Bonus book bit: Porchlight Products

Lots of words didn't fit into Madison Food. Here are some of our favorites that we didn't want to be missed.

Porchlight is a nonprofit that provides solutions to the problem of homelessness in the Dane County area by providing people with emergency shelter, longer-term housing, counseling and other services. Food plays an important and unique role in Porchlight's mission. The Porchlight Products program, launched in 2006, makes jams, pickles, sauces and baking mixes in a kitchen on North Brooks Street near the UW campus. Program participants, formerly homeless men and women with mental illnesses or disabilities, receive employment opportunities and training while working closely with volunteers. Most work there for about a year, though some of the long-timers have been on staff for three to four years.

More than four-fifths of the ingredients are sourced from local farms. Nearly all the produce used is farmed with sustainable practices (though not all is certified organic). The kitchen’s production schedule follows the seasons, beginning with rhubarb jam and strawberry preserves in spring. Gentle Breeze Honey, not sugar, provides the sweetener for all the kitchen’s fruit preserves, which are made mostly from Carandale Farm berries. Dilly beans dominate in summer. In autumn, maple syrup from Roth’s Sugar Bush goes into apple butter, and is simmered with Weatherby Co-op’s cranberries. Winter sees Mammoth Produce’s prodigious cabbages turn into kraut, and Palm Mushroom Cellar contributes its morels for pickling.

Porchlight Products rhubarb jam

Local restaurants and retailers were enthusiastic about Porchlight Products from the beginning. Longtime Madison restaurant consultants Nancy Christy and Andrea Craig provided startup advice. Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery has been the most supportive restaurant, serving multigrain pancakes and orzo salad from the Porchlight line, as well as selling its canned products at the cafe. Coopers Tavern serves one of the best Reuben sandwiches in town, topped with Porchlight sauerkraut. They go through so much that they get it delivered fresh and direct from the Brooks Street kitchen. Great Dane and other local bars have used dilly beans and pickled mushrooms for Bloody Mary garnish; Lakeside St. Coffee House puts curtido (a spicy relish) on its turkey sandwiches; and Short Stack Eatery buys their apple butter by the quart.

The future for Porchlight Products includes more marketing, more partnerships, and plans for a new kitchen facility. In summer 2014, when we interviewed kitchen manager Jeff Stengel for Madison Food, he shared that Porchlight has been working with Madison Urban Ministry’s Just Bakery initiative, a vocational and employment program for men and women returning to the community after incarceration. A new marketing manager has been leading the push to get Porchlight Products into more groceries and retailers; Willy St. Coop, Regent Market, Metcalfe’s and Hy-Vee have long provided shelf space. The products are also available direct to the consumer via Porchlight Products' website.


In a word: Frozen in time.

The specs: #00967   
6712 Frank Lloyd Wright Ave., Middleton 53562
Details at Yelp, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Official web site, Twitter

Latest Menchie's news and reviews at

JM and Nichole ate the froyo.
The bill was about $10, or $5/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Menchie's a B (see our grading rubric).


Menchie's is another in the "build your own cup of fro-yo" chains. There was a very nice deal on when we went late in the evening. The colorful plastic spoons are sturdy and ostensibly reusable, and in fact have lasted a while in our kitchen drawer, called upon for occasional scooping service.

Cookie and candy bar fragments, melty chocolate and peanut butter, and various and sundry fruits were available to top sherbet and yogurt of various flavors, which came in pairs fit to be swirled. Are we just rehashing our CherryBerry post? Probably. Other than the deal, there was little difference. Just go wherever is closer. 


Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. Updates here.


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