Monthly Archives: October 2013

All Things Fall

By: Kelsey Johnson


Picture courtesy of Patch’s Pumpkins

There’s something about the liminal stage of fall that just feels so right. Maybe it’s all the beautiful colors that pepper the skyline, or the lingering anticipation over finally getting to wear that totally awesome, muscle-enhanced Superman costume your mom bought you, or the pumpkin-flavored everything, or the ephemeral reflections prompted by natural transitions. Or maybe it’s just nice that we can go outside without melting or freezing – a rare feeling for Iowans. Lucky for us, there are inexhaustible activities available for Greater Des Moinians to occupy our brisk afternoons over the coming month.

Buy Fresh Buy Local has loads of members that offer special fall activities on their farms, a perfect excuse to get out of town and into fresh air for a few blissful weekend hours. Bryan Etchen, owner of Iowa Orchard, says that when it comes to apples and pumpkins, “This has been the largest crop on record,” he said. “Best year ever. Let’s put it that way.”

That means there’s no need to fight for your ideal pumpkin. Take your time, stroll down the fields, and let the right canvas come to you. You know, those perfectly smooth-faced beauties ideal for transferring your Breaking Bad finale design. Plus while you’re there be sure to take a hay rack ride to Iowa Orchard’s “Farm Fun Zone,” Including: a Haybale Slide, Corn Box, Tire Obstacle Course, Face Painting, Badminton, and Horseshoe Toss.

But Iowa Orchard isn’t the only farm with fun for the whole family. Notable attractions of the Harvest Barn Pumpkin Patch include a 6 acre corn maze, double zip line races, glo mini golf, and family dodgeball. Or, if you’re looking for more of a challenge, Geisler Farms has a 10 acre corn maze perhaps more apt for wondering. (Thinking the opposite? Patch’s Pumpkins & Honey Farm has a ½ acre kids maze great for tiring out your toddler before naptime.)

However, if you’re simply looking for a way to get in on fall fun and don’t have a family following in tow, we have some more low-key ways to embrace the season. If you’re the type that would rather take a relaxing afternoon stroll while perusing apples and pumpkins, Wills Family Orchard has no entrance fee, and is located just 20 minutes west of West Des Moines. You can rent a fire pit at Howell’s Pumpkin Patch and Patch’s Pumpkins for family and friends. Or, for those who like to indulge, Picket Fence Creamery is hosting Octoberfest Sample Sunday on October 20th (can anyone say pumpkin ice cream?) and Gramercy Tap has Rocktoberfest scheduled for Friday the 18th starting at 8pm.

Whatever you decide, don’t forget to enjoy the simple pleasures of the changing season before winter claims the last of the tolerable temperatures. Patty from Howell’s Pumpkin Patch in Cumming Iowa, reflected on her favorite parts of the season earlier this week, “People coming out and visiting the farm and having a good time, and the people are here because they’re happy,” she said. “When you drive in and see the acres of flowers, pumpkins, gourds, squash, the flags hung on the barn, it just looks like someone painted a picture.”

What’s Fresh: Fall

  • By: Kelsey Johnson

Image courtesy of Patch’s Pumpkins


Ever remember hearing that if you ate too many carrots your skin would turn orange? Well, turns out that this piece of folklore isn’t all talk, and that eating anything with a high concentration of vitamin A (including our fall favorite – Pumpkin) can result in Hypercarotenemia, otherwise known as carotenosis. Luck for us, the ailment is completely harmless, and considering all the delicious, orange favorites in season this fall, we here at BFBL are taking on carotenosis as a badge of honor! If your skin isn’t the faintest bit orange (or more yellowish, if we’re getting hung up on details) you’re doing something wrong….


Speaking of, winter squash, apples, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peppers, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are all making their way to the tables of the dwindling number of markets left this season. And because October is the perfect time to get together with friends to cook, eat, and enjoy the last of the somewhat inhabitable Iowa climate (And also because I got carried away finding recipes for this week’s newsletter) we have even more to share than usual!


The first two (Butternut Squash Pizza, and Apple Crisp) are thanks to the Iowa Food Cooperative, the third (Pumpkin Bars) from Wheatsfield Cooperative, and the fourth (Iced and Spiced Apple Cider) is courtesy of allspice.

Butternut Squash Pizza

Cook time:  70 mins
Total time: 1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 2-3


    • 1 butternut squash (about 1 pound)
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • Pizza dough for 1 pizza
    • c. grated mozzarella cheese
    • c. grated Gruyere cheese
    • 12 sprigs parsley
    • 20 sage leaves
    • lemon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Slice off the top of the squash about ½ inch under the stem and slice just enough off the bottom to remove the remnants of the withered flower stem; be careful not to cut into the seed cavity.

3. Split the squash in half crosswise just above the bulge. Stand each half end up and carefully cut away all the skin. Cut each portion in half lengthwise and scoop the seed and fiber from the lower half with a spoon. Cut the quarters crosswise into ¼ inch slices. The upper portions will yield half moon slices, and the lower sections elongated C shapes.

4. Brush the slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and arrange them in one layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 to 60 minutes, checking from time to time. The roasting time will vary according to the sugar and moisture content and the density of the squash.  It is done when lightly browned and tender to the touch.

5. Meanwhile, peel and chop fine the garlic and add to the ¼ c. olive oil. When the squash slices are done, remove from the oven.

6. Put a pizza stone in the oven and boost the heat to 450 degrees.  Roll out a circle of pizza dough, brush with the olive oil and garlic, and sprinkle evenly with the mozzarella and Gruyere.

7. Arrange the slices of cooked squash over the cheese.

8.Bake the pizza for about 10 minutes, until the crust is browned and the cheeses have melted.

9.While the pizza is baking, chop the parsley leaves, Fry the sage leaves briefly in hot olive oil, then drain them on an absorbent towel.

10.When the pizza is done, garnish with the sage leaves, the chopped parsley, and a squeeze of lemon This is a very rich pizza, and is best served in small portions as an appetizer.


Makes one 12 inch-pizza.


Apple Crisp

Author: David and Linda Gobberdiel

Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 8


                  • 5 cups peeled and sliced apples
                  • 2-4 Tblsp. Granulated sugar
                  • ½ cup regular rolled oats
                  • ½ cup brown sugar
                  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour (can use whole wheat)
                  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg and cinnamon
                  • ¼ cup butter or margarine


1.Place fruit in 2-quart baking dish.
2.Stir in granulated sugar.
3.For topping, combine rest of ingredients in a medium bowl except butter/margarine. Then cut in butter/margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
4.Sprinkle topping over fruit.
5.Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes until fruit is tender and topping is golden.


Pumpkin Bars

                  • 1 c oil (canola)
                  • 1 c sugar
                  • 4 eggs
                  • 1 can pumpkin
                  • 2 tsp cinnamon
                  • 1 tsp baking soda
                  • 2 tsp baking powder
                  • 2 c flour (1 cup all purpose, 1 cup Paul’s 7 grain)
                  • 1/2 tsp salt
                  • 1 cup nuts or raisins

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.  Bake at 350 in a sheet cake pan for 20-25 minutes. Cool, then cut into bars.  (Dust with powdered sugar if desired).


Iced & Spiced Apple Cider

Who says spiced cider can’t be a refreshing summertime drink?


Start with 1/4 cup Mulling Spice Blend for every gallon of Apple Cider [or 1 Tbsp for each quart; use 1 tsp per generous mug]; Stir spice blend into cider in a saucepan, heat gently. Let mixture simmer for 15 min, and then pour over a glass of ice. Alternatively, let mixture cool in the fridge till nice and cold, then serve.

Sip – or slurp – and enjoy.

See? Not just for the wintertime.

What’s Happening: October 9

4th Annual Harvest Party, Drake University, October 13, 4pm-6pm
Following the success of previous years, the Greater Des Moines Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign will host the 4th Annual Harvest Party. (Watch a video from last year’s event and read about it in Jennifer Miller’s latest article from the Des Moines Register.)
This year’s party will feature a seven to ten course meal along with samples of Iowa wines and Zanzibar coffee. Have the chance to meet with farmers and the local businesses that suppoert them. Find out how to eat locally throughout the year. Order or purchase local food and farm products. Enter for the chance to win great raffle prizes from local farms and businesses. There are a limited number of tickets available. Ticket price $20/single or $50/family
Order tickets online or call (515)271-4956


Meet Me At The Bridge (Covered Bridges Winery) October 13, 6pm-10pm
Saturday evening event for everyone. 6 – 10pm. Free admission for music. Bring your lawn chairs. Music by Exit 113, Dinner and Commemorative Wine Glass – $15.00.. Lasagna dinner by Smokehaus Stockade, Wine samples by Covered Bridges Winery, and you can purchase by the bottle. Live and Silent Auction throughout the evening. Auction services provided by Garrisons. Save the Date and Meet us at the BRIDGE!!


Rocktoberfest, (Gramercy Tap) October 18, 8pm


Ryne Doughty @ Peacetree, October 19, 8pm-10pm
Peace Tree Brewing Co. is pleased to present an evening of live music with Ryne Doughty and special guest, Darren Matthews.Peace Tree requests a $5 cover on live music nights to help support our talented musicians. Tree House Club members pay no cover – ask how to join the club!


Octoberfest Sample Sunday (Picket Fence Creamery), October 20, 12pm-5pm
Rain or shine  –  FREE admission!
*Super Deals throughout the store filled with foods from over 100 Iowa families!


Wine & Canvas, October 20, 2-5pm
Sign up for the next Wine & Canvas event at Jasper Winery!


Trick-or-Treat at Jasper, October 26, 10am-6pm
For all you candy lovers out there, we’ve created perfect pairings for all your favorite Halloween candies. Visit the tasting room on Saturday, October 26 and purchase a flight of four wines and treats for $15. This is the perfect way to get ready for your costume parties that evening! Advance reservations are not required for the Hallowine flights.


Geisler Farms Fall Events – Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze 
Flashlight Friday Nights at Geisler Farms Through October – Begin your corn maze adventure between 5 and 8 p.m. to explore four miles of trails. Remember to bring a flashlight to read your maze map
October 19-20 Maze for Marfan Fall Fest – Join us for prime pumpkin picking during Maze for Marfan Fall Fest. Select from tons of pumpkins plus farm grown squash and watermelon. Explore the 10-acre corn maze. Geisler Farms will donate $1 for each paid corn maze admission to the Heart of Iowa Marfan Chapter. Kids can enjoy a dozen activities. Refreshments, gifts and restrooms are inside the Red Shed. Read more about hours and prices on their website.


Homemade Happy Hour Summer Cooking Demonstration Series, Every Other Monday 3pm – 5pm
These demonstrations will happen bi-weekly starting June 24th on Monday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the kitchen of Kitchen Collage. The event is free and there are many samples to be had! (Dates: October 14 & 28)


Food for Thought Dinners, Thursdays 5:30pm – 8pm  
The Wallace House invites you to a new program, “Food for Thought,” that combines locally-sourced dining with conversation about food. Diners will order from a changing menu of appetizers, entrees, and desserts created from local ingredients, including fruits and vegetables grown at the Country Life Center. Entrees range from $15-$20, appetizers $6-$8, and desserts $5. Bring your own wine. Reservations are encouraged, as seating is limited. Call 515-243-7063 or email carlahicklin@wa​
October 10: Bison and Elk
October 17: Organic Food
October 24: Iowa Wines
October 31: Grains