SUMMER 2017 / VOL. 17 ISSUE 1
Food, Family Makes Great Stew for Bayfield Writer/Photographer

"Generations of men and women have stood on these beaches, listened to water rushing over these basalt rocks, and picked wild blueberries here well before I sailed into the Bayfield harbor. The families of those men and women are still here, tethered to a place where they can slip behind their ancestor's eyes and take in essentially the same view." 

From Life in a Northern Town
Life in a Northern Town: Cooking, Eating and Other Adventures Along Lake Superior(Wisconsin Historical Society Press, ISBN: 9780870208287, 250 pp., $29.95).
The book was released Aug. 12, 2017.

IAP - What is the most important kitchen tool? 
MD - Sharp knives (although mine are never sharp enough)

IAP - Irish cooking is more than corned beef. Do you have any favorite Irish foods such as salmon or lamb?
MD - We buy a lamb every year and a case of salmon from a friend who has connections in Alaska. Iím a big fan of beef stew in the winter. 

IAP - What do you love about photography? 
MD - I like the mindfulness and attention to detail that accompanies photography. Iím shooting with a Nikon D810 with either a 24-70mm zoom or a 60mm micro lens.

IAP - What are your favorite photography subjects? 
MD - Nature, dogs and food are my favorite subjects. I have a photography project called Words for Water ( that I enjoy, as well. Those photos are portraits of people holding a chalkboard with their words for water written on it. I showed my Words for Water project at Bayfieldísí Northland College. My photos are available to view on my website

IAP - Is there a relationship between the craft of cooking and craft of photography? 
MD? I havenít thought about it before but I think there is. Both endeavors require a plan/a vision for the meal or photo shoot but also a sense of allowing the unexpected to come into the plan. There canít be a strict adherence to rigidity because some of the creativity and intuition can be the best thing that happened to your meal or photo. 

IAP - Whatís your writing process? 
MD - I wrote my cookbook at my kitchen table and on my porch (once it warmed up). I write in the evenings after the kids go to bed and the house is finally quiet. Iíve since moved into a small office in our house. 

IAP - How did the Wisconsin Historical Society Press pick up your book? 
MD - Hereís an essay with the story of how the cookbook came to be:

IAP - With five kids, how do you accomplish all these creative endeavors? 
MD - Itís all a part of our daily lives. I had our kids when I was young (24) and in order to keep myself together, I knew I had to tend to my creative side. In the early years, that creativity manifested itself in cooking. As the kids grew, I started to branch out and, thankfully, the things I love happened to fit with having a bunch of kids and dogs. 
The kids all have cameras and go on Ďphoto safarisí together. We all need to eat dinner so I cook and they hang out in the kitchen with me. It was a lot harder when they were little but my youngest is 14 and itís much easier now. 

IAP - Why are you so concerned about water purity?
MD - When I stand on the shore of Lake Superior, I know that Iím a steward of that water ó that my children, grandchildren and all the ones coming after me deserve clean water. Iím not willing to accept Ďgood enoughí when it comes to water.
Itís a human right and Iím disgusted at what passes as just governance in this country. CAFOs are predicated on an unsustainable platform that says private profit trumps the public good and a communityís right to clean water to be safe in their homes and itís wrong. 
I donít like bullies and Lord knows, this industry is going to keep me busy for quite some time. 

IAP - How do your environmental causes sit with your neighbors?
MD - Itís been a struggle. But for the most part, Iíve enjoyed a tremendous amount of support. In the beginning, it was a little rough but that old adage about truth prevailing is true. Weíve joined together, drafted and passed ordinances and are working together to keep our community safe. 

IAP - Is it tough to be so out front on such issues in a farm community?
MD - Iíve never believed that anything worth doing is going to be easy. Five kids in nine years was a good training ground for this work because Iím familiar with the feeling of being wholeheartedly in love and committed to something but also learning to accept that the road isnít always going to say but when itís good ó my God, itíll take your breath away. 

I had a dream a few years ago where I was talking with Pope Francis when I getting ready to address a large group of people. He asked what I wanted them to know. I said I wanted them to know that they could do what Iíve done ó wake up one day and decide to get involved.
He said no, donít tell them that because thatís too limiting. Instead, he told me to tell people their only job is to build and maintain their signal fire and the divine is the wind that take their embers where they need to go ó to start new fires or add to fires already burning. 
So, I donít worry about being too 'out thereí because my job isnít to save the world, itís to serve my community and family. And I know how to do that. 

IAP - Is there a streak of Irish in you for fighting for what's right?
MD - I suppose there is. That old saying about Ďgetting your Irish upí has a kernel of truth in it. I think we carry the stories of generations past in our bones and itís those stories that fuel my fire to set things right where I can, feed and nurture the ones I love, and keep fighting for what I know to be true. 

IAP Could you share a recipe? 
MD - Try these. (this chicken is seriously good) and (one of our favorites around here)

IAP - Whatís next for Mary Dougherty? 
MD - The way things are going, Iím going be busy with CAFOs in Wisconsin for a while! Iím getting ready to take my Words for Water project around Lake Superior and we were recently in Ontario to begin to gather their words for water. 
In addition to readings and signings, Iím opening a cookery school in my home in the summer of 2018. In between all that business, I plan to eat lots of good food, drink lots of even better wine, walk on the beach with my pups, cook for the people I love and spend time around our table. Not too shabby, huh? 


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