fermenting · food · gardening · recipe

And Then, Summer.

Before I knew it, Memorial Day weekend arrived, and with it, the start of Summer.

It is hard to believe it is June in two days. Where has this year gone?? I know that I have certainly not accomplished all that I had wished I would have by this point. But I am trying to be gentle with myself – the past two years have been insane for most people, I imagine; is anyone where they wish they were? So instead of thinking of what I haven’t gotten done or accomplished, I am trying to focus on what I have. Life, in these crazy, hurtful, times seems so much more bearable this way.

This weekend I finally got my garden planted. It is hard to find anything more healing than getting your hands in the earth and growing something. Because of America’s love affair with poor city planning and relentless expansion, my soil is pretty much all clay since the area was pretty much a wetland before houses were stuck on on top of it. I have been trying hard to amend the soil the past few years and it is getting a little better, but it still isn’t *good* yet. And unfortunately I am still having to rototill at the start of each season to get it plant-able, which I hate because I know it destroys any mycelial network that has started to grow and is bad for the worms and other soil creatures. Next year I am going to very aggressively add a lot of sand to the soil, which I heard really helps with soil with a high clay content.

The past few years I have tried to start most of my plants from seed, but this year time and motivation just seemed to slip through my fingers so all of the plants were bought from Stein’s. But that is ok! Next year will be a new opportunity! One thing I really want to start deep diving into is seed saving. I think there are a few online courses that I need to look into, but I am also going to look on YouTube to see if there is a lot of free information that I can learn from. If anyone has any experience in seed saving and has good free resources or any book recommendations please let me know in the comments! I love learning new practical skills! Plus, really embracing and planting heirloom vegetables seems like it would be the best option for both my small family and the Earth! In my neck of the woods there are a LOT of commercial corn fields. (Although that number is decreasing every year and instead the lovely fields are being gobbled up with Industrial Parks and cookie cutter subdivisions…. Yuck. Can you tell how bitter I am about this???? Anyways…..) And commercial corn fields means…. Monsanto the Monster. So anything I can grow myself and harvest and share the seeds from is a huge plus in my book!!!!

Of course cooking out is pretty much mandatory on Memorial Day Weekend, right?? As a proud Wisconsinite I *LOVE* a good brandy Old Fashioned. The ever amazing Charlie Berns recently posted a video about his Old Fashioned Brat. Of course we had to try it and we ended our long day of gardening on Saturday with a cookout. Jon was in charge of this particular recipe and Oh. My. God. He knocked it out of the park! Honestly I am not that big of a fan of brats. Blasphemy, I know!!!!! But I had to try this one. So worth it! Jon really cooked down the marinade until it had a jam like consistency and we put that as a topping for the brat and it was just…. GOOD! So if you like brats, or a brandy Old Fashioned, or love Wisconsin, check out his video and TRY IT OUT! My only problem with Jon’s version is he did not use a buck knife. So disappointing….. He did however share his version of the recipe!

Pickle’s Brat-y Old Fashioned

2 Oranges
1 Lemon
1 Lime
20 Maraschino cherries (and appropriate juices)
5 Brats (raw)
Brandy (Korbel)

Making the Marinade

  1. Grab your marinating container for the ingredients, and a lemon juicer as well. If your lemon juicer doesn’t have a vessel to readily catch the juices, do not worry!
  2. Juice the oranges, lemon, and lime.
    NOTE: Pay attention to the orange-juice level in the lemon juicer! You will pour the brandy up to this same point later.
  3. Muddle the 20 Maraschino cherries.
  4. Pour in the appropriate level of Maraschino juice.
  5. Fill the lemon juicer up with brandy to the same level that the orange juice was at earlier (about half a rocks glass – use your own discretion).
  6. Put in 10 – 15 shakes of the Bitters.
  7. Mix the ingredients well in your marinating container.
  8. Put your raw brats in the marinade and place them in the fridge for 3 – 24 hours (the longer, the better).

Cooking the Brats; Making the Sauce

  1. After finishing marinating, place your brats with the marinade into a sauce pan on high heat. (Put your brats in a spiral if you want – it looks neat!)
  2. Once the marinade comes to a boil, bring it down to a simmer. Cook brats for 8 minutes on each side.
    Note: This is a great time to prep your grill and get it hot!
  3. Pull the brats out of the marinade, and keep the sauce simmering.
  4. Cook your brats however you like! (I typically do max-heat, 4 minutes on one side with the lid up, and then flip and do 4 more minutes with the lid down.)
  5. Take your brats off the grill. When you come back in, your sauce should be somewhere between a thick sauce and a loose jelly!
    NOTE: If the sauce is too thick, simply add a splash of water to deglaze your pan and loosen up the sauce.
  6. Place a brat on your bun-of-choice, top it with as much sauce as you want, and you’re done! You are now ready to eat the most delicious, most Wisconsin-y brat of your life!

Today, Memorial Day itself, is really hot. I spent the morning at my sister’s house just catching up and smelling the brisket her boyfriend was smoking. If I didn’t have chores at home demanding my time I might have stuck around all day for the finished product it smelled so good! I have to say, my sister and her boyfriend are wonderful cooks. I need to be more like them.

Now I am spending the rest of the day just relaxing and knitting with a few glasses of my Super Lazy Sangria (just red wine with Sierra Mist….. super posh, I KNOW). Summer Sock Camp 2022 started this weekend so I have started two pairs of socks. Unfortunately both pairs are gifts for people who could potentially read this so I can’t share any pictures. But I am making good progress. I also pulled out 5 more skeins of sock yarn from my stash for Camp, so hopefully I will have some pictures of other pairs in July.

The final major project we have been working on lately is making some homemade Mead!! Making Dandelion Mead is something I have been wanting to do for a few years but never seemed to find time for. So last year I harvested a bunch of Dandelion flowers and froze them. Finally this year the stars aligned and we got it done! Or rather started, as it were. I am so excited to try it! We also got some ingredients for a spiced Christmas Mead that I hope to get going in the next few days. I really want to get into more home brewing and fermenting. Wow, so many thing I want to do and learn, so little time!

I really want to try not to let another season slip away. We only get one life to live, and I don’t want to look back one day and realize I not only spent all my time at a job I absolutely despise, but that I let it wear me down so much that I couldn’t even find the energy to embrace and enjoy the free time I did have.

I wish you all happiness, and a peaceful and contented soul. Until next time,



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