Take a Break, Get a Book

**Giveaway closed as of 8:00 p.m., May 25, 2011**

You guys. I need a break. I spent a good portion of the day yesterday scraping bumble bee stickers off a bedroom window with my old library card. Bumble bee stickers. As if I needed another reason to dislike bees. Stingy and sticky. We’re not currently not on speaking terms.

How about you? Could you use a break? A pick-me-up? Maybe of the cool, refreshing, sweet/tart variety? Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Ahhh. Yes. The sound of tinkling ice cubes is like music after a long hard day. Is it blazing hot where you are? Then get out of here, I’m mad at you. Please take our cold, clouds and rain with you.

I’m kidding. You can totally stay. If you stick around, we can relax in a couple of virtual rocking chairs, have a cool glass of refreshing, rosy lemonade and I’ll tell you all about a fabulous GIVEAWAY coming at ya right now!

My little corner of the internet turns three on Saturday. Awww. My baby is growing up. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by. We’ve been through a lot together and I’m so grateful for all of you, especially while I was on hiatus there trying to move. Twice. So, just to say hey, thanks for playing, I’m offering you a chance to get your hands on a pretty cool cookbook.

A couple months ago, I got an email from a rep from Andrews McMeel Publishing asking if I’d like a preview copy of a new book called Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig to mention here on the blog.

Would I? HECK YES, I would. I jumped all over this one like white on rice. First, I was so humbled and honored that someone took the time to read my blog, learn a bit about me and offer me a product that totally fits with what I’m all about. How refreshing! I’m a Heartland girl born and raised and it’s no secret how much I love Midwest. I was excited to get my hands on a book featuring food and stories from my little slice of the country. And second, I got an additional copy just for YOU!

Oh my goodness, friends. This is a beautiful book. You don’t have to be in the Midwest to appreciate the wonderful fresh ideas, gorgeous photos and nostalgic stories. Judith is clearly passionate about Midwest, it’s people and it’s food history and tradition. It’s wonderfully written and full of Heartland goodies. I will say a few of the recipes contain ingredients that even I, smack dab in the middle of the middle west, may have a hard time locating, but they are easily substituted for something more readily available. For example, I’m not sure where one would procure pheasant (less one shoots it themselves) but the recipe could easily be made with chicken, as noted. πŸ™‚

This book is full of delightful pantry basics like jams and sauces; hearty, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast fare; versatile bread recipes that can be made into loaves, rolls, coffee cakes, pizza crusts and more; soups, salads and main dishes brimming with the best of the Heartland harvest; and mouthwatering desserts that are perfect for sharing. In addition, it’s packed with resources on where to find the best of the best in ingredients, food and experiences right here in the Midwest!

I jumped right in by trying the Porch Swing Lemonade (recipe follows), and the Sunflower Cookie Brittle (coming soon!) and both were wonderful. I’m officially in love with this book. If you live in and love the Midwest like I do, if you’re a former resident transplanted elsewhere and looking for a little taste of home, or if you’re just curious about the people, food and culture of this (highly underrated, in my humble opinion) part of the country, please consider checking out this book!

Here’s how to enter:

Leave me a comment telling me about a favorite food or food tradition from your city or state (even if you’re not in
the Midwest).

You have until 8:00 p.m. central time, Wednesday, May 25 to leave your comment and I’ll use random.org to pick a winner! Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only (my apologies to international readers). Sorry, family…you’re not eligible either.

Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by Andrews McMeel Publishing – they provided me with two copies of Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Now, the lemonade. As a rule, I’m not a big fruit juice person, but if there is one thing I absolutely cannot resist, it’s fresh-squeezed lemonade, especially when it leans toward tart. It’s so refreshing. When I spotted this recipe featuring fresh lemonade kicked up a notch with a syrup made from an early spring Midwest favorite – Rhubarb – I knew I would love it.

And I did! Rhubarb, sugar and water cook down into a thick, perfectly pink syrup and from there it’s mixed with lemon juice and water and garnished with a bit of fresh rosemary. The result is an all-natural, rosy-cheeked lemonade with subtle rhubarb and floral notes. Depending how sweet you like it, you can add additional sugar to the finished product. I found that just the addition of the rhubarb syrup made it plenty sweet for my taste (and I actually decreased the sugar a bit when making the syrup) but remember I’m all about tart so adjust accordingly to your taste. πŸ™‚

Like I said, I need a break. If you do too, whip up a batch of this, grab a good book or a good friend and hit the porch. Stay there all afternoon. You’ll be relaxed, refreshed and recharged in no time.

PORCH SWING LEMONADE (Recipe adapted from: Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig, pages 34 & 127)


  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 7 large lemons)
  • 1 1/2 cups Rosy Rhubarb Syrup (recipe follows), Fresh Herb Syrup, or Blackberry-Lavender Syrup (you’ll just have to win the book to get these recipes which sound DIVINE, by the way!) πŸ˜‰
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Sugar, for sweetening (if desired)
  • Fresh lemon slices for garnish
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary, for garnish


In a large pitcher, stir together the lemon juice, syrup, water and sugar, if using. Add lemon slices and rosemary. Taste, and add more sugar if necessary. Serve cold and poured over ice.


  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or thawed frozen
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar (I used only about 1-1/4 cups)
  • Juice of two lemons (because I used less sugar, I used only the juice of one lemon)

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the rhubarb and water to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer the rhubarb until tender and pulpy (it will basically fall apart), about 10 minutes.

Strain out the pulp over a bowl, reserving the juice. Measure the juice and add enough water to equal two cups. Return the liquid to the saucepan and stir in sugar. Bring to a boil once more and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Allow syrup to cool (it thickens as it cools). Strain the syrup again, and pour into an airtight container or bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.


Giveaway starts…NOW!

Ready, set, ENTER! Good luck everybody! πŸ™‚


Filed under drinks, fruit

48 responses to “Take a Break, Get a Book

  1. Lizzie

    I would lOVe the cookbook.
    I’m from Ohio and I have great memories of helping my grandmother make strawberry rhubarb pies. Mmmmmm!

  2. One of the best seafood restaurants in my city is famous for their “buck a shuck” nights…where fresh oysters (with the BEST cocktail sauce ever) are offered for $1/each. They do it several times during the spring/summer and never annouce the dates in advance, it’s so much fun when you hear about one of these days going on, and make impromptu plans to get together with friends after work.

  3. Ali

    Favorite foods from where I used to live…

    Wisconsin – Cheese curds, cheddar variety
    Montana – Huckleberry Jam
    Kansas – Fresh, roasted corn

    Thank you for hosting this giveaway. It sounds like a great cookbook.

  4. What a gorgeous recipe! My husband loves lemonade and rhubarb, so this will be a sure winner in our house.

    I’m originally from Oklahoma, so my home foods are of the more Southern variety. I love fried green tomatoes, chicken fried steak, peach cobbler, fresh Rush Springs watermelon, pecans, and great bbq.

  5. Maria

    I, too, reside in the Midwest, so I am very happy it is finally time for locally-grown food – our local farmer’s market just had its opening day last weekend. I am really looking forward to the fresh, Midwest strawberries that will be arriving soon! Thanks for the great giveaway, and the fab recipe!

  6. Mmm that looks so refreshingly delicious!

    I’m from Cincinnati and so of course I’ll have to say that my favorite hometown food is Skyline Chili. It’s the reason that I tell people that I’ll never leave this city. They say its injected into babies from birth ;). But transplants usually either hate it or take a few tries before their converted.

    PS: For those wanting to try Cincinnati-Style Chili or want to learn what its all about, checkout this recipe on my blog!

  7. This looks beautiful and refreshing! If the rhubarb I planted grows, I know what I will make with it! And the rosemary is a nice touch too.
    I’m in CT, and my favorite is a lobster roll – with butter, no mayo – on a grilled bun. Can’t wait to have a few of these this summer!

  8. Crab is king in Maryland! I should say crabcakes are my favorite but, really, it’s creamy, totally-bad-for-me crab dip on bread.

  9. I have a weakness for fresh squeezed lemonade, so this sounds delightful to me. As for my favorite food from my state of FL, it would have to be key lime pie. (Can you tell I am a fan of tart too?) My dad is from the midwest, and I spent many wonderful summer vacations there while growing up, so this cookbook would be fun to have.

  10. Stephanie

    I live in Austin, Texas, and while most people would choose Texas BBQ, I’m a fan of the great Tex Mex we have.

    I hope I win the cookbook!

  11. Lindsay

    I’m in new england so I’m going with lobster!

  12. Heather

    My favorite local food is soft pretzels! I could eat them day and night.

  13. Definitely Toasted Ravioli and Gooey Butter Cake from St. Louis! Oh, and I can’t WAIT to try this recipe! We have some friends with rhubarb plants at their house, I’m going to have to petition for some!

  14. I’m from GA and I can’t say no to any home-cooked southern foods like mashed potatoes and fried chicken.

    I live in CA now and I love stopping at the road side stands and buying a cheap bag of avocados to make guacamole and add to my other dishes!

  15. Roland

    For summer drinks, have you gotten into the combination of cucumber and lemon or lime? I discovered the Pimm’s Cup cocktail, which is just about the perfect summer cocktail. Recently made this phenomenal cocktail with muddled mint and limes, thin slices of cucumber, cantaloupe liqueur (homemade!), and lemon-lime soda and club soda (get the fizz, w/out the sweetness).

    As far as my favorite food tradition from the Midwest? Watching people open cans of stuff, mix them together, and then call it a day. I really enjoy recipes that feature things like maraschino cherries, marshmallows, Cool Whip, canned fruit, and corn flakes. I think that I’m only semi-joking.

    However, since I’ve moved down to NOLA, my favorite tradition is making dark roux for gumbo and sauces.

  16. Kathy

    Hi! LOVE your blog! I’m from Philly – and I’m going to be totally cliche and say cheesesteaks and of course soft pretzels. Thanks πŸ™‚

  17. Well…Im from the Buffalo area, so of course, Chicken Wings!!! I also greatly adored buffalo chicken dip, and have been known to make it for dinner occasionally. πŸ™‚

  18. innasinventions

    I’m from Michigan and our big food tradition is on Fat Tuesday going to Hamtramick (the polish area in Detroit) and getting Paczkis (doughnuts the size of your head).

  19. My favorite food tradition is from my family. For every major event since my 16th birthday (Graduations, weddings, etc.), we have had a deep-pit BBQ. My entire family gets involved in prepping the pit, the meat, and cooking the meat. It tastes wonderful, but it is an awesome tradition filled with wonderful memories.

    My city is small- I live in Southern California- but a couple of cities over has an annual Balloon and Wine festival- it is a great collection of vendors who offer wine, a variety of yummy food, hundreds of beautiful hot air balloons that take off at dawn- dotting the sky like a beautiful colorful canvas… and did I mention wine? πŸ™‚

  20. Great giveaway!

    I think my food “tradition” was growing up with chili served over noodles. It’s my favorite way to eat it πŸ™‚

  21. My favorite Maryland food is steamed blue crabs with vinegar and Old Bay.

  22. My favorite food tradition from Michigan was the Friday night fish frys. I miss them so much! Now that we’re in Texas, I’d have to say my favorite food tradition is crawfish boils.

  23. Megan

    I have to say Molasses Crumb Cake! So good!

  24. Becki Sue

    I’m from Illionis, so I cannot wait for that first sweet corn on the cob of the year!

  25. Trisha B.

    In SD and love corn on the cob cooked on the grill, yum.

  26. Great giveway, I love a cookbook

    I am from Indiana and in my town we are know for the tenderloins. They sure are good with a side of fries πŸ™‚

  27. stacym

    Fresh corn on the cob from local farmstands here in rural MN!

  28. Maria S. Rivera

    I was born and raised in South Texas, so you can imagine the array of foods here from bar-b-q ribs, shrimp, oysters, fish from the Gulf of Mexico, TEX-MEX, and all out MEXICAN FOOD. My favorite though, is a tradition that my mom and most people of Mexican descent make during the Christmas holidays, that’s homemade tamales. My mom made them for years and then I took over along with the help of my husband. We’ve been making tamales every holiday season for almost 30 years. This past December we made 150 dz. tamales. We give some to family to enjoy, we have them at our parties, and freeze most of them to cook during the year. I still have about 70 dz in the freezer. Tamales are the best in South Texas.

  29. TANYA R

    I live in Michigan and would have to go with Apple Pies made right from my beautiful Grandma!!! DELICIOUS! BEST EVER!

  30. Rachael G

    Hurray for the midwest! As a southern MN girl who now lives in KS, I would love a cookbook full of midwestern recipes! My fave “hometown” food are Bruno’s corndogs (sold out of a foodtruck at the county’s summer fair). Sounds pretty simple but they are one of the local fair foods that must not be missed. Everyone knows that Bruno’s corndogs are THE best and they bring up such fond memories of summer in my hometown! Heck, I don’t even like corndogs but I’ll always eat one from Bruno’s to keep up the tradition!

  31. Cara

    Hmm, I’m from LI, but don’t really like seafood-Long Island iced teas? Ha, I guess bagels!

  32. sally brewer

    I am also from Cincinnati and LOVE Skyline Chili! Also, we grew up with a lot of southern influences. The lemonade looks divine!

  33. Brianna & Dustin

    I’m from the Central Coast, CA and when it’s Dungeness Crab season, I love having a huge crab feed. It’s a tradition my family’s been doing for years. We steam one whole crab per person, and serve it with melted butter, lemon wedges, and crusty bread. Heaven. And messy.

    By the way, I’m admitting that this Cali girl doesn’t know much about the Midwest, but I would love to know more, and I love getting a little glimpse of it from your blog. One of the reasons I’m a fan πŸ™‚

  34. Bridget S.

    In Columbus, GA, there is a Dinglewood Pharmacy. At the lunch counter they serve THE BEST Scrambled Dogs: a red hot dog, split lengthwise, placed in the bun and spread out, then covered with homemade chili, mustard, oyster crackers, and pickles. YUM!!!!!

  35. Jennifer Lindley

    I have a variety of food traditions – grew up in California, parents from a very ethnic area of Chicago and living in the South for the past 42 years. Stroganoff, Hoppin John, fresh veggies – way too many to name!

  36. Your lemonade sounds perfect, I could totally use a break! I am from WI – so my favorite food should be cheese curds or something like that – but I don’t like cheese. I know shameful. So I am going to go with Brats and Beer – good old Johnsonville Brat and WI beer!

  37. I’m from New Orleans and we have tons of local food that I just couldn’t live without–crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, mufulettas, beignets, poboys–the list goes on and on, but my true weakness is for pralines.

  38. Ana

    I’m from Wisconsin, (currently in Illinois) and ❀ the Midwest! My favorites are frozen custard…and fried cheese curds. YUM!

  39. Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie!! Yum!

  40. From NJ, but right outside of Philly so definitely would have to say cheesesteaks! Yum! Can’t wait to try the lemonade.

  41. Beth

    Yay for the Midwest! I’m an Ohio native, so Buckeyes are a very important food tradition for me. And fresh strawberry pie – I grew up picking pounds and pounds of berries with my mom. Nothing tastes better than her pie.

    And now that my rhubarb is coming in to its own, this lemonade recipe looks awesome!

  42. Erica

    Id have to go with grilling and tailgating, the mouth-watering aroma of charcoal and brats is irresistible.

  43. Karen

    I’m from Arizona and my favorite food tradition are the homemade tamales at Christmas time. They are so delicious!

  44. Heather

    Congrats on turning 3! πŸ™‚ I’m from the Palm Springs area in CA and dates are really big here. Especially date shakes. I’ve lived here most of my life and still cannot bring myself to try one. Eeek!

  45. Linn

    Hailing from the south, I am a big fan of grits, though I suspect this might have more to do with the fact that I use them as a receptacle for copious amount of yummy melted cheese. Though I live above the Mason-Dixon line these days I’m always happy when I reach the point in a road trip where grits start showing up on the menu again–though these days I am also just as happy to eat polenta in these northern parts.

  46. This looks like a great book! Of course I love Chicago-style pizza, but I think I love Italian beef (dipped, with hot giardiniera of course) even more.

  47. Amy

    I’m from Upstate NY and I’d say salt potatoes! Can’t wait to have some this summer when I’m home.

  48. Pingback: Summer Roast | Milk & Honey

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