A long time ago, when I was just a youngster, my parents rented a cottage to spend a week in July on a crystal clear lake up in Burnett County. My sister and I slipped into the back seat of Daddy’s two-tone gray Chevrolet early one Saturday morning with blankets, two pillows, and comic books to read along the way while driving north through towns we had never heard of before. Stopping along the way for a much needed brief rest and something to eat introduced us to a place in Bloomer offering delicious homemade pies. Whenever we headed in that direction during the years that followed, we’d always return to the same place on main street and include pie for dessert.

Through the many years that followed, Bloomer remained our designated stop until one year when the only parking place available happened to be a block away and in front of another small restaurant known as Fat Boys. Upon entering, we were greeted like locals by owner Jay Thompson and his wife, LaWanda.

Fat Boys offers excellent pizza, an array of sandwiches, salads, and soups, Friday fish fry specials and Saturday evening Prime Rib reigns like royalty.

Through the years, Bloomer has become another cherished charm of the Chippewa Valley and due to Thompson’s dedication to the place he proudly calls home, his restaurant also supports their schools, hospital, firefighters and so much more. If you’d like to add Fat Boy’s as a place to stop in Bloomer where you are treated like a friend, find a parking place near 1312 Main St. and say hello for me.

Here is a Fat Boy recipe Thompson is very proud of. Home cooks may want to vary the amounts based on the number of servings desired.

Fat Boy’s million dollar potato salad

32 ounces (1 quart) mayonnaise

3 ounces evaporated milk

4 ounces granulated sugar

Mustard, to taste

Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and pepper

12 hard-boiled eggs or as needed, peeled, chopped and/or sliced

4 ounces onions, chopped raw or cooked

1 ounce distilled vinegar

Peeled potatoes

Choose number of peeled potatoes of your choice; boil in water until done and drain. Cut or slice accordingly until adding the amount of dressing necessary to the number of potatoes you’ve chosen to use. Refrigerate.

Giving thought to what Bloomer is like in January found me paging through other Wisconsin cookbooks and I found a recipe for Col. Philip Brickson, Monona, a retired Wisconsin Air National Guard fighter pilot who continues to crave biscuits and gravy like there’s no tomorrow. Served every Friday at Susan and Larry Palubicki’s Log Cabin Café in Crandon, this recipe appears in Joanne Rraetz Stuttgen and Terese Allen’s “Café Wisconsin Cookbook,” published by UW Press in 2007 and should help “Brick’s” wife, Bette, warm up a cold January morning with his favorite breakfast. Although Susan used packaged biscuits, you might prefer homemade baking powder biscuits like those made at the Koffee Kup in Stoughton, where Brickson grew up.

Log Cabin’s biscuits and gravy

1 pound Jimmy Dean’s brand pork sausage

4 tablespoons butter

2 ½ tablespoons flour

1 ½-2 cups milk

Salt and pepper to taste

biscuits, split in half horizontally

Heat skillet over medium-high flame. Add pork sausage and break it up with a spoon or spatula as it browns and cooks. When all the pink is gone, reduce heat to low and drain off about ¾ of the fat from the pan. Transfer sausage and remaining fat in pan to a bowl; set aside. Return skillet to the heat and add butter. When it has melted, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring often, 3-4 minutes. Gradually whisk in most of the milk. Raise heat to medium and simmer gravy until it thickens. Stir in pork-fat mixture. Add milk to reach desired thickness; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over biscuits. Makes 4 servings.

Although biscuits seemed to be a southern-born food item, in recent years they’ve become extra special in Wisconsin as well. Stoughton’s Koffee Kup owners shared this recipe for the “Café Wisconsin Cookbook.” Also mentioned was that cooks can add a tablespoon of sugar to the flour mixture, turning the biscuits into the base for strawberry shortcake.

Koffee Kup’s baking powder biscuits

About 2 cups of flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons cold butter or shortening, cut into small pieces

Scant ¾ cup milk

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Sift flour and measure out 2 cups. Add baking powder and salt and sift again into a medium bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into flour until butter pieces are about the size of hulled sunflower seeds. Add milk and stir briefly, just until mixture comes together. Dough should be only a little moist, and it should not be smooth.

Turn dough onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it for no more than four or five turns. Use a slightly floured rolling pin or floured fingers to roll or pat the dough out to a circle that is about ¾-inch thick. Cut round biscuits with a 3-inch biscuit cutter, pushing it straight down into the dough and pulling it straight back out without twisting. (Alternatively, you can make triangular biscuits by cutting the dough into wedges with a sharp knife.) Gather and reroll scraps and cut remaining biscuits. Place 1- inch apart on ungreased baking pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve as soon as possible. Makes 6-8 biscuits.

Because I happen to have a sweet tooth, when this was spotted in the same “Café Wisconsin Cookbook,” thought was given to the reader who long ago requested a certain chocolate pie recipe she enjoyed years ago on Madison’s East Side. Although no one responded to her description with a recipe, I discovered this recipe from the now closed Little Babe’s Café in Mukwonago as being the pie for “chocolate lovers.”

Little Babe’s French silk pie

1 ½ ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs — see Note

1 baked pie crust (9-inch deep-dish or 10-inch) cooled

Break chocolate up into small pieces and place in small bowl. Microwave for 10-20 seconds at a time, stirring after each beating until melted. (Alternatively, you may melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water.) Set aside to let it cool. Place butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and whip with electric beaters, 2 minutes. Add melted chocolate and beat until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating 2 minutes and scraping sides of the bowl after each addition. After you add the last egg, beat it 3 minutes. Spread it into the cooled pie crust. Chill pie at least one hour before serving. Make 7-8 servings.

Note: Health officials do not recommend eating uncooked eggs because of the risk of salmonella. They recommend substituting pasteurized eggs.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at greenbush4@aol.com.

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