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Apple Adventures

October 10, 2009

Well, last weekend the boy and I finally went appling over at Apple Hill Farm near New Paltz. We picked peck bags of Opalescents and Northern Spys (the boy’s favorite), and grabbed few Rome Beauties and Bosc pears out of giant wooden bins they had trucked in from another farm. It was a pretty nice day out, though it did try to spit rain at us while the sun was shining. Here’s a picture:

Me at Apple Hill Farm with my baby: a peck of Opalescents

Yes, that’s really me! Anywho, so we’ve had two giant bags of apples for about a week now, plus a few Honeycrisps still left over from the last appling foray and one aging Ginger Gold. So, since today is my day off, I decided to make applesauce with a few (and with apples this size, it only takes a few!).

When I was very young we lived in a 1901 square, single story house with a big old apple tree out back. I could see it from my bedroom window in the back of the house. One year we had a HUGE bumper crop of apples. I mean, we were giving them away by the paper grocery bag full and found we didn’t have enough friends to foist them off on, so we were handing them out to the neighbors and whoever would take them. This is my earliest memory of my mom making applesauce. I think she put up maybe 30 or 40 quarts that year. I don’t remember if she actually canned them, or just froze them in canning jars in our chest freezer, but we had applesauce year-round.

And boy was it good applesauce! Not the mealy, flavorless, “smooth” stuff you get from the grocery store. No pointy metal sieve and wooden pestle for my mom! Instead, she did applesauce the easy way: Wash and peel the apples, cut them into quarters, core them, and slice the long way into a pot with a little water and sugar and let them simmer down. The ones that go in first turn into the soft “sauce” part and the later ones remain in varying degrees of firmness (but never crunchy). A little apple pie (or pumpkin pie) spice and served hot or cold, it was delicious. It was one of my favorite desserts growing up.

Today I’m trying something a little different. I melted some brown sugar and a couple tablespoons of pure maple syrup in the bottom of the pan, added a 1/4 cup of water, and then started tossing in apples. I may need to add more sugar, but we’ll see. My mom’s recipe always used white granulated sugar, so I’m interested to see how this stuff turns out. I was going for a more caramel-y flavor, but we’ll see.

In high school I used to bring my lunch every day and I remember bringing applesauce once and a friend asking if I was eating apple pie filling. So that should give you an idea of what the finished product looks like. Except a little pinker and not so goopy.

At any rate, I just thought I’d update quickly before I disappear for a few days. When the boy gets home we’re headed upstate for his parents’ and to fix his Jeep, the tires of which need alignment. He also needs a haircut. The boy that is, not the Jeep. And guess where his stylist lives? Lol… Ah well, at least we’re not putting more milage on the Vibe this time!

I’m starting to get the hang of my job, though when school groups come it’s still extremely hectic. I also miss not having more time to cook! Although this week wasn’t too bad. We had some friends over to help us move our dresser upstairs and I made penne alfredo with broccoli, chicken, onions, and mushrooms. It was pretty good! I just made a white sauce, added some shredded parmesan and extra milk, salt & pepper, then poured it over the pasta & steamed broccoli. The chicken, onions, and mushrooms I sauteed in a little olive oil in my “new” enameled cast iron fry pan that my mom bought for me before my move. It’s from the 1970s but looks brand new and is from Norway. It’s cute and brown with stylized white leaves around the sides. It even has a lid! This was my first time using it, but I think I’m going to use it a lot more often, now! I put in too much oil (used to cooking on aluminum) to get the chicken to brown nicely but nothing stuck, either. The chicken, onions, and mushrooms got drained from the oil & tossed with the pasta, too. It was delicious.

At any rate, I should probably go pack for our trip. Can’t wait to see the fall colors up there. They’re about halfway turned down here. Fingers crossed we don’t get any snow. I heard my homestate of ND already has some! And it’s not even Halloween yet! Thankfully the East Coast seems to have longer autumns. : )

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One Comment leave one →
  1. vintagejenta permalink*
    October 10, 2009 2:30 PM

    UPDATE: I just tried the sauce, and while the apples themselves are very flavorful, the quasi-caramelizing of the brown sugar and maple syrup gives them a deep, mellow dimension that I actually really like!

    P.S. If you don’t already know, Opalescents and Northern Spys are heirloom varieties. Opalescents are (from what I’ve experienced so far), giant, relatively thin-skinned, and rosy red with a less-than crisp texture, not much juice, but an incredible sweet-tart flavor that I adore. Northern Spys are green and red with thin skin, green-tinged flesh, and are incredibly crisp and juicy. The flavor is less sweet than Opalescents, but also has a sweet-tart flavor going on. I like them both, but I like Opalescents better. : )

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