Tag Archives: apples

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011

The start of a new year is always a time for reflection on the past, and hope for the opportunities yet to come.  This year my family starts with some setbacks, but I am optimistic that the future will be bright despite the hurdles before us.

Although this blog was “born” in 2009, last year was my first full year blogging.  Sometimes I did a better job than others.  Posting regularly was a challenge for me at times but I hope to have a better go of it this year.  I’m not going to resolve to post daily or even weekly, but I think that posting more frequently is a good goal, as ambiguous as it is.  Challenges like the Spice Rack Challenge with its required monthly posts and the Dark Days Challenge with bi-monthly posts until April will help me stay motivated, but so will various things on my 101 in 1001 list (which I fully intend to complete).

But, as a farewell to the year gone by I present:

The Top Ten Posts of 2010

  1. Homemade Fabric Softener
  2. 28 Day Challenge Final Results
  3. June Can Jam~ Herbed Strawberry-Balsamic Jam
  4. Crusty Round Loaves of Homemade Bread
  5. How I Made Homemade Soap (and Didn’t Screw it up)
  6. Lavender’s Blue . . . (April Can Jam)
  7. How to Make Your Own Soap (Concluded)
  8. Homemade Laundry Detergent
  9. Everything but Apple Jacks?
  10. Can Jam Challenge Round Three ~ Jerked Onion

I was surprised that some of the posts made the list, but in general I wasn’t.  This blog is (mostly) about me getting back to slower times, cooking and cleaning in a way that is more sustainable.  So I shouldn’t be surprised that most of the posts on the list are in that vein: recipes for homemade food, instructions for preserving your harvests and recipes for cleaning in a more gentle manner. 

And, I was glad to see my three favorite canning recipes make the list!

Happy New Year,

Angela

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Chai Spiced Apple Rings? ~ November Can Jam

When the theme for this month’s Can Jam was announced, I was excited.  Apples are just about the perfect choice for me now.    They are in season and in abundance here and I have a lot of experience with them.  I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  I wanted to try something new and exciting.  Rosemary Apple Butter?  Apple Chutney of some exotic variety? 

I’ve never made an apple butter.  The term “apple butter” has always kind of turned me off to it.  I don’t know why; it’s just one of those things. 

Chutney seems exciting, but it intimidates me.  Not because I don’t think I can make it, but because I don’t know what the heck I’d do with all those jars of chutney once I canned them.  Put them on the shelf to look pretty?  Eat them out of the jar with a spoon? 

So, as much as I really wanted to try something daring and new, I decided to stick with something familiar.  Last year I canned cinnamon apple slices for the first time.  They were delicious, but the experimental jar I made with chai spices was fabulous.  I actually ate the whole jar with a spoon.  Okay, I actually used a fork but the point is that once I started eating them I couldn’t stop.  So I present to you:

Apple sauce or apple rings?
Chai Spiced Apples

Chai Spiced Apple Rings
Made just over 7 pints.
(Based on a recipe I found at Myownlabels.com)

  • Vinegar-salt solution:
  •  2 Tbsp white vinegar
  •  2 Tbsp salt
  •  1 gallon cold water
  • 10 lbs. Apples  (I used 3 lbs. of Ida Reds from my 9 Bean Rows CSA share, 6 lbs. of Ida Reds from Maple Ridge Orchards and a pound of Jonathan apples from Maple Ridge .)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 quart water
  • 2 T. cinnamon
  • 7 candied ginger medallions
  • 1 one inch piece of vanilla bean
  • 42 cardamom seeds
  • 42 pepper corns
  • 14 cloves
  • 7 star anise
  • 7 cinnamon sticks
Automatic apple slicer thingy

Dylan slicing apples

 

Mix salt and vinegar in 1 gallon of cold water; stir until salt is dissolved.
Wash, peel, core and slice apples and submerge the slices in the vinegar brine to prevent discoloration.  I like to use my handy-dandy apple slicing machine which peels, cores and slices all at once.  (And no, that’s not an Ida Red on the slicer, it’s a Yellow Delicious we dehydrated.)

Mix sugar, water, candied ginger, vanilla bean and cinnamon in a large sauce pot. 
Bring syrup to boil and boil gently for five minutes.
Remove syrup from heat and add apples.  
Allow the apples to rest in the syrup for ten minutes. 
Return pan to heat, bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool thoroughly.

While the apples and syrup are cooling, prepare your jars, lids and boiling water bath (BWB): Wash jars and caps.  Place rack in canning pot and add jars.  When the apples are nearly cool, bring the BWB to a boil.  Turn down heat but keep jars in simmering water until ready to fill.

Once the apples and syrup have thoroughly cooled, remove apple slices and vanilla bean.  Cut vanilla open and scrape the seeds out.  Add the vanilla seeds to the syrup and return to a boil.

ready for fruit

Aromatics in the hot jar awaiting the addition of apples and syrup.

 

When the syrup is ready add one of the candied ginger medallions, a star anise, 6 peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and 6 cardamom seeds to each prepared jar.
Pack the apple slices loosely in hot jars.
Fill the jars with boiling syrup leaving 1/2″ head space.
Wipe rims of jars, add lids and rings and process pint jars in BWB for 15 minutes.
Try not to open the jars for a few weeks to allow the spices to have time to really mingle in the jar.

The verdict:
If my goal was spiced apple rings, this recipe was an EPIC FAIL. 

This could be for two reasons (that I can think of; there are probably numerous other reasons that I haven’t even considered). 
The first reason is that I soaked the apples too long which caused them to soak up a lot of water and turn to mush when I cooked them.  I’m not sure that this is the reason because some of the apples kept their shape despite being soaked. 
The second (and most logical) reason some of the apples turned to mush is that they have been stored outside for three weeks.  Yes, it is cool outside now, but we’ve had many sunny, warm days.  Apples like to stay cool all the time, not just most of the time.  Some of the apples kept their shape beautifully.  While I can’t identify individual apples from the slices in the jars, I’m assuming that the CSA apples that I got Saturday morning are the apples that held their shape. 

Maybe I did make a chutney after all.

The jar on the right is a jar of spiced apple slices from last year. The jar on the left is the sauce? Syrup? Chutney? I made today.

HOWEVER, if my goal was a syrupy-sweet apple sauce, or an amazing topping, this recipe was a complete success.  The vanilla added a heavenly aroma and subtle flavor even when mingled with the other powerful spice flavors.  I think this will be a great addition to our Christmas brunch on pancakes and waffles or served with homemade vanilla ice cream.

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Dairy Queen

Feta brined and ready for the fridge.

 

As a school teacher, it is easy to settle into the lazy days of summer.  For three months I hike, run, garden, cook, walk to the Farmers’ Market, take my kids to the beach and actually read grown-up type books that I enjoy.  This summer I also started canning again after a long hiatus and started making my own cheese and yogurt.  I’d make a new batch of cheese every week.  I started with mozzarella, tried feta and then moved on to hard cheeses.  After a few batches, my husband even built me a cheese press.  While each cheese has its merits, feta is by far my favorite.  I have always loved feta, so when I found out how easy it was to make,  I became even more enamored by its crumbly goodness.  

But, summer inevitably comes to an end.  When September rolled around this year, I started to panic.  Not only did I have to go back to work, but I had a class that I had to complete homework for and attend every week.  How would I keep cooking good, homemade food?  Where would I find the time to can? How would I go to the Farmers’ Market, pick berries, bake bread or make yogurt and cheese???  My life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.  I didn’t know how I was going to manage all the things I needed to do.  

At one point, I was so distraught that I would come home from work and cry to my husband.  I wanted to run away and live on a farm off the grid.  None of this had anything to do with the actual work that I do every day; I love my job.  I love working with kids and knowing that I’m making a difference.  My distress was all about my lack of time.  I needed to adjust and I didn’t know how.  

Cordon Bleu and Parmesan

Better than Zoloft.

 

While I’ve wanted chickens ever since I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” last summer, part of me needed them after school started.  I researched and researched chickens.  I learned about different breeds.  I learned about how many eggs chickens lay and what color they are.  I researched ordinances  and the legality of chickens here in the city.  I spent hours researching chicken coops and chicken care.   Getting chickens was my way of running away and living on a farm without having to really run away.  Chickens weren’t a step away from the life I was living, but they were a step towards the life I want to be living.  The impact those girls had on my mental health still amazes me.  While they didn’t create any more time for me, they did remind me that there were things I could do to have the life I want.  

Where's the coffee?

Even the undead need their exercise.

 

Since the girls arrived in September I’ve started adding elements of my “summer life” back into my real life.  I hike three to five days a week.  I haven’t managed to keep running regularly but I did run the Traverse City Zombie run and I’m signed up to do the Turkey Trot 5k Thanksgiving morning.  I haven’t done much in the garden, but I planted a row of blueberry plants and I’ve got raspberries, grapes and soapwort waiting to go into the ground.   I may not cook a homemade “slow” dinner seven nights a week, but I try to cook a “real” dinner for my family most nights and still try to eat as much local food as I can.  I cook vats of soup on the weekends to freeze for lunches.  I even signed up for the “Dark Days” challenge to try to cook a completely local meal at least once a week.   I managed to can some tomatoes, jam and jelly and found time to can (and pick) countless apples.  I’ve made it to the Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning and a couple of Friday evenings even though I couldn’t go to the Wednesday morning markets in September.  I didn’t make it out often to pick berries, but I did get out once to get a couple quarts of blueberries for the freezer.  I’m not making my own sandwich bread, but I have been making homemade loaves three or four nights a week.  

Homemade yogurt

 

 It took a while before I decided that I really did have the time to make yogurt, but in hindsight, that was silly.  Yogurt is so easy; I make a quart or two a week now.  Cheese however, is a completely different story.  Cheese isn’t difficult, but it is intimidating and it takes a long time to make.  

In my mind, I just didn’t feel like I could spend that much time on one project when there are so many other things I could and should do with the time cheese takes.  So what do you do when you go to the grocery store, purchase two gallons of milk and return home to find that you already have two-and-a-half gallons of milk, in your refrigerator??  You do what anyone else would do; start a batch of cheese and a quart of yogurt.  

When I got home from the store with The Milk,  I put away the groceries and started a quart of yogurt.  That barely made a dent; I still had over four gallons of milk left in the fridge.  It was time to make cheese.  Although I’ve been wanting to make cheese for a while (and I finished the last of my feta on the first Dark Days dinner) this wasn’t a cheese made of desire, but one of necessity.  

I got out the giant pot and poured in two gallons of milk.  I turned on the stove and monitored the temperature until it reached 90°.  I put the pot in an ice bath in the kitchen sink and let it cool back down to 86°.  When the milk reached 86° I whisked two tablespoons of Brown Cow plain yogurt into it and let it rest for an hour.  After the milk rested for an hour I mixed 40 drops of vegetable rennet into the milk and left it alone until the next day.  Just like that I had eliminated half the milk in my fridge! 

feta curds

Draining the feta curds.

 

The next day the milk had gelled and the whey had separated from the cheese curd.  I cut the curds with my long bread knife, let them rest for 15 minutes and then drained the whey from the curds.  I hung the curds to drip for the rest of the day and put them in the cheese press.  

feta hanging

Hanging the cheese to separate the whey from the curds.

 

Today I removed the feta from the press, cut it into chunks and put them in mason jars filled with brined whey.  In another day or two I’ll be able to enjoy my own, homemade feta cheese again.  While it takes some time to make cheese from start to finish, it really isn’t that much work.  The recipe is from Dr. Fankhauser at the University of Cincinnati. 

The amazing thing about making cheese is how much whey you have left over when you’re done.  Two gallons of milk yields about six cups of feta cheese and a gallon and a half of whey.  What do you do with all that whey when you’re done making cheese??  Stay tuned to find out! 

Gallon of whey

What do you do with all the whey once the cheese is made?

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What’s for Dinner?

9 Bean Rows at the Mercato

Indoor market at the Mercato

Dark Days have arrived!   When I discovered the Dark Days Challenge at the (not so) Urban Hennery, it seemed a long way off.  I figured I’d have plenty of time to plan and prepare for my first Dark Days Dinner.   It was a lot of time, and I did plan quite a few things.  I even stocked up on some local items at the Farmers’ Market in the Mercato at the Commons and made a practice dinner  last week.  Despite my time for preparation, November rolled around quickly!  

So, what was the first dinner?  Roast cornish game hen from Olds Farm.  I stuffed it with thyme and a garlic clove and sprinkled it with olive oil, salt and pepper before roasting it in the oven.  The broccoli, also from Olds Farm was simply steamed and sprinkled with salt.  The roasted potatoes are redskins from one of the fifty-pund bags of potatoes that I bought at the Downtown Farmers’ Market.  They were drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and tossed with fresh rosemary.  The salad consists of Providence Farm mixed greens, tomatoes from the Mercato and dressing made with my homemade yogurt, homemade feta, garlic, salt and pepper.

Cornish Hen

Cornish Hen, Roasted Potatoes, Salad, Broccoli and Stonehouse Bread.

If you read my prequel post, you know that I’ve been trying to find local flour.  I searched on the internet for a while and came up with some possible sources, but none of them seemed realistic.  Finally, a friend told me about Organic Bean and Grain in Caro, Michigan.  She even arranged for delivery for me so that I wouldn’t have to pay for shipping!  This was a really lucky break; I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make my bread during the challenge.  However, the flour hasn’t arrived yet so I compromised.  The delicious bread you see on the plate is not homemade; it is a ciabbatta loaf from Stonehouse bread.  Dinner was delicious! 

Leelanau Cellars Witches' Brew

Local Libation

To accompany my local dinner, I purchased a bottle of Witches Brew. Witches Brew is a seasonal, spiced red wine made locally. It’s best served warm and smells heavenly.  The spices remind me of fall.  You can warm it in a mug in the microwave in a pinch, but for the best flavor and aroma, it really should be warmed in a saucepan on the stove.

For my prequel dinner, I made dessert to finish off our meal. I planned to make an apple pie today, but a couple of things prevented this. One, my local flour hasn’t arrived yet so I didn’t have any local flour to use for my pie crust or topping. Two, cornish game hens take quite a bit of prep time. By the time I got everything else prepped, there wasn’t much time for dessert. Since I didn’t have adequate time to make a “real” dessert, it’s a good thing I’ve spent so much time making delicious apple creations lately. I decided to pull out one of the jars of spiced apples I canned last weekend to round out our dinner.

So, dessert was a dish of chai-spiced apples.  They were yummy!  The spice was very subtle, but the blend of flavors was good.  I will definitely make more of these.  I think the apple rings would be delicious served warm on vanilla ice cream.  Maybe next week.

Chai Spiced Apple Rings
Not quite dessert, but not dinner either.

Dark Days are here but I think we’ll be just fine.  For the purposes of this challenge, local foods come from withing 150 miles of my home in Traverse City.  However, I’m not counting the miles as driving miles, but miles “as the crow flies”.  My flour, according to Mapquest travels 167 miles to get to me by road.  If I drew a straight line from Traverse City to Caro, the distance would be less than my 150 mile limit.  Sugar from beets also falls within my radius as do honey and syrup.  Other than spices, yeast and oils, I think I can get all the rest of the ingredients I need locally but I’ll let you know if I can’t.   

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Everything but Apple Jacks?

Mid July Share

The bounty from Providence Farm in July

All summer I’d been shopping at the Farmers’ Market.  I picked up my CSA box every Saturday morning and supplemented the box with extra carrots, tomatoes, fruits and whatever else I wanted as it came into season.  I bought peaches, cherries, blueberries and plums when they were in season and I started buying apples in August when the early apples started ripening. 

I have particular farmers that I prefer for particular crops just as you may prefer Heinz ketchup over Del Monte.  My peaches, plums and apples always come from the same place: Tom Brodhagen at Maple Ridge Orchards in Honor, Michigan.  Tom is knowledgeable about his apples and can tell me how long an apple will hold when it is properly stored, how to properly store said apple, and which types of apples are best for which purposes.  He is also environmentally certified and limits his use of toxic chemicals which is important to me.  Plus, when the last week for peaches rolled around and I only had $5 left in my pocket, he let me owe him the difference for the 1/2 bushel I wanted until the next week.  Building relationships with the people who grow my food is important to me.  He knows I won’t screw him over on a half bushel of peaches and I know he won’t screw me over on price, quality or any other aspect of my produce.

I started my love affair with apples by canning quart jars of Gravenstein Apple Pie Filling in August.  As other apples came into season, I flirted with them too.  A half-peck or three at a time I would load them into my wagon and roll them home.  As Honeycrisp apples came into season a half-peck or a peck of apples wasn’t enough anymore; I caught my daughter packing four Honeycrisps into her backpack for lunch and snacks at school one morning and decided drastic measures were required.  I brought home my first half-bushel the next weekend. (Plus a 1/2 peck of Honeycrisp safely hidden away from the eyes of young Gwendolyn.)  Gwen didn’t finish the half-bushel of apples that week, but I brought another home the next Saturday anyway.

Apples loaded into the dehydrator.

Ready to be dried

One weekend, when putting away camping equipment, I found two boxes full of canning jars and, my long-lost dehydrator that had been stored in the garage since we moved in 1998.  A whole new world of possibilities was opened to me!

With the discovery of the dehydrator and 24 more canning jars, apples became something not just to store and have on hand for the winter, but an ingredient to be processed into a final product.  I started dehydrating apples and bought a 1/2 bushel specifically for that.  I wanted to make sauce so bought a 1/2 bushel for that.  Gwen was still eating apples, so I bought a half bushel for that.  Every week I brought home more apples. 

All dried up and no place to go

Delicious dried apples all shrunk down.

I started running the dehydrator about four days a week and day and night on the weekends. Eight to twelve apples fit nicely into the four drying trays.  Six to eight hours later, the apples were dry and the dehydrator was ready to reload.  Plus, the dozen or so apples now fit nicely into a quart jar.  The downside?  Those apples that took me only a few minutes to process but seven hours to dry are consumed by the kids and the hubby in five or ten minutes!!  “They’re like candy!” My husband proclaims as he finishes off another jar.  I can’t seem to dry them as fast as they eat them.  I shouldn’t complain; at least it isn’t candy. 

Dried apple rings

Better than candy!

Well, the Downtown Farmers’ Market ended on Halloween.  I didn’t know who would be heading to the Mercato for the Winter Market, so I stocked up on things I knew I would need.  I picked up a third 50-lb bag of potatoes, a cabbage to make into kraut, a quart of purple potatoes to use as seed potatoes and . . . Two more bushels of apples.  I started with a bushel of Braeburns for drying because my Jonagolds were nearly gone, added a half-bushel of Spy apples for pies and cooking, and rounded out my purchase with a half-bushel of Empires for general eating.  I started making apple chips and apple sauce and even tried spiced apple rings.  

apple rings and chunky sauce

Apple rings and chunky apple sauce~can't wait to try the special jar of Chai-Spiced Apple Rings!

 The link will take you to the recipe, but I always add more cinnamon.  I added about double what it called for and added a whole cinnamon stick to most of the jars.  In one of the jars I added some cardamom, a star anise, a cinnamon stick and a few peppercorns.  I’m hoping it will have a chai-spiced flavor but I didn’t simmer the extra spices in the syrup so I’m not sure how strongly flavored they will be.  It was an experiment, but if they turn out, I think I’ll do a whole batch and simmer the spices in the syrup so the flavors can intensify.

Two weeks later when I decided to take my road trip to Frankfort with Angie and the kids, I still had over a bushel of apples left.  What was my husband going to think when I came home with more apples?  Nothing.  After almost fifteen years, he’s used to my insane whims.  When I returned from the orchard with a cooler full of organic apples plus an extra half bushel, I unloaded my bounty into the back porch and began to surmise the situation.  I had a lot of apples all of a sudden.  It was Friday and I had all weekend so I started a batch of chunky, Ida Red apple sauce from the freshly-picked apples and peeled the rest of the Braeburn apples from the Farmers’ Market to load into the dehydrator; I filled it three times with those slices over the next day and a half.   

Remember that Juiceman Junior I told you about this summer?  As magical as it is, I hate using it because it is such a pain to clean.  But, my son Dylan is no fool and he has a remarkable knack for knowing when to ask for things.  The kitchen was already filled with apples and it’s not like we were running low on them, so how could I tell him no?  We dragged out the juicer and juiced a handful of Ida Reds.  They made the loveliest rose-colored apple juice.  The sight of that lovely apple juice gave me an incredible idea: apple jelly. 

Ida Red apple jelly

The world is more lovely through rose-tinted jelly.

I washed off a sink-full of Ida Reds and started jucing until I had a full quart of pink apple juice.  I brought the juice to a boil, added a package of pectin and five-and-a-half cups of sugar and boiled the whole mess for two minutes.  I poured the boiling jelly into hot jars and set them on the counter until the lids popped.  The jelly is delcious, but a little thinner than I’d like.  For the next batch, I think I’ll decrease the amount of juice a little and add a few drops of cinnamon extract so that it has a nice cinnamon flavor without getting muddied-up with ground cinnamon.  I also plan on doing up a batch of little jars; they’ll be great for Christmas.

Automatic apple slicer thingy

Dylan slicing apples

With all those apples in the porch I thought it was time for more apple sauce.  Normally I prefer chunky applesauce.  It’s super easy if you have one of these handy-dandy peeler/corer/slicer dealies.   Pop the apple on the machine, turn the crank a few times and out comes a peeled, sliced and cored apple.  It’s so easy an eight-year-old can do it.  (But it’s faster if you do it yourself.)  The apple peeler makes all apple products easier.  If you cut off the peel-y ends you can throw the whole apple in a pan for sauce.  Or, you can cut the “slinky” apple down the center and have perfect slices for the dehydrator or pie. 

applesauce in mill

Removing skin is easy with a food mill.

But, if you have Ida Red or Empire apples, you might want to leave the skins on so that you can make beautiful pink applesauce. If you have a food mill, smooth applesauce is a breeze.  I used the peeler to remove the skins and cores from my apples, but I threw the skins into the pan with the apple slices to make a pretty, pink sauce.  Once the apples had cooked down, I scooped them into the foodmill and pressed the sauce through to remove the skins. In the picture below you can see the pretty pink applesauce.  Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t do it justice! 

Ida Red Apple Sauce

Rosy Ida Red apple sauce

My family has been enjoying the fruits of my labors, but they’re not the only ones.  My chickens have only recently decided that compost is a treat.  For the longest time they wouldn’t eat any table scraps.  I had to throw little wild grapes so that the girls would think they were alive before they would even try them.  Finally, after many attempts, a watermelon rind swayed them.  Now, they will gladly eat my kitchen scraps.  This was good news!  While the main reason I got the chickens was to have fresh, free-range eggs, the chickens are part of a larger plan.  Chickens are the perfect green machines; they eat my garbage and turn it into nitrogen-rich fertilizer.   

pounds and pounds of peels

Girls livin' high on the hog.

 Now that they understand the joys of compost, they were quite happy to see me bring them not one, not two, but three #10 cans full of apple peels today.

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Apple Pickin’

Pickin' Apples

Gwendolyn picking apples

After my day home with Gwen yesterday, I was feeling very productive, rested and refreshed.  So, with only a half day of school today, my friend, Angie, and I decided to take a roadtrip in response to this ad:

“Walton’s Orchards has a surplus of Organic Apples available. This fruit will go to waste if no one takes them. Apples are still on the trees, & we don’t have insurance for U-pick, so you will have to let me know what you want. I will pick them with the help of one or two folks, and donations are greatly appreciated. Contact Sarah for more information: 555-555-5555 Sarah Louisignau”
(I changed Sarah’s contact info so that she doesn’t get crazy calls and E-mails all year round, but if you live in Northwest Michigan and want to pick up some apples, send me a comment and I can help you get in touch with her.) 
Ida Red

Dylan picking apples at Walton's

Angie and I loaded the kids, some 1/2 bushel bags and two Coleman coolers into the back of her Subaru wagon and started the 45 minute drive to Frankfort to find the Orchard.  We talked about school, we talked about food, we talked about kids.  We enjoyed the beautiful views of Northern Michigan on a lovely autumn day that seemed more like a late summer day, and we listened to the kids talk, sing, and argue from the back seat. 
Walton's Orchard

Kids in the orchard on a beautiful fall day

When we finally got to the farm we were amazed by how lovely the trees, bare of leaves and full of fruit, looked. 

Little guy pickin' apples

Big J in the orchard picking apples.

The farm isn’t insured as a U-pick farm, but as Sarah’s guests we were able to help her pick apples.  Each of the kids got a basket lined with a plastic 1/2 bushel bag and Angie and I strapped on the picking harnesses.  (I’m sure they have a different name; if you know, please share.)  I wish I would have taken a picture of the harness contraptions; they’re really genius.  In about an hour we picked over four bushels of Ida Red and Golden Delicious apples between us.  Each of us went home with a cooler FULL of apples and I had two, half-filled, half-bushel bags of apples on top of that. 

Over a bushel of apples

Freshly picked apples (It was full when I brought it home; I've been busy!)

It was a wonderful afternoon spent with people I love and Sarah was happy to see the apples being used instead of wasted.  Wait ’til you see what I’m doing with all those apples!!

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