You don't have to leave the North Woods behind when you cook with Superior Planks. The wooden boards of red oak, sugar maple and cedar are harvested and processed on Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, a short ferry ride from Bayfield, Wis.
In as green a way as possible, the logs are cut and hauled by simple horsepower -- two Belgian shire horses -- before they are dried and finished for use on the outdoor grill or in the kitchen oven, where they impart a fragrant woodsy flavor into your food. The oak and maple are good for five or more uses; the softer cedar will last for about three meals.
The planks must be soaked for at least an hour in a liquid. The traditional method would be water, but cooks can experiment with other choices, such as diluted red wine, bourbon, Scotch whisky, cider, beer or fruit juices. Planks as a cooking technique likely originated in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, mainly for cooking fish, especially salmon, though many other foods work well with it, including other seafood, steak and vegetables. For recipes, go to superiorplanks.com.
$14 for three planks at Cooks of Crocus Hill locations: 877 Grand Av., St. Paul, 3925 W. 50th St., Edina, and 324 S. Main St., Stillwater. Available individually or in bulk at Kitchen Window, 3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., at $4 per plank, less in bulk. Or order online from Wisconsinmade.com.