October in Chicagoland- corn mazes and pumpkins and delicious food!

Well, it took me almost a whole year to post these pictures! But I guess it’s OK because now is the time to go do this trip. We like to just get in the car and drive sometimes, so that’s what we did. We went up to Rockford, IL, then over to Madison, WI. Then came back down thru Wisconsin into Illinois again to a fun farm with pumpkins and a corn maze.

Rockford was kind of a bust. But we did find a The Wired Cafe that had espressos and a nice breakfast.

Breakfast Burrito from Wired Cafe,. Rockford,. IL

Breakfast Burrito from Wired Cafe,. Rockford,. IL

Madison is a cute college town! Lots of fun restaurants, bars, and cafes.

The view from our hotel in Madison, WI

The view from our hotel in Madison, WI

We had a great local WI type meal at The Old Fashioned in downtown Madison.

An Old Fashioned from The Old Fashioned in Madison, WI

An Old Fashioned from The Old Fashioned in Madison, WI

cheese curds in wisconsin

Cheese Curds! Sooooo Wisconsin

Mixed greens with Wisconsin cheese and local cherries

Mixed greens with Wisconsin cheese and local cherries

Is Wisconsin famous for chili?

Is Wisconsin famous for chili?

cobbler in wisconsin

Oh yeah, that’s cobbler

Breakfast was at Madison Sourdough, a great bakery with a pretty ambience.

Cafe latte from Madison Sourdough

Cafe latte from Madison Sourdough

ghost sign, madison, WI

I love old ghost signs

Heading back to Chicago, we stopped at Richardson’s Farm for pumpkins and a corn maze.

Corn maze at Richardson's Farm

Corn maze at Richardson’s Farm- it was hard!

Getting lost in the maze!

Getting lost in the maze!

Resting during our corn maze odyssey

Resting during our corn maze odyssey

Richardson's Farm, Illinois

Richardson’s Farm, Illinois

corn maze, richardson's farm, illinois

So Much Corn!

Fooling around at Richardson's.

Fooling around at Richardson’s.

We bought some pumpkins at Richardson's

We bought some pretty pumpkins

Blue Pumpkins

Blue Pumpkins?

Lots of pumpkins at Richardson's Adventure Farm

Lots of pumpkins

A petting zoo at Richardson's Adventure Farm

I love goats!

Overall it was a relaxing, fun Fall weekend.

 

October in Colorado- orchards and pumpkins and antiques!

Every October when we lived in Colorado we would go down to the Canon City/Penrose area to pick apples and pumpkins and say hello to Fall. It was a fun annual tradition.The weather is usually crisp and Fall-like but not yet cold. Not sure what’s going on down there this year seeing as how the whole state has been on fire or underwater for the past few months, but you could always call some of the orchards down there to find out. Here’s a list of a whole bunch of places all over Colorado. I noticed that our fave (and the one in most of these pictures), Third St. Apples, is closed for the season now. But there are still lots of others.

Penrose, Cañon City, and Florence are three little towns about 30 minutes south of Colorado Springs. Penrose is know for its farms. Cañon City is known for river rafting and the Royal Gorge Bridge. Florence is known for its many prisons, including Colorado’s SuperMax.

We go down there every year because those towns are a great place to experience an oldey-timey farm-ish fall day. We usually pick apples, check out some antique stores, have some lunch, and look at the changing leaves on the little country roads and bridges.

Here are some pictures of the places we always liked to go.

 

There are several good antique stores on Main St. in Forence, CO

There are several good antique stores on Main St. in Florence, CO

Hotel Florence under renovation, Florence, CO

Victorian brick building in Florence, CO

This old church is for sale- it would make a neat  live-work space. Florence, CO

This old church is for sale- it would make a neat live-work space. Florence, CO

One of my favorite farms, Colon Orchards, was on the way. We had the most fabulous apple turnover there one time and wanted to have another one. Alas, they don’t sell the apple turnovers there anymore! They did have my favorite honey, Bizzy Bee, which I was pretty happy about because just the day before I was trying to remember where it came from as I emptied the jar.

This farmhouse and pumpkin patch are for sale, across the street from Colon Orchards, Florence, CO

On to the burger stand which just happened to be across the street from the most awesome antique store around, Uncle Sam’s. Last year we came across a Victorian casket stand that was really cool there. We didn’t buy it but wondered if it they still had it! They have several buildings full of junk and tons of neat old stuff out in their yard, too.

Uncle Sam's Antiques, Canon City, CO

Uncle Sam’s Antiques, Canon City, CO

We decided to eat something at Big Burger World and then go over there.

Big Burger World, Canon City, CO

Big Burger World, Canon City, CO

It’s called BIG Burger World because most of their burgers are huge. Like half a pound or a pound or something insane. They also have a 3 oz. burger, so we got a couple of those and some fries and a blackberry milkshake to share.

3 oz. burger and fries from Big Burger World, Canon City, CO

3 oz. burger and fries from Big Burger World, Canon City, CO

Big Burger World, Canon City, CO

Big Burger World, Canon City, CO


All my apples. I shined them up- there’s no wax or anything on them. I don’t think they’re organic but they’re about as fresh and local as you can get. Picked them myself!

There’s still time to hit up the neighborhood farmers markets in Chicago!

Most of the markets run into the middle to end of October.  Our fave, the Green City Market is year round – once it gets cold it moves from the south end of Lincoln Park (approximately 1790 N. Clark) to inside the Nature Museum at 2430 N. Cannon Dr. in Lincoln Park. There are lots of other city sponsored markets, too! Chicago farmers markets are great- most of the vendors have signs explaining where the stuff came from and how it was grown. Lots of things come from less than 100 miles away! The best tomatoes and peaches outside of home grown come from these farmers markets- they are really really good. Sooo much better than the ones from the grocery store- even the ones that LOOK like they’d be tasty usually taste like nothing compared to locally grown super fresh ones.  So, yeah! There’s still time for you to grab some yummy fresh, local produce and make a salad or a pie.

colorful bell peppers from chicago farmers market
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farmers market sunflowers

farmers markets in chicago

farmers market sun flowers

How do you make toasted bread crumbs for salads?

I love toasted bread crumbs on salads. They add a sort of oldey timey restaurant fanciness, a nice crunch, and some added texture to what can sometimes be boring salads. They are a good substitution for bacon bits (it’s true!) because of the crunch factor. They’re easier to make and easier to eat than croutons and I like them better.

Here’s how I make them.

I always keep small pieces of stale bread, too small to do anything with pieces, and the ends of store bought loaves in a bag in the freezer. When I want to make bread crumbs I take a couple pieces out, microwave them for about 20 seconds to defrost them, and put them in the food processor for a few spins.

To make toasted bread crumbs I heat up a swirl of olive oil in a skillet, add the crumbs in a single layer, add a minced clove of garlic and maybe some dried herbs- I like a basic Italian seasoning. I cook them on medium, stirring the whole time (they burn easily). As soon as they smell nice and are golden brown I remove the pan from the heat and remove the bread crumbs from the pan (they will still cook in the hot pan and might burn).

I let them cool off a little then add them to salads. You could also use them in soups. They keep for up to a week in the fridge and a couple of slices of bread will make enough for 4 or 5 salad servings.

Yum!

I’m super into these toasted bread crumbs now but aside from salads and soups, where else can I use them??

how do I make toasted breadcrumbs for salads

Toasted bread crumbs make a delicious topping for salads.