Hay Ride

Today we went on our annual trip to Jim’s Pumpkin Farm in Germantown for hay rides, pumpkin picking and other Halloween-related adventures. This is our third or fourth time there (we can’t recall if we went last year or not between Friday Harbor and Halloween). We arrived a few minutes after the hay rides started at 10am and there was already a big crowd! We think this was partly attributable to the lousy weather last weekend, when there was so much rain they couldn’t have hay rides because the fields were too muddy for the tractors, but clearly also the entire operation has grown over the last few years. There are now many more activities and attractions including a Corn Lane, a Corn Maze, a miniature maze made of hay bales and an oval track for pedal-tractors. We picked two pumpkins during the hay ride, and Everett hauled them back to the car for us. Next we checked out the scary signs, tombstones and skeletons that are scattered around the property. We also picked out three small pumpkins for Chris’ frontier-wife Melissa to make homemade pie and Kaddo Bourani. It was a beautiful day for the trip.

On the way home we tried another popular local tradition. Generally speaking, the United States has not made a lot of contributions to the culinary world (important note: foods that were “invented” do not count), so we try to pay close attention when we do find a local contribution. In the past we have written about cheese curds, bratwurst and many different foods at the State Fair. We have also written about Friday Fish Fries that probably started exclusively during Lent for the large local Catholic population but are now offered year round. Today we tried hot ham and rolls. These are available from many different locations ranging from doughnut shops to gas stations to delis; we got ours from Fattoni’s on North Ave. Most culinary delights involve a secret recipe, or an exotic preparation method or some kind of unusual ingredient. Not so with hot ham and rolls – their defining characteristic is their simplicity. In fact, the entire recipe could be reproduced in a single sentence. The custom is to pick some up on the way home from church and then eat while watching Sunday afternoon football, which is exactly what we did. Everett ate his plain (which is probably the proper preparation method), while Chris and Melissa added Muenster cheese and estragon senf (tarragon mustard, brought home from Germany) followed by a minute in the toaster to make the cheese warm and bubbly. We ate while the Packers trounced the Rams in St. Louis. It was good, but it’s not what I would call particularly memorable. I’m going to wait for a restaurateur from New York City to discover it and dress it up a bit, similar to what has happened with foods as simple as peanut butter and jelly (but which are still much more complex than this Milwaukee tradition). In the meantime we have a variety of fall-related activities planned: raking leaves, carving pumpkins, roasting pumpkins seeds and preparing for Halloween.

Update: later in the day we carved pumpkins after taking advantage of some pumpkin design apps on the iPad.

Update II: Soon after we posted this blog entry the sandwich shop mentioned above was in a New York Times article about peanut butter and pickle sandwiches (aka the Pregnant Lady). Has anyone tried this?

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