Thanksgiving and Culture Wars

Mostly I'm posting today to give you this link to an article that came out today in the Washington Post.

I'm most definitely one of those "liberal elitists" refered to in the article, but I like to think that I'm a little more down to earth than some (I was an anthropology major after all!). There are people who just don't identify with all my fuzzy feelings about local and organic food. For these folks, the economic argument is a good one: Local food means more of our dollars stay in our local economy, giving jobs to our friends and neighbors.... I also think that it's useful to emphasize just how all-American meat and potatoes local cuisine can be. It doesn't have to be hoity-toity.

I also wanted to share this picture from Thanksgiving. Since I've been working to much recently, and I had to work on the holiday itself, instead of being intimately involved in cooking this year I brought a simple hour devours platter. Ida Red apples from Ela Orchard, Lucious pears from Future Fruit, Potter's crackers, aged Marieke Gouda, Hook's Blue Paradise, French Delice de Bourgogne (not local, I know, but oh my god this cheese is good!), Carr Valley apple smoked cheddar, and a pepper salame from Columbus (again, not local, but I needed a good salami to balance the cheese and fruit). I garnished it all with Tat-Soi from Tipi Produce, which is a beautiful green that got as many comments as the cheese, crackers, and fruit.

After enjoying this spread, we sat down to a beautiful Thanksgiving meal. Dave got two small turkeys from Jordendal Farm and smoked them to perfection. Mom made stuffing, garden beets, great Grandma's creamed onions, a garden salad (yes, she's still picking lettuce and spinach from the garden!) a pecan pie, and a pumpkin pie (from a real pumpkin); Ben and Erica brought mashed potatoes, a really yummy squash dish, a wonderful raw cranberry sauce, and a peach crisp.

It felt weird to be so disconnected from the preparation of the meal, but it was amazing none the less. It had been a while since I'd had a chance to hang out with the family... it felt good.

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I'm a Lucky Girl

I've been working like a dog lately. My new job as produce manager at the new Willy Street Co-op in Middleton has kicked into full gear. We opened last Monday, and it's been 2 straight weeks of extra long days that start at 4:30am... yesterday was my first day off in two weeks and I found that I could do nothing but lay on the couch watching episodes of Iron Chef. Exhaustion like this for me usually translates to lots of dinners out and not much energy to cook.

Except now I've got my sweetie. Stanley has been the best of all boyfriends through all of this, and has created more than a few amazing home cooked meals for his tired lady. A hearty Italian style chicken breaded and then coated with marinara and baked with pasta and cheese; this "I love you" meatloaf with mashed potatoes and cabbage slaw; venison sausage, bacon, and tomatillo crockpot chili..... I am a lucky girl indeed.

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Putting the Gardens to Bed

We've come full circle. Last weekend, Mom, Dave, Meg, and I cleaned up what was left at the Main Street garden. Everything that can be killed by frost has been killed and the spinach has been cut. All that remains is a nice row of carrots and beets.

Given the Republican victory in the Wisconsin governor's race (boo!!), it's looking like the high speed rail from Madison to Milwaukee is not going to be built after all. I'm a big supporter of rail, but the proposed route was right through the rail corridor where this garden sits, so part of me is happy to see it not happen. The other part of me is very very sad to see our new governor give away the federal money that was granted to our state for rail.... but that's another story.

Mom taking down the bean trellis.

I planted this bed in garlic for next season. It's mulched in with autumn leaves. They should protect the garlic cloves over the winter and eventually compost back into the soil. Leaves are a great source of fertilizer.... I've used a lot of them this fall as you will see....

but first, a chicken break! The girls are all molting and looking scruffy as heck. The eggs have pretty much stopped for now, hopefully they'll be done soon and be back to their beautiful selves.

Home sweet home. Stanley raked all the leaves from the yard into the garden beds (thanks sweetie!). I know most people say you should run the lawn mower over the leaves first, but I'm experimenting to see what happens if we don't. Hopefully they'll break down over the winter and I can turn them back into the soil in the spring.

My plan next year is to extend these two little beds so that my little herb garden goes all the way to the sidewalk.

My four newly planted raspberry canes are the back of this picture, against the fence. The plan for next spring is to dig up some ground by the driveway to put in a strawberry bed... a big one!

This sunny strip between the sidewalk and the street will be a raised bed veggie garden next year. It's right in front of the house, but it's technically city property. Lots of people in Madison use this area for growing things..... there is a small chance that the city will decide to come dig it up, but I'm not too worried. That usually only happens when the road gets redone, and ours is relatively new. It is a nice sunny spot, and should make a beautiful garden!

It's hard to see in this picture, but the far end of the side yard is mulched in with leaves. I have some herbs already planted in here, and I plan to use the rest of it it for colorful flowers and flowering herbs.... things I'm not too worried about getting trampled by certain people playing baseball, football, or other such games.

Next spring will be the first one I spend at my new house, I can't wait to dig up some new ground! But now it's time to buckle down for winter....

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