We've had so many things we've been wanting to get to lately that I casually threw out the idea of skipping our annual trip to Apple Hill, only to hear, "Aww. But we always go." It was C, my 17 year old, and you have no idea how hearing this warmed my heart.
This is how we get ready for our favorite fall day trip: we load a cooler in the trunk
pack sandwiches and audiobooks
and try to remember to keep the car door closed when loading.
What's changed over the years is the time that we leave. When the kids were small, we could head off first thing in the morning. These days...well, you work with what you've got.
Apple Hill has more than just apples.
There's a variety of fall produce, including pears
You can pick apples, yes, but you can also take short hikes on trails that some of the farms have made through their properties, pick pumpkins, browse handmade crafts, fish from stocked ponds, look at the Larsen family antiques, and listen to loud Bavarian polka music while eating sauerkraut. On weekends you can watch the cider presses and apple processing machines in action.
This year, with our late start and Game One of the World Series due to begin at 5, we opted for a pared-down drive along the scenic roads with stops at a few favorite farms. We always pick up some microbrew for D at Jack Russell Brewery
and visit Grandpa's Cellar for the special pies.
Yesterday it rained all day so the three of us pared, cored and sliced a box of Granny Smiths, tossed them with lemon juice,
and put them in ziploc bags to freeze.
Sometime this winter there come be a day so cold and rainy, we will not want to leave the house. On that day, we'll slip the contents of one of our bags into an oven, fill the house with the scent of warm baking fruit and cinnamon, and feel instantly cheered again.
Apple Crisp Topping (simplified from Baking Illustrated)
6 Tbs flour
1/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 c coarsely chopped nuts
Process first 6 ingredients in a food processor just to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture looks like dry sand, then cornmeal. Add nuts, then process again in a few brief pulses.
Distribute evenly over apples and cook at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking until fruit is bubbling and topping turns deep golden brown.