Week 31: The Penultimate week at Pepperfield

If you missed out on our recent update about some of our future developments, we encourage you to check it out here.  As I began to realize that this was my penultimate week at the farm, the whole experience I shared with the people and nature seems almost surreal.

Monday started with an early trip to the hospital garden.  I worked on cleaning up some of the beds while David harvested kale.  When we returned we took a quick break for lunch and then I worked on making some squash fettuccine.  It was nearly three pounds of pasta and took me the rest of the evening.  David and I worked on leftovers for dinner before calling it a night.  The next day I made a tomato sauce.  As it simmered away on the wood stove, I worked down in the garden pulling gourd vines off the fence.  Afterwards, I transitioned to the main squash patch and worked on pulling vines off the fences.  Then I switched to cutting down the old Jerusalem artichokes.  I took a quick intermission for lunch and then headed to town for my shift at work.  Things were dismally slow.

 

Wednesday morning I continued down in the squash patch.  I finished the last of the fence cleaning and then moved onto raking up the debris and weeds leftover from the growing season.  This ate up the rest of my morning.  I took a quick break for lunch before getting ready for town and my final shift at the job.  Unfortunately it wasn’t very memorable as we closed nearly an hour early after only serving 15 tables in six hours.  The next day I finished the clean up in the squash patch.  Then David and I went to the hospital so I could have a meeting with the nutrition director about an upcoming knife skills class.  It went pretty swiftly so I went out to the garden to help David tidy up a few things before we left to go back to the farm.  David and I finished the last round of leftovers and finished our day with a session in the sauna.

Friday was pretty laid-back.  I went to town midday to bring my car to the shop.  Meanwhile, I presented a 45 minute lecture and demonstration for the Winneshiek Medical Center kitchen team about knife skills.  Afterwards, I made use of my time at the hospital to work on cleaning up a few more beds.  I got back to the farm sometime in the early evening and decided to go to town to get some food.  I made a quick stop at the Armory and grabbed some tacos before heading back for an early night of sleep.  The next day I started my morning by stacking the final load of wood in to the wood shed.  Shortly after, I ran over to the neighbors with David to pick up some chairs they had borrowed.  David went to town for the evening and I stayed behind at the farm.  I did some work on a few projects before calling it another early night.

Sunday morning started late.  Mid-morning I made lamb braise and let it simmer away on the wood stove.  I spent time reading and relaxing while it bubbled.  Later in the afternoon David and I went to concert feature macabre music.  After we went to Carina’s to catch up and have a glass of wine.  As our conversations streched into the evening, we were invited to stay for dinner.  Carina put together a great meal of roasted chicken, sweet and sour cabbage and roasted vegetables.  This meal and time with both Carina and Micah was refreshing and fun.  It was a great ending for the week.

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Week 30: My Thoughts About Fall and More

Some people love fall; I do not.  The changes of the seasons might bring cheer to some but for me it’s rather undesirable.

leaves in the fall

 

Monday I put on my lumberjack gear to continue cutting wood.  As I worked away stacking and hauling wood for next year I began to reflect.  Observing my surroundings, I found it hard to see the beauty in fall, the changing leaves or bare trees.  Everything around me was dead or getting ready for winter.  No more lush trees, no more bountiful gardens, just dead plants and leaves everywhere.  Maybe I’m just the odd one out, missing the beauty of the nature around me.  I  believe I’m just not fascinated by the transition of nature into dormancy.  We worked until lunch on firewood and then took a break.  Afterwards, we continued working for a few hours.  When we finished, David and I got changed and went out to see the final performance of The Clean House, presented by the Commonweal in Lanesboro.

The next day David and I picked up where we had left off.  As we hacked away at the wood pile my mind began to wander.  Not only has this fall season been nature’s physical transition for the next season, it also has been a great time of reflection for me.  Even more so than spring and summer, I have been able to spend time reflecting on thoughts and ideas as I do – almost – mundane tasks around Pepperfield.  I understand they need to get done as part of the fall operations of the farm, but I came here to learn about food growth and processing, not Firewood Acquisition 101.  (I guess the sentiment I’m trying to express is disappointment or frustration.)  Not only has fall been the time for clean-up and changes, it also has acted as my jarring snap back to the reality of my life and the choices I make.  Unlike the plants, I’m just getting started.  Woodcutting took up most of our morning and afternoon.  After a quick lunch break, I left the house for a busy night of work.

making pasta in fall

Wednesday – that’s right, you guessed it – brought more woodcutting.  As I stacked, I began to think back to the beginning of my journey.  I have made so much personal growth and have this urge to continue.  Pepperfield has acted as a great catalyst for these changes.  Meanwhile it has provided an equally fantastic conduit for this growth.  But now, as my goals have shifted, so have my needs.  At the end of the day, I don’t mind cutting firewood or working on garden clean-up.  But I’m struggling to meet my goals and objectives as I sacrifice my time and energy here.  I am excited and anxious to get a jump on some of my upcoming projects.  Unfortunately, limited internet and cell service, busy days and early nights, among other things, make this nearly impossible at the farm.

Thursday was the last day of woodcutting.  Thankfully David and I had developed a decent rhythm so we only spent our morning on this project.  Things slowed down for the day and I did some computer work until I left for town.  The night at work was insane.  The next day I started my morning with clean-up around the house.  I threw a pot of goat stew on the stove to reduce while I puttered around.  Meanwhile, I finished the house chores by sweeping the floors and cleaning the stove top.  I left for work a few hours later for another busy night in town.

Saturday started to look a little more exciting.  After breakfast, I set my whetstone to soak for sharpening.  Then, I made a lemon poppy seed cake to use up some extra products we had around the house.  As it cooked and filled the house with a great lemon aroma, I worked on sharpening the kitchen knives.  I had forgotten how relaxing it was to just sharpen knives.  I made my transition to work mode as the afternoon progressed.  Then, I left for town to work with Ruth and Trout River Catering.  Ruth was catering a Luther College reunion and wanted me to help plate.  After a solid shift, I grabbed a beer and then called it a night.

Sunday I slept in until 10.  Afterwards, I got up and started my day.  David didn’t have anything pressing so I got to spend my morning working on some personal projects.  It was during this time that I really began to think about plans for Pans & Perspective.  I’m sure you’ve noticed (don’t think I haven’t) that the frequency of posts has begun to decline.  I don’t like to make excuses but I feel over-committed at this point.  Between my work here and in town, I have found increasing less time to work on creating quality content.  This is not permanent.  My time at Pepperfield is nearly complete; I’ll be bringing you an explosion of new content once I get settled back in Florida.

Thank you all for following my journey this year.  Personally, I am thrilled to be able to document my time and share a glimpse of it with all of you!  Don’t forget, next Wednesday will be our October AMA session; you can learn more about it here.

Week 29: Fall Clean-Up and Firewood

his last week has been full of outside work.  We have been stockpiling firewood in preparation for winter.

stacked firewood

The week started slow with some outside clean-up.  I spent my Monday working in the back pulling out dead plants and taking down fences.  I started by pulling out melons and eggplants.  Then I turned my attention to sunflowers and tobacco plants, both taller than me.  I tidied up the rest of the area by pulling the calendulas and weeds and then headed inside for dinner.  The next day I worked in the hoop house while David got organized for the day.  I cut two, five gallon buckets of squash for the baby goats before hopping the truck with David.  We went down the drive way and worked on cutting downed trees for firewood. After a few solid hours of work, I took off to town for an evening at the job.  Things we’re dismally slow.

Wednesday brought more wood cutting.  Much like yesterday, David and I worked until lunch gathering downed trees.  After lunch we headed over to Highlandville to help a friend of David’s dig potatoes.  She was thrilled and cooked us dinner.  We spent a great evening with her catching up and hearing about her life.  The following day I worked on getting some meals ready for the rest of the week.  I prepared a goat and vegetable soup and set it on the stove to simmer away.  Meanwhile I worked on a tomato sauce and some miso and cabbage.  I pulled my stuff off the stove for a little and went with David to pick up some chicken feed at a neighbors farm.  After that, I got myself ready for the evening and went to town for a steady night of service.

calamondins ripening as we cut firewood

Friday I started my morning with some more cooking by preparing a vegetable soup with the last of the peppers.  While that cooked, I worked on cleaning up the kitchen and around the house.  David and I ate an early lunch and then moved outside to work on splitting some of the wood we had gathered.  I took off a few hours later for a very busy night.  The day after I started my morning with some clean-up in the main garden.  I pulled the last of the amaranth and then moved onto cutting down the Jerusalem artichoke.  I continued to work in the garden finishing a few more projects before heading to a busy night of work.

David and I dedicated Sunday exclusively to firewood.  I worked on stacking and hauling wood to various areas while David ran the splitter.  We spent nearly our whole morning and afternoon cracking wood before heading to a neighbors farm to drop off our baby goats.  Afterward, we got a quick tour of his property and then headed back to our farm to finish some more wood.  Later, we enjoyed a warm fire as the evening dissolved.

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Week 28: And Just Like That, Snow…

We are now experiencing true autumn weather.  Our week ended with a small flurry of snow giving a beautiful appearance to the grounds of Pepperfield.

David and I began our Monday as usual.  After a quick visit to the hospital garden we spent some time in town running some errands.  Afterwards, we returned to the farm and worked on cleaning the last of the green amaranth.  Then I worked on getting a few items ready for dinner.  Korbin dropped in for the evening and we spent time enjoying good food and each others company as we caught up.  She brought a great gift of black trumpet mushrooms making the meal even more special.  The next day I started my morning by organizing squash.  We have an excessive amount, so I spent my time moving them to their final winter resting spots.  David and I spent the rest of the morning picking volunteer squash from around the farm.  Once we got done with that, we moved onto harvesting celeriac for winter storage.  I worked on cutting off the tops, while David cleaned up the roots.  This took a good portion of our morning and we took a quick lunch break just after.  I left for work a few hours later and spent a slow night in town.

Wednesday I worked on getting some meals ready for the week and an upcoming dinner.  I started my day by setting up a lamb braise on the wood stove.  While it simmered away, I focused on preparing some items for dinner.  I started by roasting red and white peppers for a roasted pepper topping.  After that I moved onto making a pear pickle.  Around mid-day, David discovered a massive hen of the wood mushroom growing up near the cabin so I took a quick break to help him harvest it.  Our dinner guests arrived shortly after and I worked on a few finishing touches.  The dinner involved five courses and started with a late garden salad.  Then I presented corn and zucchini pancakes with roasted peppers, pear pickle, squash butter and caramelized zucchini.  The next course was a Seminole squash risotto which was followed by braised beef over fettuccine.  Dessert was raspberry sorbet with some almond cookies and acted as a great closer for a fun meal.  The following day I worked on preparing the hen of the woods mushroom for drying.  This took about an hour and once I finished that I helped David dig up cabbage roots for next years seed crop.  Afterwards, I took off for work a few hours later for a decent night.

Friday, I focused on garden clean-up.  I started by helping David dig and clean amaryllis bulbs.  After that I pulled tobacco, pepper and rue plants that were done for the season.  I managed to get a fence rolled up before I left for town too.  We got slammed at the job with a huge push near the end after the football game got out.  The day after, I worked on some more clean-up, this time inside.  I focused on tidying up the kitchen and fridge before working on cutting up squash for the goats.  Then I setup some braised cabbage and left for the evening.  Work was quite busy again with a huge night of business.

It seems that my Sundays are restful.  After sleeping in, I stumbled out of bed.  I helped David make a pie for a party we were going to and then whipped up a quick ice cream to go with it.  David and I spent the day mostly in relaxation before heading to his daughter’s for the evening.  There was lots of pie – sweet and savory – and great company, crafting a great ending to a busy week.

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Week 27: Autumn Rains and Clean-Up Between

This week was quite rainy.  With only a few breaks this week, we struggled to put in a full day and have done a fair amount of waiting.

Autumn rain on a kale leaf

This week started out with clean-up around the house.  David and I were anticipating a guest for a few overnights during the week.  The day was cold and we had both stoves on.  Mid morning, I set some goat stock on the stove to reduce. Meanwhile, I prepared a goat chile verde for meals for the week.  Tuesday morning I began my day by shucking corn for winter grain storage.  Afterwards, I setup some squash to cook on the stove for a puree.  Additionally, I sliced some cabbage up to braise all day.  It was rainy again so I spent my time tending to the pots and doing miscellaneous chores around the house.

 

Wednesday I prepared a bunch of dishes in anticipation for our guest.  I began by making some fettuccine.  I continued to prep, setting up a mushroom bolognese in a pot to simmer for half an hour.  Then, while my pasta dough was resting, I set up a vegetable soup to simmer for an hour and then turned my attention to making some cornbread.  We had a surplus of corn (and corn products) from our previous dinner so I broke out a bunch of various corn items and turned them into a corn bread.  Shortly after, I moved onto getting risotto par cooked for dinner.  I found out about halfway through the day that our guest had canceled so I shifted gears and used a quick window of sun to mow the lawns.  This took a couple of hours and when I got back inside, I prepared dinner.  David and I ate it just like we would have if our guest arrived.  It started off with a Navajo Squash Risotto.  Then, the meal transitioned to heavier fare with a mushroom bolo and fresh fettuccine.  Finally, we finished the meal with braised beef roast in a red wine-mulberry reduction that was fantastic.  The next day I worked on garden clean-up.  While David prepared ingredients for a compost pile, I worked on hacking away weeds covering a pile we needed.  After that I piled all the refuse in the corner of the garden and then began pulling the old amaranth stalks that we harvested last week.  Still filling time, I shifted over to the old lima bean patch and pulled the dead plants and weeds to clear up the area.  By this time David was ready for me and I started hauling over manure.  We got the pile done in no time and I took off for a decent evening of work.

Friday was slated to rain, but early in the morning it seemed to be clearing up.  I used this time to do some more clean up in the garden.  I started with cleaning off the rest of the tomato trellises.  Once I finished that, I moved onto pulling out old tomatillo and ground cherry plants.  I spent the rest of my time tidying up a few areas before heading into town for the evening.  Work was moderately busy with a few good pushes making it a pretty good night.  The following day, I continued to work with early afternoon sun in the garden.  I turned my attention to pulling out squash plants in various patches across the garden.  This ate up most of my time, but I did manage to pull out some volunteer amaranth plants as well.  The rain started almost immediately after I left for work.  The night was cold, moderate and unexciting.

Sunday started off with more rain.  David and I got a late start to our day.  Mid afternoon we took off to Lanesboro for a showing of Dracula.  When returned to the farm, I headed back to town to do some research at the library before they closed.  When I got back, I heated up some leftovers from the week and caught an early night listening to the autumn rain patter on the house.

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Week 26: A Different Kind of Work

As the autumn days push cool air through the valley, I can’t help but to reflect to the parallels of springtime. Comfortable days, lots of work – but also plenty of time to do it – and preparation for the upcoming year.

Our visits to the hospital garden will soon be coming to a close. When David and I visited Monday morning, there wasn’t a whole lot to do. While he picked peppers, I went around and pulled out some dead plants, picked some kale and checked the tomato vines for any late fruit. Still exhausted from the Heirloom Harvest Dinner, David and I returned home and spent the day doing small tasks. I mowed the field and vegetable garden and then moved onto channeling the creek to drain excess water. Afterwards, I checked the cabin and brought down the laundry before heading to the back yard. I gave the hedge in the back one final trim for winter and then went inside for dinner. The next day I started my morning down in the garden. I worked on pulling the last row of corn plants out. Then I took apart a bean teepee to be used for firewood. Shortly after I helped David clean carrots for winter storage. We took a quick lunch break and then I worked inside on shucking corn seed. Right before work I helped sweep out the hoop house for our upcoming amaranth harvest. The night was moderate and relaxing.

 

Wednesday, I started my day by picking amaranth. I only harvested one half of the red patch and set it in the hoop house to dry. Then I helped David bring in some of the potted tropical plants in preparation for winter. This took up most of the afternoon because its a heavy and dirty job. We also rearranged the furniture that had been displaced for the recent dining events. I got some free time and caught up on some work I had before getting dinner ready. The following day David and I worked on moving in the citrus trees in anticipation of an upcoming frost. We had a guest stop by and volunteer to help making the whole job much easier. Once we got done with that, I cut up some squash for the goats and got ready for work. The night was decent, but not as hectic as most Thursdays.

Friday, David and I spent most of the morning thrashing amaranth. Using a large bedsheet, David and I vigorously shook out the pannacles trying to extract as much seed as possible. Once we got the gross work done, David sifted through our thrashings with a screen, removing the majority of the large material. The seed was then placed on another sheet to dry before it gets one last refining. Then David and I worked on a winter squash harvest. As we hauled the squash up to the house, I was amazed how productive the plants had been. I sat around a little before work and then headed into town for a busy night. The day after, I cleaned the rest of the red amaranth patch. David went around and worked on some small projects before catching up with me for lunch. After that we spent the rest of the afternoon digging beets. Afterwards we got them cleaned up and put away for winter storage and seed saving for next year. This was a pretty large project that ate up most of my time before work. The night was decent with a large push at the end.

Sunday, David and I started the morning by cleaning up the ferns. They have been here for some time and needed a trimming and cleaning. Afterwards, I worked on husking ground cherries while David peeled pears for canning. Shortly after, we took a break for lunch and then I worked on some items for dinner. I prepared a red wine reduction for a braise I’m making next week. After that, I put some goat bones on to simmer to make into stock. Korbin joined us early to work on tobacco curing and then joined us for dinner. We enjoyed the company late into the night. As the sun set, cool autumn rains drizzled through the night.

Week 25: Autumn Equinox and the End of the Season

This week marked the official turn of the seasons. The weather has become consistently cooler and the completion of the final Heirloom Harvest dinner have begun the transition for fall.

Monday I spent my day working on items for a dinner with Carina. I started off by making a venison stock. Meanwhile I made a red wine blackcap reduction and finished spinning the rest of the berry sorbet. I took a break and went with David to the hospital garden to do some clean-up and harvests. I did my usual by picking kale, checking tomatoes and pulling out old cabbage plants for the not-so-baby goats. David and I finished our time in town by running a few errands and shopping for a few items. When we returned, I combined my venison stock and berry reduction to make a blackcap gastrique to go with the dinner for Carina. Then I moved onto dicing carrots and making a leek dressing for a carrot relish. Afterwards, I made a subiose puree to go with the main course. Once I finished that I tourneed potatoes and seasoned the venison. When Carina arrived I began my prep for a tomato salad. After I served her and David, I moved onto preparing the main course. I seared the venison and then butter basted it with some herbs before letting it rest. Meanwhile, I reheated my purees and sauces, warmed the carrot relish and fried the potatoes. The dish I served to Carina and David was seared venison, fried potatoes, warm carrot relish and a red wine-blackcap gastrique. Once we finished our meal, I served some of the berry sorbet I had made and then spent the evening catching up with Carina about her recent vacation and her plans for the future. The next day we were scheduled to have a potential intern over for an interview. I began my morning by preparing some fresh fettuccine. While the dough was resting I made a venison bolognese sauce. I let it simmer for a while and rolled out my pasta. Jackson arrived early in the evening and I prepared another tomato salad while David and Jackson talked. After that, I served the bolo and we spent the evening meeting each other and talking about my experience here at the farm.

Wednesday morning I tightened up the kitchen for our check-up with the health inspector. This didn’t take long so afterwards I started making the base for the corn ice cream for the upcoming Heirloom Harvest Dinner. It was rainy for most of the day and once I got done with the ice cream base I decided to take a nap. When I woke up, I received a call from the health inspector notifying us that she wouldn’t be able to do the check-up. David and I worked on some leftovers for dinner and I called it an early night. The next day I worked on setting up the dining room. I started by sweeping up before setting up the tables and chairs. Things went by pretty quick so I took the time to set all of the place settings as well. Afterwards, I checked the cabin for our upcoming bed and breakfast guests. It was still raining so I spent the rest of my day doing some reading before heading to bed.

Friday morning was spent working on finalizing the finishing touches before the dinner. I finished spinning the corn ice cream and then waited for Gloria and Rosa to arrive to begin our prep. When they got here I started by mincing some onions and cilantro. After that I helped roll tamales and then assisted with cleaning the kitchen. It was late and I had no problem falling asleep. When I got up the next morning David was serving breakfast for our overnight guest. I sat down and enjoyed it with them before moving to the kitchen with Gloria and Rosa again. I filled the role of tournant by gathering plates, organizing details and dishing up garnishes and items. All in all, I didn’t spend that much time cooking or preparing and it wasn’t super enjoyable. The guests began to roll in around 4.30pm and I brought out the appetizers before checking on our final details. The dinner started around quarter after six with pork pozole soup. People were hungry and after a quick plate clear we moved onto serving the pupusas. These are little stuffed disks of masa that are lightly fried on a flat top. Again, this course was devoured and we then followed up with the entree. It was a composed plate of refried beans, a layered “cake” of various ingredients and a chicken tamale. At this point people were starting to slow down. As we cleared the plates, I scooped the corn ice cream. People were so full that some were declining this course, and we still had an additional one to go. As people worked on the ice cream Gloria reheated hot chocolate and we served the after dinner drink. People didn’t stick around for long and by 9.30pm almost everyone was gone. I spent the rest of the night running around cleaning up so I could get to bed.

Sunday, I slept in. When I got up I worked on breaking down the tables and chairs. Then I put away the rest of the dining equipment – plates, silverware and glasses – before taking a quick lunch break. David returned from picking up some apple juice and so I helped unload the car. After that, I took a long nap and then helped get dinner ready. Of course, we ate leftovers and Korbin stopped by to work on some details for her tobacco harvest before joining us for dinner. The evening went late and after some work on the computer I went to bed to prepare for next week’s garden clean-up.

Week 24: Just the Beginning (of Fall Clean-up)

The nature of the tasks this week were such that taking pictures wasn’t quite as practical as usual. Don’t fret, there will be plenty more cool things to see as the season progresses.

Monday started with the usual trip to the hospital garden.  The harvests have been slowly dropping off so I spent my time pulling out dead plants and weeding.  When we returned to the farm I followed the same cadence by pulling weeds from the garden.  David and I took the time (and extra plant matter) to make another compost pile for next year.  Then, we took a break for an early wine time.  Ellis was leaving the following day so I took him out to dinner as a good bye present.  The next day I spent more time pulling weeds in the garden.  Afterwards, David and I focused on fixing a trellis in the lower vineyard.  Then, while we were waiting on some painters to come by, we organized the trash to get ready for a run to the dump.  Shortly after I transitioned my day for my evening at work.  Things started off slow but as the evening progressed the night turned out to be decent.

Wednesday morning David and I went to the dump to drop off the trash.  When we returned to the farm I focused on cleaning ground cherries to be processed into syrup.  Once I got that done I moved onto cutting down old grape vines in order to simplify next year’s workload.  I spent the rest of my afternoon on various cleaning chores that included some weeding and gathering of garden refuse.  Then I pulled out old broccoli plants and cut down the remaining asparagus plants.  The following day David and I, with the help of a guest, unloaded a wagon of hay.  Afterwards, David and I ran out of town to pick up some firewood from a local timber frame maker.  I quickly helped unload the wood before work and then went to town.  The night was steady with people, presumably from the recent influx of students to Luther.

Friday I started my morning by unloading another load of wood.  David and I spent the rest of the morning processing pears for canning and preservation.  Then, I cut up squash and apples for the baby goats (who aren’t really babies anymore).  I ended up leaving for work a little early in order to pick up a few items for the upcoming kitchen inspection here at the farm.  Work was quite busy as we pushed through nearly 75 people in only half an hour.  The evening died down to a more steady pace up to the end of the night.  The following day after, I slept in.  When I got up I made pasta for lunch with Korbin.  I also prepared a pepper vinaigrette as well as an eggplant caponata to use up some of the produce we had around the farm.  When she arrived I served up a tomato salad and then followed it with pasta and tomato sauce.  I departed for work shortly after for another busy, late night.

Sunday was spent mostly in leisure.  I helped David can some more pears before doing some chores around the house and preparing a berry puree for sorbet.  Dinner consisted of leftovers from the week and I called it an early night to get ready for next weeks events.

Week 23: Autumn is Coming

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.

Check back later this week for new recipes, posts and updates about P&P!

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