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.
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.