Ok, ok. I know. The email should have come yesterday. It must have been something in that sunny country air, because I found myself doing quite a bit of sleeping… On this most yucky and rainy Tuesday morning, I wish I could continue on the same track, but alas, the week must begin sometime!
Sunday’s Day A Whey trip to Sprout Creek Farm was a real knockout of a fall day, complete with resplendent foliage, plenty of sunshine, and more food than we knew what to do with. Our day began (after a slight directional hiccup, eh-hem, and an admittedly dorky screening of a movie entitled ‘Living on the Wedge’) at Sprout Creek Farm, established back in 1982 as an educational center for kids. To say that nuns Margo Morris and Sue Rogers were ahead of their time is a gross understatement. The two enterprising women founded Sprout Creek Farm as they began to realize that more and more, children were losing touch with nature, with the source of their food, and spending more time getting snuggly with their tv sets and fruit roll-ups. Now, that’s not to say there isn’t some lovely nostalgia surrounding fruit roll-ups… I myself probably consumed hundreds of the sticky little pancakes, but you get the idea.
When the farm moved to their current site in Poughkeepsie from Connecticut, Margo and Sue’s ideas and programs truly began to flourish. Today Sprout Creek offers camping and overnight trips for kids of all ages, and produces everything from fresh veggies, to chickens, pork, and lamb, to honey and cheese. They started up their creamery about 10 years ago with a line of three cheeses, but have really hit their stride in the past two years with cheese maker Colin McGrath. Colin took time out of his busy, cheesy schedule to share with us the intricacies of cheese making, starting with the little innocuous sounding strains of bacteria all the way through to a finished wheel of cheese. As we listened to Colin’s talk, the day’s cheese making was in full effect. The words curds and whey went from nursery rhyme fodder to reality as we watched the curds be stirred, drained, and then spiritedly packed and smushed into molds to await the brine tank. Colin, a self-professed lover of all things fermented, also makes his own beer at home, the perfect accompaniment (in my opinion) to the array of cheeses made at Sprout Creek. Maybe on the next trip we can incorporate a little lesson in brewing too??
After all that talk of cheese, bellies were rumbling, so we retired to the barn for a big old picnic lunch, replete with salad, breads, cheese (of course!) and cider. Now we all know what the best follow up to a glorious Sunday lunch should be… nap time. Even if everyone didn’t lay down in the grass for a little shut-eye in the sun, there was plenty of relaxing going on. I found the homemade peppermint stick ice cream in the creamery too good to pass up, and opted for a cone instead of a snooze.
Our next stop was Terhune Orchard, a charming little place just down the road in a town called Pleasant Valley. I mean, seriously, you’d think that all those folks upstate would just be content with their gorgeous parcels, but no, they’ve got to rub in all in up our Brooklyn and East Village faces and call them things like ‘Pleasant Valley.’ Well, dang it, they’re right. To call that spot anything other than pleasant would be an out and out lie. For it being so late in the season, there were a surprising variety of apples left to be had, and we waltzed out of there with scores of Empires, Winesaps, Granny Smiths, Golden Delicious, the list goes on and on… I witnessed more than one person, bag overflowing, try to cram in just one more crispy little orb, thoughts of pie and apple sauce and streusel in their heads. Or maybe that was just me. I now have more apples than I know what to do with, and am seriously thinking, at the risk of being labelled the dreaded, health-freak old lady, of dispensing with some of them during trick or treating at the Essex Street Market.
So, I hope you all have a most happy, apple and cheese filled week, and check out the pictures of the trip online when you get a minute. (I promise I’ll get to that by tomorrow!) Our last Day A Whey was a true delight. Many thanks to everyone for schlepping along with us!
Until next year… we might just plan a Sprout Creek camp out ourselves!