Tag Archives | Heather Ray


Ready. Set. Snow!

Walk a Mile in Snowshoes Before Judging Winter Racing

Story by Heather Ray
Photos courtesy of Prospect Lions Club and Riveredge Nature Center

I got cabin fever … and the only prescription is more snow. Because when it comes to that cooped up feeling that sets in shortly after the holidays wane, there is only one cure: to buckle into some snowshoes.

For thousands of years, humans have used devices shaped like rackets as footwear to traverse across deep, powdery snowfields. It’s hard to say who invented them first, as historical records present evidence of simultaneous discoveries in different regions of the globe. So let’s just say, at multiple points in time, people figured out that distributing your weight over a large flat device would prevent your feet from sinking in the snow, a term now called “floatation.”

Such contrivances were originally crafted from wood frames and hide netting. They were utilized for voyaging, hunting, trading, and even marching into war (e.g. the Battle on Snowshoes during the French and Indian War in the 18th century).

Over time, their elongated designs, which some say stretched up to 7 feet long, evolved to mimic the paws of animals that travel with ease … Read More

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Meatless in Milwaukee

Vegetarian Cafes Serve a Growing Interest

Story by Heather Ray
Photography by Jennifer Janivere
Dishes by Hello Falafel

It didn’t surprise me when my father stopped for a Usinger’s brat before exiting the airport terminal during his Milwaukee visit, and it really didn’t surprise me that it wasn’t the only sausage he ate before departing three days later. But what dropped my jaw and swelled my heart with MKE pride was what he said just before saying goodbye. “Man, that cabbage was good.”

There he was. An out-of-towner with a carnivorous appetite, savoring the memory of September Flemish-style cabbage and alebraised onions in a town renowned for brats. Admittedly, these particular veggies were served under not one, but two different styles of sausage at the St. Francis Brewery on South Kinnickinnic Avenue— even still, the cruciferous bits managed to rise above.

“As people become more interested in food, the vegetables can’t be left behind,” says Melissa Buchholz, co-owner with partner Ross Rachhuber of Odd Duck in Bay View and the newly opened vegetarian cafe in the same block, Hello Falafel. “And that’s rad. More people are ordering vegetarian items now,” she says. “It’s not just by people who don’t … Read More

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Hike, Camp, Paddle, Eat… Repeat

Celebrate the Centennial With the National Park Service

Story by Heather Ray
Photos courtesy of The National Park Service, Dave Caliebe, and The North Country Scenic Trail

“Wander here a whole summer, if you can. Thousands of God’s wild blessings will search you and soak you as if you were a sponge, and the big days will go by uncounted.” —John Muir, Wisconsin naturalist

Lace up your hiking boots, slather on the sunscreen, pack a picnic— it’s time to get outside and play with the nearly half a million visitors flocking to National Park Service (NPS) destinations in Wisconsin.

With the 100th birthday of NPS on the horizon, four hot spots— the National Lakeshore of the Apostle Islands, two National Scenic Trails (the Ice Age and the North Country) and the National Scenic Riverway of St. Croix Falls—welcome you to hike, camp, paddle and eat. Here’s a few tidbits to help you choose your own adventure.

The National Lakeshore of the Apostle Islands

On the mainland in Bayfield, get trekking with nearly 12 miles of nature trails. Starting from the Meyers Beach parking lot, the rugged National Lakeshore Trail offers hikers views of the famed sea caves, about … Read More

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The Milwaukee Craft Crew

Bay View Houses Top Shelf Beverage Makers

Story by Heather Ray
Photography by Adam Horwitz

A distiller, a bitters maker, a tonic producer and a brewer walk out of bar… and into a warehouse. Only this is no joke. These like-minded entrepreneurs aren’t your ordinary brew crew, they’re fine-tuning Milwaukee’s craft beverage industry in very distinct markets, and yet, they’re all under one roof—a warehouse actually—sharing the same view through the 20th century factory windows on the corner of Becher and South 1st Streets in Bay View.

The Lincoln Warehouse, originally built in 1928 as a bake house for the A&P grocery chain, has been home to several manufacturing companies specializing in fishing equipment (Frabill Manufacturing), sporting goods (Huffy Corporation) and “Be Mine” candy hearts (NECCO).

Today, under the management of Andrew Bandy, the warehouse has been reconfigured to better suit the needs of Bay View’s young businesses, with imaginative spaces built out for artisan producers ranging between 500 and 7,000 square feet.

Wandering up and down the stairs and through the halls, aromatics are your tour guide for what’s in production. Beer makers from Enlightened Brewery send wafts of fermenting yeast to counter Bittercube’s sweet fragrance of macerated orange … Read More

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Go Fish

Luring the Catch of the Day

Story by Heather Ray
Photography courtesy of Gordon Martin

Moving to Wisconsin introduced me to the wonders of Bloody Marys with beer chasers, a respect for brats and my very first cheese curd craving. But perhaps the most curious wonder of all was the experience of the Friday night fish fry.

Something about those crispy filets piled over a stack of potato pancakes hushed my hankering for seafood, while days spent wandering through the rolling moraines along the Ice Age trail reminded me that with new geography come new adventures. It also taught me that, in Milwaukee, if you give a girl a fish fry, she will eat well for a day. But teach a girl to fish and she may never leave Wisconsin.

It was on a late spring hike through southern Kettle Moraine that I sent my very first cast with a fly fishing rod, eventually catching what I would later know as the “gateway tug,” according to local fly fisherman Gordon Martin, owner of Tie 1 On in Elkhart Lake. “Catching one is like the gateway drug of fly fishing,” he says. “Once it happens, you’re hooked.” He’s referring to the … Read More

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Chefs Find Home in Smallwaukee

Or, Dirty Dishes (the Mostly-Censored Version)

Story by Heather Ray
Photography by Jen Janviere

Is it rude to invite yourself over to a chef’s house for Sunday dinner? Even it means fresh-steamed tamales, grilled prawns, tacos and a glimpse into the raw interactions of off-duty area chefs? We did it anyway.

Odd Duck’s executive chef Daniel Jacobs and his wife Kate Riley, an artist and potter, never meant to call Milwaukee home. But when the young couple found themselves out of work in Chicago, they decided to escape the financial burden of the city. “We felt we both needed a change,” says Dan. “We talked about moving to Asheville,” adds Kate. “I have a good artist friend there.”

Dan nods in agreement. He’s slicing limes for tonight’s Mexican-inspired meal, dishes are piling up in the sink, the scent from the grill is working its way through the apartment. “I guess we always saw Milwaukee as a starting point,” he says. “In a year or so, we’d move someplace else. We didn’t know anyone here—maybe, like, three people from high school.”

Right on cue, one of Dan’s now-best friends joins us from the balcony of the couple’s upper duplex home in … Read More

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Blueprints Gone Green

Reclaiming, recycling, and repurposing in retail and beyond

Story by Heather Ray

It took me 12 months of being reminded by the sign hanging on the entrance of the Outpost Co-op grocery store in Bay View before I finally step through the doors with my reusable bag in hand, head held high. It feels good to be green.

Only on this particular day, I’m at the new Mequon location to see what all the fuss is about. News reports, press releases, newsletters—all touting the store’s groundbreaking “green” design.

The parking lot is packed. I managed to snag a spot next the Ford Fusion Energi Hybrid plugged into the car charging station. Inside the sun shines bright through the skylights as I notice the customer recycling station tucked to the right of the second entrance.

Everything from cell phones to wine corks to plastic bags can be guiltlessly disposed of—even the recycling bins themselves are made locally from 99% plastic recycled milk containers. In 2013, the effort to install these stations at all four locations came shortly after the hiring of Sustainability Manager Jessy Servi. It’s a newly created job title that reiterates Outpost’s mission to create a healthy, diverse and … Read More

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Local First

Matches Made in Milwaukee

Local food businesses pair up, produce new generations of great tastes

Story by Heather Ray
Photography by Joe Laedtke

It’s the classic boy meets girl story. But for our purposes, let’s call the boy “Whiskey” and the girl “Ice Cream.” They have so much in common—they both come in pints, they’re both surprising good with root beer, and they’re both worthy of almost any adult celebration. So for Purple Door Ice Cream owners Lauren and Steve Schultz, it was a natural set up to introduce Whiskey to their prized, hand-crafted Ice Cream. Things were off to a good start. Ice Cream seemed to like Whiskey, and people liked them as a couple, but there was something about this particular blend of Whiskey that lacked the kind of local accent that really spoke to Ice Cream.

Then Ice Cream met a new guy—literally, the boy next door, and literally his name is Guy, as in Guy Rehorst, founder of Wisconsin’s first small-batch distillery, Great Lakes Distillery. Since GLD is no more than a mile from Purple Door’s new home on South 2nd Street in Walker’s Point, it was only a matter of time before the two artisans would cross paths.… Read More

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Can Urban Gardening Fill Need for Farmers?

Groundwork Milwaukee seeks to train new crop

Story by Heather Ray
Photography by Joe Laedtke

If you asked me to draw a picture of an American farmer, I’d start with an elderly white man in weathered denim overalls. He’s leaning up against a tractor, proudly admiring stretched-out rows of corn undulating into the horizon. Behind him is the farmhouse he grew up in, the one his grandfather helped build. This man was raised to be a farmer.

It looks like a stereotype, but let’s face it: American farmers aren’t getting any younger. Quantifying the trend, a 2007 Census of Agriculture report said the number of farm operators age 75 and older grew by 20 percent from 2002 to 2007, while those under the age of 25 dropped 30 percent.

Add to that the nation’s dwindling population in rural towns and an increasing migration to metropolitan areas, and one might start to wonder, Where will tomorrow’s farmers come from? I might be more worried if I didn’t live in Milwaukee. When it comes to our food supply, we don’t mess around. But just to be sure, I seek proof from Groundwork Milwaukee’s Young Farmer Program, an ongoing initiative working to Read More

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Where the Wild Foods Are

Local Foraging Yields Healthy, Free Edibles

Story by Heather Ray
Photography by Erika Kent


I’m standing in the woods a mere 35 miles from my comfy Bay View home, hunting for wild nuts and berries for the first time, when the scene turns surreal.

Heath, our veteran foraging guide, takes a break from the dandelion leaves he’s munching and offers the group some nannyberries. I look around at my fellow foragers, waiting for Veruca Salt to cry out “Whoever heard of a nannyberry!?” But it’s clear we’re not in Wonka’s neck of the woods.

This is real. Nannyberries are real. And they taste, well, unreal—like an intense blueberry.

Until recently I reserved the word foraging for Pacific Northwesterners digging for razor clams and the tenacious cast members of Survivor.

When foraging in the wild, “one small detail can mean the difference between a tasty dinner and a trip to the emergency room,” he says, mostly joking. As long as you learn a few simple lessons, there’s nothing to fear.

Then I tasted my first morel. Something about the mushroom’s complex woodsy flavor piqued my curiosity about what other (free) delicacies grow in Milwaukee’s surrounding woods.

I was about … Read More

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