DEAR FARMKETEERS: Little Bobby will become Bummed Out Bobby if you wait til the final week before Halloween to come pick your dream pumpkins.
Just a heads-up. You don’t want to have to tell Little Bobby that her jack-o-lantern is a JOKE-o-Lantern. A big, gray, lumpy Blue Hubbard. And no, she won’t be fooled by orange paint. (But good try, Sneaky Parent of the Year!) Last season the pumpkin patch got picked clean well before All Hallows’ Eve. So come pick now. Pumpkin envy never did anybody any good. And it can stick around a good 2 weeks. Freud would say years.
Luckily, the preventative is at hand. Surely you’ve heard the old rhyme? Oh how it’s been said a thousand times before… an ounce of pumpkin is worth a pound of cure! You can pick your pumpkins in the patch or find them right at the farm stand. (Plenty of Hubbards and other squashes, too, for the revolutionaries out there – you who might like to disrupt the perennial October tyranny of the Orange Ones.)
Come pick apples as big as pumpkins. That’s right, it’s MUTSU season. We know you Mutsu fanatics come out of hiding in mid-October every year. Mutsu is a dessert apple. A pie apple. A versatile apple. The versatile little black cocktail dress of apples. And they get as big as pumpkins. Dad planted the Mutsu orchard back in ’84. We could rhapsodize about the Mutsus for days. The British call them “oven busters” since a couple of old orchard ladies could pick one giant Mutsu and bake it in the oven and split it as dessert for their afternoon stitch-n-bitch. But dudes can do that, too. Just saying. Ovens and stitching and b*tching aren’t just for girls. And dessert. And feelings. And sharing. And little black cocktail dresses. All welcome at The ‘Creek.
ALL! APPLE! VARIETIES! Now open for picking! This is the last big wave of u-pick apples. In addition to Mutsu, you can pick Northern Spy, Prairie Spy, Spigold, Jonagold, Winecrisp (pictured), and more. Ask at the stand and we’ll circle them on the map. For many of us apple lovers, these October specimens are the cream of the crop, the creme-de-la-creme, the pommes-de-les-pommes. The Big Show.
Cut your own “Brouts.” Every week we have to come up with a new nickname for Brussels sprouts or we die. Like a shark that has to keep swimming lest it sink to the seafloor, or Sisyphus rolling that eternal, infernal rock uphill. Last week was “Sprussel Brouts” which worked pretty well. Most everybody figured it out. This week is the obvious contraction (why didn’t we think of this before?!) – BROUTS. But careful! Not to be confused with brots. Brots is short for brotwursts. Brots are made of food. Brouts are made of plants. But plants can be food too. And not just ‘rabbit food’ like Old Grandad “It’s-Not-a-Meal-Unless-It’s-Meat” used to call it. There’s even that new Impossible Burger. Okay, ready… everyone run to Burger King or McDonald’s or wherever has those Impossible Burgers and order some! Or let’s not and say we did! Instead come pick your own Brouts. They are delicious and nutritious. Animal Exhibit A is a rabbit named Donut noshing on brouts.
Exhibit B is a horse named Truffle eating Honeycrisp. The Honeycrisp trees have been stripped clean, but you can still get Honeycrisp apples at the farm stand. We only get 37 emails a week asking if we still have Honeycrisp. Yes, we still have them. By the way, to all you so-called Honeycrisp champions, nobody can eat a Honeycrisp like a pony can. Prodigious munchings and crunchings. Juice flying everywhere. Teeth on the move, nostrils flaring, tail wagging – and that special shimmy they do with their ribs, and that ripple in the withers. You’d have to really practice to match that. Prepare for a tummy ache.
Exhibit C is a cat named Chickadee eating sunflowers. The Sunflower Maze, just FYI, will probably be the Dead Brown Sunflower maze by the time you get here this weekend. It will still be standing, and you can wander through, and even cut your own sunflowers like before. Dead brown ones are free. If you find a nice bright yellow one, it survived the frost and you are a lucky person. Please return the scissors to the bucket.
Eat donuts and sweet cider. Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic scrumption by the dozen or half-dozen on Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00. If you want cinnamon sugar, simply whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.” Nick the Donut Kid will catch your drift. Wash down the donuts with freshly pressed sweet cider, known around here as “Orchard Ambrosia” – 100% unpasteurized old-timey juice of apples and pears. Freezes great. We’re brewing hot mulled cider, too.
Get fresh ginger root and turmeric root, notably recherché rhizomes here in the Finger Lakes. Few people know that fresh ging and turm have been growing in Ithaca. Sharon and Dean of Tree Gate Farm, our friends around the corner on Coy Glen, are delighting Farmketeers for a second year. Last year Farmies snarfed up the roots as fast as Tree Gate could deliver. Great for ginger tea and golden milk. Sharon explains how they grow them: “The seed comes from Hawaii, arrives in March, and using a greenhouse and a lot of compost, we spend 7 months working to convince it that the Finger Lakes region is almost as wonderful a place to grow as the tropics. Unlike what you find at the grocery store, our uncured ginger is snappy and sweet, roughly the texture of an apple or a slice of water chestnut. And no peeling required! Just be sure to use or freeze within a week; it’s perishable.”
New this week: Cal’s Five-Color Radish Mix. The eagerly awaited October blend of yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and red. You can also get French breakfast radishes, which are tender, white and red, crunchy, with mild spice. Also Sora radishes, the classic, reliable, round red radish for all purposes. Also watermelon radishes. All these spicy little treats are versatile. Roast them. Make quick “fridge pickles” for a piquant addition to tacos, burritos, salads. Eat them raw to power up your personal spice.
Get bulk cider on sale through Sunday October 13! Hello, homebrew cider fans! Bring your 5-gallon carboys to Indian Creek by OCTOBER 13 and we will fill them with 100% unpasteurized cider for $30 each (only $6/gallon) OR $5/gallon when you buy 10-45 gallons (2-9 carboys) OR $4/gallon when you get 50 gallons (10 carboys). That’s backcountry moonshine prices! It’s the best cider we’ve had in years. Blend includes Mutsu, Gala, Empire, Mac, Autumn Crisp, Honeycrisp, Virginia Crab, and Elstar. Just leave your carboys inside the double doors at the farm stand with your name and number attached. We will call you when filled.
Pick the last peppers. Maybe tomatoes. Maybe eggplant. Farmer Steve’s official report from the nightshade field was: “Peppers, yes! Tomatoes, piddling along. Eggplant, piddling along.” You won’t find that kind of advanced crop reporting in the Farmers’ Almanac. No sirree, Bobby.
Love to y’all. Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.