I work in the automotive industry, and so each November (thanks to the UAW) I have a paid holiday called "Veterans Day Observed" which is actually always timed to be as close to November 15 as possible. Why November 15? That's the start of firearm deer hunting season here in Michigan. So many people would take the day off that cars and trucks couldn't get built, so we just get the day off now. Deer season lasts from November 15 until the end of the month, and in some parts of the upper peninsula of Michigan, some schools don't even have classes because so many of the students are hunting the first days of the season.
As is our family's custom, my husband and son have traveled up north to my sister's cottage to go deer hunting with my brother and my brother in law. I'm not quite sure how much hunting actually happens; mostly it's a time for the menfolk to hang out together and drink beer and play poker and eat chili, I think. We ladies are back here at home - we are called "hunters widows" - and my friend Alison and I always take the opportunity to use our day off from work to make pasties. This year was no exception - we got up early yesterday and went to the gym and shopping first; then by 10:30 am, we were up to our elbows in pasty making. We make them using this recipe, although over the years, we have changed our techniques a little. Yesterday, we cut up our meat smaller than a 1/2 inch - instead we made it about the size of the tip of the pinky finger. And we diced all the vegetables instead of using the food processor, since Alison doesn't have one. We also used lard in the crust instead of the shortening, too. We made about 80 pasties yesterday, including some little appetizer sized ones as shown in the upper left corner of the picture.
When the pasties are cool, we split them, wrap them in foil and freeze them. Then we eat them all winter. So I don't forget for next year - I need to remember to bring these kitchen gadgets with me to make pasty making even better:
A good knife sharpener is a must! I prefer this one to a honing steel or even an electric one. It's cheap and easy to use. Cutting rutabaga is hard! Without a sharp knife, it would be impossible....
A half sheet pan like this one is perfect for pasty baking, because it is larger than a typical cookie sheet and thicker, too. Years ago, I ditched all my cookie sheets and switched to food service style half sheet pans for any task that a cookie sheet is required.