This week marked the transition of the seasons here at Pepperfield. We have now moved from huge harvests into huge cleanup and the temperature has been cooling off too.
Monday, I shucked corn to be used for seed saving as well as winter food supply. Later on, I left to go pick up my mother and uncle and we went – with David and Ellis – to the Khulman’s place for a fantastic lunch. Then, I drove my mother and uncle up to Minneapolis so we would be close for their early morning flights. My mom and I spent the night just outside the city and ate dinner at Benihana, a great little ending to our short – but sweet – time together. I woke up early the next morning for breakfast and to see my mom off. After, I hopped in the car and made the trek back to Decorah. For parts of my journey the rain was so bad I had to pull over. It was almost as if water was being dumped out of the sky. When I returned to the farm I saw the damage of the storm that I had driven through. Although it was sunny, mud had accumulated in various spots. Many broken limbs and even whole trees had deposited themselves in the waterways. After some assessment, I transitioned to cleaning a few sets of beans before moving on to some garden clean up. Shortly after, I spent the rest of the early afternoon picking up debris. I finished my chores by cutting some squash for the baby goats – some of my finest regulars here at the farm – before helping prepare a dinner of leftovers from the bounty of the Palestinian dinner.
Wednesday started with some light prep for an upcoming event. I cleaned and sliced onions for a lamb dish. Then I took a quick break to run into town and meet with a local caterer. Ruth, with Trout River Catering, was lending me equipment for this party. Once we determined what I needed, I loaded up the car and made a few trips to haul all of the equipment to venue of the event. Afterwards, I ran a few small errands and did some shopping for the dinner. When I returned to the farm, I began pulling the old corn roots; the same job I had been given in the spring. This was what began my mental shift of the seasons. The fall clean up was here and it was time to get ready. I spent a couple of hours on the corn roots managing to pull out nearly 5 rows. The day after I continued pulling corn roots for the better part of the morning. Around noon I called it quits and then went to town to tie up some loose ends for Dennis before heading to work. The night was slow aside from a short rush around 7pm.
Friday, David and I spent the morning gathering hay for the goat barn. After a few trips to a neighboring farm we loaded up the bales into the loft for winter storage. I then moved to the kitchen preparing a lemon vinaigrette and washing and cutting nearly 50 pounds of potatoes for the Symra dinner. I took off to town early again to finish my last round of errands and shopping before heading into work. We were pleasantly busy with a steady flow making the night fly by. I got home before midnight and went straight to bed preparing for the day ahead. Saturday I was up at the crack of dawn and headed over to Dennis’ to begin prep for the Symra dinner. I started by getting my items organized and sliced scallions, red onions and cut salad greens. After that I began plating the Rakfisk, a fermented fish dish served with creme fraiche, pickled beets, green and red onion and parsley. With the help of a server we made quick work of this. I switched gears and began mixing and plating the first course, a sorrel salad with lemon vinaigrette. Our timing was impeccable and as the last salad was set, the guests began to roll in. I floated around helping where I could before staging cheese plates and receiving the lamb in troughs from a local meat processor. He rolled up in the nick of time and after the servers cleared the plates they moved right onto the third course of Särä – smoked lamb, potatoes and onions in birch troughs. The crowd was thrilled as these gorgeous trays hit the tables and as the pace slowed I began to get the next course ready. The cheese plates consisted of four cheeses – tilsit, esrom, beemster and a Wisconsin Bleu – and radishes. At this point we were nearly done and the servers and I shared a quick toast of the traditional drink, akavit. Dessert followed swiftly after the cheese, a small almond cookie called kransekage (or kransekake depending on your nationality). The guests started to leave after this and we rushed out with the final course of brandy and cigars. The afternoon slowly wound down and over the next few hours we cleaned, ate and shared a few drinks. I stayed behind to help do some extra cleanup with our front of the house captain and we shared a relaxed evening with Dennis recapping the day.
Sunday was much calmer. I slept in before running into town to pick up an ingredient for a recipe test of corn ice cream. I also returned the majority of the borrowed equipment to Ruth before heading back to the farm. My regulars have been ravenous so I cut more squash for the goats. Then, I spent the rest of my afternoon cleaning up and making the corn ice cream – a test for our upcoming Central American dinner – before taking a nap. Gloria, the chef of this dinner, came by and we did some planning of the event over a dinner of pizza and salad from Ellis. The evening was calm and cool and as the (almost) fall breeze crept through the valley. I retired to bed early and reflected on how fast the time has gone by.