...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Charcuterie School

It's Saturday night and I just spent two hours "in class."  I attended Charcuterie School at Bolzano Artisan Meats, Wisconsin's first dry-cured meat company.  I'm reminded of my 23rd birthday when I spent the evening learning about food preservation at a local community center.  My friends never let me hear the end of that one, "I can't believe you're going to a canning class on your birthday!"  Well, I'm now in my eighth season of teaching food preservation classes.  Does checking out this class tonight mean I'm destined to become a meat artist?  Hmm, I'll stick to sausagemaking for now.  But it was a totally worthwhile continuing education session, which is part of my plan as an urban homesteader--to seek out the people who practice these valuable skills and learn from them.  Bolzano, named after a city in Italy, gets its pork from a small family farmer in Lake Geneva who raises Hereford heritage breed hogs.  After seeing Food Inc. the other night, it was refreshing to know that this farmer raises just 40-50 hogs on average and that Bolzano has simply two coolers and a very small (not to mention impeccably clean) kitchen for processing their meats.  It's the epitome of Slow Food.  Currently they are curing speck, a type of proscuitto that's cold smoked after drying.  Local folks have pre-ordered these hams for around $300 a pop.  After tasting some of Bolzano's products I can understand why one would pay so much for this meat--delicious and very high quality...and it can easily be traced back to its source.

Today was also about more crafting.  By noon I'd finished all my outside "chores"--planted onion sets, scallions, spinach, and peas (in the windowbox), built a bean trellis from the branches we trimmed from our cherry tree, and sorted the boards so we can begin cutting the lengths for the raised beds.  It felt great to get that of all done then have the rest of the day to nap, putz, and play with Vera.  To make the bean trellis I basically took the tallest/longest branches I could find and secured them into a grid with the plethora of twist ties I have lying around.  We'll see how sturdy it ends up being.  I've never had an engineer's brain like my siblings, but I've built some decent things.  This ad hoc project reminded me of the jury-rigged structures I used to build for my Barbie dolls.  There was probably a lot of adhesive tape involved in their construction, but they stood long enough for me to have fun with them.  I'm guessing this natural trellis will look beautiful once my Bingo beans are in full bloom.

This afternoon I made Vera a "Woodland Elf Hat" from a pattern I found in Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol.  I found a piece of pink denim in my craft cupboard that I thought would be perfect.  When I unfolded the fabric I remembered it from a past thrifting adventure.  It had a different flower screenprinted on each corner.  I worked each of these designs into the pattern and sewed it all together fairly quickly.  It's a little big on Vera, but still very cute.  She'll look like a little wood sprite when she grows into it.

1 comment:

  1. The Bolzano class is on my to-do list! Prior to their meat, the best domestic stuff I'd had was La Quercia out of Iowa - but it was difficult to find here.

    Love the hat, too!