Wednesday, November 18, 2009
For Columbus Day weekend, I went to visit my parents in Vermont with one mission in mind – apple picking! The Kitchen Genius and our daughter Julie both had to work, so it was just Tommy, Little Miss Sadie Beans (who traveled quite well in her crate), and me.
My brother Rich and his family, who live in upstate New York, met us up there for a weekend of good food and good times. The sun was shining brightly all weekend - perfect for our purposes, but all wrong for photos, so please excuse the sun spots, etc. To set the mood for this story...here is my Mom and Tom's house:
You can pick apples at orchards all over Vermont, but I was in full foraging mode by that point and while we were driving around looking at the gorgeous foliage, I saw some trees just loaded with wild apples.
Now why would I pay for apples when they were there for the taking for free? As soon as we got home from our drive, I grabbed my step-father’s apple picker out of the woodshed and my Mom and I headed right back out.
On a deserted road with no houses in sight, we found a tree with red apples and one with yellow apples almost side by side. I sampled both and decided the red ones had a lot more flavor.
So I got to work.
It only took a few minutes to fill my bushel basket.
The apples were too small to spend the time peeling and coring them, but they were fine for apple jelly because you strain the seeds and skins. I quartered them up and into the pot they went.
After I cooked them down, I still didn’t have enough juice to make a batch of jelly, but I noticed another apple tree just down the road. It was on a steep hill so it wasn’t easy picking. Luckily my parent’s neighbor Ken Grimm saw what I was trying to do and came over to tell me I was free to pick as many apples as I wanted on his beautiful property.
Even little Sadie got into the action. She found an apple in my parents’ yard from one of their trees. At first she thought it was a ball…but then she realized it was FOOD. Yep, she loved the apple.
On the way home Tommy and I stopped at Alyson’s Orchard in Walpole, New Hampshire where they have 50 acres of orchards and grow every variety of apples I’ve ever heard of, and then some. I bought a bushel bag of enormous Cortland apples (because you can never have enough apples).
By the time I was finished with all those apples, I had canned applesauce, apple jelly and apple pie jam (which tastes just like apple pie filling and is a new family favorite). I also made two pies and a loaf of Oatmeal Apple Bread from a recipe my dear friend Jennifer shared with me. It took about 10 minutes to throw all the ingredients in my bread machine and this bread is simply heavenly. It’s even better the next day as toast slathered with some of the apple pie jam.
It's so good, I’ve made it three times already. This scarecrow photo is for Jennifer in thanks for such a fabulous recipe. Check out the apple in her hand!
Oatmeal Apple Bread
(adapted from a recipe by Mary Ann McKenna)
3/4 cup apple cider
1 cup chopped apples ( I pulsed about four times in food processor)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup oatmeal (Bob’s Red Mill old fashioned rolled oats)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon yeast
Put all ingredients into bread machine and set for basic bread, large loaf. Yes, it's that simple.
Apple Pie Jam
4 cups peeled, cored and finely chopped (in a food processor) apples (I used Cortland)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon butter
1 box powdered fruit pectin
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine apples, lemon juice, butter and pectin in a large Dutch oven pan. Bring to a full boil, then add sugar and cinnamon. Return to a boil and boil hard for 1 1/2 minutes (Mississippi one, Mississippi two…), stirring constantly. Skim off foam and pour into hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe rims with clean, damp paper towel and cover with lid and screw band. Process in hot water bath for 10 minutes.