Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winter Drinks

Wisconsinites drink a lot of milk and beer, and the brandy old fashioned is the cocktail of choice at Euchre games across the state.  But when the winter sets in, Wisconsinites turn to something to fight off the cold.  Here's a few drinks that have established themselves as wintertime favorites.

Cherry bounce

Cherry bounce is a simple infusion of cherries and sugar into a spirit.  The town of Fristhden, England claims to have invented the mix and it was a favorite of George Washington, who had his own recipe for the liqueur.  In Wisconsin, cherry bounce is mostly associated with Christmastime.  Despite its small size, Door County is the fourth-largest cherry producer in the country and attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to "pick-their-own" during harvest in early August.  While many of these cherries will be packed into pies, sauces, and other great dishes, many Wisconsinites will pack them into a jar to steep in brandy.  The fruit will do its magic through the months, ready to be enjoyed for Christmas.

In Madison, The Old Fashioned hosts a cherry bounce party every November.  They offer three varieties: vodka, brandy, and bourbon.  Many people prefer the spicy tones of the bourbon bounce, but I liked the sweetness of the brandy bounce.  Typically it is consumed neat, but will also be used in a variety of cocktails and recipes as well.  Cherry bounce is very simple to produce and makes wonderful Christmas gifts.  Try it yourself this summer and enjoy a long-beloved Wisconsin tradition!

Tom and Jerry

Everybody across the country is familiar with eggnog (unfortunately, mostly from the coolers at the grocery store), but there's an alternative that is arguably more tasty.  Although invented by an Englishman, the Tom and Jerry is almost unheard of outside of Wisconsin.  Whereas eggnog tends to be more rich and heavy, a proper Tom and Jerry will be frothy and not as thick.  Essentially, it's whipped egg whites with the yolks and milk mixed in.  Add your brandy and rum and you've got the best après-ski drink this side of the Atlantic.

The Tom and Jerry are making somewhat of a comeback, but at their heyday in the first half of the 20th century, some people had their own serving bowls with "Tom and Jerry" painted on the side in Old English font.  If you hunt through the second-hand stores long enough, you may come across one of the treasures, harkening back to a more festive era.


Photo from
 Essentially mulled wine, this variety comes from the German countries.  Glühwein (German for "glowing wine", named after the hot irons used to heat the drink) is a heated drink of red wine mixed with spices and citrus.  It is sometimes spiked with additional alcohol (typically brandy or kirschwasser) and occasionally served in small ceramic boot-shaped mugs, though is is uncommon in Wisconsin as it is a relatively recent German invention.  Glühwein is perfect for serving large crowds and is very simple to make!

So start the fire, curl up in a blanket, and have a glass or two.  Winter is here, but we don't have to be cold!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Badgers Football

Photo: UW Athletics
Today the Badgers return to Pasadena for their third year at the Rose Bowl.  More Than Curds is by no means a sports blog (for that, I'd direct you to Lizconsin) but we are all about Wisconsin.  What kind of Sconnies would we be if we didn't talk about football?

The UW Badgers are an institution (literally) that binds our state together.  I never understood states that have two big teams.  No matter where you go in Wisconsin, just mention the Badgers and you'll have some to talk about with everybody.  Sure, this works with the Packers too, but the Badgers have grown and developed alongside our state since the beginning--so much so that our state song is also our football fight song.

Photo: Bleacher Report
Photo: eHow
The University of Wisconsin was founded in 1848 when we were granted our statehood, although it wasn't until 1889 that Badgers football began (college football wasn't established until 1869).  The mascot was not named after the animal but lead miners in the southern part of Wisconsin that would dig shelters into the side of the hills, earning themselves the nickname of "Badgers".  In the early days of the sport, our record was erratic.  The Badgers played only two games in 1889 (losing both), but won the biggest victory in school history the next season by beating Whitewater Normal School -- later UW Whitewater -- 106 to 0.  However the next game saw a humiliating 63-0 defeat against Minnesota which started our inter-school rivalry that continues to this day.  In fact, Wisconsin and Minnesota have faced off 121 times, which makes it the oldest rivalry in Division I football.  This rivalry was formalized in 1930 when the schools began to compete for the "Slab of Bacon", a prize that would go home with the victor until competition the next year.  The Slab tradition was ended when the current trophy, the Paul Bunyan Axe, was established in 1948.  Wisconsin has held the Axe 18 of the last 22 years and holds the overall winning record of 38-24.

Photo: Dial Global Sports
This year, UW Athletic Director and former coach Barry Alvarez is set to coach the Rose Bowl yet again.  When Alvarez was brought on in 1990, he had three losing seasons.  But in 1994 he lead the team to a 21-16 win against UCLA at the Rose Bowl.  This set the pace for his career, earning the Badgers two conference championships and two additional Rose Bowl victories among 11 bowl games overall.  In 1999, they were ranked #4 nationwide.  Alvarez stepped down from the Head Coach position in 2005, paving the way for Bret Bielema, who lead the Badgers to six bowl games in a row.  The past three years saw the Badgers at the Rose Bowl, but this year Bielema has left to join the University of Arkansas, a mere four weeks before a chance to claim a win for Wisconsin.  Alvarez has agreed to step in as the interim Head Coach for the bowl game before they decide on a replacement for Bielema next season.