A Trip Home for Pumpkin Patch Treats

by in View All Posts, October 29th, 2009

Caramel Apple
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.

Vala's Cinnamon RollsFarms 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?
Vala's Coffee House

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

Dipping Caramel AppleHere’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.

Funnel Cake
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.

Root Beer
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.

Kettle Corn
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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Comments (13)

  1. Lindsay H. says:

    This is an amazing Fall tradition here in Nebraska. I have grown up at Vala's and now have passed it on to my children. The added bonus to the fun and pumpkins is the food is wonderful and I have to agree with Kirsten on the smell, that brings back memories in it's own! If anyone is in the midwest during the October month it is well worth the trip.

  2. Angie M. says:

    I noticed the fudge was not mentioned. I love love love the fudge! I just bought some and I had to hide it from my husband and kids or it would be gone in a matter of hours. :-) Not only is it good, but I can not believe the variety they have. I have to keep coming back every just to try every flavor they have. It will take me forever to taste them all. Which doesn't bother me, I love Vala's!

  3. Miranda says:

    How could you miss the fudge shoppe? Ohhh, the fudge is my favorite spot at Vala's! I've gone every year since I can remember! It's such a fantastic family tradition, and I plan on continuing it for years to come!

  4. Lana says:

    I have to have a chili bread bowl in the cafe. They are always so good.

  5. Colleen Richardson says:

    Kristen, what a well-written aritcle on Vala's. I was happy to return to Vala's for my second year now. I plan to return every year and make funnel-cakes and serve turkey legs. Your mom is such a sweetheart, and I've met your dad, you and your sister, briefly, this fall. Keep up the good work and I'm excited to look at your recipes.
    Colleen Richardson

  6. Jo F says:

    I moved from Omaha, NE just over 2 years ago. Vala's Pumpkin Patch was a tradition for my daughter and I every fall. There is absolutely nothing even CLOSE to it here and I so miss being able to go! One day, I hope to get back there in October just so I can visit Vala's!

  7. Debi Regier says:

    We love the succotash and the Sweet Potato Chips.Yummy.And of course,Colleen Richardson's wonderful service! ;;

  8. Tammy says:

    Kirsten, do you have the recipe for the popcorn balls that you can share? I missed getting to see you when you were back. The 3 weeks I stayed with the family and helped was so fun. I helped with what ever was needed from bagging 2400 popcorn balls to ironing the valances for the country bakery. even sewed the head onto a scarecrow. next year I'd like to go back and help mid Sept thru October. Your folks work so hard to bring it all together every year. People just don't realize what it involves. Its alot of work with rewards of seeing families having a good time.

  9. Marilyn Ash says:

    Vala's Pumpkin Patch is an awesome place to work during their fall season. It is amazing how they can organize 500+ employees to work together for the 5-6 weeks they are open each year. Tiim and Jan Vala for very friendly, down-to-earth people whose daughters grew up working right along side them. It is so much fun to see visitors enjoying themselves year after year. Vala's is truly a bright star in this area of the midwest.

  10. Vesper says:

    How cool is this? I bit of home grown fall tradition on the FN site! I love Vala's! You are never too old for having fun! Love the bonfires and hayride—and just everything about it!

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