Autumn Snapshots

I know that I said life was busy in my last post, but now life is really busy. My stress at work is reaching levels that I haven't seen in quite a while, and it's been really distracting me. I'm the produce manager for the new Willy Street West (opening next month!) While I'm incredibly excited to be back in the produce trade, there is a lot of work to do and not a ton of time to do it.

Unfortunately, all this means that I'm too busy and distracted to blog in a comprehensible way..... so I'm opting for a disjointed post to catch you up on my food life.

The garden is (surprisingly) still going strong. It's been unseasonably warm and we have yet to have our first real hard frost. The picture above is the harvest I brought home from Main Street on Saturday. Carrots, kale, one little eggplant, broccoli, and summer squash. There is also some, concord grapes to pick, pole beans, hot peppers, and tomatillos. Not bad for October 10! Frost will come soon, I'm sure, and most of these things will come to a screeching halt.

I took my tomato plants out a few weeks ago, not because they had been frosted, but mostly because I wanted them to be over. I've put away more sauce than I can eat, and I was ready to say goodbye to the tomato season this year. They were mostly done anyway. I saved the seeds from the nicest looking fruits, so I will have the candystripes and oxheart again next year.

I picked off the green tomatoes as I pulled my plants up, kept some for ripening, and fried up a few for a putluck birthday party. Sliced green tomatoes, dipped in flour and then egg, and then seasoned cornmeal, and then fried in local sunflower oil. Yum.

As my final act as deli manager for Willy Street East I headed up a visit to a turkey farm that will be sending turkeys to The Co-op this Thanksgiving. These birds are being raised on pasture by an Amish farmer in Cashton, amidst some of the most beautiful farm country in Wisconsin. I was disappointed in the pictures I took - the birds were excited to see us and they all moved to the edge of their turkey tractor, making it look like they were too crowded. I assure you, they weren't. They seemed happy and healthy.

It was a beautiful day, and super fun to tour an Amish farm..... really nice people.

Here you can see the turkey tractor a little better. The farmer and his son move the structure every day, giving the birds new pasture to eat.

The apple season is early this year, so I headed out to Door Creek Orchard in late September to get my yearly haul. These are all windfall apples - cheaper because they have a bruise where they hit the ground, but a great deal for my purposes. I cooked them down and canned 7 quarts of apple sauce and 10 pints of apple butter. Simple, just apples and cinnamon cooked over low heat. The only difference between the sauce and butter was length of time cooked.

I used this handy food mill for both the apple butter and apple sauce. It worked like a charm, and I wondered why on earth I haven't used one of these things before this year.

Since it's almost deer season we figured it was time to use up the last of the venison that Stanley and his family got last year. We were down to a few big bags of scrap in the freezer, and sausage seemed to be the best idea to use it up.

Since venison is such a lean meat, you have to add fat to make sausage. In this case, fat back from Willow Creek Farm. I've never dealt with fat back before - it's a big strip of fat off the back of a pig. Crazy.

20% fat, 80% lean, mixed with seasonings. We made two varieties - one with a breakfast sausage spice blend from Penzeys. The other was an Italian sausage made with fennel, red chili flakes, sage, garlic, and salt.

It's been an incredibly busy autumn, but also one of the most beautiful seasons I can remember. Crystal clear days, not too cold, not too warm. Just perfect.

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