A few weeks ago, I traveled to Wisconsin to do some research for my upcoming series, The Honeybee Sisters. The new series comes out in 2016 and features three Amish beekeepers and their eccentric Aunt Bitsy. I visited three separate Amish communities in Wisconsin. Each community is a little different, and I found each one delightful.
One thing I love about going to Amish country is visiting the many little Amish-run businesses that seem to be everywhere. The Amish are very ingenious and find many different ways to generate an income for their families. The Wisconsin Amish don’t cater to tourists like some Amish destinations in Ohio and Pennsylvania do. In Wisconsin, you have to do a little searching off the beaten path.
Being the person I am, I had to buy a quilt. In the remote settlement of Wautoma we found a beautiful purple and black quilt in Mary Yoder’s quilt shop. Mary’s home is right on highway 21 and her quilt shop is about the size of a bathroom. Mary gave us a map of the Amish businesses in the area, and we went exploring, finding a greenhouse and a candy store along the way. At the R&R candy shop (named for Rachel and Ron) we bought delectable peanut butter chocolate cups and white chocolate almond candy. We also looked at their baby chicks, played with their Chihuahua, and tried to get one of their lambs to go back into the pen. Rachel called that particular lamb a “little stinker.”
In Bonduel, we bought raspberry key lime jam and homemade peanut butter at Lark Country Store (both were amazing) and several yards of fabric at a small Amish fabric store. Bonduel also has a huge egg operation, with thousands and thousands of stinky chickens and many more thousands of eggs.
My friend Kathy Kuderer took us to an Amish-owned cheese factory in Cashton where I restrained myself and bought only one package of white cheese curd. I ate it all before we got back to our hotel. White cheese curd is on my top-ten list of favorite foods.
Also in Cashton, we stopped at a small bakery where the cute Amish baker had just pulled a peach pie out of the oven. She gave us some plastic forks and plates, and we devoured the whole pie in the car. I must admit, I ate most of it, and it was by far the best peach pie I have ever eaten. I will definitely have to get that recipe.
I bought another quilt in Cashton, because you can never have enough quilts—at least that’s what I tell myself. Do you think I need counseling for my quilt addiction?
Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA nominated and award-winning author of the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series. She loves writing about the plain Amish life and the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth. She and her husband live in Utah and have four daughters and two sons.
Huckleberry Christmas will be available in an audio format August 11!
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