From top, Gideon, Nicki, Jim and Jim at Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit

Where can you tromp through the snow, past a boarded-up building or two, downtown in a major American metropolis, and climb into your choice of early-morning, late-night, semi-dives serving the famed Coney Island?  New York?  No, Detroit, of course!

What is a Coney?  It’s a chili dog.  And a source of regional pride and oneupmanship.  And it’s hot and cheap and you can get it with fries.  While you’re at it, have a swig of local fave (and America’s Oldest Soft Drink), Vernor’s.Coney with everything and a cold can of Vernors

Did we mention this was the only time we let Nicki out of the trunk on our wee outing that day?  I hope the fries were worth it.

Halloween approaches and I am confronted with the prospect of Trick-or-Treaters!  I have candy.  I have a scarecrow (his name is Mr. Broomhead).  I have jack-o-lanterns.  Now we wait.

Oooh.  Scary.

Oooh. Scary.

This weekend I went to help out at my new CSA, Maple Creek Farm, during the absence of their crew due to a death in the family.  Click on any photo to enlarge.

It was great to meet my farmers, Danny and Michelle Lutz, and see sustainable organic farming in action.  I also learned why I don’t want to be a farmer myself.  Ow.  Just, ow.

But, Oh, the perks of volunteering!  Midday melon feasts on sun-warmed cantaloupes and watermelons; first pick of the slightly blemished heirloom tomatoes; all-I-could-pick gorgeous raspberries.  Of course the food is all divine and beautiful and I couldn’t be happier.  Especially now that I can walk upright again.

A pretty bean pest.

A pretty bean pest.

Share boxes being readied for packing.

Share boxes being readied for packing.

Maple Creek is organic and GMO-free – as long as they can keep it that way.  Danny waits to plant his feed corn, for example, until later in the season, to avoid the risk of cross-pollination with his neighbor’s genetically-modified corn.  “He goes to church on Sunday, but he thinks he can do better than the Almighty.”  Neither of them can stop the birds, bees or wind, though, so “genetic drift” is really only a matter of time.

Pickin beans.

Pickin' beans.

Of course, Danny and Michelle are familiar with my old CSA, Angelic Organics, and with the documentary film about its farmer.  When I rolled into their drive with my Illinois license plates, Danny immediately exclaimed, “You’re the one from John Peterson!  Angelic Organics!  I love that movie.  Tears were streaming down my face.  That man has…other talents.”  And Michelle was indebted to The Real Dirt on Farmer John for her conveyor belt epiphany.  “When I saw them packing the boxes with a conveyor belt, I didn’t sleep that night.  I had to have one.”  And have one she does!  We made pretty short work of the 240 shares we packed and loaded into the truck on Monday evening.

The first of two raspberry tarts I made this week.

The first of two raspberry tarts I made this week.

And I got to take home a leftover melon!

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