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A Croatian Easter in Wisconsin

Eggs have a long history in Easter celebrations around the world. One Wisconsin woman keeps her Croatian heritage alive by creating and teaching others to make beautiful embroidered eggs.

Photo: Erika Janik 

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Scenes of the 2013 Capitol Christmas tree, from farm to rotunda.

Credit: Breann Schossow/WPR

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Homemade Bitters for a Holiday Tradition

The holidays are filled with traditions and returning to these traditions year after year can be one of the most comforting and memorable parts of the season. Today, Alyssa Tsagong tells us how she found a new way to be a part of an old tradition in her family. 

Judith Siers-Poisson produced this story.

Photo: Alyssa Tsagong

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Lutefisk Supper Brings People Together

Lutefisk - cod that’s been preserved in lye - is a Scandinavian delicacy. It’s a polarizing dish; some people grow up loving it, while others despise it. But that doesn’t stop people from packing into the basement of the Christ Lutheran Church in DeForest every year. For months, volunteers plan the dinner and cook everything from scratch, including 1900 pounds of lutefisk. WPR’s Maureen McCollum went to see what brings people back year after year.

Photo: Maureen McCollum

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Duck Confit (recipe)Duck Confit

Confit was originally a method of preserving salted meat in fat; today we use the technique more for flavor than preservation, and indeed, there’s little more appetizing than a succulent leg of duck that’s been spiced, salted, and then simmered slowly in duck fat to maximum tenderness.

Making confit is not difficult, but it can be a little messy. The first thing you need is a pot of duck fat.

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Fowl for Christmas:

Turkey is a traditional holiday meal choice. But writer Brett Laidlaw wonders if perhaps we should consider another kind of holiday fowl.

Commentator Brett Laidlaw is the author of the book and the blog Trout Caviar.

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Bad Santa:

Gift giving often inspires noble intentions if less successful results. Writer David McGlynn tells us about his family’s gift giving history and how sometimes the best gift is the one you didn’t expect.

David McGlynn is the author of A Door in the Ocean and The End of the Straight and Narrow. He teaches at Lawrence University.

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Aluminum Christmas:

Manitowoc’s Aluminum Specialty Company became famous for its sparkling aluminum Christmas trees in the 1960s. Jerry Waak sold millions of trees during its heyday when he ran the company’s sales force. He tells us what made them so popular.

Thanks to the Wisconsin Historical Society for the photo.

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Lutefisk:

Thanksgiving isn’t the only traditional fall feast. For those of Scandinavian descent, fall also means lutefisk suppers. Writer Eric Dregni tells us the story behind this famously pungent fish.

Eric Dregni is the author of several books, including Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America and In Cod We Trust.

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Thanksgiving Cobbler:

A lot of people will be in the kitchen today, getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner. In Madison, Carlotta Calmese is baking one of her family’s traditional desserts — peach cobbler. Producer Cynthia Woodland brought us her story.

Photo by hthrd.

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FIBS:

Memorial Day signals the start of the summer travel season. Among those taking to the Wisconsin roads will be visitors from Illinois — people Wisconsinites love to hate. Writer Patrick Somerville reflects on both Wisconsin’s and his own conflicted relationship with Illinois.

Patrick Somerville is the author of several books, including his latest novel This Bright River.

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Old Stone Face:

The holiday season is a time for seeing family and catching up with old friends. Today, commentator David Rhodes introduces us to one of his very oldest friends.

David Rhodes is the author of the award-winning novel, Driftless. He lives on 35 acres of land in the Driftless region.

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Christmas Lights:

December is here and the countdown to the holidays has begun. Festive decorations and strings of lights are going up all over. Today, writer Dean Bakopoulos tells us about the holiday decorating advice he once gave a friend.

Dean Bakopoulos is a novelist and creative writing professor at Grinnell College. His most recent novel is called My American Unhappiness.

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Jello Salad:

Alongside the turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberries is another Midwestern holiday tradition: jello salad. If you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to be served on today, you might like to know something about their origin. Commentator Eric Dregni shares the Scandinavian tradition of these quivering salads.

Eric Dregni is an assistant professor of English at Concordia University in St. Paul. He’s the author of several books including Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America.

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Nodji VanWychen’s Cranberry Wine Relish

Ingredients:

16 oz. (4 cups) fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup cranberry wine

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 fresh orange, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 TBS grated orange zest

½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Combine all ingredients except walnuts in a saucepan and stir well.  Cook over medium heat until cranberries pop open, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat, skim the foam off the surface of the mixture and discard.  Stir in the chopped walnuts. 

Cool the mixture to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate.  Cranberry relish will keep for 3 months in the refrigerator, longer if frozen.

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