Autumn times, the Arnold Palmer, Space Age food and more

Harvest time, Vegas-style

There's nothing like a country drive in early fall when the trees are just turning to yellow and the fields, done with their summery maturation, offer up their vegetal bounties.

Now Mojave environs are not the greenbelt homelands so many Vegas transplants are used to in this usually colorful season. This is no Appalachia, no New England, no Ozark Plateau, no Upper Midwest filled with agriculture and turning leaves. Hell, I'm from up I-15 barely a day's drive away -- sagebrush-filled and semi-arid southern Idaho is a verdant pasture compared to the Mojave.

But there is irrigation here in Southern Nevada and there is a little corner of autumnal Americana in glam Vegas. You'll just have to drive past palm trees and flowering hedges (read: subdivisions) to find apple trees and rows of corn stalks.

Over at big Gilcrease Orchard and tinier The Farm, you'll find some good old agriculture ... the kind you can buy and take home, too.

At the huge Gilcrease Orchard, you pay $2 a head to drive the circumference of the property. I drove through this Sunday morning, when hundreds of families were harvesting their own pumpkins and melons from the fields. It's a true family affair.

The good melon pickings seemed picked over, though maybe smaller gourds will grow larger for gathering later into the waning months of the year. There's been no frost, and the Gilcrease melon patches are filled with big yellow flowers. [I'm no botanist, meteorologist, agriculturalist, so I don't know if Vegas gets a second harvest – it does get cold here – but more pumpkins would be nice]

I left Gilcrease through the long lines (two) of cars paying for produce by the pound. I did not pick but bought some incredibly good and cheap apple cider in a liter bottle. I also picked up two pomegranates which need some ripening. This cost a scant two bucks plus change. (The cider is delicious.)

(Check out Kate Silver's great Weekly story "Cactus - it's what's for dinner" on slow food and organic eats in Vegas.)

I then headed just across the corner to The Farm. This is the decades old five-acre plot and house owned and operated by a local family.

There's a lot less human traffic to and from The Farm. But there's much more animal life there.

Along with a sizable collection of interesting and often unique varieties of pumpkins and squashes to be purchased, the Farm is filled with cute critters. There was a slinky cat running from sunny spots to shady refuges among the pumpkin stacks. There's also a charming, curious and gregarious little three month-old white peacock named Pearl, fuzzy pelted rabbits, numerous exotic chickens, a goat and a miniature horse loving the environment down in a paddock below the patio/observation deck of the farm house.

The Farm supplies organic eggs of rarer poultry varieties to walk-up customers and a few local restaurants. You can get your non-irradiated and non-pasteurized albumen there.

Vegas may be a Mojave megalopolis, but it's good to keep pockets of agriculture in the urban/suburban midst. But city-style pressures abound, mostly financial and land-use related, so be sure to visit and give your patronage to these places. Keep them viable. Take the kids. Enjoy the produce. Pet the rabbits and goat. Say hello to Pearl the white peacock.

Check out my video report on Gilcrease Orchard and The Farm.

A legend, a beverage

Have you enjoyed an “Arnold Palmer?”

It's a tasty half-and-half mix of unsweetened iced tea and lemonade. It's been pinned with the name Arnold Palmer. If you were unaware until now, eponymous Palmer is here to hand you a refreshing drink. Now you can grip a tallboy of Arnold, complete with vibrant black-and-white sporting can art.

There are levels of fame ... becoming a drink is pretty much the hole-in-one.

It's Arnold Palmer's 19th hole. We just drink in it.

Spacey food

In this 50-year anniversary of that beeping Soviet satellite Sputnik, I'd like to give a modern age shout out to some technologically advanced foods that the Space Race ushered in: dehydrated “Astronaut ice cream,” Tang, sealed and processed microwave food portions, food-in-a-tube.

In space, no one can hear you scream for a nice Cesar salad and a glass of Perrier with slice of lime.

But in Las Vegas you can purchase some Astronaut ice cream at REI in The District. Unwrap and, um, enjoy. Impromptu model (and colleague) Jaime is an avowed lover of the Astronaut ice cream. Witness her powdery delectation of a dehydrated ice cream sandwich to the right.

Now launch from your nostalgic pad with with Sigue Sigue Sputnik's “Shoot Em Up.”

Deep-fried video bonus

Please enjoy a greasy serving of supping and snacking with Southern Culture on the Skids' “Camel Walk.” I offer up a big heaping platter of Little Debbie snacks for your finger likin' delight.

(This blog entry was harvested and served up with a psychedelic side order of Love's “Forever Changes.”)

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