Tonight I was lucky enough to be my Dad’s date to the Larson Acres summer picnic (http://www.larsonacres.com/). The Larsons are a Rock County farm family that I grew up with – I got to catch up with Barb for a minute and it occurred to me that she was my first 4-H foods project leader. I remember a particular meeting at her home where we cooked a full breakfast – the first time I was allowed to make pancakes (I was probably 8 or 9) and learned to watch for the bubbles to know when it’s time to flip. Another example of how my upbringing made me passionate about food.

There’s just something about the food at a gathering like this that is so comforting to me. The first thing I noticed when we pulled up was the Rock County Pork Producers trailer (http://www.rockcountyporkproducers.com/) cooking center cut pork chops. Getting in line, we got our plastic plates and loaded up with chops, baked beans, cheesy potatoes, cheese curds and applesauce. Wash it all down with a cold can of Miller Lite: that’s what I call heaven. The only thing that could possibly top it off is a sundae or cone from the Rock County Dairy Parlor.

To me, food is all about pleasure and memories, comfort and tradition. There is nothing like a freshly grilled pork chop. The sweet and salty taste of baked beans compliments the savory richness of cheesy potatoes. There is nothing wrong or unsophisticated about a simple meal with quality, local ingredients. This is what I love about my roots at Maple Hill.

P.S. my sincerest thanks, as a cheese fanatic, to Larson Acres for producing all that milk – and of course for your hospitality tonight!