A tribute to Wisconsin farmers and homegrown fare

Kristine M. Kierzek
Wisconsin State Farmer
Door County cherries are one ice cream sundae option in the Wisconsin Products Pavilion at State Fair.

There’s a farmer behind every meal we eat, and in Wisconsin there are farmers in every corner of the state. Every August, they make their way to the Wisconsin State Fair for 11 days. It’s a bit like a farm family reunion, but the whole state is invited to wander in and out.

None of this would be possible without the state’s farmers. Wisconsin agriculture provides $88.3 billion to the economy, with 68,900 farms covering 14.4 million acres in the state, according to Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation and 2016 Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics. One out of every nine jobs in Wisconsin is related to agriculture.

It can be easy for us to forget just how much farming goes on in the state, and that our neighbors grow the food we eat. It all comes together at the fair, where we can meet the farmers and try the foods.

“We all eat, therefore we are all impacted by agriculture,” said Amy Eckelberg, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest general farm organization representing farms of all sizes.

Make time to visit the Wisconsin State Fair before it closes the book on another successful run on Aug. 13. And while you're there, don't forget to thank a farmer.

Garlic-Herb Cheeseburgers use a garlic-herb cheese spread.

Garlic-Herb Cheeseburger

Recipe provided by the Wisconsin Beef Council

1 pound ground beef (80% to 85% lean)

4 slices red onion, cut ½ inch thick

1 large red bell pepper, cut into quarters

Salt and pepper

½ cup garlic-herb cheese spread

4 round French sandwich rolls, split and toasted

Lightly shape ground beef into four ½-inch-thick patties.

Place patties in center of grill over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange onion and bell pepper around patties. Grill, covered, 8 to 10 minutes (over medium heat on a preheated gas grill, 7 to 9 minutes), turning occasionally until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center of patties registers 160 degrees. Grill vegetables 13 to 16 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, as desired. Cut bell pepper into ½-inch strips.

Spread 1 tablespoon cheese on bottom of each bun; top with burger, another 1 tablespoon cheese, onion slice and one-fourth of the bell pepper. Close sandwiches and serve. Makes 4 burgers

Note: Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness.

Herb & Vinaigrette Potato Salad also has artichokes and peas.

Herb & Vinaigrette Potato Salad

Shared by Ali Carter, vice president of the Wisconsin Potato Growers Auxiliary

4 to 5 medium-size russet potatoes

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

¼ cup finely chopped basil

2 green onions, thinly sliced

⅓ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 jar (6 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

¼ cup freshly shelled peas (can use frozen, thawed)

½ cup baby arugula

¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Wash potatoes, then dice into bite-size pieces. Place diced potatoes in a large saucepan or pot. Fill saucepan with enough water to cover potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 12 to 14 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking, prepare herbed vinaigrette: Place parsley, basil, green onions, oil, vinegar and salt and pepper into a small canning jar. Place the lid on tightly and shake vigorously.

Drain potatoes and place them into a large bowl. Add artichoke hearts, peas and arugula.

Give the canning jar one more good shake, then pour vinaigrette over potatoes and veggies. Stir well to coat. Sprinkle shaved Parmesan cheese on top and add a bit more salt and pepper, if desired, then gently toss everything together.

Serve salad immediately while warm, or place in refrigerator for a few hours to enjoy as a cold potato salad. Makes 6 to 8 servings

Cranberry Apple Salad showcases two popular Wisconsin fruits.

Cranberry Apple Salad

Contributed by the WI Cranberry Growers Association

3 apples (mix of red and green), cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 cup celery (sliced on the bias)

¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries

½ cup toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts

½ cup plain yogurt

3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, thawed

¼ teaspoon salt

Mix apples, celery, cranberries and hazelnuts in a large bowl.In a small bowl, blend yogurt, orange juice concentrate and salt until well mixed. Pour over apple mixture and stir until blended. Refrigerate if not serving immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings