A Trip Home for Pumpkin Patch Treats

By: Kirsten Vala

A trip home to my parents’ farm, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch in Nebraska, was all about family, friends and great food. I spent most of my weekend mingling, catching up with my pumpkin patch family (including 500+ part-time, seasonal employees) and trying to eat everything in sight.

Farms aren’t usually known for smelling good, but when you walk into Vala’s you're greeted by the aroma of coffee and freshly baked cinnamon rolls. (When the craving hits, try Cinnamon Rolls from Food Network Magazine for a similar homemade version.)

The coffee house is named after me, since I started it years ago. Bragging rights, right?

Working your way around the farm, two can't-miss, signature treats are caramel apples and kettle corn, foods I crave all year.

Here's a fresh apple being dipped into a cauldron of perfectly melted caramel. To make caramel apples at home, check out this recipe: Perfect Caramel Apples. And don't miss our toppings bar.

Like many festivals, fried foods are sure-fire favorites. I've spent hours and hours in front of Vala's fryers, making funnel cakes, potato ribbons, French fries and onion rings. Yumm! Food Network's Spider Web Fritters make a great homemade goodie, if you want to fry up your own Halloween treat.

The most popular drink on the farm is Vala's own root beer.

And you can never go wrong with a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookie. Check out all of our devilish desserts for Halloween. Or, you can also try a pumpkin main course, like Paula's Pumpkin Baked Ziti or Rachael's Pumpkin Penne.

Munching my way around the farm, I was amazed by all the Food Network fans I ran into (people I never would have guessed liked cooking and/or Paula Deen). And even though I work for the Web site, everyone had the same request: "You should bring Food Network to Vala's!" I don't know about that, but I did bring a backpack full of Vala's food back to New York City with me. You really can't beat the kettle corn! Once I run out, I'll rely on Paula Deen's  caramel corn to get me through until my next trip home.

- Kirsten, Web Editor
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