Tag Archives: Apples

Fall Bucket List

Have you ever made a fall bucket list? I feel like I make one every year, whether I write it down or not. Fall is, of course, my favorite season. I am so obsessed with fall that I have an organized section on my video shelf that I understand to be “fall mood movies.” I eat pumpkin year-round, and I daydream about what to do the coming fall once January hits every year.

Last year, my bucket list consisted of things like, visit a corn maze (check), drink pumpkin ale (check—but still don’t like beer), and read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Legend of Rip Van Winkle (started but didn’t finish. Is it just me or is Washington Irving painfully wordy?!). Some things, though, did not get finished and were moved to this year’s list. In this case, apple picking!

This past weekend, John and I visited our local apple orchard (Apple Country Orchards) for their annual Apple Butter Festival (sadly, Edgar had to work and could not join us). It was really just a small arts and crafts festival, but the real fun was walking through the orchards, bag or bucket in hand, picking your own apples (which can be done any day, really).

 

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The weather was perfect! We had a small cool front move through the panhandle that day, which provided a lovely, breezy snap in the air that truly invites feelings of early fall.

 

One of the things I learned on this trip was to not be so hard on myself that we have apple tree in our back yard, and even though many apples grew from them, bugs and/or birds got to them the MOMENT they were ripe, so a good percentage of them aren’t any good. Walking through the orchard made me realize that this is completely normal!

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We tried to make sure we got a good variety of apples. Apple Country Orchards raises a variety of trees so that at any given time of the year, SOMETHING is in season.

 

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In the end, we came home with ten pounds of apples between us, plus some raw apple cider (which I may or may not attempt to ferment into hard cider. It’s on my fall bucket list for this year!), and apple butter. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of apples we obtained, John and I spend yesterday evening baking up apple chips, baked stuffed apples, and Martha Stewart’s Apple-Butternut Squash soup.

This soup is pretty fantastic. It has a little spiciness that warms the back of your throat in the most comforting way possible. I won’t type out the recipe here since I followed the original pretty much to the letter, so I’ll just refer you to this link. I highly recommend you try it this fall.

 

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All these recipes and we still have 45 apples left! Do you have any suggestions for apple recipes? Also, what is on your fall bucket list?

Making Friends out of Former Enemies

 

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Have you ever hated a certain food only to find you like it later? That’s been my case with things like mushrooms, raw tomatoes, and red wine.

I really feel that in order to say you don’t like something, you must try it in a variety of different preparations and flavor combinations before making a judgment. This has led me to conclusions that I just don’t like raw broccoli, but I loved it steamed, roasted or grilled! I love fresh mushrooms sauteed in butter, but not served out of a can. I like cucumber in gazpacho, but not chopped up in a salad or in tabbouleh. Or celery diced fine and stewed slowly in soup or dressing, but never, ever served raw!

Which leads me to this recipe I found in my most recent issue of Z-Life (a magazine I receive as a member of the Zumba Instructor Network).

Beet and Apple Salad.

First, I will share with you my first former enemy.

Beets.

Omg.

I have tried so many times to love beets. But every time it just tastes like I’m eating dirt. Red beets, golden beets, roasted, pickled (ew), doesn’t matter. Dirt.

But every time I prepare them I find I sort of like them even more. I can’t say that I love them, but they have found a place in my life. I will continue to prepare them in different ways and find, every time, that I like them a little more. This recipe is one of those that makes me like beets even more. Perhaps one day I’ll be a beet-a-holic?! That will be the day I make borscht.

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Beet and Apple Salad with Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette
Adapted from Z-Life
Serves 2-4

3 small beets (I used golden)
Oregano
1 apple (I used fuji. Ignore the fact that there are two apples in the pic. Unless you want more apple—then go for it!)
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

 

First, peel the beets. I used a paring knife, and because I used golden beet instead of red, I didn’t look like a murder victim from CSI. But if red suits you, go for it.

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Then, slice the beets into half-moon slices. Wrap up in parchment paper (I used this method) with a sprinkle of oregano and roast for 20-30 minutes or until tender (I just shove a toothpick through the parchment and gauge the texture from there).

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Very quickly dump the beets into a bowl of water and ice and leave there for about 30 seconds. Some people call this “shocking” and it’s typically used to halt cooking and preventing green things from turning brown. I did it because I wanted my beets chilled when I mixed them with the apples. If you want warm beets with cool apples, omit this “shocking” step (hurr hurr).

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Slice apple into thin half-moon-ish slices. I use this manner of slicing.

Mix beets with apples. Then gently mix in the pistachios and the dressing. Serve and enjoy!

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This brings us to the second previously-hated item.

Mustard.

I have for many years proclaimed my disdain for mustard. My friends and I even have a year-long joke currently running where they will hide small packets of mustard in our house after we made the proclamation last year that we “are not a mustard family.” My disfavor came from the awful stench of mustard and the radioactive yellow shade of the French’s style I was exposed to growing up. However, to be frank, I’d never actually eaten it. But lately as I was reading over the ingredients on the bottle of my favorite store-bought dressing (Brianna’s Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette), I realized that what made this dressing “creamy” and gave it a certain depth of flavor that couldn’t be found in regular oil + vinegar concoctions was the mustard. After doing much soul-searching, I bought a small bottle of Grey Poupon and vowed to start with baby steps. And that first baby step, this dressing, is a major success!

Creamy Ginger Vinaigrette

1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger (I used World Market brand, which amazingly tastes exactly like a real root of ginger! Not many powdered varieties capture that sweet-spicy-citrusy taste)
salt + pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small jar or bowl and whisk well.

 

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Are there any foods you hated growing up that you now love?

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