I love asparagus, don’t you? For one thing it is the very first thing that comes up in the garden, so that always makes me feel good. While it is just a bit early for homegrown, you can find some good asparagus in the grocery stores right now. A pound will cost around $2.50 and is enough to serve two confirmed asparaholics.
The challenge for media companies, and what makes it interesting, is how to reach our readers where they happen to be in a format that’s useful to them.
We still refer to ourselves as a weekly newspaper group, but in reality we've become a complete media company that serves our readers 24hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
That's a big reason behind our recent launch of a new website in Walworth County to match employers with job seekers.
It complements our print publications that still arrive at the doorstep of your home twice a week. For the advertisers that make our newspapers possible, it is an important part of their marketing plans.
Between all of our papers -- Walworth County Sunday, the Wednesday Shopper/Advertiser, the Janesville Messenger and the Stateline News -- we deliver nearly 100,000 copies.
Of course, the news doesn't happen only twice a week.
Early in the week we learned that Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson and Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Tom Price would be in Janesville on Friday, March 3, to make the case for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.
We also knew the visit would draw protesters concerned that the new program would result in large numbers of people losing their health insurance.
However, our Sunday paper already had been printed by the time Pence and crew landed in Janesville.
In the old days, that would have meant any or our coverage wouldn't have been available to our readers until the following Wednesday or Sunday.
But, because were also are an online company, we were able to cover the event in a variety of ways.
We posted photos and updates to Facebook and Twitter early Friday as media was setting up to cover the event. We also had updates while Pence gave his remarks, as well as coverage of protesters outside the venue. By later that day, we had full coverage online on our website and shared through social media with stories and photos.
That coverage was then updated and ready for print publication on Wednesday.
That's just one of the many ways readers and advertisers find us these days, which pings us to our latest innovations.
Earlier in the year, we launched our online classified tool, where readers can place classified ads through our website at CommunityShoppers.com. The complete classifieds from our papers also are online to read as well.
Our latest initiative rolled out two weeks ago when we launched WalworthCountyCareers.com.
We've always been the go-to source in the area to place and read help wanted ads, but now they are available online and in print.
The response has been great so far, and the advantage for those looking for jobs is that ads are local, rather than having to search through the large job sites.
To help get the word out, we're partnering with the upcoming Walworth County Business EXPO and Job Fair by sponsoring keynote speaker and "Return on Integrity" author John G. Blumberg.
The expo will be held from 8 a.m. to noon April 25, 2017, in the forum at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa.
Blumberg will present from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., and his program inspires attendees to build a return on integrity both organizationally and personally, according to a news release. Blumberg will sign copies of his book after his program.
Here's more from the EXPO news release:
Coordinated by VISIT Lake Geneva, 70 exhibitors will their business or organization and connect with past, current and potential customers, businesses and employees.
Exhibitors represent a variety of industries including business services, manufacturing, lodging, restaurants, health care, attractions, financial services, digital media, marketing and education.
More than 50 percent of the exhibitors are participating in the job fair.
"While exhibitor space has been selling at a steady pace, there still are some spaces available," said Nancy Elder, VISIT Lake Geneva events director.
"We’re happy to be able to ping such a sought-after keynote speaker to this important event," Elder said. "John Blumberg has authored three books and is a speaker who has been featured in keynotes and workshops in 10 countries."
Supporting organizations include Delavan/Delavan Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, Discover Whitewater, East Troy Area Chamber of Commerce, Elkhorn Area Chamber of Commerce, Geneva Lake West Chamber of Commerce, VISIT Lake Geneva and the Walworth County Economic Development Alliance. Business EXPO sponsors for the event are Mercy Health and Daily Herald Business Ledger. Kikkoman is the job fair sponsor and Central Printing is the bag sponsor.
Admission is free to all job seekers who ping their resume or complete a standard job application form. Admission for others is $5 at the door and includes access to all booths and keynote speaker presentation.
For a complete list of exhibitors, go to www.VisitLakeGeneva.com/wcbe-job-fair/.
The long-awaited Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could have its first committee hearing as soon as Wednesday of this coming week.
What should be known by early next week is if the plan also includes elimination of federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
Old habits die hard and that’s how I think of food when the Lenten season arrives in March. When we were kids, being brought up Catholic, we never ate meat on Fridays during Lent. This wasn’t so difficult because coming from a large family, we didn’t eat meat all that often anyway. Meat was expensive, and large families needed to stretch their food budget. I never really felt this to be a penance because plenty of foods do not feature meat and are just as satisfying — even if you are a confirmed meat-eater.
These dishes include macaroni and cheese, chili without the meat, fried fish and egg dishes. Hearty vegetable soups also fit the bill. Ethnic specialties can pass on the meat with no problem. Italian dishes include spinach lasagna, cheese ravioli and spaghetti with tomato sauce. Chinese or Japanese stir-fries are easy and healthy if you emphasize the fresh vegetables without too much soy sauce. Mexican food is easy to make using refried beans or cheese and fresh tomatoes, onions and chilies.
After I really learned how to cook, it was easy to make a hearty vegetable stew or casserole without an ounce of meat. The list of meat-free dishes is really endless.
It is only that Americans eat so much meat that we miss it. Most of the world does not consume nearly as much and emphasizes a much healthier diet focusing on grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
So, Lent is a really good time to wean yourself off of the too-much-meat habit and enjoy a lot of in-store fish specials, too.
When I cook pasta, I reach for the Barilla brand and that’s where I found this recipe for orecchiette with mushrooms.
Barilla pasta is made with semolina flour in Italy and is the most popular dried pasta brand in that country, which should tell you something.
They have whole-wheat versions and gluten-free pasta. No matter what kind you pick, Barilla consistently wins in taste tests.
Barilla pasta holds up well to sauces, even heavy ones, but lighter sauces allow the pasta to be the star.
8 oz. orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 cups cauliflower florets
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Fresh basil for garnish
1/2 cup pecorino romano, grated
Cook pasta to al dente while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain but do not rinse.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet until light brown. Set aside. In the same skillet, heat olive oil and saute cauliflower, onions and garlic until cauliflower is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the drained pasta and a few tablespoons of pasta water. Add parsley, pine nuts and romano cheese; toss to combine. Garnish with fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
Real macaroni and cheese
1 lb. macaroni noodles
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
8 oz. real American cheese
8 oz. cheddar cheese
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the macaroni until just tender. in the meantime, prepare the sauce.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour and cook this roux while whisking for three to five minutes, but do not brown. Whisk in the milk a little at a time and continue to cook over medium heat.
Grate or chop up the American and cheddar cheeses into small pieces. Add these cheeses to the sauce mixture along with salt, white pepper and onion powder. Cook while stirring until cheese is melted and mixture is thickened.
Drain pasta, but do not rinse. Put the macaroni in a 9-by-13-inch cake pan or other appropriately sized baking dish. Pour the sauce over the macaroni and mix together.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake in a 350 F oven until bubbling hot — about 20 minutes. For a nice brown top, finish with a dash under the broiler.
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