Sunday, October 23, 2011

Autumn in and out of Chicago

It's hard to be a Chicagoan in October and not feel the pull of hazy yellows, irreverent oranges, dusky reds and mushroom cap browns. Admittedly, there are few times of the year when I wouldn't rather be out in the middle of a field somewhere, somehow particularly in autumn I crave the outdoors. I want to be decked with a thick pair of boots, with ruddy cheeks and an opened mouth smile that only eye-tear-jerking, flippant fall winds can bring.

We try our best to bring fall into the city in a variety of ways. We throw an impromptu weekday pumpkin ale tasting party, complete with furry friends, ghosting and pork fennel stew.
 The Contenders!
Chef and her bowls of fall
We have our annual pumpkin carving ladies evening, wherein our inner artist, starved all year long finally has a night to exhibit. Replete with the roasting of seeds and little bowls of roasted squash soup. This year's carvings were Sarah Palin, A Ghoulish Fiend, Animal and Kermit the Frog.Charming aren't they?
We took the last long bike ride of 2011 up to Evanston's Ryan Field, a full 29 miles round trip. Leaves crunched along in the bike lane as we cruised home victorious, sporting maize and blue.

The truth of the matter is though, no matter how hard we try, there's something about autumn that you just can't create here in the city.. You have to go to a farm, pick apples, take a hay ride. You have to find a new little town, drink some local brew, and chat with total strangers because they're wearing the same colored clothes as you. And so we did.

We took our annual trip to Iron Creek, to stand in the soil where our produce is grown, to see the barns that have been raised, in part thanks to our business, and see the new little piggies grow as our farm expands.
Tamera Mark of Iron Creek Farm
Iron Creek bacon
We dropped by Garwood Farm, a massive U-Pick paradise just outside of Michigan City and collected 2 bushels of apples, tomatoes and peppers all for canning and pie-ing and tarting. Yum.
Honey Crisp makes everyone happy
Picks a Pepper
And last weekend, we rented a tiny, no indoor plumbing cabin off Lake Michigan in a charming little Dutch town and drank local brews, watched the sunset and read this thrilling book.
Much too often, fall can last only for a day or two in Chicago as we vacillate between 80 degrees and 20 but this fall, and I always feel hungry still as we slide int November. But this year I've had a full serving of college football, squash, ale and boots.

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