Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Summer 2010: It's All About the Pig

What do you like best about summer?
If you'd have asked me that question a number of years ago, my answer may have been "not much."

I'm not a fan of the heat. Or the humidity. Or the mosquitoes. I have a tendency to be light sensitive, so exposure to too much sun generally results in a monster of a headache. And the notion of running around in a bikini (or being scantily clad in any way) is as scary for me as it would be for everyone else if I actually made a habit of it.

Nah... I live for the crisp autumn days when I can throw on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. I long for deceptively sunny days. And chilly nights. For crisp leaves and apple pie.  It's the one time of the year when yard work doesn't make me sweat. And I can think of nothing more exciting than putting something into the oven for a nice slow braise while I sit with a cup of tea and catch up on my reading.

That said, I will concede that I've grown increasingly fond of summer as I grow older -- in part because I've grown to more closely appreciate my food and where it comes from.  Eating more locally has given me an uncanny affection for blisteringly hot summer days and humid evenings because I know that they will beget me plenty of delicious produce to get me through the long, cold Wisconsin winter.

Of course, it helps that I also get to look forward to events like the Braise on the Go annual pig roast (see footage from past roasts in 2008 and 2009).  This year, the event was held at LOTFOTL, a certified organic community farm in East Troy, WI.  We've gotten to know Farmer Tim Huth over the years (in fact, he's the one who generously bestowed us with those fantastic rat tail radishes -- and seeds to grow our own -- two years ago when we belonged to his CSA), and he's a great guy.  In his own words, the philosophy on his farm can be summed up this way:
To “live off the fat of the land” [...] is to bask in your role in a system which feeds you so long as you feed it. It is the celebration, and the recognition that you cannot be you without these systems, without other beings, sentient and otherwise. Farming practices that are land abusive will inevitably lead to land that is lifeless, just as a household filled with anger and violence will cease to feel like a home.
We strive to apply systematic thinking to the farm, treating the land like the vast and complex space that it is. In building our relationship to the soil  we are placing our bets that if we fulfill the role of stewards and caretakers of this supercomplex set of interactions, this system will reciprocate and care for us. But even if it doesn't, even if waves someday wash over our fields, or the sun bakes Earth's flesh to a crusty and crumbly and lifeless space, we will have acted from this place of intention, and will be better for it. To Live off the fat of the land, then, is simply to live.  -- LOTFOTL Community Farm

Unlike years past, the weather this year was pretty sticky. Rain was in the forecast, but the humidity hadn't quite broken.  So, we were relieved to see that our dinner this year would sheltered from both the heat of the sun and the threat of rain. The mosquitoes were also pretty nasty, thanks to all that rain we got in July; but the Braise folks managed to cover that base as well, passing out bug spray to anyone who needed it.  They also set a mighty pretty table.
Before they seated us, we were encouraged to take a trek around the farm. To sustain us, they supplied us with a bit of wine (there was also the option of chocolate milk from Sassy Cow Creamery for anyone who felt the desire to turn down a bit of locally produced wine from Stone's Throw Winery)
And delicious bite of pork confit on a whole grain cracker with Wisconsin cherry (Many thanks to Adam Lucks).
And before we knew it, it was time for dinner.  There were four delectable courses in store for us -- each one containing some form of pork (including dessert).  The porky bits were all derived from a 200lb Berkshire pig from Golden Bear Farm, an organic farm in Kiel, WI owned and operated by by Steve and Marie Deibele.  We couldn't wait to dig in!

By this point, we couldn't wait to see what we were having for dessert. Fortunately, the chefs were kind enough to let us take a peek at the delicious things they were prepping.  And once we found out there would be PIG FAT CARAMEL involved, we became seriously drool-laden.
Mosquitoes?  Humidity? Bah!
Give me food like this -- in the company of good friends -- and I'll put up with quite a bit.  It might even make me like summer :)  Cheers!

Sorry you missed the pig roast?  Why not sign up for the Braise Tour de Farms event coming up on Sunday, September 12, 2010.  Looks like it's gonna be a blast!

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  1. everything looks so wonderful!

  2. Looks like some good eats... I delivered some eggs tonight, and had a pork confit sandwich with cherry preserve at Comet - pret-ty pret-ty good - and even better with the Imperial IPA to wash it down! There is getting to be too much cool food stuff to do locally, and that is such a great conundrum to be in, isn't it?!

  3. If I never read your blog before, I would start reading it now after reading your title, "It's all about the pig." It always is, isnt' it? :-)

    Summer has always been my favorite season. I can counter heat and humidity with one of my favorite activities - SWIMMING. I love wearing a minimum of clothes, even if I don't look good dressed that way at my age. If you don't like how I look, then don't look at me! That's what I always say.

    And yes, fresh produce is definitely a perk of summer. I try so hard to have dinner parties in August and early September so I can cook with as much farmer's market food as possible.

    I want every single course on this menu 4 times over. Who would have thought of pig fat caramel?

  4. I think you may have captured it perfectly in this post. I also am not, as a general rule, a fan of the idea of summer, and hate the same things you do about it, but in recent years I actually kind of like it. Even the heat doesn't seem as bad to me and I think it has to be because I'm so much closer to the whole process of summer and the food that comes naturally from the season. Still, I'm very much looking forward to those crisp, chilled-like-red-wine and gently cloudy afternoons...

  5. Seeing as how pork is my favorite meat, I am sincerely sorry I missed this! Looks fantastic.

  6. jealous again! the pig shoulder braised in milk looks like it melts in the mouth, who doesn't love stone's throw wine, and oh that panna cotta... a successful evening!



  7. Loving the new look! :)

    We are going to a pig roast at a local farm in a few weeks and I am SO EXCITED about it! :)

  8. Sounds like an oinkerrific pig dinner! Just a few months and things will cool down a bit for sure.

  9. Ah, I finished reading...and it did not disappoint. I wish we were neighbors. You could certainly take me places, introduce me to fine people, and keep my belly full. Look at them eats! Although, I will fight you to the death on the weather - I want summer to go on and on and on.

  10. Pig Fat Caramel! Yes please! I'm looking forward to the Tour De Farm we are going to here in September apparently its going to be a pig feast.

    I am so dying for this humidity to end & the cool breezes to start!

  11. This looks like fun!!Yum! What a great event and post. I would love my summer more if it included this great event. I won't miss it next time, I hope!

  12. Looks like you had a fantastic meal. Pass me a cup of the pig fat caramel please ;)

  13. pig fat caramel?!?!?! looks like i have a new food project...


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