent was so thick that new acquaintances often placed me in Canada. This was before the movie Fargo. I am ashamed to admit that I could be found eating a bologna, iceberg lettuce, and mayo sandwich on homemade white bread, outdoors, with my face turned upward toward my new best friend, the relentless sunshine. One time my neighbor Dave, a re-known chef, came to pick up his boys after a play date. He commented with a smile on his face, “Wow. That looks good. I haven’t eaten one of those in a long time.” My first thought was, “Really? Why?” At about the same time I was visiting my friend Kim who said, “Here is some Boar’s Head deli meat. Go ahead and make yourself a sandwich.” Simple right? I didn’t realize that it was pre-sliced until I decimated it by tearing off a hunk from the slab. Yes, these were my first aha moments where I realized that there were healthy alternatives to the more fattening, high-cholesterol, and preservative filled meals that I was used to.
I have never been a fan of prepared food and am proud to say that I have that I still haven’t bought a box of mac and cheese in my life, but Madison is home Oscar Mayer. I remember the Wienermobile driving around town on hot summer days. It would cruise into my neighborhood with their theme song blaring and just like the Pied Piper a crowd of kids would gather. The wiener man would throw Oscar Mayer wiener whistles out the window to all of the kids. I can still hear them them tooting away!
Wisconsin is the dairy state and is home to some of the most amazing cheeses. It is definitely a staple back there. Cheese and crackers are as common as peanut butter and jelly. When my friends and family entertained they would put out a selection of their best cheeses along with a good Wisconsin summer sausage. Yum! This was before the FDA required everyone to list their ingredients on their labels. Talk about too much information. It almost ended my love affair with sausage. A couple of years ago my friend Karin bought me a beef log as a hostess gift. We had a good giggle over the size of the thing. It was a log alright! It had to be almost a foot and a half long! I have to admit that my family ate the whole thing. After all it was a gift.
After living out here for 23 years, I have committed to a more natural, organic, nutrient rich diet. I still am known to relapse on Friday nights and break out the beer, cheese, and crackers, but now that I live in Colorado I am more likely to drink Fat Tire, brewed in Fort Collins and eat goat cheese from a local farm. By the way, the first couple of times that I ordered a Fat Tire, I called it a Flat Tire not realizing that they were referring to the local sport of mountain biking. Duh!
All this typing about food has made me really hungry. I think that I will make some soup even though I have a sudden craving for a bologna sandwich.
Boulder County Mushroom Barley Soup
2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced
½ cup red wine
2 T soy sauce
1 pound mushrooms, white button or porcini, chopped
½ cup pearl barley
6 cups of beef broth, divided
1tsp dry basil, (1T if fresh)
1 tsp dry rosemary, minced, (1T if fresh)
1 bay leaf
Over medium/low heat pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stock pot. Add minced garlic and onion cooking until they turn golden. Add carrots, wine, soy sauce, mushrooms, and barley. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add 4 cups of the beef broth. Cover and continue simmering for an hour. Add the remaining 2 cups of broth. Serves 8.
This is an original recipe, so let me know what you think!!
2011 Susie Lindau