Friday, October 19, 2012

Field Trip: Arthur, Illinois

Today was a dreary, drizzly, fall day.  Since I finished my housework yesterday and had the day off from work today, I decided to head out on a field trip with my dear friend, Dusty.  Arthur, Illinois is a small town of about 2,300 in central Illinois and is predominately Amish.  It is about a 40 minute drive from my house - though I underestimate the time it takes every time I go!  Dusty and her husband farm in the country near Arthur, so a field trip is a perfect opportunity to catch up on each other's lives.

We met first at Beachy's Bulk Food Store.  I was impatient (and late) on my way out and turned a mile too early and found myself in the midst of dairy farms and buggies with no bulk foods in sight!  After "going around the block" and a mile further to the east I saw the sign and found the store.

It was a busy day in Beachy's so I didn't take any pictures inside.  It was also probably too dark.  The store interior is lit by skylights and on dark days, like today, gas lights.  I found the fine-ground wheat flour and vital wheat gluten that I use for bread.  Picked up a couple of beautiful, bartlett pears.  I also purchased some whole allspice and star anise for holiday baking - I usually only make it down to Beachy's once every 3-6 months. After we paid for our finds (cash or check only), Dusty suggested going to Shady Crest Orchard and Farm Market.  I had never been there before, though I have passed it several times on the way to the Great Pumpkin Patch.

Shady Crest had a beautiful outdoor display of pumkins, squashes and mums.

Inside, we found bags and boxes of apples, fresh baked pumkin bread, cookies and pies.  I was excited to find unpasteurized apple cider.  If you have never had unpasteurized cider, it is worth the effort to find some or make it yourself.  It is like drinking the very soul of an apple!  Shady Crest also had a full deli counter complete with Lebanon Bologna.  I did not think that anyone sold Lebanon Bologna this far west!  The girl behind the counter confirmed my suspicions that they order it from Pennsylvania.  My parents sometimes bring us a pound from Beilers Penn Dutch Market in Uniontown, Ohio when they come to visit.  Really, if you added electricity and a deli counter to Beachy's you would have Beilers.  So my NE Ohio friends should not despair of their distance from these fine stores! 

Overall, I had a wonderful visit with Dusty and brought home some treasures for my pantry.  A warm, bright spot for an otherwise dreary day!

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