RCHS program focuses on county's culinary history

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Shelly Birkelo
Friday, April 12, 2013

— The Rock County Historical Society is about to launch its largest-ever program to educate the public about the area's food history while helping area food pantries.

The 12-month program "Breadbasket: Seed to Spoon" will include an exhibit, events and a website offering multimedia galleries, free recipes and healthy eating tips related to Rock County's food traditions, businesses and culture, said Michael Reuter, society executive director.

"It's a yearlong celebration of Rock County culinary past, present and future," he said.

The society is inviting residents to share recipes and memories about food, Reuter said.

The program sponsored by BMO Harris Bank and Mercy Health System opens with a sneak peek for society members Saturday, June 1, and will continue through June 1, 2014. It features the biggest, most comprehensive and interactive exhibit ever undertaken by the society, Reuter said.

The exhibit opens to the public Saturday, June 15, to coincide with Lincoln-Tallman Father's Day Eve Fun Dash 5K run.

The run and other events are intended to introduce new uses for the Lincoln-Tallman House so people will see the value of promoting Rock County's history, Reuter said.

"If the society is going to be able to go where we want to go with our capital campaign and development of the campus, we need to reach out, create value and be relevant to communities all around Rock County," he said.

"Breadbasket: Seed to Spoon" is intended to build awareness of Rock County's agricultural abundance, storied history of iconic eateries and a unique culture of food and culinary traditions, Reuter said. It also will benefit area food pantries.

"We want to fight hunger by partnering with food pantries, so will be giving back one dollar of the exhibit admission fees to food pantries in Rock County. Our goal is to gather $10,000 to fight hunger or to collect 10,000 pounds of nonperishable food items throughout the year-long event," he said.

When people visit the exhibit at the society's Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center, they will be asked to bring nonperishable food items for reduced-fee or free admission, Reuter said.

The program has the potential to improve social awareness of what the food culture is in Rock County, he said, which includes "the good, bad and everything in between."


The Rock County Historical Society's Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center, 426 N. Jackson St., Janesville, seeks these items for use by Wednesday, May 1. Items will be returned by June 30, 2014:

-- Photographs that can be scanned and originals returned.

-- Artificial foods—raw fruits and raw or cooked vegetables such as mashed potatoes, meats, desserts, breads, milk products and cheese.

-- One full place setting of china with an 1860 appearance. This includes a dinner, bread, soup and salad plate, plus one serving bowl.

-- One full place setting of china with a 1900 appearance.

-- Five to six miniature bushel baskets of any color.

-- Early/old labels or cans/bottles from Rock County food businesses, including Janesville Pickling and Packaging Works, Hohenadle Canning, Bower City Canning and Hormel Spam.

The historical society also is in need of recipes from Rock County residents to share in its upcoming project, "Breadbasket: Seed to Spoon."

The project kicks off a yearlong celebration of the county's food culture and traditions.

Each month from June 2013 through June 2014, Breadbasket will honor a variety of food celebrations in conjunction with monthly food celebrations happening nationwide, but with a focus on local aspects of Rock County food.

The Breadbasket exhibit's Recipe Corner—Rock County Historical Society's Pinterest Page and Breadbasket website—will contain recipes from months throughout the celebration and highlight recipes submitted within a given month.

Individuals, families and food businesses are invited to share their cultural and signature culinary creations.

Recipes that contain these food types are sought:

-- June—National fresh fruit and vegetable month/national dairy month

-- July—National ice cream and hot dog month

-- August—National sandwich month

-- September—Organic foods month

-- October—National pizza month

-- November—National peanut butter lover's month and national vegan month

-- December—National eggnog/Christmas cookie recipes

-- January—National soup month

-- February—National chocolate and national pie month

-- March—National noodle month

-- April—National cheese month

-- May—National barbecue month

-- June—National candy month

Complete recipes with ingredient quantities and a high-resolution image of the prepared recipe are required for distribution.

Send recipes to Michael Reuter, RCHS executive director, at museummike1978@gmail.com or to P.O. Box 8096, Janesville, WI 53547.

Last updated: 10:26 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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