The past two weeks has brought us some of the best autumn colors in the Driftless Area. Sadly, we probably just have this weekend left to enjoy it. I have picked the last remaining fruits from the garden. I got a few more poblano peppers, green tomatoes, bitter melons, one opo (Asian zucchini), chamomile flowers, and the last bowl out of my over 50 pound glut of Concord grapes. Last weekend, Keith and I packed in several of our favorite fall activities. We made a trip out to Peck’s Farm Market West in Spring Green mainly to hang out with the goats and to look at their kitschy Halloween décor. I took the customary crazy pumpkin display picture. This year, they even had a golf cart with a giant pumpkin on the back. I also took a silly picture with a giant head of cabbage and realized that my own head was just as big in comparison!
The pictures above were taken out in the yard. I’m sure the birds and squirrels will be very happy with the berries on the ground. Especially delightful was the pretty display of mushrooms on an old elder tree stump. I wonder what made the swirly white marks around it? Keith thinks it might have been a snail.
Ok, back to the weekend. After Peck’s, we drove out to Oakwood Fruit Farm for their famous apple cider doughnuts. I got carried away and bought a couple of caramel apples as well as a pound of hand-rolled butter. With a little pep from the sugar, we drive around to see the scenery and to check out some of the participating artists in the Fall Art Tour. Our first stop was Otter Creek Arts. I wanted to visit because I purchased a Pamela Callahan painting last May and it was a great excuse to finally meet her. The piece is called “Too Many Nougats” which you can see on her website’s gallery. I think it’s neat to check out the spaces where artists create. After driving on some winding roads, we got to Highway Q. To get to the studio, we had to drive a little bit downhill onto a little bridge over a little creek then up again. We parked beside the big red barn. Adjacent to it was the two story studio. Her studio was upstairs, called the “Pam-o-rama” room. Behind it was a sweet little cabin that we got to check out. It had railings made with fused antique metal tools. Between the studio and the main house was the amazing garden. Pamela sent us home with a large bag of heirloom tomatoes. (She felt sorry that I harvested mostly green tomatoes this year.). It’s always a wonderful thing when the artist behind a piece you admire turns out to be such a sweet person.
Of course we had to make a stop to see our buddies at Windy Ridge Pottery. I’m sure you’ve heard all about them. Check out this post if you have not. There were quite busy when we got there and the poodles (Maggie & Charlie) were so good at greeting everyone. Christy made about 10 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the weekend for guests. Joe was busy giving tours of their kiln house. We treated ourselves to a beautiful tagine with a rich brown glaze with a layer of the slightest violet shimmer.
Our last stop was the Johnston’s Brewery. It is another incredible space. I feel as if it’s a giant jewelry box. It’s especially gorgeous to see at night. The week before, I hid a polka-dotted scarf in the back of some other scarves. I told Diana that if it was still there when I came back that it was meant to be. Well, I think the universe does not want me to purchase anymore items with polka dots. Oh well, Keith and I did find the most gorgeous octagonal-shaped platter. It had a light green grey glaze and some lace patterns on it.
Living in a place with distinct seasons is so delightful. I’m really looking forward to some warming things like wearing my pink moose slippers, drinking lots of tea, hosting another Friendsgiving party, the Driftless Film Festival, and baking bread. What are you looking forward to?
Molasses Poppy Bread
- 2 cups bread flour
- 2 cups wheat flour
- 2 t. salt
- 1 and 1/2 t .yeast
- 2 T. molasses
- 4 T. butter
- 1 and 3/4 c. hot water
- 1 T. poppy seeds
- vegetable oil
- egg white
Heat about 2 cups of water in a pan or tea kettle. Measure out and put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl. Measure out the hot water then put the butter in it to melt as well as the molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until it forms into a rough ball. Dump it on your counter then knead until smooth. This will take about 7-8 minutes. Let it rest in a lightly oil bowl. Place in a warm spot until it doubles in size. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Brush or spray it with a little oil. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to get rid of the air bubbles. Form into a shape to fit the pan. Let it rise again until the dough is almost an inch above the pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Paint the top of the dough with beaten egg white. You can decorate it by placing an autumn leaf on top then sprinkle with the poppy seed. Take off the leaf. Bake for 20 minutes. After that, tent it with a foil so the top does not burn then bake for another 18-20 minutes. Let it cool. Cheers!
*For more autumn notes, check out my latest post for High Street Beat, “The Cheese Country Trail & Brewpub Pies”.
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