16649 96th Avenue Chippewa Falls, WI 54729

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15 year old starts his own Maple Syrup company

I can’t wait to tell you all about Will Wanish and his entrepreneurial spirit!  Will’s mom, Heather Rothbauer-Wanish, and I both belong to Polka Dot Powerhouse (Please excuse the shameless plug). Polka Dot Powerhouse is a connection company for women.  At one of our meetings Heather was sharing with the group her teenage son was starting his own company. Will wanted to start a Sugar Bush, tap maple trees and make maple syrup.  Including local products in my breakfast dishes helps me to support other area small businesses.  I just had to check this out!

Will standing next to the metal sign he made for his new company

Will standing next to the metal sign he made for his new company

First I let Heather know I would be interested in purchasing 4 quarts of the maple syrup.  Purchasing by the quart insures the syrup stays as fresh as possible until we open the next bottle.  I asked if I could come out & and take a few photos of the operation.  So, one Friday afternoon I had a couple of free hours (thanks to the Covid-19 social distancing) and headed out to Wanish Sugar Bush.  It turns out they’re located just 20 minutes from Inn on Lake Wissota, we can’t get much more local than that!

How Will got started

As I pulled into the driveway the first thing I saw was the brand new shed with a very cool metal sign hanging on the side of it welcoming me to Wanish Sugar Bush.  What the heck?  This kid has been in business for just a couple of months and he already has a new pole shed and this cool sign?!!  I couldn’t wait to meet him and find out more.  Not long after I pulled in the driveway Heather and Will came out of the house to greet me.  I have to admit, when Heather was talking about her teenage son starting his own business, I was expecting to meet a 17 or 18 year old.  This young man is just 15 years old.

Initially Will was shy. After some prodding from his folks, he warmed up and was excited to share his new business venture with me.  I asked how he became interested in starting his own sugar bush. He said he has been helping his uncle tap 200-300 trees since he was 12 years old. Most 15 year old kids would be happy to work for their uncle and earn a few bucks on the side.  It turns out Will loves to work and has a great understanding of what it takes to run a small business like a sugar bush.  Only, he didn’t start out with 300 taps. Will wanted to make as much syrup as possible.  This meant a pole shed and expensive equipment.  No wood-fired boiler for Will. He wanted a reverse osmosis system to eliminate a good portion of the water content from the sap before they boil it down.  This shortens the amount of time required to boil down the sap into syrup.

Support from Family and Friends

So how does a 15 year old finance such an operation?  With a business loan of course. I can’t imagine there are many 15 year old’s who would qualify for a business loan. Will isn’t most kids and this kid has a plan. More importantly, support from his parents.  They were able to secure a small business loan from a local non-profit who offers low-interest loans to area businesses.  This meant Will had to have a business plan put together & sit in front of that board explaining his vision, how he would generate income and how his company would benefit the Chippewa Valley.

With the help of nearby family and friends they have run over 19,000 ft of line to tap maple trees and collect syrup.  So far this season, they have processed over 15,000 gallons of sap.  They won’t collect all of that syrup themselves.  Will estimates purchasing at least 1,000 gallons from several different suppliers.  Apparently there are folks who have a hobby of collecting sap but have no interest in converting the sap to syrup.    Negotiating skills are required for this. The purchaser and the supplier need to agree on the sugar content and the quality of the sap which will determine the price paid to the supplier.   Having this extra sap available to them will be a big help this first year so they can make enough syrup to send to market.  I asked Will how much sap he could convert in one day.  He said the day prior they had boiled down 2400 gallons and were hoping to do at least 1,000 gallons the day I was there.

A bottle of Wanish Sugar Bush Maple Syrup on the table next to an Inn on Lake Wissota coffee cup and a breakfast plate of pancakes and bacon

Sometimes a traditional breakfast is the best, Pancakes and syrup with some bacon!

Will and his dad, Todd, Wanish

Will and his dad, Todd, Wanish

Will’s Ingenuity

Will took a few minutes to show me a pump motor he created so they could pump the sap through even more lines.  The pump they had purchased was quite expensive, over $4,000.00.  So, to save money he made two more pumps that streamline their operation by saving countless hours of hauling sap from the trees to the tank.  I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am by this young man. It will be fun to follow up with him in 5 years to see what else he has accomplished.  Inn on Lake Wissota is proud to offer his maple syrup.

We hope you’ll come join us some day to sample their syrup and of course our fantastic view of Lake Wissota.  Enjoy the comfort of the Inn no matter the time of year. Delight in the gourmet breakfasts we serve each morning.  Until then, stay healthy and safe!  We hope to greet you soon as one of our guests.

 

The Best Cross Country Skiing Trails in the Chippewa Valley

Couple cross country skiing in the woods. canstockphoto55798447

There are plenty of winter visitors to the Chippewa Valley who put Cross country skiing and snowshoeing at the top of the list for reasons to spend time in the area. What better way to experience the natural beauty of the region than to strap on a pair of skis or snowshoes and create your own adventure.  Although the terrain can be somewhat of a challenge to some, there are plenty of parks and recreation areas that offer groomed and ungroomed trails for your level of expertise and comfort.

Be sure to include Inn on Lake Wissota as part of your trip when passing through the Chippewa Valley.  We are a true Bed & Breakfast with 5 guest rooms.  With plenty of amenities to ensure your stay with us is unique.  This winter has brought plenty of snow and we are blessed with a winter wonderland without the bitter cold of 2019!  Find your own adventure at our Wisconsin Bed & Breakfast and book your room today!

5 Great Cross-Country Ski Trails in the Chippewa Valley

Folks from Wisconsin and surrounding states love to spend time outdoors.  Since we have long winters here in the upper Northwest portion of Wisconsin, we love to spend time with the elements, even when it’s cold.  Strapping on a pair of skis and hitting the trails is an invigorating experience, one that gets folks hooked on immersing themselves in all the beauty and magic mother nature has to provide this time of year.  Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Couple skiing near pine treesLowes Creek County Park

Just minutes south of Eau Claire, experience 250 acres of cross-country ski and snowshoeing bliss. The two-way trail system separates skiers from snowshoers, and has many loops and shortcuts giving you a wide selection of route variety.

Irvine Park

Just 5 miles from Inn on Lake Wissota, Irvine Park offer trails that are easy to navigate. Woods trails above the zoo area double as ski trails. Loop back down and visit the zoo afterwards. Trails also go past Glen Loch Lake.

Tower Ridge 

Tower Ridge is the largest cross-country ski trail complex in both Eau Claire County and in west central Wisconsin. It is located on Eau Claire County forestland in the town of Seymour off CTH L. It has approximately 12 miles of trail with terrain of varying degrees of difficulty offering something for all levels of skiers. The ski trails include wooded, rolling terrain, and are groomed and tracked on the highest priority basis of the four ski trails offered by the county. The recreation area includes a Chalet with flush toilets, additional pit toilets, approximately 3 km of lighted trails and a snowshoe trail adjacent to but separate from the lighted ski trails. Tower Ridge requires a winter vehicle entrance pass.

Lake Wissota State Park

Lake Wissota State Park is located just 2 miles east of Inn on Lake Wissota.  Several trail options go through woods, meadows, lowlands, marshes, and Lake Wissota’s shoreline. Scenic lake trail is also a highlight. Daily and annual state park vehicle admission passes vary in price. Located on the northeast section of Lake Wissota.

Beaver Creek Reserve

A 30 minute drive in your car and you can spend an entire afternoon in the quiet beauty of the woods. Beaver Creek Reserve has a number of wooded, groomed trails for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Rental equipment is available there, as well.

Relax, Renew & Refresh at our cozy B&B!

Inn on Lake Wissota Potbelly coffee mug sitting on the breakfast table

After you’ve filled your day with outdoor winter adventures, you’ll want a beautiful, cozy place to sit back and relax.  Inn on Lake Wissota is waiting for your arrival!  Innkeepers Beth & Roger have years of experience greeting guests and helping them to relax, easing away the cares of the day.  The aroma of fresh baked cookies wafts through the air upon your arrival.  In the morning you will wake to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and enjoy a bountiful gourmet breakfast.  Book your next winter getaway at Inn on Lake Wissota today.  We hope to greet you soon.

 

 

The Best Fresh Green Bean Recipe

Growing up my mom made the same turkey dinner for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we all loved it.  We all looked forward to the special meal she prepared, which took her most of the day.  A large turkey that fed the six of us, and enough for leftovers throughout the week.  There were a variety of side dishes to compliment, plenty of creamy mashed potatoes with gravy, cloverleaf biscuits, cranberry bread, cranberry sauce, and, my favorite, green bean casserole with the crispy fried onions on top.  My mouth is watering just reminiscing about it.

Fresh Green Beans

When I became an adult and married, my husband’s family did not share the same traditions I grew up with and green bean casserole was not always a staple at the holiday dinner.  While I have missed this tasty holiday treat over the years, this has actually worked to my benefit in the long run.  Let’s just say I am counting my calories more now than I did back when I was younger.  I am looking for ways to enjoy the foods that are good for me without all the added calories and fat.  Which leads me to the best fresh green beans I’ve ever tasted.

Years ago when my kids were in their late teens we took my husband out for a Father’s Day dinner to an Italian restaurant that served their food family style.  This restaurant happened to be over an hour’s drive away, so it was a great family adventure.  We took our time reviewing the menu then all collaborated and ordered a few main dishes we could share along with some side dishes. I had a hankering for some of the green beans listed on the  menu and wanted to try them but wasn’t sure who else would be willing.  I knew my husband would’t be game to try them since he eats very few vegetables, and when he does they certainly are not cooked.  My kids are particular about their vegetables, too, but surprised me by saying they would try the beans.

To be honest, I can’t recall the main dishes we ordered that night, but the kids and I all remember those fresh green beans, so delicious and crisp!  They arrived at the table on a small serving plate, piled high and as green as could be.  One bite and I could tell there was fresh lemon juice, some butter and salt. But it seemed as if there was something else I couldn’t quite figure out.  We all managed to finish the beans that night.  No need for a box to take home leftover beans.

Fresh lemons are key to this recipe

Over the next several months I tried duplicating that recipe myself.  I knew for sure it had the fresh lemon, butter and salt, but what else?  I tried adding a little vinegar, I recalled as a young child some of the adults in my life would drizzle vinegar over their beans.  Nope, that wasn’t it.  How about a touch of hot sauce?  No, that wasn’t it, either.  Well, we finally concluded was it was possible we could never match the wonderful experience we had that evening, dinner as a family at a new restaurant, trying different foods.  It was determined the recipe we would call Bucca beans from here on out was very simple, fresh green beans, butter, fresh lemon and kosher salt.  If there is another ingredient, we never did figure it out, but enjoy this recipe we developed ourselves.

Bucca Beans Recipe

1 lb fresh green beans

1 fresh lemon

2 Tbs butter

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup water

Wash the beans and snip the ends off.  I cut in half so they fit in my pot.  Place beans in pot, add enough cold water to the pot to cover the beans, add 1/2 tsp kosher salt.  Cover and let sit off to the side for an hour or so.

Drain the beans add 1/2 cup water to the pot.  Cook over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until the beans are to the firmness you prefer.  We like our beans to be crisp.  The point is to steam the beans, you will want to stir them around every few minutes so the beans at the bottom are not boiled and get too soft.  You could always use a steamer if you have one.

Drain the water from the beans, keeping the beans in the pot.  Add the 2 Tbs of butter tossing to coat the beans while the butter is melting.  Squeeze the lemon juice onto the beans, tossing more to coat.  We’ve tried using the lemon juice in a bottle with this recipe, fresh lemon is definitely the way to go.

Serve and enjoy.

While I’ve never served beans for breakfast at Inn on Lake Wissota, this is a recipe my family has enjoyed for many years now.  I hope yours will, too.

 

A Low-Key New Year’s Eve at a Bed & Breakfast

A time to slow down the pace of life.

The holidays are wonderful and exciting, an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, which can be stressful and challenging.  While I cherish these times with my family and wouldn’t trade them for the world, by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around I am ready to step back from all of the hullabaloo the holiday season has provided.  I’ve never been one to enjoy an evening with 100 or more people counting down the minutes until the new year arrives.    Up here in the north woods it can also be brutally cold on December 31st, so getting all gussied up and heading out for the evening does not appeal to me either.  I prefer a quiet evening with my hubby, a few friends and some good food.

Do you prefer a quiet New Year’s Eve?

So what kinds of opportunities are there for folks like me to have a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve and aren’t really interested in hosting a get together for friends and family?   I’d like to suggest a stay at a Bed & Breakfast. This gives you the opportunity to create the kind of experience you are looking for without all of the hassle.  Staying at a B&B ensures a smaller crowd since, in Wisconsin anyway, there are eight or fewer guest rooms at the B&B.  Most likely there will be no more than 16 guests at the celebration.

Are you yearning for a quiet evening for two, just you and your honey?  No problem, if the innkeepers are planning some sort of gala to ring in the new year it doesn’t mean you are required to participate.  For those heading out for dinner, some advanced planning is suggested.  Reservations are pretty much a requirement for New Year’s Eve.  If you need help with figuring out where to go, a call to your innkeeper can provide some insights.

Celebrate at the Inn

At Inn on Lake Wissota we offer a complimentary Champagne reception for guests from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.  This allows them time to check in and get settled then enjoy time in the Atrium sampling some goodies, enjoying some champagne, and getting to know other guests and the innkeepers.  Guests are free to spend as much time with us as they like, either the entire 2 or more hours, or just a few minutes, then head out for a dinner for two.  Depending on the group of guests we have and what they like to do, we are happy to linger in the Atrium and play some charades or other games.  The point is to relax and have fun.  We allow our guests to set the pace.

Some like it lively

Some of those joining us in Chippewa Falls are hoping for a more lively event.  The Chippewa Valley offers plenty of choices to ring in the New Year.  For those who like to put on their dancing shoes the Heyde Center for the Arts is hosting Prelude to an Eve: Troppo Big Band Jazz Orchestra.  The Snout Saloon will have live music from Dead Ringers and music Bingo, and  Eau Claire will be turning downtown into the ultimate New Year’s Eve Celebration during the third annual Light Up Eau Claire. This event brings excitement, energy, music and lights to the streets of downtown Eau Claire.

New Year’s Eve Champagne Hors d’Oeuvres reception at Inn on Lake Wissota

As for me, you will find me at the Inn, looking forward to getting to know my guests and making new friends just in time for the new year.  As always, I will prepare a fabulous gourmet breakfast on New Year’s Day so there’s no need for you to worry about heading out into the cold to nourish yourself in the morning.

Of course, the beauty of B&B’s is they are unique, no two of them the same.  So be sure to find out what the innkeepers plan to do for their New Year’s Celebration before making your reservation so you are confident you will get the experience you are hoping to get.

We hope to greet you soon as one of our guests, if not this year then in the next.

It’s Official – Wisconsin has the best Cheese!

 
 
 
Well, I am proud to say a Wisconsin Cheese has won the World Championship Cheese Contest held in Madison, WI earlier this month.  We offer up hearty Congratulations to Emmi Roth USA for it’s winning entry of  Roth® Grand Cru® Surchoix cheese.   Even though the contest is held in Wisconsin, America’s Dairyland, the judges are a well rounded panel of cheese experts from around the world.  In fact, the last time any cheese from the U.S. won the Grand Prize was in 1988.  I don’t claim to be a cheese expert or connoisseur, but, I do appreciate a variety of cheeses.  In fact, I would go so far to say that many of us Wisconsinites have a tendency to complain when we travel to other states and find the selection of cheeses to be lacking.  I believe this is a reflection of how fortunate we are to live in a place where excellent cheese makers abound. Continue reading

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