And just like that. . . just when you thought I was gone for good….I’m back! That’s right, after a month long hiatus from the blogosphere I have reemerged just in time for a post devoted to one of my all-time favorite fruits: apples.
Here in New York, we consider ourselves particularly devoted to apples; we produce more apples than any other state in the Union, gave birth to the Big Apple that is New York City, and even have a variety of apple (Empire) befitting of our state nickname (The Empire State). Here it isn’t a matter of if you’ll go apple picking, it’s when. Ask a local which farm they frequent and you’ll end up going twelve rounds over this one versus that one. Indicate that you’re skipping the ritual and people will question your health. You get the picture; apples are important.
However, not all New Yorkers appreciate the holy practice of apple picking. Every year my husband tries to mask his look of relief when I tell him that I just had to schedule our annual pilgrimage to the farm on a weekday afternoon. The first few years after the boys were born he
suffered shuffled through the orchard with a feigned smile attempting to enjoy himself while sifting through the weekend crowd sherpa-ing toddlers and bushels of apples. After the twentieth rendition of, “Do these apples really taste better than the ones from the store?” I let it go. I let the family apple orchard picture and all the frustration joy that comes with it go and decided to just save all that fun for the Christmas card photo.
|(Don’t worry, this is not the Christmas card photo!)|
At mid-October, we were already past the peak of the season of a crop already devastated from a warm winter and freezing April. If we didn’t get to picking, there would be nothing left to be had and the season would have passed us by. Remember — missing apple season is a cardinal autumnal sin. Still, Doug looked at me as if I’d said I’d just committed to a marathon when I told him where we were headed, suitcases still in the foyer.
|I lost count of how many perfectly acceptable trees we passed in our hunt for the “perfect” one…|
|We may have eaten more than our fair share…|
When we got to the farm, we were told there were only two varieties left in plenty: Golden Delicious and McLeans. My precious Braeburns, Galas, Empires, and Granny Smiths had been gone for weeks. Knowing that Golden Delicious are a great baking apple, we accepted our terms and got busy. All together, the boys picked almost 30lbs of apples — way more than enough! And since we didn’t need to scour the orchard covering all my favorite varieties, we covered our territory in just under an hour. I did the math, and from the touchdown of our plane to departure from the orchard was just under 3 hours. Not bad.
|Sweetest apple picker you’ll ever find.|
When we got home, we cleaned through the apples to remove any excess leaves and get rid of any of the unripened little guys that often sneak into the bags per pairs of little hands. Even still, we had apples for days. Naturally, Doug came home, took one look at the apples in the garage and said, “Only picked what you needed, huh?” I returned with a glance that read, “Happy wife, happy life.”
About a week later I set out to make use of every ounce of what we had picked. One of my favorite things about apples is that, given the right environment, they keep their freshness for a very long time. Especially when you compare them to many of the other fruits we pick, like berries. A few bushels of apples in a cool garage will keep for a couple of weeks without worry. It gives you plenty of time to figure out what you’re going to do with all those apples you
I have a lot of friends ask what my go-to recipes are for apples, and I’m sharing links for them here. Apple sauce, apple butter, and apple pie filling have been a part of my repertoire for years, but this year I also had an pumpkin-apple bread recipe to the mix. I doubled the recipe and threw a loaf in the freezer for any last minute coffee guests who turn up, and preserved my pie filling in enough mason jars to last us almost through an entire season of pies, cobblers, dumplings, and strudels. (I also love a few tablespoons of hot pie filling over vanilla ice cream — unbelievable!) Of course, it wouldn’t be a post of mine if I didn’t throw in a battle-tested apfelkuchen (apple cake) recipe. The one I am sharing is one of a traditional apfelkuchen found in the southern parts of Germany, where my family is from.
Here are the links:
Hope you enjoy the recipes! Am doing my best to be back with another menu post next week. Life has gotten the best (and the worst) of me during these past few weeks but I feel as though I’m finally beginning to regain my grip. Something I’ve learned over the past 18 months in my reentry to the workforce is knowing when you’ve got to say when. Even if you don’t want to. But I’ve missed this little blog so much and am determined to not let another week, let alone another month go by without giving it my love.
So until next time…
|How do ya like them apples, little brother?|